What If… The Scary Version

2016 was a bit rough on me.  I have been blaming my lack of writing on it.  However, a new prospect has reared its head and it is terrifying.

I have chronic migraines and for most of the last two decades, I have kept a very detailed migraine log.  It goes beyond “had migraine” and the date.  I track what I ate, how much I exercised (if I exercised), what I drank, what I did, how much time I spent inside, how much time I spent outside, any other pain I had, any headaches that weren’t migraines, and the medicines I took that day.  This has given me a much better understanding of my migraines.

For example, I know light is a huge trigger for me.  This means I have to be careful about the light bulbs in my house and are there enough/too many.  It also means that I know amber-tinted sunglasses are more effective light reflectors than dark-tinted sunglasses.  I know I have to limit how much pork and alcohol I drink at any given time.  Sodium nitrates are a trigger and both those food items contain a great deal of it.  It’s worse if I’ve been snacking on beef jerky; which for those playing the home game, is in fact, my favorite snack.  I also know that scents trigger them.  Some scents are worse than others, but even a mild scent can be a trigger if it is overbearing.

I could name about forty more, but that’s not the point of this post.  The illustration was just to let everyone know why I keep the migraine journal, even when I don’t feel like it.

The past few days, I have been incredibly productive in my writing.  Even finding the ability to write during the day.  I considered it sorta strange since I’ve had a mild migraine since yesterday when the writing began to flow.  But it made me check my migraine log.

No, I did not discover I’m most productive when I have a migraine.  I did discover that since I started Botox for my migraines in March, I haven’t written very much.  And the few bursts of activity have all come in the couple of weeks before my next injections are due.

I due again in a week and suddenly, I’m writing up a storm.  I put eleven chapters on three books in the last two days.  I’ve even been scribbling in my new writer’s ideas journal.

Botox works by paralyzing nerves in my scalp, forehead, neck, and shoulders.  I know because I have zero frown lines on my forehead and almost no feeling in it.  I even managed an eyebrow pluck for my wedding, something I believe should have been in the pages of Dante’s Inferno.  If someone told me I was going to Hell and that my punishment was eyebrow plucking for eternity, I’d make some life changes.

However, that neatly brings us to the point of this post; what if the treatment for my migraines is somehow inhibiting my creativity?  Botox paralyzes nerves, which lessens the signals they send.  It also causes blood vessels to become constricted, because they just don’t have enough room for full dilation.  Is it possible that one of these is somehow responsible for my lack of migraines and my lack of creativity this past year?

The thought leaves me filled with dread.  I like having fewer migraines… But I love writing.  Choosing between them is a nightmare situation for me.

Of course, more investigation will have to be done into it.  My log will continue to grow.  I’m not going to have Botox done in a week, my insurance still hasn’t kicked in and it’s incredibly expensive.  I also can’t get a providers list from the insurance company, meaning I’m not even sure my neurologist is available to me anymore.

Making Mercurial Free

I’d like to do a promo where Mercurial Dreams is free.  It’s gonna require help, because I am not an Amazon KDP Select Author.  What I need is for several people to go the Amazon page for Mercurial Dreams, about halfway down, there’s a spot that says “Found a better price?”  Click there and insert on of these links:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mercurial-dreams-hadena-james/1117315909?ean=2940148833000

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Hadena_James_Mercurial_Dreams?id=Lp2kBgAAQBAJ

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1031781409

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/mercurial-dreams-1

Thanks!

How Much Is A Bad Review Really Worth?

Every author gets bad reviews and most of the time, I consider them to be a good thing.  After all, bad reviews prove that real people are reading our books.  However, we also experience the “what book did you read?” phenomenon when it comes to bad reviews.

For example, The Dysfunctional Affair has a review that complains about the fact that the perspective changes every paragraph from one character to another.  Except it is all told in first-person with Nadine Daniels being the only narrator.

Another author friend of mine received a review for a space thriller, in which intergalactic police officers are hunting a serial killer that can create wormholes; the reviewer left one star because they didn’t understand why the book had so many women in it.  It had 2, literally, there were 2 women in the entire book.

Someone else received a review about her paranormal romance novel from someone who complained about all the fairies in it.  The book literally has the word Fairy in the title and the description talks about a fairy who can’t find love amongst his fellow fey and goes searching for it in the human world.

I have 2 Dreams books that have 1-star reviews because according to the reviewers, women can’t be serial killers (I have considered pointing out a few infamous female serial killers to them, but that would be petty).

I think the one that irritated me the most though, was a strange 1-star review regarding the book of a friend.  The reviewer went into great detail with their review.  They talked at length about the long, complicated plot.  That didn’t even remotely resemble the plot of the book they were reviewing.  Unfortunately, their description of the plot made it sound like a good book they had read and didn’t like.  I wouldn’t mind finding it, but it’s hard to find a book when you have 200 words describing nothing but the plot.  (My friend wrote a romance novel where a divorced woman finds love when she is forced to join the PTA in an attempt to stop her teenaged daughter from being bullied and the reviewer seems to have read a thriller about a girl who is kidnapped and her father goes to find her)

My favorite however, is the reviewer that left a 1-star review regarding a book that I bought and the review literally said “this was not the author or the series I had been reading.  I mixed them up.”  How is that the author’s fault?  I’ll never know.  Why it warranted a 1-star review is just as much of a mystery.

Dedicated readers of a series will praise all the books and people will consider them fake reviews.  But what about the bad reviews that literally have nothing to do with the book in question?  Should they also be considered fake reviews?

Triggered Reality

Just a quick note to clarify Triggered Reality.  It is a part of the Dreams & Reality novels.  It is the first Reality book in the group.

It does not have Aislinn Cain in it, she gets mentioned a few times, but she’s still a teenager when the events take place.

It does have some other characters that you’ve never met, but might have heard about… Like Lucas, Xavier, and Caleb’s parents are in Triggered Reality.  One plays an integral part that you’ll have to read about… I won’t give away spoilers.

It’s two serial killer/mass murderer stories.  The first is that of Eric Clachan.  It is told from his first-person point of view.  Ever wondered why he did what he did?  Or what happened when he first arrived in prison?  Or why he went from being considered a mass murderer to a serial killer?  His story tells it all, as he sees it.

The second story is a serial killer that’s never been mentioned in the Dreams books.  Not because he isn’t important, but because he isn’t important to the cast of characters that fill the pages of those books.  However, he is the first case the SCTU ever takes on.

In Tortured Dreams, Lucas mentions that Alejandro has lasted the longest as team leader… So who existed as team leader before him?  How did Alejandro get recruited to join the SCTU?  For that matter, how did the first Serial Crimes Tracking Unit fare?  The story of who existed before this group has never been told.  The readers only know that someone existed and they didn’t live very long.  There was a someone for every position before Lucas, Xavier, Michael, and Alejandro became the core that existed in Tortured Dreams.  It’s time to meet them.

The entire story is told in third person.  With chapters alternating between the killer and the first SCT unit.  And surprisingly, Eric Clachan figures into it as does Patterson Clachan.

Essentially, Triggered Reality is the book before the Dreams novels.  Everything in it takes place years before Aislinn joins the SCTU.  Even Lucas and Xavier are still doing their military service.

Moron Moments

We all have those moments when someone says something to us or asks us something and we our brain becomes completely useless. The filter between our brain and mouth disappears and we say something incredibly stupid.  For me, this chance is increased because I can’t take antidepressants of any kind, so I have spent close to two decades on a benzodiazepine to control my anxiety.  For those that don’t know, benzos work for anxiety, because they lower inhibitions, which results in a weakened filter.  This has led to some spectacular foot-in-mouth moments…

  • One of my closest friends once sprang this question on me:  Name a few things I’m good at.  We were walking to lunch and it was completely out of the blue.  My response: math and procreating.  Thankfully, she understands me well enough to laugh about it… even now… I still haven’t lived it down.  I have come up with a few other things she’s good at though.
  • A friend once told me that she spent 2 hours fixing her hair and applying makeup before work.  Before I could stop it, I said: That means you spend 520 hours a year getting ready for work, it only takes me about 100 hours to write a novel, imagine all the shit you could get done if you weren’t fixing your hair and applying makeup.  She hung up on me and it actually took about a week for her to start talking to me again.
  • A nephew called one night to talk about the fact that he was feeling down.  My response: are you masturbating enough? Because if you aren’t, that can make you sad.  Turns out he was having issues with a coworker.  I was immediately forgiven because I startled him into laughing.  However, I totally could have approached his feeling down a whole lot better and differently!
  • I was an assistant to an epidemiologist for a handful of years.  He was from Brazil and would swear at me in Portuguese from time to time.  We both had tempers and when they flared, war would break out.  One afternoon, we get into an argument about a document and how it should be checked.  Both of us were convinced we are 100% right.  After some serious swearing from both of us, I break out the big guns and shout: When you have hemorrhoid surgery next week, see if they can get the ones from your brain too.  I said this loud enough that everyone in the office could hear… I was the only staff member that knew why he was off the following week.  It ended the argument and we found a solution that worked for both of us, it was still embarrassing for him and I felt bad about it once I cooled off.
  • I was at a gas station, buying cigarettes and a 1-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.  This guy behind me smarts off and says “obviously you make healthy life choices.”  I whipped around to look at him.  He is wearing an orange construction vest, he’s so burnt he’s nearly purple, and he’s got a handful of junk food.  I quipped back: I figure since I kill people for a living, smoking and soda are the least of my problems.  However, you’re going to die of cancer long before I will if you don’t learn how to read so you can buy a bottle of sunscreen.  Also, you are going to be eating ten times the amount of sugar in those processed cakes than I’m going to get from my Mountain Dew.  So maybe you should re-evaluate your life choices before you judge anyone else’s.  He just gaped at me open mouthed as I paid and left.  He was the one who had the Moron Moment.  The attendant on duty at the gas station reads my Dreams & Reality novels, so she thought it was hilarious when I told him I killed people for a living.
  • At my wedding reception, someone I barely know, walked up and asked when I was due.  My response: Over 36 years ago, if you want the details, you’ll have to ask my mom.  I don’t remember it.
  • Some friends of mine were arguing one night over something stupid (a guy).  After listening to them go on and on about it for almost an hour, I said “Wish you two gave this much thought to your homework so I wouldn’t have to keep helping you with it.”  This started a whole different argument about what a bitch I could be.
  • In college, I did some tutoring on writing papers.  I had a girl come in because she needed assistance writing a paper for a literature class.  She had chosen to write about the symbology in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  After discussing it with her for several minutes, I asked “Have you actually read the book or just watched the Disney cartoon?”  She responded with “It’s an actual book?”  We didn’t get very far with her paper and I was never able to convince her that the ghosts who visited Scrooge were meant to be terrifying and stop him from condemning his soul to Hell.
  • Finally, someone once asked me about my feelings about career pursuits.  I rattled off a bunch of stuff and even managed to tie in stuff from the Childe Roland poem.  Turned out, I was overthinking the matter, they just wanted to know if they should apply for a promotion or not.  (For those that don’t know, I love the poem and I have a very different take on it than most… Once Roland reaches the Dark Tower, he’ll die, because he has nothing else to live for and yes, that was put into my comments on their career pursuits).

The really nice thing about moron moments is once they’ve passed, they are pretty funny.  If they happen with a good friend, they can provide a lifetime of entertainment.

Writing Progress Report

I’m going to try to do monthly-ish writing progress reports (they may happen every month or every 3 weeks or every 5 weeks, one just never knows with me).  This is where I’m at now:

  • Terrorific Tales has published in ebook form and the paperbacks are in progress.  Just waiting on the final edits from my editor.  It has one Amazon review…
  • Triggered Reality is with the editor.  I have her notes on Eric Clachan’s story and am now awaiting her notes on the other serial killer story in it.
  • Flawless Dreams is about half done and I suspect I will send it to the editor the first week of April.  I am planning May release.
  • Movement in the Shadows has one story done.  So far, it is making me broaden my writing horizons.
  • Death Demon Trilogy Book 1:  Legacies Awakened has six chapters done.  These are the continuation of the Brenna Strachan novels and will center on an adult Callie Strachan.
  • The next Dysfunctional Chronicle has begun to take shape in my head.
  • Ritual Dreams has a plot and a serial killer.  I’ll begin work on it pretty soon (after I finish Flawless Dreams).
  • The second Reality book doesn’t have a title, but will feature the character stories for Brent Timmons, aka the Tallahassee Terror, and Turkish Jack.

My One Wedding Regret

As everyone is probably aware, I got married last Saturday.  Everything went well.  We had a ton of people at the reception.  It was wonderful.

We may have set a new record for fastest wedding ceremony in history.  We did it in under 6 minutes.  Considering we were a few minutes late getting started, that worked out.  We were done with all the wedding stuff, including pictures, by 4:30, so we got to head to the reception a little early.

There really were a lot of people there.  At one point, the bartenders counted around 220, give or take a few.  We are truly blessed to have so many friends and family that came out to celebrate with us.

However, we didn’t get space for a dance floor until after 9 pm.  As a result, by the time we could dance, darts had started and the Husband was playing in the blind draw.  This means, I did not get my dance.

I’m not normally a sentimentalist or romantically inclined, so I’m not sure why it bothers me so much that we didn’t get a husband and wife dance… But it does.

I didn’t realize how disappointed I was about it until last night.  I was writing and the song I had chosen for our dance came on my writing playlist.  I just sorta stopped writing.  I had picked out Don’t You Wanna Stay by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson.  The Husband likes country and I like opera, so the song actually works well for both of our music interests.

Everything else was amazing and yet, I shed a tear or two because I didn’t get that dance.  In the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal… it was just a dance.  Looking back though, I didn’t dance at all that night because I didn’t get that first dance with my husband.  I was asked several times and I love to dance, but I just didn’t want to because I had missed that single dance.

All my ladies were beautiful in their dresses.  All the guys were dashing in their outfits.  My father dressed to the nines for the event and wore a suit, something I have only seen him in a few times over the course of my 36 years.  Even the Husband’s father was dressed to the nines and wore a suit; something I had never, ever seen.  The food was wonderful.  We were surrounded by friends and family, many we hadn’t seen in a long time.

And yet, I’m sad about a dance… Hard to believe.  I think for a while, I will be removing the song from my playlist.

The Sadist

Serial killers and sadism go hand in hand.  That isn’t to say you can’t be a serial killer and not be a sadist.  It also doesn’t mean you can’t be a sadist without being a serial killer.  Not surprisingly, a little pain during our most intimate acts can be pleasurable.

Zodiac wasn’t a sadist.  He wasn’t into the physical torture part.  His attempted to kill quickly, every time.  In many ways, he was as much a terrorist as serial killer.  His goal was to inflict psychological terror with his taunts and rants.

H.H. Holmes was also not really a sadist.  He was an opportunist.  Basically, Holmes seemed to be killing for what he could gain.  Along with being a very efficient serial killer, his Murder Castle is evidence of that, he was a con man.  He might have enjoyed gassing his guests and dumping them in the basement to be dissolved in lye, but it really was more about the money.

However, there are a whole slew of serial killers that are sadists; BTK (Dennis Rader), The Hillside Strangler (Ken Bianchi & Angelo Buono), The Moors Murders (Myra Hindley & Ian Brady), and Andrei Chikatilo instantly come to mind.

One serial killer may have been among the most sadistic of them all: Jack the Ripper.  The reason his status is elevated above other serial killers that mutilated victims is not because he went uncaught, but because of how fast he did it.  In most instances, he mutilated and stole his victims’ organs in a matter of minutes.  Let me really paint that picture for you:

You engage your victim with a ploy; they are prostitutes, so you are probably asking about the price of services.  Now, you have convinced her to come with you.  As she leads the way to a spot for your tryst, you grab her from behind, and slit her throat.  Blood is spraying everywhere, because both the carotid artery and jugular vein pump a huge amount of blood.  She is going to bleed out in a minute, maybe two.  Yet you lay her down on her back, despite the spraying blood, and stab her abdomen with a decent sized knife.  You cut either top to bottom or bottom to top, stick your hands inside and yank out her reproductive organs or kidneys or both, in a matter of moments.  You secret these stolen organs away or put them next to the body for display, and then you disappear into the night.

Despite the fact that your victims are bleeding out on the streets, chances are very high that they are still alive and semi-aware when the butchering begins.  That is the true horror of Jack the Ripper.  After having their throat slits, his victims probably lived long enough to understand that he was cutting them open, because of how fast everything happened.

Why do I bring this up?  History Channel is about to air a new show trying to link HH Holmes and Jack the Ripper.  In many instances, it makes some sense.  Holmes did have some opportunity to be Jack.  He was known to travel between the US and England, especially while hiding out from law enforcement and families looking for their missing relatives.

The big difference is that Jack the Ripper was one of the most notorious sadist serial killers of the previous two hundred years and HH Holmes wasn’t.  Nothing a serial killer does is set in stone; not MO, signature, victimology, and not even the method in which they kill.  They are part of a ritual, but they can be altered to fit moods.  However, that doesn’t explain why Holmes would get to London and start butchering prostitutes in the street, especially since there is no mention of robbery of the victims.  Then he returns to the US and resumes his stint as con man and opportunistic serial killer.

Even in the annals of weird crimes, it doesn’t make sense for Holmes to be Jack.  It would be the same as Zodiac being either Ken Bianchi or Angelo Buono.

 

The Blacklisting of Nikola Tesla

It’s hard to imagine where the world would be without Nikola Tesla.  He was a giant in his field and even today, almost everything we touch has been influenced by Tesla.  But why don’t we know about it?

He believed that we should be broadcasting electricity for free, like radio waves, and figured out the mechanics of how to do it.  He also made the basic plans for things like television, faster cars, and a slew of other inventions.  And before Einstein proved light worked like a particle, Tesla had.  Before a physicist proved that atoms were similar to solar systems, Tesla had theorized about it.  Yet, he never won a Nobel Prize like Einstein or the Spaniard that proved atoms were like miniature solar systems.

Tesla was different, even for a genius.  He was into numerology and believed we should be actively searching for extraterrestrial life.  These things were used against him by two very powerful figures.

The first is JP Morgan.  Morgan gave Tesla money to build a radio tower.  Tesla used that money to study if we could safely transmit electricity through the ground, making it free.  Needless to say, this pissed JP Morgan off… a whole hell of a lot.  Morgan was one of the most influential and wealthy men in America.  It would be like pissing off Rockafeller.

Then Tesla compounded his problems by pissing off Thomas Edison (yes, the Edison that created the modern light bulb). His worst offense, was probably when he started telling anyone that would listen that Edison would only advance science if there was money to be made in it.  However, they had been feuding for a while before he started doing that.

Morgan and Edison made sure they ruined Tesla.  They highlighted all of his failures and like any scientist, he had some.  They highlighted his eccentric nature, by reminding anyone and everyone that Tesla believed in numerology and that we should be searching for intelligent life beyond our own planet.  However, most importantly, they used racism to destroy his credibility.  Tesla was a Serbian living in the US.  After the assassination that would lead to the outbreak of WWI, fears of Serbian assassins was a real thing.  The political group The Black Hand was taken as a serious threat.  Morgan and Edison both hinted that since Tesla was Serbian born, he might have ties to The Black Hand political group.

Tesla would eventually work with men like Einstein on projects.  But his reputation was never repaired and he died living under a different name in a hotel room.  He has also never been given any high awards for scientific achievement, even though he is one of the founding fathers of modern physics.

Recently, my interest in Tesla was renewed when I started watching reruns of the show Murdoch Mysteries.  I was impressed that they took the time to do some redeeming of Tesla’s reputation, making him seem like the eccentric genius that he was, not the crackpot that Morgan and Edison painted him to be.

Ok, I’m off for a couple of days.  Probably no contact with the outside world until Monday.  Wedding happens Saturday!

Zealandia: A New Continent?

All continents are actually bigger than they appear.  Somewhere, some part of each of our continents is submerged.  We know this from the treasure trove of underwater villages found all over the world.

And it makes sense; erosion, climate change, the rising and falling of ocean levels, the changes made to land masses by volcanoes and earthquakes, etc.  They all impact how much land is visible in a continent.

In theory, we have 7 continents.  Some people argue for 6 because Asia and Europe are actually a single landmass.  However, the removal of a continent is far less extreme than the discovery of one… Which might have happened.

New Zealand, New Caledonia, and a chain of islands sits of the coast of Australia and have always been considered island nations, not associated with a continent except on special occasions when it gets lumped into the Australian continent (like Madagascar is only sometimes considered part of the African Continent).

However, new geologic evidence suggests that this area is actually a submerged continent, distinct from Australia with New Zealand, New Caledonia, and the islands the only visible traces of it.  What they have found is a giant submerged landmass that has the same density of continents, but only the high plains regions are above water.

This is significant.  Islands have stable bases, but they go to the bed of the sea.  New Zealand doesn’t have this.  Instead, it appears to have a stable base that goes into a much larger stable base below the surface of the ocean and that larger base connects to New Caledonia and a specific island chain.  Then that larger stable base goes into the ocean.  The exact same way a continent connects to the ocean floor.  It would be the equivalent of flooding the US with close to a mile of ocean water.  We’d have islands from some of our mountains, but we’d have plateaus that also rise above the water line in the form of places like Denver, Colorado.

We have trouble exploring in depths like a mile or two under the surface of the ocean.  We can do it, but at great risk.  Go three or four miles under and the problems compound exponentially.  It’s why we really do know more about the moon than the oceans on Earth.  So theoretically, if ocean levels were high enough, Denver and a few other places would appear to be islands, not parts of a continent.

So will we start to see the continent of Zealandia showing up on maps and text books any time soon?  Probably not.  We abhor rewriting history.

C Patt

A safe place for Paper Sisters to roam

Village Books

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

Susan Finlay Writes

Susan Writes Mysteries and Suspense

ReadTuesday

It's going to be HUGE!

Maria63303's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Roger Radford Journalist & Author

Thrillers with a Twist

Characters in Progress

Developing character on the page and off

Me and my writing life

A blog about books, my ideas and what I've learned as I live life as a writer.

Not So Easy, Breezy

Appreciating the hard things in life

Rachel Poli

I read. I write. I create.

mishaburnett

more than one way to skin a cat

bottledworder

easy reading is damn hard writing

thestorymavens.wordpress.com/

Finding The Write Direction Write Now

Jodie Jackson Jr. - Author

I wrote a book ...

Adria Waters

Navigating my way through the writing process