Friday, August 17, 2012

Mauled by an Obese Catwoman

I try not to take shots at people very often. Well that's a lie... I take shots at people all the time for being stupid, lazy, hypocritical, etc. I don't usually feel good about it though. My target today seems to deserve it. Why am I annoyed right now? I got my first two one star reviews on Amazon on a couple of my e-books. I would be fine with that if they included constructive criticism. They didn't. Upon further research... I found out that this lady (who considers herself a reviewer of history) didn't even read anything I wrote.

This lady left a one star review on both "The Mormon Theocracy" and "Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings." Neither of her reviews show an "Amazon Verified Purchase" below them so the most she could have read was the sample. From what she criticizes, I doubt she read anymore than the page count and description. Here are her reviews of my history articles, which she hasn't read.

The Mormon Theocracy: Free

Review: Have you noticed a lack of concern on the part of readers? Perhaps that is because we don't think you have finished your research. You aren't ready to write. Try harder. And when you take 5 of your 'articles' and put them together, that doesn't do it either. While I think that your topics sound interesting, I would prefer to find someone else with the initiative to research and share that information with me. Your's is more a rush to publish than a concerted effort to share your thoughts with the reading public. Again I say "try harder".

Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings: $1.49

Review: I can't imagine how the writer can call himself an author when he hasn't bothered to research the topic enough to write more than a handful of pages. This, sir, does not make you an author! I believe that you have the ability to write, but not the initiative to adequately research your chosen topic and say enough to inlist a reading public. Try harder.

I've decided I won't be responding on Amazon because people have a right to say whatever they want about whatever they want... even when they don't know what they're talking about. My articles stand on their own. Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings gets a few sales every month and The Mormon Theocracy has been downloaded over 130 times. That doesn't mean that I won't take this opportunity to destroy this reviewer on my blog... it's been one of those days and this really annoyed me beyond my ability to not retaliate somewhere in some form. So here are some problems I have with my reviewer, the cat lady:

1. My reviewer is an obese cat lady.

I wouldn't poke fun at her for this except for the fact that she makes it obvious and it really does take away from her ability to critique me. Here are a few more of her reviews on Amazon:

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What is she wearing?, August 19, 2011
I have not bought this item. I will not buy this item. I wear plus sizes and this model clearly shows that a plus sized woman should NOT put this garment on her bod

5.0 out of 5 stars At last...a pill I can swallow., June 2, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
All the other joint pills are HUGE and I had so much trouble getting them down...and I had to do it twice! The Move Free Ultra is a small pill and I only have to take one. I have already reordered.

2.0 out of 5 stars They hurt., June 2, 2012
This review is from: David Tate Women's Yknot (Apparel)
The shoes are cute, but the thin straps and knots hurt as soon as I put them on. I knew I wouldn't be able to walk a block in them. I returned them.

5.0 out of 5 stars They WORK!, July 21, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought a couple of pair for a leaky cat of ours. We had tried diapers and at first he refused to walk in them. When he finally got over that fear, he'd take off running and in 10 minutes he'd stroll by "naked". Just couldn't keep the diapers on him no matter how tight we taped them. But Piddle Pants stay on, are less bulky, and do a good job. The pads are thin but hold a lot of urine. Great product.

5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Cocaine!, July 21, 2010
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Catnip Pellets 2 Oz (Misc.)
Pellets are not easy to find, and I hate the loose-leaf catnip. Too messy. This stuff is so good that my cats played with the box and the packing for hours. I had to hide the pellet packs where they couldn't get to them. I think they would have eaten it! Hurry and restock so I can keep this stuff in the house.

See what I mean? Her reviewer profile also has a picture of four cats with the heading "My Babies" underneath. How can you take a woman like that seriously on an intellectual topic other than... well I won't say anymore on this. I honestly just found this part funny. My first hater is an obese cat lady.

2. My reviewer is a hypocrite

While this lady enjoys lashing out at authors for poor spelling and bad grammar... she can't even write a review without screwing up herself. While not all of her reviews had mistakes, many of them did. Both of the reviews she wrote on my articles had mistakes.

The Mormon Theocracy
-"Your's" is not possessive in the way you want it to be. Yours should never have an apostrophe (look it up). The sentence you were trying to write would read a lot better like this: "Your works are more of a rush to publish than a concerted effort to share your thoughts with the reading public."

Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings
-It's spelled "enlist" not "inlist"

Using big words doesn't make up for the fact that you make mistakes on a consistent basis. Don't get me wrong here, I know I make mistakes and some of my works have typos. I don't chastise others for poor spelling and bad grammar, though.

3. My reviewer didn't read any of my articles

She doesn't feel the need to have that much information to give something a 1 star review. Going through her reviews, she gives out many 1 and 2 star reviews and then admits in her review that she never read the book. It extends further than that. In the review above where she admits that she is a plus size, she also admits that she hasn't bought the product she's reviewing and that she never would. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but every opinion is not an informed one. None of her opinions seem to approach the "informed" category unless we're talking about cat diapers and how much urine they can hold.

4. My reviewer knows nothing about history or history articles

History articles tend to narrow in on a specific topic and prove a thesis. I would say the following is a good list of what a solid history article contains:

-A clear, concise thesis statement that is as specific as you can make it
-Organizational structure that follows logically when proving the thesis
-Ample usage of primary and secondary sources
-A conclusion that presents something new to the field or helps you think about a topic in a new way

Now if an article has those five things, it can be an interesting, solid article because it makes for a good argument. My article on Constantine is a great example if you haven't read it but I did broaden the thesis to add in some interesting stuff that wasn't really relevant to what I was trying to prove. Gotta keep my Amazon readers awake :-P To help those of you out who don't write or read much history:

Historiography: refers either to the study of the methodology and development of "history" (as a discipline), or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic. (taken from To make it simpler, a historiography traces what scholars have said on a certain topic in the past. A historiography will make several cases from past scholars (some of which have been proven wrong) that eventually lead up to the thesis you wrote and the support you give to your thesis. It's almost like tracing the evolution of the topic.

Primary and Seconday sources: Primary sources are sources from the era of the topic you are discussing. For example, in my article, Caribbean Piracy: Pirates and Privateers, the journals of John Esquemeling are a primary source because they were written when he acted as a barber/surgeon and a pirate on board with Captain Morgan. Secondary sources are sources written after the time of the subject. Anything I write about history would be a secondary source unless I write about current events that I'm involved in or have witnessed in my lifetime. Scholars writing today using primary sources would be considered secondary sources.

So while my article The Mormon Theocracy doesn't contain a historiography (and I couldn't include one when my professor gave us a five page limit), it does contain all the other elements. Also, neither Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings or The Mormon Theocracy claim to be an exhaustive book on the topic. Let's be honest, would any of you want to read a 400 page non-fiction book on a topic like Caribbean piracy? If you do, I envy the amount of time you have available. Most people wouldn't... is what I'm guessing. It doesn't mean you don't have an interest in the topic which is why I provide much shorter articles that can familiarize you with the topic, give you some key points, and give you my perspective.

I wanted to add in here as well that most of the online databases that history majors use for secondary sources (JSTOR, SSCI, etc) all contain published journal articles that average between five and twenty pages. Trust me, I've read through hundreds of them. Sometimes I would read partway into one, find it wasn't relevant to my topic, and move on to more. Most of them are about that length. When I'm trying to find good secondary sources, I have to choose the information that is most relevant to my topic and most helpful in proving my thesis. If I use a 400 page secondary source, I will never end up using all of it.


While I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, I am very much against how many people in today's society seem to hero worship themselves. Not everything that pops into your head is gold, or even silver or bronze. I'll be the first to admit that I'm wrong sometimes. I'm wrong on occasion even when I'm pretty sure I'm right. There are too many people that can't admit that to themselves or others. You may be right a lot of the time. You are not right 100% of the time. If your intent is to break someone down and you know nothing about the subject... you're wrong before you even say anything. When it comes to history articles I research and write, my opinion is fairly informed. I would assume that most readers are not yet informed but they would like to be and that's why they purchase my articles.

Months of research went in to most of my articles. Like I said earlier, I constantly run into sources that I initially think will be helpful and then I find out that they aren't. When writing Constantine, I made major changes to my thesis and the organizational structure of my paper four times. So whether you know something on the subject or not, you shouldn't ignorantly dismiss an informed opinion. You can disagree with me all you want but reading my description, looking at my page count, and then calling me uninformed just shows how ignorant you are. Thank you, obese cat lady, for giving me a reason to lash out against the ignorant. I also really hope that the next time I'm stalked by a Catwoman... that it's Anne Hathaway.


  1. This is nitpicky and has no relation to the cat lady parts of this post, but:

    You say "Let's be honest, would any of you want to read a 400 page non-fiction book on a topic like Caribbean piracy?" But then, later you say "If I use a 400 page secondary source, I will never end up using all of it." So we can both recognize that you might *use* a source that long, you just wouldn't consume it like you would a book that was written for a general audience. It's still useful, it's still good that it exists, it's just written for a different audience.

    I reference books that I haven't read all the time if they make a point I need to make. I might have a 400+ page book on Pleistocene mammals of North America on my Christmas list, but there's no way I'm going to read the whole thing. It's just a very cool reference, and I'll probably read a chapter or two and keep it on my bookshelf. It contains a level of detail on the subject that I wouldn't find anywhere else, talking at length about individual fossil discoveries.

    But, it's not that I wouldn't read it because it's so long - it's actually shorter than Harry Potter. It's just so content-dense that it wouldn't be entertaining like Harry Potter is.

    So, my point is, who's your target audience for these articles? It seems to me that either you're going for an academic audience, in which case length matters less than quality and content density (and publishing in a journal or through an academic press is the most likely avenue to appeal to such an audience), or it's more of a general audience, in which case it probably wouldn't be written like a typical historical article, but would be "dumbed down" (not offensively, but so that it's consumable by someone without a history degree) quite a bit to appeal more broadly. Or maybe something in between.

    I'm completely ignorant about historical literature, so maybe you can answer this. Science articles are comparable to history articles in length, ranging from a few to 20+ pages, but generally they make exactly one point, and the point is the title of the article. Random example: "Competition between seed-eating rodents and ants in a desert ecosystem." The article is three pages long, but it's hyper-specialized and only discusses this one very narrow thing. Are history articles the same way? It seems to me that what you're doing is taking a broader topic, such as the history of Caribbean pirates, and condensing it to a shorter length by scaling back the level of detail.

    I probably wouldn't leave a review on your articles, just because I wouldn't consider myself qualified to address their content. I think if you're able to hone in on exactly what type of audience you're targeting, you'll hopefully be able to cater to that audience and get some more constructive feedback.

    1. Let me elaborate and clarify a little bit.

      I agree that there is a use for reference books and I included in this post that I use very lengthy secondary sources. It's great that they exist. Where I take issue with my reviewer is her stance that nothing has merit unless it is a reference of that size. You and I both know that shorter articles are able to address a specialized or specific topic without being that long.

      To give you an example, my article on Prayer is titled Prayer: Archangels and Intercessory Beings. That's a general title. I intended it to be a very general title to bring in a more general readership. You were correct in assuming as well that I was addressing a more general audience (or I would have submitted to journals). While the title is general, however, the description is as follows:

      "The use of intercessory beings in prayer hasn’t always been the normal accepted practice. As Christianity and paganism began to merge under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, many elements that existed within paganism were “Christianized” and adapted for use by the Church. This article will trace a possible origin for the use of intercessory beings in Christian prayer and will use evidence from the scriptures and non-canonical Christian books to weigh the use of intercessory beings against prayer directed specifically to God. Sources include the Book of Tobit, the story of Joseph and Aseneth, the Book of Daniel, the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the appearances of the Archangel Gabriel in the New Testament."

      In my description, I list what I'll be trying to prove as well as several of my primary and secondary sources. The article starts out by discussing a possible origin for the cult of the saints (by discussing Greek hero worship and veneration and how it transitioned into Christianity) and then moves on to examine primary source documents (i.e. scriptures both canonical and non-canonical that I listed) and whether those stories show prayers addressed to God directly or through intercessory beings. Tobit is an interesting example because while both characters that prayed did so directly to God, God chose to send the Archangel Raphael. Raphael presented the prayer to God and could be seen as intercessory but that isn't the point. The prayer was addressed to God and not through Raphael. My specific point is that prayer directly to God seems to be the original method and the evidence points to intercessory beings as a later addition.

      My target audience with my articles is a general audience. I didn't write these to be read by history students or the academic community. That being said, I did dumb them down a little in the sense that I added information in some cases that would be more interesting than applicable to my thesis. I didn't remove much from the original. I guess, in that sense, it could be seen as your "something in between" option.

      You're also correct in assuming that I took broad topics and condensed them to a shorter length by focusing in on a certain time period or certain element. I think that makes them more readable and interesting to a general readership.

      I understand your point as well why you wouldn't want to leave a review on my articles. I think that's why I got so frustrated at this reviewer. You seem to grasp what I'm trying to do here a lot more than she does and she still felt justified reviewing something based solely on page length. I would assume she had no background in these subjects either (that's what her reviews lead me to believe). I, likewise, would never feel justified in reviewing a biology article you wrote because I clearly haven't put in the same amount of time in researching the topic. I can ask questions, I can seek clarification, but to do much beyond that without researching the subject almost to the point that you have would seem ignorant and foolish.