Here’s why you should always research your publisher.

Authors, it’s not just important, it’s imperative that you research your publisher before you sign on the dotted line. If you don’t, you could fall into the clutches of a scam publisher. They’re out there, poised to take advantage of your eagerness to publish, and to exploit your work to their own financial gain.

Like this one did:

Erotica publisher, author charged for manipulating book sales
Erotica publisher Jana Karetko is facing charges after altering her clients’ book sales reports and pocketing the stolen royalties. In some instances, she even inflated or exaggerated book sales to make the authors believe the novels were doing well or becoming bestsellers. Among the many thefts, she’s also accused of falsifying her income on a tax return and not filing returns for two consecutive years.

That sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?

She was arrested and charged Monday with five counts of money laundering, four counts of felony theft, nine counts of computer crime and three counts of tax evasion.

It’s been more than a year since I typed the words ‘Tabetha Jones’ in a blog post. I got sick of her taking up space in my head. I got sick of her headgames, her miserable, crooked treatment of authors. I got sick of HER.

But when I saw that article, it made me think.

I originally blogged about Tabetha because she scammed my kid, among many other authors. To date, my daughter is the only author I know of that Tabetha repaid. There are maybe dozens of others that were scammed through a multitude of bogus companies she owned (but never properly formed) like Mystic Press, Phoenix Fire Publishing, Sweete Sinz, et al, that were lied to, cheated, and have never been repaid. For their sake, I continued blogging about her and her shady dealings, to vindicate them and warn new would-be victims.

I last blogged about Tabetha, saying that as far as I knew, she wasn’t actively trying to publish anybody’s work but her own-but if I heard anything new, I’d report it.

Well, I can’t prove that she’s at it again (if she ever left off), but I have heard whispers about a whole flurry of new names, new bogus companies, new aliases, etc.

I’ve also heard rumors about her claiming that she and her “powers” are to blame for my house burning down last year, “karma” from her angels and guardians. Saying that’s why I don’t blog about her anymore, because I’ve finally been “put in my place” and that I’m too scared of her to dare.

Rubbish.

As if she had the power to do anything but wipe her own ass.

An outlet shorted and lit up the sofa. End of story.

But it’s important to mention because if this is the sort of thing she’s telling people to frighten them into submission, it needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light of day and exposed.

That’s the sort of thing she became infamous for, intimidating her victims, either with exaggerated tales of her imaginary powers, or threats from the men in her life (real or imagined. Like the fake and ill-fated Bo). Getting authors so afraid of her wrath that they wouldn’t dare question the ineptitude of her services or discrepancies in their (lack of) royalties. They just shy away, battered and bruised, some too traumatized to try to publish again.

That’s why, when the first brave souls stepped forward with horror stories, bloggers like Emily Suess, Janrae Frank, Erotic Romance and I spoke up. To warn new authors from falling victim.

I also urged her victims to report her to the authorities. The FBI. The IRS. Her local Attorney General. The District Attorney. That’s how the Colorado crook was caught. A victim turned her in to her local DA. Et voila. Come July 7th, she’ll stand in front of a judge to answer for it.

And now, seeing this article, I wish more of the victims I advocated for would have turned Tabetha in. All evidence indicates that she did exactly the same thing this woman from Colorado did. And if she’d been found guilty earlier on, it would have saved countless others from being victimized. Including any that might be in her clutches now.

If so inclined, I could chase her down and find out what, if any, new schemes she’s using to sucker new victims. But, truth be told, I don’t want to give her that much of my energy. She doesn’t deserve that much of my time. I’ve got a life to live, loved ones to dote on, and my own projects to finish.

There’s another reason I put that woman’s name on my tongue. One of Tabetha’s favorite tactics has historically been to sucker new authors victims in by saying “That was in the past!” “I’ve learned from my mistakes!” “Everybody deserves a second chance!”

No. She hasn’t and they don’t. After so many chances, so many victims left in her destructive wake, enough is enough. If you’ve heard these platitudes from your would-be publisher, run. Seriously. Run.

If you’re an author that’s been unfortunate enough to deal with Tabetha Willis/Saulters/Hoover/Jones/Simpson/whatever, I strongly urge you disentangle yourself from her and protect your work.

Always, ALWAYS research your publisher before you sign any contract. Make sure the company exists. Make sure it’s legit. Check watchdog sites like Writer Beware, Absolute Write water cooler. Google your publisher’s name to see if they show up on warning blogs like this one. If, like Jones (et al), they show up on multiple sites and blogs warning you about dealing with them, it’s probably a good idea to listen.

Ask the hard questions. If you don’t get the right answers, don’t let yourself be snowed. This is your work, your career, your name on the line. Don’t be shy or polite about protecting it.

Now, if it’s okay, I need to go shower to get that foul wretch’s stink off me. And meditate to get her out of my head. Distract myself with something pleasant. Like a cute and fluffy kitten named Brutus.

Ah, that’s better.

Take care, folks.

Depth of character.

I’m watching the James Patterson Master Class videos, and he said something I’ve been saying for YEARS. Don’t just say that someone is scary/cool/mysterious/whatever. That’s just a cliche that doesn’t get you anywhere. And, frankly, it’s lazy. Say WHY they are. Something they say or do that shows how/why they are what you want people to think they are.

Don’t just say “He smiled darkly.” What’s dark about it? What is the dark intention in his soul (if he has one) that makes his intention dark? Or, what is it that whoever sees him smiling makes them think it’s dark? Or scary. Or cool. Or mysterious. Or whatever.

And I don’t just mean to whip out a thesaurus to think of some other cliche word to replace the cliche word you’re trying to get rid of. THINK. If you can’t explore the depths of your characters, you might as well be writing recipes. Zucchini doesn’t need to know why it’s getting cooked. It just sits there waiting to be baked. Or fried. Or whatever..

I do know people with all the depth of a kumquat, but that’s not what you want to put on your pages for your readers. What you want to share, and what they want to see, are characters that are vibrant and alive. Even the undead ones.  Characters with depth, ambition, scope. Qualities that make your readers either love them or hate them. Characteristics that make your readers want to keep turning those pages.

Well, that and a good story.

The point here, is that you need to THINK. Get to know the characters you’re writing about. Have ’em over for tea. Take ’em out for a drive. Throw ’em in with the sharks and see how they handle it. Explore them. Learn them. Watch them. Put a handkerchief in Edna’s pocket as a reminder of her beloved grandmother, which she touches when she’s feeling particularly lonely. Give Skip a weathered hat that he just doesn’t give up for a new one because  1) his favorite team hasn’t won the championship in decades, or 2) he wore that cap when he had a brush with fame and glory when he almost made the majors.

The possibilities are literally endless.

THINK.

Be creative. Be clever. Be a writer.

Now go. Have fun.

Jolly rotten

Just when I didn’t think I could find anybody more disgusting than Amber Heard for accusing Johnny Depp of spousal domestic violence…

Here come allegations of “verbal and physical” child abuse being leveled against Brad Pitt amid divorce proceedings from Angelina Jolie.  He is reportedly under investigation by children’s protective services.

It was bad enough that Heard tried her hardest to make the world think that Johnny Depp was a wife beater. But to accuse a father of abusing his children when by all accounts, including the mother’s, he’s been a wonderful, loving parent – that’s lower than low.

What the fuck is wrong with these women? Isn’t it enough that they’re rich, famous and beautiful? Are they so ugly and broken on the inside that they have to lash out with unfounded allegations at these men that loved them? I can’t even imagine being so insecure that I’d have to resort to something so repulsive and immature.

No matter how old these women are, this smacks of such staggering immaturity and mental instability that I’d swear we were talking about middle school children pissed off at the school quarterback for dumping them.

Maybe instead of scheming against the guys, twats like these should step back and take a good look at themselves. Well-adjusted, mature, secure, stable women don’t behave like this. They don’t have to. Only infantile mental cases behave like that.

In my humble opinion, Amber Heard and Angelina Jolie should give up on handsome, powerful, ruch, successful men and just date each other. Both are no strangers to relationships with women. Heard remains legally wed to Taysa Van Ree, and Angelina was (is?) heavily involved with model Jenny Shimizu.
Image result for amber heard tasya van reeImage result for Angelina Jolie Jenny shimizu
Both pulling the same sorts of stunts, defaming the famous men they married (after seducing them away from other marriages), Heard and Jolie deserve each other. I, for one, would love to see them waltz off into the sunset together, never to be seen again.

Heard Depp drama’s over

Amber Heard tried.

She did everything she could think of to set Johnny Depp up to take a fall to the tune of millions. Probably from the moment she saw the first spark of interest in Johnny’s eyes, she probably schemed to get every red cent possible out of him.

She put her wife on the back burner.
She wiggled her way into his bed.
She even got a ring on his finger.

And, the whole time, she was setting him up.

She was whispering sob stories of abuse into any sympathetic ear that would listen, until she finally hit the jackpot in Oi Tillett Wright. Originally a friend of Johnny’s, claiming care about him like a brother, Wright ended up being Heard’s biggest champion. Wright’s the one that called the police that fateful night after Heard ran screaming that Johnny had abused her.

Was Wright simply a kind, sympathetic pawn? Did Heard flirt her way into Wright’s fondest graces? We may never know.

At the same time as orchestrating the perfect witness in Wright, Heard was laying other avenues of groundwork as well. She saw doctors, hinting at abuse, being prescribed medication that she took pictures of herself with to prove the history of abuse.

And all the while bedding Depp, smiling in his face and wrapping her legs around his back. Feeling with her heels for the best spot to plant the knife in his back. Posing for the cameras and spending his money. Enjoying the fame that comes with danging on Johnny Depp’s arm and jockeying for roles she might not have gotten otherwise.

She went for it after Wright called the cops, accusing Johnny of abuse and taking to the world’s stage playing the role of victim. Showing up at court with (painted on?) bruises on her face that witnesses asserted weren’t there before and after the public display in front of the courthouse.

Every time she tried to pull ahead in the poll of public opinion, she fell flat. With not a single shred of evidence, and burdened with a history of being arrested for committing domestic abuse herself, Heard was simply never believable.

She gave it one last show, leaking that video of Johnny slamming cabinets around in his apartment. That, I’m sure, was supposed to be the coup de grace, Johnny’s downfall.

Nope.

The video only proved to be an obvious attempt to distract the public eye away from her disastrous deposition. The one at which she was asked to explain why two cops, 5 concierges, building tenants and everybody else close to the couple never saw a single shred of evidence of abuse. Not even on the night of Wright’s 911 call. She couldn’t explain it, and didn’t even really try. I guess she thought that the public, lawyers, judge and jury would believe her sob stories just because she’s a pretty girl.

Sorry, kid. Doesn’t work that way. Not this time.

After the video failed miserably, Heard folded like a house of cards. She withdrew her claims of abuse and settled for 7 million to walk away.

Just like that, it’s over.

At one point in the drama, Depp had offered an 8 million dollar settlement, but that was rejected. Heard probably thought she could get a lot more for playing victim. He’s worth over $400 million, after all. She probably thought she was entitled to at least double digits for all the work she put in. For pretending to be straight all that time.  For bedding a (smoking? drinking?) guy twice her age that she probably never found sexually attractive at all. She’s gay, remember, married to a woman since 2008 – and that legal domestic partnership was never resolved. Just imagine how many faked orgasms went into keeping Johnny happy all that time.

She WORKED for that money, damn it!

But, in the end, she gave it up and settled for a discounted offer, a million less than the offer she rejected earlier on.

That’s probably the smartest move she’s made yet. Take the money and run.

I’m sure that if Johnny wanted to, he could pursue her for false accusations and defamation of character. But he’s too much of a gent to do that, and I’m sure he’ll be glad just to get rid of her. I can’t say I blame him.

In a statement, Heard promises  to donate proceedings of the settlement to charity. She fails to mention how much or which charity, however.

Buck and a half in a Salvation Army red bucket is my guess.

Depp-osition, take 2

Ah, THAT’S why Amber Heard’s ‘damning’ video hit the airwaves. She was finally forced to give a deposition. She got out of it last week by having a meltdown, but this past Saturday, Heard finally had to sit in that hot-seat and answer direct questions.

Transcripts haven’t been released, but according to sources, she was grilled pretty hard with  questions about why nobody – including 2 cops 5 concierges, several bodyguards and every other tenant in the building – didn’t see a single mark on her after she accused Johnny Depp of abusing her. Not so much as smudged mascara, let alone evidence of his horrendous abuse.

Her answer?

Reportedly, she continues to insist that she was injured, and couldn’t account for what others saw.

Really? What is she, five years old? Insisting that there are monsters under the bed even though the light’s been turned on? Even though a MYRIAD of witnesses saw her without bruises, including the same day, before and after she showed up in court with a shiner.

No wonder that video got leaked when it did. Heard needed something to make Johnny look like a monster, since she couldn’t convince anybody with her own lame testimony and lack of a single shred of tangible proof.

Well, if that video is the best she’s got, she really is out of gas.

People who saw the whole video are willing to testify that only heavily edited parts of it got leaked. What we didn’t see was even more footage of Heard prodding Johnny, baiting and antagonizing him.

We did see enough of that, though. Her interjecting leading comments and hiding the phone, showing her deviously baiting him and filming him without his knowledge – which could get her charged in California, a 2-party consent state. It’s illegal to record a private conversation with somebody without their knowledge and consent, especially when there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy – like in their own home.

Personally, I hope they throw the book at her.

At least for this deposition, she managed to show up on time. Still donning her shool-marm-at-a-funeral costume, I see.

What is it with her and those fugly black shoes?
Big news: Her arrival sparked a media scrum as onlookers and media jostled for a glimpse of the actressWe KNOW she owns more shoes than that. Do these have some sentimental value? They’re the same ones she wore to have lunch with her wife. Yes, I said WIFE. Heard and Tasya Van Ree entered into a legally binding domestic partnership that was never dissolved. The two are still very much married, as such. Is it Heard’s way of sending a message of love and solidarity to her beloved wife? Carol Burnett tugged her ear. Some people blow kisses. Maybe Heard’s way to tell her wife that she loves her at a glance is to plod around in those butt-ugly chunk-heel mules.

And what’s up with those fresh bruises on her arm?
no titleIs she going to try to blame Johnny for those, too? Or does she have another mark lined up to blame for those? Billionaire Elon Musk, maybe? Could she be setting him up from the start with bruises seen the world over during her messy divorce from Johnny Depp?

If the payday from a measly millionaire isn’t satisfying enough, maybe setting up a billionaire will pay better.

Good luck with that.

Heard’s crazy Depp video

At last! Here’s the ace Amber Heard’s been hiding up her sleeve. The video of Johnny that she promised would PROVE that he’s got a violent temper and seal the deal for her. The video got “leaked” to TMZ. I guess after her ridiculous behavior at the deposition she didn’t give last weekend, she felt she needed to drop a bombshell to sway the public’s opinion in her favor. (I didn’t say back in her favor because I don’t think she’s had the public’s favor yet over this whole thing.)

I gotta tell ya, I can’t WAIT to tear this thing apart. So much so that I’m doubling down on posts today.

The video is below, but first, let me describe it.

The video starts with Johnny kicking a kitchen cabinet, shouting “MOTHERF-ER!” repeatedly.

Heard, holding a travel mug in front of the phone so he won’t see it, asks “What happened?” Johnny walks away.

When Johnny walks back into the kitchen nowhere near her, Heard positions herself in front of the camera so he won’t see it. Clearly, she is filming him without his knowledge or consent. She ask him again, “What happened?”

He slams a few kitchen cabinets around, breaking something, then wanders back out of sight.

Heard says “Nothing happened this morning. You know that.” Something smashes.

Johnny asks: “Were you here?”

Heard answers: “No.”

Johnny replies: “So then nothing happened TO YOU this morning.”

Heard answers back: “Yeah, you’re right. I just woke up and you were still asleep, so…”

Johnny walks back into view, into the kitchen, fetches a glass and walks back out of frame again.

Amber continues: “We weren’t even fighting this morning. All I did was say sorry.”

Johnny comes back into the kitchen area and tries to get the subject back on track by asking “Did something happen TO YOU this morning? I don’t think so.” And walks back out again.

Heard moves the phone to try to keep Johnny in sight more.

Johnny, not noticing the phone yet, walks toward the counter where she’s standing and reaches for a bottle of wine. Heard quickly puts her cup in front of the phone so Johnny won’t see it.

Pouring himself a drink, johnny says: “You want to see crazy? I’ll give you crazy. Here’s crazy. Oh, you’re crazy.” He pours himself a drink. “There’s your crazy.” He puts the bottle down hard.

Heard points at the bottle and asks: “Have you drunk this whole thing this morning?”

That’s when Johnny notices the phone. “Oh, you’ve got this thing running?”

Amber stammers: “I just started it.”

Johnny snatches up the phone, saying: “Oh, really? Really?” And throws it.

Here’s the video.

And my take on it:

Johnny was obviously pissed off about something that happened when she wasn’t home that morning. She took advantage of the moment, planted the camera and inserted her own self-serving comments to manipulate his anger about something unrelated so that she could paint herself as the victim.

Heard tries to put fear into her voice, to play victim, but look at her actions. Never once does she shy away from him. Quite the opposite. When he approaches, she puts herself in front of the camera, to hide it.

And never once does she run out, the poor, frightenend victim of his rage. Instead, she stands with her hip cocked and a travel mug held casually in her hand.

All she managed to prove is that even when he’s angry enough to slam kitchen cabinets, HE DIDN’T TOUCH HER. He didn’t swear at her. He didn’t lift a pinky toward her. All he did was insist that NOTHING HAPPENED TO HER, clearly trying to tell her that he was pissed about something that had nothing to do with her.

Even when he discovered that she was recording him, he didn’t make any aggressive action towards her. He reached PAST her and snatched up the phone.

Several questions leap to mind.
If she was so afraid of him, why didn’t she leave when she saw that he was in such a rage?
Why didn’t she call the police on the spot?
Why didn’t she leave him, right then and there?
Why has it taken so long for this “devastating” video to see the light of day, unless she was holding it until it could fetch her a higher settlement?

Sorry to tell her, but she falls short, yet again.

All she managed to do with this “damning” video is prove that HE DIDN’T ABUSE HER.

Good job!