I don’t blog. Not usually. Mostly because I’m too busy writing, but also because I’m not sure why anyone would want to listen to me rambling.
Anyway, I’m here.
Given what’s happened over the last couple of days within the sapphic community (see Jae’s blog post), I’ve decided it’s time to explain the whole Maggie Robbins situation from last year. The plan had always been to let it go. She paid back the money (and got away with fraud) so I chose to move on with my life and push her as far back in my mind as I possibly could.
So, you’re all probably thinking… ‘Why now’?
It’s a very good question.
Today I received one huge gut punch when someone contacted me to tell me that Claire Szewcyzk (Magnolia Robbins) was publishing again. I said I knew because I was aware of some writing for blogs that she had done. This morning, for some reason, I decided to search for her name. Imagine my surprise when I found out that she was writing for a popular mindfulness magazine. Not even an hour later, BAM! I receive news that she’s publishing BOOKS again. That was a shock. The reason for that shock? Because she has her face all over Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and her new website. She isn’t even trying to hide who she is.
Whatever. I always knew she’d surface again.
But to be so brazen when I hadn’t received an apology for being dragged into her ALMIGHTY mess? No genuine answers since she continued to lie to me right up until she deactivated her social media…no. That’s not good enough for me. And it shouldn’t be good enough for anyone else either.
So, here we are…
Before late 2021, we’d chatted on and off. Mostly about publishing, book covers, marketing, etc. She seemed lovely, and she always came across as supportive. Then back in September 2021 while I was sunning myself on a beach in Portugal, I received a DM on Twitter from Magnolia Robbins. I’d reached out to her a few weeks before to ask how she was after reading about some pretty terrible migraines she’d been having issues with. That DM was the start of what was to come. Maggie explained that she’d been very unwell and had been diagnosed with something called VHL (Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome). She had tumours in several areas of her body, some even pressing on her spine. These tumours were the cause of her migraines, and she told me how they would eventually become quite debilitating. That she was at a very high risk of developing diabetes, and there was a good probability she would eventually lose her sight.
I was horrified when I came off Twitter and sat down to explain it all to my fiancée. I’d never felt so saddened by an unexpected outcome for someone else’s health. Maggie was my friend, and I couldn’t imagine how she was feeling. She went off the radar for a while, rightfully so, and I checked in with her now and then to let her know I was thinking of her. That I was around if she ever needed to chat or offload.
Fast forward to February 2022. Oh, boy. What a time that was.
Maggie’s Twitter account became more active than it had been. She had come out to tell people about her diagnosis, and what her future likely held, only there were additional issues added at this point. She had a pancreatic tumour. One that had been diagnosed as terminal.
I was devastated, as were a lot of other people within the community. Authors, readers, friends. I had a few people reach out to me about a GoFundMe, and I decided to run it by Maggie in private. She agreed that it would really help with her medical bills. She told us she was looking into clinical trials (another author had conversations with her about getting her onto one), but that she was in and out of the hospital quite a lot and it was impossible to pay her bills. Then came the news that she had lost her sight in one of her eyes. Again, devastation.
It was a lot of information that was coming in thick and fast. I didn’t have a minute to check on anything, but then again, why would I think to? Magnolia Robbins was a #1 bestselling author of sapphic romance. It didn’t occur to me for even a second that she could lie about anything she had told me at this point.
Then came that dreaded tweet.
The tweet that told everyone Maggie had suffered several episodes of arrhythmias and had to be resuscitated. The tweet ended by letting everyone know that she was unresponsive. Updates to follow.
I called another author who had been a friend to Maggie over those same months. She lived close by so I told her to come to my house and we would drink tea and wait for any news. We couldn’t believe it. Everything happened so suddenly.
Then, to our astonishment, Maggie had gone from being unresponsive after resuscitation…to tweeting her readers! We were confused, but absolutely thrilled. And then the doubt started to set in. Although, from the initial tweet about her episodes, something had started to feel off for me. I just didn’t want to say that out loud because I had to be wrong. Nobody would lie about that kind of thing. Would they?
We drank our tea, and then it just came out of my mouth. “You don’t think this is a lie, do you?”
That night, I decided to start digging. I didn’t know where I was looking or what I was looking for, until I remembered I had an email from her, sent from her personal account…Claire Szewcyzk. First I looked on Facebook. And yeah, there she was. With the dog she always posted about with her fiancée. I won’t name her fiancée and you’ll understand why as I go on.
So, there she is. Her profile picture and a few other visible images. Her most recent profile picture update had been just a few days before. She didn’t look ill. In fact, she looked bloody radiant. I assumed it was probably an old picture…and continued to dig. I found several posts from her to open groups that I could view. One or two about computer coding. She was looking for work in that area of expertise. Then I found one about the sale of her home. A HOME SHE LIVED IN WITH HER HUSBAND. They were planning to sell up and move state because they felt like a change. No mention of any illness…or fiancée.
At this point, I knew something wasn’t right. I decided to pay for a background check on Claire. What I found was quite shocking.
· Claire had initially told several lesfic authors that she had once been married and had fled the home due to an abusive husband. When someone questioned an image they had found of Claire and some guy, she said it was her brother. WRONG. It’s her husband. I know this because I found him online too and he has the very same pictures of the very same dog Claire supposedly shared with her fiancée. He is also on the documents to their home and labelled as her husband. I dug deeper and found several other professional images of them. They look very happy together.
· I then realised that all traces of her fiancée had disappeared from online. She used to post often about them, upload professional pictures of them, and talk about how happy they were. Then it dawned on us that if we wanted an update on her condition, we had NOBODY we could contact. Other than one another, NOBODY. She had asked another author to let everyone know if something happened to her, because her fiancée would be in touch to let her know when the time came. Only, that author was never given any contact information from Maggie. So, we had to rely on her fiancée reaching out. Guess what? That never happened.
· I found out (when she was no longer unresponsive) that Maggie had dragged another friend from online into it. They had a huge presence on Twitter, and they were so worried about her that they were willing to jump on a flight to be with her. Once I told them what I’d found, things started to no longer add up. In a huge way.
· After the unresponsive tweet, I reached out to Maggie. She told me she was doing better, that she was in a hospital in Florida, and that she would be in touch when she was in the right frame of mind. Another author who lives in Florida (and who I had relayed my suspicions to) called all of the hospitals. No sign of her under her author name, her married name, or her maiden name. We didn’t want information. We just wanted to know if she had been admitted. Every hospital said there was no record of her. When I questioned that, Maggie told me she had specifically told the hospital not to give any information about her to anyone. Because her estranged mother would try to find her. Only she had told other people her mother had passed away. Along with most of her family. Hmm. Almost sounds like a novel, doesn’t it?
· Once she became suspicious of my questioning, she uploaded a video to Twitter showing her in a hospital gown, wearing a mask, with ECG/EKG stickers on her. I asked a very well-respected doctor in the US what they thought of it, and it was quite clear that she was in the ER, not a bed she had supposedly been in for days since she was admitted. Our thinking is that Maggie knew the game was up, so she walked into the ER and told them she had chest pains and difficulty breathing. Hence the mask, gown, and EKG patches.
· I then asked about her latest scans and tests. It was at that point that I knew she was completely false. She sent me scans with ‘hospital letters’. Within five minutes of receiving those scans, I pulled them up online via a reverse image site. One was from a study done in Saudi Arabia, and the other was from a medical journal on VHL.
Please remember at this point, Maggie specifically told me that she had stage 3 T4 incurable pancreatic cancer. Also, at this point, I had put my name on a GoFundMe page that raised a massive SIXTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.
I sent her the dreaded message. Is this all lies?
For someone who was ill, she sure was cool about me accusing her of such things. And then I told her I knew the scans were false. She came clean and told me her diagnosis was much better than they first thought and that the worst-case scenario at this point was diabetes. That she had been misdiagnosed. Convenient, in my opinion. Still, how do we go from terminal cancer and weeks to live to diabetes without batting an eyelid?
I’m sorry, what?
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I also didn’t expect her fiancée’s sister to reach out to me via Twitter telling me she’d had doubts all along but that her fiancée couldn’t see it. I asked if Maggie’s fiancée would be willing to speak with me via Zoom, and she agreed. That Zoom call has to be the single most difficult thing I’ve done in my life. Maggie’s fiancée was completely unaware of anything that had been going on. She didn’t use Twitter, so she hadn’t see any of the updates regarding Maggie’s health. As far as she was aware, Maggie was dying and they only had weeks, possibly a couple of months left together. As for other things, her fiancée was under the impression that they couldn’t live together because Maggie travelled for her other job. She was devastated. Heartbroken. But thanked me for being upfront and telling her everything. In fact, while we were on the Zoom call (you know, while Maggie was supposed to be still in hospital), she called the fiancée, unaware that I was online with her. She was planning to visit for a few days.
I knew from the moment the unresponsive tweet went out that she was lying. And as I sit here right now looking at a picture of her recently, she’s seemingly healthy and happy.
My reasons for all of this? Maggie Robbins/Claire Szewcyzk is now Liza Snow. Published author. Not to be confused with Lisa Snow. She is on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and wherever else I happen to find her. Seeing her so freely promoting her stuff while ignoring any form of communication with me is insulting. I won’t lie, I’m absolutely livid. But I knew this time would come. I knew she would be back. And if I know her the way I think I do, she’s probably publishing sapphic books again. She clearly has no shame for her behaviour.
Not only that, but I was also slammed by several people for even outing Claire in the first place. I was told by some that if she did anything to harm herself as a result of me speaking up, it would be my fault. I’m sorry, but I’m not putting that on me. Maybe she does have mental health issues, maybe she doesn’t, but one thing I do know is that she has no remorse for the lies, or for the sixteen thousand dollars she fraudulently raised for her non-existent death sentence.
The anxiety I experienced was horrific. I didn’t sleep for days on end, and I was consumed by finding answers. Then came the fear of telling people it was all lies once I had those answers. To have no genuine apology is something I’m finding very hard to swallow. Both for me and the rest of you as you finish reading this. What she did was federal fraud. Yet she got away with it and is clearly having a wonderful time with her new pen name.
There were other things that happened/were said, but I’m sharing MY experience of it. What you do with any of this information is up to you, but remember the deceit, the horrific lies, and the pain it caused within the community before you consider supporting her new venture. I had to say goodbye to my auntie in 2021 within 8 days of diagnosis. She wasn’t lying, she did die from cancer. To me, what Maggie did is unforgivable.
At the beginning of all of this, it was suggested to me that I let it go. That I don’t go into detail about what I found. Just to explain that it was a lie and have done with it.
But I think it’s important that we’re all upfront about anything we can be. I have friends in this community, and I have readers who appreciate my brutal honesty at times. But deep down, I just did something for someone I thought was dying. You may see me online and think that I could be a little quieter, or a little less ‘in your face’, but aside from this sort of thing, I have a drama-free, happy life. I’ll go out of my way to help anyone I can. But you cross me the way Maggie did, and you’re going to feel the force of it. Why? Because I don’t believe that readers, authors, or anyone else within this community should have to be put through the turmoil of other people’s lies.
I won’t stand for it.
And I’ll always speak up!
Lots of love,
The one who will never set up a GoFundMe page again for as long as I shall breathe!