Reasons that Phoenix Fire Publishing is probably illegal

Registering your business:
Most areas require that a business owner register their business with the city and state. According to the Texas State Attorney General, businesses in Texas are required to register with the Secretary of State at However, there might be areas where that step is not required as long as the business is a sole proprietorship that has no employees.

Doing busines as:
Even if a person lives in an area where it’s not necessary to register a sole proprietorship with the county, city or state, an assumed name certificate, or d.b.a (doing business as) for each name (or deviation of that name) the business will use must be on file with the country clerk in each county where a business premise will be maintained. Has Tabetha Jones has done that? To find out for yourself, contact the Greater Waco chamber of commerce. They’ve got records of every legitimate business operating in the area. Find out for yourself if they have ever heard of Mystic Press, Phoenix Fire Publishing, or Tabetha Jones.

Here’s where it gets tricky.
A sole proprietor who has no employees  is allowed to file taxes using their social security number as their tax ID. No sweat.
If a business has employees, it is necessary for the business to acquire a tax IED and file tax paperwork for each and every employee so that all taxes can be withheld from the employee and those taxes can be paid to the government, and so that a W2 can be issued to each employee so that he or she can then file an income tax return. Taxes are Federal. It doesn’t matter what the city or state requires. There’s no getting around tax law.
And, if there is more than one person that owns any part of the company, it is no longer a sole proprietorship. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unrelated business partner or members of an owner’s family. It is a partnership and must be registered with the city, state and IRS. It must also have a Federal tax IED. If not, it doesn’t exist as a legal entity.

Phoenix Fire Publishing has half a dozen imprints for publishing different genres. That’s well and good, as long as each imprint exists as a separate entity and is registered as “Doing business as” for identification purposes.

Mystic Press
Anybody that’s been around for any length of time knows that Tabetha Jones took over Mystic Press, then closed it down and subsequently opened Phoenix Fire Publishing. She changed all the accounts, she insists.
Here’s a checklist from the IRS of what the owner of a company must do when he or she closes down. Feel free to ask yourself if Tabetha Jones did a single one of them. For that matter, if you’re a former Mysitc Press or current Phoenix Fire author, feel free to ask her. If you are or were signed with her, it’s not just her business we’re talking about. It’s yours, too. Don’t be shy. Ask questions. A professional will be happy to answer all your questions and provide you with any information you ask for.
As a sole proprietor, she was not required to apply for a new tax ID when she either changed or dissolved her company, but as a partner with her ex, and/or as a company with employees, she was.

Independent contractors:
Tabetha might think she’s clever by not really employing these people she calls staff, rather paying them as independent contractors to try and get around that pesky tax law. But there is a very specific set of rules set forth by the IRS to determine the relationship between an employer and an independent contractor.
For starters, if a boss has any approval in the final result of the job performed, he or she is an employer, no matter what they call it. If a boss relays any specifications about what job will be done or how that job will be done, he or she is an employer. If Tabetha is in a position to approve or disapprove of the work done by an artist or editor for a book published by her company, she is an employer. As a publisher, how can she not have final approval? She can’t. It’s pretty simple.
Either way, Tabetha Jones either employs the people that do editing or artwork for Phoenix Fire publishing, or she uses work that she neither reviews nor approves of. She can’t legally have it both ways.

Also, for someone to legally be considered an independent contractor, he or she must legally self-employed. There’s a set of rules for that, too, including the requirement that that he or she pay specific self-employed taxes. If that doesn’t happen, they are not self-employed, and they are not legally defined as independent contractors. They are an employee and legally required to fill out tax form  Form I-9 and Form W-4 in order to be legally employed for tax purposes. Taxes must be withheld from them to be paid to the government, and they must pay taxes too.

Even if a person does qualify as a self-employed independent contractor, they are still considered a statutory employee of the company if they work at home on material supplied to them (like a manuscript or artwork) that must be returned to the employer (like a publishing company) or a specific person (like an author) named by the employer, or if services are performed on a continuing basis for the same payer. They must be legally registered with the company and the IRS as an employee for tax purposes. And the company must be registered with the city, state and IRS, and must have a tax IED.

And there’s that matter of sole proprietorship. Now that she’s broken up with her ex, she’s well within her legal rights to operate her business as a sole proprietor. But while she was with him, claiming him as co-owner of first Mystic Press then Phoenix Fire publishing, the company was a partnership and not a sole proprietorship. That meant that she was required to license the business with the city, state and IRS as a partnership. Did she? I think we all know the answer to that.

So if you signed a contract with Phoenix Fire during the time that Eric was represented as a co-owner, at any time that the company was represented as having staff without being legally registered with the city, state or IRS, or during a time when the company is or was represented as having imprints without being properly registered with the city, state and IRS, your contract is null and void. It never existed, because the company never legally existed. You can rip it up and walk away, taking your rights with you, without any legal ramifications against you, and without paying any separation fee to have your rights returned to you. If the company never existed legally, your contract never existed legally either. They never held your rights..
You might even consider suing her for fraud and/or illegally misrepresenting her company to the public and to you as a client. And by all means if you’ve been defrauded, file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General for deceptive business practices, pursuant to Texas Penal Code, Section 32.42 – Deceptive Business Practices,
(12)  making a materially false or misleading statement:
(A)  in an advertisement for the purchase or sale of property or service;  or
(B)  otherwise in connection with the purchase or sale of property or service. This is a Class A misdemeanor if the actor commits an offense intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. Sound like anybody we know?

Most importantly, if you’re a current or former author of Tabetha Jones and/or Phoenix Fire Publishing, you might want to demand an audit. It’s your money. You earned it.
If there’s any mishandling of money, the crimes she’s guilty of are exponentially different, both for you as a client and with the Internal Revenue Service. Make no mistake, it’s theft. If you find out that you’ve been stolen from, call the police.

These are just a few things for former and current clients or employees of Tabetha Jones and Phoenix Fire to consider.

If you’re an author looking to do business with a publisher, this should be all the reason you need to keep looking.


10 thoughts on “Reasons that Phoenix Fire Publishing is probably illegal

  1. To JT Larson/Lepplady:
    I have heard so much about you and your daughter’s issues. As a mother myself I protect my children but you have taken your issue too far. In all your post I took my time to read through before you made me sick with your libel/slander statements. Money from a different company was paid to your daughter for services from another company. You could have left it as a karmic reaction to the new company or person. Instead you have made it your personal mission not your daughters but yours to take down Phoenix Fire Publishing. Having said this I have never seen your daughters point of view or these other so called authors who still want paid. I as a mother would have taken that as a hint that you let it go too far were she has no comment. Or you are fighting her battles for her then is this case she should put a ball gag on you. But not you… If this was an issue to the magnitude you are making it then I as an author would have sued to get my money back and other punitive damages. As this doesn’t just affect Tabetha Jones or Phoenix Fire Publishing but all the author who use her services. Yes, I said that… We use her. As a blogger you might thank you can talk about anyone and anything. You are right you can speak freely of others all you like with your 1st amendment. However the law has been made to keep others safe from your venom and contempt to take them down also.
    Your informant neglected to tell you how she screwed over authors who counted on her word she would do things she never did. Or maybe you were her right hand in it all controlling all the dirty things she did. The bad mouthing with proof I might add of her acts towards other authors and freelance editors. When I came to Phoenix I had self-published my first book. My second book I found Phoenix Rising. With them I have a family which you have defaced and reamed for being a family. I like talking to someone on the phone, I like talking with other authors on the phone to bounce ideas off of, to talk me out of writer’s block, to just be there as I am for them for anything. Tabetha was upfront about her old problem’s that came with the new company. We were all told of you and your ramblings. But you were never told of us.
    We are like you, we feel, be bleed and we can be hurt. With your actions you haven’t just hurt a friend, a boss, or relative. Your have hurt our family. My children and the mouths I have to feed. This is my living you are messing with. We are like a domino effect JT. When one falls we all do. Maybe you forgot this as you rant and rave or decide how you will stick it to Tabetha. Her business is her lively hood also so as you attach her take a long hard look at her growing authors. If she was as bad as she is then tell me why would she make me and another author 500 pieces of swag a piece for us? Mind you this is for a convention we will be representing Phoenix Rising /Fire at.
    I have control JT. Control of my book, my artwork, my trailer, my swag and who can trash me as I write allowing Tabetha and her freelance editors and artist to do what I need for ME…..
    Your rat took away from me and mine when she delayed my release by weeks… I haven’t bashed her or called her out, no as an adult I let the sleeping dog lie. Little did I know that dog turned into a rat helping you find more fabrications to injure careers? That in the libel clause for bloggers as I read is illegal. Here I will run down a little for you to do your homework.
    Generally, defamation is a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice. State laws often define defamation in specific ways. Libel is a written defamation; slander is a spoken defamation
    What are the elements of a defamation claim?
    The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are:
    • a publication to one other than the person defamed;
    • a false statement of fact;
    • that is understood as
    • a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and
    • b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff.
    • If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice.
    I believe JT that you fall under that in more than one way. But here is the clincher. Your malice has inadvertently (carelessly) affected all said clients of Phoenix Fire/ rising Publishing. You have been our warning as you so nicely put out one for others to stay away from the business. Hence your malice for your daughter’s money refund that had been rectified, but no, again your vendetta is still strong making others pay. So not just one suit would go against you but one for each author who has or will suffer from your malice and damage to one reputation.
    You also need to read about a ‘fair and true report’. As you did with Tabetha’s response to you on your blog. You deviated too far producing a different effect on the readers.
    ‘Libel Per Se’ A statement that falsely:
    • Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime;
    • Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
    • Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects that the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
    • Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity.
    We also have a false light claim and Trade libel:
    False light is when others are placed in false light. It can be factual but creates a false impression about the person.
    Trade libel is defamation against the goods or services of a company or business.

    I will let you go and ponder on all your actions towards my family/Phoenix Fire/Rising Publishing and towards me as an author whom uses this company to do my business to provide for my family.

    • Yes, Katrina. I got this message when you sent it to my inbox on Facebook.

      I could pick apart your lengthy comment piece by piece, but I really am a busy girl, so I’ll just make some general observations.

      First, you should be queasy. Every author at Phoenix Fire should be. Every person she employs should be. The publishing company you’re all so devoted to is more likely than not illegal, and is therefore making money from your work that they’re not entitled to. That should make you not only queasy, but outraged. At them for ripping you off. If it doesn’t, one can only imagine why.

      You shoot your own rambling definition of defamation down in flames with the very first sentence.
      Defamation is a false statement.
      Same thing with Libel. It must be false.
      Not a single thing I’ve said about Tabetha is false. Whether she likes it or not, whether her family, her authors or her dog like it or not, every single word that’s been said about her is true. You and she can bluster away about suing over it, but the simple truth is that she can’t. Well, she could TRY, but she’d never win. And she knows it. That’s why in all the years that she claims to have suffered under the weight of “lies” and “venom” of past authors she’s ripped off, she’s never once brought a law suit against anybody. She simply can’t. All she can do is manufacture smokescreens and snowstorms to try to get newer authors and employees to believe that she’s the poor, put-upon victim, dragging out her abusive past and sick relatives for sympathy. Anybody that falls for it, thinks she’s the greatest thing ever and trust her with the future of not only their literary career but the future of their families, pets and household plants, good for them. It’s their decision to make. But it won’t be for lack of information.
      I’m not out to destroy Tabetha Jones or her company. All I want to do is put information out there so that authors that want to be taken seriously within the literary world can make an educated decision about who to sign with.

      One other comment you made caught my attention. You said that you like to hang out on the phone with your “Boss Lady” and other authors to bounce ideas off of each other. If those are marketing ideas, that’s great. But if you’re talking about literary ideas, that’s astoundingly unprofessional. A real, professional publisher would not encourage or allow it. That kind of brainstorming leaves any and all of you wide open to allegations of plagiarism. Family or not, you should each do your own writing.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you fit in so well with Tabetha. With phrases like “bad mouthing,” “venom,” sentence structure, such importance placed on swag, the insistence that Phoenix Fire is “family,” defense of “Boss Lady” more than yourself and threats of legal action, as well as many more examples sprinkled throughout your comment, you sound just like her.

  2. Ma’am? I think it’s a sad life you live…you’re super obsessed with Tabetha! Maybe your time can be better spent actually helping people with correct information. Yes, I am apart of the Phoenix Fire family, I wouldn’t want to work with a company that didn’t feel as close and as tight knit as we are. I have used both the Phoenix Rising services and have a Traditional contract with Phoenix Fire. I have creative rights on EVERYTHING that has my name attached to it….yes I use a Pen Name, for personal reasons that are really no ones business. I feel you have an opportunity to voice your opinion and that’s a great platform to have, but you should use that platform for good! I will not comment on your past issues with Tabs, those are yours to deal with, but COME ON!! Move on! Use your voice to make a difference not bring down a person and group of people based on your hatred! I knew of your vendetta against Tabetha when I first signed on…but because its clearly obvious your accusations are based on hate, I decided to make the decision on my own…What a great decision I made joining Tabs and her company!

    You might want to pick apart my comment and that’s fine…but know that your obsession with Tabetha Jones is only making you look sad and pathetic! Feel free to email me or chat with me on Facebook and I can help you with techniques on how to let go of all that hate!!

    Have a great day!!

    ~Anna Lynn~

    • Oh, look. Another one that sent me the same private message on FB as well as commenting here. I guess this is the “one for all, all for one” mentality from Phoenix Fire authors (real or imagined).
      I hope I’m not supposed to be intimidated, because that’s just not going to happen. If anything, I’m just shaking my head and laughing at the folly. What she/they think is a show of solidarity just looks like like a gaggle of junior high school kids ganging up on the playground.
      What it doesn’t look like is anything even remotely professional. Just one more display showing any real author that wants to be taken seriously in the publishing industry why they should not sign with such an unprofessional, juvenile “publisher.”

      Far from being impressive or intimidating, all of this just proves two things:
      1) Who the bully really is.
      2) That Tabetha can’t fight her own battles.
      But we already knew both of those things, didn’t we?

  3. So you are implying that I put Katrina and Anna up to posting on your blog? Now tell me who is delusional? I guess you haven’t bothered checking or rather stalking my blogs because it is not only them but several others.

    I think you didn’t expect ppl to have the knowledge to back up their own points of view. And I think you also are finally realizing that all the slanderous lies you have spoken are catching up to you.

    Your number is up and it shocks you that I have an entire team of authors that are willing on their own to fight for what they believe in.

    Want to talk about cowardly actions? Is that why you blocked and hid all the comments on your post conversations with tabetha? Which is fine I have it all saved in my email for proof.

    I see the hatred that Anna spoke of runs deep and I also see your daughter hasn’t said a word.

    I held up my end of the deal you were the one that decided to make this a personal vendetta when you yourself gave your word it was over.

    Now tell me who is the liar?

    • My word, you are a broken record, aren’t you?

      Is that what you’re telling people? That I’ve hidden comments? What a joke. Well let’s see those screen caps. I haven’t hidden a thing. That’s just another lie. I put a stop to comments on that post because all you do is repeat yourself, just like you’re doing here.

      But, okay. Comments aren’t locked on this post. Let’s see whatever damning comments you claim I’ve hidden because, out of all the inane comments you’ve made on every other post that isn’t locked, THOSE must certainly be the ones that finally vindicate you.

      Go ahead. Post away.

      Truth is that you’re scrambling for for any straw you think might keep you afloat.

      Hate’s got nothing to do with it. I don’t care about you one way or the other. But I do care if authors are being misrepresented. So if there’s an illegal publishing company that’s ripping people off, I’m going to expose it. Call it a public service.

      No. I have no idea what’s going on at your blog. I don’t “stalk” you the way you claim. I don’t even know that you post anything unless somebody tells me. Or unless you invite me to come and look, like you did the other day in PM. But you just can’t seem to stay away from mine, can you. Who’s the troll? Yep. You.

      Who’s the liar? You. As always.

      • They must all have had the same unqualified English teacher since they have the exact same “writing style” – does tabby really think anybody falls for her alternative personas?
        Did you ever read a few pages of one of her “books”? I did and it’s exactly like what she writes here or on her blog, zero editing, scatty spelling, incredible amounts of grammatical errors, flat characters… etc!
        I’d be ashamed to present that as a rough draft and she goes off and publishes that nonsense AND has the audacity to want money for her works!

  4. Oh Sonja I’m sure good ole lepp did her Ip tracking to ensure it was real . Ppl posting and not me. She seems to believe I have time to be 20 different ppl when in all reality she seriously needs mental help.

    • Like you don’t have a whole handful of aliases that you fly under. Please, if anybody needs mental help, it’s you, for all those multiple personalities you drag around.

  5. Update:

    As of June, 2016, Tabetha Jones has no publishing companies in operation that we know about, so our investigation of her has been halted. The point of examining her in the first place was to advocate for authors that reported no royalties and other related abuse from her. If she’s not involved with publishing anymore, that job’s done.

    The posts about her remain in public view in case she starts a new one in the future.

    If more publishing concerns about Tabetha Jones (Willis, Farmer Hoover, Saulters, etc) – AKA Zooey Sweete, Emerald Rai Fleurs, et al – arise in the future, we will post relevant updates. But for now, we’re focusing on happier topics.


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