Updates, Comments

Ajax, Small

“Go Medieval? I’ll go Homeric on your ass!”

So…August is halfway over and fall is around the corner. The good news is that the first draft of Small Town Heroes is just about finished, and since I do a lot of editing and reworking as I go, alpha-reading, rewriting, editing, and beta-reading should take no more than a month. I am looking forward to having STH done, and I think it may turn out to be my best book yet.

In other news, Jamal Campbell continues to turn out fantastic art for Wearing the Cape: the Role-Playing Game! (See above.) There is some news on the WtC:RPG front; when it is finished it will not be a stand-alone game. Now that they have released Firefly: the Role-Playing Game, Margaret Wies Productions will hopefully be turning their attention to producing the basic books for Cortex Plus Action, Drama, Fantasy, and Heroic, and if all goes well then WtC:RPG will be a sourcebook for use with Cortex Plus Heroic (with extra and variant rules to fit the system into Astra’s “realistic” superhero world).

One advantage to doing it this way will be that players will have a larger pallet of rules and material to draw on to tailor WtC:RPG to fit their style of play as well. (And yes, more playtesting will be required before the end!)

Plagiarists, Honey, and Ants. 

On a completely different topic, I’ve been thinking of creative punishments for plagiarists. Why? I have recently learned of a situation in which a self-publishing “writer” blatantly plagiarized a very nice author’s novel (as in, copied the plot, characters, whole scenes, etc). When the author found out through reviewers the writer had solicited, the “writer” started shit-slinging attacks and spinning like a political speechwriter. The author, who is not a big name, is seeking legal recourse for this attack on her. You can read more about the story here, and even donate to her legal fund here. Every little bit helps.

And this is important; in the days where being an author meant having a publisher, authors were at least protected from this kind of crap by a publisher’s lawyers–who could be relied upon to sue the pants off plagiarists to protect their employer’s intellectual property. But for self-published authors like me, and for authors like Rachel who publish with small houses; plagiarism is going to become more and more of a problem and a huge nightmare. Helping Rachel get justice and nail this guy’s head to a wall to display as a warning to others is just a smart thing to do. She probably won’t be able to get much more than a cease-and-desist, and since the “writer” she’s fighting is self-published she likely won’t get any damages out of it, but she deserves all the support she can get.

Addendum Note: Since writing this post I have been following the internet-shadow of this incident. Mullins (the plagiarist) has deleted her Facebook account and her pages have been removed from Amazon and Goodreads. In short, she is not getting away with this. A part of me feels sorry for her; she may be a desperate person, with real need for money, who thought she could make a quick buck using a “forgotten” work (published 20 years ago and no longer owned by a publishing house). I would have more sympathy if she had bitten the bullet and fessed up when discovered, rather than resorting to vicious attacks. Carpet-bombing the author’s own Amazon reviews with 1-star reviews is an nasty tactic that makes an author like me–dependent on Amazon ratings for my sales–shudder and want bloody retribution. If you want to do something else for the author, you can get her plagiarized book here for free now; if it’s your kind of thing, download it, read it, and giver her an honest review. As for Mullins, I hope she will make amends, be able to learn from this, and move on–perhaps even write again, this time for herself (she must have some talent, or she couldn’t have carried off even a plagiarism). 

Movie Reviews.

Just kidding, unfortunately. I’d love to dive into Guardians of the Galaxy, but I just don’t have time. But to sum up: go see Guardians of the Galaxy. As for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…it’s worth a matinee ticket, but its wasted potential left me hugely disappointed.

Everyone enjoy their August.


10 thoughts on “Updates, Comments

  1. Plagiarism annoys me sufficiently that I donated to Ms Nune’s legal fund. For those of you reading this comment – the process was straightforward and painless and I would recommend that you help support the growing independent author community if you can.

    Cheers – Nick

  2. Is there a writers union? I have never been in a union, but protecting the IP of the independents sounds like a reasonable thing for a union to do, as well as workshops… quality control would be nice, but that opens up the door for elitism, not to mention everyone has different standards.

  3. Isn’t plagiarism a rather hard charge to prove? What if the other author had written his material years ago, and it turned out to be very similar to your friends material. Especially if said author didn’t choose to publish until now but can prove that he or she wrote the material years ago? Who would be on the hook for plagiarism then? I’m not saying that is the case here, I’m just curious. While people do have differing ideas and opinions, most have us tend to think along the same lines because of standarized schooling and common reference material.

    1. I understand the point of you question. However, we are not talking simply about a situation where the plagiarist may have read the original book years ago, loved it, and perhaps unknowingly copied it in her own work today. Nor is this person claiming to have written the original manuscript (or even co-authored it) and had it stolen by the published author years ago and published under her own name.

      And no, plagiarism is not hard to prove, at least not in this case. Here the plagiarist has copied the author’s work to the point where she has not only reproduced the story to a degree which makes it recognizable to reviewers who read the original work years ago, she has reproduced the context and meaning of sequential paragraphs in sequential chapters, in many cases copying lines word for word.

      If you are interested in learning more about the details, go here–the site relates how the plagiarism was discovered, the plagiarist’s response, and even includes page-to-page comparisons of the original and copy.

  4. George,

    I appreciate your reading your newsletter and blogs for the Wearing the Cape series. I am delighted that you are just about finished with the Small Town Heroes story and I am eager to read the finished product. As most of us writers try to do, we strive to have our latest book to be hopefully the best book yet.

    I really like your character, Astra/Hope Corrigan. She is a wonderful young lady and she has truly grown into a character that most everyone would like (except the villains) and who many can relate to. I remember the beginnings and the developments of the character and at one point I thought she was a not quite mature 18-year-old. But she grew and she is now one with a lot of responsibility. She still has a long way to go with her powers and her role. I appreciate what she does as far as interact with mainly the Chicago Police Department. She’s become quite the law enforcement individual herself.

    Although we tend to disagree about how we treat our character’s friends in our stories, we have friends that surround and support our main character. The Bees don’t try to directly get into trouble, but Molly’s high school cheer squad (my central character at this time) gets into =tons= of trouble, including a scene in one novel where they attempt to storm the state capitol in Jefferson City in a way to “rescue” Molly, when she really didn’t need rescuing anyway. My character has no superpowers, except for a brilliant mind – 3.96 GPA and her gift of athletics (she’s a cross-country runner as well as varsity cheerleader). But we as authors strive to make our characters, plot and settings as realistic as possible. That’s definitely what the readers want.

    At this time, I have only read (and reviewed) Wearing the Cape, Villains Inc and Omega Night. I felt Omega Night needed a little more fleshing out. It could have been a great novel of the same length as the previous two. I am currently reading Young Sentinels and I like what I have read so far. At first, I was a bit nervous about the changes in narration from chapter to chapter. I like first person narration, although what I write is in third person (I have felt that Molly isn’t much of a narrator herself).

    As I mentioned earlier, I am looking forward to Small Town Heroes. I have been to southern Illinois a lot in the last several months (one of my in-laws has been in the hospital in the town of Herrin, not far from Mount Vernon). I have also visited the towns of Carbondale, Marion, Murphysboro, Galconda, Cairo and, yes, even Metropolis. The “big cities” people refer to down there are St. Louis and Paducah.

    I remember reading in your blog how you were moved by an edition of the X-Men. I admit that I enjoyed one edition of Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). It wasn’t the basis of my character Molly, although Molly is a natural red head as well as Firestar/Angelica Jones. But Molly has a daring streak in her compared to Angelica’s timidness and being easily manipulated as a teenager. Molly loves research and she loves to gross people out in the science labs, especially ones who are not friendly. Molly has an aptitude for the sciences and mathematics. Yet, she plans to attend the University of Missouri and major in Criminal Justice, not to be a lawyer, but to be a member of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis (the elite group of police detectives with a 10-county jurisdiction in east-central Missouri).

    As you know from the news, it isn’t easy being a police officer in greater St. Louis these days. I live in a different part of greater St. Louis. Some of my writer friends live close to the rioting taking place in the suburb of Ferguson and they are doing well. We did cancel our writers critique group meeting this week because of the situation. We meet in the suburb of Florissant, right next to Ferguson. The area was on pins and needles last week. But that has pretty much been isolated. It’s now a conflict among police agencies, the Ferguson Police who have been temporarily replaced by a special unit of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Both the local police and the state troopers have had some infighting over the procedures of handling the unstable situation in Ferguson. The Ferguson Police has been going to the media leaking information, infuriating the troopers and our Governor. Just this past Friday, the FBI has established a temporary field office in Ferguson.

    One of the main reasons why I replied to you has been your blog about the author who had her work taken word-for-word and that’s definitely wrong. I am low on resources, so I can’t help donate to the legal fund. But you have my support as a writer and now a self-publisher (The Sandbag Factory is my “organization”). These thugs who take advantage of us need to be brought to justice. What bothers me more are writers organizations I used to be members with aren’t doing a darn thing. One of those is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) which I was a member for 15 years.

    I wish you all of the best on your writing and I look forward to reading further into Young Sentinels and hopefully Small Town Heroes.

    NOW AVAILABLE: Rurals and Townies, a Young Adult Novel
    Coming in 2015: Rurals Rule: Molly’s Revenge, a Young Adult Novel

    Louis Launer
    St. Peters, Missouri

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