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January 14th, 2008
The Elephant In The Room

A few people have emailed and asked if I was going to chime in on the Cassie Edwards’ fiasco. Honestly, I wasn’t. Other sites covered the situation far better than I could have, so I refrained. The situation made me sad and frustrated. Every single time I see allegations like this, in or out of the romance community, I get sad and frustrated. Since I could not say anything nice or helpful, I decided only to leave a comment at Dear Author about my general feelings about plagiarism (don’t do it!) and leave it at that. I thought that would be sufficient since I naively believed there would not be much disagreement on this topic and Edwards’ conduct. After all, Edwards said that she used sources without attribution because she did not think she had to give credit, and the passages comparing her work to the nonfiction sources she used showed that her version of “using sources” was actually a verbatim cut-and-paste. Frankly, with all of that, this did not seem like a hard issue to me. She did something wrong, or at the very least questionable. You don’t borrow, take or whatever other people’s work and co-opt it as your own.

Straightforward, no? Apparently not everywhere. The discussion on this in the newspapers and outside of the romance blog world recognizes that this is a topic worthy of discussion and that the allegations require further review. It’s the conversation within the romance community that has me concerned. There are excuses about Edwards’ age, a great deal of blaming-the-messenger (ie, Smart Bitches) and on one writing loop there’s a ridiculous amount of discourse about how awful the Smart Bitches are for speaking ill of Edwards all while the speakers say awful things about the Smart Bitches.

Unfortunately, this confirms my belief that the romance community has a serious problem with introspection and self-monitoring. My only solace in this mess is that Nora Roberts stepped forward and said her view in a straightforward manner, stating that Edwards’ actions were not okay. Roberts did this even though she and Edwards share a publisher. It was a gutsy move. If only we could all be so dignified in expressing our remarks and positions.