Saturday, April 23, 2016

I'm Baaaaaaack!

My WORD it has been a long time!!! I hope I still have a few faithful followers out there. I know it has been a long time and so much has happened in my life that I can hardly believe how much time has passed since this blog had been started. It seems like a whole other lifetime ago.

So where have I been? Well, we hit some hard times in N.Y. Loss of hours at work, paycuts on top of it, etc., all led to us losing everything we had had up there. The house, the nice cars, the job, everything. Long story short, my brother lives in NC and suggested I look for a job down there and I rolled the dice and moved my family. Got a great job right away and am marveling at how much better we are living down here. It is truly a wonderful feeling being able to pay all the bills each month and still have enough left over for a little extra. I even opened up a savings account again! The last time I had one of those was about 15 years ago. So many blessings!

All of this did not come with its share of hard work. We have been exhausted for years and are finally enjoying ourselves again. So now it is time. I have begun writing again, thanks to a few new posts on my writer's facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Community-Vampire-Series-120321461374502/. Sam and Yolanda have both inspired me to get back in the writer's saddle so I have been hard at work so I can release book 5 by the end of August. I am going to start posting little bits and pieces from the first 4 books so we can rekindle the fond memories of Edric and Thea and their adventures together. I will try posting once a week.

I also have this idea in my head to take  look at each of the main characters (and some supporting ones too), and build a little bridge of our experiences with them through the series. Don't know who I am going to start with, I guess Edric and Thea make the most sense.

Until then!!

~Jessie

Friday, March 8, 2013

Woe is I: Editors for Indies

I remember when I first started writing for the public to see. A friend, and fellow Indie author says it is like standing naked in front of a crowd. We all know when we started. That very first publication sent out there, usually in cyberspace. Then we waited... and waited... and waited... for that very first taste of feedback. Knowing that our masterpiece would undoubtably be not only well received, but one of the best things ever written! Or at least we hoped.

For me it was fanfiction that got me started. Specifically Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which just goes to show how much I am STILL in love with the vampire themed fantasy genre. Yes, somewhere out there are unedited versions of a lesser published me testing the waters of publication. Of course this was well before there was any such thing as ereaders, ipads, or any other tablet, except of course on Star Trek. Let us all take a moment to acknowledge the utter genius and vision of Gene Roddenberry.

Which brings me to my topic of this post: the necessity of an editor! Many of us in the Indie world have limited funds to spend on our publications and therefore skip the outside editor process. Sometimes we have friends look it over, or family members. And some of us just self-edit, reading and rereading it over and over again until we have read, rewritten and read again, a thousand times, thinking that will be enough.

When I first published The Community Vampire Series I was so excited that I was creating a book that I could hardly contain myself. My husband gave me a copy of Patricia T. O'Conner's book Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English, in Plain English, and it became my bible as I wrote. Every Indie author should have a copy of this book! It is incredibly easy to read, understand and use. So there I was, bible in hand, writing, reading, rewriting, reading again, and then starting the process all over again. I have a full time job, a husband and 2 children, so most of my writing and self-editing was done in the wee hours with some daylight blocks on the weekends here and there. But given all the time I had put into self-editing, with my new paperback companion at my side, there was no way that I could have flawed in the process. Afterall, my computer also has spellcheck and grammarcheck so how many mistakes could there really be?

Let's rewind a few years, ok, let's rewind like 20 years. We all have that one adult during our adolescence, often times a teacher, who influences us in such a way that they stay with us for the rest of our lives. Someone who has made such an impression on us that we find ourselves wondering, if they could see me now, would they be proud of what I have accomplished? For me it was Stuart Wood. Stu was my ninth grade English teacher. He was honest, fair and humorous. This man was able to create a love and understanding for Shakespeare in a bunch of 14 year old kids who could hardly even sound out the words in the plays. He knew this, so he read to us, adding a flare to the stories that we never would have appreciated had we been forced to read them on our own. Stu made reading fun, made us realize how easy it could be to lose yourself in another world. He made sense of Waiting for Godo, and we actually LIKED that story! So it was hardly a surprise when most of us took his 12th grade class in World Literature.

Stu and I remained friends after graduation for a little while, but as often happens, we lost touch over the years. Then facebook happened (input grandoire "tada" music) and although Stu was not on the social network, his daughter, who also attended the same high school as I did, was on. When I self-published my book I wanted to show my thanks and gratitude for this man who took my mere satisfaction with reading and truly turned it into a love. So I got his address and sent him a paperback copy of my first book, which of course included a dedication to him, and a three page hand-written letter to update my life since we had last spoken.

So I waited... and waited... and waited... and the feedback came rolling in from friends and family, all of them professing their adoration for my new little world, even those who professed their personal preference for reading anything BUT vampires. Then one day I got the phone call I had been waiting for. I didn't recognize the phone number so I did not pick it up (come on, I know you all do this too!) but I heard the voicemail. It went something like this: "Hi Jessie! Wow, you are an author indeed! I loved the book and your letter. But... I just wish you had had an editor... and I wished it had been me..." The rest is important only to me so I don't need to share. I was thrilled and disappointed all at the same time. The first thing I had done when my paperbacks had come in was to read the book and I found a list of mistakes that I hadn't seen before, so I knew that Stu had seen them too. To this day I wonder if he sat there with his red pen...

So I called Stu and he offered to be my editor moving forward and I have been so blessed with his insights, always teaching me the better ways to write things. You all don't know this but I throw a little inside joke in every book I write that only he and I (and anyone from our high school English classes) would get. He continues to make me a better writer each time. Every time I forward him a copy of my manuscript I feel like I am handing in an assignment to be graded. Well, I guess I am, in a way.

So now I have created this blog and I want to help other Indie authors like myself to get their works out there. There are so many incredibly talented writers out there who have such amazing stories to tell. So I have decided to create an author spotlight page on the blog to help out the Indie community. (Submission guidelines are outlined on the "Submission" page above.)

Which comes to the whole purpose of this post: we all need editors. I don't care how good of a writer you are or even if you are an editor in profession yourself. You cannot fully edit your own work and catch all the typos and grammar mistakes that have occurred. It's impossible, so just stop defending yourself right now and listen. First of all, as Indie authors we have day jobs (well most of us do anyway) so we write at night. We get tired, bleary-eyed and unfocused eventually, and then turn off the computer and go to bed with much less sleep then the other guy at work who is NOT writing a novel in the middle of the night. So we are going to make mistakes. Second, we know what we wrote, and rewrote, however many times, and our eyes tend to skip over things because our brain already knows what's written there. Third, spellcheck and grammarcheck both make mistakes, enough said on that.

Now let me tell you what someone who has never read your story sees: every misspelled, typo, incorrectly used grammar, double-written word or phrase in your entire manuscript. And it makes them stumble over your words, their brains forcing them to fix it in their minds. And instead of the fabulous story and world you have created for all to see, what they remember is how many mistakes they corrected with their proverbial red pen.

So how does one get an editor with a limited, if not non-existant budget? There are plenty of ways. Look at the people around you in your immediate circle, they are your primary resource. Are any of them English majors? Reading teachers? Or even an incredibly well-read individual? The more you read, the more you understand how the English language works. There are also Beta readers! I just did this for a fellow Indie recently. Beta-readers are probably the single most untapped resource for us. I know I have never used them before, mostly because I have Stu on the sidelines waiting for my next manuscript, although I think I may for my 5th book. Not only will they pick out the small errors that you missed, but they will also let you know how the story flows, what didn't make sense, how your timeline went off course for a moment. They are the next best thing to hiring an editor. Use the social networking communities! Use Google+, facebook, twitter and whatever else is out there. We have so many tools at our fingertips now, we just need to be patient enough to let them take the time to help us. WE NEED EDITORS! And there are so many people out there who are more than willing to help us without giving us a price for it, we just need to ask, accept the feedback without taking anything personally, and make adjustments in our writing as necessary.

I hope this post has been helpful to some of you. Ok, you can put down your red pens now, as I know you have all been checking for my own mistakes in this post. It's not like Stu read this over before I posted it! ;)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Next Stop on the Blog Hop

Hey everyone! I have the honor of being the next stop on the Blog Hop. I would first like to thank a fellow writer Tim McEnroe. We met in a writer's discussion group on Google +. I would highly recommend any writer, would-be or published, to get themselves onto Google +. The communities on there have been an amazing resource for me as well as other wonderful authors I have met there. It has opened a whole new world of networking and resources that we all use to help make each other better writers.

So what's this blog hop all about? Well, I have answered a set of questions related to my work in progress and then once I have answered them all I will link to another author Raymond Sardella, and he will have one week to post his answers and link to another author and so on. So without further delay...


1. What is the name of your work in progress?

Currently I am working on the 5th book in my vampire series. This one is called "The Community: Bloodlines".

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I have always loved the worlds of fantasy fiction and Sci-fi. One of my favorite TV series were Buffy and Angel so I guess they had a lot to do with my choice in genre. I am also a lover of mystery/crime/thriller novels and TV so I incorporate these elements into my books as well.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy fiction.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would love to see James Marsters play my main vampire Edric, even though he's about 2 decades older than the character should be. For those of you who don't know, he played the Vampire Spike in Buffy. I loved him from the first episode I saw him! And as for Thea, Edric's human lover... well, if James is Edric than I'll save that role for myself, thank you very much.

5. What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

The fifth installment of The Community Vampire Series reveals information on Edric's pasts, human and vampire, and reveals his human lineage, his real brother who is also a vampire and the most frightening of all: his sire Dario, an ancient breed of demon, all but extinct, who threatens everything Edric has worked to achieve and acquire, including his lover Thea.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am currently in the process of searching for a literary agent for my first book "Existence". I do not expect to have "Bloodlines" represented so I'm quite sure like the previous 4 books in the series, it will be self-published initially. Paperback on Lulu.com and ebooks available on KindleNook and Smashwords.com. Books 1-4 are available at these locations, just follow the links on the righthand side of my blog page.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? (Obviously this one can be answered as that you haven't finished it or something else.)

"Bloodlines" is still a work in progress but typically it takes me about 6 months or so to finish a draft once I start writing on a daily basis. Bloodlines is proving to be a much bigger book than its predecessors so I expect to be done with the first draft by June.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

As a general rule I do not watch or read anything vampire related while I am writing vampire fiction. This allows me to be much more free with my ideas since I know that they are truly my own and not just something hiding in my subconscious that I saw or read at one time or another. This makes this question a very difficult one to answer. Think Buffy and Angel with much more ADULT themes. But then throw in some John Grisham mystery/crime in there too.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have always written. Since I was a child I have written stories and little mini-books. I have written many fan-fics on Buffy sites that, 15 years later, are somewhere out there in cyberspace. One day I sat down to write another fan-fic and my husband said to me, "Why don't you write something that you can publish that's all yours?" So I guess my husband had a hand in inspiring me to publish. What I will tell you is that my favorite fantasy fiction writer is Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series. This world is absolutely NOTHING like mine though, but I admire his writing style and especially how he can so easily incorporate humor into his writing.

10. What else about your book might pique the readers' interests?

There are adult themes in my books. Okay, no beating around the bush: there is at least one sex scene in each of my books that I wouldn't allow anyone under 16 to read. I say this as I beat off my 15 year old daughter from the bookshelves and I will not allow her to read them. However, I feel that they are tastefully done. I do not use any explicit language, nothing that would be considered erotica, but it's in there so I can say with certainty that Scholastic will not be picking up my books! That being said, I do not consider them to be romance novellas. They are much more than that. They are thrillers, suspenseful, mystery, twist-at-the-end novellas that happen to have characters that are demons within them. It is a real world environment that is based on a town not half an hour from where I live on Long Island. I am a martial artist and I take pride in my fight scenes that are carefully planned out, sometimes with a group of friends to make sure the scenes work. I have researched everything I have ever paid reference to in my books including tasers, Block Island, medical information and even guns. I know for sure that women will love my work because what woman doesn't want their own sexy vampire? But I am especially proud when a man contacts me to let me know that they are also fans of the series. That means I have done a fair job at incorporating romance into my suspense thriller without doing it so much that I have turned off a huge bulk of the fantasy fiction population.


Well, that's it for me. Please check out all the links for the Blog Hop past and current ones. These are really interesting people with fantastic ideas. Next stop on the Blog Hop is Raymond Sardella. He's got a few WIPs so I'm interested to see which one he chooses to write about with this. Thank you so much Tim McEnroe for including me in this activity!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

As promised, an excerpt from book 5: "Bloodlines"

For some rason I have taken a liking to my character "Mikey, the junkie who, in my first book, mugged Thea. He reappeared briefly in book 3 and then played a bigger part in book 4. He is once again in book 5 and I now consider him to be one of my larger characters, Not sure how it happened really. Anyway, Edric needs to go away for a few days and leaves Patrick in charge of keeping Mikey safe since the drug dealer/pimp J.J. wants Mikey dead for talking to the police. This is one of those scenes...


It was early evening when Mikey walked outside of the dingy apartment house, lit a cigarette and headed for the gas station two blocks away. He sighed when he turned the corner. "You really wanna kill me, don't you?"

Detective Joe Gordon kept pace with him. "I just came to warn you, Mikey: J.J. is out of jail."

"I know." Mikey didn't look at him, just kept walking.

"I can only protect you if you testify."

"Ha! That's a laugh! Wasn't I standing right behind you on police property when Marcus knifed me? Sorry, Detective G., no thanks."

"I'm sorry, Mikey. But you know that only means that you have the right kind of information that can put J.J. away for a long time. I'm asking you to please reconsider."

Mikey stopped and turned to the officer. "Look, man, I trusted you once before. You were supposed to get me outta this hellhole! I woulda been killed again right in the hospital too if it wasn't for..."

"What? If it wasn't for what? Scarey Man?" Joe stood toe to toe with Mikey and towered over the younger man. "You're going to rely on him to keep you safe? Do you even know who he is? Where to find him? How to call him if you need help?"

"Hey!" Mikey yelled back. "So far he's more reliable than you!"

"He killed Stevie! Or have you forgotten about that?" Joe shouted. "You cannot trust him, Mikey."

"I didn't forget about Stevie. I ain't never gonna forget about Stevie! But I know one thing for sure: Scarey Man only says the truth. He is what he is, but he ain't never lied to me. He says I'm gonna live then I believe him before I believe that you're gonna do anything to help me get outta here. If I'm gonna have to live in Hell, I may as well be on the devil's good side."

Joe just stared back at him. What could he say? Mikey was right; Joe had promised witness protection and before he could even get him safely inside the police station, one of J.J.'s cronies had stabbed him, only yards away from where Joe stood. Then in the hospital, while he was supposed to be under police protection, the same guy tried to kill Mikey again. Who had saved him? Not Joe. No, not anyone from the police department at all. Instead he had been saved by Scarey Man. A man Joe still could not quite wrap his head around.

Maybe it was time to have that talk with Thea. Joe watched Mikey walk away before getting back into his car. He sat for a moment before opening up the glove compartment and taking out the large Desert Eagle gun he had gotten from the gun shop in town. The one specially made to shoot rounds of wood, for those perpetrators who required such a thing through the heart in order to stop them. The gun was heavy and felt good in his hand.

No, it wasn't time yet to talk to Thea, but it was certainly time he started investigating this boyfriend of hers. What was his name? Eric, or something like that. Joe tried to remember what Thea had called him. He remembered the blond was Liam. And the younger guy, he was so familiar to Joe, he knew he had seen him somewhere else before, but he couldn't quite place him.

It was time for some reconnaissance.

*****

Mikey stepped on what was left of his cigarette before walking into the gas station office.

"You're late," the old man said without looking up from his paper.

"I know." Mikey grabbed the rusted folding chair and walked back outside. He fought the chair for a few seconds before he was able to open it enough to safely sit on it and wondered if he should even be there tonight. How easy would it be for J.J. to find him if he was just sitting out here waiting for someone to pick him off? What was he, nuts? He may as well be holding up a neon sign saying, kill me here!

A car pulled up next to the full serve pump. Mikey looked at the guy driving and didn't think he was one of J.J.'s. He stood up and walked over to the sedan. "What can I getcha?" Mikey asked when the window had rolled down.

The driver held out a fifty dollar bill. "Regular."

Mikey tried to take the money and looked at the driver when he wouldn't let go. The driver slowly smiled, sending an all too familiar chill down Mikey's spine. Hairs all over his body started to stand at attention and he had to tell himself to breathe. Play it cool, Mikey. He purposely broke eye contact and the driver finally let go of the bill in his hand. Maybe he won't know that I know what he is.

He couldn't explain it, but lately he seemed to be able to know who was human and who was... well, who wasn't. He thought it might be because he was off drugs and just more aware. He was certainly better at talking to people so he didn't always sound like an idiot. But with these devils, there was some kind of alarm that went off inside his head and his body would react before he even realized it. He knew exactly what was driving this car, and he knew enough to know he shouldn't look into its eyes, because whenever he looked into Scarey Man's eyes, he lost himself.

The gas pump took what felt like a lifetime to finish filling up the car at forty-three dollars. Mikey sighed; of course he would need change. He counted out seven dollars and forced his hands to stop shaking. Just don't look at his eyes, he told himself. He walked over to the window again, careful to keep as much distance as he possibly could. "Here's your change," he mumbled.

The driver reached out to take the money and for just a second Mikey thought he would be okay; but instead of the money, the driver grabbed Mikey's wrist and pulled him into the window. "I'm looking for someone," the driver said, "and I think you know where he is."

Mikey continued to look down. He shook his head. "No, man, I don't know nuthin'."

The driver chuckled to himself, then brought Mikey more into the window until his face was close enough to feel the other man's breath, if the other man had been breathing. "Where's Edric?"

Mikey shook his head again, closing his eyes. "No, I don't know who you're talkin' about."

The driver sighed dramatically. "Edric would have loyal slaves." He loosened his grip on Mikey just a little.

Mikey stopped for a moment, "What? I ain't no ... slave."

"No? You're not trying to protect your master?" the vampire teased. "Then tell me where he is."

"I told you, I don't know where he is."

The driver was silent for a few seconds, then he reached into his pocket with his free hand and came back with a hundred dollar bill. "I'm really more of a businessman, actually."

"Really?" Mikey said, "then what's with the vice on my arm?"

The driver seemed to think about this for a moment before releasing Mikey completely. The hundred dollars was being slowly waved and Mikey almost hated himself for taking it. "What do you want to know?" He continued to avert his eyes.

There was a pause, then, "Where is he?"

Mikey shrugged his shoulders. "I told the truth, man, I don't know where he is. I never know where he is. He just finds me, y'know?"

The vampire nodded. "Fine, then tell me who would know where to find him."

"I dunno, maybe his girl."

Mikey could hear the smile in the man's voice and wondered if he had just done the wrong thing. "Ah," the man said, "so Edric has a girl? A favorite one?"

Mikey nodded. "I don't know her name or nuthin'."

"Human?"

Mikey hesitated, but then nodded again.

"Anything else I should know?"

"I don't know nuthin' else, I swear."

The vampire's hand shot out of the window and pulled Mikey in so fast, he very nearly got whiplash. "You should know, slave, that mark Edric gave you might protect you from the vampires around here, but nothing can protect you from his sire."

Mikey was tossed away from the car and watched it drive away. He looked at the money he was holding in his hand and walked back inside the office. "Sorry, Manny, I can't work no more."

Manny never looked up from his paper but just waved an aged hand in Mikey's direction while mumbling something.

Mikey didn't know where the safest place for him was, but he knew it sure as hell wasn't at the gas station out in plain sight. He needed to be smarter about his survival. It was getting pretty dark and he wanted to get back home, where at least he could lock the door.

"Who was that?" A voice from the shadows asked.

"What the--!" Mikey jumped back about four feet and grabbed his chest. "Jesus Christ, man! You trying to give me a heart attack? Aren't you supposed to keep me alive?"

Patrick stepped closer, ignoring the question. "Who was that?"

"The guy in the car?" Mikey asked in disbelief. "You were here the whole time? Why didn't you help me? I coulda been killed."

"He was a vampire. Aren't you in danger from a drug dealer?"

"Aren't I always in danger from a vampire?"

"Of course not." Patrick spoke matter-of-factly. "Edric marked you. You're pretty much safe from vampires; although I wouldn't go testing that. My father always said, 'it's easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.'"

Mikey stared at Patrick briefly before starting to walk back to his apartment. "What does that even mean, man?"

Patrick walked next to him. "That if you're going to do something that you know will piss off someone else, it's better to do the deed and ask for forgiveness, than ask permission to do it, get turned down, but then disobey and ultimately get in trouble for doing it anyway. Which in this case would mean getting killed, depending on the vampire."

Mikey thought about this. "Except his sire, right? I mean, that's what the other guy said."

"What did he say?"

"Just that nothing would protect me from his sire."

"Whose sire?"

"Scarey Man's, I think."

They continued walking. Then Patrick asked, "What else did this vampire want?"

"He wanted to know where he was. But I told him I didn't know, that I never know where he is."

"Who was he?"

Mikey shrugged. "Dunno, never seen him before."

Patrick nodded thoughtfully. The silence between them was making Mikey uncomfortable. He searched for something to say. "So, does your father know that you're a..."

"Vampire?" Patrick finished. "Yes."

"I guess that must put a damper on the relationship."

"He's dead."

Mikey stopped. "What? Oh, man, I'm sorry. Wait, did you... y'know... do it?"

Patrick looked down at Mikey, who couldn't help but notice the hint of red emerging in the vampire's eyes. "He hung himself, after he'd realized that I had escaped from the prison he had made for me for his torturous experiments. But yes, I would have killed him, given the chance."

Mikey put up his hands defensively. "Whoa, dude, I'm sorry, didn't mean to get all up in your business. Just calm down, okay?"

Patrick collected himself and continued to walk toward the dirty place where this junkie lived. He felt like going hunting. It was getting easier to hold his demon in check but sometimes his anger at what his father had done to him got the better of him. Sometimes it just felt so good to let the demon take over just so he could release all that energy.

"Experiments, huh?" Mikey said. "That's harsh." He didn't know what else to say. He couldn't help but wonder what Patrick had gone through at the hands of his own father. "How'd he make a prison in your house?"

"We lived in The Hills."

"Well, that explains it." They stopped in front of the small, shoddy apartment house.

Patrick looked up at Mikey's window on the second floor and inhaled the air. "Someone is in your room."

"What?" Mikey looked around them anxiously to see if there was anyone else around them. "Who? How many?"

"I'm not sure." He cocked his head and listened carefully. "Maybe two." Patrick opened the creaky door in front of them. "We should go find out."

"Are you crazy, man? They wanna kill me." He ran his fingers through his greasy hair. "I need to get outta here."

Patrick grabbed Mikey by his frayed shirt. "Are you doubting my ability to keep you safe?"

"What? No, man." Mikey was suddenly reminded of what Patrick was. He had almost forgotten what exactly had been walking him home. "No, man. Just... what do you think we should do?"

Patrick shoved Mikey through the doorway. "You should invite me in."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Epilogue of book 4, a lead-in to book 5, a WIP.

So let's see, where are we...? Oh yes, Detective Joe Gordon has just found out about Thea's new "family" and is trying to find a way to deal with this newfound information. He goes into the local gun shop, not really sure what he is looking for...


Wednesday afternoon, Pellman...

Joe Gordon drove around to the back of Long Island Guns and Ammo and got out of his car. The bell above the door announced his arrival and a middle-aged blonde man peeked at him from around a shelf. "Good afternoon," he greeted. "Can I help you find something?"

Joe shook his head and didn't look at the man when he mumbled to himself, "Not unless you've got something that can shoot bullets made out of wood." Truthfully he wasn't sure what he thought he would find in this store.

The man chuckled as he took the box of inventory he was shelving and walked toward the front door. "Now, I can think of only one reason why a man would want to use wood as a weapon." His southern drawl, to Joe, made him seem far less smart than Joe thought he was.

Joe watched him stop at the door and flip the 'open' sign to 'sorry, we're closed' before throwing both locks and pulling down the shade. Joe eyed the man curiously, hand at the ready for his own gun, but waited.

The shop owner walked over to the counter and put the box down and then continued walking into the back room behind it. Joe waited a moment but then curiosity got the better of him and he carefully followed the man into the back. He stopped in the doorway of a room with a small round table in the middle and shelves of boxes lining the walls. There was a strange buzzing sound coming from a section of boxes and Joe could have sworn that some of the boxes had an almost gold-like glow around them. What the hell had he walked into?

"Here's what you're looking for." The man's southern accent had suddenly sharpened up and Joe thought the entire air about this man had changed so much so, that he could have been someone else entirely. He placed a large gun on the table and slid it over to Joe.

Joe picked it up; it was a fifty caliber Desert Eagle handgun, solid black. "That's a big gun," Joe stated.

"Only kind that won't ruin the bullets upon exiting, and that can still hit your target." He passed a box across the table next.

Joe picked up the plain white box and opened it. Inside were two rows of bullets. Without moving his head, he looked up at the shop owner.

"Those are top of the line mahogany. I also carry walnut and oak if you prefer."

Joe picked up a bullet and inspected the lead round. "Mahogany, huh?"

"Wood is not dense enough to be used without being encased in lead," the man explained. "The lack of density would cause it to tumble instead of spin, making it a lot less likely to actually hit your target." He pointed to the bullet in Joe's fingers. "That there beauty works like a hollow point. The bullet opens up on impact and the wood is driven into the body. Trust me, it works."

Joe put the bullet back in its box and picked up the gun again. "I assume this is a cash only transaction?"

The shopkeeper smiled.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New excerpt from book 4: Wandering

So Thea has decided she needs a little "me time" and goes on a weekend retreat by herself to Block Island (RI) which is just a short ferry ride from the east end of Long Island (NY). While on the ferry she meets Ted and realizes there are 4 vampires on board as well. Edric had sensed the vamps and had boarded to make sure Thea stayed safe. While having a talk with the 4 vampires, Edric gets into a fight with one of them and tosses him overboard. This is what happens right after, and we find out just who this Ted is...



Thea came back with two coffees and another blueberry muffin. She gave Ted his cup and said, “Why don't we go sit outside? Enjoy the sun a little.”

Ted looked out the window they were sitting under and then back at Thea. “I don't think so, Thea, it looks pretty crowded out there already. Thank you for the coffee, but please don't feel obligated to sit with me. Go ahead outside if you like.”

Thea looked around for the vampire she had encountered but didn't see him. His absence from her sight did nothing to relieve her growing anxiety and she figured Ted was safer with her than without her, even if they both stayed inside, where she was sure the vampire was hiding somewhere. She sat down. “That's okay,” she smiled, “I'd rather have the company.” She looked around cautiously and slowly opened up her muffin.

Ted looked around as well but saw nothing out of the ordinary. “Is there something wrong?”

Hmm? What? No, nothing at all.” She forced a smile but couldn't help but wonder how many other vampires were on the boat. Surely there would be at least one more. She found herself scrutinizing every person she saw on the ship. The old man reading the paper across from them, the mother with the little boy who was crying about ice cream, and even the child himself. She shook her head, trying to clear the sudden paranoia that was settling in. She could feel herself becoming jumpy and impatient. “How long is this ride anyway?” She asked.

Ted looked at her, almost sadly, over his coffee cup. She was already starting to feel the effects of his penance. “About an hour.” He sighed inwardly and scolded himself for allowing himself to start to feel the beginnings of a friendship blossoming. He should know better by now, after all these centuries, he should know better. “Do you get sea sick?” He asked.

Thea shook her head. “Never have. But I also haven't had all that much experience with big boats like this.” She smiled at him. He had kind eyes, but they were lonely too. “My parents are on a cruise to the Bahamas right now. It's kind of what gave me the idea for this weekend getaway.”

That's nice.”

Thea continued to search the boat when her eyes fell upon the vampire she had encountered talking to two other men. She could only assume they were also vampires. They entered the room from the back of the vessel and spread themselves out amongst the passengers. Thea stood and looked right at the one who had approached her on the food line. “Stand up, Ted.”

He looked up at her as he complied. “What's wrong, Thea?” He followed her gaze and his breath caught when he recognized the man she was staring down. “It can't be,” he whispered.

We're going outside, Ted. Grab your bag.” Without taking her eyes off of the three vampires, Thea bent down and picked up her bag before calmly pushing Ted toward the door that led to the outer deck.

Ted held the door open for Thea. “Go over by the railing, they won't want to be that close to the edge.” Ted pointed to an empty spot about ten feet away.

She followed his advice but questioned, “Why not?”

We can't swim.”

Thea whipped around to find Edric standing behind her. “Edric!” She threw her arms around his neck. “I am so happy to see you!”

Ted tugged Thea back to his side once she had escaped the vampire's embrace. “You know what he is?”

Do you?” She asked.

Ted nodded but eyed the man suspiciously.

And the other three men inside,” Thea asked, “You know what they are too?”

There are four of them,” Ted said. “They have been following me for over three months now.

Down to three now, mate.” Edric stepped closer to Thea's new friend. He could feel the panic settling into the older man as Edric looked him up and down slowly. His eyes narrowed. “Why do I want to kill you so badly?”

Edric!” Thea exclaimed. “Why would you say that?”

He ignored her and continued to glare at the man. “What are you? You're not human, at least...” Edric stepped closer.

Ted pressed himself closer to the railing, his grip on Thea's arm tightening. “Not another step or we both go overboard.”

What?” Thea was dumbfounded and her head was starting to spin.

Edric dared another step. “Somehow I don't think that would be a problem for you, would it?”

I mean it,” Ted warned. “You won't stop me; not when I'm this close.”

Thea easily shook off Ted's hold on her, stepped between them and shoved them apart. “All right! That's enough!” She yelled. “I have had just about enough of this! Oh my Lord, I just want to smack the both of you.” She inhaled deeply through her nose and then spoke again: “Now, I want some answers and I want them now. And so help me God if you two don't stop this pissing contest right now I will smack you both.”

Edric backed up against the side of the boat so that he was standing in the shade from the overhanging deck above them.

Thea seemed satisfied. “First of all, Ted, Edric is my... well, we're together.”

Why would you be with such an evil thing?”

Hey now,” Edric piped up. “Let's not get snippy. If you are who I think you are, you're not exactly without sin either, mate.”

He's not evil,” Thea defended.

Oh, he's not?” Ted chided, “Ask him how many people he's killed over the years. Ask him why it is he can't swim.”

You can't swim?” Thea asked.

Nope,” Edric said as he lit a cigarette. “Sink like a bloody rock.” He blew smoke at Ted.

And do you know why he can't swim, Thea,” Ted asked. “Because his body is weighed down by all of the souls he has taken.”

What the hell kind of rubbish is that?” Edric shouted. He stood straight and pointed an angry finger at Ted. “You humans are always trying to bring your faith into things, aren't you? I can't swim because I don't breathe; I'm not buoyant, you stupid git.” He took another drag of his cigarette before continuing. “And I'll have you know there are plenty of humans in this world walking around without a soul, and it's got nothing to do with a vampire.”

There are people who have no souls?” Thea could not believe what she had heard.

Sure there are. What? You think every time some idiot says that they would give their soul, or sell their soul, if only little junior here would get better, that only your God is listening? Don't be ridiculous! I may not feed on souls but there are things out there that do.”

The three were quiet for a moment. Edric threw his cigarette to the floor and crushed it with his boot. “Now, we all know what I am, so why don't we hear about you, Ted. Tell Thea who you really are.”

Thea turned to Ted and crossed her arms expectantly. “Well?”

Ted seemed to think about his options for a moment or two before answering. “It's nothing you need to concern yourself with, Thea. When the boat docks we go our separate ways and you won't need to worry about me ever again.”

Edric made a pfft sound that received a glare from Thea. “Too late,” she said to Ted. “I'm already worried and involved. Trust me, whatever it is, you're going to need our help getting away from your friends in there.”

Thea, I appreciate--”

Shut up!” she shouted.

Behind her Edric smiled, his demon fully enjoying his woman's angry energy.

Thea put her fingertips to both temples in an attempt to gain control of her quickly shortening fuse. “Ted, I'm just a little bit cranky right now, and the last time I started feeling this way I threw the man who had made me this grouchy into the arms of Edric to be killed.” She snapped her head up and glared at him. “Now tell me who the hell you are, right now.”

Ted sighed and seemed to shrink before her eyes. His shoulders slouched and he suddenly appeared to show his age. He looked defeated and very tired. “It's okay,” he said quietly, averting her gaze. “You've lasted longer than most people. I mean, every once in a while I meet someone who can stand to be around me for about a day or so but lately it seems within minutes their hatred for me boils over.”

What are you talking about,” she said, “I don't hate you, I'm just a little...”

Cranky? Yes, we covered that; it was shortly followed by a murderous threat.”

This time it was Thea who averted eye contact. What was she becoming; that she could say such things and truly mean them?

It's okay, Thea, it's not your fault. It's me, my presence. It's all part of my penance.”

Penance for what?” She asked.

For killing Christ,” Edric said from behind her.

Thea looked at Edric with a furrowed brow and then back at Ted. “...What?...”

He's right,” Ted confessed. “I am the Roman soldier who stabbed Jesus of Nazareth during his crucifixion.”

Thea brought her hand to her side where, not all that long ago, she had felt the pain of that very blow. She briefly studied her hand, as if to check for blood, and then looked back up at Ted.

He nodded slowly.

Forever doomed to walk the Earth until Judgment Day,” Edric was saying as he stepped forward to be side by side with Thea. “And whose blood will give true immortality to the demon who drinks it. That's why they're after you, isn't it?”

Yes.”

Wait,” Thea looked at Edric. “What do you mean?”

I thought you were just a myth,” Edric started to explain.

This coming from a mythical creature?” Ted questioned.

Thea caught a glimpse of red flicker dangerously in the eyes of her lover. She touched him on his arm tenderly.

He continued: “The vampire who drinks his blood will be invincible, nothing can kill him, not a stake through the heart, sunlight, decapitation, nothing. True immortality.”

Oh my god,” she whispered. Thea turned her attention to Ted, “I don't understand, why is being near you making me so angry all of a sudden?”

Part of my punishment is being forced to wander, friendless, until the end of time. I can never stay in one place too long. Eventually, the torches and pitchforks come out in even the most righteous. I even tried living in a monastery once, but to see the men who had chosen a life of God turn on their vows the way they did... why anger the Lord more than I already have?”

So people eventually start to hate you? Just like that?”

Just like that.”

This is all well and good, mate, but you have a more immediate problem.” Edric nodded toward the water. “Land ho. Those vamps are going to take you as soon as they can.”

We need a plan,” Thea looked at Edric.

He sighed, “What? Why do I always have to think of the plan? My instinct is telling me to kill him first and take the reward.”

That's not your instinct,” Thea said, “That's your demon.”

Not much difference there, Luv.”

Okay then, here's some motivation for you: I'm walking off this boat on Ted's arm.” She moved next to Ted and linked her arm through his. “Now, what's your plan to get me safely off this ship?”

*****

We seem to have ourselves a problem,” Tommy said.

We do,” Raymond agreed.

I say we just kill all three of them right now.” Sean shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Get that British bastard back for what he did to Anthony.”

Calm yourself, Sean, you're no good to any of us dead. We need to be careful about this. We are too close to let this slip away from us. That vampire possesses an old and powerful demon, and he managed to beat Anthony without its help. He may be in love with that human, but he is still a vampire, and his demon wants to live forever, just like ours do.”

Yes,” Tommy agreed, “Separate him; without him in the picture there is no threat to the mission.”

He is the key.” Raymond turned to Tommy. “I want you to find out everything you can about that vampire. He's a local, I'm sure of it. We need to know his name, where he's from, everything we can.”

I know who to call.” Tommy took out a cell phone from his front pocket and dialed.

Raymond nodded. "After that find a suitable place to for us to stay until nightfall." He turned to the other vampire. “Sean, I need you to get the lay of the land. He came here for a reason; what's so damn special about this island? What's here that he needs? And don't do anything stupid.”

What will you be doing?”

Raymond stepped closer to the window across from where they were watching the other three. “I'm going to be making a new ally; either that or planning his death.”