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I’ve had, for the most part, a really great week.  All the reviews sites I queried about doing a review of my book asked for an ARC or PDF file and they’ve been sent–whew!–I’ve been working on the second book of my series–yay!–I’ve gotten most of my spring cleaning done–yuck!–I started a new short story, this one with a ghost as the main character–fun!–I finally went to the library and got a library card–’bout time!–and while I was there I talked to the head librarian about doing an “Afternoon with the Author” this fall after my book comes out–woo-hoo!

Like I said, a great week, except the Red Sox have been in a bit of a slump and they’ve slipped into second place behind Tampa Bay–yes, Tampa Bay!–in the AL East.  But the Yankees are tied for last place, which is never a bad thing.  But, my boys are back at home now, and they almost always play better at Fenway.

And Manny…ah, my man Manny seems to be having the time of his life.  In fact, as he puts it, “This is a game — you’ve got to go enjoy it and have fun.”

Truer words, and all that.

The thing is…if more people would live by those words, I think the world would be a better place for all of us.  Too many people spend their life filled with hate, bitter about the way the world is treating them and doing their best to cause other people pain.  I ran up against one of those people this week and I admit, I was really pissed at this person at first.  It took a full day of agony and frustration, not to mention a lot of house work, before I realized I needed to just forget about it and get on with my life.

Or as Manny says, enjoy it and have fun.  So, that’s what I’m going to do!

Thanks Manny!  

P.S.  Congrats on number 498!  And that double play last night–oh, baby, that was a thing of beauty!  I found myself wishing I was the fan in the stands you jumped up and high-fived.  Then again, it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t because I would’ve grabbed hold and never let go!  You know how it is with us rabid fangirls! 

 

Okay, so I thought the Cassie Edwards thing had pretty much faded out of the limelight, but something happened over the weekend that stirred it up again.  Another romance author was heard from, posting some totally irrelevant comments on her blog and challenging Nora Roberts’ right to speak about the whole plagiarism issue.  I have to tell you, that was a real WTF moment for me.  I mean, come on, every romance author out there knows that Roberts was a victim of plagiarism and that alone earns her the right to give her opinion on this whole sorry mess.

But it’s not just the people who have been a victim who should speak up, it’s  all of us.  When Ms. Roberts said plagiarism hurts every author, not just the one being stolen from–sorry for the paraphrase, I don’t have time to go back and look up the exact comment–I wanted to stand up and cheer!

Because she’s right!  Plagiarism does hurt all of us in one way or another.  I know this whole thing has hit me on a number of levels.  And I admit, the ones that are really getting to me, are the personal ones.  Like the fact that I’m currently in edits on a book which is based on a Native American legend and I wasted three hours the other day re-reading my research and comparing it with the words I wrote in a scene where my main characters discuss the legend–and driving myself totally apeshit in the process!  There’s also the fact that my writing focus has shifted in the last year and now I seem to include a Native American element in all my stories as Ms. Edwards did in most of hers, making me worry about comparisons–which will likely never come.

My personal feelings aside, I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Roberts.  Plagiarism is wrong and when an author chooses to sink to that level, every single one of us should have the courage to shout it from the rooftops.  And I don’t care who the guilty party is, just as I don’t care that Ms. Edwards is a grandmother or that she’s a skilled violinist–which should give you an idea of the irrelevance of this latest author rant.  I mean, WTF does that have to do with anything?–or how many books she’s sold.  Whatever she is and how ever many books she’s sold, the fact remains, she’s a thief.  There is, in my mind, no valid excuse for that!

The thing is…beyond the lame-ass excuses for why she did what she did, there are a lot of people out there shrugging this off and wishing everyone would shut up and move on to something else, but I’m sorry, I just can’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point.  This is something that will be with me for the rest of my life, especially the rest of my life as an author.  Because I believe as an author, it’s my words that define me.  They’re mine, they come from my heart, my brain, my imagination.  The fact that I’ve written them down and choose to share them with others doesn’t give anyone the right to take them away from me.  It’s as basic as that.

So, a note of thanks to Nora Roberts for standing up and saying what needed to be said and showing me what it means to have the courage of your convictions.  And to Cassie Edwards, Janet Dailey, and all the people out there who are trying to convince us that this issue isn’t worth getting worked up over, a hat-tip for reminding me of how important honor and integrity are to me.

And speaking of hat-tips, a huge wave of mine to the New England Patriots and the New York Giants for the awesome play-off games yesterday.  Congrats!  

Yesterday I said I would post my thoughts today on the Cassie Edwards plagiarism issue, so here we go…

But first, a warning, this has generated a lot of different feelings in me, so this post may at times veer into rant territory, but these are my opinions and I stand by them.

Feeling number one–astonishment.  This woman is a multi-published, best-selling author.  Why would anybody who’s written over a hundred books feel the need to steal from other authors?  There have been a slew of answers to that question and I’m not going to include them all here.  Suffice it to say, there are some I agree with, and some I disagree with, but since I’m not Cassie Edwards, I’m not going to venture to say why she did it.  The fact is she did it, and now she’s paying for it.

Feeling number two, sympathy.  I’d hate to be in her shoes right now…but sympathy can only go so far.  She brought this on herself and she needs to stand up and deal with it, which leads me to feelings number three, four, and five; disbelief, laced with disgust and cynicism–all of them coming from the teacher side of me.  Ms. Edwards claims she didn’t know what she was doing was wrong.  How could she not know?  One of the first things we’re taught in school is not to copy off of someone else’s paper.  Beyond that, one of the first things we’re taught in life is not to steal.  Those lessons are usually closely followed by the one about taking responsibility for our actions.  Pleading ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no excuse.  I could go on and on about this, but I think it’s enough to say, she was wrong, she knows it, and she’s not willing to stand up and admit her guilt–which pretty much wipes out that small flash of sympathy I felt before. 

The next feeling is one of…um, I suppose you could call it identifying with her to a certain degree.  Like her, I write romance, and also like her, I’m part Native American.  My great-great-great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee and if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m what some people call a Twinkie.  I’m proud of my heritage, despite the fact I have no documentation to prove it, and many of my stories have a strong Native American element woven into them.  Unlike Ms. Edwards, I’m not a history buff, so I don’t write historicals.  I also don’t “borrow” passages verbatim from books I’ve read as part of my research.  Added to that, I would never, never include the word “savage” in one of my titles.  I haven’t read any of her books, but judging by her titles alone, they are offensive and stupid–like I said, my blog, my opinion!  She claims she’s proud of her Native American heritage and yet she uses the word savage in a great many of her titles.  I wouldn’t call that proud, I’d call it insulting.

So, there you have it, a few of the feelings this situation has generated in me, but the thing is…the one emotion that’s been circling over and over in my brain, superseding all the rest is worry.  Yes, worry.  Perhaps it’s egotistical of me, but I’m concerned about how people are going to view my next book when it comes out because it’s based on a Cherokee legend and has several Cherokee characters.  Will they read the blurb, put it back on the shelf and say, “Another Cassie Edwards, I wonder if she’s a plagiarist too?”  And if some day, I’m lucky enough to have one of my books accepted by a big NY publisher and it actually sells a few copies, are people going to pick it up and start googling like mad?

I don’t kid myself, I know the odds of that happening are astronomical, but this whole thing has touched off an inner debate in me about writing.  Should I stop writing about my Cherokee ancestors?  Am I, as some Native American people are saying about Ms. Edwards, just using them to further my writing career?  Is it stealing when I read a legend and it creates a spark for a story?  And even, should I just quit writing altogether?

I guess you know how that last one makes me feel.  It pisses me off, but still…as we’ve all seen from the Cassie Edwards thing, writing is a tough business and every author out there needs to police what they do and make sure their i’s are dotted and their t’s are crossed.  Is it worth it?  Of course it is, if only for the feeling I get whenever a publisher writes and says they like my story and would like to publish it.  Or when someone reads something I’ve written and tells me how much they liked it.  And besides, I’ve never found anything else I enjoy as much.  So, I’ll continue on, all the while doing my best and never forgetting the lessons I’ve learned from this whole messy Cassie Edwards thing. 

And Ms. Edwards, I have a suggestion for you, go to the library and check out Robert Fulghum’s All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  There are a lot of valuable life lessons in there that will benefit anybody, no matter how old they are and no matter how many mistakes they’ve made.  If I were you, I’d pay particular attention to the one about afternoon cookies and milk followed by a nap–maybe that will make this all a little bit easier to bear. 

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams