The Authors Guild and the Trademark Fracas

Author Kevin Kneupper brought this to my attention on Twitter yesterday. This post is an absolute must read for everyone because, sooner or later, we’ll encounter some misguided author who firmly believes s/he can to pull a Faleena over a word or title and we all end up watching another boozy video by someone who thinks eliminating all competition is the pathway to fame and the #1 spot on the NYT best seller list.

And since I invoked her name, Faleena has reluctantly settled and is withdrawing her trademark applications. She made a (mercifully short) video where she plays the martyr (does she ever not ) and wistfully murmurs about trying to protect her family, the Cockers, who are fictional) and how she was brutally attacked for doing so.

Refresh my memory, wasn’t she the one sending out fake cease and desist letters to indie authors using the word “cocky” in their titles? Wasn’t she the one who managed to get Amazon to remove books using “cocky”? Wasn’t she the one that applied for a TM for the word cocky in a specified font that wasn’t hers to TM? But she’s the victim, riiiight.

Anyway, go read it and save the link somewhere for when you encounter the next Faleena or Michael Scott Earle.



Justin Tranchita, Church Ladies, and Happy Third To Me

 Today is the third anniversary of my blog. None of my lazy felines thought to buy or bake me a cake so I’ll just have to drink beer.

I have mostly given up performing but recently have given some consideration to going back to dancing but that would mean classes and costumes and rehearsals and that would mean far less reading. I like reading. Dancing is downright painful at times.

Yesterday, I got a chance to get back in front of a camera. What can I say? The idea of live performances still scares me but in front of a camera where you can repeat a scene over and over and over until the director is satisfied or you die from exhaustion I love. I love it. Not that I was the star. No, that honor goes to someone else.

Brian J. Trim & Spectrum Theatre Productions  based in Ann Arbor invited me and my BFF, Peggy, to  Whitmore Lake to participate in the filming of two scenes of the video for Saturday Night Beauty Queen by Justin Tranchita. Justin has a new album, American Man,  to be released early this year.

Peggy and I arrived in our Sunday 1960’s best because we needed to be church ladies of that era.  We looked suitably suitable. Brian had assembled a wonderful group of local people to fill the pews and wave arms in unison. It sounds easy but what it was was a vigorous, synchronized upper body workout. For 2-2.5 hrs we waved, smiled, looked prayerful, looked shocked and scandalized, and swiveled our heads on cue.

Justin and Makenzi Cochran arrived about halfway through after filming earlier at a different location. And we repeated the waves, smiles, etc with them now adding their parts.

We broke for lunch and Justin thanked us all for our efforts. He was very charming, funny,  and a pleasure to work with as was Makenzi. We all lunched together then Justin graciously posed for pictures with any of us who asked (and we weren’t shy about asking!).

Most participants left but a few of us stayed for a scene that involved cards, a cane, and a very funny chase scene. I want to thank June who taught the rest of us at the table how to play Dummy Rummy. So for three hours we played cards (sort of), laughed, and reacted on cue. Brian ran a tight production, and things moved fast but had to be filmed from here, there, and everywhere.

Finally it was done and we dragged our tired selves home. I want to do it again.

Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Justin. Thank you, Dear Readers.

The highly anticipated  Saturday Night Beauty Queen debuts on #CMCHAT with Jessica Northey on Jan. 25.

And now, pictures.


Justin got to drive this 1967 Mustang.


Brian J Trim – producer, director, actor


Part of the crew


Eminently respectable Church Lady (I do not photograph well)


Who is that handsome man? Could it be Justin Tranchita? (the Church Lady II)






Immortalized in Pigeon

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I’ve decided that my handsome little friend needs a name. He’s a discerning little bird, and an expert on pigeon, uh, excrement.

I’ve decided he must be a he, for a close up shot like this I think a female would have had a little gloss on her beak and a little liner to accentuate those gold eyes. So my pigeon is a male. If I have a pigeon expert in my followers feel free to tell me if I’m wrong. (Annie Rice is now telling her people of the Page there’s only 9 or 10 of you so we’ll not be posting pictures of our end of summer party, that would seriously agitate the old girl)

I wanted to give him a name but not just any name, one that would show how I honor those special self-published authors. You, dear readers, know the ones I am referring to. And then, like a post popping up on Amazon, it came to me.

(drumroll please)


And now, the moment you all have been waiting for, meet-

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Further Adventures in Margoland

Eat, Drink and Remarry: Confessions of a Serial Wife - Margo Howard“There was something else about my column that was unusual:  my stuff went straight to the Tribune lawyers to be vetted. Dr. David Reuben, for example, author of Everything  You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), threatened to sue me if I ever wrote about him again. All I had said was that his Q & A format read like a cross between Helen Gurley Brown and Popular Mechanics, that I found his to be a cutesy-Kinsey approach, and that his competitiveness with other authors regarding sales struck me as unseemly”-  Margo Howard, Eat, Drink and Remarry

She can dish it out but evidently can’t take it.

Finally she decided to divorce her cold, distant, alcoholic, cheating husband. There was an interlude with PIs and cameras and Howard tracking #1 down to the house of the other woman and how said PIs were impressed with her calm behavior after they left the scene of the dirty deed.

So now you might be thinking the divorce was on, right? We-ell, it yes and no, the lawyers had hammered out all the necessary agreements for children and finances and #1 begs for another chance “for the children”. Does our plucky heroine say oh hale no? Not hardly. Howard figures WTH and moves to his little large Tudor in the country for the summer, after all it wouldn’t mess with the financial agreement.  Nothing changed, except her address for a few weeks, and she returned to finalize the divorce.

At last. This woman is slooooww. Oh, she gave #1’s $15,000 camera to one of her elevator men because fuck you #1 and she didn’t need to sell it, money was no problem.

Okay, money seems to be a big problem because she keeps telling us, one way or another, how it isn’t. She has this thing about money, she can’t stop talking about it. And name dropping, yeesh. I think it is fascinating that she met so many well known or important people but the way she writes it is more like “I know all these people and you don’t”.

Howard waxes something or other as she tries to write off her first marriage as good experience for when she became an advice columnist. Somehow I just feel we haven’t come to the end of her bad decisions.

So she finally, finally is shed of #1 and is finally happy and has a “generous monthly allowance” (see what I mean about the money talk?). What’s next? A wedding of someone she grew up with and a meeting with his cousin, Gene Siskel. I regret that I’m not keeping count of the names but there has been Humphrey, Kennedy, and Stevenson. Dr. Bob Stolar, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, George Smathers, Wayne Morse, bought a house from Henry Marcus, Don Budge, Jonas Salk, Tish Baldrige was a neighbor, Arnie Morton, Hank Bradford, Gene Siskel. Notice anything? Yeah, at a quick glance so far only one woman on the “drop list”.

So she connects with Gene, they talk, and he introduces her to his editor and Howard starts writing pieces for the Sunday features section of the Tribune and now we are back to my opening paragraph.

Three more husbands to go.


[reblogged from Spare Ammo]

Kids Today-The Joe Gazzam Story

You all are familiar with Joe Gazzam and his spamming as a twelve year old girl, right? If not, try Shelby’s blog and her other blog,  this blog by 1st Avenue and  Cameron’s Utube video. It seems that Joe wanted to promote his book and the best way to do it was as a girl or several girls. I am not sure why he thought this might be a good idea.

My review of his book, Uncaged. I posted that on the 7th and today in my GRs mail I find this:


I’m hesitant to write this as I’m afraid you might misinterpret my tone as aggressive, when I don’t mean to be.  If it weren’t for my niece, I wouldn’t risk it, but here it goes.  I don’t think Cameron is a bad guy or means to hurt anyone.  Nor do I think you are.
But you are hurting people.  Someone in particular.
The 12 year old that wrote a glowing review for my book was…a 12 year old.  She is my niece.  Her mother is very strict, hyper conservative in extremely weary of the internet.  Thus, she is not allowed on Facebook and not allowed to post pics on anything.
So, she joined goodreads and pulled a pic off the internet to use as her sig pic.  Just like half the people on Goodreads use pics off the internet and not their own.   Unless there really are vampires on this site.  Now, she then did go overboard and messaged a bunch of people telling them to check out the book.  I believe so much that she was marked as spam and kicked off.
I had no knowledge of this.  Was I mad about it?   To be honest, no.  How mad could I be?  She was trying to help.  I was actually flattered and honestly though that was the end of it.
Problem is Cameron, without any facts, without any knowledge whatsoever — assumed the worse.  He decided that it had to be me — the author — who was doing it.  But it wasn’t.  The conclusion he jumped to led to a bunch of really, reallllllly creepy attacks on me.  And then all of his friends — assuming Cameron was acting on fact — joined in.
Again, I can take it, I’m a grown up.  Problem is — my niece now knows about it.  She still goes on this site and has seen all the attacks. She literally was crying to my sister the other night.  This is a 12 year old who thinks she’s the cause of all this stuff.
Again, I don’t think Cameron is a hateful guy.  He actually seems like a pretty nice guy.  But you can’t make accusations like this on a hunch.  You can really hurt people.
Anyway, I hope my tone came off okay, you never know when you are writing.  I would send this to Cameron, but ironically, he doesn’t accept messages.  If you would pass it along, I would appreciate it.  If he wants to talk to me personally, I will call him to discuss.
I’ll try and send this note to a couple other people as well, hopefully it registers.
Thanks for listening.  Take care.

Joe had reached out to me. It’s a nice post, isn’t it? One polite post deserves another, my reply:

I will consider your post but-12 yr old are not allowed on GRs. At all. So if this all is true and I am not dismissing you without more consideration, your sister, the strict mother, violated GRs TOS by letting her daughter on this site.

” This Service is intended solely for Users who are thirteen (13) years of age or older, and any registration, use or access to the Service by anyone under 13 is unauthorized, unlicensed, and in violation of this Agreement. If you are under 18 years of age you may use the Service only if you either are an emancipated minor or possess legal parental or guardian consent, and are fully able and competent to enter into the terms, conditions, obligations, affirmations, representations, and warranties set forth in this Agreement, and to abide by and comply with this Agreement.”

The easiest solution to this then is for your niece to stop visiting this site. Age limits are there for a reason. But I will give your post more consideration.

I did give Joe’s post consideration, I considered it right into a an email to GRs customer service. Because I have a few problems with Joe’s post to me, let’s start with this:

“The 12 year old that wrote a glowing review for my book was…a 12 year old.  She is my niece.  Her mother is very strict, hyper conservative in extremely weary of the internet.  Thus, she is not allowed on Facebook and not allowed to post pics on anything.”

Aside from the obvious mistakes in construction, Joe would like me to believe that a very strict, hper conservative, internet wary, I assume it is wary that he meant, mother would allow her daughter to create an illegal account on a website that I am assuming she would know next to nothing about and then let her roam free to spam until she got banned for doing so. And then she then returned to GRs under another account and is now “crying to her mother”, whatever that means.

All of us who had strict mothers raise our hands. I ask you all, would you have been able to pull this off? Not only would I not have been able to I shudder to think of the consequences of getting caught. And I had a healthy respect for the rules, children generally do.

But it seems that Joe’s niece doesn’t have to worry about any of that and since Joe is pleading for me to change my review it must be because she will be returning to read my gentle gibe again? Why, yes, ” She still goes on this site and has seen all the attacks. ” Oh, Joe, rest easy, she won’t be returning because I complained to GRs that it is not my problem if an underage child of a very strict, hyper conservative, internet wary mother creates a second  account, violating the TOS yet again, was upset by my review. GRs takes a dim view of these activities.

Dear readers, all three of you, if you detect a slight note of skepticism on my part for Joe’s story, I must sincerely apologize. I do not have the slightest bit of skepticism, I think Joe is lying like a cheap Wal-Mart rug. I do not think Joe can take getting one star reviews and/or people talking about his little masquerade(s), I think Joe is handling this, or mishandling this, in a manner that would have that niece of his rolling her eyeballs at the great lameness of Uncle Joe.

“But you are hurting people.  Someone in particular.” Yes, Joe, but the only person you’re hurting is yourself.

Of Plagiarism-the past in the present

 “Ignorance of law and ethics is no excuse, however. Plagiarism victimizes writers. It betrays the trust of readers. It tarnishes the craft of writing.” Paul Tolme from From Janet Dailey to Cassie Edwards-Newsweek’s evolving views on plagiarism in romance novels.

Screenshot (697)Stahl and Spangelmaker9

I thought I had said all I wanted to say but Stahl has managed to  enrage me a little more. Stahl has issued a long letter to her fans about the terrible, terrible time in September when she was wrongly accused of plagiarism. Please also read Fangirl’s blog here. Stahl laments the cruel accusations and offers the excuse that of course her work resembles that of other writers because there are no new ideas and we all use the same language and have some of the same experiences so, yeah, her writing would be “similar” to other authors.

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If this is true then how come all these blogs about Stahl’s plagiarism are not eerily alike? Are we not sharing the same experience?

” It astonishes me that in this day and age, people can still get away with passing someone else’s work off as their own, and be very successful. I’m not suggesting that each romance novel should be a work of great literature. I don’t like eating my vegetables very much, either. I’m not expecting all that much originality, either. I like reading romance novels because I always know what to expect. Without the formula, the genre wouldn’t work. However, there are hundreds of writers out there who work within that formula to tell love stories that stir up emotions and capture my interest, and they do it using their own words. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” Merrie Frisbie

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Yes, but:

“Yeah, the problem with this line of defense that she’s taking is that I never said she stole my story or even my ideas. Everything Changes does not have the same plot as The Art Teacher. She stole MY EXACT WORDS, lifting whole passages, just changing the names and the tense (TAT is written in present tense, Everything Changes is past tense), and shoehorning my words into her own scene. Half the time it didn’t even work well, since the scene I wrote containing those words was about something entirely different than hers. As I read through Everything Changes looking for all of my work, I stumbled on a passage that I could tell wasn’t hers. The wording, the sentence structure, the prose style, just jumped out as not belonging with what came before (it was also way better than what came before, but that’s for another post). I knew it wasn’t mine, but I also suspected it wasn’t hers. I screencapped it and tweeted it and within ten minutes someone had identified it as coming from The Practicum by The Fic Chick. She can’t claim she was just “influenced” by things she’d read (especially since when she was originally confronted about this, she claimed to have never read any of the fics involved). Influence means there are similar plot points or themes. We’re talking about exact wording.”  –Spanglemaker9

Screenshot (695)Stahl and Spangelmaker9

Um, yeah.

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Won’t someone think of the children? Are you kidding me, Stahl? Maybe you should have thought about them when you were “writing” your books.

“Yeah, that part made me particularly ragey. I’ve been very mature, keeping my mouth shut about her, filing a nice, proper C&D like I was supposed to, and then she says that. I wasn’t going public with anything until she did that. Gloves off, lady” –Spanglemaker9

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“If and when” she writes again? Shouldn’t that read, never mind, she’s going to write again, no if about it.

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No, not really. Stahl may regain a following but like other authors before her the story and the stigma of plagiarism will follow her for the rest of her writing career.

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Screenshot (692)Stahl and Spangelmaker9

And every author who knows about you will be diligently checking your work just in case you miss something.

Stahl talks about receiving insults, threats, death threats  but, like Fangirl, I have never seen any. I never saw anyone mention her child/children. I never knew she was married or that her husband had been in a very bad accident. And with this Stahl sent my mind on a trip down memory lane.

That quote at the beginning is as true for Stahl as it was for the late Janet Dailey. Dailey was caught out plagiarizing from Nora Roberts. Both of these authors were true powerhouses of writing so it was a tremendous shock to find Dailey lifting passages from Roberts. Dailey never really acknowledged her responsibility instead blaming it on a series of deaths and illness in her family.

Screenshot (691)Stahl and Spangelmaker9

Dailey was maybe the first author I can remember who tried to deflect the public’s attention from her bad acts to her personal life in a bid for sympathy, much like Stahl is doing now. And it seems that Stahl is making it work for her.

“For someone to target an innocent child and wish death on another person over fiction is totally wrong on so many levels.  To think that another MOTHER may have done it is even worse.  I’m so sorry that this happened to you.”

“I doubt that Nora Roberts will ever forget the pain and betrayal she must have felt at having her mind robbed, and I will always feel shame that I looked up to someone so undeserving.” -Merri Frisbie, from the same article linked above

” Ms. Stahl….I just read of your plight and as an avid reader I am so sorry this witch hunt has taken place. I am also ashamed that fellow readers and other human beings found it acceptable to become bullies. It is disgusting that anyone would take to harassing you, your family and most disturbingly A CHILD.. I HOPE those making the accusations can 100% PROVE those accusations IN COURT because… IF I were you… money, and every waking moment of my life would be spent from this point forward perusing each and every person who publicly accused me of theft and or harassed me, my family and my child.  ESPECIALLY those that come here to your fb page and make those open statements without irrefutable PROOF. It truly disgusts me to see just how far humanity has fallen. And those casting those stones need to take some cover…KARMA…doesn’t like ugly. Good luck to you Ms. Stahl. Hold your head high, keep writing. I will certainly read your books.”

Screenshot (689)Stahl and Spangelmaker9

First of all, the child was not harassed;  I do believe that it might come to a court case , something that must be giving Stahl a few sleepless nights; there is plenty of proof but you have to look for it, Stahl isn’t going to post it on her FB page; humanity, in the form of Stahl, has fallen to the point of stealing other’s work; KARMA, yeah, Stahl is gonna need some luck to avoid that.

“Unless you personally have legitimate proof that she did anything wrong you should just be quiet.  Why come to this page and start your harassment all over again?   Cowards who go after someone and their family with threats are disgusting and you should all be thinking of that instead of bashing someone that is being presumed guilty before she has a chance to defend herself.  Grow up people.”

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Once again, I say that you have to go and look. But you notice that these posters are outraged by the unseen threats and harassment Stahl claims she and her family was subjected to. This is paramount. This is the point of Stahl’s letter, it is all about her, her suffering, her pain. The cause, her plagiarism, is almost ignored because posters claiming this haven’t brought proof with them.

I could say that Stahl’s fans have had since SEPTEMBER to look around and read all the information posted but what is obvious to most of us seems to be beyond their mental capabilities. How can you not want to know everything being said, not want to see the evidence?

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There is talk of a court case, I don’t know for sure, but from the posts I’ve seen I think Stahl is in a very bad position. Even if it never goes to court this will be attached to her name forever. Stahl will never be able to shake it. She isn’t a name like Edwards or Dailey, this will hinder her success.

Wherever she goes, whatever she does as an author she will never be sure that that her audience isn’t thinking about plagiarism and who really wrote her latest book.

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And may you receive everything that you deserve, Ms Stahl.

The Mystifying Fandom of Shey Stahl

“One man’s paraphrasing is another’s man’s plagiarism”. -Amos Lassen, after he was banned from Amazon for plagiarizing reviews.


verb \ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz also -jē-ə-\

: to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas   -Merriam Webster online dictionary

In September it was revealed that author Shey Stahl had lifted a significant portion of her newest book, For the Summer, from the popular fanfiction, Dusty. The review was a model of tact and diplomacy never once calling Stahl a plagiarist but listing several passages from both books and letting the readers draw their own conclusions.

For the authors of Dusty there was only one conclusion: Stahl had plagiarized their book. It wasn’t the first time Stahl had had difficulties with appropriating other’s work. As an author of fanfic she had been at the center of controversy in that community. Links to the September event and other are here, here, here, and here. Lots of interesting reading detailing how very busy Stahl had been publishing other author’s work as her own.

While Stahl denied any wrong doing, more instances were coming to light. Amazon pulled her books. Authors were demanding answers. Stahl deleted her Twitter and Facebook pages and disappeared from sight.

And now she is back, without an apology or an explanation. Not that many are surprised by this, it was a given that she would return. Authors beware.

What bothers me most isn’t Stahl’s reappearance but her fans reactions:

“Soooooooo GLAD you are back…you know we all have a girl (author) crush on you! Shey Stahl ROCKS!!”

“Holy hell! What a sight for sore eyes!!! Please tell me you are back for good!!!”

 “Haters are going to hate, friends are forever”ch

That’s depressing. How can you not understand what Stahl has done? To use the example I really hate, let’s say that Dusty is YellowBella’s child. Stahl has kidnapped Dusty and changed her name to Summer. She has also dressed her in different clothes, dyed her hair, and pierced her ears. But none of that matters, Dusty is still not Stahl’s child. Stahl has committed a crime, and no matter how good a mother you think she is, that isn’t her child. You can still love the mother, just love the real mother.

For poster #1:  That author crush you have is for all the authors Stahl stole from. It’s their work you liked, their ideas. Stahl only changed a few words and took your money for their efforts.

For poster #2:  We all knew she would be back. The lure of all those authors she hasn’t ripped off, the fans like yourself who will pay her for ripping them off, the approval you are giving to a woman who has no compunction about stealing from her own is irresistible.

For poster #3:  And friends tell their friends when they have committed a crime, friends are the people who tell you all the things you don’t want to hear. Toadies, suckups, and morally bankrupt fanpoodles are the ones who tell a common thief how glad they are she is back without mentioning that she should be apologizing and making restitution.