We’re going to talk a little bit about plagiarism, no, we’re going to talk about Laura (L.E.) Harner. I think for a very long time to talk about one will be to talk about the other. Last October Harner made a name for herself not for her prolific writing, she already had that, but for her blatant theft from two other well known authors, Becky McGraw and Opal Carew.
Yes, I posted a blog and two heads-ups about the situation, here, here, and here. Beyond the plagiarism itself was the way Harner acted, or didn’t act, once she was exposed. First, there was nothing, then I heard a series of excuses from second hand sources, then more nothing, her sites went silent, then this showed up about two weeks later (I think).
I remember people wondering how long it takes to say, “I’m sorry,” or how long it took to consult with legal counsel before saying, “I plagiarized”. I guess the better part of forever. On the 28th of October The Guardian posted an article about Harner/McGraw/Carew and Herner again took care to avoid actually owning her bad actions.
“Made mistakes”, “might have crossed a line”, “working to address concerns raised by two authors who have accused me of plagiarism”, are not really admitting you outright ripped off the work of two fellow authors. This avoidance by Harner pretty much guaranteed that she wouldn’t be given much sympathy especially after she asked, “please do not judge me too harshly”, in the same statement. The book community following this mess reserved their sympathy for McGraw and Carew.
In November the RWA gave Harner a lifetime expulsion.And then there was the sound of crickets for months.
Then on February 13 Harner broke her silence and posted on her website and FB page:
This screenshot is from her repeat posting. The original is on my other laptop and we aren’t communicating well at the moment. The apology, which has disappeared from both sites raised a lot of questions:
Why did it take so long?
Why didn’t Harner apologize to Carew?
Was this part of some agreement made with McGraw?
Why was it so much about Harner and her feelings?
Is she really sorry or just sorry she got caught?
And my answers are:
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
Right about now, I’m pretty certain she is very sorry. At least for herself.
So let’s talk about now, what is Laura doing now? Turns out Harner released a new book in April. Not having read Harner before this I do not know how well her other books have shown at this point but Broken SEAL is rated 3.3 stars on Amazon (3.87 on Goodreads) at the moment.
I checked her the rest of her books on Amazon and while most of them never rise above double digit numbers of reviews almost all of them are rated better. I would say not too bad considering.
I am sure we have all seen a book listed or a post by an author stating that the book has been revised, maybe lengthened, maybe a different title, maybe under the author’s other pseudonym. Maybe an author revisits a sort story and realizes that now that short is a book. If the book moves from one publisher to another the content might undergo some changes. No one has a problem with that.
There is usually an announcement and a “Previously published as” in the front of the book.
On June 21 A Perfect Storm by Annalise Alexander, a “new”, “unknown” author, was released. You have to ask yourself is Harner learned nothing from her foray into plagiarism. On the 28th Jenny Trout posted a new Don’t Do This Ever because a reader had sent her her concerns about the very similar content of A Perfect Storm to Harner’s Whiteout. Had the plagiarist been plagiarized?
Harner has a new pseudonym, Annalise Alexander, but sadly not a new book. With a change in the weather- from a blizzard to a hurricane, new names, a few other details, about ten more pages, Harner/Alexander published Whiteout as A Perfect Storm and charged $2.00 more for it.
Ummm, no. This did not go over at all well. Harner self publishes under her own Hot Corner Press.
Notice the publisher? Now on Smashwords:
You have to ask, would one author publish another author who has plagiarized them? But then on Barnes & Noble:
A different publisher and on Amazon:
Still another. Not sure what is going on. Harner has been in the business long enough to know that there is a large number of readers/reviewers/bloggers that will ferret out all the discrepancies. Harner can’t afford discrepancies. Harner can’t afford to be anything but transparent.
There’s nothing wrong with being a formulaic author, we all know and read at least one, well I do. And there is nothing wrong with rewriting a previously published story. If you don’t tell your readers what you’ve done you can be sure they will tell you. Some of them might use profanity when they do.
But there is something wrong with what Harner has done. And I have to ask, is there no one close to her who can stop her? A family member, an editor, a beta reader? Anyone? Someone to say, “No, Laura, that is not a good idea, your readers won’t like that.”
Once again she isn’t giving any explanation for her decisions,
there is another strong wave of disgust,
and I have to wonder if Harner can be saved from herself.