“I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed. From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity.”—WIRED (via rachelfershleiser)
So it seems stalker might get off lightly. How would you feel about that, silly little idiot.
How I feel has nothing to do with it. I immediately sent this message to the NZ police and directly to the FBI and directly to the victims’ assistance counsel who has been keeping me up to date on everything, informing them that you, my stalker, have now broken the terms of your arrest.
The terms, as a refresher, were:
No using the Internet
No using post
No contacting Melissa Anelli or any of her family and friends
No contacting anyone in North America.
No one but my stalker would have had any information about the severity or lack thereof of her sentence. And after 6.5 years I can spot a sentence she has written from a mile away without reading glasses. I am publishing this so that it is well known that she has broken the terms of her bail. Because the last time I wasn’t silent about one of her messages, it led to her arrest. I don’t want this break of her bail conditions - while awaiting sentencing no less! - to go unnoted.
The Melissa of a year ago would not have published this. But I am so done. I have done everything everyone has asked. I have written the letters to the judges going over the whole thing in excruciating and personally painful detail. I have saved evidence with the organization of a librarian. I have answered every question and waited through every deferment and delay, and I am done just doing what is usually done in these instances. This is endless, and it is harmful, and it must stop, and “getting off lightly” would be a complete travesty. As is the fact that no one is monitoring her well enough to see how she is breaking the terms of her bail, and that no one is convinced she should be incarcerated in some fashion.
You know what I’m not done with, and can’t just decide to be done with? Being a victim. That is up to the people who work for the legal system of New Zealand. My being a victim. Up to them. How I deal with being a victim? Up to me. Whether I am continually victimized? Them.
And maybe making this public will make me less sympathetic to some judge down there and that will lessen her sentence for some completely non-sensical reason, I don’t know. But I am so beyond done with it being everyone else's call.
This is life with a serious stalker. Everyone who is worried about harassment on the Internet needs to see and know and understand this. This goes beyond getting hordes of hateful or threatening YouTube comments: this is about when someone gets in. We are talking about 6.5 years of constant threats and abuse that go offline and into the physical realm, stalking and harassment that touch everyone I know, that has not yet been deterred by TWO ARRESTS and the threat of jail. If you aren’t sure what this post is about, read this for a reminder.
Excuse me. I must now go and undo all of the small victories from the past few months, starting with the allowing of asks.
…though not on YouTube, and not in person. I’ll have more details when sentencing happens (in a month) but … my stalker yesterday pled guilty to her charges of criminal harassment.
It’s something that is weirdly such a big deal that I’m having trouble remembering that it happened and processing…
This is such a big deal. Melissa has been stalked for years and it took an outcry and the help of the press to really get the ball rolling on this court case. Melissa has been so amazing throughout all of this—she suffered, a lot, all the time. But she always tried to keep positive and put on a bright face. She’s amazing. And this is the right outcome. Here is hoping that it stops, forever.
ASK AUNTIE MJ: How to write a letter to someone you found online
Here is an email I got today. I am showing you my reply because I get a LOT of emails like this one, but this one stood out for a few reasons—and I think this is a teachable moment about how to ask people for things.
I’m ——, host of [a personal site]. I came across your work 13 Blue Envelopes on Goodreads, and I thought it would be a great addition to a giveaway blog hop that I’m currently involved in. I wanted to know if you would like to partake in the giveaway blog hop by offering an ecopy of either 13 Blue Envelopes or any other one of your books (as long as it’s family-friendly) to the visitors of my blog. The blog hop begins on October 6th and ends on October 20th.
If you would be interested in offering an ecopy as part of the giveaway that would be great. If you can’t partake, I understand. Either way, I would appreciate a response, so I can know who to add to the list. Thank you.
- hey, how’s it going.
"I’m ——, host of [a personal site]. I came across your work 13 Blue Envelopes on Goodreads, and I thought it would be a great addition to a giveaway blog hop that I’m currently involved in."
- To be clear, it sounds like you haven’t read it. You’ve just seen mention of one of my books—the third one I wrote, which came out in 2005. I don’t know why you think it would be good (see above note about how it doesn’t look like you’ve read it). Also, what is a blog hop? WHAT IS A BLOG HOP. Don’t throw around terms like “blog hop” and leaving me hanging like this.
"I wanted to know if you would like to partake in the giveaway blog hop by offering an ecopy of either 13 Blue Envelopes"
-SERIOUSLY WHAT IS A BLOG HOP. Also, I don’t have an ecopy to send you. That sounds like a terrible idea. What you want, in essence, is for me to send you, a person I do not know, a PDF of my work—work you have not read.
"or any other one of your books (as long as it’s family-friendly) to the visitors of my blog."
-Oh. So you want me to send you, a person I do not know, a PDF of my work FOR FREE, but only if it is FAMILY FRIENDLY. I do not know what this means. My book does not insult families. My work has never, to my knowledge, burned down a family home. When I see the words “family friendly,” I tend to slide back in the chair because those words are used by many people to censor materials by using a more or less manginess phrase to justify removal of materials. But go on…
"The blog hop begins on October 6th and ends on October 20th.”
-WHAT IS A BLOG HOP.
"If you would be interested in offering an ecopy as part of the giveaway that would be great. If you can’t partake, I understand."
- I’m not? For those reasons?
"Either way, I would appreciate a response, so I can know who to add to the list. Thank you."
- Well, this is my response. And I’ve written it not to be snarky, but to illustrate that this is not how you ask people for things. But just while we’re here: why is your list my problem? You don’t know me. I don’t know you. You just want stuff, and now your list is my problem too?
Look, I know people have blogs! I have one! THIS IS IT. I give stuff away on it and write for it myself. I understand that it is normal for blogs to give away books and to solicit copies. This letter is not the worst of its kind, but there are classic failure points here that we can turn into SUCCESS points.
It’s AUNTIE MJ’S LETTER WRITING SCHOOL TIME.
1. Show that you have some idea who the person you are writing to is.
This is general courtesy to anyone. If you are writing and asking for something, show that there is a reason you have come to them. You don’t need a fancy reason. You don’t need a complicated reason. But you do need some kind of starting point for the conversation that isn’t ”I saw your name on the internet and I figured you would just send me stuff.” Most people are pretty generous and don’t mind being asked things—they just don’t want to feel like they’re being spammed. This kind of thing is one step above a letter that is addressed to “occupant.” “You seem like you have stuff. You’ll do.” Make a small effort.
2. Explain who YOU are.
This does not have to be fancy either. If you have a site, explain what that site is. It’s not enough just to say, “This is my site and because it exists you should send me things.” It doesn’t have to be big or famous, it just needs a basic explanation.
3. Explain why you are asking.
I don’t know why this person wants a book from me. I don’t know if this is for a charity (it doesn’t seem to be), or to promote their site (which is a fine reason if you’re polite about it). Blog hop means nothing to me—unless it is a new term for “blog tour,” which is one of my least favorite terms. Just say why you have come and what you intend to do with the object you desire in a way that acknowledges IN SOME FASHION why the person should give it to you.
4. Consider what you’re asking for.
This letter clearly riled me because it asked for two very specific and problematic things. One, the writer wants an ecopy—so, some kind of unlocked copy of my work that could be disseminated. I am all about giving away free e-copies when I can, but not like this. I don’t have such a thing anyway. Most writers don’t.
Of course the big problem was the “family friendly,” which is, as I said above, a nonsense term. But also? When you ask for things? You don’t say, “Not only do I want something from you, person I seem to know nothing about, but I want specific things. DON’T YOU SEND ME TRASH.”
To be clear, I have no problem whatsoever with people writing in with requests similar to this! I can’t always do it, because I get a lot of requests and I only have so many books. At a certain point I have to say sorry and no. But that’s fine! I’ve never had anyone be anything but polite when I said I didn’t have any books to give.
My point is, when you are writing to someone—anyone—I’m not just talking about authors here—you have to think through the request. Here is a cheat sheet:
1. Hello. This is who I am, in brief (or long) detail.
2. I know who you are. I’m not just reaching out blindly to someone I just Googled.
3. This is what I would like, and why I would like it.
4. And obviously don’t insult them in the process by making additional demands, especially ones that might cast aspersions on their work. No conditions! You are asking for something!
If you follow these steps, I believe your requests will be more successful. POLITENESS, my friends. POLITENESS.
As I just mentioned on Twitter, I am going to be starting a more formal, regular feature called Ask Auntie MJ. I will start this at the release of my new site, and the idea is to do it weekly. But you can use the ask box to send in questions, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO SO.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN AN ARC OF THE SHADOW CABINET???
The Shadow Cabinet, the third book in the Shades of London series and the sequel to The Madness Underneath, is coming out on February 5, 2015.
BUT MAYBE YOU WANT TO READ IT NOW? MAYBE?
If so, I am having a CONTEST based on a Twitter suggestion I just got. It involves COSPLAY. Let’s see your best cosplay from The Shades of London. I’m only looking for Shades of London in this particular contest, but any character—or indeed, any NON CHARACTER OBJECT—will be accepted. You can post your photo either here on Tumblr or on Twitter. Just use the tag #shadesoflondoncosplay so I can find it. I will be reblogging many, I am sure, and will announce the WINNER next Monday, at noon (EST).
So you have until then. But I will be checking throughout and SHARING your efforts.
USE THE HASHTAG.
(Also, a request to those who read the book in advance: please, if you don’t mind, don’t post spoilers. Spoilers make people SAD.)
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. As fellow YouTubers, we have much respect for others who put so much hard work into building their channel. It’s not easy, and you should be proud! That said, we’ve noticed that in your success, there has been a lack of respect in…
Do you have any questions that you wish you readers asked at your events? :))
"Thematically, do you find that your novels and childhood influences (both literary and actual) are linked and if yes, do you consciously choose vocabulary, plot structures, and character arcs to support these themes? Please explain using examples from the text."
In the last day, a newsstoryhasbeengoingaround that an author claims to have solved the mystery of Jack the Ripper. My entire timeline is filled with this fact. The reason people keep sending me links about the news is because I wrote a book called The Name of the Star, which involves the murders of Jack the Ripper recreated in modern day London. (I won’t derail this by talking about my book. If you want to read it, it’s available, and you can read the first 1/3 of it for free here if you want. But you don’t have to. I’m just letting you know.)
Because of this, two years of my life were devoted to reading about Jack the Ripper. I read primary sources and secondary sources. I walked East London over and over, sometimes on Ripper tours, and then by myself. I was proficient enough to go to all the crime scenes without aid of a map, to know where the bodies had been located, to know where the now-demolished buildings and streets were. I’m an ARMCHAIR EXPERT, if you will, and maybe even if you won’t. I don’t have the expertise of a dedicated Ripperologist, but I do all right.
For this reason, I have a lot of interest in this piece of “news” (see how I put it in quotes)—and I want to answer the two hundred people who are writing to me saying, “DID YOU SEE THIS?”
I saw it. Here is the super long-winded answer of what I think about it. Get ready. You did ask. HERE I GO.
There are a few things about this case in general that need to be said before you can address the question of solving it. Jack the Ripper is a popular folk character, almost of mythical proportions. There’s a cartoonish image of the murderer—spooky, tall hat, maybe a cape, taunting the police. He’s an industry—the subject of dozens of books (including mine), movies, tours, haunted houses, television shows, etc. For all of this publicity, the actual, verifiable information about the case is thinner than you might imagine.
If you Google Jack the Ripper, you’ll get a lot of images like this. It’s a bit cartoonish.
The reality is this: there were murders in Whitechapel, a very poor area of London, in the fall of 1888. Some of these murders fell into a very particular and disturbing pattern: the victims were all prostitutes, all female, all at the end of the social scale. The murders were notable for their significant dismemberment, arrangement of body parts, and (in some of the cases) speed. The actual number of murders attributed to “Jack the Ripper” is disputed, ranging from four to eleven, with a general consensus falling with a canonical five: Mary Anne Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. These five murders took place on the 31st of August 1888 (Nichols), the 8th of September (Chapman), the night of September 29th-30th (Stride and Eddowes), and the 9th of November (Kelly).
The name Jack the Ripper comes from a signature on a letter that was reportedly sent by the killer to the Central News Agency of London (dubbed the “Dear Boss” letter). Opinions are divided, but the letter was widely considered to be a fake and written by a journalist. Hundreds of such letters were received.
The involvement of the news media is a huge part of the Jack the Ripper story. At the time, newspapers had just become affordable. There was a sudden push to get lurid stories. And so the Whitechapel murders became a hugely popular topic, boosted by the various (and likely fake) communications from the killer himself.
So there are a number of issues already with the case in terms of who the victims were and how they were related—as well as the known characteristics of the killer, since there was a mix of fact and fiction in the reported accounts. Add to that the fact that the case was investigated by two separate police organizations (the City of London and the rest of London were legally differentiated and the two police departments did not share a lot of information). Add to that the fact that murder investigations in 1888 were extremely primitive. People walked in and out of murder scenes. People took souvenirs. Bodies were taken, in whatever way possible, to whatever place was handy. Only Mary Kelly’s murder scene was photographed, and again, not in a way that even remotely approaches anything we are used to. The police files on the case—the ones that currently exist—are just a small pile of folders. Most of the case material is missing. Police files were not archived carefully. Officers took evidence files on the case as curiosities (some of these have turned up over time). Some of the materials are simply gone—lost to time and circumstance.
In sum, there’s not a lot of established facts to work with. But people do work with these facts all the time. Ripperologists—people from all walks of life who devote their time and talents to investigating this case—have poured over the available materials for over a hundred years. There are no shortage of theories.
Someone “solves” the Jack the Ripper murders on a regular basis. Probably the biggest last public solving of the case was in 2003, when Patricia Cornwell solved the case and identified the painter Walter Sickert as Jack the Ripper, also using DNA evidence and her own private investigation. Among people who study the case, Cornwall’s conclusions are considered inconclusive at best, at worst, ridiculous. (You can read all about her theories, if you wish. She wrote an entire book on the subject.)
Eleven years later, we again have an author and more DNA evidence. Again, the “solving” is presented in terms of someone having just written a book on the subject. The person named as the killer in this case is Aaron Kominski. Kominski is a popular suspect, almost always named in the pool of best known possibilities. (You can see a listing of popular suspects here.) It is thought that Kominski was the person the police in 1888 thought was behind the crimes, but there is some debate on this subject.
The proof being offered now (as I understand it, from my reading of the news articles in the last 24 hours) comes from Catherine Eddowes’s shawl. The man who claims to have solved the case, Russell Edwards, says he obtained her shawl from relatives of one of the policemen who was on duty the night Eddowes was murdered. This policeman allegedly took the shawl as a gift to his wife. (I just want to stop here and say that I know a lot of you will pause right there and say, “WHO TAKES A SHAWL FROM A MURDER SCENE AND GIVES IT AS S GIFT?” That is a fair question, and one that does require an answer. However, it’s not as crazy as it might sound to us. At the time, clothing was simply more valuable. You didn’t just throw it away. So as super-gross as a crime scene shawl is, yes, there is a possibility that a policeman making little money in 1888 might pick it up as a gift. Yes, it’s still gross, and according the news articles, his wife DID think it was gross and put it in a box.)
So we have one piece of evidence here, and it’s going to be very hard to determine the provenance of that item. It might be her shawl. It might not be. Let’s say it is. How many people handled it? There is a concept in law enforcement called the chain of custody—and it’s all about limiting and identifying who or what has touched a piece of evidence from the moment a crime has happened up until the time that item is examined. This shawl, even if it did belong to Catherine Eddowes, has been floating around for 126 years. And the DNA itself: what’s the quality of the sample? Samples degrade. This is a fun fact I learned when serving as the forewoman of a murder trial. The murder in that case took place in 1989 and I was treated to two days of testimony from experts from the NYPD about what happens to DNA samples that are maybe twenty years old and in modern storage conditions.
There are a lot of questions here, and it will be interesting to hear independent reviews of the case. It could be true—maybe there is something to this. But I think there are a lot of reasons to hang back before applying the solved label to this case. I think this is an great example of how we need to question things presented as facts—when in fact, all we have so far are the claims on someone’s press release. People like to sell books, after all.
Having said that, maybe buy The Name of the Star. At least read the free sample.
Oh, come on. This was a long post. Throw me a bone.
For the same reason I’m angry at most videos of sky-diving and scuba-diving dogs. Because the videos are full of laughing humans with the delighted body language of people making videos they expect to go viral, and the videos are full of dogs with the body language of a terrified, unprepared animal.
I grew up with show dogs and show horses and cats and parakeets and now live with dogs and cats and cows and 9 miniature silky fainting goats, and I’m very aware that animals have to do things that terrify them all the time. But I’m also aware that living respectfully and responsibly with these incredible creatures means that it’s my job to introduce them to a frightening or unfamiliar situation as slowly and carefully as I can, with an eye toward whatever their species needs to understand it. And it’s my job to only put them into situations like that when they need it — transportation, for instance, is bewildering to every animal, ever — or when I think that the pay-off will ultimately be rewarding for both of us (showing, swimming, walking past the blue barrel that is strangely terrifying).
In my kindest moments, I assume that the sky-diving/ scuba-diving/ zip-lining dog owners are motivated by that second impulse. They truly believe the dogs will enjoy the experience eventually. But last night I went looking for a video of a voluntarily zip-lining dog after seeing that latest gif show up on my dash. Instead I found three different videos of dogs just harnessed up and then shoved into mid-air. The result is the gif that I reblogged last night — a stiff-legged dog whose body language shouts WHAT IS HAPPENING AM I GOING TO DIE.
This is the equivalent of pushing a human off the top of a high-rise building without reassuring her that she’ll survive, and then saying, “she’ll learn to love it!”
Ms. Bardugo, I loved your first books, but I was terribly disappointed to see you give in to political correctness in Ruin & Rising. You had a great story and then you ruined it with unnecessary lesbianism. Authors don't need to make statements, they just need to write good books. I hope you'll remember that in the future.
I was really tempted to ignore this because I don’t believe in giving anon wangs a platform, but the term “unnecessary lesbianism” made me laugh so hard that I caved.
Authors can write good books and make statements. I’m going to make some statements now. (Get ready.)
Queer people and queer relationships aren’t less necessary to narrative than cishet people or relationships. In fact, given the lovely emails and messages I’ve received about Tamar and Nadia (and given the existence of anon wangs like you), I’d say making queer relationships visible in young adult fiction is an excellent—and yes, necessary—idea.
I do agree that story trumps statement or we’d all just write angry pamphlets, but queer people exist both in my world and the world of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t see how including them in my work is making a statement unless that statement is “I won’t willfully ignore or exclude people in order to make a few anon wangs happy.” If that’s the statement I’m making, I’m totally down with it.
Also, I’m going to take this moment to shout out Malinda Lo, Laura Lam, Alex London, David Levithan, Emily Danforth, Emma Trevayne, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Clare, and to link to Malinda’s 2013 guide to LGBT in YA. Because why just give attention to bigots when you can talk about awesome books and authors instead?
Remember how everyone’s favorite part of Heath Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain was his almost painful physical repression, his reluctance to express any emotion that wasn’t punching or SHUTTING DOWN? His voice was closed in on itself in a raspy burr — he fell to the ground rather…
“Last year, in total, British police officers actually fired their weapons three times. The number of people fatally shot was zero. In 2012 the figure was just one. Even after adjusting for the smaller size of Britain’s population, British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014 the police force of one small American city, Albuquerque in New Mexico, shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.
The explanation for this gap is simple. In Britain, guns are rare. Only specialist firearms officers carry them; and criminals rarely have access to them. The last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50. Police shootings are enormously controversial. The shooting of Mark Duggan, a known gangster, which in 2011 started riots across London, led to a fiercely debated inquest. Last month, a police officer was charged with murder over a shooting in 2005. The reputation of the Metropolitan Police’s armed officers is still barely recovering from the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian, in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London.
In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police—justified or not—seem sure to continue.”—Armed police: Trigger happy | The Economist (via kenyatta)
It's really disappointing to see you co-sign that Holly Black post as if the majority of YA authors don't write about very whitewashed worlds where queer/trans/poc people may as well not exist. Telling people to change that reality with their purchasing power is a tad hypocritical when you all write a certain way because you know that's what sells. I'd be more sympathetic to your point if you weren't directly contributing to the problem.
The point of Holly’s post is that buying works by PoC/LGBTQ/trans writers will literally change the landscape of what’s out there and what’s a bestseller and what’s mainstream. I do sign on to that.
As for the need for more diversity in all books being written, yes to that too. Though, I wish you wouldn’t say I am doing something because “you know that’s what sells.” People think writers do EVERYTHING because “that’s what sells.” People are always reading our minds/explaining our motives—people from every standpoint. Most book banners use the “you do this because this is what sells” in order to denigrate work. My goal for myself is to try harder and do better and make good stories.
But the point remains that diverse writers of diverse books are out there, and by buying their books, the playing field changes. It sounds like maybe you aren’t aware of all these writers. That’s a problem. But it’s something that so many good people are working on now, to bring these writers up to the front of the store/the reading list.
EVEN MORE NEWS: I am putting Wattpad online today, AS YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED. NEW ADDITION: A Study in Sink, my John Green/Sherlock fanfic, originally written for the Harry Potter Alliance. NOW YOU CAN READ IT FOR FREE.
YOU CAN READ A LOT OF THE NAME OF THE STAR NOW FOR FREE
I know. I am just full of this stuff today. But I thought I would let you know, since I just put it up, that the first 1/4 of The Name of the Star is now on Wattpad and you can read it for free, if you want.
Many of you have asked me, "Maureen, what is going on with The Boy in the Smoke?" And I have puffed on my cigar and looked at you enigmatically before spinning in my chair. Because I could not tell you, even though I knew.
Now I can tell you. And I shall.
*spins in chair for a moment*
FIRST! I will explain what THE BOY IN THE SMOKE is. The Boy in the Smoke is the Shades of London PREQUEL. It comes BEFORE The Name of the Star, and it details what happens to Stephen Dene that causes him to develop his sight! Yes!
*stops randomly bolding words*
I wrote this novella for World Book Day UK, and it is on sale throughout the UK. However! I wanted to make it available to ANYONE! For FREE!
And now, I am doing so.
On August 18th, The Boy in the Smoke will go live on Wattpad. The story has four sections, and one section will go live every week!
A: It is free as the proverbial bird. I wanted it to be free and SO IT IS!
Q: Why Wattpad?
A: Because I think Wattpad is an awesome platform on which you can share and comment on stories.
Q: What’s the catch?
A: There is no catch.
Q:Do I need to read this to understand things that will be coming up in future Shades of London books?
A: No, but there are details in the story that will certainly ENHANCE that experience.
Q: What if I want a physical copy or an ebook? AND I WANT IT NOW.
A: You’ll need to order that from the UK. Try Waterstones. Click here for a physical copy or here to immediately get the ebook.
I should add on a content note that the second part of the story (it is divided into four marked sections) contains a scene of a suicide attempt (not completed). The story is about NOT committing that act. It’s about how that act is a terrible mistake. However, I wanted this to be known for anyone who, for whatever reason, might have an issue with reading such a scene.
And that’s it! Of course, THE SHADOW CABINET comes out in the United States on February 5th. ALL YOUR ANSWERS ARE COMING!