Monday, October 13, 2014

Copyright Infringement Timeline

One of the arguments Tiffanie Rushton put in her email pretending to be a friend of "author" Sam Taylor Mullens was that Mullens/Ruston had been given the manuscript by a now-deceased friend who said it was out of print.


"At the time, for some strange reason there were no copies we could locate and Sam took this man’s word. In the meantime, we had no idea you renamed, recovered and digitalized your original work. Perhaps this is the reason it was not discovered. Who knows?"

Well, out of print doesn't mean up for grabs, though apparently that is the implication. But the investigators discovered that this timeline reveals a lot more about the case. For details and screenshots of each August event click here.


Timeline of Events in Nunes vs Rushton Plagiarism Case


Tiffanie Rushton and three aliases, Jennifer Greer, Haxxxx (name redacted as well as others in this article--you'll know why when you reach Sept. 12th), Emma K (last name redacted), post one-star reviews on my novel Love to the Highest Bidder / A Bid for Love. Both versions of the novel were hit for a total of five reviews. (Screenshot below.)

May 8

I posts to my writers group about a vicious review posted by Simple Book Reviews (owned by Rushton) on Amazon that appeared on or around the previous day.

June 21

Reviewers begin posting reviews of The Auction Deal, the plagiarized version of the novel.

July 6-12

The Auction Deal is published on Amazon.

August 1

Emails alerting me to the fact that my book had been plagiarized and that STM (AKA Tiffanie Rushton) claims I collaborated on The Auction Deal with her.

August 3-4

After waiting several days to see if “Sam” contacts me, I email her asking for a review copy. I also posts on Sam's blog asking about it.

From the reports I hear of her actions, I suspect that STM (AKA Tiffanie Rushton) is going to vanish and republish my book under another name, so I email eight reviewers and ask them for a copy of the book or if they will compare my book with STM's for themselves.

STM (AKA Tiffanie Rushton) emails to say she isn’t going to publish the book but has no idea how the books are so similar. I responds by asking again for a copy and say that if Rushton hasn’t plagiarized there shouldn’t be any problem with her going ahead with her release so please send a copy.

A cached screenshot that proves The Auction Deal was already for sale on Amazon, though Rushton had since unpublished it. Also, Goodreads buy button shows it was for sale at one time.

Six reviewers respond to me: one said that he’d compared the books and there was definitely a copyright problem, one said she deleted her review, two said that they’d look into it, and two Rushton aliases, Jennifer Greer and Mercedes Booklover D (last name redacted), berate me for asking. Mercedes threatens to picket bookstores against my books and report me for harassment to my former publisher, run by her aunt (which turned out not to be true). Jennifer tells me that STM would have been doing me a favor to rewrite my terrible book. One of the real reviewers says the book tour was canceled.


August 5-7

One new reviewer contacts me. She and two of the reviewers who previously responded say that the book was definitely stolen.

Rushton’s aliases begin to harass and malign me publicly on Facebook and privately though email, including negative comments on Thirty Second Reviews blog. (Last name redacted)

August 5

Tiffanie Rushton emails me as a "friend" of STM, claiming that STM did start with her book because a now-dead friend gave her the manuscript.

August 6

Tiffanie Rushton uses her STM alias to sends out emails to reviewers claiming to be my niece, that I gave her permission to use the book, and that Rushton came up with the idea for the story but can’t admit to it because she added sex and her family would be displeased and she'd be kicked out of church and maybe lose her husband.

Amazon: negative reviews of my books appear on Tiffanie Rushton/Simple Book Reviews (which later becomes briefly Jennifer Greer).

August 7

I publish my blog outlining basic facts and asking for help from the community to discover who STM is.

Ten more negative reviews of my books appear on Amazon by Avid Reader. Rushton alias Mercedes D (name last redacted) also reviewed under this name.

August 8

Tiffanie Rushton responds as STM to my August 4 email, saying she isn’t publishing the book and to stop harassing reviewers. Since every reviewer has been polite (except those suspected to be STM aliases), it is obvious this isn’t going to be resolved peacefully or reasonably.

I begin initial consult with an attorney.

A reviewer sends me a copy of The Auction Deal. Comparison proves the book had been stolen.

August 9

Go Fund Me account created at urging of David Farland.

August 12

Someone comes forward and I learn that Tiffanie Rushton is the real name for Sam Taylor Mullens. I am afraid to turn on my computer for fear of what will happen next.

August 13-25

Investigators verify that STM is Tiffanie Rushton and her aliases Jennifer Booklover, Jennifer Booklover Greer, Mercedes D (last name redacted), Abby F (last name redacted), Lucy Evans (new author Rushton created after the plagiarism came to light, revealing her every intention of continuing her career path).

Using the alias Gibson C (last name redacted) Rushton harasses a blogger Crystal for offering Rachel a copy of the book (though she was not the one who actually ended up giving it to Rachel).

"Jennifer Booklover" harasses me publicly and privately and takes responsibility for negative Amazon reviews. Her account is temporarily suspended by Facebook. The picture on the account was traced to an non-connected Instagram account. Later that same day, she manages to reactivate the Facebook account under "Jennifer Greer," and posts again, but Amazon unpublishes it again and marks the messages as spam.

Rushton alias Aubrey P (last name redacted) also takes responsibility for the negative Amazon reviews (August 14).

Jennifer Booklover, Jennifer Greer, and Abby F (last name redacted) publicly post negative comments on the Go Fund Me account, saying it’s a scam (total of four posts August 14-16).

It is discovered that the prologue to Rushton's first novel, Hasty Resolutions was taken from an article written by combat veteran Chase Weston wrote about his real life experiences. Attempts to contact him begin.

August 26

Complaint is filed: Nunes v. Rushton.

September 2

Complaint is served.

September 8

Abby F (last name edacted) makes more harassing comments on Goodreads and on my blog.

September 11-12

It is confirmed that Rushton's prologue from Hasty Resolution was plagiarized from Chase Weston's article. His wife writes an open letter to Tiffanie Rushton detailing the damage Rushton has done to them.

Parents of Rushton’s last year students discover their children’s names and school-issued email addresses were used as Rushton’s aliases. It is verified that at least twelve children’s names or variations were used. (That's right. All those names redacted above are full names of actual children except Mercedes who had only the last name used, presumably because the corresponding first name was used in Rushton's actual pen name.) Parents apparently decide not to go public with the news, but they follow through with the school district and the police department. Rushton is suspended from teaching.

September 21-22

Rushton poses as a parent of the children whose identities she stole to harass me and try to get blog posts removed (comments on my blog and at least two others). Parents verify that they did not post comments. One blogger confirms that comments came from Rushton's computer.

September 27

Rushton responds to the complaint, saying that she denies the claims due to the fact that she doesn't have enough information to prove or deny them.

October 8

Another hateful comment appears on the Go Fund Me (still working to confirm identity).

October 13

Parents of children tell me that Davis County school officials sent letters stating that Tiffanie Rushton is no longer teaching because of knee surgery. KNEE SURGERY. No mention of stealing children's names and email addresses or of plagiarism. 

October 24

My attorney tells me it will likely cost another $30,000, even if they do a summary judgment and 100,000 to go to a jury trial. That much to get someone not to plagiarize and harass me. So a total of $120,000 to ask for a judgment of $150,000 that will likely never be paid. I feel like I've entered the Twilight Zone. We have a legal system that victimizes the victim yet again, and where only the rich can seek justice.

Due to pending litigation, this post will not be further updated.

Please consider making a donation on the Go Fund Me account. Even five or ten dollars will help. At the very least, could you please share this on Facebook, Twitter, and other groups sites? I need help to make this all end. Thank you!


Aubrey P  (real child’s name so last name has been redacted) claims responsibility for one star reviews.

Emma K (real child's name so last name has been redacted) positive reviews of Rushton's novels and negative of Love to the Highest Bidder in May. Also other reviews of novels above an eight-year-old's maturity level.

Fake parent comments:

Screenshot of comments from friend of Chase Weston (posted on visit for rest of comments):


More not-so-subtle digs from Mercedes D  (real child’s last name redacted):

Other blogs and articles

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Plagiarism is Personal

There has only been one event in my life that has been more traumatic than having my story, lovingly and painstakingly written over the course of many months, stolen and skewed by someone in my own community. As one writer says, plagiarism is a very personal offense, so personal that it is difficult for him to talk about his own experience after fourteen years.

But with all the added drama in my case, it also feels like a literal physical attack. FEELS, not felt, because I’m still dealing with it every day and could be for another year or more. The time loss is alone is staggering. Time I could be spending with my children. Time I could have been writing. The lifetime earnings I won’t make on the book I didn’t write in these past months is something I’ll never recoup.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rushton is no longer teaching, according to parents who made sure the school district acted after they discovered that she used their children's names as aliases to review her books and attack and harass me. But they tell me the school district sent out a letter saying that she was not teaching because of knee surgery. No mention of stealing books or children's names. From what I understand, the knee surgery was not the reason she was removed, but no doubt they would not appreciate negative publicity.

She stole my book. Do I let her steal my financial future by getting into huge debt to pay for a judge to make her stop? If I don't, I might as well just email her all my future manuscripts because there will be nothing to stop her from plagiarizing them as well.

Would I do it again? Take her to court. Would it have been better just to police her quietly and make sure she didn’t plagiarize me again? Think of it: no more alias attacks on the Go Fund Me, no more wasted time, no more emotional breakdowns. No more sleepless nights worrying about losing my entire savings and taking on huge debt that will never be reimbursed even after judgment (think about how hard it is for women to get child support). No more days wasted on the case.

Would it have been better for Chase Weston not to know his story had been stolen and skewed? Would the victim children and their parents prefer never to know that their children’s names and email addresses were being use to review erotica? Maybe they would deal better with that in ten years when they went to make their own Goodreads and Facebook accounts and found the fake accounts. Would the school district been better off not having to find another teacher or write her excuses?

You tell me. I do know that I want my life back the way it was. Not many people can understand how truly horrible this has been. People are full of advice and comfort, and I have greatly appreciated this, but at the end of the day, I'm still the one holding this huge bag of emotion and debt. In two months, the bills total $16,000 and there is no end in site. I'm afraid to see what the October bill will bring. I'm not a NYT bestelling author. That represents half the money I earned my best year when I was with a publisher the one year I released four books. In just two months.

I wish this could go away. I wish that Rushton would have taken responsibility so we could have resolved this between the two of us. I wish I could trust that she wouldn't simply republish my book and others under a different pen name. Sadly, the coments under the aliases shows a return to normal for me is not likely to happen unless a court order is involved. From all I can see, she doesn't feel she's done anything wrong.

If you think it's important to get this into court, I need your help. I need you to share this, to do what you can to let people hear about it. I know there are a lot of important causes, and I respect that. I never thought this would be me. But it is. Next time, if I don't stop her, it could be anyone.

Please consider making a donation on the Go Fund Me account. Even five or ten dollars will help. At the very least, could you please share this on Facebook, Twitter, and other groups sites? I need help to make this all end. Thank you!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Plagiarism—What Does Your Publisher Say? Or Do You Even Have One?

When word that my novel, A Bid for Love, had been plagiarized blasted across the Internet, several people asked me where my original publisher was in all this. Or did I even have a publisher? And if so, why weren’t they involved? And if I wasn’t with a publisher anymore, where did I stand on indie vs traditional publishing?

We’ll get to the indie vs trad in an upcoming post, but as for the original publisher of A Bid for Love, it went out of print and the rights reverted to me. I sold it to another publisher and they eventually closed doors and returned the rights. This time, I opted to indie publish.

“But if you had a publisher,” some have said, “you wouldn’t have to fight this plagiarism battle alone.”

Nonsense. Even if I hadn’t received the rights back to A Bid for Love, given the size of the publisher, they’d be lucky to be making a few thousand dollars a year on the book. Do you really think they’d spent the big money I have paid so far to stop copyright infringement? Do you think they care that I've been bullied, harassed, and defamed? Maybe, but they wouldn’t go to court over it. I believe no publisher would go to court for an author unless that book was making enough money to make it worth their bottom line. Of course, since they employ attorneys, it might be far less expensive for them to sue. It wouldn’t take a lifetime of savings like it would an indie author. But still, most times publishers aren't going to do it, not even to stop harassment, and who can blame them? (There are also no writers organizations I could find that have something in place for plagiarism cases.)

“So what does the original publisher of the novel think about all this?” people ask next. “What have they said?”

Well, nothing. At least they haven't said a single word to me about it. Neither has the publisher I currently still have over a dozen books with, though both publishers produce and market books primarily in the same state where the person who stole my book lives. Where I live. (Update: The original publisher of the book has since been very helpful in handing over documents needed for the case. I am grateful.)

Because this happened here in Utah—in their backyard—people thought publishers might be concerned about their own products.  But I’m sure they’re busy and more pressing issues in mind than an author they used to publish. At any rate, since they don’t have any remaining interest in the book, I really didn’t expect to hear anything, so don’t misconstrue this as a complaint. I had no expectations at all.

But one of my former publishers, Cedar Fort did contact me and ask what they could do. They also contributed to the legal fund. I was very grateful for their kindness, and it really made a difference to know they had noticed what was going on and cared, especially when they had no connection with the plagiarized book.

I am so far from this being over that it makes me really sad and anxious pretty much all of the time. I didn't ask for any of this. I just want to create stories, but, sadly, even the joy of writing has been stolen from me.

Please consider making a donation on the Go Fund Me account. Even five or ten dollars will help. At the very least, could you please share this on Facebook, Twitter, and other groups sites? I need help to make this all end. Thank you!