Racing the Clock

I felt like I was racing the clock last week.  I already know that people with CRPS don’t heal as fast from surgery as people without it.  So, unlike my husband who was really sore for 3 or 4 days from gallbladder removal, I suspect it will be closer to 5 or 6.

On top of this, I’m in the middle of prepping a book for release.  Since I suspect I will lose a handful of work days after my surgery, it is even more important to get it done as fast as humanly possible.

Someone in one of my support groups told me to use a pillow, placing it lengthwise over my entire abdomen during the time I am sitting up and hug it to me.  Someone else told me to wear form fitting shirts.  They said these things would help with the pain and healing time.  Yet another sufferer told me to expect two weeks to get to the same healing stage my husband was at after just 5 days.

Multiple things are happening next week that are unavoidable.  My league has a tournament that weekend at my in-laws campground at Mark Twain Lake, where our camper sits and I am expecting to have to run it.  It’s the 21st & 22nd.  I’m dreading it.

And I have to have the finalized version of Natural Born Exorcist uploaded to Amazon on the 25th.  However, I was not going to put off this surgery, not even for a day.  I have been awake until 3 am the last several days because food makes me sick.

But it has created an atmosphere of anxiety for me, as I race the clock to get as much done before the surgery as I can.  And the middle of the night misery, has made me lose precious working hours during both the day and night.  One night, I worked until 10 pm, then I spent several hours sick and finally crawled into bed at 3:30 am.  That meant I didn’t get up until nearly noon the following day.

I’ll manage, I always do, but it will be a bit of a struggle.

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Changing Things Up

I am considering using DropBox to work with Beta Readers.  Each would have access to their folder where they could download the book and insert the edits into the document then save it back with their changes.

Mostly, it would save me time and some confusion. I find Gmail occasionally sends emails with Word attachments directly into my spam folder or trash.  I know a few beta readers have complained about this too.  I’m a big fan of streamlining things and making them easier.

However, I know not everyone has internet at their house due to rural internet restrictions.

Thoughts?

 

Nephilim Zwei

I have been attempting to work on edits and rewrites for parts of Natural Born Exorcist.  One of my test readers pointed out I turned a couple of chapters into a lecture on the metaphysical that governs the book.

One of my greatest failings as an author is the trouble I have finding my own areas that require revision.  Unfortunately, that test reader is finishing up a second master’s degree at this time and classes just started back, so she won’t be able to go through and mark the places that need work.

As I try to find the areas to rewrite and remove the metaphysical lecture the next book idea sprang into being.  Good grief.  That’s a problem.  I can’t write and revise at the same time.  Not really.

Besides, I have my goddess private investigator story in the works.  Sometimes, I find my brain overwhelming.  It’s surreal when it happens.  Surely my brain should be able to work out that it is overloading itself, right?  Nope.  Doesn’t seem to see the trees for the forest.

It’s difficult to find a test reader to begin with, one that doesn’t mind pointing out your flaws.  The very idea scares most people.  It starts with thoughts like “well, am I going to hurt their feelings?”  The answer to that is no.  Not because I don’t have feelings, but because I find revision satisfying.  If I disagree with my alpha reader’s opinion, I just ignore the suggestion.

However, those situations don’t crop up very often.  Not with this particular alpha reader anyway.  Perhaps I value her opinion enough that I just automatically figure she’s correct in her assessments.  Who knows.

So the second Nephilim book is officially in progress which doesn’t actually help me.  And I still need to get the first one sorted out… Life.  *sigh*

A Terrible Thing Happened Monday Night

Monday night, well 2 terrible things happened, but neither fully registered until morning.  I love Aislinn Cain and Nadine Daniels, but I feel trapped by both series most of the time.  Which is why the last several have all been difficult to write.

Anyway, as I lay in bed Monday night, trying to sleep but not able to because a book was floating around in my head that was not Ace or Nadine, I had this thought “I could kill Ace in Ritual Dreams.”

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I was in a ton of pain, because I am a forgetful moron sometimes.  I got up, walked around, and realized that my pajama pants felt heavy on the right side.  Reach my hand into the pocket that I never put anything into and pulled out two Triple A batteries that I had shoved in my pocket because I have this horrible fear of Kelly eating a battery and we were trying to watch a TV show that I had already paused because it turns out, I’m living on plain popcorn and had interrupted the show to make some.

After sitting in my gamer’s chair for a while, thinking about the batteries and how ridiculous that had been, I revisited the thought from the wee hours of the morning… When was the last time my excitement over a D&R novel kept me awake?  Well, that’s easy Fortified Dreams.  And Nadine?  Dysfunctional Proposal.

I realize every series writer goes through a time period where their books no longer inspire them with joy.  Some work through it, some don’t.  I decided to work through it.

And this means some changes to how I write and publish every year and not murdering either Nadine or Aislinn.  So in 2019 I will publish only 1 D&R novel.  And only 1 Dysfunctional Chronicle.  I’m going to try to make it so that they release the same month every year.  For example April 1 2019 and 2020 for Dysfunctional Chronicles.

Because I have had ideas floating around for a long time that are not yet books simply because I struggle to get the next Aislinn or Nadine book written.  I have ideas for books about ghosts and books about zombies and books about a goddess in the 21st century trying to make it as a normal person.  And books about serial killers that don’t fit into D&R.  And books about other crime stuff that also doesn’t fit into D&R or Dysfunctional.  And surprisingly a few historical fiction pieces.  Alternative history pieces.  Some paranormal like Natural Born Exorcist and some more in the here and now with people that can’t shoot fireballs from their hands at the behinds of ghouls.

And I’m sort of tired of ignoring these ideas because they don’t fit into my schedule when they would probably flow like Natural Born Exorcist did.  This means that while I’m reducing the amount of D&R and Dysfunctional I would publish every year to just one each, I would still be producing stuff and publishing and you never know, my Cain readers and Nadine lovers may still fall in love with some of the other stuff I’m putting out during the year.

Monday, after finishing Natural Born Exorcist on Sunday, I sat down at 4 pm and put 2,500 words on a book that will probably end up being titled Goddess Investigations or something similar in just an hour.  I stopped when J got home at 5.  And before 4, I had put around 100 words on Ritual Dreams for the entire day. I thought it might be because I was waiting to get the print copy of Natural Born Exorcist from Staples, but obviously that wasn’t the case…

I am constantly starting and stopping and then restarting Cain novels.  They don’t just flow into my brain like they used to.  And I think limiting them to one a year will help.  Hell, part of the problem with The Dysfunctional Mob was that it was just so dark, as dark as an Aislinn Cain novel.. which was a problem.  I think I need to shake that up more often.  Some of things that I liked about Natural Born Exorcist was that I was free to have Soleil talk to the reader, directly, like make comments to them about what was going on and how she felt about it.  There were no expectations of her because there wasn’t a book before it to set the tone for this one.  I was free to write it and her however I wanted.  And it just came like a flash flood, washing over me and sweeping me away into the story that had no expectations and no character traits that were set in stone.

So, more Ace and Nadine in the future, but expect other stuff too.  Maybe lots of other stuff depending on how well the writing goes…

And more Soleil.  I don’t know if I will write the next Nephilim Narrative this year or wait until next year.  I’ll have to see how it goes with Ritual Dreams.  Which I am still hoping to put out in 2018, but have no release date for.

I did start pre-orders on Natural Born Exorcist ($3.99 US, CA, & AU).  I’ll have the links for it tomorrow or the next day.

Jacket Copy Natural Born Exorcist

Book Description is done for Natural Born Exorcist.  Maybe I’ll setup pre-orders to release the first week of October… Halloween, exorcisms, it all works…

Soleil Burns works for the Bureau of Exorcism. Paired up with a US Marshals Fugitive Recovery Team they will try to bring back an escaped convict possessed by a demon and hiding in the slums of Chicago.

It immediately becomes apparent that there is more going on than a simple case of a possessed escaped convict. The entire Division of Magic in Chicago has also been possessed. It’s a feat that could only have been accomplished by a very powerful witch or wizard.

As Soleil digs deeper into the mass possession of a critical part of the police department, she will need all her skills as an exorcist and an investigator. It will also require an open heart and some sage advice from friends and family, to help her face down some of the most powerful beings she has ever dealt with. Both human and demonic.

Natural Born Exorcist

I got Natural Born Exorcist sent to staples Copy & Print this morning (because I was sick last night and went to bed at 7:30… my body decided I was done sleeping at 4:30 this morning).  So I didn’t get it sent last night.

I use Staples when I need to have a print copy to make changes to.  Let me issue a few warnings: 1 – there’s kissing in Natural Born Exorcist, not a lot, but more than a normal Hadena James book.  2 – And my main character Soleil is a nephilim (half angel, half human) who swears quite a lot.

This is the cover I went with (despite buying a pre-made cover (because this one was freaking perfect!!), Angela with Covered Creatively gave me options.  So there was more than one draft cover.  And I originally picked the other one and then was told I was wrong, go mom.  So this is the cover I picked.  Angela will need to finalize it (send me an assortment of sizes and whatnot), but… Here’s the cover.  (If you are a writer in need of amazing covers I highly recommend Covered Creatively!  I buy her custom covers and sometimes her pre-made covers because sometimes those are absolutely perfect).

Natural Born Exorcist SAMPLE 2.jpg

Gallbladder Removed…

J continues to recover from gallbladder surgery and he’s doing pretty well.  Sore, but that is to be expected.  However, he has been going to bed early, which means I have had extra time to write each day and I have been using it, even though I have also been going to bed fairly early for me.

So, I have a title for the new book Natural Born Exorcist.  And I have a book cover in progress! (yay!)  My editor is booked solid for a few weeks, so even if I finish it today (which is possible since I am averaging more than 7,0000 words a day on it, it will still be a little while before it gets published.

It is a paranormal mystery with just a hint of romance.  Seriously…not much.  There’s no long lingering kisses.  No tearing each other’s clothes off.  And it’s past the 50,000 word mark.  I wrote this on Friday, so by the time it runs, I may be closer to the 70,000 word mark at 7,000 words a day.

And some of my trademark gore and violence also managed to make it into it, as did more swearing.  I like Soleil, she just doesn’t care, but she doesn’t care in the “I’ve got my shit together” way not the “I have no emotions” way.

Hard to believe, but my roots are in paranormal mystery.  The first novel I ever wrote was a paranormal mystery.  And I’ve enjoyed writing in the genre again.  It’s been fun.

Variety

I know many of you are sad that I am not putting 8,000 words a day on Ritual Dreams.  I get it, you love Aislinn Cain.  I love her too, which is why I stopped working on Ritual for a short while and started something new…

I don’t just read one genre of book, I read many, about the only ones I don’t latch onto are romance novels and space operas, because yeah, space operas.  And part of the reason I work on multiple series is because I like variety.  If every day is writing D&R, it fatigues me.  Ditto on Dysfunctional Chronicles.

I still love both series, but sometimes I need variety when I write, just like I need it when I read.  What I’m working on is a true mystery, with clues and riddles and puzzles and possibly less gore or more since some of the characters are immortal…

And sadly, since publishing Fortified Dreams, every time I start on D&R it feels like work to put words on the page.  This book does not.  It reminds me that I love to write and that it’s fun.

I’m not done with Ace or Nadine, but I have to write this book.  As my readers, it is up to you if you want to read it or not.  Hopefully, you will, and you’ll enjoy it, but it is paranormal mystery at the moment, which is a shade different than what I have been writing with D&R and Dysfunctional.

I’ll come back to Ritual at a future date, I promise.  Until then, bear with me and prepare yourself for something completely different…

A Preview

This is the first chapter of my newest book.  The one I put 16,000 words on in 2 days.

It doesn’t have a title yet and this chapter hasn’t been edited.  Enjoy… Hopefully.  Note this work in progress is copyrighted Hadena James 2018

“Miss Burn?” A uniformed officer said to me. I didn’t meet his eyes. I was busy watching someone destroy the food court of the shopping center we were all standing in. Or rather, it used to be someone, was my thought as he picked up a table that was bolted to the floor and hurled it and the chunk of concrete at it’s base into an Arby’s. It took out the cash register and slammed into their shake machine before clattering noisily to the floor.
The police were ready to shoot him, not that it was going to do much good. He was already missing part of the flesh from his face. I’d been told he’d died in a car accident five days earlier and that part of his face had been peeled off by a steel I-beam when he compacted his SUV against the tail end of a flatbed tractor trailer.
Zombies were strong and fierce and didn’t feel physical pain. I’d dealt with them before, However, zombies are still people. Their soul is reintroduced to their dead body using magic and after a short orientation period, they tend to be rather gentle. Unfortunately, this guy wasn’t a traditional zombie. The spirit that inhabited him, wasn’t his, it wasn’t even human.
Which meant there were two problems facing the police at this moment, first the zombie in the food court, and second, a black magic practitioner had pulled a demon through the gate way, and put it into this poor guy’s dead body.
I was supposed to weaken the demon enough that it could be exorcised and sent back through the gate way. The local police had their own exorcist, a lovely woman who was a witch and had some psychic power.   Demons gain power from fear. The more chaos they create, the stronger they get. I was of angelic stock and my very presence was calming and gave everyone a warm fuzzy feeling. Without fear feeding the demon, he’d eventually run out of steam and the demonic zombie would slump to the ground, unable to throw any more tables or chase after anyone.
I was also the back-up for the witch, if she failed to send the demon back to The Stygian Plane, then I would do it. I often get asked why I don’t do it in the first place, I was stronger than the witch, especially when it came to the demonic and exorcisms, but I didn’t really have an answer. I guessed it had something to do with the police department paying the witch large sums of money to deal with things like this.
As long as I didn’t do the exorcism myself, they wouldn’t have to pay large sums of money to both of us. Well, I worked for the federal government, so my fee would go to them, and I would get paid only a small portion of it. Most police departments employed a witch or three, or had one as a consultant they could call as need be.
Which is why I worked for the federal government instead of a local law enforcement unit, I wasn’t a witch and there was rarely a need for a nephilim to be present at a police station. Watching the demonic zombie throw another table into another food vendor, I understood why my sister worked in customer service. Even with me here, the happy happy joy joy feelings weren’t strong enough and the demonic zombie wasn’t weakening. I touched the officer closest to me and watched a relaxed look pass over his face. Slowly, I went down the line touching all of them.
It was incredibly difficult to stay afraid after literally being touched by an angel. Or half angel in my case. Feeling his power start to slip, the demonic zombie rushed towards us. Gunshots began to ring out. The zombie’s head jerked to and fro as the bullets hit it. Usually shooting a zombie in the head, releases the spirit trapped inside the body. But I had never met a zombie animated by a demon.
Demons lived in another existence, a realm that was hard to exit to enter the world of humans. It was called The Stygian Plane, a dark place full of demons and other monsters. This zombie did not go down, regardless of the fact that he was missing a lot of his head. The body was still up and moving around. He was still trying to initiate fear in the police that stood around him. If he could get enough power, he could heal the dead body and make it serviceable to him again.
I had been in the mall when this all started. I was shopping for a dress to wear to my sister and her husband’s vow renewal ceremony, which was a ridiculous farce in my opinion that I didn’t want to attend, but our mom and dad would not be happy with me if I missed it.
The older cops all stood their ground, against the angry demonic zombie. A few of the younger cops though, their hands were starting to shake again. I considered calling my father and having him come down and help me keep everyone calm. He would have done it in a heart beat, but afterwards, he’d probably lecture me about practicing with my power more, and lecturing me on how if I had just tried, I could have done it without him. He was big on being independent and part of that was practicing my gifts, which I didn’t do. Police officers were usually steady as a rock and able to bite back their fears easily with me around.
So I didn’t call him, instead, I walked back over to the officer I saw whose hands were still shaking a little. I put my hand on his shoulder and leaned in to whisper to him. I reassured him that this was probably the worst magic he’d ever see and that if he could control his fear today, in this very moment, he would have a long and successful career.
His hands stopped shaking and the witch began to do her thing. A spell left her lips and I felt magic begin to gather. The zombie fell into a kneeling position, the demon’s magic not strong enough to continue to keep the dead muscles taut. The magic got stronger and I could see the wisps of it building in the witch’s energy. When she let it go, it swirled around the zombie, entered it, trying to separate the body from the spirit that inhabited it. There was a struggle that I doubted most of the cops could see, her magic flaring here and there as it clashed with the demon’s.
Then the zombie stood back up and the energy around demon swelled to three times what it had been. Shit. I suddenly realized that she had never gone up against a demon and she had just lost, probably due to her fear and a mistake that I hadn’t realized she had made.
“Get the demon’s name!” I shouted to her. The brand on my arm was brightly lit, shining bright enough that it could be seen even through the sleeve of the shirt I had on. Somehow I had missed that she hadn’t gotten his name, probably because I had spent thirty minutes trying to get everyone calm enough that the demon could be exorcized by a simple spell.
Demons were maddeningly strong, sometimes even powerful witches couldn’t exorcize them, it was worse if there was a source of fear near by, because it was constantly refueling the magic, for every bit he expended there was more to replace it, when terrified beings were near.
Instead of asking the demon for it’s name, she dropped to one knee and drew a piece of chalk from her pocket. A few heart beats later, she had a circle drawn around her, a circle she imagined the demon couldn’t cross, because most magic couldn’t. I didn’t tell her any different.
She faced the demon and demanded his name, her voice small and squeaky. That’s when I realized that she was too afraid to perform the magic needed to exorcize this demon. However, we needed more exorcists in the world and I didn’t want to undermine her confidence. I debated with myself how long it would take for her to compose herself enough to do the deed and was I willing to stand there and wait.
I didn’t have much patience, not really. And dealing with demons made me cranky in general. I didn’t tell people that the brand hurt when it was emitting light, it burned like hell fire, probably because that’s what had made it. The archangel Uriel had givenit to me after I had passed his course in exorcizing the demonic. It marked me as a certified exorcist. And while I technically worked for the government, as one of only twenty certified exorcists in the world, I was allowed to freelance as well.
Everyone that worked with police departments were supposed to take courses with Uriel. Most would not become certified exorcists, but he taught witches, vampires, werewolves, mortals, and even Nephilim how to deal with the demonic, even if they weren’t certified exorcistts by the end of it.
“Use a forceful voice and demand his name,” I whispered to her. She tried again and was only slightly less squeaky than she had been. “He can’t come near you as long as I am here.” This wasn’t exactly true. He could, but he wouldn’t. Demons didn’t like being forced to feel happy. Uriel believed it actually hurt them. Her voice was barely louder than a whisper as she demanded his name. He laughed at her. I shrugged.
“Watch me,” I told her. “Demon, I command you to tell me your name!” I shouted at the thing animating the zombie.
“Go to Hell, Angel, you have no command over me.”
“Demon, if you do not volunteer your name, I will take it by force,” I told him. All demons had their names imprinted on them. If I walked over and touched him, he wouldn’t have to say a word, and I’d still know his name.
“Azazel,” he croaked as I took a step towards him. I looked at the witch, she was trying to gather her magic back together. When this was over, I was going to give her Uriel’s card and remind her to take his courses in demonology. There were ways witches could force the name from demons too, I just didn’t know how they did it, because I wasn’t a witch.
As the wtich began her exorcism spell again, my cell phone rang. It was my boss. I sent it to voicemail with a text that read “dealing with demon, let me call you back.” It was one of the standard responses I had programed into the phone, since it seemed everyone on the planet felt the need to call when I was dealing with demons. Or perhaps, I dealt with demons too often. I wasn’t sure which.
A swirling red oblong doorway appeared in front of the demonic zombie. The body shuddered and then fell completely, the energy that moved around it disappearing. And with a small popping noise, the demon was gone, returned to the Stygian.
Several of the cops thanked me as they started to take pictures of the damage. I turned to the witch. She was cute, but young, probably not old enough to drink alcohol legally in a bar yet.
I dug out Uriel’s card and handed it to her. She flipped it over in her hands and stared at it. It had Uriel’s cell number as well as the number of his school and the address of it.
“You need demon training,” I told her. “Uriel has classes specifically tailored for witches.”
“This was my second one,” she told me, looking defiant.
“How’d you manage to get rid of the first?” I asked and the look disappeared. “With a little training, you will be able to better control your fear around them, learn to be forceful, and learn how to get their name even when they are being uncooperative.”
“But I got the information on the witch who called it, I was able to find and read their magic.”
“That’s good, but you still need training,” I reiterated. “Azazel is a lesser demon, not particularly strong. If it had been a stronger demon or more than one, he’d still be throwing tables around the food court.”
In my head, I added, or worse, because even Azazel could have killed someone and then his magic would have been even stronger and her little circle wouldn’t have done much, except trap her and her magic inside.
I redialed my boss’s phone number. He answered on the first ring, meaning his cell phone was in his hand.
“Aren’t you supposed to be off this weekend?” He asked instead of saying hello.
“I was shopping when a zombie entered the food court and began tearing things up.” I replied.
“Your text said you were dealing with a demon,” he countered.
“I was. A zombie animated by a demon.”
“You don’t see that very often.” Azrael said to me. “Can I call you in off your vacation?”
“Considering the reason for my vacation, yes, please.” I said.
“Good becuase I think I need the strongest exorcist I have to accompany a Fugative Recovery Team in Chicago.”
“Okay, why?” I asked.
“Do you remember checking out a murderer named Don Rabbling?” He said after a moment.
“Yeah, killed his entire family, claimed a demon made him do it. He was not possessed.” I answered.
“Maybe not at that moment, but this morning, he bent the bars on his cell in Joliet and escaped taking out a few steel doors along the way. I think it’s safe to say he’s possessed now.”
“Are we thinking he made a deal with demons after he was incarcerated?” I asked, dreading the response.
“Maybe, or maybe he was making a deal when he murdered his family, but since demons don’t work in our time frame, they were slow about possessing him.”
“That is not awesome.” I said dryly.
‘No, it’s not. I’ll call Raphael and explain.”
“Thanks,” I said and hung up.

Sometimes, You Have To Switch Books

Sometimes, when I get bogged down by a book, I have to switch books.  I love Aislinn as much as the next person, but there are times when working on it is akin to sloshing through the swamp…

When this happens, I have to change books.  It happened during the fourth killer chapter of Ritual Dreams.  I considered writing on The Dysfunctional Expansion, but after getting a 100 words into it, I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to write either.

So I started a new book.  A completely new book.  And I’m going to attempt to expand my horizons a bit with the writing… fingers crossed.  The first day, I got 8,000 words wrote on it.  It’s kind of fun and light and dark.

Will it be finished eventually and decent enough to publish?  Beats me, but in just 2 days, I got 14,000 words written.  And I’m enjoying the story line.  I admit I have struggled writing the last four D&R novels, so I feel like this is refreshing to my brain.

And I sent it to my best friend and my editor to read to give me an opinion on it.

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