Nepal earthquake appeal: win signed books and literary immortality!

KJ Charles

The death toll from the earthquake in Nepal stands at 3200 today, and will only rise with aftershocks, injuries and privation. This is one of the poorest countries on earth, its capital city and major sources of tourism income have been devastated, and it needs help. The fantastic Tiffany Reisz is running an auction here (seriously, she’s great) and this has inspired me to chuck in my own tuppence worth.

So, here we go:

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I’m offering a signed set of print copies of my Charm of Magpies series (The Magpie Lord, A Case of Possession, Flight of Magpies, Jackdaw)

PLUS

Your name, or that of a friend as you prefer, to appear as a character in a forthcoming book (either The Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalVictorian Gothic, publishing June 2015, or A Fashionable Indulgence Regency, publishing August 2015, both queer romance). There may well…

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Anne Rice wants to dox you!

Last year Anne Rice signed a petition by a friend of hers demanding that Amazon remove anonymity from anyone posting a review or in their forums.  It didn’t quite reach its goal even with Rice gracing it with her celebrity and talking it up all over the media any chance she could.

Not being a fan of her writing, and of herself, I have missed out on a lot of the fun and games of Rice setting her fanpoodles on unsuspecting reviewers or just having a go at them herself. This last year I’ve caught up and it’s been a fascinating read. Who could forget the “review” Rice posted when Blood Canticle wasn’t received with the proper amount of reverence and five star reviews. Or the blogger who used a battered copy of Punishing Pandora for decoupage. Rice has, finally, stopped providing her more rabid fans with links to critical reviews of her work on Amazon after posters started to vehemently protest but she wasn’t happy about it.

Rice has been a poster on Amazon for quite some time, pontificating on this, that, and how to correctly review books. Her efforts on the latter subject haven’t met with the level of success she believes she deserves. Rice does not like her opinions and pronouncements dismissed or argued. She gets- testy.

Lately Rice has become enamored of STGRB, a site known for being the idol of almost every author who has tried to lie, cheat, bully, harass, complain, pout, and just generally be an embarrassment to the book community. Known for its less than savory tactics, including doxxing, Rice has now taken to commenting and complimenting their various posts that bear small resemblance to reality.

Why would Rice champion such a site? Because they want what Rice wants- your real name. When you give Rice or, say, Melissa Douthit a one or two star review they want to be able to find you. They want their friends and fans to be able to find you.

They want to be able to rain down on you every form of coercion, harassment, and threat at their disposal. Don’t believe me? An author called me because I wrote about her gaming the system. Author Kathleen Hale stalked blogger, Blythe Harris, and wrote it up in The Guardian. And then there is this, an author in England tracks down a reviewer in Scotland and assaults by breaking a full wine bottle on her head.

And now Anne Rice wants your name attached to your reviews, attached to any comment you post on Amazon.

Recently Rice started a thread in Amazon’s Top Reviewer Forum for no other purpose than to spam for STGRB. Three or four days later it was deleted by Amazon. Now if Amazon hasn’t changed their policy then Rice would have gotten notification of why it was deleted but all she has ever said was the “bullies” managed to get it deleted by their actions. Yes, on that, we reported her for spamming every time she posted praising or linking STGRB.

Rice might want you to think that this was somehow underhanded but that’s what that little button is there for and, you know what, Amazon doesn’t take down a thread because a few people don’t like what is posted otherwise Politics and Religion would be pretty thin pickings. Amazon looked at what Rice was doing and decided she was in violation of their TOS. And that’s the reason why her thread was removed.

Time for screenshots:

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Rice is talking about that blogger who used her book for decoupage. This wasn’t the only reason she changed her policy, years later than she should have. her fans never missed a chance to pounce on any unsuspecting reviewer and Rice was fully aware of this yet continued her posts.

Now here is an interesting ss:

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Rice seems to be somewhat unglued by a passing observation that she and another poster live in or lived in the same neighborhood. You would think a woman who doesn’t like the thought of someone knowing where she lived would be more resistant to the idea of doxxing. But maybe she just wants to disclose someone’s name and let another author reveal their address, I hope that all the people she might eventually dox have sufficiently distinctive names. otherwise that might prove embarrassing, at the least, for Rice.

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Here Rice approves of SPA author, Maggie Spence, calling me because I objected to her gaming the GR system, having family post five star reviews for her book on GR an d Amazon, and insulting other authors on the KSP boards when they tried to give her advice and urged her not to do what she ultimately declared herself “morally comfortable” doing. Spence hasn’t quit complaining about the backlash since. Of course rice would approve of this call because she doesn’t like me and calls me “the notorious blogger”.

This is hilarious because I have a very small following and most people in the book world have never heard of me but somehow Rice has the idea I can destroy a budding author’s career with one one star review.  Uh no, but the book that inspired that review might be enough to destroy it.

Rice tells her People of the Page constantly not to go to the Top Reviewers Forum on Amazon, so let me show them (and you) what she posts. Ready?

 

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This next is the title of the thread Rice started and Amazon deleted.

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Wait- she would invite us over? After she almost melted down over the casual observation by a poster that they used to live in the same neighborhood? I have a perfect ss for this:

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Maybe Amazon doesn’t do anything because those posters aren’t violating the TOS?

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So Rice gives a site that has doxxed reviewers/bloggers, insulted reviewers on their looks and weight, endorsed some of the biggest liars and cheats “writing” today, and cutting and pasting facts and screenshots to support whatever lie they wish to promote.

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You remember paro/Kevin Weinberg, don’t you? The recently banned from both GR and WP for flagrantly violating their TOSs. When Rice talks about the dark spots on the internet Weinberg certainly qualifies but he will agree with her and promote that site so Rice loves him.

Or not so much because she has said absolutely nothing in his defense either time. Hmm.

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Rice loves to tell posters they are confused or hysterical and then uses that as an excuse not to answer their questions or just puts them on ignore.

Moving over to her FB page Rice keeps up a steady barrage on her People but she never produces any evidence, she just keeps reiterating the same things over and over.

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We don’t mind you being critical, we mind that you make accusations you can’t prove and keep making them.

And now that her petition, her thread devoted to her pet site, and her (probably) numerous abuse reports to Amazon haven’t garnered her the desired result Rice is considering doxxing. Why?

Well, Rice doesn’t like the way I review, she doesn’t think I, or anyone else, should recommend not reading a book. She believes that with that one sentence you will all magically not buy that book and thus I will have destroyed an author’s career. That I should wield that kind of power. She doesn’t like that I blog about plagiarists, cheaters, liars. She doesn’t want me to have an opinion, or maybe she doesn’t want me to have an opinion that doesn’t meet her specific requirements.

And so we come to this:

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Does Rice pay any attention to what her People are saying? Put down? I hope Renee doesn’t live next to any of you.

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And here it is, what she really wants, not just your name- your address, your employer, your family’s names. Because she doesn’t like the way you- and I- review and nothing she has done so far has stopped us. She wants to “tattle”, to call or email your boss and/or your family.

Rice has a book release on Tuesday, now how many critical reviews won’t be posted because of her behavior? Reviewers were refusing arcs of this book because they don’t want the trouble that comes with giving her  less than favorable reviews.

I’m not alone in believing Rice isn’t doing this for new authors. I think she does it for what she gets-admiration for her ‘bravery’, and what she doesn’t get- critical reviews. There is a bully here and now she wants to dox us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. N. Roquelaure- Is this the best she can do?

Screenshot (8848)It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Anne Rice. I think she could use several editors for any piece over three sentences she writes. Yesterday a friend sent me this link to an excerpt from Rice’s, writing as A.N. Roquelaure,  soon to be released book, Beauty’s Kingdom.

Wow, just wow. That is all sorts of- not good. An excerpt should be something exciting, some part of the story to grip the reader by the throat and not let go until they have bought the book.  If this is the best Rice can do, I’ll go buy a Harlequin. After 38 previous books you would think the writing would be a little more polished, a little more sophisticated. It’s like expecting an engraved invitation and receiving something written in crayon on construction paper.

Then I noticed this:

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Notice anything not quite right? Rice is too busy calling people names on Amazon and extolling the non-existent virtues of her pet hate site to notice that her name is spelled wrong on the left copy. Sort of makes you wonder what other little details she isn’t attending to, doesn’t it? Doesn’t she have an assistant who can check for this kind of stuff?

I have a rule that I never read the book(s) of someone who doesn’t notice or care that their name is spelled incorrectly. Doesn’t look like I’ll be missing much.

 

 

 

 

 

GoodReads Bans Kevin Weinberg/parogar

Hello dear Readers, all nine of you, I hope Thursday is treating you well. After a few strenuous days I am spending today doing very little. I thought about cleaning the kitchen but then this delightful little tidbit dropped into my hands and I just had to share. Now it’s Friday so TGIF.

I think we can file this under karma is a bitch.

You all remember the delightful Kevin Weinberg/parogar? Who could forget him? His girlfriend, I guess, but the rest of us keep tripping over him because he won’t leave us alone. It got much worse after Wattpad kicked him off and he lost a lot of underage fans and/or his sock followers.

He flounced off GR because of their continued “support” of a “known bully” and rejoined right after I was banned. Hmm. Do you think he could’ve meant I was the bully? He was the one who knew as soon as it happened, sort of like he was just waiting…

Did I mention karma is a bitch?

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Ooh, ooh, look who got banned. And why? Because he’s a total idiot. That’s right, total idiot.

His account was “again brought to their attention”, “your facebook post remains”, “as we’ve previously mentioned”? Well, when you are dumb enough to do this:

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then maybe you should expect what happens next.  I haven’t been a big fan of GR for quite some time, way before they banned me, but even I know that authors, and Whineberg is an author, have to be careful. GR does not grant them as much leeway as they do other members. So posting this publicly where anyone can see it was dumb and arrogant. But let’s check the comments:

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Melissa has had those 100 one stars for quite awhile but I guess kev thinks he can “fix” it so she will, what, express her gratitude by letting him post whatever he pleases on her site? Like that would ever happen. And he doesn’t use the website? Well what does he call his little call-to-upvote? He’s using GR, just not like other people use it. And please notice that he was only “inciting” because GR “allowed” those bullies to post their honest opinions.

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If you don’t care about GR then why did you go back? Logged in once a year? Right. If you didn’t use it then I will ask again, why did you go back? And they sent him “one of these” when he was on WP? And he didn’t get the message?

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No, kevvie, it means that someone sent GR a link to your posts, both on WP and FB. I’m not the only one who doesn’t like your little “make me feel good and powerful” schemes. Shimaira, they probably sent kevvie a note when he asked you all to down vote Melissa back before he cried and begged and groveled until she took pity on him (another story, another time).

Sigh. Ignorance is so unattractive. Librarians are volunteers, members that are allowed to catalogue books and that’s about it. GR shat on them when they allowed Amazon to download a bunch of crap into the book database so I really don’t think they value their librarians all that much. A librarian could never have sent you that email, only a legitimate employee of GR can do that and even then I don’t imagine all employees could do that.

OMG, you aren’t trying to say that the person is a poster on Amazon? Of course you are. Dumbass. I would imagine that some employees of GR do post on Amazon but that is not why there is no name attached. There is no name so you can’t retaliate against that person. Idiot. No one sending one of those wants a looney-tune like you doxxing them or calling them or having your badly aging idol, Anne Rice, send her rabid fanpoodles after them and complaining about them over and over on her FB page.

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“Protect their own?” Yeah, sure. Have you forgotten Linda, Scarlet, Grim, Angela, Angela (yes, two of them), and myself ? You certainly celebrated when we were banned, forgotten already? Or is it that you just never believed than continued flaunting of the rules would get you banned? Did you forget WP so soon? It’s only April and you’ve been banned from two sites already, are you going for some kind of a record?

That green site warns  people against GR because Melissa was banned, twice I believe, maybe.

But kev seems to have a problem with the consequences of his actions- he doesn’t think there should be any. Besides Douthit he has done this twice before in the nine months I’ve been aware of him.

 

So why did he launch his upvoting plea for Douthit? She is the owner of STGRB though she keeps denying it but I have a lovely ss of kevvie talking about her.

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And it looks like maybe some of those 1 stars could be from kevvie’s downvoting campaign against her.

Lately kevvie has been writing and commenting on her site under the name of SEHN, you can tell because of his semi-hysterical and rather fictional accounts of whatever he’s claiming is true. I guess that he wants to curry  little favor from Douthit by upping the rating on her book(s). How did that work out? Let’s see:

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Here’s the overall summary for The Raie’ Chaelia, all in all not bad for a boring book. So how many ratings appeared after his heartfelt plea?

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I hope she appreciated the hundreds of – wait, really? Under 20 ratings? Kevvie, you got banned for this anemic effort? Awwwwww… I guess being banned from WP has cut off a good supply of compliant underage followers who will do just about anything for you.

And since he doesn’t have the love for GR he had/has for WP I guess GR staff can be thankful they will be spared this:

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And this:

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And before that when they had just temporarily suspended him he couldn’t abide by the rules and created another account to, how do I say this, lie to his followers. He was on Amazon but he never talked about WP, just about himself or why he’s right and everybody else is wrong or Anne Rice. But that wouldn’t be as dramatic.

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WP has given aid to his enemies? Don’t worry, dear readers, kevvie had plenty of bad things to say about them and their staff but I’ll spare you. Here’s the quick version, he loved them, they stabbed him in the back, it wasn’t anything he did, he didn’t know he broke any rules, he didn’t know there were any rules, they were jealous he got to #1, he was going to leave anyway. Nothing is ever his fault. That about covers it.

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He did much better for Raini York of Dragonsbride infamy. Here’s kevvie pleasing for just a little help gaming the system for an author who tried to tell reviewers how to write an acceptable (for authors) review, amongst other things.

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Yes, he did good- or did he? The one thing kevvie and his mindless drones never think about is any other author. All those other authors that didn’t game the system in some way, didn’t cheat, didn’t try to make reviewers review to her specifications. All those other authors that might be better, in York’s case definitely better, than the one author they are determined to “lift up”. York withdrew her mess of a book and one of the reasons was that a lot of readers/reviewers were unhappy with kev’s upvoting campaign.

Kevvie doesn’t care about them, doesn’t want them to have a chance, kevvie is all about kevvie. These little campaigns are all about what he can do, not what the author in question needs.

You all remember Maggie Spence? She of the “making a phone call isn’t illegal”? This was where I first encountered kevvie/paro. (By the way, I’m not done with Maggie, I’ve got plenty of screenshots I don’t want to waste)

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He certainly knows how to whip up his little followers to an upvoting frenzy. How well did he do for Maggie?

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Now I wouldn’t say all of the mid to late August ratings are from his drones but I guess a large portion of them are. But Maggie’s book still isn’t any better and Maggie still thinks she did nothing wrong. How has any of his upvoting campaigns helped?

So, of the three authors kev has “lifted up” one is still a trainwreck, one has disappeared, one got less than twenty 5 star ratings. Wow. That’s some track record, color me unimpressed.

Should I mention how young a lot of these followers are? Yes.

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Better check who the kiddos are talking to and what they might be asked to do and who might be lying to them.

I think that’s enough on Whineberg for tonight. Did I say that karma’s a bitch? It bears repeating. Hey, kevvie,

KARMA IS A BITCH

One of my friends had this comment on his banning;

Yeah, this is good, too.

Is a banning from Amazon next?

 

You might want to read this, too.

Amazon sees to shut down paid review sites

[reblogged from Scarlet’s Web]

 

Amazon has sued four firms that pay people to produce reviews that then appear on the online retailer’s site.

The company alleges that the paid opinions “undermine” its review system which customers believe come from unbiased sources.

Amazon is seeking damages from the four sites and wants them to stop producing the reviews.

The four companies named in the legal complaint have not yet responded to Amazon’s allegations…..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-32251698

It boggles the mind: An update on arrogance, hypocrisy, and deceit

Last September I reblogged this excellent post by Linda Hilton, now Linda brings us an update.

 

Self-publishing author Sandy Nathan, who calls reviewers stupid and tells them how to review, who buys reviews and perhaps Amazon up-votes on fiverr, is a Vine Voice preferred reviewer on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Prayers-Heart-Year-Old/product-reviews/1499632401/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_2?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars&pageNumber=

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“Vine Voice” reviewers are selected by Amazon and invited into the program.  The invitation is based at least in part on the reviewer’s ranking, especially on how “helpful” their reviews are.  At least that’s what Amazon says; the actual process of selection remains . . . mysterious.

Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.  (http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help)

Since it’s very possible Sandy Nathan was buying “helpful” votes from fiverr sellers, was she essentially buying her way into the Vine program?  (Nathan has, apparently, been a Vine Voice reviewer since 2012, so it’s not likely she used fiverr votes to get into the program, but it’s possible.)

That “Vine Voice” label, along with other marks of Amazon reviewer status such as numerical ranking, implies a certain stamp of approval by Amazon that the review and the reviewer are somehow a little more credible than the average “Kindle Customer” or other screen name chosen by the reviewer.  After all, “Vine Voice” reviewers are chosen by Amazon,  One can’t apply to be a Vine Voice reviewer; there are no auditions.

Even if the review written isn’t of a Vine product, the review still shows the reviewer’s tag of “Vine Voice.”

I found Sandy Nathan’s above review quite by accident last night.  After the news of Amazon’s lawsuit against a supplier of fake product reviews was announced a few days ago, I went to check on some of the fiverr reviewers I’d tagged months ago.  Many had been removed from Goodreads, but none, not a single one, had ever been removed from Amazon.  I wasn’t the only person reporting them, but still, nothing happened.

So last night I just went to the Amazon.com page and keyed in the name of an author I knew had been buying fiverr reviews and who was himself a fiverr reviewer, Michael Beas.  You can see my Booklikes report on Mr. Beas’s relationship with fiverr here.

The first of Mr. Beas’s books to come up on Amazon was Reflections: Prayers from the heart of a 14 year old boy.  As I skimmed down through the reviews written for this book last summer and fall, I recognized a lot of the old familiar fiverr account names:  Chloe H, R. Coker, Stan Law (who bought lots and lots and lots of fiverr reviews).  I wasn’t shocked to see Sandy Nathan’s name, because I already knew she was affiliated with fiverr as a buyer of reviews and other stuff, and because I knew she wrote in a shall we say spiritual vein.

What did surprise me, however, was that “Vine Voice” seal of Amazon approval attached to her name.

In the wake of the recent lawsuit filed by Amazon against a company that sold “fake” product reviews, there’s been additional attention given to Amazon’s own policies on reviewing.

Two specific policies appear to apply to the Sandy Nathan “Vine Voice” situation.  I’ll address the second one first, since it’s more relative to what I’ve already posted.

 

Paid Reviews – We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.

The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact. Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

 

Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are designated by a green line (which I can’t personally verify because I didn’t take the time to go looking for a verified Vine Voice green lined review), but all reviews by a Vine Voicer receive that tag.  How many Amazon review readers are aware of the distinction?

Furthermore, however, if Amazon does not permit helpful votes to be purchased, what is their mechanism for verifying that?  How is anyone supposed to know that any given reviewer — Vine Voice or not — has achieved their ranking via legitimate votes or via purchased votes?

It should be noted, also, that fiverr.com has apparently cracked down somewhat on Gigs(r) openly offering such votes for sale, whether they are “like” votes on Facebook or Twitter or other sites, as they violate the Terms of Service on those sites.  No one has any way of knowing, of course, how many such votes anyone has already purchased.  Again, it is possible that Sandy Nathan purchased the votes that put her into the Vine Program and gave her reviews the added weight of credibility.

But there is another part of the Amazon review guidelines that applies to this situation.

  • Promotional Reviews – In order to preserve the integrity of Customer Reviews, we do not permit artists, authors, developers, manufacturers, publishers, sellers or vendors to write Customer Reviews for their own products or services, to post negative reviews on competing products or services, or to vote on the helpfulness of reviews. For the same reason, family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.

As an author, Sandy Nathan is not permitted by Amazon to post a negative review of a competing product.  Although Amazon used to specify that authors could not post negative reviews of other books in their own genre, the parameters were never spelled out.  Could an author of historical romances write negative reviews of contemporary romances?  Could an author of academic non-fiction write negative reviews of popular fiction?

As a Vine Voice reviewer, however, Nathan is supposed to be scrupulously honest.  Well, we should all be at least reasonably honest, but for those bearing the Vine Voice tag, you would think a higher level of honesty on reviews was in order.  Of course it is quite possible that Sandy Nathan reviewed Michael Beas’s because it’s in the same sortof spiritual category that she writes in, but she’s required by the Amazon guideline posted above to give a positive review . . . or none at all.  She can’t, if she wants to abide by the review guidelines, be honest.  And yet honesty is required of Vine Voicers.

Amazon has filed suit against a supplier of paid, fake reviews.  It looks like maybe Amazon should either stop throwing stones from their own glass house, or sue themselves.

Rachel Ann Nunes Needs Our Help- April Reminder

Once a month IScreenshot (5784)‘m going to post this because this author needs our help. If we can raise $40,000+ for Jane Litte we should surely be able to raise $25,000 for Rachel Nunes.

Rachel Ann Nunes has a new attorney and is proceeding with her case against plagiarist, Tiffanie Rushton.  Trials are expensive so here is the link to her GoFundMe. Help send a message that the book community will not stand for neither the plagiarism nor the attacks Rushton directed towards Nunes after she was found out. Read the timeline here.