Sally Blanchard's Book Sales, Tongue-in-Beak Clayworks, Color Pencil Drawings, Parrot and Bird Collectibles
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Written in 2008 (with updates)
Why all of the Delays and Problems?
Why is the Companion Parrot Magazine On-line Now?
The People Who Appreciate My Work and the Angry, Unforgiving, Hateful People
One could say that with this "article" I am airing some of my dirty laundry in public. If this is information that you don't want to know, please don't read it. It is as simple as that.
The following is an apology, excuse, explanation or rant depending on how you choose to take it. Parts of this 'article' were always on www.companionparrot.com (now companionparrotonline.com) to let readers know what was going on in my life.
The most important fact is that if you were or are a subscriber and you are still owed issues, all you have to do is to e-mail me and I will make sure that you receive your on-line issues of the Companion Parrot On-line Magazine.
Yes, I did take money for subscriptions but life has a way of changing. Since I have been involved with parrots, at least 7 parrot-related specialty magazines have folded.(2012: Now Bird Talk who gave their subscribers a subscription to Dog Fancy instead) The subscribers of these magazines were pretty much left high and dry. I tried for some time to find a way to get subscriber's magazines to them and On-line was my only choice. MY other choices – just fold the magazine and not do anything like the other publications.
Why couldn't I continue to publish a printed magazine? Basically it is because the cost of printing, paper, and postage has skyrocketed in the last several years. It became impossible to come up with the $18,000 to $22,000 it cost to publish and mail every issue. Subscriptions never paid for this and advertising revenue dropped as quickly as publishing costs increased. The bird industry has changed drastically in the last decade. It went from a majority of parrot-loving entrepreneurs to big corporations. One-by-one the parrot lovers sold their businesses to big companies where the buck (not the birds) was almighty, or many entrepreneurs simply went out of business. Advertising became more and more difficult to obtain. (2012: If you don’t believe me, look at the last year or two of Bird Talk and how thin it became. It was not a change in content; it is a change in advertisements and advertising revenues. (Please don’t misconstrue this as a criticism of Bird Talk - as many of you know, I wrote for Bird Talk for many years - since 1989.) I recently read an article on a publishing website that reported that over 50% of specialty magazines have folded or have had to go on-line.
To a great degree it has been the publication of books that have supported the magazine but at this time, I am unable to publish books in paper form - again because of the high cost involved.
With that Triple-whammy it was impossible to come up with the funds to print and mail a paper magazine. This information has always been on my website.
Serious Personal Problems
My Move to Colorado
I was all packed and ready to move – I had found my dream store and had a loan from the Advantage Bank here in Colorado – evidently the real estate company did a lot of business with this bank. I put down over $100,000 and my rate was just a little over 6%. Although I had not yet signed the loan papers, I was assured there would be no problems on several occasions. The trucks were loaded and we were leaving California in the morning. I got a phone call. The con men from Dis-advantage Bank had changed their mind because I had not yet sold my home in California. I couldn’t believe it – the real estate market in the San Francisco Bay Area was still really HOT! (My house sold 3 weeks later.) I had to get another loan very quickly and because it was a loan for both a business and a dwelling, it was impossible to find a multiple purpose loan without having some local bank connection. I ended up having to accept a loan at over 14% interest, which really increased my monthly mortgage charge.
I always wrote what was going on with me on my web site.
In a four year period, all the remaining close members of my family died including my beloved mother, my brother, my aunt, and my uncle. Within a few weeks of the planned move to Colorado, my elderly mother who lived with me had a series of strokes. She had been fairly independent but was now very dependent. I was my mother’s sole, in-home caregiver for 7 years and while I wouldn’t take back a minute of my time with her; it drained my time, energy and dwindling finances. Several people have written to me because they have been the caregiver for an invalid parent and they understand how incredibly draining it can be. If someone hasn't been there, they just can't really understand it. Six months after we moved to Colorado, my mother died late at night. I was up all night dealing with the mortuary.
Even a bit of fame in a specialized field results in betrayal, lies, and exaggerations.
The morning after my mother died I received a certified letter from a lawyer in Southern California from 9 people threatening to sue me for using their articles in compilations without their permission. Of course, the oddest part of that was that I had mentored most of them and had been generous with both my time and my ability to help them become known in the world of parrots. The only polite term I can come up with is ungrateful. Another aspect is that several of these people HAD actually given me permission to use their articles in compilations from the magazine. I discussed this stipulation with these writers and the information was actually on the website and in the magazine. The other irritating aspect of this was that several of them actually owe me money ... that I will never see. I bought a $180.00 book (Joanne Abramson's wonderful Macaw book) for one of them to give to their spouse, yet I was never paid for it. I hope the woman knows that it was a gift from me and not her husband but I really doubt that she would have been told that. I was never paid for adverting by a few of these people. Two of them used copyrighted drawings in their programs that I had paid Jeff Riebe a great deal of money to use in the Companion Parrot Handbook. I bought these drawings and they were copyrighted to my book yet I was told by these people that it wasn’t a problem because the copyright didn’t include content used in lectures. Yeah, sure but they would be happy to sue me? While the initial demand was that I had to remove their articles from the compilations and also that I couldn’t sell any back issues with their articles, ultimately the situation evolved into a demand that I act as if these people had never existed in my life. Ultimately that was just fine with me. If you ever wonder about some of the people who used to be an integral part of the magazine, you now know why they are no longer in my life and there is no mention of them anywhere. It was their choice to disassociate. When I moved to Colorado, one woman told a friend of mine that I was the type of person who "chewed people up and spit them out." I have been chewed up and spit out by more people in this business than just about anyone that I know. I guess it is the price of being well-known.
Another "friend" had promised that she would help fund the Amazon book so I could get it out. It was to be a loan and the book would have been dedicated to her. She totally reneged on that promise and then I discovered that she was telling incredible lies about me. One was quite complex stating that my father was not really my father and that I had my mother live with me only because that way I could bleed her dry financially and added that I abused her. I have heard the most amazing things about myself - for example, evidently I have had several Spikes - the story goes that I keep killing them and replace one with another using the same name. I guess that I am also terrified of macaws and won't handle them.
I have had to grow a thick skin but sometimes this nonsense still gets to me. Mostly because I don't understand why people can be so mean-spirited and vicious. It's like some people have to be the first ones to tell everyone something bad about someone else even if it is a lie. There is a group of animal right's wackos (No, not all animal right's people are wacko) who disguise themselves as a bird club in NYC. At one point they even offered a $50.00 reward to anyone who could provide them with information that discredits me ... perhaps it is still in effect if you need 50 bucks? .
My previously positive finances dwindled. I couldn’t afford to pay for any help and was overwhelmed with my mother's care and with trying to do a job that required at least 3 people to do right. It became more and more difficult to come up with my absurd mortgage because of the interest rate. I had recently come up with over $15,000 by selling art that I loved to keep from losing the place. I talked to my mortgage representative and he told me he would try and find me a lower interest rate. I also told him that I had a probable buyer. The next day they sold my property at auction for less than half of its value. I had to move within 30 days. I lost over $150,000.00 on my foreclosed property when the disreputable company told me they were working on lowering the interest. Even my lawyer said that what they did was legal but very unethical. Of course, this has happened to thousands of people since. Because of the foreclosure, I will be filing bankruptcy and am still working on that one.
Within 2 years of moving to Colorado, I lost 5 long-term pets - 2 dogs (KT Silky Terrier 23 – my wonderful hand-holding Hovowart, Dewey at 10 - too young!) and 3 cats (Nimbus 23 – TOC 17 – Buffy 16).
In addition to other health problems, I have reached the age where the arthritis in my spine (from a car wreck years ago) prevents me from doing many normal things without great pain. This includes sitting at the computer for vast periods of time and lifting and carrying heavy boxes. In September of 2008 I was in Florida for a lecture and developed a MRSA staph infection in my leg that put me in the hospital for a week and crippled me for over 2 months and it still hurts years later. I was on antibiotics for 3 months and I could have lost my leg. This type of infection has reoccurred 4 times and I am really tired of antibiotics.
And can you imagine depression as a result of all of the above?
Another Big Mistake in Judgment
Poor Judgment Again
I then got the money together to have a highly recommended person build a marvelous website for me. He turned out to be an alcoholic who thought the site was his to do with what he wanted. I had to let that site go and admit that I wasted a great deal of money on it because he continually put drunken rants on it and sabotaged my site. I am now doing my best to fulfill my subscription obligations. I have made it clear on my main web-site since my problems started that I always planned to do so. All anyone had to do was visit my website and they knew what was going on. In the time since I was removed from John Fisher's site, I have received over 250 supportive emails. Throughout this very difficult time in my life, I have received tremendous empathy from so many grateful subscribers and people I have helped. That is what I try to hold in my heart. Am I a bad person? I have spent too many years helping to educate people about their parrots to believe that about myself.
These are just a few of the letters I have received - pardon the language on the nasty ones (I have substituted blanks for much of it):
Sally, I cannot tell you how happy I am to see that you are back in business. I have missed your Quarterly magazines and have years of them. Congratulations on hanging in there. I know it has been a tough road for you and it sounds like you have survived it.
I have never understood why some people chose to be so angry and nasty and in their letters seem to say that I have singled them out to screw them over. I have been bashed all over the Internet by people who don’t seem to care if what they are saying is true or not. I have read some pretty interesting lies about myself. Other people have written to me stating how grateful they are for the information that they have found in my writings. What causes these divergent behaviors in humans – is it really as simple as early potty training??
I finally freed myself from another bad situation. When I first moved to Colorado, I paid over $3,500 for a company called Millennium Group here in Loveland to build me a new web site. It was great at first and I loved working with the man who built it. Shortly before the site was completed, he was no longer with the company. From that time on, I couldn't get anything done by the people at the company. I complained that my sales buttons weren't working and that I was losing sales. They never cared and they never helped. This type of thing went on for some time as the owner of the company, Andy Pizer told me that he had my back. I was always waiting for the knife. The man was patronizing, condescending, pompous and completely unresponsive to my needs to get the site straightened. When the site was built, my domain (companionparrot.com) was put in their business name. (WARNING: If you ever have someone else build a website for you make sure the domain is registered in your name, not theirs!) I didn't realize the significance of this at the time. It meant that they could hold my site hostage and they didn't want anyone outside working on the site yet paid no attention to my requests to fix the part of the site that wasn't working. Last fall they cooperated somewhat so that my tech guy could build and work on a sub-domain (members.companionparrot.com) but then refused to help when he needed to move the sub-domain to a different server. After not cooperating for over a weeks, Andy Pizer refused to do what I needed done and decided that I should move the sub-domain to his site. At that point, I demanded that the domain be put in my name. He did so but then dumped my original site off of his server which I never asked him to do. What a control freak. The interesting part is that he bought an antique safe valued at at least $3,000 from me and still owes me at least $2,500 on it that I will never see. Another one of my trust errors - live and learn. Despite this loss of money I am delighted to be rid of Millennium Group.After so many website problems, I decided that my best decision was to build my own website. I took me awhile but the most wonderful part of it is that I don't have to depend on anyone ... especially people with an agenda that is far different than mine.
I am not trying to picture myself as a victim. In some situations, I am clearly a victim of my own limitations and yes, even my own stupidity or at least poor planning. I both trust people too much and don't trust them enough. Am I asking for sympathy? No. Am I asking for empathy? Probably. Am I asking for subscribers to believe that I will be fulfilling my obligation to provide them with value for the money they paid for their subscription? You betcha. If you have read Issue #72 through #79, you will know that my information is still solid and I am NOT reneging on my promise to deliver quality information. I am also now offering a FREE site over 650 pages of solid parrot information for anyone who comes on to find it. If those of you who were so angry still feel that way, get over it. It is not healthy for you.