Chip MacGregor

January 28, 2014

The Last Word on Winepress Publishing


So faithful readers will recall that a couple years ago, the woman who started vanity press success story Winepress Publishing, Athena Dean, had announced the business had basically been taken over by a cult, and was being run by a guy who had bullied her into handing over her business  to the church — you can find her story at

It’s fascinating reading — a seemingly normal woman sucked in by a group of true believers, she lost her family and business over it, and eventually woke up to the fact that she was the victim of a manipulative group of religionists. I made one comment on it on Facebook (my exact words were: “Holy cow. I mean… WOW! This will blow the socks off of anyone who’s been involved in CBA publishing in recent years. Wow…” ) and that was enough to earn the wrath of the  guy in charge of both the church & the publishing company. They sent me a cease and desist letter, complete with really cool bible verses and a laughably funny “thou shalt not” tone that sounded right out of a 1950’s biblical epic movie with Charleton Heston. Bullying and obfuscation is their stock in trade, so of course I blogged about it (you’ll find my post here: ) — I figured if they were doing this to ME, they were doing it to others in publishing, and somebody needed to say something.

Sure enough, it turns out those wacky folks at Winepress had been threatening and cajoling people with their legal letters and threats for a long time. But a funny thing happens when you shine a little light on darkness — people begin to see the problems. And LOTS of people saw the problems at Winepress. Authors started leaving them in droves, not wanting to be associated with a cult (and let’s define a cult as a group of people with beliefs outside of orthodoxy, usually secretive, almost always exclusive, who tend to see outsiders as dangerous, and are led by one charismatic and authoritative leader who has a unique interpretation of truth, but who commands nearly every aspect of the lives of the followers). Soon after the church created blogs that existed only to trash the company’s founder, Athena Dean, though I was lucky enough to get a mention here and there. So I followed up my first post with another, offering details from the stuff I was sent from their lawyer, Dumas (feel free to pronounce that however you want). That second blog post is here, and I offer it because it’s the single most read post we’ve ever had on this blog:

In response to all the unwanted attention, a new guy was put in charge of Winepress, so that the senior pastor of the church wouldn’t be seen as being both the church’s authoritative leader AND the publishing house’s prez. Instead, it was turned over the church’s associate pastor, Malcom Fraser — who was once described to me as “an evil little troll.” In what can only be described as “a really bad bit of news for a Christian publishing house,” Malcolm was promptly arrested for raping a child, and led out of the Winepress offices in handcuffs. It turns out The Evil Troll, in his role as a pastor at the church, had been doing some very nasty things while staying with members of his congregation. He was convicted in a Washington state court, and sentenced to a long stretch in prison. (Note: Instead of asking forgiveness for foisting this guy on the congregation, the church’s response was to start a website criticizing the judge, the arresting officer, the district attorney, and the jurors. Oh, and Athena Dean.)

I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my years in Christian publishing, but never anything like The Winepress Follies. They kept up the “We’re So Holy” act for a long time, and included a good bit of “We’re Also Not Being Treated Fairly,” but one quick look at the websites is all most normal-thinking people needed to see what they’re like. Check out the Sound Doctrine Church and what people have had to say about them over the years, or look at their “HardTruth” website, or at the laughably slanted “news reporting” they’ve created at (And WHAT is HSBC thinking by advertising on that rag?!) I’ve never done business with Winepress Publishing, so I’ve got no agenda, no dog in this particular fight, but seeing how they were responding was a revelation — I  thought they looked like crackpots. And I was  clearly not alone, since I started hearing from a bunch of their customers who wanted to know how to get away from them, or who had stories of paying a lot of money to them for things like book storage fees. (For the record, I didn’t give any of their customers advice. I would always say that I didn’t do business with Winepress, so I had no firsthand knowledge of their activities — but that they should check out what other customers were saying online.)

It got weirder, if that’s actually possible. Carla, the wife of the senior pastor, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Normally I’d say that’s the sort of news I wouldn’t want to throw out on the blog — I’ve lost three friends to brain tumors in the past year, and there’s nothing funny about it. But leave it to her hub to politicize it (or theocratize it, I guess), by announcing that she was dying because of the negative words people were saying about Winepress. I’m not kidding. He took to task the police and the judge at The Evil Troll’s trial, Athena Dean, of course, and several others who had said negative things he didn’t like. I don’t know if I made the list. But I’m not trying to be funny — he actually accused people of using WORDS to kill her. Um… this is where I wondered if the guy actually had gone off the deep end.

Anyway, Winepress Publishing has closed their doors. Not because they couldn’t find more suckers to pay them money to publish their books (from all appearances, business was still good). Church members are telling whoever will listen that the company shut down because of all those evil attacks from nonbelievers. But word has it that a couple weeks ago their landlord asked the senior pastor of the church to sign something that clarified he was the head guy at Winepress, and thus put up his personal assets to support the company. He wouldn’t sign it, according to reports online. I’ve been told the guy’s name isn’t on any of the Winepress or church loans, or on any of the incorporation papers, either, though I’m not able to verify that fact. Still, it looks like he’s able to convince other people to put their assets at risk, but he won’t do it with his own money.

So Winepress Publishing is gone — though if you go to their site, there’s still time for you to catch them making one last stab at attacking their founder, Athena Dean. I used to think Winepress served a useful role as a vanity press helping speakers and authors who needed a few copies of their book produced. Later I came to see them as nothing more than a  funding vehicle for a weird separatist religious group, led by a vindictive oddball intent on destroying the woman who started the company, while defending a convicted child molester. No tears being shed here, other than those for the victims of these people. It’s closing time, Pastor Tim. Empty the ashtrays, sweep up the floor. You won’t be missed.

Share :


  • I published a book with Winepress back in 2011 and want to know what to do now that I want to use that book. Does this mean that I cannot use that title anymore? I am at a loss right now as to what to do with my book now that they are out of business. I want to use that book but am not sure what to do. Can anyone assist me?

  • Boricua63 says:

    I disagree with you. I published one book with them and was in the process of publishing my second when they went belly up. I was super satisfied with the quality of my book, excellent relationship with both of my project managers, very creative, affordable, and traceable marketing ideas. I was in shock and very sad of all this situation. Currently I still in contact with my first project manager who has given me excellent advise in regard to other potential publishers where I could re-print my first book and publish my second.

    I never got any negative legal letter or emails from them. On the contrary, very friendly and quick respond turn around. Personally I think Athena Dean took more advantage of the naive authors who found themselves with nothing in their hands.

  • Sweh Velilla says:

    All of this is so crazy to me… I, too, am a WinePress published author, and I’m just hearing about all this today. It’s unreal that this has been going on for years, and I’ve never heard a thing out here in VA. I’ve been reading articles and blogs, as well as the news stories out of Enumclaw about “pastor” Fraser. Thanks for shedding light on this, and I plan on contacting Athena.

  • Shawn says:

    I am not an attorney and hesitant to give legal advice. (Sort of like having the last word on a given subject.) That being said, I would be reluctant to engage an attorney for losing more money. There are larger creditors ahead of the authors, even authors in a class action. Perhaps if there is a criminal case you could pursue it civilly after a conviction. Most of the time in situations like this there is no money. Hence, I would realistically evaluate my project and take what ever money I had left and republish my book as an eBook and POD. Move on with the vision God gave you and share your message.

  • David Becker says:

    I joined Sound Doctrine Church (I was never an employee of Winepress) in September 2003 and left in May 2004. Praying for wisdom, for a variety of reasons, largely in part because I didn’t believe the timing to be right, for the most part I have not commented on Sound Doctrine Church since leaving. I think the time may now be right to say something. Although I have not been in contact with anyone with Winepress/Sound Doctrine Church since 2004, I knew all of them very well in 2003-2004, and they knew me well also. I am considering writing a book or blog post or something with a working title of “The Rise and Fall of Sound Doctrine Church.”

    Here is a link to a book by a Winepress author from 1998:

    The author (she’s my wife 1999-2004, 2005-present) predicted 14 years ago what is currently happening to Winepress.

    Below is a statement on me that was published on the Sound Doctrine Church web site in May 2004.

    Anatomy of a Slur

    In January 2000, an individual publicly slandered Sound Doctrine Church on his website and e-mail list. This sin was detailed and responded to in the sermon entitled “Anatomy of a Slur.”

    More than three years later, in September 2003, the individual involved repented of his slander, wrote a full statement of repentance, asked
    to be baptized, and joyfully joined Sound Doctrine Church.

    However, in May 2004 this person chose to leave the fellowship at Sound Doctrine. While we are extremely saddened by this, it is not our wish to
    bring further disgrace on any individual – and so, in the love of Christ, it is
    our desire to refrain from publishing further details at this time.

    * * *

    My joining Sound Doctrine Church did not convince some outsiders at the time that SDC might not be all that it’s cracked up to be, and as at turned out, nobody joined SDC as a result of my testimony at that time. One man (no idea where he is now) who at that time managed an “Investigate Sound Doctrine” Internet group wrote then: “About three years ago Becker posted negative comments towards SD on the internet. For some bizarre reason, Becker came to believe he was wrong to ‘slander’ Timothy Williams/SD, and felt the only way to ‘repent’ was to join SD!…On a special section of the SD web site is an Audio clip of David Becker’s public ‘repentance’ for slandering SD and Timothy Williams.” (I didn’t know the specifics of this until after I had left SD. This audio clip has been long since removed. The members of Sound Doctrine Church were all for it at the time that it was recorded. David Becker)

  • bullit56 says:

    To all locals: I am several states away, so does anyone have recommendations for a nasty collection attorney in the Enumclaw area? I am talking about a real viscous bastard.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Let me suggest you get in contact with some of your fellow authors, bullit56. I understand there’s a group of people taking about a lawsuit. To be clear, I am not part of any lawsuit, nor do I represent any authors involved, nor am I taking the part of Athena Dean or her company in this situation. I”m just here to report the story, since nobody else in CBA has seemed to want to touch this topic.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Chip, I not only wrote several letters to CBA, I got to talk to a board member. They suggested I get with a mediation group like Peace Makers as it seems I had a disagreement with WP. Disagreement? Yowza. I also filed claims with the BBB but WP lied so the BBB did nothing. I contacted the ECPA until I realized not CBA or ECPA cares about authors. Sad.

  • Elizabeth says:

    If anyone missed it, here is Athena’s podcast, which I think explains what happened and how she came to obtain the author files:

  • Elizabeth says:

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
    If you are a WP author, DO NOT BE FOOLED AGAIN INTO GIVING THEM MORE MONEY for ANY reason! Especially not to send you what ALREADY BELONGS TO YOU!!! They are bankrupt and don’t even have access to the buildings where your books are being stored. They are being sued by the landlord (aka the City Attorney) because they owed him $250,000!
    Second, use some common sense here. Look at the e-mails you’ve been sent. Pay attention to what’s really going on here. Look at the lies and deception. When was the first time you heard that WP was closed? Was it with that first e-mail, acusing Athena of “stealing” your files, ss #, & cc info? The one that also said in very small print near the top that “WinePress Publishing is not out of business…” and to “Keep watching your e-mail for more information to come.” Yeah, I thought so. They have been closed since late December, and you think you can trust them to send your files to you, that they just last week claimed were not in their possession anymore because they were “stolen”?
    Please, don’t be so gullible!

    As to those of you who think we should just let this go, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
    I’m from the “millenial” generation. It’s not in our blood to blindly let known injustices go. These people need to be held accountable for the CRIMES they have committed!

    • Anonymouse says:

      Actually, they owe $280,000. But minor details . . .

      Yeah it seems that they aren’t very good at being truthful or up front about what really is going on with them. Quite frankly, they need to be stopped.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I believe the $280,000 figure you’re referring to is the rent money due the landlord, correct? There are also editors owed money (so I’m told by some editors). Which makes me wonder if there are printers or shippers owed money — I don’t know. But who I’m really hearing from is authors, who have paid money and did not receive what they paid for. Which would suggest the figure of money owed is much higher, of course.

      But you watch… tomorrow, WinePress will have a NEW story, explaining how this is not their fault, and they’re the victims, and they’re really just here to help you out. The BS from this company is amazing. I particularly like the part of their website where it says that all these “attacks” is what ruined their business. Not the fact that they didn’t deliver product. Not the fact that they clearly spent a lot of time and money creating attack ads on their founder. Not the fact that they didn’t pay their bills. No, the reason they’re going out of business is because of everyone else… so it’s probably YOUR FAULT, Anonymouse! (It’s doubtless my fault as well. I’ll cry all night.)

    • Anonymouse says:

      Yeah, that would be the rent and not whatever else they owe editors, printers, taxes, etc. I can imagine the bottom line is much greater though.

      Haha You’re right. It’s my fault. If we didn’t “target” them, maybe they could have stayed in business despite their dripping red ledgers.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      I just got my royalty statement for 2012 but never received the money. Hmmmmm

  • Anonymouse says:

    Well, as mentioned already in the comments, it doesn’t look like WinePress is being very forthright with what they really have in their possession. Didn’t they say that they didn’t have our files? It sounds like they are not being 100% with us. Here’s the email:

    Greetings WinePress Authors,

    WinePress Publishing is now starting the next phase of serving our authors. It’s been our intention from the moment we started winding down operations to provide each of you with the necessary publishing files to flourish. In fact, many of our authors received these files earlier this month.

    We are offering two options for you to publish or print your books. Please click the button at the bottom of this email for more information.

    WinePress Publishing has stood as a role model of serving, and in that spirit, we are offering the best possible choices for you to produce your message.

    Thank you!
    The WinePress Publishing Team

    • Elizabeth says:


    • Anonymouse says:

      Hahaha oh and get this. When you click the included link in the email (takes you to, it gives you the choice to either transfer your book to another publisher, or to request your files. When you request your files, they make you buy the box for them to use to ship the files to you, pay for the postage, pay for the return postage, and then send all that to them so they can ship the files to you. Let me point out that this is all on your dime, not theirs! Don’t they say in the email that “WinePress Publishing has stood as a role model of serving”? How is it serving to close up shop without telling authors and then require THEM to pay to get their files?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Anonymouse. Um… stood in the role model of serving? Yeah. But if you don’t mind my being a bit negative, they only thing they’ve served up in recent days is BS on a platter. I would NOT recommend an author send them ANY MONEY.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Spot on there, Chip.

  • rocky2012 says:

    I am a Wine Press author too. I am confused as to whether I am now free to pursue another publisher. Can anyone answer that?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I’m not a lawyer, so I am NOT giving you legal advice. But from the statement on the WinePress website, and from all that’s been said on this blog, it looks to most of us that you are free to pursue another publisher, Rocky2012. I don’t know that for a fact, but it looks that way from what others are saying. As noted by others, Athena Dean says she has most of the author files, so you may be able to get your files from her. If so, there are any number of publishing options you could pursue, both print and online, to make your books available again.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Just to be safe, because WP keeps stringing the authors along with false promises of obtaining our files, many authors have sent a certified (sometimes notarized) letter “officially” cutting ties with them. That way, if they do try to say they are still in business (which they have already tried to do with that last e-mail), you will already be done with them. As far as getting your files, the reason they keep stringing us along and not sending them is because they were kicked out of the building they were renting because they owe about $250,000 to the landlord! The landlord (who is also the city attorney, I believe), put a Landlord’s lein on everything in the building and is legally able to sell everything to try and get back some of the money owed to them. They are suing WP, as are other companies who are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Call the city attorney yourself if you have questions. He is very helpful.
      The landlord offered the servers with the files on them to Athena so that she can help the authors who WP keeps stringing along with empty promises. From my understanding, this was done completely legally. I have sent FIVE e-mails since the first week of January asking for my files and back-owed royalites and have only rec’d ONE automated reply saying they are very busy and will get to me eventually… So I find it very funny that they keep trying to say that they have already sent some files to authors. It’s simply b.s. and one more way for them to try and keep authors strung along. Contact Athea, as she is likely your only hope of ever seeing your files again. She will send them to any author who asks at no cost to the author. She’s projecting a 2-week time table to have all author files returned to their rightful owners.

    • Jody Moreen says:

      I have been extremely fortunate and blessed to be one of about 65 WP authors who has been on a private FB online group for 2 weeks. Navigating with other WP authors and discovering truth and supporting one another with encouragement, scripture and prayer has been a godsend. Many of us have tried to contact other WP authors, and little by little we are finding them. Maybe any WP authors who are reading these posts and not connected with the other authors can contact Chip and he can connect them with Heather Randall or Elizabeth above my posting here. Also if any persons reading these comments know any WP authors please lead them here to read this article and comments section or connect with Heather Randall on Facebook. I cannot even begin to IMAGINE the frustration, confusion and chaos they must feel being in isolation with only an automated e-mail on WP website ( not one is home! ) Also the changing stories of closing and pointing authors one day to another publisher and than the next day changing that too. Too much betrayal, deception and misuse of funds has happened. I ask for prayer that WP authors will all be connected with one another so that some don’t get lead astray and follow the confusing zany e-mails and WP website postings this week by a wayward former owner that keep changing like a chameleon regarding the facts and directives of a bankrupt company locked out of its buildings and left with none of their equipment or servers or book inventory.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks for this, Jody. I always appreciate a wise, reasoned response. Let me suggest that there are others participating in this conversation (you, Heather, Elizabeth) who are better equipped to answer specific questions. But I agree — getting the word out to WinePress authors is important. I’ve been hearing from people who are saying, “Gee whiz — this is the first I’ve heard there was a problem.”

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Wine press just sent out another email giving specific instructions on how to get your files from them.

    • Anonymouse says:

      It’s laughable, but yes.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Help us out, Anonymouse… what’s laughable?

    • Anonymouse says:

      Well, you know, Chip. Just do all the legwork for them on your dime and you’ll get your good ol’ files in no time via snail mail. Forget the fact that they shut their doors, haven’t delivered; they’re victims, right?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      And Michelle, did they give you your files? I ask because I’m told there’s no one working there, and they don’t have access to the files. So… I’m actually wondering if that’s nothing more than a scam to make more money. I don’t have ANY evidence to suggest that, by the way — just wondering about it.

  • Sharon Elliott says:

    My second self-published book was published by Winepress. I received every royalty on time and received every order promptly. After a while, I became one of the company’s editors. Never was there any book that was Biblically inaccurate, and the company promptly paid me for each project I did for them. Never did anyone ever try to “convert” me or pull me into a cult. I have been an acquaintance of both Athena Dean and Carla over the years. Hundreds of books were published over the years by Winepress, giving many, many authors a chance to see their books in print. In fact, my publishing experience with Winepress launched me into my writing career and I’ve been working with royalty publishing houses since.

    I agree that wrongs should be addressed and set right, but we need to check our I-told-you-so and nah-nah-nah-nah-nah tone. The Bible has something very pointed to say about how we should respond when we are done wrong. We’re not to be weak sissies, but we are to be meek (strong under control) like our Savior in all situations. In fact, the strong (I assume that’s all of “us” who feel we are “right” in this issue) are called upon to restore the weak. It says nothing about whether or not the weak know they’re weak, request restoration, or deserve restoration. Who is praying for the Winepress employees, Carla, and Tim?

    • David Smith says:

      Chip, I don’t mind the “sucker” comment – I feel like one. However, I went with Winepress after meeting Carla and Athena at a writers conference. I don’t regret that decision. What I regret is not being more proactive about my account. I’m hurt that Winepress never let us know that Carla had passed. I respected her and looked up to her.
      They owe me royalties just like so many others so I guess there will be a class-action suit filed for breach of contract.
      I don’t think I can trust anyone connected with this. I appreciate Athena contacting me but to get the bad taste out of my mouth I won’t be following up with Redemption Press.
      Thanks for hosting this purging.

    • michelle lazurek says:

      i couldn’t agree more. My question is: why would anyone trust a woman who worked at winepress for twenty years who then sold the company to people not worthy of running it efficiently? What is to stop her from doing it again? Why pay when Createspace does it for free?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Not all of us are tech savvy or confident enough to do that ourselves. I’d rather pay to have it done than risk screwing something up.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      You can trust Athena Dean if you read her blog completely and then read the sickening rhetoric on the WP and SD sites and compare the statements made. I know the situation quite intimately and Athena was bludgeoned into selling WP to SD church for $10.00 due to their God complex of bullying people into submission. My innocent, 22 year old college student son was being trained out there shortly after this sale of WP when he told me he met Athena Dean. I told him she was the owner of WP. He told me different. Athena was the custodian. She no longer had an office and was being made to clean the bathrooms, take out the garbage, and be the custodian. She was also forbidden to talk to anyone who came into the office. Eye witness–a kid who knew nothing of the mess going on.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, David. I think that’s a fair conclusion to come to. Some authors are NOT going to want to work with Athena again after everything that’s happened at WinePress. They should be free to move elsewhere (and my guess is Athena will understand that perspective). I’m not here as a mouthpiece for Athena, nor as a marketing arm of Redemption Press. I’m here to talk about a crappy situation in publishing that needed to be dragged out into the open. So I’m glad you came on to say something.

    • michelle lazurek says:

      Amen Sharon!! Through private emails with Chip, you have summarized what I have been saying all along. Although I do not diminish the fact that many winepress authors are upset with the way things are run, me like you, have had no official problems with the company. I, too, reminded Chip of our biblical response in this matter. I hope others will take a more biblical response in this deeply saddening situation.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      No official problems with the company? Really? The fact that they bullied and intimidated people, that they took author money and didn’t do what they were paid for, that have a pattern of lying about things, they they defended a child rapist and created what amounts to yellow journalism to support their cause, that they were basically a funding vehicle for what most consider a cult, that there are dozens of authors, former employees, and former church members verifying these facts… none of that bothers you because they treated you nice? I’m sorry, but that seems like an odd way of viewing the situation, Michelle.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Chip, I don’t appreciate being called immature. I have my opinion and I’m entitled to it. You invited me to come on your blog to present the other side of the story on this issue. Now that I have, you are making comments that I feel are inappropriate.

    • Sarah says:

      I’d say your stance is more one of ignorance. Lest you take offense to being called ignorant, look up the definition. It’s not an insult. It’s simply a fact that you are seemingly ignorant to the facts. By saying that there isn’t a problem because you, yourself, didn’t have any issues with the company is like saying human trafficking or global poverty isn’t a real problem because you, yourself, have never been trafficked or lived in poverty. It’s completely ignorant.
      Sure, you may have had a good experience with WP. However, a much larger majority of their authors and vendors have been cheated and robbed. The facts speak for themselves. I mean, have you even read through some of the stories on here? It’s sickening! Even if you did have an okay experience, why would you want to side with someone so evil?
      I, myself, had many “normal”, friendly conversations with the convicted rapist of the company. Never, in a million years, would I condone or defend something and someone so evil, no matter how many “nice” conversations I may have had with him. “Oh, well I had nothing but pleasant conversations with him, so there is no possible way he could have raped and molested a child.” It would be completely ignorant to think and say that. But that’s exactly how you are coming across.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      That’s not what I said. I didn’t say it’s ok because I didn’t have any bad conversations so please don’t twist my words. I am merely agreeing with the above statement from Sharon Elliott, who is saying that not everyone had bad experiences with wine press. I have never sided with anyone and in my original post featured a day or two ago I specifically said I was not siding or condoning anything only that I had not had the same experiences as everyone else. If you have a problem with me you must disagree with Sharon Elliot too.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I invited you to come onto the blog to participate in the conversation, Michelle, and I’ve been happy to have you do that. But a conversation is not one-sided. If you come on and say something strong, you need to be able to live with a strong response. You said yourself you “had no official problems with the company.” My response remains the same — that’s an immature way of viewing the situation.

      Think of it this way… Your neighbor has wild parties. He keeps you up at night. He shoots your dog. He comes into your house while you’re gone and steals your stuff. He threatens your family. I live on that same street and hear all about it. Then, when the police come to ask me about it, I say, “I dunno… every time I talked to the guy, he was great.” Wouldn’t your response be, “ARE YOU BLIND? You watched it all happen!”? That’s the situation we’re in here, Michelle. You came on and wanted to make your point. You did. But if you want to make a point, you need to live with other responding to it.

    • Michelle lazurek@ says:

      Are you going to respond to the emails I sent you?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Hope to do that this weekend, Michelle!

    • Altosackbuteer says:

      I just now reviewed Mr. MacGregor’s words to you and I can’t find where he called you “immature.”

      I think you made that up. Which tells me something about you.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Sharon and Michelle–do you turn your back on all the authors who were ‘ripped off’ of thousands of dollars? Do you turn your back on the head honcho going to prison for repeatedly raping a little girl? Do you turn your back on the fact that two state representatives urged the ‘other families’ with little girls who were raped by this same man to come forward? Do you turn your back on the extensive and overwhelming hate campaign against Athena Dean?

      Can you turn your back on the fact I was coerced into joining their cult and when I didn’t I was threatened, had false legal papers filed against me, was accused of instigating a ‘fake made-up’ terrorist to kill one of their employees, accused me of black mailing two of the largest Christian Writer’s organizations into not doing business with them, made me physically ill from the stress as I am a double transplant patient with cancer, cost me more than $3,000 dollars in lawyer fees just to get them to leave me alone, and promised to “destroy me.” There’s more. Not as much as the cascading landslide of attacks on Athena.

      So don’t come on here and defend them just because you had one good experience. Have mercy on all of us who have gone through the satanic wrath of their hate.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks for coming on, Sharon. I’m glad your experience was a positive one. Of course, that’s clearly not true of every author who was a client of WinePress. Many were cheated — some of thousands of dollars. (I spoke to someone yesterday who said she had sent them $17,000 and had received nothing.) Someone has to speak for them. And now with WinePress stating they are out of business, there’s nothing to defend. I tend to think the “well I got treated well so it’s all okay” perspective is a bit short-sighted, I guess, when you consider that there are many who did not. And, to be frank, this blog isn’t here to say “I told you so.” I’m certainly not blaming authors (though I’d love to know why CBA and/or ECPA didn’t step up and do something — it seems like there was a lot of ignoring an obvious problem). My blog is here to try and tell the truth about a situation where there were a ton of lies being disseminated. My two cents.

  • Heather Randall says:

    Hi Chip. Thank you for covering this story when others wouldn’t. I appreciate the care you’re showing in the comments from emotional authors, like myself. If you are contacted by any former WinePress authors who are just hearing about this, please encourage to look me (Heather Randall) or Athena Dean up on FB. I started a private/ secret group there and screen new members. We are discussing ways to move forward and finding encouragement and support from each other during this trying time. Thank you!

    • Dave93446 says:

      There are about eight Heather Randalls on Facebook. Which one is you?

    • Heather Randall says:

      I am this Heather:

      My FB profile picture matches the one on my comments.

      Dave, I got you in the group. 🙂

    • Sweh Velilla says:

      Hi Heather, I sent you a message as well. I think I sent it to the correct Heather, but as the previous poster said it may have gone to your “other” folder.

    • Dave93446 says:

      I found you on FaceBook by comparing your picture. I sent you a Private FaceBook message, but it is probably in your “Other” mailbox.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I appreciate you (and other authors) coming onto the site to share your stories, Heather. More information is better than less in a situation like this.

  • Cheryle Touchton says:

    I am weeping for all involved. I fell in love with Athena and Carla years ago. I just found out tonight that Carla passed away and I am weeping. I weep for the Wine Press that published my first book in 2005. I weep for the damage to Athena and to good people like Kevin who i worked with. I saw this happening in the early stages and tried to talk to carla and athena. I don’t know Tim – have met him once. I have 3 books with them and since I knew this was going on, i should have moved them before now but I was praying for redemption and healing for all. I am at a loss as to what to do now. All of my books still sell at my events and some on Amazon. I am waiting for wisdom from God while I weep with him over this.

    Cheryle touchton cheryle@pocketfullofchange.orb

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Hi Cheryle – Let me offer a thought… Saint Paul once said he didn’t care who got the credit, so long as the gospel was preached. Good motives or bad, the word was getting out. I think that’s the approach you need to take here. Good company or bad, your books got done, you’re selling them, and that’s something to celebrate. Look on the bright side.

  • JoAnn Reno Wray says:

    Great blog, Chip. Having followed this for years I know that Athena’s heart was to help authors with good books that did not have a huge audience but were worth publishing. I’m celebrating Athena’s freedom and healing and glad to see her new publishing venue being launched, Redemption Press. Thank you for shining the light. We all should do this more often with humility and God’s grace.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I doubtless need to do it with more humility, JoAnn, but thanks for coming on to comment. Nice to see so many folks involved in the conversation.

  • Concerned says:

    Anyone who is concerned about Athena having the author files (and who wants to know the truth of the situation) needs to listen to this station on Saturday morning at 11am CST. She will explain in detail how it all went down.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Chip, I think you opened a can of worms with this article…

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I did. Clearly. But then I learned that WinePress had been bullying people for years, and nobody had done much about it. I’m glad it’s out in the open, frankly. Time these clowns were put out of business.

  • Dennis Smirl says:

    The only one I’ve heard from is Athena Dean. Didn’t know all what was going on at Winepress until I got an e-mail from Ms. Dean. She is now trying to get ‘orphaned’ authors back on track through a new publishing outfit called Redemption Press.
    They did contact me back in Sept ’13 to pay my ‘in print’ fee, which I did.
    Again, no idea.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Sadly, the only time they have contacted the authors directly was with the smear e-mail they sent the other day, accusing Athena of stealing files, credit card info, and ss #’s. It’s been ridiculous and unbelievably unprofessional. To an outsider, the statement on their website seems to indicate that they took the steps necessary to contact their authors and actually care about their authors. Obviously this is not the case, since they did not even bother to contact anyone. They simply stopped answering their phones and e-mail messages, except with an automated reply. Many authors had no idea the company closed A MONTH AGO and the e-mail from yesterday is the ONLY corespondence they have rec’d from the company at all! I found out BY ACCIDENT when I tried to do an advertising campaign and the website store wasn’t working. Time will bring the complete picture of fraud, theft, and gross mismanagement to light. TW and WP will be held accountable. Make no mistake about that.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      For those who don’t know, Athena Dean has started a new self-publishing company. She sent out a note to former WinePress authors. Then WinePress (who was ostensibly out of business) sent out a follow-up email, claiming Athena stole their information. I”m trying to track down what happened — Uh, I’ve learned to not take the word of the WinePress team as gospel.

    • Cameron Bane says:

      Chip, big kudos to you for addressing this mess, as well as allowing those who’ve been devastated and feel they have no voice to know they’re not alone.

      I wish I could say the WinePress debacle is an outlier in its peculiar kind of awfulness, but I don’t think so. I’m sure there are even more Cthulhuian (is that a word? It should be) presses waiting to strip writers of hope.

      You, sir, have stones of iron for taking on the monsters.

  • Guest says:

    What is problematic for me is that I referred people here, and I feel just awful about how things turned out. Thank you for shedding light on the story.

  • Kevin Cochran says:

    Chip, thanks for what you’re doing. I officially resigned from WinePress last December. I had been ready to leave for quite some time before then, but my wife and children weren’t and I wasn’t going to leave without them. I patiently waited as God freed them from Tim’s grip, and that finally happened last October.

    I began looking for a new job in early October, and when I warned them in early November, they took no prudent actions. When I started interviewing in late November, they put the graphic designer–a guy who knows absolutely nothing about IT–in charge of gathering IT procedures! Sheer insanity!!!

    It was finally in December when my wife and children were begging me to quit WinePress that I finally resigned. They still owe me $34,000 in unpaid wages, but that’s nothing compared to what they owe many, many others. All the while, Tim made sure he received his FULL paycheck twice a month.

    I’m so sorry for how I treated while while I was part of the church, and I’m amazed at the forgiveness I’ve been given. Jesus has also revealed his true love to me, and that’s made the biggest difference. My heart goes out to those still bewitched by Tim, and I hope they snap out of it before he destroys them.

    Thanks again, and I hope our paths will cross at some point in the publishing industry (other than a blog about WinePress).

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks for coming on and sharing your story, Kevin. I think there’s a word missing in your fourth paragraph. You’re sorry for… what? (I’m not picking on you. I’m trying to make sure you say things clearly.) We all make mistakes, and sometimes big ones. If you were part of the problem, and now you’re trying to make amends, that’s fair enough. I appreciate you being honest with people about this.

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      Oops, that’s “sorry for how I treated people.” I originally came to SD because I was incredibly self-righteous. It was a perfect fit for my sinful attitude. SD creates an environment which nurtures self-righteousness, and all members master the art of it.

      Negative interaction with authors was somewhat limited for me. I was in the background most of the time making sure all the IT needs were met. But there were some negative interactions. Unfortunately, a number of scathing e-mails went out to authors in my name, which were actually written by Malcolm (I was told I was too nice and not firm enough) and approved by me. That’s something I’m very ashamed of and regret that I allowed it to happen. But I was never in a position to warn them until recently.

      To go a little further into why I stayed at WP once I started seeing problems: Simple. Because my wife and children were still weak and active in the church. Had I left and done ANYTHING to rectify the situation, I would have lost my family. Don’t believe me? I personally saw it happen with 4 different families. Here’s one example of how it was happening in mine:

      My oldest son is 14. Over the past several years, Tim would manage to get him alone and tell him my wife and I were stupid, lazy, and unfit parents. Any interaction I had with my kids, whether positive or disciplinary, Tim would slightly twist and use as examples to undermine me and my wife so that Tim’s allegations were believable to my son. Then–Tim would tell my son not to say anything to us “or else.” The threats he used ranged from minor to mediocre, but Tim instilled fear in my son and almost completely dissolved the respect my son had for us.

      Once my son was set free in October, this was one of the first things he got off his chest. I was appalled at the specifics I heard. But had I left before he was ready, a simple phone call from Tim would have severed that relationship and my son would have been lost.

      Chip, that’s just a single incident among the hundreds. And I haven’t even shared about my wife and my younger two sons. Prior to October 2013, had I shown anything but loyalty to SD/WP, my family would have been destroyed. That’s why I didn’t defend Athena, stand up for authors, etc. I fully believed that God had one mission for me: to save my family.

      Once my family came around, I still had to play it safe in order to see who else would go with me. And praise God, someone did! Larry F. lived with us after Tim made him divorce his wife many years back. Larry left the church at the same time and is now back with his family and mending those relationships.

      As I previously mentioned, I took about 2 days off after I left to collect my thoughts, and I’ve been working behind the scenes to expose WP ever since. Your blog is my first “public appearance.”

      Right or wrong, my allegiance was to my family through all of this. I couldn’t trust anyone else, whether other SD members, ex-members, or even authors. I had to keep it to myself in order to be successful. Now that my family is safe, my new mission is to help authors regain what was lost.

  • James says:

    Not sure if everyone knows but Athena’s new compny is already founded on fraud. She accepted stolen author files from a former employee of Winepress. But hey, let’s just keep bashing Timothy Williams and not question EVERYTHING.

    • Carolyn Goss says:

      How so? Stolen author files? How so, when the files are intellectual property of the authors, who hold the copyrights to their books? A defunct company cannot hold hostage those files. I find it highly ironic that a group always preaching against gossip is doing just that.

    • Athena Dean says:

      Exactly Carolyn…James is another one of the loyal members who believes everything Tim Williams says…big sigh. I’m used to this…it’s laughable.

    • James says:

      Athena, thank you for not accusing me of being brainwashed. Maybe since this is public, you won’t send me another Nasty Email.

      Perhaps you could explain how all of WinePress’s author files came into your possession.

    • Elizabeth says:

      James, clearly you don’t know the whole picture of deception and fraud by TW. Just look at the comments here! There are at least 3 large companies that are owed hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars from WP. Not to mention the thousands of authors who have been left in the dark by WP and TW! We (the authors who actually found out on our own about WP closing) have been asking for A MONTH for our files and royalties to be sent to us with not a single correspondence besides the automated e-mail reply. Are you ignorant to that fact? Or are you simply blindly following and listening to the lies TW wants you to believe? I don’t know him or Athena personally. But it doesn’t take a genius to see the big picture here and to see the hate and venom spewed by TW and his websites. I mean, anyone who spends as much time and money as he has to try and smear a SINGLE PERSON obviously has something to hide. Why is he so bent on destroying Athena? Take a step back and really search. Really look at the big picture. Try to take an unbiased view of things, as hard and painful as it will be. I feel sorry for you and the others who are blindly following such deception.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I think you raise two good questions here, Elizabeth… First, why is Tim so bent on destroying Athena? (Something that’s clearly evident from the various WinePress and church websites. There’s some sort of weird personal vendetta.) Second, even if you don’t like Athena (or don’t like me), how can any follower of the situation not notice the authors and vendors who are claiming they were left in the lurch, having paid thousands of dollars and receiving nothing? Surely there’s abundance evidence of that.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      And… you know this for a fact? Because that’s a pretty serious charge, James. If you have evidence that she accepted stolen files, go to the police. Don’t come making accusations on a blog just to stir things up.

    • James Owens says:

      Chip: I think I need to clarify my position a bit. I am no longer a member of Sound Doctrine, nor an employee of WinePress. Thus, it is not my place to report it to the police.

      What I know is that Athena Dean somehow ended up with terabytes of WinePress’s author files. I know for certain they were not given to her by WinePress or anyone authorized to do so. My brother still works there.

      I’m not “making accusations on a blog just to stir things up”. You see as great as Athena may appear to you (I know you’re not close friends), I lived with her for 7 years and from those seven years, I learned she can be very sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

      She helped my aunt raise me and my brother when we joined SD 10 years ago. In short, she ranks in the top 5 most influential people in my life, but not in a good way. From a very young age, I saw her undermining tendencies and had to guard myself against them. My brother and I had to grow up very quickly. Life quickly escalated from annoying to frustrating living with Athena.

      Remember people can act very different in public than they do in private.

      Please Chip, look at this Nasty Email Athena sent me in response to a comment I attempted to post on her blog, which she did not post.

    • Concerned says:

      James- If you really want to know how Athena obtained the files (unless you really are just blowing smoke and trying to stir the pot), listen here on Saturday morning at 11am CST:

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Okay… I looked that over. I didn’t see the nastiness in the email, James. And you say you “know for certain,” but somehow I’m not left with the impression you have any real insider information — you seem to be simply taking a position to defend your relatives. In another circumstance, that might be great. Here, it sort of makes you look silly, as though you refuse to look at the facts. And how can your brother “still work” for WinePress if they are closed? Look, I understand you and Athena have history. Again, my point here is not to make a hero out of Athena — it’s to point out that WinePress (1) is tied to a group that’s been accused of being a cult, (2) is being accused by a bunch of former clients of taking their money and not delivering, which is generally understood to constitute fraud, (3) was clearly run by the senior pastor of the Sound Doctrine church, (4) was then turned over to the associate pastor, who was subsequently convicted of raping a child that was part of a family in the congregation, (5) has used bullying tactics with clients, vendors, and staff for years, (6) tried to bully me with this crappy biblical-sounding tripe, (7) apparently owe a lot of people money, (8) have gone to great lengths to attack the founder of the company, even setting up websites that demonstrate a vendetta against her, (8) are being accused by former employees of bullying and intimidation tactics, (9) have openly politicized the death of the pastor’s wife, and (10) seem to be nothing more than a funding vehicle for a weird, separatist religious group. THAT’S why I’m posting about this again. Not because I think Athena is a hero, but because I think authors and people in publishing have been screwed and intimidated by the wack-jobs at Winepress, and I have a platform to speak for them. (Plus, realistically, I probably am not a good candidate for their intimidation tactics, since they just tend to piss me off.) Frankly, I think somebody in CBA or ECPA should have caught on earlier, when Tim Williams was accosting people on the floor of the trade show and generally acting like an oddball. They didn’t step up. I did. That doesn’t make me a hero; it just makes me a loudmouth, but one with a popular blog who doesn’t intimidate well.

  • Jennifer Arrington says:

    This is all so enlightening.

    I paid Pleasant Word to publish my book back in 2005 and sold relatively few paper copies probably due to their high retail pricing-or, Chip, possibly due to the poor writing quality? (l think that was in your rejection letter…lol)

    Interesting that when I called Winepress today to ask clarification about the crazy emails I have been receiving they told me that they no longer had my files, that Athena had stolen them along with my credit card information and social security number. When I asked them how I could know if they were telling me the truth they got very irate. They told me they were asking upset authors to contact the FBI because the local police liked Athena and wouldn’t do anything. They said Athena had my book files and I would only be able to get them if I paid her money. (Doesn’t this read like a bizarre self-published novel?)

    So, I contacted Athena, and told her what I had been told and she immediately offered to send me my book files. Seems to me that if she had “stolen” them she wouldn’t be offering to send them for free.

    I appreciate your blog,

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Interesting. Thanks, Jennifer. (And Michelle, you may want to get on the phone and ask her about your files.)

    • Jennifer Arrington says:

      The latest email came today….

      They now say I can get all my files from WinePress free of charge or continue to print on demand with someone called Deep River Books. This is surprising, because whoever I spoke with on the phone on Wednesday night told me that they had no way of obtaining my files because Athena had stolen them. Of course, I won’t continue with anything they are affiliated with.

      Thank goodness, back when Pleasant Word was pleasantly helpful (and as part of the package I paid for) they happily sent me my files so I could upload my book myself to Kindle. Also, I made sure that I retained all rights and ownership to all aspects of my book. That IS the beauty of self publishing. So, in a nutshell, Kindle saved my book, and the company that I started with, Pleasant Word, helped make that a reality.
      My only regret is that I didn’t order a box of hard copy books before the final demise. I have one book left and people are constantly asking me for gift copies. That book will be displayed as a trophy to a dream come true and the next time I publish..? Ah well, there is always Kindle with its 70% royalties:)

    • Jennifer Arrington says:

      Just had an epiphany – ordered the last 5 new copies in stock from Amazon:) Kind of ironic, but not much more expensive then ordering a box from the old Wine Press. Now I have 6 copies and there are still plenty used for sale if a friend ever wants another copy. Feeling a lot better.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      That’s great, Jennifer! I hope others notice your comment and do the same.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      No one ‘stole’ files. Electronic files cannot be stolen when the original people that had them in their possession still have them. On their monster servers.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      For the record, the first I heard about Athena having old WinePress files was last night… I’m not accusing her of stealing them, Cindy. But I’m asking the question: How did she get hold of those files? It’s a fair question — electronic files CAN, in fact, be stolen. And if they involve confidential information, that can be a very serious crime. No accusations being made here; just asking the question.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Thank you for asking that question.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Hey Chip–stole the files wasn’t meant towards you. The flying accusations of stealing files just made me crazy. Like electronic files are not physical copies with only one source. And I already knew about the landlord handing them over legally. 8^)

    • Altosackbuteer says:

      Good point.

    • Karla Cochran says:

      They are flat lying! WOW! That’s the same lies and scare tatics they used on me for 12 years in their church. They get mad and make up angry lies to stir people up and get people scared. They also cause confusion by giving you lies and not the full story so you’re left with chaos- it’s a typical tactic. Don’t let them. My husband quit them cold because of their illegal behavior (employees working for nothing and then being rebuked for being lazy after putting in 60+ hours/week and many times even more than that- overtime pay no way) and abuse—We woke up, wised up, and they can no longer shut me up. They have their own members/WP emplyees sign confidentiality agreements to keep them scared from telling people the truth of how they are REALLY treated. I sat on as a TOC committee member while Malcolm yelled at Jan (WP accountant) for lying when she did not lie–many different times. No one on the committee knew what was really going on except Malcolm we all sat there like puppets being used to abuse and cause humiliation to Jan. It was pure intimidation to get her to do what they wanted on taxes all against Athena. Even told her they were going to make her resign after all that -Guess what? They didn’t make her resign, just another lie they just used to guilt her into submission. Now she wallows saying What a priveledge they let her stay– MANIPULATION. I hate that I sat there silent and didn’t stand up to such unethical abuse not only by chrisitans but by their own employer and Yes Timothy Williams was behind all those meetings calling in before the meeting and making sure Malcolm did everything TW wanted him to do- just nasty behavior. Larry Filato was a witness and Kevin Cochran a witness on this. Just like their behavior with every author here. NOTHING was stolen plain and simple and I know it. Holding files hostage that don’t belong to them and giving them to another company, being paid $15,000/month (that’s after his taxes were taken out) to TW is STEALING- FBI on that one…Authors you were snowed by TW and his family just like I have been. You’re not alone. They owe my husband $34,000 is work completed- paystub proof. Mike Owens is one that hasn’t been paid in at least 8 months or more as of Nov. 2013. Athena is NOT the one who messing you around. Read her statement she admits her wrongs – TW will not. She is doing all she can to correct her wrongs of being with SD/WP. Authors those files belong to you and no one is or should charge you for them. There is so much abuse it would take a lot of time to share just what we witnessed, not to mention what Larry, Athena , and others have gone through.

      Speaking Up and Out—ex-SD member and ex-WP employee.

      PS. They will deny everything I said tooth and nail- I know I did the same thing when I was in this group. They call it persecution,protect your leader– if you don’t you will be in some sort of trouble – scare tactic once again. They operate on fear.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Wow. Thanks for coming on, Karla. I”m sorry you’re been through this. There are organizations that are set up to help people coming out of traumatic situations, and specifically breaking away from cults. Your story is interesting, and others will want to hear from you. Yes, your former group will undoubtedly try to muzzle you and scare you and make your life difficult. It takes a strong person to be brave in the face of that.

    • Karla Cochran says:

      Yes know it well, I watched them muzzle me and others for 12 years–especially during Malcolm’s rape case. I have a lot to say and undertand the consequences that accompany whistle blowing. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s humiliating and hard, but in the end I pray the truth will set people free. To see the full picture like I do compels me… Light needs to be shed on the darkness at SD/WP–such a small group to have SO many lies and secrets kept from even their own people. I do know of one organization in Ohio–didn’t know there were others. I would love to know a reputable one if you have a recommendation. I am so sorry to you and all the industry again for all that is happening. Bad things happen when you stay silent– we saw abuse and gave way to fear and approval of men instead of doing what’s right period. I consider my husband amazing for enduring abuse and waiting for me and my boys to come to our senses… We saw others quit cold and their families torn apart. I’m just so thankful and grateful and ready and willing to help others in whatever way I can.

  • Michelle lazurek says:

    I want to provide a bit of the other side of the story. I published my first book with wine press ( whom you lovingly refer to as a sucker ) in 2011. It was the only option available to me at the time since newbie authors can’t get pub contracts with traditional pubs as easily. Although I must admit I was not as pleased with the results as I would have liked and the price was more then what I received, they did deliver as they promised. I have not published with them since they time and had heard rumors of the animosity between the company and Athena dean. I have read all the blogs and disparaging comments about Athena. I know there are two sides to every story and preferred not to make any judgments as I didn’t know the whole story. Do I agree with what they have written? Of course not. Scripture is clear ; we are to pray for our persecutors not drag their names in the mud. I also met Carla personally a couple of times and she was nothing but kind.
    However, I received an email yesterday from Athena saying she had all of wine press author files and is beginning her own company, redemption press. She is charging wine press authors who are in the process of publishing their books a $400 fee for files that are ours and we bought outright!!! She mentions she never dreamed of getting into publishing yet only after two weeks of announcing their closure, she can pull an entire team for her company together and open it this past Monday? She knew this was coming and is preying on their hard times like a cat on a wounded bird. I also find it odd that she would have my files considering she no longer works there. Why she is charging people for their files I have no idea.
    Not for nothing, but despite their animosity, Tim just lost his wife. Can’t Athena put down her sword and wait a little before she goes for the jugular? I think what she is doing is despicable and to me, confirmed every word that Tim wrote about her. I sent her an email telling her my thoughts and said I expect her to return my author files that I paid for to me free of charge. That was over twenty four hours ago. I have heard nothing ( what a shock). I just wanted to set the record straight and make sure Athena does not cone out smelling like a rose. I received an email today from wine press saying she has stolen our files, credit card info and ss numbers.
    I don’t agree with either side, but in my mind, they are equally to blame.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Hi Michelle — Thanks for sharing your story. I didn’t know Athena Dean was starting a self-publishing company again — an interesting choice. But she has the author files? Really? Um… Okay, I”ll ask her how that happened. If she really has them, then you raise an interesting point about her returning those files, if she has the right to do so. That said, I must disagree with you strongly on one point: The notion that Athena starting a new company “confirms every word Tim wrote about her” is completely wrong. Spend some time looking over the websites these people created… can you imagine how YOU would respond if someone had done that to you? They’ve made wild allegations, gone after her, and tried to ruin her. I don’t see how her starting a company, whether you find it inappropriate or not, confirms any of the crap Pastor Tim has said about her. It’s easy to say, “They’re both to blame,” but that doesn’t make it correct, nor is your personal experience normative for everyone.

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      Chip, you can be assured that Athena obtained the author files legally, ethically, and through the proper channels.

    • Karen Allen says:

      Glad to hear from you, Kevin. And glad to see you and your wife will be working with Athena.

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      Karen, it’s so good to be able to have you as a friend again! I always enjoyed working with you. 🙂

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Michelle, I am one person who does not agree with the line, “There are always two sides to a story.” Maybe, sometimes it could be true. But there are situation when the side causing the pain, loss, and acting out of fraudulence is clear.

      I stayed among them at their homes quite a few times, I saw emotional and verbal abuse being inflicted on WP employees. They lived in fear. They were not allowed to leave Enumclaw. Only a few could have a driver’s license. There was all kinds of abuse I witnessed when I finally realized something was terribly wrong.

      Then they tried to ‘convert’ me and when I bucked at that, they made my life hell. Michelle, I have had a heart transplant, have several cancers, gone through 25 heart attacks, 39 angioplasties, and two years ago became the first person in the world to survive a pancreas transplant years after a heart transplant.

      It was right after my pancreas transplant, only two months, that they bludgeoned me with if you go against us we will ‘destroy you.’ The stress they caused me, the thousands in lawyer fees, the effect on my marriage, and the actual reduction in my life span they caused is criminal.

      I knew Carla well and am sorry for her suffering. But her death is being blamed on Athena and I mostly for our words. And she did pass away–sadly but it doesn’t mean Tim Williams can go ahead with his lies and bullying because of his loss. He never once cared about the abuse dished out to me–an innocent sucker!

      Athena was tortured as the members of this cult.

      I am one that was also smeared by lies and accusations that are provably false. Did you see my pics posted above of the fantasia lies they spread about me? It’s only a piece of the campaign against me. They sent ‘fake’ lawsuit papers to my home.

      It goes on and on. If you were to interview former employees and former cult members willing to talk to you, they’d reveal worse abuse.

      There are not always two sides of a story.

    • James Owens says:

      Michelle, there is so much I want to say in response to your message.

      First, thank you. Thank you for speaking your mind and not being afraid of retribution. You are a very observant and brave person.

      Second, people will attack what you write because there are two groups of people who strongly believe different things.

      Third, from experience, if you continue speaking the truth and sticking up for the innocent, whomever they may be, you will be attacked personally. This happened to me when I stood up to Athena saying Timothy purposely killed his wife to get insurance money. You can see my blog about that HERE.

      Finally, never be afraid to speak your mind.

      Again, thank you. Athena has destroyed my brother and aunt’s livelihood by turning an entire town, state, and country against them.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Um… James. This is bullshit, and you know it. Nobody is “attacking” Michelle. (Ask her. She and I have had several very nice email exchanges.) And I have investigated this thoroughly, and have never found one bit of evidence to suggest Athena Dean accused Tim Williams of killing his wife to get insurance money. That’s not just a red herring, it would seem to be a scurrilous accusation, and another instance of your group using Carla’s death for political purposes. But as for Athena destroying your brother’s livelihood… that’s a bit like saying the police ruined Malcolm Fraser’s life when they sent him to prison for raping a child. Sometimes our actions create lousy results.

      So yeah, I’m sure Tim’s life is harder now that he’s no longer getting a monthly check from Winepress, but I notice you said nothing about the dozens of people who are claiming they paid thousands to Winepress and got no books, or the people who have left the church, claiming it was a controlling, separatistic cult, and whose lives were damaged because of it. You don’t seem nearly as concerned with their situations.

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      Hi Michelle, Athena isn’t charging anything for author to get their files back–WinePress is. Athena = free; Tim/WinePress = $$$. It’s that simple.

      Having been in that company/church for 12 years, I can assure you Tim/WinePress is 100% to blame; Athena’s just being a normal human being. Tim did in fact undermine Athena and take WinePress from her. I was there and watched it happen.

      You may be surprised that all the people defending Tim do so with the best of intentions. Why you ask? Good questions. It’s because Tim gives his employees one story, but the truth is drastically different. They blindly defend him because they trust him–not because the have all the facts.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Hmmm… Okay, Kevin. You worked for WinePress? And you saw this happen? Let me ask you the obvious question: Why didn’t you take steps to stop it? Or defend her? Or say something until now? (I’m really not being argumentative — I’d like to know your answer.)

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      I was still drinking the Kool-aid when Tim began taking WinePress from Athena and didn’t see it as a bad thing. Sad to say, but that’s why I didn’t do anything at the time.

      Interestingly enough, for nearly 6 months after WP changed hands, hardly anyone at WinePress knew about it. The actual transaction was kept very private. Still, when we found out, we weren’t surprised. Tim had expressed his desire to have WP on multiple occasions. In order to do that, he beat Athena down for years–publicly–and convinced all of us that she was a horrible boss. He used real examples, slightly twisting them, to “prove” he was right. He had us all convinced! But we were only given his side of the story. Athena was not able to defend herself. Tim set it up that way.

      What I witnessed after the transaction was disturbing. Athena was bullied into signing documents “proving” various things. She was also bullied into “confessing” her greed and wanting to pin the taxes on WP. But then, after Athena left one of these meetings, I very gingerly defended her point, was promptly removed from the committee, and was replaced by my wife (do you see how he put a small division between me and my wife? Many small cracks will breach a dam). While I was being rebuked for defending Athena, I was accused of being just like Athena (meant as an insult).

      A few days later, I had a mental breakdown. Timothy did and said a number of things to my wife and kids to create strife between them and me. More division–a foundation he was building for use later on.

      The next two and a half years was a process of gaining personal strength, processing everything that was going on, and safeguarding my family from Tim as much as I could without giving away my intentions.

      The last year was especially difficult for me because I was at a crossroads–not wanting to do or speak against any ex-member, yet my family was still there.

      Why now? Because of my family. Until October, they were too weak and I would have lost my wife and children to Tim…possibly for good. But once they saw Tim for the greedy, arrogant man he is, we were gone. I could never leave without them.

      Writing on this blog is not my first action against SD/WP. Within 2 days of me leaving WP, I got busy helping Athena’s cause. I owe her my service for the part I played in WinePress’ takeover.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Wow. Thanks for sharing your story, Kevin. That’s brave — and no doubt painful. I appreciate you becoming part of the conversation.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Actually kevin, according to the email authors like myself received wine press is not charging anything to return the files. Just wanted to set the record straight on that. Also Athena never says she is returning the files for free in her original email. I see her tune has changed now, but as of 48 hours ago that was the case.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Her original email says nothing about returning them for free. Why doesn’t it if that was her intention?

    • Kevin Cochran says:

      Hi Michelle, it was always Athena’s agenda to help authors get what belongs to them without charging them. This has been consistent from the time Athena decided to start Redemption Press.

      Athena’s not interested in your money, but she’s interested in helping the orphaned authors. If you’re interested in having your files, she’s your best point of contact.

    • Athena Dean says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I am so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this…and I am even sorrier I was duped into giving over the leadership of WP to these people and how the fallout has affected so many authors I know and love.

      I’m not sure where you got the idea that I’m charging $400 to return author files. We are returning author files, and would be happy to return yours, for FREE.

      If you would like us to issue you a new ISBN, revise the text and cover files with the new ISBN and logo, upload to the printer and get back into distribution, the cost is $391, which we are happy to give you a full breakdown on.

      I hope this helps you understand a little better, and I will put your name on the list of authors who simply want their files.


    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Where in your original email do you state you returning them for free?

    • Athena Dean says:

      Thanks for asking that question, Michelle…I just re-read the email, and you are right…that wasn’t in the original one! We decided up front to offer the files for free to anyone who wants to go elsewhere…and since I’ve said that multiple times on the private FB group for WinePress authors, I can only say I must have thought I said it in the email. My mistake! Sorry for creating confusion, Michelle. That was not my intent.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Okay, fair enough. Thanks for coming on and clarifying, Athena.

  • It is so ironic that my memoir I published through WinePress is a true love story about deception and God’s grace and forgiveness. Little did I know in 2009 what additional deception was to become a part of this story. However, I’m fortunate in that WinePress did fulfill all the requirements of their contract in producing the book (not saying it was cheap…). Working on getting books out of the warehouse now. As a direct result of this terrible news about WinePress, some unexpected book interview and book signings have materialized–God is always moving, always working on our behalf. Blessings.

    • Sarah says:

      I find it ironic that my book is, in part, about surviving a childhood rape when, in fact, I was frequently speaking with a convicted child rapist and he is the one who actually approved my book for publishing!
      “Innocence Stolen, Hope Restored: A Troubled Teen’s Journey From Brokenness to Redemption”

    • Oh my, so sorry to hear of that much worse irony. I pray God will bring peace in the midst of this storm…

    • Sarah says:

      I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to one-up you. I read your memoir and your story is amazing! Thank you for writing it.

    • I didn’t take it that way either. Thank you for the original response and thank you for reading my memoir…and so quickly… 😉 Blessings!

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Geez. Sarah, I’m sorry. Really. I’m sorry you had to stand with The Evil Troll. What ugliness. Hang in there.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you. I’m really amused that you call him “The Evil Troll”. I get a kick out of that every time I read it. 🙂

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      Oh wow, Sarah, my son designed your book cover. He is a young college student and worked for them from home. He hardly ever got paid and when he resigned, professionally, they never paid him for jobs he finished. They also wrote him emails letting him know, “We expect loyalty from our employees so you should reconsider resigning.” “Your mother is a conspirator so you should leave home.” And the one that made me, his mom, very agitated; “It would be safer for you if you did not resign.”

      Slimy people. Glad the truth is out.

    • Sarah says:

      Wow! Well, I’m very pleased with the final cover design. He did a great job. Sorry for what you all have gone through with them.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      I know I’m his mom, but he’s so talented. Wish he could get a design job!

  • Lindamaeb says:

    wow…truth is crazier, more dangerous and uglier than fiction….thanks for shedding the light….

  • Ana says:

    Well, it just got weirder. Here is a copy of the e-mail they sent in bulk to their authors. Note at the very top where it says “WinePress Publishing is not out of business…”. That is completely contrary to their original statement on their website, and the current statement that is still on the website! Who ARE these people?!

    “WinePress Publishing is not out of business . . .
    View this email in your browser
    Ignore Bulk Email
    Greetings WinePress Publishing Authors,

    The email you received from Ms. Dean is misleading and was NOT authorized by WinePress Publishing. Please note that Ms. Dean not only has stolen your publishing files from our company, but also your credit card information, social security number, and has access to all of your personal correspondence with WinePress Publishing on the Co-Captain.

    For your safety, any bulk emails sent out by WinePress Publishing will be verified by an announcement on our website, as well as by email.

    WinePress Publishing is in a state of flux right now, so please keep checking by our website for more information and our preferred publisher.

    Again, disregard the unauthorized email you received from Ms. Dean.

    Thank you,
    The WinePress Publishing Team

    P.S. Keep watching your email for more information to come. Copyright © 2014 | WinePress Publishing , All rights reserved.

    Our mailing address is:
    PO Box 428
    Enumclaw, WA 98022”

    • Ana says:

      Please, if anyone who sees this is an attorney or knows an attorney who can help, we, the authors, would be immensely appreciative. We are between a rock and a hard place with WP keeping us in the lurch and changing their mind every other day. This is the THIRD time they have changed their website, as well as the publisher they are “endorsing”. I don’t know why they think anyone in their right mind would trust anything they have to say at this point. Especially considering that most of us found out about the closing BY ACCIDENT! Yes, they did NOT inform a single author of the closing! This was the FIRST e-mail I have rec’d from them, aside from the automated reply to my request for my files and royalties.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Um… when was this sent, Ana? Because their website says they’re out of business. They’ve turned over authors to Deep River Books, another vanity press located here in the Pacific Northwest, and the notice on the Deep River page says that Winepress has no money to pay authors or vendors. Just wondering if this was sent a while back, before they shut down.

    • Ana says:

      No, this was sent just a few hours ago! That’s why I said it just got weirder!

    • Ana – would you like to be in touch?

  • Peggotty says:

    I’m very grateful now that I never considered them an option.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yeah, you and me both, Peggotty. I once talked with them about having my son do some editorial work for them. Yikes.

  • Don Bly says:

    I met Athena Dean about 12 years ago and found her to be a woman of faith and integrity and I had that opinion of WinePress as well. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago I recommended it to a friend who was looking to publish a book. Needless to say, I was stunned to learn later what was going on behind the scenes. I am so glad to know that Athena is free from the chains that once bound her to a business that she helped start. I will say that I was a bit disappointed…but not really surprised….when I read that WinePress was directing authors to amazon’s “Create Space” program if they were looking to republish instead of another Christian vainity press like Evergreen or Xulon.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Let me just reiterate something… Athena and I aren’t really friends. We know each other a bit, having spoken at a few conferences together — but that was usually when she was there representing Winepress Publishing. I didn’t share these posts in order to defend a good friend. I did it because they came after me (which, in retrospect, was probably stupid of them… maybe some day that light will go on in Pastor Tim’s brain). My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that Athena may very well feel she did some less-than-stellar things while working for Winepress. I don’t know, but I’ll ask her. I’ve spent my life in publishing, and hate to hear about authors being cheated by anyone. But, like you, I’m glad authors are being steered toward someplace like CreateSpace, which will give an author a fair deal. Nice of you to comment, Don.

  • Carolyn Stanford Goss says:

    Expect harassment from the Jim Jones wannabe and his hoodwinked sycophants. Actually, attacks would be badges of honor for truth-telling. I’ve kept quiet for a long time because WP owes a lot of money, which I now believe they knew all along they wouldn’t pay. Time to take off my “Kick me” sign and call a con a con and a shyster a shyster.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      You know, I”m really glad you came on the site to say something, Carolyn. I’d heard that Winepress owed GoodEditors (and other editorial companies) money. I’m sorry you got taken. Of course, taking services and not paying for them is fraud, which is illegal…

    • Carolyn Goss says:

      If you’re a former WP author, you may have received a letter from the “Wine Press Publishing Team” virtually ordering you to have no contact with Athena Dean. What publishing team? The one that has left its authors in limbo? The one that does not now exist? The audacity of this letter is breathtaking. And of course, it is anonymous….because coming out of the shadows takes courage, honesty, and transparency.

  • Shawn Kuhn says:

    The self-publishing industry needs a voluntary entity like the ECFA to set standards and allow potential clients to know that a company is reputable. Any self-publisher that puts a $9.95 PSR on a 60 page unedited “pamphlet” book (saw one last week from a major “Christian” Publisher’s self-publishing imprint) or a $18.99 PSR trade paper fiction title (see this often from one of the largest “Christian” self-publishers who calculate PSR and royalties based on page counts) and then offer distribution into the trade borders on dishonest. The average published book sells 1000 copies, why would any company push an author without an established speaking platform to print 3000 to 5000 copies at $7.50 ea. We have authors come to us and we must tell them reluctantly that despite what their publisher told and sold them, they do not have a marketable product. I could go on and on. Authors, Caveat Emptor.

    Chip, your color commentary throughout this saga has been some of my most entertaining and informative blog engagement over these last couple years.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks very much, Shawn. And I agree — there’s been talk on a self-publishing watchdog organization, and of a self-publishing association that would oversee its own membership. Hasn’t really happened yet, and I’m not sure it will, but it’s an idea with merit. Appreciate your words.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Wait a minute… isn’t that what ECPA was supposed to be doing, Shawn? I believe Winepress was a member. Hmmm…

  • There’s nothing worse than a betrayal like this in the church. It is all too rampant that people use Scripture to commit their evil. They must not really believe in God or they would understand the consequences — granted, that’s for Him to say and not me. I do appreciate your posting the truth though. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against this kind of wrath. But as Christians, we must do it more often.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      It’s really nice to see a successful, experienced writer like you come on and comment, Kristin. Thanks for your words — I appreciate them.

  • Patricia Zell says:

    Prayers for all involved–prayers that God will replace deception with the reality of His absolute love, that God will richly bless each and every person involved, and that God will work all things together for the good of everyone involved. God is impartial and He is faithful.

  • Annette Reeder says:

    Thank you for sharing this info a couple years ago. I was able to pull my books and now I make 50% more money and they sell very well. All thanks to you and Athena.

    • Elizabeth says:

      What company are you with now? I’m looking into Athena’s new company, Redemption Press, but want to keep my options open for the time being.

    • Annette Reeder says:

      I started my own – it was easier than I thought. I print the books at Lightingsource which is the same company Wine Press used so I still get the great product I had. All I had to do was set up an account with them and then work with an editor to make the books able to be uploaded. Here is my website:
      I was also able to keep the cover designs. I had 3 books with WP.

    • Michelle lazurek says:

      Don’t! Why would we go with any publishing company when you can publish on amazon’ s createspace for free???

    • kathleen sawyer says:

      I also was burned by WP. I drove to Enemclaw when I first signed on and from the start there were problems. How sad an excited new author (me and MANY others) gets taken for thousands of dollars wanting to believe their lies because we want our books out there. This is very hard because I met Athena and I believed the things she told me back at that time. So now what do we do? Who do we believe? I’m getting calls from other authors I’ve met from WP.asking what do we do? This isn’t eternal but it’s VERY heart breaking. Another story of how brothers and sisters in Christ try to destroy each other. Like the title of my book says “The Day Sad Arrived” What a shame this all is. Lord please shine your light on ALL this mess.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Kathleen. Fortunately, as many have said in the comments section, you now have a variety of options to choose from. I encourage you to talk with some of the other authors and check into some of the choices out there.

  • WorshipHim says:

    It is closing time, indeed, Pastor Tim. Reminds me of “Burger Meister Meister Burgers” photo on the wall falling to the ground at the end of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. No one will remember you.

  • Karen Allen says:

    A winepress squeezes and collects all the juice from its source. Good description of what has happened. Thank you, Chip, for telling this sad and revealing story. I shall anticipate its continuation as folks on the opposite spectrums are redeemed and others are held accountable. I believe that in the process families will be reunited, eyes will be opened, lessons will be learned, and best of all, God will be magnified. As one of the many “orphaned authors,” I applaud your perseverance and unwillingness to be intimidated. (I was stunned by your comment that spurred WP’s response.)

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yeah, that first comment was nothing. If they hadn’t responded, I don’t know that any of this will happen. It’s not that I’m so wonderful, but I do have a big mouth — and why pick on the guy with a big mouth? He’ll just tell everybody.

    • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

      I like people with big mouths. 8^)

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for writing this article. I am one of the authors who got caught up in all of this. Sadly, when I did my reseach on the company (mid-2011), none of this negative stuff came up. I, along with many other authors, know that there has been some fraud and theft as far as our royalties go. It’s an awful situation for myself and the other authors, as we keep hitting dead ends on any possible recourse. There was one elderly lady who put up $17,000 just this past fall! It’s flat out theft, yet there seem to be nothing any of us can do about it. 🙁 From what I’ve read and seen, I think this guy Tim has a sort of god-complex and thinks he’s untouchable. Time will tell if he remains as untouchable as he thinks he is.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yes, I think the last chapter on Winepress could still be written, but if it is, it’ll be via the courts, Elizabeth. I’ve heard a bunch of people make this same complaint — “I paid money and didn’t get my books.” Once can be a business error. A bunch of times, and it’s potentially fraud. Will be interesting to see what those who feel they were bilked out of money will do.

  • Karen Dial says:

    Hi Chip. I like the way you try to keep the industry you love in check. Most people just don’t care enough to challenge ANY authority or can’t muster the courage. Keep speaking up for integrity. Continue your role as WATCHMAN.

  • Leah Adams says:

    I considered Winepress in 2009 prior to publishing my Legacy Bible study. In my convos with Athena, I had a check in my spirit. Thus, I went with a different self-publishing company. So thankful for that spirit check. My heart, however, is broken for my friend, Elaine, and others who were taken in by these cons and shysters. I don’t consider Elaine and others to be ‘suckers’…just people who were tricked and deceived. I pray God will redeem these injustices for Elaine and all the others.

    • A beautiful grace to my heart this morning …

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Leah. The use of the terms “suckers” was not intended as a slam on the clients, but as to how they were being viewed by the company. Please forgive me if that offends — not my intent to slam those folks who were taken in by Winepress Publishing.

    • Leah Adams says:

      I understand. It is hard to convey emotion and full intent via electronic media. I’ve been very guilty of saying something that unintentionally offended folks on email or a blog post. No offense taken. Blessings to you.

  • Timothy Fish says:

    Ultimately, we’ve got to be able to read and understand the Bible ourselves or we risk being taken in by people teaching false doctrine. But I know another preacher who used Wine Press to publish his book and I think how different the story would’ve been if Athena Dean had read his book and listened to him instead of the other guy.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Okay…. My criticism, at least in this discussion, is not over their theology, of course. It’s over the business side. I’ve heard from dozens of former clients of theirs, and it was nearly all bad, Timothy. I understand what you’re saying, and I respect it, but an exploration of their theology (including the winning concept of Hating for Jesus”) or their exclusive practices is a discussion for another blog.

    • Altosackbuteer says:

      “Hating for Jesus” — that sounds like “pr0stituti0n for chastity.”

  • Cindy Valenti Scinto says:

    Ugh … they got me alright. And after publishing two books with them and working for them part time, they tried to ‘convert’ me. It didn’t go well. So when I also started to speak up against them, I was forced to hire a lawyer and it cost me $3,000 and much stress. They promised to ‘destroy’ me. But I fought and have my books. Still, they’ve kept all my royalties for three years and I know books have sold. I hear from people who bought them. Sigh. But here’s to a new opportunity. Thanks, Chip. And thanks to Athena for conquering all the emotional and spiritual pain and making it through this.

    Oh and I couldn’t resist adding these pics. One is the guy I supposedly got to kill one of their employees. I’m almost as powerful as Athena.

    Also, Chip, don’t forget that you’re in the group with Athena and I–coconspirator. Let it be said–let it be known. 8^)

    • Sue Falcone says:

      Chip thanks for having “The Last Word on WinePress Publishing!” I was able to let go and take my losses last year for my book, fitfully titled The Lighthouse of Hope! That was hard knowing they were still making money from it, that I would never see, and since I had taken from my 401k to originally finance it, there would be no replacement. But God is good, and I learned these great lessons:
      1. My book is still being read by those that need to hear the message whether I get anything out of it or not, that is what God wanted all along. 2. I was also able to see how Athena and others could get caught in the trap of deception as we all can! Forgiveness is freedom for all, and I was able to do that.
      3. Through this financial experience, my husband and I learned how to be wise and ask the right questions and make sure we had the best counsel. By doing so we are now debt-free both in our personal and business finances, and helping others do the same.
      4. I was able to contract with a local small publishing company, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and revise my book and release it on Amazon as an eBook so it can still be read and I receive proper accounting and support from this company.
      I am blessed, and pray for those that still need to take action as to what to do at this time. God will show you that it is possible to move on, and be at peace no matter the situation. Thanks Chip for all you do for so many, and for your wise counsel to our industry.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Appreciate your words, Sue. And everyone should hear what Sue is saying here — she might have been screwed, but her message still got out. God still can use bad things for good. An excellent point (especially when you could argue he’s using ME). Thanks for making it.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      It’s nice to hear from you, Cindy. For those who don’t know, Cindy Scinto is one of the people the Winepress Wackos came after. She has her own very interesting (it’s fair to say “chilling”) story. Appreciate you coming onto the blog.

  • B. Newel says:

    Here here! Well written. I am so thankful you have the hutzpah to write the truth about this carnivorous leader. Thanks Chip.

  • Mirta Ana Schultz says:

    This is where I wish the FAther sent out a lot more of those avenging angels with flaming swords and destruction mojo to just wipe out the cultic tyrants and nutjobs giving the rest of the Body grief and a bad name. Sigh.

  • Somehow being called a “sucker” tonight is like pouring salt in a very deep wound right now, but I am grateful for the truth.

  • Dan Holmes says:

    Athena Dean is launching a new publishing company and offering significant discounts to former WinePress clients. Hopefully, she will be able to reprise her role…sans cultleaders.

    • Jody Moreen says:

      Thank you Chip for your most excellent article shedding the light on what many authors, employees of WP, church members and customers have regrettably discovered too late. I compiled a book with WinePress in 2005 after meeting WinePress staff for several years at a longstanding reputable Christian Writer’s Conference at the Billy Graham Center. Athena Dean was a workshop presenter and was an excellent teacher, wise, upfront, gracious and respected by professionals and peers. Carla Williams was also a good instructor, gracious and respected. WP put their best upfront. There were certainly no red flags regarding WinePress at those conferences. Ms Dean has been through the crucible and back by a cunning and brainwashing “pastor” employee who through forceful manipulation, spiritual abuse, and shame tactics took over the company. Ms Dean took some much needed time away to recover from the nightmare she had been through and had the courage to blog about her experience while bullies defamed her. I truly hope the scales will fall off the eyes of many who refused to believe her.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I have to admit that I don’t know Athena Dean all that well. We’re friendly, have seen each other once a year at a conference maybe. She has certainly sent me encouraging notes after I blogged about the crappy situation at Winepress. But I know she’s really been through a tough situation, and even a cursory look at the church websites will reveal they’ve gone after her in a big way. I’d hate being attacked like that. Doubtless it’s been a hard time for her, and I”m sorry about it. Let’s hope that, with the closing of Winepress, things get easier for her. I have a lot of respect for what Athena has gone through and how she’s handled it.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I did not know that, Dan. That’s interesting. A self-publishing company?

    • Athena Dean says:

      Hey Chip…thanks for the kind words. You’ve always been an encouragement to me. It’s actually pretty amazing at what God has worked over the last 3 weeks…miraculous to say the least…I’m back in Washington and just launched Redemption Press ( to help the orphaned authors and also develop a new model that puts the author in charge. I’m actually going to tell the whole story of how this came to be on my radio show this Saturday, 11AM CST on AM630 KSLR or streaming live on I’ll also post a podcast after the show on

  • Sue Miholer says:

    Now could you tell us how you really feel, Chip? This mess isn’t over by any means. Another opportunity for non-believers to point their fingers at all things “Christian.”

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I don’t know if it’s over or not, Sue. I just know that the doors are closed and their website says they’re out of business, and is directing them to Createspace. And to me, having people not get burned is a positive step.

    • Iola Goulton says:

      Their website is now directing people to Deep River, another vanity press. Any thoughts on that?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I talked to the folks at Deep River. They have no connection to WinePress, and didn’t even know the people at WinePress were going to put their info on the website. Bill Carmichael is a good guy, in my opinion.

    • If Winepress’s management are acting in a Christian manner, Christianity is not at all like I have been lead to believe.

      “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil” John 3:8

  • dukeslee says:

    What a horrible deception — no doubt impacting many authors out there. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Thank you for refusing to be bullied, Chip, and for dragging this mess into the light.

  • Linda Kozar says:

    They certainly reaped what they sowed. Good riddance to them. Sorry to hear all the misery they put others through however–especially Athena Dean.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I’ve been hearing from a bunch of folks, Linda. I think there are a lot of unhappy authors out there. Good riddance indeed.

  • I am one of the Winpress Authors who did not get what WP promised. I gave my book “Coming to America: A Journey of Faith to Winepress in 2010 and told them I was interested in offset printing. I paid for the services and was expecting for 2500 books that have not been delivered. Winepress pulled the plug without warning and all the royalties from the sales of my e-books have not been paid.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Ugh. I’m so sorry, Eric. What a crummy situation to have happen.

    • Amira says:

      I also paid much money….but did not receive the services. But it was Athena Dean that signed me on. So I am very confused…considering that she sold the company and didn’t inform any of us etc. I had no way of knowing about any of this. I live outside of US. I was surprised when suddenly yesterday (Jan 28th/2014) received an e-mail from Athena saying that since Winepress closed, that she would like to help the authors etc. Not sure who to believe and what to do.

    • Kathy from San Antonio says:

      Read Athena’s story. If you cannot access it, please ask her for it. She was under the control of these evil people. I met Athena in San Antonio a couple of years ago, after all of this had happened. I was with her when she got the phone call about Malcolm Fraser being sentenced to prison. I saw her reaction. She is a genuine, God-loving person. She started a radio program here is San Antonio called Always Faithful. If you need any character references for her, just ask. She will be happy to give them to you. I have seen and heard the amazing journey Athena has been taking. I know about the doors God has opened for her. Doors she didn’t even know were there. Athena had emergency surgery a few weeks ago. During her recovery, God began throwing the shudders open and Redemption Press was born. Only God can act that quickly and pull everything together like that. Athena is the real deal. Doing business with her will bless you.

    • Altosackbuteer says:

      I just sent this email to Chip MacGregor and I send it to you:

      I am now in the beginning stages of considering working with Athena Dean Holtz to publish my book. I knew nothing about her until just a couple of days ago.

      I have looked at the attacks on her, and i find them spurious.

      But — I don’t know.

      I sent this to MacGregor:

      I am considering having Miss Athena publish my own book. But I am far
      from certain whether I should deal with her or not. What do you think?


      I ask you the same thing.

      Thank you.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      The fact is, Amira, I’d write directly to Athena about that. I’m serious — my guess is she’ll be willing to talk about your situation and try to move toward some sort of resolution. Again, Athena and I are not close friends, but since she left the group, she’s been working to make amends and has been very accommodating. I’m sorry you went through this.

    • Altosackbuteer says:

      I am considering having Miss Athena publish my own book. But I am far from certain whether I should deal with her or not. What do you think?

  • Barb Boswell says:

    You are RIGHT ON! I drove up there and pulled all copies of my book, which of course, put it out of print. Five minutes down the road, I received a harassing call from The Evil Troll. They kept a close eye on me when I was in the process of getting my book in print. I asked too many questions.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Interesting, Barb. I appreciate you coming on to share your story. Thanks!

    • Bobbie Rodriguez says:

      I work for Xulon press Christian Publishing. We are owned by Salem Communications. may Wine Press authors have come to us to keep their books from going ” Out Of Print’ We have been very happy to give these authors VERY deep discounts on our publishing packages. Feel free to call me ay 407-949-3048. God Bless!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.