A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Full Disclosure

on March 25, 2015

I have this info on one of my pages, but in light of recent events, I want to make it all very clear.

I am not an author or an aspiring author. The only writing I’ve ever had published and/or paid for is book reviews/articles about books and a few personal essays, unrelated to romance.

Actually, to be completely honest, I’ve toyed with writing a non-fiction book (also unrelated to romance) but I’m super lazy so the odds aren’t good.

To my knowledge, I only know one romance author IRL, and I never review or mention her books. (Or even read them… it just feels too weird!) I’m friendly with some authors online, though they may or may not be authors whose work I enjoy. I try to disclose whenever I’m reviewing a book by someone with whom I have a more personal relationship. I’ve never beta-read and am unlikely to; if I do, I’ll disclose. I did once spot read a book solely for formatting errors, as a favor.

The only connection I have with a publisher is that I write for “Heroes and Heartbreakers,” which is owned by Macmillan. What I choose to write for them is very much up to me. This was also the case at “Dear Author.”  I appreciate the autonomy I’ve had at both sites; I’m not sure I could work any other way.

I did not feel I could go on writing for “Dear Author” after yesterday’s revelations. The idea that I might have inadvertently reviewed, or even commented on, a book written by Jane made me extremely uncomfortable. It was sheer luck that she writes in a genre I don’t read very often — but I have done a First Look for at least one NA book at “Heroes and Heartbreakers,” so I kind of feel like I dodged a bullet there.

And I don’t like secrets in general, and don’t want to be involved with them.

If you have any questions at all about my knowledge/involvement, please feel free to ask me, here or privately. I can speak only for myself.

If you’re an online friend of mine and have an authorial/publishing relationship I don’t know about, I’d really appreciate you telling me.

40 responses to “Full Disclosure

  1. Kate Rothwell says:

    I don’t have a recoiling WTF reaction like other authors I know (who are keeping it private for the most part–there is a lot of power in that place), but it does seem off that DA reviewers weren’t told. My main response is “when does that woman sleep?”

  2. Samantha says:

    Thank you for your honesty. After what went down over there I can no longer trust that site. I’ve been a DA reader since 2007 and I was gobsmacked upside the head. That was not cool. I am not a blogger or author. I am a reader who trusted that blog, especially since they were always yelling about transparency. I read your reviews and always thought they were sincere and well thought out, so thank you.

    • willaful says:

      Thank you, Samantha. I also felt that way as a reader of the site, and I also always felt that writing at Dear Author encouraged me to be completely honest and never hedge or fudge in a review, so my expectations have really not been met as well.

    • fiveacres says:

      Ditto. And since I now have some vacancies in my RSS reader, I am adding willaful to it.

  3. Romance Author says:

    I applaud your decision. Way to stick to your principles!

  4. lawless says:

    I’m sorry you’re leaving — you’re one of the few reviewers on the site with tastes similar to mine — but I completely understand your reasons. I’m still pissed about how Alexis Hall’s presence at the site was handled; Jane’s applied higher (and not always consistent) standards to others than she did to herself. I am particularly appalled that one of her books was apparently featured on Daily Deals. That’s an out and out instance of an actual conflict of interest, not just the appearance of one.

  5. L. W. says:

    I appreciate your transparency. Since I became aware of your reviews, I’ve always kept an eye on them and respected them. My respect increased significantly when I read of your decision to leave DA. On another note, I don’t see how you can call yourself “super lazy”–you read and review so much material that I don’t know how you do it all.

  6. Glad to see you sticking to your principles. I’ve always enjoyed your reviews.

  7. SuperWendy says:

    I can appreciate that this has been difficult for DA staff – very much hello rock, meet hard place! – and all any of us can do is make the decisions/choices that are best for us, personally. So I applaud you for evaluating the situation and taking the steps you felt were necessary. And I selfishly hope I’ll still see you here and on H&H. I like to keep my category romance hos close 😉

    • willaful says:

      At the moment, I have no intention of giving up reviewing… although at the moment, I also can’t seem to read anything. :-\ This too shall pass.

  8. Sending you much love.

  9. azteclady says:

    I have been thinking about this all day–and becoming more and more uncomfortable with my original reaction as I time goes by, and I learn more and I reflect more.

    I am very sorry you were put in the position you found yourself in yesterday morning.

    • willaful says:

      My reaction has changed dramatically over time too.

    • Kate Rothwell says:

      I think I’d be far more offended if I wrote for DA. It’s one thing to keep that connection separate in public. I can get that, as long as there aren’t sock puppets involved. But to keep the secret behind the scenes and with people who work with you–that seems underhanded.

      • Ella says:

        In a way sock puppets were used because Jane as Jen joined closed author-groups which would not have welcomed her if they’d known she was Jane Litte.
        There are also accusations that she friended authors as Jen who had Jane Litte blocked. Stuff like that leaves a bad taste behind.

      • Kate Rothwell says:

        Yeah, good point, Ella. The more I read, the more I think the Jane I know from years of reading DA would point at Jen Frederick as an Author Behaving Badly.

      • You know, if people had wanted to help the EC authors, or discover the truth about what was going on, the GoFundMe would have been to fund an audit, which authors have the right to demand, but can’t afford.
        But we’re just the patsys in the middle of this. Fall guys for both sides.

      • Deirdre says:

        Lynne, I know Julaine offered to contribute to an author audit. I’ve tried to help in my own small way with the author exodus support thread. (I know others have done similar things in their own way, e.g., the guest blogging in November.)

      • It would cost a lot of money to get a full audit, but it’s definitely something to consider.

      • Deirdre says:

        I know. I’m also told that the boilerplate EC contract only permits audits for 12 months. However, lawsuits in Ohio have an 8-year statute of limitation (so in theory one could be paid owed royalties for far longer than the 12-month period, but also granted at probable far greater cost).

  10. Lori says:

    At least you’ll still be here. I respect your decision although it saddens me.

  11. […] 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 […]

  12. What puzzled me was the recent emphasis on New Adult. I don’t read that genre, it isn’t really my thing, so I was more and more skipping the reviews, since they seemed to be YA after YA. Now I understand why. Partly, at any rate. Because of the emphasis on YA I was thinking of unsubbing anyway, so this just tipped my hand. I review, sure, but I do it under my own name.

    • Samantha says:

      Hi Lynn. I read your reviews as well. I thank you for doing so under your real name. I too, connected the dots and realized why the sudden jump on New Adult. Heaven forbid you commented that it wasn’t to your liking, you got kicked in the ass. Hey, I break up with authors who aren’t doing it for me anymore, and so I’m breaking up with two of the biggest romance blogs because I have no tolerance for lies by omission. Nothing was innocent. Yep, I feel all sorts of stupid for believing in that community that was sitting on a throne of lies.

  13. Ella says:

    I’m sad to see you leaving DA (I mostly only followed your and Sirius’ reviews) although I can understand your reasons. Guess instaed od reading DA, I will now simply follow your pesonal blog.

    The whole Jane as Jen thing leaves a seriously bad taste in behind especially as she was always the one who insisted authors had to be upfront and transparent. It was always clear to me to some extent that Jane never disclosed all of her business relations in connection with DA but to see to what extent she hid things is beyond shady.

  14. Erin Burns says:

    Yes, please do review more over here. I’ve followed you over here as well. I’m sorry you were put in this position.

  15. Miss Bates says:

    I like it here: I like your reviews. Small is, ahem, better.

  16. […] titles. I also don’t know that KatiD even knew about Jane/Jen. Based on what I’ve heard, and this post by willaful, it doesn’t sound like all the Dear Author bloggers knew about it until just before Jane made […]

  17. Glad you’re staying!
    This is not about the Ellora’s Cave authors. We seem to have been forgotten in the rush of judgments, and what happens next. Frankly, we are the pawns, shoved to the side in the frantic rush to Give Opinions.
    Meanwhile, we’re still stuck in limbo.

    • Samantha says:

      I donated to the fund so that EC’s practices were brought to light, instead of them trying to silence the blog who wrote that article. I have bought numerous books not EC related by the author’s that were stuck in the middle including yours. If EC author’s want that audit then open a gofundme and I would be more than happy to help you and the other author’s being screwed over. The issues are numerous. Readers, bloggers, reviewers, authors, the lawsuit, the entire community was dealt a blow. I feel for everyone that is hurt by quite a few people in Romance land. There are multiple people that should have to face the fire instead of sitting quietly on the sidelines. After reading more information on other blog sites that were aware of Jane/Jen I can only imagine how many more were in on the grand experiment. Not to mention the author friends that received reviews and what not on Dear Author. Very shady crap went down.

      • Thank you! Sometimes we feel invisible. It’s really appreciated that people feel that way towards us. And yes, it just gets worse, doesn’t it?

  18. Willa: I’m glad you shared, and have been so open about it. I’ve had so many changing feelings about it all with each new day, and what I am certain of is that I will make sure I have trust in the people I rely on for my online interaction (that sounds really weird, but I do feel as though the romance world is my community, for better or worse, and I don’t want to have to be looking over my shoulder wondering who to trust). I am sorry you had to go through this. I can tell you that I am who I say I am, even down to using my real name (except when I wrote as Megan Caldwell, but my real name was indicated there, too).

    • willaful says:

      Thanks, Megan. I have nothing against pseudonyms, obviously, but I do appreciate consistency. 🙂

      The looking over the shoulder thing sucks. I’m not generally a suspicious person and I don’t want to have to become one.

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