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Paul Tolme Speaks Out About the Copying of His Work

Newsweek ran a web special edition written by author Paul Tolme. Mr. Tolme penned a copyrighted article “Toughing It Out in the Badlands” that ran in the Defenders Magazine. Cassie Edwards copied some language from the article in her most recent Penguin release, Shadow Bear.

In the Internet age, every freelance writer fears that his or her words will be appropriated without compensation. First I was angry. Then I had to laugh. To see my textbook descriptions of ferrets in a bodice-ripper, as dialogue between a hunky American Indian and a lustful pioneer woman who several pages later have sex on a mossy riverbank, is the height of absurdity

I think Mr. Tolme’s article is worth reading because he obviously has a passion for his topic and has worked hard to make a life as a writer about wildlife. (Despite his obvious disdain for the genre)

I’m no longer angry with Edwards. In fact, I feel sorry for her. The blogosphere is buzzing with irate calls to boycott Edwards’s books and appearances. According to an interview she did with the Associated Press, she did not know she was supposed to quote source materials. Ignorance of law and ethics is no excuse, however. Plagiarism victimizes writers. It betrays the trust of readers. It tarnishes the craft of writing.

Some emails I’ve seen suggest that people think that plagiarism is victimless. It is not.

Thanks to all those who sent me this article in my inbox.

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

12 Comments

  1. Sela Carsen
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 10:05:41

    Well, let’s face it. His first foray into romance novels was…a Cassie Edwards book. We were expecting kudos?

    I’m sorry. Some people are going to take that as CE snark and I don’t mean it that way. But how many of us would take romance seriously if we got tossed into the deep end like he did and that was the first thing we read when there are so many more wonderfully written books out there?

  2. SAM
    Jan 19, 2008 @ 02:28:51

    RE: 16.2.4. Intentional copying of the written works of others (including but not limited to books, articles and/or manuscripts) with an intention to claim such work(s) as the member's own.

    Who says Mrs. Edwards had intentions to claim the work as her own? Over the past two weeks I have discussed this with a few authors in the romance industry who have said they were told NOT to list their research resources. Those who did said the information was not in their book when it was released. The authors in question are a lot more famous than the e-book writers and unknowns on this site and the SB site. All of you who are waiting to see if Mrs. Edwards' publishers drop her. You can forget it. It's not going to happen!

  3. Jules Jones
    Jan 19, 2008 @ 05:05:39

    The complete lack of any acknowledgement over the last 25 years that she had copied the prose of others wholesale is, I think, reasonable grounds for others to assume that she had every intention of letting people assume that the work was her own.

    Will this makeover of the website include a page listing all the books she copied much of her prose from, now that she’s been caught? I do hope that it will include the ones where because the work is out of copyright there is merely a moral misdeed, and not just the ones where she can be sued by the copyright holder.

    Alas, the wages of sin are all too often more money. I’m sure her publishers will be only too happy to keep on publishing her so long as her devoted fans are willing to read the stolen words of others when they’re published under her name.

    (Boggling gently at the idea that Nora is an unknown.)

  4. Bernita
    Jan 19, 2008 @ 11:51:39

    In view of extent and scope of Ms. Edwards incorporations of other people’s words, I can’t see the various publishing houses cynically closing their eyes and sweeping everything under the rug.
    I think they respect their profession and their other authors a little more than that.

  5. SAM
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 04:20:57

    First and foremost lets get one thing clear. Ms. Edwards did NOT choose the “Savage” title for her series. It was chosen by her editor at the publishing company the “Savage” series was first published. When Leisure aquired the series they chose to keep the “Savage” title. I’m sick and tired of hearing people accuse Ms. Edwards of racism based on the name that was given to her series. She had nothing to do with it! People…get over it. If most publishers do not put research resources in the novels why take it out on the author. There are several publishers who will NOT print that information. Just a bunch of bored people with nothing better to do than trash people in the public eye. If anyone thinks Signet or Leisure is going to drop Ms. Edwards’ contract…keep dreaming. They aren’t stupid! Her books make them a lot of money. Ms. Edwards has thousands and thousands of readers/fans. Her fan club has several hundreds of members. Do you really think her fans would sit still for a moment if they heard Ms. Edwards’ books were not going to be printed? I don’t think so! It’s over with so I don’t know why people keep dragging it out.

  6. Chrissy
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 05:03:02

    I have no idea where this information came from– that Edwards did not pick the “savage” moniker. One thing is for absolute certain– she didn’t see anything wrong with it. Whether someone else picked it or not, she still wrote books that objectified American Indians. She still claimed a distant relationship to a tribe that refuted the claim, and wants nothing to do with her. She trotted around insisting her grandmother was an “Indian Princess,” a creature that does not now, nor has it ever existed. She still lifted massive amounts of text from sources and used them without permission. She, on several occasions, used research pertaining to a specific tribe in descriptions and dialogue for a tribe with absolutely no connection to the one she used as source material.
    I guess they all look alike to her?
    Please. She’d really be better off if idiots stopped trying to defend the indefensible. All anyone needs to hear from that woman is “I’m sorry; all proceeds will go to the following charities…”

  7. azteclady
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 08:23:59

    I’m so slow. I just realized that SAM here at Dear Author is Sarah Ann(e?) Mitchell over at SBTBs. The oft reposted word-by-word comments finally rang a bell.

    I need coffee.

  8. SAM
    Jan 20, 2008 @ 12:50:34

    Chrissy:

    I research my facts before I state them.

    The editors at Zebra Books are the ones who decided to create the “Savage” Series. When Leisure aquired the books they decided to keep the name since the fans knew series name.

    I’ve seen other authors use Savage in their titles as well.

    Have you ever heard of a language dictionary or language translator?

    Look it up and you will find there are ways of translating to different Native American languages. There are also dictionaries that can be purchased through certain Native American schools.

    Having friends in the industry I can tell you that there are other historical writers who use the Native American languages in their books and don’t credit their resourses.

    I have never seen the Native Americans shown in a derogitory way in any of Ms. Edwards’ books or in the books of other Native American romance authors.

    I don’t know what Cheyenne tribe you get your information from. My information shows that Ms. Edwards makes donations to several Native American charities and has been honored and made an official member of many different tribes.

    Azteclady:

    There are so many Sara/Sarah’s over at SB site I decided to use my initials. Got a problem with it? Too bad.

    No one has yet to discuss the fact that there are publishers out there who will NOT put research resources in the novels they print.

    As I said…Signet and Leisure will not drop Ms. Edwards.

    I love how everyone is saying she sent a bulletin from her myspace account. She didn’t! She may have replied to someone who wrote to her through myspace but there was never any bulletin sent out.

    SAM
    [email protected]

  9. Susie
    Feb 02, 2008 @ 02:03:44

    It’s not so much about listing research resources but rather the fact that Edwards stole other writer’s work and made money out of them. It’s stealing plain and simple. She’s a disgrace.

  10. JLFerg
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 09:17:24

    The Christian Science Monitor published this article on Paul Tolme and Cassie Edwards on April 16, 2008. Thought I would share it with everyone here.

    Jill

  11. Kim
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 09:51:40

    Thats a great article Jill. Thanks for that. “frisky” romance fans. LOL

  12. JLFerg
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 11:41:27

    I liked the cover mock-up at the top of the article. “Nature writer by day, heartthrob by night”. :-)

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