Leave it to me

So, the edits are back on Flawless Dreams and I desperately need to work on it.  But leave it to me to catch some strange ass virus that attacks the sinuses, optical nerves, and then moves lower.  Essentially, I got a few more days before this virus moves south in my body.  Until then, I have a sinus headache like you can’t even begin to imagine, a swollen ear because yeah, it attacked that too, I can barely see – this totally sucks and leads to very boring days where I can’t work, play video games, enjoy a book, or even watch TV.  Because that’s the kind of luck I have.

The virus is airborne and highly contagious.  The ER doctor I spoke with last night (my second trip to the ER in 3 days), told me that it enters through the nasal passages and attacks this system first, but it is a systemic virus…  I’ll know it’s about done when my vision returns but my digestive tract is torn to shreds.  To here him tell it, I’m going to need to set up shop in my bathroom because it will be vacating the building via both exits.

That sounds joyous.

I haven’t decided which part of this is worse: the massive headache, unbelievable facial pain that prevents me from chewing food without serious narcotics, being mostly blind, or to know that the end is signalled by the return of my sight just in time for extreme diarrhea and vomiting.

It is a variation on RSV which is normally respiratory and very dangerous to children.  He was pretty sure I should ask my friends and see which of their kids have been sick.

And I have exposed the 10 month old great nephew because I thought it was extreme allergies.  So, we’ll all be keeping an eye on him.

I was told it lasts between 7 and 10 days.  It started Sunday morning, just in time to ruin Mother’s day for my Mom & MIL.  Then my husband’s birthday on Monday.  I’m hoping like hell it is closer to that 7 day mark than the 10 day mark.

There are two silver linings to this though:

  1. He said it wasn’t the worst virus going around.
  2. I am learning to use the dictation system on both my phone and laptop with some proficiency.  Not being able to see requires one to learn to use dictation.  I’ve even managed to figure out that Siri will read my text messages to me.

And I’m not totally blind, there are just giant black spots in my vision.  To read anything, I have to have it about an inch from my face and cover one eye so I don’t have double the black spots.

Please Stop Telling Me To Procreate

As a 36-year-old female who is now married, but has been in a relationship with the same man for 9 years almost, people like to ask me when we are going to start having kids.  They also like to remind me that I’m not getting any younger and I should hurry.

I know in their minds, they are only stating the obvious course of human nature… People grow up, fall in love, have kids, grow old, have grandkids, etc.  And reminding them that I don’t want children is a little like slapping them in the face.  Or at least, that’s the look I usually get along with a weird sucking in of breath like I just committed treason.

It isn’t entirely their fault.  Society has programed us to believe that everyone, especially women, want children.  When that isn’t the case, no one is quite sure how to react. I even read an article recently about how Millennials are misplacing their maternal instincts onto their pets.

Let me help with this misconception, since I am a woman who has never wanted children.

It isn’t the expense of having a child.  It isn’t the time and I’m a selfish person and willing to admit that.  It isn’t the possibility that I will pass along my bad genes and my child will be physically or mentally ill.  It isn’t even the fear that I would be a bad parent. And  I do not misplace my maternal instincts onto Lola the Destroyer.

The simple truth is, I do not want children because I do not want children.  Yep.  It’s that simple.  Some people don’t want dogs or cats or gas-guzzling cars or knockoff shoes or to work in an office and when those people say they don’t want those things, everyone just nods their heads and accepts it.  But not wanting children seems to require a reason.  I make shit up if I have to, usually I talk about my health and infertility issues… However, the real reason I don’t want children is because I don’t want children.

The majority of the time, I don’t even like children.  How’s that for being brutally honest?  I can hang out with Jude the Great Nephew all day, but I’m just as happy when mommy picks him up as I am when he wants to give me a kiss.

It’s not even a lack of maternal instinct, which I do indeed have, although I will tell people I don’t.  I love when Jude wants hugs and kisses, I like to play with him, I don’t mind feeding him, when he’s sick I worry.  When he conks his little head, I have a moment when my heart stops while I check on him.  I hate when he cries because he’s sad or hungry or hurt himself.  I have all of those reactions, just like a person who wants kids would have.

It doesn’t mean I secretly want them.  It doesn’t mean that I have buried my desire for children into my subconscious because I do have fertility issues, which is the other thing everyone latches onto.

However, it is not a mental illness.  It’s not about what I would be exchanging in my life.  It’s not about my fertility issues.  My subconscious doesn’t secretly yearn for me to be a mother.  I do not want children because I just do not want children.  And I am aware I just repeated myself verbatim from above, but I get so tired of being asked why I don’t want children and then prodded when I give an answer that I feel this needs to be repeated.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of women out there just like me.  There isn’t any real reason they don’t want children, they just don’t.  I actually know 3 other than myself.  They also can’t give you a real reason for why they don’t want kids.  They can make shit up, like I do, but the truth comes down to that one piece of information that every thinks is crazy…

They don’t want kids because they don’t want kids.

God forbid one of us says that out loud though.  Other people look at us like we sprouted a second head.  Most of the time, I think they would feel better if they heard me say I was a deranged psychopath that had murdered thirty people and they were next on my list.

Surprisingly, the world isn’t going to end because I don’t have children.  My parents are grandparents and now great grandparents.  My husband’s parents are grandparents with the possibility of becoming great grandparents any day (their grandson is also an adult who is married).  Neither of our parents are missing out on anything and if they were, they could always adopt a dog to misplace their maternal instincts on…

And knowing that I don’t want children, it makes sense to not have them.  Would I resent them?  Would I be emotionally disconnected from them?  Would they grow up knowing that I actually hadn’t intended to ever give birth to them?  What kind of life is that for a child?

To me, it makes more sense to not have children, no excuses needed, because I know that I don’t want them.  Society needs to progress a little and finally come to the realization that not every woman on the planet wants to be a mother.  Also, if you don’t want to be a mother, you are not missing out on the joys of motherhood.  Quite the opposite actually; if you don’t want kids, but have one, that takes a psychological toll on a person that is hard to explain, but makes motherhood more like a claustrophobic cage that they can’t escape from.

So let’s start the movement to change minds, attitudes, and social norms.  The next time you hear a woman or a man for that matter, say they don’t want kids, don’t fall into the trap of asking why and pointing out all they are missing.  Just accept that they don’t want children and they may not have a reason for it and the world is not going to end as a result.  Their parents have learned to accept the fact that Child X isn’t going to give them grandchildren and they have found other outlets for that…. whether it be a favorite niece’s child or a dog or a pumpkin they named Sam (which might in fact be crazy).

Besides, there are 8 billion people on this planet, many of whom need love, attention, and families.  Those of us who are not procreating are allowing space for those forgotten souls to find someone to love them… even if it means our parents treat them like grandchildren.  I know because my father is a collector of lost and forgotten souls.  With me not having children, he has the time and the capabilities of helping those lost and forgotten souls with their needs; whether that means being a father or grandfather figure to them or being their friend.

We are not freaks.  We can’t explain why we don’t want children and that should be okay.  We are tired of making shit up to end the barrage of questions that come from the statement “we aren’t having children.”  We just want to live our lives and be accepted despite that one tiny detail that makes everyone’s heads explode when they hear it.  But it takes understanding to make changes and no one has even started to try and understand this phenomenon.  Instead, they want to label us as damaged or mentally ill when we aren’t.  In other words, we should not be defined by our want to not procreate and we should not be ridiculed, pressured, or considered freaks for it.

*Side Note: I knew before I was seven that I didn’t want children.  Most people thought it was a phase and I’d grow out of it.  When I didn’t, then it was because there was something mentally wrong with me that kept me from wanting kids.  The truth was, I had spent all day at daycare with little babies and kids younger than me and it was like a lightbulb going on in my head… I did not want to live the life of a parent. Thoughts of having my own children have never filled me with joy and having a baby is not going to cure that.

When It Flows

Recently someone asked me how I wrote my books.  I took a while to think about this and finally came up with an answer: I have no idea.  Weird, right?

Writing is a mystery to me.  It just happens.  Sometimes I can force it to happen, but I can tell when I do.  The best novels I have written are the ones that just happened.  They started with a single word and just flowed…

When this happens, I can write a book very quickly.  Fortified Dreams is one example; I wrote it in less than two weeks.  Elysium Dreams was written in just under three weeks. The most impressive though for me, personally, is Dark Cotillion.  I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November), 120,000 words in one month.

Books where I have to force the story along not only take longer, but they tend to be shorter in word counts.  The average novel is 60,000 words.  I always try to make a Dreams novel that length, sometimes though, it’s hard.  The story just doesn’t flow from me and I have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is going on.

Then there are the weird books; Cannibal Dreams falls into this category.  It started okay, I had to force the first several chapters though and then it hit a snag and Patterson showed up.  Once Patterson arrived in the story, it started to flow and was written without any more problems.

I’ve often told people that I don’t control my characters.  This is weird, but it’s also true.  I can’t force Aislinn Cain to do anything… In my head, she’s her own person and as a result, she does her own thing.  People who know me personally have trouble separating me from the characters as they read, but to me, the characters are people that live in my head.  It’s like hearing voices and having imaginary friends, but without the need of psychiatric treatment.

If I have to force a book, it’s because my brain is at war with my imagination.  My brain wants one thing to happen, while my imagination is telling a completely different story.  This disconnect is weird and it’s even weirder as I write it.  It just feels unnatural and occasionally leads to writer’s block.

I had this problem big time with Innocent Dreams.  The original chapters are still there, but the story isn’t.  It literally goes nowhere for eight full chapters.  Even the two killer chapters are a disaster.  It’s why I never published it; I never finished it and I never figured out what was going on in it.

I don’t plot out a story ahead of time.  I try and try and try to do that, because I’ve been told repeatedly that it makes for good stories.  But it never works.  Someone always goes way off script.  The last book that I used the pre-writing plotting for was awful.  I’m surprised people still buy the books that came after it.  It is among my least favorite books I have ever published.

They have a term for how I write; pantser.  I just get an idea and run with it, no plotting or planning.  For D&R, it’s a killer, possibly more.  For Dysfunctional Chronicles, it’s a situation.  For the Death Demon Trilogy it’s the knowledge that someone made a poor decision and years later, it has to be rectified.

This makes it nearly impossible to describe the plot of a book before I have completely written it.  It also makes writing difficult for me sometimes because when I force a book to happen, the story doesn’t reveal itself to me, I have to search for it.

It also means that sometimes, I go long stretches without writing much.  I don’t like the disconnected feeling when I can’t see the story unfolding because my brain and imagination are warring with each other.  However, it never stops me completely.  The ideas are always flowing.  Most get rejected, but every so often, one gets latched onto and becomes a book.

Which is why I tell people I don’t know how to write a book, for me, it just happens or it doesn’t and I struggle to figure it out.  It’s a strange position to be in.

Demonic Mystery Man

Whilst writing Flawless Dreams a strange man showed up.  He had no face.  He had no place, not in the story I was writing at the time.  However, I have often found that one part of my brain is different than the other and this makes strange things happen when I write.

I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, my stories play out like a movie in my head and I am just the conveyor of the story to others.  It works, most of the time.  Sometimes characters do things I don’t expect and no matter what I try, they won’t do what I want.  Pretty sure I’m not crazy, but there are moments I’m in doubt since I don’t feel like I’m in control of the storyline.

Que up the song Return of the Phantom Stranger and enter the demonic mystery man…

I knew who he was.  I have known of his existence since I started writing these stories nearly 20 years ago.  He wasn’t supposed to appear yet.  I hadn’t planned on him showing up for nearly five more books.

Yet, there he was.  Hunting in the shadows.  Repeatedly making appearances to screw with the characters and the plot of Flawless Dreams.

I deleted multiple chapters to get rid of him, but he kept worming his way back into the story.  Obviously, some part of my mind believes it is time to tell his story.

This left me with a bit of a problem.  As soon as I sent Flawless Dreams to K. Smith Proofs, his story began to form in my mind.  I wanted a break.  I spent so much time last year struggling to write and battling my own personal demons, that I didn’t want to deal with my characters’ demons.

But he refused to be ignored and by the end of the night, I was typing up the first chapter of a book I had not intended to release this year.

I spent the weekend out of town with friends and family.  Lola the Destroyer got to go and she had a great time.  But even though I was out of town, without my laptop, and without work on my mind, when I closed my eyes, he was there.

This is the part that makes most writers think they might be crazy.  How do you explain to someone, anyone, that you can’t control a character?  It’s a figment of our imagination.  It isn’t like it’s a real person with needs, wants, desires, and fears.  We should be in control, but sometimes, we just aren’t.  Even when I’m not pounding out words on my keyboard, they continue to exist in my mind.  Sometimes, they appear in my dreams, like the mystery man of Flawless has.  Sometimes, they just take over a thought and we get lost in our own imagination.

Anyway, the next book will not be Ritual Dreams as I had intended.  The mystery man demanded my attention and he got it.  This means that Demonic Dreams will release after Flawless Dreams.  I would apologize for this, but I think my readers will enjoy Demonic Dreams.  It will answer some questions they have about some key issues that haunt the D&R characters.

And I’m going to try to release it as fast as I can.  I know that after readers finish Flawless Dreams they will instantly want Demonic Dreams.  I’m already several chapters into it and the mystery man will have his story told.


Hello Insomnia, My Old Friend

I have struggled with insomnia most of my life.  Usually, it’s the result of a migraine, but not always and not last night.  I did have a headache, I always get a headache after I finishing writing a novel… They drain me, physically and emotionally and the headache is just a reminder that I can’t live on potato chips, cigarettes, soda, and the written word.

At midnight, I took my meds like I always do.  Sleepiness is a side effect of clonazepam, so it normally helps me sleep.  By 2 am, I realized I still wasn’t tired, which was strange because from Sunday to Tuesday morning, I hadn’t really slept much and I didn’t take a nap Tuesday afternoon or evening.

Maybe I should back up a bit and explain my Sunday through Tuesday.  Sunday afternoon, I sat down to write and watched my cursor blink for about ten minutes without putting a single word down.  I do occasionally get stuck on books and it’s because whatever I want to happen, isn’t happening and I don’t know how to force it to happen.

At the time, I had twenty chapters of Flawless Dreams written.  I deleted the majority of them and started over and when I started over it began to flow like manna from Heaven.  I worked until the wee hours of Monday morning, crawled into bed, got a few hours of sleep, got up, helped with the great nephew all day, and as soon as he and the husband were both gone, I began to work again… after watching Lucifer because it’s just appealing to me.

I added another 12 chapters on Monday night and called it quits around 4 am.  I proceeded to sleep badly because I was literally one chapter away from being done.  When my alarm went off at 9 am, I jumped up and since I had a Great Nephew free day, I wrote that one chapter and had it to editor by 11:30 am.

When I looked, I had written 41,000 words in approximately 48 hours.  Not a bad average at all considering all the stuff I did between writing.  I patted myself on the back, took a headache pill, and couldn’t fall asleep for a nap.  So, I waited, the headache got a little worse, it still wasn’t a migraine, and tried again.  I was just starting to fall asleep when some jackass decided to weed eat around the flower beds under my window.  I gave up on the nap and decided I’d just go to bed early (for me, that would be like 1 am).

Around 10 pm, I realized that my brain wasn’t done with it’s writing marathon and I added a few chapters to the next Dreams book.  At 1 am, I called it quits with the writing, and read a chapter on a book, then played on Facebook until 2…

But at 2, I wasn’t tired.  I wasn’t even a little drowsy.  Which is when I decided to write this blog post.

I try very hard to keep a sleep routine.  It helps with migraines.  It helps with creativity.  It helps me sleep.  And the simple fact of the matter is the two days I ditched my routine, screwed up my sleep schedule.  So, instead of sleeping at 2:30, I’m writing a blog post for the morning about how I need to get back into my regular sleep routine.

That is so much easier said than done for me though.  I don’t control my creativity.  I’ve never been able to control it.  It happens when it happens.  I can do things to help it along, but sometimes those things work and sometimes they don’t.

It doesn’t help that I am more suited to be awake after dark.  I don’t know why.  It hasn’t always been like this.  I used to one of those early to bed, early to rise types.  Now, I’m not… I sleep better during the day.  When I was using my CPAP machine to record my sleep, I was noticing the same thing my FitBit was telling me; after 6 am, I fell into a deep sleep and it was interrupted by my alarm clock.  Most of the time I think I would be most productive if I could sleep from 5 am to 11:30 or 12, with a nap around 5 pm.

And naps are important.  Believe it or not, I actually sleep better at night if I have had a nap during the day.  That seems counter-intuitive to me, but years of logging everything from what I ate to when I feel asleep and how long I stayed asleep has provided the proof that taking a nap in the afternoon makes me sleep better when I do go to bed.

However, even as a writer, I find it impossible to keep those hours.  Not because of me so much, but because of those around me.  My mother needs my help with the Great Nephew and Lola the Destroyer.  My husband gets annoyed when I don’t come to bed at an acceptable time.  For that matter, Lola the Destroyer gets annoyed when I don’t go to bed at an acceptable time.  Around 3 am, if I am still awake, she starts snapping at me and shoving me off the couch… One wouldn’t think a 60 pound dog was big enough to do this, but she is.

Sleep will return to me, probably later this week.  The good news is, Demonic Dreams has been started and it hit the ground the running.  I have the entire story in my head already.  I’m sure there will be times when it doesn’t play nicely, but for the most part, I foresee good things coming from it.

It’s getting close to 3 and Lola is beginning to glare at me.  I will sign off for the night and try to get some sleep.

Flawless Dreams

Dear Readers,

Flawless Dreams is with the editor.  Yay!  Here are my thoughts on it though whilst we wait:

First, I know the chapter Bones doesn’t sound like me for about 1200 words.  That’s because it isn’t me, it’s author C. Patt who was kind enough to write the necessary romance scene, so that I could deal with the blood and gore.  Writing romance sucks my will to live and I am very thankful that she agreed to provide the necessary setup for my favorite part; the killing.  And I feel guilty leaving her off the cover, but I gave her a nice little acknowledgment and did put her name in small print on the title page.  I hope that her and I will collaborate on some other pieces in the future… with both our names on the cover.  She is quickly becoming my favorite author to work with.

Second, I almost apologize for writing the chapter Hell.

Third, this book seemed to be swear worthy compared to other books.  I’m not sure why, but there are several words that come out of Ace’s mouth that don’t normally.  I’m thinking it’s Malachi’s fault.

Fourth, wendigo… no more is necessary there.

Fifth, I cried twice while writing this book.  There are a few moments that tug at the heart strings.

Sixth, I have already started the next book.  I understand what I did with the last few chapters and I know it is going to make everyone crazy.  It made me crazy to do it.  Please no hate mail.

Finally, I hope the entire book meets your standards.



PS:  Betas should expect it next week.

Where Has Hadena Gone?

I survived my book talk on Tuesday.  There were a few moments of doubt on my part, as I slugged down several extra strength Tylenol so I could sit comfortably.  Aside from that two hours, I’ve pretty much been doing as little as possible.

First, let me explain the process, because most people are thinking they are like shots.  They really aren’t.  They mark the spots with pen where they are going to insert the needles.  Then they insert all the needles… all of them.  This time it was 18.  The doctor then moves from needle to needle with the medicine.  The syringe is screwed onto the needle, the medicine injected, the syringe unscrewed, and onto the next.  This is followed by a repeat of that same procedure on all the needles.  For 45 minutes, I laid on my stomach over an X-Ray machine that helped them guide the needles in and avoid bone, as they moved to each needle, injected, and etc.

Monday, I got injections for the leg pain that I suffer due to nerve irritation going through my SI joints.  The injections do help.  This time though, they made me sick.  Monday I ran a fever, was nauseated, slept most of the day, and hurt like you would not believe.

They hit my sciatic nerve on both sides this time.  That was interesting.  When the needle was inserted, my leg drew up all on its own and I couldn’t do anything about it.  So the injection went into a tensed leg on each side and felt like molten lava.

Those sites are still bothering me even today.  Tylenol is helping, but not much.  I can’t take NSAIDS, which sucks, because I think ibuprofen or ketorolac would help a lot more…

As bad as the sciatic injections were though, there was one worse.  There is a large nerve that runs through the pelvis from front to back.  To get to it, they stuck a needle in the crack of my ass. Holy shit.  It was unexpected and it hurt like hell.  No molten lava sensations, which was nice, but it feels like they tore everything down there.

It did teach me a few things:

  • My doctor has a sense of humor and I did tell him I was going to kill him in a book, which he was fine with.  It’s nice to have a doctor with a sense of humor.  I try very hard to be stoic when having any sort of procedure done and that means cracking jokes.  Having a doctor that jokes back is really nice.  I did yelp though when they did the three big ones.  However, I still got a pat on the back by the nurses and the doctor who said most people cry or scream during the procedures, so my tiny yelps were easy to deal with.
  • Injecting into large nerves hurts more than joints and smaller nerves.  And the recovery time seems to be longer.  I’m still having trouble getting comfortable when I sleep and standing/sitting is awful.  Bending and lifting is pretty bad.  I keep walking and doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but the healing is not going nearly as fast as the first time and it’s only those three injection sites that are still bothering me.
  • Whatever the hell is wrong with me responds to large doses of gabapentin.  I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I wake up and I just feel broken in half or the simple act of getting out of bed makes everything hurt. Literally, getting out of bed can be painful in my arms, back, feet, ears, it’s weird to have that happen.  However, after getting the injections, I stopped taking the gabapentin and found those familiar aches and pains coming back.  So today, I took a few that I had and found that tonight, I’m not having the pain I normally have that I just attribute to getting older.  I’m beginning to believe my doctor might be correct and a rheumatologist is in order.  This was further confirmed by X-Rays of my hands recently that showed no arthritis in them and yet, they feel and act like I have arthritis.  I also have issues with my body interpreting being cold as being in pain.  The gabapentin seems to have helped that.  My inflammation levels fluctuate a bit, sometimes they get high, but usually they are just above the normal range… So I don’t have a clue what’s going on and the gabapentin helping those pains is strange.
  • The only time Tramadol actually relieves my pain is when I mix it with gabapentin.  I don’t know exactly what the interaction between those two drugs are, but together, I can be completely pain free for a few hours.  The gabapentin also seems to reverse the side effects of the Tramadol.  Since it is a mild narcotic that also works by adjusting serotonin levels, I have some problems taking it (mainly I lose the ability to sleep when my serotonin levels are messed with – this is why my anxiety is treated with benzodiazepines and not antidepressants).  Taking the two together, makes me pain free and sleepy, which is something I desperately need right now.  Before the injections, I wasn’t sleeping because of the pain in my legs.  Now the pain in my legs is calm enough for me to sleep, but the injection sites are keeping me awake.
  • I am still in the accepting phase.  The injections are here for the long haul.  I’m going to continue to need them for a long time.  My other option is cutting nerves and that doesn’t sound fun to me.  I’m hopeful that in the future, I will learn to deal with them.  I have some pretty strong determination in that department.  However, when they wear off and the pain comes back, I also find myself depressed and wondering how long I can take it.  I knew I was going to have arthritis pain in my hips and the pseudo-arthritic condition in my hands.  I did not expect the chronic pain that I now have in my legs or the rest of my body.  I am looking forward to being able to take Lola the Destroyer back to the park for walks again.  I miss those.  It’s bonding time for us and she enjoys it and as long as the injections are working, it doesn’t cause me more pain.  It actually lifts my mood tremendously.
  • Finally, this means I haven’t been working as much as I’d like.  I need about 10 chapters on Flawless Dreams and this week has mostly been a bust in the writing department.  I’m hoping by Friday the injection sites are no longer bothering me and I can actually sit down long enough to write and stay focused.

Ok, so that’s me this week.  I just have to remind myself that it gets better… the leg pain is minimal and the injection sites will heal soon.

Recovery & Tumblers

I’m recovering from the injections in my back.  Pretty sure they injected molten lava into a few spots.  I did threaten to kill the doctor in a book, thankfully, he has a sense of humor.  These were the worst to date.  And even 24 hours later, I’m still feeling every bit of it.

So, until I feel like actually writing anything more than my name, I have a few things to show off…

For the record, those are not my hands…

There’s one more coming (not to mention some generic designs she made for me because I’m addicted to these tumblers) and I’m pretty sure she’s working on getting the first two ready for sale.

Just the Kissy Bits – The Other Side of The Story

Flawless Dreams had been going pretty well for a couple of months.  Slower than I would have liked and I knew it, but I was willing to go slow because I was avoiding writing a chapter.  Then it just suddenly stopped.  Nobody moved forward.  Not even Aislinn who usually charges ahead regardless of what I have planned with the plot and trust me, she’d already taken a few weird twists and turns with my original idea.

The problem was the killer.  He’s charming, similar to Malachi, meaning he can get the girls with his all-American good looks, farm boy appearance, and psychopathic sweet talk.  I had been working on the problem, usually a word or two at a time for the duration of my entire time writing the damn book.

I have written sex scenes before, some of them very steamy.  I have written some romance, very sacchariny sweet.  I went back and read those pieces often and came up with a single line.  At that moment, I was pretty sure Flawless Dreams was doomed.  I even considered plagiarizing one of my unpublished books for the bits I needed.  But it was real romance and I needed something not quite real, but looked real from the outside.  What’s a writer to do?

I could shelve it or I could call in reinforcements.  But who?  I know lots of authors, I know lots of romance authors.  However, it had to be someone that I trusted and thought I could work with.  Someone who would understand my writing and not be upset if I made some changes to make it flow better with my style.  And someone that would understand that my character was romancing a girl so he could have her lovely lovely bones.

That really only left one person…

I’ve read C. Patt’s book and I liked it.  Kind of surprising since I have issues with most books that involve historical settings.  Her willingness to listen to my suggestions on the history bits, made me fairly sure that she would be able to handle it if I made changes to her contribution to Flawless Dreams.  Plus, we had done some “work together” on her book to make it more historically manageable for me and readers as a whole.  The icing on the cake, she’s read the D&R books and understands that I can do blood, gore, death, destruction, etc, but I’m not so fond of quivering lips or sweet nothings.

I expected her to turn me down.  The turnaround time was short (and I knew it).  It was just part of a chapter, not a whole meaty storyline for her to run with.  And I didn’t require seminal fluids and I know she is amazing at getting a reader to that part.  By comparison to some of the stuff I’ve read of hers, this was boring and mundane.

Meaning when she emailed me back that of course she would write it, I was shocked. I’m glad she agreed because I didn’t have a backup plan in place.  I wasn’t sure there were a lot of authors that would do it, after all, the scene was meant so that I could kill a girl.  Not exactly what most romance writers want on their CV.

Then came the questions, to which I wanted to answer “Uh” on every one of them.  The truth is, I didn’t know the crap she needed for her part except the physical description and the setting.  Her thoughts had never once crossed my mind.  I really just wanted to get to the stabby bits.  I just needed to get a girl mostly naked so it was easier to stab her.  I hadn’t realized there would be other stuff required.

I have also read some of her unpublished work and let me tell you, what I wanted was really dull compared to what she can do.  Need a gallon of bodily fluids that doesn’t come out of stab wounds?  C. Patt can do it.  So her agreeing to do it made me a little giddy.

My giddiness was abruptly halted when she sent me a message asking me to call her.  She wanted to talk, on the phone, like we knew each other?  Uh, well, yes, hmmm, I’ma  spazz in real life.  I don’t do well with people I don’t know.  I’m very shy and I tend to ramble.  Sure, we’re Facebook buddies and we message each other and we read each other’s books, but that’s not a phone call.  Before I could spazz out, I hit dial.

She had lots of questions and I had vague answers.  I’m surprised she didn’t hang up on me then post on Facebook that I was impossible to work with and didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  FYI: that would have been accurate.  Somehow she managed to pull the details from me that she needed.

However, I was most shocked when a few hours later, I got a message telling me it was done!  We had just arrived at the campground.  Lola was busy playing with a Frisbee. I was throwing said Frisbee.  The husband was making a fire in the pit and debating dinner plans.  Now, we have a campground rule; until he goes to bed, I can’t actually work; post on Facebook, post on Twitter, send emails, read books, write books, etc.  I can reply to messages and texts though as long as it doesn’t become obtrusive.  There is a good reason for this; if I’m working and get interrupted, I become Satan-cranky.  When I’m working, I want to work and everything else be damned.  I would be cranky with Mother Nature if a storm stopped me from being able to work once I started.

So, I had to delay reading it.  But I really wanted to… Especially since the email I used came to my phone.  I kept trying to think of ways to slyly open it up and read it.  Of course, I knew I’d get caught and that would lead to a fight and I hadn’t had dinner yet and fighting before dinner often means no dinner, because then we can’t even agree on dinner (this is a chore unto itself).

I did get to read it after the husband went to bed.  And I liked it.  Yes, there were a few things I disliked, but overall, it worked and my brain instantly started composing.  Only, I didn’t have my laptop with me.  I did have a notebook and jotted ideas down in it.  When I got home, I was exhausted, too exhausted to finish the chapter.  It took a couple of days to recover and get it done, but with it done, the story began to flow like good Scotch from a crystal decanter (lead free of course, no reason to ruin Scotch by infusing it with lead).

Now, it’s almost done.  My time has been limited because of Jude being here every day – he leaves me exhausted and not wanting to write, even though the story is in my head.  It’s like working two full-time jobs at the moment.  But it is almost done.  About ten more chapters on that bad boy and I can send it to the editor.

All because I had C. Patt write the kissy bits so that I could write the stabby bits…


Plagiarism Happens

“Plagiarism is an academic crime.  It is punishable by academic death.” – Man of the House – Tommy Lee Jones

In school, we all know what happens if we get caught plagiarizing.  It truly is an academic crime, punishable by academic death.  Or it was when I went to school, I don’t know how it works these days… I’m guessing since they now have programs to check for plagiarism, it hasn’t gotten better and the penalties are still steep.

That’s all well and good, but what happens when an author plagiarizes another author?  We all sorta know about the Janet Dailey/Nora Roberts case.  Janet Dailey, a successful romance writer was sued by Roberts because she plagiarized several of Roberts’ novels and claimed them as her own.  Roberts won.  It was a huge scandal.  Eventually, Dailey was able to reclaim some of her reputation before she died.

For the vast majority of authors out there, self publishing/independent publishing has been a huge thing.  We are no longer bound into contracts we don’t like the terms of.  We can make as much money as a traditionally published author.  We are able to publish as fast as our brains and fingers will allow.  It’s been amazing.

However, there are always unscrupulous people out there.  These people are plagiarizers.  They steal our words and sell them as their own.  It happens to traditionals, it happens to indies.  They are simply trying to cash in on what they see as a get rich quick scheme.

The problem is, authors can’t read every book ever published in an attempt to check this stuff.  We have to rely on algorithms and readers to find it.  Once it’s found, we authors then have to appeal to the better nature of ebook retailers to get the offending book removed.  For the most part, retailers are willing to do it, but we have to prove the plagiarism to them.

And the bastards that did it?  They don’t care… Truth be told, they are screwing over the author and the reader.  The reader gets to pay for a book twice (that they’ve already read) and the author loses sales that should have gone to them.  That account gets banned and they just set up a new one with new information and start all over again.

As readers, we have to be aware of this problem.  We are the frontline of defense.  We are the ones who will say “Hey, wait a second, this book sounds awfully familiar to this other book.”  Then we will investigate and maybe tell the author, if the author is approachable or the retailer, whatever.  The trick to finding the real author, is the publication date.  You can’t plagiarize a book that hasn’t been published yet, unless you’re an editor or beta reader and that’s a whole new level of wrong…

C Patt

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