authors behaving badly

Authors Behaving Badly: New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

Authors Behaving Badly

In the past few years we’ve heard a great deal about authors behaving badly. There’s even an acronym…BBA…badly behaving author. But this following list mentions a few alleged BBAs who aren’t new authors, or even self-published authors, and I found the comments fascinating.

Here are just a few names mentioned. There are fourteen mentioned altogether, twelve of which are showcased in detail.

Jonathan Franzen:

While we love Franzen’s work, he doesn’t seem to be the friendliest guy in town. First, he insulted Oprah. Who insults Oprah?! When Oprah wanted to make “The Corrections” one of her book club picks, Franzen was insulted. He notes, “I think she was surprised that I wasn’t moaning with shock and pleasure.” Um, why wouldn’t you be? Oprah is about to make you rich. Jonathan Franzen thinks he’s too good to have suburban housewives reading his books. To make matters worse, he wrote that horrible piece about Edith Wharton in the New Yorker that basically talked about how she hated other women because she was so ugly, so she only created tragic beautiful female characters. Yeah, Jonathan. We’re sure that was the reason. Just totally undermine the first female author to win a Pulitzer for her fiction. Good job.

I’ve loved everything Franzen has ever written. But I do marvel at his luck sometimes. And while I do believe that we create our own luck for the most part, I also think there’s something working in the metaphysical background for some people that most of us can’t figure out. It’s not every author who can write one book with bad sex scenes and annoying characters every ten years and make millions.

James Franco:

James Franco likes to call himself a part of the literary community, but unfortunately for him, they don’t really seem to want him (in fact, it might be a stretch to call him a “famous author” in the first place. He’s more “famous” and, in addition, an “author”). The LA Times recently ran a post called Will James Franco Please Stop? However, Franco insists that his undertaking so many artistic projects and trying to look like a renaissance man does not, in fact, make him a jerk. He told E! “If anyone wants to say that my doing these things makes me a jerk, that’s not about me—that’s about people reacting to me.” We see both sides of this coin. However, we think it’d be one thing if writing poetry and novels was just a hobby of Franco’s and he wasn’t pursuing getting them all published. That’s just obnoxious.

This one is tricky for me. Franco has done so many things I admire I just don’t get him being called a BBA. In 2006 James Franco went to UCLA to get his degree. He took 62 credits a quarter, where the normal load is about 18 or 19. And for some that’s even pushing it. He received his degree in 2008, and he never stopped acting during his time in school. He wrote his thesis under Mona Simpson, an author I’ve mentioned here before (she was Steve Jobs’ sister, who didn’t meet Jobs until many years later because Jobs had been put up for adoption…and she also wrote one of my favorite novels of all time, Anywhere But Here). And this is only a partial list of James Franco’s credits. So I personally don’t find him anything but inspirational. And I think calling him a BBA is really reaching too far.

As a side note, the author of this article made a few fundamental mistakes, which are all updated at the bottom of the post. I couldn’t actually find a byline anywhere. You can read more here.

New Hope Gay Marriage Saga

I’ve been following the story of gay marriage and the Mayor of New Hope, PA, where I live, and it continues to devolve. I posted about this early last week. The gist of all this is that Mayor Keller of New Hope believes it’s more important to follow the law than it is to question ethics and inequality. And even though a clerk in Montgomery County, PA, a few miles away from New Hope, has been issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples illegally, Mayor Keller refuses to honor those licenses and he refuses to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in New Hope because same sex marriage in Pennsylvania is illegal. Most legal analysts claim there is limited risk if Keller were to perform same sex marriages, and right now a judge is about to rule on what the clerk in Montgomery County did.

In any event, this was a recent article I read in a local newspaper about Keller.

On one side is the four-term Republican incumbent, Larry Keller, who supports legalization of same-sex marriage and recently declined to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple, citing Pennsylvania law, his oath of office and the legal advice of the borough’s solicitor.

On the other side is the Democrat challenger, Donna Deely, who had said she would, if elected, perform such ceremonies and now says she would respect the decision of the state court system, whatever that might be.

At the end of the article, a very clever little small town journalist adds this:

A recent poll by Franklin and Marshall College found that 76 percent of respondents disapprove of elected officials ignoring laws with which they disagree.

The journalist must have looked for ages to find that piece of information. And, there is no mention of the types of laws. In other words, Keller is upholding a law that’s not only unethical, but it is as steeped in US history as segregation laws and slavery laws. In other words, if there were a law in PA that stated people of African descent could not use the same water fountains or public bathrooms that white people use, would Mayor Keller be a hero for upholding that law?

I have the highest respect for the law. We need laws and we need to follow laws. But every so often a law comes along that needs to be challenged, and in this case it’s same sex marriage. What is going to be most interesting out of all of this is whether or not Keller is relected this fall. New Hope has a large gay community, but it’s not all gay. And if Keller is relected it’s going to speak loudly about where the straight community in New Hope stands on the issue of same sex marriage. Because it’s one thing to say you support same sex marriage, but it’s a completely different issue to actually support it.

Here’s a letter to the editor from one local paper.

New Hope Mayor Keller brought disappointment and sadness to me this week. My life is peppered with many amazing and happy times in New Hope. I shake my head. One of the friendliest places to gay people in Pennsylvania has a mayor who refused to marry a gay couple. Amazing!

Why would someone support a law that is obviously unethical? I remember my father telling me the Army (he served in the Korean War) gave a soldier the option to not follow an order if the soldier felt the command was unethical and/or immoral. If Mayor Keller is for gay rights, then why would he morally or ethically uphold the current marriage law?

As a local official, Mayor Keller should call Gov. Corbett and ask him to stand down and bring down the state marriage law. He should be an advocate for gay rights and not against gay rights.

I was married in New York in July the week of the Supreme Court DOMA decision. My wish was to marry among my family and friends in Pennsylvania, but I could not. Mayor Keller of New Hope was given the chance to stand up for equality and change. He sat down and supported the current law. Amazing!

Now this is an interesting spin. In the same article I linked to above, this is mentioned.

Keller said he is one of about 350 mayors nationwide who have signed a letter by Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and this week sent a letter to Governor Tom Corbett that said although he always will uphold his oath, ” … in my heart, I strongly believe same-sex marriage should be legal.”

And this is how the New Hope Council responded. It’s an online version of the newspaper, and I couldn’t find another link. But I wanted to add the link becuase I know several of the people on the list are openly gay, and in long term relationships. One I’ve met at parties and she and her partner recently married on Cape Cod this summer, in Provincetown. In other words, she’s legally married in MA, but not in New Hope, where she selflessly gives her time to work for the town of New Hope as a council member.

The following members of the New Hope Burough Council want the public to know that we support marriage equality and will do all in our power to put pressure on our state senator, state representatives, and Gov. Corbett to change the biased unconstitutional law banning same sex marriage. We are proud members of a town that supports diversity and equal rights for all. We will not stop our pro-active role until Pennsylvania supports marriage equality.

 
 

She Fingered Her Pearls; Snark on Erotica

She Fingered Her Pearls; Snark on Erotica

I really don’t think this post needs to be long. It’s about writing erotica, and how different people write erotica. And it’s not always simple to do because there are words that can either make or break a scene…and in many cases this all depends on the context of the scene.

Yesterday I saw a published author I follow on Twitter making fun of a new self-published author’s erotica, and the way this self-published author wrote a few scenes. The published author I follow on Twitter was taking direct quotes from the self-published author’s book, tweeting them, and making a joke out of them for the sake of pure snark. In other words, the published author is an asshat in the first degree.

Although no names were mentioned, I thought it was interesting that one author would actually do this mean girl thing to another, so I went over to Amazon and checked out free samples of the published author who was making fun of the new self-published author. I was certain the published author’s work would be absolutely perfect. After all, only the most perfect criticize others that way.

And sure enough, this is what I found on the first page in one of her books on Amazon:

“She fingered her pearls…”

This was not erotica, or an erotic scene.

That’s not a sentence I would ever use in a book…or anywhere. I would have written, “She touched her pearls,” and kept it simple. I’m not a huge fan of words that have some very exact meanings. And when I think of something being “fingered,” my mind tends to wander in one naughty, amusing direction. And when a female character is fingering something, I zoom in on one particular part of the female anatomy.

My point is that anyone can take an erotic scene out of context and laugh at it. That’s called putting the spin on it. But to take this a step even further, anyone can take any scene (or word within a scene) in any book and laugh at that as well if he or she spins it the right way.

Maybe this is an August thing, because I actually wrote a long post about this almost a year ago, here, after a group of bloggers decided to laugh at erotica. And I gave a few of my own detailed examples of how anyone can put the spin on non-erotic romance, too.  The unfortunate thing is that most who write erotica are not in a position to fight back because it’s such a discreet genre. So they let things like this go and the mean authors get away with whatever they want.

I’ve stopped following the published author who laughed at, and tweeted about, the new self-published author.

Amazon, Dorchester, Vacuous Nasty Bloggers, and Thoughts From Nora Ephron…

This seems to have been a particularly evil week on the Interwebs for nasty bloggers. I read where one extremely decent elderly gay author (who happens to have great books and great sales with a great publisher) was ripped to shreds on one particularly vicious blog. As a result, he announced he no longer wants to write. I’ve seen so-called gay fiction authors attack other authors in public, which is something I rarely see people in other professions ever do (try to get a doctor to trash, or even testify against, another doctor). And I’ve read blog posts where many authors seem both disillusioned and frustrated about all of this. I don’t blame them. I feel the same way.

On top of all this, Nora Ephron passed away. I wasn’t always a huge fan of everything she did.I would have rather seen more Julia than Julie in the film “Julie and Julia”. (Many don’t know this but Julia Child was often attacked by vicious jealous people in the world of cookery during her time, so it’s not something new.) But I loved how Ephron did it, and I respected everything she did. I think Ephron will go down as one of the greats of our time.

This photo I found on social media is a great example of what I’m talking about. And when you think about how short life is, those vicious, vacuous blogs that go for the kill really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. I’m not a huge fan of authors behaving badly in public. But what is considered bad behavior covers far more ground than authors attacking reviews/reviewers. It also covers authors who attack other authors with reviews and opinion pieces for no other reason than to spread hate.

I also saw this good news this morning. It looks as if Amazon is trying to acquire Dorchester’s assets, which would mean all authors/agents who haven’t been paid will finally see their money.

Amazon Publishing would buy Dorchester’s entire backlist and customer list and would pay Dorchester authors any outstanding royalties they are owed.

I remember following the Dorchester debacle while it was happening and I felt bad for the authors. And what happened to Dorchester is something that could happen to any publisher. Once again, you can’t fault Amazon for doing something no one esle seemed willing to do. You can also read more here at a blog I frequent often, written by Richard Curtis.

And a little further down is the good news that authors and agents who had despaired of recovering royalties from the sinking publisher will be made whole by Amazon: “All publication contacts regarding certain literary works (collectively, the “Works”) and related outbound license agreements of DP (collectively, the “Contracts”), subject to the purchaser negotiating certain amendments with the authors of the Works in exchange for payment by Amazon Publishing of the full amount of back royalties that DP indicates is owed to those authors as of May 31, 2012…”

Authors Writing Reviews and Goodreads…


When I came across a blog post written by a young adult author, Hannah Moskowitz, I couldn’t help but read it just because of the title: AN OPEN LETTER TO THOSE WHO REVIEW ON GOODREADS. In fact, I love this post and wish I’d thought of it first. You can get there from here to read the full post.

Although I don’t follow the YA drama closely, I have heard about some of the things going on between YA authors with respect to reviews and how these reviews are written and received. I have no comment there because I’ve seen similar things happen in the romance world more often than not.

I agree with Hannah Moskowitz about knowing when to step back on goodreads…and other places that are designed for readers to leave book reviews. As an author, I’ve learned to curtail my opinions for reasons I think are important to readers. I almost feel as if I’m intruding sometimes because I’m an author. And I don’t want to make readers feel awkward or uncomfortable by getting in the way of their book review experience. There are times I wish I could hop into a blog thread and discuss a book on romance review sites, but I always feel as if I’m intruding and that I’ll ruin it for readers.

Hannah says this:

That doesn’t mean I can’t write reviews, even negative ones; I do sometimes, and there are some amazing combination writer/reviewers out there–Phoebe North, anyone?–but it does mean that if I go out there and comment on bad reviews with sarcasm and bitchiness and general asshole-dom, I make writer-hannah look like a fucking idiot.

What’s more, I embarrass my fans, I disrespect people who support me, and I give YA writers a bad name, and that just isn’t how this shit is going to go down.

I agree completely. I would never, and I have never, gone after another author in public by throwing the first punch. As Hannah stated, I’d look like an absolute asshole. I’ve never jumped into a comment thread and attacked another author. But authors sometimes do this and they never look good in the end.

I like to look at it this way. Almost all of the authors I know have respect for each other and respect for their genre. They stick together like cops, doctors, and all other professionals. So if you see an author who leaves snide, bitchy comments about other authors the odds are she’s an asswipe (or a nut). Most authors don’t do this unless they are asswipes (or nuts). And if they do it long enough, readers know how to spot them as asswipes (and nuts).

Check out Hannah’s post in full. She has a way with dirty words I love, too.

Something I’m Not Fond of…



It’s no secret I’ve worked in publishing for the past twenty years. Up until about five or six years ago, I spent more of my time writing under various pen names and submitting work to editors who were working on LGBT anthologies. My first job out of college was with Conde Nast, with a magazine. I’ve done everything from freelance to edit a full time editor for a small print publication with a wide circulation about astrology. One of my oldest and dearest friends has been a lit agent for over thirty years. In other words, I didn’t just pop up out of the blue, the fiction I write isn’t a mid-life career change, and you can bet I’ll be around for the next twenty years.

But the one thing I never like to see is when authors go after other authors. I’ve posted about this before, but not for a while. What sparked this post was a blog post I read on another author blog on Friday. The vicious author in question, a straight woman who seems to have popped up out of nowhere in the last five years, once went after me, in public, on her blog and on other blogs, and I didn’t even know who she was. Talk about a WTF moment. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I’m used to the professional, friendly publishing industry, pre-Internet, where people support each other instead of ripping each other apart. In fact, this is one of the things I’ve always loved about publishing. It’s a nice, trusting industry to work in compared to other industries.

But the vicious author I’m talking about wrote a scathing blog post about another author on Friday. And she actually admitted that what she does in her spare time is surf the freaking web looking for vicious reviews on goodreads that rip bestselling authors apart. She actually said this…on her blog. Can you imagine someone doing this in her spare time? What a colossal waste. I read it three times just be be sure I wasn’t wrong. And not only did this vicious author give an example of what she thought was the bestselling author’s bad writing, she added mean comments and sardonic photos to go along with the example. She even mentioned the bestselling author’s name on her blog. And when I see things like this, my Sicilian temper starts to rise.

Although it’s killing me, I’m not going to link to the offensive blog post and I’m not going to mention the female author’s name who wrote the mean, uncalled for post. It’s not because I’m afraid of confrontation. I actually look forward to confrontation in some cases. If I did link to the author, I’d only be giving her free publicity and I often think authors like her do things like this just to get free publicity. Besides, it’s not really worth the time or the energy. It’s actually a little funny. The vicious author I’m talking about went after a bestselling author who has an established fan base. I doubt the bestselling author is worried about it. I didn’t bother to approach this vicious author when she made snide comments about me in public. Again, I figured it wasn’t worth the time. And why give the idiot free publicity?

But I did do this. I bought a few of the vicious author’s books. Like I said, she writes m/m fiction, and from the way she tells it on her blog, she’s the only one who’s ever written good m/m fiction and the only one who ever will write good m/m fiction. I’ve seen her say this in public, too. Well, I read the books and they sucked. She’s an absolute amateur and it only took the first five pages for me to see it. If I’d seen her work when I was editing, automatic slush pile. She plays upon overly sensitive subjects within the gay community to work on readers emotions, and clearly knows nothing about them from a first hand point of view. On top of that, she’s not one of those straight women writing m/m fiction that actually get it right with regard to any of her content. Most straight women writing m/m fiction do get it right, and I’ve read them and praised them here on this blog. But when they don’t get it right, it’s downright pitiful.

So for now I’m just going to rant a little here on the blog. Blogging is, indeed, a cathartic process, and I feel so much better now. But this bitch better hope she never runs into me in person (smile).