Tag Archives: running

On The Thrill Begins – Shutting Places Down Like Eliot Ness

Many of you may not know this, but my road to publication came with some major potholes. As part of the Tough Times series on The Thrill Begins, I explain how I started to feel Untouchable – in a very bad way.

http://thrillbegins.com/2017/05/11/shutting-down-places-like-eliot-ness/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

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Interview with Writer, Runner, Skier, and Former Biathlete, Eric Chandler

Note:  This is part of an interview series dealing with the sport of biathlon which plays a central role in my upcoming novel Bolt Action Remedy.

Today, I welcome Eric Chandler to Steel City Intrigue.

Eric Chandler has written for Flying Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Northern Wilds, Minnesota Flyer, and Lake Country Journal, to name a few. Literary journals like Grey Sparrow Journal, The Talking Stick and Sleetmagazine.com have published his fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. He’s a member of Lake Superior Writers, an Active Member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and an Associate Member of the Military Writers Guild.

He’s also an Air Force veteran with twenty years of experience flying the F-16. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He enjoys cross-country ski racing and marathon running. He lives with his wife and two children in Duluth, Minnesota.  His website is https://ericchandler.wordpress.com/.

Unlike most Americans, you were introduced to biathlon in high school.  What drew you to that sport?

I was on the high school cross-country ski team in Plymouth, NH. I came in third in the state my junior year. That was the same season as the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. I watched biathlon on TV and it interested me because I knew how to shoot. I thought if I took above average marksmanship and above average skiing together, maybe I could really be somebody.

There was a biathlon clinic at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire in October 1984. Lyle Nelson was one of the main instructors. He had just competed in Sarajevo in the 1984 Olympic for the US Biathlon Team. He was a West Point graduate who held the obstacle course speed record there. Later, he carried the US flag in the opening ceremonies in 1988 in Calgary, his 4th Olympic games. So, when a guy like that told me I had some potential at that clinic, I got really excited that I could make something of myself.

I went out and blew my entire life savings (around $1800, if memory serves) on an Anschutz biathlon rifle. We got it from the dealer the night before my first race and assembled it with my dad. I came in 5th out of 30 guys in my first race in January 1985, beating the whole NH National Guard team. I was hooked. I raced the rest of the winter and did pretty well.

The following year, I was getting screamed at during my freshman year at the US Air Force Academy. My budding biathlon career was “overcome by events.”

You’ve gone on to compete in biathlon during your time with the U.S. Air Force and the Minnesota National Guard.  For those not familiar with how biathlon competitions are organized, can you tell us who you were competing against and about some of the venues?

I raced on my own time when I was in the active duty Air Force. I’m not sure Uncle Sam would want to claim my race results. My first assignment after pilot training was at Eielson AFB in Alaska. When I wasn’t learning how to be a wingman in the F-16, I was out skiing. There was a biathlon range at the Birch Hill ski trails in Fairbanks. I raced there a few times in 1994. I came in third in the Alaska State Biathlon Championships that year. Because there were only three guys in my category. I let the Biathlon Club in Fairbanks have my rifle for a couple of years when I got sent to Korea. They loaned the rifle to novice biathletes so they could get into the sport.

Fast forward to 2009. I was in the Air National Guard in Duluth, Minnesota. One of my buddies, Eric Nordgren, suggested that I join the state team and go to the Guard Championships at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont. (Eric’s brother Leif is currently on the US Biathlon Team.) I was the 42-year old commander of the 179th Fighter Squadron in Duluth. I wasn’t busy at all (snort). Sure, why not? Unlike, the Alaska races where I was racing with civilians, these were purely National Guard events. The Army National Guard is pretty much the torch-bearer for the sport. The military and biathlon are closely intertwined. The teams were made up of National Guard members from all around the country. Everybody from brand new biathletes to Olympic team members and people who were part of the military’s World Class Athlete Program. A pretty wide spectrum, but all members of the National Guard. I always wanted to ski at Camp Ethan Allen, so for me, to ski on those trails was pretty awesome. It’s a world-class venue, built all around biathlon.

The following year, in 2010, I competed in the Central Regional Guard races. They were held at Camp Ripley, near Brainerd, Minnesota. Another world-class facility designed just for biathlon. Due to conflicts with my pesky Guard job, I didn’t get to go to the national championships that year.

I did some open citizen races that year at our local ski trails called Snowflake. There’s a biathlon range there and a man named John Gould recruited me to help coach some of the biathlon club kids. After a couple of winters of barely seeing my own skiing kids, I finally put the rifle back in the attic.

The good news is that Olympic biathlete Kara Salmela helps coach my daughter here in Duluth in a local cross-country ski program called Nordic North Stars. Biathlon’s a pretty small world. I was only barely involved, but I loved the challenge. I still follow the sport. I’ve taken both my kids out to shoot at the range, but they didn’t catch the fever. They both race straight cross-country skiing, so I’m still overjoyed.

Apparently, I dip my toe in the biathlon waters about every ten years or so, so maybe I’ll break out the rifle again here in a few years.

As a writer you have an impressive resume that includes both fiction and nonfiction pieces.  In addition to what you’ve published on your own, your works have been featured in literary journals, magazines, anthologies.  Do you prefer one style or platform over the others? 

I started out writing non-fiction pieces for magazines. Almost always about family adventures in the outdoors. Stories about XC skiing, running, hiking, and paddling. Stuff like that. About ten years ago, I wrote a few pieces about the military for the local newspaper. My first money for an article came from Silent Sports magazine, based in Wisconsin. For the last ten years or so, I’ve been writing regularly for a publication called Northern Wilds in Grand Marais, Minnesota. I compiled several of my articles into an e-book called Outside Duluth.

About five years ago, I took a workshop from a local writer named Felicia Schneiderhan on how to develop as a fiction writer. I’ve written several short stories. I even self-published an e-book called Down In It. It’s a stretch to call it a book. It’s either a novella or a really long short story. Anyway, it was difficult. I have a new respect for people who write whole novels. I can only seem to find enough energy for short stories in the fiction world.

About three years ago, I started writing poetry. I’ve had a fair amount of success getting them published especially the military oriented ones. I view poetry as a type of nonfiction. When there’s a small scene or object or dialogue that’s interesting, I’ll write a poem about it. Some of these small topics are like mental photographs and poetry seems to be better for things like that. I don’t invent anything in poetry. I try to make sense of small pieces of the real world with poetry.

So, in short, I like nonfiction. Fiction is hard. You have to invent every last thing in fiction, and I’m pretty lazy.

You created something for yourself called the Wave One Project.  Tell us about this “mighty quest”.

There’s a race 90-miles from Duluth called the American Birkebeiner. It’s a 31-mile ski marathon from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin. It’s inspired by the real Birkebeiner race in Norway that celebrates the origin story of the country of Norway. Two warriors called Birkebeiners (“birchleggers” for the birch bark protection on their legs) protected the infant crown prince from enemies determined to kill him. They skied and carried him across a mountain passage in a blizzard to save him.

Anyway, that’s more than you wanted to know. I’ve skied this race (North America’s biggest cross-country ski race) 13 times since 2001. Over 5000 skiers compete in the 50k ski marathon. They start in seven giant waves of around 800 skiers each. Your placement in the waves is based on your result in the previous year’s race. Last year, I skied a good one, so I moved up into Wave 2, based on the chart at the race website.

Since this is my 50th year on the planet (I turn 50 in June) I figured I’d crank things up a notch. I want to ski well enough to earn my way into Wave One. Hence, The Wave One Project. I’ll have delusions of grandeur and try to become more fit. It’s just a way to have fun with my ski training. You run out of ideas to motivate yourself after several decades of skiing and running. I hired a coach to build me a training plan. I’m blogging about my training experiences in the lead up to the race. I must be serious.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in learning biathlon?

Live near a biathlon range. That’s not a joke. Like a lot of winter sports, the facility/venue drives the event. You need a place where you can ski and shoot. Many clubs near biathlon ranges have events where they invite novices to try out the sport. Look up your local club and find an event for newbies on the calendar. A clinic for new biathletes was how I got the bug.

If you get into the sport seriously, you have to think of it as a single discipline. It’s much more than a skier who shoots. (Or even less likely, a shooter who learns to ski) You have to think of it as one discipline. An incredibly challenging discipline at that. Good luck!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

 

Book Cover Design for Dummies… or Just Me

Did you ever wonder how book covers are selected? I had no idea until I became a published novelist and I assumed authors had a great amount of input in to the way his or her creation would look. When one views the covers of my first three novels, it seems obvious there was an intentional effort to create a “branding” of sort since I’ve had two publishers yet each of the covers are black and red. Yep. Deliberate. Intentional. Part of a master plan.

Or not.

Many people think the author is the person who chooses the cover design, but that is usually not the case with traditionally published works. In the case of my first novel, Resolve, I had received an email from the publisher letting me know it was time for the cover art selection. I thought, “Great! I’ve got so many ideas!” I replied to the publisher letting them know that my incredibly artistic mind (I did pull down a solid C in my eighth grade Art class) was ready to go. The publisher politely responded with a thanks, but we’ve got this message. I was shocked. I was deflated. However, I was determined to have my creative genius play a role in this vital process.

So, I asked the publisher what kinds of cover designs they were considering. They reluctantly told me they were going to select from five drafts they had on hand. I asked if I could see the drafts. They reluctantly sent me the drafts. None of the drafts were close to what I had envisioned, and being a first-time author with no track record, I decided it was wise to let them know I wasn’t thrilled with any of the selections. They didn’t care. Ever determined to have my voice heard, I decided to tell them that IF they were going to insist on going with one of the drafts, then the obvious choice for a book set in Pittsburgh was the one with the black cover and gold font.

Have you seen the cover for Resolve?

Not black and gold.

Not black and gold.

Now, it turns out the publisher was a lot smarter than me. Covers with red font and graphics stand out in the sea of novels, especially in the e-reader world in which we often only glance at a thumbnail image on a screen. The cover I would have gone with would have been lost in the myriad of images we scroll through on a home computer or Kindle. Lesson learned.

My next book, Measure Twice, was picked up by a different publisher as part of a two-book deal. When that publisher sent me an email letting me know it was time for the cover art selection, I decided to prove I had grown as an author and remained silent. I politely responded that I’m sure they had some great ideas and would come up with a great design. To my great surprise, the publisher immediately responded that they would love my input into the design.

I was ecstatic.

I was elated.

I ran to my wife (my creative partner-in-crime fiction) and said, “The publisher wants our ideas for the cover of Measure Twice! They actually want our input!”

My wife replied, “Do we have any ideas?”

I stood with my mouth agape. After a few seconds I said, “No! I didn’t think they would want any!”

My wife and I (okay, mostly my wife) came up with an idea for the design and I quickly sent it off to the publisher. It wasn’t until two or three days later I realized that in my email to the publisher, I had failed to mention my preferred color schemes. This one could be in black and gold. I sent another email to the publisher, pointing out the omission.

The publisher responded with, “No worries. The cover designer took a look at your first book and knew you must like the black and red scheme. So, here is what she came up with. We’re going with this.”

Also not black and gold. But my wife came up with the awesome ruler/knife combo.

Also not black and gold. But my wife came up with the awesome ruler/knife combo.

Of course.

By the time my third novel, Chalk’s Outline, was set for publication, people were associated the colors black and red with my books. Needless to say, I suggested we stick with black and red and here is where we ended up.

Chalk's Outline cover. White flag of surrender not pictured.

Chalk’s Outline cover. White flag of surrender not pictured.

I don’t know what my future book covers will look like (now I actually love the black and red), but I’ve chosen to take the only speak when spoken to approach, as there are many people smarter than me in the book industry and it seems things have a way of working themselves out. That being said, if the cover of my next mystery contains a bare-chested, muscular man, with flowing locks of hair… I’m probably going to deviate from my silent approach.

Feel free to comment below.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

5 Things You Learn When Your Preschooler Sees the Summer Olympics for the 1st Time

My child is not yet 5 years old, therefore this is the first time she has really seen the Summer Olympics on television.  When I first turned it on, I expected her to show zero interest in the games since many of the sports are completely alien to her (inexplicably, they don’t do a lot of Whitewater Canoeing at her preschool).  So, I figured she might ask a couple of general questions and then demand these shining spectacles of human accomplishment and perseverance be replaced by reruns of Paw Patrol.  I was extremely wrong.  It turns out when innocent eyes view the Olympic Games for the first time, you learn some things.

1.  Swimming is awesome

Young children can relate to the sport of swimming since they are still trying to learn the skill.  Many kids my daughter’s age can stay afloat to a reasonable extent and therefore understand and respect the general mechanics of the various strokes.  Other kids, like mine, still struggle with the basics and the only stroke they demonstrate is the lesser-known Plummeting Anchor.  My daughter watched in amazement as athletes shot through the water as if the act of swimming required little or no effort.  She also observed that none of them appeared to be wearing “floaties” or water wings, which may inspire her to shed her crutch sooner than later.

SwimCarnival 010

2.  Volleyball makes sense

Some events are more difficult to explain than others.  However, a preschooler can easily pick up the basics of volleyball since there is one ball and a net separates the two sides.  My child had never seen a volleyball match, but was absolutely fascinated by a women’s match between the U.S. and China.  And when I explained that most of the women were taller than her daddy, she gazed on in amazement as she surmised giants really do exists.

3.  Springboard Diving defies belief

Somehow I’ve taken for granted that there are people who can do somersaults and twists in the air before heading downward and knifing into a pool of water.  To eyes which have never seen this, it’s a phenomenon that defies all explanation.  My daughter quickly grasped the basic concept, but became impatient when divers stood on the springboard to collect themselves.  She couldn’t understand how they could control their excitement at having the opportunity to bounce off the board and splash into the blue (or later green) water.

4.  Synchronized Swimming may kill all of us

Much like her father, my child quickly became bored by this event.  At one point she yelled out, “I wish water didn’t exist.”  Confirming my suspicion that if she ever finds a genie in a bottle, we’re all toast.

genieLampHeart

5.  Fencing is anticlimactic and not at all like Star Wars

Imagine the disappointment on my sweet daughter’s face when, in spite of the competitors wearing cool masks and wielding “swords”, not one of them lost a hand prior to learning the true identity of a parent.  Additionally, not one competitor seemed to identify with the Empire or the Rebellion.  Instead, they all represented boring entities like actual countries.  Also, from the way some of the fencers whined about points, it was pretty clear none of them had trained in the Dagobah system and they probably needed to toughen up a bit.

Overall, watching the Olympics with my little one has been a fun experience.  The beauty of the games are that if my daughter is bored by one event, there is always another one to watch.  While she is less interested in some of the events I’d like to watch (distance running), many of the other events have become the subjects of long conversations that have led into general discussions regarding competition, nationality, adversity, and expectations (she asked me if I’d ever won a marathon).  In fact this Olympic Games may end up being my favorite of all time, even if nobody loses an appendage.

What has been your favorite event in 2016?  Comment below.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

From Writer to Superhero with One Injection

As one who believes in staying physically fit, the last couple of years have been a bit of a challenge.  A while back, a foot injury limited the number of miles I could run.  As a result, I decided to increase the frequency with which I lifted weights.  One afternoon I had just completed the very manly act of curling 100 lb. dumbells (fine… 35 lbs) and then remembered that I wanted to test out a tennis video game for our daughter on our Xbox Kinect.  I wasn’t sure if the game would be too difficult for a small child, so I decided to test it out with my formidable athletic skills.  The Kinect system involves a camera picking up on the player’s movements so you are actively “skiing” or “boxing” or, in this case, “playing tennis”.

Thus, with my massive (not droopy) biceps still being tense from doing curls, I started swinging my left arm at a tennis ball that didn’t really exist.  That’s when I felt something go horribly wrong with my elbow.  Apparently, my formidable athletic skills were no match for a game I thought my pre-schooler might enjoy.  Over the next two years, I made several trips to doctors (during which I simply said the injury occurred while lifting weights rather than having them write down “video tennis injury” in their charts).  No treatment worked.  Finally, pain forced me to visit the physicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Sports Medicine facility north of Pittsburgh.  We gave cortisone shots a chance and they failed.  Another option was surgery, which has a limited success rate and includes a great deal of recovery time.  But, I was also told about an “experimental” procedure called Platelet-Rich-Plasma therapy, or PRP.

Magic serum designed to help me fight evil. Probably.

Magic serum designed to help me fight evil. Probably.

With PRP, doctors take your own blood, put it into a centrifuge, extract your platelets, and then inject them into the damaged area.  The platelets are supposed to promote healing and possibly help the patient avoid surgery.  The jury is still out, but some patients (including several pro athletes) have reported positive results.  So, rather than subject myself to surgery (only 85%) effective, I decided to give PRP a chance.

Two days before my appointment, I was called by a UPMC employee responsible for getting me pre-registered.  She told me, “This (PRP) is really cool.  I’ve never seen one of these come through!”

Okay.  That’s nice.

One day before my appointment, I was contacted with someone from UPMC who had an insurance question (although my insurance did not cover experimental treatments).  After we cleared up the insurance issue, she asked me if I had any questions.  I said I did, and rattled off a couple.  She paused (presumably looking to see what procedure I was having done) and then said, “Oooo.  PRP, huh?  I don’t know.  I’ll ask and get back to you.  The questions weren’t really important, so I assured her she didn’t need to bother.  She replied, “No, no!  I want to know.  I’ve never had anybody come through here get PRP!”

Okay.  Great. 

The day of the appointment, I showed up at the center and checked in with the receptionist.  She smiled and said, “Oh, Mr. Hensley.  You’re the one getting the special injection.”

Okay.

As I was waiting in the exam room, a medical resident came in and started to make an attempt to explain the procedure to me.  It started with, “Well… what I guess the doctor is going to do is…”

Huh?

You guess?

It turns out there is something extremely disconcerting about everyone being so anxious to see what will happen to you when you receive an experimental treatment.

The next thirty minutes involved one failed attempt at drawing my blood (damn my steely veins) and then a successful attempt.  Then my blood hit the centrifuge dance floor and the platelets were extracted.  Next, the doctor arrived and used an ultrasound to guide the syringe containing my super-charged platelets into the damaged tendon in my elbow.  Now, I have a decent pain threshold.  So keep that in mind as I explain that a long needle being pressed into a damaged tendon hurts a great deal.  The injection of the platelets into the aforementioned tendon HURTS LIKE A MOTHER.

At this point, I had three puncture wounds in my arms and two milliliters of my own yellowish platelets pumped back into my body.  I texted my wife and told her I thought the medical staff was trying to turn me into Wolverine.  She replied, “Cool!”  I reminded her that Wolverine wasn’t exactly happy and well-adjusted and then I started searching the room for a radioactive spider.  If I was going to be turned into a superhero, then I wanted to cover as many bases as possible.

It will be weeks or even months before I know if the treatment worked or if I will be asked to join the Avengers.  Former Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu had the same procedure done, so if this treatment helps me grow hair like his then I’d consider the treatment a huge success.  Elbow be damned.

All joking aside, the UPMC staff members at the Lemieux Sports Complex were tremendous and their enthusiasm, albeit a little scary at times, demonstrated their passion for the job.  I’d go back there in a heartbeat… especially if I end up developing superpowers.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

The Motivating Effects of New Toys & Money Spent

After I got into distance running, I learned various ways to motivate myself to get out there and pound the pavement.  One surprising motivator I found was money.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve never had ANY chance to run a race fast enough to win any cash.  In fact, there have been races in which I should have paid any spectators who had to witness the horrible expressions on my face as I entered mile 12 of a half-marathon.  The monetary motivation I’m talking about is the money I’ve already spent.  I’ve found that if I shelled out $100 on a pair of running shoes or a GPS watch, I’m more likely to run.  Additionally, once I pay anywhere from $50 to $100 to register for a race, you can be damn sure I’m running that sucker!  Lately, I’ve discovered the same motivation has been helpful with my writing.

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

I’m not a real “gadget” person.  I’m usually content with any device that is simple and works.  My running watch is about ten models old and is about the size of Captain America’s shield.

Not a user-friendly running watch

Not a user-friendly running watch

I don’t use any heart rate monitors or dive into any software that calculates my optimal stride length or calorie intake.  When I write novels, I open up Microsoft Word and type away while marveling at how many of my sentences become underlined with green for poor grammar or in blood for my atrocious spelling.  It’s a simple program that has been around forever, which is fine with me.  I simply buy what works and stick with it until it dies.  This is what happened a few weeks ago when my computer died.

I’ve become a MAC guy, just because I like the way the keyboard functions and the laptop I owned fit perfectly on my lap.  However, the MAC started crashing and randomly shutting down so I decided to purchase a Microsoft Surface Pro.  Even though I got the Surface Pro 3 instead of the more up-to-date Surface Pro 4, the tablet/laptop was still expensive.  I shelled out quite a bit of money for a device that I would mostly use for nothing more than writing.  What I discovered (other than the fact I LOVE the Surface Pro 3) is that I was motivated to write more in order to get my money’s worth out of the device.  I know.  It’s totally illogical.  The money has been spent and will remain so whether I write one novel or ten novels on the thing.  The money is history.  Gone.  Devoured by the teeth of consumerism.  Buried up on (Re)Boot Hill.  It’s not coming back.

Yet, I have been writing like a madman because of my new toy.  It’s like I bought a new pair of running shoes, a modern GPS watch, and paid a $100 race entry fee all at the same time.  I’m motivated.  I’m fanatical.  I’m not cursing at a frozen monitor while praying my last three pages can be recovered.  It’s exhilarating!

Then, I remember how many great runners have run races in shoes that were little more than pieces of Paper Mache bound together by stitching.

I remember how many amazing writers constructed masterpieces with old pencils and scraps of paper.

I remember and I feel inadequate.

 

But, then I take the keyboard off of my Surface Pro and use it as a tablet.  Seriously, the thing is freaking AWESOME!  You couldn’t do that with a quill dipped in ink and some tattered sheets of parchment!    

What motivates you?  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

2014

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

 

I’m Not Running Races and That’s Okay

I love running.  When I first started running, I found I loved the push toward self-improvement, the camaraderie in the distance running community, and the spirit of competition.  I’ve loved all of it.  Part of me still does, but due to countless other obligations, and a few injuries, I haven’t run a race in over a year.  My disappearance from races has taught me something unexpected.  I’ve learned that I still love running, but for different reasons.

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In 2008, I began training for my first half-marathon and became focused on improving my distance, my time, and my overall conditioning.  However, in 2010 I began thinking about writing a novel and found I was “writing” in my head during my long runs.  This kept up throughout the publication of Resolve and continued as I pieced together several more books and stories.  As this process became a habit, I realized I was running for different reasons than before.  My long runs had become quiet periods of introspection and isolation.  Those miles had become a haven from the stresses of life and allowed my mind to run free, rather than milestones toward any particular goal.  My race times suffered.  My conditioning deteriorated to some extent.  And that was okay with me.

Distance running is special and it means something different to every person who falls into the lifestyle.  We learn a lot about ourselves as we push ourselves down the road.  We learn how much we can endure.  We learn how to deal with setbacks.  We learn how to keep achievements in perspective.  And sometimes we learn our reasons for running have been redefined.  But no matter the reasoning, we churn out the miles and continue to learn more about ourselves with every mile.

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

2014

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover