The Art of the (Non) Apology

Just when I thought things had calmed down…

The Story Siren (TSS) recently launched a week-long series on plagiarism meant to educate both herself and her readers.  Although a good idea in theory, it has also reopened wounds that are not yet healed and reawakened some feelings of anger and—quite frankly—sadness about the whole situation.

It has also dredged up discussion about apologies, personal attacks and moving on. I can’t speak to the feelings of the other bloggers whose work was stolen, but I can try to illustrate why it is that I have not yet been able to forgive Kristi for her actions (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, this covers it).  It is not my intent to attack her in any way… instead I want to use this experience to facilitate a discussion about non-apologies and their ineffectiveness.

A Clarification

Before I go on, I want to point something out that I feel has gotten lost in this drama:

Grit and Glamour and I were not the only two people Kristi stole from.  She also plagiarized Fajr of Stylish Thought and a guest post that Jamillah of Made to Travel wrote for my blog.

Let me repeat that.

Kristi lifted content from FOUR different authors on THREE separate blogs, and…

We, the bloggers who were plagiarized, have yet to receive a true apology from her.

UPDATE: 4:35 pm EST on 5/23/12: Grit and Glamour commented below and her words deserve to be included in the post itself:

“And the other thing no one else knows—and they should:

WE HAVE NEVER RECEIVED A PERSONAL EMAIL FROM HER TO APOLOGIZE SINCERELY OR ASK HOW WE COULD WORK TOGETHER TO GET PAST IT.  Just the initial correspondence and nothing since it exploded online.

She had our email addresses. She can find us on our blogs…she did the first time and many times after. She can find us on Twitter. She never has. That, to me is proof of guilt, immaturity, and the inability to own up to her actions. And perhaps even fear.”

- Vahni of Grit and Glamour

The Famous Non-Apology Apology

A non-apology occurs when a person is compelled to express regret while—in actuality—accepting no blame or responsibility for their actions.  In a non-apology, the person at fault shows no real remorse for the wrongdoing and, instead, makes excuses and makes themselves appear to be a victim.  In a non-apology, the offending actions are not clearly described and are instead only hinted at. A non-apology is damage control at its worst.

plagiarism and copyright infringement  The Art of the (Non) Apology

image by thebigharumph via 

True apologies are direct, clear and brief.  They are not supplemented with excuses and justifications.  They do not suggest that someone’s actions or intent were misinterpreted.  They are transparent and outline the wrongs that were done.  They are authentic. They are damage control at its best.

As of now, the four wronged bloggers have yet to receive a true apology from Kristi.  All we have gotten is non-apology after non-apology.

“I’m sorry, but I am not guilty…”

… I would never intentionally take someone’s content and pass it off as my own. As you mentioned I am an advocate against this behavior and believe there is no excuse for it. I sincerely apologize for putting you and your friends in this situation.  In all honestly, I have never been to your blog or any of the blogs mentioned in this email until tonight when I cross referenced the posts that you had listed. I rarely if ever read blogs beyond the book blog community. But I could not agree more with your assessments of the posts. And I am sorry to say that I have no viable explantation. I even searched my web history to see if perhaps I had read the posts and had recalled them as I was writing my own… As I’ve mentioned initially, I would never intentionally copy content and I’m more than happy to rectify the situation in whatever way works best…”  

– Email from Kristi of TSS, 01-20-2012

This is a non-apology at its finest.

When we initially approached Kristi we gave her the opportunity to handle the situation professionally and admit her actions; instead she denied them and lied about her knowledge of our websites.  If she had simply accepted responsibility for what she had done with no excuses—and complete transparency—it would have ended here.  Instead, her “apologies” were negated by her outright lies and refusal to accept full responsibility for the situation.

This is when things escalated and we presented her with the IP evidence documenting the time spent on our websites.  At this point we asked her to remove all the posts in question and requested that she publish a post on The Story Siren that would serve as a public apology to the 4 bloggers whose work she plagiarized.  We felt strongly that her readers, and the authors and agents she works with, had a right to know that a blogger they respect knowingly plagiarized fellow bloggers.

This request led to more non-apologies.

“I am sorry… for the wrong thing”

I have since deleted all the posts from my blog and from any social media accounts. I apologize again for the inconveniences this has caused you.”

– Email from Kristi Diehm, 01-23-2012

When you are apologizing to someone, please don’t lose sight of what you should be apologizing for.  The issue here was not that we were inconvenienced. It was that we were plagiarized.

“I’m sorry I got caught, now here are my excuses”

I’m was not being dishonest in my admission of not having visited your blogs. As far as I knew I had not. I know that seems convenient in this instance, but I visit hundred’s of blogs a week and I simply cannot remember them all… However, in mentioning your specific Blogger to WordPress posts, I do admit, yes I did recently consult them in my own move. I thought they were wonderful posts. I did not recognize your blog upon my revisit of the posts in question… I apologize for not remembering a blog that I visited months ago.”

– Email from Kristi Diehm, 01-23-2012

When apologizing, don’t be dishonest about your actions.  We had proof that showed each visit to our blogs did not occur months ago, as she suggested, but as recently as January 11th and January 19th, 2012.  We reached out to her on January 20th, 2012.  That wasn’t “months ago” it was the day before. Excuses and dishonesty just weaken the apology further.

“I am sorry… but I am a victim here!”

… As I mentioned in my email earlier I would never do something to jeopardize what has taken me years to build. I understand that this a very frustrating situation for you, but I don’t see how taking that away from me is going to improve the situation. What I did was wrong, knowingly or not and I apologize for that.” 

– Email from Kristi Diehm, 01-23-2012

In a true apology, one should never paint themselves the victim as Kristi did above. We weren’t—and still aren’t—out to destroy Kristi, her work, or her reputation.  We have never attacked her personally and this post isn’t meant to do so either.

“I am sorry… but I still can’t bring myself to say why”

I apologize for my actions and for the disruption I have caused all of you. This has been a very eye-opening experience for me. I assure you… You, nor anyone else, will never need to contact me regarding this issue ever again.”

- Email from Kristi Diehm, 01-24-2012

This almost sounds sincere.  Except in order to truly be sorry for your actions you have to admit the mistake you made.  Kristi did not own up to her plagiarism in any of her prior emails (it was all a huge coincidence! I never visited your sites!), so which actions was she referring to here? The inconvenience she mentioned earlier? The lies? The denials? The disruption?  Again, no clarity.  This reads more like “I am sorry that you took this so personally.”  How can we forgive if the person at fault can’t find the right words?

All we ever asked of Kristi was that she take full responsibility for what she had done and stop making excuses. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we dropped it. We didn’t force her to go public and decided to use this as a teaching experience on our own blogs. Given that our niches rarely cross paths (until now), we never expected this to come out.

What is the one thing she has never said in her emails (or elsewhere)? “I am sorry I plagiarized your work.” Period. End of sentence.

The truth goes public

Though our initial contact with Kristi occurred in January, things went public in April.  We did not out her. Her own book blogging community did and things got heated.

I’m not going to discuss the first apology she posted on TSS because she admitted she was emotional when she wrote it and had to clarify her comments with a second one.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, that second apology was also a non-apology.

“I’m sorry… but not to the right people”

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.”

– Clarification post on TSS, 04-24-2012

A public apology should start with a message to the people you directly wronged.  Those indirectly affected also deserve an apology, yes, but the apology shouldn’t initially be directed to them.

“I’m sorry I got caught… now I am going to change my story”

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… I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong. I read a post, I thought it was interesting and wanted to make it into something that would be relevant for book blogging.”

– Clarification post on TSS, 04-24-2012

Chances are the people you wronged will be seeing your public apology so this is not the time to change your story.  In this case, Kristi did deny the facts in her correspondence to us.  Repeatedly. She also denied her actions.  Repeatedly.

“I’m sorry… that my reputation was hurt by this”

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. I am sorry for the strain that I have put on the blogger/author/publisher relationship. I for one have worked hard to lessen that strain, and it seems that all of that work may have been lost in this mistake.”

– Clarification post on TSS, 04-24-2012

The key to a successful public apology is clarity.  By this point Kristy had apologized for everything except intentionally plagiarizing fellow bloggers.

“I’m sorry… because I am expected to be”

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

– Clarification post on TSS, 04-24-2012

There are so many things wrong with this particular statement I don’t know where to begin.  First, what is the apology for?  Deliberately plagiarizing our work?  Getting caught?  Inconveniencing us? Representing the YA book blogging community?  Why would we judge others based on the actions of one person?

What about the two other bloggers that were plagiarized?  Do they not deserve an apology because they have stayed quiet?

Again, if you are going to publicly apologize to the people  that were wronged, be transparent about it!

If I had been in Kristi’s shoes I would have said: “To the four bloggers I plagiarized, I am sorry for my actions.  I am sorry that I denied it.  I am sorry I tried to make it sound like a misunderstanding and a mistake.  It wasn’t. I knew what I was doing and take full responsibility for my actions.  I hope you’ll be able to forgive me one day.”

Plagiarism revisted…

As I mentioned above, The Story Siren recently kicked off a week-long educational series about plagiarism that includes more non-apologies.

“I’m sorry it’s public… so let’s downplay what I did”

Hello, my name is Kristi, the Story Siren and I am a plagiarist… How did it happen? I’m not really sure I realized I’d crossed the line I’d been so adamant against, but I did. I suppose it happened because there was something I wanted to say, and I couldn’t find the right words to say it. I was asked a question about a blogging topic and went in search of inspiration. I came across a couple of posts that seemed like I could have written them myself — they expressed exactly what I wanted to, in the way that I wanted to…

I wanted to make it relevant to book bloggers. I knew I couldn’t use their words — not exactly as written — so I added words of my own and subtracted a few of theirs. In my mind, I had done enough to make it mine; it was my voice. But I was wrong. I screwed up.”

– Let’s Talk about Plagiarism post on TSS, 05-21-2012

Again, these comments are riddled with excuses that downplay what happened.  The phrase “I’m not really sure I realized” attempts to remove culpability.  The phrase “a couple of posts” downplays the fact that this happened six times and to multiple (four!) bloggers.

Then she goes on to admit that she copied the posts in question and made a few small tweaks.  That shows intent.  Plain and simple.    Intent indicates that she knowingly plagiarized.  It was no accident.

“I’m sorry… I made a big mess of things”

And I screwed up even more when they called me on it. I tried to deny it, because I didn’t want to believe it myself. I tried to keep it private, because I didn’t want to be judged.”

But when it all came out anyway, that just made everything seem even more deceitful. I should have admitted I was wrong right away. But I didn’t.”

Let’s Talk about Plagiarism post on TSS, 05-21-2012

So close… but yet again, she stopped short of true transparency.  After this post went live on The Story Siren, I noticed a slight spike in my own blog traffic.  People were coming to my site after searching “Story Siren plagiarism” because they still didn’t know what she was talking about.  Everything is still being discussed in vague, nondescript terms.  How can you truly be an advocate against plagiarism when you can’t be transparent about your own actions?

“I’m sorry… but it could have been all of you!”

… an author contacted me and suggested I look at this as an opportunity. She said, “A lot of young people, bloggers and writers read your blog, and all of them have probably walked that plagiarism line at least once, whether they are willing to admit it or not…” She asked me to consider hosting a discussion about plagiarism, to help all of us figure out what it is, why it’s wrong, and how we can all avoid doing it in the future.”

Let’s Talk about Plagiarism post on TSS, 05-21-2012

I’ll be the first to admit that we all make mistakes.  None of us are perfect.  But the above statement gets my blood boiling.  Again, it takes responsibility away from Kristi by suggesting that everyone (“all of them” “all of us” “we can all”) needs a lesson in plagiarism because everyone does it.  I have a Bachelors in English and have a career that involves plenty of writing.  I can guarantee you this is one line I have not walked.

Why Non-Apologies Don’t Work

There is a misconception that simply saying “I am sorry” fixes everything.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  More important than those three little words are the way the apology is presented and the tone behind it.  Transparency and directness are key ingredients in making the wronged parties feel like the apology is an authentic one.

Excuses, double-talk, misrepresentations, half-truths and denials negate every “I am sorry” they are coupled with.

To those that believe we need to move on and that Kristi has apologized enough:

I don’t know Kristi. I don’t know what type of person she is and I can’t speak to her character.  What I do know is how she has handled this situation and that has been poorly.  I understand that she is trying to make amends with the book blogging community but for many that won’t happen until the non-apologies stop.

We—the victims—have tried to handle this in a professional manner.  We’ve addressed the subject on our blogs when we felt it was necessary.   We spoke out against any bullying occurring, whether the victim of said bullying was Kristi or one of us.  We have remained (mostly) quiet on other blogs and only shared our thoughts when absolutely necessary.  We have given her every chance to do the right thing by us.

And we are still waiting for that apology.

{ 59 comments… add one }

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                                • Karen November 19, 2012, 11:08 AM

                                  Just read your blog on the plagiarism event you experienced. Well put ! I also noticed that she, Kristi (the plagiarizer) should use spell check. ;) The old life lesson of how lying is wrong…. as you can see it just keeps manifesting into more and more lies where you end up tangled in a web and can’t get out …. a.k.a… Karma…

                                  Reply
                                • Red Tag Chic Los Angeles June 22, 2012, 10:08 AM

                                  I admire you & Ms. V for espousing plagiarism….May all these be put to rest so everyone can move on in a big way!

                                  Rebecca
                                  http://www.redtagchiclosangeles.com
                                  Red Tag Chic Los Angeles latest blog post: Palazzo by the Canyon

                                  Reply
                                • Must Love Books June 16, 2012, 7:45 PM

                                  Dang, I’m really far behind in this whole TSS drama. I’m also a YA book blogger and someone mentioned “the whole drama with the story siren” on my blog recently. I had no clue what she was talking about because I try and avoid all the book blogging drama (because there is a surprising amount of it), I had to go look it up. I looked at Kristi’s blog and that didn’t tell me anything so I found this blog and read all about it.

                                  This whole situation is giving me many mixed emotions, mostly anger. Ever since this all came out into the open, a lot of publishers have decided that they will no longer give out arcs (advanced readers copies) to bloggers. Arcs being something that all book bloggers love and cherish and take very seriously. Now All of us book bloggers are being punished for what Kristi did. And I can not understand why she even plagarized in the first place. From what I saw, the posts she copied were ones about what she dislikes in a blog. Everyone knows what they dislike in a blog, so why copy someone elses opinion?

                                  In the comments I’ve read about this, I’m seeing a lot of people saying that Kristi should be punished for what she did and how she handled it. She is definitely being punished. Her page views has dramatically gone down, her follower numbers have gone down, people aren’t doing her memes anymore, and she isn’t receiving as many arcs anymore either. Plus she has become a major focus of gossip and hate in the community.

                                  I’m sorry the 4 different bloggers have been dragged into the drama that is the book community. I know that you’ve said that her actions only make her look bad, not the community as a whole, but I would have to disagree. She has made us all look bad and we are all feeling the affects of what she has done.

                                  Reply
                                • Veshoevius May 31, 2012, 6:12 PM

                                  Wow! Just read this – sorry to hear the Story Siren thing is dragging on and your dissection of all her non apologies is VERY interesting – the pyschology of being in denial really. She just can’t bring herself to say sorry to you guys can she?

                                  Reply
                                • THE-LOUDMOUTH May 29, 2012, 9:32 PM

                                  Mmk, so I haven’t said anything mean about this girl yet, but I gotta do it. She is delusional. She seriously has some sort of mental disorder. She is a SOCIOPATH!!! She feels no guilt and instead is using what she did as a way to promote traffic to HER BLOG in the form of a BLOG SERIES. And then she acts like plagiarism is a normal thing that people do and it could’ve been any of us… WTF?!?!?!
                                  THE-LOUDMOUTH latest blog post: Life :: My holiday weekend festivities + other things I’m liking right now…

                                  Reply
                                • deyna May 29, 2012, 2:51 AM

                                  I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a while…however i just didn’t want my head to be chewed off. You are obviously a well educated woman with a bright spirit and this misfortune of events is definitely an insult for you and your friends. Props for handling it so well.

                                  My opinion that i was a bit nervous to add is that while i agree with your well dissected thoughts on the art of “non-apologies”. The second last apology sounded more or less like a real apology if not just because i’ve recently come out of highschool and i know plenty of people who would slightly unknowing change up words and call it their own thinking it was enough. However if she is a grown woman and as educated as you (especially in the book world) i guess it still doesn’t cover her ass because at that stage she should have known better.

                                  However i wish you the best and I’m so sorry this string of events is how i happened to come across your blog. Best wishes ♥

                                  Reply
                                • Jenny May 27, 2012, 3:50 PM

                                  This is an excellent post. I like the thoughtful way you have explained non-apologies and demonstrated Kristi’s usage of them. I have been following this whole debacle & wishing she either would have stayed silent or done, as you said, a true, transparent apology then moved on. Instead it’s a lot of vague excuses & now she’s turning around & educating those who already KNEW what plagiarism is as though we’re the ones who did it. We naughty children. I have never walked anywhere near the line of plagiarism with my blog. This whole situation is just offensive. To everyone. And I just wanted to also say (and maybe I should have started with it) but I am sorry that you & the other 3 have had to put up with all of this. You have been very gracious.
                                  Jenny latest blog post: Let’s Talk: Plagiarism (A Few More Thoughts)

                                  Reply
                                • anne May 27, 2012, 6:53 AM

                                  That’s precisely why I’ve lost my respect to all those authors and bloggers who are still supporting her. I can’t believe they’re still standing up for her. I came across to this blog who’s participating in Kristi’s In My Mailbox and she said something like, “Kristi has FORMALLY apologised this week.”

                                  Yeah, she apologized. But to who?

                                  And her non-apology post? Oh, I wanted to strangle her! She claimed to be a plagiarist but her reasons were LIES LIES LIES!!!!!! I don’t need to be a rocket scientist/mind reader to know that she is a one big liar. For someone’s who’s written posts about plagiarism, it’s really, really hard to believe that she DIDN’T know that what she was doing was an act plagiarism. That was LOW! Plain stupidity!

                                  Reply
                                • Doret May 26, 2012, 11:59 AM

                                  I run a book blog but didn’t hear about this plagiarism story until a week after it came to light last month. I have been quietly following what’s going on. I just wanted to quickly delurk and say, I am sorry you ladies had to go through this and still must continue to prove you were wronged.

                                  I believe Story Siren’s audience is young, so it’s probably not easy for them to admit that a blogger they love is in the wrong, so it is much easier for these young adults to blame and attack the people who were wronged. Hopefully when they look back on how they reacted five years from now they will be a bit embrassed.

                                  The Story Siren’s plagiarism week bothers me, because she never apologized to the people she stole content from. So rather then coming off as sincere attempt to grow from a mistake, the week simply comes off more great spin.

                                  The person advising TSS is wasting their talents, they should get into politics, because this as been some top of the line spin control.

                                  Reply
                                • Jamillah May 26, 2012, 11:47 AM

                                  B, I really appreciate you taking this situation and extracting what can be learned from it. Non-apology is an epidemic all over real life if you ask me and the story siren is a really good case. I think you’ve done an exceptional being straight and good and true through this whole situation-so thank you for being that kind of person, friend.

                                  P.S.
                                  Woah, I can not believe she wrote, “we have all walked the plagiarism line.” That is just straight cray.
                                  Jamillah latest blog post: Still Crushing on Osborn Shoes

                                  Reply
                                • SueCCCP May 24, 2012, 11:45 PM

                                  This whole affair is so sad and disappointing.

                                  I am new to the book blogging community and had never heard of TSS, so I had no impression of her before she was ‘outed’ in April, but I have been amazed and appalled by her behavior. I cannot believe that she still has not actually apologized to you, but I have a horrible suspicion that it will never happen now.

                                  When I saw the Tweets about her post on Monday I went over and read it. I immediately wished that I hadn’t because I resented giving her that one extra page view and visitor stat when she was obviously never going to show any remorse. I had hoped to see that in her post, but alas no, just more self serving non-apologizing. I am appalled to hear reports that some of the guest posts are actually condoning plagiarism: I wonder how these author’s colleagues will view their comments. As for her IMM meme, I have seen quite a few blogs announcing that they will no longer be involved with it and I am sure that I saw at least one that had started up an alternative (I just cannot remember who it was).

                                  I am afraid that this is most likely due to her dropping stats and perhaps the approach of BEA: I might just be being cynical about that, but I still cannot work out what is so hard about saying “I am sorry that I stole your work.” Of course I tend to do stupid things like linking to posts that I really like because it is so much less effort than trying to plagiarize them!

                                  Thank you for understanding that many of us in the book blogging community are shamed to associated, even vaguely, with such a dishonest person and I hope that one day she will have an epiphany and apologize.

                                  Reply
                                • Penelope May 24, 2012, 11:37 PM

                                  I do think that her latest apology (I’m Kristi…and I’m a plagiarist) is at least one small step in the right direction, regardless of the non-apology part. She’s finally said “I’m a plagiarist” out loud, and people can’t argue and deny it in her defense anymore. That’s the only good I see from it. But the “educational posts” about plagiarism are killing me. I only read the first one, and skimmed a few others, but all I found are more excuses.

                                  This is a fantastic post. Thanks for laying it all out there like this. You are absolutely right, and I really hope all four of you get the apologies you deserve.
                                  Penelope latest blog post: Soulless by Gail Carriger | Book Review

                                  Reply
                                • LG May 24, 2012, 7:01 PM

                                  I keep wanting to tell people who say “But Kristi apologized!” that they (and Kristi) could really, really stand to read a book on apologies. Not too long ago, I read Aaron Lazare’s On Apology, and it’s amazing how well the descriptions of failed and non-apologies fit. None of her “apologies” are good examples of true, meaningful apologies.

                                  Reply
                                • Katie May 24, 2012, 6:15 PM

                                  This is the BEST post I believe I’ve ever read on the internet. Seriously. You know how to break it down and really get to the meat of the matter. I’ve been thoroughly disgusted with all of the non-apologies, and you really outlined them well.

                                  The way Kristi has handled things leaves a lot to be desired. I know she can’t please everyone, and she certainly shouldn’t try, but a DIRECT apology, no excuses offered, is necessary. Perhaps even a regurgitation of what she originally posted in the now-deleted plagiarism article she wrote? You know, the one she wrote a _year_ before she stole the articles from the four of you, outlining why what she (eventually) did was wrong, and was indeed plagiarism?

                                  Drawing more attention to this issue by once again posting an “apology” full of double-speak and blame-shifting smells of something foul. The week-long tribute seems like a poorly-planned publicity stunt. And I can’t be the only one who feels that some of the guest posts seem to be pooh-poohing plagiarism?

                                  I had hoped that the weeks following the initial debacle would show that she was truly contrite and that she understood the enormity of what she did, but I won’t be following her blog anymore. I am so incredibly disappointed in Kristi.

                                  Reply
                                • azteclady May 24, 2012, 6:36 PM

                                  nd I can’t be the only one who feels that some of the guest posts seem to be pooh-poohing plagiarism?

                                  You are absolutely not alone there.

                                  From where I sit, when Kristi Diehm was the victim of plagiarism, every single thing about it was crystal clear: that plagiarism is wrong and what it is–helpfully spelled out in that now-infamous deleted post “My One Piece of Advice” (TSS April 16th 2010 – via The WayBack Machine)

                                  Now that Kristi Diehm has victimized four other people six separate times, it’s all so difficult to figure out! And so her guests’ opinions must reflect that sea change in knowledge and point of view.
                                  azteclady latest blog post: Handknit Hat – Peacock Blue Explosion of Romance by HerHandsMyHands

                                  Reply
                                • S B May 24, 2012, 4:32 PM

                                  I found this post by following the link to it on the The Book Binge blog (http://www.thebookbinge.com/). The story first came to my attention in April when the book blogs started posting about it. And I have to say how impressed I am by how gracefully and appropriately you have been handling the whole situation.

                                  I had not been to this blog or to the others before this incident but now I will definitely be following yours and I will soon check out the others.

                                  Reply
                                • Kelli May 24, 2012, 3:36 PM

                                  Love, love, love this post! You said everything that I was thinking, only so much more elegantly than I could have. I have never been to this blog or Grit and Glamour until all of this happened, but I have to say how impressed I am with how you both have handled things. I love your writing style!

                                  Reply
                                • Heather May 24, 2012, 10:04 AM

                                  Somehow I don’t think you’re ever going to get that apology. Its probable that she still doesn’t believe she did anything really wrong. It sounds like she’s just digging the hole deeper and deeper!
                                  For me this situation has been very educational. I’m not a professional writer and I didn’t know much about plagiarism before your (and grit and glsmours) posts. Now I feel like I know a lot about it. So I don’t know if it will make you feel any better but you have educated a lot of people on the issue of plagiarism, what it is, and why it should be avoided at all costs. Thank you!
                                  Heather latest blog post: The Summer Blues

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:29 PM

                                  Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Heather!

                                  It’s nice to hear that our experience has proven to be educational for some. That was our intent with the original posts, as well as everything that Vahni and I have published since then. If nothing else, this experience has taught me that what constitutes plagiarism is misunderstood by (too!) many!

                                  Hope all is well :)

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 8:21 AM

                                  Just a quick note to say thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I’ll be responding individually as well, but please know that your comments are very important to me and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts – good or bad – about the situation!

                                  Reply
                                • zapkode.marie May 24, 2012, 6:58 AM

                                  Are you a teacher because you’d make a rather good one. This was laid out remarkably well with a ton of clarification to back up what you were saying. I remember when it had all went viral and I found it odd that she was doing the plagiarism week long thing, however I too have not saw an actual admittance of guilt or an apology that would be considered acceptable. It makes me feel terribly sorry for those involved. I hope one day she sees the error of her ways and truly apologies for her wrong doings.
                                  zapkode.marie latest blog post: {a new beginning}

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:33 PM

                                  Hi there,

                                  No, I am not a teacher but I will take your comment as a compliment! I think it’s very telling that the reaction to her week long series has been so mixed. The timing has made many question her motives, while the content of the posts themselves has proved less than educational.

                                  At this point, I don’t think any of us expect a true apology from her… and I think that is quite unfortunate.

                                  Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

                                  Reply
                                • Henry May 24, 2012, 2:55 AM

                                  Oh my god, that is horrible! She should be punished in some way for what she did

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                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:35 PM

                                  Was it horrible? Yes.

                                  Does she deserve to be punished? No.

                                  Everyone had moved on… until she reignited the fire with her recent set of posts.

                                  Reply
                                • azteclady May 24, 2012, 6:40 PM

                                  I am going to humbly disagree with you on this one.

                                  If there are no consequences–and I don’t see that there have been any so far for Kristi Diehm–people who are reading what is posted in her blog now, this week, will learn that they can get away with stealing other people’s content with impunity.

                                  And that is what makes my blood boil: too many of the current readers of that blog already think it’s okay, that Kristi Diehm did nothing wrong, that it’s you–those she stole from–who are at fault, and mean, and deserve to be bullied.
                                  azteclady latest blog post: Handknit Hat – Peacock Blue Explosion of Romance by HerHandsMyHands

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:20 PM

                                  Hi there azteclady, thanks for stopping by!

                                  I am not disagreeing that Kristi should have to answer for her actions. There should be consequences when someone in her position – in the book blogging community, no less – plagiarizes. I won’t dispute that. Perhaps it is a case of semantics, but when I hear “punishment” I think of things that might, perhaps, take that too far.

                                  I do think that we, the bloggers who were plagiarized, and the book blogging community, expect different things from her. All we really want and/or need from her is a true apology… we don’t need to take things any further than that on a personal level because we aren’t a part of your community. I understand that those in your niche would want things to go further. If I was in your place i would as well!

                                  I couldn’t agree more regarding this week’s posts on TSS… anyone who comes to her site looking for guidance regarding plagiarism will be greatly misinformed, though honestly I don’t know that much can be done to address that. Trust me, I know all about the negativity towards us… but unless she addresses that herself it isn’t going to change.

                                  Reply
                                • LS May 24, 2012, 2:42 AM

                                  While I understand the hurt, I don’t think this post is going to heal hurts. Instead, it has turned me off to reading your blog and even turned me off to the blog world in general. I do completely acknowledge and agree plagerism is a serious issue. Good can come from sharing the story & educating readers/writers, particularly those brand new to this arena like myself. It does make me consider & reflect on the ineffectiveness and challenges of email communication over verbal or face-to-face communication (email is rarely effective for conflict resolution in my opinion). I hope for you to find healing and forgiveness.

                                  Reply
                                • zapkode.marie May 24, 2012, 7:02 AM

                                  Are you aware your post shares identical wording to chucky’s post above?

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                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 8:18 AM

                                  Good catch on the duplicate comment… that happened because “Chucky” was a spam comment advertising a commerce site. They tend to copy other comments and hope the blogger doesn’t notice so they can build links! Deleted now.

                                  Reply
                                • zapkode.marie May 24, 2012, 7:13 PM

                                  ~ That’s incredibly insane … It seemed like a fairly decent one when I had read it through – but then again the duplicate wording is what grabbed my attention …

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:23 PM

                                  I know, it is crazy. It seems to be happening more and more lately, but they are fairly easy to catch. Thanks again for spotting it! “Chucky” is now blocked :)

                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:42 PM

                                  It pains me to hear that this post has turned you off to reading my blog but I can respect that. I know that the drama surrounding this situation is making heads spin, especially for blog followers that may not be as invested in what has happened the past few months, but there is a reason for it.

                                  There is a lot of misinformation out there about what was/wasn’t said to us and about what she did/didn’t do. People aren’t checking the facts so they are making assumptions about what was plagiarized, how many people were impacted, who received the hate mail (I received the brunt of it, probably because I discovered it), and whether she showed any remorse to US about what she did. This post was meant to address the last part of that.

                                  I don’t disagree that email communication can be challenging. It certainly is… but in this case it was all we had.

                                  Again, I am sorry this turned you off of this blog, but respect your opinion.

                                  Reply
                                • Bella Q May 24, 2012, 12:31 AM

                                  And again, articulate, precise and clear and calm presentation of FACTS. And class.
                                  I don’t know the Story Siren, but I can’t help but judge her character. She has shown thievery, dishonesty, cowardice and forgive me for saying this, stupidity. I’m not sure which is the more unforgivable.
                                  Bella Q latest blog post: Forty, Fifty, Fabulous: Blogs Roll, YOU Rock

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:45 PM

                                  As always, thank you for your continued support Bella.

                                  Developing relationships with people like you are what make blogging worthwhile to me – if it wasn’t for the blogosphere we never would have met and I would never have been introduced to such a great heart and mind!

                                  Reply
                                • azteclady May 24, 2012, 6:50 PM

                                  Yes, this, exactly!

                                  The contrast between how the four people Kristi Diehm stole from and her own behaviour is rather amazing, isn’t it?
                                  azteclady latest blog post: Handknit Hat – Peacock Blue Explosion of Romance by HerHandsMyHands

                                  Reply
                                • Lily May 23, 2012, 11:48 PM

                                  I admit, I went over to her blog and looked at past posts. Her IMM meme has gone down greatly since this all came out. The amount of books she has received each week has also greatly gone down, kinda makes me wonder if she is doing this week of damage control, I mean week of education to try and fix her reputation and herself more free stuff.
                                  She needs to apologize a REAL apology and leave it be. Instead of bringing up again.
                                  Lily latest blog post: Wentworth Hall

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                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:49 PM

                                  Thanks for your feedback, Lily. I would like to think that her intentions behind this week were true, but we’ll never know, will we?

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                                • Kelli May 26, 2012, 3:29 PM

                                  No we won’t know but I think it is painfully obvious to everyone. And now she has posted a ‘new releases’ post without even properly wrapping the plagiarism week up. I, for one, would like to know what she’s ‘learned’ from her hits week, whoops, I mean education week. All I have seen on this week of posts is a lot of her cronies trying to justify her actions.

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                                • sharon May 23, 2012, 9:33 PM

                                  People seriously needs to get lives outside of blogging.

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:51 PM

                                  I have one, thanks, do you?

                                  Regardless, it doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss what happens in the blogosphere.

                                  … and thanks for stopping by!

                                  Reply
                                • Laura Benson May 23, 2012, 9:09 PM

                                  It’s kinda rich that she decides to do a series of posts on plagiarism. I mean really… This is just aboveboard wrong and she’s using it to spin her words so that her sheep flock back. Even reading some of the responses are just ridiculous. I guess this will not go away.
                                  Laura Benson latest blog post: Hard Weekend

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                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 1:53 PM

                                  Thanks for your comment, Laura.

                                  I think that is what is bothering so many – people had moved on and were putting this whole ridiculous mess behind them and then she reignites the fire again with her series. Not even a month had passed and here we are again!

                                  Reply
                                • Pamela (@SpazP) May 23, 2012, 8:13 PM

                                  I have been so disgusted watching this happen for the past couple of months, and with this week’s “plagiarism” tour, I really could not digest how grossly contrived it was. From the very beginning, it could have been handled 10000x better and every single thing she does just makes it so much worse, as though we are all the dumbest people on the planet to fall for it. Anyway, I am sorry for ALL that you’ve gone through, and am GRATEFUL that you did not STAY QUIET.
                                  Pamela (@SpazP) latest blog post: Spaz Reviews: Hammer Down – Moira Rogers

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 2:13 PM

                                  Hi Pamela,

                                  Thank you for your comment and for your support throughout this whole ordeal. I’m just sorry that things had to get this out of hand. It can only get better from here, right?

                                  I hope.

                                  Reply
                                • Jenni Elyse May 23, 2012, 7:26 PM

                                  I have a lot of mixed emotions about this whole ordeal. But, what I’m not mixed about is the pain you’ve endured because of what happened and because of the attacks you and the other blogs have received from TSS’s supporters.

                                  Please know that not all book bloggers are that way. I don’t condone what Kristi did at all. And, I agree that she hasn’t apologized properly, which she should still do. Again, I’m so sorry all of this has happened to you.

                                  I don’t like to get involved in the drama because there were some things I didn’t realize about plagiarism until this whole thing hit the fan. I would feel like I was a hypocrite if I didn’t get involved, so I mainly stay quiet. However, I did want to say what I’m saying now.

                                  Even though this act hurt you and your friends, I’m kind of glad it happened because it has educated me so much on plagiarism and copyright infringement (and I’m sorry that this tragic even had to happen for me to be educated). It’s amazing to me how much people really don’t know or don’t get is plagiarism or copyright infringement. I was one of those with a few aspects of both. When I’ve paraphrased in the past, I’ve always made it a practice to link to other sites or ask permission to use things just because I thought it was the courteous thing to do; I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. But, I didn’t realize that paraphrasing was a form of plagiarism because I didn’t realize ideas was included in that definition. I guess I didn’t pay attention well enough in school. It’s a good thing that I wanted to be nice. Otherwise, I would’ve inadvertently plagiarized. Obviously, that still would’ve been all on me if I hadn’t linked or asked permission. I would’ve never handled the situation like TSS and said “I didn’t know what I was doing.” I would’ve just said, “I’m sorry. How can I make it right?” and then done everything in my power to make it right. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do that because I’ve always tried to link or ask permission.

                                  Anyway, I guess after this whole long comment, I just wanted to say thank you for educating me on the finer points of plagiarism that pushed me to research it and copyright infringement so that I can say with integrity and without doubt that what’s on my blog is okay to be there.
                                  Jenni Elyse latest blog post: Weigh-In Wednesdays

                                  Reply
                                • Jenni Elyse May 24, 2012, 7:04 PM

                                  “I would feel like I was a hypocrite if I didn’t get involved, so I mainly stay quiet. However, I did want to say what I’m saying now.”

                                  I meant to say: I would feel like I was a hypocrite if I DID get involved …
                                  Jenni Elyse latest blog post: Movie Review: Dark Shadows

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:26 PM

                                  No worries, I knew what you meant!

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                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:35 PM

                                  Thank you for this comment, Jenni. It was very thoughtful and I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts on this situation.

                                  First, I want to say that none of us (the 4 bloggers in question) would ever judge the rest of your blogging community by Kristi’s actions nor the actions of a handful of her followers. I think that Kristi suggesting that in her clarification post was absurd… her actions reflect on no one but herself. 99% of the individuals we have “met” through this experience have been absolutely lovely people and we’ve become fans of quite a few ourselves!

                                  As for your second point, I am happy to hear that this has been educational to you. THAT was the exact point of the posts we published in January. We wanted to take our own experience and turn it into something positive. I hate to say it (well, not really), but I truly believe that the series of posts that Vahni and I, along with a multitude of others from your own community, wrote about plagiarism are MUCH more educational than the series that TSS is hosting right now.

                                  Regardless, it is nice to know that this proved useful for you – it sounds like you were on the right track as is. Good instincts!

                                  Reply
                                • Jenni Elyse May 25, 2012, 1:43 PM

                                  I also think your posts are more educational than the posts on TSS, especially the most recent one. That one just made me shake my head. Is the person saying it’s okay or not okay to plagiarize? Many mixed signals in that post. I did think the post done by Miss Remmers was educational and I said as much in my comment on the post. BUT, and this is a big but, I don’t think posting it on TSS was the correct venue nor did it help as much as it could have. All this “plagiarism week” is doing is fueling the flames and the two posts that I believe could have been educational aren’t because they can’t be taken in any other light than, “Really? You’re posting this here? And, so soon after all this went down? Can you say, ‘Tacky!’?”
                                  Jenni Elyse latest blog post: Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

                                  Reply
                                • Tori May 23, 2012, 6:17 PM

                                  I’m appalled by the number of her people who really don’t care what she did, are happy that she said sorry, and don’t think it’s a big deal. But then my background is journalism and I’ve caught plagiarists and I’ve never thought it was a small crime.

                                  This post is a great break down of how TSS seems more concerned about covering her own butt than truly apologizing, which is a shame. But at the end of the day, she’s the one who has to live with herself and hopefully if nothing else, she’s learned a lesson.

                                  I don’t have any ill-will toward TSS (I didn’t even know about her until this debacle came out – I book blog for a geek girl blog, so I’m not really “in” with the book blogging community enough to know who’s super popular except people I follow). I am sorry you had to experience this. I can’t imagine how angry, hurt, and frustrated I’d be to learn someone stole content I busted my butt on.

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:46 PM

                                  Thanks for commenting, Tori.

                                  It’s a shame that she has allowed this situation to become all about her – she is certainly playing the victim – instead of focusing on the real issue at hand. If she had handled the situation differently from the start I think she could have turned this into a REAL educational experience. Instead her actions read like a public relations failure.

                                  I’m still not convinced she has learned her lesson. She seemed to know what plagiarism was when she wrote her post preaching against in in 2010… how convenient to forget everything when she is the one at fault.

                                  Reply
                                • Tina May 23, 2012, 5:56 PM

                                  This has turned into a very sad situation. I don’t want to question Kristy or TSS’s abilities but the whole drama put forward in response to a simple communication stating the plagarised material on her blog makes me wonder how immature she might be. I often read blogs and come across interesting posts and post ideas that I incorporate and as TSS can say ‘COPY’ FOR MY OWN BLOG. But, always my post would begin like ‘so last night I was browsing through the net and came across this or that on such n such site…’ taking inspiration or getting references for your own blog is very different from hard core ‘COPY CAT’ stuff and the difference clearly shows. I can only hope that the readers and the blogging community take this as a wake up and acknowledge TSS (and surely many mare blogs like that) and in future be more wise and informed about plagarised material. much love and luck to you and the 4 other bloggers who went through it all but none of my sympathy goes to TSS. xx

                                  Reply
                                • Beautifully Invisible May 24, 2012, 7:50 PM

                                  Thanks for commenting, Tina. You are completely in the right – this whole situation could have been prevented had she just linked back to us when she originally published her posts.

                                  Reply
                                • Julie May 23, 2012, 4:57 PM

                                  I’m a member of the book blogging community and I’ve made it clear since the beginning that I’m not okay with Kristi’s actions or her reaction. On Monday when her first two posts went live, I was informed by first my coblogger and then one of my other blogging friends that they were there and I should read them. I discussed this exact thing with my friend after. It seems like she’ll apologize to every human, animal, and plant before she’ll give you guys get a real apology. I’m sorry that you guys aren’t going to get what you deserve and that you have to deal with this whole mess at all.
                                  Julie latest blog post: Book THREE in the Hourglass Series!

                                  Reply
                                • A Brit Greek May 23, 2012, 4:49 PM

                                  Oh dear, she’s at it again??? I think a big hole is rather necessary at this point, since it has been forever since the confrontation earlier this year.
                                  I honestly don’t know how I would have handled a situation like this, but I have to hand it to you ladies… I guess all that you guys are waiting for now is a proper apology!
                                  x.o.x.o

                                  Reply
                                • Metsy May 23, 2012, 4:37 PM

                                  This is such a great reminder that when we screw up (Kristi did and we all mess up sometime or another) we should be clear about our mistakes. I also believe this same principle for praise and thank yous. Thank you B for being transparent and honest in the midst of this trying plagiarism situation where your content was stolen by another blogger. Thank you for being open to the subsequent debate/discussions while focusing on using the situation as a “teachable moment” and not an opportunity to hurt those who hurt you.
                                  Metsy latest blog post: Falling in Love with Rose Gold

                                  Reply
                                • GRIT & GLAMOUR May 23, 2012, 4:31 PM

                                  I’m glad you posted this because it shows just how she vacillates between admission and denial. And the other thing no one else knows—and they should:

                                  WE HAVE NEVER RECEIVED A PERSONAL EMAIL FROM HER TO APOLOGIZE SINCERELY OR ASK HOW WE COULD WORK TOGETHER TO GET PAST IT. Just the initial correspondence and nothing since it exploded online.

                                  She had our email addresses. She can find us on our blogs…she did the first time and many times after. She can find us on Twitter. She never has. That, to me is proof of guilt, immaturity, and the inability to own up to her actions. And perhaps even fear.

                                  I’ve heard a gutful through the grapevine about her. After all the comments I’ve heard and read, apparently this kind of behavior from her is not so surprising.

                                  xo
                                  GRIT & GLAMOUR latest blog post: Damage Control 101: The Fine Art of Covering Your A**

                                  Reply
                                • Courtney May 23, 2012, 4:21 PM

                                  And to think, all she had to do when you and Vahni first confronted her was say, “I did this. It was wrong. I’ll take it down. I’m sorry.” And it would’ve been over. Instead, she dug her own grave with all this double speak and victimizing of herself.

                                  It’s true, we all make mistakes. But she’s had nearly HALF A YEAR to rectify this, make it right, and apologize and she has done none of that.
                                  Courtney latest blog post: Let’s Get Talking About Body Image

                                  Reply
                                • Kristin May 23, 2012, 4:46 PM

                                  In the end…she’s the one that looks foolish and immature for not manning up and accepting responsibility.
                                  Kristin latest blog post: BonBon Deal of the Day: A Sandal Was Named After Me

                                  Reply