Excerpts from both books (see screenshots below for more):
Chapter Two, first paragraph, Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 - The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.
Chapter Two, first paragraph, Sam Taylor Mullens, Auction Deal 2014 - Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.
I finished my novel in late 1996, and it first came out in August 1998. It was actually the second novel accepted by my publisher, but they made me write two sequels to my first novel before they released A Bid for Love (then called Love to the Highest Bidder).
Follow Up to This Reviewer: A fellow writer contacted Sheri Dew for accuracy of this claim, please see results later in this blog after the emails exchanged with Mullens.
Around that time I received a public Facebook message from Mercedes Drakos, the so-called “niece of Sheri Dew,” that she had “lost all respect for Rachel Ann Nunes” because of my querying about the infringement. I'm not sure when a polite query became harassment, but I suppose it looks that way from the sandy ground where Mullens is standing.
I am contacting you today as a personal, real-life friend of Sam Taylor Mullens. She is a remarkable mother, wife, teacher, community member and so much more.
I was part of the writing group where “The Auction Deal” got started over two years ago. A man in our writing group gave Sam the manuscript claiming the book was out of print and he stated he had collaborated in some way with it many, many years ago. He challenged Sam to ‘work her magic’ and honestly it was quite fun to watch.
At the time, for some strange reason there were no copies we could locate and Sam took this man’s word. In the meantime, we had no idea you renamed, recovered and digitalized your original work. Perhaps this is the reason it was not discovered. Who knows?
The man in our writing group claiming he collaborated originally in the novel died in a tragic car accident last May. Sam and I do not feel comfortable at this time interrogating his family about his collaboration.
Being an Indie Author has been a new learning experience for Sam and I try to help and support her along the way. I feel at fault for not giving her more guidance. Sam would never maliciously do anything or intentionally defile copyright laws. She does not publish to make a living, this is a hobby for her. Her only goal is to recoup costs for final editing, digital formatting and the cost of her book cover. I was the one to suggest she not turn over the ARC and simply not publish. I didn’t consider that would make her look guilty. Sam felt it was a simple, congenial solution and I agreed.
As an Indie Author Sam helps promote other Indie Romance Writers and runs anti-bullying campaigns among book bloggers, reviewers, readers and Indie Authors on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, etc. Indie Publishing is a pretty cruel world and Sam has been the voice of reason and is highly respected.
Due to the manner in which you went about investigating the Advance Reader Copy of The Auction Deal has caused Sam to withdraw from the Indie Author Community, which is a shame. There will be a significant loss without her.
The second the ‘eerie coincidences’ came to Sam’s attention she took the appropriate action to ask Goodreads to take down the link and informed those who received ARC’s that it would not be published. She has also been torn apart since Sunday. She feels like she was 'dooped' by a fellow writing that she cannot question.
The readers/reviewers are also very upset over how it was handled. I agree with them. This situation is between you and Sam. Her email is posted on her Goodreads page, her blog and her Facebook page. She should have been the only person you contacted. After looking at her email, I believe she responded to you in a timely manner.
In real-life Sam is the mother of an autistic son, she counsels women at a domestic violence shelter, she provides support at the Ute and Navajo reservations and teaches illiterate, young moms in the classroom. She is nothing less than amazing.
I will take equal if not full responsibility for anything in this situation. Please do not discredit this wonderful woman in a small Indie Publishing community. They need her.
Besides, Rachel's book has been out on ebook (and Goodreads) for almost four years and third print edition since 2012.
Again, if she has nothing to hide, she should hand it over herself.
I have never given anyone permission to use my work in any novel. Period. And this book has already been for sale in the UK. (See the screenshot below).
To the reviewers who have had the courage to act, I also thank you for your kindness to a stranger.
Update 8/9/2014: One of STM's supporters, Bethany Booklover Johnson (from Avid Reader review--please report any information you may have on her or any of the other three "Booklover" reviewers), also publicly harassed the blogger from The Cutest Blog on the Block for speaking out against this plagiarism. She emailed authors and told them the blogger had sold ARCs and to not submit additional material to her. You can read about it here and voice your support for Crystal.
Update 8/11/2014: Everything is in the hands of my attorney now. The Avid Reader one-star reviews have been taken down from Amazon, along with all her other reviews. The two reviews from Simple Book Reviews are still there (see screen shot below), but that's okay. Please know how grateful I am for all the support! I don't know how I can tell you all separately, but I have read your comments, and I don't feel alone. At the urging of my friend David Farland, we have started a GoFundMe account to help with attorney fees, and when my attorney is ready to send out a news release or update, I will post it here. For now, they want me to step back and try to get back my life a little. So thank you!
Update 8/14/2014: Review from Simple Book Reviews have disappeared and the reviewer name on the account changed to Jennifer Greer and then later to "moonshine and books." All her other reviews are still there. Abby F., Jennifer Greer, Jennifer Booklover, and Aubrey P., (all known alias of STM) have become active on the internet again, posting harassing comments.
Update 8/16/2014: Research has shown that on one of STM's Amazon accounts (then called Siimple Book Reviews), a review was left on my plagiarized book in early May 2014. It read (complete with typos): "Why are authors uploaded their outdated books without revising them first??? The whole series is collecting dust. I'm nornmally not so brutal on a review, but this was bad. Sorry Rachel Ann Nunes - keep it on the shelf in the library not upload in this century on Amazon." (Note the writing similarities above with reviewer #5).
Update 8/27/2014: We will make an important announcement soon regarding this case. Thank you for all your tips and continued support!
Important update 9/12/2014--I've just deleted two of the last names mentioned on the 8/14/2014 update because we learned today that STM used some of her students REAL names for these aliases. Fourteen in all, including two of the ones above. Sadly, she has also stolen the story of a combat vet. You can read a letter from his wife here.
|Rachel Ann Nunes Chapter One|
|Sam Taylor Mullens Chapter One|
|Rachel Ann Nunes Chapter Two|
|Sam Taylor Mullens Chapter Two|