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Yesterday, when I posted my thoughts and feelings about the Cassie Edwards plagiarism thing, I stayed away from Ms. Edwards’ publishers.  Like most everyone, I was outraged when the letter from Penguin/Signet came out saying she’d done nothing wrong, but they’ve since retracted that statement and said they will investigate.  No word from her other publishers yet–or if there has been, I missed it.  I have no doubt it’s going to be a while before we hear anything else from Penguin/Signet, so I’ll wait until I hear their verdict before I address the publisher issue further.  

As for Ms. Edwards, like I said in my previous post, I feel a small amount of pity for her, and I imagine she just wants this whole thing to go away so she can get on with her life and her career.  Sad to say, that’s probably what will happen.  If she can endure the storm currently raging against her and a slap or two on the wrist, all will be well in her world again at some point in the future.

We have only to look to Janet Dailey for proof of that.  Ms. Dailey is a proven plagiarist, was even gutsy–or stupid–enough to steal from Nora Roberts, the best and the most widely-read romance writer in the business.  She was caught, taken to court, claimed it was a case of psychogical stress or some such nonsense, and a few years later landed another contract with another publisher.  She’s back to writing, her books are being published and all is right in her world.  

I think the same thing will likely happen to Ms. Edwards.  She has a product to sell, she’s made a lot of money for her publishers in the past, and like Janet Dailey, someone, somewhere, at some point in time, is going to offer her another contract.  I don’t agree with it, but the fact is Cassie Edwards sells, and that’s what a publisher is going to look at; how much money her books made in the past and how much money they might possibly make in the future.  Some publisher, willing to take a chance, will sign her and if her first post-plagiarism book makes them money, she’ll be offered another contract after that one–probably for more money–and so on and so on and so on.

The thing is…for me, this raises the question of how do Ms. Dailey, or Ms. Edwards–if my prediction comes true–deal with being a known cheat in their chosen profession?  How do they have the guts to go out there and do book signings after what’s been said and proven about them?  How do they withstand the constant snickers and finger-pointing aimed in their direction when they do?

After giving it a good deal of thought, I think I know the answer; confidence in one’s self and belief in one’s writing.  

I don’t have that, but I’m hoping it’s a learned trait and will come with time.  Janet Dailey has it and I suspect, so does Cassie Edwards.  It’s an admirable quality, one I’d like to have, but if I do ever get to that point, I hope I don’t have to go through the kind of public ridicule these women have gone through to get it.  Not that I feel sorry for them, they’re both cheats in my eyes, and they brought it on themselves.  But after all was said and done, at least in Ms. Dailey’s case, she came out…well, I won’t say the better for it, but she survived and is once again doing what she loves.  The jury’s still out on Ms. Edwards.

So, to all my fellow struggling authors, I hope you take note of the lessons buried beneath the feelings of outrage, disgust, and betrayal in this whole Cassie Edwards thing; believe in yourself and your writing.

Because when you get right down to it, that’s all that matters. 

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**I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that this post may turn into a “Friday Folly”–hence  the asterisks and question mark.  Oh well, we’ll see.

Twilight Fantasies Publications has closed its doors and the authors–of which I am one–have no idea what’s going to happen next.  Will they file for bankruptcy, thereby leaving the future of our books in the hands of the court?  Or will they just fade into oblivion, thereby leaving all their authors to wait and wonder if it’s safe yet to re-submit their work?  Who knows?  I can give you my opinion–I think they’ve packed up their toys and gone home and we probably won’t hear another word out of them–but that certainly isn’t etched in stone and fair warning, it’s based more on my own personal hopes than facts.

So, I’ve been reading a few of the blogs and watchdog sites which have seen fit to comment on the closing and I’m very dismayed by some of the posts by other authors.  Particularly those made by authors who are more experienced and thus in a much cushier position than authors who are just starting out–like me.  Normally, I enjoy reading the thoughts and remarks of people who know more than I do about a given situation, but this time around, I’m a little…um, sickened by their smugness.

The thing is…these authors who are speaking from their loftier perches on the ladder of success, seem to be well, I think blaming is too strong a word here, so let’s just say implying that when an author gets caught up in the death throes of a dying epublisher, said author has no one to blame but herself.  I’m sorry, but I don’t get that.  Haven’t these people ever heard of compassion?

Apparently not.  A few of them have even gone so far as to say we–meaning the authors who are caught up in the <insert name of epublisher who’s gone belly up here> debacle–were so “desperate” to get published, we would have handed our rights over to just any old Tom, Dick, or Harry on the cyber-space highway as long as they offered us a chance to get our work out there.

Now that just flat-out pisses me off, and I’m here to tell you it isn’t so.  Not in my case and not in the case of countless others who have–or will in the future–go through this.  I’ve been privileged to read the work of some of those authors and I can tell you, these are not fly-by-night, anything-for-a-quick-buck, looking for glory, desperate authors.  These are writers who have poured their hearts and souls into their work, who have taken the time to learn how to write a book, and who, in some cases, are turning out better work than some of the crap written by several of those best-selling authors published by the big New York houses–and trust me, you don’t even want to get me started on the unoriginal junk that’s being churned out by those people.

Okay, so there are authors out there who think it’s our fault we’re going through all this heart ache.  Where do they get that?  Perhaps–and I’m quoting a fellow author here–it’s their “Diva Attitude” that makes them say things like this.

…and even as I write this and worry that some of those “Diva Authors” are going to take a very big, very vicious bite out of my ass for it, an email just came through my inbox warning of yet another epublisher–one that’s been in business for a while and by all accounts was one of the more stable ones–that is closing its doors.  If it’s true, several of those “Diva Authors” are going to be caught up in this one and we’ll be able to see how they handle it.

Poetic justice?  Maybe, but I prefer to think of it as sweet revenge.  Which probably makes me sound like a spiteful bitch, but I can’t help being glad they’re going to get a taste of their own medicine, because I know for a fact it won’t kill them…but it is a bitter pill to swallow.

Got sugar?         

Okay, I wasn’t going to write about this, but the fact is, I’m still mad about it and I can’t think of any other way to get it off my mind.  So, I’m going to get it all down, and I apologize if it’s all a little garbled and incoherent, but hopefully once I get through with this blog entry, that’ll be the end of it.

A little background first, I’ve been locked in a battle with an epublisher for the rights to my book, Unwilling Angel, which won first place in their Zuzu’s Petals writing contest and was published by them.  After various breaches of contract, I wrote them and told them I wanted my rights back.  They, in turn, wrote me back and tried to blame me–and a few other authors who were asking for their rights back–for the whole mess. 

Now, while I have written a little about this fight, I’ve managed to avoid coming right out and saying the publisher’s name.  Not that it would’ve taken a genius to figure it out, but I at least tried to keep my mouth shut and not spread vicious rumors.  As of this past weekend, that’s over with.  Last Monday, Twilight Fantasies Publications shut down their web site and on Saturday, they shut down the author’s loop, the reader’s group, and their blog site–all without having the courage to come out and warn the authors who had remained loyal to them.  No word, no explanation, not even a “go jump in the lake,” even though the authors who were still with them were practically begging them to post something on the author’s loop and explain what was going on.  They didn’t see fit to do that and the lack of explanation has taken me to a whole new level of fury.  Not for myself–well, okay, a little for myself–but more for all the authors they left hanging.

Okay, so Twilight Fantasies Publications is owned by a husband and wife team.  I know the wife is a teacher and it’s my understanding the husband is too.  The wife is also an author who writes erotic romance under a pseudonym, and the husband seems to be very protective of her.  To a point.  When all of this started happening, he was quick to cite her illness as the reason behind the lack of communication and their failure to honor their contracts.  But he, as co-owner, never stepped up to the plate to do anything to help her run the business, just made excuses and quite arrogantly suggested that it was the fault of the authors because they weren’t doing what needed to be done to keep the business afloat.  WTF?  It’s his business, and while most authors are happy to do whatever is needed to sell their books, most aren’t willing–or able–to step in and run a publishing company.

So, in my eyes, he’s no more than a spoiled brat who knows he’s in trouble and is doing everything he can to point the finger of blame at someone else.  Sure, he took up for her, but if he really was fully behind her, he would have stopped issuing excuses and done whatever he could to save the business.

He didn’t, he was way too busy trying to find someone to share the guilt and in so doing, he shoved the guilt firmly back in her corner.  She will be the one to suffer for all of this–if, that is, she has even a smidge of conscious–and the suffering isn’t likely to end with the demise of her business.

As a teacher, in a state which I’m told frowns on anything that even approaches pornography, I have to wonder what will happen to their careers if all this gets out.  She writes erotic romance–something a lot of people say is nothing more than dressed-up porn–and beyond that, she and her husband were running a business that dealt in erotic books.  Doesn’t matter that they also published books which were “sweet romance,” most of the books they were selling were erotic.  And I think that’s the only thing the condemners will see.  As a teacher, I don’t think I’d want to be in her shoes–or his either, for that matter–if that ever comes out.

Now, as to her being an author, what I want to know is how could she do what she did?  She’s an author, for Pete’s sake, how could she treat other authors that way and live with herself?  Didn’t she think about how she would feel if she were the one on the receiving end of that type of misbehavior by a publisher, or is she, like her husband, so childishly arrogant that she thought she could get away with it by pointing her finger at everybody else?

The thing is…what effect this whole ugly mess will have on either or both of her careers is yet to be seen.  I have a feeling it isn’t going to be pretty when it all comes out.  I mean, I’ve lived in the south for most of my life and I can’t see the residents of the Bible Belt letting her–or him–off easy.

So, one career down, one to go.  I can’t imagine some other publisher, especially one who knows what she did, accepting anything she writes for publication.  One thing I’ve learned, cyber-space is a small world.  Now maybe there are some out there who might take a chance and publish something by her, and I have to say it’s my wish that she finds them.  But, I also have to be honest and tell you, if she does find someone who will publish something she writes, I hope they’re as unscrupulous and uncaring of their authors’ feelings as she and her husband were.

Because, well, payback’s a bitch.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

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