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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 18 The Chariot part 2 or, “No One Is Responsible For Their Actions”

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For your laughing pleasure, Esther Anne sent me this lovely screenshot:

A tweet from @JustinBrady that reads, "It was fun to meet @RockanRollGypsy and @TINband in the @WHORadio studios today! Some are saying their new collaboration is going to be bigger than the Twilight series!" followed by a link to a radio interview and a photo of Sarem and Nicholas with the WHO Radio DJs.

First of all, @WHORadio is a prime example of why you need to carefully consider how your social media/web branding is going to look without spaces in it.

Second, the “some are saying” part is 100% true. It’s just that the “some” are Lani Sarem and Thomas Ian Nicholas. It’s a very exclusive group.

You can listen to interviews here if you have a high cringe tolerance.

Why I’m backing away from romance “community” concerns

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Yesterday, I announced on Twitter that I no longer wanted to be tagged in, talked to, or asked about anything relating to #CockyGate, book stuffing, or any issue affecting the romance “community”, barring something like discrimination or prejudice. It may have seemed like a flounce out of nowhere. In reality, it was a mixture of a few things that have been going on for a while and which finally came to a head.

Mainly, the catalyst was the question: “Where were you?”

Without naming names, here’s the situation: Author X, with whom I have acquaintances in common, was called out for a video she made last January. In the video, which she now claims was “satire”, this author mocked Author Y, who called out Kindle Unlimited page stuffing scams. Author X went on at length for thirty minutes, proclaiming that book stuffers are smart, that she doesn’t care about book stuffers because she’s not a KU author and it doesn’t affect her, and making fun of Author Y for using YouTube and her low follower count. This allegedly satirical video resulted in some of the Author X’s readers and some other authors––who were probably page stuffing, themselves––to attack and threaten Author Y, who then removed her videos.

In other words, someone tried to call out a very real issue affecting authors and readers and another author went to ridiculous lengths to silence her, all while admitting that the issue didn’t have any impact on her career, anyway.

So, it was your standard Indie Romance Monday.

Now that the page stuffing scandal has gotten even more traction, Author Y stepped up and said, hey, I was talking about this a while ago but Author X made a video and it got people to attack me so I shut up about it. Obviously, some people were angry about that. My take (on another person’s Facebook status about the situation; I did not post the original call out or any statuses of my own about the issue) was that the “satire” video failed and Author X should apologize and retract. Others believed the same. But Author X chose instead to shout about how no one was silenced (they were), that she doesn’t hurt people’s feelings (she did), and perhaps my favorite (and the only direct quote I’ll use here): “Don’t you find it strange that I ‘silenced’ her, yet she suddenly has the courage to come forward and share this video for everyone who didn’t see it before?”

I wanted to scream, “NO, YOU STUPID BITCH, IT’S NOT STRANGE! IT’S THAT SHE KNOWS SHE HAS SUPPORT NOW!”

But all of that shoulder-tightening nonsense aside, what really got me was that several people on a very contentious Facebook thread about it demanded to know “Where were you?” when this was going on in January if I cared so much about it.

Where was I?

I wasn’t carefully monitoring the social media feeds of every single romance author to see if someone was being mean to them.

Where was I?

I was probably over-extending myself trying to stick up for someone else on some other issue affecting our alleged “community”.

Where was I?

Not making sure to follow two authors I’d never heard of until very recently to make sure they were able to get along with each other because I am not the fucking Indie Romance Preschool Monitor.

That “Where were you?”, repeated twice in that thread, four times in private messages, was the perfect “gotcha!” for people who, until their friend was called out for her actions, were happy to use the #GetLoud hashtag to stick up for silenced or under-siege authors. But the second it was someone they liked, all the old standbys came out. She was joking! It was sarcasm! Doesn’t anyone understand satire? Gosh! And when people still said, “yeah, she might not have intended to hurt this author, but she did,” they immediately jumped to that “Where were you?” Because if you imply that a person didn’t care enough six months ago…

What?

Six months ago, I didn’t know this was happening to Author Y. No one did, because she was afraid to speak up because she had been, what? SILENCED. Nobody knew what had happened to her because she didn’t have a large following at the time, so she had no support. Obviously, people didn’t hear about it then. That doesn’t mean they can’t care about it, now, or that people just not knowing something was going on means that it wasn’t a big deal and they should get a pass for their shitty behavior.

But no. “Where were you?”

Since I made a name for this blog by calling out the abuse and plagiarism in Fifty Shades Of Grey, I’ve been able to use it and my social media presence as a tool to support authors and readers who’ve run into situations where they’ve felt powerless. I’ve been able to call out bad author behavior and scams. I’ve been really lucky to have the voice that I have and the platform that I have. But I’ve also gotten a lot of shit for it. The owner of a now-defunct publishing house threatened me with physical violence. A publisher declined to release an anthology if I was included in it. I’ve been told gossip at bars at conferences about authors who’ve threatened to pull their books from publishers if they ever bought a manuscript from me. A guy threatened to make a necklace from my teeth. Rumors were started that I spent time in prison for gang violence and therefore shouldn’t be allowed at some events. Through trying to defend authors and readers, often after someone requested help from me, I have made myself persona non grata in my own industry. I don’t go to many conferences anymore because of my experiences at the few that I have gone to recently. Many times I spent evenings alone in my room while people who have been lovely and friendly to me for years in private wouldn’t chance being seen with me in public in front of other authors, agents, and publishers. At Romantic Times in Dallas, I spent several nights crying over the humiliation of receiving “the cut direct” from people who later tried to pull, “Oh, that was you? I didn’t even recognize you!” as though I didn’t have my name right there on my badge.

Interestingly enough, it was Anna Todd, an author I’d called out here on this blog and later apologized for, who was the kindest to me at that event. I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

And yesterday, at the height of all of this nonsense, I was asked, “Where were you?”

Because I haven’t done enough.

Because I don’t care enough.

Because I could be giving more.

One of the people who asked, “Where were you?” had even been sending me screenshots from private groups to keep me updated about Faleena Hopkins. She’d sent me things she’d asked me to post or spread the word about. She’d been fine with using me as a tool, but the moment I mildly disagreed with her friend, Author X, she’d demanded to know: “Where were you when this was happening back in January?”

Well, where the fuck were you, romance “community”, when I needed you? That’s right. You were nowhere. You were telling me not to worry about it. You were telling me that I was making too big a deal of it. You were telling me to make it into a joke, to laugh it off, while I suffered and struggled with suicidal ideation because I knew, just from the response of people in the industry that I’d once trusted, that I was alone and nobody had my back. But now I’m supposed to jump at every screenshot over every trivial matter that might arise. You want to come to me with your grievances and gossip, you want me to listen, but practically no one listened to me in my time of need and if they did, only one author expressed public support.

But I’m supposed to do more. I’m supposed to care about what’s happening in your snotty little private groups where you talk shit freely about other authors in comfortable anonymity. I’m supposed to give a shit if author A’s feelings got hurt by Author B over something incredibly small and stupid, while larger problems are going on. These demands are constantly streaming into my emails, DMs, Facebook messages, Tumblr inbox, anywhere someone thinks they can grab my attention and be granted my time, my anger, my energy.

Yesterday, when I announced on Twitter that I was resigning my unintentional post as attack dog, people sent very nice messages suggesting self-care and stepping away for my own mental health. These messages are appreciated and I don’t want to appear ungrateful by saying this, because I am so grateful for the support of readers and authors who are still out there, doing what they can. This post is not addressed to you. But I want to make it clear: this is not me stepping away for my mental health. My mental health is fine.  This is me acting out the scene from Half Baked when Scarface quits his job. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, and fuck you, I’m out. This is me quitting and walking out of the office backward with both middle fingers extended.

Where were you?

I was right here. I was doing what you asked me to do. I was wrecking industry connections and stifling my own career. I was taking time out from writing books and blogging the fun stuff that makes me happy. I was spending my days constantly despairing over the state of an industry I loved, losing ground while cheaters and disingenuously “nice” people prospered. That’s where I was.

I’ll tell you where I’m going to be from now on: writing my books, focusing on my career and working as hard as possible for my readers. Blogging the stuff that’s fun, not the stuff that’s going to make me dread getting online. Not answering emails trying to alert me to the latest crisis, problem, or pointless drama I don’t even want to be involved in.

Where were you?

Where the fuck were you?

BABY MAKES THREE IS HERE!

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I said it would be May, and by god, it IS May!

The cover of Baby Makes Three shows a picture of Nassau, Bahamas from the water, with boats and brightly colored homes near the shore. There is a white bar across the middle of the cover with the title, and a green bar with Internationally Bestselling Author Abigail Barnette on it. Below that, the image of a couple's feet and a baby's diapered bottom and little feet between them.

Baby Makes Three (Penny’s Story): With a supportive spouse who adores her and a fresh start toward the career of her dreams, there isn’t much else that Penny Parker-Pratchett wants…except for a baby.

When a second pregnancy brings Penny and her husband, Ian, the surprise of a lifetime, it seems that his vision of domestic bliss isn’t quite what she’d thought it would be. With motherhood closer than ever before, Penny must contend not only with doubts about her maternal instincts but also with the reality that sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned…

Amazon • Smashwords

Baby Makes Three (Ian’s Story): Married to the love of his life, owning a successful architecture firm, and living in a tropical paradise, Ian Pratchett knows he’s achieved a dream most people would envy. But one goal remains painfully out of reach—fatherhood.

When Ian and his wife, Penny, are finally blessed with a second chance at parenthood, the pain of past losses haunts him. And when their blessing turns out to be more than they bargained for, Ian must let go of the fears that have driven him to success, or risk disappointing the one woman he swore he would never let down again.

Amazon • Smashwords

 

As always, I hope you enjoy the book(s) and thanks for your continued support of my bonkers writing dreams!

Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 18 The Chariot part 1 or, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

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I don’t think I have any Lani news this time around, simply because Book Twitter is so busy with #CockyGate and #ForeverGate at the moment. But I do have a heads up about content this time around. If you’re mentally ill and “crazy” or “insane” as a pejorative bothers you, it’s all over this chapter. No exaggeration. “Crazy” is used seven times in this chapter. “Insane” is used four times. That might not seem like a lot, but in context, it becomes impossible to overlook. It will continue into the next recap.

There is so much in this chapter that I’m splitting it into two parts. It’s not that the chapter is long, necessarily. It’s just the high amount of wrong with it.

We’re also going to get the G-word and a lot of made up, One True Path™ nonsense, too. Enjoy!

#CockyGate2: Forever Boogaloo

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In a story that’s getting weirder and weirder by the minute, it appears that someone has filed for a trademark for the word “forever” as it relates to all titles across all genres in print, e-book, and publishing houses.

The author? Heidi McLaughlin, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Forever My Girl, recently a major motion picture and one of the specimens entered on the application.

And yup. This case is just as big a banana split as Faleena Hopkins’s trademark of “cocky”. But in a whole different way. See, McLaughlin claims that the trademark has been filed by…an impersonator?

A face book comment that reads: "We are asking specific questions on this post, and we are not being given clear answers. Please clarify. Did you or did you not consent to this trademark application? Are you implying that you are being impersonated? Did you give permission to Marisa to file?' Followed by a response from Heidi McLaughlin: "1) No. 2) Yes. There is someone going around posing as me. They have been around for some time and it's been a battle trying to get them to stop. 3) She didn't file it. Only two TM's were filed on my behalf. My name and series title."

The “Marisa” referenced in the post is McLaughlin’s agent, Marisa Corvisiero, of Corvisiero Literary Agency, who McLaughlin states did not file the trademark on her behalf:

A FB status from Heidi McLaughlin: Things you should know... 1) My business name is Books by Heidi McLaughlin, LTD - it's very public, used on my PayPal and all over my platforms. 2) My series title - The Beaumont Series - filed as well. 3) My name - I filed to protect this, see #4 4) Impersonation IS NOT a form of flattery. 4a) Not my filing, nor associated with me, my business or representation 5) Why would I TM my publisher's name? Doesn't make much sense now does it? 5) While everyone is so quick to jump the gun, to bash me, my agent and the post I saw about my "spoiled ass kids" grow up. Stop and ask questions."

But while McLaughlin insists that the filer does not represent her, Corvisiero Literary Agency’s website still shows McLaughlin as a client and the application has Marisa Corvisiero’s law firm listed multiple times as the person seeking the Trademark.

Though McLaughlin claims that Corvisiero did not file the application, Corvisiero stated on Twitter:

A tweet from Marisa Corvisiero: "Yes, I see that a clarification should be made as many rumors are floating around. I assure you, any legal filling submitted from me as an attorney wasn't not an activity of my agency, was fully authorized by the legal client, and made within the legal rights of the client."

The confusing wording of “wasn’t not” aside, Corvisiero claims her “client” authorized her to file the trademark. The client being the entity listed on the application, Wicked Literary LLC.

So, who owns Wicked Literary LLC? McLaughlin hasn’t answered when asked if she’s the owner, and the LLC is registered by American Incorporators LTD, a service specializing in establishing LLCs. Does McLaughlin own Wicked Literary? That’s kind of a dead end. It could be a shell corporation set up by McLaughlin or Corvisiero. Or could it be, as McLaughlin claims, an impersonator?

For the moment, Corvisiero isn’t answering any more questions on Twitter. In comments on her Facebook status, McLaughlin has dodged straightforward questions from confused readers, insisting that she has been impersonated and the trademark was filed without her permission. Both have said that they’re looking into the situation.

At the time of writing this, neither have said that the trademark application will be challenged or withdrawn.

Now we come to the part of the blog post where I ask some questions and say some shit.

I believe that people impersonate authors. It happened to me when my second book came out. A woman in South Carolina was pretending to be me, going into bookstores and signing stock, and even wrote a fanfic that she passed around on MySpace as the first draft of the third book in the series. She was only caught when a man she’d begun dating sent an email intended for her to the email address on my website. My publisher and agency had to send C&Ds. It was a mess.

In my case, the woman was doing it for self-aggrandizement and attention. She had something to gain, no matter how weird. I want to know what someone has to gain by setting up an anonymous corporation and filing a Trademark application, both of which come with fees in the hundreds of dollars, then either fraudulently representing themselves as an agent or as an agent’s client. Trademarking a word that applies to an intellectual property that one doesn’t own in the first place won’t actually result in a monetary profit. Nor could you brag about owning the trademark if you committed fraud to get it.

McLaughlin’s readers are already formulating theories that range from Marisa Corvisiero being a stalker to the mysterious impersonator being another author who is jealous of McLaughlin’s success and seeking to use the momentum of Faleena Hopkins’s fall from grace to destroy McLaughlin’s reputation. But all of this seems very far-fetched if the following questions remain unaddressed:

  • How did someone manage to impersonate McLaughlin convincingly enough that her own agent didn’t question it?
  • How was there never a point where Corvisiero and McLaughlin communicated about the filing via phone or email, which would have cleared up the impersonation confusion?
  • Why would Corvisiero admit to filing the trademark on her client’s behalf if that client, Wicked Literary LLC, had no claim to the intellectual property that would be defended by the trademark?
  • How would Corvisiero not be aware that Wicked Literary LLC was in no way affiliated with McLaughlin?
  • What motive would Corvisiero have to knowingly apply for a trademark on McLaughlin’s behalf through a totally unrelated entity without McLaughlin’s permission?
  • Why would Corvisiero take actions that could lead to disbarment, the ruin of her agency, her own credibility, and possibly jail time?
  • Why would McLaughlin make a serious, possibly career ending accusation against Corvisiero by saying that Corvisiero acted without her consent?

Though McLaughlin’s fans are already blaming bullies and haters (who are in fact simply people asking questions that have arisen through McLaughlin and Corvisiero’s conflicting statements) there are red flags all over. It doesn’t look good that McLaughlin came out of the gate claiming that her children were being attacked (these attacks do occur frequently in online disputes, but usually when a situation has escalated and not at the beginning of the social media response), nor do her repeated Facebook responses referencing pitchforks (alluding to persecution by an angry mob), especially considering that these were similar actions taken by Faleena Hopkins in her defense. Yes, it would be very upsetting to find that someone had taken those actions on one’s behalf without one’s consent, but directing anger at the people bringing the issue to one’s attention and asking for straight answers, instead of at the person who took those actions, makes a person look like they have something to hide.

At the time of this post, McLaughlin also hasn’t answered simple yes-or-no questions regarding whether she plans to challenge the trademark or whether or not she owns Wicked Literary. These are much easier questions to answer than inquiries people have made regarding the involvement of law enforcement over the impersonator or whether she intends to sue Corvisiero, fire her, or contact the New York State Bar Association (all questions no one should be expecting answers to at this time). Simply saying, “No, I don’t own Wicked Literary LLC,” or “Yes, I plan to challenge this fraudulent application,” would make McLaughlin appear a lot more credible. Withdrawal and refusal again make it seem as though she has something to hide.

As it stands, based on the actions of McLaughlin and Corvisiero, it looks very much as though McLaughlin did seek the trademark and simply tried to hide her involvement through the use of a shell corporation. Then, when she threw her agent and attorney under the bus, her plan backfired. But McLaughlin needn’t worry; she has a legion of fans already demanding silence over the issue and insisting everyone believe she’s innocent despite her odd response and unwillingness to answer questions that have easy, cut-and-dried answers. Niceness, as we all know, will induce people to cover a multitude of sins on your behalf.

McLaughlin has stated that she’s trying to fix the situation. To drama-weary eyes, it looks as though she’s more interested in fixing the fallout from being caught.

UPDATE: McLaughlin made the following statement on her Facebook page:

A FB post from Heidi McLaughlin:This morning, I woke up, faced with an onslaught of disparaging posts, tags, private messages, which were mostly positive so I thank those who sent them. This all happened while I was driving my dog to the groomers, so I pulled over to find out why my phone was blowing up so early in the morning. The sheer fear and anxiety, to be once again social media fodder, is really the worst feeling I have ever felt, aside from losing my brother and grandma. However, I responded in haste, without verifying all my facts. I really try to do good things in life. Volunteer, donate to reputable causes, and support my peers, so to damage another author, is not how I operate. My agent and I discussed trademarking my brand. This was essentially important because there is someone out there who poses as me, giving interviews as me, etc... who has been dealt with numerous times. So when I found all this out that was my first assumption. And while I asked you not to make any, I did, based on what I’ve had to deal with when it comes to this other being. Know this as truth and fact – my agent acted on my behalf, trademarking my brand and my name. The result: a miscommunication on my part. I’m not an evil person. I never wish harm on anyone, wish for them to fail or desire to stop them from doing anything. That’s not my nature. It’s not who I am or how I function in life, despite what people are saying who don’t actually know me. The application in question, as I’m being told, is in the process of being canceled, withdrawn or whatever has to be done. I am truly sorry to have ruined your Wednesday. Due to irrelevance, my other post is gone.

Due to the high level of “poor me, I volunteer, I donate to charity, people in my life have died and it made me very sad,” in her post, I’m officially not buying that it was a mistake. Maybe that’s unfair of me. Or maybe it’s because we see this canned victim reaction whenever someone’s scheme falls through.

UPDATE THE SECOND: An anonymous source sent me the following screenshots, wherein McLaughlin asks Alessandra Torre’s “Inkers” group where they chose to set up their LLCs:

Heidi McLaughlin: "Authors with LLCs - how did you decide what state to open your LLC in?" The first response says: "Missouri because I could use my in laws pO box. The second response says: I used to work in an accounting department for a consultant company, Delaware is one of the better states to open a LLC and unless something changed, still is because of the no state income :D A finance/accountant should be able to help let ya know."

Whether or not McLaughlin is asking or stating because she didn't use any punctuation, but her reply is: "You don't need an address in Delaware" and someone else responds, "Delaware has major tax benefits, as well as business friendly regulatory protections (Chancery court system). You just need a DE Registered Agent (which you can find online for prob like $100-$200 annually). They receive and make sure you receive important tax related correspondence etc. (and more importantly, they're required for out-of-state businesses. That said, I set mine up in NY for no reason I can fathom other than a physical address lolol.

These posts were made in January of 2018. Wicked Literary LLC is registered in Delaware.

So…

kiiiiiiiinda looks like this wasn’t a miscommunication and she’d been planning this for months on her own.

UPDATE 3: Because I apparently can’t read, the Wicked Literary LLC was set up in January of 2017, which is even more confusing. So, the LLC isn’t owned by McLaughlin, but she was looking to set up an LLC in 2018 and the Wicked Literary LLC is the entity seeking the trademark. I’m still going to say that this seems as though she may have been planning this, but that she doesn’t own Wicked Literary LLC.

UPDATE 4: A different anonymous source sent me the following screenshot:

A reader asks McLaughlin: "Heidi, you come across as a caring person, and I'm glad I saw this post. Your motives seem miles away from those that birthed #cockygate, yet I was guilty of jumping to conclusions, determining that, as a reader, I would never read your books because of attempting to TM one word. Having another writer impersonate you certainly requires some kind of action to protect you. No idea what legal advice you have available, but I bet @kneupperwriter and @CourtneyMilan (twitter) would have some advice. Now I'm off to check out your books and I wish you the best of luck! [heart emoji]" McLaughlin responds: "They're not US based. It's much harder, I've found."

First of all, nice job offering the services of those attorneys? Don’t do that.

Second, McLaughlin needed to get the U.S. trademark to protect against an impersonator…who isn’t in the United States and isn’t subject to U.S. law.

Still not adding up.

Things That Scare Me And Are Easily Avoidable

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Greetings, Trout Nation. As you may have guessed, I am a fucking coward. I am afraid of everything. Despite having grown up in a haunted house and firmly believing that I’ve been abducted by aliens, and despite the fact that I often roll joints on an Ouija board, I’m so afraid of the most ridiculous things. Things that can easily be avoided.

There are some things that are just scary, but sometimes you have to get through them. My fear of being cut in half by an elevator? Well, sometimes you just have to get on that elevator (move very fast, and never try to squeeze through closing doors. Thirty people a year are gruesomely killed by elevators. Look it up). Live in Michigan but you’re afraid of driving over the Mackinac Bridge? We all are and have been since 1989, but if you live here, you’re gonna have to do it some time. Like I said, these are unavoidable situations for me sometimes (though I have been known to take the stairs to ridiculous heights). But here are some things I fear that are easily avoidable.

These are a few:

The Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, IL If you have some spare time and want to read some truly morbid shit, give The Congress Plaza Hotel a Google. You’ll find charming stories about a mother throwing her children to their deaths from a twelve-story window, America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, prowling the lobby for victims, and there has been a rash of suicides both in and outside of the hotel walls. YouTube provides endless hours of amateur paranormal investigations and tours of floors where rooms have been padlocked shut, wallpapered over, or otherwise sealed. I’m terrified of the place.

Solution: Just don’t go there, dipshit. I once did one of those Priceline deals where they don’t show you the hotel, just the price. I snatched up a room for seventy bucks a night!

Then promptly canceled it and ate the non-refundable cost when I saw it was at the Congress. No. Fucking. Thank you.

 

The Bolton Strid, Yorkshire, England This is a lovely, burbling little stream that will fucking eat you alive. No joke. It has a reported 100% fatality rate for people who fall into it. As someone who regularly experiences l’appel du vide around dangerous bodies of water, I am 100% sure that I’m 100% going to jump into the 100% fatal stream. What makes the place so dangerous? The water is a lot deeper than it appears. Like, a lot. And it’s full of underwater caves and currents. And I’m pretty sure the Gwragedd Annwn live in it and will pull you in. I don’t fuck around with fairies.

Solution: Just don’t go there, dipshit. I live in America. It’s not like I’m going to accidentally stumble into the damn thing.

 

Being instantly vaporized by a powerful electrical current I am so afraid of electricity. And I don’t know why. It’s all over my house. But what scares me most are the giant substation transformer things just sitting out there. Sure, there are fences and warning signs, but just thinking about them makes me break out into a cold sweat. My grandfather once told me that there are ones that are so powerful, they can vaporize you. What the fuck. That’s horrifying. I don’t want that to happen to me.

Solution: Don’t fuck with electricity, dipshit. This one isn’t even going to be a problem. I won’t change a fucking lightbulb. The light figure in my office flickered one too many times and now I sit in the total darkness. This shouldn’t be an issue. But it is.

 

Woodchippers Who wouldn’t be afraid of a giant machine that can grind you to pieces in a matter of seconds? People get sucked into them all the time. OSHA describes this as “total body morselization.” You know how I know this? Because I’m so fucking afraid of them that I’ve read OSHA reports about them. Never underestimate my capacity for terrifying myself needlessly. But there have been truly horrifying accidents with this mind-bogglingly common piece of equipment that any jackass can rent and operate. I do not fuck around with woodchippers.

Solution: What I’m already doing. I just don’t deal with woodchippers. A few months ago, Consumers Energy was outside my yard trimming tree branches from the lines and feeding them into a wood chipper. I wouldn’t even go outside. I banned my family members and dogs from going outside until they were far, far away. So, I’m doing what I’m doing, yet I’m still afraid at all times.

 

Overall, I guess I’m a fearful person. I hear about things that could happen and it scares me. I think about things that will never happen or I could easily prevent and it scares me. I know I’m not the only one out there. Traumatize us all with your unfounded fears in the comments.

The Big Damn Angel Rewatch S01E03 “In The Dark”

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CONTENT WARNING: MENTIONS OF PEDOPHILIA, CHILD MURDER

In every generation, there is a chosen one. No, shit. Wrong show. What am I supposed to do, now? I guess I’ll just have to recap every episode Angel with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Angel is still a dick.
  2. Cordelia is smarter than everyone.
  3. Sex is still evil.
  4. Sunlight isn’t nearly as dangerous as it was in Sunnydale…
  5. …but its danger is certainly inconsistent.
  6. Vampire/demon rules aren’t consistent with the Buffyverse.
  7. Xenophobia and cultural stereotypes abound.
  8. Women are disposable and unrealistic.
  9. Vampires still @#$%ing breathe.
  10. Some of this stuff is still homophobic as fuck.
  11. Blondes, blondes everywhere
  12. A lot of this shit is really misogynistic.

The Big Damn Angel Damsel In Distress Counter: 7

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Just like with the Buffy recaps, I’ve seen (most) of this series already, so I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So a blanket spoiler warning is in effect.

The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Epilogue): What Happened To Sam?

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So, we’ve come to the final installment of this series. This is probably the hardest one for me to write because it’s difficult to examine a person you once considered your friend, know all the reasons for the spiral out of control they experienced, and still not want to rekindle that friendship now that they’ve got their shit together. But people have been asking for this part. So, here I go.

If you’ve missed out on the story so far, here are parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.

I watched Faleena Hopkins’s scary video. All 1 hour and 39 minutes of it.

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Hey everybody! I will be MIA from the cyberbullying and mob of haters for a few days because I’m going to beautiful Mackinac Island tomorrow and I’m not coming back until Friday. But I’ll leave you this tweet. Follow it for a very long thread recapping the bizarre and infuriating video Faleena Hopkins made on Facebook Live in the middle of the night.

Highlights:

  • We’re mad because we’re jealous of her fame and success
  • Bring on the hate. She can take it.
  • But she has to have someone else read the mean comments so she can protect herself
  • She isn’t hurting the authors she’s sent takedown notices to, their readers are hurting them by attacking her
  • Also, you can’t attack her because in doing so you’re calling autistic people stupid
  • Oh, and she’s a descendant of a slave so you really can’t attack her
  • (But apparently, most of the authors she’s targeted with takedowns are black)
  • Authors whose books have been removed or retitled are pretending to be victims for attention
  • “You know who you are.”

The first tweet in the thread is below, go check it out if your morbid curiosity leads you there.

 

Also, there’s been a huge surge in traffic to the site (it was actually down for a while yesterday), so if you’re putting your eyes on this stuff and liking it and you feel like tossing a buck my way, there’s a “buy me a coffee” button to the right of this post.

Don’t Do This, Ever: Faleena Hopkins Cocks The Whole Entire Fuck Up

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Have you ever noticed how a lot of erotic romance novels have similar titles? For example, Fifty Shades of Grey spawned titles like 12 Shades Of Desire, and after the publication of Beautiful Bastard and Manwhore a ton of books came out with increasingly profane titles? For the last couple of years, the word “cocky” has been popping up on romance novel covers. A lot of them.

Author Faleena Hopkins certainly likes to use the word in her book titles. See, Hopkins knows the importance of a brand, as she discusses in her blog post about being the first self-published author to ever photograph her own cover models (she is definitely not). Other authors were copying her on purpose. By…using stock photos that she had coincidentally also used:

My readers were starting to get upset when they saw the Cocker Family on other authors’ covers and/or advertising. I began getting messages. My readers posted on Facebook, on my Fan page, my personal page, and in my group.

“Isn’t this Gabriel? Why is he on this author’s ad? Is that legal?!”

“Look at this! They’ve got Jaxson on their book, same photo. Who do they think they are?” 

I told them about the licensing, because most readers don’t know about the biz.

But their instincts that some – not all, but some – of these authors were copying me on purpose, were founded in truth.

Anyone who reads erotic romance can look at a stock photo and tell you exactly which twelve books it’s on. There are some very popular stock guys out there. For example:

  • Blond Guy With An Untied Tie Around His Neck Unbuttoning His Shirt
  • Guy With Head Down, Face Obscured By Shadow, Wearing An Open Hoodie With Nothing But Abs Underneath
  • Guy In A Suit Facing Windows, Definitely Not Inspired By The Fifty Shades Of Grey Movie Poster
  • White Guy In White Tank Top Biting His Thumb And Pulling Up His Shirt To Reveal His Abs
  • Headless Tuxedo Man And His Headless Pink Dress Girlfriend

and many, many more. But Hopkins knows everyone is copying her, despite the fact that very few authors or readers had ever actually heard of her and despite the fact that her allegedly original and striking covers are indistinguishable from hundreds of other erotic romance novels that predate hers.

But Hopkins decide that she needed to protect her brand. Since her Cocker Brothers series all have titles that start with “Cocky,” the next obvious step was to actually trademark the word “cocky.”

Because no one in their right mind would think, “I need to monitor all the notices and postings about potential trademarks in case someone tries to pull some shady bullshit and trademark a common adjective used on erotic romance novel titles,” no one had enough notice to challenge it. She now owns the word “cocky” and it’s no longer usable in any romance novel title.

The issue came to light when authors suddenly received copyright violation notices from Amazon and Audible informing them the word “cocky” was trademarked and therefore could not be used in their titles. Now that she owns “cocky,” she’s dead set on forcing everyone to remove the word from their book titles…even if they were published prior to her own series or prior to the application date of her trademark.

On social media, everyone weighed in on whether or not the trademark is enforceable or if she can retroactively enforce the trademark for books that predate her application. But I don’t believe it was ever Hopkins’s intent to actually enforce the trademark. She knows for a fact that threats work because authors have already changed their covers and titles out of fear of a lengthy and expensive legal battle. And she’s not shy about openly threatening the work, promotion, and royalties of other authors:

A tweet from Faleena Hopkins that reads "It's a brand. And everyone who wants to can keep their books, rankings, reviews and their money by retitling which takes one day.

Except, retitling doesn’t take “one day”. And it impacts authors in countless ways. For an author to change the title of their book, they must:

  • Change the text file of the book to reflect the new title
  • Change the text files of any books that contain the title in an “also by” section
  • Acquire new cover art
  • Upload the retitled book as an entirely new work on platforms that don’t allow title changes
  • Assign a new ISBN
  • Change the text file of the paperback version
  • Change the cover file of the paperback version
  • Repeat the proofing process on the paperback version
  • Dispose of any paperback copies on consignment through brick and mortar stores and re-stock with the new paperbacks
  • Change keywords on all listings
  • Published audiobooks will be subject to all of the above, but they’ll also have to be edited with the title re-recorded, and unless the book is selling really well, chances are the audiobook publisher will simply pull the book from their catalog and call it a loss
  • If the author paid for the recording and production of their audiobook on their own, they will also have to pay for the re-recording and production or pull the book

If you’re an indie author trying to write and produce your next release, all of these changes can impact your schedule. They are time-consuming and potentially expensive. Those are just issues affecting the actual product. Consider it from a promotional angle:

  • Any book- or series-specific printed promotional items from bookmarks to t-shirts are now garbage
  • Ads purchased on websites or for print publication must be taken down or cancelled
  • Banners and signage printed for book expos and events? Also garbage
  • Author websites have to be updated with the new cover and title
  • Any reviews received from blogs now have the wrong title and, depending on the platform, the wrong buy links

The timing of this move is especially cruel considering that it’s now conference season. Romantic Times, Reader And Author Get Together, Romance Writers Of America, and Literary Love Savannah, plus other local conventions, happen throughout the summer. Authors may have already purchased series and book specific advertising on banners, elevator wraps, videos, and programs, as well as printed promotional items for swag bags, baskets, and promo “alleys” at these events. Some will have already bought cases of print stock for signings, which they now cannot sell and must replace with the retitled versions of their books.

In the same blog post linked above, Hopkins describes her financial situation at the time of the publication of her first novel:

Originally I did begin writing it for money because when the idea for Cocker Brothers came to me, I was flat broke and $50K in debt. Not from shopping, just from living and trying to get a self-published, authoring, business off the ground.

As you can guess, self-publishing is expensive. A single book can cost me anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 dollars to publish. That’s an impossible sum for a lot of authors. Hopkins clearly knows the financial hardship of the business and how expensive things can be, yet she’s seeking to obliterate other authors through financial ruin or the threat of it. There are going to be indie authors that can’t afford to publish after they deal with the mess, possibly never again, let alone fight a legal battle. Hopkins knows this and is banking on it.

She’s also threatening to pursue all royalties earned by any of these authors for the life of their books, as she did to Jamila Jasper:

A screenshot of an email: "Comment: Hi Jamilla, My name is Faleena Hopkins, author of Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series. The Federal Trademark Commission has granted me the official registered trademark of the word/mark "Cocky" in relation to romance books, no matter the font. Trademark Registration number: 5447836 I am writing to you out of professional respect so that you may rename your book "Cocky Cowboy" which shares the same title as my book, and republish all the versions (ebook, paperback, and audible) on Amazon to keep your ratings and money earned. My attorney at Morris Yorn Entertainment Law has advised me that if I sue you I will win all the monies you have earned on this title, plus lawyer fees will be paid by you as well. I will do that -- but I'd rather give you the option. I have had this series established since June 16, 2016 and I take all of the hard work I put into establishing it, very seriously. Your hard work I also take seriously. You have the opportunity to adjust, rename, and republish before taking further action. You can do so on Amazon without losing reviews. Thank you, Faleena Hopkins.

Yet, in that same blog post linked above, Hopkins claims:

The reason I write this series isn’t for money anymore.

I believe her. I don’t think she’s out to get money from her series. I think she’s out to get everyone else’s money. But she picked a stupidly short-sighted way to do so, as she now faces a potential legal battle with Romance Writers Of America, who quickly involved an IP attorney. She’s also probably not going to make bank off her series now, either; many people have put her on their Never Buy list.

You can find more information about this case from Legal Inspiration! and Kayleigh Donaldson for Pajiba. Author Bianca Sommerland covered the story in video form:

Before I end this blog post, Faleena, I have some words for you that are original, not copied from anyone, and straight from the heart:

You are a nasty piece of fucking work, lady.

Nobody was ever copying you. Nobody knows who you are. The most common reaction seen on social media when your name started coming up was, “Who?” followed by “Who does she think she is?” We had to ask these things because we legitimately had no clue you existed. But boy howdy, do you exist now. See, you’re not famous, but you’re infamous. You probably thought all publicity was good publicity. That is not the case if the publicity you’re getting is just making people become more and more furious and fed up with you. I haven’t seen anyone say they planned to read your really interesting and unique books as a result of your Highlander mentality. I’ve seen a lot say the opposite.

You have burned a bridge the size of the Mighty Mac, Faleena. Not just burned. You blew a bridge up, but you didn’t quite get off it in time and you’ve blasted yourself into the ravine below. No one is going to invite you to their signings. No one is going to include you in their anthologies. If you have the courage to show your face at an industry event, you’re going to find yourself sitting alone at the bar. You might get a drink thrown in your face, soap opera style. I hope someone gets a photo.

Professional organizations will likely not allow you to join. Traditional publishers aren’t going to waste their time on your books now that you’ve shown your entire ass. You have poisoned yourself with your own bile.

I know you said in that blog post:

We indies work in the grit and grime of the biz, so we see more than an author who is protected by a big publishing house, one that does all that grit/grime work for them.

But I wouldn’t trade positions with a trade-pub author.

I have never submitted to a publisher, nor do I want to. Even when judgmental friends or people in the industry assume that if you self-pub, you must have been rejected.

Um…how about if you never sought approval in the first place, dinosaurs?

Readers are an Indies only judges. If they don’t like our books, they don’t buy them. And they happily leave one-star reviews telling you what a pile of horse manure it is.

Give me that over, “Please sir, will you publish my manuscript?” any day of the week.

but no, sweetie. You’re not indie because you’re above it all. You’re indie because you’re too insecure to try. You’re afraid that you’ll be rejected. You’re afraid you can’t hack it when compared to other authors. And that’s why you’re trying to sabotage them. Because you’re afraid that you’re not good enough to succeed on your own merit.

You’re not, by the way. I picked up one of your books. Congrats on being the third overall Kindle return I’ve ever made. Jesus, you’re not even good enough to be first at that. How embarrassing for you.

So, you think if other authors can’t afford to publish, if they can’t promote their books, if you hit them where it hurts, you’ll be the only one out there. You think you’ll get their readers. You won’t. And you won’t ever receive support from anyone in the community. Ever. You’re pretty much universally hated, so…there’s the door. Bye-bye. You can’t sit with us.

PS: your “cocky” series debuted a year after Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Bastard became a huge hit. So, who’s copying who, you busted ass bitch?