August 20, 2011

My Moral Dilemma

I started book blogging in March of this year and so far it has been an amazing experience. For the most part it has been a lot fun. Before I started my blog, I became obsessed with reading and writing reviews on goodreads. After doing this for a long period of time, I then decided that I would start up my own blog. I can honestly say that this has been by far my favorite hobby. I have grown to love many fun and fabulous Indie authors and I have met some amazing bloggers that I would consider my friends. Through these bloggers and authors, I have also stumbled across a mountain of amazing books to read and I can’t read them fast enough. I no longer read books that I think are just OK. If I’m not “feeling” the book, then I just don’t finish it. There are just way too many fabulous books to spend those precious hours reading.

But then I have had some horrible and heartbreaking experiences. A short time ago, I was contacted by another blogger who told me that one of my reviews had been plagiarized. I confirmed the plagiarism, but my first thoughts were that it was some stupid teen who wanted to copy my review because they were too lazy to read or review the book and they wanted to use other bloggers’ reviews to gain a history in their own blog to get free books. But after doing some major research, I found that this person was actually a Kindergarten teacher. This upset me even more when I found this out. I felt violated. My oldest son is now in first grade and my youngest will start kindergarten next year. So the thought that a teacher who is stealing other’s hard work (claiming it as her own) is also out there influencing young minds really bugs me. Apparently, she is still able to sleep at night knowing that she stole other’s hard work. To me, she obviously doesn’t have the proper morals to be a teacher.

And now I have a new dilemma! As you can tell, morals are important to me. So, there is this book that I received to review for an Indie author that was absolutely fabulous! It was my first favorite Indie book as a book blogger, and I have been anxiously waiting to read her next book. I loved her book so much I have been pimping it out to many others. So, obviously, I was VERY passionate about her book. I even referred to the main character in her book as my new BFF. Everyone else I knew who read her book loved it as well.

Well, about 2 months ago I was having a really hard time getting a hold of her. I knew that the next book in her series should be released shortly and I also wanted to include her in my big birthday giveaway. When I first told her about the giveaway she was super excited. She had all these amazing ideas of what she wanted to include in the giveaway but after that she just disappeared off of the face of the earth. She wasn’t returning any of my emails or tweets. I then noticed that she wasn’t tweeting at all and she hadn’t posted anything on her blog. At that point I removed her from my giveaway. I later received a Direct Message on twitter from her telling me that she had just delivered twins and that her babies were still in ICU. I then reassured her not to worry, that I had already removed her from my giveaway and told her to take care of herself and her twins.

But I have never heard from her since. For the last month I started to get really worried about her. I was trying really hard to get ahold of her to see how she and her babies were doing and I got no reply. I then thought that maybe she purposely separated herself from the outside world and was taking care of her family. So I then decided to get in contact with a blogger I knew who worked with her quite often. My blogger friend provided an article about this author and I was completely shocked! I am still having a hard time believing it is true. But after doing some extensive research and with the help a blogger friend, I found out that the articles are truly about this author, and the story is horrifying to me.

This author is currently in prison and has been charged with felony theft for a craigslist rental scam that’s hit at least 22 victims, the majority of which were military families. She would take a deposit and the first month’s rent that ranged anywhere from $400 to $2200 per victim. The renter would then show up to the property with all his or her belongings to discover that the property was already occupied.

So here is my moral dilemma. Do I remove my reviews from my blog and from anywhere else they are posted? Morally, I know and have always known the right answer. But the devil inside me took over for a while and, after re-reading my review and pondering how much I like the book, I avoided my moral obligation. I kept telling myself, “I still feel the same about the book, no matter who the author is or what she’s done!” And it was especially easy to tell myself it was no big deal because with any author or book I read, I might love the author but dislike the book or I, obviously, might love the book but dislike the author. But I know with this author it’s more than just simple dislike because she has really hurt people, and I shouldn’t help her become successful any longer. So today, I will be going through all the websites that I can think of where I may have posted my review, and I will remove them all.

My last dilemma as a blogger is letting Indie authors down when I am not “feeling” their book. I hate to give Indie authors bad reviews because I know that they put so much time and effort into their work and a lot of their success can stem from positive exposure. So I think I have now decided that if I accept a review from an Indie author and discover, while reading the book, that I probably will not give the book a good review or rating, I will stop reading the book so I do not feel obligated to review it.

***UPDATE*** I ended up deleting my review of the author's book that stole that money from those military families.  I honestly can't support someone that would do something so horrible to someone.



Angeline Kace said...

Wow Mindy! I'm soo sorry for all that you've had to endure lately! I can't even imagine the pain you felt for the violation of your stolen review, nor the betrayal you felt when you found out about your author friend. Just know that you have our support, and know that you are such a sweet person. Your integrity is great, and all I can say is to follow your gut. It seems like you have a great internal compass, and it's probably right most of the time. I ♥ you, and what you contribute to the book world is invaluable!

Unknown said...

What the...what? Maybe you should look @ the reviews as a reflection of your time & energy spent on it.
The reading a book you're not feeling problem is one I've been having lately. So I changed my review policy to state that if I'm not liking the book, I won't finish/review.

Best of luck!

Tipsy Misty said...

Wow that's terrible about the author that was scamming people! I think id have removed my reviews to even if I'd loved the book but it must have been a hard choice for you :)

New follower by the way, spotted you on fiktshuns new blog in 'Introduce yourself' :)

Mist Bookaholics Book Club

Fiktshun said...

Hey Mindy! I'm so glad you got this out. Sometimes it helps to talk about it on the blog and have others hear what you've been going through.

The Kindergarten teacher really should be held accountable. That woman should not be sculpting young minds. It's dreadful.

I'm glad the author who scammed those veterans out of their homes is behind bars.

And for the authors whose books you just aren't "feeling" it's better to just set them aside rather than struggle through. Andrea made a good point about altering the review policy. That sounds like a great idea.

I'm glad you're blogging and hope you continue. You're fun to tweet with and I love checking out your posts.

As far as the reviews, you can always keep them up on the blog but just add a note on the top and bottom to say that while you still very much enjoyed the book, you don't condone the author's bad behavior, without specifically listing what that is. And perhaps just take it off Goodreads and Amazon and the other sites which help people decide whether to buy a book or not.

I know the spiteful thing would be to rate it 1 star everywhere. And for the author's horrific behavior she might deserve it. Let's just hope that she didn't plagiarize her books. Someone who would go to such lengths to scam people out of their homes could really do anything.

It's so scary. But you're amazing and keep doing what you do in spite of it all!

The More the Merrier said...

I'm not entirely sure how I would feel if someone plagiarized my reviews especially someone that teaches others.Is there any kind of action that you can take on that matter.
The author whose books you love not sure why people hurt others that way. It not only effects those she directly hurt but also those who enjoyed her books, seems like such a waste. I think if I were in your place I would take the reviews down and add a little note as to why they are no longer on your site.
I hope you keep blogging I love the site and I'm sorry that you are experiencing these problems.

CRooney said...

Ouch. You'd think people being ethical would be the norm, not the exception. It always makes me a bit sadder when an artist wrongs other. I've always had this odd point of view that writers/musicians/artists are the gateways to humanity's greatest ideas. Theft is just humanity's easiest idea.

A writing board I'm part of caught someone plagiarising reviews and stories. Immediate ban, plus they were named and shamed. The dude genuinely seemed like a nice person, but there really is no excuse. I would delete this book's reviews too.

I don't think I'll ever know why plagiarists do what they do. Accidentally tapping into the creative pool of the universe is one thing, but deliberately pretending to write something - I just don't get it. I thought the whole point of writing was to share a piece of yourself with like-minded souls. If you fake it, there can't be a genuine connection. You're not real. *end philosophical rant of the day*

Terribly sorry this had to happen. I hope you encounter enough awesome folk to balance it all out.

Ottilie Weber said...

I seriously do not understand plagerism! I am so sorry that, someone did that especially a grown adult! Stealing others reviews will blow up in her face if they don't match up with her opionions! I'm so sorry that the author thing happened. I have a feeling I know who that was, but not positive and is shocking! Though I am curious. What you could do with the Indie authors some other reviewers do is if your review is under 3 stars you could email the author and tell them such and ask if they still want to post the review or not. It is very nice and honorable to try to help the indie authors, but you still have to be honest.

Julie@My5monkeys said...

wow thats a lot of stuff to be dealing with with author and blogging.

I am sending hugs because its never easy choices it seems.Hugs

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