You exchange personally identifiable information with us when you create a Help Desk ticket, sign up for the free class, join our community mailing list, or begin a check-out procedure.
The site has built-in anonymous stats tracking. It tells me in general terms:
Page errors generated when visitors land on a page
Most common search terms that brought visitors to the site
Most common links that brought people to the site
How many people visit the site hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly
Average visit length
Average number of pages visited
In VERY general terms, which part of the world visitors are coming from (countries ONLY)
Most common browsers (I'm amazed at the number of folks still using old versions of Internet Explorer)
Which days of the week are busiest and slowest (we're pretty slow on weekends)
The front-page QUIZZES I offer only record anonymous clicks to let me know which results are most and least common, and do not include an email sign-up before you get your quiz results. I want you to be able to benefit from the quizzes without having to part with personal information.
If you are not a classroom member, that is all the site stores.
When you sign up for emails, you provide the email address of your choice (does not have to be your "best" address) in exchange for various information I offer, depending on what you sign up for. I do not provide a space for or collect your name or any other personal information from my mailing lists. Don't need it, don't want it.
I offer the following kinds of emails:
Updates on new and upcoming classes
Updates on classes in low-priced "early-bird" releases (I don't do sales or discount my classes, so the early-bird classes are always the lowest price any course will ever be)
Lesson reminders for classes you've purchases, which if you remain on the list also let you know when classes get free in-version updates
Updates on the novels or short stories I’m writing
Genre-specific updates on my new fiction releases
HWC Blog update announcements
Drip (my new email service) allows me to see how many folks click on a tracing link in an email, and if I go into the "clicked" group, allows me to see which members clicked the link.
Drip also allows me to create Segmenting Tags, which allow readers to choose things about which I write emails, and select only those that interest them. I generally remember to indicate which links contain segmenting tags, and make clear that you are adding an "I'm interested" tag to your account when you select one of these links.
A lot of my email links are neither tracking links NOR segmenting links, which means that I don't even know these links have been clicked. (Sometimes I don’t want or need that information)
BUT because I'm human, and I might forget to identify a link as tracking or segmenting, please assume that if there's only one link in an email, it's a tracking link, and assume that if there is a link in an email that asks you if you're interested in something, it's a segmenting link. If you are not interested, don't click the link.
It is very important to me that I only send emails to people who WANT to receive my emails, and send only what they're interested in seeing. If you’re getting emails you don’t want (about topics that don’t interest you) just reply to any unwanted email. Title your reply UNWANTED EMAIL. I’ll dig through your account and remove any segmenting tags that could have resulted in you receiving that email (and that will prevent you from receiving any more like it).
If you REPLY to one of my emails (from ANY mailing list), it goes directly to me and will be read only by me.
I SAVE the really good emails I receive from my readers, because they make me happy -- and because they frequently include cool stuff like requests for new books or new classes, or awesome stories about how someone used a class to write and sell a novel, or a short story, or how a story I wrote or a blog post I did made a difference in the reader's life.
I KEEP these emails. They matter to me, and I love to read them. When I can, I reply. If you send me a personal email, assume that it will live on my hard drive forever.
HOWEVER, I currently receive a couple thousand emails a day, and an awful lot of them are real emails from real people, and email is a tiny portion of my daily work load... so I can rarely answer personally.
I DO NOT make lists of the personal emails I receive, do not file them in any particular place or fashion, and I have NEVER shared email addresses with anyone else from any source, either for money or for trade or for whatever other reason people give for betraying trust that way.
If you remove yourself from my list, you will disappear from my universe without comment or repercussion. I don't back up or store user-deleted emails into some sort of "throw them to the wolves" pile. I'm familiar with this practice only because it gets done to me pretty regularly when I unsubscribe from lists by people with whom I will no longer do business -- and the practice makes me angry.
My objective in every dealing I have with you is to treat you like a person, NOT like a sellable asset.
PURCHASING ANY CLASS, OR TAKING THE FREE FLASH FICTION CLASS, AUTOMATICALLY MAKES YOU A FREE SITE MEMBER. (There is no paid site member level. Site membership only comes in a free version.)
IF YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER AND PURCHASE A CLASS, either through an affiliate link or directly, you will be guided through the process of creating your member account at the same time that you purchase the class.
WHY MUST YOU AUTOMATICALLY BECOME A MEMBER IF YOU TAKE A CLASS?
Because classes are only delivered via the secure on-site classroom system, and because there is no way for you to buy a class or for us to deliver it to you or for you to use the linked private forum workgroup (available but not required) unless you have access to the member area, account creation is necessary for use of anything I offer in the classroom.
IF YOU ARRIVE AT THIS SITE VIA AN AFFILIATE LINK posted by a member, the link will register anonymous clicks on the classes you have looked at, but will NOT identify those clicks as coming from you, unless you purchase something or create an account.
EVEN IF YOU PURCHASE A CLASS through an affiliate link, affiliates never see your personal information.
This is important to keep in mind if you intentionally buy something through an affiliate you wish to support (if, for example, that affiliate is offering an excellent bonus).
If you've accidentally clicked through a different affiliate's link, or failed to use an affiliate link at all when you intended to, then to receive the affiliate's bonus, you must contact us through the Help Desk to ask us if the affiliate was credited with your sale. If he or she was not, ON YOUR REQUEST ONLY, we will happily connect your sale to your chosen affiliate's account so you can get their bonus.
The affiliate may not ask for you. This is something that must come directly from you, because we do not share personally identifiable information with affiliates.
You give us explicit consent to process and store the following data on you:
Your email address, which needs to work, because you'll use it for receiving your login credentials, and as your username when logging in -- but which does not have to be your "best" address.
Your password (which needs to be unique for the site). Never reuse passwords.
The name you give us for use in the Help Desk and the forum, which may be your real name or a pseudonym. We don't ask OR care whether this is your real name or one you made up.
The purpose for your name is to give us something to call you when you need help on a ticket, and to give your fellow site members a way to address you if you choose to use the free private forums.
If you want to be Bob StinkyPants… well… Hi, Bob.
We DO suggest you pick something you don't hate and won't get tired of. If you want to change it later AND require our assistance, there's a $25 fee.
Then, along with the information above, you ALSO give us contractual consent to process and store your payment information on any classes or workshops you may have purchased for the lifetime of your account.
With both one-time payments and subscription payments, we collect and store:
- transaction numbers
- dates and times purchased
- products purchased
- processor used
- and with PayPal, the unique PayPal ID for your account,
- along with the email address you use with either Payment Processors
We do this in order to give you ongoing (and where applicable, permanent) access to the courses you own.
WHILE IN SOME INSTANCES Stripe or PayPal will send us addresses, phone numbers, zip codes or other information not directly used for connecting students to classes, we do not capture, save, or store any such information. We offer no physical products on the site, and therefore have no need for mailing addresses, phone numbers, etc.
WE DO NOT process any financial transactions on this site
WE DO NOT store or have access to your credit card information, or your checking account information, or your banking information
To offer your financial data the highest security, all transactions are carried out on state-of-the-art software by the third-party processors STRIPE and PAYPAL on their secure sites
For NON-AFFILIATE members, WE DO NOT store personal addresses, phone numbers, birthdates, Social Security or EIN numbers. (If you are or want to be an affiliate for my classes, please see the affiliate information at the bottom of this page.)
You initiate our intentionally sparse information collection WHEN:
You purchase a class or workshop and we store your purchase information
Make payments for classes you purchase by subscription come in, and we add these payments to your account
Follow an affiliate link through which you then BUY a class or workshop
You ARE an affiliate and make a sale
You post on our private, members-only forums
In each case, you are the initiator of the data that is collected, and you have control over your data, and how it is used.
AT ANY TIME YOU MAY UNILATERALLY AND WITHOUT NOTICE TO US close your account, cancel any ongoing payments, and remove all personally information in your account EXCLUDING data regarding affiliate tax liabilities you may have incurred IF you are an affiliate. (This data will remain on file for the requisite ten years.)
Because we MUST retain payment records for a minimum of ten years, your receipts will remain on file, but they will be dissociated from your account and will no longer be connected or connectable with you. If these classes are tax-deductible for you, we will NOT be able to validate your purchases.
It is important that you understand the implications of data that is NO LONGER CONNECTABLE WITH YOU.
THIS IS THE DOWNSIDE OF OUR CAREFUL PROTECTION OF YOUR PRIVACY.
While you may close your account at any time, without warning or explanation, and with the entire process in your hands requiring NO assistance from us or approval by us, IF YOU CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT, we will NOT be able to return you to your previous account if you wish to come back.
Your old account will have been anonymized, and its numbers will be locked. In specific terms, what this means is that:
Any classes for which you have not maintained your own receipts will be lost permanently.
Any classes for which you have maintained incomplete receipts will require completing payments at the current prices to make up for any missing lessons.
CLASSES THAT WERE IN CLOSED ACCOUNTS
You are solely responsible for maintaining documentation of your class ownership, BECAUSE with your ability to close your account, you can break the link that connects your individual purchase to the payment I have received. I will still be able to report my tax obligations, but I will not be able to point to you as a named source of that particular piece of income. And I will not be able to validate your purchase for any class that might otherwise have been tax-deductible for you.
Closing your account and removing your information from the site ALSO releases me from our contractual agreement that I’ll provide you with permanent class updates, upgrades, and access as long as the site remains open and mine.
If you close your account, I am not required to reinstate your account or classes, even those for which you have paid in full. As long as you did not breach site terms of service while you were a member, I will do so ONCE for each class for which you have complete receipts. A single $50 reinstatement fee will apply if all receipts are presented at one time.
In cases where a member closes an account after violating site terms of service or member conduct rules, I will not reinstate old classes.
Your forum posts will lose their signatures and connection to you, and will be given an anonymous number. These will be permanently irretrievable.
Your affiliate number will be decommissioned, all your affiliate links will change to plain product links that add a dead cookie for a dead account.
Any affiliate commissions you may have pending will be cancelled. These changes are irreversible.
No old affiliate number from a cancelled account will be reinstated for any reason. Your necessary legal affiliate details will remain on file for the federally mandated documentation period, and your income will be reported through the final tax period for which you had income, but no further money will be credited to you or owed to you, and you will not be able to reclaim this account.
SOMEWHAT REDUNDANTLY… Because I offer permanent access to all in-version upgrades of classes you have purchased for as long as the site is operational and I own it, on the basis of our contract to provide services (I offered the class, you paid me money, I delivered the class) I will store your account information for as long as the site exists, so that you will have access to updates and upgrades as well as for reuse of existing classes.
The information I keep on customers is the absolute minimum needed to keep your account active:
The email address you chose when you created your account (which you can update)
Your log-in password (which you can and SHOULD update)
Whatever name or pseudonym you used to create your account (which you can update)
The email address through which you have purchased classes if different from the above (transactional - not updatable)
The specific purchase data that ties your purchases to your account (date, transaction number, price paid, product name and product code, and if applicable, subscription number and continuing payments made)
Your payment status on any subscription classes not yet fully owned
You can see all information I have stored on you in your account at any time, without asking, simply by logging in and going to the MY ACCOUNT link in the header.
You can remove all this information of your own free will at any time.
HOWEVER doing so releases me from my contractual obligation to provide you to the classes and upgrade you purchases, and closes our existing contract. I am not required to reinstate your account or classes paid, but as long as you did not breach site terms of service while you were a member, will do so ONCE for each class for which you have complete receipts. The $50 reinstatement fee will apply.
Should you close your account a second time, you will be required to join as a new member and buy any classes you want at the regular prices. I will not reinstate classes twice.
Because you may receive payment from me as an affiliate, and because these possible payments may result in a tax reporting liability on your part, the kind and amount of information I must maintain on you is signifcantly higher.
As mandated by law, we require real names, real mailing addresses, real birthdates, and a Social Security number or EIN or other tax identificatino for all US citizen affiliates or US resident affiliates who earn $600 or more in any tax-reporting year.
If you are a US citizen or US resident, when you have earned $599, your account payments will be put on hold until you have added this information to your affiliate account. Commissions will accrue for you but will not be paid.
IMPORTANT: If you are liable for US taxes and do not provide us with your tax information EITHER within 60 days of our FIRST email giving notice that you have reached the "no report" limit OR on JANUARY 1st of the new tax year, whichever is EARLIER, your earned commissions above $599 will be cancelled. Commission cancellation is not reversible
Federally mandated information will be maintained for ten years after your last participation in the affiliate program.
GDPR-Compliant Update: 5/18/2018