>Wow! The romance community has a LOT of stuff buzzing around the net this week and last! There’s the deal about the alleged Kathryn Falk post on It’s My Blog…. I’ve NO idea if it’s KF’s words or not, but it’s causing a stir about positive and negative blogging.
Second Verse, Same as the First
Well, not really, but it’s about another blog post over on RomancingTheBlog The poster, Kassia Krozser, had some thoughts on recent comments by Karen Templeton and Diana Peterfreund as to where authors should or shouldn’t review books in their genre.
What I find interesting about both of these topics is that they both concerned reviews. Boiling it down to the base level, it left me with a couple of impressions.
- Some people think romance writers should review for the sake of the genre, others think it’s a romance writer’s job to write.
- Some people only want reviews written in a positive, thoughtful light. Then there’s the opposite side that believe any review is subject to a free-for-all.
Sooo….my thoughts (as if you really care)? Well, I do think that blogging has the ability to produce a lot of negative karma (yeah, so what if you think I’m a nut. I like myself, and it doesn’t really matter to me what someone thinks about me).
On Blogging In General
Blogging, IMHO, has the tendency to lend itself too permitting people to be downright nasty and mean behind the anonymity of a computer screen. Personally, I think it’s a lot harder to be a bitch or bastard to someone’s face in public than it is here on the Internet. I’ve seen people act like bitches and bastards out in public when they’ve openly derided others. Then I’ve looked at the people who’re passing by or stopping to observe the scene, and the looks on their faces tell me think the nasty person is an idiot without any class or couth whatsoever.
So I really do think the facelessness of the Internet, (to coin the lovely Jon Stewart’s word) emboldens people to post their opinions in a less than polite way. I’m all for opinion, but I hope I do it respectfully here. At least I try to do it that way. I might not always succeed, but I do make the effort. I KNOW that I eat crow when I have too, because I have here.
The tone of the two blogs was also interesting to note. On the one blog the posters managed to provided thoughtful commentary, rather than snarky, personal attacks on other posters. I guess I really am of the school of thought that says if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say at it all. Why? Because I truly believe that the pen (or the keyboard in this case) really is mightier than the sword. Disagreement and debate is good IMHO. Its enables one to grow and evolve into a better person. However, snark comments and personal attacks only detracts from a powerful argument in most cases. And not to take a side, but on the one blog the nastiness was on BOTH sides of the coin.
OK, Reviewing in General
Since the two blogs were actually about reviewing…while I think books should be honestly reviewed, I don’t think one needs to rip a book apart to point out it’s a bad read. No matter what anyone says, I don’t believe a bad review has to use ugly commentary to ensure that one’s point is made. I tend to look to the Siskel/Ebert (I know Siskel’s dead, but I like the sound of the partnership) example. These two reviewers worked for many years doing movie reviews. They sometimes hated a movie, but I never saw they really rip a movie apart in a detrimental way. They pointed out exactly why it didn’t work for them, but they did it politely.
That’s what I prefer in a review that gives a poor rating to a book. I don’t need a reviewer’s nasty comments such as (and these are simply examples rephrased) “WTF…who on earth could write a hero like this.” “What was this writer thinking when they wrote this crap?” “Ohhh, paaallleeeeze, I’ve never read anything so moronic in my whole fricking life!”
I find these type of review comments useless. Not because I as a writer can’t handle a bad review. (Generally, a bad review drums up more sales than a good review because readers want to prove to themselves that the reviewer is an idiot. It’s human nature.) What I find useless about snarky reviews is that they seem more intent on providing a venue for the reviewer to rant about what they found was a bad read than actually providing readers with any really valuable reasons as to why the book is so bad. Some of them even apologize up front for their snark. I don’t get that. Why apologize for something one has every intention of doing?
Having said all that, I will emphatically state that I’ll defend those snarky people’s right to do what they do, no matter how snarky I think those posts are. After all, it is freedom of speech no matter how ugly. So I just prefer to look at those posts as an indicator that I doubt the poster and I wouldn’t hit it off in person. But that’s okay, not everyone gets along with everyone. We don’t have to agree, but we should respect each other’s opinions.
Should Authors Review?
As to writers reviewing their genre, I’ll have to agree with Karen Templeton and Diana Peterfreund that I don’t really feel it’s my responsibility as an author to review a book, if I choose to do so, then I do it. The one point I don’t recall seeing was what if the author writes a review that is FAR from positive about another writer’s book. I think there could be some major backlash from doing that, and the end result could hurt the author making the review. So then it becomes the issue of “oh that author just writes positive reviews how can I possibly trust her to lead me to a good book.” While Kassia Krozser offered up some good points of disagreement, I’m still going to have to stick with Karen and Diana’s viewpoints for my own comfort zone.
What Is Class
Have you heard about the Laura Baumbach situation at RT and the Hyatt Hotel. MY GOD! I can’t abide censorship, and to have the Hyatt hotel tell Laura that she can’t put out tasteful promo material simply because of the type of romance she writes is ridiculous. Someone suggested on her blog that she contact the ACLU. I don’t know if that would help given that Texas seems to have more weird sex laws than most states. Take a look at the Molly Ivins YouTube video related to sex laws or more specifically dildos in Texas. I never have done well with the morality police. I know full well that if we wound up in a police state, I’d be part of the rebel underground.
Where I really have to take my hat off to Laura is for her class and inner beauty in refusing to shove other author’s promo items aside to make room for hers. I had a friend at RT who had her promo items pushed out of the way by an ePub author who in a few choice words essentially told my friend to go screw herself. NOT an author I ever intend to buy from, nor will I privately or publicly recommend that author. Laura on the other hand acted the true professional and with incredible class. She addressed the problem in a quiet, professional manner. YOU GO GIRL! Here’s a Monica Hats Off to you!
Last But Not Least
Finally, I LOOOVVVVEEE MacKenzie McKade! What a fabulous woman! Not only does she have the most beautiful face, her inner beauty and charm illuminates her from within. Yeah, I’m waxing poetic here, but I mean every word of it!