Monday, April 12, 2010

Rebuttal - When Someone steals your ideas.

Posted in:
This is a response to the post by Sugabelly alleging plagiarism or something similar. It might be a long one but I'll try not to rant and keep it short and to the point.

I'll say it upfront, I'm a doer not a talker. I like to walk the talk and I will not apologise for it.

I started this blog and titled it Myne Whitman Writes. The primary aim was to share MY writing and get feedback on my journey to print. I have said in several interviews that I was motivated by FFF and Favored Girl. Before August 2009, they were the only steady fiction bloggers I knew except for the 14th and serenity effort. (Yes I have been reading blogs that long). Once I started blogging, the response was awesome, followers, feedbacks, and most of all community. I got to know more writers and I began to get ideas.

After discussing my ideas with SO, my partner, I launched the blogville interactive story on November 11, 2009. That collaborative is now known as Cupid's Risk Series. Again the response was amazing and even more of an inspiration to me. In the first series, there were more than 15 contributors and sometimes over 50 comments on each post. It was a revelation to me that there were so many Nigerians online who liked to write and even more important read naija stories. I saw so much talent and I knew there was a market for it. While this gave me hope for the Nigerian Launch of my book A Heart to Mend, it also gave me ideas for something even bigger.

I will like to bring this clip from my interview with Spesh's World last year. It appeared on Spesh's Blog on Saturday December 12, 2009. Please pay attention to the bold and highlighted words.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I hope to have published more books by then and still remain in the midst of my readers and fans. Co-ordinating the Blogsville Interactive Story has shown me so much talent and given me some ideas for a writing/publishing collective. I'm still playing with those thoughts for now and will broach them to the necessary people in due time.
My goals when we entered the new year were several. The major ones of course were to release A Heart to Mend in Nigeria, and then complete and publish my next novel. With regards my blogging, first was to move the Cupid's Risk series to another blog. I wasn't the only writer and I did not want it to appear under Myne Whitman Writes. Another goal was to set a website where Nigerians but especially bloggers could come to share their writings without the constraint of a fixed story someone had already chosen.

So through out January and February, I discussed this idea with my main cheerleader and a couple of other bloggers, authors and publishers. The consensus was that seeing was believing. Stakeholders would be more impressed by a thriving community than an idea on paper or discussion. So while Cupid's Risk was on break in Feb, I had more time to brainstorm and I decided to roll out a pilot for my idea. This pilot would be on the blogger platform and if it works, we can move to a domain. So that led me to Feb 27, 2010 when I made the first post on the Naija Stories Blog.

Imagine my surprise and even joy when I came across a post by Sugabelly, a blogger I admire, sometime in March. I am a follower of her blog and I usually enjoy her posts, her writing and her drawing. One day I saw a picture of her laptop opened to a Nigerian Fiction Website. I wanted to visit the website immediately to see what they were about, offer my ideas to work with them or simply to read any writings on the site. The following are the comments I exchanged with Sugabelly.

Blogger Myne Whitman said...

...What is that Nigerian Fiction website? I already googled and couldn't find it. What's the URL?
March 6, 2010 12:56 AM

Blogger Sugabelly said...

@Myne Whitman: It's a website I'm building so people all over the world (mostly Nigerians though) can read and write Nigerian Fiction. Basically you sign up and you start writing a story, uploading it chapter by chapter and other members comment on each chapter of your story and cheer you on and fave their favourite stories, and we have Awards every quarter.

I did a post about it a while back. The url is but I haven't put it up yet so you'll just get a Parked by GoDaddy page or something. Don't worry, I'm working on it and by God's grace it will be up by summer.
March 6, 2010 10:59 AM

Blogger Myne Whitman said...

That's a great idea. I'm also working on a similar thing. But mine needs to involve the editors, publishers and agents. I like your domain name though and hopefully people buy in and it pulls together all we fiction bloggers. Well done, will definitely join once it's up.
March 6, 2010 1:25 PM

Blogger Myne Whitman said...
... BTW, was wanting to talk to you about the fiction site. Maybe we could work together? Send me an email at myne@
March 10, 2010 1:07 PM

Blogger Sugabelly said...

@Myne Whitman: Sure we can talk. I'll shoot you an email later today.
March 10, 2010 1:07 PM

Blogger Myne Whitman said...

I'm glad you feel better. I left you a comment sometime ago on how we can work together on the Nigerian Fiction idea but it seems you prefer going it alone. My site will be launching soon, hope you'll be a part of it. Have a nice weekend.
March 19, 2010 10:10 PM

Sugabelly  to myne

Mar 19
Hi Myne Whitman!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sorry I didn't email you sooner. It's not easy being a junior. There's so much work and so many exams plus I just finished midterms. Either way, I apologize. So............... you said you were launching a website. What is your site about? How is it similar to mine? And what do you have in mind in terms of working together?

Myne Whitman  to Sugabelly

Mar 22
Hi Sugabelly,

The website is now up on and hosted by blogger. All your questions will be answered there. I don't know your full vision yet but I think it's about the same, giving Nigerian stories of all genres a platform to be showcased on.

I wanted to see if you could join our team as an editor for the pilot project and since you already have a domain, I can invest in your work and when we're ready to move to a domain, it will be to yours. That way we'll be pulling resources together. I am still interested and if you are, please let me know. Even if not, I do not see a problem as there can never be too many opportunities.

Naijastories is being launched through a contest with cash prizes, I hope you'll get involved.

So fast forward to taday April 12, 2010. Cupid's Risk is in Season Two, Naija Stories is up an running and the Nigerian Edition of A heart to Mend is almost ready. My schedule when I sit to work is usually, check and reply my mails, do some work on the WIP manuscript, check FB and Twitter, do some book promo/publicity, back to the WIP, blog rounds, WIP, you get the idea. So I went on twitter earlier today and saw a DM from a follower asking if I owned Naija Stories ( I replied that I managed the website and had secured a domain name for it. I also wrote that I prefer to see it as a collective since there are almost 70 contributors to the site including published authors and aspiring writers. I sent the DM and later went back to writing my next book.

About an hour ago, I decided to do some blog rounds and came across the post referenced in the title and linked above. In the post, Sugabelly alleged that her idea of site was stolen by a blogger and asked if she should go ahead. There have been several replies denouncing the idea thief and the resulting website. No names were mentioned but I did not need names to know what and who she was referring to. These are her exact words;
However, one particular blogger continued to ask me about this project and in my naivety and stupidity I practically revealed almost everything about it to this person in detail thinking that they were just interested and enthusiastic about it. One week later this person went and set up a website that was the exact duplicate of my idea and project that I had just blogged about in excruciating detail.
The fact as I have shown above is that I had discussed her Nigerian Fiction Website with Sugabelly. I do not know where she has blogged about it in detail, all I know are in the exchanges with her. Yes I purchased my domain name in March 2010, however, NaijaStories has been in the pipeline since November 2009 and the first post was made in February even before my exchange with her. There is no law that says  two people cannot have the same ideas at the same time. I wanted to work together with Sugabelly when I found out that we shared a similar passion but she declined. She says in her post she is hurt, disgusted an so on. I wonder why she could not send me an email since March 22 to tell me her feelings.

As regards the allegation of plagiarism, I should ask Sugabelly whether she did not steal her idea from somewhere. The fact is that a website for collecting stories is not a new one. I belong to, Author's Den, Authonomy, Createspace, who do essentially the same thing. Other similar sites include Scribophile, Fictionaut, Storywhite, Booksie, Fanstory, Writer's Network, etc. That one person has an idea or has even put it in practice should not stop others. I was really hurt and upset at the tone of Sugabelly's post. If there are 50 sites where one can read American or British stories, why should just two for Nigeria become a matter of theft? I even recently found that on FB, there is a group called Nigerian Writers and there is also a Nigerian Fiction on Twitter.

I will try to stop here. I have sent Sugabelly an email to ask specifically if she were referring to me and but she has not responded. If indeed she is, then it should be brought to her attention that there is no monopoly on knowledge or ideas. Her ideas were not original and there is not even a website with content that anyone can plagiarize. I do not want her post to remain un-refuted for any period of time since some other bloggers have already seen and commented on it. So I want to put this rebuttal out there. 

Finally to her question on whether to go ahead with her plans. I say that she should please go ahead. I and NaijaStories will do all we can to help and support her. I do not see a problem with having as many opportunities out there as possible for Nigerian writers. 


  1. I'm glad you cleared the air because i immediately thot about you when i read her post. Names did not need to be mentioned.

  2. I'm also glad you cleared the air as it was obvious she was talking about you, despite the half-hearted, "Oh I don't want to talk about the issue or mention any names" nonsense. Personally, I've always thought that girl to be rude and immature. She has a lot of growing up to do. Just because Google exists, should Microsoft not have launched Bing? Just because Bill Gates launched Microsoft first, did it mean that Steve Jobs was copying him when he launched Apple? Please. There are other similar websites out there already for African writers -

  3. I was the person who messaged Nkem today to ask if she was the owner of Naija Stories. I am really into using the web to promote great ideas and I'm really into domain ownership, and given her many writing initiatives, I knew Naija Stories must be her baby. Her response to my question was the following, a response that I think accurately reflects her vision of the site:

    Hi dearie, yes I own the name and run it, but I prefer to look at it as a collective. We have about 70 registered writers and authors.

    I like how Myne opened this entry: she is a doer. I can practically guarantee that she is not the first person to think of this idea; she is, however, the first to get it up and running. I have had a blog idea since early 2007 that I have yet to put into action, and I have seen some do part of it. I offered to take over the Naija Blog awards from sting last year and I have yet to launch the site. Some people are doers and make things happen. Others of us need more of a push. My dad has always told me that there's plenty of room for everyone's ideas. No two people can execute an idea in the exact same way, and there is plenty of room out there for many to be on top.

    In response to Sugabelly's question, I too would say that she should go forward with her own vision. There is no way that something that she would implement would be the exact same as something Myne (or someone else) would. All these ideas will work for different audiences, or maybe the same people will find aspects of each site that they like. There is room for everyone!

    Congrats, Myne, and all the best, Sugabelly. I'm sure both sites will be a phenomenal success.

  4. Hey Myne,

    Nawa oh. This is a lotta unnecessary drama. I have not been on Sugar Belly's blog in a long time, but if things are really the way you have said, then that's unfortunate. That said, don't take it personal - as hard as that can be. If anything, I'd say you should take it as a sign that your work is doing well. Tehehehe. If NaijaStories was flunking, no one would raise an eyebrow.

    Besides, people will always have something to say mehnnnnn! I once blogged about the contents of my hang bag and an anonymous commenter accused me of stealing the idea from another blogger! LOL. Of course, I stole it --- cause you know that other blogger is the only one on earth who owns a hand bag --- or carries things in them. Tehehe.

    Myne, keep doing what you're doing jare!! Hapucha ifa.

    YOU RAWK!!!!!!!!

  5. Oh, I actually tried to register with NaijaStories oh. But the thing was meskafunking. I quit. lol. Perhaps, I'll try again.

  6. I think GNG perfectly said what I was thinking. I can't tell you how many times I've had an idea and didn't put it into action and someone else did and I slapped myself for it. Or times when me and someone else had the same idea and I either wanted to quit because I thought they had an edge. I think Sugabelly should also put her site up. There's enough room on the internet. I mean look at all the celeb gossip sites there are and a lot of them still do well. I can understand why she would be upset but I think honestly her approach was still wrong. She should have talked to you first. I don't even know you that well but I know you well enough to know that you would have handled it properly with her especially since you're a writer yourself and wouldn't want anyone doing that to you. I'm glad that you had evidence to prove your side because if you didn't this might have gotten pretty ugly. Anyways best of luck to the both of you. I will be supporting my fellow bloggers because that's how it should be.

  7. Hi Myne,

    You are right in saying that there are many other sites that are basically the same idea of collecting stories for comments, reviews, competitions and other things.

    I am a member of a screenwriting site that is based on a similar idea - and that was not the first one of those.

    Someone was bound to come up with an idea to do such a site for Nigerian fiction. There have certainly been some similar Facebook groups for quite a while - but a website offers more options than just a Facebook group.

    What makes a site special is all the little details of how it is run and the people who get involved with the site. It's far more than just the one initial idea, which many more people will also have.

    Hopefully Sugabelly - whose blog you have introduced me to with this post - will go ahead with her Nigerian fiction site and make it special in her own way as well.

    Best of luck with Naija Stories. I've been reading some of the stories and enjoy the site. :)


  8. LOL................
    Rather inappropriate, but around the same time you launched your website, my fiancé also launched a website of naija short stories.
    Did he also steal sugabelly's idea?
    Please.....carry on, the web is big enough for all of us, and Nigerian fiction is not something that can be contained to one, two or even twenty websites.

  9. WOW... Saw the post on Sugabelly's blog and really hoped it wasn't what I was thinking... I guess I was wrong. Anyway, I'll repeat what I said...

    "If it is what I think it is, it would still be of great help to many people trying to share ideas and improve upon their skills. You can never have too much of that."

    The more, the merrier... You guys should both do your thing...

  10. I like to read yours and Sugabelly's blogs...I think both of you are talented in different ways. I hope this is all sorted out soon and everything goes back to normal. I co-sign on GNG's statement that many ideas (albeit similar) exist in the world today, and there is room for all of them (paraphrased). Was on Sugabelly's this morning and adviced her to continue with her project but to change the name if it is in fact similar to yours, that way people who do not know the background story will not claim that one of you stole the idea from the other.

    Sorry to hear you guys are getting caught up in all of this, you will look back and see how unnecessary all this is: indirect statements and rebuttals. In fact, if possible...for future peace and out of MATURITY I say delete this post and you guys sort it out in PRIVATE, instead of allowing us commentators to extend the discussion (I also think Suga should delete her post too). I believe in speaking my mind a lot, so I will always comment if I have something valuable to add. I'm hoping for a sort of resolution here.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Wow, seems like there is a lot of drama going on lately. I don't think you should delete this post as Jaycee a writer, once someone has accused you of plagiarism, if you don't address it, it will haunt your career, and can even sink it. There's more than enough room for both of you to have your own website. Let the quality of the content of each website determine its success.

  13. Hi Myne,
    As you may know, I own a growing web development company. We are consulted by people every single day.
    I was sent to naijastories by a blogger so I could cast my vote and the first thing I thought was: OH THIS IDEA IS SIMILAR TO WHAT CLIENT X asked for sometime in October.

    I read Sugabelly's blog before coming here and you know, as a web developer, reading the obscured details all I thought of was, OH this idea must be some social networking idea...which is a common request at my company also. Trust me, I get so many fantastic ideas, some if well thought through will match already successfuls like Facebook. I left the website with the notion, "things happen". And then, here I am on your blog. Reading the whole thing, one thought: Was this all?

    For a couple of months, we have been working on a website with ideas similar to naijastories with a little more ideas here, ideas there. I wish I could even go into details. But my point, THIS IS NOT TOTALLY NEW. Its the way it is implemented that should be different.

    In fact,there's a developer that works with me who goes by the name Ace Newman on facebook. He writes a lot of fiction. He started a facebook page with something close to this where writers and readers could come together and make story RIGHT ON HIS PAGE(the Ace Newman Notes).

    My advise to Sugarbelly is for her to go on with her idea. Real ideas driven by passion will always come out strong.

    And oh yes DOERS and not talkers win. I have seen my own ideas go down the drain because I was always talking and bringing forward ideas and not doing them.

    I was telling my 'bum chum', Miss FlyHigh the other day and she agreed with me on this cool idea of hers,"You know, you are not the only one that has this idea. Run with it on time".

    Myne, continue your good works. You are an inspiration to me.

    And oh, there's a bug on the commenting system on the naijastories blog. I think you should change the way comments are posted. sometimes the captcha image is the last thing I see on the page and then the text area where input is supposed to be put is not visible.

  14. Hmmmmm,All this drama on blogsvile, I so do not like.Knowing you're someone who never gets involved, this must be annoying!
    I had already commented on sugabelly's before I saw this.
    So it's you?
    My sincere apologies.
    When it comes to you,No questions asked,I can personally vouch for you.
    Keep doing what you do on
    You go girl!

  15. im glad that you cleared the air cos i kept wondering who that was.hopefully everything gets resolved.

  16. I don't think there's anymuch left to say...and I do hope Sugarbelly goes ahead with her dreams....truth is, this idea is a universal one, even my sis in law does the same thing at the edit place.
    I also like the maturity with which you responded and I hope that would be enough to prevent this from turning into an unneccessary blog war....Much luv dear...keep naija stories rolling

  17. I really like the maturity with which you have handled this situation. No one has a monopoly on ideas. If you think of something, you can bet that someone else has thought of it too. The difference is how it is implemented. My impression is that you got your website up first and so Sugabelly is angry that you beat her to the punch. She needs to get over it - such is life. If we snooze, we lose. It's really that simple.

  18. na wa o, i seem to be the only blogger who had no idea whatsoever that her post referred to you. but this is building a mountain out of a mole hill. you both should continue with your ideas and build it to what you what it to become. no one should become a clog in the other's wheel or hold unnecessary beefs/bad belle.

    p.s : myne i missed u on my blog yesterday. was really hoping to see a comment from you, now i've messed up *sobs*.

  19. This rebuttal sure brings a lot of things to light and i'm glad u aired ur side. A yoruba proverb says "the sky is enough for birds to fly without touching one another. You guys can both work on similar ideas but the 'myne' element or the 'sugabelly' element makes it unique. Wish u both success.

  20. You can't imagine how glad I am that you cleared the air. You have handled this with maturity.
    Babe I am so so glad you did this.

  21. had no idea she was referring to you...but am glad you cleared the air

  22. myne whitman,please take it easy ,i guess both of you can sort it out but seems the other lady is very bitter about the success of that site,and thats why she had some people backing her up,it appears in her post.So pls take your time and dont let this kinda thing spoil the image you ve built

  23. awww my poor Myne, dont get upset about this, its just one of those things. For what its worth, u know I love Naija stories and I think you do a better job than anyone ever could because u have so much experience in the area

  24. I like how you handled this whole thing

  25. Ahh.... I must apologise for not taking the time to leave enough comment on this page.

    I liked how thorough you were in your explanation. I do feel that it is a shame you and SB could not have worked this out off blogger.

    You are two of my favs and I like what you both have to offer.

    Please, Nne, work it out with her. The internet is big enough for us all to exist peacefully.

  26. no one has the copyright on an idea, jeez, ideas are 12 a dime, if u dont do something about them, someone else is bound to be thinking same and doing it faster. africanwriting, writer'slodge, those are sites doing what naijastories is doing so kini big deal?
    bsyds lyk vera said, if naija stories wasnt successful, that issue wouldnt have come up. carry on dear.

  27. Na wa o... just do what you do...xx

  28. Never expected stuff of this sort to occur. But as most said the internet is a big place, we could just share ideas, coz what one person has although similar won't be the same as the other's
    Hope it can be worked out really soon.

  29. I think the other blogger doesn't know what the word 'plagiarism' means. Did you steal content from her website? No? The, there isn't any plagiarism here.

    About the idea, too bad she didn't start hers before yours. All said, this is a needless tussle.

  30. babe, i commend u for the way you handled this..and need i add, i couldn't have expected less from u.

    that being said..let it go, do your thing..we all know and love you for what u do!

  31. You guys on blogville make me laugh my heart out! Because Myne and Sugabelly are both trying to play the victim here, you have all been fooled and sucked in. Hahahahahaha! Let me say something: THERE IS NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE!
    It is an open secret that everything Myne does is an idea that she recycled from someone else. I mean, for real, everyone knows that she got the cupid's risk idea after Favored Girl and her team started the in my dreams it was simpler series and it blew up. Guess what? Now she has gone and recycled another person's idea and you are all defending her. Anyway let me leave story sha, blogville was getting dry before. It's drama like this that keeps things interesting.

  32. Good thing you cleared the air. I saw her blog and immediately felt the same. I am a quiet bystander watching from the sidelines. Anyway it is well...go ahead with your project and I suggest she does the same. We will support you both. No need for the drama. Stay well.

  33. Myne, You did the right thing and if this were a coutr case, you'd probably win it...with settlement not to sue for defamation of character or something like that!

    I work in an industry where we deal with ideas and we have come to understand that ideas never stay with one person. When you fail to act on it, someone else will pick it up, even without knowing that you ever thot of it. Sugabelly went too far and its not a good start for her. Thank goodness you've come out to state the case.

    Keep doing your thing. I'm proud of you as a fellow Nigerian. Your undiluted passion is what makes me not mind working with you.

  34. I believe there is enough room for writers on the internet. One issue could be the crux of over 1000 blogs!

    I believe with this post, you have cleared any doubts in the minds of those who read Sugabelly's post.

    Don't join issues. Move on!

  35. Are we all cool now?

    Sugarbelly? Can we hear from you?

    Myne: thanks for clearing the air...I said on sugarbelly's post that we sud kick the ass of the jerk(ette)...

    but if its you she was referring to, I'm sure ur explanations would calm her down...u rock girl, keep doing what you do...and so should she

    You both have our support and stories and poem...

    PS: so much drama on blogsville nowadays...can someone pls pass cake around. plsssss....where is omotee and her 10inch cake?

  36. People please stop calling this drama and making a big deal out of it. Myne, I have a lot of respect for you and I honestly think this is just a big misunderstanding and people should leave you and SugaBelly to sort it out. A lot of people probably did not think of your site when they read that post. I know I didn't. I think you should have tried to settle this between yourselves since SugaBelly did not mention your name. If she had then it would make perfect sense to also call her out. People on BVille LOVE blowing things out of proportion! I had no idea SugaBelly was talking about you in her post. I still don't think she was or maybe I am just VERY slow for not putting two and two together.

  37. And reading the other comments I have seen that Beautiful and Doll also did not know that the post was about you.

  38. I read your rebuttal with great interest and admiration Myne. The fact that you even had the email exchanges to back up your side of the story tells me that you are a woman of great integrity and intelligence.

    You did the right thing - is all i can say. Keep your head up, and don't get too bogged down by pettiness and cattiness. We women do that very well. Lol!

  39. Since no names were mentioned, maybe you should have discussed with her first before publishing this long/defensive post. Also, by claiming that you're a doer and not a talker, it sounds like you're taking a dig at her for taking so long to put up her site. From the comments you included in your post, it seems you write full-time while she's a student.

    For what it's worth, I agree with you regarding the fact that no idea is truly unique. There's definitely enough space on the internet for everyone.

    Everyone just say 'WooSah!' :)

  40. I think its a smart thing you cleared the air and u did it in a very matured way too, u always are anyway. there was no need for names to be mentioned, if she was referring to u, fine u've cleared the air, if not, no big deal.

    everything good we see these days are a product of someone's idea which was built upon by someone else. the very idea of blogging must have been someone's idea and now a zillion people have improved upon it. makes life beautiful, doesnt it?

    i love ur blog and how u write, keep it up.

    next story please?!