Friday, January 12, 2007

The Authors Have Spoken…

…but not to me.

Monday night (the 8th) I was not quite ready for bed so I was scrolling through my old blog posts to see if there were any new comments. I was surprised to see that there were new comments on both of my posts about The MomsTown Guide to Getting it All: A Life Makeover for Stay at Home Moms and that I had no idea who the commenters were. It only took about two minutes to figure out where these women had come from. I found them over at the MomsTown site, on their “Big Break Forums.” Mary, one of the authors, had posted a thread titled, “Need Your Help” and this is what it said,

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who know us and those of you who are beginning to know us, you know that we have dedicated our professional lives to helping moms find there dreams. We love hearing your stories, reading the the connections you're making, and the support you give each other.

Because, the online world is global and has a huge reach we are all able to do good and help each other but every now and then we run into someone like this.

We received a Google Alert from this woman's blog post on our first book "The MomsTown Guide to Getting It All". She believes we are ill- intentioned, that we wrote the book to make a buck, and that we really don't care about moms.

If you have a moment and feel so inclined to respond to her, please post a comment on her blog. We feel she not only judged us unfairly, she's unfairly judged MomsTown. A place where we support all moms.

Thank you,
Mary & Heather
And then it listed my url.

And, as you can see, the MomsTown women came to visit. (I still haven't figured out why Mary and Heather didn't come comment themselves rather than having other people do it for them, but, well, I guess that's not for me to understand).

After reading the comments I hoped to add a little bit of integrity and forthrightness to the situation. After all, the commenters didn't reveal their affiliation, how they had found my blog, or why they had come to visit in the first place. In fact, several of them have blogs of their own, but didn't have the courage/courtesy to link back to their own blogs. So I decided that I would take a trip to MomsTown and post in their forum.

I composed a nice little reply to post on the "Need Your Help" thread. That task complete, I registered on the Forum and immediately received an e-mail welcoming me to the "Big Break Forums." It also stated that my account was currently inactive and that the board administrator would need to activate it.

That was four days ago.

Since I am obviously not welcome in MomsTownI decided to post my reply here. So if they had allowed me in their forum, this is what they would have seen:

Mary and Heather,

Who thought I’d be posting on your forum? When I saw that the “Big Break Forum” was the origin of all the random comments that suddenly appeared on my blog, how could I not stop by and say hello?

I wanted to come by and address your post on the Big Break Forums that seems to have attracted this attention to my blog. First of all, please know that you are welcome to leave your own comments on my blog if you really feel that I have “unfairly judged” you, rather than sending other people to come to your defense. Second of all, I ask that you please read what I have written carefully before you accuse me of believing that you “don’t really care about moms” and that you’re “just out to make a buck.” Never did I state either of those things. I can understand why you might assume that I believe you were ill-intentioned, but I assure you that I do not believe that you set out to write this book in an effort to intentionally do harm to moms. You would do well to base your understandings of what I “believe” based on what I have written rather than assuming you know what I believe and then communicating that to your readers.

If you go back and read my posts carefully you will find this: What I do believe is that this book contributes to the greater societal misconception that there is something wrong with a SAHM who is satisfied with cooking, cleaning, and carpooling. What I do believe is that the book puts undue pressure on women to live up to the expectation that we can “get it all,” when in fact, many of us make difficult choices between our families and our careers.What I do believe is that if you really think spirituality is an important aspect of a fulfilling life, then you will point readers toward other resources to nurture that spirituality . Instead, you have implied that 15 minutes of mantra a day is sufficient for a healthy spiritual life. What I do believe is that there are reasons for doing good things for others people besides what I will get in return. I didn’t see much (if any) acknowledgement of that in your book. What I do believe is that you are correct in your assertion that taking care of one’s body is necessary for overall physical, mental, and emotional health. If you were to look further down in my posts, you would see that I mentioned how motivated I was to care more for my physical health after reading the book.

I want to also be clear that never did I judge you as people, as you would like the folks on your forum to believe, and I certainly never judged MomsTown. I commented on your book, not your character. I commented on one aspect of MomsTown; I did not pass judgment on the entire enterprise. If you feel I have judged your book unfairly, I can certainly understand that, but be clear that I made no comment on who you are as people or on your business. I have read the reviews of this book on and have a hard time believing that you’re not yet thick-skinned enough to dismiss the opinions of one person in one miniscule corner of the blogosphere.

I’m glad that the two of you have touched so many lives. It’s obvious that there are women whose lives have been greatly enhanced by your books, website, and radio programming. I think that’s great and I hope you keep up the good work!

To Everyone,

I apologize if I have caused any hurt by criticizing something that is obviously so important to many of you. It is obvious that you are bright, articulate, and successful women whose lives have been profoundly impacted by MomsTown. My opinions of this book shouldn’t take anything away from that.

Wish you well (and thanks for mentioning me on your radio show, although I hardly believe I have egg on my face),

Mary Beth


martha said...

"We feel she not only judged us unfairly, she's unfairly judged MomsTown. A place where we support all moms."

Why don't ya'll support all grammar too?

Feel free to delete this, Mary Beth, I don't want you to get in more hot water with the possee, it was just too funny to skip.

Mary said...

Hello Mary Beth,

Heather and I have been pressed by a deadline on our manuscript due today. As for not responding to you directly we extended to you the same courtesy you extended to us by not writing to us directly.

We also did not deny access to you or anyone else on our forum intentionally. We are trying filters to stop spam.

As for your letter we posted it in our forum in its entirety.


TLS said...

My goodness, what a hornet's nest you have stirred on this one, MB!

I have to say that I am somewhat disturbed by the policing of the internet for comments related to their work and the seriousness with which they treat the "blogosphere."

God knows I have slammed books (as well as praised them) to friends and family. Who knew our opinons were up for debate with the authors? It seems quite odd that professionals would spend so much of their time defending their work in your small slice of the internet.

I suppose you should feel proud that your opinion was taken this seriously.

Perhaps next time when we dislike a text we should all first forward our comments to the author(s) for approval....

TLS said...

Oh, and by the way, Mary and Heather, if you are still watching, while I didn't really think much about you or your writing from MB's post, your own actions and words about MB's blog have persuaded me never to purchase any of your books.

martha said...

Honestly, though, Mary and Heather, you published a book that, judging from the reviews, people love or hate. You sort of have to just deal with that, don't you?

Why are you running around the internet griping at people who don't like your book? It really isn't customary to rally one's troops against a reader who didn't care for your work. It kind of makes you seem...pathetic. You know, like you need everyone to either be kissing your tootsies or be quiet.

Nobody gets that, especially not (bad) writers. Grow up.

Jennifer said...

Mary Beth, must you always be stirring the pot?! LOL :) It occurs to me that the last time your blog got this much negative attention, it was also in regards to your literary opinions. Who knew a good old girl turned pastor turned mom held so much sway in the book industry? Maybe a call to Harper Collins is in order!

Jenny said...

Deep sigh on your behalf. Guess disagreeing once again means its a personal attack against those you disagree with, though this time I will possibly not jump in and write my own blog about it for fear of... well, you know. And, like in a similar situation from the not-so-distant past, suddenly other people's comments on MB's blog are MB's opinions.
Go back and read over the comments and make sure you know who said what before you start hurling things. Everyone.
I guess one of the breaks of publishing -- whether a book or a series of books or a simple weblog -- is the fact that other people are looking and other people have opinions. Just because you disagree with them doesn't mean you're foolish or look stupid.
And I think that people who publish and have public lives whether in the pulpit, on television or radio, or even on the internet should grasp the fact that sometimes there are people who aren't going to like what you have to say, and it's time to accept it and get over it, and not necessarily call all your friends to gang up on anyone who's not a sycophant.
Good luck everyone. Have it all.

heike said...

Hello Mary Beth,

after seeing the post from Mary & Heather, and your response, I feel like I need to come back and give you an apology. Not for what I said as part of "the possee", but for doing EXACTLY what I hate about so many others on the internet. I became judgmental and catty, and just let it all out based on your one comment.

Reading all the subsequent comments, I am sad that we all take the opportunity to bitch and judge. I think it is natural for us to side with those we know and like. I did. I did so because I have seen a side of Mary & Heather that you have not. It had nothing to do with their book, I just thought your comments were unfair. Being that you are a "public figure" in your community, and you obviously have some followers here also, I felt that your judgment and opinion would hinder someone who could benefit from this book.

With that said, I have a blog myself, and have often stepped on toes with my opinions. Though you and I lead totally different lives and would probably never be friends, I believe we would all fare better as women if we could respect our differences and learn from each other.

I don't think defending something you create and put your heart and sweat into makes you less professional, I think it makes you human and shows your passion. Yes, once you put your creation out into the world you are open for opinions, both positive and negative. On some days these opinions get too personal, and they rub you the wrong way. Then, if you decide to comment, you become: 1. bitchy 2. unable to accept criticism 3. unprofessional, etc. And those that support you become your possee :). Too funny.

Anyways, it is late and I would hate to give the grammar police any more ammunition, so I will leave it at that and wish you much success in your quest as a SAHM.

Kat E said...

...just sitting back chuckling to myself over this whole thing...

Sarah said...

Mary Beth, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your opinions on your blog. If people choose to write and publish a book on parenting, more so on being a mother, people are going to have opinions on it. And people are going to post about it on their blog. I hope you keep saying what you think.

Mary Beth said...

The plot thickens:

1. Roughly four hours after I published this blog post I was finally admitted to the MomsTown forums. Coincidence? You decide.

2. Roughly 24 hours after I published this blog post the entire "Need Your Help" thread from Mary at Momstown was deleted. Interesting.

Mary Beth said...

The horse is dead, I know, but two things remain a mystery to me...

1. Even if only for a few days, why would these ladies give me so much power? They're the ones with the book, the radio show, and all the answers. I'm a nobody in Armpit, TN. It baffles me.

2. As for not responding to you directly we extended to you the same courtesy you extended to us by not writing to us directly.

What does this mean? Was I supposed to just zip them an e-mail containing my thoughts on the book rather than publishing it on my blog? If that's the case, there are a lot of authors' e-mail addresses that I need to collect because I'm sure they're all waiting on the edges of their seats to hear what I have to say about what they write!

Mary Beth said...

And finally,

Thanks for shaking your heads (and chuckling) along with me as this has played out!

Ruth said...


MB's reviewed a book on her blog and the authors have reacted _like THIS_?

Keep posting the reviews, MB. They are incisive and articulate. It was thought-provoking for me, as a mum, to hear your comments on this book and I, for one, thank you for sharing in detail your views on it.

I'm sorry that you received this reaction. Sadly, encounters like this might deter some people from continuing to enjoy the freedom of expression that the world of blogging has opened up to us - none of us, I hope.

gavoweb said...

am i jumping in late?

mb, i'm glad you picked up on the "same courtesy" (or i'm surprised i picked up on it as a man). i haven't seen such passive aggressiveness written so blatantly in some time.

i think your expression that "they gave you their power" is right on. as someone who has done a number of creative projects that are out on the marketplace. it's scary to know that people will judge it at some level, but that part of it & you deal with it.