I'm a goodreads refugee. I read horror, classics, literary, science fiction, YA, weird, regency romances, historical fiction, history, science, fantasy and random bits and pieces of every genre, it seems like. I don't do as much reading and reviewing as I used to, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things.
Grab some popcorn because the WTFckery factor is at an all-time high this week. Three authors have invoked the WTFckery to the highest order. I should also throw The Guardian in there because their lack of research of editing regarding one of the authors they offered their space to (or to get on their soapbox) has people shocked, appalled and disgusted.
1. Let’s start with John Grisham. On Thursday, The Telegraph posted an article regarding an interview they had with John Grisham. The title is: “John Grisham: men who watch child porn are not all paedophiles”
I’m going to post excerpt from the article from John’s mouth and you can decide how much of a WTFckery this is:
“Mr Grisham, 59, argued America's judges had "gone crazy" over the past 30 years, locking up far too many people, from white collar criminals like the businesswoman Martha Stewart, to black teenagers on minor drugs charges and - he added - those who had viewed child porn online.
"We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," he said. The author of legal thrillers…cited the case of a "good buddy from law school" who was caught up in a Canadian child porn sting operation a decade ago as an example of excessive sentencing.
"His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30.
"He shouldn't ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: ‘FBI!’ and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people - sex offenders - and he went to prison for three years."
I wonder those who have daughters who are fans of John Grisham think of his opinion? John did apologize on his website (more like damage control, IMO by his publisher because of his new release forthcoming)
It’s interesting to note John’s explanation on how his friend was drunk (was the guy’s drink laced with a roofie?) and made the mistake (the guy’s hand had a life of its own and couldn’t stop?) of watching child porn is very different from what may have actually happened:
From Teleread: “The Daily Telegraph also quotes reports from the local Sun Herald newspaper – which incidentally is running Grisham’s apology as the lead story on its website – to the effect that US justice department lawyer Kathy McLure stated during the trial that Holleman had swapped child porn images involving sex acts and intercourse involving children under 18, and even under 12. Without being completely clear on the context, the Telegraph report does suggest that anyone following the case, and the reporting of it, must have been aware of what Holleman had done.
After serving his sentence, he then filed a Petition for Reinstatement to the Practice of Law in November 2001. Holleman submitted in support of that determination “sixty letters of recommendation including … numerous other attorneys in Mississippi and Louisiana.” The last name on that list of numerous other attorneys is John Grisham.
Therefore, John Grisham wrote a character testimonial for Michael Holleman in support of his reinstatement as a lawyer, after Holleman’s conviction and incarceration. It appears very likely, unless the Telegraph reports are completely wrong, that Grisham also did this knowing that Holleman had done far worse than just foolishly browse a website involving supposed 16-year-olds, but had in fact actively traded porn clearly involving seriously underage participants.”
2. Under Speshul Snowflake Alert, New Republic posted an article titled, Amazon’s Elite Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book by Margo Howard who, accused Amazon Vine reviewers of sabotaging her memoir even before it was released.
Some key point from Margo (she also responds in the comments) about this so-called reviewing illuminati that Amazon has waiting in the wings to destroy an author’s career:
“If you do not detect the hostility in these Vine reviews, I bet your names are “Quirky Girl” and “Ms. Winston.” These people were not reviewing my book, they were reviewing me. Or rich people. Or something. And Amazon gave them the tools, through Vine, to damage my book for the casual browser.”
Vine reviewers “are not "actual readers" because, were it not handed to them, they never would have considered reading it.”
“If a "professional" reviewer or a Pulitzer winner said my book stank, I would think I had done my job poorly.”
3. Yesterday around 8am (and it’s still going), people started talking on Twitter about an article posted on The Guardian about an author confronting an on-line critic face-to-face.
The fallout of this article, and the steps this author took because in her mind she felt she was being harassed by this reviewer is chilling. The article is by author, Kathleen Hale titled: 'Am I being catfished?' An author confronts her number one online critic.
For those who might not be aware of what catfishing is: “On the internet, a "catfish" is a person who creates fake personal profiles on social media sites—pretending to be someone more outwardly appealing than his/her true self, by using someone else's pictures and false biographical information. These "catfish" usually intend to trick an unsuspecting person or persons into falling in love with them. The term "catfish" is derived from the title of a 2010 documentary film, in which filmmaker Nev Schulman discovers that the woman he'd been carrying on an online relationship with had not been honest in describing herself.”
It took me a total of three times to read the article to understand why Kathleen did what she did and why. It’s a disturbing, convoluted and contradictory piece that led to a whirlwind of discussion on Twitter among authors and book bloggers, in the grip of a massive shitstorm of WTFckery
First of all, the moment Kathleen asked STGRB blog for advice, everything Kathleen said about tracking down someone who posted what she felt was a nasty review for her book, No One Else Can Have You on Goodreads as unreliable and full of caution. Any author who praises or respects a hate blog as Stop the Goodreads Bully blog (who has also said some horrible about me on their site. FYI, the site has been inactive since the end of June) has no clout or deserves my respect or understanding to their situation. Also I have heard of Kathleen prior to this article being posted. Back in January Kathleen took to Twitter to vent her frustration over a 3 star review of No One Else Can Have You by a blogger I know, have met and interacted with on many occasions.
For some reason this one review on Goodreads out of the 1,000+ posted there for No One Else Can Have you really rankled Kathleen, so much so that she spent months obsessing over the review and the person (who goes by the name of Blythe Harris) who posted it. She then took action. In her own words:
"Over the next few months, my book came out, I got distracted by life and managed to stay off Goodreads. Then a book club wanted an interview, and suggested I pick a blogger to do it.
“Blythe Harris,” I wrote back. I knew tons of nice bloggers, but I still longed to engage with Blythe directly.
The book club explained that it was common for authors to do “giveaways” in conjunction with the interview, and asked if I could sign some books. I agreed, and they forwarded me Blythe’s address.
The exterior of the house that showed up on Google maps looked thousands of square feet too small for the interiors Blythe had posted on Instagram. According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named Blythe Harris lived there.”
Kathleen wanted to talk to Blythe, even going as far as going to Blythe’s house and watching her house, like some undercover FBI agent in a sting operation, deciding if she should ring the doorbell and confront Blythe of her review (here is the link to the review on Goodreads that was changed because of Kathleen being so upset by it, but the read-in-process comments remain). Also Blythe has written over 300 reviews and has an average rating of almost 3.50 for her reviews. An example of a nasty mean girl reviewer? Hm.) Also Blythe obtained Blythe’s address under false pretenses and confirmed the address with someone at HarperCollins.
As a blogger who is now an author, who still blogs and reviews, I am appalled. Authors obsessing and getting upset over reviews (especially on Goodreads for some reason) is escalating to a point that is extremely disturbing. This is going past a point of no return as shown by Kathleen’s actions. What if she had confronted Blythe, or whoever Blythe may be and it had gone very bad, where one or the other ended up in the hospital? If Kathleen was so concerned Blythe was harassing her or she was endangered for her life, or Blythe through emails and social media threatened Kathleen’s life or her family in some way, why didn’t Kathleen go to the authorities at least to have something on record?
I’m sick of authors, who have this sense of entitlement to them. There’s this belief now that an author has a right to know who their critics and their real names whether they’re a reviewer, book blogger or reader. Why? If an author wants to know XYZ blogger/reviewer’s real identity, then the same goes for that author. If an author doesn’t want a blogger/review to hide behind an alias, then the author should expect the same and not hide behind their pseudonym. Tit for tat.
Authors are artists and work in the entertainment field just like singers or actors. What they produce is a product, AND NOT AN EXTENSION OF THEMSELVES OR THEIR HEART AND SOUL. You think every movie an actor is in is a part of their soul? (I bet the actors of Troll 2, what is considered one of the worst acted movies and top 10 worst movies period would argue) Every time a singer produces and album, that applies? A book, movie, music album, Broadway show, painting IS NOT YOUR BABY. Why do some authors feel they should be placed on a pedestal and bowed down to just because they wrote a book and were lucky to have it published? Join the hundreds of thousands who have done the same thing. Like a snowflake that falls from the sky and melts the moment it hits the ground, there are too many of you to count, so you’re not speshul.
The internet and social media has lowered that walls that enables people to interact with others. Authors have the ability to interact with readers, as well as their critics. Because of this, it causes a big problem. Someone like Kathleen Hale confronting a reader in the real world causes big cracks all around, especially in the book blogger community. There is a buildup of distrust and fear, especially if say one day an author confronts a reviewer or a book blogger over a poor review and uses their fists or perhaps a gun to or some type of bodily harm to that reviewer/blogger where someone might end up in the hospital or in the morgue. I fear that day is coming sooner than later. If you don’t believe me, just read the article by Kathleen Hale and you’ll understand why there should be a cause of concern, including the publisher who needs to act on this situation, which in this case is HarperCollins.
Something is rotten in the state of publishing and the relationship between authors and book bloggers or reviewers (even readers who dare to post on social book sites their honest thoughts about books). There is a rot, a poisonous decay occurring where people are drinking too much of that scary Kool-Aid.
I refuse to drink that Kool-Aid or eat that apple. I fear others don’t feel the same. It’s frightening.
Roundup of Blogs and Websites specifically on the Kathleen Hale issue:
This is a very slowly paced book. With that said, I liked it a lot.
The characters were just wonderful and three-dimensional, we get a lovely old couple who have lost their only child in a tragic accident, only to have their son returned to them in their golden years, as if he had never left. The revealing of just how this return affected the two of them differently is just perfect. I loved, loved Harold and how much this experience changed him.
Bellamy and his little side story was also a nice touch, with his mother, and the preacher with his first love. It was a good way of showing the different kind of experiences that people would have.
I also found the idea of keeping the dead in prisons very realistic and very likely what would have happened, and I was pleased to see it explored as much as it was.
The ending was a little heartbreaking, though.
Shey Stahl has rereleased a book, Happy Hour, on Amazon.
—author Jim C. Hines
Bummer. Reading the blurb there is so much potential here that I feel Burgess wasted on a story that didn't make sense, a world that didn't make sense, characters you don't like, and a nonexistent plot. Let's look at the blurb shall we?:
"In the end, the zombie apocalypse was nothing more than a waste disposal problem. Burn them in giant ovens? Bad optics. Bury them in landfill sites? The first attempt created acres of twitching, roiling mud. The acceptable answer is to jettison the millions of immortal automatons into orbit. Room enough and a view. Soon, earth's near space is a mesh of bodies interfering with the sunlight, having an effect on our minds that we never saw coming. Aggressive hypochondria, rampant depressive disorders, irresistible suicidal thoughts. Life on earth slowly became not worth living. Heaven had moved in too close. We all knew where we were going and it was just up there, just far enough to never, ever leave."
You can tell by the summary here there is potential. But instead, Burgess creates a story filled with shock value and gimmick (including a chapter that's "encoded" for no apparent reason). A maniac "Seller" running around with an obsession with attaching people to other people's genitalia (and about 3 pages of description of what body parts he's attaching to another's testicles) and having sex with all of his creations (as long as they aren't alive).
So we get 200 pages of mutilations, sexual deviancy, necrophilia, mass suicide, murder...
I am just not young enough anymore to care about trying to seem this damn edgy.
Back when I was in college, I wrote for my college newspaper. By my senior year I had my own column where I commented about both the good and bad at my college. I was once pulled into the Head of the Student’s Life office because they didn’t appreciation my opinion. I was being too vocal, too harsh and it was giving my college a bad rap because the college newspaper was also sent out into the town and the local community. At that time I felt I was “bullied” into being silenced.
I refused to be silenced and carried on with my column, which was supported by the staff of the newspaper
The final article I wrote before I graduated from college was a review for the performance of Pippin. I had a less than positive opinion about the show. From what I remember, most of the reviews in the college newspaper for the theater department were very positive. I ended up writing a negative review for the show, recommending students and the public find their fun elsewhere. I also mentioned on lead’s lack of professional acting. The newspaper supported me and posted the article as it was written. A few days later the actor who played Pippin, who felt I singled him out unjustly, got very angry. One night he tried to find me so he could speak to me face-to-face on why he thought I was wrong with my review. I ended up hiding in a closet because I was afraid he would attack me for my honesty.
After my review for Pippin was posted, the show was sold out and went into extended performances. It was the most attended show in the four years I went to school. Also the brave (or maybe foolish) woman that I am went to see Pippin a second time. The actor playing Pippin, from what I was told, channeled his anger at my review and put it into his performance. If I had decided to write another review on the second performance I had watched, I would have given him praise because he improved drastically. Some may say he tried using “bullying” tactics to silence me or try to get me to re-write a retraction on my original review. I never did and was never told to.
I was never silenced.
I started reviewing on Amazon in 2003. The reason was because I would find books on Amazon that didn’t have any real blurb or mention of what the book was about. I took it upon myself to write a short opinion piece of what I had read. My very first review posted was for Where Passion Leads by Lisa Kleypas. I gave it 2 stars and felt it was D Grade. I started my reviewing career posting a negative review for an author who I consider is one of the greatest romance authors of all time. That review has been up on Amazon for over 11 years among the 7 reviews there in total. At the time I first posted that review there was no clicking of the helpful button or allowing comments to be left on reviews. The person leaving a review there had anonymity, and for the most part still do.
Since 2003 I have left 850 reviews (ranging from books to other products), using the same name- Katiebabs. Katiebabs isn’t my real name, but if I decided to post my full legal name, would that have changed the way I review, or the tone of my reviews? Perhaps, but I always stood by my words and would welcome anyone to disagree with me because I have nothing to be ashamed about. But some who post reviews on Amazon do enjoy the freedom and their anonymity as a platform where they can be honest.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of contention between some authors (both traditional and self-published) and reviewers (this could be bloggers, readers posting their feelings about books on Goodreads, or consumers “reviewing” books on Amazon) on how reviews should be written. There's this growing belief from authors that readers, aka the consumer/customer who spent their own money on a product, aka a book, should give well written explanations on why they would give a book a certain grade or number of stars, much like a professional critic does who gets paid. Some authors feel if a reader gives less than 3 stars for their book, the reader better have a valid reason because anything less than 4 or 5 stars may lead to bad sales for the author. Some authors are in the belief if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything, meaning if you don’t have nothing but praise for a book, don’t say anything at all because you’re harsh and mean words have hurt the author's baby, aka their book. BTW, who knew books were living breathing things that need to eat, poop and sleep just like human babies?
Lately Anne Rice, a very well recognized and respected author feels that Amazon is full of gangster bully reviewers and wants Amazon to change the way people leave reviews and how their names appear on message boards.
She feels if people hide behind fake names or are “anonymous” they are more prone to attack and “bully” not only readers, but authors by leaving harsh reviews as some form of revenge, or just to be plain mean. Some authors agree with Anne and have signed her petition, as well as others. Some authors feel anyone who writes a harsh review, specifically on Amazon means that the reviewer is hating on the author for some reason and wants to see them fail. Maybe even these readers are wannabe writers who are jealous of the author's success for some reason. If the reviewer’s real name is posted, and perhaps even their personal email, they will be less inclined to leave a scathing review or confront someone on a message board about their beliefs. Then that author or person can contact that reviewer personally and ask them for whatever reasons for that reviews and why. Maybe even the author can then use whatever means necessary to take down that scathing review they believe is hurting their sales and take down that so-called bullying reviewer.
This has been going on for years. I’ve written about this issue time and again here on my blog (The Art of Practicing ARC and Enough is Enough). The discussion is never ending. The way the word “bully” is used has become a joke and honestly insulting for those who have been truly been bullied. I am one of the insulted because I know what it’s like to be bullied. I was harassed and bullied from the age of 6 to 18 to the point I tried to kill myself twice over it when I was 12. I talked about my experience during the time of the “It Gets Better” initiative. For authors to assume a reader is a bully because they don’t like their book is just plain pathetic and sad. Most of the time there is hard proof that the author is responsible for the backlash. It starts when an author in a public forum like Goodreads or Amazon leaves a comment on a review disagreeing with the review for whatever reason. It’s usually condescending and has this, “how dare you ruin me this way and say such horrible things about my baby!”. The reviewer will respond defending their opinion, and then the author may come back. By then the author’s fans catch a hold of what’s going on and attack the reviewer, and then in some cases other reviewers will come to the defense of the reviewer being attacked. It never ends well.
What’s the solution to this problem? Say Anne is successful with her protest? Does that mean all reviews for any products on Amazon must have the reviewer’s information available so the creator of that product can get in touch personally with the reviewer? If whomever leave reviews/opinions for products on Amazon and elsewhere (such as IMDB for movies and Yelp for restaurants) must have their true identities listed on their reviews, then the same rules should apply for authors, correct? Authors then shouldn't hide behind their pseudonyms if they're asking the same for the consumers/readers who post reviews. If an author is going to interact with a reviewer then the author should have their real identity out there, just as the same as the reviewer. If authors are asking for all these "rules" for reviewers, then the same type of rules should apply for authors.
Authors work in a creative field, much the same as actors and singers do. Reviewers from all walks of life, to fans of actors and singers, are very critical and can be very mean in their opinions about celebrities. Most of the celebrities ignore it because unfortunately it comes with the territory. Authors need to have this same belief and stop thinking they are entitled and exempt from criticism or it’s a, "me against them" scenario.
I'm a reader who enjoys talking about books, both good and bad. I’m also an author who enjoys writing the best possible work I can. If there are people out there who feel I’m a lacking writer and are very vocal about their opinion on my work being horrible, so be it. Yes, it hurts but all I can do is move on and continue to grow and improve.
Perhaps some of these authors need to take a step back and listen to Marilyn Monroe, who was not only praised and admired, but was also put down, criticized and stomped on for the majority of her career: “When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I’m already better than them.”
I leave you with this post from Dear Author back in November 2013 titled, Taking the “Bull” out of Book Review “Bullying”:
“…However, I think what often happens in these situations is that the author in question, who feels personally attacked, sort of combines all of the individual critical voices together and calls “bully,” not because there is a repeated pattern of victimization, but because more than one reader criticizes the author’s commercial product.
This is not bullying. Just as it’s not bullying for a reader to use gifs and snark and even outright sarcasm, parody, and harsh irony in describing a personal reaction to the author’s commercial product. However, because it is in the perceived economic interest of the author’s commercial presence to have his or her product viewed in a positive light, an accusation of bullying can, in fact, create the illusion of personal abuse and/or harassment as the author merges the personal and professional aspects of her voice, empowering her readers with her commercial (authorial) voice in accusation, while simultaneously claiming personal victimization.”
Other articles to note:
You can find my February Wrap Up post here @ The Silence in the Library.
I am painfully behind in my reading holey moley.
Bra-burning, manhating lesbian with hairy armpits and unshaven legs campaigning for the superiority of women, I am NOT.
This widespread misconception of the definition of modern mainstream feminism continues to distort public perception. Radical Feminsim is the extremist camp no mainstreamer wants to be associated with, just like Al-Queda to Islam, but nonetheless it’s continually used as a representation of the feminist “norm” by the ignorant and those opposed to gender equality.