logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Plagiarism
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-08-28 01:35
Would I do it again? Absolutely, even knowing the price. (very long rant)
The Hepburn - Jan Westcott

If you've been following the current brouhaha on Twitter regarding alleged plagiarism and dishonesty of promoting one's own books and what is or isn't ethical, you'll maybe recognize the source for this. 

 

One of the tweets this morning was about a perceived culture in which Romancelandia tends to overtly deplore dishonorable actions but maintains a telling silence when certain dishonorable actions are committed by certain untouchable writers.  If the accusation is made by a lesser light (or an Unknown!) of a Big Name Author, the accuser is automatically dismissed.  If the BNA is big in Romance Writers of America, the sweeping under the rug can be painfully obvious.

 

There is also a tendency for those who are the dismissed accusers to believe that they are alone, that no one ever comes to their defense. It's a horrible feeling, and I know because I've been there.  More than once.

 

The big example, the one I point to frequently, pertains to the linked novel, The Hepburn, written by Jan Westcott.  I happen to have two copies.  I read it for the first time in the mid-1960s, not long after I read Leslie Turner White's Lord Johnnie

 

The main character of The Hepburn is not Patrick Hepburn; it's Jane Gordon, who is given in marriage against her will to the eponymous hero.  Jane is "fiesty," and independent and not afraid to speak her mind or even physically confront this man she sees as her mortal enemy.  In a lot of ways, she's not much different from Leanna Somerset, the heroine of Lord Johnnie, or any of the other strong female characters in the historical romances written by men in the 1930s through 1960s.  But Jane is the main character.  Did Westcott's publisher require the book be titled after the male lead because of market expectations?  I don't know.  I just know that Jane is the main character; this is her story, not Patrick's.

 

This sidebar on The Hepburn is by way of explaining why it meant so much to me and therefore how I knew, that Sunday afternoon in 1990, something horrible had happened.

 

I was on my way to the airport after the 1990 RWA national conference in San Francisco.  Sharing the taxi with me were authors Connie Flynn and Pat Potter.  Connie was a friend from my local RWA chapter in Phoenix; I didn't know Pat at all.  But it was Pat who asked if we had heard the rumors going around about a major instance of plagiarism.  We hadn't, so she explained that apparently Zebra superstar author Sylvie Sommerfield had copied parts of some old book called . . . The Hepburn.

 

"The Hepburn?"  I gasped.  "By Jan Westcott?  That's one of my favorite books of all time!"

 

I bought a copy of Sommerfield's Fires of Surrender when I landed at the airport in Phoenix.  I recognized familiar passages immediately.  Not just here and there but throughout the book.  And that was before I got home and could compare it to the original.

 

When I did, I was horrified. 

 

Samples are here on my external blog; I'll try to get some better scans later and post them here.

 

There was no question that the Sommerfield book was an infringement.  The following Monday morning, I contacted Romantic Times magazine.  They were skeptical.  I mailed them photocopies of selected pages.

 

Eventually the stories came out from Sommerfield.  First it was that she had been under extreme deadline pressure and had hired an assistant to help her with research.  The assistant took notes and Sommerfield was so impressed that she incorporated those notes into her manuscript.  Then the story changed to the manuscript was written by a hired ghostwriter, and it was all the ghostwriter's fault.  None of that made any difference of course, because the infringement was just too obvious. 

 

And Westcott was still alive. 

 

Eventually a settlement was reached, though the details were never released to my knowledge.  The speculation was that Zebra/Kensington, who had published Fires of Surrender, turned over all the royalties to Westcott. 

 

Without digging into my personal archives, I'm not sure whether Sommerfield resigned from RWA at that time or not.  RWA did not have any means to expel members who committed plagiarism or infringement, but the Sommerfield event did prompt the organization to write expulsion terms into the RWA by-laws.

 

That was 1990.  I was a nobody.  I had published one book with Leisure, one with Pageant, and had just sold my first title to Zebra shortly before that 1990 conference.  No one knew who I was.  No one cared.

 

That was 1990.  I was a nobody.  No one knew who I was.  No one cared.

 

And pretty much for most of the past 28 years, that's what I believed.  Until this morning.

 

This morning I remembered another instance when I had called out plagiarism/infringement.  And suddenly, for the first time in decades, some things made a little more sense.

 

In 1982, before I had ever even heard of RWA, I came across an article in The Writer magazine that really hit home with me.  It became my bible as a writer.  I shared it with my penpals.  When I did join RWA in 1984, I shared it with everyone I encountered.  I never claimed it as my own.  I gave the author full credit.

 

 

 

 

It's 2018 now.  I still have that February 1982 issue of The Writer.  I scanned these two pages (there are two more as well) this afternoon.

 

In March 1988, the following article appeared in the official RWA magazine, RWA Report.  Yes, I still have the magazine.  I scanned these two pages this afternoon.

 

 

 

 

For six years I had been promoting Shelly Lowenkopf's article, giving him 100% full credit for it.  I distilled a dozen points from it, printed them on a card, and pinned that card over my desk, but even that carried the appropriate attribution.

 

I was stunned by Ginna Gray's article.  Stunned, shocked, appalled.  I ran out of words.

 

I reported it.

 

Nothing happened.

 

I have a fat folder in the top drawer of my big filing cabinet. That folder contains all the documentation of my attempts to get to the bottom of Ginna Gray's copying from Shelly Lowenkopf's excellent article.  That fat folder contains the originals of the two magazines and the correspondence I undertook.  Some of my reporting was done by telephone, and I don't have recordings of those calls.  But I do still have the written correspondence, some of it printed on my first dot matrix printer.

 

 

 

 

 

A few days later, I got this reply:

 

 

 

Ms.Cresswell did call me regarding the official response to my communication, but I did not receive any further written notice from her.  She reported in her call that Ms. Gray was shocked and shamed and offered the excuse that she had received the information as a hand-out at another conference and incorporated it into her article.  Essentially, nothing was done.  Nothing.

 

That was 1988.  I was nobody.

 

In 1989, I brought the Ginna Gray episode up in a letter to another RWA official as part of longer letter on a variety of issues.  Again, I received a phone call, but nothing was put in writing to me.  According to my notes on this call, everything regarding Ginna Gray was discussed in secret RWA executive board session and special permission had been obtained to even give me what little bit of information I got.  Ultimately, however, the RWA board of directors did nothing.  No vague warnings were published in the RWR about not "borrowing" someone else's writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, without proper attribution.

 

So then came 1990 and the Sylvie Sommerfield mess, and I was right smack dab in the middle of that, too.  And I felt guilty.  I felt guilty about reporting Ginna Gray and I felt guilty about reporting Sylvie Sommerfield.  But no one else was.

 

By the summer of 1991, the Sommerfield thing had blown over or been settled, and I assumed the Ginna Gray thing had been dealt with, too.  I made plans to attend the national conference that summer, held in New Orleans.  When I saw that Ginna Gray was scheduled to deliver one of the workshops and that it was titled "Great Beginnings," I had a bad feeling in my gut.  I considered calling the conference chair about it, but I shrugged it off.  I was already in enough trouble with RWA.  So I said nothing.

 

But I did attend Ginna Gray's workshop.

 

This was 1991.  I was nobody.

 

Ginna Gray used even more of Shelly Lowenkopf's article, verbatim, in her 1991 workshop than she had in the 1988 article.  I purchased the official cassette recording of the workshop and transcribed it.  There was no doubt in my mind that she had copied.

 

Against my better judgment, I reported it again.  I included copies of previous correspondence as well as the transcript I had made of the tape.  Once again, nothing happened, other than I was told to stop harassing everyone.  I was told Ginna Gray had done nothing wrong.  I was told I was the one in trouble.

 

It didn't take long for me to locate Shelly Lowenkopf.  I took the drastic step of contacting him and giving him the details.  We had a long phone conversation, and then I received the following letter from him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing happened.  RWA did nothing.  When Janet Dailey infringed on her friend Nora Roberts in 1995 or so, RWA did nothing.  (Dailey was not a current member at the time, so there wasn't much they could do other than decline to continue to grant her "Janet Dailey" award.)

 

I have other documents in my fat file folder that take the issue into the late 1990s and my departure from RWA.  Those documents aren't quite as relevant, but I have them.

 

Why did I keep all of it for well over 30 years?  I'm not sure.  I guess it's because I'm a mean person, maybe vindictive and vicious.  I've never denied that I can be self-righteous, and I can certainly be stubborn.

 

But this latest bullshit with authors "lifting" from other authors and lying about it and shrugging it off as nothing, and then other authors coming along and shrugging it off because it's not really, technically, precisely plagiarism because it's just common tropes and blah, blah, blah, well, that just got to me.  And it reminded me this morning that maybe my persistence over Ginna Gray -- who I believe is a charter member of RWA, one of the original group that met in the bank basement in Houston and formed the organization -- played a larger part in my being a kind of persona non grata in the organization.  Because the vaunted sisterhood of romance writers is, after all, bullshit.

 

I offer no apologies.  I offer only the evidence.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-10 19:58
Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae
Plaid and Plagiarism - Molly MacRae

A murder in a garden turns the four new owners of Yon Bonnie Books into amateur detectives, in a captivating new cozy mystery novel from Molly MacRae.

Set in the weeks before the annual Inversgail Literature Festival in Scotland, Plaid and Plagiarism begins on a morning shortly after the four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move to Inversgail hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned.

First, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect? Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper—who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body—it’s Una, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck. Janet never did like that garden shed.

Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Surrounded by a cast of characters with whom readers will fall in love, the new owners of Yon Bonnie Books set out to solve Una’s murder so they can get back to business.

A delightful and deadly new novel about recognizing one’s strengths and weakness—while also trying to open a new book shop—Plaid and Plagiarism is the start of an entertaining new Scottish mystery series

 
**********
 
As this is a cozy mystery book there are lots of eccentric people and lots of humor, at least it tries to be humorous. However, I did find it hard to really enjoy PLAID AND PLAGIARISM. Despite the bookstore and all. Sure, there were moments that I enjoyed, a man and his dog that kept on disappearing throughout the book. One minute there, the next gone. The old lady that just showed up one day in the bookstore, not saying a word, just sitting there knitting. But, the mystery just never really got to me. I felt that, despite this being a fairly short book, it was hard for me to concentrate on the story.
 
READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-04-24 15:25
Book Review - The Real Book Thief (non-fiction)
The Real Book Thief (How To Steal Another Author's Work And Nearly Get Away With It) - Ingrid Black

This book tells of how author duo, Ingrid Black came to discover that popular author, Joanne Clancy had plagiarised not just one, but it appears a whole series of their books.

 

The Real Book Thief is an interesting read, and is a stark warning that people aren’t always what they seem. It is a shame myself and others have been made to feel like this, as the author/reader/reviewer community is one of the closest I’ve ever been a part of and I’ve made some friends I hope will be friends for life. It saddens me that some of my reviewer friends have spent many hours reading and reviewing Joanne Clancy’s books, often prioritising her books, only to be betrayed and let down in this way.

 

I was too busy munching on a huge meal my Irish mother had made us all on Easter Sunday, to discover this story when it was first revealed. In fact, the first I heard of it was yesterday when a couple of my other book blogger friends posted a link to this book. I knew I had to read this book right away. Twenty Four hours on and I’m still in shock.

 

Joanne Clancy was my friend on Goodreads for years, back in the days when I had very few friends on there, so I saw her happy, smiling face regularly when popping onto Goodreads to update my own reading and see what my friends had read. Joanne was also an active member of a book club on Facebook that we were both in. Lots of other members read and reviewed her books, although Tear Drop, I remember in particular, as that title stuck in my mind. Reviewers shared links to their reviews on Amazon and their blogs, and Joanne would thank them.

 

I’m not a huge fan of crime novels, so although I did have a couple of her books on my to be read pile, I in fact have only read and reviewed one book, that was a short Christmas story. I bought Open Your Eyes off Amazon, after other friends recommended it, but now I’m wondering whether she even wrote it, so it is unlikely I’ll ever read and review it. This whole incident has left me feeling quite uneasy and sickened by what has happened.

 

Although this book explains a lot, we are still left with so many unanswered questions. Was Joanne originally a genuine author who made a huge mistake that would ruin her writing career? Were any of her books written by her? If she was a genuine author, what truly drove her to steal someone else’s work and claim it as her own?

 

If you knew Joanne Clancy online too, then this book is likely to trigger emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment, confusion and curiosity. Will we ever get to know her side of the story? Will this mystery ever be solved? Perhaps one day she will return to write her autobiography, and we will all be provided with the answers we crave.

 

Reading this book has left me with such mixed emotions. A part of me is sad for the readers and reviewers who have been betrayed by her lies, another part of me is angry that she stole someone else’s hard work and cashed in on it. Authors work exceptionally hard to create a novel, and I feel Joanne’s actions have devalued this difficult process. Then there is the other part of me that always tries to see the good in people. Did something make her so desperate that it drove her to do this? Was she desperate for more money in order to pay bills that were piling up, or was she just seeking attention and wanted to be a famous author with less of the effort? What do her family think of this? Were they in on it all along, or were they proud of their daughter/sister, the talented and successful author?

 

The most natural part of me feels sympathy for her if this has resulted in her life falling apart around her and her family being ashamed of her. Perhaps she has learnt from her mistakes and is doing something with her life to right the wrongs she has done. If that is the case, then good luck to her. However, the still shocked and betrayed part of me has become suspicious of what is now real. Is Joanne Clancy even her real name, or has she got various author names that are still making her money to this day? My mind is in a spin! Perhaps we will never know the truth.

I feel shocked and saddened by this at the moment, but my reviewer friends and I will get over this, and continue loving and supporting authors as we have done for many years. This book is a huge eye-opener, but please don’t let it ruin your love of books and support for genuine authors that still need your help.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1618481196
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2015-11-24 17:24
Plagiarism Alert- Addison Scott updated

I would have liked to have reblogged from .38 but for some reason I now cannot do it. I can't copy because it won't bring my screenshots. I can't add screenshots here, they all add at the top of the page.

 

Here's the link, Scott has been a busy little thieving bee.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2015-11-15 23:28
WTFckery Or Not: Latest Plagiarism Accusation: Self-Published Author Missy Blue (D.C. Ruin) and The Tornado

Welcome to this week’s WTFckery where unfortunately I have another alleged plagiarism scandal to talk about, yet again in the self-publishing community…

 

Last April I first heard about Missy Blue, a debut self-published author and her (or his) book, The Tornado. This self-published book is about a former ballerina heroine who has a romance with a MMA boxing fighting hero, and for fans of New Adult. The buzz for this book was big, so much so that The Tornado hit the top 100 in Romance, and I think overall fiction at Amazon. If that’s the case, The Tornado probably gave Missy thousands of dollars in sales. I reviewed the book, enjoyed it and even told others to read it. Now I’m kicking myself because it has come out that The Tornado is stolen. This Missy Blue, who has now vanished, stole a fan fiction of Warrior, a 2011 movie, titled, In The Land of Gods and Monsters by Wynter S. Komen. Also it looks like Missy Blue is D.C. Ruins, which this alleged plagiarist first published, with what would be The Tornado in 2014 under the title of Dances with Monsters.

 

Jane from Dear Author was the first to report this travesty on Twitter:

 

CTv1UDlWIAEAsUe

 

Comment on a review of The Tornado before Amazon took action and took off The Tornado off sale:

 

CTxonmtUkAAy18X

 

I’m pissed off again because this is yet another black stain on self-publishing. This thief, aka Missy Blue is a perfect example of everything wrong with self-publishing, because these debut self-published authors, who just appear one day with little or no social presence or website continue to prove it’s easy to steal fan fictions or other authors’ work and claim it as their own. Because this Missy Blue can just erase herself or himself and take his/her ill gotten gains (and laughing all the way to the bank), and not give restitution to the author or writer they stole from, it will  continue to happen again and again. That author or writer victim, who decides to take action, by spending their own money to find out who someone like Missy Blue is must appeal to Amazon and any other third party vendor to reveal the identity of the plagiarist. Only Amazon and other third party vendors have the information (plagiarist’s real identity, address and banking information) the victim needs for their case, in the hopes to receive the royalties these plagiarists stole.

 

The sad thing is I have to be very cautious when trying a new self-published author who doesn’t have any presence to speak of. Do I really have to investigate the authors I want to read or ask other authors who know these new debut self-published authors and ask for referrals because I don’t want to end up reading possible plagiarized content? Because of Missy Blue and Laura Harner, I’m very close to the point I won’t mention, review or praise any debut self-published authors and their books until I know they’re 100% authentic.

 

It’s already extremely hard for self-published authors to get reviewed or create word of mouth for their books. Whenever a self-published author plagiarizes another author or writer, they’re stealing from the entire self-publishing community who needs word of mouth and reviews to sell their books. Self publishing has made it so easy for unethical people to steal fan fiction and other works published or posted on-line, and sell it for a big profit. A sad WTFckery that continues to put self-publishing in a bad light.

Source: kbgbabbles.com/2015/11/wtfckery-or-not-latest-plagiarism-accusation-self-published-author-missy-blue-d-c-ruin-and-the-tornado.html
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?