Links, News, and some WTFery

First, via Katiebabs and KatiD on Twitter: More from Plagiarism Chutzpah!

YA Author Sarah Cross has a guest blog about plagiarism and how it sucks a lot (which it does). It's not a bad post, as it discusses the different types of plagiarism.

But it's a guest post on Kristi Diehm's site, The Story Siren, where plagiarism occurred last January, and was discovered last month. Unfortuantely, this guest post, if you're keeping score at home:

1. includes as a description the exact thing Kristi Diehm did when she lifted content from fashion bloggers Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour.

2. includes, as pointed out by AnimeJune, a copyrighted, trademarked, and totally uncited image from Disney's The Little Mermaid… four paragraphs north of the phrase “ARTISTS ARE PEOPLE, TOO.”

3.. includes no commentary or introduction from Kristi Diehm offering context for the post, which is a breathtaking display of chutzpah, as Jane Litte described it, on its own.

4. has already attracted plenty of WTFBBQ posts in the comments

I emailed Sarah Cross about the post, to ask if she was aware of the Story Siren plagiarism last month, or if this was an unhappy coincidence, and Cross replied (and gave me permission to quote her email):

Thanks for your email. Yes, I was aware. I found out about Kristi's plagiarism via SmartBitches, actually. Kristi contacted me a week or so ago and said she wanted to do a week-long blog event about plagiarism on The Story Siren to educate herself and her readers, and asked if I would be willing to do a guest post. As far as I am aware there will be other guests posts about plagiarism from authors, librarians, and bloggers this week. I figured there would be an introductory post addressing that but it seems there wasn't. I'm going to email Kristi and suggest that she include one.

Yes. Context is always good. Otherwise, the chutzpah stain gets on everything. A week about plagiarism education would be a fascinating thing and probably rather interesting except that Kristi has still not fully apologized for her actions, owned up to what she did, or defended the victims of her actions against the hatemail sent by Kristi's own fans. Without an introduction or explanation of the context, Diehm has placed Sarah Cross in an awkward and untenable position, and that's just a sad and cowardly thing to do to a guest author.

This is going to be an interesting week.

ETA, 1:00pm ET: Kristi has indeed posted an introduction, and while it's posted prior to Sarah Cross's entry, it wasn't there earlier this morning. It reads, in part: 

Hello, my name is Kristi, the Story Siren and I am a plagiarist.

Those are the last words I ever thought I would write when I started my blog in 2007. Plagiarism is despicable, it is cheating, it is stealing. I would never do that. And yet I have.

How did it happen? I’m not really sure I realized I’d crossed the line I’d been so adamant against, but I did. I suppose it happened because there was something I wanted to say, and I couldn’t find the right words to say it. I was asked a question about a blogging topic and went in search of inspiration. I came across a couple of posts that seemed like I could have written them myself — they expressed exactly what I wanted to, in the way that I wanted to. I wanted to make it relevant to book bloggers. I knew I couldn’t use their words — not exactly as written — so I added words of my own and subtracted a few of theirs. In my mind, I had done enough to make it mine; it was my voice. But I was wrong. I screwed up.

And I screwed up even more when they called me on it. I tried to deny it, because I didn’t want to believe it myself. I tried to keep it private, because I didn’t want to be judged. But when it all came out anyway, that just made everything seem even more deceitful. I should have admitted I was wrong right away. But I didn’t.

Oh, good gravy. It wasn't just words added and subtracted. Diehm lifted six articles, plus the formatting and syntax of the pages they were taken from. *headdesk* 

It will be interesting to see the upcoming week's content. 

ETA 23 May, 10:10amET: Grit and Glamour blogger Vahni has a solidly educational summary on Damage Control: The Fine Art of Covering Your A** in response to Kristi Diehm's week on plagiarism. 

ETA 24 May, 8:26amET: Beautifully Invisible has a write up that explains the non-apology that accomplishes nothing. Meanwhile, the week of plagiarism content continues, with factually incorrect and misguided articles from various guest author posters. This is terrible PR for all involved, and it's so disheartening to see how much people don't know about plagiarism.

ETA 24 May, 9:05amET: Jane at DearAuthor updated her previously laudatory review of “The Bro-Magnet” after Lauren Baratz-Logsted's guest entry about plagiarism (I think) appeared at The Story Siren, which includes this line, ironically enough: On the Internet, that kind of thing spreads like wildfire and before you know it, it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not because the stain to your reputation has already been rendered indelible.

I'm not sure how much more plain I can put this: participating in this week's “plagiarism discussion” (and I use the term loosely) in light of Kristi Diehm's non-apology and clumsy addressing of her own actions supports the plagiarist. As I've said before, plagiarism among writers is like treason. Do you really want to support a person who plagiarises and makes the weakest of efforts to address her own actions?

In other news:

Via CuddleBuggery, which is a name for a website that makes me happily snortlaugh: Kate Hart has posted infographics about the colors and the diversity (or lack thereof) in YA cover art, plotting covers by color distribution, by representation of minorities, and by counting up artistic elements such as headless models, fancy dresses, or dead or dying poses.

Interesting piece of her information: nearly 80% of the covers surveyed featured filigree. That's a lot of filigree. The infographics are amazing, and really worth examining, even if you don't read YA.

Hachette is now offering new ebooks to some libraries, according to this article by Laura Hazard Owen:

Hachette, which has not made new e-books available to libraries since 2010, is reconsidering the idea. In a pilot program starting this spring (which is…now?), the publisher is working with two e-book distributors to bring a “selection of HBG’s recent bestselling e-books to 7 million library patrons.”

Hachette would not confirm which distributors or libraries it is working with — whether it is partnering with leading digital distributor OverDrive and/or with an OverDrive competitor like 3M Cloud Library or Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360.

Via Twitter: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt filed for, according to Publishers Weekly, “pre-packaged bankruptcy Monday morning, citing debts and liabilities of over $1 billion. The filing is part of a restructuring of its finances that will cut its debt by $3.1 billion largely by having its lenders exchange debt for equity.”

And finally, the Publishers Lunch crew did something rather spiffy and cool: they've produced a BIG HONKING HUGE ebook that presents 30 excerpts from this year's BEA BUZZ BOOKS.

Through a lot of coordination between disparate entities, the sample collection of 33 different fall books is available as an ePub from Ingram, for the Amazon Kindle, and on NetGalley and Edelweiss. Folks from eBookArchitects, iBookstore, Google eBooks, and Sony Reader and OverDrive contributed to make this a possibility, and oh my gosh, I have warm fuzzes at the fact that they pulled this off. The reasoning is quite awesome, too:

“This exciting new experiment is our answer to the BEA discovery problem–now attendees can arrive at the convention having already sampled dozens of the most promoted books–as well as a contribution to improving general consumer discovery.”

A round of applause to everyone – that is so freaking cool.

What are you reading about online today? 


The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    kimba88 says:

    Thanks for this informative piece.

  2. 2
    MissB2U says:

    I’m starting and ending here due to the ridiculous amount of neglected housework and pending arrival of guests.  If I can only read a little I’ll read it here!

  3. 3
    Natasha says:

    She’s since added a post UNDER the original author guest post about her week long event. Apparently she didn’t set the time correctly. Mmhmm.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    Well, that’s hugely flattering. Thank you!

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    I screw up date posting all the time, so I’m totally the victim of my own inability to count correctly when time stamping entries. But dude, something like this? I’d have been terrornervous about it. It should be an interesting week of guests. 

  6. 6

    So I’m guessing The Story Siren is trying to regain respect and readership? Seems like a sloppy move to me, all around. She’s still downplaying how big and blatant her plagiarism was.

  7. 7
    Kati B says:

    I admire the intent behind this week, but had it been me, I’d have rolled this out some last week. Because it caused a relative shit storm on Twitter this morning, which she could avoided. It will certainly be fascinating to see how this turns out. Thanks for emailing Sarah Cross, it helps to have her shed a bit of light on the matter.

  8. 8
    azteclady1 says:

    Plagiarism: It didn’t fucking happen.

    Plagiarism doesn’t happen, like shit.

    It’s not kleptomania—there is not invincible compulsion to steal someone else’s original content, but a cold-headed, deliberate decision.

    Particularly when done six times in a row.

  9. 9

    I should have known you’d have the complete scoop on this!  I just logged into twitter and was drowning in tweets, but wasn’t sure what was going on.  Thanks for this write-up and for the clarification.

    I have to admit that although, in theory, this seems like a great idea, it feels more like a slap in the face to me.  She still hasn’t acknowledged that what she did to myself and Vahni was deliberate and I am sure she never will.  It will always be excused as an accident based on her own lack of education.

    Is it absolutely insane of me to feel that if she REALLY wanted to cover plagiarism on her site and turn this into a learning experience, she should have reached out to myself and/or Vahni to be included in this? After all, we have plenty of knowledge about the subject that we’d be happy to share.  Maybe we wouldn’t have agreed to do it, but I think something could be said for reaching out to your victims and asking them to participate in this.  But then again, maybe I am crazy.

    I probably am insane and I can’t quite wrap my head around this latest development. 

    This just makes me want to bang my head against the wall.  Hard.

  10. 10

    I don’t know about you, but if I was doing a series of guest posts like this, I would kick it off with an intro of my own AND also include a lead-in to each individual post.  Otherwise anyone who stumbles upon a link via a serach engine, etc has no clue what this is about.

  11. 11
    Sveta says:

    I never did plagiarism and God forbid I’ll ever do it. The book covers thing, I had no idea that all of them are white female. To be honest, whenever I read books, I’ll be reading books with white females because that’s who I might relate to. I do wish that the covers were more honest about who the main characters are, because deceiving is very dishonest. (I will be honest in saying that I doubt I’ll read books that feature African American or Asian heroines, because I can’t relate to them and have different life experiences than they do.) If, by accident, I was to pick up a book and see a white character on the cover and when I started to read and discover the character is black, I’ll be pretty upset because of the deception.


  12. 12
    Natasha says:

    EXACTLY! I don’t buy anything she says, it’s pretty odd that one post failed to post but another did and THEN she happens to post it after everyones calling her out again? Yeah, sure.

  13. 13
    Jules says:

    My favorite bit about the whole matter is the new site design over at TSS. It’s like she doesn’t want to be associated with anything of the past and giving her site a face lift may help that.

    In fairness, it may have been in the plans before the whole storm came a crashing, but it just looks bad from my point of view.

    As for the actual week thing? I think I understand her intent, but the cynical part of me thinks it’s just to gain more readership…

  14. 14
    azteclady1 says:

    the cynical part of me thinks it’s just to gain more readership…

    Yup, this exactly.


    Gee, let’s further victimize the victims by using them to garner more followers/views/good will—yet ooopppsssieeesss…let’s NOT include the victims in the whole sheebang. Yeah, oversight, my ass.

  15. 15
    Sarah {CEFS} says:

    The part of this latest development that flabbergasts me the most is that an author (Cross) would agree to participate in this “week about education about plagiarism” on The Story Siren blog.

    Obviously we should all care about plagiarism, but from where I sit authors and other creative folks would likely be even more sensitive about plagiarism. And yet… there they are, helping drive traffic to the site of what to me looks like an unrepentant plagiarist. (Excuse me while my head explodes.)

    It feels to me like Diehm is just using these folks (and the whole fiasco, really) to gain more traffic, that all she’s really sorry about is that she was caught. If she authentically cared about educating her readers about plagiarism, she would have owned up to her mistakes from the get-go.

    Frankly, just like her original “apology,” this “week of education” just feels like TSS is trying to ensure that she’s still in with publishers and authors. And, it still seems to me that she hasn’t suffered any meaningful consequences as a result of her wholly unethical behavior—authors are still doing interviews on the site, publishers appear to be still providing her with items for giveaways and review copies… it’s truly bizarre.

  16. 16

    I’m actually a big believer in second chances, but damn it, if you’re going to ask for a second chance, you have to prove to me that you’ve learned from your mistakes.

    Until she’s actually SHOWN that she understands what she did…I don’t buy it.

    She’s yet to make a single apology that didn’t come off (IMO) as … I’m really sorry… (I got caught).

    She hasn’t completely owned her actions.

    And she hasn’t said a single thing about the attacks of her followers on others.  If she can’t do that?  Then…nope.  Not buying it.

  17. 17
    Julaine says:

    There’s a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught and I think we all know by Ms. Diehms actions which one applies in this case.  Right now she is in damage control mode and she STILL can not bring herself to say that the actions of the people lashing out at the victims of her crimes were WRONG.  I, too believe in second chances but I think The Story Siren may have already squandered hers.

  18. 18

    I think that the Story Siren, Kristi Diehm hasn’t acknowledged or taken any responsibility for the attacks on her victims. I know she can’t control what other people do but she can take a stance on it. Her silence was a form of permission and her continuing silence about this is disturbing to me.

    My take away from all of this is the notion of entitlement along with no care and no responsibility as a suggested norm modelled by Kristi and her supporters – including the authors and publishers who are dealing with her still.

  19. 19
    CHH says:

    I find it really sad you think you can’t relate to Asian or African heroines. 

  20. 20
    ann_somerville says:

    “(I will be honest in saying that I doubt I’ll read books that feature African American or Asian heroines, because I can’t relate to them and have different life experiences than they do.)”

    But surely you, Sveta – we all – read heroines with different life experiences than our own. That’s the reason we read, usually – to experience things vicariously we would have no chance of living through ourselves.

    You generalise about AA or Asian heroines as if they’re all this uniform exotic ‘other’, and yet the life experiences of every black American will differ significantly from each other’s – just take the history of the Obamas. She’s the descendent of slaves and grew up in a conventional 2 parent home in Chicago. He’s the son of a Kenyan and a white American who raised him as a single mother for some time, in Indonesia and Hawaii. The Obamas’ history is very different from other successful black Americans, and very different from middle class and poor Americans, black or white.

    Black people and Asian people aren’t generic. Telling you I’m Australian doesn’t give you any information about anything other than my nationality. Am I rich? Poor? Of immigrant parents? Have I a criminal background? Have I been the victim of crime? Do I have children? Have I been married and how many times? You don’t even know I’m white, and that I am white doesn’t tell you a damn thing about anything else. I probably have nothing in common with you except a lack of melanin.

    I know people like to read inside their comfort zone, but you might be suprised, if you were to pick up a romance with an AA or Asian heroine, at how easy it is to identify with women with different lives to your own. It is, after all, the author’s job to make that happen, and a good many make a fair fist of that.

  21. 21
    azteclady1 says:

    We really need that drinking game—or the plagiarism bingo, Sarah.

    Today’s brilliant contribution to TSS’s week on plagiarism? Ends with this

    Conclusion: People learn from their mistakes and move on.



  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    Sveta, you may have different life experiences, but some essential experiences are the same regardless of culture and heritage. Feelings are often the same, and the experience of courtship and falling in love as described in romance is often the same.

    There’s a lot you may be surprised by in terms of what you find yourself relating to in any heroine or hero. For example, I’m not a man, but I relate to many a romance hero. While I may not know what it’s like to live every day as a person of color, I do know there are experiences and emotions we all have in common, and reading about those experiences helps me learn about not only those similarities but also the differences.

  23. 23
    Jenny Dolton says:

    The discussion here about relating to heroines of different ethnicity reminds me of one of my college classes—we read Toni Morrison’s Paradise, which is a novel that follows the experiences of a group of women as their lives eventually come together. She lets us know, right off the bat, that one of the women is white, and we can infer that the rest are African Americans. And then that’s it—she doesn’t say anything specific about their ethnicities the rest of the book.

    When we finally got to the end of the novel, our prof asked us which of the women was the “white girl” referenced in the first sentence. And we all (a predominantly white class) had different answers. And almost all of us were absolutely certain we were correct, that there was no way any other possibility could be entertained. There was something unique that resonated with each of us about one of the characters, something that we related to and identified with. And in our teenage minds, identifying with a character had to mean, on some subconcious level, that it was a character who looked like we did.

    Statistically, of course, most of us were “wrong” in our guesses, but it was great to see a room full of (generally) clueless teenagers have that “lightbulb” moment and realize that it was possible to relate to the life experience of characters of different ethnicities.

    Even now, I still find myself reaching for novels with characters who look like I do (a heroine who’s ghostly pale and turns into a lobster after five minutes in the sun and spends the rest of the novel applying aloe vera every ten minutes—I’m SO there), and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to enjoy a character who could be your long-lost twin… but I’d like to believe that my skin, hair, and eye color aren’t the most important things about me, just like they aren’t the most important things about the characters I’m reading. There’s so much more out there—I will miss out on fantastic authors and characters if I limit my reading to books whose main characters look like me.

  24. 24
    henofthewoods says:

    You don’t have to be African-American or Asian to relate to those characters if the book is well written, that is the author’s job. I am not a werewolf, a vampire, a secretary, a cheerleader, a CEO or a governess but a good author makes me understand those characters anyway.
    I just reread the Iron Duke and was particularly noticing that the new UK cover features a woman who doesn’t look particularly Asian. The cover is gorgeous, but it would be just a little bit better if the heroine was accurately portrayed. (The woman gets spit on in crowds because anyone glancing at her notices she is Asian, it is crucial to her character that she is not all British.)

  25. 25
    Sveta says:

    If I offended anyone, then my apologies, not my intention I assure you. I realize that I probably sound racist and in all honesty I’m not; I read books mainly to escape from life than from anything else, and I never imagine myself as a main character or characters. I read books to disappear. I read other books other than romance novels such as classics ( I read a Japanese classic The Tale of Genji and am reading a Chinese classic The Dream of the Red Chamber) I probably have said it inaccurately. In contemporary novels I would not be able to relate to characters, not even white.(Anybody knows of a novel about an intelligent girl coming over from Russia at eight and a half years old and keeping to her culture and finding herself never being able to fit in anywhere no matter how hard she tries, and where the heroes are jerks or other heroes ask her to give up religion and no matter how hard she tries she never wins her hero?) Also I don’t mean to exoticise others, its just that experiences and upbringing is completely different than from what I went through (I can’t even relate to American or American-Jewish characters at all.)


    (For dream of the red Chamber: http://sveta-randomblog.blogsp&#8230;

    (For Tale of Genji: http://sveta-randomblog.blogsp&#8230;

  26. 26
    SueCCCP says:

    WRT the plagiarism debacle: I saw on Twitter that she had posted about it, so I went to her blog to read it. Nowhere did it mention any form of apology to the victims of the theft. Nowhere! Nothing about her behavior or the grief that the hate mail campaign generated. Not a single word that suggested that anybody had been hurt by her actions. I particularly liked her snipe about her changing the content so that it was suitable for book blogs! WTF?!?? Can someone explain to me how blog design and operation is so dramatically different when the blog talks about book rather than fashion?

    I presume that she thinks this sham apology will fly, but there were already some negative comments when I looked from people asking “Where’s the apology?” She may have removed them, they may still be there, but I have no intention of going to have a look: I already feel tricked into visiting the site to read her post in the first place.

    Paint me disgusted and disappointed 🙁

  27. 27
    Sveta says:



    Sorry hopefully these will work. Top one is Dream of Red Chamber by Xueqin Cao

    Bottom one is The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu


  28. 28
    April says:

    Every time I see a post about the Story Siren, I think I probably shake my head at my computer screen for about half an hour. I can’t believe she could go through that experience and seemingly learn very little from it at all. It’s just such a shame.

    Thank you for the update though! I have no desire to visit her site so it’s always good to know what’s going on over there.

  29. 29
    azteclady1 says:

    I confess that I’ve spent way too much time today checking the three comment threads. So far she has approved all my comments—which are angry as hell—so perhaps she is not censoring. However, if she’s not censoring, why enable moderation at all?

    My main problem is how she remains silent.

    Oh yes, she just started replying to innocuous comments in today’s post—but all the people asking her to stop fucking up further and to apologize? Or the people asking her to tell her fans to stop attacking Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour? Those, she has so far ignored—and she couldn’t have missed them, because a) she’s moderating each effing comment, and b) they are legion.

  30. 30
    SueCCCP says:

    Often what is NOT said is so much more telling than the words we are presented with.

    I think I’m getting RSI from shaking my head so much . . . 🙁

  31. 31

    As usual, you offer a clear summary of this continuing saga with just the perfect amount of cheek. I, for one appreciate that. And this very day I also published another post on G&G to perhaps help other people handle a sh*tstorm better than Kristi did:

    Damage Control 101: The Fine Art of Covering Your A**

  32. 32
    SB Sarah says:

    That entry is stunning, ma’am. I added it to the entry above. Thank you for the link!

  33. 33
    Lynne Connolly says:

    I’m starting to write a book about a Japanese American man who is heavily into Japanese rock. Completely outside my experience. I have some Japanese Americans to beta read for me, and I am having a complete blast learning all I can about the culture and oh, wow, the music.
    You research, you learn, you take the plunge.
    I’ve done shape-shifters, and vampires. I’ve written historicals about aristocrats in the Georgian era. I’ve done thrillers with men who carry guns every day.
    I can honestly say that I haven’t met a shape-shifter or a vampire I didn’t like.
    In all of them I take my research seriously, and try really hard to get everything right. I’ve written Indian characters, but I was brought up in an multi-cultural city, so I have a bit of personal knowledge about that. I’ve done Chinese American characters, but haven’t yet made the plunge into full Chinese, though I’d like to.
    What else is there to do?

  34. 34
    Barbara W. says:

    I’m a tiny sliver of a hash brown next to Jane when it comes to my reviews meaning anything to an author, but I deleted my review of The Bro-Magnet too and linked to the awesome post at Beautifully Invisible to explain why.

  35. 35
    Nat says:

    If she had seriously apologized and admitted what she’d done, there wouldn’t still be comments going on saying, “I don’t think what Kristi did was plagiarism.”  Which, to me, is the most frustrating part—that she’s still managed to convince many of her readers that she did nothing wrong.

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