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Breaking My Silence

Posted by Melissa on January 16, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

I’m writing this post today because I feel like there is something that really needs to be said.  Ever since October of 2011, I have been libeled relentlessly by several people, mostly book bloggers from Goodreads.com, because I spoke out against the author abuse I found running rampant on the site.  For almost two years now, these people have been claiming I did and said things I have never done.  I’m writing this post today to set the record straight.  Below are two lists describing exactly what I have done and what I have not done.  This is the truth about me.

These are the things I HAVE NEVER done:

  1. I have never attacked or harassed reviewers of my books.
  2. I have never published private information about another person, or “doxxed” them through unethical means.
  3. I have never attacked or harassed other authors, nor have I ever placed revenge one-star reviews on another author’s book or created fake accounts to do it.
  4. I have never created fake accounts on Goodreads or Amazon just to place five-star reviews on my own books and inflate their ratings.
  5. I have never bought reviews for my books.
  6. I have never review-swapped with another author.
  7. I do not run STGRB.  I am not Athena Parker, or anyone else who is behind that blog.

These are the things I HAVE done:

  1. In October of 2011, I was perusing Goodreads reviews of a book I wanted to read by another author and found an extremely offensive, author-bashing review.  I made a comment on the review that I thought it was inappropriate.  I was attacked by a gang of Goodreads bullies.  I stood my ground and defended my position.  Afterwards, I wrote a blog post about my experience called Unacceptable Behavior.
  2. In February of 2012, I joined K.C. Neal’s Spread Love Not Hate anti-bullying campaign and wrote a post about the Goodreads bullies whom I had observed launch organized attacks on authors they didn’t like.  I was again attacked and so were my books.  They were showered with one-star reviews that were mostly about me and not my books.  I left Goodreads shortly afterwards.
  3. I have paid for reviews in the form of Bookrooster.com and blog tours with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours.  In other words, I paid a third party a fee and they distributed my books to readers/reviewers/blog tour hosts who read them and wrote reviews for their blogs, for Amazon, and for Goodreads.  Therefore, if there are several Amazon reviews on my books that are not verified purchases, that is why.  In addition, my first book, The Raie’Chaelia, is also free on Kobo, on Amazon, and in my online bookstore.  Therefore, purchase of that book is not necessary in order to read it.
  4. I left Goodreads in February of 2012 and I never intend to return.
  5. I have only ever responded positively to readers/reviewers of my books, either thanking them for their review or offering a refund if they didn’t enjoy them.
  6. I have only ever been supportive of other authors and have done my best to help them succeed.

For the past two years, I have been libeled, stalked, attacked, and threatened (by phone) all because I witnessed an injustice being done on a website (Goodreads) and instead of cowering in silence, I decided to speak out openly against it.  I’m not the only one who has spoken out.  Many others have as well. The fact that the problem escalated to the point where it was brought not just to national, but international attention and the fact that Goodreads had to act in order to correct it proves that I was right and that I’ve been a victim of bullying and abuse.  I am tired of being targeted, especially by those who should know better.

That is all I wanted to say.

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Ode to the Booble: A Portly Beagle

Posted by Melissa on January 12, 2014 in Random Thoughts |
Below is a poem written by my nephew in iambic pentameter for his beloved Beagle, Ruffles. :) 29698_103425746370811_6879179_n
My beagle is not just any other canine
Who sleeps and eats and barks etcetera
An animal content to remain all day supine.
Of talents he possesses a plethora.
Capable of eating a 12-inch pizza alone
Maybe he would die groaning on the floor.
But no! a person never would have known
In fact, maybe he could have eaten 2 more.
Such a beagle can be a tri-colored pain,
But he makes you love him although imperious,
He only barks once but not to complain
Just to tell you he’s really serious!
You would never find his breed on Google,
He’s not a Beagle, he’s a Booble.
~ Ian Nicholas Derrick

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First Outlander Trailer

Posted by Melissa on January 12, 2014 in Authors, Books, Movies |

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is coming to Starz!  So excited!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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The Truth About Gingers

Posted by Melissa on January 8, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

This is funny!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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To Protect and Infect

Posted by Melissa on January 7, 2014 in News, Random Thoughts |

The NSA has gone too far.  Spying on our personal computers is a violation of civil liberties and our right to privacy.  Thank God for people like Jacob Appelbaum.  Below, he gives an hour long talk on the issue, educating the public about what the NSA is doing, how we can stay aware, and what we can do to protect ourselves:

For a more detailed description of the video, this article says:

This is a terrific presentation from tech researcher and journalist Jacob Appelbaum. At December’s Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg, he presented the latest documented revelations about how deep the NSA spying rabbit hole really goes.

Appelbaum timed his talk to come out at the same time as a Der Spiegel article detailing the discovery of an NSA group called TAO, which helps the agency spy on citizens’ private computers — even intercepting computer deliveries to add backdoors to targeted people’s machines. Working with the German news magazine, Appelbaum carefully explains what he found and how it affects ordinary people around the world.

The extreme overzealousness of the NSA’s spying programs has been revealed bit by bit in the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations last year. Now, even conservative politicians like Republican Sen. Rand Paul are saying that the NSA is going too far. Paul recently threatened to sue the federal government for spying on its own citizens.

I applaud those like Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden who are exposing the NSA’s activities and educating the public about it.  Governments, especially those that preach democracy and freedom, should not be spying on its own citizens without their knowledge.  And I’m sad to say that our government is trying to silence these men who have brought us this information and who are trying to create transparency around the world.

In this day and age, transparency is essential.  When you’ve got people in power who are not being held in check, who are not being held accountable for their actions, it creates the perfect breeding ground for corruption.  Civil liberties get violated and everything we’ve worked for since America was founded is sabotaged.  The people who work in our government need to remember that they are public servants, that we pay their salaries, and that they work for us. Not the other way around.

Write to your congressmen.  Tell them to put a stop to this.  Don’t let the NSA take away your freedom.

~ Melissa

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Interstellar

Posted by Melissa on January 3, 2014 in Movies |

Interesting!  Coming November 2014!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Happy New Year!

Posted by Melissa on January 1, 2014 in Events, Random Thoughts |

Blessings and good fortune to all for the coming year!

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Happy New Year!

~ Melissa

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Sherlock on BBC One

Posted by Melissa on December 26, 2013 in Actors, TV |

With the new Sherlock Season three coming out this New Year’s day, many eager Sherlock fans are waiting on the edge of their seats to find out how Sherlock survived his fall from the hospital roof.  To be honest, I’m not really interested in how he survived, but what I am looking forward to is more of the great sleuthing stories that spring from the genius of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and more of the unique dynamic that Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch have created between their two characters, Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes.

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I don’t usually watch TV, mostly because I find that the crap airing these days is a complete waste of brain cells.  But there are a few shows I will watch (many of them BBC shows) either because they are so well done and intelligent or they are fun enough to be worth spending my valuable and scant spare time.  The BBC’s Sherlock is one of those shows.

With the exception of a few mistakes, the scriptwriting is superior to most.  I would say at times even brilliant.  Together with the superb acting abilities of the men who play the two main characters, Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, you’ve got a damn good show.  These two factors are really what carry it and keep viewers coming back.

While watching the show, however, it is really too tempting to compare this Sherlock with that of Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr.  While I really love Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes — the action, the lighthearted relationship between Watson and Holmes, and the fun they have — I can’t help but see it as being a little too staged and contrived.  Even Downey’s version of Sherlock Holmes seems to be more of a typecast role than anything.  That is, there’s really too much of Robert Downey Jr. in his Sherlock to be really convincing as Doyle’s original character.  And I’m not saying this is bad — the movies are still very entertaining — but it’s still not the Sherlock I see when I read the books.

Sherlock

Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, however, is more true to the original story than any other Sherlock I’ve seen and yet he still manages to create a character that is unique.  The Sherlock he weaves is a very complex and multi-layered character who seems to be a bit darker than Downey’s.  Where Downey openly shows his Sherlock to be human and needy, Cumberbatch’s is really more withdrawn and mysterious.  He is very hidden behind his protective walls.

While both Sherlocks have an uncanny ability to read people (and scenes) through amazing powers of observation and deduction, it seems to me that Cumberbatch’s Sherlock doesn’t just use this ability to solve crimes.  He also uses it as a weapon, either to keep people away from him or to impress them or both. The thing about his Sherlock that really struck me is that while he’s a genius at solving puzzles, when it comes to relationships with others, he’s a complete moron.  He has no emotional intelligence whatsoever.  This is his secret and because he doesn’t want people to think he’s stupid, he pretends to be uncaring and heartless.  But he’s not.  He does care and his arrogance is really more of a shield than anything.

Although he does generally have a certain disdain for people he sees has having an inferior intelligence to his — one of his major flaws that makes him his own worst enemy — he does care very much about people, especially the ones who are close to him, i.e. Mrs. Hudson and Dr. Watson … and perhaps his brother, Sgt. Lestrade and Molly Hooper.  As the series progresses, the friendship between the two main characters grows to the point where Sherlock actually begins to trust Watson and shares with him certain secrets, as well as his personality flaws.  When he is unsure of himself, he confides in Watson, something he usually doesn’t do with others.

“Not good?” he asks and Watson replies: “A bit not good, yeah.”

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And this is something I find very touching about the show.  The two characters, when apart, are dysfunctional and miserable, but when they come together, they draw on each other’s strengths and end up becoming the best crime solving team in London — a crime solving team that is not only needed by the police, but also by the British government when top secret information has been compromised.  The unique dynamic Freeman and Cumberbatch have created between these two characters is priceless and one of the major reasons the show is so popular.

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Given all these wonderful aspects of the show, there are, however, tiny mistakes that I don’t really think take away from the overall enjoyment, but are however somewhat noticeable.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about certain factual mistakes or other inconsistencies that have a tendency to stand out and could have been avoided with a little research on the scriptwriter’s part.

One of those is in the episode, The Hounds of Baskerville.  In the scene where Sherlock and Watson break into the classified files of the H.O.U.N.D. research project that took place in Indiana in the mid 1980s, Sherlock discovers that the murderer is someone who uses the word ‘cell phone’ because of the murderer’s time spent in America.

The only problem with this line is that ‘cell phones’ didn’t exist in the 1980s.  In 1983, Ameritech launched the first cellular network, but the phones that used that network were called car phones, not cell phones (ex: in the movie Crazy People with Dudley Moore, when he throws another driver’s car phone off the bridge — those were the kind of mobile phones that existed back then).  Cell phones didn’t become widely used in America, along with the word ‘cell phone’, until the mid 1990s.  And we know from the script that the murderer wasn’t in America in the 1990′s because the murder took place in Baskerville twenty years earlier.  This is just an example of one mistake I saw. There were others, but I don’t really have time or room on my post to go into them.

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Other mistakes at which I found myself rolling my eyes were simply instances where Sherlock is either way too quick in discovering something, rendering the scene completely unconvincing (ex: the Van Buren Supernova) or when he performs some superhuman feat, like seeing bread crumbs on a person’s lapel all the way from across a courtroom.  These instances are just really not believable.  But, like I said, these tiny errors really don’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the show and are really only noticeable to picky people like me.

Sherlock

There is, however, one particular feature, or I should say character in the show that at least for me, ruined the beautiful suspense built up so masterfully by Freeman and Cumberbatch.  At this point, saying I disliked this character would really be an understatement.  I couldn’t stand this character and during his moments of the show, I honestly had to force myself to watch.  That character was Moriarty.

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I really have to say I was hugely disappointed and it’s nothing against the actor or the script.  It’s really just a personal preference.  First of all, this particular Moriarty completely veers from the original character in the books.  In Doyle’s Sherlock, Moriarty is a professor, not just a crime lord.  Secondly, the actor who plays Moriarty in the show is too young and his performance so overdone, it renders the character completely unbelievable.  He is annoyingly psychotic and too obsessed with Holmes to be believable as a business mogul who commands such incredible power over large commercial and political organizations.  And because he is unconvincing, he is far from intimidating as a villain.

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But this is really where Guy Ritchie got it right.  The Moriarty played by Jared Harris in Game of Shadows was not only believable and true to Doyle’s original character, but he was also extremely frightening in that he really operated with a reserved, cold, and calculating evil.  At times, he reminded me of Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector.  If only the BBC show had portrayed a Moriarty such as this, it would have made it that much better.

Overall, however, the show is really fantastic.  The only two episodes with which I had a problem was The Great Game and The Reichenback Fall, and this was largely due to the unconvincing character of Moriarty.  The Great Game was superb, but only up until the end when we meet the villain.  At that point, I watched only because the episode was almost over and I wanted to see how it turned out.

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As for The Reichenbach Fall, the intention behind the episode was good and made for a suspenseful show, but the idea that Sherlock paid Moriarty to be a bad guy and that he set up all of the crimes he solved just to fool people and make himself look good is unbelievable.  It ruined the entire episode for me because there was no way Sherlock could have accomplished something like that.

For example, in the first episode of the first season, he invites Watson to be his flatmate so that he can afford to pay his London rent, and then all the sudden he magically comes up with 30 million pounds to set up the Vermeer painting case?  Not to mention paying Moriarty to be a psychotic criminal mastermind?

So … was he also supposed to have set up the Hounds of Baskerville case, too?  Because there was no way he could have.  That was a 20 year old case.  Lestrade should have known just by that case alone that Sherlock was not a fraud.  So, no.  Considering all this, the whole idea that Moriarty was able to convince people that Sherlock had set everything up was absurd.

Another out-of-character annoyance in this episode was from the character Mycroft, Sherlock’s older brother.  In the first episode of the first season, Mycroft is so concerned for his younger brother that he sends a government surveillance team to watch him, and yet in the last episode of the second season, he not only sits back and lets Sherlock be destroyed — while at the same time having the power to stop it — he participates in it by giving Moriarty the ammunition to bring Holmes down.  Unless there is something in season three that explains this, it was way too out of character for Mycroft to be believable and left me feeling empty and disappointed with the writing.

Edit 1/20/2014: Mycroft’s actions were explained in season three.  See Sherlock: The Empty Hearse.

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The only scene in The Reichenback Fall that moved me was Watson’s monologue at the end, in front of Sherlock’s gravestone.  As I sat and watched, tears poured down my cheeks in waves and as I said before, it is really the unique relationship between Sherlock and Watson (and the great sleuthing stories) that kept me and other viewers coming back to watch.  And this is why everyone is eagerly awaiting season three that comes out on New Year’s Day.  Luckily for us, the show’s producers have given us a mini-glimpse into the new episode.

Thank you, BBC!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Merry Christmas!

Posted by Melissa on December 25, 2013 in Events |

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A little Christmas history:

Merry Christmas!

~ Melissa

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