Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Personal attacks are uncool

I’ve generally tried to stay out of the whole thing between STGRB and the Goodreads Reviewers groups. Although I identify with the GR side more, I’ve always thought that both sides had very, very good points. Some authors need to learn how to react better to negative reviews and some reviewers need to understand that their reviews are seen as hurtful, which makes them less helpful to people discovering the book or author. I think both sides will occasionally overreact to various situations, dragging them out far longer than necessary. Especially since after a while the conversations eventually go from the actual subject at hand, the review and the author’s reaction, to conversations and speculation about people’s personal lives.

Even if the personal lives of whomever is involved does have some bearing on the situation at hand, which it usually doesn’t, this always turns very ugly very fast. What should be a conversation about the review or the author turns into a “he did, she did- wait, what about the book” type of conversation where both sides end up feeling like nothing was really accomplished because nothing was.

Why I'm bringing this up is because recently one of the members of STGRB did something that was so uncalled for, so appalling, that I couldn't stay silent about how I felt about it. The other day Carroll Bryant posted three blogs about various people, John Green, Amanda Welling (whom Bryant alleges is GenX), and Jude (the girl Bryant was in an online relationship with). I want to note that GenX denies being Welling and says that one of the STGRB admins also told Bryant that they weren’t the same person.

Rather than talk about everyone's parts in the whole STGRB/GR scenario, the blogs only existed to post personal accusations and remarks. Some of them included open speculation that was pretty far fetched and even if by some chance they were true, had absolutely nothing to do with reviewing books. Which is what STGRB is actually supposed to be about. In all fairness, I think this was all Bryant and not anything condoned by STGRB themselves as far as I know.

What were the remarks? GenX has screenposts, but they're pretty awful. Bryant accused GenX of having an affair, alleges that John visits prostitutes because he tweeted a porn star on Twitter, and posted a lot of personal information about Jude, the girl that he was supposed to have been in a relationship with. None of it had anything really to do with books. At all. The only thing that had anything to do with any of the past events was that Jude was supposed to have written a review for him and their relationship ended badly on both sides. I'm particularly horrified that Bryant is putting out more information about Jude than about him accusing GenX of infidelity and of John of being, well, a john. She was a minor at the time and regardless of how rocky the relationship was on either side, it's very poor form to go out and start releasing such private information. I can't vouch whether or not she's supplying information to anyone, but from what I've heard, Jude has wanted to remain out of the spotlight and keep her private life private. Continuing to release information about her serves no purpose and only makes Bryant look bad because of it.

I just have to ask... what did any of this really accomplish? What purpose did any of this really serve? I know that in the past people have speculated about Bryant's personal life, but I don't see where that merited a series of attack blogs. Part of what I hate about some of the stuff on Goodreads from both sides is that people bring dirty laundry into the argument. Forgive me if this sounds callous, but I don't care what people do in their personal lives. Let me rephrase that. I care if someone is going out and beating on nuns with a baseball bat. I don't want people to hurt other people. It's wrong and it shouldn't happen. But when we're discussing the merits of a review and whether or not authors should or shouldn't respond to a review they find over the top, I don't think that speculating on whether or not John has paid for sex has any place in that argument. If I were to go about doing something like that then all it'd do is discredit myself and any argument I was trying to make. It also draws away from what we should really be talking about.

Again, what did any of the blogs really do? For the most part I don’t see where a lot of people were really talking about Bryant anymore until his recent spate of activity where he began rehashing his Goodreads run in and his relationship with Jude. But really, what will this accomplish? It only makes Bryant look bad and by extension, further tarnishes the reputation of STGRB, who didn’t start out with a stellar reputation in the author/blogging world to begin with.

My point of posting this is to give my own viewpoint about this. These guys are my friends and I'm posting this not because I want to make a statement about the whole STGRB/GR scenario, but because I find actions like this disgusting. I'm not comfortable with everything that GenX or the GR group does, but hey- I'm a wimp. I'm the Fluttershy of our group of friends. I'm not an activist. I just couldn't see those blogs and not remark on them. I know I'm opening myself up as a target and for those who might want to take a swipe at me, know that this will probably be one of the few blogs I'll post about the STGRB/GR stuff. If you want to villainize me, then fine. I just felt like those blogs were uncalled for and I'd really like it if such personal speculation and remarks could be left out of it.


I'd been mentioned in a blog by Bryant and I'm going to post another blog about stuff.

Manga Review: Demon Love Spell Vol 2 by Mayu Shinjo

Title: Demon Love Spell Volume 2
Author: Mayu Shinjo
Publisher: VIZ Media
ISBN: 1421550776
Release Date: 03/05/2013

I have to say that this series is starting to bring me closer to the type of fan I was when I began reading Shinjo's work with Sensual Phrase. You could argue, and be correct, that her work suffered due to various companies forcing her to churn out SP clones, but it's taken her a while to really get her creative juices flowing again. This has to be one of her strongest works lately, in my opinion.

A supernatural romance by the creator of Ai Ore! and Sensual Phrase 

Miko is a shrine maiden who has never had much success at seeing or banishing spirits. Then she meets Kagura, a sexy demon who feeds off women’s feelings of passion and love. Kagura’s insatiable appetite has left many girls at school brokenhearted, so Miko casts a spell to seal his powers. Surprisingly the spell works—sort of—but now Kagura is after her! 

Shrine maiden Miko has sealed the powers of the sexy incubus Kagura, who has vowed to protect her. But now a fox spirit has transformed himself into a human to proclaim his love to Miko, making Kagura jealous. Miko relents and allows Kagura to enter her dreams again, but now he can no longer regain his incubus powers?!

I think part of what makes this volume work is that the romance between Kagura and Miko is being built relatively slowly while still having plenty of nice steamy situations for them to tumble into. Miko does want Kagura, more so than she's really ready to admit, so most of the romance development in this stems from that aspect. Kagura's rather patient for a demon so much older than Miko is, but at the same time it kind of hammers in that Miko's still an inexperienced teenage girl. I kind of like that because this type of series is better when you have to make the two main characters work through their own personal issues before getting together. There are other plot points that come in and try to separate them, but the biggest issues are the ones that come directly from themselves and their own hangups or problems. This is part of what made Sensual Phrase so good, that even though the plot d'jour might have been sparked by some guy/girl/potted plant out to take one of the two people in the couple for themselves, the main problem was really some pre-existing insecurities or issues that the rival brought to the surface. I'm starting to see where this will be the case with this series and I'm pretty excited about that.

The artwork is, of course, top notch. Fans of Shinjo's steamier works will be a little sad to see that there isn't anything graphic in here, meaning no sex, but there are still a lot of pulse pounding scenes to be had. The artwork does a great job of bringing across the emotions. I'll admit that some of it is typical Shinjo and it'll be the same type of character designs that you've seen before, but the nice story lines help keep it from being too familiar.

I really loved this volume and when it ended, I was sad that I didn't have at least another chapter to flip through. This is turning out to be a series that I'd recommend to fans of steamier stuff and to older fans. Since Kagura is an incubus I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers for obvious reasons, as much of his actions are sexually driven. Incubi gotta eat, after all. There are no sex scenes, but there are sexual-ish situations and it's referred to frequently. Older teens would be fine with this, although parents will probably want to exercise some caution. You know what you want your kids reading, after all.

4 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by VIZ Media)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Press Release: IDW Announces New DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Miniseries!

IDW Announces New DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Miniseries!
CUTTER Cleaves into Comic Shops this April!

San Diego, CA (February 7, 2013) – IDW Publishing is thrilled to announce another action-packed entry in their line of Dungeons & Dragons comics! This April, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: CUTTER, a five-issue miniseries written by R.A. and Geno Salvatore with art by David Baldeon and covers by Steve Ellis, weaves the tale of a family fiercely divided and at odds with itself, with a legendary sword hanging in the balance!

When the battle-hardened Drow renegade Tos’un must choose an heir to his legacy, his half-Drow son Tierflin and daughter Doum’weille become locked in vicious competition. But what will the prize, the bloodthirsty sword Khazid’hea, have to say on the matter?

“These comic series have become a wonderful tool for me to fill in the blanks and to crystallize my thoughts on the Legend of Drizzt novels going forward,” explains R.A. Salvatore. “The fallout from the twisting events in Neverwinter Tales not only came into play in the last couple of Drizzt books, but allowed me a strong plot line for an upcoming novel I’ve yet to pen. The same is true for Cutter – I see it already. So while these comic stories are self-contained, they open up to the wider stories going forward.”

From the writing team of powerhouse Dungeons & Dragons veterans R.A. and Geno Salvatore comes a tale steeped in action and intrigue, woven into the fantastically imaginative world that can only be found in the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons & Dragons. Rounded out by the vivid art of David Baldeonand Steve Ellis’ striking covers, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: CUTTER is sure to be a wildly fun ride for fans of Dungeons & Dragons and comics everywhere, not to mention an unexpected tie-in to this summer's blockbuster R.A. Salvatore novel!

Dungeons & Dragons: Cutter (FC, 32 pages, $3.99). In stores 4/17/13.
Diamond Code: FEB130303
share on Twitter Send IDW Announces New Dungeons & Dragons Miniseries! to friends on Facebook  

About IDW

IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS and G.I. JOE, Paramount’s Star Trek; HBO’s True Blood; the BBC’s DOCTOR WHO; Toho’s Godzilla; and comics and trade collections based on novels by worldwide bestselling author, James Patterson. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints; Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio.
IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Warner Brothers and Barry Sonnenfeld are attached to adapt LORE into a feature film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot, with Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Curious Case of Mike Kearby

Here's a potential "author behaving badly" for you: Mike Kearby. For those of you unfamiliar with what's going on, here's the summary:

Last year several bloggers were solicited to participate in a blog tour. Like most blog tours, blogger/reviewers can opt to either post a review or a book promo of some sort. One reviewer, Lizzy Lessard, didn't much care for the book and chose to post a book promo. Months later, she decided to go through her list of books she'd read and rate them on Goodreads. Her review was a very brief one star review where she basically said that she didn't like it and couldn't finish it. The review was finished off with a statement about how only a few blogs opined to post reviews. The author, Mike Kearby, read the review and made a comment and that's where it essentially all went to you know where in a handbasket.

What Kearby posted is as follows:

"A perfect example of a reviewer from the Simon Cowell generation. Lizzy: yes - you have the right to be critical of editing, wordbuilding, transitioning, etc...what you do not have a right to do is lie to enhance your review. Your last sentences, - where you pronounce that only two FMB bloggers opted to give reviews, seems on the surface to make your review universal in acceptance - except for the fact that your statement is not only inaccurate but a lie. You know that more than ten reviews came from the tour, most 4 and 5 Stars - and if you didn't know this, then you shouldn't have indicated that you did. It might be wise to get your facts straight next time."

Lessard then removed the last few sentences from her review and apologized for making the generalization. This didn't stop here, as Kearby continued to comment, making further posts such as "Thank you. But remember You are dealing with people's lives and how they make a living. You should always be respectful of that. it isn't a game or a joke to those of us that write." and accusing Lessard of outright lying. From there Lessard posted a blog of her own with screencaps (see here) and Kearby took to every social media site he could possibly find to decry what he saw as a "drive by reviewer", among other things.

Now here's my take: Kearby did have a right to ask that Lessard remove the comments about the book only getting a few reviews from other blogs. It was supposedly inaccurate and even if it had been accurate, there's really no reason to make comments like that. There's no way of knowing the reasons why other reviewers wouldn't have posted reviews, some of which wouldn't have anything to do with disliking the book. Other than that I think that Kearby was out of line when it came to several different statements.

Accusing Lessard of lying is definitely over the top. She made a generalization that was wrong and when informed of this, she removed the comment. There was no reason to imply that she did this on purpose by saying she lied. Also saying that she was being deliberately disrespectful is also over the top and doesn't really do anything to make him look better. As far as the comments in various social media sites go, that's another thing that's fairly inexcusable. If Lessard had been equally indignant when replying and done anything other than remove the final part of the review, then that might justify a tiny bit of further anger. But going onto every social media site you have an account with merely to blast her to the hills for what's ultimately a small review is overkill. In his blog post Kearby wrote that Lessard was a frustrated author, implying that this was revenge against him for having a publisher. Note that I say imply. He didn't outright state this, but the implication is there. This is why you try to be as careful as possible when writing rants. It's entirely possible that your words will make you appear not as a wronged author, but as someone getting mad over what's ultimately small potatoes.

Her review probably would have been largely ignored by readers at large. Commenting and overreacting to the situation just ensured that not only would hundreds of eyes discover this review, but it'd put a lot of readers off of your work. Case in point, myself. Without knowing about the review and the comments, I'd probably have read this book at some point in time. It has a fun cover and a B-movie vibe that I tend to enjoy with some of my reads. But now? I'm not sure if I'll read it. I've had more than one promising book get ruined by author shenanigans.

This is pretty much a classic case of someone getting more upset over something than they should have. It probably wasn't good for Lessard to make a blanket statement like that, but it's even worse to go onto her review and make catty comments, then go onto the internet and blast her over every single social media site you're a member of. If anything, this called for a short e-mail to Lessard requesting that she remove her comments about the blog tour. If she refused then you should probably go through Goodreads, but if you're concerned in the meantime then it's better to leave a polite comment correcting her. Getting affronted over the comment only makes you, the author, look bad.

There will probably be some rallying cries of "totally bullying" from various websites such as Stop the Goodreads Bullies or such, but the cold hard fact is that this is ultimately one author overreacting to what was a flippant remark on a largely insignificant review. I don't mean that as an insult to Lessard, just the fact that unless your review is printed in the New York Times or put on Good Morning America, our reviews don't really affect large scores of readers. Most of the larger bloggers only get about a few hundred or thousand hits on a review. Some of those readers still buy the books afterwards. Lessard has a decent fanbase, but nowhere near as big as someone along the lines of Oprah Winfrey. Her panning a book or making a generalization isn't likely to completely kill your sales. Overreacting probably will.

Further reading:

*The review
*Lessard's blog post
*Kearby's blog post


Kearby's comments have been removed and his account appears to be inactive. He's still complaining on his blog, but the more he talks, the worse he's sounding. He's sticking to the claim that Lessard was absolutely lying in a hurtful manner as opposed to her making a mistake or exaggerating. I'm saying mistake and exaggerating, as lying implies intent. I didn't really see intent in the review, just her trying to make a generalized statement to show that she wasn't the only reviewer who disliked it.

What has really surprised me is that for once, Stop the Goodreads Bullies isn't jumping on the "defend the author" bandwagon with this one. They actually defended Lessard rather than Kearby. That has to really say something, that a site that is known for twisting situations to defend authors under pretty much any stance is agreeing that Kearby's attack was too much. I'm rather glad they aren't defending him.

I just have one thing to say to Kearby: Stop. Just stop. You said your piece. You said more than your piece really warranted. Now it's just getting into personal attacks and you're making yourself look bad. If the good people at Damnation Press haven't e-mailed you to tell you to hush up, it's only because they haven't seen your comments yet. There's a difference between "setting the record straight" and getting angry over what's ultimately nothing. You're getting angry over nothing and you're pushing reviewers away. Kearby has stated that he has a small core of readers. That's nice, but publishing your work is also about gaining new ones and this isn't how you do it. I might have read his book if he'd walked away after the first few comments. Maybe even after the blog. But at this point? I don't think that I could distance his work from his tantrum, no matter how hard I tried.

Further further reading:
*Authors, Please Dont Do This (Stop the Goodreads Bullies)