#MondayBlogs: the difference between a pen name and a false identity. Kathryn Perez, a case study #amwriting #LGBT

#MondayBlogs: the difference between a pen name and a false identity. Kathryn Perez, a case study #amwriting #LGBT

When authors take their “pen name” to criminal lengths…

Dear Kathryn!

Can I call you Kathryn? I know you prefer to be addressed as Byron Rider these days, but for now I’ll just call you Kathryn, Kathryn Perez. I know you’ve written some het books under the pen name Cait Perez, there’s even a website (for now) with all your personal pictures, including your full name and address. You don’t have to take the site down. We have screen shots of it all. So far so good. You then decided to write M/M books. That is fine. You’re NOT the only one, far from it.

But you couldn’t just take a pen name and run with it, like so many of my friends. You couldn’t just settle for a pen name that was gender ambiguous, no, you went all out, for a male pseudonym. That’s fine, too, some of my female author friends did that, too. But you took it several steps further:

You “stole” images and pretended for them to be you (from the BBC, including in the one video that is still on YouTube), from Kevin Spacey until you finally, a couple of days ago, went all out, painted a beard on your face and recorded a video with a distorted male voice. That video has since been removed. But many of us have screen captures.

This face isn’t yours. It’s what a man from Dundee, Scotland would look like if he was made up from all men there. Source: BBC

Why would anyone photoshop a picture of actor Kevin Spacey and pretend to be that person? Why? Kathryn, only you know why! I doubt Kevin would be pleased, if he knew…







Finally, the real you, with those glasses we know so well from the “real” you, Kathryn:

Rule #1 in deception & impersonation: take off your glasses, Kathryn!

To paint a beard on your face (in case you forgot, the inset picture is from your deleted YouTube video), hide your bangs and your long hair under a baseball cap and wearing your husband Hector’s shirt won’t cut it.

Now, you may wonder why I’m so invested in your case. Allow me to explain. I have no qualms with authors using pen names, quite the contrary. I understand, as a real gay man, what discrimination means. I know the price of being gay, of your books not being sold in mainstream stores, of readers not picking up your books because “but I’m not gay…” (I can only imagine what my teachers would’ve said if I’d refused to read Shakespeare with the words “but I’m not straight!”) Not that I’m as good as Shakespeare, just saying.

I understand that many of the men & women writing in the LGBT space are not out to their families, places of work or their congregations, and they know what would happen if they did. I also understand that there are many other reasons to have a pen name, the simplest one being: because I want to. That is fine, too.

As an author, I am also intimately aware that we want to distance ourselves from our books, our characters. And I understand that readers, reviewers and literary researchers try to look for “us”, our essence, in our work. I understand that, too. Not that I think it’s right, or even necessary, but it is what it is. I’ve written about both pen names, and our right to be anonymous.

No, you’re not a MAN, No, you’re not a GAY MAN, no, it was not a rumor, and by Jove I hope you have more respect for your husband Hector than you showed him by making him look like an imbecile who doesn’t speak English…

But what you do, dear Kathryn, is different. You pretend to be a man, not just by name, you also chose the male pronoun on your (once again deleted Facebook profiles), unlike the honest authors. You posted this (image to the right) on Facebook when people realized you were fake, a fraud:

But no Kathryn, you’re clearly not a man. You’re clearly not gay. You are married to Hector Perez and you have a lovely daughter. Now, I can’t be sure that you’re not a trans person deep inside, but that is an entirely different animal. If you were, you probably wouldn’t go to such lengths to lie about who you are and basically paint what amounts to a trans “blackface” on you. I have trans friends, and I know of their pain, their suffering, and I can tell you that the trans friends who’ve learned about you are as appalled and disturbed by your behavior as your straight (former) fans/readers, and the authors in the LGBT space.

Byron Rider is dead, or not? Like Jesus “he”‘s risen from the grave.

Sadly, your deception goes further. In a hissy fit after my original post a couple of months ago, you faked your death. Yes, you died, online, for everyone to see, and you posted an obituary, complete with fake ID’s and stolen images. Do you understand that this constitutes identity theft? Do you realize this is illegal?

From what I understand, you are a teacher at a small community college in Houston, you live in Pasadena, TX. This information is publicly available on your website and your LinkedIn profile.

Although, do you really hold a PhD like you claim on LinkedIn? Your employer seems to disagree on their official page on you. A master’s degree is no PhD Kathryn. Seems you pathological lying extends into your profession, too? If I had a doctorate in philosophy, I’d want that to be reflected on my school’s website… Just saying.

The image you stole if that of a fellow teaching colleague of yours. Does he know? What does he say about this? What does the college think that you manipulate their staff ID’s? That you abuse their name to further your sick plotting and to fake your death?

To fake your death the way you did is probably not a breach of the law itself, but boy is it stupid. And to die and resurrect? Yes, there are many deaths (another one of your amazing lies), but you are no Jesus my friend. Quite the contrary. Thou shalt not lie!

But that’s not it, is is? In my original post about you, I asked about your books. I have never read a Byron Rider or Cait Perez book. But you published more than ten books in less than a month, more than twenty in eleven months, and I think the question is valid: when and how did you write this much? Aren’t you a teacher?

More than that: most authors can’t wait to publish their books ASAP. Nothing is more painful than having to wait for months and years to see them out. Besides, you lose income, which I understand from a now deleted blog post, is very important to you. I don’t know if you plagiarized those books, but given that everything else about you is fake? The question must be asked. Your covers, not the most artistic ones I’ve seen, are easier to check. I don’t have the time to go through all your books, but someone at Amazon should, because I’ve found this cover of yours:

This is one of your covers, right? And the image is taken straight from a screen shot of a room used in the movie Fifty Shades of Gray.

You do understand that this picture is taken from a movie? All I had to do was do an image search to find the results. Anybody can do that. Do you have the rights to use it? Do you pay royalties to the rights owners of Fifty Shades of Gray?

Having been in the publishing industry for many years, I find it difficult to believe. Given how tacky and amateurish your covers generally are, I doubt you’ll pay potentially thousands of dollars to use such a picture. Provided the makers of a straight BDSM movie would even want to be associated with the author of gay writing… As a gay man, my real-life experience is that they probably wouldn’t. Who wants “a million moms” boycotting their picture?

You do understand that “downloading” images from Google to use in your artwork is illegal? What about your other covers?

Unfortunately, only the people at the studio who hold the copyright can ask Amazon to take action, but someone should look at all your book covers, and double check the actual stories, to see where those images and the texts came from. Maybe someone who reads this knows someone at Amazon?

I’m sure you think this is unfair, you probably feel persecuted. Welcome to the life of being LGBT, a world you don’t seem to understand, at all. Your political views, legitimate of course, as a fervent Trump supporter, puts you at odds with the LGBT community and our allies, a community you try to make money from; therefore you have to accept to be questioned. Just like Milo Yiannopoulos. You remember what happened to him…

On your website you titled yourself “gay lifestyle author”. Dear Kathryn, being gay is not a lifestyle. It’s not a choice, like choosing a criminal lifestyle, but I understand that you don’t understand that. I cannot not be gay, as little as an ostrich can take flight. I’m still human, the ostrich still a bird, but we have no choice. The one person who has a choice, is you.

If you wish to continue to write M/M books, you’re welcome to do so. But here are a couple of tips:

  • apologize. You’ve hurt so many people, from readers to authors!
  • stay away from stolen imagery, for yourself or your covers
  • ask a proper cover designer to help you, get editors and proof readers to polish your work
  • don’t fake being a man, heart attacks and deaths. It’s illegal and you hurt the feelings of many in the trans community, not to mention you insult the intelligence of  the people you expect to read your books.
  • don’t fake IDs (you’re faculty, not a student, and at 55, old enough to buy booze)
  • don’t threaten authors and readers. That’s generally a bad idea. We are a small community, and most of us know each other, or we certainly know someone who does knows. You can’t hide.

Are you a joke? Given how amateurish you act (your real name and residential address online for everyone to see, the idiotic parody with the painted beard and slow-play video to “fix” the voice), I’ve asked myself the question if this is all a big hoax, you know like the documentary with a loony Joaquin Phoenix. Yet I wonder, given your many mistakes, are you smart enough? Are you ill?

You know, and as a psychologist you should know this, sometimes people do bad things so badly, because they secretly are crying for help, they want to be found out. Is that you Kathryn? If so, I hope that someone contacts your employer, the San Jacinto College in Houston, where you teach – how ironic – psychology… As a father I am concerned that someone who clearly isn’t well, is teaching our children. They may be adults, but yeah, they’re still vulnerable at that tender age of eighteen, nineteen… Do they know about all the sick things you’ve done? Does your college support your views? Does Dr. Brenda Hellyer know? Maybe she should? I’m sure there is a policy of honesty and integrity as a faculty member there.

Personally, I have nothing to gain from exposing you. Quite the contrary. This is taking up far too much of my time, and the time of countless others. But I have no choice. You are hurting my friends, and my community, and you are a blemish, a shame for LGBT literature, and all those authors who work their asses off to get published, combining day jobs and writing at night. You’re hurting readers who’ve purchased your books in the honest belief you were who you said you were, Byron Rider.

I don’t sell a single extra book because of this, quite the contrary. All of us authors are risking to sell less, because how do people know who’s genuine and who’s fake? You’re not the first catphishing author, Kathryn, and most likely not the last fraud either. I love my industry, and the amazing stories we produce, stories that empower young LGBT youths to see that there is real hope for them, hope of happiness later in life, stories that empower men, women, trans, gender fluid and agender persons around the world to be the best human beings they can be. I am proud of what we do! Finally, a big thank you to all those who’ve contributed to this post, through research etc. No one mentioned, no one forgotten. I know who you are. Thanks!

So please, Kathryn, go get help! If not for my sake, or the sake of the tight-knit LGBT writing/reading community, get help for the sake of your husband Hector, and your daughter Angela. They deserve a healthy, happy spouse and mother, don’t you think?

Have a wonderful week,

Hans M Hirschi, gay man & author of gay fiction

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A hectic week comes to an end: aspects of an author’s life… #amwriting (not) #asmsg

A hectic week comes to an end: aspects of an author’s life… #amwriting (not) #asmsg

This hectic week has one lesson for us, but you better read it to learn what it is!

My week started great! I’ve begun work on a secret project (so no info about it) and I met with some awesome people who really energized me. But you know what it’s like when you work hard: come evening you feel like an empty sponge! By nine p.m. I felt like a body bag with a beating heart, that’s how exhausted I was.

Birthdays are special days, and for once he got to use his “screen” during dinner… Sscha’s 4th birthday.

After that meeting, I had to buy us a new fridge, as our old one was on its last leg. And if you read my customer service post from that day, you’ll know just how difficult that proved to be. Tuesday was my son’s fourth birthday and it turned out to be a mentally hectic day. I have been proof-reading Last Winter’s Snow one more time and passed on my comments to the publisher. My editor also worked through things one more time, and I’m really pleased with the final product. We’ve both worked hard on it, along with a bunch of others.

At this stage in the publication cycle I’m always exhausted, mentally, and I’m almost at the point where I’m like “can’t this just be bloody over soon?” There are two more weeks to release day needed to print the books and get the e-book files to retailers in time so I’ll have plenty of time to recoup. Come release day, I’ll naturally be very nervous again. As befits a book release.

My husband came back early from work and we finally got a chance to sit down, have cake, sing for our big boy and watch as he tore through his presents. He seemed pleased with the outcome. I can’t believe it’s been four years already. Time goes by so quickly, and no, I don’t need any parentsplaining about making the most of every minute. I, if anyone, is fully aware just how quickly he’s growing… LOL

The new fridge is in place. I hope it’ll last as long as the last one, fifteen years.

Wednesday was fridge delivery day, and yeah, that went really well! NOT. So rather than driving it out here by ferry as I had ordered (and paid for), I had to organize for a local company to help me out. Luckily they were able to take on his last minute job and after I had gone to town for a lunch with friends, I had to rush home to help them get the new fridge into the house and the old one out. By the time Alex and Sascha were home, I was in that bodybag zone again. Exhausted. Oh, yeah, I also recorded this week’s segment from the author cave, edited and uploaded that. It’s all about sex and nudity and the age old question: “why?” Do authors really have to get undressed to sell books? Check it out. It’s quite funny and you might even get to see my tits!

Yesterday saw me work some more on my secret project and work some more on the proofs from my editor. She’s so meticulous. Unbelievable. I’ve been to town every day except Tuesday and even though it’s a beautiful journey, it takes time. Twenty-five minutes to the mainland and then another twenty minutes to a half hour into the city. Twice a day (four times today), that adds up. I also got to spend hours on the phone, with our city’s environmental agency and the police, as my moronic & criminal convict of a neighbor decided to once again illegally burn trash on his property, and since the garden stuff was too moist he helped it along with gasoline. 30 ft from a preschool and kids! I was livid.

It’s finally spring in Gothenburg and I took this picture just an hour ago, on the way home from the mainland. I have another trip to do today. No matter how hectic a day, this will calm you down.

Add a couple of calls with regards to my MIL and the sale of her house and the day was gone. Today we had to get up early. Alex had to catch a train to Stockholm for meetings and we took the kid so he could watch the trains come and go at the station. He’s that age… Afterwards to took him to school before I went grocery shopping, had breakfast and had meetings. I just got home a half hour ago. I already feel like bodybag, but alas, at 4 pm, I go to town again, to pick up the kid from school and bring him home. Then dinner and a movie before it’s bedtime for the little one (and me, I’m convinced!)

This has been a crazy hectic week and I haven’t written anything. The final proofing of Last Winter’s Snow, getting

Don’t miss to download The Fallen Angels of Karnataka for free, to get you in the spirit for Last Winter’s Snow and it’s April 6 release.

some marketing in place for it (including this GREAT Instafreebie of The Fallen Angels of Karnataka to remind people of my writing), checking on progress of the Family Ties audiobook, currently headed to retail, but I haven’t seen it there yet, so I guess the release post is due Monday. It’s difficult to write when you’re so absorbed in something else and I haven’t really had the mental time to focus on my current WIP. But I’ll get there. I better. Odd, come April 5th, we need to submit our blog posts for GRL in late October, and I don’t even know yet what my fall release will be called or ultimately be about. Hard to blog about it for a blog tour… Alas, it’s part of the process, and it needs to be followed.

Now, let me ask you a question: does this hectic week look familiar to you? I have a hunch that if you replaced the “author” aspect with customer rep or teacher or mechanic, most people’s weeks look pretty much the same. I often get these starry eyed looks from readers, looking at me as if I’m some demigod constantly bogged down in my writing cave. Alas, I’m no different than any other professional, juggling family life, work and what little free time we have left. Biggest difference is that I often work from home.

With that, at the end of another hectic week, I wish you a great weekend. Hope to see you again Monday!

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Customer service: when companies get the simple things horribly wrong #customerservice @LGNordic @LGElectronics @TeliaSverige

Customer service: when companies get the simple things horribly wrong #customerservice @LGNordic @LGElectronics @TeliaSverige

Two recent examples of completely failed customer service. Mistakes that just shouldn’t happen

I’m a consumer. I also own a business, and as a consultant and in my work in big corporations, I’ve always felt that good customer service is the trademark of a great company. Here are two recent examples of just how horribly wrong things can go when companies get the basics wrong. Customer service isn’t just about being polite to customers, particularly not when you basically tell them to “go fuck yourself”. Customer service is about making doing business with you as easy as possible. Whatever internal procedures you have shouldn’t matter to the customer, ever.

Recently, we had an optic fiber drawn to our house. Six months late, due to the difficult topographic reality on our island, but we finally got the small fiber cable drawn into our house and a couple hours later, we were online. Faster than ever before.

Total failure from Telia. Customer service reps dressed so badly they don’t dare facing customers and blaming customers for internal firewalls. #facepalm

But it wasn’t an easy process. Several years ago, before fiber was on the menu, I was looking for a faster connection for us. The only thing available and that would guarantee us a certain speed was a corporate deal. Telia, Sweden’s state controlled telecommunication giant would not sell guaranteed speeds to households, and at slow speeds, you wouldn’t be able to watch TV online or stream movies.

We were forced into an expensive corporate agreement. Six months ago, when the fiber installation (to us as as consumers and owners of the house) was imminent, I was contacted Telia to sell me their solutions. Naturally, I asked when I’d have to cancel my DSL to avoid having to pay for TWO services from the same company when I only really needed one. I’ve always been up front and open, and to make sure things would go smoothly, I chose their solution right there and then in September for our fiber cable, even though many other suppliers are significantly cheaper, and 250 Mbits/s really is the same, no matter who invoices you for it.

Last week, when things were finally ready, I hit a wall. Suddenly, consumer and business were separated by firewalls and one would not assume responsibility for the other, and I was asked to talk to this and that department, constantly forwarded, ending up in long queues on the phone. It took me a good two hours of explaining, complaining and nagging to get out of my contract next month, something I had been promised last fall would be “easy” and “of course”. But I guess that girl just wanted to make her sales quota. As a customer, I don’t care how Telia is organized. I don’t care what department I deal with. All I care about is that the name of the company is the same. They better solve their internal issues where they belong: internally. Don’t blame the consumer, the customer (no matter whether they are corporate or a consumer). Yesterday, my neighbor, who got his fiber the same day, visited Telia’s store downtown to make his selection. The sales person in the store had no clue what fiber was or how to select services, so instead, he mentioned that he’d talk to a colleague from customer service who was in a small back office behind the store. He emerged a few minutes later explaining that she couldn’t come out to talk to my neighbor because – hear this – she wasn’t dressed for it! Instead, they asked my neighbor to e-mail or call her, even though she sat feet away from him!   I rest my case. #facepalm

The second example is even more “crazy”. When we renovated our house fifteen years ago, we bought a side-by-side fridge/freezer from LG Electronics. It was a new thing back then, it didn’t fit the standard size kitchen appliances commonly used in Sweden. But it was great: built in ice machine, water dispenser and a great small door in the fridge to access juices. We love our fridge. Sadly, this weekend we realized that the freezer is on its last leg and we discussed to replace it. Since we love our LG appliances, we went to their Swedish website and quickly found our new appliance.


Great products, but they really, really suck at customer relations. How can a consumer website NOT include purchase links in 2017. How? #facepalm

On the LG website you can’t find any information, whatsoever, about where to buy their stuff… The company from which we’d bought our fridge in 2002 doesn’t exist anymore. So I called LG yesterday, only to learn that they couldn’t help me. They were only a support team, not a sales team. The girl told me (I’m not joking) to “google” for sales outlets, and that maybe, the big chains like Elgiganten and MediaMarkt might be selling their products.

Let me say this again: LG Electronics has NO information, NONE whatsoever, about their resellers. No lists, no maps, no way to locate where to buy their, mind you, great products. #facepalm

Later, after contacts with their Facebook page (a tad more responsive, but still very slow compared to other companies, including Telia) I was also told that Elon and Elgiganten would be able to order our fridge directly from LG and deliver it to me. But they also said that these chains purchase through distribution and that it was up to them to decide what they sell. And if you don’t sell a product on a certain market, why advertise in on your website? It just makes no sense. It’s like Apple advertising the iPhone 9… #facepalm

Needless to say, we were not able to buy our fridge from LG. Neither Elon nor Elgiganten were able to purchase it. We’re not talking “willing”, no, they were unable! Elon even told me that hadn’t done business with LG for seven years, yet LG still tells customers to turn to them! Loss from one customer: almost three thousand dollars. I can only imagine how many such deals LG Electronics loses every day…

How do companies survive like that? How can a company ask the consumer (and appliances are – after all – primarily consumer products) to go look for where to buy their products? I’m still stunned. We did end up purchasing a competitor’s product, not nearly what we wanted, but at least they know how to sell their stuff.

My question to Telia and LG Electronics: are you so fat, so complacent and satisfied that you no longer care about your customers? Is customer service irrelevant to you? It would be nice to hear from those companies, but I guess that’s too much to ask for. I’ve heard a lot of excuses and explanations that don’t explain anything.

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#MondayBlogs: What I really tried to say, or how words failed me… #asmsg #amwriting #amreading

#MondayBlogs: What I really tried to say, or how words failed me… #asmsg #amwriting #amreading

When I wrote about my frustrations last week, nothing was further from my mind than reviews, yet it’s all people talk about

When the first comments began rolling in last week, I thought people were joking. I was talking about my frustration last week, the fact that I spend months as author to craft the words of a book, only to see it reduced to a couple of hours of entertainment for my readers. My need to talk about the book, or to at least gain an understanding of how readers receive it was almost unanimously (you can read the comments that were left here, on the blog) interpreted as requests for reviews. My words failed me.

I was surprised, because when I wrote the post, I didn’t think about reviews, honestly. I think my position on reviews is pretty clear: I don’t like them much. I’m frustrated by reviews who give away the book in what many reviewers feel is a great summary, I am hurt by reviews that try to find “me” in the book, attack me personally or completely miss the point of a story. Yes, like any author, I understand the need for, the value of reviews. No argument, and when we send out ARCs, we are very much aware that there will be reviews, good ones, bad ones. It’s a fact of life, that not every book is for everyone. That is reflected in the reviews. Duh! I still don’t read them, unless someone sends it to me specifically, and those are never bad ones (unless said reviewer is particularly vicious. LOL) My words failed me.

Sometimes a reader will contact me (okay, it’s happened quite a few times) to talk about their experience reading the book, how the story affected them. That is how I feel, too. Just because I put down the pen doesn’t mean I’m done. I feel the need to talk about how painful certain aspects of a book can me, how a character’s suffering or growth has affected me. It’s no different than reading a book myself, how the characters affect me. I remember reading Erin Finnegan’s Luchador several months ago. I still have that book lurking in the back of my mind, how she takes the concepts of “manliness”, “gay” and throws them into a dryer and tumbles them until they come out all warped and twisted. Her discussion of masculinity and the concepts of gay vs straight is some of the best writing ever, and I still think about that, almost daily, our preconceptions as gay men, as much as the preconceptions in the straight world.

I had a short takeover of a Facebook group last night, by invitation of SA Collins. And he and I discussed LGBT (he prefers the term ‘queer’) fiction and how our stories often deal with things from our own existence. Mind you, this doesn’t mean you have to understand who we are as human beings to understand the book (quite the contrary), but just as some people deal with their demons by running around the forest, or punch a bag in a gym, authors deal with their demons through writing. And just because I write “the end” doesn’t mean that I’m done. I may need more time to reflect upon it, understand what happened, because just because the book is over doesn’t mean I’m done. There is, after all, a difference between the author and the human. Yet last Friday, my words failed me.

This isn’t easy to put in writing, as my failure to express my emotion last week clearly shows. And the frustration comes from that fact, in part. But it’s also funny when you talk to someone about a story for months and months, and when they’ve read it, knowing just how important it is to you, all you get back is a “it’s great. Loved it.” Inside me, I’m screaming “what else? what did you take away from it? What do you think was his/her driving force? Why did they act the way they did? etc.” But no, no review… Although, I’ll grant you that a good review might answer at least some of those questions. But still, it wasn’t reviews I long for, but human conversations, debate. But I guess my words failed me.

So, here’s another post that probably makes no sense to anyone but me… Have a wonderful week!

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The most frustrating aspect of being an author, imho #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

The most frustrating aspect of being an author, imho #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

A great many things are frustrating when you’re an author, but this one frustration rules them all…

Call it an epiphany, a revelation, finally seeing straight (which is really, really hard if you know me!) Doesn’t matter, but this post isn’t about how frustrating it is to work so hard and not to earn any money. It’s not about how frustrating it is to see stupid people read your books, thinking they know it all, and it’s not about how frustrating it is having to battle an increasing monopoly in book sales. No. There is this one frustration to rule them all, and I finally understood, yesterday.

The cover for my new novel Last Winter’s Snow. The book releases April 6. We’re in the final stages of proofing the text.

My most recent fiction publication happened in mid-September, with the release of the final book in the Jonathan Trilogy. That’s six months ago. But it’s been almost eleven months since I began writing Last Winter’s Snow, the next book up for release in April. So much work! I’ve been talking to readers, my editors, proof readers, and publisher about it, we’ve been discussing the book’s title, theme, content, research, and I’m still at it, having just completed a final read-through before the galley is off to print, in time for the release.

You build up this anticipation for a new release, you tease, release morsels of information, create a trailer, reveal (not release, Hans) the cover, panic over the edits, and slave hard to get the ARCs (Advance Review Copies, in case you’re unfamiliar with this particular publishing acronym) out in time to give reviewers time to read the book and review it in good time for the release. If you’re an author, you’ve undoubtedly been there, done that, and you have countless t-shirts hanging in your closet to commemorate every release.

Then comes the big day, you send out the ARCs, and the waiting begins… 24 hours later, I had the first verdicts, and so far, they’re all very good. Do NOT misunderstand this. It’s not frustrating to get feedback, particularly not the positive kind I’ve seen. But it’s bloody frustrating when the feedback is encapsulated in a couple of sentences, a paragraph. Eleven months of hard labor, pouring your life’s blood into a story, investing a significant amount of money into research, covers, lots of people involved in getting things right, and all you get in return is a paragraph.


Now, I am fully aware that I have no right to expect more. And yes, it could be so much worse. The paragraph could be a single short sentence: “I hated it!” This isn’t what this post is about. I do not, would not, ever expect more. And I have no clue how this feels for other authors out there. But I have little inhibitions to talk about this, and what I want more than anything else is to sit down with readers, to hear how they interact with the text, the characters, if they walk away with anything from the plot, if they like the characters, if they found any moral morsels to enrich their life. I want to talk about the book, the story. Eleven months of work. I love my characters, they are a part of me. And like a parent, I’m never really ready to let them go. They’re family, they all include a bit of my DNA, a bit of me (and no, don’t go looking for it).

I love my characters, I am the father of each and every one of my characters. Letting go is the hardest thing, and I wish I’d get to spend more time with my literary “kids”.

And all I get back is a sentence, a paragraph. I know I do not get to expect more, but it’s just bloody frustrating that eleven months are turned into five hours of reading and then it’s done, “I loved it!” and they move on to the next book, the next story, the next author’s life blood. Such are the rules of publishing, the plight of being an author. I have no right to complain. Doesn’t make it any easier, does it. There have been a few instances when a reader took a story to heart, made it their own, literally. They never shut up about it. Those are the few instances where I bask in the warmth of finally being able to share my feelings, my emotions around a book with someone else.
Those instances are few though, and they’re far in between. I have no right to complain, but I can’t help the way I feel. Authors, tell me, do you feel this frustration? Is there a bigger frustration in your penmanship? Feel free to comment. I hate being the “only gay” in the village… 🙂

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful weekend.


#MondayBlogs: First time proofing an audiobook and other things I’m learning #amwriting #amreading

#MondayBlogs: First time proofing an audiobook and other things I’m learning #amwriting #amreading

Proofing an audiobook is very different from proofing a book

Last Friday, I had a pleasant surprise when I woke up. Michael Bakkensen had sent me the narrated version, aka audiobook, of my first novel, Family Ties. This is my first venture into audio books, and I had never before listened to an audio book either. I feel like a mammal in a new pool. Very much out of his comfort zone. Michael has been great answering my questions in the process, but now that the book is fully narrated, it’s up to me to make sure I like the result.

Michael Bakkensen, the voice of author Hans M Hirschi

I am using my own publishing house for my audio books, so you could say I’m back in the self-publishing industry. Exciting and scary at the same time. However, when you’ve never proofed an audio book, you’re in for a few surprises. First of all, you have to get used to your voice actor’s narrative style. While I had listened to his audition tape and the reading of the first chapter, that doesn’t quite prepare you for how he would interpret various other characters in the book, from children to women, and how he would read funny scenes, or sad scenes or dramatic scenes.

At times, I found myself choking, sometimes I was laughing, and at times I was even dumbfounded (for lack of a better word). I’m almost through, thanks to a six hour drive this weekend, I only have a few chapters left to listen to. But at 70+ chapters, it’s a long list. I’ve only found a couple of tiny things I’m considering changing. I’ll need to talk to Michael about those once I’m done.

Here’s how I’ve tackled the proofing:

  • I don’t compare his reading to the book, i.e. I’m not line editing. I’d never get through the book otherwise. I just trust Michael.
  • I will not edit his narration, how he enunciates things. I accept that the audiobook is NOT the same as the novel. Michael is an artist, and just as a film script will by necessity deviate from a novel it is based on, so will – to a smaller degree – an audiobook. Not that the vocal artist changes the words of the novel, but the way they read the book, is how they interpret the novel, which is as they see it, through their eyes, not mine. This is the main reason why I put Michael’s name on the cover of the audio book. This is HIS story now, his artistic vision for it, based on my story. I would also suggest that you consider this aspect when you have people audition for your books…
  • Listening to the book is different than reading. When you read, you automatically become absorbed, because our eyes to the work. We are so dependent of our eyes… But when we listen, our eyes are free to focus on other things, from the computer to say driving a car. I just listened (as I’m typing this) to a very cathartic chapter (aptly named Catharsis) and I had to stop writing, because I had to focus on the emotional impact of the reading. Keep that in mind.

Listening to an audio book is not necessarily my thing. I’m not sure I can focus enough. When I’m on public transport, it’s easy enough for me to read, get absorbed into the story, but to listen to anything but music is difficult, because my eyes easily get distracted by other things, thoughts and all of a sudden I’m not listening any more.

The cover for the coming audiobook of Family Ties, my first. I look forward to the release. It will be available on Audible, Amazon, iTunes etc.

Having studied psychology, and things like perception, I am fully aware of just how limited our consciousness is, what we can focus on. How does this work for you? Are you able to focus on an audio book or are they just a replacement for music?

My first audio book has no specific release date but hopefully, depending on how Michael and I are able to deal with the changes I’m considering, we might be able to get it out before the end of the week. We’ll see. I honestly don’t know how quickly ACX works. Maybe you know? Feels free to comment.

Needless to say, it’s an interesting experience, and one I hope to repeat soon, with novel #2, Jonathan’s Hope. That one is, after all, my most popular one, closely followed by novel #3… Meanwhile, there’s little time for writing, as I’m also heading into a final round of proofreading Last Winter’s Snow. ARCs were sent out to reviewers last week, and we’re three and a half weeks out from the publication date. I really look forward to this story.

Have a great week.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.


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