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I read Robin’s post at Dear Author re the remarks made by Michelle Buonfiglio during the Princeton Romance Scholarship Conference. I really wasn’t surprised by the tone and the passive-aggressiveness of her presentation. I’ve always considered her to be the perfect smiling assassin.

Robin’s column was well thought out, excellently written, and genteel in tone. As was SB Sarah’s.

It’s a shame girls, but I’m going to have to bring down the tone of this gentle discourse, and say what you were probably thinking, but were far too polite and politically clever to say, given her allegation that the rest of Romanceland are made up of vituperative whores.

Methinks Ms Buonfiglio is a fucktard.

She makes me feel ashamed to be female, and a romance reader. She really does. I’ve always avoided RBTB, because I hate those rah-rah-Miss-Mary Sunshine blogs. Also, her endless self-promotion is most off-putting, even without the sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice tone of her blog. Some people like those kinds of blogs, I’m not one of them.

She always reminded me of those highschool girls who would smile at you in front of everybody, whilst silently plunging the knife into your back (metaphorically speaking of course), all the while pretending to be all sweetness and light. Luckily for her, her “fans” haven’t noticed that she wears her halo around her ankles yet.

Anyway, because some of you are far too simple to understand what she was trying to say, I’ll post some excerpts of her presentation, and translate them for you. (Aren’t I generous?)

Let’s rock & roll!

As someone whose job is working IN Internet – as opposed to hanging around ON the Internet — I may bring a different perspective to the value of the online romance reader and community to romance scholarship – and why the way you choose to build relationships with the Intimate Public actually can make your research among online readers more efficient – and affect positively the online community.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way! Also, I’m not low brow enough to hang out with the great unwashed, no darlings, I WORK IN INTERNET, WOOH HOO!!

While some readers hang online at romance blogs and sites, the larger portion does not. And in general, we make romance more relevant online when we regularly present it outside the romance community on platforms whose viewership includes non-romance readers.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way! Let’s share our bon-bons with scholars and academics, and they’ll be happy to drink the romance kool-aid with us! Yay!

But for the small portion of romance readers online, the immediacy with which we access information and content at romance sites can give us the impression that what’s being written about is a) true, and b) important.

Which is why – especially in the online romance community – we’ve noted the phenomenon of “Perception as Reality.” Basically, the Internet user who isn’t media savvy believes mostly that if it’s written online it must be true. That includes content written by anybody with the impressive skill it takes to register for and own a url — and even User Generated Content (UGC), otherwise known as blog comments.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way! Also, online romance readers are too stupid to tell their arse from their elbow! I can show them the way to true fulfillment, if they would just do as I say!!

As academics, you know to take everything with a grain of salt, right? But that doesn’t mean you don’t fall prey to the biggest trip-up folks face when looking online for information – and even entertainment, which sometimes passes for information – the brutal problem of not being able to separate the heat from the light.

For instance, in online romance commentary, what gets the juices flowing of a small group of the small group of romance readers who hang online, probably won’t get you much viable research product, since it flashes, crashes, then burns after it’s bounced from blog to blog, been ranted and screamed about, then forgotten once something – or someone else – comes along to get riled up about.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way! I’m an academic just like you guys so what I say is TOTALLY RELEVANT!! And those mean, mean girls who have books on shelves when I don’t aren’t worthy of your time, they are BITCHES, I tell you, BITCHES!! They scream and yell, and cause ruptions in my nice gentle community, the bastards! If you come across them, run like mad, otherwise you may get pulled into their poisonous web! Jezebels the lot of them, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES GENTLE SOULS!!

What’s that worth, all that unbridled, uncontained sound and fury? Well, you tell me what sound and fury signify…

All that heat and no light to be found, let alone the illumination we strive for as scholars and lovers of erudition. And speaking of love, if, as belle hooks says, it’s the practice of freedom, and in loving we move away from oppression? Then dayum, why is it that reading books about love – reading romance – seems to piss people off so much and makes em end up trying to oppress readers and authors online, cyber-bullying folks about perfect-right choices like how much sexual aggression they dig in a love scene, or whether a book is the worst or next-to-worst book of the year.

(By the way, is it me or did she go all Black Dagger Brotherhood on us here?)

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit! And my way is the only way!
Romance books are filled with love, let’s show love by showing love to all peeps and shit, EXCEPT FOR THOSE MEAN BLOGGER BITCHES OF COURSE, THEY DON’T DESERVE NO LOVE! Those BITCHES like to stir up shit and they don’t give no love to me It’s all about love my fellow academics, so go to the light my little chickadees, go towards the light, then and only then, will you find your place in MY KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! CAN I GET AN AMEN?!!

Yeah, I sed it! When those who gather romance communities nurture heat, they invite and instigate their viewers to reactionary, inflammatory commentary that doesn’t just ‘feel bad’ to a lot of people, it literally reduces the commentary’s relevance.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way!
Listen up BITCHES, I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the LORD’s my command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country Land of The Mean Bloggers, depriving me of your blind adoration! Nobody will take me seriously if I’m associated with those Mean Girls, I want a book deal damn it!

What if we were to encourage readers to work through the light toward illumination? Well, here’s how it works @ Romance: B(u)y the Book. It’s meant wooing readers who love romance, but feared commenting about their knowledge cause they’d seen the digital carnage elsewhere. To woo them, I earned their trust by letting them see me respect those who did comment.

I showed them how I gently redirected commenters who tried to rile others up – or suggested simple language to folks who wanted to disagree with comments, but didn’t know how to do it in a constructive way or any way at all. Those who wanted to learn and play, stayed. Those who were disappointed they couldn’t get a good bitch on were happily welcome to leave and take their mean spirits with them.

Jesus, excuse me while I gag.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way!

Those BITCHES are MEAN, my fellow academics! Romance B(u)y The Book is SO much better! If you come to RBTB, you’ll see that I am the guiding light to all that is wonderful and good! I never met a book I didn’t love, and a commenter that I didn’t gently redirect towards the light! GO TOWARDS THE LIGHT MY LITTLE ACADEMICS, and I shall endeavour to pave your way to everlasting love and peace.
Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of those BITCHES. The LORD your God, (me) who is going before you, will fight for you, as I did for you in Egypt Romanceland, before your very eyes! So it has been said, so it will be done!!

But rather than my self-aggrandizing, what I want you to understand is what I got from the tricky, arduous practice of empowering viewers and giving them ownership in the digital commonwealth that is RBTB: I struck flippin’ illumination pay dirt. And I got big gigs with major companies, bringing romance every day to a broad audience that includes non-romance readers, not just members of the choir. I like to think of that as Pollyanna’s revenge.

Seriously. What I have is a digital record of thoughtful commentary about romance fiction and related topics without miles of vitriol and anger to wade through to get to the gems of reason and respectful dissent and thoughtful counterargument.

If we nurture the heat, we instill fear in online readers and they don’t comment. They fear being jumped ugly on. And we lose viewers and the opportunity to build trust and learn what they had to teach us.

Translation – Romance B(u)y The Book is THE LIGHT PEOPLE!! Go towards THE LIGHT! I may not have a book deal, but I blog for Barnes and Noble DOT COM, so that makes me the effing shiznit. THOSE BITCHES MAY HAVE MORE READERS THAN ME, BUT MY WORD IS LAW AND MY WAY IS THE WAY!! NOBODY PUTS BUONFIGLIO IN THE CORNER. I AM a pussy WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!

You know, the first fan letter I got after RBTB went online was from a woman who apparently never met either Strunk or White. But she was eager to let me know she appreciated having a place to go online where she could talk about romance without anyone making her feel embarrassed – especially not other romance readers. She told me how much she learns from romance novels, and how she works that into dinner conversations with her romance-eschewing family.

Translation – I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effiing shiznit, and my way is the only way! My adoring fans are simple, and uneducated, but they love me, and know that I AM THE LIGHT!!! They know that if they follow my will, they may drink from my eternal spring, only reserved for those who are clever enough to know that I am LORD GODDESS ON HIGH!!!

There was a bit more, but I think you get the drift.

IN MY OPINION, (because we’re all allowed to have one aren’t we?) Buonfiglio’s ‘If you have nothing nice to say’ demeanour is a total sham, and her attempt to do down a fellow romance blogger whilst she was sat next to her, points to her utter lack of class.

I’ve found during my time in Romanceland that those who are most eager to jump on the ‘Be nice to each other’ bandwagon, are usually the ones who are the most judgmental, and bitchy to boot.

As a commenter remarked in response to Buonfiglio’s presentation, if you have to tell everybody that you’re nice, it probably means that you aren’t.

Gee, I guess this counts as “nurturing the heat”? *Sigh* I’m obviously going straight to hell seeing as I can’t see the light for shit.

Thanks to Moses for lending me some of his words.

20 Comments »


  • Lori
    April 29
    10:17 am

    Karen,you are never boring. *g*

    This was the best explanation of the hoo-haw that I’ve read. Seriously, I tried to read M. Buonf(uckhowever you spell it) but I couldn’t be arsed. And DA, bless their hearts, were being too damned intellectual for a simple non-Strunk and Whiter like me.

    But you have summed it up in perfect fashion.

    Now I’m going to walk away from the light and try going back to sleep with a lighter heart because mean girl bloggers like Karen Scott are out there for the unenlightened (like me).

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this post.

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  • Meagrees Ms Buonfiglio is a fucktard. I’m reluctant to read further posts on her blog because (a) they will annoy me and (b) increasing traffic to the blog will only encourage her.

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  • So her post was a retelling of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt into the promised land? I had no idea. That’s awesome. and obviously a worthy cause. When do we get the episode where she visits the burning bush?

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  • Anon76
    April 29
    5:10 pm

    As I commented on SBTB, this person did the romance world a total disservice by spewing this crap at PU of all places. The event was a chance to “enlighten” some of the very rigid scholarly types to the importance of the genre, the brilliance of the genre, and the outstanding diversity of those who write and read it.

    Instead she made us look like a bunch of schleps from the “dueling banjo” scene of the movie “deliverance”.

    If she, her writing (blog), and her speech abilities (not to mention her goody-two-shoes bit) were one of the last tastes left in the mouths of those “scholarly” attendees, then dayum. She totally fucked us all.

    Show me the “light” in that!

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  • Well Michelle does have the letter “h” in her name, so maybe she is hoping to be a new character in the next BDB book?

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  • Laughing and laughing and laughing…ahhhhh, moments like this remind me of how much I love you.

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  • I’ve found during my time in Romanceland that those who are most eager to jump on the ‘Be nice to each other’ bandwagon, are usually the ones who are the most judgmental, and bitchy to boot.

    And some of us have the scars to prove it. :D

    I agree with the poster that says if a person tell us that she is nice, she probably isn’t. At best, she’s passive aggressive. At worst, a little backstabbin’ coward that only speaks up when running with a pack of hyenas with her friends.

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  • Always an enjoyable read and a wake up call at 4am Aussie time

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  • Gina
    April 29
    6:21 pm

    I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effing shiznit

    That’s my new favorite phrase.

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  • Las
    April 29
    7:04 pm

    Ha! You exactly described what goes through my head every time I read something like that. That post reminds me of an author who always comments in that syrupy sweet “voice” and it drives me nuts. If I hadn’t already hated her books it might be enough make me stop reading her stuff.

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  • willaful
    April 29
    8:29 pm

    What can I say but, “Wow!”

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  • Throwmearope
    April 29
    11:02 pm

    When I first discovered Romanceland, I hit Michelle’s site. I remember thinking, how cute, a website for romance books modeled on an automobile site. (“See our newest offering from the Mustang line. . . ” kind of thing.) A bunch of ads loosely strung together.

    It also reminded me of the soap operas I used to watch in high school. (Maybe it was the hairdo she had back then.)

    But I discovered My Little Book Garden had more concise information and that even Amazon had more reliable romance data.

    Haven’t been back.

    Two asides–1. I have read Strunk and White. My on-line name is a misquote from the preface.

    2. Michelle’s (?on-line)name translates loosely from the Italian as Goodson. After what she pulled on SB Sarah, Michelle should finish her last name off properly–Buonfiglio di puttana.

    Still love your way with words, Karen.

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  • Someone compared her to Delores Umbridge. So, it should be, Hem, Hem, I’m great! Look at me, I’m the effing shiznit. :)

    This one doesn’t bug me. It’s not well-written and would have sounded a mess spoken. She recited convoluted nonsense in front of a group of people in an academic setting. If the nightmare of going to class naked came true, it would be less of an embarrassment to her, but she doesn’t seem to know that.

    The only person she made look bad was herself.

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  • Spew alert Pulease! I snorted my coke all over my screen.

    I WORK IN INTERNET, WOOH HOO!!

    Does that make me the effing shiznit, too? I wanna be the effing shiznit. Can I be? Please?

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  • Before reading anyone’s reactions to the presentation, I read the presentation text Ms. Buonfiglio posted on her site. I’ll admit, I was a little confused as to the purpose of the presentation – especially upon reading things like this:

    As academics, you know to take everything with a grain of salt, right? But that doesn’t mean you don’t fall prey to the biggest trip-up folks face when looking online for information – and even entertainment, which sometimes passes for information – the brutal problem of not being able to separate the heat from the light.

    I’m not in the academic community, so perhaps I took this in a way an academic wouldn’t, but I found comments like this incredibly insulting. I suppose it’s the structure of that first sentence: making a statement, then adding the “right?”, which in our culture implies that a person doesn’t in fact know the thing just stated. It’s a kind of back-door, slap-in-the-face sarcasm. Following that with “but that doesn’t mean you don’t fall prey” seems to further reinforce her opinion that academics studying the romance genre don’t know how to do an academic’s job.

    I find this a curious approach if the intent was to get the academic community on her side.

    I didn’t see this in person, so I’ll fall back onto that thing we all know about the internet about how removing inflection and body language has a way of changing meaning – so maybe my interpretation is not matching her intent. When I attempt to imagine adding inflection and body language, I am struggling to find a way that this text could be presented so as to not come off as insulting and self-aggrandizing (aka the very things she is criticizing about various *other* people and websites).

    The thing is, I agree with part of what she’s saying: that if one is to study the genre, one must approach it in a detached and unemotional way. The problem is, I would think that this is How to Study Anything 101 and in stating that fact to an audience of How to Study experts, I can’t imagine this not coming across in any way except “you aren’t doing it right, let me tell you how it’s supposed to be done”.

    In this end, this means I agree with you, Karen, that this comes off as that egomaniacal girl in school who’s nice as pie (mmmm, pie) to your face because that’s the easiest way to lure you closer so she can stick that knife deep and straight into your ribs.

    It’d be a real shame if none of this was her intent and this is all a blunder of understanding based only on an inability to communicate.

    (And apropos of nothing – I was already there with the BDB reference thanks to her calling her audience Bellas. I know that’s not her fault and that it’s all in my own mind, but I’ll admit the Bella thing has thrown me off before and will no doubt do so again. I guess that just further goes to show the problem of how something can have a variety of meanings to an audience – none of which are the ones you intend.)

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  • Damn, that posted MUCH longer than I thought it would- sorry ’bout that!

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  • Where I come any female called a Stella wasn’t getting complimented – I can’t help but wonder if this Bella term is a new twist on that.

    I have always depended on the kindness of strangers..and no one is stranger than those who depend on my opinion.

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  • Louise van Hine
    April 30
    11:47 pm

    you are really quite evil, you know, tempting Michelle to go off her ray-of-sunshine-on-a-cloudy-day moral high ground to respond to your “translations.” Is anyone monitoring to see if she’ll return fire?

    I LOL’d. A lot.

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  • If it wasn’t for your translation, I don’t think I would have understood a word she said.

    (By the way, is it me or did she go all Black Dagger Brotherhood on us here?

    Wouldn’t she need to put in all those random h’s?

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  • le sigh I miss all the fun stuff

    and HELLO

    “Methinks Ms Buonfiglio is a fucktard. ”

    I have been saying that for YEARS! I have like posts even. The chicks is evolllll. Hell I may be a bitch but at least I will tell you I am a bitch. She is one of those lets hold hands and sing, we must ALL be nice and not hurt anybodys feelings – oh but it is fine to talk about people behind their backs.

    She so knew Sarah was next to her and that the speech was written to dig at her (as in blogland in general, you know REVIEWERS Ewwwww). Of course she should get mad at whoever wrote it for her, cuz she shouldn’t have talked down to the smart people in the room aka not blogger/reviewer/romance readers trash she normally treats like shit.

    of course I don’t like her, so that might color how I see it a bit… in case you didn’t notice that

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