Friday, 20 March 2015

The Curious Case of the Professional 'Publicist'

In more than 20 years as a public relations practitioner, this is the least professional act on my part. But if it is not done, this matter will drag for longer with only one version publicly available. I for one have had enough of this nonsense.

Firstly, all views in the below post are solely my own and do not represent those who I have worked with or currently work with.

Secondly, if you are an Orangeberry author who is owed reviews or graphics, please email me - - so I can connect you with the book tour company who is in charge of your book. If you would like other updates about Orangeberry, please go to

And now ...

I started helping Orangeberry Book Tours in December 2011. The blog's founder, Pandora, is an old friend and my help consisted mainly of seeking more reviewers and managing public events with her.

In June 2013, I played a more active role in assisting Orangeberry as Pandora was taken ill.

It was during this time, that I had interactions with Orangeberry's 'publicist' who will further be referred to as KB. While on the most part it was a delight to work with this person, there were some red flags that later appeared to be more than just bad vibes kicking in.

On the issue of Quality Reads UK
This is a book club I belong to and while members were reluctant to bring the book club online, it was agreed in December 2012 that we would give it a try with Pandora managing social media for the book club. KB played an active role in this. It was her responsibility to manage the blogs and their social media. This was an unfruitful process for all concerned as it later appeared to be more work than necessary within a short span of time. Up to June 2013, none of us had any interaction with KB. All communications were through Pandora. After June 2013, I would have daily conversations with KB in Pandora's off and on absence.

In July 2013, members of a writing forum questioned the validity of Orangeberry and the blogs belonging to book club members. In hindsight, members should have played a more active role in managing their own blogs instead of depending on someone else to do it for them something which is slowly coming to pass now.

During the exchange on the forum, KB made it a point to stand up for the book club. Her exact words were, 'By the way, I think you should get a life. If you have time to do detective work on 200 blogs and its owners, clearly you have nothing else happening in your life. I was NOT pulled in to anything. I honestly thing (sic) the people here need to get a life and STOP harassing others. But then with all bullies they only harass and bully to make themselves feel superior. *screenshot available upon request

After this incident and Pandora's continued ill health, Orangeberry did not receive enough sponsorship to cover admin costs. As with others who contributed to Orangeberry, KB was told she could leave anytime she wanted as her time could no longer be paid for. KB's response was that she was not doing it for the money and would continue to contribute to Orangeberry for as long as she physically could. It was then Pandora's intention to eventually handover Orangeberry to KB in the New Year of 2014.

KB's disappearance and black mail
KB disappeared on 4 January 2014 saying she had no electricity due to bad weather. I use the word disappeared because it would be at least a month before Pandora or I heard from her.

Several attempts were made to contact her directly, and when a suspicious sign in using her login details was discovered on the Orangeberry website, I contacted her mother who said she would call back within the hour, nothing happened.

It was then pointed out by an author that KB did have Internet connection because she was seen interacting on Twitter. As of this time, instalment payments were being made to her via PayPal to settle outstanding monies owed to her.

In April 2014, further email communication was received that from KB that said if the outstanding sum was not paid in full with interest, KB would continue to email Orangeberry clients to inform them that the book club was in fact sock puppets.

Her exact words were, 'Forget the lawyer, I am having to much fun sending emails to ALL authors about the sock puppet accounts! :)  :-) Yep! until I receive FULL payment plus interest I will email past authors about the sock puppet accounts.  But I have emailed all authors currently on tour! :-D :-D Believe me I have nothing and I mean nothing to lose.*screenshot available upon request

The content of her email to Orangeberry clients included the list of blogs she had managed, social media accounts and passwords. Ironically, she also included her own blog in the list with proxy IP addresses she had procured.

Had the book club been a matter of such importance to her integrity and if the matter she was highlighting was in fact true, why wait till a year later when she had specifically stood up for the book club in July 2013?

As KB had disappeared in January, Pandora in ill health and I did not have time to keep Orangeberry running, Orangeberry was set to be sold to a UK publishing house. This deal would have ensured enough funding for admin costs and for all authors to receive their pending book reviews far more quickly than it has currently happened. Unfortunately, this deal fell through when it was discovered that KB was still emailing former and current clients of Orangeberry creating widespread panic among Orangeberry clients.

This continued until June 2014 when Pandora hired a US-based attorney to contact KB. Since April, Pandora had attempted to call her and when emailing KB, both of us received the filtered response of, "not read, just deleted."

It was intended for the lawyer to contact her and inform her that the amount she was asking for was not the amount owed to her. KB had downloaded her Google Docs payment sheet in April 2014 but after the first black mail request, she was removed from the Google sheet and payments were still made after this.

Beyond this, I was not involved in correspondences between Pandora, her lawyer and KB. Being in different countries (Pandora was back in the UK after seeking treatment in South East Asia and I had moved to Sydney with my family) legalities were involved for me to be privy to such communications.

Pandora also then made the decision to acquire the assistance of two other book tour companies in helping her complete her commitments to the authors she had worked with.

What happened then was beyond bizarre because instead of communicating directly with an attorney who was in the same country as her, KB continued to send us emails such as these alongside more emails demanding money.






If you have gotten a glimpse into the mindset of this person, more is to come.

Through all my interactions with her, KB was very clear that she had a son. It was later found out that something was not right with this statement because the son was seen wishing someone else for Mother's Day.*screenshot available upon request.
An old news clipping of a wedding in KB's family also raised more questions than it answered as there was no mention of KB.*screenshot available upon request.

But why bring up such personal matters, you ask? KB has made it a point to reveal everything she could about Pandora in the past few months including offering to reveal a home address she thought belonged to Pandora on a public forum. While bringing up this information is not tit for tat, it highlights the thought process of the individual concerned.

Unknown to KB, her red flags were so prominent, no one in Orangeberry gave out actual home addresses even when sending KB birthday, get well and Christmas gifts. Given the issues KB has created in the past 15 months for Orangeberry clients and volunteers, this was a decision nobody regretted.

There is also the issue of her past job experience where she has numerously indicated that she worked in the auto industry until 2012. An eBay seller profile for KB with several negative feedback about items not received indicates that she was in the auto industry up to 2010. *screenshot available upon request.

It is evident from her interactions that something is amiss with this person and it is not the intention of this post to troll her as she has done with us the past 15 months.

It is my intention to clearly state that whatever arrangements she had is with Pandora and her lawyer. I may have helped Orangeberry but this situation is now beyond my control. Trying to blackmail me is not going to achieve anything.

KB sent an email to me this morning to state that if payment is not received, 'I will post all emails on a blog, post the payment sheet and each payment received. Paypal payments show I have not been paid in full!' *screenshot available upon request.

Maybe I am naive but blackmail is a serious offence in any country. To continue to demand money AFTER you've gone out of your way to cause distress to so many people is also beyond me.

The other thing that bothers me no end is KB refused any kind of dialogue even after I had spent hours and hours trying to locate her after her disappearance. Pandora or I did not receive a single text in return to acknowledge our efforts so why keep contacting me when you have full access to the attorney who is able to help you?

Then comes the ethics issue. As a so-called professional publicist, going against everything the profession stands for, that just makes this issue even more scary for the authors KB currently works with. Revealing personal client information, leaving anonymous comments using proxy IP addresses and of course, blackmail. If you think I'm playing, yes, there is a code of ethics for public relations practitioners. The US version of this can be found on the PRSA website.

Bear in mind that KB has also done similar acts to at least one other book tour company and three other individuals, that I know of.

KB has actively spent time promoting her grievances against Orangeberry on Twitter and several complaint forums. On some days, she has had a fantastic audience which has thrilled her to bits I think.

To this audience, I say this, you are each entitled to your own opinion. But you cannot form judgment based on one side of the story. Encouraging blackmail based on someone who lies then calls someone else a liar is not just funny, it is ludicrous.

If you need to consider the situation a little further, allow me to ask you this. If in fact, everything that KB has voiced out is true and Pandora is all smoke, how was Pandora a non-US citizen able to receive legal representation in the US but KB has not been able to hire a lawyer for 15 months?

Fact : If such a case is strong enough, the lawyer would work pro bono then take his / her fees out of the settlement received. This applies in any country including the US. Makes you wonder isn't it?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Violet Midnight #Excerpt (The Enchanters Series, Book 1) by Allie Burke @allieburkebooks #PNR


A warm welcome to Allie Burke as she shares an excerpt from Violet Midnight, Book 1 of The Enchanters Series

“Hey, Auntie.”

“Elias! Don’t call me Auntie, it makes me feel old. I’m so glad to hear from you! Did you get the spices and the tea I sent you?”

“Yeah,” he whispered, a quiet attempt to hide any skepticism or awkwardness that may be in his tone.

“What’s wrong?”

Elias closed his eyes. She was too good. There was no point in answering her. He had no idea how to explain how he was feeling at the moment.

“Has your mom called?”


Jeanine let out a long sigh, which Elias could hear through the phone. She didn’t say anything further on the subject. There was nothing to say.

“Listen,” Elias said, “I’ve heard about this great place. Come out with me; I’ll buy you dinner.”

“Sounds great, honey. I’ll be ready in ten.”

Elias walked out the door, and got in Liam’s black Aston Martin. Liam had left everything he had to Elias, except the firm. He knew Elias didn’t want it.

He reversed from the driveway, and started making his way to Devonbrook, a small town right next to Hazel Grove. Gray County consisted of three towns: Devonbrook, Hazel Grove, and Jasmyn Lake. Hazel Grove was the party town, Devonbrook the family town, and Jasmyn Lake—Jasmyn was just really weird.  

After a few minutes of driving, Elias reached a small residential area. He turned onto Church Street and pulled into the driveway. He smiled at his aunt’s house. Most of the small houses on this street were painted different shades of brown. Jeanine’s house was fuchsia with lilac trim and royal blue stairs leading to the porch. The yard was a mess. The grass couldn’t have been mowed in years. A small piece of white cloth distracted his view, and he looked up the tall oak tree in the yard. Hanging from the branches were shredded pieces of toilet paper, looking battered and weathered, like the tree had been teepee’d several weeks ago. Someone had used a screwdriver to draw a large X on the tree’s trunk.

Elias walked across the yard, the weeds attacking his knees, and went up the stairs. Two dead rats were next to the welcome mat, and several broken egg shells were scattered around the porch.

Avoiding the dried egg goo, Elias knocked on the green door.

The door opened, and Jeanine smiled at him. She was sixty-two, not a gray hair on her head. Her fine brown hair was long, but she never let it down. She wore a long dress, every color known to man coming together on it. A bright blue scarf circled her neck, and her brown eyes were lined with pink shimmery makeup. He let out a long breath, relieved at the sight of her.

“Look how handsome you are,” Jeanine said. “It’s been too long. Come here.”

Elias stepped forward, hugged her and kissed her cheek. They walked to the car. Elias opened the passenger door for her, and drove back to Hazel Grove.

“Why don’t you move to Hazel, Jeanine?” Elias asked her in a very strict tone. They were thoughtless pranks, the neighbors clearly upset that Jeanine lived in their town without a family and with her crazy antics. Elias worried that it could turn to something dangerous. If Jeanine was harmed—Elias shivered, unable to complete the thought in his head.

“You know, I was going to. I was looking for a new house, so I rented this place temporarily until I could find something I liked. But I decided to stay the first time I found dead rodents on my porch. So I painted it pink.” She was smiling.

Elias just laughed. She was completely serious, and would not be influenced. That was just her.

“So. Do you want me to mow your lawn, at least?”

Jeanine laughed. “No, I like it. It scares the neighbors.”

Elias shook his head at her. She did sound crazy sometimes, but she wasn’t. She was the only sane one in their family, as far as he was concerned. She was nothing like her younger sister, Elias’s mother. Jeanine was a free spirit. Her paintings were amazing; she sold them to Hollywood celebrities and wealthy people all over the world. She never married, had no children, and didn’t regret a minute of her life. Of course his mother didn’t approve, but Elias could care less. He admired her.

After a few minutes, they reached Ruby’s Diner. He parked in the back, ignoring onlookers’ stares. They were looking at the car, not at him. They went into the diner, and found a small table in the corner. A young girl in a red polo shirt walked up to their table. She was a little plump, like she enjoyed food, but not fat, just comfy. Her nametag introduced her as Audrey.

“Welcome to Ruby’s. What can I get you?”

Elias looked across the table to Jeanine. She shrugged. “Whatever you think.”

“Are the rumors true?” he asked Audrey. “Is The Ruby as good as everyone says?”

“Yes,” she laughed nervously, “absolutely.”

“We’ll both try that.”

“To drink? We have a special blend of iced tea. It’s fused with rosemary.”

Elias’s throat crackled, and his laugh was so loud it was almost obnoxious in the setting of the quiet diner. He cleared his throat and forced a calm look on his face.

“That sounds great,” he said carefully, short pauses bubbling composure between each of his words. 

Audrey narrowed her eyes at him before she walked away, as if she was assessing if he was insane. Elias covered his eyes with his hand. He felt Jeanine’s eyes on him, but he didn’t look up until she spoke.

“Tell me what’s going on, Elias.”

He just stared at her.

“I’m waiting.”

“You’ll think I’m nuts.”

“I’m going to think your nuts? Really, Elias? Look at me. Look at me and tell me that anything you could say would make me love you any less.”

Elias breathed deep, and gave in. He told Jeanine about the strange encounters at the art gallery and in his studio.

“I want to see her,” he heard himself say.

Audrey arrived with the food, her presence preventing Elias from seeing Jeanine’s reaction. He didn’t want to worry Jeanine too much, so he ate. Even with his lack of appetite, the sandwich was surprisingly delicious; there were at least three different meats, and a variety of cheeses in between each layer. The grease dripped from the bottom of the bread onto his plate. The tea paired with it well; it was very unique.

Halfway through his meal, Jeanine finally spoke. “Elias, I want to tell you a story. No questions. Just listen.”

The Enchanters Collection
Buy the box set on Amazon 

American novelist Allie Burke brings her readers the genre-defining Enchanters Collection which paints the beautiful complexity of true love through auras, darkness, and magic.  

Violet Midnight Book 1: Look into the world of the Enchanters, where water has a sense of humor, trees scare people, and love... is destiny. Beautiful Jane is hovering at the edge of content in her life of solitude in the quiet town of Jasmyn Lake, but when her energy sends her on a journey to meet the man she has been dreaming about for months, she cannot resist. Meet sexy artist Elias, who moved to Hazel Grove, California to get away from the rain, his parents, and everything that was taken from him in Hayward, Washington. But he thinks he may be losing his mind when he starts seeing purple glitter in the air, the scent of rosemary is everywhere, and he is hearing a beautiful voice. But all is not flowers and ease for the newly joined couple. With a woman who prefers night to day and a man with heartache from his past, they must learn how to create their own world with grace and the occasional water feature. Written with humor and intensity, book one of the three part trilogy will leave you yearning for more and daydreaming shades of purple.  

Emerald Destiny Book 2: What happens when the girl you've loved since you were six-years old runs away from you, effectively breaking your heart again? Evan is about to find out.  Nineteen-year old Evan spends his time in the woods of Dare Forest where the trees have personality, as close to Abby as he can be. But love has a cruel master and everyone around him has forbidden he contact her. Abby's nights are stressed with her Enchanter life, her dreaded nightmares, and her enduring will to save her brother from his own inner darkness. But when Evan speaks to her for the first time in fourteen years, she finds his voice too painful to bear. Countless times before them, the union between their opposing families has failed and caused unfathomable destruction. The love in their hearts strives to be together forever, but will their destinies break them apart? Allie Burke's second novel in The Enchanters Series breaks through the Paranormal Romance genre to not just entertain her readers but empower and inspire them to embrace the momentous question: What would you do when faced with an impossible love?

 Amber Passion Book 3: With a modern touch, Allie Burke’s third and final novel in the Enchanters series plays off the age old question: How far is too far to protect those you love? True love can be demonstrated in a multitude of actions or a multitude of sins. You choose. Daniel is lost without his other half, his twin sister Abby, who is pregnant, depressed, and oh so far away, struggling with her own demons. Seeking a ray of sunlight in his dark world, Daniel visits Hazel Grove and for the second time experiences the sun shining in the middle of the night. But this is a sun with a different name. A sun with blonde hair and an orange aura and with a bright light that scares the darkness right out of him. The blackness that had been his heart for the duration of his life, is…fading. Can the enchanting Claire bring passion and comfort to a man who yearns for her without even realizing it? As the next generation of Enchanters make their choices, the outcome will change the course of their people forever. Only time, and love, will tell if they made the right choice. With a culmination and a turn of events you never saw coming, Amber Passion answers the questions you wondered about and leaves the reader forever changed and daydreaming in every shade imaginable, starting with darkness, and ending, at the end of the tunnel, with light.  

 About the author
An American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can't find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a "kickass book that defies the genre it's in", Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal. Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie's fairytales. From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.  

You can find Allie on 


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