Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Losing a Great Warrior for Writers

A.C. (Ann) Crispin died over the weekend after a long battle with cancer. She was a well-known science fiction writer, so if you’re a science fiction reader, as I am, you’ll know of her work. She was also a mentor to a number of aspiring writers who are now published and on various stages of the journey to become well-known writers in the field themselves. But Crispin’s death is a loss to more than the community of science fiction readers and writers.

She was one of the founders of Writer Beware, a site I constantly recommend to writers. Sponsored by Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Crispin, Victoria Strauss, and Richard C. White have worked long and hard building a site and service that researches and identifies scammers and fly-by-night agents, editors, publishers, and publicists that rip off or exploit authors and aspiring writers. Writer Beware tries to find ways to fix problems with these exploiters  for authors where they can. They also do a great job of educating writers about what are unprofessional, shady, and often illegal business practices and what are the model professional practices of reputable agents, editors, publishers, and publicists. And they do it all without pay or even accepting donations.

I strongly and forcefully recommend Writer Beware to all of my students and have been known to do this quite passionately on this blog, as well. Writer Beware is a true necessity for emerging writers who don’t really know or understand the business of publishing yet. These are the most vulnerable writers, and Writer Beware has been their bodyguard on the publishing battlefield.

I think it’s a tremendous service to the literary community that Crispin and her colleagues have provided over the years. I have used it and avoided years of heartache. I have helped friends use it and seen firsthand how easily even a bright, well-educated person can fall into trouble when unscrupulous people are willing to deceive and tell outright lies publicly. These friends are all big supporters of Writer Beware now, too.

Last year, one book promotion agency put up a great-looking website with testimonials from major writers and their photos with the quotes about how well this business had worked for them. It looked totally legitimate. The only problem was that those writers had never heard of the business, never used it, never said or wrote those testimonials, and never given permission to have their names and photos used. It was all a total lie. It might have taken in anyone. Writer Beware did the research and contacted authors with listed testimonials (because they’ve seen a lot of scammers and know how brazen they can sometimes be). That blew the lid off that one—and kept people from paying thousands of hard-earned dollars to thieves and fraudsters.

While Crispin lay near death, some of the bad guys she’d defended writers against, who in the past have settled for posting lots of outright lies about Writer Beware, were having a ghoulish celebratory party on Twitter. (Thanks to Jim C. Hines for this screen capture.)

Strauss posted this the morning Crispin died: “Ann Crispin, best-selling author, Writer Beware co-founder, fearless fighter in the scam wars, beloved wife and mother, my friend, died this morning after a two-year struggle with cancer. I'll write a memorial for her later on--right now, I don't have the words. In the meantime, Tor.com has posted an obituary.

Ann's death is a huge blow, personally and professionally. But to all you writers, readers, and subscribers (and scammers): know that Writer Beware will NOT be going dark, slowing down, or otherwise pausing in its work. We're here for the long haul. Please honor Ann's memory, and her work, by reading her books and spreading the word about Writer Beware.”

Strauss had intended to let the Writer Beware blog rest for a week as they dealt with their grief at losing a good friend and staunch comrade, but when she learned of the Twitter trolls shown above, she got right back to work as the best way to honor Crispin’s memory. http://accrispin.blogspot.com/

When we writers die, about the best we can ask of our lives is that we wrote some good books and that we made the world slightly better in some way for someone. Ann Crispin wrote good books, and she labored long and hard to make the world a better and safer place for other writers. We’ve lost a true warrior who fought long and hard for every one of us.  She deserves great honor throughout the community of writers everywhere.



  1. I saw the post that she wrote about not blogging anymore—or not being able to count on her ability to keep up… I was very moved by her post. People started commenting and saying thank you and goodbye. Then I realize that she had died. It felt otherworldly.

    I loved her work and what she did for other writers. It's hard to read the blog now. But I will. It's just hard.

  2. It was a real loss. She kept working on Writer Beware until she just couldn't any longer.