Friday, November 04, 2011

Breaking My Word About Aspen Mountain Press

Yeah, yeah--I really thought I was done.  There are a lot of things I could be blogging about, but this one is sticking in my craw.

Since all this mess started, Sandra Hicks has been maintaining a low profile.  The splash page on the AMP website reads:

The Aspen Mountain Press web site is temporarily suspending operations.Over the past five years we've demanded high standards in all areas of the company from authors to editors to administrators.  Due to the current health of the owner these standards have not been met.We'd like to thank you for your support and patronage over this past half decade and apologize for any inconveniences this decision causes.

Due to the current health of the owner...

Makes it sound really bad, doesn't it?  Like the situation is dire?

Well, then let's take a look at the owner, Sandra Hicks, and her personal Facebook page. Her personal Facebook page tells an entirely different story.  This Sandra Hicks doesn't seem to have many health problems.  According to her posts, she is shopping to finish decorating her son's bedroom, going to concerts, baking pumpkin pies and...quoting Bible verses. A lot of Bible verses.

And yet, this is the same woman who just a few weeks ago in an  open letter to her unpaid and rebelling authors and staff claimed, "I can only work about two hours a day."

Obviously, if one is shopping, decorating, baking and going to concerts that doesn't leave a lot of hours in the day.  And, curiously, while the AMP authors and staff remain unpaid, Ms. Hicks can miraculously afford to redecorate her son's room?

Amazing recovery on her part--both financial AND physical.

I've canvassed the AMP authors and staff over the past few days.  Despite a minuscule trickle of rights reversion letters 10-14 days ago, no one has been paid or received their rights back since then.  I know since I had the 'latest betrayal in a long line of betrayals' voice message (ironic since apparently me not getting paid the royalties she owes me is now some kind of betrayal of her?) I haven't heard a peep from Sandra Hicks or Aspen Mountain Press.

We are now into November. I have not received any pay from Aspen Mountain Press since June.  That means that on November 15th, we'll be at the FIFTH consecutive month without receiving pay.  And yet, Sandra Hicks apparently feels holy enough to purchase the makings of pumpkin pies, to pay for concert tickets, to redecorate her son's room--and all with the royalties that AMP authors and staff members didn't get paid for.

How easy it is to steal someone else's money and spend it on yourself. And so, despite numerous articles and blog posts about the thievery ongoing at Aspen Mountain Press, including from Writer Beware and sites of that nature, Sandra Hicks apparently feels well enough--and safe enough--to spend the money she has illegally withheld from the authors and editors who actually EARNED that money.


The time for excuses is past.  The time for spurious claims of ill health or some other incapacity to follow through with her sorely abused authors and staff and to rectify her mistakes is long past.  At any time in the past five months, Sandra Hicks could have made even a tiny effort to recompense the well over a hundred authors and staffers for the over four hundred books that were published by Aspen Mountain Press.

She has not.

Instead, while claiming poor health, she's engaged fully in her new AMP-free days: spreading the word of God, baking pies, redecorating her son's room and attending concerts, sharing the joys of her life and the bounties of God's grace with her new pals from church, none of whom appear to be aware that she is responsible for financial hardship across multiple continents and blithely unconcerned with the suffering she's left in her wake.  She's not responding to emails, or phone calls, or registered letters, or text messages.  Nothing.  Nada.

And yet I am the betrayer for spilling her dirty little secrets, despite the fact that I almost lost my house while she redecorated hers?


Allow me to make myself VERY clear.  If Aspen Mountain Press and its owner, Sandra Hicks, do NOT respond in a clear cut fashion and make an effort to make amends to the writers, editors and staff who've been stolen from, I will release every single piece of correspondence, every financial record I was provided or had access to, and every single word of the transcripts I have for the multiple staff meetings I attended/ran as the managing editor at Aspen Mountain Press on this blog, other blogs, and whatever sites want to have them.  I will provide those materials to each and every author at Aspen Mountain Press for their legal cases. I will give that information to the journalist in Aurora, CO who's been asking me for an interview and whom, up to this point, I have refused.

A brand new countdown clock has just started. I would have been happy to deliver this message to Ms. Hicks in person and privately, but she's not answering her mail OR her phone these days.  But I'd damn sure be willing to bet that she's watching her Google Alerts, or that her husband, Jeff Hicks, the owner of 1PlaceForRomance (Mr. Hicks was also involved in an unsavory situation last year when AllRomanceEbooks sued him for copyright infringement and the third party site cancelled AMP's ability to upload books to the ARE site, naming Sandra Hicks as a co-respondent in the lawsuit) is.  As a matter of fact, judging from the undeniable truth that the only time Ms. Hicks has contacted me since my departure from AMP had to do either with getting money from me (the Aurora Regency deal) or to accuse me of betraying her as the result of a blog post, this is probably the ONLY way to get the warning to her ears.

Close the doors permanently, Sandra.

Give the authors their rights back.

And then pay the people you owe the money you owe them instead of going on about your business like there's not a thing in the world wrong with what you're doing.

There is something very wrong with what you're doing.  You have become what you once preached against--you, the leader in the fight against the scam publishers that burned you and your rights back in the day.

No matter how many Bible quotes you regurgitate, you have become a scam publisher yourself--an electronic pirate garbed in the spoils you've earned from the labor of others.

Just get it over with.

There's not a person in the world stupid enough to believe that you're at death's door when you're spending your energy, time and OUR money redecorating your son's room.  Seriously.