Monday, April 12, 2010

Rebuttal - When Someone steals your ideas.

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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. 

I just want a chance with F

Posted in:
After her outburst, the silence lengthened between them.

“Ifeoma!" Her mother's scolding voice cut through the charged atmosphere.

"Is that how to greet your mother's guest, ehn? With confrontation?” Letting out a loud hiss, Mama came to Chinedu’s aide, stopping what was about to turn into a train wreck.

“Don’t mind her, my son. How are you?”

If she was a meddling mother, he was gladly an enabler. At least, she came through for him. Guy! You fuck up. Why did you have to go telling Iphey you deleted her numbers? Dear God… Smiling sheepishly, he could have kicked himself for the nearly perfect impression of the awkward teenager he was putting on show. Cupid was surely having another laugh at him.

Highly irritated, Iphey cut Mama's bonding session with her perceived potential son-in-law short. “OK… I really don’t have time for this. I have to get back to work.” She stormed off, leaving Chinedu with Mama. At the door, she hurriedly mumbled some awkward but polite goodbyes and “nice to see you” to Ngozi and Otunba. In truth, she wasn’t totally thinking about her job after that last tidbit about deleting her details. She would have agreed to jump on to a bed of hot coals if it meant avoiding Chinedu.

The man might have been shaky with his words in the beginning, but he definitely wasn’t playing at the end. Even when caught off guard he exuded a natural confidence that couldn’t be taken away from him. He had just told her he had been ready to throw her over and here she was still salivating. The fact that he was just as gorgeous as the last time she saw him wasn’t helping either.


She looked up and Chinedu was in front of her. His eyes looked straight into hers unflinchingly. This was not the right time to be gazing into the eyes of an alluringly attractive man. Sanity had to be preserved. Brushing past him, Iphey dashed into her car.

Let him stew in it. Leaving him like this made her heart ache, but she was too proud. The high of their reconciliation had been dented by finding out that it had been so easy for him to forget her. And it seemed that the pride of her car had been dented as well, her engine spluttered and died when she turned it on. She couldn’t believe what was happening right when she needed to escape the most.

Again and again, the car refused to start. When she turned the ignition, the uncooperative engine made a sound that seemed to be laughing at her futile attempts to get it to work. Iphey felt herself on the verge of explosion. Surely, this much exasperation couldn’t be contained in one body… She was one second away from bursting into a torrential flood of tears when a deep soothing voice came through her window.

“I’ll take you.”

Iphey decided to play the hand fate had dealt her. Whatever her beef with him, the fuming Funmi still waited in the office. She didn't even want to fight him off any longer. She was in Chinedu’s car with all her stuff before she knew it. As they drove in silence, she noticed he was smiling. Out of amusement this time, not awkwardness.

“What is so funny?”

Chinedu let out a quiet laugh. It was that of a confident and mildly amused man. “So you sabi Ibo like that?” Iphey hadn’t realised she had been cursing in Ibo at her choppy day, her manager and her car. They both burst into laughter. The tension brewed by all the day’s previous events melted into oblivion. There was something about him that always put her at ease. It was the same calm she felt when he comforted her during Obi’s hospitalisation. Her mind drifted, envisioning being held in his arms, totally at peace without a care in the world.

“You always know exactly what to say or do. When you aren’t having strange women over or robbing people at gunpoint, of course.”

The laughter died at once. A feeling of intense stupidity enveloped Iphey. She had no idea why she had said that. Before she could take it back, Chinedu had veered off the road, stopping sharply by some roadside stalls. He was visibly angry.

“Who do you think you are? You no get secret? You no get past? The fact that you know mine does not give you the right to throw it in my face all the time."

He threw his hands up. "Women! You say you want honesty, then you run when you hear the truth. You say you are not interested in me, then you freak out at the sight of another woman. What the hell do you want from me?”

Iphey was dumbfounded. He was irate. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him, reverting to a childhood habit of playing with her fingers when nervous. She now looked down at them.

“Answer me! Answer me now!”

“A chance?” she whispered.

Chinedu thought he was hallucinating. He could feel everything inside him softening, turning to mush. “What?”

“I said...a chance. I’m sorry for joking about that. It sounded funny in my head.”

She laughed awkwardly in an attempt to minimise the gravity of what she was saying, and looked down at her fingers again. “I was scared. I still am. You know how they say, ‘Be careful what you wish for’? Well, I wished for someone who made me feel safe. And you do. The violence of your past scares me. But I could work through that. I just want a chance with you...”

Chinedu felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. In their place, an army of butterflies suffused his stomach. Gently, he lifted her chin so he could see her eyes. They were sincere. Afraid, but sincere.

“Iphey, I swear I’m not that person anymore. I promise you. The confusion that led me to that life is not part of me anymore. In fact, I am far from confused. I have never been as sure of anything as I am of us. So if you still want that chance, I can give it to you wholeheartedly. I am serious about you and I need you to understand that.”

Iphey finally found herself submerged in the eyes she had been trying to avoid. Relief and happiness overwhelmed her. Something else did as well. It was lust. She found herself wanting to be lost in more than his eyes. Before either of them could finish their train of thought, they were lost in an intense and passionate kiss. They didn’t even notice the petty traders outside the window until the knocking came.

“Oga, if u go use your enjoyment block customer for me, make you buy something now!”

Chinedu couldn‘t care less. He would buy the entire stall if he had to. Finally kissing Iphey had been bliss. He wanted to do kiss her again and keep doing it.

Iphey smiled widely. The kiss had felt so natural; so right. Chinedu was the man of her dreams. Literally. Those eyes...they smiled into each other's eyes and drew closer again.

Her phone beeped. "Oh no...Chinedu please, let's get to my office."


So that is it folks. No more love interest ish, Iphey and Chinedu are now proper lovebirds, lol. That kiss, hmmmm...sure made me go awwww....Now go over to the left sidebar and vote for who you want to read more of in the next chapter coming up on Thursday.

Our contributor is F, now I wonder what that stands for. She is one part of Half and Half. F is just beginning to tap into her writing talent and I think she is amazing. She has a shortlisted entry in the Naija Stories Contest (BTW, you can go over and vote for her) and a great write-up of a Bar scene on her blog.

Writing about her entry she said, "I've always had it in me to write so I reluctantly put in a few entries over there, and even entered one for the website launch contest which fortunately got shortlisted. Did I mention I was scared out of my mind and DID NOT want to do this? Writing is the easy part, showing it to people is TERRIFYING."