Just three days ago, on May 7, an issue was brought to my attention. It involves some of the former members of Austen Authors and a threat made to me. After talking with trusted associates and friends, and thoughtful consideration and prayer since made aware of the charges, I have decided the best course of action due to the serious nature is to respond publicly.
This threat to me, and by extension ALL authors who, for whatever reason real or perceived, come under attack by a bully, MUST NOT be kept in the shadows.
In brief, the issue has to do with the Austen Authors writing project Pride and Prejudice 200, which was published as The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote on December 5, 2013.
The split of the original Austen Authors in January 2014 was amicable to the public. Behind the scenes, it was the result of personal attacks, viciousness, and threats made to me by past members for months. Taking the high road, after the split, I blocked all email communication with these former members as they also made it clear they no longer wanted to correspond with me.
- Upon the split of the original Austen Authors group, all past promises, future plans, and email agreements were voided and nullified.
- There were never any formal contracts signed by me.
- Group writing projects aimed to benefit Austen Authors have been used elsewhere, and projects that were earmarked for my expenses in maintaining Austen Authors were never published.
- P&P200 was an Austen Authors project and the subsequent publication was designed to benefit Austen Authors, not another blog. Yet, this is what has transpired.
- The P&P200 anthology (The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote) was given to me for control of the publication from December 5 to 31 in 2013, and was republished in January 2014 by Abigail Reynolds as Austen Authors was in decline.
- Since the dissolution of Austen Authors I have had zero input, and all aspects of the business decisions, including earnings, have been beyond my control.
- My portions of The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote belong to me as the author and copyright owner. I gave permission to have them included in the current edition — for Austen Authors readers’ benefit — but requested in October 2014 to have them removed as soon as feasibly possible. (side-note: as of this posting, my request has not been realized)
- The royalty of $2526.27 for December 2013 (and received in March 2014) was handled by me, the sole remaining administrator of Austen Authors. This included paying the tax burden (approximately one-third), and, as per the original intent to aid causes dedicated to Jane Austen, partially defrayed my expenses for maintaining the Austen Authors website and donated to the Greater Louisville Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA).
- I did not reopen the closed channels of email communication to the former members who wished me personal harm. I am, however, at the same address and not beyond the ability to contact if the need significant.
Now, one year and five months later, the threats and personal attacks have renewed and escalated.
Over the last few days, Abigail Reynolds slandered my name to Regina Jeffers and involved three current Austen Authors — Joanna Starnes, Jeanna Ellsworth, and Elizabeth Ann West. She has labeled me a “thief” and is threatening my future as a published author.
She has informed Regina Jeffers that she intends to, “contact Amazon and they will block her selling privileges,” and that my unawareness of the situation has been, “interpreted as a choice to pocket the money.”
To Elizabeth Ann West the threat was extended: “…the only recourse is to report her to Amazon for copyright violation… they’d remove her rights to sell on Amazon and everyone associated with her would come in for close inspection.” Elizabeth Ann has expounded on her reaction to all of this in a personal blog posted today.
For my protection I pro-actively contacted Amazon and spoke at length with a customer service manager. They are aware of the potential threat to me and “everyone associated with me.” To be clear, the latter encompasses all of YOU in this loop.**
For full disclosure, I have attached the Facebook personal message transcripts below. The message to Regina Jeffers, and her forwarding the email from Abigail Reynolds that I did not receive, was the first I knew of this “issue.”
If Abigail Reynolds moves forward on her threats to make false claims of copyright violations against authors, I hope the JAFF community’s support can be counted on to restore the livelihoods of those attacked. This is a very serious matter that should concern ALL authors. Authors have been attacked in this way many times — here is a March 2015 story from The Active Voice: http://the-active-voice.com/2015/03/01/nolander-blocked-at-amazon-and-smashwords/
Thankfully Amazon authorities are becoming aware of such false attacks, the representative I spoke to today ensuring me they are investigating fully before acting swiftly. However, it remains a very real possibility that anyone can make a false claim of copyright violation, with Amazon and other venues removing books until the matter is resolved.
**The above message, exactly as published here, along with the attachments, has been sent to the 21 authors of The Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote, all of whom are, by association, also threatened.