June 19, 2018

Plagiarism

*This is an post from 2011 from my old blog, but the information is still good and I hope it may be some help to others, so I’ve included it in this blog.

Plagiarism. It’s an ugly word and an ever uglier act. I know some of you are aware that I was plagiarized a few years ago. I’ve yet to tell my side of things, and I’d like to do so now in hopes of informing other authors how to protect themselves. 

I received an email from a concerned reader asking me to check out an upcoming author’s excerpt on the author’s website. The reader said that she had not checked the excerpt side by side with my novella With Love, but she could swear just by reading it that it was very similar. I went to the site and checked out the excerpt and from just a quick glance it did seem familiar. More than the actual story, the flow and voice felt like mine. So, I sent off a note to my friend Kris and asked her opinion, then I pulled up my final copy of With Love. Before I got through the first paragraph of With Love, Kris had already emailed me back. She wrote only: Contact Samhain immediately because this IS your story. I read a few more lines and realized that it was indeed With Love. Only the names were changed with a few original sentences thrown in. The plagiarist didn’t even bother to change the color of the character’s clothes, only their names. It was quite shocking because it wasn’t even paraphrased. It was word for word. My words. And it was set to be published the next week.

I contacted my editor who sent an email off to Christina Brashear, the owner of Samhain. Crissy sent an email, to the publishing company, set to publish this story. She asked for a copy of the entire manuscript for comparison and offered a copy of With Love, so they might compare as well. Crissy then sent me, my editor and some of the office staff copies of the book from the other publisher asking us to dig in and see what we could find. I pulled up With Love in .pdf and the manuscript from the other author in .doc form and compared them side by side. I was amazed, with the exception of the names, the sex of one character and the addition of a few sentences here and there, the manuscript was nearly word for word With Love. Shortly after I received a phone call from Crissy asking me if I was seeing what she was seeing? We were both in shock at the blatant plagiarism as were the others comparing the two works with us.

The other publishing house pulled the story from their line-up immediately, but that wasn’t the end of it. They called Crissy later after talking to the other author. The other author alleged that I had stolen it from her. She told her publisher that she had posted it on a blog back in 2000. Crissy, without even talking to me, told the publisher, “That is not true. Because of what I know of the work and the author that is not going to fly.” She pointed out that the author had used my edited, final manuscript to copy. The other publishing house agreed and indicated that they would be going after the author for breach of contract and the money they had already put out for edits (though there weren’t any that I could see other than my editor’s) and cover art. 

When next Crissy and I talked, I told her I could prove it was my story, because I had all my notes from conception to completion as well as my rough drafts and the testimony of my critique partners who witnessed With Love from the beginning. Apparently, the other author didn’t realize that With Love, was a collaboration with Ally Blue and Willa Okati for the anthology Hearts From the Ashes. The very concept of the anthology and the individual stories were discussed in length by Ally, Willa, our editor Sasha, and myself. Crissy assured me she knew it was my work and would do whatever necessary to support me. I have to take a moment here and praise Crissy, not only for her faith in me, but also for her involvement with her authors. Had she not known me and my work as well, she would not have been able to support me so thoroughly. 

Nothing else came of the situation. The other publishing house was very cooperative and satisfied that I was indeed the author of the story.

Now all that said, I’d like to point out a few things and issue some advice to my fellow authors. Some good has definitely come out of the whole situation because it has been a learning experience and helped, not only myself, but those close to me be prepared should this happen again.  

Number one, and most importantly, keep all your notes, rough drafts and edits even after a manuscript is published. I did not need this, but it was very comforting knowing I had them. I know the plagiarist’s accusation against me was made in a panic, but she would have been in sad shape had she persisted because of the overwhelming evidence.  So, keep your notes, rough drafts and edits in a file where you know where they are. I deleted them all after the manuscript was published and had to scramble around looking through my back ups to find them. I now keep everything pertaining to a manuscript in one file after the manuscript is completed and back it up on a drive as well. This way should the need ever arise again, I have all the things to prove my case right at hand.

Number two, this is another function of a critique group that we all overlook. Not only can they provide character witness, they see your work from conception to publication. If you use a group on Yahoo or Google you also have group archives discussing ideas, brainstorming and critiquing at your disposal. My critique partners and I make a point to post every scene in our group. We also save copies of one another’s works and our critiques even after the manuscript is published. If you do not use a group, save your critiques and important emails pertaining to your work. Not only is it good evidence in a court case, but it’s very amusing to go back and see some of the harebrained ideas you discarded. It will give you a good chuckle. 

Number three, if your publisher does not register your copyrights, you need to do so yourself. Yes, it is true that a work is copyright protected from the moment you put words to paper (or screen), but without that registration you cannot go to court. And the sooner the registration is done the better. If you don’t file your copyright until you need it, you cannot sue for court costs. Not to mention, those certificates are neat to have as a sort of a final accomplishment; they make a nice THE END. As a side note, a lot of small presses do not register copyrights. It is left up to the author, so please make certain that your publisher registers the copyright.  Just saying they do is not enough. You need that piece of paper.

Number four, be good to your readers. Readers are so very important. If it hadn’t been for a faithful reader that book might have been published, and it would have caused a lot more problems for not only me but the two publishers involved. 


As for the emotional side of things, plagiarism hurts. I, as all the authors I know personally, give their everything to their work. With me it seems like every manuscript is an emotional ride. There is the excitement, of course, but there is also the worry of getting it right, the anger when things aren’t working, and the endless hours of research and pondering plot problems. Writing a book is an emotional rollercoasteroverall a very positive and wonderful feeling—but it’s a long journey. It’s very distressing to think someone would claim your hard work as their own and really has nothing to do with the loss of money. Although the thought of someone getting paid when you’ve been the one to do the job is not a nice one. I feel I’ve earned the right to claim credit for that work be it a fine piece of fiction or a complete failure. I cannot even describe the rage one has at being wronged and then being accused of wrong doing. It would have been easy to try and make the other party involved pay dearly, but at the end of the day, is it worth it? Should her family have to pay for her mistake? Her lack of judgment has probably cost her dearly if she held any dreams of being a published author because her name has been tarnished. It’s a big business but word gets around. I think this has been a bad experience for everyone one involved. In the end, I hope it’s also been a learning experience. If I can help others and impart some wisdom on how to handle the situation then it hasn’t been all bad.

June 01, 2018

Regency Restrictions

I love Regency romance and one day I will write a true Regency era romance, but I have become quite found of the freedom I have with Sci-Regency. I’ve talked before about how I ended up with the Sci-Regency because gay relationships were punishable by death at the time and I did not like the bittersweetness of death looming over my characters.  Though its always good to know history, sometimes it doesn’t make for the best reading especially where romance is concerned. 

History while extremely important to know—I am a firm believer in that saying about being doomed to repeat history if we don’t learn it—is not always glamorous.  Take the lack of air conditioning?  Can you imagine all those sweaty bodies packed into a ballroom?  Or how about the lack of electricity. I don’t know about you but losing electricity puts my family in a murderous rage. Well not really, but close enough, you certainly don’t want to be around any of us for more than a minute if we don’t have simple things like lights, cool air (we do live in Texas), and refrigerated food, not to mention computers, video games and TV. Oh and don’t for get...this is a BIG one: indoor plumbing! I think we can all agree on that one. Then there are all the medical advancements and transportation. But those things are even the hardest to remember.  No there are other things to consider, like social customs, word choice, and legalities (ie: women’s rights, property rights, things like freedom of speech that all of us Americans take for granted).  

Are you getting an idea why I haven’t written a true Regency and hopefully gaining respect for authors who are brave enough to tackle historical romance? 

In my Sci-Regency, I try to use some of the things we all love about the era, but I’m not a stickler. I definitely use my own liberties. It was never meant to be a true reflection of the Regency, but a dabbling, a taste, a modern version with technology. I pick and choose what to use and what not to.  The customs of my Sci-Regency and the social mandates are no where near as strict as they were in 1811. The things that could actually ruin a ladies reputation were insane by our standards. My gentlemen have some of that, but not nearly as strict. The lack of rights? Well, I certainly didn’t use that. My gentlemen can own property and are not in essence property themselves, but I did give them the restriction of age as they are not considered of age until twenty-five. Technology?  Well, my guys have everything from space travel, to horses and traditional carriages, to hover vehicles. It’s really too bad we can all do in life what I get to do in stories: pick the things we like. 


I don’t write true Regency romance I do love and respect it and I keep saying... “one day.”  If you have not read a true Regency romance, I urge you to do so. I have tons of recommendations for awesome authors, or check out my RWA chapter, The Beau Monde or for other historical genres go to Hearts Through History

April 19, 2018

Awesome Roll Recipe

I know I've been posting a lot of recipes lately and my apologies for that. I promise to get back to a variety of blog posts. I'm always on the look out for bread machine recipes and I found a really good one. Oh my golly goodness! I made these the other night and all I can say is, "wow!"  These are delicious.  Enjoy!!!

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls (in Bread Machine)


Ingredients


  • ¼ cup warm water temp between 80-90 degrees F
  • 1 cup milk temp between 80-90 degrees F
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 envelope dry active yeast

Method


Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed. If your bread machine suggests a different order then follow that order. *Ensure your liquids are the proper temperature by using a thermometer. If liquids are too hot they will kill your yeast. Set bread machine for the dough cycle. Once complete, remove dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle with a 1/2" thickness. Fold the dough in half and let rest for 15 minutes. Use a pizza cutter and cut into 18 squares. Place on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with a silpat mat) and bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. When you remove them from the oven brush the tops with butter to make them shine. 

Source

Must Have Mom.  


April 12, 2018

Chewy Coconut Cookies

I made these yesterday because I was out of chocolate chips and my youngest was dying for some cookies. They turned out really well.  Nice taste.  Like a butter cookie with a little extra.


Chewy Coconut Cookies


Ingredients


  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups flaked coconut

Method

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine sugars, butter, egg and vanilla.
2. Gradually blend in the flour, baking soda, and salt, then mix in the coconut. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. 
3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks. 

April 11, 2018

My Digital Art Journey

I’ve bought myself a pen tablet with the display—it’s like having my very on sketch screen—and I’m finding that it is a great way to let my brain rest from writing.  Not only that, but it seems to be helping my writing. It’s like one form of creativity boosts the the other.  I had never thought of it that way before.  I did realize that usually when a person is good in one art they often excel in other arts as well.  I started as an artist, ended up a dancer and now a writer.  

I no longer dance and yes I miss it, especially tap which was my preferred genre of dance, but I have started dabbling in art again. I’m determined to learn how to do digital art.  And oddly, just getting into that has made be drag out my sketchbooks and my watercolors.  I’m also thinking about buying some oils and canvas. But I digress.  I am going to learn how to do art on the computer. So far so good, but it’s definitely different.  

Shading and coloring is both easier and harder on the computer.  Harder because the colors don’t bleed like on paper and smudging is not as natural...  But if you mess up you just press undo, go to your last saved, or delete the layer. 

Sketching? umm... yeah...  LOL  It takes getting used to. With a rubber nib on the stylus you get more drag, like a real pencil, but I have to admit I still prefer good ole paper and graphite. And lets face it kneaded erasers have always been fun to play with. 

So I’m dabbling again and I couldn’t be happier.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is, you should always do a little something for you.  Don’t get so bogged down in work that you forget to have fun.  Having fun feeds the muse!  And a happy muse gives you really good material!  And for those of you who aren’t writers?  It’s good for you too.  I encourage you to find something just for you and have fun with it.


I’ve decided to share some of my failures and triumphs on my digital art journey on my tumbler account for those of you who are interested. You can find it here: JL's Tumbler Blog along with my first post.  My digital Bob Ross painting :)

March 01, 2018

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I've been craving this lately. It is sooo good. And as far as sweets and cakes go, it's not the worse for you.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

CAKE BATTER:
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 teaspoons, divided
⅔ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
¼ cup walnuts
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
¾ cup lowfat buttermilk
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg


TOPPING:
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup chopped walnuts
a pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Rinse the blueberries. Let the berries air-dry or blot with a paper towel. In a separate bowl, add 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, salt & sugar; mix. Combine egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix. Add berries and walnuts until distributed throughout.

In medium bowl whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, oats, brown sugar, & cinnamon. Cut in butter using two forks, a pastry blender, or your fingers. Mix until combined and crumbly. Add walnuts and mix. Sprinkle topping on batter. 

Bake 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.


February 21, 2018

Whacky Research

My critique partners and I have a running joke that the FBI has us on a watch list because of the things we lookup in the name of research.  I certainly hope that isn’t the case but I have to admit I’ve looked up some pretty strange things for research.  Here are just a few.


The history of carrier pigeons.  I did a M/F stories and needed a pigeon.  I needed to know how far back in time they were used. Just so happens? Quite awhile back  LOL

In the same book I needed to know the ancient language in Greece.  It’s called Koine, or at least it was in the time period I needed.

I’ve looked up Werewolf lore.  Which probably doesn’t surprise anyone.

Prince Alberts  The piercing not the man. <blink blink> Yup, you read that right 😜 

Molotov Cocktails.  Uh huh, see why I think the FBI has me on a list?

Flying helicopters in bad weather.  You can do it, but they advise against it.

Equine encephalitis.  Nasty virus!  Get your horses vaccinated, people. 

Regency era townhouses.  Very interesting.  Check out my Sci-Regency Pinterest board.

The Mexican drug cartel.  <whispers> "FBI watch list."

Southern sayings. I know several of them. My family is a font of information in this era, but there were a couple I’d never heard. For the life of my I just don’t understand how anything could taste so good you’d slap your granny. I mean really! And what exactly does Katie bar the door mean?  Is it like “Hey, Katie!  Bar that door!” Or is there a bar called a Katie Bar?  I don’t know, but if you want a good laugh check these out. 

Baby Names.  The FBI probably thinks I have about 25 children LOL

Mexican swear words.  I actually know a few of these too 😏  but I learned a lot more by looking them up.


Regency Era Dances. Surprisingly the waltz we know now is not the waltz they did. 

February 12, 2018

My Favorite Places on the Web

Everyone has their favorite places on the internet and I thought I’d share some of mine. 

The Weather Channel  I’m a weather junky.  I live in Texas an if you know anything about North Central Texas you probably realize we have very iffy weather in the spring.  Hail, thunderstorms, tornados and high winds. I somehow ended up being dubbed as “the weather girl” I guess because I’m always at home writing, so everyone expects me to keep an eye out on the weather.  I have a weather radio, and several apps that help forecast weather too.  I really don’t mind playing weather girl because I love storms.  I love to see them build and I love watching them. There is no finer writing weather than a stormy afternoon. Hail seems to be the biggest concern from my family.  Well all except my MIL, she doesn’t want hail but the word tornado terrifies her.  Me? Not so much. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve yet to be in one. 

Harlequin  I know I’ve said before I’m a Harlequin fan.  I always check out the new releases and it’s nice because I can buy epubs of Harlequins the month before they release to the public.

Pandora  I like to occasionally listen to music when I write and I can’t listen to words.  I end up singing, so Pandora is a great place to find instrumental music. 

The Quizzing Glass Blog I’m a member of The Beau Monde RWA group and AS I’ve stated before Regency romance is my absolute favorite genre.  The is a great place to find new releases. 

Nancy Mayer’s page Nancy is our resident researcher in The Beau Monde.  If you need to know something on the Regency, Nancy’s page is your first stop.

Amazon Because who doesn’t love the evil empire?


Thesaurus  I think this one speaks for itself ☺ 

Allrecipes Again, this one speaks for itself.

Desktop Nexus  I love changing the desktop pics on my laptop.  

The Pet Poison Hotline This is awesome when picking out flowers in spring.  I highly recommend it if you have a pain in the butt like Hiccup ( and Astrid) who eat things they shouldn’t. 


My Aquarium Club  For all your fish questions.

February 01, 2018

7 Things About Editing

I just finished my first round edits for the rerelease of My Fair Captain, and as some of you may know it’s been awhile. It felt great to get back to it after so long. It reminded me of all the things I like and dislike about the editing process, so I thought I'd share some of them with you.  


1) A great editor is worth their weight in gold. Sadly, as writers we don't usually have the option of choosing our editors. I’ve worked with a few and can honestly say that not all editors are created equal, but this time around I hit the jackpot. 😁 Lets face it, our manuscripts are very precious to us and we don’t like the idea of someone tearing them apart. In some cases, it can feel as though they are tearing you apart. So before you go asking for a new editor, you have to separate yourself from your work. The goal is to make it better and you want someone who shares this goal. Talking to the editor and explaining your problems is always the first step. Communication is key. 

2) If ever you need a reminder of how far you’ve come, go back and read your older works. I have really improved as a writer. Not to sound conceited—mind you, I’m not comparing myself to anyone but myself–but WOW!  It’s very rewarding to look back at work you thought was top of the line and realize you can improve it. Actually improving it is very satisfying.

3) Know your grammar. I seem to be remembering all the things I forgot about high school and college grammar. I know I'm showing my age but look up Schoolhouse Rock. Conjunctions are your friends. Another thing I noticed while going back over My Fair Captain is a lot of short choppy sentences and short choppy paragraphs. I suspect short sentences are a beginning author mistake. So to all you newbies out there, brush up on your grammar. Don't be afraid of commas and go over sentence structure. I recommend, Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference. I bought this some years ago and really liked how quick and easy it was to look things up. My new editor also recommended it to me.

4) Breathing new life into an old work is exhilarating, so never let fear hold you back.  However, there is such a thing as overdoing and revising the life out of something.  So if you start getting frustrated and changing the same sentences over and over, it’s time to move on. This is where trusting a good editor comes into play.

5) Fixing plot issues is fun!  I love the challenge when an editor says this doesn’t work. Trying to figure out what’s missing is nearly as fun as the initial writing. Don’t let it frustrate you because where there is a will there is a way. Sometimes the best plan of action is to step back and let the ideas gel. You'll be surprised at how many start coming to you.

6) Don’t be afraid to cut.  I know it’s scary, but sometimes cutting stuff is truly the best thing for the story. I tend to be long winded, so cutting to me in not a huge ordeal, but I know some writers fret about it.  Remember the goal is to make the story stronger and to make it flow better. You want to keep the reader reading not make the reader slog though a page and a half of stuff that isn’t really important to the story or the character development. If they have to slog, they are likely to stop reading altogether.  


7) It’s not good to edit before writing. It takes a different skill set and is difficult to shift focus. If you have to write after you edit, you should take a break first. Let your mind get in to that creative mode. 

January 04, 2018

I don't read gay romance

I know, I know that sounds like a strange confession for a gay romance author, but it’s true. Obviously, I have no issue with gay romance, since I love writing it, but other than critiquing for my critique partners, I don’t generally read it.

Most of my pleasure reading is done in the historical romance genre. I love historical romance. My favorite is Regency, followed by Victorian, Medieval, and Scottish romance. I also love time travel romance. I do on the rare occasion read romantic suspense and I have a weakness for the old serial romances (aka Harlequin).

So, why don’t I read historical gay romance, you ask?

Well, I feel like it’s bittersweet. I’m sure there is some really wonderful historical gay romance out there. In fact, I know there is. I actually read a western lesbian romance set in the 1800’s for a contest once and it was outstanding, but as a general rule gay romance and history just don’t mix well for me. In my opinion, they can never truly have a happily ever after with the threat of being put to death held over their heads. Men (and women too) have lived under this threat for centuries. Sadly, it’s still an issue today and not just in third world countries. I think it’s a little too close to reality for me and I don’t want reality when I read or watch TV. I want the fantasy. I want pure escapism. I want a happily ever after.

Side note: I went on a rampage after watching Seven and was in a really bad mood for hours afterward. It's the worst movie ever! If like me, you demand a happily ever after, do NOT watch that movie. I repeat do NOT watch it. And no, I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain. My friends were nice enough to warn me.

Oddly, enough I rarely read paranormal romance either and when I do write male/female romance I tend to write paranormal. But as I said I absolutely adore historical romance. I keep saying one day I’ll write a historical romance, but as you can see that is yet to happen. I am a wee bit intimidated by historical accuracy. Though in trust I don’t look for accuracy in my historical romance unless it’s something that is completely off the wall. I don’t mind spunky heroines or heroines in roles they’d have been shunned for in real life. I’m also not going to complain about lack of hygiene in medieval romance. It’s perfectly fine if the author does not include those true to life details.

Over all, I guess it’s safe to say that my favorite genres to read in are vastly different from my favorite genres to write in. But I am often asked for recommendations in gay romance, so let me see if I can take a stab at it.



J.L.’s Recommended Reads for Gay romance:  

(Yes, I’m proud to say, most are my critique partners)


Jet Mykles: I love Jet’s stuff whether gay romance or straight romance. Jet always has a happily ever after and leaves me with a smile on my face.  

Jade Buchanan: Jade always makes me laugh.

Kimberly Gardner: I think of all my CP’s Kimber and I write the most alike. 

Willa Okati:  Willa was the very first gay romance I read, back before I started writing gay romance  when I did read it.  I gobbled up every gay romance Willa put out  and I’m happy to say that I still really enjoy her books.

Ally Blue: I found Ally’s stuff when I was first published and asked to give a quote for her book.  I fell in love with her writing. She has recently started writing horror, another genre I don’t usually read, and I have to say I love it.  It’s every bit as good as her gay romance.

Maura Anderson: I’m most familiar with her Male/ Female romance, but Maura does write M/M as well and she super talented.  (Note to Maura.  “I need those Scottish contemporary romances!!!)

Brenda Bryce: Brenda was my very first critique partner and I adore her writing. She writes mostly straight romance but she has a few really awesome gay romances as well.

Wendy Qualls: Wendy isn’t a critique partner, but I read Wendy’s debut book for a quote as a favor to my agent and I really enjoyed it.  

Laura Baumbach: Again, Laura isn’t a critique partner but she is a friend and one of the first gay romance writers I read. I feel safe recommending her books because Laura is a wonder writer.

KA Mitchell: Same as above.  KA is not only a sweetie but super talented.

James Buchanan: James write very steamy gay romance. A lot of BDSM.  In fact, there aren’t many, if any, who do BDSM better in my opinion. 

Kris Jacen: Kris is a dear friend, my beta reader/critique partner, and my MLR Press editor. She's new to writing, but she's really showing a knack for it. Her debut novel is great. 

Faye Larson: Faye has a beautiful writing voice and is very witty. I really enjoy her stories.


Now if you want historical romance recommendations, I literally have hundreds of them 😀