Thank you all for your outrage on my behalf.
I attempted to have what I thought was a civil discussion. I tried to explain that the slightest whiff of plagiarism--even in fan fiction--could mean the death of professional credibility but the writer became extremely indignant, as if she were the victim. It definitely could be argued that the story was "protected" by common/fair use. It certainly wasn't very original. Everybody's got a shower scene story somewhere. I have a few.
I started to doubt whether I had any right to confront the other writer when my real concern was over her use of just one word. I put the question to one of my writing gurus, a published novelist and working journalist. Here's what he had to say:
"Everybody writes vampire stories. You could say that it is all derivative of Polidori's and Bram Stoker's original stories--so Anne Rice can't tell the woman who writes the "Twilight" series not to write about vampires. But if Anne Rice has one of her vampires using the word "Tweetybird", the woman who writes "Twilight" can't have one of her vampires using the word "Tweetybird". Just because they're both vampires doesn't mean that "Tweetybird" is a universal vampire endearment. If not outright plagiarism, it is certainly unauthorized use of creative content--not to mention, shady and unoriginal. It's for reasons like this that Anne Rice won't allow fan fiction of her work to be posted on public sites and hunts down anyone else who might post to a wide audience. It's that important. It'd be different if Bram Stoker had decided that "Tweetybird" was part of vampire lore, like garlic and wooden stakes. You're well within your rights to be outraged about someone using a quirk unique to your drawing of a common character."
As one of my readers put it: "...that one word screamed off the page like a red alert." And this: "..."d......." is your word. She can't have it!"
I love you guys.
Alas, after all that sound and fury, it seems that the offending story has been deleted--which is why those of you who were willing to comment, cannot do so now. Does that point to guilt? I don't know. I do know that if I thought I was right about something, you'd have to take me to court to get me to delete it.
Here is an excellent article regarding plagiarism and fan fiction that I think bears re-posting.