Friday, May 24, 2013

The Rage's Echo Cover Reveal!

For those of you who are new to my neck of the Internet woods, you should know that I write speculative fiction and suspense. (Specu-spense? Suspecu-fiction?) Something like that.

Also, some of you may be aware that my next novel RAGE'S ECHO will be released later this year. No word on the exact date yet. My publisher is keeping me in suspense just as I am keeping you in suspense by beating around the bush. You really want to see that cover, don't you? Because I've been talking about RAGE'S ECHO for a long time--over a year, in fact. I have enticed you with the opening chapter. I have piqued your curiosity by making a teaser poster using the materials I found in an art kit that I've had probably since I was eight. (Immortal paint, anyone?)


Sometimes I get carried away.

You may notice that I have not yet shown you the actual cover. "Why are you doing this to us?" you might ask. "We want to see it!!!"

Two reasons: I am an author of suspense. Or specu-spense. And I will not be revealing the cover until my author page on Facebook reaches 600 "likes." As of this writing, we're only 42 shy of that number. (You can find the page here: I think we can get to 600 soon enough. Don't you?

I'll give you a hint: The cover is reflected in my glasses.

I have been truly blessed by the 558 of you who have already shown your support by "liking" my page, as well as the untold number of you who have taken the time to review my work, pray for me, and lift me up when I am down. It is so difficult being a new, relatively unheard-of author, and I couldn't have gotten to where I am today without your love and support. 

I would like to thank Kara, Valerie, Abby, Michael, Casey, the Dustins, Jason, Janie, Catherine, Donna, Evan, Gavin, Josh, Reuben, Taylor, Clint, Vanessa, Rhonda, Don, Richard, and many others who have aided me in my journey in their own special ways. I would like to thank Erin Healy for her wisdom and advice; and my family for believing in me. And most of all, I would like to thank the One who made it all possible.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Might be a Dekkie if...

Or, "Signs you might be reading too much Dekker." If it is possible to do such a thing.

1. You visit the White House and wonder where the statue of Thomas Hunter went.

2. You wonder if the fancy writing journal you received for Christmas is actually a blank Book of History.

3. Your parish priest comes through your checkout line with duct tape and garden shears in his cart and you immediately call the cops.

4. Noxzema is your moisturizer of choice.

5. Steak and wine sounds like the perfect dinner.

6. The name "Eve" sends a cold chill down your spine. I see you, Daniel...

7. You've contemplated the possibility that you might be someone's multiple personality.

8. You have a fear of receiving a severed finger in the mail.

9. You think this is the dream.

10. You see someone buying a pack of Marlboro Blacks and for a split second you swore it said "Marsuvees."


11. You know the significance of the term "Blue Monkey."

12. You are a blue monkey living in a brown monkey world.

13. You have "Dekkerated" your office in Dekker quotes.

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14. You develop dry skin and immediately fear that you've become part of the Horde.

15. You hold a certain fondness for jumping into lakes.

16. You turn on the news hoping to hear updates about the Raison Strain, momentarily forgetting that it isn't real. OR IS IT?

17. You schedule your vacations and family events around Dekker book signings.

18. You really can't wait to die--but you mean that in a good way.

19. You're afraid that your evil clone is going to hunt you down and kill you.

20. The phrase "Wanna trip, baby?" makes you burst into fits of giggles.

21. You want this necklace.

22. People find you slightly unusual.

23. But you don't mind.

24. You've put more than 200 round-trip miles on your car to attend a Dekker event.

25. You come home from said event and find out that THIS is what your picture looked like:

That awkward moment when an author encounters another member of her species.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Problem of Villainy

Everybody loves a good villain. And of course by "good" I really mean "evil," because that's what villains are good at: being evil.

Some of my favorite characters from both books and movies are the villains. I think it's because they're often more complex than our faithful protagonists. What caused him or her to act the way he or she does? What factors in their life influenced their villainy? Will they learn the errors of their ways? Why? Why? Why?

I'll illustrate this by analyzing one of my favorite villains; a barber by the name of Sweeney Todd. But of course that isn't his real name. He was once called Benjamin Barker, and he had a wife who was very beautiful. Together they had a daughter named Joanna.

Benjamin was a good man. He loved his family. But then...

"There was a barber and his wife, and she was beautiful... A foolish barber and his wife. She was his reason and his life...and she was beautiful, and she was virtuous. And he was naive. There was another man who saw that she was beautiful... A pious vulture of the law who, with a gesture of his claw removed the barber from his plate! Then there was nothing but to wait! And she would fall! So soft! So young! So lost and oh so beautiful!"

The cruel Judge Turpin wrongfully accuses Benjamin of a crime he did not commit and has him sent to an Australian penal colony so that he can have his way with Benjamin's wife, Lucy. Fifteen years later Benjamin escapes and returns to London using the alias "Sweeney Todd." He finds out that Lucy killed herself and that Judge Turpin has taken in Joanna Barker as his ward, who is basically imprisoned in his home.

Sweeney decides that he must get revenge on the judge. After teaming up with the cheerful but ever-sinister Mrs. Lovett who happens to own a pie shop that sits beneath Sweeney's old barber shop, they decide that Sweeney will practice getting revenge on the judge by slaughtering his barber shop clients and baking them into meat pies in order to hide the bodies.

The plan seems to work flawlessly. Since Sweeney Todd is a musical, throats are gleefully slashed and bodies are sent down a chute to be butchered all while the characters sing pleasant songs that I enjoy listening to again and again.

Yes, it's disturbing. But it's also FUNNY. Because seriously--PIES? You're killing people and having unwitting customers pay to eat them? It's laughable. Good old Sweeney. You may be a creep, but we still love you because you're messed up and we feel sorry for you because of all the crap you've gone through in your life.

Now for the flip side of the Problem of Villainy: the kind of villain who is real.

There is a man named Kermit Gosnell whom some of you may have heard of. He is a real, flesh-and-blood human being. He exists. He is not the product of an author's imagination--which is unfortunate.


Gosnell provided abortions to women from 1972 until January 2011, when he was arrested for eight counts of murder against newborns and a Nepali refugee named Karnamaya Mongar who died as a result of the abortion performed on her. When Gosnell's Philadelphia clinic was raided, it was discovered that he had been reusing medical instruments on women without sterilizing them and that cats had wandered freely in the clinic and left urine and feces everywhere that evidently were not cleaned up.

This may sound bad, but it gets worse. Gosnell hired teenagers to administer anesthesia to patients, and unlicensed medical personnel helped perform the procedures. The remains of 45 fetuses were found stuck in the freezer in milk jugs and orange juice cartons. Investigators also found a row of jars containing only the severed feet of fetuses Gosnell had killed, as if he were a serial killer collecting trophies from his tiny victims.

To top it all off, Gosnell has admitted that as many as three fetuses were born alive each day. Many of these were viable and far past the legal abortion limit of 24 weeks. To solve the problem of having living babies in the clinic, he or a worker would stab the babies in the back of the neck with a pair of scissors in order to sever their spinal cord. If these babies had received medical treatment instead of virtual beheadings, they very likely would still be alive today and in the loving arms of adoptive families.

I have a vivid imagination. I know that the babies would have been crying and flailing and struggling to breathe. Gosnell never gave them a chance. He committed, in essence, infanticide.

It makes me sick. It makes me burn with a righteous rage knowing that he got by with this for years because inspectors never responded to complaints from former patients. I don't care what Gosnell's childhood was like. I don't care why he decided to become an abortionist. I only care about the victims who died at his hand and pray that they will receive justice.

Nobody is laughing at Gosnell, either.

But this gets me thinking. Is it okay to laugh at Sweeney Todd and his murderous actions because he isn't real? Or is it wrong to do so simply because murder itself IS real, and by laughing at its fictional portrayal I am somehow being disrespectful of those who have been purposely killed by another human being? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need to reexamine my conscience? Because I would never, EVER laugh at a real-life murderer. It isn't funny. So why would I laugh at a murderer who never existed?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Speaking vs. Writing: The Power of Word Choice and Editing

I'm not much of a talker. Part of it is because I don't always know the right thing to say, so it's safer just to be quiet and listen. Part of it is because I'm always thinking. When I'm awake there are about ten quintillion thoughts bouncing through my head:

Look there's a fork on the table you know what you can do with a fork you can stab someone's eye out with it THAT'S IT when the protagonist is trapped in the house with the killer he can use a fork as a primitive weapon and poke the killer to death so he can escape.


You know what I'd like to do I'd like to sell a MILLION books so I can move to the mountains and I can have a beautiful landscaped patio with a beautiful view of mountains and it will be isolated so no one will bother me and I can get up as late as I want to in the morning and drink my coffee sitting outside with my laptop and I can write and write and write and it will be awesome.

Writing is much easier for me than speaking. When I write, I tweak each sentence to perfection. I might edit a page twenty or more times until it is just right. And it takes time. LOTS of time. Sometimes I agonize over my word choice so much that I have to start praying, "God, help me out here! Please show me how to word this in a new and intriguing way!"

And it works.

Speaking, however, is a different story. When writing, my rough drafts are more worthy of lining the bottom of a bird cage than of being read. The final edited product usually bears little resemblance to the first draft. My problem with speaking is that in a way, the stuff that comes out of my mouth is a rough draft. It stinks. I can't write down every single conversation ahead of time and tweak it to perfection. Plus, I constantly jumble my words so that what comes out doesn't quite sound like English. I remember one embarrassing moment when I was telling my mother about one of my classmates. I said, "Our nockers are lext to each other."


Imagine the ensuing horror.

Other times I'll just flat-out say something in a way that other people interpret in a way I had never intended them to. Earlier this week I was telling my mother-in-law about all the yard work I've been doing lately. I said, "Yeah, I been goin' out at night with a flashlight 'n a shaker a salt so I can get ma slugs." (Clermont County accent added.) She gave me this My-God-what-is-wrong-with-you look and asked, "What are you doing with them?"

"Killing them!" I said. "Cuz they're killing all my plants!"

She had thought that I was gathering them to eat.


What I should have said was, "We currently have a slug infestation in our flowerbed. They are devouring our plants at an astonishing rate. I have been countering their attacks by going out at night with a flashlight and shaker of salt so I can dissolve them where they lay, thus saving my plants from certain consumption."

But I didn't say that. I opened my big mouth and blurted a string of gibberish like a dummy. Would that I could speak in a way that would never make one question my sanity!

(Word choice, Jenn. Word choice. It is a powerful thing.)

Random Internet cat cannot believe the occasional stupidity of the author. But hey, nobody's purrfect.