Fuse #8

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Give 'em the Old Razzle-Dazzle, Razzle-Dazzle 'em.

I just never know what's going to start a debate or not these days. On the evening of the 16th I was minutes away from beddy-bye and I saw I hadn't fulfilled my write-five-blog-posts requirement of the day. Pfui. So I did some digging in my older unpublished drafts and found this little article Jen Robinson had conjured up from the Chronicle of Higher Education regarding n+1. Fine. Good. Post it and sleep. A day's work done.

Next day, all is well. A couple more comments on that pup than I'd expected, but whatever. We've covered the whole Should We Write Negative Reviews topic so often I didn't think it'd get very far this time. My bad. Then while on dinner break at work I notice that I'm getting hits from Roger's blog.

Uh-oh. Roger likes to think. Thinking takes effort. I slooooooowly go over. Maybe... maybe it's a link to that adorable tricycle I posted about the other day.

Yeah, no such luck. In the piece This is why I don't have a blogroll. Or friends (danger, Will Robinson, DANGER) Roger has indeed seen the aforementioned piece. Does he agree with my take on it? Not a jot. Which is fine, because I like his points, even if I don't agree with each and every one. Oh but, bloody hell. Is that 23 comments to the piece? Yes it is. And what's more, I'm finding myself in mighty hot hot hot water. Most notable? This bit by the mysterious B.E.M.:

Interesting topic, Roger. I agree with SDL. The New York-area librarians have always gotten the year-round swag and party invitations that those of us in the hinterlands will never see.

The only difference is that now, children's lit blogs have exposed that part of the business to the rest of the world, since it seems there are bloggers who can't refrain from gushing about their latest social engagements, rubbing elbows with publishers and authors, under the ruse of giving the rest of us poor slobs relevant news about our field.

From the gossipy reports I've read, they seem to be very easily dazzled and, yeah, it makes me question their credibility as reviewers and as members of a book jury.

It does seem like some bloggers are being used by the promotional division of publishing companies, and it doesn't always sound like they realize this is happening. Obviously, it benefits the publisher to cozy up under the guise of friendship, to tell the bloggers how interesting and brilliant and important they are. (Bloggers must already be preconditioned to believe this -- why else would they have a blog in the first place?) And what a boon for the publisher -- free advertising! It'll be interesting to see if blogs quickly become yet another means to reach consumers.

PSSST! I think B.E.M.'s talking about me!

Well, duh. Who else do you know who lives in New York, goes to publisher parties, and lets people know about them? That's me, dude. Me me me. And I don't have to be preconditioned to believe in my own interest, brilliance, and importance to read between the lines on this one. Perfect strangers calling into question the legitimacy of my reviews and committee status? Must be springtime. You can smell it in the air. *sniff* It's love.

Geez o' petes, people. If you don't want to read a gossipy report of what Random House, Little Brown, or Greenwillow's putting out for the season, you do not have to. I'm not required reading. Unless, y'know, I'm on a curriculum or something. Then you're kinda screwed. And I blog just to be told how lovely I am? Um... is that why anyone blogs? Has blogging become so cool that the minute you make one you're drowning in praise and cupcakes? I started mine because I was already writing reviews on Amazon which, while fun, didn't get me much in the way of feedback. Then I added in some daily tidbits. The fact that I go to publisher parties has as much to do with location (NYC) as blogging.

But all that aside, the question here (and Roger himself notes it) is the legitimacy of my blog reviews when not five minutes ago I was sharing a sweet sweet chocolate chip cookie with a marketing associate, telling me about their latest season. And I can yak on all day about how cookies do not buy my love and how I just wrote a critical review of a Little Brown book not two weeks after I reported on their soiree... but what's the point? If you think that my love can be bought, then that's how you see me. That's fine. Disregard me or whatever. Does it make any difference that a cookie won't make a bad book good or a mediocre title interesting? Between every reviewer and reader there is an essential level of trust. If I tell you where I've been and what I've seen, am I less dependable than the other reviewers who've done the same but kept their lips locked? It's an interesting question. Is this a case of someone being criticized for having a personality or for failing to take into account the gravity of their self-appointed occupation?

It brings to mind the current debate being held over whether or not ALSC should tell the spouses of people in the publishing industry to keep from serving on committee panels. If your hubby works for Random House and you find yourself on the Caldecott committee, the thinking goes that you should excuse yourself. So where does one draw the line then? What if you used to work for Random House, became a librarian, and now want to serve? What if you just happen to piggyback on Random House's previews and they give you swag? What if they send you free books in the mail? What if last night you went to see a friend's co-worker's husband's band perform and the drummer was a Random House children's editor? How easy a sucker for their charming ways are you anyway?

And why do I write about publisher parties? Because they're what I wish I could read more of myself. I confess to loving Mediabistro's book party info. I wish more people would talk about events here and there (and NOT in the NYC area). So what I do is I write what I myself like. In the process, publishers see what their competitors are doing. Librarians see the new titles due out and how the publisher is trying to sell them.

But enough babble. What's at stake here is my reputation. Can you trust me even if I'm fed cookies at a presentation? Yes. I can meet an author, talk to an editor, look at an ARC, and still not like a book if it's bad. That's the long and short of it. I know plenty of charming writers, but charm doesn't last when the person's not around. Words written on paper does. And if those words are poorly organized, that's all that matters. So I tell you what. I'll make a concession here. If B.E.M. is right about one thing it's that if I'm going to a publisher's house and looking at their etchings (so to speak) I shouldn't go drooling all over them in a public forum. Especially if I'm going to turn around and sock them in the jaw the next day. I'll make a deal with you. I'm still going to the parties, but I'll suck all the personality out of my pieces. No more will you have descriptions of shoes, cute editors, or colorful shirts. Zippo mentions of food or lighting, or that undefinable smell that surrounds the authorial speaker. None of that. It's in the past. Instead, a rote categorization (with as much personality as I can decently allow) of their upcoming season. That's it. No more. No less.

For other interesting topics, including whether or not blog tours are just extensions of publishers' far-reaching marketing arm and establishing kidlit blog standards, go to Roger's piece and read the comments.

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55 Comments:

At 12:24 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

Fuse: Just sending you some love, my friend.

And could you please leave in the food, the lighting, the shoes, the smells? Where else can we get it from? You're there! You're in the mix! We want it from you.

Keep on writin'

 
At 12:34 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Nope. Food out. Shoes out. Smells... smells uncertain. NO! I must be strong. Smells are out. Lists. We'll have lists and straightforward accountings of the upcoming titles and that is IT!

Thank you for the love, Kelly m'dear.

 
At 12:42 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

NOOOOOOOOO....

We in Iowa rely on shoe reports. Otherwise it would be all crocs all the time around here. (I must make clear to all my critics right here right now--a croc has never touched my feet. Even though I live in the Midwest. Even if a publisher sends me some crocs with an ARC, I'll toss 'em in the trash. With NO REVIEW.)

Good lord. I've got to go to bed. Keep telling it strong, Fuse.

 
At 12:45 AM , Anonymous Diane said...

Look forward to your just 'lists' then:)

BlueRectangle Books

 
At 1:32 AM , Anonymous Jen Robinson said...

Betsy, I don't think that anyone who has ever read your blog could seriously think that you are influenced by the cookies. And I think that you make an excellent point that the people who don't want to read about the publisher parties don't have to read your blog. I say, don't give in to pressure from people which may, in fact, be sour grapes regarding not having your winning personality.

 
At 2:10 AM , Anonymous Emmaco said...

I submit another plea for the food and other descriptions to be saved. I love reading about the publisher's parties, book launches and kidlit gatherings! They're an interesting addition to the kidlit blogging world.

I can't see what's wrong with socking a publisher in the jaw after regaling us with descriptions of their choice of nibblies and the presenter's sweet shoes.

 
At 2:29 AM , Blogger Elaine Magliaro said...

Fuse,

I've just begun work on a picture book expose of reviewers in the kidlitosphere who indulge in pastries and other tasty edibles provided by children's book publishers. It will be called IF YOU GIVE A BLOGGER A COOKIE. Would you care to pose for the picture on the dust jacket?

 
At 3:34 AM , Blogger Natalie said...

Aw, Fuse...don't let one disgruntled commenter ruin the vicarious fun of the rest of us! If I weren't an ocean away, I'd show up in front of your library with picket signs that read: Bring back the shoes! The smells! The chocolate chip cookies!

In lieu of the signs, let me just say I appreciate the fact that your reviews include both what works for you and what doesn't, from pacing to plot to cover art. And not only do you say if you like/don't like something, but you say why, sans slamming.

Many times you've mentioned being excited to get a particular book into the hands of a child, which speaks volumes (pun intended) about where your motivation lies.

 
At 7:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My POV: I don't doubt that many bloggers can review a particular book objectively even if they have met the charming author and/or accepted cookies from the publisher. What gives me pause is the limited range of their reviews. If the blog is dominated by books presented at soirees or which are being reviewed on associate blogs, I do doubt that the blogger is really so insightful or diligent about finding the overlooked books...which is what many bloggers say their aim is. If bloggers want street cred, go get it. Bloggers often cry foul when people respond to their postings. "Go somewhere else and read!" But bloggers seek an audience by the nature of their format.
-T.U.

 
At 8:02 AM , Blogger Roger Sutton said...

Fuse, you are always a good sport. But you are being too nice to ALSC. If you are married (married, that is; no one is being called on to give up the occasional hot quickie) to that hot stud at Random House with the fabulous shoes, you can't serve on the award committees. That's a done deal, no longer in discussion.

But you can blog, and I can review, and we can both stuff those cookies down until we're gasping for a drink--and we can accept those, too. Just where are ALSC's priorities? Are they just . . . anti-marriage???

 
At 8:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because I have size eleven feet (and hammertoes, to boot), the shoe report leaves me dazed and confused. I’m on dialup, so the you-tube clips are hopeless. I’m too fat to eat cookies, and the hot men o’kiddie lit all seem to be young enough to be my sons; my primal urges tend more toward clucking (tuck in your shirt, dammit!) than swooning.

On the other hand, check out the review for Celeste’s Harlem Renaisssance, wherein Fusie questions the kid-friendliness of 279-page historical fiction, no matter how well written, and points out a couple of problems with the structure of the story. No name-calling, no nicey-nice (nor baddy-bad); just a constructive, thoughtful review done in a sprightly style with a soupcon of verve and a bit o’dash.

This is why I followed Fusie from Amazon to her blog. Because her reviews are truthful. They hold the story, narrative, themes and characters up to the light; her reviews concentrate on the merits of the book in front of her. And much like the Hokey-Pokey, that's what it's all about.

Not even Random House has enough cookies to corrupt our Mme. Fuse. She is that rare gem--a trust-worthy reviewer.


Z
www.lindazinnen.com

 
At 8:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A case of sour grapes.

Some reviewers are known for making inappropriate jokes to those they review kindly regarding what they may owe him. While all in jest, the fact that they are not punched in the face after his comments is due to their position at critical journals.

Reviewers are paid attention to because of their positions, not the lucidity of their thought.

Bloggers’ power is based on how many people will bother to even read their thoughts.

Perhaps you have gotten too big for your britches for those who depend on fear for kindness.

 
At 8:47 AM , Anonymous eisha said...

Fuse, no. No no no. This is just wrong. Don't leave out the food and shoes. It's part of who you are and how you write, and it's why your blog is the one everyone wants to take to prom in our interviews. You have the whole package: insightful, informative reviews; timely bits of kidlit news; interviews; and yes, those fabulously fun descriptions of book launch parties that most of us love to read. We get a vicarious NYC Librarian experience, we get to imagine ourselves there, eating brownies and gazing at cover art... leave out the non-booky details, and it's just not as fun. And not as Fuse.

 
At 9:01 AM , Blogger MotherReader said...

One anonymous commenter's thoughts shouldn't change the way you live your life or write your blog. The more popular your blog gets, the more you will be attacked. Take this as a opportunity to brace yourself for that, not to be crushed by it. It's fine to look at what you're doing, but don't let one person you don't even know, define you or your writing.

 
At 9:16 AM , Anonymous Sergio said...

Publishers should serve bad cookies and wear ugly shoes at book parties.

 
At 9:24 AM , Anonymous jules said...

Someone wrote:

"On the other hand, check out the review for Celeste’s Harlem Renaisssance, wherein Fusie questions the kid-friendliness of 279-page historical fiction, no matter how well written, and points out a couple of problems with the structure of the story. No name-calling, no nicey-nice (nor baddy-bad); just a constructive, thoughtful review done in a sprightly style with a soupcon of verve and a bit o’dash."

I think Roger's brought up some great points, but his main point was our ability as bloggers to remain objective when reviewing -- to separate the author from the work, to evaluate the work on its own merit . . . the ability to do that even if we've been given a cookie.

And, so I agree here with what this person has said. I don't really care about footwear (though I love the personality that comes through your writing, Fuse), but the reason I return to this site is your thoughtful, detailed reviewing. I'm sorry, they're the best. You cover it all with a very critical eye. And the personality that seeps through makes it even more enjoyable to read.

It's all about trust, and a reader can determine your trustworthiness through your reviews. And they are just top-notch.

Jules at 7-Imp, currently wearing no shoes and still in PJs

 
At 9:45 AM , Blogger daphne grab said...

Another plea to keep in the smells, foods and shoes- they are so fun! I've always loved your reviews- you've turned me onto a ton of new authors and I'm so thankful for that. Please don't let this change your super awesome blog- it's perfect as is.

Daphne

 
At 9:48 AM , Anonymous Colleen Cook said...

Ack! Leave out the chitchat summaries, the cupcake reveling, the shoe highlights? How can a struggling Midwestern writer imagine herself in the publishing world without these gems? The world suddenly looks grayer...

don't change a thing, BB.

 
At 9:56 AM , Anonymous Chris said...

"Between every reviewer and reader there is an essential level of trust."
This is "THE CODE". We cannot be bought. Those that do not practice it, may not understand it.

 
At 10:22 AM , Blogger Roger Sutton said...

Why is it that it's always the Anonymouses who threaten physical violence when they can't even keep their clinches on their pronouns?

 
At 10:31 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

People are very nice. Thank you, people. People also seem to like shoes. This is good.

First, let me respond to T.U.'s discussion of limited range. As it stands, some of my reviews come from books sent to me, but many are books that I've filched from my boss's office, been recommended by fellow librarians/teachers, or just managed to locate after reading reviews on blogs/in professional journals. I agree that if all you ever review comes from what you are sent then you're in a pretty sticky position. That's why I like to mix it up a bit.

Roger's also right in that I made it sound like ALSC gives people a choice. They don't. Which is a magnificent debate right there. He's also right about the pronouns.

All in all, y'all are very supportive and sweet. Thank you. So here are my thoughts.

Cookies and shoes and smells are fine and all, and I was able to justify writing about them because I went to more than one publisher's presentation. But in that there are only so many publishers in NYC, and in that of those publishers maybe half have such presentations, it doesn't seem fair to gush over them to the extent that I do. I mean, I do think there's a point to be made here. I can't go lolling about drooling every time this happens. New deal then. IF I am going to a library presentation, I'll just concentrate on the books. But IF I am going to a book party (say the Lemony Snicket soiree held for the last book) then you will hear about shoes, smells, and food.

A compromise then.

 
At 10:36 AM , Anonymous carl in charlotte said...

Hey Fuse,

Keep on keepin' on. As eisha said, you've got the whole package. I love the chatty stuff, the NYC kidlit scene, the video Sundays, and the thoughtful reviews, but what I love most is that your whole blog reflects the personality who loves what she does and wants to share it with the whole world. You go, Fuse!

 
At 10:46 AM , Blogger Becky said...

My almost eight-year-old son is forever in your debt for the Time Spies/Candice Ransom review last fall. He's read the two you reviewed and the two published recently, and is anxiously awaiting whatever comes next. And that's not the only recommendation that's made it to our ILL or shopping lists.

You know books, you know kids, I appreciate the fact that you have a homeschool group at the library, and I enjoy your "sprightly" writing (not to mention the glimpses of the NYC I used to live in). I'm not sure about the reference to a "limited range of their reviews", but the range here couldn't be more dazzling.

But then what do I know? I'm just a hausfrau and farmer, and a Croc-knockoff wearin', home educatin' one at that!

 
At 10:52 AM , Blogger "e" said...

Need we be reminded that you and most blog reviewers are not being paid? This is not your job, it's something you choose to do because you enjoy it. With that in mind, IS there any standard you or any other blogger should be held to other than "what you think" no matter what the influences? This entire conversation has implied that certain standards must be maintained, and I don't get it.

Blogs can have a multitude of objectives. I worry that these conversations label some objectives as "impure" and that there is an attempt to put rules on what those objectives are supposed to be. Publishers, Authors, and Illustrators want to sell their books. Librarians, Teachers, and Parents want to put the "right" book into the right hands. Reviewers want to give their opinions on books for a variety of reasons. But we are all about books - creating, selling, pushing, pitching, whatever. Our motives are the same on one level, we are trying to create readers.

I visit your blog because I enjoy reading about your thoughts and experiences. And while you are in a positition to offer especially educated opinions, they are still exactly that. It is up to me, the reader, to value your opinion or not. I don't have to read your blog, but I do because I happen to really enjoy what you have to say.

Keep doing what you're doing!
e
dulemba.com

 
At 10:57 AM , Anonymous brian said...

I only wish that here and also over at RR we would stop getting disclaimers about how pure are the motives of bloggers: It’s all about the literature, the community, etc. Much truth there, I am sure, and the motives might be as pure as Dove soap (99.9%!) but to deny the ego gratification that one gets from being published (even by oneself) and from being seen and discussed is to deny human nature. It’s like that for every author who has ever sought (or created for themselves) a publisher; not for nothing do we have the term vanity press. I myself am looking forward to seeing this comment posted!

 
At 11:09 AM , Blogger Matthew said...

I just wanted to say that, in fact, Fuse slapped me in the face when I brought her cupcakes.

"How dare you!" she cried. "My reviews are not for sale! No matter how pink the frosting!" Then she pelted me with copies of Caldecott-winning books until I fled the building.

Really. She cannot be influenced, people. So don't even suggest it.

Those Caldecott books tend to be very pointy.

 
At 11:45 AM , Blogger Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I'm coming in late here, as I've just finished getting my daughter ready for school:

Fuse, I've said it before,and now I'll say it to your blogger face: Fuse #8 is a national treasure. I showed your blog to an independent toy store owner, and he said, "This is going to be my new 'Cute Overload!'"

There is legitimate criticism and then there is cattiness. I trust you to take any legitimate criticism for what its worth, and paint Anonymous' catty claws bright pink with sparkles.

Now, what about those cookies?

 
At 12:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but to deny the ego gratification...I myself am looking forward to seeing this comment posted!"

Oh man,isn't *that* the truth.

I just adore reading and (re-reading!) my own witty, insightful and profound comments in discussions like this!

Better than all the cute shoes and cookies in the world....

Z

 
At 12:06 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Brian and Matthew make very good points. The blogging? Oh so very satisfying. Horribly so. Ego? Mine's doesn't fit through doorways anymore. Cupcakes? Aw yeah. I ate 'em. I ate 'em and I loved 'em. So never ever ever take me at face value if I start some pseudo-saintish caterwalling about how I-just-do-it-for-the-children. I do it for the fun of it. Would I still do it if I got 7 hits a day? Yes, but probably not as regularly. So this very very nice collection of people saying nice things to me is satisfying, but it absolutely belies any holier-than-thou statement I might make about my purified motives. I like cupcakes. Nuff said.

 
At 12:20 PM , Anonymous Rachel H said...

Dude. You got flamed anonymously on another blog. Welcome to the Big Leagues. Heh.

So cupcakes. Seriously? How many cupcakes would it take to get you to revisit the issue of my becoming your older, less literary sister? I come complete with 6 year old boy who would be entirely yours to guide through literature. And not just for the free babysitting.

 
At 12:35 PM , Blogger Jennifer Schultz said...

The greatest and most significant impact on your professional reputation stems from your work with NYPL staff and NYPL patrons. That is where your actions and work reflect the most on your professional reputation.

When you serve on committees, your work there also has significant impacts on your professional relationship, but not as much as your daily interactions within the greater NYPL community. When you do good work, this enhances your professional relationship with committee members and also with your system's staff.

As your blog readership increases, this also increases the chance that someone will find your blog and find fault with you, for whatever reason they have. It also increases the chance that someone will say something about you that they might not say to your face. It's easier to do this when the other person doesn't have to identify himself/herself.

The Internet has allowed people to "talk" with people whom they might never have met. It has also allowed people to say some things that they might not ordinarily say to another person's face. Commenting on people's blogs is great and fun, but it's not normal human communication. Normal human communication forces you to stand in front of someone, and in our culture, look that person in the eye when you are speaking to him/her. Normal human communication involves tone of voice, stance, and facial expressions. Blog comments allow you to do nothing like this. There will never be an emoticon that can get this across.

I understand that finding a comment that, for all intents and purposes, insinuates negative things about your reputation is not something you look forward to.

Whose opinion of your professional reputation matters the most to you, personally and professionally?

Your supervisor?

Your colleagues at NYPL?

Your patrons?

Fellow committee members?

An anonymous comment on another blog?

OK. Maybe you are thinking that if one person thinks negatively of your professionalism, than there may be others who do so. Well, maybe so. That's the price of having a bigger readership. That's the way the cookie crumbles, so to speak.

Do you know you do good work?

Does your supervisor know you do good work?

Do your colleagues know you do good work?

Do your patrons seemed pleased with your assistance and the programs you present?

Do your fellow committee members know you do good work, that you pull your weight, and that you take seriously your committee duties?

When you review/write for professional journals, are the editors satisfied with your work?

If so, then what a few people out there in the great unknown think of you based on your blog, and only your blog, pales greatly in comparison. It is not fun. I can empathize with you there. It is definitely unpleasant. But hang in there.

I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new. It's just a gentle (I hope) reminder of who and what is more important regarding your professional reputation.

And just in case:

:-)

;-)

 
At 12:52 PM , Anonymous Olly said...

Oh, yikes.

In the end, for me, anyway, it comes down to this:

The kids I work with don't go around looking for stars or stickers. They look for "their" book, the book that may not be the best by critical standards, but means the world and beyond to them.

Reading a blog by a children's librarian, who knows her stuff, and, most importantly, her patrons, is tremendously helpful in selecting materials for my readers. It's not always about the big awards or the glowing reviews--how many Newbury winners are sitting on your shelves right now? How many times have you heard, "I know I'm supposed to like it but...it's so boring!"

My kids want to read.

And I want to help them.

So I seek out books in various places.

And I love, love, love this one.

 
At 1:05 PM , Anonymous Carl in Charlotte said...

Here's a couple of thoughts about this whole blogosphere/criticsm debate:
1. The blogosphere reminds of the time from roughly 1500--to end of the Revolutionary War, when the printing press was new and mass publication was the hot new thing. Suddenly, mass communication was possible and anyone with access to a printing press could make his/her thoughts known. Ideas were spread mostly through pamphlets and tracts--in fact, there were several "pamphlet wars" between various thinkers and personalities. Some of them were cheap shots, some were diatribes, some worthless, and some (like Luther and Paine) changed history. Eventually, during the 19th and 20th centuries and the mass availability of books, the need for criticism arose and so literary journals came about so that literary reviews and discussion could be held, especailly by knowledgeable people and not quacks. I wonder if the same thing will happen to the blogospher?
2. This question of whether or not criticism can take place in an atmosphere in which any one with a laptop can post a review represents the poalrized thinking of our age. Of course anybody with a computer can post reviews--but there will always be those who know what they're talking about (such as you, good Fuse) and those who don't. The people who care about good books will read the quality sites and leave the rest alone.
There. Had my intellectual say for the day. Now let me go get a burger and read a good escapist sci-fi.

 
At 2:18 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Keep it real, Fuse. We regulars know you're the real deal, and some silly spiteful person isn't going to change that - clearly, B.E.M. doesn't have appreciation for fabulous footwear and good food. The rest of us, though, MUST see the picture of Victoria's gorgeous animal print 3-inch heels.

And those who aren't going to these publishers' events don't know what happens there. I gladly accepted a cookie at Little, Brown and then promptly turned around and told an editor I loathed the cover of his book. We're no one's fool!

Puh-leez. I'm annoyed this has become an issue for you. Rock on, Fuse.

 
At 2:21 PM , Blogger Mitali Perkins said...

This discussion might be related to the presence of "voice" on a good blog, which is what this one has and what collaborative review sources like the Horn Book lack. Roger's blog, of course, has voice, and that's why we like it. The best blogs are chock full of the writer's personality and hospitable to the rest of us, no matter how odd or eccentric we turn out to be.

Sounds like the anonymice are trying to nibble away at Fuse's voice. Wait till she pens that witty, steamy blockbuster about a young librarian in Manhattan. That'll show them.

 
At 2:47 PM , Blogger Lady S. said...

Little late to the party, and only bringing stale (already-been-said) cookies, but still.

This is your blog. Anyone reading it does so because they want to - and that's likely because they've done so before and like what they've read. If you talk about books you read AND authors you meet AND the publishing world surrounding them, that's what they like. This isn't a review publication and (as is made even more obvious from all the comments) the vast majority of people understand that and like what they find here. The very few who don't? Well, there are always going to be some people who just can't read very well - despite the best efforts of librarians, teachers and book-lovers of all sorts. Hopefully you won't change what you're doing because of the incomprehension (and begrudgery) of a very small majority.

 
At 2:53 PM , Anonymous elizabeth fama said...

Hey, does Mitali know something about your writing life that we don't?!

 
At 3:19 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Mitali does.

 
At 3:19 PM , Blogger celerysoda said...

Possibly everyone has said all there is to say, but...

I have never understood the mentality that bloggers must be trustworthy or responsible or comply with rules or meet standards. Isn't that the whole point? Anyone can write a blog and can say whatever they want. Whether anyone will read it is another question entirely.

No matter how many readers a blog has, it's just one person's take on the world. If you *did* write glowing book reviews of mediocre books in exchange for cookies, sure it would be sleazy, but so what? Your readers, if they had any brains, would stop reading your blog and maybe tell their friends. End of story.

My take is that bloggers only have an obligation to their readers insofar as they want to earn their readers' continuing respect. So far you're doing just fine in my book.

 
At 3:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have never understood the mentality that bloggers must be trustworthy or responsible or comply with rules or meet standards."

You're right, of course. Blog away, me hearties, about cookies, shoes and adorable men.

HOWEVER---if you're going to review books---review 'em, not blog 'em, there's a crucial difference---then yeah, there are standards, worst luck.

And congratulations on the writing, Fuse. Well done!

Z
www.lindazinnen.com

 
At 5:48 PM , Blogger Sheila said...

I think everything has already been said that could possibly be said, but I wanted to add to the chorus pleading you to keep describing those delicious New York parties, shoes and all. Those of us far from the Land of Oz love to read about it and indulge in a little vicarious fantasy.

Love the blog, love your voice: don't change a thing. Keep on keepin' on.

 
At 6:30 PM , Anonymous rhubarb said...

First, I love the blog AS IS, and have to chime in as one more person who wants shoe descriptions continued as well as, when you deem needed, additional shoe photo reference. And for the record, I never got the impression that your reviews were tainted by hors d'oeuvers payoffs.

Will you change? Putting out something that no one will criticize is probably impossible anyway, but the idea of a watered down Fuse #8 is bleak. I'd rather go to Dickens World!

 
At 7:08 PM , Blogger Heidi Estrin said...

All the insightful comments have been made already, and I completely agree with all of them. I am shocked that anyone would try to rain on Fuse's parade.

I am posting this comment to plead the case of the cookies. I really could care less about shoes, but please continue your descriptions of the food!

 
At 8:41 PM , Blogger zee said...

So, here I am. I just posted a comment on Roger's blog that I hope you all will read because it certainly made me chuckle. But I reserve the right to choose the material I post on my blog. If I want to keep readers, I have a responsibilitly to make it entertaining and credible. But isn't the point and joy of having a blog that it is your very own little corner of the world to do with as you please. Fuse, be you, or you won't be you, and then who knows, oh what, what will we do?

We love you Fusie
oh yes we do
your cookies make us drool
your book review too
we love your videos
on sunday youtube!
Oh Fusie, we love you.

 
At 8:55 PM , Blogger joannan said...

Your publisher party reviews are some of my favorite posts on your blog. While I've not been to a party on quite the scale of some of yours, I have been wined and dined by publishers...and have loved every insane minute of it. It's a glimpse into our version of celebrity culture and I, for one (or actually many from reading these comments), think they are wonderfully fun.

 
At 10:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, you don't write enough about publisher parties. You ARE coming to Washington, DC for ALA, aren't you? And going to parties? and telling us all about them?

I always send long e-mails back to my library branch staff describing my day(s) adventures at ALA. And I"m beginning to think that starting up a blog would save me e-mail space on my e-mail.

(I save too many e-mails in my library mailbox, so my e-mail is always full to overflowing.) so, I'm tempted. But when I can't get to ALA, I love to read the adventures that others have.

Scholastic parties have been a blast! Who else would have a publisher's party at the F.A.O. Swartz toy store in Chicago? A carnival on the lakeside at Toronto? Tell us what they're planning for D.C.? The only Scholastic invitation I have so far is a breakfast.

more, more, not less.

-librarian, writer, mom

 
At 10:59 PM , Blogger gloria estefan said...

Welcome to the Dunce-cap-club Fuse! I love your posts so please don't stop. I wouldn't go to a blog if it was all just book reviews--Relevant and important? Of course. Exciting? Not always. I like a mix! Please continue to dish it out. So you told some insider stuff about getting free cookies and whatnot… that’s not a reason for someone to whine about it on another blog. You know how I feel about telling it like it is! Keep doing it. You are still 100% trusted and respected in my book. You have a passion for children's books and it's so refreshing to see that! The world needs waaaay more children's librarians such as yourself. So please don't refrain from posting what's on your mind. I also love the posts that have nothing to do with books such as the weird alien fish and that Mr. Toast guy. You rock!

meghan

 
At 11:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say - ROCK ON, Fuse, I love your blog as is. Punto.

 
At 11:40 PM , Blogger Alkelda the Gleeful said...

One more thing-- I'm always incredulous when someone complains about the alleged privileges librarians receive. My mom (also a children's librarian) would say, "Muzzle not the ox that troddeth out the grain." Anyone who begrudges a few blessings to a librarian or anyone else who works like a dog to serve the public is probably not feeling appreciated enough herself.

 
At 12:21 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Wow.
I'm overwhelmed. Overwhelmed and more than a little humbled by all this. I think the ox metaphor tipped the scales. You really want shoes? All right. Shoes you shall have. Shoes, smells, and macaroni & cheese in teeny tiny ramekins. I'll not change one JOT! Ha ha!

Yep. I'll be in D.C. this year. But as my husband owns the laptop and he needs it to make money, I may or may not be able to blog much about what I see. We'll figure something out before then, I suppose.

Meanwhile, there's a Spiderwick party coming up before then in May.

Thanks so much, all of you, for writing. Really. I mean it. Thank you.

 
At 3:42 AM , Blogger Gregory K. said...

Fuse -- I resurface after a week of barely reading and find this? Typical of today's political dialogue, the good points made here and on Roger's blog get lost in the wind. The bottom line is this: you've earned your credibility and readership. You make no bones about what you offer, and what you offer is delivered with style and verve. You write intelligent reviews and your track record is there for everyone to see. When folks judge you on THAT and not on perceptions, then it's worth concern. But don't let the noise of the conversation distract you from any signal.

And for the record, I will gladly host any shoe observations on my blog, if you'd rather not put them here.

 
At 9:43 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

It was suggested to me yesterday that I even the playing field by simply having a Hot Shoes of Children's Literature series. I'm horribly tempted by the idea.

 
At 10:09 PM , Blogger Brooke said...

Whoa.

Dude.

Would anybody in the kidlit world be allowed to submit pictures of their hot shoes? 'Cuz it'd be nice to have a ligit reason to purchase the extra-chunky tortoiseshell heels. Or Very Pointy Slingbacks. Or something very Wicked Witch of the West-y.

(Hmm. I read down this far, and that's all I can think of to say. Time for bed.)

 
At 11:04 PM , Blogger Kyra said...

What a debate! Please don't change! I enjoy the variety of posts and reading your insights into the parties, reviews, and more. However, if party shoes are out - maybe a glimpse into hairstyles?

Best, Kyra
author... and quilter... and blogger

 
At 12:38 AM , Blogger Jenny Han said...

Fuse, you rock. 'Nuff said.

 

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