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The ARC of my book will soon be in the hands of the reviewers and I’ve had what you might call an emotional week.  Beyond the initial manic laughter when I found out the ARC was ready, followed closely by a flood of happy tears when I saw the PDF file, I’ve cringed in self-doubt, cowered in fear, suffered more than one paralyzing panic attack, been overcome with hope that readers will like my book, and on the flip-side of that, dread that they’ll hate it.

As you can see, reviews have pretty much taken over my life at this point.  Added to that, I’m still following a couple of threads on Amazon about the DAM review debacle. and all this has me wondering how I’m going to handle it when I get that first negative review.  And believe me, I don’t kid myself that it won’t come, because I know it’s bound to…at some point. 

Heck, it even occurred to me that DAM and her vicious posse might come after me when my book is released and write scathing reviews wherever they find it.  Paranoid much?  Yep, I admit it, I told you it’s been an emotional week, and I willingly concede the fact that I am (a wee bit) paranoid when it comes to my writing.  I think it’s a direct result of being a baseball fan.  Paranoia and superstition are both delusions and walk hand-in-hand in my book.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself!

Anyway, a couple of days ago, when my emotions were on the down-swing and I was immersed in feelings of self-doubt, DW posted the following on the “Help!  My negative reviews are being deleted.” Amazon thread:

Authors really shouldn’t be afraid of the one-star ratings. Here is an excerpt from an Amazon review study:

“But the most telling variable is the one star rating. Professor Gronas found that books high on what he called the “controversiality index” are given almost as many one-star as five-star ratings, creating a horseshoe-shaped curve. As it turns out, these books also tend to have high sales.”

I have to tell you, the point of DW’s post sailed right over the top of my head like a high fastball hurled by a major league pitcher.  Perhaps, if I’d taken the time to think about it, I would’ve gotten it, but…well, self-absorption doesn’t lend itself to rational thought,  Then, yesterday afternoon, another post, this one by Tams, made me sit up and take notice and shook me right out of my self-pity mode:

Finally, the review is not for the author it is for the fellow reader! If an author deletes a review, no matter what the rating, they may have just lost a customer, because that review just may have been the one to convince someone else to give that book a try! — Tams

And everything finally clicked.  I’m telling you, it was one of those moments where I could almost see the light bulb hanging over my head, flickering weakly at first then exploding into brilliant, blinding light–or maybe that high fastball connected with my head this time, instead of passing harmlessly over it!

As a result, I realized bad reviews, no matter how much an author hates them, can be a good thing!  And maybe, just maybe, those are the ones an author should really listen to.  If someone doesn’t like your writing and offers a valid reason why they don’t, it’s just possible if you listen to them, you may learn something and become a better writer.  I’m pretty sure I’ll get bad reviews, but now, I think I’ll be able to deal with them in a rational, adult manner.  I will do my best to remember the words of wisdom from Tams and DW when that one-star review pops up on Amazon, and look at it in a positive light.  Most important, I’ll try to resist the lure of getting the review taken down, or if I learn how to do it, deleting it myself, because as Tams points out, that review could very well result in future sales.

And on Amazon, if I’m not mistaken, you have to purchase the book in order to review it.  So, bad review on Amazon means at least one sale…and the possibility of more in the future.  That equals hope to me!

 

I’m having one of those MS days when my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders, so I apologize in advance if this entry doesn’t make any sense at all or if I go off on a totally non-related tangent or for any misspelled words, grammar errors, or typos.  Haven’t had one of these in a while, but they happen and I have to deal with it and by reading this, well, you get to deal with it too!  Aren’t you the lucky one?

Okay, let’s start with the public apology issued on Monday by Roger Clemens.  Really, Roger, you call that an apology?  Sorry, but I don’t.  In Roger’s egotistical mind, I suppose he thinks saying he’s made mistakes is an appropriate apology to his fans.  And he tells us he’s apologized to his family, but I have to wonder, did he own up to exactly what he did wrong when he apologized to them, or like the statement he issued to the press, did he avoid mentioning just what it was he was apologizing for?  Does that make sense?  Probably not–blame it on the MS–but I know he never specifically stated what mistakes he’d made and I have to say, if I were Debbie Clemens, I’d want it all out there on the table.  Come on, Roger, man up!  We all know you made mistakes.  And really, who hasn’t?  But you need to say what it is you’re aplogizing for, not just offer some generic apology for making mistakes.  I mean, who’s to say you’re not apologizing for cutting off that little old lady in traffic one August afternoon or losing your temper with a sales clerk who didn’t recognize you and refused to take your check without proper ID, or hell, I don’t know, yelling at Debbie for burning your dinner or your kids for leaving their roller skates toys on the stairs.  Own up to what you did and then, maybe I’ll listen.

Next, the Ocean’s–and no, that’s not a typo, I’m speaking of Ocean’s Mist, the e-publisher who has the amazing talent of becoming invisible when it comes to addressing problems and/or paying their authors.  It seems their site is back up after weeks of…here today, gone tomorrow.  They’re up now and they’re releasing a new book by Essence, who is rumored to be none other than their owner, Noemi, the person who stiffed her authors on their royalties.  It’s also being reported by the EREC blog and Karen Know’s Best, that Loose Id and Siren have signed this woman and are releasing books by her too.  I have to say, I’ve never heard of Siren, but Loose Id has a pretty good reputation as an e-publisher.  At least, they do right now, but I just don’t know what sort of impact this is going to have on that reputation.  Me, I find it despicable that a publisher would sign a contract with someone who failed so miserably in running her own business and went into hiding when the chips were down, refusing to address her problems and pay her authors.  That’s a cheat in my book you know how I feel about cheats.  Here’s hoping readers will show their dissapproval by not buying any books by Essence, writers will avoid Ocean’s Mist like the deadliest of plagues, and authors at Loose Id and Siren will protest loudly about having a cheat on their team.  

Okay, on to Amazon.  They’ve reinstated the discount on my sister’s book, but the discount isn’t as good as it was before and they, in true “Playground Bully” fashion, didn’t deign to tell her why they chose to reinstate it or why they lowered it in the first place.  Still, I guess you could say it’s a step in the right direction for Amazon, but…but!  They’ve also banned another reviewer from their site who, in their words, was “hectoring, harassing, abusive, and spiteful.”

And there you have my WTF? award for the week.  I’ve been following that thread on Amazon for over a while now and Steven Hedge, the banned reviewer–yes, that Steven Hedge, the one who graciously righted his mistake of using my pseudonym’s (misspelled!) name in one of his posts and apologized to me on several different fronts, thereby ensuring no one mistook me for the unscrupulous author he was referring to–never came anywhere close to being any of those things Amazon is accusing him of being.  I know from my experience with him and from reading his other posts on this thread, he is one of the nicest, most courteous and articulate people I’ve ever come across in cyber-space.  Amazon needs to quit relying on their automatons to address this whole DAM (DeborahAnne MacGillivray) mess and actually take the time to read what their customers are saying.  I have a feeling if they ever do, they’re going to be wiping the egg off their face for a long time to come! 

So, we have Clemens issuing meaningless apologies and Ocean’s Mist slinking out of hiding to dupe more readers, Siren and Loose Id publishing an author who’s proven she cares nothing for other authors, and Amazon, well, taking one step forward, only to take two back.

All behaving badly and all deserving big fat OH NOES!   

   
 

I’ve had an up and down sort of week, filled with highs, lows, and a few moments which felt like I’d somehow gotten lost in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

The highs: hearing from my publisher that she had the ARC of my book and was ready to send it out for reviews, finishing the second chapter of the book my sister and I are writing based on our great aunt’s life, the Red Sox breaking out of their five-game losing streak and getting two walk-off wins against Toronto, and spending the day yesterday with my sister and mom on a pre-Mother’s Day visit to Biltmore.

The lows: the MS medicine–’nuff said on that!–the Red Sox getting swept by Tampa Bay, and my personal brush with the DAM debacle–see my blog entry Will the Real Caitlyn Hunter Please Stand Up? from earlier this week.

As for the Twilight Zone moments, they all stem from that blog post.  After I got home from Biltmore yesterday, I found a comment to the post from Peter Durward Harris, who is one of the key players in the fight against Amazon, DAM, and her unethical behavior regarding reviews.  Here’s what Mr. Harris had to say:

Most people believe that “Caitrina Hunter” is a fake name and very likely a pseudonym for Deborah MacGiillivray. The fact that her blog page is titled “Caitrinia conversations” with an extra “i” near the end of the name reinforces the belief that the name is a fake as most people, however bad their spelling, always get their own name right. Let’s face it, Deborah MacGiillivray is a tricky name for most people to spell correctly, but the woman herself never gets it wrong although the rest of her spelling is generally poor when she doesn’t use a spell-checker.

Given all that, and given that you posted your first blog entry on the Highland Press issue before “Caitrina Hunter” ever appeared on the scene, it is possible that the name was chosen as a deliberate attempt to hijack your identity. If so, it’s backfired so far due to the extra publicity you’ve got, but of course that’s not really the point. Amazon regard impersonation as a serious matter. If you protest to them about “Caitrina Hunter” and they accept your protest, her profile page and reviews will be removed (apparently her offensive comments have already suffered that fate). But that’s up to you. And the wierd blog page (from which I got plenty of laughs – nobody’s ever called me a pimp before) might be harder to get rid of.

Meanwhile, thanks for your kind words on the Amazon romance books forum. After reading that, I found this extra blog entry and I’ve added it to my own blog page.

Along with Steve and the others, I won’t rest until Amazon take appropriate action. If you’re working through the Dear Author stuff on the case, you’ll eventually come to my explanation of my own history with Deborah MacGiillivray and (in a different thread) my reference to her “kitty goes zoom” review. Once I found that this same woman was the cause of all the trouble at Highland Press and the threats to Reba Belle, these things help explain why I am particularly motivated to sort this issue out. As the “Caitrina Hunter” blog shows, we are dealing with a potentially very dangerous woman. She must be stopped.

First, let me state that I stand firmly with the people on the Amazon romance forum who are calling for Amazon to stand up and deal with this whole wretched situation.  Mr. Harris is right when he says DAM must be stopped, and given everything I’ve read about her, not to mention the emails and messages written by her, she is a “potentially very dangerous woman.”  In my opinion, Amazon should never have let this thing continue, they should’ve stepped in when it was first reported and at least said they were going to look into the deleted reviews and the threats which were being issued by an author to reviewers.

Second, if it is true that Caitrina Hunter is actually DAM and the choosing of the name “Caitlin Hunter” was intentional and meant to hijack my identity and possibly smear my reputation, well, then the gauntlet’s been thrown and I intend to accept it.  I will report this to Amazon–although I really don’t have any hopes of them even responding to my protest–and I will not back down to DAM and her horrific behavior.

To be fair, Caitrina Hunter recently changed her profile and it now says she isn’t DeborahAnne MacGillivray and her real name is Kicki Hunter.  Quite a change from what it was before.  My first thought on reading it was Roger Clemens would have a better chance of convincing me he’s actually a good guy and never once took HGH.  Those of you who’ve read any of my posts about Mr. Clemens can probably guess that I’m not buying Ms. Hunter’s new profile.  FTR, I freely admit that my reaction may have been colored by her pulling the “feel sorry for me because I’m in ill health” card–I really hate that!

Beyond that Ms. Hunter, the name “Kicki”.  Somebody’s been doing their research, huh?  Kudos to whoever it is for reading my sister’s latest book and noticing on the acknowledgement page that the character of “Giki” was taken from the name my family calls me; Giki–pronounced with a hard “g” and rhyming with “icky”–or for that matter “Kicki.”  Hmmm…you’re either batshit crazy like I said, or you’re like a little child acting out to try to get attention.  Kicki, indeed.

Anyway, third, Amazon seems to be targeting my sister’s latest book by removing the discount on sales.  They pretty much ignored her protests and when they finally did respond to her numerous emails would only tell her that it’s their choice which authors are given a discount on books and not to email them about it any more.  Her sales have fallen drastically since they did this and all they’ll tell her is, essentially, “shut up and go away.”  Pardon me, but WTF?

After reading Mr. Harris’ comment, I have to wonder if she’s being targeted because of her connection to me.  If DAM has decided to make me pay for my comments about her unethical behavior here on my blog, isn’t it conceivable that she found my sister’s connection to me and decided to strike out at her because of me?  We all know DAM has some mysterious hold over Amazon, though we don’t know what it is.  Maybe she knows something about them that they don’t want to get out, or hell…who knows?  I don’t, but given the fact that I’ve mentioned my sister a couple of times on my blog, her name is featured on my web site and on my blogroll here, and the only reviews I’ve ever done at Amazon were on her books…well, it doesn’t take a genius to come to the conclusion that someone, somewhere made the connection and so, she’s being punished because of me.

And that thoroughly pisses me off.  Enough that I will not give up on this fight.  So, listen up, DAM, Caitrina or Kicki–or whoever the hell you are–and Amazon, I refuse to buckle under to your bullying tactics, even if it does mean committing career suicide before my career even gets off the ground.

And, BTW, DAM, if you really are Caitrina Kicki Hunter, I owe you a sincere and heartfelt thank you.  Your attempt to drag my pseudonym through the mud and smear my reputation backfired.  You’ve done me a huge favor by getting my name out there and we all know how important name recognition is in this game.

I’ve picked up your gauntlet and am tossing it back in your face so…what’s it going to be?

Pistols at dawn?

Your call.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams