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Old 4th February 2019, 05:00 PM   #1
Stankeye
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Book Burning - In the Internet age

Apparently you don't even need a physical book to be able to create a controversy to make a "problematic" book disappear.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/31/b...ns-racism.html

New author runs into twitter controversy and pulls book before publishing due to people letting her know what can and can not be written.

More background in this article, as they seem to have some passing knowledge about the Young Adult book scene.

https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-new...budding-career

This is a sad state we are in and while I understand the concerns, the methods that the internet allow mobs to dictate to artists is appalling.
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Old 4th February 2019, 05:11 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting this story. I had considered posting, but could not come up with just the right wording.



There is another story about this on Vulture. I think the thing that surprised me is that one of the critics didn't seem to understand that oppression can be based on non-tangibles like religion and that one of the other critics had to issue their own apology for using the term 'tone deaf'.


https://www.vulture.com/2019/01/ya-t...lf-cancel.html


Brahm's 1st Symphony was in part shaped by decades of carping criticism in the media in the wake of Beethoven's 9th symphony, I'm not so sure that the results of the current twitter process in literature are going to be quite so enjoyable.
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Old 4th February 2019, 05:20 PM   #3
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It sounds like in this case readers responded to a work with critique and the author chose not to publish.

Did they threaten her life?
Did a government agency get involved?

It seems like her speech faced a reaction of... more speech. So if this is an issue of freedom of expression, are you saying that the creation of a book is such a sacred expression that the freedom of critique should be limited?

I mean, I can see how critique can constitute mob rule in some cases. I obviously haven't read this unpublished book so I have no idea whether their criticisms were on-point or absurd. But if you're saying that "This book sucks" constitutes an act of book burning rather than an act of expression, you're sounding like the one who wants to limit expression.
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Old 4th February 2019, 05:34 PM   #4
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I mean, Jesus, was the book pro- slavery?

Quote:
"Gosh," thought Magic Princess Firekitten, "slavery sure is awesome and I hope that one day the wizards manage to spread it to other worlds, possibly the one where SweetTweet03291 lives because she tweets damaging things about nice authors! Or so I have seen in the Mirror of Visions." She then activated the Amulet of Trilogy and fell into the Abyss of Beendonetodeath for another eight hundred pages.
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Old 4th February 2019, 05:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
It sounds like in this case readers responded to a work with critique and the author chose not to publish.

Did they threaten her life?
Did a government agency get involved?

It seems like her speech faced a reaction of... more speech. So if this is an issue of freedom of expression, are you saying that the creation of a book is such a sacred expression that the freedom of critique should be limited?

I mean, I can see how critique can constitute mob rule in some cases. I obviously haven't read this unpublished book so I have no idea whether their criticisms were on-point or absurd. But if you're saying that "This book sucks" constitutes an act of book burning rather than an act of expression, you're sounding like the one who wants to limit expression.
It's a bunch of precious little bookbloggers having hissy fit and questionable accusations about the author.

Quote:
Paige Cee@LegallyPaige
I have nothing to lose by it and have the time, I'll tell you which 2019 debut author, according to the whisper network, has been gathering screenshots of people who don't/didn't like her book and giving off Kathleen Hale vibes:

Amèlie Wen Zhao.


She should release it just because any publicity is good publicity.
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Old 4th February 2019, 05:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
She should release it just because any publicity is good publicity.
I mean, she's totally free to release her book if she wants to.

That's why I have trouble equating some critical tweets with book burning.

Question for folks in this thread who see this as similar to book burning. Would you have the same general reaction if the book in question were one that advanced an idea you find loathsome and the criticisms were things you found true, or is it the appearance that this criticism is undeserved that creates this scenario for you?
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Old 4th February 2019, 06:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
I mean, she's totally free to release her book if she wants to.

That's why I have trouble equating some critical tweets with book burning.

Question for folks in this thread who see this as similar to book burning. Would you have the same general reaction if the book in question were one that advanced an idea you find loathsome and the criticisms were things you found true, or is it the appearance that this criticism is undeserved that creates this scenario for you?

I don't equate it with book burning, I equate it with bullying and really that's all it is.


Also you have this phenomenon of people being told that the old saw about how the only person who can write fiction about murders is someone who has killed. It denies imagination.



I've read novels by name authors where I've felt 'dirty', or at the very least uncomfortable after reading them because I found the ideas contained within them repugnant. And I have recommended that to people that they not read them and I will explain why.



There is another article in Vulture commenting on earlier instances. This quote will suffice.


Quote:
“Mimi” (not her real name), a teen book blogger with a follower count in the thousands and who describes herself as “a huge fantasy reader,” was among those who had been looking forward to The Black Witch — and she was initially thrilled to see Sinyard, an influential voice in the community, pick up the book. “I was really excited for what she was going to say about it. I thought it was going to be 600 pages of epic-ness,” she says. But her excitement soured when she caught wind of the book’s issues; just reading the sentences collected in Sinyard’s review and Twitter threads was painful, she says: “It hit me really hard. I’m so upset about it. It was very hurtful, and very, like, just harmful and triggering.”

In this case the person is not reacting to the book, but to a possibly slanted review and the angry reaction that the author of that review encouraged. Not to the book itself and in this case there is a strong campaign to encourage people not read the book lest they be 'tainted'.


https://www.vulture.com/2017/08/the-...a-twitter.html
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Old 4th February 2019, 06:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
It sounds like in this case readers responded to a work with critique and the author chose not to publish.

Did they threaten her life?
Did a government agency get involved?

It seems like her speech faced a reaction of... more speech. So if this is an issue of freedom of expression, are you saying that the creation of a book is such a sacred expression that the freedom of critique should be limited?

I mean, I can see how critique can constitute mob rule in some cases. I obviously haven't read this unpublished book so I have no idea whether their criticisms were on-point or absurd. But if you're saying that "This book sucks" constitutes an act of book burning rather than an act of expression, you're sounding like the one who wants to limit expression.
Here, let me explain it to you because you don't appear to understand the issue.

So: Debut author with $500K book deal (several big publishing houses thought the book was that good) had her deal trashed by a couple people who attacked her on Twitter claiming one sentence constituted plagiarism and they thought the book was racist.

I hope she changes her mind and allows the publisher to go forward.
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Old 4th February 2019, 06:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I mean, Jesus, was the book pro- slavery?
Definitely not, according to more rational accounts and the author's apology and explanation of mis-read characters.
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Old 4th February 2019, 06:44 PM   #10
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Slate has a decent analysis:

An Author Canceled Her Own YA Novel Over Accusations of Racism. But Is It Really Anti-Black?
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:44 PM   #11
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It's unfortunate that anyone should care what these snot-nosed little ***** think. I guess everyone should stop writing novels, because someone is sure to get offended.
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Old 4th February 2019, 09:57 PM   #12
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Since she's explained that her inspiration was indentured servitude in China (her country of origin) I suspect she'll wait for that to sink in and release it later.
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Old 4th February 2019, 10:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by shemp View Post
It's unfortunate that anyone should care what these snot-nosed little ***** think. I guess everyone should stop writing novels, because someone is sure to get offended.
That is the trend the writing community I am in contact with is leaning. I think (hope) that the ACRs (advanced copy readers) involved in this character assassination lose a good chunk of their followers.
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Old 5th February 2019, 03:50 AM   #14
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In this case it was her choice. She's part of the problem and she's made it more difficult for future authors to make a stand.

Of course the far left target books, their aim is to pollute all aspects of modern life and why should literature be exempt? The best way for an author to avoid their attentions is to write well. Make no mistake, these people are morons. They are not achievers, they are not contributors, they are bitter no-marks who have neither the intellect nor the will to bully an accomplished author. That's why their victims are almost invariably novices writing in the fantasy and young adult genres, relatively poor writers who lack confidence and who do not enjoy the active backing of their publishers (should they be fortunate enough to have one).
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Old 5th February 2019, 04:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
That is the trend the writing community I am in contact with is leaning. I think (hope) that the ACRs (advanced copy readers) involved in this character assassination lose a good chunk of their followers.
Honestly, I hope they just think about it and learn and grow. It's possible. Stranger things have happened. On some level, after reading her response, they have to know they seriously messed up. I don't expect a big public apology out of them, but I suspect when the book releases (and I think it will eventually) at least some of them will write about their "initial misconceptions about the author's allegory".
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Old 5th February 2019, 04:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Here, let me explain it to you because you don't appear to understand the issue.

So: Debut author with $500K book deal (several big publishing houses thought the book was that good) had her deal trashed by a couple people who attacked her on Twitter
I rather think you don't understand the issue yourself. The deal is not trashed. The publisher is perfectly happy to go ahead with publishing the full three books in the deal, including the one that has attracted criticism if the author wants, as originally planned. The author has chosen to withdraw it because she feels that the criticism merits a response; she's also said she chose not to publish it 'at this time,' implying that she may choose to publish it at some later time after some modifications.

I'm not saying there isn't a possible concern to be addressed here, but you don't strengthen your case by such a transparent misrepresentation as "had her deal trashed".

Dave
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Old 5th February 2019, 05:11 AM   #17
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I think the author is working with this situation extremely well. She still has her half a mil deal - she's just putting it on hold till people chill out and understand that she was inspired to tell the tale (and elaborate in magic of) those indentured into servitude in China, where she grew up.

"Expanding horizons" is what literature is supposed to do, and it's often full of peril for the authors. That's why pseudonyms exist. Nevermind burning the book - jailing or executing the author was a thing, too!
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Old 5th February 2019, 05:43 AM   #18
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One of those cases where there's not enough information to be sure what has actually happened. According to the author she was was inspired by indentured servitude in China, but it seems that some reviewing it have taken it to be a commentary on American-style slavery (because, obviously, that's the only form of slavery or pseudo-slavery that has ever existed!), which if actually so, would be a pretty dumb assumption on their part.

The book already seems to have a shedload of positive reviews online, which suggests that she should just ignore the whingers and publish.

Of course, when I was the target age for this genre, I was reading John Wyndham, H.G. Wells, Harry Harrison, and the like, so what do I know...?

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Old 5th February 2019, 05:45 AM   #19
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Progressive orthodoxy takes another scalp. The sad thing is they can only attack people who actually care about such approval, so they eat their own.

These are the people that grow up and have Huck Finn removed from the school's reading list because it's racist.

I hope that after a few more cases of the internet lynch mob trashing good people we'll have a bit of a recalibration of the old outrage meter. That's the problem with these internet lynch mobs, the power of the mob is infectious and things escalate out of all reasonable proportion. It's far easier to destroy than it is to create.

I suppose a bit of nuance is asking a lot from the YA community. Certainly there must be a difference in reaction to an author's clumsy use of tropes and deliberate malice against a long oppressed people. Sometimes books are just duds, or are mixed successes.
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Old 5th February 2019, 11:27 AM   #20
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Can anyone point to any specific action taken by her critics that was wrong?
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:14 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
Can anyone point to any specific action taken by her critics that was wrong?
See my quote from above. Maligning the author through gossip and telling her fan base that the author is giving off "bad vibes" like Kathleen Hale (whoever that is).
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:28 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
giving off "bad vibes" like Kathleen Hale (whoever that is).
Let me get this straight. You don't know who Kathleen Hale is (neither do I). Nevertheless, you claim that proclaiming one to be giving off "Kathleen Hale vibes" crosses a line? You don't know what the statement means, but you just know that it's something they shouldn't have said?
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:28 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
Can anyone point to any specific action taken by her critics that was wrong?
Are you (and others) unfamiliar with bullying? It seems so.
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:31 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Are you (and others) unfamiliar with bullying? It seems so.
I'm very familiar with bullying. I suspect, however, that artistic criticism is being conflated with bullying. I want to make sure this is not the case. So far, nobody has posted evidence of bullying.
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:42 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Are you (and others) unfamiliar with bullying? It seems so.
I must be unfamiliar with the way you're using the term.

Could you share the definition you're going from?

In my experience bullying requires more than saying critical or unkind things about something or someone. Otherwise pretty much all media critics would be bullies. So would all political cartoonists, most Op-ed writers, all political activists, the entire staff of the Onion and every single poster on these forums.

Certainly, saying critical and unkind things online can comprise bullying, but I haven't heard enough to see the bar cleared in this particular case.
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:44 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
Can anyone point to any specific action taken by her critics that was wrong?
Wrong in what sense? Wrong as in illegal, or wrong as in a bunch of useless nobodies who dedicate their lives to bringing others down because they are incapable of achieving a damn thing?
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:46 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Wrong in what sense? Wrong as in illegal, or wrong as in a bunch of useless nobodies who dedicate their lives to bringing others down because they are incapable of achieving a damn thing?
So Lionking, is this quote bullying? Why or why not?
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Old 5th February 2019, 12:55 PM   #28
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I can't get past the $500k thing. Either the publishers think it's pretty hot stuff, or there's an industry ready to be fleeced by whatever I can cobble together this weekend. I'll make it crazy racist if that's what sells.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:01 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
Wrong in what sense?
In a moral sense. Have her critics done something they should not have done?
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:02 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I rather think you don't understand the issue yourself. The deal is not trashed. The publisher is perfectly happy to go ahead with publishing the full three books in the deal, including the one that has attracted criticism if the author wants, as originally planned. The author has chosen to withdraw it because she feels that the criticism merits a response; she's also said she chose not to publish it 'at this time,' implying that she may choose to publish it at some later time after some modifications.

I'm not saying there isn't a possible concern to be addressed here, but you don't strengthen your case by such a transparent misrepresentation as "had her deal trashed".

Dave


You are defining "trashed" as some complete severance, I wasn't.

I fully understand the situation and probably know more about it through my writing community than most people in this forum. And she is a member of that writing community, BTW, though I've not interacted with her personally.

I have a novel that is almost finished and while it's nowhere close to the level of Blood Heir, it deals in part with some of the same issues, sex trafficking, slavery, class divides. I avoided using ethnic groups because I didn't want to add that layer to the story. Class groups are known by genetic markers, not outward appearance.

Anyway, I've been following this situation closely. Getting a book deal like that with one's debut novel is a dream come true. This is a shame.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:05 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
In a moral sense. Have her critics done something they should not have done?
Arguably, yes, although I'm not suggesting they should be prevented from doing so.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:09 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
Progressive orthodoxy takes another scalp. The sad thing is they can only attack people who actually care about such approval, so they eat their own.

These are the people that grow up and have Huck Finn removed from the school's reading list because it's racist.

I hope that after a few more cases of the internet lynch mob trashing good people we'll have a bit of a recalibration of the old outrage meter. That's the problem with these internet lynch mobs, the power of the mob is infectious and things escalate out of all reasonable proportion. It's far easier to destroy than it is to create.

I suppose a bit of nuance is asking a lot from the YA community. Certainly there must be a difference in reaction to an author's clumsy use of tropes and deliberate malice against a long oppressed people. Sometimes books are just duds, or are mixed successes.
It wasn't "clumsy".

The advanced readers were, IMO, of narrow world experience. There is a push at the moment for more persons of color (POC) authors and characters in books, including YA books. So people are seeing what they are expecting to see rather than what is actually there.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:15 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
Can anyone point to any specific action taken by her critics that was wrong?
They called a single line plagiarism, they think the slavery aspects were racist and I think some are going on about the 'appropriation' accusation (that's one I find particularly ludicrous) and one person claimed she was taking screen shots of bad reviews which was turned into some horrible offense like keeping an enemies list. There's not really any evidence that charge was true.

Mostly this all went from a couple people into the 'we are offended' echo chamber where it was amplified all out of proportion.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:17 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
I'm very familiar with bullying. I suspect, however, that artistic criticism is being conflated with bullying. I want to make sure this is not the case. So far, nobody has posted evidence of bullying.
In this case, the criticisms about the book have evolved into bullying. That included bombing the book with one star reviews on Goodreads, though her overall rating is still 4.5 stars.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:19 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I can't get past the $500k thing. Either the publishers think it's pretty hot stuff, or there's an industry ready to be fleeced by whatever I can cobble together this weekend. I'll make it crazy racist if that's what sells.
There was a bidding war between publishers. They do see a hot market for the book. And the money included rights to the next two books as it's a trilogy.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:25 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
In a moral sense. Have her critics done something they should not have done?
Yes. Unequivocally! Instead of critiquing the book one "critic" decided to spread idol gossip*! It crosses the Elagabalusian Line! Forget what I said about no one should be doxed ever! Paige Cee@LegallyPaige should be run out of town! **


CeePaige Run!! Bwhahahahahhahahahahaha!!!


Oooooops.ETA:https://www.bustle.com/p/author-kath...ut-it-15649240







*yes. I totally meant to do that!
**Not actually my real feelings on the matter just venting. Never dox people! Animals ... maybe

Last edited by Elagabalus; 5th February 2019 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 5th February 2019, 01:46 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
Yes. Unequivocally! Instead of critiquing the book one "critic" decided to spread idol gossip*! It crosses the Elagabalusian Line! Forget what I said about no one should be doxed ever! Paige Cee@LegallyPaige should be run out of town! **


CeePaige Run!! Bwhahahahahhahahahahaha!!!


Oooooops.ETA:https://www.bustle.com/p/author-kath...ut-it-15649240







*yes. I totally meant to do that!
**Not actually my real feelings on the matter just venting. Never dox people! Animals ... maybe
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Old 5th February 2019, 02:15 PM   #38
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Old 5th February 2019, 02:45 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Elagabalus View Post
Yes. Unequivocally! Instead of critiquing the book one "critic" decided to spread idol gossip*! It crosses the Elagabalusian Line! Forget what I said about no one should be doxed ever! Paige Cee@LegallyPaige should be run out of town! **


CeePaige Run!! Bwhahahahahhahahahahaha!!!


Oooooops.ETA:https://www.bustle.com/p/author-kath...ut-it-15649240
More than one author has had psych issues with bad reviews. It bizarre but just like some Twitter stalkers, it seems to be a social media disorder. And I do mean disorder.

I can understand having insecurities when reading bad reviews but I can't imagine actually looking for the reviewer.
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Old 5th February 2019, 03:04 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
More than one author has had psych issues with bad reviews. It bizarre but just like some Twitter stalkers, it seems to be a social media disorder. And I do mean disorder.

I can understand having insecurities when reading bad reviews but I can't imagine actually looking for the reviewer.
In 2014 a girl working at a grocery store in Scotland had her head bashed from behind with a wine bottle by a man named Richard Brittain, who had tracked down her real name and place of work and planned the attack after she criticized his book on Goodreads. The book, coincidentally, was itself an "ode" to a different woman Brittain had stalked all over the UK for the previous couple of years.

Things usually don't go that violently; but yeah, authors have been known to go absolutely bananas over critical internet reviews. I'm sure most people have heard of the "Empress Theresa" saga; and only just recently in another thread we were reminded of the drawn-out battle skeptics had with Judy Byington on the review page of her book about Satanic ritual abuse.
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