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“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Writer Outs Herself (with a Big Pat on the Back) for Stalking Reviewer



Readers here may remember a blog I posted on WWK a while back about the whole crazy StopTheGoodReadsBullies mess. http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2012/07/bullying-bulliestwo-wrongs-dont-make.html I had hoped that this whole bit of authors going crazy over bad reviews (in some cases, egregiously bad reviews) would disappear when Google shut down the STGRB website (which is back online, I notice). Even though Anne Rice has been raising some dust about reviewers on Goodreads lately.

An article in The Guardian/Books two days ago has shown me just how wrong I was and just how insane a writer can become. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic Let’s start by pointing out that the practice of reviewing under a pseudonym is not “catfishing,” which is the act of creating a false person online in order to make someone fall in love with you, often in order to steal money from them. And a little more background on the author, Kathleen Hale, shows that she’s involved with a very powerful publishing family—her live-in fiancé writes for Saturday Night Live and The New Yorker and is the son of an executive editor at Harper Collins (her publisher) and a powerful New York Times former critic and columnist and current Guardian columnist.

In this article, Hale details how she went about stalking a Goodreads reviewer who gave her a one-star review on her debut novel. She stalked her online first and then paid for a background check on her, deceived a book blog to get her physical address, rented a car and drove to her house where she peeped into her car and tried to peep into her windows, then called her several times at her place of work to interrogate her with threatening questions, such as “I know you have two children. Do they live at home with you?” (Remember, this is from someone who’s already been to the house, and the reviewer knows that.)

This is not new behavior, apparently, for Hale. In an earlier Guardian piece, she discusses her obsessive tendencies (and also how she retailored her testimony in the second trial of an alleged rapist when she wasn’t believed in the first trial which ended in a mistrial). http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/hazlitt/longreads/prey  And this is Hale’s own recounting of her stalking of a 14-year-old and attacking her (by pouring a whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide over her head and face) when Hale was also a teen. http://thoughtcatalog.com/kathleen-hale/2013/02/169836/

Hale’s own account of what she did, which she quite rightly calls “stalking,” is horrifying, but what was even worse were the multitude of commenters on the Guardian piece and on Twitter who applauded what she did, or at best said, “I don’t condone stalking, but…” I want to say firmly that never under any circumstances is stalking a person a valid response. I don’t care if you didn’t like their review. I don’t care if their review was no good or frivolous or downright malicious.

I’ve read tweets and comments from a number of book bloggers and reviewers (on Goodreads and elsewhere) who now feel intimidated and are reconsidering whether they will continue to review or write about and promote books if this is the type of reaction they can expect. As an author, I happen to feel that we need all these bloggers and reviewers, even the ones who aren’t very good, even the ones who’ve given my books one-star reviews. I’ve been pretty lucky with reviews, but yes, I’ve had a few one-stars—and some that lowballed my books for trivial reasons and didn’t even read the books. The more we have a vibrant and diverse universe of reviews, discussion, and criticism of books, the better off we are.

I suspect Hale will not suffer for this because she is privileged and well-connected, but her actions may drive reviewers away who could have been important to the career of some struggling writer without those connections. I think it’s important, as a professional novelist, to say, NO, to stalking and other insane behavior toward reviewers and book bloggers. Just. No. Just. Stop.

35 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

My thoughts, Linda, are a bit to obscene to articulate here. We stand up to bullies. We never give up, never, never, never. (A bit of Winston Churchill in here.) There's a book about kindergarten lessons that evidently Hale never read. I don't trust or take the opinions of those who haven't learned the basics. She discredits herself, and I wonder why those near don't turn their backs and run. Let us not give her too much press no matter our outrage.

PS--So glad you are back!

E. B. Davis said...

Sorry--just edited. That should be "too" obscene!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Elaine, Hale definitely seems to need help, especially when you read her other articles. It's sad. But nothing mitigates stalking.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

My question in all this is why the Guardian would choose to run the article -- I suppose because it will receive lots of reads.

I have nothing positive to say about people who post malicious reviews. Ignoring them is by far the best way to react, at least publicly.

A writer who stoops to a similar low-level of behavior has the effect of mitigating the reviewer's behavior.

The entire enterprise (including the Guardian article) becomes just one more reality show: all done for its entertainment value.

I didn't read the whole article, but I wonder if any behavior ends up crossing criminal lines.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, her fiance's father is a Guardian columnist and former NYT critic/columnist. I figure that played into why the Guardian published it. In my locale, the reviewer could get a restraining order against her, just based on what she admits to doing in this article.

Cheryl Martin said...

She is a Full Fathom Five author as well. If you are familiar with James Frey of the Oprah scandal. Full Fathom has had it's share of scandal.

The reviewer she supposedly stalked was in the Army. Her reviewed were wickedly funny and often pointed out flaws in a books survival situations. If Hale "stalked" her I doubt she would have confronted her.
Hale seems to be courting fame. And like James Frey, she's making up most of the shocking elements she writes about.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Having recently been threatened by two different authors for refusing their books and having been told from time to time my review work is the reason my wife has terminal cancer, this behavior is another case of authors acting badly. I have been very disappointed in so many applauding the disgusting behavior.

Sheila Boneham said...

Excellent piece, Linda. Thanks. I would like to add that it sounds brave and sensible to say, as some do, don't give in to bullies. But until you've been stalked and harassed, as I was about ten years ago (only partly re. my books), you have no idea how disruptive and frightening it is to be a target. Sadly, people tend to accept accusations as truth, especially online, and to turn into mobs quite readily. Yet another reason that being a writer isn't for sissies.

Polly Iyer said...

I got tired with the article about halfway through. The author has serious mental issues. On the other hand, reviews shouldn't be hatchet pieces either. Both are getting more publicity than they're worth.

Warren Bull said...

Scary. And not la good idea to "out" yourself in a newspaper. Be careful about not giving out your address. The obsessive are out there.

KM Rockwood said...

I guess this article falls into the "There's no such thing as bad publicity" category.

Yes, some people post inappropriate reviews, sometimes without reading the book, sometimes mixing the book up with others, sometimes apparently just because they can. And being targeted is no fun.

But to start playing their game, even if you manage to "best" them, is a childish and, in this case, possibly psychotic, way of dealing with it.

Linda is right--since this person comes from privilege in both the writing world and the legal world. She probably has access to excellent lawyers who would outlast any normal person's resources.

People are reacting positively? No wonder so many fear cyber bullies.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, she sounds like a psychopath to me. I wonder that with her back story - if it's all true - her fiance remains with her.

Except for some good reviews others read on Amazon and sent to me, I haven't bothered to read my reviews there since shortly after my first book was published. It's not so much that I'm afraid of what might be written there since I don't expect everyone to like what I read, it's just that I don't want to be bothered taking time to read them. As for Goodreads, I never bothered to join them, either, because of lack of time.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Cheryl, you're right. She's part of the James Frey crew. Before this, I'd had sympathy for them because of the horrible contracts they sign with him, but I suspect she didn't sign such a contract since she has lots of publishing expertise in the family to tell her how bad they are.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kevin, I can't believe that. Yet I know the scene out there gets crazier and crazier. Still, to threaten you because you wouldn't review their books and, worse, to say your wife's terminal cancer is your fault. Wow! Talk about authors behaving badly. And you write such professional, well-reasoned reviews, backing up everything you say. I'm so sorry.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sheila, much of what Hale said in her article about the reviewer turns out not to be true, but even if it were, to stalk her like that goes way over the line. I would say that she probably won't have much future in publishing after this, except having seen her connections, that's probably wrong. Another writer without them who did something like this and publicly admitted it in such a forum, however, would find herself or himself dead in the waters of the publishing industry.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Polly, I think you're right. The author has serious mental issues.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, yes, scary. I review books on my blog. I'm not a Goodreads reviewer, and I only write about books I think are worth sharing, but still, this gives me the shivers. What if someone gets mad because I won't review them, as they did with Kevin, and decides to go full-tilt stalker on me? I do turn down a lot of books because they don't fit my blog, and I use my real name online. I can see from this article, if for no other reason, why folks use pseudonyms.

Linda Rodriguez said...

KM, yes. I found all the support for her scarier even than the quite scary things she did. I will say, though, that most professional writers I know and admire have openly criticized her article and what she did.

Sheila Boneham said...

Right, Linda. Bullies are rarely bound by fact.

Linda Rodriguez said...

That's an interesting point, Gloria. I hadn't considered that, but it might be the case, especially with the Frey connection that she's making up all or some of the things she's written about in the three articles of hers that I linked, just to get publicity.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sheila, you're right. It can become a case of falling down into a bizarre wonderland of half-truths and lies and make you wonder if anything she's ever written is actually true.

Kara Cerise said...

Welcome back, Linda!

I am suspicious of her motive in outing herself as a stalker. I wonder if she plans on selling her story to be made into a movie or book.

Shari Randall said...

Absolutely, utterly, appalling.
I can't help but think that the anonymity of the Internet has made so much of this kind of behavior too easy - the bullying, the cyberstalking. And real life stalking!
I'd write more but I'm afraid this author would come looking for me.
What happens when a person basically confesses to crimes in a written article?
And sadly, the thoughtful, ethical reviewers - like Kevin - probably don't get half the attention that these trolls do.

Shari Randall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Rodriguez said...

Good point, Kara. She's part of James N. Frey's crew at Full Fathom Five, and he's always looking for movie tie-ins--and also one of the most famous recent unreliable narrators.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Shari, yes. And some of the good reviewers are weighing whether they can stay or not.

Lynn Reynolds said...

Definitely a disturbing pattern. Sadly, I feel like we are all playing right into her disturbed fantasies by giving her so much attention for being even more dysfunctional than the reviewer.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Lynn, that may very well be so. But read Kevin Tipple's comment above. We have to know about these things so we can try to support reviewers who are being threatened and stalked. I'm hearing from some reviewers that they may leave reviewing or take pseudonyms and try to hide their identities in order to forestall this kind of craziness.

Ellis Vidler said...

The author is scarier than the reviewer. She needs serious help. I know there are gangs whose mission is to destroy and invoke fear (gain power), but responding to them when their venom is limited to the Internet is always a mistake. If they're physically threatening, call the police.

Sheila Boneham said...

Ellis, you're right about ignoring online. As for calling the police - they can't do much in most cases, especially of the person making the threat is in a different state. I went to the police when I was being attacked online and the posts by one nut turned into bizarre threats. The detective I spoke to agreed that the posts were scary, advised me to be cautious, and said that because the guy was in a neighboring state, they couldn't do anything unless I was actually assaulted.

Kaye George said...

Added to either the fact that the author is nuts or lying, for me, is that she seems to have a sense of entitlement, according to the background you dug up, Linda. That's dangerous for football players, actors, singers, and even writers, it seems!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Ellis, I agree that the writer is the scariest. Actually, other writers to whom this reviewer had given bad reviews have said that they feel she's a fair reviewer and not an online bully and have come to have good relationships with her online.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sheila, I know that's true, and it infuriates me. I ran a women's center for years and saw too many cases where women were stalked and threatened and the police, who were sympathetic, could literally do nothing until the guy actually hurt--and in several cases, killed--his target.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kaye, I think you've hit it right on the head. I suspect it's a case of maybe a little nuts, but mostly what I'll euphemistically call a REALLY, REALLY unreliable narrator. See the stuff above about working with James N. Frey.

Shalanna said...

Good Lord! I know that not every book is for every reader. There are many people who love CATCHER IN THE RYE, but there are MORE of them (it seems to me) who simply despise it. If people's opinions can be that divided on a book that you read in school as a classic, then imagine what can happen with a book that just came out. I am philosophical about this because I believe what my dad used to day: "There IS no such thing as bad publicity." In other words, the bad review(s) might just get some system-bucker to go look at your book to see if it could BE that awful, and she might just like it and pass the word. You never know. To stalk a person and/or threaten them is a sign of some sort of mental disorder that should be treated, IMHO. This is a crazy world. You can't take anything, including yourself, too seriously.