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RJ Ellory’s “explanation,” absence from the conference, and Vic DiGenti’s killer session on writing novels

September 18, 2012

(My opinion and not the opinion of the FWA, its leadership, members, or business partners. You know the drill.)

Vic DiGenti

As a result of the whole RJ Ellory fake-review mess, Vic DiGenti will deliver this year’s FWF celebrity workshop, How to Write Killer Fiction. Vic is an accomplished writer and a great teacher. This will be a worthwhile event from a trusted face. Although Vic doesn’t currently have RJ Ellory’s level of notoriety, he doesn’t have Ellory’s level of notoriety.

You see, the real victim in the whole RJ Ellory mess has been identified and it’s…RJ Ellory. Mr. Ellory has been hounded relentlessly since he manned up to take responsibility for his reasonable action of asking a family member to write a positive review for his work. Or so he’s told Chrissy Jackson, FWA President, in an e-mail that finally arrived yesterday–a full eleven days after the story of his alleged sock-puppetry hit the papers. (Sock puppetry is internet-speak for “posting fake stuff online.” Outside the Internet, it could be referred to as “lying.”)

Earlier this month, Ellory was quoted in the Telegraph as saying this (emphasis added):

“The recent reviews – both positive and negative – that have been posted on my amazon accounts are my responsibility and my responsibility alone,” he said.

“I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to apologise to my readers and the writing community.”

Which is it? Did he simply ask a family member to write a positive review, or did he write positive reviews for himself and negative reviews for others? Were the words those of a family member, or his personal opinions?

Mr. Ellory will not be appearing at the Conference, or at the Florida Writers Foundation fundraiser. He will not be associated with the next FWA collection, due out next year. His face won’t be on the cover of the collection.

FWA is about writers helping writers. You don’t help them by trashing them in Amazon reviews, something Mr. Ellory is on record as having done, something he’s on record as regretting. You don’t help them by blaming them when they get angry with you for that transgression, something Mr. Ellory did in his e-mail to the FWA.

The conference will go on. It’s too big and diverse not to. Roger Ellory’s absence from the fundraiser and the conference leaves a void. But it’s a void that doesn’t weaken the FWA or the conference. Writers helping writers implies a community. A community implies a level of accountability. It implies ethical responsibilities.

Whatever doesn’t add to that subtracts from it.

  1. September 18, 2012 2:54 pm

    Wow. I would never have put Ellory’s attendance on par with that of the importance of the conference, much less thought the conference might not go on because he’s not there! I certainly hope no one else is thinking that! The only reason I wanted to see RJE is because he’s a published writer and I thought he’d have something to offer. I am very happy Vic DiGenti is willing to do the workshop and because I’ve read him and know he is a truely a writer helping other writers. I am very happy to partake of his workshop! Plus, I’m happy my dollars will still be going to a good cause. Go Vic! And Go FWA for getting him in to take up the “slack” RJE left, so soon!

  2. September 21, 2012 1:37 pm

    This is one of the best writer’s blogs out there, so I’m sure the Florida Writers Conference is a great event. Someday I hope to quit my evil day job and attend.

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