Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Ellora's Cave: Dear Author's Answer and Counterclaim

23 October 2014

elloras-cave-blog-header
The exciting invocation of the Communications Decency Act in a lawsuit about an erotica/erotic romance publisher—but not in the way you’d expect. Up next after “Previously on….”

Earlier Documents of Note

From now on, I’ll post a quick recap at the beginning of this series.

  1. Dear Author’s blog post, The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave. Ellora’s Cave and Jasmine Jade Enterprises sued Dear Author and Jane Litte over this post.
  2. Ellora’s Cave’s lawsuit, complete with the TRO request. I discuss the memorandum of law and the request to out anonymous commenters in this post.
  3. The removal to federal court, which I posted the meat of the other day.
  4. Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction. I cover a few points in this post. Courtney Milan gives a deeper understanding of the document in her post. Exhibits: (Exhibit A, from Jane Litte; Exhibit B, from an editor hired in 2003; Exhibit C, from an author first published by EC in 2007; Exhibit D, from an author first published by EC in 2013; Exhibit E, from an editor hired in 2012; Exhibit F, from an editor hired in 2013; Exhibit G is a true copy of tax liens and Workers’ Comp liens against EC and Tina Engler/Jaid Black.)

Also of interest: Courtney Milan’s post, On Limited Purpose Public Figures. All my blog posts relating to Ellora’s Cave are tagged. There are a few not directly related to the lawsuit.

Dear Author’s Answer

Note that this is just Dear Author’s answer. I expect Jane Litte’s answer shortly.
Document here. Because it’s a paragraph-by-paragraph response to the lawsuit, you’ll need to have a copy of that to read side-by-side.
Responding to the first two paragraphs, “Consequently, this averment is denied and strict proof demanded.” That’s some legal verbiage that I may not understand the nuance of. The import, however, is to ensure that the correct parties are suing Dear Author and Jane Litte.
It starts to get interesting in ¶ 10:

Admitted that Defendant [Litte] authored an article entitled “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave,” which was published on the blog Dear Author, which is owned and operated by Dear Author. Denied as to the defined term “Libelous Publication” as an erroneous legal conclusion without factual foundation.

The next few paragraphs of fallout are flatly denied.
When it gets to the nuances of EC’s relationship fallouts, the phrasing changes to:

Dear Author is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth or falsity of the corresponding averment. Consequently, this averment is denied and strict proof demanded.

Here are the most interesting paragraphs that applies to (sorry, 15-17 are being auto-renumbered to 1-3, grr):

  1. This Libelous Publication has caused distress among current Authors under contract with Ellora’s, and Ellora’s has received numerous contacts from Authors wishing to rescind contracts based on this Publication.
  2. This Libelous Publication has caused distress among employees and contractors with Ellora’s and Ellora’s has received numerous contacts from employees and contractors concerned about the current state of the business.
  3. This Libelous Publication has also prevented Ellora’s from contracting with other potential authors.

I would guess (being an analytical sort), that in order to prove ¶ 15, one would have to show what the rate of authors requesting reversions/cancellations were before the publication, and what they were after. That would require excellent recordkeeping, though. (It would also require proof that defamation occurred, and a causal link.)
I’m not sure that ¶ 16 implies actual damages, especially not after the August 19th publication about Ellora’s Cave layoffs. That’s almost a month before the Curious post.
¶ 18-19 are about Jasmine Jade. Frankly, I’m not sure why Jasmine Jade is a party to this action. There is only one reference to JJ in the Curious post, and it’s about a tax lien that anyone could look up.
The rest of the responses are denials of various sorts.

Affirmative Defenses

Affirmative defenses are a curious beast. I’m guessing that Courtney will go into this later, but basically they are reasons why, even if the allegations are true, that aspect of the case can’t proceed.
An example would be statute of limitations. You sue for something where the law gave you a year to sue and it’s now 2 years after the event happened. Everything you say is true, but if the defense raises statute of limitations as an affirmative defense, then the lawsuit can’t proceed.
The other aspect of affirmative defenses is that they typically have to be raised in the answer. They can’t be brought up later. Thus, the affirmative defenses tend to be rather kitchen sink in approach.

First Affirmative Defense: Communications Decency Act

In order to understand why this affirmative defense is hilarious in context, one needs to know what the original intended purpose of the CDA was. Some excerpts from its legislative history:

What became the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was initiated in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee […] to expand the prohibitions against obscene, indecent and harassing phone calls so that they would apply to all forms of electronic communications. The amendment was offered “to address an increasing number of published reports of inappropriate uses of telecommunications technologies to transmit pornography, engage children in inappropriate adult contact, terrorize computer network users through “electronic stalking,” and seize personal information […].”
The amendment from Feinstein, cosponsored by Republican Senator Trent Lott from Mississippi, sought to require cable and satellite companies to fully scramble any sexually explicit adult programming.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 began in the House as HR 1555. […] There were disputes over efforts to limit internet indecency and television violence though. The committee bill requested that the attorney general‟s office submit a report evaluating the enforceability of current criminal laws governing the distribution of obscenity over the internet, assessing the Federal, State, and local law enforcement resources available to enforce those laws, evaluating the technical means available to combat obscenity, and making recommendations on the means of encouraging the development of new technologies to deal with obscenity.

So let’s look at the affirmative defense here.

  1. Defendant Dear Author is a provider of interactive computer services as defined in 47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2).
  2. Dear Author neither created nor authored the content of any of the statements complained of in Plaintffs’ Complaint.
  3. Under 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1), Dear Author cannot be treated as the publisher of the above complained-of statements, and thus cannot be held liable, either at law or in equity, for the contents of the statements.

47 U.S.C. § 230(f)(2) (link to law) defines an “interactive computer service”:

The term “interactive computer service” means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.

The reason that blogs allow comments and internet forums exist is because the CDA makes it feasible to not get caught up in every squabble.
And 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1) states:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

In other words, because Jane Litte, the pseudonymous author of the Curious post, is not Dear Author LLC, the LLC providing the Dear Author service offering the Curious post, Dear Author LLC is not liable for any statements Jane Litte made.
Or, in short, law says you’ve got the wrong person.
I admit to not being up enough on CDA case law to know what rulings have been. I am more familiar with cases like Religious Technology Center v. Netcom and the ruling excerpt incorporated into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, if only because I was at ground zero during that controversy.

Second Affirmative Defense: Truth

  1. Although the burden of proof for falsity is upon Plaintiffs, as applied to Plaintiffs’ claims for defamation, Dear Author avers that all statements allegedly made by Dear Author complained of by Plaintiffs are true.
  2. Any complained-of statements allegedly made by Dear Author that may happen to lack 100% factual veracity are substantially true, and thus treated as true as a matter of law.
  3. As truth is an absolute defense to defamation, Dear Author cannot be liable for Plaintiffs’ defamation claims.

Truth is an affirmative defense to defamation.

Third Affirmative Defense: Substantial Truth

  1. Any statements allegedly made by Dear Author complained of by Plaintiffs that are not literally true are substantially true, in that the “gist” or “sting” of the article is true.
  2. As substantial truth is a defense to claims for defamation, Dear Author cannot be liable for Plaintiffs’ defamation claims.

Pretty straightforward.

Fourth Affirmative Defense: Qualified Privilege

I know almost nothing about qualified privilege as it relates to defamation cases, but the plaintiffs cited an Ohio case (#5, Am. Chem. Soc’y v. Leadscope, Inc.) that discussed it extensively. PDF of the ruling is here.

  1. All allegedly actionable statements were subject to qualified privilege as they were directed to parties having a common interest in the subject matter of the statements, particularly authors who either had a contractual relationship with Plaintiffs or who were contemplating one.
  2. All allegedly actionable statements were subject to qualified privilege as they were made in the course of a justifiable exercise of a moral obligation, free of improper motive or malice.
  3. All allegedly actionable statements were subject to qualified privilege as they were fair comment and criticism of Defendants’ business practices, matters of significant public and social interest.

As someone who bought a few of EC’s titles last year to evaluate them as a potential market, I feel like this was aimed at me. Thanks, Jane.

Fifth Affirmative Defense: Failure To State A Claim

  1. Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently plead the elements of a cause of
    action for libel.
  2. Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently plead the elements of a cause of
    action for libel per se.

Like many other causes of action, there are specific things that have to be alleged in order for there to be a claim for defamation. This (short) page lists them.
Re-reading the complaint, it seems like there’s at least some language to cover all the bases. If the judge rules that one of the required elements doesn’t exist and failure to state a claim isn’t raised as an affirmative defense, I’m not sure what would happen, exactly.

Sixth Affirmative Defense: Failure To Join an Indispensable Party

I saw this one coming.

  1. Plaintiffs have failed to join an indispensable party, Tina Engler, in their
    Complaint.
  2. Tina Engler is an indispensable party because Plaintiffs’ Complaint
    identifies allegedly defamatory statements about her allegedly made by
    Dear Author.
  3. Engler is also an indispensable party because many of the allegedly
    defamatory statements identified in the Complaint attribute Plaintiffs’
    declining business performance to the actions of Engler.
  4. In Engler’s absence, the Court cannot afford complete relief among
    Plaintiffs and Dear Author.
  5. Because the allegations in Plaintiffs’ Complaint would also entitle Engler to
    bring an action against Dear Author for the same statements identified in the Complaint, not including Engler in this litigation would potentially make Dear Author subject to a substantial risk of incurring multiple or otherwise inconsistent obligations.

When asked why she wasn’t a plaintiff, here’s my answer in a comment on a previous post:
Last I heard, Jaid/Tina was 90% owner. As for why she’s not a plaintiff, my understanding of the legal concepts is that it’s a jurisdiction issue.
It’s a general principle of law that to sue for damages, you have to sue where the damage occurred. If someone published allegedly defamatory information on the internet about you and the person posting it was in Iowa and you’re based in Ohio, then the alleged damage occurred in Ohio. So that’s why EC sued in Ohio. (Note: this is a simplification because jurisdiction can get complicated.)
Catch is, Jaid lives in West Hollywood, California, so any alleged damage would be in California, and an Ohio court would not have jurisdiction to determine or award damages. Had Jaid also sued separately, then there probably would have been a motion to join both the cases in federal court, which is used to dealing with mixed jurisdiction cases.
However, California has strong anti-SLAPP protection, so California’s not a good jurisdiction for this particular case. As I understand it, anyway. (And, again, IANAL and TINLA.)
Getting back to the ownership issue: even when one is 90% owner of a corporation, the legal interests of the company and the legal interests of the individual may diverge significantly over the course of a trial, and it’s best practices to have separate counsel. That doubles the legal fees. In some cases, it may make sense to fold the company, and then the minority shareholders may wish to fight that, and that’s a completely separate issue from the interests of the individual majority owner as a person.
The simple way around this would have been to sue in federal court from the outset.
However, I’m not convinced that ¶ 12(f) and 12(g) in the complaint were strong allegations. They felt more like hurt feelings to me.

Seventh Affirmative Defense: Lack of Actual Malice

When in doubt, always look to the Supreme Court case that’s the seminal ruling on defamation law.

  1. Plaintiffs are general purpose public figures, or at least public figures in the context of Adult Romance publishers. Accordingly, their defamation claims are subject to the “actual malice” standard set forth in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which requires that the defendant made the allegedly defamatory statements with “knowledge that [they were] false or with reckless disregard of whether [they were] false or not.” 376 U.S. 254, 280 (1964).
  2. Dear Author at no point harbored any doubt as to the truth of the complained of statements, and had no reason to doubt their accuracy.
  3. As actual malice is a requirement to establish liability for defamation in these circumstances, Dear Author cannot be liable for Plaintiffs’ defamation claims.

Dear Author’s Counterclaim

Document here.
Can be summed up as: because the suit was filed as an abuse of process—in part because Dear Author is exempt under the CDA and in part because the claims are baseless—Dear Author is requesting compensatory and punitive damages as well as costs.

What’s Next?

I’m guessing Jane Litte’s answer, along with a likely counterclaim, are coming up next. Courtney will post on both after Jane’s is filed. Unless there’s something particularly interesting, I’ll probably just post a link to her article when it’s up.
There’s also a hearing on the 29th about the TRO/preliminary injunction, i.e., taking the Curious post offline.

Read More

Ellora's Cave: Dear Author's Motion in Opposition

22 October 2014

elloras-cave-blog-header

Earlier Documents of Note

  1. Dear Author’s blog post, The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave.
  2. Ellora’s Cave’s lawsuit, complete with the TRO request. (included in removal to federal court document) I analyze the memorandum of law and the request to out anonymous commenters in this post.
  3. The removal to federal court, which I posted the meat of the other day.

Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction

In the first substantive response to Ellora’s Cave’s lawsuit, Dear Author’s attorney, Marc Randazza, has filed an Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, and Courtney Milan has graciously hosted the 25-page PDF and its exhibits. Exhibits: (Exhibit A, from Jane Litte; Exhibit B, from an editor hired in 2003; Exhibit C, from an author first published by EC in 2007; Exhibit D, from an author first published by EC in 2013; Exhibit E, from an editor hired in 2012; Exhibit F, from an editor hired in 2013; Exhibit G is a true copy of tax liens and Workers’ Comp liens against EC and Tina Engler/Jaid Black.)
Courtney found it just before retiring for the evening. I’ve read it and the supporting documents (not included in the 25 pages). Courtney will post her own notes in the morning, but I’m going to write up a few comments about turns of phrase that amused me. Because of the miracle of the internet, I’m going to schedule this post for when I’m asleep. 🙂
Update: Courtney’s post is here, and it links to the exhibits not in the original opposition document. Thank you to all the people who provided statements.

Seems Like Old Times

Footnote at the bottom of page 3:

The defendant has gathered what evidence she could, informally. However, should this case continue, and perhaps prior to the hearing on this motion, she intends to depose the management of Ellora’s Cave. But, despite the reasonable and exceedingly courteous efforts of counsel for Plaintiffs, Ellora’s Cave and its management do not appear willing to provide deposition testimony before the hearing.

So, Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author, right? You’d think, given that they filed suit on September 26th, they’d love to have a quick deposition to ensure they get as much on the record to support their motion for a TRO/preliminary injunction, right?
This footnote basically says that EC’s stonewalling their own attorney who has been “reasonable and exceedingly courteous.”
If you read the order from the Brashear case, you’ll note this is a consistent tactic. Except in the DA case, EC’s the plaintiff, not the defendant.

The Ebola Footnote

Even if Ellora’s Cave were in perfect financial health, these are the symptoms of an ailing company. It is as if a perfectly healthy person were suffering from a severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. A reasonable person might say, with all candor and right to do so, that the patient appears to have Ebola symptoms. Of course, the subject might counter that they were only suffering from a hangover. But, the First Amendment would permit either observation.

Courtney’s right that this could be perceived as party dickishness insofar as two of the Ellora’s Cave cover models are currently in mandatory quarantine for ebola after being on Amber Vinson’s flight when coming home from the annual Ellora’s Cave convention, Romanticon.
However, I think it unlikely that Randazza knew about this issue, and did not intend it thus. Update: Randazza clarifies in comments to Courtney that, indeed, he did not know.

The Goulash Analogy

Ellora’s Cave nit picks minor possible factual inconsistencies, as a child might try to remove peas from goulash. However, even if a child despises peas, it does not make the goulash itself poisonous. Analysis of a defamation claim like this is like reasoning with the child who complains that because there are peas in the goulash, the goulash itself is inedible.
The goulash here is savory, even if the plaintiffs would prefer not to eat the peas.

Ohio Provides Better Protection than the First Amendment

While this is the national standard, Ohio law provides for more protection than the First Amendment demands. Under Ohio law, “the plaintiff must demonstrate, with convincing clarity, that the defendant published the defamatory statement either with actual knowledge that the statement was false, or with reckless disregard as to whether it was false.”

Failure to Demonstrate Irreparable Harm

Plaintiffs claim that “[i]t is clear that Ellora’s will suffer irreparable injury if Defendants are allowed to continue to publish the Blog Publication on the internet.” Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 4. However, Plaintiffs provide nothing to support this. Irreparable harm requires a showing that there is an insufficient remedy at law. Furthermore, for the harm to be irreparable, there must be more than monetary damages. “The basis of injunctive relief in the federal courts has always been irreparable harm and inadequacy of legal remedies.” Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 88 (1974). “A finding of irreparable harm is necessary before granting a preliminary injunction.” Bettcher Indus. v. Bunzl USA, Inc., 692 F.Supp.2d 805, 822 (N.D.Ohio 2010).

This is news to me (remember, I’m not a lawyer), but it’s fascinating. I’m guessing this has to do with one being a remedy at law and the other a remedy in equity.
So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and lo, apparently so. I’m a little rusty on this stuff, but at least I have good instincts.
In short: law remedies are things like monetary damages and equity remedies are things like injunctions or specific performance. “Inadequacy of legal remedies” in the quote above means that there isn’t money that can make up for the damage that’s caused.
In the Bluemile case cited below (which Randazza goes into more than I’ve quoted here), one company was impersonating another. There’s no way the impersonator throwing money at the trademark holder is going to make up for the damage that’s done. Therefore, it’s irreparable (in the “can’t be fixed with $” sense).
But EC presumably can monitor things like sales and royalties and know what’s going on with them at every moment. Even if they don’t monitor these things this closely, in theory they can. So, presumably, they can say, “well, this article cost $X in lost sales.” And then, if defamation were proved to be the cause of those lost sales (which is not easy), then there’s a remedy at law, so no remedy at equity is needed.
Now, if there were irreparable harm, that would need to be listed in the memorandum of law along with case law to support that. I have some ideas about what those kinds of things might include for EC, but it’s not my job to aid EC’s prosecution of its case—and a preliminary injunction wouldn’t help in any case.

The Section Every Author Should Read

pp. 16-18 where it talks about the public interest aspects of Dear Author’s blog, as well as the link to Author’s Rights When a Publisher Files Bankruptcy.

The Bluemile Cite

My first reaction when I read this case was an audible, “What the fuck?!?”
When I wrote up my own response, I wrote:

In my opinion (though, again, IANAL and TINLA), there is no similarity, and the “strikingly similar” made me wonder what quality pharmaceuticals the esteemed esquire had access to. In Bluemile, there was a clear intent to confuse the trademark held by the plaintiff and siphon off their potential customers by the defendant with a confusing domain name (bluemile.net). The defendant’s site was intended to be confusing.

Clearly, when someone’s trying to siphon off your business by confusing your potential customers, monetary damages aren’t enough.
Randazza covers this more deeply:

While Plaintiffs cite to Bluemile Inc. v. Yourcolo, LLC, in support of their Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the facts of that case are starkly different of the facts at hand. The only connection seems to be that a Preliminary Injunction was granted there and Plaintiffs are requesting one here.

Rick and I both laughed at that.

In Bluemile, the Southern District of Ohio confronted an intellectual property case and enjoined the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s trademark, enjoined defendants from using a website confusingly similar to plaintiff’s name, which then used that website to publish statements that were already determined to be defamatory. That case was premised on Lanham Act violations and trademark infringement, and the defamatory statements were merely an accessory to the Lanham Act violations. Trademark violations are more readily granted injunctive relief because the irreparable harm is presumed in such cases. Too, Inc. v. TJX Cos., 229 F.Supp.2d 825, 838 (S.D.Ohio 2002), Taubman Co. v. Webfeats, 319 F.3d 770, 778 (6th Cir. 2003).

Wait for it….

This is precisely the opposite of the law surrounding defamation.

Did you feel that slam dunk? I did. He goes on for another page and a half, too.

Standing

I remember studying jurisdiction until I was blue in the face, realizing I’d only begun to scratch the surface, but even I knew that the case had a problem with it.

Some of the comments Plaintiffs complain of specifically address Ms. Engler, who is not a party to this case. While Ms.[Litte’s] statements regarding Ms. Engler are not defamatory, they are also irrelevant unless and until Plaintiffs bring Ms. Engler into this litigation as a plaintiff. Plaintiffs lack the requisite standing to complain on behalf of Ms. Engler. “Elements of standing are an indispensable part of a plaintiff’s case.” Bourke v. Carnahan, 163 Ohio App.3d 818 (10th Dist. 2005). The onus is on Plaintiffs to demonstrate that they have suffered an injury, which is causally related to the defendants’ actions. Id. Plaintiffs are not entitled to recovery for statements made about individuals other than themselves. Statements about Ms. Engler’s personal life are not statements about Ellora’s Cave, and therefore, Plaintiffs lack the standing to sue over those statements.

Then, at the end of that section, Randazza adds:

If Ms. Engler wishes to join this case as a plaintiff, then the statements can be at issue. But, she is not here today, and she should not be permitted to litigate by proxy.

Bond, But Not James

Lastly, Plaintiffs have failed to offer up a bond, in violation of Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(C) and Ohio R. Civ. P. 65(C). Rule 65(C) requires the plaintiff post a bond, in order to ensure that damages may be accounted for, in the event the court later determines that the injunction was wrongly issued.

Per Randazza, it’d need to be a bond of at least $150,000.

Popcorn Good

I think the Internet is getting good popcorn value, here.

Read More

Ellora's Cave / Dear Author Suit Removed to Federal Court

20 October 2014

elloras-cave-blog-header
Jane Litte’s attorney, Marc Randazza (aka “First Amendment Badass”) has removed the case to federal court in the Northern District of Ohio. The federal case number is 5:14-cv-02331-JRA.
Additionally, DA has subpoenaed Google about the identity of a specific gmail account. Those were filed with the state court on 10/17.
Because federal court proceedings are almost entirely hidden behind a paywall (except for certain rulings), here’s the Amount in Controversy section from Randazza’s filing. Note that I’ve substituted Litte’s pseudonym for her legal name in the footnote.
I found the note about Ohio not permitting damages to be stated to be quite interesting. I hadn’t known that.

Amount in Controversy

The amount in controversy in this action exceeds $75,000.00. The Plaintiff only seeks a rote “in excess of $25,000” amount, and not a sum certain. Where the plaintiff has not plead any sum certain, in order to remove the case from state court to federal court, the defendant must demonstrate only that it is more likely than not that the amount in controversy is in excess of $75,000. Gafford v. Gen. Elec. Co., 997 F.2d 150, 158 (6th Cir.1993).
The Plaintiffs’ prayer for $25,000 is not the result of any omission on their part. Pursuant to the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, if the party seeks more than $25,000.00 in damages, the plaintiff may not specify this in the demand for judgment. Ohio R. Civ. P. 8(A). Therefore, while the complaint only states “in excess of $25,000” on its face, it is clear that the amount in controversy is in excess of $75,000.
Each plaintiff alleges entitlement to money damages and injunctive relief against each defendant, “in excess of $25,000.00.” This would seem to create an amount in controversy of “in excess of $100,000.” However, even under other possible calculations, the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
Communication with counsel for Plaintiffs has confirmed that Plaintiffs also believe that the amount in controversy is in excess of $75,000.00, making statements that the amount of damages Plaintiffs will be seeking is quite large and growing. In fact, if Plaintiff were awarded a mere $25,001 (in excess of $25,000) as compensatory damages and twice that amount, or $50,002, as punitive damages, the total damages would be $75,003. The jurisdictional amount in controversy analysis must take into account the availability of punitive damages “unless it is apparent to a legal certainty that such cannot be recovered.” Smith v. Nationwide Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 505 F.3d 401, 408 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Hayes v. Equitable Energy Res. Co., 266 F.3d 560, 572 (6th Cir. 2001)).
To determine whether the amount in controversy may be satisfied by the availability of punitive damages, the Court may consider verdicts and settlements in similar cases. See Leys v. Lowe’s Home Ctrs., Inc., No. 1:08-cv-1084, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16097, 2009 WL 514291, at *4 (W.D. Mich. March 2, 2009). In Lake County, a jury awarded $750,000 in a similar defamation claim. Blatnik v. Dennison, 148 Ohio App. 3d 494 (Ohio Ct. App. 2002). More recently, in the Southern District of Ohio, a jury awarded $100,000. Young v. Gannett, Case No. 1:10-cv-00483. In another case involving the reputation of a schoolteacher and cheerleader, which must be worth less than the reputation of a large company like Ellora’s Cave, the jury awarded $338,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Jones v. Dirty World Entm’t Recordings LLC, 755 F.3d 398 (6th Cir. 2014) (Overturning jury award due to immunity under 47 U.S.C. § 230).
Not only do similar jury awards support the amount in controversy, but the Complaint and affidavit of Patricia Marks both make it clear that the plaintiffs value this case in excess of $75,000. The complaint alleges that there has been a loss of goodwill and reputational damage to the plaintiffs (Complaint at ¶30) and seeks punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. (Complaint at ¶31, 39, Demand). Further, the Complaint and Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order articulate that the Plaintiffs find the damages to be “irreparable” and apparently of such value that they are “impossible to quantify.” Meanwhile, seeking a TRO against speech must indicate that this is, at least, as important to the Plaintiff as a mere $75,000.
The Plaintiffs quest for injunctive relief and punitive damages are properly included in determining the amount in controversy. See In re Ford Motor Co. Crown Victoria Police Interceptor Prods. Liab. Litig., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29971, 2004 WL 1170145 (N.D. Ohio May 19, 2004); Everett v. Verizon Wireless, Inc., 460 F.3d 818, 829 (6th Cir. 2006) (“The costs of complying with an injunction, whether sought by one plaintiff or many plaintiffs, may establish the amount in controversy”). In this case, the Defendants will attest that complying with the requested injunctive relief would cost them in excess of $75,000. The requested injunctive relief seeks to enjoin the Defendants from publishing anything about the Plaintiffs in any way, and requires that the Defendants violate their promise of confidentiality to their sources. In the event that either injunctive relief were granted, the Defendants would suffer at least $75,000 in losses, and would in fact, likely need to consider going out of business altogether. If a journalist can not protect her sources,1 and if a journalist can be enjoined from writing about one of her primary subjects, then the journalists is surely damaged at least to the tune of $75,000 in either event.
Footnote in above paragraph. Note: I’ve substituted Jane Litte’s pseudonym for her real name.
1 Ms. Litte’s right to protect her sources is of such value in this state that the legislature has chosen to ennoble it by protecting it by statute. O.R.S. § 2739.12. Litte’s home jurisdiction offers the same protection under Iowa’s common law. See Winegard v. Oxberger, 258 N.W.2d 847, 850, (Iowa 1977) (recognizing the “reporter’s privilege); Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier v. Hawkeye Cmty. College, 646 N.W.2d 97, 102 (Iowa 2002) (“The privilege protects confidential sources, unpublished information, and reporter’s notes”). The evisceration of such a sacred right should most definitely be given a value in excess of $75,000.

Read More

How a Book Can Change Your Life

20 October 2014

In Summer 1995, I picked up a book in a bookstore in Keene, New Hampshire where I worked before heading home for the weekend.
I was enticed by the Stephen King blurb.
I lived nearly 180 miles north in North Troy, Vermont.
Now, I didn’t always start books right away, but this one I was really looking forward to. In its own weird way, it changed the course of my life. Two years later, I’d be working as an immunology software engineer, though I ultimately decided not to pursue the additional degree(s) needed for more work in that particular field.
The blurb?

“The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I’ve read in my whole life—and then it gets worse. That’s what I keep marveling over: it keeps getting worse. What a remarkable piece of work.” —Stephen King

Richard, then my partner and later my husband (not to be confused with Rick, my husband of 14 years) marveled that I was able to read the book in bed, turn off the light, and go to sleep. And stay asleep.
It’s not that I didn’t find the book terrifying. I did. It’s just that, for me, those horrors were so much worse than what I’d imagined, my own fears began to subside.
Before reading The Hot Zone, The Coming Plague, A Dancing Matrix, and other related works, I was always very fearful and squeamish about things medical. I was the kid who ran and hid under the doctor’s desk when it was time to get a shot.
I couldn’t watch a surgery scene on TV or in a movie. Just couldn’t.
After Richard died, I found myself watching a show about organ transplantation, showing transplant surgery, less than a week after I’d donated his organs. My neighbor wanted to make sure I was really okay with it. I was, which surprised me. I still avoid surgery scenes in movies and TV, but I’m not as horrified by them as I used to be.
I’d taken astronomy and geology rather than biology so I wouldn’t have to dissect anything. In Vermont, I finally took biology and the only things they made us dissect that first term were black flies. I hated them so much by that point (nasty, painful welts from bites if you didn’t know), I looked forward to stabbing them.
Eventually, I realized it would be a really long time before I could get through a Ph.D. or an M.D./Ph.D. program, so I decided to focus on the Master’s degrees I wanted.
But still, that book changed the course of my life.

Read More

Axl and Taylor: Ebola Quarantine Now Mandatory

19 October 2014

[![Photo Credit: CDC / Dr. Frederick A. Murphy, color and border mine](/images/2014/10/ebola.jpg)](/images/2014/10/ebola.jpg)Photo Credit: CDC / Dr. Frederick A. Murphy, color and border mine

For those who aren’t following along, Axl Goode and Taylor Cole are cover models and authors for Ellora’s Cave and strippers as their other job.
Axl reports on facebook:> UPDATE: After writing this entry I was—finally—issued a mandatory quarantine by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

That update was about two hours ago.

Their Gofundme fundraiser

Can be found here.

Photos of the Guys

I just realized I haven’t posted photos of them apart from a couple group shots and a blurry one.
Taylor (left), Kathy Wright Johnson, and Axl:
Taylor_and_Axl
Axl on the Silks:
axl-on-silks
And Taylor:
taylor
So, there ya go.

Read More

New Adult Romance: A Few Books

19 October 2014

I’ve had this post sitting around for six weeks or so since I last modified it. About time to publish it, right? I was talking with a friend at dinner, then realized, “Gosh, if I’d published this post, she’d already know.”
I really think New Adult Romance is the killer category for indie publishing. It’s certainly one in which I’ve found a some great books, though several of those have been picked up by mainstream publishers after initial publication.
The basic romance formula is simple: two people (or, sometimes, more than two people) who have various obstacles that prevent them from having the One Great Relationship, who overcome those obstacles because the other person (or people) change them enough.
Not so easy to write, though.
Here’s some I’ve loved.

Sarina Bowen, The Year We Fell Down

Linky link.
I picked this one up based on the DA review.
She’s a varsity hockey player who’s had a career-ending injury. He’s a hockey player who fell off a climbing wall while he was drunk off his ass, and he’s taking the year off to recover.

“Instead, we went into the hallway together in silence. But there, my reverie was broken by the sight of a guy hanging up a white board on the wall outside of his door. My first glimpse was of a very tight backside and muscled arms. He was attempting to tap a nail into the wall without letting his crutches fall to the ground. “Damn,” he said under his breath as one of them toppled anyway.
And when he turned around, it was as if the sun had come out after a rainy day.

I really felt her frustrations, being that person who’s often sitting in a corner at parties because I can’t stand for very long. And yet, she doesn’t let you feel sorry for her, because she mostly doesn’t feel sorry for herself.
Most importantly, she never feels that she’s not good enough for the guy in question (which is one of my pet peeve romance tropes). Meanwhile, he’s still got this sucktastic relationship with a woman who needs a man with an expense account, and he knows he’s not “good enough” for her. In fact, the reverse is true.
This one’s still an indie book, and I want to add: it’s one of the cleanest (copyediting-wise) I’ve seen from any publisher. Kudos.

Sarina Bowen, The Understatement of the Year

Linky link.
This is the third novel (fourth book) in the Ivy Years series. I really loved the second book also. The novella’s fine, but this book is what really stands out of the later books in the series.
I’ll just let her tell it:

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual preference from everyone. Including himself.
So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

This book brought back what it was like to be the straight best friend of a young, closeted gay guy who was trying to navigate his sexual preference for the first time.
If I had to pick my favorite book of the year, so far the above two are tied. I’ve got quite a few on my shortlist, though.

Katy Evans, Real

Linky, link.
This one I found on the iBooks bestseller charts and downloaded a sample, and it’s one of those that was picked up by a big publisher.
I don’t normally like books about fighters because I’m really seriously not into the alpha men who fight for a living. Except in books, apparently.

“I dare you to look at him and tell me you wouldn’t do anything for that man.”
“I wouldn’t do anything for that man,” I instantly repeat, just to win.
“You’re not looking!” she squeals. “Look at him. Look.”
She grabs my face and swings my gaze in the direction of the ring, but I start laughing instead. Melanie loves men. Loves to sleep with them, stalk them, drool about them, and yet when she catches them, she can never really hold onto them. I, on the other hand, am not interested in getting involved with anyone.
Not when my romantic little sister, Nora, has had enough boyfriends, and drama, for both of us.
I stare up at the stage as the guy whips off the satin red robe with the word RIPTIDE on the back, and the spectators stand screaming and cheering as he slowly turns to acknowledge them all. His face is suddenly before me, illuminated by the lights, and I just stare like an idiot from my place. My god.
My.
God.
Dimples.
Dark scruffy jaw.
Boyish smile. Man’s body.
Killer tan.
A shiver shoots down my spine as I helplessly drink in the entire package everyone else seems to be gaping at.

Remy’s not neurotypical, and I loved the descriptions of the nuances of his character. I think once she labels it, it feels less real, so I’m glad that is very minimized. It’s not “he’s got X,” it’s all in his behavior.
There are aspects of this relationship that are troubling. Sure, she’s got her dream job and he’s got his, but the relationship is so tightly interwoven that it just feels like it can’t help but being unhealthy. And yet, it shifts in the second book, which I’m now reading.
What I love, though, is that no one is giving up their careers. Unlike a lot of other romance books, their particular careers mesh.
After having read all the books now out, I’ll add: they all three work, and the book from his POV (Remy) helps fill in the cracks.
Dear Author review.

Jay Crownover, Rule

Linky link.
I loved the first book, not as crazy about the subsequent books. Also wish there were a stronger command of language or, failing that, copyediting. Now that she’s got a major publisher, one would hope there’d be a larger budget for that. (Update: I just read the fish book, Rowdy, and it didn’t have the same problems.)
The characters, however, are broken in just the right ways. It’s told from alternating first POV, which I personally like a lot when it’s done well.
She’s always been in love with him, but he goes through women the way some women go through Kleenex. He’s always been interested in her, but believes she was the girlfriend of his twin who committed suicide—and therefore off limits.

“You’re going to get all that junk that’s in your hair all over my window.” Her voice—all cigarettes and whiskey—didn’t match the rest of her, which was all champagne and silk. I had always liked her voice; when we got along I could listen to her talk for hours.
“I’ll get it detailed.”
She snorted. I closed my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest. I was all set for a silent ride, but apparently she had things to say today, because as soon as she pulled the car onto the highway she turned the radio down and said my name. “Rule.”
I turned my head slightly to the side and cracked open an eye. “Shaw.” Her name was just as fancy as the rest of her.

Despite the fact that this is weaker in some respects than other books I’m listing, it was my gateway drug into new adult romance.

Kylie Scott, Lick

Linky link.
One of my sweet spots is a reader is rock ‘n roll heroes.
It’s a variant on the old “secret wedding” theme: in the book’s opening, the heroine wakes up married. Hilarity ensues.

“Something winked at me from my left hand, snagging my attention. A ring, but not just any ring. An amazing ring, a stupendous one.
“Holy shit,” I whispered.
It couldn’t be real. It was so big it bordered on obscene. A stone that size would cost a fortune. I stared, bemused, turning my hand to catch the light. The band beneath was thick, solid, and the rock sure shone and sparkled like the real deal.
As if.
“Ah, yeah. About that …” he said, dark brows drawn down. He looked vaguely embarrassed by the ice rink on my finger. “If you still wanna change it for something smaller, that’s okay with me. It is kinda big. I do get your point about that.”
I couldn’t shake the feeling I knew him from somewhere. Somewhere that wasn’t last night or this morning or anything to do with the ridiculous beautiful ring on my finger.
“You bought me this?” I asked.
He nodded. “Last night at Cartier.”
“Cartier?” My voice dropped to a whisper. “Huh.”

Unlike many of the others, this one started out with a major publisher and was never self-published.
Dear Author review.

H. M. Ward, a metric ton of books

Linky link.
There’s no easy way to say this other than be truthful: H. M. Ward writes my kind of crack. She could use a proofreader, though not as much as Crownover.
Ward’s best known for the (currently) 16-volume (each novella length) Arrangement series, but there are side series that are related, too.

The Arrangement

Avery’s a college student with an impossible work/courseload and too little money whose parents died in a car crash. She only has herself to rely on.
Sean’s an incredibly rich (of course) guy who wants a certain kind of relationship. In the opening, someone steals Avery’s car as she’s trying to spray-start it. He helps her go after the thief, which is how they meet.

“Does your car always do that?” A pair of blue eyes meets mine and the floor of my stomach gives way. Damn, he’s cute. No, not cute—he’s hot.
“Get jacked? No, not always.”
He smiles. There’s a dusting of stubble on his cheeks. I can barely see it because of the helmet. He raises an eyebrow at me and asks, “This has happened before, hasn’t it?”
More times than you’d think. Criminals are really stupid. “Let’s just say, this isn’t the first time I had to chase after the car.”

Melony, Avery’s closest friend, takes her for a job interview. Avery thinks it’ll be for something like hotel clerk, but no, it’s for becoming a call girl. The interviewer, Miss Black, shows Avery the photo of a new client. It’s Sean.
Just one problem: Avery’s still got her v-card. Will she? Won’t she?
This series takes some incredibly wild-ass turns, and I loved it. Some of them I saw wind up like clockwork, and some surprised me. I can’t wait until the whole thing’s finished and I can re-read it from scratch.

The Secret Life of Trystan Scott

This is a five-part young adult story of Trystan Scott’s high school years. It’s set three years before The Arrangement. He has a pretty awful home life, but no one quite understands how broken he is. Fortunately, things improve for him. Eventually.
Trystan isn’t a Ferro, but he later becomes a good friend of the family and appears in the later Arrangement books.
There will be a later Trystan Scott series contemporary with The Arrangement; the first volume is due out soon.

Scandalous

Scandalous is a two-volume book that’s not Ferro, but is mentioned in the Ferro series. He’s an artist who paints nudes. She got away from him and has been a preacher. She becomes his muse. Nice inherent conflict. Really loved it.

The Proposition

After her father dies suddenly, college student Hallie writes a torrid erotic novel about the love she lost: Bryan Ferro, the man she loved, lost, and never told anyone about. Catch is, she’s now with Neil, who’s just Mr. Blah, and fears that other people will think the novel’s about his relationship with Hallie.
The novel has attracted enough buzz that seven-figure offers are coming in, so Neil’s tune starts to change.
Bryan, however, hasn’t forgotten Hallie, and shows up in her life. Only he’s got secrets of his own.

Secrets & Lies

The first of this seven-part series is out.
Kerry’s luck is hilariously bad, from accidentally winding up with a school bus to having her possessions shipped accidentally to Guam. She’s also wound up suckered into nude modeling, and, well, her one-night stand blows her off.
Until he doesn’t.

Nathan is trailing me and smiling that cocky grin that guys wear when a woman shoots them down. He mirrors my pose, which makes his arms look lickable. “Exactly what part of Hell has to freeze over before you give me another try? The foyer? The basement?”
I don’t want to laugh, but the idea of Hell having a basement is funny. I get a picture in my head of an old guy burying bodies at the bottom of a staircase, next to a creepy furnace. It amuses me. “Level nine, ya know, the basement.”
He presses his hand to his heart. “That’s a long ways down.”
“Yes, but the fall was fast. I bet you hit your ass on the way down.”

Damaged

Sean’s younger brother Peter has given up the Ferro family fortune and the strings that attach it, and gone and gotten himself a professorship. Sidney has been a grad student and finally agrees to a blind date set up by a friend, only she sees Peter on the way in and thinks that’s her blind date.
Her actual blind date is an amazing jerk, so Sidney dumps him. She heads to the parking lot, and hot guy is out there. His car won’t start.

“He watches me as I try to crank the engine. It doesn’t start. I look at the little gauges and notice the battery. He’s standing next to me now. “So, you’re a mechanic?”
I shake my head, “I just pretend to be. It makes for more interesting evenings.” I grin at him, not sure what’s come over me.

One of the things I like about H. M. Ward’s women: they’re not stereotypical.

Stripped

Black sheep of the Ferro family Jon—who until now has been known for banging his father’s endless series of younger mistresses—discovers that his long-lost love is working in a strip club. The one who got away was Cassie. The story slips between the narrative past, when they met, and the narrative present, when they meet again.

Jonathan trails behind me. “You’re the first chick who’s shot me down.”
“Good, then maybe you’ll learn something.”
Jonathan stops walking for a second and then races after me. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were trying to teach me a lesson.” The infuriating smirk on his lips is still there, bright and beautiful. “You see, I was distracted by your perfectly sinful body. My brain actually exploded back there when you said you only use it for good, which isn’t good at all, since that makes you off limits.”
I’m smiling, and trying to suppress the grin, but I can’t help it. I reach into my purse and pull out a Kleenex. I hold it over my shoulder for him. “Here’s a tissue, go clean it up.”

The Wedding Contract

The rare one-volume piece from Ward. It’s a fun read about rival wedding photographers Nick Ferro and Sky, and draws from Ward’s time in the trenches in the wedding industry.

Suggested Reading Order for Ferro Books

Courtesy of the Ferroholics on facebook.
SIMPLIFIED READING ORDER
Scandalous 1 & 2 (not Ferro : mentioned in Stripped)
The Secret Life of Trystan Scott 1 – 5 (Not Ferro: becomes character in Ferro books)
The Arrangement 1 – 6
Damaged 1 & 2
The Arrangement 7 – 11
Stripped
The Proposition 1 – 4
The Arrangement 12 – 14
The Proposition 5
The Arrangement 15 -16
The Wedding Contract
Secrets and Lies 1
Second Chances (Not Ferro: there’s a brief Ferro cameo)

Secrets

Five-book set that’s finished. Anna’s a photographer who plans to deliberately blow a job interview with Cole so she can work at a different studio instead. He’s cleverer than she is and hires her anyway.

Read More

Ebola: Miscellaneous Notes

18 October 2014

[![Photo Credit: CDC / Dr. Frederick A. Murphy, color and border mine](/images/2014/10/ebola.jpg)](/images/2014/10/ebola.jpg)Photo Credit: CDC / Dr. Frederick A. Murphy, color and border mine

Say you’re a nurse taking temperatures for a guy who’s been potentially exposed to ebola and is quarantined at home.
You’d expect that there would be at least minimal safety precautions, right?
Taylor reports:> Taylor Cole questioned the health protocol of the nurse who visits him. “She didn’t have gloves on.”

::facepalm::
If you’re not supposed to be within three feet of other people, as Taylor and Axl were advised, gloves seem sensible precautions. Every nurse knows how to remove gloves so they don’t contaminate their hands.
I get that it’s very unlikely that Taylor and Axl have ebola, and some people may feel they’re taking precautions to extremes.
I view it this way: they don’t want to spread it if they have it and they’re ensuring that they can’t.
The nurse, on the other hand…. When I went to the ER, the nurse didn’t use gloves to take my temperature, but my risk profile was different.
True, I didn’t happen to mention having been jumped on by wild Gibraltar Barbary macaques 17 days earlier. (Ebola Reston involved macaques.) None of the Gibraltar macaques were known to be infected, nor had I traveled to Africa. Just to one of the closest points in Europe.
Also, the nurse did use gloves any time direct touch of my skin was involved, e.g., when inserting an IV, when giving me pain meds, etc.

Here’s a Great Post

Axl’s Oct 16 update.
When asked about who he blamed, he wrote a long post. Here are two quotes:

So in the end, no one is to blame. We can only take responsibility. I for one want to take responsibility for what has happened. Every single passenger that boarded flight 1143 played a part in that moment taking place. Now we get to play our part in trying to minimize the repercussions of possibly being infected. […]
As communities, this is the best thing we can do. Rather than fighting a problem, we’re finding a solution. I can only encourage others to do the same. If we as a people weren’t so concerned with blame and held solutions as a higher priority our politicians might hold those same priorities. Rather than worrying about covering their backs, they would be looking to create a better future for all.

Dr. Jen Gunter’s Post

This is a good post.…but it does overlook a few points.

  1. Mr. Duncan’s family was very used to living under the “ebola rules”—no touching, no getting close to people.
  2. We don’t know that no one else got ill because Mr. Duncan was sick. We do know no one else in the US did that we don’t know about, given the small number of cases here.
  3. We do know that people who treated him during the first hospital visit (when the hospital was doing, as Rick put it, “wallet triage”), didn’t fall ill.
  4. 21 days is not an absolute number. Paper detailing quarantine periods for ebola. 95% of people who got ebola were symptomatic within 21 days of exposure. I haven’t read the paper to see the breakdown of the other 5%, but I suspect some of it may simply be there wasn’t a known date or time of transmission because they couldn’t trace it back.
  5. The widely-spread story about Mr. Duncan carrying a pregnant woman is false according to Duncan’s nephew:

    Among the most offensive errors in the media during my uncle’s illness are the accusations that he knew he was exposed to Ebola; that is just not true. He lived in a careful manner, as he understood the dangers of living in Liberia amid this outbreak. He limited guests in his home; he did not share drinking cups or eating utensils.
    And while the stories of my uncle helping a pregnant woman with Ebola are courageous, Thomas Eric personally told me that never happened. Like hundreds of thousands of West Africans, carefully avoiding Ebola was part of my uncle’s daily life.
    And I can tell you with 100 percent certainty: Thomas Eric would have never knowingly exposed anyone to this illness.

So, without that narrative, we really don’t know how Mr. Duncan was exposed or what happened. We’ve all lived with the comfort that that can’t be us because we “know” what happened.
Dr. Gunter’s right: ebola’s not easy to catch. However, were I in Axl and Taylor’s position, I think I’d be as careful as they are.

Read More

Post-Romanticon: Axl & Taylor's Self-Imposed Ebola Quarantine

16 October 2014

[![Taylor and Axl on the silks](/images/2014/10/540374_10152572004902023_9129061453631935830_n-700x393.jpg)](/images/2014/10/540374_10152572004902023_9129061453631935830_n.jpg)Taylor and Axl on the silks

I’ve posted about this on Twitter, but I only amended my Romanticon post to include word of the quarantine.
However, given the fundraiser I just discovered, I’m copying the amendment into this post so it gets more attention and adding the fundraising link below.
Frankly, no one who goes to to any convention should have to fear coming down with something as horrific as ebola. ## First: Quarantine, the Origins Of

Quarantine comes from the Italian word quarantq, meaning 40: the number of days you had to wait before your ship could enter Venice. It was used to prevent spread of the plague. It didn’t work so well back then, mostly because disease transmission was so poorly understood, so that’s why all the gondolas in Venice are painted black.

Jaid’s Message and Axl’s Message

Jaid Black posted a notice about potential exposure to ebola. Dallas nurse Amber Vinson, who now is confirmed to have ebola, was in Akron during the same time period that Romanticon was held.

According to news reports, the infected woman, a healthcare worker who treated “Patient Zero,” was in Akron visiting family. She did not show signs of infection until already in Akron. The CDC has confirmed that she was definitely symptomatic while traveling from Cleveland to Dallas on October 13 so if you know anyone else on that flight please have them contact the CDC IMMEDIATELY.
Romanticon attendees (other than those on flight 1143) have nothing to worry about… according to the CDC. As they haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information, and we have no idea where in Akron this woman was, I am asking EC employees and Romanticon attendees in general, to self-monitor their health for the next 3 weeks. A list of symptoms can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/symptoms/

Further, two of the Cavemen, Axl and Taylor (who are also both EC authors), were on the same flight as Vinson. After consulting with the CDC, they are both in self-imposed quarantine for 21 days.
Here’s Axl’s story.
Axl and Taylor appear briefly on this GMA segment speaking about their self-quarantine.
My hope is that everyone will be fine, but I’m sure thoughts and prayers are welcome. Axl gives his contact information in his facebook post if you wish to reach out to him.
Facebook links: Axl Goode and Taylor Cole takeitoff

The GoFundMe

Can be found here.
What we do know:

  1. They were apparently sitting very close to nurse Vinson on the same flight. (See Daily Mail link below for pics.)
  2. They feel it is in the safety of all concerned if they are conservative and self-quarantine. I applaud this, but it’s not cheap. (As to whether or not I’d contribute, the question is rhetorical, sadly.)
  3. Unlike some of us, they don’t have the sort of job where they can work from home.

I think the Daily Mail really has the winning caption here: Ebola Strippers. That’s not a disease vector I’d ever want to have happen.
If you’re inclined to either contribute or spread the word, please do so.
I know there are reasons to not support GoFundMe because of their policies; I’m sure if you contact Axl there are other means to help if that’s an issue for you.

My Own Experience With Quarantining

When I was at Apple, I came down with shingles. One of my colleagues was pregnant, and as shingles/varicella is of particular risk to the unborn, I was asked to work from home until it cleared up.
Now, shingles is not particularly contagious. Truly. When kids have chicken pox, it’s the way kids interact with the world more than the contagiousness that’s the problem.
But I respected that, and worked from home for about a week. This meant I had to miss the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference that year. Again, it was best for all concerned that I did so.
However, I had a job where I could work at home. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Special Comment Policy for This Post

I’d rather not debate the merits of the fundraiser in the comments. Respectful questions are fine.

Read More

The Hip Continues

16 October 2014

FreshDesignElements-7843_800
Well, it’s been just over a month since I did whatever the hell it was I did to my hip. I suspect transferring between boat and ship or somesuch.
I didn’t talk about my experience being injected with IV pain meds. They tried a non-naarcotic first and that made me hurt worse. It had a rolling effect where it would hurt less, and then it’d hurt more. When it hurt more, my pulse would race and set off the alarm, which just stressed me out further until I figured out what was going on. Then I’d just watch it.
I couldn’t sit still. I tried lying down, only I kept tossing side to side (they put the railings up, clever people). I tossed the blanket off three times because I was just that uncomfortable. Then I asked for a chair. Then the chair wasn’t comfortable. Then I tried to stand. No good. It was brutal.
The poor guy on my right came in for some heart-related thing and the woman on the other side of him was pregnant and far more vocal about her pain. I felt sad for him listening to both of us.
So the second time, they also gave me narcotics. As my doc said yesterday, “I can’t believe how much heavy narcotics they gave you.” I can. Made me woozy, but didn’t knock me flat. It reduced my pain from about 8-9.5 (depending) down to 7-8.5. Progress.

The Fibromyalgia and Myofasical Problems

One of the complicating factors any time I hurt is this: how much of it is real pain vs. how much of what I’m experiencing is altered pain perception because of fibromyalgia or myofascial pain.
For example, if I reach up and run my fingers through my hair and that hurts, that’s fibromyalgia. If I reach up and run my fingers through my hair and it doesn’t, no fibro. That’s a really clear-cut case.
A myo example: once, Rick reached out to touch my upper arm. It sent shooting pains down my arm and I flinched. That’s myofascial pain. If it had continued after the touching stopped, it could also be partly fibro pain (since I have both).
Bringing this back to the hip issue: given the nature of the hip:

  1. Some pressure is probably always, or almost always, on muscles that may have myofascial pain issues,
  2. It’s impossible to tell, at any given time, what percentage of the pain I’m experiencing is fibro-related. Or myo-related.

One thing I do know, though: if I’m sleeping very well, I’m in a lot less pain. I haven’t been sleeping well for a month. Most nights I get a single stretch of 4-6 hours, and that’s pretty much it. I need 8.

The Post-ER Doctor Visit

I had my post-ER doctor visit yesterday.
So my doctor’s like, well, this isn’t really getting better, we need a new approach. I convinced her that probably the best approach was doubling the opioids (tramadol aka Ultram) that work well for my fibro & myo, and halving the opiates (norco) that don’t. Point of clarification here: for me, opiates will mask fibro pain, but they don’t break the flare cycle. But opioids actually break the flare cycle. For me, nothing else has except good sleep (and tricyclics help with that, but haven’t been helping lately).
Right now, I really have zero idea how much of what I’m experiencing is fibro, myo, or neither. It’s probably some evil combination that we just haven’t thrown the right med combination at to get anywhere. (Assuming we don’t have to resort to MRI/CT scan to find some other cause entirely. I’m hoping that’s not the case.)
The opiods also last longer (though not 12 hours, sadly, no matter what the docs say) and maybe I’ll have a chance of sleeping through the night. That didn’t work last night, but we’ll see how it goes.
Catch is, I feel a bit more fragile on the opioids. So I felt well enough to try to cook something. Only that had me shaking and ready to collapse in a heap on the floor.
Two steps forward, one step back. If I can manage enough steps, I think I’l get there.

Read More

I'm on Writing Excuses!

16 October 2014

[![Photo by Sergey Zolkin](/images/2014/10/cA4aKEIPQrerBnp1yGHv_IMG_9534-3-2-800-700x466.jpg)](/images/2014/10/cA4aKEIPQrerBnp1yGHv_IMG_9534-3-2-800.jpg)Photo by Sergey Zolkin

I’m extremely honored to be a guest on Writing Excuses this week, talking about the author-convention relationship from the convention programming head point of view.
So here are a few tips, in no particular order, to make it easier for programming staff: 1. Have a website. Better: have a website with your own domain name.

  1. When contacting programming staff for a convention, don’t assume they know who you are. These are volunteer positions. I’ve been the third head of programming for a given year, as an example.
  2. What makes you interesting may be a combination of what your writing skills are plus all the other skills you have. Even though I’ve volunteered for science fiction and fantasy conventions, I’ve put together panels on things like antique motorbikes. Don’t assume you’re not interesting, and don’t limit your usefulness by saying you’re interested in speaking only about writing.
  3. Don’t claim that you can speak on any writing topic. That’s a warning sign. No one can.
  4. Don’t ask to speak on panels with the Guests of Honor unless you know them personally. This is a warning sign that you’re being a social climber.
  5. Do offer to speak at the times when a lot of people don’t want to be scheduled: early morning, especially after a heavy party night. Late at night. Opposite the masquerade. The more open you are to times when it’s hard to find people, the more likely you are to be invited.
  6. Even if you usually speak at a local convention, don’t be insulted if you’re not asked one year. It can’t be the same convention every single year.
  7. Remember: the purpose of speaking at a convention is to entertain the audience at the convention. Side effects like making yourself known and selling more books are not the primary purpose.

Audiobook of the Week

The SaintI got to pick the audio book of the week, which is Tiffany Reisz’s The Saint. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.
Before she became Manhattan’s most famous dominatrix, Nora Sutherlin was merely a girl called Eleanor…
Rebellious, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn’t want to break. She’s sick of her mother’s zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she’ll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Marcus Stearns—Søren to her and only her—and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Eleanor is consumed—yet even she knows that being in love with a priest can’t be right.
But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. When she vows to repay him with complete obedience, a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets that will change everything.
Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.

My Comments About the Book

This is the fifth of Tiffany Reisz’s books about Nora Sutherlin, but the first in the prequel series. As such, it’s not intended to stand alone as the first book. If you haven’t read the first series, you may wish to start with The Siren.
Also, as you may gather from the description, this series of books gets all sorts of adult content warnings. Tiffany’s also got an interesting HuffPo piece, What’s a Writer Gotta Do To Get Banned Around Here?

Read More