Butchered Dreams Cover Reveal!

Butchered Dreams by Hadena James

Need I say more?

Hubman the Creepy

HubmsnMeet Hubman the Creepy.  Hubman the Creepy is currently a required piece of equipment for using my laptop.  I have one working USB port.  It’s really hard to plug in a wireless mouse and keyboard, plus use a thumb drive (or anything else for that matter) with one USB port.  So, I had to buy him.  His strange smiley face and weird body is dangles from my laptop at all times.

I’m not fond of him.  He kind of creeps me out.  First off, there’s the weird asymmetry that occurs when I plug something into him.  Like my dedicated flash drive for only my stories (and covers) creating a long white leg while the other seems deformed because it’s so much shorter.

Hubman is sitting on the box for the wireless keyboard and mouse.  I’m using it as a base for the keyboard.  The mouse doesn’t work very well on it, it’s laminated and too shiny for the optical mouse to move with any efficiency.  The mouse tends to sit on my leg when I need to use it.

As you can tell, I really hate my current working conditions.  Unfortunately, I’m determined to muscle through and finish Butchered Dreams before I give it to my SO’s uncle to be fixed (he’s family, it’s hard to put a rush on things).



Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Hadena James (Me!) & My Books

1.  The only character I’ve ever written that is based on “me” is Kenzie Reynolds from the Dysfunctional Chronicles.  Aislinn, Nadine, and Brenna all have some of my physical or psychological traits, but they aren’t actually based on me.  Of course, some of the men have my personality traits too, simply because characters need personalities.

2.  All my female heroines are short with a tall(er) female companion and this is done intentionally.  In most female-centric books, the lead female is tall and her female friends are shorter.  The only series I’ve read where this is not the case is the Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamiliton in which Anita is shorter than her best friend Veronica.  In all the other series I’ve read, the lead female is always the tallest girl around.  So, I’m giving a shout out to the short women!

3.  In every Dreams & Reality novel, there are clues about what the next two books in the series will be about.  For example, in Tortured Dreams, Xavier references the Predator movies more than once and in Elysium Dreams, the killer is hanging his victims upside down and skinning them alive (I always think of the scene from Predator 2, when all the Haitian drug lords are dripping blood onto the floor of the condo after the Predator has gotten them).  Also, Aislinn talks about mercury a couple of times in Tortured Dreams and of course, the third in the series is Mercurial Dreams.

4.  I write from a “first person point of view” because I prefer to read those types of books.  It allows “me” to be the heroine and save the day, instead of a named person who is narrating in third person.

5.  I am “color challenged.”  There is something wrong with the way my brain interrupts colors.  Subtle color variations are completely lost on me (any shade of red, looks like red… any shade of purple, can look like either red or blue, depending on nearest dominant color).   As a result, impressionist art looks like blurry paintings done in pastels.  And I have trouble appreciating other art as well. Another problem, I have to have someone else look at all my book covers and tell me if they look ok.  Finally, I buy a lot of black clothes just because nothing else looks like black.  Buying dress clothes are a pain in the rear because I can’t figure out what matches and what doesn’t.  Hence my becoming a T-Shirt and jeans girl.

6.  I learned to play the cello as a child, but I couldn’t tune it because I’m tone deaf.  This means listening to me sing (especially karaoke), is a lot like having someone slam your head in a car door, repeatedly.  Of course, this doesn’t stop me from singing, out loud with the radio (I try not to do karaoke), even when I’m not alone.  I figure friendships require the occasional bout of torture to test their strength.

7.  The first “adult book” I ever read was a romance novel by Janet Dailey.  My parents didn’t censor my reading because at the end of second grade, my reading ability and comprehension tested as “college graduate or higher.”  During the summer, I could easily read thirty books a week, which meant a lot of trips to the library and my mother was a “single mom,” so it wasn’t always possible to get to the library every day.  Instead, she opened up her reading collection to me.  Most of it was cheesy Harlequin novels that made me a cynic about romance.  After that summer, my mom began to desperately buy paperbacks at garage sales as often as possible, which is how I ended up reading lots of Stephen King as a kid… It beat romance novels.  (and for those that are going to be appalled by this act – heaven forbid, an eight year old read a romance novel or worse, a Stephen King novel! – remember, I wasn’t your average kid, at eight was more mature than most college students and shared their reading skills, so it really wasn’t that big a deal and I was not scarred for life by reading either horror or romance novels at that age)

8.  My best friend is my cousin and she is 12 years older than me.  She is the reason why all my female characters have a best friend who is also a cousin in them.  Her influence on me as a child (she paid attention to me even when I was reading Stephen King and Janet Dailey novels at eight), left a lasting impact that taught me the value of family.  Sure, she was my cousin, but that didn’t mean she had to be nice to me.  As I aged, she went from cousin who took me to movies and concerts and bought me books, to friend.  Without her willingness to sit through even my crappiest books, I wouldn’t be a writer.

9.  My mother is my hero.  She jokes that she “lives life in the sucky lane,” but that never stops her.  Regardless of what comes her way, she faces it head on and overcomes it, like a knight slaying a dragon.  And she’s had some serious challenges over the years.  At the end of the day, she always conquers them.  I can only hope to be half as strong and determined as she is.

10.  While I do love Mexican food, Italian food, and pizza, my favorite dish is not among those.  My favorite dish is roast, cooked in a crock pot with carrots, green beans, mushrooms, and onions with Sizzling Oak Season by Van Roehling.  I buy and cook two a month and it will feed me for days… I always keep it in the crock pot and just turn it back on in the morning (refrigerating it at night).  If it runs out of veggies before the roast is gone, I just add more.  I don’t like potatoes, so I don’t put them in it unless I know someone (like my SO) is going to eat it.  However, he is currently burnt out on roast, so when I fix it, I have to fix him other meals.

Bonus Food Oddities:  I love onions, on everything.  I don’t know if it’s learned or genetic, because my father will eat slices of onions with ice cream and he eats onions like apples.  I don’t do either of these things, but I get the appeal.  I hate the texture of loose meat hamburger, so I won’t eat hamburger in tacos, spaghetti sauce, or any other form except a hamburger and if the hamburger isn’t cooked well done or is too thick, I have trouble getting it down because it breaks apart.  I don’t like ketchup, unless it’s mixed with mayonnaise (and I don’t like Miracle Whip).   And finally,  I love pepperoni, but it is terribly bad for me (migraines, pork allergy, migraines).  However, about once a week, I have to give in and grab a piece or two from the fridge (yes, I can eat it cold, right out of the bag).

Not All Ebooks Are Created Equally

I understand that not ebooks are created equally.  Some are edited better than others.  Some are written better than others.  Some just aren’t for the reader, they thought they were going to enjoy it, but didn’t.  It happens and ebooks have no resale value like a paperback.

I know, I’m the queen of reading ebooks I find I don’t like when I finish them.  A great example; I read a book that Joe Konrath (writing as Jack Kilborn) cowrote with Blake Crouch and I loved it.  So, I grabbed a handful of Blake Crouch novels.  Uh, nope, I read each of them and just couldn’t get interested.  The same problem emerged with Odd Thomas – I like Dean Koontz as a general rule and it seemed like a book I would enjoy.  I didn’t.  As oddity would have it though, I did enjoy the audiobook of Odd Thomas.  I also enjoyed the audiobook of The Pines by Blake Crouch. But the books bored me so much, I actually feel asleep reading them on multiple occasions… I didn’t even finish either ebook.

So what exactly is the point of this post?  Four days ago, a copy of Dark Illumination was returned.  Three days ago, a copy of Dark Resurrections was returned.  Two days ago, it was Dark Legacies.  I’m not an idiot.  Ebooks do not get returned in order, one after another, randomly.  Plus, I don’t have that many returns.  Most months, I don’t have any.  When I do have returns, it’s the same thing, each book in a series gets returned, in reading order, usually one day after the other.  It bugs the shit out of me.

It isn’t the returns themselves that bug me.  It’s the fact that I could see someone buying, reading, and returning them, day after bloody day.  Obviously, they enjoyed the series enough that they had to know how it ended, but they didn’t enjoy it enough to pay the entire $8.97 for the four books?  They should have gotten four books for $9… but no, they got four books completely free.  Would they do the same to Dean Koontz?  Do they habitually buy books and return them after reading them?

And now, I see the same thing happening with the Dreams novels.  Elysium Dreams had a return the day before yesterday.  Last night, I came home to find a return on Mercurial Dreams.  I would be willing to bet that sometime today, Explosive Dreams has a return.

This leaves me wondering, are they too poor to afford ebooks?  If so, I understand that and they should contact me, maybe we can work something out.  Or are they really that… I can’t think of a word to insert here, so insert your own… that they will read all my books and begrudge me the paltry sum of $17.08 (because that’s what I make on those two series if you buy them all) – it would cost them $24.93 for 9 books.  That’s the part that chaps my ass, before ebooks, spending  $24.93 might have gotten you four mass market paperbacks, depending on the author and where you bought them (more than likely, it would have gotten you three, unless you only bought used books at garage sales, because even used book stores charge more for a used paperback than most ebooks).   Also, let’s be honest, you can’t even go to a two hour movie for $24.93, unless you buy only a ticket and nothing from the concession stand… Reading all those books, even if you read fast, will take you around 27 hours.  Where else can you get at least 27 hours worth of entertainment for $24.93?

This rant is “me-ecentric,” but it actually applies to all authors.  Don’t return ebooks unless you just absolutely despise them.  Like if I had bought Anna Karenina  in ebook form, even for $0.99, I would return it, but I have a deep-seeded disgust for the book that has become a pathological hatred where the very name makes me feel ill.  If there was a sequel, I definitely wouldn’t be buy it.  Ebooks that you feel this strongly about, you should return.  Other ebooks, not so much.  Is that $2.99 or $3.99 really going to break you?

“Wayside School is Falling Down”

Wayside school was built sideways, instead of being one story with thirty classrooms, it was thirty stories with one classroom per floor.  The children were all eccentric and the teachers were nuts.  No idea what I’m talking about?

Before Holes starred Shia LeBeouf, the author of the book wrote a series called Sideways Stories from Wayside SchoolWayside School Gets a Little Stranger, and Wayside School is Falling Down.  As a child, I loved these books.  As an adult, I still enjoy them immensely.  They didn’t make the author famous and they probably didn’t make him filthy rich, but they touched the lives of school kids all over the place in the 1980’s.

My early summers were filed with these books and there’s a nostalgia associated with them.  Even as I aged and read more complex books and books for adults, those stories still played a role.  I can’t tell you the number of times I read the Wayside School books and probably, don’t want to admit it anyway, it would only serve to prove my geekiness.

However, without Louis Sachar and the Wayside School books, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  These were the first books I “re-read.”  At least twice a year, I would check them out from the school library.  I’d bring them home and my mother would smile and shake her head as I delved into the stories I already knew all over again.  I distinctly remember in third grade, I was reading on the second in the series before dinner and my mother asked “what I was reading.”  I told her “I needed something lighter than Stephen King, so I’m reading Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger again.”

To most, this would sound precocious from an eight year old, from me, it was the truth.  I had needed a break from a Stephen King novel and had gone back to a favorite for young children.

The enjoyment I got from these books actually made me pick up a pen for the first time and write a story.  It wasn’t particularly good, I was eight, but it was a short story.  There was a beginning, a middle and an end, it was coherent and made sense.  Encyclopedia Brown got me interested in mysteries, which turned into a love of Sherlock Holmes and by ten, I was trying to write my first mysteries.  Dismal failures, but by then, I’d been bitten by the writing bug.

And so, I tip my hat to Louis Sachar and Donald J. Sobel for turning a little girl who loved to read into an adult who loves to write.

The Death of the Laptop Keyboard

The last week of August, I was working on my author’s guide for the Dreams & Reality novels.  When I saved, something weird happened.  There was a glitch, my screen fuzzed for just a second, there was an odd noise from the computer and I immediately grabbed a thumb drive.  However, my USB port didn’t work.  Everything else went back to normal.

Glitches do happen from time to time.  I thought nothing of this, until I realized that the author’s guide was gone.  Just completely gone from my hard drive.  Annoying, but not the end of the world.  A few other files that I had worked on in the hour before the glitch were also gone.  Extremely weird, but there wasn’t much I could do about it… start backing up to some sort of online storage system, which I did.

Last Thursday night, my SO and I went to the drive-in and watched the movie Grease.  I prefer the sequel (I know, I’m the only person on the planet, but long live Michelle Pfeiffer… I love her), but at the drive-in, the first one was great.  When we got home, I booted my laptop and there was the sound of a small animal being cruelly slaughtered, possibly by aliens.

Holy shit!  My laptop is about to go belly up.  Out of instinct, I grab my thumb drive and the it works!  I immediately begin backing up everything that might possibly have even the tiniest amount of importance.  This is not an easy task.  I have a ton of stuff on my computer (although, my life’s work can be stored in two gigabytes of data, which is sort of depressing).  It continued into the next day.  That afternoon, I realized that my laptop felt hot.

It’s the fan!  I can take a look at that.  I can work my way around the inside of a computer with little trouble (thanks Beth!).  My first thought was it had burned up.  It would need to be replaced, but I was going to look anyway.  So, I get ready to take off the laptop keyboard and it comes off really easy.  Now, I’ve opened laptops before, removed the keyboards, it’s always a struggle unclipping the wires that control the mouse, keyboard and power button… but not this time.  I think little of it and set the keyboard off to the side.  I also notice something else really weird.  There’s tape and pieces of folded paper inside the computer.

Now, I haven’t a clue what that’s about.  I remove all the tape and paper (I bought it used, maybe the person who owned it before me was odd, even by my standards).  Get the cover off and see a piece of plastic in the fan.  I remove it.  Hopefully, this willful interloper hasn’t destroyed the fan.  I begin putting it back together.

It doesn’t plug in… The keyboard, the mouse, and the power button control wires don’t have clips on them!  Instead, these things had been rigged up using tape, folded paper, and plastic.  WTF?!?  Guess who can’t rig it back together?  Me!

Friday, I go buy a wireless mouse and keyboard.  With some skillful maneuvering, I manage to get it turned on.  I hold the wire in place for the keyboard as I enter my Windows password.  Once I’m logged in, I get the wireless keyboard and mouse installed.

But there’s an issue.  That stupid little power wire doesn’t like to stay in place.  I put the keyboard back in place and it won’t boot because that wire doesn’t connect.  I have to hold it in place to boot the computer.

Alas, it is going to be repaired soon.  The fan wasn’t shot, just the control wires.  However, it’s not going until I finish Butchered Dreams.  I’m soooo close to being ready to send it to the editor I can taste it.  I have another computer, but it doesn’t have WriteWay and it doesn’t have Office 2013.  Writing requires comfort, I find those two things comfortable, therefore, necessary.  What I had forgotten after years of working on a laptop, the keyboard is a little different and using a mouse is a lot different.  So, I’m having to relearn that part of computer usage.

And that was how my keyboard and mouse died.  As I look at the innards of my laptop for hours on end, writing my little, pudgy fingers off, I cannot for the life of me figure out how they managed to work as long as they did… rigged into place with tape, pieces of plastic, and folded paper.

Give The Gift Of Cain

Flash sale for Elysium Dreams, the second Dreams & Reality novel.  It will be priced $0.99 all day on 23 September 2014.  If you’ve been reluctant to buy it, because it is so much different than Tortured Dreams (or because you weren’t entirely sure you liked Tortured Dreams), now is your chance to try it cheap.  For those that have read it, now is a good time to give the gift of Aislinn Cain to a reader you think might enjoy it without it costing you an arm and a leg (or $3.99).

For those waiting on Butchered Dreams, the sixth Dreams & Reality novel, pre-orders will begin on 14 October 2014 and the novel will release on 14 November (yeah, I’m that close to being done… beta readers beware, I expect it to arrive in your inboxes on 1 October).  :-)  Cover review on 1 October 2014!

Ancient Aliens and Other Shows Like It

I watch a bunch of shows like Ancient Aliens, UFO Hunters, Monsters & Mysteries in America, Paranormal Witness, and The Unexplained Files.  Most of my friends wonder about my taste in TV shows and I don’t admit I watch them very often.  However, there is a reason I watch them.  Aside from their entertainment value and the fact that I can purge any anger by yelling at the TV, they make me think.

If I put aside my preconceived notions of what I  know to be reality (and this is different for everyone, after all, I believe in ghosts and hauntings where a lot of people don’t), there’s information in them.  Sometimes, it’s historical fact.  Sometimes, it’s speculation.  Either are good for me as a writer.

When I listen to Crazy-Hair Tsoukalos (Giorgio Tsoukalos) with an open mind, it makes me start to think about what I really know to be true.  It opens my mind to other possibilities.  I’m not jumping on Giorgio’s “Aliens built the pyramids to be a giant energy source for refueling their ships” bandwagon, but I have to admit, there are still mysteries about the pyramids.  Like why did nearly every ancient culture build them?  You can tell me that it’s because it’s a basic form that makes sense, but seriously, they’re a lot of work.  Some cultures should have gone “nope, not building it, you’re nuts and this is going to take forever with our primitive wheels and carving methods.”  And maybe they did, maybe that’s why pyramids don’t exist in every known advanced civilization to exist before the turn from BCE to CE.  After all, Ancient Greeks weren’t really building pyramids, they busy defacing the pyramids in Egypt.  Instead, they built other colossal stone buildings that make me think “wow, what the hell are you guys doing?  Don’t you have better ways to spend your days?”  If the ancients had built fewer pyramids and other colossal stone structures, they might have come up with the Theory of Relativity long before Einstein.  Then again, maybe they did and we just haven’t found evidence of it.

As Bill Birnes goes on and on about secret underground bases in Dolce, New Mexico or talks about UFOs over military installations, I can go “uh, yeah, that’s how new military aircraft are invented” or I can go “well, maybe there are some things we don’t understand yet.”

It’s when I have those “well, maybe,” moments that my mind opens up and I not only expand my knowledge, but expand the ability of my imagination to come up with new things.  It’s not an accident that Gabriel has a story about a wendigo.  I’m fascinated with the Native American concept of the demonic flesh-eater that enters the bodies of men and turns them into fierce cannibals.  I’ve read about it.  I’ve watched the Monsters & Mysteries episode.  It’s interesting and I can’t say “these people are crazy and it doesn’t exist,” but I also can’t say “yes, it exists and it is pure evil that roams the earth looking for the unwary.”  Humans have dealt with far crazier things than a wendigo.

My personal feelings have to be set aside for this to work.  And it’s amazing what can happen after that – Gabriel’s wendigo story will be explained in a later Dreams book, an experience created because I opened my mind to the possibility that a wendigo might exist.  My fantasy novels all come from this same place, as does my horror (which I’ve never published).  It’s really quite amazing what the mind can think of when you give it permission to ignore what you know to be true and think about the what-if.  Shows like these, keep me from becoming too comfortable with the conventional and exercises my imagination.

PS: Sorry about the Tsoukalos rant… I really don’t have anything against him except his hair cut… that rubs me wrong and I have no idea why.

“I’m 57% Done!”

When people ask what stage I’m at in my next book, I always say things like “I’m 57% done.”  The usual reply, “That’s great, H!”  In their minds, I know they ask what the hell does that mean?!? Even some writer’s look at me mystified by this magic percentage that I seem to pulling out of thin air.

I’m not pulling it out of thin air.  It’s a “percentage of a goal.”  I use WriteWay writing software.  When I start each book, I think about the length, for a Cain novel, this is standardized to 80,000 words.  For a Dysfunctional novella, it’s 25,000.  For a fantasy novel, it’s 65,000.  These are goals, not set in stone numbers.  Books always vary in length because each requires their own magical amount of words to tell the story.  There’s no way for me to know what that number is going into it, so I set a goal.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered telling someone I have 49,323 words done on my novel requires lots of explanation.  If I tell them a percentage, it is pretty satisfactory.  Percentages are easier to understand than word counts, if you aren’t a writer (although, some of my closest friends and family are slowly learning).  The best part, every time I save my book file in WriteWay, the percentage of the goal automatically updates.  It’s the last thing I check before I shut down the program.

But as I said, every book has a different amount of words needed to tell the story.  At this moment, I have 50,000 words on Butchered Dreams.  According to my goal, that means I need another 30,000 words.  It’s not going to get another 30,000 words.  I know, I’m writing it and the story isn’t going to require that many.  If I end up with that many more words, I’m going to start repeating myself.  I estimate it will be another 20,000 words, give or take.

This magical word count is different for every story.  Cannibal Dreams ended up being 76,000 words.   Meaning WriteWay kept telling me I need 4,000 more words to the 100% mark, but the story didn’t require another 4,000 words… so it didn’t get them.  I have gone over this goal, but it’s more likely to fall a few thousand words short than a few thousand words long (Dark Cotillion is the major exception).

So, when a writer tells you they are Blah% done, it means that they have a word count goal in mind and they have achieved x amount of those words.  When they finish, they may be a few thousand words short or a few thousand words long, but they’ve put in the needed magical amount of words to tell the movie.

(PS: I set my goals based on a German manual for writers that suggests “magical numbers” for each genre.  These numbers were compiled from over a million published books in every genre to find “ideal genre length” to give writer’s an idea of how long their novels should be to improve marketability)

Support Your Local Bookstore

As an indie author, I feel the need to support my indie bookstores.  People like me have trouble getting into places like Barnes & Nobel for book signings.  We have trouble getting them to carry our books, even in our local store.  However, the indie book stores don’t have that problem.  As a matter of fact, when I went in to talk to Becky with Village Books, she signed me up immediately for an opening in October.  She also signed me up to come talk to her book club – Chick Lit & Chocolate.  Aside from being terrified by this event (honestly, I thought it would take a lot of persuading to get a book signing), I realized how much support they were giving me and all it took was me going to talk to them, in person.

The store carries my books, nicely displayed in a visible location (and right now, there’s a picture of me with an event notification that I will be doing a signing on 25 October 2014 under the books).  She’s even peddled a few of my books to the book club (which just terrifies me even more that I am going to be speaking with them).

However, with the ebook revolution (and remember, I’m a huge fan of this), I realize it’s the indie stores that get hurt.  B&N can change their business model to cope with the change (from what I can tell, they really haven’t embraced this, but they could).  Indie stores can’t.  They sell books, period.

Smashwords distribution has made it possible though for small, indie stores to sell ebooks and earn money off of them.  The Village Books Online Store carries all of my books.  The drawback is that you have to Blio to read them or you have to be willing to read a PDF, but tablets and even iPhones have the Blio app.  And I know you can download PDF books to both the Kindle and the Nook.  Since I read on both my Kindle and my iPhone (one day, I’ll get a table, but that day will be… hmmm, another electronic gadget for me to procrastinate with… not today), I have Blio installed on my iPhone so that I can purchase at least some of my books from Village Books.  Unfortunately, I hate reading PDF books.  So, while I do buy ebooks from the online Village Bookstore, they are limited to being read on my iPhone.

So, support your local book store.  Next time you decide to buy an ebook, check to see if they have an ebook distribution company.  If they don’t, you can always support my local book store heroes and buy from Village Books.  Does that mean you should ditch Amazon and B&N completely?  Nope.  I believe in spreading the money around.  If your book buying budget for the month is $20 and you have a Nook/Kindle and either a tablet or iPhone or like reading PDF books, spend $10 or so at your local bookstore and the rest on books from the store associated your dedicated reader.  After all, there are books available on Amazon and B&N that aren’t available as ebooks from your local store.

And as I said, if you don’t have a local indie store with ebooks available, you are always welcome to support my favorite local indie store.  ;-)

Village Books

2513 Bernadette Dr, Columbia MO 65203 (573) 449-8637

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