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How Opal Mehta got plagiarized...

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I too have found myself coming back to this thread again and again. So are guys banning yourself from reading or just posting?  ;)

From the beginning I thought there were way too many samples given of KV's work mimicking MM's for it not to be intentional. I also wondered what else she had been reading that she may have "internalized". It looks like the New York Times is filling us in on that. I'm sorry, if she has a photographic memory wouldn't she remember where the information came from? Please!! Excuses, excuses.

What worries me the most is this not taking responsibility for her actions. It seems to me this is a big problem with our youth today. (OK, that's making me sound real old, and I know there are a lot of good responsible kids out there.)  But I do have two daughters about her age in college and I sure hope they wouldn't do this, but if they did, I would expect them to take responsibility for it. I saw it with other kids when they were in high school (and even with mine to a certain extent) and I know you've all seen in it with "stars"' in the media, be it sports or actors. It always someone else's fault! This changing her story over the last week is really just a way to avoid the inevitable. She plagiarised. Or in the words of my 14 year-old son when his dad asked him if he knew what plagiarism is, "when your writing and you steal someone else's crap."

#271 - May 02, 2006, 10:32 AM


That Slate article by the guy who tried to write a book for 17th St. is fabulous. This story goes on and on. It's like Watergate!
#272 - May 02, 2006, 11:21 AM


Pickles, I couldn't open the second link.  It said it was forbidden.  Ooh...intrigue.  :dr

#273 - May 02, 2006, 11:36 AM


Hmmm, it worked for me. Intrigue indeed. I just clicked on it from my post, so I don't know what happened. I found it by using the Blingo search engine. I had to go to about the second page.
#274 - May 02, 2006, 11:44 AM


That Slate article by the guy who tried to write a book for 17th St. is fabulous.

Yes, that was a great piece. Let's invite John Barlow to join us here. I would LOVE to hear more from him.


(get me out of this thread... :faint: )
#275 - May 02, 2006, 11:52 AM


Two more books?

Make that three:

That's 5 in total.
#276 - May 02, 2006, 11:57 AM


Okay, some of these newer examples coming up are farther fetched to me. They seem more coincidental than blatant.

#277 - May 02, 2006, 12:10 PM


Let's start checking her high school essays and her letters home from camp.  I heard her third grade What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation essay had passages straight from The Bridges of Madison County.
#278 - May 02, 2006, 12:58 PM


Let's start checking her high school exams and her letters home from summer camp.  I heard her fourth grade What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation essay had passages straight from The Crucible.
#279 - May 02, 2006, 01:13 PM


Okay, Lurban, how much ya got in your cookie jar?  I'm coming after you, sistah!

I just want to clarify, I honestly wasn't poking fun at KV with the above, but more trying to make a silly joke about the state of this whole affair.  I really do think that people's work should be protected, it was wrong of her (or whoever??) to lift the passages, and a very bad job, too.  It's a sad situation all around.  And I, like everyone else, cannot stop watching!  :spaz
#280 - May 02, 2006, 01:35 PM


I think "The Crucible" is much funnier in an elementary school summer vacation essay.  Darn you, Linda Urban!  Darn you straight to Hello Kitty!
#281 - May 02, 2006, 01:37 PM

I have only read about the first 20 of some 300+ posts, so sorry if this is here already, but now there're a total of four books with similar passages, most recently The Princess Diaries. Opal Mehta's been pulled--permanently, and the two-book deal canceled.
#282 - May 02, 2006, 02:09 PM
ESCAPING THE TIGER, Bank Street's "Best Books of the Year"

LRM- I hadn't heard that the deal was canceled permanently... where did you read this?
#283 - May 02, 2006, 02:25 PM


By LB pulling her book deal it makes it seem like it's her fault and her fault only.  No matter how we feel about the author involved - I for one have no pity - BUT there is no way LB should be able to walk away tsk, tsk, tsking like they've been had.  That's just wrong on so many levels.

At the very least, KV played a dangerous game that she'd never win because when the ish hits the fan it's her standing alone against Alloy and LB.  That being she plagirized b/c she couldn't take the pressure to get the book done along with her Harvardly duties and thought 1) she'd get away with it and 2) if caught, her publisher would stand behind her.

Worst case scenario, she was a pawn in their game.  If it worked, she could check "author" off her to-do list, have a nice nest egg, a best seller and walk off into the sunset to pursue other careers.  But it didn't work and LB and Alloy are circling the wagons, leaving her standing outside to face the hungry media and outright pisstivity of her peers.


So, running bets, who will get the first interview with KV and her parents:






Jerry Springer   :dr

#284 - May 02, 2006, 02:52 PM

Since they've cancelled the deal -- does KV have to give the $ back?  Does Alloy have to give any $ back?

My mom gets the newspaper they mention in that link = The Record -- she's keeping me caught up in clippings as more of this scandal unfolds.
#285 - May 02, 2006, 02:54 PM

Ms P -- I think it will either be Primetime
 0r 48 Hours -- since the ish hit the fan so fast!
#286 - May 02, 2006, 02:56 PM

My grandpa used to have a little phrase that applies to this most appropriately in my opinion:

"Emily," he'd say, "A dog can't smell it's own S*#T"

So let this be a lesson to all of us, if we're going to write something, make sure it's really your own S*#T, that way if it gets thrown back in your face, it's not as bad as someone else's.

Uh-oh, I'm starting to sound like the moody, disturbed 17 year old in my WIP.  Sorry :x
#287 - May 02, 2006, 03:03 PM

Huh.  You sound just like my husband.  (Moody 17 year-old.  I'll have to tell him that.  And disturbed - even better!)
#288 - May 02, 2006, 03:10 PM


#289 - May 02, 2006, 03:15 PM


PW Daily ALERT in my email.  I can't remember getting an ALERT before! :)
(Edited to add link to article)

#290 - May 02, 2006, 03:24 PM
« Last Edit: May 02, 2006, 06:13 PM by thatgirlygirl »


Great link, Pickles!  :study
#291 - May 02, 2006, 03:26 PM


Great link, Pickles.  I second the emotion of the article's writer. 

Anytime LB is ready to talk PR campaign to educate young readers on the cons of plagirism, I'm ready to listen. 

#292 - May 02, 2006, 03:58 PM

why isn't anyone pounding down little brown's door and asking, "um, excuse me?  why the 500k, two-book-deal for a 17-y-o unknown?  wouldn't that money have been better used by giving 25 promising new, *seasoned* authors 20k advances?" or pounding down alloy's door and asking, "how, exactly, do you get a huge percentage of a half-million dollars, and half the copyright, by working on only *four* chapters of *one* novel?  and only *tweaking* those chapters at that?"

That's what pisses me off about this situation more than anything. :fury The publishers, packagers, etc. ought to be ashamed of themselves.

I certainly don't condone what KV did, and I think it's only fair if she loses the 2-book deal and the movie deal and has to give up the advance -- but I agree that she shouldn't have to take ALL the public scrutiny and the heat.
#293 - May 02, 2006, 08:54 PM
"This is your life and you be what you want to be.
Just don't hurt nobody, 'less of course they ask you."

XTC, "Garden of Earthly Delights" (1989)


Washington Post weighs in:

The fact that her original manuscript was darker makes me think maybe she wasn't instinctively writing chick lit like they were asking for, so she went out of her way to add things from all these chick lit books into it to make it sound more authentic as chick lit.

I don't get the whole thing. I mean, I don't get the idea of giving someone $500,000 because it looks like they might be able to write! I can write and editors have even told me so, yet no one is giving me a penny until I actually have a good book written and polished. I guess it's just the idea of marketability--with the story mirroring her own story as a girl on her way to Harvard, she had a hook they couldn't resist. But it really makes me wonder about Little, Brown! I hope at least in the future, reputable children's publishers will think twice about shelling out big bucks without a strong book already written!

But I am glad the publisher is pulling the book. I couldn't believe they were backing her up after the first accusations even before examining the facts. When you make an official statement that you're confident the allegations will be false when you haven't even checked into them yet, you're saying you don't care about the facts. I'm glad they changed their minds. I don't think the rules should be any different for young writers or writers under a lot of pressure than for anyone else. And it seems to me that if you're taking $500K for your writing, you have an especially strong responsibility to make sure your manuscript is worth it. (Hmm, maybe that was the use proven best selling text!)

I do agree the publishers & the packagers should be ashamed of themselves, though. They worked with her way too much to throw it all on her now... and you'd think with those other books being so popular, someone might have noticed it along the way! Has anyone read it? I would think that even if you didn't remember those particular passages from other books (and some are memorable, I think), you might notice places in which the voice and style suddenly changed. On the other hand, with so many cooks stirring the broth, it may have all been cobbled together by many different writers and editors with different voices anyway.
#294 - May 02, 2006, 09:28 PM

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The fact that her original manuscript was darker makes me think maybe she wasn't instinctively writing chick lit like they were asking for, so she went out of her way to add things from all these chick lit books into it to make it sound more authentic as chick lit.

I was thinking that, too.  I'm sure people recommended some of these titles to her to study, NOT COPY.  But I don't believe that others were actively "writing" her book.  It boggles my mind that if she were getting so much hand-holding, that nobody noticed the similarities and asked her about it.  Still, she knew what she was doing.  Nobody made her copy anything.  It's a shame, shame, shame.  You reap what you sow ...

#295 - May 02, 2006, 11:29 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags


I don't get the whole thing. I mean, I don't get the idea of giving someone $500,000 because it looks like they might be able to write! I can write and editors have even told me so, yet no one is giving me a penny until I actually have a good book written and polished.

There was a great link, posted within another thread, about the economy of publishing and how a publisher determines how much they'll spend on a book and advance.  Forget where - I'm all linked out!!  But my point, whether they paid her $100K or $500K the economy of scale tips way in the favor of LB.  Because handing over that kind of cash means they thought they were going to make their money back and some!

Clearly they saw this as an investment in their next big series.  It's not enough that the hottest series package out now are theirs (Gossip Girls, Clique and A-List) they were setting the foundation for the next round.  Only it blew the frick up.

Funny thing is, in the article I read, the scenario had the publisher losing money and the author unable to sell again because of it.  So the author ends up writing under a psued, years later, and banging out a best seller.  It was all quite interesting.  And a little scary.

Scary because the author wasn't given a whole heck of a lot of promo support from the publisher...yet it's their fault the book didn't sell.  ::sigh::

#296 - May 03, 2006, 04:15 AM


I just read this, this morning I'm not sure if this has already has been posted but

Publisher cancels Harvard author's book deal
More charges of plagiarism emerging for Viswanathan and 'Opal Mehta

it talks of how some of her other writng that she has done will be reviewed now.
#297 - May 03, 2006, 06:31 AM


This item from the Children's Book Insider I just got screams some big irony.

David Ford, who has been VP and Publisher of
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is moving
to London to open a book packaging company. He
will be succeeded by Megan Tingley, who has been
promoted from her current position as VP, Associate
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.

#298 - May 03, 2006, 06:37 AM


::ring ring::

"Hello? Coincidence here, may I speak to David Ford?"

"Sorry, he's off to London. Something about a hot new venture in book publishing."

"Hmmph, really?  Hey, did irony just call here?"


If you don't laugh at this business you'll drown in tears.

#299 - May 03, 2006, 07:08 AM


Wow, the story gets more and more bizarre every day. Several of us predicted correctly other YA books would be found with similarities. So Yay us! That’s not what I find bizarre.

In the comparisons to MM’s books, MM won, hands down, for the superior writing. But in these new examples, the KV versions are funnier.  Meg Cabot listed everything the princess was going through and her new expensive stuff. I’m a big fan of Meg Cabot but that one isn’t a quotable paragraph. KV talks about five pairs of shoes that could be traded in for a small sailboat. Now *that’s* funny. Same thing with the minks wanting to be turned into fur coats. A pretty good line. But saying the foxes that wanted to do it and comparing them to organ donors -- brilliant. So the question remains, why, Why WHY???? if she was capable of writing like that would she have resorted to plagiarism?

Unless there is now a ghostwriter at Alloy patting herself on the back and saying, “Hey, the organ donor line…that’s mine. So is the sailboat line. Someone at Verla Kay’s thinks I’m brilliant!”

I have no answers. Only questions.
#300 - May 03, 2006, 09:26 AM


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