Monthly Archives: September 2011

Lover’s Requiem: Chapter Nine

This is it, the penultimate chapter of the novella, and one of the hardest ones to write.  Diu truly became his own character at the end and I never expected these actions to come from it.  It remains one of my favorite chapters, and when I wrote the final words of it, I knew that this was where it was ending, even though I had other chapters planned.  I hope you enjoy it.

CHAPTER NINE: THE DENOUEMENT

Silence.

Nothingness.

He floated.

Who was he?

Did it even matter?

He remembered fire, ashes, pain, then nothing.

No pain.  No suffering.

No joy, no hate.

Just nothing.

Slowly, pieces returned.  It could have been seconds or centuries.

Time had no meaning.

He simply was.

Nothingness suddenly turned to everything.  Or was it that everything was actually nothing?

Memories of a night seeped through his mind, into his awareness until he remembered who he was enough to understand what had happened.

He was dead.

Strangely, no peace came with that thought.  No panic came with it either.

He remembered floating away in the wind as his body was consumed by fire into ash as a stake plunged through his body.  There was a brief moment of regret when he recalled the face of…of someone after the attack had been done.  But he couldn’t recognize the face at all.

Ahead of him—around him, in him, was he in it—was light.  There were voices, but they were still too faint to make out.  He tried to turn and as he did, more memories came rushing back to him.  His name, what he was doing when he died, the parking lot and the alley.  Still, the face that held the haunted look that was his last memory of life held no true meaning to him as he sifted through new knowledge.

It was said that all answers came in death.  If that was the case, then why was he still confused and unsure of what had happened.  No, there had to be something that he was missing.

James thought back again as he continued to float—was he flying or floating—along out of time and space.  It felt more like flying than anything, and the memory of having wings came back to him as well.  With a stretch, the wings returned to their place on his back, though they weren’t the same color that he thought they were before.  More grey than black, and they had a shimmer to them that made them nearly impossible to see when the light hit just right.  He looked like he was part angel, but that was impossible.  Angels were—

A blast of fire seemed to ricochet through him and he curled up in sudden pain.  His memory was bombarded with images, sounds, smells and brief flashes of barely recollected moments as he forced himself to make sense of them all.

He painted a picture with them, taking a voice from here and a scene from there as he continued to fly in the nothingness.   It was like building a puzzle with no picture, slow going, but possible to do.  And he had all the time in the world to work on it.  Slowly, the image he was building took shape, the memory of a life lived and a second chance nearly wasted.  There were a few pieces missing when he had thought he had finished, but there weren’t any remaining in his hand or head.  James stared at it, intent on having it make sense before he continued on his way.

The pain shot through his body again and he remembered.

Brigett.

Anahita.

Drinking the blood of an angel that was freely given what seemed a lifetime ago—and maybe it was.

Angel blood.  Blood that was still within him and kept him from fully dying when he thought that he was gone in a flurry of glowing ashes.  Blood that kept his memory safe, his soul intact.  James turned around, looking behind him for the first time.  The parking lot was there before him as he floated above it.  Diu, a devilish, yet gentlemanly smile on his face, stood in front of Anahita, before Brigett, knife in hand.  She was on the ground, on her knees, forced to kneel before him by others of his once family as they held her there, immobile.

Angel blood spilt on the ground as Diu’s knife bit into her neck and all James could do was watch.

But blood called to blood, and James found himself drawn closer until he was touching Brigett’s back with a hand, comforting her.  She stared up at him, eyes losing the light that had once shone bright in them, and smiled.  “Do not weep, James,” she told him quietly.  How she was able to speak with her throat slit was a wonder to him, but it was a wonder he did not question.

“How can I not,” he questioned.  He took her hand in his and squeezed.

“Belief,” she answered.  “Belief that this is not the end.  That we are not finished.  Do you believe me?  Do you believe we can still win this?”

Kissing her hand, he rose from his place beside her, taking her forgotten sword with him.  “Yes.”

The single word pierced the night air.  Anahita died as Diu turned around.  Shock, disbelief, emotions with no names rushed across his face and across those who still remained with him.  “You are dead!” he yelled at James, his calm exterior coming undone at the sight of something which had no explanation.  “I killed you myself!”

“Creation rises once more,” he found himself saying, unsure of where the words came from.  “Blood keeps me here longer than I should be.  Blood, freely given out of love from an angel who meant to save me.”  James grinned a boyish grin.  “Didn’t she tell you, Diu?  This was never about you.”   He cast Anahita’s sword to the side, away from him.  It clattered to the ground and stopped skidding at the feet of a very small red-headed vampire.  “Emaline, will you come with me?”

Footsteps.

A small hand placed in his outstretched one in some of the last moments before a sunrise the Court didn’t realize was so near.

“Yes,” she told him. Her small voice carried weight that was impossible to measure in the false dawn.  One word, but it spoke of promises and love and death and life.

James walked to Anahita’s fallen body and took it in his arms.  Cradled to his chest with one, he raised the other in a mockery of a benediction towards what remained of Diu and his Court. “Rest now.  Rest, eternally.”

He took Emaline’s hand in his once more and unfolded wings.  The sunlight crested over the nearby hills and struck them, snow white against the black pavement.  A burst of them, and the three of them took flight. Above was the new day’s sun, blue sky and, James hoped, a place where they might rest.

Below him, James caught sight of Diu darting around in an attempt to find a shadow that he might hide in.  In the empty parking lot, the Court that had once been as family bursted into flames at the sun touched them.  And the man who had once been as his father found no safe place to name as refuge.  He saw Diu close his eyes and hold his arms out to his sides as he greeted the new day.

The elder vampire  felt the sun’s rays hit him for the first time in three centuries.  With his last actions, he uttered old words he had grown up with, forced himself to forget because they made him weak, but still remembered.  “Kyrie eleison,” James heard him murmur, and watched as Diu crossed himself even as he turned to ash.

 

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Gearing Up

In about a month, the insanity that is known as National Writing Month will being.  As such, most of us who are planning to participate in it this year have already begun planning our stories.

While it is against the rules to write one word of the novel before November 1st, there are no rules about planning for it, and it is, in fact, something that is held in high regard and pushed for.

In this vein, I hope to bring you a new series every Monday for the next month regarding different aspects about how to plan writing a novel.  I’ll use real life experiences from my own time noveling, as well as put feelers out to other authors and NaNoers on how they prepare for the task at hand: writing something you want to write.

Please let me know if there are any topics you would like covered in this series.  I’ll be happy to do research about and write about anything that is suggested.

 

 


DEXTER WEEK DAY FIVE: Book Review 8: Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

With this review, we have reached the end of Dexter week.  I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to create it.  Let me know if there are any other themed weeks you would like to see in the future!

Double Dexter is the sixth book in the bestselling Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.  While it’s publishing date is set for October eighteenth, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy and see how it stacks up to the previous ones in the series.

It doesn’t just stack up to the others; it blows them all out of the water and then some.

The book starts out with a lyrical description of the night, a full moon in the sky and rain clouds ready to burst.  Tension is created almost immediately by the prose here, and my thoughts from last week on the disappearance of “poetry in prose” from books in more recent times have now been rethought.  Dexter, normally written in first person, is written with the word “we” instead of “I”, a word choice that shows a difference between when Dexter has on his mask and when he is free to be himself: the man and his Dark Passenger.

Even the murder that occurs right at the beginning of the book is described in this way, giving it a feel of surrealism that I don’t think could be accomplished another way.  It is only after Dexter realizes that he has been seen, that there had been a witness to his crime, that the word “we” changes to “I” once more, marking an end of his world and a return to the real one.

The majority of the book then details Dexter’s private quest to find the Witness and to kill him before his secret night life can be spilled.  This fear overrides him to the point where he is unable to see the problems at home, work, and everything in between.  With his wife drinking nearly half a bottle of wine at night, his job as a blood spatter specialist at the local Precinct during a case where policemen are being beaten to death, and searching for a bigger house, it’s amazing that he can keep it all straight.

Oh, and he’s being investigated for the murder of a co-worker.

With events coming to a head in the Keys, Dexter finds himself face to face with his Witness, a man who had decided that he was going to be the “next Dexter” and has to choose between taking a safe path and following the events through to their completion.  When his kids are taken from him by the now murderous Witness, his choice is made for him, and the book races towards its darkly devious denouement.

Overall, this book is well written and is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.  There are some points where Dexter seems especially dense, mainly those involving Rita and her drinking. Perhaps it’s because I am female that I was able to figure out WHY she was drinking as much as she was before Dexter was.  With him going out at night and not coming home until later, smelling like he just showered…well…I can see pretty easily where her thoughts were going.

As normal, the characters are well-written and any changes between books are explained through events that happened earlier or between novels.  The setting is clear and crisp, a place that truly exists in Dexter’s world and in ours.  Suspense and tension is drawn out enough so that we want to stay up to keep reading, but short enough that we do not get bored and the payoff is worth the time spent.

Lindsay is once again at the top of his game in Double Dexter and I enjoyed every moment of this book.  If you are a fan of Dexter, either the books or the TV show, I suggest you pick this up as soon as it comes out and read it for yourself.


DEXTER WEEK DAY FOUR: Anti-Heros

Today’s Dexter Week article is written by Miss Erika Eby, owner of HiJinks Studios and published author.  When I first met Erika, she was introduced to me as Bob, with Miss Bob being her unofficial title.  She was the president at the time of the renaissance re-enactment group at  our college.  Needless to say, it was a great start to a friendship.  Having tabletop gamed with her a few times, and seeing Rodrick in his first inception, I knew that she was the one to write this entry about the Anti-Hero.  I was very very happy when she agreed to write this article for me.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Semi-Coherent Ramblings on the Psychology and Creation of Anti-Heroes

Written by Erika Eby

There’s something innocent about wanting to believe that there are good guys and bad guys, black and white, easy to spot,  and Superman will show up and know who is who and save the day.  Kids’ shows are easy. The bad guys do something bad and the good guys rise to the occasion and take the moral high ground. Maybe someone waivers for a moment, but the whole thing is wrapped up with a pretty bow in under half an hour.

As we grow older, we realize that the world just doesn’t work that way. There are shades of grey and there are always loose ends left to tie up. Things rarely get tied up neatly, and when they do, it’s rarely in a way that we’d like.

Sometimes that means we cling to those childhood ideals of heroism even tighter. Sometimes that means we are drawn to the dark imperfections in our world and ourselves. It’s Superman or Batman; Cyclops or Wolverine. Me? I’ve always liked Batman better…and between you and me? Scott Sommers is kind of a pretentious prick.

What exactly is an anti-hero? Well, it’s hard to sum up. Early definitions all pegged the anti-hero as a villain, a “hero” that does not display heroic qualities. The reality is much more complex than that. Anti-heroes are murderers, thieves, and bastards. They blur the line between good and evil, right and wrong, or show us that the line was blurred or absent entirely before they every got there. Often times they have good intentions, but their actions are opposite of what is expected of a hero. Other times they do good things, but we see they have selfish or less than wholesome intentions at heart. Anti-heroes constantly force us to examine the difference between what is right and what is necessary.

As individuals, usually we’re drawn to anti-heroes sometime in our early teen years. As a culture, you could almost say the same thing. America’s rebellious and hormonal teen years were quite probably Vietnam. The years during and after Vietnam brought a number of gritty heroes or gritty reboots of old heroes.

There’s an ebb and flow to this mentality. When times are rough, we look to the anti-hero to do what is necessary, even if it may not be “right” by traditional standards. When times are good, we want to believe that there are still heroes out there. Batman is a perfect example. He started out as a vigilante that carried a gun and didn’t mind roughing up or killing criminals. Then in the 50’s, times were good and psychologists worried about the impact of such things on the minds of children, so the Caped Crusader’s world became more colorful and his demeanor more paternal. In the 60’s the character became more campy and lighthearted.

Sales dropped off in the late 70’s and early 80’s, in the Cold War and Post-Vietnam era. Enter Frank Miller and suddenly Batman is the Dark Knight once again. Not the hero the people want, but the hero they need.

That’s the delicious thing about anti-heroes. They speak to some primal, carnal, need inside our souls. They are a catharsis for every moment of every day when we’ve fantasized about getting even, about saying what we’re really thinking. Regardless of what it is that makes them anti-heroes, they speak to that dark passenger inside of all of us that we don’t want to admit to having.

This is the wonderful thing about Dexter, who may well go on to become one of the most iconic anti-heroes of our generation. The frills and trappings of a twisted sense of Chivalry are gone entirely. He pushes the idea of an anti-hero farther than most authors would ever dare take it. Dexter is a sociopath. He feels no remorse. He murders people and he enjoys the hell out of it. But he murders people that none of us would really miss. Murderers, child molesters, rapists… Like with Boondock Saints, he is killing people that many people talk about taking a gun to, vigilante style, anyway.

The thing that really makes an anti-hero, though, is the fact that some part of us likes them. We are drawn to them like moths to flame. Dexter is captivating and charming, and not just in the manipulatively charismatic way that sociopaths tend to be. He is equal parts repulsive and endearing.

This is what makes anti-heroes so challenging as a writer. There’s a fine line to walk between lovably wicked and just appalling. Creating an anti-hero is much harder than creating a hero, but also much more rewarding (at least in my humble opinion). Heroes are easy. They always take the high ground. You program in a set of morals and values, wind them up, and let them go. Heroes can get away with being flat and stale as cardboard. Not to say that all heroes are, plenty are not, but they at least have the choice.

A flat anti-hero is usually just a villain. In order to walk the fine grey line, anti-heroes need to be complex and well developed. They need to have justifiable reasons for their actions, well developed intentions, and something that makes them feel “real.” All important characters should be developed until they have that breath of life – you add details drop by drop until finally the cup overflows with a personality all its own—but anti-heroes need that quality in order to be likable.

Take my own pet anti-hero for example: Roderick, a vampire that was spawned from a role-playing game and is now the protagonist of one of my works in progress. To quote the owner of this blog “The man is a bastard, but we still love him.” He’s a womanizer and a drinker. He takes advantage of drunken college girls to get his hemoglobin fix. He has selfish interests and he is willing to lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate to accomplish his goals. He also has a soft spot for an abandoned fledgling he meets up with. He has a tumultuous love-hate relationship with his sire. He can be an aloof prick, but he’s also grappling with the loss of his humanity as he feels himself become more distant and cold as the years wear on. He’s been under development for years, growing and changing until he’s become more real than some of my friends.

That’s really why anti-heroes need that extra time, that last detail that makes them spring to life. We’d all like to be heroes sometimes, but the fact of the matter is: we’re not. We’re human. We’re all anti-heroes. Simple, complex, flawed, and beautiful.

About the Guest Blogger: Erika Eby is a professional freelance writer, editor, photographer, and photo editor. She has a strong writing background with over four years journalistic and academic experience. She graduated with honors from Carthage College and holds a BA in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing.

An avid technology buff, Ms. Eby tries to stay on the cutting edge of technology. She works part time as a photo technician and electronics specialist. Her hobbies include writing, drawing, photography, fitness, new age, and a wide variety of board, table top, computer, and console games.  She has also recently started the company HiJinks, a freelance company for writing, editing, photography, and everything in between.

A jack-of-all-trades, her works can be found around the internet on Associate Content and Hubpages. She is also the author of an upcoming book titled “Writing Great College Research Papers: 101 Tips and Tricks to Make Your Work Stand Out” from Atlantic Publishing.  

 


DEXTER WEEK DAY THREE: Suspense and Tips For Writing It

Building suspense and tension in a novel, short story, or even a 100 character piece of fiction is difficult, aggravating, and also fulfilling if done correctly.  While not all types of books need this tension within them, I can assure you that tension will rear its head at some point in your character interactions.  While Agatha Christie remains Queen of Suspense and Tension–she did invent the “killer in the room” idea after all–there are authors out there today who have mastered it as well.

Here are some tips on creating and keeping suspense alive in your writings.

ONE: Draw out the scene.  I don’t mean get out your pen and paper here.  rather, lengthen the time spent on this one scene.  If you are telling the story from first person, have your main character begin to notice the other person doing little things.  “I saw him brush his hair out of his eyes with his hands before staring out the window.  His eyes were closed, but his breathing was harsh, rough.  it was clear that something was wrong, but for the life of me, I wasn’t sure what it was.”  Paint a picture of what is going on, exactly, and tension will build, especially if the Main Character has no idea what is going on either.

TWO: Direct from Dexter, have a character keep a secret about his life that no one can no.  And now, have an event happen that gives the chance for this secret to come out.  The character needs to deal with this while still acting normal and nothing is wrong.  For best results: think on how you would act in the situation and write that into your tale.

THREE: If you’re writing Fantasy or sci-fi (or any, I guess, but especially these two), throw in a fight that is breaking out right now.  Characters need to fight for their lives, and by using Tip One as well in this situation, any reader is going to be on the edge of their seat, trying to read faster to know who survives.

So, those are my three tips.  What ones do you have?


The Fine Art of Procrastination

Procrastination is an art form, and when properly used, it can give wonderful results.

Here’s best selling author Richard Castle talking about how procrastination can give you the kick you need to write.

(Bonus: If you’re a writer wanting to know about character development, as Castle is a TV character, here’s another way that you can do character studies: write from their perspective on life)

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/The-NOOK-Blog/Guest-Author-Richard-Castle/ba-p/1160784?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-NOOK-_-unbound-_-richard_castle


DEXTER WEEK DAY TWO: Books, Movies, TV Shows, Oh My!

It seems that Hollywood has no good ideas of late.  They take the ideas of authors and turn them into best-selling movies and top-rated TV shows.  But does this help or hinder the writers who spent years trying to create a world and a story that people would enjoy?

In the long run, it does seem to help.  If the screen-visualization of the books is good enough, people will be interested in the books they are based off of and try to find them.  This brings the authors more readers and the networks new viewers when those who had the book first find the show.

When Dexter first aired on CBS, I was at college, living with my grandmother.  We watched the “toned down” versions together, cheering for a serial murderer and having discussions over dinner on the best way to hide a body (I think consensus came to planting a tree over it or using the microwave just to say we had).  Yes, my grandmother and I are strange.  And yes, when the new seasons come out in DVD, I buy them, go visit her, and we hide behind our blankets eating ice cream while watching.

But when we found out this was based on a book?!  My grandma made me take her to the bookstore the next day so we could buy it and read it.  With the first book being the basis for the first season of Dexter, we knew a lot of the story already.  But the book had nuances in it that made the story more enjoyable and an engaging read. From then on, when she saw the newest Dexter book in her magazine, she would get it, read it, then pass it off to me so I could read it.  Even once the TV show started pulling away from the books, we would enjoy both of the tales told.

And while there are some cases of TV shows based off of books that have gone badly (*cough*Dresdenfiles*cough*), the outcome of such exposure, I feel, has never been a cause of pain.  If anything, these “bad adaptations” have brought more fans in as they want to find out if the books are as bad as the TV show.

….and no, I’m not touching Twilight and analyzing that with a fifty-foot pole.