Competitive Dreams Complete

I finished writing Competitive Dreams… I am now working on a self edit of the book, before sending it to the content editor. The serial killer club closed after the death of The Ghost Maker in Fortified Dreams.

In Competitive Dreams the club reopens with a new leader and in the words of Sherlock Holmes, the game is afoot. Mictlan the Collector administrator of the reformed club is in need of something and he hopes a competition between killers will help him find it. In his arrogance, he decides to host it in beautiful Kansas City. What better way to prove the SCTU is inept and incapable of reducing the serial killer population than to host it in the metro area where they live?

The ideal for this book came to me after solving a Deadbolt Mystery Box with my best friend titled Duel. In which a serial killer club in the fictitious city of Valley Falls holds a competition between two members to find out which of them is the better killer. The loser in that one gets captured by the Will Street Detective Agency (who you assist with most Deadbolt Boxes).

After solving it, I was like I have a defunct serial killer club in D&R…. I could reactivate it with a new leader and have a competition. That would make an awesome book. And so I did.

Competitive Dreams will release Halloween 2021. Deadbolt now ships internationally as well as in the US… I highly recommend it for a fun night with friends. Deadbolt mystery boxes served as my pandemic stress reliever. My best friend and I would open Zoom and solve a box whenever one of us needed a break from reality or just because we had one to solve.

We are currently waiting for an electrician to show up and tell us if the lack of hot water is a breaker box issue or if our hot water heater has gone bad (hence my being up this early). I didn’t realize things broke in groups of three in a house. So far in 2021 we’ve replaced our garage doors, now it will be either our breaker box or water heater (although we are pretty sure it’s the water heater) and in April we had to replace the elements in said water heater. Sunday it began kicking the breaker when it turned on… Tuesday it stopped turning on altogether. After the week we’ve had, I am really looking forward to solving a puzzle on Saturday morning.

The Doyle Effect

Have you ever been reading a series you love and it suddenly ends? Have you ever noticed Sherlock Holmes dies twice within the series of short stories and novellas written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? If you read Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series, she suddenly introduces a new character Mrs. Ariadne Oliver a writer who hates the character she’s created the Finish detective? All of these things fall into something writers call the Doyle Effect named after the creator of Sherlock Holmes. It’s when the writer decides they hate a series or a character they’ve created and they have to find a way to deal with it. Doyle killed and resurrected Holmes twice because everyone loved Sherlock except him and Holmes stories were the only thing that made him money. He actually counselled Christie not to kill Poirot and to find a way to deal with her hate of the character – she created Mrs. Oliver a writer who goes through Poirot books complaining about the ridiculous Finnish detective she created, but he’s beloved by the masses and he makes her a lot of money, so she can’t kill him even though she really wants to, which mirrored how Christie felt about Poirot.

Nearly every series author goes through times when they hate the world, characters, or stories they’ve created in a single series. And they handle it in different ways. Some kill off the character they hate and end the series. Others change the series to fit more into what they want to write. While still others cut back on the frequency of books they release in that series.

I had intended to end D&R after Fortified Dreams (book 12 I think), because realistically 12 books in a series is quite a few. I didn’t. And after 17 books in the series, I’ve started to feel the weight of the series and characters. I could respond like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and kill the members of the SCTU, but if I did that I have no doubt I’d resurrect them at a later date when I needed the money a new D&R book brings in. And I’ve already pulled the Agatha Christie trick, giving Ace a biographer. And so, the only way to continue the series and keep the books of decent quality is to cut back on the frequency of them.

Here’s what I deal with when it comes to D&R: I get excited to start a new book in the series and it goes well for 20,000 words or so and then I stop writing it and don’t want to pick it up again. I have 4 half finished D&R novels saved on my computer at the moment.

As a self-published author, I have the advantage of picking my own publication schedule as well as the number of books I publish a year. Most traditionally published authors don’t have that and are forced to publish one book in a series a year. My best friend is like me, an avid reader, and her and I discussed this ad nauseum: did I want to kill the series entirely or would I prefer to cut back and keep a steady trickle of D&R books coming for several more years?

Thursday, I announced I would be cutting back on the frequency. Most of my dedicated readers were supportive, one even said “Yay! Room for a new series! I’m so excited.” I do usually publish 4 books a year, I write fast enough to release 4 a year and I do love my job even if I am struggling with a series. I don’t know if you’ll get a new series or if I’ll leave that 4th spot open to allow me to write more standalone novels and have some fun with writing.

There is another possibility; sometimes when a writer commits to slowing down on a series as I have done they eventually find their love for it again. A couple of authors I’ve talked to have said they cut back to one book in a series every couple years or one a year and after a handful of years they fell back in love with the series and sped back up. This could happen with D&R, if I don’t get frustrated and kill them off. Or it might not. Part of the issue with D&R is the rigidity of Aislinn Cain’s character and I can’t make major changes to her 17 books in, that just wouldn’t work.

I think slowing down is the best solution for me (the author) and you (the reader). It prevents the SCTU from being blown up by serial killer.

Buried Dreams & Publication Plans

Well, we’re getting closer to the release of Buried Dreams. I don’t have a “release day” in mind. Instead, I have a “release week”. I intend to release it between December 26 December 31, 2020. After I get the editing finished, I will upload it to all retailers and then announce it’s been uploaded.

Looking forward into 2021, I can give you some release date estimates. Nephilim Narratives 4 – Movement in the Shadows will release in March. Dreams & Reality – Innocent Dreams is slated for June. I’m hoping to get NN5 released in late September and Competitive Dreams will come out Halloween. If the stars align, Avenging Reality and The Dysfunctional Christmas will both release in December (my goal is The Dysfunctional Christmas at the beginning of December and Avenging Reality after Christmas).

I figure since Movement in the Shadows is written as is Innocent Dreams, this will give me most of the first half of 2021 to rewrite Avenging Reality, as well as write NN5, Competitive Dreams, and The Dysfunctional Christmas.

Also, as a reminder at some point in 2021 the first 3 D&R audiobooks will release, as well as the revised edition of Tortured Dreams and the first 3 Nephilim Narratives audiobooks. For the first year, they will only be available via Apple audiobooks, but after that they will enter full retailer circulation including library apps such as Hoopla, Overdrive, and Libby.

For D&R, the audiobook narrator’s gender will match that of the killer. This means Tortured Dreams will be read by a woman while Elysium & Mercurial will be read by men. We also think each book will have a different narrator. The Nephilim Narratives will be more “standard” with the same female narrator performing all of them.

I hope everyone in the US had a decent holiday, even if it wasn’t what we are all used to. Ours was much smaller this year and we missed the smiling faces of some of the nieces, nephews, and great nephews…. hopefully by this time next year, things are a little calmer.

Second Half of 2020 Publishing Schedule

It’s July…. Time to start thinking about what and when I intend to release books the rest of the year. So, this is subject to change based on a number of things, but this is my current plan….

  • Demon Boxes (Nephilim Narrative 3) – September 18, 2020 (Very Rough Summary): Soleil Burns is earning her private detective license interning for her uncle Remiel to supplement her income from her private exorcism business when strange little boxes start popping up all over town. They have one purpose; summon demons to possess the being that opens the box. It increases business for Soleil, but the boxes are getting more and more dangerous as larger and larger demons come out of them. She with Jerome’s help must now work at finding out the creator as well as exorcise all the demons coming out of them.
  • Buried Dreams (Dreams and Reality 19) – October 31, 2020 (Very Rough Summary): Ace and the SCTU go to Tennessee to investigate multiple disappearances where only some of the victims have been discovered. There is evidence to suggest they are all linked, but where are the rest of the bodies?
  • Innocent Dreams (Dreams and Reality 20) – November 23, 2020 – I am releasing this in conjunction with Thanksgiving for my American readers so they can enjoy it over the holiday if they don’t have to work. (Very Rough Summary): Both SCTU teams are being held in Kansas City until they whittle down a growing list of active serial killers and rapists in the metro area, starting with the child predators. The decision is made to divide and conquer the list and the groups are paired off into smaller units and are forced to work together. Ace is more worried about who she’s going to be stuck with from SCT Unit Bravo than the killers and rapists.
  • The Dysfunctional Christmas (The Dysfunctional Chronicles 8) December 25, 2020 – Nadine Daniels decides to throw a Christmas party for her family, Ace’s family, and the rest of the SCTU to celebrate Ace and the SCTU ending her stalker/killer problems over the summer (Dysfunctional Dreams). What could possibly go wrong?

So, that’s what you have to look forward to for the second half of 2020. It is an ambitious schedule, made possible only because most of the books were written before May (I have re-written 2 of them Demon Boxes and Innocent Dreams). Leaving me just 1 to write before it releases.

You might have noticed Book 18 of the Dreams & Reality Series is missing… It will be Avenging Reality. Since losing the book to computer gremlins, I’ve had trouble convincing myself to rewrite it. It is easier to rewrite books that don’t need to be rewritten. I am hoping to release it in early 2021. Once I finish writing The Dysfunctional Christmas Avenging Reality is getting all of my attention. Furthermore, the plots for several other 2021 releases have come together and the books will be my focus once I complete Avenging Reality including Juarez Dreams (D&R 21), Movement in the Shadows (Nephilim Narratives 4) and The Dysfunctional Halloween (Dysfunctional Chronicles 9 or 10 – The Dysfunctional Birthday might also get written for release in 2021).

So, there’s my plans for the rest of this year along with a sneak peek of next year.

Dysfunctional Dreams Reminder

Just a reminder that Dysfunctional Dreams releases in 7 days. Go get your pre-orders! This is my favorite of my 2020 releases so far.

For the last couple years, someone has been trying unsuccessfully to kill Nadine Daniels. Now, they’ve changed tactics. They’ve decided the best way to get to Nadine is through her Daniels’ Security clients. But you can’t commit multiple murders, without attracting the attention of the US Marshals’ Serial Crimes Tracking Unit.

The killer has attracted more attention than wanted, but it’s too late to go back now and soon Aislinn Cain and the SCTU are on his trail. Most serial killer motives are obvious to Aislinn Cain who thinks more like a killer than a normal person because she too is a psychopath with a thirst for blood that she has learned to control for the most part. But when this killer’s motives confuse her, she begins to wonder if there’s more to it than a simple case of bloodlust and a desire to get revenge on Nadine.

Aislinn will enter the shadowy side of Nadine Daniels’ life and explore Nadine’s role as a savior to hundreds who have used her assistance to escape abusive and violent partners. This also brings forth hundreds of suspects for the SCTU to comb through, because revenge killings can’t be ruled out.

This is book 17 in the Dreams and Reality series.

Crime Rates in Dreams and Realty and The Dysfunctional Chronicles

When I was working on Anonymous Dreams and again on Dysfunctional Dreams I got to thinking that I have never released “crime stats” for D&R. In the series, I have created something called Federal Guard Neighborhoods; gated communities operated and protected by federal officers that have retired or semi-retired due to injury from the FBI, Marshal’s Service, Secret Service, Homeland Security, and even the military.

I’ve given illusions as to why the FGNs and FGAs need to exist, but I’ve not given solid numbers. In D&R the death rate for police officers is 2,100 per 100,000 a year. Great. What is that in real numbers though? In D&R and the Dysfunctional Chronicles the death rates of police officers is 21% – way higher than real death rates – in 2019 there were a total of 89 officers killed in the line of duty in the entire country (the rate turns out to be something like 2 per 100,000 per year) – and 41 of those deaths were the result of traffic accidents while on duty.

So, back to D&R. If 21% of active duty law enforcement officers are killed in some way. There are roughly 9,000 officers (local and federal) in the KC Metro area in the books. In any given year, 21% of those officers are killed. That means 1,890 officers are killed in D&R each year. Given that the average is 100 officers per year in the US for us, that is a whole lot of dead police officers. Of course, in the books about 2% of the US population is a serial criminal, so it’s not surprising. In real life, less than .35% of the US population is a serial criminal that would fall under the purview of the SCTU (yep not even half a percentage point).

And in D&R less than 5% of those 2,100 deaths of officers are related to fatal car accidents and don’t also qualify as murder (as in a suspect ran the officer off the road to kill them or some other form of vehicular related homicide). In Innocent Dreams, I translated some of these percentages and rates into real numbers and the book starts with Gabriel telling the team that both teams are staying in KC for the two month, because there are 378 open murder and rape cases linked by DNA to 31 offenders and nearly all of them have passed a 6 body threshold including five preying solely on children.

This means that in D&R and The Dysfunctional Chronicles being a police officer is in fact the most dangerous job in America, by comparison it isn’t even in the top 20 in the real US. Knowing all this, what sort of criminals must exist and in what quantities to make such a thing happen?

A lot of very brutal killers. In this world, other crimes are less common, especially crimes like home invasion because you don’t want to force your way into the home of a serial killer or mob boss with goons. And it is violent “stranger” crimes that dominate the criminal landscape (murder, rape, arson, mugging, organized crime, etc). And this shows in the deaths of both main characters’ fathers; Nadine’s died either from a random armed robbery or a contracted hit set up by her own grandfather and Aislinn’s died while responding to a domestic violence call – interestingly, this does reflect real life more than most of the crimes in D&R. Domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous calls officer respond to.

At one point, Ace says towards the beginning of the series says there are roughly 1,000 active serial killers in the US… but the number has grown as the series has continued. For each one they capture Ace estimates there are at least 2 they don’t capture or even know about. This is a gross underestimation though as you will see in Innocent Dreams.

The Dysfunctional Mob – Part 1

This story was written by Hadena James and is part of the Dysfunctional Chronicles.

The Universe

Long airplane rides are good places to make deals with God, the Devil, and the Universe. The person behind you is being a jerk and kicking your seat, the kid in the aisle seat on your row won’t shut up about the newest video game, your husband fell asleep before the plane left the tarmac and has snored for the last ten hours, nine of which you have desperately needed to pee. It’s just not worth it to have a window seat sometimes because no matter who or what you try to strike a deal with, the Universe is going to make sure it does not go as planned. The only good thing was there weren’t any layovers once we left JFK. Of course, if there had been, I would not have been stuck in this seat for going on ten hours. It was an Aeroflot flight, which only offered economy seating, not my favorite way to fly to Russia, but one does what one can on short notice. Being a dual citizen meant I didn’t have to wait for VISAs and things. The only good thing about having a Russian mother that had once been a spy really.

However, why in the world they let me come back to the motherland was beyond me. I wouldn’t have let me have dual citizenship, but then again, Zeke was a dual citizen, I often wondered if that meant I was a double dual citizen or if he was a double dual citizen. I wasn’t sure how it worked, I just knew that Harry Burns with Homeland had cleared us to fly, immediately, so Zeke didn’t have a travel VISA either, which meant he had to be a citizen of Russia too. I hadn’t thought too hard about it until the flight. My goal was to never put this much thought into it again. It had made my brain hurt a little bit, like trying to figure out what the universe was expanding into.

The seat belt sign came on as a woman in Russian announced we’d be landing in Moscow shortly. She repeated it in English because no matter what kind of screwed up language English was, Russian was much harder to learn. The location of inflection in a word could change something from a sentence to a question… This is why I was better at reading Russian than hearing it or speaking it. Of course, my father had spoken some sort of Celtic Irish language along with English and I hadn’t learned it either. Needless to say, my trips to Ireland were on permanent hold since none of my relatives were willing to speak to me.

I did not wait for deboarding instructions. Zeke could grab our bags, I needed off the plane and into the terminal to find a bathroom. Of course, I’d get checked by Customs first, but maybe if they saw my desperation, they’d be fast.

No such luck. Zeke caught up with me at Customs, still waiting on one person in front of me. She must have been as old as the pyramids and she spoke not Russian and not English, that was all I could tell. There was a man speaking to her in the same language. Neither looked happy and I was just hoping they got her out of the way before there was a puddle under me. That would be bad for diplomatic relations.

All rights reserved.  Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction.  Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious.  Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.

Copyright © Hadena James 2016

All Rights Reserved

Bestseller’s List

The day Elysium Dreams went to the top of the Amazon rankings, I checked out the rankings for the Kindle ebooks overall. And saw something interesting, but not surprising. 8 of the top 10 free ebooks in the overall Kindle Store were romance novels. Elysium Dreams eventually ranked 18th overall.

14 of the 17 books in front of it were romance novels, of some sort. Of the three that weren’t romance novels, 2 were written by men and the 3rd… well the 3rd is a series that I have tried to read because someone told me I would like them, they were like the Cain series, but with a male lead. I did try. But even though the romance is light in the series (the male is married), there is still more romance than what you’d find in the Dysfunctional Chronicles or Nephilim Narratives.

After those first 2 paragraphs, I have no doubt everyone now thinks this is a post dedicated to being annoyed by romance novels. But it isn’t. By 1:15 central time, I had 5,000+ downloads of Elysium Dreams. Enough to get me to 18th place in the Kindle Store overall and first in handful of genre categories, specifically crime fiction. Those 17 books ahead of me therefore by 1:15 central time, had more downloads than me. Possibly they were in the 10,000+ downloads for the day.

Now, those are some good numbers and by the end of the day, I myself would be in the 10,000+ downloads for the day. This means that all of 18 books (all by different authors) had great download days and we all ranked on Amazon. Not a single one of us will rank on any published bestseller list. Because the NY Times bestseller list as well as the big one in the UK, still only count physical book sales. To make the NY Times bestseller list, an author pretty much has to sell 5,000 physical books in a week. Which is practically impossible for an indy. The most physical books I’ve sold in a week is 34.

Now, I had 15,000 downloads of Elysium Dreams at the end of the day and it was only a Tuesday. Wednesday, I’ll continue to have downloads of both it and Tortured as well as all my other free books. This will publish before the end of the week, but I can estimate that this week alone, I will have more than 50,000 total downloads. And remember, I’m working solely with Amazon sales, because they are the only ones that report in “real time” everyone else reports on a daily or every other day basis.

I understand this is a free book, but free books lead to sales and the day Elysium Dreams hit 18, I sold (as in received royalties for non-freebies) nearly as many books that single day as I had all of the first 18 days of March across all retailers.

I’m sure the other 17 authors on that list can say the same thing (when I got my BookBub email, the other 3 non-romance novels were in my recommendations email, along with my own book).

Interestingly, while the NY Times still only uses physical books to count bestsellers, the USA today has begun using digital as well as physical sales. Meaning the USA Today is probably a more accurate bestseller list. Since I have 3 large bookshelves full of books and 1 half case full of books, I have been banned from buying physical books. Meaning nearly every book I buy is digital anymore… thereby not helping Clive Barker get to the top of the NY Times bestseller list when he releases a book.


My best friend is finishing a second master’s degree in something technology related. One of her classes was big data analytics. She made the decision to analyze the D&R series. There were some interesting things discovered. However, the project isn’t due until today, so I won’t be releasing her findings until later this week.

However, I will go ahead and say she did find significant differences between D&R books written under the influence of Gabapentin and Lyrica and the others in the series. Not just in length or quickness of publishing, but in word choices and things.

Today, though, I have an advert for Elysium Dreams running on BookBub. And Ritual Dreams remains on pre-order for just a couple more days. Just as a reminder, I moved the publishing date from April 1 to March 22nd. So you only have 3 more days to wait.

I also have a much better idea of how this year is going to go (as far as writing is concerned) and can give better estimates on release dates for a couple of books. Avenging Reality will publish at Halloween. Anonymous Dreams will come out in December. Goddess Investigations in July and Oh My Wizard in September. And Dysfunctional Expansion in November.

This does mean a heavy end of the year publishing schedule, but as I am cranking out books pretty easily right now, I realized there was going to end up being a cluster somewhere, might as well have it at the end of the year to kick 2020 off in a good way (November and December royalties won’t pay out until January and February).

PS: I have 3 books that are still marked as WiP that will probably get put out in 2020. All of them are stand-alone novels. Throughout the day, I’ll be checking my Amazon rankings with the BookBub advert running. Tomorrow, I’ll post how it went. Currently, Tortured and Elysium Dreams are ranked #35 and #36 in crime fiction > serial killers on Amazon. I think they will both hit 1 in a couple of categories today. And the rankings on some of the other books in the series will also rise quite a bit. More on that later this week though.

Ritual Dreams Releasing Early

Ritual Dreams was formatted and ready to go in record time. And after sitting on it for a day or two, I realized it was a problem. I hate sitting on books. Sometimes, I think I have impulse control issues. After a day of not making progress on any of my works in progress, I realized it was because I was anxiously anticipating the release of Ritual Dreams…

So, I moved up the release date. Instead of releasing on Malachi’s Birthday (April 1), it will release March 22. That is all. Back to work.