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Monday Midday Links: YA Blogger Plagiarizes,KFed’s Aunt Publishes Brittany Spears RPF

No deals today. Hasn’t your wallet suffered enough damage from the Johanna Lindsey backlist bonanza? No, okay.  Samhain is offering 30% off.  You can pick up Love is a Battlefield by Tamara Morgan or Once Upon a Dream by Jennifer Archer.

The first story is a sad one.

Update x 2:  Kristi, the Story Siren, has emailed me with the following statement:

I am very sorry for the trouble that all of this has caused the book blogging community. I also apologize for my actions and will work harder to be a better and stronger blogger. I have answered on my on blog as well and am sorry that I was unavailable due to work during the day and seemed unresponsive.

I asked her about her blog post and she said she did not mean it to sound like a non apology at all.

Updated: The Story Siren has a blog post up which she titles an “explanation and an apology” wherein she starts out with “Please don’t take my silence on this issue until now as an admission to anything.” and ends with “My biggest worry was the authors and publishers that I host.” In between are some words like “I was accused of doing something that I am vehemently against, and intentionally or not, I know that there will be consequences.” and “After the accusations were brought to my attention I was appalled. I would never do something like that. That is NOT me. I thought that I did everything that I could do, to make the situation right.”

A group of four bloggers noticed in January of 2012 that six posts of their work had been lifted and reused, without attribution, on a large YA blogger’s site. The first blogged about it here. While the bloggers do not come out and state the name of the blogger, there are enough clues such as it is a YA book blogger, one who wrote about plagiarism on her own site, whose site template looks like this with to connect the alleged plagiarist with The Story Siren.

Screenshot from Grit & Glamour

Story Siren site

What is troublesome is that the plagiarist first denied that any plagiarism occurred because she had not ever visited the original content creators sites.

“In all honestly, I have never been to your blog or any of the blogs mentioned in this email until tonight when I cross referenced the posts that you had listed. I rarely if ever read blogs beyond the book blog community. But I could not agree more with your assessments of the posts. And I am sorry to say that I have no viable explanation. I even searched my web history to see if perhaps I had read the posts and had recalled them as I was writing my own.”

The original content creators identified her IP address which showed that she had been on their sites as recently as January. The plagiarist then offered an apology claiming that it was done unknowingly and requested that the matter be kept a secret.

As I mentioned in my email earlier I would never do something to jeopardize what has taken me years to build. I understand that this was a very frustrating situation for you, but I don’t know how taking that away from me is going to improve the situation. What I did was wrong, knowingly or not and I apologize for that. I’ve tried to be as obliging as possible and in turn, I’m hoping that you will allow this to stay private.

The plagiarist did delete the posts and rename the tips on book blogging page.  These bloggers are outside of the book blogging community which probably explains why the matter stayed off the book community radar.  However, someone anonymously commented here and Katiebabs noticed it.

Kristi of the Story Siren has not commented on this issue.

Here’s what I would do if I had plagiarized and someone noticed it. I would immediately apologize to the victim. I would ask if they wanted me to keep up the post with a link or delete it entirely.  I would then post a public apology stating I had done wrong; how I think it happened; and what I will do to prevent it from occurring again.

“Several romance authors have gotten together to launch a brand designed to help readers find “high-quality self-published works.” This brand is called Rock*It Reads, and you’ll be able to identify Rock*It Reads books by the logo on the cover. You can see it on Mia Marlowe’s cover at right, in the upper right corner. In addition, the authors are launching a column, Love Rocks, at the B&N website (it starts Monday!) that will highlight great romances and initiate conversation about self-pubbed romances as well as traditionally published”

“While many folks may consider the epic romance of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline worthy of becoming a novel, no one has taken the initiative to pen such a tome … until now. It turns out that Federline‘s aunt, a woman named Diane Story, is an aspiring author who self-publishes her own e-books. And from the look of her official website, it doesn’t seem like she is very successful … but all of that could change. Story has written a book titled Pop Baby: Krissy Doucet that appears to be based on the failed Spederline love affair. Interested? Click below to learn more.”

“First off – and I include this only because it deserves to be said – history is more complex than a fantasy novel. The Middle Ages, for all their many faults, also included Moorsh Spain where religious tolerance and civilization flourished. Women in the 14th century England could own property and accumulate wealth. The argument that “it was really like that” assumed that there’s a singular “it” that can be applied. There’s not. That alone should be enough to stop this rhetorical strategy, but it’s not the part of the argument that actually chafes me, so put it aside and let’s pretend for a while that there was only one homogenous Middle Ages. And let’s say that from the fall of Rome to the Enlightenment was one long uninterrupted stream sexual subjugation, racial hatred, rape, and plague. It wasn’t, but let’s pretend.”

“But even if a judge eventually rules against them, it’s heartening to see publishers—the people who actually know how to curate, edit, design, and care for books in ways Amazon just doesn’t or won’t—counterattacking for a change.”

“It’s fun because it’s easier to read to dogs than humans. They don’t interrupt, unless they bark because they have to go to the bathroom,” said eight-year-old Marissa.

She and her brother said coming to the library to read to the dogs is a special treat, since they don’t have one at home.”

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

39 Comments

  1. Linda Hilton
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:13:31

    Re Diane Story — According to an Amazon review of her The Overlander’s Bride, Ms Story does not like being referred to as ‘self-published’ any more than Kim Strickland. She replied to a negative review with “”The Overlanders Bride” is not Self-Published. It was published with Whiskey Creek Press. A reputable Publisher. And yes, the pub date is 2004. The book was just offered as a free review today. As a gift to my valued readers.”

    I’m just lookin’ out for ya, Jane. I don’t want you to be accused of libeling someone again! ;-)

    (Feel free, of course, to call me self-published any time you like. I consider it a compliment!)

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  2. Danielle Monsch
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:24:00

    Oh come on! Why are you not ripping this plagiarist blogger a new one and telling everyone to stay far, far away?

    How can you not know that you plagiarized someone? Remember that author (Manning?) and her excuse at first – how she must have downloaded those stories a long time ago and coming across them many years later, she just thought they were stories she forgot about? You guys (rightfully) ripped her a new one. Why is this situation different?

    If you are a plagiarist – you suck. I don’t care if you are an author or a blogger. There is no coming back from it. There is no, “I’ll do things differently in the future.” You should just be crossed of the to-be-followed list and never heard from again.

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  3. Sarah
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:24:32

    Okay, I think I’m just a tad confused on the plagiarism thing but it looks like The Story Siren is the plagiarist?? Seriously?? If so, cause wow, she is a big name in the YA blogging community. I wouldn’t be surprised since I’ve noticed her site has really gone down hill but wow.

    And then she wants it to remain private. Wow, just lost all respect for her.

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  4. ReadingPenguin
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:32:44

    @Danielle Monsch:

    It might be possible to accidentally copy someone’s ideas or phrasing if you read their post and forgot about it. Copying an entire post with very few changes seems like something you could not do by mistake, though.

    Accidental or not, she owes a public apology. She owes more than that, but an apology would be a good start.

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  5. Charlie
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:37:24

    I am surprised to hear about the plagiarising, while I don’t follow the The Story Siren, I used to, so it’s sad to hear that someone with a lot of influence and good tips has in fact not written it all themselves.

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  6. Danielle Monsch
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:38:23

    @ReadingPenguin

    I’m an author myself, so I do get the “Fine Line” aspect. But from my reading of the article, in her own words she admits this was plagiarism, so I don’t see how that issue can come into play at all.

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  7. lorenet
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:39:04

    I tried to use the Samhain code yesterday (4/22), but it didn’t work. Are the going to honor it today?

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  8. ms bookjunkie
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:46:31

    @lorenet: It works today. There was a glitch or something so they’ve extended the date.

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  9. Roslyn Holcomb
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 12:54:06

    Am I the only one who gets a bit queasy at the thought of a Britney/K-Fed romance? Watching their relationship play out to its inevitable conclusion once was bad enough.

    As for the plagiarism issue, *shrugs* I’m not surprised even given the high profile of the alleged thief. Apparently the blogging community isn’t either given the delayed and comparatively mild response. It’s only a matter of time before the concept of intellectual property rights go the way of the poodle skirt, so what’s the big deal?

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  10. Jane
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:05:46

    @Linda Hilton – I was just quoting from the other blog. Her K Fed book is published through Siren, they of the “Scarlett and the Seven Longhorns” fame.

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  11. JoanneL
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:06:33

    Here’s what I would do if I had plagiarized and someone noticed it. I would immediately apologize to the victim. I would ask if they wanted me to keep up the post with a link or delete it entirely. I would then post a public apology stating I had done wrong; how I think it happened; and what I will do to prevent it from occurring again.

    Oh sure Jane, take the easy way out.
    It’s fairly simple to own up to our own mistakes but where’s the Drama? Where’s the Pity Me wank? Where are the multiple pleas for Understanding? Where are the Additional Lies?

    Please, it’s way too easy to simply apologize and try to fix the problem so that the victim is acknowledged and the offense rectified.

    (I hope it’s also easy for your readers to know that I’m being sarcastic about the latest plagiarist.)

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  12. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:08:33

    But even if a judge eventually rules against them, it’s heartening to see publishers—the people who actually know how to curate, edit, design, and care for books in ways Amazon just doesn’t or won’t—counterattacking for a change.

    Oh noes! The unwashed masses might get ideas we don’t want them to have.

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  13. MaryK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:16:07

    From the Rock*It article:

    All the books are 100% self-published works, done by each author on her own time. We’ve simply banded together to form Rock*It Reads to help our readers find other high-quality self-published works. We’re hoping the logo will be like a beacon or guide though the vast world of self-published romances.

    That could be dangerous to their individual reputations if they don’t have anybody vetting the stories that get the logo.

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  14. SAO
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 13:54:57

    The Rock-it thing sounds like a critique group doing some joint self-publishing. Many critique groups have careful vetting before letting in new members and if they’ve been in existence for a while, the skills of the group members might be well above the average self-published author. I can see this being one layer of vetting.

    However, I think it’s pretty hard to tell your critique group member that her latest is a clunker not worth even self-publishing. So, there’s a limit to how much better these books are going to be. On the other hand, best selling authors sometimes write clunkers and editors still publish them.

    To move on to the quote, “publishers {are} the people who actually know how to curate, edit, design, and care for books in ways Amazon just doesn’t or won’t;” I don’t know what the heck “curate” is. I really don’t care about the design (what is it anyway, cover or font?) as long as it is readable. That leaves editing and “caring.”

    Editors can be hired and it’s conceivable that a good critique group can produce an acceptable result. As for “caring,” all I want is a book *I* am going to care about and that is reading the slush pile so I don’t have to. There are many ways to achieve this. DA is one. I’m not sure how well a crit group would work, but it’s a possible.

    It’s certainly possible that agents or editors will develop stores within Amazon with their imprint, giving some degree of quality label. I’d be more likely to read a Jen Enderlin branded novel than a St. Martin’s Press branded novel.

    So, the Rock-it group is an interesting development. Every quality branding experiment in the self-pub universe is one more nail in the traditional publishers’ coffin. (I do think their notion of “curation” an interesting choice of words, as curation is what you do with a collection of fossils in a museum.)

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  15. HK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:00:55

    We have the ‘read to a dog’ time here at the local library and it was wonderful for my youngest. He insisted he wasn’t able to read all through 1st grade, but put him in front of one of those dogs and he’d read for hours to them.

    He never read to our dog at home, so I can only assume he felt he was doing the dogs at the library a favor of some sort. I never asked, I was just happy he’d read to someone. By 2nd grade, he was over the whole “I can’t read” thing and loves to read now.

    All libraries should get programs like that.

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  16. HelenB
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:02:36

    Publishers… who care about books. Wow I needed a laugh today.

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  17. Ridley
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:04:49

    I see Rock*It Reads counts Joan Swan among them. That’s pretty damning right there.

    /pass

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  18. Jane
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:08:02

    I think quality here means previously had a traditional NY publishing contract.

    ReplyReply

  19. MaryK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:12:05

    @SAO: I keep thinking of Dara Joy.

    ReplyReply

  20. janicu
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:22:47

    I never really followed The Story Siren’s blog, but I have visited it and I know how popular and well-respected she is in the YA blogging community, so, honestly – I really didn’t want this to be true, because who wants to see a well-known (and I think, well-liked?) book blogger go down in flames? Unfortunately, after spending time reading the post at Beautifully Invisible and comparing posts side by side, it looks to me that she did use the other bloggers’ posts as an outline for her own, and she did this six times, which is way too many to be coincidental.

    I feel like I don’t know what to say because I’m so shocked. She was NOT a new blogger who didn’t know better, AND she has written posts on plagiarism herself!

    I have a lot of respect for how she built up her blog and it’s a terrible thing that all that work is now completely undermined, and a lot of her readers are going to be disillusioned. BUT what she did was wrong, no question. She’s going to have to live with the fallout that this is going to bring.

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  21. SonomaLass
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:33:30

    @Jane: Jane, that’s what it sounds like to me, too. If that means these authors will be sure that their self-pubbed books get at least as much attention to things like editing, proofreading and cover art as traditionally published books, I suppose that has some meaning. I hope it means decent ebook formatting too; they’ll have to exceed the NY standard, though, to achieve that.

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  22. LG
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 14:35:35

    @HK: My mom’s library has a program like that, and it’s hugely popular. I think part of the appeal, even for kids who have pets at home, is that it’s dogs they’ve never seen before, so there’s a “new” and “special” aspect, in addition to the “it’s a dog and won’t judge you if you have problems with some of the words” aspect. It’s not just the kids who like the program, either. I know a few adults who make sure to arrange their library visits at the same time as the program, just so they can pet the dogs.

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  23. Jenny Lyn
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 15:26:19

    @Roslyn Holcomb

    No, you weren’t the only one. I think I might’ve thrown up in my mouth a little as I read that. I mean, their’s was such a “classy” love story after all. Wonder if it’ll end with the heroine shaving her head and beating someone up with an umbrella? There’s a reason WHY “no one has taken the initiative to pen such a tome until now”. And poor Jane is going to subject herself to reading it. She deserves a cookie or a good brain bleaching afterwards. But I have to be honest and say I’m looking forward to her review tremendously!

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  24. Susan
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 16:30:14

    @MaryK: I saw one author’s name on the Rock*It Reads list and just cringed since she wrote what I consider to be the very worstest, most terriblest romance I’ve ever read. So far.

    One of our local libraries has a successful Reading to Rover program. I think it’s wonderful. (I’ve tried Reading to Kitty at home, but he’s not an appreciative audience.)

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  25. Lynn S.
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 16:31:27

    Plagiarism. It’s the new black and it’s a blanket. For those with plagiaristic tendencies, maybe you should start your story, post, etc. with a warning header: This product may contain random and not so random acts of plagiarism. Proceed at your own risk and, although it is too late to apologize, consider it done.

    I think the rhetoric from New Republic and NY Magazine is trying to warn readers that their books will be unreadable, unmanageable, and might possibly turn them stupid if publishing is given over to the tender mercies of Big Bad Amazon and all those pesky authors, but the weak way it is being said smacks of desperation. Someone needs to go back and brush up on their rhetorical skills; come on, our friends in Ye Olde Publishing need something quotable if they plan to counterattack effectively. My take is that no matter how much the sheep bleat, the shearing will continue.

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  26. CK
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 16:42:19

    Am I the only one snickering at the brand or ‘stamp of high quality’ concept? That’s as useful as the author quotes on a bookcover. Or the answer to “Does this make me look fat?” from someone you’re sleeping with.

    Can I trademark the stamp, “Guaranteed orgasm!” ?

    As for the plagiarism, I don’t get it. How hard is it to say…I read this article/blog/tweet/smoke signal and they made these great suggestions? At worst, someone can complain that you reprinted w/o permission. Am I being naive? Are enough people getting away with it that the possible fallout is worth it?

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  27. Kelly (KKJ)
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 17:09:53

    @Susan:

    …what I consider to be the very worstest, most terriblest romance I’ve ever read. So far.

    Name and shame, please. I’ll need something to snark on after I’m done regurgitating Sable Hunter and Her Manly Men o’ Misogyny.

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  28. KZoeT
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 17:35:20

    I loved Abraham’s post “Concerning Historical Authenticity in Fantasy, or Truth Forgives You Nothing”, Jane. Thanks for sharing that. The comments about accuracy and authenticity, especially where women concerned, are really good.

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  29. Cindy
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 19:07:07

    Hmm, when I was a child, I used to read to our dog all of the time (I remember reading him Riki Tiki Tavi, in particular). *laugh* Several years ago, I had a cat who loved having Dr. Seuss read to her…she would just sit on my lap and listen. Boy did I get funny looks from the check out staff at the library (I didn’t have any kids).

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  30. Susan
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 19:08:33

    @Kelly (KKJ): It was Cheryl Holt’s Nicholas. I read the ebook with a notepad beside me writing down all the stuff that ticked me off until I finally had to give up. The things that annoyed me most were the historical inaccuracies, and I’m a fairly tolerant reader. I think a high school student could have done a better job. And the hero was a total DB. I’ve read plenty of atrocious romances, but this one really struck a nerve. On the other hand, this received five 5-star reviews on Amazon, so what do I know?

    Of course, I haven’t read Sable Hunter’s masterpiece, so I concede that it probably takes first place at the Sweet Jesus HoneyDews Bad Romance Awards Ceremony.

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  31. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 20:12:55

    Am I the only one who gets a bit queasy at the thought of a Britney/K-Fed romance?

    No. No, you are not. Gag.

    Re: plagiarism. I see on blogs ALL THE TIME a comment that the blogger can’t remember where s/he came across a thing they post (photo, quote, concept), and if anyone reading knows it or owns it to let him/her know and s/he’ll add the credits or take the piece down. It’s REALLY, REALLY not that freaking hard.

    Finally, publishing. I’ve spent the weekend following a blogsplosion about marriage as a civil right vs as a holy sacrament, and I’ve seen one too many arguments that comes down to a person having special, mystical knowledge about the subject granted by god, and that people whose eyes haven’t been opened by god can’t understand the words they read.

    Maybe publishing is the same kind of thing. Maybe one of these pundits with special knowledge about how to publish can explain to us heathens in a very condescending fashion that successful non-publishing publishers only THINK they’re successfully publishing, and what they’re really doing is something else and their books aren’t worthy of the title “book”. Maybe non-publisher books can be called civil media, or something.

    Wow. Apparently I’m grouchier about the whole thing than I thought I was.

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  32. Kelly (KKJ)
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:42:49

    @Susan:

    I just did the “Look Inside” on Amazon for Nicholas and zoomed in on the cover – it is me or is that man-titty kind of oddly Photoshopped?

    It looks like Ms. Holt could be a front-runner in the “Most Overwrought Use of a Thesaurus in a Mistorical” category: fraught, personage, aggrieved, paltry, gleaned, onslaught, inequity, egregiously, unfettered, draconian, relegated, antecedents…. All on the first two pages. Yowza.

    The two RT reviews featured under “Editorial Reviews” are for *other* books. Classy, huh?

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  33. Kelly (KKJ)
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:45:27

    @CK:

    Can I trademark the stamp, “Guaranteed orgasm!” ?

    I think I love you. Will you be my new best friend?

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  34. Jane George
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 22:02:56

    It’s possible that the failure of plagiarism was predicated on the failure to manage the growing demands of the blog. The pressure of keeping up with a high-traffic blog is no excuse for plagiarism. Guest bloggers are only too happy to provide fresh content to a high-traffic blog. I am sorry to see this happen.

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  35. Mike Weinraub
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 23:08:07

    I saw a link on Catherine Mann’s site that you have been plagiarized. This tool can help you project your content on the internet. http://www.copyscape.com/

    ReplyReply

  36. Kelly (KKJ)
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 23:15:50

    @Mike Weinraub:

    Thanks. Because plagiarizing is so much worse than spamming. Do you have anything to project against spam?

    ReplyReply

  37. Susan
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 15:12:38

    @Kelly (KKJ): To be honest, I never paid that much attention to the cover since I read the ebook. (Cover art just doesn’t register very much unless I’m holding a DTB in my hands.)

    If I recall from the notes I took at the time, a lot of words were actually used incorrectly, too. But there were so many things that irritated me: purple prose, incorrect usage of words, cheap and unrealistic plot devices, bad history/setting, one of the most despicable, unlikeable Hs from start to finish, etc. I’ve put most of it out of my mind. One of the few things I do remember was that the hero and his brother were wrongfully deprived of their true place in life at an early age and put in a workhouse–or something like that, the details elude me now. But they end up joining the army and become high-ranking officers. Because that happened a lot during that time period–lowly enlisted men being promoted on merit rather than “gentlemen” buying their commissions, right?

    I hadn’t read a Cheryl Holt book in years, and Nicholas reminded me why. But, as I noted before, this book certainly rang other readers’s bells, so maybe I was feeling particularly cranky that day. Regardless, it still holds its place of shame on my list.

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  38. Chicklet
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 20:00:45

    I’m pretty sure publishing’s “We know how to publish books, and the rest of you don’t” attitude is a product of the sheer insularity of the industry as a whole. Traditional publishing has been a top-down enterprise for hundreds of years: Authors present their work to publishers, who decide which works to publish and then sell those works to stores. (Please note that the individual reader does not figure into this model.)

    This whole bottom-up phenomenon, like with 50 Shades of Grey or the entire m/m romance genre, is throwing publishers for a loop. The idea that mere readers can dictate, in a very direct way, what gets published, seems completely foreign to the Big Six. The dynamic of the success of 50 Shades, especially, must be a total mindfuck for them, since it went from fanfic to self-published to traditionally published to a movie deal, all based on word-of-mouth traffic by readers. It’s completely antithetical to how publishing’s been run for a couple of centuries.

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  39. zapkode.marie
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 05:39:34

    {new follower here}

    This whole situation is everywhere. I am going to say what I have been saying all along. I don’t support the act nor do I support the retaliation, but I do think that the desire to have a proper apology from her is not wrong of those that had their content taken.

    {http://www.justonemorechapter.net}

    ReplyReply

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