Thoughts and Ramblings – Page 2 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

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The REAL Cause of Anger

For a lot of us men (and many women), anger is a natural reaction. In fact, it’s considered one of the most “masculine” of emotions. Men are TWICE as likely to suffer from rage disorders as women. This may have something to do with our different brain structures and higher levels of the aggression-producing hormone testosterone, but the truth is that it goes a lot deeper than that.

One article on Psychology Today gave a simple yet succinct list that explains why people are angry:

  • I am scared
  • I feel hurt
  • I am frustrated
  • I feel rejected
  • I feel insecure
  • I feel lonely

To sum all of these things up in one simple sentence “I am vulnerable”.

Vulnerability is absolutely terrifying. For many people (not just men), the idea of being weak and “hurt-able” is something their minds cannot process. Subconsciously, they go through a process like this:

Step 1: I’m feeling emotions that make me feel weak.

Step 2: I don’t want to be weak, so I don’t want to feel those emotions.

Step 3: I need to replace those emotions with something else, something that makes me feel strong.

Step 4: I can use anger as that emotion because anger makes me feel powerful (by releasing adrenaline, cortisol, and noradrenaline).

Thus, the anger is unleashed upon whoever is nearest or the cause of the feelings of weakness.

Understanding this concept is the first step to overcoming it. It’s important that we all—men and women alike—realize that anger isn’t our true emotion. Anger is actually our psyche’s response to an emotion we don’t want to feel, usually one that shows how vulnerable we are when we want to believe that we’re tough.

Before you lash out in anger, try to trace the emotion back to its root. Find out what’s really going on underneath, whether you feel scared, hurt, frustrated, rejected, insecure, or lonely. Once you find the source of the problem, it’s easier to treat the “cause” rather than just using the placebo of anger to manage the “symptoms”.


Different, Not Damaged is HERE!!

As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with (mild) Asperger’s Syndrome (one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders) a few years ago.

My Asperger’s manifests as:

  • Awkwardness in social situations
  • Not always knowing what to say or how to respond when someone talks to me
  • Missing social cues that are obvious to other folks, like body language or the expressions on people’s faces
  • Disliking change
  • Lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation
  • Obsession with specific, often unusual, topics

The desire to understand my brain (atypical as it is) has driven me to research all sorts of neurological/psychological/mental/emotional disorders in order to understand what makes other people tick. I’ve found it to be such a fascinating well of knowledge, and it makes for some amazing characters.

This short story collection is a passion project for me. It gave me a chance to delve into what it means to live with autism, PTSD, fibromyalgia, and Alzheimer’s, putting these disorders and syndromes into a dark fantasy story to give more insight into what makes us different, but never damaged.

The stories are all set in Voramis, the city from The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, and you’ll find a few familiar faces throughout.

Different, Not Damaged

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Strength from Weakness

Disability becomes Power

Coward. Penitent. Artist. Thief.

The world saw weakness.
Their true strength lay hidden.

Betrayed by mind and body, these people fight to survive in a grim world that takes no pity on the weak. Yet their burdens may prove the true measure of their character.

Their challenges were real.
The dangers were immense.

Will they triumph?

You’ll be hooked by this collection of fantasy stories that shatters the preconceptions of what is possible.

With each page you’ll be drawn in further and further. These stories may even change the way you see the world.

Get it now.



Ashes Cover Promotion

Book Review: Ashes by Joshua Rutherford

It’s Book Review Wednesday! After a few weeks of break, I’m back with another review—this one for a dystopian short story written by Josh Rutherford, author of Sons of Chenia. This story may not be long, but it’s a gut-wrenching look at the true effects of war.


In the not-too-distant future, conflict after conflict has ravaged what was once the United States. Fractured into confederacies, this once Promised Land is now the breeding ground for armies hell-bent on war. Among the soldiers of this landscape is Darren Avery, a decorated Army captain who comes across a handful of underground activists that preach a concept he has never before considered: peace.

Ashes Cover Promotion

My Review: 5 Stars

Absolutely fascinating! You start the story with one expectation, but by the end you walk away with a totally new perspective on one of the world’s oldest controversies: war vs. peace.

The character was fascinating—my only complaint about this story is that it’s too short—and the world rich, vivid, and well-built. I was truly not expecting the ending, and it left me very thoughtful. Definitely a short story worth reading!

Here’s a Taste:

Four days passed. No envelopes made it to his door. No messages or pictures followed in the wake of that night. Aside from his smoke breaks on the roof, Darren went out only twice during that time. Once for a bag of groceries. The other to watch a few hundred protestors as they passed his apartment building. Try as he might, Darren didn’t see Mike among them.

He wore the same clothes from that night as the week progressed. He slept in his shirt and jeans. His wallet and keys remained on him at all times. As did the phone Mike had given him.

Then on the fourth night Darren ran out of cigarettes.

The inclination to run to the store was absent. As was his craving. Yet his routine compelled him to throw on his jacket, so that he may at least go up on the roof.

When he opened the door, he found another envelope. He nearly went on, not wanting to deal with it.

Then he noticed a small difference. The envelope was manila. Not legal-sized.

He bent to pick it up. He peeked inside.

Gray powder. But not like that of the other envelopes. Darren took a pinch between his thumb and index finger. As he suspected, it was finer than the concrete granules of a cinderblock. It felt smoother, lighter.


His feet found the hallway outside by themselves. Then up the stairwell. Onto the roof. His mind, clear, directed none of his actions or movements. Save one.

On the roof, under the cover of fog once more, he pulled out not a pack of cigarettes but an encrypted phone.

“Hello?” Mike answered.

“The fuckers spoke English.”


“You wanted to know what made Eventide so different.”

“You mean it? English?”

“Stupid, ain’t it? But it’s the damn truth. You have to understand, everywhere I’ve been deployed has been different. Different people in different cities speaking different languages. I heard Arabic in Yemen, Kituba in the Congo. The guerillas in Columbia had brown skin and black hair and spoke Spanish. Even in Nigeria, the extremists there who spoke English had accents. Everyone in every other country I fought was different from us. In one way or another. Then I was deployed to the Southwest . . .”

The steady hum of the city – around Darren, through the phone line – filled the otherwise silent soundscape.

“And they were like us,” Mike finished.

About the Author:

Joshua Rutherford has wanted to be a writer all his life. Through college and the more than dozen jobs that he has had, his passion for the written word has never ceased. After crafting several feature film screenplays and television pilots that were never produced, Joshua tried his hand at writing a novel. Sons of Chenia is the product of that effort. When Joshua is not writing – which isn’t often – he is spending quality time with his wife, Elisa, and their son, David. The three currently reside in San Diego, CA.

Find the book on Amazon: 

Tweet at Joshua:

Connect with him on Facebook:



The Most Effective Form of Torture

When writing a character like the Hunter of Voramis, bad-ass half-demon assassin, it’s all but guaranteed that there will be some form of torture involved (live by the sword, and all). Even more so when he’s visiting a mountaintop temple that is home to a wonderful organization known as the “Masters of Agony”—professional sadists and torturers.

(Yes, The Last Bucelarii (Book 4): Anamnesis is going to be a wild ride!)

As you know, I like to do a lot of research for the stories I write. I delved into a lot of the medieval torture methods, using some of the cruelest forms of torture used by the Inquisition as well as coming up with a few of my own.

(Can you say “iron cage”—if you’ve read the Hunter’s stories, you know how brutal this is…)

My research led me to a fascinating article on Psychology Today, that explained how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can actually be the most effective form of torture.

The article talks about an experiment performed on dogs in the 1960s:

“Martin Seligman developed the learned helplessness model by performing experiments in which dogs were exposed to the trauma of being electrically shocked. Some dogs were pre-conditioned by being given painful electrical shocks in a cage in which the exit gate was blocked. Later these same dogs failed to escape the shocks by escaping through an unlocked gate. They had learned helplessness from their previous traumatic experiences and would not take the initiative required to escape being traumatized again. This was interpreted as a kind of negative operant conditioning, learning how not to learn and inducing helplessness to the point of blocking further inquiry about the traumatizing environment. These humanized animals (dogs were used not rats) were not only rendered helpless, they were unavoidably terrorized and forced to suffered the awareness of impending pain without being able to understand any reason for it.”

The most effective form of torture isn’t physical. More accurately, it’s not PURELY physical.

Through pain (one of the most primitive teaching tools), the dogs learned that they were unable to escape their prison. Even when the door was unlocked, they knew they were going to be hurt, so they didn’t try to escape.

The article took it a step further by saying, “if traumatized detainees, like the dogs of Seligman’s early experiments, learn that they are helpless and they will transfer all power in the interrogation transaction to the interrogator, and do anything the interrogator demands. In order for this to work, the prisoner has to be thoroughly convinced that their situation is inescapable and under the total control of their handlers. They must not even be allowed the autonomy to basic physiological self-regulation such as eating, sleeping, elimination (deprivations that not even the experimental animals faced), and they must be deprived all forms of personal security or dignity.”

Brutal, but highly effective! By conditioning people to BELIEVE they are helpless, they will have no choice but to do what their interrogator asks. It’s a cruel sort of cognitive conditioning, but it’s truly the most effective (albeit long-term) form of torture.


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!


  • Talking to readers about my books


  • 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!


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?

WOA2 cover

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:


Connect with Patrick on Facebook:

Tweet at him:

Read his thoughts on his website:



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.


Why We Art

Art is an integral part of human culture and society. For millennia, people have been using art to communicate thoughts, ideas, emotions, and important information. Some art is beautiful, some is functional, but all is important!

But why do humans feel a need to create art? Why is it impossible to resist the siren’s call of creation? An article on Psychology Today had a fascinating take on it:

Art is beauty. It is beautiful to behold, breathtaking even. We all love beauty, and the idea that we could somehow play a part in bringing this beauty to life is irresistible.

Your art can inspire, dazzle, create an impact, strike an emotional chord, and forge a connection with total strangers. That is magic, of a sort, and something we all want to experience.

Art is evocation. When you see a beautiful pastoral image, you don’t enjoy it because of its greens, blues, and reds. You love it because it brings back those memories of picnics with your sweetheart, laughing and playing with your parents, or enjoying life.

Art evokes memories, bringing back those emotions and sensations you felt. It taps into the stored memories and their associations in your brain, triggering a recall of those events.

Art is communication. Even before we can talk, we’re able to understand simple shapes, colors, and images. Drawings have been around as long as spoken language, and it is one of the oldest forms of communication.

Colors, lines, shapes, and words can all be used to communicate non-verbally. Anyone who encounters that art will receive at least a glimpse of the message you’re trying to share. Your words can only carry as far as the sound of your voice—the message in art can travel around the world.

Art is human. Animals can be TAUGHT to create art—as so many elephants, apes, and gorillas have been—but it is only humans that are innately artistic. Perhaps it has something to do with our higher consciousness, or something else, but suffice it to say that only humans are born with the need to color, draw, trace, paint, or even carve lines into the sand as a means of communication or creation.



Is Conflict Good or Bad?

We all know that every good book revolves around conflict—it’s only when your characters are thrown up against an obstacle, challenge, or threat that they truly shine.

However, outside the pages of fiction, most of us tend to avoid conflict as much as possible. After all, life is so much easier without that sort of struggle. Better to avoid “rocking the boat” or pissing off the wrong people, right?

Well, according to one article on Psychology Today, your perspective determines whether conflict is a good or bad thing. With the right outlook, conflict can make your situation A LOT better!

A study conducted at MIT involved students divided into two groups: the first group were graded against each other (on the curve), while the other group was given an average grade for the entire group.

When the inevitable inter-personal conflicts came, the two groups responded differently:

  • The first group saw the conflicts as “win-lose” situations. This led them to become defensive or attack their “competitors”.
  • The second group treated their conflicts like shared problems that needed to be resolved together in cooperation with each other in order to make progress on their ultimate goal: getting good grades as a group.

The article didn’t say which group got better grades, but that’s not the takeaway from this piece. Instead, the really important thing is to realize that our attitudes toward conflict will determine the outcome.

If we see it as an “either I win or he/she does”, the ultimate outcome will be a hostile environment filled with people going on the offensive or getting defensive. On the other hand, if we treat conflicts as a problem shared by two people—neither of whom stands to lose or gain more than the other—it’s easier to find common ground and take steps to solve the problem.

This image sums it up better than anything I could say:


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