Pseudonymity

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Pseudonym means, literally, fake name. Theodor Geisel had three. Lawrence Block had six. At last count Dean Koontz had eleven. Sam Clemens only used one, but then, he only needed one. Same thing with Stephen King.

There are a lot of reasons why a writer would choose to use a pen name.

Career complications. It might be problematic for a doctor or lawyer to write erotica, or even horror. If a writer’s work might cause complications in other aspects of his or her “real” life, they might choose to use a pen name. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Different genres. If a well-known author of children’s books decided to try something more risky, or horrifying, his or her fan base would probably be quite shocked to discover that they’ve bought something that wasn’t what they expected. If you’re used to seeing an author write about butterflies and kitty cats, you might not be prepared for a gore-soaked tale about legions of the blood-sucking undead. It would make sense to use a different name to publish such a different subject matter.

Mathematician Charles Dodgson wrote fantasy novels under the pen name Lewis Carroll, for example. Those are vastly different topics and is therefore understandable.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about dramatically different genres. If, for example, a self-supposed author who writes smut decides to write smut with a werewolf in it instead of a witch, that does not constitute a different genre. Smut is smut. No other names are needed, unless there are duplicitous intentions at play.

Another author already uses your name. This is what happened in my case. If you Google Jeanne Larson, you’ll find a whole lot of people that aren’t me, including a couple that write books about self-help and sundry other topics. So I use the initials JT with my own, real last name – Larson. Please note, I don’t have dots after the letters. It’s a little thing, but it bugs me when I see people writing it out that way. Especially if they’re trying to insult me in some way. I mean, if you’re going to diss me, at least use the right name to do it with.

Cultural or gender bias. Unfortunately, this does still exist. Some people, consciously or not, will think less of a book if they see a woman’s name on the cover. “They can write children’s books or recipes, but leave literary fiction to the men.”  Rubbish. There’s a whole roster of female writers that would beg to differ. I’m one of them. But I go ahead and use the initials to avoid gender bias. I don’t want gender bias to factor into my work in any way, so I avoid it all together. I don’t hide who I am, and neither do many authors that don’t use their exact names.

Stephen King just wanted to know if people would buy his work without his own name on it. They did. A lot.

So, yes. There are a lot of legitimate reasons that authors do use pen names.

When is it NOT okay to use pen names? The short answer is: When it becomes fraud.

False information. If an author makes up  fake identities, that’s fine, as long as the backstory is the same as the original author’s. It becomes fraud when someone not only makes up fake names, but also creates false backs-stories for them. When they create information that doesn’t exist or gives an alternym attributes or achievements they have not earned and do not have in reality, it’s not okay.

It’s fraud if an author gives a pen name experiences or areas of expertise which s/he does not possess. Someone who has not earned a degree in criminal justice can’t claim that a pen name has. An author that hasn’t learned to speak French cannot claim that an alt is a French scholar. A person who isn’t gay, a different ethnicity, older, younger, or abused in any way can not make claims of these characteristics for an alt. When this happens, it’s not only fraud, it’s offensive.

One example is an author who claims that she or one of her alts has been domestically abused in order to seem sympathetic to a reading audience, or even to raise money for a domestic abuse charity – only to keep the funds for herself. That’s not just criminal, it’s an insult to any real woman that has, in fact, been a victim of domestic abuse.

Don’t do it.

Identity theft. Tabetha (Hoover) Jones writes under multiple identities. She claims that it’s because each one of them represents different parts of her personality. That’s not okay. Pen names are about writing, not about dissociative personality disorders. If the alts exist so that each can write in different genres, that’s fine, like I said before. But when they’re all different names that write the exact same crap, then it’s very not okay. Especially if one of those alts is given the name of another, existing author.

One of Tabetha’s Alts is Ivy Sinclair. That would be fine and dandy, but there’s already an established author named Ivy Sinclair. Using the same name could (and probably should) get Tabetha sued by the existing author. Especially if the real Ivy Sinclair doesn’t write smut, and doesn’t want her name associated with that genre.

There’s a whole list of reasons an author makes up fake names. Their own name might be so tarnished, for example, that to use it would negatively impact upon their ability to generate sales. Their reputation precedes them.

To avoid Taxes.

To avoid breach of contract.

To avoid defamation suits.

Deceit in general.

To sum it up: if you see an author that uses one or more pen names, it’s entirely possible that it’s an innocent, professional act. If, however, you see someone that’s got different names under which they make fake claims, or display underhanded motives of any kind (including the use of a name another author already uses), chances are that that it’s not innocent or professional at all.

Don’t be that person. Keep it legit. Do your homework. Be professional.

Guest post

By Sabrina Samples

When I was with Tabetha, I was an eager new writer excited about a publisher taking interest in my work. I was excited about all of the potential things I would be able to do through my writing. But then that all fell to shit.

I then went on to work with Jacqueline who had me believing owning a company would make my writing better. I would be able to get all of my books out there along with filling my need to help the other struggling authors like I used to. But that went to shit also. I spent three years of my life trying to find my place in a writing world that kept wanting to tear me down, make me feel like I was just another author who couldn’t get anywhere in life because no one cares about my writing.

During the course of the three years where I was with either Tabetha or Jacqueline, I struggled a lot with depression and toward the end of my contact with either of them, I tried to kill myself. This is not something I have told many people. I was in the center of so much drama, so many lies, and I just couldn’t handle the fact that not only was I duped once but twice by people who claimed to be my friend and who said they loved my writing.

But that is not what this post is about. This post is about what has happened in my life since I broke all ties with both of these ladies.

Right after I blocked the last of everyone who was attacking me (on behalf of Jacqueline and the lies she told about me) I was at the lowest point of my life. Every day was a struggle to wake up and get out of bed. But I did it. I gave up on writing for a while because I just didn’t have the energy to put words to paper and hear how people loved my writing again while they stabbed me in the back. I was that way for almost two months.

But then one day I woke up and realized I am only hurting myself by keeping my words to myself. So from there I started writing more and I self published for a few months. Then I heard about this really great publisher. Of course I was hesitant at first, but I didn’t want to walk away from everything I have been working to do. So I did weeks of research, talking to current and past authors with them. Once I felt comfortable enough, I submitted and was accepted within a week.

Since I have signed with my current publisher, I now have three books out, two coming out in the next few months and I am currently working on my sixth book.

To make things even better in my life, I recently went to my first signing and I ended up selling all of the books I took with me! I am in a better spot now than I was a year ago. I no longer struggle to wake up every day, I no longer cry myself to sleep at night and I no longer have to worry about who I am going to have to defend myself against today. I am mentally and physically stronger than I have been since the first day I met Tabetha Jones and my life fell into the spiral of chaos.

So please do not take this post as a way of me attacking Tabetha or Jacqueline. This is my way of saying there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will have something better if you walk away from it all. I am living, breathing proof of that.

Meetup Mayhem

First, Tabetha Jones proudly proclaimed that she was part of a model meetup set up by Surreal Studios in Dallas – gushing that she’d spent two hours getting photographed by a wonderful photographer who wants to do a one on one shoot with her next weekend.
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Then pictures from the model meetup showed up on the Phoenix Effect FB page, with Tab’s sister Dee as the photographer.

Tab hastened to insist that photographers Amy Browning and “Mark” were there, too, and that it’s Mark that wants to do a shoot with her one on one. She refuses to give out Mark’s last name, insisting that it’ll be on the album when she posts it. Since, you know, photographers are SO shy about putting their names out there. It’s not like they want their names advertized to try to drum up business or anything.
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The name Dewayne Davenport leaps to mind. He’s the photographer that Tabetha convinced Salena they were doing these shoots for, even though it was Dee snapping the pictures. Dewayne was calling the shots, telling Tab what kinds of pictures he wanted Dee to take of Salena and Tabetha. Never showing up in person, nothing but a voice on the phone. Seriously?

And then, when Salena backed out, realizing that she’d been lied to, it was Dewayne that Salena owed money to for backing out of a contract with Sanctuary magazine, I think it was. That’s when Bo became involved. You know, the leg-breaker that Tab said (in front of her daughter!) was going to put a bullet in mommy’s brain unless Salena paid up. Bo had paid Dewayne off, you see, and now he wanted his money back.

Neither Dewayne Davenport or Bo ever existed. They were fictional characters Tab fabricated out of thin air to scam Salena. Sanctuary magazine does have contracts, sure. But no money changes hands. Salena didn’t owe a dime. Here’s Sanctuary’s website. Read the terms for yourself.

So now we have these two other photographers, Amy Browning and “Mark” something, who appeared at this model meetup event, who spent HOURS taking photos of Tab and these lovely models, but whose photos appear nowhere. The only photos I can find are taken by Dee and appear only on her FB – and Tab’s page. I don’t see them associated online in any way with Surreal Studios, and I don’t see any of the girls’ names posted anywhere. Just Tabetha and Dee.

I also don’t see any photographer named Amy Browning. The Amy Browning she steered me at works at a medical center in Dallas. There’s not a single thing about photography anywhere on her page. So, your guess is as good as mine how a research coordinator at a medical facility in Denver showed up in a muddy river bank somewhere in Backwater Texas with Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber as a photographer.

I’ve got to tell you, I feel bad for those girls. In half of the photos, they look like they’re perplexed, looking for professional direction that they’re not getting, or they’re looking at somebody off camera like “You want me to do what?” In the rest, it looks like Tab’s taking a dump in the river. In others, classy as ever, Tab had to be edited because she let her nipples show and she knows they’d be reported. Those two are the height of unprofessionalism, and I feel bad for those girls that got caught up with it. I’m guessing we won’t see any future shoots from those two with those lovely ladies in it. I’m betting they’ve learned their lesson. Just like all of the other professional models they’ve worked with once or twice, who have learned their lesson and moved on.

We’ll wait and see what materializes of this “body positivity” shoot with the mysterious “Mark” next weekend, or what new wonders Tab will spin out of thin air to try to portray herself as this sought-after supermodel on the verge of breaking into the world’s stage. Until then, all we can do is shake our heads at the folly.

Kinship and Tab 101

Guest post by Cindy Franks White:

Ok y’all. I need to fill you in on some things. After finding out that Jackie was closing Kinship, I requested my book thongs back. They were property that belonged to me. I sent them to her as promotional materials to go along with my book. If Kinship was no more, I wanted them back. They were mine, after all.

Keep in mind that I have EVERY text, private message AND phone call. She’s aware of that. So when I say she told me something, I can back it up, and she knows it.

Instead of my book thongs, I got texts full of excuses of money not in the bank, marital issues, including her telling me that her husband threw her and her daughter out of the house so she was homeless.

OK, I texted her Thursday evening, and she said she was at the hospital getting an iv transfusion for a medical condition. Health comes first, so I waited a few days and texted again to check up on her.

This time, she said she was in the hospital, this time for yet another health problem. I told her I understand and just would appreciate knowing what to count on.

A few hours later, I got a text, a heads up if you will. She claimed to have attempted suicide by way of an overdose. If she was after sympathy, she didn’t get it from me. I informed her just how stupid and selfish she was to try and kill herself when she has a daughter that needs her.

But, as the evening went on and I kept texting to check up on her, things weren’t adding up. For example, she was supposed to be in the hospital after trying to commit suicide, yet she had her phone and was active on Facebook.

Today, I called her local police and explained that she has items of mine in her possession that she refuses to return to me. I also told them about how she was supposed to be in the hospital after a suicide attempt. The officer knows the family, so they called her house to find out what was going on. You know, the house she said that she’d been thrown out of. They called the house landline, not her cell. And low and behold, guess who answered.
Yup.

She IS NOT in the hospital as she claimed. And she has not been thrown out of the house.

After talking to her, the officer called me back. He confirmed that she is at the house, not in the hospital. She told him that she had my book thongs and assured him that they would be in the mail certified Monday.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Not even 30 minutes from my last conversation with the officer, I got a call from a family member of Jackie’s. This person was mad at me at first for calling the police and didn’t mind saying so. But after hearing my side of the story, including the fact that I have everything either in writing or recorded calls, that person’s demeanor changed and they were willing to listen.

This person told me that EVERYTHING concerning Kinship Press WAS THROWN AWAY. MONTHS ago. All my book thongs are gone, long since..

And, dear authors, so are all of your writings. GONE. There is nothing left anymore. So if Jackie has been promising to help you, or if you’ve been told that your work is supposed to come out in a book, she has been lying to you. It was thrown in the trash months ago, external hard drives, EVERYTHING. She has been lying to you. She has been lying to me. She lied to the officer that contacted her today. She has been lying PERIOD.

She has told me many times that she would to prove that she valued my “friendship”. And, dope that I am, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt when she told me all of this was going on. You’d think I would have learned after being lied to so badly by Tabetha, but no. Jackie was supposed to by my real friend, unlike Tab who only ever lied about it. And I believed her.

So if everything including my book thongs was thrown away months ago, how the hell is she going to put them in the mail to me on Monday?

As I have previously stated, I did owe her for helping me out with van repairs. I was more than willing to accept the come back that I owed her. When this person asked me about that, I explained that Jackie was supposed to keep all of the royalties from publishing my book until she was repaid for the van. Only then would I start accepting royalties for my work. That was the agreement. By not publishing my book, Jackie was in breach of our agreement.

In the background (again, at the house she had told me she was thrown out of), I heard Jackie saying over and over that she was sorry.

Since I owed Jackie for the van, and she owed me property that was long since thrown away, I agreed to call it even. I no longer owe Jackie a dime. She, however owes me a few explanations. And she owes YOU an explanation, too, if you’re one of the authors she says she’s helping, or promising to publish.

If you need proof of all of this, just ask me. I can provide it, and she knows it.

Who else do we know that avoids questions by telling sob stories about her health and lies through her teeth, including fake suicide attempts? Yeah that’s right. Tabetha Jones. It looks like Jackie tears all kinds of pages out of Tabetha’s book to use herself.

Kinship press is gone, has been gone for months. And if Jackie has said anything different, if you’ve heard those sob stories about her being homeless or in the hospital, SHE IS LYING TO YOU. Just like you know who.

Personal V Professional

I just want to take a quick minute to remind you about the difference between a personal relationship and a professional one, especially when it comes to publishing.

I’ve said it many times: it’s important to have a good working relationship with your publisher, big or small. But that’s exactly what it should be: a WORKING relationship. It’s important to communicate well with your publisher when it comes to your book. But it’s your work you should be talking about.

Most importantly, it’s your work that your publisher should be talking to you about.

When you ask your publisher a question about your work, the answer you get should be ABOUT YOUR WORK. Not about what kind of day your publisher had. Not about his or her health. Not about personal ailments. Not about how broke he or she is. Not about anything but your work. Professionalism is the word of the day, kids.

If you ask your publisher about your publication date, that’s what they should tell you,not some tale about your publisher suffering from a vaginal hemorrhage (that probably didn’t happen), or her hysterectomy (twice!).

If you ask your publisher about your royalties, that’s what the answer should be about, not how he or she is so stressed out that she (or her sister) tried to commit suicide (only to find later that it was a lie).

I could go through a very long list of diversionary topics and tactics, old and new. There are a million of ’em, with new ones being added all the time. But I’ll keep it simple. If your publisher uses personal troubles to make excuses instead of answering professional questions, RUN. That is not how a professional acts.

You’re an author. You want a publisher that’s going to represent your work professionally and well. Not a new bestest buddy that gives you excuses instead of results.  Ask yourself honestly. When Stephen King talks to his publisher, do you think he gets excuses about how his publisher had cramps and couldn’t get it done that day? If Dean Koontz or JK Rowling got fed a tall tale about some faked suicide bid or some other ridiculous lie about personal problems, how long do you think that would continue to be their publisher? About zero seconds. Not because they’re so famous, but because they’re professionals. So are you. Treat yourself like one. Treat your work like professional work, because that’s what it is.

If you come across a publisher who says that they’re better because they'”break the mold” that’s your first hint that they’re not the professional company you need to represent your work. There’s a way that it’s done for a reason. It’s a pattern that works. Just ask the people it works for.

Anybody that tells you right out of the gate that there’s some drama involved with themselves or their company ON ANY LEVEL, that’s a huge warning flag. You want professional results, not drama. Quite probably, there’s a lot more to the situation than you’re being led to believe. If a publisher says “Don’t read that blog!” that’s probably the first thing you should do.

It’s simple, folks. Keep it professional. If you want a new best friend, buy a dog. If you want drama, buy a cat at the same time. Turn ’em loose and watch the fun. Rent a rom-com. Strike up a political debate on Facebook.

If you want you book published, hire professionals.
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Consider yourself cautioned.

Photogs

I’ve been meaning for some time to write up a post about photography. It’s an art form that, if done right, can elevate even the mundane to the sublime. It takes a skilled eye and the proper equipment. Most of all, it takes talent. Patience. It takes respect for the subject, the process, and the moment. It takes magic.

These photos come from Una Williams, a wonderful photographer in Great Britain.
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Her work is a delight. With setting and composition, she captures a scene with a patient, artistic eye. I love her photos.

These photographs are from Ben and Priscilla photography. They’re a small, family owned business, and their work is nothing short of amazing. Their pictures are a pleasure.
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I think they said it best on their site: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

This, my friends, is photography done right.