Tag Archives: Pushcart Prize.

Thriller Author Allan Leverone: Why Plagiarize?

Welcome author Allan Leverone on today! 

He is a three-time Derringer Award finalist and a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction. He is the author of the thrillers, FINAL VECTOR (Medallion Press, 2011) and THE LONELY MILE (StoneHouse Ink, 2011), and the horror novella DARKNESS FALLS (Delirium Books, 2011).

His third thriller, a paranormal suspense novel titled PASKAGANKEE is coming soon from StoneGate Ink, and a second Delirium Books horror novella, titled HEARTLESS, will be released in January, 2012. Allan lives in Londonderry, NH with his wife of nearly thirty years, three children, one beautiful granddaughter and a cat who has used up eight lives. Learn more at www.allanleverone.com, on Facebook or on Twitter (@AllanLeverone).

Allan delves into the world of plagiarism in his article, a timely topic and more common than we think.

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By Allan Leverone

I’m an author. I’m also a writer, which might seem self-evident at first glance, although it really isn’t. If you’ve published work you’re hoping to convince people to read, you’re an author. If you’ve put words down on paper, you’re a writer.

It’s possible to be one without being the other; lots of people are. In most of those cases, people are writers without being authors, either by choice or because they haven’t found the right outlet for their work.

Unfortunately, though, a case recently in the news illustrates the opposite possibility—being an author without being a writer—perfectly. Maybe you read about it. Q.R. Markham, the pen name of debut author Quentin Rowan, was busted for plagiarizing entire passages, some of them several paragraphs in length, and inserting them into his novel, ASSASSIN OF SECRETS.

I’ve written about the subject once already, in my blog, A Thrill a Minute, where I made my feelings about plagiarism pretty clear, I think. It’s despicable, it’s wrong, it’s lazy. And it’s stealing. Plagiarizing someone else’s content is no different than reaching into their wallet and taking cash out of it, then sliding it into your own pocket with your own sticky fingers.

So I’m not going to rehash the subject here; what I really wanted to talk about today was the question that’s been bothering me since I read the Q.R. Markham story: Why plagiarize? Why take the risk of being exposed, as Quentin Rowan did, by stealing not just from one source, but from as many as thirteen separate sources?

Undoubtedly you can recall a kid in school who plagiarized material for a report or a research paper; hell, maybe you were that kid. But there’s a world of difference between a teenager trying to scrape out a passing grade in Civics class and a supposedly professional novelist having so little regard for his readers and the writer he’s stealing from that he’s willing to roll the dice and hope no one notices his thievery.

So, again, why? Is it laziness?

That doesn’t seem likely, especially for a fiction writer. True, almost every novelist has to do research on almost every book, but the amount of effort it would require to read through dozens of novels to find passages appropriate to the story, as Quentin Rowan seems to have done, must be far greater in total than the effort it would take to simply write the story.

Is it an inability to write well?

That seems the most likely possibility to me. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to construct a well-told tale, just as not everyone can run the hundred yard dash in ten seconds and not everyone can perform brain surgery. The aptitude is simply not there.

But how does someone with the inability to write at a high level get to the point where they’ve jumped through all the necessary hoops to acquire a literary agent, sell their book and work with an editor, all without being discovered? And more to the point, why? If you can’t write well, most of the time the interest in writing will not be there, don’t you think?

Is it for the name-recognition? To become famous?

That’s hard to imagine, because the percentage of fiction writers who rise above the odds to become household names is abysmally low. Even after the book is published, the chances of any single author becoming well-known because of his or her work are so slim as to be laughable. And besides, there are other methods of becoming famous that are much more likely to be successful than to write a novel. Marry a Kardashian, star in a stupid TV reality series, or some combination of the two; you get the idea.

Seriously, though, why? Maybe you have some ideas on the subject, because I quite simply cannot fathom it.

The worst part? The Q.R. Markham/Quentin Rowan case doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident. Allegations were made months ago about another case of plagiarism involving a novelist too lazy or too uninvolved or too untalented to write her own work. THE RAVEN’S BRIDE, written by Lenore Hart and published in 2011 by St. Martin’s Press, bears more than a passing resemblance—okay, is practically an exact copy in dozens of passages—to a 1956 novel titled THE VERY YOUNG MRS. POE, by Cothburn O’Neal, as related by novelist Jeremy Duns in his blog, The Debrief.

Ms Hart’s thievery seems to have been a little better disguised than Quentin Markham’s, and her material was stolen from a relatively obscure book published almost a half-century ago, but it seems patently obvious to me she stole work that didn’t belong to her. You can decide for yourself in the post and subsequent comments at The Debrief, if you’re so inclined.

Lenore Hart is no rookie, either, she’s “a well-established and well-respected novelist,” according to Duns. An Amazon search of her name reveals a half-dozen separate novels attributed to her, not including any she may have written under a pseudonym.

So why would she do it? Any ideas? Because I’m baffled.

And here’s the other question: How many other supposedly original books floating around out there are in fact nothing more than blatantly plagiarized rip-offs of other people’s work, perpetrated by lazy or talentless or just plain arrogant hacks?


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Write On Wednesdays! Linda Wisniewski “Stretches Herself” Through Memoir

Today I am excited to have Linda Wisniewski  talking about her memoir OFF KILTER, writing advice and her new jump into fiction.

Linda Wisniewski

We met up in June at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference where she presented a workshop on writing memoir. More recently we met at Saxby’s coffee shop in Doylestown, PA where I chatted with this lovely lady who also hails – like me –  from the Capital District Region of New York.

Linda writes for the Bucks County Women’s Journal and Bucks County Herald. She is regional representative of the International Womens Writing Guild and a board member of the Story Circle Network. She also teaches workshops on writing memoir. Linda’s memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage , was published in 2008 by Pearlsong Press.

Linda, thanks for sharing today! I was drawn to your book as I could painfully feel your disconnect with your mother.  But it was hopeful that in seeking  a connection with your mother all of your life you finally discovered one with her after her death.

How did you first know you wanted to become involved with writing?
I was a librarian and after my second child I started my own business of providing online market research mainly to pharmaceutical companies. From there I moved to doing freelance features and book reviews.

For everyone who's known the emotional loss and the surprising beauty of being fully who you are...

How did you get interested in writing memoir?
I took writing workshops and wrote personal essays – of which I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Then a teacher inspired me to turn my one personal essay into a memoir.  I began by writing different pieces of my memoir and then connecting them all together once I saw a flow.

In Off Kilter you talk about stretching yourself. What do you mean by that?
I have stretched myself to write in different genres. I’m writing my first novel now. Very different from memoir! I am also working with children for the first time vs. adults. I’m working with teens to help them discover their stories. This has been a year-long project working with 12-14 year old girls. I’m helping them look at their lives and discover what they want to do with their lives in moving forward from their past.

What was it like growing up in the insulated Polish town of Amsterdam, NY?
Growing up in Amsterdam was a bag of mixed messages. It was a very supportive community and you “knew where you belonged” but when you stepped outside there was prejudice.

Did you learn new things about yourself through writing your memoir?
I learned what’s important to me. I learned what I want to do with my life. Most importantly, I discovered what I wanted to leave behind and want I wanted to carry forward with me.

Do you feel your memoir has a message for others?
Yes, that you can look at your whole life and see the losses are a small part of it and realize the joy that was experienced.

Have you visited Poland?
I visited for the first time in 2010. I toured with an elder hostel which was a fascinating learning experience. Each morning we had a lecture on Poland and then an afternoon tour.

Did any new projects grow out of your Poland trip?
Actually, my new novel is a time travel tale about an ancestor from Poland called “Memoirs of The Queen of Poland.” One of my ancestors from the 20th century time travels to the 21st century because she prayed to the Black Madonna, falls and hits her head and wakes up in the 21st century.

What do you enjoy about teaching most in your memoir classes?
I am intrigued by the stories of others. Their fascinating details, trouble, and loss and how they have overcome tragedies and losses.

Writing Advice:
Write A LOT. Don’t be discouraged if first pieces aren’t published. Don’t take it personally. And just “tell your story.”

How are you involved in the local writing community?
I’ve had half a dozen flash fiction pieces published in various print and online publications. I’m currently in a writing critique in Princeton called Sharpening the Quill that is helping me craft my novel.

Visit Linda at:
www.lindawis.com

Or her blog:
http://lindawisniewski.blogspot.com/

Purchase Linda’s memoir here: Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, & Her Polish Heritage

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