Of Plagiarism-the past in the present

 “Ignorance of law and ethics is no excuse, however. Plagiarism victimizes writers. It betrays the trust of readers. It tarnishes the craft of writing.” Paul Tolme from From Janet Dailey to Cassie Edwards-Newsweek’s evolving views on plagiarism in romance novels.

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I thought I had said all I wanted to say but Stahl has managed to  enrage me a little more. Stahl has issued a long letter to her fans about the terrible, terrible time in September when she was wrongly accused of plagiarism. Please also read Fangirl’s blog here. Stahl laments the cruel accusations and offers the excuse that of course her work resembles that of other writers because there are no new ideas and we all use the same language and have some of the same experiences so, yeah, her writing would be “similar” to other authors.

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If this is true then how come all these blogs about Stahl’s plagiarism are not eerily alike? Are we not sharing the same experience?

” It astonishes me that in this day and age, people can still get away with passing someone else’s work off as their own, and be very successful. I’m not suggesting that each romance novel should be a work of great literature. I don’t like eating my vegetables very much, either. I’m not expecting all that much originality, either. I like reading romance novels because I always know what to expect. Without the formula, the genre wouldn’t work. However, there are hundreds of writers out there who work within that formula to tell love stories that stir up emotions and capture my interest, and they do it using their own words. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” Merrie Frisbie

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Yes, but:

“Yeah, the problem with this line of defense that she’s taking is that I never said she stole my story or even my ideas. Everything Changes does not have the same plot as The Art Teacher. She stole MY EXACT WORDS, lifting whole passages, just changing the names and the tense (TAT is written in present tense, Everything Changes is past tense), and shoehorning my words into her own scene. Half the time it didn’t even work well, since the scene I wrote containing those words was about something entirely different than hers. As I read through Everything Changes looking for all of my work, I stumbled on a passage that I could tell wasn’t hers. The wording, the sentence structure, the prose style, just jumped out as not belonging with what came before (it was also way better than what came before, but that’s for another post). I knew it wasn’t mine, but I also suspected it wasn’t hers. I screencapped it and tweeted it and within ten minutes someone had identified it as coming from The Practicum by The Fic Chick. She can’t claim she was just “influenced” by things she’d read (especially since when she was originally confronted about this, she claimed to have never read any of the fics involved). Influence means there are similar plot points or themes. We’re talking about exact wording.”  –Spanglemaker9

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Um, yeah.

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Won’t someone think of the children? Are you kidding me, Stahl? Maybe you should have thought about them when you were “writing” your books.

“Yeah, that part made me particularly ragey. I’ve been very mature, keeping my mouth shut about her, filing a nice, proper C&D like I was supposed to, and then she says that. I wasn’t going public with anything until she did that. Gloves off, lady” –Spanglemaker9

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“If and when” she writes again? Shouldn’t that read, never mind, she’s going to write again, no if about it.

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No, not really. Stahl may regain a following but like other authors before her the story and the stigma of plagiarism will follow her for the rest of her writing career.

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And every author who knows about you will be diligently checking your work just in case you miss something.

Stahl talks about receiving insults, threats, death threats  but, like Fangirl, I have never seen any. I never saw anyone mention her child/children. I never knew she was married or that her husband had been in a very bad accident. And with this Stahl sent my mind on a trip down memory lane.

That quote at the beginning is as true for Stahl as it was for the late Janet Dailey. Dailey was caught out plagiarizing from Nora Roberts. Both of these authors were true powerhouses of writing so it was a tremendous shock to find Dailey lifting passages from Roberts. Dailey never really acknowledged her responsibility instead blaming it on a series of deaths and illness in her family.

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Dailey was maybe the first author I can remember who tried to deflect the public’s attention from her bad acts to her personal life in a bid for sympathy, much like Stahl is doing now. And it seems that Stahl is making it work for her.

“For someone to target an innocent child and wish death on another person over fiction is totally wrong on so many levels.  To think that another MOTHER may have done it is even worse.  I’m so sorry that this happened to you.”

“I doubt that Nora Roberts will ever forget the pain and betrayal she must have felt at having her mind robbed, and I will always feel shame that I looked up to someone so undeserving.” -Merri Frisbie, from the same article linked above

” Ms. Stahl….I just read of your plight and as an avid reader I am so sorry this witch hunt has taken place. I am also ashamed that fellow readers and other human beings found it acceptable to become bullies. It is disgusting that anyone would take to harassing you, your family and most disturbingly A CHILD.. I HOPE those making the accusations can 100% PROVE those accusations IN COURT because… IF I were you…..my money, and every waking moment of my life would be spent from this point forward perusing each and every person who publicly accused me of theft and or harassed me, my family and my child.  ESPECIALLY those that come here to your fb page and make those open statements without irrefutable PROOF. It truly disgusts me to see just how far humanity has fallen. And those casting those stones need to take some cover…KARMA…doesn’t like ugly. Good luck to you Ms. Stahl. Hold your head high, keep writing. I will certainly read your books.”

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First of all, the child was not harassed;  I do believe that it might come to a court case , something that must be giving Stahl a few sleepless nights; there is plenty of proof but you have to look for it, Stahl isn’t going to post it on her FB page; humanity, in the form of Stahl, has fallen to the point of stealing other’s work; KARMA, yeah, Stahl is gonna need some luck to avoid that.

“Unless you personally have legitimate proof that she did anything wrong you should just be quiet.  Why come to this page and start your harassment all over again?   Cowards who go after someone and their family with threats are disgusting and you should all be thinking of that instead of bashing someone that is being presumed guilty before she has a chance to defend herself.  Grow up people.”

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Once again, I say that you have to go and look. But you notice that these posters are outraged by the unseen threats and harassment Stahl claims she and her family was subjected to. This is paramount. This is the point of Stahl’s letter, it is all about her, her suffering, her pain. The cause, her plagiarism, is almost ignored because posters claiming this haven’t brought proof with them.

I could say that Stahl’s fans have had since SEPTEMBER to look around and read all the information posted but what is obvious to most of us seems to be beyond their mental capabilities. How can you not want to know everything being said, not want to see the evidence?

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There is talk of a court case, I don’t know for sure, but from the posts I’ve seen I think Stahl is in a very bad position. Even if it never goes to court this will be attached to her name forever. Stahl will never be able to shake it. She isn’t a name like Edwards or Dailey, this will hinder her success.

Wherever she goes, whatever she does as an author she will never be sure that that her audience isn’t thinking about plagiarism and who really wrote her latest book.

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And may you receive everything that you deserve, Ms Stahl.

The Mystifying Fandom of Shey Stahl

“One man’s paraphrasing is another’s man’s plagiarism”. -Amos Lassen, after he was banned from Amazon for plagiarizing reviews.

pla·gia·rize

verb \ˈplā-jə-ˌrīz also -jē-ə-\

: to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas   -Merriam Webster online dictionary

In September it was revealed that author Shey Stahl had lifted a significant portion of her newest book, For the Summer, from the popular fanfiction, Dusty. The review was a model of tact and diplomacy never once calling Stahl a plagiarist but listing several passages from both books and letting the readers draw their own conclusions.

For the authors of Dusty there was only one conclusion: Stahl had plagiarized their book. It wasn’t the first time Stahl had had difficulties with appropriating other’s work. As an author of fanfic she had been at the center of controversy in that community. Links to the September event and other are here, here, here, and here. Lots of interesting reading detailing how very busy Stahl had been publishing other author’s work as her own.

While Stahl denied any wrong doing, more instances were coming to light. Amazon pulled her books. Authors were demanding answers. Stahl deleted her Twitter and Facebook pages and disappeared from sight.

And now she is back, without an apology or an explanation. Not that many are surprised by this, it was a given that she would return. Authors beware.

What bothers me most isn’t Stahl’s reappearance but her fans reactions:

“Soooooooo GLAD you are back…you know we all have a girl (author) crush on you! Shey Stahl ROCKS!!”

“Holy hell! What a sight for sore eyes!!! Please tell me you are back for good!!!”

 “Haters are going to hate, friends are forever”ch

That’s depressing. How can you not understand what Stahl has done? To use the example I really hate, let’s say that Dusty is YellowBella’s child. Stahl has kidnapped Dusty and changed her name to Summer. She has also dressed her in different clothes, dyed her hair, and pierced her ears. But none of that matters, Dusty is still not Stahl’s child. Stahl has committed a crime, and no matter how good a mother you think she is, that isn’t her child. You can still love the mother, just love the real mother.

For poster #1:  That author crush you have is for all the authors Stahl stole from. It’s their work you liked, their ideas. Stahl only changed a few words and took your money for their efforts.

For poster #2:  We all knew she would be back. The lure of all those authors she hasn’t ripped off, the fans like yourself who will pay her for ripping them off, the approval you are giving to a woman who has no compunction about stealing from her own is irresistible.

For poster #3:  And friends tell their friends when they have committed a crime, friends are the people who tell you all the things you don’t want to hear. Toadies, suckups, and morally bankrupt fanpoodles are the ones who tell a common thief how glad they are she is back without mentioning that she should be apologizing and making restitution.

The Great Rewrite-or Not

“History is written by the victors.”  Winston Churchill

“… our mission here at STGRB is accomplished.  The fact is that the bullies have lost their “holy” war. So, we won’t be blogging about them that much anymore.”  ” In other words, they have lost their power and they won’t be getting it back.”  STGRB

“When I was attacked that fateful day in July of 2012, my mind was caught in whirlwind. Confusion was an understatement. It was a low point of my life. I couldn’t understand how so many people could have so much hate in their hearts, and stupidity.”  “A relationship with a girl who suffers from a lack of mental stability took her hurtful feelings towards me, and had thrust them upon so many of her friends, worked them into a psychopathic frenzy to the point where I was viciously attacked online on a website known as Goodreads dot com.”  Carroll Bryant

“Everything I thought I knew, turns out I don’t know Jack shit.”   Carroll Bryant.  Bad sentence but, for once, he got something right.

“I had to laugh at the way they try to pass their manifesto of madness off as a legitamate book with all the bells and whistles such as footnotes and an index.  But in reality it is the same out shit trying to justify their sociopathic belief that it is their right to attack and destroy writers.”  Rick(ydick) Carufel

“Everything I say is substantiated, if it comes from my mouth then they will be my words or I will have fully documented proof, I won’t say it if it isn’t true!  I pride myself on my honestly and integrity …”  Eve Thomas

“Nothing has changed when it comes to reviews. Your reviews are yours and we value the frank and honest opinions of all our members. That’s what makes Goodreads different and special.”  Otis Chandler

Maybe it’s just that writing history should not be attempted by such poor losers, poor writers, and outstanding liars.

The Utter Boredom of Lauren Howard

” I want to regain some normality, that’s all. So bored of everything now. Never expected/wanted this. Hope you understand”– Lauren Howard after a long, hard day of lying.

Poor Lauren, it seems that things are getting out of control. ” I don’t want to spend any more of my time on this. I just want to get back to some normality and be smiling again.” So do a lot of other people, Lauren, but you aren’t thinking about them, are you? ” Wishing everyone nothing but the best. Truly. What can I say, I’m young and stupid :)” Let’s just leave out the young and go with the stupid.

I’m sorry but you’re not going to get everyone to just drop it and move on. You made some serious allegations. You talked about rape, sodomy, and death threats and how you were scared and now you’re just BORED? Wow. Just wow. “I didn’t ask for this attention and I don’t want anymore negativity upsetting me.” But it’s okay to lie and exaggerate and focus negative attention on other people. As long as you’re not upset by it.

“I can accept that I’ve made some mistakes during this situation (ever commenting on Goodreads for example and not asking friends to delete their own abusive comments – which, by the way, I didn’t know about until I read an article just now) and I accept these mistakes. I apologize for them. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. ” Honey, if you’re going to lie, learn to do it so it’s harder to disprove. You knew about both the blender comment and the go hang yourself comment this morning. On GoodReads. In the comments of a rating of your book.

And I posted both your disclaimer of responsibility for your friend’s post and the post where you claimed to be “horrified” by one of your defenders telling someone to hang herself. Lauren, how can you possibly think I, or any one else, will accept your “apology” when you are still lying?

” I have done absolutely NOTHING wrong. And I am tired of all of this already.” Then, Lauren. let’s see some proof of all those threats, you know, then ones you’re bored of now. You lied, you lied, you lied. And you are still lying.

You want to get past this? Stop lying. Own up to your mistakes. Apologize publicly and specifically. You publicly harmed a great many people and GoodReads.  You can’t send a smiley face and claim youth and stupidity and go blithely on thinking only about yourself. You want to talk to me privately? Sure. Right after that public apology.

I know you will understand. Right now I have to think of myself and my health.

How Very Special, My Dear

“Many people don’t seem to agree with my decision. I NEED people to understand that I am not “letting them win” by making this decision. I need to think about MYSELF; my health, welfare, attitude and mental state. My decision, though you may not agree, is best for ME.”  Lauren Howard, latest snowflake in the drift..

Ah, SPAs, gotta love’em. No, really, most are out there working hard and hoping for a little recognition for their hard work and imagination. Then there is the vocal minority. I’m sure that they feel loved and admired when their friends and fans rush to defend and sympathise and isn’t that just what writing is all about to them?

So let’s talk Lauren, who has decided against publishing her book. Good. Because if this snowflake can’t handle the comments before her book is published, I shudder to think what would have happened when she got her first critical review. Because everybody who publishes gets critical reviews sooner or later.

As I understand it someone rated Lauren’s not-yet-published book 2 stars on GoodReads and the whining commenced. Evidently Lauren had not familiarized  herself with how GoodReads works before she started whining. Sigh. Here’s some good advice:  Know the rules before you whine. Start from a place of power or get your butt handed to you.

Now Lauren and her fanpoodles-fanpoodles, now this is a great word but it is such a disservice to poodles who are very intelligent dogs-have sobbed all over the internet about how terrible the people are on GoodReads and how very, very badly poor, dear Lauren was treated. Okay, let’s  explore that.

Well now, Lauren’s book hit a few shelves with, shall we say, questionable labels but those labels weren’t applied to Lauren. No one said to Lauren she should be raped or sodomized. Lauren’s book didn’t fare so well. Lauren needs to learn she is not her book. Rookie mistake? No, more like drama queen needs drama.

After that first 2 star rating our little Lauren posted a question about low rating spam/troll accounts,   calling the GR member in question a “low rating spam troll account”.

“…but at least I have a shred of decency and respect for other people.” Um, yeah, calling someone a low rating spam troll is totally respectful.

“Uh oh, sounds like a speshul snowflake is melting?” A question asked after Lauren’s posts about “low rating spam troll” came to light.

“You are a grown man spouting off? Really? Grow up! The book isn’t out and you are giving fake ratings?
It’s really pathetic. If you have nothing better to do may I suggest you go put your hand in a blender!”-
Victoria, friend of Lauren.

Once the rating system was explained to me (ie. users rating to express anticipation) as a new user of Goodreads, I was fine just to move on. I am no “speshul snowflake” and don’t appreciate your sickening sarcasm. What you have done by being so vindictive is truly low, and I pity you for being such a heartless human being that you would deliberately try to hurt someone who was just confused and trying to understand.-Lauren. Um-hmm. So your calling someone a troll and your friend telling the reviewer to stick his hand in a blender are just, what, all intended in good, clean fun? Hey, we all know that when you called someone a spam troll you did it with all the love in your heart, right? And that thing about the blender that you tried to ignore, Victoria was just trying to get the reviewer to commit a little harmless self-dismemberment, nothing for anyone to get upset about. Nothing as low and vindictive and heartless as calling you, Lauren, a speshul snowflake. Call the police, let’s get this low-life off the net.

“I can’t control what my friends say,…”- Lauren, when asked why she wasn’t addressing her friends hands in the blender post. Wrong, Lauren, you can control what your friends say. You tell them to delete the comment, apologise, and maybe you stop being their friend because if having your book shelved under illegal acts with a lawn ornament horrifies you so much then having somebody who resorts to posting suggestions to strangers to physically harm themselves as your friend should make you vomit.

go hang yourself you dirty piece of shit” – another defender of poor put upon Lauren.

I was horrified to hear someone had told someone to hang themselves. I do not know this individual and I do NOT approve of this behaviour.– Lauren. But not horrified enough to actually chastise the poster.

“I am quite simply terrified, and do not know what to do. But absolutely NO ONE is willing to help me. No one will remove this book even though it’s not even a real book and it’s damaging my life right now. No one will let me remove the cover image. No one will let me change the name so people can stop finding me. No one will let me do anything and I don’t know who to turn to because no librarians will help me.

I read in the rules that if books were not going to be published, they can be deleted EVEN if there are ARCs. I read that librarians are supposed to help, but I’m receiving no help. I am sat in tears as I write this because I cannot DO THIS anymore.

I can hold my hands up and say this entire thing was a mistake and I NEED someone to help me and I NEED someone to erase this listing. According to the rules, it is eligible for deletion, even with the ARCs and reviews!

PLEASE, I am begging you… someone, ANYONE… please help me out here. “- Lauren. You see, things didn’t go quite the way she planned when she wanted to take her book and Flounce. First off, there are ARCs out there so her book can be added at any time, so no, it wasn’t removed. And the GRs staff didn’t respond immediately, because they don’t have anything else to take care of.

Librarians are not GRs staff. I’ve said this before. They are simply GRs members who have special privileges that can be revoked if they do not follow the rules. What Lauren was requesting is not something the librarians can do and if they try, they can get librarian status revoked.

“It’s disgusting that Goodreads won’t do anything about the bullying and fake reviews. Their responses are rubbish and generic.”– Emma Poulloura. Soon to be former GoodReads librarian that Lauren got to break the rules for her. Lauren is so happy to find someone to grant her wish right now that it doesn’t matter if Emma is violating the rules, Lauren first, rules a distant second.

Lauren has taken her book and left to create as much attention for herself as possible. That she isn’t quite telling the truth about her own behavior is no surprise and it won’t surprise me if Lauren and her book return. Because you know that the attention given to her right now will wane and Lauren really, really needs it.

Before posting I must make special mention of Jill Haldeman, an author who seems to think that insulting the disabled and thereby getting yourself labeled a BBA is a good marketing technique. I think that’s what she’s saying, to tell you the truth,  it’s a bit chaotic so  I might have got it wrong but, remember, this is from someone who fondly believes she’s an author. Let’s all show her neither is true.

The “Whorror” Of It All

I cannot believe I have to do this. It’s probably a hopeless endeavor but I’ll give it a try.

There is a world of difference between “whore” and “attention whore”. A whore is someone, male or female, who exchanges sexual acts for money. Generally also considered not in the top drawer of the sex-for-money profession.

An attention whore is someone, again male or female, that does rather dubious or annoying things to garner attention. This could be things like showing up at every large social event in town, from building dedications and bridge openings to funerals. The attention whore will be front and center making sure you don’t overlook them. Online they will post and tweet about everything they can turning it into something all about them. They tend to chose not the right side of an argument but the most sensational.

One is trying to make a living in a dangerous, go nowhere job, the other is a rather insecure, self absorbed creature who annoys.

Now do you understand?