Writing is a tough business these days.  Bad enough that we pour our sweat and blood into a manuscript, but now we have to contend with the deadly Auth/Ed/Pub-Stupiditis virus which has infected the publishing industry and seems to be growing at a rapid pace.  The symptoms are many and varied, but for a lot of us, they include a sharp rise in blood pressure, nausea, and an inexplicable urge to pound your head against the nearest hard surface.

Not sure where or when it started–perhaps as long ago as the Janet Dailey plagiarism case or maybe with James Frey and his infamous memoir that wasn’t really a memoir.  Recently we’ve had the Cassie Edwards thing to make us beat our heads against a wall and now, in the past week we’ve had two–count ’em, two!–more cases of Auth/Ed/Pub-Stupiditis, real head-bangers that have me  wishing for a motorcycle helmet, a large bottle of Tylenol Extra-Strength, and a fifth of Jack Daniels to wash it down.

Head-banger #1 –  “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years” by Misha Defonseca (real name, Monique De Wael).  This one’s been around for a while, was published internationally and even made into a movie in France.  Turns out, the whole story is a complete and total fake, a fantasy according to Ms. Defonseca, who was outed this past week.  She did, at least, have the grace to admit she was wrong and apologize.

Head-banger #2 – “Love and Consequences” by Margaret B. Jones (real name, Margaret Seltzer) about growing up a half-white, half-Native American foster child in South-Central Los Angeles.  Not a word of which was true.  She too, was outed this past week, in part by her sister–and, oh, the mind boggles at the family feud that one’s going to spark.  Ms. Jones/Seltzer admitted the book was a total fabrication and offered up the excuse of doing it to give a voice to people who aren’t usually heard.

So, my question for the publishers and editors is what the hell were you thinking?  I mean, that first one alone would’ve had my radar pinging like mad.  Come on now, a young girl survives for four years in the woods during the Holocaust by living with a pack of wild wolves who adopted her and kept her safe?

*eyes rolling madly as head connects with wall again* 

And for the authors, did you really think you would get away with it?  Are you that insulated in your own little world that you forgot about the Internet and all those search engines out there just begging for some computer whiz-kid to come along and Google your name?

*deep breath*  At least it’s not plagiarism.  

The thing is…like with the Cassie Edwards thing and the fact that her books are still being offered for sale, I don’t know who to be more pissed with on this one; the authors for trying to dupe their readers or the editors/publishers for being blinded by all those dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes.

That one’s a toss-up, but the thing that really ticks me off is the thought of all those struggling writers out there–myself included–who would do just about anything to make it as an author…

except lie, cheat and steal.  I’d say we need to re-think our priorities, but I’m not willing to sacrifice self-respect for a few dollars.  And God knows, if anyone out there wants my fifteen minutes of fame, I’ll gladly give it to you.  I don’t really want it, I just want to write my stories and maybe, maybe make a few pennies to drop in my piggy bank…I’m saving up for that bottle of Jack Daniels!

I have a feeling I’m going to need it before this is over.

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