I know I’m not the only who has noticed the theme with plagiarism scandals.
I think author Courtney Milan has spoken about this, but I can’t remember where or when and a search didn’t show anything. But the cycle is kinda obvious by now.
First there is denial…
I didn’t do it.
Then there are cries of bullying.
I’m the victim! Why are you so mean!
Then we start hearing from the plagiarist’s fanbase.
Leave her alone! There’s no proof. You’re just jealous/mean/bullies/. You’re being sued for libel/slander/cyberbullying…blah blah blah…
Never mind that truth is kinda the absolute defense against libel and it has to be libel. Remember your Spiderman. Slander is spoken. And how is it bullying to speak up about the truth? FYI, for the record, I am outright against anybody who tells somebody to harm themselves, drop dead, etc. If that’s anybody’s version of speaking up for the truth, find a better way.
But speaking up for the truth isn’t bullying. Notifying the author, notifying e-tailers isn’t bullying.
There are other steps in the cycle.
Books will disappear.
The author often fades away, going silent. Websites die. Sometimes, the ‘writer’ makes excuse. Depression (I’m depressed, I haven’t plagiarized anybody). A husband is leaving, somebody is cheating… it’s always somebody else’s fault. It’s never just the fact that wannabe writer couldn’t come up with their own ideas so they stole somebody else’s.
The only except to this rule was Kay Manning. She openly admitted what she’d done wrong, she confessed, without exception, and she apologized without excuses. It was the first time in the 10 years I’ve been published and more plagiarism scandals than I can recall. Because of that, I’ll remember her name…and if she publishes again, I may give her a second chance.
The latest scandal is about a fricking USA Today best seller, Shey Stahl. Apparently her books did so well, they landed her an agent and
a contract with Simon & Schuster. (ETA on 9/30… there have been numerous comments about this but no hard data, so I’m srtiking it. More info here.) But…it might be/allegedly/blah blah blah… that those books aren’t hers. None of them are for sale anymore and it looks like she is holding true to the pattern.
I didn’t steal them. They are mine. People are being mean to me. They are jealous.
And the chorus of her fans rise high…we’re here. We’ll support you.
Already, she’s gone silent. FB page is gone, website is being redone. More ‘similarities’ are cropping up with other fanfic pieces.
In a year or so, will I remember Stahl’s name? Unlikely. If I do, it will just be that she involved in another scandal…she was another wannabe who wanted to write, but couldn’t. Maybe one who could have learned how, if she would have invested the time to learn her voice. Instead, she stole somebody else’s….allegedly.
Here’s the deal.
Plagiarism is wrong.
Check out this (info via Dear Author)
She’s wearing a tight blue shirt and a black pencils skirt. Her high-heels tap on the wood as she descends down the steps. Her hair is an unnatural red color, but it’s seamlessly curled and styled. And when she smiles, I feel Mom almost cringe.
Alice’s mom looks nothing like my mom.
“You must be Renee,” the lady with the deep-red hair says, offering her hand.
Mom flattens her curly hair before shaking Mrs. Cullen’s hand. “Yes, and your name?” Mom asks kindly.
Dusty by YellowBella, Chapter 2: Dry and Dusty
She was wearing jean shorts and a red tank top. Her hair was that same rich color as Ivey’s, the color of the canyons with lighter highlights throughout.
“You must be Kathy,” the lady said, offering her hand.
“Yes, and your name?” Mom asked kindly.
Stahl, Shey (2013-09-20). For the Summer (Kindle Locations 684-686). . Kindle Edition.
The blurb from the cover…sorry, it’s identical. This doesn’t happen by accident. (click on it to see full size)
(Image from DA)
There are numerous passages in the book where lines like this were found, entire scenes blocked out, just like this. And this isn’t the first or only instance.
This is nuts.
What really bugs me is how many fans rush to support her. You poor thing. They are just jealous.
Part of me gets it, in a weird way. They love these stories, they invested time and money and they want more…the problem is what they want is more lies and they can’t see that. So they continue to defend.
It’s…bothersome, though, how they continue to refuse the evidence that is so plainly there.
Plagiarism is a matter of ethics, and can be a criminal matter, and it’s like these people don’t care that they are defending a person who has absolutely no writing ethics, at all. Would they go on the attack if somebody stole one of her stories? Is it a blind defense of her? That fanaticism is…well. Worrisome. To blindly follow/love anybody means you refuse to see their flaws. This is a pretty huge flaw.
One thing that did jump out at me was one of these gems, tossed out by one defending Stahl. As far as I’m concerned, she has no defense, but as a mom, and a writer…I do want to address it.
How can you do this (paraphrasing here… this was a line from her FB page, gone now, but I won’t highlight the user’s name) don’t you realize these books are her babies????
First. BOOKS ARE NOT BABIES.
I carried my babies for 9 months. I lost one child. It devastated me.
I would happily jump in front of a bullet, a speeding train or a madman with a knife for one of my children.
For a book? I’d throw my books in front of that bullet, that train, that madman.
I’ve happily thrown my manuscripts at a wall, abandoned them, starved them. I’d never do that to a child.
A book is a creation that seems to take on its own life. But it’s not a living creature that requires love, nurturing, protection, shelter.
Get it right, people. BOOKS AREN’T BABIES. I think it was Tessa Dare that led a twitter hashtag party one year about all things you do with babies that you don’t do with books…books don’t wear diapers. Books don’t cry…etc, etc.
Books don’t pee on you, poop on you, scream at you, yell at you, cry on you, ask why nobody likes them, ask you when they can drive, ask for an allowance, they won’t grow up and leave you, come back and hug you on the first day of school.
BOOKS AREN’T BABIES.
If I had to choose between writing and my children, my children will win. Every damn time.
Books are important and they are creative works that come from inside and yes, they can rip you apart.
You know what really rips you apart?
When somebody steals those words and tries to claim them for their own. That is why people are up in arms over the Stahl/Dusty/Sarah/Mary Elizabeth mess. Because a lot of us, writers and readers, get that Sarah and Mary Elizabeth invested time and heart into creating a story…and Stahl went and tried to claim it as her own. It isn’t her baby. It’s their story-and she stole it…allegedly.
I know how this feels. I’ve been there. Stahl, and everybody defending her, have absolutely no clue what it’s like.