Plagiarism and The Story Siren

Copy Cats AheadIn a series of links that dropped my jaw, made me shake my head, and feel a boatload of “Oh, No,” here's an eyeopening series on how to catch someone stealing your content online, which was posted today by CuddleBuggery  after Katiebabs saw an anonymous link on this older post on plagarism.

The follow posts are from January 2012, and I'm not sure why the book blogging community wasn't aware of it until now. 

Kristi Diehm, better known as The Story Siren, was allegedly caught lifting articles about blogging and making minimal changes to them for her site. Bloggers B from Beautifully Invisible and Vahni from Grit and Glamour found the evidence and confronted her about it. Their entire story is like a master tutorial on how to use analytics to identify who is reading a website, and when – and in this case, possibly why.

Part the first: Beautifully Invisible is plagiarized, and figures out who it is, where they came from, and what they looked at.

Part the second: Grit & Glamour explains options for dealing with similar circumstances, and explains the steps they took to address the theft of their content in this instance.

According to the write up of the process at Grit and Glamour, Kristi responded by saying:

“In all honestly, I have never been to your blog or any of the blogs mentioned in this email until tonight when I cross referenced the posts that you had listed. I rarely if ever read blogs beyond the book blog community. But I could not agree more with your assessments of the posts. And I am sorry to say that I have no viable explanation. I even searched my web history to see if perhaps I had read the posts and had recalled them as I was writing my own.”

The statement that she'd never visited their sites despite the ample IP evidence to the contrary led to a request that she delete the content, which she did. 

Then she responded in part by saying,  “I've tried to be as obliging as possible and in turn I'm hoping that you will allow this to stay private.”

Folks on Twitter who weren't part of this request for anonymity about the accused plagiarist, looked the images online, both of photos and geographic location, and helped identify Kristi Diehm from The Story Siren.

Photo from the writeup:

Photo from LinkedIn:


When stuff like that happens, it damages more than just the accused and the accuser. It undermines the efforts of all of us who review books online. Still no word from Diehm about this matter, but as Jane pointed out via Twitter, I look at her site and wonder if any of it is hers, or if the other content was lifted from elsewhere. And since we who discuss books online work so hard on our content, it's galling to see someone who has been outspoken about plagiarism and who has worked to build a community online despite being plagiarised revealed as an accused plagiarist.

In the book blogging community, we may not always get along, but I absolutely do believe that most of us respect one another's content, and we don't steal words from one another. For one thing, it's wrong, and for another, good golly, have we not figured out that there's very few ways to hide it? 

What I don't understand is how this is coming to light now – these posts were written in January 2012. Did you know about this? Has there been any additional signs of plagiarism? 

Updated 7:53pm ET: Kristi Diehm has posted what she calls an explanation and apology at her site, where comments are closed:

I owe you an explanation and an apology.


Please don’t take my silence on this issue until now as an admission to anything.

I made a mistake. I freely admit that. I am disappointed in myself and I’m embarrassed. I’m deeply saddened and distraught that I have broken your trust. I don’t want to give you any excuses. In a way I feel as though it won’t matter what I say at this point. It seems that the verdict has been decided. I was accused of doing something that I am vehemently against, and intentionally or not, I know that there will be consequences.


You may be wondering why I didn’t address this issue earlier. The fact is, I thought it was taken care of privately. After the issue was brought to my attention I was appalled. I would never do something like that. That is NOT me. I thought that I did everything that I could do, to make the situation right.

I’ve struggled immensely internally with this, because this is not the type of person that I am. I felt like the fraud I was accused of being.


I didn’t want to keep it private for the reasons that you are thinking. I’m not worried about what people will think of me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt, it does. I’m not immune, but that wasn’t my biggest concern. My biggest worry was the authors and publishers that I host.

I offer them something. A viewership. I offer them the chance to have their book seen. I didn’t want to deny them something that I had promised. I now fear that is the case.

I don’t expect your forgiveness. I don’t even expect you to understand. I can’t ask that you continue reading The Story Siren as a result, and I respect your decision to not do so. The only thing I ask of you is that you take this apology as a sincere one.

Four months of silence is not an admission of anything, and nowhere in this “apology” does she actually acknowledge her actions. “Intentionally or not?” How do you unintentionally lift four articles from another site? Where is the apology, exactly? 

And her explanation: she only did it for authors and publishers that she hosts. She did it for you! *headdesk*

To quote Moira Rogers Bree, “Dear plagiarists: please retire, “I didn't realize I'd done it” as an excuse ASAP. It is A RIDICULOUS excuse & now you're ridiculous too.”

That was one of the most flaccid apologies I've seen, filled with double-speak and not much meaning or significance, or even addressing the situation. What a disappointment. And of course I have that Rhianna song stuck in my head again, because this “apology” and “explanation” indicates to me that she's only sorry she got caught. 

Updated 10:00 pm ET: I received a more sincere apology via email from Kristi, as did Jane at DearAuthor: 

I am very sorry for the trouble that all of this has caused the book blogging community. I also apologize for my actions and will work harder to be a better and stronger blogger. I have answered on my on blog as well and am sorry that I was unavailable due to work during the day and seemed unresponsive.

I wish that had been what was on her site. 

Updated 24 April 11:00 am ET: Another explanation and more robust apology has been posted on the Story Siren's site, though comments remain closed, which means other threads on Kristi's site have hosted comments for this topic, which have been deleted, it seems. The apology reads:  

Let’s try this again. I owe all of you, the blogging community and my readers a much better explanation and apology. My first apology was written out of emotion. I should have given myself the time to reflect before responding. I didn’t do that and I tend to let my emotions rule.

I am truly sorry for all the trouble that this has caused the book blogging community. That’s my biggest regret. You gave me your respect and I let you down. I took a role as a leader and I didn’t take my actions into account as it would reflect on the community as a whole. For that I am truly sorry.

When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong.

While I did not recognize the blogs in question initially after continued correspondence I discovered I was incorrect in that. I worked with the bloggers first linking to their initial posts and then in the complete deletion of the posts in question.

Was I feeling pressure to do something new and engaging? Something helpful and interesting? I was. Had I only paid more attention to where my inspiration was coming at the time, I should have handled the situation much differently. A simple email asking for permission or a link back should have happened. And I didn’t do it. I’ve preached that thousands of times. I lacked in taking my own advice.

I know that I have disappointed many of you. That is heartbreaking to me. I am still the same person that you have come to know through the years. I just really screwed up.

I am sorry for the strain that I have put on the blogger/author/publisher relationship. I for one have worked hard to lessen that strain, and it seems that all of that work may have been lost in this mistake.

I can assure you that my remaining content is my own. Although I know there is no reason for you to believe me. And I don’t blame you for being skeptical.

To Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible, I extend my deepest apologies. Please do not judge the book blogging community by my mistakes.

In the end, I hope that something positive comes away from this. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Learn from them. I know that I have. I apologize for my actions and will work harder to be a better blogger. I only hope that you will give me a chance to do so.



Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. Jane says:

    I’m curious as to why she deleted her post on plagiarism:…

  2. SB Sarah says:

    Agreed: why delete the post but not respond publicly. Is that her response? Deletion?

  3. I discovered this on Twitter in my timeline this morning and this is a great summary of the ordeal. I feel a sense of loyalty to my fellow book bloggers, but there is one offense I just can’t abide by – stealing. If you plagiarize, you get my middle finger. Not only because that completely illiterates who you are as a person, but also how little you respect the rest of us. In addition, it just makes the rest of us look bad, too.

  4. Ceilidh says:

    Kristi’s actions really anger me because I’m a YA blogger and over the past year that I’ve really been immersed in it, things have been really strange and often hostile in author-blogger relations. Some of it’s been understandable but a lot of it’s been just pure crazy, and YA bloggers have been saddled with this reputation I don’t think we deserve. So when the most prominent blogger in YA – the one with millions of page views, a huge following, bag-loads of influence and tons of connections in publishing – does this, after being such a crusader against blog plagiarism, it sets a precedent. If she’s doing it, who else is? It’s not just that either. I’ve seen much lesser bloggers been justifiably called out for blog plagiarism/content theft on a smaller scale than what Kristi did, and done so very publicly. Why did it take so long for this to come to light, and why should Kristi be allowed to get away with it? Our culture rewards the popular and successful, even when stuff like this happens. Why should she be untouchable, especially when she’s been so hypocritical? It’s so disappointing because she should have known better than this. Way better.

  5. Damaris C. says:

    WOW… This is just … I don’t even know what to say. A lot of people look up to her blog. SMH

  6. Jordyn says:

    As a fellow YA book blogger, this is the first I’ve heard of this and I can’t believe there hasn’t been more of a response from others. I don’t understand IP address stuff at all, but I’m off to read the articles linked here and see if I can understand this ordeal a bit better.

  7. Wicked_Lil_Pixie says:

    What amazes me is how many people won’t tweet her name but are bitching about the stealing. Are they afraid of something? I don’t understand why it seems to be “okay” because of “who” she is. She stole, the end. No free pass because you run a blog that is popular.

  8. Lazie1 says:

    I hope that she doesn’t have a stroke from this!  I have to laugh, in this day and age, that people still think that they can get away with copying anything that has been written.

    Stick to reading blogs, and not writing them, if you have to copy others’ work.

  9. I had similar thoughts. If a new or lesser known blogger did the same thing and got caught, would it have blown up immediately? I expect a lesser known blogger would have been publicly crucified.

    She really owes an apology for this. It’s not fair for her to ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen and she’s too important to have to respond.

  10. I don’t think there was some conspiracy to keep this under wraps. Probably, no one saw the fashion blog’s entries until recently. I don’t read fashion blogs (which is painfully obvious from my wardrobe).

  11. ComaCalm says:

    As 7. says, why aren’t we calling her out? Simple – it’s difficult. I’ve always suspected her of something and I never felt it was fair that she gets SO MUCH and barely writes any reviews – and when she does, it’s only about 70 words long. Did I dare say anything? Definitely not. Can you imagine how many bloggers who respect her would yell at me?

  12. Damaris C. says:

    This bothers me because we get so much crap for being “book bloggers” especially in the YA community and she goes and does something like this, but yet I bet she gets away with it and people will let it go and those of us (like me) who aren’t as popular as her will get the result. Not her.

  13. LauraElle says:

    Grit & Glamour stated they chose not to out The Story Siren because they could get sued for libel. I have no idea how the legality of outing someone who clearly stole from you would be libel- I am not a lawyer.

  14. ComaCalm says:

    Seriously, we should not let her get away with this. We should make sure EVERYBODY knows what she’s done and make sure that we personally don’t go on her website.

  15. Oh God…That’s like a thief suing you because he broke his arm slipping on your sidewalk while making his getaway. How can that be right?

  16. Kara Malinczak says:

    Not a conspiracy Pam, but if you read the posts, you can see that Kristi very much did not want this to get out. That is more of an admission of guilt than anything else.

  17. I don’t read many YA blogs so this is the first I’ve heard of it. This is both saddening and maddening. When you steal someone’s ideas it show a distinct lack of respect for the person and the blogging community as a whole. The whole, “She who shall not be named” thing going on Twiiter is weird.

    Hopefully she will look at this as a learning experience. We all work to hard to have our content stolen and used.

  18. Oh yeah 🙂 I just meant that maybe no book bloggers saw it until recently because we don’t read the blogs involved.

  19. Barbara W. says:

    I’ve been plagiarized and the she denied it completely even when I showed her screen caps of two paragraphs she copied, only changing 2 words.  All i could ever get out of her was, “if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll take it down,” and even then all she did was vaguely reword.  It expressed the exact same thought, just in slightly different words.

    I see her site mentioned every so often and it still makes me angry.

  20. Jordyn says:

    Do you have any links/screen shots of what she plagiarized from you?

  21. Shannon says:

    Are you saying you have been plagiarized by Kristi or someone else?

  22. LauraElle says:

    “She who shall not be named”? Who is The Story Siren? Voldemort?? 😛

    I don’t like this, “I’ll tweet about it but won’t name names” BS, either. It smacks of high school mean girls and cattiness.


  23. Has says:

    I don’t know how those bloggers whose content was lifted would have been done for libel. They had ample evidence of plagiarism/IP logins, screenshots and Google Cache would have backed them up.

    I am also not comfortable with the idea of the fact because she was hugely popular may be why so many are reluctant to name her. The best thing is not to ever plagiarised but if it does happen, OWN UP to it and apologise straight away. Hiding this or trying to cover it up just makes things worse. The message this sends out to others – that bigger bloggers are able to get away with this while smaller ones who do get caught out get outed and deal with the consequences. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  24. Bakin_Goddess says:

    I’m truly speechless…..for now. This just makes me sad. We strive so hard to protect ourselves and to give credit where credit is due….without that “code of conduct” how will authors trust us with ARCs, personal interviews & guest posts? We are entrusted to use their information correctly and accurately.  If we don’t extend that courtesy & professionalism to each other, who do we expect will trust us.  A quote from Alexander Hamilton…“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

    If we don’t have our values, we will succomb to using others’ achievements to pass as our own….blatantly.

    I am truly saddened about this situation.

  25. LauraElle says:

    I get that the two bloggers that busted her don’t want to name names. That’s their choice. Their content was stolen, they get to decide whether to “name and shame” or not. I don’t know what I would do in this situation- probably take my evidence to an attorney. Then, file the lawsuit, tweet it, Facebook it and release it to the media all on the same day. An ambush, if you will.

    Also, it appears that BI and GG didn’t really know who The Story Siren was or how popular her blog is [was?]. Perhaps they just didn’t want the havoc and expense of a lawsuit.

  26. Parajunkee says:

    I’ll tell you why I didn’t at first, I had to check facts. You scream plagiarism and it’s like a witch hunt in the blogging world. She is prominent, probably one of the larger self-run YA blogs out there…with a higher following could come jealousy. If someone just claims that she stole their work you want to back it up…think about how many people claimed Stephanie Meyer ripped off their book? Not saying this is anything on that scale, but I think most want to make the decisions themselves. And then they’ll weigh in…I did the research and I have to say, by all the links and the deletions and the headlines this is really terrible what she did, especially since she ran those blogging posts. I’ve done plagiarism posts before, I couldn’t imagine writing those, knowing full well that I’ve done that exact thing…that I think makes it so much worse.

  27. Molly says:

    Disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.  I used that post she lifted too when I started my blog.  Honestly, I never really got the hype with her blog.  Well, her reviews if we’re going to get critical here.  They’re basically a cut and paste summary for Amazon and ten to fifteen words of her stating that she likes the book (on a very rare occasion she won’t like one, but generally she BS’s praise).  I think she did have some nice features, loved her Books to Pine for Column

  28. Damaris C. says:

    I agree. I don’t think they realize how big she is in the YA Blogging community. Those who follow Kristi strongly clearly know that’s her picture in that Klout picture they tried to hide her face in.

  29. Kara Malinczak says:

    And I’m not afraid to say her name either. This is not catty and it’s not high school. I’m not intimidated by anyone. I don’t like being called a mean girl. I needed to verify my facts first, and I can and will confront her repeatedly if she does not address this.

  30. Bakin_Goddess says:

    Totally agree with this!

  31. KatiD says:

    I’m shocked. I know I shouldn’t be – this shit happens all the time. But she runs a big freakin’ blog. Why would she need to plagiarize? It’s not like she’s not getting traffic.

    This makes me sad because I’ve lost respect for someone whose blog I admired and relied upon for YA recommendations. I wonder if she realizes how much damage she’s done to her reputation?

  32. This saddens me and even more so that people are afraid to say her name. The truth is the truth no matter how hard it sucks.

  33. Damaris C. says:

    They’ve created a hash tag on twitter #StopTheStorySiren

  34. ComaCalm says:

    I needed to write about it.; #StopTheStorySiren <—- Please use.

  35. Barbara W. says:

    Shannon and Jordyn, no, it wasn’t Kristi.  I’m really sorry if I gave that impression!!  And yeah, I still have all the screenshots in my Photobucket account. 

    I’m not sure if I can/should post the links but I pulled them all up.

  36. SB Sarah says:

    I did the same thing you did, went back over the posts three and four times trying to see where they might have been mistaken, possibly, or if something else had been written, anything to show that this accusation might not be founded on anything solid. I didn’t want this to be true or possible. It’s not like it’s fun to write about plagiarism.

  37. Regarding naming names/she who shall not be named…

    I can’t speak for others, but some possible reasons why some aren’t necessarily super quick to post names, etc…

    I won’t link to the plagiarist because I won’t give her hits.  I figured a blog like Smartbitches or Dear Author would give a concise rundown, and admittedly, yes, I’ll wait for that.  I hit a few of the blogs that were ripped off and they were a little twisty trying to follow them at first, figuring out what was up.

    And there wasn’t one uninvolved party giving a rundown.  I’m also lazy…I’m sorry, but I am… I’m not going to track down all the involved parties, because I don’t want to miss one and I don’t want to not be thorough.  Bloggers like DA and SB are much more thorough, they are uninvolved and they tend to cover this stuff pretty well and explain it in a nutshell.

    Plagiarism pisses me off and always has, even before I was plagiarized, so I’ll speak my mind on it, but I won’t list things without having all the facts.  If I’m going to post a link, it’s likely going to be to a post like this. 

    All the info is found in one place and it’s neat, it’s concise, without having to go through a bunch of tweets or visit several different blogs.  Tweets aren’t always the easiest place to glean info.

    Plus, authors and the bigger bloggers can likely be a more tenuous position when it comes to shit like libel.  Does that mean I’m afraid of having a plagiarist sue me?  No.  I’m not.  But I’d rather not waste the headache and the time…I’d much rather write my books than deal with somebody who has ‘apparently’  lifts content, and then ‘apparently’ deletes it and ‘apparently’ has issues coming clean.  And I’m pretty sure the word ‘libel’ was ‘apparently’ thrown about in one of the blogger posts-did she threaten that already???

    Do I care?  Yep.  But I’d rather wait until somebody who will handle it much better than I would before I start posting links, etc.

  38. SB Sarah says:

    Stop her from doing what, exactly? I am sorry that you were plagiarized – that truly, utterly sucks. But what is it that you’d like to stop her from doing? She’s got plenty of drama llama on her doorstep now.


  39. I’m no lawyer either, but I did go to journalism school where we were required to take courses on media law and ethics. This is how I see the situation in that context:

    Proving libel requires four things be proven: Publication (on a blog counts) of FALSE information as fact. Identification: Mentioning the Story Siren by name. Harm: that it significantly injures the person or entities reputation or income. Fault: that the person responsible for the publication of false information knowingly did something wrong, or knowingly did not do something they should have.

    In this context, we are not looking at something that could end up in a libel CONVICTION.

    However, libel suits are very expensive to DEFEND, and that is the issue. By naming the Story Siren publicly, that counts as “identification.” With no public naming, there is no point in looking further to see if the other three items are proven or not. No case to defend.

    Libel suits are often brought against media outlets as a punitive action: force them to spend time and money defending themselves, regardless of whether libel actually occurred or not.

    Not naming the Story Siren publicly makes it easier to avoid an expensive lawsuit.

    I hope that helps!

  40. Damaris C. says:

    I’m sorry, but we outed her, we shared the links, but I don’t think there should be a HASH TAG attacking her. That is bullying in my eyes. We named her, we RT’d links, good. We made people aware, but a HASH TAG is really not needed. You’re attacking her and you can get into lot’s of trouble if she wanted to do something about this.

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