Saturday, December 01, 2007

Accusations of Plagiarism Against Well-Known Ebook Author

Several days ago, a fanfiction author named Amanda posted on reviewer Elisa Rolle's LiveJournal that JJ Massa's book, The Edge, is a plagiarized version of her fanfiction piece, Another Time, Another Place.

Rites of Romance owner Ash Arceneaux was the first to blog the news, and within the last few days more allegations have surfaced regarding Massa borrowing work from other fanfiction authors and even New York Times Bestseller Christine Feehan. Amanda has also posted on Ash's blog.

I may get myself in trouble for this one, but...I have read and compared the fanfiction with Ms. Massa's book. I have spoken with Amanda, the fanfic author. At this point, I believe her. If it's a hoax and I'm wrong, I'll willingly eat crow. But this seems legit to me. And what personal stake do I have in this?

Other than the fact that plagiarism makes my blood boil, and I see it as something that every author should be vigilant about and fight against, nothing. It affects us all, because it could happen to any one of us. In fact, Amanda didn't even know about this until very recently. Someone read her fic and the book and has been trying to reach her for a year to let her know. It could have already happened to me, or you, without us knowing. As writers, our books are more than simple diversions - they are us. My writing is me; my heart, my soul, my blood poured out in black and white. My characters are my happiness and my joy; my sorrow and my pain. They are both a part of me and real to me. I am never more vulnerable to a person than when they are reading my work. Nora Roberts has related her experience of being plagiarized to "mind rape." Katrina Strauss, who was also plagiarized, has said the same thing.

A plagiarist is the lowest of the low. Bottom of the barrel moldy disease-infected pond scum. We as writers have a duty to police ourselves against this creative vampirism, and to stop it when we find it. To ignore it is, in a sense, to condone it.

A few bad apples spoil the bunch, as they say, and I can only hope this doesn't undermine the credibility of the small press industry as a whole. (okay, overreacting? Maybe. Maybe not.)

Not every scene in The Edge was taken from Another Time, Another Place, but some of it is word for word. Some examples are below.

JJ Massa's Book, now pulled from Linden Bay

Amanda's Star Trek AU fic

Philadelphia—the city of brotherly love. Yeah, I feel the love. Tyler winced and slung his backpack over his aching shoulder. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself off the teeming sidewalk and up the battered stairs of the old, red-bricked precinct house.

The inside foyer was even more chaotic than the busy street he'd just left. The room he found himself in was peopled with glowering teens, screaming whores, a few stumbling drunks, and a plethora of independent chemists and their staff.

Tyler dropped his backpack onto the desk letting the noise of its landing grab the attention of a surly looking officer who'd been flicking through a magazine.

"You want something?" he growled, "Just get in line."

Tyler eyed him coldly, nodding his head at the motley mass of human chaos assembled. "I'm not here to sightsee. My name's Tyler Baker."

The cop's lip curled in an outright sneer of contempt. He looked Tyler up and down rudely. "You're late. Lieu expected you a couple hours ago."

"My plane was delayed. I've only been in the city an hour," he began to explain patiently.

"Look deep into my eyes, Baker," he said scornfully. "See any give-a-shit in there?"

Tyler folded his arms across his chest. "You got a problem with me, officer?" he demanded icily.

New York, New York. So good they named it twice.

::Yeah, right::

Tom hoisted his knap-sack higher over his aching shoulder and stared with ill-disguised disgust at the crumbling red-stone exterior of the precinct house until the impatient bustling of passers-by forced him to mount the steps and walk inside.


The foyer was more chaotic than the street he'd left behind. The room was filled with screaming whores, sullen teens, a couple of blood-splattered drunks and someone curled up on the floor in one corner in a puddle of vomit. Tom wasn't sure whether the huddled body was a homeless guy sleeping in the station or a corpse.

At the desk a couple of burly uniforms had some crack-head pinned against the wall while a third cop performed a public strip-search.

He slammed his knap-sack down on the desk and the noise startled a bored-looking cop to belch and frown in his direction.

"What the fuck's your problem? Join the queue."

Tom curled his mouth into a sneer of derision, cocking his head mockingly at the bedlam that purported to be a 'queue'. "I'm not part of the entertainment. My name's Tom Paris."

The cop returned his sneer, sliding his eyes up and down Tom's body with obvious contempt. "You're late. The Cap'n expected you two hours ago."

"My plane got delayed. I only arrived an hour ago and I had to drop off my luggage."

"Tell it to someone who cares, Paris."


Chapter 3 excerpt:

At Chakotay's greeting, Torres straightened up, tore the blood-soiled latex glove off her right hand with a loud snap, and pushed her hair back out of her face.


Chap3 Excerpt

At Paytah's greeting, Medical Examiner Lida Amanda straightened up, pulled the bloodstained latext glove off her right hand with a resonating snap, and pushed her abundant hair off of her face.


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