Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote 15K in five days, and spent the weekend setting up another bundle, uploading another title, and setting up my series pages on Amazon. So this week I can announce TWO new titles! 🙂

The first is the “middle book” of the Vampires Through the Centuries meets Future Earth Chronicles “trilogy”. On the cover is Ishaq, although he’s described as looking like Oded Fehr in The Mummy, but unfortunately I couldn’t put that on the cover! 😀 But the guy has a beard and is not too bloody. Ishaq is a fledgling of Arianrhod, Bran’s sister-in-darkness.

Ishaq ibn Tariq is an 8th-century Berber warrior under the Umayyad Caliphate. After his latest pilgrimage around the Mediterranean, he meets an old mortal acquaintance who introduces him to Rainbow Towns, the perfect places for a vampire to spend the years of the mortals apocalypse. Hidden underground settlements with 21st century smart-homes can allow vampires to spend a decade or three in comfort. Until they become prisons.
Alain is a 20th-century hacker with Asperger syndrome. With his girlfriend, he goes through the end of the Technological Revolution of the 21st century by finding refuge in Rainbow Town, where time seems to stop. They can’t go out, unless Alain remembers his way to the Darknet.
Bonus story: One Who Cannot Be Destroyed. Achyutam tries to get his wife back through the centuries, if only the damn western bloodsuckers didn’t always ruin his plans.

Now, that bonus story is also included in Nightly Bites Volume 3, that you should definitely check out, because 1) it’s longer than the previous two and 2) it has flash fiction and novellas and short stories, so a much wider variety compared to the first two! 🙂 So check it out and give some love to my fellow authors who wrote great stories!

I am also setting up a limited time bundle on BundleRabbit after a long time. I was spurred by another curator who took out my book from his bundle because “could not find an email on your website to communicate with you” (which prompted me to modify the Contact Me page) when he had already received my acceptance.

You see, there’s a forum on BundleRabbit, where curators can communicate with whoever is in their bundle or collaboration. I had to withdraw a request for my latest bundle (it’s the 4th, in case your wondering) because that author indeed had no way to contact him by email to prod him into accepting the request.

His contact page said to leave a public comment and had no link to send him a private email – which is what I did with another author who promptly wrote back with questions. That other curator? He could have made a post in his bundle’s section and asked we sent him an email for private communications off site. Sigh.

Anyhow, still working out a couple of things for that bundle, so I’m not announcing it yet. Do check the above books, though. November is definitely the vampires month! 🙂 As for December, I’ll publish the Star Minds Universe box sets and that’s it for this year.

The new titles in the Future Earth Chronicles (or Before) will come out next year. Writing the last sequel right now, I should be done by the end of the month, so I can send it over to the editor in December.

Sunday was mostly housekeeping, setting up those series on Amazon and working on Da Strip with the umpteenth change that might push us older users out of social media for good, LOL!

The only good thing about the new Author Central is that they took off the unpublished books, so those ugly old covers finally vanished. I did compire the survey, though, since when you add another book, it shows up ten times, and not just when it’s a multi-authors title. Even Through the Centuries showed up 10 times. If enough people tell them how dumb it has become, maybe they’ll revert, won’t they?

Wishful thinking, I know. On Sunday I went to upload the strip and SURPRISE! Instagram changed stuff around too! To add a MARKETPLACE! Gee, I know everybody buys online with lockdown and coronavirus and everything, but damn it, if all social media become virtual stores, I’m out of here!

Also the fonts are so tiny to be unreadable (for my ageing eyes) on the phone, and you can’t post stuff from laptop. End rant of a Gen-Xers who is sick of those subtle changes for you youngsters who still have good eyes (but you’ll ruind them faster than I ever did if this trend continues)!

Sunday night I rewatched Kites because it was “movies where the protag dies at the end” weekend. I hadn’t watched for more than 2 years, since before the WMG workshops moved from Lincoln City to Vegas.

I have seen Las Vegas in 1994 (the Strip only) and 2009 (our guide took us to the Freemont Experience), but it was touristic one-night stays during group tours. So it was fun rewatching the movie while being familiar with Freemont Street – and I even spent one night at the Plaza last February! 🙂

So it was lika a déjà vu, like when I watch Ocean’s 11 (even though I never slept at the Bellagio), and so NOT like 1994! 🙂 Speaking of which, a lovely penfriend (remember those?) whom I met quite often through the years, just sent me old pictures of Mark Slaughter (the reason for my expedition in Vegas back in 1994), which, along with rewatching their first home video from 1990 or 1991 makes for another wonderful throwback! 🙂

Ending with this throwback picture of a former Muse and hoping we all get to travel again in the near future, I wish you a wonderful week! 🙂

 

Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote almost 6K, but again, I was able to write only from Friday afternoon. Now I should be able to be back writing daily, since I finished reading for the workshop, yay! Back to the Star Minds Universe, although I might not wrap everything up before I leave – but you’ll have something coming out in March, don’t worry! 🙂

Since I’m done reading for the workshop, I started a non-fiction book I bought last summer in Edinburgh. I’ll need it for that story I have post-poned writing and I found out it’s actually perfect for Black History Month! Medieval Africa 1250 – 1800 is currently showing me that black slave trade was actually started by the Arabs long before Europeans managed to colonize Africa.

My wandering Norse vampire will probably go to the Mali Empire and sail with that emperor who vanished with his ships long before Columbus reached the New World. And he will definitely find his way back to this side of the world, since he even survived the apocalypse! 🙂

And I got another couple of rejections. It’s the third year in a row that I submit to those anthologies, and this time the reply included this note:

While we enjoyed reading the story, we have decided to pass on including it in the anthology where it was submitted.  Please keep in mind that we had over 1400 submissions and we accepted 22 stories total, so competition was tough.

Wow. Talk about competition! I guess that market will be tougher to crack from now on! One more waiting for results, as well as the coming up Anthology Workshop, then I better start sending out stuff again! 😉 I will try to be optimist and keed trying!

The publisher’s page is now safe! (or at least the home page is, doesn’t seem to work on the other pages) I asked my Awesome Webmaster to add the https to it. Eventually it will have a shop (not this year, not the next, but it’s in the future), so that’s always good. Especially with major retailers and publishers bailing on Amazon, so eventually I’ll do it too.

I should start working on the promised paperbacks, but will probably do when I come back and prepare the publishing schedule for the coming months. Stay tuned for more Lone Wolves and a makeover of the contemporary titles along with a new one. Then I’ll either go back to Silvery Earth or go with the new series. We’ll see.

And I would like to publicly thank Brit Marling for her awesome article about the strong female lead. There was always something that bugged me in the Hero’s Journey, and now I know what or why. That’s also why I don’t really write that kind of story, because I’m not interested in any of it.

So here’s to hope more women write stories for women that don’t have Lara Croft types of heroines! 🙂 Or, which might be fun, someone actually writes the Lady Hero’s Journey! 😉

Last couple of days for the Celebrating Male Lovers bundle… get it now! Leaving you with the usual writerly quote… have a great week!

We make something good, a blintz, a story, by having worked at blintzmaking or storywriting till we’ve learned how to do it.

With a blintz, the process is fairly routine. With stories, the process is never twice the same. Even a story written to the most prescriptive formula, like some westerns or romances, can be made poorly, or made well.

Making anything well involves a commitment to the work. And that requires courage: you have to trust yourself. It helps to remember that the goal is not to write a masterpiece or a best-seller. The goal is to be able to look at your story and say, Yes. That’s as good as I can make it.

Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! From the Eclectica bundle, please meet Harvey Stanbrough! And check out An Eclectic Dinner Party at Jackie Keswick’s! 🙂

Where do you live and write from?

I live in St. David, Arizona, about 15 miles north of Tombstone. I actually write in a separate space I call the Hovel, an adobe fixture with 3-foot thick walls. It isn’t much, but it’s mine, it’s quiet, and it gives me a sense of “going to the office.” When I go there and sit down, my creative subconscious knows it’s time to play.

Why do you write?

That’s like asking a mechanic why he fixes cars or a lawyer why he litigates cases. It’s just what I do. I write because I’m a writer. I write almost every day, and I usually turn out 2000 to 3000 words per day, though occasionally I go over 5000 words.

When did you start writing?

I wrote my first story when I was six. But I started writing short stories seriously on April 15, 2014, and I wrote the first word of my first novel on October 19 of the same year. Yet today, I have over 40 novels published as well as almost 200 short stories and all the attendant collections.

What genre(s) do you write?

My first 10-book saga was a western, but today I write mostly thrillers, action-adventure and mysteries. So SF as well.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

To put out as many novels as I can in my remaining years. To achieve it, I show up (almost) every day and write. I love telling stories. There’s literally (and I don’t mean virtually) nothing I would rather do.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Heinlein’s Rules (get a free copy at http://harveystanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Heinleins-Business-Habits-Annotated-2.pdf). And the second one is to trust your subconscious. Your subconscious has been telling stories since before you knew any alphabet even existed. So trust your subconscious and let the characters tell you their story. That’s another one. The characters are living the story, so let them tell it. My job is to run through the story with them, trying to keep up, and writing down what they say and do.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Nope. I don’t control everything. (grin) It’s all I can do to control my own life. It’s the characters’ story, so I let them tell it. I wouldn’t dream of telling my neighbors how to live their story, so why would I do that to my characters?

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

I have a short story collection in the Eclectica bundle — F, S & H — which stands for Fantasy, Science (Fantasy or Fiction) and Horror. The stories are weird and they all fall into one or more of those categories.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

Ah, my latest book as I respond to this interview is Blackwell Ops 4: Melanie Sloan. It’s currently up for pre-order at all ebook vendors and is set to release on April 15. I’m currently working on Blackwell Ops 5: Georgette Talbot. It will release on May 1.

So Blackwell Ops (crime/thriller) is my current series. I released the first one on February 15, and I’ve released another book every two weeks since (including one from another series).

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Other than to write more titles in Blackwell Ops, I have a sneaking suspicion three of my BO characters (all female) are going to take off in their own series. I expect that will happen in the next month or two.

When I have time, I keep my short story, collection, and novel covers and descriptions current on my website .

Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview. I appreciate it.

Random Friday


Hi guys,
I’m Samantha and I come from another world – the original, old Silvery Earth, where people are immortal and never grow up. When I’m not switching bodies at will, I travel to other universes, especially books or movies. That’s how I met Rajveer the vampire, for example!

So, I’m taking over the interviews on this blog! And here I am, meeting people from other books/universes/whatever! So… hello, there! Let’s start with the lady first, shall we? Tell me a little about yourself, ma’am!

Maria Inesceu Sabov. I was 43 when I died.

Oh, you’re dead. Interesting… Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

People always mention my green eyes. I’m nice enough otherwise.

Cool! What is your role in the story?

My need to be buried in Romania brought my husband, my mother, and many others back there. That’s where everything else happens.

Romania! Interesting place, I’m told, with the Carpathians and everything… What is your relationship with the protagonist?

He’s been my husband for almost twenty years.

Aw, so sweet… Where did you live?

We lived in LA, but my true home is Transylvania in many ways.

Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

Leo saved my life by helping me get sober. He made my life worth living.

I bet he did! What is the biggest challenge you face in the story? Besides getting sober, I mean…

Coming to grips with my choices.

Do you have a moral code?

Never forget crossing one line will lead you to cross others. Always.

Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I’m an intellectual property attorney, working with writers on movie and TV deals.

Thank you so much, Maria! Now let’s hear the gentleman, here! Tell me a little about yourself!

Leo Sabov. I’m 42, though lately I’ve been feeling a lot older.

Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Relentlessly average. Brown hair, light brown eyes, medium everything else.

Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how did they become an enemy?

My wife’s addiction. That part of her tried to steal her when we were in college, and never gave up until it had her.

Would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?

I would have for Maria if it would have helped her. I would have died for her, too.

Where do you live(world/town/whatever)?

Los Angeles, but I’m in Romania for a least a few weeks now. Transylvania.

Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

I am. I was. I’ve been married to Maria for almost twenty years, a widower for a couple of days.

What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?

Bringing Maria home to Transylvania to rest. Some of the traditions don’t sit well with me, but I want to keep my promises to her.

Do you have a family? Tell me about them.

My brother Brian has been all that’s kept me sane over the last few weeks. Our parents care about us, but they’re not the best at showing it.

Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

My grandparents came to the US from Slovakia, what they knew as Czechoslovakia. That’s not terribly uncommon in Cleveland where I grew up, but kind of unusual in Los Angeles.

 

 

About the author

Kari Kilgore lives and works in her native mountains of Virginia. From that solid home base, she and her husband Jason Adams and adventures all over the world to bring to life in fiction. Exploring local legends and mythologies in particular delights and inspires them.

Kari writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and she’s happiest when she scares herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with Jason, two dogs, two cats, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about.
You can keep up with upcoming fiction from both Kari and Jason, their travel adventures, and whatever else strikes their fancy at www.karikilgore.com and www.jasonadams.info.

Facebook page and don’t forget that Until Death is included in the Vampires of the World bundle currently on sale!!

Vampires of the World Weekend Part 2


My flesh ignited with the sweetness of the drink, the sweetness and the saltiness and the pure, tawny wholeness of it.  I could feel the rough ridges where my pantyhose had run as I stumbled through the hallway — when was it?  A lifetime ago?  I could feel a hangnail on my right thumb, sense it tingle before it closed itself up, before it disappeared.

And I could feel the mangled mess beneath my jaw.  My torn vein was weaving itself together, knitting itself back to health.  The flow of blood was restored beneath my skin, and the smooth stretch of my neck was new again.

With the healing came full awareness.  Full comprehension.  I knew that I was on a leather sofa.  That I was cradled against a body.  Arms were wrapped around me, holding me close, spoon fashion.  My face was pressed against one of those arms, against a smooth, muscular wrist.  My lips were suckling at the edges of a wound.

I was drinking Mr. Morton’s blood.

I pulled back, horrified.  My motion, though, only moved me closer to his chest, closer to the body that sheltered me, that protected me.  Closer to the vampire who was my boss.  “Let me go!” I demanded, but I was still too dazed to put actions to words, to actually push myself away from him.

In a moment,” he said, and his words reverberated along the length of my spine.

I should have been petrified.  I should have fought for freedom, given my life to escape to the human world, to the sane world, to the normalcy that waited somewhere outside this office.  But the energy inside me — the alien blood inside me — soothed me, calmed me as if it were a drug.  I sank back, dazed by the sensation that all was right, that I was safe.

I licked my lips, and I realized that the blood carried information.  I knew things that I’d only imagined an hour before.  A lifetime before.  I understood vampires — who they were, what they did, how they lived, year after year after year, forever, unless they were killed.

Vulnerable to silver:  check, as I’d already witnessed back in the courtroom.

Destroyed by sunlight:  check, if “destroyed” meant increasingly severe burns tied to the length of exposure, culminating in brutal, cindery death.

Killed by stake:  check, but only with a direct blow to the heart, with a weapon made of oak.

Teleporting, mind-reading, turning into a mist:  nope, nothing that cinematic.

Garlic, crosses, and other pathetic human folk remedies to protect against fangs:  forget about it.

Vampires didn’t need to sleep in coffins, and they didn’t salvage earth from some distant homeland.  They did require an explicit invitation before they could cross the threshold of a home.  And somehow, creepiest of all, they had no reflection — not in a mirror.

All of that was crystal clear inside my head.  All of that, and one more fact:  vampire blood healed humans.  Healed humans completely, from whatever physical harm we suffered, from whatever illnesses our weak, flawed bodies harbored.

Vampire blood had brought me back from the very brink of death.

Get the Bundle now!

The door jerked open and Jorick stood in the doorway, framed in a glaring blaze of light. His black hair was wild about his face. Blood splattered across his pale features and his dark eyes were filled with anger. As if to make the scene more surreal, he brandished a bloodstained sword.

Without a word, he pulled her from her attacker and threw her behind himself. The intruder lunged and Jorick lashed out at him with the blade.

Katelina’s screams had stopped, replaced by someone else’s. She looked around to find the basement bathed in the brilliant light of flames. The pile of wooden crates looked like a miniature bonfire, as did a screaming man. He danced around and tried to beat out the fire that engulfed him. Two bodies lay slumped some distance from him, face down on the basement floor. Dark puddles spread beneath them.

A new cry sounded and Katelina looked in time to see the attacker in the corridor fall. Jorick paused indecisively over his body, and then quickly turned away.

Come on!” He grabbed Katelina’s arm and tugged her after him. The wooden beams above their heads began to catch fire and the thick smoke rolled against the ceiling.

The stairs,” she cried and pointed desperately to their only escape.

No. There are more of them upstairs. This way.”

He pulled her to another padlocked door. Though he didn’t bother with his keys, he only kicked the door to shreds in one smooth motion and dashed though it. The darkness quickly swallowed them as the tunnel twisted and turned, going ever upwards. Katelina glanced over her shoulder time and again, eyes scratching the darkness for signs of pursuers, but she saw nothing.

At last Jorick stopped. He released her hand and threw open a trap door above them. Cool moonlight spilled down into the corridor and she shrank back from it.

Jorick pulled himself through the opening. He motioned for her to stay where she was, then disappeared from her sight. He was back in a moment, crouched at the edge of the opening. “It’s clear, come on.” He held his blood stained hand to her and she took it, too numb to care. He pulled her up into the night where she collapsed on the dewy grass and gasped mouthfuls of fresh air.

We must not linger; we may yet be followed.” He slammed the trapdoor shut and busied himself locking it from the outside.

Katelina sat up and nodded mutely, all of her limbs shaking. She tried desperately to catch her breath and gasped out the question, “Who… who were they?”

Jorick sighed. The moonlight made his skin gleam white and turned the blood splatters into splotches of black. “Vampires,” he said quietly. “They were Vampires. Just like Michael.”

Katelina stared at him for a moment, waiting for the punch line. When one didn’t come she threw back her head and laughed. “Of course they were!” In that moment it seemed the slender thread that separated waking from nightmares had snapped, and she suspected she’d never see a Twinkie again.

Get the Bundle now!

They cut through the untouched snow, circling the ruins of the mansion. Some distance from the back of the house was a grouping of forlorn trees. Dead, heavy moss trailed from their branches, and at their feet were clustered several old gravestones. As if to make the scene complete, a wrought iron fence bordered three sides of the tiny cemetery and thick, thorny vines grew around the stones and onto the trees; old rose bushes waiting for spring.

Man, it’s like a horror movie,” Loren mumbled. Though he shuffled along casually, his hands in his pockets, his eyes darted around nervously. “Hey, you’re sure this isn’t, like, a trap?”

No one would know of this place,” Jorick answered firmly. He came to a stop in the center of the graveyard and waited patiently.

Katelina moved to stand next to him, but a patch of softer earth sank beneath her feet and she jerked back instinctively. The snow rose in a small mound and hinted at something beneath the surface; a fresher grave, perhaps. She glanced to her left and saw a lopsided stone that had four names roughly carved into it. All but one were names she recognized: Jesslynn, Alexander, Tristan, and Bethina. Tristan? Could that have been the baby? And how had he buried them? Had he picked their bones out from the remnants of the fire and dug the hole himself?

The macabre thoughts made her shiver, and she stepped away, instinctively putting space between herself and that grave. Loren glanced at her uncertainly, uncomfortable fears in his eyes. A chill crept up her spine and she imagined a thousand terrible monsters that might be hiding somewhere. But, there were no foot prints; no sign of life at all except the heavy trees and the mournful winter wind.

Loren caught Katelina’s attention and held his hands out questioningly. She shrugged in reply and he cleared his throat to get Jorick’s attention. “Hey, man, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t think-”

Jorick held up a hand to silence him. He pointed to a distant figure that was slowly making its way towards them. Katelina squinted and thought she recognized Oren’s gait.

Sure enough, it was Oren who joined them moments later, his blonde hair windblown around his face and his hands tucked into the pockets of a long gray coat. He looked from one to the other, then settled his attention on Jorick. “You got my message, then?”

Yes, in a way.” Jorick’s face was unreadable as he studied his friend. “What was so pressing, Oren, that you must send for me? I’ve already made my position clear.”

Yes, of course.” Oren replied impatiently. “That isn’t why I asked you here. I both have something to give you and would ask something from you.”

Get the Bundle now!

He couldn’t pretend that seeing her laughing and smiling like that at that guy hadn’t cut into him. Hadn’t he been watching it all year? Hadn’t he been supportive when she’d been dating that idiot Chris?

Of course he had and that was the problem right there. He was always supportive. He was the friend and she’d never, never see him as anything else.

He was doomed.

And it was his own damned fault because he couldn’t figure out any other way to get close to girls. He didn’t have Charlie’s ability to chat them up. The only thing he knew how to do was be nice. And when he was nice all they thought of him was nice.

Doomed to be nice.

Dammit!

He kicked at some dead leaves on the ground. His pace slowed. There weren’t any leaves on the lawn. He lifted his head and actually looked around. In the gloom, he saw the suggestion of trees all around him. Somehow he’d wandered off the lawn and into the trees off the path. Great, that would be great to get lost in the trees until the sun came up. He still had class tomorrow even if it was later in the morning.

Well, he’d probably walked straight in so he would just turn around and walk straight out again. He spun and headed back. Without his head down, he felt the lower branches brush at the top of his head, messing his hair even more than usual. What did it matter? No one ever bothered to look at him twice so who cared?

Great, now he’d turned into a self pitying whiner.

Someone just shoot him.

He caught a suggestion of movement out of the corner of his eye to the right. Before he could turn, something slammed into him. He stumbled, his legs buckled with the force of it. He landed on his side, his arm pinned under his body. He tried to push up on the ground, his hand sinking into wet, squishy vegetation, but something dark fell over him. He smelled a sour stench. Something grabbed his head and yanked it to the side. A soft wetness licked along his neck then sharp pain pierced his skin. His body jerked and flailed. Something encased him in a vice grip, preventing him from moving. Soon he didn’t want to. Ice seemed to flow into his body from his neck, paralyzing his muscles. Was this what snakes did, he wondered but there couldn’t be any snakes here, not one this big. He tried one last time to kick his feet, thought he might feel a running shoe slip off and go spinning into the darkness. Then the pain didn’t matter any more, in fact it wasn’t pain at all, it was euphoria spreading through his limbs, leaving him weak and jelly-like and the vice grip was a warm blanket, wrapped around him by his mother. He could almost feel her kiss on his neck.

But her teeth… Oh her teeth were too sharp…

Get the Bundle now!

Vampires of the World Weekend Part 1


Fever devoured him – or maybe it was just a fast. weak pulse and heavy breathing. He felt shaky and unable to move, drained of strength and blood.

He realized at some point that he was in his bed, sweating. He opened his eyes on the night and saw Bran’s silhouette standing by the bed. The sorcerer’s presence had brought Rajveer back to his senses.

He moaned, his chest heaving in pain.

“Good evening, Rajveer.” Bran’s voice seemed to reach inside his head. “Would you like me to finish you?”

“No…” He was too weak to fight, but he couldn’t die in his bed, taken away by a mysterious sickness. He was meant to die on the battlefield. Not like this – helpless, defeated, in pain.

He saw Bran’s fanged smile come closer to his face.

“So you want to live?” A whisper.

“Yes…” He nodded, breathless. Not this agony, gods, please. He closed his eyes, exhausted.

Bran grabbed the nape of his neck and pulled up his head. Rajveer felt something pressed to his lips, and coppery liquid dripped into his mouth. And then he grabbed Bran’s wrist with both hands, biting, sucking as if his life depended on it, the warm blood sliding down his throat. He could feel both his heart and Bran’s thundering in his head.

Then Bran pushed him away and let him fall back on the bed. Rajveer held his breath, feeling a change through his veins. His blood had been replaced by something else. His eyes opened on the darkened bedroom and he saw the canopy in all its embroidered detail as if it were day. The air in his lungs was cool and his body shivered. He lost control of his limbs and his bowels as a low moan came out of his mouth.

“Don’t worry, only your body is dying.” Bran’s voice was eerily gentle.

A final jolt made his back arch, and he lay still as his breathing slowed. He could still feel his heart beating. Bran’s hand on his forehead wasn’t so cold anymore. He exhaled in relief.

“Welcome to darkness,” Bran said, leaning to kiss his sweaty forehead.

Rajveer closed his eyes, then opened them again. He could hear everything. Every night animal moving in the garden, the owls and mice and a honey badger. The whisper of two guards meeting on watch duty to give each other the “all clear” on the battlements. The soft snores of sleeping servants in the apartment.

And the smells. Of plants and flowers and water ponds, but mostly of warm-blooded creatures. Including humans. Humans smelled different. Their blood sent intoxicating fumes. Luckily there were none in the room to tempt him.

He looked at Bran, who seemed less pale now. He sat and glanced around the room as if the sun were up.

Bran grinned. “Are you still hungry?”

Rajveer touched his lips, unsure. “Sort of…” he admitted. He glanced at Bran’s wrist, but didn’t see any traces of blood or wounds. He licked his lips, but they were clean. Bran’s blood was coursing through him, making him feel invincible. He wanted more.

Get the Bundle now!

Kaylyn awoke with a gasp, and her throat was filled with heat and smoke. She’d been dreaming of falling into the pits of hell, and she opened her eyes to a raging fire devouring the wooden partition of her chamber.

She heard Baldwin’s roar, but her husband wasn’t by her side anymore. Panting, she frantically looked for a way out. Why was the manor on fire? Why wasn’t anyone trying to extinguish it?

Screams and curses came from beyond the flames. The wood crackled and then suddenly gave in. Soon everything would come crumbling down and Kaylyn couldn’t gather her wits.

It was daytime. She was supposed to be asleep, away from the sun’s rays. What if she left the burning room from the window and was incinerated by the sun? The chamber was so filled with smoke that she couldn’t see the weather outside.

Fire was attacking the wooden floor as well as the beamed ceiling. Only the external walls were made of stone. Eyes wide, Kaylyn didn’t know what to do. But then, if Baldwin had left the bedroom, there was probably no danger in going out.

Maybe outside it was another cloudy English day. The heat was getting worse, and Kaylyn decided to move. She got off the double bed and made her way along the walls towards the stone staircase to the lower floor on the other side of the rectangular room.

She was about to reach the closest window, her back against the wall as if she were walking on a narrow ledge, when the floor under the bed gave way, and the canopy crashed downstairs into what had been the main hall of the castle.

Kaylyn froze, staring at the chasm that had opened a few paces from her feet. Soon the whole floor would collapse and she’d fall into the furnace of the lower floor. Her “life eternal” would come to a blunt end in a literal hellfire after only ten years.

She was beginning to think the fire wasn’t an accident. Holding her breath, she started moving again towards the small windows. It wouldn’t be easy to get out that way, but she was thin, and hopefully could get through.

Someone broke the central column of the closest window, widening the opening, and a blurry figure landed in the smoky room that still had half of its floor, since no furniture weighed on it.

“Baldwin?” Kaylyn called with a shaky voice. Only her husband would be capable of jumping so high to break the window. He had come to save her!

But from the smoke emerged the tall figure of Bran, the Celtic druid who had been both hers and Baldwin’s maker. His long platinum-blond hair looked red by firelight.

“Let’s go, Kaylyn.” He threw a blanket over her face and upper body and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Kaylyn screamed, but didn’t fight. She felt the jump, and then she was shaken by Bran’s run. She wasn’t afraid of the darkness anymore, but the smell of blood that reached her nostrils as soon as the smoke cleared made her lick her fangs.

Get the Bundle now!

Part One: Arizona & New Mexico

Chapter 1

As Jonah Ivory sat between his parents’ caskets in the parlor of the funeral home in Tucson, he finished his eighth beer of the evening. His goal was to drink a whole case.

Eight down, sixteen to go.

Crumpling the eighth empty can in his fist, he tipped his chair back and chucked the can behind the caskets with the other seven. Before he could tip forward and reach for number nine, however, his chair rocked off balance, and he fell back and down to the floor.

Perfect.

After the impact, Jonah lay there for a long moment, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes burned as the tears he’d been holding back tried to force their way out.

But he wouldn’t let them.

I’m too young for this. Too young to lose them.

In fact, Jonah was seventeen years old…not that he looked it. He was skinny, with a boyish face, and he wasn’t exactly wearing responsible grown-up clothes for a viewing: a black Jethro Tull concert t-shirt, ratty faded blue jeans, and sneakers.

But then there was his shoulder-length hair, which was prematurely white. It had been scared that way five years ago.

That was when he’d lost his two brothers, who had been abducted right in front of him. He’d been thirteen years old when it had happened…so maybe he wasn’t too young at seventeen to lose his mother and father, after all.

First the twins, now my parents. I ought to be getting used to this by now. So why do I miss them so much?

It was a mystery to him.

Jonah hadn’t been close to his mother and father for ages. Though they’d been living in the same house in Tucson, seeing each other every day, they might as well have been living in separate towns for the past five years. The loss of the twins had driven them apart.

But in the few days since the car accident that had killed his mother and father, Jonah had been feeling completely and irretrievably lost. All he could think to do was drink himself into a stupor and stumble through the motions of the prearranged viewing and the preparations for the funeral.

Why does it matter? We were practically strangers.

The biggest question of all, though, the one that loomed up in the gaps between lazy drunken sparks and ripples, was this:

Now what?

Jonah rolled off the upended chair and got to his feet. He pulled his ninth beer out of the red and white cooler that occupied two chairs in the front row of seating.

As he snapped open the tab on the can, he looked around the empty room.

At least I don’t have to deal with anybody.

Jonah and his parents were alone. Other than the undertaker, who had strolled through a few times, not one soul had shown up for the viewing.

Nice turnout.

After a long drink of beer, Jonah righted the chair he’d knocked over and sat back down on it. He glanced over at the closed caskets beside him, then quickly looked away as the reality smacked him in the head again.

I hate this.

Just as he lifted the beer for another drink, a young, black-haired woman walked into the room.

She was beautiful. As soon as Jonah caught sight of her, he lowered the beer from his lips. Her body was slender and shapely under her waist-length red leather jacket and short black dress. Knee-high red leather boots accentuated the curves of her long, lean legs.

As she approached, Jonah saw that her features were even prettier than they had looked from a distance. She had a long face and angular nose that gave her an exotic look—Italian, maybe, or Greek or Arab. She must have been wearing contact lenses behind her black horned-rim glasses, because her eyes were two different colors: one hazel, the other amber flecked with red.

Simply put, she was a knockout.

As bad a day as Jonah was having, he still automatically assessed his chances with her before she’d even said a word. He knew it in a heartbeat: she wasn’t just out of his league, she was out of his universe.

Even if he hadn’t been having the second shittiest day of his life, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to make a play for her. That was why he didn’t bother to get up when the woman approached him. He just stared out from behind his long, white bangs and burped softly.

“Hello, Mr. Ivory.” She stopped a few feet away and didn’t offer to shake his hand. She had a slight accent—Italian, maybe? “My name is Stanza Miracolo.”

“Don’t mind me.” Jonah waved at the two closed caskets. “Go ahead and view all you like.”

“Not here for that, thanks.” Stanza slid two fingers into a vest pocket of her red leather jacket. “Here for you,” she said, tugging out a business card and offering it to him.

When Jonah didn’t take the card, she flipped it at him. The card landed face-up on his stomach, and he stared down at it.

Stanza Miracolo, it said. Bloodlines Genealogy & Beyond.

Jonah brushed the card from his black Jethro Tull t-shirt. “You picked the wrong day to try to sell me something, lady,” he said, and then he polished off his beer.

“Already paid for,” said Stanza. “I’m your inheritance.”

Get the Bundle now!

Now

The villagers never paid attention to the dogs anymore.

The constant barking and scrabbling was background noise after years of so many strays learning to survive past their pampered origins. The rich, forested mountains in Transylvania were kinder than the crowded streets of Bucharest, under Communism or decades later. Creatures meant to warm laps and comfort hands have no easy transition to wandering, endlessly searching for shelter.

Some whisper of instinct surely must remain, even with every appearance of wild ancestors bred out of them decades before.

Leo Sabov wondered at that every time he was in Romania, how such a huge population could go unnoticed in the city or in the country. People could get so worked up over stray animals in the US, yet somehow the nomadic animals here seemed healthier and more content with less attention.

He sipped strong coffee on his third floor balcony, watching the first rays of sunlight trace orange fire on the sharp granite cliffs above the tree line across from him. His bare feet were pleasantly chilled by the tile, his mind soothed by his first good night of sleep in many weeks. Staying up too late and drinking too much with his little brother usually had the opposite effect.

A young girl walked through the chicken coop below, gathering eggs for the guests of the inn he’d been returning to with his wife for over twenty years. The milling birds stirred up a scent of rich earth strong enough to overcome even the coffee. The girl sang to herself, a sweet song at odds with the quarreling chickens and agitated dogs. Maria would have known the words to the song, would have whispered them into Leo’s ear.

He rubbed his eyes, struck by a different sound in one of the dog’s voices. His mind seized on the escape from memory. An old female with the dangling teats of many pregnancies stood in the neat yard beside the inn. She stared at something Leo couldn’t see behind the rough-hewn logs of the outdoor kitchen. Her black and tan coat was healthy, and she was normally friendly, one of the sweetest in the village. This morning, though, her voice had a harsh, desperate edge.

Dogs began to gather around her, from neighboring houses and inns, from their rough shelters on the hillsides. Some looked around, searching for what was bothering her so, then resumed their normal morning discussions and investigations. The others, many of them clearly her offspring with that same rangy body and distinctive coloring, watched her silently at first. Then their voices began to take on that same worried note.

The old mother dog took a few stiff-legged steps forward, more than a dozen of her young following. Her sharp, fast barks were interrupted by low growls. Even from three floors up, Leo could see her long hair rise into hackles from her neck to the base of her tail. She walked forward again, her group in near lockstep beside her.

Get the Bundle now!

Random Friday


I’m afraid this month Fridays will be for bundles only… I should probably rename it Bundle Friday, at least for now! 😉

Anyhow, here’s the latest bundle curated by Russ Crossley. I’m still amazed to be in such wonderful company. Go check the Dragon Tales bundle! You may have read Talwar&Khanda, but you’d miss all the other wonderful dragon tales! 🙂

And next week… Sword Wielders! It includes my Writers of the Future Honorable Mention novella The Hooded Man and 10 other sword wielders! Again in very good company here… And don’t forget that Vampires of the World goes live as well next Friday…

And there will be a sale too, actually two, but I shall announce them next week. This is the month of bundles galore… grab them now! 🙂 What do you mean you don’t have a BundleRabbit account yet? Go sign up right now and don’t miss on the currently over 50 (fifty!) bundles in different genres for your reading pleasure!

And if you’re an indie author, join the fun and upload your books… Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


I am done with one of the southern kingdoms stories and hope to wrap the second by the weekend. Then I need to write another story by the end of the month so that I can send everything to the proofreader in November, when I’ll move to redrafting an old story and writing two more shorter works to submit to anthologies.Rithvik and Kerrien were interviewed at Library of Erana. I love those two still, almost two years after I published their adventures. I have to slap my hands so that I won’t write a sequel to that story, already enough projects lined up! 😀 Anyway, you can find them in the Mythic Tales bundle that comes out Nov.1st! 🙂

Writerly links: Myths about writing you need to stop believing. And I was on KWL blog again, in case you missed it. Kind of ties with the myths of the previous link, so don’t take it for law! 🙂

Some good advice and tips for Indie Authors. And how often they should publish – I’m definitely slowing down but I have other projects coming up.

More unconventional writing advice and #3 goes well with my guest post at Sue Vincent’s. #7 is also very important. You need to find your process and don’t panic if it changes through the years. Mine certainly did! 😉

And finally, if you want to win NaNoWriMo, here’s an excellent post on what you can find in the NaNoWriMo bundle this year. Like I said, I shall pass because I still have old bundles to go through. Have a great week! 😀

Sunday Surprise


Vampires of the World bundle8 novels box setcoming soon and already available for pre-order at Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble and Kobo!

Random Friday


LAST WEEK OFFER – BUY IT NOW BEFORE IT’S GONE!

Summer Sale only until Aug.30 – 2014, only at these retailers: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple and Kobo.

BoI BoxSetFive novels at the very discounted price of 2,99$ only for Kindle, Nook, i-Pad and Kobo e-reader! Only until Aug.30.

Welcome to Silvery Earth. Winged beings, water people, shape-shifting dragons and Immortals mingle with Humans as they try to find their place in the world and someone to love.

The five books of the Immortals in one box set for a limited time only. Five centuries of history of Silvery Earth, from the southern kingdoms inspired by India and Persia to the new kingdoms after the fall of the Varian Empire.

BoI box setBooks of the Immortals – Air

Winged Jesminder, a Sila, searches for her Destiny (aka love) as her Human friend, Sarita the sculptor, does the same. Meanwhile Takeshi the soldier flees his country for a murder he doesn’t remember committing. As Takeshi looks for his past, Kumar the adventurer runs away from his –from and his wife, Princess Indira, who he rescued from an evil fate only for money. Their paths converge, leading them to the final confrontation with the Black Dame, High Priestess of the Sect. Winged beings, water people, shape-shifting dragons and the Immortal, Air, which likes to meddle in Human affairs for its own reasons, come together in a story of bitterness and love, darkness and light.

Books of the Immortals – Fire

A half-blood warrior fails to prevent an ambush. Hit by an enemy spell, he sleeps for a century. He wakes up in a future where he doesn’t belong.
He made a mistake. Now he must find a way to undo history to fix it.

Books of the Immortals – Water

Kiss a goddess. Become invulnerable to everything.
Love.
Feelings.
Even death.
Can you ever feel human again?

Books of the Immortals – Ether

Healer. Magic user. Victim. A natural non-human magic user against a minion of a Pond of Dark Magic.
The struggle for power between Humans and Genn is only at the beginning.

Books of the Immortals – Earth

500 years later – has the magic all vanished?
In the last Book of the Immortals the Magical Races are gone. Can Humans deal with the loss?
An actress turned journalist. The legitimized bastard son of a nobleman. A mercenary turned police woman. A runaway prince turned courtesan. Outsiders and witnesses of a hot summer of mysterious royal murders.
Silvery Earth faces its future without magic.

Bundle at the very discounted price of 2,99$ only for Kindle, Nook, i-Pad and Kobo e-reader! Only until Aug.30. The above links are to the US stores, if the retailer has a store in your country, please follow the link anyway and change the country accordingly.

%d bloggers like this: