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Monday, January 14, 2008

In her own(?) words

What follows may be as close to a complete statement from Cassie Edwards as we’ve had since the whole plagiarism issue raised its ugly head. It is allegedly an e-mail response to a fan expressing support, and is documentary evidence of why lawyers generally tell you to shut the f**k up when the feces hits the fan. The text via the Smart Bitches blog: (My comments in green)

[UPDATE: Dear Author contacted a representative of Cassie Edwards to confirm the authenticity of this e-mail. The response was "no comment." An evil, hateful person would assume that this means Cassie finally talked to her lawyer.]

I just got on My Space and I found your wonderful encouraging letter. Thank you for believing in me, for I have done nothing wrong.
[SWANN: exsqueeze me? Even when this was restricted to non-fiction you were saying to the AP that you just “didn’t know” you were supposed to cite references. Hint- if the behavior isn’t wrong, you don’t have to make excuses for it.]
My publisher is standing behind me 100%, for they know my work better than anyone,
[SWANN: Quoth Signet: “… we will be examining all of Ms. Edwards’ books that we publish, and based on the outcome of that review we will take action to handle the matter accordingly. We want to make it known that Signet takes any and all allegations of plagiarism very seriously.” Apparently, they don’t know your work that well.]
and they know that all romance authors who use research for historicals have to use reference books to do this.
[SWANN: Cassie, here is a hint. Use <> Copy. I’ve written historical novels, read a whole lot of reference materials, and the only passage I ever felt the need to copy verbatim was from a news article in the Cleveland Press about the Torso Murders, and that was because a character was reading that edition of the paper. I don’t think your 19th century characters have the same excuse lifting passages from a 2005 nature article about ferrets.]
My readers love this accurate material about the Indians.
[SWANN: And, apparently, ferrets.]
And if I couldn’t use this material my books would not be worth anything to my readers who depend on me.
[SWANN: Depend on her? Ok, I feel a little responsibility to my readers (sort of the reason I don’t lift passages wholesale in my books) but she makes herself out to be like a paramedic, a cop, or at the least the Roto-Rooter guy who came and kept my basement from flooding. It’s a novel, get over yourself.]
The sad thing is that I am writing these books now in a way to honor our Native Americans, past, present and in the future.
[SWANN: Why do I get the feeling that her primary demographic is not down on the Res?]
And I am honoring my great grandmother who was a full blood Cheyenne. She would be so proud of me if she could read what I am writing about the Indians who have been so maligned for so long.
[SWANN: The white man steals our land. We shall steal the white man’s words.]
And do you know? I feel picked on now as our Native American Indians have always been picked on throughout history.
[SWANN: How juvenile can you get? Chicky, you were outed on a blog for near-verbatim copying of your sources. You were not stripped of your property and made to march barefoot a few hundred miles to a reservation, forced to abandon your language and religion, and given a pox-infected blanket for your trouble.]
I am trying to spread the word about them and what do I get? Spiteful women who have found a way to bring attention to themselves, by getting in the media in this horrible way.
[SWANN: You note, at this point, there is not a single denial of what she’s been accused of doing? All she can do is malign the women who brought attention to the fact she’s been stealing passages wholesale.]
Right now I am getting hit from all sides....CNN, The New York Times, AP, everyone who those women could think of to contact.
[SWANN: Um… they posted it on a blog. That’s telling everyone. Also, I think the press caught wind of this themselves. It’s sort of like, their job.]
And what is also sad is that a fellow author, has spoken up and condemned me.
[SWANN: Hi there, I’m a fellow author. Pleased to meet you. Guess what? I’m condemning you too. And, frankly, I haven’t seen an author write about this who is not pretty pissed at your antics.]
Thanks again for your support. When I am feeling stronger I plan to write a bulletin on My Space, but right now I am totally drained of energy from what has been done to me.
[SWANN: You know, Cassie, if someone posted a picture of you shoplifting, I do not think an adequate defense is to decry how horrible it was someone posted the picture.]
I hope that you will tell your friends, who are so much also mine, the wrong that has been done to me, and tell them that I will get through this. I will be found innocent and vindicated [sic] of any wrong.
[SWANN: This is classic, and still not a denial. She never says “I did not do those horrible things I’m accused of.” Probably because it’s all in print and can’t really be denied. The best she can do is, “The horrible things I’m being accused of aren’t wrong. No, really, it’s ok. My publishers would have said something, wouldn’t they? Please, it’s not like I’m killing puppies. They’re all jealous anyway. They never liked me. Please feel sorry for me.”]
For now, it’s all too raw and horrible, but I will be alright.

I actually do feel sorry for her. Not because she was outed as a plagiarist, but because she, and her readers, were very ill-served by a series of editors who either never had enough respect for Cassie and her readers to discover this pattern twenty years ago and straighten her out, or worse, knew about it and did nothing. Instead of being bitch-slapped some sense in the eighties, at which point she might have been able to recover her career and have by now, perhaps, 80-some untainted novels to her credit, she was given permission, either implicit or explicit, to do what she was doing. Now, because no editor ever corrected her behavior, she has 100 novels out there every one of which is questionable, and it’s possible she will never be able to recover from it. That’s an appalling situation on any level. She might bear full brunt of the blame for doing what she did, but the people in the publishing industry that enabled her and encouraged her are equally complicit.


kim said...

LOL :) Great post! I am actually thankful to Cassie Edwards. Now I know I too can be a romance novel writer. Its sooooo easy...research....cut...paste...yay for me I have a new career! *off to research ideas*

RaveBomb said...

Sadly it appears the commentary about the letter was better written then the Myspace post.

Nice response.

Michelle said...

Nice post honey, although it seems like there was a lot of copy and pasting going on......but at least you sighted the references....

Anonymous said...

I present for your dining and dancine pleasure:
Stolen Blunders!

PS - That's some nice police work there, Lou.

E. Ann

Michelle said...

Drat - that would be "cited". Long day. - Michelle

RobRoy said...

Fascinating. A classic example of Straw Man argumentation and falacious reasoning. Not good, mind, but still there.