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 His blood had been replaced by something else.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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Writer Wednesday


Wrapping up Shashank’s story, I finally finished reading all that non-fiction. It was wonderful and entertaining and idea-generating, but now I look forward to going back to novels! 😉 I disagree on some historical facts with some of those authors, but others gave me insight I wasn’t expecting.

I even re-watched Bajirao Mastani, since the Maratha Peshwa appears briefly in the novel – it reminded me to look up those fearsome whip-swords Ranveer Singh is handling in the movie! Shashank is the son of a weapon seller and he’s always interested in weapons, even those dreaded firearms the author hates.

I sent off the novel and maybe will write a short story to go with it. Unless it turns out to be a novella or something bigger, in that case I’ll postpone to September, since it’s definitely NOT a novel and it wouldn’t be long enough for the challenge. I have until Friday to figure it out, during the weekend I want to prep for the August novel.

Next week I’ll be deep in my sci-fi novel and ready for Worldcon! I’ll repeat all this, but if you happen to be in Helsinki, here’s my panel schedule.

As you can see, I’ll be in good company! 🙂 And hopefully I’ll be able to sightsee a little too, since I’ve never been to Finland.

Some writerly links – Mastering Amazon Ads. I will have to do a few more experiments, but so far the ads I ran brought 0 sales. And tips to promote your book @OurAuthorGang.

Want to support an author’s or illustrator’s new book but can’t afford to buy it? Here’s what you can do. And if you do buy it, please leave a review.

And a long podcast on Joanna Penn’s blog – I read the transcript, but if you like podcasts, go listen to how to write fast, publish slowly and focus on your author marketing with Rachel Aaron. Lot of good advice, I’m keeping the transcript for later use! 😉

All of these excellent marketing and branding tools will have to be put to use after the summer, when the novel challenge is done. But I do intend to focus more on marketing (no more than a weekend per month!) and try some stuff. I’ll have to make sure I target the right people, since here’s what happens when reader targeting goes wrong.

Maybe the historical novelist indeed had a game of thrones in his story. And there’s no copyright on titles, so he was free to use the sentence. But yeah, they probably attracted the wrong crowd.

So for the last quarter I’ll focus on other marketing and branding experiments, and maybe even my Patreon page might become project-driven instead of monthly as it is now. While I focus on each of my series for the above, I’ll try to make up my mind and figure out what I want and how to achieve that slow growth I’m aiming at! 🙂

Have a great weekend! 😀

Writer Wednesday


And I’m in another, upcoming bundle! 🙂 Please like the page and wait for it! And a reminder that this (below) bundle is currently available only on DriveThruFiction and it’s a limited time offer, it will be gone after the summer! If you haven’t read the Assassins’ Guild stories, you can grab them in your favorite format here! 🙂

If you want to subscribe to my bimonthly newsletter (the next comes out in September), please do so and don’t ask me to add you manually – I wouldn’t know how to send you the welcome email with the free story… Or you can support me on Patreon, where I regularly post both for writers and readers! 🙂

And hello to the new followers, thank you for deciding to follow this very blog for whatever reason. Not going to ask anymore! 😉 Now, to the writerly news.

Novel #2 is well underway and I hope to have that first draft ready for “meating up” next weekend. I’m kind of jumping back and forward on this one because it has a predetermined outline, but I’ll still need to read it all in one sitting or two to see if it flows. Reaching the 20th century is easier and harder at the same time.

I mean, I can describe Jaipur or Delhi like I saw them last year (even though the characters are in Jaipur in the first half of last century), but at the same time… I don’t know. I guess I should do more travelogues, it would definitely help when I write! 😉 That darn setting still tends to escape me.

I’m still unsure about a secondary character and I’ll make up my mind when I reach the end and then cycle back  to add some meat. I don’t know why the first draft is always very sparse… maybe I need to think about it more before I cand add stuff?

Or maybe it’s just that my brain is fried during the summer? I hate it when cicadas sing all day, it means it’s too darn hot for my tastes and I should move to Iceland! 😦 Glad I found a nice desk fan for the writing times… 🙂

I’ll start the writerly links with this post by Tracy Cooper-Posey – why should historical characters sound like they’re speaking funny in historical novels? Since I’m currently writing historical fantasy, I think it’s perfect timing. I’ve had some betas pointing out some too modern terms in my fantasy too, but I tend to write plain English (with American Spelling – like Tracy, I grew up with British spelling) for the very reason she states.

I mean, I understand I better avoid 21st century slang, and I did use the “thou” and “art thee” once in a fan fiction, but it was precisely because the character had been locked up and sounded funny to modern English speakers (I sort of mention it in Kaylyn’s novel – Kris tells her that she has a “Shakespearian English” since that’s more or less the time she stopped speaking English).

And as a reader I hate even accents, so I say NO to that kind of gimmick. I hate it as much as purple prose and jolts me out of the story immediately! You want to keep Reader Me happy? Write in plain English. Your translator in some other language will thank you, trust me! 😉

And since the heat makes me sleepy, I can’t really read more (reading also makes me sleepy…) so I’ll probably have to pass a couple of interesting bundles because I have already too many books to read. I’m even supposed to vote for the Hugos, except I have read none of the nominees! 😦

Oh, and if you want to be on A Small Gang of Authors, here’s their joining page – you can either be guest, like I was, or join them (if you have a Blogger account)! And Bundle Rabbit has added the collaboration tab, so if you’re trying to set up an anthology, you can use that feature!

Just in case you’re new, Bundle Rabbit allows indie authors to set up their own bundles (and cross-pollinate their readers with other authors) and readers to discover new authors by buying a favorite name along with a few more. I currently have two curated bundles (means that I put them together) – one of fantasy novels and one of science fiction (space opera or humorous sci-fi) – and my books have been chosen for two more that I will announce as soon as they go live.

My next curated bundle will have vampires, so if you have a novel-length vampire story, join Bundle Rabbit and upload it, so I can find it in September when I start putting together the next one! 🙂

Check also the Book Spoltight on Library of Erana (supposedly just one, but there’s actually two, LOL!), with even very short excerpts to give you a taste. Have a great week!

 

Random Friday


Last November an excerpt was posted on Unusual Historicals. It was the start of a chapter of Kaylyn that promised an interview and a giveaway. Neither ever went live, so… here you have the interview that wasn’t posted on Unusual Historicals. And yes, the giveaway is still valid too… Leave a comment before Sunday 8 January 2017! 🙂

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in the boot-shaped country dripping into the Mediterranean sea, but having lived abroad at a young age, I currently feel international, a woman with no country that sometimes is quite sick of the whole crazy planet. I love history, especially the Middle Ages (11th to 13th century), and making up stuff, although I learned the value of research even for the craziest idea – be it fantasy or science fiction. I write mostly SFF these days, having exhausted any will to talk about current events and today’s people.

What is your story about? How did you come up with the idea?

I have this new series of Vampires Through the Centuries that I started last year with Rajveer the Vampire. I’m publishing one novel a year plus shorter related stories, thus I have four titles by now.

The very first idea came noticing how a few actors had pointed canines and my obsession with Bollywood took me to think about a Desi vampire. Combining researches on vampire lore and history, I came up with the series.

This year I even traveled to India to gather more material and now I have a pile of non-fiction books to study for the next installments!

What prompted you to write this one?

Kaylyn is Rajveer’s sister-in-darkness, meaning they have the same maker, Bran the Raven. She was seen through Rajveer’s eyes in the first novel and I looked forward to telling her story. Some events overlap, but her book expands on the mythology of European vampires, while in Rajveer it was mostly him against the slightly different Asian vampires.

Next book will see Rajveer’s fledgling, Shashank, and cover the five centuries neither could actually see for different reasons… no spoilers, though!

How much research was involved?

For Kaylyn only for the non-European parts. She travels quite a lot and even if I had studied 12th century Europe and the crusades for a shelved historical novel, I had to research the other centuries and countries, reading about Marco Polo’s travels, the Black Death, the first European explorers to cross the Atlantic… and I’ve only touched the surface!

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

Traveling through the centuries is fun and I look forward to doing it more in the next books. The final vampires war will be in the present, but there’s still a lot of history to explore and write about before I reach the 21st century setting!

What other books have you written?

Three more Vampires Through the Centuries (with more to come next year), a science fantasy series called Star Minds and then there’s my fantasy world of Silvery Earth… lots of titles, but also lots of collections and mostly standalone! Full list here.

I shall use this space for a huge promo – over 100 books at 99cents – for a weekend that includes Rajveer the Vampire. After the release of Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness, the first novel of the series will be on sale for a few days. On Monday Nov.7 both titles will go up at 6.99$…

Go get this book now and choose among the many more available at Patty Jensen’s promo! (note: there’s no book from yours truly in the promo at this time, but check them anyway)

And I will give either a coupon for a free download of your preferred format from Smashwords or your preferred ebook format of Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness to one lucky winner… The giveaway is international.

 

Hastings 1066 Fortnight


And now the only gentleman of the lot! From the depths of England once again, please welcome L.J. Hick!

tmas1stcoverWhere do you live and write from?

I live in Warwickshire in England and I write only when I am at home.

Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I have loved reading books ever since I can remember and I always wanted to write regularly, whether that comprised of a novel, short story, review or blog. Writing allows me to express myself through my stories.

When did you start writing?

I started writing back in school. Strangely, it dropped off a little when I was studying A level English. That might be because my writing time was filled up with assignments and projects from a slightly overzealous English teacher. I did not start to write an actual complete novel until 2012 when I suddenly had more time to do so.

What genre(s) do you write?

It would be easy to say science fiction and leave it at that. The truth is that I write across various genres. Sci-fi, horror, humour and mystery would probably cover most of my writing, but I like to think that I cover a much broader range than that. Some people stick with one particular genre and that is probably a wise thing to do. When people mention horror, I always think of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Fans of one genre will almost certainly look for writers specializing in that area. Despite the advantages of specialization, I find myself moving from one genre to another. For instance, Last Days began as a purely fictional reworking of history and then developed into a science fiction fantasy with comedic tones. Atom, on the other hand, is a mystery/ horror novel.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I feel that my strength as a writer is my sense of humour and understanding of history. I think that the more you write, the more you learn. I have a very good editor in Nigel Dean, who takes great delight in ripping some parts of my books to shreds and praising other parts. I think that is what you need as a writer. Someone to give an honest appraisal of your work. I also like to think I have an eye for detail, which helps when developing a plot across a series.

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

My goal is to make just enough money to spend my days writing on a laptop on a beach in the south of England. I would really like to see one of my books on the television or at the cinema as well. I have read and digested all the material about marketing I can find, and hopefully, this will help. I also try to make every book better than the last one and different to all the other works out there. I believe that the best way of improving your craft is to practice it continually and listen to the advice of people you respect.

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

Read your text aloud to yourself. The biggest single thing I had a problem with was editing and continuity. When you read your own work, you are somehow blind to all the silly errors and omissions you make. Read it aloud to yourself and you will pick these things up. You might feel a little strange at first, but you soon get used to it, despite the strange looks from the wife.

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

It is about a young man called Thomas who is befriended by an older man called Kauko as they march with Harold’s army. Kauko is intent on protecting Thomas above all else and Thomas has no idea why. The story is linked to the appearance of Halley’s comet that year. At the time people would have attached great significance to the appearance of a comet, as indeed they do today. The idea that human life is mapped out and predetermined by fate or greater beings is alien to me, and so I use the story to advocate the freedom that belongs to us all.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

The third book in the series of The Last Days of Planet Earth, The Children of Raphael is finished. This is more complex that the previous two, so the editing is particularly painful. I hope to have it released in time for Christmas. I am also working on a dark romance novel called Fugue, which I am about halfway through writing.

____________________________

Author links

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

WEBSITE

AVAILABLE AT SMASHWORDS  

Hastings 1066 Fortnight


And since I’m away but the anniversary of the battle is in two days and I have three other authors who wrote stories about that, I’m going to paste us all over the blog for the next two weeks… I’m going first, answering the same questions I’ve sent them. My story goes live on October 14, like the others, I assume! 🙂

Where do you live and write from?

A third world country starting with I, ending with A in our language… five letters… no, it’s not the place where I’m currently traveling (India) and it’s actually part of Europe, although I’m still wondering why…

Why do you write?

Because it’s fun, because it entertains me and because I’m addicted to it. What can I say… I love Mr. Writing! 🙂

When did you start writing?

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Yeah, more or less when the first, very first, one and only Star Wars came out in cinemas. A century ago. Yeah, I’m that old.

What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly SFF. I have currently exhausted all my contemporary ideas. And I’ve started a series of historical fantasy that will keep me busy for a few years! 😉

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I would have said dialog, even though I don’t use dialects and weird spellings. I don’t know, I’m still working on my craft at 51, and I’m bad at teaching…

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

I would love to find my 1000 True Fans. I would love to live of my writing. I was hoping to make it in five years, but careers take time. So, aiming for 10 and we’ll see where I’m at in 2012! 🙂

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

Follow Heinlein’s Rules. Put the stuff out there and don’t look back. Keep moving forward, there is no way back. Not even if you write time travel stories! 😉

What is your story around the Battle of Hastings about? How did you come up with the idea?

Blurb: Nineteen-year-old Robert Malet followed William the Bastard to England to claim the English throne. The battle near the small town of Hastings is the beginning of the Norman conquest of England, but also of Robert’s second life.
A vampire in 12th century Europe traveling, fighting and meeting his siblings in darkness, changing names through the years when his mortal life is gone.
Follow Robert Malet, Brother Geoffrey, Robert Capuchon and Mercadier through the years. History and fantasy based on medieval chronicles for a Vampires Through the Centuries novella.

I have this new series of Vampires Through the Centuries and I thought it would be cool having one being turned at the battle. I ended up using two historical names of which we don’t know that much – 12th century chronicles are a little sketchy, but fun. Some things that might look like fiction (like raining blood) were actually taken from there (although the explanation is totally mine). As for the battle itself, I used one of the campaign books from Osprey Publishing and a comic book version from the 1970s, the history of France in comic book form.

The cover is, as usual, by the awesome Shafali Anand who did her best, and obviously succeeded, to render the ridiculous Norman haircut! 😉

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m back on Silvery Earth, writing more Quests… which should take me until the end of the year. Unless I come back from India with even more ideas and itch to write another vampires through the centuries story. I know I’ll have to try to see everything through her eyes…

Pre-order Norman Blood on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Sunday Surprise


I’m currently translating into Italian some of the character interviews or articles I’ve written on Star Minds when I published the English version and sending them to an Italian blogger as well as publishing them on my Italian blog. I’ve also published Yash & Ryo in Italian and it’s selling a lot more than its English counterpart, in spite of my total lack of marketing.

Why am I mentioning this? Author voice part 2 or 3 or whatnot. I sent a printed copy of Yash & Ryo to my Italian beta-reader (the Angela I dedicated Technological Angel to), and she said that my voice has changed. The story I sent her is the translation of a work originally written in English, and that may account for the change of style and voice she perceived.

In case you missed it, here’s the characters interview. What I wanted to explore in this story was male rape without putting it on the page like I did for Smeraldo and Kyrio. I also want to write more ACE-friendly stories from now on and not only because I hope to be picked up by Goodreads Ace Book Club. So you won’t get many more Adults Only buttons on the publisher’s site! 😉

I know I wanted to talk more about all this, but I’m tired, and ideas keep running away from me to leave room for more of Kaylyn‘s plotting. I’m not done yet, I hope to finish Chapter 11 tonight. Four more to go. If I manage one a day, I should be done by Friday, since Wednesday is Dear Nephew Day. So next weekend (longer than usual, since April 25 is national holiday in Italy) I hope to go through it and polish that first and probably only draft!

Have a great Sunday! 🙂

Sunday Surprise


Quick update on Kaylyn… 26K in, more than halfway, BUT I had to skip a chapter. I need to check the Travels of Marco Polo for some details, since the one chronicle in readable language isn’t enough. Enough Olde English and medieval Latin for now! 😀

Tomorrow I will have to go back and write the visit of China, at the court of Kublai Khan, then I can resume the story after Chittor and the meeting with Rajveer, which I have completed with a couple of deleted scenes from the very first version.

Onward now to the rest of the story! The mythology of my vampires is considerably expanding from Rajveer’s book, haha! Hope I don’t lose track of everyone! 😀

Sunday Surprise


Rajveer the Vampire

 A “sun clan” warrior can never become a true child of darkness.

Turned into a bloodsucker by an ancient Celtic vampire, Rajveer, a proud Rajput warrior of a Suryavanshi clan in 14th century India, becomes almost invulnerable.

Immortal, he loses his family to war and time and travels through northern India, seeing history unfold. Threatened by both human wars and evil vampires, can he remain true to his sworn vow not to take human lives?

A vampire’s journey through centuries.

In this new novel, Barbara G.Tarn combines her love for history (especially medieval) and fantasy. It’s the story of a vampire through the centuries that will appeal to both historical fiction readers and vampire lovers all over the world.

Rajveer the Vampire by Barbara G.Tarn is now available for on Amazon US,  Apple US, Barnes&NobleKobo US and Smashwords for 4,99$.

Print version coming soon.

***

excerpts that were posted during Amaranthine week on Facebook

from Chapter Two

Desi vampire family col_resize“Rajveer! Charumati tells us you’re sick!”

Akshita and Enakshi surrounded Rajveer’s bed at sunset. He woke from his deep, dreamless sleep and found them climbing on the mattress with Charumati who wore a worried frown on her beautiful face. His first wife – a kshatriya like him – had told the other two he’d been sleeping all day, obviously. He didn’t feel feverish anymore and his new sense of smell told him Akshita was also menstruating.

“I’m fine,” he answered as Enakshi nestled against him.

She still had traces of the vermilion he’d put over her black hair when he’d married her. A vaishya – her father owned a small farm outside the walls – she was the latest acquisition. The wedding ceremony had ended a week earlier and they had barely consummated once.

“I just have to change my habits a little for the time being. I’ll do night duties from now on and sleep during the day.”

“Should I have some food brought in?” Charumati asked, still frowning.

“I’m not hungry, beloved, don’t worry. I’ll eat something before going on watch.” He couldn’t tell them he longed to drink their blood.

“You are so cold,” Enakshi whispered, shivering against him. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yes, little one, I’m fine,” he assured, squeezing her. “I had a bad fever, I’ll need a few days to recover.”

“I think we should do another pilgrimage,” Akshita said, fidgeting with her gown. She had long black lashes that made her look very seductive when she wanted to – and she knew it. Daughter of a rich merchant that had often dealt with Rajveer’s father, she’d known him since childhood, therefore she’d been the obvious second choice after five years of fruitless marriage with Charumati. “Or you should spend more time with us.”

“Oh, please, I’ve been longing for you since the chaturthi-karma!” Enakshi added, staring at him with her doe eyes. The rite performed on the fourth day of marriage had seen him take her virginity, but he hadn’t gone back to her bed since. He was pleased to hear she had enjoyed it so much that she wanted more.

“What do you say, Charumati? Should I spend more time with them?” Rajveer turned to his first wife. “Charumati?”

The young woman stared at him in both fear and wonder. She had glimpsed his fangs and was now filled with doubts. Rajveer was startled to discover he could read her mind – not clearly, but he could tell what she was feeling. He understood now how the much more powerful Bran had read him like a book.

At the sound of her name, she snapped out of her musings and smiled briefly, but not with her beautiful black eyes.

“Sure, Enakshi should have her chance, like Akshita and me,” she said quickly, averting her eyes.

The other wives stayed for a little longer, and then Charumati shooed them out of his bedroom. She carefully closed the door and slowly came back to the bed, staring warily at Rajveer. He opened his arms to welcome her, but she sat at the edge of the bed and kept her distance.

“Charumati…”

“I don’t know what happened to you, but the fever changed you,” she said.

“You are most perceptive, beloved. Yes, some change occurred, and I cannot explain it. But whatever it was, it will not change my love for you. I would never ever hurt you or the other two and will keep fighting for us – our home, our freedom. Like I said, I fear my habits will have to change slightly, since the sunlight seems to drain me of my strength.”

“What have you become?”

He moved to take her in his arms and felt her stiffen against him. “I’m still a mighty warrior, and you’re still my one and only love,” he said before kissing her.

“Your skin is so cold,” she whispered, caressing his clean-shaven cheek but nestling against him. “Rajveer, what have you done?”

“I didn’t want to die in my bed,” he answered, laying her down.

He covered her with kisses that made her moan, but she kept him at arm’s length. He could feel her menstrual cramps and the blood running in her veins, but he resisted the impulse of biting her. He simply cuddled her until she fell asleep in his arms.

***

excerpt from Chapter 3

(the king of Mewar has been held captive by the Sultan of Delhi – he’s supposed to give up his wife, the beautiful Rani Padmini)

2015yellow&Rajveer_resizeThe palanquins left the fort at daybreak, giving the sultan the impression the queen was coming to him. Rajveer watched them leave before collapsing to sleep.

He woke up hours later with a gasp and found Akshita by his side.

“Charumati is with Rani Padmini,” she informed him.

He nodded, knowing of Charumati’s duties as lady-in-waiting to the queen.

“Rana Ratan?” he asked, frowning.

“He’s back.” Akshita grinned. “The sultan was furious and our men inflicted heavy losses on his army.”

Rajveer exhaled in relief. But then Akshita’s smile vanished.

“Heroes saved the day, but Gorka and Badal have fallen at the gates of Chittor,” she said. “And they weren’t the only ones. You should visit Anuja before it’s too late.”

Rajveer jumped out of bed. Anuja was his sister, and Akshita knew her very well. Her words implied his brother-in-law had also fallen on the battlefield. He rushed out, barely grabbing his sword.

Rajveer arrived just in time to see Anuja jump into her husband’s funeral pyre – much like their mother had when their father had died. Anuja had his same honey-colored eyes and she smiled ruefully at him before the sati, as if to tell him, “Soon Charumati will do the same for you.”

As the sun set, Rajveer reached the sultan’s camp, furious, and ended many soldiers’ lives both with his sword and sharp fangs. The human blood was intoxicating and his thirst for revenge made him drink so much that he ended up feeling dizzy – and very slow.

A Muslim warrior saw him stagger through corpses and sounded the alarm. Rajveer was surrounded, although he could see fear on his enemies’ faces – probably because his mouth still dripped with blood.

“Face a Hindu demon’s wrath!” he screamed before attacking, oblivious of being outnumbered, feeling invincible and ready for another slaughter.

His warrior instincts were heightened by his new nature and he didn’t feel too bad drinking enemy blood. But then he wasn’t really thinking as he slashed with his blade left and right, biting when flesh came too close to his fangs.

The soldiers fought him valiantly and wounded him, but he didn’t feel any pain. He still had more strength than any of them and they couldn’t hold him down.

And then Kaylyn joined the fight, with her long gown and a short dagger, cutting throats like the Goddess Kali. Her long chestnut-brown hair was loose, and she looked like a fury to the startled soldiers who soon retreated, cursing them both.

“Let’s go back,” Kaylyn said, offering her hand to a still panting Rajveer. “You ate your fill, no use staying here.”

“I want to kill them all,” he growled.

She smiled. “You can’t. Not even with my help and Bran’s. There’s too many of them. Come, Rajveer. Time to go home and tend your wounds.”

He grunted, but followed her back to the fort. The gates were closed, but she climbed the steep path to the northern entrance that had only one gate, trying to stick to the shadows. Then she continued up the bastions and over the false merlons like a colorful lizard, until she reached the parapet of the wall walk where she sat to wait for him.

He followed a little clumsily. He had drunk too much. His head was spinning, and he wondered if it was the wounds weakening him.

Like Bran, he couldn’t really fly, but he could jump and glide and climb surfaces. He stopped for breath on the battlement and looked left and right for any guards on watch.

Kaylyn took him down to the shadows of the walls, moving quickly through the darkest spots, and checked his wounds.

Rajveer“They’ll be gone in the morning,” she said. “You had so much blood, you were almost invulnerable.”

Rajveer noticed he wasn’t bleeding anymore and the wounds were already closing. Amazing. Whenever he’d be able to fight during the day, he’d be invincible. Maybe Gorka and Badal would still be alive if he could have joined them.

***

Rajveer the Vampire by Barbara G.Tarn is now available for on Amazon US,  Apple US, Barnes&NobleKobo US and Smashwords for 4,99$. Print version coming soon.

 

Writer Wednesday


Aaand there’s a party on Facebook! It’s already started, you’ve missed half the fun! Now don’t miss tomorrow, when I’ll be there, answering questions and whatnot! Attend and win prizes! And cookies! And get to know a nice vampire writer and her fellow authors including yours truly!

Okay, enough sales copy already! Where was I? Ahem, yes. Writing. Finished both workshops and I now have 4 story openings that I shall write. Contemporary stories, so they’ll be bundled with others in the next contemporary title. Stay tuned.

But first I want to finish Beautiful (I love those guys so much that I’m adding two more chapters), and then I’m off to Japan, so I won’t be working on anything until November. Well, maybe I’ll write one of those shorts next week. But I also want to publish SKYBAND 15, so the lettering and formatting of that one come first! 😉

About my very own vampire, coming soon in ebook form, here’s my version again. From celebrity portrait to character portrait, Muse H becomes Rajveer, with special thanks to Photoshop! Lovely Saturday procrastination…

2015yellow&Rajveer_resizeThe writerly links! Do not submit to the new Star Trek Strange New Worlds. And some more Konrants. And a most interesting article on Lee Child and how the best selling author writes his mysteries. Which goes well with 5 observations on the evolution of author business models.

Now I’ll just run screaming back into my writing cave. Writing is fun. The rest is not! 😉 But I’ll keep writing and trying to keep up with this new world of publishing. Next year I will increase my productivity again after filling my head with neat tricks and techniques at those workshops (I took 3 online workshops this year – more next year, I already have a wishlist).

I know my writing is changing, and I’m very happy about it. I’ve started learning again after stagnating over my “backlist” for four years, so… yeah, ready for the new beginning. Which doesn’t mean I’ll take down the old titles, but I’ll keep publishing new ones. This month there’s still SKYBAND 15 and Firebird. Next month Rajveer the Vampire and Beautiful. December contemporary stories and maybe another Silvery Earth novella.

And the Italian titles that I don’t mention on this blog. And the PODs I’ll do in November. And… well, that’s work, but whatever. The business part is my least favorite, but I can’t do without, so… onward! Have a great week! 😀

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