Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Foster Parenting

In the midst of my grumbling about plagiarism and dishonest behavior, it's nice to be able to stop for a minute and remember that there are people out there who are still honorable, honest, and sincerely altruistic.  One of those people is a friend and colleague of mine, Ben Pugh.  He and his awesome wife Deb have been foster parents for quite a while, and know a thing or two about caring for, and caring about children who have found themselves in the foster care system.  I want to share their website with you, which you can find here, and which has plenty of helpful tips about foster parenting for anyone who is interested in becoming a foster parent, or simply wants to know more about foster parenting.  Their book, How To Become A Foster Parent by Ben and Deb Pugh is available on their website, and is free to anyone who wants to read it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More on the Plagiarism Case!

Author David Farland posted this on his blog.  The plagiarist appears to be up to her old tricks.  This is, frankly, not surprising.  Someone posted on Rachel Nunes' blog, claiming to be a parent of one of the children whose names were used by the plagiarist, and threatening legal action.

Here is a copy of the comment:  "This blog post needs to be taken down. My child’s name has popped up on other blogs because of this. Google [Name Withheld] and things are still popping up. 'Redacting' is not enough. I will report you and discredit your investigation. God help you, especially if you are LDS and held to a higher standard."  

Interestingly, when Rachel contacted the parents, they denied having made the comment.  And when investigators tracked the computer's address, they, not surprisingly, traced it back to the plagiarist's own computer.

I have come to the conclusion that this plagiarist lacks a conscience.  She is not guided by a sense of right and wrong, she is guided by a sense of 'What can I get away with?'  Am I judging her?   Sure.  I'm using the brain God gave me to assess that this person's bad behavior is in fact, bad behavior.  It is not my job to determine this person's worth as a human being, but it is my right, in fact, my duty, to see that what she is doing is very wrong, and to understand with the brain I've got, that she will, shown by past behavior, repeat this behavior over and over again, until something outside of herself stops her.  She will not stop herself.  I have the obligation to know that.  As Rachel Nunes' friend, and as a writer who is a potential victim of the plagiarist because I am a writer, I have the right to know it.  Am I judging her?   Sure.  And I judge spades to be spades, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update on the Plagiarism Case

I confess, the story has continued to surprise me from the beginning.  Every time I think I can't be surprised by something regarding this situation, something comes up to prove me wrong.  Every new turn, from first hearing that Rachel was plagiarized, to the twists and turns and contradictory lies the plagiarist told, to discovering that she'd plagiarized Sgt. Chase Weston, to the fact that she used her own 8 year old students' names as sock puppets has continued to shock and surprise me.

Now, according to Donna K. Weaver's latest post here, the school where she taught the students whose names she used as sock puppets, has put the plagiarist on administrative leave .  The plagiarist, as I've said, used these sock puppets to boost her own ratings as well as to harass Rachel Nunes, and leave ad hominem reviews on Rachel's books. 

I hope that justice is done for everyone, and I hope, for the plagiarist's sake, that she learns something from this, and realizes that what she did, plagiarizing Rachel, plagiarizing a war veteran, and stealing her students' names was very wrong, and that stealing intelectual property (and the identities of her students) is not a victimless crime.  I hope she develops a conscience, and makes amends for what she did.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why Would Someone Plagiarize?

On Donna K. Weaver's blog here, Ms. Weaver made a very interesting comment that I have been wondering about myself. 

What makes someone with a Master's degree who has been an elementary school teacher for decades, do something equivalent to breaking into someone's house, and take something very precious to him or her, and claim it as her own?  Then, adding to that, deny that she's done anything wrong, and cast blame elsewhere?

In her comments, Ms. Weaver said "I wonder if she had any idea when she stole these what the impact would be on the real authors."  That is something that I have wondered and wondered myself. 

I thought about that for a while myself, and while I am no expert, these are my thoughts that I wrote in response to Ms. Weaver's comment:

-I've been wondering that myself. The whole situation from the first time I heard about it from Rachel is horrifyingly fascinating.

First of all, I doubt that [the plagiarist's] the kind of person who would break into someone's house and physically steal things. (Of course, I hesitate to say that. This woman sinks to new lows almost every time I log on.) Yet she seems to have no qualms about taking a person's very real intellectual property and trying to pass it off as her own.

She can't claim that she was ignorant or naïve. She is over forty, and has a Masters. She knew what she was doing.

Personally, I think what was going through her head, was that she wasn't hurting anyone. She thought she would not get caught, and the real authors wouldn't be hurt, because they'd never know. She probably thought the same thing about her young students. They were eight years old; they wouldn't be navigating the internet for many years, and certainly wouldn't be going to amazon and goodreads at least until they were teenagers. She probably thought that "borrowing" their names to boost the popularity of an erotic romance would not hurt them personally. (Again, her thoughts, not mine!) She was successful, for a short time, in stealing from Sgt. Weston. In her mind she probably justified it, because she took a small piece from him, and not the whole book. Then, I think, she got bold, and took pretty much the whole book from Rachel, thinking all the while, that Rachel's audience and her own audience are two completely different groups of people who would never overlap, and thus, she'd never get caught.

But then she did get caught.

She knew she was in trouble then, because if she'd been honestly mistaken, she wouldn't have gone to such effort to duck and dodge and hide, and throw blame this way and that, and shield herself with her army of sock puppets while weaving more and more elaborate lies.

I don't think she really comprehended when she started doing all this, how badly she would hurt people, but I think that it's only because she didn't let herself think about it. If she had sat herself down and forced herself to think about it, I think she would have understood that stealing someone's story (especially a terribly traumatizing true life story) and trying to pass it off as her own would hurt that person if he found out about it. But again, she fooled herself into believing that she'd never be caught.

So far, I haven't seen any remorse from her in any of her comments. All I've seen are vicious attacks, casting blame elsewhere, and firm denials. I can only hope that she can get to a point where [she] realizes that using her little students' names as sock puppets really was an extremely bad thing, that she sees Rachel Nunes and Sgt. Weston as real people who have been deeply hurt by what she's done, not faceless entities on the internet, and fully comprehend the very real damage that she's done.

I do not envy her. For her to make up for what she's done, she needs to face herself. And to fully face herself right now, with all that she's done, would be excruciating.-

Friday, September 12, 2014

Heaven Help Us All... What Lows Will She Stoop To Next?

I was reading on Rachel Nunes' blog here, an open letter from Lilah Weston, the wife of Sgt. Chase Weston from whose personal life story, Terror In A Cloud Of Dust was stolen by the plagiarist whom I have mentioned before.  (I choose not to say her name, because I am so repulsed by her actions that I simply choose not to, and just refer to her as "the plagiarist".  Enough people know her name already, and I needn't say it.)  I was sickened for Mrs. Weston's sake, and her husband's.  His personal experience had been stolen and cheapened.    And from what the plagiarist wrote about what she stole from him, she seemed unrepentant and unbending, unwilling to admit she had stolen, even when the evidence was glaringly obvious.  But what I learned a few minutes later, made me even more... I don't even know the word... repulsed, furious, disgusted... those words pale compared to the feeling I felt when I realized I had not yet learned of the depths the plagiarist is willing to sink to. 
I learned, reading another fellow writer, Donna K. Weaver's blog, that many of the sock puppets the plagiarist used to boost her own reviews and harass Rachel Nunes and bloggers who stood up for her, were the names of her own 8 year old students.  Children.  Children!  Young learners who trusted her, and depended on her!  Their names were stolen and used to say things the plagiarist didn't dare to say with her own name, or pen name.  They are as much victims as Rachel Nunes, or Sgt. Weston.  And they are children!

Plagiarizing a wounded veteran... plagiarizing a reputable author... using young children's names as sock puppets...

As I said on Donna Weaver's blog, what new lows will she stoop to?  Dare I even think?  Heaven help us all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Jaw Dropped... More Calous Plagiarism

Trying to keep abreast of my friend Rachel Nunes' battle against plagiarism, I checked back on Mr. John Doppler's blog, which I referenced below.  I was shocked to find out that the plagiarist had not only stolen from Rachel, but of all people, she had also stolen from a war veteran.  A veteran, of all people!  Glory be!  As I mentioned in the title, my jaw dropped. 

The plagiarist's first "book" was stolen from the real life experiences of Sgt. Chase Weston, who was wounded in combat, in Iraq.  Please visit Mr. Doppler's blog here to read more about it.

My brother served in Iraq, and if any of his personal stories were stolen to line someone's pockets, I would be furious.  But like Mr. Doppler said, it is important to exercise restraint, and remember that justice is in the hands of the court.  Not us.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Thief In The Night: Plagiarism....Don't do it!!!

I want to take a little while and talk about plagiarism and the serious consequences of it. Not just to the plagiarists, (though those consequences are very severe) but to the authors of the original works as well.
The reason why I want to address blatant plagiarism, the act of stealing someone else's work, words, ideas, plot etc. and trying to make people believe they're yours, is because a friend of mine, Rachel Ann Nunes, is currently going through a nightmare of emotional stress and legal expenses because one of her works was plagiarized. The other person took a book that my friend wrote back in the late nineties, changed the point of view from third person to first, changed a few other things, added some steamy sex scenes, and then tried to pass the work off as her own. Other than those minor changes, the whole plot and story and most of the wording were Rachel's. By the time it was discovered, it was actually up for sale in the U.K. However, several bloggers who had been sent the plagiarizing book recognized similarities between it and the real story and contacted the actual author. When Rachel contacted the plagiarist, hoping that everything was just a misunderstanding and wanted to just clear things up, the plagiarist offered a series of increasingly mind-boggling lies and threats in a futile attempt to intimidate my friend and deflect blame elsewhere. When those didn't work, she turned to several sock puppets (up to 20 of them) to leave harsh, ad hominem reviews on Rachel's published works, and to discredit and bash the bloggers who had stepped in to help Rachel uncover the plagiarism.
It didn't work.
Despite having a pen name, which she tried to hide behind, and many sock puppets, she was traced and her real name found out.
The plagiarist is now being held accountable for her dishonesty. She may, if convicted, face a fine of up to 150,000 U.S.D. She also will have to face other consequences as a result of her treatment of Rachel and the bloggers, her attempts to discredit them, hurt their professional and personal reputations, her choice to lie rather than come clean about her behavior, and other dishonest things she did (for one, using her sock puppets to dishonestly inflate her own ratings).
This doesn't take away the fact that Rachel and the bloggers who stood up for her, have suffered from this woman's false accusations to say nothing of the original act of plagiarism. Still, holding her accountable will hopefully stop her and other would-be plagiarists from victimizing other people in the future.
And make no mistake. Plagiarism is not a victimless crime.
John Doppler said: "To an author, there are few crimes more heinous than plagiarism. Every author knows the agony of the untold story, the grueling birth of a novel, the joy of finally bringing that creation into the world and holding it up for all to see.
Having that joy stolen from you is an unspeakable cruelty." (Doppler, 2014)
Rachel has said that discovering this plagiarism was like having someone break into her house and steal something very precious to her. I can only imagine how violated a victim of plagiarism would feel. And I certainly don't want to know the feeling first hand.
John Doppler also said: "(Name Withheld) proudly portrays herself as an indie author… but indie authors are a supportive community. They don't prey on their fellow authors. They don't cannibalize their family.
They don't steal each other's work." (Doppler 2014).
I like to think that most people out there are honest, ethical people who would not dream of doing what this plagiarist did. Unfortunately, it only takes one dishonest person to ruin things for everyone else.
I don't want what happened to Rachel happen to any ethical, hard working author.
Again, my personal belief is that most people are ethical and honest. But in regards to plagiarism, here is some advice that everyone can benefit from:
Don't do it.
You can read more about this situation here , here , or the link below.
Doppler, John. Prose and Cons: A Plagiarist Faces the Judge. The John Doppler Effect, 2 September 2014. Web. 6 September 2014.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

United! Box Set eBook

I am pleased to announce that Teyla Branton (One of Rachel Ann Nunes' pen names) Andrea Pearson, Stephanie Fowers, Frank Morin, Debra Efert, and Kathleen Marks are each selling one of their books together as a boxed set.  All of them are in the fantasy genre, (one of my favorites) and they all sound really exciting!  You can read all about these books here!  They've been donated by their authors to help support Rachel Nunes in her case against a plagiarist who stole her book, Love to the Highest Bidder, also called Bid for Love, changed a few words, added steamy sex scenes, and then tried to pass it off as her own work.  I was floored when I found out that this person was an educated professional who should have known better.  It makes me scared for my own work, and for the work of other reputable authors.  I hope that after this, would be plagiarists will see that honest authors are united and support each other, and I hope that these folks think twice before stealing someone else's stories.