Harlequin is at it again... and really, it's starting to look like some kind of bizarre publishing suicide. What gives? This is... what, the fifteenth screw up in three weeks?
This time they had a contest for "aspiring authors." Their own rules are very specific and clearly state:
This contest is open to entrants who are 18 years of age or older and is void wherever prohibited by law; all applicable laws and regulations apply. Employees and immediate family members of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, including contracted authors, their parents, affiliates, subsidiaries and all other agencies, entities and persons connected with the use, marketing or conduct of this Contest are not eligible to enter. By acceptance of a prize, the winner consents to use of his/her name, photograph or other likeness for purposes of advertising, trade and promotion on behalf of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon, without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
The problem? Two of the winners are published authors... with Harlequin. Check out how the loverly "congratulations to the winners" thread over on the forum goes absolutely batshit crazy about halfway down, when the authors are outed: http://www.iheartpresents.com/2009/12/harlequin-presents-writing-competition-2009-the-winners/#comments. And Suzanne Brandyn comments here.
It's entirely possible that both authors were sloppy and didn't read the rules carefully. It's also possible that the judges and officials were equally sloppy in checking entrants. But the whole thing is not just sloppy. It's yet another black eye to Harlequin, who seems to be begging for it these days.