Category: Guest Post


Guest Post Scott Coon

Happy Friday everyone! I’ve got a guest post for you for a sci-fi adventure that’s coming out June second, Lost Helix. In the lead up to that the author, Scott Coon, has been so kind as to talk a little bit about his approach to world building. Enjoy!

Lost Helix cover

When a door opens at the back of a stage, if the audience sees darkness, it doesn’t build the same illusion that a wall and small table would create. However, if someone comes through that door with a tray of drinks, no one needs to say there’s a kitchen back there. The audience knows. By including the right amount of detail, we create the illusion of a complete house without describing it. This is the balancing act of world building—bringing the reader into your world without stopping the story to tell them about it. Achieving this balance requires proper planning and execution.

In planning, the author should know everything about their fictional world that might impact the story plus ten percent. Going far beyond that ten percent is called world builder’s syndrome. You plan every element of a city—sewers, mass transit, even the postal system—for a main character who flies off in a rocket where the real story happens. What purpose did that postal system serve? It’s fun to build worlds but it’s a matter of time management. If you want to write a story, your time is best spent writing the story. You do need to build the things that might impact that story, plus a little more beyond that to help you create the illusion of a complete world.

For our rocket man, if this is the Apollo program, you need to know about NASA and its relationship to the government that created it. You don’t need to imagine the American Revolution or Manifest Destiny, but you might need to imagine Congressional budget fights. You also need the Soviets, NASA’s competition. And you should know that the Soviets value party over people since that would affect your characters’ decisions or at least come up in conversation.

“Our budget is on the line. We have to get this rocket in the air.”

“But, Sir, the safety of the crew? I mean, we’re not the Soviets.”

“You’re right. Scrub the launch until we figure this out.”

If you’re about to outline the history of communism, ask yourself what that has to do with the story you’re telling. If the Soviets are merely the impetus for taking risks, probably nothing. If your rocket man is captured by the Soviets and brainwashed Manchurian Candidate style, probably something because you might want to reference that communist history during his forced indoctrination. The key is to know what kind of story you are writing, where it is going, and decide which planning you need.

In execution, the reader should learn everything about the world that does impact the story minus ten percent. Modern readers don’t like being told how things are; they enjoy figuring things out on their own. This is known as the “show, don’t tell” rule and it applies to everything—emotion, time of day, even system of government. You can show most of your world through setting, dialogue, and action. If your characters are frequently asked to show their papers, the reader knows the government is oppressive without being told.

Some exposition is needed but avoid telling your reader about your world in an information dump. Allow your world to come to light on a need to know basis, with exposition prompted by the moment. Here is an example of a small information dump disguised as dialogue:  “Though the Soviets have lost lives in their effort, they got a man into space before us. Now Washington says we have to stop playing it safe with monkeys and risk the lives of Americans so we can catch up.”

The characters hearing this would know about the Soviets, so the information dump sounds unnatural. But realistic dialogue would leave out key details. Adding a small amount world building exposition to fill the gap can create a satisfying experience for the reader. For example: “It’s official. We’re shutting down the petting zoo.” Around the table, he saw the expected mix of reactions. They finally had the green light to catch up by putting their own man in space. But they also knew the price the Soviets had paid in human lives while the U.S. played it safe, launching monkeys.

As the reader wonders what ‘the petting zoo’ refers to, the question is answered, the reader feels satisfied, and world building is achieved. The reader has enough to move forward in the plot. Later, you can add more about how the cosmonauts died, tying those details to other moments in the story to add emotion. If you start the story with a Wikipedia summary of the space race, listing the successes, failures, and casualties, you not only lose readers’ attention, you undermine the impact those details could have later in the plot. So, don’t tell us about your world. Tell the story and build your world around it.

Lost Helix is the key…

Stuck on an asteroid mining facility, DJ dreams of writing music. His dad is a corporate hacker and his best friend Paul intends to escape to become a settler in a planet-wide land rush, but neither interests DJ.

When his dad goes missing, DJ finds a file containing evidence of a secret war of industrial sabotage, a file encrypted by his dad using DJ’s song Lost Helix. Caught in a crossfire of lies, DJ must find his father and the mother he never knew.

When the mining company sends Agent Coreman after DJ and his guitar, DJ and Paul escape the facility and make a run for civilization. Will DJ discover the truth before Coreman catches him?

Scott Coon author pic

Scott Coon has enjoyed success as a science fiction short story writer, winning accolades and publishing over a dozen works in various magazines. Formally a U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst and currently a software developer, Scott brings his technical experience into his work, along with a sense of spectacle.

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Guest Post: Jon Biddle

Morning everyone! I’m back with a guest post for you all. This one’s from Jon Biddle, author of Hypnos, talking a bit about how he does research for his writing and the varied life experiences that flavor it. Enjoy!

Hypnos Cover

 

I think I have the most varied CV in the world. The only thing I left school with as Sixteen year old, was a packet of fags, and an old dog eared copy of Razzle magazine. I did get one O’ level, in Biology, which came into play in later life.

I then spent the next ten years in the army. The Infantry, shooting things and being shot at. I grew up quickly while on the streets of Northern Ireland as a soldier; they were tough, mean and dangerous. It shaped the person I have become in so many ways.

After that, I joined the family business and became a potter. These are the days I miss the most. They were idyllic and perfect. Living amongst the rolling hills of Dorset in the South West of England, nothing could be more amazing. The business grew to where we had to sell up. I became a full-time dad to our very young children, again, some of the best days of my life. My relationship with my now grown-up children is a close bond of which I do not take for granted.

It was during this period; I realised, that the wind blowing between my ears was in fact cognitive thought, what was weird, I was pretty good at it.

So I searched what would be a good job for a thirty-something to do that had meaning and came across my career as an Operating Department Practitioner. I stayed on at university for another four years and became a surgical first assistant and getting a whole heap of certificates which I cant find anymore.

I’ve covered everything in surgery from orthopaedics, which I love, to cardio thoracic, neuro, general surgery, ENT, MaxFax, urology, obs and gynae. I am dual qualified in assisting and anaesthetics, which makes me a rare commodity. I can slot anywhere within the Perioperative setting and be very comfortable.

What has this got to do with researching books?

I have a very broad knowledge of surgery, disease and trauma, drugs, the humanistic interaction between medical professionals and their patients, which are often complex along with trauma and the worst conditions that we as humans have to face. I had coupled along with my military background with law enforcement in Northern Ireland, there’s not much I haven’t seen or done.

I know firsthand what it’s like to lose a patient, I cannot remember any of my patients that left the OR and made a full recovery from their treatment, the dead though? I remember those. All of those, their names, what they looked like. I couple them with levels of high stress, guilt, anger and emotional distress and in some cases, utter heartbreak. I haven’t done CPR on anyone and not broken most of their ribs, I have had my hands, deep inside a patient, around their aorta, trying to stop a patient bleeding to death while helping a surgeon, likewise; I sat and held the hand of a dying man while he told his son how much he loved him on the phone, and how proud he was of him. Sadly, not being able to be by his father’s side in the final moments. The man looked at me square in the face with some form of clarity as he faced his own mortality, he thanked me for being there and that it meant everything to him, and it meant everything to me. I hope that I made up for his son’s absence. It’s these things that stay in my mind, that keeps me focussed, charged and driven to be the best person I might be.

I also can remember the first time that someone tried to kill me, the sound, the energy, the stones being flicked into my eye from the ricocheting bullets, the twenty litre can of water being tossed into the air as 7.62mm rounds slammed into either side of me, I remember I was about to be mortared, and when the first one came into my base, I watched glass almost bend concave slowly as the blast swept through the base until the glass surrendered and smashed to a thousand pieces. Why did I survive while others didn’t? I have no idea. I have many friends that are not with me today, dead from enemy action, or even the biggest killer, the enemy within. These voices I have, as does most of us that have walked that path, I am not immune to the label of complex-PTSD, I won’t affirm to like it, but there it is.

My body has spent most of its life in fight-or-flight mode, something that I am learning slowly to deal with, with the help of a therapist. Every day that I and my brothers make it through is another day we can chalk up to success.

I hope that this transcribes into the narrative of the books I write.

I am an educationalist by nature; I love learning and reading deeper into the psychology of people which really turns me on. How people tick. We’re not all that unique. Humans are humans, and a large proportion and wonderful souls that want nothing but good from this life. The scum bags, villains, and psychos are the people I have a keen interest in, and this behaviour really inspires my writing.

Take this current covid-19 pandemic, people are so predictable in how they behave, this fascinates me and use that core human interaction in my books. My protagonist Alex Brown is especially deft at dealing with human emotions on many levels, I love how she sees the lie coming, and heads the lie off at the pass. These are complex cognitive skills which I have learnt as an empath myself. Daily from my childhood, but that another story.

I hear the term Google Authors. That’s something that I definitely am not.

Jon Biddle

Jon spends his days smashing out people’s hip and knee joints, and his nights writing medical thrillers.

A veteran and a medical professional who spends 45 hours a week in the OR, Jon brings considerable medical and military/law enforcement expertise to the crime thriller genre, evident by the attention to detail in his six books.

Jon’s writing is dark and eclectic, provoking and deviant. He surrounds himself in the white glow of pureness, with one foot always in the dark. The dark always surrounds us, but Jon has a knack of making his readers ask “Could this happen to me?”

There is nothing too dark for Jon to write about. He has no level, base, or filter, and will get into your head and “scare the living daylights” out of you.

Jon lives in the south-west of England with his childhood sweetheart, Sam, and two Springer Spaniels. With full-time medical responsibilities in his day job, Jon spends 15-20 hours a week writing for his growing online audience. His new medical thriller, The Harvester, was released in 2019 as the first of six books in the Dale Broc series.

Find out more about Jon Biddle, including his new releases and regular short stories, by going to www.jonbiddle.uk and joining the mailing list.

Welcome back everyone! It’s my turn on the blog tour for Mandi Martin’s The Loss of Some Detail and, as the title suggests, I’ve got a guest post for you all. Ms Martin has been kind enough to write a bit about her favorite things about writing. Enjoy!

The Loss of Some Detail cover

When asked what my favourite things about being a writer are it is actually quite a hard one to answer.

There are a lot of things I enjoy and a lot I don’t; writers block and self-doubt being two in the latter category. Some reasons for the former are more personal and touch on topics I would rather avoid.

I think one of the main things I enjoy is the escapism. The ability to craft my own worlds and create tales that can offer the same to others and hopefully bring them some pleasure.

One of my favourite things to do as a child was to play with figures and create my own little towns and stories that would last for weeks and weeks, creating a chapter each day. I wanted to continue this when I began writing, creating characters people cared about and stories that took them away from everyday life.

Giving something back to people, as well as enjoying what I do, is important to me and knowing that I’ve given people a break and something to think about is a great feeling.

It also helps me in a therapeutic way by allowing me to divert my emotions and feelings in a more positive way, letting my characters take them on and work them out. Problems won’t go away but it can ease them and sometimes offer some clarity of how I myself can work through them, albeit perhaps not in such elaborate ways.

In many ways it is rather like painting, just using words instead of brushes to craft images of thoughts and emotions that perhaps cannot be released in any other manner.

I’m fond of sitting quietly so writing is an ideal career for that and the chance to work anywhere. I enjoy being lost in my own thoughts with just the cats for company, even if they do like to distract me by taking a trip across the keyboard or my papers. It certainly proves that working with animals, or around them, can be a thankless task!
I suppose it is my fault for not acknowledging their illustrious presence though.

Of course having a job and earning is important, I like to think if I make enough I can do more to help those in need, it also gives a sense of personal achievement. My family have supported me through good times and bad and this is a way of repaying them, to say thank you for all their belief in me and for opening the door to the wonderful world of books and stories.

That fascination with the English language and the written word was the best gift one could have given me and it has stayed with me. I enjoy the thought that maybe, just maybe, I could offer that gift to others.
There are tales aplenty out there, just waiting to be written and it is exciting to think that I could be the one to tell them or encourage another to tell their own.

 

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Chris Sarantopoulos Guest Post

Today I’ve got a guest post for you from Chris Sarantopoulos, author of Through Stranger Eyes and several other books and stories, he’s here to talk about the cyberpunk theming that inspired him to write Through Stranger Eyes. Enjoy!

Through Stranger Eyes cover

A lot of the sci-fi writers of the past, like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and all the others, who paved the way for the newer generations, wrote sci-fi with something very specific in mind: the repercussions technology would have to our understanding of certain things. Things like soul and morality, both for human beings as well as the societies we have built. They pushed the boundaries, and in doing so I think they wanted readers to sit down and think about things. The way I see it, in every story they wrote, there was almost always an underlying question they wanted us to answer. And to a certain extent, perhaps even a warning.

When I started writing my latest cyberpunk thriller, Through Stranger Eyes, I wanted people to do the same about things that in my opinion are important. Things that, even though the story takes place several centuries in the future, are current and should still make us stop and ask ourselves about them. And the most important question was, how far is too far?

As is the case with almost every cyberpunk story, the dominant theme is “high tech, low life.” So immediately, the question I asked myself was, what defines low life? That was the basis behind which I started creating the societal dynamics that would shape my characters. To show this in the most striking way possible, I came up with the idea of a stacked megacity. If that’s too hard to understand, imagine going to your window, looking out and up, and seeing the bottom part of another city on top of you instead of the sky. Then picture another on top of that and so on. The distance between each level is enough to accommodate skyscrapers, mind you. The poorest, those with the fewest opportunities in life, live at the very bottom and the richest at the top. This is one of the things that creates tension and resentment between the different social classes.

Another thing I saw as a means to push the moral boundaries and hopefully get people to think about, was the extensive use of high tech. So extensive that people would rely more and more to it, to the point where technology would become a necessity. A lot of people, myself included up to a certain extent, would say that this is inevitable. It’s in our nature to use technology, whether it’s using a flint stone to light a fire to warm a cave and keep wild predators at bay, or to enhancing our bodies with cybernetics to increase our abilities. But again, how far is too far? What would happen to us as a species if we altered ourselves so much that we no longer resembled a human being as we know it? How able would we be to survive on our own if we relied completely on the tech installed inside us, and then we realised that someone was using that tech, and inadvertedly us too, to further their own goals?

And in the case of Through Stranger Eyes, what would happen if all of the sudden we became a liability to someone and turned that technology into a weapon to take us off the picture?

Of course, there are other things I wanted to address that fitted well in the same “high tech, low life” concept. Mass consumerism, for instance. I’m talking about the invasive and aggressive side of consumerism. The one that, in a futuristic urban dystopia—as is the case of many cyberpunk stories—can even become a form of government. What would happen if this type of government, controlled by a group of companies, no longer saw us as citizens but as wallets meant to spend their contents for their products? What would their boundaries be, once they realised some of us no longer had enough money to spend on their products? Or if we openly spoke against their products? How would they treat us then? Would they create a society where our ability to buy things is the only defining characteristic?

All these questions and more are things I wanted to explore in the world I created for Through Stranger Eyes. In it, a relatively well-off member of that world, a doctor named Rick Stenslandt, one of those who object the fusion of man and machine, ends up in a near fatal accident and is forced to have cybernetic ocular implants or lose his social status. That’s when things take a turn for the worse, as he soon starts remembering murdering members of the governing corporate elite. Powerful and dangerous people. The problem is that he has never met them before. Things become even worse for him when the police finds out about it and consider him the main suspect. As if that wasn’t enough, a pair of trained augmented assassins is after him. It doesn’t take too long for his sheltered life to turn to dust and for him to see what the world is really like. When he loses everything, when the only thing he has left, the one thing he cares the most, his family, is threatened, he decides to fight back and in doing so, he starts uncovering secrets and truths that some people don’t want to be known. What he discovers during his struggle for survival can shake the foundations of the world and plunge it into chaos.

Chris Sarantopoulos author pic

Author Bio:

Chris Sarantopoulos is a Greek writer who learned to communicate in English almost at the same time he started using his native language. He studied Geology in Scotland (you may hear him say aye a couple of times), then decided to diversify and completed a Master’s degree in Service Management. He almost started a PhD, but that didn’t work out. He enjoys writing science fiction, particularly post-apocalyptic fiction and cyberpunk, but also dystopia, fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror (not the splatter type though). Currently, he lives in Greece, and if you happen to spend time there, contact him. He may be able to arrange a meeting.

His work has appeared on Beyond Imagination, Voluted Tales and Eternal Haunted Summer among others.

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Hey, all, just a brief check in before the main event. My stop is fairly early on the blog tour, so it is definitely worth it to stop in and see what other folks are hosting. I’ll include the schedule again in the week’s House Keeping post. For now though, I have an excerpt for you all. Enjoy!

The Cellist's Notebook cover

Nana Rose’s house sat upon a hill, with a river at the bottom, trees down along the paddock and a rugged stony road leading to the door. It was miles from anywhere and, in the summer, the front door was permanently open welcoming any number of visitors, cats, birds and wildlife into the hall. The herb garden, pungent with dill and sage was overgrown and as wild as the meadows above the house. The Peters family travelled every year to see Nana but it was Emily who always insisted on staying the whole summer long whilst everyone else wanted to jet off to somewhere hot or exotic sounding. For Emily, seeing the paddock from the main road, was just the first hint of adventures to come and she was brimming with excitement for what lay ahead.

It was the first day of the summer holidays. As always, ten year old Emily had her rucksack packed the night before. She had her hair brush sticking out of the top of the ruck sack so that it was handy to brush her long brown hair whenever she wanted to. Her full water bottle was neatly tucked into the side pocket ready for the journey ahead. Emily’s sister Lizzie however, who was five years older, was sitting on the floor in her bedroom with what appeared to be her entire wardrobe piled high around her wondering what to pack.

‘Do you need a hand?’ Emily asked standing at the door.

‘I think I do,’ Lizzie sighed.

Emily started to extract various items of clothing from the ring around Lizzie. ‘It’s a French exchange you are going on in Paris Lizzie so I’m thinking where will you be going and what will you be doing?’ She held up a dress, ‘Louvre,’ a pair of jeans, ‘Eiffel Tower,’ a pale blue skirt, ‘evening restaurant.’ This process continued amidst lots of giggling and in no time at all, Lizzie’s suitcase was full, zipped and secured with a shiny pink padlock attached. Both girls headed downstairs with their luggage to the front door where their Dad was already packing up the car.

As the car headed off down the road, Lizzie sat in the back seat and texted Lucille in Paris. Lucille was to be her French host in Paris, and the two had been pen-friends for over a year now. ‘I am on my way. I’m so excited. See you soon.’ Helped along with a snooze, the journey to Nana’s house seemed to go quickly despite the detour to the airport to drop off Lizzie.

Kittie Lambton 3

Kittie Lambton was born in 1975 in Norfolk, England. She is a cellist, and has been providing music tuition for over fifteen years. She is an advocate for all children being able to learn musical instruments from a young age. Her early learning of the cello with her cello tutor in Norwich, Norfolk has created warm memories that inspired the writing of this book. Kittie enjoys exploring the science behind how music can evoke and improve memory and the importance of music in our everyday lives. She was recently awarded second place in the Westgate on Sea Literary Festival Short Story Competition 2019.

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Guest Post:Sharlene Almond

Hi all, today I’ve got a guest post from Sharlene Almond, author of Initiated to Kill, about the minds of serial killers and some of the commonalities that criminologists have found between them. Enjoy!

Initiated to Kill cover

Delving into the Criminal Mind – What we can Learn from Historical Serial Killers.

Who would have thought we would be living in a world in which we have grown rather fascinated with the workings of the criminal mind. With TV shows that delve into criminal profiling, movies and books exploring the depravity of a serial killer.

Criminology and Criminal Profiling is fast becoming a sought-out degree. Even the knowing the basics on Criminology can help a writer better understand why their antagonist and protagonist is doing what they are doing.

So, come with me and explore the sadistic minds of serial killers.

The Importance of a Childhood, and the Affect on the Brain.

As much as we might want to deny it, childhood can have a huge impact on the brain. The idea nature vs. nurture is something we struggle with explaining, especially when it comes to psychopathy.

After all, is it possible for a baby to be a psychopath? Or is there something absent in the brain, which is then triggered by trauma?

It is important to realize that a person’s interactions “shape the structural and organizational characteristics of our brain.” (Nancy Darling, Ph.D.)

Parenting affects the cortisol and alpha amylase levels in our brain. When children are in an environment that encourages positive responses and communications when feeling unresponsive to feelings, as opposed to encouraging negative responses through the exposure to violence, teaches the child that it is normal to react in a violent way in order to get what you want.

He believed even his parents feared him, which he relished all the more. His sometimes-tender self would suddenly change like a storm blackening the sky. His fits of rage caused people to scurry, delighting him, their terror—his drug.” (Initiated to Kill)

Children learn from the experiences they are exposed to the most. In the early years of their life, their main exposure is from their parents.

However, there are some children with underdeveloped or stunted amygdala, resulting in the areas of their brain connected with empathy, pain and fear to not develop effectively.

Psychopathy may be able to be recognized as early as around two years old. The benefit of recognizing and admitting the potential of certain children lacking empathy, means that those that surround them can help the children experience interactions which help to educate the child on the different responses for the different situations they come across.

Who is capable of being a Serial Killer?

“He would make friends easily; they seemed to flock to his charming and energetic self. But he got bored easily, so when they no longer amused him, he would just vanish, pretending they never existed.” (Initiated to Kill)

Serial killers don’t necessarily walk around appearing as though they are about to commit murder. Instead, many of them may appear ‘normal’. However, there can be some indicators that could cause a person to be more likely to commit vicious acts, and with other triggers, could be a violent combination.

Extreme antisocial behavior, voyeurism (watching a person in private setting), enjoys setting fires, and torturing or killing animals may lead to more serious acts of violence.

Other factors may be less noticeable. Some study results have suggested that male serial killers may have extremely high levels of testosterone.

Another genetic factor could be that they have abnormal levels of the brain chemical dopamine – which is responsible for motivation and pleasure.

Those with lower levels of dopamine require greater stimulation to achieve pleasure.

Do You See Them Coming?

No. Although, there are some traits that could indicate criminal tendencies, many proclaim how shocked they are when they discover who is behind sadistic acts.

Ted Bundy was considered a charming man, volunteering for the suicide hotline, and a college graduate. However, underneath that superficial exterior hid a psychopath that killed at least 36 women.

H.H Holmes was a well-known pharmacist that had a torture dungeon in his basement.

John Wayne Gacy was a shoe salesman, entertained children as a clown, and active in his community. However, was a serial killer of young men.

Richard Angelo, a volunteer fire fighter, respected nurse and an Eagle Scout. He was so obsessed with being a hero he would poison patients so he could revive them.

Philip Maroff, eventually known as the Craigslist Killer was a member of the National Honor Society, promising student, and part of the youth court in school.

The Taunting’s of a Serial Killer.

There is one part of the ‘murder game’ many killers cannot resist, and that is to taunt police or victims, show how clever they are, mock them, dare them to catch them if they can.

The Zodiac killer would mock the police for not deciphering his code. In 2018, his mocking finally caught up to him, and Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer was finally caught. It is believed he put in practice before the big events by breaking into people’s homes to steal a personal item, or leave something behind.

Of course, one of the most notorious killers to taunt police, and still to this day not yet be fully identified is Jack the Ripper. He would go into great detail of what he did to his victims, and send it personally to the Police Commissioner.

 Dear Boss,

“‘So now they say I am a Yid when will they lern Dear old Boss! You an me know the truth don’t we. Lusk can look forever hell never find me but I am rite under his nose all the time. I watch them looking for me an it gives me fits ha ha I love my work an I shant stop until I get buckled and even then watch out for your old pal Jacky

Catch me if you can Jack the Ripper

Sorry about the blood still messy from the last one. What a pretty necklace I gave her.”’” (Initiated to Kill)

The Happy Face killer become unhappy with the lack of attention he was getting with his killings, so he started writing letters to local media detailing his crimes and signing them with a happy face.

Taking on Different Personas

Serial killers could be considered some of the best actors, having to put on a fake mask for society, while their inner depths are raging with violent emotions.

Juana Barraza was considered Mexico’s first female serial killer, and often thought to have been a man for her physical strength and build. She would favor disguises like a nurse’s uniform to allow herself to get into older people’s homes, or would wear a pink Power Ranger costume.

The Phantom Killer, known for the white mask with cutout holes for his eyes and mouth would target couples in Lovers Lanes after dusk.

It could be considered strategic for killers to wear costumes to reduce the risk of any eyewitnesses recognizing them, or it may play into their role to become a different person once they have that disguise on.

James Eagan Holmes become known for his murdering spree, but more for is so-called fascination with the Joker from the Batman movies. At a midnight screening of the Dark Knight Rises, James shot 12 people at a movie theatre dressed as the Joker, dying his hair to look like him.

Other killers have keepsakes to use after their crimes to relive it.

Although wearing actual costumes during crimes isn’t all that common, serial killers tend to play with numerous roles to hide who they are, or to get a victim’s guard down.

Which could be why so many people are creeped out by clowns…

There is a theory to why there were so many different suspects in Jack the Ripper killings. One theory is that he dressed up in different costumes to throw off the scent and purposefully implicate others in the killings.

He acted, he played, and he enjoyed fooling people.

“Visiting the Red Cross, asking for military uniforms. Walking along the streets dressed in something different every time. Wearing a moustache or hat to disguise the color of his hair. He enjoyed fooling people, and he did just that. No one suspected who he really was, what he was really doing.” (Initiated to Kill)

The Urge to Continue Despite the Risk

One could say that killing may be like a drug, the high is addictive, the adrenaline pumping through the veins, the intense need for more, exposing the person to engage in more risky behavior to feed their addiction.

Serial killers are intent on self-preservation. Just like those that engage in behaviors to relieve stress, so to do serial killers.

Ted Bundy claimed he ‘craved’ killings as it helped him concentrate.

Israel Keyes was addicted to the thrill of the hunt.

“Elizabeth Wettlaufer… described a pressure that would build up before each murder and stated she started killing people to relieve anxiety.” (Joni E Johnston Psy.D)

Perhaps it is the boost of dopamine that occurs, resulting in feelings of pleasure. The more they do, the more they crave, the harder it is to stop, the greater the risk, the greater the rush.

What Happens if they are Never Caught?

The brain is capable of desensitization. Whether it is from external triggers like abuse, or intentional desensitization by continually exposing oneself to what they fear, confidence in what they are capable of doing can grow. Especially when they keep getting away with it.

“There is no help, no cure, except death or being caught and put away… When this monster enter my brain I will never know… I can’t stop it, so the monster goes on…” (Dennis Rader, BTK Stranger)

The BTK Strangler killed multiple people in the 70s. Thirty years later, supposedly, he contacted the Wichita police again. Sending photographs of a murder in 1986, which had never been solved.

Thankfully, it would seem that finally this deprived psychopath was finally caught in 2005. Dennis Rader terrorized Kansas’s neighborhoods, which sent a flurry of home security systems to be installed. What could not have been foreseen was that Dennis Rader was the one installing these cameras, enabling him to become familiar with his victims’ surroundings.

So, what are the motives behind serial murders?

It is believed that one major motivation for serial killers is to seek that ultimate thrill. Serial killers like the Zodiac killer are motivated through the adrenaline rush of stalking their prey.

While others love the control they can exert over their victims, like Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz ‘Son of Sam’.

Another factor to keep in mind is that even when sexual assault occurs, it does not mean they are doing it for sexual gratification, rather, it tends to be the use of acts to control and humiliate their victims.

Ted Bundy would fantasize about killing; however, initially found the first act so terrifying and nerve wracking that he thought he would never do it again.

Brenda Spencer was an interesting case of a problem sixteen year old obsessed over violent films, and had been involved with drugs and petty theft. Owning a BB gun she would kill birds and break windows. However, when her father gave her a real gun, her psychopathic tendencies came to the forefront.

Setting herself up at Cleveland Elementary School, she went on a 20 minute shooting spree, killing two adults, and wounding nine children.

Even though she seemed to love the spotlight, her claimed motive for what she did shocked all – “I just don’t like Mondays… I did it because it’s a way to cheer the day up. No body likes Mondays…” (Brenda Spencer)

How to Use Profiling in Writing?

So, why do we want to know all this? Well, for authors, especially for those that write mysteries or thrillers, to have some understanding of the psyche of the killer helps to bring the person to life.

A vivid picture is created, the person feels real, their actions feel real, and they slowly progress through the story.

The antagonist, in my opinion, is just as important as the protagonist. They are two opposing forces that eventually have to collide. And, I guess, what makes it even more interesting, is that for some antagonists, you can almost feel sorry for them, can almost understand how they became who they are. And perhaps that is why criminal profiling is so fascinating – to learn what we may be capable of.

To read more about Jack the Ripper and a present-day killer, you can find my historical/present day psychological thriller here.

Sharlene Almond author pic

Author Bio:

I live in Auckland, New Zealand with my partner and two Jack Russell’s (my babies). Historical based movies and documentaries are some of the useful tools to give me ideas for my next books. I have a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling me to understand and portray my main character – Annabella.

At 32 years old, I also have diplomas in Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Freelance Journalism, Editing and Proofreading and Naturopathic Nutrition. These qualifications give me the ability to better understand the human mind, writing about it in a manner my readers can understand and connect with.

Currently, I am studying to specialize in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Dialectal Behavioural Therapy, and Medicinal Cannabis.

Author Website  Amazon Author Page  Twitter  Facebook  Pintrest  Goodreads  Instagram

Parallel Excerpt

I get a lot of chances to introduce you all to new authors thanks to Authoright, which is always an exciting prospect. It might be a little late for the tour, but this time, instead of a guest post, I’ve got an excerpt of L. J. Bacon’s Parallel. Enjoy!

Parallel ebook

Have you ever looked up at the nights sky and thought, with so many stars we can’t be the only planet with life such as ours? What if I was to say our planet isn’t the only one with life, in fact what if I was to say we are living part of a parallel life on ours! Unbeknownst to us we have a second existence on another planet in another universe, and what happens there affects us here, and vice versa, how do I know this, you may ask, well, until a month ago I didn’t know any of these things, I was just like you going about my days like any other person.

I woke as normal, at 7 am Thursday morning, had a shower and then got myself dressed, then had a coffee with some toast and was ready for the day ahead.

I live and work in a Dojo, with Mr. Mechin, first name Sato.

After my parent’s deaths, when I was only six, he took me-in and raised me as his own son, he is a very wise older man with long grey hair and thin goatee beard, slim in build and only 5/6 tall, but what an amazing martial artist, very disciplined respectful and full of honour. If all men were like this man, the world would be a much better place.

I’m not too sure how old he is, he has never said, I’m not too sure how it was he became my surrogate father, all he has ever said to me is that he knew my parents very well, and that their deaths were devastating to him, and thought it the right thing to do, to take me into his care and raise me. I can’t remember much of my parents, even their faces are a blur to me now.

Anyway, I went downstairs to the Dojo, and as usual Sato was there preparing for the days lessons, he greeted me in his usual manner, “Good morning Jacob my son how are you this morning?” To which I replied, “I am very well thank you, apart from another strange dream last night!” Sato replied, “Oh really, explain it to me.”

I had been having strange and very vivid dreams for about a week, Sato was very interested in them, and would have me try my best to recall them for him in great detail; it was as if they meant something to him.

So I closed my eyes and began to explain what I could remember; “It seemed so real. I was on another world the sky was dark and seemed to have two moons, the land was mountainous and black, there were these creatures, they looked almost human but were deformed.”

“Their skin was dark and shining in the moon light, their heads were bald and disfigured, some had eyes of red and others of yellow, with bodies very muscular and powerful looking, with hands that have claws instead of fingernails.”

“There was one standing in the center of a silver circle, then there was a huge flash of light which came from the sky, almost like a bolt of lightning but it lasted about a minute! And when it had raised back to the sky the creature was gone!

“The rest of these creatures started to go crazy in celebration, then I was back in our world, but now I wasn’t me! I was a woman and I was fighting this creature that I had watched disappear into the light, I was wounded and running for my life! I had a sword in my hand, its blade was covered with what I can only explain as black tar, then the dream suddenly ended, and I woke sweating and feeling very afraid!”

When I opened my eyes, I could see Sato looked worried, almost afraid, his head and shoulders dropped as he said in a very quiet, almost a whispered voice; “Thank you for telling me.” I replied, “What is wrong, you look concerned by what I have told you, it’s just a dream!” To which he replied in a very soft but concerned voice, “Yes just a dream, a dream, a nightmare,” as he slowly turned and started to walk away with his head dropped and shaking from side to side, I placed my hand on his right shoulder and asked, “What is wrong?” He was silent for a few moments, then turned and said, “It would appear the time has come for you to know all I have to tell, I hope I have prepared you well for what is about to come.” Then he said; “We should sit and I shall begin,” as he said this I felt a shiver up my spine, I have never seen him like this, so much concern on his face and the tone of his voice was like that of a man who had the world on his shoulders.

We sat on a training mat, he looked at me and smiled saying; “Where do I begin?” Then continued; “This may be hard for you to except at first.” Then with a deep breath; “I am not from your universe, I am from another planet much like earth, but in another dimension, in the past we visited your earth, to help your people evolve as we have.”

I’ve got a bit of a treat for you all today thanks to Authoright and the author, Davide Cortellucci. As part of the The Red Book blog tour, Mr. Cortellucci has offered up a blog post talking about his own ten favorite books. Enjoy!

THE RED BOOK D.Cortellucci - Front Cover

 

I’m an eclectic reader. I can read non-fiction and fiction of many genres, from Schopenhauer to the IKEA’s Nordic cookbook. Making a list of my favourite ten books, it’s a list hard to create. I’ve read so many good ones, but I made the cuts, and here they are.

1) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I read this book multiple times when I was young. It was my favourite book, and it still has a special place in my heart. When I was young, whenever I felt a little down or my life wasn’t taking the direction I expected to make, this novella came to the rescue. This is a story that’s full of bright light.

 

2) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Reading the life of Siddhartha from start to end, all surrounded with spirituality, human necessities, and a sense of individuality with the whole and enlightenment, unlocked within me a different way to see life and the purpose of it.

 

3) Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

One of the first books I ever read. Full of proper lessons that should be learned when you’re a child, from not lying to knowing that change is possible and that we can become what we desire to be.

 

4) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling

My favourite book in the H.P. saga. This book is the real turning point from the more innocent side of the collection to a side that gives a full dimension of its characters. The characters, due to the events in the book, are forced to mature before their time.

 

5) Neuromancer by William Gibson

To me, this book represents the epitomes of personal cognitive dissonance, because I like and dislike this book simultaneously. One moment I love certain characters, and the moment after that, I’m bored with them, and then I love them again. And of course, I appreciate this book’s high imaginary futuristic settings that have inspired several books and movies.

 

6) Animal Farm by George Orwell

The best allegory on how a dystopian society can become a reality. The shift from equality to power. The oppression of the individuals, the inequity and the lies. A top book.

 

7) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book made me look at humanity differently. Not as a mass of individuals, but as a group of beings from the same species that are evolving homogenously together. Seeing the point of view of humanity as one single operating force, it’s something that can help us in the decision making of the present.

 

8) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I love this book. I think this is a story that appeals to many people. I love the fragility and at the same time, the strength of its characters. This book made me think, made me laugh and pulled the strings of my heart. A beautiful book.

 

9) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book was an enjoyable read. I liked the clash between the two mothers and the juxtaposition of the perfect family vs the nomad and artistic one. Ng’s writing gives dept to all the characters in the story. A perfect little storm that fell upon a small corner of America and on its bourgeois inhabitants.

 

10) Wasted calories and ruined nights by Jay Rayner

This little book just put a smile on my face. It’s like combining the shadiness of a RuPaul Drag Race contestant with the Michelin Star’s dining world.

 

10+1 Bonus) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Davide Cortellucci

Author Information

Davide Cortellucci is a writer and the author of The Red Book. He has spent the last few years working on an unnamed trilogy, friendly referred by him as Little Yellow Rubber Duck. The Red Book is the first book in the trilogy. He was born on the 25th of July 1978 in Belgium, to Italian immigrant parents. He grew up in Belgium, Italy, and in London, UK. Davide has done several jobs, from waiter to inventories, from sound engineering in shows to events manager, and many more. Davide is a college dropout with a couple of creative writing courses on his back. He has spent many years travelling around Europe, learning about cultures, and keeping an interest in the power of the mind. Davide loves writing stories that awaken the epic feeling within the reader. He now lives in South East London with his partner, he’s curious about life, and he also makes a great pasta sauce.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/D.CortellucciAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/d.cortellucci/

Guest Post : L. A. MacFadden

As promised, if a little late, here’s the guest post I mentioned back on Tuesday! Here’s L. A. MacFadden talking a little about what gets her interested in writing stories. Enjoy!

Myth Agent cover

Way back in the 1970’s I read Time and Again, by Jack Finney. I have a copy of it, but I haven’t ever read it again—it has stayed with me since that first time—as have a few other great books, such as  John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath—which changed the way I looked at the world when I read it in eighth grade. When I set out to write Myth Agent, I didn’t want to replicate any part of someone else’s book, but I did want to write something that would stay with some readers, like those books have with me.

I love to read old newspapers. The news stories of days gone by add to the history I have tucked away in my mind, but the advertisements in old papers from, say, 1850, always fire me up. Some flesh and blood person so long ago actually dipped their quill pen in an inkwell and wrote an ad for, let’s say, a room for rent. Then someone carried the advertisement to the newspaper office on foot, on horseback or some horse-drawn conveyance. And when the paper was printed and distributed, someone read it and made their way to the address in question to inquire about the room. Who was the person who wrote the ad? Why did they suddenly have a room to let? And who was the person answering the ad? What were their stories? It doesn’t take a lot to get my imagination working overtime.

I’ve spent plenty of time in antique shops and have hauled plenty of old merchandise home with me. I suppose it stands to reason, then, that part of Myth Agent is set in an antique shop owned by a woman named Odessa—the shop is called Odessa’s Quest. When I needed certain antiques in a few passages in the book I was able to refer to some of my own collection for details. It can’t get much handier than that! Another part of the book focuses on dreams; maybe because sometimes I wake up from sound sleep remembering very vivid story dreams. I guess Myth Agent combines two ideas—the writing advice I’ve read and been told so many times to ‘write what you know’—with my own advice to myself—’write what you don’t know but your brain just conjures up!’

People close to me are used to having me write things like the happy short stories I wrote for my children when they were young, or light-hearted romances ending in happily ever after. But the real reason I started writing the soft science fiction Myth Agent, is that I just wanted to shake things up! Now I’m working on the next book in the series, because I have to find out what happens next!

LA MacFadden author pic

About L.A. MacFadden

I was raised in small towns in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, and I am still a small town person at heart. I married my high school sweetheart in 1975, and after he got out of the Marines, we settled in western Oregon. We have two grown children, and two wonderful granddaughters. Being part of this family is very important to us.

Our home is out in the country, near the Columbia River Gorge. The wind here is frightful in the winters—sometimes it roars at eighty-plus mph for days. The fury of the wind causes boughs to grow only on one side of the evergreens! But the calm days here in this beautiful area make up for it. We live in a small house situated between forest and pasture, with a lovely view of Mt. Hood in the distance. When it’s quiet—no high winds—I’m in the perfect writing place. I’m not one of those people who can write in a crowded coffee shop—although I do frequent coffee house drive-throughs!

Myth Agent on Amazon and Goodreads!

Guest Post Grant Price

Hi all, this is the first post in a while I’ve gotten to host that focuses in on the getting published side of things. I found it interesting and hope you all do too. Enjoy!

The new end is the new beginning

“Too bleak. Pass.” When I started querying agents for By the Feet of Men, my dystopian cli-fi novel, this was the response I received from three different people within the first week. Okay, I thought, it just wasn’t for them. No need to worry. But it wasn’t until the fourth agent emailed me with feedback after requesting the full manuscript that I realised: I was going to have to rewrite the ending. Because it was indeed too bleak. As the agent said, it gave the reader nothing to cling on to, offered them little reward after spending 300+ pages with the characters they had become invested in, and effectively stated that the world I’d created was entirely devoid of hope. I perhaps should have realised that this is not the kind of message—especially in this day and age—anybody wants to walk away with.

The problem was that I was done with the dystopian world I’d created. I was exhausted after having spent two years sketching and erasing and colouring and shading. I didn’t want to go back in there, especially after my definitive (and naïve) gesture of christening the file “Draft 6_final”. Yes, I could have ignored the advice and continued to query. I could’ve taken heart from the stories of writers like Heller, Plath or Vonnegut who ploughed on in the face of rejection and refused to bow to the pressure of rewrites. But once a professional who looks at hundreds of manuscripts a month has taken the time to point out exactly where the flaws are in your story, you’d have to be pretty confident or (more likely) foolish to keep going down that same road. Artistic vision is great and all, but it’s better when other people get to experience your vision, too.

In the end, I thanked the agent, hid myself away and, even though I never wanted to look at it again, reopened the manuscript. Perhaps most surprisingly for me, it didn’t actually take long for a natural conclusion to appear. By the time I was finished, I had ended up adding three new chapters. They were good. They worked. They held up under the weight of the rest of the novel. The next time I submitted it, I received the following feedback: “strong ending with potential for a sequel”. That feedback happened to come from my future publisher. I signed the contract a week later. My new ending signalled the beginning of my career as an actual novelist.

With this in mind, here are my four tips for rewriting the ending of your work-in-progress even though you’ve sworn you’re absolutely, positively done.

 

  1. Listen to the advice you were given.

I touched on this above already, but it bears repeating: never be so unrelenting in your quest for artistic purity that you don’t listen to the advice of those around you. There is a difference between believing in a message that you absolutely want to tell the world and a story with a flabby midsection that requires a nip and tuck. Try not to take it personally, either. If somebody has made the effort to give you feedback, they probably did it because they found something in there that they believe is worth salvaging. Save your indignance for when you sell the thing and then start getting advance reviews from people who take just one sentence to trash your novel. And your dreams. And your belief in the goodness of humanity.

 

  1. Find enough enthusiasm to get it done.

Yep, this one is easier said than done. Enthusiasm doesn’t come in a can (unlike energy, which does). If you’re looking at that icon on your desktop and dreading clicking on it, it’s worth taking the time to think about why you wanted to write the thing in the first place. What compelled you to spend months hammering at your keyboard? What was it that got you believing that it was a story people should read? Writing a novel is like any long-term relationship: sometimes you have to remember how things were at the start to fall in love with the object of your affection all over again. You’ll then be able to see how far you’ve come – and to understand that it would be a damn shame if you threw it all away now.

 

  1. Go somewhere completely different to write it.

This is linked to point number two in that if you need to kickstart the engine that gets your fingers dancing over the keyboard once more, a good idea is to leave your usual haunt and try tackling that rewrite somewhere entirely different. For me, it just so happened that I went to Thailand a week after I received the feedback from the agent. I ended up sitting in a glass studio in the middle of nowhere with no Internet and no distractions, and wrote those three new chapters in just over a week. All inertia was banished thanks to a simple change of scenery. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a different country altogether; it could just be a park or a coffee shop where the barista tells you to wait a few minutes before drinking your beverage so you can “really taste it”.

 

  1. Compromise, but not too much.

The last item on the list may be the most important. Yes, you should accept and listen to feedback, but ultimately your book is your baby and you (hopefully) know what’s best for it. In other words, these rewrites become a balancing act. On the one hand, you may have to compromise on your artistic vision a little bit; after all, there’s a reason your novel hasn’t been picked up yet, and a fresh pair of eyes is much more likely to spot a thread in the tapestry that’s the wrong shade of blue than you are using your colour-blind tunnel vision. On the other hand, not all feedback is equally valuable, and if the response calls for you to rip up half of your manuscript and forget the reason you were writing it in the first place, then it may be worth taking a step back and looking at what you can change for the better while retaining the soul of the piece. If, for example, somebody doesn’t think a character works and they outline exactly why they believe this and their reasoning rings true, then this is a good basis for a rewrite. If, on the other hand, somebody simply doesn’t like a character because of the way they speak or act, this isn’t necessarily an invitation for you to lobotomise that character or do away with them entirely. Ultimately, you’re the boss.

By the Feet of Men cover

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