A Series of Strange Events

Last Tuesday afternoon, I got a tension headache. It bothered me all afternoon and night. I woke up Wednesday and still had it. Despite using the massager and multiple Salonpas patches on my back. Wednesday afternoon it got so bad I was vomiting. So I took a muscle relaxer and went to bed for a couple of hours. When I woke up from my nap it was better but not gone. I decided to color my hair, because a lot of times massaging the color into my hair will seriously help a tension migraine.

So, I put the color on about 6 and when it came time to wash it out, I used water as hot as I could stand it. After my shower, it was still there. I broke out the massager again. It helped a little more. I begged my mom to beat on the muscle causing it, which felt like I had surgically implanted a marble under my skin. My mom agreed and sorta karate chopped on that spot and the muscles around it for twenty minutes or so.

At 10 pm it finally went away. Thank goodness. And with it gone, I decided I wanted to write. I booted the laptop and opened all the unfinished D&R books I had, but didn’t write on any of them. I almost gave up but decided to see what would happen if I opened a blank document. At 12:30 am, I had written the first killer chapter, 4 regular chapters, and the second killer chapter.

I’ve really struggled to get into Aislinn’s frame of mind lately. I got up Thursday morning, opened the document, looked at the second killer chapter I’d written and wasn’t sure about it. So I took the chapter and sent it to a couple of people to get their opinions and then I went back to writing. When I looked up, I had four more chapters and it was lunch time. I bashed out another 4 chapters by 5 pm on Thursday.

By Friday, I knew I was making good progress, but I hadn’t checked my writing targets or anything. I had 19 chapters by the end of the workday on Friday. Saturday morning, I got up and between 8:30am and 11:00am, I wrote another 3 chapters. At 11 I had to go to the grocery store, I planned to make lasagna to take to some friends’ house Saturday night.

I returned to writing about 2pm on Saturday afternoon, I had 2 hours to write before I had to get up and cook the gluten free lasagna noodles. I was working outside. My parent in-laws showed up for a quick visit and after they left, I immediately started writing again. Then at 3:30, I looked down at the bottom of my writing program… I have a “writing target” for every book of 75,000 words and my writing program keeps a counter at the bottom of it. I looked at that counter for the first time 6,200 of 34,585 words written. What? Ok, something went wrong with my writing target. I opened it up… And I just stared at it for a few minutes. Then I took a picture of it. Since Wednesday night at 10pm, I had written 40,615 words. I was averaging 1,451 words an hour.

Competitive Dreams is going to end up much longer than 75,000 words. I’m on chapter 22 with more than 43,000 words written and I am definitely not at the halfway point. It’s probably going to end up longer than Fortified or Tortured which are the two longest books in the series to date. And like Fortified Dreams, there isn’t a “single killer.” As the name implies someone has reopened the serial killer club and they are holding a tournament in Kansas City. Some fan favorite serial killers have returned, some to help the SCTU, some to hinder it.

Upcoming

Today’s premium content post will post tomorrow, I messed up the dates on it.

However, let me tell you something I have in the works right now. I set goals for myself as a writer every year. I do this because it isn’t like I am working towards a promotion or anything, since I work for myself; I don’t know how I would give myself a promotion or any other achievement reward. But studies show people are more “productive” at work when they have goals to reach, as long as the goals are attainable. Previous years’ goals have included things such as learn to market myself and my books better.

The past couple of years, I have taken a few master classes to build my writing skills. In 2021, I set the goal that I would take at least 6 classes to improve my writing skills and have signed up for 3 already. The difference is all my previous classes have been passive, two of this year’s classes (so far) are interactive, meaning I have homework and must participate in class. The three classes I have signed up for in April/May involve a class on writing better horror, how to write a romantic mystery, and how to construct a plot twist. Someone else was nice enough to sign me up and pay for writing romantic mysteries… I can’t imagine I will write a romantic mystery after finishing the class, but it’s interactive so I will have homework. This homework will benefit my readers! As I will release it as premium content

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Children

Jude is almost 5. He’s in a dinosaur phase. And living with Kilian who is a year old, Kilian is fascinated by Jude’s dinosaur toys and noises. I have been in a Jurassic Park kick lately and couldn’t figure out why… and then it hit me. To most adults dinosaurs are just extinct animals. They were and now they aren’t and on any given day they never cross our minds. But having a toddler in my life that is still into dinosaurs, has reminded me how cool dinosaurs are. And I hated the book Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton, so I keep returning to Jurassic Park and the sequel The Lost World (This includes the books and all 5 Jurassic movies).

And every time a dinosaur is mentioned that I can’t immediately picture, I look it up to refresh my memory, because like Jude I had a dinosaur phase. Decades ago, before I learned I actually hate being in the dirt I struggled to decide whether I wanted to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist. Then in high school, I got to do a mock archaeological dig and that made me realize I wanted to do neither. I loved “researching” the artifacts and fake bones in our archaeological dig, but I hated actually uncovering them. I even garden in gloves whenever possible.

Sadly like me. unless Jude finds a love for dirt, he will have a fascination with dinosaurs most of his life, but they will never be a career because last year when Jude decided to help me plant my garden, he wouldn’t dig in the dirt with more than a single finger because in his words “the dirt is gross.” Coming from a 4 1/2 year old it was funny, don’t get me wrong, but it was also weird, his mom has encouraged him to play in the dirt and get dirty when it’s appropriate and yet, “it’s gross.”

But I learned something interesting while looking up the Apatosaurus to remind me of what it looked like. Growing up, I learned about the brontosaurus and then it just ceased to be: it was a mistake, a misidentified animal that had already been classified during the dino wars of the 1800s. However, when I searched for the Apatosaurus the other day I found a National Geographic article about the return of the Brontosaurus to the dinosaur world. The article was dated 2015; and re-examination of the fossil record has returned the Brontosaurus to the modern world, which is nice for all those kids that grew up watching Little Foot in The Land Before Time.

And now, I need to go ask Jude his favorite dinosaur. I have two: the ankylosaurs for herbivores and the carnotaurus for carnivores. I also like the more commonly dinosaurs triceratops, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, tyrannosaurus, and Pachycephalosaurs (these are the ones in the movies that ram their heads against things).

Soon hopefully he’ll be old enough to be traumatized by the Jurassic Park movie.

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes… F*CK*NG QuickBooks

I have less than a month to get my 2020 taxes filed and … My Monday was spent dealing with issues related to QuickBooks. I spent 4 hours trying to “fix” my company file, which QuickBooks refused to open because it was damaged. I did as instructed and downloaded QuickBooks Tool Hub and set about fixing my company file for 4 damn hours… At which point, I contacted QuickBooks technical support who informed me the file couldn’t be fixed because it wasn’t broken. They had me uninstall QuickBooks and reinstall it and it opened the file. Needless to say, at the end of day 1; I had a terrible headache. Now the question I know you’re wondering about: why am I not completing my QuickBooks paperwork at the end of every month, like I should be.

In order to do my 2019 taxes, I had to scramble to reconcile every month of 2019 because it had magically un-reconciled when I went to get my paperwork together. I actually was doing pretty good in 2020 and then in August I logged on to complete my monthly paperwork and the program refused to work. I unistalled it, I reinstalled it, I looked online for troubleshooting tips for my problem, and finally I gave in and upgraded to the 2020 version. At this point, the program worked, but I didn’t have enough space on my hard drive to run Windows and QuickBooks… I have a double hard drive system and it’s not a partitioned drive, it is 2 completely different drives. And so I couldn’t just re-partitioned my C to give it more space. And then I got busy preparing audiobook scripts for Tortured Dreams, Elysium Dreams, Mercurial Dreams, Natural Born Exorcist, Oh My Wizard, and Demon Boxes.

I was going to do it in January, but my right eye stopped compensating for my left and my computer screen became blurry… so now I have 4 months of QuickBooks work to complete so I can get my taxes done. For the record, I despise QuickBooks with every ounce of my being.

Anyway, don’t be surprised if I’m not around much this week as a result. I will be doing tax paperwork and dealing with QuickBooks.

I also expect a few days next week will be a wash as I am scheduled for my second COVID vaccination on the 22nd.

One A Year

I was five chapters into a new D&R book when I hit a brick wall. This happens from time to time and it’s more likely to happen with D&R than the other series(es) I write. It’s triggered by the severity of Aislinn Cain’s character. As a non-standard character, there isn’t much room for growth and expansion with her. And I as the writer feel very strongly about the subject of the D&R novel I started writing, which made my personal feelings incongruitous with Aislinn’s. Also with as much as I enjoy a good crime novel, I occasionally get bored writing D&R. And so, I made a decision after staring at the title page of Chapter 6 for half an hour.

After publishing 17 D&R novels, sometimes with multiples a year in order to prevent me from pulling a stunt like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did or Agatha Christie did, I am only going to publish one D&R novel a year at Halloween. I like to experiment and improve my skills. Strangely, I also really enjoy writing series and the two desires sometimes end up battling each other.

This means you can expect the next D&R novel to release Halloween 2021. However, before you panic remember that there is a Nephilim Narratives undergoing the first round of edits and March 23, 2021 the revised audiobook version of Tortured Dreams will release. The revised ebook and paperback Tortured Dreams will release in late June 2021.

I actually think that starting this year I’m going to move to 1 book per series per year, meaning you will get one Nephilim Narrative in 2021, one Dysfunctional Chronicle in 2021, and one D&R novel in 2021, and if I publish anything else, it won’t be in any of my established series. I believe this will make me happy as well as keep me from prematurely killing Aislinn Cain, Soleil Burns, or Nadine Daniels.

Podcasts

A couple of people have asked me what True Crime Podcasts I listen to. I decided a blogpost with a list was the easiest way to answer this.

Podcasts I never Miss:

  • The Murder Squad
  • Crime Junkie
  • RedHanded
  • Affirmative Murder
  • Fruit Loops
  • Red Collar
  • Dark Arenas
  • Unraveled The Long Island Serial Killer (Billy Jensen & Alexis Linkletter)
  • The Forgotten

Podcasts I sometimes Listen To:

  • Medical Murders
  • Casefile
  • True Crime Garage (I love Nic, but sometimes his co-host annoys me and I have to turn off the episode before it finishes)
  • Park Predators
  • Hell & Gone
  • The Vanished
  • True Crime Chronicles

The podcasts on the first list, I have to do something other than write when I listen to them because I can’t concentrate on working while listening. The ones on the Sometimes list I can write while listening.