Cassie Edwards Investigatory Extravaganza: The First Post

Part of a series: Cassie Edwards 1: The First Post | Cassie Edwards 2: Savage Longings | Cassie Edwards Part 3: Running Fox | Cassie Edwards Part 4: Savage Moon | Cassie Edwards Part 5: Savage Beloved | Follow-up: Penguin (Part 1?) | Official Statement from Signet | AP Article Contains Response from Edwards  | RWA Responds to Allegations  | A centralized document for the Cassie Edwards situation


So my friend Kate (not to be confused with HaikuKatie of Nebula Haiku fame) was in desperate need of new reading material recently, and since she’d never read any romance novels before, I decided to throw some at her to see what she thought, since she’s a Classicist and an SF/F geek. I gave her examples of what I thought were the best (Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase), the most popular (Dark Lover by J.R. Ward) and the worst (Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards) of the genre.

Shadow Bear introduced poor Kate to all-new levels of pain—she’d never encountered a book in which ellipses and exclamation marks were abused with quite that much abandon, or in which the characters spoke in Glossary with such distressing consistency. What especially caught her eye, however, were the didactic passages in the book. They were written in a distinctly different voice, and out of idle curiosity, she decided to Google certain phrases and sentences.

The results were…interesting. Kate was able to find large chunks of text from a few sources that seemed to have been inserted into Shadow Bear with little to no modification, mostly from Land of the Spotted Eagle by Luther Standing Bear and, I shit you not, an article about black-footed ferrets from the Defenders of Wildlife.

Yes. Ferrets.

After we’d picked ourselves up from the floor (seriously: ferrets! Hee!), and since we’re suckers for punishment, Kate and I promptly ran to Powell’s to obtain more Edwards novels and spent pretty much all of Saturday afternoon and evening combing through four novels to see if we could find any more Eerie Similarities. No, we didn’t have anything better to do with ourselves. Yes, our dorkery and geekiness are legion. Yes, we’re masochistic fools. (Four Cassie Edwards novels in less than 12 hours! FOUR! Aieeee.)

Presented below are the results of our compare-n-contrast exercise—identical information has been sent to Penguin Group and Dorchester Publishing, and if they make any sort of public statement, we’ll let you know. Keep in mind, we found all this out with minimal effort. Kate and I didn’t bother to hit the libraries; we mostly depended on the Grace of Google to shower its bounty upon us.

And to all the legal-type people for Companies What Publish Books and the Legal Counsel of a Certain Author of Native American Romances who may be taking an interest in this here particular page: please note that we’re not making accusations of any sort. We’re merely providing evidence of Startling and Eerie Similarities between these Cassie Edwards novels and certain texts published prior to the Edwards books.

Et naturellement, all excerpts are quoted under fair use provisions of United States copyright law. All text in the table below = transcribed verbatim from the sources with full attribution and links to the source material; however, the occasional typo may have snuck in here and there, for which we apologize in advance.

Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards (2007, ISBN 978-0-451-22174-2, Signet) Other Materials
“In my vision, I also saw the fields of sunflowers that are beloved by our Lakota people all scorched, the flowers no longer able to reach their faces toward the sun. I saw buffalo trapped amid flames.” She paused, swallowed hard, then said, “The sunflower and buffalo are two beloved symbols of our Lakota people. The sun is essential to all health and life. In spring, summer, and winter, rays are welcome. In the spring, its warmth brings forth new grass; in summer its heat cures the skins, dries the meat, and preserves food for storage. The buffalo are all and everything to the existence of the Lakota.” p. 6-7 So the sunflower and the buffalo were two beloved symbols of the Lakota. So first, last, and throughout existence, the Lakota knew that the sun was essential to health and to all life. In spring, summer, and winter its rays were welcome. In the spring its warmth brought forth new grass; in the summer its heat cured the skins, dried the meat, and preserved food for storage, and in the winter the Lakotas bathed their bodies in the sunshine, stripping themselves just as they did to bathe in the streams. Standing Bear, Luther. Land of the Spotted Eagle. 2006 p.49
He rode from the village, a sadness grabbing at his heart. After a while he saw several buffalo wandering through a field of sunflowers, lolling their heads as they walked. Loving the sunflowers so much, some of the animals had uprooted the plants and had wound them about their necks, letting sprays dangle from their horns. p. 10-11 And strange it is, but the buffalo loved the simple and odorless sunflower just as did the Lakota. These great beasts wandered through the sunflower fields, wallowing their heads among them. Sometimes they uprooted the plants and wound them about their necks, letting sprays dangle from their left horns. Id., p. 49
She knew now that meat was the main article of food for the Lakota. It was their staff of life and eaten at all meals. p. 148 Meat was the main article of food, the staff of life, eaten at all meals and in all seasons. Id., p. 53
Soup was their universal dish. She had enjoyed all the varieties of meat, corn, and even squash as big as the paunch of a buffalo, all very sweet from the hot ashes of the fire. p. 148 Whether meat was fresh or dry, it was usually boiled, for soup was the universal dish of the Lakota, being liked by young, middle-aged, and old. Id., p. 54
Shiona had watched as the intestines of a buffalo that one warrior had chanced to find were thoroughly cleaned by his wife, looped over the end of a stick and roasted to a crispy brown over the hot outdoor fire. Another woman had made her meat more enticing, their strips having been braided and looped in a chain stitch before putting it in the flames of the fire for roasting. p. 147-48 The intestines of the buffalo were thoroughly cleaned, looped over the end of a stick, and roasted to a crispy brown over a hot coal fire, or again, as if to make this good dish more enticing, the strips were braided or looped in chain-stitch before putting over the fire. Id., p. 54
Shiona had grimaced at learning that the brains of animals were used to thicken soup, and that tripe, either boiled or roasted, was a favorite dish. p. 148 Brains were used to thicken the soup, and tripe, either boiled or roasted, was a favorite dish. Id., p. 54
This was the most welcome season of the year… their fruit season. Chokeberries, grapes, plums, currants, strawberries, and gooseberries grew plentiful in the woods and alongside the river and streams. One of the first fruits to ripen was the wazusteca, strawberries. Then the wild plums would ripen and fall to the ground. The women would gather them, dry them, and put them in storage for winter food. Later, in the fall, after the first frost, the fruit of the wild rose would turn red and make a delicious food, sweet raw or cooked. p. 8 The most welcome season of the year was the fruit season when the chokeberry, grape, plum, currant, strawberry and gooseberry all grew plentifully in the woods along the streams. We feasted on these delicious fruits, sharing them with the bears, raccoons, muskrats, and beavers. The coyote even ate the wild plums that ripened and fell to the ground. The women gathered these fruits and dried them, putting them in storage for winter food. One of the first fruits of the year to ripen was the wazusteca, or strawberry, while very soon after came the wild currant… The fruit of the wild rose, which turned red in the late fall after the first frost, made a delicious food. It was very sweet either raw or cooked. Id., p. 59
“You do have much to learn, but not all sexually,” Shadow Bear said. He reached for one of her hands as the fire burned softly in the fire pit. “As one of my people, you will learn that every day begins with a salute to the sun, and as a bringer of light, it is recognized whether its face is visible or whether it is hidden by a clouded sky.” p. 198-199 Every day for the Lakota began with a salute to the sun, and as a bringer of light, it was recognized, whether its face was visible or whether it was hidden by a clouded sky. Id., p. 47
“That is because there is no kneeling, nor words spoken, nor hands raised, but in every Lakota heart there is just a thought of tribute,” Shadow Bear proudly explained. He turned to her so that their eyes met. “You will learn that no assembly of our people is required for that tribute, either. Each and every person, on his own account, holds his own moment of worship.” p. 199 There was no kneeling, no words were spoken, and no hands were raised, but in every heart was just a thought of a tribute. No assembly ceremonies were held in the morning, each and every person on his own account holding his moment of worship. Id., p. 47
He nodded toward the closed entrance flap. “Outside, you will notice that further recognition is given the sun by the erection of the Lakota village with every tepee door facing the east,” he said. p. 199 Further recognition was given the sun by the erection of the villages with every tipi door facing the east. Id., p. 47
“The arrows used to wound my brother and that took your loved ones from you were not made from this shrub. Our Lakota hunting arrows are made with its three feathers and finished with the down that comes from under the tail feathers of a bird.” He drew his hand from her. “The two red wavering lines, the symbol of lightning, are always painted from the feathered end and halfway to the arrow tip.” p. 213 “The arrow I described is mainly used for hunting. That is the reason the arrow is grooved to the tip. That allows the blood to flow free from the body of the downed animal, thereby humanely hastening death.” p.215 The best specimen of Lakota hunting arrow had three feathers finished with a fluff of down that came from under the tail feathers of the bird. Two red wavering lines, the symbol of lightning, were painted from the feathered end halfway to the arrow tip, but grooved the rest of the way to the tip so as to allow the blood to flow freely from the body of the animal, thereby hastening death. Id., p. 20
“A bright painted lodge, fine blankets, stacks of beadwork and plush robes and food speak of good living,” he said, taking her by an elbow, ushering her inside the tepee. “This is all yours.” p. 202 “And to those from the southern camps, the new, bright-painted lodges, the many good bows and guns, the fine blankets, and the stacks of beadwork in almost every lodge spoke of good living.” Sandoz, Mari. Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas. 2004 p. 128
“In their own way, they are a peaceful enough animal,” Shadow Bear said… “They are so named because of their dark legs.” “They are so small, surely weighing only about two pounds and measuring two feet from tip to tail,” Shiona said. “While alone in my father's study one day, after seeing a family of ferrets from afar in the nearby woods, I took one of my father's books from his library and read up on them. They were an interesting study. I discovered they are related to minks and otters. It is said that their closest relations are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize that polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska, to establish the New World population.” p. 220 “Black-footed ferrets, so-named because of their dark legs, weigh about two pounds and measure two feet from tip to tail. Related to mink and otters, they are North America's only native ferret (and a different species than the ferrets kept as pets). Their closest relatives are European ferrets and Siberian polecats. Researchers theorize polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska to establish the New World population.” Tolme, Paul. “Toughing it Out in the Badlands,” Defenders Magazine, Summer 2005.
“What I have observed of them, myself, is that these tiny animals breed in early spring when the males roam the night in search of females,” Shadow Bear said, watching as the last of the ferrets bounded off and disappeared amid the bushes away from where they had first been spotted. “Mothers typically give birth to three kits in early summer and raise their young alone in abandoned prairie dog burrows.” p. 220-221 “The animals breed in March and April, when males roam the night in search of females. Mothers typically give birth to three kits in June, and raise their young alone in abandoned prairie dog burrows.” Id.
“I read that ferrets stalk and kill prairie dogs during the night. Using their keen sense of smell and whiskers to guide them through pitch-black burrows, ferrets suffocate the sleeping prey, an impressive feat considering the two species are about the same weight,” Shiona said, shivering at the thought, for to her one animal was as cute and precious as the next. It was a shame that any had to die to sustain the other. p. 221 “Ferrets stalk and kill prairie dogs during the night. Using their keen sense of smell and whiskers to guide them through pitch-black burrows, ferrets clamp a suffocation bite on their sleeping prey — an impressive feat, considering that the two species are about the same weight.” Id.
“In turn, coyotes, badgers, and owls prey on ferrets, whose life span in the wild is often less than two winters,” Shadow Bear explained. “They have a short, quick life.” p. 221 Coyotes, badgers and owls in turn prey on ferrets, whose lifespan in the wild is often less than two years. “It's a tough and quick life,” Livieri says. Id.
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  1. 1
    SB Sarah says:

    Pardon the wonky formatting; I’m working on that.

    Also – there’s more coming. I found examples in my collection of Edwards novels as well. Stay tuned.

  2. 2
    Jane says:

    I guess this is one way for an author to say that she did her research and that she is NOT being anachronistic.

  3. 3
    Candy says:

    I just realized I neglected to include the Dorchester book in this table. DOH! Will get on this ASAP.

  4. 4

    Why am I feeling the need to use hand sanitizer right now?

    Damn, some of the stuff is Eerily Similar.

    Et naturellement, you don’t hear that one often. I’m so glad! These damn “ma petite” and “mais oui” are giving me le big headache.

  5. 5
    MeggieMacGroovie says:

    The holy hell!?!?!

    Seriously…

    Thats just…..just…well, considering the quality of the work under discussion… I..uhh..

    Ferrets???

    Ohhh, Sarah, if, if, if this is taken seriously, legions of romance readers will cheer you from one end of the world, to the other….

    Have you tried the same with Connie Mason??

  6. 6
    MaryKate says:

    Huh. I actually work for Defenders of Wildlife. This is hilarious. I’m sure our editor would be *thrilled* to hear that Cassie Edwards uses our information as source material.

    SNORT.

  7. 7
    karibelle says:

    Wow.  You would think with such extensive “research” her books would be better.

  8. 8
    Teddy Pig says:

    I don’t know what is more disturbing, you having read this much Cassie Edwards, or that you have read this much Cassie Edwards so closely you found the Big P.

  9. 9
    Abney says:

    Raise your hand if you are surprised.

    *That is the sound of crickets*

    Anyone so OBVIOUSLY uninterested in factual portrayals of Native Americas would think that the “borrowing” of facts would be almost irrelevant.

    She probably thinks WHAT MAKES THE RED MAN RED (from Peter Pan) is the mad note http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_at9dOElQk

    And all the Cassie Edwards fans that I know privately refer to Native Americans as woo woo Indians when they are being witty… one has ALL dreamcatcher ornaments on her tree.

    My thinking is that if and when this comes out her fans will just see it as her attempt at authenticity and hoist her on their shoulders. ~A

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    TP: Blame Candy and Lilith Saintcrow. They sent me a PILE of Cassie Edwards novels awhile back, prompting my Savage Moon review, so I have plenty to flip through. Sadly, our discoveries did not require close reading.

  11. 11
    Candy says:

    As a note: my Google search history is now vastly more entertaining than it used to be. One memorable occasion on Saturday had Kate Googling for “raccoon toothpick penis bone.”

  12. 12
    Chrissy says:

    My ferrets are boycotting.

    What a weasel!

  13. 13
    Jessica D says:

    I’m starting to think all those TA hours I spent teaching plagiarism (how to avoid it, not how to do it, though I suppose it amounts to the same thing) were an utter waste of breath. Just this week I discovered a huge chunk of plagiarized text in a book I was editing. I pointed it out to Client and suggested she check with author about the rest of the text, because I can’t find everything via Google. She shrugged it off.

    Hey, as long as her check clears before they get their asses sued. Right?

    *sigh*

  14. 14

    I wonder if my Grade 6 report on the Blackfoot is in one of her books too.

  15. 15
    Jackie L. says:

    See what happens when you introduce new eyes to romance?  This is all your fault, Candy, for finding those, those, well, coincidences.  Mean girls.

    (Not a fan of Cassie, her covers alone put me way off her years ago.  But I can just hear her fangirls now.)

  16. 16
    azteclady says:

    IANAL—nor do I play one online—but methinks Jessica D would do well to keep a record of any emails or other communications where she did point out plagiarism to her client before that book comes out. Just in case.

    (spamfoiler: cold66—funny! I feel cold anytime the temperature is under 70 *grin*)

  17. 17
    Jessica D says:

    Oh yes, azteclady, I archive everything—document versions and e-mails. Good advice, though.

  18. 18
    Dragonette says:

    omg, she is in deep doo-doo.

    Brava, ladies!  way to take one for the team

  19. 19
    Stephanie says:

    I shared what I felt about this in a later post (basically, I just get more and more respect for the Smart Bitches the more I read) I just wanted to tell you how ace it is that you quote Homestarrunner while you’re doing business. Not THAT kinda business, baby it’s not Wednesday… SB business… yeah. I mean, not Strong Bad business, but your kinda business. Mmmhmm.

  20. 20
    colleenlaughs says:

    um- this is awesome.

    pass- didnt95

    would if i could :)

  21. 21
    Kassiana says:

    So she’s not only a racist, she’s a plagiarist? Great! I’m so proud that Target prominently displays and sells her racist plagiarized crap.

    (My aunt worked for Target for years.)

  22. 22
    Spider says:

    I recently line-edited a manuscript with a Classical setting, something I bloody majored in.

    There were numerous, and I mean, numerous and heinous factual and cultural errors in the MS, and when I pointed this out to my editor (supervisor? manager?), I was told that changes would not be made, as the book was a rerelease and the author didn’t want to seem like it was covering up anything from the previous release.

    Bwah?!

    I’ve read many a rerelease where the author’s note included an admission of such.  Surely that’s a good thing?

  23. 23
    Cathy in AK says:

    I was part of the group in ‘91 counting prairie dog poo for population assessment (lots of poo=lots of p. dogs=good food source for b-f ferrets) and in ferret re-introduction in Shirley Basin WY.  Ah, biology is so romantic.

    What did she use ferrets for?  Or do I want to know?

  24. 24
    Alandra says:

    Love that you did a search for “raccoon toothpick penis bone.” The scientific term for a penis bone is baculum – one of those fun fact I get for being a biologist.

    Want one? Check them out here:
    http://www.skullsunlimited.com/baculums.html

  25. 25

    Is it wrong that I am gleefully anticipating hearing more about this?  Oh, I hate the Big P with a purple passion… something that also factors into Edwards’ books, incidentally… so if it’s proven that she’s guilty of it, I hope she has to make restitution.  (Note the “if”—wouldn’t want to throw accusations around…)

    Although I’m not sure any restitution would be enough to heal the Bitchery’s poor scarred retinas.  You have my respect, ladies.

  26. 26

    After reading comments in the other threads (specifically regarding “glee”) I feel like I should clarify my last comment a bit.  I’m not gleeful that readers were duped and passages were stolen and Edwards, her editors, and publishers are going to have to deal with it.

    I *am* totally awed, impressed, and yes, gleeful at the Bitches for discovering this and bringing it to light.  I’m totally interested in hearing more and finding out what the next steps are.  Call me shallow, but I loves me a good blog-hopping controversy, and this is something with some actual meat to it. 

    Investigative reporting gets me hot.  What can I say?

  27. 27
    puccagirl73 says:

    MWAHAHA, The BIG “P” I now know why I zonked out when I first read the only Cassie Edwards book I ever read. It read like the hero was lecturing to a biology/ecology class.  I did not finish the book, glad I only borrowed it in the library.  Have you ever tried googling the passages in Sunny’s Monalisa series, you come up with a lot of LKH and Black Jewel Trilogy passages. 

    spam word is can67, I like that

  28. 28

    What are the odds it gets blamed on a ghostwriter?

  29. 29
    shark says:

    I was like “it can’t be that easy” and hit the SBTB’s own review of “Savage Moon,” since passages were quoted from the novel. Here’s a bit from her book quoted in the review:

    “In Shoshone and Bannock the North Star is called Wa-se-a-ure-chah-pe, and then there is Ursa Major which his also called the Seven Stars and The Wagon. It makes its revolution around the polar star, pointing toward it. This is the secret of how my people travel by night when there is no moon.”

    So I searched for “Wa-se-a-ure-chah-pe” and found this:

    “They know and name the North Star the same as we do—wa-se-a-ure-chah-pe (north star)—and also know the Ursa Major, sometimes calling it “the seven stars” and “the wagon.” They are aware that it makes its revolution around the polar star, pointing toward it, and this is the secret of their travelling at night when there is no moon.” 

    Fact-check me here: http://books.google.com/books?id=v7EqAAAAMAAJ&pgis=1 by searching for that keyword. Turns out it is, indeed, that easy to find her plaigarizing.

  30. 30

    This is the kind of thing that gives all of us writers a bit of a smear.  I constantly wonder when I’m writing if I unconsciously lifted a pet phrase from one of my favorite authors.  I usually delete anything I’m iffy about.  The presumption of an established, famous author (whose books I loathe, by the way) getting plugged for IP theft is detrimental to those of us who are legitimately trying to climb the ranks with wholly original, well-researched stories. 

    I vote for a blackball of her work in the future.  If she is incapable of writng without lifting whole sections from source material and jazzing up a cut and paste job, then any publishing house should prevent her from future publication.

    Or, we could just hire a fake voodoo queen to hang out on her front porch with a couple of decapitated chickens and some beads. *shrug*  It could be funny.

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