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Friday, May 24, 2013

Authors Behaving Badly (#FridayFlash)

In a parallel universe, this is on one of the cable channels…

Remixed from graphics
on openclipart.org
SFX: upbeat theme music.
Animation: hand dips quill pen into black inkwell, marked with a skull and crossbones. Writes show title.

Voiceover: Look out, readers and reviewers, it’s Authors Behaving Badly!

Animation: hand scribbles across title, revealing:
Interior, library. Penny Dreadful leaning on a table strewn with books and eReaders.

Penny: Welcome to this week’s segment of Authors Behaving Badly. I’m your host, Penny Dreadful. I may host the show, but you make it go! If you see an author behaving badly, let us know! Send the particulars—we love video if you can get it—to abb-alert@abb.example.com! If we use your author in one of our segments, we’ll send you an official “Ink-Splattered Bystander” t-shirt!

Now, let’s go to our first misbehaving wordslinger.


Penny: Gator Scott caught indie author Leonard Konrad getting a little huffy in his response to a review on Goodreads. The reply inexplicably disappeared, but Gator saved a screenshot. Mr. Konrad wanted to know, “Did you really read the book I wrote? Maybe you just skimmed it? Or do you have a pink Kindle, like in Stephen King’s UR, that downloads books from parallel universes? I suspect the latter, because your review details have a superficial resemblance to Magic Trip. But anyone reading with a little care and comprehension would have understood that Chapter 1 leaves off in mid-summer and Chapter 2 picks up at the beginning of fall. I could have included those six weeks where the lovers develop their relationship, but then you would have complained about the story being long and boring, instead of overly brief with abrupt scene changes.”

When we emailed Konrad about his outburst, he admitted to writing, then deleting, the reply. He explained, “I thought I knew better than to read reviews when I was drinking, but I went one click too far.” Well, we’ll let you off the hook this time, Leonard, but we’re keeping an eye on you! Makes the “I’m watching you” gesture.

Cut to commercials.

Black screen, giant red letters flashing CODE RED!. SFX: buzzer.

Cut to: exterior. Penny, holding microphone, standing on small-town sidewalk. Low palm trees sit in corner planters.

Penny: For our Big Blowup of the Week, we travel to Houma, Louisiana, between the swamps and the sea. Houma is known mostly as a bedroom community for oil services companies, but it’s also the home-a best-selling author Andrea Wheat! Wheat has made a lot of dough off her blockbuster horror series, Biker Ghoul of New Orleans, but the critics were unkind to the fifth book, Hurricane Nights.

Animation/overlay: cover of Hurricane Nights tumbles onto the screen, landing in the corner. Penny continues.

Penny: Many suggested the series had run out of gas, and now it was time for Andrea to put down the kickstand and start something new. But undaunted, her publisher released Book 6, Floating Crypts, last month. Even some of her long-time fans had trouble finding nice things to say about this one. “After Hurricane Nights, I really hoped that would be the end,” said one. “She’s dragged this one out too long.”

Closeup of Penny. But if the fans were dismayed, the critics were apoplectic. Reviewer Kim Flameside wrote, “It’s appropriate that Wheat writes for Random House, because this story was completely random. It seems to be nothing more than scenes from previous books, thrown into a blender, and poured onto the page. This series is two books past its prime, but the temptation to stick with a moneyspinner is hard to overcome.”

Cut to: interior, apartment building. Wheat took particular umbrage to Flameside’s review, spotlighting what she called the “nastier passages” on her blog and inviting her enormous fanbase to share their thoughts. And share them they did! Not only did they inundate Flameside’s blog with insults and outright threats, some tracked down his address and phone number.

Cut to: interior. Man on sofa, face pixelated. Title: Kim Flameside.

Flameside: When I started getting death threats on my answering machine, I got out of Dodge. I’ve changed my town, my car, my phone, and I’m thinking about changing my name. All this, over one review of a seriously flawed book!

Fade to: answering machine. Penny voiceover. This is the message that Flameside said was the last straw.

Voiceover: woman’s hysterical voice. Titling: transcript. You’re jealous, you stupid bleeep! If you had one percent of the talent that Andrea Wheat has, you’d be writing your own books instead of tearing down the hard work of great people! When I come to Memphis and find your bleeep little powder-blue Accord, I’m gonna run you off the road. And then, I’m gonna bleeep you up! You better have your will in order, is all I got to say. Click

Penny: Andrea Wheat turned down our request for an interview. Her publicist had no comment, but Wheat did have this to say in email: “I can’t be responsible for every random person who uses my name to justify their actions. I don’t condone violence, or threats of violence. But maybe reviewers shouldn’t hide behind a keyboard and take potshots at authors’ hard work, without expecting a little backlash from time to time.”

And that’s where it stands. We had dozens of people send us this sordid tale. So many, in fact, that we’re putting your names in a hat. Ten of you will receive our official “Ink-Splattered Bystander” t-shirt. As for Kim Flameside, he tells us that he stands by his review, and will review other books, but with comments turned off for now. ABB has offered him a co-host spot. And Andrea Wheat has earned her place in the not-so-coveted ABB Red List!

Fade to: logo animation. That’s all for this week. Remember to support your local authors… unless they’re behaving badly!


  1. The thing is this doesn't feel like fiction.

  2. I might even read Biker Ghouls Of New Orleans!

    Must admit I don't think writers have any right to be precious about our work. If we have the gumption to believe our words deserve to be read by others, then we have to take whatever comments come back on our work

    marc nash

  3. I agree with Peter. Could picture his all as if it were bad reality television, unfortunately.

  4. LOL....Great work Larry. I always have trouble writing plays and what not. Love the characters and the way you pulled it off...Kudos.

  5. Yeah. If the public new more than three authors' faces, this would be perfect reality TV. Too plausible, man! Too plausible!

  6. I enjoyed this Larry! The angry fan made me laugh, and it's kind of scary, because there are people like that out there!

  7. Peter, the only fictional part is that it's a TV show. Unfortunately.

    Marc, I have to agree. Especially if they paid for the privilege.

    Thanks, Bev. That was the whole point. :-P

    Tony, coming up with the names was half the fun!

    EJ, I've done this sort of thing before… I can point you to some of my "On the Georgia Road" stories, for example. It seems to go over well.

    Craig, there was a death threat to a reviewer this week, in fact. That's what prompted me to write this.

  8. So crazy it could be true... because, if I spotted the references right, a lot of it is! Well played.

    There is a Book Television, at least up here in Canada. Their schedule looks like it could use a little spice. I wonder what would be needed to pitch this to them?


  9. You've got the tone down! Fun and funny read. (I enjoy stopping by here.)

  10. I can understand authors getting upset at bad reviews, and I can understand fans wanting to defend an author they like, but it just always seems like it goes beyond the limits of good sense.

    Also, just wondering if by "the home-a" you meant "the home of"?

  11. Katherine, that sounds like a really funny idea! It might be worth pitching, just for the practice.

    Thanks, Peg! (For both.)

    Icy, or maybe we just hear about the over the top responses?

    Houma is pronounced "home-a," so that was an attempt at a pun. Like everyone else, you might expect it to be "who-ma" or "how-ma." Sometimes I think some towns do that to mark outsiders.

  12. I actually wish this was a real show. That's one reality show I would watch! I wonder what that says about me? *bites fingernails*

    It's truly sad though that a show like this would have plenty of material.

  13. I actually wish this was a real show. That's one reality show I would watch! I wonder what that says about me? *bites fingernails*

    It's truly sad though that a show like this would have plenty of material.

  14. A hoot, Larry!

    I love the graphic and your stage/TV directions are wondrous.

    Plus, I want my “Ink-Splattered Bystander” tee-shirt so bad!


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