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You know about that TV show “ripped from the headlines”.

There’s very little that’s new under the sun, and that goes for homicides, as well. And in the case of homicide, one factor stands out: psychopathy.

Here’s an interesting fact: psychopaths are pretty much all the same. There isn’t much “there” there. Yes, they can be cunning. Yes, they can be smart—very smart. Yet all of them are predators, whether they’re just ruining a co-worker’s day, or destroying a family unit, or killing someone because they feel like it. It’s all a matter of degree.

Because they are so empty inside, you wouldn’t think they would be all that interesting. But this is where character meets horror; a garden-variety intellect can overcome the odds by its willingness to do something terrible—and there are plenty of opportunities for that. Psychopaths are hunters. They can sense the weak animal in the herd. If three girls are at a nightclub drinking, the psychopath knows which one to cut from that herd. The one who will give them the least trouble, the one who will comply. They have a killer instinct, whether they’re driving a hard business deal or stalking a victim. They are predators. Even the psychopath who never kills a soul will destroy lives in other ways. And the people who find themselves in the rubble wonder, “How could she do this to me?” “How did this happen?

Sociopaths and psychopaths live among us, and they look like everybody else. They have the same foibles, the same appetites, the same good looks or extra poundage or excellent teeth. They live in neighborhoods, they have cars, they have children, they have wives or husbands. But, wonder of wonders! Things never go right around a psychopath. The people who are touched by them, who live with them, often are off-kilter, worried about things—even vague worries—and they have a bad feeling, they feel angry, feel sad, feel put-upon, feel wretched. And usually, they don’t realize that those feelings are usually right at the surface when they’re around a certain person: a person who makes them feel bad.

Not all psychopaths are killers. That said, psychopaths are basically the same. They may not kill you, but they will find ways to hurt you. Even small ways. And you find yourself stepping back emotionally from them, you find yourself watching your step, watching what you say, because deep down inside, you don’t trust them.

Worse than that, if you’re long in the company of a psychopath, you don’t trust yourself. You might second-guess yourself. Or make excuses for a person who has no regard for you at all. Thinking they are normal human beings, and are driven by the same forces you are. It’s what you know. What you expect.

There are warning signals. People know when something’s wrong with a person, and many of them take a step back. Maybe they’re polite about it, but it’s like an animal smelling a poisoned carcass. Better just unentangle. Still, psychopaths can be charming. They can read a person. They know how to manipulate the weak sheep they pick out of the herd, and they know just how far to go and when to pull back, so that the victim wonders if it’s just her imagination.

And then we come to the famous psychopaths. The killers. They’re no different from the garden-variety psychopath (both psychopaths and sociopaths have a very dull inner life), except for the fact that they enjoy the whole predatory experience, especially the killing. Sadistic psychopaths are not brilliant. They just don’t care, and they have a certain animal cunning. They can sense the weakest animal in the herd. They know which deer they can take down.

Without that cunning, they would be completely empty. That they can put something over on you, or even take your life (depending upon their appetite) gives them a lift.

How do smart people fall for these predators? They assume that these folks are just like them: driven by the same wants and needs. And the predators hide in plain sight, acting like a normal person, looking like a normal person, and fool you because they’re so good at this.

And that is how I came to write my work in progress, LADIES MAN, in which a smart, sensible woman crosses the path of a killer, and never suspects what’s behind the mask.

Until it’s too late.

 

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Bad Mojo short stories cover
The first book I ever wrote from beginning to end was a horror novel.
Starting as a child and on through grade school and college, I started a bunch of “books” but never finished them. I was sidetracked from writing when I studied to be an opera singer, but once I realized that life was not for me, the desire to write came back with a vengeance. Inspired by the scary old mining town of Bisbee, Arizona, I wrote my first book: a ghost story. A couple of suspense novels followed before I found what I really loved to write: police procedurals and thrillers.
Now times have changed again, and in keeping with the times, I have returned to horror. Horror is a way of explaining the scary world in print and offers a vicarious way for getting through bad things. I felt the world pressing in, and not in a good way. And that is when I felt moved to write horror stories. For you, and for myself.
And so I indulged in creating scary creatures and animated thugs who tramped toward me. By shining the light on them, I could blow them away like so much fairy dust. I wrote them one after another, couldn’t stop. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and I hope that you will have fun reading them.

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Ideas are all over, many of them just lying around and easy to pick up. But an idea is just the beginning of a story—the premise. Good ideas lead to other ideas as a writer goes along,  taking brick after brick and building a house.
When I wrote the first Laura Cardinal novel, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, I had a killer who preyed on young girls. Which, of course, is nothing new. But that, alone, wasn’t enough. As I went along, more ideas came to me. The bad guy was bad, yes. But he wasn’t bad enough. So partway through the book, I came up with a much worse guy, to be revealed later, and that guy was so evil it made my scalp prickle. His name online was “Dark Moondancer.”
How did I come up with the name “Dark Moondancer?” The name came from a very good racehorse.
Racehorse names are plentiful and must be unique (as I discovered when I wrote the racing suspense novel, DARK HORSE.) There simply cannot be two horses with the same name. And since there are only so many names people can come up with, the owners have to go farther and farther afield. Which leads to some genuinely funny names.
Like Hoofhearted.
Say that three times really fast and you’ll see why the name always got a reaction at the racetrack.
Wishing you all a very happy and productive New Year!

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My husband Glenn and I went out yesterday on a beautiful and sunny Tucson morning to go get a Christmas tree. I love that. Just to smell that spicy pine scent takes me back to when I was a kid, dressed in my fringed Annie Oakley outfit, draping those shimmering strands called “Icicles” on the tree.  When I really believed that Santa was coming—and I’d stay up and then fall asleep and just miss him. He was a wily one.  Today I’m hanging ornaments on the tree. Many of them are very old—the ones that survived my childhood. Another thing survived my childhood. My parents had an aluminum tree (way back) and a color wheel. I still have the color-wheel and it’s rotating right now, casting pine shadows on the ceiling, going from red, to yellow, to blue, to green.


We all have traditions. Big families, small families. Pets. People coming from all over. On a sunny Arizona day, we put the old lights (again, these are the old ones, from long ago) up on the roof. Generations of cats have been outside with us, enjoying the fact that we were working assiduously. In their way, they all enjoyed the ceremonial Light Stringing.
I know you guys all have your own traditions, and if you like, please share them on my Facebook Author Page—I’d love that!
Happy Holidays to you all, and a joyous, peaceful, and love-filled season.
Maggy and Glenn

Please visit my Facebook Author Page and share your family holiday traditions for a chance to win your choice of either a Laura Cardinal or Cyril Landry mug.
Winner to be announced on December 31st.

 

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I studied to be an opera singer. I did pretty well, had talent, but eventually it came to me that I was trying something that did not work for me. I got two degrees and played a few leading roles, despite stage fright, which stuck with me ALWAYS. Then one day sanity knocked on my door, and I realized that when I was younger, all I did was write and illustrate “books.”

One night, Glenn and I were watching “The New Twilight Zone” series, and there were natives in the Amazon jungle who appeared whenever the guy aimed his camera at the landscape. And they were coming at him with spears. He’d have to take their picture right quick to stop them. We brainstormed it and thought it would be great to have an old camera that took pictures of the past. And we knew the EXACT place to set the story: Bisbee, Arizona.

Bisbee is spooky as hell, and the buildings are the same as they were at the turn of the century. PERFECT. And so I came up with an old box camera that took pictures in the present – but these pictures developed as pictures from the past.

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And just like that, I started writing (when I was a kid, I wrote tons of stories, before getting sidelined into opera singing). I had a lot to learn, but I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun as I had on that quest. I finished the book, found an agent, and tried to sell it. It didn’t sell for a couple of years, but finally ended up at Kensington (DARKSCOPE, a Pinnacle paperback). I’ll never forget the day I went into Frys and there was my book on the racks. There was a lot to learn, and I’ve come a long way since then, but that first book – like a first painting or a first dog show ribbon or (especially) a new baby – A first is always something exhilarating, and will stay with you forever.

What was a First for you, and did you think you were half-crazy to try it?

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I have been lucky enough to find a good man to live my life with.

A large part of this, of course, is due to his parents and mine. Both of his parents were good and kind and smart, but more than that, they had integrity.

I think “integrity” is at the heart of the Zero the Hero story.

Let me back up a bit. My mother-in-law, Jean McCreedy, had a rich spiritual life. She explored her inner space, finding many ways to turn the Rubik’s Cube of her life.  She was a questioner. She was the kind who would follow the path and then, if that path petered out, she would go beyond it.

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Creative people always try to go farther. They want to learn more, and often they want to learn about themselves.

As a writer, I can relate. There are many ways I have approached writing (especially when I’m stuck)—there are other neural pathways that I try to access. Here’s just one of them.  If I’m having a hard time moving forward on a story, I’ll go for a walk—and plan NOT to think of the book I’m writing.

In theatre, there’s a saying: “Try NOT to think of the White Bear.” It was a way of accessing the stuff underneath, because God only knows, if you tell yourself not to do something, part of you will want to do it in the worst way.  And that gives you access to something more that you can use on stage.

Like the White Bear, Zero the Hero is a way to reach farther with the mind and soul. His home (which is whimsical) has an open floor plan. I think Jean deliberately made her creatures, including Zero, to be open-ended and full of possibility.  There are spaces to dance around in. It’s not the neat, small spaces that many of the wonderful coloring books out there provide. Her story is bigger than that, and more things are possible.

 

I couldn’t leave the book alone. I used soft-core colored pencils, a whole host of them, and shaded from one color to another. I went a little crazy, too, filling some spaces with … I dunno, I guess you’d call them dapples. Like you’d see on a horse.

 

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There are lots of fantastic coloring books out there-beautiful ones. But this one, I believe, is kind of a grownup’s coloring book, where YOU make the decisions, and you have more space to fill, and more ways to go.

Getting into that space and time, I left a bunch of unnecessary stuff behind. I think that that is the essence of what Jean wanted to achieve with her coloring book. 

She wanted people to explore the spaces, not just the outlines.

And she wanted them to discover the creativity in themselves.

You can find ZERO THE HERO: ADULT COLORING BOOK FOR MEDITATION AND RELAXATION on Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Hero-Coloring-Meditation-Relaxation/dp/1939145201/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1476638912&sr=8-9&keywords=zero+the+hero

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Books Uncategorized

Vengeance, the ICON live action music video is here!  This ain’t your father’s book trailer by any stretch.  Director Mark Ezovski produced this breakthrough trailer with Beth Rudetsky taking scenes from ICON with live actors.  Breakaway Media and J. Carson Black thank all the many people who contributed to the success of this production and to all our friends. Pleas share with your friends!

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