Terrorific Tales

I have always enjoyed writing short stories and flash fiction pieces.  They require me to rethink my writing approach.  Which if you have read any of my novels, you’ll know can be quite wordy.  I don’t use a great deal of long, big words, there’s rarely a need, because with a novel why use one long word that half the people on the planet will have to look up when you have the space for two or three much more common words…

This is why Terrorific Tales and Tales to Read Before the End of the World both exist.  I enjoy writing those sorts of things.  They push my boundaries.  I’ve already started thinking about my next short story project; a book of ghost and monster stories – not like Terrorific Tales.

However, Terrorific Tales did give me the ability to do something I had never done before.  I asked readers for prompts and got some.  Then I constructed stories around them.  That was both fun and challenging.  Every prompt I used is credited to the reader who gave it to me.

As I continue to work on Triggered Reality, I realize that taking the time to write Terrorific Tales gave me a bit of a break that I was needing.  I didn’t know I needed a break from the D&R world or the Dysfunctional world, but I did.  That has annoyed most creative writing teachers and mentors I have had over the years.  They always told me to pick a genre or a series or a style and stick with it.

Only, I can’t.  I’m sorry.  Occasionally, my brain just needs to shift gears.  Because keeping my brain focused on one thing or one genre or one set of characters lulls it into a sense of complacency.  Especially since for every novel I have written I have at least one novel, maybe six or seven short stories, and a few dozen flash fiction pieces not written.  Call it Writer’s ADD if you need to have a term for it.

Even when I’m not plopped in front of my computer, my brain is still writing.  It is either composing prose, coming up with new ideas, or creating new characters.  This is why sometimes, projects stall.

Of course, my life factors into it as well.  Innocent Dreams and Flawless Dreams both stalled due to my having a great nephew born and the decision to get married, along with some health setbacks.  I tried to write around them, but I stress out really easily – meditation makes me anxious, so don’t suggest it, I have a fear of boredom and clearing my mind is like to trying to contain a nuclear reactor during a meltdown, so meditation actually stresses me out more – so I had to move away from them for a short while.

Triggered Reality only sort of stalled.  I got the first part written, started the second and decided I hated it after putting nearly 8,000 words on it, and decided to revisit it after writing the third part.  The third part gave me very little trouble, but that second part is still annoying the shit out of me.  It just isn’t right.  I’m going to scrap it and do another story.  That one may be revisited at another time, I don’t know yet.

However, since I know everybody is jonesing for a fix of Aislinn Cain, Nadine Daniels, and the promised Death Demon Trilogy, I added a story for each of them to Terrorific Tales.  Two are explanatory stories that will probably surprise you.  Consider the third a prologue and taste of things to come.

Also, keep in mind that as I move forward with Movements in the Shadows, I might go ahead and ask for more prompts.  What sorts of ghost or monster stories do you want to read?  Not just what ones do I like to write.

 

Jude the Great Nephew, Innocent Dreams, No Order Necessary

For the last couple of weeks, I have been spending about 10 hours a day with Jude the Great Nephew.  My mom is acting as his primary babysitter right now and I work from home.  I didn’t understand what this meant at first.  I mean, I did, I was going to be spending time with the great nephew, but I didn’t know it would affect me psychologically.

Innocent Dreams focuses on child killers.  Some of the children are very young.  Since Jude the Great Nephew has been born, I’ve seen some psychological blocks arise from trying to reconcile how much I want to see him thrive and the fact that I am killing children, even if it is just fiction.

I have some issues with child killers anyway.  The hardest D&R book for me to write was Cannibal Dreams and I got it written by wussing out and switching my serial killer focus from August to Patterson.  In some ways, I resent that weakness, but I just couldn’t stomach it.  I can write, read, and watch blood and gore all day long but one of the movies that disturbs me the most is Mercury Rising.  It’s a good movie, but it makes me cringe.  The plot is excellent, the fact that a child is the target of assassination because he broke a code hits a nerve with me.  Second is Darkness Falls, again it has more to do with the children than it does the graphic nature of the film (which isn’t that graphic and I think got a raw deal from critics).  As a general rule, I try to avoid books and movies that feature violence against children, even if the violence is implied, not shown.

Now that I get to be with him for most of the week, Innocent Dreams has come to a grinding halt.  I’ll get past it, but it may take a little longer than expected.

But never fear!  I have other serial killers waiting in the wings.  I have several serial killers built and plotted out.  Their stories just need to be put to paper or rather, computer screen, and they will be done.  And the important front Cain chapters where the SCTU is dealing with the aftermath of Fortified Dreams can easily be moved to one of these other books.

So, as much as I hate to do it, Innocent Dreams will not release this year.  In its place, Flawless Dreams will be published in November.  Thankfully my stockpiling of serial killers has found a purpose and I can easily make the necessary adjustments and move on with Flawless Dreams without destroying the order of the books… because I like to have options available for just such an incident.  I didn’t know if I would ever use my emergency plan, but after writing Cannibal Dreams, I was smart enough to make one.

Oddly, now that the decision to hold off on Innocent Dreams has been made, The Dysfunctional Wedding is actually flowing at a great pace and will release October 15, 2016.  It will be followed by Flawless Dreams in November and Triggered Reality in December.  I might even make my goal of putting out Terrorific Tales this year too.

I plan to have The Dysfunctional Wedding finished in six days.  I will immediately start Flawless Dreams which has been mapped out well enough that I should have it written in two weeks.  Triggered Reality is actually half done.  I just need to add some stuff to it.  The same is true of Terrorific Tales.

However, knowing that I don’t have to write Innocent Dreams after I finish The Dysfunctional Wedding did something amazing for me.  For the first time since July 8th, I sat down at my computer and wrote 6,000 words in a single day.  I had been struggling to get 1,000.  Today, I suspect my word count will increase even more.  If I keep this pace, DW will be done in three days or less.  I can live with that.

17 Hours A Day

I’m awake on average 17 hours a day.  I’m beginning to think I either need to move to a different dimension where days are longer or sleep less, because it never seems to be enough.

I don’t know where my days go.  I mean, I can account for some of the day, but not all of it.  For example, I take an hour nap in the afternoon.  I sleep from 2 am to 8 am, sometimes 8:30 am, but that’s becoming rare.

I spend some time playing with Lola the Destroyer every day.  I spend some time helping with Jude the Great Nephew.  On Wednesdays, I go out to darts and that’s about 4 hours of my life.

However, with the rate I’m writing books, I don’t seem to be spending nearly as much time writing as I normally do.  It is taking me forever to get a few paragraphs or pages written.

Now, I realize the problem with Innocent Dreams – I’m not great with child killers to begin with, but I discovered today that it had become much harder to write since Jude the Great Nephew was born.  I don’t have a lot of maternal instincts, most would say I have zero, but I am human and it is affecting me more than Cannibal Dreams or Battered Dreams did.  It’s timing more than subject matter, so I may do some rearranging…

But I still need to get The Dysfunctional Wedding written.  I don’t know where my funny has gone; it isn’t something I normally have to work for, it just happens.  Of course, I’m never sure why people think I’m funny, which seems to make it even funnier.  So, this book has been a struggle, but I am making some progress, completely with spontaneously combusting cake and some background that the readers have never had for Nadine.

Okay, back to work.

An Assortment of Things

I have several draft blog posts started, none finished.  However, I have an assortment of things to mention, so here goes (most of this is self promotion, feel free to ignore):

  • All ebooks on my Etsy site are either $0.99 or $3.25 (freebies are unfortunately, $0.20 because I must charge the listing fee, Etsy makes me).
  • Speaking of Etsy, there is now a “Tips for Authors” Section.  You can decide how much you want to tip me from $1 to $5.  In return, you get PDF versions of 2 short stories: Talked Too Much and Donnelly Clachan.
  • I do intented to get a webpage up and running that will feature a store for ebooks & print books as well as some other stuff.  I’m not sure what the other stuff will be and I can’t offer a launch date because I hate dealing with building websites.
  • Innocent Dreams and Triggered Reality will both release before the end of this year.  The Dysfunctional Wedding will release in October.  I may do a November & December release for the other two.
  • I’m still taking opening lines, scenario prompts, twist ending prompts, and ending lines for flash fiction and short stories.  These will be turned into pieces I write and put inside Terrorific Tales.
  • I will not be able to publish a book a month next year, but my goal is still six (so every 2 months). Between health issues, Lola the Destroyer, and Jude the Great Nephew there just aren’t enough hours in a day.
  • Now for the weird one:
    • I am hosting a Jamberry party to raise money for my dart league and the Springfield dart league.  The money will be used in our charity efforts (adopting families, donating to research organizations like DD Dunlop, and if we get enough, hopefully Camp Wonderland or another organization like them.  So, if you love Jamberry and want to help, contact Trista Roberts (this will give you her Facebook contact) or shop her Jamberry Site and select “CDA Fundraiser” as the party you attended at check-out.

Now I’m off to pack and work!

A Schedule Change

I’m going to have to throw in the towel and admit some defeat.  As much as I want to release Innocent Dreams on Halloween, there’s just no way I’m going to get it done in time at this point.  So, look for a November release.

The good news is that I am track to release the first in the companion part of the Dreams & Reality series: Triggered Reality.  Expect a December release for it (unless something miraculous happens).

This comes because I got good news and bad news.  The good news is my computer will be here today.  The bad news is it is going to take me several days to get it set up.  It is going to need programs installed, files transferred onto it, and it always takes me a few days to adjust to working on a different computer… Plus the health news below is going to slow down some of the set up.

We figured out the source of my back pain: degenerative disk disease.  It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like; the disks in my spine are starting to deteriorate.  In my case, it’s hereditary and while most things seem to come from my father’s side of the family, this one may have come from my mother’s (I learned yesterday that she is the only sibling that hasn’t had back surgery or treatments for different reasons).  I can’t stop it.  I can’t fix it.  I can only slow it down and when the disks start to disappear completely, I will have to have them replaced.

At the moment, I have only one deteriorating disk.  It has gotten bad enough that it needs help.  Thankfully, we aren’t to the needing surgery point yet, but that day will probably come.  This afternoon, I start cortisone shots.  It’s two injections, directly into the disk, using a sonogram machine and a huge needle.  I’ve been told it hurts.  I’ve also been told there is a slight risk of spinal infection and leaking of spinal fluid, both of which can be a serious complication.  After the injection tomorrow, I’m not supposed to do much for 24 hours.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance, which is good, but I also know it causes me to push myself past the limits at times. Instead of risking screwing up my first treatment, I will be following doctor’s orders.

The stress on the surrounding nerves of this deteriorating disk is what is causing my lower leg pain.  It may or may not be permanent.  We will have to wait and see how the injections and therapy goes.  If it is, we have already begun discussing pain management options.  When I was sent to see this doctor, I was told he was the best in Missouri.  After talking with him today, I can see why people think so highly of him.  He spent nearly an hour in a room with me, discussing everything from what I can expect tomorrow during the injections to what I can expect twenty years from now.  We discussed treatments options for scenarios we aren’t even dealing with yet.  I found out later that he has done several back surgeries for people I know and all raved about him.  So, I feel very confident with his diagnosis and treatment plans.  Now, it’s just a matter of time.

Which brings me to part two of the current treatment plan: I have to retrain my back.  Monday, I contact a physical therapist in town that deals with disk deterioration and we began working on retraining my back as well as the way I move, in general.  There are certain things I am going to have to be careful about doing, regardless of whether the shots help or not.  One of them is lifting.  One of them is twisting.  And the big one for me, stooping.  I will also have to adapt to a new routine for typing, especially since I do so much of it.  Having a new computer will not help, but I will get used to both at the same time and that might actually be a good thing.  My posture isn’t terrible right now, but it isn’t great either.  However, the retraining is to keep me from hurting it as often as I did this year – all a symptom of the deteriorating disk that was chalked up to pulled muscles over and over again.

For the most part, I’m still processing the fact that the disks in my spine are going to fall apart and there is nothing I can do to stop it.  I can only slow it down.  Since, I have the hereditary version, the doctor said I would probably require at least one surgery on my spine before I am 55.  Strangely, 19 years doesn’t seem so far away when you are staring down that barrel.  If the injections don’t work, it will be much sooner, which doesn’t fill me with joy.  However, it’s not next week and that does make me happy.  Also, it could be worse, I know a couple of people who have degenerative spine disease, where they are actually losing the bone from their spines, and that is awful.

In Mid-September I will have a progress update on it, upcoming books, how I plan to handle next year (some of that may have to change), and maybe some more good news.

Fire & Other Things

Sometimes, a girl just needs to burn shit down.  Which has been my mood this week and a great asset to The Dysfunctional Chronicles.  The Dysfunctional Wedding has seen two buildings burn to the ground already, each in interesting ways .  It has also seen Nadine not be the center of attention for once, something I’m sure she appreciates.  It is giving her time to sit back and smile at the fact that it isn’t just her that’s cursed.  Her cousins seem to have some of it too.

Innocent Dreams is progressing nicely.  But I had to take a break from the gruesome task of killing children.  It’s the only thing that gets to me.  It’s begun invading my dreams, so I have taken to watching cutesy shows before bed.

I’m not going to make my 1 August deadline with either book, so my new one is 10 August.  If I fail to make that one, I’m running away from home for a week or so.  I’m leaving Lola, my mother, and my SO at the house and I am going to go to the campground where no person or dog can interrupt me.

Elysium Dreams is up to 89 reviews.  I’d love to see it hit 100.  Just 11 more to go and considering the number of downloads it’s been getting, it might make it before the end of August.

 

Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been very busy the last couple of days.  My SO is healing really well, which is great, because now I don’t feel bad ignoring him.

I have a plan in my head with deadlines.  And those are rushing my way faster than I could have imagined.  So, I wrote 6 chapters yesterday on Innocent Dreams and 2 on Dysfunctional Wedding.

My goal is to release both in October.  One of the nephews is getting married 15 October and I would really like to release The Dysfunctional Wedding that day…  Because I’m like that (as is my mother-in-law who gave me the idea to release it on her grandson’s wedding day).

And that’s why social media has gone silent.  I’ve been busy trying to finish both books by 1 August.  Wish me luck!

Not Done Much

Last night, I was feeling guilty as I put away laundry because I had big plans to work this week and only got a few chapters written.  As I was trying to figure out why exactly I hadn’t achieved my goals, I turned and saw this lying on the clothes basket:

Shirt

Oh it could have been so much worse and I know that.  But looking at his burned shirt, I realized exactly why I hadn’t accomplished my goals this week.

It isn’t the nurse-maid stuff, that I can do in my sleep.  It’s because every time I unwrap those wounds to apply cream and redress them, all I can think about is how much worse it could have been.  The wounds he has are bad enough.  They hurt.  The big one on his chest is still missing most of the skin.  And that left side… The sleeve really is missing, it’s not tucked into the shirt or hidden beneath, it’s just gone.  Most of it melted.  Only the top seam was left.

According to my sleep monitor on my CPAP, I’m only getting about 2 1/2 hours a night.  Not because I’m not going to bed, although there is some of that, but because I’m awake a half dozen times at night.  I keep dreaming that I have flopped over in my sleep and hit him with a flailing hand.  I even do it when I nap and he isn’t in bed with me.

I find myself checking on him all the time.  Does he need anything?  Is he taking his pain meds?  Did he remember to eat before he did?

Then when I finally do set down to write, after he’s gone to bed, I’m exhausted from a lack of sleep and Lola, who doesn’t like to play with me the way she does with him, suddenly wants to play because she has all this pent up energy.  So, instead of writing, I spend an hour or two playing with her.  By the time I get back to the computer to write, I can’t think of anything to put on the paper.

I don’t consider myself an emotionally driven person, but this week, everything has been about emotions, knee-jerk reactions, and when he does make me stop handling him with kid gloves, something happens and one of the burns gets hit or something and the kid gloves have to go back on, regardless of how he feels about them.

 

Innocent Dreams – Realizations

While working on Innocent Dreams I have realized two things:

  1. I have a very hard time writing about child killers.
  2. Aislinn Cain should never ever be put in charge of a case, especially when her underlings are Caleb Green, Xavier Reece, and one other (but that’s a surprise for the book).  I gave her just a smidge of authority and she’s annoying the crap out of the FBI.  Telling people exactly what she thinks all the time, which is sooo not polite.  And the three men she’s working with are just letting her do it.

Of course, some of her very dark humor has come out as a result.  Caleb and Xavier keep making comments that they aren’t telling her what she can and cannot do.  And poor Gabriel is on the opposite side of the country hoping that he doesn’t have to answer a lot of questions to the controlling board of the SCTU by the time they wrap up their case in California and join the others in Maryland.

A Work Update

One of the things that indies have to stay on top of are deadlines.  There is no one behind us, pushing us to get things done, there is no one going if it isn’t on my desk by tomorrow, we’re going to pull the book, etc.  We have to impose these on ourselves and then follow through with them.

My deadlines are fast approaching.  I have to have three books to proofers and editors by in August.  Where am I on these three books?  Well, let’s just say I’m not holding any ticker tape parades for completing them in the near future.

Lola the Destroyer and Writing Buddy hasn’t been helping.  It’s hard to type with a sixty pound dog between you and the keyboard.  Lately, she’s been determined to sleep on my lap while I try to work.  And occasionally, I have go through and fix paragraphs of her typing as her legs flail in her sleep.

Also, I’ve been giving thought to Elysium Dreams the audiobook.  It’s about an $8,000 project.  It would require two narrators – 1 for the overall story and 1 for the killer’s chapters – and as the second longest book in the series, will be approximately 13 hours of audio.  A good narrator is going to run about $600 a finished hour, but since that narrator is going to have to give money to a second narrator for some of the chapters, certain chapters are no doubt going to be much higher.  I wish I had $8,000 lying around because I feel Elysium Dreams is perfect and would make a great audiobook.  Plus the demand for it is starting to rise.  If someone were to offer me a contract just on audiobooks, I’d take it.  So far, no one has, so I continue to try and think of the most cost effective way to make it happen.

 

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