Links: Thursday, March 13th

March 13, 2014 Links 7

Top photo shows a view of a Toronto street with blue sky and all the snow melted. Bottom image is the same view of Toronto the next day, when a blizzard coats everything in white.Toronto, 24 hours apart.

  • PSA: Authors, Write Books, Not War – I don’t know what to make of this Heidi Cullinan post. On the one hand, she’s correct that nothing you do online is private and can and will be seen by readers, but I don’t know that never reviewing, never talking about other authors and never taking on controversial topics is the only way to keep from showing your ass. It’s basically a post cautioning authors to watch their tone.

    Bloggers—book bloggers, readers, anyone not an author? They can have these public conversations far more safely. Scandal is lifeblood to bloggers more often than not. Controversy means hits. Negative reviews, even when authors foolishly firestorm, even when readers defy them as is their right (so long as they are not sent by the author), are good for blogs. Authors, you should not go here, and when you are compelled to do so anyway, you must be aware that every single word you say might lose you sales. You may disagree with me. You may burn and learn on your own. I certainly have done so, and many others have before me and many will in days to come. But this is my advice, and it comes from my heart, my soul, my being. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t be negative in public. Don’t snipe. Don’t disparage your fellows. Don’t diva. Don’t demand. Don’t assume. Don’t snarl, just don’t. Because while you think you’re digging yourself or someone else out, more often than not all you’re doing is carving out your grave.

  • Gender-specific children’s books ‘are easier to sell’, insists children’s book publisher – A book publisher responds to a UK petition calling for an end to gendered book marketing with the fact that these books sell really well, which I don’t doubt for a second. If people want things to change on this front, they’re going to have to vote with their wallets.

    But Mr O’Mara, a father of three, said these were “knee-jerk” reactions. “The proof is in the pudding. Our two best children books ever are The Boys’ Book and The Girls’ Book. The boys’ one included things like how to make a bow and arrow and how to play certain sports and you’d get things about style and how to look cool in the girls’ book. 2,000 people signed this petition [in the first day], but we sold 500,000 copies of The Girls’ Book. These statistics tell me I’m going in the right direction.”

  • MMW Roundtable: Responding to Randa Jarrar’s “Why I Can’t Stand White Bellydancers” – Someone linked this on Twitter (can’t remember who, sorry!) and I thought it was an interesting conversation about appropriation, colonialism and stereotypes. It has lots of links to relevant articles as well.

    Anyways — here’s my beef with her argument: what she calls appropriation isn’t appropriation as much as it is an orientalist nightmare based in colonial fantasies. I feel like I spent a lot of time growing up explaining that I *didn’t* have beaded, bellydancing costumes. I usually associate appropriation with things that are rooted in my culture, that I’d like to be appreciated/is worth respecting. In some ways, I feel that way about the dancing, but the whole world of “bellydancing” is so foreign to me. I just don’t want it to be tied to my heritage *at all*.

    And this is the weird part of that whole “bellydancing community.” It’s not a cultural exchange or appreciation. It’s dangerous because people think that they now understand your culture via these classes. There’s also this disturbing sexualization of Arab women that’s furthered by it. Personally, I didn’t even see bellydancing as sexual until I heard white people suggest it.

  • Rich Peverley and NHL insecurity: Asking to go back in after collapsing a brand of insanity not unique to hockey players – On Monday night, Dallas hockey player Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench early in the first period. After they shocked his heart and he regained consciousness, he asked to get back in the game. This spawned a bunch of “hockey players are the toughest” tweets and memes. This article gets into some of the reasoning behind the reactions, and I thought the issues of masculine posturing and unconscious racism were interesting.

    Most of hockey dealt with the Peverley situation perfectly. The NHL postponed the game, as it should have; other teams expressed support, as did players; the medical staff and medical policies of the NHL were both lauded. Perfect. It could have been so much worse.

    But there’s this strange strain of hockey fandom that demands something else. It happens every time; people will say, “basketball players, on the other hand …” and then we’re off, again. Lazy, soft, selfish, whatever. It raced all over Twitter again Tuesday; pictures of LeBron James and Peverley side by side, a variation on an old theme: LeBron is soft, unlike hockey players. Some hockey fans have this need to denigrate other sports — basketball, mostly — when it comes to loving their favourite sport.

  • Chronicles of the Veil by Laila Lalami – Commenter Anu posted this in the comments of Tuesday’s news post on Dear Author, and I thought it was a great read. It’s sort of the flip side to that sheikh romance piece.

    What happens once Western readers have had their “awareness raised” about the plight of Muslim women? Are they able to identify the legal, educational, economic, or religious mechanisms that create this oppression? Can they point to the role their own governments sometimes play in perpetuating these mechanisms? Do they become allies of the numerous local organizations that work on the ground to bring about change? Not really. Instead, they feel “concern” about these women, feel that these women need to be “saved” somehow, and probably also feel relief that they are not among them. In the end, the Chronicles of the Veil™ create a debate about Muslim women, not with them. This is a debate that serves to console, rather than inform. It provides even the most conservative of Americans the opportunity to present themselves as defenders of Muslim women’s rights.

  • Native American authors of romance – Romance author Olivia Waite crowdsourced a list of romance authors with a Native American background and compiled it into a Storify.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.

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7 Responses to “Links: Thursday, March 13th”

  1. Heidi Cullinan

    Sorry, not stalking you, but WP ping-backed me.

    Yeah, I worried it could come off as me saying don’t say anything. I’ll admit this came out of hearing ten different horror stories, none of which I feel comfortable referencing because THAT would be bad behavior. I mean, I contradict my own advice all the time. But lately the filters have been so far down I swear we all need a hard reset. I think authors keep getting seduced by social media and the illusion of casual. Everyone’s setting up their shingle as author and publisher with no research and no training, no time in the trenches of a local RWA chapter watching people make mistakes, mentoring at someone’s knee. There’s a lot of good in that. But this is the dark side.

    To be perfectly honest, I wrote this one scree to avoid myself blowing up when the worst of the rumored offenses hits the blogosphere, which unfortunately will be any day unless she backs down. This was kind of my Internet pre-primal scream.

  2. Ridley

    @Heidi Cullinan: I mean, “don’t get involved” is sometimes the approach someone needs to take. I interact with a lot of authors who can get involved in Twitter throwdowns and toss haymakers with the best of ’em and come out just fine, but we all know some authors who need a BFF to sit by them and offer an “oh honey no” whenever they’re near social media.

    It’s not easy to generalize good social media strategy.

  3. Sunita

    There are plenty of people who do pretty unpleasant things on line and sell many, many books. There are people who are really nice and professional and admirable online who sell very few books. I just don’t see, overall, that showing your ass on the internet automatically results in fewer sales. I wish it were true but there are too many examples to the contrary. And since none of us have anything other than anecdotes to offer, we have no idea if the scales really do tip in one direction or another.

    The bloggers who go after authors? They get page views. The authors who sic their fans on 3-star reviews? They sell books. Sure, some bloggers and authors are penalized, but many are not. And frankly, whatever you are is going to come through in the long run. If you take a principled stand that ticks some readers off, you might well gain others because of that stand.

    Don’t be an ass on the internet is great general advice, but everyone interprets it differently.

  4. Heidi Belleau

    My policy isn’t “never get into muck on the internet” (yeah fucking right lol can you even imagine that with me), but a more tempered “is wading into this issue worth potentially losing readers?”. So you know, less “never get involved” and more “choose your battles”. anything you say or do can ultimately lose you readers or followers or whatever. even being super mild and pleasant and never speaking your mind can do that. so really it comes down to remembering that fact when you decide whether to get involved in whatever.

  5. Jill Sorenson

    I skimmed the Cullinan post because I tune out whenever anyone talks about authors trashing other authors without giving examples. Because I think it could be about me, and that non-glowing 3-star review I wrote once. Or that time I called out slut shaming or just disagreed with someone.

    The real rule of the internet, in actual practice, is this: don’t piss off or criticize anyone more popular/powerful than you. I know an author whose motto of “don’t slam other authors” really seems to mean “don’t slam ME or my friends or else.” This is not helpful advice, it’s an intimidation tactic.

  6. Ros

    There are times when I genuinely wonder if I would sell more books by being a total bitch online and causing scandal and chaos all over the place, and trashtalking every reviewer who gives me less than five stars and all the other things badly behaving authors do. Because frankly, it rarely seems to hurt their sales at all, and maybe it has a positive effect because people recognise their names. Not to mention the way it stirs up a rabid army of fangirls.

  7. nu

    Re: Lalami article, at least those Veil (aka oppression porn) narratives aren’t so popular these days, I hope? Re: bellydancing, public bellydancing as seen on TV’s not exactly Arab culture, it was developed for Western consumption, so it doesn’t feel appropriative entirely, if you know its origins. It would be nice if choreographers for pop artists admitted bellydancing influence, but lol @ white Atlantic and WPost bloggers thinking they have the authority to say white people bellydancing isn’t appropriative and comparing it to Beethoven! As if Germans were considered a lesser species, uneducated or non-European now or at Beethoven’s time. Or colonized. No comparison. G. Willow Wilson’s blog was as always wise, though. What’s more annoying is when romance heroines bellydance in a submissive harem context -in real life, it’s empowering, right?