Despite how we may feel, we are never alone in life, and never alone in death.
A few weeks ago, a reader left a message right here under one of my Station novelette posts asking if I was writing under a different name, then notified me of a title that started so much like one of mine did around Chapter 3, that I admit, I had heart palpitations. No joke…panic mode was enabled.
See, here’s the thing – you can’t copyright an idea, or even a concept. But as a writer, if you are mindful of this, one of the best (and hardest) parts of writing Fiction is the world-building, the fresh ideas, the character development, the plot, the twists, etc… It feels good to lose yourself in a world of your creation. But there will come a time, no doubt, when two books are unintentionally similar. Perhaps by theme, perhaps by setting, or perhaps in a hundred different other ways, but when two books combine too much of those things and have entire sections with a similar theme, setting and timeline of events that possibly borrow from one title to set the story for another – is this coincidental…is it still unintentional? The fact is, I don’t know. And legally, as far as copyright law, this enters some very grey area.
It is this grey area that has me curious, and yes, concerned. See, when I wrote Dying to Forget, admittedly, I had not read a gazillion afterlife titles in ‘preparation’. For me, every story I’ve done was 99% waking up from an awesome and twisted dream, to that 1% of real life influence, and that’s what the Station books have been.
I was going through the difficult time of healing and acceptance after the death of my Aunt. She was one of my favorite people. With the biggest laugh and equally large heart, when she took her life it stunned me. Not because I didn’t think it would ever happen, but because I thought I could have prevented it. I know now, how hard and impossible that was. See, mental health is a real issue, not just a phase, not just something someone can get over. Clinical Depression took my Aunt’s life, and I wish that all of us in her life had understood before she died, how hard every day truly was for her. Since she’s been gone, I hear her in my head all the time. She talks me down from my own ledges, pumps up my self-esteem when I need it, and is generally just an extra version of my own sub-conscious. She’s really with me every day. This is what I wanted Piper Willow to be for you.
What I didn’t know would happen, is how many truly amazing people would relate to Piper and the creation of ‘my’ Station. Some of those who have been hurt, or who hurt themselves, have truly found a bit of solace in these books, and they’ve reached out to tell me so. The point of the Station is not a selfish one – but intended to go beyond the pain of one person to help others. And before I get too mushy and start crying all over the keyboard, what’s important to me is not that someone else may have intentionally or unintentionally used the platform of my Station books to create a version of their own, but it is that there is only one Piper Willow. And there’s a little bit of her in all of us. This won’t be taken away by another title; Piper is here to stay.
So, until it is legally necessary to pursue this funky and unexpected matter further, it’s at that point where online I can’t stay completely quiet anymore. I’ve gotten your messages, I’ve read your posts. I totally get the passion behind why some readers of the Station series are curious, confused and yes, pissed off. I also get why readers of this other author are pissed, but if you haven’t read the Station books I guess you just wouldn’t understand why this is a really strange occurrence and why Piper fans are more than a little concerned. The only way to even remotely get the passion behind a Station fan would be to also read Dying to Forget. And this isn’t a sales pitch – because the title is 100% free. It’s not enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, which means I get exactly $0.00 for each download and read. KU books are free for Prime members, but the author still gets paid. I would hope that any reader of the other title in question would do their own research before attacking my Station readers. It’s only fair. For those who want to have mature and respectful discussions with each other about this topic – the comments section is open to you.
So, yes, I know. I’ve been made aware of what is happening and I’m choosing to focus right now on what really matters – that Piper’s fourth story be finished and in your hands soon. Because my Station still has tales to share, and friends to make.
Any decent writer can retell a story, but not all can create one. The books I choose to write are hopefully the same as the ones I love to read: different from the masses. In the end, it comes down to you, the reader, and what you want. I hope that my Station books give you what you want or need, and keep you entertained. If this happens, it’s a win for me.
No, I don’t want to publicly talk about this other title or author by name. It’s not my way, regardless of how I may feel. So keep on doing what you do best as a Station fan – share the book with your friends. Let them know why Piper matters to you.
Now off I go, back to her world and the never-ending drama of the Station, where I’m currently obsessed (and with over 200 million views, I must not be alone!) with Alan Walker’s ‘Faded’ and have on repeat in my writing playlist. I’ll share the video with you below, for your listening pleasure…
XOXO – Trish
Courtesy of YouTube
It used to be that when someone new asked me, ‘So, what do you do?’ there was a panic switch in my brain that flipped back and forth for a split second before I picked one of my two usual answers:
I write books.
See what I did? I dodged my internal struggle between which term to use – writer or author. But, I am both, right? When the conversation turns into, ‘Oh, have you written something I might know?’ I resist the urge to ask them, ‘I have no idea, can you read?’ Instead, I explain that I write mostly Fantasy, though I write in several genres really. And if they ask who I’m published with, I answer, ‘I’m self-published.’ *holds breath* Then I have to watch their face contort in and out of odd expressions as they go blank listening to the book titles I list off at their request, and the convo I was equal parts loathing but excited for, quickly dissipates into a lackluster attempt for one of us to find something more interesting to do; anything other than staring at each other.
Usually a random stranger doesn’t know who I am. I’m okay with that being slightly introverted myself, because it means I can go to Target with my unwashed hair in a bun, no makeup on, and a tank top that shows my bra straps, while dragging along my two reluctant children behind me without much judgement.
But I’ve found that the conversation goes a bit differently when I use the word ‘author’ right upfront and worry about the self-publishing part later. Often times, it goes more like this:
Unsuspecting Stranger: So, what do you do?
Me: Oh, I’m a published author. *big smile*
Them: Really? That’s cool! What’s the name of your book?
Me: Well, I have three series, adding up to about ten books! (Lists off my series titles)
Them: Wow. What genre are they?
Me: Mostly Fantasy, but there’s YA, Adult Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure, some Romance, a little Paranormal and Horror, etc…something for everyone, really. *winks*
Them: Interesting, where can I find them?
Me: On your Kindle, Nook, iPad or smart phone, where the first books of my first two series are free. The prints can be ordered off of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Oh, and there’s the audiobooks on Audible, too!
Them: Thanks! I’ll have to check them out. *big smile*
Me: Please do! *really big smile*
Obviously, the conversation above has about one hundred possible variations, but you get the gist – for some reason, people are more interested to engage in a conversation about what I do, when I say I’m an author, not just a writer. And if I mention I am published, bonus points. But if I start the conversation off with the fact that I do it myself, they lose interest quickly.
But, why? An author IS a writer. A published author ALSO is a writer. So a writer can be all of those things. And being self-published means I do most of that work myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I still write books and they are still published in reputable places. But there can be a bit of a divide between the terms in the literary world, none the less. Check out the definitions below of each title:
Thank you Dictionary.com for the above. For me, I personally think that the words ‘writer’ and ‘author’ are basically the same thing. Of course, publishers are not all writers, but us Indie Authors typically are also publishers. I think for a lot of people we meet along the way, this can be confusing, especially if we have that ‘I haven’t slept well in three months because I’m working on a book, and I missed my coffee this am, so don’t speak to me’ kind of demeanor while out and about. I can count on one hand the number of people who have wanted to genuinely know more about being self-published, and less about the big publishing name I’m not behind. So, to be fair, they are out there. 😉
Perhaps, the issue is not which term we use, but how we explain it. Here’s my opinion: everyone who has ever written anything of their own is a writer in a sense, an author is typically a writer who not only writes but has their work out for the public to see or buy, be that in magazines, blogs, books, etc… There’s going to be exceptions to this, of course. And a publisher is someone who sells books.
So, what are Indies supposed to say when asked what we do for a living?
Whatever we want, that’s what.
Just kidding. Kinda. If only that would work every time. *wink* I think the easiest answer to this is to practice on your own the best 5-10 second answer you can give with a genuine smile on your face, leaving yourself willfully and eagerly open to further discussion. The term ‘writer’ might sound too broad to be interesting, the term ‘author’ may sound a bit more professional but also intimidating, and the term ‘self-published’ might scare people away, most likely because they don’t understand what it means. But if you learn which term best suits you, and make yourself and your work sound interesting right off the bat, it can turn a stranger into a reader. And that’s what makes the writer and the reader happy in the end, right?
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