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.

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Phoenix Fire (not) closed?

How long ago was it that owner Tabetha Jones announced the closing of Phoenix Fire publishing? When she said that Dark Storm was “taking over” all tehe authors and contracts? Hang on, let me look.

There it is. I published that grab more than a year ago.
And the announcement on her FB page to back it up.
PFclosedmar2015
So, if Phoenix Fire publishing was closed down more than a year ago, how is it that her Draven Witch books are still for sale on Amazon? And, no. I don’t mean those shady third party dealings. Not used or secondhand. These are books that are CURRENTLY being sold on Amazon as active listings. Both on Kindle and as a paperback.  I don’t think there’s such a thing as a used Kindle book, is there?

And, if Phoenix Fire closed in March 2015, how is it that the current listing was published in AUGUST of 2015? Yup. Fishy.

Anyway, there you have it. Tabetha Jones is still at it, still doing business as Phoenix Fire publishing, with current listings available. As well as whatever new scheme she’s cooking up. None of her antics are “in the past” even though she’s gone radio silent. It’s the same old song and dance.

Illegal much? Tax fraud, maybe? We’ll see what the IRS thinks of it all and let them decide what to do about it.

SMH.

On the air

Tabetha Jones was on her buddy’s online radio show recently. Or, should I say Zoey Sweete was. From start to finish, the host referred to Tab as Zoey, and the through the entire duration of the show, Tab spoke as Zoey.

I scarcely know where to start explaining how ridiculous that is.

Sure, authors and entertainers use different names all the time. They have done so since the advent of organized entertainment. Authors of old used pseudonyms to conceal their identities if writing was something they couldn’t be seen doing. Whether it’s because they were aristocrats who couldn’t be seen doing something so frivolous, peasants who wouldn’t be taken seriously as such, or, heaven forbid, women who simply couldn’t do such things, a fake name was something they needed to hide behind.

A very important point about that is that the pseudonym was carefully guarded and never revealed. Not until after the fact, anyway. They didn’t flounce around under their real identities bragging about it the way she does. There was a good reason they needed to use the fake name. It wasn’t some deceitful whim they cooked up to trick people.

The entire point of using an alternym is to HIDE the identity of the person using it, not some ridiculous persona they put on like a costume at a carnival freak show – though that is certainly what she looks like, changing hats so often.

And it’s not just one fake name she uses. There are several that she admits to, and at least twice that many she still lies and denies using. I guess she thinks that people are stupid enough to believe that if she just says it, people will believe it. We’re not, and we don’t.

But I digress. I started off talking about that horrible radio interview. Not the show itself. I like the premise, and the host knows what she’s doing (though she’s still misguided enough to believe good things about her buddy). I mean Tab’s appearance.

There were two other guests, each involved in publishing. Those two knew what they were doing. They spoke directly to the reason they were appearing on the show and answered questions succinctly about the work they were promoting.  In short, they sounded professional.

Tab/Zoey, on the other hand, rambled disjointedly about herself, stroking her own ego about being this author, publisher, model, booking agent, and whatever else she’s got going on. There seemed no single product or event that she was there to promote. She was just there to stroke her ego because her buddy owns the show and lets her come on whenever she wants. For an attention whore like Tab, it’s a match made in heaven.

Right out of the gate, something sounded wrong. She sounded badly slurred, like she was either drunk as a skunk or stoned off her ass. Or both. If anybody else has heard that painful interview, let me know what you think, either way.

It’s really important to note that every other word out of her mouth was “um” and every third was “Y’know.” It was horrible. She sounded like she was completely unprepared to do an interview. Aside from the ums and y’knows, all she did was talk about herself.

Anybody that’s been around her for more than ten minutes has heard it: her rhetoric about how her “authors come first” and how she “busts her ass” to make sure that her authors’ dreams come true. You’ve heard it before, ad nauseam. Emphasis on nausea.

She also says that her authors aren’t bound to her. They’re free to explore other options and approach other companies. That’s a new claim, but the ongoing truth rings very different. Whenever an author tries to take back the rights to their books and leave, she beats them over the head with her (illegal) contract and threatens to sue them with her nonexistent lawyer. Free to explore their options? I think not. It’s just another line of bullshit to try to sucker in authors that don’t know better.

Somewhere in there, she spent twenty minutes explaining that somebody else does the art, somebody else does the editing, and how the authors have the final say on their books. Essentially, she explained, in depth, how she does NOTHING for the author, except slap their books on Createspace using her own account. Everybody get that? She uses her own Createspace account. Not a company account, not a professional account. She’s publishing THEIR work under HER name. So that when authors start to notice that the figures don’t add up and start to ask questions, Createspace won’t tell them. It’s HER account, so they won’t tell them anything. It’s not until after they leave her that they can approach Createspace and get information about their own titles. There are still authors that haven’t gotten information about their books for that very reason.

So, by her own admission, she does nothing to prepare a book. She’s trying to attract authors by saying that they’ve got all this creative freedom, but the truth is that publishing doesn’t work that way. REAL publishing doesn’t, anyway. An author writes a book. That’s it. Their job is done. Period.

It’s up to the publisher to have the final say, from editing, formatting, artwork, production and promotion. It’s the publisher’s JOB to personally make sure that all of the above is handled to a professional standard. That’s what entitles them to keep a percentage of the royalties.

We’ve all seen the crappy, nonexistent formatting in the books her companies put out. By admitting that the author has the final say, she’s confessing that the books don’t get edited. She’ll make suggestions, she asserts, but it’s up to the author to have the final say.

So… why, exactly, should she get a single cent of their royalties? She’s doing NONE of the work that a publishers is supposed to. By her own admission, she does zip, yet she expects to keep… how much of the profits is she up to these days?

Yet again, Tab took a page from Cindy White’s book. Literally. The bio page. She essentially quoted Cindy’s bio, saying that she’s been writing since she was 12, putting her blood, sweat and tears down on paper, because the page doesn’t judge or talk back.

She tripped herself up with a lie, though. First, she said that she started writing stories because of all the stories her dads told her when she was a child (and never mind that this defies her own timeline and the fact that her stories about her dads have been debunked time and time again. One dad was a drill sergeant and the other was a biker. Insert eye roll). She said that writing books was a release during ALL of her abusive marriages – contradicting herself from statements she’s made elsewhere that (at least) some of her husbands DIDN’T abuse her.

But AFTER that, she slipped back into Cindy mode, saying that as she progressed, she started with poetry and evolved into writing stories. Cindy’s the poet, and Tab has been poking Cindy with a stick, ripping off her life, almost word for word. Cindy has a condition that could kill her literally any second if she’s put under enough stress. And Tab knows it.

In my opinion, Tab is trying to kill Cindy with the same type of stress that she heaped upon her now-deceased mother. She pushes Cindy’s buttons, ripping off her bio, flagrantly claiming Cindy’s experiences as her own, KNOWING that it’s going to cause Cindy stress. Me, I don’t give two farts what Tab says about me, but it bothers Cindy. Tab knows it, and she shovels it on with a backhoe.

With her own words, Tab contradicted and exposed herself. In one breath, she wrote stories from the start, and in the next (to rip off Cindy), she says that she started with poetry.  She also neglected to mention those journals she’s kept since she was 12. Maybe she forgot. Or maybe she got put in her place because Cindy posted pictures of her journals all the way back and challenged Tab to do the same. Which, of course, she can’t.

Over all, Tab makes it obvious that she knows precisely zero about publishing. The other two guests rambled off professional points about the industry, and the host would throw the mic back to Tab to include her. Tab would chime in with something like “Exactly,” and then babble incoherently about the subject, as if she knew all about it. It didn’t make her look knowledgeable, though. It illustrated exactly the opposite.  She sounded like an inebriated idiot.

But that’s what she does, isn’t it? She gathers real talent around herself, to try to elevate herself and make herself seem fabulous or important, at their expense. Whether it’s models or authors (or boyfriends), all she does is ride their coattails until they come to their senses and scrape her off.

They do not need her. She contributes nothing. Quite the opposite. She needs them. To puff up her ego. To make money off of. To steal identities from. To steal belief systems from. To copy.

From the host introducing Tabetha as Zoey, with an exaggerated laundry list of titles and accomplishments that amount to nothing in reality, to all of the ums, y’knows and outright lies – and her drunken/stoned slurred speech, the whole interview was a disaster. And there was nothing beautiful about it.

BD heads up

Just a quick heads up. Tab’s planning to re-release her Beautiful Disasters anthology.
upcomingreleasesBDremake
So if you’ve got work in the previous incarnation(s) of that (or any other MP, PF, DS, SF, SS) book, or if you’ve ever given her anything to read, keep a close eye on BD to make sure none of your work shows up in it on the sly. Just to be safe.

And if any of you know Aradia Wadjet, Norbert Gora or Natalie Moon, please let those poor people know what they’re getting into.

Oh, look.

Tabetha’s a public figure now.
publicfigurenow
Or, Zoey Sweete is. I know, same thing. Either way, it’s funny as hell.
Self publishing some illiterate spank-smut and rolling around naked on the couch so her sister can take pictures makes her a public figure.

And I am the queen of Sheba.

Let her have her delusions. She got a picture into a vanity magazine, so of course she’s the next morbidly obese supermodel of the world. More power to her. At least she’s not pretending to be a publisher anymore. And that’s a good thing, because she still hasn’t learned how to spell. There are several faux pas in her ego-stroking write-up of her involvement with a local model-broker.
ZoeyCantSpell
Wouldn’t her new boss be proud, having somebody with her literary skills in their corner? I know I would be. Not.

Wait… what? She’s still playing publisher, too?

Well, it is true that she’s still got books out there by former authors victims on sites like Amazon UK, among others. And I hear whispers that she’s quietly planning to re-release her entire “catalog” of books by authors that have long since cut ties with her.

I hope she does. I hope she keeps every third party sales going, and has the nerve to re-publish work she has no legal right to use. And, unlike before, I hope the authors nail her ass to the wall. The only reason she’s still out there ripping people off is because they get so sick of her that they walk away. They simply don’t want to deal with her anymore, even if that means letting her get away with it.

I can understand that. I’m sick of her, too. Nothing would make me happier than if she fell off the face of the planet tomorrow. No lie. But I guarantee that if I had the grounds to prosecute her, I wouldn’t walk away from it. I’d be too worried about the next person she hurts. I couldn’t have it on my conscience that somebody else got hurt after I could have stopped her. That’s why I still blog about her: to let people know what sort of person (author, editor, whatever) she is, so that they can be warned going in.

Whether it’s the next lover, model or author she suckers in, people have a right to know who they’re dealing with, so that they can avoid the lies and abuse.

Troy, you don’t see it because you’re new to the game, but you’ve already fallen into her pattern. She’s got you suckered in with whatever lies she’s told you. She’s got you playing her internet games for her. Is she using you for money, yet? She got the last guy to take out a loan to pay off her probation fines for her, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’ll never see that money again. What about you? Got a job? Contributing to the household bills yet? She’s already got you entwined into her drama. Has she got you contributing to her habits, too? Or has she still got those hidden? Has she got you thinking she’s little Suzie homemaker? Or have you caught her partying all night and sleeping her lazy ass in all day? Hey, if that’s your idea of a hot catch, more power to you. But make no mistake. Whatever story she told you about herself (that she’s some emerging superstar model, publisher writer, whatever), whatever she’s said about us (that we’re all liars and haters, whatever), whatever she said about anything, IT WAS A LIE.  We’ve known her a hell of a lot longer than you have, and we’ve seen it all before. Repeatedly.

Every single guy before you – and the last one was RIGHT before you, by a matter of days, maybe weeks  (she called him her king dragon, too, in case you didn’t know) – has discovered the same thing: That we’re right about her. It takes them a while, because she does lying to people’s faces really well, but sooner or later, they all see it. If you’re a smart man, do what I invited you to do in the first place. Read this blog from the oldest post to the newest one. Read. Learn. Save yourself the time and pain of finding out the hard way.

As for the rest of you, I hereby challenge you. If you’ve got any legal action that you could take against her, do it. I know a couple of her former authors that are cooperating with local, Federal and international authorities to investigate her crimes against them. And that’s a beautiful thing. If the rest of you would step forward as well you’ll not only be reclaiming your own destiny, you might be stopping her from doing it to the next person.

Same thing about her kid. If you’re someone with knowledge of any actions or circumstances that present any sort of unhealthy situation for her child report her to CPS. Imagine if you were a child living like that. Wouldn’t you wish that somebody had advocated for you? It’s not about “getting” Tabetha. It’s about doing what’s right for a little girl that can’t fight for herself. One that deserves a decent life.

Stop letting her skate just because she’s so detestable you don’t want to deal with her anymore. Put a screeching halt to her path of destruction. Once and for all.

Then we can dedicate more time to pointing and laughing at the little femme, Nikita. Won’t that be fun?