Why a unfavorable review isn’t necessarily a bad thing… #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

Why a unfavorable review isn’t necessarily a bad thing… #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

When reviewers have conflicting views it gets really interesting…

You may have heard… I released a new book yesterday, Last Winter’s Snow. Congratulations to me! And for a couple of weeks or so, reviews have been coming in, and they have mostly made me very happy, because a lot of the things I’ve read were very encouraging, and positive. However, and this is the really interesting part, and this post will look at reviews from both a reader perspective and an author perspective, I’ve had two reviews that took opposing sides on a single issue. I’m not going to take sides, but let’s hear from the reviewers themselves:

The cover of Last Winter’s Snow.

One reviewer writes: “I would have cut out some of the “travelogue” passages about Swedish cities, flora and fauna, etc., in favor of some scenes to establish the couple’s unique personalities and why they were a good match.”

Another says: “One of my favorite parts of the novel is how Sweden is almost itself a character. I was utterly captivated reading about the different places, their history and culture. It was a little like a whirlwind tour, and it left me wanting to know more and to see the sights for myself.”

Did they really read the same book? 😳

Now, I had my reasons to include the “travelogue” aspects, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask my editor. We did discuss this at length. I won’t justify my decision here, not the point of this post. However, isn’t it interesting that one person’s “lowlight” was another person’s “highlight”?

Reviews from a reader’s perspective

Reviews can be a great tool if you are a reader on the hunt for your next great read. But unless you read a thousand books a year (it’s a thing apparently) and/or have an unlimited budget for DNFs*, you may want to do your research, before you “one-click”.

If a review speaks to you somehow, look at other reviews from that same source. Have your read the same books already? What was their take then? Don’t just trust a single review. I do this when I look at hotel or restaurant reviews. I spend a lot of time trying to find out who the reviewer is. If they only review ONE place and trash it, likelihood is they just had a bad experience which cannot really be applied as a thumb rule for an entire establishment. I would argue the same is true for book reviews. (*DNF – Did Not Finish the book)

Just the other day, my publisher noticed a two-star review on one of the books they publish, a book that isn’t even out yet! I’ve had the same happen to me before. Quite honestly, we don’t know why that particular reader did that, but trust me when I say that there are a lot of trolls on Goodreads. So don’t trust just any review. Learn what they say about other people’s stuff. It’ll help you determine if you really are on the same wavelength like the writer of the review you’ve read.

Once you know the reviewer is reliable and not a “troll”, this is really going to help you to find books you can trust. Just remember, reviews are kind of like the news: you have to be mindful of the source(s)! Personally, when it comes to books, I’ve never been a big fan of reviews to find the reads I like. Most of what I read isn’t “pleasure” reading, but part of my professional development, and I often read books outside my personal comfort zone. I read mostly ARCs** and review those here on my blog. But every now and then I’ll read a book for pleasure and I go either by personal recommendation (which I’ve lived to regret more than once) or I simply read the blurb and look at the cover, like so many others, and yes, I’ve lived to regret those, too. (**ARC – Advance Review Copy, usually an edited, but not finally proofed version of the book which is sent to professional reviewers before publication)

Reviews from an author’s perspective

I’ve written about this before. Here, for instance. When you get positive, constructive reviews, it’s easy to feel happy. I grinned like an idiot the other night after reading a beautifully crafted and very generous review. We’re all entitled to that, particularly if you don’t get that monthly check from Amazon to makes you smile… My check makes my bank weep, that’s for sure. However, and I think that is important, when you get two conflicting, professional reviews like the ones I quoted above, you, the author have to chill for a moment.

Why did they say what they said? Could it be that they don’t much care for descriptions of locales? I once reviewed a book by the insanely talented Posy Roberts. In her novel Silver Scars, Posy describes an amputation and the process of healing at great length. I had just published my own book Jonathan’s Promise, where I had described something “similar”, yet completely different. And just like Posy and I put our emphasis on different aspects of our characters, focus on different things, so will reviewers. One will miss the emphasis on character interaction, another will be happy that the focus wasn’t there etc. Don’t take that criticism personal. It’s not their book. It’s yours, and you’re entitled to write the story any way you damn well please.

This is even more the case when you receive bad reviews. I have long ago stopped reading my reviews on Goodreads. I have my trolls, I get my one-star reviews and that is fine. I actually quite enjoy them, or at least knowing they’re there. I means someone is really upset with whatever success I have, which means I’m getting noticed. Just getting such troll attention lends my authorship credibility. And as long as my composite score on Goodreads is higher than Shakespeare’s, who am I to complain? Really? It’s all a matter of perspective. Then again, I’d readily accept a lower score than the great poet if it meant larger sales. Again, a matter of perspective.

But if you insist on reading bad reviews, ask yourself this: why are you doing it? What do you gain from them? Apart from a potentially masochistic pleasure? I’ve had more than one writer tell me that they gain insights on what works and what doesn’t work in a novel. I guess that is also why so many authors use beta readers, to finely tune their product to a specific market. Nothing wrong with that. But you didn’t see Michelangelo do beta studies of his Davide. If your writing is a craft, and you write to a specific audience, cater to a carefully developed niche or genre, I understand the need for beta readership to make sure a product will work. But as you can pick up from my choice of words, such books aren’t works of art, they are a craft, a product, aimed at entertaining, pleasing a very specific audience. No one else will care. Ain’t nothing wrong with that approach! It’s usually the approach that sells, right?

However, artsy books are different. They tell THE story they’re supposed to tell, whether people care to read it or not. They’re what we sometimes call “literary”, aka “books no one reads”. Do they have a readership? Yes, but they usually don’t climb the charts, neither at Amazon nor at the New York Times. And they piss off an equal amount of people they please. It’s what art does: it provokes. It asks the important questions in life. Can crafty books do that? Yes, but they do so within the well specified parameters. Allow me to explain:

For instance, you could write a romance novel about “death”, but there are certain things within the genre you have to stick to, e.g. the relationship is paramount. Not death. And there may be other details to consider, how much sex you need to include, how explicit it may be. Heck I’ve even read somewhere that “monogamy” is a core ingredient in hardcore romance novel recipes. In an artsy book, you can still have a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be THE theme, death can be. And you can include sex, on the page, off the page, or leave it by the wayside, and the characters can fuck whenever with whomever, as long as it makes sense to the story you’re telling. There are no rules to follow, as long as your editor is happy, and they look primarily at things like:

  • consistency: leave home in a Volvo, you better come home in a Volvo (or explain what happened)
  • believability: why is there an Alien spaceship in the back yard?
  • credibility: she died and came back from the dead? How is that possible?

Reviewers may take “offense” at anything in everything you write, and if you break genre rules, I’m sure you probably already knew you were going to be trashed for it. The same is true for artsy books, the only difference is that you can readily dismiss such comments. Why? Because some people are just really stupid. Sorry if I’m being harsh, but if a reviewer complains about a non-romance book “not being romance” or a “thriller” being too exciting, then it’s not the author or the publisher who is to blame, but the reviewer for simply being too damn stupid. Yes, it’s still upsetting to read, and you may still need to have that review on your book’s Goodreads page, but honestly, give readers some credit, too.

If your book is listed as a “mystery” or “thriller” (or whatever), and a review complains that it wasn’t a “romance”, don’t you think people will disregard said review as exactly as imbecile as it is? Quite the contrary, it will even make sure that other romance readers won’t pick up your book and be disappointed by said lack of loooove, sending more bad reviews your way… Incidentally, you might actually get other readers to pick up your story because it was dissed as a non-romance. Imagine, there is such a thing as a readership for non-romance novels. Two sides to every medal.

Author Hans M Hirschi reads quite a few books and has published ten novels. He also reviews books on this site, regularly.

Reviews aren’t easy, for readers, for authors nor reviewers. But they are an essential part of our strive to reach our readers (old and new), and I am very grateful for the reviews I get, particularly the ones that I ask for, where we, as part of the marketing effort send out ARCs to professional reviewers. They don’t know what heads their way, which is why some will like it, and others won’t. That is part of the business. Nevertheless I’m grateful for the professional courtesy they show to our work. Naturally I’m also happy for others who review one of my books they’ve loved (or hated), I just may never see it. So thanks! 🙂

What is your take? How do you see reviews? As reader? Author? Let’s hear it…

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

Have a wonderful weekend,

Hans

Release Day for Last Winter’s Snow, my tenth novel #amwriting #LGBT #Sápmi #equality

Release Day for Last Winter’s Snow, my tenth novel #amwriting #LGBT #Sápmi #equality

Release day is always exhilaratingly frightening, and after fifteen books you’d think I’m used to it, but no…

Release Day for my new novel! I’m so excited.

Release day. Again. It’s been a while now. In September I released my last novel, Jonathan’s Legacy, and in December we released the 2nd edition of Common Sense. And now it’s finally time to present Last Winter’s Snow to you, my new novel. Release day reminds me of the graduation for a book, when the kid, all grown up and ready to meet the world, moves away from home.

Release Day means that I, the author, relinquish all of my control, and let you, my readers, jump into the driver’s seat. That can be scary, frightening even. If you have kids who’ve left the nest, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. As parents, the author and the publisher have done our utmost to prepare our child to be ready. We’ve taken great care in writing the story, researching it properly and in a lot of detail, more than I’ve ever had to research for a book before. We have edited it, then edited it some more before we proofed the book in several rounds. Natasha Snow has once again created a tasteful cover, very suitable for the story I’m telling.

Early reviews are in and they are very encouraging. You might compare them to your child’s final grades in school. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

“Hans Hirschi has written a brilliant book. I’ve learned so much about another country and another culture and another time with this story. I love it when writers combine fact with their fiction. Thank you Hans Hirschi so much for sharing Nilas’s and Casper’s journey with us. I hope that everyone who reads this review will also read this book. It is truly very well written.”

“Just read the scene of Göran’s dinner party after Tom’s phone call, and it’s stunning.”

“For gorgeous scenery, realistic relationships, and a story full of warmth and optimism, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.

“Your best one yet!”

“Mr Hirschi’s books always draw attention to discrimination and oppression, making us question our beliefs and attitudes. This book is dedicated ‘to the oppressed minorities of the world’ and all the books I’ve read by this author could bear the same dedication.”

“I think what made this book great was for me was that it taught me about the Sami people (who I never knew existed) and had me search out more information on this beautiful group of people who’s way of life is threatened each and every day.”

Last Winter’s Snow wasn’t an easy book to write. I began with the first chapter almost a year ago, and when the character Nilas revealed himself to be a Sami, I had a hunch that this might be a book that would require a lot of work. Why? As a foreign born Swede I had no education to teach me about the Sami, and it’s only been very recently that Sweden, as a society, began to talk about them in anything less than negative way.

This is Gávtjávrrie, lake & village, a beautiful part of Sápmi, where Nilas comes from. Photo: Wikipedia / Håkan Svensson

So I had to do a lot of research, see above. The same was true for many of the historical aspects, from details of the spread of HIV (I had to get this right, month by month, as so much happened). Even though I lived through the 80ies myself, I was just a handful of years too young to personally experience the onset of the epidemic. Lucky for me I guess. Given how close I came a couple of times later on in life, I probably would’ve gotten sick, and – unlike a good friend of mine – have died from it, like most of those early cases.

Going back into one’s own youth isn’t without risk. You think you remember things one way, when in fact, they were quite different. We caught one medical “boo boo” quite late in the process. Hence the need for several rounds of proof reading. Our memory is fickle. Yet as difficult as it is, it’s also gratifying, and Last Winter’s Snow proves quite aptly just how much progress we’ve made, as a society, in a relatively short time frame. While the story plays out in Sweden, much of the same can be said about most western societies, in varying degrees.

I’m at a loss, still, despite the blurb on the back of the book, to describe this novel. Yes, it’s the story of Swedish LGBT history from the late seventies to today. Yes, it’s the story of what it means to be Sami in Sweden during the same time period, and the remarkable journey of one gay Sami back to his own people. But it’s also a love story, and maybe, in a few weeks, I’ll be able to share some of my thoughts on that love story, that couple, Casper and Nilas. But not yet.

Today is your day, dear readers. Nilas and Casper are yours, along with the adventures of their life. Happy reading, and once again, welcome to my world… If you’ve already bought this book, thank you for your trust. If you’re thinking about it, take a leap of faith, and I thank you, too!

Have you 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.

Hans

Why a unfavorable review isn’t necessarily a bad thing… #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

#MondayBlogs: What’s in a novel? Hidden subtext waiting to be discovered #amreading #asmsg

Subtext: sometimes what’s between the lines is more important that what is right before your eyes

Four more days until I get to release my next novel, Last Winter’s Snow. I’m really excited for this book to meet readers. The other night I was thinking about the two main characters in the novel, and I realized something that I found rather painful. It had to do with their relationship. I’m not going to give away the plot here, I’d rather cut off my tongue. But it made me realize something about subtext, particularly since I’ve already read a couple of reviews from readers, fellow authors and semi-professional reviewers.

How much of a novel’s subtext do you catch if you read this much? Not a comment on this particular reader. At three novels a day, I would barely remember anything.

When we read a book, some of us read a dozen novels a year, I heard about someone who reads a thousand (!) books per year, we retain various details about the story. And there are many ways in which to read a book. I remember my days at the university, when I studied literature. We could put on our feminist glasses, or apply a queer filter, we could deconstruct a novel, apply a hermeneutic approach etc. We have a saying in Sweden: “Som man ropar i skogen får man svar!” (As you shout you will be answered.)

There were times I wondered how people could think that I write romance (there are quite a few of those readers), and I’ll readily admit that my books usually contain an element of “relationship building”, usually completed after a chapter. It’s not something I’d ever consider writing an entire novel about. But it’s a needed part of getting to know your characters if a couple plays a role in a story. However, I’ve realized that the fact that LGBT literature consists of 95+% romance novels (that’s another post entirely), most people will approach any LGBT novel that way, and many will be greatly disappointed if the story doesn’t correspond to their Harlequin pattern type storytelling.

Here’s me reading from one of my books at a reading at New York’s queer bookstore.

Even with my new novel, as far away from romance as it may be, one of the reviewers felt compelled to state that as a fact. When did you ever read a review of say Hamlet stating that? Just saying… Others will undoubtedly focus more on the aspect of LGBT history, while others will focus on the Sami aspects of the story.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t read a novel because the romance captures your heart. There is no “right” or “wrong” when you read a book. That’s kind of the hallmark of great literature, that each reader can find their own enjoyment. I’ve had people come back to me with experiences and “life lessons” that I hadn’t considered.

I saw something else, something I hadn’t seen before, and it rattled me. It wasn’t the first time I’ve had that creeping emotion with a book. It’s happened to me before, not just with my own stories, although I know those in great detail. Sometimes you discover something that grabs a hold of you and you just can’t let go of it. Those are the books I enjoy the most, and the longest. It’s like a meal that never ends, and you get to chew and chew and discover ever new flavors.

Have you ever had a similar feeling about a book? Obviously, I can’t find subtext beyond what is in the text with other people’s books, whereas, in my mind, my characters may keep telling me other things (or I’m just making it up, the difference could be subtle), but I’m quite sure that others would be able to find similar things if they keep their eyes open to them. What are your experiences? Do you discover small subtleties in stories? Is it worth reading a book on the hunt for subtext or is it all just mumbo-jumbo?

Finally, a quick word on my own behalf (I know it’s tricky with the #MondayBlogs), but I just wanted to let you know that I have a great Instafreebie FREE giveaway, which lasts all week to celebrate the coming release. Have a look. The Fallen Angels of Karnataka certainly is my most important novel.

If not, have a great weekend. Have you 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 week,

Hans

Why a unfavorable review isn’t necessarily a bad thing… #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

Audiobook Release: Family Ties, a novel of roots, the past and the future #Audible #ASMSG #amreading

My first ever audiobook release is based on my very first story

The cover for the audiobook of Family Ties, my first. I just got the files from Michael and will review them next week. I look forward to the release of my first audiobook!

When I was thinking about which of my nine released novels would be the best one for an audiobook release, I didn’t think with money in mind. I guess the OCD elements within me just gave me no choice: “go with your first!”

And I did, and besides being my first novel, Family Ties is also my shortest book, which maybe is a good thing with regards to audiobooks. It wasn’t so expensive to produce…

Audiobooks aren’t cheap, unless you are such a famous author that producers will offer you a profit share. I’m not. But I am very proud of this product. I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old controversy between the “book” and the “movie”.

It goes without saying that the book will always lose, at least if the movie was based ON the book. The book will always be much more close to the reader’s views of the novel, whereas a movie, apart from the demands of the medium, is the interpretation of the book by the screen writers and the director. Incomparable.

Michael Bakkensen, the voice of author Hans M Hirschi

Completely different mediums, and to compare the two is like comparing a flight from LA to NYC with a train ride between the two cities. The same is true for the audiobook. I’d say the audiobook is somewhere in between the movie (minus the visuals) and the book (plus the voice, and ONE person’s interpretation of the narrative).

When I chose to work with Michael Bakkensen, himself the father of relatively small kids, I know he’d understand that aspect of the novel, parents’ need to protect their kids, and he’d get the interaction within the family right. I don’t know Michael well enough yet, we will meet in New York for Rainbow Book Fair in April, to know if he has siblings, or his relationship to his parents. Families are complex and as the covers suggests, the roots of a family tree run deep, lots of secrets, lots of hidden aspects, connections here, there and everywhere. The relationships are interpreted differently by the two sons, old secrets suddenly come to light, and ancient wrongdoings are the downfall of one patriarch.

Those and many other ingredients are part of this novel. Family Ties was the first book I ever wrote. By now it’s not big secret that it includes a lot of my own personal “baggage” that I knew I had to deal with. I had a hunch that it might always come back to haunt me if I didn’t face those demons. What those are, and how, is irrelevant really. But needless to say, they are vanquished. On the other hand, my writing is still greatly influenced by experiences from my personal life, even though it shouldn’t influence your enjoyment of the book or the audiobook to know how, what or why.

The Family Ties audiobook is available from Audible, Amazon and iTunes. It’s about five hours long to listen to, and believe me, Michael’s voice is very addictive!

If you’re interested in more background info about the actual production process, listen to my YouTube video I uploaded yesterday.

I really look forward to this weekend off. It’s been a somewhat “harrowing” week for us here at home. Next week is going to be “fun” I hope, as I have another release waiting, this time my tenth novel “Last Winter’s Snow”. Oh, if you’re interested, I’ll be on a radio show this Sunday, at 3 pm EST (9 pm CET) to talk about the new audiobook and novel (and anything else readers want to ask about).

You can listen Sunday via:
The Web Site:http://www.beatentrackradio.com/
Via Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/beatentrackradio
Windows Media Player: http://stream.radiojar.com/k98ef2r2hnwtv.pls
Via iTunes: http://stream.radiojar.com/k98ef2r2hnwtv.m3u
Via mp3 player : http://stream.radiojar.com/k98ef2r2hnwtv
iOS app : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id1178446224
Android app : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details
We’re also in the iTunes radio directory and the TuneIn Radio app.

See you Sunday? You can also join the Facebook event group and drop off questions.

If not, have a great weekend. Have you 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.

Hans

 

 

 

Why a unfavorable review isn’t necessarily a bad thing… #amwriting #amreading #asmsg

#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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