Rebuttal - When Someone steals your ideas.

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.