Monday, March 12, 2018
Auntie Wendy's Unsolicited Advice To Romancelandia
1) Accusations of catfishing by author Santino Hassell. I'll be honest and say I'm still (at least) 85% confused by this entire story. And the more I try to unravel it? The more confused I get. What I do know? Even the scratching of the surface I've done, the whole thing is really skeevy - and that's all I feel comfortable saying without doing a major deep dive into the details. This Goodreads thread is the least confusing of the accounts I've encountered. I'm hesitant to hash it out in any more detail than that because see above. I haven't done a deep dive into all the various threads, accusations and accounts.
2) Accusations have been made against Sarah Lyons and Riptide Publishing. Lyons has resigned and Riptide has issued a statement. I'm still processing this. I've known Sarah for many years, we follow each other on Facebook and Twitter, and I routinely interact with her when I see her at conferences. I have friends who have published with Riptide. This one hits closer to home for me than the SH stuff and I'll be frank: I'm still processing.
Which leads me to this blog post. Don't worry. I'm not going to vomit my feelings all over this blog, but I have some things to say and I think maybe some of you may want to hear them. If not? No harm, no foul.
Even when fandoms support giant industries (romance publishing, comic/graphic novel publishing etc.), they're still insular. Why? Because fandoms, by their very nature, imply an Us Against The World mentality. It's the Ride Or Die Philosophy. The "normals" don't "get" me so I'm going to find a tribe of people who do "get" me and hang on by my fingernails. Because of this, we expect to feel safe in our fandoms. We don't want to believe that people within our fandoms could possibly suck. And that's the rub...
Fandoms are full of people and people can suck. And when you're blind-sided by sucky people within your tribe that you considered your safe space? The betrayal cuts that much deeper. It just does.
This blog post isn't about me taking sides. What it is about is to say to everyone hurting right now, I hear you. Romancelandia hears you. So I want to give something back to my wee corner of the community. That corner of the community that I glommed on to back when I started this blog back in 2003: the reviewers, readers and fellow bloggers.
Handling news like this is never easy. However I want to share one thing I've learned in the 19 years I've been reviewing romance novels and the 15 years I've been blogging - and this is me, so yes, you know I'm going to phrase it in cliches:
What hill do you want to die on?
I've been around a long time folks. I've seen all manner of kerfuffles. From the minor, quaint ones to the major, people are really hurt, this is really skeevy ones. At the end of the day, you need to live with you. No matter what you decide, some will think you're making the right decision and some will think you're beyond the pale. And over the years? I've had to make those choices for myself and how I decide to conduct the business of this blog. I haven't always publicized these choices. I read the stories, I saw the news, I made my decision(s) that best fit me and this blog. Admittedly easier to do since this is my blog and I'm a one woman operation.
Is this blacklisting? No. Let's be brutally honest, my tiny blog is not going to bankrupt anybody just because I don't promo a certain author or book on it. This blog also isn't much of a money-making venture. I make some pennies on Amazon affiliate links but trust me when I say it barely fills up the gas tank in my car a few times a year. No, these are choices I make so I can sleep at night. Because I, personally, think it's the right thing to do. And that, as a blogger, reader or reviewer, is what you need to do. Find your line in the sand.
It blows and it's not easy. Which is why you find your line in the sand. Take comfort in it and know you're making the right decision for you. I've been lucky. There's only been a few dust-ups in Romancelandia over the years that I felt compelled to look at my line in the sand and take stock. There are authors I choose to not promote anymore. Publishers I couldn't cough up free publicity for (no matter how minuscule my blog audience) because of business practices I found troublesome. Blogs and bloggers I stopped following because a bridge crossed was one too far for me, personally. Nobody is immune to this - yes, even me. I'm sure there are folks out there that have muted, unfollowed me and think I'm full of more manure than a pig farm. Of course I am sorry for that - but I was a hill they didn't want to die on. And Romancelandia, for all the good and ill, needs to be a space where people can find their joy. I've always hesitated to offer a unilateral explanation of WHY people love romance, but I think we can all agree that one very big reason is because they're deriving some sort of joy from it. I mean, otherwise, why bother?
When upsetting news and revelations hit our community it's OK to take your time and process. It's OK to process these things in your own way, on your own timeline and quietly make choices that are right for you, personally. Some will abide them and some won't. Not all decisions are easy (mores the pity). As a reviewer, reader and/or blogger - you make the decision that you can live with. You decide if this is a hill you want to die on. And if it is? Own it.