Gabrielle over at Night Owl Reviews liked “Witch of Arundale Hall”.
“This story is just as hot as it is emotional. The love between the two is so strong you can feel it and the determination of both Perry and Sarah is something else. Neither one will be deterred from what they see as the right thing to do. No matter how hard Sarah fights it the two make a wonderful couple and together they are a formidable team against any and all that would threaten them.”
You can see the whole review HERE.
With the incident that occurred last weekend and has continued to set Twitter on fire, I thought I’d give 13 reasons why I never respond to bad reviews.
1. It’s giving it too much thought.
Everyone has an opinion and though the negative reviews are interesting, they can rent WAY too much space in my head.
2. I become too focused on them
I’ve been known to get awesome reviews-several-and yet, I think of the one bad one everytime I think about the book in question. So, I’d say I don’t have a balanced view of reviews of my work.
3. It can make people defensive
Even before some of these incidents occurred, reviewers could be strongly protective of their space. For good reason. Author comment on reader opinion can be detrimental to the discussion. Readers who may have a negative opinion may stay silent in the online presence of the author.
4. It’s baiting
It is. It’s saying “I know what you said about me and I’m going to let you know I know.” Following a discussion about one’s book is fine. Staying out of it is wise.
5. There ARE internet bullies
Hale’s case is NOT an example of this. Harris’s review was pretty clear and concise about her opinion without (IMHO) being unreasonably bitchy. But that’s not true of all people on the internet. It is INFINITELY better to remain silent and let the work speak for itself.
6. It won’t change anything
I have never seen a reviewer change their opinion/rating for a book due to an author’s “input”. I HAVE seen bad ratings given for authors who behave like idiots. I don’t want to go there.
7. Even factual errors don’t actually matter
There are people that are going to read my book and they’ll know if a review is factually incorrect. Let other readers point out errors. The author’s job is to write the best book they can write and to interact with readers in a positive manner. Correcting people isn’t necessary.
8. The Dog Pile Factor
Listen carefully. When readers feel their space is invaded, they are defensive. Authors who cross a line and push into discussion can often be “dog piled”. Meaning that several internet people will come down on said author like a ton of bricks. IT IS NOT BULLYING. A dog pile happens when several people agree and don’t agree with you. Now I’m talking about in a comment section. It is VASTLY DIFFERENT when an author/person/whatever directs his or her fans to “go after” a person/reviewer/author. Dog piling can be uncomfortable and feel awful, but MOST OF THE TIME it’s not vicious and ugly. It can cross that line and descend into mob mentality fairly easily.
9. Words are weapons
that can be used against me. What you say can be quoted, have screen shots and used against me. Especially if I’ve responded with a kneejerk response to a bad review. Those responses are never good.
10. I’d love for my book to gain attention but not like this.
11. Again, it keeps me focused on the bad and interferes with writing.
12. For every reader that hates my book, there’s probably one that loves it.
13. Obsession is not healthy
And for me, obsession starts with responding…and reacting…and thinking about….then responding…..RABBIT HOLE!!! Therein lies insanity.
Okay. If you’re a regular person who isn’t writing for a living, it’s possible that you’ve missed the intense kerfuffle that is Kathleen Hale, author, and her step by step descent into stalking.
The original post is HERE. IEdited to add: I hate posting that link. Kathleen Hale has commented in a horrific way in response to the outrage with THIS. I really hate giving her more traffic.) Boiled down, it’s this. She got a 1-star review, the blogger (she claims) followed her, mocked her, talked a lot of crap online about her. Hale felt powerless and everyone told her DO NOT ENGAGE. You know, this blogger will ruin your career kind of talk.
Well, Hale responded by finding out the blogger’s real name, address, work place and going there to “confront her”. The piece is well written with smatterings of “I knew I was nuts” kind of thing. It’s kind of her thing. So, I’d like to show you my rabbit hole experience.
Starting with the original, (which when she got to STGRB I was like “NO NO NO”.) I was then shown THIS LINK. Kathleen Hale once obsessed and assaulted someone she viewed as a destroyer of her family. In this case, the person she assaulted had “lied”. Again, compelling reading, but scary as shit frankly. Again, the story seemed designed to evoke sympathy while depicting an action that would have been condemned immediately when the bare facts are known. Finally, I read her compelling piece about being raped. So I felt like Kathleen Hale’s voice was clear to me. She seemed disturbed and had experienced some horrific things in her life. Nothing I saw in any of her posts indicated she was seeking help or that she recognized her own dangerous tendency. Though she throws out offhand comments about being crazy or knowing it was wrong, in the end, she doesn’t change her behavior.
Let me say this too: I don’t find these kind of personal reveals appropriate online. Her article on her rape isn’t a rally cry to speak out, to share her experience to help others. It really seems, as much of her writing seems, self serving. Okay, I’m judging. I took myself to task for being insensitive.
Twitter meanwhile exploded.
Dear Author posted this article and I began to see it all unravel.
First of all, I saw that all of my opinions about the book blogger that Hale stalked were formed from her account of their relationship. That there was no way to verify the evidence of Hale’s “being bullied”. That there were no screenshots of the constant tweeting and mocking that caused Hale to depict this blogger of being a troll. (I promise you. If someone was being shitty to me like that? SCREEN SHOTS). No one has really answered this question and there is some who say that authors are too afraid to say anything because then THEY’LL be targeted.
Then, some of Hale’s facts in her article began to be revealed as untrue. Hale’s depiction of how she obtained the blogger’s address was different from the version given by the unfortunate person who gave it to her. The depiction of the blogger seemed to be based on nothing, with only a rather questionable website (STGRB) agreeing with Hale’s characterization. The comments on the Guardian piece seem to show that trolls-people who harass others online-should be outed and confronted.
But I couldn’t help thinking: What if the reviewer had been a sixteen year old girl? And where was the evidence that this blogger was a troll? There were tons of screen shots of Kathleen Hale’s insanity. Where was Kathleen’s evidence of trolling? And why was anyone taking Hale’s word for anything at this point when so many were showing (not just saying) how she was not being truthful?
Then, the day after Hale posted her step by step stalking manifesto, this happened.
To me, it showed that this was the new world. That being “mean online” (whatever your perception of that may be) can and will be punished.
There have been several accounts about the whole thing. There’s the Buzzfeed article which shows some authors applauding Hale’s actions. The Salon did a nice run down despite the rather sensationalized title. One of Hale’s friends posted something in her defense.
The book blogger has stated she’s quitting blogging.
The conclusion that I’ve come to is this: Kathleen Hale obtained, through manipulation and dissemination, information about another person who had an alternate online identity. (I want to point out that Hale’s version of events is all we have regarding what the blogger’s response to her was. That the explanations given were only from Hale’s perspective. And she’s not shown to be truthful) She paid money to find her. She double checked it with her publisher. Then, she rented a car, drove to the woman’s house, and called the woman at work. The blogger’s response to this is truly unknown (unless Hale’s version is to be believed).
Then, she writes and article for the Guardian in which she gives a step by step “How To” on finding out who someone is on the internet.
I’m an erotic romance author. I write books that might offend some. That picture in my header and on my profile? Isn’t me. My real name is not Jennifer Leeland. Am I catfishing people? If I say something offensive and make someone angry, do we now live in a world where the consequences are people can stalk me?
Several commenters were adamant that there should be “repercussions for trolling”. Meaning that people who spew vitriol online should be hunted down and confronted. That “outing” them is justified.
Authors have a bad habit of viewing social media as their platform-their outlet to pimp their shit-their audience. We do. How many of us know other authors who spam us with “BUY MY BOOK”? How many of us know authors who fill up our feed with excerpts and reviews? Of course, that’s our JOB!
But social media is SOCIAL. Goodreads is a reader’s site. It’s not a reviewers site. It’s not an author site. It’s for readers. Book bloggers are hobbyists who love to read. Authors are small businesses who are creating a brand. Book bloggers are your customers. Goodreads is your Yelp/Angie’s List. It’s not equivalent to Consumer Reports.
I have yet to see any evidence that shows the blogger “harassed” Hale. In fact, to my knowledge, none of Hale’s supporters have said they saw it happen. Wouldn’t someone say “Yes! I saw the blogger mocking my favorite author! It was disgusting!” Especially in view of the doubt being cast on Hale’s veracity.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It irritates the hell out of me when people give ratings to a book they’ve never read based on online kerfuffles. It also pisses me off that some publishers are purchasing good ratings. It makes me grind my teeth when reviewers post incorrect information about a book in their reviews. (Sidenote: I once participated in debate over something in a review that was incorrect. It didn’t go well, but I don’t regret it. For that author, I would do it again. I might add that my career did not end and neither did the author’s whom I defended.)
But it is vastly different to get into an online twitter war and finding out someone has two children, lives in suburbia and has a sweatshirt with pink lips on it in their car. Kathleen Hale wanted this blogger to pay. She wanted to “out” her and show her to be a fake. She called the woman’s online identity “catfishing”. Definition: lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. The blogger didn’t lure Kathleen Hale into a relationship. She didn’t create an online persona for Hale. The blogger hid her identity because it’s the internet. Because someone can label you a troll and publish your personal information.
Because someone can call you at work to discuss a bad review you gave.
I understand that there are mean people online-people who drive others to rash actions like suicide and depression. I understand that we must all be accountable for what we say.
But this is not accountability. To say that the book blogger “had it coming” is the same as saying that a drunk girl at a Frat party deserves to be raped.
Kathleen Hale has no remorse for her actions. She’s convinced (and others have supported her in this) that she is a superhero who outed a horrible monster. To me, she’s the rapist who points at her victim’s whore status and says “She asked for it”. Which is a horrible thing to say about someone who has been a victim. But if she has been a victim, why would she do this to someone? Why would she not only confront them in this manner, but then publicly out them on a website like The Guardian? Why, as a victim of rape, would she EVER think this was okay?
The whole thing is just…insane to me. What’s sad is that Hale’s writing voice and style is compelling. She’s TALENTED. And yet, I can’t do anything but hope no one will read her books and that she will find therapy in her obscurity. That people will stop cosigning her sickness. That she will recognize how much she needs help.
But with so many people patting her on the back and saying “they understand how she feels”, I don’t think she ever will. Worse? The book blogger has walked away and Hale has “won”. With no evidence at all, the blogger is convicted of being a troll. The blogger is gone.
I’m sure she counts it as a victory and I wonder if she can see how hollow that win is.
EDITED TO ADD: And my question is answered. She doesn’t see how hollow it is at all. Her interpretation of the criticism is here.
How disappointing. And how depressingly typical.
Edited to add: So here’s the review that caused the whole thing.
I’m going to say that Hale is, at best, delusional or, at worst, a liar. That review wasn’t mean or personal and certainly not vitriol. With no evidence of Harris’s “bullying” on Twitter, I have to say that Hale is not truthful.
I finally finished the last scene on my book slated to be self-published yesterday but really, that scene should have been done long before I finished it. Here’s 13 things I did to procrastinate.
Quizzes. I won’t stop taking those damn quizzes.
2. Publishing Drama
Serious time suck. Twitter, blogs, a million links to insanity…time suck.
3. Twitter hastag #notchilled
Related to the above. I spent a LOT of time reading all the tweets connected to this. Tiiiiiime Suuuuuuck.
4. Romance Divas
and related to that…
5. We All Win Critiques
Romance Divas had “First Fight” entries for the We All Win workshop. And I preferred to read snippets from someone else’s work and tell them my opinion than write the last 300 words on my book.
Okay, this wasn’t really a time waster since I’m trying to learn to do this (and failing) but I also started formatting a poetry book for my husband rather than work on my shit too so….yeah.
I use the excuse that I need inspiration to spend way too much time on YouTube.
8. T.V. Shows
I started to have to tell myself I couldn’t watch shows I like unless I did some work first. It worked about 50% of the time.
There’s been some awesome book releases of late. Luckily, I’ve been totally broke so I wasn’t able to buy as many as I would have liked.
10. First Person Quirkfest
I have a story I was writing that is TOTALLY different from other stuff I write and it gets really interesting when I’m avoiding writing.
11. Made pies
I’ve made homemade apple pie rather than write.
12. Scary news articles
I usually avoid these like the plague but they become imperative reading when I’m avoiding writing.
13. Volunteer stuff
I become way more efficient about getting stuff done with organizations I volunteer with when I’m avoiding writing. LOL!
I want to note: None of those 13 things are cleaning. That never seems to happen for me. What do YOU do to procrastinate?
With the rejection of “Christmas at Arundale Hall” by EC, I have to get moving on revisions and setting the book up for self publishing. I’ve learned a few things as I’ve gone through this.
1. Shop around
For this book, I wanted someone I could trust for the cover and to edit, so I went with people I knew in the industry. That means price was, well, what it is.
2. There are up front costs
I knew this, but I had a little bit of sticker shock. LOL!
3. Formatting is another language
Other authors talking about it makes me have to Google all the time. LOL!
4. I worry more
I really don’t want the control, but I’m finding that epublishing has its own risks, so I’m trying this route too.
5. Learning new stuff is tough for me
I have to break old thinking and old habits.
6. It helps to know people
I’ve been lucky that my friends have gone before me and are willing to help me out.
7. The money part is strange.
I always took it for granted and now I have to learn how to do that too.
8. Making a lot of decisions is a part of the process
9. So is making mistakes.
10. It’s an investment
More so than epublishing or traditional publishing.
11. The people I respect in self publishing are the best.
Like Melissa Blue and Emily Ryan Davis.
12. I will have a lot of new skills to learn
13. It’s better to remain calm and keep writing
Which is true in any publishing.
Summer has officially ended so here’s the things I love about Fall.
3. Apple Cider
4. Fall Premiers
I’m loving “Scorpian” and waited impatiently for “Blacklist”.
5. Apple Harvest Festival
7. Pumpkin Pie
9. Hot Chocolate
10. The light changes
11. Holiday Movies
12. Hunting season
13. Did I mention FOOTBALL? I love football
Jane Austen is one of my favorite rereads when I’m looking for something with a tiny bit of angst and a happy ending. The humor is always subtle and there’s a plot that’s fairly easy to follow. Recently, I began to question the attitude that Jane has toward what I’m going to call “The other woman”.
Now, what I mean here by the “other woman” (and anyone who has been in a relationship and felt threatened in any way will understand) is the chick that captures the attention of a taken man. Let’s face it. Many men are a bit ego driven and when a woman makes them feel big and strong and IMPORTANT, it can be the equivalent of a women being made to feel beautiful. My experience is that men, bless their hearts, will look and even encourage the attentions of another woman regardless of the consequences. As many times as a chick at the bar is making eyes at a taken man, that guy is returning the look with interest.
Don’t get me wrong. There are men who, even though they might enjoy the attention, keep all relations with the opposite sex at a friendly, totally appropriate level. But even the best of men can get their head turned and their egos fluffed, even if the admiration they think they’re getting is all in their own mind.
So, how does Jane Austen present the “other woman”? The first depiction I immediately thought of was in “Sense and Sensibility” when Marianne is set down by John Willoughby so coldly in London. Marianne has been charmed, believing that Willoughby cared for her. Indeed, Ms. Austen implies even in the midst of a very different happy ending for Marianne, that Willoughby did care for her. In London, however, Marianne finds that her letters sent, a very bold move for a women in those days, were not wanted.
What we all discover is that Marianne is now the “other woman”. Willoughby has committed himself to Ms. Grey, a woman of fortune, and Marianne is the young girl who tries to claim affection. A very cold, ugly rejection by Willoughby is given to Marianne and later in the story Willoughby claims the words were not his own, but were at the dictation of Ms. Grey.
And here’s where I take issue. Ms. Austen seems to judge Ms. Grey, as if she parted two young people in love rather than a woman who felt threatened. Charming John Willoughby must explain to his new future wife why a pretty young girl seems to think he would answer inappropriate letters and accept shocking familiarity. The fact is that Ms. Grey was a woman who probably fell for the same line of bullshit that Marianne did and that those actions taken by Willoughby were an ultimatum laid down to preserve a relationship Ms. Grey may have believed genuine. We only have John Willoughby’s word on Ms. Grey’s motives and actions and I wouldn’t believe a damn thing that jerk has to say.
Now, let’s talk about Ms. Steele. And before I continue, I want to say that I cannot STAND the character of Lucy Steele. She is a conniving, underhanded person who is the worst kind of female, BUT she is also kind of treated like shit in the story which should make me feel sorry for her, but for some reason doesn’t.
Lucy Steele falls for Edward Ferrers when they are young people thrown together and these two become engaged. Edward, though he maintains his loyalty to Lucy, isn’t very complimentary about her when he compares her to the most awesome Elinor. Let’s face it. Who could stand up against Elinor? No one. Elinor is wonderful. So, Edward, falls for Elinor though he is engaged to Lucy and kept that a dirty little secret.
Ms. Austen is pretty severe about Lucy Steele. Granted, the chick manipulates Elinor, basically mind fucking Edward and Elinor, knowing they are in love. But, looking at it from Lucy’s perspective, she had been in love with Edward first and had a promise of love in return. She had to fight with whatever weapons she knew how to use.
Yet, Ms. Austen paints a picture of a grasping, selfish girl who is rightly boxed in the ears for daring to love Edward Ferrers. Frankly, looking at it this way, I find it wickedly satisfactory that Lucy captures Robert Ferrers and can give Fanny the big middle finger. But we’re told that Lucy begged and cajoled to be accepted back into the Ferrer family good graces and given the impression that Lucy’s character was not a good one. Funny, since truly, Lucy was given the short end of the stick in this situation and should make us feel sorry for her. Instead, by the time I was done with Sense and Sensibility, I couldn’t stand Lucy.
There are two other instances and again, Ms. Austen seems to side with the “other woman” rather than the slighted woman.
In “Emma”, Mr. Elton makes a play for Emma Woodhouse and is soundly rejected. Of course, we readers have no sympathy for him since he wasn’t a very interesting or nice character. Mr. Elton subsequently marries another woman, Augusta, and we are introduced to Mrs. Elton who is depicted by Ms. Austen in the most negative light. Mrs. Elton’s hostility to Emma is instantaneous and Ms. Austen seems to find this unreasonable. Again, I cannot STAND the character of Mrs. Elton, but I think I can definitely see why she would be so rude to Emma and to Harriet, the young woman Emma had encouraged to hope for an alliance with Mr. Elton.
Faced with two women who had been both the object of a proposal and had hoped for a proposal from her husband, Mrs. Elton goes on the offensive. It’s not pretty at all and, I suppose, is a good lesson for all married women everywhere that even when one’s husband goes along with the nasty comments, it makes you look bad.
Still, there is absolutely NO sympathy for Mrs. Elton who is definitely an interfering pain in the ass, but then, so is Emma so…
All our sympathies are with poor Emma who was so wrong about Mr. Elton who is depicted as “little”. Mrs. Elton is portrayed as arrogant, bitchy and condescending. Things I’m sure Emma certainly wasn’t. Oh wait-
And the last one is the one that I can relate to the most, because I think this is the one we’re familiar with.
Jane Fairfax has fallen for Frank Churchill in a big way. She’s secretly engaged, has all the reassurance of his love and affection. Yet, when she arrives home, she finds Frank paying attention to Emma Woodhouse. Oh, we’re given the bullshit excuse that Frank was covering up his real love for Jane by dallying with Emma but I don’t think so. I think Frank enjoyed himself immensely, getting Emma to flirt back with him, basically playing the potential mate with a woman he had no intention of marrying.
Jane is very hurt. Understandably. Ms. Austen, however, is on Emma’s side with this and makes Jane out to be unfriendly and a victim. Emma and Frank (one unwittingly and the other with malicious intent) torture Jane not only with their cruel jokes about rumor and speculation regarding Jane’s situation, but also with their intimacy with each other. It is one of the most monstrous portrayals of a man being a complete asshole I’ve seen.
Ms. Austen gives Jane a bit more sympathy than some of her other characters, but I still find that she seems to judge the poor girl harshly. Regardless of Emma’s opinion, Jane Fairfax would have made Knightly a great wife. I’m just saying. The “happy” ending for Jane, married to the asshole that treated like shit until his rich aunt died, is questionable. But Jane’s hostility for Emma is better explained and given credence, though there was still a bit of a tone regarding their “secret” engagement.
All in all, Jane Austen seems to favor the “other woman” who attracts the attention of a man rather than the married/engaged woman whose relationship feels threatened. And the men whose heads are turned often don’t get their comeuppance. Willoughby retains his rich wife. Edward wins Elinor. Mr. Elton is in the mutual hate society with his wife, and Frank gets Jane (and he doesn’t deserve her).
I find that all kind of interesting.