Sunday, October 19, 2014

Little Miss Crabby Pants Is Getting Tired

OK, seriously now?!  Little Miss Crabby Pants can literally go several months between appearance and yet this is the third time she's somehow managed to break her restraints and crawl down Wendy's mental attic stairs in the past couple of months.  But here she is again to discuss a recent Guardian article written by a YA author (who I will not name because damn the woman has gotten enough free publicity already) who tracked down (as in PAID FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK, found out where the reviewer lived AND worked and proceeded to CALL HER AT WORK and SHOW UP AT HER HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!) who didn't like her book.

I'm sorry, it bears repeating: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please see Dear Author and BookThingo for more concise round-ups.  Both have done wonderful posts.  As for Little Miss Crabby Pants?  She's here to swing a baseball bat and hopefully knock some sense into the situation.  You know, assuming any sense can be found - which at this point is highly dubious.  Especially since I've seen a lot of "victim blaming" (well that reviewer had it coming to her!) and some authors and readers somehow, for reasons that total escape me, "sympathizing" with The Stalker.

First, authors who somehow think The Stalker is some sort of Folk Hero - let's stop for a moment and put the shoe on the other foot.  Would you feel the same way if it was the reviewer/blogger/GoodReads participant who PAID FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK, found out where the author lived and worked and proceeded to CALL THE AUTHOR AT WORK and SHOW UP AT THE AUTHOR'S HOME?  Yeah, my guess is not so much.  I'm guessing if The Stalker was The Stalkee, you'd feel a whole lot different about this situation.  Would I be seeing the same amount of victim blaming?  Something tells me Not So Much For $200 Alex.

So yeah, authors who somehow think that The Stalker was in the right?  Check yourselves at the door.  Do NOT pass Go.  Do NOT collect $100.
But, but, but - Little Miss Crabby Pants, that Mean Ol' Reviewer/Blogger was using a *GASP* pseudonym!
Yeah, well guess what cupcake?  So frickin' what?  Reviewers, blogger, Average Joes use fake names online ALL THE TIME.  And you know what?  Not everybody does it because they're a Big Ol' Meanie up to know good.  They do it for personal reasons.  Some of the same frickin' reasons that authors use pseudonyms.  Maybe the reviewer likes to review kinked up BDSM novels featuring shapeshifting dragons and doesn't want her employer to hit upon her using a Google search.  Because guess what?  Employers ROUTINELY look at things like Google, Facebook, Twitter all the blasted time, especially when we're talking about a hiring or firing situation.  Or, you know, maybe the reviewer/blogger has an abusive ex in their past, enjoys social media, but doesn't want said ex to come a-knocking on their door.

Or, you know, maybe they just want to keep to keep their private life, here's a thought - PRIVATE!

Reviewers/bloggers don't necessarily use pseudonyms to be Big Ol' Meanies.  Sometimes they do it for very serious reasons and sometimes they do it for totally mundane ones.  You know, maybe for some of the same reasons you write romance novels under the name "Candy Bush."

I spent some time over the weekend hanging out with writers - one of whom who has been published for several years now.  Her first question to me was to ask if I'd spoken directly with Jane (the whole DA/EC suit that is a separate cluster and we've already hit upon).  Said writer feels about it the way I do - which is to stay it's really, really eff'ed up, that Jane now finds herself in a big ol' mess that she shouldn't be in in the first place and that it's really unfortunate for all the authors/editors/contractors stuck in limbo.  She knew that as far as talking romance novels online that I'm older than dirt and I expressed how I thought nothing like this could possibly ever happen.  Which is where I'm at with this new development of an author going to great lengths to stalk a reviewer/blogger/GoodReads participant.  Granted The Stalker isn't a romance author - but still.

I feel it's worth mentioning that 15 years ago I thought I saw a lot of unfortunate things in terms on online behavior.  Authors who weren't fans of emerging sites like The Romance Reader, All About Romance and Mrs. Giggles.  Things were said.  And my eyes did bug out on occasion.  I now feel like I owe everybody back then who may have had a moment where they got caught with their pants down an apology.  Why?


Several years ago I thought "it's gotten better."  We had a whole crop of "new" authors who had grown up with the idea of an online commentary.  They grew up with TRR, AAR and Mrs. Giggles.  Social media did throw a new wrinkle into things, but I truly thought - everybody "gets" the sandbox now.  They may not always LIKE said sandbox, but they "get" it.

Well, some people have clearly not "gotten it."  The only thing, and I mean the ONLY, thing that gives me some comfort is seeing authors I've routinely interacted with online, authors I've had professional relationships with, see this the same way I do.  Which is.....

OMG SHE PAID FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SHE CALLED HER EMPLOYER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SHE SHOWED UP AT HER HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look, let's say, devil's advocate time - that the reviewer/blogger/GoodReads commenter was a Big Ol' Meanie and "had it coming."  Let's say, for a nanosecond, that I don't think the victim blaming in this incident is so far out of bounds that it's three states over.  That still does not justify:

PAYING FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  CALLING HER EMPLOYER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SHOWING UP AT HER HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because, you know, if there was something egregious going on?  If there was something that was totally out-of-bounds?  There are other avenues.  Legal avenues.  Options.  Instead this author decided that stalking was just a Grand Ol' Idea.

Here's the thing authors: sometimes readers are jerks.  We are.  We just don't "get" it.  But guess what?  This is not a new development.  We've not been "getting" it for eons.  Shakespeare had his critics.  Jane Austen had her critics.  Mark Twain had his critics.  Charles Dickens had his critics, and so on.  And you know what?  Those critics sometimes said things about the work, about the authors personally that were "out of bounds."  But guess what?  Once the book leaves you, once the work is out there, YOU KNOW LONGER HAVE CONTROL OVER IT.  Yes, I know - that's harsh.  It's tough to hear.  And yes, there will be Big Ol' Meanies who don't like your book and somehow attribute that to you as a person.  But that does not mean you should:

PAY FOR A BACKGROUND CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  CALL THE READER AT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  SHOW UP AT THEIR HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you want to keep "control" over your work?  Write it.  Don't publish it.  Keep it buried on your hard drive or collecting dust under your bed.  The minute you put it out there for consumption, for good or ill, it's no longer yours.  It belongs to the masses.  And if you don't like the masses?  If you only want the masses to blow sunshine up your butt?  (Good luck with that by the way)  Then you cannot publish it.  Because nothing ever is all or nothing.  Nothing is ever universally loathed or universally loved.  Period.  End of discussion.

I've been online talking about romance novels since 1999.  I've been blogging since 2003.  In that time many, many, many readers have asked for my advice about blogging.  How to get started, what they should do, is it a good idea.  I've always encouraged them.  Always.  Because I believe that talking books online is better, stronger the more voices there are.  And the more divergent those voices are?  The better.  I believe in Something For Everyone.  If you don't like one blog?  That's OK.  There are literally HUNDREDS of other places you can go to get your book fix.  And really, isn't talking about books the bestest?  What do I tell these advice seekers now?  What do I say to them?  Because honestly, I have no clue.  I'm at the point where even I don't know what to say, what I should do - and people, if that's not eff'ed up after 10+ years of blogging I'm not sure what is.

I was wrong.  Things have not gotten better.  It wasn't the Wild West 15 years ago.  It's the Wild West right now.


azteclady said...

I know better than to put people in pedestals--I'm way too old for that shit--but I'm aghast at some of the people who are out there defending the indefensible.

Neil Gaiman thinks this shit with an author proudly confessing she's still obsessed with a reviewer she has stalked, is "fascinating"?

Nora Roberts thinks that the Authors United letter was a good idea?

John Grisham thinks white sixty year old males should automatically be excused for "accidentally" looking at statutory rape porn?

What the hell is going on in the world?

And please don't get me started on the many, many people who keep trying to turn the conversation about KH into, "well, what did the reviewer do?"

Lori said...

Someone needs to compile a list of every author cheering for batshit crazy stalking because I'd like to know who to avoid. The author is not the book and I've enjoyed some books written by total assholes, but at this point in my life both my time and my money are quite limited and I'd rather not spend either on people who think that way. If you can't deal with a bad review without resorting to drunk Tweeting, never mind stalking, then writing is not the profession for you. If you want to get paid to write you're going to have to develop coping mechanisms that don't involve stalking. Full stop.

azteclady said...

Go to Book Thingo and look at the Storyfy link Kat Mayo posted. She has at least a few names there. If you read the threads at Dear Author and SmartBitches, you'll see a few names justifying KH's actions there. I'm sure there are more in twitter but those are the ones I've seen.

(Wendy, please feel free to delete this if it goes against the grain for you)

Lori said...

Not to extend a topic that Wendy may not want here (Wendy, feel free to delete this) I was just hoping for a single source. I'm not on Twitter at all and I know a lot of this has been roiling there, as seems to be the way of things.

Wendy said...

AL: The thing that gets me is if the reviewer truly was out of bounds, there were options. GoodReads has shown in the past that they are not above deleting content. All The Stalker had to do is notify GoodReads of any "alleged" bad behavior and I'm sure they would have been MORE than receptive. Instead she decides obsessive stalking is more the way to go. That's the thing - there were options! Notifying GoodReads, legal avenues, heck even The Stalker using her own platform (like her blog or Twitter feed) to discuss the alleged bad behavior. None of that was done. And what we're left with is The Stalker's one-sided account of alleged harassment. Excuse the ever-livin' you-know-what out of me if I don't find her terribly credible at this point.

The whole thing makes my blood boil.

Wendy said...

Nope, not out of bounds. The big reason I linked to BookThingo was because of the tweets she culled in her Storyify link. That gives you a good rundown if you're not on Twitter. But yeah, I'm sure she even missed a few because OMG - the WTFBBQ was flying fast and furious over the weekend.

Rage. Wendy has it.

Now I'm going to crawl back into my corner and read something happy. Written by an author who I'm pretty sure will not show up on my door after running a background check on me. And isn't that scary that unbelievable thought is now lodged into my consciousness.

Heloise said...

Lori said "but at this point in my life both my time and my money are quite limited and I'd rather not spend either on people who think that way"


Un-effin-believable. I've been "anonymously" blogging/reviewing for years, cause I want to be a teacher, and let's face it, some people would be offended that their kid's teacher reads romance. And as much as I enjoy online dialogue about books, I will not jeopardize my job for it.

BevBB said...

Oh, it was the Wild West from the very beginning. It's always been that way and probably always will. What's different today is that there are like a gadzillion different ways to find out about stuff that didn't exist then. So things that might've taken months to filter through into an individual's consciousness are now right there in one's face, almost immediately.

If one is looking for them and that I think is more the key than anything else. There is something to the old saying that ignorance is bliss. ;-)

OTOH, since I really don't want to go back to the dark ages, I suppose it's more about finding a balance. Somewhere. And that ain't easy. Not if one wants to stay informed and involved.

BevBB said...

Just out of curiosity because I'm definitely not going to search for it online, if the author who wrote that article is not a romance author then what does she write? Cause I'd never heard of her.

JamiSings said...

As someone who's left bad reviews on sites like Good Reads and Amazon I'm actually now afraid. Unless that reviewer threatened the writer's family or something, what the writer did was 1,000,000,000,000% out of bounds and there is NO excuse!

azteclady said...

From what I gather, KH writes either young adult or new adult.

I may be wrong, though--at this point, all I care is that her name is synonym with batshit, criminally insane.

Wendy said...

Heloise: Exactly! And the sad thing is you could review and discuss nothing but G-rated romances and you'd still find parents horrified that you're reading such "smut."

Wendy said...

Just confirming: yes, the author in question writes young adult.

Wendy said...

Bev: I'm a BIG believer in finding a balance - and I would say that 99% of authors are really very good at this. The scary thing is that the other 1% don't have glowing, blinking neon signs flashing above their heads.

Really, I thought I'd seen it all in the past 15 years. I've never been so wrong in my life.

Wendy said...

Jami: There's so much that's wrong about this. The fact that people are applauding The Stalker. The fact that such a reputable platform like The Guardian would give The Stalker a pulpit to detail her disturbing behavior. Even if the reviewer crossed a line somewhere - there were other options. More sane, logical options. It's scary as heck.

azteclady said...

Wendy, did you see that a reader/GR reviewer was physically attacked by an author??? I can't even, I'm so fucking angry.

Story here.

BevBB said...

You know, this is why I refuse to pay much attention to news from the publishing side of reading. I just want to read a good book for a few hours, be entertained or enlightened depending to the material then just go about the rest of my life. Occasionally I want to be able to look up info about some of those books and maybe talk to others about interesting things related to what I read. Otherwise, I don't have time to get angry, wring my hands or even simply just be concerned over shenanigans people get up to.

But I'll tell you what I do care about. Someone starts poking into my private life or even worse physically assaults me in person and one of us is going to end up in jail.

Or worse.

And to be honest that's the part of this that truly bothers me enough to generate some anger. I keep wondering why the heck someone hasn't been arrested already after spewing their guts online about what they've already done... while everyone else seems stuck on how this could affect online discussion of books. Seriously, online discussion is the priority related to this?

Nah, I don't think so.

Wendy said...

Bev: I believe an arrest was made in the incident AL just posted about - but yeah. I hope like heck that the reviewer did file a complaint/police report against The Stalker - but as the reviewer has gone offline and is apparently not reviewing anymore (gee, wonder why?!?!?!?!) - news hasn't been forthcoming. What still gets my goat is that THE GUARDIAN (we're not talking Reddit here!) gave The Stalker a platform to essentially detail her WTF'ery. But can anything be done without the victim (and yes folks, that Big Ol' Mean reviewer is a victim!) filing a complaint? I'm not sure. I'm not a lawyer and what I know about the law is mostly gleaned off Law & Order reruns.

I've seen other bloggers stating they're going to stop taking ARCs and really - what is that going to solve? Reviewing a book that's been sitting in your TBR for the past 5 years wouldn't stop an author determined to start stalking you. Which means there's no answer other than to completely stop talking about books - and that's not an answer at all as far as I can see.

For my part I'm going to keep on keeping on - but mostly because I feel secure in the relationships I've built up with authors, publicists and publishers over the years. That said, random review query e-mails I get every. single. day? I already was going over those with a fine tooth comb but will probably even be more diligent now. And while I do still take paper ARCs - I might make the switch completely over to digital now.

Sad, but true.

BevBB said...

Well it's good to know that something has happened. I'm not a lawyer either but just on the basis of what's in the article how does a judge or anyone else argue against a restraining order or some such? Talk about giving out too much info for one's own good. Not to mention burning all kinds of bridges in regards to publishers. Oye.

I honestly had to think a moment to figure out why digital ARCs would be better and then it hit me. The so-called anonymity of the web and email addresses. I suppose but since in the entire time I've been involved in the romance community I've gotten exactly paper ARC and maybe one electronic one - both from authors I've spent years getting to know - I'm not exactly the expert there. ;-)

The thing is that coming from both an IT and web development background in real life, I know from personal experience that nothing is ever private on the web. NOTHING. Other people look at the story The Stalker, as you call her, tells and wonder about how much concerning her interactions with the reviewer are true. I look at it and wonder why a security/pi was needed and whether that part is pure bull to embroider an already wild story. But if that part is a fabrication but being put out by a mainstream press as apparent truth then the problem is way bigger than whether it's safe to get ARCs from publishers... this is about people losing touch with reality and calling it normal...

Like I said, do any of you want that person - or anyone like them - showing up on your physical doorstep?

I don't think so.

azteclady said...

I know I don't, but at the same time, I'm not gonna shut up.

More people are decent human beings than assholes, and though it only takes one asshole to fixate on you to make your life hell, I'm too old and--gratefully--too single, with adult children living away, so at least I'm not endangering anyone by myself by---get this!---sharing my opinions. While being female.

And fuck them if they think they can shut me up.

Marguerite Kaye said...

I read this just this morning, and after thinking about it for a few hours, my prevailing emotion is sadness. I love books. I love reading them, I love writing them, and I love reading about them. Some I love, some I hate. I write my thoughts on Goodreads about all of them, because I figure, if someone doesn't like to read what I write, then I'd like to know why, and if someone does like it, then I love to hear that too. But mostly, I write my thoughts because I like the spark you get from sharing. I've had loads of recommendations of books from this blog, and Goodreads and other blogs, and I've come across loads of new authors this way. Again, some I've loved, some not so much. But for me, it's all about sharing, and that's why I'm sad. I'd hate for these conversations to stop. Please don't be put off by this sort or crap. Please keep sharing. I intend to.