Monday, October 27, 2014

Benjamin Franklin fishes for cats ... and Jennifer McQuiston combats Ebola

Ten days ago, Romanceland exploded in anger over The Guardian's publication of YA author Kathleen Hale's essay of how she stalked a reviewer.   Hale attempted to justify her actions and remains unapologetic. Author Alex Hurst offers the most comprehensive review of the situation, Hale vs. Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics, at this link.

Hale accuses Harris of "catfishing" ... I had to look up this term.  From the Urban Dictionary (link),

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

Hale (the author) accuses Harris (the reviewer) of "catfishing" for using a pseudo name to post reviews.  However, it is Hale, in her own words, who engaged in false pretenses to visit Harris at home and contact her at work.   This is a sad day in democracy.

My cat fishes for books.

This past weekend, I came across National Treasure on cable TV.  Nicolas Cage stars as a historian who pieces together the clues to the Templar treasure from Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood letter.   From (link)

During the eighteenth century, it was common for writers and journalists to use pseudonyms, or false names, when they created newspaper articles and letters to the editor.

Silence Dogood was Franklin's first pseudonym, created when he was sixteen years old and serving as a printer's apprentice to his brother James. Silence Dogood was a middle-aged widow who looked at the world with a humorous and satiric eye. Her letters dealt with a range of topics from love and courtship to the state of education in Massachusetts. In all, fifteen Silence Dogood letters were published in James Franklin's New England Courant.

Benjamin Franklin
Public Domain (link)

Following Hale's reasoning, Franklin must be a colonial catfisher using the social media of his time - newspapers.   I found the Dogood letters at this link.  

April 2, 1722 • Silence Dogood #1

I am not insensible of the Impossibility of pleasing all, but I would not willingly displease any; and for those who will take Offence were none is intended, they are beneath the Notice of Your Humble Servant

April 16, 1722 • Silence Dogood #2

I am naturally very jealous for the Rights and Liberties of my Country; and the least appearance of an Incroachment on those invaluable Priviledges, is apt to make my Blood boil exceedingly. 

These letters are clever insights into an emerging democracy from a 16 year old boy disguised as a middle aged widow.   We could learn much from Franklin's wisdom.   I will share more from Silence Dogood throughout the week.

I submitted a Letter to the Editor of The Guardian.  I hesitated as I was required to submit my name, address, and phone number.  I don't think The Guardian will publish my letter, so I share a portion of it with you, focusing on the single issue that prompted this kerfuffle - a bad review:

I offer an example of how a “bad” review can yield “good” publicity. Elyse at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books posted a D review for Avon author Jennifer McQuiston’s debut historical, What Happens in Scotland. Yet Elyse’s review was thoughtfully written, with a hint of humor.  Elyse's review caught the attention of many readers, including some who thought they might like the book.  I gave 5 stars to What Happens in Scotland.

Quoting Silence Dogood, "I am very sensible that it is impossible for me, or indeed any one Writer to please all Readers at once. Various Persons have different Sentiments; and that which is pleasant and delightful to one, gives another a Disgust."

Six months later, Elyse reviewed the next book in the series, Summer Is For Lovers, giving it an A review. Elyse might not have reviewed the second book had Ms. McQuiston acted like a diva. But that’s not the end of the story. The romance community has rallied around Ms. McQuiston in her day job with the CDC – she is now in Sierra Leone to combat Ebola at its source. You can bet that romance readers are following Ms. McQuiston on Facebook in this global crisis. And they will follow her into her next series. You can’t buy goodwill like this.

In the end, it is free speech that is our National Treasure.

I am giving away a book choice from my convention to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Share a wise old saying such as a penny saved is a penny earned.  Feel free to check out

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 1, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 2.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Follow Jennifer McQuiston in Sierra Leone at this link.



  1. A good one I found kinda funny is... Even monkeys fall out of trees.

    Well of course they do, probably when they fall asleep. lol

  2. Pennywise and pound foolish.

  3. Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing (Dr. Phil lol).

  4. Treat others like u wants to be treated

  5. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


  6. This is a favorite of my mother: Everything in moderation. -- unknown

  7. My father's favorite saying was "What Goes Around Comes Around." Also "Be careful what you wish for."

  8. Every tear has a smile behind it. :)

  9. "You made your bed, now you have to lie in it". "Lie back, and think of England".

  10. A family favorite..... "The early bird catches the worm."

  11. The whole situation is sad. I hope they do publish your letter, it was eloquent and provided a lot of good examples on the positives of a negative review. My favorite wise old saying is, "You can catch more flies with honey than you can manure." I know the original saying is with "vinegar," but I'm from the country so we say the latter :) Thanks for sharing and for the awesome history lesson!

  12. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. -- Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

  13. Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

  14. He who laughs last, laughs best.

  15. "A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth." - local saying (Tagalog translated to English)

    Thank you for this post. I have been following the story since it dropped last week and I must say I am appalled at the lengths people go to.

    I honestly, read negative (1-2 star reviews) before trying out a new-to-me author, a new series, a new genre. This helps me decide if said book would be worthwhile. I look at books with a LOT of positive reviews suspiciously and more often than not, tend to avoid reading that book.

    I do draw the line between reviews that are inappropriate. In that, they do not actually review the book at all.

  16. Great post! I like the saying "A loving heart is the truest wisdom." -- Charles Dickens

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

  17. I have always liked the saying Patience is a virtue - now I just need to practice it more.

  18. One step at a time - like this quote :)

  19. What a crazy situation. Makes me terrified to ever leave a bad review. I do read the low star reviews and most of the time it's not even about the book, or it's some dumb reason (they didn't know it was a Christian book, etc.). I don't judge a book by stars alone.
    As for a saying, this one is HUGE in my house: "Life isn't fair, get used to it" LOL

  20. I don't know how old it is or who said it, but it is a favorite of mine - The only constant is change.

  21. If money can fix it, it's not a problem. For many people these days that is probably hard to accept, but there are some problems (mostly health related) that all the money in the world cannot solve. Just look at the wealthy people who have died - like Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon.

  22. Be careful what you wish for is a very wise saying I think.

  23. A man who asks is a fool for five minutes. A man who never asks is a fool for life.
    Karen T.