Friday, January 11, 2008



A long time historical author has been accused of the unthinkable. This should shake things up a bit. Even La Nora has eloquently spoken. I was checking e-mail tonight and a RWA Alert was posted. It was a second notice about RWA's standing toward a recent scandal hitting the press but it sounds as if the internet and blogosphere is where it all began.

In a succession of blog posts, you can see the controversy bud and then explode. Supposedly, even CNN, MSNBC, USA Today, New York Times and the AP have responded. SBTB details how they have compared passages from multiple books, multiple publishers written by historical romance writer Cassie Edwards, to identical passages she supposedly lifted from various published works. They've even tracked the plagiarism dating back to 1983. Apparently a big part of the controversy lies with the fact that Signet, the publisher, originally denied any illegal wrong doing and Ms. Edwards herself claimed to have done nothing wrong. The passages she copied were available for "fair use". But I guess now that Signet has had time to see the fallout from this, they've decided to investigate. In my case, the internet worked better than satellite. I hadn't heard anything of the debate until tonight.

SBTB notes that Signet has changed their POV. Hmmm. Really. La Nora even commented on SBTB with calm and class. But even I remember as far back as elementary school, it's considered plagiarism if you copy words verbatim and not site the source. Whether it's from historical research and non-fiction or fiction.

How does this affect us? Well...if people boycott Signet...what about the sales of innocent authors swept up in the tidal wave of bad press? What about Janet Dailey and her admission to plagiarizing Nora Roberts works in Ms. Dailey still writing?


Chicki said...

You beat me to it! I was going to blog about this on Monday...

When I got the RWA Alert, I went on Google to find any news stories about the issue. At first I thought Ms. Edwards had taken another writer's story, but this was research information they were talking about. It really started me thinking about the research for my stories from the Internet.

Recent case in point, in my Ch. 10 of HOT FUN Linda and Doc visit "Chicken Bone Beach" in Atlantic City. The history I used came from a web site, and I didn't really change it much. Rather than changing it, I think it will be safer to just include a credit at the back of the book.

This stuff is serious business and we have to be careful.

Chelle Sandell said...

On one of the posts it sounds like Ms. Edwards copied and pasted an entire Wikepedia (sp?) definition word for word and the reason they say nothing was illegal because it's there for "fair use" and doesn't have to be cited as source.

Angela Jefferson said...

Oops! I'm just checking out your blog. I didn't realize you'd blogged about this topic before bringing it up at RAH. Sorry!

Chelle Sandell said...

Thanks for coming by Angela! I didn't even think about you posting on RAH...I was glad you mentioned it. I'm very interested to see how it all plays out. What's stuck out the most for me...are the people that think it's unfair to persecute Cassie Edwards. Some people have spoken out in her defense without looking through the many books and the plagiarized passages, and without caring as to the impact this could have for all writers.