Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Ellora's Cave: Don't Bet on Black

12 April 2015

Ellora's Cave: Don't Bet on Black
Every single time I’m convinced the Ellora’s Cave situation can’t take another weird turn (I mean, c’mon, Ebola strippers? What are the freakin’ odds?)—well, let’s just say that I’m rarely disappointed because there’s always something new and strange.
I found out about this side project of Jaid Black’s two days ago, and I can’t help but shake my head repeatedly over it. On the bright side, at least I’m getting my neck exercises in.
Here’s a screenshot of the latest project, Bet on Black Books, which has a header link proudly titled “Self Publish With Us.”
bet on black homepage

So. Tone. Deaf.

Does Jaid Black have any idea how tone deaf this comes across?
Why would anyone need to “bet on” anything?
If this were a portal for, say, books about gambling strategy—it would be a great site name. As something that’s ostensibly otherwise, though, it’s like you’re supposed to bet on her reputation. Which, when it comes to women’s reputations and betting, it’s just skeevy to me.
Furthermore, expecting customers to bet on Jaid Black’s reputation just seems incredibly strange.
Also, the timing of this is interesting. If you look at the domain screencap further down, the domain was registered a couple of days before the mass layoffs at Ellora’s Cave last August. And this is supposed to inspire confidence to “bet on” Jaid Black?
And yet, at the same time, it’s less appropriative a name than Ellora’s Cave, which also appropriates a second culture of color with its logo. So, um, better? Differently wrong?
I don’t even.

Wait, What, Self Publish?

Basically, it’s an electronic store for books. You know, like Amazon. Except this one’s newly-built with outdated technology on a free website builder with a cart service several of us (who have spent more than our fair share of time with shopping cart services) have never heard of.
Yeah, you also have to sign a contract when you submit.
There are a lot of interesting nuances in the FAQ that are not in the contract.
Things like:

When you buy a book from Bet On Black Books, you own it permanently.

Unlike, say, every single other ebook agreement, possibly making new case law in doctrine of first sale as it applies to ebooks.
Courtney Milan had a few comments as well:

@AlishaRai What. Someone created a storefront for just self-published books and they think they can offer worse terms?@suleikhasnyder

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

@AlishaRai Also, you make more on a lower priced book… I guess transaction costs don’t matter? @suleikhasnyder

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

@AlishaRai It looks like she just copied her publishing contract without thinking. There’s stuff in that that makes no sense otherwise.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

This one is particularly important as it involves a significant downside risk:

@AlishaRai I mean, she’s claiming the right to prosecute a suit for infringement where she had no exclusive rights. Why.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

@AlishaRai Also. Just don’t do business with a self-publishing portal that can’t afford to have a lawyer look at its boilerplate.

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

As a general rule, I suggest avoiding self-publishing portals that don’t use competent lawyers to look over their boilerplate. #notchilled

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

(Standard disclaimer : last tweet on behalf of myself and not anyone else etc etc)

— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) April 10, 2015

There Are Illegitimate Sites Selling Books Out There

Modest though my own sales are, I’ve found my own books on sites selling them for $—sites that never had any intention of paying me any royalties. These sites are often based on the same kind of free site builders and payment gateways.
Note that I don’t believe Black’s intentions are untoward here, it’s just that, were I a potential customer who didn’t know who she was but happened across the site, I wouldn’t assume it’s legitimate. I admit that the gambling metaphor would be my first red flag.
But there are times when I was buying things in market sectors I knew less well than publishing, desperately wanted something, but didn’t buy it because it just didn’t feel entirely above board.

If You’re an Author, Should You Sell Here?

I’m going to say it: I believe it’s a bad idea to sell your books through this site.
If you want to sell your books off of a web site other than Amazon, you can sell them off your own site, get the money more quickly, not have to contract with another company, and make more money. Oh, and note that the Bet on Black contract does not specify when or how frequently you will be paid.
Let’s say you have a book you’d like to sell for $1.99, and you sell it today (April 12th, as I write this)

| Sales Outlet | You’d Receive | When | |---|---|---| | Bet on Black Books | $1.49 | Undefined | | Amazon | $0.70 | end of June | | B&N Nook | $0.80 | end of June | | iBooks | $1.39 | mid-June | | Kobo | $1.39 | (monthly or semi-annually) | | Smashwords | $1.69 | mid-July | | Your Own Site | $1.63 | *Today* |

And let’s look at the $2.99 level, too:

| Sales Outlet | You’d Receive | When | |---|---|---| | Bet on Black Books | $2.09 | Undefined | | Amazon | $2.09 | end of June | | B&N Nook | $1.94 | end of June | | iBooks | $2.09 | mid-June | | Kobo | $2.09 | (monthly or semi-annually) | | Smashwords | $2.54 | mid-July | | Your Own Site | $2.60 | *Today* |

(Note: Google’s also a book vendor, but their terms of royalty amount are unclear, so I’ve omitted them. I believe they’re in the 52-55% range.)
The whole thing: freebie website builder, cheesy cart system, unexceptional royalties, no defined payment schedule, peculiar legal terms—add up to nope.

So How Hard Is it to Set Up an E-Commerce Store?

This answer assumes that you want to sell directly to readers, in addition to other outlets such as Amazon and iBooks.
If you want to accept PayPal (typical transaction fees of 2.9% + 0.30 for premier and business accounts), then here’s one way to get what you need:

  1. A self-hosted WordPress account (varies widely, but I’d be looking in the $12-20/month range)
  2. A domain name for said account ($15/yr)
  3. Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce
  4. A theme that is compatible with your storefront of choice.

Because PayPal handles the payment information, you do not need an SSL certificate. The beauty of it: once you set up the site, when someone buys a book from you, you get your money right away.
For very little cash (~$27 initial outlay, same as a WordPress self-hosted site with no e-commerce), you can sell your digital goods, and you can have your own shop. Plus, you can add other things to your little store, too. Like maybe you want to recommend books, and get affiliate commissions on those. Maybe you’re part of a writing group and you want to exchange ad space on each others’ sites.
Without having done it before in WordPress, I found that it took me about 30 minutes to set up either Easy Digital Downloads or Woocommerce for the first time. (Granted, I’m very technical.)
Examples: currently has Easy Digital Downloads on its front page (that will change in a couple of weeks). uses WooCommerce. ( is changing simply because WooCommerce is something I’m also using on other sites, and I’d rather have one ecosystem to maintain.)

Okay, Maybe I Don’t Want to Go That Far

Let’s say you don’t want to fuss with WordPress. You want your own domain, you want a lovely pre-rolled solution.
I’d recommend Squarespace. Fees start at $8/month; with that plan you could sell one product. The next plan is $16/month, which allows up to 20 products.
For two examples of Squarespace author sites, Tiffany Reisz and her husband Andrew Shaffer’s site.(Note that they don’t sell directly off their sites, but they do have different-looking sites from each other.)

Is This Independent? Ellora’s Cave? WTF BBQ?

The domain registration says the registrant organization is Ellora’s Cave, and uses the exact same street address that EC does, even though the bottom of the web page says “Jaid Black Productions.”
bet on black domain registry
Jaid Black Productions is indeed an LLC in Ohio, but I didn’t find a DBA for Bet on Black books. (I have had issues figuring out where the UI is for that, so this may be my fault. It’s been a few months.)
So: I don’t know? Maybe Ellora’s Cave just owns the domain?

One Hilarious Thing

One thing I do find hilarious, though: she’s using the classic 70s typeface Avant Garde for the header.
This is the same typeface that Marc Randazza—you know, opposing counsel in the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case—famously uses for his pleadings.

@deirdresm flattering

— Marc J. Randazza (@marcorandazza) April 10, 2015

Was there no better choice of typeface? Personally, it’s not one I warm to very much, which is why I don’t have the same thinner weights that either Black or Randazza use.

Got Comments? Questions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I do have a planned topic about the specific problems of author websites, so questions on that topic will help me formulate that post.

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More on the Sad Puppies Hugo Nominations

10 April 2015

[![Sad Puppies](/images/2015/04/7694499520_fd3b557b06_k.jpg)](/images/2015/04/7694499520_fd3b557b06_k.jpg)Sad Puppy • Photo by [Amber West](

This is a multi-purpose post about the Sad Puppies (et al) Hugo Nominations and award slates, covering the following topics: 1. Schools of thought on voting No Award.

  1. Responding to the belief that there already had been slates in the past from “the SJWs” and explaining what’s likely a good chunk of the difference in nomination practices: the pro con vs. the fan con divide.
  2. Another less-obvious divide: Writers of the Future.
  3. Mike Scott’s proposal and Bruce Schneier’s Guest Post on Making Light.
  4. My favorite part of the Eastercon sad puppies panel.
  5. A few more links.

Schools of Thought on Voting “No Award”

Before we get into the subject, I’d like to highlight this piece by Kevin Standlee about the meaning and nuances of No Award and ranking items beneath No Award.
First, there are two major schools of thought about voting No Award for the pup-dominated categories (meaning: all but Best Fan Artist and Best Graphic Story). There are also a couple of variances, which I’ll also mention.

  1. Vote No Award below all non-puppies nominees (with or without ranking below No Award). This is pretty much what it says on the tin.
  2. Vote No Award in all categories dominated by puppies nominees under the theory that the remaining nominees don’t have fair competition. I see some merit in this.
  3. Consider ASIM in Best Semiprozine despite being on a slate. I can’t say it better than Simon Petrie says in this piece:

    So ASIM is on the Hugo ballot. We at the magazine have known about this for about ten days’ time, and have long since sent through the acceptance. But because none of us are exactly active in US fandom, we only became aware of the Sad Puppies connection very late in the piece — in fact, a scant three days before the nominations were made public, and well after all the dust had settled on the nomination process itself. ASIM was never informed about our inclusion on the Sad Puppies 3 slate — if we had been, I very strongly suspect our response would have been a resounding ‘Hell, No’ — and there was no time, nor any point, in looking to remove ourselves once we did get there.
    My own take on this is that a Sad Puppies vote for ASIM is a ‘pity-sex’ vote.

    See also this blog post by Sue Bursztynski. As a disclaimer: I have friends who are working, or who have worked, for the mag. Also, I’ve known people published there, of course. I’ve nominated it myself a time or two, just not this year.

  4. Kari Sperring tweeted: The #SadPuppies didn’t notify my liberal feminist editor Sheila Gilbert before publishing yr slate. She doesn’t endorse them. #HugoAwards

An editor being put on a slate is in an interesting ethical quandary: Hugo-winning books make more money, and an editor’s job is, in part, to make money for their house. That said, I’m not sure that Hugo-winning editors have the same revenue-enhancing capability, and I’d rather see Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s view take hold. Sorry Sheila, maybe another year.

Incidentally, I’m with @matociquala. I will never agree to be part of any award slate, nor vote for anyone who agrees to be part of one.

— Catherynne Valente (@catvalente) April 8, 2015

@catvalente @matociquala Seconded. Er, thirded. I don’t care abt their politics. Different strokes, different folks. I have a prob w/ slate.

— Wesley Chu (@wes_chu) April 8, 2015

@matociquala @wes_chu @catvalente This. No slates for us.

— MichaelDamianThomas (@michaeldthomas) April 9, 2015

@michaeldthomas @matociquala @wes_chu @catvalente Same here. Maybe we need a “Hi, I’m a Hugo nominee/winner and I will not slate” thing.

— Nightjar UrsulaV (@UrsulaV) April 9, 2015

@UrsulaV @michaeldthomas @matociquala @wes_chu @catvalente Yep. I’ll get there on my own merits or not at all. Meaningless otherwise.

— Suzanne Palmer (@zanzjan) April 9, 2015

@michaeldthomas Exactly my position. Even if it means voting against my own projects. @matociquala @wes_chu @catvalente

— P Nielsen Hayden (@pnh) April 9, 2015

Puppies and Allegations of Slates of Years Past

One of the things that some of the puppies believe is that the only possible explanation for the existing Hugo nominations and results is that there have been secret slates all along.
First, I’ve never heard of any larger-scale slates. I know there was a rules change to make nomination memberships close earlier than the nomination window did. That was a reaction to one specific abuse for one author (if I recall correctly, and I may not be).
Kevin Standlee, a former Hugo administrator, is a far more authoritative voice than my own:

Despite claims, I do not believe that there was ever a deliberate conspiracy to fill all the slots in every category with a dedicated “slate” of works. There clearly have been campaigns to get individual works on the ballot, some of them going beyond the technically legal.
The various other groups that compile lists of “things we like that we think you should consider on your Hugo ballot,” never go out of their way to make the number of items precisely equal to the number of spaces on the final ballot. A dedicated campaign by a noisy minority that insists that they are the Real True Fans Who are A Majority of Everyone is what is ticking people off.

He follows with a clarification:

I should have said that I do not think that before this year there was ever a deliberate conspiracy to fill all the slots in every category.

As a writer, I’ve had people solicit me for Nebula consideration by offering to send their work. That’s essentially ended with the new SFWA forums, thank goodness (because that’s how eligible works tend to be distributed).

So Where Do I Think These Voting Patterns Come From?

I think the voting patterns come from several places, but one of the largest is he cultural divide between pro-run cons and fan-run cons.
The Hugo Awards are voted upon by members of the current Worldcon, which moves about in location from year to year. Historically, there’s been a relatively stable number of voters. That number increased dramatically once online nominating and voting became available.
Fan-run cons have people working in various positions. I’ve worked in programming in some capacity at several Worldcons, several Westercons, and the regional convention, BayCon. I’ve gotten to meet a whole bunch of cool authors (and artists and all kinds of other cool people, including a few actors).
Then you’ve got the significantly larger pro-run cons. I don’t even want to know how many people ComicCon (either San Diego or Salt Lake) is pulling in these days.
You just have a far more likely chance to make an actual connection at a fan-run con, and many of the writers who’ve been nominated have shown up at the various fan-run cons. (I include World Fantasy in this genre, because while it’s a pro-level con, it still runs on fan volunteers.)
To finish this long wind-up: because fans who vote on the Hugos very often have real face-to-face connections with the people they vote for, and not for the people who eschew Worldcon in favor of Dragon Con (which is frequently on the same weekend ever since D*C moved onto Worldcon’s traditional weekend).

The Writers of the Future Issue

(Note: I wrote this section on too little sleep. I’ve edited it to make it clearer. I hope.)
It’s only in the last couple of weeks—thanks to the release of HBO’s Going Clear—that a lot of Americans came to somewhere around 1% of the awareness I had about Scientology’s evil in 1995.
Then I see quotations like this one from Jason Sanford and I want to punch holes in my desk with a fork:

This is similar to how most people in our genre support the Writers of the Future contests and programs even though they were founded by L. Ron Hubbard and receive funding from Scientology-related ventures.

Back in 1995, I was being stalked at the time for speaking out on alt.religion.scientology, along with quite a few of my friends. We had a reunion earlier this year, and Scientology goons tried to crash it. Twenty. Years. Later.
If you think the Sad/Rabid Puppies are bad (or even if you don’t), consider the Scientologists:

  1. A cult that coerces senior female members to have abortions so that they can continue working horrific hours. Listen to a few people tell their tales in the Human Trafficking Press Conference.
  2. A cult that prohibits most of its senior staff from driving, because that also prevents them from leaving. When one member escaped via car, they ran him off the road. (Read chapter 1 of Marc Headley’s book Blown for Good. A lot of the book is thick Scientologese, but the first chapter’s gripping. And documented with police reports.)
  3. The leader, David Miscavige, determines who stays married and who does not, often splitting up couples out of capriciousness. Including Tom Cruise and his three wives.
  4. Said cult has over a billion dollars in the bank.

…then consider that they suborned some of the Sad/Rabid puppies…for money. And some of you reading this, too.
Here are a few Sad Puppies associated with Writers of the Future:

  1. Brad Torgersen
  2. Kevin J. Anderson
  3. Marko Kloos
  4. Kary English

Annie Bellet was not a winner, but still promotes her progress in the WotF contest on every page of her site. Megan Grey does this just on her about page.
(The above is not an exhaustive list, just the names I know.)

Writers of the Future Is a Long Con

The purpose of Writers of the Future is for L. Ron Hubbard to get a name recognition lift when you later become famous. The entire point is to legitimize, newly, a man who threw children into chain lockers on ships.
But, you say, it has nothing to do with Scientology. The contest is run separately.
That’s what they’d like you to believe. Many people hear that, see the possibility of winning $5,000, and it shuts down their critical faculties. As Scientology intends.
Scientology, more than any other corporation I know of, is a bunch of shells with complicated interactions that were intended to be obfuscatory, but this one’s easy: the contest, part of Galaxy Press, a trade name of Author Services, which is part of the Church of Spiritual Technology. L. Ron Hubbard’s literary estate, aka the home of Scientology.
But, but, you say.
Well, I ask you: where are those books printed? Who makes them? Did you ever ask?
They’re printed by Bridge Publications, which is also owned by Scientology. This takes us to the tale of Daniel Montalvo. Here’s his lawsuit after he escaped at the age of 19 after working as a minor for Bridge Publications.

  • Working on equipment that federal and state law prohibits minors from working on.
  • Without required safety and protective gear.
  • And lost part of a finger doing so.

One of Scientology’s lawyers, Kendrick Moxon, had a daughter, Stacy, who worked at the Int base and was electrocuted due to lack of safety precautions. She worked at Gold. You may have seen Gold staff as camera and lighting (and other tech) crew for the Writers of the Future events.
I can’t begin to tell you how low the regard for human life is in Scientology. There is a lot of solidarity between Mormons and Scientologists as fellow members of new religions, but that’s a complete illusion.
For those of you who happen to be Christian and feel strongly about it, here’s an excerpt from the Assists tape Dennis Erlich posted a transcript of in 1994, part of the “past lives” doctrine of Scientology that’s part of the Xenu level:

The medical doctor is not really represented in R6. It is only the surgeon. The surgeon is shown cutting bodies to pieces. That’s the right thing to do. Actually he shreds a body down to just raw meat down to a skeleton and the skeleton is in agony and then it too is chopped up. Anyway, every man is then shown to have been crucified, so don’t think that it’s an accident that this crucifixion .. they found out that this applied. Somebody, somewhere on this planet, back about six hundred BC, found some piece of R6. And I don t know how they found it either by watching mad men or something but since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity.

Translation: per Scientology doctrine, Christianity is a mass hallucination on Earth because of evil surgeons around about the time of Xenu.
That is what Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future are about. Getting people to pay money for Xenu and beyond. It has nothing to do with the quality of your stories or your art. It’s about adding to the long con.
They can buy respect off your future platform, then, tada! they offer to help increase your platform. Let’s arrange a book signing. Can you make it to this convention?
It’s not for you. It’s for Scientology.

Ooops I Just Won. Now What Do I Do?

Suppose you’ve won, and have just gulped, and are going to the upcoming event. I suggest you ask the following questions of any Galaxy Press staff you happen to see:

  1. Are you married? Got pictures of your husband/wife? Can I see? (Then bring out yours.)
  2. How many children do you have? Any pictures?
  3. When did you last see your children? What are they doing now?
  4. How about the rest of your family?

The main points: a) do they exist? b) when did you last see them? Pay attention to the nuances of their reactions.
The results will floor you. Guaranteed.

Mike Scott’s Proposal and Bruce Schneier’s Guest Post

I was going to comment more deeply on Mike Scott’s proposal, but I really think the commentary on voting system changes should instead be taking place on Making Light, specifically in comments on this guest post by Bruce Schneier.

Great Idea from the Sad Puppies Panel at Eastercon

I liked the poison pill nature of this, it make my inner evil genius chortle with glee.
The woman in the back of the room suggested that supporting membership $ be used to purchase memberships for the disenfranchised: fans of color, poor fans, handicapped fans, etc.

Kevin Standlee has the “No Award” neepery guide. He also has a general Hugo awards tag that covers a lot of the quirks of Hugo voting. Kevin is one of the most thoughtful and fair people I know. Out of the comments:

Voting something below no award doesn’t decide who wins; it decides what loses last. This is similar to what I’ve often said about Instant Runoff Voting (the technical name for our voting system): It doesn’t choose the most-favored candidate; it chooses the least-disliked one.

Also, if you are new to the business meeting and proposal drafting process, Kevin has been consistently helpful about resources for that. If you want to have a shot at having your proposal heard (rather than shot down immediately by the people in the room), listening to Kevin is always a good strategy.
Bookworm Blues has a thoughtful post.
Elizabeth Bear also has a thoughtful post. She says, “This is not the first time All Fandom Has Been Plunged Into War. It will not be the last.” (The first time was the Breendoggle, which I posted about extensively last year.)
Jason Sanford has a good post with some thoughtful comments.
Cora Buhlert has a big roundup post.
Saving the most epic for last, George R. R. Martin once again proves that he’s a novelist with his three posts on the topic: one, two, and three. His three posts involve a lot of Hugo history from a pro (and neo-pro) point of view, including losing the first Campbell award (to Jerry Pournelle) and co-inventing the Hugo Loser’s party with Gardner Dozois.

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Ellora's Cave: Tina Engler Compares EC to Rape Victims

07 April 2015

First, I’ll quote the long email that Tina Engler sent to an Ellora’s Cave email list, then discuss various points afterward. At the end, there will be a wrap-up section about “loyalty.”

Sent: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 11:46 AM
Subject: [ec_biz] Rumor Mill 2 (Long)
1) Amazon pays its self-published authors every 60 days; they pay us every 90 days. You can decide on Amazon’s motivation for yourselves.
2) Re: the lawsuit – while we cannot comment on specifics we can tell you that we have not asked for any author names. We have asked for specific individuals by name to be identified in discovery, all of who fall into 1 of 2 groups of anonymous commenters: competitors and/or former EC employees let go with cause. While we are disappointed that some of our authors have partaken in online gossip, and equally disappointed that some of our other authors have stayed publicly quiet while privately continuing to play both sides of the fence, we still have not requested author names. I realize it makes for juicier gossip if we were seeking that info, but such is not the case.
3) We did not “dox” anybody and that accusation is getting quite old. Fact: you cannot file a lawsuit against a person that doesn’t exist so of course the defendant’s real name was in the lawsuit. That said, it was the defendant who posted the lawsuit to her own blog, thereby “doxing” herself. We have never, at any point in time, posted the defendant’s real name and home address. I wish the defendant had granted me that same respect instead of posting my name and address on her blog back when my youngest daughter was 12 or 13 years old for anyone with an Internet connection to see.
4) Re: projection – No one should constantly have to defend themselves and their employees against accusations of wrongdoing that only the accusers have partaken in. It is time to make one thing crystal clear: we are not like the accusers. While hateful, gossipy people cannot wrap their heads around the fact that everyone else doesn’t think & behave like them, we trust that the majority of our authors can understand that.
5) Revisiting points 3 & 4: We are not pubnt. We are not STGRB. We did not and would not “dox” the defendant to her employers. It appears that she’s made quite a few enemies & frenemies over the years… A fact everyone recalls with ease when discussing their anger at her “revelation” but which is conveniently overlooked when it comes to us.
The bottom line: This situation is very old. Until we felt pushed into a corner & given no choice but to file a lawsuit just to clear our name I gave the defendant zero thought. Directly after filing the lawsuit, 95% of my thoughts were consumed with her & simply wondering WHY. Anonymous tipsters pretty much answered the question within a few days so within a week of filing she went down to about 50% of my thoughts. Within a month she was back to zero unless I had to think about her for purposes of the lawsuit.
This is a very long winded explanation as to why it induces major eye rolling in me every time I’m accused of being pubnt or an anonymous commenter or (insert ridiculous accusation.) I am happy to let the courts decide this case. I never wanted it tried on social media nor was I the one who took it there. But will I defend myself, my mother, my employees, & the many wonderful authors of EC who are being targeted on social media? Absolutely. I will never relent.
To the overwhelming majority of authors, especially those who have remained loyal to us: I am SO sorry you are being dragged through this. I am SO sorry you fear being publicly targeted if you say anything positive or even neutral about EC. What’s being done to us is being done to you & we get that. The only thing I can ask of you is to continue exercising patience while this plays itself out because dropping the lawsuit is not an option. I get that you just want this to go away, but asking us not to defend ourselves feels, to us, like asking a victim of rape not to testify against his or her rapist because of potential social backlash. Only a couple of you have come to us with this plea, but I felt it should be addressed to all of our authors in case others were thinking it. It’s vital to remember we didn’t start this, that we didn’t go online & trash talk anybody, but that we will use any legal remedy available to us to defend ourselves and end it.
I trust everyone had a wonderful holiday. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.

Point the First: Amazon Payment Schedule

Amazon does not pay self-published authors every 60 days. Instead, they pay self-published authors every month, 2 months behind. So, sales in January get a royalty statement at the end of March, followed a few days later by the direct deposit/check. In my own case, I received my last statement on March 21 and the money was paid on March 29th for January sales. The previous month was February 20th and 28th, respectively, for December 2014 sales.
E-publishers, on the other hand, are paid quarterly. The fact that Tina doesn’t know the difference is consistent with Ellora’s Cave’s statements about quarterly payments being atypical and confusing.

Point the Second: Ellora’s Cave “Competitors”

We have asked for specific individuals by name to be identified in discovery, all of who fall into 1 of 2 groups of anonymous commenters: competitors and/or former EC employees let go with cause.

This is disingenuous. Why? Because competitors means the self-published, including previous Ellora’s Cave authors who are now self-publishing.
The purpose of the courts is not to go on information quests about your competitors.
Secondly, if your purpose was in fact to go after anonymous commenters who were former EC employees let go with cause, then the following is also true:

  1. Ellora’s Cave has had a relatively limited list of employees over the years. I suspect it knows all of them. (Including, for example, who commenter “Adam,” purportedly the spouse of a former EC emeployee, is.)
  2. If you wanted to go after them, then they could have been added as defendants in the suit. That is typical practice, but that didn’t happen.
  3. If part of the point of the lawsuit was to go after them, then why wasn’t it mentioned in the complaint? Sure, there was that one line about anonymous commenters in the wrong place (page 21 in the TRO memorandum of law), but there was no evidence attached in the complaint that there were any anonymous commenters.

So the actual documents submitted to the court disagrees with what Tina’s now saying.
There are those who believe that the comments as a whole were the reason that Dear Author and Jane Litte were sued.

Point the Third: “Doxxing”

Look, I’m one of those people who doesn’t much like the term doxxing, and who thinks it’s overused.
That said, a lawsuit really is the ultimate in doxxing, and not just in the revealing the legal name of a pseudonymous person. It doxxes that person to an entirely different community. Forever.
If I felt this were anything other than a SLAPP lawsuit, I might feel differently about it. So: I disagree with Tina on this point. I do believe that Ellora’s Cave doxxed Jane Litte unfairly.
It’s also incorrect that Jane posted it on Dear Author. It was hosted via an embedded iframe on The Passive Voice. I have also hosted all the lawsuit documents on Dropbox, but only because federal court documents can’t be obtained for free by most people.

Point the Fourth: “Projection”

No one should constantly have to defend themselves and their employees against accusations of wrongdoing that only the accusers have partaken in.

Oh. Please.
That’s such bullshit.

Point the Fifth: Disclaimers

We are not pubnt. We are not STGRB. We did not and would not “dox” the defendant to her employers.

  1. I still believe that Tina Engler is intimately involved with pubnt. I don’t believe pubnt is (or was) a sole voice, though. I have a shortlist.
  2. I’ve never claimed that Ellora’s Cave is STGRB (the ironically named Stop the Goodreads Bullies), but it is noteable that, in October, the first Ellora’s Cave tweet in over a month (which has since been deleted) supported STGRB.
  3. As for the harassing letters point, I do not believe Tina, but I am not going to say why I think so.

Point the Sixth: The Bottom Line

What Ellora’s Cave seems to fail to understand was that it was not Jane Litte’s article that turned us against Ellora’s Cave, it was the fact of Ellora’s Cave filing the lawsuit. In other words, Tina has causation exactly backwards.
The bottom line is that this lawsuit is very new. It will probably run 3-5 years, and it’s only been a hair over six months. Tina has previously said that she would like to make case law, and that would lengthen, not shorten, the case.
So it’s not very old, and Tina should be aware of that, having been in a three-year-plus lawsuit before in the Brashear case.
But will I defend myself, my mother, my employees, & the many wonderful authors of EC who are being targeted on social media?
Let’s get an example here so I can understand what you’re saying.

  1. Jenny Trout, writing as Abigail Barnette, is an Ellora’s Cave author.
  2. Jenny Trout has been targeted by STGRB and recently had a launch canceled as a result

So, you’ll be taking Jenny Trout’s side, then. Right?
I thought not.
That’s what I call: a dishonest assertion on Tina’s part.

Point the Seventh: Rape Analogies. No. Just—No.

I get that you just want this to go away, but asking us not to defend ourselves feels, to us, like asking a victim of rape not to testify against his or her rapist because of potential social backlash.
Ellora’s Cave does not get to use the fact of my having been raped to justify their (my belief) SLAPP suit against a columnist.
Hell no.
Fuck no.
You know what? Whatever sympathy/empathy I had for Ellora’s Cave just died in a fire.

Loyalty and Business Relationships

Ellora’s Cave isn’t a rape victim. It’s a brick. The brick does not love you.
I’d like to highlight some tweets from yesterday that I think are oh-so-apropos:

If there’s one word I’m getting sick of seeing, it’s “loyalty.” Between authors and publishers, but between readers and authors too. 1/n

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

Authors sign over publication rights, not speech rights. Point to the “loyalty” clause in any of my contracts, I dare you. 2/n

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

A publishing contract is a business relationship, creating mutual business interests. It doesn’t compel me to believe everything you say.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

People switch publishers all the time, in this business. It’s not a betrayal: it’s a better match, a change in direction, etc.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

And no, I haven’t been very vocal about this before now. I believed caution was warranted. I spoke up in authorized channels.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

But now it seems that my (and others’) caution is being interpreted as hostility or two-facedness or, ugh, disloyalty.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

You do not get to make broad public statements about enemies and haters while asking that we, your authors, remain silent.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

You do not get to take legal action with wide free speech ramifications, and scold us when we express hesitance.

— Olivia Waite (@O_Waite) April 7, 2015

All of that, plus the following: the author’s responsibility is to their art and their bottom line. The publisher owner’s responsibility is to increase shareholder value. There are, at all times, various conflicts of interest between any author and any publisher.
End of story.
I don’t fault authors for looking out for their own perceived best interests (including, but not limited to: where they should publish next, and what they choose to share about their publication history and interactions with publishers), and neither should Ellora’s Cave.

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Hugo Awards: Puppyflation, a Chart

06 April 2015

[![Hugo Awards: Puppyflation](/images/2015/04/puppyflation.jpg)](/images/2015/04/puppyflation.jpg)(click to enlarge)

I thought I’d show, in chart form, what the year-over-year changes are in Hugo Awards nominations, substantially due to the sad puppies (and rabid puppies) voting.
This year, there were almost exactly 10% more Hugo nominations than last year. Last year, there was also a (substantially less successful) sad puppies slate.
The area charts are 2015, and the lines correspond to the Hugo Awards nominations in the same categories for 2014.
Sources: 2014 statistics and 2015 statistics.

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Filk: Sad Puppies Aren't Much Fun

05 April 2015

[![Sad Puppies](/images/2015/04/7694499520_fd3b557b06_k.jpg)](/images/2015/04/7694499520_fd3b557b06_k.jpg)Sad Puppy • Photo by [Amber West](

For those who don’t know, a “filk” song is a science fiction/fantasy folk genre, generally adding new lyrics to an existing tune. Though many filk writers also write original tunes, as I pay tribute to in this post.
The rest of this post is written by my husband, Rick Moen.
People who’ve been on SMOFS for a while might remember Well, I’ve gone and done the dirty deed a second time. ## Sad Puppies Aren’t Much Fun

(With apologies to Ogdel Edsl and fond memories of Dr. Demento.)
Sad puppies
Sad puppies
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
They all fight for silenced voices,
By crowding out all other choices.
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
Inclusiveness means broader picks,
Yet Three Body Problem gets a ‘nix’.
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
Wright’s novellas mustn’t be ignored,
But his rocket points straight at Noah Ward.
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
Sad puppies
Sad puppies
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
Sad puppies
Sad puppies
Sad puppies aren’t much fun.
Sad puppies
Sad puppies.

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The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter's Guide

04 April 2015

The Hugo Awards
Update: Includes changes announced after initial nominations were announced. The only puppy-free slate changes are in the Best Novel and Best Novelette category. Ineligibility changes at File 770. Withdrawal changes at File 770.
Update 2: I’ve added those who withdrew after the final ballot into their respective categories below (because some people will be ranking choices after No Award and may wish to take these names into account). Also, for reference, here is the full ballot.
Follow, or don’t, your choice. If you are voting the strict ix-nay uppy-pay slate, here’s the options in each category:

Best Novel

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
(in whichever order, followed by No Award)

Best Novella

No Award

Best Novelette

The Day The World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014)
No Award

Best Short Story

No Award

No Award

Best Graphic Story

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
(in whichever order, followed by No Award)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
(all other nominees were part of the Sad/Rabid Puppies slate. Suggest following the above two, either order, with No Award)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Doctor Who: “Listen”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)
(all other nominees were part of the Sad/Rabid Puppies slate. Suggest following the above two, either order, with No Award)

Best Editor, Short Form

No Award
Withdrew: Edmund R. Schubert

Best Editor, Long Form

No Award

Best Professional Artist

Julie Dillon
(followed by No Award)

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison, editor-in-chief
(followed by No Award)

Best Fanzine

Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J.Montgomery
(followed by No Award)
Withdrew: Black Gate, edited by John O’Neill

Best Fancast

Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newman and Peter Newman
(followed by No Award)

Best Fan Writer

Laura J. MixonExcept Mixon also campaigned for a Hugo Award with emotional blackmail language, which IMHO makes her no better than the Puppies.
(followed by No Award)

Best Fan Artist

This is the only puppy-free category (as it wasn’t on their slate)! Congrats to the nominees!
Ninni Aalto
Brad W. Foster
Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo)

Wesley Chu
(followed by No Award)
You’re free to comment, but if you’re going to send hate comments, I’m just going to block you from commenting ever.
Note: After posting this, Rick told me later about this File 770 post, which analyzes the issue differently and compares the Sad/Rabid Puppies slates.

Sir Pterry declined his nomination in 2005. Many of the comments are interesting too, including the one that J. K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett trailed just behind John Scalzi and Charles Stross in 2008.

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Ellora's Cave: EC's Author Loops Letter

04 April 2015

On March 29th, Tina Engler sent this email out to one of the Ellora’s Cave email loops, and I considered it not interesting enough to post. However, given the various concerns I’ve been reading in various places, I felt it was worthy of posting and commenting. Also, a Lolita Lopez update at the end.

1) We have no interest in what goes on in author loops. We don’t even monitor our own let alone anyone else’s. Closed loops are closed for a reason: so authors can vent to each other and support each other. We would never violate your space. If you could find even one credible instance wherein we’ve ever violated authors’ private spaces then I could understand getting worked up, but since no such incidents exist it amounts to worrying over literally nothing.
2) To our knowledge, there are no faulty 1099s out there. The handful of people who had questions emailed us and we responded. All replies to those responses were to the tune of “Ohhh okay. Thanks for the explanation and have a great day!” If you have a problem with your 1099 and do not bring it to our attention then we have no way of knowing. Again, and as was stated in the last email sent to this loop, if you do not receive an email reply within the specified amount of time then just call us at the author number we set up for you (last post) or send us a certified letter because chances are we never received it. To date, we have received one phone call and her call has been returned.
3) Human error and computer error are unavoidable and are going to happen. The walking-on-eggshells climate that has been created by gossips and conspiracy theorists doesn’t allow for either eventuality and it’s getting old very quickly. With over 600 royalty checks going out every month, mistakes are inevitable. Please be in the habit of checking your statements every month. Contrary to gossip, mistakes are actually more the exception than the rule, but they DO happen.
As always, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you have.
Thank You & Happy Sunday,

Point the first: Author Loops

Because no doubt some author loop information has become discoverable (see Courtney Milan’s kboards post here), there’s always the possibility that, even if Ellora’s Cave had no intention of invading the privacy of author groups, if they need to make their case based upon some of that information in discovery, I believe they will.
However, I have zero information as to whether or not that will, in fact, be necessary.
I’m one of those who doesn’t believe in premature optimization of anger, aka “don’t borrow trouble.” I think we should wait and see what happens.
That said, I find it difficult to reconcile the above statement of Tina’s with the stance in the lawsuit paperwork about anonymous commenters—many of whom were authors.
To refresh memories, that statement (which can be found on p. 21 of this document) says:

Additionally, Plaintiff request [sic] that Defendants disclose the name of the anonymous commenters on the blog so that the spreading of the defamatory statement can be stopped.

If that’s Ellora’s Cave’s stance, then why wouldn’t they be interested in discovery on author loops?
Therefore, my feeling is that Tina’s statement is meant to appease authors, but is not reflective of the reality of having initiated this lawsuit, nor the stated aims of the lawsuit.
(Though I still maintain that the lawsuit may ultimately be about Adam’s comments on TCCoEC.)

Point the Second: 1099s & Errors

Given Lolita Lopez’s story about last year followed by the August layoffs, several people were hoping there wouldn’t be big issues with this year’s 1099. To EC’s credit, that hasn’t seemed to happen. Julie believed she’d had one, but tweeted that she was in error.
The only other 1099 issue I’ve heard of was co-authors receiving 1099s for different amounts, but I believe they’d also received checks for different amounts. It’s been a LONG time on Twitter, and it’s not easy to look back for the underlying information.
As Tina says, errors happen.

Lolita Lopez Update

Lolita posted about a couple of things, including some very scary health news she’s been through. Relevant to the unfolding story here, she revealed the following:

Last week, I learned that emails from Ellora’s Cave that were meant for me never reached my inboxes. They were sent to someone else in the company’s headquarters who–curiously–never forwarded them to me or let the sender know they had gone to the wrong place. So, for six months, I needlessly stressed over something that could have been fixed with one or two quick conversations.
On Tuesday morning, Patty Marks, CEO of Ellora’s Cave, offered a very, very gracious compromise on the unwritten spec contracts for Grabbed books 4, 5, 6, and 7. These books and the rights to them and the Grabbed world are back in my hands. I can’t promise that you’ll see Raze, Terror, Torment or Cipher’s books this year (not with all that’s going on with my heart) but I will write and publish these books.

I’m thrilled that she and Ellora’s Cave have come to an agreement, and that the series will continue. I also wish her the best of health with her heart issues.

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Weird Scientology Beliefs: Scientology's Expanding

31 March 2015

The Truth About Scientology Expanding
In 1979 and 1980, I worked at the Church of Scientology, Mission of Orange County in Tustin. I worked in Treasury. My primary role was Director of Income, which isn’t as interesting as it sounds. I left because, frankly, I was going broke quickly. I felt bad about leaving and returned in January 1984 on a 5-year contract. It had recently increased its status from Mission to Org. I worked there through most of 1989. Like before, I worked in Treasury, both as Director of Income and later as Deputy Treasury Secretary.
This post came about because of this tweet:

#Scientology will expand, continue to help thousands around the globe in #GoingClear & will never lose their tax exempt status in the USA.

— Edwin Dearborn (@edwindearborn) March 30, 2015

You see, I know Edwin Dearborn. In the late 80s, he was in charge of the “field staff members,” which is basically the affiliate program for Scientology. His job was getting people to bring other people in and paying them their commissions.
Director of Income (my job) consisted of a bunch of things including:

  • Rents other tenants owed us;
  • Interest income on accounts;
  • Field staff member commissions when we referred people to higher Scientology organizations; and
  • Debts owed to Scientology.

Some Actual Numbers

Let’s talk numbers. In 1979 and 1980, a good week was $10,000 and a more average week was $7,000. We had thirty staff at the time. Scientology policy says that 30% of the week’s budget (and yes, budgeting is done weekly) is used to pay the staff. In cash. Around then, the average staff member made $70 per week. The mission had about $450,000 in savings and a paid-off mortgage on its building.
By 1984, there were quite a few more staff—about double—and the average weekly income had risen to around $20,000-30,000. When I returned, there were almost no savings, and the building had a mortgage. After the 1982 Mission Holders’ Conference, a lot of the “wealthy” mission coffers were raided. In addition, the mission had been seized from Ray and Pam Kemp, who’d sued and had gotten paid back. Hence the mortgage.
Average staff pay at the newly-minted church was ~$110. I remember the first hundred-thousand dollar week. Because the org was growing a lot, eventually the average week became $250,000. At that point, we had consistently 200-250 staff and had to rent significant space at the building across the street. Average staff pay ran around $150. If you note, the numbers don’t add up for a couple of reasons: 1) the budget sum excluded book and e-meter sales (which had their own budgeting), and we had a much higher percentage than in earlier days; 2) we got a lot of refund requests and bounced checks (more the latter than the former), frequently in excess of $50,000.
I’m told that for many orgs, including Orange County, the peak Scientology money expansion was in 1988-1992, though the peak expansion in number of Scientology students was far earlier—in the late 60s to mid-70s.
The big game at the time was to make all organizations “Saint Hill Size,” supposedly the pinnacle where we’d all get paid living wages, yada yada yada. (I’m not the first—nor the last—to be taken in by a long con.) Orange County, along with Stevens Creek and Los Angeles, achieved this in the late 80s.

Scientology Funding Changes Since The 80s

L. Ron Hubbard did not believe in donations. He didn’t believe in fundraisers. In fact, he had rather scathing words to say on the subject:

[Excerpt from HCO Policy Letter of 24 February 1964
Urgent-Org Programming]
If the Org slumps: Don’t engage in “fund raising” or “selling postcards” or borrowing money.
Just make more income with Scientology.
It’s a sign of very poor management to seek extraordinary solutions for finance outside Scientology. It has always failed.
For Orgs as for pcs “Solve It With Scientology”.
Every time I myself have sought to solve finance or personnel in other ways than Scientology I have lost out. So I can tell you from experience that Org solvency lies in More Scientology, not patented conibs, or fund raising Barbecues.

And, in practice, you never saw fundraising.

The Ideal Org Strategy and How it Changed Scientology’s Bottom Line

L. Ron Hubbard didn’t care about how impressive buildings were. He cared whether the org was making it, he didn’t like debt, he didn’t like fundraising. For all his faults, he thought Scientology should sink or swim on its own merits.

We own a tremendous amount of property. We own a tremendous amount of material, and so forth. And it keeps growing. But that’s not important.
When buildings get important to us, for God’s sake, some of you born revolutionists, will you please blow up central headquarters. If someone had put some H.E. [high explosives] under the Vatican long ago, Catholicism might still be going.
Don’t get interested in real estate. Don’t get interested in the masses of buildings, because that’s not important.
Tape: The Genus of Scientology
Anatomy of the Human Mind Congress
31 December 1960

The first attempts at an Ideal Org strategy—by which I mean putting Scientology in a vastly nicer building came in the late 80s, only a couple of years after L. Ron Hubbard died.
Big impressive buildings would become Scientology’s icons. Rumor has it that this was at the behest of Tom Cruise, who purportedly told David Miscavige, Scientology’s leader, that a lot of orgs looked ratty (which was true). Regardless of the real reason, there came to be huge, and nearly endless, fundraising campaigns.
Like so.
(Source: Tony Ortega)
When I was in, there was simply no way that you would ever pay $5,000 for status. Heck, even the International Association of Scientologists was only $300 per year back then. Before that, there were no formal memberships; it was free.

So How Well Have Scientology’s Expansion Plans Worked?

Remember Edwin Dearborn? He’s now selling himself as a marketer. In 2010, my friend Mark and I visited Orange County Org for the first time in many years. My goal? To find out whether or not I’d been declared a suppressive person. Oh, and the lulz.
Edwin was then the organization’s head and came to say hello. He was also working part-time in marketing at that point.
Yet, his marketing skill was such that he couldn’t save his own organization, who’d supposedly had a metric ton of money raised for a new building, from having a disconnect notice for the water bill tucked into the side of the building (photo up top).
Here are other photos I took that day.
We drove in during the busiest part of Scientology’s week, but the parking lot looks unmaintained. The vehicles all seemed to be staff; neither of us saw anyone who seemed to be public (parishioners).
Scientology's empty, ratty parking lot
Some parking places are marked off for “humanitarians,” by which Scientology means people with big wallets. Srsly.
Guess they have no humanitarians.
And here’s the way back of the parking lot. Check this out.
That sure looks like massive expansion…of potholes.
What hit me the hardest in talking to all the overly earnest staff members was that each and every one of them—including people I’d known twenty to thirty years before—held one of the core Scientology beliefs: that Scientology was expanding. Even when, to their very own eyes, the evidence was there to the contrary.
Mark and I just were kind of dumbstruck by the whole concept. It’s fairly obvious to me that that no longer looks like an organization with 200-250 staff, let alone the public to go with.
Then we went to the “new” location, which has since become their new “ideal” org, where Mark found the disconnect notice. In fact, you can see the entire parking lot in this picture.
Back Camera
Because there is no parking lot. It’s just enough outside downtown Santa Ana that it also gets no foot traffic.

Another Edwin Dearborn Stunt

I’m going to quote the Scientologese to you, then translate.

Im pressing charges against a scientologist who molested my daughter when I was a staff member. He is still in scientology with his wife and other family on staff, so the church’s Dir I&R, (kylie Roe) decided that since I was no longer a scientologist, they would not be interviewing him.
The ED, Ed Dearborn then requested I be comm-ev’d from post for allowing his only introductory auditor to moonlight.

So, by reporting that her daughter was being molested by another staff member, Scientology decided that Maggie was no longer a Scientologist, and therefore there was no need to interview the molester. The OC Church’s head, Edwin Dearborn, wanted to bring Scientology justice actions against Maggie to remove her from her job.
Remove the person reporting and, voila, there’s no more problem.

Scientology Beliefs: That they Will Become Saint Hill Size

Remember how I said Orange County became a Saint Hill Size organization in the late 80s?
(Source: Tony Ortega)
As Mike Rinder says:

They have apparently (and conveniently) forgotten they did this already, back in the 90’s […].

Actually, I believe it was 1988.

So typical of Kool Aid drinkers. They have selective memory.

Despite Rinder’s comments, OC really was big, we had blocks of parking problems, especially at night, and we had a lot of public coming in. I don’t know what LA Org was actually doing, but Rinder says they were falsifying stats. If OC was, it definitely wasn’t the quantity of money stats, because I did some of those audits.
Now, there were, as I said, a lot of bounced checks and refunds, and I thought there were a lot of badly handled financial situations, including trying to make special payment arrangements through third parties, as apparently happened here. There may well have been falsified statistics in various areas, but the amount of money deposited, to the best of my knowledge, matched the reported income.
Still, how can an organization shrink 75% (my estimate) and staff who’ve been there all along don’t notice? I just can’t even.
As Susan Garbanzo said on Twitter, “PR helps only when a co. is really ready to open up. Else it’s just room freshener.”
Scientology “expansion”? Is just room freshener.

My New Scientology-Themed T-Shirt

Xenu Is My Homeboy. Available from Redbubble in a bunch of sizes and styles, including a hoodie. Thanks to Deana for the idea.

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Dear Author: More on Jane Litte/Jen Frederick

27 March 2015

I’ve been teasing apart the feelings around Dear Author’s Jane Litte revealing herself to be romance author Jen Frederick, and I’ve been reading a lot of comments around. I’d also like to thank Olivia Waite for her comment on my last post, which was super helpful.
I’m also being distracted while writing this post by one of the entertaining and beautiful black squirrels we have in our yard. I’m still running on less sleep than I need, but sometimes that’s the best time to access feelings.

First: What I See As the Big Ethical Question

There are many, but this one’s the biggie, I think:
How much of what was posted in the Curious Cave article was told to Jane Litte (voluntary disclosure) vs. Jen Frederick (involuntary disclosure)?

Lawyers Are Not Magical Beings Who Know All About the Law

I’ve seen this said over and over and over that Jane, being a lawyer, must magically know something specific about the law.
I can only speak to this via analogy.

  1. I’m a software engineer who’s been paid to write programs in 26 different computer languages.
  2. Some of that software (okay, a very small part) has been launched into space.
  3. I know how to write anything in software that I’d like to write. That doesn’t mean I’d have the best, most efficient, most beautiful code. Nor does it mean that I wouldn’t have to do any research. Only that, given any software problem, I could write a solution to it if I felt interested enough in doing so.
  4. I have an M.S. in Computer Science from a respected university.
  5. Yet, despite that amount of skill, there are fundamentals I know I’d have to look up. For example, I personally hate writing sort algorithms. It’s one of those “(pretty much) everyone goes through this during a CS degree” things that I didn’t bond to. Fortunately, the reference work (by Donald Knuth) on the topic is, at any given moment I’m at my desk, at my right hand. No, not because I need it to write code, but because I’m actually using it for story research.

Similarly, there are a lot of basics topics that lawyers train on during law school. Law school is incredibly broad and far reaching, like a general humanities degree is. There’s a limited amount of specialist training after the first year.
Still, the expectation that anyone who’s a lawyer must know X about the law is a bit like saying I must therefore know everything about sort algorithms. Or that any American with an English degree must necessarily be an expert on Mark Twain.
Even more than software or knowledge about writers, legal knowledge is incredibly specific and can be outdated quickly. Jane practices in an area of employment law (worker’s compensation) likely removed from civil litigation discovery issues.

Can Authors Be “Just” Readers?

First, I don’t like the word “just” I’ve been seeing in some contexts, as though readers are somehow lesser than authors. Nevertheless, I’ve only had one cup of coffee so far today, so I’m starting there.
This is an ironic mistake for me to have made, but somehow I missed that most of the people speaking up about Jane/Jen’s revelation are readers rather than writers. That they feel like someone is no longer representing their interests. Further, after Sarah Wendell’s post, I suspect a lot of readers won’t be trusting that site, either.
I got started writing in part because I was a fan of Lawrence Block, and I ran out of novels to read, so I started reading his non-fiction. One of the things he’d said is that he didn’t review books because he wouldn’t want to feel compelled to be honest. That it could imperil friendships with other authors.
It’s not something that happens immediately upon becoming an author, though. For years, I didn’t really understand Block’s point—until I read a book from an author colleague I liked and found I hated the book. Then I got it.
At that point, I could no longer be “just” a reader, but that point didn’t happen immediately. Arguably, it can happen a lot sooner in this Internet age—I started submitting fiction more than twenty-five years ago.
The other reason I missed it is that there’s not an equivalently large site in SF/F for readers apart from the magazines. (I’ve always considered Locus more a professional magazine focused on the industry insiders than readers per se.) Part of that is the incredible divide between various parts of SF/F writing and fandom. I don’t know whether SF/F is more divisive than romancelandia, but it sure seems that way to a relative outsider. Let’s just say the challenges of the genres are different and leave it at that.

Courtney Milan Has a Great Point

Link to Courtney Milan’s Comment (comment #210), which I’ve quoted in full below:

Look, there’s a reason I haven’t said much. I’m still untangling things. There are a lot of things that I need to untangle. I’m sorry that’s not convenient–I conveniently wish I could untangle this easily, too.
But here is one thread of about 45 tangled threads that I think I’m finally clear on: There is an intersection between Jane being on author loops and the lawsuit.
Everything that crosses Jane’s eye about Ellora’s Cave is discoverable by Tina Engler–someone who has allegedly inflated the 1099s of former editors who testified in the suit in retaliation for their testimony, an action that will cost them time and money to correct. A lot of authors–and I mean a LOT–are being very cautious about what they say because they don’t want to be retaliated against. I understand that worry and I’m not going to tell people to put their careers on the line when they’ve got a living to make.
Now we come to those private author loops. Because that’s where we do a lot of processing behind the scenes, including processing of the questions regarding the EC suit. On private author loops, authors have asked each other questions like this: Do I say something in public? Is it worth the risk? They still have six of my books, and they’re still paying me and I need that money to pay rent. Or, maybe the calculus goes, They haven’t paid me yet but I think they will and I can’t afford not to get it. I can’t speak up.
Ellora’s Cave is going to ask for discovery of any and all communications received by Jane in any form regarding Ellora’s Cave. If Jane was on any of those loops? That stuff is discoverable. Even if Jane as Jen didn’t respond or instigate the discussion. Even if she never used the information.
It is a huge risk to speak frankly in front of someone who may be compelled by court order to report your speech to the person you are talking about. There’s even the risk that, as a result of that speech, you may be compelled by subpoena to testify in court. These are risks that are vastly different in kind than the risks authors normally assume–and Jane spent six months on authors’ loops not disclosing that a court could compel her to put everything said in front of her about Ellora’s Cave in front of Tina Engler.

Apart from the quibble that the 1099 thing (see this post from Lolita Lopez) was Ellora’s Cave, not Tina Engler as an individual—yes.
However, I’d argue that the potential discovery problems occurred because Jane’s “industry journalist” hat got mixed in with the author hat, not because her reviewer hat did. As I said yesterday, I’d argue that the industry journalist hat offers the greater overall conflict of interest in this particular case.
It’s also perfectly normal to process via talking to each other, and, precisely because writing’s a lonely profession, that’s commonly on mailing lists with other writers. Also, it’s going to take me quite a while to untangle this too.

Jessica Clare on Jane Litte’s Announcement

Jessica Clare, aka Jill Myles, has blogged about Jane Litte’s announcement. It does answer an outstanding question I had (whether Jessica knew of the Jane Litte identity).
While I am totally fine with both of them loving each other’s works and being friends, I’m still uncomfortable, for reasons I haven’t totally unpacked, with Jessica having brought Jen into inner circles without giving others a heads up as to her other identity.
I just discovered that I’ve been on an author loop where Jen Frederick was as well. However, she left that group quite some time ago.

Jen Frederick’s Undeclared

I started reading Jen Frederick’s permafree book, Undeclared, when I couldn’t sleep night before last. I read about 10% of it then, then read another 10% last night. (I’m behind on two books I need to put more energy into reading, but I also was in no shape to read either of those.)
For whatever it’s worth, I’m enjoying the book. Granted, new adult romance is my personal catnip.

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Dear Author: Pseudonymous and Anonymous Speech Issues

26 March 2015

Anonymous Speech
I’ve thought a lot about anonymous and pseudonymous speech over the years, and I have to admit that the outrage to Jane Litte’s outing herself as Jen Frederick has me scratching my head.
I’ve got a long history with pseudonymity, and I used a pseudonym long before I became a writer. Back in the 70s and early 80s, I used the pseudonym Harfesta online, partly because someone was already using Deirdre as their pseudonym (which frankly cheesed me because it’s my given name).
I’ve used pseudonyms in various places where it was the expectation, and I’ve used pseudonyms in publishing since not long after my start (but long before Google) simply because it was a contract requirement.
In 94-95 on alt.religion.scientology, I used an open pseudonym (Deeny, which was related to my AOL account name) as well as my real first name. I also used anonymized speech through the late (a two-way anon remailer) as well as outright anon speech, back in the days when you could push email through an anon gateway and have a reasonable expectation it’d be received on the other end.
I haven’t used truly anon speech since then.

Anonymous Speech: Peer vs. Non-Peer Relationships

But in most circles where there are pseudonymous or anonymous speakers, those speakers are generally peers, e.g., people on a web forum.
What’s fascinating about the romance community is that there are a number of people known full-time by pseudonyms, and people may have multiple pseudonyms operating in different segments of the romance community at the same time. Some of these are “open” pseudonyms, like Jennifer L. Armentrout’s J. Lynn (or, in science fiction, Harry Turtledove’s H.N. Turtletaub for his non-SF historicals). The open pseudonyms are typically needed because of bookstore computer systems—not wanting to cross the marketing streams, especially where sales are expected to differ significantly. That way, one bad book won’t tank both of your careers.
A number of people are known by closed pseudonyms too, though, and some are probably known by both open and closed at the same time. (One could argue, given that Jane Litte’s legal name was used in an article years back, this is true for her.)
But relationships with editors, well, we expect them to be known by their “real” names. So I’ve wondered if part of the backlash about Jane’s/Jen’s revelation is delayed backlash about Jane Litte having been a pseudonym in the first place.
I’m coming from the sf/f world, where a higher percentage of people seem to use their real names (though that may just be the apparency), and I’m just shaking my head at the irony of some of the comments over on The Passive Voice article linked in my last blog post on this topic: using a pseudonym to complain about pseudonymity per se would be funny if this weren’t such a serious topic.
To be clear, I’m not ignoring the ethical issues relating to disclosure or transparency. They are there, and some of them don’t make me happy.
Personally, I’m wondering why there’s a bigger reaction to there being a reviewer in author spaces than an industry journalist in author spaces. That seems the potentially larger conflict of interest.

Getting Back to Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author for a Moment

I wish I could find the comment I am pretty sure I wrote (perhaps only in a dream; I’ve had a really tough time since the Germanwings airplane crash), responding to someone who’d contributed to DA’s legal fundraising. Essentially, some people have called into question that fundraising in light of being a successful romance author and having recently sold film rights.
To which I say the following:

  1. She said she had $20,000 to contribute toward her defense. That may well have been entirely from the book sales and film rights for all you and I know.
  2. I’ve sold film rights (to a proposed Lifetime movie about one aspect of my own life). Let’s put it this way: options are cheap. The real money is when the film is produced, and I don’t believe that’s happened yet.
  3. Lawyers don’t necessarily make a lot of money, especially not lawyers for the state. I know two people who’ve passed the bar in recent years who are basically starving. It’s not a golden ticket.

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