A Free Dreamer Review: Don’t Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Gaming while female is enough to incur the wrath of the dude-bros, and they’ve come for me. Instead of fighting back, I’ve created an alternate account. Male name, male pronouns. And I’ve met this girl. I’ve always liked girls, and Laura’s adorable and smart and never gives up, and she likes me back. Or rather, she likes the man I’m pretending to be. But I can’t tell her I’m a woman without the mob coming after her too.
And besides: I might not be a woman, not really.
The truth is, I don’t know what I am anymore. I’ve spent my whole life being told how I’m supposed to act and what I’m supposed to be, but none of it feels right. And my lie is starting to feel truer than anything I’ve ever been.
There’s a convention coming up, but the closer it gets, the more I have to choose: lie or fight. But if I don’t stand my ground as a girl, am I letting the haters win?
Then again, those aren’t the only two ways to live.
Being a female gamer myself, I was immediately drawn to this book. Personally, I’ve never experienced discrimination in the gaming world because of my gender. But then I’ve never played MMORPGs like Daphne does (way too complicated for me – I’m a very casual gamer) and I tend to play male characters, given the choice.
If you haven’t guessed from the blurb and my opening: This book is full of gamers. MMORPGs play a major role throughout the story. Having never played games like that myself, some of the typical slang took some getting used to at first. I think it takes a gaming nerd to appreciate the work the author put into creating a realistic gaming world online as well as offline. That was absolutely brilliantly done and felt very realistic.
I loved how diversive this book was. There are so many gender identities, sexual orientations and ethnicities and it’s all portrayed as perfectly normal. Every supporting character had a distinctive and unique voice and I loved every one of them. The musketqueers, Daphnis’ roommates and best friends, will forever have a place in my heart. Their friendship and support was truly unconditional . It was easy to really feel their friendship. Those guys are the kind of friends anybody would love to have.
It was interesting to watch Daphnis’ struggle with their gender in comparison to their roommate Alain, who wasn’t cis either. But for Alain the whole gender identity was rather simple: “Ivy and she when I’m tucked, Alain and he when I’m not.” It seemed downright effortless compared to how much trouble Daphnis has with their gender identity. Certainly a very interesting contrast. While I know my way around the gaming community, I don’t know anything about what it feels like to question your gender identity. So while this seemed quite realistic as well, I can’t guarantee it actually is.
There are some minor things I wasn’t entirely happy about, however. First of all, I would have liked a little more depth overall. Be it Daphne starting to think about her gender identity or the love story, a little more detail would have been nice. As it was, the romance part of the story felt a little bit rushed. And I wasn’t entirely happy about the ending. The HEA just seemed a little too happy for me.
Overall, I absolutely loved “Don’t Feed the Trolls”. It’s a breath of fresh air. Just don’t expect an epic love story and focus more on the other parts.
“Don’t Feed the Trolls” made me think. About gaming, sexism, gender and all things related. Not many books manage that. It hit very close to home and I think I’ll view the gaming world differently from now on.
The cover by L.C. Chase is pretty cool. It definitely works for the story.
Sales Links
Book details:
ebook, 230 pages
Published April 1st 2017 by Riptide Publishing

Join with Amelia C. Gormley as She Talks Gaming, Mystery, and her latest release, Player Vs Player (book tour and contest)

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“Change is dangerous when it pushes back.”

 

Welcome, Amelia C. Gormely.  Amelia is here today to talk about gaming, prejudices, mystery and Player Vs Player, her latest release for Riptide Publishing.

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Hi and welcome to the Player vs. Player blog tour!

Player vs. Player marks my first attempt at writing a whodunit, which was a bit of a scary endeavor. I’ve always been better at stories that are about character growth and exploration, of taking a character and putting them in a situation and then sitting back and watching the evolution of that character as they work their way out the other side. PvP was a much different experience, and something which took me outside my authorly comfort-zone.

Writing Player vs. Player also gave me an opportunity to combine four things I’m deeply enthusiastic about: gaming, fandom, activism, and of course, LGBT romance. I’ve been a gamer since early childhood, back when Atari had just released their first consoles. My teenage years were marked by NES and Sega, and early adulthood saw the transfer of my gaming allegiance to PC gaming.

It was because of my involvement in the fandom for Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise that I began writing m/m romance, and I eventually published courtesy of the encouragement I received from a friend I made through that fandom.

It’s also Dragon Age fandom that opened my eyes to some of the toxic undercurrents in gaming and geek culture. I had, of course, been witness to the casual misogyny and homophobia within gaming culture at various times, but until I witnessed the vitriolic free-for-all against former Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler, and then the attacks on feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian. It brought to my attention the subject of convention harassment and the Fake Geek Girl trope that is used to marginalize and invalidate the presence of women in fandom.

So when the idea occurred to me to write a book bringing all these things together, both acknowledging my roots as an author and a gamer, I had to take it. I know that the LGBT romance audience is full of other people who have experienced marginalization, misogyny, homophobia, racism, negative stereotyping, and inadequate positive representation in geek and fan culture (which by all means are not issues limited to gaming.) And I know we’ve all been witness to, and maybe even targets of, the toxic backlash that comes of speaking up and trying to change that culture.

This book is for all of us. It’s for the critics who have been driven from their homes and forced into silence by threats of violence. It’s for the cosplayers who have been groped and assaulted without their consent. It’s for the LGBTQ/POC/female geeks who have heard casual slurs in fan spaces that left them feeling alienated and unwelcome. And it’s for the people pushing to change that culture, and to make geekdom something inclusive for all of us.

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Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.

Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.

But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.

No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.
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Contest: Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one book from my backlist (excluding Player vs Player.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 13th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Author Bio

Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.

Her self-published novel-in-three-parts,  Impulse ( Inertia, Book One;  Acceleration, Book Two; and  Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), the post-apocalyptic romance,  Strain, her New Adult contemporary,  Saugatuck Summer, and of course,  Player vs. Player, available now. She is presently at work on two more novels set in the Strain universe, Juggernaut and Bane, coming summer/fall of 2015.
You can contact Amelia on