Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday 20

Answer the Anonymous E-mail
(A multiple-choice game)

How to play: Read the e-mail, then choose the best response.

I. The Confrontational Copycat

Dear Blog Owner:

I am writing this to inform you that I have started a new blog named Paperback Seller/Paperback Reviewer/Paperback Collector/Paperback Basher/Paperback Copy-Editor/Paperback Critic. I love the Beatles, I have been thinking about using this name for two/four/six/twenty years and it's my Constitutional right to use it. This has nothing to do with the traffic you get at PBW that you really don't deserve, because I think your blog is terrible. But since the names are conflicting you should change yours, because I'm not changing mine.

Sincerely,
Anonymous Blogger

P.S. Henceforth I shall be known as PBS/PBR/PBC/PBB/PBC-E/PBC, so you should also stop using the acronym PBW.

Your response:

A) Ignore
B) Change the name of your blog
C) Respond with a refusal that is very polite, but will piss off the recipient anyway, who will write her next post about you being an angry, hateful jerk out to ruin her new blog.
D) Other: [fill in your answer]

II. I Am a Complete Stranger to You, But I Read All Your Books, Therefore We Have A Close, Personal Relationship

Dear Writer:

I read your blog every day, and I know you hate me....

Sincerely,
Anonymous Person You Don't Know

Your response:

A) Ignore
B) Respond with an honest, polite denial and hope the stalking doesn't escalate
C) Remember every scene from Swim Fan as you're changing your name, dyeing your hair, and packing to move to another city
D) Other: [fill in your answer]

III. Stalker Type B: The Paranoid Writer You've Never Heard of Who Believes You're Badmouthing Her/Him

You Witch:

You think I don't know you were writing about me last week? You thought you were being clever by referring to me only as THE ROOKIE, but my novel has the word AND in the title, so I KNEW you were bashing me. You're out to get me now, is that it? Well, it isn't going to work. You're just jealous because you know I'm the BETTER WRITER. I know it, too, although I'd never STOOP to read any of the DRECK you write. I'm going to badmouth you to your editor, my editor, everyone I know and at every conference I go to for the rest of my life. You might as well QUIT writing now, because your career is OVER.

Signed,
Florid Pseudonym

Your response:

A) Ignore
B) Respond with an honest, polite denial that the rookie will misquote to their advantage forever
C) Remember every scene from Disclosure and take an Excedrin as you dust off your old CV and wonder if the Pentagon will consider novel-writing a real profession
D) Other: [fill in your answer]

How to win Answer the Anonymous E-mail game: You can't.

On questions this week: I'm going to be out most of the day, so my answers will probably be delayed until this evening, or I may have to carry it over into Saturday. But I will answer what I can, so ask away.

55 comments:

  1. This response will work for various and sundry lunatics:

    I am away from my desk right now but your email is very important to me. Believe you me, I will respond to your message with all the alacrity it deserves.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous6:25 AM

    LOL Doug.

    Okay PBW, what were the semifinalists in the name-the-ship contest? Is there a fleet in the works? ;)

    No questions, just well wishes for a wonderful weekend. (ooo alliteration)
    Jess!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don't worry, no stalking here. No questions either. Just came by to say Hi and hope you have a good weekend and that the weather down south is nice.
    Ann
    P.S. Unless you know a way I can convince psychokitty that I'm not some interactive chew toy?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know what I think about THOSE people.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Moi? In each case, I would answer satirically, drawing attention to existential vanity by ridiculing both the correspondent and myself.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd choose A on all. It's one of those you can't win but any other response makes you go from loser to TARGET.

    Besides, I think ignoring them would tick them off more anyway... see? Bonus!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ya know, I'd probably respond nicely because I'm just nutty like that. Dang me.

    As I try to resist the temptation of asking "Why do you hate me? I know you hate me!" I shall instead ask:

    Let's say you have some friends coming in from out of town, all writers, all women. You're looking forward to the weekend, you never get out of the house, never get away from the kids, never get to be girly and silly and giggly (except with a 4 year old), and it's gonna be like a mini vacation. YAY!

    Then a guy** gets invited. For the weekend.

    And everyone else thinks this is a GREAT idea except you.

    What do you do?

    **I am not using 'guy' in a derogatory manner. I love men, have been married to one for almost 2 decades, and almost all of our friends are men. I just never get to go out with 'the girls'. EVER. As in not once in my adult life.

    Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Send the emails to email pergatory (eg, the spam folder) with all the offers for penis enlargement, generic weight loss pills, and offers from the Nigerian government in exile to share money with you.

    Unless the email has a specific threat, then contact the authorities. Even anonymous email can be traced through headers, etc and the authorities can order an ISP to give them the identity of a cyber stalker.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know I shouldn't be, but I am amazed at the absolute stupidity of some people. The answer to all of the questions should be "Get a Life". In reality though, that answer will just get them into a tizzy and cause more of a headache for you. Ignore them, and maybe they'll go away.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Doug wrote: I am away from my desk right now but your email is very important to me. Believe you me, I will respond to your message with all the alacrity it deserves.

    Ah, the auto-reply. That's pretty good for 24 hours. After one day, though, Anonymous #1 will post it on her blog as evidence of what a snot you are, Anonymous #2 will use it as justification of your hatred, and Anonymous #3 will use it as foundation for a dart board.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think you need to crank up your spam blocker. You don't need to waste any time reading those types of emails!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jess wrote: Okay PBW, what were the semifinalists in the name-the-ship contest? Is there a fleet in the works? ;)

    I wish; you guys came up with some terrific names. I left the contest spreadsheet back in my office, and I don't want to torture everyone by trying to name them off the top of my head. I'll post them when I get back on Sunday.

    No questions, just well wishes for a wonderful weekend.

    Thanks, Jess.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ann wrote: Unless you know a way I can convince psychokitty that I'm not some interactive chew toy?

    Bite back? Lol. Have a good weekend, too, Ann.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Bernita wrote: I know what I think about THOSE people.

    It WAS you! Ha.

    It is hard to know what's happening on the other end of anonymous e-mail. Sometimes I feel like I'm entering a minefield, just by checking new messages.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Simon wrote: Moi? In each case, I would answer satirically, drawing attention to existential vanity by ridiculing both the correspondent and myself.

    That works, until you receive a package filled with pieces of your latest novel after it's been run through a woodchipper. Then you seriously start thinking about building a mountain home somewhere a bit more secluded, say, Tibet.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Shiloh wrote: I'd choose A on all. It's one of those you can't win but any other response makes you go from loser to TARGET.

    True. A is my usual response, btw.

    Besides, I think ignoring them would tick them off more anyway... see? Bonus!

    I do think the instinctive reaction is to strike back, because you didn't deserve the hit and the venom in some of these things riles you. But every time I think about it, I can hear my mom in the my head saying after one of my more memorable fights at school, "Jesus said turn the other cheek, not give them a black eye."

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tam wrote: Ya know, I'd probably respond nicely because I'm just nutty like that. Dang me.

    I totally understand. I was nice to my version of #1 and did a type-C response. And got burned for it.

    Let's say you have some friends coming in from out of town, all writers, all women. You're looking forward to the weekend, you never get out of the house, never get away from the kids, never get to be girly and silly and giggly (except with a 4 year old), and it's gonna be like a mini vacation. YAY!

    Better you than me, lady.

    Then a guy** gets invited. For the weekend. And everyone else thinks this is a GREAT idea except you. What do you do?

    I'm a loner who actively avoids the group-chick thing, so keep that in mind as I dole out advice here.

    If I'm running the weekend, and I issued the invitations, and there's still time, I politely ask whoever invited him to uninvite him, and make it clear that this is a girls' weekend.

    If it's too late to uninvite him, or feelings would be hurt, or something else prevents his arrival, I'd ask my guy to invite him out fishing, boating, golfing or whatever with him and the kids.

    If that's not an option, then I'd just put up with him. One man surrounded by women is generally out of his comfort zone and on his best behavior anyway.

    I love men, have been married to one for almost 2 decades, and almost all of our friends are men. I just never get to go out with 'the girls'. EVER. As in not once in my adult life.

    That's a shame. If it doesn't work out this time, and you get the chance to do it again in the future, call it the "No Men" Weekend so everyone is on the same page.

    ReplyDelete
  18. LJ wrote: Send the emails to email pergatory (eg, the spam folder) with all the offers for penis enlargement, generic weight loss pills, and offers from the Nigerian government in exile to share money with you.

    You mean, I'm not getting sixteen million dollars from my friend the Nigerian Prince? Lol.

    Unless the email has a specific threat, then contact the authorities. Even anonymous email can be traced through headers, etc and the authorities can order an ISP to give them the identity of a cyber stalker.

    Sound advice.

    ReplyDelete
  19. B.E. wrote: I know I shouldn't be, but I am amazed at the absolute stupidity of some people. The answer to all of the questions should be "Get a Life". In reality though, that answer will just get them into a tizzy and cause more of a headache for you. Ignore them, and maybe they'll go away.

    I find myself feeling sorry for them, because they're so desperate for attention, and I can only imagine how dismal their real lives are. And I have to watch that, because my sympathy leads me to reach out to some of really pathetic ones, which always seems to come back and bite me on the butt.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Wow! These were real? Or paraphrased real? Good golly, Miss Molly! People are crazier than a chihuahua with a lap to protect.

    *taps chin thoughtfully* I think I'd go with door number one: ignore. There's no better insult than to be so unimportant that you don't even warrant a response. Then I'd decide if these...these...egotistical buffalo chips are insane enough to report them to somebody. I think I'd start at the top. Maybe Uncle Don't Mess with Me. The one on your mother's side that leaves arrows embedded in doors as a warning. If he's out of town, I'd try the authorities in blue. Nice looking officers, of course. You might as well enjoy the process.

    Seriously? It's unfortunate and scary, but there are a lot of people walking around whose brains are disconnected from the grid. Most are harmless, just annoying. But there are those who are so delusional they believe they're 'special' and everyone else should get out of their way. I think I'd still go with ignore and contact the appropriate authorities if you feel threatened.

    Let us know. The Peanut Butter Wrestlers have your back. We always get our nut.

    Geez. I'm shaking my head.

    Karen, the lurker

    ReplyDelete
  21. Becca wrote: I think you need to crank up your spam blocker. You don't need to waste any time reading those types of emails!

    There's something we need -- a program that sorts the crazies out of your e-mail. SpaceCase Blocker, maybe?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Karen wrote: Wow! These were real? Or paraphrased real?

    Two are real e-mails I've paraphrased and/or reworded to protect the "true" anonymous identity of the senders; #3 is conglomeration of the problems I've had with several writers. I'm not interested in giving these people more ammunition, and I know I tend to be a magnet for pissed-off anonymous entities, probably because I refuse to have dialogues with them, so I take that into consideration. Some of you are familiar with situation #1, which has happened to me twice now, with part of the second situation spilling over here at PBW in comments. Makes me wonder if they have a club or something.

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  23. I'm out of here for a while, folks -- be back tonight to answer any questions that pop up.

    ReplyDelete
  24. In Hsktskt, does the Va suffix represent female and Var male?

    I'm sorry that there are people out there who try to spread negative feelings to good people like you, PBW.

    Though if I had read Beyond Varallan without Endurance on hand, I would seriously doubt your status as good people. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hmmm...I know someone just like #3 -- except that his e-mails are filled with vulgarity and homophobic/racist/misogynistic threats. And he always signs his real name.

    I'm with you, though. Ignoring is usually the best policy.

    ReplyDelete
  26. /ignore is your friend. Response and attention is what those people generally want.

    Might consider adding them to your blocked emails list so you won't have to deal with them again.

    I wouldn't worry about #1. Eventually they'll start getting angry emails and bizarre notes from people trying to find you! *chortle*

    ReplyDelete
  27. 1. D. Here, have a kitten. But be careful, it's sharp!

    2. D. Here, have a kitten. It will take a cursory sniff at the litter tray then go pee under your tv.

    3. D. Here, have a kitten. Every time you use the fridge or microwave, it will expect warm kitten milk.

    Which of your books should I read first, PBW? Be warned, it will become a kitten toy the moment it enters the house.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hmm. My last email to you was so similar to the second one that I must respond. Let me include the entirety of my text to Ms. Viehl:


    So, anyway, I don’t think you like me or my blog much, but I actually read yours everyday and know that you are a big PR fan. As am I. I thought you might be interested in knowing that Project Catwalk, Seasons 1 and 2 are on YouTube in their entirety.

    http://bloggingprojectrunway.blogspot.com/2007/01/project-catwalk-on-youtube.html

    Jane Litte


    I included the bit about what I perceived (perhaps incorrectly but I think not) to be your opinion of my blog, given your occasional sly digs, as explanation for why I was sending you the link. I do not think we have any personal relationship and I am not trying to start one, either, by sending you an email. I am sorry that you would think so.

    I am particularly sorry that you would believe that a statement such as "I read your blog everyday" would be akin to stalking. I apologize for placing you in tenuous and fearful position if my email to you made you concerned for your safety.

    It may be best in the future to remove your contact information to prevent future "stalking" by us crazed blog readers. It might save you some peace of mind. It's like a preemptive ignore.

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  29. All you can do is ignore "The Crazies." No polite or rational discussion will work with "The Crazies" at all.
    fs

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  30. Robin B1:30 PM

    Answer to all is D)Other: Laugh until you cry and you can't possibly laugh anymore then, Ignore. What else can you do?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Answer to 1:

    I received you email. I think you should go on thinking about
    using that name for two/four/.../twenty more years, and in the meanwhile I'll think
    about changing mine. Since we
    both have a Constitutional right to think, I believe we have a deal.

    ***

    Answer to 2:

    Dear Anonymous,

    You are right.

    ***

    Answer to 3:

    Hi Florid,

    Thanks for reading my blog with so much passion. Don't forget to check out my latest novel...

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Hi PBW,

    I am a Lurker with a questions. If I am not mistaken (please correct me if I am) a while back you investigated novel writing software for some of your teen students. Do you recall the name of the software you found least objectionable for their use.

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm still laughing - oh you just gotta laugh. I have to go along with the ignore only because I think it would bother them the most. To answer would just validate them as having any kind of real issues. Love and hate are very close but to ignore just sucks lol.

    ReplyDelete
  34. *shakes head* Wowzers. I would ignore in reality, but I'm spinning my wheels here and figured I'd have fun with this.

    1. Paperback Writer is the name of a Beatles song? *blinks* Really? Wow, my parents used to listen to them.

    2. I don't hate you. I read the ISP #'s every day because that's how I stroke my ego and I saw your # there. I sent you a fruitcake last year because you are such a loyal reader and I never got a thank you note, so I thought you hated me.

    3. I know you're a better writer. I've been buying your books so that I could learn the techniques you use and ...well...you caught me. I've been telling my editor that she's stupid to not pick you up, but she says that you would put me out of business if she signed you.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Anonymous6:02 PM

    There's only one other response besides "ignore" that has worked for me in the past. Compose a reply that is completely positive and doesn't refer to their email at all in any way, even though it's a reply. For example, a response to any of the above could be:

    Hey, thanks for your interest in my [blog, work, etc.]! You seem like a really cool guy [gal, dude, person, etc.] I always like to hear from new people so it was great for you to drop me a line. Good luck in all you do!

    Best,
    [name]

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wow.... No question here. I hope you have a good weekend.

    Maripat

    ReplyDelete
  37. May wrote: In Hsktskt, does the Va suffix represent female and Var male?

    Yes. sort of an alien variation of Ms. and Mr.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Julie Doe wrote: Ignoring is usually the best policy.

    Well, looking at the comments left while I was gone, I'm inclined to agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Pat wrote: I wouldn't worry about #1. Eventually they'll start getting angry emails and bizarre notes from people trying to find you! *chortle*

    Hey, now there's a potentially wonderful solution -- send the link for #1 to #2 and #3. :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Buffysquirrel wrote: Which of your books should I read first, PBW? Be warned, it will become a kitten toy the moment it enters the house.

    As do my author copies if I'm not careful. I usually recommend Blade Dancer as a good test novel. It's SF, but it's a standalone, and it's still in print in the paperback edition. Btw, did you get my e-mail from a couple of weeks ago? (not that I'm stalking you, I just sent a note about another, similar question you asked.)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Jane wrote: My last email to you was so similar to the second one that I must respond.

    I usually ignore comments like this one you left, but I will respond, this once. I don't know you, and I did not model any of my examples on your e-mail. I very rarely respond to e-mails from reviewers unless they write to request ARCs of my books. To my knowledge, I have never mentioned you or linked to you on this weblog.

    The e-mail contact information that I occasionally post here is provided for winners of my contests and giveaways to send me their ship-to(which I specify each time I post it.)

    I don't know how else to respond to your comment, so I'll leave it at that and hope that satisfies you.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Frederick wrote: No polite or rational discussion will work with "The Crazies" at all.

    Well, I've just tried to be polite and rational. Let's see what happens.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Robin B wrote: Laugh until you cry and you can't possibly laugh anymore then, Ignore. What else can you do?

    True. I can't recommend slamming the forehead against the monitor a few times. Hurts you and annoys the monitor. :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. Mariana wrote: Dear Anonymous,
    You are right.


    Brilliant. Would you consider answering my e-mail for a couple of years?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Anonymous wrote: I am a Lurker with a questions. If I am not mistaken (please correct me if I am) a while back you investigated novel writing software for some of your teen students. Do you recall the name of the software you found least objectionable for their use.

    The only software that isn't freeware that I've ever endorsed to my students is WriteWay. I gave it my unsolicited endorsement because I bought it and used it myself, and liked it very much.

    If you can't afford to purchase WriteWay, then I recommend Richard Salsbury's excellent freeware, Rough Draft.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Catslady wrote: To answer would just validate them as having any kind of real issues.

    I think they do have real issues, just not any I'm qualified to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Eva wrote: Paperback Writer is the name of a Beatles song? *blinks* Really? Wow, my parents used to listen to them.

    Oooooh, good one. Mariana, you've got competition for the e-mail job.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Anonymous wrote: Hey, thanks for your interest in my [blog, work, etc.]! You seem like a really cool guy [gal, dude, person, etc.] I always like to hear from new people so it was great for you to drop me a line. Good luck in all you do!

    I wish I could be that heartless.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Maripat wrote: Wow.... No question here.

    Scary stuff, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  50. So, an actual question; do you ever get good and stuck on a project, and if so, how do you break loose?

    ReplyDelete
  51. Charlene wrote: So, an actual question; do you ever get good and stuck on a project, and if so, how do you break loose?

    If I get stuck during the planning stages, I take a hard look at the sticking point, because it usually indicates that I've got a logic problem with a character or plot point. I usually dump whatever is not working -- fixing it with a lot of explanation or cute mechanics doesn't work for me -- and write new.

    If it's a minor blockage that pops up while I'm writing the story, I write around it. I'll tag whatever I can't get down on the page like this: [describe blizzard in Central Park] and keep writing past it. I will go back once the manuscript is finished and write-in the tagged spots, and I'm usually in a much better place to wrestle with the block because the book is otherwise complete.

    Blockages that come from tone, pacing, the feel of the story -- what I think of as the abstract stuff -- are probably the hardest to overcome. Fixing these can often result in a manuscript that reads like a patchwork quilt looks. I have tossed whole sections of books that didn't feel right, for want of a better description. Last year I went so far as to destroy an entire manuscript because overall I just didn't like how the book came out on the page. It killed me to do it -- all that work for nothing -- but starting over from scratch while knowing what I didn't want gave me the chance to build it properly from the first page on.

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  52. They're all about me. I know they are. Why are you picking on me?

    (smirk) (As co-workers joked with me this week, "It's not all about you, Jean.") I suspect the proper answer is "A", but I'd be lying if I said I'd always take that approach.

    I'm sorry about the loss of your friend. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Btw, did you get my e-mail from a couple of weeks ago? (not that I'm stalking you, I just sent a note about another, similar question you asked.)

    Ooops. My laptop decided it was quitting time around then, and since it went into cyber-retirement I've been sharing my husband's desktop and it didn't have any of my bookmarks and I haven't checked that email account since and....

    *runs out of excuses*

    But I have now :D.

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  54. #1 - Thank you so much for letting me know that people searching for me might mistakenly find you... I'm sure you'll enjoy the extra traffic from our similar names.

    #2 - Thanks for the Christmas card, and just how many blueberry pancakes does it take to shingle a three bedroom house?

    #3 - Oh, no, I wouldn't dream of quitting! That would deprive you of all the enjoyment you'll have when your sales exceed mine and you can stomp me into the ground... in fact, remind me when it happens and I'll send you a cookie.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Anonymous8:17 PM

    Number 3 is hilarious, but man, I hope you're not really getting these psycho letters.

    Anna

    ReplyDelete