Sunday, 19 October 2014

When an Author Stalks a Blogger and How to Deal

This weekend, an article was posted in a well known online publication by a YA author. She'd previously gone off on bloggers over negative reviews. But this weekend she revealed that she'd took it a step further, got a blogger's address and work number, got a rental car, and visited the house and started calling at work. She considered it a part of an investigation to reveal if the blogger was exactly who she said she was. The results of her investigation are inconclusive, but really, that's not the point. Authors and bloggers alike use pseudonyms for various reasons. 

The fact is that this author stalked this blogger. To her home. At work. And then spoke happily about it in an article. And many are lauding her for doing "what they wish they could" and being bold and fierce and writing such a good article.

About stalking someone.

This isn't the first instance of bloggers' personal information being found over reviews. Stop the Goodreads Bullies formed several years ago to share real identities, addresses, numbers, and names/occupations of family members and, last I checked, are still active. But this is the first instance we know of where someone actually utilized that information within the blogging community.

I was visiting my parents' when the news broke, so I was always getting the tail end of the breaking news. Of course I was spooked at the idea and of course I was horrified for the blogger, someone I know. But tonight I'm in my apartment and have had little else to do but make dinner and watch as more news broke.

The blogger still hasn't said anything publicly and has only been in touch with her coblogger briefly. The author still defends her actions. More authors support her. Other articles from the author demonstrate that disturbing behavior like this is nothing new - killing animals, hurting other people very intentionally, all of it is common place in her world.

The more I've read, the more I've talked about it, the more I've been able to think about it, the scarier it gets.

I was 15 when I got serious about blogging. By that point, I'd been online for over 5 years, including fandoms and social media. I considered myself good at being in spaces that were safe and full of good people. I still used my usual precautions - never getting too specific, not giving out my address easily, very sparingly giving out phone numbers and Facebook and other contact besides email and twitter, sticking to what's technically a nickname to go by, not using names of IRL family/friends - but I still felt comfortable. I loosened some of my rules. Was willing to give the general idea of where I lived. Talk about going to school. Post pictures of family members on rare occasions. Allow Facebook friends.

It's happened more and more since I moved to NYC. I talk about where I am and where I'm going so friends can find me. I can post pictures and my friends will know exactly where I am, which means potentially anyone who knows NYC could know exactly where I am. I've talked about where I go to school and that I live nearby. I've loosened my names/pictures of family and friends rule since so many online friends have become IRL friends. A good number of my friends in NYC have even met my roommate. I've talked about my mental health issues openly. Barriers have become tricky. The more it happens, the trickier it gets. The veil between online and IRL gets thinner every day for me.

Then tonight I really thought about it. How, technically, it can be really easy to find me. Where I work. Where I live. Where to go to school. Thousands of people have the ability to do this easily. 

Then I thought about the past year at book events, especially BEA, when people recognized me. Apparently, I'm the kind of person who looks quite a bit like my profile pictures. In many cases, I didn't immediately recognize who it was, or if I did, I wasn't 100% sure. In some cases, I genuinely didn't know them at all until they introduced themselves. I'm not great with faces or following people back on twitter. All of these experiences were incredibly positive and I was happy they happened because I LIKE meeting people (to an extent - I am an introvert, after all). But it very easily could go wrong.

I like being open online with my opinions and my mental health issues because these issues, my introversion, make it very hard for me to be open with even my closest friends in real life. But the internet has always given me an extra step back from the reality of it to be honest with myself and those I know. And it's given me an amazing support system. And of course I want to share the much, much better parts of my life with these friends as well. But stories like this, where a blogger is stalked, terrify me. They make me want to shut down. They make me regret being online in the first place. I have the kind of anxiety that makes the worst case scenarios run through my head and made it impossible for me to sleep with windows or any doors open until fairly recently. And I'm a woman in New York City. Some of these precautions are already necessary. Now I have a real life example of someone I know being stalked to justify my paranoia. My building has turned on my heat and the pipes are next to my head, but part of me still wants to close the window by my feet.

Because of course now my brain is running to "But what don't we know about?" This author was willing to write about her experience, but maybe other authors have more sense than that. Maybe other authors just don't have the platform access she does. How can we be sure this is the first time an author has stalked a blogger to their home and work place? I can take some comfort in knowing I've never been attacked online, and therefore have less reason to think there is someone out there who would have a reason to want to track me down. But I have plenty of friends who cannot make the same claim. Now I have to fear for them too.

I'm terrified for this blogger it did happen to. I'm terrified for all my friends it could happen to. I'm terrified for myself and my friends and family. And I'm not sure if that terror will go away.

I know, logically, I have no reason to fear for myself and most of the people I know. But I also know that logic I understand isn't the strong suit of people willing to stalk others.

There's no real point to this post. And I certainly don't encourage you to give this author and the websites she posts on hits by looking up the articles (though Jamie's post on the matter includes a link that won't give hits to the stalking article). But I needed to talk out my feelings and, hopefully, remind myself and others to be careful about what we do and don't give up online. I might need to spend some time deciding my barriers. And I'm going to need to revisit the kind words of some authors (Jennifer Armentrout, Molli Moran, Beth Revis and C.J. Redwine have all been incredibly outspoken about how wrong it is if you scroll through their twitters/tumblrs).

Be safe, my loves.

--Julie

Weekly Wrap-Up (15)

On the Blog

Wednesday: Lanna checked out & loved one of Jennifer Armentrout's first books

Julie

Book Haul


Sublime
by Christina Lauren (hardcover purchased at McNally Jackson/hardcover received for review)

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (egalley via publisher/Netgalley)
Razhorhurst by Justine Larbalestier (egalley via publisher/Edelweiss)

Some MAJORLY awesome 2015 debuts, right? And then Christina Lauren were having their launch party in NYC, so I obviously bought a copy...then came to visit my parents' and found another copy. SO gonna have to figure out what to do with that. Three physical copies and an egalley *might* be kind of excessive.

Books Read


All Broke Down by Cora Carmack
The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky

I finished All Broke Down Sunday morning at NYCC, as I predicted. We got there a little after 6 am and did nothing but stand in one of two lines until 10:30 or so, which gave me a TON of time to finish. And The Last Christmas Tree is this ADORABLE picture book that either just came out or is about to and I highly recommend!

 
Upcoming Reads


Grace's Guide by Grace Helbig
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Atlantia by Ally Condie

I'm actually reading all of these right now. Grace's Guide is my ebook read, leading up to her release party Tuesday. An Ember in the Ashes is blowing me away and Atlantia is for a blog-tour-esque stop. This is the main reason I didn't finish any of them - I had to try to read them all at once!

--Julie

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary: Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something... unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. If I don't kill him first, that is.
So...this book was kind of cheesy and it had a lot of cliche moments, I got annoyed quite a lot while reading it. And yet, I think I maybe might have, sort of, really loved it? Yes, that works.

It was just--it was addictive. And it never bored me and I felt invested in what happened to the characters even while I was rolling my eyes at how cheesy some of it was. And the romance...it was infuriating and awesome, I loved the love/hate thing that Kat and Daemon had going on and I loved that things that irritated me about him in the beginning slowly became things I really loved about him and their relationship.

The book was just really fast paced and fun, with quite a few laugh out loud funny moments. It's kind of like this is what you would get if you tossed Twilight* and the TV show Roswell in a blender then threw in a female protagonist that was Meg Cabot character level sassy.

I actually kind of regret reading it right now, because I don't have the sequels to read just yet and I'll have to wait and I don't want to wait because...well, like I said - I maybe might have, sort of, really loved this book. I wasn't expecting that at all, I only read it because so many people I trusted were all, "Yay, this book is awesome!" and now I'm all, "Yay, it really was awesome" and...I'm sorry, I may have stayed up past the point of tiredness to finish the book and it's making me a wee bit more ridiculous than normal.

So, yes. I'll shut up now. I'd rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Later.


*It's way better written than Twilight though, and I know Twilight gets a lot of hate and I do agree with plenty of the criticism it gets but I do kind of love the first three books in spite of that. This book gave me a similar sort of feeling, where I was so swept up in the story and the characters that the flaws didn't matter.

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