Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Twenty Years Ago Today: Scientology vs. the Internet

23 December 2014

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Twenty years ago today, the battle of Scientology vs. the Internet leveled up with the anonymous posting of secret Scientology scriptures to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Here’s what the Wikipedia page says:

On December 24, 1994, the first of a large number of anonymous messages was posted to alt.religion.scientology, containing the text of the “secret” writings of Scientology known as the OT Levels (OT stands for “Operating Thetan”).

There were five posts.
Large numbers of anonymous posts came months (and even years) later. The initial anon volley, however, was small.
As Wikipedia says:

Included among these postings was OT III (Operating Thetan Level Three), which gave L. Ron Hubbard’s description of the “Xenu story”.

Incorrect.
First, for those who don’t know the Xenu story, the tl;dr version is that due to overpopulation, Xenu ordered people brought in for an income tax audit, froze them, then brought them en masse to Earth where they were blown up in a volcano (Hawaii and Las Palmas, among others) with hydrogen bombs, sticking those spiritually frozen beings to others. And that, in order to be free, one has to audit all those beings stuck to you using Scientology’s expensive and confidential procedures.
In fact, a Class VIII course (which covers the materials of OT III) tape transcript had previously been posted non-anonymously to alt.religion.scientology by Dennis Erlich: tape 6810C03, titled Assists, that included information about Xemu. You can find a transcript linked from this page.
When Erlich posted the transcript, what did Scientology do?
Crickets.
That’s right. Nothing at all.
The first person to write anything publicly about Xenu was Robert Kaufman in his 1972 book, Inside Scientology: How I Joined Scientology and Became Superhuman. Links to the actual book: PDF and HTML

There were no offices available in which to discuss highly dangerous data, so we used a bathroom, Cramming perched on the edge of the tub, myself astride the throne.
“What don’t you understand about these instructions?” she asked.
“I can’t even begin to tell you. For one thing, it says, ‘First locate a body thetan.’ Now, how in hell do you locate a body thetan?”

Thetan, in Scientology parlance, means the spirit as distinct from the body and the mind. They don’t mean brain when they say mind. It’s more the spiritual mechanics of the thetan/body interface.
The space opera antics comprising OT III meant that normal people had been so traumatized, what with being shipped all the way over here and blown up, that they no longer were capable of running bodies on their own. Some of them banded together in clusters and others as individuals, and they basically hang around less messed-up beings—like you and me—and make up our body, not to mention numerous ailments.
In 1981, Richard Leiby of the Clearwater Sun became the first journalist to publish a piece describing OT III, including an excerpt from Hubbard’s writings. The article opens:

At the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Scientologists are learning to leave their bodies, control other people’s thoughts and communicate with plant life. They learn this by reliving a galactic holocaust carried out by space creatures millions of years ago.

(Note: insert here a Reader’s Digest article from 1981. See notes at bottom.)
A summary of OT III and the whole Xenu thing had previously been printed in the Los Angeles Times in 1985:

Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that members of the Church of Scientology believe that mankind’s ills were caused by an evil ruler named Xemu who lived 75 million years ago.

Erlich’s posting wasn’t the first post about OT III or the widest audience. It was simply the first where part of the source materials had been made broadly available on the Internet.
I’ve always thought that Scientology’s embarrassed about the contents, because Scientology’s reaction after the LA Times piece was to deny that these were the materials of OT III. Hubbard was still alive at that point.
Nevertheless, OT III involved the introduction of the concept of “body thetans” in OT III—those pestiferous beings-who-are-not-you clogging up your space and misbehaving on your behalf.
OT III had been covered before, in print and on the internet, several times. It wasn’t new, and thus the CofS wouldn’t go crazy over its revelation. Hence, I hope I’ve debunked the idea that this was a part of 1994’s Christmas Eve “revelation.”

The Christmas Eve Docs

Each of the five Christmas Eve docs consisted of the confidential levels after the state of Clear is attained and after OT III.
These five documents were posted anonymously to alt.religion.scientology through a replay.com crypto remailer. What specifically was posted has been misreported, partly because the source postings have been vaporized from the ‘net.
Here’s the correct document list. They are all still on Wikileaks if you’d like to read them. Source is Dennis Ehrlich’s 1995 declaration.

  1. NED for OTs RD, Theory Of. (HCOB 15 September 1978 I, NOTs Series 1)
    NOTs, or “New Era Dianetics (NED) for Operating Thetans (OTs)” was introduced in 1978 as a special rundown. Eventually, the older OT IV, V, VI, and VII levels were canceled and replaced with various NOTs rundowns.
    This document is an introduction to the theory of NOTs. Until this was posted, the specific contents of NOTs had never been made public. One of the interesting quirks is that, for telepathy between body thetans, “there is a proximity factor.” Except thetans are supposed to exist outside of Matter, Energy, Space, and Time (aka the MEST universe). Anyhow, it talks about telepathy between BTs, how clusters of BTs work, how they create the person’s “thoughts,” how they affect memory, how they create illness, etc. For a single issue, it basically lays out what the post-1982 Scientology levels from OT IV through OT VII consist of: years of this stuff.
  2. The Sequence for Handling a Physical Condition. (HCOB 14 November 1978, NOTs series 34)
    This particular issue is of interest because Scientology often claims that of course Scientology doesn’t fix illness and that people should see their physicians, yada yada yada. As anyone who’s been in any period of time can tell you, that’s not the actual practice. Oh, sure, you can go to a doctor—after you go through the Medical Liaison Officer (if you’re staff) or Ethics (if you’re not). You may be threatened with a Purification Rundown if you take any drugs, including antibiotics. This particular issue gives the order of addressing physical illness.
  3. Notes on PTS. (HCOB 29 October 1978 III, NOTs Series 35)
    One of the fundamental theories of Scientology is that people can be a Potential Trouble Source (PTS) because they are under the thumb of a Suppressive Person (SP). This short issue talks about body thetans (the beings stuck to you) and how they can be PTS to successive persons and how you can get into trouble by mis-auditing these imaginary beings.
  4. Rockslams. (HCOB 22 September 1978 I, NOTs Series 36)
    Rockslams are an e-meter phenomenon, described thus:

    A Rock slam is a crazy, irregular, unequal, jerky motion of the needle, narrow as one inch or as wide as three inches happening several times a second. The needle ‘goes crazy’, slamming back and forth, narrowly, widely, over on the left, over on the right, in a mad war dance or as if it were frantically trying to escape. (EME, p. 17)

    LRH called it “the most important needle manifestation” (HCOB 10 August 1976, R/Ses, What They Mean), and went on to say:

    A rockslam means a hidden evil intention on the subject or question under discussion or auditing.

    So this particular NOTs document talks about auditing rockslams on body thetans. Because of course some of them have evil purposes. Scientology’s big on finding out secret evil things.

  5. Amends and Clarifies NED for OTs Series 27. (HCOB 31 January 1979, NOTs Series 43)
    This is a short and weirdly technical thing to post, but it addresses some of what was being discussed in ARS at the time. Namely, that in the lower levels of Scientology (before Clear), an auditor generally asks if the person is interested in running a specific process. This one, however, says:

    Step 4 of the NED for OTs Rundown (Series 27) is subdivided into 9 actions (4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4I). The instruction to check interest only applies to Step 4F, (Repair of Past Auditing). All the other steps, (4A – 4E, 4F – 4I) are done without checking interest.
    The usual rules of not running anything that doesn’t read, and checking for false read or protest if the pc is not interested or protesty, apply to all steps.

    In Scientology, sometimes an auditor asks if a person is interested in “running” (addressing) a question. The e-meter “reading” (acting in a particular way) is assumed to indicate interest.
    The rest of the issue is about adding an additional step at the end of each category of items if there are any problems at that point.

NOTs Basic Theory, A Summary

To be clear, I don’t believe any of this. It’s just the theory.
Dianetics doesn’t work (well) on Clears or above because it asks for components of the reactive mind, which a Clear no longer has. However, a Clear still has body thetans, so when one tries to audit Dianetics questions on a Clear, the person comes up with answers from their body thetans or clusters (of body thetans) and can go into a tailspin. Because there are lots more body thetans, and they’re constantly chattering and complaining.
Further, NOTs theory says that body thetans copy bits of case from other body thetans, kind of the way bacteria exchange DNA with each other (and thus build up antibiotic resistance). Except in this case, it means that problems keep coming back. (Convenient, no?)
Most of these BTs are below the level of conscious awareness, and irritating them, well, “it does affect the body—severely.” (HCOB 15 September 1978 II, NOTs Series 2, Why You Can’t Run Engrams After Clear)
To someone who is an Operating Thetan, the body appears transparent. Anywhere it does not, well, that’s because of body thetans and clusters making it appear solid.
Well, that’s the theory.

Here’s What I Think

Scientology’s a long con with a lot of carnival hucksterism thrown in for good measure.
It’s never produced all of what Dianetics (the book, aka Book 1) promised a Clear was. In 1950. After years and years of spinning new auditing processes, in 1965, L. Ron Hubbard released the Clearing Course. Then after you’d done a boatload of different processes (like a pachinko machine), you finally got rid of enough bad stuff to get to Clear.
Except that you still weren’t a Clear by the Book 1 definition.
So there had to be theories about what was still going on—other than the processes hadn’t worked, of course!
I’m really not sure about what Hubbard did and did not believe of his own con. It’s revealed in the Epilogue of Lawrence Wright’s excellent book Going Clear that LRH pestered one of his underlings to rig an e-meter to kill Hubbard. (That didn’t happen.)
However, at some point, Hubbard realized that NOTs was a big level. Before NOTs, the levels OT IV-VII were a few weeks to a few months, at most. NOTs, however, people are commonly on for years. It became a huge cash cow for people who’d essentially topped out on all that Scientology had to offer, but still hadn’t solved their problems. The same is still true after NOTs, but at least Scientology has more money, right?
And when OT VII and, later, OT VIII weren’t enough to do placate people, the CofS saw to it that people were busted all the way back down to the start with the Purification rundown. Some people have done the whole thing, ground up, two or three times.
I can’t imagine.
One of the things that keeps people in line is the promise of future OT levels. Hubbard died in 1986, so I’m not exactly sure how long they’re going to draw this out before revealing what some upper-level ex-execs have said: there is nothing else.
It’s just one big mystery-in-a-circus-tent after another, and each level isn’t actually what was promised.
Scientology can’t make up its mind if it’s all about the quasi-gnostic concept of the material universe is crap or if the material universe is the real universe. Given that I heard over and over that thetans aren’t bound by matter, energy, space, and time, why should distance in the physical universe have anything to do with anything? Why must telepathic transmission depend on that?
It’s all crap.

Notes:

  1. Tony Ortega, who runs the Underground Bunker, a Scientology news site, gave me a heads up about the Kaufman book (which I’m surprised I’ve never read) and the Clearwater Sun article, as well as fact checked the next note. Since the Kaufman book isn’t available in EPUB or Kindle format, I’ll be converting it so it’s more readable on e-readers.
  2. Jim Lippard said he first read about OT III in Readers Digest. This article, written by Eugene M. Methvin, was published in October, 1981, is about other Scientology mythology, the Helatrobus implants.

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A Clean Desktop

22 December 2014

Strawberry Field

Desktop Zero. (Have to show off that fabulous Christmas wallpaper!) #GTD #InboxZero pic.twitter.com/3pQPRmBEto

— Colter Reed (@ColterReed) December 22, 2014

So Colter Reed shamed me into cleaning up my own desktop, which had 252 items on it, mostly dragged items or stuff I wanted to upload to my blog (and have done so).
Voila!
Deirdre's Desktop
My desktop background is an Olivier Grunewald photo of the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I originally saw on this BigPicture feature from Boston.com. I’m just in awe of these scientists.
The picture up top was one I took of Strawberry Field (yes, of the song fame) in Liverpool in 2011 and altered the color. It was sitting on the desktop, but is no longer.
Also, while I’m giving a shout-out to Colter Reed, his blog has a lot of great articles about productivity and motivation.

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Ellora's Cave: Willing to Share Your Royalty Timeline?

21 December 2014

elloras-cave-blog-headerIt occurred to me that I’m really great at spreadsheets.
So what I’m asking for:

  1. Date you received a check for a given royalty month. (Or “Never received” if that’s the answer.)
  2. Date that check was postmarked, if available.
  3. Date that check was dated, if available.

I don’t ask you:

  1. Your legal name or pseudonym. If you’re willing to share your author pseudonym with me, I’d appreciate it (for authentication that you’re an EC author), but it’s not required.
  2. How much the check was for.
  3. What books sold how much.

My purpose in asking: I believe that checks have been slipping later over time based on reports of a limited set of people. I’d like to quantify that data into a chart.

Contact information

The spreadsheet’s available in three formats: .xslx for newer versions of Excel, .xls for older versions of Excel, and .numbers for Apple Numbers 5.0 (or later). Please email the spreadsheet to me at deirdre@deirdre.net.

Data Protection

To the extent the law permits (and it permits quite a bit here in California), I will protect my sources. There is always a small risk that this information will be subpoenaed. If so, I can likely provide the source files while still protecting anonymity.
Note: it’s absolutely okay to share this post. Thank you.

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Ellora's Cave: That Old Printer Lawsuit

21 December 2014

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tl;dr version is that it took almost a year before the case settled.
In 2011, EC and Jasmine Jade were sued by the company leasing them their POD printer. (Note: lots of attachments I haven’t read, some of which may be interesting.)
I wasn’t ever interested enough to bother looking up the state docket before, but someone mentioned it on Twitter today, so I finally did.
That case, 2011-L-010207, defense removed to federal court. Then EC/JJ filed their answer in federal.
Only problem is, they have the right to remove for thirty days and they filed on the thirty-first. The leasing company filed a remand motion and it was granted.
I’ve put the whole Illinois docket up on Dropbox.

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Ellora's Cave: Super Wendy's Erotic Romance History

17 December 2014

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I’d missed this blog post by Super Wendy on “The Quick and Dirty History of Erotic Romance.”

EC also played a healthy hand in marketing. As I’ve already detailed, erotic romance did exist before EC we just…..didn’t know what to call it.

In 2004, Google started tracking searches with Google Trends. For whatever reason, EC didn’t start getting traction until November 2004. I’ve posted this graph before, but here it is again.
EC_erotic-romance
What’s been fascinating to me since looking at this graph was how long Ellora’s Cave has been in a Google trend long, slow slide compared to erotic romance.
Recognize that this graph doesn’t discuss how many searches there are, or whether the overall popularity of the term is increasing or decreasing. Just what the relative ranking of two terms are, one against the other, and both total 100 added together when you’re looking at the best month for the two terms combined.
Romantica as a term is confusing because there are other uses for it that have nothing to do with EC, and the manga series and the band are the two top hits for the term. EC’s use doesn’t even register on Google trends.
Here’s another interesting graph, though, one I hadn’t posted before:
Google Trends: romance novel vs. erotic romance
Overall, romance novel as a search term tracks pretty well with erotic romance. Romance novel has a slight downward trend until late 2010, then turns upward.
What does that mean? Well, it means Google searches for romance novel and erotic romance are healthy.
The same can’t be said of Ellora’s Cave as a search term. Also note that this doesn’t disambiguate searches for the caves in India.
Want to play with search terms? Here’s a Google Trends link for you.

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Ellora's Cave: Trust and Confidence, WTF?

15 December 2014

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Up until the rule, the following is Rick’s commentary that he initially posted as a commentary here. I added links to @Pubnt’s tweets.
I did some very modest legal research on some more of the legalistic language TinaNut’s been using lately. Just to be clear, as a non-lawyer I’m no expert and have zero access to Lexis, etc. I’m just a layman with an ongoing interest in legal issues (who learned enough business law to pass the CPA exam, back in the Pleistocene).
TinaNut’s been saying things like:

Causing damages to EC is in breach of contract – breaching the implied Trust & Confidence term.
It could now also be u r in Breach of Trust & Confidence, or in litigation, and has caused recoverable damages. Otherwise you would have been paid by now, like thousands of other good EC authors/employees.
Q: Are you another author in litigation with EC and has caused recoverable damages? If so wait till the end of the lawsuit you are involved in to get paid, less recoverable damages. T&C clause is actionable in Damages when breached.

Under UK common law, employment contracts are construed as having an implied term requiring ‘mutual trust and confidence’, which in some circumstances can even overrule provisions in explicit employment-contract terms, and applies to both employer and employee. Notable UK cases have involved suits by employees alleging that hostile or dishonest management had carried out ‘constructive termination’, and successfully sued for tort damages on that basis. It’s important to note that the aggrieved party had to specifically litigate this claim. It wasn’t tacked on as a ‘by the way’ to (say) an only somewhat related defamation suit between the employer and some third party.
Australia inherited the ‘mutual trust and confidence’ concept from the UK, until a few years ago when the High Court jettisoned the concept from all subsequent Australian cases.
I find no evidence that the concept exists in USA law at all – with the minor (and irrelevant) semi-exception that insider trading prosecutions often allege that the accused brokers (etc.) failed in fiduciary duties that entail requirements of trust and confidence.
In USA employment law, zip.
The parallel concept in USA employment law seems to be the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which is part of every employment contract because it’s part of every contract, period. Some states with at-will employment legal regimes recognise violation of this implied covenant as a valid grounds on which an employee might be able to prove wrongful termination (despite employment being otherwise at will, in that state).
TinaNut’s… er… reasoning is pretty murky on this whole matter, but here’s my best reconstruction of what she’s alleging: Employees’ contracts with EC include confidentiality clauses, and they’re also bound by implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing (which she mistakenly calls ‘the implied Trust & Confidence term’). If an employee testifies for Dear Author, or tweets allegations supporting Dear Author’s position, during the EC/DA litigation, they are injuring EC’s interests in violation of contract, and are tort-feasors to the extent of the damage they are causing EC. The value of that damage can be decided only at the end of the EC/DA suit. [Insert here some justification for tying these tort damages to payables owed to them for wages and other payables. I got nothing.] So, it’s legitimate to wait until end of the current lawsuit and then offset damages owed by these employees against payables owed to them.
Sometimes, the Nut acknowledges that these alleged tort damages could be established only through separate, unrelated litigation, and other times doesn’t. E.g., she talks about ‘enjoining them’ later in the proceedings or that they will be ‘named at the right time’.
The Nut appears to be confused between allegations that employees who’ve testified or tweeted thereby committed defamation (and per her are to be ‘joined’ to the EC/DA lawsuit later), and allegations that they violated confidentiality or good-faith obligations to their employer, which if she wanted to go for that would be a separate lawsuit.
I thnk, BTW, that the odds of getting a tort judgement against an employee for testifying in a court case are exactly zero, and the likelihood of getting one for tweets saying ‘My employer’s been late paying me’ are pretty close to zero, too.
In addition, TinaNut speaks as if confidentiality and/or good-faith obligations of employees, such as they are, apply equally to non-employee authors having EC publication contracts for their books, which obviously isn’t the case. As an aside, I rather suspect that judges take a very dim view of attempting to bludgeon employees and business associates with confidentiality clauses to punish or intimidate them over testifying in court cases.
Then, too, there’s the troubling bit where TinaNut thinks EC can withhold timely payment of employees (or business partners) just because she thinks EC might speculatively be able to sue them for damages in the future, and expect they’ll somehow acquire the right to remit only the net of those amounts. Sorry, paranoid pistachio, not the way it works.
It seems almost gratuitous to harp on the hapless hazelnut’s meaninglessly vague and loose terms ‘involved in the lawsuit’ and ‘part of the lawsuit’, which lumps together actual parties to the EC/DA suit, people who’ve testified, and even apparently people who’ve merely tweeted about it. To her credit, she does acknowledge this vagueness when called on it.
Does the wandering walnut really believe her legal fantasy? I fear that she does. And the fall will be hard and painful.


(The rest is Deirdre’s commentary.)
What fascinates me most about the annoying acorn’s allegations are some of the following:

  1. The persistent statement that Tina Engler is the CEO of Ellora’s Cave, when her mother, Patricia Marks, is the CEO of record. That makes me wonder what the actual truth of the matter is.
  2. The statements that EC has “thousands” of employees, later shifted to “thousands of good EC authors/employees”. I counted EC’s authors back when the suit began, and iirc, EC had 934 authors at that count. So near as I can tell, EC’s never topped the thousand mark of authors and employees (and contractors) combined. Certainly not multiple thousands.
  3. There’s a consistent conflation between employees and contractors. Contractors aren’t employees, and employees aren’t contractors. Inherently, a corporation has less loyalty to a contractor than to an employee; the reverse is also true. This should not come as a surprise.
  4. “Loyal” authors don’t tweet, and publishers move promotional funds away from tweeting authors. That may be true for EC, but it’s not true generally. (one) (two) (three) (four) (You can really see the repetitiveness in that series of four tweets.)
  5. EC’s a “massive” corporation (or “massive accredited publisher” in other tweets).
    What’s particularly fascinating to me about the whole “massive corporation” assertion is that I’ve actually been a software engineer at an actual massive corporation. Look, if you don’t have full-time sushi chefs in multiple countries, it’s just delusions of grandeur.
  6. Related to the “accredited” publisher, there’s also the claim that EC’s an “approved” publisher. Courtney Milan commented:

    This is especially weird since there IS no RWA approved list any longer.

    Courtney’s on the RWA board (though speaking as an individual), so she’d know.
    What’s hilarious to me about TinaNut’s continued railings against self-publishing is that, by Tina Engler’s own admission, Ellora’s Cave is an extended self-play. Here’s an old DA interview with Tina/Jaid, and the pull quote to end all pull quotes:

    I was an unpubbed author with a trash can full of rejection letters. As a writer I had reached an impasse: either I was going to have to conform to NY standards and sex down my manuscripts or I was going to have to start my own publishing company.

Courtney Nails It (As Usual)

Just as I’m about to click “post,” Courtney Milan tweets….

Do we need to be told that anonymous twitter accounts are generally not legal authorities? No. No, we do not. #notchilled

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 15, 2014

I mean, if we were to talk SPECIFICALLY, that particular anonymous twitter account is like an anti-authority. But, you know. #notchilled

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) December 15, 2014

Lots of Comments on the Last EC post

If you’re reading my posts elsewhere (Tumblr, Dreamwidth, Livejournal, RSS), then you may have missed a lot of interesting comments.

For Your Amusement

For all your future nut phrase constructions, here’s a list of culinary nuts that may help you.

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Rule 34 Labs: Putting the Interesting in Internet

12 December 2014

[![15954811_3065647_pm](/images/2014/12/15954811_3065647_pm.jpg)](/images/2014/12/15954811_3065647_pm.jpg)
Rule 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.”
I was making this sign for a book cover (where it’d appear on the wall as a framed print), then thought: why stop there?
Back when I worked at a backbone ISP, the first day HR training session was interesting.
“If you object to adult material, please do not walk through the art department. We make 2/3 of our revenue from adult content.”
Maybe you like the weird stuff. Maybe it just makes you hilariously happy that the weird stuff exists because then you’re something approaching normal. Maybe you just need a new shirt and randomly clicked on this page.
Whatever freak flag you fly (or, you know, don’t fly :wink:), Rule 34 is there for you.
Rule 34 t-shirt
I have various products now available on Redbubble, Society6, and Zazzle.
In addition to the clothing options on all three of the above stores, the design’s also available in a bunch of other formats, including:

Rule 34 labs prints Prints in various forms: Redbubble and Society6, including stickers, posters, art prints, and metal prints. Because metal.
Rule 34 labs coffee mugs Coffee mugs: Society6
Rule 34 Labs tech cases Tech Cases: Society6
Rule 34 Labs rugs Rugs (for rug burn, obvs): Society6
Rule 34 greeting cards Greeting cards (for mailing your tribe): Society6
Rule 34 Labs clocks Clocks (for temporal fetishists): Society6
Rule 34 Labs tote bag Tote bags: Redbubble and Society6
Rule 34 Labs pillow Pillows (save those knees!): Redbubble and Society6
Rule 34 Labs shower curtain Shower curtains (no comment): Society6
Rule 34 Labs duvet cover Duvet covers (because why wouldn’t you?): Redbubble and Society6. Redbubble has Twin, Queen, and King, while Society6 has Full, Queen, and King. Note: the Redbubble version requires almost twice the resolution source file, but I don’t know if it prints in higher resolution than the Society6 version. Usually, Society6 wants the higher-res file.

King Duvet Cover (Redbubble):

Rule 34 Labs king duvet

Not enough?

Drop me a line and let me know. My email address is at the bottom of every deirdre.net page. (Hint: deirdre@)

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Ellora's Cave: When Lightning Strikes

11 December 2014

elloras-cave-blog-header
It’s a very rainy day in Silicon Valley as we’ve got the worst storm in five years.
Every writer has their tells: the words they misspell or misuse. The words they use in preference to other words.
The other day, I got an anonymous tip: Both @pubnt on Twitter and Tina Engler/Jaid Black have one of the same tells.
It did stick out to me when @Pubnt used it, but I’m not familiar enough with Tina’s writing style to have noticed the similarity.

@ShelbieKnight @jaidblack This is an author you don’t want to keep. Tweeting nonsense about 3 month Lightening fast editing.#notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) November 9, 2014

3 months be fore editing is lightening fast in publishing! Most publishers are booked 18+ months in advance. #notchilled @ShelbieKnight

— Pub Net (@pubnt) November 8, 2014

Tina Engler uses it in this Amazon review, and here’s the excerpt:

“This author is an absolute master at invoking emotions. If she wants you to feel freaked out, she knows how to use a lightening storm and a few choice words to do it.”

And Tia Isabella, a pseudonym of Jaid Black, which is in turn a pseudonym of Tina Engler, uses it in this EC title:

Thomas watched his cousin bolt down the steps at lightening speed.

And the commenter below also said:

From the Trek Mi Q’an books:
“She leapt on all fours in a lightening-fast movement,”
“Death proved to have lightening-fast reflexes”

My anon tipster did mention this use, but that’s not lightning, the electrical phenomena, but lightening, the gerund form of lighten.

Pubnt’s Backstory

In the early stages, @pubnt went around tweeting publishers to tell them not to work with authors who were “participating” in a lawsuit against Ellora’s Cave.

. @HarperCollins ETA: These are the author PARTICIPATING in a lawsuit against a publisher. Never touch them. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) October 5, 2014

. @HachetteUS ETA: These are the author PARTICIPATING in a lawsuit against a publisher. Never touch them. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) October 5, 2014

Except “participating” was a gross exaggeration. Later, @pubnt clarified with this tweet:

.@panmacmillan ETA: http://t.co/f0SyPL5RFZ

— Pub Net (@pubnt) October 5, 2014

But this list is of romance authors published by Ellora’s Cave, most of whom never spoke out about Ellora’s Cave. They were simply EC authors who also had non-EC titles.
Pubnt also regularly uses Jane Litte’s real name. In court docs, that’s fine, but many of us have deliberately used the internet pseudonym in our blog posts.
Pubnt also has publicly declared that checks are being paid to people except those “involved” in the lawsuit.

@tejasjulia @AuthorSJDRUM @JulieNaughton Nothing stopped. Checks are coming to all but those involved in the lawsuit, naturally. #notchilled

— Pub Net (@pubnt) December 12, 2014

However, “involved” in Pubnt logic doesn’t just mean “is a party to.” “Involved” also would mean, say, anyone who tweeted or blogged or said anything critical about EC.

Catch Is, There Are Laws

18 USC § 1512, for example.
Federal law, along with most state laws, take the reasonable view that if there are threats or harassment of people who testify or provide evidence, then cases won’t be able to proceed.

Tina Was (Probably) Also Barred from Certain Activities

From September 30 to the federal court removal on October 20, Tina as part owner of EC was likely subject to the joint motion’s agreement about not publicly commenting on the case:

In the interim, all parties agree that neither they, nor anyone under their direct control, shall post on the Internet any comments specifically and directly related to the factual allegations that form the basis of Ellora Cave’s defamation complaint; further, they agree not to comment online, directly or indirectly, on the allegations that form the basis of the defamation complaint. Nothing herein shall prohibit Plaintiffs from responding to defamatory posts or re-posts made by third parties related to the issues raised in this litigation.

I note Jaid Black posted this the same day @Pubnt started tweeting. (tl;dr version: McCarthyism, freedom of speech, calling out commenters claiming EC owes them money (some screencaps from comments on this blog), and claiming EC authors are too afraid to speak.)
::cough::
Rick came up with a name for Pubnt today that I rather like: TinaNut.

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Fundraiser for Former Ellora's Cave Editor Bree

08 December 2014

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Bree was an Ellora’s Cave editor for twelve years before being laid off (along with all other freelance editors) in August.
Here’s a quote from the fundraiser:

It’s no secret that the EC editors’ unexpected layoffs on Aug.18 have adversely affected editors’ finances. In the case of one of our colleagues, Bree, her 12-year full-time loyalty to EC has severely compromised her income and she is on the verge of homelessness. She is diligently searching for work and we can’t bear to see her sink while she’s doing so. Please help if you can. Any amount, no matter how small, is welcome.

Here’s the fundraiser link. (Gofundme.)
If you don’t like Gofundme and prefer to contribute another way, email me (my email’s at the bottom of every deirdre.net page).
Also, Bree’s available for editing work. I can forward requests via email.
Please share this if you’re so inclined.
Thank you.

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Book Landing Pages: Thursday Webinar

08 December 2014

Joel Friedlander, aka the book designer, wrote a blog post about book landing pages.
I’ve been in the middle of writing a long blog post about web sites for authors, and I think I’m going to tear up my post and go home. (Actually, no, I won’t, but it’s going to wait until next weekend now.)
Because what Joel’s upcoming webinar’s about is book landing pages and, I’m gathering, booklaunch.io, which has already made me want to toss my WordPress plugin in-progress against the wall.

  • Booklaunch.io’s pages are pretty.
  • They are minimalist.
  • There is a free plan.

We all know that webinar is not-very-secret code for “I want to sell you something.” I’m hoping it’s a nice discount on the paid plan.
The free plan allows for as many book pages as you want, but no extras like mailing list integration. Here’s a page detailing the differences between the free and paid plan.
Example: one of my stories on booklaunch.io vs. the same story’s page on deirdre.net. Could I improve my own site’s version? Sure, with some significant elbow grease. (I could also finish the booklaunch.io one; I only fussed with it for a few minutes.)

What’s WordPress Like For This?

Let me tell you briefly about the state of things in WordPress plugin land.
With MyBookTable, if you want a buy button in anything other than Amazon and Apple, it costs $49 a year (or you can hand-modify the plugin yourself). If you want affiliate sales for your referrals, it also costs $49 a year.
With MyBooks, it’s free for Out:think’s authors on one of its paid courses, but you’ve got to be one of those people.
There is Buy This Book, which only has widget versions, meaning things for your sidebar.
I use Easy Digital Downloads, which is great for direct sales, but falls down when you need the product to link to external places. So, for this paperback, I hand-coded the purchase links and the CSS and suppressed the purchase button.
Another quirk of EDD is this: look at the purchase buttons/links here. In order to get my link above everyone else’s, I had to suppress the automatic generation, then add a manual button. Then add the links for other stores.
Oh, and there’s no sense of “series” of things or obviously related things other than via tags and categories, so that would be another thing I’d have to roll in there. (To its credit, MyBookTable has this.)
So why not use MyBookTable and Easy Digital Downloads together, you ask?
I’m so glad you asked that. Because MBT defines its items as a new post type. And so does Easy Digital Downloads. So, for each book, you’d have to hand-enter the data twice (once for each post type), so you could get to your books via two different URLs, and possibly have the content out of sync. Oh, and pay for MBT too.
No. Thank. You.
My brilliant plan was to automagically generate that, to make a font for icons for the common stores, and to therefore let people style whatever however. I was inspired by Lauren Dane’s website, except she’s gone and changed it and I don’t like the new look.
There are 34,000 WordPress plugins that have been downloaded 796 million times and that’s apparently as good as it gets for the stuff that’s out there.
Depressing, huh?
Fact is, most of the WordPress plugins designed to hook into Amazon are designed to create little web shops where you live on the affiliate income from providing, say, links for the top ten blenders.
I’m curious to see what they’ll say about the state of the competition that’s out there. I really haven’t seen anything in this niche.

But What If You’re Not Me?

Look, I’ve been paid to do web work since 1998. If I find it annoying that there’s no better publicly-available free solution, I’m guessing that you do too.
You can hire awesome people like Jeremiah Tolbert or Stephanie Leary to do it for you.
Or maybe you want to come to Joel’s webinar on Thursday. Blog post link again.

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