Skip to main content

I Just Don't Get It

As someone who reads a lot and hopes to be a published writer someday, I have a lot of respect for anyone who can do it successfully.  What I don't respect is plagiarism.  That's not writing.  That's stealing.

Many people claim that it is the lazy way out, but I don't think it is lazy at all.  I think that it has to be hard as hell to plagiarize things.  First, you have to have an idea of what you want your book to be about.  Next, you have to find a book that you like and that is somewhat successful (but not too successful, since you don't want to get caught).  Last, you have to make some necessary changes to the story--character/town names, move some words around so it doesn't sound too familiar, maybe even the gender of the characters.  That's exactly what Laura Harner did in at least two of her books.  Harner, of course, screwed up the second step.  She got caught--twice.  Jenny Trout brought Harner's deception to light earlier this week.

The first book that Harner is accused of plagiarizing is Becky McGraw's My Kind of Trouble, a straight romance about a woman getting back together with her first love 10 years after leaving him behind.  Not only did she take the book and call it her own, she also lifted the cover copy, which is nearly identical to the cover copy for the McGraw book.

The very next day, Trout posted about another book that Harner plagiarized: Riding Steele by Opal Carrew.  This was also an M/F that Harner turned into an M/M called Deuce Coop (I wonder if he was a Little Deuce Coop).  According to Jezebel, a total of 10 books have been pulled from Harner's catalogue and are no longer being offered, causing many to wonder if they were all plagiarized too.  One of the first things that Ms. Trout noticed is that Harner has allegedly written 15 books a year since 2010, which is more than a book a month.  Unless, they're all 50 pages or less, I find it hard to believe that anyone could legitimately write, edit, and revise that many books in that amount of time.

This all makes me wonder why.  Why would someone want to plagiarize?  I remember the first time I heard that term.  It was in my junior year English class and one of the other girls submitted a paper without citing or even placing quotes around anything.  My teacher at the time, Mr. Marcus, explained to her that what she did, knowingly or not, was plagiarism and could get her into a lot of trouble.  Over the years, I've been exposed to the idea of plagiarism over and over again, especially when I was in college.  One professor even spoke about having students plagiarize her notes on one of her tests.  I don't think I ever considered that it could be a real world problem until the whole Cassie-gate thing back in 2008.  I was too young and not at all into reading when Janet Dailey plagiarized Nora Roberts and I even read one of her books before finding out about it.  Maybe I just figured that it was too petty for adults to do it, but as I've gotten older, I've realized that adults can be just as petty as teenagers and college students.  Hell, I had to stop my aunt from keying someone's car because he took her parking space.  Apparently, that was the Brooklyn thing to do.

People are hedonistic.  We're hardwired to do the thing that will bring us the most pleasure for the least amount of consequences.  If we think the risk is less than the reward we'll get if we do what we want, chances are we're going to do it.  That's just human nature.  I like to think that most of us would choose to do the right thing and usually we do.  With plagiarism, there isn't that much risk.  There's very little consequence involved, unless copywrite has been violated and even then noting much happens.  Janet Dailey and Cassie Edwards still have books out there, so they're both receiving royalties when they didn't do the actual work.  Personally, I think that plagiarism is worse than any other kind of theft.  It is thought theft.  A plagiarist is literally taking someone else's thoughts, manipulating them, and calling them their own.  That's wrong, but right now there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Throwback Review: The Dream Trilogy by Nora Roberts

There are some books that stick with you no matter how long it has been since you first read them.  For me, the Dream Trilogy has always been in the back of my head.  I probably read them a good 15 years ago and the last time was a good 10 years back.  As a matter of fact, that trilogy was part of the first round of books I purchased when I got my first kindle for my 24th birthday (I never actually read it after buying the digital version; I guess I just needed to know that I could read them if I wanted.


The first book of the trilogy, Daring to Dream, was released in 1996 when I was just 10 years old and more concerned with passing math (I did, but not without many a night of struggling to remember what the E in PEMDAS meant) than I was with the goings on of fictional characters inside the pages of a book.  In fact, if I read at all during that time period it was to get a free pan pizza through Pizza Hut and the Book It! program.  I've mentioned this a few times before, but I act…

Review of "Bay of Sighs" by Nora Roberts

A couple of months ago, I volunteered to read Stars of Fortune, the first book in Nora Roberts's Guardian Trilogy for the Smart Bitches RITA Reader Challenge because ParaNoras are my crack.  If they were illegal, I'd be serving a life sentence for possession/intent to sell a controlled substance.  Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of book 1, but I'd already requested Bay of Sighs, so I felt the need to read it too.  Plus, I liked the idea of a mermaid heroine -- one whose name was not Ariel.  I really wish I resisted reading this.  It was awful.  It took everything I hated about SoF and magnified it to the level that I wasn't able to finish it.

Annika is a mermaid, sent to "the shore up above" to stop an evil goddess from getting the Stars of Fortune.  Together with the five other guardians, she must search for the stars and protect them.  Afterwards, she must return to the sea, which wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for Sawyer King...

Sawyer has be…

Review of "Sleepless in Manhattan" by Sarah Morgan

I bought this book with the intention of reading it on a plane from San Francisco to New York City last weekend.  Of course I read about 30% before even stepping foot onto the plane and once I was actually on it, I read maybe 5%, listening to the most recent Smart Bitches podcast and watching a few episodes of Charmed on Netflix because I had an awful night sleep the evening prior and was too tired to read.  I finally sat down to read it Sunday and Monday night.

Paige Walker has lived a sheltered life, brought low by a heart condition that had her in and out of the hospital until her late teens, but now in her late 20's she's finally healthy and happy.  She loves her life in Manhattan.  She'd felt stifled in her hometown of Puffin Island and as soon as she was able she moved to New York with her best friends, Eva and Frankie, as well as her older brother, Matt.  On the verge of a promotion at work, she figures she's got it all, but then the rug is pulled out from unde…