Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do?

Today is a tad of a touchy subject, but in this New year, I want everyone to have a the greatest gift any of us can have…peace. Bullies, in my opinion, are among the lowest known existing lifeforms. I wouldn’t want to insult cockroaches and fleas by drawing a comparison.

Kristen’s History With Bullies

I grew up most of my life being bullied. I switched schools at least once a year and there was always a new gaggle of Mean Girls to make my daily life a veritable hell. I think this is why I grew to love books. I skipped school so much (to seek sanctuary at the public library), that I’m fairly certain I’m the reason for the current Texas truancy laws.

I couldn’t get out of bed. I became ill at the thought of even walking through the front doors of my school. I was poor and these girls in their designer clothes who drove their BMWs to school took great joy in throwing away what little clothing I had when I was at soccer practice. To this day, my ankles are pretty much destroyed because I have very narrow feet to fit.

These bullies stole my expensive Nike cleats that provided proper support, and threw them away. I was ashamed to tell my grandparents what really happened and pointed to the cheap $20 shoes that were far too wide (I have AAA feet). That earned me a massive third-degree sprain and four months on crutches. My ankle has never been the same.

I never really dated. I remember there was a boy (popular, of course) who I had a crush on when I was 15. He kept asking me out, but I knew I was being played. Finally, he seemed so intent and sincere that he did like me, I finally went against my gut and agreed to the date. He was supposed to come pick me up at 6:30 to go to a movie. I dressed up in one of the few nice outfits I had…and waited. 6:30 became 7:30 which became 8:30 and at 9:00 I gave up. I went to bed, then realized what day it was…April Fools.

I cried all night.

The next day theses kids gathered in the halls to laugh and point at me, throw wads of paper at me. They jeered that I thought I was so smart but stupid enough to believe this super popular boy would want to date a piece of trash like me.

I was never mean to anyone. I was oddly quiet, alone and read most of the time. Yet, I was a never-ending target for hatred I didn’t understand. When I went to the school officials, they ignored me. “Girls will be girls.” “Kids will be kids.” I know people love teachers, but my teachers only patted me on the head and benevolently tossed me back to the wolves. They gave “great advice” like ignore them, but it only seemed to fuel even more hate.

No one dared be me friend, and I couldn’t blame really them. They didn’t want to be added to the blast radius.

Bullies Don’t Stay in High School

I’d like to say bullies went away. I worked nights and never talked to anyone on college once I broke my back and lost the one refuge I’d ever had, AFROTC. I made it through the final four years of college never having friends aside from my professors. I had terrible social anxiety.

When I graduated and joined the workplace, I soon discovered bullies just grow older and more cruel. I’m certain Human Resources must have some hidden rule that they must hire at least one tireless jerk to torment their fellow workers.

Yes, part of why I left sales was my health. I threw up on the way to work every day. Why? A bully. She ruled the office and everyone feared her. She’d even once assaulted someone at the copy machine. I was responsible for a 2.5 million dollar quota and this person would make sure my orders were “accidentally” sent to the wrong place, my samples would get “lost in the mail” and important documents would disappear.

I kept having to change the lock on my office because this person thought nothing of helping herself to my personal belongings. One time, I’d worked months on a detailed presentation I had to give at the national meeting. I went to lunch and forgot to lock my office. She deleted the entire thing (though there was no proving it, of course).

Seven weeks of work had to be redone in 24 hours.

We had a major contract that came open. Business we’d had for a couple decades was being offered to our competition. I drove to Mississippi once a week for months to ensure we maintained the contract and won the bid. Finally, I got the green because they liked me. All I had to do was send the samples to a certain location. The office bully deliberately mailed them to the wrong address (yes, she was the only one with the power to send out products). I have no idea how many people lost their jobs because we lost this major contract, and I was the salesperson so the blame was square on me.

And there was NO getting rid of her. I went to my boss, to the plant manager, to Human Resources and they acted as if I was just being sensitive. I left. She won. The factory closed. But what kind of person is willing to go to such extremes to hurt ONE person, that she takes out the jobs of others and then even her own? Why would a company tolerate this?

I’ve never found a satisfying answer.

I think that’s one of the reasons I have been so tireless when it comes to building the WANA Community. I spent so much of my life alone, lonely, afraid and I never wanted anyone to feel the way I had for so long.

Brave New Bullying 

Now we live in a Digital Age and bullies abound. The Internet gives them access to torment us 24-7 no matter where we go. I was so thrilled the day I was asked to blog for Huffington, yet unlike here, I have no control over the tone of the comments. There are people who are simply made of spite and hate and they will take it out from the safety of a computer behind the anonymity afforded by monikers. Now when I post, I simply scan and, if anything is hateful in tone? I won’t even read it.

Sad to say, this is why I don’t read reviews before buying any book. There are too many sock puppets and trolls. Goodreads and Amazon are RIFE with bullying. I’ve had friends bullied on blogs and even once had someone start a hate blog directed toward me, “Kristen Lamb The Face of Misandry” which is “Man-hating”, btw. I had to look it up.

It’s sad to say, but when researching for this topic, it seemed most of the information was for kids, schools and teens. But bullies never go away. They often can’t be stopped, but maybe we can make it tougher for them to spread their cruelty.

What To Do

Be YOU—Don’t Let Bullies Steal Your Peace or Your Book Sales

First of all, use the name printed on your books. A moniker or a pen name won’t stop the hate. It’s still you. If someone called me names and ruthlessly attacked my character it wouldn’t matter if it was Kristen Lamb’s Blog or Penelope Fluffernutter’s Blog. It’s still me behind the computer. When we try to hide behind a moniker to protect against the inevitable, all we do is make it harder to sell books. The bullies win. They can steal your peace and maybe even success.

When we get off the Internet because of these cretins, they win. It’s a “blaming the victim” mentality. If your skirt wasn’t so short blog wasn’t there, you wouldn’t be raped harassed by trolls. This is why I DO recommend a WP based site. There is this marvelous TRASH function.

Illegitimi non carborundum…

Keep Records

If you get hateful, threatening messages take screenshots. Save e-mails. If the troll is motivated enough they can easily slip into an area that can give you power legally. But, proof is what will help your case.

Manage Your Blog

I don’t allow hate. I am always open for respectful disagreement, but if someone gets out of control? I delete their comments. People need to feel safe to comment on my blog (and yours), and bullies will shred the fabric of your community. It’s our job to keep them in check. Set boundaries and refuse to tolerate abuse.

Stand Up for Friends

If you have a writer friend who’s being bullied, gather together and, when Amazon asks if a review is helpful? Click NO. The WANA Community is massive. Let us know. We are happy to stick up for you, and a troll might be able to harass one or two pals who come to your aid, but a few thousand is a tougher challenge.

Report and Block

Report abusers on Facebook. The guy who started the hate blog about me wasn’t just harassing me, he was harassing all my friends who commented on my wall. He was PSYCHO. I went to Facebook and had him banned. I blocked his comments and profile (until FB could take it down).


Don’t feed the trolls. Negative attention is still attention. Often trolls will leave seething comments to upset people SO much that they HAVE to go to their blog/website to see WHO this JERK IS. It’s the only way they can get hits and comments and they feed on negativity. Starve them.

Hire a Professional

If you’re worried about your safety or your family’s safety because someone has gone THAT nutso? Contact Jay Donovan at TechSurgeons. Jay is an amazing human being, a tireless champion for writers and he IS The Digital Dark Knight. He’s a computer genius who can have said troll chasing his own @$$ down a hole of frustrated nothing. There are ways to protect yourself digitally and Jay is a master of security. Even if you want to take some preventative measures, talk to Jay.

Many of you know I am NOT a fan of pen names. What you may not understand is I’m not a fan of pen names, because a different name alone isn’t enough. Worse, it can provide a false sense of security. Writers are locking the screen door thinking that’s going to keep out the motivated ax murderer.

There are sound reasons for having a pen name. I advise against it most of the time because friends, schoolmates and family can be powerful mouthpieces and very helpful. A pen name limits how much of that energy we can harness and dilutes focus. BUT, if you DO need a pen name for safety, security, etc. TALK TO JAY. Again, a different name alone isn’t enough. An eight-year-old with decent Google skills can find who you are without the skills of someone like Jay helping you.

Speak Up

I don’t know if this is helpful, but it is a start and I signed it. It’s a petition to Goodreads to monitor and have a Code of Conduct for reviews. I hate to say it, but if Goodreads doesn’t start protecting writers from abuse, then we can remove our books. Don’t think they would last long with no authors and, since Amazon owns them, they might be more inclined to listen.

In the end, trolls (sad to say) are often a sign we are doing something right. Get ten trolls and I think we are officially a celebrity. Learn to un-see. Focus on those who love you. Join our WANA Community (WANA stands for We Are Not Alone, information here). We are a great refuge and support system. You can join us on Twitter at#MyWANA, on Facebook or even WANATribe (a social network for creatives). I have ZERO tolerance for trolls and have smiting powers.

I know it can feel very defeating sometimes, but a great circle of loving friends who have your back is a great start. Refuse to feed the trolls your peace, success and happiness. They exist, but together we are stronger.

What about you? Have you been bullied? Did you find any tactics that were effective? I am no expert, so I would LOVE any suggestions.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

Will announce December’s winners Monday. I have a lot to go through. Good problem :D.

I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!


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  1. I have never understood the thought processes of bullies. Somehow they have this need to prove they are better somehow then everyone else around them. Sad really. Your post came to my attention as I was re-reading my own poetic rant about bullies (
    A different sort of bullying – but somehow the same never ending cycle

  2. Bullies are something that I wish had expired with tube socks. I will never forget this boy that I liked in elementary school who flushed a letter I had written him down the toilet in front of the whole school – he was such a jerk! As a mother, it’s something that I worry about all the time for my daughter who is supposed to start school this coming year – ugh!

    Like you, I was really surprised to enter the world of “professionals” and discover that bullies not only survived school, but seemed to thrive in the business world. What is that about?

  3. Nice piece. I think the chiefest point of emphasis should be ‘Don’t Engage!’. The writing life (any artistic life) is going to net in both praise and criticism, some of it much less sophisticated or constructive than the rest, to be sure. I’ve found thick skin to be the only sane way to live with it. I’d add don’t let them steal your time, either. The anonymity of the internet makes many people bravely obnoxious but very little more than that, the number of real dangers or worthwhile trolls nearly zero. The less time wasted on the trolls the better.

  4. Your experiences during school/college echo my own, i was bullied pretty harshly during high school in particular. I was lucky in that i had good friends to go to, but it’s a true shame that others suffer in this way. Nobody should go through that, for any reason. Bullying is unforgivable.

  5. This is happening to me right now and although I’m sure it’s because of a a recent breakup with my boyfriend, I am humiliated by the things being said about me on my public Facebook page. I just unpublished the page, but I am trying so hard to build an author platform that now I’m worried that I will hurt my career even worse if I’m not on all the social media sites. Thank you so much for this post. It came at a perfect time for me.

    1. You should be able to delete things on your page that you don’t want there. And you certainly could report the person to Facebook for possible banning. Save the harassing posts and send them in a file to the “report spam or abuse” link that shows up in the Facebook help. Don’t delete your page… you let the bully win that way.

  6. Blog Every Day in November included a post for Anti-bullying week. Here’s a link to my take on it. It also includes links to related posts by others. Sue

  7. “I hate to say it, but if Goodreads doesn’t start protecting writers from abuse, then we can remove our books.”

    Is this true? I’ve heard of several people who wanted to remove their books from Goodreads, but were denied.

    1. Unfortunately the books themselves cannot be removed, but you might be able to remove the cover and blurb. If you do a bit of research you should be able to turn up the instructions on how to do it.

      1. The authors can certainly remove their books from Amazon (which owns Goodreads) and thus make a mark on teh platform that way. And while Amazon does have a great marketing setup, there ARE other places to sell books through.

          • Sebbie on January 17, 2014 at 8:09 am
          • Reply

          Only self published authors would be able to do that.

            • Eden on January 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

            True. Good point

  8. Kristen, my heart ached as I read the poignancy of your words. Heartbreaking that bullies resort to tactics that ultimately reveal their own insecurities.

    I’m so sorry for the trampling of your kind spirit and tender heart. Thank you for the transparency of this outstanding post and for your continued commitment to writers.

    Blessed by your tenacity!

  9. I, too, have experienced bullying – to the point of losing a job. My husband works in Human Resources as a consultant. His main area is workplace harassment investigations. In Canada we now have laws that make it mandatory for employers to follow up on complaints and investigate them, usually through an outside consultant. The situations he encounters make me wonder how many of us actually grow up. Until we, as a society, speak out against bullying of all kinds – and speak out FOR the victims when we see it happening, it will not go away. Bullies create fear and fear creates silence. Silence is the weapon that gives them their power.

  10. Reblogged this on @gethinmorgan and commented:
    Awesome post. I’ve always been too introverted to get trolls, but I know the day will come. This will be the post I come running to …

  11. Thank you for a great article. Bullying when young makes you aware of when something is bullying when we are older, though strangely the professionals who presumably were never bullied but are now in charge of dealing with complaints of bullying rarely seem to recognise it. I’ve experienced the Goodreads flashmob of hate, and all I could do was replace my blog there with a feed through from my WordPress blog which, sad to say, I don’t allow any comments on at all.

  12. Thank you for the post. I do wish Amazon/Goodreads would do something about the hateful reviews.

  13. They say one in ten people has sociopathic tendencies. Crazy! But I truly believe they are the source of bullying…

    I also have a zero tolerance level for trolling/bullying/negativity toward others, both in my personal and professional life. What a waste of energy when we could be focused on better things. That being said, you’re very brave posting this, Kristen. I had a bullying post prepped and decided not to share it out of worry it would attract the very thing I talked about. How wrong is it I’m afraid to bring up something like this for fear it will be detrimental to my career? More insanity… bravo and thank you for sharing your story.

  14. Hell yes, Kristen!

    I was fortunate enough to ditch the bullies about halfway through my second year of college. But it involved cutting out an entire social circle and leaving behind friends, who I would love to catch up with to this day, who wanted to remain a part of it. Those few I have gotten back in touch with all say I did the right thing by getting out when I did.

    Even today, I have insecurities when it comes to friendships. I’m sensitive to negative comments, even joking ones, and I often have doubts that my friends really want me around. It’s difficult to explain, and it’s all in me, not something anyone else necessarily does.

    Bullies are vile. That they exist in school and college is a terrible thing. For them to continue to exist in the workplace is unforgiveable. I’ve trained in management and workplace bullying is a serious issue. Any employer worth the name wouldn’t let that sort of thing continue.

    • nightsmusic on January 2, 2014 at 11:28 am
    • Reply

    I was bullied on and off during grade school and Jr. High. Most by one boy who is probably to this day still bullying people right and left. When he moved in High School, the bullying stopped, I was able to crawl out of my shell and life went on. But it never really stops. I commented on a news article the other day and someone took it upon himself to bully me, pointing out how stupid I am, how he’d never want to be taken care of in hospital by me, blah, blah, blah, all the while throwing his PHD in my face.

    Unfortunately, I got sucked in to the whole thing and I think that’s a huge problem we all have. Rather than walk away, we comment back and it opens a can of worms. I finally ‘woke up’ enough that I yawned and told him how bored I’d become with the whole thing. Then I quit answering him since it was pointless. Of course, he had to have the last word, but it was a stupid, ridiculous, wasted hour of my life I’ll never get back. And he’ll move on to bully someone else.

    No, they never go away. They grow up, they often become more sophisticated in their methods (sometimes not, as in your case) but they never go away.

    And then you have the Skidmore, MO thing and you try not to cheer for the town…

  15. I don’t often comment here but I wanted to say this is brilliant, well-thought-out advice. I was bullied at school, and it almost led to suicide. I ran away from school at 13 but it made little difference. As an adult I had a bullying boss at work that got to me to such an extent that I started toying with stepping in front of a bus on my way to work so I had a valid excuse not to go. She was sacked, in the end, but the damage was done.
    I’ve never dared use Goodreads, either as a reader or as an author, because all my spider senses start screaming at me to get away. I’ve always thought that if a person’s writing has something to it, it will push buttons, and so far have been lucky to just have a few unkind reviews around but nothing worse. So far. The book I hope to release this year will push a few large red buttons and I may regret it but I feel that ought not to stop me.
    Bullies need to be fought, so thank you for this.

  16. So sad, but true. It’s amazing what can happen when just one person stands up for someone being bullied.

  17. Kristen, my heart hurt as I read this post….bullies are the lowest form of life and we are dealing with the issue personally in our family right now. You are right, though, about teachers….they keep patting us on the head and telling us to ignore it. It is so frustrating! I am a new writer and I have been considering the pen name vs. no pen name thing for quite a while. I appreciate your take on it and the advice about the internet security expert. Thanks so much.

  18. I did a post about bullying that folks might appreciate so am sharing here:

  19. Some of the people I’ve seen leaving comments on news sites have to be disturbed, bored or both. Just not normal, anyway. Remember reading in Ken Gergen’s book the contents of hate mail celebrities get, and again Brene Brown’s struggle with anonymous malice. Very strange, like those weird people in raincoats who get a kick out of shocking others. Mental.

  20. What a brave, empathetic, inspiring and helpful post, Kristen. Of course, I never expect anything less from you. WANA is a fantastic tribe. I’m so grateful I happened to trip over your blog this year. You must be crossing some seriously awesome bridges if the trolls are crawling out from beneath them in droves. Keep blazing forward, dainty feet and ankles and all. You “are not alone”. That woman who sabotaged your work/career sounds like a sociopath. I’ll never get why bullying isn’t regarded as pathology and virtuous behavior seems to be something people who protect bullies and their criminality only agree with abstractly. #MyWANA

  21. Great post with very good advice. I understand the ‘issue’ of pen names and now must step outside – away from mine. . . .

  22. Oh, Kristen, what a heartbreaking story. Thank you for sharing it, and I intend to share it myself, as I don’t think it’s just for writers but for anyone who faces such horrible treatment on an even sporadic basis. Kudos to you for not letting it define you. Happy New Year 🙂

  23. Dear Kristen, I just started a blog on motivation and self-help. It’s a peaceful place that might bring a smile on anyone’s face. At least I hope so. That’s why I am writing it. I hope it will bring joy and hope and motivation to those who are least so. Pass by! I would love to hear from you! 🙂 (I am sorry for your experience and I hope my blog will help. )

  24. I’ve never been bullied, as far as I know, but I did receive a hateful review on Goodreads one time. Frankly, it was illiterate and obviously motivated by malice, so I thought in that particular case it proved that the book was better than the reader. My editor thought it was probably part of a vendetta originating in a disagreement between publishers.

  25. Thank you for writing this. It was JUST what I needed to read at this particular point in time. I have been considering starting another blog under a fake name so I can hide. You see, I have STALKERS. Bullies who are psycho, nut-cases, that watch my blog constantly, looking for information about something which I cannot discuss, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have the information they are looking for. One of these people is a law enforcement officer, which makes it worse. He should know better.

    I went through months of harassment on an older blog as well as my website, which I have now turned dark. I was the victim of countless vile, profane, disgusting and outrageous comments done by one of these stalkers that became borderline threatening. I made screenshots of these comments that I then took to my local sheriff’s department. They were pretty horrified by the tone of these messages, yet said that unless this person(s) actually stated that they were going to shoot me, there was nothing they could do.

    It’s a horrible feeling when you don’t know from day to day if you are going to get another message. Or, just when you think they have disappeared and are leaving you alone, you discover that they are posting the link to your blog on forums for others to see.

    I am NOT CONTROVERSIAL. I post photographs of the desert, mainly. I have nothing for these people, yet they have persisted. It’s extremely stressful and I now am leery when I do travel to the desert. I have even considered buying a gun. It’s ridiculous.

    You have convinced me to NOT make another blog under a fake name. I will continue doing what I’m doing and I will follow your suggestions. Hopefully they will get a life and leave me alone.

    1. Get ahold of Jay. SERIOUSLY. He is a GIFT.

      1. I will do that. Because I want this type of behavior to stop. I don’t have what they are looking for, but because of who I know, they think I have secret information. Or…something. I have no clue. They hide behind fake IP addresses, fake names, fake everything. But I know who it is. And you are absolutely correct about not bothering to hide behind a pseudonym. It won’t work. They can and will find you. Google is positively evil in this regard.

        It is stressful, deflating and robs you of your creativity when you have mentally unbalanced people trying to shut you down. Over something that doesn’t involve you at all.

        Anyway, thank you for this post. You are doing a lot of people a huge favor!

    2. Merilee, keep a log of their comments. Especially potentially identifiable data such as IP addresses.

      And don’t let them chase you away.

      1. Thanks, Jay. I have most of the comments in a file. The sheriff said that fake IP addresses can be dealt with, so using them is rather futile for the perpetrators.

  26. sad, though I am glad you were able to rise above it.

    • Mary Jo on January 2, 2014 at 11:41 am
    • Reply

    This is a wonderful article and can be used in any environment, not just for writers. I think bullies have their own section of Hades cordoned off for them.

  27. Holy moly! Kristen, bless your heart! My heart aches for you. How awful you grew up in that atmosphere. I will never understand beating someone down just to build oneself up! I will never understand not being nice to someone. When I see your precious smile, I can’t imagine anyone bullying you.

    I’m registered at Goodreads but I don’t go near it. Too bad. I hope they institute some sort of parameters. Great post, Kristen!

    1. Yeah, I cried most of the time writing it. It might bring the trolls, but I am willing to take the risk. We need to stand up and refuse to let fear win.

      1. That’s one of the many things we love about you, Kristen; you’re willing to share your pain and be authentic, especially when it can help others. You rock!

        Oops, here I go, getting all misty now…*sniff*


        1. And amen, Kathy!

      2. Amen, Kristen! And more power to you!

    • Jenna Blue on January 2, 2014 at 11:42 am
    • Reply

    Wow, Kristen. Your bullying makes mine look like a walk in the park. I love that you continue to advocate and take charge–no matter the field. Go, girl!

  28. This post made me think of a Luna Lovegood quote: “Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else; because if it’s just you alone, you’re not as much of a threat.” Only, you know, in relation to all bullies. I think this is the perfect reason to have a strong community, like WANATribe, on your side.

    1. I just rewatched that Harry Potter movie and that line in particular really stood out.

      1. It did for me as well!

  29. Sadly, some people will act like twerps because they get a kick out of knocking others down, but brave against one is a coward against many. Rally the troops!

  30. I’ll paraphrase Sharon Shinn here. This comes to my mind when I think of you, Kristen: “Only the strongest are put through the fire…and the forge creates things of great strength and beauty.” It’s from her book “Archangel.”

    • Robin Hillyer Miles on January 2, 2014 at 11:47 am
    • Reply

    Wow. That was an intense and informative read.
    Thank you for sharing.

  31. Reblogged this on Lara McGill and commented:
    Bullying doesn’t go away, whatever age. We have to be vigilant, stand up to it, and not allow it in our world. Enough. No more. The line is drawn here.

  32. I am so sorry for your horrible experiences, I was going to give you the advice I follow which is to never read comments on sites I don’t trust. But when it’s your own site, I see why we would have to. So, now I’m worried because I am slowly making my way online with my writing. Maybe I have just not figured out how to enable comments because, other than roving men finding me from dating sites, I never get any on my Blog Or maybe a part of me has unconsciously not allowed that feature. With your advice to gird my resolve, I’ll have a look and allow them. I’m curious to find out more about what WANA is too.

    There is something I believe about bullying and I want to precede what I say with this caveat: this is only my opinion based on my own experience and so probably off base for everyone else. I have found bullies and their targets seek out each other, as sure as Bonnie and Clyde went looking for each other. As I read your searing account, I couldn’t help but wonder if your ankle ever really healed, or what had broken long before your body started to suffer. But I only wonder, not advise. I think being a target is a special gift, and that bullies often target the strongest threats, not just the weak as is the popular opinion. I’m not saying this very well. Without your experience, we wouldn’t have you here to talk to today. So there is something about the bullies who tormented you, who continue to (and no, it’s not fair) that is your special purpose.

    On your other point, I just don’t see how we’ll ever get this handled until adult bullying is acknowledged and addressed, even if only by our legal system. I have been both bully and bullied, “out there” and thankfully now firmly in the past. If I wasn’t being bullied I was bullying someone else. I’m happy to say we can evolve, and now I’ve embraced being a target and do what I can to help the bully see they can’t get to me. That has turned many bullies around to asking for forgiveness and to better behaviour. I have never Trolled that I know of, but even advice or a strong, repeated opinion keenly felt could look like Trolling…and I’ve blocked a few Trolls in my time, especially on my Facebook page.

    Ms Lamb, I’ve only just discovered your blog, I love how you write, your thoughts run along similar lines to mine, I suffered socially pretty much everywhere until I was lucky enough to get taken in by a lovely “group” in high school. In college I learned quickly to keep to myself. My college student society harboured a bully and her enablers and anyone who was a threat to her dynasty (she’s still there) was targeted, destroyed and removed socially. Complaining about it got me targeted as the bully, because she could dissemble in front of authorities as you’ve discovered.

    The only advice I’d give (seeing how you asked for it 🙂 ) is to hone in on your thought in this post on the fuel that bullies need. I believe it’s the same fuel source for we who are targeted. Maybe I’m way off on this and it’s only true for me, so forgive me for being so bold. I don’t know you, I don’t know anything about you so should mind my own business. But for all that, I really like you already just from your fun and talented blog content, so maybe in my experience is something that will help heal your poor ankle.

    P.S. I didn’t know about using a pseudonym as being thought of as safer, seems to me they find me no matter what I do, so I just went with a full reveal.

    1. I think they are scared and weak and they see something brave and strong in their victims and it fuels their hate. Jealousy. Those girls needed designer clothes and a BMW or they were nothing. Their only identity is external and beneath is a frightened soul who knows they have found no real meaning. Also, roughly 5% of the population are sociopaths. I think the number is actually higher.

      So lovely to meet you. What a brilliant and thoughtful comment. ((HUGS))

      1. I agree, I feel so sorry for them–even as I am encouraging them to dig deeper–but from a safe distance! And thank you. I’ve taken what you’ve said on this to heart, and will get a strategy in place for my online writing comments sections.

  33. Reblogged on Lara McGill.

  34. I’m sorry to hear that a lovely young lady such as yourself (along with others who’ve chimed in) was/still is the subject of bullying. The main bully I’ve had to contend with has been my first ex-wife. So I can relate to one of your previous posts about psycho-exs.
    You also make a good point that bullying isn’t confined to the K-12 Realm. To add some levity to this topic, I’d suggest “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup:

    Maybe it can be the WANA Anti-Bullying Theme Song? 🙂

    Happy New Year everyone!

  35. As I was reading this post, I started having flashbacks of my own! I too skipped school to avoid bullying. If I would have known about homeschooling back then, I would have begged my parents to let me be homeschooled. As an adult, I never experienced anything like you experienced as an adult, but I have often had to look to see if I had a note on my back saying “kick me”. I don’t understand why our society as a whole is so forgiving of bullies and so insensitive to the bullied. Thank you for speaking out! Its time the bullied stood up and said “no more!”

  36. When I was in middle school, kids used to throw rocks at me, spit in my food and throw my gym clothes in the drain. Because I’d moved around so much when I was younger, I knew that those bullies were temporary; I just had to wait them out. But when I became a working professional, the same principle didn’t apply. So I became a diligent, record-keeping loudmouth.

    A couple years ago, my backbone cost me my job. Thank goodness for that because now I write alongside outstanding colleagues at an outstanding company.

  37. Thank you for posting this!!! While I haven’t been personally bullied in YEARS… Gradeschool bullying by boys is what made me start to hate school. While it was handled much better in my school and it’s handled EVEN better in my son’s schools, it doesn’t stop the bullies. They find more creative ways to find and attack now. I never even thought about bullying through reviews and “support” groups out there!! 🙁
    Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like those things will ever really change. Bullies will just find more creative ways to get to someone that will be under the radar. 🙁
    Luckily there seems to be a lot out there to TRY to help now. There is and for cyber bullying…. all of this is on the kids level though. Doesn’t seem to be as much out there for adults and work places. Not everyone sees it outside the playground.

    • Laura Llannon on January 2, 2014 at 11:54 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been bullied most of my life as well. And you never really get over it. To this day, I’m shocked when I realize that some people actually *like* me and want to spend time with me. When I make a new friend, there is always that three second panic that sends me back to middle school, “Oh, there’s no way someone this cool could want to be my friend.”

    And thank you for providing the information about TechSurgeons. It’s good to know there’s a White Knight out there.

  38. Kristen, your experiences are heartbreaking, I’m so sorry. I’ve experienced only a small fraction of what you did, to a much lesser degree. Looking back, I wish I’d stood up for those who were bullied more often. As I grew older I did, but those earlier years of school, it’s terrifying to step in because then you’re the next target.

    For a summer, my friend and I started namecalling and making fun of a few kids who lived down the street from us who attended a Catholic school and not our public school. They never retaliated. I don’t know what made us do it, we were nice “church” kids, though the kids we harassed were even nicer and churchier, so I guess we were jealous or we thought we were cooler and used power against them. I felt so shamed when they continued to be kind. My friend and I apologized, but that sting of shame lingers even now and I’m in my 30s. Kindness and humility can be affective, though with hardcore bullies, that can only go so far.

    I’m very saddened by the hate I see online. I was called out recently on an entertainment site’s comment forum for being out of touch and elitist. I clicked on the users Disqus profile and every post was a negative personal attack against across a slew of web forums. No sense in reasoning with someone whose only intent is to power play strangers under an anonymous name.

  39. Reblogged this on Chronicles of a 40-something Former Nurse Wannabe and commented:
    Kristen eloquently expresses how to handle cyber bullying, with an emphasis on how authors may protect themselves.

  40. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. My empathy meter was off the charts and the tears did flow. I hate bullies and have always been puzzled by the eunuch-like advice doled out to those affected by those who have no clue what it’s like. I was bullied as well but was fortunate enough to have athletics to semi elevate me above the fray. It was strange to experience bullying within the poor population too, there was a hierarchy all its own there. I experienced bullying in the business world too. Trolls etc. can got to digital Hell.

    All I can say is, “Baby look at you now”! Toast of the Literary world with the best blog in the business helping so many pursue their writing dream…Sweet! Happy New Year!

  41. Excellent post, Kristen. Well said. All the best to you for 2014.

  42. Great advice. I’m sorry you had such a rough time with bullies. I fail to understand why kids would be so cruel to each other, and yes, girls can be the worst bullies. I was quiet and liked to read when I was a kid also, and I’ve had my share of having to deal with bullies, and sadly some of the worst were kids in my church youth group. I’m not on Goodreads a lot, but people on Amazon can be incredibly hateful. It’s sad they would have nothing better to do with themselves. As you said, it’s possible to disagree without being nasty about it.

  43. Great post, Kristen. I was bullied, too, both in school and at home. Even my mother gave me the “just ignore it” advice. Things got better once I got older — until, in my 40s, I got what I thought would be the perfect job. Turned out the boss was a bully. I decided I was too old to be crying at work every day, and quit after eight months. (Some of her other former employees wondered how I’d lasted that long.) Luckily, I landed another job inside of a week, and I’ve now been here 14 years — so clearly the problem wasn’t me.

    The people I really worry about are the ones who shrug off the bullying they experienced as kids by saying it built character or made them tougher. I wonder whether they’re passing on the bullying behavior.

  44. Oh, Kristin. I once read the definition of a saint is “someone who stands up and lets the people see them.” Welcome to sainthood, so defined. You bring to mind the proverb: “The fire that melts the butter hardens the egg.” It would appear that your particular trial by fire has left you one steel-spined, fearless woman. Congratulations. It is an honor to know you, even though only via blog.

  45. Wow, Kristen, what horrible experiences you’ve had…and in the workplace, too! Crazy. Being the quiet, bookish type, with a strict mother who made sure I was dressed in clothing that in no way resembled what the other kids wore, I was made fun of a lot in grade school, but not as badly as you have been.

    But it’s what kids go through these days that I find truly alarming. They are so connected to social media, which means that the bullying doesn’t stop once the victim comes home from school. There’s no refuge from it.

    Then we hear about some poor, tormented child who commits suicide because of it – egged on to do so by his/her bullies. It just breaks my heart. Do the bullies even realize the enormity of what they have done? It doesn’t always seem so. The bullies are often fiercely defended: “they are just being kids…they didn’t know what they were doing…they didn’t mean it.”

    What will they grow up to be?

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    1. Older sociopaths.

      1. We need a bully rehab program.

  46. Kristen, I’m so sorry you had to put up with the Mean Girls attacks for so long. I guess you waited until after high school to get so gorgeous! I was the short, dumpy girl with glasses in the second grade whose mom dressed her funny. My mother made every stitch of clothing I wore except for underwear and socks. I got my first “store-bought” dress when I was 12, so I never had the “cool” clothes. Fortunately, I came with a built-in assertive, impossible-to-ignore personality and a fairly significant IQ. When people would make fun of me, I would say something to them using at least one or two four-syllable words, then sail off leaving them wondering if they had been insulted (usually they had). It didn’t stop all the bullying, but they didn’t get as much enjoyment out of it.

    I really wasn’t surprised that I ran into the same thing at work. I hated working with a lot of women because, in my experience, they are responsible for about 90% of the back-stabbing at work. That may not seem fair, but I experienced it continually unless the majority of my co-workers were male. I sincerely believe jealousy is at the root of “troll behavior” – they can’t do what you can so they want to try and drag you down to their level. Good, well-written reviews will triumph over nasty, illiterate shots every time.

    So Kristen is right on the money: having friends who support you and post plenty of complimentary comments and reviews are the best ammunition against cyber-bullies! Here’s to a great support network!

  47. Wow Kristen! I can empathize to an extent. I was always well liked at almost every school until I went to 8th grade(Which was up to 9 by the time I was 13). It was the worst thing my teen heart could bare. I had my shoes peed in while I was in a P.E. class, was invited to a party that didn’t exist (so that date of yours really hit home!), was a flyer for their cheer squad and was intentionally dropped 3 different times. The last time broke my arm which was great because at that point I ditched and went home crying almost every day. Until my mom finally let me homeschool for the rest of that year. The following year she allowed me to go back to my old school that was in the next town. I have not been bullied in the same way since. I’m sad to hear that yours continued but so happy that you are sharing about your experiences and reaching out to people! Don’t put my name in the hat! I don’t have a book that I’m working on. I dream of writing articles for magazines and don’t have anything written for anyone. I’m going to be sharing this! Great post!

  48. Very powerful post. Trolls are shocking. I have found that not replying saves a lot of annoyance. But they seem to follow one around, into blogs, twitter, facebook. It is really strange behaviour, and I wonder if some even know what they are doing.

  49. Excellent post. It is sad that there even has to be a petition for Goodreads to take this seriously. 🙁

    1. Goodreads won’t take it seriously until it hurts their traffic & membership.

      If I had more time, I’d start a competitor with built-in anti-bullying features.


  50. Thanks so much for sharing this article, Kristen! I’ve recently come across the GR bullies, as have many of my writer friends. There is no rhyme or reason to why they attack. I’ve never even done any of the things they claim makes a “BBA” (badly behaving author). I’ve never responded badly to a critical review, never asked anyone to give me good reviews, and have never rated a book I haven’t read.

    My “crime” was standing up for another author friend they had targeted after she dared to express her support over the recent Goodreads policy change in a comment thread. (Oh, the horror, right?) I openly said I would flag all the fake one star reviews they bombed her with. They really hated when I blogged about their behavior and wasted no time in swarming my books with their one star carpet bombs. You see, the bullies think wherever they congregate is their “turf” and no one else is allowed to express their opinions, especially authors. We are to remain mindless automatons who never speak up for anyone and never interact with readers.

    Sorry, but I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I’m an adult and will conduct myself as such. I don’t falsely rate anything, I don’t use “sock puppets”, and I don’t go on profanity-filled sprees of belittling specific people just to make myself look good. The most disgusting of these bullies are so-called authors themselves.

    I’m doing what I can to support others who are attacked and to inform as many authors as I can about the dangers on these large social sites. It’s ridiculous that we even have to deal with it, but it is what it is. Thanks again for sharing!

  51. I have been bullied online. One example: a critic took exception to a review I had written of The Blue Book, by A L Kennedy. My review not only stated my views but expplained why I held them – in short, it was reasoned.

    On the back cover of the hardback was a quotation attributed to Richard Ford along the lines that ‘this woman is a profound writer.’ I took exception to this because it was NOT reasoned. What were we supposed to do – accept this just because Richard Ford had said it? Evidently we were.

    The bully in question, in one of his comments, told me – and the rest of the world – that what I had written was nonsense and told ME to prove it!

    The way I look at is is simple. If the aggressor hits the ball over the net and you don’t hit it back, then he can’t keep playing the game.

    • Melissa Lewicki on January 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm
    • Reply

    Do bullies know they are bullies? Or do they justify their behavior because the victim “deserved” whatever they did to her? Do they seem themselves in some sort of a heroic mode? I just don’t understand their thinking. All that energy and effort to do nothing but cause misery.
    Thank you for a moving, tear-provoking post. And thank you for WANA.

    1. The anonymity of the Internet gives some people the boldness to be more of a *CENSORED* than they would in person.

  52. I understand what you went through even though your own experience with bullies while attending public schools was much worse than mine.

    The few bullies who tried to physically push me around usually got punched in the nose. I’d just close my eyes and flail my fists. However, defensing yourself against a physical attack doesn’t stop spiteful meanness. For instance, the way you were mostly treated.

    That is why I also retreated into books and made them my best friends.

    But that is where our paths diverged. The way I was treated in the public schools led me to join the U.S. Marines after graduating from high school.

    I hated school because of the bullies—not the education system and teachers (I can’t remember one teacher who was a bully while I was a student)—and I did not want to go to college and face more of the same.

    That all changed after Vietnam and the Marines, and I decided to go to college on the GI Bill. By then I was combative and would take no BS from anyone and that included professors.

    They say the pen is mightier than the sword and that is true up to a point. In college, I eventually majored in journalism and after earning the BA went on to earn an MFA in writing. Combine the bull dog stubbornness of a former combat veteran and U.S. Marine with someone who can write and that makes for a formidable foe when the bullies come knocking.

    In 1975, I started teaching in the public schools, and I did not tolerate bulling of any kind in my classroom. The bullies usually spent so much energy and time fighting with me that they had little time to terrorize their victims in my classroom. And I made sure to make life miserable for the bullies by making phone calls to parents, suspending the bullies from my classroom and documenting everything. Thirty years later in 2005, I retired. There were few teaching days without an active bully, or more than one, to deal with.

    Bullies are a scourge, a virus on humanity. If we could identify them, the best thing for the world would be to send them to Mars to colonize that planet underground in caverns where they could prey on each other and leave the rest of us alone.

  53. Kristen, you’ve nailed it. It is a very touchy subject, indeed. There are so many bullies out there on Goodreads and other review sites passing out 1-star reviews en masse, for no other reason than because they can.

    And I’ve seen authors bully readers/reviewers as well, insisting that a review be changed or removed because the reader/reviewer clearly didn’t understand what the book was about, or obviously, they would have loved it.

    Truly, the best advice for anyone being bullied is: NO NOT ENGAGE. Report any incidents to those in charge, and hope for the best. That’s really all you can do, and although it’s little comfort to those being bullied, you can’t turn back time and stop it from happening.

    I, too, was poor and bullied in middle school. My best friend’s older brother (he was 15 in 8th grade, and I was 12 in 6th) told everyone at school that I was easy and had put out at my friend’s sleepover party and “I” tasted sweet like candy. Kids at school (including my “so-called” best friend) started calling me a slut and a whore, and even went as far as throwing change at me when I walked down the hall. I had no idea why, at first, and when I found out, I cried for hours. I still thank God that my single mother had been looking for a 3 bedroom place to rent so that I wouldn’t have to share a bedroom with my little brother anymore, and that she found one she could afford only a couple weeks later in the next county over, about 15 minutes away, and in another school district.

    Thanks, Kristen, for tackling this tough subject and putting together this wonderful community where everyone can feel safe and welcome.

    You are an amazing woman, and don’t ever forget it. And if you start to, just look around and everyone here in the WANA community will be sure to remind you. 🙂

  54. Reblogged this on Lloyd Lofthouse and commented:
    Another reason to fight back when bullies come knocking.

  55. Such a well written and informative post! I wish there was some network where everyone could share stories about what their bullies have done with their lives. It’s unbelievable that your bully managed to shut down an entire company with her myopic cruelty, but I’m sure there are hundreds or thousands of stories just like it. Some people just don’t have a single positive thing that they feel confident enough to contribute to the world.

    1. We should start an ANTI-BULLYING Tribe on WANATribe :D.

      1. I think that would be awesome, Kristen! People need a safe place to share their stories. So many of them have written to me, because they need to be heard, but they’re terrified they’ll be further attacked if they speak up. There’s safety in numbers. (And a fierce moderator.)

  56. I have had similar experiences both in school and in the work place. Keeping my identity, (not because I knew it was the right thing to do) but because I didn’t know any other way. Like you I isolated, read and finally turned to alcohol and drugs to dull the pain. Today I’m sober, so in the end the bullies didn’t win. But I suffered from my own abuse, learned from the bullies who taught me I was not worthy. I AM WORTHY. And I know this today at 61 years old with 6 years of sobriety. Early on I felt sorry for myself, because I hadn’t found this freedom earlier. Today, I understand it happened in God’s time and sharing my story helps others who may be suffering. If I can be of any help to you or your readers please let me know.

  57. Kristin, I love you.

    1. Awww, I love you too ((HUGS))

  58. As an educator, I am embarrassed, horrified, and amazed that bullying in our schools continues to be alive and running full-speed.

  59. Oh Kristen, what a wonderful blog post!!! I detest bullies too. They’re all just cowards with vindictive natures and nothing caring or creative about them, usually quite sad and unhappy people too who just like to spread the misery. I was bullied at school too, for me the problem was because I coudn’t stand to see people getting bullied, I’d often intervene and then draw the bullies wrath onto me! Not a clever idea, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I was bullied by my father and my brother to a certain extent. College was good though, but my ex-publishers were also dreadful bullies. Their idea of communicating was to bully, harrass, intimidate, shout at and go beserk on anyone who didn’t kiss their feet or who dared to ask a question. I remember daring to ask about my sales figures once, to be snapped at and told “Why do I want to know?”, as if I was asking for some deadly secret information. Dear dear…VERY happy to have left them, I must say!

    Although it has taken me months to rebuild my confidence, I don’t regret for one second being free of them. Life is just too damn short to have toxic people around you. There are no excuses for ever being unkind or bullying someone. As for work…yes, I hear you there too. I had a particularly manipulative boss too, a very unpleasant woman who was a compulsive liar and still manages to float above the crap she dishes out. I learnt a long time ago, that dead wood floats unfortunately. But, like you, I am out of that situation and very thankful to be. Stay strong and keep smiling honey! 😀

  60. In school, I was soooooo quiet that I faded into the woodwork, so kids would “forget” I was there and wouldn’t think to pick on me. It worked most of the time. Bullies tended to target the kids that spoke up, that got on the radar.

    Now I have a son and he’s being bullied in middle school. It’s been so upsetting and aggravating. I’ve had to make calls, take meetings and keep at it over and over and over until they would take measures to prevent my son. (People advise to “just ignore” a bully but that doesn’t work.) Here’s a great site w/ info from a bullying advocate who helps children and schools:

    I had a bully boss at work, once. Transferred out of there as soon as I could. After I left, people said “How did you ever stand it?”

    As a writer, I cringe when I see other writers getting bullied online. It (almost) makes me hesitate putting up a blog and pursuing publication. Almost. I have a non-writing blog now, which I rule with an iron fist. Most people have been nice, but I POOF rudeness because I don’t need to tolerate that in my life anymore.

  61. Sorry for your experience. Bullying stinks on any level. With four daughters, My heart breaks often over what they go through. Thanks for the content.

  62. Hi Kristen,
    Well written piece – congrats on overcoming extreme bullying and taking a stand against it. I’m curious – do you think male writers face the same type of online bullying? I’m getting ready to start the query process on my humorous memoir and I’ve never once thought of how I’ll handle anonymous bullying about my work or character. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks.
    Steven R. Leonard Author of The Easter Duckling That Couldn’t Swim

  63. Sad that some feel the need to put others down in order to feel better about themselves. Especially creative minds. Goodreads?

  64. As a middle school teacher, I’m sad to hear your own teachers weren’t more supportive 🙁 I’m very proactive about stopping any bullying. Luckily, we have a great group of kids at my school . . . but there’s always a few you need to watch out for. Guess I’m not too important or big yet b/c I haven’t gotten any trolls *knocks on wood* There’s a silver lining to everything! Thanks for all you do for writers.

  65. I wish bullies could see the long term damage they do to the people they torment and feel some kind of remorse for what they’ve done. Unfortunately, all to often it’s as you say, they just follow us through life. Might be different faces but the out come is the same. So many have caused young people to actually commit suicide or, as in my daughter’s case cutting themselves, as if they should punish themselves for daring to be the target of these monsters.
    I’m happy to say my daughter has recovered from those times and grown into a beautiful young woman, though she felt forced to leave her hometown and move over 1200 miles away to achieve this.
    All I hope is that when these bullies die and stand at the pearly gates they get their comeuppance. What goes around comes around.
    Jacquie Biggar

  66. Reblogged this on jbiggarblog and commented:
    A tough subject handled with grace

  67. A salute to you, Kristen Lamb, for posting this blog. My bully was a fourth grade boy who liked to beat up girls on the way home from school. We told the teacher, which made little impact on Arthur, until we ganged up on him, next time he chased us. Then in high school, it was just a stupid boy, who made an unkind comment on my bowed legs. Nothing else, just that comment I remember since the late 60s.

    Any power these bullies have, we give to them by folding in on ourselves, like sow bugs. Maybe this tides us by until we grow big enough to put bullies in their place.

    The service lost a great one, though your mission benefits the greater world. USAF didn’t have any bullies that couldn’t be put in their place by a wise first sergeant.

    Best wishes to you and yours this new year.

  68. Excellent post.

  69. Reblogged this on …..And The Moon Sees All and commented:
    Too good a post not to share.

  70. Poignant piece, Kristen. My heart hurt for the youthful you. Although it came out to great reviews, I was shocked and amazed when my first book was published at the viciousness on Goodreads. Words that often had nothing to do with the book, per se, just people wanting to spew their venom. While I have tried to thicken my skin because they are few and far between, I have been amazed at the haters and the miserable lives they seem to lead. So thank you for this timely article, I thought it was just me. You obviously hit a nerve with your readers. Hope you are doing better, my friend.

  71. Reblogged this on The Curious Introvert and commented:
    I’ve had my share of being the target of a bully – mostly within my family.

    • Jennifer Rose on January 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I think that everyone has some bullying experience from their past – especially middle school! [ie. Evil Incarnate] I’ll never forget when this one girl (still remember her name) threw my lunch in the trash, so I was hungry the rest of the day. And we had no money, so food was a big deal! I totally broke out bawling in the middle of the lunch room. I think a big reason I mainly hung out with teachers in high school was because of all the bullies in middle school. The teachers I hung out with in the old computer lab were interesting and weren’t petty; I was safe there.

    I’ve thought of opening up a martial arts school that focuses on training kids both how deal with bullies AND avoid becoming the bullies themselves, integrating my school’s tae kwon do practice, methodology and tenets into this. For now, there are lots of great programs out there, such as:

  72. Reblogged this on KATE JACK'S BLOG and commented:
    Anyone who’s been cyber bullied , should read this article.

  73. Thank you for your post. It’s sad to think about Bullies and trolls and people who are so full of hate, they’d rather hurt others than take a look at where that pain is and deal with it. I was bullied in High school as well. I’d like to think it helps me have more compassion when I hear victim stories and it helped teach me to find my voice. I truly hope you never have to deal with another troll or bully, Kristen, sounds like you’ve had your share and then some. 🙂

  74. Kristen – I was bullied more as an adult than in high school. I was the smart one in school, and for some reason, that helped me. I was considered arrogant by many, which was my tool in keeping my head above water, I think. I kept quiet, which was considered snobbery. In my government profession, I was bullied incessantly because I was intelligent, and a woman manager in a man’s world (US Dept of Agriculture). When it started impacting my career, I filed a grievance. They tried to outlast me, and 7 years later, I won it. A short while later, the bullying started up again by the men in the office, many of them upset that I’d won before. I filed again, won again, and took an early retirement to write.

    In the earlier stages of all this, I met a federal agent on the job, and he taught me to stand up for myself – at the same time holding my hand through a bribery investigation. I was offered the bribe and he was the agent. (**The catalyst for my first novel Lowcountry Bribe) During some of the most intense bullying of my life, he stood by me. We ultimately married, and it was probably the best decision of my entire life.

    But old habits die hard. I’m witty, intelligent, and good with snappy retorts, but there’s a family member who I cringe around. And the occasional bad review will grip my heart and soul. It’s a steady battle, and we have to fight to feel good about ourselves. Thanks so much for emphasizing this topic. It’s near and dear to me. So much so that I wrote The Shy Writer Reborn, not for many sales, but to reach those struggling. I’ve cried many a tear when a reader messages me saying how I’ve read their mind and understand what it’s like. Standing together, we can feel stronger. ~C. Hope Clark,

  75. Wow, Kristen, what an astounded post. What horrible experiences you’ve had with such horrible people, and reading through some of the comments, others have had as well. Sometimes, when I read stuff like this, I wonder if I wasn’t raised on some alien planet I wasn’t aware of, for so many people report experiences like this, but nothing like this ever happened to me. Clearly, I was very lucky. The only other explanation I can think of is that I’ve always been tall and fairly muscular and also outspoken, so perhaps the bullies were afraid of me.

    One thing this makes me realize is that people like me who are outspoken and not seen as a target by bullies have a responsibility to help out those people who are targets – to stand up for them and perhaps help them mobilize and stand up for themselves (in the case of your work bully). Just because you yourself aren’t doing the bullying doesn’t mean you aren’t playing a role if you witness it yet don’t act when you have the power to do something.

  76. What a great post, Kristen! Your experience shows that anybody can be bullied. Targets are often chosen at random. And I get so frustrated when I go to anti-bullying sites and see they’re only addressing young playground bullies, not the adults who can do so much damage.

    People are wrong who say bullies are just “insecure”. Recent scientific studies have found that the bullies generally have high self-esteem. That’s because they’re sociopaths. They have no consciences. They are incapable of empathy. They feed on other people’s pain.

    Be prepared to get one-star reviews on Amazon because you’ve written this piece. I get them every time I address this issue. I also get heartbreaking emails from victims of the Goodreads and Amazon Forums sociopaths. Goodreads did a little cosmetic purging last fall, but most of the potty-mouthed nasties are still there, doing as much evil as ever. (I follow my agent’s advice and put up my bio, linked to my blog and NEVER GO BACK except to certain safe groups and I never read my GR reviews.)

    Every time I blog about it, I refer people to WANA tribe and the WANA groups, because you DO provide one of the few places online where a newbie can be safe. Thanks so much for everything you’ve done to create a safe community for writers!

    Here’s one of my more popular posts on bullying in the online writing community.

  77. I was bullied, too. I swear there’s some kind of invisible signal flashing above the heads of thoughtful, sensitive, creative types that attracts every hyena in a 10 mile radius.

    But we’re not easy pickings on the fringes of the herd anymore – we’re WANAs, and WANAs are unstoppable.

    Hugs, Kristen!

  78. Reblogged this on Cynthia Stacey and commented:
    Words to live by. Great Post by Author Kristen Lamb.

  79. I’m legally blind and have been a target for bullies all my life. I used to hide behind a quiet facade to hopefully bore bullies into leaving me alone. Then I tried beating their asses and almost got a criminal record. Now I just let my writing do the talking. Thanks for the great post and for helping others find ways to avoid the troll’ torture even if it’s just a bit at a time.

    • Thomas Linehan on January 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm
    • Reply

    You should be in contact with every school in Texas (that is where you live?), so that things are like this are exposed.
    I was too big and tough to be bullied, and I refused to allow others in my company to be bullied. I was fortunate to learn a lesson about that when I was very young, and I learned it well.
    You should be given a good citizen award for even bring this up.
    Great advice. You helped me make my decision about Goodreads.

  80. Long time reader, but rarely comment. I was shocked to read the extent of the bullying you were subjected to. Great post, Kristen. All who bully need to be stopped. The good news is you have a wonderful career and I bet they are still stuck in their going nowhere jobs, so you win.

  81. Great post. I think most people can relate. The anonymity of the internet causes a lot of this online. Although with Facebook accounts used to post, I still see a lot of people do this.

  82. Kristen, absolutely spot on post today! Thank you for addressing the topic of bullies who are supposedly adults but the same kids we went to high school with decades ago. And they wonder why there are bullies in the schools where their kids go. I have blocked more than one someone on Facebook or Twitter for inappropriate comments, and I have had to do the same with one individual on one of my blogs. I am not hesitant to take control. My blogs and social media accounts are mine, mine to police and mine to control. Thanks again!

  83. Great list of helpful advice for all kinds of artists striving to succeed in the bullying market today.

  84. I think I might be unusual, I decided early on that I wouldn’t read my reviews. I don’t even read the 5 star ones, in most cases. I think it can be very unhealthy for some writers, we are a sensitive bunch I find. Even though I consider myself to be someone with thick skin , it seems best to avoid any undue negative energy. I have writer friends who have been stalked by negative reviewers. Someone who reads one book, posts a nasty review and then proceeds to read (so they say) every other book by that same author and give more bad reviews. Why? If an author doesn’t strike your fancy, stop reading their books.
    I know how much work it takes to write a book, so if I find a book isn’t for me, I don’t post a review. I wish more people took this same stance. Really enjoying your blogs by they way! 🙂

  85. I have been bullied and then spent some time as a bully as well. Neither was pleasant. I actually felt WORSE when I was hurting this other kid, but I didn’t know how to stop, and felt it was expected. Luckily it was only summer camp and so I was only in his life for a little while, but I wish I could let him know it wasn’t his problem, it was mine. I feel like saying ‘sorry’ isn’t really worth much though.
    Thankfully I grew more insightful and eventually managed to find a happy medium between standing up for myself and being passive.

  86. Thank you for this great article. I can’t even imagine how lonely you must have felt growing up, and how much pain you had to endure. My heart goes out to you and I admire your bravery for sharing your experiences.
    I was very lucky to attend elementary school that had zero tolerance for bullying. By the time I was in high school and collage, I had enough smarts to avoid and ignore bullies. But, since I’ve been publishing books, I came across these no-life trolls who gang up on Goodreads and Amazon to bully authors by posting very negative reviews. In my opinion, that is the ONLY thing they can achieve in their lowly and lonely lives.They are-like all bullies- cowards and jealous people. At least school bullies show their faces, but cyber bullies hide behind fake profile pictures and fake names. Although I despise them, I’m not afraid that my books wouldn’t sell because of them. Readers are not gullible to judge a book by these mean reviews. They can judge my books by the covers, synopsis and the sample provided before they buy the book. And, if they buy the book but decide that the genre or the story is not for them, most selling sites have return policy.
    My message to all the bullies out there, please crawl back under the rocks where you came from, and think about how to make your life meaningful. If you can’t find any productive things to do, then please stay under your rock and be very-very quiet.

  87. Kristen: I absolutely agree to “not feeding the trolls”. Don;t give into the negativity. I’ve read some authors’ answers to negative reviews and I cringe. I also agree with your advice to scan the comments and if it’s negative, move on.

    Re: bullying – being overweight since I was 8 means I was bullied. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s means it was “Kids will be kids” and I was supposed to ignore it and it would go away. No, it doesn’t. I’m reminded of Ralphie in A Christmas Story – he had to actually beat down the bully. Writers have so many bullies in our lives. Some of them really don’t mean it but they send out the negativity, wanting to pat us on the head, basically saying “Now, isn’t that lovely. She says she’s a writer.” That is passive bullying.

    I personally write reviews of books on Amazon or Goodreads infrequently and only if I can make it positive.

    I’ve signed the Goodreads petition.

    And as a woman wearing size 101/2 D’s I’m envious of those narrow feets,


  88. Oh, goodness, Kristen, your comments brought me to tears. I must say not all girls who wear designer clothes in high school and college were bullies. I wore them, and to this day, I have a love for beautiful, trendy things. (I paid for them in high school with my babysitting money–plus my mother could sew anything we saw displayed in a store window.) I was popular in school; I always had tons of friends and was never lacking for a boyfriend, but I never once bullied a person or had a friend who did. I came from a lower middle class background–yet a truly loving, stable one. I grew up with tremendous self-confidence and an inherited sense of humor from generations back.

    I agree with comment #83 by maryjocee. It is our own feeling of inadequacy that makes us a target for bullies. Parents can help their children from the day they are born to believe in themselves no matter what are their circumstances. (I encourage everyone to read GIFTED HANDS by Dr. Ben Carson–an excellent example of belief in self amid the worst possible environment.) We taught our son at the age of three how to give a firm handshake while making eye contact. We always used pro-active words with him, such as “when” you go to college instead of “if” you go. Our only child was a military brat, so it was difficult to have to start a new school every year or two. He had some lonely days, yet the concept of self-reliance reigned in his mind. He knew that if he tried to be nice to each and every child that it was the right thing to do–not that it would gain him favors. He knew to excel in academics because God had given him a brain to use, and the sky was the limit. Above all, he knew to take a stand when he saw another child being treated unfairly. He grew up as a team-player, smart as the dickens and a super well-liked guy. He and his wife are now teaching their four year old the same things we taught him–self-reliance, self-respect and self-confidence. Bullies can rarely be changed; the change must begin with our own children.

    Yeah, I know this sounds idealistic, but I’m speaking as a counselor with over thirty years experience. I’m not a writer; I’m a reader. I hope more of you will write books, especially if you write for children and teens, that have characters who overcome obstacles and learn how to believe in themselves. I’m really ticked, Kristen, that you did not find the help from your teachers and counselors that you needed. I did a year of Clinical Practice at Boston U. working with children who were victims. We made real progress. I do believe schools today are looking closer at the bullying problem. These bullies are usually the offspring of bullies. More than likely, they are bullied at home, feel unloved and are without the power to make things better. In return, they prey on those who seem weaker than they, especially at school. Some, who were bullied and abused by their parents go on to have more serious problems and will continue the cycle with their own children. We have more bullies today than ever. I think it is a crisis and a problem almost impossible to fix until that bully goes over the line of the law. In the meantime, we have an obligation to ourselves to be more self-aware–to understand the nature of bullies and their victims. Even an adult victim can be helped and children with the potential to be victims can be stopped from being so with the help of loving parents, caregivers or teachers. Bottom-line, you can stop being a victim with knowledge and education. This is the real way to fight back.

    My words are about children being bullied in school. For those of you who have bullying problems in the workplace, I think you need to fight back by staying one step ahead of those who would do you harm. Change your pattern of working whenever you can; use one of the nifty video recorders available today when you’re going to be out of the office; make copies of all your work and presentations with dates and time; document every single thing that goes wrong at work so that when you make a complaint, it has some meat to it. Each work setting is different. Try to get into the mind of the wrong-doer and look for patterns. BE PRO-ACTIVE. As far as the Internet, post a disclaimer that hate or racist speech; profanity; unnecessary attacks on another poster or posts off the subject will be deleted and, in most cases, the commenter will be blocked from further use of your blog, FB Page, etc. If you have a large volume blog, you may have to hire a website monitor. This act along, monitoring your sites, should cut down on unwanted bullies, et al.

    Again, Kristen, I’m so sorry this ugly bullying happened to you. It’s so unfair and so hard to put it to rest. My heart hurts for you!

  89. Reblogged this on mchllmdm and commented:
    An excellent post about bullying. This is very insightful.

  90. Good information here– and I feel the same way you do about using a pen name. If someone wants to bully, stalk or hurt you, they will find out who you are. (And sometimes using a pseudonym can be used against you– “What are you hiding? Why are you ashamed of what you write?”, etc.) The biggest way to protect ourselves from bullying is to speak out and refuse to be silenced.

  91. It is so sad that you went through so much torment during school, but he message you send out to everyone (not only authors) will help so many.

    As someone who was bullied throughout my school years, I also want to give hope to people who have had similar experiences. Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice.

  92. “Kristen Lamb The Face of Misandry”

    Bwahahaha, you should make that your official tagline.

    1. Right? LOL. That cracked me up. Thanks.

  93. I remember being shocked and stunned when I was bullied at the age of 40 by my manager. I was so naive. I had no idea that there were adult bullies until I encountered her. I always thought I was a strong-willed person who stood up for herself. Until I encountered this woman. I folded like a house of cards and LET HER BULLY ME. To this day I’m so mad at myself for allowing that. I wish I had stood up for myself but I let myself believe it when she told me she was disappointed that I was so stupid and that she was disappointed in herself for thinking I was smarter than I actually was. She was wrong, of course. I worked for her for a year but it took many more years to put it behind me. When I left I wrote a very long letter to HR about her. Do you know what happened? Not only did she keep her job but she was promoted.

  94. This is such a brave and honest blog, Kristen. It’s great advice about dealing with trolls, and on a personal level it made me want to transport myself to the high school version of you and give you a hug.

    I really loved your analogy about the screen door. I write under my maiden name because my career as a therapist overlapped with my writing career and I wanted some professional separation… but even now, I find myself feeling ‘skeevy’ whenever my public writer self and my private self (especially the mommy self) intersect online. I find I’m sometimes making decisions out of nameless fear rather than simple passion for what I do, and it’s hard to know when you’ve crossed the line from common sense precautions to pointless paranoia. Bullies hide behind monikers and anonymity; but if all of us do that, it only adds to the free-for-all ‘nothing-is-real’ culture online. Thanks for the reminder that the best thing any of us can do is to be ourselves.

  95. Excellent post, Kristen. My heart wept for you and what you went through as a child and teenager.. my son has had a difficult time at both primary school and secondary school from bullies and he though is in a good school now, the scars run deep. I am privileged to have made wonderful friends among my readers and fellow writers in the SF/ Fantasy/Horror community. I have also encountered a dark side, the bitter wannabees only too happy to spread lies and try to ruin writers’ reputations out of spiteful jealousy. Trolls come in many forms ! The horror writing community has also been under siege over the past year or so by one nasty piece of work on Facebook using dozens of fake profiles.. It’s a jungle out there !

  96. I understand what it is like to be bullied all through school. Although my experiences were not as bad as yours, they left a mark. Thank you for letting people know about how wide spread adult bullying is, Kristen. You have taken a brave, bold step. I have seen the bullying in the book reviews also. One was so cruel and attacked me personally. I spent days just wondering if I should continue writing at all. Thankfully, I was able to push the bully’s remarks aside with the help of a few friends and have continued writing.
    I love your blog and today you have touched my heart. I am going to join the WANA FB page and follow on Twitter. Take care and I wish you the very best in the coming year.

  97. I think a lot of the ones who get bullied at school are the ones who have more brains than the others. I was lucky – it was kinder in my day – I was merely ignored. All the same, a life of unpopularity makes one feel bad. Undeserving. It doesn’t matter that you would never hurt a fly, it doesn’t matter if you try to help people, some of us will never be liked.
    It was a great relief to me do a Mensa test in early adulthood, and discover an IQ in the stratosphere. It was not because it made me feel superior, it was because it made me feel there was a reason that people didn’t like me that was not that I was unworthy.

  98. Your story about the woman at your work place is insane. Whenever I encounter such stories I’m blown away by the cruelty of people. I thought I had it bad but I really didn’t compared to so many others!

  99. I was shocked to learn that you had to endure so much cruelty, Kristen; it hurt just to read your courageous post. I was lucky to face only minor and infrequent bullying in school, though those instances are forever etched in my memory. But, to this day, what I feel worse about is that I didn’t have the guts to stand up for others who were regularly bullied. I worked with a couple adult bullies who weren’t quite sociopaths, but who clearly didn’t understand karma. I have to admit, I didn’t shed any tears when justice eventually landed like boulders on their desks. I’ll never understand how anyone finds pleasure in creating pain.

  100. I’d say that woman at the factory was a psycho, not just a bully. I agree that the digital forum seems to bring out the bully in the not-usually-a-jerk types.
    I have no wisdom. Every bully is different.
    I can say that I’m feeling happy not to be “famous” enough to have any trolls or haters who visit my website, blog or Facebook page just to add negativity. Some people are famous for being hateful. What a sad commentary.
    Happy 2014. I hope your achy joints are feeling better today.

  101. Kristen, you’ve given me so much to think about. I, too, moved often as a kid, and it meant that I was an outcast in a variety of countries. I’m sure that informs why I decided to use a pen name, something I have mixed feelings about and something I now know how you feel about. It’s true that it won’t protect me, but I hope it can liberate me. It can be a scary internet out there.

  102. I find it heartbreaking that this happens so often in the online book communities. Let’s face it–a lot of writers and readers were the quiet, weird kids in school and were subject to plenty of bullying because of it. To see that not only extend to adulthood, but for some of those kids to become the bullies themselves, is downright depressing. I try to remind myself that it’s about their own need for power and control and really has nothing to do with their target, but that doesn’t stop the target from hurting.

    My readership is small enough that I haven’t been targeted by bullies, but it’s ridiculous that, if I aspire to greater success (which I do), I just have to accept that a certain amount of bullying comes with the territory.

    Thank you for starting the WANA community. I often say one of the hardest thing about being a writer is how isolated you feel, and it’s wonderful that you took actions to change that.

  103. While I was bullied in elementary and middle school, I started to realize that bullying took many forms when I reached high school. I don’t know why, but in first grade, I decided that there was this kid who hated me, and I did not like him in return. I’m guessing that there was someone who didn’t like him who told me that he didn’t like me, and this determined how I felt about him for about five years of our lives. Children are so reasonable, neh? He never did anything terrible to me, and while I never did anything terrible to him, we managed to needle each other. I may have been more of a thorn than a needle, though.

    At the same time, I remember that a group of girls tried to convince me that an actual friend of mine didn’t really like me – she was just using me because nobody liked her. Fortunately, I didn’t buy into THAT lie, but it’s small consolation for the pain I was to the other child. I hope I can apologize to him, someday.

    Middle school was weird, because when I actually was bullied, I was undaunted. I was tripped because I “walked funny”, teased for what I wore (how original), someone stole the lock off my locker (for which I was grounded), a couple kids threw food at me during lunch (which stopped when I made sure to sit facing their direction every lunch period), and someone would make sure to call me some mean name every time we passed in the hallway (which somehow stopped when I swung around and demanded, “What is your problem?”).

    I’m working on not feeding the trolls. Sometimes they don’t seem like trolls at first, and sometimes they really don’t know that they’re being ignorant. It can be difficult to know which is which if you want to give people the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true in the gaming world, which is wrought with trolls who don’t understand why women are complaining about anything (“everything”, if you ask them), and we’re “misandrists” for at LEAST wanting our avatars to wear decent armor/clothes, let alone equal representation.

    Alas, I digress. Bullies abound, and I hope I never fall back into being one out of bitterness.

  104. Great post, Kristen. It might be my age, I don’t think that a lot of this kind of behavior was allowed when I was going to school, but not many kids tried to bully me. When they did, they got an earful. Then again, I’m a born crusader. In kindergarten I stood up for a boy that the teacher wrongly accused, and I only got worse with age. I would have sat at the lunch table with you and walked with you to class.

  105. I read your post and am amazed that the self-assured woman who did a vid-post a few weeks back was so badly mistreated. Your story touched me. It is an example of how a person can rise above the asshats and flourish. I’ve had bullies but one at a time and so far I’ve outlived them all. Some have even become friends when they’ve settled into domestic life and had children. Have a Happy and less achy New Year. Please keep guiding us.

    • timamarialacoba on January 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm
    • Reply

    A writer friend in the UK was attacked by one of these psycho trolls, who for no apparent reason attacked her book – and even her as an author. She even left these pathetic little stick drawings! It was disgusting. So my friend notified all her supporters & we rallied behind her – clicked “like” on all her reviews and “unhelpful” on the troll’s. Eventually our clicks out numbered the psycho troll’s and her sick friends. Recently I noticed that offensive comment was removed. Friends having your back does work. Thanks for this timely post, Kristen, and thank you for your courage in speaking out. You’ve been there!

  106. Thank you for your post – I had an unpleasant introduction to internet bullying about five years ago – even now if you google my name and one particular word the ugly all comes back. The depression I sank into after this happened actually led to the breakup of my marriage. These people are sad excuses for human beings, and I applaud your reaction to their destructive behavior. It was a horrible lesson to learn, but eventually things got better. I wish I had known about your cybersleuth friend Jay at the time…

  107. Who can not comment on this? Having read your post, who can not think differently about all your posts, they are sensitive and useful and to the point. The one thing a bully does not do, is encourage and lift you up, but like a push in a gravity free environment two objects go in opposite directions, the bully into oblivion and you into a useful and lifting voice! It was not that bully that made you this, but you, by reaction, have a voice of truth for it. All the rest about having suffered at the hands of bullies was said better by others here than I can say. The mark of a really great post is the response it gets, Really really good posting here, I’m sorry there are bullies too.

    1. I think we can turn the tide together. Good people standing as a wall against hate has chained the world many times and it can again ;).

      1. Yes, and it will, your post added quite a few bricks to the wall today.

  108. Thanks for the heads up. I was naively thinking I was safe on the blog. I thought it was ONE area where bullies couldn’t get to me. Wow, was I wrong. Writing has been a safe haven for me to express myself. But seeing what you wrote, gosh, makes me stop and think. I’m sorry you’re treated so badly. I do see few jealous writers out there, that can’t stand successful writers. FB has a few writing groups and it’s filled with jealousy and hate. TY for posting.

    • terrimolina on January 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm
    • Reply

    Aww…Kristin, you’re soo awesome! I wish I could just give you a big hug.

    I was bullied in elementary school because we were poor and Mexican, but by the time I’d reached junior high I’d learned to deal with it by pretty much becoming invisible. When I made it to high school I learned how to look intimidating to anyone who thought twice about messing with me. hah

    I have two daughters (one with special needs) and told them from the beginning how mean people could be and how to deal with it (keep their heads high, don’t let them win, and know they are beautiful with strong hearts and the bullies hate themselves so much they have to hate on others so feel sorry for them.) Plus, I always had my kids’ backs, which helped them learn to be strong. I also told them to never be bullies and fight for the ones who are (bullied). And, they always did.

    1. I love this. There is a girl at my daughter’s school who is treading on the thin line between bullying and just being mean. I keep telling my daughter that there is something wrong with that girl that she needs to be mean to make herself feel better. My daughter knows that it’s not her that has an issue but the mean girl. I’m keeping my eye on the situation and will definitely call the school if she crosses the line. Luckily our school is very aware of bullying and puts a stop to it right away.

  109. It was very brave of you to tell your story. I was bullied too, but not to that extent. I also, don’t read reviews, either of the books I purchase or the books I write. There is enough for me to worry about without giving those fidiots the time of day. Kudos to you because in the end, you won!

  110. Reblogged this on Lynn Tyler and commented:
    Reblogged and totally worth reading. Before you read or write a review, you should take a look at this!

  111. This post spoke to me, as many of yours do. As a kid with a highly visible disability, I was also targeted by bullies, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to about it. The police were called more than once, only for them to tell me there was nothing they could do. I lost all my friends, when they became terrified of being made a target for being my friend. To escape, I retreated into my writing, to which adults responded by calling me antisocial, and even nuts. It didn’t necessarily get easier when I got older. If only there had been a WANATribe 15 years ago! Come to think of it, if only we had met each other when we were kids. I guarantee we would have been friends for life, and neither of us would have had to be alone anymore, because we would have had each other’s backs! 😀

    Sniff. I’m crying as I write this, thinking of the epic friendship that might have been. LOL. You’re a warrior for making it through what you did, and for becoming the awesome, WANA Mama that you are in spite of it. You have changed the internet world, Kristen. Everyone hopes to make a difference in the world, and you have. All good people hope to make the world a better place in some small way, and because of you, it is. You have taken those horrible experiences and turned it into the most amazing thing. A place we who once felt there was nowhere to turn can finally go to belong.

    All my love, and the utmost respect, not just for this blog, or this post, but for everything you’ve done. And for being you. 😀

    1. Pain needs a purpose. And I am happy mine can help others. I fell asleep after writing this post. Was emotionally exhausted. And I had the most beautiful dream I was planting seeds of all these beautiful purple flowers. Just about the time I thought the seed packet was empty, it would be full again, so I began tossing them EVERYWHERE. I hope this is a metaphor for what we as WANAs can do. If anyone has the love, creativity and intelligence to solve this cyber=bullying, I know it’s the WANAs. ((HUGS))

      1. Oh wow! What a gorgeous dream! I believe anything is possible, Kristen. We WANA’s will change the world. 😀

  112. I got bullied at school because I showed strong what I now know to be aspergers traits and also because I couldn’t ride a bike. But by my teens it stopped because the offenders were busy riding or being the local bikes if you know what I mean.I really admire your courage for speaking out Kristen and for generating a discussion on a subject which too often gets ignored. Bullies are the dog shit you tread in and the dog crap people don’t clean up and quite frankly that is unfair to shit to be thus compared. Remember that they are jealous spineless gutless people who are scared to act alone, that’s why they need their sad little friends and quite frankly I was glad never to be in the in crowd.

  113. I’ve run into a lot of bullying, too — I’m youth services coordinator for GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services in Huntsville, AL, and we see bullying of youth *and* adults far too frequently. You’ve provided some marvelous advice here. I’ll be passing this along to our CEO and counselors. Whether you know it or not, Kristen, you will save lives with this. Not someone’s career: someone’s LIFE.

    1. My fear is if they don’t get this under control, we will see author suicides. Artists are already emotionally tender. It’s what makes us artists. An artist alone with no support network? I have friends who are great writers who randomly have been targeted by these flash mobs of hate. I’m a pretty tough cookie, but without WANA? I might give up without my digital community who is happy to pop offending trolls on the snoot. Some of the attacks and abuse are unconscionable. No one should be subjected to that. I don’t care how bad a book is. Critique the work but attacking the author? Hunting them mercilessly? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

        • Shonda on February 19, 2014 at 9:46 am
        • Reply

        In one experience I had, some of the worst bullies seem to realize their own influence in potentially causing a suicide. I gathered this fact by reading a certain blog comment that was posted many years ago. It’s sad. The worst of the bullies should be ashamed, but they’re not. If anything, they’re proud of their influence and it makes them push harder to gain even more control over their victims and their victims’ lives. They love the power they have over people. They’re addicted to it. I guess they have no power in their real lives.

        1. Long before the Internet there were bullies. One of them was Adolf Hitler. Another Pol Pot. A third Stalin.

          Maybe the Internet will allow us to ID these potential future Hitlers early and then follow them through life so they never achieve leadership positions.

    • holliganlee on January 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    • Reply

    I am horrified by your experiences (and admire you for writing about them). I’ve had my fair share of bullying (for glasses and frizzy hair – Dippity Do was my only pathetic choice back then.

    Imagine my surprise when a recent client of mine walks in wearing the same white cat’s eye frames I was bullied for wearing back in grade school!

    I don’t allow hurtful comments on my little blog and have found that people who write hurtful things don’t understand sensitive replies – or sarcasm, which is my spiritual gift – so there is no point in trying to engage.

    I appreciate your blog, keep it going!

  114. I just about cried reading the first part of your blog. I just want to pick you up and cuddle you and tell you it’ll be okay. Sure, that’s a little weird from a total stranger, but the point is SCREW THOSE GUYS, I LIKE YOU!

    As someone who has been harrassed on Goodreads, I can say that being part of a community has helped so much, and now I’m going to join yours. You can never have too many friends.

  115. Wow, Kristen, it was really brave and unselfish of you to share all of that. I was bullied as a youngster because I was a fat kid. Books were my refuge, too. I’m so glad you posted all those steps to take regarding online bullying. If it ever happens to me, I’ll know what to do. In the meantime, I’ll sign the Goodreads petition. I know more than one person who has been bullied there.

  116. Wow, it sounds like you have had more than your share of viciousness. I’m sorry to hear about that. No one should have to suffer because someone else thinks it’s a sport.

    I had a few trolls at my blog – but the worse one literally just came out of nowhere. It was odd because at first the fellow was very complimentary and then he started making odd statements, as though he knew me personally. I even wondered if it was someone I knew. Luckily, I had some very loyal and protective readers at the time and they just went after him – until I guess he couldn’t take it anymore.

    But I have to admit, it did affect how I blogged and what I blogged about afterwards. I guess never really realized that before now.

    It’s a crazy world and the Internet does make it easier for the crazies and bullies to make others miserable. I think you gave some very sound advice.

    And thanks for being so candid in your post – I know that is not an easy thing to do.


  117. Reblogged this on napowblog and commented:
    I liked that the Purge was used as the opening for this article about Writer Bullys. What a weird combo.

  118. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and your advice. It’s a great reminder to all of us that some people never grow out of that bully mentality. It’s sad and frustrating, but you’ve given your readers great tips for dealing with such situations. You rock!

    1. What is SO WEIRD is all the resources I ran across were for KIDS. My husband was targeted at HIS work. Adults go through this too.

      1. Something that I came across via PBS might be useful.

      2. FWIW, years ago I wrote an article on Workplace Bullying after my experiences at work (and I also found mostly resources for kids). For some reason none of the magazines or newspapers I sent it to would publish my article, so I eventually published it online. Some of the papers I referenced might be of interest to you, as may the academics I interviewed (Dr Sarah Tracy, in particular, who still works at Hugh Downs in Arizona).

        xox Thinking of you xox

    • Jennifer Rose on January 2, 2014 at 6:28 pm
    • Reply

    Wow. Perfect video came up on Upworthy today in regards to bullying!!

  119. This really spoke to me. I know what you mean about adult bullies. They really are everywhere. I commend you for your fight against bullies. We need more of you out there to change the world.

  120. Kristen, you have helped a lot of people by writing this post. It’s great to see endless comments from those you have reached. One disturbed person has given me huge inspiration to write the Fortier Series. I may not have discovered how creative I am, if it weren’t for them. I think you have also found tremendous strength in your writing. Here’s to the mighty pen!

    • Judy Jacobs on January 2, 2014 at 7:02 pm
    • Reply

    I stopped leaving comments on work posted in Goodreads after several attacks on me. If writers and writer-wannabes post in public, one guesses they are willing to consider responses from online readers. But no! Not only is a lot of pretty poor craftsmanship accepted and lauded, but anyone who suggests, for instance, that the rhythmic structure of a poem can be made more regular by changing a particular sequence of words risks harsh responses risks being called names and defamed by others in these groups. Do you care about improving your writing, or is the purpose of the forums to be no more than a mutual admiration society? Others whose reasonable comments have likewise been hammered have sent me personal messages about their experiences at the hands of these people.

  121. An astounding post. I ran into bullying a couple of times in junior high, but it was brief because I had to switch schools so often. Through high school I don’t think anyone besides my teachers knew I existed. Online I’ve had to block a few people on FB, but they were your garden variety creeps, not bullies. I’ve only had my blog for 11 months and so far so good, but I know it’s likely to happen eventually. This post was truly amazing, Kristen. I don’t think I took a breath while reading it.

  122. I found my way here by accident. I’m not a writer, but after reading several of your posts I found that I can still apply about everything you have to say to my daily life. This post finally got me out of my shell to comment.

    Bullying has affected me my whole life. Last year was my first year of high school. Yes, I really don’t belong here :-). But all of grade school I was mocked, tormented, and shunned from the rest of my classmates. Almost to the point of suicide, sad to say. Last year I never talked to anyone so that the bullies had no way to make fun of me. Obviously, I had no friends, and the bullies still found me. I was pushed around in the hallway and one time I hit my head on the stairs from falling. If I had hit my head just a centimeter to the left, I might have had serious brain injury.

    But then I found the online world, where I have the support of new friends from around the globe. It gave me a sense of acomplishment. Someone finally appreciated something I did. Yes, there were a few trolls. But my supporters outweighed the few. And now I can do what I love: creating music, taking photos, and sharing countless other things with others. And I’ve never been happier.

    As for advice, I don’t have any. I’ve been told a ll the clichés. Ignore them, speak up, and so on. But I believe that if you find something you’re passionate about, like writing, go with it. If you love what you’re doing, even when times are tough, you will feel happiness. And it will outweigh the hatred around you.

    • Meghan on January 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm
    • Reply

    I’m truly sorry for how much you suffered from the cruelty of others who should know better. Its been said bullies bully because they have their own issues and need to make themselves feel better, but its the innocent ones that suffer. I can relate to some of this as well. it *was* easier in college (especially now that I’m older and doing it again), but I still have trouble trusting people.
    This is an important message to spread, though, especially with the new ways to bully and negative reviews for authors. I commend you for speaking about your experiences!

  123. Reblogged this on Dr. Shay West and commented:
    GREAT advice from an even greater lady!

  124. I wish I could crawl through cyber space and give you hugs! <3

    I got bullied mostly in middle school and a little in high school. Enough to make high school one of those "meh" episodes of my life and why I didn't go to any but the 20 year reunion (and could have done without it). Been lucky with the website thus far but I know where to turn when the trolls come out of hiding 🙂

  125. I don’t even GO to Goodreads anymore. I see no sense in it, and the purpose is muddy and stupid. I thought when Amazon purchased it they would do something with it, even if they turrned it into a childcare business. But there it sits and does NOTHING. Huff Post is talking about hiring even more mods to shut down the trolls, and I’ve never seen such nastiness in people as I have in comments on places like Huffpost, The SL Trib, and other newspapers. We have two options to believe: that people are overwhelmingly bad, and hide it; or that people are overwhelmingly good and are too busy to chase after trolls on the Internet. I vote for number 2. And I hate bullies. ALL bullies.

  126. I understand your advice in reference to pen names. I chose to go with one for highly personal reasons. I’m still going with my pen name because of those reasons.

    It’s frustrating that there are so many people out there that have discovered the internet is an awesome way to spread their personal brand of negativity. Personally I don’t understand what they truly get from being this way….but it takes all kinds to make the world what it is. Although, yes….it would be much better without the idiots & bullies….they’re here to stay in one way shape or form.

    Keep doing what you’re doing…you’re obviously doing something right if you’ve garnered so much attention!!! Smite those that need it….& love those that deserve it!!

  127. Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    Awesome post

  128. You made me tear up. I’ve dealt with bullies my whole life–from school age to adult hood. You’re right–there is no escape from vindictive mean people.
    Do I have any advice? No. All I learned was “taking it” never made it better. But taking charge and standing up does (something that took me years to understand).
    Thank you for this post.

  129. So sorry all that happened to you, but just look at the ton of support you have now!! A great post! I, too, have been bullied online by a group of local women/writer wannabees. One of them is like a single white female situation. Very scary. She never threatened me physically (hence no help from the authorities) though the mental torture was terrible. She created blog after blog trying to discredit me, accuse me of all manner of crimes, and even posted pictures and hateful things about my children. It finally stopped after she married a man 25 years her junior who did 20 years for rape.

    I found the best way to deal with them was to ignore them and keep pushing my brand and getting my name out there. When everything came to light, those who mattered saw the truth.

  130. I love your posts that’s why I become a subscriber. I was a victiim of unreasonable bullying in middle school and it affects me. I don’t hate the persons, I just hate the act of bullying. I forgive them though and life goes on.

    Just like you, I prefer to be alone and read books I love and listen to my favorite bands.

    I remember once Adam Lambert said “never give the bullies the satsfaction.” And I just watched Tyra Banks Show when she discussed about Popular vs unpopular girls in high school.
    People who were bullied tend to be successful in the future.

    I don’t care what people think of me, whatever names they say about me behind my back. I believe we are better than them 🙂

  131. I can totally relate to the bullying, and I have no advice on them either. Ha! Teacher involvement actually made it worse, but I was never in one place long enough to see if it could have made it better. I am very thankful for you, your blog, for what you stand for, and I always direct people curious about social media back here. Really, the #myWANA way is a light in the darkness, confusion of cyberspace. Thanks for all you do! I appreciate it!

    • dellanioakes on January 2, 2014 at 9:42 pm
    • Reply

    Excellent article. I like that you said not to engage the trolls. That’s always been my method of approach. They want you to feel bad, thrive on discontent and frustration. I don’t understand the bully mentality. I guess they think so little of themselves, they have to take it out on others.

  132. Another thing you can do to stop bullies: find like-minded writers and hang out in mutual-support “gangs.” That doesn’t mean act like the bullies yourselves, trolling rivals and writing glowing but false reviews of each others’ work; rather, it means create a defensive wall around one another, standing up against the bullies and clearly and logically refuting false attacks and unfair reviews.

  133. Powerful stuff. Very brave of you to share such sh***y experiences. Great post

  134. I was very moved by your post. While I was bullied heavily in school, I never had anyone steal my things. Mostly because I became an attack dog; I received so much crap for having good grades, being smart, and something of a nerd, that I learned to fight back, even if it sounded stupid, I learned to stand my ground and it made me very tough and hard when dealing with bullies. Sure it still felt awful deep down, but I wasn’t going down without a fight. And while they didn’t every really stop, they did think twice about saying/doing something to me. Thank you for this post. It meant a great deal to me.
    I only recently started to follow you, but I look forward to your posts. Here is my blog if you are interested:

    May your New Year be cheery and bright, and keep fighting the good fight against bullies in all forms.

  135. You’ve had some tough experiences, Kristen, but how inspiring that instead of letting them shape your life, you’re dedicating yourself to stamping out bullying instead. You’re an inspiration!

  136. Thank you for sharing this info. Very well done.

  137. Thank you so much for writing this. I am being bullied on Amazon and Goodreads. This is a blog post I wrote about it:

    Now I discover my books are receiving dozens of 1-star ratings. All under different names but posted on the same day. This is especially discouraging because I am an independent publisher trying to put work by new Malaysian writers out into the world.

    I actually do know who is doing it – an author who has been a troll elsewhere inc on blogs and on his own Amazon forums. He’s Malaysian but now living in New Zealand. I guess I upset him by rejecting the work he submitted for my collection. I am considering legal action against him.

    I think all of us must keep putting pressure on Amazon and Good Reads and highlighting abuses. And yes, supporting each other.

      • Judy Jacobs on January 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm
      • Reply

      For a single rejection? Is there anyone among us who does not get rejections all the time? I just cited a prize-winning poet who was highlighted in an article in P&W whose book was submitted and rejected thirty times before winning a prestigious award. Your troll may be a dangerously deranged person. Report him for your own safety and that of others.

  138. So many comments! You needn’t put my name in your hat, I just had a thought to share.

    I remember middle school, when it was as simple as hitting back. Not that I condone fighting, but my instinct at the time, when a girl two feet taller than me raised her fist to pummel my face, was to take the same posture and hit back… I ended up punching her diaphragm and knocking the breath out of her for a few moments. This was luckily done on a rainy day, with about 200 other students watching, and she lost a lot of her power over the lower-class-men. It felt good at the time, especially since teachers hadn’t helped me (even on a day that ended with me going to the hospital).

    Then in high school, physical harassment changed to sexual. No help there either. I was shocked. I actually had a P.E. teacher who ENCOURAGED a boy to keep being lewd with me by forcing us to team up as much as possible in her class… I guess she thought I was playing “hard to get”… not actually trying to get away.

    Luckily in college, my experience wasn’t bad, and I haven’t really dealt with a bully since. But I agree that you should never give a bully, especially a cyber bully, power. If you can’t use their negativity to build your case, just ignore them. They seek the rise out of us, the frustration and loss of hope. The worst thing you can do to them is not give them even a nanosecond of attention.

  139. You have written a wonderful article here about not only the torments you went through but, how to overcome it in this digital age. I appreciate your words of wisdom and for sharing the pain you have had to deal with.

  140. Wow! Fantastic post. Thank you so much. I think most of us have dealt with bullies at one point in time. People will always find ways to stir up hate.

  141. Bullying tactics only strengthen our resolve. Without conflict we have nothing to write about. If you never experienced unhappiness, how would you know the feeling of happiness? Same with love and hate. It’s much easier to avoid bullies on the ‘net than in the workplace or school playground. You don’t have to read their spiteful comments. Yes, the Goodreads and Amazon mafia have stomped all over me and my books. It gave me a taste of what it must be like to be really famous. Along with all the adulation there’s the flip side of envy and jealousy. That’s life — and it’s good material for writers!

  142. What a sad world we live in!

    1. But a GREAT one too full of WANAs ;).

    • Jandy on January 3, 2014 at 7:42 am
    • Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. It really hit home. Your group is wonderful, and your encouragement is priceless.

  143. Good for you for doing something so positive to stand up to bullies! I wasn’t bullied, but my daughter was and it was horrible. Thank you for being so open and honest.

    • Julee J. Adams on January 3, 2014 at 7:55 am
    • Reply

    Yes, I had the bully who put the thumb tacks in my chair in history class, but it wasn’t any thing near as bad as what you went through. I ignored her friend request on FB and even after over 30 years, felt a petty satisfaction that she’d had a rotten life. There are too many toxic people in the world and you are right, The Interwebs allow enough distance to let them thrive. I’ve been following SF writer John Scalzi’s “Whatever” blog and he published a book The Mallet of Loving Correction about trolls. He also started a movement of authors and fans to only attend SF conventions that have a stated anti-harassment policy. Thanks for your advice. So sorry you had those experiences.

    • Shari on January 3, 2014 at 7:56 am
    • Reply

    Great article. I have also been surprised at the amount of nasty posts and trolling that goes on. Take a look at pretty much any You tube video to see how quickly comments devolve into nastiness, name calling and bullying. Thanks for writing an article on this subject. This really has gone on long enough and hopefully the less we tolerate bullies, the more they will retreat and hopefully, disappear.

  144. Broken spirits, broken hearts. Only belief in one’s self will repair the damage done so viciously by ignorant beings. I get back at my bullies by turning them into either victims or crazies in my novels.

    1. Not cool advertising your book on someone else’s blog, Dawn.

      1. Probably my fault. I allow it sometimes if it’s within context.

    • Mary L Gessner on January 3, 2014 at 8:11 am
    • Reply

    Love your entire article. I, too, had very few friends in school (for similar reasons: poor, moved a lot, very shy), and I would fake illnesses so I could stay home and read a book. However, I didn’t realize that bullies harassed published authors. It makes NO sense to me to trash someone’s work. If you don’t like it, or you disagree with the the content, you can politely voice your opinion and leave it at that. So sorry you had to go through what you did as a child and as an adult. But GOD bless you now.

  145. Good to see yet another support effort. Two primary ring leaders were recently deleted from GR. I figure the 1-star carpetbombers will all get eradicated next. What was once a 200+ strong vandalism group has been reduced to 10-ish hardcore trolls, partly because some of their own members saw the lunacy of the real sociopaths that never quit. Turning on some of their own authors didn’t help their cred.

  146. Goodreads is pretty good about addressing bullying comments. I had an issue with a “reviewer” (I put that in quotes because, let’s face it, anyone with access to a keyboard thinks they can review books, even if they themselves are barely literate). This person was not only defamatory, but posted outright lies about me. I emailed Goodreads and they promptly ordered the offending poster to remove the lies.

    The problem is that people on Goodreads tend to troll in posses. If someone doesn’t like an author, they get their online “friends” to post nasty reviews to support them. There doesn’t seem to be much you can do to make others behave better, not in the internet age.

  147. Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times in 2008 that says, “The study, published in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychology, suggests that the brain’s natural impulse for empathy may be disrupted in the brain of a bully, leading to increased aggression.

    “While the study is small, the striking differences shown in the brain scans suggests that bullies may have major differences in how their brains process information compared to non-bullies. Dr. Decety said the aggressive adolescents showed a strong activation of the amygdala and ventral striatum, areas of the brain that respond to feeling rewarded. The finding “suggested that they enjoyed watching pain,” he said.

    1. But I wonder what comes first. For instance, if I use improper form when lifting weights, I can ruin muscular symmetry. So if I have a hunched stance, is it because I have asymmetrical muscular development? Yes. But the asymmetrical development stemmed from focusing on overdeveloping one set of muscles and ignoring the other. We live in a society that rewards bullies, Type A competitive people and win-at-all-cost mentalities. Is the change in the brain a “you are born with it thing” or is it a “you never were encouraged to participate in activities that developed empathy and compassion” thing?

      I have three years as a Neuroscience major, and while I am certainly no expert, I do have more knowledge than the average person. The brain has amazing plasticity. And even if people are born being naturally more aggressive, there are studies that indicate alcoholism and proclivity toward pedophilia is also in the genes. We don’t tolerate raging drunks in public or the workplace and entire law enforcement agencies are dedicated to getting kiddie predators off the streets.

      Thus the argument, “I am wired that way” doesn’t excuse bullying. Humans aren’t dogs. We do have choices. But I do still find the studies fascinating (though I don’t think DNA is a “Get Out of Consequences FREE Card.”

      1. I agree that “I’m wired that way” is not an excuse. In fact, could this knowledge to identifiably potential bullies be used before they become active, and then intervene?

        I bet that question would kick off a debate of monumental proportions liked to the individual freedom issue and government as big brother.

        I also think that a bully might be created by a mixture of genetics and poor parenting that leads to kids becoming bullies. For instance, we now know from a mountain of research that there are genetic triggers that are activated by lifestyle choices that lead to diabetes, heart disease, and most cancers, etc. In fact, I’ve read that 84% of disease is caused by lifestyle choices activating these genetic triggers. To avoid flipping those genetic switches, once we know we have those genetic triggers, means we have to plan our lifestyle to avoid activating the killer genes.

        Therefore, if a child has genetic triggers—a predisposition—to become a bully and the parents/guardians do not address this issue before the trigger is activated, the child becomes a bully.

        But if tests/brain-scans identified the bully gene early, and then parents were trained to intervene to stop the child from becoming a bully, the trigger might be controlled.

        But for those who slip through that first proposed line of defense and became bullies, maybe there should be a Bullies Anonymous 12 step program. I’m sure that most bullies—once addicted to the false sense of power that brings them pleasure—would not voluntarily go to such a program but a judge could order it while the bully was serving time in prison. Just a thought.

        1. You should read today’s post since you inspired it :D.

  148. Wow, what a story! I’m so sorry you grew up dealing with all that hatred. I know that I don’t really know you except for reading your blog, but it’s hard to imagine people treating you that way. I know that doesn’t really matter. Bullies are bullies and they pick on their victims to make themselves feel powerful and strong. I just can’t wrap my head around how full grown adults convince themselves that it’s appropriate to treat another human being that way. Thanks for sharing your story, Kristen!

    1. I agree that “I’m wired that way” is not an excuse. In fact, could this knowledge to identifiably potential bullies be used before they become active, and then intervene?

      I bet that question would kick off a debate of monumental proportions liked to the individual freedom issue and government as big brother.

      I also think that a bully might be created by a mixture of genetics and poor parenting that leads to kids becoming bullies. For instance, we now know from a mountain of research that there are genetic triggers that are activated by lifestyle choices that lead to diabetes, heart disease, and most cancers, etc. In fact, I’ve read that 84% of disease is caused by lifestyle choices activating these genetic triggers. To avoid flipping those genetic switches, once we know we have those genetic triggers, means we have to plan our lifestyle to avoid activating the killer genes.

      Therefore, if a child has genetic triggers—a predisposition—to become a bully and the parents/guardians do not address this issue before the trigger is activated, the child becomes a bully.

      But if tests/brain-scans identified the bully gene early, and then parents were trained to intervene to stop the child from becoming a bully, the trigger might be controlled.

      But for those who slip through that first proposed line of defense and became bullies, maybe there should be a Bullies Anonymous 12 step program. I’m sure that most bullies—once addicted to the false sense of power that brings them pleasure—would not voluntarily go to such a program but a judge could order it while the bully was serving time in prison. Just a thought.

    2. Sorry, Nicole, I meant to put my reply in another thread and posted it under your comment by accident.

    • earlswynn on January 3, 2014 at 10:18 am
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on E.S. Wynn's Other Blog and commented:
    Great points. Definitely a must-read.

  149. Thank you so much for this article–it hits home for me.

  150. Starve them.
    Wisdom Incarnate.
    Thank you for this.

  151. wow, that is some pretty intense bullying. Your childhood sounded much like mine until the date. And your co-worker! CRAZY!!! I’ve had some bad co-workers, but nothing like that harpie.

    Great tips. I like the one best about not engaging. The few times I did engage, because I didn’t know any better, I felt worse. It doesn’t do any good. They are purposely being hateful and unreasonable, which means engaging will only get you going down the same road they are. I think we all know where that road goes.

  152. I was bullied as a kid too. Seems like being a redhead made me a target for all who don’t like “different.” Fortunately, so far, the internet has been good to me, but I’m keeping this post. It’s just a matter of time before I’ll need this sage advice for real.

  153. I agree with the concept – acknowledging bullies feeds them, boosts their meanness. It is best to ignore them, as much as you can. But… like Kenny Rogers sang, “Sometimes you’ve got to fight tobe a man”. Just pick your fights.

    • Felicia on January 3, 2014 at 11:03 am
    • Reply

    Very touching. Thank you for sharing. Your perseverance and willingness to help others are already turning things around and making a difference.

    • Linda Ramirez on January 3, 2014 at 12:29 pm
    • Reply

    Great article. I had to watch both my children deal with bullies in Jr. High and it broke my heart. We had been fortunate that in both instances and were able to have an educator support us to stop it. The bullying stopped in both cases.

    I worked in a school and brought a situation of bullying to a principle and she told me it was just ‘kids’ so I called the parents. I didn’t care if I never received a call to sub at that school again. The parents stepped in (they were unaware of it) and were able to stop the bullying. I didn’t get called back until they fired that principle and got a new one. And yes, the parents followed up with others in charge and part of the reason of the principles firing was over her lack of action in this abuse. What broke my heart was that this girl suffered in silence for two years prior to this.

    Bullies are insecure, angry and very ugly people.

    As an adult I had someone try and bully me on Facebook (it was several people), I blocked them but watched others stay in touch and tolerate their cruelty. No human being deserves to be abused by another. I asked one person why she put up with it, and she said, “Oh, they are really nice people.” It left me dumbfounded that adults could be so ignorant.

    Thank you for giving us this information and sharing your story. I have not been published yet and this is one of my biggest fears. I’m reassured with knowing their are steps to take to stop this.

    • pjsandchocolate on January 3, 2014 at 12:42 pm
    • Reply

    While I’m not published, I have decided to adopt pseudonyms for my writing when I finally get it out. We live in a very conservative city (surrounded by 5 military bases within 20 minutes of downtown) and finding a day job is hard enough without having publicly written something that a potential employer could find objectionable – be it fiction or non-fiction. While it would show up on a background check, pseudonyms make the potential employer breathe easier because your name isn’t easily recognizable to clients.

  154. I’ve always been amazed at the goodreads bullying you find. Great article, and great advice! I’ll definitely keep this bookmarked incase I need Jay’s help 😉

  155. As an outside observer to your species, I notice the females are more vindictive to each other that the males. The females never stop, even after the formal education process. The males get bored with the whole thing and those who keep it going probably have some dominant female gene.

  156. Good column. Thanks for sharing your ordeal. The detail and color almost made me feel the hate that was showered on you.I admire your grit and determination. You beat the bullies and won. Congrats!

    1. We can be bitter or better. Better is more fun ;).

  157. I was abused in school, and a couple of my children were also. Trashy reviews on books… ah yes, I’ve had a couple, ironically on a book that’s been a top seller. I also received a review in which I was accused of plagiarism because my publisher was listed on my book and she had a similar name to someone who had stolen another author’s books. Amazon actually took that one down when I threatened them with legal action for allowing it to stand – an obvious slanderous attack on my character that had nothing to do with the book it was attached to. But it stayed up a week because – just as with school systems – Goodreads and Amazon would prefer to not get involved.

    1. Good for you for standing up. I think if more of us did, things would change for the better :D.

  158. Great post. I sympathise with your plight! I find it amazing that people can be bothered to spend so much time and effort making another person’s life unpleasant. However, at two schools and numerous places of work I can confirm that there has been a person who has devoted their ife to making mine as miserable as possible. Why I am worth the effort I simply cannot fathom.

    I cringe at the reviewers who bully authors and the authors who bully reviewers.

    It’s sad and pointless.



    • Jamallah Bergman on January 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm
    • Reply

    I myself had been bullied( from 3rd grade until I graduated high school) so I know exactly how you feel. I hated going to school on a daily basis because I was mainly picked on because I was shy by both the black & white kids amongst many other things.
    It got to the point that I had to go and get some serious counseling because if not, I wouldn’t be here writing this message.
    I stopped looking at my own reviews as of late because of the constant bullying reviews I’ve gotten especially from on Goodreads. The only time I’ve gone on there is to accept friends request.

    It’s bad enough to criticize someone work like some people do but to go on a hunt to bad mouth them is another. When someone makes any comment about my work, it does hurt but I won’t give them the satisfaction of me going off on them. Because that is what most of them want.

  159. I was bullied in school and I fought back, discovering years later that they were afraid of me (I’m female, the bullies were both genders (not at the same time, that would be weird)) but it didn’t stop them. Probably they found it a challenge. I could ignore them until I was blue in the face, another challenge. There is no way to win against such behaviour. I discovered that being amusing was a better way to defuse things.

    Interestingly, I went on a school trip for a week or so and we were encouraged to keep a journal of it, for a prize. I won, as I wrote so much I had to start a second notebook (they were only small) and in the bus on the long journey home, many people wanted to read it. They seemed to find my writing entertaining. Maybe it was finding out I was a real person under the weirdness, or being entertained, but I was actually bullied less after that. And it was the first writing I did which made me think my writing voice might be something people want to read.

  160. Thank you for writing directly to me. I have pockets of haters, but since October the hate hasn’t stopped, it just continues to grow into this massive terrible, ugly thing. I think I’ve reached celebrity status. Please don’t put me in your hat, let someone else win. I’m just so thankful you took this topic on and I’m deeply sorry for your pain.

  161. I am estatic to see this and see others standing up. I am not an author, but I try to write honest reviews for books I read and I’m a prolithic reader. I have found often that these Trolls will also target reviewers if reviewers write a review that supports the book or author under attack — even if you are not a friend or family of the author. For example, all of a sudden it’s like a pirahna attack and there will be a swarm of negative votes on amazon. I read Laurell K. Hamilton’s last 2 books and after writing honest positive reviews that were thoughtful and literate I found a swarm of negative votes. The first time it happened I was flabbergasted and at a loss of the why. The second time it happened, I looked at other reviews and I noted that other reivewers who wrote positive reviews around the same time also had a bunch of negtive votes. (I’m among Amazon’s top 20,000 reviewers based on the votes on my reviews.) Another reviewer I know who writes fabulous reviews whether positive or negative and he got attacked. He didn’t stand for it and pointed out the Troll. An author friend of mine also recently got attacked and the Troll even wrote in their review that they hadn’t read the book.

  162. I’ve been reading through the comments and I thought my bullying tale was bad but some of you have had a horrible time and I’m so sorry. Here’s my story. I was an admin on a FB site and according to the rules of the page authors were not allowed to post spam except in certain areas. I pm’ed an author who didn’t follow the rules and gave her a link on where to post her spam. She apologized and i thought that was the end. I was very wrong. I copied the whole conversation because it started with this:

    C* ****T writes—– I belong to several groups that claim to be professional writers and promoters. However, when I post things about writing, promotions, or creative distribution, the same slutty group of wanna be writers are offended. It does some people good to be offended. I do not write excerpts to sex novels that never get published, for the lubrication of some woman’s ego. I am a writer. If that offends anyone, unfriend me.
    C* ****T— Author Atty Eve is the leader of the groups I speak of. She has a small following of so called authors who actually hurt those who are trying to promote themselves and break into the industry.

    I responded by telling this husband and wife team that they can post on the FB page but it has to be posted in the proper place. They called me horrible things, continued to trash me online and said that i spent all day taking down posts of other authors and that 20 others agreed and said I did the same thing. I took down 1 post and i asked them to prove the rest. they said FB warned them about me that my account was suspicious, they could not prove this either.
    But the whole time i remained professional and controlled my language. Even now i won’t post the name of their promotional company. It was sad it happened but I met a lot of great people who came to my aid and told them they were bullying me and they were trashing me.
    I also found out this man has done this before to others in our industry. I was upset and deep in my mind I wish i knew how to give someone a computer virus, but alas, i cannot and that’s probably a good thing.
    I think if i had responded with anything other than complete professionalism that the outcome would have been worse.

    Maybe i’ll look into the computer virus thing— who’s with me?!

  163. I experienced three years of hell at the hands of a bully and when she graduated – she actually put me as her pet peeve in the yearbook.

    My silence was what drove her nuts and I’m trying to write about that period in my life but it’s hard to drudge through all that fear and hatred.

    My daughter has been begging me to write this book for years. I’m inclined to wait until my kids are out of high school – just because my escape was not the most healthy route to take, but it got me through and I’m stubborn, so I refused to let them know they got under my skin. It’s tough to internalize all that angst, never mind the normal emotions of high school. I have to admit – I never thought about suicide, because it just isn’t in my make up and of course that would mean the bullies won. And that wasn’t going to happen – not with my stubborn streak. However, I can see where some folks without the right support system at home would be inclined to give up and think that is a viable solution to their problems – but really, it is the farthest from the truth.

    Life is precious and how you react to situations is in your control. I was advised to ignore them and told my safety wasn’t guaranteed off school grounds, so my mother had to drive me to and from school because there was no bus from my house. I learned to bottle up my emotions and it’s shaped the way I react to this day.

    But even those those years were hell, I actually won that battle. The evidence is in that yearbook. I got under her skin so much, she named me as her pet peeve. Silence was golden in this case, but I have never allowed anyone to treat me that way again. I stopped being an easy victim the moment those girls graduated. My senior year one of the newer gang members decided to take it upon herself to continue the bullying. I snapped at her – told her to f-off – it was my senior year and I wasn’t going to take the crap this year. I had enough venom in my words that the girl actually stepped away from me – shocked and a little unnerved – and no one bothered me after that.

    I do talk with my kids about bullying and how wrong it is and am proud to say my son has stepped in a time or two in defense of kids being harassed. He’s a small kid, too – but when one of the bullies took a swing at him, he used the skills we insisted he learned (juditsu) and the kid found himself on the ground.

    I’ve always told my kids to stand up for themselves and my daughter was a bit more reserved than my son and she didn’t have the benefit of martial arts, but she has always had the “last word” habit – so she was really no fun to bully – she never acted the part of silent victim or easy victim.

    My advice – choose your stance.

    If you choose silence, know that it may be a longer ride, but you will get under the skin of your aggressor. Just do it with your head held high and save the anger, tears and fear for when you are alone. In other words, do not play the part of victim.

    If you choose to confront – expect it to be ugly and make sure you have the right resources for defense – use smart verbal responses as opposed to derogatory comments and on the physical side, make sure you have some self defense techniques at your disposal – but either way,only use the resources to deflect an attack. Never use them to go on the offensive because then you are stepping into the role you abhor.

  164. I am really very glad to have found you (and others) who are standing up for writers. It is a hard enough gig as it is, without anonymous gangs turning what we do into a kind of blood sport. I’m not sure how things will wash up, but much happier to be on the raft with friends than alone. Enough mixed metaphors for one comment post…. over and out!

  165. I must be completely ignorant about Goodreads and the Gangs of Bullies. I had never heard of a “Goodreads Petition” nor what it asks Goodreads/Amazon to do. I’ve seen nasty comments/reviews, mostly on news sites where the illiterate feel comfortable disagreeing with the story, the author, the other commenters, etc., but I was not aware of the extent to which you all seem to have experienced this personally. I’ve seen the Amazon Forums, which were obviously so populated by people who think they are important because they can dominate some forum or another that there is absolutely no point in attempting to use them. I was not, however, aware of the type of bullying reviews you are describing. I have published short stories in three anthologies in a series and we got one review that was an ad hominem attack on our editor and the price of the book (??). Several people simply replied that her review was not pertinent because it did not discuss the actual book or the stories in it and they clicked the “No” button under “Was this review helpful?” She only tried to respond snarkily a couple of times and then disappeared. Where would one find this Goodreads Petition?

  166. Ah, but look at you now MamaWANA! 😉 xx

    • Sandy on January 4, 2014 at 11:38 am
    • Reply

    I know of two authors who were bullied so badly on Goodreads -both-no longer write. The ‘bullying’ was abusive; the attacks were personal; and the bullies continued for months after. One thing I did notice is that the author continued to ‘try’ and address the bully’s comments which only added fuel to the fire. One piece of advice: never engage an online bully-they hide behind the virtual anonymity of the internet, with nothing else to do all day but attack other people.

  167. Happy New Year Kristen. I’ve nominated you for The Sweet Blogger’s award. You can see the details here:

  168. Yeah i’ve experienced the same thing you have so many times even in school. Sadly, I went from victim to victimizer for awhile. Its not hard really if you are strong enough, (Physically or mentally it doesn’t matter which), like your blog about neuroscience, the body will adapt the mind bends, sometimes snapping in two, to all situations. I spent several years deprogramming myself out of that “engage all abuse with lethal intent” mind-set. Many times I fall into the “it would just be so easy to take this one troll out of the world permanently” or the “no one will miss me when I’m gone” mindset that you always have to keep a vigil.

    Its one of the other major reasons I subscribed to your blog, it helps to know i’m not the only one suffer/has suffered through it.

    • Rachel Thompson on January 4, 2014 at 6:43 pm
    • Reply

    Bullies aren’t that hard to understand. I used my geek powers to learn all about what makes them tick. Mostly, they are low level sociopaths and psychopath mixed with parts of megalomania,the psychology of the other, and authoritarian psychology. It’s good to understand them for two reasons: First, knowing what they are really makes them powerless inside your mind and heart. Monsters deserve no consideration or respect. No need to extend your humanity toward them. Second, you can write a really believable villain.

    1. Yep I’m with you there.

  169. Kristen I have had the good fortune of not being bullied but I had tears in my eyes and a deep sadness in my heart as I read this post. My daughter had trouble in high school not because she was poor but because of the way she looked being a big busted girl. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. Bullying cannot and should not be tolerated by anyone. There needs to be a zero tolerance in society of these folks who think taunting others is okay.

    1. They don’t care. I was flat-chested and they tormented me. They find the most ridiculous elements to hone in on, and our job is to teach our kids to not take them seriously and let the problem remain THEIRS.

  170. Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    This is not the usual topic of my blogs but I felt the need to share this. My daughter was bullied to an extent in high school and it even continued into junior college. This should never ever be allowed.

  171. Kristen; What a horrible experience you went through. You are obviously a very resilient person with strong character to withstanding such degrading treatment and survived to achieve all that you have accomplished. I’m not for a minute suggesting that the bullying ‘toughened you up’. That line of thinking is just nonsense. I have not experienced bullying, but my daughter did. She was embarrassed by it and it took a few months before she told us. The school tried to soft-pedal the whole thing, but when it kept happening we became more outspoken in our meetings with the principal. It did stop, but by then the damage was done. Our daughter changed schools, and bullying was no longer a problem.
    A closely related issue is gossip, and gossip is often propagates bullying or is used to justify it. The spreading of rumors, half-truths and outright lies are unfortunately common in many workplaces and is very hard to deal with. The topic comes up in one of my novels (as yet unpublished)

    “That’s not what I heard,” said Belmont. “The two of you were in a booth gazing across the table at each other like a couple of high school kids.”
    “Oh, shit,” said Rockland, “I’ll bet it was Nancy, wasn’t it? That restaurant is an after shift nurse’s hangout.”
    “Nancy said she walked right by you and you didn’t even notice her. You know the hospital, Scott. The only thing that spreads faster than a virus at that hospital is gossip. Anyway, when are you going to settle down and get married?” Life becomes a whole lot easier without the perpetual skirt chasing ritual of bachelorhood.”

    I’ve only been following you for a short time Kirsten, but I really like your posts.Keep them coming.