The State of Writing Today

What’s Happening With Authors? Including Christian Authors?

A couple of weeks ago I posted Nora Roberts’s response to the plagiarism issue going on with a Brazilian author who has become known as #CopyPasteCris. According to @CaffeinatedFae, “We are now up to 64 books, 35 authors, 3 articles, 3 websites & 2 recipes that were plagiarized by #CopyPasteCris.” (https://twitter.com/CaffeinatedFae/status/1104161561399123969)  Yes, I copied @CaffeinatedFae’s words, but because I’m telling you where it comes from, it becomes research. And you can go there and read a lot more about the situation

A number of years ago I used to write a satirical column that I emailed out. (This was before Facebook and Twitter) I had a radio DJ who had a talk show and did some comedy pieces as part of it that he would love to use my work if I didn’t have a copyright notice on it. I told him that I had no problem with him using some of my stuff, just let people know where you got it. (I know – being paid in exposure. I didn’t know anything about it at the time.) He declined to do that, even though it would be throwing a bone to a local, struggling writer by giving me the recognition for my work. At least he had the integrity to not use my stuff then.

We’re seeing a lack of integrity in the writing in many situations right now. We had the romance writer who tried to trademark a common word used in the Romance Genre, “cocky,” that threw a lot of writers up in arms. If this could happen in the romance genre, it could happen elsewhere. A lot of people got mad. Some friends wrote a Romance Anthology with the title “As Cocky as They Come” as a protest – with every story title including the word “cocky.” I tried to write a story for the anthology, but if there was any doubt before, there isn’t now: I’m not a romance writer. I wrote a forward about the importance of fighting that kind of censorship. Whatever your view on the genre, and some of the stories are ones that I wouldn’t read, trying to trademark a word is blatant disrespect to others. I think we should stand in support of the rights of others, even when their expression of their rights isn’t our cup of tea.

What really bothered me today was reading a Christianity Today article about a popular author for Christian ladies. Many of my friends admire her work. They made the claim that her second book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” is full of plagiarism. I haven’t read the books, but I’ve heard others talking about them. That a Christian author would plagiarize like that, if the article is correct in its assertions, is unconscionable. Holly Hansen, a friend who’s done more research on this than I have, wrote a blog post that dealt not only with the plagiarism, but also the theological quality of the books. Her blog, titled, “Girl, Read a Great Book” helps to highlight to problems the author of “Girls, Wash Your Face” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing” has set in motion.

There are other posts out there that deal with this problems of theology, but sadly, self-help and self-adoration appears to be a popular genre among people who claim to follow Christ. I would make the point, and saw that some of those other posts made the same point, that Christians need to stop worrying about getting a hold of our lives and start learning to let God take control. The best life I could ever have is one where I’m walking with Christ and living in obedience to Him. Should I plan? Sure. Should I work hard? Sure, but I should always be living and writing ethically and in accordance with His will. So stop worrying about taking control of your life, and learn how to give that control over to God.

Daily Work

Nora Roberts Deals With the Plagerism Issue

There’s been a major scandal in the writing world,again. This time, the problem is plagerism. A reader noted that something published by Cristiane Serruya sounded a lot like another book that she’d read and she compared the two passages. They were word for word the same. As the scandal has unfolded, Cristiane Serruya has stolen pages, paragraphs, and sentences from numerous authors. Nora Roberts had a great take on this issue and with her permission, I wanted to share the first part and then give you a link to her site. She lays out the problems in an amazing way.

I’m going to start with the then, to get it out of my system.

Back in the late 90’s, when those of us on-line used message boards to communicate with each other, a reader posted a concern about the similarities in my book Sweet Revenge, originally published in 1988, reissued in 1997, with Janet Dailey’s Notorious, published in hardcover in ’96, in paper in ’97.

As she continued the story in her blog, she noted that Ms. Dailey had not only plagerized her, she’d tried to get sympathy for this one time event, only, it wasn’t a one-time event. Then, she compared it to what’s happening now. If I ever write a best seller, it will be written from me, not stolen from other authors and cobbled together to make it look like I did it. I’d love to have a best seller, but never at the expense of my integrity.

The rest of her blog can be seen here: PLAGIARISM, THEN AND NOW

 

Daily Work

It’s Time to Take on the White Whale

With all the preparations I’m doing at home for my mother’s memorial service, I’ve needed to put my bird photography on hold. Never fear, I will resume the Bird Brain Chronicles soon. In the meanwhile, I’m taking on my white whale. (Please note the clever Moby Dick allusion there.) My White Whale is the story of how my wife and I battled her breast cancer. We got the official notice on the last Saturday of January in 2016. I kept notes throughout the journey, knowing that while we couldn’t be sure of the outcome, we were confident that God had things under control.

About a year ago, I finished the first draft of the story, and then began editing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to working on the story because I wanted to get it just right. And yet, it was always my next project and then something else came along. Last year, my writing time was consumed with work on my devotional series. I wanted to make sure that I had the whole series edited and ready for publication. And, that happened. mind you, I still need to work on marketing, but I’ve been blessed in some great ways because of this process.

This church, Troy First Assembly of God, is using my devotionals to support the spiritual growth of their church. The pastor asked permission and offered to compensate me. He showed a lot of integrity in the way he asked and set things up. A couple of times he’s passed along comments that gave me an emotional lift when I was a bit down.

See how easy it is to get distracted from my white whale? I’m not sure what makes this so had to edit, aside from the fact that I hate editing in general, but I think it’s because this is a story that I think will have such importance and be such a blessing to others that I want to be sure that I do things right. When people get a cancer diagnosis, it’s frightening – at least to us it was both times. Cancer isn’t the death sentence that it used to be, but it’s still a killer if not dealt with properly. The purpose of the book is to give hope, but show the practical steps we took. It’s meant to prepare people for the depths of chemotherapy and the drudgery of the process of waiting for the next treatment.

No one has the same experiences with cancer or with the treatment, but, people can live with hope and they can conquer cancer. And I’m trying to convey that in one short little book. And it scares me because I want this book to help others. Pray with me, will you?