When It’s Done

Yesterday, I had a long discussion about achievements with my BFF.  I will immediately point out that any discussion between her and I; whether it be important or nonsense, is treated the same.  We are the kind of people that can have deep, meaningful conversations about the strangest things.

This means that when we do discuss matters of importance, it is a bit of a information dump.  We both work in fields dominated by men – she’s in computer security and my books have been classified as horror by just about every major advertising company I’ve used as well as some of my readers.

The subject of achievements came up.  We realized rather quickly that what women consider achievements are much different than what most men consider achievements.  Let me provide you with examples from both of our jobs:

  • She fills out a daily report with her accomplishments, areas that need improvement, daily tasks, etc.  One day, she had zero accomplishments, because everything she had accomplished was essentially her job, so they went under daily tasks.  To me, that makes sense.  Her boss was concerned however, because the male assessment forms listed multiple achievements for each day.  Upon closer inspection, it was basically a checklist for getting their daily tasks accomplished.  To me, completing daily tasks is not an achievement, it’s a job requirement.
  • It’s fairly rare for me to post a daily word count.  Word counts aren’t really achievements for me, they are the daily tasks of my job.  Then I remembered several weeks ago that a male writer friend of mine had in fact done a blog post about his accomplishment of writing 10,000 words in a single day.  Which is good, but that’s about my average when I’m really engrossed in what I’m writing, so to me, that didn’t feel like much of an achievement.  It felt like a daily task… You have to add words every day (and delete them) to move a book along if you’re the author.

So what did we qualify as achievements became our next topic.

  • For her it was the big stuff; passing a SANS certification, being asked to do a web demonstration on her ultra-cool crimeware detection tools, completing projects, etc.  Nothing that is ordinary, everyday stuff.
  • For me, achievements are getting the cover art done, sending a book to the editor, finalizing it for print, and publishing it.  Everything else, I just consider part of the job. I sat down one day and wrote 17,000 words.  I got a lot done, but it didn’t feel all that important.  In other words, I wouldn’t consider it an achievement.  I did break my previous record for most words in a single day, but even that doesn’t feel like an achievement.

I’m sure there is a psychology behind it, but I’m less certain what exactly it is.  Do women just not feel they should take credit for doing their daily job?  Or for some reason, do women devalue achievements that men value?  I don’t know.  Someone should study it in depth.

Not me, I have been a busy bee and I have an achievement to share.  Triggered Reality is completely done… all the editing, all the beta reading, all the uploading to different sites, all the checking and double checking that I didn’t screw something up in the formatting, etc.  It’s finished and ready to be read by the masses or at least the people that like/love the Dreams novels.

I’ll take the next few days to clear it from my mind and then I’ll get back into Flawless Dreams.  Still expecting a May release date for it.  It is surprisingly on schedule.

 

Time in the D&R novels

Time is always fuzzy in the Dreams & Reality novels.  This is intentional, Aislinn can’t keep track of it.  However, with Triggered Reality about to release, I decided to give some firm dates.  You will notice they don’t always match what Aislinn gives, primarily because Aislinn never has a clue how old she is, let alone someone else.

  • November 1966 – Isabella Clachan born
  • February 1969 – Eric Clachan born
  • September 1972 – Nyleena Clachan is born
  • July 1984 – Aislinn Clachan born
  • 1988 – AHEAD is formed by Donnelly Clachan & several others
  • 1992 – Mr. Callow kidnaps Aislinn
  • 1996 – Isabella and Donnelly Clachan are killed in a domestic dispute
  • 1996 – Elle gives birth to Cassie
  • 1997 – Eric marries Elle
  • 1999 – Eric Clachan becomes a mass murderer
  • 1999 – Elle gives birth to Ace’s Nephew (whose name I have once again lost)
  • 2000 – Aislinn changes her last name from Clachan to Cain to avoid the stigma she perceives around it
  • 2001 – SCTU & VCU are formed
  • 2002 – LA Serial Killer Massacre
  • 2004 – Uprising at the Pit leads to the death of the Warden & Rebuild
  • 2004 – Malachi Blake joins the VCU
  • 2005 – Caleb Green joins the VCU
  • 2006 – Malachi Blake becomes the head of the VCU
  • 2008 – Lucas & Xavier join the SCTU
  • 2010 – Tortured Dreams
  • 2013 – Fortified Dreams

Now, to clarify some errors in Tortured Dreams: The first editor to go through this did a lot of changing that I didn’t notice until much, much later (track changes was not used on them and I have trouble reading what I is actually on the page if I wrote it because my mind reads what it thinks is going to be there).  Errors that I now can’t fix because the audiobook exists.

  • Eric & Alex are the same person – I have no idea why the editor changed the name to Alex.
  • Isabella was not younger than Eric, she was always older.  It says she was 31 when she was killed.  She was actually 30.  She wasn’t married, but she did have three children with a life partner.
  • Eric was not 33 at the time of Isabella’s death, he was 27.  He was not married at the time and he didn’t have four children.  Elle was pregnant with their first (Cassie) when Isabella and Donnelly were murdered.
  • Eric did live at home when Aislinn was kidnapped by Callow because he was attending the University of Missouri, but he was not 15, he was almost 23.
  • Isabella did not live at home when Ace was kidnapped, she came home during the search for her.
  • Aislinn doesn’t have many memories of Isabella because Isabella moved out before she was born.  However, because Eric lived at home during college, Aislinn did have a good relationship with her brother, despite the age difference.
  • Aislinn is a menopause baby.

Hope that clarifies some of the wishy-washy crap that developed because of the errors in Tortured Dreams.

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.

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.

What is Triggered Reality & Terrorific Tales?

I’ve had a couple of people ask me what the two newest books coming out are.  Sometimes, descriptions are intriguing, but they don’t explain the book and I get that better than most.  So here’s my take on them.

Triggered Reality is the start of the Dreams & Reality novels.  It tells two stories about two killers, both linked by time and a series of events.  The first is Eric Clachan the day he took aim and got justice for the murders of Donnelly and Isabella.  It also provides some insight into his early days in custody.  The second is what’s known as a random shooter serial killer.  However, he’s important because he’s the first case worked by the SCTU.  All the Reality novels will be told from the serial killer’s point of view. (I can only stay inside the head of a psychopath in small bursts, which is why these become serial killer books not Malachi Blake books)

Terrorific Tales is a hodge podge of short stories and flash fiction pieces.  Some are horror, some are humorous, it just depended on my mood when I wrote it.  A handful were prompts given to me by readers.  There’s also an Aislinn story, a Nadine story, and a Callie Strachan story in it.

Finally, I’m working on a book of monster and ghost stories.  I got the cover for it a week ago and love it.  Another masterpiece by Covered Creatively!Haunted house

Preorder Links: Triggered Reality & Terrorific Tales

Terrorific Tales by Hadena James

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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.

 

A Year in Review

I’ve been thinking a great deal about why I’m not yet done with Flawless Dreams.  I should be, but I’m not.  It got me thinking about everything that happened this year and honestly, it was trying.

For those that don’t know, Fortified Dreams was written by the end of January 2016.  It’s a good thing or it probably wouldn’t have released.

I started Botox for migraines, which has helped considerably with the number of migraine days as well as how severe they are.  However, it also had an odd down side.  It had been so long since I had long stretches of time without a migraine, that I didn’t know quite how to function.  I know that sounds weird, but seriously, I went from fighting through migraines almost daily to not having but about 15 days a month with one.  So on the days I didn’t have them, it was like “oh, what is this?  What do I do since I’m not thinking my way around the pain?  Can I even function like this?”  I’m still getting used to it and I panic easier about a headache.  Because headaches trigger migraines.  So I get a little stressed and suddenly, I’m dropping everything because now I know what it’s like to not have a migraine every day and I absolutely do not want that headache becoming one.  My neurologist has told me this is normal, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

From August 2016 to November 2017, I dealt with the chronic leg pain.  Was it a vitamin deficiency?  No, those were coming back normal.  It wasn’t a circulation problem.  Physical therapy didn’t help.  I was on narcotics and then off of them more times than I could count and the only time I had any relief was when I was popping Percocet… The tramadol sucked for pain.  Then I was told there was nothing wrong with them…

So, now I’m crazy and possibly a drug addict.  I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug addicts.  That scared me more than you could imagine.  Was I really not in pain but craving the narcotics, so my mind was making up the pain?  Should I talk to someone about rehab?  I didn’t feel like an addict, but does an addict know they’re an addict?  I already know the answer to that one, which terrified me even more.

I was literally having nightmares where I checked myself into rehab and then threw a clot in my leg because it turned out the vascular tests were wrong.  And nightmares where I checked myself into a mental health facility because I was imaging that I was in pain and it had to be a mental problem.  Then there were nightmares where I would dream my spine had broken doing something and I’d wake up in so much pain, I could barely move.

Yet, I was crazy, because the things that were wrong with me were all minor things and I have a high level of pain tolerance.  I spent two months thinking I had lost my mind and the pain wasn’t real.  I had been duped by my own brain into thinking the SI joint injections had worked then and they really hadn’t done anything because there was nothing for it to work on.

Then came the incident with Fentanyl.  I got it at the ER in Hannibal.  In both an IV and a 72-hour patch.  I hallucinated.  I projectile vomited.  I was incoherent.  Only after yanking the patch off after less than 24 hours and sleeping for 18, did I feel any better and then it was only slightly better.  It took five days to recover from that.  NEVER again will I take Fentanyl.

Now, I’m crazy and nearly died due to Fentanyl.  How fucking fantastic is that?

Until I finally got a diagnosis: arthritis of the hips and SI joints leading to nerve inflammation at the base of my spine.  Specifically the nerves that truncate in my lower legs.  The doctor told me it was as if someone had stabbed me in the base of my spine and we had just left the blade in to continue to do damage, because it went untreated for so long.

Oh my god!  I’m not crazy.  I’m not a drug addict.  My brain is not making up this pain.  It really exists and they can do something about it!

I got another round of better targeted injections and wow!  What a difference that made… The pain is almost zero all the time.  My legs start to bother me after lots of activity, but they don’t just hurt all the time anymore.  And the popping that I was experiencing every time I walked, which was a painful pop and grind, is just gone.  I haven’t had it happen since the injections.

I can do stuff again.  Stuff I enjoy.  And I am so happy about it I could do a jig.  I even went dancing.  It was fantastic.  The next day, I was a little sore, but I was not crying on my couch because I hurt so bad.  Now, I have muscle soreness from time to time, but that is nothing like the pain I was experiencing in my legs and that soreness actually makes me feel better because it means that I’m using muscles I haven’t for over a year.

Besides, there were problems that I’m not even going to discuss on my blog.  No one needs to know how bad my mental and physical state had gotten.  I will admit that I became depressed because I was always in pain and believed I was crazy.

Yes, I’m behind on Flawless Dreams and it is looking slimmer and slimmer that I will get it done by the end of the year.  For that, I am very sorry.

However, I feel better, physically and mentally than I have for over a year now.  I’m still working on the depression and since I can’t take antidepressants, that’s been difficult, but my mood has been picking up now that the pain has stopped.  Slowly, but surely, I am returning to normal.

I hope that is a large enough achievement for my readers.  I promise Triggered Dreams will release on time (January 2017).  I promise Flawless Dreams will release soon, I just don’t have an exact date.  It needs some serious work because a lot of what I wrote is marred by pain and pain meds.  I go back and try to fix it, but I think that just makes it worse.  It might be one of the few books that need more than one draft.

Personally, I’m a little disappointed in myself.  I had big plans for this year and 2017, but I failed to accomplish this year’s goals and I am going to have to scale back my plans for 2017.

It Isn’t All Bad

So, I’ve spent most of the last two months apologizing for missing deadlines and whining about my pain.  However, it hasn’t all been bad.  As a matter of fact, some amazing things have happened:

  • I officially started Hadena James Publishing, LLC.  All the final paperwork is in the mail and the bank account gets started next week.  I finally got there. – And for a writer, I realize that wasn’t terribly creative naming.  🙂
  • I was invited to join the Horror Writers’ Association.  This is really cool.  I didn’t go looking to join the HWA, one of their active members is a reader of mine and sent me the invite.  Meaning some writer that is more important than me in horror writing circles reads my books!  Feeling a little star-struck by that.
  • I have been asked by a couple of teachers/professors to come talk to their creative writing classes. Most of the requests came because they found my blog and started reading what I had to say about writing, traditional v. indie publishing, and understanding the commitments required to be a writer, regardless of how you publish.  I’m really excited to talk to young people who want to write about one of my favorite things!
  • Flashpoint Designs began creating my custom dart shirt.  It seems like such a small thing, but I wanted something that reflected my love of darts as well as my love of writing and since I like to write things that are a little dark…we went with cutesy creepy.  I can’t wait to show it off!
  • I got asked if I would be willing to give a talk to a group of women interested in history!  This is a huge deal for me.  I don’t get a lot of recognition for things (books or degrees… especially degrees), so for someone to consider my knowledge worth sharing just blows me away.  It’s even more amazing that it’s history stuff because I’m pretty sure there are like 100 people that know I have a history degree and most of them are my readers!  And history is one of the few things I’m as passionate about as writing.
  • The first 3 Dreams & Reality novels have new covers that fit more with the rest of the series.  Covered Creatively is working on The Dysfunctional Wedding cover, Flawless Dreams wrap, and Triggered Reality full wrap cover.
  • I made nearly as much in June, July, and August of 2016 as I did the entire year of 2015.  I have nearly doubled sales every year; this year, I might do more than double which is great!  Thanks everyone for reading and bearing with me this year as I have sorta fallen apart and not written as much as normal.  Next year will be back on track, I promise.
  • But I’m not done for this year.  I still have plans to publish in October, November, and December – no hard dates for any of it yet, but they will be coming soon.  Getting my pain under control is going to help a great deal with my ability to stay focused long enough to figure out a plot.

So, despite the problems, I’m still having some great things happen and I need to remind myself once in awhile about it.  🙂

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.

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