Friday, December 30, 2005

Victoria Strauss -- Another Day, Another Cease & Desist

Got a second "cease & desist" notice the other night from a fee-charging agent whose company is one of those outfits that wrap themselves in a cloak of religion and Christian mission-speak, while taking advantage of writers. These deceptive operations abound in the Christian marketplace, and I find them especially reprehensible.

The very Godly owner of this company begins his second notice by saying "Maybe you don't get it..." and goes on to reiterate his charges that we've made "untrue and deceptive" statements about his company, accusing us of "acts of false advertising and misleading the public." We are instructed to immediately remove all statements about his company from our website, and to publish "a statement of apology prominently featured on your pertaining Website."

Um...well. We have documentation of this company's fee-charging, so saying that it charges fees is neither untrue nor deceptive. Actually, though, there's a more salient fact. Though we've provided info on the company's fees in response to private questions from writers, there are no statements about this company on the Writer Beware website. Not one. Anywhere.

So why's he so convinced we've defamed him publicly? Because he has us mixed up with another watchdog group (guess which one?). That's right. He's cease-and-desisting the wrong people. Talk about not getting it!

We don't feel that we have any obligation to enlighten him (and since he obviously hasn't visited the Writer Beware website, I'm not all that concerned he'll stumble on this post). I ignored his first message. On advice from counsel, I responded to his second message by instructing him to direct all future correspondence to my lawyer.

Proving what a mature and ethical individual he is, he trotted over to Amazon.com and posted a nasty and personally insulting one-star review of my latest book, The Burning Land. (Warning! Book plug alert!) Since he posts reviews under his company name, it was easy to figure out who was responsible (does he think I'm dumb or something?). I wrote to the nice folks at Amazon and the review was gone the next day. I wish now that I'd saved it--it was actually kinda funny. He obviously skimmed enough of the plot description to know that The Burning Land involves religious issues and questions of faith, but he seems to have missed the fact that the religion in the book is entirely a product of my imagination (though this is obvious from the other reviews) and assumed it was an anti-Christian screed. He accused me of, among other things, attempting to poison people's minds by promulgating bizarre and distasteful philosophies, and being a bitter and confused woman trying to work out my personal problems through fiction.

Gosh. I'm crushed. Simply flattened.

I'm going to go work out some more problems now.

20 comments:

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Your killin' me here! Can't you tell me who it is...e-mail me if you must!

Although I would never use a fee charging company, I have innocent friends who would be begiled by thinking a Christian speaking company was legit!

Jenna Glatzer said...

Victoria and Ann! You've been blogging for MONTHS and never told me? This is great stuff! Dave just announced your url on AW (thanks, Dave, if you read this). I'm gonna plug it in our next newsletter.

You both kick butt. Thanks for being my heroes. :)

Victoria Strauss said...

I'm sure I mentioned the blog in the Announcements topic at AW earlier this month...but this has been such a crazy time, maybe I only thought I did. Also, we've been keeping the blog somewhat under wraps till we found our feet--blogging is new for both of us and we wanted to feel more or less certain we weren't making a hash of things before we started announcing it.

Thanks, Jenna and Dave!

serenity said...

I was just referred to your blog not long ago, and thought I'd pop in and say hi and thanks for a good chuckle on this dreary, snowy afternoon. It seems nothing amuses me more these days than other people's irrationality. I'll certainly be back for more.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Bonnie, this is a puzzle. To solve it, you'll have to take the fifth. ;)

Lissa said...

A group of my blogging friends have received such nasty little letters on occasion.

They laughingly call them...

Season Duh Cyst letters

Ski said...

I've just found you and am I glad that I have. You two are going to heaven with your shoes on! What a great site. How generous of you to spend so much of your time and work so very hard for folks like us. What you produce is a site that is absolutely remarkable. I'll be back daily. I'm like a stray cat, feed me once and you'll never get rid of me.

Rgds..........Ski

Bonnie Calhoun said...

A fifth??? Of what--gin? Egads, I'm imitating MS!

Bernita said...

Used the old "hysterical woman" line, did he?
Tells you right there.

emeraldcite said...

What a schmuck...

You guys are great. Um...girls, rather :D

Dave Kuzminski said...

Bonnie, you didn't read the other note I left you on Miss Snark's site?

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Dave, if you don't e-mail me, I'm going to hunt you down and flip each and every letter key off of your keyboard!

Anonymous said...

I find your work reprehensible. You are a duplicitous group giving out one set of rules for one group, and sweeping them under the rug for your cronies. For example, an author recently told me that one of your "recommended" AAR agents charged her $900 dollars for copies. And the book was not sold. In fact, she wanted me to sell her book for free!! So much for your rules which you tout so prominently on all your sites about an AAR agent not charging anything until the book is sold. I'm supposed to work for nothing while he has the 900 in his pocket! Another "double standard" -- your RICHARD CURTIS so "highly and strongly recommended." He would not be at the top of his field today if he had not been charging reading fees to new authors for decades without harsh criticism from you. All those years of fee-charging swept under the rug. When I first began researching the field in the 80's he was charging to read a new author's book what I charge now for expenses for the whole year!!! I am villified on your sites for investing in a brochure to writers. Richard Curtis sent out his brochures before I was born! And on his site he lists ownership of a publishing company, while you absolutely destroy other agencies who you claim have publishing companies as a "conflict of interest." My what a tangled web we weave. Who pays your salaries to write this crap? Our competitors? Are you a 13 year old kid getting paid to write these lies and then claiming immunity so as not to be sued? The sites of those you persecute list their names, addresses and telephone numbers where they can be reached. I am assuming you folks don't list yours on your sites because then attorneys would know where to serve your court papers!!!

Dave Kuzminski said...

Boy, has this anonymous guy got his wires crossed. Shows just how much research he's actually done.

Victoria Strauss said...

A brochure. Hmmm. Dave, do you think that Anonymous could be Agent B? Although I can think of several fee-charging agents who use a brochure.

Hey Anonymous--sold any books lately?

I wish I did get a salary to write this stuff. I'm sure Ann and Dave would also enjoy being compensated. But we're easy. We do it all for free.

And by the way, my name, email address, and postal address are all prominently listed on Writer Beware. On the Index page, in fact. If you'd actually bothered to visit the website, Anonymous, you'd know that (but then you might not have posted such an entertaining comment).

Dave Kuzminski said...

Victoria, if a certain hybrid vanity publisher can find my address, I figure anyone else can who's sincerely interested in contacting me because my site features my name and an email address. They want more? They can use a search engine, presuming they have at least two brain cells to rub together and generate a spark of intelligence. ;)

A. C. Crispin said...

I can verify that my email address, and PO Box address are on my website.

There's no doubt in my mind that Anonymous is "Agent B." She's confusing us with Preditors and Editors, which is funny that she can't even keep her scam hunters straight.

Hey, Agent B, we've gotten so many whining complaints from you lately, I figure we've really hurt your little scam.

Can bankruptcy be far away? The sooner the better!

-Ann C. Crispin
www.accrispin.com

C.E. Petit said...

Dear "Anonymous":

Next time, check your own facts first.

(1) This is not Preditors and Editors. My clients Ms Crispin and Ms Strauss are not associated with P&E, except in that they operate in the same uncompensated role. The FBI certainly seems to appreciate their contributions… even if Martha Ivery doesn't.

(2) Both of these fabulous ladies have been commercially published authors for a lot more than 13 years, so they're more than 13 (unless you believe they got published in the womb). Of course, that's astounding in itself, as they're both in their late 20s.

(3) I have examined enough documentation of "Agent B"'s practices and conduct to be certain that the statements they have made about "Agent B" are supported by the facts. If you're copping to being "Agent B," that would be one more instance of dubious conduct to add to the already thick file.

(4) If you're so worried about finding Ann and Victoria, just go to my webpage. I'm their lawyer. I'll accept service at the address noted on my abbreviated c.v. Go ahead. Don' t'row me in dat dere courtroom, Br'er Fox; you just might have to put your reputation and conduct at issue in my home court (pun intended).

(5) So far as I have been able to determine, Mr Curtis never charged for what you're characterizing as "brochures." Yes, he did charge a reading fee, at a time when that was allowed by the AAR. When the AAR outlawed reading fees due to their potential—nay, standard practice—of abuse, he stopped. He has never charged annual representation fees, or anything comparable under another name. He also has a loooooooooong track record of actually placing works with commercial publishers, and continues to do so to this day.

I'd go on, but this is getting boring.

Mags said...

Oh my gosh. You mean Anonymous isn't a parody troll? This is a real fee-charging agent? I was giggling while reading it, assuming someone was having a bit of fun with you. The illiteracy and the comment "When I first began researching the field in the 80's he was charging to read a new author's book what I charge now for expenses for the whole year!!!" I thought marked it out as a parody. I can't believe this is REAL. I guess we got a taste of what the ladies of Writer Beware endure on a regular basis! Bless you both! (And Mr. Jaws as well)

Mags said...

And bless Dave Kuzminski, too! :) He puts up with a lot of abuse.