Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Samhain!

Or Halloween. Or New Year's. Or whatever floats your boat.

All Hail the Pumpkin King!

Monday, October 27, 2014

When Writers Pick on Bloggers

What the hell is wrong with writers lately? First, Tina Engler, aka Jaid Black, sues the romance blog Dear Author for libel via Tina's company Ellora's Cave. Then author Kathleen Hale dove into creepy stalker territory because a book blogger gave her a one-star on Goodreads.

For the record, I've gotten a few one-stars. I have commented on a blogger (who I intentionally did not name) here at WWW, but only because she continued to read the Bloodlines series after not liking Blood Magick. My point-of-view was that I wouldn't continue reading someone's work if I didn't particularly like the first book.

But that's me trying to manage my time. I didn't track the blogger down and harass her (and "her" is meant in the generic) for disliking the book. I sure as hell didn't show up on this blogger's doorstep, a la Kathleen Hale. In fact, it's Blogger's opinion, and she has every right to write whatever kind of review she wants about my books or anyone else's.

Just like I have the right to write whatever the hell in my novels and short stories.

But the backlash from the book bloggers has landed.

First is the #notchilled hashtag flying thick and fast on Twitter. Let's face facts. The Ellora's Cave lawsuit is all about getting bloggers to shut up about the company's problems. The harder you try to shut up the public, the more the public talks about you. It's called the Streisand Effect for that very reason. A certain diva with the first name of Barbra tried to squelch coastline photos that included her mansion. No one would have paid any attention to the picture if she hadn't pitched a temper tantrum. So, instead of silencing her critics, Tina's made sure that nearly everyone in the country is talking about her, and not in a positive way.

The latest event starts today--The Blogger Blackout, aka #bloggerblackout on Twitter. Reviewer Tez Miller gives a succinct account of why book bloggers are participating.

You know what? I totally agree with Tez. No blogger should have to worry about lawsuits or their personal safety just for discussing online what they like or don't like about books they read. Or they didn't finish. Or anything else they damn well please.

Here's where advice from the late Jay Lake comes into play. When a writer publishes a book, it's no longer the writer's story. It's the public's. And each member of the public brings her own baggage and peccadillos to the party. It's neither right or wrong. It simply is.

If you're a writer, remember Jay's wise words. Readers have every right to dislike your book and talk about it as they do to like your book and talk about it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Not-So-Funny Saturday

I know I normally post something funny on Saturday nights, but this issue was too important to wait until Monday.

Ellora's Cave models and authors, Axl Goode and Taylor Cole, were on their way home from EC's Romanticon a couple of weeks ago. They also happened to be on the same flight as Amber Vinson, the nurse from Dallas who was diagnosed with ebola shortly after her trip to Akron to visit her family. Both men are now under a mandatory 21-day quarantine because they were sitting within three feet of Ms. Vinson. Since they cannot work their days jobs during this period, they have a fundraiser on GoFundMe to cover their living expenses.

Assuming Axl's account is accurate, his conversations with both the Dallas County Health Department and the Center for Disease Control are disturbing at the least. They're dealing with a virulent, highly contagious and deadly disease. Yet, the delays in responding to the men show what could be construed as a lack or knowledge and/or concern.

This scares me because it shows the same disregard for public safety by government and medical personnel that was shown during the AIDS epidemic in the '80's. Lack of accurate information in how the disease is transmitted and how to prevent transmission was disseminated to the public. Why? Because it was considered a gay disease and who cared about gays. No compassion. No common sense.

That attitude made me sick then, and it still does now. I wanted to believe Thomas Duncan's care, or lack thereof, was born of ignorance, but I have to wonder. If he'd been white and American, instead of a foreign-born black, would he have received an appropriate diagnosis the first time he went to Texas Presbyterian's ER?

Because, yes, Mr. Duncan was sent home by the staff while he was in the early throes of an ebola infection. He could have contaminated a large number of people, not just two of his nurses after he was re-admitted. And right now, there's no answers of how the nurses became infected. Spokesmen for Texas Presbyterian swear up-and-down the ladies followed infectious care protocols. But this is the same hospital that's looking at huge liability for the original ER screw-up.

So there's a lot of rumors and misinformation running around. In fact, as I paid our bill at one of the local Bob Evans' restaurants in Ohio, the cashier noted that I use a Texas debit card, and asked me if I was in the medical profession.

Really? Has it come to where anyone from the Texas medical community is a suspected carrier? Then I reminded myself just why I left rural Ohio twenty-five years ago.

All I can say it's the combination of arrogance and ignorance that will be our downfall despite the common sense displayed by men like Axl and Taylor.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Legal Shake-ups in the Publishing Biz

We're still in the middle of moving into the new place. The new mattress DH and I ordered won't be delivered until next week, so we're still crashing at the in-laws.

Which means I'm finally getting caught up on industry news. Two major events happened on the legal side of the publishing industry.

The first is the lawsuit by Ellora's Cave against blogger Dear Jane was removed to federal court. Both The Passive Guy and romance author/attorney Courtney Milan have more intelligent commentary than I can provide.

I will say that I've been on the receiving end of of a relatively mild rebuke by a federal judge. It was not pleasant. If Tina Engler thinks she'll get away with the antics she's pulled in Summit County, she's sadly mistaken.

The other big news is the resurrected case against Harlequin for its slight of hand with author royalties was certified as a class action suit by the trial judge. By no means does this indicate the screwed-over writers will win their case. But the judge's cert along with Torstar's quick divestiture of Harlequin to HarperCollins doesn't indicate good things ahead for the publisher. Once again, The Passive Guy has posted the legal paperwork for those who enjoy reading court documents.

Catch y'all on the other side of the weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NSFW Cartoon

This is totally inappropriate. Or is it? After all, Jesus is supposed to kick ass when the dead rise from their graves.

Monday, October 20, 2014

When Real Life Gets in the Way

I hear a lot of writers bemoaning their lack of writing time. The ones I feel sympathy for are the ones dealing with some serious life issues. Chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia or MS which limit writers' mobility and energy. Providing care for special needs children or parents nearing the end of their lives. Or maybe they're working two or three jobs in order to put food on the table.

I haven't published anything under my name since last November. It doesn't mean I haven't been writing. Time is grabbed here and there. Standing in line at the post office. Waiting for my take-out order. The last few minutes before bedtime.

Why? Life's been crazy trying to get our house on the market. Then trying to get moved into our new apartment. A lot of things went wrong. A lot of things didn't. But through it all, I kept plugging away. And I honestly can't complain. DH and I made some hard decisions of what would be best for the family.

Sure, it's been slow on the publishing front. But things are looking up. I met with a graphic artist over breakfast this morning about the new logo for Angry Sheep Publishing. I've got a tentative agreement with a formatter for updating the Bloodlines novels and issuing print versions. I've narrowed down my prospective list of artists whose work I like for the new covers.

Now, I have to finish reviewing Zombie Wedding and Blood Sacrifice for typos because I found a couple in Blood Magick, and I need to finish the last four books of the series. Then it's on to the Justice series, and a couple of special projects that I'll tell you more about soon.

You should have a lot of new things to read from me in 2015.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes

If everything went according to plan, we closed on our house Friday, and I'm sleeping off the drive from Houston to Ohio.

Or DH could be dragging me around Toledo right now to furniture shop.

I'll let y'all know on Wednesday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Batman Vs. Zombies

This is so warped that I had to share!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cuteness Factor

Baby animals are adorable. Even dinosaurs!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sexism and Superheroes

Back in the '80's, a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) wrote to Marvel. His letter was published in The Uncanny X-Men. (I can't tell you which issue number because my books are in storage right now.) The gist of his complaint was that he wasn't going to read that particular book anymore because the women of the team had stronger, cooler powers than the men. At the time, the team consisted of Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat, and Rogue.

o_O Okkaaay. Yes, the guys of my generation could be insecure about their masculinity. At the time, I chalked it up to teen angst. I figured they'd grow out of it.

Jump ahead thirty years, and boy, was I wrong. These guys are still trying to exclude women from the hero world. This time, it's clothing for children.

The excuses are still the same. Boys won't wear girl characters. Girls won't wear superhero-related shirts. And they're both right up there with Warner Bros. excuse for not making a Wonder Woman movie.

Guys, you might want to take a look at my closet before you make that pronouncement. Girls like superheros. We like 'em even better if there are women superheroes in the mix.

And I won't just pick on Warner Brothers. Did Disney/Marvel think I wouldn't notice you didn't have one of the founding members of the Avengers in the movie? I'll give them a little credit. They did substitute Wasp with Black Widow instead of another male Avenger. And they are putting the Scarlet Witch in the next movie. Which still puts them a couple of steps above WB. But then drops them another step for not having Gamora with the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy on a t-shirt for little boys.


To the guys my age marketing shit to younger superhero fans: Kids today grew up with Buffy Summers and Katniss Everdeen and Hermione Granger. They'll wear shirts with Black Widow and Gamora. They'll even go see Wonder Woman if you make the movie right.

And by right, I mean having a team like Chris Nolan had for the Dark Knight trilogy. A team that passionately cares about the subject matter. Or is this all a plan to mess up the possibility of a movie because you don't want to see your sons wearing Wonder Woman t-shirts?

Guess what? Your sons are totally secure in their manhood. It's you that has the problem.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Dear Author/Jane Litte Defense Fund

If you're a regular reader of my blog or involved in the erotica community, you should know by now that Tina Engler, in her capacity as the primary owner of Ellora's Cave, Inc., has sued Jennifer Gerrish-Lampe, aka Jane Litte,of the popular blog Dear Author for defamation.

In my opinion, Jennifer didn't say anything that many other bloggers weren't already talking about--the death spiral of EC and its causes. For a company in the perfect position to take advantage of the e-book explosion, EC has failed to capitalize on the market changes. Personally, I think that Engler's desperate to shut up her critics, but going after an attorney wasn't the brightest move. Speaking from experience, if an attorney is sued or threatened with a lawsuit, we have a tendency to laugh and pull out the guns.

However, a lawsuit is still fucking expensive because no attorney in her right mind will represent herself in a case, and she definitely has to pay the other attorney. One nice thing is we generally know who the best in the business is. The second nice thing is the attorney we hire may cut us a deal on her rates. But the costs still mount up, and Jennifer's already put aside $20,000 of her own money to fight this case.

Sad to say, she's going to need a lot more to fight this. Sarah Wendell of the blog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has started a GoFundMe campaign for donations to help with the battle.

I'm going to make a statement that I hope my regular readers and new visitors understand:

I'm all for good snark, and I personally think both Jennifer and Sarah cross from snarkiness to downright meanness too much on their respective turfs, but I will defend to death their right to say whatever opinions they want on their own GODDAMN BLOGS!

Which means I'll be donating to the defense fund after I (hopefully) close on our house this week.

Bloggers, writers and readers shouldn't fear a lawsuit for criticizing publishers in public.

Angry Sheep, signing off

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sheldon as Soft Kitty?

Here's an atypical cat video from the folks at Comediva.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I'm Glad I'm Not Practicing Law Anymore

Was it only last Friday that Ellora's Cave filed suit against Dear Author? *shakes head* This mess makes me singularly glad that I no longer practice law.

On Monday, I posted links to the pertinent sites involved along with other bloggers commenting about the situation. As I said before, I would have handled the pleadings differently than the EC attorney. It's not in the plaintiff's best interest to put a copy of the alleged libelous statements directly into a pleading, especially since:

(1) It's been mentioned in other avenues and outlets that the plaintiff corporation is having financial difficulties. Whether the difficulties are factual or not, such information in the public record can lead to new or additional financial damage to the corporation.

(2) The screen shot of the corporate principle flipping off her critics on Facebook doesn't shine a particularly gracious light on the principle or the corporation. When you request a jury trial, you know your opponent will try to enter that screenshot into evidence, and she'll succeed because you opened the door. Ohio is a rather conservative state, and you're taking an awful chance that screenshot won't backfire.

Yesterday morning, both sides presented a Joint Motion for Continuance of Temporary Restraining Order. What does this mean?

Both sides agreed that their best interests are served by taking more time to collect and present evidence on EC's request for an injunction. They named as October 27, 2014. What's most interesting to me is Section 3 of the Joint Motion:
3.   In the interim, all parties agree that neither they, nor anyone under their direct control, shall post on the Internet any comments specifically and directly related to the factual allegations that form the basis of Ellora Cave’s defamation complaint; further, they agree not to comment online, directly or indirectly, on the allegations that form the basis of the defamation complaint. Nothing herein shall prohibit Plaintiffs from responding to defamatory posts or re-posts made by third parties related to the issues raised in this litigation. 
So what does Tina Engler, the principle of EC, do? She commented over at The Passive Voice.

What exactly was the point of the gag request if you negate it almost entirely in the last sentence of the section? This is not helping your client. You can't stop third parties from discussing the case. By filing it, it's matter of public knowledge, therefore it's hard to stop public discourse on the matter. But by not keeping your client silent, and I'm referring to both sides of this case here, you're potentially giving your opponent ammunition to shoot your case with on the 27th.

In fact, I commented of TPV that I was glad I wasn't Tina's attorney. Occasionally, an attorney will get a client who literally can't keep their mouth shut. I had my fair share when I still practiced law. As I told more than one client, sometimes all I can do is keep the damage to the client to a minimum. That didn't stop some clients from making their problems worse despite my instructions not to talk about their case.

On the other hand, either Jane Litte, the proprietress of Dear Author, understands her silence is necessary as an attorney herself, or she's listening to her counsel. Either way, Jane's been quiet on the matter since she requested witnesses on her blog on September 30th. Such a request is allowed under Section 4 of the Joint Motion.

In conclusion, attorneys CANNOT save you from your own bad decisions. If you've spent a ton of money to hire an attorney, listen to her. If you really, truly believe an attorney is giving you poor advice, you have every right to fire her and hire someone else. But don't blame your attorney when you do something against her advice that hurts you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bankruptcy and Publishing

With all the talk of small publishers, and possibly a few bigger publishers, filing for bankruptcy, I see a lot of misinformation traveling around the writer blogosphere. If your publisher has filed for bankruptcy, or is facing the possibility of filing, this is a time when a writer really, truly needs expert help in the form of a bankruptcy attorney.

Many contracts with American publishers have a clause in them, saying that in the event that the publisher files for, or is forced into, bankruptcy, all rights revert back to the writer. For all intents and purposes, this clause IS ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS!

Why? In the American legal system, contracts are governed by state law. In fact, there's usually another clause in the contract specifying which state's law is the deciding factor. (And it's almost always the publishers' home state.) Bankruptcy law is federal law. And the American system, federal law almost always trumps state law.

What does this mean? It means if your publisher files for bankruptcy, the rights he bought from you become part of the bankruptcy estate and can be sold to satisfy the publisher's debts. Not only that, but if your publisher owes you royalties, those royalties are an unsecured debt which put you the writer near the bottom of the list of people to get paid by the bankruptcy trustee. This isn't anything personal on the part of the trustee. The law ranks creditors in a certain order.

If you think your publisher is in trouble (such as the poor folks who sold rights to Ellora's Cave), you need to talk to an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy NOW. If you wait, you may never see your precious books again.