Tips on Writing That First Novel – and All That Follow (Part 3)

This is my final installment (Part 3) of my three-part series on a recent talk and interview I did recently about my latest thriller novel release.

As I’ve mentioned previously, my local writers’ group—The San Antonio Writers Guild—invited me to be the guest speaker at their August meeting. They asked me to speak about the process of writing a novel, how I choose the plots for my novels, and what skills I needed to learn before starting that first novel. The focus of the talk was aimed not only to first time novelists but also to those struggling with their works in progress (WIP).

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been sharing aspects of my talk about my journey from an aspiring writer to published author with now four books on my author page at several publishing sites.

This is the third and final posting on the subject.

In that talk, I stated that there were several criteria, or skills, a writer should have before starting a novel.

In my humble opinion, there are six pillars of successful novel writing. These are 1) having confidence to express your innermost thoughts, 2) a familiarity with the subject matter of your plot, 3) researching your subject matter well, 4) consider attending seminars and classes to become a better writer, 5) seek the support and guidance of other writers, and finally, 6) become a habitual writer by writing often.

In the last weeks, I wrote about “Confidence,” “Subject Matter Familiarity,” “Importance of Research,” and “Learning to become a Better Writer.”

Parts 1 and 2 can be found HERE and HERE, respectively.

Today, I will address what I believe to be the last two pillars of successful writing. These are:

SUPPORT OF FELLOW WRITERS: There is no better advice I can give a would-be author than to write something and read it aloud in front of a critique group. No matter how good we think our writing is, there is always room for improvement. That point is proven every time I bring ten pages of my WIP to a critique group, read them out loud, and the dozen or so attendees give me feedback about the good and bad of what I’ve written. No matter if the group is small (6 or less) or larger groups (no more than 20, I would say), it’s important to let other experienced writers critique your work and to listen to that advice. By the same token, listening to what other writers have to say about other peoples’ works is an education in itself. Even with all the seminars and classes I’ve taken to develop my writing skills, the critique classes I’ve been involved in continue to be educational and worth the time commitment. Often, these same writers/authors in a critique class can become your editors and beta-readers before publishing your novel.

WRITING OFTEN: Become a habitual writer. I have a framed photo in my office over my desk that says the best way to write a bestseller is to first sit down and take the time to write one. After learning the skills of writing and the structure of plotting a novel, you have to put in the hours to write the book. Writing becomes a habit if you do it often (at least four times per week). If you write approximately the same time of day in the same place (like the same office or desk), that habit will allow you to “get into the writing mood” so much faster. I find that I need to tune out the noise of the world around me, and the noise in my head from daily distractions, to write effectively. Writing each day on a regular schedule in my office signals my mind that it’s time to tune out everything else and focus on my book, that it’s time to create and interact with my characters. Whatever else is happening in the world around me can wait and the regular schedule helps outside distractions melt away.

Lastly, I was asked how I plan my novels—my process for plotting out my novels. Some authors write from chapter one linearly to the ending, and some plot out the chapters in an outline before tackling the writing.

With my last two novels, I plotted out the general arc of the plots on a storyboard, written the first few chapters to build my characters’ worlds, and then I wrote the ending chapters next. That way when I constructed the remaining chapters of the books, I knew where I was going and what ending goal I had in mind. I deviate as necessary to make the plot work and to create additional excitement, but writing the ending before the rest of the book helps me stay focused.

If you want to read about my novel involving a sinister plot for an investigational drug study turned upside down, pick up a copy of my international thriller Lethal Medicine HERE.

If you want to read about my novel involving an international conspiracy to hijack the world’s prescription manufacturing and supply industry, pick up a copy of my medical thriller Imperfect Murder HERE.

If you want a bit more background on my detective duo, Homicide Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez, pick up a copy of their first book called Almost Dead HERE.

If you want to read about a serial killer that will break your heart in the process, pick up a copy of The Serial Chemist HERE

THE SERIAL CHEMIST is my Latest Thriller! If you like the TV series Dexter, CSI, or Criminal Minds, you will LOVE this one!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

All of my books are available on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and can be ordered from your local library. And, of course, all are available to order in a paperback version.

James J. Murray is available for presentations and interviews with writers’ groups, book clubs, and more. Leave a reply to this blog with contact information, or email james@jamesjmurray.com.

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Tips on Writing That First Novel – and All That Follow (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of my three-part installment on a recent talk and interview about my latest novel release.

As I mentioned last week, my local writers’ group—The San Antonio Writers Guild—invited me to be the guest speaker at their August meeting. They asked me to speak about the process of writing a novel, how I choose the plots for my novels, and what skills I needed to learn before starting that first novel. The focus of the talk was aimed at not only first time novelists but also those struggling with their works in progress (WIP).

Over these next couple of weeks, I’d like to share the remaining aspects of my talk about my journey from an aspiring writer to a published author with now four books on my author page at several publishing sites.

This is the second posting of three on the subject.

I began that talk by stating that there were several criteria, or skills, a writer should have before starting a novel.

In my humble opinion, there are six pillars of successful novel writing. These are 1) having confidence to express your innermost thoughts, 2) a familiarity with the subject matter of your plot, 3) researching your subject matter well, 4) consider attending seminars and classes to become a better writer, 5) seek the support and guidance of other writers, and finally, 6) become a habitual writer by writing often.

Last week, I wrote about “Confidence” and “Subject Matter Familiarity.” Today, I will address the next two pillars of successful writing, and next week the last two. These next two pillars are:

RESEARCH: As much as I wanted to write a thriller when I sat down at my computer that first day to start my first novel, I knew that I should write about something familiar. I knew all about investigational drug studies and clinical pharmacy—the science of intravenous drug therapy and the business of testing those innovative new drugs in clinical trials that was my profession—but I needed to add a sinister twist for entertainment value. The international drug trade and all the lethal happenings in that sinister world was my research.

I studied article upon article regarding how international drug trade happens and how the drug cartel bosses function and get caught. The marriage of clinical drug trials devolving into international drug trade and drug cartels became my first novel, Lethal Medicine.

These days, in addition to considerable online research, I seek out experts in the field I’m writing about. With that first novel, I didn’t want to find and interview a member of a drug cartel (might be way too dangerous for a pharmacist turned author), and I didn’t feel confident enough to seek out the guidance of a DEA agent. After four books, however, I’ve learned that experts in the subject matter you are writing about are happy to freely share their expertise with you.

In my latest novel, The Serial Chemist, which deals with the subject of a serial killer acting on uncontrollable impulses developed from childhood abuse, I sought out the expertise of two clinical psychologists, an expert in forensics, a legal expert and a past law enforcement officer. I assure you I knew little about serial killers before relying on these experts for guidance, but with their help and patience I became confident enough to tackle the subject, as long as I knew they could help me edit the finished manuscript for accuracy.

LEARN TO BE A BETTER WRITER: Just as in other life endeavors, education is the key to success. After I wrote my first draft of that first novel, I liked the basics of it, but I knew it lacked suspense and polish. I wrote too much about what I was comfortable with (clinical pharmacy) and less about the entertaining part (the drug culture and all the sinister, thrilling stuff that makes a plot pop for the reader).

So, I took classes and attended seminars—on how to make dialogue sound like normal speak, how to add backstories in an entertaining way, how to write narrative that is dynamic and moves the story forward with each sentence, how to integrate narrative and dialogue effectively, and how important that first sentence of the first paragraph of that first chapter is and the writing skill necessary to propel that initial impression and strength through that first chapter and into those that follow. It takes work to do that, and a successful author must put in the time to learn the skills of writing and practice those skills often to become a better writer.

More about my writing advice and those last two pillars of writing your bestseller will be coming next week.

If you want to read about my novel involving a sinister plot for an investigational drug study turned upside down that I mentioned earlier, pick up a copy of my international thriller Lethal Medicine HERE.

If you want to read about a serial killer that will break your heart in the process, pick up a copy of my novel The Serial Chemist HERE.

Both are available on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and can be ordered from your local library.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

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Tips on Writing That First Novel – and All That Follow (Part 1)

Recently, I was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of my local writers’ group—The San Antonio Writers Guild—and they asked me to speak about the process of writing a novel, how I choose the plots for my novels, and what skills I needed to learn before starting that first novel. The focus of the talk was planned not only for first time novelists but also for those struggling with their works in progress (WIP).

Since I have now published four novels and contributed short stories to four anthologies, I suppose they considered me, if not an expert, then surely an “experienced” author. I was flattered that they asked me to speak. I accepted and really enjoyed the experience of talking about my writing journey and how I’ve grown as a writer.

Being interviewed as an author is a fairly new experience for me. Even with me posting a blog since 2012 and publishing my first novel in 2015, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around people being interested in my work as an author. However, my confidence continues to build each time one of my books achieves another five-star review on Amazon.

Over these next three weeks, I’d like to share aspects of my talk about my journey from an aspiring writer to a published author with now four books on my author page at several publishing sites.

This is the first posting of three on the subject.

I began the talk by stating that there were several criteria or skills a writer should have before starting a novel because writing a novel is no easy task. As an analogy to my running experience, if a short story is a 5K race (3.1 miles), then a novel is a full marathon (26.2 miles).

In my humble opinion, there are six pillars of successful novel writing. These are 1) having confidence to express your innermost thoughts, 2) a familiarity with the subject matter of your plot, 3) researching your subject matter well, 4) consider attending seminars and classes to become a better writer, 5) seek the support and guidance of other writers, and finally, 6) become a habitual writer by writing often.

Today, I will address those first two and write about the other four in two more weekly installments.

CONFIDENCE: We all have thoughts and opinions to share that we are knowledgeable about. We can even be called experts in those certain things. First, having the confidence to share that knowledge is a huge initial step. It’s confidence-building to lay out that familiar knowledge logically or entertainingly on paper or screen for publication.

SUBJECT MATTER FAMILIARITY: I write murder mysteries and thrillers, not so much because I live that kind of life (certainly not!!), but because that’s what I’ve read for enjoyment most of my life and those are the kinds of plots I relate to the most. I’ve always been a “what if” kind of guy and have taken life experiences and thought about ways to twist them into something sinister for a better story in my mind. No one reads boring stuff, but to take a bit of fact and weave that one piece of truth into an entertaining plot is interesting and something I strived for.

More about my writing advice and those other four pillars of writing that bestseller next week, and the week after that.

One Last Comment: The above is just the first part of my 45-minute talk to my local writers’ club. Fortunately, the talk was over Zoom and attendees were asked to mute their microphones until the Q&A session that was to follow.

When the Q&A time arrived, someone in the audience asked exactly what I knew they would. “So, you said you write about what you know, and you’ve just published a book about a serial killer.” The person paused for a long moment before asking, “Should we be worried about you or what?”

After a good laugh, I confirmed that everyone was safe, including my wife. She learned long ago that my devious mind only showed itself on paper or the computer screen and never in real life.

I have been a fan of the TV series Criminal Minds for years and in the recent past have become a fan of the Netflix series Dexter. I decided that I wanted to write about a troubled mind, but to present the subject in such a manner that the reader would be both outraged and sympathetic to the character at the same time. I decided that a book about a troubled, tormented individual should elicit an equally conflicted response from my readers.

I think I succeeded since two of my beta-readers told me they cried at the end, and I just noticed that I got my first five-star rating on Amazon for my recently published The Serial Chemist novel.

If you want to read about my novel involving a sinister plot for an investigational drug study that I mentioned earlier, pick up a copy of my international thriller Lethal Medicine HERE.

If you want to read about a serial killer that will break your heart in the process, pick up a copy of my novel The Serial Chemist HERE.

Both are available on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and can be ordered from your local library.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, A Murder Mystery Novel, A Mystery Novel, A New Novel By James J. Murray, A New Psychological Thriller Release, A New Thriller Novel, A Thriller Novel, A Writer's Psyche, About James J. Murray, About Murder, About Writing, Acids with Systemic Toxicity, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Chemical Poisons, Designer Drug Deaths, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Developing Writing Skills, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Fiction Writing - A Believable Lie, Fictional Character Development, Ideas for Murder Scenes, James J. Murray's LETHAL MEDICINE Novel, James J. Murray's THE SERIAL CHEMIST, Lethal Medicine Thriller Novel, Lethal Medicine-The Novel, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Mystery Novel, New Blog, New Book Is Published, New Book Release, New Thriller To Download, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Art of Storytelling, The Art of Writing, The Science of Murder, The Serial Chemist, The Serial Chemist - A Psychological Thriller Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

THE SERIAL CHEMIST – A New Psychological Thriller Novel

Now Available in eBook and Paperback Formats

The Serial Chemist plot has been one that I developed a couple of years ago and evolved it over time with the help of two psychologist experts and with the help of individuals knowledgeable in forensics and law enforcement.

Taking the time to evolve a logical, believable plot scenario that elicits both outrage and sympathy for a villain was my goal. I hope you enjoy this thriller novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I love writing about the Rosie Young/Vince Mendez dynamic detective duo and love that I place them in sometimes impossible crime-solving situations. There is yet another novel in process with Rosie and Vince in the spotlight for next year, and already it promises to be great.

SYNOPSIS of THE SERIAL CHEMIST:

Emile and his brother Cecil live a calm, predictable adult existence. Everything is orderly and without disruption, when suddenly it isn’t. With the death of their mother and the loss of her guiding wisdom, Emile finds it increasingly more difficult to keep the promise to keep his brother safe.

In their most challenging of cases to date, Detectives Rosie Young and partner Vince Mendez embark on a race against time to stop one of San Antonio’s most cunning murderers, a villain with a particular talent to strike and kill but leave only pristine crime scenes in his wake. With the help of clinical psychologist Dr. Chris Parker, Rosie and Vince journey into the mind of a serial killer to understand exactly what type of monster roams their city targeting dads of small boys.

The question both detectives and Dr. Parker must answer is what emotional baggage creates a deranged mind that suddenly transitions to cunning killer and eludes the best of police forensics. Scant crime scene evidence and a mounting body count spur Rosie and Vince to use every tool at their disposal to pursue the perpetrator before he kills again.

If you like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Criminal Minds or The Mentalist, you will LOVE The Serial Chemist.

The Serial Chemist eBook and Paperback can be ordered NOW.

ORDER e-Book for $4.99 HERE

ORDER Paperback for $16.99 HERE

 

 

 

 

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New Psychological Thriller Available NOW!

The Serial Chemist

A new Detective Rosie Young                                                                                        & Vince Mendez Psychological Thriller

Now Available for Download!          

SYNOPSIS:

Emile and his brother Cecil live a calm, predictable adult existence. Everything is orderly and without disruption, when suddenly it isn’t. With the death of their mother and the loss of her guiding wisdom, Emile finds it increasingly more difficult to keep the promise to keep his brother safe.

In their most challenging of cases to date, Detectives Rosie Young and partner Vince Mendez embark on a race against time to stop one of San Antonio’s most cunning murderers, a villain with a particular talent to strike and kill but leave only pristine crime scenes in his wake. With the help of clinical psychologist Dr. Chris Parker, Rosie and Vince journey into the mind of a serial killer to understand exactly what type of monster roams their city targeting dads of small boys.

The question both detectives and Dr. Parker must answer is what emotional baggage creates a deranged mind that suddenly transitions to cunning killer and eludes the best of police forensics. Scant crime scene evidence and a mounting body count spur Rosie and Vince to use every tool at their disposal to pursue the perpetrator before he kills again.

If you like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Criminal Minds or The Mentalist, you will LOVE The Serial Chemist.

The Serial Chemist eBook can be ordered NOW.

$2.00 Off -> Introductory Price is $2.99 -> available NOW.

ORDER HERE: amzn.to/2ON3CFn

 

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Living in a Novel

This year of 2020 held such great promise for me, as it did for so many others, when BOOM—what happened?

Life, with all its uncertainties, challenges and unexpected surprises, threw us a new curve ball. The novel coronavirus pandemic, commonly known as COVID-19, happened and upended all of our lives, some to a greater or lesser extent than others.

For some, the virus was a death sentence. For others, their lives will be forever changed in other ways, and their futures are being rewritten one day at a time—one struggle at a time.

Although I’ve written about super bugs and the potential for pandemics in past blogs, I’m no expert on the issue. Although I remain isolated and in good health, many do not have that option to watch from the sidelines.

Those many challenges are highlighted on a daily basis on a multitude of news outlets. The histories and ongoing memoirs of those affected by this disease are chronicled daily in multiple news features.

As of late, with the current protests and ongoing struggles for racial equality, there are people collecting bits and pieces of that evolving history for future preservation in museums or for the written word.

This blog is not about addressing either the pandemic or racial equality struggles. The point I make is that we should all take a moment to reflect on the fact that we are witnessing history in the making—history that our future generations will read about in yet unwritten books.

In the years to come, many books (both fiction and non-fiction) will be written about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it changed life for so many, and many more books (again both fiction and non-fiction) will be written about the current social unrest and the societal changes that will result. Nations across the globe will be included in that change.

How many books will be written about the year 2020? How many of us, as authors, will tackle aspects of the events of this year and turn those happenings into linguistic works of art?

We are all living our personal novels right now and we are choosing the subject matter for each unwritten paragraph and chapter of our novels as we begin each new day.

I wonder how many books are evolving in people’s minds that will become literary reality in the years to come—whether that future author knows it or not as yet.

In my time of isolation and the disruptions to my normal existence, I have been fortunate to have had the time to complete a thriller novel that I’ve been working on for more than a year. It is in the editing stage at present with cover artwork to be completed soon. It is scheduled to be published in August. Links to the pre-sale will be available in less than a month.

That fact is the good that’s come out of this health tragedy for me personally. One personal casualty of this pandemic is that my next planned novel (book three in my Jon Masters series) was going to involve Jon facing the challenge of preventing a world pandemic from the release of a deadly pathogen with no known cure.

At this point, I don’t have the appetite to further that plot, and I’m sure there would be little reader appetite for such a novel. After all, how could I create more drama than we are all presently living? I’ll start that next novel, but the plot will definitely be much different than originally imagined.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A Murder Mystery Novel, A New Novel By James J. Murray, A Thriller Novel, A Writer's Psyche, A Year To Remember, About James J. Murray, About Writing, All About Writing, Blog Trends, Blog Writers, Blogging, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Events of The Year 2020, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Pandemic 2020, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Prescription For Murder Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Memorial Day Reflection

Today initiates the Memorial Day holiday weekend in the United States.

With the current COVID-19 health crisis at hand, it will be a much different celebration than in previous years. I wonder how much celebrating will be happening around the country with our social distancing guidelines still in place in many parts of the US.

Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 and first observed on May 30th of that year when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. This day of remembrance was set aside to commemorate those soldiers who gave their lives in the American Civil War.

There is rich history regarding how the fallen were remembered in the Union territories as compared to Confederate territories. But the common thread was that the graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated on a certain date each May and a “dinner on the ground” often followed the decoration ceremony.

By the early 20th century, Memorial Day evolved into a more general expression of remembrance of all the deceased who had served in the military, and in 1971 Memorial Day became an official federal holiday. 

We reflect on the sacrifices of military personnel and the loss to their families even as we celebrate that the price of those losses results in continued freedom and a stronger nation.

Enjoy your holiday weekend! Be Safe and Healthy during these trying times and take a moment to reflect on those heroes from past wars and for those who fought a recent heroic battle with this deadly virus.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

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Optimism for the Future of Medicine

As each of us attempts to manage our personal and professional challenges during the current COVID-19 crisis, we can also take a moment to look into the future and marvel at medical breakthroughs that are on the horizon.

I purposely chose not to focus on the COVID-19 crisis in this blog and the multitude of issues involved for one general reason. There are so many news articles, government projections, speculations, practical advice and misinformation that I decided to step away from that mental assault for a moment.

Although I have often blogged about the surge in antibiotic-resistant super bugs and about possible apocalyptic micro-organisms, there are meaningful research projects going on that focuses on the betterment of life post-COVID-19.

Here are a couple of cutting-edge research endeavors that include some of my favorite technology that I believe will define human existence in the future.

Nano-Technology:

The Swedish company Amferia provides innovative medical devices worldwide, but they also develop solutions to the ongoing global antibiotic resistance crisis.

Recently, this company initiated work on technology that reconfigures standard materials at the molecular level to produce unique substances never before envisioned. This company developed a rubbery nanomaterial that seamlessly integrates with the human body.

Originally, researchers set out to create a bone replacement material; but, by simply manipulating just the right carbon mix at the molecular level, a rubbery texture that could replace cartilage resulted. Further molecular manipulations produced a soft, flexible and extremely elastic material that could one day replace human tissue.

The implications of these discoveries are enormous for replacing cartilage that breaks down in aging joints, tissue regeneration from serious burns, and a whole host of other beneficial human uses. This technology could be the game-changer in trauma-related reconstructive surgeries.

3-D Printer Technology:

I’ve blogged before about the marvels of 3-D printers in medicine, but new innovations have come to light recently.

One recent and immediate use is that a hospital in Italy is using 3-D printer technology to print replacement parts for broken intensive care unit equipment. Specifically, the current need is for replacement of ventilator valves much sooner than standard suppliers could replace them. This became an unexpected life-saving idea never before envisioned and could be useful going forward to 3-D print needed medical devices to fulfil immediate patient needs.

On a more long-term 3-D printing research project, scientists in Israel have been the first to successfully 3-D print a small heart using lab-grown living tissue. The printed tissue included blood vessels, collagen and biological heart tissue.

Although 3-D printed artificial organs and other artificial body replacement parts have been used in medicine, this technology is the first to use biologically-compatible living tissue.

This research is still in its infancy and the process has only produced a rodent-sized heart at this point, but this technical advance could one day become the medical standard for organ replacement if this research continues as expected.

At this time of personal and professional upheaval with the worldwide viral pandemic, it’s comforting to know that there is research out there that looks beyond this crisis to better times and an optimistic medical future.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

While shuttered at home and practicing social distancing, if you need some interesting reads, check out my books on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/jamesjmurray

 

Posted in 3D Printed Skin, 3D Printing, 3D Printing of Body Parts, 3D Printing of Human Tissue, 3D Replicators, A Jon Masters Novel, A Murder Mystery Novel, A Mystery Novel, About James J. Murray, Advances in Cardiac Medicine, Blog Writers, Blogging, Future Medical Breakthroughs, Future of Medicine, Heart-Saving Technology, Imperfect Murder Thriller Novel, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's ALMOST DEAD, James J. Murray's IMPERFECT MURDER Novel, James J. Murray's LETHAL MEDICINE Novel, Jon Masters Thriller Series, Medical Advances in 3-D Printer Technology, Medical Technology Advances, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Nano Technology, Nano Technology for Human Tissue Development, Nanoparticle Technology, Nanoparticle Technology in Medicine, Nanoparticles for Medical Cures, Nanoparticles in Medicine, New Blog, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Prescription For Murder Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Beginnings in the New Year!

January always starts off with great hope and promise.

For me, that means more writing and the great hope to finish the novel still sitting on my desk. I’ve made much progress on the research in the last couple of months. I’ve interviewed a clinical psychologist and then a forensics psychologist to “get it right” with this serial killer character.

With the colder, more dreary winter weather, however, writing about a serial killer can also be a buzz kill. The isolation of writing and the subject matter I’m tackling have made me a bit gloomy every now and then.

I know that scientists warn of winter gloominess and they even have a name for it—Seasonal Affected Disorder, SAD for short. Layman often refer to this syndrome as the “Winter Blues.” I wrote a blog about that last winter. See HERE to refer to that blog and to find some easy fixes to lighten one’s mood.

My fix is to take a ten-day cruise on the waters down south for some fun and sun.

I’ll be back towards the end of January to again sit in my writer’s chair and finish this serial killer novel.

In the meantime, here’s a first draft of the first chapter of my book: (Copyright, James J. Murray, Author, Interaction Media Publishing, LLC.)

Emile Richards turned in the direction of the sound, a sound so familiar and yet alien—not science fiction alien, but a timbre once removed from reality. It came from deep within his brother Cecil, a guttural moan that signaled profound unrest. It sent a chill up Emile’s spine every time that sound reached his eardrums, whether it be in the light of day or the still of night moments before dawn when Cecil cried out in his sleep.

That sound . . . an assault on Emil’s eardrums that then bounced around his brain—for an eternity it seemed—until the emotion that welled up within him could be contained.

Glancing down the sidewalk toward his brother, Emile watched as Cecil rocked back and forth on his heels, the canvas of his athletic shoes stretching each time his toes left the ground. His hands writhed in rhythm with the motion of his feet while he stared into the distance.

Emile put the bag of groceries down on the ground and walked toward Cecil. As he did so, his hands contracted into fists. Fighting to control a racing heartbeat, he stopped to unclench his hands and take a deep breath. Control, control the eruption, protect Cecil, he thought.

A man approached from the left and asked, “Is everything okay here?”

No, not by a long shot, Emile almost blurted out, but instead he managed, “Sure, it’s all good. Sorry to disturb you. I just need to catch my breath.”

The man looked directly at Emile with a furrowed brow. “You need me to call someone, maybe get some help?”

Cecil shied away from the man and folded into Emile’s arms. Emile glanced at the man and shrugged with a half-hearted laugh. “It’s fine, a momentary thing.”

The man stepped back, hesitated a moment—his brow creasing a bit more—but finally he said, “Okay, sounds like you have it under control. I’ll let you be.” He turned and walked away, glancing back only once before focusing on his five-year old son again.

Moments earlier the five-year old had demanded ice cream and the dad had scolded him, told him no more sweets until tomorrow. When the child flung himself to the ground and pounded the earth, the dad had yanked him up by his shirt to a standing position and shook the boy. As if remembering the moment with a dash of shame, the dad smiled and kissed the boy’s forehead. “It’s okay, buddy. Let’s get you some ice cream.”

Emile watched the man interact with the child, studied his every movement as the dad hugged the boy and tussled his hair—too little, too late, a daddy bully. Emile pinched his lips together, felt the familiar loathing, but suppressed it once again.

Finally, the man scooped the son into his arms and headed to the parking lot.

Turning to his brother, Emile loosened the hold on him. It had been easier to protect and comfort his brother when they were younger. Cecil was six years his junior and always small as a child. Now, as a man of twenty and almost a foot taller than Emile, Cecil outweighed him and was not so easy to control, particularly when an episode happened.

That’s what the doctors at the hospital called it—an episode! They also described it with a string of multi-syllable words. What it all boiled down to, however, was “not right in the head.” The doctors . . . they didn’t understand. Neither Emile nor his mother would explain to them the reasons for Cecil’s episodes. It was a promise they had made to each other long before.

With a sigh, Emile glanced up at his brother, reached out and gave him a reassuring shoulder squeeze. Seeing that Cecil was calm again, Emile picked up the bag of groceries he had put on the ground earlier. He held the bag in one arm while cradling his brother in the other. “Okay, no more bad man. Let’s go home. It’s time for dinner.”

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A Work in Progress, Blog Writers, Blogging, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Prescription For Murder Blog, Serial Killer Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MY NEW YEAR’S WISH FOR YOU!

** MY WISH FOR YOU IN THE NEW YEAR **

May peace break into your home;

May thieves steal your debts;

May the pockets of your jeans

Become magnets for $100 bills.

May love stick to you like glue;

May laughter assault your lips.

May happiness spread across your face;

May your tears be that of joy;

May the problems of this past year forget your address.

In short . . .

May 2020 be the BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE!

To You and Yours!!

Posted in A Holiday Wish, A New Year's Greeting, A New Year's Poem, A New Year's Wish, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, James J. Murray Blog | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments