Smugglers Stash

Smugglers’ Stash & News

Hello everyone and HAPPY SUNDAY! Thea here, extremely excited to report that she has completed her thesis, has defended it, and is now gradually returning back to sanity.

Lots of meat to cover, so let’s get down to business, shall we?

On The Story Siren (Or, Why Plagiarism is A BIG Deal and NOT Cool):

Last week, the internet exploded. Ok, maybe that’s dramatic. Let us rephrase: last week, the book blogging world exploded.

It turns out that Kristi Diehm, The Story Siren, had blatantly and generously lifted a series of posts (on blogging best practices and site optimization) from fashion blogs Beautifully Invisible, Grit & Glamour, Stylish Thought and Made to Travel.

In Grit & Glamour‘s original post, the blogger makes a clear-cut, undeniable case demonstrating that The Story Siren had stolen content, minimally repurposed it, and then passed it off as her own. Using screenshots, IP addresses and other impressive analytics tracking, these bloggers not only show how they discovered Kristi’s plagiarism, but they also share tips on how to find out if your own work is plagiarized and what steps to take in the future should you, like them, find yourself the victim of intellectual theft. (These are really, really good posts, people. If you haven’t read them, we highly recommend you check them out.)

We think you’ll agree that the evidence is unassailable.

When this news hit the book blog world earlier this week (thanks to blogger Katiebabs’ eagle-eye spotting of an anonymous comment left on a post on plagiarism), a flurry of posts and comments ensued. Tweets from bloggers of all book genres as well as subsequent posts from heavyweights Dear Author and Smart Bitches drew the book blogosphere’s attention to situation.

This then prompted The Story Siren to issue the following vague, halfassed “apology” in a post titled ‘An Explanation and an Apology’, which begins with the two lines:

I owe you an explanation and an apology.

Please don’t take my silence on this issue until now as an admission to anything.

Not the best way to start off an apology – especially not to the bloggers from whom Kristi had unassailably violated and plagiarized. The ‘apology’ goes on to say:

While my actions were not deliberate, I don’t want to give you any excuses. In a way I feel as though it won’t matter what I say at this point. It seems that the verdict has been decided. I was accused of doing something that I am vehemently against, and intentionally or not, I know that there will be consequences.

Kristi denies that her plagiarism was intentional. This is a HUGE problem. The fact that she ripped off other peoples’ work and tried to pass it off as her own, the fact that she went back and deleted her plagiarized posts (as well as her own post on plagiarism and its seriousness, a cached version of which you can find online here) – this is all a REALLY big deal. And it makes us mad.

Why is this a big deal? It’s disheartening because we are bloggers and our writing is our trade. More than that, this is a big deal because Kristi is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – YA bloggers with followers that number in the thousands. Many of those followers have reacted in extremely worrisome ways which is what prompted us to put in our two-cents in today’s stash. In an excellent post, AnimeJune brilliantly examines some of those reactions (e.g. “Oh, well, she just copied Blog Tips and Tricks – none of those are original to begin with”) and delves into why they are uninformed and dangerous to our community of writers.

It’s incredibly disappointing to see that many bloggers and readers are vilifying the victims of plagiarism. Let us be clear: The Story Siren is NOT the victim in this debacle. The victims are authors from whose work Kristi egregiously, callously plagiarized. We are dismayed and appalled to read the hate-mail that the VICTIMS have been receiving (examples of which the Smart Bitches have posted recently posted).

This is a big deal because by avoiding confronting the truth of what happened The Story Siren has made it easier for the reactions we have seen to be voiced (although obviously we can’t blame Kristi for the behaviour of her followers/fans). After all, Kristi has yet to *actually* apologize to the people from whom she has stolen. (On that note, it’s crass and potentially litigious, especially since The Story Siren actually indirectly made money on stealing other peoples’ work, in the form of sold web advertising.) She has yet to admit her explicit guilt and the action of plagiarism. In both of Kristi’s ‘apology’ posts, she apologizes in earnest to her readers but clings to the defense of ignorance. To this, we cite Radiant Shadows’ excellent, concise take on the matter, and will quote Kristi’s own words (from her now conveniently deleted post on the seriousness of plagiarism):

There is no excuse… “I didn’t know…. I didn’t mean to… I did it subconsciously.” No, you didn’t. You did know and you did mean to.

We take this very seriously. As a community that is passionate about the written word in all of its forms, we hope that you do, too.

This Week on The Book Smugglers:

First up, later today we are happy to be a spot on Michelle Harrison’s blog tour celebrating the release of her novel Unrest (with a giveaway opportunity).

On Monday, Ana opens up the week with a review of YA novel A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle.

Tuesday, Thea reviews one of her most highly anticipated books of the year: Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

Wednesday, Ana reviews Nalo Hopkinson’s YA fantasy novel The Chaos. Later in the day, Thea reviews The Silence by Michelle Sagara West.

On Thursday, we have N.K. Jemisin, one of our favorite authors, over for a guest post to celebrate the release of her new book! Later in the day, we have a joint review up for The Killing Moon, another one of our most highly anticipated novels of the year.

Friday, we close out the week with Thea’s highly anticipated review of The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi – with a possible interview with the author to follow.

It’s a hugely busy week, and we hope you enjoy the lineup! Until tomorrow, we remain…


~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers

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  • Andrea K Host
    April 29, 2012 at 1:46 am

    The victim-blaming hate mail is the part which bothers me the most. Not just that it was sent, but that the nature of the apology opens the way for it. An apology which specifically states a non-admission of fault, and dances around what was done and why, is one which paints a grey area into which hate mail can enter. A forthright and clear apology would have minimised any negative backlash toward the actual victims. And the shuffle of blame then in turn loses the one apologising a great deal of sympathy from those who would otherwise accept the apology and move on.

    A sad mess all around.

  • Ana
    April 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Andrea, YES EXACTLY THIS. Perfectly put.

  • Meghan
    April 29, 2012 at 2:17 am

    I’ve been simply appalled at the entire debacle around this – people are behaving frustratingly. It makes me sad that so many people are leaping to the defense of her simply because she’s popular and well-liked (at least, that’s the only reason I see for it). That doesn’t change the situation and condoning plagiarism is NOT okay.

    Congratulations on finishing your thesis, Thea! Looking forward to your joint review of The Killing Moon!

  • Tiah B
    April 29, 2012 at 2:30 am

    The “apology” made it worse for me. I think less of her because of what she did and even more so for the way she is handling it. Enough of this mess, let’s talk about how that picture of the Hulk and The Avengers is to die for.

  • Mary-Sweet Bookshelf
    April 29, 2012 at 2:39 am

    I’ve not commented on this whole plagiarism situation yet and I finally feel like your post is a safe place to do so. It is embarrassing. Book bloggers are being laughed at around the internet because of crass behaviour defending The Story Siren. I feel so sad for the victims to be receiving such hate mail. They don’t deserve it. It is making our community look juvenile, unpolished, ignorant, and that we think theft is OK. I keep shaking my head at this whole situation. I’m afraid that the book blogging community doesn’t truly understand what plagiarism is. There is no grey area. Not to mention that the evidence is staggering. It’s really sad and The Story Siren is going on like nothing happened. Something did happen and it was big. We all need to take a minute to think about this and where we stand. Not to mention what we’re going to do about it.

    Congrats on finishing your thesis!

  • Marg
    April 29, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I have just put up my post, not about the plagiarism as such, but the appalling behaviour that went on after the whole thing was revealed. Words like appalling and horrified are used liberally!

  • Nymeth
    April 29, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Eep. I’ve been away from the computer for a while, so this is the first time I hear about this. I completely agree with this post, and also find it worrisome that the focus of the discussion is shifting away from the actual issue of plagiarism.

    Congratulations on graduating, Thea! And I’m very excited to read your reviews of the new N.K. Jemisin and Bacigalupi.

  • flashywash2
    April 29, 2012 at 5:22 am

  • Anne M Leone
    April 29, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Thanks, as always, for a concise and thoughtful round-up of what’s going on in the book blogging world.

    And congratulations, Thea! What a huge accomplishment! Hope you’re celebrating in ways other than blogging this week! 😉

  • Karen Mahoney
    April 29, 2012 at 5:48 am

    Thea, a big congrats on completing and successfully defending your thesis! 🙂 *high five*


  • azteclady
    April 29, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Congrats on defending your thesis successfully! *confetti*

    On plagiarism: I’m not sure I’m not blaming TSS for her fangirls cruelty in blaming the victims. Between her original silence, her non-apologies claiming ignorance and making it all about *her*–and then continuing NOT to post something in her own blog telling all those same fangirlies to stop blaming the victims of her own (TSS’s) wrongdoing…

    Yeah, I don’t think she gets scot-free on this one either.

    Just as there is lying by omission, here there is blaming (of her victims) in her silence.

  • Karen Knows Best
    April 29, 2012 at 6:17 am

    […] again (on 04/29): via The Book Smugglers, this excellent post at Radiant […]

  • KT Grant
    April 29, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Victim hating emails being sent is sickening. No little demon on a shoulder forced anyone to copy and paste or steal another person’s work. The person themselves made a calculated and intentional action. Putting the blame on others, especially the victims, is horrid.

  • kara-karina
    April 29, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Aww, Thea, congrats! Such a great occassion!!! I’m looking forward to your reviews of Chaos and The Killing moon as I’m planning to read both of these books too 😉

  • AnimeJune
    April 29, 2012 at 7:30 am

    CONGRATS ON YOUR THESIS! Whoo! I owe you a celebratory drink at Book Expo!

    As for the plagiarism, what makes it worse is that I’m guessing a lot of her super fans are really young, not to mention impressionable, and THIS is the message they will be taking away about plagiarism and writing. This sort of “everything is free on the internet” and “the number of readers/followers you have is more important than what you write.”

  • heather
    April 29, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Congrats on finishing your thesis, Thea! 🙂

    I’ve been following the plagerism debacle, and I’m astounded by how many people are okay with what’s happened. So what if the original posts were “how-to’s”? They were still plagerized. It is not okay – anybody who knows anything about writing is keenly aware of this. And the Story Siren’s half-assed apologies claiming ignorance? It’s absurd anyone would have accepted them as valid, especially in light of all the proof laid out. But what has me the most disgusted of all is the hate mail and victim blaming. All these people championing Kristi for “unfairly” being bullied are only showing what bullies they are.

    Avengers! What a picture. Only a week to go now!

  • Kristen
    April 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Fantastic summary of the recent plagiarism issue.The hate mail the victims have received is just tragic.

    Congratulations on completing your thesis, Thea! That is great!

  • Samantha
    April 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Congrats on finishing and defending your thesis!!!

  • Estara
    April 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Congratulations on thesis defence, Thea! Also yay for the review of Silence. I really liked the three chapter excerpt MSW put up on her pretty new website, even though I’m not usually into current ya. But I’ll try anything by her at least once.

  • MarieC
    April 29, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Congrats on finishing your thesis, Thea!

  • Li
    April 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Congrats Thea, and I love the Avengers pic!

    The whole plagiarism thing… shocking and a bit sad all round, both the actual plagiarism and the aftermath.

  • Ashleigh
    April 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I made my own post about the whole Story Siren thing and I can’t even anymore. Her “apologies” are fauxpologies and both she and the fans who are attacking her victims disgust me. The two of you remain some of the most intelligent, fantastic bloggers I know.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to Thea’s review of Silence. I picked it up at the bookstore yesterday and I have high hopes for it.

    With all this hype for Insurgent and the book finally coming out this week, I’m scared I’ll have to sign off the Internet for a few days! I didn’t like the first book and hearing INSURGENTINSURGENTINSURGENT everywhere I go has been getting to me. Once my Goodreads feed explodes with people reading it like it did when Cassandra Clare’s last book came out, I’ll need some time away. (…Nah, I can’t give up my Internet over that. I’ll be a big girl and deal with it.)

  • Thea
    April 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks so much everyone for your congrats!!!! I cannot tell you what a freakin’ RELIEF it is to be done with my thesis!

    Regarding the plagiarism, Ana and I couldn’t agree more with everyone here – it’s saddening, infuriating, and just bad for the book blogging community at large.

  • Celine
    April 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Congratulations on finishing your thesis, Thea. LET THE RELAXITIMES COMMENCE!!!!

  • JL
    April 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Congrats on the successful thesis defence! That is a huge accomplishment! I hope you celebrated in style.

  • jenn aka the picky girl
    April 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Congrats on the thesis! Such a huge accomplishment.

    As for the other, had it been me and I had known about the hate mail, etcetera, I think I would have commented on it on the blog. As someone mentioned above, the apology leaves gray areas, and that leaves the possibility open to her loyal followers to think that it didn’t really happen. But knowing (and how can she not) of the bullying going on in her name – though of course she did not incite it – and not doing anything about it is appalling to me. She does have influence, and it certainly hasn’t been used correctly in this instance.

    Also, as an English instructor, I am disturbed by the apparent lack of understanding as to what constitutes plagiarism. Yes, my students still have difficulty with it, but most genuinely know when they’ve done something wrong. As writers, we need to be very conscious of this. Of course we influence one another, but we need to protect our words and other bloggers’ words.

  • Ashley
    April 30, 2012 at 2:05 am

    The thing that annoys me about the Story Siren incident is that Kristi seemed to try to sweep it under the rug so much. Yes she made like two halfass “apologies” (which were hardly that), but she didn’t even explain what was going on. It’s like she wanted to address what happened to clear her name (which failed) but not make all the details known.

    When I first saw her post I was just like “…what?” and I had to use Google to get more information. That’s just stupid.

    And on top of that, what she actually did was quite obviously wrong.

    It’s disgusting how people are bashing the true victims and standing behind Kristi. If they want to continue to support her and forgive her, that’s fine and that’s their business. But people do need to acknowledge that she did something wrong and she is not by any means a victim. She brought this all on herself. The real victims didn’t rush to out her or bash her or slander her name. They respectfully kept her identity confidential until a completely different blogger decided to out Kristi.

  • Ann
    April 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Perhaps you’ve seen this already, but I really liked these thoughts on the plagiarism issue:

    (found the link through Original Content)

    And many congrats to Thea!!!

  • Howard Sherman
    April 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Committing digital plagiarism is an insane undertaking in this day and age with digital footprints so easy to trace back to the perpetrator. I suspect The Story Siren is still processing the gravity of her infraction and the repercussions she will feel in the weeks and months ahead.

  • Jessica
    May 1, 2012 at 7:26 am

    This is a terrific summary and opinion piece on the plagiarism scandal. Thank you!

    And… most important… CONGRATULATIONS THEA!!!!!

  • Megan no h
    May 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Big time congrats on your thesis!

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