Tag: Amazon removed my book
Happiness is all about lazing about with someone else in your underwear.
Wait, is that Justin Long?
Seven years ago, I met my husband. An adorable, bespectacled young man who I had dinner and a movie with. I’ll never forget the evening when we stepped into that cinema. The Dark Knight was a smash hit, and the theater was crowded full of people lining up to see it. As we reached the counter to buy our tickets, there was a movie I asked to see. And it wasn’t Batman.
“Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” I said. The cashier handed us tickets to The Dark Knight instead. To this day, I don’t know if it was a hint that we wanted to watch Batman instead, or if they had been so used to handing out Batman tickets all night that they were on autopilot. I like to believe it’s a little bit of both. My now husband and I sat through the latest Mummy film, cringing the whole way, not laughing once, and mostly just whispering shit to each other to get through it painlessly. I learned something that night. Okay, I learned two things. First, just because you loved the previous installments of a film franchise doesn’t mean the newest release isn’t going to be worth watching. Second, I had a new best friend.
He and I spent that entire night talking shit about the awful movie we saw. “We should have just seen The Dark Knight,” we kept saying. We did eventually see The Dark Knight together… on DVD, when we purchased it at the video store together as a live-in couple. I think I preferred the latter.
About a year into our relationship, I told him about a book I had plans for. I was not yet an author at this time, and I had never published anything before. To be honest, I had no idea that a book could be self-published for free these days. I was always told that self-publishing was a huge scam because you have to foot the bill for the copies you print. Times have changed with on-demand publishing, a method that costs you nothing and gives you nothing but opportunities. I was certain that in order to publish anything, you first needed an agent, and then you needed that agent to give a crap about you. Agents still exist of course, but they aren’t necessary.
He and I were sitting inside of a Chili’s restaurant. I remember it as though it happened yesterday. I wanted to share everything with him: my hopes, my dreams, my really, really weird fantasies, and most of all, my writing. I deemed this night important, because it was the evening I knew for sure that he would always be someone to support me in my endeavors.
“The book is about…” I hesitated. “It’s… a little taboo.”
He told me to tell him.
“I mean, it’s not really too extreme.”
He again asked me to just tell him what it’s about. He might have laughed, in that forced, awkward way. Knowing the way he is now, I wouldn’t doubt it.
“It’s about a young man named Andrew. He meets his father for the first time at age seventeen. And he falls in love with him.”
“Oh,” he said first, then, “That’s not that weird. It happens. The way you built it up, I thought you were going to mention something horrible like… raping babies or something.”
“They have sex.”
“They’re adults, aren’t they?”
It was then that I realized writing this book might not be so difficult. Of course, he would later admit that the book made him uneasy during my progressive writing of the first draft. I wanted him to help me read and revise it, to prepare it for a rewrite or republishing. I wanted his up front, honest criticism, his hard-edged truth. I always trust him with that. He never lets me down. If he weren’t already overworked, I’d pay him to be my editor. For a while, he avoided reading it. It made him uncomfortable, and he wasn’t shy about this opinion.
I kept writing it.
Soon, the original manuscript lingered on to over five hundred pages. I was hooked on this story. It was unlike any I had written or read. I no longer cared whether Andrew and his father, Kevin, would become a literary legacy or not. I had to tell their story as if it actually occurred. I was so engrossed in my writing that I took long breaks from doing anything else. I would stay up at all hours of the night, even when I had to get up early to work in the morning, to write a new chapter. Kevin and Andrew became more than characters to me. I had spent so much time with them that with each push of the plot, their personalities evolved, became more real. They were no longer some generic couple I originally wrote them as. They had good points and bad points. They were happy, and they were sad. They were more than romantically involved. They were destined to be together, and I was destined to write them.
Never Mind the Genetics was technically the first novel I ever wrote, and completed.
But even back then, I knew it wasn’t going to see light. I worked my fingers to the bone telling their tale, and realistically, I faced a fact all too consuming: that the common public might share my husband’s opinion. That it was uncomfortable. “Just read it and see them for yourself,” I’d say. He still hadn’t. I love my husband, and I respect his thoughts and emotions. I took “no” for an answer. Instead, I shared with him the plot, and plans for the future sequels I wanted to follow it with.
I let the manuscript sit, untouched, for a long time. Months became years. If digital documents could collect dust, Never Mind the Genetics would be buried in it. After a few years, my friend suggested I self-publish on digital media. On Amazon Kindle. “Wait, what? What the hell is Kindle?” She said that since I loved writing erotica, I should try it out. So I did. I wrote a short, erotic story about a step-father and step-son. Amazon banned it.
Okaaaaaaaay. Square one is a few steps back, but not far. I was more than a little livid that my story had been banned, and hundreds of other stories just like it remained living, but after Amazon gave me a half-assed “Yeah, well, we did what we wanted and you should live with it. Oh and you broke some rules or something,” I decided to give up erotica, seeing as how I had no freedom whatsoever, and Amazon arbitrarily ensues the ban-hammer on anything they deem “inappropriate” based on nothing but their own knee-jerk reaction to things that make their skin crawl a little bit. I wrote another full-length, non-erotic novel instead.
For the Sake of Happiness was probably the most depressing year of writing I’ve ever experienced. The book was, for the most part, about the consequences of abuse. It was dark, it was unhappy, it was sad as fuck. But people seemed to really love it after its publication. Seeing as how I was much better at writing novels than short, sleazy tales, and my skill had significantly improved, I put my foot down.
“I’m re-writing Never Mind the Genetics. I’m finishing it once and for all. And I’m going to publish it.”
The re-write was more than fun for me. It was an incredible experience. Both Kevin and Andrew had so many years to grow in my imagination, and since they had, I already knew who they were as if they were life-long companions. They turned out even better than before. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of my accomplishments. I’ve come a long way since the first draft– many years. I’ve gotten married since then. That’s how long it’s been. Now that it’s done, I almost want to cry. But it’s not truly over, not really. I have sequels to write now. Many of them.
You might be wondering if my husband still holds the stance of refusing the read Never Mind the Genetics. He doesn’t. He’s agreed more than once to read it for me. In fact, after all this time, he’s come to accept Kevin and Andrew for who and what they are, including how important they are to me. He has long discussions with me about my plans for the sequels. He tells me which ideas are good and which are bad. If someone asked me if he liked them as characters, I’d even say he does. During one discussion in particular, I once said, “Ben (another character in the novel, a friend of Andrew’s) doesn’t really like Kevin.” Surprised, he asked, “Who could dislike like Kevin?”
A few years ago, I showed the original first draft to someone I barely knew. I had only spoken to him for a couple of weeks. I told him about the novel, and he expressed interest in its originality, and asked for a copy of the manuscript. He devoured it, and begged me to write more. That man is now my best friend, and to this day, still anticipates reading the final print of Never Mind the Genetics. I’ve already ordered him an author’s copy, which I plan to sign and ship to him ASAP. He knows all about the sequels I plan to write as well, and how they’re going to play out. He’s still excited. Something he told me a long time ago still hovers around in my mind regarding the novel:
“I never would have picked something like this up on my own. And I would have missed out on a great story.”
Here’s to hoping the general public love it just as much.
And to praying that Amazon doesn’t stamp a “too icky” sticker on it and ban it forever. I’d do more than send a few angry e-mails their way.
Never Mind the Genetics will be available for sale in time for Valentine’s Day. Give a copy to your love… or maybe your father. Hey, it happens.