Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sometimes Good Things Happen, Sometimes Not.

Once upon a time, there was an author. She had written her lowly little first novel, about vampires. It was generally well-received, but it was one of those, "If you like it, you love it, if you don't, you hate it so much you wish you could destroy the very printing machine that spat it forth and cleanse it with fire," types of books.

The writer of the book was a bit taken aback at some of the vitriol spouted by some reviewers, namely Laurie Gold, who had this to say about Blood Fires:

Blood Fires: The Turning, Jennifer Armintrout (2006) - This debut by a fairly young author (she's 26) of the first in a violent vampire fiction series isn't a major disappointment, and it isn't boring. It's downright awful. My conclusion is that this is post-9/11 fiction for nihilists. Though the author created a couple of interesting characters and a difficult and intriguing tentative relationship for them, any interest I had was destroyed by one intimate scene that is the stuff of a true sadist's dream. I've no problem with gore in general; indeed, an oddly favorite moment in one of Anne Rice's vampire books features a couple of vampires literally breaking people's bones and devouring their bodies, yet a similar moment in this book nearly brought up my lunch. This was, for me, the worst book of the year.

This review was, in my opinion, just a titch harsh. Also, it made my mom cry. Maybe that bothered me more than anything. No, wait, it was the allegations of nihilism and sadism and something about 9/11, which is sure to call everyone to attention. Because 9/11 was bad, right? Like, how this book was bad? That's the only thing I'm getting here, because I don't understand why on earth it was mentioned.

Anyway. I made a little joke of it, while inside my head I was screaming at the top of my lungs like Regina in "Mean Girls" after she finds out that the Calteen bars are responsible for her weight gain. Then, I got over it. It was in the past, and not everyone had to like my books, right?

Besides, I had this REALLY awesome review from Publisher's Weekly:

Armintrout's bold debut, the first book in a violent vampire series, bares its fangs early, unafraid to spill blood and vital organs from its very first pages. ER resident Dr. Carrie Ames tells the story of how, after being attacked and left for dead, she eventually realizes she's been "turned." Fellow vampire Nathan Grant saves Carrie from her sire's jealous lover, only to give Carrie a life-or-death ultimatum: either pledge allegiance to the Movement, a group of humanitarian vampires dedicated to the eradication of their own race, or perish for their cause. Feisty, independent Carrie would like to make up her own mind, but an invisible "blood tie" to Cyrus Kerrick, her evil sire, leaves her in his thrall—she can't help lusting after his body and power. A deadly game of wits develops between Carrie and Cyrus, whose desire for companionship masks his plot for world domination. Carrie, Cyrus and Nathan are all well drawn, as is the love triangle that develops among them. The book's level of gory detail—the narrator is, after all, a newly minted emergency room doctor—may put off all but the most stalwart of readers, but if you've got the stomach for it, this fast, furious novel is a squirm-inducing treat. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

They were even going to put "...this fast, furious novel is a squirm-inducing treat" right on the cover of my next book, and probably the ones after that! How could this possibly go wrong?

I mean, only if the same person who called my book "post-9/11 fiction for nihilists" was the same person who wrote that line. But that would be quite a strange coincidence.


Laurie Gold is EXACTLY the same person who wrote the positive PW review that is splashed all over my books, all over Amazon, any place that my publishers could put it.

But wait, there's more!

There was a post about it on Dearauthor.com!

Let's do a hypothetical scenario here, shall we? Let's say that you made... something. How about... a cake. You made this cake, and you took it to a bake sale. The next day, you find out that someone at the bake sale thought your cake was the worst cake ever. Not only was it the worst cake ever, it was post-9/11 cake for nihilists. But it's all good, because Bake Sale Weekly came out, and they seemed to think your cake was pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that you could probably use their opinion of your cake as a way to advertise future cakes that you make, and people might buy your cake based solely on the good reputation of Bake Sale Weekly. Bake Sale Weekly wouldn't LIE to their readers, would they? Of course they wouldn't. But then, you find out that the person who thought your cake was something out of a sadist's dream was the same person who thought it was good in Bake Sale Weekly. Gosh, aren't you glad you're not the dumb sucker who plastered those positive words all over your cake? Wouldn't that be humiliating?

And really, the fact that all of this was exposed back in February, and I'm just learning about it now, that's really the icing on that big fat humiliation cake. It's rather like being thirteen years old and getting your period at the popular girl's birthday party and no one tells you that you're walking around with a big stain on your jeans. You find out later, when you get home.

I have no idea what lesson one should take away from all of this. Maybe it's that you can't trust Publisher's Weekly for reviews. Maybe there's some vote trading going on between the Russian and French judges. Maybe I should read Dearauthor.com more.

I don't know what I'm going to take away from all of this. But right now, I feel like the girl with the sucky cake who got her period at the bake sale. Or something.

EDIT: This entire fiasco was not Laurie Gold's fault. Her original review was not positive, but it was changed by her editors at Publishers Weekly to be a positive review. I do not fault Laurie on this one.

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