National Lessons in Plagiarism


Anyone who has been paying attention to this presidential election knows that the Republican National Convention has kicked off. Making national headlines this morning, it was reported that Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, plagiarized her speech from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, when she made her own speech during the President’s campaign for the White House.

After seeing the footage side by side, holy crap…I’m sorry, but that speech was blatantly plagiarized.

Here’s my big issue with this, and it has nothing to do with politics, believe it or not.

Obama and Trump

Melania Trump (right) was accused of plagiarizing her RNC speech from First Lady Michelle Obama’s (left).

I’m an Academic Librarian and I teach students how not to do this every single day. Suddenly, a woman who could become the First Lady of the United States, does it and it is viewed by the public worldwide. This is a woman that young students could be looking up to on a daily basis very soon. As someone who works in collegiate academia, I am so not okay with this.

The Trump campaign has brushed it off like, “It’s no big deal,” while everyone else in the world of higher education along with me is screaming, “YES IT IS!!” And while I understand the arguments of, “well, it was her speech writer,” and, “every candidate’s spouse is going to say that,” it’s the fact that there was little to no attempt to paraphrase. Being able to say what was said by the First Lady could have been formulated and worded differently very easily by whoever wrote the controversial speech. Or even if Melania Trump wanted to say something like, “a few years back, Michelle Obama said of her husband Barack [fill in quote]. Well, I can say the same thing about my husband, Donald Trump.” Plagiarism, in essence, is a very simple thing to avoid.

Long story short, someone, whether Trump or otherwise, needs to be held accountable. Honestly, Mrs. Trump is lucky she’s not getting sued since I’m guessing Mrs. Obama’s speech isn’t copyrighted. There have been students who have been expelled from universities for pulling what happened at the RNC. I can’t help but feel that there should be a lesson learned here.

I’m shocked and disappointed as a professional in the field.


10 Books to Read in the Dark

flashlight bookAnyone who knows me well knows that I have a nightly routine for winding down, at least on weeknights. At 9:00pm, my daughter is put to bed and kissed goodnight. Following that, if I’m not in pajamas, I quickly change into them, take my nightly medication, then curl up in bed with a book and read until I feel my eyes get heavy. This usually takes about an hour or so. If my husband falls asleep before then, so much for the better because that’s when I turn off the light on my nightstand and pop open my booklight or dim my Kindle.

I love to read in the dark. I find when I do that my senses are heightened, and since I’m focusing them all on whatever I’m reading, that makes the experience so much more exhilarating and informative. My Kindle Fire was bought for backlight purposes and organizing my e-books and other online reads in a more convenient fashion, leaving my first generation Kindle waiting for a new owner (perhaps my mother, but I haven’t decided yet). I have invested good money in ordering good booklights that light my pages well, but won’t blind me or my sleeping husband, have good battery life, and are durable during travel. For those who are interested, I highly recommend this one right here, which you can get a great deal on with Amazon. Durable, affordable, and they are available via Prime, so they get to you quickly. But I digress…

I have read a number of books in the dark to this heightened experience. Today I present to you my ten choices for books that are awesome to read in the dark. Get your “Books To Read” list and flashlights ready boys and girls! Here they are in no particular ranking or order.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Traits: young adult, science fiction, dystopia

After Mad Max: Fury Road took home six Oscars for multiple effects having to do with creating the atmosphere of the film, there’s a lot that can be said for the dystopian genre. Yes, there are a number of movies and books (one I’ve written myself) having to do with this theme, but I believe Collins’ interpretation of the post-apocalyptic American landscape is one that feels all too real. Each time the main character of Katniss finds herself in a period of silence and deep thought, the air around me becomes a deeper shade of black as I feel her sense of foreboding. Emotion and energy can run wild with these ones. Don’t jump if your cat suddenly nuzzles you like I did.

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Traits: classic, mystery

Master detective Sherlock Holmes is the end all king of mystery and to not read one of his adventures in the dark is a sin. A sin I tell you! When you’re in the dark, you can almost feel the London fog and rain closing in around you and the scent of pipe tobacco is in the air. I personally recommend any one of the stories with the exception of “The Final Problem.” That one always leaves me a little too blue at the end. No spoilers here, but grab a tissue and don’t lose hope.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Traits: fiction, triller, religious and history based

I know there may be some readers who think The Da Vinci Code is the reigning Dan Brown novel, but hear me out here. Do not base Angels & Demons on the horrific movie that came out a few years back. Even Ewan McGregor in a cassock couldn’t save that one. Again, I digress. As you are reading this particular novel in the dark, you begin to latch on to the themes of fire, earth, air, and water far more dramatically than if you were reading this on a park bench in the sun. The ideas of drowning or being buried alive freak you out now? Try thinking those thoughts when you can’t see much passed your booklight’s reach. Your senses get much more heightened when it comes to your own mortality.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Traits: non-fiction, crime, medical science based

This book takes a look at the scariest creation on this earth, the human brain, and dissects it by exploring the question of, “What just makes someone mentally insane?” Written by author Jon Ronson, who also penned the fabulous The Men Who Stare at Goats, this read is not without humor on what can be a dark topic. The dark will actually have you analyzing yourself and wondering if you are as stable as you think you are. Don’t worry. As Ronson points out, if you question your stability, you’re probably good. Those who are unstable never question it. But it’s still fun to let the dark mess with your psychiatric state of mind a bit.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Traits: fiction, current events, forgiveness, adolescence

Among the newest of my favorite reads, The Kite Runner brings to light a side of Afghanistan that many do not realize exist. One that once very much like our own in America. Families dined together, children grew together, and celebrated their spiritual beliefs just the same. The dark themes of this novel have more to do with regrets and forgiveness than the physical darkness of the world around us. Reading this one by flashlight will make you feel that emotion even more. You may want a couple tissues nearby as well. I will warn you that there are some heavy themes throughout the story (including rape and torture), but you will feel light by the end. This is one of those books that lifted me and enlightened me in many ways while suffering the regular dose of hate in today’s world.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Traits: youth/young adult, fantasy, easy read

These books are among my favorites and easily set a theme for my high school years. Plus they are great reads for any age as well. While following the adventures of young princess Cimorene, these stories like to mix themselves up with bits of fractured fairy tales that make being in the dark and knowing you are under the moon and stars more fun! Dragons, witches, magicians, and wizards all play a part in this four book series of epic adventures. These are great books to read with kiddos while out on a summer camping trip. Just sayin’.

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

Traits: young adult, fiction, fantasy, adolescence

Many of us out there have read the Harry Potter books time and time again. But have you ever read them in the dark? If you haven’t, I recommend you do so. Grab your flashlight, chant “Lumos!” as you tuck in, and see how much darker the series gets as you read scenes in the brooding hallways of the North Tower or the Shrieking Shack with nothing but air around you. You’ll wish for a butterbeer after you put down the later books (or a firewhiskey!) Nox!

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Traits: sci-fi/fantasy, horror, regency tale

This is the first book I ever remember reading in the dark and since then, it’s the only way I’ll read it. While this novel is not as well known (imagine how excited I was when I met someone who loved it as much as I), it remains one of my favorite horror stories of all time. Sorry Mr. King. But I still get chills when the main character Nic leaves a house of death and whispers, “This is vivisection.” The darkness around you seems to close in as you realize something not human with no physical shape is following the main characters and you wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s not all fiction after all. Also note that this is the first novel that kept me up reading until 3:00am in high school. Apologies to my mother for that.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Traits: non-fiction, science, psychology

A book like this usually isn’t in my normal repertoire, but in recent years I’ve been coming to terms with being an introvert, with anxiety no less. My library of employment had recently acquired this read and after looking over the details on the cover, I decided that this bit of literature would be in my best interests with learning to deal with myself in certain situations. Why is this book fantastic in the dark? The tranquil of the air around you helps you focus on the information about introverts and how that quiet and calm becomes their alpha and omega in their being. This is a read that even extroverts may find informative and great for a night in when everyone else is off doing their own thing.

The Know-It-All by AJ Jacobs

Traits: memoir, non-fiction, self-improvement

Those who are familiar with the work of AJ Jacobs have come to know him as a human guinea pig. He likes to use himself as the subject of experiments and see how they improve his life (or the opposite). In his first book, he attempts to read the Encyclopedia Britannica (now out of print in hardcopy, boo) in a year. He does this in order to make himself the smartest man on earth! While he talks about this, he chronicles how he and his wife attempt to conceive their first child and how it (as well as the encyclopedia reading) takes a toll on their marriage. Why read this in the dark? Personally, I think it makes you feel closer to Jacobs as a human being. We all hope to better ourselves in our own ways, and if you’re like me, you think about this a lot when you’re falling asleep for the night. So he becomes very relatable. He is a humorist, editor at large for Esquire magazine, and above all, human. His situations are sometimes not that different from any other one of us, try as he might.

I know this list may seem all over the place and some aren’t what you would consider “nighttime” reading, but we all have our different tastes when it comes to books. Some of us hate scary stories, but we could always get behind a book that can thrill us. Some of us like lighter reads before bed, while others do not take to fiction well. This is why I included the little section on traits to give you an idea on what you are getting into with each read.  Choose wisely and enjoy. Regardless, I recommend each and every one of these books in the dark!

Happy reading my friends!

The Necessity of Information Literacy

Warning: rant ahead!

Last week I received some excellent news. I have been offered a Reference and Instructional Librarian position at a local community college that I had interviewed for. To say that I am excited is a complete understatement and I am looking forward to moving up in the professional library world and getting in front of students and being a professor from time to time (not to mention my own office that goes with the position). I am a huge advocate for information literacy for all, not just college students, and I find it frustrating that there are those who don’t take their time to familiarize themselves with this data driven society that we find ourselves living in today. Let me explain.


With my work at the public library (where I am a Teen and YA Librarian), I have assisted patrons, young and old, who not only rarely use a computer, but absolutely outright refuse to learn anything about them. The phrase “You do it!” has been barked at me more than a time or two (which, by the way, is a huge no no and a breach in library etiquette). The truth is that librarians are not computer servants. While we make a point to be caught up on trends, we are not IT professionals. We, as a profession, are here to provide helpful service to those who are trying to access information. The line in the sand is that we can only help you so far before it becomes the fact that we are doing everything for you. Sadly, it doesn’t work this way. Yes, we are here to help you, but only to the point where you want to help yourself. If you are extremely clueless as to how to use today’s technology, here are few suggestions I have:

  1. Check your local library to see what programs they offer on learning to use a computer, a tablet, or any other piece of technology you find yourself needing to use often. If your library doesn’t offer any, ask the librarian if they could locate some information for you on where it might be offered. A lot of this is free to library patrons, programs included, and sometimes you are able to work with the instructor in a one-on-one setting. It exists. The library I currently work at provides it via an appointment.
  2. Learn/do the following things:
    1. Obtain an email. Check it often. Learn to manage your messages. Many businesses and people refuse to communicate in any other way. Believe me. Introverts thrive on this.
    2. Learn to type on a computer keyboard. Practice it until you can manage 50 words per minute, which is the expected average for someone in the workplace. You can always take a typing test at a website like this one. No one is going to type any of your documents for you unless you pay them, and certainly not your local librarian. I can guarantee that.
    3. Obtain a USB drive/key. Learn how to save, scan, and edit documents to it. Keep it in a safe place and under good maintenance so you will not risk losing any documents that are important to you, especially if that key contains the only copies you have. Also, always back up important documents by printing them or also saving them to your email or computer hard drive.
  3. Obtain some kind of guide to look over if you ever have some kind of question about computers and technology. The For Dummies and Idiot’s Guide series are awesome at keeping up on technology trends and publishing up to date information on how to use the basic functions of computers, tablets, and a variety of programs. When in doubt, ask a librarian if any are available at your library, or if not, where you can purchase a guide about the specific topic you are researching and learning. They are always available at Barnes & Noble and
dos wof

Anyone else remember this?

This topic tends to get under my skin more than others because the technology we are familiar with today is nothing new. I grew up knowing what to type in DOS in order to play an ancient version of Wheel of Fortune on an old desktop. I learned to type without looking at the keyboard thanks to programs like Mavis Beacon. I learned the basics of HTML thanks to online blogs like LiveJournal. And I have typed an endless amount of pages and reports in my academic and professional career as a student, writer, and librarian. To top it off, a lot of basic tech functions (such as using a Windows computer and typing) are taught during middle through high school. If technology has been around for so long and has become such a standard in our society, why are there still people who do not understand what an email is (or have one for that matter)? The honest truth is if you are not retired and are a functioning person in the working world of today, you should know how to use the basic tools of technology. Otherwise, you are holding yourself, and at time others, back. And with how readily available it is to everyone to learn, there is no one to blame but yourself.

The other thing that really bothers me is that there are those who know how to use technology and do not use it responsibly. And I’m not just talking about internet bullying or anything of the like. I’m talking about people who don’t check their facts and just post whatever bull to suit their own agenda. Donald Trump? Ugh. I’m already sick of seeing his face flood my Facebook feed. Half of what the man says is either untrue or the exact opposite of something he said the week before. Stephen Colbert even called him out on it on this Late Show clip and I wanted to reach through the television and shake the man’s hand. Colbert and his crew fact checked and caught him again and again and again! Politics aside, it was beautiful. The truth is there are ways to fact check what’s out there very easily that do not involve Google or Wikipedia. While those websites do provide some interesting information*, not everything that is stated on the internet is true.

What do I recommend? Do some research from a database at an academic library. See if a librarian can help you find some information in the stacks about what you are researching. And when in doubt, is a great website that likes to debunk pop culture news that is fake. To do anything less is careless and lazy.

So there you have it. That is my rant on information literacy. For someone who isn’t information literate, it may seem like a lot. But the truth is this concept has been around for so long that now the person can blame no one but themselves for having so much to catch up on. We are a technology based society. We function because of technology and its use. And if a person does not use that technology that is offered in this world, then they cannot function to their full potential in this world that they live in, especially when learning about it is available to them.

*When in doubt, check the footnotes on Wikipedia to see where people are quoting. I’m not saying everything on Wikipedia is untrue, but the people who cite their information are more likely to be correct than others.

Giveaway Results

Hello everyone! winnerwinnerchickendinner

The giveaway on Goodreads for Lore: the Legend of River closed on Monday night and here are my three winners:

  • V. McKain
  • Raymond Stone
  • Mike O’Neil

I will be sending out your autographed copies this Monday and I hope you enjoy them!

Stay tuned on my blog for my next giveaway (hopefully next month)…

The Giveaway is Open!


Hey gang! The giveaway for Lore: the Legend of River by yours truly! is now open on GoodReads! So far 70 people have signed up to win one of three signed copies, but be sure to register on the website and enter for your chance to win! Click on the link RIGHT HERE and scroll down to click on the “Enter Giveaway” button. Entry and shipping is completely free. Enjoy and good luck!

PS 25 people have listed Lore as To Read on their GoodReads account and I have received my first rating…5 STARS! I’m really happy people are enjoying it and I can’t wait to share it with even more people. Please feel free to write a review for me. If you have some criticisms, I can take it. What matters to me is that I’m getting people reading.

It’s Giveaway Time!


Want a free, autographed copy of Lore: the Legend of River by yours truly? Then starting Saturday, February 20th, head on over to and enter the giveaway! From February 20th to Leap Day, you can enter to win one of three copies of the novel for your home library.

As soon as the giveaway link goes live, I will post it here for all of you readers!

Thanks once again for your support and good luck!

Giveaway winners are chosen at random by Goodreads. Those who enter will not be contacted by me or Goodreads unless you are a winner.

A Giveaway is Coming! Stay Tuned!


Hello everyone! Coming in the next week I will be having my very first giveaway! Who else is excited? Via Goodreads, I am going to be giving away 3 autographed copies of my first novel, Lore: the Legend of River. If you are not a member of Goodreads, I highly recommend you sign up because not only is it an awesome way to discover new books, but who doesn’t love free books? I mean, c’mon!

So stay tuned and I will let you know when the countdown is on!

…oh, I just got chills!