Breaking my Silence and my Happy Mask – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author

All the Things I’m NOT Supposed to Say – so be it, I’m biting the fucking hand that feeds. – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author of Unhinged

 

I won’t and can’t apologize for the minor editing errors that slipped through the literary cracks; not when I look at the whole of the process that was writing, editing, and taking on the responsibility for “professionally editing” my own manuscript, with the help of my longtime friend, Marisela Mitchley. (Despite what was promised to me by my publishers in my contract.)

Yes, I got a damning review over the weekend of my book, Unhinged.

(Psst: please, no need tell me over and over again that “you are going to get these bad reviews, Kelly,” because I KNOW THAT. I have a few things I need to address.)

The “errors” that were called out in said review aren’t actually even grammatical errors – to so confidently call out a writer for “assaulting the English language” and for “possessing bad grammatical skills” warrants a manuscript that is consistently poorly written, by a writer who uses the wrong “your” or “there” and doesn’t understand how commas or semicolons work. Not a few sentences ending in prepositions. Or for the way I used the word “idler.” To say that M.B.Reviewer has grossly exaggerated her assessment of my literary abilities is putting it lightly.

Sitting in my author’s seat is very frustrating; I’m not allowed to defend myself. It comes across as whiny, defensive, and flags me, by proxy, as weak and thin-skinned, along with possessing an inability to take constructive criticism, not to mention it pegging me as difficult to work with, when that could not be further from the truth.

What I consider to be an assault on the English language are words like, “obvs,” “OMG,” and “guyliner” not only existing in pop culture, but being added to the Oxford Dictionary. THAT is an assault.

You may read the review here: Review on Amazon of Unhinged

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ending a sentence with a preposition is “not a grammatical error.” And, according to http://www.dictionary.com/browse/idle, the way I used the word “idler” in the prologue is 100% correct. The statements that this review made about my abilities as a writer are defamatory, unnecessary, and flat out bogus.

A successful constructive critical review might look something like this: Coody’s book provided great literary insight into a different type of protagonist, giving the reader layers to peel back as they discover different aspects of Agnes’s personality and background. While, at times, Agnes is a character I can identify with and root for, there are other times that I feel Agnes is written to be too aggressive, detracting from the main plot and story-line, making the reader side with those around her who are out to get her. But, then, at the same time, is Coody attempting to make an overarching statement about how a protagonist doesn’t always need to be someone we identify with? While a few minor typographical errors made their way into print, they weren’t enough to distract me from the story and the characters. Unhinged is a solid, thrilling, unique book. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the way the book ended, and feel that it could do with a bit of revision, it’s nothing that a second and/or third edition wouldn’t be able to address and/or fix. Overall, Unhinged is one hell of a psychological thriller that will stay with you long after you read it.

Here’s the other part:

I’d love to share a story with you.

No, not a fictitious one; not an anecdotal, humorous holiday tale, either. But I’d like to share with you the ridiculously unprofessional process I endured and underwent with the publishing of my first book, Unhinged.

I was saddled with an editor whom shall remain nameless and gender-less in order to protect their identity. This person broke my book; they made unnecessary changes according to their style and/or taste, added errors and sentences that made no sense with the story, and repeatedly asked me to dumb my book down for the readers.

To be frank, I tried my hardest with the shit I was shoveled and I’m not the least bit sorry that more than a few shitty bits of grammar edged past the editing process and made their way into the final manuscript.

This has been an optimal outcome for me: through dedication and hard work, my friend and I made my book a cohesive, solid manuscript in a short amount of time, after playing clean up with what nameless editor had done to my manuscript. (One example: they changed Rolling Stones to Rolling Stone’s.)

Given this unforgivable lack of knowledge, competency, and professionalism, this editor was “let go” from “their” position at said contracted editing company.

NOW, mind you, I, like my good friend Marisela Mitchley, am not given to brevity. So stay with me.

After “Rookie Editor” soiled my manuscript, I looked over the PDF that was about to be sent to print, “Ready-to-go!” The further I read, the worse it got. Rookie Editor fucking annihilated my book, ADDING IN grammatical errors, changing my correct grammar to incorrect.

Guess what I was given as an alternative to “Rookie Editor?”

NOTHING. A half-hearted, ‘I’ll try,’ from the CEO of the contracted editing company, whose email to me was RIDDLED with typos, which I politely turned down. I was also given the same offer by the men who own the publishing company which published my book. They said the same thing, ‘This isn’t really my area, but I can give it a try.’ 

WHAT THE FUCK? 

At this point in the process, I’d become so jaded and disillusioned with not only the publishing process, but with everyone’s lack of concern and competency who were the supposed “experts” and “professionals” surrounding me, when it came to my book.

So, guess what I did? Guess what I had to do?

Not trusting the two people who freely admitted that they would probably fuck up my book even more, I enlisted the help of an old college friend. We were initially given two weeks, which was extended to about six. the fact that we were able to fix all of the many, many added typos, grammatical problems, and more than a few apostrophe problems, along with editing it the way it should have been done the first time around is nothing short of a miracle.

As for the remark in this review regarding the book’s premise being “not so unique?” This book is based on my life. Yes, I’ve mixed fiction in with it, but the premise is my life. Me. I don’t know how much more unique I could have gotten than that.

I’ll tell you something, though: despite the few “errors” that you feel discredit me as a writer, I am a damn good writer, I am proud of the book, and I have excellent grammar.

(“errors” = they aren’t, by definition, grammatical errors)

I’m not an idiot, guys. Some of you have even told me that you hated thrillers and that’s why you weren’t a big fan of my book–then, two weeks later, I saw that you posted something about how much you love thrillers.

This week has been a hard one for me. Forgive me, but my family has lost two important people; two close, dear, family friends, and it has thrown a crack into our foundation. So, in between the daily sexual harassment I deal with, along with the hypercritical stone-throwing pertaining to my literary merit, I am grieving, and am so, so deeply sad for my friends and their families during this time, along with feeling violated and stepped on for a long time now.

Don’t worry though: I love proving people wrong. I’m actively working on The Undoing.

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

(Just to show you another instance of utter incompetency on my publishers’ part, when they first listed Unhinged on Amazon for sale, they added a hyphen to my name. This is a pseudonym, for God’s sake. I don’t have a hyphenated name, nor have I ever. My legal name is Kelly Marie Coody, because I changed my name after I was married 9 years ago.)

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You have no idea what you’ve done. You’ve elected The Hunger Games. – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

A few words on bullying, misogyny, racism, harassment, and the future of our nation. 

“Ignore it — they want you to react.”

“Don’t engage with them; it doesn’t help.”

When has ignoring a societal / cultural behavioral shift ever worked to our advantage? EVER?

Never.

Does ignoring racism work? How about rampant sexism? Bullying? Then why the hell should I be so inclined, as a woman, to ignore this intrusive and disgusting brand of depraved behavior exhibited by so-called internet trolls? Does the fact that it’s Facebook somehow excuse this harassment? Or make it any less hurtful and destructive?

Absolutely not.

It’s never okay for a grown man to harass a woman – I don’t care if he’s written it to me on a scroll in Olde English in expert calligraphy. A spade is a spade is a spade. Had Hillary won, do you think I’d feel the need to take to a stranger’s Facebook page – a Trump supporter – and start throwing stones? What I have said on Facebook about this election is minimal in comparison to how I really feel.

If you wonder why I wrote, “You have no idea what you’ve done,” then, you either don’t understand or are corroborating the problem. Casting a vote for Donald Trump, in his opponents’ hearts and minds, means that you’ve been complicit in setting the stage for violent domestic issues as well as violent foreign issues to arise and explode.

And as for the Europeans who are demanding answers from people like me? You don’t think that we’re scared shitless? Trump has no political experience. The things he says about women rival those said by serial killers, serial rapists, and convicted women-hating criminals. He’s a bully. He’s made nothing but enemies as far as his stances on race and sexual orientation and gender. His words alone threaten to tear apart the fabric of our existence as human beings, much less his election to office. The way of life that we’ve lived is in the hands of a volatile, power hungry child. His extremist supporters (let me be clear – I am not saying ALL of his supporters; I am saying that there ARE Trump supporters like this) are aggressive, limitless in their anger against minorities and women, and seemingly unaware of the damage of an impending nuclear war.

The more aggressive male Trump supporters are no different than the middle-eastern men that they claim to hate so much.

I hope that this letter jinxes us and that none of this happens – that’s what the other side does not seem to understand. We aren’t hoping for Trump to fail. We are scared. We’re scared that he’s said, “I don’t understand. If we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them? Why can’t we use them?” And now, in less than two months, he will be our commander in chief. He will have access to these weapons. We are fucking terrified that his anger and volatility, coupled with the trigger-happy side of him will start World War III. You think that WE hope for this? We’re angry at the people who voted for him because we see them as the ones who hope for this.

“So sorry for someone like you.”

“You’re a fucking hypocrite.”

“Bitch.”

“Stupid bitch.”

“Another dumb cunt.”

Shall I go on? Make no mistake, ignoring this behavior from men on social media WILL NOT make it disappear. If they’re allowed to write things like this on my timeline, why am I being discouraged for calling it out? And for fighting back?

“You can’t reason with people like that.”

I couldn’t possibly give a shit.

If, by stalking my Facebook page, they’ve been able to surmise that I’m not a Trump supporter, and can string enough words together to make a sentence that says, “You don’t even have what it takes to have a man like me for one night, so sorry for someone like you!” WHY are my so-called friends and family yelling at ME for responding, “What in God’s name are you talking about, you ridiculous, moronic, ego-maniacal fool? I feel sorry for someone like you. And, by the way, I’m married.”

Here’s the thing: I DON’T WANT TO REASON WITH THEM. I WANT TO HUMILIATE THEM.

I need to address the amount of unwarranted, outlandish behavior that is becoming not only socially acceptable, but laughed off, even, by the mob mentality that is Facebook. I have not been on the receiving end of this much hate, bullying, and harassment since I was in middle school. It shouldn’t have happened then and it sure as hell shouldn’t be happening now; do you realize that you’re a grown MAN harassing and denigrating someone’s daughter, mother, wife, and sister? Does that thought even cross your mind? You’re so safe behind your computer that you spew malicious words as though it’s your job. The things that you say to me on here, in your comments, etc, would never be said to my face. At this moment in my life, I think I actually prefer getting pushed and laughed at by German adults – at least they were “man” enough to insult me to my face. Shame on you. Shame on all of you for your depraved behavior (this is going to those of you who have been especially malicious; not to my friends and fellow writers, human beings who display common decency no matter the color of their skin or the political party they choose to identify with).

The ever-growing monster that’s Facebook has given everyone a computer to hide behind as they say horrific things to one another, even without provocation to do so. Interestingly enough, when I had some time a few days ago, someone who called me a “fucking hypocrite” and kept doing so and wouldn’t let up, was quiet and calm when I sent them a private message asking them what was up.

I will be silenced no longer.

I don’t have to put up with endless sexual harassment, childish name-calling and blatant disrespect, even when it’s “JUST on Facebook.” Even my peers, mentors, supporters, and friends try to silence me when I call someone out for their idiocy and ignorance on social media.

STOP THIS. YOU ARE UNKNOWINGLY MAKING IT WORSE FOR US. BY DIMINISHING OUR WORTH. BY CORROBORATING THEIR MISOGYNY WITH WILLFUL BLINDNESS.

I will speak my truth and I am unapologetic. I am unafraid.

I remember a few months ago getting a grossly blown-out-of-proportion (and also a snippy, asshole comment, assassinating my character) comment on my profile picture. I looked at it. I was upset.

“You just want to argue with people,” said those around me. You know what that sentence did? It cemented in my mind that I was somehow to blame for the comment.

When, in fact, in reality, the funny thing is that the comment came from left field. It was unprovoked. So, yeah, sure, I play along that I’m always wanting a “good fight.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Fights upset me; they’re hurtful.

“Don’t feed the trolls.”

“Get OFF of there!”

“Why are you getting so upset about FACEBOOK, Kelly? It’s fucking FACEBOOK!”

Before I’d fed the trolls. Or done anything except be who I am.

She’s a woman, so surely she did something to provoke that person. It’s her fault. Now she’s arguing all over the place; she is so embarrassing .

Remember that an argument against Trump does not equal an endorsement for Hillary. 

Let’s say, for a moment, that America, as a nation, is an addict. And this election was our wake-up call; our rock bottom, if you will. We’re only seeing the beginnings of how truly divisive this election has been thus far – and what’s to come remains to be seen.

We’re exhausted. We’ve been fed poison for far too long.

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Kelly Fitzharris Coody