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Thread: Damnation Books

  1. #226
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    FWIW, Damnation Books has a table in the World Horror dealers' room this weekend (similar to what was noted upthread a year or two ago). Spotted a couple of my friend's books there, and also an anthology which I remember was calling for submissions last year or so.

    Seeing them there tonight was what prompted me to come looking for this thread and read it through, hoping against hope that there'd be some good news about them by the end. Sad to hear it's otherwise. It makes me feel very conflicted about purchasing books from them--though my friend was enthusiastic about me doing so.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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  2. #227
    Today is your last day. FOTSGreg's Avatar
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    Wow, I can't believe it's been 3 years since I visited this thread.

    In the intervening time, covers for ebooks have evolved significantly until they are at least as important for drawing in a reader as they are for a paperback or hardback book.

    Amazon posts a cover image. Smashwords posts a cover image. PubIt! posts a cover image. It's the cover image that first attracts your eye and draws you in to at least take a look at the ebook's contents.

    I've seen cover images that looked like they were drawn by a child using a crayon (which they basically were) and professionally-developed cover images from the Big 6. There's an enormous difference in the quality, naturally.

    So, imho, covers for ebooks have become as important for ebooks as they are for paperbacks and hardbacks.

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  3. #228
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    So here I am at the World Horror Con, and, as it turns out, not only is Damnation Press selling books here, but also Kim Gilchrist is here. She was on this morning's panel about small presses.

    During that panel, another panelist (J. L. Benet) spoke highly of Absolute Write's BR&BC thread when the topic turned to need to research small presses before signing with them. (Writer Beware and Pred&Ed were also mentioned, and also just Googling the press's name with "scam" added to the search string to see if any red flags come up.)

    When the microphone came around to Gilchrist, she (politely, calmly) registered disagreement with Benet about AW, saying she can't recommend AW because she's been flamed there and because she's had authors threaten to badmouth her there if she didn't do what they demanded.

    Now. I've read this thread. I think her refusal to release discontented authors from their contracts without them paying her $800+ first is a pretty despicable act. That post of hers that MM quoted was pretty darn unprofessional. And even if I weren't familiar with her name from this thread, I have an innate distrust of anyone saying "Don't go to AW; they all gang up on publishers to flame them there." I've been here years. I know what's usually behind such an accusation: They didn't just take my word for it that I'm a good, successful, author-friendly publisher! They asked me hard questions I was uncomfortable answering! They told people not to sign my contracts, and I can't see what's wrong with my contract, so there must be nothing wrong with my contract, and they're just mean! They don't want my business to succeed!

    But here's the thing: On this very thread, we had people calling her -- and these are all direct quotes, I've got the thread open in another tab so I get it word-for-ford -- "a failed author turned 'publisher'," "too chicken shit to come on here and explain herself," "we call her the Dragon Lady," "going out of her way to start wars with her authors." (I also remember, but cannot find to quote, a pretty nasty bit about how she's just trying to grab anything she can get.)

    Some of the people commenting turned out to be sockpuppets (see the great sockpuppet invasion of 2011 in the "birthers" thread at TIO and you'll recognize names from the earlier part of this thread). But some are regulars in good standing.

    In most cases, our hardworking moderators and some others of our regulars squashed that crap pretty hard. I can't praise that highly enough. Our community is a fantastic one. But we have to stay fantastic. We have to strive always, despite heated tempers, to hold ourselves to a high standard of discourse in the first place.

    Here's the thing. I'm not trying to defend Gilchrist's business practices. But when criticizing a publisher's practices, it's supremely important that we here at BR&BC confine ourselves to the facts: what the contract said, whether the publisher upholds it, what the advance/royalty terms are and whether the checks come in like they should. Every negative comment needs to be an observation of fact -- "they did this," "the contract says that" -- or a factually-derived opinion -- "this contract term/business practice is bad for authors and here's why."

    The moment we start in with the personal insults, accusation of malign motivation, sweeping statements of moral character, or claiming to know someone else's inner state, that's when we lose the high moral ground. That's when we lose the ability to go back to the facts to defend our words. That's when someone like Gilchrist can say she got flamed here and be absolutely correct. The real people here in this very real audience who heard her say that she got flamed here, they can find the posts here in this thread calling her "chicken shit" or "Dragon Lady" and see for themselves that it's true, she was flamed.

    Please, y'all. It's understandable that we're going to have publishers coming away from this forum feeling persecuted, and we can't let that keep us from sharing information and dispassionately analyzing contracts. We have to protect authors.

    But for crying out loud, don't give them ammunition. Don't give their persecution complexes any basis in fact!

    I'm sure I've done it myself from time to time. I'm human. But I shouldn't do it, and I'm going to renew my commitment to this right here, right now.

    Stay classy, y'all.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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  4. #229
    If you don't try, you can't fail AnneGlynn's Avatar
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    Thanks, Niki, for sharing your thoughts. "Classy" is a good thing.

    Now that you've been to this year's Horror Con, what are your feelings about Damnation Books?
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  5. #230
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    Niki- great post. Seriously. This needs to be reposted in several threads here in BR&BC.

  6. #231
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    In this thread's defense, both the "chicken shit" and "Dragon Lady" remarks were made by trolls: Sock puppets talking to other sock puppets. Those socks have been identified, labeled, and banned.

    I suppose I could go through the thread and put THIS POST WAS MADE BY A SOCK PUPPET--DISREGARD IT at the top of each.

  7. #232
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Btros's Avatar
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    Question about Damnation Books (figured I'd just post it here instead of starting another thread):

    Is the beef with them just that they charge you an unreasonable termination fee to get out of your contract early when you're not happy with their services? From what I can gather, the author with the biggest issue was unhappy with the cover and wanted out before his five years were up? Is that the main gripe?

    Just curious, because I have a work that was accepted for publication by DB, and I really don't care if they keep the rights for five years. What I'm wondering is if they are a legitimate publisher, or if they're one of these pseudo-publishers that basically accepts anything they get and just takes a cut of the sales for doing things you could do yourself.

  8. #233
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    My opinion:

    Termination clause is awful. It's a ridiculous amount, and shouldn't be required at all.

    The covers are very amateur. I personally wouldn't buy a book with a cover that weak, and I know I can't be alone. As an author, I would cringe to be given a cover that looked like many of theirs. As such, I wouldn't submit.

    The content is also weak. I remembered being unimpressed before, so I just read samples on four different books. I saw a couple of grammatical errors, though not as many as I've seen with some presses, but they just a general sense of not quite there writing. I'm sure they have some that are better than others, but it either shows a willingness to publish things that aren't quite ready to be published, or a lack of editing ability. Neither would speak well to me.


  9. #234
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    In this thread's defense, both the "chicken shit" and "Dragon Lady" remarks were made by trolls: Sock puppets talking to other sock puppets. Those socks have been identified, labeled, and banned.

    I suppose I could go through the thread and put THIS POST WAS MADE BY A SOCK PUPPET--DISREGARD IT at the top of each.
    Uncle Jim, just saying this is good cause for an early morning coffee cheers from me. Cheers!

  10. #235
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    Quote Originally Posted by Btros View Post
    Just curious, because I have a work that was accepted for publication by DB, and I really don't care if they keep the rights for five years. What I'm wondering is if they are a legitimate publisher, or if they're one of these pseudo-publishers that basically accepts anything they get and just takes a cut of the sales for doing things you could do yourself.
    Yo,
    if you mean legitimate in the sense of respected - try variations of 'damnation books author wins award' or 'damnation books with another winner' or something in Google. If you get positive and real results, then the answer is yes.

    If you mean legitimate in the sense of helping their books become commercially successful - check their books closest to yours in genre on Amazon. If the sales ranks (I recommend Kindle, because that's usually the strength of smaller guys) hover within the top 100 for paid Kindle - you've got yourself a winner. If they all wobble around the top 10 - 50 000 - you've got yourself a pretty OK mid-level situation. If the books that you check out are all around like 500 000 or 1 000 000 in paid Kindle - then, obviously, the only way to succeed commercially with them would be to take command of your marketing yourself.

    This still wouldn't necessarily mean that they are 'illegitimate', but it would mean that they are probably not the people through whom it is realistic to become commercially successful, unless you think that a) they are basically decent folks who just needed a real winner to appear and that winner is you, or b) that you're still beginner level and have to see the publishing process from the inside a few times with smaller guys, before trying 'for real', which is also OK, albeit time and effort consuming. And probably best done with pen names.
    Last edited by dondomat; 06-18-2013 at 06:51 AM.

  11. #236
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Btros's Avatar
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    Thanks both for the good info. I also reread my comment and I really hope it didn't come off as flippant toward anyone who voiced a concern about the publisher. Appreciate your comments.

  12. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneGlynn View Post
    Now that you've been to this year's Horror Con, what are your feelings about Damnation Books?
    I revisited this thread after I saw their table in the dealer's room; their name rang a bell with a sour note in it, so I was worried, especially after I saw a good friend's books in their stock. That particular friend seems happy to be with them, and I do regret I never made it back down in time to buy a copy. I also saw them selling an anthology I remember seeing the call for submissions for; that anthology contains authors whose names I know of repute along side the names I don't recognize. (Except... now that I look up Corrupts Absolutely, I see it is associated with Bastard Books, not Damnation -- so I'm not sure why I saw it on Damnation's table. Maybe the two tables were next to each other?)

    So clearly some people who I consider authors-in-the-know are publishing with them in one form or another.

    The covers of the books on their table didn't make my eyes bleed or anything, though none of them wowed me.

    Gilchrist's contribution to the panel I attended did not strike me as unprofessional in the least, though when she mentioned having been flamed on AW and not recommending it therefore, I did wince. She said it calmly and without sounding vindictive, but it still made me want to facepalm for her. Meanwhile, an author friend sitting next to me leaned in and whispered, "If authors were telling her they'd report what she did to Absolute Write, it's probably because she did something that needs reporting." She went on to note that she's got friends published with Damnation/Eternal who've share some unhappy experiences with her.

    That is the sum total of all I heard from or about Damnation Press while at World Horror this year.

    Nothing about the Con, or about seeing friends' names on book covers and antho TOCs on Damnation's table, has changed my mind about the undesirability of Damnation's "kill fees" practice. It seems to me that poor sales are a very good reason for an author to want their rights back, and that many epublishers have specific rights-reversion language in their contracts for just that reason; and that holding a book for some arbitrary amount of years despite a dearth of sales unless the author pays up is predatory.

    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    In this thread's defense, both the "chicken shit" and "Dragon Lady" remarks were made by trolls: Sock puppets talking to other sock puppets. Those socks have been identified, labeled, and banned.

    I suppose I could go through the thread and put THIS POST WAS MADE BY A SOCK PUPPET--DISREGARD IT at the top of each.
    Yes, I did in fact note this very thing in my post! The majority of those setting the flamebait were handles who are now clearly marked as "Sockpuppet"; ditto in the Eternal Press thread (which I finally read yesterday). Maybe your addition would make that more obvious, I don't know. But I do know--and this is what really bothers me--that some of the people chiming in eagerly behind Clementine and showme and Kensington and the rest were not marked as sockpuppets or as "banned" or the like. They were members in good standing (although I admit luvreading still has only some 50 posts).

    I appreciate that others of our regulars pushed back. (I especially appreciate Stacia in the Eternal thread telling off one of the sockpuppets for their nasty comments about those suffering mental illness.) At times moderators closed the thread, reopening it only cautiously. That was good too. But the band-wagon-jumping-upon by people who weren't part of that particular sockpuppet hivemind was disturbing, as was how long the whole thing went on. I'm not condemning the thread outright; I just can't help wondering if it could have been handled better. Not necessarily such that Gilchrist wouldn't have come away feeling hard-done-by; she'd have felt that regardless--but just such that I'd feel less conflicted sending to this thread any author friend who wanted to know about Damnation Press but wasn't familiar with AW.

    Basically, since yesterday's panel and Gilchrist's comments therein--since, essentially, my real-life reminder that the people whose business practices we investigate here do in fact occupy real life and we may come face to face with them at any moment--I've just become hyper-aware of the onus upon us to always bring our best game to this forum. And it seemed valuable to share that feeling with y'all.
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  13. #238
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    The thing is, how else are we supposed to handle it ("we" as in the AW community, not the mods in particular)? We can't tell people what opinions they are and are not allowed to express, as long as they follow the One Rule. This is an internet forum where pretty much anyone can sign up and join the conversation. Readers of these threads really should be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to deciding who's worth listening to/whose opinions are worth taking seriously.

    We all felt the termination fees were and are unfair, to put it mildly. There's nothing wrong with saying so; that's what this forum is for. But I know I personally tried very hard to be objective, and I know I'm not the only one. Discussions of the termination fee were pretty unanimously against, but I saw a lot of people defending this publisher against the more outrageous and uninformed opinions expressed--and yes, that includes the disgusting and offensive comments about mental illness, which frankly I think show any person with any intelligence what kinds of people those comments come from, and how much weight to give their other posts.

    Whether or not someone is labeled as a sockpuppet is far less important than the fact that when a sockpuppet says something like, "Well, that contract is obviously illegal because it wasn't signed in front of a lawyer," a bunch of us said, "No, it isn't." Labeling someone a sockpuppet is far less important than the fact that when the sockpuppets said things like, "It's totally the right thing to do to violate a contract," a bunch of us said, "No, it is absolutely not, and an attorney who has all the information has said so."

    We provide a place where people can speak. It's a conversation, and in conversations sometimes people express opinions others may not like and some people will correct them or express differing opinions or whatever. People here have said all kinds of rude or silly or incorrect things, and expressed all kinds of criticism and positive remarks about all kinds of publishers or publishing methods or whatever else. The fact that the discussion takes place here doesn't mean we personally approve of every statement made in every thread, and usually we say so.

    When I read an internet forum and see people saying outrageous things, and then see moderators or people with experience and credentials on that topic expressing differing opinions, I know whose opinions I'm going to listen to. I can't imagine I'm the only person who feels that way and I honestly think that anyone calling themselves a writer should have at least enough reading comprehension to tell who's legit and who has an axe to grind.

    Personally I felt the members here did a pretty good job defending Ms. Gilchrist against some of the more ridiculous accusations and statements made here, and I'm sorry she feels that by letting those comments stand and openly, publicly refuting them (as opposed, I guess, to deleting them) she thinks AW somehow "flamed" her. I wonder if she would have preferred us to simply delete them without refutation, thus allowing the sockpuppets and axe-grinders the chance to go elsewhere and make the same statements without refutation--and without, then, even the chance for people to see them, Google Damnation, and find this thread to read various publishing professionals here express differing opinions.

    If you're going to charge a rather outrageous termination fee, you should expect that writers will have something to say about it. It's not AW's fault that they did, and it's not our fault that rather than delete some of the more outrageous and misinformed statements we chose instead to point out publicly why they were outrageous and misinformed.
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  14. #239
    Ships full of vampires are hell. AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    From a link tweeted by Writer Beware, an author blogged about her ongoing dispute with Eternal Press/Damnation Books:

    http://www.terribruce.net/index.php?...fter&Itemid=81

    So…what, exactly, happened?

    Well, basically, when I received the final proof copy of Thereafter on April 28th (for a May 1st release date) from the publisher (Eternal Press, a division of Damnation Books), it was riddled with errors. In addition, the publisher had made quite a few substantial changes to the voice/tone/style of my writing, changes that were never discussed with me and certainly not approved by me.


    In short: The final/publisher's version of Thereafter make me sound like an illiterate git.


    Every book has a few errors. That’s just life. However, Thereafter has 194 errors and 84 erroneous changes. Let me repeat that: THEREAFTER HAS TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY THINGS WRONG WITH IT…in a 252 page book.

    164 of these errors are formatting errors.
    According to the blog post, she tried to work things out amicably, but will now be going to court to sort things out.
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  15. #240
    practical experience, FTW Lordofthehunt's Avatar
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    I've spoken with Terri and, unfortunately, she's in the same position as I am. Kim Richards will not budge even despite my already having a legal judgment against Damnation Books.

    To date, my books, Resurrection and At the Gates (through DB), respectively, have earned her $4535.21 and $3920.38 in pure profit, and yet, to my face at World Horror Con, she told me she still expected me to pay $1,000 for each book if I want to get them back, no exceptions. Therefore, she's telling me that each book cost over $5,500 to produce. (Out of pocket for DB: cover art $50, editing: $0 (editor paid based on sales only, with no minimum), producing the book: DB gets the better end of a 60/40 split for exactly that purpose, the potential profit on a 5 year contract. ISBNS: bought in bulk means less $1 to $5.75 per version. Not sure how any of this adds up to $5,500)

    Here is the contract term she's ignoring: Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.

    BTW, she also told me, and the court, directly that she's not obligated to provide any sort of cost breakdown on these charges she's claiming.
    Last edited by Lordofthehunt; 07-10-2013 at 03:02 PM.

  16. #241
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Terri Bruce has gone ahead with legal action against Damnation. From that article:

    A Sonoma County judge on Wednesday agreed there was evidence to support Bruce's claim and ordered the publisher to stop selling, distributing or promoting the novel until the dispute is resolved.

    The book appeared to have been listed for sale on Amazon. A paperback version of her first book, “Hereafter,” was going for $16.31.


    “Plaintiff has demonstrated through competent evidence that she will likely prevail in this matter,” Daum wrote in his tentative ruling.
    As I just said in the Round Table thread where this has been mentioned, this case has very interesting implications for writers who have signed with any publishers with similar approaches. Of which there are many.

  17. #242
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    I think I only have a year left for mine and my royalty payments are depressing, but I know my books are still selling on certain sites, including Amazon UK, which I've never seen on my statements. I'm tempted to bring it up (like I've brought this up before) but I'm afraid they're just going to say the same thing in that some of these places are on a majorly delayed payment schedule. If they don't get paid you don't get paid. I think it's just I don't get paid.

    I'd pitch a bitch about it but I don't think I'd get anywhere with it. So I made a conscious decision (that I learned from my mistakes) and never sent them another novel again. And all the new stuff I write now, I make sure the publisher has a good reputation.
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  18. #243
    practical experience, FTW JulesJones's Avatar
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    Email sent by Kim Richards to a public Yahoo mailing list yesterday:
    Damnation Books has a call for horror submissions. No, despite recent rumors, our contract DOES NOT have termination fees...hasn't for over fifteen months now. We originally included them because the author in me wanted to be nice and allow writers a way to buy out their contracts if they want. Heck, my cell phone contract has one...they're a viable way of doing business. However, after the criticism and complaints, we took them out. It's actually to the company's advantage NOT to offer those. For me, this falls into the realm of 'no good deed goes unpunished'.
    While it doesn't say explicitly, I would assume from the phrasing that she no longer allows early termination even for a price, rather than reducing the price to one that realistically reflects Damnation's losses.
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  19. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulesJones View Post
    Email sent by Kim Richards to a public Yahoo mailing list yesterday: While it doesn't say explicitly, I would assume from the phrasing that she no longer allows early termination even for a price, rather than reducing the price to one that realistically reflects Damnation's losses.
    Termination fees are not standard in a publishing contract. No matter what kind of spin she's trying to put on it now, they're not author-friendly. Especially not when she seems always to have asked for the maximum amount allowed by the contract.
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  20. #245
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Her original contract--at least the one we saw posted here--didn't include the termination fee, either. (Or any termination clause.)
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  21. #246
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    I love the "As an author I wanted to be able to spend hundreds to cancel my contract" angle. I'd think that, as an author, she'd want to be able to cancel without having to pay up. That just reeks of making up an excuse she thinks sounds better than it was purely for business because she wanted to make money on books that were being taken away so she couldn't make money on them the traditional way.

    I'm not buying it. In fact, it kind of offends me that she thinks authors will nod and smile and say "oh, that was so nice of you!"


  22. #247
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    That's quite the spin. 'Fees are better than never allowing termination'. Well, yes, but there is another option. Especially if the author wants out because of shortfallings in the publisher's performance.
    Emily Veinglory

  23. #248
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    Just adding a link to Naomi Clark's blog post today about Damnation Books and why she doesn't promote her own books that have been published through DB.

    http://naomiclarkwrites.blogspot.com...t-elephant.htm

  24. #249
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neicolec View Post
    Just adding a link to Naomi Clark's blog post today about Damnation Books and why she doesn't promote her own books that have been published through DB.

    http://naomiclarkwrites.blogspot.com...t-elephant.htm
    Looks like she took the link down.
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  25. #250
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undercover View Post
    Looks like she took the link down.
    Try this one: http://naomiclarkwrites.blogspot.com...-elephant.html
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