Category Archives: Novels

These are the novels that I’ve written.

Living Like A Vampire

Just in case you don’t have anything to read during the Halloween Holidays…

Living Like A Vampire is available on Amazon and KOBO.

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Chapter 1

On Friday night, October 15th, 2004, Sue, Charlie and I, three new teachers at Bullsbrook high school, sat in The Celtic Frog, the local bar. We occupied the corner booth that we had made our own since we had arrived in town two months ago. The bar was the only place that appeared to continue as usual since the start of the sucker pandemic a week ago. The bar owners, a couple called Abby and René, still served drinks and the usual patrons hung off the bar or sat in their usual seats.

There were, however, a large number of new customers. They were refugees escaping the city. The first ones arrived six days ago, but their number had steadily grown. In the beginning we didn’t think anything of it, just an unusual time of the year to get vacationers. As the news reports became increasingly scary, more and more arrived and today the biggest wave hit. Their conversations were hushed and anxious. We could hear snippets of horror stories about people being chased, herded, and slaughtered like cattle. We, too, sat huddled in our corner booth, whispering, discussing what to do next.

All of a sudden, we heard a commotion. I had heard a man talk loudly minutes before, but now people shrieked and cried. The three of us raised our heads to find out what was happening and I could see a cluster of people had gathered around one of the newcomers.

“They’re watching a camcorder,” Sue said.

I pushed her to move as I wanted to know what was on the camcorder that would make people cry like that. “Come on,” I said, “get going. I want to see it too.”

She stood up, followed on her heels by me. Charlie got up as well and followed us to the wailing people.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Oh my god,” said Abby. She wiped tears from her face with one hand as she grabbed my shoulder with the other. “You’ll have to see it to believe it.”

She pushed me to the front of the crowd. An old man, I guessed in his sixties with a rather saggy build and a haunted look on his face, was holding a camcorder with its viewing screen out. More people tried to see the recording, but the ones who had already seen it were reluctant to move. They apparently needed to see the footage for a second time to convince themselves that what they had seen wasn’t a figment of their imagination. The old man backed up the recording and restarted it. What I saw scared the hell out of me.

It started off with a younger couple in a happy pose at a restaurant. The camera was then handed, I presumed by a waitress, to the man of the couple.  He continued filming the woman. It must have been her birthday or some other celebration as the man gave her a present and, after a big hug to the man, she began unwrapping it. I couldn’t hear what was being said.

From that one scene of happiness, it turned into one of chaos and slaughter. Suckers stormed into the restaurant, their fangs clearly visible, grabbing customers and waiters alike. The lucky lady who had been unwrapping the present screamed when one of the suckers grabbed her arm and tried to pull her away. She struggled. The camera movement became erratic, as if it was being used to hit the attacker of the woman. I saw the arm of the sucker move in the direction of what I think was the camera man’s neck. The camera then followed the movements of the man’s hand as he fought to get the arm off himself. You could see the sucker laugh, he actually laughed, before pulling the woman he was still holding in front of him. Her eyes were glazed over, she was in shock. The sucker then sank his teeth into her neck, watching the man as he did it. The camera movements became more erratic as the sucker dropped the woman and turned his efforts to the man holding the camera. We couldn’t see what happened next as in the struggle the camera was launched and landed on one of the other tables, in a plate full of pasta. Over the top of spaghetti, I saw the people in the restaurant become the dish of the day.

“Where did you say you found the camera?” someone in the crowd asked.

“Two days ago in Needham, halfway down the road to Portland,” said the old man loudly. “I was looking for food and found it lying there, in the pasta. Nobody but dead bodies there anymore, the suckers had already left.”

“Why didn’t you stay there? How’d you get past the suckers?” someone else asked.

“With a big, fast car,” he replied. “I was lucky to have missed the sucker attack, working in my cellar and my hearing being bad, but my wife didn’t survive.” There were tears in his eyes now. “I’ve come to warn you. I’ve lost my reason to live, but you still have a chance to save yours. I want people to know what’s coming for them. Y’all have to get outta here! They’re coming!” His voice was thick with emotion, his eyes wild, as he frantically looked around at the gathered crowd.

I glanced over my shoulder at Sue, then at Charlie standing beside me. They seemed as shocked as I was. More questions were called out to the old man, but I wasn’t interested in them. I’d heard enough. We returned to our corner booth, too traumatized by the images to speak for a while.

School had been suspended until further notice earlier that day and we didn’t have to worry about teaching. Most people had taken their children out of Bullsbrook during the past week anyway. So far the threat had seemed far away and we all thought it would be dealt with before it spread. These people and these images told a different story. It wasn’t going to be safe here for much longer.

“We have to get away,” I said. “We have a better chance of survival if we get away from the crowd.”

“Are you sure? Wouldn’t it be better if we stayed here?” Sue’s dreadlocks bounced as she spoke. She shifted in her seat.

I scanned the bar’s customers. “You saw the tape.”

So many new faces. So much fear.

“I think,” Sue said, her southern accent thicker than usual, “that we have a better chance if we stand with the people from the town. More manpower.”

My eyes went back to Sue. I let her words sink in and pursed my lips.

“I don’t agree. What do you think Charlie?”

Sue and I both turned to look at Charlie. Being a dwarf didn’t diminish his presence and, being ten years our senior, I gave his vote more weight. The low lighting cast dark shadows on his face, accentuating his dark mood.

“I agree with Kate. Even if all the people in town worked together, we could never stand up to the numbers that the suckers must have gathered by now. Let the army take that fight. We need to get out of here and hide until this is dealt with by the authorities.”

I followed Charlie’s stare and waited for Sue to respond. Finally, she nodded, dreadlocks bouncing again.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, he’s right. Better to hide than to fight.”

“Okay, so where do we go?” Charlie asked.

I put my lips on my thumb as I’d bitten too much skin off next to my nail while I was listening to Charlie. It was bleeding. I shut my eyes to deal with the pain and the image of my parents and sisters flashed by. I still didn’t know their fate. Last night I’d hardly slept, being tormented by nightmares of possibilities, and the resulting tiredness didn’t make me think any clearer. There was nothing I could do for them at the moment, so I tried to concentrate on deciding where to go. Even though Charlie, Sue and I had lived in Bullsbrook for over two months, we still didn’t know the town or the surrounding area well.

“Hey, maybe we can go to the campground!” Sue burst out. Charlie and I raised our eyebrows at her.

How in heaven’s name does she know a campground? She’s not what you call ‘the camping type.’

“I’d asked around about where to find an affordable place for my parents to stay. They want to come and visit me over the Christmas break,” she explained.  “My neighbors told me about it. They said it’s along the river north of town. It has cabins for rent at reasonable prices and a small cabin could easily sleep the three of us.”

My face lit up. “That’s a great idea. They might have a camp store too, with long-lasting food supplies.”

My thoughts drifted to movies with underground fallout bunkers. God only knew how long this sucker pandemic was going to last. When my attention came back to the conversation, I realized both Sue and Charlie didn’t comment on my practicality. They were too excited about the campsite.

“Yeah. Best of all it’s off the main roads,” Charlie said, staring into his own private universe while rubbing the stubble on his chin. Then his eyes snapped back to us. “We better go there as soon as possible. We probably aren’t the only ones who came up with the idea.”

“Are we going right now or tomorrow morning?” Sue asked. She shifted in her seat again.

I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. A surge of fear gripped me. It was as if a giant hand squeezed my insides, pushing adrenaline into the far corners of my body. This was really happening and it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. The idea of leaving Bullsbrook, my beautiful new hometown, made the whole dreadful situation so much more real. However, Sue’s question was pressing and a decision had to be made.

“I’d sleep better if we left tonight,” I said.

Charlie slammed his hands flat on the table, making Sue and I jump.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go home, pack our stuff and meet at Kate’s. She’s the only one with a car.” He stared us down until we both agreed. “And only pack the essentials!” he added as he leaned toward Sue. I turned my head to see Sue’s reaction.

“What?” she asked innocently, shifting her eyes from Charlie to me, seeking back-up against his insinuation.

“Don’t get carried away, Sue,” I said. “My car may have five doors, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lot of space in the trunk.”

Sue opened her mouth in protest but couldn’t find a good excuse. Charlie chuckled.

The two of them hurried to finish their beers while I left mine untouched since I was going to be the driver. We paid our bill and went on our way.

Living Like A Vampire is available on Amazon and KOBO.

How to begin writing a novel

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the local Writers Club again. One of our new members wants to start a book but doesn’t know where to begin. When I  myself decided to write, I just started. The first scene I wrote happened in the middle of the story (which I only discovered later), but this doesn’t work for everyone (and I wouldn’t suggest it either). Fortunately, I recently read about the snowflake method and could recommend it.

The Snowflake Method of Writing

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With this method, you start with one sentence which depicts the core of your story. In the next step, you expand that one sentence into a paragraph, outlining what happens in your story. Setup, major disasters, resolution. Next, you do this for each of your characters. If you don’t have a development for your characters during your story, your readers will find your characters flat and can’t connect with them which you don’t want. It also will give you more to write about as the direction of development for each character won’t always go along the same line, pace, direction. The fourth step is to expand each sentence into a whole paragraph. Next, you will be expanding what you’ve got even further. Once you’ve got the basic storyline, make a chart of the scenes. Each scene will have to depict a development. If there is no development in a scene (good turns bad, ideas change, emotions change), delete it as it is just page filler. You now put in more and more details, until you have a full story. An article in which it is explained in more detail can be found here.

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This is how I sort of began my third book, Killing A Vampire. I know the characters in it, I know what is going to happen, and how it’s going to end (I must admit this took me a while to figure out), but I didn’t know what was going to happen in between the major plot twists. I used Scrivener’s corkboard and note cards to layout the chapters/scenes.

I actually used the word count as a basis. Both my other books are about 72K words, so I wanted my third book to be at least this size. They both have about 60 chapters, so I created 60 note cards. It also meant that each chapter/note card needed to be about 1200 words. Then I started filling in on each card what would happen in that chapter. Sometimes I write more words, sometimes I write less. The good thing about Scrivener is that you can move the cards around as you please. Overal I want to stick to the 1200 words, so readers can read the short chapters while they have a little time to read and not have to cut off their reading while something major is happening.

It’s perhaps not as creative as some ‘on the fly’ writers write, but I’ve been thinking for a long time about this story and, even though I know in advance where the story is going, the how is still created only once I sit down and write. I just don’t have to think about the why and where anymore, which I feel is like a weight off my shoulders.

If you have a different way of starting a novel, let me know. I’m all ears 🙂

PS: Talking about ears, my hearing aids are working fine again after the swimming pool disaster last Monday!

 

Can you believe it?

 Vampires are real!

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I had to read it twice, but it appears that there are people in this world that think vampires are really real. And it’s causing mass hysteria. Read all about here.

 

Everything You Expect From A Vampire Book!

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I just found out I have another review for Raising A Vampire! This time the reviewer is from closer to home (Aberdeenshire). Boris must have seen my add on a local Facebook page 🙂 . Here’s what he said:

4.0 out of 5 stars Bloodsucking, romance and betrayal

“Set a few years after the first book, Kate and Charlie’s daughter Sue is now 8 years old but looks twice that age. Sue’s true nature is revealed when she defends her mother from an attack. Soon they find themselves held prisoner in a facility especially designed for suckers. There’s bloodsucking, romance and betrayal: in short everything you would expect from a vampire book.”

Glad you enjoyed it, Boris, and thank you so much for the review!

New short stories

I haven’t been posting them for a while, but I’ve got a few short stories I’ve written for the local Writers’ Club. They are about 1000 words long and a nice read, if I may say so myself. I’ve added them to the Short Stories section in the Top Menu and they’re called:

I hope you like them 🙂

 

 

FREE on Amazon September 25!

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For another few hours only, you can still get this awesome book FREE!

Hidden somewhere in the High Alps is a mysterious Crystal that gives incredible power to whoever possesses it. The Shifters Alliance has one final chance to find the Crystal before the murderous apes and their evil master get their hands on it.

But as Carter guides the Snow Bears into the lost lands to recover the Crystal, they discover – too late – that they’ve been betrayed. The heroes have walked right into a trap.

With the Crystal on its way to the evil one, it is left to Kerri to rescue Carter and the Bears and prevent the evil forces from using the Crystal’s power to destroy their world.

The Shifters Alliance prepares for a final stand in this gripping chapter of the Changing Times series.

I’ve begun reading this book and it’s a great read. It drops you immediately into the action and Shaun Griffith makes you feel immediately what relationship there is between the characters. The love between Kerri and Carter, the camaraderie between Carter and the Snow Bears, the urgency to get the Crystal to a safe place. Can’t wait to find out how it all goes.

You can get Part 3 of Changing Times on Amazon.

Writing Update – 14 days

I promised to give you updates on my writing of Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy, but I find it hard to find the time. Even though I’ve begun writing Book 3 a fortnight ago, I’ve only written a full four days. In that time, I’ve gotten halfway to Chapter 9. I’ve set myself a goal of 1200 words per chapter (as this is the average in the other two books), and I’m well above this with 10,399 words so far. I’m happy with that.

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So far, Charlie has gone missing and Kate just found out who’s behind it. She’s met the DI in charge, Grayson (see images above), and there is a spark between him and her sister, Julie. I had so far kept Julie’s love interest rather vague as I didn’t know what to do with it. She ran an all-girls pack during Black October, but never got involved with one of the girls. Duncan was interested in her, and she strung him along, but she never got involved with him. There had to be a love interest for Kate in this book and I thought for a moment it was going to be Grayson. It didn’t feel right, rather awkward actually. And when Julie and Grayson met, the puzzle pieces fitted. Julie falls for older men!

Don’t worry, I have already found that love interest for Kate. Yes, she still loves Charlie, and I’m not saying she’s making the same mistake as she did with Caleb. She learned her lesson. So what’s going to happen is going to be a surprise 🙂 .

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So, which is your favorite Grayson image? His characteristics are the gray hair at the temples and being an ‘older’ man (keeping in mind that Julie is in her mid-thirties). I actually think No.2 and No.3 are the same man at different ages. I have no idea who they are. I could have put George Clooney in there as well, but I didn’t want to be that cheesy. If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

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It’s official! Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy is being written!

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This morning I turned my social media off and opened Scrivener to begin writing the last installment of the Suckers Trilogy. Two hours later, chapter one is written.

It is such relief. I have waited so long to do this. The main story line exists in my head, but I can’t wait to flesh it out ‘on paper’ and find out where my characters are taking me this time. I may have the ending plotted, but that doesn’t mean I’ll get there. Kate may take a completely different route. Who knows?

I’ll try and keep you up to date (without any spoilers) of my trials and tribulations on this final epic journey of Kate and her family.

If you haven’t had the chance yet to get acquainted with Kate, now is your chance. Book 1 of the Trilogy is on SALE, but only until the 16th of September. You can get your copy on Amazon or KOBO.

Book 1 of the Suckers Trilogy Now On SALE

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Header image by Aris Sfakianakis

Killing A Vampire – Playlist

The Music I’ll be listening to when writing Book 3

I’m on the brink of writing Killing A Vampire and I’ve made a playlist to get me in the mood. I’ve written Book 1 and 2 with music from the albums Just Great Songs 2014 and 2015. I was amazed how many of those songs fit my stories.

Killing A Vampire is going to be a lot darker than the previous installments as it is the final of the Suckers Trilogy, hence the music is a lot darker too. My favorite is Arsonist’s Lullaby by Hozier at the moment (I play it so often until I will come to hate it 🙂 ). Drink the Water by Justin Cross is coming in at a good second place. The song has nothing to do with the story. I just like the tone it sets. The songs are not in a particular order, they don’t ‘tell the story.’ Let me know if you know any of the songs and what your favorite is.

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Header image by Diego Sulivan