The Pen Sisters: “Unpublished” – Part 2

Figure2

Leo Sullivan sitting on many babies meals

DISCLAIMER:  SOME STRONG LANGUAGE.  PLEASE BE ADVISED. 

These past 5 months have been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Things have progressed rapidly since last Wednesday, when Jenny and I interviewed authors Ebony Diamonds and Bianca Marie, formerly signed to Leo Sullivan Presents, on Backwards & In High Heels, a SAG-AFTRA media podcast.  

Figure1

BIHH Interview with Authors, Ebony Diamonds and Bianca Marie

If you did not get a chance to listen you can check that out by clicking the image.

You can also review Part I: “The Pen Sisters – Unpublished” here

To recap, the ladies allege that Leo Sullivan presents has illegally kept their books and their royalty payments since November 6th, when the books were removed from Amazon due to his blatant violation of Amazon’s TOC.  

This week, we continue to unravel what couldn’t be addressed in last week’s article, and that’s the litigation, the lies and the literature surrounding this entire story. Leo Sullivan has allegedly retained, without cause, a large portion of these authors’ catalogs. He is refusing to return the rights to their own books, which means they can not be independently published on Amazon, or anywhere else for that matter.  In addition, before they can be published, the authors are going to have to pay to have their work re-edited because of course, he is refusing to return those edits, claiming that they no longer have them. The authors are not buying it. You be the judge.

Before we get into the excuses and harassment, I want to take a step back and start at the literal beginning- how convicted felon, Leo Sullivan turned #1 Urban Fiction Publishing House within 8 years. It’s absolutely frightening and maddening to imagine the number of authors and the amount of money at stake since he opened his doors as Leo Sullivan Presents. That’s 8 years of royalty payments, 8 years of bonus payments that he’s been able to profit from, etc…without so much as a hint of scandal…until now. 

How do you explain that? You don’t. It will be pretty obvious why we haven’t heard about anything like this before by the end of this article. 

My journalism/spidey senses are screaming that this is not an isolated incident. (First amendment expression)

Let’s get into it.  

“Birds of a Feather…”

During the podcast and in subsequent interviews with Leo Sullivan Presents and Royalty Publishing House authors, it was discovered that Porscha Sterling, aka Vera Florence, Leo Sullivan’s wife, who runs and operates Royalty Publishing, was arrested in Florida for Embezzlement, Misappropriation of Financial Institution funds and grand larceny, back in 2009.  This was presented on the podcast and in last week’s article. I’m reinserting here for context. (Figure 4)

Figure 4

Figure 4: Porscha Sterling aka Vera Florence Public Arrest Record

What’s striking here is that while Vera was just beginning her legal troubles, Leo was well in the midst of his. Birds of a feather.  They both have something with banks. 

In 2009 (Figure 3) Leo was 15 years in on a 20-year sentence (248 months) for bank robbery and use of a firearm. This wasn’t Leo’s first rodeo.  In fact, his prior criminal record played a critical role in how he was sentenced and categorized in the eyes of the law. Below is an excerpt from Leo’s appeal to have this career offender designation taken out of his sentencing considerations. He was ultimately denied and would sit in prison until 2011.  

Figure 3

Figure 3: Leo Sullivan MySpace Profile

Relevant here,

Sullivan was sentenced as a career offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 based on prior state felony convictions. One of those prior state felony convictions has since been vacated by the state courts.

Figure 3A

Figure 3A:  Court Excerpt 

Read the full excerpt here:  https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/42619/united-states-v-leo-lorenzo-sullivan/

Leo didn’t waste his years in prison feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he started a lucrative writing career, dabbling in one of his favorite genres, urban fiction. In 2005, when urban fiction was making a roaring entrance into the literary world, Triple Crown signed Leo from his federal prison cell.  His debut novel, Life (Life Without Hope) has sold over one hundred thousand copies to date. It is still considered an urban street classic.

Sullivan Productions, LLC Films was born when Leo was released from prison in 2011.  He would only serve 204 of his mandated 248-month federal sentence. Taking his passion for writing, Leo decided to enter the movie industry after writing several screenplays and working with independent movie studios and producers.  He’s still chasing that dream today. We’ll get to that in a moment. 

https://www.facebook.com/authorleosullivan/videos/1472085379559861/

In 2012 came Leo Sullivan Presents Publishing House, all while turning Sullivan Productions into (at the time) one of the nation’s largest urban publishing companies.  Leo is a L.A.B. movie director and national bestselling author who has written multiple best selling books over a span of 8 years. It was only natural his wallet would gravitate to the literary world. 

In 2014 came Royalty Publishing House with Vera, now Porscha Sterling, at the helm.  It should be noted that her website does not indicate that she is Leo’s wife. 

Figure3C

Figure 3C: Screenshot of www.porschasterling.com Website

It is reported by authors who were invited to the wedding, they were married on September 10, 2017. Porscha also posted an Instagram story of the blessed event when she received her wedding video, 4 months later, in January of 2018. (Figure 3D) (Porscha was pregnant with their son at the time of their wedding, who is now 2).

Figure 3B.jpg_medium

Figure 3B: Wedding photo of Leo and Porscha from Instagram Dated 9/12/17

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Figure 3D:  Porscha’s Instagram story of her wedding video with the date clearly visible. 

I’ve scoured the internet for any trace of who these two ex-felons were, any internet presence, besides a MySpace Profile for Leo,  from prison release to multi-million dollar circle runner, operating two publishing houses as “partners”, oppressing black women. (Figure 3C). #SorryNotSorry

Figure 3E.jpg_large

Figure 3E: Must be Nice! 

Can you imagine seeing this, and your kids are hungry because you can’t get paid money you are legally OWED? You have to explain to your kids why they can’t have Christmas this year when you sacrificed last year to get the book done?  

“Amazon Got That Bag Over There!”

Figure 5

What IS online is this video, it’s quite evident that Leo and Porscha, let’s just go with her government throughout the rest of the series, Vera, are on two different pages. Right after he says, “Amazon got that bag over there”, watch her face. Leo immediately changes his demeanor and the subject. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem wise to be on video talking about a company that just terminated you, not suspended, but terminated mind you, about how much money they have. Watch the video again with that revelation. 

Despite the glaring things they do have in common, communicating with an audience is not one of them. 

Bottom line. Indeed, Amazon does have, “that bag over there”. They are going to place it on the head of Leo Sullivan Presents and any company associated with it, and “suffocate them to death”.  

Figure 6

Figure 6: Author reveals it’s not legal to have page reads

In case you weren’t paying attention, the other appalling thing about this video are the excuses. As discussed in Article 1, at this point, he allegedly knew what he was doing was against Amazon’s TOC, including what we shared in the podcast, and that is allegedly having multiple accounts, different names, promoting the same books, having the same illegal page reads performed, etc. (Figure 6)

Apparently, Amazon is not the only one with the bag. (Note: They have since *clears throat* upgraded homes) 

image (1)

Figure 6A: Leo’s former home

Now would be a good time to grab your wine, popcorn, significant other, pet or journal.  You’re going to need a witness/recap to this debauchery. 

“The Litigatin’ and The Lyin’”

So let’s get up to speed. The authors are being given the run-around as evidenced in the video, and in article 1. Many of these women are single mothers, who had to go Christmas and New Year’s without their royalty payments. To date, Ebony and Diamond have not been paid. I cannot speak for any of the other authors. Two authors is two too many if you ask me. So let’s not get caught up on the number of people brave enough to say “Fuck it”, and go head to head with a literary “giant”.

As we learned during the podcast, the women found out by accident that he was “reinvesting bonus money back in the business”, and they finally questioned him about money that was owed. This reinvestment was never discussed. Nor does it indicate any such withholding in the contract. (Figure 7).   

Ebony’s attorney alluded to royalties owed (nice try) in her official letter to Leo Sullivan Presents. 

Figure 7.jpg_large

Figure 7

Figure 7: This image was shared with me and I have the contract signator’s permission to share this, I do not have proprietary information that belongs to Leo Sullivan Presents in my possession. 

Fortunately, some authors were able to come to Leo how he needed to be dealt with.  I feel sorry for the authors who didn’t understand and still aren’t aware. Hopefully, this series will shed some light on what’s been happening behind the smiles, lights and movie deals on Facebook.  (Figures 8A-8D)

Figure 8

Figure 8 – Author Tina J’s conversation with Leo regarding her Royalty Payments

Wait a damn minute… I thought Amazon had the bag? What did I miss? Moving on…

Figure 8BFigure 8CFigure 8DFigure 8E

Figures 8A-8D: Contact with Author Tina J. about her royalties, catalog, and rights.

So apparently he’s been LOUDLY quiet on Facebook. *Sigh*. I’m sorry, but as a businessman, if you have people who you clearly and legally owe money to, you shouldn’t be flying to Berlin. P.S. I have an inside connection with an IMDb registered filmmaker. My source told me that this particular studio in Germany is NOT listed as a movie studio.  She additionally added, and I quote, 

“In this industry, it’s the people who are a bit secretive that are at the big events. People that announce are bullshitting.”

~IMDb Source

Figure 9

Figure 9: Leo on Facebook saying he was in Berlin making a movie deal

Here’s Hansa Studio’s website:  https://hansastudios.de/en/home/

You can also check out their google listing which shows photos of the place.  Quite stunning, which includes the background that Leo himself is standing in front of. (Figure 9)

VIDEO TOUR OF Hansa Studio:  https://youtu.be/pcYdIT63r0I 

Bowie wrote his hit Heroes album at Hansa Studios. He recorded a few albums there, and worked alongside his friend Iggy Pop. Low (1977), Heroes (1977), and Baal (1982) were all recorded at Hansa Studios throughout the ’70s and early ’80s.”

https://producelikeapro.com/blog/the-world-famous-hansa-studios-in-berlin-studio-tour/

Figure 10CFigure 10D

Figure 10C, 10 D: Outside of Hansa Studio and Only Open Studio

In fact, it’s a popular tourist attraction. (Figure 10D) There is currently only one active Studio in the facility. It’s a recording studio. The 2nd studio has now been converted into a ballroom as you can see from the video above.  (Figure 10C). Excuse me, I’ll be right back, I need to go collect my eyeballs.  

While I do that, feel free to book a tour of the studio if you plan on being in Berlin anytime soon. 

Book a Hans Studio Tour:  https://musictours-berlin.com/hansa-studio-tour

Leo has always presented himself as a clout chaser, (Figure 10G) I just never would have guessed he was stuntin’ on his daddy like THIS! (Figure 10E)

Figure 10E

Figure 10E: How to Book a Tour with Hansa Studios – $32.00 

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Figure 10F: Leo telling the authors how much to sue him for

Meanwhile, it just keeps going with the excuses, while he’s living his best life, traveling overseas, rubbing elbows with the rich folks (Figure 10F) authors are starving and losing their minds back here in the states.  Promising authors to turn their books into big movie deals. How? You can’t even pay them what you owe them, NOW! So he wants to owe them MOVIE money too?  Hard pass. 

“This pic speaks nearly a billion, I mean that literally. This is going to be our best year EVERY!!”[sic]

Note: (Figure 10F) Look at the guys’ faces and hands in the photo.  Are they with Leo? Is the white man’s hand saying, “What the fuck is this?” Is the black man reaching for his belt?

Figure 10G.jpg_medium

Figure 10G: Leo with Rasheeda Frost from LHHATL 

Lastly, how do you make a movie in a music studio? Just curious. He really thinks ya’ll “nakers” are dumb.  

Figure 10AFigure 10B

Figures 10A, 10B: The excuses keep on coming – but no money

The icing on the cake?  Silence them and threaten to sue them if they tell THEIR truth.  Whoooo chile. This is why so many authors have been afraid to come forward. They can’t because they actually signed an NDA or are too scared to realize THIS is not a legal NDA. Where do you sign and acknowledge this? BOOOOOOO! 

Figure 9A

Figure 9A: An Author has to Tell Leo to Stop Harassing Her

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Figure  9B: Noncompliant NDA Sent to Ebony Diamonds to Silence Her

People like Leo come and go. Hell, they are STILL sitting in federal prison. This entire story is a nightmare, and it’s heartbreaking and lightweight depressing from start to finish (which is yet to come). It’s quite clear, and Ebony’s attorney is in no doubt, that he breached the original contract between the authors, as mentioned, and now it’s time to do the right thing. It’s really that simple.  

Leo Sullivan, do the right thing.  

Don’t worry, Vera. You’re next. 

“Literature Love #SupportUrbanAuthors”

If I’m being brutally honest, my head hurts even having to write this part. I hate that I have to say out loud, support urban authors, support black women, support authors period. Yet, here we are.  

Take a moment out of your day and check on your favorite author. Ask them how many words they wrote today. We, authors, don’t measure our success on the dollars we receive, we measure our success on the words we get on paper. The struggle IS real! 

Don’t let anyone take what God gave you. Don’t stop writing, don’t give up. This is what you were made for! Always remember that. I love you, pen sister! 

If you have been victimized by your publisher, reach out to me and get your story heard, and get what you are owed. renee’@demcastusa.com. 

I strongly stand by #urbanauthors.  Do you? 

Figure 11

Figure 11: This is the Despair Authors are feeling

Teaser For Next Week:  

“Are You The Next?”

This image has not been altered in any way – this was their marketing idea. 

Figure 12

Figure 12: Promo for LiT Reader App with Leo Sullivan, Terry McMillen and Porscha Sterling

This is a photo advertisement I found online for an upcoming collaboration event. It chilled me to my core. So much so, it made me angry enough to cry. It should infuriate you, especially if you are an author-signed to one of these 2 publishers. 

The next what? The next author to have to get an attorney with the money they don’t have, the next to watch you spend their royalties traveling to Berlin to make multi-million dollar movie deals? The next to miss having Christmas? The next to go without food? The next to face eviction?  

Let me ask you…Are YOU “the” next?  (Not a compliment). 

It should be noted, I reached out to Terry McMillen, AND Rasheeda Frost (Figure 10G)  for comment back in December, when I learned of Vera’s public arrest record. You can see my letters below.  Be careful who you associate yourself with, authors. It could come back to haunt you. Google is FREE! 

It should be disappointingly noted that to date, I have not received a response from either woman.

Until next time,  #SupportUrbanAuthors  #StopAbusingBlackWomen


~TO BE CONTINUED~

PART III: “A Royal Flush: Royalty Publishing House” 

Again, not a compliment.

Appendix: 

Letter To Terry McMillen:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AgrKxvcQ7m4h6Iau2VDCVr1f6eMQAoaC8z2UF2nOmZ4/edit?usp=sharing

Letter To Rasheeda Frost:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/11vXGuAoz4r0uKDSSPDVa02mp2DVBTOHcC3L2ZK6X-rI/edit?usp=sharing

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