I’m not going to divulge any information about the person who is the subject of this article. What I will say is that I was shocked and appalled by recent conversation with a now former friend.
Recently I was talking to a person who detailed to me that they had a job on the side to make a little extra spending money. Ever curious I asked “oh what are you doing? Is it interesting?” The answer was “it’s ok I guess, but the money is good.” What was their job? They work for an indie book publisher. What is their job? They review books.
I replied “oh that’s cool you get to read free books.” I was informed that no, they don’t read the books. All they do is receive a list of Kindle books. Then they go on Amazon.com and create 5 different identities and create five four star reviews for each book on the list. They scan the front and back of the book and the summary and then spew some bullshit like “awesome, I couldn’t put the book down, can’t wait for the next one.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked “you do know that you are lying for monetary gain and swindling people???” They got pissed at me. I asked “what publisher are you working for?” But they wouldn’t tell me of course. That’s pretty much says it all right there. If they didn’t think they were doing something wrong, what’s the harm in telling the truth?
It’s pretty obvious that some review shenanigans goes on with book reviews for Kindle and other eBooks. However, it’s really weird when it’s in your face by someone you thought you knew who thinks that this is a perfectly OK thing to do for extra pocket change.
I’ve been a bit distracted of late. My poor Hubby Bear got pneumonia. He’s been as sick as a dog for a week and I half. Last week I was afraid he was going to croak in his sleep so I had to get his mother to talk him into going to the doctor. I knew something was gravely wrong when he didn’t eat for 2 days. My husband may be late for many things but not for a meal.
He’s the main cook in the house so I’ve been hard pressed to come up with things to temp him. I used to know how to cook many moons ago, it just sort of went away somewhere after the kids grew up and moved on. The poor guy has been living on chicken noodle soap and canned ravioli. I feel a little guilty about it, but even if I enrolled in a cooking class tomorrow morning it wouldn’t help in the meantime.
I’m getting a feeling of what it feels like to be on the well side of the equation also. I was under the weather quite a bit back in January and he was driving me crazy worrying about me, trying to force feed me and asking me if I was OK every 5 minutes. Now I know how scared he was.
When couples are in their 20s or 30s or even 40s getting sick is not fun, but there is still that feeling of immortality. The ole’ “it won’t happen to me…or us.” Suddenly, it takes on a whole new dimension when you’re pushing 60. It occurs to you that maybe this is the big one. I’m trying not to turn into a hysterical hypochondriac, but I think maybe the Hubman and I need to take better care of ourselves.
I don’t know if it is a function of my age. I’ve been around long enough to see fashion and social trends come and go and then come around again. One thing I’ve figured out over the years that the “coolness” of a style has a direct relation to the price. In other words:
Inexpensive + comfortable = you should not be caught dead wearing that item or combination (I have always ignored this rule)
So expensive you could use it for a down payment for a car + so uncomfortable that you hobble around in pain = the cutting edge of fashion (I spring for expensive on rare occasions, but not the uncomfortable part)
I treat myself to manicures and a few days ago I was in the salon reading a fashion magazine while waiting my turn. I flipped through the pages chuckling at the same silly articles on “how to get your man” that have been in women’s magazines for the past 50 years.
Then I came across a picture of a young woman riding a bicycle. She had on the most ridiculous combination of different must haves and fashion faux pas I’ve ever seen. A quick glance down the list of items she was wearing told me that it would cost about $6,000 dollars to get her complete look.
Let me see if I can paint a picture of this woman. Shoulder length hair, red lips, interesting eye makeup that would last 5 seconds on hot day. On top she wore a thigh length hounds tooth coat, and elbow length black leather gloves. Right, a perfectly practical outfit for a bike ride.
Then down her body, sticking out under the dressy coat was a pair of faded, ripped at the knee jeans, rolled up to her calf. And then we get to the pièce de résistance, her feet. On her feet was a pair of crumpled off white gyms socks and a pair of black patent leather Birkenstock shoes, with her funky gym sock covered toes sticking over the front edge of her shoes. Elbow length gloves and gyms socks? Oh please. I was so outraged that I had to stand up and walk around. I pretended to contemplate nail polish colors to hide the fact that I was pacing around in a major snit.
Anyone who was alive in the 60 and 70s knows what wearing Birkenstocks used to mean. You get an immediate picture of a hippy girl wearing a matchstick skirt with unshaven legs and armpits, hauling around a guitar and burning incense, thinking that it covered up the smell of pot smoke.
So why are Birkenstocks suddenly the height of fashion now after all the years? I’ll tell you why. The fashion industry got ahold of them, tricked them out with a bit of rhinestone and patent leather and now they cost NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS a pair. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
So anyway back to my original statement. There are no rules worth paying attention to when it comes to fashion. To make my own statement I tried out some hair chalk I saw advertised in the magazine. The result? I walked around yesterday with lavender streaks in my hair. Yee ha! And happy Mardi Gras. Mr. Husband and my mother-in-law were taken aback, but the ladies in my art class got a kick out of it.
Why do women suffer in silence and tolerate criminal behavior? I wish I knew. The police can’t help you unless you let them. And they need to know about men who are stalking women. It makes their day when they put a violent man behind bars.
I have a friend who’s ex-boyfriend is stalking her. He’s doing it a creepy, smarmy way. He left a magazine in her mailbox. He circled an article on the cover and wrote, this made me think of you. It’s just a magazine you may say. But she moved after breaking up with him and has not told him where she lived. So he discovered her whereabouts without her consent. The magazine was there to let her know that he knows where she lives. Not only that it against Federal Law to leave something without postage in someone’s mailbox. That – is – stalking.
Then her current boyfriend got a call from his bank that a man claiming to be an investment consultant came in the bank asking questions about him and his bank accounts. They figured out that it was the ex doing the snooping. So now this jackass is not only stalking her but her boyfriend as well.
I got a text message from her this morning asking me if I sent her a Valentine ’s Day heart boxed candy. I didn’t and asked if there was no card with the shipment. She replied no, that it was probably her ex. I told her not to eat the candy, and quoted her some facts from the National Center for Victims of Crime. This site lists the unwanted sending of gifts, cards, letters or emails as part of the definition of a stalker. She texted me back basically telling me to shut up about it, in a nice way of course, but the message was clear.
Well, fortunately for me I have a blog and so I don’t have to shut up. I can say it loud. Ladies you DO NOT have to put up with any kind of contact or communication from anyone from your past. Even a relative can be legally defined as a stalker if you do not want anything to do with them and they persist anyway. Also, there is a point where a person ceases being the “ex” and becomes a criminal stalker. And that line is drawn when you decide when you want no further contact with them. They don’t get decide this. YOU decide this.
Over the years I’ve known a lot of good women who were stalked by their ex-boyfriends or husbands. A couple of women ignored their stalkers and were terrorized for years before their stalker either gave up or went to jail for other reasons. Some even went on to receive threatening letters from their stalker from in jail. The misery went on for what seemed like forever. Their lives and the lives of the loved ones and friends were significantly diminished because the stalking.
The smart women went to the police, got restraining orders, and followed it up by calling the police every single time their stalker made any kind of contact them. The stalkers got the message and backed off. Turns out these tough guys were afraid of the police and the possibility of jail time.
Three of these women are in their graves now. They did not go to the police or do anything else to stop the stalking. One was beaten to death by her ex-husband after he broke in her house and shot and killed her boyfriend. One was shot in the head at a Wendy’s Hamburger drive though window by her ex at lunch time in broad daylight. The ex-husband of the third shot her and her female attorney to death in the stairwell of the parking garage next to the court-house.
Stalking is not like your car tires. If you ignore the problem – it will not go away. Stalkers get off on terrorizing you. It is not love or grief. It is a power trip. They didn’t get what they want and intend to make you pay and pay and pay. It’s sick – and it’s not your fault.
Information about stalkers:
Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide*
- 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.
- 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner.
- 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
- 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.
- 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.
*The murder of a woman.
[Judith McFarlane et al., "Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide," Homicide Studies 3, no. 4 (1999).]
A stalker can be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Most stalking cases involve men stalking women, but men do stalk men, women do stalk women, and women do stalk men.
- 2/3 of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week, many daily, using more than one method.
- 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.
- Weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases.
- Almost 1/3 of stalkers have stalked before.
- Intimate partner stalkers frequently approach their targets, and their behaviors escalate quickly.
- All 50 states have stalking laws
Victims of Crime.org fact sheet
I read an eBook a few days ago called Writing Habit Mastery: How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by S.J. Scott.
It was a quickie book. I finished it an about an hour. Nothing really earth shattering or new about the book, but it clicked for me. He stressed the importance of putting words on paper every day no matter what. He also pointed out that our inner critic and editor keeps us from committing our thoughts to writing. We get so caught up in correcting and rewording our thoughts that we get hung up in editing and don’t produce.
Scott also stresses the ability to touch type and says if you don’t know how then learn. There are plenty of inexpensive software programs out there for that purpose. Hunting and pecking around the keyboard gets in the way of a fast and free flow of thoughts. I can touch type and with practice I’m getting even better and have almost reached the singularity where I can type as fast as I think. The only reason I don’t now is because I let that little editor devil sitting on my shoulder interrupt my thought with stuff like, “you left a comma out back there, woman. No one is going to take you seriously if you don’t even know how to punctuate.” My goal this week is to learn how to ignore my demons and brain storm my way through my first draft. It may come out as, “tundra…squirrel…candy…murderer…UPS Truck.” So what? That what’s editing is for. I’m going to take S.J. Scott’s advice and leave the editing until after I finish my first draft.
Another thing Scott said was that Steven King writes 2,000 words every morning and then spends the rest of his day taking care of personal business, napping or whatever. Not sure if this is true or not but it sounds believable. So I said to myself, “hey, if Steven King can produce his copious amounts of books by doing a mere 2,000 words a morning then so can I!.” This statement probably does not make any sense to anyone other than me, but who cares? All I’m after here is what works for me.
I’ve managed the 2,000 words a morning for 4 days in a row now and I feel pretty damned good. 4 days does not a good habit make, but it’s a start. And it’s much more fun goofing off the rest of the day or taking care of 45 piddly errands when you have a sense of accomplishment under your belt.
And now the topic of editing. I don’t need to read a book about writing to know that EDITING IS IMPORTANT. Merrily skipping over this step is not OK. Mr. Husband and I have been snowed in for the past few days. I ended up using him as a sounding board because he was the only human I had access too. I could have called someone, but they wouldn’t see my arm movements or see me ripping my hair out.
As I work on my writing craft I begin to notice more exactly why a particular passage in a book annoys me instead of just a vague feeling of distaste. Yesterday I was reading a book The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. My review is that the book is incredible. Possibly the biggest block buster of the century, while at the same time being the worst book I’ve ever read. They could use it as a basis for college classes as an example of how not to construct a sentence. The grammar is so butchered that there were places where I was literally screaming though my teeth. Hubman actually tore himself away from playing Star Wars on the computer to come see if I was OK. I ended up with a huge headache, but still couldn’t put the darn book down.
That being said 5,000+ readers on Amazon rated this book 5 stars so there has to be something to it. There were 120 1 star reviews and most of them were to do with poor grammar, sentence structure and totally unbelievable plot twists, including escaping a monastery in Tibet in a hot air balloon?!? But, then this proves that if readers love a story or author they will overlook a multitude of sins. I’ll keep that in mind when I put my toe in the water. If I had to rate the book I’d say 5 stars for plot and 1 star for sentences and paragraphs that were like nails on a chalkboard.
At one point early in the book I counted the word “had” 6 times in one paragraph. It was in every sentence. The word had was in 1 of the sentences 3 times. The following made up sentence is an example: Because he got drunk early in the day he had had to change his pants 2 times because he had forgotten to put on his underwear the first time. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be “he was so drunk he forgot to put on his underwear.” OK, maybe it’s just me. I’m no expert. But come on! Many of the common novel-writing programs, like Write it Now and Scrivener have a handy tool that analyses the number of times a particular word shows up in your manuscript. If your novel is 80,000 words and the word had shows up 15,000 times it might be a good idea to rethink sentence construction. Just a thought.
Love you all, and as always, thank you for tuning in to my rants.