In Defense of Authors Perceived as Behaving Badly – Part 2/3

The Guardian published a piece on How not to handle bad reviews, and quoted science fiction author Isaac Asimov who said authors fall into two groups: “Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.”

Then Dog Star Media says, of fighting negative reviews online, that, “There are harsh rules in opinion-making. One bad review can really hurt you. There is no way to fight opinion with opinion.  The only safe answer for control is to be positive all the time, frequently and in great volume. … If the conversation is going on and you are not part of it, it is more than likely that you will be painted inaccurately.  By being part of the conversation, you can keep it accurate and begin to control the conversation by putting a greater emphasis on your opinion. … There is a saying about the basics of Public Relations. It goes like this: You can fight fact with fact but you cannot fight opinion with opinion.”

But before an author can fight opinions with facts that support the quality of his or her work, he or she must go out and find facts from reputable sources—not from anonymous reviewers, friends or family.

With review space in the traditional media shrinking, where does an author find reputable sources that do not charge to review?

The Midwest Book Review is one but Midwest reviews less than a third of the books submitted to them.  The other option is to find Blogs that review books and do not charge a dollar price to do it. I suggest finding Blogs with an Alexa ranking in the top 1%—or near it, but Blogs that review books must also earn a credible reputation, which is why I suggest only submitting to Blogs that are ranked in the top 1% by Alexa.

But how do you come up with that one percent?

Royal Pingdom.com reported December 2011 that there were 555 million Websites; 800+ million users on Facebook; 39 million Tumbler Blogs; 70 million WordPress Blogs and that there were 2.4 billion social networking accounts worldwide.

To come up with a 1% number, I use the total number of Websites, which means a Book Review Blog should have an Alexa ranking of at least 5.5 million or lower. I also look for the number of people that subscribe to that Blog as members and/or followers.

For two examples:

Peeking Between the Pages had a 1.7 million Alexa traffic rank when I checked with 384 sites linked in and 1,363 members in addition to 253 followers. The Review Policy says, “Due to the overwhelming number of requests I do get I am selective about what I pick to read and review. I will only choose to review those books which I feel I will have an interest in.”

Another Blog that reviews books is So Many Precious Books, So Little Time and it had a 4.9 million Alexa ranking with 305 sites linked in. This Book Blog has 708 members and 127 followers. The review policy says, “… I am not able to accept all review requests as I get so many. I am not able to reply to all requests …”

In addition, I also submit my work to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Yes, it costs money to enter this contest but all entrants will receive a brief commentary from the judges that is similar to a review—that is as long as Writer’s Digest keeps this policy.

I have posted two judges’ commentaries on my Websites and you may see them by clicking on the following links.

My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart

Everyone has an opinion and that opinion should be treated with respect, but that does not mean an author has to lie down and take a beating when there is evidence from reputable sources such as The Midwest Book Review, a Writer’s Digest Judge, or Book Blogs like Peeking Between the Pages and So Many Precious Books, So Little Time that may offer a positive review building an author’s credibility to counter negative reviews.

Continued on January 22, 2013 in Part 3 of In Defense of Authors Perceived as Behaving Badly or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 5/6

Tilly, in claim six, ever the historian as she says in her Readers Cafe review of The Concubine Saga, points out that the Santai Dynasty mentioned in chapter four was not the oldest known dynasty when in fact the oldest was the Xia.

She is correct but wrong at the same time.  The Xia (or “Hsia” as Lin Yutang (1895 – 1976) spells it in his book, My Country and My People) is the oldest known dynasty but was considered along with the Shang and Chou Dynasties as the “Santai” or “Three Dynasties” (2205 B.C. to 222 B.C.).  Lin Yutang mentions this on page 365 of the 1938 hardcover edition, and I have a copy of Lin Yutang’s book in front of me as I’m writing this post.

I suspect Lin Yutang knew more about Chinese history than Tilly or me.

You see, I did a lot of research between 1999 and 2008 using real books and magazines printed on paper in addition to Google searches.  If I mention a historical fact such as the Santai, you can bet that I was referring to one of my research sources—either a tree book or from the Internet.

However, since Tilly couldn’t find any mention of the Santai Dynasty with a quick Google search, I had to be wrong and the Santai Dynasty never existed.

At the time I was starting My Splendid Concubine, the first novel in The Concubine Saga, my wife was finishing the Empress Orchid that would go on to become a finalist for the British Book Awards, a national best seller in the US and the UK and end up translated into twenty-six languages.  The hardcover of Empress Orchid was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2004 and editors fact checked the novel.  The same sources my wife used regarding the average number of young boys that were castrated and became eunuchs and the methods of castration came from the same tree printed sources I used.

It has been eight years since the release of Empress Orchid and not one historian (Chinese or Western) has accused her of historical innacurracy as Tilly did in her review of my novel posted by the Readers Cafe.

This leads me to Tilly’s last claim of historical inaccuracy, number seven, that there was no way that Robert Hart did not know about the Taping Rebellion before the summer of 1855.

Continued on July 13, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 6 or return to Part 4

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 2/6

The second challenge (another example of defamation) to the history that flows through The Concubine Saga came from the Reader’s Cafe in a June 2012 review written by Tilly. This book review site has no search-engine traffic rank according to Alexa.com (at the time I checked) and has only 10 members but according to its Blog Archive it was launched in 2006.

Is this an indication of the popularity of reviews written on this site?

Anyway, Tilly proclaimed for all the world to read as long as the Reader’s Cafe remains an active domain that:

1. The time it took for Robert Hart to sail from  England to China was unrealistic.

2. Tilly claimed that Robert Hart could not have been raised to respect women as equals in Victorian England.

3. Robert Hart could not have believed that paying 33 pounds for a concubine was cheap.

4. Tilly called Ayaou, Hart’s concubine, a harlot.

5. Eunuchs were not castrated before they were hired to work in the Forbidden City.

6. Tilly claims there was no such thing as the Santai Dynasty

7. According to Tilly, there was no way that Robert Hart could not have known about the Taiping Rebellion in detail before he learns about it in the novel.

In reply to number one, I never mentioned how long it took Robert Hart to sail from England to China. The original first edition of The Concubine Saga opens as Hart arrived in Hong Kong after a long voyage from England.  Hart’s next voyage takes place a few days later from Hong Kong to Shanghai and I assure you that I followed the time span it took to make that voyage from Robert Hart’s own journal that covers his first year in China. He goes into detail about that trip even mentioning the pirates that chased the ship he was on.

The Concubine Saga (a revised and edited version of My Splendid Concubine combined with the sequel Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine) says in the third paragraph on page 3, “A month earlier, his ship had reached Hong Kong on July 25…”

Maybe I should have said, “his ship from England”.  You see, Robert Hart first arrived in Hong, where he stayed for a few days before sailing to Shanghai where he stayed with the Lay brothers before sailing to Ningpo about 100 miles south of Shanghai.

It’s all in Hart’s journals—every step of his journey after he arrived in China. In fact, Hart’s journal does not mention how long it took him to sail from England to Hong Kong other then he was seasick most of the voyage. However, he goes into detail about the voyage from Hong Kong to Shanghai.

Tilly’s next example of defamation was to claim that Robert Hart was not raised to respect women as equals. To make this error meant she probably didn’t read the novel carefully or has attention deficit disorder or short term memory issues.

Continued July 10, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Twisting History for Fun and Profit — maybe?

Yahoo Movieland! ran an interesting piece about Historically Inaccurate Movies (historical fiction), and the liberties Hollywood takes with historical fiction movies is amazing.  To learn what that deliberate revision of history was, I recommend you click over to Yahoo’s Movieland! and see for yourself (use link above).

However, the impact of Hollywood rewriting history may be devastating in the long term.

When it comes to historical accuracy, it seems there is a HUGE difference between historical fiction novels and historical fiction films. If an author of historical fiction novels did the same thing, he or she would be roasted by critics.

In fact, I’m sure many people that go to movies worldwide read nothing about history let alone read books, and they walk away after seeing these movies believing this is how it really was—the beliefs of millions influenced for a lifetime.

After the first video, there is a list of thirteen of the fourteen historical fiction movies that were featured in the Yahoo Movieland! post and the money these movies raked in.

“Season of the Witch” earned more than $90 million worldwide

“The Young Victoria” earned more than $27 million

“Inglorious Basterds” earned more than $120.5 million

“10,000 B.C.” earned about $95 million

“300” earned more than $456 million

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” earned more than $74 million

“Apocalypto” earned more than $120.6 million

“Memoires of a Geisha” earned more than $162.2 million

“The Last Samurai” earned more than $456.7 million.

“A Beautiful Mind” earned more than $313.5 million

“The Patriot” earned more than $215.2 million

“Gladiator” earned more than $457.6 million

“Braveheart” earned more than $210.4 million

If Hollywood does this for fun and profit, what do they do out of patriotism to make America’s so-called enemies look worse than they really are while inflating a false image of America?

What we learn from this is that the world we live in is made up of smoke and mirrors and reality/facts do not seem important to many people.

There are other posts on other Blogs that explore this topic. For example, here are two:

Hollywood Is Becoming the Pentagon’s Mouthpiece for Propaganda at AlterNet

World War II Movies — Propaganda and Patriotism at Hollywood Movie Memories.com

There is an old saying that says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890)

Discover The going, going, gone American Dream

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

When a Girl becomes a Woman depends on the Law at the Time

An honest 21st century review of The Concubine Saga at ColReads.com brought up a good subject for a post—the history of the changing attitudes of when a girl becomes a woman (You may want to click on the link to ColReads and read the entire review).

ColReads said, “The girls were younger than 15, for goodness sake. I had a hard time getting past that,” which is understandable when we take into account that in 21st century America the law makes a girl/woman a child until age 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which U.S. state you live in (watch the video to find out the age of consent in each state).

However, the age of consent laws in the middle of the 19th century (the time period of The Concubine Saga, which is based on a real story) were not the same as they are today.

To understand the difference between now and then, today in the People’s Republic of China the age of consent for sexual activity is 14, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In Hong Kong, it is 16 and in Macau 18.

However, “Depictions of ‘child-romance’ in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000).” In fact, “For most of Chinese history, the minimum marriage age suggested by the government had ranged between 12 and 16.” Source: Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong

For a comparison, in 1875 in the UK, a concern that young girls were being sold into brothels let Parliament change the age of consent to 13. Prior to that, the age of consent was 12.

However, in the United States in 1875, each state determined its own criminal law and the age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. It would not be until after the 1930s that the term “jail bait” came into use in America as the age of consent laws changed. (I wonder if the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving the right to vote to women had anything to do with these changes.)

I could have sanitized The Concubine Saga and made both Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei much older to fit the attitudes of today’s readers but then that would have been historically incorrect. Sterling Seagrave in his book Dragon Lady, the Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, wrote, “He (Robert Hart) had just turned twenty. Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

If Ayaou was barely 14, then there was only a six-year age gap between the two, while Hart’s arranged marriage to a young Irish woman named Hester Jane Bredon a decade later sees the gap double to twelve years when he was thirty and she was eighteen. In fact, Seagrave says, “He (Hart) sought a wife as straightforwardly as he had bought a concubine.” After returning to Ireland for a brief stay in 1866, Robert proposed marriage to Hester five days after he met her. The courtship lasted three months before they were married.

Should authors ignore historical fact and rewrite history to reflect the moral sensitivities of today’s readers?

For more on this topic, discover Modern-Day Witch Hunts and Vigilantes – the politically-correct mob’s (sex) war against teachers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Value of Subjective Opinions

All art is subjective, and all opinions are valid, but subjective is an interesting concept. For example: what one person enjoys reading, another person cannot stand. A subjective opinion is a statement that has been colored by the character of the speaker or writer. It often has a basis in reality, but reflects the perspective through which the speaker views reality.

In addition, a subjective opinion cannot be verified using concrete facts and figures.

Regarding The Concubine Saga, the first two reader reviews on Amazon.com of the Kindle version of this novel earned five stars. Then the third reader review on Amazon.com arrived from “carol al-awadi” who seems to live and work in Kuwait in the Middle East.

Al-Awadi gave the novel a one-star review and wrote, “This ‘historical fiction’ was the most inane piece of writing that I’ve ever read! There was no depth to any of the characters, I culled very little about Chinese history or Chinese life at the time of this saga, and the maudlin “love story” of Robert and Ayaou could have been something taken out of a discount store paperback romance. The story of this supposedly influential and intuitive Robert Hart is related in a very superficial and lame manner…and that’s a pity because if this man was really the person we are told he is, then his legacy has been cheated. And one last thing….I can’t believe how many time Hart had “tears in his eyes” over anything from a compliment to listening to his 5 year old bang out a piece on the piano. Sorry, folks. I’ve read many historical fiction books, and I have to say, this is definitely the worst!

 

Curious, I did some research and discovered that there is a Carol Al-Awadi living in Kuwait—possibly an American married to a Kuwaiti citizen, and the individual with that name is listed as the Curriculum Coordinator at the Fawzia Sultan International School.

Then, this morning (May 9, 2012), another subjective opinion arrived awarding “The Concubine Saga” an Honorable Mention in General Fiction for the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival. This time I have no idea who the judge or judges were that made this subjective decision.

Carol Al-Awadi is not alone in her subjective opinion of my novel and her view is valid as all opinions are.  In fact, since “The Concubine Saga” first appeared as “My Splendid Concubine” and then later in the sequel, “Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine“, there have been many opinions of this work.  I keep track of the reviews and awards for these novels and the tally, so far, runs 64 positive to 12 negative, so Al-Awadi’s opinion joins the 15% that did not enjoy the novel.

Numbers such as 85% and 15% are concrete facts represented by figures. For example, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee has sold over 30 million copies so far. In fact, on Amazon.com, Mockingbird has 2,250 customer reviews (at the time I checked) — but 85 had earned one-star reviews, 50 earned two stars, and 1,663 earned five stars.

Those numbers are facts that Harper Lee has been taking to the bank each time a royalty check arrives.

One of the one-star subjective opinions on Amazon.com of Lee’s book said, “I waited 52 years to read this book. I should have waited 52 more. A real snoozefest. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

However, the most popular five-star review started with, “It hardly seems like 50 years since I picked up this book late one rainy night when it was first published, after my mom had been raving about the book for weeks, trying to get me to read it. Well, what the heck, the late movie was boring that evening and there was nothing else on the TV… next thing I knew, it was two o’clock in the morning and I had just turned the final page on what was the most magical reading experience of my entire life…”

In conclusion, it is obvious that individual subjective opinions do not hold much value by themselves, but when there are many subjective opinions that can be converted into concrete numbers, which are facts, value is added to the equation.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”