Otherwise known as DON’T fuck with the interwebz!
Sometimes I think people forget how quickly something posted on the net can go viral. They also frequently forget that NOTHING on the net is private. Nothing is local. We are no longer isolated. All it takes is one person posting on Twitter or Facebook and bam – Interwebz craziness!
Today a local news station in Snyder County, PA aired a story about a high school teacher who writes erotic novels under a pen name. And the romance community exploded. I’m not even sure where it went viral but I happened to find the story in my Twitter feed while at work. Rather, I didn’t catch the original link (because Twitter feeds move like lighting people, especially when tweeps are pissed) but I caught the pissed off from several authors I follow. My day abruptly became more unproductive as I watched the interwebz and the romance community unleash its power. Whew – it has been awesome to watch.
Judy Mays, as her web page reports, is a “romantica writer extraordinaire who came to Earth with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal authors. Judy Mays! Who can write wild, wanton werewolves; adorable, alluring aliens; vexing, vivacious vamps; hot, haunting historicals; compelling, combustible contemporaries; sexy, surprising suspense, and cagey, cuddly kitty cats; and, who, disguised as a mild-mannered tenth grade English teacher in a small public high school, fights a never ending battle for Hot Hunks, Hip Heroines, and Salacious Sensuality!” Frankly I adore that bio because I am huge fan of snark and ironic humor. Judy has been rocking e-publishing since 2009 and has quite a back list.
Following the Twitter outrage people started posting links to the original story with video and the TV station’s Facebook page. A Support Judy Mays page was also started on Facebook – now with over 2,700 followers – and countless people discovered a new author. I personally purchased a book by Ms. Mays today (Dryads’ Tower – review soon hopefully!) and by reading posts on the FB page and the support page I am not the only one. Here is what really gets me about this whole mess. This woman has been a teacher for 25 years and I would think that, having 25 years under her belt, she’s pretty good at her job. According to the posts on FB and on the original news story many of her students credit her with having a huge, positive impact on their lives. However a teen-aged boy found out his teacher wrote erotic romance and told his mom. Bravo for the teen sharing anything with his mom because teens are not generally known for getting emo with their parents so I think mom must be doing something right. What sucks hard is she decided to exercise her right to explore the interwebz and through her mad clicking linked her son’s teacher with Judy Mays. In the news interview she says her son feels like this teacher is looking at him inappropriately and she has concluded its because the teacher writes erotic fiction.
I have a 16-year old daughter. As a parent I am wildly protective of my baby. At the same time though I don’t take everything she tells me as gospel truth and I generally try to talk to her about why she’s feeling the way she does. We had an epic fail of step-parenting a few summers ago and because I know my daughter I didn’t escalate the situation. I calmly discussed what happened with my daughter, my ex-husband and my ex-husband’s wife. We came to an agreement and all was well. The girl child wrote something in school which sent up red flags for the teacher, social services was contacted and my family, my ex’s family and my husband’s ex were investigated. All was resolved with no fault found with anyone. The social worker was quite amazed that we all had already discussed the situation and resolved the problem. My point in sharing my family drama is that my daughter exaggerated her story. I knew that because I know my child. I wonder if the boy who told his mom about his teacher’s books tends to exaggerate or if his views on the world and his life are always 100% in perspective.
Adults have a responsibility to protect children. Period. Blind protection is not true protection though. The entire school district most likely knows this boy’s name now – because his mother somehow figured that rather than solve a problem within the confines of the school district it was better to call the local news, get a few of her friends together and expose Judy Mays for the trash she surely is. This new story (and I use news loosely) is nothing but a piece of slander against someone who appears to be a well regarded community member. The school district provided no comment, Judy Mays did not respond to inquiry from the station and the viewpoints represented were solidly stacked against Mays. The only ones featured were the parents and a former student who helpfully said “I was shocked. If you are a teacher you shouldn’t be doing that”.
Wild assumptions were made by the parents who admitted to not reading erotic fiction and not being interested in doing so. They took these wild assumptions and placed someone’s career in jeopardy because of their ignorance. It’s sad and it’s irresponsible and lots of people agree. What has been amazing has been watching the support that the intewebz has shown Ms. Mays. It highlights that news agencies need to be responsible in their reporting and need to be savvy in responding to shit-storms (a-la Judith Griggs). Yes, it’ll blow over in a few days because we do have more important world events to pay attention to (Obama’s birth certificate) but in my mind it will continue to stand as a shining example of what happens when you fuck with the interwebz and with the romance community.
Links of interest regarding this story:
I’m sure there are tons more, but you get the idea right?
Poor choices all around here. Poor choices.