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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:
N.B. This open letter comes as a response (among many) to recent events surrounding the author Kathleen Hale, author of "No One Else Can Have You," a book published by James Frey's publishing company Full Fathom Five. The author had previously had polarizing opinions regarding her work in the past, but Hale's obsession turned to one particular blogger, which then resulted in a situation that many (including myself) have found horrifying and worth a boatload of outrage. A few good responses to peruse:
I'm opting out of writing the name of the blogger in question because I want to have some protection of her identity and not directly link to people who would be interested in maligning her character. I will say that I support her and will help in any way that I can defend her name, identity, and right to write critical reviews as she sees fit.
At the time of this writing, I do not know if Hale will see this response, but it's dubious. I've blocked her on Goodreads and Twitter for my own personal reasons (personal reasons being that I do not feel safe given the turns of her thoughts and actions, and I don't want to be used as target practice for her agendas. My blunt opinion, YMMV.). But this is food for thought and I wanted to bite the bullet and speak out like many others have been doing on this matter. The more discussions we have, the better we can do at elucidating just how wrong these actions are.
To Kathleen Hale,
You know, I don't think this post needs any introduction other than this assertion: you need to work out whatever issues you have personally going on and you need to address them right now.
Outside of the internet, outside of writing books, don't do anything else. Just. Stop. Listen.
Step away from whatever soapbox you're partaking in and talk to someone in person about your issues. Your issues go far beyond one thing, and it's not the blogger that you're currently using as target practice. Your issues go far beyond her and you're using her as an excuse to exercise control over...something. WHAT that is, I don't know. WHY that is, I don't know, but to say it's gone too far is a sincere understatement and the person in the wrong is not her: it's YOU.
There is no excuse for you, as a professional author or even as a human being, to be doing the following actions to someone critically assessing or just reflecting in lay terms about your work:
I don't care if said reviewer said your book was the byproduct of a unicorn's bum, this does not give you the right to do the things you did. You know, words can hurt, criticism can hurt, but the thing about it is - you don't have to internalize someone's review or assessment of your work. It may be one or may be a select group of people who want nothing to do with your work for whatever reason, but you know what a professional author does in that case? They shake it off, they walk away,they leave it be. There is nothing wrong with choosing to leave a person's (or group's) critique of your work at the door. Many people do and are able to go about their careers with flourish. Even with some people just starting out as authors, if they have the right attitude to take criticism in stride, they go on to have fruitful careers. It's usually those who take it too closely and start lashing out at others that get the burn of things. It's a battle of wills and confidence and knowing when to respond and when to let go.
Many of us know that an opinion is simply that: an opinion. A person can still dislike your work and still be willing to talk to you in a cordial way. The thing about it is, I honestly don't think said blogger (and yes, I know, trust, and respect this blogger) was trying to denounce or defame your character in any way - or even ruin your career. She pretty much wrote a two word review, and you took it to offense. YOU took it as such. YOU were the one who kept obsessively checking up on her. YOU made it your mission to supposedly "out" her. For what, giving you a 1-star review? For using a pseudonym? For saying things that you didn't agree with?
And yes, your actions are precisely that, coming from someone looking on the outside in: OBSESSION.
That is not healthy. This goes beyond any book discussions or reviews or anything like that. This is something more, and apparently, you've done this in the past. This is all on you.
This says more about you than it does about any so-called "bullies" or "trolls" or anything like that. We need to leave that dialogue aside, because those are empty labels for excuses for things that you have done that are, sincerely, messed up.
We need to stop these power wars over authors/reviewers/readers or whomever. There is not a hierarchy that makes one greater over the other. We are people, we have lives, we are creatures that have the ability to say "no, I don't like this" and have different ways of saying that in the spectrum of the world. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SAYING "NO" OR "I REALLY DON'T LIKE THIS." We just have different ways and degrees of being able to say that, and we need to learn to recognize and respect that, even if it hurts.
In a previous Soapbox Saturday post, I said this measure before, and I'll say it again: it is not always about you. People's opinions do not revolve around you and your world and heaping praises upon whatever work you may produce. You do not have the jurisdiction to control what people say, and FFS, you need to stop trying to do that.
Why you think this blogger is the bane of your existence and you feel the need to bring her down to some uncompromising position to ruin her is beyond me. I don't know your reasons. I wish I did, so that I could clarify and tell you how wrong it is to try to do what you're doing to her. Doing what you're doing at present to ANYONE, regardless of the role they may have, is WRONG.
You would think this would be common sense, but obviously in your case it's not. It's not. I'm not saying this to be a "bully" to you or be an "armchair professional" or control what you say or do, but I'm saying it because the dialogue and actions you have taken are toxic and affecting other people. Authors, bloggers, reviewers, even lay readers and beyond those roles, which are not in one spectrum. They are fluid, dynamic, and wide ranging identities, not the isolated, prejudiced portrait you paint them as.
Because who's to say that the blogger you've targeted or the next person that somehow gets into your sights might not get hurt or killed because of what you choose to reveal just because you're oh-so-hurt and concerned over how they've wronged you?
It's not always about you. It's not always about YOU. It goes far beyond that. You need to learn to respect your audience, even if they're critical of the work you do. Respect their privacy, respect their boundaries, respect the fact that they aren't going to be kissing your feet for everything that you do.
It sickens and saddens me to see and hear what you have done and honestly, I don't know if my words can reach you. Maybe they may reach someone you care about and trust, maybe they can tell you what you're doing wrong. I hope that you have the mind to listen to it and see the effects your actions have taken - not just on yourself, but other people and looking at the bigger picture to be had here. Why people are fearful of your actions, thoughts, and details of what you have done to this blogger. And who's to say that you won't repeat these things in a later spectrum?
I seriously hope you get the help you need and learn that this isn't acceptable on any level or measure. Because seriously, your attitude, actions, and approach to this whole situation leave much to be desired. And I'd deign to sit on my hands and remain silent about it. You do not scare me, you do not control me, you do not rule me. As a reader, critical reviewer, and aspiring writer - you do not control my (let alone anyone else's) motivations, reasons, or words for ANYTHING.
And given the actions you've taken, I will never read any of your books. You've lost a potential reader permanently. Not because I'm some heartless, mean spirited person who seeks to ruin your career, but because I don't condone stalking, harassing, shaming and seeking to silence someone who dared to have an opinion differing yours - however strong it may be. And if that makes me a product of your ire, so be it. But at least I know and can continue sharing my honest opinion over the things I read and respect the fact that other people have that right without having so called professionals tracking their every move. Because I know there are more important things to consider, and I at least have the decency to respect other's boundaries and know what lines not to cross. You've crossed too many and that is what's going to burn you in the end. Not your books, not anyone's opinion of them, but your own actions, prejudices, ignorance, and disregard on any respectable level.
Note: I was informed that Blythe's initial review was edited after Hale posted her article. Regardless of how long the review was, Hale's behavior is still disgusting and not excusable.
It should be obvious, right?
Stalking is NOT okay.
I mean, how many Lifetime movies have we’ve seen where the crazed stalker is taken away at the end of the movie and we’re told over and over again that it’s NOT the victim’s fault.
Yeah, thought so.
However, imagine my surprise when I open my Twitter feed this morning and see a YA author gloating about having tracked down a fellow blogger’s address.
My jaw literally dropped as I kept reading this article. And especially after I read the comments where some were actually applauding Hale for tracking down Blythe and demasking her.
To be honest, I don’t care about Blythe’s identity. Bloggers use pseudo names all the time. God knows, I don’t use my name. I rarely if ever even post pictures of myself because the YA blogging world has gotten cray cray in recent years. And only a few people from my private life know about this blog.
We all have a right to privacy.
And Hale violated Blythe’s right pure and simple. And then gloated about it online. As if she was justifying some big wrong.
A book review sent Hale on a couple Twitter rampages, months of stewing, getting Blythe’s address through deceptive means, and ultimately a confrontation that would be on par to about something you see on a Lifetime movie of the week.
And as previously mentioned there are some people who aren’t dumbfounded over this.
Hale doesn’t deserve a pat on the back. Because of a review she tracked down a woman and invaded her personal and professional life. A review.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time Hale has gloated about an eyebrow raising confrontation.
Back to this specific case: Oh, but finding someone’s home isn’t illegal?
Yeah, but how would you feel if a complete stranger walked up on your doorstep, called the place where you worked out of the blue because of a book review.
Well, she deserved it she lied about her identity on a book blog?
This sort of claim is just skirting the issue. When I looked at the issue, I’m not even going to consider the claims that Hale made against Blythe. Because, well, Blythe hasn’t had the opportunity to tell her side of the story and to be honest it’s not even relevant. What’s relevant is what Hale did. She spent months scrutinizing Harris’s posts and having some sting that is even more immature than the most immature of YA books.
Yet, people are defending her. Even authors.
If I was Harper Teen I’d be concerned about this. While Harris is a grown woman, several bloggers are teens. How about if Harris had been a thirteen year old that Hale tracked down?
Age really shouldn’t matter though. Most professional companies and organizations have strict rules about how ones personal information is given and how their employees use that information. While Hale alleges that Harris gave her address willingly for an interview, that was for an interview. An interview that was made for her book which despite what many authors think is not a paper baby. It’s a product. A product for Hale, her packaging company, and Harper Teen. So in essence, Hale got the address as a part of her work for Harper Teen.
Victim shaming has always been an unfortunate part of our society. The justification for what Hale did is victim shaming. I feel as if the commenters shouldn’t focus on what Harris may allegedly had done, but on Hale’s actions. Frame it any way you like, but what Hale did was scary and unprofessional.
And I won’t be buying or reading any of her or her supporters work.
Kathleen Hale stalked a reviewer who gave her book 1 star. She defamed her, harassed her and turned up at her house, claiming she was 'catfishing' her.
What she did is not okay. It's never okay, and it wasn't okay for the Guardian to let her brag about it.
Oh, and she also cites Stop The Goodreads Bullies.
Read more on the site.