Sunday, March 18, 2018

Words Kill

     I suppose I should be writing about the hit job that was done by Donald Trump and his thugs on Andrew McCabe and I suppose I should at a later date. But there's something else I want to talk about today. Bullying and the suicide that all too often succeeds it.
     I follow and am friends with literally thousands of other authors on Facebook. They range from Jeffery Deaver, Scott Turow and Anne Perry all the way down to obscure indie authors like me. So when I saw this on the feed of one of my friends, Robert Gregory Browne, I saw red. This is what Browne wrote today just before announcing he was taking a sabbatical from Facebook over this very same incident:
I don't know Lee Ching. But I've just learned that she attempted to take her own life because people on Facebook were encouraging her to. Told her she was worthless and should kill herself. Why? Because apparently she used the same stock art on a book cover as someone else and the designs were similar. According to what I read, EIGHTY authors and author sycophants were part of this bullying. One after another called her the "C" word and told her to slit her wrists, told her she would never work in publishing again. These weren't eighty brainless teenagers but eighty ADULTS, telling someone to kill herself. OVER A BOOK COVER.
I'm a nonbeliever, but I now hope Hell exists.
    Not that I'm conflating the two because there's just no comparison. But this juvenile, sociopathic behavior reminds me of what had happened 11 months ago when some British hack named Katerina Diamond decided to engage in a one-way flame war with me. Lord only knows what was said about me behind my back but this kicks up bad online behavior several notches. I only lost two dozen so-called "friends" over that non-incident. This girl almost took her life. Many if not most of us have illusions about our fellow writers being mature, compassionate people but I have no such illusions even among my Facebook "friends." And Katerina Diamond and her hysterical shrieking would've disabused me of the notion, if I'd harbored any, that such petty and sadistic behavior is solely in the domain of self-published authors.
      It is not. If anything, the reverse is true. A FB friend once shared a story about Dave Chadwick, my own personal stalker and frustrated self-pubbed author, who'd once belonged to a writing group she ran. She said Chadwick harassed a female author so much she actually had a nervous breakdown, unpublished her books and had to republish them under a pen name to get away from Chadwick. (Chadwick's indirectly, if not directly responsible for the death of a friend of mine, btw).
      But online conduct such as this is inexcusable and intolerable, to say the VERY least. I see posts all the time with which I don't agree. I see book covers all the time that are absolutely dreadful. I almost always pass over them without comment because I don't feel it necessary to waste my time to insult someone or their work and hurt their feelings in the process. But to actually encourage someone to kill themselves and over something as petty as a book cover?
     Now, places such as Photobucket and Shutterstock sell images and clip art to people like Lee Ching and my own graphic designer. And sometimes designers use the same royalty-free images when making book covers for their clients. It happens. It's no worse than two women showing up at the same party wearing the same dress.

     For instance, my first graphic designer, when looking for a picture for Scott Carson while working on the cover for Tatterdemalion, chose a fairly common picture that others had used. I've seen that model (far right) used on two other book covers, including The Whip, which I own.

     The shadow outline that you see in the cover for my upcoming novel Blue Blood is one that I've seen on at least one other cover and is also commonly sold on Shutterstock, one which I'd provided to my second and current designer. It's an occupational hazard in this business. Again, it happens. It's not a matter of life and death. But some people think plagiarism, which wasn't even close to being proved in Ching's case, is a capital offense.
     Words kill because you need to allow that some are more sensitive than others and calling them "snowflakes" or such ridiculous names is not doing the right thing. A beautiful, talented and sweet young lady almost killed herself in South Africa yesterday because of ugly words from even uglier people.
     Sorry but if you're that vicious of a human being and encourage others to kill themselves, might I suggest you lead by example?

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