I tend to be a Naive Nell. I feel one of my best qualities is I see the best in everyone. What’s my greatest weakness? I see the best in everyone. I also like to give new people opportunities. I know that without people like Candy Havens, Bob Mayer, Les Edgerton, James Scott Bell, Agent Laurie McLean and others, I wouldn’t be where I am, which is an AWESOME place, namely because you guys are here.
This said, I like to pay it forward. Ah, but paying it forward can bite back, and I’ve been bitten way more times than I care to admit.
So back to stupid. NO, EPIC stupid.
I don’t even think I should have to blog about this, because COME ON! Plagiarism? In this day and age? REALLY????
But, we live in a world that must caution us not to blow-dry our hair in the shower or use power saws while sleeping, so here goes.
Plagiarism. Yes, it happens.
And I don’t like telling this story, namely because it makes me look like the World’s Biggest Jack@$$, but hey. I’m willing to be embarrassed if you guys can get something useful out of it.
A Little History
A few years ago, I decided to try a different kind of writing workshop. I’d been in a traditional “let’s read 5 pages and critique” group, and, while that was a lot of fun and I learned a lot, I felt the format couldn’t handle larger works, particularly novels. Thus, a handful of the members and I decided to meet for a content critique group that focused more on making sure authors began with a solid plot structure. Line-edit was for later.
We all grew exponentially as artists.
Excited about what this format did in person, I was eager to try an on-line version to help authors who couldn’t make a meeting in Fort Worth, TX. I didn’t know if it would work (it didn’t, btw), but it was at least worth a try. Shortly after starting the workshop, however, my grandmother became suddenly ill. She was in and out of the hospital and I had a one-year-old and deadlines, blah, blah, blah. So I asked one of the original members of the in-person critique group, Terrell Mims, to help me with the critique as a co-instructor.
Because he was blogging on craft and his blogs were OUTSTANDING. He was proof this new format worked. He’d gone from not knowing his @$$ from a hole in the ground to writing lessons that rivaled my own (and I spent MONTHS reading every craft book I could find).
Even when I talked to him on the phone, he was quite insightful about craft, frequently quoting books like The Writer’s Journey, Hooked, Save the Cat , Plot and Structure and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches (all FABULOUS books and recommended reading for the workshop).
His blogs were superlative, and he was quick to give credit to me and to WANA for his growth as a writer.
Anyway, Terrell was ideal to help with the on-line version of the workshop. He was single and had just moved back to his home state and was looking for employment there while waiting on his state teaching certification, meaning he had the time. He’d earned a degree in English (supposedly) and had even been teaching high school English (allegedly), so it was no stretch to believe that he’d produced the content in his drop-dead-awesome-blogs.
In the workshop?
Over time, I started noticing that we were giving almost identical feedback to the participants. I believed it was because we were seeing the same things. Yeah, that “believing the best in people” thing. I wasn’t noticing that his comments were always after mine.
My grandmother continued to be in and out of the hospital and by that August, my favorite aunt was ill as well and SHE was in and out of the hospital (often they were in adjacent rooms). A month later, my aunt passed away and the family was reeling. Since Terrell seemed to be seeing the same things I was, I said, “Well why don’t you take over for the initial assignments and I will only look at the final stuff? This way we lose the redundancy and I can take care of my family.”
I needed the help. I was choking. On top of all the health crises, we received orders my husband was deploying to Afghanistan. I was so desperate to keep the workshop going and keep to my word to the writers who’d trusted me that—*lets out long, dejected breath*—that I even paid $50 to send him a small BRAND NEW laptop I wasn’t using because his had crashed.
I know. I’ve already kicked myself a thousand times.
This is when things got weird.
Once Terrell was on his own, his critiques suddenly ranged from all-out-flaming-bizarre to moronic. Complaints started piling in, and yet I defended my choice. I said, “Well, look at his blogs. I have no idea where this critique came from. I’ll talk to him.” When I talked to him in person, he seemed to understand the craft. Yet, it felt like I was dealing with two or even three different people.
Long and short of it was Terrell got caught, and he dragged my good name and WANA through the mud with him. Not only had he wholesale copied posts—PICTURES AND ALL—from Cracked.com, he was kind enough to mention ME as his mentor and to thank WANA for the support.
So one day I am bee-bopping along when suddenly @HolyTaco calls me out on Twitter as a plagiarist, or that, rather, I train plagiarists, and I’m all like WTH? When I confronted Terrell, he lied and told me the guy was just a troll looking for a fight. Terrell then takes down the posts he stole, but here is the thing…
THE INTERNET IS FOREVER!!!!!
One of the reasons I strongly recommend against blogging about sex, politics and religion (unless it’s part of your platform) is that, if it explodes in our face? WE CAN’T UN-DETONATE. It is troll fodder FOREVER. Trolls have mad computer skills and a lot of free time.
This is also a reason NOT TO STEAL PEOPLE’S STUFF.
Terrell doesn’t seem to understand the depth of his sin. Writers are like elephants and we remember everything FOREVER.
Not only did he make me look like the biggest dope on the planet—“Oh, here little
chickens writers, here is a wolf Terrell to guard you and your eggs stories”—but he had absolutely NO problem dragging my good name (that I actually worked my tail off to build) through the digital mud. He also had no problem dragging the WANAs through the mud.
So we all pounce on him and run him out of Cyberland, yet he still keeps resurfacing under new names. And this isn’t my problem. My problem is he KEEPS STEALING. His post yesterday—that he’s taken down because he’s been BUSTED by the WANA Justice League headed by Digital Wonder Woman @JamiGold and the WANAvengers ruled by Digital Dark Knight @JayTechDad—was STOLEN from freaking FORBES. FORBES?????!!!!
(I am Thora-Xena for those who wonder :D…a lot)
Is this just a special kind of stupid? WARNING: Please do NOT let Terrell near your shower with a hair dryer.
I am all for forgiveness, but we have to actually be repentant and CHANGE, and the only thing Terrell Mims is sorry for is BEING CAUGHT. When he originally humiliated me and dragged my good name through the mud, I didn’t make it public because 1) I was mortified and 2) if he DID mend his ways he’d have a harder time recovering.
Yeah. I’m all out of grace, and the innocent need protection.
What I don’t get is that you guys have no idea the kind of free time Terrell has. Why steal? He knew the material he originally plagiarized, so just freaking write it DOWN.
I am a mother, a wife, I run a global business with 30+ instructors, blog 5 days a week, teach, travel, do most of the yard and housework, all the shopping and all the cooking, AND I WRITE MY OWN STUFF! I may not wear makeup or clean clothes, but my writing is MINE…unless you didn’t like it and that was from the aliens who sometimes hack into my brain :D.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a WANA Scorned
WANA is a fabulous community that will help your platform grow exponentially, but love has a price and that price is integrity. Betray that trust and GAME OVER.
DO NOT STEAL.
Digital-Wonder Woman and the Digital Dark Knight Will Smite the Wicked. HOLY TACO!
We have CRAZY talent in WANA. No seriously, they’re crazy. Why else would they hang out with US? Some of the WANAs have MAD SKILLZ so don’t mess with them. Jami will tie you in a Lasso of Whoop@$$ that looks a lot like her blog. Here is her Storify of the #MyWANA “Outing of the Shunned” for those who doubt. The WANA Justice League and WANAvengers are also sometimes assisted by the chaotic neutral Holy Taco who first ousted Mims.
And I am sorry this post breaks my promise to be brief, but there are wolves out there and I want you guys to be prepared.
Some Helpful Tips
Don’t Plagiarize. You WILL Get Caught.
Seems like a no-brainer, but apparently there are some brainless folks out there. There are sites like Copyscape that can check to see if your stuff’s being stolen. There is also the Internet archive of, oh…EVERYTHING at Wayback. And might I remind everyone of the WANA Justice League and WANAvengers?
There is NO reason to plagiarize.
In the new paradigm, we know our stuff needs to be shared. We WANT you to share it or we wouldn’t put all those share buttons all over the place. Sharing and stealing are different for anyone who is confused.
Get a cold? Kids get the flu? On a deadline and have no blog to post? Reblog one of MY POSTS. I freely offer my content so long as I get credit.
I am not alone. Most people are cool with sharing, we just want the credit for the work we did. That’s FAIR. Mims could have avoided ALL of this with a simple reblog. Post the first paragraph then hyperlink to the original post and give credit to the person who actually did the work.
Mims has content and original blogger has new readers.
Everyone is happy.
Rat Poison is NOT Candy–DO NOT EAT
Don’t use a curling iron in the shower, a radio in the bathtub, a chainsaw while cooking, and, for the love of all that is chocolate, DO NOT DRIVE WHILE SLEEPING!
Aren’t you glad I give all this free advice? 😀
So there it is. Not only did I trust an epic-moron-sociopathic-thief in my workshop, but I provided him a new computer to help him steal more efficiently. Yes, I want a DeLorean so I can go back in time and kick my OWN @$$.
I still give opportunity to newbies, and I’ve continued to get burned, but the handful who make it? The ones that shine? They make it worth any amount of pain.
So let Terrell Mims or CDLaune or Captain Assclown or whatever he calls himself be a cautionary tale to NOT BE STUPID. Writers are generous. We will help you. No need to steal. Really.
So what are your thoughts? Fears? Suggestions for tarring and feathering on-line?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.
Keep Crazy and Cock Your Gun.
Dang, Kristen. I’m sorry to hear all this happened to you.
It was all bad enough, but messing with you while your husband is about to deploy to Afghanistan… Umm… Now we have a serious problem. Crazy Marines like me like to, well, um, hurt people who do shit like that.
Okay, I’m not saying any more. I’m going to go do some Shaolin Kung Fu meditation before I start trying to figure out where this guy lives! : )
I was there when this mess went down the first time I watched in horror as it rolled out again yesterday. So glad you have @Jamigold and Jay to help keep an eye out — not just for Terrell, but anyone else who might be stealing content.
I had a student hand in one of my own blog posts for an assignment. It’s true. I was BEYOND pissed. And, no, I have never forgotten her. This is the double-edged sword that is the Internet. It is forever.
I’m guessing you never got that laptop back, eh?
Yeah…um, no. Every time I think about it I feel ill then want to punch something. What pisses me off is my neighbor’s son was going off to college and I’d offered her the laptop because they were struggling financially. She then told me they didn’t need it because they had a line on a better computer. So I sent it to Terrell and two weeks later my neighbor tells me that they had some family emergency and couldn’t get the computer, could they please buy mine? (and I was just going to give it to them). Anyway, after the whole plagiarism thing came out, I was so bummed because that computer could have been helping out a struggling freshman, not a sociopath.
Seriously? Did she know it was your post when she turned it in?
Thank you for this post, Kristen. You have warned us against the wolf, which is so important. I have never understood plagiarists, because I could never figure out if they were so arrogant they figured they wouldn’t get caught, or so stupid. I think it is both.
Thank you for WANA, and for continuing to trust us newbies despite getting burned. I’m glad that some of us have made you proud, and many of the rest of us are working on it. 🙂
You guys make me proud every day *bear hugs*
Aw, thanks, Kristen,
*tuning up my Kumbaya* 🙂
An article that I wrote was plagiarized, word for word. Even after being called on the carpet, he did it again! Like you said, there is no reason for this to have been done, SO DON’t DO IT!!!
Life lessons are always bitter. Yet it can’t stop you from being a mentor–it’s who you are as much as what you do, and the good guys DO outnumber the bad. And the “candy police” can keep sticky fingers out of the bag, too. *s* Thanks for sharing, Kristen.
Sociopathic moron is right, Kristen. Thanks for the details. I think it’s time the truth came out about this guy and so sorry he preyed on you. I guess he does have one talent and that is recognizing talent. Thanks for the warning about him and ways to find plagiarists.
I mentioned this on the one post on myWANA’s FB page last night but it can’t hurt to mention it again. I talked to Terell back in the day when I first started on the Twitter. He seemed like a nice guy, and he did seem knowledgeable about the craft (if a bit pushy about it). I remember seeing two things that made me feel a bit suspicious about him though. One was his blog, because he purported to be some sort of expert and I didn’t see where there were any sort of credentials. But then I’m naturally skeptical of experts, especially on the internet, so whatever advice I gleaned from his blog I took as just that: advice. Second was when he tried to get me to join the above mentioned workshop. He was pretty pushy about it, if I recall correctly, and it just turned me off completely (not that I had the time at the time anyway, being in school full time and still working). Then he disappeared and I wondered what happened to him. Apparently, he shot himself in the foot and has been on online life support ever since =P
Wow, that’s just… awful. I went and read a bit on Holy Taco and a couple of other sites after I saw this, and I’m frankly floored that someone would have everybody reveal him as a fraud, and yet, he keeps doing it!
Apparently, he’s not even smart enough to learn that what he does is wrong, or even that getting caught is bad, so I wouldn’t hold out much hope for creating anything of his own.
Holy lower than rat sh-t, Batman! I’m so sorry this happened to you and your friends. This is scary stuff and we new writers are always afraid of this happening to us. Well, I’m glad the WANA league is out there protecting us. Thank you for warning me of the dangers out there
You took the words right out of my mouth. 🙂
Seriously though, I’m a preacher in my other life and plagiarism happens in the pulpit all the time. Talk about ironic!
Thanks for reminding us about that rare, beautiful, desirable quality we like to call INTEGRITY.
Hi, I saw your post on twitter and had to check it out. Amazing. I admit I worry about this kind of thing but then I’m one of those who is trying to learn how to discern my a$$ from a hole in the ground so I post and network all I can. So here is my really, really stupid question: What is WANA? I’ve seen the term thrown around a lot on Twitter. Here in NJ we have WAWA which is a convenience store chain. I’m guessing it’s nothing like that.
I’m also guessing it’s not the Washington Association of Nurse Anesthesists or the city in Pakistan.
Stands for We Are Not Alone. It’s a community of artists, mainly writers.
We are never alone – and she that taught us is not alone here. I was there as well, and just as conned by the Mims (or whomever he is, I wonder if even he knows the answer to that one any more). Good will is what makes the writing community such a wonderful and powerful resource for many of us, but it comes with a small price: One must be vigilant. Fortunately, we have Kristen and Jami and Jay and many others that are out there guarding the flock from vile acid-dripping trolls (I would use wolves but I like those). Live free, but, live smart.
Thank you Gene and thank you Kristen both for the heads up! I remember this from Warrior Writers too and it was shocking. Like you said, Kristen, totally different personalities from one social media to the next. I remember being sooo disgusted with his comments about women on FB and here I’d thought he was an academic and professional writer. I thank the WANAvengers for looking out for us!
P.S. Thora-Xena is an awesome name!
I used to edit student essays, and you’d be shocked at how many of them didn’t understand that you’re still plagiarizing even if you move around a couple of words. And universities/colleges check for that sort of thing!
I’m glad Jami caught what was going on so that he couldn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes again. And I have to say that I’m thankful that you do see the best in people. So many of us have benefited from it.
What a douche bag. Karma is a bitch and it will catch up with this loser. I’m sorry he’s tainting the water, Kristen. Chin up, we all know better.
I remember something John Edward (the psychic, not the crummy politician) said: “When you do what I do, you paint a big old bullseye on your back.” Well, I think the same thing is true when we “put ourselves out there” for any reason.
Thanks for the warnings and the smiles. It’s good that you can laugh (almost) about it now.
And it’s good to know that someone has your back, you know, the one with the big ole bullseye painted on it.
Wow. Just wow. I remember this from the first time and had hoped the idiot was gone for good. I mean seriously, how fundamentally stupid do you have to be to do it again?
I’m so, so, so sorry all this came up again, Kristen. You truly are goodhearted and want to help. Guys like Terrell should be drawn and quartered. Maybe eviscerated first. Hmm, I think all that medieval research is coming in handy here…
Jami rocks. I’m so glad she was on top of this to stop him! We’ve got your back, Kristen. Truly, as Gene said, you will never be alone and thanks to you, neither will we. You’ve built an awesome community full of generosity, support, and love. That will never change, no matter what.
Captain Ass-Clown strikes again, huh?
I remember this happening the first time and I was shocked at the extent of his lies. Okay, not completely shocked as he had showed up on my moron-o-meter a couple of times before then, but I was shocked at the way he’d lied to you, of all people.
Although his critiquing skills were a bit, err, out of left field, the guy did have a inkling of talent (am I really admitting that out loud?). And that’s the problem with a lot of plagiarists… they have the beginning of the skills right there in front of them, but for whatever reason (lack of time to dedicate to becoming the person they want to be, jealousy, money…whatever) they take the easy road. And in life, there’s rarely an easy road to where you want to be.
You gave him a lot of time, Kristen. And you encouraged him as you have a lot of other people (including myself) to become better writers. Shame on him for what he did. YOU were just a convenient catalyst for his ego, simple as that. It’s a rare person who goes out of their way to encourage people as you’ve done. You care. And that’s why you’ll always be a target in some way or another.
I hope one day Ass-Clown realises what he’s done. Not only to others who got caught in the crossfire, but for his own writing career and future.
This was a great lesson – thanks for sharing. I hope it stops another plagiarist in their tracks.
Thank you for sharing. This post does point out very effectively that proper credit is the way to share. Good stuff. – John
Such a waste. The amount of time and effort needed to create and maintain a lie is so much more than just doing the right thing in the first place. When I taught freshman composition, one of my best students turned in the most amazing short story. I found out after the semester was over that she wrote up the opening scene of a movie. She might have found the book and copied it for all I know. It ticked me off because I will forever doubt the rest of her writing projects that semester, my memory of a good student was ruined, and I know that she did not deserve an A in my class.
I once stole a candy bar when I was about 5 or 6. My mom dragged me back to the store and made me confess in person to the store manager. Scared (and scarred) me for life. I cannot imagine having to do that on an internet scale. But I guess some folks are shameless.
Information like this is invaluable. The only way to deal with people like this is to out them so they lose more and more of their potential audience.
Thanks for the information. I will be on the lookout for this guy. I hope to meet him someday. Between now and then, I will plan what I will say…and do.
I am posting your link on the San Antonio Writers Guild FB page.
Blow it up! *wink* This guy sounds like a real creep. Sorry about all this Kristen. I want to share this on my blog, but it was hacked and I can’t sign in. Going to FB and tweet though. Folks need to read this. (((hugs)))
I applaud your courage and humility about this. You could have slunk into a corner and hid behind the furniture.
I also tend to see the best in people. I think it is a trait of honest folk.These guys are smooth. They pull wool over our eyes. I suppose it’s another warning to apply our due diligence in choosing our work partners and in other areas as well. Failure to do so can ruin us.
What is WANA?
A community of creative people. Stands for We Are Not Alone.
Go get ’em WANA’s!!
That laptop bit must have been particularly infuriating. What an awful experience, and you’ve done so much for others. Doesn’t he know half of us are highly trained ninja warriors 😉
Actually, I believe these people think that if they can’t be sued (they are usually judgment-proof anyway) then there is no reason to change their ways. There is no actual “cost” to them that they can discern. They will never be professional writers and have a reputation to worry about, so it’s no skin off their nose if they get busted… they just start it somewhere else. They apparently have a need for the attention they get by seeming intelligent and erudite, so they usually will not quit. All you can really do is emphatically discourage them from doing it to YOU and yours. Of course, if they ever try to get a real job in publishing, it will come back to bite them in the ass, but either they can’t see that far ahead or there is zero chance they will ever be in a position for the information to do them any real damage.
But don’t feel like the Lone Ranger! I really would be miserable if I felt I had to mistrust everybody because some people have ripped me off. Yes, I get burned and I am more careful in that situation the next time, but I will not let the cheaters stop me from being who I am. There will always be people who believe that if you leave yourself open to deceit you had it coming (straightens target firmly attached to back of shirt). I don’t worry about their opinion… Karma will take care of them and you know the old saying: Karma is a M*#$@F@#er!
Don’t you change! You do a wonderful job and help the rest of us with information and resources we would never find on our own. Not only that, you do it because of a desire to truly help other people — not because you think you will get something material out of it later. If he doesn’t stop, we could always have Stan drag him down here to Roy Bean’s Courthouse and have us a good ol’ trial — they called Roy the hanging judge because he never met an innocent outlaw! It gets real hot out there in West Texas and walking back to civilization barefoot across the desert might be a strong deterrent to continue that behavior!
Cautionary Tale: A fairly well-known author created a character back in the 70s that became quite popular with the S&S people and she continued to feature him in subsequent short stories and novels. A not-to-be-named person “created” a character in an RPG using the exact same name (??) with ALMOST the same backstory, ALMOST the same description, ALMOST the same attributes and powers (you get the idea). But that was before the internet! Of course, now he lives in fear of her suing him for 30 years’ worth of profits and keeps trying to create a false history of the character on Wikipedia (yep, the be-all and end-all of truth) and various other places to “prove” he really did just coincidentally come up with the same character, only slightly before she created HER character. People who don’t know the whole story just assume she gave him permission to use her character and mention that when they talk about the game… at which point he freaks out and hastens to assure them that HIS character has nothing to do with her character, etc. Just goes to show that you never know what will happen in the future, and if you screw other people around, it may come back to give you ulcers in your old age!
Wow. When I saw Jami’s post on this yesterday, I was floored. What makes people do such stupid stuff? So glad the Digital Wonder Woman and the Digital Dark Knight are there!
To be clear, Terrell Mims, aka Captain Assclown, is tweeting at @AuthorCDeLaune and “his” blog is at chrisdelaune.wordpress.com. Want everyone to know so they can unfollow if they have been marked.
I can verify that this guy is seriously missing the taco off of his combo plate. He actually tried to educate my Cold War veteran writing partner, Holmes, about intelligence recruiting processes. That’s like telling Martha Stewart how to fold a sheet.
But the craziest thing is that plagiarism happens at all levels. Even NYT best selling authors are plagiarized, leaving the authors with the choice of ignoring it or bringing a lawsuit that will no doubt be costly and generate bad publicity for themselves. Thank Thor we have Digital Wonder Woman, Digital Dark Knight and Thora-Xena on our side!
“like telling Martha Stewart how to fold a sheet” <– Bahahaha! You go, Piper!
Thanks, Kristin. Your lesson is invaluable to the rest of us.
Sorry you had such a bad time, I am too trusting I know. This writing lark, really toughtens you up but I try not to lose faith in others. At least we have our Wanaland to let off steam.
Wow, remind me to never piss you off. And thanks for letting me know– I’ll stay away from Terrell Mims.
What an amazing story. And how awful. I’m sorry you had this experience, but thanks for passing it on to others so they can benefit from it. I am a great believer in “what goes around comes around”, so help will always be coming back to you, and this guy will get what he dishes out in ways he can’t foresee. It all works that way. Meanwhile, keep writing!
Wow…. I never knew the background to this story. I know the laptop deal must’ve made your blood boil. I remember reading Jami’s post about it last year, and then when I saw her Storify yesterday, I was absolutely shocked that TM/CD would be that stupid to not learn from his mistakes. But like Kristen said, he’s EPIC Stupid, and you can’t fix stupid.
HUGE thanks to Digital Wonder Woman, Jami Gold, Digital Dark Knight, Jay, and to you Kristen, Thora-Xena, for bringing this man to justice and for enlightening and warning the rest of us!
I’m genuinely sad that you had to go through this, Kristen, and even more sad to know that tons of people go through this all the time. Funny you should happen to write this post and mention that this BIG HUGE PHONEY was copying posts from Cracked.com, because I was just reading an article from one of my favorite writers on Cracked and he was mentioning how a bunch of his articles are regularly stolen and that Cracked has a legal team specifically to deal with this sort of thing.
Unfortunately, the majority of us do NOT have a legal team to help us deal with this sort of thing, so the best thing we can really do is stick together. If I EVER notice that something I’m reading has been plagiarized you can bet your booty that I’ll track down the original author to let them know, because I genuinely hope that others would do the same thing for me.
It’s a very good thing that narcissism is so often paired with arrogance. Otherwise so many people like Terrell would get away with their transgressions. I can’t begin to count the number of ‘elite hackers’ who have been busted because they assume that no one else is as clever as they are. *saves stories for another time*
I loved when Terrell initially denied plagiarizing the Forbes article. He thought it so clever that he took down that post. But being clever also, I had saved a copy of the article. At that point he admitted it and changed his tactics to one of contrition and seeking remorse. Time will tell if it’s an honest one, but for now, there’s a boulder sized grain of salt that needs to be digested first.
And yes, the Internet is forever. My superpower is being able to find whatever information I need. Luckily, between Spiderman and being a Boy Scout, I learned to use my powers for good. *shameless plug* I’ll be teaching a class at WANA on “Maintaining Your Internet Privacy” soon. */shameless plug*
Don’t kick yourself too hard Kristen, it would be a sad world if people became so afraid of getting hurt that they never did anything to help others. Most people are good and it’s such a wonderful feeling to help them hit their stride that it more than balances the few bad apples that stomp on your hand and heart along the way.
Yay!! I LOVE classes like that! I’m in. 🙂
Hi Everyone! Thanks for the kudos, but I also want to give credit to one of my blog commenters, Chris Doherty, for the heads ups that Terrell Mims and Chris DeLaune were one and the same. Naturally, before making any accusations, I thoroughly checked out the details and took screenshots of proof. And then had Jay (my tech guy) double check and dig deeper.
I think the fact that I had help makes Kristen’s point. We watch out for each other. 🙂 Someone might be able to fool some of us some of the time, but not all of us all of the time.
In other news, my lasso of truth currently has Terrell/Chris admitting who he is and what he did on his Twitter bio, a blog post, and his blog’s about page. I’ll be watching to see if that admission stays there. 🙂
Another good guy (gal) heard from. We do have to be careful when accusing someone but when they are this blatant… geez.
Your Wonder Woman Lasso kicks ASS, Jami! Go you and Jay for not sweeping it under the run. Many would. Perhaps public embarrassment will work the second time around. Plagiarism hurts us all.
Blow-drying hair in shower? Dad-gum! So THAT’S why I felt like a 220-volt “crispy critter” the other day! Thanks for the heads-up.
Seriously, as a college English professor AND a writer, I’m particularly sensitive to plagiarism! Thanks for the links. As usual, this blog made me laugh but, more important, made me think!
So I WAS right to yell at my 17 year old for having his ipod propped up IN THE SHOWER with him. Although the only danger there was me ringing his neck when that thing fell in the water and got ruined.
I was just reading the other day about The Story Siren’s blog stealing, and now this. Sorry this happened to you!
My son (TechBoy) learned the lesson of water and electronics when he tried cleaning his Game Boy under running water. It would have been fine if it took the battery out first.
Well, I went to check out his twitter feed and I got to say, he seems to be man-ing up. The easy thing to do would be kill the account, change/kill the blog, etc.
Kristen, did he apologize to you as he says he did on his twitter?
Don’t fall for it. He did the same thing last time. He’s a manipulating narcissist.
So sorry this happened to you, Kristen. I, too, have been duped too many times because I am so trusting. Not sure if I want to change or not. It is good to have this community at WANA to support each other through these kinds of experiences, and I am glad to see that Terrell/Chris has been called out.
I’m so sorry this happened to you, Kristen, and appalled that he’s such an a$$ to do it again! I used to write for Suite101.com, and we got articles “scraped” all the time, plus the typical re-blogging without any attribution. Emails to bloggers, cease-and-desist letters to others, etc. But this is so over-the-top that my jaw is still on the floor! Someone, maybe on one of the other blogs I’ve read in the last 20 minutes, called it fraud. Fraud is right – aren’t there criminal penalties for that?
Anyway, kudos to Digital Wonder Woman and Digital Dark Knight for outing him, and to you,Thora-Xena, for getting through it. *quakes in boots at thought of getting on Thora-Xena’s bad side!*
I’m quaking in my boots about hillbillyzen13’s description! Love that, actually… 73 acres. Hmmmm, I have a little list – they’ll never be missed. 😀
This is a terrifying concept to consider, especially to those of us who aren’t necessarily net-savvy. Every so often I Google a random phrase from one of my pieces to see if it shows up anywhere else, but that’s a hit and miss method. In my first chapbook, I warned potential plagiarists to “Keep in mind that the author is a menopausal little hillbilly woman with a shotgun, a shovel and 73 acres.” After reading your story, maybe I should post that on my blog, too! Other than WANA’s awesome Super Friends and the threat of britches full of buckshot, are there any resources out there for writers to guard against plagiarism?
Google Alerts can be used for this. If you can post here, you can set it up – or have your favorite TechGuy help with it the first time or few. 🙂
Amazing story. The internet seems to be the gift that keeps on giving — or taking — as the case might be. Thanks for the heads up on this guy. Sorry you had to endure this.
I’ve found pieces of some of my blogpost floating around the Interwebz, but nothing like this. You’re so right that plagiarism online is just plain dumb. Also unnecessary. It’s perfectly OK to re-post pieces of blogposts if you give credit and link back to the original blog. In fact, the blogger will thank you for it The Passive Voice is one of the most popular blogs in our industry and it’s nothing but pieces of other people’s blogs with the occasional commentary from the Passive Guy. All Terrell needed to do was CREDIT THE AUTHOR and post a link to the original. What a sad, sad guy. Sounds as if he’s got a severe mental disorder and needs to get help.
Sorry you got conned by him, Kristen. Remember that we judge others by ourselves. Honest people assume other people are honest, too. It’s what we know as “normal”, so that’s what we expect to find in others.
Don’t insult those with a mental disorder. He has serious CHARACTER and MORAL issues and that’s all choice. Hey, live and learn and sally forth. As I’ve said, he isn’t the only one to burn me bad. Yet, the ones who take the opportunity and shine are all worth tolerating the bad apples.
I am lucky enough that I have never had that personally happen to me, though it is one of the reasons I am weary of online critique groups. Sure everyone agrees to the non-disclosure clauses, but does that really prevent theft? I do, however, have my own experience with publishing rights…
At my University (name not needed) we have to sign a Theses Non-Exclusive License that allows our University the rights to publish our own thesis. We are lucky enough to share the rights, so I retain the right to publish my own thesis.
One day I looked my thesis up for curiosity’s sake, and found a place online that was selling my thesis for $75 PDF. I found out that Canada’s National Library gets rights through the agreement to sell it, and they use this particular vendor. The odd thing is, anyone who wants a PDF of my thesis just has to look it up in the University Library, where they can download the PDF for free.
It’s a little weird!
You are not alone, although your case is horrid for you. I had a critique partner steal my stuff and only confronted her and stopped critiquing with her. I was shocked but didn’t tell anyone for a couple of years when we were discussing plagiarism before a writer’s meeting. Then I mentioned it and one of the other writers said I wasn’t the only one she’d done that to. The problem is one of my friends is now an adoring fan of this plagiarist and I cringe every time my friend mentions how terrific and knowledgeable this person is. I don’t think she’d believe me if I told her what the woman has done.
Such an important post and what a story! I’ve often wondered – especially when it’s so clear how productive you are with your time – that if dishonest people had the guts to spend their time honestly they might discover they get ahead faster. Or maybe that’s being too kind – maybe they are copying others work because their brains are made of polystyrene. Bad luck – you really don’t deserve this.
I went by to see if I was a follower and didn’t remember, and no, I am/was not. Saw his “apology” — I have no sympathy for a plagiarist – none.
Sorry you went through this.
Great reminder for writers. Everyone gets tired and wants to just shut down, but, as you so elegantly put it, there are alternatives. Writers ARE generous, they just want credit. Go figure.
I don’t like that you’re going through this again, but I loved how you told the story. (Captain Assclown? LOL) Thanks to you and Jami for looking out for us.
I still can’t believe there are people out there who a) think plagiarism is ok, and b) are stupid enough to think they won’t get caught. He’s lucky Jami discovered the post he stole from Forbes before Forbes did – can you imagine the hell he’d go through if their lawyers caught him? That might be a perfect tar and feathering.
Through my moments of laziness or mad busy, I’ve never considered plagiarizing. Wow what a crazy story. I’d be too paranoid to just copy something and claim it’s my own. If I’m that lazy, I just play video games till something comes to me.
I’m so sorry to hear that your generosity was repaid in such an awful way. Clearly, he’s a bastard — excuse my French. Plagiarism is absurd in its frequency and I can’t understand why people do it: in my opinion, blogging is an opportunity to practice writing as well as building a platform, so why take away that first part of it? It might take time, but it’s honing your craft, so I figure it’s a fairly good use of that time. *sigh* Morons!
Unbelievable, so hard to fathom why people are evil. Thank you for sharing, so many things to watch out for — it’s a new and weird place, the net, and yet it old and familiar too. Conundrum.
Be safe, and thanks for posting.
Holy sh*t (pardon my French)! I think I remember reading something about this on Jami’s blog, but, my goodness, my heart hurts for you with all that you’d gone through with that Mims psychopath.
And, wow, I knew that Jami and Jay were good…I didn’t know just *how* good! I sure feel safer with them around. 🙂
Wow… That’s just… Isane. I can’t believe he did that. I can understand paying hommage to an author (I did this unconsciously and a friend pointed it out and I was like, “Wow! Neil Gaiman really *DID* inspire me and influence my writing style) but still. Outright stealing from others? Come on! It’s easier and more fun to write your own stuff. I’m so sorry this happend to you Kristen!
I think you’ll need a few weeks just to process all of these responses. People keep making the same mistakes until they have decided to learn the lesson and move forward. Maybe this will be enough to make this Mim character clear out, unplug and pick up a tablet of paper, where he can find his own voice without the temptation of copy and paste. Or maybe he can get a prescription to deal with his sociopathic behavior. Someone who repeatedly deceives others could have a chemical imbalance!
Wishing you a sixth sense for B.S.!
That is crazy! It doesn’t seem like he did it because he was lazy but he seems just plain inept. I’m so sorry this happened to you but hopefully it will prevent someone else from getting burned. Thanks for sharing that story with us.
Hey. Hey! Stop beating yourself up. We are all guilty of not spotting problematic behavior every now and again. Some people just prefer to illegally ride the capes of those who are doing well rather than do the work themselves. They are not brave enough or healthy enough to strike out on their own. You have a good heart. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is a bright side to all of this. Now more of us know to keep a sharp eye out for plagiarists, whoever they are, thanks to your efforts. (HUGS)
That guy is truly scum! I have found the writer community to be incredibly generous and helpful. It is appalling that someone would take advantage of others by stealing their work. Kristen is one of the most giving bloggers I’ve come across. There is a special place in hell for creeps like Terrel Mims. I’m going to twitter this info to my followers. This info should go viral so hopefully there will not be more victims.
Great post, Kristin! I took you at your word and reposted with a link to your blog… you tell this cautionary tale in a really memorable way. Everybody loves a story, and man, is this a stinker of a story. It’s clear you used his real name… ay! Such a bad online reputation he must have!
Oops, forgot to leave you a link in case you want it. http://litlunchbox.com/2013/01/23/plagiarism-in-the-blogosphere/
Never call anything you do “Epic Stupid.” It creates the wrong self-image. Bad experience, definitely. Embarrassing, absolutely. But” Epic Stupid”, Nah! Just part of life’s unpleasant learning curves. Cuz here’s the thing, we like and respect you. Him – he’s like a bug under your foot.
No, HE’S the EPIC stupid. Who DOES this stuff these days and thinks they will get away with it? Again, don’t let him near your shower with a hair dryer,LOL.
Good — glad to hear I got it the wrong way round. In that case, “EPIC stupid” does not begin to cover it. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing. So many of us will learn from this incident.
The worst thing is the combination of trust betrayed and unrepentant trolling. But you will bounce back from this, I know it.
Egg on face? Been there, done that. All you can do is say mea culpa to the people whose work was stolen and hope they accept it. Lord only knows you’ve just written a hair-shirt-wearing, acme-coyote-boot-kicking self-flagellation blog piece! You have my sympathies! Let he who is without fault cast the first stone.
I could be mistaken but it seems like you’re downplaying plagiarism. It’s not an “oops, so sorry,” kind of deal.
Dude, I wish I could say I was shocked but I learned the hard way too.
I used to teach college courses in philosophy and I caught students plagiarizing ALL the time– I had one student plagiarize from Hallmark cards (I guess she cared enough to send the very best).
Another student who I believed in deeply, recommended for the honors program etc., turned out to have plagiarized all his papers– found that out after never seeing him again. It wasn’t until I taught for a few years that I learned the big tip off (where college plagiarists are concerned, anyway): prepositions. If I started seeing a lot of ‘regarding…’ and ‘via…’ and ‘excluding..’ in a paper, it was a total tip off… Don’t ask me why.
When I was in college, it was too much work to plagiarize– now, people can just type in some stuff to google and viola, insta-thoughts. One of the many reasons I’m thinking of moving into a yurt in Newfoundland.
I’ve been plagiarized in another context, and it stinks. When informed, the blog site didn’t even bother to take it down, and there was a byline crediting someone else. It would have been so easy to repost and give me credit. I just gave up the fight as being not worth the effort.
It did make me hyperaware that I need to cite sources. Even though all of my writing is entirely mine, I do cull ideas and information from others, and I want to be clear about that. In fact, I’m happy to send a reader to the source when the information there is quality stuff. It’s the simple “Do to others as you would have them do to you” principle.
You can send a DMCA notice to the web hosting company and have their entire website shut down. Here’s a link with more info:
(hugs) So sad. I always want to give folks the benefit of the doubt and second chances. It’s all the more horrible when they blow them.
I vividly remember this sordid mess from the first time round and thought Mims had crawled back under his rock for good. I also was very impressed at that time with the dignified way you handled the situation when you could have easily blasted him into the deepest black hole. You did what many people would not have considered and actually offered him an opportunity to make amends. I’m stunned he’s back at it. Excellent post, Kristin. Keep doing what you do!
Believe me, Kristen, no one who’s had any sort of dealings with you will think twice about your involvement with this shyster. Your name is still good!! Rock on.
Excellent information to have and share Kristen, thank you! I’m sure there are several pathological reasons to why plagiarism exists, e.g. a famished unhealthy ego with the rationale of “the end justifies the means, always!” I applaud your current attitude Kristen, but also to have the courage to do what was right: outting a plagiarist. You’re absolutely correct, there is never any reason to plagiarize; never.
I am pleased that I read your blog re: Plagarism I am pleased you and WANA gave that person
‘what for’ as we would say in UK. I thank you for your kindly attitude towards all people and you have still carried on and been bitten again, you are a ‘word hero’ I applaud and uphold you, I hold you in high esteem, You are my hero from a thankful person.
Awww, thanks, Sandra. *hugs*
Kristin, I’m sorry to hear Terrell Mims took advantage of your helpful nature! There are so many such people with all kinds of excuses for plagiarism, from panicky students under a deadline, to sociopaths who don’t care who they hurt. Kinda reminds me of the film version of SHATTERED GLASS. As you and others here said, the Internet is forever. We can only hope that might actually help us to nail plagiarists in the future, as well as making all of us learn from our fellow writers’ mistakes. Thanks for an eye-opening blog post!
Flame on, Kristen. Is that fraudster really named Terell? Can we hunt him down, you know, trace his emails and kill him with a thousand paper cuts?
Haven’t had any digital stuff stolen, but sent out a report once to a team I worked with and when we all met to present to Mr. Big and his minions, another of my teammates read the synopsis of my report word-for-word and claimed it as her own. EXCUSE ME? I quietly said it was a team effort, and confronted her afterward. She looked at me blankly and said she didn’t me it to come across as her work. I took her off the distribution list of all my work from then on. We do learn.
Guess who closed his Twitter account. Three guesses, no peeking!
I intend to succeed or fail on my own merits. Period.
I need a “like” button for this. 🙂
Great blog. When someone tarnishes you it never rubs off. You let the guy have it broadside. Good for you.
LOL! I saw all this happen again and couldn’t believe it. Thing that really makes me laugh is how he wanted everyone to believe that he went from plagiarizing Forbes to a reformed character in two tweets! Guess he forgot all that stuff about inventing believable characters 🙂
I’m so sorry he scammed you, Kristen. I’m so glad I never sought his critiques when I used to follow his blog. My hard drive crashed in Oct. 2011 when all the crap went down the first time, so I never knew about what happened. Unbelievable!
Oy, I have the same blessing/curse as you when it comes to seeing the best in people. Normally it works out for me, but every so often… Well, I’ve never been bit as badly as you described here, but it has made me a little more cynical. I’m glad you’re speaking out here – I think, sometimes, running out of grace is a good thing!
Hi Kristen, this seems like a really horrible time for you and I am sorry that it happened. Stealing other people’s work is one thing but making it seem that you were complicit in some way!!! Squalid behavior.
I have been meaning to ask someone about plagiarism because it is a grey area for me. When you said: “…when I talked to him on the phone, he was quite insightful about craft, frequently quoting books like The Writer’s Journey, Hooked, Save the Cat , Plot and Structure and Bullies, Bastards and Bitches.” I thought that was plagiarism right there, as in: he is taking ideas from these books. Is it only plagiarism if you copy something word for word? Also, people seem quite okay with others sharing their posts as long as they get credit. Would they have to get permission first?
I posted a little clip on YouTube on why I use Scrivener and saw it on someone else’s website a week later. Not that I cared; the idea was to spread the word and there was nothing in it for me, but next time there might be, so I would really appreciate if you could tell me what is acceptable.
Here is a link to one of the best explanations I have ever seen.
Wow! Thank you. Went and looked at that. It was fantastic. Have saved link.
I do not think you were naive. You did everything right. You acted with integrity and kindness. He took advantage of your circumstances to further his own agenda (which is shameful, by the way). He would have been outed as a copy cat eventually- your circumstances made it happen sooner.
That’s actually a cool point I hadn’t thought about. THANKS! *hugs*
Not only that, but your huge circle of friends and admirers, Kristen, makes his stupidity apparent to way more people than if he had done it to me, with my small circle of friends and followers, his shame would not be well known. Because you are a rock star in our world, he has been shamed in a huge world of writers and fans.
Wow… thanks for the heads-up. All I do on Twitter, really, is keep up with you and other bloggers/peeps I like/friends. I very rarely tweet or RT anything, and I don’t yet share my own content on social media. Yet I’ve gotten numerous Follows over the last few months by writers I’ve never heard of, and no offense to any of them that may have been legit, but when I get followed by someone I don’t know, whether we’re in the same circle or not, it sortof creeps me out. So I’ve blocked pretty much every single one of them–Including, I believe, this AuthorCDeLaune. As soon as I saw that handle mentioned it rang a bell.
Sometimes, you just can’t beat intuition. I’ll definitely be keeping an even closer eye out now.
I know how trusting someone like him can make you feel stupid, but it really isn’t your fault. He’s definitely a confidence man who found a unique niche. I was one of the Cracked authors he took from and his gall floored me. I’ve had plenty of work copied and pasted into blogs and forums when a simple link was all that was needed, but Terrell was the first to actually take full credit for my work and accept compliments for it. I’ve been writing since I was 15 and Cracked was my first real, paid-for work. After 20 years of working on a craft, to have it co-opted by some idiot who acted like he’d done the legwork was infuriating.
He’s claiming now that he was caught the second time that he’s born again. I suggested he reimburse you for the laptop and the $50 it cost to send it. I don’t think he will, and I really don’t expect him to change, but maybe some part of him feels guilty and it ruined his day. (Yes, I’m vindictive, but no one can argue that he doesn’t deserve it 😉 )
Wow. What a terrible person.
I’m still not sure how to use WANA.
I’ve been learning Microsoft Word. Replace “Terrell Mims” with “Bob Dylan”–
I just came across this older blog post. I’ve known Terrell Mims personally the last couple of years and I must say…he hasn’t changed at all! Lets just say I don’t count him as a friend any more and he’s currently loosing many other friends at the moment because he was recently discovered for major lying, manipulating, and he’s still the biggest moocher I’ve ever met! I’ve also personally experienced how he’s quick to apologize or admit something…ONLY IF HE’S CAUGHT OR THINKS HE’S ABOUT TO BE FOUND OUT AND ACCUSED! He also is very quick to say “I’ve changed. I’m no longer the same person”, but I’ve personally witnessed how quickly he’ll contradict himself by word or action. A walking hypocrite, but a master manipulator. He’s been hurting a lot of people and some of them I’m very close to. I’m very SORRY he did what he did to you and that he took advantage of your kindness and situation back then. 🙁 It makes me sick! He has enough people angry with him here that he may actually move away. We’ll see…