Not quite an update (EC v DA)

13 Oct

(edited to add links and stuff at the end–apologies)

In no particular order:Ellora's Cave sues Dear Author

Courtney Milan has a new blog post in the vein of #notchilled, wherein she discusses why, exactly, it makes absolutely not sense for a company that is having cash flow issues to sue anyone, but particularly not a) a lawyer, b) someone who is well-known and generally well-respected in their community, and c) someone who is both committed to stand their ground and who has the means–by themselves and/or with the support of said community–to do so.

You can get some schmo of a lawyer to file a barely competent complaint for very little money–my guess would be under $5,000. And this is not always a terrible tactic (in the economic sense; it can be morally bankrupt even if economically sensible), because most people don’t have the money to respond to a lawsuit and so they back down very easily.

Winning a lawsuit defended by competent counsel is a completely different affair. [1]

This analysis validates what some of us have been saying for a while: Tina Engler/Jaid Black is not precisely business savvy, regardless of the earlier success of Ellora’s Cave.


Then again, the fact that TE/JB does not know how to run a business efficiently has been evident for a while. Going by previous online rumours and more recent comments left in The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave post, we know that she put all the financial stuff in the hands of a young woman with no education or experience in those matters. Doing so gave TE/JB a great excuse for any mistakes, delays and other assorted snafus related to money mismanagement.

A few examples (with screenshots at the end):

Better Left Unsaid, who claims to have worked for EC for many years, remarked:

I suppose one could expect this sort of behavior from a company who named their uneducated-simple-minded cleaning lady… CFO of the entire business! This is not a joke, a lie or an exaggeration!!! (She actually obtained her GED while in this position… (in my opinion She prolly should have stuck to running vacuums and not FINANCES)

Adam, who left a much longer first comment, also said:

Ms. Engler has often used Ms. Thomas’ education as an excuse, and I, personally witnessed her referring to Ms. Thomas, not as simple minded, but a much worse term. Her education and intelligence was besmirched. Ms. Engler used this as an excuse why people were not being paid in a timely manner & why royalties were not correctly calculated. She finally, after tremendous pressure, helped facilitate Ms. Thomas’ GED studies & education in accounting, but Ms. Thomas had been in charge of the financials for some time without possessing a high school diploma or any relevant experience.

Whilst I found Ms. Thomas to be a delightful young woman, I questioned, many times, what qualifications Ms. Thomas had to be responsible for such complex accounting methods, as she was, at that time, Ms. Engler’s former housekeeper, who had not yet attained her GED, & was solely & directly responsible for the monetary handling of millions.


I’m disappointed that Marc Randazza is linking to the truly awful piece of shit published on The Daily Dot, though I’m guessing the reason is that the person who wrote it actually contacted him so he feels somewhat obligated. All the same, I’ve left him a comment asking him to rethink this, though said comment is pending moderation:

There is a much better account on TechDirt, which a) has accurate information on the blog in question, and b) doesn’t doxx Jane Litte multiple times throughout. See “Erotica Publisher Sues Blogger For Exposing Its Financial Problems”

If you are interested, that much better, and actually accurate account, can be found here.


Sunita has a post on the increasing toxicity of twitter–though I’ll go one further and call most of social media toxic when one indulges without filters or moderation. Among other points, the actual benefit of hashtag activism–in this particular case, #notchilled–is called into question.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m neither on twitter or on facebook, though I have been following #notchilled since Courtney Milan started it. Up until the asshole Nut showed up, and barring a few misguided posts–the occasional bookspam and such–I thought the twitter discussion helped connect people affected by the lawsuit. Readers, authors, cover artists, bloggers, editors, with or without direct ties to Ellora’s Cave, could find a wealth of information regarding what other people were facing, what was successful or not in regaining the rights to their works, what actions they could take, whether they would be safe from Ellora’s Cave demand to know the identity behind the anon commenters in the original post, etc.

Once the sockpuppet account was created, things went downhill in a hurry. People kept replying to it, which gave it visibility, despite the fact that the asshole kept. doxxing. Jane.  Not long after that, someone created a satirical account which mocked the first. Once people stopped paying attention to it, a second satirical account popped up. Neither these mocking accounts, nor the many replies to the Nut are doing anything positive for Jane, for Dear Author, or for freedom of speech. What they are doing, though, is raising the noise to signal ratio.

It is my hope that those who are still engaging with realize this and either drop the hashtag or use it in the spirit it was first created.

However, because I’m a cynic, I ain’t holding my breath.


Lynn Connolly, one of the hundreds of Ellora’s Cave who are alarmed by plummeting royalties and draconian changes in policy, has so far three posts on her experiences up at her blog: Ellora’s Cave, Back from the Cave, and her October Newsletter. She’s calm and measured in her assessment, very much worth reading.


Edited to add: This morning I forgot to mention that some people, notably author Ann Somerville, believe that the people behind the Nut tweeter are the same conscienceless assholes behind the STGRB, what with the repeated doxxing for a week now. I see her point, and yet, because of the obvious and oft repeated claim not to be associated with Ellora’s Cave, combined with the equally repeated–and false–claim that everyone who contributed to the Jane Litte/Dear Author defense fund is now a co-defendant (or, as she calls it, “in-actively participant” *snort*) in the lawsuit, are transparent attempts to intimidate all of those Ellora’s Caves authors who are currently under contract, I am more convinced than ever that it is Tina Engler herself, or someone directly under her orders.

The crazy is too similar, in my opinion, to TE/JB’s kind of crazy to be anyone else.


Finally, I have just become aware of this post by ex-EC author Emily Ryan-Davis:

If you see a book with my name on it, and the cover says “Ellora’s Cave” or the publisher says “Ellora’s Cave” please don’t buy it. I will not be paid.

Does that mean there is a possibility EC is still marketing Ms Ryan-Davis’ titles? *shrug* I wouldn’t put it past the company, frankly, but I have no evidence one way or another.



EC v DA - Better Left Unsaid on CFO


EC v DA - Adam on CFO

Legal Satyricon - comment in moderation

4 Responses to “Not quite an update (EC v DA)”

  1. Lori 13/10/2014 at 3:35 PM #

    Sunita’s post and the responses to it make me feel slightly ill.

    • azteclady 13/10/2014 at 5:35 PM #

      Sunita does have a way of making one stop and think, doesn’t she?

      As I wrote over there, I think that it is valuable to continue keeping track of the situation regularly as the lawsuit progresses. If TE/JB “doubles down” (which is likely, because batshit crazy), this may last a while.

      Maintaining a frenzy over that is not only impossible, but it would be truly unhealthy. Yet allowing it to skip under the radar would be, I think, unconscionable.

      Too many bloggers, reviewers, readers–let alone authors, etc.–are already afraid of being sued by someone with a grudge and money to blow (or even someone who ostensibly has no money to pay more urgent bills *cough*), simply because we believe we have a right to express our opinions.

      • Lori 13/10/2014 at 8:17 PM #

        I wonder if the best thing people can do, besides donate, is to link to the original blog post again and again. That’s what she wants silenced so don’t let it disappear.

      • azteclady 13/10/2014 at 8:30 PM #

        I believe that would help, yes.

        I also believe that writing up our own pieces on EC, based on what we know, with plenty of linkage/screenshots, and phrased as opinion–which is protected speech–would help as well.

        But I am not a lawyer nor do I play one online, so each person should do as s/he believes best.

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