The crazy that comes with plagiarism scandals


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.

It’s predictable.

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????


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.


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.

12 Replies to “The crazy that comes with plagiarism scandals”

  1. It’s extremely mind blowing to me. How common it is in the academic world these days ALSO blows my mind. The fact that so many undergraduate and graduate level students at extremely prestigious colleges cannot seem to identify plagiarism OR, apparently, understand why it’s wrong on EVERY level, makes me want to scream. Every college professor I know deals with this on a regular basis. Students deny it and then bring in their parents to threaten the professor because “even if I did steal it, I still did the assignment.” Really? We need to spend more time in our society teaching ethics and critical thinking.

  2. Love this, can´t believe how anyone can think that they can get away with plagiarism in our time, these things always gets exposed.
    So sad to see fanfic authors pulling their stories just to get away from plagiarizers, not realizing that the dates on their stories could be the only evidence of who´s the original SMH.

  3. ” They love these stories, they invested time and money and they want more…”

    They can have more, they don’t like “their’ author, they like all those authors she stole from.

  4. With each new plagiarism scandal, I get angry. If you want to be a writer, write your own book. If you can’t get published then maybe there is a reason. Hire and editor and figure out if there is a way to make your work better. Don’t steal from others!

  5. Up until lately fan fiction authors haven’t been taken seriously. With the ongoing debate about the ethics of P2P, we still aren’t. One thing that is undeniable is there’s a lot of talent emerging from the fan fiction community. Shey Stahl started out as a fan fiction writer. I remember her. I never read anything she wrote, but she obviously enjoyed my work. Since she also copied the summary from my new fic “Pickup Truck” and used it as her summary for “For the Summer,” I think it’s safe to say she’s a fan of mine. LOL.

    I’m not mad at her. I was shocked she had the nerve to do this to Sarah and myself, along with the other five or six authors, but it’s happened before. Never at this magnitude, but this isn’t the first time Dusty has been plagiarized.

    What I am disappointed about is her attitude. The first thing I did when this story broke was message her asking why. She flat out told me she was sorry I felt the way I did but she had never read Dusty.

    I may not be the smartest person on the planet, but I’m not a complete idiot. She treated me like one, though.

    Your article describes Shey and her fans perfectly. It’s sad that these people can read for themselves what she’s done but ignore it. And why? What has she truly done for her fans? Nothing. She lied to them. And where is she now? Nowhere to be found.

    Thanks for writing this. I appreciate the support.

  6. @mahala, lol… yeah, they can get more, but then they’d have to admit they were looking for it in the wrong place. They’d have to admit they were ‘supporting’ a liar. Maybe it’s a pride thing? I dunno.

    @Mary Elizabeth, I can’t really say I was mad when I was plagiarized, either…not up until she started trying to guilt me over her kids. She kept trying to put it up in other places and I told her via email if it persisted, I’d have no choice but to take legal action. She then started a sob fest about how if she went to jail her kids would have nobody, their father was a deadbeat and how could I do that to them? I didn’t do jack to them. She did it. Which I pointed out and I told her all she had to do was pull my work and never attempted to steal it again.

    Prior to that, I just felt…violated, mixed with a morbid sort of disgusted humor and pity. Because while she tried to twist up my stories and claim they were hers? She did it so very, very badly.

  7. “…the problem is what they want is more lies and they can’t see that. So they continue to defend.”

    I think this is SO true. I get the fans and their behavior; that admitting that this person did this is also admitting that they were the idiots who bought the idea she was an author. But at the end of the day, I think we need to remember that this is no one’s fault but this ‘author’. Period. She intentionally wanted to trick everyone and make money out of it. SHE is to blame and no one else’s and at this point, her fans need to accept this and move on. Just stop making a fool out of themselves defending the undefendable.

    I feel really sad for these fans, to be honest. I can’t believe they still stand up to an author who pretty much vanished without ever acknowledging that what she did was wrong. Right now, she’s letting others defend her, while she hides playing the victim of bullying. Really? Is this woman ten years old or something? Adults stand up for themselves, they face charges against them and either work to prove them wrong or admit THEY were wrong.

    This woman is no adult; she’s a child who is pouting because her favorite toy was taken from her.

    A stolen toy.

  8. This is the best write up I’ve seen about this issue.

    Duped is right. I would be quite upset with ANY author (my love for them be damned) that sold me a lie. Period.

    And this…. ” To blindly follow/love anybody means you refuse to see their flaws. This is a pretty huge flaw.” Is great!! It’s a life lesson.

  9. This is one of the greatest posts I’ve seen done on this matter. It’s crazy, as you’ve said, just how rampant plagiarism is lately. It seems like everywhere you turn, another case of it is popping up. And, again, like you’ve said, the whole path from after detection is the same, right on up to the author disappearing.

    It’s sad, it’s disrespectful, and most of all, it’s hurting the industry.

    I’m still a bit shocked that she managed to get not only an agent but a contract through a very respectable publisher. I wonder what’s going to happen now……obviously, unlike the others, with her established book list, she can’t completely disappear.

    What ever happened to integrity in today’s world????

  10. @DC, actually from some of the things I’m seeing, I’m not entirely sure there WAS a definitive contract with St. Martins. I saw screenshots that she had a legit agent, although she was removed from the client list. Maybe it was still being discussed? contracts can take weeks/months to hammer out. There’s no telling what really happened.

  11. “The latest scandal is about a fricking USA Today best seller, Shey Stahl. Apparently her books did so well, they landed her an agent…”

    Yeah. Kinda makes ya sick, don’t it?

    I guess she thought she was pretty much ‘entitled’ to pick and choose whichever free fiction she wanted to rip off. Amazing.

    This particular case of plagiarism sickened me–and still does (why I’m commenting so late, lol).

    I just wonder who’s gonna commit plagiarism the next time. Because, there will be a next time. As long as there’s lazy asses who want to take short cuts, there will always be ebooks filled with shit-grammar, typos and–ripped-off fan fic.

    And they’re not just giving other SPAs a bad name, they’re ripping off readers as well. How do they sleep at night? How do they look in a mirror? I know I couldn’t do it; I’d be so ashamed and feel so guilty… (before getting caught, I mean, not afterward)

    This kind of thing just irks me. Can’t help it. Won’t apologize for it.

    One more piece of advice to plagiarizing ‘authors’: grab a conscience, why don’tcha? I hear they’re on sale at Wal-Mart.

Comments are closed.