Cassie Edwards Investigatory Extravaganza II: This Time, it’s Not Dangeresque I

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


I was a doof and forgot to include all the tables I needed to in my initial entry about the usage of unattributed material in Cassie Edwards novels. I blame law school for disordering my mind. I suppose it’s a good thing anyway, since the table seems to be fucking up our shizznizzle.

At any rate, here’s more Cassie Edwards tastiness, this time from Savage Longings, published by Leisure Books in 1997, ISBN 0-8439-4176-6. In this particular book, I was only able to find usages from only one source text, The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life by George Bird Grinnell. Excerpts quoted under fair use, etc. etc., and please forgive any typos.

From Page 49 of Savage Longings:

The root digger was a slender, sharp-pointed implement which was used to thrust into the ground to pry out the roots. Each digger was made of ash, the point sharpened and hardened in the fire. There was a knob at one end to protect the hand.

From Page 209 of The Cheyenne Indians:

This work was done with the root-digger (his’ so), a slender, sharp-pointed implement to be thrust into the ground to pry out the roots. In modern times the root-digger has been of iron—any sort of an iron bar. In earlier days, however, these implements were of wood, usually ash, the point sharpened and hardened in the fire. One kind of root-digger was two and one-half to three feet long, and had a knob at one end to protect the hand.


From Page 323 of Savage Longings:

Snow Deer had explained to Charles that it was an old Cheyenne custom for visitors to occupy the lodge of some newly married couple who would then sleep elsewhere. She had told him that this was an honor not only to the owners of the lodge but also to the visitor.

From Page 146 of The Cheyenne Indians:

If visitors came to a village, the old custom was for them to occupy the lodge of some newly married couple, who would give them possession and sleep elsewhere. This was an honor to the visitor.


From page 325 of Savage Longings:

The women who belonged to this society created ceremonial decorations by sewing quills on robes, lodge coverings, and other things made of the skins of animals.

Snow Deer had told Charles that the Cheyenne women considered this work of high importance, and when properly performed, it was quite as much respected as were bravery and success in war among the men.

From Page 159 of The Cheyenne Indians:

Of the women’s associations referred to the most important one was that devoted to the ceremonial decoration, by sewing on quills, of robes, lodge coverings, and other things made of the skins of animals. This work women considered of high importance, and, when properly performed, quite as creditable as were bravery and success in war among the men.


From page 330 of Savage Longings:

The old quiller had then asked Becky to hold her hands out in front of her, palms up and edges together. The old woman bit off a piece of a certain root, chewed it fine, and spat it on Becky’s hand. Becky was then instructed in ceremonial motions, passing her right hand over the outside of her right leg, from ankle to hip, her left hand over her right arm from wrist to shoulder, her left hand over her left leg, from ankle to hip, and her right hand over the left arm, from wrist to shoulder.

Then her hands had been placed on her head and passed backward from the forehead.

From Page 160 of The Cheyenne Indians:

The old woman directed the candidate to hold her hands out in front of her, palms up and edges together. The old woman bit off a piece of a certain root, chewed it fine, and spat on the hands ceremonially, and the candidate made the ceremonial motions, passing the right hand over the from ankle to hip, her left hand over her right arm from wrist to shoulder, her left hand over her left leg from ankle to hip, and her right hand over the left arm from wrist to shoulder. Then the hands were placed on the head, and passed backward from the forehead.


Again, keep in mind that these are passages I’ve managed to find on-line; there were many suspicious passages that I couldn’t find source texts for, simply because Google failed and I can’t be bothered to haul my ass to the library. Are there any bored grad students/librarians in the audience who want to help me play Spot the Source Text? I have several passages marked from various other Edwards novels that I can e-mail you, and I’ll post anything you find (with full attribution, of course).

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  1. 1
    Teddy Pig says:

    You forgot to say but is there a paypal charity contribution site setup for the Post-Cassie Edwards-Traumatic Stress Disorder Foundation?

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    That’s a new category of book recommendations: “Cleanse the Palette.”

  3. 3
    Candy says:

    Cassie Edwards: the only author for whom you need to roll a SAN check AND an INT check after you’re done reading.

  4. 4
    Jenny Crusie says:

    Here’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a long time:

    Did Cassie Edwards run over your dog?

  5. 5
    Chrissy says:

    Scary thing is… the text book prose is more natural and pleasant to read than her fiction.

    DUDE!

  6. 6
    Gwen says:

    The whole (is ‘insidious’ too strong a word?) nagative aspect of this is these unattributed authors make zero, bupkus from a nationally sold author for the material.

    I mean, it’s one thing to use an (attributed) academic text to help an author structure a scene, but to lift it almost verbatim is just plain lazy.

    Interesting spaminator word – degree73.

  7. 7
    Candy says:

    Did Cassie Edwards run over your dog?

    To be honest, I do feel sorry for her. Not enough to keep quiet about this, obviously, because I think this is an item of legitimate public interest, but yeah. Ow.

  8. 8

    Reminds me of the time a student I was tutoring asked me what % of her term paper could be direct quotations. Only difference is they were going to create a bibliography too!

    Jenny – “Did Cassie Edwards run over your dog?”

    She didn’t have to. She makes it too easy…

  9. 9
    Stephanie says:

    Candy,
    Just wanted you to know I adore you for working the “Dangeresque” angle into all of this. Made my day.

  10. 10
    Robin says:

    Did Cassie Edwards run over your dog?

    To be honest, I do feel sorry for her. Not enough to keep quiet about this, obviously, because I think this is an item of legitimate public interest, but yeah. Ow.

    Candy, do you feel sorry for her because she gets picked on?  I can see that, certainly, especially as someone who is not a snarker by nature.  But obviously she sells lots of books, meaning she makes a comfortable living from that work, and she obviously has some very devoted readers, judging by some of the comments here.  For that I certainly don’t feel sorry for her.

    Now, Crusie’s comment made me a little ballistic, I must admit because of all the people I would expect to make that comment (and only that comment) it wouldn’t be an author and a former teacher and doctoral candidate. 

    Authors talk all the time about copyright and such, but for academics the issue of plagiarism is much more basic and is part of the delicate balance between knowledge as a public good and community asset and the integrity of individual scholarship and its institutional and cultural rewards. 

    I find it a bit ironic that some of the passages you’ve quoted from other sources are academic in nature, because that’s the community that takes plagiarism so deadly serious.  Although perhaps if it’s not another commercial author who’s being plagiarized it’s not such a big deal to people??

    After reading multiple jeremiads on why selling ARCs is a mortal sin and why fan fiction writers need to be threatened with all sorts of possibly impossible legal action, I’m kind of curious to know where authors stand on something like this.  Is it not such a big deal because it’s just some long-dead or dusty academics whose work has found its way into popular fiction?  Is it only 18-year old girls who have had their books worked on by a book packaging company who deserve to be vilified (of course, that involved the work of *other popular authors*)? 

    Obviously we don’t have Edwards’s side of the story here, so I can’t comment on anything related to *her* personally, but I am pretty troubled about what seems to be a strange dichotomy of responses to various issues involving “intellectual property,” authorial integrity, intellectual honesty, and copyright.  I’m not, actually, interested in pillorying plagiarists, and I don’t think plagiarists are mortal sinners, but when people are attacking bloggers and such for finding and revealing copied material, I fear we’ve gotten away from a baseline value of the balance between the community and the individual when it comes to artistic and intellectual creativity.

    And finally, I’m always so puzzled when stuff like this happens because it could have been SO EASILY AVOIDED with a FOOTNOTE, or at least SOME SORT OF ATTRIBUTION, even if it were an author’s note (and, of course, no actual quoting or close paraphrasing of the reference work).  Heck, even Ian McEwan included SOME attribution to Lucilla Andrews’s autobiography, as insufficient as it may have been.

  11. 11
    liz says:

    Why do you hate Janet Dailey?

    Look, i’ve got no idea what Edwards did or didn’t do – never read her books, want to wash my eyeballs at the thought – but if she didn’t run over my dog I’m sure she kicked it.

    I appreciate the hard work authors do but after a book is out, it’s out. And even if someone does have a jones against a particular author the implication that dissecting that book, trashing that book, or putting it on a pillar and kissing it nightly is out of line annoys me. It’s out, it’s there, it’s free game to converse about in the manner of conversing.

    It’s not like she’s saying Cassie Edwards smells bad and is a sexual deviant. It’s discussion (and has been) about the quality of work.

  12. 12
    B says:

    Is a UK university actually quite harsh on this?  If that sort of passages got into an essay, even with a reference, it would still be plagiarism and not put in our own words enough. Instant zero if you’re not a fresher.

  13. 13
    snarkhunter says:

    because that’s the community that takes plagiarism so deadly serious

    And yet academics are some of the worst plagiarizers out there.

    I was a speaker at a luncheon on plagiarism this past semester, and some of the stuff I found…a lot of it is unintentional, but frequently academics, like any other group of writers, just hope they won’t get caught.

    The big difference, I suppose, is that the academic community at large is violently opposed, and most of us (especially English teachers, of which I am one) work our butts off to keep it from happening.

  14. 14
    snarkhunter says:

    Candy, I can’t get to a library right now, as I’m still home on Christmas break, but I can certainly run the passages through the available databases from here. I can access a lot of the standard academic/scholarly databases. I don’t know if that would help or not. E-mail me if you think it would help.

  15. 15
    Robin says:

    I appreciate the hard work authors do but after a book is out, it’s out. And even if someone does have a jones against a particular author the implication that dissecting that book, trashing that book, or putting it on a pillar and kissing it nightly is out of line annoys me. It’s out, it’s there, it’s free game to converse about in the manner of conversing.

    I can appreciate how the “jones” can seem a bit harsh to others.  I mean, Crusie and another author posted something on Crusie’s blog a while back that effected a deep-seated change in how I view their author-blogger personae (although I still appreciate and regularly recommend some of their books), so when I saw her comment, I had a flashback moment that exacerbated my frustration with the current comment.  It diminished my ‘benefit of the doubt’ margin, in other words, and I can certainly admit that. 

    But what you are saying here is also very true, IMO.  These posts are in reference to a PUBLIC work of fiction and a commercial product, intended for monetary profit to the author and publisher.  Edwards as a person is not being indicted or publicly mocked.  And in this case, the fact that it’s consistently the perceived quality of Edwards’s work that receives the mocking here to begin with (not her personally), the passages the SBs have uncovered are in tandem with those original complaints, IMO. So jones or no-jones, IMO that shouldn’t decide the value of what was revealed here.  Nor, of course, should it be cause for a posse, either, IMO.

  16. 16
    Robin says:

    And yet academics are some of the worst plagiarizers out there.

    I was a speaker at a luncheon on plagiarism this past semester, and some of the stuff I found…a lot of it is unintentional, but frequently academics, like any other group of writers, just hope they won’t get caught.

    The big difference, I suppose, is that the academic community at large is violently opposed, and most of us (especially English teachers, of which I am one) work our butts off to keep it from happening.

    I think this is a big difference, in part because the more prominent a scholar is, the more likely their work circulates widely enough for the plagiarism to be discovered.  And then there is a balancing to be done based on how much of it is original—how honest is the overall scholarship, in other words.

    I do get frustrated with the fact that famous scholars can seem to get away with plagiarism, although if they have also produced a large body of original and valuable work, I can see the trade-off less harshly.  But yes, I do think in general the academic community is almost rabidly anti-plagiarism, if for no other reason than we all recognize we have a personal stake in its prevention.  And we’re not at all shy about calling others out for it, despite the fact that I think any scholar worth their creds has a fair amount of fear of unconsciously plagiarizing when producing any work of significant size and depth.

  17. 17

    And finally, I’m always so puzzled when stuff like this happens because it could have been SO EASILY AVOIDED with a FOOTNOTE, or at least SOME SORT OF ATTRIBUTION, even if it were an author’s note (and, of course, no actual quoting or close paraphrasing of the reference work).

    So you actually propose to put bibliographies at the end of each work of fiction? To document all your sources as if you were writing an academic text?

  18. 18
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Sandra, that’s precisely what Susan Johnson did in some of her historicals.  And you can acknowledge in the Acknowledgements—I know I’ve seen that before.

    But no, I don’t think anyone seriously expects authors to provide a Bibliography for all their sources, because much of what they write is an accretion over many years’ research and reading.

    But this is unexcusable.  No accretion here.  Just plagiarism

  19. 19
    azteclady says:

    I don’t believe Robin is advocating that, Sandra.

    However, I do know I’ve seen many authors acknowledge their sources, even if just in general terms. What I see in these posts is plain cut and paste—not only should Ms Edwards have used her own voice/words, but shouldn’t there be some attribution?

  20. 20
    Robin says:

    What Sarah F. said.  IMO there’s a world of difference between a full academic bibliography and virtual transcription of research materials into a book without any sort of attribution.  We’re not talking about the insertion of facts here, either, or even the use of widely held ideas or commonly known information.

    I know it’s taboo for authors to give the impression of criticizing each other, but I’m kind of perplexed by some of the author comments (and silences) on these here threads.

  21. 21
    azteclady says:

    or what Sarah Frantz said….

    (spamfoiler: justice11—talk about eerie!)

  22. 22
    azteclady says:

    liz: Google Janet Daily and Nora Roberts, and you’ll understand the reference.

  23. 23

    Just to clarify: I work in academia, I teach English lit at university; and it’s true that plagiarism in academia has become a big problem, but I do regard fictional writing as a completely different thing. It’s obvious that it’s not such a good idea to use verbatim quotations from copyrighted works. However, when you write a historical novel you simply can’t document all your sources. And what about intertextual references? Should Pratchett have included all his sources for a novel like Witches Abroad?

  24. 24

    Gah, you comment faster than it takes me to write a comment.

    I know it’s taboo for authors to give the impression of criticizing each other, but I’m kind of perplexed by some of the author comments (and silences) on these here threads.

    Because authors tend to be paranoid and very easily start secondguessing themselves. When I wrote my first novel, I included two long chapters that are set at Holland House, and I did some extensive research on the Holland House Circle in the early 19th century. It frankly never occurred to me that I ought to mention the research books I’d used in the author’s note. But of course, if you would compare Lloyd Sanders THE HOLLAND HOUSE CIRCLE with those chapters you would find similarities.

  25. 25
    Kate says:

    Sandra: While I don’t agree with you that documenting all your sources in a historical novel is out of the question, that may depend largely on how many and what type of sources you’re using.  Here, though, Edwards appears not to have merely drawn upon source texts for background information, but lifted their words wholesale.  Even with bibliographical credit given—which it wasn’t—this kind of apparent copying would seem pretty sketchy to me.  If what occurred is actually plagiarism, she didn’t just steal uncredited information from these source works, but also their authors’ voices and styles.

  26. 26

    Just to clarify again (and I really shouldn’t write these comments at 10.30 in the evening): I’m not talking specifically about Cassie Edwards, but I’m thinking about this problem of attribution in fiction in more general terms. If that makes sense.

  27. 27

    Sandra, come on. There is a difference between cutting & pasting and LEGAL researching. You do the research about, for example, the ingredients and benefits of a certain dish, and then you work it into the story. Maybe even using language your character would use in a conversation. For God’s sake, if these passages are accurate, she couldn’t have just pulled them from memory. She had to have been typing them in with the other book open in front of her!

    This isn’t about a stray and common phrase like “It’s also very fattening.” *sigh*

    It is sad. And I feel sorry for her too, in the same way I feel sorry for other people who make bad decisions. (Again, assuming this is all accurate. And I assume it is. Very damning.)

  28. 28

    Sorry, Sandra, I posted above you before seeing yours. I do understand the dilemma about whether an author has phrased it differently enough, etc. But the examples posted today are waaaay over the line.

    Apologies for assuming you were talking specifically about Ms. Edwards.

  29. 29
    Robin says:

    Because authors tend to be paranoid and very easily start secondguessing themselves. When I wrote my first novel, I included two long chapters that are set at Holland House, and I did some extensive research on the Holland House Circle in the early 19th century. It frankly never occurred to me that I ought to mention the research books I’d used in the author’s note. But of course, if you would compare Lloyd Sanders THE HOLLAND HOUSE CIRCLE with those chapters you would find similarities.

    I understand this, Sandra, as I made a similar comment about the bind we feel as academics—part of a community where we hate plagiarism but IMO smart if we fear unconsciously doing it ourselves, especially in an extensively researched work.

    But why not talk about that, at least?  Especially since authors seem to be so willing to talk about ARC sales or fan fiction or blogger-reviewers, etc. 

    I worry, sometimes, that these kinds of incident might lead more authors to argue that no one should take the history in Romance seriously (i.e. that Romance isn’t encyclopedic in nature).  And that’s one of the reasons I think this is an issue worth parsing out a bit.  Like can we at least agree on a baseline where copying or closely paraphrasing original non-fiction research into a fiction novel is a no no and then go from there?  Is that a fair baseline?  You’ve started hitting on some of the gray areas, IMO, like how authors should or shouldn’t handle any extensive research they do. 

    I guess I’d draw the line somewhat like this:  I don’t think an author needs to attribute when she uses facts, dates, modes of dress or food or other aspects of daily life, historical events, common ideas of the day, or other cultural artifacts.  But if, for example, she wants to write a novel based on a controversial historical thesis, for example, written by a particular scholar, I think that deserves attribution. 

    I think Ian McEwan owed Lucinda Andrews more attribution, too, because he was clearly relying on her written work of experiences personal to her.  I don’t think he needed to insert a bibliography into his novel, but what would it have hurt to have included a brief note indicating that he used some of the incidents in her book as grist for his fictional work?  I can’t remember the exact wording of his reference to her in Atonement, but I don’t think it went that far (someone please correct me if I’m wrong here).

    Honestly, I wish some authors would consider more extensive author’s notes about their historical sources, not because I’m afraid they’re plagiarizing, but simply because I adore history and am always looking for more cool stuff to read.  When authors are using research to create cultural background, however, I don’t expect them to name their sources.  At the same time, though, I don’t expect them to be moving sentences or phrases from a secondary text to their fictional work without attribution.  And truly, I don’t think that’s an unfair expectation.

  30. 30
    liz says:

    “liz: Google Janet Daily and Nora Roberts, and you’ll understand the
    reference.”

    Azteclady –

    I was being sarcastic to JC. No google needed, but thanks.

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