When I first self published Unholy Shepherd, I admittedly didn't sell many books. But those people I did sell to expressed a great deal of interest in where the story was going. Would Maureen begin to embrace her clairvoyant abilities? Maybe she would even learn to control and refine them? Is she ever going to find out what happened to her brother? Well, without spoiling much, here is a quick breakdown of my plan for the series (basically the cover teasers for each of the five planned novels).
Unholy Shepherd (Previously Self-published, Re-release 4/13 Ten16 Press) - For her entire life, Maureen has done nothing but run. Run from her past, run from her nightmares. But when she finds herself intertwined in the investigation of the brutal murders of two young boys, her dreams my hold the key to helping a struggling local detective find justice.
A Perfect Victim (Manuscript Completed, Target release of late October Ten16 Press) - After being asked to help track down a serial killer stalking the Rocky Mountains, taking the inner organs of his victims, Maureen runs afoul of the lead investigator, who would like nothing more than to see her removed from the case. But when another body turns up, they must set aside their differences if they are to track down the murderer. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse leading to a chilling revelation: His next target just might be Maureen herself.
Tag (In progress, Targeting a late summer/early fall release in 2022) - The child of an up-and-coming California politician has been abducted and Maureen is flown in to help. Upon arriving she soon finds out that she is not the only psychic on the case, and worse, her clairvoyant abilities seem to be compromised, casting her as a detriment to getting the child back alive. The seedy underbelly of the political world is laid bare as Maureen and her FBI partners race to find the kidnappers, always seeming to be just one step behind.
In Darkness It Rises (Working Title, anticipated release summer or fall of 2023) - As Maureen begins to be frustratingly aware of her growing notoriety, a notorious serial killer seems to have reemerged after years of peace in Central Arkansas. Since the authorities couldn't catch him before, they decide they need fresh eyes on the case and turn to Maureen and bold, young, FBI Agent, Yvonne Royle. The two women set out against the killer whose true motives for murder might be even more disturbing than the mutilated corpses he is leaving behind.
*Note - this story will be difficult for me to write as it centrally revolves around the LGBTQ community and I really want to get things right. I research all of my books to ensure that they are true to life, but this one I anticipate spending double to triple the time on to ensure that I, a straight white male, can still bring an acceptable level of authenticity.
And All Shall Bow (Anticipated release by the end of 2024) - Maureen's fame has continued to spread, despite her deepest wishes. But all fans are not adoring ones. A shocking murder in the same town where her career investigatory began partners Maureen back up with some familiar faces and a mysterious woman with strange kinship to Maureen herself. As they trail a shadowy organization who is playing a much more sinister game than they imagined, Maureen must battle her own desire for vengeance.
So, there you have it. How do you think Maureen's character arc will play out? Sound off below.
I am going to preface this with something that is very important: I DO NOT BELIEVE IN PSYCHICS!
Okay, that's not entirely true. What I mean is, those "celebrity" psychics that are and were a part of daytime and basic cable television. As far back as Harry Houdini we have the playbook that these people read from; cold reading, targeted guessing, prior research, plants, etc. These folks are no more psychic than I am when I predict the off-tackle cut back lane that's going to be wide open to the opposing team's running back when they play the Packers. (Strap in, there's a very good chance that I might use this platform to rant about my favorite sports teams' shortcomings from time to time).
HOWEVER, I do believe that the universe is all interconnected by an unseen tapestry that a select few may be able to sense on a deeper, more powerful level than the rest of mankind. I tend to explain it this way; all of our acts pluck this invisible network like a guitar string and send ripples out into existence. Some acts, especially those that are malicious or evil, pluck these strings harder than others and certain human beings are simply naturally predisposed to being able to pick up on the vibrations.
As I state in the Author Notes at the end of Unholy Shepherd, it is also my firm belief that the ability to do this would not leave a person wishing to be put in the spotlight, but would instead more likely find themselves troubled by the burden of being able to see what they see and feel what they feel. And so it was with those ideas in mind that I created Maureen's ability, which I titled The Demon Sight. Simply put, the way she perceives these "ripples" in the fabric of reality is that she sees directly through the eyes of those committing such atrocities when she sleeps. She doesn't dream any other dreams and she can block them out with enough drugs or alcohol to prevent her from "normal" sleep. But the dreams will always eventually return.
Maureen's ability also serves as a discussion point on the ideas of the role both God and destiny play in our lives. I will discuss this in future posts, but for right now, I'm curious to know the following:
Do you believe psychics or clairvoyants exist?
Have you ever had or witnessed a psychic experience and would you like to share it?
If you've read the book, do you think Maureen will develop her ability, or will she keep running from it?
Looking forward to the discussions,
For the majority of my formative years, I rejected who I really was in favor of who I believed I needed to be to achieve the most success in life. And by success, I mean money. I grew up in a lower-middle class household in the suburbs of Milwaukee. Neither of my parents held an advanced degree (my father left behind his Associates Degree and career in electronics for the day to day grind of carpentry and my mother was a lifetime secretary, first for various area lawyers and then for the school district I attended). They were married very young (20 and 19 respectively) and I didn't come along until 11 years later. I would be their only child.
My childhood was fairly basic. Benefiting from my parents' sole attention, I developed intellectually at a very high level. I was reading before age 3 and spent any time I was alone making up stories and adventures for me to go on in my own room. My parents couldn't give me everything I wanted as far as material things, but I had everything needed (and looking back, a good amount of what I wanted). School was easy for me, I scored top marks on every standardized test, and I easily got myself accepted at the University of Wisconsin (though I wouldn't today, I don't think). I excelled in music, drama and English and I was a fairly devout christian. (It is my given middle name, after all).
So what was the problem? Short answer. I was also really good at math and science as well and believed the media and government propaganda of the time that "math and science are the way to your future". So I decided that I needed to force myself into a major that most students take six years to complete, one which you're not even supposed to start your prerequisites for until your junior year, right off the bat as a freshman. Meanwhile, I filled out my schedule with more science and math classes and by the time my sophomore year ended, I was on academic probation, partying and drinking more than I was going to class and had completely imploded personally and scholastically. Fortunately, by this time, my parents had finally decided they could divorce now that I was no longer living at home so, as some sort of compromise for that, I was allowed to find my own path.
This path led to forming a couple of bands, eventually pursuing an education in music technology (which is a degree I never even came close to using), getting a steady job with a hotel group, where I did well enough to make enough extra money to pay cash for pretty much anything I wanted for the next eight years before I hit the ceiling in hospitality and moved over to dabble in real estate. Somewhere along the way, I developed my interest in true crime and serialized crime and detective series. And I would begin my first drafts of several different mystery novel concepts, none of which made it past a few chapters.
I soon met an amazing woman and decided I wanted to make her my wife (which she thankfully agreed to). In the first year of our marriage, I began to develop the in-world mythology that would for the basis of The Demon Sight, mainly as a story I would tell in my head to entertain myself as I walked the dog in the wee hours of the morning. Slowly, the first novel began to form, but still, I was a real estate agent first and a writer in my spare time. Then we found out we were pregnant. Suddenly, thanks to the flexibility of my job, I was going to be working from home and accepting the duel role of stay-at-home-dad and taking on only a handful of clients each year. With my wife's encouragement, I decided it was time to buckle down and finally finish Unholy Shepherd before my son was born. And I did.
The two year journey from finishing the book to where we are now, re-releasing the previously self published debut novel with Ten16 Press in Wisconsin, is a tale of trial and error as I learned the lessons most a lot of independent authors learn and maybe one day I'll go into that in further detail. The main point is, after 35 years, I've finally embraced who I was meant to be. When I was young I went through the laundry list of the usual "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up" things: archaeologist, architect, landscape architect, electrical engineer, athlete (golfers are athletes, right?). Yeah, I was a weirdly focused kid. But I never put the things that I was truly best at on the list: writing, music, performance (I mean, come on, I was in every play and musical there was during my time in high school but never joined math club or robotics or even took a shop class. What did I think I was going to end up doing?). Am I going to go on and sell a million books and become a household name in the literary world? I'm going to try, but in some ways, I've already succeeded. I am who I was always meant to be. I am a story-teller. I am a world-builder. I am a writer.
I don't just write novels. I just like to write. This blog will not be polished, it won't be edited closely. There will be spelling and grammar errors and it might drag on in places. But it will be fun, off the cuff, genuine, and hopefully interesting to read!