Readers who’ve been following me from day one, when I and my first book, A Desperate Journey, were launched by the American Title II contest, put on by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Book Lovers Magazine in 2006, know that for many years I’ve met and hung out with cover models. Probably as far back as my first RT convention. There are always costume parties in the evening, and I’ve met and even danced a few times with handsome cover models. Usually it’s fun to be around them and they always look nice.
But sometimes a cover model will disappoint. Sometimes their ego gets puffed up a little too big. The thing about ego is, you need to manage it so that doesn’t happen. Sometimes though, they move beyond over inflated ego behavior into behavior that isn’t very nice. Beyond isn’t very nice. Which leads me to what I have to say about the situation many authors now find ourselves in with Jimmy Thomas.
At least three times that I know of, Jimmy has gone off on a rant on social media. The first I can recall was after the first RNC (Romance Novel Convention) he put on in Vegas in 2013. I don’t remember the date, but I do remember him threatening to sue Kathryn Faulk, founder of Romantic Times Booklover’s magazine and of Romantic Booklover’s Convention. His new convention was competing with hers and I believe that lead to tension building until he blew, posting a rant on social media. Remember, my career was launched by Kathryn’s magazine. She’s also my friend and has always been kind and encouraging to me, even calling me several times when I was very ill. So I stood by her as well during this time. I wasn’t happy with Jimmy’s behavior and I didn’t attend any more of his conventions after the first one. Jimmy seemed to be acting like someone I didn’t know with his ranting behavior. His career was also launched by RT. Jimmy was invited to the 2002 Romantic Times Romance Novel Convention to be a contestant in the Mr. Romance 2002 contest. RT is the magazine that launched Fabio’s career and many other cover models got their start through RT as well.
Guess I’m more thankful than he is. We are very different.
The second public rant that I know of came when Jimmy posted on twitter about overweight people. He was critical and unkind. Authors started taking Jimmy’s covers down and cover artists offered to create covers for free. I thought about asking my cover artist, but didn’t have the money to change the cover on everything, not to mention the print copies I still have to sell at book events. It’s more involved that you might think.
Things had barely settled, everyone focusing on #CopyPasteCris, who plagiarized 34 romance author’s books, when Jimmy posted a new rant about human trafficking, prostitution, women, and well, here you can read it for yourself, in his own words.
UPDATE: He’s since taken his post down, but screenshots were taken by many. Nothing ever goes away on the internet. This is true of book covers as well, as they’ll be on all printed copies out there forever, floating around, even if you could search and destroy every electronic image out there.
After reading his recent post, I felt I had to finally speak up and write this article. Many people know Jimmy and I sometimes hung out at RT conventions along with his photographer, Bruce. RT has closed and Kathryn is retired now and there are no more RT cons to go to. I haven’t seen anything about another RNC since the one he advertised in 2016. His behavior has driven many away. Though it’s been a while, people remember seeing me at events chatting with Jimmy. Today I’m sharing my experience.
I like to remain positive, always, and there are many things I’m thankful for. The breakfast in bed photo shoot with Jimmy that I won at RT con in LA in 2011 drew 5k viewers to my website. It helped me to gain new readers who checked out my books. It lead me to start these Cover Model Corner interviews which my readers have enjoyed on my sites and in Affaire de Coeur magazine, where I freelance. None of that would’ve happened without Jimmy Thomas. I believe in thanking those who’ve helped me and I never forget when someone has. I’m thankful for that. Bad behavior on his part does not change who I am. And I am always just me.
I remember sharing a pizza with Jimmy and his photographer in Columbus, OH in the lobby of the conference hotel. I’d ordered pizza for dinner, was waiting in the lobby for it to arrive. I’d been watching the news for updates on the flooding back home in Memphis, TN and I was worried. That year Nashville was closed down on the drive home, there wasn’t one exit I could take to find a restroom, the flooding had been so severe. Well, the pizza came and as I didn’t need to eat a whole pizza by myself, I offered them some. We sat in the lobby and enjoyed dinner together. They were good at keeping my mind off of worry about everyone back home. Especially Bruce’s joking. They were both kind.
Of course there’s the year I won breakfast in bed in with Jimmy and Bruce took pictures. We had fun talking and laughing. At no time was Jimmy ever less than a gentleman. He was thoughtful and kind. That’s what I knew of him then and that had been my experience. He’s been on two of my covers and in one book trailer video. When I look into the rear view mirror of history it’s almost as if I was dealing with a different person. That or there was another side of him that he didn’t let me see. All the breakfast in bed raffle ticket money went to an animal shelter in L.A. What I saw in 2011 was a kind heart raising funds for the animals. It’s why I donated/bought tickets.
(These four pictures from the photo shoot were up on the internet all over the place in 2011 and will likely be floating around when I am an old lady. I still have people teasing me about the polka dot pajamas I wore. Like I said, I like to be real. I’m always just me.)
I’m not sure what’s happened since those days, to change him, or if he was always this way but I didn’t see it. He’s done very disappointing things that haven’t helped the romance authors whose covers he appears on. More and more I’m asked when I’m taking him off my covers. He was on two, he’s now only on one. Dangerous Ties, is the one and it’s a shot I liked (and still like) very much. Cover artists out there are willing to create a brand new cover for me for free. So just change it, right? Sounds simple, right?
Not so simple for me. Dangerous Ties has an ebook cover, a print cover, an audiobook cover and a book trailer. Even with a low priced stock image such as the ones Jimmy offers, you have to pay your cover artist and there’s quite a range of fees. I have a great cover artist who works with me, I do not need a new cover artist, and yes she’d likely create a new one for free unless an image had to be purchased. That’s not the problem.
The book trailer for Dangerous Ties was made by Circle of Seven Productions and trailers there started at $360 for a basic, back when I bought it, and go much higher. I’m not sure what they’re up to now. Just swap out a new cover for the old one on the trailer, you say? No, because it’s just as much work, if not more, to redo a trailer. They actually won’t do that. It’s faster and easier for them to make a new trailer. I’m not paying for a new trailer for a back list book that still hasn’t earned out the costs already paid for all these things, nor should I have to. I need to focus on paying for edits and covers for new books that will at least earn out the cost of putting them out there.
Dangerous Ties Book Trailer
Will I never sell another copy of Dangerous Ties? Because he’s on the cover? I don’t know. It was one of my favorite covers. This situation really sucks.
Shouting at authors to take down their covers hurts the authors, it doesn’t hurt the cover model who has already been paid and can blissfully walk around not caring about what authors are going through.
There is art shaming going on. Read this post for how it has affected one author, Author Linda Hilton She unpublished her book due to art shaming. In her words… “The joy is gone.” Bless her, I’m sending her some love right now, because no one should be made to feel ashamed over this situation. I’ll tell you right now, I’m not going to be shamed and no one is going to steal my joy over any of my books. Never. Ever.
Here’s a post about Jimmy fat shaming on Twitter which includes what he posted. Author Shiloh Walker While we are on the subject of shaming, how about practicing some of that kindness Jimmy seems to be missing, and stop the art shaming of authors. Kind of ironic to be up in arms about someone else shaming, while turning around and doing a different kind of shaming, don’t you think? Replace that with kindness and you’ll sleep better and never have to worry about the karma bus coming for you.
I wish of course that none of this had ever happened and that he’d continued to behave as a gentleman and in a professional manner as he had been. Then we could all get on with writing and putting new books out. These dramas disrupt the flow. The flow of writing, the flow of publishing, the flow of one’s day. It always makes me mad when that happens, because dammit, I was planning to write and now I have to deal with this other thing. That’s a sort of theft in my mind. A time thief. Of writing time.
It’s beyond me why he’s behaved this way, whether it’s steroids or some other drug, or a personality flaw, but knowing why won’t change the fact that it’s happened, leaving the authors who’ve hired him, to deal with it as best we can. Please don’t penalize the authors who have done nothing wrong.
There is a tendency to want to tear down things these days. Some will want his image down everywhere. They may criticize me for leaving pics of him on this Cover Model Corner blog. I’m leaving the photos here because this is the history of how Cover Model Corner began. Taking photos down doesn’t erase history, what happened is what happened and I don’t believe in erasing history. I believe in truth telling and in being real. So that’s what you’ll find here and anywhere else you find me.
So now you have the history of me and Jimmy. And before you ask, yes it was just a photo shoot. (Try eating with a camera click clicking away and you’ll soon find out how unromantic that really is. That was one of the things we ended up joking about.) There has never been anything even remotely romantic between me and Jimmy, and it’s always been Jimmy, Bruce and me when we did hang out. I’ve been married for 38 years, to my high school sweetheart, who cooks dinner for me sometimes while I keep writing. Now that is romantic and that is love. I’ve never had even a little crush on Jimmy. I’ve met lots of cover models and I don’t do the fan girl thing. It’s just not me.
What I do, is interviews. And as long as my readers love reading them, I’ll continue to do them. You’ll find them here along with more articles like this one. I’ll share some of the fun times I’ve had meeting models. (Though hopefully there won’t be more posts like this one. My intention is for this CMC interview blog to be fun for everyone. I like keeping things positive.)
I met Jimmy’s sweet and kind mother at his first RNC convention, and I cannot help but think she would be sad seeing and reading what he’d said and how he views women. It’s sad. What could be a healthy synchronistic relationship between author and cover model can never be. It’s too bad things went this way. But this too is in the past, tomorrow is a new day in which I need to write new pages and keep moving on. I need to have a new photo taken for my banner here, to replace the one with Jimmy and me. I don’t want readers to have to see that every time they come here. But fI have limited time and limited funds and for now, I must write. My readers are waiting.
All of Debra’s books and more about Debra can be found on www.debraparmley.com
UPDATE: Debra plans to have a new banner created for Cover Model Corner and may eventually remove Jimmy from both her book covers and social media (this will take time and money however, and she must focus on new books, not the one remaining backlist book) with the exception of these two posts on Cover Model Corner. The first post, How Cover Model Corner Began remains as a record of the history of Cover Model Corner, because Debra believes in preserving history, not in erasing it.