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I jest not.

All over one post that Jane wrote. A post that pointed out that perhaps Tess writing something as asinine as the following, wasn’t the brightest thing in the world to do:

Now, I’m not saying that Ms. MacGillivray wasn’t out of line here. But her major foolishness was that she got caught at it.

Well, Jane had a point methinks.

A commenter over at DA pretty much summed up the situation for me:

Tess’ opinion is fine, so is mine. I don’t get upset with any reviews, she gets upset with bad ones. Though fair warning that quite a few readers and authors tend to get just as pissy with authors who don’t know how to take reviews.

Right on.

Hopefully Gerritsen will get her Big Girl Knickers and put them on, because there are worse things in life than being criticised, especially when you inserted your own foot in your mouth in the first place.


Oh apparently her blog hiatus or whatever it was, didn’t last very long, she has another post up telling her readers that Dear Author are calling them ‘Flying Monkeys’, and urging her sainted followers to stop bashing in the comments section. Oh yeah, and she also thanks Nora Roberts for being supportive.

At this point, one commenter used the term flying monkeys, not Dear Author. She should at least get that right. But I guess she’s too busy crying in her cornflakes to at least check her facts.

If you guys don’t really believe that there’s a Reader v Author disconnect here in Blogland, well I just see this as further proof. Because unless you’re fawning over authors, deep down, a lot of them just aren’t that interested in hearing your opinion as a reader. I could name a few who belong in that bracket, but I just don’t have time for the drama or the RFGs.


  • Now her fans are starting to bite each other while commenting on her latest post.


  • You want to know what’s bothering me as a result of this latest bit of… blergh?

    (Don’t answer, I’ll tell you anyway.)

    What is bothering me is that I have started to review seriously, in the sense of having some authors ask me for reviews–and now I’m wondering what can of worms I just jumped into!

    Most of the authors I’ve reviewed so far I trust to be able to separate themselves from their writing, and the same for the ones I have in my “to review” list right now. But what about those I really don’t know, with whom I haven’t interacted online?

    It sucks–in lieu of a stronger word–that now I feel leery about accepting books for review from authors I don’t ‘know’ at least a bit.

    Then, after seeing how an author gave a reader’s personal information to DAMcG without asking the reader for confirmation that it was okay, should I be even more leery of giving my name and address to bloggers/authors?


  • Azteclady, not all authors behave in such a way. I hate that the bad behavior of a few are tarnishing so many others who are completely innocent of any wrong doing. I am also sad that readers now have such fears to contend with. As a reader, I can understand those fears and even share them. The problem is, we just don’t know who’s on the other side of that book, that blog post, or that email.

    In regards to TG shutting down her blog, I’m still scratching my head over that one. I see no reason for it, but that’s just me. Maybe she was reading between the lines. *shrugs* I really can’t say, but I can say the whole mess doesn’t make much sense to me. The DA blog post was rather civil, especially when one takes into consideration how badly it COULD have gone.


  • Heather, I know not all authors nor all bloggers are… erm… over sensitive. But how is a reader supposed to know which ones are?

    I tell you, it sucks.


  • I agree, and I wish I knew how to tell one from the other. Wouldn’t that be great? The “trustworthy, not-nutso detector”. We’d be rich in no time if we could develop such a thing. I guess I’ll just have to write it into a future sci-fi project.

    It does seem to be epidemic lately, doesn’t it? Or is it that we’re just watching for it more closely now that these other things have come to light? I don’t doubt it’s a problem, just trying to figure out…well, I don’t know what I’m trying to do.

    I do know that in the end, it’s going to make a great deal of us look bad unnecessarily. And that’s the saddest part of all. Trust is a fragile thing and once broken, it is very difficult to mend.

    And I’m looking at it from two different positions. I see it as the author always wondering if the person emailing/posting/whathaveyou is on the up and up and not some crazy (I’ve gotten some rather interesting and disturbing communications in the past), and as the reader wondering if an author is going to go ballistic over something as mundane as a dislike for a book. It’s a no win situation really.


  • I think what frustrates me is the obtuseness displayed by Ms. Gerritsen. In her most recent comments thread, she states:

    Okay, folks. People over at DA are taking offense that I mentioned the flying monkeys. I’m taking it down.

    It wasn’t that we took “offense” that she mentioned flying monkeys it was that she ascribed the entire blog as having made that statement when it was one comment.

    And then she describes the escalation as follows:

    I just left a post over at DA. I’m tired of the whole thing. Here’s how it escalated:
    – I write a post that offends people at DA.
    – They express their anger at the post
    – I admit that I’m hurt by the comments and decide to stop blogging.
    – They’re now criticizing me for ending the blog.

    So I don’t think there’s anything I can do to not catch flak. Really, I just want to go away.

    She didn’t admit that she was hurt by the comments. She said that she was shutting down her blog because of the comments. It’s the causal relationship. It seemed to me that she was whipping her crowd into a frenzy in order to garner sympathy for herself and antipathy toward DA. I don’t mind that if it was just, but in this case, the comment threads were mostly reasonable.


  • Heather, I know not all authors nor all bloggers are… erm… over sensitive. But how is a reader supposed to know which ones are?

    Come up with badges?


    I’ve got to make up for how little work was accomplished the past few weeks due to RT craziness/preparations/ myforgetfulness so I can’t keep up with what’s going on now.

    But my two cents, from what I’ve put together, is that authors need to try to view things online from a step or two back, view it objectively instead of subjectively. Whether it’s online discussions, books, etc. Objectivity is going to do an author more good than anything else, when it comes to blogland or the web period.

    Maybe it’s easier for me to talk about objectivity because it’s something I had pounded into my head during nursing school and throughout my nursing career. I know it’s not easy for everybody to remain objective.

    But if you can’t be objective, it’s going to cause more problems.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.


  • I find the post of hers you quoted disingenious in the extreme.
    Still shoving blame on DA.


  • Throwmearope
    April 21
    3:41 pm

    The US government is investing I think it was billions (with a B) to invent mind reading machinery. The day may come when AL will know if it’s safe to review or not.

    Slightly off topic, I thought Gerritsen was a doc who wrote medical suspense? Since that’s not my cuppa, I’m not real sure. And not interested enough to Wiki it. But if she is a doctor, being thin-skinned doesn’t get a person real far in that particular field.


  • sallahdog
    April 21
    4:05 pm

    I don’t mind that if it was just, but in this case, the comment threads were mostly reasonable.

    yeah… I was probably in the majority that said that though we didn’t agree with Gerritsons statements it didn’t influence me to NOT read her books… Hell, I don’t think there is anyone in the world that I agree with all the time.


  • You know, I read that blog (I always read Tess Gerritsen’s blog) and I wasn’t in any way, shape, or form bent out of shape about it. I recognize sarcasm when I see it and those things were definitely said in a sarcastic manner. But, I did cringe when I saw it because I knew that this was going to be the result. I just knew.

    It’s sad, her being ripped on simply because she stated her opinion in an off-beat way. This is why a lot of authors who blog stick to simple topics and are often found boring. They don’t state their opinions or say anything “colorful” or sarcastic because it is generally misconstrued and then they get put through the ringer.


  • Bonnie L.
    April 21
    4:31 pm

    When I read her post I immediately understood that Ms. Gerritsen has a subversive sense of humor and I wasn’t upset by it. However, she posted her humor on a public blog thus opening her opinion to public discussion and other people aren’t going to see the humor.

    The more appropriate response would be to say, “This is my humor and my vent. If you disagree with it, then that is not my problem. I acknowledge your dissent, but I respectfully move on now.” It is the drama-filled angsting that is really grating.


  • Here’s the thing about sarcasm, though. It doesn’t convey well in text. If writing sarcastic remarks, it’s up to the writer to make sure the reader(s) know it was intended as sarcasm and not to be taken seriously.


  • Shayne
    April 21
    5:28 pm

    sarcasm /sarcasm marks help. I once wrote a comment that was completely off the wall and definitely not meant seriously, but someone commented, “I hope you’re joking because if you aren’t…”

    I’ve been caught a few times on it because I tend to be very sarcastic. Bonnie is right. Appropriate response: I was being sarcastic, sorry you didn’t see it that way. And up next, I’m going to talk about SOMETHING ELSE.


  • ilona andrews
    April 21
    5:48 pm

    Azteclady, most of us aren’t that sensitive, I promise.


  • Michelle
    April 21
    5:49 pm

    It leaves people with the sensse that she can dish it out but can’t take it.


  • Just a general observation that isn’t about anybody in particular: Damn, it gets to the point where one is afraid to post anything for fear of misinterpretation! Humor especially does not translate well. The result is, of course, a lot of delicate pussyfooting and qualifying and backtracking and mea culpa-ing and . . . well, just about every mealy-mouthed mode of communication I, for one, find decidedly uncommunicative, not to mention irritating.

    Sheesh, sometimes you’d think bloggers were politicians.

    It’s actually a breath of fresh air when somebody says what she means and OWNS it, no matter how offensive it is to some people!


  • Ilona and Shiloh, I know many of your authors aren’t that sensitive, and that most of you are professional enough to–if necessary–vent in private, to friends.

    It’s the delicate flowers who can and do use sarcasm with wild abandon, but can’t either own to the consequences of it (which includes the occasional misinterpretation) or apologize if warranted, that feed my misgivings.

    What was that phrase Robin used yesterday? Something about being surprised when opinionated people shatter like glass in the face of disagreement.

    Oh well.


  • There’s a saying in this business – get tough and get a pair of teflon coated panties.

    Anytime you are willing to put your opinon out there, you better be prepared to reap all the criticism that can come from it. Am I sorry that she got this reality check? Eh, sometimes reality is not a pretty place. It’s a necessary evil unless you live in Never Neverland.

    Almost every author I know has received a bad review or stuck said foot in said mouth. We’re not always on the mark and we’re also human. All we can do is just cope with it without getting all wacko.

    Here’s the real reality – how attractive is an out of control writer. *shiver*

    Great post!


  • Robin
    April 21
    10:29 pm

    Here’s the thing about sarcasm, though. It doesn’t convey well in text. If writing sarcastic remarks, it’s up to the writer to make sure the reader(s) know it was intended as sarcasm and not to be taken seriously.

    Here’s the thing about it for me: Gerritsen blogged THREE TIMES on this issue before Jane even posted about it on Dear Author. And her posts were becoming increasingly strongly worded about how she “owns her words” and how “disingenuous” it was for people to suggest that they don’t share the thoughts she might have about how to “bite back” at reviewers, and about how she’s always “honest,” and basically, why can’t people take a joke.

    So it’s only as she’s digging in that Jane posts and the whole DA discussion starts. After which Gerritsen posts THREE MORE TIMES, in which she levels various accusations at the blog that were patently inaccurate and/or highly provocative (i.e. I can no longer blog because of this), and, if one chooses to read it that way, dead aimed to incite outrage on the part of her readers and reassurance of her validity and rightness. SIX, count ’em, SIX posts on this issue alone, numerous characterizations of the blog that could, cynically, of course, seem designed to incite hostility toward DA (she removed the accusation that the blog was calling her and her fans “flying monkeys” this morning, apparently, but all day yesterday it was prominently displayed in her brief post), and quite a bit of name calling and insult hurling by her fans on her blog, and she’s not cut out for blogging because of Dear Author?

    Part of me feels bad for Gerritsen, if, that is, she really doesn’t understand how her own words helped create the very conflict she claims to dislike and avoid. Blogging publicly when you’re that ambivalent about it must be a drag. Part of me thinks that if she had just said, ‘hey, I tried to make a joke, it didn’t work, sorry,’ that everything would have died down and we wouldn’t even be having these discussions. And part of me thinks that this is part and parcel of online communities — that there’s a certain culture each has, and when you are outside, it seems one way, but when you are inside, it seems another.


  • Azteclady,

    If it makes you feel any better, I can’t help having the same worries you expressed above. I do know that most authors are professionals and not thin-skinned, but there have been soooo many author vs. reader what-makes-a-good-review debates that it can sometimes be crazy-making to figure out what to say that is both honest and constructive. I have to admit that author reactions didn’t bother me when I was posting reviews on my own blog, but when Sybil asked me to join The Good, the Bad, and the Unread, I did have a few moments. I remember dithering over IM about whether I should post a review for a book I absolutely hated, and Sybil was all, “Just post it. If you hated the book, you hated the book.” It was kind of a freeing attitude to have, but I admit that I held my breath when I posted my first F review, half expecting the author to show up herself in the comments to explain exactly why it was that plebes like me will never get her genius. I know that the DAMs of the world are the rare exceptions, but they’re so high profile that it does give one pause.

    As for the TG stuff, I can’t really comment since I didn’t read all the comments on the DA post. But online dramatic histrionics like the stuff quoted in this post definitely don’t make me inclined to read TG anytime soon, because it all reads like passive aggressive martyrhood, and if I wanted *that*, I’d go talk to my mom for an hour.


  • Nora Roberts
    April 22
    12:20 am

    Here’s what I think. It does NO good to argue with a reviewer because you’re arguing a subjective and often emotional opinion. If the book didn’t work for that reviewer, it didn’t. Period. No right, no wrong.

    In my early days on the interwebs, I did dialogue with a couple of reviewers. In my defense, in at least one of these cases the reviewer had complained, and graded me down, on elements of the book that weren’t. in. the. book. Did not write that. Did not happen in the book.

    And still, what good did it do me? You’re just going to piss people off.

    I can and do see the value of a dialogue that’s tactful and respectful, and can explain–in a way that does not diminish said reviewer’s opinion or reaction. If you can’t do that, shut up. Move on. Take your lumps, whine to your friends, drink heavily. Then forget it.

    I do NOT think authors have to pander to readers. Oh, oh, thank you SOOOO much for trashing my book. I learned so much! I will try very hard to do better and please you.

    This just irritates me and causes me to feel much disdain for said author. But that’s me.

    There is middle ground. There is simply not stepping onto the field. There is standing up for your work without insulting the intelligence or the opinion of the reader.

    Negative reviews sting. Negative reviews are part of the business. It’s not supposed to be easy, not supposed to be all daisies and rainbows. There are thorns and thunder clouds. Deal with it.

    Yes, yes, YES one negative review will probably stick with an author longer than twenty raves. We’re sick, we’re compulsive, we can’t help that. But we can also learn to suck it up and go on.

    I understand the my book is my baby–the way a reader probably can’t. We conceived, we carried, we labored, and it took a long time, and likely some pain, to push that sucker out. And it’s ours.

    But not everyone will love our baby as we do. We’re not wrong. They’re not obliged. And we’re probably gestating again by the time somebody says, that’s a pretty ugly baby you’ve got there.

    I sympathize with the writer who gets slammed in a review. They are my species; I feel the pain. But I understand the reader who says this sucked for me, because I’ve often felt the same.

    Which writer among those here hasn’t read a book and thought: This is really crappy. But someone loved it. Probably lots of someones.

    Lastly, and not necessarily applicable. When my dil first started coming around as my son’s girl, then his fiancee, she was often wounded by something that was said or done. Tiny things none of the rest of thought about for two seconds. We called her Sensitivo. We are a tough crowd. She got tougher, stronger and deals with us–and can dish out her own, too. We adore her.

    Sensitivo writers of commercial fiction are probably going to be the walking wounded throughout their career. I, very sincerely, feel for them. I wish they could and would be as smart and strong as my adored dil.


  • sherry
    April 22
    2:47 am

    What Nora said.


  • I think authors being bad is a bit like obnoxious American tourists. It isn’t so much that they all are as that those are the ones you notice.


  • AztecLady, I feel your pain. I’ve been reviewing for a few years now, and it’s pretty rare for an author to lash out at a reviewer.

    In fact, it only happened to me once. It was a NYT-besteslling author of mysteries (no, NOT Nora Roberts, thank you!) who vehemently objected to my drawing a historical paralell between what happened in her historical mystery and what was going on in the world at the then-present time. She told me her husband agreed with her, not me. She accused me of not reading the book. And then she accused me of plagarising the review because some other reviewer had the temerity to make the same observation.

    It was bizarre. I ‘splained my rationale, and assured her that I read her book. (ps? I gave it a GOOD review. I liked it! She just didn’t like my point.) What I got in return was another ranty email, saying she’d blacklist me from ever reviewing again, or something. I forwarded it to her publicist. Who apologized most profusely. I still get every book this woman publishes. I never review a single one.

    As freaky as that story is, it’s important to note that it’s a ONE-TIME event. Wow, I just looked back, and I guess I’ve been reviewing for more than 5 years now! Time do fly, don’t it?? So, one nutcase in five years of fairly heavy reviewing is not such a bad average, I think.

    The vast majority of authors have been nothing but polite to me. Even when I’ve written negative reviews (and I never flay the author or book, I just state what didn’t work for me) the responses I’ve had have been nothing but professional and polite. Maybe they cursed me before and after sending the email, but that’s their business.


  • DS
    April 22
    11:05 am

    Not trying to psychoanalyze TG, but she may be a bit more sensitive than normal. Her last two books have been weaker than previous ones, and it has been noted– a lot. Both of the Editorial Reviews (Audiofile and Publisher’s Weekly) of The Bone Garden reprinted on Amazon noted the lack of suspense in that book. The New York Times Book Review thought that The Mephisto Club had a total lack of credibility.

    Before this kerfluffle even happened she had dropped in my opinion from an autobuy to a maybe I’ll pick it up at the library if I see it on the shelf.


  • Anon76
    April 22
    9:13 pm

    Man, I must relate this story.

    Years ago I worked for an up-and-coming review site. One day I received a book from a newly published big house author. Great. Even better, it was in my favorite sub-genre.

    So anyhoo, I started reading this book and fell in love with it. Loved the gritty edge to the writing, loved the story line, loved the out-of-the box characteristics of the novel.

    I wrote a glowing review explaining why I felt the way I did. And then…I get a note from the owner of the review site. Said author was not happy with the review and said I “missed the point” of her novel. Noppers, I didn’t miss the point intentionally, I read into it what SHE gave me on the pages. This was my intepretation of what she wrote…and I Loved it as is.

    After much blah blah blah later, the review went up with minor adjustments to appease the unhappy author. Little things. And during that entire time, not once did the author contact me directly about concerns, but went straight to my “boss” instead.

    Time passes…

    Months later I receive a frantic email from said author. (Oh yeah, now she contacted me directly.) Seems others didn’t “get” her book like I did and she was getting some really low Amazon reviews. She almost begged that I put up my review to counter the negativity.

    Now I’m telling ya, I had to think long and hard on that. Eventually my better nature won out and I posted the review, but for a long while I didn’t want to.

    I learned then a lot about how authors should act when faced with reviews, good or bad.


  • Professional behavior always wins. Non-professional behavior always loses. I am more likely to read a book with a so-so review if the author behaves professionally than read a book with a fabulous review if that author has behaved in an unprofessional manner.


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