Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: October 2017

AndyPeloquin

What Happens At InD’Scribe 2017 Doesn’t Stay There!

The 2017 InD’Scribe Convention was SO MUCH FUN! Not only was it four amazing days of workshops and panels, but it was an absolute pleasure to see old friends and make new ones. I can’t wait until this time next year when I get to do it all over again.

A Few of the Highlights

  • Seeing some of the wonderful people I met at last year’s convention:

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  • Meeting amazing new people

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  • Leading a discussion panel on The Psychology of Evil—breaking down villains and antagonists and delving into what makes them tick/ (No pictures, sadly!)
  • Playing (and sadly losing) a Family Feud-style “Battle of the Genres”. I haven’t had that much fun in a long time!

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  • Talking to readers about my books

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  • Winning the 2017 RONE Award for Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel (of course!)

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Human Trafficking: Who Suffers Most?

For my upcoming novel “The Death of Lord Damuria” (Feb 2018), I spent a good deal of time researching human trafficking (one of the themes in the novel). My research led me to this fascinating article on Psychology Today:

The Underrecognized Victims of Trafficking: Deaf Women

The article stated, “People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking: Perpetrators like to prey on those who may be less inclined to report abuse. Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations experience abuse about one and a half times more frequently than those without hearing difficulties. Women with disabilities suffer significantly higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assault compared to women without disabilities. They also report abuse that is “more intense” and lasts longer.”

It included some pretty scary statistics:

  • Of 1,300 people rescued from a forced labor camp in China in 2007, roughly 1/3rd were disabled.
  • A report from the UK found that deaf women were TWICE AS LIKELY as non-deaf women to experience domestic abuse

The real problem, according to the article, is that most of the perpetrators of human trafficking of the disabled are caregivers: a family member, neighbors, or residents in their home. The fact that the disabled rely on caregivers and partners for support means they are more vulnerable or susceptible to this type of abuse or trafficking. And, the vulnerability of the disabled people mean they are easier to exploit, thus making them more attractive to the perpetrators of these types of crimes.

Why am I talking about this? Because the discovery of this article sparked a fascinating story idea for me…

One of the novels I planned to work on in 2018 was a follow-up to The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, showing what happened to the city after the Hunter destroys the Bloody Hand. Basically the city is plunged into chaos because the Bloody Hand was controlling crime in the city, so the absence of their control leaves a power vacuum, riots, and upheaval—similar to what happens when the powerful head of a drug cartel is removed.

The story was going to be from the perspective of one of the women he frees from the Bloody Hand’s control. This woman was trafficked into the city from elsewhere on the continent, and she finds herself struggling to survive on the streets.

I always knew one of the supporting characters would be her younger sister (10-15 years old). When I ran across the article above, it gave me the perfect idea: the younger sister will be deaf. Not only will this add the element of disability that I like to include in my writing (showcasing how strong people with disabilities can be), but it creates some fascinating situations for the two sisters.  It will also shed light on a problem that exists in the modern world.

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Book Review: Queens by Patrick Hodges

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’ve (finally!) got a book to share that I believe you will enjoy as much as I did. It’s not my usual fare—Sci-Fan—but I loved the first book in the series so much that I had to share this one as well!

Queens

A cosmic game of chess is underway, and the planet Elystra is the board.

Earth pilot Maeve and her son Davin have joined the Ixtrayu, hoping to avert the destruction that their leader, Kelia, has foretold. But will Maeve’s burgeoning Wielding powers be enough to thwart the machinations of Elzor and his lightning-wielding sister, Elzaria, before everything the Ixtrayu have ever known is destroyed in Elzor’s quest for ultimate power?

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My Review: 5 Stars

I enjoyed the Book 1 (Pawns) immensely, and I was hoping to get a repeat performance with Book 2. Patrick didn’t disappoint!

The book started off a bit too slow, and I struggled through the first few pages. The names of some of the (non-main) characters are unmemorable, so I had a hard time remembering who they were. The book took its time to get to the action.

However, once the ball got rolling, I had a bloody hard time putting the book down. I quickly remembered why I enjoyed the first book so much: beautifully descriptive visuals, fascinating and complex characters, an interesting magic/tech system, and that glorious blend of space travel and medieval life.

The twist at the end of Book 1 caught me totally off guard, and the reveal at the end of this Book 2 hit me just as hard. I never saw it coming!

All in all, an excellent book, one well worth the read!

Here’s a Taste:

Minutes stretched on interminably as the rain soaked the huntresses’ tunics to their very skins. Kelia’s robe became so heavy that she had no choice but to remove it, shivering in the chill wind.

She cast a glance westward, straining her eyes, hoping to see the magnificent outline of the Talon streaking toward them, but saw only the vague shimmer of the sun hiding behind the dense bank of clouds covering the horizon.

A game. The most important game in all of Creation will be decided here, on this remote patch of landThe fate of Elystra, of Earth, of countless others depends on us.

A tiny flame engulfed the palms of her hands, which was quickly extinguished as she clenched them into fists.

To her right, Yarji pointed and screamed, “I see something!”

Through the drizzling rain, a half-mile distant, they came. Twenty men, riding their merychs like every demon in the Fire Realms was giving chase, thundered into view. Their chests and heads were covered in armor, and each man wielded a fearsome-looking longsword.

It had begun.

Arantha protect us.

“Zarina!” Kelia called, drawing the young Wielder’s gaze. “You know what to do.”

The chava-keeper faced the oncoming horde of merychs. She placed her hands against her temples, staring unblinking as she reached out with her mind.

The merychs’ reactions were nearly instantaneous. Several of them stopped dead, causing many of their riders to pitch forward and topple to the ground. Others stood on their hind legs, bucking the soldiers from their backs, while the remainder veered off in different directions, ignoring the riders’ commands and kicks.

Twelve men, momentarily dazed from their fall, recovered both their wits and their swords. Grim-faced and determined, they resumed their advance on the Plateau; a brisk stride at first, then a full-on sprint, screaming battle cries as they brandished their blades above their heads.

“Yarji!” Kelia yelled. “Send our guests a greeting.”

The fair-haired water-Wielder smirked and held her hands out in front of her. Her arms moved with practiced ease, her palms surgical instruments as she manifested her powers.

Kelia mimicked Yarji’s gestures, and together, a large mass of water lifted from the River Ix. With a thrust of their hands, the two women transformed the hovering liquid into superhot steam. In unison, they panned their hands to the right, wrapping the mist like a deadly blanket over the charging soldiers, who were now only fifty yards distant.

The riders’ armor, which covered their chests, torsos and arms, were designed to protect them from conventional things like arrows or even bladed weapons. However, they proved a detriment in the face of the Wielders’ fury; not only did the scalding-hot steam burn the exposed skin of their faces, forearms and shins, but it heated the machinite armor to a temperature that would sear the cloth of their tunics underneath it, as well as the skin beneath that.

Several fell to the ground, their legs thrashing and twitching as they covered their faces with their hands. A few others, strong enough to endure the pain and remain standing, tugged at the clasps that held their armor together. Through sheer force of will, they managed to shed the armor, letting it fall to the muddy earth.

By this time, the steam had dissipated into the atmosphere. Kelia and Yarji were unable to maintain it against the pelting rain and the wind. But it had done its job. Within moments of the soldiers sloughing off their armor, Ebina gave the huntresses the order to fire. Several dozen arrows ripped through the air as they flew en masse toward their targets. The merych-less riders, still reeling from the previous attack, fell to the muddy ground. Within seconds, the only movements displayed were spasmodic twitches from the few still drawing in their final breaths.

The remaining attackers, having regained control of their mounts, rode away to report their comrades’ fates to whomever commanded them. “Shall I stop them, Protectress?” Zarina called.

“Save your energy, Zarina,” Kelia said. “The night is young.”

A great cheer arose from the huntresses below. Yarji, Zarina, and even Nyla sported relieved smiles as well. They’d managed to stop the first wave with zero Ixtrayu casualties. In fact, the enemy hadn’t even come close.

Kelia, however, remained reserved. For the first time in their long history, lives had ended by Ixtrayu hands.

And it was only beginning.

About the Author:

Patrick Hodges currently lives in Arizona with his wife, Vaneza. After years of writing for several different entertainment-related blogs, he found new life and vitality by writing fictional stories about young teens and preteens that are entertaining for ALL ages.

Find Queens on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B075FWF6FN

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36234607-queens

Connect with Patrick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrickhodgesauthor/

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/Shrykespeare

Read his thoughts on his website: patrickhodgesauthor.com

 

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Anxiety: It’s Why We NEED Habits and Rituals

According to one article on Psychology Today, “The brain’s chief job is the following: to draw predictions about the future and to orient behavior in line with those predictions. The brain does so by gathering as much information as possible and then using the data as inputs into the predictor system.”

However, our brains aren’t clairvoyant, and there’s no way to predict EVERYTHING that could possibly happen. This means that there will always be a certain amount of uncertainty, which triggers the feelings of anxiety in our brains. The things we can predict make us feel happy, safe; the things we CAN’T predict make us nervous, anxious, and threatened.

Rituals are our brain’s way of combatting these negative feelings. Rituals are the behavior our brains can predict, which make us feel safe and happy. If our brain knows we ALWAYS turn right at the next stoplight, it can focus on trying to predict what happens later in our day. As the article says, “Rituals are an effective shield that protect us from the onslaught of uncertain events.”

Rituals are all about repetition of behavior. We make the same turn, eat the same foods, follow the same schedule, and rely on the same conversation openers because that repetition evokes the sense that we are in control of our unpredictable environments. That “scripted sequence” is a way of tricking our brains into believing there is a certain amount of stability, orderliness, and personal control in a world of uncertainty.

Ritualized behavior also helps us to feel comfortable in times of uncertainty. We may not have control over one aspect of our lives, so we cling to rituals and habits in order to counteract that lack of control.  Even little rituals—like brushing your teeth before washing your face or adjusting your mirrors before pulling out of your driveway—are a “compensatory mechanism” that help to restore a sense of control.

Basically, habits and rituals are good. They give you something to hang onto when the natural chaos of life threatens to overwhelm you. The familiar, comfortable, and routine can help to reduce the anxiety in your life.

However, be wary of anything that becomes too important, rituals or habits that become all-consuming. When you can’t function outside of your rituals, that’s when they become unhealthy and stifling. Rituals can be a safe haven in times of turmoil, but you can’t live your life afraid of the uncertainty outside your little bubble.

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