Fanning the flames

Check it out, peoples: Snarking the Snarky.

Oh snap, we been snarked!

I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in a long time, or seen so many people afraid to leave contact information.

Didn’t somebody do something similar to Mrs. Giggles a few years back?

This is almost like Ninjas vs. Pirates, but with fewer peg legs and shuriken, and more estrogen and stiletto heels. Oh, and more delusions about the stakes, since nobody sane takes Ninjas vs. Pirates seriously.


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  1. 1

    I don’t get it. Is SnarkYou anonymous? Am I missing something here?

    I was prepared from something delicious and tart, but. . . It looks like snark, but I think a key ingredient is missing. Witticism? Self-effacement? Dirty humor? Something.

  2. 2
    Stef says:

    I don’t get it either.

    Oh, Victoria, what say we begin the Snarky I Don’t Get It Snark School For The Snarkily Challenged?

    Where’s Robin?  She can draft the charter for us, and perhaps discuss the evolution of the word, Snark, along with pie charts and legal interpretations, cause, yaknow, I thought Snark was like porn – I know it when I see it.  Evidently, not.  I’d therefore like some guidance.  All this time, I’ve been spewing Diet Coke all over the monitor here at SB’s, not knowing that this isn’t *really* Snark.  It’s only Imitation Snark, and not that funny.

    Candy and Sarah, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!!!

  3. 3

    Oh, and btw, that rule about not ending a sentence in a preposition? Is for the weak and frightened.

    And the rule about not ending a sentence in a proposition is TOTAL bullshit. (God DAMN it, I crack myself up.)

  4. 4

    I thought Snark was like porn – I know it when I see it.

    PAH-HAHAHAHA It’s terrible how many viewing hours it takes to get that right, isn’t it?

  5. 5
    Robin says:

    I’m just grateful more legal complaints aren’t filed under the CDA against some of these blog hosts.  Seriously.

  6. 6
    Candy says:

    Yeah, SnarkYou is anonymous, though there has been some rampant speculation about which author is the woman behind the curtain.

    I’m interested to hear Robin’s take on this, too; I can picture her shaking her head sadly over all this snippy, snarky immaturity over inconsequentialities.

    Also, Victoria: would you like come over some time and check out my big, beautiful, delicious…etchings?

  7. 7
    Candy says:


  8. 8
    Victoria Dahl says:

    Robin, what’s the CDA?

  9. 9
    Sallyacious says:

    You’re right. It’s not snarking. It’s just bitchery without the smart. Snarking is like kissing with a little bite. (Or biting with a little kiss?) That other stuff’s just biting, without the sense of fun.

    I come back to sites like this because there’s a warmth in the words. I feel like I could hang out with Sarah and Candy and the other SB’s. If there was an SB convention, we’d probably spend most of our time laughing like hell.

    I don’t think I’d want to spend any time at all with Snark You. And if I had to, I’d be watching for the knife.

  10. 10

    Victoria: would you like come over some time and check out my big, beautiful, delicious…etchings?

    I do know good etchings when I see them.  :coolgrin:

  11. 11
    Robin says:

    Okay, since you asked, and since it takes much less than that to get me to share an opinion, let’s see if I can even figure out what I’m thinking here, because a lot of it’s still rolling through what’s left of my mind in paradox form. 

    First an easy one:  The CDA (Communications Decency Act) is part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and was originally passed to provide protections for ISPs who were trying to create “family safe” online environments (read anti-obscenity legislation here).  To make a long story short, part of the CDA was struck down and part was amended via Section 230 (see Wikipedia entry here)
    that provided what has widely been seen as extra protection for ISPs against personal tort claims (most commonly defamation type suits).  While early court decisions favored ISPs in this reading of Section 230, one court case, Barrett v. Rosenthal, is before the California Supreme Court and some expect that it will reduce insulation for ISPs from personal tort claims.  What this means practically is that people will be able to sue, say, AOL, for not taking down a comment someone claims is defamatory and provides notice to the ISP to remove.  Such a decision would potentially have consequences for everything from blog comments to feedback on eBay (check out the case Grace v. eBay) to messageboards.  Personally, I’m a little worried about what’s going to happen with the Barrett case and with free speech protection as a whole on the Internet (especially in our post 9/11 environment). But then I always worry about what’s happening with free speech protections.

    As for the whole “snarkyou” thing, in concert with Karen Scott’s blog and assorted other cross-blog flame throwing, I think there’s a substantive difference between mocking covers and criticizing an author’s taste in men at funerals.  I think there’s a substantive difference between insightfully and sarcastically taking a book apart (irony and satire are two of our greatest literary weapons against political injustice and insultingly bad writing) and calling a particular author or reader a cunt.  IMO there’s a reason mean isn’t only defined as unkind but also as unsophisticated. 

    Obviously people can say whatever they want and I’ll defend their right to do so.  None of us watching are without complicity in the whole deal, whether we comment on the particular blogs or not, IMO.  All of us have had our moments of inconsistency and contradiction and bad tempered comments.  The question I always ask as a reader, though, is “why”?  What’s the motive and what’s the purpose in speaking?  How I personally answer that question basically dictates how I assimilate and respond to certain information. I think there are a lot of different motives and purposes out there.  Some appear to enjoy spinning a certain issue to make it the most sensational possible, then stepping back and watching it unfurl, perhaps poking it forward now and again.  Some appear to be venting anger at god knows what in a place that feels anonymous and deserving.  Some appear to be lashing back at whatever or whoever.  Some appear to enjoy making verbal mincemeat out of others.  Some seem to be truly outraged and are just plain spitting angry.  Some appear to be too sensitive for their own public good.  Some appear to enjoy being clever while making a point they find truly compelling.  It’s all over the map, IMO.  Personally, I wish more people would ask the why question of their own comments before they post, because that whole pot and kettle syndrome can a real drag, IMO.

  12. 12
    --E says:

    How to tell the difference between snark and not-snark:

    Snark requires an element of “it’s funny ‘cuz it’s true.”

    Snark cannot have elements of defensiveness, touchiness, or implication that the speaker has been offended. All of these are by definition the polar opposite of snark.

    Snark requires cleverness. People should read it and say, “That was exactly what I was thinking, and I wish I had said it so well.”

    Snark cannot contain cliches, e.g., shout from rooftops or pay for the priviledge.

    Snark requires tight writing. It slips the knife in with few words.

    Snark cannot contain overlong sentences swollen with false “mood”, e.g., you might want to, and give it a gander now and again.

    Snark requires a specific point (which drives quickly between the ribs).

    Snark cannot wander across many topics, meandering from sentence to sentence like a seventh-grader collating every other sentence from three different encyclopedia entries.

  13. 13
    Nicole says:

    Well, my wonderful college grammar professor told us that it was perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition, especially if you were from the Midwest, where it’s an art form. 🙂

    And yes, no matter that I managed to get an A in grammar, that sentence sucks.

    Eh, I’d say that SnarkYou is a bitter old hag who just can’t take a good snarking.  It sounds like she’s trying for dry wit, but it just isn’t working.

  14. 14
    Robin says:

    I come back to sites like this because there’s a warmth in the words.

    I think real passion can lead to contentious and even sometimes offending language.  But IMO, if you sense the humanity of the person making the comments and can feel how much they actually care about anything more than making fun of someone or something else, the whole dynamic of interaction changes.

  15. 15
    ShuzLuva says:

    It’s not snarking. It’s just bitchery without the smart.

    Which is why SnarkYou is just so…poor. It’s about as enjoyable as nails across a blackboard.

  16. 16
    lauren says:

    Fuck, wonderful. Just what we need, drawing out of this situation and the beginning of endless fingerpointing and speculation.

    Jeebus people, lookit ol MaryJanice, people may get all bunched up about her but she says it with her face on. I totally dig that about her.

    This thing makes me angry not because I don’t see the frustration on my side (the author side) of the fence, but becuase it takes an ISOLATED thing and heats it up. Most of us get along, despite our occasional spats. But this shit just makes war. And we don’t need anymore useless wars with no exit strategies.

  17. 17
    Anne says:

    Isn’t that hilarious?  This author/person/snarky wenchbag feels compelled to speak out all about Karen and anyone else who tends to be snarky, but those people who he/she/it speaks out about could give a rats arse about anything he/she/it has to say.  Kinda like a day late and a dollar short, ya know?  It’s over.  Move on already!

  18. 18
    rebyj says:

    ooooo snarkage!

    good word to define web carnage!

    Hey they rewarded you with a link on their page!

    Not as nice of a reward as being dubbed by the smart bitches though.

  19. 19
    Mrs. MJ says:

    I followed the link, and landed right back in high school! It was horrible *shiver*  But seriously, I thought that when you got older…I dunno, you grew up? Matured beyond the childish games of trying to hurt someone’s feelings then run and hide, or even just doing it to make yourself feel better. I’ve never liked people that fed off of ripping others down, IMO it’s a mental illness that should be medicated.

  20. 20
    Caryle says:

    I followed the link, and well, SnarkYou just wasn’t funny.

    The reason the Smart Bitches are funny is that they never take themselves too seriously.  There’s a world of difference.

  21. 21
    AngieZ says:

    I’ll agree Snarkyou is not too whitty and a bit bitter, but it is fun to follow.  Kind of like rubbernecking at a car crash.  But then again it is like watching my teenagers snip at each other.

  22. 22
    Robin says:

    I followed the link, and well, SnarkYou just wasn’t funny.

    It also feels to me that the firsts post was written by a different person than the second one.  I actually never thought MJD was at the helm of this so-called blog, but I’m not sure my first guess was correct, either.  It’s kind of interesting how many people are willing to hitch a ride on a runaway train when they don’t know who’s at the controls, though.

    I’ve always figured that really smart people don’t have to go out of their way to make other people look stupid, and really funny people don’t have to go out of their way to make other people look inane.  Personally, I think comedian Lewis Black is one of the funniest and smartest people on the planet, and one of the reasons I love him is that he treats his audience as if they’re all in on the joke and just as smart as he is.  IMO he exemplifies the difference between angry satire and mean sarcasm.

  23. 23
    Elizabeth says:

    Wait—Ninjas vs. Pirates is not to be taken seriously?  Shit!

    I’m have more difficulty than most of you, articulating my feelings about that blog.  The best I can say is that snark is a sharp stiletto.  That blog?  It’s a meat cleaver.  Or possibly a shoe.

  24. 24
    megan says:

    This is slightly random yet related in my own head…

    When a book critic for the New York Times gives a book a scathing review, do these authors jump up and retaliate?  I’ve certainly never heard of it happening.  Why then, is a bad review (or a funny one or a snarky one) on a website something that needs to be discredited?  I’ve never understood this.  Because as far as I know you don’t have to have a degree in book critique in order to review for newspapers or more respected forums (correct me if that’s wrong).

    Snark You also missed the point in a huge way; authors should be allowed to defend their work and they don’t have to like bad reviews or snarky comments (although grow a sense of humor already), but its childish and pointless to say, “Shut up I hate you you can’t say that about me.”  (How’s that for an awful sentence?)

  25. 25
    sherryfair says:

    The NY Times Book Review includes a letters section, and yes, authors are among the people who write in disagreeing with reviews that were run in previous weeks. (Usually, they are contesting a point of fact.) They run corrections, as well. So does the New York Review of Books. And the New Yorker. It’s the Old Media’s way of being interactive. Of course, blogs & message boards are already interactive by nature. What’s still developing is an etiquette of civil discourse, which seems to have been around much longer in the Old Media.

    I can’t help but wonder if the “culture of saying nice things” that prevails within Romance causes the pressure to build up way, way too much sometimes. If the discussion of published Romances could manage to be as free & easy as the discussions of unpublished work that routinely occurs within Romance writers’ critique groups—then maybe some of this tension would ease off & there wouldn’t be these breakdowns in communication.

  26. 26
    Lydia Joyce says:

    I thought the CP authors—*CP authors*—reacted with grace and humor.  An artist for CP was a bit testy, and the own/publisher completely flew of the handle, but the CP authors didn’t DO anything.  I might not agree with their tastes, but I don’t think their behavior can be faulted, and I certainly don’t think they deserve the treatment Karen gave them.  Totally uncalled for…and for no reason except sensationalism.  If anything, the authors were trying to calm things down after the owner got so upset.  Gah, and some of the responses!  I guess I remember now why I don’t visit there very often.  :-/  Karen tore me a new one when I wasn’t even the one posting a comment, and of course there wasn’t the slightest hint of apology when it was revealed that I’m not the same person as another poster.  I suppose even accuracy must bow to brilliant wit.  Or whatever.

    I’m having one of those “losing-whatever-remaining-faith-I-had-in-humanity” days.  And Snarkyou isn’t helping.  It’s not that I want the world to be all nice and pink and sweet and fuzzy, but this is like taking sugary sweet hypocrisy and nasty, petty, back-stabbing that are the most hideous traits in some women and just removing the sugary sweetness.  It’s really not an improvement.  It’s downright depressing.

    I like Smart Bitches because it’s, well, SMART.  The cattiness has a wink and a smile.  It’s honest and funny, even when I don’t agree with your opinions (I really don’t think most of the covers snarked are all THAT terrible—okay, they probably WOULD be terrible if romance books had had better covers in the 80s, but as it is, most choices are like shooting fish in a barrel—er, teacup), and there’s no spite or bile behind it.  The SBs aren’t playing queen bee, and they don’t seem to have issues left over from the popularity contests in high school that they’re trying to work out.  They don’t have grudges—it’s like sitting with some clever friends over a margarita (theirs, not mine—I fall asleep) and just poking fun at the world in a good-natured sort of way.  They joke about being mean, but it isn’t actually mean because it lacks the prerequisite MALICE.

    I guess I’ve learned the mistake of making sincerity and honesty an assumption yet AGAIN—every time I think I’m a hopeless cynic, I discover that really I’m a delusional optimist all over again.

    I guess that’s a major reason why I like my little writing cave.  Except when I’m stuck breathing the same air as the Evil Mothers from Hell at the Bear’s gymnastics class, I never really come into contact with that anymore, so I don’t always recognize it right away.  More the fool me.

    I suppose I couldn’t entirely lose faith and still write what I do.  So maybe a little happy delusion is as good for my career as it is essential for my mental health.

    I think today’s watchword can be summed up as “Euergh.”


  27. 27
    kate r says:

    Ha! Someone sent me an email asking if it’s ME.

    I’m so honored, but no, it’s not. Snarking the snark, meta-snark, requires more talent than I’ve got—but see, I know that.

    EAP, the SBs and probably Beth are the only people I can think of who could meta-snark enough to maintain a worthwhile blog about it. 

    Sides I would have made Mrs. Giggles the first link up there. I still swoon over her essays. (not so much the reviews, although some of them are worth re-reading).

    I am bitter, however. Why didn’t my attempt to have the Best of Reviews Blog attract this kind of attention?

  28. 28
    Raina_Dayz says:

    Tearing people down to build yourself up is lame.  Hopefully this person has the memo on that now.  I have never heard of that website before but I’m not impressed at all by it.  People have already said it, but Smart Bitches has heart -and- it’s funny as hell.  Not to mention I’ve gotten a zillion fabulous book recommendations, and made tons of use of the search feature when I’m thinking of checking out a new (to me) author.

    Also I used to be embarassed by my romance novel habit!  Embarassed!  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t do more for one of my favorite genres in the past.  Y’all legitimized my dirty habit, and I am really forever grateful.

  29. 29

    I’ve already expressed my opinion on people who post anonymous rudeness, that lovely word starting with a C and ending with a T. And no, it’s not four letters.

    You want to open fire, come out from behind the tree to do it. There’s no honor in sneaky snark, particularly when it’s poorly done.

  30. 30
    azteclady says:

    Raina, the snarky blog was created specifically in response to the kerfuffle on Karen Scott’s blog a couple of days ago.

    Lydia-not-anon Joyce (sorry, couldn’t resist), I agree with you that most of the authors from CP didn’t jump salty at the cover snark. Most were in fact quite civil about it.

    Regarding the (un)fairness/meanness/niceness/etc of readers hurting authors’ feelings, I stand by my previous comments here, at Karen’s, Indida’s, and elsewhere (and why the hell not, since apparently I’m gonna be black listed at author’s blogs and sites for daring use the same nick wherever I happen to post).

    Life is not fair, people by and large are not nice, and readers will say mean, rude, and downright mean things about books they’ve read and disliked. Should they remember that authors are people and that writing is hard work, and thus be more careful how they phrase their complaints about whatever didn’t work for them? Maybe—but then, people should be civil in all venues, and mostly they are not.

    The thing is, authors make money off the readers, and the opposite is not true. It would seem common sense to me that authors should take that into account before reacting to anything in public.

    Fair? Not a bit.

    But that’s life for you.

    On a more personal note (which I’m sure will be interpreted as sucking up by a few anons), I agree that your covers are gorgeous. I finished VEIL OF NIGHT and liked it—a lot, in fact—with a couple of minor quibbles (I’ll contact you through your website)

    [spam foiler: walked98]

  31. 31
    Arethusa says:

    So which people are at the “popular” table in the cafeteria and can I come sit with? 🙂 I’ve never seen the film “Mean Girls” but with each entertaining romance blog drama I feel as if I should (except it has Lindsay Lohan so….no).

  32. 32

    Damn it, Mistress Stef, if it’s not four letters, I don’t know what it is. Cunthat? Fucking word jumbles.

    I just checked out Indida’s (sp?) blog. I’m still laughing hysterically, picturing her screaming, “Write, bitches, WRITE!” HA! I think I’m gonna post that over my screen as a reminder.

    And MJD may proudly use her name wherever she rants and raves, but when the hell does that woman have time to write? I picture her slowly cruising the dark streets of the vast blogworld, eyes rolling in mad pleasure as she croons, “Here, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty. Mama wants to play.”

    Then again, maybe I should use my imagination to actually GET SOME WORK DONE. *sigh*

  33. 33
    Bev (BB) says:

    The thing is, authors make money off the readers, and the opposite is not true. It would seem common sense to me that authors should take that into account before reacting to anything in public.

    Fair? Not a bit.

    Now see, I don’t see why authors needing to monitor their behavior towards readers is supposed to be a matter of fairness in the first place. It’s a matter of business, plain and simple.

  34. 34
    Karen Scott says:

    Lydia Joyce wrote:
    “Karen tore me a new one when I wasn’t even the one posting a comment, and of course there wasn’t the slightest hint of apology when it was revealed that I’m not the same person as another poster

    You see, this is how things get started. I never assumed that the other Lydia was you, if you can be arsed to go back and read the comments, you will see that the comments preceding mine was by another Lydia.  At no point in my post did I refer to you, and as I’m not in the habit of apologising for other people’s misconceptions, that would explain why I didn’t say sorry.

    I could ask you to apologise for your misconceptions, but I’m not in the habit of doing that either. 

    You also wrote:
    but I don’t think their behavior can be faulted, and I certainly don’t think they deserve the treatment Karen gave them.  Totally uncalled for…and for no reason except sensationalism.

    Actually, the original blog post was so bland, as to be inane, no sensationalism intended whatsoever. Shelby Morgen’s post just gave me a good subject matter for my next blog. Had she and her cronies not posted, the ensuing contretemps would have been avoided altogether.

    Having re-read my second post, I think that you’ll find that actually, that was also tame, and contained mainly comments from the previous post, as well as my own brand of commentary.

    Internet flame wars tend to take on a life of their own, not just because of bloggers like me, but because people are so willing to cogitate, disseminate and dissect the why’s and wherefores of the latest brouhaha. As much as you’d hate to admit it, you also play a part in fanning the flames just by putting across your point of view. The only ones who aren’t guilty of this, are the ones who say nothing.

    If you don’t feed the fire, then the flames will eventually die.

    Simple, no?

  35. 35
    Shannon says:

    that lovely word starting with a C and ending with a T. And no, it’s not four letters.


    I feel so stupid now.

  36. 36
    Sallyacious says:


    It can’t be clot or curt or cast…


  37. 37
  38. 38
    azteclady says:


  39. 39
    Elizabeth says:

    That word has me stumped!  My first thought was “cat”, but maybe it’s something closer to “Carat” or “copyright”?

  40. 40
    Victoria Dahl says:

    Wait! I’ve got it! Chickenshit!

    Word jumble, thou hast not beaten me!

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