Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 1962 - December 12, 2012

In the fictional world of Divergent Lives, RJ and Adina were born on December 12, 1962 in the middle of a snowstorm.

Today is December 12, 2012. It would have been their 50th birthday. People often have big galas to celebrate this milestone. They never will.

So in their honor, I decided to officially launch my story on this nite and celebrate in their stead.

I hold in my hand a glass of Chardonnay -- Adina's favorite wine.

I say "Hear! Hear! Happy birthday Adina!! Happy birthday RJ!! May you both live long lives in our imaginations!"

A toast!

I took a survey where I asked readers what they felt while reading the first chapter. Respondents mostly felt sorry for Adina and blamed Tommy.

Let's see how tomorrow goes!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Divergent Lives and 12/12/12

Well, folks, we're just a few hours away from the OFFICIAL release of Divergent Lives and I'm feeling all sorts of feelings.


Yea, I'm anxious. I'm anxious to share my baby with you. It was a lot of work; I even got stuck for a bit when all the characters began to speak to me at the same time. The noise was relentless!

Then, over the summer, I had surgery and I thought that would be a good time to get things done since I would be immobile. Hah!  The first six weeks after my surgery were spent either at the hospital or at the rehab center and then when I was released and went home, I spent 95% of the time on percocet. Unlike some writers, my imagination hibernates when I am not clear headed. I don't know what that says about me ... I'll let you be the judge.

Once I was able to get around with a walker, I only took medication right before physical therapy but then I developed insomnia and that's when my characters really took over. There are sections of the story I don't fully recall writing and in discussions over the phone and via email/text with my editor, Andi Reis, I could tell she was surprised when I told her that.

In any case, Divergent Lives is out and I am so pleased. I know this is a dark story with some pretty shocking turns, but, trust me, I toed the line. I learned so much during this process and I'm so very proud of this story that was borne of an exchange during a conversation I overheard as a child about a twin dying in utero.

I thought about that conversation for many years. It's amazing how a young child can be affected by it's environment. That is the running theme in my story and I hope you see that.

Now Divergent Lives will soon be out in the universe. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you share your thoughts on the story.

Happy reading!!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Supporting Characters Mason and Claudia Jones and "God"

I've been writing about the psychological make ups of my characters in my upcoming novel "Divergent Lives."

We've analyzed the two main characters' profiles: Adina's as well as RJ's. You can see how the events they have no control over have occurred in their lives shaping who they are.

The same goes for both sets of parents. We've looked at Adina's parents Cruzita and Jesus Rosario here as well as RJ's adoptive parents here.

Today I want to talk a little bit about the supporting characters: Mason and Claudia Jones and "God."

First let's talk about Mason and Claudia Jones. Mason is Tommy's boyhood friend. He is, in effect, Tommy's brother. They grew up together in East Harlem with Tommy being taken in by Mason's family after his parents died tragically in a car accident. Mason is now a New York City homicide detective who feels a deep and abiding love for his "brother" and a sense of responsibility for him. When Tommy arrives at Adina's apartment and finds that she has been murdered, Mason is the first person he calls. Later, Mason arrives at the scene of the crime and is devastated by what he sees. He ultimately puts the pieces together to figure out what happened but not before another tragedy takes place.

His wife Claudia is brash and controlling. Though her role in the story is much smaller, she is somewhat of a diva who can't keep her nose out of Tommy's business under the ruse of the love she has for him. She constantly teases him about his love life. When Tommy finally brings Adina around to meet the Joneses, she has no problem letting Adina know how she feels about her. Adina, being the sociopath that she is, could care less and dismisses Claudia's concerns by moving on to something else during their conversation.

All of the above notwithstanding, both Mason and Claudia have a deep affection for Tommy and only want to see that he is happy. The problem is that Claudia thinks only she can judge who can make Tommy happy; who he should love. 

Now, "God" is another story. "God" is a creature that RJ encounters when he leaves home (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) for New York City and takes up residence there with his new companion. This is where he becomes the proprietor of a popular Riverdale neighborhood restaurant he quickly renames "Rhys' Pieces."

When Rhys/RJ isn't working or finding victims, "God" is his trusted companion. On occasion, Rhys/RJ will bring someone home and when that person makes a negative comment about "God", it raises Rhys/RJ's ire. This is one of the things that sets him off because "God" is his most prized companion; one he rewards after almost every kill.

Everyone in this story has an issue, including the two protagonists, that shapes the lives of everyone around them.

Above all, this story is nothing but a tangled mess of lies (by omission) and deceit where innocents pay with their lives.

Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17; Scottish author & novelist


Author Minnie Lahongrais on Conversations LIVE 10/19 by middayconversations | Blog Talk Radio

Last Friday, I was a guest on Cyrus Webb's Blogtalk Radio show Midday Conversations Live to launch promotion for my sophomore novel "Divergent Lives."  We talked about my journey as a writer and announced a contest.

If you missed the live broadcast there is still a chance to win. Click here ---> Author Minnie Lahongrais on Conversations LIVE 10/19 by middayconversations | Blog Talk Radio and take a listen. The contest ends on Halloween so there is still time to enter for a chance to win a $25 American Express Gift check.

All you have to do is listen for the secret phrase. When you hear it send me a direct message at my author page with the phrase and you will be automatically entered. On Halloween, one name will be chosen as the winner and an announcement will be made on my page.

Good luck and thank you all for your support!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Parent Profiles: James Ezekiel and Margaret Preston

In my last post on parent profiles, I talked about the people who raised Adina, Jesus and Cruzita Rosario. Today, I want to focus on James Ezekiel (James from here on in) and Margaret Preston, the people who raised Rhys John or RJ.

The Prestons live in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. James Ezekiel Preston is the third generation pastor of a Baptist church in this small town. His father before him, Pastor Adam Preston, was a promiscuous man who died as the result of a sexually transmitted disease. Some some would say he died of shame as well. The disease went untreated because he believed that it was his penance for having offended God. He believed he had been smited by the Almighty for having committed a mortal sin.

Margaret Preston nee Brown is a former prostitute who has been rescued by a young Pastor James when he was alerted about her being held captive by an unknown man. The former prostitute and Pastor later married.

To the outside world, Pastor James was a benevolent, god-fearing man, but behind closed doors, it was a different matter altogether. He was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive to his wife, and as his son got older he began to do the same to him.

In the beginning of their marriage, Margaret was blindly in love with her husband. She saw him as her guardian angel. In her mind, he offered her a seemingly more stable lifestyle as well as prominence in her new community. But he maintained an attitude of superiority and belittled her throughout their marriage. Because she had nowhere to go, Margaret tolerated his tirades and tried to make the best of a bad situation mostly because of the love she had for the son they adopted together. Besides, this was still better than the life she left behind.

As you know, RJ was born with a physical deformity and as he grew older, the pastor became more and more abusive toward him. He called his son names and messed with his emotional stability. Seeing this, Margaret made it her business to step in and try to deflect the negative attention the pastor paid his son. The older RJ got, the worse it got and he had to find a way to release his rage. He couldn't strike back at his father because he knew that if he did, the consequences would be unbearable for not only him, but for his mother as well if he wasn't successful and he couldn't have that.

Margaret soon became aware of the power of her son's rage when it erupted and she tried to help him deal with it in unconventional ways. They would take camping trips together and she would teach him how to be patient and cover his tracks when hunting. She also tried in vain to teach him how to tamp down his feelings.

The problem is that RJ learned some of his hunting lessons all too well. One day, he went too far and she finally knew what her son really was, but she did nothing but accept it. Eventually, the power of her son's rage hit home and it was up to Margaret to support him. We all know there isn't anything a mother wouldn't do to protect her child.

Both sets of parents in this story have their own unique issues to contend with. What I tried to show here with these sets of parents is how those issues can influence and affect children they are raising.

My question is this: Was there ever any hope for either one of these children? Did they stand a chance at normalcy?

You be the judge.

Up next: Supporting Characters: Mason and Claudia Jones and "God"


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Parent Profiles: Jesus and Cruzita Rosario

As long as I could remember, I've always had this fascination with the mind of a serial killer or more aptly, the mind of a sociopath. Is it (human) nature or is it the environment (nurture) in which the killer was raised? I actually remember learning about nature v. nurture theory in a biology class in school and being captivated. I recall wondering at the time if this was the explanation for why Charles Manson had done what he had done.

I close my eyes and I can see myself begging my father to get me a copy of "Helter Skelter." Is it weird that the memory brings a smile to my face?

In this story, Jesus and Cruzita Rosario, are immigrants from Puerto Rico in New York City in the early 1960's. Dreaming of the American dream, they left their homeland because they wanted to have a family where anything was possible. They wholeheartedly believed any child of theirs raised in the mainland would have the same opportunities as any native born child in the US of A. But their conflict remained in trying to integrate their "old world" culture with the one they found themselves in. And this is what plants the seed for Adina's sociopathic behavior.

Jesus Rosario is a mild mannered man who simply just wanted to provide a nice life for his wife and daughter. He loved them both deeply and because of his love for them, he is somewhat of a milquetoast to his passive/aggressive wife. He would do anything for either one but it is his wife who would win out if he had to make a choice.

In the beginning, his wife Cruzita is meek and subservient, due in part to her old world upbringing and her belief in the old wives tales she heard while growing up. Specifically, she believed that a man was not truly a man unless he had a son who would carry on his name.

In her twisted thinking, Cruzita also feared ending up alone. Because she is a bit older, she has a difficult pregnancy, and there is a risk she will not be able to carry a child to term. She thinks that if she can't carry a child to term, Jesus would leave her. In addition, when to her surprise she got past the first two trimesters, she worried constantly that Jesus could still leave her if she did not bear him a son. What she can't grasp is that Jesus doesn't care one way or the other. All he wants is a healthy baby. However, no matter how many times he says this to Cruzita, she still worries and when she gives birth to a girl they name Adina, she worries even more.

Once Cruzita is home with her husband and newborn daughter, she becomes more confident in her position in the marriage thanks to Jesus constantly reassuring her. Ultimately, she becomes more and more assertive over the years.

Obsessed with appearances, she is a watchdog over Adina's life and the more domineering and controlling she becomes when it comes to her daughter, the more spineless Jesus appears to be. He never once objects to his wife's machinations, unless he thinks his beloved Cruzita is being disrespected or attacked. This becomes clear when Adina is in her mid-teens and they have to deal with a crisis as a family.

When you look at the the behavior of these characters, you can see the parallels of their respective psychologies.

Let's take a look at Adina's parents, Cruzita and Jesus.

Cruzita is driven by her sense of pride. She feels she has failed in her duty to provide Jesus with a son, and considers herself "not a real woman" because a "real woman" would present her man with a son thereby making him a "real man." For this reason she must then direct her energies elsewhere and show the world she is a real woman and she does this by making sure that everyone knows she can have a perfect life. Everything at home appears perfect to the outside world giving her a feel of superiority over those in her environment (friends/neighbors). This means guarding her daughter's virtue in particular ... like a hawk, for Adina must remain a virgin until her wedding night. As far as Cruzita is concerned, the only way to do that is to make sure she is raised with old world values.

The one thing that Cruzita overlooks is the sexual revolution. Sex is a big taboo in her mind and she must prevent anything untoward from happening at all costs.

Jesus, on the other hand just doesn't have the ability to take a stand. However, on the night of the confrontation, Cruzita turns on the waterworks in order to manipulate the situation and turn it all around to benefit her as she must keep up appearances to the world. It is then, and only then, when Adina is a teenager, that Jesus finds the strength to stand in unity with his wife who later takes matters into her own hands.

As a result of this confrontation, something happens that causes Adina's psychosis. Her sociopathic tendencies flare and the reader is a witness to this evolution.

Adina becomes concerned only with situations she can manipulate. Doing this gives her a sense of control in her life, until such time that she begins to yearn for a lifestyle that is more conventional. When she decides that she will take steps to be more like normal people, tragedy strikes.

So, my question is this:

Does Adina become sociopathic because there is something innate within her that makes her who she is? If so, can she be blamed for it? Or, does she become a sociopath because of this major event which occurred in her teen years and causes a switch in her?

Next up: Parent Profiles II: Margaret Brown Preston and Pastor James Ezekiel Preston.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

RJ's Mental Health

In my last post, I talked a little bit about Adina's psychological make up. Today I'd like to talk about RJ's mental health. Again, I stress, I am not a psychologist nor do I pretend to have all the answers. This is just the way I see the characters in my fictional tale.

Rhys John "RJ" Preston is Adina Rosario Cruz's fraternal twin. They never learn of one another but their paths do cross.

RJ was born with a physical abnormality. It is because of this condition that the physician attending his birth decided that rather than tell the birth mother she had twins, he would instead remain silent and sell this baby on the black market for profit. No one would be the wiser, right?

Right....for a little while anyway.

RJ is sold to a couple in rural Lebanon, Pennsylvania. His adoptive father is James Ezekiel Preston, the current Pastor of this small town's Baptist Church. He is the third in his family to hold this prestigious position. To the outside world, the Pastor is a pious man, dedicated to his congregation and his family. Or is he?

Married to Margaret Preston nee Brown for over a decade, the story behind his facade was an ugly one, and the adoption of RJ was just another piece to the stained glass window that barely hid the truth.

Margaret regularly suffered unimaginable abuse at the hands of the Pastor as did RJ. Pastor James Ezekiel is unrelenting with his punishment. This, in part, is due to his own dark past. He taunts, viciously teases and physically abuses RJ. He shoots him down every chance he gets. But RJ holds on to his love for his mother knowing he had to be there to protect her. RJ holds on to that love for her the way the Pastor holds up his bible during his sermons to cover up the lie that he is.

One day, while struggling with his own identity (as teenagers are wont to do while going through puberty), RJ snapped. He would no longer allow the tyranny of his father to continue; the tyranny that had now become so familiar that it caused him nightmares he preferred to his own reality.

"With his mother out of the room – he couldn’t let her witness what he was about to do – R.J. turned toward his father, the fury evident in his eyes. He seemed possessed by some otherworldly creature, just like the ones in his dreams and he could see nothing else in the room but his mother’s offender; his object of fury. All he knew was that he had a need to retaliate for what was done to him, to her."

The above excerpt gives you an idea as to what happens when RJ can no longer take the abuse. And just so you know, this is not the first time that he takes matters into his own hands in this manner. However, it is the first time that he did so under these circumstances.

Not only was he abused by his father, but RJ was also mercilessly teased by his classmates. He was always made to feel "less than" the people around him. But not Margaret. Margaret loved her son, warts and all and he knew it. But that could never be enough for him because RJ's demons could only be assuaged when he took control. At first he retaliated with animals. He had to learn how to cover his tracks and he did so -- very well -- during that stage of his psychological development. 

Throughout RJ's life, he was on a journey to find satisfaction in the one area that mattered most to him. When he found himself in one-on-one situations where he felt ridiculed or disregarded, he retaliated the only way he knew how.

In order to fully understand what RJ is struggling with would take a reading of the story. I will stop here so as not to give away any spoilers :) 

Suffice it to say, RJ's physical abnormality should not have been a reason for this mental development to occur.


Everyone is born helpless and defenseless -- dependent upon others to care for us. When something happens that changes that dynamic, and there is still one person who can make a difference, is it possible for that one person to see signs that a major negative change is going on in an adolescent's world? If so, is there anything that can be done to change the course of that negativity?

Next up: An analysis of the two sets of parents:  biological parents Cruzita and Jesus Rosario and adoptive parents Margaret and James Ezekiel Preston


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adina's Mental Health

As you know, Divergent Lives is a story that centers around the lives of fraternal twins separated at birth. Adina Cruz Rosario is one of the twins. Today I would like to examine Adina's mental health and show how the mental imbalance she suffers from is at the core of her actions in this story.

When puberty hits, it is a well known fact that hormones are raging and this is a very tenuous time for young teens. Family support, especially parental support, is crucial. Generally, your body is changing and your emotions are all over the place. There is angst to spare. Everything that is experienced by a young adult at this age is huge.

Adina began this process of her own human development during a time in NYC when a lot of change was happening. The women's movement was in full swing; America was in the midst of the civil rights movement and "political corrected-ness" was in its infancy.

Her parents are old world Puerto Rican immigrants trying to raise her with the ideals they grew up with. As the only child of these immigrant parents, Adina also had the burden of having been born after a difficult pregnancy so she was very much protected her whole life but especially so during the early stages of puberty. Many of the changes in her body were dismissed with comments such as "You're becoming a woman now" and "You are in the process of losing your innocence."

The protection of her virginity was over-emphasized and her very own value was dependant on her being able to present herself as a virgin to her future husband. If she couldn't do that, she was told over and over that she would go to hell because God would never allow her into the kingdom of Heaven if she were to die as an unmarried woman who wasn't a virgin.

As a teenager, Adina was not allowed to participate in sleep-overs. Friends outside of school were scarce. The friendships she did develop were superficial and those came much later -- during her years in college.

So she spent a lot of time reading, and she was very smart. She kept up with current events and she believed everyone had a right to choose whatever path they wanted in life.

At an early age, she became curious about sex and she turned away from her religious upbringing. She was arrogant in her rationale that religious zealots were uneducated and beneath her.

In her mid teens she fell in love with a young man from the other side of the tracks. She became pregnant then lost the baby in a suspicious miscarriage. This event triggered a change in her mental health and her development took a turn for something ugly and sinister. Her sociopathic tendencies became dominant and she was institutionalized for a time.


As a mother, I've always felt that when a child is going through puberty, it was necessary to be extra careful about the things you said and did. A child's ego is fragile during this time. I think it is crucial to constantly support, encourage and shower them with accolades so as to help build healthy self esteem.

What do you think? Does doing the above help create arrogant sociopaths or does it even matter? Are sociopaths; psychopaths even narcissistic personalities born this way?

I would love to hear what you think!

Next up: RJ's Mental Health


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Research for Divergent Lives: Why Did I Make One of the Main Characters a Serial Killer?

I would like to acknowledge the victims of the Aurora, Colorado massacre. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost and injured.  RIP 

 “One must feel sorry for those who have strange tastes, but never insult them. Their wrong is Nature’s too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies unlike ours than are we for being born bandy-legged or well-proportioned." 

Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), “Dialogue the Fifth” Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795)

The above quote is how I open Divergent Lives. I think it pretty much sums up the feeling I want to evoke when you read this story.

Much is said about how a reader is supposed to feel about a character. Alpha and beta readers who have read my (unedited) manuscript react pretty much the same way when they read this. They say "it's a creepy quote," but is it really?

It has been suggested to me that I shouldn't spend a lot of time talking about the serial killer in this story because I may end up making the reader feel sympathetic towards the killer. But I ask you, is that so wrong in this case. Read that quote again.

"Their wrong is Nature's too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies unlike ours..."

Are we to blame for our tendencies? For who we are?

Figuring this out is what brought me back to the question:

"What happens to someone who was once an innocent baby that makes them do things a normal person wouldn't do; like kill people?"

There might be many reasons, but in every story that I hear about any killing, I always want to know what motivates a person to do something like that. What happened? What were they thinking??

In light of the recent, horrific mass killing in a theatre in Aurora, Colorado, this question is even more compelling for me. 

For my story, I thought I would give my killer an unexpected reason for killing. This character rationalizes murder with reasons that would not make sense to the average person. The thinking behind these actions is irrational and illogical. It only makes sense to the killer, and that is the point. It is this reasoning, or lack thereof, that made me want to explore what the mentality of a killer might be at any given time.

I spent a lot of time last summer doing quite a bit of research on psychopaths and sociopaths on another, now closed, site. You will note, as I mentioned in my last post, that this story is now decidedly different than what I had planned back when I originally began thinking about the characters; the plot and the twists and turns of this story. But, I maintain that people are who they are and you can't be mad at them for being so.

The above quote notwithstanding, I consider both my main characters, RJ and Adina, sociopaths. 

sociopath is defined as:

"someone who has a psychopathic personality. One whose behavior is antisocial and lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience."

Granted, I was a bit confused by this definition as the word "psychopathic" was used to define "sociopath." Isn't a serial killer a psychopath? 

So I looked up the word "psychopath" and this is what I found:

"a mental disorder in which an individual manifests amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships; extreme egocentricity; failure to learn from experience, etc."
"any mental disease"

Now, THAT'S scary! Anyone you know can be a psychopath! How do you like them apples, huh?

For my story, I went with "sociopath" to describe the actions of my two main characters for two reasons:
  1. Each of my characters has at least one meaningful relationship
  2. Each has learned from (their) experience

It is what they learned that shaped who they are and the reason why their lives come crashing down upon one another.

Next up: Adina's mental health.


Monday, July 16, 2012

How Did I Come Up With the Idea for Divergent Lives Anyway??

"The baby died in utero; choked by its umbilical cord when its twin, in a hurry to be born, climbed over it and killed it."

This was the bit of a conversation I overheard as a child. It horrified and traumatized me. How can this happen? How will the surviving twin be able to live with itself knowing that they had committed murder before even being born? What if I could turn back the hands of time enabling me to prevent this horrible event? What kind of life would these twin babies lead if I could do that?

I should have been sound asleep that night, but I knew we had company and I didn't want to miss a thing. I was fighting the sandman with all my might when I heard them talking about it. Needless to say, I didn't have to fight him anymore that night. I was now wide awake and would remain so. I wished I had just fallen asleep. I wished I had never even heard that sentence.

Knowing full well who these adults were talking about, I wanted to turn back time and save the surviving twin the anguish of knowing it was a murderer and the idea brewed in my mind for many years. Interestingly, I hadn't thought about that conversation for a really long time ... until a little over a year ago.

One day, I was thinking about Standing on the Precipice (Standing on the Precipice was the working title for Divergent Lives), the memory of that conversation came rushing back to me out of the blue.

My original plan for Divergent Lives was as follows:

The protagonist would be a child of immigrant parents. She would be named Adina, and she would be raised in New York City during the late 20th century in the midst of the "Women's Liberation Movement." Her conflict festered in the mixed messages she received from her parents vs. the messages she received from society with regard to women's roles.

At home, Adina's parents tried to raise her with the ideals they were raised with in Puerto Rico of yore. She was told that in order to be worthy of a good man, she needed to be chaste, humble and obedient. But above all, she was to remain a virgin until her wedding night. As far as her parents were concerned, her future role in society was solely wife and mother.

In addition, Adina had conflicts with religion based on her feeling that organized religion made no sense at all; that it was only useful to the uneducated. Yeah, she's arrogant. Adina believed she was master of her universe and that she alone was the one in control. Society told her that as an independent woman, she could have it all and that being a sexual creature should not carry any shame. Sex for sex's sake was within her right.

Then I wondered:

"What if Adina had a twin who believed the opposite? What if the other twin lived its life the way its parents wanted it to and didn't offer any protest?

"What if Adina experimented with sex? What if she used dating websites to satisfy sexual curiosities?"

 "Boring!!" I thought.

"I need a twist!"

Then it hit me! Here's an opportunity for me to turn back time for that baby that supposedly killed its twin! It's fiction; a fantasy, ok? But, I still thought it was a good idea. I figured I'd let the dead baby survive. But, then what?

I'll make them both sociopaths, one a serial killer! That's a twist, right?

It was at this point that the juices began to flow for me!

"What if one of the twins had a physical ailment?"

"What if the doctor decided he had a better plan for this imperfect child?"

And, Divergent Lives was born!

Next up: What additional elements did I explore for this story? Why did I make one of the twins a serial killer?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cover Reveal

Isn't this beautiful!?!?!

Oh! My! God!! Can you say excited?!?

Today, 7/11/12, it is with great pleasure, that I, not only reveal the cover for my next story, Divergent Lives, but I also inaugurate a blog just for "DL Speak"! 

First and foremost, I would like to thank Andi Reis (Andi on Twitter) and Renee Groskreutz (Renee on Twitter) both of Ralph's Design and Deli for the amazing work they are doing for me. I am blessed we found each other -- on Twitter no less! 

I am so looking forward to working with you guys on additional projects!

As this site grows, I would like to have discussions about all things murderous as well as things seemingly -- or not -- psychologically off the rails. Though I have no professional experience in psychology or criminology, I am fascinated by studies in both of those areas and I don't pretend to be anything more than curious. I've always wondered what happens to a person who was once an innocent baby with baby smells that makes them not only want to kill someone, but want to do it numerous times to fulfill an unquenchable need. 

As non-professionals in the field of forensic psychology, we might not understand why real killers do what they do. But, you will definitely gain some insight as to what makes the protagonists of this story, Adina and RJ tick!

I would also like to talk about my process while writing this story, but I think the best way to do that is via separate posts. You will see that what this story ended up being, is a far cry from what I had originally envisioned. When we get to the end of both the story of my process and the end of Adina's and RJ's story, the cover will make a heck of a lot of sense to you all.  

Here's a synopsis for Divergent Lives 

Divergent Lives is the story of fraternal twins - one male; one female -- born to immigrant parents in New York City on December 12, 1962. They are separated at birth by the attending physician. One is sold on the black market to a couple who lives in rural Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The other remains with the biological parents.  Neither twin knows the other exists. Each shows signs of sociopathic tendencies as young teenagers. One becomes a serial killer. Each murder that is committed by this twin is more gruesome than the last.

The first thing you see on the cover, is the title. I love the interlocking initial caps! This idea actually came from a logo (see below) which I designed for this book. I plan to have it tattooed, probably in "glow in the dark ink" once the book releases. That is the way I celebrate, I get a tattoo! What can I tell you??

Divergent Lives Tattoo
The "XII" is significant. The protagonists in this story were born December 12, 1962 and my book releases December 12, 2012 .... get it? The idea for this design first began taking shape for me while discussing a title (the working title for this story was "Standing on the Precipice"), and a release date with my former publisher, Jorge Salgado-Reyes (Jorge on Twitter).

The overcast, mauve sky represents doom for me and I love the way the font looks over the "maudlin" color. I absolutely love that!

Further, we have contrasting city/country 'scapes to represent where each of the twins was raised. 

We all know what the blood in the road means, don't we??

Finally, and I think this was genius on Andi's and Renee's part; we have the helix in the road leading to the city rather than the white line you would normally see on any road. The helix represents the protagonists' shared DNA. If you look closely, you will see that the road, though divergent at a distance, converges at the apex -- the country and the city meets, representing a huge clash or conflict.

So, I'm very proud of my collaboration with my girls, Andi and Renee! 

Just to show you how special these ladies are, let me share something with you: 

Andi and I had maybe two conversations about what I wanted on the cover. Within a few days, she sent me the first rendition which was very, very close to what you see above. There were only two tweaking sessions and I could not be happier with the end result.

Like you, my fellow Indie Authors who are reading this, I have a full time job, and a family as well as a host of other responsibilities. Writing, designing book covers, marketing and promoting any story is a lot of hard work. It can sometimes be extremely draining and overwhelming. That is why the only way you can be happy as an Indie Author is if you love writing.

Also, as an Indie Author, you are especially lucky if you have someone in your corner who takes the time to listen to what you are saying. You're especially lucky if you have someone who asks questions about what you're describing; and if that someone shares your vision. The cherry on top is if that person can accurately translate your vision to their partner in order to jointly put together something beautiful! When you have that person in your corner, it is a lot easier because you know that you will end up with a product that you will be happy with. 

I got really lucky with these ladies! Kudos girls!

I would like to thank the, no ...

I really want to thank all my Twitter and Facebook friends for the continual love and support you show me. Sometimes I can't be as social as I'd like, but you are in my heart and always on my mind. I appreciate the way I am always warmly welcomed back after an absence. It is because of you and it is FOR you that I continue to do this, and I do it with much joy. 

I am often told "Don't forget us when you blow up!" -- "blow up" meaning get famous -- slang -- sorry. So to show that I didn't forget where I came from, though not implying that I've "blown up," I want to express my deepest appreciation for Ms. Katie Salidas

Katie gave me the courage to do this two years ago. She has been there all along supporting me. You will always hear me mention her, because she is the one who made me believe I could do this. It is because of Katie that I crawled out of the darkness into the light of a new life. I will forever be grateful to her.

Next up: How did I come up with this idea anyway?