Dear Book Lovers,
My name’s Pamela DuMond and I’m a USA Today Bestselling author who’s been writing and publishing my own books since 2010. I write sweet and steamy romance and mystery. Like many of you -- I'm a hard-working author, running a small business with a big heart.
I discovered that my book "Part-time Princess" a 'Pg-13' royal romantic comedy that I wrote when my mom got sick and published July 28, 2014 after she died was re-purposed by NYT Bestselling author Emma Chase as an Erotic royal romantic comedy. "Royally Screwed" was published October 16, 2016 by Chase, Simon & Shuster, and EverAfter Romance.
The stories feature same/similar names, characters, brands, scenes, plot points, jokes, and sentences.
"Part-time Princess“ - aka PTP -- tells the story of Lucy a/k/a Lizzy, a down on her luck Chicago waitress at MadDog Bar. She takes a job – only meant to last a few weeks in the summer -- impersonating a royal lady but meets handsome, cocky Prince Nicholas on the plane to Fredonia. She falls in love with him during their adventures, and he ultimately asks her to marry him back in Chicago at same bar.
"Royally Screwed" -- aka RS - tells the ‘stories’ of handsome, cocky Prince Nicholas and of Olivia a/k/a Livvy, a down on her luck waitress at Amelia’s Coffee Shop in NYC.. She meets Nicholas in NYC and travels with him -- only for the summer -- to Wessco. He proclaims his love for her back in NYC at same coffee shop and she ultimately marries him.
RS hit the NYT Bestseller list and won Best Audible of the Year in Romance 2016. It was optioned by Passionflix for Film . It spawned multiple derivative titles. Foreign rights sold to Germany, Italy, France, and more.
I tried my best to settle this out of court but all my efforts were rebuffed. I ran out of options and finally sued Emma Chase, S&S, EverAfter, and Emma Chase, LLC for copyright infringement in October 2019.
Ms. Chase’s and Big Publishing’s attorneys claim that overlap between the books is allowed. They argue that the similarities between PTP and RS can be chalked up to “stock characters” and “trope.” A few examples:
Defense attorneys also claim that any overlap is random. Gently scattered 'here and there' throughout both books.
I ran PTP and RS through college plagiarism software. I tracked down the hits that the software highlighted, found more repurposed material, and graphed those using Kindle Percentages and Kindle Locations found in Kindle e-books. (YES -- I graphed K Locations too, but used K Percentages here for simplicity's sake.)
I was gobsmacked when I realized much of the re-purposed text is arranged in CLUSTERS and PATTERNS – NOT random. This suggests entire scenes were re-written.
Examples of scene clusters:
To me, these patterns don’t appear “random” nor part of a general “trope.” To me it DOES NOT look like PTP was read, the book 'closed', and subsequently thought of as ‘inspiration.’
PTP was ‘wide open’ while scenes and sentences were rewritten -- twisted, spun, and flip-flopped. PTP e-book was ‘wide open’ while words were swapped out with thesaurus words, jokes were tweaked, and a few cups of adverbs and explicit ‘vanilla’ sex added.
Defense attorneys claim that even though both books are royal romantic comedies - they do not have “substantial similarity” because RS—is more of a “bodice ripper” than PTP.
A similar situation happened when Becky McGraw was plagiarized by Laura Harner. Harner re-wrote McGraw’s cowboy romance, changing the relationship from straight to a gay. And yet changing the sexual relationship didn't change the fact it was still McGraw’s story.
The majority of the plagiarism noted between PTP and RS is‘mosaic’ and ‘paraphrasing.' Clearly the overlap is not simply a case of ‘inspiration’, stock, or trope. Adding sex and adverbs does NOT create an original story when the sentences, scenes, characters, names used in RS were already written in PTP and published over 2 years prior.
Before her book “Tangled” sold to Omnific and S&S -- to the best of my knowledge -- Emma Chase had a background writing Fan Fiction. It’s also worth noting that in RS's Acknowledgements, Ms. Chase states, “, “[i]t’s not always easy coming up with a new story idea. . ..But sometimes, inspiration takes a holiday,…”
But PTP is NOT public domain, nor is it free for the taking. I’ve never authorized ANYONE to write ‘Fan Fiction’ of my books. I’ve never licensed PTP to Ms. Chase, S&S, or EverAfter. They do NOT have my permission to infringe on my copyright by copying my book, re-writing it, and/or publishing derivative titles.
Yet, they not only re-purposed PTP, and the first chapter of my book "ROYALLY WED" (included in the back of PTP ebook as a 'teaser') they continue to sell the repurposed version(s) – EVERYWHERE.
Stop for a second and let this sink in. I doubt that what is happening to me or my book is 'unique.' This kind of repurposing by an opportunistic author who is backed by Big Publisher can happen to ANYONE.
Part-time Princess was repurposed in 2016 and I sued in October 2019. In Dec. 2019, My attorney told me that S&S was going to hit me hard with ‘legal strategies’. This would have made it even tougher than it already is for me to fight this nightmare. He advised me to drop S&S from the suit. and I did as he advised. Now it’s 2020 and we’re in a holding pattern because of Covid-19.
This violation has shredded me. I am angry. I am devastated. I have suffered extreme loss of time, money, and my health has taken hit after hit. I’ve spent over 3 ½ years and over 1500 hours tracking the repurposed material using plagiarism software, spreadsheets, and old fashioned, nose-in-two books hard, back breaking work. A few more examples. FYI: I’m sharing the tip of the iceberg…
To say we are all going through scary, weird times right now is an understatement. I know how hard you work at just living life right now let alone writing your books, writing reviews, posting in innovative ways on social media. I too run a small business with a big heart.
I greatly appreciate all your donations, your ‘shares’, getting the word out, buying my books -- whatever you can do is amazing! Money donated in this Go Fund Me is going toward my legal bills. I appreciate your help and kindness. Thank you, thank you!
Please help me send a message to big publishers and opportunistic authors that repurposing, manipulating, and re-writing another author’s book is not just wrong but illegal. If this type of plagiarism isn’t illegal – copywriting our books is useless.
Please help me make our reader/writer community a safer space for all of us -- even those of us who run small businesses with big hearts.
I believe that words are sacred. I believe that your stories – are your stories to tell. Your stories are not free for the taking by Big Publishing and opportunistic authors because – in the words of Emma Chase –“, “[i] . ..But sometimes, inspiration takes a holiday,…”
You can read more about my case on The Passive Voice and The Hot List by Jane Friedman .Appendix C in the Response part of my lawsuit shows the location of Similar Scenes in both books. Appendix D is a short-hand list of similar words and passages. (There’s more...)
- Nick and Sherry Carlson
- Theresa Munroe