Shocking Similarities Between Mhairi McFarlane's IF I NEVER MET YOU and my book, WELCOME TO SINGLEHOOD

by Jessamine Pearl

UPDATE:  Please click here to read about the response I received from Harper Collins.

In April 2018, I published a little novel called WELCOME TO SINGLEHOOD as an eBook (the paperback was added later in August 2020, mainly as a souvenir for my mom and myself). I recently re-edited my book and published it under a new title. While the storyline remains the same, I focused on smoothing out the writing until I was satisfied enough to read my novel without having the urge to tweak it again. 

So I was pretty stunned to discover that a best-selling author named Mhairi McFarlane came out with a book in March 2020 titled IF I NEVER MET YOU which has shocking similarities to my book.

 

Yes, I get it. Nobody has to explain to me the concept of parallel thinking/creativity. Deep Impact vs. Armageddon. Ants vs. A Bug's Life. Similarities happen to everyone in the creative field--they even happen to me unknowingly. But this is far beyond that.

Now, I'm not claiming that Ms. Mhairi McFarlane plagiarized my book. She's obviously a talented, established author much more famous and successful than I'll ever be. As such, I really have nothing to gain or lose by making this post. I also want to be very clear that I have nothing against Ms. McFarlane personally. But I need to at least protect my creative integrity by releasing the facts and leaving it up for the internet to decide.

So, without further ado, here are the similarities between Mhairi McFarlane's If I Never Met You (which seems to be extraordinarily popular, btw) and the older, suckier version of my book, Welcome to Singlehood

First, the character names (I changed a few names in the newer version of my book):

MY NOVEL

Tristan Ryan

Grant Carter

Denise Price *aka* Dee

Megan Hayes

Emily

Marcus

HER NOVEL

Jamie Ryan Carter

Dan Price

Diana *aka* Di

Megan Mooney

Emily

Marcus

Okay, maybe you think, "Ehhh who cares. Those are common names."

Then let's move on to the main course--the writing. I felt I needed to color-code them in order to simplify the passages so people aren't trapped reading for an hour.

Purple with aqua highlight = Extremely similar phrasing.

Red = Similar idea, only worded slightly different.

Blue w/ Pink highlight = Extremely similar, but located farther away from each other rather than side-by-side.

*** You can skip over black text, but please read any text in red and highlighted sentences.***

Please also pay attention to WHEN the similar writing occurs (yellow box on the left) because it happens at an IDENTICAL PLOT POINT in the story.

*All excerpts are taken from Mhairi McFarlane's If I Never Met You, published 2020

*All excerpts are taken from Jessamine Pearl's Welcome to Singlehood, published 2018

HER NOVEL

When the two main characters get stuck in a broken elevator together.

Page 109      

     He shook his head and jammed his finger against the button marked HELP.

     After a tense few seconds, the speaker below crackled into life. "Hello! Who is this?"

     "Hi," Jamie said. "It's Jamie Carter, in criminal. This lift has stopped."

     "Hold on!" Mick the security guard bellowed.

Page 110

     Jamie's brow furrowed as he leaned on his forearm and jabbed the intercom again. "Speak to us, Mick."

     "Right... The maintenance company say it's going to be an hour. Hang tight."

     Jamie's brow furrowed further and Laurie gasped.

     "Sorry, that sounded like you said an HOUR?" Jamie said.

Page 112

     He rolled up his other sleeve and sat down, sighing heavily.

     Laurie realized there was no longer any reason for her to be standing either, and followed suit.

     "Are you claustrophobic?" Jamie said.

     Laurie shook her head, self-conscious that the wave of panic she'd just felt was obviously visible.

     She was telling the truth; she wasn't, to her knowledge, claustrophobic.

*****

     She'd been fine in this lift, until that very second, when the four walls pressed in and with no hope of escape, her chest tightened, and her fists clenched, nails digging into her palms.

     "Breathe," Jamie said, watching Laurie. "Concentrate on breathing. We'll be out of here before you know it."

Page 118

     Laurie was starting to feel light pressure from her bladder too. She had visions of having to squat in the corner while Jamie Carter turned his back and whistled a Maroon 5 tune.

When the new love interest surprises the main character with a necklace she'd wanted earlier in the story. 

Page 406

     Jamie stooped and rifled in his bag.

"Open this. I was going to post it from Lincoln."

     Laurie fumbled it open with cold hands and found a short note, wrapped around a small cardboard box. She opened it. It was the necklace she'd admired on Steep Hill.

     "I'd got my mum to buy it and send it," Jamie said.

When the main character breaks up with her long-term boyfriend in the beginning of the story

Page 28

     "Is there someone else?" Laurie said, not because she thought it possible but you were supposed to ask this, weren't you? In this weird theater they were playing out, at Dan's insistence. They worked together--on a practical level alone, this seemed improbable.

     "No, of course not," Dan said, sounding genuinely affronted.

Page 33

     "I need to know why this is happening. I know you think you've given me reasons but you haven't. Only vague bullshit about us wanting different things."

*****

     Laurie paused. "Just tell me the whole truth, however hard it is. This not knowing is worse, Dan. Look at what you're doing to us, after our whole lives together. You owe me that."

Page 36

     "Why would you leave me like this?" Why would you do this to us?" Laurie said, and she sounded like someone else. Who was this mournful, begging woman?

Page 31

     Laurie finally accepted in that moment that this was real, they really might be over.

When the main character finds out her ex-boyfriend commits to a new girl for the very reason they broke up.

Page 77

     Dan hadn't been sure about taking this huge step with the love of his life, but with Megan, it had happened instantly. He gave to her what he'd withheld from the woman who'd washed his socks for the last decade.

When a coworker asks the main character how she's feeling about her recent breakup.

Page 94

     When she reached Salter's, the oldest of the receptionists, Jan, came racing out from behind her desk to put an arm around Laurie, to tut and coo: "Are you all right, love?"

     "Yes, thanks. Totally fine."

     "But no, are you all right?"

Page 180

     She'd always liked Ruth, but since Dan's mum took Dan's side, she'd assumed Ruth had done the same and their obligatory "sorry to hear" "I'm fine thanks for asking" text exchange had been friendly but fairly economical on both sides.

When the main character and her new love interest eat dinner, and she orders a bunch of food without being shy.

When the main character spills her entire story about her ex boyfriend to the new love interest, despite knowing she shouldn't.

Page 200

     By contrast, the benefit of not being on a real second date with Jamie Carter, or high on the natural drug of infatuation, was that Laurie was more than able to do justice to a shared T-bone steak, bone marrow gravy, dripping fries, cheesy mash, and creamed spinach, after Jamie had taken the obligatory photographs.

Page 123

     With the second round, and then a third, Laurie must’ve had pretty much a bottle of red wine on an empty stomach and she was being a level of candid with Jamie she was going to regret in the morning. Yet she couldn’t stop herself.

When the main character tells her new love interest, who is younger than her, that he "has an old soul."

Page 337

     She told Jamie how his advice to tell her mother had been spot-on. "I thought you were a new soul but you might be an old soul. As my mother says," Laurie said.

When the new love interest tells the main character he used to be "angry at the world."

Page 123

     "Yeah, I get that. I've been that angry at the world in my time."

MY NOVEL

Chapter 18

     Tristan scanned the elevator panel and pushed the button embossed with a phone icon. To my relief, the security guard answered. In a calm voice,          Tristan reported the situation and informed him we were okay.

     "All right, we'll get you out as soon as possible, but it might take a while," the security guard said. "There's a power outage in the entire neighborhood. They have to attend to a few other people first, but they'll get ot you soon enough. Just sit tight."

*****

     "It's going to be okay." He sat down on the floor, leaning against the other side. "They'll probably get us out of here in a few hours, tops."

      "A few hours?" I yelped.

*****

     "Let's play a game, all right?" He unbuttoned the cuffs on his dress shirt and rolled up his sleeves. "Get your mind off things."

*****

     I slid to the floor, freaking out. The dim greenish-yellow light made me feel like I was in a jail cell.

*****

     He leaned his head back against the wall as we sat in silence. I pulled my knees close to my chest and hugged them tight. The elevator felt like it was getting smaller by the second, the walls seemingly caving in. I started to wheeze as I buried my face into my lap, trying to block out the outside world.

     "Hey," Tristan said in a comforting tone, "don't worry."

     "I'm kind of claustrophobic. And this is why." I closed my eyes, trying not to cry.

*****

     "It's going to be okay." He sat down on the floor, leaning against the other side. "They'll probably get us out of here in a few hours, tops."

*****

     "A few hours?" I yelped. "My bladder will explode by then."

     "Be my guest. I'll turn around."

     "No way am I doing that." I firmly shook my head. "That's just gross."

     "Trust me, I shared a bathroom with my sister growing up. I've seen it all."

Chapter 36

     "Here." He shoved the signature bright-turquoise gift bag into my hands. "I was going to give this to you on Christmas, but you seem really upset. I couldn't wait."

     With shaky hands, I pried open the bag and unwrapped the box. As I lifted off the cover, I gasped. Inside was the Tiffany heart necklace I wanted, the one Brayden had refused to buy. It was even the more expensive version, with a string of tiny diamonds in the corner. I couldn't believe Tristan remembered. So many months had passed since I mentioned it on our first date.

Chapter 4

     I peered at him more closely. "Is there someone else?"

     "No," he groaned. "Things have been bad for a long time. You know that."

Chapter 4

     I held my head in my hands. "I don't want to get stuck wondering why, so please cut the bullshit. If I mean anything to you at all, just tell me why. There's nothing that haunts a person more."

     "There is now why, Ally. It's just..." He fumbled for the right words. "I don't see us together forever."

     "That's not a real answer. Come on, Brayden, please. Just tell me. I can tell you things I don't like about you."

Chapter 4

     I nodded before suddenly shouting, "No, I don't!" and gave away my last shred of dignity. As much as I wanted to walk away with my head held high, my emotions got the better of me. It was obvious this breakup was truly going to happen, and I was desperate to save whatever was left between us, however little it was.

******

     "How can you just let me go like this?" The tears started to come back.

Chapter 37

     So it was true. Brayden was engaged. After eight years with me, he still hadn't been sure. Less than a year with Camelia, and he'd already proposed. I wish I could say it didn't bother me, but the truth was that my ego took a major hit.

Chapter 7

     "So anyway, how are you feeling about the breakup?"

     "I'm fine," I mumbled.

     "I really doubt that," she said, and it made me like her that much more. "Tell me how you're really feeling."

Chapter 7

     While it was nice that people cared, I was never quite sure how to respond besides giving the fake, obligatory "I'm fine." How do you tell someone you're actually not fine and your entire life and the wedding you've fantasized about since the third date have just been thrown out the window?

Chapter 25

     "All right. Thanks." I flagged Chloe down and ordered a Caesar salad.

     "You can order more if you want," Tristan said. "I'll share with you if it makes you feel better."

     "Okay, um..." I decided not to hold back and rattled off my order. "I'll take the buffalo wings, a medium pepperoni pizza, and what's that giant chocolate chip cookie with the ice cream on top that's better than sex?"

     Chloe scribbled down my order. "A pizookie?"

     "Yes!" My eyes lit up. "I'll take two of those--"

Chapter 24

     "Yup. Eight long years..." And then I proceeded to tell Tristan the entire story of Brayden, which I knew should've been off-limits, but there was something that made me trust him.

Chapter 30

     "But you kind of have an old soul. It's hard to explain. You don't seem like other people your age. Why is that? You're so, I dunno... mature."

Chapter 30

     "Yeah, for a long time, I was angry," he admitted. "Just angry at everything. Angry at the world."

When the main character talks about the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and how she still reverts to a child around her mom.

Page 319​

     Whatever miscommunications, whatever differences, your mum was your mum.

Page 321

     Peggy leaned across the table, patted Laurie's face and Laurie suddenly felt six years old in the school playground, with frizzy pigtails and her rabbit backpack.

Chapter 47​

     Love her or hate her, there was still nobody like your mother.

Page 47

     "Do I have to?" I moaned as she shoved the bowl into my hands. It was funny how--no matter how old I was--during my most vulnerable moments, I still reverted back to a little child around my mom.

When the main character's ex boyfriend sees her again and states that she reminds him of the girl she used to be when they'd met.

When the main character discovers the new love interest has never brought a girl home to meet his parents before.

Several sentences with identical references and details.

Page 376

     Dan made the sort of inhalation when you're trying to stifle a hiccup.

     "Well, good. I want you to be happy. Seeing you lately has reminded me of who I fell in love with but ten times over."

Page 265

     "Has he not brought girlfriends home before?"

     Hattie looked gobsmacked. "He's not told you this? No, never."

Page 145

     No, you're beautiful as you are but if this is Operation Mindfuck for Dan, no stops should be left unpulled out.

Page 189

     Jamie rubbed the bridge of his nose, moving his Clark Kent glasses upward.

Chapter 24

     "You seem different now," Brayden said after a while.

     I brushed a wisp of hair away from my face. "Different how?"

     "I don't know... You remind me of the girl I met all those years ago."

Chapter 25

     "I've had girlfriends on and off but never anything, you know, like you--eight years, or meet-my-mom serious."

     "Really?" I was surprised. "You've never brought anyone home to meet your parents?"

Chapter 15

     The singles scene and random hookups had worn out their welcome. It was time for Operation Boyfriend.

Chapter 2

     With dark-brown hair and steely gray eyes, he looked like a mix of Clark Kent and David Beckham--the nerdy guy you wanted to love combined with the cool guy you wanted to shag.

Page 144

     "I dunno about that, but he looks like a GQ cover."

Page 314

     "Wanda went inside the Edvard Munch exhibition, and Laurie made to follow her but her mum laid her hand on her arm."

Chapter 14

     While he easily could've been on the cover of GQ magazine, he still had a trace of boyish charm, which I liked.

Chapter 13

     I shrieked silently as I finally understood the inspiration behind Edvard Munch's painting, The Scream.

Page 376

     I could've started the process of coping straightaway, instead of having to turn into Sherlock Holmes, trying to crack the puzzle.

Page 350

     Laurie's eyes pricked with tears and her heart soared and she remonstrated with herself, as cartoon stars started to dance around her head.

Chapter 25

     "Brayden Thomas," I typed into the search box, ready to Sherlock Holmes his ass.

Chapter 35

     With a goofy grin on my face, I stared at him, totally smitten. If I were a cartoon character, my eyes would've been replaced with two giant hearts.

Page 361

     Laurie hooted. "Not true." She paused. "Singlehood. I'm quite nervous about the idea of being with someone new."

Page 111

     Laurie rifled her own iPhone out of her bag and peered at the screen. It was covered in spidery cracks and fractures.

Chapter 53

     Fast-forward through my year of singlehood, and I was now thirty-six, pregnant, and a lot had changed.

Chapter 17

     He reached down and picked it up, dusting it off. The screen had a giant crack fanning out like a spiderweb.

(Because we all know how common Mormons are in the UK.)

Page 106

     She would be in bed by midnight, trying and failing to go straight to sleep, mind churning on endless questions.         Desolate in the dark, doing the kind of crying where you make heaving noises, face screwed up, childlike.

Page 198

     "Yes. You said I was a Mormon, or didn't have good hygiene, or something, didn't you?"

Chapter 1

     The sobs I could no longer hold back sputtered loudly into the room, rapid and uncontrollable, echoing off the tile floor--the kind of crying you only do in grade school.

Chapter 12

     "No, worry, I didn't realize you were Mormon."

     "I'm not. I just don't drink."

Page 78

     Megan Mooney. She sounded like a secretary in a 1940s screwball, or the quiet mouse "by day" alter ego of a Marvel superhero.

Page 62

     Laurie breathed in and breathed out. Right. She'd known this would happen. Almost from the first momet Dan had said he was going. Yet it coming true so soon still took her aback.

Chapter 3

     I was full-blown Hulk by then. Brayden and his stupid Marvel movies--had me thinking about superheroes even when I was trying to talk about marriage.

Chapter 15

     I guzzled my cocktail, emptying the glass. I couldn't believe only three months had passed, and he already had a new girlfriend. I'd known this day would come; I just didn't think it would be so soon.

Page 30

     "Honestly, Dan, it still sounds like you're freaked out by having a baby and have decided to go full nuke from orbit to fix it," Laurie said, in a final stab at returning them to any sort of normality.

Page 171

     He screwed his face up in a mock sulk which could've been nauseating, but his boyish charm carried it clear out of nausea and right into almost cute.

Chapter 4

     The pain in his eyes was visible. "You... You didn't wait for me?" It was the final stab to the heart I was hoping for.

 

Chapter 14

     While he easily could've been on the cover of GQ magazine, he still had a trace of boyish charm, which I liked.

Page 154

     Laurie opened Facebook and removed Dan from her "In a Relationship With" status, a task which felt teenaged and yet necessary. She forced herself to check and, what a surprise, he'd done that first.

When the main character stalks her ex boyfriend's new relationship on Facebook, only to find the content is blocked.

She calls the new girlfriend a bitch, makes comments about her name.

Also finds out his new girlfriend has tight abs.

Main character zooms in on the picture despite knowing she will regret it.

Page 79

     With a dull thud, as she clicked on Dan Price's profile--his photo, a throwback picture of himself in fancy dress at university on the night he met Laurie, salt into wounds--and then again in his friends, Megan Mooney sprang up in front of her. Profile photo, a jokey one of Lucille Ball.

     She was blocked. The bitch had blocked her, while camping here brazenly in Dan's friends. Laurie swallowed back bile, literal, physical bile.

     She took a deep breath and braced herself before diving in. Megan Mooney. She sounded like a secretary in a 1940s screwball, or the quiet mouse "by day" alter ego of a Marvel superhero.

*****

     Megan had shared some JustGiving links—OH YOU LIKE SUPPORTING CHARITIES, DO YOU, LIKE A GOOD PERSON?—Laurie internally spasmed...

*****

     Further poking around revealed Megan was sporty and had an incredible figure, a near-concave stomach (that was about to change. Laurie hated herself for expanding the picture with forefinger and thumb, staring morbidly at the space where Dan's child was), and legs that went on for days.

     If she needed to feel physically inferior to understand this, then Megan's physique could do it.

Page 15

     A few months earlier, his status had read, "In a relationship with Allison Harper." Now I had been replaced, and another woman was kissing the man I'd had exclusive rights to for the last eight years.

Chapter 15

     I opened the Facebook app on my phone and immediately looked him up, only to find his content was blocked.

*****

     The tiny square at the very top of his page housed a photo of him and his new girlfriend. His arm was around a beautiful Asian girl who had perfect porcelain skin and long, shiny black hair. That Pantene Pro-V-using bitch, I fumed silently.

*****

     Next to him was his beautiful girlfriend. With Camelia Chang, the tag said. God, even her name was beautiful. Camelia sounded exotic and royal. Great things happened to Camelia. The Camelias of the world went off to Yale, ate at fancy restaurants, and traveled the globe. Ally sounded like a narrow backdoor walkway full of dead rats and trash cans.

 

     She was also thin and toned with tight abs showcased by the crop top she was wearing. Meanwhile, I had gained ten pounds from all the drinking and late-night tacos. Life was so unfair.

*****

     I clicked on Brayden's profile picture. I knew it would only hurt me more, but like a hangnail I had to compulsively pick, I wanted to press further. The picture zoomed in, taking up the entire screen on my phone.

When the main character is nervous to tell her mom over the phone that she broke up with her boyfriend.

Her mother responds to shocking news calmly, which the main character resents.

Page 42​

     Her parents didn't speak, so it was down to Laurie if Mum was going to be informed, and she should be, really. Laurie knew if she put it off, she'd end up avoiding it altogether."

Page 46

     "Oh dear, my darling. Sorry to hear this." Her mum had kept the strong Caribbean inflection from the island of her own childhood. "I know you will be very hurt, but sometimes paths diverge. He obviously has to do this next part of his journey on his own. Which is very painful for you, but it must be what his heart is telling him."

     Laurie gritted her teeth. Maddening calm was one of her mother's attributes that could also feel like a weapon.

Chapter 11

     There it was--the dreadful phone call I'd been waiting for. A nasty cramp started gnawing at my stomach the second I saw the caller's name, but I knew I couldn't hide forever.

Chapter 47

     "Oh, sweetheart." She kept her cool and gently placed a hand on my thigh. "You'll figure it out. You're a strong girl. Things will be okay."

     "How is it going to be okay?" I stared at her in disbelief. For a moment, I resented her calm composure. Did she not realize how serious this was?

When the new love interest tells the main character a family member died when he was young.

Page 240

     “I had a brother. Joe. He died when we were kids. He was hit by a car.”

     “Oh! Jamie, I’m so sorry.”

Chapter 30

     "He, uh..." Tristan cleared his throat. "He passed away. When I was eight."

     I quickly sat up. "He did? Oh my god. I'm so sorry."

Using sunk cost fallacy to explain long-term relationships.

Page 127-128

     "I think long-term relationships are the most potent demonstration of the sunk cost fallacy you'll ever see," Jamie said.

     "The definition of sunk cost fallacy is a refusal to change something that makes you unhappy. You won't, because look at the time and money and effort you'll have wasted if you do. Which of course only means more waste."

Chapter 4

     "Ally." He sighed. "We had a lot of great times. But it's like playing a bad poker hand, you know? We shouldn't keep going just because our chips are already half in."

     "Now you're comparing our relationship to... to... a poker hand?" The last word sputtered from my mouth as I gasped for air, completely hysterical. Our entire relationship, the most important years of my adult life, had been whittled down to nothing more than an off-suit two-and-seven starting hand. 

Similar thoughts on how sleeping with a new person solidifies a breakup and there's no turning back.

Page 65

     "You've slept with someone?"

     This was patently a stupid question, a teenager's question, given he'd called them a couple. Laurie was so far beyond dealing with this that she had no process between the rapid firing in her brain, and her mouth.

     Dan twisted his hands together and said: "Yes."

     Laurie wanted to scream, or sob. Until now, his leaving was only words, a temporary absence, and a three-month lease. A few patching-up conversations with their parents and Emily, a year that you "up behind you" when you raised a glass at the New Year bells.

     Now it was definitive: he'd done something he couldn't undo.

When the main character loses hope over finding The One.

Page 55

     Laurie had no faith anymore. As a lifelong believer in The One, in monogamous fidelity to the person who your heart told you was right for you, she was suddenly an atheist.

When she finds out her ex boyfriend suddenly wants to get in shape when all he did before was sit on the couch like a slob.

Page 77

     Six months or so ago, Dan had taken up running. Laurie had been pleased, even impressed. She was quite good at keeping fit, going to the gym, walking everywhere; Dan had been the one glued to the sofa with his hand stuck in a bag of Tangy Cheese Doritos.

Describing how difficult it is to sit on a stool without toppling over.

Page 173

     "Shall we transfer to a table I have constant premonitions of falling off these things, while balancing on terrified clenched cheeks."

When the main character describes how her hangovers are so much worse than in her twenties. 

Page 60

     The memory of the morning after still made Laurie wince today. Anyone who moaned about hangovers in their twenties should be forced to suffer a hangover in their late thirties.

When the main character admits she's scared of dating again since she's never really dated before.

Page 61

She felt so wholly unprepared to be back out there. As Emily pointed out, she'd never really been there.

When the main character finally kisses the new love interest and the passion is greater than what she had with her ex boyfriend, or any other guy.

Chapter 369

She put her hand on the back of his head and her arm around his body and finally gave in to longing she had no idea she could feel--no, that she could ever feel; this was something a few leagues above her and Dan's most intense early years.

The breakup in the beginning, when the main character's boyfriend reveals he's not on the same page as her about having kids.

Page 22

     “Look,” Dan said. “I’ve realized. I don’t want kids. At all. Ever.”

*****

     “Dan,” she said gently. “This doubt is totally normal, you know. I feel the same. It’s frightening, when it’s about to become real. But we can do it. We’ve got this. With having a kid, you hold hands, and jump.”

Page 23

     “It’s not just having kids. I don’t want anything that you want. I don’t want . . . this.”

     He glanced around the room accusingly.

     Stripped floorboards?

     “What do you mean?”

     Dan breathed in and out, as if limbering up for a feat of exertion. But no words followed.

     “. . . You want to put it off for a few years? We talked about this. I’m thirty-six and it could take a while..."

Chapter 13

     This was the first new guy I would be having sex with in eight years. In addition, I was about to add to my list of sexual partners for the first time since Brayden. Although the breakup had happened a month earlier, sleeping with Kevin would solidify it, and there would be no turning back. If somehow Brayden and I magically got back together, it wouldn't be the same anymore since I would have slept with someone else.

Chapter 1

     And then, like a cruel plot twist, we reach the age when glitter makeup is a thing of the past and a crazy night out ends by midnight, and a new possibility sets in: What if I don't get married? What if I don't meet The One? What if--gasp--I end up all alone?

Chapter 24

     He walked over and gave me an awkward hug. I noticed he was dressed head-to-toe in gym clothes. When did that happen? I thought his idea of exercise was pointing the remote control at the TV.

Chapter 8

     I sat on one of the stools, my butt halfway off the cushion so that I was kind of half-sitting, half-standing.

*****

     It took a lot of work to sit on a high barstool, where my feet didn't touch the floor, without feeling like I was about to topple over any second.

Chapter 14

     While I'd partied with no problems during my college days--most of my classes started at noon, anyway--partying while working a full-time job was a different story. It was rough. I examined my fellow thirty-year-old coworkers. Everyone looked tired and disheveled--myself, included--except they were up all night nursing their newborns, while I was up all night partying.

Chapter 6

There it was again--date. Just hearing the word sent shivers up and down my spine. I never really went on dates, except with people I became exclusive with.

Chapter 26

I always thought the whole slamming-open-the-door, can't-wait-to-rip-each-other's-clothes-off thing was only in the movies. No matter how attractive I once found Brayden, I'd never had that kind of passion with him, or any other guy for that matter.

Chapter 2

     "Kids?" He made a sour face. "We've never talked about kids."

*****

     "I know we haven't talked about this much," I said, "but we've been together for a long time. It's normal to talk about the future."

*****

     "Are you seriously telling me that, in all the years we've been together, you've never thought about getting married or having kids?"

     "Yeah... I've thought about it," he said awkwardly, shifting on the couch. He looked about as comfortable as a man getting a rectal exam. "I mean, it's crossed my mind, but what's the rush?"

     "What's the rush?"I looked at him in disbelief. "Uh, I'm thirty-one. You'll be turning thirty-four. When do you want to get married? At forty?"

When the catalyst for the breakup is because of a friend's wedding.

When the main character's long-term boyfriend suddenly feels like a stranger.

When they break up and the boyfriend tries to convince her she will find someone else.

Page 31

     “C’mon. You’re you. You’re a massive catch, always have been. You won’t be short of offers. You’ll be inundated.”

*****

     “Such a massive catch, you’ll pass me up?”

     “We’ve been together all our lives, Laurie, you’re my only serious girlfriend. It’s not like I’m walking away lightly, or that I never cared.”

Page 27

     "I think I knew for sure at Tom and Pri's wedding."

Page 27

     But to fix it, she had to grasp what was going on. Laurie prided herself on cold reading people like she was a stage magician, and yet the person closest to her sounded like a stranger.

Chapter 4

     "You are all those things," he calmly agreed. "And one day, a very lucky guy will be with you."

     "I don't want a lucky guy... I want you," I said in a whisper.

*****

     He brushed a strand of hair away from my face and tucked it behind my ear. "I did love you, Ally. I still do. I just..."

Chapter 3

     The breaking point in our relationship was when his best friend, Josh, got married.

Chapter 2

     I studied his face. He looked as handsome as he had the day we met, but he seemed like a different person. How had we become so distant?

When she tells her friends about the breakup, but they're still surprised it's really over.

Page 58

     “No. One hundred percent true. It’s over. We’re over.”

     “What? You’re serious?”

     “I’m serious. Over. I am single.”

Laurie was trying that phrase out. It sounded a crazy reach, while being hard fact.

     “He’s finished with you?”

     “Yes. He has finished with me. We are separated.” Laurie noticed that someone “finishing” with someone else was such savage language. They canceled you. You are over. Your use has been exhausted.

     “Laurie, are you being serious? Not a break? You’ve split up?”

     “Yes.”

Chapter 5

     "And you haven't heard anything from him at all?" asked Megan.

     "Nope. Nothing. Not even a text."

     "It's only been a few days, Ally," Sarah cooed in her soothing voice.             "He'll realize what a mistake he's made and come back."

     I lifted my head and pouted. "No. That was two weeks ago. He changed his Facebook status. I unfriended him. It's done."

     "Unfriended?" Sarah gasped. "It's really over, then."

When she's shocked her ex has moved on so quickly with a new girl.

Page 64

     “I’ve met someone.”

     The phrase smashed into the living room like a meteorite, taking out the fireplace, leaving a smoking crater. She physically recoiled. He’d come here to say he was with another woman? Already? Laurie had not, for a single second, entertained that this was what happened next. Not this fast. He’d only just moved out. How was this possible?

Chapter 15

     I guzzled my cocktail, emptying the glass. I couldn't believe only three months had passed, and he already had a new girlfriend. I'd known this day would come; I just didn't think it would be so soon. How could he move on so quickly?

Phew. If you read the entire thing--I applaud you! You deserve a nice virtual massage and a refreshing beverage.

Look, I'm not saying coincidences don't happen. They even happen to me. Just recently, I was surfing Netflix and Bridget Jones's Baby (the third movie in the installment) popped up as a suggestion. I read the synopsis, and it's basically the plot of the entire third act of my novel, despite the fact that I've never seen or read a single Bridget Jones's Diary movie/book.

But after watching it, besides the overall plot, a handful of jokes, one similar side character name (Camilla vs. Camelia), and the usual scenes you'd get from watching a movie about pregnancy (doctors visits, setting up a nursery, etc.), I can honestly say the similarities end there. None of the dialogue, character reactions, or plot events were similar to my book at all.

And that's what I usually encounter--SIMILAR PLOT, DIFFERENT EXECUTION. Because, at the end of the day, we're all different people with different life experiences and thoughts, which is what makes us unique as writers. I have yet to encounter a case of DIFFERENT PLOT, SIMILAR EXECUTION.

Just for fun, let's recap the similar PLOT POINTS.

MY NOVEL

- Main character is a 35-year-old woman who works at a CPA firm.

- She gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend of eight years, the reason being he doesn't want to marry her. The catalyst for the breakup is a friend's wedding.

- She's hesitates to call and tell her mom about the breakup, who acts calm and aloof.

- Her ex-boyfriend, who used to be a slob on the couch, suddenly gets into exercising.

- The ex-boyfriend quickly moves on with a new girl and gets engaged, despite not wanting to marry the main character.

- Main character logs onto Facebook to stalk her ex-bf and his new girlfriend. She zooms in on the picture even though she knows she'll regret it. Makes fun of the new gf's name and finds out that she has toned, tight abs.

- Gets stuck in a broken elevator with her co-worker, a younger hot guy.

- She goes out to dinner with the new love interest and eats a ton of food without being shy. She also spills all the details about her ex to the new love interest, despite knowing she shouldn't.

- She mentions to the new love interest how much she likes a necklace. She also says he's an old soul despite him being younger than her.

- She finds out her new love interest has never brought a girl home to meet his parents before.

- Her new love interest reveals his father died when he was young.

- She runs into her ex-bf, who says she seems like her old self again. 

- The new love interest surprises her with the necklace she'd wanted early on in the story.

HER NOVEL

- Main character is a 36-year-old woman who works at a law firm.

- She gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend of eighteen years, the reason being he doesn't want to have kids with her. The catalyst for the breakup is a friend's wedding.

- She's hesitates to call and tell her mom about the breakup, who acts calm and aloof.

- Her ex-boyfriend, who used to be a slob on the couch, suddenly gets into exercising.

- The ex-boyfriend quickly moves on with a new girl and gets her pregnant, despite not wanting kids with the main character.

- Main character logs onto Facebook to stalk her ex-bf and his new girlfriend. She zooms in on the picture even though she knows she'll regret it. Makes fun of the new gf's name and finds out that she has toned, tight abs.

- Gets stuck in a broken elevator with her co-worker, a younger hot guy.

- She goes out to dinner with the new love interest and eats a ton of food without being shy. She also spills all the details about her ex to the new love interest, despite knowing she shouldn't.

- She mentions to the new love interest how much she likes a necklace. She also says he's an old soul despite him being younger than her.

- She finds out her new love interest has never brought a girl home to meet his parents before.

- Her new love interest reveals his brother died when he was young.

- She runs into her ex-bf, who says she seems like her old self again. 

- The new love interest surprises her with the necklace she'd wanted early on in the story.

Again, any number of these similarities taken separately could be purely coincidence. My book isn't the first one to have a broken elevator scene; I didn't invent all the tropes of the chick-lit genre. But taken altogether? Seems a little odd to me. And to be honest, there are many more similarities than the ones I mentioned here.

I don't know, maybe there are TONS of books that reference Edvard Munch, Mormons, Clark Klent, and discuss pissing in the corner of an elevator while having several major character names in common. *Shrugs* Or maybe Ms. McFarlane, a Scottish lady living in the UK, is my soulmate. Who knows?

I think this article by David Edelstein says it best:

I'd also like to state that I DID get a download from the UK on Amazon (the only place I was selling my book). I'm not claiming it was her, but I feel I should reveal all the facts.

In addition, I am planning to contact the publisher, Harper Collins. I am not planning to write them a scathing, threatening email, nor am I planning to stalk Ms. McFarlane with a hatchet, but they need to be made aware of the situation. I highly doubt they will respond, but I will keep you guys posted.

***UPDATE: They responded. And they were not pleased. I wrote a separate post about this. ***

Meanwhile, after this fiasco, I've decided to release the updated version of my book completely for free. Even though several months of blood, sweat, and tears (and time away from my little daughters, sadly) went into re-writing my book, I felt it was the most honest road to take. Since Mhairi's book is already so popular, and we likely have the same reader demographic, I wouldn't want anyone to feel as if they'd wasted money on my book incase they'd happened to read hers first.

Another update: My site traffic has increased by 3000% since I contacted Harper Collins. In addition, I've been getting downloads from the UK following this post. I don't know what all of that means, but I can only hope they're a fan of my work, rather than trying to stir up trouble.

So, what do you guys think? Do you think the similarities are too many to be coincidence? Has this ever happened to you? What have you done?

Comment down below.

Thanks for reading!