No sign of process servers on my doorstep yet, but I’m keeping an eye out for ‘em.
In their own words…
“Following layoffs from Ellora’s Cave, a group of editors has been left with too much time on their hands and not enough demand for their red pens.
Well, we believe that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
We are fiction editors with years of professional experience in a variety of genres, who have had the great good fortune to work with some incredibly talented authors. We would love to provide editorial services for your self-publishing ventures, or for stories that are still looking for a loving forever home. We believe strongly in the importance of author/editor relationships, high editorial standards, honest and open communication, fair pricing, and transparency.
We also have a great relationship with some outrageously talented freelance cover artists.
You can reach any or all of us at LifeGivesYouLemons.email@example.com to discuss what you need and how we can help you.”
Good deal, ladies – in fact, I’ve got a work in progress that’ll be landing on your desks shortly!
You should also check out the awesome #notchilled hashtag on Twitter!
Carolyn Jewel, a survivor of the infamous Dorchester meltdown, gives authors caught in this Flush Pile some sage advice. Go read the whole thing.
Also, author Deirdre Soirse Moen is hosting an Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support thread on her blog. If you’re an EC author, editor or artist who hasn’t been paid, be sure to contact her to be added to her list of those who’ve stood up to be counted in this dispute. (And scroll down for some sweet promotional opportunities various other blogs are offering ex-EC authors.)
Yup, it’s come to that, folks. I no longer consider myself an Ellora’s Cave author.
Which makes me ten kinds of sad. I remember the days when I was proud to say I was published by them. I remember the happy, exciting times when I’d first signed with them, and all the other EC authors on Twitter and Facebook gathered around to congratulate me. It was like I’d just pledged the coolest sorority ever!
But now I am now a proud ex-EC author. The three books of mine they’re still holding hostage – The First Real Thing, Appearing Nightly & A Fool for You – I’ll continue to give away to anyone who emails me, but if the rights should get sold off to another publisher once EC files bankruptcy, I will not lift a finger to promote them. Most likely, I’ll lose control of them forever. I’m just grateful it’s only three books, not twenty or thirty.
OTOH, we might get lucky. Didn’t Dorchester sell off some of their authors’ contracts to Avon? This could spell good news for Laurann Dohner and the rest of EC’s big sellers, but piddly little nobody’s like me (whom they quoted a lousy $2K extortion fee to “buy back” my books) will probably end up on the scrap heap.
Last week I was all caught up in a blazing-hot rage about this, but now I’m just tired and disgusted. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why EC’s chosen to go this route. Flipping off people you owe money to and suing book bloggers is simply insane. Didn’t their lawyers tell them that? Or are TPTB at EC just too stubborn to listen?
Shit, now I’m getting mad again. Breathe, Cat, breathe…
I told myself today I wasn’t going to do this anymore – the incessant Ellora’s Cave protest blogging and nail-chewing’s laid waste to my productivity this week – but what I just read on Jennifer Armintrout’s blog made me throw up in my mouth a little.
I’d never even heard of Jamie McGuire before today (she’s apparently a YA author), but Jesus, how much of an asshole do you have to be to publicly gloat over one of Romancelandia’s most prominent and well-respected book blogs getting sued?
Dear Author’s dealt me a couple of smackdowns in the past. Sure, they hurt, but that was then. I don’t have time to waste getting even with everybody who’s ever uttered less than glowing words about my books.
Frankly, I think we should be grateful to Dear Author and Jane Litte. They’re taking one for the team – aka, all of us who’ve been gleefully screwed over by EC. While I still can’t believe Tina and Patty were stupid enough to sue an attorney, I don’t think there’s much danger of this suit progressing beyond discovery – or rather, attempts at discovery. EC’s past behavior in the Brashear and Borders lawsuits pretty much guarantees they won’t be opening their books for anybody.
Then I read Sunita’s essay on Vacuous Minx, and the “chilling effect” went straight to my achy bones. Outing people on the ‘net is despicable, but given EC’s “we can do whatever we want, nyah, nyah” attitude, I’m not surprised they’d stoop so low.
So, EC, if you plan to out me, go right ahead. In fact, I think I’ll just out myself right now.
If anybody cares – my legal name is Nancy Ellen Nivling. I was born February 2, 1960 in Berkeley, California. My parents were Vincent John Bagnasco and Imogene Osborn Bagnasco (both deceased). I attended UC Berkeley, but didn’t graduate. I was married to the same man for fourteen years. (And believe me, once was more than enough. Especially when he keeled over dead from a heart attack and left me $70K in debt to the IRS.) I have a younger sister who hasn’t spoken to me in years.
I currently live in a quiet one-bedroom flat in Monterey, California with my cat, my laptop, a 42-inch plasma screen and four shelves of DVDs. That’s my life, and welcome to it.
So do your worst, EC. I have no day job to lose, no family to embarrass. My cat knows I write gay smut, and he’s made his peace with it, as long as I keep a roof over his furry head and kibble in his bowl.
Or, y’know, you could do what any decent human being would do, and use the money you’re throwing away on this blatantly frivolous lawsuit to pay your authors, editors and artists. Revert your authors’ rights. Get your company in order before it sinks below the waves for good.
From where I sit, it probably won’t take much longer.
In case you’re still confused, that giant “BOOM!” you heard over the internet this afternoon was this lawsuit landing on Jane Litte’s desk.
I’m not a lawyer (although I did work for a law firm back in the early 90’s), but I couldn’t help cracking up at what Tina Engler’s alleging here. Has she forgotten that nothing ever disappears on the internet? How the hell can she claim she didn’t buy that mansion in West Hollywood when she bragged about it all over Facebook – with photos and everything!
(Hey, Tina! The cave floor called – it wants its batshit back.)
And so it begins – Ellora’s Cave’s slow, ignominious slide into bankruptcy and self-destruction. I’ve heard of shooting yourself in the foot, but at this point I have to wonder if Tina and Patty have any toes left.
I also have to wonder how they figure they’re going to win this, when they’ve steadfastly refused to open their books every other time they’ve been called into court – including that old Borders lawsuit EC initiated themselves.
Since EC seems to be smacking down anyone with the temerity to actually tell the truth about them, I fully expect to be dodging process servers next week. Well, I did dare them, after all. Might actually be fun, watching them jump through hoops trying to explain to the judge why they’re obstructing discovery in their own damn lawsuit.
This is all a distraction, by the way. They’re just trying to buy time so they can destroy all the evidence pointing to their malfeasance and/or strip the company of its remaining transferable assets before they skip town for good.
(Hey, Tina – say hi to Roman Polanski when you get to Paris. I’m sure he’ll be impressed to hear how many women you’ve screwed.)
Wouldn’t it be sweet if some of their creditors (namely, all the authors, editors and artists they’ve cheated) got together and forced them into bankruptcy? Wouldn’t it be great to take that power away from them, and shift it back onto our plates?
Oops, did I just say that aloud? My bad! (#sorrynotsorry)
It’s coming, mark my words. Hm. Maybe I should invest in a popcorn machine…
Submitted without further comment – Ellora’s Cave’s brand-spankin’-new lawsuit against Dear Author.
Whoa! The EC thing seems to be snowballing – this morning I discovered my little cyber-protest project’s become a topic of discussion over at the Passive Voice! (Gratitude to Passive Guy for boosting the signal!
They bring up some interesting points about my blogathon/Icon Men giveaway. Technically, yes, I am outside the bounds of the contracts I signed with EC, but the way I see it… if they intend to hold me to the absolute letter of our agreement, they’d damn well better be above reproach in that regard themselves. It’s pretty clear at this point that they’re not.
Someone else suggested that I open a Kickstarter to raise the $2K EC’s demanded for the return of my rights to my Icon Men trilogy. I’m rejecting this suggestion for a couple of reasons:
1) I’d sooner stab myself in the eye with a dull pencil than let EC earn another penny off my work. The percentages on my royalty statements never seemed to add up, and now I know why – that 57.5% EC claims Amazon pays them is utter horseshit. 66% is more like it, which means Tina’s been skimming at least 10% off the top for years. I can only imagine how much she’s stolen from authors who’ve been with the company longer than I have.
Guess now we know where she got the scratch to buy that beach house!
So, no, I won’t be handing her another $2K of my hard earned money, especially not to buy back my own books. In fact, I find the phrase “buy back” laughable – it’s no better than outright extortion. Sorry, Tina, but I don’t negotiate with criminals. Or their wives.
2) I know this will sound stupid and even a bit stodgy, especially in this age of crowd-sourcing, but… I just can’t ask people for money. I’m probably a bit older than most of you who’re reading this (I’ll be 54 in February), and my parents, deficient though they may have been in other areas, managed to pound into my head that begging one’s friends/relatives/exes for money is simply beyond the pale, no matter how bad off you are.
In fact, I’ve had to send back a few unsolicited PayPal payments I’ve received over the past couple of days. While I’m incredibly touched by everyone’s concern, I’m not in such dire straits that I need to accept charity.
Sorry, it’s my strict, stubborn upbringing rearing its head again. I’d feel awful accepting money from people who are no doubt struggling the same way I am. The difference is, I’m single. I live in a relatively comfy one bedroom with my cat, my laptop and a couple shelves of opera DVD’s. I don’t have a partner, kids or a mortgage. I watch TV, listen to music, pet my cat and write. My whole life, right there in a nutshell.
See? I’m really not lying when I say writing my books is the most excitement I get all year!
Seriously, though… I don’t need to rake in fifty grand or more a year – don’t get me wrong, it would be nice, but I can get by on what I’m bringing in now. (Pretty much the same amount I was earning as a bookkeeper/office manager twenty years ago.) I don’t need my readers – or my colleagues or friends – to empty out their pockets to support me, as much as I truly appreciate your willingness to do so.
If you really want to help me and all the other EC authors out, boost the signal. Let readers know about EC’s despicable, underhanded business practices. The best thing we can do is bring this situation to a quick conclusion, and hope that whoever ends up buying EC’s assets will be decent enough to revert rights back to the authors without demanding extortionate payouts in return.
But what I really, really want is…
To see Tina Engler perp-walked out of that mansion she bought with OUR MONEY.
To see her standing next to her grifter, tax-cheat mother, both clad in orange jumpsuits – and if there’s any justice, waist chains and shackles.
To see them both sentenced to prison – Federal prison – for a very long time.
I’ll probably fall asleep tonight with those images flitting through my brain. It’s gonna be SWEET.
Well, there’s a lot you can do. First, help EC’s authors keep their heads above water by buying their non-EC books. Most of us aren’t big best sellers – we need every dime we can get.
Second, help us get the word out. I want this thing to go viral. If we authors can’t shame Tina Engler into treating us like human beings, I’ll settle for driving her out of business and into jail. (Or maybe just back to the trailer park she came from.)
In short, we need you to boost the signal. Post about this on your blogs. Tell all your friends. Alert readers who may not have heard about what’s going on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about readers, they’re unfailingly loyal. I can’t tell you how many wonderful emails I’ve received these last couple of days, most from readers I’d never heard from before, all expressing their encouragement and support.
But we authors are far from the only ones who’d been stiffed here. EC fired all their freelance editors and cover artists last month – in most cases, without paying them for several weeks or even months of work. Artist Dar Albert claims she’s owed thousands, and EC is already using the art she’s produced for them.
Apparently Romanticon is still going ahead next month – $325 for the entire weekend – while EC’s authors and other freelancers remain unpaid. Upon looking at the Romanticon website, it doesn’t appear many authors are attending. I’ll be interested to know how it goes, especially after some disturbing accounts of what went on at past conferences. (Check out a particularly enlightening comment from “Adam,” the spouse of a former EC employee, here.)
Tina Engler and her mother need to be taken down hard. I want to see their unchecked greed catch up with them. I want to see them crash and burn so spectacularly, it’ll throw a scare into any other grifters out there who think they can rip off hard working authors and get away with it. I want to see them both behind bars for the bald-faced fraud they’ve committed.
Think about it – most of Tina’s “Jaid Black” books were written years ago, in the company’s early days. Do you honestly believe all that glorified toilet paper she churned out (her own writing, not anyone else’s) is still generating enough money to maintain that palace in LA? If everything’s really on the up-and-up, why is EC’s accounting system on a stand-alone, non-networked computer only Tina, Patty and their sketchily-trained bookkeeper can access?
I’ve heard rumblings about trying to force an audit, which is a noble idea, but ultimately, I can’t imagine it’ll prove anything but futile. If EC wouldn’t open their books to Chrissy Brashear, a one-time part-owner of the company, why would they open them to us?
I doubt we will know the true scale of Tina and Patty’s malfeasance until the company is shuttered and they’ve either been carted off to jail or fled to a country with no US extradition treaty. Hm. Maybe a phone call to the Ohio Attorney General is in order…
Maybe even to the IRS and FBI as well…
In the meantime, let’s get the word out. Readers, if you didn’t know before, you know it now – EC doesn’t deserve one more stinking penny of your hard earned money. They do, however, deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Wow, just… wow. Way to show contempt for the people who’ve kept your business afloat and financed your extravagant lifestyle. (Although you’d think someone with so much stolen money in the bank could afford some decent plastic surgery.)
And in a new development, according to Dear Author, EC is trying to sell off some of its contracts. No idea whose contracts – I certainly haven’t been contacted – but still, this stinks. Bad enough that they’ve lied and stolen from us – now they’re trying to sell us off like slaves.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this fiasco, it’s run, do not walk, for the nearest exit the second you see “Right of First Refusal” or “Life of Copyright” clauses in a contract. Of course we never think the people we do business with would actually shaft us, but if the contract gives them that right, there’s not much we can do to stop them.
I dislike being treated like a “mark.” Like a sheep to be shorn. I’ve known people like Tina Engler. She’s a con artist. She has nothing but utter contempt for everyone except herself and whoever’s in on this scam with her. People like her aren’t like you and me. They don’t think they should have to work for a living. They think anyone who’s stupid enough to fall for their con deserves what they get.
I’m just… so fucking angry right now, my hands are shaking. (It took me almost a minute to type that last sentence.) This fiasco’s taken up so much space in my mind, I haven’t written anything but emails and blog posts for the last couple of days. I need to step back and let this all go for a bit, but it’s hard. Knowing you’ve been shafted is one thing. Knowing you enabled it is doubly galling.
My previous offer still stands – if you want any or all of my EC-published Icon Men series (The First Real Thing, Appearing Nightly and A Fool for You), shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll hook you up. No compensation required, although if you feel the urge to buy one of my non-EC books, that’s perfectly cool.
I’ve had people emailing me offering to contribute to my “legal fund” – and while I appreciate the sentiment, we’re not quite there yet. Even if the situation does escalate to legal action, I wouldn’t accept money for it. I know it’s common in this age of Kickstarters and Go Fund Me’s, but I grew up in a time when you did not ask people for money, no matter how bad off you were.
It’s a question of dignity. I work for what I earn. And I’m sure as hell not letting some smirking con artist steal my livelihood.
First, I’d like to say a huge “THANK YOU!” to everyone who’s commented and/or emailed with words of encouragement re: the Ellora’s Cave fiasco. It kinda tickles me, though, seeing all your comments about how “brave” and “ballsy” I am to stand up to them. For me, it has nothing to do with bravery – it’s about survival.
I don’t have a “day job” to fall back on. I’m a disabled widow who’s been writing full-time since 2008. I have a back list 30-odd books strong. This year alone I’ve had six releases, with another two, possibly three, in the pipeline. Not as prolific as some, but I’m not exactly lazing around the house all day doing nothing, either. I’m a cranky, bitchy, post-menopausal 54-year-old woman with absolutely no tolerance for people who try to cheat me. Mess with my livelihood, and I will CUT YOU.
Then I remember the people I’m dealing with are not exactly the brightest crayons in the box – well, at least one of them isn’t. What I’d consider a logical, reasoned response to this would probably never occur to them. Still, I can’t see anyone with even a modicum of business sense ever trying to actually sue any of us – us, being, of course, the entire family of EC authors caught in this mess. I don’t care what kind of contract we signed, we do not deserve to be treated like garbage, or to have our grievances ignored because the company thinks they own us.
Besides, EC doesn’t need any more bad publicity. Their founder posting her borderline bi-polar rants (complete with pictures of her flipping her authors off and threats of reporting us to Interpol) on Facebook is pretty much all they need to discredit themselves.
Actually, my dog in this fight isn’t very big, bad or formidable. I only ever sold EC four books, and they returned the rights on one last year – without trying to extort another couple thousand from me on its way out the door. But that was back when EC was operating in a semi-professional way, instead of striking out vindictively against the “h8trs” – basically, anybody who doesn’t kiss Tina and Patty’s butts. I can only imagine how much scarier this situation is for authors who’ve published far more titles with EC than I have.
But guess what, EC? I’m not going away. I’m gonna be a giant inflamed pustule on your greasy, wobbly, cellulite-laden ass-cheek. I will itch and burn and irritate you until I get my books back. Everybody knows you’re headed for bankruptcy – probably involuntarily – but you’re not taking my work with you if I can help it.
I’ll be Romancelandia’s one-woman version of the Guilty Remnant. (Except I refuse to wear white or smoke!) I’ll post here every day if I have to, reminding everyone what scumbags you are.
Hm, I just had a thought. I wonder if the IRS is aware of this situation?
Anyway… I’ve given away nearly 50 sets of the Icon Men trilogy today to you wonderful people. Again, thank you so much for your support and your kind words.
And, in case you missed it the first time…
Rather than see EC profit another penny from my hard work, I am giving away copies of my three Icon Men books (The First Real Thing, Appearing Nightly and A Fool for You) to anyone who asks for them. Email me at: email@example.com and I’ll hook you up.
One of my favorite albums of all time is U2’s Rattle & Hum, which opens with Bono saying, “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back.”
So guess what? I’m doing the same thing.
Since the thieves & grifters at Ellora’s Cave (aka, Tina Engler & her mother, Patricia Marks) refuse to return the rights to my 3 Icon Men books to me, or even treat me with a modicum of basic human respect, I no longer consider myself bound to return the favor.
Previously, I asked people not to buy my Ellora’s Cave books. I have no intention of lining Tina & Patty’s pockets any more than I already have. Make no mistake, fellow EC authors – the A-lister lifestyle Tina’s been living in LA has been financed off the blood, sweat & tears of our hard work. She’s scammed us all, just like that piece of human garbage who ran Silver Publishing.
It’ll probably be a long time before I get the rights back on the Icon Men trilogy, but that doesn’t mean my readers have to suffer along with me.
So, if you’d like any or all of the Icon Men books – The First Real Thing, Appearing Nightly & A Fool for You – email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your choice of file format, and I will send you copies absolutely FREE.
No, I’m not kidding. I would rather give these books away than see EC make another penny’s worth of profit from them.
I’m tired of being told to “sit down, shut up & do what we say or we’ll sue you.”
So go ahead, EC. Sue me. I double dog dare you.