I hate eating my words.

26 Mar

I. fucking. hate it.

Sometimes, however, there is little choice but to do so.

A quick timeline of my part of this growing quagmire.

On Tuesday March 24th, Jane Litte posted this letter to the Dear Author blog readership. In it, she came out as author Jen Frederick.

I was very, very, very surprised to learn this. I’m probably a proper imbecile, because it just never occurred to me. Did I mention I was surprised by this?

Other people apparently were a lot less shocked.

My first reaction was of glee, and my first comment in that thread reflected that.

Of course, the internet being what it is (i. e., full of people), vitriol towards Jane/Jen started flowing pretty damn quickly. At least some of it is, whatever the people dishing it out may say, sour grapes,¹ so I dismissed it immediately–consider the source and all that.

Of course, being the mouthy rabblerouser that I am, I also wanted to write my piece–posted on Wednesday March 25th–to expand upon that comment at Dear Author and jab at certain people at the same time.

Which meant reading a bit more.

I saw SLWendy’s post and it gave me some pause–an uncomfortable feeling, if you will, that I did not take the time to examine as closely as I should have. I saw Courtney Milan’s delayed reaction on twitter, and felt the same vague discomfort.

Still, I finished writing my post fairly late that night, feeling confident I knew enough to reiterate my original reaction and support of Jane/Jen in the face of the inevitable backlash. At that point I thought that a lot if not most of said backlash was a) still to come, and b) going to be baseless.

Here is where I start eating my words.

*

Because the more I thought about the implications of both Wendy’s and Courtney Milan’s concerns, the more acute my discomfort.

Perhaps because I’ve never been paid for reviewing anything anywhere, or because I disclosed my short stint as Ann Aguirre’s beta reader and later virtual assistant pretty much on the spot, some of the implications of allowing mentions of Jen Frederick’s books in “best of” lists on Jane Litte’s own blog didn’t immediately occur to me.

(Then again, I tend to skim and then ignore those lists on the rare occasions I actually click on them.)

Upon reflection, those implications are now glaringly obvious: thousands of readers visit Dear Author every day.

Do your math on potential purchases resulting from one of Dear Author’s reviewers praising a Jen Frederick book.

As you do the math, keep in mind that, if readers who sought out and then bought that one Jen Frederick book because Kati D pointed them at it, and then they liked it, it’s quite likely those readers also bought other Jen Frederick books.

This is what readers do; this is the whole point of reader/reviewer recommendation lists: readers want to find the next author to glom.

*

The situation is stickier if–as it seems–Kati D knew that one of the books she was de facto pimping was Jane’s.

Color me naïve, but I’m still not one hundred percent certain Kati D knew at that point that Jen Frederick is Jane Litte.

Allow me to expand on that: I have beta read for a handful of authors and I have no clue whether or not they are also bloggers under a different name, or my neighbors, or an old lady living in Thailand with seven cats. (Nota bene: at no point have I reviewed any of the stories I’ve beta read.)

So from where I sit? It is possible Kati D just didn’t know then.

For all I know, Kati D is an innocent casualty here, and if so, she’s likely not the only one.

Sadly, now I don’t know that I could believe either Jane or Kati on this issue.

*

Mentioning her own book–even one co-written with someone else–in a Daily Deal post is worse in my eyes. Not only because of the promotion/potential financial gain, but because Jane could never claim ignorance about Jen Frederick’s real identity.

Bad form–from anyone.

From a blogger who has relentlessly campaigned for transparency, it’s really bad form.

Interviewing her co-author, Jessica Clare, in a podcast that includes mentions of their joint project, without revealing her own involvement? (transcript part one, and transcript part two)

Boggles. the. ever. loving. mind.

Would that this was the worst of it.

It’s not, by a very long chalk.

*

Later on Wednesday I saw that Willaful has withdrawn herself as a reviewer from Dear Author. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, and it’s none of my business in any case. I believe that she has already shared publicly what she feels comfortable sharing.

And what she has shared tells me that things don’t smell so good in Denmark.

Namely, in the comments on Wendy’s post, this link to The Passive Voice.

Ann Somerville is quick to point out that “The Passive Voice has a massive grudge against” Dear Author. Janet/Robin Reader agrees. This may or may not be true–I don’t know because I don’t read that blog/website with any frequency and I’ve already wasted enough hours of my time reading the comment thread for that one post.

However, I certainly didn’t see anyone at Dear Author complaining about The Passive Voice’s coverage and support for the blog when Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author and Jane Litte.

Which they did on the DailyDot article, by the by (do-not-link, link)

(By the by: if anyone did see anyone associated with Dear Author complaining about The Passive Voice’s coverage, would you be so kind as to provide linkage, screenshots, source? If it’s there, I’ll grudgingly eat some more of my words. Thanks.)

Back to the Passive Voice post.

Holy what the actual fuck, people.

*

No, it’s not the pearl clutching–being capable of feeling two or more contradictory impulses at once (amazing, I know), I believe that the person who wrote the post can be angry because of the deception, feeling betrayed by a well-known reviewer’s intrusion in what should have been authors-only spaces, and still wish Jane Litte/Jen Frederick success.²

It’s the fact that Jane Litte-as-Jen Frederick belonged–was invited? asked to be included? who the hell knows at this point!–to authors-only loops. In some of those authors-only spaces, Jane Litte-as-Jen Frederick interacted with authors who have been vocal about their negative opinion of…Jane Litte or of Dear Author or of both Jane Litte and Dear Author.

But even authors who love Jane Litte and Dear Author, and have never been anything but cordial with her, behaved in those loops under a specific expectation: that those were authors-only spaces.

Not, as has been claimed, “safe” spaces. There is a difference.

And lets be clear: what we say, and how we say it, when we have an expectation of privacy is vastly different than what we share publicly. Anyone out there who pretends that there is nothing they say privately that they wouldn’t say openly, that they have never had email discussions that they want to keep private–regardless of why–is lying. To herself and to everyone around her.

So yes, all those authors who had their coffee yesterday morning with a side of “holy shit, what the fuck did I say about (fill in the blank) while one of the best known and most influential reader bloggers in my target market was listening?” has every right to feel betrayed and ambushed and, yes, catfished.

(From the Urban Dictionary, “To be deceived or lead on by someone on any social network, or chat session who’s claiming to be someone or something they’re not,” among others.)

*

It gets worse still.

Jane Litte is a lawyer. There is no way in hell that she didn’t realize the ethical breach taking place every time she participated in those conversations and didn’t disclose her identity.

If the justification for not disclosing her identity to authors is that she wanted to succeed without using the enormous platform that is Dear Author’s audience, then she should have recused herself from those loops.

It is not as if, as a blogger, Jane Litte hadn’t learned enough about publishing to actually need the insider’s perspective gained from Jen Frederick’s participation in authors-only spaces.

As has been said in several places, if anyone else had done what’s described in the post at The Passive Voice, Jane Litte and Dear Author would have been among the first to cry foul–and everyone who has been around this part of the internet knows that that would have been just the beginning. The dogpile would have been visible from space.

And many of us who are now forced to examine and unpack our first joyful reaction to Jane’s letter yesterday would have been party to it–because we trusted Jane.

*

Much is being made by some of the fact that the letter was written anonymously and that many of the comments agreeing with the sentiment are also anonymous. As anyone who has read Dear Author at least since the Ellora’s Cave bullshit started can tell you, that right there is irony indeed.

Are you fucking kidding me?

If the letter is suspect because it was posted as “anonymous commentary,” and the allegations untrue, please show me where Jane Litte/Jen Frederick categorically states that she didn’t participate in authors-only loops as Jen Frederick while keeping her Jane Litte identity a secret from the other members of those loops.

Oh wait, no one can, because Jane Little/Jen Frederick admitted as much when she responded to my comment:

Jane as Jen in authors' spaces

 

In light of the many discussions of non-apologies that have floated about romance reading blogs in the past decade, that last sentence is…

Well.

*

And no, I don’t know how she could apologize that would make it all better, or even a bit less dismal, because the next downward step, and the one that matters the most to me, is how Jane Litte-as-Jen Frederick’s own less-than-transparent and less-than-commendable actions are being used, by two different groups of people who do have axes to grind,  to undermine Dear Author’s and Jane Litte’s courageous stance in the face of Ellora’s Cave defamation suit.

First there are the wankers–most of you know who they are, but otherwise, mine Dear Author’s own archives, starting with the thread linked here.

Second is Jaid Black, Ellora’s Cave, and all and sundry supporting them–for names, read this tag here and remember that search engines are your friends.

How dare Jane Litte ask for money for a defense fund when she

a) is a lawyer, and we all know all lawers are filthy rich!

b) is a successful self-published author, and we all know any author who slaps a “best seller” on their cover lives high on the hog!

c) has signed a contract with a traditional publisher, and we know all traditionally published authors make mucho dinero!

d) has a movie deal on the works, and we all know that authors who sell movie rights automatically become millionaires.

(this bit in quotation above was supposed to be in quotation when I posted this the first time–it’s not what *I* think, it’s what is being flung at Jane/Jen)

And lo, with such prime bait, fish are biting fast and furious.

See this nugget of stupidity at The Passive Voice, and this complaint in the comments of Jane/Jen’s original letter.

To the first person: Jane Litte probably knew, when she decided to fight the lawsuit, that Jen Frederick’s true identity would come out and that the shit would cover both those pseudonyms from all sides.

And still, knowing full well all the grief that is going to follow her around for a good fucking long time–the internet is an archive, people–she took a stance that defends the right of everyone to speak their mind.

To the second person: what are you, a lemming incapable of making your own decisions? Did anyone hold a knife to your kidney and forced you to hand over your hard earned money? Neither? Then grow up a bit, and accept your own responsibility in how you decide to spend your limited resources.

But who cares about the wankers and the butthurt, right? Let me tell you what I actually care about here: #notchilled is tainted now.

*

For the record, in case the above wasn’t clear enough:

I still believe that the whole “Jane Litte steered Dear Author and the other reviewers towards Jen Frederick’s genre” and the rest of that conspiracy theory to be pure unadulterated bullshit.

I still believe that Jane Litte/Jen Frederick did not defame Ellora’s Cave or its principals when she wrote and published The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave in Dear Author.

I still believe that the lawsuit was brought in order to silence Ellora’s Cave authors and other subcontractors who were/are not happy with how royalties and other payments have been handled by the company for years.

I still believe that the lawsuit will cost Jane Litte/Jen Frederick much, much more money that the $20K she originally set aside for it combined with the $54K+ raised through GoFundMe and the efforts of Sarah Wendell.³

I want to believe what I believed yesterday morning: that Jane Litte is a decent person who has striven for honesty, yet has stumbled like all human beings do sooner or later.

Sadly, I find that my trust on pretty much everyone involved with Dear Author has been severely shaken. I’m questioning why the people who have spoken in unreserved, unqualified support of Jane Litte/Jen Frederick have done so, and why the people who haven’t, haven’t.

I fucking hate wondering who among them I can and cannot trust, and how far. And I am both angry and extremely sad at the loss of that trust.

*

Let’s be clear here: I do not claim that I would have done better.

I am positive someone with a strong enough grudge and sufficient time can find plenty of thoughtless comments and/or posts I’ve made, and bring them to light to make me look like raging hypocrite, or a liar, or an idiot, or all three (if not more), or at the very least embarrass me.

That’s beside the point here, though.

I can see perfectly well how one seemingly small, irrelevant decision led to another seemingly small, irrelevant decision, which led to another, and another and another, like the proverbial snowball.

Until we all found ourselves here now, studying the cumulative effects of thirty or so months of small, irrelevant decisions.

But just because I can’t guarantee that I am above making a similar mess, doesn’t mean that there is no mess; or that Jane Litte/Jen Frederick did no wrong; or that I must have an axe to grind and a hidden agenda if I speak on the subject; or that any and all concerns raised about it by anyone should be dismissed a priori, and that we–whomever we happen to be–should accept Jane Litte/Jen Frederick’s words and actions past, present and future without criticism or analysis.

Perception is reality, and as my perception has changed, so has reality.

*

¹ To wit:

  • Some of the sour grapes come from authors whose books got diced in reviews. You know who you are.
  • Some of the sour grapes come from once-frequent commenters who wanted to decide how the blog should be run. I have been around long enough to remember those discussions, well before the new commenting policy was an issue.
  • Some of the sour grapes come from publishers–hello, Deborah Smith and Jaid Black–who resent that a reader blog has as much influence as Dear Author does.
  • Some of the sour grapes come from other bloggers who consider that Dear Author is too self righteous by half.

² Difficult family relationships, anyone?

³ See what Anita Cox has to say on this point. Please note that I vehemently disagree that this is (under any light, sarcasm included) a “little revelation” while agreeing with the overall thrust of the post.

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74 Responses to “I hate eating my words.”

  1. Deirdre 26/03/2015 at 7:14 AM #

    My personal take on this: it may never have come out (or been relevant) if there weren’t an EC case. There are always issues that make plaintiffs and defendants look less rosy than they did before, and this is one of them. Personally, I’d hate to see this whole situation kill DA as a site. (I’m of the opinion that Kati did not know at that time.)

    I have my own opinion, which is that I think Jane has been a bit stressed because of the lawsuit and it may not have hit her what those implications were. She may have stepped further back from DA because of all the crap she’s having to deal with. Hence, I’m more likely to give her a pass for anything that happened *after the lawsuit was filed* than anything that happened before.

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 7:25 AM #

      Agreed, on all your points.

      • Deirdre 26/03/2015 at 7:30 AM #

        This is one reason why I’ve kept my romance pseudonym (and my erotica pseudonym) completely out of the whole EC thing. Though, now that I think about it, likely some people would hate me for not revealing my blogging later on down the road when said pseudonyms are making the big bucks.

        Eff it all, there’s no simple solution.

        Arguably, I’m far better known in romance at the moment under my own name.

  2. pooks 26/03/2015 at 10:44 AM #

    This is the first I knew of the controversy, other than skimming her announcement and thinking, hmm, good for her, and no more. Thank you for bringing all these links together and in context.

    One thing just popped into my head in the midst of all this. At the same time Jan Frederick was establishing her career, Sarah Wendell wrote a romance novel and said, “Hey, look what I did!”

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 11:02 AM #

      I’m confused.

      If you mean the Hannukah novella “Lighting the Flames,” that’s from last year (amazon says, December 13, 2014, to be precise). Before that, there were the two non-fiction books about romance, Everything I know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels came out in October 2011, and Behond Heaving Bosoms came out in March/April 2009. Is there some other book by her out there?

      The first Jen Frederick book came out sometime in 2013 (amazon says May 1, 2013)

      • pooks 26/03/2015 at 11:09 AM #

        I’m talking about the novel she wrote and announced to everyone, “I wrote a romance novel; here it is.” Full disclosure.

      • pooks 07/04/2015 at 11:36 AM #

        My initial feelings seem to be spot on, though I will be very happy to be proven wrong. I felt that the announcement by Jane and the offer to answer questions by Sarah would get no substantive response from either person, and they haven’t. They allowed people to respond in comments, and considered their roles done.

        OTOH, I have not had as intense a connection to either site as most people responding here. I follow them via email and find them interesting and informative, but have not felt as vested emotionally in Romancelandia as most. I continue to read and follow, but am so sorry to see such a rift for so many of you.

      • azteclady 07/04/2015 at 2:28 PM #

        I felt that the announcement by Jane and the offer to answer questions by Sarah would get no substantive response from either person, and they haven’t. They allowed people to respond in comments, and considered their roles done.

        I found this disappointing. Unsurprising, but disappointing all the same.

  3. willaful 26/03/2015 at 11:19 AM #

    I appreciate your willingness to reevaluate your opinions. So many people just cling even more fiercely to what they originally thought.

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 11:21 AM #

      Thank you.

      I do not envy you your current position, by the way.

      • willaful 26/03/2015 at 11:24 AM #

        Honestly, except for sharing the sadness over the loss of a readers community, I’m fine. I did what felt right to me and that’s a good feeling. Today I’m slightly embarrassed that a review that was already in the pipes is posted at Dear Author, but I guess people can figure that one out. 😉

  4. azteclady 26/03/2015 at 11:31 AM #

    @ pooks: Here’s what I’m getting hung up on. You said:

    At the same time Jan Frederick was establishing her career, Sarah Wendell wrote a romance novel and said, “Hey, look what I did!”

    As I pointed out in my reply, Sarah did not write a novel in 2013–she wrote a short story in December 2014. Jen Frederick’s career started in May 2013 when her first book came out. So those two things are unrelated, timing-wise.

    The full disclosure bit? Yes, I’m with you there; it’s a sharp contrast.

    It’s also worth mentioning and remembering that Sarah Wendell has never used a pseudonym, either as a blogger or author of non-fiction books.

    Their positions, professionally speaking, have always been very different.

    Doesn’t excuse Jane Litte/Jen Frederick not disclosing when interacting in authors-only blogs, but it is something to consider nonetheless.

  5. authoranitacox 26/03/2015 at 11:44 AM #

    Thank you for the pingback. Sarcasm tends to ooze from my pores. However, I do agree this isn’t a little revelation. It is a bombshell and it’s going to take more than a minute for folks to digest it, I believe.

    Very nice post.

  6. Lori 26/03/2015 at 12:04 PM #

    Jen Frederick participated in author loops because Jen Frederick is an author. And she had/has every right any other author does. Jane Litte would never have been invited to join (although heaven knows probably anything of interest would be on DA because everyone blabs about everything ultimately).

    The thing I feel about this is: Jen Frederick had a right to be there because she’s an author and she’s obviously serious about it. She wasn’t there as Jane, she didn’t use the author’s loops as DA fodder.

    If someone in discussion said “I hate DA” they were saying it to Jen, not Jane. I do not believe, now or ever, that Jane keeps a list of authors to sabotage. I don’t believe DA gives out bad reviews as punishment. I do think that Jane had her Jen wig on and acted only as an author in those loops.

    I think she had a right to be there because she’s an author. That she’s a blogger, lawyer, Mother, cook, sewing enthusiast is all irrelevant. She was on an author’s only loop because she’s an author.

    Her book shouldn’t have been a daily deal. I agree.

    But until everybody has to disclose beyond pen-names, I don’t believe that Jen Frederick should be dunned because she was on an author’s loop as an author.

    (I say this also with a serious belief that Jane is capable of separating aspects of her life because she has so many.different hats she wears. Not everybody can. But I know others who do. And it’s not so unlike a doctor in a car club listening to a conversation about how doctors gouge patients and not saying anything because he’s there as a car enthusiast. Jane wasn’t on an author’s loop as a blogger. She was there as Jen the writer and she was sincere about that aspect of involvement.)

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 12:15 PM #

      I have no problem with Jane Litte using a pseudonym to publish.

      My problem with having Jane Litte-as-Jen Frederick in authors-only spaces is that the other authors in that space didn’t have a choice, because they didn’t have all the facts, whether to trust that Jane Litte would keep both things as separate as all that.

      So whether or not Jane Litte would never react negatively to things said about Jane Litte and/or Dear Author when she was interacting with authors as Jen Frederick is irrelevant to the authors who, had they known, may have chosen not to say those things within her hearing.

      It’s not the same as speaking behind someone’s back at the water cooler, though I’ve seen that one trotted out as well. It’s about being in a members-only club, and discovering that one of the members is not who/what she claims she is.

      It’s not about Jane herself (or not just about Jane), it’s about the effect her actions had on other people.

      • Melissa Blue 26/03/2015 at 12:38 PM #

        No. Just no. Authors-only honestly means authors-only. This is the same expectation of a readers-only space. Despite the fact I and most authors can put on their reader’s hat, they are still an author. They are still an author in a readers-only space. They should not be there. (Which is a stance DA tried to make clear on more than one occasion. One I totally agree with just to be clear.)

        So no matter the intentions you are in a space that you are not welcomed to. No matter how nice and polite you are when you visit. No matter you never put on your other hat. That space has been set up for a reason with that rule for a reason.

        ‘Cause here’s the thing, no one is saying (okay some folks might be saying) that her role as a blogger makes her a non-author. She wrote books; she’s an author. She’s also a blogger.

        Now let’s say she was an agent or an editor. She wore another hat. You are only okay in this space if the only hat you wear is AUTHOR. That simple. She didn’t have to say hey I’m Jane. All she had to say was hey I’m a blogger. I don’t think that’s asking for much.

  7. azteclady 26/03/2015 at 12:44 PM #

    @ Melissa Blue: erm…your reply was to Lori, I take it?

    • Melissa Blue 26/03/2015 at 12:48 PM #

      LOL Yes, ma’am. It made my eye twitch so I may have skipped a vital step in hitting the reply button.

      • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 12:49 PM #

        Sorry, I’m feeling a tad twitchy myself.

      • Melissa Blue 26/03/2015 at 12:56 PM #

        I think we all are. I’ve been pretty meh about the whole thing, but this point is the one that gets my goat. I’ve learned to stay out places that are for readers. It was hard to do because I still feel like a reader first. But I am not just a reader. I can’t just take off that hat. I take my author-ly baggage with me whether I’m fully aware of it or not.

      • Ann Aguirre 27/03/2015 at 10:12 AM #

        What Melissa said.

        This is pretty much the whole reason I stopped commenting on blogs, and I am far from the only author who feels this way. The message was hammered into us, a charge led by Jane, that we do NOT belong in reader spaces, that our presence taints everything and inhibits open discussion. So I retreated from blogs I had enjoyed reading, not because I feared being identified as a “bad” author, but because I care ababout out readers.

        I didn’t want to make readers quietly uncomfortable; I want the best for the community. And if readers say I can’t wear two hats, that I can’t comment anymore from a reader perspective without it seeming suspect, I accept this and I will interact on reader terms. So I can be found on Twitter or Facebook or via email, instead. For years I kept that implicit social agreement, not from fear of punishment, but because I CARE. It’s for this reason that I also don’t plead with readers to pre-order certain of my titles when I’m fairly certain that there will be a digital price drop down the line. If they do so on their own, I am pleased and grateful, of course. But I have always tried to be honest in my dealings and thoughtful about what is best for readers.

        But now I find that the rules many of us have been quietly following? They don’t apply universally. Authors don’t belong in reader spaces but there has been an author running the biggest site reader site of all, secretly, for two years? I most certainly do have feelings about people who set forth rules for others and then don’t follow them. I hear lots of talk about “intentions” but I think it’s more than proven that intentions have little to do with actual impact and incidental harm is still harm. (See comment 82: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2015/03/answering-questions-jane-littejen-frederick/comment-page-3/#comment-255529 This person is my friend.)

  8. cranberrytarts 26/03/2015 at 5:50 PM #

    In light of the many discussions of non-apologies that have floated about romance reading blogs in the past decade, that last sentence is…

    Well.

    Yes. That. The non-apology is frustrating.

    I took some time to get my thoughts in order before posting, but I can’t say my thoughts are any more ordered than when I first found out.

    I’m happy for Jane. I think it’s wonderful that she wrote and published her works, and that they did so well. I also understand completely why she chose to publish them under a pseudonym and kept that separate from DA. My first thought, same as yours, was good for you!

    My problem, like yours, is once I started thinking about it, I was bothered more and more. Sure, on the surface, posting a Daily Deals post and featuring one of her own books isn’t that big a deal. But looking at it a little deeper, the readership at DA is pretty big, which means thousands saw it. And probably downloaded it. Which put more money in her pocket.

    I don’t really have an issue with that, if I’m being honest. But I do have an issue with the nondisclosure. To say “So, this is my book, but it’s on sale so I thought I’d include it”? No big deal. To say “Others have had some problems with this book, but I’m including it here anyway” with no disclosure? I’m not comfortable with that.

    Joining author loops to further your writing process? Not a big deal. Doing so when said authors don’t know that you’re also a blogger and have blocked you – under your blogging pseudonym – elsewhere? I’m not comfortable with that.

    There are many other things that aren’t a big deal on the surface (reviewing books from her publisher, promoting her writing partner, etc) that make me uncomfortable when I think about them a little more.

    Where I really lose my cool, however, is when I think back to all those times Jane – and Sarah, if I’m being honest – called into question someone else’s behavior because of lack of disclosure. Both sites stood for readers, and they pushed hard for authors and publishers and even other readers/bloggers to be upfront and honest. And yet Jane didn’t follow the same rules she set up for others?

    The major issue is trust. We – as a community – trusted Jane. We – as a readership – trusted Jen. To find out they’re the same person? Well…I’m just not comfortable with that.

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 5:57 PM #

      Many of those little things that at first glance seem like no big deal don’t quite stand a closer look, and when you put them all together, it’s not a pretty picture.

      As you say, and I said, and many others are saying everywhere, there’s a double standard here–a do as I say, not as I do thing–when so much is made at Dear Author (and I don’t care if the individual piece was written by Robin or Sunita or the parrot in the corner, frankly) about transparency and disclosure and integrity, then this? And we are not supposed to look closer, find the inconsistencies, and question anything?

      Or, if we do, we are ‘haters’?

      Bitch, please.

    • pooks 26/03/2015 at 6:06 PM #

      I haven’t followed the links. What DID she say when she linked to her own book/s? Or did she let somebody else do the linking?

      • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 7:01 PM #

        It’s linked above, but here you go: it was a daily deals post, which are almost always done by Jane herself. The little commentary she adds to each deal/book she posts there says exactly this:

        Katiebabs reviewed the book and said that it was enjoyable but unrealistic. Some reviewers had problems with the dialogue of the hero along with his creepy tendency toward stalking.

    • SuperWendy 26/03/2015 at 6:40 PM #

      “And yet Jane didn’t follow the same rules she set up for others?”

      That. So much that. It seems to keep coming back to that for me.

    • Ann Aguirre 27/03/2015 at 1:44 AM #

      In a way that intrusion on private space is a consent issue, which should be of huge concern to romance readers. By her own statement she joined those groups because she wanted to learn. But by concealing the fact that they had interacted under a prior persona, sometimes painfully, she negated everyone else’s right to demur. Some probably would have welcomed her and been generous and gracious. But that choice was denied them via duplicitous behavior.

  9. SuperWendy 26/03/2015 at 6:54 PM #

    This was a good post. My post came fairly quick on the heels of the announcement. In hindsight I probably should have waited a bit and done a better job with it. I was still processing at the time so I tried to keep it as even-keeled as possible because I felt like I didn’t know everything (and heck, I still don’t) and I was trying to decide how outraged I wanted to be.

    As you can tell from the comments on my post – I got more outraged after the fact.

    At the end of the day it will come down to us all being grown-ups (::snort:: oh Wendy, you’re so funny!) and making up our own minds. If your mind is telling you it’s no big deal, you love Dear Author, you love Jen Fredericks, fluffy bunnies for everybody!!!! Hey, fine. Good for you. If you have an ax to grind already with DA? Well, I’m already tuning you out so whatever. Or if you’re someone who feels that trust has been broken and you’re a little ticked off by that? Fine. Whatever. Go on with your bad self.

    I know which side I fall on and I’m going to live my blogging life accordingly. I’ve long believed that every blog has the right to exist – just as it’s my right to decide what choices I make when it comes to my own blogging and blog reading. Keep on keepin’ on and all that.

    • willaful 26/03/2015 at 6:56 PM #

      I’m really glad you wrote your post when you did. It was really important for that voice to be heard.

    • azteclady 26/03/2015 at 7:04 PM #

      Like willaful says above, your post was very, very important. It was necessary, and the fact that it was both level headed and pointed (citing three clear instances of “do as I say, not as I do”) snapped many a reader (or perhaps it was just me?) from the unthinking congratulatory haze.

      Thank you, again, for speaking from an unpopular position.

  10. Erin Burns 26/03/2015 at 8:55 PM #

    This pretty clearly encapsulates it for me. I’m not up in arms, I’m mostly just disappointed and frustrated. Some of this is because I live and work in academia, so I’ve never understood the lack of peer review and the aggressive condemnation of negative reviews. Obviously that comes my opinion. In academia careers live and die on peer and industry review. It’s one of the reasons I do like Dear Author, because they do actually critique and post negative reviews, so it better fit my perception of the appropriate way to test the written word. But disclosure is key. And honestly, I’d have appreciated it all the more had I known she was an author. Hell, I’d have been pleased with a disclaimer that acknowledged the self pubbed and NA genre aspects and an assertion that she was keeping them separate, without outing her pen name. That’s all it would have taken.

    I think this industry as a whole has painted itself into a messy little corner with its stance on the situation of reading, writing, and reviewing and a person in a position to change how this was seen actually made the issue worse.

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 6:07 AM #

      Erin, this is but one iteration of something that we have seen for close to two decades. Women are expected to always be nice to each other. In an industry were the vast majority of the professionals (authors, editors, readers) are women, this creates constant friction.

  11. andarae 26/03/2015 at 11:56 PM #

    I’m not a DA regular (not even close), I’m not a Jane Litte fangirl, I’m not an author, I’m not a donator to her legal fund. I probably have no legitimacy to comment. However, this is America, and we all know that whoever spouts off at the mouth most wins free bald eagles for life. So…here I go.

    I, PERSONALLY, do not have a dog or a pony in this fight. My main concern has been from the beginning that the internet should not be federally censored or regulated. It is a big DUH that what you read on the internet cannot be taken as Gospel, that people may or may not be who you think they are, and that sense and caution should be exercised in using the internet’s resources to form ideology or opinion. So do I read romance? I do. I read an EC book I liked, I went to their website, I saw JB’s blog about the DA/EC debacle. That led me to DA, which led me to SBTB, which led me to…you.

    Perhaps all that explains why I don’t really care that JL is an author that I haven’t read and probably won’t read. (New Adult doesn’t appeal to me as a genre, probably because my early twenties weren’t magical. I have no desire to vicariously relive them. The only NA book I ever read that I didn’t inherently want to shank myself for reading was Courtney Milan’s…and that woman could write tentacle porn and I’d find it enthralling…curse her.) I’m not sour-grapey, I promise. I congratulate JL/JF for writing books that people seem to like. Cool. I’m not super pee-my-pants happy for her. I don’t know her well enough to invest my precious emotional resources into her life. I wish her the same successes I wish most authors.

    The sticky blog ethics are what they are…it seems as though there was at least SOME effort to keep JF off DA. I’m willing to shove some overlaps into “Mistake” or “Poor Judgment” territory. Others, not so much. Again, I’m not emotionally invested in DA and don’t feel the slightest bit deceived. For those who do, I completely see their side of it, and I agree. Ethically, it was not elegantly done. Obviously, they hypocrisy is really irritating. There’s not really a whole lot JL can/will say about that, since you know…she doesn’t really think she was in the wrong.

    The whole invading spaces that were for authors only was a shitty thing to do. If it reflects badly on her because she did a thing that was shitty, well, that’s deserved. Actions have consequences. However, and I can’t caution this enough…if you wouldn’t publicly put your name to something you’re saying, you shouldn’t be saying it. Not in a forum where you do not implicitly trust the other people and know precisely who they are in REAL LIFE. The internet is not the place to say things you don’t want to be public knowledge, even if you say them behind a password. So while I agree with the upset authors that JL should not have been in “their” space under false pretenses or whatever, they have to be responsible for whatever they said.

    Those who are upset about giving to JL’s legal fund should just take a step back and evaluate their own motives. Giving to JL cause you like her or feel sorry for her would cause one to feel upset now. Giving to a legal fund because you believe in the right to express an opinion on the internet, even if that opinion is unliked by others would make one feel as though their money was still well-spent. JL is not the case. It is my opinion that having published books and had some rights purchased doesn’t mean that JL is rolling in green. I also believe that the CASE still merits and deserves those funds. Here in America, we pay for our freedoms with lawyers. Since I like my freedom of speech, I’m willing to give $10 for it, even though I’m meatless 4 days a week cause it’s too spendy.

    All this is easy for me to say. I’m not emotionally attached to anything except my right to publicly express that after reading JB’s blog posting about the case I went “Woah, Nellie…” and formed the OPINION that JB was being a total hosebeast (total irony, I wouldn’t even know about DA without that blog posting…). JB has done nothing since then but back that thing up. So there you have it.

    • Ann Aguirre 27/03/2015 at 2:16 AM #

      PS I remember very clearly how you worried that people would call shenanigans if you reviewed my books while you were working with/ beta reading for me.

      PPS I miss talking to you!

      • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 12:01 PM #

        A belated welcome to you to my humble abode, Ms Ann!

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 6:10 AM #

      Andarae, people should be more cautious about what they say, everywhere, yes.

      But if you are behind closed doors venting about the employee who uses the bathroom and stinks up the place every single afternoon, you are not doing anything wrong either–and yet wouldn’t you feel more than a bit uncomfortable if it turned out that you were venting to the person in question?

      • andarae 27/03/2015 at 2:24 PM #

        I didn’t say it was WRONG to discuss/complain…just that once you choose to do it, you have to own it. I’m responsible for what I say. I’ve been embarrassed by my own words many times.

        To my way of thinking though, bathroom stinkage is a fairly embarrassing but harmless thing to own. The allegations against EC are severe. I would liken it to going into a conference room blindfolded and venting about my manager. If I did that, I’d have to be responsible for my words.

        It’s all…theoretical at this point. I can be all high and mighty and say “Well, so and so SHOULD have done THUS and SUCH”, but in reality, I only know what DID happen. I can’t really say what I would do. Again, the proof against EC is pretty damning. If what Jane wrote was true, every author who complained was more than justified in having very strong feelings of unhappiness. No author is responsible for what Jane DID with their words. No. That’s on Jane.

      • andarae 28/03/2015 at 1:20 PM #

        Ofc now I’ve read and thought about Courtney Milan’s comment on SBTB…and it does add a layer of extra awful to the whole thing, doesn’t it? I’m still mulling over if it changes my viewpoint…but then I always thought what she did was shitty. I guess this just makes it…shittier.

  12. Karen Bice (@KarenBice) 27/03/2015 at 12:20 AM #

    Aztec Lady, I rarely comment on blogs because it’s a PIA to comment anonymously. I’ve followed DA, and your blog for a while. I also follow a lot of writing/publishing blogs, including The Passive Voice. I’m a romance reader who is a beta reader and copy editor. Here are my thoughts, and I mean no offense to anyone: I follow DA for publishing news. In my opinion, the reviews that I’ve read on DA aren’t applicable to the average romance reader. The reviews seem more like a crap shoot for showing how much the reviewer knows, and screw the author. I also get the feeling that those reviewing and commenting about romance are coming from a literature bent, and that is so screwed… and I shouldn’t have to explain why.

    With the latest news about DA being a published author, I have to say that with her earnings as an attorney, and as an author, I’m flabbergasted that she could take, much less ask, for donations for the EA suit from people she had to know were financially insecure, as well as being unaware of her publishing status. The bottom line, to me, is that Litte was not as transparent as she should have been, especially since lack of transparency is what she has accused others of. Does this mean I will no longer follow the DA blog? No, but it does mean that it won’t take much more for me not to follow the blog.

    Thanks, Aztec Lady. Again, no offense meant to anyone.

    KB

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 6:15 AM #

      No worries, Karen, disagreement does not equal offense around here.

      I believe–despite having no proof, more fool me–that Jane/Jen was resistant to the creation of the fund.

      I also believe that she’s going to end up needing that and more.

      Further, even if she had a full $100K to throw away defending herself from Jaid Black’s bullshit, it’s a freedom of speech issue for me and many.

      Not one blogger or author or individual saying the truth should have to spend tens of thousands of money they have earned by honest means–whether secret means or not–to defend the right of everyone else.

    • Laura Vivanco 27/03/2015 at 12:35 PM #

      “I also get the feeling that those reviewing and commenting about romance are coming from a literature bent, and that is so screwed… and I shouldn’t have to explain why.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by “a literature bent”. Obviously you don’t have to explain, and you don’t have to explain why “that is so screwed”, either, but I’d be interested to know.

  13. Range Reader 27/03/2015 at 12:46 AM #

    Hi Azteclady,

    I have really appreciated your comments on several blog articles I’ve read, but now I respect you even more for your flexibility, for changing your viewpoint as more information was brought forth instead of just blindly sticking to your guns. I think I’ve followed a similar path. After reading TPV and then Deirdre’s blog, which questioned whether Jane could have gotten some of her EC article info in those author loops where authors spoke in confidence not expecting their words to be made public, even anonymously, I started to realize how complex this whole situation is. It hadn’t occurred to me that she had violated authors’ trust and privacy, whether she meant to or not. I follow a lot of authors on Twitter, and I’m seeing a lot of hurt in their tweets.

    I completely get why Jane kept it secret at first. This lawsuit has really shown how many haters she has, from authors doing public happy dances over the fact she was being sued to the vitriol you can see in the comments on several of her blog posts. I can see that there might have been concern about getting a bunch of one-star reviews simply because the book was written by Jane. But then I remember Sarah proudly releasing her “Lighting the Flame” novel last December. Of course, perhaps Sarah hasn’t made as many enemies. I admit I’m pretty new to Romancelandia. It’s a very sticky situation, but it seems like once she was established as a bestseller and in a more secure place, she could have divulged the fact.

    On top of everything else, Jane has put her friends in a very precarious position. I put myself in Sarah’s place tonight and asked if I would have done the same thing (kept the secret), and I think I would have. It wasn’t her secret to tell, and I don’t think she should have been asked to keep it. I wonder who else knew and has been uncomfortable about keeping it for the past two and a half years. It wasn’t fair to put that burden on them.

    I did give to Jane’s legal fund, and I don’t regret that. I think this lawsuit is wrong and baseless, and it could set a precedent that could affect not only blogging, but Facebooking and tweeting as well. It’s also hurting all the EC authors and having a negative effect on the genre (IMO).

    This is the first comment I’ve left on the subject because I’m still taking it in and processing it. I’m still in shock, and I’m still pretty confused.

    BTW, I’m a reader, not an author or blogger.

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 10:41 AM #

      Welcome, feel free to comment whenever you are moved to do so.

  14. May 27/03/2015 at 5:08 AM #

    @ActecLady

    Your post is really resonated with my experience. At first when hearing the news, I cheers for Jane and cannot think any issues. That because I respect Jane and her contribution to romance community. I may not always agree with everything on DA but I read the blog regularly and find it to be the good source for the book industry, which I am interested in but have no connection to access myself.

    And then I read TPV and everything begin to change.

    I identify myself as a reader primarily however I also have blog and sometime I review books. I normally do not identify myself as blogger since I think I am so small in romance world that I feel a little bit shy to call myself a reviewer. However, I would think that if I started writing a book and have opportunity to join Author Group, I would told them before I joined that I sometime review and here is my blog link. When I read the part that Jane did not do so bother me. A LOT.

    Because I respect her.

    I read Jane’s comment about the reason she was doing it. I understand the reason she joined the group but it did not excuse the way she handled it. Jane said she wanted to prove that she can do it without using DA but she is DA. For me it is totally 2 different issues. If Jane wanted to do it without using DA, it means she does not use DA for promotion/advertising. But it does not mean it give her free pass to deceive people to join their group. If she wanted to learn about publishing business, she can do it in the guise of Jane Litte from DA without telling anyone that she is also Jen Frederick. That would be more honest than using Jen Frederick to join author group, which otherwise do not well come Jane Litte.

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 6:03 AM #

      May, this is it, in a nutshell:

      If Jane wanted to do it without using DA, it means she does not use DA for promotion/advertising. But it does not mean it give her free pass to deceive people to join their group. If she wanted to learn about publishing business, she can do it in the guise of Jane Litte from DA without telling anyone that she is also Jen Frederick. That would be more honest than using Jen Frederick to join author group, which otherwise do not well come Jane Litte.

  15. Elle 27/03/2015 at 5:48 AM #

    Count me among those feeling somewhat squicky about all of this. Reading Jane’s comment to you made me realise I’d been subscribed to Jen Frederick’s email newsletter for a while and that these involved a lot of publicity for other people’s books – giving away whole books in segments. I’m one of the people who doesn’t necessarily see malicious intent in the non disclosure but this realisation does make we wonder how Jane could have felt she was keeping her blogger and author hats separate.

    Some of these authors were reviewed or included in daily deal posts with no disclaimer after being included in these newsletter. I haven’t had time to look fully into which authors were featured on DA after this but there were at least three (one a daily deal for an anthology which seems less inappropriate to me). While the review I saw wasn’t particularly positive DA is a large platform and exposure on it is clearly something Jane herself sees as powerful because she felt the need to use a pseudonym and so the lack of disclosure of a relationship seems inappropriate.

    • azteclady 27/03/2015 at 6:19 AM #

      I don’t subscribe to many authors’ newsletters, but those I do very often feature tons of other authors, and those who are friends (from the same publisher or not) will often either advertise promotion efforts from the other authors, or give away their books.

      I honestly don’t see a problem with that part, per se.

      And I can see how any author these days needs to have the full promo machine in order to succeed–newsletter being but one aspect–but the more she did for her career as Jen Frederick, and for longer and longer, the stickier it feels to know that she was also Jane Litte.

    • Bree (@mostlybree) 28/03/2015 at 2:07 PM #

      I have not commented anywhere but SB and on twitter, and I was going to try to stay out of this. But this, in particular, has been haunting me.

      Jen serialized my book in her newsletter. At the time I was super excited–and I have had many readers tell me that’s how they found me. It was great exposure for me, and I appreciated Jen so much for the opportunity.

      Jane has also features pretty positive reviews of the series on Dear Author. The book was in DABWAHA one year. We’ve had great support from her for the series. I’ve always been so appreciative to Jane for that, too.

      But…I feel weird now. I feel weird that people have to look at these things and wonder. I feel weird that people who look at this might be aware that I also talked about Jen’s books in my newsletter, and excitedly promoted them on twitter and on Facebook.

      I feel like I look pretty sketchy, in retrospect. And there wasn’t anything sketchy about it at the time. (To me, anyway. I thought they were two people I liked for different reasons?) I don’t think Jane/Jen had malicious motivations for this at all–I mean, if she was out to sabotage me by promoting me twice over, that’s the slowest play in history–but now…I feel like I did something sketchy.

      I liked Jen’s book. I would have promoted it whatever the name on the cover. But if I had understood the entire situation at the time, I might have been able to do so in a way that wouldn’t leave people wondering how sincere any of this ever was. :/

      • azteclady 28/03/2015 at 2:28 PM #

        For the record, I don’t think you did anything wrong, Bree. Had Jane Litte and Jen Frederick been, indeed, two different people, no one would wonder anything–authors cross promoting is not only normal, it helps everyone.

        However, decisions you made two years ago using all the information available to you then, will be questioned by people who have more facts at their disposal now. That sucks on many, many levels.

        In the post I mention innocent casualties, and this is part of what I meant.

        Who knew what about who else, and when did they know it?

        I am now looking at people I have email conversations with, people whose blogs I visit often, and wondering who else they are, and whether things I have not chosen to share in public may show up somewhere else–whether attributed to me or not–completely out of context.

        And I know that there are people out there wondering the same thing about me, right now.

      • Bree (@mostlybree) 28/03/2015 at 2:44 PM #

        Yes, it’s a sticky situation for so many reasons.

        And I acknowledge that it sucks that Jane’s success has made this situation so much worse. If Jane had a smaller reach, she wouldn’t have touched so many people in so many ways. If Jen had not been a success, the same.

        Being incredibly successful once is impressive enough. She’s been incredibly successful twice over. Unfortunately, this community is small enough that there are a lot of people who had reason to engage with both personas. And I’m afraid that means the ripples will be felt for a long, long time.

  16. carolinareader 27/03/2015 at 11:49 AM #

    I admit to being one of the readers that didn’t see a what the big deal was at first. Now I am coming to see the problems and I hate it. The whole idea that she entered into author-only spaces really bothers me. She has been so vocal in DA being a site for readers but didn’t show authors that same respect. I saw someone on twitter call DA a mean girls site. As a regular DA reader I never saw it that way but now I don’t know and that really bothers me. Right now I have desire hide in my turtle shell until this drama has past and then look out and see what is still standing.

    • Jen 27/03/2015 at 12:51 PM #

      @carolinareader Haha, I feel like hiding in my shell too. I felt like things were settling down after the whole EC thing, and the author-stalking kerfuffle, and then this comes along and honestly it feels even worse. I think I’m going to step back from reading certain blogs because they’re just not fun any more, and that’s why I read and talk about romance.

  17. Jen 27/03/2015 at 1:14 PM #

    Thanks for this well reasoned and articulated post. You expressed the disappointment perfectly–it’s just one big pile of sad disappointment for most people, I think.

  18. Range Reader 27/03/2015 at 3:43 PM #

    Holy crap. I just read Courtney Milan’s comment on SBTB. Something else for authors to worry about.

    http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/2015/03/answering-questions-jane-littejen-frederick/comment-page-7/#comment-255825

  19. Kate 28/03/2015 at 9:21 PM #

    hey, I went through that same damned process — from “Wow, you go” to “No, that hasn’t been well played”. Interesting to see how many people did. I wonder if Jane went through something like that as well before she made the announcement.

    • azteclady 07/04/2015 at 11:20 AM #

      Wow, Kate, I’m sorry I missed your reply.

      A belated welcome to the blog.

  20. Bona 31/03/2015 at 12:00 PM #

    I feel a little uncomfortable about this thing. But it’s just because, generally speaking, I don’t trust the opinion of someone who is a writer the same way I trust the review of someone who is just a reader.
    They’re on different parts of the field for me. One earns money with these books, the other spend their money on them.
    I’m not saying she’s done anything wrong, only that I’m not going to see her reviews in the same way as before.
    An author can write reviews, and recommend books. Of course! When I see Courtney Milan or any of the Word Wenches saying ‘this is a good book’, I think they are sincere, but I don’t see their recommendations the same way I see Wendy the Superlibrarian’s reviews, for instance. Or yours. Or Willaful. (I hope I will not have to eat my words here).
    The same person/different hats is a way of reasoning that has never convinced me.

    • pooks 31/03/2015 at 2:53 PM #

      I understand your point, and I think it’s a point that has been championed on DA, oddly enough, with their ‘by readers, for readers’ stance.

      As an author, I spend A LOT of money buying books. A LOT. More than I spent in the years when I wasn’t writing novels.

      But as a reviewer–well, I am not one. I voice a few opinions on GR or occasionally AZ, but they aren’t particularly thought out. I don’t spend time on it. I say a few words–that I mean–which sometimes may be squees without a lot of explanation. I rejoice in the love of a book and move on. Reviewing just isn’t my thing, and I never claim that a book I give five stars to is a better book than one I gave fewer stars to. I just say that in that moment my joy in the book is five stars worth.

      Case in point–I read a book, was on my way to GR to give it five stars, and saw that I read it a few years ago and gave it four. I clearly liked it at the time, but not to the degree I liked it this time. As to why I didn’t remember it at all–no clue, except that I read it during a very stressful year, which may have been the real issue.

      That’s a lot of babbling for possibly not much point. I do think book bloggers/ reviewers who take pride in their work and spend time framing and writing reviews are awesome, for the very reason that I am not.

      It has been pointed out that in SFF, in literary fiction, etc. nobody thinks it odd when authors review. Many do it all the time and get paid to do so in various publications. Romance seems to be the area where it’s considered a problem.

      Enough musing. I need to get back to work! But since I’m in the middle of my taxes and looking at how many hundreds of dollars I spend on books each year, this particular comment brought me out of my burrow!

    • May 02/04/2015 at 12:15 PM #

      It happened to me, too. I am uncomfortable with Jane joining Author Group without telling who she really is but do not think much of her two roles as writer and reviewer or the integrity of her website.

      I do not always agree with DA review but I whole-heartly believe its honesty. However, after the whole revealation happened whenever I saw DA review, I look at it differently. It is not that I think Jane would manipulate the review for her “friends”. But it feels different. There are voices in my head telling me that for some reasons DA (not only Jane) reviewed this books.

      So now for me DA is not the same website as I feel it was last week. And that, for me as readers, it the greatest lost.

      • azteclady 02/04/2015 at 12:17 PM #

        That loss of trust from so many of us readers is truly a big loss for the whole online reading community, I think.

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