Kay Manning, Peyton Bradshaw, Kristal Singletary, and Plagiarism

Since January there's been coverage of plagiarism on Amazon, with folks self-publishing works in the public domain or copying works by other authors, slapping their own names on them, and selling them.

NPR and FastCompany covered the problem in January regarding plagiarised works – including in one case a word-for-word copy of Dracula – posted as “erotica” – which tends to sell rather briskly.

One issue is that even if Amazon responds and removes the content, the onus is on the author who was plagiarized to seek any damages. From this article at Appazoogle:

Just to give you one more recent example, Elise Bauer, food blogger at Simply Recipes, discovered that her recipes and photos had been stolen and repackaged as an ebook through Amazon’s Kindle store. After complaining, Amazon informed Bauer that they unlisted the book, but if she believed she was entitled to compensation by the guilty parties, it was up to her to take action.

Well, no wonder people are angry. For someone who never submitted her content to Amazon in the first place, why is the onus on her to play avenger?

And apparently, according to the Bauer article, it is pretty easy to bypass the system—you simply have to check a box verifying that you have the rights to use the content. If someone is stealing someone else’s work in the first place, obviously they’re not going to have any problem checking that box, no matter who owns the material.

Today romance author Liz Fielding found that one of her novellas, The Cinderella Valentine, was republished by Kay Manning, only Manning changed the names, location and a few minor details. The odd thing was, Manning listed the story for free.

Later, Manning allegedly stated that she took the short story down herself:

Kay Manning Feb 24, 2012 06:17 AM
Smashwords responded to NOTHING. I took down the story because of my mistake. I know no one would believe it but it was an honest mistake. I put this story in the wrong folder on my computer and actually thought it was mine that I started a long time ago. If I really wanted to 'steal it' do you honestly think I would have put it up for free? What do I benefit off it?”

That's a new one! It was in the wrong folder on a computer! That's totally one for the ages. 

As for Manning's question as to what she could benefit from publishing the story… well, funny you should ask that, Ms. Manning.

 

Enter Elizabeth Chadwick, whose GoogleFu is unlike any GoogleFu that has googlefued before. Chadwick found Manning's Goodreads listing and from there, the can of whoop-ass, it was mightily cracked.

Chadwick found that A Soldier's Valentine “by” Kay Manning is nearly identical in description to Catherine Mann's An Evening to Remember, only with names and a few details changed.

A Soldier's Valentine:

“Go! Go! Go!”

Captain Shawn “Iceman” Isaacs hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief's order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. The silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward Fryar Drop Zone, the part of Fort Benning Military Reservation located in Alabama.

Somewhere in the soft fields below Tammy Lowe waited for him.

Of course, she didn't know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, he needed the jump to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.

He'd enlisted her co-workers' aid to ensure Tammy would come for a Valentine's surprise—even if Valentine's Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Shawn would be landing at her feet.

Catherine Mann's An Evening to Remember:

“Go! Go! Go!”

Captain Vince “Novocain” Novak hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief’s order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. Then the silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward the landing zone at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

A speck of grass in Tampa where McKenzie Rowe waited for him.

Of course she didn’t know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter pilot, he was also jump qualified and needed to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.

He’d enlisted her co-workers’ aid to ensure McKenzie would come for a Valentine’s surprise—even if Valentine’s Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Vince would be landing at her feet.

Chadwick found Manning's “Casino Caper” matched Marie Ferrarella's “Countdown.”

Chadwick also identified “Manning's” “Bachelor Auction,” which is for sale at Scribd, as Gena Dalton's “Red Roses,” all of which is available free online at Harlequin's site.

Bachelor Auction:

“And the last bachelor up for bids is…”Luke tuned out the auctioneer’s voice and wondered for the millionth time how he’dgotten roped into this. A bachelor auction was definitely
not his style – even if it was for a good cause.

Tugging at the collar of his starched dress shirt, he shifted uneasily as the auctioneer continued his sales pitch. Should he smile? Pose? Pinned in a corral with an angry bull intent onripping his insides out was just another day at the office. But he just didn’t feel comfortable upon stage with a blinding spotlight shining on him. He hoped he didn’t look as nervous as he felt.The auctioneer drove up the bids with his ongoing commentary – but all Luke could hear was the roar of the crowd as women yelled out numbers and cheered each other. Squinting intothe lights, he tried to make out who was bidding on him, but the dark shapes he could just make out gave little answers.

“Sold!”

Then, before he knew it, the gavel sounded.But to who..?

Melanie Lowell. He knew it, somewhere deep in his gut, even before he found her in the crowd. That had been his luck lately. Melanie told him before the auction she’d do whatever it took to get him and a woman like her was used to getting everything she wanted.

And today was no different. The brilliant green victory glance she shot his way confirmed his hunch and sent a thrill down his spine in spite of his best effort to resist it. He looked away and set his jaw. He had to tamp down his annoyance at her success or she’d havehim hog-tied before he knew what hit him.

Yet he felt the corners of his mouth lift in a grin as he followed the other bachelors acrossthe stage. Dressed in sharp black tuxedos, they tromped down the steps to the floor of the arenalike penguins on parade. He was looking forward to being with her again. Melanie was a lot of fun.

Red Roses:

“And the last bachelor up for bids is…”

Alex tuned out the auctioneer’s voice and wondered for the millionth time how he’d gotten roped into this. A bachelor auction was definitely not his style — even on Valentine’s Day. But, he reminded himself, this was for a good cause.

Tugging at the collar of his uniform, he shifted uneasily as the auctioneer continued his sales pitch. Should he smile? Pose? He just didn’t feel comfortable up on stage with a blinding spotlight shining on him. He hoped he didn’t look as nervous as he felt.

The auctioneer was driving up the bids — but all Alex could hear was the roar of the crowd as women yelled out numbers and cheered each other on. Squinting into the lights, he tried to make out who was bidding on him, but to no avail.

Then, before he knew it, the gavel sounded. He’d been sold! But to who…?

Taylor Fanning. He knew it, somewhere deep in his gut, before he even looked at her again. That was about his luck lately. Besides, Taylor had plainly told him that she was going to get him and she was famous all over Texas for always getting whatever she went after.

Sure enough, one glance at her confirmed his hunch. She shot him a blazing blue victory glance and a smile that sent a thrill down his spine in spite of his best effort to resist it. He looked away and set his jaw. He had to hold on to his aggravation or she’d have him roped and hog-tied before he knew what hit him.

Yet he felt the corners of his mouth lift in a grin as he followed the other bachelor rodeo cowboys, all dressed in the Valentine’s Day “uniform” — tuxedos — that the auction had required them to wear, across the portable stage toward the steps leading to the floor of the arena. He was looking forward to being with her again. Taylor was a lot of fun.

Kay S. Manning also writes under the name Payton Bradshaw (I'm guessing she likes quarterbacks?) and “published” “An Early Christmas Present” with MuseitUp Publishing. Joanna Bourne found that this story is nearly identical to Julia Kenner's story “Wrapped and Ready” in the Harlequin Anthology Red Hot Holiday. The excerpt on “Payton Bradshaw's” Goodreads page is nearly identical to the Kenner story.

Bourne, who with Chadwick are kicking ass and taking names in the Google department, also found that Kay Manning's real name is listed in this military newspaper article as Kristal Singletary. Singletary also blogs, and, as Bourne reported, plagiarizes, that, too:

Jo Bourne said

By K.H. Singletary on her blog at:

http://khsingletary.blogspot.com/2009/03/part-3-developing-your-creative-process.html

“Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great writing”

 


Developing a Creative Process by George Shaw. This is at:

http://www.howdesign.com/design-creativity/idea-generating-tips/developing-a-creative-process/

“Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great design “

Kristal Singletary is also listed as the treasurer of RWA's Kiss of Death chapter.

One would think folks would learn by now that if you plagiarize, you're going to get caught, especially with the powerful magic of Google cache and Google books for searching phrases. Alas, Manning seems to have been quite blithe about her “publishing career.”

The best part: Liz Fielding posted her original entry at about 1:20 pm.

By 8:02 pm she wrote:

Today I stand in awe at the power of friendship.

Within hours of blogging that my story had been plagiarised the guilty party has closed her blog to all but the invited, removed her twitter account and all the books she purported to have written have been removed from Smashwords.

Many thanks to everyone who left a comment here, or on twitter or facebook today.

I hope Bourne, Chadwick, Fielding and the others who GoogleFu'd the crap out of Kay Manning and Kristal Singletary are drinking a well-earned frosty beverage tonight. Well played. 

ETA 25 February 2012: 

Kay Manning left a comment on Dear Author:

Kay Manning
FEB 24, 2012 @ 22:31:43
I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.

 

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

 

To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.

Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

So she went from “I put the story in the wrong file and thought it was mine” to “I am sorry, I'm a thief, a plagiarist” after Dear Author, SBTB, Twitter and Jo Bourne, Elizabeth Chadwick and many others found a hot pile of examples that it wasn't just one story and it wasn't just something she was offering for free.

I have mixed feelings about that apology. On one hand, that was pretty much a full and complete admission of how badly she's fucked up. But had it come earlier instead of “What do I gain from posting that for free” and “oops wrong folder,” it would have been met with less skepticism and more acceptance. At this point, I have Rhianna stuck in my head (and it is TOO EARLY for that): “Don't tell me you're sorry, cause you're not. You know you're only sorry you got caught.” 

This apology, in as big a forum as one could ask for, is like a politician getting caught mismanaging funds or having wild raunchy times with those not his wife. There's apologies for seeing what one did was wrong and stating so, and there's apologies that come after having been caught doing what was wrong, then caught for lying about it, and only then offering the full apology. She published one of “her” books as recently as December 2011. 

This is something I think plagiarists are having a hard time understanding: online, with so much text to search and so many sources to compare, you'll get caught. Do the work yourself. 

ETA: I received a reply from the Kiss of Death chapter, and it matches the email posted in the comments by Avery Flynn:

Kiss of Death is dedicated to promoting and supporting the mystery/suspense genre with romantic elements through the championship of good writing through our educational and awards programs. As such, I have accepted the resignation of our treasurer, per her request, and in the best interest of the organization.

AJ Brower, President
Kiss of Death

Categorized:

Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I’m going to copy my comment from Liz Fielding’s blog:

    If Kay Manning and Payton Bradshaw are the same person, it looks like she’s plagiarized Lori Foster.

    Payton Bradshaw’s “WIP” Snowbound at Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/autho…

    “Yeah, right.” He slanted her a sideways look. “No one, most especially you, would buy into that fantasy.”

    Pressing closer, she hugged herself to his arm. “You underestimate my talents at transformation. I think you should consider my idea. It’d be fun.”

    At that moment, Matthew thought he might consider anything. In the heated interior of the car, he could smell Laura’s unique scent, all soft and female, not sweet, but rather musky and sexual and arousing. It made him nuts. It made him want her.

    And Lori Foster’s Stranded! at Harlequin (http://www.harlequin.com/artic…, down toward the bottom:

    “Yeah, right.” He slanted her a sideways look. “No one, most especially you, would buy into that fantasy.”

    Pressing closer, she hugged herself to his arm, and said, “You underestimate my talents at transformation. I think you should consider my idea. It’d be fun.”

    At that moment, Rock thought he might consider anything. In the heated interior of the car, he could smell Kelli’s unique scent, all soft and female, not sweet, but rather musky and sexual and arousing. It made him nuts. It made him want her.

  2. 2
    Aidaalberto66 says:

    I’m speechless.  Absolutely speechless.  I had also checked the other books that she had listed as her own and am thrilled that someone better educated in that department recognized the books as works of others.

  3. 3
    PhyllisLaatsch says:

    I’m just…. gobsmacked, to use the British word. That’s just… I’m seriously speechless here.

  4. 4

    Wow. Just wow.

    It takes a boatload of arrogance and gutsyness to pull off something like this, and it’s shocking that Manning/Bradshaw/Singletary didn’t put her sheer balls into writing her own stuff.

  5. 5

    Wow. I am absolutely speechless and horrified reading this. Like, need-a-stiff-drink horrified. I’m glad Liz Fielding’s tale had a happy ending, but the thought that this is a wide spread problem is so… disgusting. That’s the only way I can describe it.

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    I am routinely baffled by the effort it takes to change all the names, minute details, and whatnot, then the time to publish it in multiple venues (one of Manning/Singletary’s books is still for sale at Sony’s ebookstore from what I could tell, for example). Why not write something of your own?

    I mean, my gosh, just coding this entry with all the links and formatting took the better part of an hour, and I was quoting and citing other people! Sheesh.

  7. 7
    o1k says:

    Does anyone know if the RWA chapter has made any move at all?  Just curious.

  8. 8

    Google-fu for the win! Good job, ladies. *claps hands* Enjoy your frosty beverage.

  9. 9
    Olivia Waite says:

    I mean, we all know writing is hard, but then you write that one perfect sentence and it all feels worth it. This seems like all the hard without any of the fun—plus, moral turpitude, social stigma, and expensive legal troubles!

  10. 10
    Lori says:

    Wow.  Has anyone notified RWA national and/or the local chapter?

  11. 11
    Zia says:

    I don’t quite understand how Amazon isn’t held responsible in any way.  If a business is a front for stolen goods, there is no responsibility?

  12. 12
    Jane Doe says:

    FWIW, Kay Manning has apologized in the comments section of this Dear Author post (#5 comment) http://dearauthor.com/features…

  13. 13

    This is absolutely ridiculous.  How is it that she has gotten away with this for so long?  Haven’t other people realized that her stuff is literally lifted from other books?

    This just seems to be the week for that sort of thing.  My cousin found out the other night that her proposal was ripped off by some community schmuck, who sent it in to the Mayor.  What sickens me the most is that the ideas that he stole from her were part of a high school project for which this same man gave her an award two years ago when she was a junior.  The only reason she realized he had taken her ideas without her knowledge or consent was that she intended on talking about her project in a class yesterday.  Her professor told her to find an article supporting her position and when she googled she found a youtube video that this guy posted in which he quoted her project verbatim without attributing it to her.  (The best part is that he uploaded his video to youtube in November of 2010, only 6 months after giving her an award for the project.)  My aunt is trying to figure out how to get this guy to acknowledge that the ideas he presented were not his own, but my cousin is only concerned with the fact that this guy only had access to certain parts of her project and so doesn’t know what he’s talking about, which of course would mean that if the proposal is chosen it probably wouldn’t be done properly.

  14. 14
    Brooklyn Ann says:

    Holy WTF, Batman! This is scarier than the Cassie Edwards scandal! It’s one of the many things about self-publishing that disturbs me. How easy this thievery can happen.

  15. 15
    Lucy Francis says:

    I kneel and bow in the directions of the GoogleFu masters who cracked this wide open. I thought my Google skills were pretty good, but you ladies…you work in Google like an art medium. Bravo!

  16. 16
    Deerhart says:

    IIt’s hard to imagine in this day and age that people aren’t aware of things like copyright,  palgerism etc.  The extent of this is very sad,  not just because of the authors and readers that have been betrayed,  but because someone wanted to be an author so badly without putting in the actual work.

  17. 17
    Aurelia B Rowl says:

    I’m still speechless this morning, but it has shown me the community side of writing; strangers coming together to offer support and pro-actively taking steps to try and make a wrong-doing right.

  18. 18
    Sizzzler11 says:

    What kind of a person does this? She should absolutely be ashamed of herself, and admitting her actions does not excuse or forgive them. And shame on amazon, they need to step up and take responsibility for allowing this to happen on their site.

  19. 19
    Aidaalberto66 says:

    I found two more on the Sony store site where I purchase some of my books and I sent them a message stating that they are books by other authors and asking them to take them down.

  20. 20
    Aidaalberto66 says:

    The name that she is using there is Kay Manning.  We have to take a stand for the authors and the amazing work they do.  As a writer hoping to be published someday I would be ever grateful if this ever happened to me and someone caught it and said something about it.  I have a friend by the name of Kate Rothwell that this too happened to her recently.

  21. 21
    Sandy James says:

    I’m baffled by what a plagiarist hopes to accomplish. We’ve not looking at a lot of financial gain here, so I have a hard time believing money is the motive. The greatest joy I get as an author is when a reader tells me she loved my story. Does a plagiarist expect to have support of readers the same way? Is it an ego boost? How could she possibly expect to be accepted within any community of writers?  Again…I’m simply baffled by what motivates a person to do such a thing.

  22. 22
    Liz Fielding says:

    Sandy, there were three very sweet reviews of my story on Smashwords – which was gratifying!

  23. 23
    Sandy James says:

    Congrats!! It’s always nice to get good “reviews” from readers!! Will be looking for your stories!! :)

  24. 24
    alysonli says:

    I’ve heard this “I thought it was something I wrote a long time ago!” nonsense before, and I STILL don’t get how anyone thinks that’s a believable argument.  I KNOW my writing voice and I KNOW what I’ve written, especially fiction.  I’m not going to stumble across some story on my hard drive and think “Wow, I’m a surprisingly good writer who doesn’t remember writing a word of this!”  The mind boggles.

  25. 25
    Ren says:

    But someone who’s never written anything herself doesn’t have a voice or material to recognize.

  26. 26
    HistoryLady says:

    Hi, as an aspiring writer, I’ve been following this issue with interest (and shock).  I’m currently studying for a degree with the Open University.  All our material is run through special software after submission to check for any signs of plagiarism.  If anything is found amiss, then we risk either losing valuable marks or being thrown off the course altogether.  Of course this is a different issue – but nonetheless one which hopefully will be addressed sooner rather than later.  It’s such a pity that someone should do such a thing.

  27. 27

    Actually, Sarah, it wouldn’t take much effort at all to change names, etc.  Just read it through once, making a list of all the characters and place names.  Then do a global find/replace for each one and you’re done.  If she was really dedicated to the quality of her plagiarized work, she might reread it afterwards, just to catch any names not found in the find/replace operation because they were misspelled in the original … but that seems like a lot of work for someone who is practicing such an extremely lazy form of plagiarism.  (I mean really, not even bothering to reword or rephrase *anything*?!)  Counting both the initial reading and final proofreading, as well as finding/replacing, the whole thing could be done in a day, if that much.

  28. 28

    To Zia (and anyone else wondering about Amazon’s lack of legal responsibility):
    I’m a law student, and my focus is IP law so I know a decent amount about this, but I’m not a full-fledged lawyer, standard disclaimers apply, etc. Part of what’s going on with Amazon’s lack of responsibility is a provision in the Copyright Act that protects OSPs as long as they don’t have actual knowledge of the infringing material posted by 3rd parties on their site and respond promptly to takedown requests (which it sounds like Amazon did here, so well done them). The other part is that in order to sue for copyright infringement, one must own the copyright (this is called having “standing”, if you’re curious). Amazon does not own the copyright to any of these works, and therefore cannot sue the plagiarist. I would add that it’s probably not worth it to sue the plagiarist unless she made a lot of money from her plagiarism, because lawsuits are hella expensive. But, if the infringed-upon authors banded together and found a lawyer to work pro bono, they could maybe get her to settle since she’s freely admitted to stealing (again, if there’s actually money worth going to the effort of getting from her—and actually if she’s wealthy from other sources it might be worth it). It is also, of course, a federal crime to infringe copyright, so there is the potential for criminal prosecution, but I don’t know much about that side of things.

  29. 29
    Annabeth Albert says:

    I commented over at Dear Author that I’m not sure we can trust her apology. How do we know that the *real* Kay Manning wrote the apology? If it’s her, then I suppose her apology is deserving of respect, but I see it as a ploy to garner sympathy and direct anger & attention away from what she did. If its not illegal or sue-able, it should be. And I don’t think a public apology should deter the affected authors from seeking damages. Should embezzlers who apologize when caught get off? I don’t think so. I see some paralells here to adultery—does the occasional otherwise good person make a single mistake that they regret and atone for over years to re-earn trust? Yes. Does the serial adulterer—the one who does it over and over and over, who makes pretty apologies and then does it again, who remarries (or changes name in the publishing world) and does it again—does that person ever regain trust? No. At the point that it becomes pathological lying behavior, trust is going to be almost impossible to regain, and rightfully so. The apology does *sound* sincere, but how do you trust the sincerty of someone who stole so many works so blatantly? I’m not sure you can. How many times have we seen serial adulterers and sports cheats offer tearful public apologies only to repeat the same behavior again and again? If underlying mental health issues are at work here, I hope she seeks treatment. And I hope she returns the money. That might be a start at proof of sincerty. She does deserve an RWA ban too.

  30. 30
    Liz Fielding says:

    Kira, she changed the location from London to Atlanta and Americanized my English words – changing things like buggy to stroller.

    I am, however, hearing that she’s being hounded and threatened on the ‘net Can I just say that while I’m not giving her absolution – she didn’t just steal from me – nobody died here.

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