I usually avoid heavy discussions on my blacklistings, because I think it’s proper to respond with quick mocking, showing that I’m able to shrug it off. Which I do often. But this is a personal matter and the light needs to shine upon it. This is the story of how a working relationship and friendship can be destroyed when industry elites collude to destroy someone, and there’s no one strong enough to speak out against it. It’s important, and people need to know.
I’m very sad to report that the in-crowd’s destructive campaign has taken another toll. Jennifer Brozek, the editor of the first novel I published, and also the editor of the first anthology I was a part of as a professional sale, has joined the chorus of authors attacking me over my political affiliations on a recent blog post of hers. I believe Jennifer is a good person and a professional, but she’s been fed so much fake news about me and overwhelming negative harping on repeat that she’s unfortunately lost objectivity. Here’s the story of our work together and how the social pressures and politics took a toll on her:
Working On An Anthology Together:
I’ve worked with Jennifer Brozek since about 2014. I was a fledgling author then, not really knowing much about writing. She cultivated me and is more directly responsible for my career than almost anyone in the field. I trusted her, because she was giving me solid advice as a working professional along the way.
I originally pitched a Christmas anthology to Evil Girlfriend Media, based on a bizarro horror/romance story I wrote involving Krampus, which I thought was hilarious (though it was a little lewd, apologizes to my current readership if you pick it up!). Jennifer was brought in as the lead editor on this project. She brought in many of the publishing darling big names I used to admire into the anthology, Cat Rambo, Rachel Caine, Maurice Broadus and others. We worked together formulating the list of authors. I brought in some other folk who were great like Kevin J Anderson and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and we had a pretty good product at the end of the day. It took a lot of work to bring it together, and I learned a ton from Jennifer over the course of its creation.
She was then put on a hugo ballot for best short form editor by the Sad Puppies, because of her work on a Baen anthology. I know this both frightened her to be associated but thrilled to get the nomination. She really didn’t like that she was on the puppy slate, and stated such in interviews, but she thought she deserved the award, and she probably did (I voted for her). She didn’t win, because everyone was No Awarded by the sour group at worldcon that year. She said she was happy with the no awards result, which kept her in the good graces of the in-crowd who was opposed to almost anyone on the slate by association.
Jennifer then worked with me on my debut novel — which went on to be nominated for multiple awards as readers loved the book. There was a total of one chapter that she suggested I rewrite from scratch — and for good reason, and another scene which she suggested I change for amplification of a bigger point. Those scenes rewritten made the book much better as a whole. Jennifer will attest that I am a hard worker, eager to improve my craft, and I’m receptive to editorial comments. We worked together great and the product shows that. The book is better because of her work on it.
The book released. All was well. Our working relationship was great. I think if there weren’t the political pressure now she’d tell you I was fantastic to work with, and despite the fact that I’d definitely be prone to say otherwise with the deep personal betrayal from her as of late, I’ll tell you she was great to work with, it should have been fine and led to fruitful relations in the future.
President Trump was elected just a few days after my release.
How The Election Caused The Left To Turn On Their Friends On The Right
The timing was a bummer, it actually hurt my initial sales because no one was paying attention to entertainment during that week (pro-tip: don’t release a book during a presidential election!). The internet lost its collective mind, and the science fiction writers community displayed the ugliest, worst face of it. All of my friends on the left in sci-fi started rambling incoherently about how we’re literally becoming Nazi Germany, how death camps are going to happen, how the world’s going to end.
Jennifer was one of those posts as well which is here:
“I don’t think I’ve been more ashamed of my country in my life. Half the people have voted for an openly misogynistic, racist, hatemongering, sexual predator for president. One who gleefully threatens the rights of women, LBGT people, and minorities.
I guess I now know what Britian felt like with the Brexit.
Well, I just hope we survive “Mr. Brexit.”
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of hope with Trump/Pence in the Oval Office and the Republicans controlling Congress. I think there are going to be a lot of hard, terrible times for the United States.”
About one of the worst statements I’d seen on the election. Purely hateful and showing animus against moderates and conservatives. As a SFWA board member, she made it clear where she stood against those who voted for the president. She believes we voted for a monster, and therefore are associated with a monster. It’s well over the line. My response was rather tame, but I was sick of seeing such vitriol on my feed, and wanted to stand up to the echo chamber that was going on on facebook within the elitist SF author community. I was very respectful as I always am in these situations. I said:
I’ve never been more proud. It’s over we can stop the fear mongering and hate and work together now! No need for being ashamed of your friends, that’s not helpful! No one’s being threatened (except me, someone did literally threaten to kill me last evening so I haven’t slept — they were not a trump supporter).
The person who threatened to kill me over my Trump vote was a long time member of BayCon who runs the Klingon bar. No one cared about that, no one did anything about his threat on the BayCon con committee. Yet I was removed from my speaking at Baycon the next year just a couple of months later. It all started that night. It doesn’t matter how far these folk go, they hate anyone on the right, and feel justified taking it to any degree. They are unrepentant and don’t even care when actual terrible things (like death threats) happen to their friends.
I immediately received an email from Jennifer’s long time assistant, Sarah Craft. The first warning I would be blacklisted for having the wrong politics (the spelling is hers):
“As your publicist for the Rescue Run book, I’m going to advise you not to go on other people’s walls and argue about the election. You have your right to your opinion and other people have the right to their own. You are very welcome to post on your own wall about those opinions, but in the interests of the success of your new book, please do not argue on other people’s walls. And please refrain from any political comentary during promotion including on guest posts. We really don’t need a reason for people to not be excited about the novel. And political discussions are a kiljoy.
My response, which I’d say today as well:
“If people hate me because they’re going to hate, that’s their problem, not mine. That’s bigotry definition, period. I don’t tolerate/consider bigotry ever for any reason. Her post was hateful and resentful, I took exception to that as a friend because it does imply she’s hateful and resentful of me. I voiced it respectfully, I didn’t call names, i was positive, I mentioned how psychologically burdensome it is to be attacked relentlessly, and it is, I was not afforded the same courtesy. People are disgusting this cycle and I hope they can adult, but it looks a lot like they can’t. It’s sad.”
At this point, I was well on my way to blacklisting. And frankly, it’s only gotten worse as the cognitive dissonance within this crowd who posted such ugly things about how they’d never been more disappointed with the country saw the world getting better and everyone’s lives improving. None of the doom they predicted coming to pass. This is why they’ve gone overdrive the last year to try to blacklist, defame and destroy.
I Showed Jennifer Only Loyalty
My publisher, Katie Cord, months later told me that Jennifer in no way condoned what Sarah said, and that she didn’t have anything to do with that. I took this at face value, and decided to reach out in friendship again. I used my blog and social media multiple times over the last year to promote Jennifer’s projects, whether through her Apocalypse Ink productions or through a kickstarter she was a part of.
Jennifer gained a good number of followers because of one of my promotions of her, as most of my friends do when I promote their work. My readers are eager to follow folk who produce fun science fiction, and my fans take my word for what I say in that regard. They’re very loyal people, and the best fans in science fiction. Jennifer was quick to disavow, even though there was no cause for it, and it’s because of the social pressures that were slowly mounting at the time as I’d become famous for my contributions to center-right commentary webzine, The Federalist.
This was her first signal to the crowd calling for my head over my political affiliations. Why would she willingly turn away readers over politics? I feel bad as she must have been under some pressure to have to post this when all I was doing was promoting her. I never wished that for her, but only wanted to support her works, as I would for any of my friends.
I did not get the same respect back. When I sent For Steam And Country out for publicity, Jennifer did not reply to the email, despite the work I did to promote her. I know now that it was due to the tough bind she was in with the hatred in the small community of writers she’s a part of. Anyone who stands up gets torched and destroyed, even for something as simple as posting a book link. She couldn’t even do that despite the work I’d put into her. Fortunately, the book was known for its quality and reached thousands of readers anyway.
But as she said on the tweet, we remained friends through that month. Until her friend Cat Rambo decided I was getting too big, and it was time to destroy my career. This is where the pressure on Jennifer mounted and where our relationship unfortunately took a turn, not because of any problems between us, but because of the way others decided I must be destroyed.
Cat Rambo’s Hate Campaign
Cat has a lot of influence among the small crowd of left wing writers. She has been–credit where credit’s due–the master of the short story circuit. She’s had hundreds of shorts published in the pro-paying magazines, and because she cranks them out and has that great work ethic, she gained a reputation and eventually became the President of SFWA. She is also a toxic partisan who puts identity politics over everything. Her initial responses to me were purely because of hatred over my political associations, and it got worse because she sees everything I do colored with that lens.
The first interaction I ever had with Cat (outside reading a few of her stories) was when she went on a hate website File 770, where Mike Glyer linked my blog with some snark. She called my writing “egregiously stupid”, which, in her capacity as SFWA president, going and calling a debut author’s blog that is a conflict of interest at the very least. It was hurtful as well! Here I was just trying to sell books, and SFWA’s president is condemning me on a gossip site? Her entire job is to promote and foster the science fiction market, in theory. I took exception to this and we had a couple fights on twitter. This was Cat’s first time attacking me, and it was out of the blue, just like I’ve recently faced from authors like Scott Lynch and James S.A. Corey. Though I’m no threat to their careers, they can’t leave me or my readers alone.
But I tried to forgive and forget with Cat. I’d spoken to a prominent author at LibertyCon who told me Cat was a reasonable person and bridge builder. I took this offer at their word and tried to reach out to Cat over the month of August, and we had some friendly disagreements over politics, but generally cordial conversation. It was going well. She’d even agreed to try out reading my book which was edited by Jennifer and nominated for the Dragon Award. I sent her a complimentary copy.
Our budding friendship soured when I posted a deep analysis of the short fiction markets, and found through intense research, that men are actively discriminated against in the pro-paying markets. Cat couldn’t believe the truth because of cognitive dissonance, as she’d been fighting for women who were supposed to have been oppressed since she came on the scene. She bitterly proclaimed my analysis as “alt-numbers” to try to shame my very real metrics. She took to twitter, blasting my article. She, in an act in violation the rules of SFWA which before has been deemed a bannable offense, retweeted her own tweet from the main account to escalate the feud and to try to tarnish my credibility. Again, the president of an organization supposedly out there to advocate for science fiction writers, was doing everything she could to try to tear a newer author down. It was horrific from the vantage of a person just coming out with a second book. Enough was enough, so I fired back at this point, blasting back on Twitter and Facebook. Cat used the routine where she didn’t acknowledge she attacked me first, and acted like I attacked her out of nowhere, and that’s when the defamation campaign began.
In a last ditch attempt to salvage our relationship, I tried to ask her to appear on youtube. We’d talk about RPGs (which we both love), and both our audiences would tune in and be amazed and we’d promote each others work, it’d be great. Could you imagine the optic if this came to pass? How it might have actually built a bridge in sci-fi? I saw a really sea change and a utopian vision of true tolerance and diversity. I’m ever the optimist, which may be my main failing.
Cat responded with pure vitriol: “Your e-mails are unwanted and unsolicited. This and any further e-mails will be forwarded to my attorney.”
I was shocked. This was the President of the Science Fiction Writers of America acting like this to a science fiction writer who was planning a show on science fiction. Threatening legal action? Was this real? It seemed like a bizarro nightmare as i couldn’t have imagined someone treating another professional that way.
At this point, Cat’s attacks on me went too far. It was damaging my career. I made a meme poorly photoshopping her face onto the mean girls movie poster. She went ballistic at my response to her extreme negative overreaction to my offer to promote her, resulting in a whisper campaign telling science fiction writers to defriend me and disassociate with me. She defamed me on her facebook, warned people not to be friends with me. At this point she tangibly hurt my career by getting my cover artist Shawn King to block me, which has slowed the output of my books. About 10 other professionals who I won’t name as long as they’re not talking about me did the same. Jennifer was one of those who bowed to the pressure of this hateful campaign.
The people reacting to Cat’s message got nasty. Someone made an anonymous account on twitter and posted info about my children on my blog to try to “warn” me, doxxing them and spreading information on medical conditions. Someone else (or maybe the same person, both anon) sent a spring loaded package to my house. I emailed Cat saying enough is enough, to tell her followers to stop with this, it’s too far. Cat gave her tacit approval of these actions by not speaking up on my behalf despite my request. All of this came within a couple of weeks of each other, and all because of Cat Rambo’s hate campaign. It was frightening. I lay awake night after night, worried as someone had my address that they might break into my house and try to kill me or my children, all because I’d mentioned men weren’t getting a fair shake in short fiction markets.
I messaged Jennifer letting her know of my disappointment for her defriending me. She claimed she was taking a break from my negativity, though she’s friends with folk who post far more negative stuff on the opposite political side of the spectrum, of course those people are within the tight clique who try to destroy me personally and professionally. But I was told by other authors about the whisper campaign and messages demanding people disassociate with me. Since Jennifer is friends with Cat, I know what happened. It’s really sad that she didn’t try to get Cat to talk to me like a reasonable adult after what Cat did to me, as I’m a very forgiving guy and open to dialogue always, but Jennifer being in her position where most of her influence is among that SFWA circle of writers, without much base beyond that, could’t risk that. Instead, she gave into the demands to disassociate.
The Tragic End Of A Friendship
I remained positive. In December, I applied for SFWA. I qualified and was so excited to join an organization which had the likes of Poul Anderson and Jerry Pournelle in the past. Upon my request, Jennifer helped me find the information on the Naughty or Nice sale to prove I duly qualified for SFWA, and sent it to someone within the group, being very helpful on that first day. I didn’t know at the time that she would be approving of my blacklisting. But did she have much choice? We’ve seen what happens to anyone who dares speak out or whistleblow. It takes an incredibly brave person to risk career, friends, and actual harassment and danger in their homes. I totally understand why Jennifer would remain silent in such a situation.
It turned out that two of the SFWA board members conspired on a group called Codex Writers, when an author Merc Rustad led the Codex group into trying to take action about my SFWA app. The board members were planning to get me banned on 12/21/17, which was within 24-hours of my app being submitted. The members in the thread were Erin M Hartshorn and Sarah Pinkster. Merc also communicated with Cat Rambo via email, who took part in this. I have hard evidence of the transcript from the forum. They conspired to make sure I was banned first — and then SFWA came up with a reason 30 days later, as they scrambled to figure out how to do it under their bylaws. The intent was discrimination because I’m an outspoken political figure. This is something SFWA members need to see and remember. This could happen to you or any of your friends by fiat, because they have rules that don’t care about your professional status. It’s a very bad precedent they just set, regardless of how you feel about me personally.
SFWA went through with their planned discrimination, and coordinated a defamation campaign with several big name authors to occur right after. They thought they were going to be able to remove me from the industry by all coming out, calling me all sorts of defamatory names, and speaking together. They thought the pressure would be so overwhelming it’d make me go away. They were wrong, as I’m redoubling my efforts to fight against the bigotry in the field.
However the main casualty of this campaign was Jennifer Brozek. They finally got to her to the point where she decided to post a blog about me last evening, 1/24/18, and praise SFWA for discriminating against me and taking their immoral and potentially illegal actions for their non-profit.
I found this to be a tragedy. Jennifer, though she’d bowed to pressure at points before, at least remained quiet. Why? Because we’d worked together. She understood. But the critical mass of the defamation took its toll. I posted a response, very respectful just as my original post was when she was making comments about half the country in 2016. It’s important if I’m being discussed to be able to advocate for the truth. I posted this last evening:
Jennifer, unfortunately, went further. She acted as if I attacked her despite my professional approach to her tragic public approval of my blacklisting.
It’s a shame. Months terrified about what I’d do if she’d take a stand? What was there to take a stand against, Jennifer? Like usual, there’s accusations and never anything tangible I ever did wrong. Because if that was said, it’s easy to point out how I was simply acting in self defense.
I’ve been treated horrifically. And it began with the way Jennifer’s assistant treated me over my political views. This has all stemmed from that. And unfortunately, because of the very real blacklisting, the very real whisper campaigns, the very real attempts to destroy lives in this industry, Jennifer and anyone who knew me in that camp was complicit in allowing it to happen and escalating it. They couldn’t speak up. They know what happens if they do. And eventually, because no one does, they start to believe the libel and defamation repeated about me over and over by my detractors. It’s terrible. And it’s now on record.
My post on twitter that Jennifer referenced was because someone mentioned her, and I’ll post the full text here because it was a positive reply about Jennifer, something she never afforded to me despite my loyalty to her. It’s the only time I mentioned her outside of promoting her work this year. It’s because a fan asked a question and I was only completely supportive of Jennifer publicly as always, as you can see:
There is no “shield” or “hostage” situation like Jennifer hyperbolized to speak to the crowd who’s got their pitchforks ready for anyone who defends me — or even remains silent about me. This is taking a very non-situation and making it look like I’m some boogeyman because she is being pressured. It’s very sad to watch how the blacklisting works in real time, and how they get to folk.
But this is why they’re losing readers. This is why they’re losing power and market share. People see this, and they see the truth. this is the first time I’ve spoken in seriousness rather than jabbing back at the attacks and laughing it off while I continue to work hard every day writing and selling books. I don’t like spending this much time on this, when a quick tweet pointing it out and mocking the terrible behavior by the industry elites will do. Because I’m so positive and energetic all the time, that’s the real reason they hate me. They just can’t see how, with all the hate they throw at me, I can persevere and remain working and optimistic. Here’s a tip for you guys — it’s my faith in my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. It’s amazing how much God loves not only me, but you as well, and when you have your hope in things eternal, no slings and arrows of words can get you down for long. If you want to know more, I’m very friendly — please go ahead and message me. I’m always available to discuss Jesus.
Jennifer is a special case for me where I have to speak out in earnest, because she was a friend, someone I respect both personally and professionally. And over the course of one year, this is the damage that’s done when hate and bigotry prevail to the extent that it has. This is what happens when no one speaks truth to power and the elites are allowed to run rampant. The whistleblowers are the one who get all the weight of the corruption on their backs when there’s no protection for us. It’s all on the table now. I wish Jennifer the best, even though she certainly doesn’t hold that for me. It’s a shame.
If you appreciate my writings and my work, do check out my novels. My books are fun, everyone loves them right or left. And I love all of my readers regardless of who you are. That’s the way fiction’s meant to be. You can pick up For Steam And Country on Amazon.
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