#OctoberFrights – Why we love Halloween, The five talons of death

Or or not so much.

I’ve had a lot of fun this week on the #OctoberFrights Blog Hop. Thanks to everyone who has come along, and happy reading to those who’ve downloaded “Spirits of the Season.”

As promised, I have a little story for you. I wrote it last year, and it placed second in a Halloween flash fic contest. The review was, “Sultry, yet horrific.”

The theme? Write the story from the perspective of the monster.

I’m finishing up the week by finally posting this little story on my own site, but I think it also sums up Halloween for me.

My question with this story, Who’s really the monster?

*******

Fine Dining

James P. McDonald

Copyright 2015

They had been easy enough to find, since they were staying in the expensive hotel across from her shop in the market.

When they passed through, the woman’s snippy comments were aimed at both her companion as well as Boo herself, accentuated as she flashed fingers barely able to support the gemstones mounted in gold upon them. He followed up with a crude attempt to solicit her charms after his woman stormed away. She knew then her evening was booked.

She watched from her shop window as the couple consumed a meal that cost more than she would make in a week. The cold silence between them did little to chill the sweltering summer evening. Charleston was especially humid this time of year.

She leaned out of her apartment window, her hunger growing as the couple argued in their room, the barbs they exchanged splintering into the night air through the open French doors. The spat ended with the man downstairs in the small bar, and the woman resting against the rail of their shallow balcony.

She found him bending the inattentive bartender’s ear. His smile was predatory as he offered her the seat next to him. It took few minutes before he was sweating heavily as he fumbled for words and pawed at her sensual caramel skin.

She took his sticky hand in hers and purred, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

He stammered and panted as she led him to the small apartment above her shop. Her lips brushed his. He stripped quickly before she pushed him onto the worn couch, straddling him in the process. He grabbed at her shirt, sending two buttons hurtling into the dark.

In her smoky voice, she whispered in his ear, “Do you want the rest of Boo?”

The corners of his mouth curled as he nodded hungrily.

She locked lips with him, and inhaled.

His excited groping turned into panicked clawing and punching, but only for a moment as he felt the ambrosia of her kiss drawing away his life force. Blood trickled as his trembling hands clenched into fists. His gasps and moans turned to desperate shallow wheezing. His eyes froze wide as saucers and reddened as blood vessels burst painfully, but quietly.

She climbed off him, knowing her prey was going nowhere. He was drained to the edge of life, but still conscious. His eyes locked onto hers as she peeled away the last shreds of clothing he hadn’t destroyed.

She leaned over and whispered in his ear. “Boo said she was going to take good care of you. And now she is.” She stood inches in front of him. Her fingernail slowly chased a rolling bead of sweat from her throat to her navel.  A thin red trail formed as traced it around her hips and down to her ankles.

He managed a single whimper as she tugged and pulled at her skin, starting at her thighs as if they were stockings. Her head came free of the meat suit last, before she draped it around his shoulders. She gloried at the sight of her true body in the full length mirror. The red muscle glistened in the dim light streaming through the windows.

Blood streaked across his skin as she slid herself back onto him. “How do you like Boo now?” She locked her lips onto his and drew his last breath into herself. It was always so much more savory with the adrenalin flavoring, and the sweetness of dread and the dismay of certain death.

He shuddered, and she leaned back to see the last ember extinguished behind his eyes.

Ever so gently, she used her talon until she was able to free the worthless meat from the shell. She wouldn’t need the outfit for long.

It took a little work to bulk up to fill his skin. A few whispers of the old language to heal the wounds. A little bleach for the errant drops of blood that reached his shirt. She buckled the loose fitting pants around her waist and dug into the pockets. His license said he was from Chicago. She would have sworn the accent was from New York.

No matter.

She sauntered lazily back to the hotel. The new skin exquisitely gliding as it stretched across her taught muscles, trying to find purchase.

Her hunger barely sated, she slowly slid the key card into the lock. The woman’s voice was shrill and accusatory as she opened the doorway. Wordlessly she embraced the woman in a kiss. Glorious silence fell from her prey who instantly became compliant.

This one wasn’t like the man. She was full of life, tasting of desire and indulgence. She was meant to be cherished. Boo would be able to wallow in the woman’s spirit for hours before taking the last drop.

The woman’s eyes danced lazily and rolled back into her head as she was stripped and lain in the bed. She didn’t notice the meat suit sliding around as the man’s clothes fell to the floor.

She nibbled on the woman’s ear and mumbled, “Boo’ll take care of you.”

She locked her lips around the woman’s. She was getting drunk on her prey’s energy.

She enjoyed the thought of being a blonde again for a while. No need to decide yet. She had plenty of time.

*******

I hope you had fun with this little fright. I’m working on turning it into a longer story.

I’ve had a lot of people suggest and ask what kind of creature Boo really is. She’s based on the Gullah legend of the “Boo Hag.” For those of you who have never been to Charleston, SC, or know about the Boo Hag, here’s a little piece you might find interesting. https://scaresandhauntsofcharleston.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-boo-hags-of-gullah-culture/

I found this story to be a lot of fun to write, and wrote, edited, and submitted it all in about an hour to beat a deadline. And it’s still one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written.

May everyone have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween, the fourth turning

Continued from the third act…
So back to the original question. What is it we love about Halloween?
To me, it’s simple.
It’s a celebration of life that lets us thumb our noses at our mortality.
According to the latest in psychology, there are four core emotions. The first three; Anger, Sadness, and Fear are all negative. They embody the face of the holiday going back through time.
What is the fourth?
Happiness. Joy.
Every single day, we put on the masks we show our families, our friends, our co-workers. Deep down, every one of us has some little part we refuse to share with the world for fear of it being taken or broken.
As kids, we got to run free, oblivious to the dangers of the world around us. Even Superman was vulnerable to Kryptonite. We had no such weaknesses.
Unless you fell down and skinned a knee.
As adults, we live in a world driven more by fear every day, even though at least in North America, the statistics show we are safer than ever before. Yes, there are problems. Difficult ones.
And this is why Halloween is such a beautiful holiday.
It reminds us we are all mortal.
Under the implied threat of trick-or-treat, we give gifts to friends, family, and complete strangers who show up at our door.
We get to express our creativity, making and wearing costumes that let us put on a different face, even if but for a little while.
We get to take on “safe” fear in haunted houses and scary movies.
And it all feeds our primordial instincts to survive by letting us vent so many stresses in a safe way.
Halloween connects us to our ancestors, our family, and our friends who are no longer with us, and reminds us they are only as far away as a thought. We can choose which memories to call up, and the emotions it invokes.
So this Halloween, get dressed up, and be what scares you the most. And revel in it!

And to wrap up the #OctoberFrights week, I have a special little story for you tomorrow!

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween, the third act

Picking up from Part Deux,

As with every other holiday, Americans have re imagined and redefined Halloween. I’d be lying if it wasn’t another big commercial event. How many tons of cheap chocolate and waxy candy corn get pushed out of stores every year? How many costumes are worn for a few hours and discarded?

Deeper down though, there is a bigger story. Why do we pick the costumes we wear? What about the people that don’t wear one, is it because they already wear a mask?

Halloween gives everyone permission to cast aside the garb of everyday life, and put on a persona for an evening. A different persona from the one we wear every other day of the year.

Scarily enough, it’s an election year, and plenty of people will dress as one candidate or another, just to terrify the masses. Others will take the time to take on Mad Max or Captain America.

But why is this important?

Just like through the annals of history when people dressed as the ghosts  and demons they wanted to scare away, people get to wear the visage of the people and ideas that scare us the most, or in other cases inspire us.

I believe Halloween is one of our most important cultural events every year. It is important enough to us as a culture that many people now carry it beyond the one day a year. Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions, Renaissance Faires, and other cultural events allow us to dress and embody that persona that we really wish we could be.

The day for us to be creative, decorating our homes and offices, dressing up in sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate costumes. It gives us permission to be a little better, a little more fun, a little more hopeful.

By night, we can be a little mischievous, playful and even a little naughty. It’s the celebration that lets us confront our inner demons. All by being able to change out of the mask we wear, to one that is a little different.

So this Halloween, look at that person in a costume, and wonder what they are trying to say.
To be continued…

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

Why we love Halloween Part Deux

In the first part, Why we love Halloween Part I I talked a little about the physiological side.

Now the psychological side.

Growing up in the 70’s, I remember kids still flooding the streets, going from house to house trick-or-treating, and coming home just in time for the Charlie Brown special. Like everything else, today we try to organize it all. Churches and organizations host small haunted houses and trunk-or-treats in the parking lot. Every year, we can count on one batch of kids to stop by the house.

But what does it all mean?

Historically, many cultures celebrate this time of year, though not necessarily on the same day, and call it Samhain, Salween, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Hop Tu Naa, shuma sashti and the list goes on. They all circle around the same idea. The Day of the Dead. The night the veils between the land of the living and those who have crossed over become the thinnest. In some of these cultures, it also represented the new year.

In history, the practice of dressing up the kids, and sometimes the adults as evil spirits was done in this tradition, so that if you were to cross paths with something wicked that night, they would mistake you as a fellow demon or spirit, and let you pass on your way. The days have become shorter, and we creep towards the longest night of the year. The weather tends to have that balance of warm and cool. The harvest has ended, and at the back of our minds, we all know that Winter is Coming, with or without John Snow.

We take this time to face that which we fear most, and remember those who are no longer with us, knowing some of us will be crossing over and joining with our ancestors sooner than later in the harshness of the winter. We also mock death in a way, knowing sooner or later, it does come for all of us. So we take this time to commune with those no longer with us, and pray they are in a better place.

By dressing the kids up today, it’s now a way of celebrating life. Sure, there’s plenty of vampires and ghouls roaming the streets, but there’s also princesses and super heroes too. Here to protect the rest of us from those things that go bump in the night. We get to live through watching the kids have fun, eat too much sugar, and express who they want to be for the moment.

Onto the Third Act...

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour! Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle. For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

October Frights – Why we love Halloween Part 1

For October Frights this year, I ask the question, why do we love Halloween?

Today I ask, why do some people love to be scared?

We all know one, or sometimes have been one. The junior  adrenaline junkie.

I’m not talking about jumping out of a plane, climbing a rock face, or driving at 200 miles an hour.  It’s everyone else. The person who wants the rush from a roller coaster.  Sitting in a darkened theater watching the latest slasher film. Reading The Raven by candlelight.

Your heart begins to race. Your palms sweat.  It gets a little harder to breathe as the anticipation builds.

If you’re lost in the woods and its starting to snow, you know you’re in trouble.

If instead, you stand at the doorway to the local haunted house with a date… well then, open the floodgates and let the adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and the rest of our body’s chemical cocktail flow.

We love the rush that comes from the old primordial fear, the tools that helped us survive in the past.  Today, when we can experience this is a safe environment, it makes us feel alive.

Continued in Part Deux.

Check out more of our authors in this year’s October Frights Blog Tour!  Now that book 3 is out, and Spirits of the Season and Gnomebody’s business are in paperback, some lucky person on my mailing list will will a full autographed set. Sign up today!

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

A Longbow Initiative Story
A Longbow Initiative Story

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

And check out more of my fellow authors in this year’s tour!

 Loading InLinkz ...

For others, this can be too much to handle.  For those who have survived real horrors. I’ve been honored to contribute to the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign with over a hundred other authors writing about #MentalHealth, #PTSD, and #Depression. Please check out the web page.

October Frights Blog Hop – 2016

blog-3

I love this time of year. Summer is giving way to fall. The days are warm, and the nights have that touch of a chill.

The leaves show their true colors.

At the core of it all, I see this time of year as the core of storytelling. Why do I say this? Where the spring is the time of youth, of hope, of promise, we enter the time of year of the harvest, when we have reaped what we have sown.

For many ancient cultures, this is the time of year when we celebrate a life fulfilled, or a death come too soon in the harshness of winter.

What better time of year to gather around a campfire and try to scare one another?

To celebrate, my Halloween story, “Spirits of the Season” will be free the entire month of October here! Use code Oct2016.

Even more, use code Scare2016 and get a 25% discount on everything!

But there’s more! every day of the October 10 – 15 October Frights Blog Hop, I’ll be giving something away! Check back… if you dare.

And since you’re here, check out some of my fellow authors on the tour.

 

 Loading InLinkz ...

‪#‎holdontothelight‬‪

holdontothelight

 

I write this on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. I remember that morning all too well. I was supposed to be on site, but had a short week to volunteer for an event that weekend, so I had stayed home. I had a small TV in my office in the house, that I rarely turned on.

I’d scheduled myself a pretty light week, and flipped on the news for background noise a couple of minutes before 9 AM that morning, and the first cameras were reaching the Trade Towers. I sent messages to a few people in the office as we serviced several companies in the area around the towers, and activated some of our internal business continuity processes.

Like so many people, I was locked on the news, and saw the second plane hit. At first, I thought someone had found footage of the first crash, but no. It was the second hit, live.

I’d lived in Charlotte for less than a year at that time, but being a financial center, business around town began evacuating downtown except for critical personnel. It didn’t affect me as I didn’t work except out of my house when I moved here, as I was on the road most of the time, but it was all over the local news.

Before long, we had cleared out most of our offices as soon as we realized the United States was under attack. People were traumatized.

As I reflect on that day, and every day since, I look at where we are. We are still a nation existing in fear. We are in a fifteen year old global war with no end in sight. We entrust huge bureaucracies to keep us “safe” by treating every single one of us as a criminal.

And that’s before we get to our own personal lives.

I have had many friends in military service come back from their second, third, fourth deployments or more. So many of them show the signs of stress, of PTSD.

I then look at the people I know who have never been deployed. The friends I have going through the stresses of life – Illness, divorce, unemployment, trauma and so much more. I’ve had my issues with depression. With stress. With no longer giving a damn. I’ve always been able to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Unfortunately I have enough friends that can’t get that far. Friends for whom the burden holds them down. Or in some cases pushes them to a permanent solution. I just work every day to make sure I don’t let myself go down that path.

I think all of this has built to lead us to where we are now. We are a wounded and traumatized nation. We have had economic upheaval, riots in the streets, extreme fear and mistrust of our political and law enforcement institutions, and we barely trust our neighbor any more. We have emptied our packs of the tools that helped us thrive to load them with the burdens and stresses of the world.

It is no wonder so many of us live on the edge of paralysis.

I write all of this not to push you over the edge, but to say it’s time to get your shit together. Me too.

It’s easy to say, but hard as hell to do.

It can be easy to live in our pain, to revel in it, cherish it, and nurture it. When you do, you are building a time bomb that will take you with it when it goes off.  You’re feeding that inner demon a buffet. It may be fast, or it could be slow, but either way it’s destructive. Nothing good can come of it. And at some point, even your closest loved ones either run away to protect themselves, or get sucked in and go down with you. I sometimes wonder if we nationally aren’t bathing in our collective pain.

It’s time for us to all own up to our problems, and work on them. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you. You are made up of all of your experiences – good and bad, ecstasy and trauma. Just like me, and everyone else.  Learning to deal with your problems and accept your traumas in life take time. It takes having help.

Sometimes it’s a beer and wings. Sometimes that help comes in the form of calling a friend at 2 AM, and talking your problems through. Sometimes it comes in the form of a therapist or other professional.

Life won’t always be easy. Sometimes it down right sucks. Just don’t try to do it alone.

The other morning, I was having a hell of a time getting motivated, and something popped up in my Facebook feed.

 

These mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb. – Najwa Zebian

 

Since the first time I ever saw this, it seems to appear as a mantra for me when I need it. For me, it reminds me to drop all of the bullshit that weighs me down, and there’s plenty I carry with me every day. And as long as you put one foot in front of the other going upwards, you’re getting closer to the top.

I believe we all have a possible point of greatness, which few of us will ever fully realize. I also don’t believe there is an apex, just peaks we can reach to discover there is a taller mountain next. Like a mountain climber, you never can succeed alone. There are always sherpas (mentors) to guide you along parts of the path and help carry the burden. You travel with other climbers who can pick you up when you slip, and you do the same for them.

We have to help ourselves first to help those around us.

I sometimes have to remind myself that I’m up for the journey, and there’s still an occasional hurricane even when you’re just hanging out on the beach. Grab a surfboard, ride the storm surge, and have your lifeguards for the times you wipe out. And be ready, when you have a friend in need.

More contributors can be found by following ##‎holdontothelight‬‪ and through:

DisquietingVisions.com

MagicalWords.net

AscendantKingdoms.com.

-Jim

Resources:

 The National Center for PTSD

Anxiety and Depression Society of America

 

#HoldOntoTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOntoTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

 

Headed to DragonCon 2016, and a FREE Story!

We’re headed to DragonCon, and to celebrate geekdom and Labor Day, if you use DCon2016, you can get Gnomebody’s Business for Free at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/downloads/gnomebodys-business/

But there’s more! If you use the same code DCon2016, you get 25% off ALL titles at http://www.infinitylimitedgroup.com/authors/ from James P. McDonald and Calandra Usher!

Offer good through September 18, 2016!

 

UPDATE!

Made it home from Dragoncon to find out a ghost in the machine had fun with the giveaway! So now, you can use code DCon2016 to get Gnomebody’s Business AND Home Summonings # 1 Bound and Hagged for FREE until 9/18, and 25% off everything else with the code Dcon25!

See you next year, if not sooner!

Dive right in, the water’s….

I’m not the biggest fan of the Olympics. I’m not against the idea or the ideals, I’m just not all that interested in spending 24 hours a day for two weeks glued to mass media to watch athletic events I’d never watch otherwise. So far, I’ve seen a couple of hours worth, but mostly that was sitting at the bar to grab dinner while on the road.

 

And is want to happen, I started thinking even before the debacle in Rio started about how this really represents the current status of the planet and society.

 

Here’s a few highlights. The divers plunging into a swimming pool where the water was so green that Kermit the Frog could get lost in it. Kayakers ran into a couch. Distance swimmers being told they had a 99.9% chance of catching something nasty in the open waters. Body parts being found all around events. I think they could add the lumberjack events because the waters are thick enough to walk across.

 

You’d think this was Newark in the 1980’s.

 

But no, this is 2016 and Rio. Zika virus, the Olympic Village walls leaking like a horror flick, and the mayor rewarding the Australian’s complaints by suggesting a kangaroo might make them feel more at home. On the plus side, they did give every competitor 42 condoms. Not sure if that’s an answer to the universe, or just getting them ready for a big bang.

 

But I digress.

 

Why would I say this is an excellent microcosm? The world has brought their top performers at the peak of their game to represent their countries. Then they asked them to compete in what should be a showcase of pride and excellence, but thrown in the deep end of a cesspool wrapped in pomp, circumstance, and media. Instead of lifting up one of the growing markets of the world, they spent billions to still not create a safe and welcoming place for the world to visit. And in short order, I expect the temporary buildings will be reabsorbed into the muck and mire of Rio.

 

Rio is a beautiful city, with a vibrant people and rich culture. It’s government leaves a lot to be desired.

 

The IoC has proven itself to be corrupt and self serving. Now it’s on display for the world. I would not call for the Olympics to be disbanded because I believe it does create an environment every four years where countries and national pride can shine. People get to learn that it’s just people everywhere. Even in 1936, the Nazi’s awarded Jesse Owens trees in recognition for his accomplishments, along with every other gold medal winner that year.

 

I believe that there should be permanent sites for the olympics, built and maintained for competition. Different nations could host and put their culture on display, but not bankrupt them to have to build the extravaganza. And the IoC might be able to be cleaned up a little.

 

Beyond that, the competitors who have made their way to Brazil have proven something most of all. No matter the adversities, corruption, and adversities thrown their way, top performers will always work to excel.

Arrgghhhh, Pirates on the horizon

Here’s another drafted segment from the upcoming (and yet unnamed) Business 101 for Writers.

 

As you move forward in your career and get your work out there, you’re more likely to find your work borrowed, plagiarized, stolen, or outright pirated.
Arrrgghhh.
With the exception of a few Luddites and saints out there, we’ve all done it, whether it was copying a song off of a friend’s CD, ripping a movie from a torrent, or downloading a book. And I hate to be the messenger, but you stole it from the creator(s) and owner(s) when you did.
Now that you too are a creator of content, it can happen to you too. Once it happens, you need to carefully consider how you react.
If you are friends with or at least follow any number of writers and artists online, you may have already seen someone who’s not only had the problem, but has aired it out on their blog and all over social media.
In 2012 when I’d just started seriously writing again, a friend of mine who is a non-fiction writer posted a small rant about having found a book being torrented on a file sharing site. Then the second post hit. And the third. After a couple of weeks with at least one post a day, detailing what was a virtual seek and destroy mission, even tracking down some of the people who’d done the downloads and hitting them with an invoice.
Seeing this, I reached out to him and we had an informal chat to try and talk him off the cliff. As I dug in, it turned out it hadn’t been going on for weeks, but over two months.
I told him that as a friend and a writer, it it painful and feels like a violation. I then told him that if he was my client, he was being an idiot. For the record, it didn’t go over well.
After he calmed down and called me back, he told me that there had been over ten thousand downloads, and his percentage he wasn’t getting was nearly $30,000. His advance had been based on 5000 copies, and that still hadn’t earned out.
At that time, I made the following observations and I still think all of them hold true;
He had not written a word not aimed at the problem in over two months and was behind on deadlines.
His public reaction on social media had gone from where he had some sympathy to one where even his friends and family were tired about hearing about it, and he’d lost some followers of his work.
He had by far done more than required to protect his copyright, and had spent a couple of thousand dollars with his attorney in cease and desist letters.
And most of all, he hadn’t provably lost a dime.

I sense a number of you out there tensing up on my last statement. My argument is this. Having been in, around, and worked in technology for over thirty years, and raised in small business, theft is a cost of doing business. I’m not saying it’s right, but locks only keep out the honest and the lazy.

Having gone on this long rant has taken away sympathy for the problem, and makes you sound whiny and bitter. That doesn’t do much to keep customers and readers, much less attract new ones.
And knowing enough people that regularly torrent movies, music and books, I have a few observations:
A large percentage of material ripped from the Internet through file sharing is never seen, heard or read.
Of those who do consume the material, the ones who enjoy what they find usually also buy the movie or the book, or at least subsequent work.
Those who aren’t going to pay for it, never were anyway, and can always find something other than your stuff to rip.
Print media is not immune. Technology today makes it easier and faster than ever to scan and publish printed work.

Again, I’m not endorsing or condoning it, I’m just being a realist. And it may be a shock to you that it may not entirely be a bad thing when this happens to you. Just think, someone thought enough of your material to put it out there in the first place.

Now that we are all aware that some people in this world do not always act legally and ethically, here are some ways to take advantage of the systems and processes that allow for pirating of work.

Make sure all of your work includes links to your website, social media accounts, mailing list, podcasts, and anything else you can market.
Solicit reviews in your work. If they are going to steal it, at the minimum they can leave  you a review.
Use torrenting and other sites to circulate short stories and other mediums to attract followers and drive traffic to you.
Use the same sites to circulate promotional materials and solicit speaking engagements. Use it for free advertising.
Use them to circulate short videos and podcasts publicizing your work.
Circulate samples of work. I may, one time, have released a copy of a book where it cut off in a pivotal scene, and then had links where you could buy the full copy.

At the end of it all, you do have to protect your rights, and your property. In this case it’s your work, and your art.  At the same time, you can’t expend so much energy in the process, that you do nothing else. Creators must create. South Park may have given one of the best examples in the episode, “Christian Rock Hard.” One side was rampantly successful in spite of itself, and the other side refused to create in fear of theft and streaming.
But the good news is, if you don’t produce anything, there’s nothing to lose. And no way to gain either.
Arrgghhh, me maties.

There's madness to my methods… oh wait…