Tuesday, January 15, 2008

V is for Vendetta?

I know I'm a week late chiming in on the whole Cassie Edwards/Smart Bitches plagiarism brouhaha, but last night when I went to my writer's circle, one of the women mentioned that she thought that the SB's had a vendetta against Cassie Edwards, and that they had been out to get her for years. Which kind of shocked me because I can't imagine anyone, even they can't stand someone's books, searching for stuff to bust a writer. IBut I read the comments over at Smart Bitches, and there were some horrible comments, ascribing them all sorts of motives. It's interesting to me how many people have tried to make it look like the SB's had an ulterior motive for bringing the alleged plagiarism of Cassie Edwards' to light.

Let's not forget something here, plagiarism sucks no matter who does it. Whether it's a beginning writer or a multi-published author. You're taking words out from someone else's work and then using it for your own purposes. Making a statement saying that you didn't know romance authors were supposed to credit sources is not a good enough excuse. Read any Susan Johnson historical novel and you will find several pages of footnotes, and most writers acknowledge their sources in their books. In this case, according to the comparison, Cassie Edward's didn't even paraphrase, she copied word for word from non-fiction and fiction sources.

Now back to the Vendetta thing. The SB's may have made fun of Cassie Edward's books in the past, and they may have done a happy dance when they were alerted to the alleged plagiarism, but I have a hard time believing that they've spent their time searching for ways to bring her down. This reminds of me of what happened several years ago on All About Romance, when they reported on a new romance author who it turned out had allegedly plagiarized not just the entire plot but several chunks of description and dialogue from a well-known Harlequin/Silhouette author. The cries at that time were racism, because the newbie author was African-American, so there for All About Romance was out to get her because she was black, not because she had plagiarized.

In this day and age where everyone has a blog and anyone can post Amazon.com reviews, and could do so anonymously, its easy to spew bile at any author that we can't stand or who has slighted us in anyway. I know that it would have been so easy when I got my horrible critique from a Kensington author through RT to have trashed her on-line. To this day, although I tell it as a funny story, I still have never revealed the author's name. It's not important, and I would hate anyone who actually liked her books to stop reading her just because she told me I was promoting smoking in my books and should be ashamed of myself!

There was a time when I was tempted to write horrible reviews on Amazon for a writer that had stabbed me in the back and tried to ruin my friendship with my best friend. And I did indeed write one such review (seriously the book was terrible, I wasn't the only one who hated it) but I couldn't really be objective. And I didn't need the bad karma, so I've refrained from reading her books or trashing her since then, no matter how tempted I've been.

There's also the suggestion that the SB's were just doing this to get publicity for themselves. Well, there are better ways than accusing a best selling author who has published a 100 books of plagiarism. You can bet, as evidenced by their blog, they diligently searched and made their case, before they did anything. Don't forget, it hasn't done the romance industry any favors to have yet another plagiarism case in the newspaper. Which is another thing that people have been bitchy about, that it makes us all look bad. Don't blame the Smart Bitches, blame the newspapers or Cassie Edwards for plagiarizing.

Look, the mainstream media has no interest in romance writers unless there is a hook to the story, ie. Eloisa James being a well-respected professor of Shakespeare at Fordham, Sherrilyn Kenyon's swan hat, or Suzanne Brockmann writing a wonderful love story about two gay men who just want to get married and donating the royalties to charity. This story was just another hook, unfortunately it happened to be an unfortunate one. And picking on Nora Roberts for being interviewed? The woman went through her own trauma at finding out she was being plagiarized by Janet Dailey, of course, they were going to contact her!

I think it's sad that this happened, but I don't think we should bitch-slap the Smart Bitches because they were the ones to first report it.



Kwana said...

What a mess this whole thing is.
Hey, I tagged you today. Check it out.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Thanks, Kwana. I was wondering what to write about. Now I know!