The Elephant in the Room
Some of you may be aware of accusations that have been made about my book ‘Krokbragd: How To Design & Weave’. Briefly, the administrator on a closed Facebook Group made a claim that I copied materials from the files and comments of that group. Those allegations have since been cited publicly on several online platforms by members of the group.
I was first made aware of this on the afternoon of July 3. Given this year’s extra long July 4th weekend, I was not able to seek legal counsel until Monday July 8.
Here is a letter from my lawyer with his legal rendering: Greenlaw. Opinion.Ltr.190716.pdf
Now some things I would like to share with you as just Debby.
I have always loved writing. Recently, I was going through a box of stuff, the ‘keep for who knows what reason’ box that you discover years later. One of my finds was a play I wrote in sixth grade, ‘The Battle of Klunker Hill’. My teacher, Miss Schneider, liked it so much that she made me the play director!
My first peer-reviewed writing occurred with the publishing of my graduate school thesis in 1989 at Clemson University. I found the whole process of writing, review, and publishing utterly invigorating, despite the constant fear that something would happen to the multiple floppy discs before I could print it.
Through out the ensuing 40 years as a nurse and nurse practitioner, I continued to write but always on professional topics related to healthcare. In that arena I am proudest of a chapter in the voluminous (1136 pages), widely used textbook “Critical Care Nursing: A Holistic Approach” published by Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins (now Wolters Kluwer). I was a contributing author for the 9th edition (2009) and then was asked to revise the chapter for the 10th edition (2013), and again for the most recent 11th edition (2018). In addition to that work being peer-reviewed, it also underwent the scrutiny of the various review and editing departments found in a large, well known publishing house.
Writing a non-nursing book had been on my bucket list for years. I found, as with so many things, the ‘getting started’ part is sometimes the most difficult. Enter ‘Book on Fire’. I can’t even remember how I learned about this opportunity. Donna Barker, a published author herself, had developed a course entitled “Book On Fire: Plan your book in 21 minutes-a-day for 21 days”. She was looking for beta testers. I applied and was accepted.
Donna’s course was just the jumpstart I needed! November 22, 2017 I signed my commitment and on the 27th started an intensive 3 weeks with lessons, videos, exercises, assignments and timelines to get my book written.
One of the early assignments was to tackle your book’s main theme and purpose.
Another first week assignment was to write your ultimate book writing goal and to put hard dates to that goal. [Until preparing for this post I hadn’t read this assignment since I wrote it back in 2017. I am overwhelmingly satisfied with the accomplishment of that goal.]
Another assignment was to tell people you were writing the book. It didn’t count to just tell ‘safe’ people like your immediate family, you needed to state this in public as a demonstration that you were really committed to this action. I went bold and announced my book in the Krokbragd Facebook group of which I had been a member for several months. Since people had been looking for a book on Krokbragd, you can imagine I received many comments and private messages expressing excitement by this news. However, the group’s administrator had taken this as self-promotion. Thinking this was just a simple misunderstanding, I remained in the group but was careful to not mention the book again. If anyone asked me a question about it, I would direct them to private message me so as not to go against the administrator. However, this too was perceived by the administrator as “taking group discussions offline”. At this point, I made the decision to leave the closed group on February 15, 2018. I responded to the group’s administrator with the following message through Facebook private messaging:
Now back to the Book on Fire course. By the end of those three weeks I had written 1250 words and set a writing commitment to have a first draft in 24 weeks (May 24, 2018) and a tentative publish date in the Fall of 2018.
During the 15 months from committing to write the book until it was first published as an e-Book in February 2019, I devoted roughly 4 hours a day (sometimes much more). In addition to researching, writing, editing, and formatting the book, I wove all the project samples. I took several Photoshop courses with the expectation that I would make my own figures and diagrams. Ultimately, my brain just didn’t click with Photoshop, so instead I used a combination of tables, spreadsheets, and Weave-it software to create my resources. I took an online Product Photography course so that I could learn how to take all of my own photos and edit them. I contacted Vesterheim Norwegian-American museum to obtain their permission to include four photos of vintage krokbragd pieces. I wrote to the editor of Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot magazine about an article published in the Fall 1983 issue (Vol XIV No. 4). by Marilyn Holtzer on Double-Faced Krokbragd (pp. 46-50). The article was not available digitally, and no longer available for purchase as a back issue, but Ms. Orgren graciously tracked it down and sent me a PDF. I even took an online ‘Introduction to Norwegian’ language course from the University of Oslo on Futurelearn.
I explored multiple platforms for self-publishing, but ultimately decided to go with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I downloaded their format guides, enrolled in their How To webinars, watched and rewatched their video tutorials, and kept their Resources page always open on my computer desktop.
I researched various formatting applications, initially trying Scrivener but abandoned that because I just couldn’t get it to present the material in the way I envisioned.
Ultimately I used iBooks Author for the e-book and a customizable template on Pages for the print version.
I purchased Grammarly to check grammar and punctuation and to help with vocabulary and readability.
Not liking the bibliography format that was included in the iBook and Pages applications, I found Scribbr’s online APA generator. My bibliography contains 54 properly cited references and primary sources that I used in the writing of my book.
A word about references and resources. Sit down with several weaving books and/or magazines. Compare writings on twills or lace or overshot and see how much overlap in content and similarity in words and phrases there is between the sources. If you’re not a weaver, go to writings in your area of interest - wood working, flower arranging, fishing, whatever - and do the same. There’s only so many ways to report and discuss basic information, especially for topics that are centuries old.
Here’s a challenge for you. Describe the American flag without using the words red, white, blue, stars, and stripes. Even changing up the typical order seems awkward: white, blue, and red, stripes and stars.
I encourage you to locate and read the sources I’ve listed in the book’s Bibliography to understand the basis of my writing. If you don’t own these books or articles, check with friends or fellow guild members. Or check your local library; if it’s a smaller library who does not house the particular resource quite often they will be able to obtain a copy from another library. If you're a college or university student or alumni, you may be able to access the item from them. I have also been able to obtain article pdfs by writing the editor of a magazine. Sometimes a simple Google search will locate the book or magazine for you.
You are always welcome to contact me with any specific concerns. I would be delighted to share my source or clarify any questions. You do not need to subscribe to my blog to contact me. It’s open to all.
I’ve provided the legal opinion from my intellectual property lawyer. I’ve given you background on my writing history and a glimpse into my process of writing the book. My bibliography contains my sources. You have a means to contact me directly. Just to be absolutely clear:
I state with unequivocal conviction and an unfettered conscience that I did not copy any material from a Facebook group nor its administrator.
I didn’t claim to invent the centuries old weaving technique of krokbragd, I just wrote about it out of my own search and experience. I wrote exactly that in my book’s Introduction:
No one likes to receive negative reviews, but of course it happens even with best-selling authors such as Stephen King and JK Rowling. Not all people will like your writing style or your photos or the size of the font, etc. But there is a vast difference between writing a negative review and writing that the author has plagiarized or copied copyrighted material. Those are allegations that should be addressed through the legal system, not an online review. Publishing an unsubstantiated and false statement that is damaging to a person’s character is considered libel and can carry serious consequences. Of note, Amazon has already removed seven of those type reviews from my Krokbragd book page because of their libelous and defamatory nature.
In closing, in this age of online presence and social media, some are quick to post (and repeat) disparaging statements. It is all too easy to hit ‘send’ when it’s about a faceless entity. However, that faceless entity is a real person.
Many of you know the oft-repeated childhood rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never harm me.
But that’s not really true. Words can harm, not just emotionally, but from physical manifestations resulting from that stress. In addition, the individual is not the only one affected, family and friends share in the angst with their loved one.
Live Well - Laugh Often - Love Much
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I encourage any of you to contact me if you have any questions regarding my book or any writings of this blog. You do not have to sign up or be on my distribution list to contact me. It’s open to all!