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What It Means to Be a Fan

funny cat pictures & lolcats - My duhpreshun Let me show you it.

There’s been a backlash of sorts on some authors’ blogs around the internet due to the exposing of Cassie Edwards’ borrowing. I’ll be posting on Tuesday about some thoughts about the definition of plagiarism as it could be defined in the romance writing and read community, but today, in lieu of a ebook post, I thought I would ruminate a bit on the meaning of a fan. Here’s what I thought the fan/fangirl definitions were:

Fan - someone who appreciates, enjoys, and is positive about either an author and/or her work. Within the fan definition, there are varying degrees of fandom.

Fangirl - zealots, irrational in their devotion to an author. A person who has so personalized his or her relationship with the author that s/he becomes one with the author and presents herself/himself as the author’s voice throughout the internet.

Now it appears that fangirl is being used as a weapon, not against people who are fetishizing a particular author, but for those of us who take personally what we see dismissals of issues importance to the reputation of romance.

One of the barbs being shot out is by author Deborah Smith who used her Amazon blog to post a diatribe against Nora Roberts for standing up against plagiarism. In the post, she stated that she wondered whether she should post publicly “because the last thing I want is to be eviscerated by Nora Roberts’ avid fangirls.”

I’m not really going to go into what I think of Smith’s post. I posted my thoughts at Karen Scott’s blog. What I am exploring is the meaning of “fangirl.” I don’t know what that means anymore. I thought I did. A couple summers ago, I wrote a tongue in cheek post about traits of a fangirl, but I think its being expanded to encompass anyone who agrees with someone else. I.e., if I agree with a stance of Nora Roberts, then I must be her fangirl. Anyone who paid attention to the costume controversy of 2007 would know that I disagreed with Roberts on her stance on the issue.

Robin and I agree on many a things but I swear we almost came to blows during a telephone conversation regarding the construct of Happily Ever After in romance. I might have even called her a name or two. I wasn’t at my best in that discussion. (I’m very passionate about my devotion to the HEA).

I’m sure, though, that there are some that would peg me as a Nora Roberts or even a Robin/Janet fangirl. But I can’t be if, by definition, that means that I agree with every proclamation that flows forth from their fingers or mouth.

I wonder, too, if there are authors who perceive true fans to be that way. In Jennifer Crusie’s comments on the SBTB subject, she mentions two “non fans” of hers.

I just figured that was being covered elsewhere and what struck me was this perfect storm of Hillary Clinton, Cassie Edwards, and a couple of my non-fans taking another shot at me in the comments of the other site about that letter blog I did awhile back. They all converged together and I had a Thought. So I expressed it.

Argh Ink, Jenny on January 10th, 2008 at 12:45 pm.

I am fairly sure that she was referring to Robin and I since we were the ones questioning her comment at SBTB “Did Cassie Edwards run over your dog” and we were about the only ones who questioned her posting a reader’s email and mocking it.

Robin penned a B+ review of Agnes and the Hitman and I have repeatedly said that Welcome to Temptation is one of my favorite contemporary romances written. Does that make us two ‘non fans’? I like to think of myself as a fan of Crusie’s writing. I’ve bought all her books, even the hard to find and expensive Sizzle. I’ve even undertaken the cost to buy the ebook versions of her Harlequins when they were re-released. There are certain aspects of Crusie’s persona that I am also a fan of and some that I am not. Does that make me a fan or a non fan? Fan girl or hater?

To be a good fan, do I have to support everything that an author does to be considered a “true” fan or a “real” fan? If I stand up in support of an author, am I automatically a fangirl? Does it get stripped away once I disagree with an author? If I am considered a fangirl, does my opinion have no value? If I am not a fangirl, does my opinion have no value? Can I be a fan and still be critical? Are we fans of the writing or the person and if it is the person, what do we really know about the author that makes it possible for us to be a fan?

I believe that we as a romance community would be better if we moved away from the fan culture, the personalization of the author/reader relationship because the relationship that we readers have is truly with the book. The only real connection the author has with a reader is through the words and so it seems that we readers are projecting our feelings of the writing onto the author, both positive and negative.

If we are just “fans” of the work and not the “person” why would what we know about a person affect our feelings toward their work? Deborah Smith is one of my favorite authors and by that I mean, I love her writing. I’ve always thought she had the GIFT. But now I feel battered and disillusioned so my feelings for her work must be inextricably tied up in my feelings for her public persona else why would I feel like I can’t read her anymore?

Maybe we think that because the writing resonates so strongly that we think if we met the author of writing that we loved, we would be BFF. Conversely, if someone’s writing doesn’t connect, we assume we could never have anything in common. So when met with the evidence that the author isn’t anything we thought we knew, we feel betrayed in some way, disappointed. And that sometimes the disappointment can become so sharp that the emotional string that connected the writing and the reader frays to the point that it breaks.

I know I am not making much sense but that is primarily because I haven’t worked it out for myself. What do you all think about the meaning of the word “fan” and how it plays within our community versus how it should play. Can you be a “true” fan and still disagree and make that disagreement known? Does the “I got your back” apply to authors as well as authors’ works? At what point should we (as opposed to do we) allow an author’s online persona affect our reading?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

97 Comments

  1. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 06:18:02

    I’ll admit to being a Suzanne Brockmann fangrrrl, because I have met her, repeatedly, consider her a friend, and will defend her as a person from any and all comers, because she is full of win and awesome as a person. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t think and express the thought that her last few books before All Through the Night were not her best romances, that she’s slipping over into suspense main plot, romantic sub-plot territory now and then and that I’m disappointed with that. Criticizing her writing does not, IMO, mean that I criticize her as a person.

    I think Nora is The Most Amazing Role Model when it comes to class and dignity and is the Platonic ideal of ambassadors for the romance genre. And I’ll admit that Honest Illusions and Birthright are two of my favoritest books. But I’ll also say that I pretty much can’t stand the characters of some of her categories who seem to drink and smoke their way through their stories and seem hard and cynical even in their HEA. Saying that does not negate my opinion of her as a person as she has presented herself on the sites and blogs that we both frequent.

    People are strange, sometimes. They really are. And after that profound thought, it’s back to bed for me, if my three-month-old will let me in.

  2. Bernita
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 06:29:47

    Fangirl in some cases seems to require a deification of a writer (goddess)and an obligation to park one’s brains at the door of the shrine in the cultic style.
    Failure in any form to adhere to opinions issued from the inner sanctum may cause one to be damned as an apostate/schismatic/ heretic by true believers, if not by the “goddess” herself.

  3. Karen Scott
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 07:02:13

    At what point should we (as opposed to do we) allow an author's online persona affect our reading?

    This point will be different for many people, but I genrally have a low tolerance for fucktards, so it’s a hard question for me to answer.

    I also think that it depends on your previous ‘book-reading’ relationship with the author in question. If you love his/her work, then it’s easier to excuse him/her for their stupidity or ignorance. However, if you’re not familiar with any of their books, or have perhaps only read their one best-seller that was published ten million years ago, then their fucktardiness will only ensure that you avoid their works in the future.

    We are influenced everyday by stuff that we see, read, and hear, but we still have the ultimate choice when it comes to deciding whether to actually believe these things or not. Let’s face it, there are still people out there who believe that O.J. Simpson didn’t kill those two people.

    I think this is where the issue of denial comes in.

  4. GrowlyCub
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 08:01:08

    I know I’m innocent because until this CE brouhaha I had never even come across a lot of the terminology (fangirl, squee, still can’t figure out what w00t means, grin); I guess it’s obvious I didn’t read very many blogs where that terminology came up a lot. Thanks for the education, SBTB and DA! :)

    However, the question of reading pleasure and knowing the author has come into play for me several times over my reading career.

    For a long time now, I’ve thought that the internet has been a double edged sword for reader author relations.

    As a fan, it’s fabulous when you get to ‘know’ your author, get an insight in how s/he constructs their stories, where the inspiration comes from, maybe even get mentioned in the acknowledgments for contributing, get signed books, get ARCs, etc.

    On the other hand, you might just learn things that aren’t so complimentary to your author.

    Point in case for me are Catherine Coulter and Robert J Sawyer. I stopped reading Coulter when she basically said in an interview that now that she has the million dollar home that romance reader money bought her, she didn’t give a damn whether they liked her going into suspense and away from romance. I have not read a single book by her since. Many people have argued that she can do what she wants and I agree, but she didn’t need to stick it to romance readers in that manner and I do not reward this kind of attitude with my hard-earned cash.

    I gave up on Sawyer after being a member of his mailing list for 2 or 3 years. He just exposed himself as a terrible know-it-all and of a vanity unparalleled. So, even though I like his writing, his personality has gotten in the way of my enjoyment of his books.

    I have enjoyed Deborah Smith’s many books, but I will not read her any longer. I cannot help but think of her incredibly ignorant attitude in this plagiarism matter as exposed by her comment on DA. I haven’t even seen the Amazon entry yet!

    I haven’t read Crusie in years either so she won’t be a loss for me, but she’s on the authors I won’t read in the future due to her attitude as well.

    I know some people will think that according to this new nebulous definition I must be a Nora fangrrl. They would be wrong. Her books haven’t done it for me for a very long time and besides the occasional J.D. Robb I haven’t read her in years.

    I do, however, definitely like the way she’s been interacting with both her fans and detractors and the public in this matter. Many of my friends have bought books of hers specifically due to the way she’s handled herself during this situation, even if they hadn’t read her in a while.

    The other thing that complicates matters for me is that I’m honest to a fault (tactless, as described by some, grin) and here lately I’ve read some books by authors I consider friends that were just not good (either due to my personal taste regarding the subject matter or the writing wasn’t up to par).

    As a reviewer, I now have to decide between my like for the person and my dislike for the work. My evil twin says, ‘write the review as you would if they weren’t your friends,’ but the good twin says, ‘temper the blow’… In this instance, I wish that I didn’t know the authors, because whatever I do, I’ll always wonder whether my relationship with them has influenced my public remarks on their books.

    Not sure I’m very coherent here, but it’s not yet 7am on a Sunday, so I’m giving myself a pass.

  5. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 08:18:27

    I believe that we as a romance community would be better if we moved away from the fan culture, the personalization of the author/reader relationship because the relationship that we readers have is truly with the book. The only real connection the author has with a reader is through the words and so it seems that we readers are projecting our feelings of the writing onto the author, both positive and negative.

    If we are just “fans” of the work and not the “person” why would what we know about a person affect our feelings toward their work?

    I agree that the “the relationship that we readers have is truly with the book” but the author does, obviously, have some control over the contents of her books. Authors sometimes talk about “bleeding onto the page” and it’s true that sometimes one can spot issues/themes in an author’s work which are fairly obviously linked to aspects of that author’s life. To take the example of Suzanne Brockmann, mentioned by Sarah above, Brockmann’s personal views on homosexuality are quite apparent in some of her novels. Clearly that’s a good thing if you agree with Brockmann’s stance, but it would be difficult to argue that her views have had no influence on her work.

    So there is a connection between the author and the work, and sometimes the author’s public statements can suddenly make certain things more obvious for a reader. Readers can often get caught up in a story and enjoy it even if there are bits they’d rather gloss over or which they interpret in a certain way because they want to be able to enjoy the novel. I’ve enjoyed lots of Heyer’s novels, but once I’d read the ones in which her snobbery and racism come through most clearly, it did make it more difficult to go back and enjoy the others in which those prejudices were less obvious (and therefore easier to ignore). In the same way, some comments made by authors might illuminate the world-view of the characters in their novels and force the reader to re-examine her/his understanding of those texts. In a sense it’s a bit similar to the way in which some people say that literary criticism can spoil a book for them. Being forced to look at some issues in a work more closely, particularly if they’re things you’d rather weren’t there, can spoil your enjoyment of a book. The converse is also true, because if you find something to admire in the author’s comments, or as a result of literary criticism, it may mean that you then see those positive qualities when you read the novels.

    But that’s still at the level of the author’s ideas and ideals. Assuming that an author will live up to their ideals, and has always lived up to them, would be expecting too much of any author. Authors are human, and they’ll inevitably have doubts, make mistakes and say things they shouldn’t. I’d only let an author’s comments affect my enjoyment of the book if there was some direct link between the reason for the author’s bad behaviour and their underlying ideals/attitudes which, in some way, seep through into their books.

    As for buying the books (which is different from reading them, because one can read books without buying them new) if I knew that the author was using the profits from the book to fund some cause I felt was immoral, that might very well make me think twice about buying the book new.

  6. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 08:52:50

    To be a good fan, do I have to support everything that an author does to be considered a “true” fan or a “real” fan?

    NO

    If I stand up in support of an author, am I automatically a fangirl?

    NO

    Does it get stripped away once I disagree with an author?

    NO

    Oh… were those rhetorical? ;-)

    I’ve definitely see the ‘rabid fangirl’ type who all but threaten bodily harm on somebody voicing anything less than a glowing opinion about ‘their’ author. If it gets to the point that this reader can no longer get the fact that a person has the right to totally hate a book regardless of who wrote it we’re approaching rabid fangirl territory. Man, some of the behavior I saw on LKH’s boards when I still lurked there… can we say… SCARY?

    But a person can adore a writer, adore their books, their online personality and still manage to separate themselves from that adoration. Just like you can respect and like a person’s online presence and not care for their books. And you can LOVE a person’s books, but not care for the person.

    I’ve said before there are two authors I’d go fangirl over…Nora Roberts is definitely one. Lynn Viehl/SL Viehl/PBW is the other. I love their writing. I totally respect the women. But that doesn’t render me incapable of individual thought. I’m still capable of having an opinion that differs from their opinion.

    Too often, when you’re agreeing with somebody like NR, there are going to be people who say it’s just because of the person is and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Are there readers who would merrily follow ‘their’ authors off a bridge and into a freezing lake if the author implied it was a good idea? Yep.

    But not every fan is a lemming. Not every reader or author that admires another author, respects their opinions, and often agrees with them is a lemming. Implying otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of every reader (or writer) who has considered herself a ‘fan’ at some point in her life.

  7. Kristie(J)
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 09:05:38

    It is becoming blurred isn’t it? And Ms. Smith’s declaration quote

    the last thing I want is to be eviscerated by Nora Roberts’ avid fangirls

    is truly insulting. I posted at Karen’s that I wasn’t a fangirl of Nora Roberts, but I am a fan, both of her writing and of her personally. To me there is a difference. A fangirl will blindly defend “her” author – no matter what ridiculous things ‘her' author might say. A fangirl will write insulting comments on a blog when the blogger in question posts something that may be unflattering or gives a bad review of the authors work. Fangirls will go on Amazon and bombard the review board with praise for the author. A fangirl becomes so invested in an author she can't really see the forest for the trees. A fangirl will squee when a character makes an appearance on a bulletin board. A fangirl is out of control. That's my idea on a fangirl.
    But then later in Karen's post a couple of people who don't fit into my idea of what a fangirl is, declared themselves fangirls of Nora's. That's when I start getting confused and the line becomes blurry.
    As far as Deborah Smith – I haven’t read her but I’ve wanted to. The reviews of her books are always very positive. But now – I don’t think so. If she had merely disagreed, I would have been disappointed but still objective enough to disregard the fact that we hold opposing viewpoints. But she did more than that. She crossed a line I have in my mind as to what I will accept in author behaviour and what I won’t.

  8. (Jān)
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 09:14:59

    Being a fan of a writer means to me admiring her works. It’s different than being a fan of a person, though one can be both. And too disliking one doesn’t mean you have to dislike the other.

    I don’t see anything wrong with fandom. I think that women (and men) expressing their love for anything is good and healthy and often fun. But all things in moderation. When taken too far, it becomes a problem.

    I think that’s what they’re using the term fangirl to mean. Fangirl from my experience comes from TV/anime slash communities, and describes one devoted to the series in question. It’s not always a bad thing, and is often used affectionately among fans when someone gets excited about something only other fans of the series will understand. But outsiders will use it as a term meaning obsession, the bad side of devotion.

    I think when it comes to attacking others who disagree is when it crosses the line. But that doesn’t have to do with fandom. That just has to do with being human and wanting to defend what’s important to you. There are those who fight about religion and politics and football teams with as much fervor. Everyone just needs to learn a little self control. Fans who have it are capable of discussing things without discussions turning ugly. Or as one friend put it, it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable. People just need to keep that in mind.

  9. ilona andrews
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 09:40:22

    Breaking my internet vacation to post this.

    As a writer, I don’t want fangirls.

    Fan to me is a person who read the book, liked it, and posted a review/told me/emailed me about it. I do my best to reply to all such emails.

    Fangirl is someone extremely dangerous to my career as a writer and to my sanity.

    To me this directly leads into the somewhat larger problem of author “brand.” I’m a baby writer. I have a blog, which I started before I was published. I pretty much gave up on it. Anything I say, even on my not-so-secret personal journal, is viewed as representing “the brand” of my writer name. Here is the list of what I can’t do anymore:

    1) Can’t link to any negative review of my work. I have a couple of fangirls who will go and bomb it and then I have to go an apologize and explain that no, they don’t speak for me.

    2) Can’t express any negative opinion of the other author’s works. Her/his fangirls will come to my blog and create a flamewar, which will consume enormous amount of time and during which my conduct will be examined with a magnifying glass. (And then the author in question will be deeply hurt and will not speak to me again.)

    3) Can’t express any critical opinion on any hot topic including but not limited to latest explosion in Romancelandia, latest weirdness out of SFWA, feminism, etc, or I will have a flamewar on my hands again.

    4) Can’t express being depressed or tired, or I will get a slew of emails worrying about the next book’s progress.

    Basically I can have an opinion but I can’t really express it in public. It’s not that I’m afraid or I can’t back it up. It just takes so much time to fight yourself free of the ensuing bru-ha-ha and it leaves you totally exhausted.

    If I post an account of something stupid in BN, I will have a crowd to booksellers bombing my books on amazon with “author hates booksellers” tags (actually happened to one of my friends.)

    If I say that I believe a particular author’s work is lackluster, I will be taken to task by that author’s editor (actually happened to me.)

    Here is how ridiculous it is: an author was interviewed by one of the authors in a group promo blog I’m involved in. His cover featured a man who resembles Constantine from American Idol. He stated that he wasn’t thrilled about that, but really he didn’t have much input on the cover art. We got bombed with emails and posts from Constantine fangirls promising they will never ever ever buy his book and he is the worst person ever.

    I don’t want to make it sound as if all writers are victims. There are some unpleasant authors out there and there are topics on which I will fight them to the death: plagiarism, racism, meanness, etc. But there are a lot of authors who end up following the “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” rule and I have to say fan presence often supports the wisdom of this motto.

    I firmly believe that this culture is unhealthy for everyone involved. I wish we could somehow step away from that and afford each other a bit of personal space, but I have my doubts that it will happen.

    Life would be a lot easier if I had no internet presence :P. But that’s not an option because as a baby writer, you’re pushed to promote yourself whichever way you can and the net is the cheapest place to do it.

    Back to vacation now.

  10. Jackie L.
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 09:43:58

    I read the Amazon post by Deb Smith, and found it, frankly, amazing. She was concerned that if she posted a personal attack against Nora Roberts (and it was personal, even through my lit crit not fangirl glasses), that Nora’s fans might be upset. Ok, gigantic duh? Wouldn’t it have been better to write that in her journal or in a note to her BFF?

    But as a fan, I don’t care if my favorite authors have, maybe not feet of clay, but let’s say, sandy shoes sometimes.

    Yeah, Georgette Heyer was a product of her times and upbringing. She was a total snob. And had she ever met me, a rabid fan, her nose would have had an aristocratic upturn immediately. Anyone further from a British aristocrat than I would be hard to find.

    And much as I love Nora’s writing, one of her books p*ssed me off totally. But one out of 50 or 60 that I’ve read? Pretty good batting average, and without steroids.

    The whole CE thingy is different. In my mind’s eye, I see her copying verbatim some interesting native tribal lore and then building her love story around it. Not learning about native lore, internalizing it, and adding it to the story in a seamless way.

    Sandra Schwab seems to think we want historical writers to document all their research. Not at all. I hated Jasper Fforde’s fr*cking footnoter phone after the second book I think. But I still loved the books and I am a fan. Learning from a romance writer that cowboys in the 1880′s wore longhandles and not boxers was just fun. Didn’t need a footnote, just added authenticity to the book.

    As a physician, I get more and nicer thank-yous from people for completing their paperwork correctly than I do for diagnosing their cancer early enough for a cure.

    So I guess in my world, I don’t expect people to think logically. I expect them to be emotional. I’m not surprised when they don’t get it.
    One of my patients just forgave me for saving his life six years ago. And only because his minister told him he had to. I bullied him into having the life-saving surgery. P*ssed him off good, I did. But, me, I was grateful he was still around to be p*ssed.

    Seems to me, writers write books for readers to enjoy, but some of them get upset if we enjoy them too much, or too little. I guess each writer has a comfort zone for how much reader appreciation is just right. So the ex-romance writers who backlash against their fans, the folks who get mad because Nora is popular and successful, etc, etc, just seems like folks to me. All of us are human and some of us are more human than others. (Paraphrasing Dame Mary Stewart–yeah, I’m a fan.)

  11. Jackie L.
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:00:54

    I wrote a long heartfelt and undoubtedly boring post which got eaten. Good thing, most likely.

    I have an idea. (Dangerous, I know.) In the Trek World (Star Trek, the original one way back when) they classify fans as Trekkies (people who learn Klingon–at least as useful as studying Latin or ancient Aramaic–and who go to Cons in Spock ears), Trek maniacs–no definition needed, but would defend the series from even the most mild and reasonable of criticism and Trekkers. Trekkers are seriously devoted to the series, but don’t act the fool about it. My hubby is a trekker. He can tell which episode it is 30 years later by the color of Kirk’s shirt. I can only remember the Tribbles episode clearly.

    Ok, so I propose in romancelandia, three levels of fandom–fans, those who appreciate the author and the author’s work in a semi-restrained fashion. Romaniacs or RFG–defend the author to the author’s death if need be. And fan-nies, fans who occasionally forget to take off the Spock ears in public.

  12. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:08:32

    Ok, so I propose in romancelandia, three levels of fandom-fans, those who appreciate the author and the author's work in a semi-restrained fashion. Romaniacs or RFG-defend the author to the author's death if need be. And fan-nies, fans who occasionally forget to take off the Spock ears in public.

    Heh. Good idea. Lets do a classification system. :)

  13. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:36:21

    ~Or as one friend put it, it's possible to disagree without being disagreeable.~

    This is the nutshell for me.

    I don’t mind heat in debates or disagreements. I don’t mind snark.

    I believe an author can disagree with a reader, a reader with an author, an author with an author, a reader with a reader.

    But I don’t believe ANYONE can tell me what I can or can’t, should or shouldn’t do. Where I should post, what I can say. I’m a big girl and do what I choose to do.

    I guess I haven’t hit the blogs or sites where my ‘fangirls’ eviscerate others who didn’t care for one of my books, or my whole body of work. They may exist, but I haven’t stumbled on them.

    In a perfect world we wouldn’t associate an author’s poor behavior with her books. I’m not perfect, and I can fall into this. There are authors I don’t read because I’ve witnessed what I felt was really awful behavior–witnessed in real life–and on the internet. But it has to be really over-the-top, usually repetitive awful behavior. Not disagreement, even over something I feel strongly about.

    In my reading experience, the writer takes me on a journey. There are some people I just don’t want to travel with.

  14. Mireya
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:37:12

    This whole “labeling” BS is what has kept me away from every single discussion going on. I knew that if I opened my mouth, I would be labeled as fan or fangirl of so and so. I simply didn’t see the point. I have never read a Nora Roberts book. Not the style I fancy in my reading material. This also applies to Jennifer Crusie. Mind you, my friends love them… I just can’t get into their respective styles. As to Deborah Smith, never heard of the woman until I read that rather ignorant and arrogant diatribe she posted and promptly removed from Amazon.

    Either way, thanks for bringing this issue up. I am sure I am not the only reader that has chosen to stay on the sidelines, for fear of being accused of being a fangirl or being labeled with whatever other gross generalization of the day is being brandished about.

  15. Jennifer Estep
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:41:18

    Interesting post, although I don’t agree with your definition of “fangirl.”

    To me, a fangirl is someone who is keenly interested in something and has a breadth of knowledge/experience about it, whether it’s books or movies or whatever. I often refer to myself as a fangirl of fantasy literature/culture because I enjoy writing/reading/watching it, and I know a lot about the various aspects of it.

    The words “fangirl” and “fanboy” have really taken on negative conotations in society in general, and it makes me sad. Tell someone you’re a fangirl, and a lot of people assume that you know how to speak Klingon. When did it become a crime to be interested in and passionate about something? Why does that make people geeks or nerds or whatever?

    I understand your point, but maybe “fanatical” would be a better word to describe your idea. Or “zealot.”

    On a side note, one of my comic books has a working title of “Fangirl.”

    Being a self-proclaimed fangirl, can I still discuss books/authors/whatever intelligently and rationally? Yes.

    Will I defend an author no matter what she writes or does? No. If a book sucks, it sucks. If someone does something stupid, she’s done something stupid.

    Does not defending someone make me a bad fan or fangirl or whatever? No. Everyone, including me, is entitled to their own opinion, good, bad, or indifferent.

    Also, when you say “I'll be posting on Tuesday about some thoughts about the definition of plagiarism as it could be defined in the romance writing and read community” … why should the definition of plagarism be different for us than for anyone else?

    Plagarism is plagarism. Enough said.

  16. azteclady
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:42:03

    You know, I think I’m more likely to become a fangrrrrrl of a writer who can, himself*, separate his* writing from his* identity as a person.

    –Someone who understands that you can like some of what he* writes and dislike something else he* writes.

    –Someone who can say (and mean it!), “If you didn’t like this book/character/plotline, I failed you as a writer.”

    –Someone who won’t tell you that if you didn’t like a particular plotline in one of his* books, for example, then it’s because you, the reader, aren’t smart enough to understand the writing. (Or any variation of condescending, patronizing behaviour thereof.)

    –Someone who doesn’t expect all of his* readers to agree with every pronouncement he* makes, or have the same point of view he* does in all matters under the sun.

    I’ve been known to try new-to-me writers because of their online behaviour. In some cases, I have liked their books, in others not so much. Still, I remain a fan of their online presence, because they invest it with large helpings of class.

    I’ve been lucky–probably because I’m not as widely read as many here–in that so far I haven’t ‘dropped’ any beloved author because of how he* behaves in public. On the flip side, there are new-to-me writers whose books I won’t read because of their online behaviour. What can I say? Limited time + limited budget + limited tolerance for general asshatness (is that a word?) = not wasting energy on those I perceive to be idjits.

    *he/she; himself/herself; his/her; etc.

  17. Sunny Lyn
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:49:54

    hellifiknow…for years I’ve thought I was fickle, because the only person/thing I’ve commmitted to (and even then, not 100-do-or-die%) was me. I vote split ticket in elections if I don’t like all of my party’s choices. I read whatever a favorite author gets published then dismiss her if a couple of books later I thinks she stinks.

    I rather like your take on fan and fangirl. Think I’d have to call myself a fan, though, because the ‘fangirl’ scenario just seems not only intrusive but…dismissive, of myself. I just can’t lose sight of me as I worship someone. – lol

    Selfish to the core, I guess.

  18. azteclady
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 10:54:59

    Jennifer Estep said,

    Plagarism is plagarism. Enough said.

    Ms Estep, one would like to think so, but if you spend some time playing “follow the link trail” you’ll see that there are a few writers (and plenty of readers, it seems) who don’t know what plagiarism is.

    (Yes, it’s sunday morning and I’m blog hopping. At least by now I have had coffee.)

  19. cecilia
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:00:35

    This is an interesting topic – the Deborah Smith comment about being eviscerated by avid fangirls also offended me. It’s one of those remarks that seems designed to completely silence all disagreement, because if you disagree, by definition, you must be this irrational childish creature. When I think of how often women’s voices have been dismissed through labels such as “hysterical”, I am surprised (and outraged) that we’re back to that.

    The other piece of this that has been really bugging me is that while there were a few comments made during CE Week that were disparaging of CE’s work, by far the majority of comments struck me as being well-reasoned. Same with the discussion of Hillary Clinton. However, CE’s defenders treat all comments as being part of a coordinated savaging by a gang of bullies with nothing better to do. It really burns my butt that a couple of people, using rhetoric that depends on manipulating a purely emotional response, dismiss all these people who carefully spelled out their thinking as being the mere snarling of rabid dogs. (or bitches, I guess).

    It’s hard to separate that attitude from the works produced by the person with that attitude. It’s hard not to have a “yeah, you know, I think you’re entitled to that opinion, but I don’t want to spend time with your brain anymore” response. And it works in reverse – when authors say things that make a lot of sense, or reflect values that are meaningful to you, it’s more likely you’ll want to read their creative works. This goes for people I’ve already read, and a number of writers who’ve been new to me in the past months that I’ve been reading DA and SB.

  20. Meljean
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 11:16:54

    I think I have a different take on “fangirl” — I’ve always thought of a fangirl as (for example) the comic book reader who also buys action figures (or Wonder Woman Underoos)…taking their habit into the next step. And adding the girl part was actually kind of a feminist statement, as in: these are for girls, too. Like Jennifer Estep said, it has a mostly positive connotation in my mind. A fangirl, to me, isn’t someone who has lost their own voice (or who uses it in defense of an author/creator, no matter what!!!!!!111) It’s possible to have a discussion with them, because at the heart of it, they’re fans of the *work* and, even if they admire the creator or characters, don’t wrap up their identity in them.

    Rabid fangirls are something else, though (and in my mind are closer to the fangirl definition above) — that’s when the author/creator can do no wrong, and any dissenting opinion must be silenced, even if the only way to do it is by yelling and getting all of their friends. They kind of scare me.

    I think fangirls are great for the romance genre. Rabid fangirls not so much, and in the end, they rarely help the author they’re supporting.

  21. snarkhunter
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:02:36

    Someone who can say (and mean it!), “If you didn't like this book/character/plotline, I failed you as a writer.”

    See, I think that’s actually a dangerous position. It implies that writers are required to meet their fans’ expectations in terms of plot/character development/whatever. But which fans? I think being able to say that a fan’s discontent = the writer’s failure is one step closer to shutting down creative license.

    I think I’m reacting to this as a Harry Potter fangirl (yes, I own that term) after seeing the repeated absolutely insane attacks on Rowling from disgruntled rabid Harry/Hermione ‘shippers, who really, truly believe that Rowling betrayed them, the evil H0R! She caved in to pressure from those ev0l R/H ‘shippers and undermined her own serieshowdareshewepaidhermoneyforthis!!

    I think, as fans, it is our duty to separate the writer from his/her text. If he/she writes a book we don’t like, is that the writer’s fault? (Sometimes it is, but not usually.) Do I think Connie Willis failed as a writer because I devoutly wish I’d never read Passage? No. She didn’t fail as a writer because that book didn’t appeal to me. My taste diverged at that point.

  22. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:19:12

    ~Someone who can say (and mean it!), “If you didn't like this book/character/plotline, I failed you as a writer.”~

    I don’t think this equatesI’m required to meet every reader’s expectations–or any specific reader’s. The book failed that reader. Doesn’t mean I’m going to try to conceive and execute the next one to please that reader. But I can accept that for this reader, this book failed her expectations or wants or level of enjoyment.

    And I’d also know that same book succeeded with another reader for, very likely, the exact reasons it failed this one.

    Question:

    Does owning Buffy and Spike action figures make me a fangirl? They were gifts! (and I love them so.)

  23. anu
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:23:05

    As a further blurring or expanding of the term “fangirl,” consider that increasingly, people are slammed for being fangirls of websites or blogs. Part of what I’ve seen over the last couple years is that posters are conflated with the sites/blogs on which they post. Like authors of stories, the MeanGirls present a point of view, and fans who post on their sites or support the POV are looked upon as RFGs, and therefore, easy to dismiss.

  24. Jade
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:28:08

    Whatever the official definition, I’ve always aspired to be a fangirl. In my mind, I wanted to feel that slavish devotion and acceptance of an author’s entire body of work…alas, it was not to be. After years, many years, of romance reading, I’ve found that I’m more a fangirl of certain books. There are books by some authors that I’ve read, re-read, and will re-read again. However, that same author could have books that I’ve opened the front door and hurled it out onto the street. I understand that some authors have a moment of excellence followed by other moments of not-so-much-excellence. That’s why I love the books, not the authors.

    As far as Nora goes, I used to read her back in the day, but I feel a little as if my tastes have changed. However, as a teacher, I feel the woman is seriously a role model to hold up. And that’s truly something extraordinary in this ambiguous day and age. Clearly she has things that she stands up for and she speaks emphatically and eloquently for her causes. Good on ya, Ms. Roberts, call me if you ever want to chat with middle schoolers about plagiarism.

    With regards to some of the other players, I felt that Jenny Crusie was a little too rash in her comments at SBTB. As a public figure, she should’ve shown a little restraint before posting her snarky comments. I’m all for snark, I live for it, but when you’re in the public eye-whether you like it or not-you’ll be held accountable for your actions. IMO, Ms. Crusie should’ve realized that. Will I read her again? Uhm, probably not, but I really wasn’t much of a fan to begin with.

    However, I will read her sidekick Lani again. Which is really ironic because I felt that Lani’s comments defending Jenny bordered on fangirlish and that was a little weird, but hey, that’s just my take. I do like her writing and I’ll be back for more Lani.

    And Deborah Smith? What’s with that? She’s making Nora fans out to be on par with L. Ron Hubbard’s. What does she think’s gonna happen? Hey! Does she have a dog? JK!! Um, will I read her again? Maybe. I liked her a bit before, maybe.

    As you can see, I’m not really gonna put myself out there as the defender of any author, but rather the books and the causes. Clearly I need to work on my fangirl skills. They should really offer a workshop to those of us that aspire.

  25. azteclady
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:31:59

    I said earlier,

    ~Someone who can say (and mean it!), “If you didn't like this book/character/plotline, I failed you as a writer.”~

    To which Ms Roberts commented,

    I don't think this equates I'm required to meet every reader's expectations-or any specific reader's. The book failed that reader. Doesn't mean I'm going to try to conceive and execute the next one to please that reader. But I can accept that for this reader, this book failed her expectations or wants or level of enjoyment.

    That is exactly what I meant, snarkhunter. No writer should write for me (aka the mythical monolithic READER) with exclusion of everything else. But a writer who can acknowledge that when a book doesn’t resonate with one individual reader* that doesn’t mean that reader is attacking the author? That writer rocks in my book.

    (*I believe Ms Roberts herself used that sentence or one very similar to it in a comment to a review of one of her books here at DA)

  26. snarkhunter
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:36:18

    But a writer who can acknowledge that when a book doesn't resonate with one individual reader* that doesn't mean that reader is attacking the author?

    Okay, THAT I totally agree with, and now I can see what you meant in your original comment. I read it with a different emphasis or something.

  27. CourtneyCarroll
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:54:59

    Interesting discussion topic Jane. I had never ever heard the term “fangirl” until I started reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and joined her bulletin boards that were full of self-described “fangirls.” I think sometimes true fangirls give the author a bad name. Case in point with J.R.-there were a number of readers who posted at Amazon and Romantic Times (and presumably other sites as well) that they felt villified by the “fangirls” whenever they posted a less-than-glowing comment about any of J.R.’s books.

    For me, being a fan means promoting an author’s books that I’ve loved or enjoyed with friends or in other arenas (i.e. writing a positive review on Amazon etc.), and sending that author an e-mail regarding the same.

  28. Dana
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:55:49

    Does owning Buffy and Spike action figures makeme a fangirl? They were gifts! (and I love them so.)

    *whispers* I have the Angel puppet, and it wasn’t a gift. :p */whispers* But it’s not too much of a secret that I am a Whedon fangirl. :) But this doesn’t mean that I think I ‘worship’ him, or have no objectivity. (I hated huge chunks of seasons 3 & 4 on Angel and I still pretend the last half of season 7 on Buffy never occurred.)

    I agree with other posters that there is a difference between a fangirl and a rabid fanatic. One is a someone who has a deeper love for a subject than average fans, and the other is a scary extremist faction who seems to have deified the author and feel that any criticism towards that author is a sin that must be rectified with horribly spelled flaming hate mail.

    I can usually separate the author from their work, so if I like their writing I’ll continue to read it regardless of their actions. Unless they do something magnificently stupid that outweighs all of my enjoyment in their books.

    And it’s easier for me to separate the work from the creator with books, since a lot of the time I only have a vague notion of who the author is. It’s a lot harder when it comes to actors though, and I can’t help thinking how much more I would enjoy something if I didn’t know so much about them. A lot of the time, I usually just stop watching their movies, this includes Gibson, Cruise, Holmes, Heaton, ect.

  29. Ann Aguirre
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:58:33

    Azteclady said:

    You know, I think I'm more likely to become a fangrrrrrl of a writer who can, himself*, separate his* writing from his* identity as a person.

    In my own experience, this has been crucial. I had to learn that a judgment against something I wrote was not also an indictment of me, the human being. I think it’s critical that an author believe in his or her own integral value as a person, quite apart from what he or she writes. I write, but that does not define me. And having a reader say, “Wow, I hated this book,” does not! translate to, “Wow, Ann Aguirre is a dumb shit, and I can’t stand that bitch.”

  30. Jules Jones
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:05:48

    Nora @22: Does owning Buffy and Spike action figures make me a fangirl? They were gifts! (and I love them so.)

    In the good sense, yes.

    I’m not in any position to point a finger at other fangirls. I own an original BBC costume from my favourite sf show…

  31. Kit
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:07:47

    I agree very much with GrowlyCub – I struggled over a response and found in rereading comments that they said what I was going to say, if with different examples since I’m not at present a romance reader.

    In addendum:

    I don’t really consider myself a fangirl of anything – a fan, certainly, but I rarely move beyond “Man, I really like these guys – I need to give them money.”. I have friends that are unabashed rabid fangirls of various things, and I guess that works for them. I feel awkward when they get their fan on, though. It feels a lot like craziness, a strange mania of which I can’t make sense.

  32. Minx Malone
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:26:12

    I agree with Jennifer, the correct term for these people is “fanatic.” See the below definition and note the use of the terms “irrational” and “rabid”.

    I also enjoyed the Winston Churchill quote. It explains a lot.

    Noun

    * S: (n) fanatic, fiend (a person motivated by irrational enthusiasm (as for a cause)) “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”–Winston Churchill

    Adjective

    * S: (adj) fanatic, fanatical, overzealous, rabid (marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea) “rabid isolationist”

    Source: http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=fanatic

  33. Elise Logan
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:30:14

    I’ve thought about this a good bit since reading the post. I do think, a la other comments, that the term “fangirl” has a negative connotation. But if you go back to the root, all fans are, by definition, fanatics. By that definition, the zealotry might have some good reason to be associated with the term fangirl.

    Allow me to give an example. I read and enjoy Author X. She writes an insanely popular series, and has an extremely active bulletin board. This is all very, very good. There are some individuals who seem to have a significant emotional investment in the series and its characters, and – by association – the author. I have seen these individuals go into rabid defense mode when someone criticizes the stories in any way. Evidently, to these people, any criticism of the books equates to criticism of the author personally. These are the individuals I would label as zealots.

    There are other individuals who justify and excuse away criticisms of Author X’s books. These individuals have clearly made the distinction between author and work, but the work is unassailable. These are the individuals I would label as fangirls.

    There are still more individuals who discuss and debate the work, sometimes defending it, sometimes criticizing it, but with a general ambience of favor for the series. These I would call fans.

    Beyond that, you get into casual readers and non-fans, people who are either ambivalent about the books or who actively disliked them. I suppose there is also a class of “haters” who conflate the author and the work, transferring the dislike of the books onto the author – sort of reverse zealots.

    Anyway, that’s my take on the fangirl.

  34. Robin
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:31:33

    As I told Jane yesterday, this issue isn’t limited to genre fiction. Mega influential literary critic Paul de Man came under scrutiny after his death for articles written during WWII for Nazi-sympathizer publications, which in turn created an enormous debate over whether or not his critical views (or even deconstruction, the movement he helped found) could be separated from his politics and whether his lit crit work should be read at all.

    So I don’t think it’s ever possible to completely separate a person from their work, while at the same time I think we need to remember that what we *see* of the creator is itself a constructed work, that for the most part we never really *know* any author (unless there is a RL personal relationship, of course). Which to me means that to some degree an author’s online persona can become like an extension of their work, but that both are merely *manifestations* and *presentations* that I might or might not find entertaining or interesting. I have purchased books by authors whose online voices have intrigued me, and I’ve taken little breaks from authors whose online voices have annoyed me until I can approach their work fresh once again.

    I don’t, though, think I’ve ever come away from a book thinking that what an author wrote is code for what they are in RL, except under those circumstances where said authors talks about those things outside the book. In other words, if there is some kind of osmosis going on, it’s happening from the authors out-of-book mouth to my ears and not from the book itself. But because it is online, and because it is incomplete and uninflected communication, even still I try not to conflate the work and the authorial persona, at least until the authorial persona IMO impugns the reader *as a reader* — like, IMO, Deborah Smith did in her repeated comments. I think the whole plagiarism issue is really the first time that has happened for me, and it’s really sad, because there are authors whose work I really can’t even contemplate reading right now.

    As for all the name calling going on over the Edwards situation, as I said elsewhere, the most extreme comments I’ve seen around the Edwards revelations have come from those defending Edwards or attacking the “mean girl” bloggers or Nora Roberts. That doesn’t mean I will defend every comment made about Edwards either, as some, IMO, are overboard. But in any case, I think the thing that has really shaken my faith in the integrity of the Romance community has been these author comments that dismiss the Edwards examples, trash the bloggers, or go after authors who dare to say that they think Edwards was wrong. I don’t necessarily expect other readers to care passionately about intellectual honesty in fiction, but I sure as hell do expect authors to care, and I’m amazed at how many times over the past couple of weeks I’ve felt like saying that is breaking a taboo, somehow.

    As to the anti-blogger sentiment, some of it, of course, is transparent standard anti-blogger propaganda, a resentment happy to find what it sees as a cause. IMO that kind of anti-blogger name calling IMO amounts to using Edwards, exploiting the situation, really, to go after — once again — the bloggers, and all that sort of speaks for itself, IMO.

    No, the stuff that gets me is the stuff like Deb Smith has said over and over (complete with incorrect assertions regarding copyright and plagiarism), because I can’t understand where it’s coming from. Is it a personal grudge against Roberts? Is it author CYA? Is it lack of respect for readers and bloggers? Is it a fear that bloggers have some weird hypnotic power over readers? Is it bitterness totally unrelated to any of this? And in Smith’s case, she’s a publisher, too, right?

    Obviously there’s a lot of personalization going on at Smith’s end of things, too, as well as with some other authors who have made comments that have baffled, frustrated, and just plain pissed me off over the past couple of weeks. No one, IMO, is beyond taking something personally. It’s all a matter of degree, IMO, and of the ability to make reasonable distinctions outside the heat of the moment.

    Ultimately I guess it’s up to each of us to say what we mean the best way we can and, at the end of the day, be able to live with what we’ve said, regardless of how someone else takes it. At least that’s honest.

  35. Diana Pharaoh Francis
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:38:20

    It seems to me the problem is that the defenders of Cassie Edwards are trying to defend the indefensible. Since they have no legs to stand on, they are using the logical fallacy of personal attack (learned no doubt from watching the political shenanigans on the tv) and so instead of addressing what you say, they are simply going to attack you by name calling and hope no one notices how completely stupid and ridiculous that is. Same applies to the Smart Bitches and to Nora Roberts and anyone who has reason enough to read what CE wrote and then to read the originals. I mean, duh. It’s pretty obvious.

    Di

  36. Jules Jones
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:41:48

    There’s also the verb form “to fanboy/girl someone”, which basically refers to the uncontrollable “Ohmygosh it’s youooo!” gushing we are prone to on encountering actual Real Live Author/Actor/Etc. Which is normally harmless, if perhaps embarrassing on one or both sides, but occasionally goes a lot further and into Creepy Stalkerdom. I’ve seen an example of the latter outside a stage door, and there is very definitely a difference. Online it results in the sort of behaviour Ilona Andrews refers to at post 9.

  37. Jade
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:44:19

    Robin said: I think the thing that has really shaken my faith in the integrity of the Romance community has been these author comments that dismiss the Edwards examples, trash the bloggers, or go after authors who dare to say that they think Edwards was wrong.

    Amen.

    And I’d like to add that prior to my first comments I hadn’t read all of D. Smith’s blog. I’ve done so now and I, too, agree with Robin’s comments:

    I don't necessarily expect other readers to care passionately about intellectual honesty in fiction, but I sure as hell do expect authors to care, and I'm amazed at how many times over the past couple of weeks I've felt like saying that is breaking a taboo, somehow.

    I know it’s judgemental, but I really feel it’s a grotesque lack of character on those that even slightly condone CE’s actions or make excuses for how maybe CE didn’t know what she was doing. BS. I’m wondering how D. Smith would feel if high schoolers were using her work in their creative writing classes and not paraphrasing or citing? Would that be okay? Would she be flattered if they were passing her work off as their own?

  38. Sandra Schwab
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:47:14

    Sandra Schwab seems to think we want historical writers to document all their research.

    Jackie, I knew I shouldn’t have taken part in the discussion on the Cassie Edwards case, and on what or what doesn’t constitute plagiarism when writing fiction (read: it was an extremely idiotic thing to do), especially as I didn’t seem to manage to get my point across. Yes, I was getting more and more frustated as the discussion progressed and several suggestions (in some cases demands) were made that authors should document their sources more properly, because for somebody who relies heavily on research and who loves to play with intertextual references, many of these suggestions could be construed as an attack, even if they were never meant in this way.

    I am sorry if I stepped on anybody’s toes during the aforementioned discussion. This was never my intention. I’m also sorry if I came across like a dog with a bone and got on everybody’s nerves.

  39. Bev(QB)
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:50:08

    Meljean said:

    Rabid fangirls are something else, though (and in my mind are closer to the fangirl definition above) -’ that's when the author/creator can do no wrong, and any dissenting opinion must be silenced, even if the only way to do it is by yelling and getting all of their friends. They kind of scare me

    Yep, yep. Too true. I’m a good example because I am an LKH fangirl– her books, and her and her husband personally. However, I not only retain a sense of humor, but I also feel no compulsion to wander the interent ever on guard and ready to defend her to the death. Have I done so? Yeah, a few times when there were some personal attacks that I knew were not based on facts. And I have expressed my opinion or interpretation of her books at a few places.

    But let’s face it, considering the amount of anti-LKH sentiment out there, jumping in to defend her would be a full time job and I would certainly deserve the label of “rabid fangirl” if I felt that no one was allowed to express any negative opinions about her. Mostly I just stay out of it because anything I say will simply be dismissed as “rabid fangirl” blathering. And life’s too damn short to spend it in no-win arguments, anyhow.

    Hell, there’s even been a few times where I’ve covered my eyes and thought “Oh, Laurell, what did you DO?!”

    And Ilona, thank you for expressing this issue from an author’s POV. Your comments were very enlightening and I can’t imagine how frustrating that double-edge sword must be.

  40. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 13:55:46

    they felt villified by the “fangirls”

    That is a behavior I’ve seen all too often and yes…. it does hurt the author.

    If you love a book, great. That doesn’t mean everybody has to love it and those that don’t love it don’t need to be mocked, scorned or insulted.

    But that does happen and I think it’s part of why ‘fangirl’ has developed this negative connotation. But it’s not really the ‘fangirl’ doing it.

    It’s the RFGs or the fanatics.

  41. Robin
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 14:23:50

    I think LKH is a great example of an author who has created a public persona that merges with her work. Whether it’s publicizing pictures of herself, her husband, and her assistant dressed as characters, or talking a lot about the personal details of her life *in relation* to her writing process and the content of her books, she has made it very difficult, IMO, to effect a separation between her books and her authorial persona. So I understand how her fans can think they *know* her, because IMO she cultivates that personalization. That doesn’t, IMO, mean that it’s a free-for-all for readers, but it’s also not just author v. book with her, either.

    I know it's judgemental, but I really feel it's a grotesque lack of character on those that even slightly condone CE's actions or make excuses for how maybe CE didn't know what she was doing. BS. I'm wondering how D. Smith would feel if high schoolers were using her work in their creative writing classes and not paraphrasing or citing? Would that be okay? Would she be flattered if they were passing her work off as their own?

    We’re all making value judgments here, which is why, of course, there’s so much heat around these discussions.

    I was thinking yesterday about how I feel this situation is similar to and different from the Viswanathan plagiarism case. In Viswanathan’s case, I’m not even convinced she wrote the whole of Opal Mehta, and who knows because she took responsibility for what happened and there’s only that book to go by. With Edwards it’s multiple books, multiple external sources (fiction and non-fic), multiple examples in each book. And here’s my dilemma with that: if she thought was she was doing was okay, what does that say about how professional Romance authors are educated about plagiarism or how their ms’s are vetted by their editors and publishers? In other words, even if she really thought it was okay, IMO we’re still back to a general ignorance of or disregard for intellectual honesty and creative integrity *somewhere* in the mix of her books being written and published.

    I don’t know what kind of a person Edwards is, and I can absolutely entertain the idea that as a person she’s wonderful and as an author she made some unethical decisions. I’m not looking for “punishment” for her, although I do not think that any books future or repubbed should go out with copied material in them. Same with the cries of witch hunt, the dismissals of the copying, the assertions that it’s all about the mean girl bloggers, and the ‘who cares, what’s the big deal’ comments: what do those say about the general value placed on intellectual honesty in the genre? Are those the more standard views, or is it the views of authors like Nora Roberts, Julie Leto, etc., who have been vocal anti-plagiarism advocates?

  42. Michelle
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 14:24:31

    It is an interesting distinction between fan/fangirl/rabid fangirl. I think more recently the term fangirl does carry a negative image. It is used to dismiss someone’s opinion. Just because I am a huge fan of someone doesn’t mean I will blindly follow them or that my brain has ceased to function logically.

    When I am personally offended I am more likely to speak out. I am offended by blatant stupidity and illogic. Deb Smith knew she would be insulting people and didn’t care a whit and still did it. I view Jennifer Crusies comment as more of a spoke before she thought type of deal. It did bother me but I still enjoy her works. I will not touch any Deb Smiths works with a ten foot pole.

    “Fans” of authors have a lot of power. They can spread the word and attract new readers, but just as easily a fan’s bad behaviour can really turn off future readers and do a lot of harm. As a fan I try to act responsibly and not go overboard. As one of Megan Whalen Turner’s phrases “Don’t offend the Gods” could be turned into a saying for authors and fans-don’t offend the readers. (Now come on you just knew rabid fangirl that I am I had to work her in somewhere-now go read King of Attolia).

    With the spotlight on Romance, and Romances struggle to be a credible genre, I think it reflects poorly when you have romance authors that publically see nothing wrong with plagerism and attack those that are trying to bring attention to the matter. Trying to quietly sweep something under the rug is not a good idea. Kind of like trying to shut the barn door once the horse has left.

  43. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 14:46:15

    ~if she thought was she was doing was okay, what does that say about how professional Romance authors are educated about plagiarism or how their ms's are vetted by their editors and publishers?~

    While publishers and editors don’t hold workshops and seminars on plagiarism and infringement, they do have standard language in the contract wherein the author guarantees the work as orginial. And would, I assume, believe the author was taught the basics about copying in school.

    Again, Romance is not at fault or even flawed because of this matter. Not even due to the response of some who find it no big, or seem confused by the terms and their meanings.

    Publishers, regardless of the genre, don’t have time to vet every mss under contract.

    I have a very hard time believing anyone who writes for a living genuinely believes it’s okay to lift the work of another writer. I just can’t buy it, particularly can’t when it’s multiple times over the course of years. Particularly again, when they would have had to live in a cave not to hear about other instances of copying and infringement–and the fallout from it.

    Those who believe it’s okay are deluding themselves. I don’t think any amount of education would make a difference in that case.

  44. Darlynne
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:06:05

    Authors write books, we read them–or not–for many reasons. Our mutual contract should begin and end with what’s between the pages, IMO. Educating, inspiring or moving either party is a bonus and a blessing; expecting more from either is where the balance tips, usually not in a good way.

    “… fans who post on their sites or support the POV are looked upon as RFGs, and therefore, easy to dismiss.”

    This is the problem I have with labels of any kind and that includes books, politics, religion and talk radio. When we apply labels, we place that person with whom we disagree in a neat cubbyhole, which means we don’t have to deal with them or address what they say. It’s easy to call someone a fangirl/idiot/Democrat-Republican if you don’t see yourself as any of those things and want to dismiss their words as unimportant or their actions as unreasonable.

    What I’ve seen in every blog or forum at which I’ve posted or lurked boils down to this: Supporting the author makes you a fangirl. Disagreeing with the author makes you a hater. Commenting at a blog and supporting a point of view contrary to that of the on-line community makes you a troll.

    I’ve completely oversimplified the conflict, but we seem to be so quick off the mark with labels. Just as quick, I suppose, as we are with the ugly rhetoric. I love heated discussions, shoe-banging arguments, and wrap-my-hands-round-your-throat debates. I’m dismayed, however, when the comments degenerate into “here come the trolls” or “looks like the fangirls/haters have shown up” or the all-purpose and popular victim statement, “I suppose all the fangirls/haters are going to come after me for this.” At this point, a heretofore intelligent and spirited topic can go right off the rails.

    Hey, maybe that’s the ultimate intent, to take us from reasoned debate to internet brawl! If we resort to name-calling, can sticking out our tongues be far behind?

  45. KCfla
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:07:11

    **But not every fan is a lemming. Not every reader or author that admires another author, respects their opinions, and often agrees with them is a lemming. Implying otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of every reader (or writer) who has considered herself a ‘fan' at some point in her life.**

    Ms. Walker- THANK YOU!!

    I am a reader, and belong to- although I don’t post much- various authors sites/blogs/forums. (It never ceases to amaze me how “wrapped up” some people get into the books)

    Am I a fan of certain writers- Certainly! Am I rabid? Heck no!

    Now, I have only met 2 authors in all my 30+ years of reading romance ( simply because of time/travel issues) Both were very nice. I’ve been roaming the blogs/sites for the past year or so, and have enjoyed most of the info/reviews/interactions. I’ve started to post recently, because I feel comfortable enough to put in my .02 cents.

    But I resent someone calling me “Rabid” , just because I offer my opinion. Such as it is.

  46. roslynholcomb
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:18:20

    And would, I assume, believe the author was taught the basics about copying in school.

    I agree. I know for myself that I had without a doubt one of the worst educations in the known universe. I attended a public school that didn’t have AP English or any advanced courses at all. Yet, somehow I know that stealing is wrong.

    My mother had very limited education, she never made it past elementary school, but was an avid romance reader. She probably read one a day for much of her life. She adored Janet Dailey, but once she heard about what she’d done to Nora she never picked up another one of her books. Why? Because stealing is wrong.

    There are plenty of things that fall into a gray area, but this, thankfully isn’t one of them. I am not a Nora Roberts fangirl, indeed, being that I’m in my 44th year I resent being called a girl of any sort. I am however a fan of the truth, and this one isn’t even close. To call Nora out for speaking out against something that is both wrong and damaging to our community is at the least shortsighted, if not downright stupid. (I’m trying not to use that word, but there some occasions when nothing fits better.) I don’t know Deborah Smith and haven’t read any of her books, but this so-called defense is ill-advised.

    What Cassie Edwards did is nothing less than an assault against readers as well as writers. If we stand by and say nothing we are complicit in our own abuse. This must be addressed in the strongest terms, and I am just thankful that Nora has the ovaries to do it.

  47. Bev(BB)
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:27:53

    I believe that we as a romance community would be better if we moved away from the fan culture, the personalization of the author/reader relationship because the relationship that we readers have is truly with the book.

    Hmm, but why can’t we have a fan culture about the books themselves instead of the authors? See, this is where I tend to think things get skewed. We discuss the books. We talk about the characters like we know them. We study the plots they find themselves immersed in. We coo and gripe over the cover art.

    Then we say we’re fans of the authors . . . what’s with that?

    Yes, I collect certain author’s books but does that actually make me a connoisseur of that author or of their writing? An insignificant distinction or a major one?

    Seems to me we might be gagging at a gnat and swallowing a camel when we start worrying about what the meaning of fangirl is if we’re not actually concerned over what they’re fans of in the first place.

    I know some of you in this discussion have said you’re fangirls of an author and yet I do suspect you mean the author’s writing and books, not them personally. OTOH, I’ve heard plenty of individuals over the years that have said the same thing and I’ve known they meant the author. The person. The celebrity. Period.

    And they’re not talking about them as personal friends.

    It’s not subtle when one runs across it.

    That is a completely different fandom. If you’ve ever been involved in a TV or movie type fandom, you know what I’m talking about. There can be completely different tones between posts about the show/cast and posts about the stars. And while fandoms for the stars intersect with the fandoms for the shows they are in, they aren’t truly part of them. They are separate fandoms.

    This, however, is not one great big fandom. It’s a lot fandoms for individual authors intersecting with the much larger romance novel fandom if you will.

    The problem here is that unlike those fandoms, we tend to interact with some of our “stars” on a somewhat daily basis due to the Internet. Tends to blur the lines in a big way if those lines aren’t clearly drawn. Which is why I suspect authors like Ilona Andrews find themselves in the positions they do, stuck between an Internet rock and a hard place. Just how much contact is healthy?

  48. Charlene Teglia
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:28:17

    Hmmm. Coming into this late, Shiloh Walker and Nora Roberts have both hit the nail on the head so squarely I don’t know what I can add. There are some people I don’t want to travel with, yes. And certainly you don’t have to check your judgment at the door to be a fan. Fan does not equal cultish devotee.

    I do think that it’s natural for one’s perception of a person’s work to be colored by the person. Whether that’s right, wrong, good, or bad, I can’t say, but I do think it’s human.

  49. Robin
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:37:36

    I have a very hard time believing anyone who writes for a living genuinely believes it's okay to lift the work of another writer. I just can't buy it, particularly can't when it's multiple times over the course of years. Particularly again, when they would have had to live in a cave not to hear about other instances of copying and infringement-and the fallout from it.

    And yet, there are authors seriously trying to argue that some of what Edwards did is not plagiaristic copying but proper use of research material. Now to me, it seems pretty obvious that if something is important enough to put into your book, it’s important enough to acknowledge. But clearly not everyone’s on the same page (har har) about that.

    Again, Romance is not at fault or even flawed because of this matter. Not even due to the response of some who find it no big, or seem confused by the terms and their meanings.

    I’m not arguing that this is a problem at all isolated to Romance. But I have seen those “what’s the big deal, it’s only Romance” comments, and I think there are dynamics specific to this community that come into play. Just as if this happened in the sci-fi community, I think there would be specific dynamics within that community that would shape the terms of the issue in terms of how it’s discussed and handled. Just as there were specific dynamics within the lit fic community when the McEwan accusations were raised last year. Communities have personalities, IMO, and they have specific standards of conduct, etc. that IMO come into play.

    Publishers, regardless of the genre, don't have time to vet every mss under contract.

    Nor should they be expected to. But if a publisher comes out and says “author X did nothing wrong,” that can very easily be seen as a statement about their own standards of intellectual honesty in the work they publish. IMO just because a publisher tries to contract its way out of culpability for an author’s ethical transgressions doesn’t mean it has no responsibility, especially if it publishes many books from an author. I haven’t read Edwards, so I don’t know, but is it fair at all to expect that an editor might catch the apparently abrupt changes in style in these books and ask the author about them? I’m not saying that an editor should be expected to catch plagiarism, per se, but this pattern was, apparently, present over the course of more than one or two books.

  50. maddie
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:52:41

    I think it’s sad that some of CE fans and defenders think that it’s not “theft” because word of text is not a physical thing like stealing of an actual item….I do wonder what Cruisie and Smith would “think” if it was a page taking from one of their books, would they be saying the same and defending the thief themselves?

    All those who defend CE are telling the who world that they think it’s ok to steal from others and some one who lacks a moral compass is not getting my money, this I know for a fact and I was a big fan of JC because she turned me on to Dusty Springfield.

    And D Smith not a fan of Nora Roberts, I do have some of her older Sil. books, but you know us romance readers are so stupid that I guess we can’t know right from wrong with out Nora and Jane(s) and Karen S telling us what to think.

  51. Maddie
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 15:55:50

    Can I also add that I didn’t know I was sheep and N.Roberts and the Janes and Karen S, and Oh the Smarties B’s where sheep herders?

  52. R.
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:29:16

    I feel that Bernita has a very valid point on the tendency of fangirls to deify the writers of their choice[s], in that if you say anything counter to their own beliefs then you are guilty of blasphemy. And we have centuries’ worth of history on this planet recording what ‘believers’ to do ‘non-believers’.

    You don’t have the right to disagree with the rabid fans, because your disagreement is tantamount to saying they are out and out wrong. There is a distinct lack of respect for the opinions of others.

    This is from Wikipedia on the etymology of the word ‘fan‘:

    (Fanatic itself, introduced into English around 1525, means “insane person”. It comes from the Modern Latin fanaticus, meaning “insanely but divinely inspired”. The word originally pertained to a temple or sacred place [Latin fanum, poetic English fane]. The modern sense of “extremely zealous” dates from around 1647; the use of fanatic as a noun dates from 1650.)

    And that’s why I personally dislike the word — I much prefer the terms ‘aficionado’(masc.) and ‘aficionada’(fem.).

    As bolstering as they can be to the ego at times, sadly ‘yes-men’ have never done any good to any cause. You can’t get a simple truth or an honest opinion from a ‘yes-man’.

  53. Gina
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:35:56

    Opinions are, by definition (thanks to websters.com)

    1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

    2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

    I always enjoy reading the reviews here, but even more the ensuing conversation – who agrees, who disagrees, and why. Every day there is written evidence – here on DearAuthor – that intelligent people can come together and have well thought out debates without bloodshed.

    If you are on the internet blogging away for the world to see isn’t safe to assume you are trying to be heard and trying to elicit a response? Why resort to name calling and blame laying when that response is not quite in agreement with your opinion? Seems to me that blogger can ‘dish it out, but they can’t take it’ and should not be in the blogging business to begin with.

    To dismiss a persons opinion because it disagrees with your own, to add further insult by assuming that opinion is just the mindless echoing of another, is a tactic of an immature mind who doesn’t like to be disagreed with and needs to discredit anyone with a differing opinion. Alternately that same person will align themselves with people who will mindlessly echo their thoughts – ironic, no?

    Those blogs I avoid, anyone who needs me to mindlessly convert to their way of thinking is just looking for fanatics to follow them. Fanatics, not fans, not fangirls.

    As a fan of both Nora Roberts and Cassie Edwards and I can say that I am disappointed by what Cassie has done. Even more disappointment by her claims of ignorance. A woman as creative and successful as that makes all her fans look like fools with such a defense. Saying that does not make me a rabid fangirl of Noras, it makes me a RABID FANGIRL OF HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND PUBLISHING LAW.

  54. Gina
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:38:08

    Opinions are, by definition (thanks to websters.com)

    1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.

    2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

    I always enjoy reading the reviews here, but even more the ensuing conversation – who agrees, who disagrees, and why. Every day there is written evidence – here on DearAuthor – that intelligent people can come together and have well thought out debates without bloodshed.

    If you are on the internet blogging away for the world to see isn’t safe to assume you are trying to be heard and trying to elicit a response? Why resort to name calling and blame laying when that response is not quite in agreement with your opinion? Seems to me that blogger can ‘dish it out, but they can’t take it’ and should not be in the blogging business to begin with.

    To dismiss a persons opinion because it disagrees with your own, to add further insult by assuming that opinion is just the mindless echoing of another, is a tactic of an immature mind who doesn’t like to be disagreed with and needs to discredit anyone with a differing opinion. Alternately that same person will align themselves with people who will mindlessly echo their thoughts – ironic, no?

    Those blogs I avoid, anyone who needs me to mindlessly convert to their way of thinking is just looking for fanatics to follow them. Fanatics, not fans, not fangirls.

    As a fan of both Nora Roberts and Cassie Edwards and I can say that I am disappointed by what Cassie has done. Even more disappointment by her claims of ignorance. A woman as creative and successful as that makes all her fans look like fools with such a defense. Saying that does not make me a rabid fangirl of Noras, it makes me a rabid fangirl of honesty and integrity, call me silly but shouldn’t that be what this issue is about?

  55. Fredericka
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:38:12

    Regrettably, during this adventure I’ve had the opportunity to read several author’s blogs who had heretofore remained off my radar. It is with some sadness that I can report that I’ve discovered that I don’t like these people – not one little bit – and some of them write for my publisher.

    I’ve always maintained a distance from other authors on purpose. I am, unfortunately, moved by an author’s insensitivity, rudeness, or general cluelessness. Reading, to me, is such an intimate adventure that if I don’t like the person to whom I’ve given my trust, then I’m not going to like what they’ve written.

    That said, I think I’ll fall back on an old adage I’ve used from the beginning of my writing career – it’s the book that’s important, not the author. When an author forgets that, it’s to her peril.

  56. Bev(BB)
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:52:29

    You know, on giving this some more thought, maybe what we should be doing is just calling ourselves readers, not fans. It is what we are, after all. Yes, there is a certain element of “fandom” in what we do but is that the sum total of it? No. I think at heart, we are readers, pure and simple. The rest is just icing on the cake. Fun stuff, if you will.

    There is another level, though. I mean when a certain author’s books catch my attention enough to make an impression, then I may start “collecting” them. That is probably the only time I do pay attention to the author in the equation. As a collector, I may approach things more with wanting information about the author in mind but it’s still not about wanting to know about their personal life. It’s about wanting more information about their books.

    To me that’s what “crossing the line” would mean.

  57. Janine
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 16:53:57

    Question:

    Does owning Buffy and Spike action figures make me a fangirl?

    I am such a Spike fangirl that I can’t answer that, but what I want to know is, what does it make me that as soon as I read that, I wanted Ned to get his hands on those figures and videotape them getting some action?

  58. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 17:26:28

    ~so I don't know, but is it fair at all to expect that an editor might catch the apparently abrupt changes in style in these books and ask the author about them?~

    As I’ve said before, I would expect that the editors simply saw this as authorial style. Her readers enjoyed her work, her work sold. I can’t imagine the editor questioning her style when she had a solid fan base.

    Like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects plagiarism.

    I agree that when at the end of the day a publisher says it’s no big deal Author X copied all this stuff, that removes that buffer. But the publisher is entitled to believe the author sold them original work when the author signed a legal document saying so. And is entitled, in fact, obligated to take the time to research the claims thoroughly and fairly before making a decision.

    A publisher isn’t allowed to just have an opinion.

    From my pov, any author arguing what CE did was research and acceptable isn’t paying attention, hasn’t read the comparisons, or is an apologist. That’s not the publisher’s or the genre’s fault either.

  59. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 17:49:41

    But the publisher is entitled to believe the author sold them original work when the author signed a legal document saying so. And is entitled, in fact, obligated to take the time to research the claims thoroughly and fairly before making a decision.

    Ditto. Hope that doesn’t make me sound too much like a lemming.

    I could be wrong, but I would think the publisher probably has a standard way of dealing with this sort of thing. Regardless of the author, they would need to treat all things equal. Even if it was an unknown…until they’d investigated, I think they would feel an obligation to stand by the author. The author signed a contract guaranteeing an original work, they have no reason to expect otherwise.

    But I’d also think that even as they quote a company line, they’d be looking into it.

    I know from talking with my epubs, ‘accusations’ of plagiarism come up. Most are just accusations, and groundless. I think Angela with Samhain had mentioned an instance about sheep on a hillside… groundless.

    They have to treat authors equally, and isn’t it better to assume all authors are innocent unless their own investigation proves otherwise?

    An example…. hypothetically speaking, lets say Angela at Samhain got an email stating Shiloh Walker plagiarized, and they immediately assumed I had, treated me like a pariah, then I get cleared….I wouldn’t be too happy. Would think twice before writing for them. Then another instance came up with another author a few weeks later… went the same way…it could affect a publishing company in a serious way. Not to mention make them look really, really bad.

    I realize the company line seems way too passive, but if they go on the aggressive and accuse without thoroughly researching? I’d say that’s much, much worse.

  60. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 17:50:06

    Let me add, as an example, that in my case Dailey had been copying me for years. 13 of my books were infringed–that we found. It never occurred to me to blame her publishers, her editors. And I can say that when I vetted the books, I could then clearly see the change in style and voice. But I don’t imagine an editor would have caught it, or an editor should have suspected copying.

  61. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 17:52:36

    ~Hope that doesn't make me sound too much like a lemming.~

    Nah, just like by BFF in KY.

    And to reciprocate:

    ~Regardless of the author, they would need to treat all things equal. Even if it was an unknown…until they'd investigated, I think they would feel an obligation to stand by the author. The author signed a contract guaranteeing an original work, they have no reason to expect otherwise.

    But I'd also think that even as they quote a company line, they'd be looking into it.~

    Exactly so.

  62. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 17:54:18

    **But not every fan is a lemming. Not every reader or author that admires another author, respects their opinions, and often agrees with them is a lemming. Implying otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of every reader (or writer) who has considered herself a ‘fan' at some point in her life.**

    Ms. Walker- THANK YOU!!

    You’re welcome!

    Hmmm. Coming into this late, Shiloh Walker and Nora Roberts have both hit the nail on the head so squarely I don't know what I can add.

    Charlene, you know… I keep telling my husband I make perfect sense. He agrees… (and adds… “in your own mind”)

    Heh, heh. It’s nice to occasionally make sense to people beside myself.

  63. Is it a matter of failure? « Trivial Pursuits
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 19:01:58

    [...] Snarkhunter commented: If he/she writes a book we don't like, is that the writer's fault? (Sometimes it is, but not usu… [...]

  64. Shirley
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 19:17:15

    A bit less heated here, but what I said at KS’ applies. Fangirls are only fangirls when they’re in the minority – either way. I absolutely adore the bloodshed this kind of thing causes, so I’m not saying blog wars and flaming should go out. Thing is – as the former words show – they only exist in the blogosphere. And not just in the romance world.

    What could have been a small blip on the radar, so to speak, blew up into an amazing farce of anything even remotely resembling calm, logical discussion.Plagiarism is wrong, and potentially illegal, but proving it can be hard to do. NR has had to deal with it, I’m sure she can share how arduous the path can be.

    That said, this hasn’t exactly stayed on the point of plagiarism. It’s spun off in so many places in such ways that some of the comments could be considered potentially libelous, which is hard to prove too. Only in the blogosphere are comments like that tolerated – you surely couldn’t say some of the things that have been said, most pointedly that CE is a thief(the other defamatory items aren’t worth typing out) about a co-worker without proving it or being punished because you couldn’t. Heck, half of the language used would get a write up at a real job.

    I guess I figure your definition of fangirls works for you here, so it doesn’t really matter whether it applies everywhere. Call ‘em as you see ‘em. But then if you or someone from DA goes somewhere else and spews junk, and you(generically) get labeled fangirls or snarky bitches or whatever, then I guess you just have to live with it.

    Either way, keep the blood flowing, LOL! This old lady doesn’t get out much and Jerry Springer hasn’t got anything on blog wars in romance land. Just my two cents.

    Shirley

  65. DS
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 19:35:27

    It’s just such a clear case of plagiarism that I am left scratching my head with my mouth open wondering about those who seem to 1) deny it happened or 2)deny that it had any significance, or 3) want to attack the bloggers. With JC and Deborah Smith I think it “attack the bloggers.” I’m rather sorry I saw Cruise acting that way because I have in the past enjoyed her books– even have one autographed. I haven’t bought one in a number of years though, so it doesn’t matter much that every time I see one for a while I am going to flash on the Cassie Edwards posts.

    I have also in the last couple of years become fascinated with Fandom Wank so it seems to be not just romance readers but all devotees who occasionally go off the rails. In fact, I am surprised at times that some of the people acting like irresponsible, overly emotional school kids (Supernatural fandom, anyone?) are adults and even into middle age. What is that all about? I found myself trying to explain to a friend about the women who think they have married a Harry Potter character on the astral plane and she just looked at me like I had grown another nose. I think I’ll hold off for a while before I tell her about furries.

  66. rebyj
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 19:49:30

    I am not a fangirl of anyone, I am a fan of several authors and will support their work by buying their books new. 95% of the books I buy are from used bookstores.

    Is it along the same lines that my honey calls me a blogwhore after this past 2 weeks of CE drama? He’d hear me yelling “OMG she did NOT just say THAT?!!!!” or “AAMEN SISTER!!!” and know I’d stumbled across another blog LOL

    I bet in the past 2 weeks I’ve added 15 new blog bookmarks to my favorites !

  67. Robin
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 20:03:36

    Let me add, as an example, that in my case Dailey had been copying me for years. 13 of my books were infringed-that we found. It never occurred to me to blame her publishers, her editors. And I can say that when I vetted the books, I could then clearly see the change in style and voice. But I don't imagine an editor would have caught it, or an editor should have suspected copying.

    I’m not trying to blame her editors and publishers; I’m merely trying to figure out what it’s reasonable to expect in terms of editor/publisher responsibility, not just on the front end (when publishing the ms) but afterward, in the aftermath of this kind of thing. How close, for example, is the relationship between author and editor, and how well does the editor know the author’s books and how closely are manuscripts read and edited — not line or copy editing, mind, you, but what I think of as that larger creative partnership between editor and author in which the editor participates in the refining of a book, especially in the early days of an author’s career. Obviously the author made her choices and decisions and is ultimately responsible for them. But I’d really like to think that if an editor came across some passages that felt off to her, she’d maybe take a closer look or ask the author about them — perhaps so that such a thing as was discovered on the SBs could be avoided.

    I think they would feel an obligation to stand by the author. The author signed a contract guaranteeing an original work, they have no reason to expect otherwise.

    But IMO there are ways to do this that don’t make a publisher sound disrespectful to the public it depends on to buy its products. For example, Gay Talese doled out that line of how James Frey represented things to her a certain way and she had no reason not to believe him. Signet could have merely said, ‘our authors contract with us that their work will be wholly original and we have had no reason to suspect otherwise. . .’ To play the shell game with fair use and plagiarism and to insist that “Edwards did nothing wrong” or however they worded it, strikes me as both bad spin and disrespectful to readers. IMO a publisher can absolutely stand by its author without doing what Signet did, and I’d hope that Signet’s IMO bad example is not the rule of these things. IMO it sounded dismissive of plagiarism, not merely supportive of Edwards.

  68. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 20:06:39

    But IMO there are ways to do this that don't make a publisher sound disrespectful to the public it depends on to buy its products.

    And that I can agree with. There are always ways to explain a viewpoint, a decision, etc and still show respect.

  69. Nora Roberts
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 20:31:04

    ~How close, for example, is the relationship between author and editor,~

    This completely depends on the author and the editor. There’s no way to generalize it, or give a rule of thumb. Every editor, every author has her own style, her own creative and/or professional process. And every relationship would depend on the people inside it.

    I know my editor doesn’t have the same relationship with every one of her authors. I know every author doesn’t have the same dynamic with her editor I have with mine.

    An editor may very well say this seems off to me–and an author is free to say, I want it left alone. It wouldn’t be my style to say so, but it’s a choice. And at the end of the day, the book belongs to the author.

    I agree that the initial statement from Signet was another poor choice. But they very shortly after issued another. At least the publisher stepped up and said we answered too quick, so to speak, and we’re taking another look.

    I really think that should be enough–until due diligence is complete. If they hadn’t come back with a second statement, I’d agree with you.

  70. Robin
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 20:43:17

    At least the publisher stepped up and said we answered too quick, so to speak, and we're taking another look.

    Yes, somebody did some quick thinking there, thankfully. In fact, I’m sure Dorchester and Kensington are grateful that Signet took so much of the initial heat (she says expectantly, eyebrows raised, looking in the general direction of New York, hoping for some type of response from the other two publishers).

  71. Sybil
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 21:16:56

    I haven’t read the comments yet or the posts other than this one, sorry if I repeat…

    You are missing ‘rabid fangrrl’. To me that fits your fangrrl. But I don’t think what you are taking about has anything to do with “What is a Fan?” or “What does a Fan owe the author?”

    The word is used in lieu of ‘naming names’ or pointing traffic to something you (as in the poster… whoever it is crusie, pbw, smith, so forth and so on) don’t like, approve of or whatever.

    In this case I think it generally, it has nothing to do with the discussion (CE) at hand as much as it does the posters dislike of the site or the people running it. Has any author really said, I think no one should have outed CE? I have yet to see a person post that CE shouldn’t have been outed or talked about (of course I haven’t been all over) but that they dislike the way it was done. That is subjective as hell and I STILL think, as in me me me, it has nothing to do with CE as much as getting a shot in at Dear Author, Smart Bitches, reader bloggers or whatever. In an underhanded way without saying THIS IS MY POINT.

    I have seen (paraphrased in sybilish of course):

    “Look at those meangrrl being bitchy again”

    “Look at those bloggers I hate, do things I don’t like, not that I GO THERE because I am better than that…”

    “I am not comfy with it being announced and convicting the author of the crime without more research and solid proof”

    “Those stupid attentionwhores, I hate them, who do they think they are, allow me to get some attention while I tell you how horrid they are but of course I am not an attentionwhore I just like to snark, it is craft when I do it damn it! They need lessons so they can be as superkewl as I am, I would tell you more about how clever I am but I must go play with teh pink.”

    “Watch me be clever and snarky while I dis those people who think they are clever and snarky. Really who do they think they are, me? They could never be as clever and snarky as I super author who doesn’t need to be commerical or famous. Stop being stupid ass readerbloggerfangrrls and get your ass over here to worship at MY blog… don’t make me light this match”

    “They have outed CE and it is being looked into, what could they possibly be doing other than trying to make themselves look good, tear down a poor ol lady and get more coverage”

    “Gosh seeing how horrid those meangrrls are is making me turn over a new leaf, it isn’t like I use to do the same thing and make authors cry, I was only about the book!!!”
    ——————————

    Out of all the posts I have seen, it has been one reader (holly @ book binge) who seemed to honestly have a question without an agenda of her own.

    Every other post I have seen about this, which I have to say I have seen very very few, are from the usual suspects. And they don’t like Dear Author. They don’t Jane or Robin or whoever. They don’t like the Smart Bitches.

    So really I think it has nothing to do with what a fan owes an author as much as don’t worry about it because no matter what you (or the bitches) had done it would have been wrong because they no, no, no like the format of Dear Author and/or Smart Bitches.

    Of course that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

  72. Brit Blaise
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 23:46:21

    Does owning Buffy and Spike action figures make me a fangirl? They were gifts! (and I love them so.)

    I guess it depends on just how much you love them. This is so rich…I’m imagining Nora with her action figures…I’m a fangirl, on occasion, and proud of it.

  73. Bethany
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 01:03:49

    Never posted here before, so this is a test.

  74. JB
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 01:59:21

    In the spirit of the Dear Author format, I'm going to address my comments to Deborah Smith.

    Dear Ms. Smith,

    I read your previous comments on this blog, as well as your comments yesterday on your Amazon blog, and I'm sincerely puzzled by them. You seem to be suggesting that the central issue here is the SB's uncovering of Cassie Edwards' plagiarism rather than the plagiarism itself. You then appear to criticize Nora Roberts for speaking out on this very serious issue.

    If you're now wondering if the basis of my comments to you stem from being a fan of Ms. Roberts, then let me say with full disclosure, yes, I absolutely am a fan of hers. I was 17 years old and just starting my life-long appreciation of the romance genre in 1981 when Irish Thoroughbred was released. I was one of those people who took a chance on an unknown author named Nora Roberts and bought that debut Silhouette title. And I'm so glad I did. She has taken me along with her on an incredible journey from the lush beauty of Ireland to California's Pacific coast to a magical island off the coast of New England to the Chesapeake Bay area to New York of the future. I'm fairly confident I've read everything she's ever published and I sincerely thank her for many, many hours of reading enjoyment.

    Before you dismiss my initial comments to you based on my appreciation of Ms. Roberts' body of work, let me add that I'm fairly confident that I've read everything that you've ever published, too. I love the voice you've given Mayor Ida in the Mossy Creek series. I found Charming Grace to be sad and poignant and ultimately uplifting. I cried my way through The Crossroads Café. I admired your treatment of the developmentally challenged Lily and Mac, and the impact their condition had on their daughter, in A Gentle Rain. Then there's my favorite, Sweet Hush. I recommend it often on Amazon's romance board (and I thank you for revisiting these characters and writing an online epilogue for them; it was wonderful to see Hush and Jakobek again… and even Edwina). And I'm truly delighted that you're writing a sequel to A Place to Call Home.

    So does that make me a Nora Roberts fangirl or a Deb Smith fangirl?

    Speaking as someone who admires your work, who thinks your southern-themed novels are a unique and satisfying addition to the genre, I'll return to my original point and say that I'm bewildered by your stance on the Cassie Edwards issue. I get that you object to the tone of the SBs and their history of with Ms. Edwards. But I don't understand how that outweighs the plagiarism issue. And I don't understand criticism of Ms. Roberts for speaking out against plagiarism. I'm just bewildered.

  75. Marly
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 03:51:49

    Jane asked: At what point should we (as opposed to do we) allow an author's online persona affect our reading?

    I'm a long term romance reader and an author. Before I became a published author, I sometimes wondered about the authors of my favorite books. I guess I thought of them as different somehow from me. Maybe in this cynical world, I really wanted them to be different. I wanted a small dash of magic. What's wrong with that?

    Books, art, music – all of these are acts of creation. I experience them and appreciate them in a very personal way that's unlike anything else. And I guess I want the creators, in some sense, to be as magical and as beautiful as the creation. When I see a painting that takes my breath away, I may wonder: who created this and how and why? It's human to be curious.

    On one level I know that a writer is simply a person who writes –and an author is simply a writer who is published. But some secret part of me wants to be dazzled. I want the storyteller to be a magician. I didn't want to know the “trick”. I want to believe and enjoy the illusion. I want the author to be personable or enjoyable or at the very least, not a jerk. Right or wrong, I want the reality without the “real”. lol

    Since becoming an author, I've interacted with many authors online and in real life. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I've seen all the levers and wires behind the curtain. I know how it's done, how the industry works, and just how wonderful and how awful authors can behave.

    I've been so turned off by the negative actions of some authors that I can't pick up one of their books without feeling entirely put off. I can't separate the person from the work anymore. My experience of the book is colored by what I know.

    When I read a book, I need to believe. I need the author to take me out of reality and into a fictional world. I have to make the leap from my world to the author's world. If I dislike the author intensely, I can't make the leap from reality into fiction. My impression of the author is stronger than his/her ability to draw me in. Reality is too strong and gets in the way of the story. It’s like being stuck in a movie theater with an obnoxious guy spouting idiotic comments two rows away the whole time. I can’t get past the distraction and enjoy the movie.

    I'm absolutely thrilled to make my living as an author. But part of me has mourned the sheer magic I felt as a reader with no knowledge of the industry or its personalities. I miss that. I wouldn't want to go back, but I do miss it.

    I do my best to walk that fine line of trying to promote my books online without turning off readers by being unprofessional or discourteous. Sometimes it's a pleasure. At other times I feel as if I'm on a nerve-racking job interview that lasts forever. lol

    In the end though, I think about that sense of magic and I'm careful. Maybe most readers don't give a flying flip about the author of a book. But for some readers, (like me), it does matter. So I walk that line carefully, trying to be myself and putting my best foot forward as a professional.

    Sometimes I make mistakes. But I try hard not to completely ruin that magical experience of jumping into another world and getting lost in the story. That's the bottom line for me. It's okay for authors and readers to get real and even personal–until it gets in the way of the author's ability to tell the story, or the readers' ability to believe it and enjoy it.

    (To sum up this horribly long post)

    If reality gets in the way of the way of a good story, then it’s a problem. The line is there and it matters. It's that pesky “walking it” part that's so darn tricky for all of us.

    heading back to Oz now lol

    –Marly the reader and writer

  76. SusanL
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 04:14:33

    Great post, JB. Everything you’ve written mirrors my own experiences with Ms Roberts and Ms Smith, as well as my own bewilderment.

  77. Nora Roberts
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 08:13:36

    ~she says expectantly, eyebrows raised, looking in the general direction of New York, hoping for some type of response from the other two publishers~

    We may want responses, but they’re not obliged to give them. They may, in fact, be advised by their legal department not to at this time.

  78. Nora Roberts
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 08:32:18

    I want to address the editor angle again, because editors have taken a lot of heat over the CE thing.

    I’ve worked with three publishing houses in my career, and in those houses with seven editors altogether.

    Three at Silhouette, though my closest and longest association was with the wonderful Isabel Swift.

    Two at Bantam.

    Two at Putnam/Berkley, though my closest and longest association has been with the fabulous Leslie Gelbman. (Don’t ever leave me, Les!)

    The dynamics, the relationship, the working style between me and every one of those seven editors was/is different. What I might be asked to do, how the editor might approach her editorial input, how we discuss the book or aspects of it. All different.

    It’s my style–almost always–to agree to suggested editorial changes. Almost comes in when I just can’t or don’t agree, and this is rare. The editor, imo, is usually right. And the editor will listen to my ‘I don’t think so’ because I’m not arguing every point, every time.

    This isn’t every writer’s style. And some editors are very hands-on, some are very hands-off. Some are essentially collaborators (NOT my style), some are tweakers and objective readers/critics. (THAT’s my style)Some may fall anywhere between–and it’s their job not just to try to make the book the best that writer can produce, but to respect the writer’s style.

    It isn’t their job to suspect and search out plagiarism. I think it is their job to report it if they happen to find it. (And in one of the cases where I was plagiarized, the report came from a senior editor, when the infringing book hit galley stage. The book was pulled from schedule, and cancelled.)

    Edwards’ books reached a loyal audience who appreciated her particular writing style. The editor did her job.

  79. Ann Aguirre » Blog Archive » Separation
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 09:43:13

    [...] been following the post over at Dear Author called What It Means to Be a Fan. I’ve read all the comments, many of which are thoughtful and well-considered. But I’m [...]

  80. DS
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 10:30:43

    I was trying to think where I developed the idea that the editor was the author’s guide and almost co-author. I think it comes from reading literary biographies of many early to mid-20th century authors such as Tom Wolfe (the Look Homeward Angel TW) where often a particular editor is given part of the credit for helping to guide and develop a talent.

    I think I’ve been disillusioned a little.

  81. Nora Roberts
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 10:43:14

    ~I think I've been disillusioned a little.~

    I’m really sorry if this is so.

    My editor is a key person in my career–professionally and creatively. I very much respect and value her. I want her editorial input, and depending on the situation, I want her guidance. My opinion is every writer needs an editor (whether they think so or not.)

    But I don’t want a co-author.

    Others may, and that’s just fine.

  82. mary beth
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 10:58:05

    Wow, I call myself a fangirl all the time of Deborah Smith, Margot Early, Karen Templeton, and JD Robb. Doesn’t matter what they write, I put it in my shopping cart at Wal-Mart or Amazon or e-Harlequin. :-)
    The interesting thing to me is seeing how many people can’t separate the author from the book. I don’t know any of the four authors I mentioned above. The only one I’d recognize if I passed in a bar is Nora and that’s only because she’s so visible. I don’t look at the personal opinions I read from these authors as tied in any way to their books. Of course, I’ve never felt like their words were personal attacks–I’m sure that would change everything.
    You know, there’s nothing wrong with debate and discussion. It demands people learn to defend their positions and it makes sure all positions are being covered. In the end it leads to greater understanding. It’s not going to change the minds of those firmly encamped on either side, but the majority of those somewhere in the middle are able to make informed decisions.
    As a fangirl of the four authors mentioned above, I’d definitely jump in and say I LOVED book “XYZ” (if I did) and explain why if someone wrote they hated it, but I wouldn’t hate the reviewer for their opinion.

  83. Robin
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 12:13:04

    Okay, off topic, I know, but that cat is just so perfect for how I’ve been feeling lately that I keep clicking back to this post just to get the laugh when I see that picture and caption.

  84. azteclady
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 12:56:54

    Robin, I have been wanting to say something about the cat since the post came online. He just looks so disgruntled, doesn’t he?

  85. JC Wilder
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 15:28:19

    I am constantly amazed by the authors and readers who complain about the SB site uncovering the issues with CE’s book. What was the bigger crime, CE copying the work of another or someone catching her?

    One reason people would defend her is they don’t want to believe she’d do that. There is a level of trust between the author and reader that comes from someone shelling out their money to buy a book then spending x number of hours reading it. The reader trusts the author to tell them a good story and when they realize it wasn’t completely from the author, that trust is violated.

    But wrong is still wrong.

  86. Patricia Rice
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 19:24:01

    1) I thoroughly agree with the person who objected to labels. Labels narrow our thinking.
    2) I do wish it were possible to separate book from author much as I’d like it if people would not worship movie stars because of the roles they play. The author is not their book. Books are works of fiction. I might kill people in my books, but I only think about it in real life. If I enjoy a person’s writing, I would prefer not let the author’s personality mar my enjoyment. I wish I ruled the world.
    3) Plagiarism is wrong. As an author, I view it as theft and a personal violation. Every author I know believes the same, and I know a LOT of authors. But we’re not saints, we have friends, we go off on weird tangents, and really, we’re not worth worshipping. Read our books. They’re better edited than our rants. Including this one.
    4) Please, everyone, stop blaming the editors. The book is the responsibility of the author. The editors did not research or write the books, they merely edited out bad grammar, questioned conflicts or pacing, and passed it on while juggling all the other business aspects that clutter their desks. They’re probably closer to saints than writers.
    5) Thank you for this intelligent discussion on a higher level than seems to be going on elsewhere. Let’s prove romance readers (and authors) aren’t the raving lunatics the media would like to show us as.

  87. Patricia Rice
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 20:07:44

    Okay, that’s what I get for typing after my brain has gone to bed. I did not mean in any way, shape, or form by #2 above that one should forgive an author’s plagiarism and read their books if you like them. I was referring to books in general and authors in general. Obviously, CE is not one of the authors I know or read. Obviously, I don’t recommend buying or reading stolen property.

  88. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 20:19:41

    I might kill people in my books, but I only think about it in real life.

    Would you consider making this into a bumper sticker?

  89. LinM
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 20:55:28

    #
    ~she says expectantly, eyebrows raised, looking in the general direction of New York, hoping for some type of response from the other two publishers~

    We may want responses, but they're not obliged to give them. They may, in fact, be advised by their legal department not to at this time.
    #

    Not commenting may be the safest legal option but it doesn’t do much for the public image. One of the new books on Fictionwise today is a Kensington re-release of a Cassie Edwards title. The SBTB’s pdf document doesn’t list any instances of plagiarism in this book but I was shocked to see it on a new release list. I am angry because of the absence of any kind of statement from this publisher. Kensington now has a reputation in my mind: their ebook department publishes Janet Dailey and Cassie Edwards; and faced with serious queries, they are absolutely silent.

    I have never been able to decide how I feel about Kensington’s decision to publish Janet Dailey. I will never read her books again but I don’t know if a plagiarism conviction should be a life sentence. (13 books?? I definitely will never read her books again).

    But I do know how I have reacted to the lack of any kind of statement from Kensington. Given their release of a CE ebook this week, the lack of even a general comment strikes me as sloppy, second-rate and very bad public relations.

  90. Nora Roberts
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 20:59:30

    ~But I do know how I have reacted to the lack of any kind of statement from Kensington. Given their release of a CE ebook this week, the lack of even a general comment strikes me as sloppy, second-rate and very bad public relations.~

    I heard you, and can’t disagree.

  91. Shannon Stacey
    Jan 21, 2008 @ 23:41:37

    I think Kensington’s in much more of a bind as far as making a statement because they already publish a notorious plagiarist. Any repurcussions against one would effect not only the one but rather two of their “bread & butter” authors, or at the very least open them to some very unsavory questions. I’m guessing they’ve got the corner of the rug propped up, praying for a broom.

  92. Robin
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 02:32:00

    Kensington publishes one of my very favorite authors, Jo Goodman, but to reissue that Edwards book now, of all times, makes me think they perhaps are not paying attention? And, perhaps, they need to be?

  93. MaryK
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 02:45:11

    So, Nora,

    JD – robb?!?

    LMAO!!

    I may have to start buying you new! [Oh no, does this make me a fangirl?]

    Seriously,

    There are other individuals who justify and excuse away criticisms of Author X's books. These individuals have clearly made the distinction between author and work, but the work is unassailable. These are the individuals I would label as fangirls.

    Yeah, this is my brand of fangirl. I definitely tend to be an apologist for my autobuy authors. And, in their case, it does have more to do with their talent and voice than with any particular book. I try not to find out too much about those authors’ personal lives out of fear I’ll find out their siren song is leading me someplace I don’t want to go.

  94. Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary » Blog Archive » Defining the Meaning of Plagiarism for the Fiction Community
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 04:00:41

    [...] articulated something very meaningful in the comments yesterday about plagiarism. She said: Now to me, it seems pretty obvious that if something is important enough to put into your book, [...]

  95. Nora Roberts
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 07:59:54

    JD – robb?!?

    Man! How could I have missed that one all these years? LOL!

    I seriously love this!

  96. Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary » Blog Archive » YA Honor of Orson Scott Card Controversial in Light of Anti-Homosexuality Statements
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 09:11:32

    [...] is especially thought provoking given the discussion on Sunday about separating the author from the author’s [...]

  97. Layne
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 00:41:45

    The CE story has conjured up a lot of emotion among readers, but the truth is simple: publishing is a BUSINESS and in the end, it won’t matter if CE plagiarized Jesus himself, as long as her books continue to sell, the publishers are going to release them. Kensington is keeping quiet because they know this controversy will blow over and disappear (as all scandals do), and they’re not going to throw away a “cash cow” – no matter how many bloggers protest.

    Plus, this situation has given CE a lot of press and the downside of that is, she will probably sell MORE books now, not LESS.

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