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You Have to Prove I am a MeanGirl

dood-why-u-gota-be-so-mean.jpg

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.

William Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, scene iii.

When I started writing about defamation a couple of weeks ago, I quickly realized that it was much too complicated of a topic to stuff into one large blog post. It’s not just complicated but it is also confusing with technical issues that can make or break a case but are not easily understood.

One major element of a defamation case is determining if the defamation is "per se" or "per quod". The easiest case to prove is the defamation per se. The hardest, by contrast, is defamation per quod. Here’s the difference in pratical terms. The courts have decided that there is a certain set of words that is just so bad that just merely uttering the words aloud in front of someone other than the Unhappy Person (or printing them), that the reputation of the Unhappy Person must be damaged. Those words are known as "defamation per se." All other words are "defamation per quod." The application of the difference is in what the Unhappy Person must prove to be successful.

Burden of Proof

Let me back up here for a minute. In every lawsuit, the Unhappy Person bears the "burden of proof". When an Unhappy Person files a lawsuit, she essentially says to the court, "I’ve been wronged. MeanGirl did X to me. Because of MeanGirl doing X, I incurred damages. I deserve compensation." These are called the elements of a cause of action and the Unhappy Person has to prove each and every element by a "preponderance of the evidence." If you view the scales of justice, preponderance of the evidence is tipping the scales just slightly in one direction. In a civil case, for almost every element, Unhappy Person needs to prove each element just by the "greater weight of the evidence."

The "burden of proof" is different in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the State/City/County (Unhappy Bunch of People represented by one) must prove each and every element "beyond a reasonable doubt." (not beyond a shadow of doubt as many people think. Beyond a shadow of a doubt is a much tougher standard than beyond a "reasonable doubt". In other words, you can have unreasonable doubts and still find a person " guilty" whereas if the standard is "beyond a shadow of doubt" you would have to find the person not guilty.) Not to get off track here, but there is no standard called "beyond a shadow of doubt." That is purely a fictional creation.

Differences in Proof

Back to the difference between defamation per se and per quod. In a defamation per quod case, the Unhappy Person has to prove alot more elements.

Defamation Per Se Defamation Per Quod
MeanGirl made the statement MeanGirl made the statement
To someone other than the Unhappy Person To someone other than the Unhappy Person
  The statement was false
  The statement was made with malice
  The statement defamed the Unhappy Person*
  The statement caused damage
  The amount of the damage

The court usually determines that the statement is defamatory per se so that isn’t an element that you have to prove. In a defamation per quod case, the jury decides if the statement actually is defamatory. The Unhappy Person must prove it. Also and most importantly, in a defamation per quod case, the Unhappy Person must show what is called "special damages." In the law, special damages are pecuniary or monetary losses incurred as a result of the or because of the defamation. If there is no monetary or pecuniary loss stated specifically (i.e., Unhappy Person failed to sell 2500 books as a result of the defamatory statements made by MeanGirl reviewer), the Unhappy Person won’t even be allowed to proceed with the suit. The judge will dismiss it even if the statement was defamatory.

Emotional or physical harms are not considered to be "special damages" so if someone’s feelings are hurt, even to the extent that it causes sleepless nights or loss of weight or mental anguish, if there is no corresponding "pecuniary" loss, the Unhappy Person is out of luck. The Unhappy Person bears the "burden of proof" of showing the connection between the statement and the loss. For example, in the Lee case, she would have to show that any loss of profits were because of malicious and false statements made about her when the loss of profits could easily be attributable to her refusal to remove the copied material; her threats of lawsuits; her threats of negative statements made to the press; and so forth.

Defamation Per Se

Defamation per se is generally statements made in four broad categories. Statements made to a third party which impute one or more of the following are considered to be defamatory per se:

  • criminal conduct (can’t be a traffic violation or a crime punishable by a fine but can be suggesting someone beats their wife, is a pedophile, driving while drunk, tried to kill someone, i.e., attempted murder)
  • loathsome disease (HIV or other sexually transmitted disease)
  • misconduct in one’s trade, profession or office, or (engaged in plagiarism, taking money as a bribe; sleeping with a client; or a single mistake that suggests a habitual course of conduct)
  • sexual misconduct (some states define this as applying to women, i.e., a woman who is unchaste, but could be anyone engaging in adultery, even sleeping around or engaging in whorish behavior)

The Balance

In the suit of Ramsey v. Fox News Network, Inc., 351 F.Supp.2d 1145 (D. Colo. 2005), the family of Jon Benet Ramsey brought a defamation suit against Fox News for news reports that the Ramseys characterized as suggesting the Ramsey family could be responsible for the murder of the young girl. The court dismissed the suit on the basis that the statements made by Fox News were not defamation per se. The statements in question were primarily the comments made by reporter Carol McKinley:

Detectives say they have had good reason to suspect the Ramseys. The couple and JonBenà©t’s nine year old brother, Burke, were the only known people in the house the night she was killed. JonBenà©t had been strangled, bludgeoned and sexually assaulted, most likely from one of her mother’s paintbrushes. The longest ransom note most experts have ever seen-three pages-was left behind. Whomever killed her spent a long time in the family home, yet there has never been any evidence to link an intruder to her brutal murder.

In dismissing the case, the court quoted the piece from Othella and recognized that the reputation of a person is a precious and valuable entity; however, when weighed against the Constitutional protection of free speech and the importance of free speech concluded as follows:

These constitutional protections are not just for broadcast media. Indeed, free speech itself acts as a check on the media. For example, in our current technologically-advanced era anyone can get on the internet, become a self-proclaimed journalist or pundit and draw a worldwide audience. Webloggers can in a matter of hours point out key errors in reporting by mainstream media outlets. When people have the means and expertise to generally publish fair and perhaps insightful comments quickly and easily on matters of public concern, such as what a crime scene reveals or does not reveal, law enforcement and the rest of us may benefit. The robust protections guaranteed by the First Amendment thus remain as important and valuable as ever.


Plaintiffs may well have filed this case more for vindication than for money, and perhaps vindication is what they deserve. But they have a better chance for meaningful vindication in the court of public opinion through vigorous debate about the background and details of this heinous crime than by suing those whose reporting may arguably include some less than favorable inferences about them. Plaintiffs cannot have the public discourse playing field entirely to themselves.

Id. at 1154.

Next week I’ll address the media defendant, of and concerning a public matter, and malice.

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

122 Comments

  1. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 05:58:00

    It’s wwwwwaaaayyyyy too early for my brain to process most of that without some caffeine. Going to come back later after I forced myself into wakefulness.

    But in case I forget to come back later, Jane… that kitten is just so pitiful.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 06:21:05

    Now, I actually understood this post and I read it with only 1/2 a cup of caffeine floating around in my veins. Woot!

    ReplyReply

  3. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 06:38:10

    I’m agreeing with Shiloh. That kitten steals the blog. *G*

    Actually, another great post. Thanks so much for taking the time to spell this out.

    ReplyReply

  4. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:01:19

    The law’s pretty twisty, even when so articulately explained.

    But anybody who’s mean to the kitten deserves time in the slam.

    Nora

    ReplyReply

  5. jmc
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:13:41

    Whenever asked toquantify a preponderance of the evidence, one evidence prof would define it as “50% plus a camel hair”. Which seemed to perplex some students even more: a camel hair, what’s a camel hair have to do with anything?

    And what is wrong with that kitten? Its head is HUGE and its face is squished. Is that all just fur, or is it a mutant kitten?

    ReplyReply

  6. ilona andrews
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:17:08

    OMG, teh kitty!

    :faints from cute:

    :unable to read post:

    ReplyReply

  7. Lorelie
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:17:43

    So if you said to your boss, about a new candidate, “Don’t hire her, she slept with her last client at our old firm.” That’s per se if it’s untrue right? But what if you don’t know for sure she slept with her client, you just have a pretty good idea.

    ReplyReply

  8. Heather Holland
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:18:41

    Another great post, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  9. Janine
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:41:19

    I thought this one was very clear. I especially liked the two columns. And that kitten is too cute for words.

    ReplyReply

  10. Gennita Low
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 07:59:54

    Nora, you can’t torture a puppy and then get all softie over the a purry kitty!

    You’re a mean girl.

    ReplyReply

  11. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:02:14

    I am a mean girl, but the crazy/sad eyes of the kitten have looked into my soul. It’s kind of creepy, actually.

    ReplyReply

  12. Jane
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:04:07

    Lorelie – Yes, I think that statement is defamatory per se under the idea that it imputes not only immoral conduct but also unethical conduct strictly prohibited by the code of professional conduct. The MeanGirl has to prove that it is true. Truth is an affirmative defense which must be pled and then proved by the person making the utterance.

    ReplyReply

  13. Leeann Burke
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:05:54

    I have to say the kitten caught my eye but your blog is what kept me reading (as it always does). Great information.

    ReplyReply

  14. Anne
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:17:04

    The kitten kinda looks like a furby to me. Remember those? Pretty kitty.

    ReplyReply

  15. kardis
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:38:04

    That was very informative, and I think I was awake enough to follow it (or too asleep to realize it was over my head!). That kitten may actually have startled me out of my sleep fog- terrifying!

    ReplyReply

  16. Sharron McClellan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 08:43:51

    Jane,

    I’m a lurker but I wanted to say:
    1. Thank you for all the information. I’ve been reading all the blogs regarding this subject and I think I even understand it. Thanks!
    2 That kitten’s noggin is HUGE! Cute and creepy.

    Sharron

    ReplyReply

  17. Keishon
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:25:35

    Very interesting, thanks.

    (from someone who doesn’t read law stuff)

    ReplyReply

  18. Jackie
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:39:21

    Neat stuff. Lesson learned: Don’t call anyone “mean,” ever. Even if they really are. Too much work to prove. It’s easier just to be nice, and keep mean thoughts silent. See? It’s not so much about the nice — it’s about the lazy. I’m too lazy to be mean. Hey — does this mean laziness is a virtue?

    (Anne: FURBYS? Ugh, NO, NO, NO. Bad enough my kids are into Pokemon now… )

    ReplyReply

  19. Jackie
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:41:03

    [That was not supposed to be a winking smiley face. Nothing about Pokemon makes me want to wink. Maybe it makes my eye twitch, but that's something else entirely. Er. Carry on...]

    ReplyReply

  20. Every Legal Post
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:42:43

    Going to keep asking. Jane, are you a lawyer?

    ReplyReply

  21. Every Legal Post
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 09:45:41

    Going to keep asking. Jane, are you a lawyer? (P.S. nice try at moderating comments.)

    ReplyReply

  22. Janine
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 10:19:55

    Going to keep asking. Jane, are you a lawyer? (P.S. nice try at moderating comments.)

    Jane has already answered the question.

    Now please, enough with the trolling. This question has been answered, and we are not going to respond to it anymore.

    ReplyReply

  23. Legal Troll Wants to Know
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 10:44:55

    Would anyone care to feed the troll long enough to find the post where Jane affirmatively states \”I am at attorney-at-law\” or \”I am a lawyer.\” The troll is hungry and has a delicate digestive system that can only be satisfied by truffles and affirmative statements by Jane Litte that she is indeed an attorney.

    The troll thanks you. Carry on.

    ReplyReply

  24. Gennita Low
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 10:57:34

    Actually, Jane is a roofer. That’s why we like to discuss writerly topics on her blog and not yours. Now go back Underground, troll.

    Question to Jane: So those lawsuits won by famous personalities against The Enquirer, for example–would that be per se or per quod?

    ReplyReply

  25. KendraW
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:22:39

    I’ve been lurking around here for quite a while and I just have one question about this topic.

    You put accusing someone of plagiarism under the whole per se section, so does that mean that if you accuse someone of plagiarism you have to have proof that they did plagiarize? And would they have a good lawsuit if you didn’t have proof?

    Thanks for this series of articles. They’ve been amazingly informative.

    ReplyReply

  26. Jan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:25:05

    *yawn*

    Holy freakin’ #$*! What the heck is that animal in the picture? I want to see a DNA test of that thing. It out-bigeye’s my manga! Yeesh.

    I thought that news report was just reporting what the detectives said. Can you get successfully sued for repeating someone else’s “defamation” as news? If A said B was a drug dealer, and then C said “A said B was a drug dealer.”?

    ReplyReply

  27. Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:26:54

    The troll thanks you. Carry on.

    Hi Ferfe

    ReplyReply

  28. Jill Myles
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:29:30

    Hey Troll, actually, it’s not moderation – your comments get stuck in a spam filter. Mine do too when I post from a different email address and I had to request to be ‘unstuck’.

    ReplyReply

  29. raine
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:29:40

    Okay now really–anybody who posts a picture like that just CAN’T be a mean girl.
    Awwwwandisn’thimjustthecutestwittlething!

    ReplyReply

  30. Michelle
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:32:14

    I want that kitten-how could you have a bad day with that face to greet you?

    So is it defamation when ferfe and her cohorts were calling Jane just a secretary, janitor or a UPS worker? I haven’t gone back to their blog so I am not sure whether they took the post down. But I think the above comments are actually insults to Trolls. They aren’t even trying to be cute, clever or devious-just PATHETIC.

    Nora-oh wise one-could you reiterate why it is not in someone’s professional interest to be a writer and publicly mock and insult others-or should the persons editor/keeper explain to them about turning off future readers.

    ReplyReply

  31. Jan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:35:30

    You’re quite right, Jill. My own comments regularly get stuck in that filter. It’s annoying, but the thing does stop a ton of spam.

    ReplyReply

  32. Eva Gale
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:40:49

    You know, when you guys accuse Ferfe of all the troll posts we laugh to kill ourselves. Jane’s banned Ferfe from posting. Every post of hers has been “spammed”. Funny, that. And Ferfe would never be a troll. It’s not her style.

    Back to the lawyer question. Actually I would love to know too. If you can link to where Jane states that yes, she is a laywer, I would have a little bit more respect for the posts. Especially since you can take the time to look up cases, but not a post? You can get all kinds of advice from hacks these days online. Gotta be careful. ;-)

    ReplyReply

  33. Gennita Low
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:44:42

    According to Robin’s link(27), Ferfe insinuated Jane is a demon as well. UPS worker…really?

    Hmm, that kitty does look sorta demonic….

    ReplyReply

  34. Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:53:51

    According to Robin's link(27), Ferfe insinuated Jane is a demon as well. UPS worker…really?

    Unfortunately, the cached page didn’t pick up all 55 comments to the post (including the one where Ferfe publicly outs herself as the “troll” ). I think the final consensus was that Jane is a paralegal or a SAHM.

    ReplyReply

  35. Jan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:04:16

    SAHM?? Satanic Administrator of Hell’s Minions? I KNEW it.

    ReplyReply

  36. Eva Gale
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:04:38

    Yes, too bad, becuase I think you misunderstood Ferfe’s sarcasm. Hard to pick out even when you’re talking to her too, unless you know her. It’s all deadpan dry. But hey! You’re keeping up with the blog! I’ll pass it on.

    Yes, Ann, who actually IS a lawyer, commented that a paralegal would be able to post what Jane has been offering as advice.

    Too bad Ferfe is blocked, I’m sure she could answer all these herself. But *scratches head* she got blocked AFTER asking if Jane was an actual lawyer.

    Any cop will tell you-there is no such thing as coincidence.

    ReplyReply

  37. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:17:36

    I believe I was the one–during the last discussion–who said I considered Ferfe a troll. I would be happy to say that I consider her a sock/troll at this point. If I popped up on her blog with snide remarks, or under a guise, I would consider myself the same. I thought that was the definition. Maybe I’m mistaken.

    I do know that obsessing about another blogger to this extent, and interrupting a discussion again and again with the obsession strikes me as very odd behavior.

    ReplyReply

  38. Gennita Low
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:27:47

    I geddit now. Ferfe over there is also misunderstanding Jane’s and Robin’s dry sarcasm.

    Robin, I just found that cache page with the 55 posts, where Ferfe also called one of hers as a “Robin-of-a-1000 word post.” I also think I understand why she doesn’t like Jane; she blames Jane for the “co-ordinated”, three blog, five blogger extravaganza dedicated to cutting and pasting everything I've (she’d) ever posted on line.” Shoot, I just did that myself. My dry sarcasm is coming out too, darnit.

    ReplyReply

  39. bam
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:30:26

    goddamn, that kitty is cute.

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

    ReplyReply

  40. Eva Gale
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:30:31

    Nora, Congratulations on the Quill win.

    I think the only reason Ferfe came over here was because she very much respects Monica, and she was horrified at what she was reading. I don’t believe Ferfe actually hijacked that particular thread. For the most part none of us read these blogs anymore. But someone said Monica was taking a beating.

    The only question I brought up was if Jane was, indeed, a lawyer. That is all. No socks, no trolls. Just a question.

    I, personally like to know that my professional advice is coming from an actual professional in the field.

    And like I said, since Ferfe was banned when she asked if Jane was a lawyer…

    ReplyReply

  41. Anji
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:31:18

    Well, I’m not going to waste my time or energy on trollage and all that, and I’m just going to ignore all those posts.

    The more important part is the really useful and interesting information on defamation, and I’d hate for the discussion of that information to get derailed by trollage or sock puppet-age. Thanks for the series of posts, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  42. FerfeLabat
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:32:17

    Let’s see if this gets through. Last time I checked, my IP’s were being blocked.

    Why am I being accused of this? I asked Jane ONCE in response to her dissing me for NOT being a lawyer. She never answered. I interpret that to mean she is not a lawyer herself. End of.

    That is not me hammering at Jane to man up and come clean. I am satisfied with the non-answer. I do not EVER post as someone else. Call me many things but sock puppet I am not.

    And yes. I do thing Jane is a demon. Sue me.

    ReplyReply

  43. Jan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:34:30

    Yes, Ann, who actually IS a lawyer, commented that a paralegal would be able to post what Jane has been offering as advice.

    Then again, so would a lawyer…

    Occam’s razor is worth noting. As is the corollary that generally when a conspiracy theory is set forth, none is truly needed to actually explain events.

    ReplyReply

  44. Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:37:28

    All of Ferfe’s posts except for the one where she suggests Monica was on crack (the one in the cached post) have gone through.

    As for these columns, Jane is not dispensing any legal advice. I would assume that any attorney would know that.

    ReplyReply

  45. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:17:26

    Daggone it. I had this wonderful, witty post and when I tried to post it, it got eaten. Well, maybe it wasn’t all the wonderful and witty. But I’m going to try again. BTW, is the blog loading weird for others or is it just me?

    Anybody that’s picking on that kitten… man, you’re being so mean! So what if it’s kinda weird looking… it’s so pitiful it’s cute. Picking on a kitty… so mean. Mean! :P

    Also going to throw some lighter fluid on the troll fire.

    Jane is just explaining legal terms. I don’t see why some people are getting so down on her about that.

    Do I think she’s a lawyer? Yep. Am I considering what she says to be legal advice? Nope. If I need legal advice, I’m going to get legal advice by contacting an attorney in my state and preferably one who specializes in whatever problem I’m having.

    And personally, it’s my opinion that if you are taking this as legal advice, you need to do the smart thing and get legal representation if you think this advice is something you need. Jane’s offering explanations… not advice. There’s a huge difference.

    An example…. say you want to know what ear infections are. I can explain that to you. Spent years in pediatric nursing, so I can explain what it is… what causes them…what the signs and symptoms are. But that explanation is NOT medical advice and it isn’t treatment.

    Jane’s explaining… not advising.

    More, there could easily be people out there who if they knew deets about Jane’s professional life could try to manipulate things to appear as though Jane was offering them legal advice.

    Jane could easily stand up and say, YES I AM A LAWYER but I’d wager some won’t be satisfied with just that statement. They’d want proof. Only way to give that proof is by giving her legal credentials and in my opinion, that would be a dumb ass thing to do on Jane’s part. I certainly am not going to give out my licensing information on the web. Almost as foolish as posting my social security number.

    Jane doesn’t strike me as the dumb sort and it could be why she’s not addressing some of these very persistent questions. Even if she did answer, it would be back to square one again only instead of ARE YOU A LAWYER… it would be… PROVE YOU ARE A LAWYER AND MAYBE I’LL LISTEN TO YOU.

    Jane doesn’t owe that information to any of us. She’s not offering legal advice. Don’t take it as such.

    I can see very well why she is ignoring these questions. It seems to me that some people are poking at her just to poke and even if she presented proof, they’d still find something to poke at. In her shoes, I’d ignore them just for the hell of it. But I’ve always been told that I’m a difficult sort.

    And again…I gotta say it…

    Actually, Jane is a roofer. That's why we like to discuss writerly topics on her blog and not yours. Now go back Underground, troll.

    I adore Gennita. Gennita, because my steadfast adoration, I’ll have you know I hit the bookstore today just find a book of yours. Haven’t read you before, but I got a feeling I’m going to love your books.

    And people… quit picking on the kitty. He looks like he’s been picked on enough. ;)

    ReplyReply

  46. Jane
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:28:06

    Gennita – The suits against National Enquirer can be either but the Unhappy Person has to prove “malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” if the statements were false.

    Kendra – No, truth is always a defense so if someone did plagiarize and the statement that they did it would not be defamation. It could not be defamatory, by definition.

    If you do not have proof, then it could be defamatory. There are alot of other factors to consider.

    Gennita – calling someone a demon or a secretary, janitor, UPS worker is probably considered opinion.

    ReplyReply

  47. FerfeLabat
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:31:25

    Occam's razor? It's a simple yes or no question. And. I only asked because she made a big deal out of it to me and someone else. There's absolutely nothing wrong with talking law on your website if you are in the business in some way or just love the subject. But if you are going to belittle people because they are NOT lawyers, then I think you need to present your own credentials to back that up.
    .
    I'm over the lawyer issue.
    .
    I object to being called a sock puppet. That's all. Obviously you can go to my website and research the history elsewhere to see that I say what I think under my own name. Jane Litte? Is not even a real name as far as I can tell. So when you compare honesty, keep that in mind at least.

    Robin – you have not seen me characterize what Jane has been posting under the label “legal advice”. Others have. I think she’s just talking law. How would you know what posts of mine have been killed off. Unless you are an admin for Dear Author you couldn’t know. And I am not faulting Jane for moderating my posts. I SHOULD be moderated. Quite a few people should be moderated. I am all for it. Just don’t say you are not when you ARE. Of this entire crew if you have at least been honest and straight on the issues. Don’t go bailing on me now. I may not like you very much but I respect you.

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  48. Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:37:16

    I do not EVER post as someone else. Call me many things but sock puppet I am not.

    Okay. If you say so. Frankly, I think most of the stuff being said by you and others in those two recent blog posts you did on Jane came off as far worse than trolling anonymously, anyway.

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  49. Laura
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:37:53

    OK, This isn’t intended to pour water on the EZ-Grow Troll Kit……but who IS Ferfe LeBat anyway? As best as I can tell, she wants to be an author?

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  50. Jackie L.
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:46:30

    Jane, even if you are a demon or a secretary or UPS worker, you are a SMART demon, etc. Thanks for the info. I hope despite hijacking and, er, trolls, you will continue the series.

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  51. FerfeLabat
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 14:52:19

    Laura and everyone else – for the last time – I am not hiding who I am. Jane Litte may be a pseudonym. No one knows who Robin really is, but of everyone here, I am one of the few about whom you can easily find out anything you want. I am not even trying to hijack this thread. I was pounced FIRST and decided to defend myself. A mistake? Definitely.

    ReplyReply

  52. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:06:22

    Shiloh, yep, there you go. Oh yeah, let’s everybody post their professional credentials on line for all the world to see.

    And, of course, everyone who blogs does so under their legal name.

    Hint: Opinions, explanations and discussions of law and legal issues are not legal advice.

    It seems as if the people who comment here enjoy or are interested in these discussions. It also seems if the discussions irritate someone, or someone’s irked by the person who opens the discussion, they’d be better off staying away.

    Coming back to poke just makes the poker look foolish. Continued poking edges over into the pathetic.

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  53. Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:07:37

    How would you know what posts of mine have been killed off. Unless you are an admin for Dear Author you couldn't know. And I am not faulting Jane for moderating my posts. I SHOULD be moderated. Quite a few people should be moderated. I am all for it.

    Well, I am an admin for DA; in fact, I’ve had to take myself and others out of the spam filter numerous times. As for moderation, DA didn’t moderate at the time of the Brenna Lyons post (Lyons got caught in the spam filter — I have yet to understand the rhyme or reason of that thing, frankly, but all of her comments were released when someone finally checked the thing — we don’t always remember, and in fact, I hardly ever do except when my comment disappears or when someone complains that their comment has). But when the race posts started, the thread became so incendiary that Jane wanted to make sure that there would be no name calling, etc. And Jane warned everyone that she would start deleting posts not on topic, anyway, which I know she hates the thought of, and finally, couldn’t do to legitimate comments because of the importance of the topic and assuming people weren’t trying to blow the thread up. Which is why that one post of yours about crack didn’t go through. The rest did.

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  54. FerfeLabat
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:14:30

    Last try and then I’m done. Let’s say I posted something about writing and Nora Roberts jumped me because what I said was just plain wrong or ill informed by saying “Are YOU a writer?” Let’s say I didn’t know that Nora was, in fact, a writer. It’s a natural reaction to ask, “Are you a writer?” Back. And she should be able to answer quite quickly “YES!” End of discussion. I would take Jane’s word for it if she answered, “YES. I am a lawyer.” I’m not asking where she went to college or even what state she practices in. She’s not working for the CIA (I don’t think.) It was a basic question in response to a taunt. Do you think that it was out of line? I’m not asking for her home address. And if I did she shouldn’t have a problem giving it after posting all of the Triskellion authors names and home addresses.

    I thought we agreed not to talk to each other. I was happy with that. Let’s go back to it.

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  55. Michelle
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:20:26

    Derailing the thread again, but I have a question for people in the know about publishing. Do editors, and agents google writers before accepting them as clients? Also once they are clients do they keep tabs on them. I mean there seems to be a lot of authors shooting themselves in the foot by their online antics. I know in other fields people are losing their jobs for questionable online activity (teachers/police etc.)?

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  56. Janet/Robin
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:21:04

    Oh yeah, let's everybody post their professional credentials on line for all the world to see.

    And, of course, everyone who blogs does so under their legal name.

    Jane hasn’t misrepresented herself at all, and as I said originally, if you read the blog regularly or closely, IMO it wouldn’t even be a question. But she certainly doesn’t owe anyone, IMO, personal information on arbitrary demand, especially when it doesn’t matter either way, when it comes anonymously, or when it comes in the aftermath of ad hominem blog posts.

    But anyway, not everyone who blogs without their name, rank, and serial number does so because they are trying to hide something. Some of us would simply like to keep our blogging persona separate from our professional persona for privacy issues that have NOTHING to do with ethical violations or lack of honesty, etc. Just as many authors don’t write under their legal names or whole legal names or whatever. No one cries foul over that, regardless of how popular the author is or isn’t.

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  57. Jan
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:21:38

    Occam's razor? It's a simple yes or no question.

    I wasn’t responding to you (as can be seen from the quote I referenced). Though it’s something everyone could stand to think about.

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  58. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:23:13

    Did I somewhere indicate in my post I was speaking TO Ferfe and not merely ABOUT her? And expressing my opinion on behavior and so on?

    Nope, just read my comment over again. Nothing addressed to her.

    In fact, I believe I was addressing Shiloh, by name, and the commentaries at large. Still am.

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  59. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:25:19

    Janet, I was trying for that dry sarcasm.

    In case I should clarify, I agree with everything you just posted.

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  60. ilona andrews
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:27:53

    Michelle,

    Can’t speak for editors, but yes, my agent googled me, checked my amazon rank, read reviews, pulled my sales numbers from Bookscan, etc. Whether she would have declined to represent me if I had a lot of negative publicity in terms of what I said and how I presented myself I can’t answer.

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  61. FerfeLabat
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:29:44

    No, Michelle. I do not have a keeper. ;-) The position is open, but I am a tough client to contain. I will, however, call it a day. You have seen enough of how I “sound” in text to hopefully believe that I have not been using sock puppets to badger Jane about her legal credentials. That wasn’t me. I asked once. Just. Once. As to everything else, no one’s going to give a straight response so it’s a waste of everyone’s time to continue. Must be a lawyer thing.

    Congratulations on being an Admin, Robin. I did not think you had your own website. I feel better knowing that you do for some weird reason.

    As you were.

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  62. Janet
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:31:42

    Whether she would have declined to represent me if I had a lot of negative publicity in terms of what I said and how I presented myself I can't answer.

    I’ve read the comments of several editors who have said publicly that that won’t take on an author who speaks badly of other authors, but I don’t know if that extends to speaking badly of readers, too.

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  63. Meljean
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:33:22

    Do editors, and agents google writers before accepting them as clients? Also once they are clients do they keep tabs on them. I mean there seems to be a lot of authors shooting themselves in the foot by their online antics. I know in other fields people are losing their jobs for questionable online activity (teachers/police etc.)?

    I asked my editor just that question the other day, and the answer was yes — she and others do pay attention to blogs and message boards, and that there are writers she wouldn’t want to work with based on their online behavior.

    I think the key there is “work with” — any editor/writer relationship is a professional one, and if someone proves themselves consistently unprofessional online, it’s not a huge leap to say that behavior might carry over into “real” life. Whether it’s true that the lack of professionalism will bleed over into the working relationship doesn’t matter as much as an editor fearing it might be true.

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  64. ilona andrews
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:39:37

    Janet,

    There are a lot of authors here with more experience than me, but my guess would be that unless you can turn being ornery or scandalously rude into an asset – for example see Ann Coulter – your less-than-polite conduct would be a deterrent to representation/contracts. Negative image detracts from the bottom line. When readers find an author offensive, they tend to vote with their money.

    That’s why a lot of us do maintain both professional and personal blogs.

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  65. ilona andrews
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:41:10

    Meljean – good point.

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  66. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:52:21

    In fact, I believe I was addressing Shiloh, by name, and the commentaries at large. Still am.

    you can address me all ya want! :-)

    Do editors, and agents google writers before accepting them as clients?

    I blogged about something along this vein a while back. Yes, editors and agents pay attention to this kind of thing.

    Somebody that tends to take be a less than professional online is too likely to have a less than professional attitude. How many agents and editors want to have to deal with that?

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  67. Michelle
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:56:33

    Thanks for the replies. I admire the restraint it must take to remain civil at all times. I admire those of you who remain professional under fire. It makes me more likely to take a risk on an author that I haven’t read. Also I admit I am not personally able to separate talent from online behavior. If an author is a total twit online even if they have written a wonderful novel I won’t be spending a dime on it. Petty probably but it is my personal quirk.

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  68. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 15:58:48

    Man… I miss the edit your post feature…

    This should have said

    Somebody that tends to take be a less than professional persona online is too likely to have a less than professional attitude. How many agents and editors want to have to deal with that?

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  69. tate
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 16:37:24

    I've read the comments of several editors who have said publicly that that won't take on an author who speaks badly of other authors,

    Hmm, obviously wasn’t Nora’s editor. I can think plenty of authors that speak badly of other authors but refrain from dragging them into this.

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  70. KendraW
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 16:51:48

    Jane – Thanks for the response. That’s what I thought but I was curious enough to ask. I figured that the burden of proof would rest on the other person and this confirms it.

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  71. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 16:56:19

    ~Hmm, obviously wasn't Nora's editor. I can think plenty of authors that speak badly of other authors but refrain from dragging them into this.~

    Sorry? I don’t know what you mean. I can’t find where I’ve spoken badly of another author or dragged anyone anywhere. Please show me an example of this.

    And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?

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  72. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:06:51

    Disregard, I should have clicked on the poster’s name first, and seen what blogs she linked to. All is clear now.

    Trolling must be infectious, and this one didn’t deserve a response from me.

    Must be more cautious with the cookies.

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  73. tate
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:07:00

    Quoting Nora from just a few posts above:

    I believe I was the one-during the last discussion-who said I considered Ferfe a troll

    Selective memory?

    Ferfelebat IS Cindy Cruciger

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  74. tate
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:08:26

    Good grief Nora. Anyone that disagrees with you is a troll? Pffft.

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  75. Bonnie
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:23:52

    And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?

    Heh! Because you’re Nora!

    You know, you’re like E.F. Hutton.

    Oy, I’m old

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  76. Nora Roberts
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:26:26

    ~I think the key there is “work with” -’ any editor/writer relationship is a professional one, and if someone proves themselves consistently unprofessional online, it's not a huge leap to say that behavior might carry over into “real” life. Whether it's true that the lack of professionalism will bleed over into the working relationship doesn't matter as much as an editor fearing it might be true.~

    This nutshells it very well. On-line behavior, with the universe of blogs and sites, can influence an editor’s opinion, and certainly a reader’s.

    People disagree, people have opinions. It’s how they’re expressed that carries the most weight.

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  77. Karen Scott
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:29:36

    Jane, you ignorant slut, I thought you wanted the gold bikini because you were a pole dancer? You never told me you were a lawyer! You and me, we’re through. That bikini cost me a fortune dammit!

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  78. Michelle
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:38:16

    Nora, people with talent are always the target of those without talent who are jealous. The successful are often belittled by the wannabees. Its not all tea and crumpets being the queen.

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  79. Tracy
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 17:59:35

    Regarding author’s behavior online. I do know that their behavior online makes a difference to me. I just ordered one of Shiloh Walker’s books (“Coming in Last”~I changed my mind on which book Shiloh! ;) ) because I was impressed with how she handled herself in the last law post (the 500 comment one!).

    I’m only one person, but I’m sure there are more people like me out there. So, I do think that an author’s behavior online can make a difference.

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  80. Shannon C.
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 18:07:21

    Man, the legal advice posts seem to generate train wrecks every week. I should be writing a term paper, but instead, I keep hitting refresh.
    And I do agree that I’m the sort of reader who can’t separate author behavior from the books… Which is why I’m not even tempted by some of the authors who’ve posted here, but I am determined that I will eventually fall in love with a Shiloh Walker book, because how could I not? She’s awesome!

    *Sigh* OK… must… stop…hitting…refresh.

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  81. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 18:27:18

    Regarding author's behavior online. I do know that their behavior online makes a difference to me. I just ordered one of Shiloh Walker's books (”Coming in Last”~I changed my mind on which book Shiloh! ) because I was impressed with how she handled herself in the last law post (the 500 comment one!).

    Well, if you like Coming in Last, you’ll just need to go buy Always Yours… that was your original choice, right? :)

    I'm only one person, but I'm sure there are more people like me out there. So, I do think that an author's behavior online can make a difference.

    A lot of people do this kind of thing. I pick up new authors all the time because I like how they handle themselves online. Likewise, I also stopped buying a few that used to be faves because I wasn’t impressed with their attitude online or in person.

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  82. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 18:35:43

    I am determined that I will eventually fall in love with a Shiloh Walker book, because how could I not? She's awesome!

    awwww…. blush. Thank you!

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  83. Jackie L.
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 19:31:47

    One book does not an author make.

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  84. Lucy
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 19:53:21

    I love Shiloh – I read her comments here a few months ago and was so impressed I went to EC and checked her out! So not just one book.

    BTW – Nora, I am listening to Eternity in Death RIGHT NOW! Not easy to read a blog and listen at the same time; I keep having to go back and replay…

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  85. Jackie L.
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 20:01:43

    That comment was not aimed at Shiloh. I’m waiting for my Hunter book from Amazon which they’re shipping with the new JD Robb.

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  86. Tracy
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 20:18:37

    Don’t worry Shiloh, I’m sure I’ll be buying more. But, I’ve exceeded my book budget for like two months LOL Shhhhh don’t tell my hubby!! :D

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  87. Jill Myles
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 20:27:56

    When my agent took me on, one of the first things he mentioned were my Amazon reviews, which he found funny. I was HORRIFIED that he’d seen them – since I remembered that a few of them weren’t very nice. Back then, I didn’t know the difference between ‘self pub’ and ‘NY pub’.

    I immediately went and took all the questionable ones down. Heh.

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  88. Angela James
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 20:44:58

    And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?

    Singling Nora out because, um, dudes, she’s Nora ;)

    Nora, we’re almost neighbors, both of us living in the fine state of Maryland. Don’t you think it’s time you gave in and agreed to be my BFF?

    Derailing the thread again, but I have a question for people in the know about publishing. Do editors, and agents google writers before accepting them as clients?

    Answering Michelle’s question:

    I do. But I will say that I ignore a lot of things too, because the internet can be an intimate place, tempers flare, people aren’t always perfect and miscommunication is easy. I concentrate on what they’re doing to promote themselves/writing and how that balances against any bad mojo they’re carrying around. And sometimes, as an earlier poster said, I take into consideration how that’s going to effect, or not effect, our professional working relationship (and yes, book sales). And too, it depends on who they’re saying it about and what their motivation is. Kind of vague, I know, but there you go.

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  89. Eva Gale
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 22:39:29

    You know-here’s the sad thing.

    I bet ten dollars that if you sat Nora across from Ferfe that both of them would be unfailingly polite to eachother. I also be that they have a lot in common. Most of us do. I think one of the tings that they have most in common is the fact that they are both very strong women. Both of them entered male dominated feilds and had the balls to succeed. People have a tendency to get most aggrivated by the trait that is most like themselves. It must happen a lot more when two strong women are opinionated.

    And now~ back to last minute sewing of costumes.

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  90. Emma
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 05:53:20

    Good information is good information whether it comes from someone with no education or someone with a graduate degree in my opinion.

    And don’t let the kitty fool you. They’re all evil and this one looks particularly satany. (Yes, satany.) Like he’s planning something. Like dancing on your forehead in the middle of the night and almost giving you a heart attack, biting your toe though a blanket and waking you from a dead sleep. Or bringing you a fly it caught and when you decline in partaking in the snack, eating it in front of you while you squeal like a 3rd grade girl.

    Plain. Unadulterated evil.

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  91. Nora Roberts
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 06:26:58

    Michelle, thanks–though a crumpet would be nice.

    Angela, you’re in Maryland? I had no idea. We can be MD Girls BFF! We can wear Black-Eyed Susans in our hair while we eat crabs!

    Eva, you’re loyal to your friend. But from what I’ve seen of your friend on-line, we really don’t have anything in common.

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  92. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 06:50:32

    SNORT!!! Karen, Gold bikinis?!?! Good grief, that just blew away my mental image of everyone here. I always picture posters lounging about in a huge room filled with overstuffed sofas and easy chairs. They’re always relaxed, sipping on their beverage of choice and typing on lap tops, No bikinis in sight.*G*

    Just thought I’d mention for future consideration since interesting discussions get derailed here so frequently: Just because someone asks a question in no way obligates anyone to respond.

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  93. sybil
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 07:56:08

    ~~nora sez: “And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?”~~

    Your name is easy. People can spell it, it is quick to type and remember. But if I were to guess, (in my professional nonlawyer-nonpolldancer-nonwriter sweetness and light opinion) it is that whole Best Seller thing, envy bes a bitch. Or can make people one or was that bitter not bitchy, hell it is too early in the morning I forget the meangrrl code and after all I am the nice one.

    Since you have sold a book or two you are now Blogland Area Director and in charge of making all meangrrls in all the land behave, and you must give them puppies. We will call you BAD for short (takes us down to three letters).

    Not sure who has been put in charge of the authors, IIRC it was suppose to be KarenS but she couldn’t be arsed. Oh and KarenS, wasn’t it Bam that was the poll dancer?

    le sigh… I seem to have misplaced my who’s who in whoville cheat sheet. I am so out of the loop, didn’t even know I was the only person in blogland who’s spamfilter tells people they are awaiting moderation when they are slammed into the spamcage.

    You know… it is Halloween people… maybe it is to blame for bringing out the monsters, witches and the scary, scary. Then again I stick with everyday wear and just go as teh devil. So maybe it isn’t the season to blame.

    Although I do agree with Emma, behave of the kitten…

    Happy Halloween ya’ll.

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  94. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:32:52

    *Gasp* Sybil and Emma-No way could that cute, clearly terrified little kitten be evil. Nope. *shaking head* No way. Won’t believe it. *G*

    The poor thing makes me want to just pick it up and cuddle it.

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  95. Nora Roberts
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:38:15

    I have to give puppies? Sheesh.

    I forgot to say Happy Samhain to my MD BFF Samhain girl.

    On the subject of defamation, a question. And I don’t want to derail this into a ghost-writer topic, or a Nora one, but the question springs from that.

    While I choose to address or ignore the statements, depending on circumstance or mood, is it defamation to state Nora Roberts has ghostwriters? For example, recently a friend of mine wandered into a bookstore where another woman was instructing the bookseller and a customer that NR doesn’t write the books, but has them ghostwritten. That she had inside industry info on this, as a fact. When my friend interrupted to mention she actually knew this wasn’t true, knew me, and asked how this person felt able to make the claim–what was her connection to the publishing industry–the response was everyone in the know was aware of this Big Secret.

    Besides it was obviously nobody could write that many books. So there.

    As I do write my books, and don’t have ghosts, the statement is false. As it was being made to people who are important to my career (bookseller, reader) it could have been damaging. Yes? No?

    I don’t sue people for being jerks, but I’m curious if this meets the general definition of defamation–or if it’s just annoying spouting off.

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  96. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:42:26

    And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?

    I’ve seen it happen several times on different blogs in recent memory, and I don’t think Nora always gets singled out because of envy.

    If you get into a junkyard scrap, you go for the big dog. If you can take a chunk out of the big dog, that makes you the biggest dog in the junkyard, no? And then, when the other dogs don’t fall into line behind you, you can tell yourself they’re just ass-kissing synchophants of the big dog so screw them. Even if you get chased out of the junkyard, you know you’re really the big dog, but everybody else is just stupid. Ego intact.

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  97. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:51:09

    If you get into a junkyard scrap, you go for the big dog. If you can take a chunk out of the big dog, that makes you the biggest dog in the junkyard, no?

    I was thinking along similar lines, Shannon, but you explained it a lot better. Yeah, I do think some of it comes from pettiness or spite, but I think that junkyard analogy is pretty dang accurate.

    Besides it was obviously nobody could write that many books. So there.

    Really? :O( sniffle… there go my dreams of one day having that many books written.

    I haven’t ever heard that ‘ghostwriter’ bit myself. Do that many people actually put stock into it? Your voice is too unique- I can’t imagine anybody else able to write the way you do.

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  98. Gennita Low
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:53:55

    Morning coffee…that kitty actually looks sweet this morning.

    Jane: thank you for answering my question. I’ve always wondered how rags like the National Enquirer or esp., the one with the “news” about alien-politicians, don’t get sued more often. I’m thinking there have to be more spoiled stars out there thinking, “mean people, mean girls, mean mean mean,” than the few online personalities we find on the Net.
    The few times I was aware of lawsuits against these rags, the star had won and the rag had to pony up damage payments. Your series of articles make me want to research about these cases just to see what exactly was written and how that information was any more damaging than being accused of being an alien…or, ahem, a demon.

    Shiloh said:

    I adore Gennita. Gennita, because my steadfast adoration, I'll have you know I hit the bookstore today just find a book of yours. Haven't read you before, but I got a feeling I'm going to love your books.

    Thank you, Shiloh! I hope you enjoy my book. Adore you back!

    Lastly, on the subject of strong women. Most strong women aren’t paranoid that every topic is about them. After a disagreement, they would just move on and not keep derailing a public conversation because of a past bitter fight. The paranoia is even more apparent when the strong woman runs back to her blog, every time, to make public pronouncements about the Mean Girls so her friends can in turn go and defend her, and then after a day, the whole thread is erased because of her fear of lawsuits and backlash. Why put it out there in the public in the first place? I mean, erasing it doesn’t wipe out the search engine cache. All the nasty speculations are still there for the world to see, so I don’t understand that at all.

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  99. Jane
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 08:56:33

    You aren’t asking for advice right? LOL. Hypothetically speaking, if someone said something to damage an individual’s profession, such as suggesting that they are employing ghostwriters, it might be defamation.

    The problem is showing that statement led to a loss in profits. I.e., can the author point to a specific number of books or declining sales as a result of it being publicly bandied about that the author employed ghostwriters?

    An author, particularly one who is as well known as you, Nora, would be considered a public figure and therefore you would have to show actual malice on the part of the speaker of the defamation.

    In the Butts case, 388 U.S. 130 (1967), the court added in an element of proof to defamation suits brought by public individuals believing that public individuals “have a more realistic opportunity to counteract false statements than private individuals normally enjoy.”

    Actual malice – a topic I’m going to talk about next week, along with the public figure, “of and concerning a public matter”, and so forth – is really difficult to prove.

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  100. Jane
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 09:03:39

    My feeling on the “why pick on Nora” thing is essentially what Shannon said and I think, the idea is that if Nora would speak out against us mean girls, maybe we’d shut up. Of course, the problem is that we mean girls feel free to disagree with anyone and have, publicly, even against Nora.

    The great thing is that we can still be civil even in our disagreement. I hate to bring the costume thread up but Sarah, Candy and I vehemently disagreed with Nora’s stance on the costume issue. I even blogged about my disagreement here. We respect each other enough that the difference in opinion makes our connection stronger, I believe, not weaker.

    Robin and I disagree with nearly the entire body of authors, including Nora, on the issue of ARC sales.

    When it comes to issues of industry experience, certainly the opinions given by someone who has more than 200 books published may be given greater weight. But when it is an opinion given on a piece that is based on a personal issue, then everyone’s opinion is weighted the same, regardless of the speaker’s position within the publishing industry.

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  101. Nora Roberts
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 09:22:56

    Thanks, Jane–that was mostly what I thought. Ignoring or addressing is best. Getting pissed off enough to do otherwise, a waste (for me) of time and energy.

    Yes, we did disagree about the costumes, and about ARCs. That means you guys must be trolls! Okay, just kidding. People disagree, even on intense issues all the time–and still respect each other. And respect themselves enough to express that opinion in a reasonable manner.

    I do understand that some types will go after me, particularly, just because of the name–and the hope, I imagine, that I’ll lose it enough to respond to them with frothing viciousness.

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  102. Tracy
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 10:14:10

    People disagree, even on intense issues all the time-and still respect each other

    I love discussions that have that respect. Where both parties can give their opinion, listen to the other, and agree to disagree. Some issues, my mind can be changed by listening to the other’s point of view. Some issues, no one will ever change my mind, but listening to the other point of view is a learning experience.

    When people shriek their opinion and sprinkle it with name calling I loose interest and don’t even listen anymore. If I was “on the fence” regarding a certain issue, that kind of arguing will make me side with the opposing viewpoint just on principle.

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  103. Emma
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 11:48:29

    *Gasp* Sybil and Emma-No way could that cute, clearly terrified little kitten be evil. Nope. *shaking head* No way. Won't believe it. *G*

    The poor thing makes me want to just pick it up and cuddle it.

    See Sarah, sadly that’s exactly what it wants you to do. It lures you in with those big, sad (quite satany) eyes because it wants you to pick it up, that way it can be closer to your neck and blam! Before you know it, its ripped out your throat. A sad tragedy that can totally be avoided. I should know.

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  104. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 12:10:23

    Snort! Now Emma, as a mommy of 8 fur kitty babies, I’m having a hard time working up to seeing that poor little thing as a minion of evil. But *making the supreme sacrifice* I’m willing to make the supreme sacrifice and assume all cuddle duties for wee demonic. *G*

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  105. Emma
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 12:26:21

    LMAO. Sarah. I have two. You have to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Matter of fact one who has its butt planted on my keyboard in an attempt to stop me from warning the masses about their dastardly plans. The other? Well see for youself. The very face of evil.

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  106. Emma
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 12:43:07

    When my friend interrupted to mention she actually knew this wasn't true, knew me, and asked how this person felt able to make the claim-what was her connection to the publishing industry-the response was everyone in the know was aware of this Big Secret.

    You’d think since the person got caught in a blatant lie she’d at least have the decency to backpedal or scurry away. Instead she used the old “Everyone knows the big secret” which translates into I heard it from so and so who it heard from so and so, so I’ll repeat it like its gospel truth because it makes me feel important to have this inside information. Because in all reality wouldn’t sharing “sensitive” information with the public be career suicide?

    Do publishers have clauses in employee contracts that prevent employees from sharing certain information?

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  107. cara
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:10:51

    I remember actually reading an article on the net that Nora dictated all of her books to assistants. It was a long time ago, but I just remember wondering who was foolish to believe that.

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  108. Jayne
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:13:50

    Emma, is that cat wearing a sweater? How’d you do that? My cat would pee on my bed if I tried to get him to do something like that.

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  109. Tracy
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:19:09

    Jayne~my cat would scratch me to death if I tried that. Clipping her nails is enough danger for me! LOL

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  110. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:24:21

    LOL! Emma! I see how evil she is. She got you to miss precious reading time in order to knit her a sweater. Very evil kitty. *G*

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  111. Jan
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 13:36:13

    This will probably get stuck in the spam filter, but I came across this post today which seems to be a descriptive actual exercise about defamation and blogging.

    BidZirk v Smith (a blogger)

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  112. Bernita
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 14:07:10

    Perhaps the acusatory female confused Nora with Barbara Cartland, who did dictate her later novels.
    Dictation to an assistant hardly qualifies as having a ghost writer, however.

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  113. Bernita
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 14:34:59

    Oh, damn…”accusatory”.

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  114. Robin
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 14:48:58

    I've always wondered how rags like the National Enquirer or esp., the one with the “news” about alien-politicians, don't get sued more often.

    Gennita, I will never forget Dominick Dunne talking about how all the journalists covering the OJ Simpson trial would rush to get the new Enquirer to get caught up on all the info surrounding the trial (he included himself in this group). Apparently, the Enquirer is known to have a high level of veracity in its stories (good sources, he said) and the best defamation lawyers vetting the pieces.

    You'd think since the person got caught in a blatant lie she'd at least have the decency to backpedal or scurry away. Instead she used the old “Everyone knows the big secret” which translates into I heard it from so and so who it heard from so and so, so I'll repeat it like its gospel truth because it makes me feel important to have this inside information. Because in all reality wouldn't sharing “sensitive” information with the public be career suicide?

    But why assume the woman was aware it was false? She didn’t work at the bookstore, and who knows what her “source” was, but in any case, I think people repeat stuff they believe to be true all the time. Which is one of the reasons the bar for defamation against a public figure requires a finding that the speaker knew the info was false or acted with “reckless disregard” for the truth (and recklessness is itself a whole ‘nother legal standard). With all the rumors that circulate about people of fame or notoriety, I think it’s quite easy to believe certain things are true, and to repeat them with no malice intended toward the person in question. That the person in question might find them hurtful or offensive is clear, but free speech jurisprudence has been really adamant that speech can be both perfectly legal and utterly offensive at the same time. And the logic extends to defamation, as well.

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  115. Nora Roberts
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 16:59:26

    ~But why assume the woman was aware it was false?~

    I think, from what I was told, the woman intimated that she was an industry insider, and everyone who was knew this. And then got snippy and defensive when asked what her connection was to publishing.

    But yes, I agree, people hear rumors or speculations, take snippets or the whole cloth, repeat, until it seems true. And along the way, someone who hears the repeat genuinely assumes it’s true.

    I’m interested in the `reckless disregard’ angle of things. And hope Jane addresses this in an article down the road. So many layers and hues to the issue.

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  116. Emma
    Oct 31, 2007 @ 23:03:32

    But why assume the woman was aware it was false? She didn't work at the bookstore, and who knows what her “source” was, but in any case, I think people repeat stuff they believe to be true all the time.

    Unless she was sitting next to La Nora when it supposedly happened then she had no way of knowing what she was repeating was true. And I personally think it's irresponsible to repeat it.

    1. As an “insider” what kind of work ethic does she have if she isn't loyal enough to her employer to keep her mouth shut?
    2. Why was she sharing the information? What was her ultimate goal? Seriously. Even if what she was saying was true, how did it affect her? By repeating the information was she trying to prevent something bad from happening? I doubt it. In my opinion she was repeating the information for the same reason a lot of people do, it gave her an illicit thrill. (And no, not that kind of illicit thrill. :|)
    Yes, I'm Miss Pollyanna Prissy Pants but I hate the Enquirer. I don't look at the gossip shows and the only gossip I listen to is usually about the industry. And even that I take with a grain of salt.
    I don't want to go off the deep end (probably already have) but I assume La Nora worked damn hard for what she has. And who's to say someone dismissing all she's accomplished didn't hurt her.

    I think, from what I was told, the woman intimated that she was an industry insider, and everyone who was knew this. And then got snippy and defensive when asked what her connection was to publishing.
    But yes, I agree, people hear rumors or speculations, take snippets or the whole cloth, repeat, until it seems true. And along the way, someone who hears the repeat genuinely assumes it's true.

    See. Why was she defensive if she hadn't done anything wrong?
    And people don't seem to understand how hurtful repeating something as the truth can be for the person who's being talked about. Even celebrities have feelings. I think people forget that. I was reading a post by a writer last night that was quite affected by the things people were saying and repeating about her. It affected her self-esteem, her career and her home life. And why? Because people took gossip as gospel.

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  117. Emma
    Nov 01, 2007 @ 00:20:51

    Emma, is that cat wearing a sweater? How'd you do that? My cat would pee on my bed if I tried to get him to do something like that.

    Hehe. Jayne. Actually it's his favorite purple velour jumpsuit. And I started when he was too young to notice he was being brainwashed into thinking it's normal for a cat to wear clothes. Some of his favorite outfits.

    LOL! Emma! I see how evil she is. She got you to miss precious reading time in order to knit her a sweater. Very evil kitty. *G*

    Not only is he evil, he's a perpetual line crosser. He knows I hate, HATE for him to “groom me” but he does it anyways. Usually sneak lick attacks while I'm asleep. It feels like someone is trying to rip off my skin.

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  118. Sarah McCarty
    Nov 01, 2007 @ 07:33:42

    LOL! Emma. One of our kitties cannot stand for hair on anyone or anything to be out of place. (Dog cat bird human, does not matter) She’s a gorgeous ragamuffin that would be doing one of those fashion shows on TLC if she were human. She spends her days going from person to person, grooming hair. My son, her beloved human she loves above all else and is never more than 3 feet if given her preference from, has a cowlick that has frustrated her from day one. From across the crowded room, she’ll see that cowlick spike and with a very disgruntled expression on her face that clearly says, “For goodness sake, I just took care of that!” stomp over to him, demand to be picked up and then pull his his head down so she can “fix it”. Cracks me up every time because he’d prefer she didn’t. After 8 years, however, it’s a pretty orchestrated dance between the two of them.

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  119. Pyre
    Nov 02, 2007 @ 16:56:03

    Jane:

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt is a much tougher standard than beyond a “reasonable doubt”. In other words, you can have unreasonable doubts and still find a person “not guilty” whereas if the standard is “beyond a shadow of doubt” you would have to find the person guilty.

    Would you please re-read, and perhaps edit, that last sentence? I’d think a juror with (only) unreasonable doubts of a defendant’s guilt would have to vote “guilty” under the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, and “not guilty” under the “beyond a shadow of a doubt” standard (if the latter were ever actually used) — essentially the reverse of what you’ve just said.

    Nora:

    And how COME no matter who says what about who, somebody just has to single me out?

    It’s your very success, as symbolized by that big glittery golden Quill — ooooh, shiny! — that attracts the attention, the envy, and the requests for you to lend, invest, or give away your proceeds. Congratulations, by the way. Would you like to join me in an effort to retrieve some misdirected Nigerian funds? With your money and my effort, hey….

    Karen Scott:

    Jane, you ignorant slut,…

    That echoes Dan Ackroyd’s line in the parody debate program, Count Pointercount, back in the early days of Saturday Night Live.

    Of course I understand that in this case, you’re demonstrating libel per se, so that Jane can sue you as an object lesson for the class…..

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  120. Pyre
    Nov 02, 2007 @ 17:19:34

    Incidentally, I have been waiting for years for someone to use that SNL quip in an actual debate on one of the rowdier talk shows:

    “Anne [Coulter], you ignorant slut,…”

    “Nancy [Grace], you ignorant slut,…”

    “Rudy, you ignorant slut,…” [with a quick superimposed photo of his drag costume]

    It’s not as though the quality of argument hadn’t sunk that far already, so at least we should be able to resort to the “classic” smears, putdowns, and ad hominems (ad feminams?).

    Then there are all those wonderful Elizabethan insults, just waiting to be put back to use: “Mitt, thou mangy louse-clothéd pox-riddled whoreson,…” — pungent rhetoric far spicier to the hearing than the poor insipid stuff inflicted upon our ears these days.

    If we can’t get civilized debates any more, let us at least see some honest gutter-brawling.

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  121. Jane
    Nov 02, 2007 @ 18:12:39

    I'd think a juror with (only) unreasonable doubts of a defendant's guilt would have to vote “guilty” under the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, and “not guilty” under the “beyond a shadow of a doubt” standard (if the latter were ever actually used) -’ essentially the reverse of what you've just said.

    Let me work this out. If you are a prosecutor and have the burden of proof, then the “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a lower standard that “beyond a shadow of a doubt”. Because you only have to rid the juror of any reasonable doubts. If the juror has only unreasonable doubts left then he should vote guilty under the “reasonable doubt” standard and “not guilty” under the “shadow of a doubt” theory.

    Yep, I said the obverse in my example.

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  122. lucy
    Nov 10, 2007 @ 13:04:31

    hey wot u all bin up to???

    ReplyReply

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