Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'norilana'

: Eugie Foster, RIP

It was just under a year ago that Eugie Foster broke open a dam with her plea for people to buy her work, but not the Norilana editions. She was fighting cancer, an aggressive form.
Unfortunately, the treatments she’s gotten, including radiation, several courses of chemo, and stem cell therapy, weren’t enough to save her life.
Sadly, she died today.
If you don’t know Eugie’s work, she was an amazing writer with a Nebula award and a hundred-ish publishing credits to her name. Link below.
Her last published story is, “When it Ends, He Catches Her,” published in Daily Science Fiction.

A Note from Her Husband

Matthew M. Foster said:

Eugie Foster, author, editor, wife, died on September 27th of respiratory failure at Emory University in Atlanta.
In her forty-two years, Eugie lived three lifetimes. She won the Nebula award, the highest award for science fiction literature, and had over one hundred of her stories published. She was an editor for the Georgia General Assembly. She was the director of the Daily Dragon at Dragon Con, and was a regular speaker at genre conventions. She was a model, dancer, and psychologist. She also made my life worth living.
Memorial service will be announced soon.
We do not need flowers. In lieu of flowers, please buy her books and read them. Buy them for others to read until everyone on the planet knows how amazing she was.

You can find her fiction linked here on her website.

Some Tweets from Others

This has long been the example I give ppl of how much power SFF short fiction can have in audio: Eugie Foster’s #RIP

— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) September 27, 2014

We are heartbroken at the loss of our Director/Editor, @eugiefoster. A beautiful soul and steadfast friend.

— Daily Dragon (@daily_dragon) September 27, 2014

New Post: Saying Goodbye to Eugie Foster

— Jim C. Hines (@jimchines) September 27, 2014

Eugie Foster is one of the writers I think of whenever I wonder if Speculations did any good. (Yes, it did.)

— Kent Brewster (@kentbrew) September 27, 2014

If you haven’t done so, read “When it Ends, He Catches Her” by @EugieFoster in @DailySF. One of the year’s best.

— Jason Sanford (@jasonsanford) September 27, 2014

Wondering why your feeds are exploding with grief over Eugie Foster? She was one of our best writers…and one of our best people.

— Jaym Gates (@jaymgates) September 27, 2014

May she never be forgotten.

: Serious Indiegogo Question

For the purposes of this question, let’s assume the following are exactly as stated.

  1. Someone puts up an Indiegogo campaign.
  2. There are complaints about the campaign, and it’s arguably right on the edge of the TOS boundary.
  3. There are contributions to the campaign.
  4. The originator tries to cancel the campaign, but is told it must stay open. Like, you know, this one.

Note: the following is not about the linked campaign. The situation just got me thinking.
So, I ask, what’s to stop a campaign runner from deliberately starting an edge-of-TOS campaign, have a friend contribute five bucks, then “have to” keep it running? Using Indiegogo’s TOS against them, effectively?
And how hard does it have to violate the TOS before Indiegogo steps in?
Because I can’t help but think, re the linked campaign above: as it stands, Indiegogo makes $82.80 from it, but if it were all undone and reset, they’d make $0.
Those decisions add up.
Additional thoughts added after posting:
In general, I’m a huge fan of transparency, and I can get that Indiegogo wants to keep the transparency by keeping the campaign page public. I’m okay with that part.
However, I don’t get why the campaign is kept live. It’s possible, that like the Kickstarter campaign with the PUA book (and its brouhaha), that they didn’t have a process to stop it. Which, given how long Indiegogo’s been around, seems weird.

: Why I Helped the First Time

When Rose Lemberg and I ran Vera Nazarian’s fundraiser, we each had our own reasons for helping.
I’ll link to Rose’s below, but here are mine.
In 2003, I befriended another person on a forum where we knew each other anonymously (this forum required pseudonyms). Let’s call him Cas. He lived in the Portland, Oregon area. I can’t remember exactly when we first met face to face, but I believe it was 2005. Cas was in town for business (he was a mid-level manager in electronics), and he, Rick, and I had dinner.
In 2006, I took a traditional chairmaking workshop in Portland for a week. Cas and I went out for dinner to his favorite Chinese restaurant, which was a very informal place, but very tasty. In 2007, Cas was once again in my area for business, and he, Rick, and I went out for dinner again.
At that time, Cas was at the very end of what would turn out to be his last job.
Look, I’m going to say it, because I think the truth needs to be said when I’m talking this stuff (which is part of why I’m giving you a nick and not his real name): he was not the most ethical person. I don’t know the whole story, and I don’t care, but he’d done something wrong (and by “wrong,” I mean big ticket wrong) in the past where wound up with an IRS bill of over a hundred grand that was not dischargeable in Chapter 7, only Chapter 13. I believe the rules have subsequently changed, but those were the rules in place at the time.
However, in between when he’d incurred that debt and when I met him, he’d straightened up a lot. Not completely, but a lot. (For me, growth is a more important trait than perfection.)
And he’d had a Chapter 7 years and years before, but this IRS bill was weighing around his neck. In 2005, he filed Chapter 13. Even after he’d lost his job, he’d kept paying on the Chapter 13. His wife had to file Chapter 13 also just so they could keep the house (because they could defer other bills and reduce their household expenses). She had chronic illness, so that was yet another complicating factor.
If he’d gotten a job again, it would have been bearable, but he never did. Months turned into a year, and everything started to fall apart. His creditors asked for relief from the bankruptcy stay beginning in March 2008, right as I got my job at Apple.
Cas never told me.
I was so high on having gotten the job I wanted, I wasn’t really aware that he was deflecting, something he hadn’t done with me before. Only much later, when I looked back, was I able to see that our conversations started shifting at about that point in time.
In August, his bankruptcy was dismissed. He still never told me. Then he started to really withdraw, but I was so busy at work, I honestly barely noticed.
The morning they came to foreclose upon his house late October 2008, he shot and killed himself.
His family called, and I spoke to his brother.
I felt horribly guilty. No, it wasn’t my fault, but I feel guilty that I wasn’t present enough to call him on his withdrawal. I felt guilty that he’d previously trusted me with stuff, and, for whatever reason, maybe I’d lost his trust at a time when he needed someone most to vent to. I regretted not being there.
Even more horribly, I got why he did it. The house was solely in his name, and, in his own weird way, he was trying to protect his wife in a non-community property state. Undeniably, he was sending a big old “fuck you” to the bank foreclosing on the house, knowing they couldn’t sell it as is. That would be a very Cas-like approach. Part of me respects that.
The IRS debt was also solely his and from before marrying his wife, so the innocent spouse rule applied. If he died, she was free from it.
You know what? I miss my friend.
So, when only a few weeks later, someone else I knew sent out a bat signal that they were going to lose their home to foreclosure?
Of course I helped Vera. I felt like I’d failed Cas, but I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I didn’t do it for Vera anywhere near as much as I did it for Cas.

About That Growth Thing

I’d seen Cas grow over the years I’d known him.
What I haven’t seen is Vera’s growth, and I’ve known her longer.
Cas never asked to borrow money from me (or manipulated money out of me), even when he desperately needed it.
Vera, on the other hand, is all about other people giving her money by whatever means. I’m not actually sure what verb applies to what Vera did, so I’m not going to go there, especially not when strict liability for libel may apply.
It’s not a happy verb, though.
I will say, however, one of the things Teresa Nielsen Hayden said once that has really stuck with me: “the long con is a narrative form.”

: Vera Nazarian / Norilana Books Bankruptcy Challenge

Over on Passive Voice, Vera stated a criticism of what I’ve posted in the past:

The $100,000 money borrowed from my now deceased friend will be paid back in full to his heirs, and was in fact retained voluntarily by me as a debt instead of having it be dismissed through the bankruptcy.
His family is fully aware of the situation, we have an agreement, and everything is above board.
The person who has posted this originally with their own spin on it, seems to have a personal interest to do me harm.

If I’m wrong, it was unintentional. However, having just re-looked at the entire case, I don’t believe I’m wrong.
Rather than listen to what Vera had to say, I looked at what the filings actually said. There is nothing I saw in those filings that says that 2/3 of her total debt, a loan from a friend, is not discharged where the other 1/3 is.
No bankruptcy court would allow that and the other creditors would have a hissy.
Here’s the essence of how bankruptcy works: you either throw everyone under the bus, or you throw no one under the bus. There are exceptions and nuances (like secured creditors), but the entire point is to be a clean slate, especially in Chapter 7.

Here’s a Challenge

I’ve gone and zipped up Vera’s entire filings including the docket report.
I invite you to see if I missed something. I will pay $50 to anyone (except Vera) who can demonstrate, with the filings themselves, that I am wrong about the bankruptcy court having discharged Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr.’s loans to her of $100,000 plus interest. (But you might want to first look at docket item 13.)
That money can go to you or it can go to your choice of the authors she’s named in the Indiegogo as third-party authors published by Norilana. But not to Vera.

: Norilana Books Again

Previously on Norilana Books and Vera Nazarian, Something Needs To Be Said and Something Else Needs To Be Said.
Let’s note that it really is and here: Norilana is a sole proprietorship and therefore legally the same person as Vera Nazarian. (Last I checked, which was admittedly a few months ago.)
Today, Vera Nazarian started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for back royalties owed Norilana’s authors.
She did not list the authors as creditors in her bankruptcy discharged in 2012, even though she hadn’t paid royalties since (apparently) 2009.
Further, now she’s apparently preferentially wanting to pay her author creditors amounts that should have been partially discharged in bankruptcy even though this is unlawful. Does anyone have contact information for Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr.’s heirs? They may be interested in getting the bankruptcy overturned.
You know, the guy dying of cancer that she snubbed to the tune of $109,364?
Sarcasm alert:
But, of course you should believe that the $19,198.36 of back royalties that she’s raising the money for herself (rather than having an independent party doing it for accountability purposes) is going to her authors.
And of course you should believe that $19,198.36 is in fact due.
Which, let’s look at.
Here are the titles from third parties that aren’t public-domain authors. I’m assuming Val Noirre is Vera’s pseudonym (because it’s not on her list of authors due royalties) and thus am excluding.

Titles that Norilana Still Publishes Where Royalties May Be Due

  • 2011: Delusion’s Master by Tanith Lee (Note: Tanith Lee had an advance setaside in the creditor matrix, so any royalties due would be dependent upon it earning out) (reprint)
  • 2011: A Song of Awakening by Roby James
  • 2011: Phantas by Jeffry Dwight
  • 2011: The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee (reprint)
  • 2010: Death’s Master by Tanith Lee (reprint)
  • 2010: Warrior Wisewoman 3 (anthology)
  • 2009: Sounds and Furies by Tanith Lee (single-author collection)
  • 2009: The Captain’s Witch by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (reprint)
  • 2009: Under the Rose edited by Dave Hutchinson
  • 2009: Night’s Master by Tanith Lee (reprint)
  • 2009: Warrior Wisewoman 2 edited by Roby James (anthology)
  • 2009: A Cold Day In Hell by Ken Rand
  • 2009: Lace and Blade 2 edited by Deborah J. Ross (anthology)
  • 2009: The Memory Palace by JoSelle Vanderhooft
  • 2008: Warrior Wisewoman edited by Roby James (anthology)
  • 2008: A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects by Catherynne M. Valente (single-author collection)
  • 2008: Lace and Blade edited by Deborah J. Ross (anthology)
  • 2007: Leaving Fortusa by John Grant
  • 2007: The Covenant by Modean Moon
  • 2007: A Little Peace and Quiet by Modean Moon
  • 2007: Evermore by Modean Moon

Titles that Norilana No Longer Publishes (But Royalties May Still Be Due)

  • 2011: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword And Sorceress XXVI (anthology)
  • 2011: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword And Sorceress XXV (anthology)
  • 2010: Clockwork Phoenix 3: New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness (anthology)
  • 2009: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword And Sorceress XXIV (anthology)
  • 2009: Returning My Sister’s Face: And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice by Eugie Foster (single-author collection)
  • 2009: Clockwork Phoenix 2: More Tales of Beauty and Strangeness edited by Mike Allen (anthology)
  • 2009: Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey by Leonore H. Dvorkin
  • 2009: Business Secrets from the Stars by David Dvorkin (reprint)
  • 2009: Mearsies Heili Bounces Back: CJ’s Second Notebook by Sherwood Smith
  • 2008: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword And Sorceress XXIII (anthology)
  • 2008: A Stranger to Command by Sherwood Smith
  • 2008: A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
  • 2008: Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness (anthology)
  • 2008: The Journey to Kailash by Mike Allen
  • 2008: A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
  • 2007: Over the Sea: CJ’s First Notebook by Sherwood Smith
  • 2007: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword And Sorceress XXII (anthology)
  • 2007: East of the Sun and West of Fort Smith by William Sanders (single-author collection)
  • 2007: J. by William Sanders (reprint)
  • 2007: Senrid by Sherwood Smith

For the next part, let’s assume the following gross oversimplifications:

  1. An author’s royalty for a given work is equal year-to-year and book-to-book (and across authors).
  2. Reprints earn half the royalties of original works.
  3. Collections and anthologies often don’t earn out. Let’s assume these count as 15% of an original title. (This is extremely generous, though.)
  4. If an author or editor withdrew the work, then I’m assuming in-print and royalties due in 2010 through 2012 (or the first two years) as stuff really started blowing up in 2013.
  5. Royalties due per book run, on average, $1.25. Royalty rates for trade paper generally start at around 7.5% of list price, and many run around $15, so $1.125. This is a little generous for trade paper only, but there were often both hardback and trade paper editions, released at the same time.

It’s Spreadsheet Time

a.k.a. Time to check Deirdre’s arithmetic.
So, what does this mean, gross oversimplifications aside?

  1. Assuming Vera’s royalty number is true, the average Norilana author sold 196 copies of any given book in any given year. Reprints would be 98 copies, anthologies and collections 29.4 copies that royalties would be paid on.
  2. If you want to assume every book sold the same number of royalty-paying copies over time, there’s 41 titles, 4 years, that would be (19198.36/41/4/1.25), or 93.65 copies per book per year.

So That Selling Books Thing

Vera Nazarian aka Norilana Books simply has no idea how to actually sell books. If you’re a publisher and consistently, on average, selling under a couple hundred titles per year with dozens of titles to market….
You’re doing it wrong.
Especially if you publish twelve such titles in one year and then the next year, “Oops, can’t pay royalties.”


Everything about this Indiegogo campaign is intensely problematic. We don’t really know that the money is owed (except for Eugie Foster having opened the can of worms). We don’t really know how much is owed, and we only have vague ideas of to whom. It’s possible some authors have been paid (while others have not). There’s also what someone called “the Vera factor” in all this. I’ll let you figure the meaning.
Raising money to pay debt like this is also problematic. Vera already received that money. She spent it on other things (like her cable bill, which she details in one of her comments to my first post linked at the top).
All I can say at this point is: I don’t even.

: Something Else Needs To Be Said

…about Vera Nazarian and Norilana books, because it’s bigger than I thought.
Let’s talk about $170,000 in 2008 and 2009 — and not enough money to pay royalties at the beginning of 2010.
I remembered she’d had a bankruptcy, and when I went to look, I didn’t see the second bankruptcy because of how I searched.
Bankruptcy happens, and I’m not going to judge anyone, including Vera, for taking advantage of it, but two Chapter 7 discharges is unusual. National average for repeat filings is around 8%.
Before you object to divulging of some of the numbers below, remember that this is a public record. You could get the same information I did. There is a point, I’m just drawing circles around it for you to make your own conclusions.
2002: Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, California. Case 1:02-bk-12569-AG
2008: Borrowed $50k for business operation loan from Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2008: Fundraiser ($30k) to save house from foreclosure (which I helped run)
2009: Borrowed another $50k for business operation loan from Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2009: Business income of $41.8k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
So: $50k loan + $30k fundraiser + 50k loan + 41.8k income = more than $170,000. That number excludes business income in 2008 and all other sources of income in 2008 and 2009.
2010: Public statement about Norilana being late in paying royalties
2010: Postponing several anthologies
2010: Business income of $37.4k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2011: Foreclosure finally happens, then move to Vermont
2011: Business income of $13k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2012: Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Vermont. Case 12-10003, debts discharged $158,064.27. Of those, $109,364 is due O’Donnell. Link to PDF of her schedules, which has some information Norilana’s cash flows. Link to her filing, which has more data.
This is interesting:
Vera Nazarian
dba Norilana Books
…yet there is nothing showing any royalties due any authors. They are not on the creditor matrix. They should have been.
2012: Kickstarter to fund one of Vera’s books. Funded about six months after her discharge.
2012: Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr. dies of metastatic lung cancer. SFWA renames their service award after him.
2013: Eugie Foster announces she has cancer, then, tells people she hasn’t received royalties from Norilana for three years.
2013: Current Indiegogo fundraiser to fund Vera’s next book.
Edited to add: this Indiegogo fundraiser from Aug-Sep 2013 that I had not previously known about.

: Something Needs To Be Said

I know a lot of you have heard about Eugie Foster’s plea for help in the light of her cancer diagnosis.
I also have noticed a lot of people are minimizing or excusing Vera Nazarian’s (and Norilana, her small press) part in all this.
Look: Vera hasn’t paid royalties in three years (by Eugie’s comment and Vera’s own admission). If it were anyone other than an author telling a sad story, we’d be all over them. Vera says she’s ashamed. I doubt that. Plus, telling a sad story is a core competency for a Nebula-award-nominated author, isn’t it? In Vera’s case, the narrative has arguably become her life’s work.
Example (quoted from above link):

I am doing all I can to remedy my situation, working NON-STOP.

No. You are not doing all you can. Not in the least. Other people have had to wrest their rights from you. If you can’t afford to pay the suppliers for the things you sell — and haven’t been able to for three years, you should not be selling those things and keeping the money. Which you are, by your own admission, doing.
Vera’s been able to pay her SFWA dues, apparently, as she’s an Active (but not Lifetime Active) member. So she puts more value in paying the organization than the organization’s members she’s published.
Last year, Vera held a Kickstarter to raise money for a book. Not to pay money she owed her authors, but for herself. And now she’s doing another fundraiser (which I will not link to, and I will delete any comment that does) for writing her next book. But not for paying her authors.
Look, this isn’t a short-term problem, and it’s not going to resolve. She knows that.
Several of us ran a large fundraiser for her years ago. Those of us administering the fundraiser heard about vast sums of money (more than the thirty grand we raised) borrowed from other people, and she couldn’t pay that then. However, we didn’t hear it from the people themselves (so I don’t know how much truth there was to the numbers I heard), and we’d already committed to the fundraiser. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
So, I ask: if you know you can’t pay your authors their royalties, and you keep selling their books and, therefore, accruing the royalties due them, and you still need more cash from a Kickstarter: what’s the word for that kind of behavior? (Please do not post it, as I don’t want anyone to be accused of libel or slander. But you know what I mean, right?)
What I can say is this: Good behavior is a choice. It’s never too late to start. It may be too late to avoid some of the consequences, true.
See, when I buy a book, I am trusting that the author will get paid in a reasonable time. It’s not just a contract between the author and the publisher (and all the booksellers and wholesalers). It’s also a social contract between the purchaser and the publisher. Vera has betrayed our trust. I should be able to buy any of Eugie’s books in any format and trust that Eugie will get paid.
So, here’s what I suggest:
1) Vera should revert all rights to all Norilana titles that aren’t public domain or authored solely by herself. Yank all such titles out of all stores. Even if the authors are your friends, because you are not being one of theirs. The authors should not have to ask.
2) No signing any new authors or collections until Vera’s able to pay royalties again and has paid all past royalties.
3) Calculate all the amounts owed and pay them (or work out a realistic plan for the monies owed). I’d be happier if this was done with the help of a neutral third party.
4) Provide camera-ready copy to all authors and editors for existing works, including any artwork Vera has the rights to. This will make it easier for authors to re-publish their work themselves.
Oh, and start with Eugie Foster. [apparently Eugie’s print rights reversion is already in process]
Vera’s behavior is not that of someone who’s had a run of bad luck over the short term. There’s a more fundamental and deeper problem here. Every time someone brings it up, she turns the whine machine on full tilt. It becomes all about Vera, Vera, Vera.
It’s misdirection.
The whole problem with making an author ask for their rights back when Vera’s got the Poor Me Machine running full tilt? It means that only certain kinds of people will ask, or will ask only when others rage on their behalf. Thus, Vera can continue to take advantage of everyone else.
If we stop falling for this bullshit, maybe it’ll stop happening.