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Monday, January 21, 2008

Fangrrr Love

Now, after reading THIS BIG AUTHOR's rant about Nora Roberts which was deleted, I'm tempted to edit my play from last Sunday and add her for the More Cowbell scene. But really, you should just read this from Google cache:

When The Most Successful Author in Romance Judges Others

9:06 AM PST, January 11, 2008, updated at 10:03 AM PST, January 11, 2008
Hi, y'all. I debated whether to post publicly about this tempest in a teapot in the romance world, because the last thing I want is to be eviscerated by Nora Roberts' avid fangirls. But there's a quiet little stream of conversation in the world of romance writers as to why Roberts, unquestionably the richest, most award-winning, most successful romance novelist in the world -- in fact, one of the most successful novelists in the world, period -- hangs out at a blog site called "Smart Bitches," where the topics include open attacks on authors so far down the food chain that one wonders how Nora has time in her busy career to even notice they exist.

Now Roberts has weighed in (via an interview with the national press) on a controversy surrounding old-school historical author Cassie Edwards. I don't know Cassie Edwards; I've never read one of her many (nearly 100) historicals. But so far as I can tell she's a hardworking, 71-year-old author who's never slammed any other author in public. To the best of my knowledge Ms. Edwards is considered a rollicking good storyteller who likes to write westerns and pirate novels. She does not appear to have any pretensions, and her fans clearly love her books.

But -- according to reports launched by the Smart Bitches bloggers, who admitted beforehand that they don't like Ms. Edwards' old-style books, and have spent considerable time making jokes about them -- the author "plagiarized" bits and pieces of research material. The horrendous offense? Some passages about (I'm not kidding) buffaloes and ferrets. Looking at the passages myself, all I see is a writer who maybe should have paraphrased some research info a little better. I don't see malicious or greedy intent; I don't see "plagiarism" in any serious legal interpretation of the charge. If there's more to the issue than that, I haven't seen the evidence.

But I kinda doubt that Ms. Edwards' success is built on her nature writing. I kinda doubt she sat at her computer thinking, "If I use this other author's description of a buffalo, I'll sell ten times more books."

But now this grandmother (and accomplished violinist) is fielding national wire service inquiries about her alleged misdeeds. And Nora Roberts -- unsolicited, unharmed, with no personal beef with Ms. Edwards in any way, as far as I know -- has stood up atop her unassailable pile of money and awards to say -- in the national media --that Ms. Edwards appears to have committed plagerism.
Why does Roberts feel compelled to play lawyer, judge and jury regarding a fellow author? Roberts has achieved a level of good fortune 99.9 percent of authors can only dream about. But does that make her not only the spokeswoman for the romance genre, but also its enforcer of public condemnation for unproven offenses?

Not for me, and not for thousands of other hardworking authors trying to earn a living down here in the trenches, that's for sure.

Wow, huh. I'm speechless. BTW, the comments after this "new" post on Amazon were obviously addressing the original post above. They'll probably be deleted next ;-).

My deleted scene would definitely have:

La Nora standing "atop her unassailable pile of money and awards" saying something smartass ;-).

The big topic around the Internetz this weekend was about fangrrls. What is a fan/fanatic/fangrrl? It's a negative term these days because of the swarms that can attack your blog if you so much as say a bad thing about their favorite author's books. I repeat, in case it's not loud enough: BOOKS. B-O-O-K-S! Now, it's also a term tossed at readers who agree with an author's opinion. Opinion. O-P-I-N-I-O-N!

I'm so confused. So are we all a bunch of fangirls fighting, unable to think for ourselves? Am I crazy, but is it okay for some people to say something is wrong, but not others? I really don't get that. Sometimes, dealing with crapenters seems like a cakewalk.

Talking about fangirls, Bad Puppy (also now known as Horny Bad Puppy(TM))'s new year resolution is not to destroy any more of mommie's romance books:


Bear with me while I learn. The first button likes the POST. The second button likes the BLOG site. Please help me by "liking" me. Thanks!


Kathleen Dante said...

Huh. I don't get her logic. What does CE being an accomplished violinist have to do with anything? So what if she's a grandmother; isn't La Nora a grandmother, too?

Leslie said...

So do you think she deleted it because she finally decided that it was plagiarism and Ms Roberts was right? Whhhoooopps, sorry {delete, delete}.

Is that bad puppy reading naughty scenes?!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. My first thought is, just because Nora Roberts is famous, it doesn't mean she doesn't get to have an opinion on the subject. And my second is that it *does* affect her. Anything that further discredits the romance genre also casts a shadow, however small, on all other romance writers, too. It brings detracters of the genre crawling out of the woodwork to say, once again, that romance writers are hacks, and "here's more proof!". That said, I don't think it's the ruination, and the tarnish will be short-lived. Romance has lived through bigger scandals, and most of the people who find this particular one interesting are romance writers/readers, those looking for something to write a newspaper/magazine article about, and those who have been plagiarized.

kim said...

sorry chica, not a nora roberts fan in any way and i think her site name and her post were both tacky.

Lauren Dane said...

Well, she's (Smith) been going to a lot of blogs and replying the same way so if she's sorry, she's really, really sorry cause she's saying it all over the universe.

Look, you know what? What is the deal with the Nora hate? I mean, Cassie Edwards is the one whose actions are under scrutiny. Last I checked, it wasn't illegal or immoral to comment on something when the AP calls you and asks for an opinion.

I mean, as a writer she's qualified to comment, hell, I'm qualified to comment, you are, any of us are. But she's also experienced plagerism from the victim's side. That makes her a party whose opinion is *relevant* to the situation for specific reasons.

I have to say how very annoyed I get every time someone mentions CE's age. My mom is nearly that age and she knows right from wrong (but I will say she just might hand the phone to my dad if she was upset). Being 71 doesn't make you disabled, it makes you 71.

Monique said...

Lauren beat me to it, but all this talk about Nora Roberts and Cassie Edwards made me remember a while back that Roberts' name was connected to another plagiarism scandal. So, I did some Googleing. In that case, another author plagiarized from Roberts' books. As such, she most certainly is entitled to her opinion and it carries more weight since she has lived through one plagiarism scandal already.

Where I personally have an issue, it is not with Nora Roberts but with the way the media has presented what she has to say. Roberts is entitled to her opinion and to the extent that she is knowledgeable her expertise in the matter, however; the media seem to have come to the conclusion that since Nora Roberts says it's plagiarism, it is.

Now, unfortunately, I have not read the Cassie Edwards books in question or the works from which she is supposed to have taken the ideas/passages. So, I have no basis from which to form an informed opinion.

I did look up plagiarism and the difference between that and copyright infringement and I know that at least one defender of Edwards totally had them mixed up. I also know that when I was writing term papers, the rule our teacher taught us was that if the idea is in more than 3 sources it is considered something like "common knowledge" (not the correct term, but the best I could do) and therefore did not require citation to satisfy plagiarism rules. I do not know if that general "rule" holds true for the published world. Nor do I know if it even applies.

Just my, well, more like $2 worth. As for total disclosure, I don't believe I've ever read Cassie Edwards and I don't read Nora Roberts either.

ZaZa said...

OMG! Nora Roberts is as rich and successful and FAMOUS as she is because she worked her a** off to get there. Also, she's a lady and always takes the high road.

So, yes, the press looks to her as the "voice of romance," and the genre couldn't have a better, more professional representative. If people are jealous of her success, then maybe they should work as hard as she does, still - with all her success, awards and money - and maybe they'd have bigger, better careers, too. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I still just boggle over the fact that people, and in particular published authors, say that copying background information doesn't count. WTF? Copying is copying, and CE copied.

And why shouldn't La Nora be able to comment if approached for comment? First of all, she's probably the best-known face of the genre, and second of all, she's dealt with plagiarism in the past.

The number of people missing the logic train on this issue is insane.


Gennita said...

I didn't get it either. Maybe she realized how odd that sounded and that's why she deleted the post.

Okay, maybe that reason too, LOL. Pretty hard to scream "not that big a deal" when passages from Wadsworth's Hiawatha is involved!

Thank you for writing such a thoughtful and logical post. You say it best: this affects everyone in the writing community, esp. those who are in the romance genre. And whose name comes on everyone's lips first when they bring up romance? Even roofers know that name ;-)...and not from my prompting!

As always, I respect all my readers' opinions as long as they don't jump down everyone's throats. It's fine to disagree with Nora Roberts; I don't agree with her in everything too. But I definitely don't think that she doesn't have a right to voice HER opinion, or put her down by saying she does so from on top a pile of money and awards.

My mother is around 71. I don't think she'd appreciate her age being used as an excuse either.

As for the Nora-hate, I think it stems from readers misreading La Nora's down-to-earth frankness as an attack. If she doesn't like it, she says so, and usually gives her reasons.

For those who know Nora, she's just joining into a conversation with people she'd been talking to for the last year or so. For many run-bys who aren't familiar with the format or the fact that she's friends with the posters, they question her presence and then her reasons for posting in that particular conversation.

All it takes is a bit of patience and reading through a few months' threads to realize that Nora hangs out there and talks and jokes, just like any normal posters do among a group of blogging buddies. I get the sense that she enjoys those blogs and the topics they're interested in.


Here is a massive .pdf file (48 pages the last time I saved it) of a side-by-side comparison of the CE books with all the books found with EXACT phrases:


Waiting to hear from you ;-).

Zaza and JP,
Agreeing with you too! And yes, JP, it's scary to know that not many people understand what plagiaring means, even schoolteachers.


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