The New York Times Arts Section Carries the Story

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

An article about the Cassie Edwards controversy is in today’s New York Times Arts section, (login may be required). Mostly a summary of the incident, it highlights the ethical points we’ve debated, and links to the masterfully huge PDF Candy constructed that lines up the passages we found. Yay Candy!

I also have word from Michelle Styles that an article appeared in the Telegraph under the headline Romantic novelists out of love over plagiarism.




General Bitching...

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  1. Excellent comparison in that PDF—isn’t showing always more effective than telling?

    Your approach to forcing these findings to be acknowledged is absolutely the right thing to do.

    I’m an author, and I have to say that if another author was taking chunks of work that I’d labored over (whether through the writing, the research, or both) and calling it her own, I’d be furious.

    Thanks for pushing this issue.  It can only benefit the industry in the long run.

  2. tudorpot says:

    In the world of fanfiction a few years ago an author named ‘Cassandra Claire’ was found to have been plagiarising from published books and other fanfic writers. Is this a co-incidence?

    BTw do you have review listings by genre of romances? I’m fond of European Historical- Regency and later mostly English settings?

  3. Meezergrrrl says:

    Aw, Hell Yes! 

    The bitches have made a small part of journalism and publishing history.  By making the NYT, you’ve brought more respect to blogging as a form of journalism.  How cool is that?!?!

    What’s more, Nora Roberts’ and Sarah’s quoted statements hit the nail on the head.

    I’m glad somewhat at Signet removed their head from the lower anatomy long enough to really review the evidence.  That oughta teach someone to state before they think…

    One other thing that people may notice if they look further…  There seems to be a large portion of the Bitches and Dear Author communities who are either in law school, lawyers, or have a legal background.  Clearly, we are not only a well educated community, we are an extremely well educated community – which should be a surprise to no one around here, but might just turn a few weekly NYT Book Review readers’ heads.

    “Kudos, my hero[es]…”

    Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters. “My Hero.” _The Colour and the Shape._ CD. Prod. Gil Norton. Songs writ. Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters. Hollywood, CA: Capital/Roswell Records, 1997.

  4. DS says:

    I think search might be turned off right now due to the current hit on the servers.  Usually you can just plug in key words such as Regency and get a list of articles and reviews.

  5. Emma says:

    There’s just something about authors named Cassie.

  6. Madeline says:

    In the world of fanfiction a few years ago an author named ‘Cassandra Claire’ was found to have been plagiarising from published books and other fanfic writers. Is this a co-incidence?

    I think that the incident you described (which, to be fair, I should point out that I was involved with as a staff member and later as a founder of is not entirely a coincidence. I think that there is a major problem with fiction writing standards. They aren’t clear. I know what I consider plagiarism (and I consider some, but not all, of what Cassie Claire was accused of to be plagiarism; to begin with, I don’t remember her ever being accused of snitching from another fanfic author, at least not with evidence to back it up… but that’s another point and could have to do with my faulty memory). I know what the academy would consider plagiarism or improper citation of sources. But I don’t know what is plagiarism or improper citation of sources in general for fiction.

    I do think that Cassie Edwards clearly plagiarized. But I wonder about what can be considered an “allusion” – an uncredited sentence from Shakespeare is an allusion, but is an uncredited quip from Buffy? And I wonder about pastiches, and how close to the original one must get for it to be plagiarism.

    I think that there have to be real, hard answers to this, but no one is taught them in school, and there don’t seem to be any kind of industry standards that exist. I suspect that Cassie Edwards is telling the truth when she says that nobody told her it was plagiarism, although I think that she could have used her common sense better – and I think that the Pamela Dean paragraph that Cassie Claire used was definitely plagiarism, witting or unwitting. I know that some things that seem to me as non-plagiaristic, by common sense, are considered plagiaristic by others (the use of uncredited allusions to pop culture, for example).

    In order to make these problems cut and dry we need to have a cut and dry standard to judge people on. Until then, we do need to discuss the problem and bring up individual cases to review, but we also need to allow authors a chance to talk about what they did and the reasons behind it, and make amends if amends need to be made. And I think that the fiction reading and writing community needs to come up with a clear code that enumerates what plagiarism is in fiction writing, so that no one is ignorant of it.

  7. ttthomas says:

    From Madeline: “I think that there have to be real, hard answers to this, but no one is taught them in school, and there don’t seem to be any kind of industry standards that exist. I suspect that Cassie Edwards is telling the truth when she says that nobody told her it was plagiarism, although I think that she could have used her common sense better – and I think that the Pamela Dean paragraph that Cassie Claire used was definitely plagiarism, witting or unwitting.”

    Madeline, I understand what you’re trying to say, but I respectfully disagree with what I think is your benevolent “take” on this issue. I tried to say it on my own blog, so here’s what I said:

    Am I being too hard-nosed? I don’t think so. Ethics—-it’s first of all a moral issue, isn’t it? Then, of course, it ought to be a legal issue. Otherwise, no author is safe.

  8. Marta Acosta says:

    One:  All hail the Smart Bitches!

    Two:  Everyone is missing the big point of Cassie Edwards using the work Paul Tolme, expert on wildlife.  It’s that Paul Tolme could now have a career as a romance novelist!

    This poor guy has labored in obscurity, writing about polecats, for chrissake, and now his work is discovered to be an essential element in bestselling romance novels.

    Paul, if you’re out there, consider a new career filled with heaving ivory bosoms, pirates, and hawt savage passion!  You’ll have to have another name.  I suggest Paulinette LeTolme’.

  9. Samantha says:

    To The SBs:

    This is looking more and more like a viscious personal attack.  You could have first ASKED Ms. Edwards about it, given her an opportunity to give her side of the story, and offered her advice on crediting sources.

    Instead you chose to attack her publicly just so you could get some free publicity.  What kind of people set out to ruin someone’s career?

  10. R. says:

    Samantha said:
    “What kind of people set out to ruin someone’s career?”

    A career built on theft deserves ruin.

  11. Samantha says:

    Ms. Roberts:

    I find it appalling that you have joined in with smartbitches witch hunt.

    I remember not so long ago when Publishers Weekly published an article on Ms. Edwards and Signet called her a prolific author.

    I find it amusing that you are suddenly referring to yourself as being a prolific author.  Are you so jealous of the attention Ms. Edwards receives from Signet that you had to join in this attack?

    I don’t see Ms. Edwards’ picture all over the place but I have seen yours.  Free publicity!

    There are many ways this could have been handled more professionally.  Those women could have contacted Ms. Edwards, asked her about their concerns, given her a chance to reply, and offered suggestions on how to rectify their concerns.

    Instead they chose to publicly destroy her.  What kind of people set out to purposely destroy someones career?

    I’ve noticed that smartbitches isn’t allowing pro-Edwards posts to remain on their site.  I’ve seen several disappear as well as my own.  That should show you what kind of people run that website.

    This was no accidental discovery.  This was a personal attack on Ms. Edwards.

    I don’t know why you think you are some kind of legend of romance and feel it’s your job to go out and publicly trash another author.  Why didn’t you contact Ms. Edwards and discuss your feelings with her?  You write for same publisher and I’m sure you could have gotten her phone number.

    That is how a professional would have handled it.

    I’m am so disappointed in the way Ms. Edwards has already been found guilty when she hasn’t even been charged with anything.

    Shame on you and everyone else involved.


  12. DS says:

    Washington Post article has an additional statement from the Defenders of Wild Life editor—the black footed ferret source.

  13. azteclady says:

    How I hope this one gets through!!!

    Samantha: witch hunt implies baseless accusations. When there’s evidence of wrongdoing, it is NOT a witch hunt.

    Check the evidence for yourself—I hope you don’t choke on that crow.

  14. Julianna says:

    I only started reading this blog a month or two ago, and have stayed because I like the writing and the people – I haven’t read much romance, though I’m planning to check out a few of the A+ reviews.  I don’t have any prior investment in Cassie Edwards or Nora Roberts.

    I don’t see any personal vendettas here.  I see fraud (in the moral, if not legal sense) being brought to light.  Maybe Edwards didn’t realise she was acting wrongly, but the idea that the Smart Bitches should have sat down and written her a letter, asking politely that she stop copying other peoples’ work, seems silly to me.  Why shouldn’t this be brought to light?  Edwards’ job brings her into the public eye.  She lives with the risks and rewards, and if she doesn’t like truthful reporting of her actions, she shouldn’t read the papers.

  15. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    There is a kind of guilt called “caught with a smoking gun” that applies here.

    Stop fuming and look at the document showing the similarities … Cassie Edwards systematically copied many passages from other authors, lightly concealed them as expository dialog, and sent it off to the publisher as if it were her own work.

    Yes, historical novelists rely on research books written by others, but they take the time to construct a world using the research. Edwards takes the lazy way out, and has her characters spouting words written by other authors.

    Her writing isn’t helped by it. Having a 19th-century Indian talking like a 20th-century wildlife biologist, or a 19th-century missionary is ludicrous.

  16. Nora Roberts says:

    Samantha, I was actually going to write a calm, reasoned, polite response to your blathering. Instead, I’ll give you an example of unprofessional.

    Bite me.

  17. Jackie L. says:


    Nora Roberts is a very prolific author.  She has published over 150 books and has 280 million copies of her books in print. 

    Cassie Edwards has 10 million copies of 100 books in print.  280 million is more than 10 million.

    Oh, and Nora made up all by herself all the words she uses in all of those many, many books.

    If you are really, truly an RFG (rabid fan-girl) of Cassie Edwards, then the best way to help her would be to ask her to stop using other people’s writing word for word without their permission.  This is called “stealing.”  Stealing is bad.  Bad should stop. 

    None of this is rocket science.

  18. azteclady says:

    Drunk on my success in posting in this thread, I hunted down my (intended) original comment, and I’ll try for an encore:

    “To Samantha:

    “Are you honestly suggesting that that, if I see stolen property somewhere, I should approach the thief and ask for an explanation instead of calling the cops?

    “And the person who ruined her own career and reputation is she who chose to plagiarize.”


    To Ms Roberts:

    Rock on!

  19. Jackie L. says:

    Oh, and Samantha, you can bite me too if your rabies shots are up to date.

  20. Chryssa says:


    I see La Nora posted while I was checking links and composing my post.  Samantha, please feel free to ignore my post. (I suspect you will anyway since it doesn’t align with your view of reality.)

    What was I thinking?  Nora Roberts obviously doesn’t need a peon like me defending her!


  21. Chryssa says:

    Oh, hell, looks like my original post got eaten. 

    The gist of it was that Ms. Roberts has no reason to be jealous of any writer.  She appeared on last years list of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.  Note, Samantha, that that is *people* not writers.  Here’s the link:,28804,1595326_1595332_1616215,00.html

    Ms. Roberts has also been recognized by her peers (other romance writers) as a sixteen time recipient of the Rita/Golden Medallion, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America.

    Jackie already pointed out the fact that the actual numbers of novels written and copies sold by Ms. Roberts far exceeds the numbers for Ms. Edwards.

    Also, Samantha, the PDF file with the side-by-side comparisons goes a long way in showing that this is not some kind of personal vendetta, especially since the first examples were discovered by someone other than the SBs and was brought to their attention.  Any career-destroying actions were taken by Ms. Edwards when she chose to plagiarize.


  22. SB Sarah says:


  23. Jane says:

    I don’t think that there is any conspiracy to keep the pro Edwards contingent from commenting.  I tried and it ate my comment as well and I am anything but pro Edwards.

    I think Samantha, that what you fail to see, is that Nora Roberts is put herself out there as a target, not for herself but for the genre and its readers.  To stand up and say someone within the romance writers community did wrong is a very courageous act, and in this case, a selfless one because Roberts has nothing to gain by making herself a target.

    There are quite a few newspaper articles that are making this an Edwards v. Roberts grudge match but the fact is that it is about Edwards and her decisions and nothing else.

    I know that the NYTimes interviewed other authors, but because of Roberts stature within the industry it is more sexy, more headline grabbing to feature her responses and no one elses.

    This controversy is about Edwards and anyone that tries to make it about anyone else is deflecting the attention where it should be.

  24. Diane says:

    Does Cassie Edwards have a daughter or granddaughter named Samantha by any chance? Or maybe her agent?

    Loved the “Bite Me” comment! 

    FYI Nora—JC Penney sells a t-shirt with “Bite Me” on it with a frantic looking cat…how do I know?  I received one as a gift for Christmas from friends as I frequently use that comment when someone pisses me off.

  25. laurad says:

    Samantha, I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday.  They had 5 Cassie Edwards books on the shelf.

    Nora had an ENTIRE FREAKIN’ BOOKCASE of her own. 

    Ask for your $13 back.

  26. Chrissy says:

    As I witch I deeply resent any comparison to cowardly, lying, thieving racists.

    Please apologize or I’ll curse you.

  27. Tammy says:

    The bigger they are the harder they fall.

  28. Nora Roberts says:

    But it’s interesting isn’t it? All the she’s just after publicity, they’re so mean, she’s just jealous. Without the, oh gosh, look at how close those side-by-side examples are!

    I understand, value and respect reader loyalty.

    I do not understand, value or respect people who use that to excuse stooping to name calling, or assigning nefarious motives to others for stating facts or giving reasoned, honest opinions on facts presented.

    Those who choose to do Ms. Edwards a disservice. She has enough on her plate without some readers swinging and bashing in her name, and making themselves look foolish.

  29. liz says:

    Nora, you’re still my favorite Biker Barbie.

    Other peoples – I thanked Signet for their quick action in issuing a new statement and expressed my relief that they had decided to investigate this situation. Penguin’s president emailed me back to say most people wouldn’t have bothered with a follow up.

    They’re reading your words and paying attention. I urge positive reenforcement for positive acts.

  30. Samantha says:

    Ms. Roberts:

    I wonder how Signet would react with you telling someone who buys books from them to “Bite Me”?  You’re a snob and a witch.

    You should mind your own business until Ms. Edwards’s publishers prove there has been wrong doing.


  31. Chrissy says:

    You know, the NYT writer, Felicia Fee, contacted ME by email as well.  I suspect many people got a query.  If you were her, and could quote me, 5 other people you’ve never heard of, or Nora…

    If you want to keep your job you quote Nora.

    And Nora is a powerful voice.  People want a quote from her.  Giving us a “no comment” would label her a chickenshit, and why should she refuse to take a stand when her own personal history is so rich in this area?  She didn’t ever call Cassie Edwards names, and she didn’t initiate the investigation.  She responded to it.

    Were I a fan of this woman I’d be in front of the throng with the biggest pitch fork.  If this was one of my favorite authors (though I think anyone who would do this is, frankly, too stupid to be capable of the kind of quality I demand) I’d be PISSED.  I give you my loyalty, my money, and my regard over all the years and find out you were lying???

    It sort of makes the point that Edwards’ readers didn’t pick up on this stuff because they didn’t have the intellectual chops.  Sorry if you’re one of them.  I’d seriously love to hear from a bright, reasonable, articulate Edwards fan who was duped.

    I mean it.  Show me the brightest of the lawyers, teachers, and home makers among her throng of loyalists who was stunned, but can put together a reasonable argument.  I’m willing to be called a snob and say it: I think bad writers draw a dumber class of reader.

    NOW you can have a witch hunt.  My pointy hat is at the ready.  But it’s also really telling that a CE fan has to go racist right away.

    Yeah, we love it when people call others witches in a derogatory way.  Good luck with the karma, Samantha.

  32. Ruth says:

    I wonder how Signet would react with you telling someone who buys books from them to “Bite Me”?

    I’m guessing they’d probably say “Ms Roberts, please keep making us money hand over fist.” But that’s just me.

  33. Tammy says:

    Why is it when anyone disagrees with the SB or Nora on this blog they get attacked?

    It’s ridiculous.

  34. Josie says:

    Well said, Ruth. I don’t think it’s just you!

    It never ceases to amaze me. Once again, although there have been quite a few authors who have commented on this issue, Nora is the one attacked for voicing her opinion and standing up for the genre.

    Nora you rock.

    Samantha, grow up.

  35. Becca says:

    Me, I’m thinking of a reverse boycott and going out and buying authors who have posted her and at Dear Author who have responded with professional, well-reasoned and calm responses. I’ve got Shiloh Walker on my list, and a couple of other new-to-me authors whom I might not have looked at otherwise. (I can’t reverse-boycott Nora, she’s already an auto-buy!)

  36. Has says:

    And the storm continues and its getting bigger – I just saw this linked in an entertainment/gossip blog!!!

    Can I just say I LOVE YOU NORA

  37. liz says:

    Becca – I like your reverse boycott idea.

    Shoot me a list of who has supported investigation? The ‘mean girls’ vibe has really turned me off and I’d like to do something positive for the people who support truth telling.

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