Wednesday, July 20, 2016

No Excuse for Plagiarism

This week, there has been quite the buzz surrounding a speech given by Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. It seems that Mrs. Trump’s speech had passages that were identical to those that appeared in a speech given by First Lady, Michelle Obama, in a speech she made several years ago.

My first thought when I heard that Mrs. Trump was accused of plagiarizing Mrs. Obama is that she didn’t do it. Not because I don’t think the speeches were virtually identical in some places but because I don’t think either woman actually wrote the speeches they gave. It’s common knowledge that political candidates employ speech writers. If anyone committed plagiarism, it was the speech writer. Sure enough, I just finished reading the latest story on this scandal in which Mrs. Trump’s speech writer admits that she used portions of Mrs. Obama’s speech when drafting Mrs. Trump’s speech, but guess what? It was an honest mistake and she feels terrible.

The cynic in me is calling BS on this so-called honest mistake that speech writer Meredith McIver admits to committing. According to Ms. McIver, she was discussing the speech with Mrs. Trump and soliciting her opinion on people she admired. Mrs. Trump claimed to have great admiration for Mrs. Obama and to have been moved by her now-plagiarized speech. In her discussion of said speech, Ms. McIver admits to writing down passages of it and referring to those when she later drafted the speech for Mrs. Trump.

So, the speech writer went so far as to ask Mrs. Trump what public speakers she admired and to ask for quotes from them. Ms. McIver made a note of these quotes but couldn’t be bothered to make one pesky addition as to their original source. Then she “forgot” where these quotes came from when she drafted the speech for Mrs. Trump?

It all sounds pretty fishy to me, but I understand the need for the cover story. When we screw up, especially in such a public way, it’s human nature to look for a scapegoat so that we can make ourselves look better.

The reason I’m on such a tear about this is because I’ve been a victim of plagiarism, and I know how much it hurts. Yes, it can hurt financially for writers, but I was more emotionally devastated. I’d worked long and hard on the story that someone stole from me. That person took my story and made minor changes and then attempted to pass it off as her own. When it was discovered and brought to my attention, I had to do all the work to prove the story belonged to me first. I was wronged and then I had to prove it, which pissed me off even more. The other author stole from me so she should have been the one who had to prove her innocence.

Plagiarism is not a harmless crime nor is it a victimless crime. The people whose words are plagiarized suffer a violation. People who commit plagiarism know what they’re doing and either don’t care or don’t expect to get caught or both. It is not an innocent or harmless mistake. Whether you intend to commit plagiarism or not, it most definitely hurts the original author when you do. So please don’t say that you’re sorry or that it was an innocent mistake. The bottom line here; there’s no excuse for plagiarism.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Book is called WHAT?

There are two things I’m terrible at when it comes to being a writer. Number one, writing those book descriptions that are used to let readers know about the book they’re considering buying. Number two, coming up with a title for my book.

Experts will tell you there are two things that are necessary to sell a book; a great cover and a good title. This is especially true if you’re a new author trying to entice readers. I think that might be why I have such a mental block when it comes to crafting a good title.

When it comes to the title, there are those rare flashes of what I think are brilliance, and I come up with a great title that’s fitting for the book. The rest of the time, I have to put a lot of effort in to coming up with a good title. Making that effort usually involves considering the theme, the characters, the setting, etc. and trying to find titles that are relevant to those things yet still manage to be clever while at the same time not losing the buyers’ interest. In other words, my title has to be catchy yet not too long as to be off putting to the buyers.

I try. I really do. I think most authors try hard because we know what’s at stake. Lately though, I’ve noticed this rash of titles that don’t seem to be trying hard. For instance; My Boss is a Grumpy Werewolf who thinks I’m his Mate and wants me to have his Baby.

This is just one example of many that I’ve seen lately. I’m using this one because it’s stuck in my mind. When I first saw a book in the Kindle bookstore that had a title pretty darn close to this, I was surprised. In fact, I scoffed a little bit, thinking the author hadn’t put any effort in to the title. Then I thought about it and decided that at least I knew what the entire book was about just from the title. That cemented my decision not to buy the book, but it had me wondering. Was this author lazy or clever? Maybe the title was supposed to be comedic, and I missed the point.  Though I didn’t buy the book, maybe others were enticed by the title’s straightforwardness.

Maybe having titles that seem outrageous isn’t such a bad thing. I’m still talking about this book. By doing so, I’m probably encouraging people to search it out which could lead to sales for that author. Who knows what using a seemingly convoluted title will accomplish?

Whatever the answer is, I will probably not change the way I develop titles. I will also probably be struggling with title creation my entire writing career. So maybe, coming up with the title that makes buyers do a double take because it’s so far out there isn’t such a bad thing. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Took on Love

On August 21, 2015 I released Taking a Gamble, the first book in the Taking on Love series. On June 28, 2016, Taking Another Shot was released and the series has come to a close.

The Taking on Love series, which consists of four books, came from characters that were introduced in the preceding Time for Love series. The main characters in the Time for Love series originally appeared in my young adult novel Like You Mean It. Readers loved the characters and asked for more. That led to a four book series that followed the love story of Justin Jacobs and Chelsea Schumacher which brought new characters along with old friends.

I think it was around the third book in the Time for Love series that I decided I wanted to do a spinoff series for some of those characters because I wanted to flesh them out. From that idea came the Taking on Love series.

In Taking a Gamble, Marcy Larsen finds herself married to Nick Singer, her best friend’s brother, after a night of drinking goes way too far. Then came Taking a Chance, the story of Randi and Tom who have to learn to let the past go if they’re going to take a chance on each other. After that was Taking a Risk where we learned that Grayson Jacobs has been hiding a big secret from his family and meeting Cris Kinkaid changes everything for him. Finally, there was Taking Another Shot. Since Grayson got his happily ever after, there was no way I could let his beard and B.F.F. Shayla Hamilton be robbed of hers.

Just as it was with Time for Love, writing the Taking on Love series was a blast. I enjoyed developing the characters and watching their stories unfold, but there was one of the four that I had the most fun with. I know that parents shouldn’t play favorites, and any writer will tell you that our stories are like children to us, but I really enjoyed writing Taking a Risk. Grayson and Cris were a couple that faced a lot of adversity, which any story needs, but it was writing about Cris’s brothers that made that story a riot for me. And of course, it gave me an idea. Yep, you guessed it, the remaining Kinkaid brothers are getting their own series.

One young adult novel spawned all this. Eight books later, I guess it’s safe to say that I took on love and we all won!