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Another book plagiarized by Laura Harner

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Last night, I posted a story about Laura Harner, one of those rare authors capable of producing a high-volume of words in a short amount of time. Of course in Harner’s case, it’s not a matter of simply being prolific. Author Becky McGraw caught Harner in the act when word-for-word sections of her novel, My Kind of Trouble, appeared in Harner’s Coming Home Texas. It appears that Harner lifted McGraw’s entire novel, changing character and setting names, pronouns, and occasional phrases to disguise McGraw’s book, a M/F romance, into a M/M romance.

A commenter on my original post about Harner recognized Opal Carew’s Riding Steele in Harner’s Deuce Coop serial. Though the Deuce Coop series was pulled from most major retailers, as of this morning it was still available on All Romance eBooks. EDIT: Since posting, Harner has also removed the books from All Romance eBooks. Let’s do the “compare screenshots” game. For those who aren’t able to view images, don’t worry; I’ll excerpt the appropriate text for you. I’ve got your back.

First, the description for Opal Carew’s Riding Steele:

riding steele product description

In the arms of an outlaw, she found the freedom to live out her wildest fantasies. Don’t miss this scorching erotic romance from New York Times bestselling author Opal Carew, now available for the first time as a complete novel!

When Laurie is kidnapped by bikers, she has no idea her life is about to change forever. From the moment she meets Steele–their sinfully sexy leader–she can’t deny her fierce attraction. Even though she’s completely at his mercy, his eyes soften when he looks at her, and the other in his gang know she’s strictly hands off. But the more time she spends with Steele, the more her body insists she wants his powerful hands all over her.

Now she’s about to discover a new life on the open road…and what it means to be a part of a gang that shares everything. At first their wanton lifestyle shocks her senses–but once she’s had a taste of life on the edge, will she ever want to leave?

[underlines = italics]

Now let’s take a gander at Deuce Coop episode 1: Taken, the first in Harner’s MC serial:

Deuce Coop product description

For nearly five years, Deuce managed to keep his gang out of serious trouble, but a favor for a friend of a friend puts Deuce in a hell of a spot–take temporary–and unwilling–custody of a young man in a relationship that’s way over his head or leave him in the path of a near-certain death? Despite his decision to leave college-boy’s safety to chance in order to protect his gang from potential kidnapping charges, Cooper ends up cuffed to Deuce’s bed and he discovers fate has a different solution in mind.

When Cooper McElroy is kidnapped by bikers, he has no idea his life is about to change forever. From the moment he meets their sinfully sexy leader Deuce, he realizes the attraction might be more dangerous than the situation the bikers claim to have saved him from. Kept in an isolated location, Cooper discovers this is one gang that doesn’t seem to have issues with territory–it’s all share and share alike. Cooper’s only protection is Deuce’s order declaring him off limits. But the more time Cooper spends with Deuce, the more his body insists it knows what it wants–so who’s going to save him now?

Cooper’s about to discover a new life on the open road…and what it means to be part of a gang that shares almost everything. Will he continue to seek his freedom or beg the gang to take him on the ride of his life?

Gosh, that sounds familiar. Why don’t we check out the first pages? Again, I’ll excerpt text for those who can’t view the images.

Here’s a sample of Carew’s Riding Steele:

opal carew sample

And a sample from Harner’s Deuce Coop episode 1: Taken:

harner sample

Carew’s opening paragraphs:

“Is that the woman Killer’s friend wants us to kidnap?”

Steele glanced in the direction Shock was looking. Steele and his men were sitting in a pub called Big Rigg that had heavy wooden tables and a rustic atmosphere. A woman walked toward one of the high tables at the bar where a suited man and a couple were sitting. He recognized the newcomer from the pictures of Craig’s sister that Killer had shown him.

They didn’t do her justice.

Harner’s opening paragraphs:

“Is that the dude Butcher’s friend wants us to snatch?”

Deuce glanced in the direction Gunny was staring. Deuce and his men sat in an old Route 66 bar, called Big Red’s, decorated in a rustic old west theme complete with heavy wooden tables and a copper bar. A slender young man walked toward the high bar where a suited man sat with a couple–all of their gazes fixed on the young man’s approach. Deuce recognized the newcomer from the pictures of Marcy’s brother that Butcher had shown him.

They didn’t do him justice.

Carew:

Steele nodded. “That’s the one.”

Her name was Laurie and she was stunning. Long, glossy, dark brown hair that careened loosely over her shoulders, beautiful big eyes, a pert nose, and lips that begged to be kissed. And her body. Damn! Every heart-stopping curve was showcased in her short, snug, black dress. His eyes followed the long, slim line of her torso to the arc of her hips, then down the longest legs he’d ever seen. Slim and shapely, ending in glossing black stilettos studded with rhinestones. How she could walk in those heels–which had to be at least six inches high–he didn’t know, but every man in the bar must be thanking his lucky stars at the sight of her glorious swaying ass. He allowed his gaze to make a leisurely climb upward before stopping at her breasts. Round, firm, and snugly cocooned in the tight black dress.

The hint of cleavage in the deep-V neckline caused his body to tighten. His fingers itched to wrap around those glorious breasts. To feel the softness in his hands. To stroke the nipples with his thumbs.

Fuck, his cock was swelling painfully in his jeans.

Harner:

Deuce nodded. “That’s the one.”

He was spectacular, in a wanna-fuck-that-twink sort of way. Long, glossy, auburn hair snaked down his back in a thick braid, deep set eyes, a straight nose and lips that begged to be tasted. And his body. Damn!

Staring at his thin leather belt, Deuce’s gaze traced upwards, following the long, slim line of his torso to the broader shoulders. Swimmer, maybe? As he neared the table, the young man’s shoulders hunched forward, and he ducked his head down, as if shy.

His skintight, jewel-encrusted jeans highlighted every slender curve of his ass and legs. His legs looked a mile-long, ending in cowboy boots that would look fucking hot wrapped around Deuce as he pounded…

Fuck! His cock was swelling painfully in his jeans.

It’s almost impressive how much Harner was still able to plagiarize from Carew here, given the fact that the characters are of mostly different physical and clothing descriptions.

Carew:

 But this was someone’s sister. Craig, killer’s friend. And Craig wanted to protect her.

Steele knew what that felt like. Thoughts of Chrissy shattered his mood. Dead at eighteen. Pain slashed through him. No matter how much Steele had tried to protect his younger sister, had tried to steer her from hanging around with the wrong crowd, headstrong Chrissy had ignored his sage advice and done whatever the hell she’d damned well pleased. And died of a drug overdose.

Harner:

Giving himself a mental head slap, Deuce reminded himself this was someone’s brother. Butcher’s friend Marcy. And Marcy wanted him protected.

Deuce knew what that felt like–he’d once had a sister he’d wanted to keep safe. Thoughts of Susan shattered his mood. Dead before she was old enough to drink–legally. Pain slashed through him. No matter how much Deuce had tried to protect his younger sister, had tried to keep her from hanging out with the wrong crowd, headstrong Susan had done whatever the hell she’d damned well pleased. And died of a drug overdose.

Carew:

Now he’d been offered a chance to help another brother save his sister from a bad situation. He’d been fucking tempted to do exactly what Craig had drunkenly suggested when they’d partied together with Killer the night before, but Steele drew the line at kidnapping.

Raven leaned closed to Rip. “What are they talking about? Are we going to kidnap someone?” She grinned. “Is that part of Steele’s birthday celebration?”

Harner:

Now, Marcy was in a similar position, with a brother–Cooper–in over his head…and she wanted to save him from a bad situation. Deuce had been fucking tempted to take Marcy up on her drunken suggestion when they’d partied together with Butcher the night before, but he and the gang drew the line at kidnapping. Now that he’d had an eyeful of the prospective abductee, he was damned glad he’d turned the job down. This one would be trouble to keep safe, regardless of his best intentions.

Ricky leaned close to Scorpion. “What are they talking about? Are we going to kidnap someone?” He grinned. “Is this part of Deuce’s birthday blow out?”

So, obviously, yes, this is another case of Laura Harner blatantly plagiarizing, turning a M/F romance into a M/M romance. But unlike McGraw’s indie, My Kind of Trouble, Carew’s Riding Steele is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press. While McGraw has indicated that she’s pursuing legal action against Harner, St. Martin’s has more resources at their disposal should they decide to sue Harner as well.

I hope Harner put plenty of her stolen royalties aside for legal fees.

If you’re an author of paranormal, highlander, motor cycle club, firefighter, cowboy, or SEAL romances, I strongly urge you to check what Harner still has listed on retail sites to make sure you’re not being plagiarized as well.

141 Comments

  1. Laura
    Laura

    Okay, so this is obviously terrible. I am not in any way disputing that what this person did was completely wrong, and was stealing. But I also can’t help thinking that maybe it would be cool if there was a legit, non-stealy way to do what she did – that is, take a story that she thought was good, that she thought would appeal to audience of m/m romances, and turn it into something that a new audience would enjoy.

    Could this be done by collaboration? Like, could she have written to the original author and said, “Hey, I have this idea for your story – what do you think about it?” and then maybe they publish it jointly and negotiate a profit-sharing plan? Obviously it can’t be marketed as a completely new story or else it’s also dishonest to readers – but maybe that’s okay. Maybe you can just call it an m/m “adaptation” and people will be fine with that?

    I’m not going to try to defend this person because obviously what she did was indefensible. But I can imagine that she might have viewed herself as doing something valuable, even though that thing was not “writing a story.” And there probably really were some people out there who enjoyed her versions much more than the originals, since as you pointed out, many people read only m/m or m/f and not both.

    Like some of the commenters on the last post said, copyright law hasn’t caught up with the realities of easy self-publishing yet – but maybe our ideas about what can be done with other people’s stories haven’t, either. We just need ways to do those things that respect and remunerate the original authors (and of course, get their permission!), and don’t lie to readers.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • Courtney
      Courtney

      I hear what you’re saying, but what you’re essentially describing is fanfiction. Which should never, ever be done for profit. That’s what takes this out of “harmless writing exercise” territory and into “holy cats, illegal as hell!” world.

      Your idea of reaching out to authors to do an “adaptation” of their work is an interesting one with precedent in the literary, TV, music, and film worlds. But I’m not willing to give the plagiarizer the benefit of the doubt that she thought she was doing a valuable thing. Well, scratch that. She thought it was a valuable thing but the value was only to herself. Her attempts to cover her tracks now speak volumes– she knows this is illegal, she knows it’s wrong, and she knows she’s facing serious trouble. She’s not even feigning ignorance about why this is Totally Not Ok, which tells me she knew that going into this.

      October 23, 2015
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      • Laina
        Laina

        Also, in my experience, most fanfic artists are making original content. Derivitive idea, but original content. That could be different in other fandoms, obviously, in the ones I fool around in, people don’t want to read something that’s just three words different here and there.

        YMMV of course.

        October 23, 2015
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        • I myself wrote fanfiction with original content. I am scared as hell that someone will steal those and publish them as their own by changing the verse into which I have written those.

          What this author did is very much horrible. The fanfiction world is also very unforgiving. If she had done the same thing and not disclaimed it in her fanfiction, she would have been hanged there too.

          A very well known author (before she came popular for her original work… remained to be seen if she didn’t plagiarized that too, mind you) had done exactly that. She had plagiarized a published author and adapted the story to the verse she was writing in. She got caught! It wasn’t pretty. The only good news is that the original work from the original author had been discontinued and the scandal allowed her to reprint her books.

          If you want to know who, google fanfiction and plagiarism. The name come up on the first page of the search…

          October 25, 2015
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          • Courtney
            Courtney

            I’m not too ashamed to say it. It’s Cassandra Clare. She wrote the Draco Trilogy in the HP fandom, stole whole chunks from a series by Pamela Dean. She was part of the “inner circle” of Fiction Alley and lots of the other members were caught plagiarizing too, including Heidi and Ebony (Ebony, at least, apologized).

            October 26, 2015
        • Tina
          Tina

          I’m a fanfic writer, and generally what is done there is take characters (that everyone knows) and writing them doing different things in either the same universe as the original story or an alternate universe. The characters may also have different jobs or be college-aged, whatever.

          So fanfiction of the original romance would mean that another writer took the couple in the story and…sent them on a trip to climb Everest together, or set the story in medieval France.

          This is just straight-up plagiarism, not fanfiction.

          October 29, 2015
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      • Kat
        Kat

        Well said. Its illegal if she wanted to adapt she should have stuck to fan fiction sites. Shes ducked and ran for cover… a sure sign of guilt. If someone took a look at all her catalogue i bet most will be rip offs. Ive promoted both Opal and Becky on my blog. I have read a couple of Beckys books. Authors put sweat and blood into their stories… lets make sure that people like Laura Harmer get named and shamed when we come across these syolen stories. Her pen surname was quute apt… shes Harming legitimate authors with her actions

        October 25, 2015
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        • I’m too polite to put into print my views on plagiarists. Saying she might have overstepped the line is just her admitting she has broken the eleventh commandment – THOU SHALT NOT GET CAUGHT.
          Although if you go public with someone else’s work word for word and line for line in a market of dedicated readers it is hard to imagine how it couldn’t have been noticed just a weeny bit.

          December 7, 2015
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    • “I also can’t help thinking that maybe it would be cool if there was a legit, non-stealy way to do what she did – that is, take a story that she thought was good, that she thought would appeal to audience of m/m romances, and turn it into something that a new audience would enjoy. ”

      You’re talking about fan fiction, which is just about acceptable – although not to such an obvious extent (to be a transformative work, it ought to transform rather than copy) – as long as nobody makes any money from it. Otherwise it’s theft, pure and simple. Put yourself in the original author’s position for a moment, and tell me if you’d be so keen to collaborate then. If an author has specifically written about an M/F relationship she’s unlikely to be thrilled to have her work repackaged for an M/M couple, and vice versa; most of the M/M authors I know would be spitting rivets at the very thought. Not to mention the obvious quality issues that would be involved.

      This is about an individual using another person’s hard work and emotional investment to make herself an easy buck. Whether or not publishing has changed, that’s never ever going to be considered acceptable behaviour.

      October 23, 2015
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      • Bugger it, I clearly can’t close html tags when I’m angry. Sorry, I wasn’t intending to shout.

        October 23, 2015
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        • Laura
          Laura

          Yeah, I see your point – the money-making angle is what makes this stink to high heaven. As fan fiction, this stuff does sort of make sense (I think? I don’t read or write fan fiction so I don’t really know). And I guess what’s going on here is that this person a) wanted to write fan fiction, b) wanted to make money off it, c) knew this was not legit, and d) took steps to hide her activities hoping she wouldn’t get caught. There’s no positive spin to put on that one, for sure.

          October 23, 2015
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      • Joyce
        Joyce

        Fanfic has been done for “profit” for years, and there’s no reason on earth it cannot be for profit, so long as it is clearly stated it’s based on something AND is truly transformative, using original universe and building on it. Let’s face it folks, the whole rash of current Sherlock Holmes material is fanfiction. A great deal of fanfic is non-literary based, and many authors encourage fanfic within certain limits. It can help solidify fanbases and make the original works more valuable, in fact. (Can we say Fifty Shades of Grey, which is Twilight fanfic and no hiding that fact AT ALL). The thing about fanfic, is that MOST of it is also original except for the universe it’s in. It’s not simply rewritten versions of the original. At the least it is derivative and at best transformative. Done well, fan fiction is still ORIGINAL works, and not plagiarism. Should it be done with respect for the original works, and if you’re going to publish it, with a mind toward the audience, etc? Sure, if you want to publish it in a big way. (IE: JK Rowling’s request that any publically available fanfic of her universe be PG 13 friendly because that is the target audience). Some authors despise fanfic, but for the most part, those I’ve heard of were usually also generally curmudgeons, or pissed when the fanfic got to be better than the original material. (Clive Cussler and I believe Laurell K Hamilton both got this rep along the way…) But plagiarism is not fanfiction, and neither is collaboration…

        October 23, 2015
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        • Tymber Dalton
          Tymber Dalton

          The difference with something like Sherlock Holmes is that 1) for-profit works, for quite a few years, have been licensed by the estate, and 2) now much of it has fallen into the public domain due to the copyright period expiring on it. (And for the record, the Conan Doyle estate has been a pretty vigorous copyright hound for the past several decades and has gone through lots of litigation over protecting their copyright in for-profit cases.)

          Fan fiction done for-profit without the express permission of the original author/rights holders is not only illegal, it’s immoral as well.

          What the author did in this case is nothing but plagiarism and stealing, pure and simple, and she deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law.

          It still boggles my mind that in today’s Internet era ANYONE thinks they will escape notice when they pull this crap. It’s far easier now than ever to catch thieves like this in the act.

          October 23, 2015
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          • Sarah Walker
            Sarah Walker

            Most fanfic I’ve read actually has some original takes of the author’s own. For example, Sherlock Holmes derivatives use the original characters and (not always) the setting, but at least invents new adventures and plots.

            This is basically word for word with a few changes. Like someone “writing” A Study in Scarlet but making the detective Hemlock Soames and the sidekick John Watney, and setting it in Manchester and Colorado instead of London and Utah.

            October 28, 2015
        • Courtney
          Courtney

          But Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain. You can bet your butt that if I wrote a book starring Harry, Hermione, and Ron, no matter HOW transformative, I’d get cease-and-desist’ed right quick if I tried to sell it for profit.

          It’s like those books that came out a few years ago that take classic novels and put monsters in them. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is the example that comes to mind. P&P is no longer protected by copyright law so no special permissions are needed to repackage it with zombies. But if I tried to release “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets…. with Ghosts!” that would absolutely not fly.

          October 23, 2015
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          • Tymber Dalton
            Tymber Dalton

            Sherlock Holmes has only recently fallen into public domain due to the copyright period expiring on some of the works, and even then the estate is still litigating the case because not all of the works are in the public domain yet.

            October 23, 2015
          • Courtney
            Courtney

            Thanks Tymber for the extra info! I didn’t know that about SH. I should have said “Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain, I assume.” 🙂

            October 23, 2015
          • Worth noting that even the writers for the current BBC Sherlock series have said they consider their show essentially to be fanfiction, in the sense that Arthur Conan Doyle would probably have not approved 😛 I write a lot of Sherlock fanfic (as well as original M/M romance), and I do appreciate that the show’s creators are explicitly fine with it.

            This situation is not fanfiction. This is “Wow, turns out ‘writing’ is a lot faster when I copy parts wholesale from another book so I don’t have to think while I do it!” TOTALLY different thing.

            October 23, 2015
        • Doesn’t Amazon have a line where original authors have explicitly given permission for their works to be fan-ficced, and the original authors are paid something?

          October 23, 2015
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          • Yes, it’s called Kindle Worlds. I’ve written a crossover novella for Cat Johnson’s Hot SEALs series and my Deep Six Security series in her Hot SEALs Kindle World.

            There are rules in place to protect both the originator of the series and the authors who write in ‘her world’. It’s not willy-nilly, use what you want. If we create a location in her world, it has to stay there. Like a bar or restaurant. We can’t ever include it in one of our books. Cat made arrangements that we could keep any characters we create in her world, which was nice.

            Amazon Kindle Worlds owns the rights to the novellas and they determine the format that the work can be published in and how that will be done, but we make royalties from the sales.

            http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/6305074011/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_kstore_1_3_last

            October 23, 2015
        • Charles
          Charles

          I always hear that 50 Shades is Twilight fanfic.

          How???? It doesn’t reuse the same universe. Or the same characters. Or the same situations. Oh, except that it has a romance between a dominant male and a not-so-dominant female. But then again, so do hundreds of thousands of other books.

          Oh! They do both take place in small towns… no… wolves?

          I don’t get it.

          October 23, 2015
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          • Laina
            Laina

            …are you lost?

            October 23, 2015
          • Candace
            Candace

            It was originally available as what fanfic writers call an AU, or alternate universe, story. In that, the characters did have the same names, but the vampirism was swapped out for alternative sexuality. (And they added a few years to Bella’s age, to make her legal!) The interest in AU’s lies largely in seeing how a fanfic writer can take the same recognizable characters, and put them into a changed universe. Readers enjoy seeing these variant interpretations of how their beloved characters respond in a different setting.

            October 23, 2015
          • JennyTrout
            JennyTrout

            The good news is that I’ve spent something like four years writing about 50 Shades and pointing out nearly every parallel between it and Twilight right here on this blog. 😀

            The first indication, however, is that E.L. James wrote the book as Snowqueen’s Icedragon on fanfiction.net, as a fanfic of Twilight in which she removed the vampire/werewolf elements and replaced them with BDSM/scary minority elements. While doing this she took elements of other fan fictions without permission from those fic authors. When the fic became popular, she did a find/replace for the names. When put through plagiarism detecting software, 50 Shades of Grey is 83% similar to the Twilight fan fiction she wrote. She just changed the names.

            Because of this, most of the same characters and dynamics in the Twilight universe are present in 50 Shades of Grey. Edward becomes Christian, who wants to hurt Bella (now Ana) not because he’s a vampire, but because he’s a sadist. The entire series is about Christian fighting that urge (as Edward fought his urge to harm Bella), until she eventually acquiesces to submit to him sexually in order to stay in a relationship with him (as Bella became a vampire to stay with Edward forever).

            There are a host of similarities in real life, as well, with E.L. releasing a book written from Christian’s POV (as Meyer had planned to do with Edward’s POV in Midnight Sun), then claiming that the book was stolen and leaked (which actually happened with Meyer’s Midnight Sun). The retelling, Grey, also shares similarities with Midnight Sun.

            Basically, there’s so much evidence that E.L. James deliberately ripped off Stephenie Meyer that many people in the publishing world are astonished that legal action wasn’t taken.

            October 23, 2015
          • Fifty Shades was originally written as fan fiction under the title Masters of the Universe, using the same Twilight characters. Only after it became so popular did the author change all the names and anything that could have been considered plagiarism so she could publish it.

            October 23, 2015
          • The origina–Master of the Universe–was a fanfiction. In Fifty Shades, she changed their names to Christian and Ana, from Edward and Bella.

            Of course, they aren’t at all similar to Twilight, which is why I think it’s so absurd that people are still complaining that it’s ‘fan fiction’, when the current version is clearly not even remotely similar to the world of Twilight.

            October 23, 2015
          • Laina
            Laina

            Hope, and you new here or something??? 83% isn’t similar?

            October 23, 2015
          • N.R.Tupper
            N.R.Tupper

            The characterizations of the characters were based on Bella and Edward and in the first several chapters of 50 Shades that is starkly obvious. Anastasia IS Bella, with a new name.

            E.L.James herself admits that 50 Shades was fanfic… but it was an AU fanfic which means once she switched the names she could publish.

            If you’re not familiar with fanfic none of that probably makes sense but it’s par for the course in the fanfic world to have characters that are based on the original source but who deviate so much that eventually they’re OC’s instead of copies of the original.

            October 24, 2015
        • You see a lot of Cthulhu Mythos stuff as well and that’s clearly fan fiction in a sense (I even published some, as the publisher not the author). That’s allowable because like Sherlock Holmes, or Alice in Wonderland, or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, it’s in the public domain and during his life he encourage other authors to use his ideas as well. I don’t see any problem making money off fan fiction for works in the public domain or that are licensed by the original rights holder or their estate. There’s precedence for the latter for example with Robert E. Howard’s Conan and the myriad of novels and comics the character has appeared in.

          November 4, 2015
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      • Kitty
        Kitty

        Actually I vaguely recall an author who encouraged her fans to submit items. They would make spin-off stories and submit fanart to her, and she would publish it in anthologies with their names if she liked their work. I don’t know if the fans got money off of it, or just got resume credit for their portfolios or what-have-you, but she actually enjoyed a stronger bond with her fans for letting them have permission to play in her world. It didn’t hurt that she also ended up with more product to sell on her site. I wish I could remember her name off the top of my head. But in case you are wondering, check out the Star Trek/Star Wars/ Marvel books that have been authorized by the owning publishing company. I knew someone who wrote a short story for… I believe it was Star Trek. He got paid a flat rate of $400.00 when they accepted it and they got full rights to the story.
        That is actually a thing that can be done, and I believe that may be what Laura had in mind. Just because it’s fanfiction doesn’t mean that the original creator and fan can’t both benefit. The trick is in open communication and negotiation if the creator is willing. Going behind their back and changing stuff in order to release it anyway after you’ve approached them with your idea and they’ve refused, or releasing fanfiction as original work without contacting the author? That would be plagiarism and worth pursuing legal action over.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • mee
          mee

          Kelley Armstrong might be the author you’re thinking of, she’s very encouraging towards people writing in general and within her verses. Payment was sorted offscreen but I got the impression it was all done fairly and she made sure they got credit.

          October 23, 2015
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        • Micheline
          Micheline

          Mercedes Lackey has done that. She has several Valdemar anthologies out, and in most if not all of them, she wrote one of the stories. The other short stories were written by other writers. I’m not sure whether she takes things that people just send her on their own or if she contacts author friends to write for her. (Some, if not all, of the contributors are authors in their own rights…if not necessarily well-known.) Now I wonder how compensation works. The anthologies themselves are published under Lackey’s name only, but the stories inside will tell you who wrote them. Maybe she pays a flat rate to own the rights?

          Interestingly, she is also on record as being adamantly against fanfiction (though I might have seen something where she softened her stance just a bit) even when it has the usual fanfic disclaimers; her concern was that it would open her up to liability should she write her own story with too many similarities. I assume the difference is that she’s soliciting (or at least curating) the submissions that she publishes in her collections.

          October 23, 2015
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          • John Helfers
            John Helfers

            I’m the packager of the most recent Valdemar anthologies (No True Way, and Crucible), and have worked with Misty on the entire series from Sword of Ice on (as well as the two Elemental Masters anthologies that came out a few years ago).

            To shed some light on how those particular anthologies work, the stories (submitted from invited authors that are approved by her) are work-made-for-hire, as they are set in Misty’s created universe of Valdemar. The authors sign over all rights, as they are playing in her world, and Misty ends up owning the stories outright. The authors are aware of this when they sign the contract, and of course, have the right to not have their story appear if they wish (no one does :).

            The authors are paid an advance upon story acceptance, and a share of royalties if/when the anthology earns out. So, although she may be against unauthorized fan fiction for the aforementioned reason above, Misty doesn’t have a problem with creator-approved fiction in her world/s written by authors she knows and trusts.

            October 23, 2015
          • Micheline
            Micheline

            Very interesting, Mr. Helfers, thank you. It seems I wasn’t too far off.

            October 24, 2015
      • Marty
        Marty

        I was on a fanfic panel at a convention a few years ago where I voiced my discomfort with fanfiction for profit (and I say that as a long-time fanfic writer and reader.) Boy was THAT not the right thing to say!

        There are apparently very, very strong opinions out there that fanfic sold for profile, even without the author’s say-so, is aokay and a great way to gain exposure as a new author. Just giving you a heads-up before you get argued down by an entire room like I did!

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • Marty,

          This is awful!
          I agree with you: fanfiction should never be for profit.
          If you are too lazy to create your own world, you shouldn’t make money from the world someone else created!

          I wrote a lot of fanfictions and now I am writing originals.
          I would never use my fanfictions to make money.

          October 25, 2015
          |Reply
          • P.S. I would take the fight head on!
            I feel very strongly about that as an author and a fanfiction writer.
            Yes, I will tell I write fanfiction and it may help me sell my original work, but I will never sell it!

            October 25, 2015
    • Seanna
      Seanna

      I know some authors have opened up their “worlds” to fellow author friends in Kindle Worlds. I assume there is profit sharing going on.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Tymber Dalton
        Tymber Dalton

        The Kindle Worlds program is different. It’s authorized, and the authors must follow certain guidelines for participation. Not all works are accepted, either.

        In a case like that, that’s a perfectly legitimate situation.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • Seanna
          Seanna

          This was a comment to someone who wanted to know of legitimate ways so sell fan fiction type stories. I really like the collaboration and consent in the setup. Not knocking Kindle World, actually I am quite excited about it. My comment didn’t match up right.

          October 23, 2015
          |Reply
          • Tymber Dalton
            Tymber Dalton

            No worries. 🙂

            October 23, 2015
    • Deborah Macgillivray
      Deborah Macgillivray

      no, no no….

      If anyone wants to be an author and be proud of what you put out there, then BE ORIGINAL. It’s not really that hard. Stealing is stealing. Period.

      Copyright laws are there, they don’t need to catch up. They need to be enforced. People need the understanding just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

      There is no pride in taking another’s work and rebooting it and claiming at your own. To do so it lying to readers.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • I think what you’re referring to would be fan-fiction in which you can publish it on Wattpad for free (you can’t ask people to buy something you copied that heavily from). Some authors have started with fan-fiction and then changed it enough to their own to be able to sell them (i.e.: Twilight v. 50 Shades, etc). But this kind of direct line for line copy isn’t okay in any way unless done by the author.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • Misfit
      Misfit

      I’m not suggesting in any way that what Laura Harner did is okay. Not in any way, shape, or form. I’m a writer myself, and I put a lot of work into what I write, and I take great pains to try for something original.

      That said, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an almost plot-point-by-plot-point copy of a Scandinavian legend. That in no way suggests that Shakespeare is a plagiarist. But I do think it is possible to take the gist of a story and make it your own. Writers take stories they love and tell them with their own spin.

      In this case, I don’t think changing a character’s gender is enough to call it Harner’s “own spin.” Clearly she took these works written by other authors, and she went paragraph by paragraph to change a word or phrase here or there. If she wanted to tell a story like that, I just don’t get why she couldn’t break it down to the plot points–taking the house to the studs, if you will–and rebuilt the story to make it her own. That’s still lazy in a lot of ways, but then people would be calling her a hack, but she wouldn’t be labeled a plagiarist.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Heather
        Heather

        Just FYI Shakespeare’s Romeo& Juliet has a plot lifted wholesale from an earlier Italian work. Scholars are still debating to what degree we can call him a plagiarist.

        October 24, 2015
        |Reply
      • You kind of defeated your own argument here though by clearly describing that it isn’t what LH did. There is a massive difference between taking a skeleton of a story and putting your own spin on it to where it looks nothing like the original and doing an almost line by line copy and paste with certain details fudged or some words moved around a little. Fiction is derivative there is no denying it, but doing a copy/paste+find/replace isn’t in the same field as talking about derivative fiction. That’s quite a different discussion.

        October 24, 2015
        |Reply
        • Misfit
          Misfit

          That’s pretty much what I was saying. I wasn’t trying to suggest that LH did anything right. I was simply saying that, if she wanted to copy someone’s work, she could have saved herself a lot of heartache by stripping a story down to its bare bones and filling it back up with her own words and characters. I wasn’t arguing anything. 😛 And I think we’re in agreement. They are massively different.

          October 24, 2015
          |Reply
    • From my experience, what you are suggesting is what fanfic writers often do. I don’t have a fanfic background but I do know some fanfic writers who do exactly what Harner did. The difference is, they don’t sell the work, nor do they claim it as their own.

      Brenda
      *wanders off to check her titles against Harner’s*

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • HC Leigh
        HC Leigh

        lolol, Brenda.

        October 24, 2015
        |Reply
    • Candice Vetter
      Candice Vetter

      No, it is never acceptable to take the ideas and storylines belonging to other authors, tweak them (with or without permission) and then publish them. The only thing acceptable is a loving homage, a parody, or continuing use of characters and situations with permission (think the Star Wars novels). If you can’t think of your own stories and characters you’re not a writer.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
    • HC Leigh
      HC Leigh

      I write m/m and m/f contemporary romance, and wanted to do just this. Same story written two different ways. Once for m/f, and one for m/m, mostly to show people that love is love and isn’t very different once you get down to the basics.

      However, the LGBT community doesn’t take kindly to having gender so easily substituted and it could be seen as a brush off. Not something I care to do to anyone, especially not a group of people who deal with enough bigotry and stereotypes on a daily basis.

      Sensitivity goes a long way.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
    • Jen
      Jen

      Thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t quite get straight in my head. I would never have read the “original” but I loved Laura’s version. It took a lot of effort I’m sure to rewrite a M/F to a M/M. I wish she could have found a way to collaborate/share profits as you suggested–would have been a win-win for readers and all authors in my opinion.

      October 25, 2015
      |Reply
      • Maggie
        Maggie

        I respectfully disagree, Jen. It was very easy to change names and a few words around. It probably takes longer to go grocery shopping than it did to “write” Harner’s “book”.

        October 25, 2015
        |Reply
        • Laura
          Laura

          I haven’t read any of the books, so it’s hard to know how long it takes or how much work it is to do what she did, but I think the main issue is that what she did wasn’t “writing” a book, it was more like remixing a song – it was a slightly different take on essentially the same material, intended to appeal to a different audience. This is a marketing strategy, and not a crazy one – what’s crazy is that it wasn’t her book and that she had no rights to the material she was “remixing,” so to speak. (And by “crazy” I mean totally illegal and wrong, wrong, wrong.)

          I can definitely see both sides of the issue when it comes to whether this would be a positive or a negative thing for people in the LGBT community – “love is love” is an inspirational message and yet people might feel like their lives are trivialized when they’re treated as equivalent to someone else’s. So even if it is a clever marketing strategy (if done in some legal manner!), it has its potential pitfalls. But the idea that this could be a way to make a story appealing to a new market seems interesting and more to the point, to the extent that she sold any of these books, it obviously worked.

          Plagiarizing is obviously not the way to do this, but maybe “remixed” romance stories in general are not a terrible idea – in both directions. HC Leigh, I’d love to see it if you end up doing this – especially since you’re familiar with both genres.

          October 25, 2015
          |Reply
          • Laina
            Laina

            I don’t think “both directions” works for this kind of thing. Taking a story that involves minority characters and erasing them is generally… not a good thing.

            October 25, 2015
    • Amelia
      Amelia

      This shit would never fly, not even in fanfic. In the fandom, this is what we call copy-pasta, that is, she’s copy pasted the novel into a word document and replaced some portions of the text. Even fanfiction websites, such as AFF, AO3 and FFN (thought the mods on FFN are really rubbish and probably wouldn’t enforce their own rules) would declare this plagiarised content and ban hammer it. This is because the writing is identical in many passages, and indistinguishabel from the source material in other.

      That being said, fanfic authors usually have a lot more imagination than this. They don’t really want to read the same story twice, albeit with search replaced names and pronouns. They want wacky hijinks, want to be hit in the feels, they want smut and improbable aus, like what would happen if they all suddenly turned into animals, or they worked in a coffee shop together IDEK, just surf around AO3 for a bit and you’ll see what I mean. Fandom isn’t interested in recreating the source material so much as they’re interested in completely re-purposing it. I can’t see this sort of thing being very popular at all. At least not on the fanfiction circuits I frequent.

      October 26, 2015
      |Reply
  2. jen
    jen

    Also, isn’t fan fiction technically original writing with the established characters? So you wouldn’t just take a whole chapter wholesale and change a few words, you’d have the characters from the other works doing different things. So it’s borrowing from the universe but not plagiarism exactly. I’m not a fiction writer of any kind, so grain of salt, but that’s my understanding. You still have to *write* fan fiction.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • Kinda depends on the fanfic, but if it’s too close to the original the writer will probably get put into the same category as people who put illegal PDFs of books online for people to read. The only way they get away with it now is that they’re not the same story, even if they use the same characters. (I even know of someone who did the “tell the story from the perspective of the other character” in The Immortals fandom well before Midnight Sun was a thing, and she manages to make the story so different.)

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Laura
        Laura

        This is definitely a problem with the plan to just call this “fan fiction” and say it’s okay as long as you don’t make money off of it – there’s too much of the original work there to give it away for free, too.

        It sounds like most people are saying there’s just no way for this stuff to exist in the world and be okay. I’m still not completely convinced that there COULDN’T be a way for this to not be shady, but if there is, it’s damn hard to come up with it…

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
    • goddesstio
      goddesstio

      Exactly, this was no kind of adaptation, this was just copying. She didn’t even take two men and put them in the same situation and rewrite it, she just copy-pasted chunks of the books changing names. Fuck, even the dreaded EL James did more work than her. This isn’t even in the fan fiction realm.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lovell
      Lovell

      Yeah. Writing fanfiction is not copying whole-sale and editing pronouns, nouns, and a few sentences here and there. This is outright theft. And its intentional. I remember writing essays in middle school where you had to excerpt passages from textbooks – but couldn’t do it word for word or else it would be plagarism. So of course, smart students would edit the phrasing of the sentences but keep the meaning intact. This plagerizer knew *exactly* what she was doing when she did it. She was fairly clever about it too, but not very smart, at the end of the day.

      Writing fanfiction should be (notice I said should be, I know we dont live in a perfect world) about writing. Sure, you use other writer’s playgrounds, you take their characters… but you put them in scenarios and relationships and conflicts that the original authors dont. You write the story you wanted to read with other people’s characters and settings. Its still writing. Getting paid for your fanfiction, well, everyone’s mileage will vary on that one.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • Candace
      Candace

      That’s closer to the notion of fan fiction. It usually falls into one of two categories (and I’m referencing Sheenagh Pugh’s excellent book on fan fiction, “The Democratic Genre”): “more of” or “more from.” Fan writers often are writing the further adventures of , or else using the medium of fiction to explore and comment on different interpretations of the original text. The latter can include things like gender-swapping, retelling a scene from different a character’s viewpoints, filling in backstories and gaps in the main story, and so on.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • Even if it isn’t plagiarism because you aren’t copying anything you are still violating trademarking or copyright agreements which is equally as bad. Like sure it might be an original story, but you only did half the work. You didn’t come up with the universe or it’s rules or have to develop a character more than the scope of the story you are telling. I think that is equally as skeevy.

      I’m not saying you can’t take fanfiction and transform it eventually so it looks nothing like where you started, but a crappy copy job is no better or worse than ripping off elements you didn’t create and trying to pass them off as your own thing even if you do write original content. It’s still stealing from the author and it’s even worse because you are trying to use the fanbase the author already built to further your goals.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
  3. People who have sharper eyes than me need to check out editor Jae Ashley’s very, very extensive oeuvre, and possibly also TA Webb and Haven Fellows.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • Jade Baiser
      Jade Baiser

      so Because they are friends you think you have the right to slander them? Be careful, they are entitled to sue you, and I wouldn’t blame them.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Courtney
        Courtney

        It’s not slander to suggest that people take a closer look at certain authors for possible plagiarism, and nobody is entitled to sue. lol.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
      • Donna
        Donna

        I agree, you would also have to add a few more names in that group as well. Don’t start slandering others just because they are friends!!!!!

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
    • Jade Baiser
      Jade Baiser

      so Because they are friends you think you have the right to slander them? Be careful, they are entitled to sue you, and I wouldn’t blame them.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • Marlobo
      Marlobo

      You know to what your opinion looks alike? To that one from bigots that believe gayness is catchy. I deplore your words and your speedy judgment about people which probably they will become ones of the most harmed persons for all this, since it would be not only the impact for the stealing but due to the abuse of their personal feelings.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        No. This is not like homophobia at all. That’s a really bad comparison that waters down the severity of homophobia.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • Marlobo
          Marlobo

          Perhaps it was not the best comparison and in no way my intention was waters down the severity homophobia, but I think that the essence of my comment is anyway. Perjudice is a bad thing, always

          October 23, 2015
          |Reply
          • Marlobo
            Marlobo

            Sorry, errata, the correct sentence is: “The essence of my comment is clear anyway”

            October 23, 2015
      • I was working from the fact that TA Webb and Havan Fellows don’t seem to have any sort of internet presence outside of GoodReads and sub-pages of the plagiarist’s homepage and my hope that an editor who saw that much work across such an insanely wide spectrum might be astute enough to notice drastic changes in voice and skill.

        But by all means. Call me a bigot. It’s nice to know this early which direction the “don’t be mean” squad is going to veer.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • Chris
          Chris

          Just because you can’t find them on social media doesn’t mean that they’re plagiarists. There are major NY Times authors that don’t even have websites in this day and age. Are you going to accuse them of being plagiarists also?

          Yes we all use social media to connect to authors, readers, bloggers, etc. Some people just aren’t that big into social media or don’t have the time if they still work a day job along with writing. Others just don’t care to be sucked into being online so much. That doesn’t make them a plagiarist though.

          October 23, 2015
          |Reply
        • Jade Baiser
          Jade Baiser

          so if you have a life and you’re working your ass off to write, and you don’t have time to socialize on the internet, you’re a plagiarist?
          If one of your cousin is a drug dealer, that means you are too?
          I understand that people are angry because of what Laura did, but stop implying that her friends did the same!
          And Laura works with other authors but you seem to focus on those two, why? Did you read some of their work? I defy you to find anything that’s not theirs.
          So spill your anger on who deserve it, and stop pointing at honest people

          October 24, 2015
          |Reply
        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          I don’t see anywhere that Lorelie called them plagiarists. I see where Lorelie suggested that perhaps checking the work of co-authors of an exposed plagiarist is a smart idea.

          You know what? It is. Not because “Oh, they know her, so they’re definitely plagiarists maliciously ripping off everyone else’s work. But because they worked directly with Harner, and they have their names on books that might contain plagiarized content. Without looking at their work (and other works from the editor who handled Harner’s books), they’re still going to be suspect for some people. If we do look at their work and there’s no plagiarism (which their probably won’t be), then we can conclude that any plagiarism that may be found in the co-written books is the sole responsibility of Harner.

          October 24, 2015
          |Reply
        • I have personally met T.A. Webb to an event three years ago. the reason why he does not have a presence on the web lately is since he has serious health issues he is going through, and moreover he lost his beloved father after a long illness and they were very close to each other. So please be careful to people you are attacking, they can be in a state where your words can be provoke a huge damage.

          October 24, 2015
          |Reply
          • TinaNicole
            TinaNicole

            Lots of people have also met Laura Harner. Authors and readers, alike.

            Checking out other authors/pen names associated with a known plagiarist isn’t a witch hunt, nor is it remotely like homophobia or any hate group.

            The last plagiarist that was outted ended up having several other pen names he was working (plagiarizing) under.

            Labeling other authors plagiarists for simply being linked to one is wrong. But that wasn’t was suggested by the original commenter and what was suggested was completely reasonable and logical. She certainly didn’t deserve to be jumped on the way she was for it and the reaction she got just goes to show how often the people exposing these things are attacked and made out to be the bad guys, imho.

            Thanks for being so thorough on this, Jenny. Hopefully the original authors will be able to get some recourse.

            October 26, 2015
    • Then you may as well pick up pitch forks and torches, done the white cap hoodies and go after every author out there. To even suggest a mass mob attack strickly based on association is no less a course of witch hunt. The gay fiction community is a small one, and every author in it has rubbed elbows with the next at some point or another. Just because one is discovered to be guilty of some criminal actions doesnt mean everyone else has. That’s like saying if my nieghbor steals an apple from the fruits stand then everyone in the neighborhood should get their hand chopped off. Its not only hateful– its stupid.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        Please do not compare an internet comment to a klan raid, lynch mob, or witch hunt, especially when those things still exist.

        October 24, 2015
        |Reply
  4. IMHO… Opal is one of the nicest, most generous writers on the planet.
    I can’t wrap my head around anyone trying to harm her.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • Candice Vetter
      Candice Vetter

      I agree. I know Opal well and she is not only a wonderfully nice and generous person, she is also one of the hardest working, and for someone else to rip her off and get rewarded for it is unjust. I hope the plagiarist is brought down hard.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
  5. zoegrl
    zoegrl

    Unbelievable! I don’t know why, but I’m always amazed when people do things like this. I guess it’s cuz it’s not something I’d do. Sad.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  6. Courtney
    Courtney

    Has her website been hacked? In the header picture on the homepage there’s a picture of (I assume) Laura Harner and a wolf. There’s text there now that I’m assuming is new. Over her picture it says “No — > > not me. But I liked it so much I’ll replace it with me!” And another arrow pointing to the wolf part that says “no, not me either.”

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • def
      def

      No, I looked at her website a few months back and that quote about the picture not being her was there then. I found it curious then.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
  7. Just so you know something good is coming from these posts, Jenny…I’m now looking into Opal Carew and buying Kidnapped. 🙂

    On an unrelated note: can you post your Patreon somewhere, like on the ‘About’ page or something? I think I found it once through a mention in the forum of one of your posts…but if it was in a central place that would make it a lot easier to donate!

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  8. Alyssa
    Alyssa

    This is just SO malicious. There’s no way to pretend she had any good intentions. I’ve never read a story I thought was perfect. Even books I adore, I think, “oh I wish it would’ve ended this way” “I didn’t like that scene” “this character could’ve been developed better” etc. etc. so there’s no way this woman found all these dozens of stories that were absolutely perfect except the gender of the protagonist. For her to take the EXACT stories, copy-paste, change some words and pronouns, and then SELL them for MONEY?! Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. I feel so horrible for all those authors who had their work stolen.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  9. Marilynn Britton
    Marilynn Britton

    The reason I never got into reading “romance” novels was that I read one and it was OK but when I got a second one and started reading it I thought it sounded very familiar. I got the first book and compared it to the second. Word for word they were exactly the same except for the names. I wish I could remember the books now but all I remember is that they were Harlequin Romances. Oh and with different titles and authors.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • Autumn Piper
      Autumn Piper

      I can only hope you’re not an author of any sort, since you don’t appear to put much thought into what you write/post. This is a blog post directed toward warning romance authors about someone who is making a career of stealing their work. So saying what you did is not only uninformed about the genre today, but extremely rude to those who’ll be reading the post and comments: authors of romance.

      I read probably 50 romance novels per year, have edited over 100 romance novels, and have written 11 romance novels under 2 different pen names. Never have any 2 of these romance novels had even a single page of similarity to compare with what was quoted above, let alone “word for word”.

      Harlequin did have a formula, one that worked very, very well. Many talented (and bestselling) authors have come from Harlequin, despite the fact that it (still) is touted as the industry’s “worst” case. The formula–although by no means “word for word”–did require certain lengths, archetypes, character arcs and of course, a happy ending. But it worked for their audience and made many people lots of money, the same way other formulas work. (Consider “I Love Lucy” episodes, James Bond movies, any crime-solving movie or book, mysteries, etc. Always a certain framework readers expect.)

      However, to patently assume (and yes, in this case at least someone here made an ass of themselves by that old adage) today’s romance novels are the same, to insinuate that it doesn’t matter if someone is out stealing authors’ hard-written work, really only serves one purpose: proving your ignorance.

      Do you automatically assume every children’s TV show on today is exactly the same as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, simply because you watched 2 episodes of Mr. Rogers and they were similar?)

      In the future, a bit of consideration should accompany your key strokes.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Marilynn Britton
        Marilynn Britton

        I never claimed to be a writer, just a reader, so maybe I didn’t phrase it well. My comment was on my experience with plagiarism and remarking that plagiarism could very well have the effect of turning off a reader to a genre as well as to certain pen names.

        Maybe it was just bad luck picking up two books, original and plagiarized as my first in a genre but the two books I read WERE word for word.

        I do have quite a few authors for friends and at least two of them have written romance novels. I am aware that there was and maybe still is a formula for Harlequin romance novels but word for word is plagiarism and is bad for the readers as well as the authors.

        The two books I read were extreme examples of plagiarism and I don’t know who the original author was but it turned me off to both as well as the genre for a while.

        I am not the one doing name calling. Ass. Ignorant. Looks like someone is a little sensitive, maybe guilty of something here.

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
  10. I notice that there appears to be a “Report Restricted Content” flag on the screenshot of the book page on the ARE site.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  11. Harper Rush
    Harper Rush

    I’m sorry, but what was done is stealing. It’s not retrofitted fanfiction, it’s taking an already published book, changing a name and a gender and submitting it as original work. You can dress it up, slap some lipstick on it and call it whatever you want, but it’s STILL THIEVERY. One author worked her butt off to produce a story, another author took that work, changed a few things around and said, “Oh look, I wrote something new,” when she didn’t. There was no permission, no, hey let’s share an idea. It’s just wrong, any way you hold it up to to the light and look at it.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  12. But also can we talk about what a terrible character name “Deuce” is? Where I come from it’s slang for shit and I can’t imagine any cool motorcycle club guy standing for it as a nickname.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • In other cultures “Deuce” is a synonym for “the devil”. It is also card player slang for the two (not necessarily “Number Two” which is British for a bowel movement) which is not the best card one can be dealt, especially if it is the 2 of Clubs.

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
      • Ajax, I always think the exact same thing when I see a character named Deuce. Did you grow up in California? To me, it’s “dropping a deuce.” NOT the most savory name for a hero. Maybe the Bad Guy. 🙂

        October 23, 2015
        |Reply
        • Layla, I grew up in Seattle, but most the west coast slang went all the way up the coast. And definitely a name for the bad guy. Or the sidekick everyone mocks!

          October 24, 2015
          |Reply
  13. This is obviously horrible and an outrage. I only know Laura Harner indirectly – I am the co-founder of a not-for-profit organization that she is a member of and our reviewers have reviewed many of her books. I do not really know her directly, but I have been told by someone that she has at times hired a ghostwriter for some of her books and the plagiary may have been committed by them without her knowledge.
    I have never understood ghostwriting myself (if you want to write a book, write your own damn book!) but I am wondering what the implications would be if that were true. Is it an excuse – a scapegoat? If it were true, how would she know? At the end of the day, her name is on the work and the responsibility is on her to take ownership of it – she is the one who has collected the royalties for something she did not write. It is a deplorable situation.
    I feel very badly for not only the authors plagiarized, but for the many other authors she has shared co-writing credit with. No matter the outcome, this will haunt her career and in turn cast negative light on all of her work – including books that were legitimately written with other authors who collaborated with her in good faith and have truly written fine work.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  14. Kathryn Ruffins
    Kathryn Ruffins

    What if you’re doing something with an authors advice and permission using thier characters? Would publishing that be a violation of some kind if they know and have input?

    Just want to make sure.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • The copyright holder would have to give explicit written permission which would be documented in the new work. “Character x, Y, & Z belong to author X, and appear here by permission.”

      October 23, 2015
      |Reply
    • HC Leigh
      HC Leigh

      Kathryn,
      That is allowed if you have explicit permission, credit the author in the book, and have a contract signed ahead of time.

      For example, I am writing a sports romance and asked a fellow author if I could put one of her baseball teams from her series in my book and give a character or two a cameo. She said yes and I will give her final say over how they are portrayed and take all precautions prior to publishing.

      That’s a whole different ball of wax from plagiarism.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
    • I used to write fanfiction. Two other writers liked an original character I created, and asked if they could borrow her for their own fanfics. I was fine with that, especially since they’d asked me. Both of them added “author’s notes” to their stories saying the character belonged to me and I’d given permission for them to use her. So no, I didn’t consider this a violation at all.

      And that was for a fanfic, something I did purely for the love without any intention of getting paid. If someone wanted to use a character from my published original fiction, the process would be a lot more formal. I’d have to check if my publisher would agree, and as others have said, permission would need to be given in writing.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
    • Everyone else already came up with the correct answer, but just to add. Definitely make sure there is something in writing that both parties have agreed upon/signed etc. Also this is somewhat of a standard business practice for large franchises to contract out characters for standalone series and such. Just make sure everything is above board on both ends as there is no need to get scammed and then get into trouble regarding plagiarism/copyright/trademark after the fact. Also while friends are cool and I love mine you should still always get something in writing so you have proof of what you both agreed upon should the worst come to pass. I don’t have any experience with such an arrangement, but I don’t know if it would be a good idea to employ a lawyer or legal expert or not; however, couldn’t hurt.

      October 24, 2015
      |Reply
  15. As an author, there is a lot of difference between fan fiction and plagiarism. If someone where to take a world I created and write something new and derivative, I would feel rather flattered as long as they identified me as the original source. And as far as the reference above to Shakespeare, the retelling of stories has been going on for a couple of thousand years.

    But that is completely different from taking my writing and publishing it, even on a fan fic site for free. Just changing the names or embellishing a bit doesn’t change the fact that you’ve stolen from me. If you started with my work and simply changed it instead of starting with a blank page, you’re a thief.

    October 23, 2015
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  16. Tammie
    Tammie

    I don’t believe the ghost writer theory because the whole freaking books are plagerized. I bought one of Laura Harners books but could never get into it because I kept feeling like I had already read it. Well now I know why. Because I had read Beckys original book. Duh. Makes sense now. I don’t consider these fan fic either because if you are goin to write a book and sell it it needs to be original work, not someone else’s. Cut the bullshit and stop feeling sorry for her. She is going to have to live with this. I don’t feel one bit bad for her. She did this to herself. Becky has filed copyrights on her book so I feel she does have legal grounds to go after her with gusto.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
    • ourtrumpcard
      ourtrumpcard

      But unfortunately the gusto will cost her quite a bit of money…even if she wins (after a few years of legal fees and time), she’ll be lucky to get back her legal fees much less anything else. That’s a real problem!

      October 31, 2015
      |Reply
  17. V.S. Morgan
    V.S. Morgan

    Before I became a published author, I wrote fanfiction. While I used existing characters the words, situations, plots, etc. were my own. Plagarism is wrong in any shape or form. While I enjoyed writing fanfiction and it honed my writing skills, I have retired and would never expect to profit from those stories. I want to be known for the work that is 100% mine.

    October 23, 2015
    |Reply
  18. Vicki
    Vicki

    I just found out about all of this today, and one of my friends is one of the plagiarized authors. This makes me ill. I know the time, effort, energy and love authors put into their books. For someone to so blatantly profit from others words is disgusting to me.

    October 24, 2015
    |Reply
  19. Remain Anon
    Remain Anon

    I am the significant other of one of the authors (let’s use the pseudonym PU) that has co-written with LH, and I can tell you, that PU is devastated at this turn of events. PU is a prolific reader, as well as a hard working author, along with a full time job and a family.

    I am actively involved in PU’s writing career, beta reading, editing etc etc, and if there had been any indication of this whatsoever, PU would have ran as fast as possible away from it.

    October 24, 2015
    |Reply
  20. Kitty
    Kitty

    How does this work for prompts for groups in goodreads? I know when people write prompts, they often have bits and pieces of their favorite of books that they loved. Would that be considered plagiarism? I am not talking about straight up taking something from another book but writing the prompt on what they would like to be included based off what they read that they liked the most. I wouldn’t consider this plagiarism but would authors?

    October 24, 2015
    |Reply
    • Aletheia
      Aletheia

      It honestly depends on what the prompt is, what it’s purpose is, etc.; I’m not familiar with those on Goodreads, so I’m going to discuss them in general, if that’s okay? For example, if the prompt wanted writers to reflect on a certain aspect of a certain book or series (such as “If you lived Lyra’s world (in the His Dark Materials series), what do you think your daemon would be?” or “What aspects of Lyra’s world do you find most advanced when compared to our own? What seems the most backwards?”), and writers quoted or referenced certain parts of the books that described different animals and what they meant as daemons, it wouldn’t be plagiarism. Readers would understand that the ideas were not their own and were coming from the series being questioned (although this rule only goes for informal writing, such as online posts – formal, academic writing requires full citations for any and all outside information and ideas to avoid plagiarism. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)

      But if it was closer to a creative writing prompt, there’s two ways it can go. Let’s say the prompt is closer to “You find yourself in Lyra’s world. What are your first thoughts? What form does your daemon take? What do you do?”, with the intention of readers writing a self-insert story to explore the world on their own. If they reference the elements of the book series (such as the concepts of daemons, the various differences between her world and ours, etc), without claiming the elements as their own or making a profit from it, then their response would be fanfiction. Fanfiction is legal and not considered plagiarism due to it being an inherently derivative work, based on original works by other authors (even in the case of alternate realities and “what if” stories that change core aspects of characters or worlds).

      However, if the writers decide to write a response by… say… taking a creature from another, unrelated series (say an original creature from… Harry Potter?) and use that as their daemon, including all of the unique characteristics of that species without giving credit to the author/creator of the creature to begin with, then that would be plagiarism because they would be passing the concept of the creature off as their own (doubly so if they use bits and pieces from the other series to describe the creature).

      October 27, 2015
      |Reply
      • Kitty
        Kitty

        Okay, thanks, that does make sense to me.

        October 29, 2015
        |Reply
        • Aletheia
          Aletheia

          You’re very welcome! 🙂

          October 30, 2015
          |Reply
  21. Alisa Mullen
    Alisa Mullen

    Jenny, you continue to amaze me with these posts. Another situation where find/replace button in MS Word is the best invention since something monumentally important. Ah…brain isn’t working – Let’s go buy a book – find/replace fifty – seventy common words with synonyms and hit publish.
    How she sleeps at night, I won’t ever know. It’s not fanfic people – she probably doesn’t even read the freaking story. She is a thief NOT a fan.

    October 24, 2015
    |Reply
  22. Hmn. The cover for her book SALVATION is nearly identical to the cover of the initial release of ANGELS PREY, which came out in early 2013 from Noble Romance. (A company which collapsed, so I self-published with new cover art.) I’m curious to read samples of her book, but it’s vanished from Amazon. Guess I’ll never know. I tried to post the two covers on here, but can’t find a way to paste photos…

    October 26, 2015
    |Reply
  23. Kitty
    Kitty

    Ok, since I am interested in getting into writing smut– haha… actually, let me rephrase that– Since I already write smut all sorts, I just want to learn how to write good smut so I was checking out your recommendation for that book you just posted. I stayed on Amazon to browse around a bit, and I’m noticing a trend in the books. There are now a bunch of bundle erotic books for sale, which isn’t an issue since I think a collection of short stories is a good idea when you’re trying to nail down what tickles you and maybe discover new interests. The problem came when I was checking out reviews. Ella Gottfried got a couple of reviews accusing her of plagiarism on her forbidden love box set.

    “Horrible horrible. Basically just stealing stories from decent authors and lumping poor quality copies together in order to scam Amazon’s new “pay per page read” Kindle Unlimited format. Don’t read these, don’t support plagiarism.”

    It seems particularly likely that this reviewer is correct seeing as Ms. Gottfried has put out about 25 books since July. Each book contains about 50-60 shorter books, and she doesn’t display a tendency for a specific niche like most authors would develop over that period of time aside from a theme for the “forbidden”. For Jenny and anyone who writes erotic romances, you might keep an eye on these books that are cropping up to make sure your own work isn’t being ‘borrowed’ by authors who want to churn out a bunch of unedited products to capitalize on the page count of books.

    October 27, 2015
    |Reply
  24. Tracy
    Tracy

    Is this kind of wide-scale plagiarism more prevalent in romance than in other genres? I write more towards fantasy so I’m not as familiar with it.

    October 29, 2015
    |Reply
  25. This sounds so much like the Rachel Ann Nunes plagiarism case – another plagiarist who stole a book from one genre with the expectation that there would be no crossover to the other.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if other books turn out to be plagiarized as well. I know some people are very prolific, but that obviously isn’t the case here. She’s stolen entire novels.

    I do enjoy how Harner is already wrapping herself up in the victim blanket – it isn’t her fault, people don’t understand the circumstances, don’t judge her, etc., etc. Do you know how refreshing it would be to have one of these thieves step up and take personal responsibility and admit to what they’ve done?

    October 29, 2015
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      She says she made “mistakes”…right. Borrowing some PLOT POINTS can be hard to avoid within some genres (wicked but hot Earl kidnaps lovely young maiden, witty Regency debutante takes London by storm, misfit teen turns out to have supernatural powers), but nobody rips off paragraph after paragraph of prose, word-for-word, without deliberate choice. When I’ve done theatre, I’ve found that the hardest things to memorize are straight prose works, because you can’t always tell when you’re paraphrasing. If it’s Shakespeare, etc., you have the rhythm and occasional rhyming couplets to keep you on text, because you can tell when the wrong word doesn’t fit the meter or the rhyme scheme.
      Oh no, this wasn’t a “mistake”–escept that she thought would never get caught.

      October 29, 2015
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        *except

        October 29, 2015
        |Reply
      • Seanna
        Seanna

        Following standard troupes in romance isn’t a problem, but I love to see how author’s make it their own.

        October 29, 2015
        |Reply
  26. Anon
    Anon

    This whole thing reminds me of the story sirens debacle A few years back .
    What ever happened to her anyway ?

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      She’s still on Twitter, but under her name (instead of The Story Siren, which has protected Tweets). She doesn’t blog anymore.

      Unless this is a completely different person with the same name as her.

      October 30, 2015
      |Reply
  27. […] There’s been a kerfluffle in the indie publishing world lately regarding one Laura Harner, whose extensive self-published catalog of erotic romance books includes plagiarized — and not very well disguised — versions of works from a mainstream romance author. Becky McGraw. To makes things more juicy, the books in question were changed from M/F romances to M/M ones. You can read about it in detail in Jenny Trout’s exhaustive posts here, and here. […]

    November 10, 2015
    |Reply
  28. zazzycat
    zazzycat

    Villify! Without exception! There is no excuse for plagarism – it is first, dishonest; and second, a case of lazy, unprofessional lack of research. Does the author not know of Roget’s Thesaurus?

    December 7, 2015
    |Reply
  29. Charlie
    Charlie

    Outrageous – not only should this individual be sued into oblivion, she should refund every single reader who bought ‘her’ books their money back.

    Lazy, deceitful, a-moral, fraudster! Unfortunately, there is no way to ban her from ever assuming the guise of novelist ever again. No doubt she’ll try again under a pseudonym. It leaves the taste of horse flem about my gums. Grrr! (Yes, waving angry fists in the air, too.)

    December 7, 2015
    |Reply
  30. Reader
    Reader

    A reader’s 2 cents.

    I read of this thru KJ Charles’ site. Isn’t this a case of ‘author pirating author’. Blooming sad. Reading is my life and I read a lot, and I mean a lot.

    A few years ago I purchased a book and a few months later I purchased another book only to realize except for name changes and grammatical errors, I was pretty much reading the same book. I complained to ARe and was refunded my money.

    The same author is now writing / publishing in Spanish -the same ripped off works? Who knows?

    Such a shame to have neither integrity nor self-respect.

    January 1, 2016
    |Reply
  31. […] pre-existing, M/M shortcuts. Edit: I realized after reading this that it is the book referenced in this post. I wouldn’t have read it if I remembered that it was plagiarized! The […]

    January 4, 2016
    |Reply
  32. […] work and published it under a different title. Apparently, Harner had done this before, stealing Becky McGraw’s novel My Kind of Trouble, switching genders, and calling it Coming Home Texas. For Carew, the news added […]

    June 5, 2016
    |Reply

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