Monthly Archives: July 2011

Lover’s Requiem: Chapter One

I’m posting this a few hours early as it’s the Racine County Fair this week.  I’ll be at the fairgrounds all day tomorrow, pretty much through Sunday, so I wouldn’t have time unless I did it now.  Trivia for this chapter at the end.  Here’s where the dark starts, people.

CHAPTER ONE- OUR FRIEND LAZARUS SLEEPS

Every day, he dreamed of that night. The soft touch of Brigett’s lips against his own. The love they had shared before the thief and his gun had shattered the night and their world. Diu, the vampire who had rescued him, helping him to his feet after the transformation had been complete for the time being. Taking off to find Brigett, only to find her and the thief dead a few alleys over, killed by who knew what. His dejected return to Diu who took him under his wing–literally– and brought him back to the oversized basement that served as a home for Diu and the others. For Diu was not the only one of his kind in the city, though he was among the oldest.

Diu had helped him to finish the transformation that night, performing the final transfusion that would change him for all eternity. When he had asked about the black wings, Diu had only smiled and didn’t bother to explain their presence beyond the word, “Magic.”

As he slowly slipped to a deep sleep, Diu told him that he would need a new name. He was no longer James. And he knew the elder vampire spoke true. A name came to him while he though about it. “Koios,” he said softly, not knowing where it had come from. He knew that he liked it though, and that it fit, so the name remained. “I am Koios.”

“Welcome, Koios,” Diu said with a small bow.

Every day, Koios dreamed of that night. And every night, he tried to forget it.

He was one of the undead now. Dead, but brought back to life much the way Lazarus had been returned to life by Jesus in the Bible. There had been no blood involved with that miracle. And no damnation of the soul.

When the sun went down, he awoke with his usual start of fear. The small room, no larger than a walk in closet, was pitch black as usual. Always, for the briefest of moments, he was afraid that he was dead once more. Then the feeling past and he remembered where he was.

Koios rose from his small bed and pulled on his pure black clothes he had taken to wearing. His hunger coursed though him, a reminder that he would need to feed that night for sure. If he did not, he would risk weakness that would render him unable to do anything but just lay there.

He stepped out of his room and found that, as usual, he was the first one awake. Their lair was little more than a forgotten basement of an abandoned building on the bad side of town. It had been divided into two parts: a communal room and the sleeping area, full of the closet-like rooms. No one ever bothered them though, or even seemed to know of their existence.

The communal room had several couches that Koios believed were just as old as Diu, if not older. Some of their number were sprawled across them, the dawn having caught them before they could retreat to the know safety of their rooms. The one called Lupus was wearing nothing more that a pair of jeans and had an old book spread open across his bare chest. Koios approached him and lifted the book to see what it was. “Dracula,” he muttered, a small grin on his face. Stoker’s novel was a source of never ending amusement for the vampires. The idea that they could change into animals or mist was laughable. There were a few things in the novel that were true, however, such as how to kill one of their own and the effects of sunlight.

Koios replaced the book and looked over at the clock on the wall. The days were growing longer now, though snow was still heavy upon the ground. The sun had just gone down and it was already almost six-thirty.

A noise from another part of his home drew his attention away from the clock. The noise was faint; if he had still been human, he could not have heard it. The others were waking.

In what almost amounted to a rush of bodies, the rest of the vampires joined Koios in the communal room. Lupus woke with a start behind him, nearly dropping the book on the ground. With his lightning fast reflexes though, he was able to catch it inches before it touched the hard stone floor.

The vampires gathered about, some slumping into couches and chairs while the rest remained standing, talking with one another. It was a mortal’s equivalent of a family gathering. Only this one happened every night.<

Koios wandered among them, smiling and nodding as needed. Off in the corner, he caught sight of the youngest member of there family: a girl maybe fourteen. Blood stained trails inched down her face as she tried to cry. Koios ran through is mental list of names and determined hers to be Emaline. She had been transformed by Diu a few nights ago after she and her family had been victims of a robbery turned gang fight when others had showed up.

He knelt down next to her and wiped away a tear of blood. "Emaline," he spoke soothingly, using all the charm he had learned during his ten year tenure as a vampire. "It's alright, Emaline. You have nothing to be afraid of."

"I'm not afraid," she hiccupped out.

"Then what is it?"

"I miss my family."

Koios gave her a gentle smile that hid his teeth. It wouldn't do to frighten the girl even more. "I know. But we are your family now. And though it hurts, you must stay strong. We are the few, the lucky," he said, quoting almost word for word what Diu had told him that night after he had seen Brigett's broken body there before him. "We are eternal."

"But my family isn't here!" she said, staring up at his pale face.

He gently reached out to grab her hand. His was near white, having lost all pigmentation long ago since he was no longer in the sun. Hers, on the other hand, was still tan with color. "We will stand by you as if you were our own flesh and blood," he said softly. "I will take care of you."

"You mean it?" she questioned quietly.

"With all my heart and upon the Codex I swear it." He rose, taking her with him. "Come. Let's see if I might go out early with you so that you might get something to eat."

"Like McDonalds?"

Koios cringed inwardly. Emaline still wasn't totally aware of what it meant to be vampire. She didn't know that she wouldn't be able to stomach anything but the blood and its energy for the rest of eternity of that she would remain as a fourteen-year-old forever. But he couldn't bring himself to be the one to tell her that. So instead, he nodded and said, "Perhaps." Then he looked over his shoulder at the room that was nearly full. He held out his hand to her again. "Shall we go, my tiny Lazarus?"

She took it and looked up his tall, thin frame to the face obscured by hair. "Who is Lazarus?"

"A character, or a person if you'd rather, in the Bible. He was one Jesus supposedly brought back to life after he had died," he explained, thereby exhausting his knowledge of the Bible and the majority of the stories within.

Like Diu did with me," Emaline said as she caught on.

"Like he did for most all of us here," Koios said softly. He led her over to an open spot by one of the couches and sat down. She followed suit.

“What's your name?" she asked suddenly.

He was caught off guard by the question. She had to repeat it a second time before he was able to answer. "I'm Koios," he told her.

"No. Your real name."

He gritted his teeth together in an attempt to control his anger. He could not attack her. She was but a fledgling, fresh into her life as a vampire. "I am Koios," he repeated, enunciating every syllable to every word.

"How did Diu save you?"

"What?"

"My parents and I were caught in a robbery gone wrong. Diu came and offered to change me so that I would be able to help my parents," Emaline explained. "I said yes. But my parents were both dead by the time I got to them." She looked up at his face once more. "What about you?"

Koios looked away and sighed quietly. Talking of Brigett and the past was something he tried not to do. It was also something he tried to forget. "I was shot trying to keep safe the one that I loved," he said simply.

"Do you still love her?"

"Yes," he admitted. "But it doesn't matter now. She died the same night I did." Koios sighed again. He was doing that more than he used to lately. "That was in another life though. I try to forget about it. As should you. You are no longer Miley." He ignored her shocked expression and continued on. "You are Emaline, beget of Diu, a member of Diu's Court." He looked up and saw that the vampire in question had finally entered the room. "Let's go get some food."

In the ten years since Koios had first seen him, Diu hadn't changed. His raven hair was still shoulder length and very straight. He green eyes were still bright and full of unshared laughter. Black, as with most everyone, remained the color of choice. The one thing that set him apart from the others was the way he carried himself. He looked older than his body, which was true. He was still in the visage of the 25-year-old he had been when he had been killed. But he was close to 300 now. Even so, he looked far older, worries no other had to face weighing upon his flawless and ageless face. The black wings Koios had come to associate with Diu were folded and behind him, blending with the duster had had on top of his clothes.

Koios nodded respectfully to him as he passed him by. Diu saw that he had Emaline in tow and gave him the briefest of smiles. "Take good care of her," he told him.

"I will," Koios responded, opening the door that lead to the world outside. He paused for a moment, breathing in the smell of the city night. Smoke, fear, sweat, tears; it was all there, each easy to pick out from the other. "Lazarus awakens," he said softly. Then he took off into the night in search of a meal.

°°°°
Trivia: I had to go searching to see who Lazarus was aside from a character in Dr. Who. I honestly had no idea, and had never heard of them before I started writing this. So what Koios says is truth for me as well.

Advertisements

Book Review Five: Cheaper by the Dozen by Gilbreth and Carey

This book remains one of my mom’s favorites to this day years after she first read it.  I remember reading it years ago, but I couldn’t remember anything about it.  So once my mother was finished with it, I took it and read it in a few nights.

Now, as this is technically Non-fiction, I wasn’t expecting Cheaper by the Dozen to be a fun read at all.  Not the case.  The two Gilbreth children who co-wrote this book knew how to take their childhood and put it into a form that was fun and enjoyable to read.

Anything that was sad was immediately followed by something that was at least a bit uplifting, even if it was a comment such as “well, now it’s up to me.  Think you can manage here alone?” that was seen at the end of the book.

Each chapter could be it’s own stand alone short story, but when read one after another, it paints a humorous, yet somewhat strange life of 12 children–six boys and six girls–living together in a house in then early 1900s.

Some of my favorite stories and life-instances are Dad teaching everyone morse code by painting it on the walls of their lake cottage, taking rides around the town in one of the earliest cars and having to fight with the car once it had stopped to get it running again, and how the eldest child, a girl, decided that she was just going to have to go get her hair cut in a bob, or else everyone younger than her would never manage to be fashionable because Dad just wouldn’t allow it!

Cheaper by the Dozen is a very short book, which makes it good for a bit of light reading just before bed.  Just, don’t expect to get to bed on time when you planned on it.  The Gilbreths are very good at sucking you into their life and charming you with their tales.

This book is nothing at all like the movie (indeed, the only thing they have in common is the title), and truly deserves five out of five stars.

Have a look at it

Cover art from: https://inkblabber.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/cheaperbythedozen-book.jpg


What Makes It Work (and What Doesn’t)

So, here we go then.  A line by line run through of what I did wrong here, six or seven years after I wrote this.

°°°°°°°°°°
Xzior awoke a few hours before dawn from a knock at the front door.  “Come in,” she said, her head still groggy.  For one thing, my grammar was atrocious here.  So I added in some commas and put the two lines together.

Drake walk in a moment later and  closed the door quietly behind him.  Xzior looked over and saw him in the coat with a shirt draped over his arm. I really need to learn to use personal pronouns here.  Xzior, this, Xzior that…man…that sucks

“Nice coat.  Who’d you rob?”
            “Surprisingly enough, no one.”  Drake responded.”  Person named Evan gave it to me after he and I faced down a mage that tried to kill me.”
“Any clue why he tried to?”  My gods, this entire dialogue section is so…stilted.  Let’s see what I can do to make it better.  “Nice coat.  Who’d you kill for it?”  “No one, actually.  Guy named Evan shoved it at me.  We killed a mage together.  Makes for fast friends,” Drake told her.  “A mage?  Why would a mage attack you?”

“Not one, except he said his ‘master’ had told him to.”

“Did you try to get more information about this master of his?”
            “It’s kind of hard to talk to a dead person you know.  He killed himself after he said that.”

 “I would’ve liked to learn more.”
           
“Funny, that’s the exact same thing I said.”  he looked around the room, and seeing no one around he asked hesitantly, “Mind if I crash here again tonight?  Or rather, today?”
           
“No, your room is still open.  It can be yours to keep if you want it.”
            “
Thanks.”  he said, going down the hallway.  A moment later, Xzior heard the door close.  Another awful exchange here, I think.  Let’s see…  “No idea why a mage would attack.  Just said that his ‘master’ had ordered him to.”  “Ordered him to?  What kind of person is a mage’s master?!”  “No idea.  Tried to ask, but rather hard to get info from a dead guy unless you happen to be one of those necromatic types”  “Still, I would’ve liked to have know more.”  “You and me both.”  He looked around, and then, embarrassment in his tone, asked, “So, mind if I crash here again tonight?  Or today.  Time’s confusing”  She sighed.  “No, go ahead.  At this point, the room’s yours.  Never get the vamp smell out of it.”  Drake rolled his eyes and went off down the hall.  A moment later, the noise of a door slamming shut could be heard throughout the house.
            
 “No problem.”  she muttered to herself.
            Xzior laid back down on the couch and tried to get back too sleep.  She couldn’t do it though.  Finally, she got up and started pacing about the living room, trying to make sense of here feelings and problems.  When that didn’t work, she went into the kitchen to make herself some hot tea.
           
She put water in an old, battered, copper kettle and turned on the stove.  Then she went over to the table and sat down, placing her head in her hands.
             
She awoke later to the sound of the kettle whistling.  She sighed and got up to turn off the stove.  Then she got out a coffee cup and waited for the tea to steep.  Then, with out bothering to add sugar, she drank it all down in three large gulps.  Great gods, but I use the word ‘then’ a lot…  Take the then’s out, this is actually…readable.  Huh, impressive for 14 year old me.
           
It seemed to calm here stomach enough so that she could get some sleep.  She went back to her couch to lay down again.  Little by little, she finally drifted into a dreamless sleep.
             
When she awoke the next morning, the sun was shinning directly into her eyes through the large, bay window behind her.  She got up and rubbed here eyes to try and wake up.
           
Eventually, she was able to get together a semblance of awareness and stumbled down the hall into here room.  There, she went to her closet to pick out here clothes for the day.  She finally decided on a black shirt with blue jeans and proceeded to change here clothes.  I’m the writer, and even I don’t care about her clothes…  Be a lot better if I just went….  ” She rubber her eyes and tried to wake up.  When she thought she could stand without falling back to the couch, she stumbled down the hall to her room for clothes.  ” and left it at that.
           
When she came out of her room, she went over to the bathroom to get here hairbrush, but the door was closed. Xzior knocked on the door loudly.
            “
What?”, sounded a voice form inside. Xzior recognized it as Millennium’s.
            
 “Millennium, it’s Xzior. Can I have my hairbrush and a ponytail?”   Of course it’s Xzior, you nit…It’s her house.  And why is she in the shower again?  Did I have her spend the night?  Bad author technique here.  Always remember where you put your characters.  And ‘knocked on the door loudly’ sounds…crappy.  Knocked loudly on the door is far better.
             
“Sure.”  Millennium responded. There was an opening of draws and a shuffling noise before the door opened a crack and Millennium hand appeared holding a hairbrush with a pony tail wrapped around it.
           
Xzior took it, and Millennium closed the door as soon as both of their hands were out of the way.
           
“Thanks girl.”   Once again…no idea on the dialogue here.  It’s just…not needed. at all. She said through the door.  Wandering down he hall, Xzior brushed here hair until all of the knots were out of it.  Then ah, my old friend ‘then’.  I see we meet again., as she entered the kitchen, she put up here hair to prepare to face the day.  “Millennium,” she yelled over here shoulder,”  what do you want to eat for breakfast?”
           
“How about a bagel?”  Millennium responded, walking into the kitchen, drying her hair.  Wait, I had her in the shower? ….how did she hand out the hairbrush if she was in the shower?!
           
“Want cream cheese on it?”
            
 “No thanks.  I’ll just have it plain and toasted.”
           
“How about just plain and not toasted.  The toaster’s busted.”
           
“Fine.  Your toaster burnt everything anyway.”
             
Xzior rolled here eyes and got out the bag of bagels from the fridge.  “catch.”  she said, throwing a bagel to Millennium.
           
She made a dive, but missed.  She quickly picked it up and dusted it off. “five second rule.”  she explained, biting into it. I have yet to see why this is even important.  I could take out this whole scene if I just said “they had breakfast”.  I guess it shows their interaction and how good of friends they are, but that is also seen earlier when Millennium was in Xzior’s bathroom and no one blinked an eye at it.
           
“Ah.”  Xzior said, nodding. Then she got one out of the bag and bit into it. “Not bad.  I like them better toasted though.”
             
“Different strokes for different folks, I guess.”
           
Xzior nodded. “True.”  I’m taking the above three lines out.  Just…useless.  And it really slows the flow of the story.
            
 A little later, when they were done with their breakfast, there was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it.”  said Millennium, getting up.  She opened up the front door and Evan was standing there.  Bad author!  bad author!  Only Drake has met Evan at this point.  They have no idea who the strange man is at their door!
           
“Excuse my bluntness, but who the hell are you?”  …as evidenced by this.
          
  “I’m Evan McCloud!  I wandered into that alley back there and next thing I knew I was here.”
           
“Like hell you did.  How long did you practice that speech?”
           
“Not once.”
           
“It shows.” Millennium turned towards Xzior. “Can I kill him?  Please?!”  Um…..no idea what I was thinking for this exchange. If a strange man showed up on my doorstep, I wouldn’t answer the door, and I wouldn’t leave it open as I talked to the house owner
           
“What did you say his name was again?” said Xzior, getting up off the couch.
             
“I’m Evan McCloud.  I said that before.”
            
 “Would you by chance know a Drake?”
             
“Yeah, met him last night, why?”  Were I writing this now, I would have Evan say that he had met Drake immediately. Would make more sense as to why Xzior isn’t just tossing him off her doorstep
           
Xzior turned to Millennium,  “Sorry, no killing him today.  Can’t win or rather…kill them all.”  Bad joke is bad.  This….this just needs to go.
           
Xzior laughed then turned back to Evan.  “What are doing here?”  I mention names too often here.  Embrace the pronouns! And I really need to vary up how the sentences are structured. 
           
“Would you believe I just stumbled in?”
           
“No.”
           
“Didn’t think so.”
          
  “Then why’d you try?”
          
  “It was worth a shot.”
           
“I’ll give you brownie points for that.  Now tell me, why are you really here?”
             
“Alright. Last night, Drake told me that he was hopefully going to be staying with you.  I ended up following him and saw him disappear into the alleyway.  I hung out there until this morning when I went through and came here. I had a hell of a time trying to find your house.  You should put up maps that have a little star on them saying ‘You are here’ or something” This would be a far better start to that conversation than what was just above.  Take all of above out after Millennium opens the door and begin it here.  As long as I take out the bit about “little stars”.
            
 “That makes things to easy for unwanted visitors.  At least I know they have to work in order to find their way to my house.”  Xzior said,  wandering back into the living room.  Millennium followed her a moment later with Evan directly behind her.
          
  “So, can I stay here?”  He asked hopefully.  Wait…wait…why does he need a place to stay and why is the H in he capitalized?!  Oh, the questions I give myself
           
“What do you think Millennium?  Do we keep ‘em or turn him away?”
           
“I think we give him a trial run.  You know, see if he knows how to clean up after him self and not burn the macaroni and cheese.”
           
“You did that?” asked Xzior.
            
 “Off topic, but yes I did a long time ago.  I’ve become a much better cook since then.” 
           
“I’m not anxious to test that theory if you don’t mind me saying so.”  See, now this exchange about mac and cheese I like.  It shows that the two women are comfortable around one another
           
“I don’t care.”  As long as I end it before this line.
           
“Alright then Evan,”  started Xzior, “you can stay.  There’s a room up the stairs behind you there that you can stay in.”
           
Evan turned around and didn’t see any stairs.  “What stairs?”
           
Millennium waved here right hand about and abruptly, a set of stairs with rooms at the end of it appeared.  “Those stairs.  Now Get!”  she said, pushing Evan towards the stairs.  Magic house yay!…….So totally should have planned that better rather than have magic fix everything
             
“I’m going.  Relax.” he said, shaking her off.  Come to think of it, did I even have a reason for Evan to move in with Xzior aside from ‘need to get everyone into the same house asap’?  And why the same house…
           
Xzior and Millennium plopped down on the couch together and sighed.  Xzior turned to Millennium and said.  “I need a bigger house.”  Pronouns!  I miss you!  Come back!
           
“Yeah, “ she replied, “ that you do.”

For your enjoyment

Talking with Liz of Green Eye Editing tonight, we discussed some of our earliest writings and how we have improved since then.  My first story was that of a vampire named Drake Coldheart.  And while writing it, I fell into every single writing pitfall and cliche that there is. The vampire was GOOD because…because…he was.  And EPICLY POWERED EVIL bad guys that want to RULE THE WORLD MWAHAHAHAHAH even though they have no reason to aside from the fact they can.  And character names that make NO SENSE, but sound epic, like Millennium, Rane, Xzior and Shayde.  Drake and Evan seemed normal compared to those. And Rane had a pet panther.

Yeah, I don’t know about that one either….

My writing was…atrocious and the dialogue wasn’t much better.

I still have it all.

So here, have an excerpt of the first (because all good fantasy books come in threes, thought 14/15 year old me, and mine is going to be AMAZING!) of Drake’s novels.  By the time I got around to writing the third, it was painful for me to go back and read this. So I like to think I got a lot better.  Tomorrow, I plan to go through this excerpt line by line and discuss what makes it work–and, more likely, what doesn’t.

Please, enjoy my humiliation. :)

Xzior awoke a few hours before dawn from a knock at the front door.
“Come in.” She said, her head still groggy.
Drake walk in a moment later and  closed the door quietly behind him.  Xzior looked over and saw him in the coat with a shirt draped over his arm.
“Nice coat.  Who’d you rob?”
            “Surprisingly enough, no one.”  Drake responded.”  Person named Evan gave it to me after he and I faced down a mage that tried to kill me.”
Any clue why he tried to?”
“Not one, except he said his ‘master’ had told him to.”
“Did you try to get more information about this master of his?”
            “It’s kind of hard to talk to a dead person you know.  He killed himself after he said that.”
 “I would’ve liked to learn more.”
           
“Funny, that’s the exact same thing I said.”  he looked around the room, and seeing no one around he asked hesitantly, “Mind if I crash here again tonight?  Or rather, today?”
           
“No, your room is still open.  It can be yours to keep if you want it.”
           
Thanks.”  he said, going down the hallway.  A moment later, Xzior heard the door close.
            
 “No problem.”  she muttered to herself.
            Xzior laid back down on the couch and tried to get back too sleep.  She couldn’t do it though.  Finally, she got up and started pacing about the living room, trying to make sense of here feelings and problems.  When that didn’t work, she went into the kitchen to make herself some hot tea.
           
She put water in an old, battered, copper kettle and turned on the stove.  Then she went over to the table and sat down, placing her head in her hands.
             
She awoke later to the sound of the kettle whistling.  She sighed and got up to turn off the stove.  Then se got out a coffee cup and waited for the tea to steep.  Then, with out bothering to add sugar, she drank it all down in three large gulps.
           
It seemed to calm here stomach enough so that she could get some sleep.  She went back to her couch to lay down again.  Little by little, she finally drifted into a dreamless sleep.
             
When she awoke the next morning, the sun was shinning directly into here eyes through the large, boy window behind her.  She got up and rubbed here eyes to try and wake up.
           
Eventually, she was able to get together a semblance of awareness and stumbled down the hall into here room.  There, she went to her closet to pick out here clothes for the day.  She finally decided on a black shirt with blue jeans and proceeded to change here clothes.
           
When she came out of her room, she went over to the bathroom to get here hairbrush, but the door was closed Xzior knocked on the door loudly.
           
What?”, sounded a voice form inside. Xzior recognized it as Millennium’s.
            
 “Millennium, it’s Xzior. Can I have my hairbrush and a ponytail?”
             
“Sure.”  Millennium responded. There was an opening of draws and a shuffling noise before the door opened a crack and Millennium hand appeared holding a hairbrush with a pony tail wrapped around it.
           
Xzior took it, and Millennium closed the door as soon as both of their hands were out of the way.
           
“Thanks girl.”  She said through the door.  Wandering down he hall, Xzior brushed here hair until all of the knots were out of it.  Then, as she entered the kitchen, she put up here hair to prepare to face the day.  “Millennium, she yelled over here shoulder,”  what do you want to eat for breakfast?”
           
How about a bagel?”  Millennium responded, walking into the kitchen, drying her hair.
           
“Want cream cheese on it?”
            
 “No thanks.  I’ll just have it plain and toasted.”
           
“How about just plain and not toasted.  The toaster’s busted.”
           
“Fine.  Your toaster burnt everything anyway.”
             
Xzior rolled here eyes and got out the bag of bagels from the fridge.  “catch.”  she said, throwing a bagel to Millennium.
           
She made a dive, but missed.  She quickly picked it up and dusted it off. “five second rule.”  she explained, biting into it.
           
“Ah.”  Xzior said, nodding. Then she got one out of the bag and bit into it. “Not bad.  I like them better toasted though.”
             
“Different strokes for different folks, I guess.”
           
Xzior nodded. “True.”
            
 A little later, when they were done with their breakfast, there was a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it.”  said Millennium, getting up.  She opened up the front door and Evan was standing there.
           
“Excuse my bluntness, but who the hell are you?”
          
  “I’m Evan McCloud!  I wandered into that alley back there and next thing I knew I was here.”
           
“Like hell you did.  How long did you practice that speech?”
           
“Not once.”
           
“It shows.” Millennium turned towards Xzior. “Can I kill him?  Please?!”
           
“What did you say his name was again?” said Xzior, getting up off the couch.
             
“I’m Evan McCloud.  I said that before.”
            
 “Would you by chance know a Drake?”
             
“Yeah, met him last night, why?”
           
Xzior turned to Millennium,  “Sorry, no killing him today.  Can’t win or rather…kill them all.”
           
Xzior laughed then turned back to Evan.  “What are doing here?”
           
“Would you believe I just stumbled in?”
           
“No.”
           
“Didn’t think so.”
          
  “Then why’d you try?”
          
  “It was worth a shot.”
           
“I’ll give you brownie points for that.  Now tell me, why are you really here?”
             
“Alright. Last night, Drake told me that he was hopefully going to be staying with you.  I ended up following him and saw him disappear into the alleyway.  I hung out there until this morning when I went through and came here. I had a hell of a time trying to find your house.  You should put up maps that have a little star on them saying ‘You are here’ or something”
            
 “That makes things to easy for unwanted visitors.  At least I know they have to work in order to find their way to my house.”  Xzior said,  wandering back into the living room.  Millennium followed her a moment later with Evan directly behind her.
          
  “So, can I stay here?”  He asked hopefully.
           
“What do you think Millennium?  Do we keep ‘em or turn him away?”
           
“I think we give him a trial run.  You know, see if he knows how to clean up after him self and not burn the macaroni and cheese.”
           
“You did that?” asked Xzior.
            
 “Off topic, but yes I did a long time ago.  I’ve become a much better cook since then.”
           
“I’m not anxious to test that theory if you don’t mind me saying so.”
           
“I don’t care.”
           
“Alright then Evan,”  started Xzior, “you can stay.  There’s a room up the stairs behind you there that you can stay in.”
           
Evan turned around and didn’t see any stairs.  “What stairs?”
           
Millennium waved here right hand about and abruptly, a set of stairs with rooms at the end of it appeared.  “Those stairs.  Now Get!”  she said, pushing Evan towards the stairs.
             
“I’m going.  Relax.” he said, shaking here off.
           
Xzior and Millennium plopped down on the couch together and sighed.  Xzior turned to Millennium and said.  “I need a bigger house.”
           
“Yea, “ she replied, “ that you do.”

Lover’s Requiem: PrologueI

Today starts a serial story called Lover’s Requiem.  I’m still working on finishing it, and I’m hoping that being forced to finish it so I can post it makes me work on it more.  This is all a rough draft of the novella as well.  I hope to be able to provide little bits of trivia about the writings as well as I continue on with it posting it.

Without further ado, here is Lover’s Requiem.

PROLOGUE- CROSSING THE RIVER STYX

The boy and the girl had been in love for as long as they could remember. Sometimes, it felt like forever in their minds. They knew each other so well that they could know what the other was thinking. Indeed, the two rarely had to say a complete sentence when talking.

He was tall, all lanky arms and legs. His hair was a mop of black strands that were in constant disarray. It was rare he went anywhere without at least one piece of black clothing on him. He was classified as a “freak” by others of society and often avoided because of it. But he didn’t care; he was comfortable with who he was. He had dark green eyes that darted everywhere, taking everything in. And his name, though later rejected, was James.

She was tall as well, but the height suited her. She did not look like a puppy still growing into his paws as James sometimes did. She was thin, wiry. Her long blonde hair matched her body. Her eyes were the blue of a warm ocean, though they were often narrowed in cynicism. She wore Celtic jewelry, silver in color, on her body in at least one place every day. Her skin matched her clothes: pale, almost ivory. At the time, she went by the name of Brigett.

The two stood in sharp contrast to one another. People wondered how they had fallen in love. Some days, they themselves wondered just how it had happened. But a look into each other’s eyes, and it became glaringly obvious once more: they were meant for each other.

But events greater than even their love were occurring, by beings more powerful than the two could imagine. And it was not long after James’s twentieth birthday that the first of these events transpired.

The two had gone out to one of the fancier restaurants in the city. She, dressed in a white dress, appeared to be an angel. He wore a black tux; even the shirt was the color of midnight. Together, they were two halves of the same picture, an idea that was lent credence once one realized they each had a half of the same Celtic knot on a chain about their necks.

The night was perfect when they left the small French restaurant. Uncountable stars filled the sky while the moon was just this side of dark. In the darkness of one alleyway, they waited for their cab, kissing in the dark. Neither paid much attention to what was going on about them.

As such, it was impossible for them to hear the approach of the thief on quiet feet.<

"Your money," he ordered, jamming the barrel of the pistol into the small of James's back. "Or I kill the girl."

James slowly nodded and reached into his back pocket drawing out his wallet. He pulled out the $40.00 that had been in it and passed it to the thief.

"All of it," the thief ordered.

"That's all I have," he replied softly.

"Then I take the girl," came the answer, the gun shifting over to train on Brigett.

"Run, Brigett!" James told her. She took off down the street. James threw himself at the thief in an attempt to give his love more time to escape. Frightened, the thief's finger twitched and the gun spat out a bullet. It ripped through James's body and bounced harmlessly off the brick building behind him.

James fell to the ground and lay on top of the thief. Still in shock, the thief pulled himself out from underneath the dying James and stared at him. Then, he transferred the gaze to the gun in his hand. He hadn't meant to kill anyone, just scare them. Money forgotten, he began to run in the direction Brigett had gone.

James lay on the sidewalk, the dark night growing darker around him as he lost contact with the world. He heard a fluttering noise from above and then a face appeared in his narrowing field of vision. At first, he assumed that it was only something he had created in his mind during his last moments.

Then the person knelt down beside him. "I can save you," he told James in a quiet voice. "But it must be your choice."

"What do you mean?"

The being pulled back his lips from his teeth and let that be his answer. "You know what I am."

"Yes. Vampire."

"I can save you," he repeated. "But it must be your choice. Do you wish to be like me in order to remain in this world a little longer?"

James though of Brigett, a girl whom he would do anything for. If he died, he would never see her again. Never again would he hear her voice or feel her feather light touch as her fingers tied his tie. For her, he would do anything; even become one of the damned. "Let me live," he whispered to the vampire.

"Very well," was the quiet reply. And he lowered his head and began to transform him.

~~~~~~~

Trivia: each chapter name, and the entire idea for this story, actually, comes from the CD called "Lover's Requiem" by the group "I Am Ghost".


Book Review Four: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front is the first of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher and remains one of my favorites.  It starts off with a quick introduction of Harry Dresden via the eyes of a new mailman.  Dresden is the only openly practicing wizard in the country and often does work for the Chicago Police when they have a crime they can’t solve.

Part wizard, part detective, Harry is called on by the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago PD when they come across two bodies who have had their hearts torn out of their chests and no one is sure what could have done it. 

Though, for Harry, black magic comes to mind.

Meanwhile, Dresden gets a job to look for a woman’s missing husband.  as he follows the clues that get him closer and closer to where Victor Sells might be, Harry finds himself tangling with vampires, the Fae, demons, even the local Mob boss, Gentleman Johnny Marcone.

Not to mention the other wizards who just don’t seem to trust Harry for one mistake he made in killing someone with magic when he was a kid.

As it turns out though, Victor Sells’ disappearance, the newest “hip” drug called Three-Eye and hearts being torn out of chests are all interconnected and the tangled web they each weave around Harry ends with him face to face with giant deadly scorpions, an insane warlock using black magic and a spell that will end his life if he can’t stop it in time.

The first book in the Dresden Files series, Storm Front is the work of a first time author.  Some of the dialogue seems stilted or forced and the attempt at humorous dialogue is sometimes contrived.  It takes the basic plot of a “urban fantasy” novel and flips it around enough so that it is doesn’t look like anything else.  With the 13th book coming out next week though, Butcher’s writing style has clearly improved and been perfected.  Plots are more original, and even off-hand comments in the earlier books begin to hold great significance in Dresden’s life.

The characters, on the other hand, are well fleshed out from day one.  They are lovable, hate-able, and there are times you just want to scream at them to stop being morons and run before the monsters get them. 

While the other books do improve, this first book isn’t the best in the series, something even Butcher admits to.  I give it four of five stars for character creation and the fact that the books get a lot better as the series rolls on.

If urban fantasy with non-stereotypical vampires, shape-shifting werewolves, faeries, magic and even zombies is your thing, then I highly suggest buying it here.

Cover photo from:  http://www.jim-butcher.com/store?cat=1


Post Potter Depression Reading List

Now, if you’re like me, you probably went to the midnight release of Harry Potter last night/this morning for the final movie.  And, when you walked out, you were on the “that was BRILLIANT” high.  But then you woke up.  And the Post-Potter Depression hit you.

“Now what do I read?” you’re asking yourself.  Well, here is my list of recommendations of books to help with PPD.

The first is So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane.  It was originally published in 1983 (Long before Potter Mania) and currently consists of nine books in the series.  This first book follows the tale of Nita Callahan as she discovers a book in the library while hiding from bullies tormenting her.  Called “So you want to be a wizard”, she takes the wizard’s oath in it that night, and awakens the next morning to find her name in the back of it as a wizard.  She meets Christopher “Kit” Rodriguez, a new wizard like herself, and together, the two of them find themselves caught in a plot that ends with them taking on the Lone Power in an alternate Manhattan to regain a book that has contained in it all that was and shall be before the Power can destroy Nita and Kit’s Manhattan for good.  Find a copy here

Now, if epic Fantasy is more your thing, and you have already gone through Tolkien, I suggest Elizabeth Haydon’s Symphony of Ages Trilogy, the first of which is called Rhapsody.  Published in 1999, there are now three other books besides, all detailing the lives of Rhapsody, Achmed the Snake and Grunthor.  The first tells the story of how the three meet, and, in an attempt to escape that which is chasing them, find themselves in the root system of the oldest tree in their world: one that mythology says goes all the way through the earth.  And it does.  They climb through it for what seems to be years for them, and when they finally make their way out of the other side, they find that 1000 years have passed and the country they left from is now gone, sunk beneath the seas.  In a new world, they need to find their own place while dealing with mistrust around them because they are of races that are not normally welcome.  Rhapsody can be found here.

Now, if vampires are more your thing, Jeanne C. Stein has a wonderful series called the “Anna Strong Series”.  They are shorter than Potter (around 300 pages) and the blurb on the back of the first book, The Becoming, compares them to “a cross between Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead series…and Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series”.  A bounty hunter, Anna Strong finds herself attacked one night, and when she wakes up, she’s…changed.  Vampires to her are a thing of myth, and as she struggles to come to terms with what she is, she must also decide if she will walk in the Mortal world, the darker world of vampires, or both, and who she’ll trust in this new society she finds herself in.  There are six books out now, and all are very, very well written.  See it for yourself here.

Finally, there is Eragon by Christopher Paolini. This series of 4 has been in creation since 2003 and the fourth and final book is coming out November of this year.  This book tells the story of a young boy named Eragon when he finds a strange blue stone is a forest when he is out hunting.  Unable to sell it, he keeps it, and is surprised when, a few days later, a dragon hatches from it.  From here on out, Eragon is forced into a role as a Dragonrider, a role which he does not understand, as he searches for the Rebellion, known as the Varden, to help in their fight against the dark Emperor Galbatorix.  The similarities between Star Wars, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series are there, but it is still worth a read.  Check it out here.

Well, hopefully that’s enough to ward of PPD for now!