Tag: Authors Behaving Badly

Updated: #cockygate Part 2: #Cocky Author Files Lawsuit (includes link to full summary)

Posted May 30, 2018 by Holly in Discussions, News | 12 Comments

Note: This is a pinned post. Scroll down for additional content.

Update June 1, 2018: Thanks to Euna Park for the updates she was able to post on the court hearing this morning in NYC. The judge denied FH the temporary restraining order she requested for the publishing of books with the word “cocky” in the title and removed Kevin Kneupper from the lawsuit. Kevin being removed from the lawsuit has no bearing on his trademark case. That is separate.

FH’s lawyer is really claiming that the word “cocky” is synonomous with FH in the romance genre. Wow. Considering nobody knew who she was before all of this came to light, that’s overstating the shit out of things. I mean, sure, NOW that might be true but not in the way I think her lawyer meant.

Author Liv Morris also attended the hearing and had this to say about the Cocktales: The Cocky Collective:

This is more great news for Team Romance. I’m super glad to see that Cocktales will be able to continue to sell books. I really love how supportive our community has been over this whole thing. It makes me so glad to be apart of such an awesome community.

Here is a list of links that Courtney Milan provided that includes all, or well, most documents pertaining to the lawsuit:

Defendants Joint Memo in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction & TRO
Tara Crescent Affidavit
Crescent Exhibit D
Crescent Exhibit G
Declaration for Jennifer Watson
Declaration for Penny Reid
Plaintiff (FH) Reply to Memorandum of Law in further support of Plainitffs Motion
Full Transcript of Preliminary Hearing on June 1, 2018

Here are some other posts that went up in the last couple of days:

Authors Guild and RWA Prevail in Court Defending Authors in “Cocky” Trademark Dispute
Judge Denies Injunction Request in Cocky Trademark Dispute
RWA’s Update on Recent Trademark Proceedings
The Cocky Trademark Author Writes an Open Letter to Herself in Response to Cockygate
How an Author Trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out

Marc Whipple has a great running commentary on the entire #cockygate on his blog so be sure to check that out too.

Posted on May 30, 2018: Rowena and I have been on vacation so while we’ve been keeping up with the latest nonsense with #cockygate, we haven’t had a chance to update until now.

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Updated: #Cocky Romance Author Trademarks word, Starts #cockygate: A Summary

Posted May 7, 2018 by Holly in News | 61 Comments

Update May 16, 2018: Kevin Kneupper received Notice of Institution in the “cocky” trademark challenge.


Which basically means the challenge has been filed.

In other related news, the website cockyandproud.com popped up recently, claiming to support 3 of the authors Hopkins targeted. Dusk Peterson on Twitter questions the legitimacy of the site, especially since they’re using affiliate links to make money, which they claim will be donated into gofundme (or similar ventures).

Notice from cockyandproud.com


Apparently three of the authors say they have no affiliation with the site. If you want to support them, buy their books on Amazon.


I hate to say it, but people can be assholes. Please make sure you aren’t getting taken advantage of

The crazy video Hopkins posted is up at Vimeo if you want to watch it. I’m not sure what to tell you about it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Good luck?

More links:

Vox.com: How an author trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out
Slate.com: Who Owns Cocky?

Update May 11, 2018: I had very limited access to the internet the past couple days, so I’m a little behind in updating this post. Faleena Hopkins deleted her Facebook account, along with the 1:42:00 video we linked to below. It may crop up again, but if you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything. I promise. The video is back up at YouTube. I embedded it below. The video is down again. You can read Jenny Trout’s live-tweeting of it for a summary.

Amazon responded to RWA’s request that no further titles be removed while this matter is being resolved. They agreed.


Prior to that, authors and readers noticed reviews featuring the word “Cocky” were being removed from both Amazon and Goodreads. I haven’t seen anything from Amazon or Goodreads direct about that, but reviewer Lillie tested the system by posting two reviews – one with the word “Cocky” and one without. The review with cocky was held for 13 hours, while the one without posted immediately. Oddly enough, she noted the review with cocky went live right about the time Amazon announced it would honor RWA’s request. If I were a suspicious person….

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Bookish Thoughts: Santino Hassell, Sarah Lyons and Riptide Publishing, Crimson Romance and RWA Awards

Posted March 16, 2018 by Holly in Discussions, News | 0 Comments

A lot has happened this week in Romanceland.

Santino Hassell Dropped by Publishers

As we mentioned in our statement earlier this week, last week the romance community exploded with the news author Santino Hassell was maybe not everything he’d been purporting himself to be. At that time we were still sorting through everything, but we felt the allegations were serious enough that we didn’t feel comfortable promoting his books. Since our statement, both Riptide Publishing and Berkley have dropped him. He posted a second statement on his website, explaining his side, though again it didn’t really feel like a true apology. “Sorry I’m an asshole” isn’t really the same thing as “I’m sorry I hurt everyone by being an asshole.” Or maybe that’s just me.

If you haven’t had a chance to sort through the whole thing, here’s a list of links:

For the most part, this played out on Twitter. A lot of authors and readers were pretty fierce in their initial defense of SH, including Megan Erickson, who co-wrote the Cyberlove series with SH, and Sarah Lyons of Riptide Publishing. When more and more stories started coming out (with proof) and the depth of the deception was made public, the apology posts started to pour forth. There wasn’t a whole lot of people who weren’t affected by this and we can’t stress enough how sad we are that our community has taken a hit like this.

Isobel Starling commented to let us know Amazon is offering no questions asked refunds for any SH book you’d like to return, no matter when you bought it.

Sarah Lyons Resigns from Riptide Publishing Amid Claims of Inappropriate Behavior From Authors

Author Xen Sanders/Cole McCade recently posted about his experiences with Sarah Lyons. He details extremely inappropriate behavior and abuse in her role as Editorial Director for Riptide Publishing. She resigned as ED shortly thereafter.

It’s really disappointing to see this happening in our romance community. It’s such an ugly situation especially since, for the most part, this community was formed as a safe haven where we could discuss romance, a genre often looked down upon. It’s truly appalling to see someone in a position of power in this industry hurt others like this.

Riptide has since posted a Pledge for the Future, promising reform:

Crimson Romance is Shutting Down

Crimson Romance announced on Twitter their intention to shut down. This comes just days after The Ripped Bodice published their annual Diversity in Romance Study (view the study here), which named Crimson as a leader in publishing diverse romance. I haven’t seen an official announcement outside of Twitter, but PW says S&S attributed the closing to:

“changing consumer reading habits and the continual evolution of the marketplace.” The publisher said these factors made continuing with the business “unfeasible.”

It’s disappointing to hear about any romance imprint closing their doors, but when the imprint closing down is one responsible for publishing such a large number of diverse romances, it hurts even more.

RWA Award Recipients Announced

In one of the only bright spots of the week, RWA announced the winners for this year’s RWA Awards.

The full list:

RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award: Suzanne Brockmann
RWA Emma Merritt Service Award: Leslie Kelly
RWA Service Awards: Xio Axelrod, Robin Covington, Katie Dunneback, Sarah Hegger, Jeannie Moon
RWA Vivian Stephens Industry Award: Pamela Jaffee, Avon Books
RWA Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year: Fran Cassano, North Bellmore Public Library
RWA Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year: Crystal Perkins


 
Congratulations to all of the winners, we’re super thrilled for all of you! We’re sure there will be plenty of celebrating in Denver this year and we hope you guys have the best time. Hugs from Book Binge!


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A Statement About Santino Hassell

Posted March 13, 2018 by Holly in Miscellaneous, News | 15 Comments

Recently some allegations have come out about MM author Santino Hassell. It seems he was caught catfishing. There are a good number of reviewers and authors who feel betrayed by Santino Hassell.

For those of you who aren’t plugged into the online romance community, let me sum up: MM author Santino Hassell cultivated an online persona and became friends with a goodly number of other authors and readers. He presented himself as a bisexual single dad with serious health problems and massive medical bills. He asked for readers to donate to help with said bills so he’d be able to continue writing. It was then revealed that he was married, and did not in fact suffer from liver cancer liked he previously claimed. It seems there is also some question about whether or not he’s bi-sexual or if he said so to take advantage of the LGTBQ community. This is a brief summary and I’m sad to say there are a lot of accusations against him, including deceit, abuse toward readers – specifically those in the LGTBQ community – and much more.

If you want the full story, the entire thing is laid out here on Tumblr: The Santino Hassell Debacle. Riptide Publishing has broken all ties with Santino Hassell. Santino Hassell posted an apology, though, as far as I can tell, it admits no wrongdoing and only asks that other authors aren’t abused because of the allegations against him.

To be honest, Rowena and I are still sorting through the entire mess. Not everything is clear to us at the moment (there is just too much to get through and we haven’t had time to read through it all. As a result we don’t fully understand all that’s happened yet). However, we at Book Binge do not condone the abuse of readers, nor do we support those who Catfish, Doxx or deceive readers for personal gain. We have removed all Santino Hassell content from this site and will not post any in the future. Our hearts go out to those who have been victimized and hurt by the actions of this author.


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On Jane of Dear Author Writing as Jen Frederick

Posted March 26, 2015 by Holly in Discussions, News | 38 Comments

In 2013 I discovered new adult author Jen Frederick. Her first book was problematic for me, but I absolutely loved her second. Over the last two years I’ve read most of her other works. I also followed her on Twitter and exchanged a few reviewer/author emails with her. Based on her familiarity with authors online, and the community as a whole, I suspected she was an author or blogger writing under a pseudonym. Yesterday, Jane Litte of Dear Author confirmed my suspicions when she came out as best-selling author Jen Frederick.

The response from the DA readership has mostly been positive. The comments on the article are all along the lines of “Awesome! Go you!” or they were up until about 175, which is when I stopped reading them). There was some anger and confusion on Twitter, but it wasn’t until an anonymous author posted at The Passive Voice that any real dissent was brought out into the open. The majority of comments on that article have been overwhelmingly negative toward Jane/Jen. I’ve seen claims elsewhere that the angry commentors at TPV are just the “Pro-EC crowd” attacking Jane and being jealous because she’s selling better than they are. I don’t really agree with that.

The fact is, Jane deceived a lot of people. They have the right to be angry about that.

Jane emailed me a few days before her confession went live to tell me she was Jen Frederick. Prior to that, as I said above, I suspected Frederick was a blogger or author, but I did not suspect Jane. To be honest, that Jen and Jane are the same person has no bearing on my enjoyment of her books. While I found some of them problematic, the fact is I absolutely loved Unspoken. I still love it, even knowing that Jen is Jane (and vice verse).

As Jane said in her post, she wanted to be judged on her own merits as an author, not as Jane Litte writing a book. I can understand and even support that. For years authors, bloggers and readers have criticized Jane for her reviews and commentary; often saying she has no knowledge of what it is to be an author, so she can’t/shouldn’t comment. There are many who don’t agree with the politics at DA, and I can see why Jane wouldn’t want her position as a prominent blogger to influence sales of her books one way or the other.

That Jane chose to publish her novels under a pseudonym, and keep that pseudonym a secret, doesn’t bother me at all. Authors often write under pens names – sometimes multiple pen names – and no one bats an eye. I know many bloggers who are also writers (aspiring and published). I know many authors (aspiring and published) who are also bloggers. I don’t see that it matters one way or another.

But I think Jane made two huge mistakes.

First she kept her secret for far too long. Once she’d published a book or two, and did well enough to know whether it was something she could continue, she should have come forward at Dear Author. That she decided to publish her books isn’t a big deal to me. That she chose to publish many, which ended up as bestsellers, including co-writing books with another best-selling author, which were picked up by a traditional publisher and optioned for movie rights, is harder to swallow.

Her second mistake – and this is the big one , in my opinion- was in creating a full, separate identity for Jen Frederick. A website? Sure. A Twitter or Facebook profile where she could announce information about her books? Absolutely. But Jane took it a step farther. She befriended many authors, bloggers and readers. She joined private author loops. She commiserated  over reviews, and the writing process, and publishing, and any other number of things, all while she was also what many refer to as the Watchdog of the romance community.

I don’t see anything wrong with Jane and Jen being the same person. I do find it harder to swallow that she deceived – whether deliberately or not – the entire romance community. Would authors have been as open and honest with her if they’d known? Should they have been open and honest with her, considering her position at Dear Author?

I do not think Jane set out to purposely deceive anyone. I also don’t think – as some have speculated – she created this author persona as a way to glean information for the purpose of reporting at Dear Author. Nor do I think she used the information she was privy to as an author to hurt any fellow authors in her role as a blogger. But now everything she and Dear Author stood for is suspect.

I also think, had it been another blogger who did exactly what Jane did, Dear Author would have jumped all over them. The community feels deceived and I understand why. More importantly, Jane’s credibility as a forthright blogger and as an author, is being questioned. Considering the amount of works she’s done for the good of the community as a whole, I’m really sad about that. I’m also a little disappointed that she did something I know she would have questioned someone else for. It’s especially frustrating considering her stance on things like this in the past. For example, the disclosure she included when another author reviewed Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh at Dear Author.

DA Reviewer Disclosure

Of course, I haven’t even touched on the ethical questions this situation raises. Like the fact there were several mentions of Jen Frederick books at Dear Author, including Kati’s “Best of 2014” post, along with a mention in a Daily Deals post and an “If You Like” post, wherein Unspoken was recommended to those who like military roms. None of those are really Jane herself promoting her own work, but naturally it makes her claim that she kept the two separate a lie. A small one? Sure. But a lie nonetheless.

There’s also the fact that she was contracted with Berkley while still reviewing Berkley books. Did she positively review books from her publisher because they were her publisher? Probably not. But again, had she disclosed the relationship it wouldn’t be a question now.

For my part, I don’t plan to stop reading Jen Frederick’s books. But I do think she (as Jane and Jen), and Dear Author both, are a little tarnished now. In the end it comes down to trust. Jane broke ours. It’s as simple as that.


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