Friday, October 24, 2014

The Blogger Girls...Review of One Indulgence: "...the chemistry between Henry and Richard was spot on."

A New Review of One Indulgence from:

Full Review by Heather C., October 24th, 2014: Click Here

  • "It should have been hard for me to believe that Henry and Richard loved each other after only one night together and with all the mistrust, but somehow the author made me believe it.  I’m such a sucker."
      I want to thank The Blogger Girls and Heather C. in particular for giving my first shot at published writing, One Indulgence, the time of day. I appreciate the honest criticism and can't tell you how happy I am that you liked it. Hope to see more reviews of my stuff--since that will mean I wrote more stuff ;)--from you guys in the future =D. 
~ Lydia Gastrell

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Boring Reasons for Using Pseudonyms


     The Boring Reasons For Using Pseudonyms

     I just finished reading a pretty shocking essay all about the topic of pen names, anonymity, and the importance of being able to separate your online life from your "real life". Why would anyone use a fake name? You hear that question a lot, usually mixed with "I bet they wouldn't write bad reviews if they had to use their real names," or "Who cares about the opinion of a phony, anyway?" We all know there are many reasons people use fake names, and we tend to focus on the most obvious and extravagant reason: protection. We don't want to be stalked or harassed in our real lives. There are crazies out there, people who won't just dislike a book, but who will hate it, who will--for whatever bizarre reason that exists in their heads--take the things they don't like personally. Then there is the flip side of this, the author who just can't stand that you didn't like his book and who decides he is going to argue with you about it, or worse. Self protection is the most important reason people use pseudonyms, to be sure, but there are also other reasons why someone would choose to use a "made up" name online, especially as a writer.

1) Politics: Let's face it. Politics are nasty. In this day and age, if you don't agree with someone on every political issue, you are quite likely to be labeled "one of them" and find yourself summarily black-listed. "Oh, you're thinking of reading one of HER books? I heard she supported [fill in the blank]...." A person's politics don't even need to be loud or explicit. It can take as little as an out-of-context screenshot of a Facebook comment somewhere and, before you know it, you're receiving demands to "explain" yourself. Let's not even get into the fact that campaign contributions are a matter of public record. If you know someone's real name and the county in which they live, there are apps that will tell you exactly how much that person donated and to which candidate they donated. Imagine seeing that in a Goodreads review, i.e. "Don't read any of So-and-So's books! She gave money to What's-his-Face!" 

This can also take the form of PC harassment (Yes, the so-called tolerant can be very intolerant when they think you aren't being tolerant enough. Say that three times fast). No adult likes to be scolded like a child, pulled aside by the arm and told that they "shouldn't have said that" or, worse, that they "need to apologize." Them's fightin' words.

(From my personal experience, I was once taken to task because a response I had written online featured the third person "him" as a generic substitute for a hypothetical. The alternative is to write "him/her" every time, or to use the singular "one" and end up sounding like Queen Elizabeth. Until English gets a gender-less, third person singular pronoun, we're kind of stuck. In this particular instance, my defense of using the generic "him" got me labeled a--let's see if I can remember--a "patriarchy brainwashed idiot". Yes, that's something I would rather NOT have follow me to my writing career, lol. 

2)Common Name: The issue of politics still sort of falls into the realm of protecting yourself, but what about something as simple as having a common name? If you're a writer or any kind of artist who is trying to make a brand of yourself, having a common name can make that nearly impossible. For instance, my real name, including the middle name, is shared by at least sixteen other people with significant online presences, and many more off-line, I'm sure. And several of them are underage. That isn't even that common. Some of us will get dozens of name match hits on Facebook alone (Smith? Gonzalez? Miller?). This is even more of a problem if there is already a published author out there who shares your real name or something close to it. Why go through the hassle of trying to make "a name" for yourself when your name is John Smith? Talk about a futile endeavor.

3) You Hate Your Name: Maybe your parents thought they were being clever when they named you Percival, and even more so when your last name is Merciful. Or maybe it isn't that your name is embarrassing or silly or whatever other hangup you have with it...maybe it's just strange. Guicciardi is a beautiful surname, if you can manage to pronounce it correctly, and spell it correctly, and fit it onto your ebook cover art without making it 10 pt. font. If you haven't noticed, some search engines are VERY unforgiving with spelling errors. 
"Oh! You can't spell this thing exactly right? Oh, well! Too bad! No book for you!" 
~ Sincerely, the search engines on Goodreads and Smashwords.  
     We also should acknowledge that even the most tolerant among us still have those ingrained "reactions" to things that have stereotypes, and names don't escape this. A woman named Candy will struggle to be taken seriously all her life, no matter what. A man named Ezekiel will have to explain that he is not devoutly religious to pretty much everyone until his dying day, because that name just makes people assume that he is. 

     And sometimes, we just want a name that sounds better. Many actors change their names early in their careers in order to make them more memorable, more flowing. There is, apparently, a science to this. Some name combination just work better to the human ear *See Name Nerds - Rhythm .For whatever reason, some people just don't like their real names, and that's just fine. It's their business. 

4) Pre-Established Name: This reason is probably less common, but still happens. In this instance, your real name is already noteworthy for something else and you just don't want to "mix media" so to speak. I know an indie published author of gay romance who is a pretty well known museum curator, with many editor credits for exhibition books very popular in their genre under her belt. It isn't that she is embarrassed or trying to "hide" her fiction's just that she doesn't want the two very different fields of her work to overlap and cause confusion. There are still people today who are confused every time they pick up a Stephen King novel and it isn't horror. Sometimes, people can only attach one limited reputation to a single name. 

     So, the whole point of all this is that people need to relax about the fake name issue (hear that, Facebook?). The simple fact is the vast majority of us will never meet or never personally know the people we interact with online, so what difference does it make if we know their real names or not? And even if we do meet them in real life, is it even necessary then? Is the author you geek out over and always wanted to meet any less talented, funny, kind, or anything else just because you STILL don't know what's written on their birth certificates? Get over it! =P 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: His Fair Lady, by Kimberly Gardner

His Fair Lady, by Kimberly Gardner 

Loose-Id: April, 2014.

Blurb, via Goodreads

[Mark Talleo is something of a dog with the ladies. Any girl, anytime, anywhere is his motto until he meets Josie Frazier. The long lean redhead not only shares his love of musical theatre, but her smoky sexy voice and infectious laugh drive Mark wild and haunt his every step. Equally fascinating is his sense that she has a secret, one he is determined to uncover on his way to becoming her leading man.

Josie does have a secret, one she guards with her whole self. Although she has always known she was female, her name used to be Joey and she's still biologically male. As much as she yearns for love and acceptance, her fear of rejection is just as strong.

Mark's need to know the truth is matched only by Josie's need to hide it. But when malicious gossip reveals her deepest secret the price of honesty may turn out to be too high to pay. But if each can accept that the woman he wants is the woman she is then at last he may find His Fair Lady.]


I loved this story. It is a short novel (though not a novella) that moves quickly and is heavy on dialogue. This is the first book I've read featuring a transgender relationship, and even though I have very little to go on by any personal experience, I still came away feeling that it was quite realistic. You could really sense Josie's fear and panic about being "found out" and drawing attention to herself, and I also felt that the reticence of her mother was another good mark of realism. The mother is supportive, but still has that hesitation and the "maybe you should just keep to yourself" mindset about Josie having relationships. Too often in stories like these, authors will make stark divides between those who support and MC and those who do not, ignoring the very real--and far more common--gray area that tends to exist, especially with parents. As to the plot, there is that delicious tension and suspense that comes with the sure knowledge that something bad is going to happen. You don't want it to happen (we love Josie and are rooting for her!), yet the plot driven reader will still appreciate the conflict, =). 

If I have any complaints, it would be that I felt the story lacked detail on the characters. In other words, I would have liked MORE, which is hardly a negative, right? =D Also, I suppose I was a bit frustrated that the subplot was not further explored (I do like it when villains get their comeuppance), but that's just me showing my aggressive side, lol. His Fair Lady is a tense, absorbing story, and I highly recommend it. 
~ Lydia Gastrell

His Fair Lady, by Kimberly Gardner is available at:
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