Dear Reader

Reading Time:
2 Minutes

I want to thank you for your high level of participation so far in Rough Trade.

I know some of you are chafing under the rules regarding positive feedback and asking questions. I wanted to talk about that a little bit. I understand your curiosity and excitement. We have some very talented people on Rough Trade and they are weaving some outstanding stories. You feel engaged and you’re eager to tell the author that. I get it. We want you to enjoy what’s happening on Rough Trade this month.

For you grammar cops out there — it must be an exercise masochism to participate and we ALL appreciate your restraint. These works are rough drafts so, of course, there are errors of all sorts–missing words, misused words, comma abuse etc etc. I’m sure it’s driving you crazy. Do not be tempted to contact an author outside of Rough Trade to nitpick them. It’s rude.

Why can’t you ask questions or attempt to engage the author in debate or discussion regarding their plot or character choices? My gut instinct is to answer: Because I fucking said so.

BUT, I’ll give you a more satisfying (and less inspired by my mother) answer.

A writing challenge is a stressful experience. It’s difficult to explain if you’ve never been in one. Each author has personal expectations and goals for this challenge we also all have a word count goal. For some, that is a daunting and scary task.

Many of the authors on Rough Trade work full time jobs and some have kids (furry or otherwise) and that means they might have as little as 2 hours a day to write. My goal with Rough Trade is provide a positive and safe environment for writers to explore their craft, stretch themselves, make mistakes, and make discoveries about themselves and their writing. They can’t do that if they are constantly explaining themselves and their work to you. They can’t even write if they are so distracted by debate or discussion.

So, I don’t allow questions. I’m going to edit your comments if you break my rules. If you do it a lot, I’m going to ban you from commenting FOREVER. I’m not going to allow you to lure authors into debates and discussions regarding ANYTHING on Rough Trade itself. I work hard to keep Rough Trade relatively task oriented and distraction free. That’s why there is no chat room on the site. When authors are on Rough Trade — they’re at “work”. So keep that it mind — it might be your entertainment but these ladies and gentlemen are currently working their asses off.



  1. Ladyholder McCaffrey

    Thank you. This is exactly how I feel.


  2. Woot! 1 million words, you guys rock! That is an insane amount of awesome!

  3. Absolutely love the tag on this post. Lately, I feel like that because of being sick and trying to write. Thank you for the safe heaven, Keira.

  4. I know I’ve told you before, but I will tell you again (and probably again and again). Thank you for everything you do for us. I was just talking to a friend of mine about RT and how much more relaxed I find it compared to Nano. The safety and parameters you’ve provided, the work you’ve done to keep the site at optimal performance has done so much to make it to where I feel able to join in, to share my writing before it’s been edited. Hell, just to write as much as I have this go around.

    So thank you. Sincerely <3

  5. I pretty much never comment, because my precious hours are used to devour all these wonderful authors provide. Keep up the good, hard work – it’s so great to see the stories take shape, and have a glimpse into different approaches to works in progress.

  6. Thank you, Keira, for the opportunity, for the safe place and for this message to those, very few people who don’t understand just what you’re trying to do here.

    And I want to say thank you to all those who have been reading and commenting, too. It has made my first NaNo a much better experience.

  7. Can we ask if they have written any other stories and where they are so we can enjoy them too?

    • No. You can’t. The whole point is that an author shouldn’t be obligated to stop what they’re doing to indulge your curiosity.

      • ok it’s just that I really like these writers and would love to read their other works. sorry if I was overstepping. Thank you for writing all these wonderful stories and especially you for hosting this site.

      • Ah, it pays to read comments — I was almost lured into asking about prior works by one of the authors participating in this go-round. Apparently, her current story is a sequel to an earlier Rough Trade story that I somehow managed to miss. I checked the Past Challenges information and author bio page, but struck out. Ah well, you snooze, you lose!

        I really appreciate all the work you put into running these challenges.

  8. Keira – excellent. Seriously. I never thought about this situation well and you’ve put it into stark and honest contrast. Thank you for telling me something that I should have learned a long time ago, but didn’t.

  9. I tottally agree with your limitations on comments and criticism. I’m no writer, but I do know how hard it is to do something complicated to a deadline while people are kibbitzing from the side-lines. I am holding off on my comments until the month is over and the stories are complete (ish), so that I can make hopefully intelligent contributions based on the whole work, not a knee-jerk reaction to a small segment.

    Long life and happy fingers to all the writers.

  10. Thanks for creating and maintaining a supportive and sacred space for writers. In a world full of criticism, this is a real gift!

  11. Yay! I love that you have provided a safe, author friendly environment for writers. I do tend to ask questions, but, since you said ‘No’ I have not. I tend to ask retorical questions and never expect an answer. I did love the poem. Made me snicker. (now I’m off to do my daily dozen. Words.)

  12. i think it is wonderful. I do find i difficult to not ask questions…..only because i am trying to be polite and show my interest :) Totally my problem and just means i need to re-read when i write….stopping to think before submitting is something i totally need to get better at (for EVERYTHING) …. so a good learning experience ;)

    I think all the story tellers are brave and fearless and totally awesome.

  13. I just clapped. As in I, quite literally, just sat here and scared the fuck out of my animals by bursting out with applause.

  14. Woohoo!! So many words of awesomeness, you guys are amazing! And kudos to Keira for not backing down and standing in front of the writers. They deserve all the protection they can get to do what they love without being flamed – we should all honor that!

  15. i also want to say thank you keira for protecting them from our own curious minds and for being so kind as to explain to us why sou put that rule in.

    i know that when i get exited about a story i always fire rapidfire questions cause i cant wait to know and read more so you actually telling me why i cant ask is realy appriciated and helps me curb my curiosity

    also to all suthors out there
    you guys have my depest respect for the amazing work you do and are allowing us to watch
    you are all awesome


  16. On the other side of this particular equation, as a reader and habitual lurker, I also am very fond of the strict limits on comments; many such sites go out of their way to encourage readers to leave even the most minor of comments, to the point that you feel rude for not commenting. I find it very relaxing to be able to read a story without feeling pressured to tell the author I’ve done so, so as a reader I also would like to thank you for your policy in the regard!

  17. This is a great site for author’s and as a reader it is lovely to see the amount of work that goes into creating a story. It really shows how hard the author’s work and how appreciative we readers should be.

  18. Amen.

    Me, my full time job (stress-laden) and fur children (try having 4 teenagers in the house having their first period together, can you spell bitchy and nightmare… well it’s a bitchmare) We thank you.

    • greywolfthewanderer

      the horror, the horror…

      *runs away and hides* us two old codgers’ll just stay right the fuck out of their way, shall we? *offers you virtual single-malt and chocolate for service Above and Beyond the Call!!*

  19. Thank you Keira for not only running this site, but at the same time beeing abel to wriht a story. How you have the time I do not understand, but admire.

  20. Word of suggestion for newbies of Keira’s site: use the ‘like’ button.

    From a grammar Nazi.

  21. Great post! Well said!

    I’m so far behind in reading all the great writing being produced here that I couldn’t spare the time to formulate questions or give in to my slight grammar nazi tendencies, even if I wanted to;) Which I dint, as that would be rude.

    Well done to all of you.

  22. Hear, Hear!! Hail to the authors of this site!! Your stories always amaze!! So creative and beautiful words flow into a story.

  23. Seriously, that you felt you had to post this boggles my mind. I am in awe of you all.

  24. there’s no Love button :(

  25. As a grammar Nazi, let me just say that I reserve the right to grumble and glare at my computer screen. I bought it, I can do what I want! :)

  26. I am totally on board with the whole not asking questions thing. I have edited several of my comments pre-posting due to them reading like questions when actually they were rhetorical musings – kinda how my mind works! Anyway, it’s no hardship to ME to be thinking before I post. :)

    My big temptation, I have to admit, is wanting to know if the writers I am enjoying have a) written more I can read elsewhere – I have already used links on the Past Challenges page this week to find my way to one author & devoured what I found there – and b) hoping desperately that these stories will live on after the challenge in an archived form.

    So, once Rough Trade is over and people have recovered a bit, if the authors would *consider* both these matters, I for one would be enormously grateful.

    Massive thanks to Keira and all the participants for their hard work. I am loving all this reading!

  27. greywolfthewanderer

    ta, Keira. it’s muchly appreciated, so it is. *doffs his hat*

  28. Thank you Keira, for what you’re doing with this site and for giving readers the chance to read so many beautiful stories. And the writers a safe place to write, it’s really great :-)

  29. Your site, your rules. I personally don’t think you need to explain yourself. I’m just grateful to be allowed to read the stories you and your talented group of writers post.

  30. I am bookmarking this page to help remind me that I am not the only person involved in whatever is on my screen, and that it is actually NOT always about me me me.

    Great explanation, Keira, and BTW the recent posts page is the best ever–totally the way I’m tracking what I’ve read now.

  31. WAIT I just realize–how the heck are you writing so many words of enjoyability AND managing the site AND moderating every comment? YIKES I’m going to say thank you for doing all this, and letting us enjoy the fruit of your labors, and stop taking up your time.


    • Well, Ladyholder, Jilly, and Cinna all have privileges to approve commments this time around so they’re helping me out on that front. I’m actually working on 3 projects on Nano — otherwise I’d have already finished my avengers fic, I think.

  32. As a proud member of the grammar police, yeah, this is not the place to issue citations. “Rough” trade. Not “final, claimed to be perfect, prove me wrong” trade. A typo here and there is waaaaay better than I would do trying to push this stuff out.

    Also, someone contacting authors outside the site- wtf? What even? This is why we can’t have nice things.

    Tl;dr- not an author, but thanks for making this clear, because screw people sometimes.

  33. *salutes* Understood! :D

  34. Another Grammar nazi here. However, I don’t mention problems in comments anywhere unless someone says “concrit welcome”. In any case, it is silly to grammar nazi a rough draft. Grammar nazi is for the final production.

    I admit, like RavynOwl, that I find myself twitching at some things, but simple grammatical problems isn’t usually what really gets up my nose (though there are exceptions). I get a little crazy with medical stuff being presented incorrectly. I mutter, I may even cast aspersions. I am almost certain to note that what they show on TV is virtually never how you actually do ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). I know that for most authors writing about medicine is about like me writing about mathematics, but that is what Google and Wikipedia are for.

    Personally, I have no trouble when people correct stuff I’ve written (I think, oh, yeah, you are right or I think, nope, you are dead wrong about that, which ever is appropriate, and move on), but that is me and 20 years of dealing with editors. I realize that many find it very irritating and especially if they have stated they don’t want it, and I don’t blame them a bit. As for complaining about the way the story’s plot proceeds, well, Pickle and all his ilk can fuck right off.

  35. I have to say, BTW, that the quality of the writing was unusually good in this Rough Trade session. And that is impressive because the quality of the writing is usually pretty darned good anyway. All you guys should give yourselves a pat on the back and the celebratory goodie and beverage of your choice.

    And thanks, Keira for putting this whole thing together. You done good with this idea.

  36. I fully understand your reasoning, and I agree with it completely. I’ve done speed writing, though not fan fiction (I’m a college student.) and I know you don’t want to stop to answer questions when you have everything mapped out in your head and are on a writing roll. The stories this last year have all been fantastic, and kudos for you, my dear, for picking such wonderful subjects for the challenges.

    However, once the month is over, and everything is done, would you then allow us to ask questions and engage the writers? Allow us to ask why they made the choices they did with the story instead of going another way and the like? The finished work usually stays up for a month or two, giving an opportunity to engage in such conversations if the writer desires. If they don’t desire, well, they need not, of course, respond to such questions.

    Either way, I will, of course, abide by your will in the matter.

    • No, I’ll never allow that sort of engagement on Rough Trade. Allowing it outside of the challenge period would just breed an environment where authors find themselves justifying their choices to readers which I find offensive. I promised the participants from the start that I would make every single effort to prevent exactly that sort of reader entitlement.

      RT is a safe environment for writers, a sanctuary. Readers are guests here and as such your ability to engage writers on this site will always be severely limited. I deleted roughly 75 comments in the month of July from readers who can’t follow the rules so I already know that quite a few people on the site can’t be trusted to respect me, the author, or the site.

  37. The restriction of not asking questions as well as well as no nitpicking actually makes me think about what I want to post instead posting a gut reaction.
    Knowledge that my comments are going to be reviewed before they even get to the writers also makes me think about what I want to say.
    Many years ago, I saw a comment “Feedback should not be puking your feelings onto another person.” I’ve tried to keep it in mind when I post but I’ve been guilty in the past of the “loved-it-post more” crime. Since you made a posting regarding it, Keira, (whoa, more thinking caused by you *grin*) I’ve tried to not do either of those things.
    Real life makes so many demands on our time and only we know what they all could be from studies, work, family, health, and more. That all the writers that participated this past month not only in one challenge but three! gets a tip of the proverbial hat.
    And you, Keira, not only were you a participant, you also were the moderator, and somehow still have time to work on other projects and all the demands of the “Real Life”. So here’s a Thank You that’s all yours.

  38. I know RT is a safe place for writers, but it is also a safe place (for me anyway) to learn to comment on stories. I think I’ve only fallen foul of your rules twice, BUT I would never of had the courage to comment in the first place without my trust in you to moderate and more importantly instruct on what is and is not aceptable. It is much appreciated. It has given me the confidence to start to comment elsewhere and I always try to keep your guidance and rules in mind. Thanks from a non writer.

      • greywolfthewanderer

        and actually, I too have to give you credit for teaching me how to comment in a civilized manner! back in the day on Usenet I committed quite a few commenting faux pas, and hadn’t a blithering clue. thinking back now is to cringe bigtime.

        however, life rolls on, and now I do know and behave, better. so ta ever so for that too!! w00t!

  39. I’m another reader who has probably fallen foul of your rules about not asking questions in the comment box. Since you put up the post earlier about showing our appreciation as readers for all the hard work the writers put into their stories I have tried hard to only make positive comments. On that note Congratulations are in order to all the writers this month. The stories are amazing and the talent shines thru. Thank you to everyone participating and sharing.

  40. Yes I am one of those horrible people that glances at a page and picks out spelling and grammar,  but there is also this thing called a Beta…and when people want one they ASK, otherwise it’s just rude.

    And this is part of fanfic too, you choose as the reader to click a link and read an individual’s take on the accepted canon, no one is forcing you, so if you don’t like it, there is this thing called a ‘back’ button, and hey you don’t need to go and announce your dislike of the content (well, unless it really should be tagged as triggering) just DON’T GO BACK. Not hard, right…

    That people think they have the entitlement to be offended by what they choose to do on the Internet is always stunning, that it forces someone like Kiera to establish and enforce these kinds of rules. I don’t write but do edit and always ask what they need from me, what sort of feedback is going to help, and how technical, because it’s hard to have your lovingly crafted story critiqued.

    When it comes to creative design I do in other fields…let’s put it this way, there are lots of people that don’t know I draw/paint/craft because I’ve heard what they have to say, and those people, the one’s who don’t/can’t create, almost never get how personal it is. Hell there are people who can’t understand why I don’t make them things (because they treat everything as disposable and why are you going to spend hours on a crafted object when one day – probably quite soon – it’ll be trashed because it’s ‘old’). To say this is “why we can’t have nice things” – more of the same unfortunately.

    • I have to agree whole-heartedly with you. I am currently working on a number of hand-made blankets for friends who actually realize the thought and care that go into something like that. They even understand that the  baby blanket may end up arriving for the toddler. Such is the way  with heirlooms.

      Have fun with the work that you do and thank you for sharing your thoughts on the act of creating.

  41. crazedcrusader

    I was never even tempted to write for a challenge until I stumbled upon Rough Trade.

    It’s been years since I posted anything and I’m still working up the nerve, plus I’m kind of ADD about it and I tend to have several ongoing projects with little to no progress – not good for posting. But I sort of feel like maybe I could manage one of these sometime, if the inspiration strikes, and not have to deal with constant whining about when another chapter will come out or why I don’t ship a certain couple or why I don’t, in fact, think that Albus Dumbledore farts rainbows.

    (Well, maybe a little in his private life but that’s between him and Grindelwald.)


    ANYWAY, the point is, thank you, Keira, for all you do both for your writers and for your readers.

  42. And thank you for protecting these awesome writers. I really enjoy their efforts and generally avoid commenting so that I can ensure I don’t accidentally break the rules. Keep up the great work everyone!

  43. Hi Keira! I love you’r work and I a’m grateful that you share your talent with us. (:

    Thank you! Keep up the good work.

  44. Dear Keira, love your fiction, but I can’t seem to get to either yours or Jilly James sites (from Australia). I am desolate. What have I done wrong? Sarah

  45. I’m sorry you’re having to repeat this. Thank you for handling it with grace and class.

  46. I love your stories

  47. Where are the stories? I can only find the summaries.

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