Now it’s MY turn for a “clarification”…

Oy vey. What a spectacular, disturbing last two days it’s been. Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the epicenter of a plagiarism scandal apparently involving the darling of the young adult (YA) book world. Never in a million years did I think I’d have to defend myself as the victim. But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

By now most of you have read my post, B*tch stole my content! Plagiarism: How to Deal with a Thief, and B of Beautifully Invisible’s post, I Think We’ve Been Plagiarized… Sort of: The Story of the Content Thief. And many of you have read (and I’m finally, and only just now actually mentioning the name of the plagiarist here), the “apology” and “clarification” posts by Kristi of The Story Siren that are so vague people in the YA blogging world have had to tweet each other to find out exactly what the hey happened.

What did happen?

Let’s clear that up right now: PLAGIARISM happened.

She lifted content from our sites, reworked it, and passed it off as her own. She didn’t just “borrow” the format of a page, but reworked more than six articles on blogging, not books (the telltale sign). There was no “inspired by,” no link back, no permission asked, no nothing. SHE stole from US. That’s the clarification she omitted that you all are looking for.

Note: B and I would never make this most unholy accusation if we weren’t positive of it. If all the evidence offered in our original posts isn’t sufficient, you should read B’s latest post, where she breaks it down even more: A Tale of Plagiarism Continued: Clarification of The Story Siren’s Clarification.

To the people who are defending Kristi and skewering, us, the victims…

Beautifully Invisible and I did not name her on Twitter—or at all. Your book blogging community did. They put the situation out there three months after it actually happened.

We did not create any hashtags related to her. Your book blogging community did. We do not condone bullying (I have blogged about that very topic) and we would never take such a petulant approach toward a very serious matter. Neither of us needs an army to legitimize our claims.

We had no idea she was this big deal book blogger since our realm is fashion blogging. Comments I’ve seen about us wanting traffic and views out of this is ridiculous. If that were the case WE would have blown the lid off when it happened in January. All we knew is that she was someone who had stolen our work.

Along the same lines, saying that we cooked this up because we are jealous of someone we never even knew is absolute idiocy of the highest order. Now that Kristi is intimately familiar with the concept of IP addresses, I would defy her to find an instance where either of us ever visited her site before we made the discovery in January. We never have.

And in my world, jealousy is a wasted emotion. People who are jealous are usually unhappy with their lives. I am neither jealous nor unhappy.

To all of you who have commented: What’s the big deal? Why are they taking this so seriously? Let’s see your reaction when the posts you have worked on for hours are stolen, altered, and someone else is getting credit, traffic, and ad dollars for your work. Shame on all of you who think that protecting intellectual property isn’t serious or worthwhile. Why do you think you can’t download from iTunes once and share the song with the world for free? Because those melodies and lyrics are the livelihood of artists. Of course, any of you who want to spin your wheels and build up someone else’s reputation or line someone else’s pockets as a result…be my guest.

To all of you who have commented: She just made a mistake. It’s OK. Yes, she did make a mistake—a glaring, horrendous error in judgment when she decided to come over to our blogs, study them, then rework the content and publish it on hers. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE. Which is why we had no choice but to confront her about it.

What has been particularly galling is her inability to actually 100% own this “mistake.” As you can see from her first non-apology posted April 23, 2012, we were never mentioned. She supposedly apologized to her readers, but not us, the bloggers she plagiarized. In her “clarification” posted April 24, 2012, she wrote:

“To Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible, I extend my deepest apologies. Please do not judge the book blogging community by my mistakes.”

Please do not judge the book blogging community? Does she really think that’s what I’m thinking about? No offense, but why would we even care about the book blogging community? It’s a weak apology at best. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t expect anything better than that.

To all of you who have commented: They just regurgitated how-to’s from the Internet. We are well aware that there are all kinds of how-to-blog-better articles out there. Let me set the record straight on this: ours were not regurgitations, but our own, authentic, original (and apparently covetable) posts. We spent hours on them.

To have people discredit our time, energy and original work as an excuse in defending her is highly offensive. No matter how you slice it, the work was ours, not hers—or anybody else’s.

To all of you who have commented: It’s one-sided. It’s a witch hunt. Uh, no and no—or at least, B and I are not the ones on the witch hunt. It has never been one-sided. We didn’t just arbitrarily make a claim. We confronted her about it. And she responded to us and to you all with every I was subliminally inspired/it was an accident/unintentional excuse in the book. And then she had the audacity to lie about her actions, and we showed you the proof.

We have never been on a witch hunt—just a hunt for the truth and a genuine and sincere apology. You should note that she’s never denied the accusations (uh, wouldn’t YOU if you were INNOCENT?), but still dances around the truth in her “clarification” on April 24:

“When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong.”

Some commenters on other blogs have indicated that she should be reported to publishers, and some also said that we should be the ones to do it.  Now THAT is a witch hunt. I have no intention of reporting anyone. I could care less if she keeps blogging or not, whether she’s blacklisted by the book blogging community or publishers. I only care if she steals my content. Clearly, that’s not going to happen again.

To all of you who think we don’t fully understand copyrights and plagiarism: I want you to know that I am a hobby blogger. This is not my full-time job. You know what my “real” job is? I’m a Web writer and editor, a content developer—not a “wanna-be writer,” not someone with aspirations—but a bonafide, paid writer.

Tweeting with someone yesterday, I noted that the ultimate insult is that people think I do not know how all this plagiarism stuff works because—gasp!—I’m just a fashion blogger. 

I’m not just a fashion blogger. I have a Master’s Degree in English/Technical and Professional Writing, and I have published in magazines, papers, and online. I KNOW THE RULES OF WRITING. I KNOW WHAT PLAGIARISM IS.

I would never, ever pass someone’s work off as my own, because my voice and integrity are not only all I have as a writer, to do something like that would end my career, and my income. I resent having my name dragged through the mud because of a situation I did not bring upon myself.

To all of you who thought I was calling Kristi names because of my “B*tch stole my content…” title: You obviously didn’t read all the way through and see that at the bottom of that post, I properly attributed the “B*tch stole my” saying to the tongue-in-cheek E! Fashion Police segment, B*tch Stole My Look!  No one is actually calling anyone any names, on the show or in my post. It’s an expression used in fashion and entertainment.

To Kristi:

So you made a “mistake” and apologized. We know you will never write: To Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible, I am truly sorry for plagiarizing your content. It’s pretty clear in your statement on April 24 that the only person you are sorry for is you, because you’ve tarnished your reputation as a “leader”:

“I am truly sorry for all the trouble that this has caused the book blogging community. That’s my biggest regret. You gave me your respect and I let you down. I took a role as a leader and I didn’t take my actions into account as it would reflect on the community as a whole. For that I am truly sorry.

…I know that I have disappointed many of you. That is heartbreaking to me. I am still the same person that you have come to know through the years. I just really screwed up.”

Not “truly sorry” for plagiarism, but “truly sorry…for all the trouble that this has caused.” Fine. Extend us your “deepest apologies.” Whatever. The damage, as you well know, is done.

You know what would have been refreshing? For you to tell your followers that slandering us, that hurling wild accusations at us because they are hurt and disappointed is not the way this should be handled. I hope you know that when all this hit Twitter and beyond, B and I were the ones who let people know that cyber-bullying—via hashtag or any other way—is wrong. Uh, that’s a defense on your behalf. We never started it or participated in any name calling or spread any unfounded accusations.

It would have been nice if instead of only doing your own reputation damage control, you had extended us the same courtesy and communicated to your followers that WE are not the ones at fault here, and we do not deserve to be attacked any more than you do. 

Would have been nice. But again, the damage—to all parties involved—is done.

Being that you’re bookish, I’ll close with an all-time favorite quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:


  1. I had no idea of all this until earlier today as I follow a number of book blogs and saw it on Twitter too. I read both yours and Beautifully Invisible’s multiple posts on the subjects and have to applaud your initial reactions and responses since then. Way to go, ladies. Personally, I never followed the book blogger’s blog in question, although I did “follow” her on Twitter once upon a time before I got sick of all of her giveaways. However, I won’t “follow” her again or read anything to do with her “meme,” although I’m not really into a lot of memes. I participate in one or two here or there. Anyway, again, just wanted to let you know I think both you and B. responded appropriately, with anger but also with reason. Nicely done.

  2. Go Vahni! You tell ’em! Your views and posts on plagarism have been so helpful to many out there in the fashion blogging community and beyond. I’m gonna retweet this for sure. It sounds like such a mess but its so inspiring to see you defend your patch with the kind of dignity and integrity that we love you for. Love how you pointed out that you are a paid writer for a living hah! Wannabe writer my backside. You rock! Keep fighting the good fight!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly that you and your fellow bloggers were victims, and deserve a decent apology at the very least. In addition, I am also pretty horrified that the fact that the woman who stole your work is a young adult book blogger is being kind of glossed over by many of the people in this terrible brouhaha. I can only assume, based on her content, that many of her readers are kids, tweens, young adults. Whatever you want to call them they’re impressionable minds. I feel that people who work with kids have an additional duty to integrity above and beyond even what we all have as humans. It’s clear here that you and your friends are FAR better role models for kids, and should be held up as examples not demonized by the very community that caters to kids.

  4. I used to visit Kristi maybe 2 times a week or so. She was so influential to me being the Queen Bee of the book world. Publishers love her and she gets all the books she wants. I used to visit her for her (your) blogging tips in good faith that she was writing those herself. I was shocked and disappointed to find out all this time those blogs I thought were her hard work wasnt even hers. I have since stopped going to her blog and I am no longer participating in her weekly Sunday meme In My Mailbox.

    You girls have had my support since this broke, and I am so saddened that her minions would attack you both. Unforutunately such is her stronghold in the community and so whilst I know majority of people feel the same ways me, there are many people who will continue to support her, because they get hits from her, they reap the benefits of being ‘friends’ with the girl at the top.

    That being said you have both dealt with this whole thing with such professionalism. I didn’t visit fashion blogs before but now I have two amazing ones bookmarked. 🙂 I will continue to read YOUR blogger tips. xx

  5. Man, what a situation! I am sorry for all you had to go through! So much ill-informed people, and attacking you guys? So uncalled for. Kristi handled this horridly and I just want to say that 1)I’m sorry you guys had to deal with this 2)your situation gave me the push to get analytics on my blog 3)hopefully all the intelligent posts that I have seen coming out of this (including yours) will help educate some people on what plagiarism actually is. Again, so sorry for all your troubles. You have my support 🙂

  6. I hope the storm has abated for now.
    You conduct through this has been balanced and extremely fair. I hope you never have to go through it again.
    and no, the internet doesn´t have a Dean, but it never forgets either.

  7. First of all, you are awesome.

    The people attacking you and the other victim of Kristi’s thievery are the real bullies. I wish Kristi had been much more clear in her “clarification” posts (perhaps she needs to look up that definition along with plagiarism), because she really does her best to sound like a victim. The only thing clear about it was that it caused a lot of confusion, and caused lots of her followers to defend her even without having a clue as to what she’d done. I do hold her somewhat responsible for some of her defenders actions, because she’s done nothing to dissuade them. You and
    B of Beautifully Invisible have been more than fair and gracious in your handling of the original plagiarism and it’s more recent fall out.

    And I’m a proud new follower of this “just a fashion blogger’s” site. 😉

  8. There is something really wrong when I feel glad that I’m just a plain old bookblogger, without the “YA” in front. Not that this makes a big difference. I feel horribly ashamed about potentially being associated with the people who sent you hate-mail, who acted this immature and with Kristi. *cuts ties* And wow. Your reaction.. I’m not sure I could deal with it this well. If I hadn’t already respected you for dealing with the initial problem so very well in the first place, I would now. Don’t think I can add anything to what has already been said.. (Especially because I’m good at reading, not writing ;D) So I’ll just leave it at this. *sigh*

  9. (copied directly from my comment over at Beautifully Invisible):

    I confess that I still don’t understand why you agreed to keep the identity of the plagiarist secret back in January when you first discovered the theft, but I commend both you and Grit and Glamour for having a helluva lot of class and maturity.

    Take care of yourselves and keep yourselves safe (retaliation harassment is a horrible thing), but know that there are many, many people who do know that you are the victims here.

  10. Oh my God! This makes me feel fortunate that my blog content has “only” been stolen by spam blogs. I’d be much more irritated if a real person rewrote my shit!

    You’re certainly dealing with this in a commendable way.

  11. I just wanted to extend my sympathy. It’s bad enough to have a crime committed against you, but then to be attacked on top of that…I’m very sorry. I think you’ve behaved with marvelous restraint.

  12. Mwahahaha. Let me start of my saying I absolutely love the use of hamlet in this post. It was a fine way of stating the truth!! If you cant tell by my name, I am a nook blogger (yea you probably knew that, but I felt the need to say it anyway) I have just read the many many posts about the thief and initially I was Shocked. I mean, I follow(ed) her. I read those posts and made sure my blog complied (ive only been blogging for a little while. Makes sense to learn from the “pros”) but to find out she plagarised pissed me off. Granted, you see things every day and think “wow that’s a wonderful point. I’d like to use that someday.” I say it all the time. Usually, I never get to use it, but I remember one time I did, I spent 45 minutes trying to remember where I got it from so I could give credit. On the times I couldnt remember, I either didnt use the info or blatantly said (in conversation because this was before I had a blog) that “I remember someone saying…blah blah blah” It’s just common courtesy. I’m sorry this happened to you and your blogging friends. Just know that even a lot of the book bloggers are on your side.

    I’m not one who normally speaks up for myself, and so I used to think I wouldnt say anything if something like this happened to me, however, thanks to you and the bravery of your friend bloggers, I know how to do it correctly if it ever happens, and I dont think I’d let it go unnoticed. Thanks!

  13. Hello!!! Or better:
    Dear Vahni!!!

    Don’t know what to say or how to begin! However: this is brilliant! I love reading your blog because of your opinions, way of writing, advices, outfits,etc. and although I know you only via reading, I felt very proud when you announced that you’re contributor on IFB! I am also fashion blogger (on blogger, know how much you love wordpress, but so far I’m okay with this) and know how much time is necessary to make post, write it, edit it,… and then see that someone has stolen it! Fortunately, it never happened to me, but can sympathise with you. Once I saw that one (poor & unoriginal) girl totally copied Rumi Neely’s post (& even header & font), and I told to her, but there was no reactions, so probably it doesn’t bother this one to copy and the other one to be copied. You have good blogging buddies so you haven’t had sooooo many problems with solving it and the audience accepted it well!!! As I can see – you are very smart, high educated woman who knows how to stand and fight for your rights (and share it with others), no matter is it on internet or in real life! You have my support!!!
    Love yer blog & looking forward for reading new posts (with not this topic as a content 🙂


    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Anika! I so appreciate your readership and ongoing support.

  14. You’re amazing and I cannot believe you are getting backlash for being a victim. I love this post and reading it, I can totally *hear* you saying it out loud to me. Kudos to you, my wonderful friend, for defending your intellectual property and setting the standard for bloggers everywhere! Bravo!!

  15. Ouch! I was directed here by another site. Sorry to hear about your hard work being plagiarized. It seems to be going around. Some of the things I’ve done in a group was taken and “reworded”. I’ve had another friend who’s entire site was stolen, down to her screenshots showing her name!

    Your blog isn’t really one I’d follow since I’m more of a book follower than fashion follower. I can say that your website is very pleasing to the eye. That’s probably why it was plagiarized. 🙁

  16. Kudos to you two for the way you have continued to handle this ugly situation. I tell ya…I haven’t been following you ladies that long, but it’s been long enough for me to you know that you two are not to be messed with! Watch out yall…these kittens have claws!! lol 😉 Keep it up ladies!

  17. I am a member of the book blogging community and could not believe what happened to you. I know Kristi has still not apologized directly to you, and that fact is an embarrassment to the book blogging community as a whole. Please know that there are so many of us who have stopped following Kristi in all forms, and we fully support you and how you handled things. To be perfectly honest, her mindless minions make me sick. They defend her without examining the facts. It is ridiculous!
    I don’t mean to stir the pot, but thought you might like to know that Kristi has declared this week ‘plagiarism week’ on her blog and says she is using this as an opportunity to educate everyone about plagiarism. I take offense to the fact that she assumes the rest of us don’t know what constitutes plagiarism and thinks that we, along with her, need to be educated about plagiarism. Silly me, thought you already did that!

  18. A HUGE, HUGE thank you to all of you who left comments, shared your thoughts, tweeted, and posted on this topic on you own blogs! Your support has been mind-blowing. Thank you so very much.

    Remember, there is NEVER anything wrong with protecting your intellectual property, in fact we MUST! I hope that none of you ever have to experience something like this, but if you do, please know that you must speak up, and you will have a network of support behind you!

    Plagiarism is dishonest and deceitful.

    All you have to do to prevent committing plagiarism is:

    1. Note if you were inspired by another blogger’s post, or if your post cites info from someone else.
    2. Put verbatim text in quotation marks.
    3. ALWAYS include a clear link back to your source(s)!

    That’s it. If only TSS had done that, this never would never have happened.

  19. I am always amazed at the excuses and deflection tactics copycats use. Openly apologizing to you, I think, could have legal implications for her. Her fans are just as deranged and even worry as they do not see her behavior as “bad”, and yours as “jealousy”. Sound like a defensive maneuver. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Elaine, forgive the tardiness of my response to your comment. But thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, and for your apology, even though it’s certainly not your fault!

      The little sycophants that follow her…I can’t even let them bother me. Some people just cannot deal with the truth or learn from issues like this—so I’m sure they will continue to be duped their entire lives!

  20. Maybe I’m not being at all political or nice, but she is a b*tch, anyway. Not just for plagiarizing, because people do break down, sometimes, I guess, though that’s still unacceptable, but because she didn’t fully apologize, nor did she say that you or Beautifully Invisible were victimized. What drama. Gives all us bookish a bad name, I must say.
    My support may not mean much, but…
    Stay strong!

    1. Hi Kim…thanks again for ALL your comments! She can do what she wants, you know? It’s not MY conscience or reputation that is suffering. They can all spin it ten ways from Sunday, but she and B and I know THE TRUTH.

      And your support means a lot! Without readers and interaction, I’m just a girl typing away on a lonely little island, and that’s no fun.

  21. I found you because you pinned some instagram icons I’d made & incidentally stumbled on this post. Just visited Beautifully Invisible. The most that has ever happened to me is that someone reposted an entire post of mine, but they did link back to me all over the place & removed most of the images promptly when I asked them to. Even that felt violating somehow! It takes so much effort to write each post & I cannot imagine someone copying entire posts day after day & not thinking anything of it until you’re called out. I’m glad you guys found out sooner rather than much later. There is absolutely no excuse for Kristi’s plagarism. Unbelievable.

    1. Hi Caroline…thank you and welcome! I appreciate your comment. The plagiarism we experienced was definitely frustrating AND unbelievable, but ultimately, I sleep well at night. Wasn’t me who stole and lied about it!

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