How it All Started With Nicky

I first ran into Nicky Pacione on the Spinetinglers web site. In November 2006, his story "Spectral Exile" was listed one of the top five stories in a contest. I thought the story was pretty weak and since the site allowed - even encouraged - reviews so I posted one:

I’m sorry, but this story was just really difficult to read. I saw a lot of sentence fragments, run-on sentences, incorrect punctuation, awkward sentence constructions, stilted dialogue, lots of words when one or two would do, and redundancies (ex. "What the hell is happening," one of the patrons watched, wondering what the hell was going on.). I actually skimmed parts of it because reading it was so tough.
On top of that, there’s a lot of telling rather than showing – "unspeakable horrors" "gruesome details," "gruesome nightmare", etc. Details would make the story much better, IMO. You can’t just say something is gruesome. You have to show the reader. You also shifted POV’s several times – for example, from the narrator to the EMT’s and back again – which I don’t think works at all in a first person short story. It’s usually called "head-hopping".
The story is also quite confusing. I had difficulty figuring out what was happening and when and where. And did you mean for the narrator and Bella to be so cold-hearted? At the end, they stand there either doing nothing (narrator) or taking pictures (Bella) instead of trying to help people.
Oh, and EMTs don’t need to "look for a phone"; they carry radios.

Nicky was not a happy camper. What followed was a conversation by private message. Below is the conversation posted in its entirety except for my first reply to Nicky, which didn't get saved to my Sent Items (I fixed the settings after that). I am not normally in the habit of posting private conversations, but lately Nicky has been going on about how he is being cyberbullied by everyone under the sun, including me. I have posted this to make it clear that Nicky initiated the hostility towards me.

December 18, 2006

Nicky: I noticed you've flamed my short story,  just to keep in mind that story got accepted in two anthologies.  It made the top five for a reason, so I want to see can you do better -- or are you the kind of person who just writes fan fiction of Nightmare on Elm Street,  show me if you can do better than Spectral Exile. 

Me: [Response not saved]
December 19, 2006

Nicky: (12:51 a.m.) I worked very hard at that story and it did get picked up by a paying market.  I guess you denounced that story for one reason you're friends with Peter Barnes.  The one anthology is not being put out by so kindly refrain from ripping on that one before even reading the anthology.   I guess you wrote nothing but fan fiction so you don't know what an original story looks like.  Spectral Exile got me some new readers legitimately,  but what you say contributes to the constant e-piracy of my books.

If you don't have something nice to say about a story or someone who writes it then bite your damned tongue.  This isn't a personal attack, just common sense.  I guess your idea of Gothic horror is vampires that take it up the ass. 

Me: (3:55 a.m.) I guess you denounced that story for one reason you're friends with Peter Barnes.

I'm not friends with any Peter Barnes, and I didn't "denounce" your story. I thought it was poorly written and confusing, and I said as much.

I guess you wrote nothing but fan fiction so you don't know what an original story looks like.

Oh good grief, you don't like message, so you attack the messenger. I don't write fan fiction. I consider it a copyright violation and a waste of my creative talents. I've read some, though, and most of it is irredeemable trash. I didn't say your story was unoriginal. I said it was poorly written and confusing: bad grammer, headhopping, redundant sentences, non-existent transitions, etc.

...but what you say contributes to the constant e-piracy of my books.

Um, how does my saying the story is poorly written and confusing contribute to people stealing it? Wouldn't it be just the opposite? Wouldn't I be warning people to stay away from it?

If you don't have something nice to say about a story or someone who writes it then bite your damned tongue.

The web site didn't say, "Only post nice things and high scores." I gave you my honest opinion. And I didn't criticize you. I criticized your writing. Also, when I like a story, I say so. See my comments on "Wilderness".

I guess your idea of Gothic horror is vampires that take it up the ass.

No, I like Gothic horror stories written in proper English with plot lines that I can follow. Again, you are making assumptions about me, trying to tear me down so that you don't have to even consider anything I said. If you want to be a successful writer, I think that you need to grow a thicker skin.

Nicky: (5:27 a.m.) That story is one of my better ones, so seeing a remark like yours I respond like a personal attack because people pirated books over remarks like that.  I lost sales of my books over those kind of remarks.   If you think you can do better put your talents where your mouth is instead of criting and ripping a story a new one,  post a put a story up on the whipping post. 

That is more than I could say with what you think,  as far as I know you're nothing but a fan fiction writer or a slash writer for that matter.  Both are scum of the earth to me, because it makes it harder for me to get noticed.  I got a lot of critical acclaim in my favor and my stories do sell.   You deserved every personal attack I made via email unless you can defend it by putting up a story of your own. 

I think you prefer a hack like Darren McKeeman and believe me that bastard sucks more than some of the writers who are in the mass market these days.  It takes more to do a short story without erotic content.   I got that story as a promotion to the two anthologies noted.   Scarlett liked the story and so did the person who is doing the anthology,  so if you want to discredit a story like that then you're wasting your time.  I expect at least 3 star review before I have someone's respect. 

You're right there with that person who tried to stop the forums dead,  and he came here to chase me around to descredit everything I've done.  Don't follow his example.  If you truly think I suck go read some of the stories on AuthorsDen.  If you rip on those stories like you rip on this one, then if someone gives you a personal attack for doing it then don't come crying to me little girl.

Me: (7:18 p.m.) Dude, you need to chill. I don't care what a few other random people on the Internet think of your writing. I gave you my honest opinion of your writing, and you persist in attacking my character -- and going on about e-piracy (still makes no sense why my saying I think your writing is poor would lead to someone stealing it???) and lost sales of (self-published??) books -- so that you don't have to deal with the criticisms.

Look, if you want to improve your writing, try reading and applying:

1. "Elements of Style," by Strunk and White
2. One other really comprehensive grammar book ("Elements of Style" is a subset of grammar rules)
3. "On Writing," by Stephen King. He's got some good advice!

Then read some modern horror and anlayze how it's written. Look at sentence structure, pacing, transitions, dialogue, dialogue tags, etc. See what it is that gets writing published (legitimately, not the Lulu way).

Also, I will not be posting my work on-line for reasons I've already stated. I might check out one of your stories at AuthorsDen, but you since you seem to react to honest criticism with personal attacks, I'm not sure how that would benefit either one of us.

Nicky: (11:49 p.m.) Go back to your Poppy Z. Brite novels and quit wasting my time.  I started a small press because of and got some strong authors on board, so you got a lot of gall to think the small press is below you.  What the hell are you some kind of mass market snob?   The hell with that elements of style book,  I got my horror education from the H.P. Lovecraft, and you need to really look at writers who don't even look at a crappy book like that.  I bet you don't even have fiction written,  put your ing talents where your mouth is instead of ripping on a story that made the top five out of 300 short stories.

Nicky: (11:52 p.m.) Give me a little more respect than that woman,  I am published on a semi-professional level.  So who the hell are you to say I suck when you got nothing to show for yourself?   Put one of your goddamned stories on and see what you got.  It takes more balls to get a story published and to self-publish than not be published at all.  You're a nobody.
December 20, 2006

Me: (2:54 a.m.) Still with the insults, huh? I'm pretty tolerant, but if you keep up with the personal attacks, I will take this to the site moderators.

Now then...

I never said small press was bad. Don't put words in my mouth. Small press can be good or bad, depending on the editor. And a small press run by an editor who doesn't recognize spelling and grammar mistakes and poor storytelling is not a small press whose products I will buy. Ever. Unfortunately, that now includes anything put out by you. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Also, trying to get me to change my opinion about your story just because some other random person/editor liked it is futile. It's my opinion. I know what good English looks like, and I think you don't. That's why I mentioned the "Elements of Style" book. It's not "a crappy book". It's got good sound grammar and writing. I think your writing would improve if you took it to heart.

Let's see what else...

Why do you think your story was one of 300 submitted? And being in the top five means only that your story was better than the others, not that it is good. It's all relative.

You asked me to respect you. I did...until your PMs (and e-mail) to me where you started in with the cursing and the personal insults. I don't respect someone who behaves like that in response to criticism of his writing. It's totally inappropriate.

And finally, what the heck is "a semi-professional level" of publishing?

Nicky: (11:02 a.m.) What authority you have to say i suck then,  why don't you put one of your stories on the chopping block you cowardly bitch?

Me: (2:55 p.m.) What authority you have to say i suck then

The United States Constitution and the laws of this wonderful land allow citizens to express their opinions about many things, including the quality of your writing.

Nicky: (6:02 p.m.) I bet you read formula hacks like Brian Keene and Mary Sangiovanni.  I am rooted in the authors that predate Stephen King, you ignorant cow.  Keene sucks and Sangiovanni hates anyone who will tell her that she doesn't have her heart in the genre which I am thinking the same about you.  How do I know that you're just another no-name hack who hasn't made it yet? I've analized the genre long enough to say I know the  well I am doing, I don't need a stuck up  asshole to see that, and you ring now are a stuck up bitch. 

If you are saying I need to study those two, then no thank you.   I studied Cherie Priest's work too, and read some authors who are out of my generation and I worked with a good number of them as a publisher. So before you go blasting on me as a publisher, take a look at some of the authors on rosters.  They are some of the best in the business. You have no vision for horror, and you don't know sheer creativity when you see it. 

If you think this site is beneath you then why are you commenting on the stories then?

Nicky: (6:04 p.m.) You're not an American.   And I guess you like formula writers,  because I get sick and tired of the same old thing.  I like to do things different -- so if you don't like that lady then piss off.

Me: (7:32 p.m.) don't know sheer creativity when you see it.

Of course I do! I think your spelling and grammer are pretty creative.  Grin

I'm reporting you to the admin of this board. The cow and bitch comments were the last straw.

 December 25, 2006

Nicky: (8:25 a.m.) PUT YOUR TALENT WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!  Don't act like this site is below you and shut the hell up with the one star reviews,  just because you hate that story that doesn't mean you have to insult the people who like it.  You insulted the admin by saying that story sucked because she picked that one because she liked it.

Nicky: (1:07 p.m.) I figured out that you must have been one of Peter Barnes' buddies.

Nicky: (11:42 p.m.) friends with all the assholes who pirated my books that is you goddamned cow.

 December 30, 2006

Me: (9:44 p.m.) Nick, Nick, Nick, such vitriol on Christmas Day. Why do you think everyone who dislikes your writing knows each other? And why in the world would I want to "steal" your stories when I've said over and over that I think the writing is horrible?

Oh, but I do have to thank you for pointing out Peter Barnes. I've read through his blog on Xanga (the recent stuff anyway), and I have a whole new understanding...

 January 17, 2007

Nicky: (2:16 a.m.) What kind of horror do you write about?  I bet my next royality check that you write about oversexed vampires, and seeing that you got connected up with Peter Barnes you're starting to pick up some of his asshole traits.  He bragged about owning a pirated copy of my books and he harassed my publishers.  I know this because it was brought to my attention.  You don't see me going around harassing your publishers telling them not to run your work though the temptation is there. 

I will shut up only when you submit to the contest and see what story you got out there.   You're a bitch for blasting the story,  because I think you eat the peanuts out of the shit of Peter Barnes and Brian Keene while you're at it.  It doesn't surprise me that you might of got up to where you are by having your feet over your head.  Either deliver or shut the  up,  I managed to get paid for my work too but you do act like this site is below you.

Why do I get this feeling you're a Poppy Z. Brite clone?

And that was the end of the conversation. I believe Nicky was banned or suspended from the site not long after that for harassing and/or threatening other members. However, his rantings lead me to Peter Barnes' Xanga blog and that lead me to a lot of other fine folks who have also been targeted and harassed by Nicky.

This conversation was also covered in earlier blog posts here and here.