Category Archives: Essay

Responsibility =/= Blame

Recently finished “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson.  I enjoyed the book, and some of it was a reiteration of things I had heard before.

Even what struck me as important is something I already knew:
Taking responsibility for something does not equal taking the blame for it.

Sometimes, there are things in life which happen just because they happen. Other things happen because some humans are douche bags. Then there are those things which occur because someone likes you. None of these are actually under my control. They are circumstances in my life.

Continue reading Responsibility =/= Blame

Quick Catch-Up

If you’re not a follower of my Facebook page, (Shame!) you probably haven’t heard from me in a while. I post there a lot more than I post here. And I post here more than I send to my newsletter, go figure. Anyway, for those who aren’t up to date on the adventures of my existence, I started a new job. I now work for a Savannah-based State Farm insurance agent as an agent team member. What this means is: my schedule just got shot to crap. I now work from 8-5 Mon-Fri, seems pretty normal right? Yeah, except I haven’t had a standard job in almost a decade. I’m used to going to work around 10 am and being done by like 3 pm. This left me a lot of time to write. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

How is this going to affect my publishing schedule? Yeah, I have one of those. It stated I was going to put out a book a quarter this year. 4 books total over 12 months. “Blades of Fate” comes out on the 1st of April. (PREORDER IT NOW!) I’m at the 95% mark in getting that completed for publication. I have two days left before Amazon wants the manuscript in their grubby paws. Between starting a new job, which included studying to take an exam prior to, and then getting a ridiculous case of the flu I have somehow managed to still not have to move this publication date. As for the other three books I have on the list, I don’t know. We’ll see. As soon as I know something concrete, you’ll know something.

Meantime…”Chains of Fate” is on $0.99 promo through the 29th in preparation for “Blades” on April 1st. I’m madly typing away to make sure “Blades” is ready on time and “Cities in Time” (aka book 3) has an opening chapter I’m not 100% about.

JOY!

Anyway, thanks for hanging through all that when what you really wanted was to read something fun. Here’s an excerpt from “Blades of Fate” for your patience.

Continue reading Quick Catch-Up

Devouring Mother – “The Box”

“What’s in the box?” – Detective David Mills “Se7en”

You spend the entirety of this short film with that exact question on your mind. In “The Box”, one of the four shorts done in “XX”, you are presented with a typical family: mother, father, daughter, son. One day, on the subway, they encounter a man with a wrapped box which he claims is a present. The son widdles his way into getting a look inside and thus starts the downhill slide. He stops eating. Then, like an infection, the lack of hunger passes to his sister, and finally to his father. However, my favorite scene in the whole piece lasts for about one minute and is the grisliest part of the whole film.

Mother lies down to sleep after having asked father about what he and the son talked about. Her concern is hyper-present. He gives her a non-committal answer and goes to sleep. Then a camera cut followed by the camera panning down the mother’s body. As it moves, the viewer notices first spots of blood, then you see her ruined arm followed by her destroyed leg. Yet you know from the beginning of the shot, she is alive. Father cuts away portions of her flesh and offers them to their children. However, watching the family consume her flesh is not the strangest part. The final shot of that scene is a shot of the mother’s face as she breaks into a smile.

The concept of the devouring mother is the mother devouring her young. Instead we are given the idea of the family devouring the mother. The entire scene is done superbly. They don’t spend much time on the grotesquerie, which would have detracted, but stay on the main idea: the family coming together. Her smile signifies her return to the family, her being included again, and the return to happiness that brings.

The viewer is never told what’s in the box. In fact, we’re lead to believe nothing was in the box at all. An idea, which coupled with the mother being the only survivor, must add to her guilt.

“I’m so hungry.”

“Whoever Fights Monsters” written by the man who advised Thomas Harris

As my longtime readers will undoubtedly know, I love Hannibal Lecter. Not in the “I want to marry him” kind of way, but just in the “you are who you are and don’t apologize” sort of adoration. Yes, I am 100% aware he is not a human worth emulating in any regard other than that. Someone who eats other people is not a good role model. Let me just put that out there.

However, since I adore Hannibal, I find myself wondering about the people Hannibal is based on. Thomas Harris created an exceptional serial killer, several in truth, so where did he get those ideas? In doing research about Harris, I came across Robert Ressler. Not a well-known name outside of certain circles, truthfully, but vitally important to the field of research regarding ‘serial killers’. In fact, he is the one who coined the phrase, serial killer. Before that, they were called stranger murders because they didn’t fit the profile common to murder back then which was that a person was generally killed by someone they knew who would be caught fairly quickly.

Fast forward a bit and a dear friend, Isabella Darkwood, walked into our writing group and handed me a book, “Whoever Fights Monsters” by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman. I am ashamed to say I did not start reading right there at the table. In fact, I wouldn’t touch it for months, almost a year. It sat on my bookshelf and stared at me, then I moved to another apartment where it sat on another bookshelf and stared at me. Finally, I picked it up and read it through in three days because I was reading every spare second I was able.

For those of you whose primary understanding of the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit comes from Criminal Minds, you might be a bit disappointed. Ressler makes a point of saying BSU agents are not field agents and they are not usually involved in catching the bad guy beyond doing a profile. However, his discussions of profiling from an infant art into what might possibly be considered a science are fascinating. Learning about the interior workings of the FBI is enlightening, including how the unit went from being two men with an apprentice to the creation of VICAP. A lot can happen in 20 years.

Serial killers, according to Ressler, fit into three categories presented along a sliding scale: Organized, Disorganized, and Mixed. The distinctions, though not as stark as some would like, are markable and this gets me to why I find this important.

A couple years ago, I wrote a novel “Hush” which includes a serial killer stalking a psychic. I based my villain on what I knew of serial killers at the time, which includes a lot of pop culture depictions. I have not published “Hush” because I simply haven’t gone through and made sure I enjoy it enough to send to other people. However, having read Ressler’s book, now I want to go back and profile my own killer and see if I can make him more interesting and more realistic. Is this necessary? No, not at all. However, it will make me happy and that is enough. Perhaps it will even make others happy. That would be even more than I could hope for.