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I'm a bit late to the whole YA Mafia controvery that sparked up this week. I'm not going to rehash the background, but if you want to know more by far the best summary can be found on YA Highway.

I'm kind of bemused by it all really, not least because I talked about the subject of giving public book reviews in my post here and I don't want to rehash old ground. I am concerned though to see that some writers think that publicly reviewing books might hurt their writing career.

All I can say to that is the following:

1. writing book reviews did not stop me from getting my agent - I disclosed it in my query letter, my agent knows I still do it and she knows that I get invited to some publishers because of it. So far there is nothing to indicate that writing public reviews will stop me getting a publishing deal (provided I finish my squicking rewrites). A publisher might not pick it up for a number of reasons, but book reviews will not factor into it.

2. writing book reviews has not hurt my relationship with publishers. I've been invited to events organised by a number of publishers because I maintain a public book review blog and I get free books for the same reason. I'll admit to at one point feeling guilty at getting books from Simon & Schuster because I read a number that didn't work for me and posted reviews accordingly. The peeps at S&S told me not to sweat it because it meant that when I did love one of their books, no one would think I was a mindless shill.

3. I love a good snarky review as much as the next person and when I started my review blog at quippe I started off in a similar vein. However as I've gone on and started writing myself, I found myself feeling uncomfortable at doing it - not least because I felt extremely uncomfortable when I met an author whose work I'd savaged and found myself liking them. (Still hated the book though). Since then, I've tried to be more even handed and analytical about my reviews and my rule of thumb is that I don't say anything in a review that I wouldn't be happy saying to an author's face. I'm not saying that everyone has to do the same because you don't - but I will say that I didn't feel right about it.

4. I'm still a fair way off from needing to worry about getting blurbs, but if and when I am, I'd expect there to be a conversation between my agent, my editor and myself about people to approach and the one thing I wouldn't want to do is approach an author whose work I didn't enjoy. I mention this because in the last week a lot of attention has been given to Becca FitzPatrick's 'Be Nice' post and the fact that she said she declined to read a book written by an author who'd posted a review critical of her novel Hush Hush. I think a lot of people have missed the point about that, which is that the author in question had told her editor how much she liked the book and that's why the editor was sending it out. Seems to me that if you've posted a negative review, it makes you a hypocrite to try and claim differently later. If I'd been in Becca FitzPatrick's shoes, I'd have been raising my eyebrows in that situation and declining to read on.

5. A lot has been made about so-called cliques in YA fiction and how members of those cliques blurb each others work. To which I say, "well, duh!". If you're mates in real life and you like each other's work then of course you're going to blurb it. That's human nature. Deal with it and move on. I don't believe that any clique (no matter how big the names within it) have the ability to damage people's careers. They might not blurb your book, but refusing to blurb your work is not the same as setting out to hurt someone's career. I've seen some people say the only way to get on is to be part of a clique. This is bollocks. Like Groucho Marx, who would want to be part of a club that would have them as a member? The time you spend trying to get accepted into a clique on false pretences is time you could be spending doing something more useful in your life. Plus you'll always be found out - and who wants to be exposed for something so silly?

And that's all I've got to say about that.

In other news, it's been a hell of a week. I was stricken with a nasty cold last weekend that I still haven't shaken off and I then missed work on Monday due to a humdinger of a migraine. As a result I ended up having to fit 5 days' of work into 4. At the same time my writing time got curtailed by a closing dinner on Wednesday (which was lovely - we went to Jose Murinho's favourite Portugese restaurant and I got a medal for being The Scariest Person When Angry - it's funny because it's true) and I went out with uC and C on Thursday to swap books and gossip.

I also won a £50 Amazon voucher for taking part in a legal marketing survey and managed to blow through it on the following:

- AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT, LATE ECLIPSES and A LOCAL HABITATION by Seanan McGuire (aka seanan_mcguire - read the first in this series and enjoyed it enough to want to read the rest and I pre-ordered DEADLINE by Mira Grant as well as I really enjoyed FEED;

- RADIANT SHADOWS and DARKEST MERCY by Melissa Marr (aka melissa_writing) - read the others in this series and wanted to finish it;

- SHERLOCK on DVD - don't normally buy DVDs but I'd enjoyed this and figure it will keep me going while waiting for the next series;

- MUNCLE TROGG by Janet Foxley - this won The Times' children's writing competition in 2009 and I've been really looking forward to reading it for a while now as she's a lovely lady;

- A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Caroline Dunford (verdandiweaves) - this has been on my Wishlist for a while now so I figured I'd treat myself.

Finally, I thought I'd mention for the benefit of fyrie that Shouty Man (aka CAPSLOCK!Boyd) is back next Sunday with the final series of Waking The Dead. Wahoo for graphic murder and shouting Trevor Eve.

Right, fruity beer and then back to writing.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Booyeah to all that, say I. I've been following the storm with some bemusement.

Hoping to see your reviews for these new books!
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
(oh, and I quite liked Ministry of Pandemonium! At first I thought it was just "Hmm, okay, rather interesting but no big deal..." and then I realized I was completley failing to put it down)
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it. It is an interesting book - bit of a slow burn but I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with the sequel.
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah the whole storm thing brought teacups to mind. I'm not knocking people for being worried, but there's a hell of a lot of paranoia at play with it.

The only thing I'd add is that I've since seen a couple of authors claim that blurbing each others work doesn't really mean anything, which I do think is disingenuous. Of course it means something - if Author A goes on their blog to say they really like Author B's new book and gives a cover quote, then Author A's fans may well then go and check out the book. That's the whole point of doing it and I'd be genuinely surprised if authors didn't know that when doing it.

Apart from that though ... meh.
Mar. 6th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
M-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel! :bounces off car bonnet:

Mar. 7th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
Deceitful dumplings!
Mar. 7th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
Hope you enjoy it!
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC)

I'm sure I shall - I should apologise actually as I've been meaning to pick it up for ages and just not gotten around to it.
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
Dat's a nice manuscript you got there.

It'd be a shame if sometin happened ta it.
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
"So, I gotta ask - is your manuscript fire proof? Coz I'm just sayin' here, it's real easy for accidents to happen with matches, ya know what I mean?"

Mar. 7th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)
There is another C that you and uC meet for bookswap and gossip? Soo confusing ;-)
Mar. 7th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah - I can't keep up with all the Cs I know at the moment. Someone should change their name.
Mar. 7th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
For jjpennstate from Absolute Write
I'm pretty sure that you won't be able to resist coming back here to see if I've unscreened your latest nasty little troll attack, so I thought I'd give you something to read.

That you've signed with an agent with no apparent track record is unfortunate, but that's your mistake to make. It does not justify your behaviour in taking your grudges to my blog and if you're going to engage in such pathetic behaviour, at least be a man about it and say it under your own 'handle' (whether here or at the appropriate thread on Absolute Write).

Anonymous trolling makes you look like a hypocrite, a fool and a coward - especially when you're so comprehensively caught out. For all you can say about me, I own to my comments and I don't hide my real identity. Trolling has a nasty habit of biting you on the arse - especially if you want to be published one day.
Mar. 8th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Re: For jjpennstate from Absolute Write
I'm not sure what your problem is with me. I was simply asking why you attack people. It seems very sad. Anyway, I'm through with you. Good luck with your writing.
Mar. 8th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Re: For jjpennstate from Absolute Write
You came to my blog. You left anonymous comments. You did not announce who you were from Absolute Write, only that you had followed me from there. You then made highly personal comments about me and my writing, including reproducing a comment that I made on AW for some pathetic twisted purpose of your own.*

Now, when I've called you on your bullshit and you can't hide behind your anonymity, you want to be victim?

I think it's sad that you felt compelled to come back here repeatedly rather than just get on with reseaching decent agents and working on your manuscript and query. Most of all though, I think it's sad that you can't even find the guts to apologise to me for the childish crap you've been pulling. It says a lot more about you as an individual, JJ, than it does about me.

* Just because I didn't unscreen them doesn't mean I didn't keep them.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline Hooton

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