Thursday, December 30, 2010

Worse Than Death

My attempts at the next part of my series were...not working, so I decided to step away and do something different. Thanks to @Fictdoodles for the prompt! (Oddly enough, this is going to prove useful in my other writing too :) )




Worse Than Death


After digging out the last shard of glass from my heel, I stalked through the kitchen and into the living room. Bloody footprints trailing behind me like morbid breadcrumbs. More blood dripped onto the off-white carpet from the knife in my hand.

The stains didn’t matter. Odds were no one was in the house to care—most houses were empty now. The only ones interested in the blood were those who followed me. Fresh blood drew them like flies to honey.

If I’d had shoes left, I could have gone farther without drawing them in. Too bad my last altercation had forced me to choose between my shoes and my life. I’d kicked the sneakers off without a second thought. Anymore, pieces of glass outnumbered blades of grass, even in suburbia—my feet never stood a chance.

Time was something I couldn’t afford to waste, and I prayed luck had brought me to a house with bandages, shoes near my size, and bullets. Bullets would be good. The gun tucked into my jeans didn’t weigh nearly enough for my taste.  Filling the clip or finding a new weapon tied in importance with my need for something to cover my bloody feet.

The first door in the hall opened to a bathroom. The peach towels and bright yellow tile screamed of happy times. Times too far in the past to remember without pain.

Then a flash of joy so profound I wanted to kiss someone hit when I found salve and gauze wrap in the medicine cabinet. My feet were covered as quick as I could manage. The bindings weren’t pretty, but they’d hold for a while. I tucked the rest of the salve into my pocket.

A low moaning met my ears through the window I’d cracked open. It might have just been the wind, but as fortunate as I’d been with the bandages, I knew my luck wasn’t that good. There’d been too much blood.

“Move. Find the shoes.” I stood, wincing—the pain somehow more intense now that the blood wasn’t an immediate issue.

I poked my head out of the bathroom, looking both ways and sniffing. Nothing yet. Maybe I had enough time to get out of here. Hell, maybe there was a car in the garage with gas left. No. I couldn’t allow myself the luxury of that much hope.

The next door opened to an office…with a gun safe. I staggered to it and jerked on the handle. It swung open, not latched the last time someone went into it. Too many times, I found them like that. As well as how I found this one inside—empty. Grabbing the guns as a last hope, and maybe never even having the chance to fire them before…

I shook my head hard. There were no guns or ammo. Time to move on.

Opening the third door in my search for shoes, I found something else. The missing shotgun—pointed right at me.

“What are you doing here?” The old man’s voice was steady and strong…and human.

“Oh shit. I didn’t know anyone was here. You have to get out. They’re coming—“

“Get out of my house! I won’t let you lead them to me!” Fire and fever blazed in his eyes and his hands shook, sickness and panic making him jumpy.

He needed my help even more than I needed his. When they came, he wouldn’t stand a chance. “We need to go…” I reached for the gun, and he jerked back, pulling the trigger.

My ears rang with echoes of the gunshot as I stumbled, hand pressed to the hole in my stomach. Blood gushed from the wound with other, more solid pieces of me as I fell. The stench of rotting flesh hit me as I lay in the doorway. Liquid burbled up in my throat as I tried to tell the man to shut the door and hide, but no sound came out.

Eyes wide and clear for a moment, he knelt next to me, his ear close to my face. “What’d you say?”

And then it was too late. The zombies didn’t run, but they didn’t shamble either. The man must have finally smelled them because he tried to move, but with my body in the doorway, they were on him before he even raised the shotgun again.

The screams couldn’t drown out the growls and squelching of their teeth rending his flesh. Then one of them turned and noticed me lying there. Its one remaining eye locked on me, and I knew they wouldn’t pass me over as dead. Like the old man, I’d feel them eating me.

As the zombie stood, I bit my tongue to keep from screaming. With blood filling my mouth, I raised the knife, and slid the blade across my throat.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bargaining: Devil's Bargain

Welcome back to my #FridayFlash posts and thanks for coming.

If you're new to my stuff or you didn't remember, I'm doing a series for five weeks showing the five stages of grief, each one from the perspective of a different character.

The third stage is bargaining. Only two characters came immediately to mind for this stage. Both characters come from my Blood Kissed series (Of Course I Try, The Ghost of Vampire Present, and future tales), but one of their stories would have greatly spoiled the end game of the series, so the decision was easy. We're sharing another visit with Max, but for this one, we're traveling back in time about a hundred years.




There are certain things they don’t tell you about the military when you sign up. For instance, when you’re in battle, you follow your commanding officer’s orders, even if he’s sending you to your death.

The hardest part about that is simply the knowing.

The machine gun fire ripping through your body follows as a close second.

Lying in a pile of corpses praying for death to take you isn’t too far behind either.



When darkness fell the first night and I still had some strength left, I tried to drag myself back toward the allied lines. My staunch refusal to accept that I was dying lasted until I passed out from the pain, blood filling my mouth from how hard I bit my tongue to keep from screaming.

I woke the next day to more gunfire. Always more.

Only now I’d ground dirt through my shredded uniform and into the wounds that oozed a constant stream of blood. Had I pulled myself into the damnable Somme, at least the blood would’ve run clean again. And I probably would have drowned rather than lying there, waiting for infection or blood loss to take me.

Soon, the smoke and dirt and blood blurred in my sight and images of Lily took over. My wife—standing in the kitchen over a sink full of soap bubbles, sunlight glinting her blond hair as she sloshed water all over her apron and burst into laughter.

That was the moment I realized I couldn’t die. I had to get back to her. Back to the life I’d promised when we’d said “I do.”

As the sounds of fighting quieted a bit and darkness descended again, I began whispering prayers. “God, just let me get home to Lily—let me tell her I love her one more time—and I promise to be a better man. Just let me live.” I didn’t know how long I lay there saying the same things over and over, begging for another chance at life.

Then a lightly accented voice came from right next to me where only the dead had been a moment before. “Will you really do anything to go on living?”

I opened my eyes to a night lit by the glow of the moon and the flash of gunfire. There wasn’t much to see on the ground besides shadows, but a man with long hair completely at odds with current fashion knelt beside me, utterly calm in the madness of the battlefield. “Are you an angel?”

He shifted, and I swore I could hear him smile. “Something like that. What is your name, soldier?”

“Shaw. Sergeant Maxmillian Shaw.”

“A pleasure, and you may call me Remus.” He settled on the ground next to me. “So would you truly do anything to live again? Because I must tell you, you have about five excruciating hours left otherwise.”

I didn’t bother to ponder how he’d come up with the number. “Yes! I want to go home to my wife,” I cried, my voice so weak I didn’t think he could possibly have heard me.

“It is somewhat complicated. I can save you, but you’ll have to spend some time with me before I can send you home.” He leaned closer, the soft blackness of his hair tickling my neck.

“As long as I can see her again. Make her happy.”

Remus laughed and the sound danced in the night like fireflies. “I’m afraid it won’t be quite as simple as you want. You’ll get back to her, but you will never have the life you lived before again. You will have to hide things from her, from everyone you know. Everything will change. Are you certain it’s a sacrifice you can make?”

An icy chill started to seep into my veins, burning its way through my body, and shivers wracked my frame, making every pain flare to life again. And I said what he demanded, even though I knew I’d never lie to her. “I love Lily. Of course, I’ll sacrifice whatever I have to for her.”

“I’ll say this much for you Americans, you have strange ideas about what love means. But so be it—I will save your life.” Fire lit the sky as he threw his head back. And though he may have had the face of an angel—long black hair framing sparkling, intelligent blue eyes—I found myself staring down a demon. His fangs flashed in the light, and before I could say anything, he was on me.

His teeth pierced my flesh, and for a moment new pain blossomed there, and I felt certain it had all been a trick. Some test to get into heaven that I was sure I’d failed. Then, even as I felt my heart slowing, a rich fluid filled my mouth, salty, but sweeter than anything I’d ever tasted. The moment it hit my tongue, the darkness of death retreated, leaving only hunger behind. I latched onto the thing pressed against my lips and drank and drank.

I don’t know how long I stayed there, but with every swallow, the pain lessened, and my strength returned. When at last I opened my eyes once more, I found myself not on the battlefield, but in a cave, the sun casting a circle of light near the entrance. He’d done what he promised—I was whole again. Pushing to my feet, I reached toward the light. Before the glow even touched my skin, the flesh on my fingers erupted in flames. I yanked my hand back, batting the fire away.

“Lesson number one—“ the melodic voice said from behind me, “—daylight is no longer your friend.”

Turning, I found the demon, Remus, in the recesses of the cave. His fangs gone, but the gleam in his eyes the same as I’d seen as I lay dying. And in that moment, I knew I had indeed failed the test, because I’d wakened in hell.

Holiday Story Time!!!!!

Okay, so my vlogging debut is live. Eep!

If you've been playing along, you know the deal, but just in case...

In each of the videos, the Decadent Publishing logo will be visible somewhere. If you find it, email the author and tell them where it is to be put in the drawing for a free digital copy of their story (for example, me: Also, Book Matrix Media (who did my author photos, which I love) and Tilvee have donated prizes too! Those logos are each only in one video. If you find either (or both) of those logos, email and let her know where they are to be entered for those prizes!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video!  Click here-->

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Week's Schedule...

Today (Sunday): I have a post up at 30 Days of Decadence about some of my favorite off-beat holiday things. Come check it out, I'm giving away a copy of The Ghost of Vampire Present and something special for one Max fan.

Monday: Day off unless something changes (woohoo!) However, Holiday Story Time starts today at Robert's place.

Tuesday: Interview at the blog of the wonderful and funny Deanna Wadsworth(POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT WEEK!). We'll be drinking and laughing and having a good old time. Join us! AND Deanna is also doing her Holiday Story Time today!

Wednesday: I'm going to be at the Harlequin author post-party chat. I'll be popping on periodically from midnight until 10 pm so stop in and say hi :) Also today, PJ is up for Holiday Story Time!

Thursday: It's my day up for Holiday Story Time! There'll be a video of me reading an excerpt from The Ghost of Vampire Present and giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!

Friday: I'm at the Daily Dose of Decadence with ten interesting things about the Blood Kissed series. Also posting my next Friday flash in here (psstt..... it's a Max story, don't miss it!)  And, Clarissa is up for the last of the Holiday Story Time videos.

Saturday: I'm on video again and babbling about the holidays over at 13 Wicked Days of Christmas. (Have I mentioned I hate being on camera? I'll probably hide under a rock again until next year LOL.) Another giveaway here of digital copy of either The Ghost of Vampire Present or 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas.

Huge and busy week. I hope you are all willing to stick with me and check out all the posts and giveaways! I promise to tone it down for the rest of December ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Sickie

No real post this week, sorry. Things have just been crazy. If you noticed, there was no Friday Flash, no Tuesday Teases...nothing. Yeah...

Anyway, the long and short of it is I've been sick for about a month now, still fighting this cough, intermittent fever, and other stuff, and it all finally caved in on me this week. I managed to get a couple video blogs done that'll go up before the holidays without any choking fits (WIN!), but other than that and a couple promo things, this week was a wash on me and the blogosphere. Hope you'll forgive me, but odds are I'm just going to use Tuesday Teases to point you to the other places I'm going to be during the week for the rest of December. With the holidays and stuff, I figure that's more than enough keeping up with me for people to do. I'm going to try to get back on the Friday Flash bandwagon next week though so keep an eye out for those on Thursday or Friday.

There is actually a lot of good news though. As I mentioned last week, 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas is out AND it is also available in print. And just a couple days ago, The Ghost of Vampire Present came out. Both have gotten reviews already--YAY!

In other Blood Kissed news. I've received the last of the feedback from my alpha reader, so I have what I need to get started on the first round of revisions. The bad news? Until at least a little more of the sickies leave my brain, I'm not sure about tackling them yet. Don't know how long I want to leave them sitting though either. Anyway, it's one step closer to being done, which is a good thing.

So...that should update you on what's going on here. Now I'm off armed with many cough drops to see a movie with my kids.

Friday, December 3, 2010

17 Weeks to RT!

Okay, okay, I know 17 weeks is kind of a long time, but with everything coming up, I have to start wrapping my head around this stuff in advance. You see, last year when I went to RT it was just for the con experience and pitching opportunities...and I still wasn't prepared.

This year? Now I'm a published author and I need to look at the convention in terms of promo as well as fun and opportunity. I'm slowly gathering some promo items to take with me, but I need more. The thing about promo is everyone's doing it, so I want my stuff to stand out. This is proving more difficult than anticipated since I also need to factor in cost and weight since I'll have to take it all on the plane with me or ship it in advance. So, with that in mind, I'm actually running out of time depending on what I go with.

But I also still need to prepare for pitches, and that means finishing novels not intended for my current publishers. This is harder than it sounds because in my mind I should be on the next Badlands story and doing something else for Evernight and plotting the next Blood Kissed, and that doesn't even take into account my young adult stuff. It's more than a little mind boggling. But I'm hoping to have stuff finished, polished and ready to pitch (especially since I have the experience from last year under my belt).

It's looking like I might be part of a panel this year too, which is huge. It also involves another set of stuff to prep. I'm incredibly geeked about it, so I hope like hell it pans out.

Then there's the fun and games portion of things. Hello? Outfits! Faery Ball, Vampire Ball... I love the madness. I'm on the lookout for bits and pieces to my costumes (still hunting for the perfect corset for the Vampire Ball).

Soooooo much to do and think about, and that's not even taking into account the little things like remembering to bring a power strip so my roommate, PJ Schnyder, and I can both get ready for events at the same time.

Basically what this post boils down to is a heads-up if you plan to attend an event like this. Yes, you can prep for it really quick if you need to, but I recommend putting some thought into things beforehand if you can. Now though? I need to get back to my novel-writing :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Depression: What Have I Done?

Welcome back to my #FridayFlash posts and thanks for coming.

If you're new to my stuff or you didn't remember, I'm doing a series for five weeks showing the five stages of grief, each one from the perspective of a different character.

The second stage is depression. This was one that I battled choosing a character for because so many of them could fit this at different times. In the end, I decided to go with the best known one: Jocelyn. This takes place immediately after the events in Of Course I Try (available from Decadent Publishing and other online retailers). If you're looking for backstory but don't want to buy, the final scene of OCIT was re-done from Max's point of view in The Cost of Love (my first #FridayFlash) on Danielle LaPaglia's blog

Depression:  What Have I Done?

I make it out the door and to my car before the shakes hit me. The keys tumble from my grasp as I try to put them in the ignition, clinking against the steering column before they fall onto the floorboards. Denial takes a breath and screams, “He’s not really dead!” But I know better—I felt his body disintegrate beneath my hands. I don’t get the luxury of pretending.

My eyes turn toward his house—a place that had been my refuge for when the rest of the world became too much.  More than the house though, he’d been my savior, my protector, my everything.

“Oh God, what have I done?”

The only bad thing Max had ever really done was hide the truth. He lied. And I hadn’t even given him a chance to explain himself.

The pain and horror choke me, sucking the life from my body more thoroughly than Max ever did. I claw at the door handle, wanting to go back inside, absurdly thinking I can take it back somehow. My body sags against the door, the glass cool on my cheek as I realize I have no right to go back in his home. I’ve betrayed everything it stood for.

I am alone…and it’s my fault.

A sob catches in my throat, I’m too weak to even cry. Light and color are leeched from the world with every breath, bathing me in darkness and despair. I stare at the house, willing it to come back to life, but knowing in my heart it can’t happen. I killed the only man I’ve ever loved, took the very life that gave everything in my life meaning.
With him gone, I want to die too.

Daylight comes and darkness falls, and still I sit and wait. Death is too good for me now.