Insecurities Abound!

I’ve been pretty down in the dumps, guys. A real sophomore slump. Let me explain. My prelude novella, Blood in the Past (released this time last year), did pretty well. No one really had a bad word to say about it. I was proud of myself…and then terror set in.

Last year, as I was editing and revising the full-length follow-up to Past, Blood in the Paint, I began to worry that it wouldn’t measure up, that my creative prowess had a quota and I had used up everything in my reserve to write Blood in the Past. As a result, I hit the Publish button on Blood in the Paint a few months ago with closed eyes. I dragged my feet with the paperback edition. I haven’t sent out many review copies, and I haven’t done much promotion. I’m subconsciously forcing myself, and my Blood for Blood series, to fade into oblivion. I’m making my own nightmare, of my sophomore release not measuring up, a reality. Or am I?

When the news of Blood in the Paint’s release broke, I had an immediate spike in sales. I might have been able to capitalize on those numbers had I done some promoting. After I ordered my first shipment of Blood in the Paint paperbacks, I almost sold out of them…and I still have two events to do this week. And the reviews? The reviews have been pretty awesome. There are only nine so far (actually, as I’m writing this, a TENTH popped up!), none of which were written by me or hubby-pants, but they are all FIVE-STAR. Every single one of them. My mother-in-law, who awarded Blood in the Past with a three-star review, is raving about Paint. As is my father-in-law, who keeps asking how the next book will unfold. My niece even forgot about her “ghetto reality shows” (her words, not mine), because she’d been so caught-up in reading it. You guys don’t know my niece, but that’s probably the best compliment I could have received, short of something from Gillian Flynn herself.

So what’s the problem? Why haven’t I really written anything since April, when I went on a writing retreat, where there was nothing to do BUT write? I still feel unworthy, I still feel talentless, I still feel like everyone’s compliments are a fluke. Then I read a recent review of Blood in the Paint written by Ileandra Young. You can read the full review here, but the part I want to point out is when she mentioned a Facebook status where she posted, “Soooooooooo that feeling of inadequacy you feel while reading a fellow indie author’s novel then returning to your own WIP.” Guys, I actually remembered that status, I even Liked it because I knew the feeling. Turns out, she was talking about Blood in the Paint. Words cannot thank her enough for sharing that with her followers and blog readers and, most importantly, me. Between that and the pep talk hubby-pants gave me recently (more on that in another post, I think), I might be ready to write again. At the very least, I might be ready to begin my medico-legal research to make sure my next book, Blood in the Paper, is on the right track.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this week, which happens to be the one-year anniversary of Blood in the Past’s publication. To celebrate (and get back into promoting for the love of everything sacred and holy), Blood in the Past will be FREE on Wednesday, June 18th, and Blood in the Paint will be dropped to $1.99 today through Friday, June 20th. If you haven’t read them yet, now is the time to do so. Because, I’ve been down in the dumps and sales will make me feel better. ;-)

Jerks & Irks LXII: The Pros and Cons of a Writing Retreat

Well, folks, I’m back from the weekend writing retreat in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I am happy to say I was pretty productive. I regret to say I don’t know if I’ll do another one. What? I know. Crazy talk. But let’s break the experience down a bit, shall we?

PROS:

  • I was very productive. I wrote over 10,000 words between Friday night, when we checked in, and Saturday evening. It came out to be about fourteen ‘bare bones’ chapters. I wrote so much I had to stop early. While the other ladies were still typing away, I buried my face in my Kindle. Check out was early on Sunday morning and I left even earlier than that, without so much as cracking open my laptop. I had nothing else left in me.
  • It’s easy to write when everyone else around you is writing. I currently write full-time and aim for at least a thousand words a day when I write. But some days I don’t feel like it and some days Hubby-pants comes home early. Other days, there are shows clogging up the DVR that require my attention. But when there are five other people, arduously working, the television is off, etc., there’s really nothing to do but write or risk feeling like an ass. Even though I had nothing left to do by 9pm on Saturday, I still felt a little like an ass when I curled up on the couch with my Kindle.
  • The surroundings are inspirational. Not only was the cottage about twenty feet from the water, not only was there a beautiful view from the main window, not only was there a lovely gas fireplace, but the cottage itself was nice and clean. Why does that matter? It just created a sense of “not a care in the world.” When I’m home, even though I could strictly dedicate two full days to writing and vow not to turn on the TV or surf the internet, the environment isn’t always very appealing. The stains in the carpet. The cats in the hallway throwing up hairballs. The dishes in the sink. The cars driving by. My dumbass neighbor, Tool Time, clamoring away at some home project. These things aren’t inspirational, no matter how nicely my desk is set up.

CONS:

  • There was NO WiFi. My phone barely had enough reception to send texts to my husband. I’m sure there are other locales with WiFi available, but this past weekend, not having WiFi was a drag. Not because I missed scrolling through Facebook (okay, maybe I missed that a little bit), but because writing psychological/crime fiction takes a lot of research. When I arrived at the cottage, I had less than a thousand words written of the next book, Blood in the Paper. I had a general storyline, but I hadn’t done any research yet. I do research as I go, as questions arise. Without WiFi, I was forced to keep writing without knowing if my characters’ surroundings, circumstances, and decisions were even plausible. I ended up stopping on Saturday evening because I refused to go any further without knowing if I was on the right track, if my story was realistic. Before I picked up my Kindle, I read through what I had written so far and jotted down any questions that popped into my head. When all was said and done, I had SEVEN notebook pages of questions that needed answering! Now, do you see why I stopped? The worst case scenario is I have to scrap all the work I did over the weekend and start over and that really grinds my gears, guys.
  • I don’t write like everyone else. I already knew that I don’t fancy writing to music. Instead, I prefer writing with TV reruns on in the background as white noise. At the retreat, however, everyone was fine writing in silence. This drove me nuts. The sound of six people click-clacking away at their keyboards for hours on end was like an auditory form of torture that I think they should experiment with at Guantanamo. On Saturday afternoon, one of the women mentioned she was going for a walk on the beach and I couldn’t put my shoes on fast enough to join her, to hear gentle waves instead of incessant typing for just a few minutes. When we returned from the walk, I found the sound of typing even more jarring and had to sit outside for a little while so I didn’t overturn furniture in a rage of irritation. Why didn’t I just force myself to listen to music, you ask? Because I don’t have any songs stored on my phone or laptop; I love streaming too much. And without WiFi or proper cell phone reception, I couldn’t stream a damn thing.
  • I really did feel like an ass when I couldn’t write anymore. As inspirational as the surroundings and the company proved to be, I don’t like being judged for not writing. At home, there are no judgments. If I want to stop to watch an hour of TV, I can. If I want to catch some of the Final Four games, or watch the Yankees for a bit, I can. There, like I said above, you feel like an ass if you stop writing. I actually had to explain myself to someone when I picked up my Kindle in lieu of my laptop. Mind you, the person wasn’t accusatory when they asked if I was “done for the night” or whatever, but a small part of me resented being asked.
  • People have different sleep schedules. After the whole No WiFi thing, this probably bothered me the most. I slept in the living room, on an air mattress beside the fireplace. It was very cozy and I enjoyed not having to share a room with anyone else (I’m a very light sleeper, even with ear plugs). However, I did not enjoy having to wake up at 7am on both Saturday and Sunday. Not that I’m the type of person to sleep until noon, but I normally wake up at 8 or 9am. I think that’s respectable. Then, even though I was tired later in the day, I had to watch everyone else be able to retreat to their rooms to nap whereas I didn’t have any such option, being set up in the living room. At night, I felt like I was kicking people out when I began setting up my bed to go to sleep. I felt like they wanted to keep writing. Again, I felt judged for wanting to call it a day a little before midnight. Now, I understand that these complaints are probably the sole result of having been the one who slept in the living room, but had I shared a room with someone else, you would have seen that listed here under ‘cons’ instead. I would have been the one waking up whoever was in the living room, or the person sharing the room with me would have woken me up. I would have been the one who wanted everyone to be quiet while I was taking a nap. I would have been the one who felt put out when the living room sleeper set up their air mattress. So you see, there’s no winning when it comes to sleep schedules.

All in all, I’ll summarize the experience like this: My first weekend writing retreat was quite possibly very productive (only time and research will tell), but the arrangements themselves were a bit uncomfortable. Will I do it again? Not sure. Maybe when I start the last book in the Blood for Blood Series, I’ll venture out again to get a 10,000 word head start. But I will only go if there’s WiFi and I have my own room. ;-)

 

BLOOD IN THE PAINT May Be LIVE…But There’s Still No Rest for the Weary!

As many of you know, Blood in the Paint was released this past Monday. I regret to say I didn’t announce it with much fanfare, though. I was tired! I was tired of the revisions, the edits, the read-throughs, and the delays. But the e-book is finally available, with the paperback soon to follow, and I wish I could say I was looking forward to some down time.

Despite the following picture, I’m not…

cottages

Today I’m heading out to a cabin near Rehoboth Beach, DE to partake in a writing retreat with several ladies from the South Jersey Writers Group. If you remember the last chapter title I mentioned in the Table of Contents Teasers post, you’ll recall that the next book in the Blood for Blood Series will be entitled Blood in the Paper. (You’ll have to read Blood in the Paint to really ‘get’ the title, sorry!) So, that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend! I already drew out some mind maps for each of the main characters, a returning character from Blood in the Past, and a NEW character. I’ve listed the events of the storyline in order using Scrivener’s corkboard tool. AND–this is the most exciting part–I’ve already written the opening scene! Squeee!

I’ve never been on a writing retreat before, but I’m confident I’ll be able to put out a sizable word count. Have any of you been on a retreat like this before? Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint is available on Amazon for the Kindle and Kindle app. Download a copy today; it makes a great weekend read!

The First Review of BLOOD IN THE PAINT is IN!!!

It has barely been a week since I sent out the ARCs of Blood in the Paint, but I’ve already received my first review. I am very thankful to Peter “Peppa” Germany for his support, his enthusiasm, and his friendship (which, by the way, he goes out of his way to mention didn’t have any bearing on his review!).

Here are some of the highpoints:

I’ve been waiting for this novel since I read it’s prequel, Blood In The Past (http://petergermany.com/2013/07/24/book-review-blood-in-the-past-by-jordanna-east/)

Now you don’t have to read the prequel novella before reading Blood In The Paint but I would recommend it. As I read Blood In The Paint I did have some moments when I said ‘Oh Sh*T!’ because I recognised something from the prequel.

Blood In The Paint is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I knocked this novel out in five days or so, I would have read it quicker but I’m a slow reader and I needed sleep. As I read through the pages I was getting more and more sucked into it, each page demanded that I turn it and when I got to the end of a chapter I couldn’t scroll the screen down quick enough to continue with the story.

The characters have a strong depth to them which is clear from the start of the novel but as you progress through it that depth is revelled and fleshed out even more. Jordanna East is not afraid to push her characters and she was able to pull me into it to the point where, despite my manliness (LMAO!), I got chocked up near the end of the novel. It takes a lot to get that sort of reaction out of me when I’m reading a book so that did impress me.

 

Although I am sorry that I made him cry, I’m utterly touched at how he continues to find my work “impressive.” To read more of Peter “Peppa” Germany’s review, click HERE.

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint will be released on March 31st!

BLOOD IN THE PAINT: The Opening Scene!

I’m really trying to get my head out of my depressed, insecure, creative-person ass. I’m trying to get excited about Blood in the Paint‘s upcoming release. I am. I am excited. If I keep saying it, it will become true, right?

All that matters, though, is that you lovely readers are excited. Lucky for me, it seems like you are. I’ve been getting some great responses to the ARCs that were sent out, the exclusive excerpts my mailing list subscribers received, and my most recent blog post where I listed the meanings behind some of the chapter titles. So, in the spirit of keeping the warm and fuzzies rolling, here’s the opening scene:

BLOOD IS RED, but she always wore purple. Each time Lyla Kyle donned her eggplant-colored clothes it was because the memory persisted: the memory of herself, kneeling on the floor of her parents’ bedroom, cradling her mother’s limp body. The blood had seeped into her blue shirt, staining the fabric a ruddy purple. Her mother’s life had bled out and gone, from an act of despair almost exactly a decade ago.

The image kept Lyla strong. It enabled her to channel her rage. Anything to make you proud, Mom.

Over the years, Lyla had learned to prepare for death in the same way one would prepare for a date. She would apply her makeup and affix every hair in place, knowing her looks had to be every bit as lethal as her intentions.

The upcoming evening’s festivities would play on a loop in Lyla’s mind, making sure she remembered everything: lipstick, mini lint-roller, syringes, vials of a deadly chemical, breath mints . . . She loved being in control, savoring every moment.

Lyla had come to enjoy the hours leading up to her ultimate empowerment. The anticipation thrilled her almost as much as the act itself—and it was almost time to act. Almost time to plunge one of the syringes into her date’s neck.

Tingling at the thought, she shuddered, then she shooed her excitement away and reined her thoughts back in, returning them instead to the snug, overcrowded Philadelphia nightclub. Her next victim, the man sitting across from her at the high-standing cocktail table, nervously blabbed away, darting his hazel eyes in multiple directions seemingly all it once. He was shouting and yet she could barely hear him.

“I said, nice place you picked. What do you think of the music?”

Lyla just nodded along politely. She always chose popular nightclubs to meet up with her prey, where the patrons were too numerous to count and she and her “date” would never be more than just a couple of faces in a crowd of bodies, writhing in unison to the beat of the bass. It also didn’t hurt that the steamy atmosphere, teeming with sexual energy, helped move the night along quickly. The club would always be too crowded, the music would always be too loud, and after a few cocktails, she would always suggest something more intimate. Not because she wanted to converse with them more easily, not because she was interested in her victims’ lives, no. Only their demise, and the execution of her grand plan.

Execution. The term was somewhat appropriate, but not entirely accurate. After all, executions were meant to be painless and humane, and Lyla knew her dark little hobby was anything but. Then again, she thought, as she continued nodding along with whatever her date was saying, my weapon of choice is technically one of the chemicals used in lethal injections . . .

Lyla had justified her craft for years. She did so then, as the man across from her rambled on about the unseasonably cool August weather, and she suppressed a sneer. Men proved to be good-for-nothing charlatans. They were primitive. They were relentless and lived for nothing more than the next conquest, whether it be climbing the social and corporate ladders or bedding the next beautiful woman to strut across their path. Lyla supposed to her date she was the latter—which made her tactic all the easier.

Killing invigorated her. She had found her calling, however dark it was. And dark it was on this cool Friday evening in August as she chatted with a poor, unsuspecting man named Alex.

As he spoke incessantly, the vein in his neck bobbled, and Lyla Kyle was ready to feel invigorated again.

 

Blood in the Paint Cover

Blood in the Paint. New Official Release Date: March 31, 2014

Table of Contents Teasers!

I’m one of those writers that really puts a lot of thought into titles and double meanings…even if I’m the only one who knows about them. I know what you’re thinking. Blood in the Past? Blood in the Paint? Those seem like pretty literal titles. They are and they aren’t. Blood in the Past not only refers to the blood that was shed in each of the characters’ pasts, but it also refers to their blood/familial relations. In addition, each character makes their own “blood pact” of sorts between their selves and their lost love one. Like I said, I’m sure no one picked up on those meanings, but it meant a lot to me to include them. In fact, Blood in the Past was originally a working title that I decided to keep because these additional meanings could be attributed to it.

Similarly, Blood in the Paint not only refers to Lyla’s method of adding a syringe-full of her victims’ blood to the red paint she uses, but it also refers to a portrait she mentions having done of her father. Again, a blood relation connection.

Now that you know how kooky I am with titles, you won’t be surprised to learn I’m the same way with chapter titles. After I write the entire manuscript and go through it a few times, I read it again and highlight certain phrases that I might like to use as the chapter titles, making sure that each phrase has a meaning all its own–in relation to the chapter–when it’s out of context. Here are some examples, consider them teasers:

  • Chapter 2: Lie There and Die. Lyla feels that’s all her victim can do, but really she kills that way because that’s all her mom had been able to do.
  • Chapter 4: Blood for Blood. Lyla justifies her trophies, and the meaning of the series title is explained.
  • Chapter 8: Chasing After the Ghost. Brighthouse feels like he’s chasing the ghost of his father’s approval, but in reality he’s chasing the ghost of a very silent killer.
  • Chapter 12: Drifting and Bobbing. The phrase refers to a bundle of balloons, but also to Lyla’s control, and how she’s struggling to maintain it.
  • Chapter 16: The Anchor in His Stomach. Brighthouse feels a weight in his stomach over the unsolved murders, and wishes for his father’s instincts. But the anchor is a symbol of stability and strength and Brighthouse just needs to believe in himself.
  • Chapter 18: An Impromptu Centerpiece. In the text, it refers to the flowers CJ has given Lyla, but CJ is himself an ‘impromptu centerpiece,’ caught between Lyla and Brighthouse.
  • Chapter 21: Cleaner of Body But Not of Mind. Jillian washes her hands, but Lyla is focused on scrubbing something else in a different room.
  • Chapter 31: Collateral Damage. Lyla loathes collateral damage, but the reader knows her mother was collateral damage–as is every one of Lyla’s victims thereafter, having not directly wronged Lyla and only playing a role in her twisted sense of justice.
  • Chapter 35: A Sliver of Light. In the darkness, armed with only a slender flashlight, some light is finally shed on the truth of Lyla’s past.
  • Chapter 36: A Dangling Key. Brighthouse and his partner see not only a key on Lyla’s anklet, but a possible key to solving their case.
  • Chapter 44: Past All of It. Lyla is looking past tangible things, but also looking past her present and toward her future.
  • Chapter 47: Unknown. Refers to an incessant caller to Brighthouse’s cell phone, but an identity possibly unknown to the reader is about to be revealed.
  • Chapter 52: Traces of Blood. Doesn’t just refer to blood the life-substance, but blood relations are discovered.
  • Chapter 55: A Tree with Many Branches. Brighthouse’s captain uses this phrase as a metaphor for their case, but it’s actually a metaphor for the series’ entire storyline and how each of the characters are connected.
  • Chapter 58: Sever Ties. Much more than ties are severed; that’s all I can say!
  • Chapter 59: Her Final Moments. Lyla is thinking of her mother’s final moments, but she should be worried more about her own.
  • Chapter 60: Blood in the Paper. Refers to a bloody newspaper, but–SURPRISE–it’s also the title of the next book in the series!

I’m Gonna Miss Winter…

Dear fans,

I have failed you. First I said I would publish Blood in the Paint toward the end of 2013. Then I said I would publish sometime in the Winter of 2013/14, but probably in February. Then I said it would be March, specifically March 19th. But today is March 19th, and Blood in the Paint still isn’t ready. I’m sorry, but seeing as how the first official day of spring is March 21st, I’m gonna miss that winter deadline.

I could offer a lot of excuses (editing took longer than I would have liked, my proofreader didn’t work out, my computer started to die and Hubby-pants had to buy a new one), but it really comes down to my own stubbornness. I need to allow more time for my beta team, my editor, my proofreader, and my formatter to do their jobs thoroughly. I need to allow more time for life to happen, just in case. I need to allow more time for my obsessive, inevitable tweaking. Sigh.

For those looking for an apology, this is it. For those looking for an update, Blood in the Paint was just shipped off to the formatter. I hope to have it uploaded to Amazon before the end of the month (I almost said ‘before the end of the week’ but I remembered to allow time for life to happen).

In the meantime, I’m sending out the ARCs and the excerpts. Check your inboxes.

And thank you for sticking with me while I work hard to make Blood in the Paint the cleanest manuscript it could be.

-Jordanna East

How I Got My Book Into an Actual Bookstore!

I cheated. Plain and simple.

Okay, maybe I just cheated a little bit. It’s not like I had a friend distract the shopkeeper (Do people still say ‘shopkeeper’?) while I shoved a stack of Blood in the Past paperbacks on a shelf between Gillian Flynn and Dean Koontz.

You see, I belong to a couple of local writing organizations and one of them recently gave me a job. Of sorts. You’re now reading the blog of the South Jersey Writers Group new Account Manager! Please hold your applause. As such, I’m in charge of stocking the local bookstores and cafes with the group’s anthologies and any other books published under their press company, Hypothetical Press. Last Saturday, the president of the group, Amy Hollinger, invited me to join her to have coffee and meet a couple of the vendors, in the hopes it would make the transition easier (meeting the vendors, not drinking coffee).

The first contact I met was the owner of The Book Asylum in Blackwood, NJ. Amy gave her spiel and the owner readily purchased five copies of the current anthology, Tall Tales & Short Stories, as well as five copies of a member’s book, What to Expect When You’re Dead.

I must admit, I was a little nervous to even bring up the fact that I had a few copies of Blood in the Past in my purse. After all, I’m not published under Hypothetical Press, I’m published under my own company, Blood Read Press. Plus, the shopkeeper (Yes, I’m sticking with this antiquated term for now.) had already shelled out quite a bit of money to pay for the other titles. But it turned out that the woman was very nice and we ended up staying to chat and we even tried to get a little writing done, which really only led to more chatting. Then a regular customer joined us and we were all having a merry ole time when the newcomer asked me what I was writing. I immediately pulled out a copy of Blood in the Past for her the flip through and, wouldn’t you know it, the shopkeeper (Stop judging me, it’s my new favorite term.) immediately asked if I wanted her to stock my book as well!

Over the moon, I handed her the other two copies in my purse and quickly decided the affiliate price would be $5/copy so she could sell them for $7 and make a little profit. Yay!

I know. It’s only two books. That’s all I had on me at the time, besides the one the customer was looking at that I’d hoped she’d buy, but didn’t. But it gets better. While discussing that I was working on the next installment in the series, she offered to host a new release signing in her store! Yippie! (Keep checking the Events page for details!)

I plan to drop off more copies in a month or so when I stop in to iron out the details of the signing, but it looks like it might be as simple as finding a friendly shopkeeper and talking up your work! I’m sure it also helped that I’d showered and dressed somewhat nicely, too.

If you plan on doing this with your own work, might I suggest the following:

  • Create a spreadsheet listing all the businesses you intend to visit. Include the name of the point of contact (AKA shopkeepers), phone number, address, email, and a running tally of how many books you last stocked them with, as well as whether or not they paid you in advance or on consignment.
  • If someone pays you for your books up front, write them up a receipt on the spot (I believe you can find receipt pads at any office supplies store) or email them one later THAT SAME DAY. Don’t dilly-dally because you don’t want them to forget about the transaction, delete the email because they have no idea what it pertains to, and then have no record of your arrangement.
  • Keep a folder where you store your copies of the receipts. You might need them to prove your arrangement to another worker in the store and you might even need them at tax time.
  • I didn’t have these at the time (It was snowing and there was only so much I could tuck safely into my purse), but I recommend creating a flyer about yourself and your work and having it on hand so the store can create more of a display and shoppers know they are supporting a local author. You might even want to invest in some upright plastic sign holders in case your books are going to be displayed on a shelf.
  • Be friendly! If you’re gonna walk in there like the grumpy starving artist we all know we can be sometimes, you’re probably not going to get anywhere. Just saying.

Now, before you guys head over to The Book Asylum in Blackwood, NJ and fight over those two copies of Blood in the Past, does anyone have any questions?

Turns Out, I DO Know My Serial Killers

Blood in the Paint Cover

My upcoming release, Blood in the Paint, is going through the final stages of editing and I couldn’t be more terrified happier. I started writing Blood in the Paint almost a decade ago, way before its predecessor, Blood in the Past, and it’s been quite a journey.

I minored in Criminology and Psychology in college and that basic knowledge has helped me tremendously. But I’ve still had my doubts. Am I writing Lyla Kyle’s background correctly? Am I right about her motivations? Am I right about her methods and mindset? Still, I did my research and I was confident I knew my stuff.

Until a few months ago. One of the new beta readers to join my gaggle didn’t get through the entire Blood in the Paint manuscript. She questioned Lyla Kyle as a serial killer every step of the way. My face flushed with every comment she’d left. “I went to school for this,” I mumbled through clenched teeth. Eventually I got over it. I re-verified all the details, reminded myself that she hadn’t even read Blood in the Past (so she didn’t have Lyla’s background info), and moved on.

Then I found this Jennifer Chase blog post that put me at ease completely. She listed the four types of serial killers and I was psyched to discover I was already familiar with them:

Power & Control

This type of serial killer experiences complete sexual gratification from the domination and humiliation of the victim.  This killer is a true sociopath and lives by his own personal set of rules and guidelines.  Many of the famous serial killers we have seen in history would fall under his type of serial killer.

Visionary

This type of serial killer is compelled by voices or visions they experience and are considered psychotic.  These voices and visions compel them to kill certain kinds of people.

Mission

This type of serial killer feels a “need” or duty to kill certain types of people or “class” of people such as religious or racial groups or prostitutes.  This type of serial killer is not considered psychotic.

Hedonistic

This type of serial killer makes a strong connection between personal violence and sexual gratification.  This type of killer can also be described as a “lust” or “thrill” killer.  This killer receives pleasure from the act and has eroticized the experience.  They generally take the time to torture or mutilate their victims.

For those of you wondering, Lyla Kyle is most definitely a mission killer. In her mind, her father’s infidelity led to her mother’s death. Having always shown a predisposition for killing, even as a child, her mother’s death was the catalyst that motivated her to seek out and seduce married men…and kill them. Also, any collateral damage that occurs during the commission of her mission killings vexes her terribly. So far, so good, if you ask me.

Next, Ms. Chase posted several comments made by criminal psychology professionals from organizations such as the FBI, the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). The uncertainty surrounding my knowledge and my main character dissipated as I skimmed through them:

Predisposition to serial killing, much like other violent offenses, is biological, social, and psychological in nature, and it is not limited to any specific characteristic or trait. (Sounds like what I briefly described above regarding Lyla, doesn’t it?)

• The development of a serial killer involves a combination of these factors, which exist together in a rare confluence in certain individuals. They have the appropriate biological predisposition, molded by their psychological makeup, which is present at a critical time in their social development.(This sounds familiar, too!)

• There are no specific combinations of traits or characteristics shown to differentiate serial killers from other violent offenders.

• There is no generic template for a serial killer. (This quote is my favorite. The beta reader who got me down kept trying to put Lyla in a box. Every serial killer is different!)

• Serial killers are driven by their own unique motives or reasons. (Preach!)

• Serial killers are not limited to any specific demographic group, such as their sex, age, race, or religion.

• The majority of serial killers who are sexually motivated erotized violence during development. For them, violence and sexual gratification are inexplicably intertwined in their psyche.

• More research is needed to identify specific pathways of development that produce serial killers. (Exactly! And until then, we can, with some limits, write serial killers any way we choose.)

Now that I feel better, I spend my time being thankful that the other four beta readers devoured my manuscript of Blood in the Paint and had nothing but nice things to say about it. Not to mention the fact that Blood in the Past now has 40 reviews on Amazon and not one of them questions the believability of my characters. In fact, almost all of them say the exact opposite.

Have any of you read Blood in the Past? How did you feel about Lyla Kyle? Are any of you writers who have had your characters’ motives questioned? I want to hear from you!

(PS: This is basically the ‘cover reveal’ for Blood in the Paint! What do you think?)

Jerks & Irks LVII: I Wish I Had Time To Make Lists

It’s that time of year when blogs and websites are rolling out their “Best of” and “Worst of” lists like so many enumerated red carpets. I want so badly to participate as more than a spectator, but I’m a bit busy at the moment. First, I cooked my annual Christmas dinner for the in-laws. That took several days of preparation, followed by several days of decompression. Not to mention I’m doing that whole writing thing I do. I know I’ve been relatively quiet on that front, but I swear I’m still doing it. Blood in the Paint is currently with my editor and I’m working on two short stories for two separate anthologies due out in 2014. But if I had the time to TP the internet with fluffy, bouncing rolls of lists, here’s where I would start:

  • Ten things I learned about publishing. Notice I didn’t say self-publishing or independent publishing or traditional publishing exclusively. As an author, I feel it’s my duty to research all the facets of my industry to make the best possible informed decisions. I learned a lot. Most of it I’ve already blogged about along the way, but I wish I could put it one central location for my readers. Perhaps when I publish Blood in the Paint, I’ll do a Then and Now post, defining the differences between when I published Blood in the Past and what I know now.
  • Ten bizarre real-life crimes I wish I would have thought of first. We’ve all heard that truth is often stranger than fiction. It really is when it comes to crime. And sometimes I get so JEALOUS that I didn’t write about said crimes first in one of my books or stories. Grrr! (Although, I won’t be writing this list, I’ll still be composing it for a local appearance I have scheduled this spring. Be sure to check the events page often!)
  • Ten songs that made my brain bleed and ooze out of my ears. I don’t listen to the radio much anymore because of this, which means, I probably don’t even know the titles of the songs I would include on this list, if I had the time to write it. However, I’m pretty sure I could look up recent songs by Kanye West and be half there.
  • Ten books I didn’t have a chance to read in 2013. According to Goodreads, I’ve only read 59 books this year. I’m finishing up my 60th now. My original goal was 75, but that wasn’t gonna happen unless I downloaded 15 short stories, so I updated the damn goal. Don’t judge me. I might still create and post this list if I can find the time this week. Fingers crossed.
  • Ten things I hope to do in 2014. This one would be fun, because if I phrase it like this, I can take “hopeful” liberties and not worry about actually being able to do them. I hope to make the best sellers list. I hope to go back to Tahiti. I hope to wake up 30 pounds lighter. You get the idea…
  • Ten movie characters I absolutely loved/loathed. This one would be so much fun! Hubby-pants and I go to the movies quite often. The only problem is I tend to completely forget a movie the moment I leave the theater. Like, I can’t even hold an intelligent conversation about it during the car ride home. It’s scary. Even if I had the time, I’d need quite a bit of memory-jogging for this one. Yikes.
  • Ten television series of 2013. I know I seem to be an anomaly–an author who watches quite a bit of TV–so I wish I had the time to let everyone in on the types of television shows I indulge in. How I used to love Homeland, but I thought it was a letdown this year. How I also felt Scandal was a letdown this season until the very last episodes. Or how much I enjoyed The Walking Dead. Or how I had no idea how many people watched Duck Dynasty until very recently…
  • Ten nifty writing tools I hope to acquire in 2014. There’s that word “hope” again. I don’t necessary need anything, but who doesn’t love new gadgets? This is another list that would take a bit of poking around on the internet, so it’s probably not gonna happen. Maybe I can live vicariously through someone else’s list.
  • Ten non-writing projects to complete in 2014. Of course I’d have to come up with ten projects first, but sometimes it’s nice to do something outside of writing. Last summer I acquired a jug-like vase from the in-laws’ shore house before they put it in on the market and I’ve been drawing Picasso-inspired images on it. I intend to paint them and coat the vase in a protective gloss. This is the only such project I have going on right now, but I’m sure if I trolled my Pinterest boards I could find a few things.
  • Top ten favorite reads of 2013. This one goes without saying. All of us writerly/bookworm types do one. I did one last year. And I’ll be doing one this year. I’ll find the time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find the time for all of the above ideas and pepper your January with Top Ten lists! Be afraid. Be very afraid…

*Disclaimer: No, the irony is not lost on me that this is a list and I made time to write it and post it. ;-)