For three days only, Killing A Vampire is for sale on Amazon for $0.99! Grab your copy before the price goes up!
For three days only, Killing A Vampire is for sale on Amazon for $0.99! Grab your copy before the price goes up!
You’re probably wondering what happened as there haven’t been any posts this week. That’s because I’ve been working day and night to get my book finished. I started writing in October last year, and I feel like I haven’t stopped since. It took me about a month to write the story, but then the editing process took forever. Like with my second book, the editor of my first book didn’t have the time to help me out, so I did it on my own with all the help I could get. I felt confident I could pull it off this way as I learned a lot since writing Book 2 (in 2015). I still have a lot to learn, but I’m getting better at it all the time. Hopefully, it shows in this book.
I’ve now got to organize the promotion for the launch next. I’ve never had a good launch for a book. The first time I was such a noob and had no idea about launches. I put it on Amazon and watched its ranking plummet into the depths. The second time, I did try to promote it, but everything went wrong. The person I hired to advertise on Twitter didn’t do it, and instead of buying a FreeBooksy ad, I bought a BargainBooksy ad. By the time I realized this, it was too late to change, so there was no ad at all. This time, I’m hoping to do it right 🙂 . Keep your fingers crossed for me!
PS: This means I’ll also be too busy to post a weight loss update or a new short story. Sorry guys!
As I’ve been too busy finishing Killing A Vampire, I’ve not had the time to interview other authors or write a short story this week. Instead, I’m going to give you a sneak peek of the first chapter of Book 3, the last one of the Suckers Trilogy. Enjoy!
My decision to go on national television meant all my hopes and dreams for a quiet suburban life would forever be lost. Yet here I was, my hands sweaty and my breathing deliberate. It hadn’t been an easy decision as there were more consequences. There had always been protesters, sucker-haters, but this time they had shown up in great numbers at the entrance of the studio, trying to prevent me from going in. The guards had to protect me and get me safely from the cab to the entrance. It would only get worse now. It would also mean I would be in the public eye more frequent than ever before. More interviews, more paparazzi, more work. Something Charlie didn’t agree with.
I picked up Sonny to distract myself from the anticipation, and, while cuddling him, I waited for the signal.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kate Clarke!” I heard the woman’s voice say.
The man with the headphones and clipboard pointed at me. He mouthed, ‘You’re on,’ and my adrenaline level peaked.
“Let’s go, Mommy,” Sonny said, a broad smile on his face.
I stepped onto the stage, sincerely hoping I wouldn’t trip with my son in my arms. The bright stage lights shone in my eyes and their warmth hit me with equal surprise. Emma waited for me at the white couches. I put Sonny down before shaking her hand. She ruffled Sonny’s hair. The three of us sat on the comfy two-seaters; Emma on one, Sonny and me on the other. I had expected Sonny to cuddle up with me, but he decided to occupy the other half of the couch, his legs just not reaching the end of the seating cushion.
Please don’t let his shoes make any marks on the white fabric.
He bumped his feet together, never sitting completely still. When he caught my eye, he smiled at me.
“So glad you could make it, Kate. I see you brought your son, Sonny. Hi Sonny.” Emma beamed an extra broad smile at him. I presumed to make him feel at ease.
“Hi, Emma,” he said to her. I was so glad he wasn’t shy at all.
“Sonny, why don’t you give Emma the drawing you made for her?”
Sonny eagerly moved off the couch, took the drawing he had made out of his pocket, and handed it to Emma.
“You’re not going to bite me when I take it, are you?” Emma said to Sonny. He hesitated to answer, turning to me for help. “Just kidding, kiddo.” She took the paper from Sonny’s hand and with her other hand ruffled his hair again. “Aw, thank you, sweetie. That’s so cute. It’s me holding hands with Kate and Sonny.” She showed the drawing to the audience. One of the cameramen ran up to take a close-up shot of the stick-figure drawing which instantly appeared on the big screen behind us. The audience ‘aw’d’ with Emma.
I patted the couch where he had sat a moment ago. Sonny climbed back onto the couch but cuddled up to me this time.
“You call him Sonny because he’s your son. And of course, it’s a good shortening of his full name, Nelson. Nellie would sound a bit strange.” The audience laughed. “He isn’t the son of your partner though, is he?”
“No, Sonny was conceived as a cruel experiment in the sucker internment camp.”
“That must have been a terrible experience for you. Good things have come from it though. One of them is sitting right next to you.” She smiled at Sonny again. “Isn’t he adorable, ladies and gentlemen?”
The audience agreed. I hugged Sonny as I completely agreed with Emma. “Another result of your predicament was that you became the head figure of SAM, the Suckers Acceptance Movement in Maine. Can you tell us a bit more about what SAM does?”
I shrugged as I let go of Sonny and leaned forward.
“SAM tries to help integrate suckers into everyday life. When the Succedaneum virus plagued the world during Black October thirteen years ago, a lot of lives were lost. People blamed suckers for it, but it was actually the government who was the cause of the sucker pandemic as they made the virus and failed to contain it. People infected with it had no choice but to act upon their bloodlust. They aren’t to blame. The vaccine they created eradicated most suckers from the planet, but there were cases in which it didn’t work, when vaccination was too late to have any effect. These people will always be suckers, even though they didn’t ask for it.
Most children conceived during Black October ended up in an internment camp, but some parents were able to keep their sucker children out of the hands of the government. They kept them in hiding from the public out of fear of retribution. These children deserve to have a normal life as well. Sucker children should be able to grow up, have friends, and have a happy future like any other child. SAM is trying to help people accept suckers into their communities and to not be fearful of them. They are normal people with a disease, a manageable disease. Suckers aren’t a threat to society anymore.”
“That’s so true,” Emma said, “and you, of all people, know this first hand because you have two sucker children, don’t you? Sonny, who is here with us today, and Sue, your older daughter. How old is Sue now?”
“Officially, Sue’s twelve years old, but because sucker children grow twice as fast, she’s already a fully grown adult. Sonny looks like he’s four, but he’s only two years old.”
“And they don’t display any of the aggressive behavior suckers did during Black October?” Emma asked. “Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it; people fearing we’ll have another Black October on our hands if we let suckers loose into the world.”
“Absolutely not. Sucker children need a strict upbringing, I don’t deny that. They need to be taught to be gentle as they are a lot stronger than other children. Otherwise, they are as playful, strong-willed, and cuddly as any other child. They still need to be loved.”
“What about the older suckers? The ones for which vaccination came too late? Are they a threat to us? I mean, I don’t want to walk next to one and he suddenly ‘fancies a snack.’” The audience laughed at Emma’s comment. I didn’t find it funny at all.
“There are still some suckers that have lived underground since Black October and haven’t changed their attitude. SAM is there for these people as well. Once these individuals are discovered, SAM will guide and counsel them. With the help of the Army, we rehabilitate them, so they can live in our society once more. As you know, there is a mandate for every sucker to register and requiring them to give a DNA sample, so that if a biting incident happens, authorities will be able to tell which sucker has been the perpetrator. This system for suckers is similar to the fingerprint system used by the justice department for virus-free humans.”
“That’s so comforting to hear. Now, I can’t keep my eyes off your son as he’s so adorable. He must be very special to you.”
“He sure is, Emma.” Sonny just sat there, taking it all in his stride. It always amazed me how ‘grown up’ he was. As if he was an old soul.
“He’s actually very special in a broader sense, isn’t he? What time is it now? Early afternoon?” Emma made a show of looking at her watch. “And you both came here by cab. No under-cover-of-darkness stuff.”
“That’s right. Sonny’s extra special because he’s a daywalker.”
“And not only a daywalker but also a half-blood which means he doesn’t drink blood but eats meat, or so I’m told. Is this correct?”
“Yes, it’s true. As a daywalker, he isn’t affected by sunlight, and because he’s a half-blood, his diet isn’t limited to blood alone. He can also eat meat, but only raw meats.”
“So, wouldn’t it be handy if all suckers become meat-eating daywalkers? Problem solved?”
“I wish it were that easy, Emma, but there’s only a small window during the incubation of the virus when suckers can become daywalkers. Unless their mother was a daywalker, children are born true suckers and photo-phobic for life. It lessens over time, but they will always be affected and move slower. There also aren’t many half-bloods around. Only a few special individuals appear to be immune to the aversion to mate with ‘the others,’ so to speak, and create a half-blood. I’m extremely lucky that both my children have come from such a union. They are both able to eat meat.”
“I can’t imagine what that would do to your grocery bill,” Emma replied, and of course the audience laughed again. “It’s better than getting blood from heaven knows where, though. Tell me, where do suckers get their blood from?”
“The virus changes the body, so, just like cats can’t be vegetarians, suckers need to drink blood to survive. Fortunately, suckers can survive on animal blood which has been a huge waste product from slaughterhouses, and until recently, only a part of it was used to make fertilizer and food additives for animal feed. Most of it was dumped in sewers or landfill. Now it fills a gap in the market. It’s treated to prevent the spread of diseases like mad cow disease, and bagged blood is currently available for human consumption in supermarkets, next to the blood sausages. It’s one of the major triumphs of SAM’s efforts.”
“I don’t know if you know this, but I’m actually a vegan, and I’ll tell you, my stomach content is churning with all this talk about consuming blood. I think it’s time we end this conversation. It’s been so nice talking to you and hearing about all the good work you’ve been doing with SAM for suckers. I wish you all the best.”
“Thanks, Emma. Thank you so much for having us on the show.”
Emma rose from her seat, and so did Sonny and I.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Kate Clarke and her son Sonny!”
I waved to the audience as they applauded. Sonny copied me. We followed the instruction we had received earlier to leave the stage on the opposite side of where we had come from. Once backstage, a woman took off my microphone and guided us to the room downstairs where our belongings were. I took off the make-up applied earlier and put my jacket back on. I then put Sonny in his jacket and gave him a kiss.
“Time for us to leave, Little Man. Let’s see if we still have a home to go to.”
Copyrighted (c) by Jacky Dahlhaus
Killing A Vampire will be available very soon!
Why not catch up with what happened to Kate before and check out Book 1. Living Like A Vampire and Book 2. Raising A Vampire? You can find them in on Amazon and on KOBO, but when you buy them from my bookstore, you’ll get a 20% discount! 🙂
Sandra Bass Joines is a sweet lady I met through One Stop Fiction. Sandra has written a book on spine surgery recovery and a romantic suspense novel called Tears of Sand. Most recently, i.e. last weekend, she has published her second romantic suspense novel called Shoe in the Road. It’s a story about a woman finding a shoe in the road. Oh, and about finding true love after leaving a cheating husband and a suspenseful road trip. Let’s talk to Sandra to find out more about this strangely titled novel!
Hi Sandra 🙂
Thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to share a little about my latest novel SHOE IN THE ROAD and how it came about.
It’s a strange title. Can you tell us how you got it?
Titles come to my mind before stories do. The title for this last novel, for instance, popped into my mind one day when I saw a shoe in the middle of the road. I thought that would be an interesting name for a book – shoe in the road. I had no idea what it would be about or anything regarding characters. I sat at my computer one day and typed Shoe in the Road on the first page. I then closed my eyes and listened (I try to listen, not think). At this point, the idea presented itself to have a shoe influence the lives of the heroine and hero.
So, after you had the title, how did you come up with the story?
The story pretty much wrote itself. Well, I have to give some credit to the heroine’s conversations with her deceased grandmother’s ashes (don’t worry, they were in an urn) and an ornery cat who invited himself into the story. I’m a southern girl who can spin quite a yarn. Therefore, it seemed logical that a girl running from a controlling, cheating husband would certainly be more interesting escaping in a 1960 Coupe de Ville convertible named Gussie than in a traditional vehicle.
Why did you use this setting for your novel?
A showdown between Boston Calbreth, the heroine, and her husband made sense to happen in a place I have heard scary stories about all my life. Tales of people going into Tate’s Hell Swamp and never coming out have been passed down from one generation to the next.
How long did you take to write the story?
It took six weeks to write the novel and a year for revising and editing. I have more stories in my head than I have time to write. I plan to put as many as possible on paper.
How did you experience the launch of your book?
I am in the middle of a launch using a four-day free promotion and a four-day ninety-nine cent promotion before raising the book to full price. So far, everything has been running smoothly. Each time I make a scheduled change, I am afraid of doing it incorrectly or concerned that Amazon or one of the promotion companies will not come through. I am enjoying the ride, and am grateful to all the wonderful people who are supporting me.
Sorry everybody, but the four-day free promotion has passed. The book is still in the £0.99 promotion (US$1.38) period for a few days, though. I have read the book and it is a lovely story. I liked the way Sandra writes, as if talking to a friend (which Boston’s Grams is, of course). Don’t miss this opportunity to grab it while it’s on sale!
You can buy Sandra Bass Joines’s books on Amazon.
Today, I’m introducing to you… Terry Marchion. I met Terry online through One Stop Fiction. He is a lovely man who doesn’t mind going out of his way to help a fellow writer (he’s one of my beta-readers and my writing would be terrible without him). He has written three sci-fi novels about Christopher and his uncle Tremain, who live on a space colony called New Earth. Terry gives us a peek into his WIP, The Misplaced Mentor. It’s the fourth book in the Adventures of Tremain & Christopher series, so be sure to read all the way till the end :). But first, let’s get to know Mr. Marchion a bit better.
Are you a full-time writer?
Ok — I’m not a full-time writer — I do hold a day job, which sucks away a lot of my time – eventually, I’d love to write full-time, but I’m not there yet. I’ve always written – in one way or another, but I’ve never had the confidence to pursue it. When I was around 18 or so, I did submit a short story but was promptly rejected. That colored my dreams for quite a few years until 2016, when I submitted a pitch on a twitter event. I received a few replies of interest but was rejected then too – go figure. But, thinking that others could read AND like my work inspired me to go the indie route and do it all myself.
What do you like about writing?
I like the freedom writing gives me — it’s sometimes frustrating, but also very liberating. I’m satisfying my need to be creative and hopefully being entertaining at the same time.
What don’t you like about writing?
I don’t care for the politics around writing — I’ve come to like the process of writing and formatting and having others beta read — the rest is work. LOL — but I’m learning to embrace the work too.
Who should read your writing?
People should totally read my stuff if they like fun adventures with a sci-fi bent to them. Think the old serials of the 40’s — Buck Rogers, for instance, or the episodic tv shows we all watched like Lost in Space, Star Trek, Doctor Who — that’s the spirit this adventures series is written in.
What is the best thing you’ve learned about writing?
The best lesson I’ve learned is to be persistent and never to give up.
What is the worst thing you’ve learned about writing?
The hardest lesson I’ve learned is to be persistent and to never give up. I want it all NOW dammit!! LOL
Where do you write?
Where do I write? Everywhere! I don’t have a dedicated writing spot — I tend to feel constrained if I can only create in one place — I use a laptop or a tablet/keyboard combo or just a pen and paper to get my thoughts down. I eventually go solo on the laptop to put it all together. But at least I’m writing.
What is the most memorable sentence you’ve written?
I’ve yet to come up with a consistent writing schedule, but I’m working on that.I don’t have a memorable line yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully, one of my characters will spout something I just can’t predict.
Thank you so much, Terry, for sharing this with us. I’m sure we all can do with that boost to never give up! They say great writers are the ones that don’t quit, so I clink my glass to you and will keep on writing!
Without further ado, here’s that special snipped I promised you from Terry’s fourth book, The Misplaced Mentor, which is to be released soon.
Marjorie’s apartment sat in the middle of the city, just off from the bazaar. Tremain and Markus walked the short distance from the lab complex, past the flapping tents and awnings of the bazaar, down to the residential area, overlooking the coast. The austere building was built around a park, complete with park benches and walking paths. The pair walked up the stairs to Marjorie’s apartment in silence, the smell of stale air, cooked food and paint heavy in the corridor. Once outside the door, Tremain consulted his tablet.
“Well, you are right, it shows she’s inside. Well, at least her tablet is.”
“What if she’s injured . . . or worse?” Markus whispered.
Tremain turned to his friend.
“Have you regressed to a teenager again?” he scoffed, “you’re jumping to conclusions,” Tremain gestured to the door. “after you.”
Markus knocked on the door. There was no answer. He gripped the door handle. It buzzed in answer. Naturally, it was locked.
“Oh, it’s a biometric lock. Only Marjorie can unlock it.”
Tremain nudged Markus aside.
“Or someone with a key,” he said as he pulled a device from his lab coat. He fit it around the handle and pushed a few buttons. In seconds, the lock clicked open, pinging in acceptance. “There, we’re in.”
“Tell me we didn’t just break the law,” Markus asked.
“Of course not, who do you think helped Marjorie design that lock? Naturally, I had a back door for emergencies.”
Markus sighed in relief.
“Good. I didn’t want the authorities called down on us.”
Tremain shook his head.
“Need I remind you that YOU are one of the authorities?”
“I suppose you’re right. Come on, let’s go in.” He pushed the door open, ready to enter, but Tremain held him back.
“Hold on, let me look first.” He said as he pushed past his friend.
“Why? What do you think you’ll see?”
Tremain stood just inside the doorway, scanning the areas he could see. No bodies visible, so that was a positive.
“I’m just seeing if there is anything out of place.”
“You’ve been here recently?”
“No, I’ve never been here, but there’s a lot you can deduce from what you see initially,” Tremain stepped into the apartment, beckoning Markus to follow, “for instance, she’s not much into decorating, is she?” He gestured to the walls, which were bare, save for a few small pictures. The furniture was functional, but not cozy. The apartment’s front door opened into the living area of the apartment. Directly in front of them was a short hallway which led to the bedrooms and bathroom and off to the right was the kitchen.
Tremain and Markus stood in the center of the living room. The coffee table was littered with some papers and pamphlets. Markus walked through the kitchen to the bedrooms while Tremain leafed through the papers. He picked one at random and frowned when he looked at it. A photo of a plot of land appeared at the top, with a description of the property below it. At the very bottom was the agent’s details. The next few papers were the same, a piece of property, some large, some small, but all were offered by the same agent. He checked the dates.
All were printed at least six or more months ago. He scratched his head as he pulled up one of the pamphlets. A brochure about a construction company. Another was regarding refrigeration processes and equipment. Tremain’s frown deepened. Markus came from the bedrooms, shaking his head.
“She’s not here. I did find her tablet, on her bed. She didn’t want to be tracked down.”
Tremain showed him the real estate listings.
“She was looking at land all over the place. And,” he pointed at the various brochures, “she was building something,” He scratched his head again, “something secret. She didn’t want anyone knowing about it or we’d have heard.”
“So what does this all mean?” Markus grumbled, “Where is she?”
Tremain crossed his arms as he thought.
“She’s definitely not on one of her sabbaticals, that’s for certain,” He paced the room, “she’s consulted with an agent for land, so I think that’s where we go next.” He stopped pacing and slapped Markus on the arm. “A perfect job for a Senator. You find out where she bought land, and I’ll investigate these disturbances.”
Markus nodded and left on his mission.
Tremain lingered just a bit, glancing around the apartment. To be honest, it reminded him of his own. He spent more time in the lab than at home, so it made sense to keep it sparce. Even in her retirement, Marjorie hadn’t made her apartment more cozy, which implied she spent more time elsewhere. Something caught his eye. In the corner of the doorway was a scattering of dirt. He knew he and Markus hadn’t tracked anything in, so where did this come from? He knelt down and felt the dirt. It had a fine grain feel to it, almost like sand. He gave it a sniff, but couldn’t detect anything. The beach wasn’t that far, definitely in walking distance. She must have brought some sand in with her when she went for a walk. Filing that away for later, he locked up the apartment and headed back to the lab.
You can find all of Terry Marchion’s book on Amazon.
I don’t think I’ve shown you my ad for Killing A Vampire yet. I’m pretty proud of it as I put it together by myself. Here it is.
I’m still working 24/7 on editing the book, but I assure you it will be out soon!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂 .
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!
Header image by Aris Sfakianakis
As I’ve just finished Book 2 of the Suckers Trilogy, I’ve already been looking out for songs to play while writing Book 3. As it’s going to be the grand finale of the trilogy, it’s going to be a lot darker than the first two books. Hence, the music is going to be dark as well.
I hadn’t heard of Hozier until his song Take Me To Church, which always reminds me of the Amazon series Preacher. I don’t know how I came upon the song Arsonist’s Lullaby, probably a follow-up on the YouTube list of Brothers Bright. It just sang out to me.
The song starts with two verses, followed by the chorus, and alternating a verse and chorus twice thereafter. If you follow the structure of a novel, this is comparable with the beginning, the middle, and the end. However, the beginning has two verses instead of one. That’s the hook. The story told in those two verses draw you in. What happens next? You want to hear the next verse.
Each verse can be seen as a chapter and has a character arch. Next to this, the verses tell the story of a man as he grows up. ‘When I was a child…’ is the start of the first and second verse. ‘When I was sixteen…’ is the opening line of the second verse, and the final verse starts with ‘When I was a man…’ Chronological story telling, working toward the climax of the present. What is he now, if not a man?
The chorus is the bit that intrigues me the most.
All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep them on a leash
The first sentence speaks of a very deep loneliness, the second of a need that helps to fill that loneliness. Why is he lonely? What is that place he needs to reach? The third and fourth sentence tell you about the darkness that surrounds this man. Why is he in this dark place? Why doesn’t he want to kill his demons?
The music begins with the acapella humming of a choir, quickly replaced by a powerful beat that stays steady throughout the whole song. It’s the backbone and gives the song its strength. When the chorus starts the first time, only angelic singing is added in the background, giving it an ominous feel. At the start of the third verse, maniacal piano tunes replace the choir and as the singer talks about the birth of an arsonist, it gives the song a destructive edge. Last verse is intensified by the voice of the singer, but ever so slightly, and the addition of cymbals. The drama of the song ends in the simplicity of only the voice of the singer and the beat, back where it began but with a history that is tangible.
You like Hozier’s voice or you don’t. I think it is perfect for this song as there is a lament to it that not everyone has. It adds drama and depth.
All in all awesome!
If only I could write a book as good as this song.
Kudos to VeritasProductions who edited her video (season 2 of Daredevil) to the beat. Her timing is perfect. I’m definitely going to watch the episodes now 🙂 .