One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was back when Myspace was one of the biggest social media sites. This was in 2006 before Facebook and Twitter became big. Prior to Myspace, I used to lurk on the web, only posting on one message board- All About Romance since 2000. That was the only place you could find my signature name Katiebabs. I’ve been Katiebabs since 1998, the year I graduated college and created my own email. I started writing blog posts on Myspace as an on-line diary of sorts. I would talk about a range of topics that interested me, from movies, to TV shows, music, and most importantly books. I wrote for myself and no one else, thinking no one would want to read my silly little musings or opinions on what I had watched on television that week or a song I loved hearing on the radio. Then as I accepted friend requests on Myspace, these on-line “friends” started reading what I wrote. A few suggested I start my own blog outside of Myspace. Toward the beginning of 2007 I started commenting more on blogs and was even invited to post on another person’s personal blog, which then made me decide to open my own blog, known as Babbling About Books, and More. My first post at Babblings was on September 14, 2008, welcoming people to my little place on the web, to take off their shoes, pull on some slippers and join me in some friendly discussion on whatever crossed my mind.
I then found Goodreads and Twitter. Joining these social media sites and commenting on blogs, and even blogging myself saved me because at that time I was in a dark place. The last time I had been in such a dark place was when I was in grammar school, and bullied so much to the point I was contemplating suicide and almost went through with it twice. I had just left a job I was at for four years. When I gave my notice, my employer threatened to ruin me, promising I would never work in my industry ever again because I had the audacity to find a new job. Also at that time I was obsessed with losing weight. I had been overweight for most of my life, starting in my teens until I was in my early twenties. I ended up losing close to 100 pounds, and soon my goal was to get as close as I could to under 120 pounds. by any means necessary, regardless of how unhealthy it was. I was exercising three hours a day every day. I would get up before work and exercise for 90 minutes, go to work and then after work, exercise for another 90 minutes. My life was exercise, work, exercise, sleep. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. During that time I lost my love of reading published books, and became addicted to reading fan fiction on Fanfiction.net and naughty erotica on Literotica.com. I was barely living and just going through the motions.
And then I found the blogging community. As silly as it may sound, blogging and interacting on sites like Goodreads and Twitter saved me in a way. Because of operating my own blog and finding other blogs who welcomed my opinion and discussion, I got out of the funk I was in. The last time I felt this energized, and wanted to embrace life again, was back when I was thirteen and my mother gave me Gone with the Wind to read. That was also a very dark time for me because after years of bullying and being told I was worthless and better off dead, I was so scared because I was going into high school and expected pretty much the same. Something simple as a book helped me overcome my fear and gave me the confidence to stand up for myself and see that life has so many great things to offer.
Here I am 25 years after I read Gone with the Wind, and eight years after I found out how the world of blogging, specifically book blogging is a place where I can belong and not be judged. Book blogging is a special community, a type of tribe where anyone is welcome, even authors, because we share the love of one thing- the love of the written word.
Book blogging has gone through many changes in the past eight years or so. Reviewing has done the same. I started reviewing in 2002, specifically on Amazon for books that didn’t have any reviews posted. In the past twelve years, I’ve read and reviewed over 3,000 books, ranging from all different opinions from likes and dislikes, squeezing, snarky, mean, I want to have babies with these books because they are so good, to WTF did I just read? Not once did I think my reviews, good or bad would endanger my life because a book is a product just like a movie, TV show, music album, restaurant, or even a piece of clothing. In the past few years, this has changed. Reviewing can endanger your life.
Last week things came to a head because of Kathleen Hale’s article in the The Guardian about her tracking down a reviewer and book blogger. The blogging community is still in an uproar over the article for so many reasons, giving way to the creation of a hashtag on twitter #haleno. In light of Kathleen Hale’s article, there has been a lot of research done to discredit Hale because more than a few are taking what she said at face value and there has been a major lack of journalist integrity on the part of Hale and The Guardian itself (Alex Hurst, has a play by play blog post titled: Hale Vs. Harris, and the Breach of Online Ethics that will give you all the proof you need that Kathleen Hale is far from what a journalist should be, and should be investigated by The Guardian and her current publisher, HarperCollins)
FYI: 8 days later, and there is still no statement from HarperCollins or The Guardian about Kathleen Hale.
It’s a chilling coincidence, but days after Hale’s article, another reviewer came forward about a scary and horrific experience, how she was targeted by writer, Richard Brittain, who tracked her down and bashed her head in with a bottle all because she posted a reviewer about his writing.
“In an update to the fabulously written Goodreads review of Brittain’s awful self-published opus, a reviewer going by the pen name of Paige Rolland describes how Brittain stalked her Facebook page, discovered where she worked and traveled all the way to Scotland where he violently hit her over the head with a full bottle of wine, causing her to be hospitalized.”
In light of the events surrounding Kathleen Hale and Richard Brittain there has been a call for a review book blogger blackout, meaning for a specific time, based on the blogger’s preference, a blogger won’t review or promote any new releases. I’ve decided to join the blogger blackout. Started today until Saturday 11/1, Babbling about Books and More will go on a hiatus of sorts. In the 6 years of Babblings, I’ve never had a hiatus. I always posted, even on vacations, during holidays and even through sickness. Babblings’ hiatus isn’t a total blackout. I’m planning on posting what I call retro reviews. I’m going back in time, over the twelve years and 3,000 reviews I’ve written and posting reviews for some of my favorite books. Why, you may ask? Because that’s what book blogging is all about- Sharing the love of books and the written word.
Some authors are upset about the blogger blackout, going as far to call it by one author and owner of a publisher- “a coordinated cyberbully campaign.” The same author, also has contradicted herself and says that book bloggers are like the Taliban and are terrorists. Another author says there is a #authorgate movement going on, comparing it to #gamergate.
I find these comments shameful and sad because that is not what the blogging community stands for. Authors are right there to use book bloggers for promotion, reviews and word or mouth, but when a book blogger reviews a book negatively, some authors are right there to degraded book bloggers and call them bullies, meanies and they’re just jealous because they want to get published but can’t.
Imagine if all book blogs disappeared or any website, including Goodreads about books and authors just vanished. Where would some of these authors be? Keep in mind in recent years, some authors wouldn’t be successful if not for book blogs because promotion and getting the word out about a book is getting much harder to do.
When I think of book blogger, the quote by author, William W.Purkey comes to mind:
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
Book bloggers blog for themselves and no one else. They don’t own anyone anything, and that means authors or publishers or the industry elite. Book bloggers aren’t here to impress anyone but themselves.
Blogging has gotten me through many tough times- through long periods of unemployment, family deaths, emotional hardships, and just life in general and how it can be unfair sometimes. Blogging and reviewing helped me gain the confidence to do more than a few things I never thought I would accomplish. It helped me become KT Grant the author, and attending a slew of book and author conferences lover the years. I’ve been on panels, read from my books to an audience during author events, talked to people without the fear of being ostracized. I can speak up and defend my opinions to others, as well as welcome the difference of onions in a respectful manner.
I’m dancing like nobody’s watching and loving without the fear of being hurt. You better believe I’m singing like no one is listening, and living my life on my own terms, blogging the way I want to without answering to anyone. That is what my blogger blackout is. I’m sharing the love of books and the written word as I said on September 14, 2008 when I welcomed anyone to come into my online home and join me, where anyone is welcome, and still is.
Click here for the list of participating blogs (thanks to Book Thingo)