Thursday, September 29, 2011

The GASP PR disaster and public hissy fits

Does everyone remember The Greek Seaman meltdown earlier in the year, in which author Jaqueline Howett had a very public hissy fit ending in a shrill "get f*&^ed!" that went viral? Good god, if that doesn't teach an author to stay far, FAR away from the comments box at the bottom of review, I don't know what what will.

This cropped up in my Facebook feed today. My mind boggles. A customer with a legitimate complaint about a retail assistant at the Gasp Chapel Street store in Melbourne has received one of the most ridiculously catty, arrogant emails I have ever read. It's partly funny, partly mortifying.


If you live in Australia you've probably heard all about it by now. For my international readers, I've pasted the emails below.
Email by Keara O’Neil to GASP:
I had the privilege of shopping at your brand new Chapel St store on Saturday 24th September with my three bridesmaids in tow. On the hunt for bridesmaids dresses and a hens dress for myself we walked into the store and were automatically pounced on by a male staff member, I understand that this is protocol for many retail outlets and ours is no different.

The staff member was initially funny and extremely helpful with sizes etc. I chose a bright pink dress to try on but was unable to do the zip up so asked for the size up, when I eventually got the correct size and came out of the change room I was unable to discuss the likes or dislikes of the dress with my bridesmaids as the sales assistant kept saying “you should just get it”, when I told him I would think about it, he pulled me aside and whispered “Is it the price your worried about”. By now I was extremely frustrated, and again told him I’d think about it, I walked back into the change room and closed the door behind me, only to have it pushed open with the sales assistant half standing in my change room, again whispering “I think you should just get it”, when I gave him attitude and said rudely, “I already told you I would think about it”, he then replied, “With your figure I really think you should buy it”.

I’m not sure exactly what he meant by that, but considering the attitude used to deliver such a statement I can only imagine that it was an immature dig in relation to my healthy size 12 frame. I got changed in a hurry and walked right out of the change rooms and out of the store, I could hear the sales assistant yelling out to me, but I just ignored him and continued to leave, assuming my bridesmaids would follow. After waiting down the road for my bridesmaids to come out of the store I was told by one of them that the sales assistant yelled out “Have fun finding something at Supre”, when one of them approached him in regards to his comments, he replied “I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in”. When my bridesmaids walked out of the store another two customers walked out with them, they too could not believe the immaturity of the sales assistant.

I have worked in retail for 12 years and have come across an array of customer complaints over the years, none of which come even close to what I encountered on Saturday at your store, I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for your company this person actually exists and is working in one of your stores. I am pretty laid back and was quite happy just leaving your store, it was my bridesmaids who felt the need to say something to him………I dread to think how many customers he has not only offended but how many customers have left your store due to the pressure placed on getting the sale, and then to be harassed when that sale hasn’t taken place.

Ring me, don’t ring, not fussed………I’m just one retailer notifying another of an extremely inappropriate sales assistant.
Keara O'Neil

Response by GASP area manager Matthew Chidgey:
Dear Keara O’Neil,
Having now had the privilege of having both version of events, I am now in a position to respond to your complaint.

From the very outset, one thing that you should be mindful of is; Our product offerings are very, very carefully selected, so to ensure that we do not appeal to a broad customer base. This is something which is always at the forefront of our minds when undertaking buying duties.

The reason for this is to ensure that we only carry products which appeal to a very fashion forward consumer. This by default means that the customer whom is acclimatised to buying from “clothing for the masses” type retailers, is almost frightened by our range, sometimes we have found that this type of customer, almost finds our dresses funny, and on occasion noted comments such as 'it looks like a dead flamingo'. When we receive comments like this, we like to give ourselves and our buyers, a big pat on the back, because we know we are doing our job right, and modus operandi is being upheld.

Our range is worn by A list celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez and Katy Perry to name only a few. Now, as one might appreciate, the style counsel for these types of celebrities are not ones to pick “run of the mill” type clothing, and they do so on the basis to ensure that the styles are cutting edge, and only worn by a select few. Similarly these items are priced such that they remain inaccessible to the undesirable.

Insofar as our employee goes; Similar to our product offerings, our employees are selected with a similar approach. Chris whom served you is a qualified stylist whom has a sixth sense for fashion, and Chris’s only problem is that he is too good at what he does, and as I am sure you are aware, people whom are talented, generally do not tolerate having their time wasted, which is the reason you were provoked to leave the store.
Whilst I concede that you work for chain retailer, unfortunately that does not make us like for like. It is probably fair to assume, a lot of what I have said in this email, either doesn’t make sense to you, or you totally disagree with it all, which is what I would expect (unless of course I have you totally wrong – which I doubt).

Let me guess, you would never, ever hire Chris in the course of your duty, would you? This is the very reason, why your comment “from one retailer to another” is so disproportionate, it’s almost as though we are in a totally different industries. Chris is a retail superstar, who possess unparalleled ability, and I am sorry you feel upset by him, but he knew you were not going to buy anything before you even left your house.
So if you would like to do us any favours, please do not waste our retail staff’s time, because as you have already seen, they will not tolerate it. I am sure there are plenty of shops that appease your taste, so I respectfully ask that you side step our store during future window shopping expeditions.
Thank you for your enquiry.

Wow. Just wow. There have been several instances in the last few months when I've felt the urge to respond to someone's attitude on Twitter or their Goodreads review, but this reminds me all over again to hold my tongue and be professional.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writing Advice #4: Recombining Ideas

I've been over at the Inside a Dog blog all month posting about books and writing. Today I've put up some wordy goodness about recombining ideas to create plots and to read all about it you'll have to go here.

Beware the dog. He slobbers. Wuff!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blood Storm Book #2 Teaser

Hey y'all, happy Monday! It's an oxymoron, right? But it's a brand new week, and after a very strange and stressful week last week in which I undid all the good my chiro snapped and crackled into my spine, I think we need some looking forward!*

And YE GODS I am looking forward to this! Did you get a second edition copy of Blood Song with the teaser for Blood Storm? There were only 1000 printed so PRAPS NOT. Some lovely person has typed it into Goodreads and I'm going to reproduce it here. It's got one of my favourite quotes from the book.

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue. 

I spoke a single word. ‘Rain.’

In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

Zeraphina's got some new mad skillz, eh? And Rodden, what's up with him and his dark, shadowy crankiness? And this prince Renata's got her eye on ... well, I'll give you a hint. He's no Prince Charming, let me tell YOU.

You can add Blood Storm on Goodreads here. Available August 2012.

*Going on dates the month your book comes out, turns *interesting* idea. And yet I've just agreed to another this week. (What can I say. I have a weakness for handsome French men. Who the hell doesn't.) A different young man, whom I was introduced to at a BBQ last night while another friend was PEGGING ME INTO A BLANKET. True story. (I was cold.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Boo-yah! RHA Children's Top Ten

At the risk of this blog turning into some sort of brag book (oh god it is, it is, but after the agony of waiting for publication and wondering how the book is going to be received I just can't help celebrate these little victories) here's where Blood Song appeared at the end of four weeks of sales:

Too small? Try this one:

In the world of emoticons, to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper, I am colon capital O. This doesn't mean Blood Song is an Australian bestseller, but it's one of the top ten sellers at Random House Australia this week, and  is one of only two Aussie titles on the list. Boo-yah!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blood Song in the Wild

I have been quiet, haven't I? It's been four weeks exactly since Blood Song was released. What a month! It's attracted over 100 ratings on Goodreads and nearly half of them are 5 star reviews. THANK YOU ALL!

There have been some roastings, too, and I've been bracing myself for those. You can't please everyone, right? The upside is that every criticism the book has received has been something I did deliberately that turned out wasn't to a particular reader's taste. It was my intention to make Zeraphina a little bratty--real teenagers are often bratty. I deliberately eshewed complex world building because I find it tedious. It was my worst fear that I would bore my readers, as I loathe being bored. And no one's complained of anything of the sort!

One criticism that I spotted this morning is that Blood Song is somehow "un-Australian". I find that rather amusing! I'm not entirely sure, but I think they mean it's not literary enough, compared to other Australian fantasy novels. If it was my style I'd write like Melina Marchetta or Margo Lanagan, but clearly it's not. Who wants to read a copycat author anyway?

Haters gonna hate and all that. I'm backing off Goodreads a bit, though the following technique has helped a little: reading negative reviews of my favourite books by authors I adore. There's something reassuring about knowing that even the books I and so many others love attract negative reviews.

Two awesome things:

I got my first honest-to-gods fanmail the other day. I think she was using her dad's email account. SO LOVELY. And I hope it's not patronising to say so, ut pretty cute too.

Blood Song is being made available in Large Print and Braille editions, which I think is pretty damn cool!

More soon! Let me know what you think of Blood Song if you've read it this month, or where you've seen it in the wild.

And did I announce it officially? Blood Storm, book two, will be out August next year. Huzzzaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Supernatural Smackdown: VOTE! and Win!

You reckon Zeraphina is pretty badass, right? She's got the mad skills with her bow and arrow and the flair to match. Right now she's up against Kaliel of Evensess in round two of the Supernatural Smackdown and it's NECK AND NECK people! Literally. As I type it's 50-50.

You can vote for Zeraphina to go through to the next round right here.

Plus, you can read a post from Zeraphina about how badass she is, and you can also win a copy of Blood Song while you're there too.

Ready ... FIGHT!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blood Storm announcement and release date

It's here it's here huzzah! The Publisher's Marketplace announcement for Blood Storm, the Second Book of Lharmell, which is my cue to splash the news all over the interwebs.

If you own a second edition copy of Blood Song you already know its official thanks to the teaser for Blood Storm within...but STILL. Delicious officialness!

ANZ rights to Rhiannon Hart's BLOOD STORM, the sequel to BLOOD SONG, again to Zoe Walton at Random House Australia, by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown.

I've been keeping my fingers crossed for a release date before next September and it's just scraped through. Blood Storm will be released next August! Exact date TBC. I can't wait to start copyedits.

Pictures from the launch of Blood Song up shortly.

***EDIT: You can already add it on Goodreads.