RWA Reponds to Plagiarism Accusations

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 | Updated Statement from Signet | The NY Times Art Section Story | Cassie Edwards: Remarkable Similarities to Laughing Boy


The RWA has released a statement regarding the plagiarism accusations against Cassie Edwards:

There are heated discussions on various loops and blogs regarding the accusations of plagiarism against a published romance author. Some questions have also been raised regarding RWA’s stand on the matter. To be clear, RWA does not condone plagiarism or any type of copyright infringement. (Please see RWA’s Code of Ethics ).

RWA takes all accusations of plagiarism very seriously. RWA also stands behind the idea that guilt or innocence should be determined after a thorough review of all documents and sources, not based on discussions or articles found on the internet or in other news media.

Within RWA, there is a process in place to examine claims of plagiarism made against RWA members. That process includes a set of procedures that affords the individual due process. Any member found to be in violation of RWA’s Code of Ethics is subject to disciplinary action including loss of membership.

According to information RWA has, Cassie Edwards was once a member of RWA and is listed on RWA’s Honor Roll; however, it appears she allowed her membership to lapse four or more years ago. If guilt is admitted or established, RWA will take appropriate steps with regard to the Honor Roll listing.

Members have raised questions about a news article that includes a quote by RWA’s president. The president was asked to give an expert opinion on the issue based solely upon information available in internet blogs. The president does not have enough first-hand information to adequately assess the allegations.

Romance Writers of America

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  1. 1
    rebyj says:

    Well thats a better response than the previous one , in my opinion.

    And the fact that they address the questions about the RWA’s presidents initial response impresses me.

  2. 2
    GrowlyCub says:

    From what I just saw it seem that RWA also sent out a message to their members telling them not to discuss this issue since it’s a matter for the lawyers. I’m paraphrasing here. 

    I’m not an RWA member, but I’d love to see what exactly RWA told their members since it seems instead of using this opportunity to educate their writers on what constitutes plagiarism they confused them by implying that until there was a legal indictment against Ms. Edwards had done nothing wrong.

  3. 3
    Nikki says:

    GrowlyCub—

    I’m a member of RWA and the only message sent to members regarding this mess was a copy of the official statement posted here & Dear Author.

  4. 4
    Nora Roberts says:

    There is no e-mail to members of this nature. I’m a charter member, I have scores of friends who are members. No one’s gotten this e-mail.

    It would be way beyond RWA’s jurisdiction, so to speak, to tell its members to zip it, on any subject.

    It doesn’t work like that.

  5. 5
    GrowlyCub says:

    Hi all!

    Thanks for clearing that up. I didn’t believe there was and hush hush order, but what this author claimed RWA had told members and of which I could find no evidence in the RWA statement SBTB listed here made me wonder.

    Needless to say I find it utterly frustrating that this woman is going around claiming that RWA told members that until there is a determination of guilt in the courts nobody would have enough information to decide on whether CE plagiarised or not.

    GrowlyCub

  6. 6
    Angelle says:

    Nora,

    does RWA have your email address and/or do you subscribe to their mailing lists?  That’s how they usually communicate with their members…

  7. 7
    Jessie Mitchell says:

    Ms. Roberts,

    I’ve been a huge fan of yours for years.  After reading how you’ve condemned Ms. Edwards already on here and through the AP, I will never purchase another of your books.

    If I remember correctly when you and Ms. Daily were in the news it was very short lived and in the end she was forgiven by the public and went on with her writing.

    My eyes have been opened to whole new world in this industry.  As long as you’re liked everyone will stand up for you.  If people don’t like you or your books then it’s open season to slander people.

    Which is exactly what you did when you stated that Ms. Edwards is guilty! You are not a judge so what gives you the right to sit in judgment of other people.

    All of the authors who have involved themselves in this need to think about what their own fans may be thinking about seeing how they are acting. 

    I have found it very unprofessional.  There are a couple of authors who have made statements whose books I have bought.  Well…I won’t be wasting my money on a bunch of judgemental people anymore.

    I truly hope this site gets sued.  This should have been handled with tact in private between the accusers, Ms. Edwards, and the publishers.

    The SB’s are now getting their name out there and are getting their 15 minutes of fame.  In the end they will find they have only hurt themselves.

    Authors will be afraid to do or say anything regarding them for fear of having accusations made against them.

    It’s a shame that the SB’s had to take their dislike of Ms. Edwards and her books to this length.

    It shows exactly what kind of people they are.  They picked the perfect name for themselves.

  8. 8
    lisa says:

    Ouch!  May I just say that, in direct contrast with Ms. Mitchell’s statements, I was actually very impressed with Nora Roberts’ handling of the situation?  Fairly even-handed, and not afraid to dampen the outrage when some got a little off the rails.

    While I don’t have any plans to add Ms. Edwards to my bookshelf any time soon (though to be honest, I never did), I’m happy to go on record as the proud owner of 15 NR books thus far, and count the latest In Death to that number when it comes out.

    Plagiarism (as we all *should* know) is an uber-serious accusation, one that seems to have been taken pretty seriously by this site and the Bitchery.  I’m glad to see some of my favorite authors taking a strong stand on the matter.

  9. 9
    Nora Roberts says:

    I’ve given my honest opinion here, and to reporters when contacted by them, on the situation and particularly on plagiarism. Believe me, since I was plagiarized and chose to fight back, I’m used to some blaming me for being mean.

    I’m always sorry to lose a reader, but if that reader believes I have no right to speak out on plagiarism, it can’t be helped.

  10. 10
    Jessie says:

    Ms. Roberts:

    Emailing the press, providing them with your photograph is nothing more than you putting your nose in something that doesn’t involve you.

    I dearly hope you get called on the carpet by your publishers for what you did.  And…I would love to see Ms. Edwards sue you for your statement.

    You may think you’re special but you are no better than anyone else.

    You are just trying to get your face plastered everywhere so you can get some attention.

    I’ll be spending the afternoon burning every book I own of yours and any other author on here who has not acted professionally.

    You people have already had your trial and convicted Ms. Edwards when her own publisher says she did nothing wrong.

    I hope this turns around and bites you on the backside.  You would deserve it!

    And…my boss said that this site has opened themselves up for a lawsuit and so have you!

  11. 11
    Katherine says:

    Yeah, book burning always screams rational person to me.

  12. 12
    Kimberly Anne says:

    Handling accusations of plagiarism in private doesn’t seem like such a grand idea, actually.  If the accused is in fact guilty, then their readers should know and be able to act in accordance with their beliefs.  And if the accused is innocent, then they should be vindicated in the public eye.

    Keeping plagiarism under the table just allows more people to engage in it.

    Hmmm.  Mitchell.  Any relation to our other troll?

  13. 13
    Nora Roberts says:

    Oh, Jessie, you’re so misinformed. I didn’t e-mail the press—they e-mailed me. I responded.

    I didn’t provide them with a photograph. My photographs are on file from previous stories.

    Yes, I am just like everyone else, and entitled to give my considered opinion, particularly about a topic which is important to me.

    I have spoken with my publisher. No carpet was involved for either party.

    Burning books is, of course, the answer and act of thinking, rational people. Have at it.

  14. 14
    Stephanie says:

    Nora,

    Each time I read a new comment or response penned by you on this forum I am struck anew by your professionalism. You don’t get upset and name call. You explain: calmly and rationally. Sometimes you allow a hint of the righteously deserved smarm in. I consider you an example for writers, and hell, human beings in general. Thank you.

    P.S. If you ever create a perfume a la Steele I think you should call it Composure, because you have it in spades.

    With admiration,
    Stephanie

  15. 15
    MJ says:

    “The president was asked to give an expert opinion on the issue based solely upon information available in internet blogs.”

    …as opposed to all those *non*-Internet blogs? It has often seemed to me that the RWA would look a lot more professional if it had someone editing its communications with the press.

  16. 16
    Nik says:

    Dear SBs, Ms Roberts and all others who’ve spoken out against plagiarism and the inane attacks against them by book-burning trolls,

    You have my utmost admiration.  Thank you for being articulate and courageous.

    Nik G

    spamword: nation92 – you’re darned right, I’m part of a nation of people who believe that plagiarism is wrong and that plagiarists should be called out when they copy

  17. 17
    Ri L. says:

    Kimberly Anne: Yeah, I noticed that too.  I think the entire Mitchell family is trolling us now.  My, my, my, my, Mitchell.

    Burning books cause you disagree with what their author said?  Cry more, n00b.

  18. 18
    Ruth says:

    FWIW, which probably isn’t much, I’m so very impressed with the response of most of the authors who are here at SBTB. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve never read a novel by Nora Roberts. But after watching the professional way she has stood her ground on this issue, I am resolved to give her work a good look. The same goes for Victoria Dahl and the other authors chiming in.

    You are all on my to buy list!

  19. 19

    Yeah, BURN those books, Mitchell!  That’ll learn that Nora, who is just like everyone else except for the millions of best-selling books in print and the seven figure income. (All MY neighbors have millions of books in print…hey, she really IS just like everyone else!  You were totally right!  Why, why isn’t anyone listening to you?)

    Also, while you’re frantically scooping up every IN DEATH and McGregor book you can find in a pyro-manic fury, can you grab my books, too?  (It’s too much to hope that you haven’t bought any.)  Those are the UNDEAD books with Betsy the Vampire Queen, also the Alaskan Royal series and the Jennifer Scales series I write with my husband…just grab ‘em up, drench ‘em in charcoal fluid, and…whoooosh!  (But don’t forget to, you know, leave the house before you strike the match.) 

    Mmm.  Such a satisfying blaze.  You could use mine for, like, the kindling, and the IN DEATH ones could be…well, you probably know how to start a big book bonfire without my help.  But e-mail me (as Ms. Roberts did not e-mail the press) if you need my opinion.

    And also, don’t buy any of my upcoming ones.  In fact, would you e-mail me your picture (as Ms. Roberts did not e-mail the AP) so I can send it to book sellers so they know not to sell to you?  That would be swell.  They can keep it by the cash registers along with the checks that bounced.

    The picture might seem extreme (kind of like your e-mail), but you might weaken and sneak into a Borders and try to buy the new UNDEAD and I can’t have that.

    Sincerely yours,
    MaryJanice Davidson
    completely, totally, utterly uninvited

  20. 20
    Jaycie says:

    Ok, admittedly, I’m one of the newspaper readers, so I’m not nearly as informed as other readers here.

    However, I still have something to say, regarding the comments in this post.

    Based on the comments I have been able to pick out that were authored by Nora Roberts (my mind is completely overtaxed by all of this by now!) it seems as though she’s been cautious to clarify her statements that based on the evidence SBTB has presented, there is reason to believe Cassie Edwards did lift chunks of information from another source and placed within her novels without giving credit to the original source.

    I think that’s a big distinction here, because I don’t see Nora waving around a sign that says “CASSIE EDWARDS IS GUILTY!” She’s saying that based on what has been provided, there is merit to the argument provided by SBTB.

    Maybe I’m arguing semantics, but her tone actually doesn’t strike me as overly judgemental – she’s providing her own commentary on the information.

    And before you provide a rebuttal arguing that I’m a big NR fanatic and I’m just defending my author, that’s actually not true. I own some of her novels, yes, and I cringe everytime I contemplate buying one, because I attended one of her booksignings and was extremely offput by her attitude. I found her to be rude and condescending. I then have to remind myself that I’m not always Suzy Sunshine and perhaps she was having an off day, and that I should give her the benefit of the doubt and buy a book of hers on occasion anyway. Maybe I’m wrong, and the way she treated the fans is how she is. Maybe she wasn’t having a good day – my point for bringing this up is that if you have such a problem with her and you honestly can’t get past her words, what purpose does setting her books aflame really serve? It’s going to make one hell of a mess, and who knows, you could end up torching something precious of your own and that’s definitely not worth it.

    When I met her and was offended, I simply gave her books away. Sure, it wasn’t any different than setting them aflame, I suppose, because the end result was the same – it got rid of them, but if you burn books, that feels to me like you’re engaging in behavior that’s just as lowly as what you accuse her of.

    I don’t mean to come off as lecturing or condescending – sometimes there is great difficulty in determining someone’s tone through written words. I just felt strongly about this and wanted to say my piece.

  21. 21
    Nora Roberts says:

    ~I found her to be rude and condescending.~

    I’m so sorry! Sincerely. I have no idea when or where this was, but there’s no excuse for coming off that way. If I did so, I can only apologize.

    Public demeanor is important—impressions last.

  22. 22
    Jeanette says:

    Poor Nora, Its a wonder she doesn’t just say to hell with us all.

    I hate that acouple of people can turn this into a chance to bash Nora. She was asked her opinion and she answered honestly. SHE wasn’t the one that did anything wrong.

    Jessie…go ahead and burn her books she’s already been paid for them.

    As you can tell by the comments by the rational people Nora is a class act. So I guess you could say that some are smart bitches and some are just the opposite.

    P.S. I have been to many signings, I have been in line for hours for an autograph, saw her interview and open forum in Ft.Worth too. She totally opens herself up to her readers online, takes us with her on vacations and Kentucky Derbys. I find her very honest, a little dry on humor but always real.

  23. 23
    Poison Ivy says:

    This thread is degenerating into another blame Nora or defend Nora session. It’s not about Nora Roberts, who is an innocent bystander here who happened to get quoted because she herself has been the victim of a plagiarizer. (Whether Janet Dailey settled the matter out of court or not really is not relevant to the fact of her stealing Roberts’ writing and calling it her own. Dailey has no standing to sue me or anyone else for calling a spade a spade.)

    Let’s not forget that Cassie Edwards stands accused of stealing the writing of numerous writers who cannot defend themselves, either because they are dead, or because their books are no longer in copyright so they have no legal standing, or because they or their heirs can’t afford the lawsuit. 

    It is not mean to tell the truth about a thief. It is mean to defend a thief out of envy of others’ achievements.

  24. 24
    Jessie Mitchell says:

    Hmmm….Have I been blocked from posting my opinion because I don’t agree with you?

    I’ve made two posts on this thread and neither of them can be seen.

  25. 25
    DS says:

    Sincerely doubt you are blocked.  Server overload.  Check the note on I think the second page about suggestions on how not lose you post.

  26. 26
    Em says:

    As an English teacher, I’d just like to make one comment about this: if CE had been at our university and we caught this plagiarism, not only would she have failed the class, but she would have been expelled from the university.  It’s a serious crime.  A few similarities in a book can be dismissed—the large, repeated offenses that SBTB has cited cannot. 

    If CE wants to put herself forward as any type of educated person, then she should have known that citing her sources was a must.  Claiming fair-use here is idiotic: she used too much material, and she did it in an effort to beef up her own work for her own profit, which means fair-use doesn’t count. 

    Nora, you’re a class act.  I’m always stealing the newest of your books from my mother and enjoying them—and your originality.

  27. 27
    Jessie Mitchell says:

    Mary Janice Davidson,

    You don’t have to worry about me purchasing any of your books.

    Been there, done that, donated it.  If after three chapters I am not thoroughly into the story I toss it in the donation box.

    I read all genres of romance except for erotica and other books that could fall into that category.

    Oh and by the way…No one in my family is posting here but me.  Must be another Mitchell family out there. 

    You people and your accusations!

  28. 28
    KL says:

    Jaycie – your experience with Nora Roberts had to be an “off day.” I had the pleasure of being Nora’s personal troll at an RWA literacy signing event, and in spite of her clear exhaustion and aching hand, she was extraordinarily generous to each fan, and she weathered the evening with grace. At one point, I could see this look of relief in her eye as we depleted the box of books under her table… and when I brought another fresh box to her, that little eye twitch was the worst I got out of her. Well, there was a comment, but I know she wouldn’t seriously consider assault and battery. ;)

    She’s a class act all the way. I’m not a reader (it’s a personal taste thing – I just don’t gel with her writing style), but I’m a huge fan, and I buy her books as gifts for others. Yeah, she impressed me that much. So reconsider your judgment, maybe think about giving her another chance to prove you wrong. I’m sure you won’t be sorry.

  29. 29

    I was interested to see that the reader who initially discovered the unusual passages in Cassie Edwards’ book wasn’t a traditional romance reader.  Although, reading the passages that have been quoted and compared, I would think that anybody would read those strange sections of dialog and wonder why they were so weird, and seemed out of place for characters in that time period.

    I gave a trackback to this because I hope people will think to donate to the environmental and native American causes. 

    I’m commenting because I can’t believe terrible comments were made to Nora Roberts.  I really enjoy her writing.  I read some of the previous examples of plagiarism that she suffered.  She spent so much time in court.  As a different type of writer, I wasn’t aware that it continues to be controversial.

    Whatever people think, Nora Roberts certainly showed a lot of class right here, right now.  I enjoy her books as Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb.  These plagiarism examples are depressing and sad.  What is so hard about being enthusiastic about someone who writes her own work and exhibits talent and creativity?  Whatever people think about this current plagiarism – the writing of Cassie Edwards’ that I read – wasn’t that.  At all.

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