Sunday, September 7, 2014

Message of Love vs. Message of Hate; Goodreads = Good Screeds?

Today is Chrissie Hynde's birthday, and I am celebrating, because the upfront take-no-prisoners 63-year-old lead singer and guitarist for The Pretenders has a new solo album, and later this year, almost on my birthday, she's be playing in San Francisco, and I got tickets!

Also, I got into a flame war on Goodreads and made a few hate-fans! Whoo Hoo!

Backtrack: As you may have noticed, my latest novel is titled Message of Love. The hit Pretenders song is referenced in the book, and my old pal, musician Dudley Saunders, recording a lovely acoustic cover of the title song. No, it's nothing like the original, and that's the point. 

How ironic then, that on the birthday of Ms. Hynde, whom I've admired for decades, some "reviewer" on the website posted a bilious inane, profanity-filled attack not on that book, and not exactly on its companion novel Every Time I Think of You, but about the formatting of the book blurbs for Every Time!

Petty? You bet. Deranged? Pretty much. You can go to that site's listing of my book and find it. It's pretty strange. But what's rather off-putting is something that several authors warned me about. "Do not reply to negative reviews." Goodreads' own website includes a notice as such, because they know their website is full of spiteful negative reviews, even ones that clearly have an agenda of personal attacks.

And you know, I haven't replied, until now. This was not a review, but a swear-filled rant about the placement of blurbs. WTF?

Once again, that's not a review, so that "review" sucks, too. Simple, right? Not in the Bizarro World of Goodreads, where readers rule, and authors are sometimes nothing more than a textual punching bag for Obsessive Compulsive nutbags and their pals.

After a day of personal attacks whenever I tried to explain that the deranged spew above was wrong, and mean, I got snide condescension from "fans," a barely literate "author," and I noticed a few shrill and dismissive "reviews" as well. From who? No surprise; buddies of the potty-mouthed "Librarian."

What malicious Goodreads members then do is then show off their disdain by clicking on the offending author's books with a "nope," even though they never would have read those books anyway.

That's how petty these people are. Like a mini-swarm of harpies, they swoop in to defend their addle-brained "reviewer" pal, and pour animosity on an author like me who had the audacity to actually reply to a hate post that had nothing to do with my book.

Disagree? Fine. Wanna write a negative review? Whatever. It's quite passé to appear anti-trend and contrary by writing a scathing review of an otherwise well-liked book. My colleague and former coworker Dale Peck took it to an art form years ago.

But it's quite obvious that such amateur critics have a snide agenda. How could a book, a sweet little book about two young guys in love, be glowingly reviewed by dozens of people and publications, awarded one of LGBT literature's highest honors, then slashed and burned by the occasional smarmy "critic?"

Among the several supportive messages from friends was a note from a reader who led me to a few blogs that focus specifically on this malaise at GoodReads. Since the administrators seem to allow this behavior, readers have taken up the task of recounting the numerous hater-readers on that site. Visit for more info.
So, why do such people relish antagonizing writers? Because that's all these nasty people have, I guess. It's the only place where they can feel powerful. While posting a few of my reviews of award-winning (and much greater) novels, I was dismayed to see readers giving Pulitizer Prize winners a smug one-star review, with a nasty snort. Hey, there's no accounting for taste.

Irony: the instigator of this flame war wasn't even born when I started making a living as a writer. And she later apologized for her post, realized her mistake, and won the flame war. Because that's soooo meaningful, isn't it?

Irony: my new book is called Message of Love, but I'm holding my nose for more messages of hate as soon as the harpies figure out I've written another book with the same characters.

Irony: I only joined Goodreads after I discovered that the formatting and information for my books was incorrect and sloppy. I was cited as the author of the anthology Swords of the Rainbow (which is out of print), they had outdated links, and it was a mess. It took hours of formatting, linking, and searching to get an author page together, and only after a few weeks did an admin allow me to cited as the author of my then-new book, Every Time I Think of You.

All this adds up to a big investment of time, what one would think leads to sales and promotions, not vindictive sniping at a writer. Once upon a time, authors wrote books and people bought them or they didn't. You didn't have to hear from anti-fans, except for perhaps a letter forwarded from a publisher. 

Should I have kept my silence on this initial nasty post? Yup. I don't spend all day there, cozying up to fans, spending hours in chat rooms, offering giveaways and making vlogs or the other time-wasting activities others seem to enjoy. I write. I have a job where I write. And when I'm not doing that, I write novels.

Even so, I'm happy, because it's Chrissie Hynde's 63rd birthday. Her tenacity is an inspiration. Her song is an inspiration.  I wrote a novel. Wait, I wrote and self-published FIVE novels, while you posted a mean review. Yeah, you win (eye roll).


And yes, even those haters are an inspiration, because I can't wait to write more books those nasty people are lining up to pre-hate.

And look! While this snarkfest was going on, I got another nice review on!  

So if you're a fan, and I hope you are, please do post reviews to my books –positive ones, hopefully– to counter this small -and smallminded- swarm's nastiness. But I won't reply... probably. 

But it is funny that since this RSS-feeds to my Goodreads page, the flying harpies even followed me here to carp about this post! One hater, who disguises her venom with concern-troll smarm, even suggested that I "should be reported!" Really? You're so full of "concern" that it pours out of your roost on GoodScreeds to Blogger? 

The reason? "It is against the Terms of Service of Goodreads to complain about specific users in public forums and/or author blogs."

That's generally the parroted retort from from the harpies who perch 24/7 on Goodreads. But to bitch, harp, attack, name-call and slander an author? Have at it! That appears to be the raison d'etre of some members on that site, and their admins allow it, in abundance.

One "reader" even suggested that authors should not be allowed to rate and like their own books! Who would want to read a book by someone who doesn't like their own work?

But even after the censorious admins deleted my blog feed, my page-views here quadrupled to more than 600 in one day, and I sold five more books.

And even after I removed myself from this snarkfest, and deleted a few replies (not out of regret, but to stop giving these trolls fuel for their vitriol), one of my wonderful readers bravely dove into the fray to defend me, only to be attacked anew.

Oscar Wilde may have said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." But if you're an author, be warned. Websites like Goodreads, while purporting to serve authors, sometimes do the opposite. Their administrators and alleged "monitors" knowingly allow their members to act like a herd of ankle-biting jackals, only to blame the authors for that behavior.