I’ve had Renee on the blog before, and talked about how much I enjoy this serial adventure, so it’s my pleasure to announce that Part 3 is now available.
Things go from bad to worse when the Galvadi Empire develops a new technology to use against the shadow stalkers. Now Kado and Makari are more determined than ever to keep Auren away from their enemies, but Auren decides enough is enough and takes matters into her own hands. She turns herself over to the Galvadi to get close to Drevin and Makari has no choice but to play along. He is forced to either torture Auren to prove his loyalty or die knowing she will be tortured and enslaved anyway. Somehow, they must get close enough to Drevin to bring him down and put an end to the Galvadi’s tyranny once and for all.
Episode 13: Defiance
Three years have passed since Auren and Shai escaped the daily torture of the Galvadi. With Makari’s help, they have learned more about the Galvadi’s technology and discovered ways to overcome its effects on their power, which gave them an edge in the war. However, the Galvadi have spent that time developing new technology that could mean the end of the shadow stalkers.
Episode 14: Falling to Pieces
Things go from bad to worse after Cali is captured by the Galvadi. The new technology they have employed is making a rescue attempt impossible and endangering the lives of all the shadow stalkers. Auren refuses to give up though, but the more she tries to fix thing, the more Kado tightens the leash.
Episode 15: Into My Own
Just when Auren thinks she’d had enough of Kado’s overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali’s death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don’t feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It’s time she takes matters into her own hands.
Episode 16: A New Emperor
Makari is told the only way he can prove his loyalty is by torturing Auren, but he refuses to go through it. So Jharak, Drevin’s master interrogator, took the liberty to be the one to break her, but in the end, it would take forcing her to watch him torture and kill Makari.
Episode 17: Allies to Enemies Part 1
Traitors are weeded out and new allies are found. Auren and Makari are determined to bring peace once again to the Serpent Isles, but they have a deadline. If they don’t make it in time, they could end up at war with their own people.
Episode 18: Allies to Enemies Part 2
General Graves wants Auren and Makari dead. When Makari demands one of Graves’ men, who secretly supports Makari, is sent to him for extra security at the palace, Graves uses a mind control drug to get him to assassinate them. Will Auren and Makari learn what happened before it’s too late?
Cali gave me a nudge as she took a seat next to me. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“No idea,” I said, moving over a few inches so she had space to sit between me and Shai on the log someone had converted into a bench.
Shai slung an arm around her cousin and Cali returned the gesture, then wrapped her free arm around me. I smiled at her. Cali was the only one who had helped me maintain my sanity over the years. It drove me crazy never knowing what was happening to Makari. Kado kept me busy, as usual, but any time I had a free moment, all I could do was wonder if he was safe. I would know if he died. I would sense him again in the shadow world. He had been blocking me to keep me safe, though I had no idea how it was supposed to help. All it did was make me want to go to him, which would be more dangerous.
Of course, Kado would never allow that. He saw my thoughts as I had them most of the time, and he would know as soon as I made the decision. I learned quickly not to allow my thoughts to go down that path too often. That’s where Cali came in. She distracted me by helping me forget the war and making me feel like a normal person once in a while. She was as good a friend as Jade, except she didn’t encourage me to disobey Kado when I was angry.
“Maybe the Galvadi have decided to give up,” Shai said, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“I know. It’s wishful thinking.”
I smiled at Shai. “I want this to be over too.”
“You’ll figure it out soon.” Cali gave my shoulder a squeeze.
All the shadow warriors knew the end of the war would not come until I stopped Drevin. The only problem was I had no idea what I was supposed to do, and no amount of training helped. Each day it seemed like I was further from my goal instead of closer.
After everyone had taken their seats, Kado held up a hand calling us all to silence. “Makari has just given me some disheartening news. The Galvadi have developed a—”
I tried to listen, but I couldn’t get past the fact that Makari had been here. “He didn’t even bother to see me?”
Kado glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d blurted it aloud.
“Makari has to keep a low profile for his own safety, and they were not aware he had left. He couldn’t stay away long.”
“I think it’s time he left the Galvadi all together,” I said, folding my arms over my chest.
“It would be the healthier option,” Cali added on my behalf.
“Makari’s work has been invaluable to us, and would not be possible if he weren’t living among them for the time being,” Kado said, then leaned in my direction looking straight into my eyes. “And he knows what he is doing.”
Kado watched me, and I was sure he was waiting to see if I would continue to interrupt him. I remained silent, but neither he nor Makari would be able to convince me the man I loved wasn’t taking an unnecessary risk. They could get whatever information they needed from their missions.
When he was sure I wouldn’t interrupt again he finished explaining that the Galvadi had developed a new recinder and how it worked. “You will need to avoid capture at all costs. Once these recinders are placed on you, there is no known way to nullify its effects even after removal. Auren, I want you to visit Makari’s unit to steal the schematics, and if possible, one of the recinders along with any other information you can find about new technologies. Makari suspects there is more, but they are keeping him in the dark.”
I stood quickly, smacking my hands together. “When do I leave?”
“Wait a moment. I have other things I need to discuss with you first.”
I sat again, hoping I wasn’t in for one of his long lectures.
Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy, and she’d dabbling with paranormal thrillers under a pen name.
She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.
Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6): http://reneescattergood.com
A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.
Preview Chapter from To Hunt a Sub
Three days before present
Ten hours and thirty-seven more minutes and the crew of the USS Hampton SSN 767 would be home. Seasoned submariners, the six-month covert intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance tour down the eastern seaboard of South America had gone flawlessly and silently. The Atlantic is a large ocean and the Los Angeles-class sub’s noise footprint small. Once the boat cleared Cuba, the crew would relax.
The Captain sipped the morning’s fourth cup of burned coffee when the hair on the back of his neck prickled. He glanced around, trying to identify what bothered him.
“Captain,” the Watchstander’s gaze bobbed from the Executive Officer to his watchstation. “Navigation is non-responsive.” Confusion tinged his words.
That was it. A change in the deck’s subtle rumble. Before the Captain could react to the impossibility that guidance controls had crashed, every monitor in the sub’s nerve center shut down.
He hadn’t seen this in twenty years of driving subs. All personnel made a hole as he rushed toward the Control Center, shadowed by the XO.
“Sonar readings?” The Captain called to Sonarman Second Class Andy Rikes in the compartment just aft of Control, barely larger than a broom closet but elbow-to-elbow with operators, fingers flying across keyboards and eyes locked onto screens that blinked a dull grey.
Rikes answered, “Negative, Sir. The hydrophones are working, but aren’t sending raw data, like someone pulled the plug and flushed everything out to sea. Trying to fix it.” His voice was hopeful.
If the screen had worked, Sonarman Rikes would have seen the ping, a final gasp before everything electrical collapsed.
The COB—Chief of Boat—interrupted, “Captain. Reactor Scram!” The sub’s nuclear power had evaporated. “Nuclear technicians isolating the problem. Battery back-up is being attempted.”
“Shift propulsion from main engines to EPM,” an auxiliary electric motor that could turn the propeller.
“Negative, Captain. Non-responsive.” Fear leaked from his voice.
The depth meter no longer worked, but the XO guessed that the sub was angled downward at 10 degrees
“Blow main ballast tanks!”
“No response, Captain.”
“How deep is the ocean floor in this sector of the Atlantic?”
The Sonarman answered, “It varies between 1,000 and 16,000”
16,000 feet was well below the sub’s crush depth.
“There are seamounts and ridges spread throughout. We could get lucky and land on one. Or not.”
“Inform US Strategic Command of our situation.”
“Sir, comms are down.”
“Release the message buoy,” though all that told the world was they were in trouble. It could quickly drift miles from their position.
The Captain continued, voice calm, face showing none of the worry that filled his thoughts, “I want all department heads and Chief Petty Officers in front of me in five minutes. I want the status on every system they own and operate. Wake up whoever you need to.” He had a bad feeling about this.
“Gentlemen, solutions.” The Captain looked first at XO, then COB and finally NAV, the Navigation Officer who turned to the senior chief of navigation.
“It’s like an electromagnetic pulse hit us, which can’t happen underwater…” then he shrugged as though to say, I have no idea, Sir.
They practiced drills for every sort of emergency, but not this one. No one considered a complete electrical shutdown possible.
“We’re checking everything, but nothing is wrong. It just won’t work.”
“Where’s CHENG?” The Chief of Engineering.
“Troubleshooting, Sir.” COB’s voice was efficient, but tense.
The Captain didn’t wait. “Condition Alpha. Full quiet—voices whispers, all silent, no movement not critical. Defcon 2,” the second-highest peacetime alert level.
No one knew who their enemy was or why they were under attack, but they had one and they were.
“XO, get lanterns up here.”
Within an hour, the massive warship had settled to the ocean floor like the carcass of a dead whale. It teetered atop an ocean ridge, listing starboard against a jagged seamount, and the gentle push of an underwater current from a cliff that plunged into a murky darkness. Every watertight door was closed. As per protocol, the oxygen level was reduced to suppress a fire hazard. Without climate controls, the interior had already reached 60 degrees. It would continue dipping as it strove to match the bone-chilling surrounding water temperature. Hypothermia would soon be a problem. For now, though, they were alive.
The hull groaned as though twisted by a giant squid.
The Captain peered into the gloomy waters that surrounded the sub. “Thoughts, XO?”
“We’re stable for the moment, barring a strong underwater current.”
Based on the creaking protests from the hull, they were at or beyond crush depth. Any deeper, the outside pressure would snap the HY-80 outer hull and sea water would roar into the living compartments. Everyone would be dead in seconds, either drowned or impaled on the ragged remains of the sub by a force in excess of a Category Five hurricane.
“We’re beyond the depth of the Steinke Hoods,” escape equipment that included full body suits, thermal protection, and a life raft. Budget cuts had eliminated funding for more advanced solutions.
XO pointed toward a darker expanse of black just yards from the sub. “No telling how deep that crevice is.”
“Gather the crew in the Forward compartment. Seal all other compartments. Ration water. Start O2 candles when levels reach 50% normal. Did the message buoy launch?”
That was a relief. The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) deployed in emergencies from shore couldn’t assist if it didn’t know they needed help.
Quote from author:
What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.
Book information: Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning Genre: Thriller Cover by: Paper and Sage
.. Available at: Kindle August 15th
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.
It’s my pleasure to introduce PS Bartlett and her series – The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. Below you will find details on the series, more information about Peggy, and a sneak peak of Chapter One from Jaded Tides. Enjoy!
The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales: The Series to Date
IVORY DAWN: Prequel Novella
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.
DEMONS & PEARLS: Book One
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.
JADED TIDES: Book Two
After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.
With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.
THE BLUE DIAMOND – THE RAZOR’S EDGE: Ten years in the future…if you like to read ahead.
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.
If it were only that easy…
COMING DECEMBER 2015: AMBER WAKE: GABRIEL FALLING
Where do I begin? That’s a difficult question in and of itself but when your life is transformed in a matter of minutes into something else, do you begin when you’re born or when your life truly began?
I was born in London as Gabriel Wallace, a child of high society; although I was raised to appreciate everything that softly landed in my hand. I followed all the rules. I worked hard, studied hard and ended up a captain in the Royal Navy before my twenty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, I saw the world through my own eyes, not the eyes of the crown and my vision was clear. I knew my duty. I knew my job. I also knew deep down, regardless of the loyalty my commission required, my stance was in opposition and it was but a matter of time before I’d be forced to stand alone.
Fortunately for me, my crew was loyal too and I had the full support of my closest friend and confidant as well. I didn’t know where I’d end up but I knew one thing for sure; I needed to get the hell out of England and thanks to them, I was taking my ship with me.
I suppose it would be easy for me to just give the canned speech about myself in third person ( aka inside the backs of my books) but tonight, I’m actually in the mood to ramble on about myself…LUCKY YOU!
First, the canned speech:
P.S. (Peggy) has always had a love of books and writing. She also paints and draws and although writing takes up the majority of her free time by choice, she loves spending time with her friends and family.
Her first novel “Fireflies” was published in March of 2013 with GMTA Publishing and her second, “Hope From the Ocean” was published in March of 2014, also with GMTA.
As of March 2015, Peggy now independently publishes her own novels.
Peggy’s goal is to become a full time writer and spend the remainder of her days creating worlds, characters and stories that will carry on long after she’s written her last word.
Her motto is:
“I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”
A- Age: Seriously? Um…no.
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones.
C- Current Time: 8:29pm EST
D- Drink you last had: Coffee
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My sister in law, Kim. We ride to work together every morning and ponder the universe.
F- Favorite Song: Right now, Go All the Way by the Raspberries. Something about that tune just makes me swoon.
G- Ghosts, are they real: Absolutely. Ask me sometime and I’ll elaborate.
H- Hometown: Baltimore, MD born and raised in the inner city.
I- In love with: My granddaughters.
K- Killed Someone: Only in my novels.
L- Last time you cried: Watching a video on Facebook. Sometimes those puppies and kittens are so damn cute!
M- Middle Name: Sue.
N- Number of siblings: 10. I’m number 11…yes, I’m serious. Unfortunately, there are only 5 of us left.
O- One Wish: To live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.
P- Person who you last called: I just checked and it was my husband the other day.
Q- Question you’re always asked: How are you doing with the book thing?
R- Reason to smile: My grandbabies!
S- Song last sang: Fixer Upper from Frozen
T- Time you woke up: 6:50am
U- Underwear Color: Today? Beige
V- Vacation Destination: St Thomas.
W- Worst Habit: Grinding my teeth
X- X-Rays you’ve had: Recently, my right foot.
Y- Your favorite food: Japanese stir fry.
Z- Zodiac Sign: Aquariuuuuuuusssss….
How’s that? 🙂
CHAPTER ONE – THRESHOLDS
When one finds themselves in a predicament where something they’ve longed for is finally in their grasp, it is customary for them to be grateful, thankful, and every other joyful emotion a living creature can feel. However, success itself is a predicament when you are standing with your arms full, without a free hand. That is precisely what I was feeling as I watched the Thunder Cay dipping forward until her bow was completely underwater. Within minutes, her stern rose up and it, too, vanished from view.
As I stood on the deck of the Demon Sea, surrounded by death, I was holding a life of my own in my hands for the first time, and I hadn’t stopped for a second to consider it. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was at the summit of anything but the first of a hundred mountains I’d yet to scale. As I bathed and dressed my crewmen’s injuries and drew that burning needle through wound after wound, a numbness from my newly acquired familiarity with the blood of battle grew within me. With every scream and shriek of agony, a cold shudder would shake me and keep me in motion. The inertia of constant stillness within me declared I’d crossed a threshold from which I could never go back.
I wanted to feel. I wanted to care. I wanted to cry or shout or perhaps even vomit, but there was nothing. Once my clothes were splattered and soaked with the blood of men I hardly knew for maybe the third or even the fifth time that morning, I reached a point where I could neither see it nor feel its sticky chill against my skin. My face went flat, and my voice was silenced, and somewhere a compartment in my brain opened up and collected it all until I was through. When the last man was laid in his hammock by late afternoon, I stood on the deck and washed all of them away with a bucket of water and soap, snuck away to the girls’ cabin, and changed my clothes as if nothing had happened.
They were visibly shaken, but silent as well. Yet I knew their silence was far different from mine. Theirs was sadness and regret. Theirs was exhaustion, disgust, and sympathy. I hadn’t seen them this way since the night of the pirate raid in Charles Towne, and as with that night, my next thought was that there had to be something on this ship in a bottle that would soothe me again and help me find my voice, as well as my spirit.
I found one alright, and it found me. I carried it close as I drug myself along the gangway in the shadows to my swaying bed. I stood there, looking at the two empty hammocks, and swallowed a long drink. Almost immediately, my insides felt warm and sweet, and I rushed it to my mouth again. I strained to hold my eyes steady and leaned against the beam that kept my bed suspended above the floor. I stared at the vacant place where hours before I’d smiled to myself while listening to River Watts’s voice. I was glad we took down Thunder Cay for what they did to River, and I’d have murdered every last one of them myself had we not.
My heavy eyes and vacant soul longed for sleep, and my hunger for revenge, sated with the peace of sweet vengeance, afforded me the right to rest my head. Then, all at once, a sadness came over me, and I slid myself into his hammock while clutching my cozy glass rum filled blanket and fell into a deep sleep.
We’d reached Port Royal by nightfall as Captain Rasmus Bergman predicted, and he found us a charming inn a few miles from the McCormack estate. It was all white and sat quietly on a hill, surrounded by a lovely garden. A stone pathway wrapped around from the front to a spacious courtyard. The house was home to a minister and his wife, who rented out the rooms to support their small parish on the estate.
Rasmus insisted that I stay there with the girls at night, but I spent the majority of my days on the Demon Sea with him, helping with the repairs to the ship and plotting our course to take down the filthy business of smuggling girls. When I’d been able to get a peek inside that book of Barclay’s, I was shocked at the number of young women, some as young as fourteen, whom these men were ferrying to islands throughout the Caribbean from as far away as America and even England. What they’d been doing was no different than a slave trade, and I was hell-bent on putting a stop to it, aside the man I loved.
Spending all of my time with Rasmus had turned my life from fear and uncertainty into a reason to breathe. Throughout our unorthodox courtship of swinging mallets and sanding deck boards, we’d grown to know everything about each other that two people who were planning a future together could, or should, know—at least, that’s what we believed. That comforting numbness the bloody battle had left me with had completely settled into its compartment in my mind, and I was able to keep it locked away most of the time, but in those hours I shared with him, I found the most peace.
He’d sworn not to lay a hand on me again until he made me his bride, which was extremely disappointing to me at first, but I trusted that he knew what was best. I put all of those swirling emotions to use through the sweat of hard work. I envied his restraint and thanked God for it, because at the time, I had none at all. Just watching him working on that ship shirtless, glistening in the sunlight or the rain, sent deep feelings of desire to places within me I longed for him to find. I wondered, though, if the idea of him making love to me only excited me until the realization that it would inevitably happen scared me to death.
Day in and day out, I’d rise before the sun, saddle my sweet horse, Peppi, and start off down the road to the wharf to meet Rasmus and the crew. My first job as a real sailor was sewing sails. I hated it. My fingertips were raw and had more holes in them than a sponge. I tried to use the leather gloves Rasmus had given me out of pity, but my hands swam in them, and they made things even worse. I never complained. I never even so much as winced as I drew that needle through and through. When I was finally done, the callouses had hardened until I knew I was pricked only when I saw the droplets of blood.
I was a young man named Razor in the eyes of the crew, and so far no one suspected otherwise. I was questioned once by one of the old crew we called Fin, as to why I didn’t sleep aboard the ship. He was one of Barclay’s old crew, and although he seemed decent enough, I still harbored doubts of any man who’d sailed with a captain like that. I wove a story that I had three sisters I had to watch over at night. He simply nodded and went on about his work. Since he liked to talk most of the time, I just listened.
On one occasion, he told me of how he missed his home back in Ireland, and his light brown eyes sparkled as he spoke. Lying became a way of life for me, and as long as I made the stories simple, they were easily recalled and repeated. Not speaking much at all, however, was much easier.
“Razor, if you’re finished with those sails, we can use some help sandin’ down these new starboard gunnels!” Captain Bergman shouted to me… but I was starving.
“Have we any time to eat, Captain?” I asked, shielding my eyes from the midday sun until he approached me and blocked it with his big silhouette.
He checked his pocket watch and turned his head to the sun and said, “Look at the hour. Your stomach must be set like a watch, Razor. Okay mates, take a break. Hawk’s got some grub for ye all below.”
“Thank ye, Captain,” I muttered and stood as I straightened my ragged clothes and started off to eat.
“Razor, I’d have a word with ye,” Rasmus said as he stepped in front of me.
He waited a few moments until the deck was clear and then patted me firmly on the back. “I have to give ye credit, little Razor, you’ve really pulled your weight getting her seaworthy.”
“Oh, she’s more than seaworthy, sir, she’s a real gem. I’ll be proud to sail her with ye, Captain,” I said with a smile and a wink.
“She’s all but finished. Just a few more nails and a bit of paint, and she’ll be ready. I just want ye to know I saw ye and everything you’ve done to help. Now, get ye some grub before those sea dogs finish it off.” He looked down and that curl grew at the corner of his mouth. I could barely see it anymore since he’d grown his beard. His amber mustache draped almost completely over both his lips, but I always saw his smile in his eyes.
“That means the world to me, Captain.” I was beaming at him, and I nodded and started to go when I felt his palm press lightly against my chest through my vest and binding.
“Tonight, our cove?” he whispered aside to me from the corner of his mouth.
“Yes, or I’ll feed ye to the fish,” I said with a laugh. After months of strenuous labor, my body was hard and strong. I knew every inch of this vessel and could climb the ratlines faster than any other lad on the crew. Yes, it’s true, I raced them all. Of course, they cited my youth and wiry stature as an advantage, but to me, they could use any excuse they had and I’d still be the fastest. I was, however, so ready for her to be finished. I couldn’t wait to get to sea and start hunting, but I also wanted to get on with spending as much time as I possibly could with Rasmus before we sailed. The knowing that by dusk I’d be draped in his waiting arms made those long hot days worthwhile.
With every evening we spent watching the sun set and the moon rise, I could see his desire for me deepen. His touch was determined and less fearful of exploring me, and his kisses were wet and seething with hunger. Somehow though, he always managed to find his head and stop before shattering that vow he’d made to bits.
He spoke of how well I’d sewn his wound and encouraged me to learn the ways of doctoring, in hopes that would be my place aboard ship. Yet he always wandered back to his true wish, which was that I’d just set those thoughts aside and be his wife and the mother of his children.
“Razz,” I said as I peeled myself away from him and sat up from the blanket in the sand to breathe. “Sometimes, I wish we never had to leave this beach.”
He laid there for a few moments, finding his own breath, and then leaned upon an elbow. His blank expression worried me until at last he spoke, “What would you say if I told ye you’d never have to leave this cove if ye didn’t want to?”
“Well, what will we do, pitch a tent?” I sniped at him and folded my arms.
He rolled up and sat facing me and chuckled. “Do you honestly think for one moment I’d allow my wife to live in a tent?” He mimicked my actions and sat straight-backed and folded his arms as well. “What sort of man do ye think I am, lass?”
“Well, I…” I stammered and looked into his light blue eyes, and I knew what kind of man he was. I pressed my lips together to hold in a laugh and gave him a smirk.
“I was going to surprise ye, but there’s no surprising ye. Now that the repairs and such are close to being finished on the ship, I’ll be building ye a house of yer very own right here.”
“You’re going to do it, Razz?” I said, sitting up from where moments before I had laid back in his arms, as he spoke of our own little home.
“How can I not? I can’t keep carrying on this way with you forever. It isn’t healthy for a man to get all stirred up night after night and have to jump in the sea to cool off. Besides, I can’t be bringing my bride to a ship, now can I?” He laughed and pulled me back into his arms. “Our own little love nest, aye?” He pumped his bushy red eyebrows and winked with a devilish grin.
“How long will it take?” I asked him as I pushed a long lock of that glowing fire away from his face and behind his ear.
“I figure I’ll round up a bunch of the lads from the Demon, and with a little gold and rum…the rum at the end of the day of course…we could have it put together in a couple of weeks. Which reminds me, by the way,” he said as he sat forward and reached into the pouch on his belt. “Stand up for me now, lass. If I’m going to take this leap, I’m going to need your hand.”
“What is it?” I said as I climbed to my feet.
I watched as he stood up in front of me and took my hand. “I’ve never even come close to doing anything this brave, Ivory Shepard. So, if I promise to give ye my love, my loyalty, and my big body to take care of ye, all I ask is your promise not to steal my heart and run off with it.” He knelt down on one knee in the sand before me and slid onto my finger a simple, but beautiful, gold band with one small, perfect white pearl. The pearl was laid into the band as part of the ring, not set on top as most rings were.
“Wait, does this mean…” I paused.
“It means I must have lost my mind, but there’s not another woman alive I’d rather lose it for. Will ye be my wife today, tomorrow, and for as long as ye can stand me?” he asked as he raised his eyes to meet mine and then reached again into that pouch and slipped the most beautiful jade bracelet on my wrist and tied it closed. Between the smooth stones of my favorite color, which were each about a half an inch in diameter, were small seashells. I knew before he even told me that they were shells he himself had collected and hand-picked.
“I’m frightened. What if I’m a terrible wife and won’t make you happy? There’s no chance I’ll run away with your heart, but I’m afraid I’ll not handle it well. You know how I am, Razz,” I said as my eyes beamed at his beautiful gifts for only a second before I reached out and took his splendid face in my hands and waited for one of us to say something—anything.
“You are my pearl. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. My heart is as big as my fist, and that’s a lot of heart to handle. I believe it can take any punishment you might put it through. But the point is, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he finally said.
I fell to my knees in front of him and shouted, “Yes!” again and again as he kissed my face from cheek to cheek, then my forehead to my chin, and then he swept me on top of him on the blanket. His hands pulled me so tightly against him that I began to fear what our first time together might be like. I was afraid the passion he’d suppressed for so long would leave me as no more than a sail battered by a hurricane. I panicked when I felt his hands sliding inside the back of my breeches and gathering my shirt between his fingers. I gasped and jumped off of him.
“What are you doing?”
He leaned upon one elbow and smiled at me. “I believed we’d crossed a threshold tonight, lass. I suppose I should have asked for your permission before I tried to remove your clothes.” He laughed.
“I don’t want to ruin this perfect evening, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. I promise, when I am, you’ll be the first to know.”
I knew immediately by the time I was back at the Chandler’s estate and tucked away in my bed, I’d regret this decision. In the end, waiting until I knew the time was right far outweighed a momentary leap over a line in the sand that I could never cross back over. Making love had now become a decision I wanted to make with the greatest of care. Having thrown myself at him before, only to be rejected, I didn’t want to ever rush things with him again.
Rasmus, the ever-patient, ever-strong and constant, wouldn’t be shaken by this rejection. I’d seen him at his best and at his worst and every way in between, and never once did I see any mood or emotion concealed. He’d have never tried to manipulate me through false sentiment or behavior to make me feel I’d disappointed him. I’d thought for a moment I had when he sat up and fell silent, staring at the lagoon but almost instantly, I knew the guilt was mine to bear. He carried on as usual, snuffing out the fire and gathering our things to head for home. I turned and looked back at this beautiful setting and imagined our little cottage. It didn’t take long before I could walk through the door.
Within a week, our quaint home near the beach was well under construction. All of the repairs to the Demon were complete, and she was like a shiny piece of gold. Rasmus had made some modifications, but for the most part, after having been careened, cleaned, and all signs of battle now nothing more than a memory, she was the finest lady in the harbor and looking for a capable crew.
After the battle with the Thunder Cay, some of the younger hands moved on to find work on land. They weren’t pirates as we knew pirates to be, and they certainly weren’t looking for a fight. Rasmus was a captain, not a jailer, and he still to this day refused to name himself as such. Piracy wasn’t in his blood; it came by him through an injection of betrayal and fate, and a man this mighty and absolute wasn’t going to be defined by his circumstances forever.
Unfortunately, I believed he loved me too much to deny me anything I wanted…I wanted the sea. I wanted to explore every aspect of discovering where it would take me, and most of all, I wanted to bring down every name in Barclay’s secret catalog of shame, and I wanted to do it with the man I loved.
Rasmus held tightly to the book and kept it hidden away. I believed he was afraid I’d go running off alone after them, but that wasn’t going to happen. I struggled each day aboard the Demon not to seek it out and memorize every last ship and captain, as well as the young women. Nearly three months had passed since we took down Thunder Cay, and I was aching to sail and get on with our mission. Rasmus wanted us married as soon as possible and refused to set sail with me again until I agreed to the doctoring and keeping what was now my short, scruffy blond head and every other part of me concealed. He also reminded me that I was never to enter his cabin alone. Having not yet felt the man’s love upon my body, I easily agreed.
Thanks for stopping by, and to Peggy for sharing her work with us.
It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Geoff Le Pard to the blog today. I met Geoff in person earlier this year, and he is as genuine as his blogging personality would suggest. If you caught my earlier post you’ll know that Geoff is running a blog book tour at the moment. The more I learn about My Father and Other Liars, the more I look forward to reading it.
The treatment of the adult orphan.
When I started writing My Father and Other Liars I had been thinking about the grieving process. My own father died in 2005 and, while his death came naturally as the end of a process the family lived through, I was intrigued by how the impact of grief worked. I vividly recall the moment I was told he had been diagnosed with cancer. I was sitting in my office, about 3.30 in the afternoon when the phone rang. Mum. She never rang me at work. I knew Dad was in for tests but her news hit me like a set of punches. It wasn’t a long call and by the end of it the initial shock became numbness. I sat staring at the conference table at the other end of my room and realised I couldn’t talk, not without breaking down. I was 47, head of this that and what have you and breaking down would have been embarrassing, humiliating. I got up, walked to the toilets and shut myself in a cubicle.
And that was it. An hour later I was off home to pick up the car and drive to my parents. From there on until well past his actual death a year later and well past the funeral I shed not a tear, felt rather divorced from all the emotion around me. He died in March 2005. In August I cried for the first time. I’ve had those tearing up moments since, never when I expect them and always difficult to deal with.
I talked to a friend about this, about how no one really seemed to understand this late flowering grief. He said something to the effect that being an adult orphan isn’t taken seriously. It’s expected, parents dying before their children. When that occurs at an expected age, people understand your loss, are sympathetic. But they expect you to be ‘grown up’ and ‘get over it’. Why? That’s what I asked myself. I read an excellent book ‘The Orphaned Adult’ by Alexander Levy. In it he takes a series of case studies to examine how grief impacts us as adults when we lose one or more parents.
I wanted to incorporate this theme into my book, since it was about fathers and my father’s death was still quite raw. My main character, Maurice Oldham is in his thirties and has lost his mother, blaming himself for her death. His father is also lost to him, but emotionally not because he’s dead. The book begins very shortly after Maurice finds his father – he believed him dead for many years – and he is angry and, in many senses, grieving for both parents. Finding his father alive robs him of his grief and that causes anger and a different grief in its own right. One of the themes throughout the book is how Maurice tries to come to terms with his father’s continued existence and the betrayals he feels at his father’s hands.
When Mum died five years later, the process was as erratic and difficult. I stood at the graveside and felt an awful heavy lump. This was truly it. Both parents had gone and the tangible connection to my past, my youth, my ancestry gone with it. I tried to bring out some of that in My Father and Other Liars, that linkage and to see in Maurice’s stuttering steps towards a reconciliation with his father the attempt to postpone that loss of one’s own living history.
My Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard. Published in August it is available as an ebook and paperback here:
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Doubling Back – A Story of Synn (The Foxes of Synn, Book 3) by Rose Fischer. Needless to say I loved the story, and fell for the charming and talented fox, Aldra Malimore. So imagine my excitement when I got to interview Aldra! Now I get to share that with you.
Aldra Malimore’s hope for a career as a sorcery scholar is over. Now, she’s working as waitress in the capital city of Arcanion and trying to resist the strange pull she feels toward Sorrell DeGray. When she stumbles on a thief with advanced technology that mimics the behavior of Synn’s color magic, it’s Sorrell she must turn to. But will trusting Sorrell be a mistake or a new beginning?
Interview with Aldra Malimore (The Foxes of Synn)
Mel: You trained for several years as a sorceress, can you tell us about your experience?
Aldra: In the Northern Realms, you have to apply to one of the schools. There are seven. If you’re wealthy, a teacher or mentor affiliated with one of the schools comes to you, or if you’re poor but really lucky, you can get a scholarship to live at the schools. I was fortunate because two of my parents are already sorcerers, so I had a mentor. He taught me some things and helped me design a personal curriculum taking different classes at various schools. I was also allowed to incorporate classes from Earth. Sorcery is an interdisciplinary field. You study magic and a variety of other things. We know how the weather works, and chemical processes, and geology, and things like that. We can combine that knowledge with Colored magic to do things. Lifespans are longer, especially among people who know magic, and that puts a different perspective on continuing education. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything, including employable trade skills. Magic doesn’t make money, though some well-known magicians have noble patrons. Most sorcerers have more learned skills than innate powers and abilities.
I guess we’re more “the people with special knowledge” than “the people with special powers” although we have powers that others don’t. Witches have inborn powers to manipulate nature, so they don’t always need as much technical knowledge.
Magicians work in groups and there’s more of an academic emphasis than a standard “adventurer” one like your readers would probably expect. The degree I have, called an Intermediate Holdership, typically takes between 8-10 years to acquire. It’s worth about as much career wise as an Associate’s Degree on Earth, and once you get it, you need a research grant and approval from one of the schools to go to the next level.
Mel: That’s quite an educational system. It has me all the more intrigued by the magic in Synn and the commitment to your craft. In Doubling Back you mentioned a few spells and, I’m curious, what’s your favourite?
Aldra: Synn has several different magic systems, so “spell” can mean a lot of different things. The main type of magic that’s really widespread is Color magic. That’s what you saw in Doubling Back. I have a hard time picking favorites, but in Color magic there are styles of spell more than stock phrases or rituals to perform. A spell is like a painting or sculpture. You learn the technical skills and history; you study memorable ones, but when you’re working with magic, you make your own. I do have a few of my father’s spells that he let me modify for practice when I was younger. I still use those because I’m sentimental, I guess. Usually that’s frowned upon, like plagiarism. I like experimenting with combinations and incorporating woodworking. One of my nephews does magic with words and runes. It’s really interesting, older magic than the Color practices.
Mel: It does sound fascinating, but then, mastering Color magic must certainly have its challenges. You shared a little about the different ways to travel across worlds, one being by magic mirror. How does this work exactly, can you share anything about the fairies without giving too much away?
Aldra: Sure. The mirror fairies live in a transitional dimension that exists between Synn and other places. You can go in and out of Mirrorveld through a magic mirror, and once you’re there, you need to pay a guide to lead you to the right exit. They don’t let very many humans in, and even foxes have to be vetted before we’re allowed to come and go freely. My father, Thad, is friends with Nyx and Eos, the Queens of the Skies there, so we’re allowed more leeway, but the queens are not people you’d want to cross, so we’re always careful there.
Mel: In that case, I’d want you at my back if venturing to Mirrorveld! You’ve had various experiences in the past few years. What is the most memorable?
Aldra: Ummmmmmm…Honestly, the most memorable was getting mugged, because I didn’t even know I was being mugged until I was halfway on the ground. But that’s probably not what you’re asking about. I lived with a merchant family in the city for a while and learned their trade. Worked on a riverboat. I’ll go back to that someday. Semi-dated a princess, memorable because it was horrid…
Mel: I get the feeling the less said about that the better! I’m sure those experiences influenced you, and it’s clear you feel a great deal of responsibility – especially when it comes to protecting people. Did your fathers influence this desire to make the world a better place?
Aldra: *laughs* The less said the better, though I’m sure someone will decide to write that story eventually. Did my fathers influence my social concerns? Indirectly, maybe. My fathers are thousands of years old. They were all victims of exploitation when they were younger, and I think they feel like they’ve paid their dues and done their time getting involved in world affairs. For most of my life, we just lived on our mountain, visited the city once in a while, went shopping on Earth, and didn’t get involved in causes, because that’s how my parents want to live. Micah used to be involved in the world-literacy movement in the more recent past, but he retired from it to build their magic greenhouse and help manage the Rangers who keep the family forests safe. Diana represents us in the Royal court during the summer and fall months, but that’s just a game to her. The only goal is to keep the family in a position where we have leverage with minimum involvement in any conflicts. It’s all about maintaining equilibrium so we can be as non-involved as possible, and I think it’s boring. Everybody else says “it’s not important as long as the family’s safe.” I can accept it from my parents. They’ve all lost their families before. Their priorities are different. From my sisters, it’s harder to relate to. Anyway, that’s not how I feel about it. I don’t want anybody to suffer the way my parents suffered. I want to be involved. I grew up with all these priveliges. If I can help somebody, why shouldn’t I? I want to contribue something meaningful to the world.
Mel: You’re right. Why shouldn’t you. I agree with that philosophy, and admire your commitment. The ability to absorb energy is a wonderful gift. I know you battle against the draw of shadow magic – is this a unqiue gift within the family?
Aldra: Thank you. Yes and no. Foxes are… Well, the only way I can think of to explain it is “energy vampires,” but that’s an oversimplification. We gain sustenance from intimate relationships and contact. The energy most foxes need isn’t just the color magic you saw me absorb; it has to be personal energy from another being. Young kits get what they need from cuddling with their parents, but as we get older, most of us can only get it from sex. Micah is part of a plant species that absorbs ambient energy of all kinds. Sunlight, colors, whatever’s there. Its autonomic, similar to photosynthesis; he can’t pick and choose. On Thad’s side, there’s a family gift for being able to draw shadow magic out of people who’ve been possessed, or release ghosts, but I’m the only one who can ingest the shadows or pick what magic I take in.
Mel: That sounds like a great deal of responsibility, and dangerous too. You’re all unique, which is a good thing, but it must be difficult not being able to change into a fox as your father and some of your siblings do. Do you gain support from your family?
Aldra: Some foxes can change and some can’t. Some only have two forms; some have three. Some have the upper body of a werefox and a fish tail like mermaids. I shouldn’t let it upset me as much as I do. It’s really not a big deal if I’m thinking clearly. The problem is, once I get upset, I’m upset about everything, and I think the reason it bothers me is that I have so little in common with my family. That is one of the most obvious things, but it’s a lot more about how we think differently and have different interests and values. I feel like an alien speaking some strange dialect that only has minor similarities to whatever language they’re speaking. They’re wonderful people and great about practical help if you want to learn something or there’s a problem. There’s always someone to spy for your back you up in an emergency, but for anything emotional, I’m more likely to go to my wife — I mean, my girlfriend — I mean…okay, spoiler. Sorry. >.<
Mel: Oops, let’s skip over that part! I can relate to those feelings, even if I’m not a fox; all families are challenging! But I’m glad to hear you have someone to rely on for emotional support.
Thank you for talking to me today, Aldra. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about you, your family, and how things work in Synn. Taking the journey with you (in a manner of speaking) in Doubling Back was a pleasure.
So now it’s over to my readers, who I’m sure are as charmed by you as I am.
If you have any questions for Aldra, or indeed the talented Rose Fischer, please leave them in the comments below.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Phyllis Moore, author of the Pegasus Colony. You will find links and further information about the novel below. But first, let’s find out what Phyllis had to say.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in a lucky pair of socks? Or using a special pen?)
I can write pretty much anywhere. I don’t need everything to be quiet. I can write in my head while I drive, at work when things are slow and people are talking, at the park, or in a coffee shop. And I can write when everything is turned off and silent.
When an idea comes. I write.
If I get stuck somewhere and have to sit with nothing to do or read, give me paper and pen, and I write.
That process sounds familiar. Is there a book you wish you had written?
I’ve thought about it and I don’t think there is a novel I wish I’d written.
There are authors like J.K. Rowling that I wish I was as well read.
It would be nice it my characters were so well known that when some one says, Jessica Hewitt or Nu Venia, people know who they are.
Pegasus Colony is my first novel. I have my future in front of me and I have goals to meet.
That’s certainly an admirable goal. If Pegasus Colony was adapted for the cinema screen, who would play your favorite characters in the movie?
May I tell you a story instead?
I have many friends who bought my book and laughingly asked when the movie was coming out. My first thought was, this is not movie material.
But the Bible says where two agree it will happen. So I agreed with every statement of my book becoming a movie.
I told my friends when the movie came out I’d rent a movie theater and invite all of them and their significant other. I’ll have a buffet at the front of the theater just under the screen for people to eat and visit before the viewing.
And yes, we laughed good-naturedly.
A met a gentlemen who bought a book and whose his son is screenplay writer. He planned to have his son also read the book.
I haven’t heard from him as of yet, but you never know.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed. You mentioned a few names from the series. How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?
From other books I’ve read, names are very important from names like Stephanie Plum to Sherlock Holmes to Romeo and Juliet to Albus Dumbledore.
Sometimes my characters change their names several times before I settle on the right one.
Sometimes I hear a name and have to use it. A friend’s middle name is Samard. I’m using his name for a king in one of my fantasy stories.
I have a running list of names that I’ve heard or made up that one day might become a great fictional character.
I like to use friends’ names too. And following on from the earlier theme. If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Pegasus Colony.
It would be spectacular.
If I had unlimited money I’d find creative people who know how to catch an audience eye and wanting them asking for more.
One thing I would not do is tell the whole story in the trailer like so many movies do today. It’s annoying. If I know the story and how it will turn out, why bother to go see the movie.
I want my trailer to be intriguing with just enough information to create a mystery that encourages people to buy my book because they want to know what happens.
I get that. Sometimes there are so many spoilers it reflects badly on the movie. But, moving on, can you list five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.
Persistent. Committed. (These two maybe the same. The point is I don’t easily give up. I also don’t start something unless I plan to finish it. I may have to put the story to the side and let it mature for a bit, but I have plans to get back to it.)
Intriguing. (I like to create mystery so the reader wants to keep turning the page to see what happens.)
Misleading. (If you’ve read my short stories, you’ll know I like to lead the reader in one direction only to surprise them with an unexpected ending.)
My last adjective would be “Hone,” as in honing my skills.
I strive it to learn from my mistakes and to improve on what I’ve already written. I want each book to be better than the last.
I think that’s important, because we never stop honing our craft. Tell us about your next project.
I’m presently working on the second book of People of Akiane, Storm’s Coming. I originally wrote People of Akiane as one book, but it was too long, and it kept growing, so I turned it into a trilogy.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?
Becoming a great writer.
There are so many different elements of writing a novel such as: plot, characters, description, and dialogue.
I’m great at story and dialogue. If I could write a novel with only those two, I’d be happy, but I must also develop strong, interesting characters. I must give details that make the characters and their world seem real.
Yes, the characters are certainly key. Are there any other genres you would love to explore?
My trilogy is science fiction, but I also have a couple of fantasy ideas in the works.
I’d like to write humorous novels that seemingly goes nowhere, but in the end, it all lines up into a good laugh and “Wow that was great!”
My goal is to entertain readers. To take them out of this world and place them in an adventure in another world.
It’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it – taking our readers on a journey. I wish you every success. Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview, Phyllis. I had great fun chatting with you.
Lt. Jessica M. Hewitt can’t find peace for her own life, yet her mission is to bring peace between two worlds 28 light-years apart. Her orders are to convince the rough Pegasus Colony that they are still an Earth colony.
Soon after she lands on the alien planet, her nonexistent negotiation skills immediately prove their worth, within seconds she’s failed. Their leader has walked out on her.
The colony wants nothing to do with their home planet. They’ve been on their own for over 300 years. They’re not about to give up their independence.
At last that’s what they say is the problem. But there’s something else going on.
Why has the Earth team has been exiled to the farther reaches of the colony habitat? Why are the colonists so secretive about one particular garden? What are they growing? And why will not one colonist speak to anyone from Earth.
Most importantly what will it take to convince the colonists to just speak to her? The answer to that question may cost Jessica her life.
I have a special treat for you today, a short-story written by Louise Findlay. If you would like to know more about Louise and her work, I featured her on my author blog during the Fantasy Solstice Tour. For further details, click here.
Vicious Vines by Louise Findlay
I so hated this world. The clogging smell of petrol and dust. I could feel the air on my skin, all contaminated like a stain on my soul. I wasn’t wasteful like the humans. Clothes weren’t a necessity for me. I could just weave vines into makeshift garments, to stave off the cold. It was a waste making clothes from cloth and linen. It harmed plants and if they suffered, I suffered.
I always thought my unusual green eyes were a mark of my connection to the environment. The plants thought so. Their piercing shade certainly stood out from my auburn hair.
I was scared that my skin was taking on a greenish hue. I didn’t think I would change, but I didn’t really know what was happening to me; that was the worrying thing. The plants were happy though. As I accessed my powers I was becoming more like them by the day.
Everything hurt more and more, and I could hear the plants’ cries in my head. It was agonising; the constant screaming plaguing my mind. Humans destroyed everything they touched. They were responsible for the death and destruction of all this wildlife. I didn’t count myself among their number.
I made a last ditch attempt to free myself from this burden. Humans didn’t listen to reason, they only cared about what benefited them. They would pay for laying waste to the forests. They would pay for driving animals out of their homes. They would pay for uprooting plants from their habitat.
It was all the humans fault. Their industrial revolution; building things at the expense of others. It would come back to haunt them. I would make sure of it.
I didn’t have full control over my plant powers, but I knew I could rely on them to do what I wanted. To bring vengeance down upon the human menace.
I might have been content to leave them alone if I didn’t hear the constant screaming inside my head day and night; in my every waking moment and in my dreams as well. It was like having a drill constantly mining away at my brain.
CRACK! It was an agonising shift in my fingers whenever I called the vines to me. Every time I felt the change grow stronger. I didn’t know how to both keep my power, and halt the change. Part of me welcomed it, though the other part just wanted to stay the same.
I would do to the humans what was slowly happening to me. Yes, poetic justice. I’d infect them with plant genes. Then I would watch them trying to survive in their urban metropolis. It would take a lot of strength, but it would be worth it. I forced myself to create balls of swirling energy. The downside was that it was a bit too obvious. Humans ran and fought against anything they didn’t understand. They might escape my curse. Just as my muscles were about to give out, I condensed the energy to vapour. That would do. A swirling mist to encase and infect them.
Hahahaha. I walked for miles to the nearest town and watched the chaos unfold. It worked better than I’d ever imagined. I heard them crying out as they struggled to walk, could hear the conversion in my mind. Their thoughts were being simplified into matters which only concerned plants: food, water, sunlight and procreation. The newly converted plants were weak willed. I knew I could control them if I so desired. Why was I doing this? It was part vengeance; I felt the plants’ pain and wanted the cause of it to pay. But it was also to stop the pain. I couldn’t live with it any longer. It was slowly killing me.
Damn. I was going to kill whoever cursed me to this existence. No one harmed me and got away with it. No one harmed Kathryx without consequences. I had survived unspeakable torments.
As soon as I saw the eerie green mist I knew it was malevolent. I knew my body was changing. I could feel the crippling pain that accompanied it. Arrgh. It was like my body was being torn in two, and only half of me wanted to resist. But the other part, the part which was already damned, did not. I would find whoever did this, and they would pay. On my life they would pay.
The sunlight. It was like a blinding inferno of heavenly day. It nourished the vines that were slowly creeping up my face, but it burned my eyes. I was torn between sacred night and heavenly fire. As a vampire, daylight was my enemy. As a plant, it was quickly becoming my friend.
I suppose my vampiric nature was the reason I wasn’t like the humans. It didn’t matter now anyway. I was dead, whether man or woman or vampire. Plants didn’t bleed. My entire food source had been wiped out in one fell swoop. I had no desire to turn into a piece of shrubbery, but my wishes were of no concern. My body was fighting the battle for me. No sword or spear or arrow could fix this; no weapon could. But rendering the person who did this limb from limb, would make me the happiest creature alive.
I tried to resist the overwhelming urge to claw the vines off my face. They would only grow back again. I had tried that already, which resulted in a mauled face. All I could smell was the infestation of plants. When this was all over, if I was still myself, I was going to set fire to them all. Then I spotted it. Food. Human food. If the person wasn’t greenified yet it meant they had something to do with this.
Everything was slowing down. My feet were dragging. I just couldn’t maintain my speed. Once I was but a blip in the eyes of humans, and now I was struggling to walk. I had to find this person before I became rooted to the spot.
There she was. The red haired menace who started all this. I could see it in her eyes. That spark of violence I saw so often in my own kind. Oh, she was going to the feel the wrath of the last vampire alive.
I had my throwing knives out and began to slice the vines off her body as I charged straight at her with red in my eyes. The vines grew back as soon as I severed them.
“Stop it, please. You’re hurting them,” the menace pleaded.
Hurt plants? Oh, I’d show her hurt. She didn’t even know the meaning of pain. Try being left to starve underground, and trying to claw your way to the surface after having acid thrown on your decaying body.
“You change me back now before I decide your corpse is more useful to me,” I commanded.
She was scared. I could see the tears rolling down her face and hear the palpitations of her heart. This little snip of a girl thought she could destroy everything on the planet and not suffer the consequences? Naïve.
I suppose I should have been worried when I saw that glint in her eyes. But what could a human teenager do to me a vampire? Really?
Ugh. The vines were constricting around my body. I could feel the pressure round my neck. I held my breath, but I knew I didn’t have long before suffocation became a real concern.
“Look who’s in control now,” the human taunted.
No human was going to best me. I was the predator, not the prey. I just had to move my arms. The vines. If I ripped them off I might have enough time to kill her before they regrew. It would hurt though; tear my face. The regrowth would take a decade, even with my healing abilities. Disfigurement was better than death by strangulation, and by a human no less.
I tore my razor sharp nails across my face, screaming even as I took one of my knives from the floor and plunged it into her chest.
Instantly, the vines released me. As I stood panting, the human was breathing her last breath. I could feel the infection slowly retract from my body. The plant life began to wither as I watched her pained struggles.
I was free though. Free at last. Before I collapsed from the strain, I heard the human’s last words.
“Vira. My name is Vira” she said, and then promptly died.
Thank you to Melissa for offering to host a promo/guest blog. Now to get the introduction and promo stuff out of the way. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemereepic fantasy series where the latest one is Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I also just released a 27-page short story for 99 cents called Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so you can get a quick, cheap taste of me . . . whatever. Let’s move on to the fun!
Authors talk a lot about their heroes and how they came about. You don’t hear as much about the villains until after that villain becomes popular. Even then, there are many antagonists that don’t fall into the full evil category. Darth Vader redeemed himself and I’m still lost on the most evil thing he did outside of the prequels. Force choked his own men? I have to admit that I never got the monster vibe from Darth Vader. Maybe because a lot of my favorite villains are those that can be redeemed. I’m not really here to talk about those because this is more about the writing of villains. Specifically, the horrific, irredeemable, blight on humanity monster type.
In The Compass Key, I introduced one of my newer villains. This baddie was going to be suave and confident. I hit the second one more than the first, but something else came out as I wrote him. This monster had no redeemable qualities. He was terrifying to write and he’s a ‘great’ character, but there is no sign that he has any goodness in him. The other villains show hints of compassion and humanity. This guy revels in pain, death, manipulation, and control. Within the first book he’s in, this villain has tortured, betrayed, and (here’s the worst one) attempted to rape. That last one forced me to stop writing for an hour. I saw where it was going and I couldn’t turn away from it because he is that level of evil. It’s an act that solidifies him as more of a monster than the Lich and Trinity.
So that’s the scary part about some villain writing. Somebody comes up with these creatures of pure evil. I wonder how common it is for an author to create a character that they can’t wait to kill. Not because it’s a badly written character, annoying, or the fans hate it. They want that character to die because that type of monster should not be allowed to roam free. Seriously, I want this character dead for what he’s done and I can’t do it for a few books because I need him to push the heroes.
Typically, I give some tips on how to design a character like this, but he came out of nowhere. Maybe the other villains were too nice and he filled a niche. If anything, it requires a different mindset for the heroes when they handle him. That might be the main point with a monster villain. It’s a type that cannot be turned, reasoned with, or contained for very long. A hero has to face the abyss and risk crossing a line to put a monster down since there’s no other way. Easy for a violent, kill my enemies hero, but difficult for one who doesn’t kill. So like many bad guys, this type could be more about the effect on the protagonists than anything else.
So, have you ever created a villain so repulsive and evil that you stopped to wonder where it came from?
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.
I’m delighted to welcome Amy M. Reade to Writing Room 101 today, author of Secrets of Hallstead House. Amy has shared an excerpt with us, which is really exciting. So read on to learn more about her latest release, and don’t forget to show Amy some love in the comments!
Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions. Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…
Amy M. Reade
My journey was almost over.
It was raining, and I looked out through the drizzle across the
blue-gray water of the Saint Lawrence River. Only a few boats were
out on such a raw and rainy day. From the bench where I sat on the
Cape Cartier public dock, I could see several islands. Each was covered
with trees—dark green pine trees and leafy maples, oaks,
birches, and weeping willows. In the chilly late September air, the
leaves were already tinged with the colors of fall: yellows, reds, oranges,
browns. I could glimpse homes on the islands, but I didn’t see
any people. It was beautiful here—so different from the city I had
just left behind.
Even though twenty years have come and gone since that day, I
can still remember the calm that settled around me as I waited for my
ride to Hallstead House in the middle of the Thousand Islands. My
nerves were still ragged, but the river had an immediate and peaceful
effect on me. I was only twenty then, but I had been through so much.
Though I had been traveling for just a few hours, my journey to this
place had begun six long weeks earlier.
As I listened to the raindrops plunk into the river, the sound of the
motor from an approaching boat cut into my reverie. It was an older
boat of gleaming mahogany with a large white awning covering most
of it, protecting the cabin and the pilot from the rain. It puttered up to
the dock slowly and in a few moments had pulled alongside, close to
where I sat. The pilot moved to the stern and climbed out quickly, securing
the boat to the dock with a thick rope. He turned to me with a
questioning look and said, “Macy Stoddard?”
He shook my hand curtly. “I’m Pete McHale. I work for Alexandria
Hallstead. She sent me here to pick you up. That all the luggage
“Yes, that’s it.”
He shot me a disapproving look and said, “I hope you brought
some warm stuff to wear. It starts getting cold up here pretty early in
the fall. It’s colder here than it is in the big city, you know.” He
Determined to stay positive, I ignored his look of reproach and
replied that I had plenty of warm clothes. Once he’d stowed my two
large suitcases in the boat under the awning, he helped me on board,
where I chose a seat in the front so I could see where we were going
and stay dry. I had been in a boat once as a child when a furious storm
blew up, and I had hated boats ever since. Still, though I was unhappy
and nervous to be riding in one, there was absolutely no other way to
get to my island destination. Pete untied the boat and we slowly
pulled away from the dock. As he scanned the river and began turning
the boat to the north, I glanced at his profile. He looked like he was
in his mid-thirties—medium height, with light-brown, windblown
hair, and green eyes with creases in the corners that made it look like
he squinted a lot. He wore faded jeans and a Windbreaker.
When he had steered the boat out of the small, sheltered bay at
Cape Cartier and into the more open channel, he glanced at me and
said, “We’ll be at Summerplace in about ten minutes.”
“That’s the name of the house on Hallstead Island.”
“Oh. I thought it was called Hallstead House.”
“Its official name is Hallstead House. The people who live on the
island just call it Summerplace.”
We sat in silence for several moments, and finally I asked, “Why
is it called Summerplace?”
Pete sighed. Evidently he didn’t relish playing the role of tour
guide. “It’s called Summerplace because it used to be a summer retreat
for the Hallstead family. Now Miss Hallstead stays there for as
much of the year as she can. In early to mid-October she moves the
household over to Pine Island and spends the winter there.”
To keep my mind off my abject fear of being on the water, I turned
my attention to the islands we were passing. Each one had a home on
it, and all of the homes were beautiful. Some looked empty, since
their occupants had probably left after the summer ended, but some
still had boats tied to docks or housed in quaint boathouses. The
homes themselves, most of which were huge and had large, welcoming
porches, were surrounded by the ever-present trees. Several had
bright awnings over the windows.
In the face of Pete’s apparent ambivalence, I had determined not
to ask any more questions. But as I sat looking around me I forgot my
self-imposed rule. “Are there really a thousand islands in this area?”
I blurted out.
“There are actually over eighteen hundred islands in the Thousand
Islands,” he replied. To my surprise, he seemed to warm to this
subject and continued. “In order to be included in the count, an island
has to be above water three hundred and sixty-five days a year and
support at least two living trees.”
I continued to draw him out, asking, “What do you do for Mrs.
His attitude changed again, becoming colder. “It’s Miss Hallstead.
She never took her husband’s name.”
Amy M. Reade grew up in northern New York. After graduating from college and law school, she practiced law in New York City before moving to southern New Jersey, where she lives now with her husband, three children, dog, two cats, and a fish. She writes full time and is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, a novel of romantic suspense set in the Thousand Islands region of New York, and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, a novel in the same genre set outside Charleston, South Carolina. She is currently working on her third and fourth novels, set in Hawaii and Cape May, New Jersey, respectively. She loves cooking, reading, and traveling.
Today I’m thrilled to share with you the next installment of the Shadow Stalker Series. Renee has kindly provided an excerpt for us. If you return tomorrow, I will be reviewing episode 8 and sharing my thoughts on the journey so far.
Shadow Stalker: Broken (Episode 8) Excerpt
By Renee Scattergood
My chest tightened painfully and tears filled my eyes. I was truly trapped. This was why he hadn’t used a recinder. He didn’t need one. There was nowhere I could run that he wouldn’t find me. All the power I had been given by the shadow people was useless. Why had they allowed my parents to bring me into the world, if my fate was to be at the mercy of my enemy? A cold realization hit me. Maybe Makari was right and the shadow people were liars. Emotion rolled through me in a wave, tearing an ear-piercing sound from my throat. Makari loosened his grip, startled, but his expression was no less determined.
“No,” I screamed in my mind. He couldn’t be right. This couldn’t be right. I took a deep breath, forcing myself to relax. “What are you going to do to me?”
When Makari didn’t answer, I lifted my head to look at him. He pressed it down and secured a strap across my forehead, so I was completely immobilized.
“You seem to be immune to the effects of the shock wands, but maybe you will respond to a different kind of pain. It’s an old method of torture, and one the Galvadi rarely use anymore,” he said, as though reciting simple facts. “But sometimes it becomes necessary.”
This was it. This was likely the torture method used in Kado’s vision. I couldn’t let it happen. “Makari, please. Please tell me what I can do to make you see there’s another way.”
“I’ve already seen, Auren. I know who you are. This isn’t about proving your innocence anymore. It’s about proving to my father I have more worth than being a hunter of shadow stalkers,” he stopped what he was doing, and rested his palm on my forehead. “You’re going to tell me where the Coalition are hiding.”
He was going to torture me for information. No! “I will never tell you that.”
“Oh, you will, Auren. Then I’ll give you to my father, and you will never be able to hurt anyone in the Serpent Isles again. He might finally see my worth once you are dead, and…” his voice faltered. “He has everything he needs to destroy the remnants of the Coalition.”
Auren finds a way to escape the pain of her torture, but when Makari realizes it’s preventing him from “cleansing” her, he finds ways of randomizing the pain to keep her present. Still, she does not succumb to the torment.
When Makari can’t get through to her, he decides Drevin, the emperor of the Galvadi, is right. Auren is the delohi-saqu. Now Makari is no longer concerned with cleansing her because the delohi-saqu cannot be cleansed. He resorts to more sadistic methods to extract information about the Coalition. If Auren can’t resist, her friends and hundreds of innocent people will die.
Renee Scattergood, author of the fantasy series, Shadow Stalker, and novella, Demon Hunt, lives in Australia with her husband and daughter. Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter. Find out more about her, and sign up for her newsletter on her blog for a free copy of her latest episode of Shadow Stalker: http://reneescattergood.com