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Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews

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  • Lloyd Lofthouse
    Janet, I m moving on from the two virtual brawls and getting back to my latest project. However, I did take advantage of the topic that dropped in my lap and
    Message 1 of 172 , Feb 28, 2013

      I'm moving on from the two virtual brawls and getting back to my latest project.

      However, I did take advantage of the topic that dropped in my lap and wrote a rather long post on the subject---thus moving it from Amazon to my turf---and one of the alleged bullies maybe wasn't thinking when she left a comment to continue the melee on my Blog.


      If you leave a comment on a Wordpress Blog, you also leave behind your IP address and may discover where the person lives and/or works.  In this case, I was handed both locations. It seems that Anna Karennina left her first comment from home and the second one from work at the San Mateo County Office of Education where only staff members and teachers have access to the wireless code.  I called the office and ended up speaking to the person in charge of internet security for the county and explained the situation. 

      None of the others from this flock of crows have joined the conversation on my Blog.  It seems that anonymous alleged bullies want to stay that way---invisible as possible.

      Back to Amazon.  The benefit/curse (depending on how you look at it) of the "YES" or "NO" buttons as a show of support (one way or the other) is that there is no way for anyone to know who clicked "Yes" or "No".  That way individuals that want to stay out of being dragged into a bully's melee/spotlight may stay anonymous too.

      Two methods (one dark and one light) to use invisibility to your advantage.

      Lloyd Lofthouse

      --- On Thu, 2/28/13, janetelaine smith <janetelainesmith@...> wrote:

      From: janetelaine smith <janetelainesmith@...>
      Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews
      To: "IAG-members@yahoogroups.com" <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 5:27 AM


      Good advice.
      By the way, Lloyd, I seem t have sparked enough fury on their behalf that they are leaving you alone. <g> Glad to be of service. Meanwhile, as Viva says, move on to the next book. That was my final word to the bullies on Lloyd's behalf: I'm going back to work on Book No. 24.
      Also, I ALWAYS take TWO copies of my book with me--one to show and one to sell. I sold one yesterday at WalMart while I sat on the bench to wait for the woman I was with. One of the clerks was standing at the fast checkout lane looking bored, so I walked over to her and gave her one of my rack cards that lists all of my books. I watched her as she read it over, then she motioned me to go over to her. I did, and she asked me where she could get them. I pointed to the places on the card that gave that information. She said, "You don't happen to have one with you, do you?" I reached into my purse and took out the second copy. She bought it on the spot. I guess maybe I should start taking three copies along, but that would mean I have to buy a bigger purse! LOL
      Keith Trilogy now at Omnilit.com
      Keith Trilogy in Kindle now 
      Travel with JES to Venezuela and back here ;
      Just click on the cover of Rebel With a Cause
      Check out videos here

      From: Yvonne LaRose <inaword_ccjp@...>
      To: "IAG-members@yahoogroups.com" <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 9:50 PM
      Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews

      Katherine, my sympathies and empathies to you and Lloyd. I truly understand the ill health part. And I definitely can identify with the bullying and harassment and abuse.

      It's difficult to do but turn your back on those distractions. They'll tear you apart and then try to rend the confetti that's left of you. Move forward to accomplish more. Do you have any speaking engagements set up? If not, get some bookings. Do you have any lectures you can do for a history or art class? Take Janet's example and get some invites to speak to a few classes. Incidentally, take some of your books with you in case some of those attendees want a copy.

      Have you started your next title? Do the speaking engagements and talk about where you'll be going with the next title. That will whet the appetite of your new crop of readers. Those detractors? You can mention them as an after thought during your talks; reference them as people who did not understand this point or that. And icing on the cake, tell your new audience that those detractors (don't use that term) were your motivation to start doing talking spots so that you can step into the audience with the readers and explain some of the more obscure things.
      Yvonne LaRose
      In a Word-CCJP [Content Critiques Journalism Proofreading] 

      LinkedIn Profile : Ziggs Profile

      Direct Dial: 310-402-4893  
      The Consultant's Desk : The DeskThe Pundit 

      From: Katherine Ashe <kateashe@...>
      To: IAG-members@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:49 PM
      Subject: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews [1 Attachment]

      Hello everyone, I've been gone for a while. Health and editing of my new book have kept me swamped.

      But presently I'm coping with the orchestrated attack against me that has been pursued at 3-month intervals by fellow historical novelists since June  2010. (It started on an Historical Novelists Society thread so I know who they are.)

      They began attacking my book's blurb (none of them had a copy of my book)  in defense of one of their number whose work on the same historical character isn't as deeply researched as mine. When they found someone who actually had a copy of my book they tried to coach him in how to write a slam. He saw how he was being used, withdrew and we became friends.

      Perhaps the on-going heat of th
      he Feb 16 attack.


      I write of this in my

      On 2/27/2013 1:26 PM, president@... wrote:
      It always helps to check out the reviews of The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, David Copperfield, Les Miserables- all have some one star reviews!  You can't please everyone AND some people just like to be contrary-

      -----Original Message-----
      From: "Chester Campbell" mailto:campbellcd@...
      Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:08pm
      To: iag-members@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [IAG-members] Re: A little FYI

      Fortunately I've gotten very few of these type reviews. It's hard to ignore them, but I do. When I read something like: "The writing style was amateurish compared to what I normally read. It's as if the book was written for high school students as reading material." I look around at seven 5-star reviews by legitimate reviewers for sites like Midwest Book Review and dismiss the guy as somebody who just wants to rant for ranting's sake.
      Chester Campbell
      The Poksu Conspiracy, a Post Cold War thriller
      Available in ebook format http://amzn.to/R9g5Pd
      Mystery Mania Blog: http://chestercampbell.blogspot.com/

    • Kris Jackson
      I agree, Karen. The review process should be kept honest and pressure-free. Anonymity promotes frankness. /*--Kris Jackson*/ Author of /Above the Fray, a Novel
      Message 172 of 172 , Mar 10, 2013
        I agree, Karen. The review process should be kept honest and pressure-free. Anonymity promotes frankness.

        --Kris Jackson

        Author of Above the Fray, a Novel of the Union Balloon Corps,
        a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree,
        Love Strong As Death


        On 3/9/2013 7:10 PM, Karen Clark wrote:

        I'm really not going to get any deeper into this than I've already got. I just want to repeat my message one more time: Writers shouldn't involve themselves in the reader review process on Amazon or Goodreads. No good comes of it and sometimes a lot of harm.


        From: Katherine Ashe <kateashe@...>
        Reply-To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2013 09:54:58 -0500
        To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews


        Anyone who finds this thread of discussion very upsetting probably should read no further.
        Apparently I have confused you with someone else, a woman with whom I had lunch at the Indie Publishing conference in New York. My apologies to both you and her.
        First: I have had four 1-star reviews and I have never raised the slightest objection to them. The fifth, by "Kathryn" brought up issues that deserved discussion  and, were I able to post anything on Amazon, I surely would have entered replies. The problem was never the review, but the use of what Amazon calls "campaign votes" by an obviously organized group (9 entries in support of the review on its appearance show communication and organization when they occur for a book that is not a trade book with a current promotional campaign.) And yes, there is legal recourse.

        I gather your reference to my problem with Amazon a year ago, regarding their removal of my identity from searches of my name and transfer of my identity to the romance writer KathArine Ashe was not read first hand by you on my Facebook page but that you are aware of the complaints launched against me in this regard. I've read enough of KathArine Ashe's writing to know that she's quite a capable writer -- which i have always said -- but I strongly object to seeing her creditted with the writing of Montfort, or me credited with writing "In the Arms of a Marquis" and being issued an award for her work. However, the problem has been resolved as best it can. My books can be found now through a search of my name, although she and I continue to be confused, even on Google.

        Regarding your remark that I "refuse to answer questions," had you read the Facebook sequence to which you seem to be referring, you'd know that I had frequently and thoroughly answered the question put regarding my book -- only to have the questioners reply with their stock retort that I "refused to answer questions" My Facebook friends found the questioners' behavior so upsetting that those specific questioners had to be blocked from the site and eventually the entire exchange was taken down (not by me, incidentally.) Since then the group who harass me have taken their cry that I "refuse to answer questons" to other sites on the internet. For the most part their questions are answered in the Historical Context sections of each of my books. Other questions, such as Kathryn's issue regarding the 1238-39 charter of Kenilworth to Montfort -- or absence of such a document -- certainly deserve answer.

        Here's an example of my answers: this was posted at Goodreads in answer Kathryn's review which she has repeated there:

        As one devoted to the history and records of the early 14th century your concerns regarding my book Montfort are quite understandable.

        I began my researches in 1977 and spent 1978 immersing myself in study of the original documents preserved in the London Public Record Office and British Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

        Regarding the donation of Kenilworth Castle to Simon and Eleanor de Montfort in 1238 and the apparent absence of a charter:

        While the grants of kings and the records of the Royal Chancery may seem by the 1300s to deserve the statement “there are rules,” and  assumption that regular procedures were in place, the Chancery’s record keeping staff was only beginning to develop in the reign of King John. Through the 1230s the records of the reign of King Henry III are often incomplete. At the Public Record Office and British Library, thanks to the liberality current in 1978, I was able to study the actual 13th century documents directly: scrolls being delivered to my table, along with two velvet covered bricks to be used to hold the ancient documents open to the area I wished to read and to move the bricks along to allow the scroll to unravel on the right side and roll up again on the left.

        For 1238 many passages in the original documents were so smudged and faded as to be illegible, others had holes in them, and there was an entire set of membranes missing. The entries in the Calendar of Charter Rolls are mutilated beyond legibility for passages as lengthy a time as March 18 to July 13 – a period when King Henry might have ordered the charter of Kenilworth to the Montforts. See online Calendar of Patent Rolls:


        (the entry starts at the year 1233 -- scroll to 1238)

        And you will find that between August 19 (with the addition of three incompletely dated items) and October 30, 1238 there is an extraordinary outage and a small section of a scroll membrane has been inserted and labeled 2d, recording an agreement with Alexander, King of the Scots, which would have been a serious matter if it had been lost.

        The outage in the Calendar of Charter Rolls between August 19, 1238 and October 30 1238 skips from membrane #2 (and the inserted fragment labeled 2d) to membrane #7. These membranes are sections of sheep skin treated to avoid deterioration and sewn end to end to form the record scroll. An outage from 2d to 7 is highly unusual at this late date -- but there it is.

        The Chancery documents of the early to mid-1200s as published in print may give an impression of regularity but actually offer nothing to compare with the reliable regularity that is to be found for documentation in the latter part of Henry III’s reign, and which became worthy of the terms “rules” and “reliable procedures” in the reign of Edward I.

        Considering that there is no ill will on your part but genuine misunderstanding, I suggest that our interesting discussion be moved to the “Discussions” section of the Montfort The Early Years Amazon page where I will be very happy to address your questions and those of others, where we all can pursue these matters with mutual respect.

        Regarding the objection brought up by you and others as to whether Eleanor de Montfort’s holy vows qualified her to be termed a “nun”, I've decided to amend the book to avoid confusion. Eleanor’s vows and wearing of her consecrated ring designated her (as nuns are designated) a “bride of Christ” and I will edit Montfort to use this specific terminology, which I hope will make her standing in the Church clear to modern readers.

        Montfort is a lengthy and complex work and I welcome questions from readers on points that apparently have not had the clarity they ought.

        Remembering that Monfort is not a history but a novel of speculations regarding issues brought up by my research – I never have made any claim that its version of Simon de Montfort’s life is definitive, or even aspires to be “true” in the sense that histories of periods and individuals, where documentation is consistent and trust worth, may be “true.”

        Because of the often fragmentary, and nearly always heavily “slanted” nature of the original materials the academic historian or the novelist has to work with regarding Simon de Montfort and those close to him, much must be interpreted and guessed at, though the resulting works may be taken by readers as having the authority of truth. My aim has been to be open about the nature of the original material (see my Author Prefaces and Historical Context sections) and to deliberately rethink a positive view of Simon de Montfort and see where it might lead. This is an exploration and I welcome others to take part in it in a spirit of mutual respect and inquiry.





        On 3/7/2013 9:03 PM, Karen Clark wrote:
        Katherine, firstly, we've never met, shared lunch or come to any kind of understanding about each other. I think you're mixing me up with someone else. And I don't believe I mentioned any names (including yours) when I talked about writers 'ganging up' on reviewers. There are plenty of examples, though, and they're not hard to find.

        All I can say again is that the work of writers is reviewed. Someone who read your book reviewed it. That you're not happy with this review is clear. However, reviews are rarely written with the book's author in mind. They're there for the benefit of potential readers. If someone sees Kathryn Warner's review of Montfort and  decides against buying your book, that's their right. If they read the review and decide to buy your book, that's their right as well. Getting exercised over a review is not only pointless but usually turns out to be counterproductive. Unless you can prove libel against you, personally, attempting any kind of legal action is doomed to fail and will, likely, end in humiliation for whoever chooses to bring it. This isn't a threat of any kind (I have no personal wish to see anyone humiliated) it's an observation. When it comes to your statement about an 'organised effort' by 'a known group' of 'bullies', my understanding is that questions were asked of you about your research (which you chose not to answer) at about the same time you were saying some very harsh things about a writer with a similar name to yours. What you need to understand is this: If you feel you are entitled to refer to another writer's work as 'churned out trash' or 'bodice rippers' or whatever, you must be prepared to take on the chin criticism of your own work. It isn't a one-way street.

        I've got involved in this because I feel very strongly that writers need to leave the reader review process alone. I still think writers should leave the review process alone. That is advice I will continue to give and a position I will stand by most firmly. It never turns out well for the writer. Moving the conversation from Amazon (or Goodreads) to a blog is an excellent idea. If a writer wants to discuss a review, then that's the place it should be done. I'd very strongly advise writers who do this to publish every comment in such a discussion, unless they're abusive.

        While I can't be described exactly as 'a little ray of sunshine', I rarely develop personal animosity towards people. I try to stay focused on what's being said, not on attacking the person saying it. When I see that someone is attempting to give me good advice (leave the reader review process alone, for example) I don't tend to take it as a personal attack. Good advice might feel a bit like that at times, especially when you're already upset or distressed about something, but it still remains good advice. Threatening the person who gives this advice with legal action (as Lloyd has) baffles me. It's like slapping the person who picks up a dropped wallet and hands it back.


        From: Katherine Ashe <kateashe@...>
        Reply-To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2013 18:06:42 -0500
        To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews


        We've met and shared lunch and I was of the impression that we shared some understanding of each other's character as well. I have never ganged up on any reviewer. In fact I never post anything on Amazon, nor do I hold against the normal negative review of a reader who doesn't like my book or prefers someone else's. I certainly have never "ganged up" on anyone.

        When a reviewer, "Kathryn" produced a spate of comments that reveal by their very number and suddenness not the normal rate of response of actual readers of my books but an oganized attempt to overwhelm the positive reviews of my book through the use of "most helpful review" entries, I notified Amazon that this appeared to be an organized effort on the part of a known group that has been bullying me about Montfort off an on since June of 2010.

        Amazon's repeated response was to demand that I ask others to enter comments, votes on "most helpful review" and "did this comment add to the discussion." repesatedly I refused to do so, telling my contacts at amazon that I considered this thoroughly inappropriate.. Repeated demands from Amazon resulted in my being advised that if I did not comply with what they said Amazon would have a position of saying I refused to do as they advised and therefore they would take no action. So, here on IAG and at my Facebook site I complied with Amazon's specific demands. I well understand why no one would choose to expose themselves and suffer the retaliation that Lloyd has endured.

        And I deeply regret that you and Lloyd have become involved in a dispute over this issue. My slowness in responding is because I've been almost totally off line due to my own ill health and my attendance upon my closest friend who is dying.

        The problem lies with Amazon and other sites which have not yet understood the nature of group on-line bullying and seem, through their ill thought policies, to be exacerbating it.

        I do hope peace may be restored among authors and their readers, and especially between yourself, Lloyd, myself and everyone else who has been effected by this.
        Katherine Ashe

        On 3/2/2013 10:55 PM, Karen Clark wrote:

        There have been far too many stories like this lately. Writers ganging up on reviewers and attacking them, calling them names, suggesting they need therapy, questioning their intelligence/reading ability/age/right to express an opinion/hygiene/mental health/&c. Other reviewers are so sick of it that some of them have turned into 'AK's. For at least the third time, I'm going to say her behaviour was no better than yours. That doesn't justify you phoning her work place and trying to get her fired. If an aspiring writer were to ask me for one piece of advice, I'd give them this: Don't go to Amazon/Goodreads, on your own behalf or a friend's, in order to shout down a review. It always ends in tears. 


        From: Lloyd Lofthouse <lflwriter@...>
        Reply-To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 19:41:02 -0800 (PST)
        To: <IAG-members@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [IAG-members] Re: battle at Amazon reviews


        Pat said, "Second, any time a writer gets into a war with a reviewer, there are going to be people who will construe it as sour grapes on the writer's part."

        In this case, I never heard from the reviewer of the review I left a comment for.  The actual person that wrote that review never was part of this conversation unless she writes under more than one Amazon identity so she can post more reviews and comments under assumed names---and I've read that there are people that do that.  That sign up for more than one account and write under assumed names.

        And this issue didn't start for about twenty-five days after I left my comment, before a person that I don't think ever read the book that was reviewed criticized me for my opinion of that review.  In a few days the numbers of critics of my opinion  swelled to four and none of them were the original person that wrote the review in question.

        In fact, as far as we know, that reviewer may never have checked the box to be notified if anyone commented on her review and may never be back. I often leave reviews without checking that box.  It is possible that some of the reviews I wrote have been criticized and I may never know.

        So, in reality, I'm the reviewer that is under attack by the four people that left comments criticizing me for my review of a review because that is what it was. I wrote a review of a review and following your logic, I'm the injured party here.

        Lloyd Lofthouse

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