Monthly Archives: October 2012
I’m excited to share Vanessa North’s new release with you:
The Ushers, Book One: Amazon
Jack’s routine investigation of rogue wolf sightings threatens to uncover both Bianca’s secrets and her passionate nature. Can she trust him enough to make the sacrifice her destiny demands?
Born albino, Bianca was spared death in infancy when her mother found safe haven among the ghosts and misfits of Amazon Pack. As Guardian of Amazon, she protects the hidden pack with a ferocity that belies her delicate appearance.
Jack’s routine investigation of rogue wolf sightings in his territory uncovers both Bianca’s secrets and her passionate nature. He finds her alluring and terrifying: he’s convinced she’s his mate, but is she also the Usher–key to their culture’s most sacred prophecies?
The Usher’s destiny requires a sacrifice to repair a rift in wolf culture and set the Goddess free. Can Jack and Bianca trust each other enough to pay that price?
Bianca pulled her v-neck t-shirt over her head, shucking off her shoes and jeans. Jack immediately started shedding his clothes as well. Growing up among wolves, he’d never really given much thought to nudity. Their bodies grew in size as they shifted, so he was accustomed to stripping down before a run in order to preserve his wardrobe.
He glanced over at the Albina as she shook her hair out. Standing in the moonlight, she was stunning. He saw her delicate pink nipples were still hard and aroused from his kiss. The curls of hair on her mound were as fair as her hair, and he saw the delicate pink folds glistening, swollen with arousal, peeking through the white curls. Her beauty was astounding.
He saw marks on her skin, leaned closer to examine them. Tattoos, he realized. All wolves were tattooed after their first shift. Most of them were tattooed in black ink with colors for emphasis, but several of hers were done in white. As befits Albina, he thought as he admired the elegant symbols. Her entire back was covered, here and there a shadow in grey? or a bit of color drawing attention to some of the more consequential tattoos. Clearly, she was a powerful Guardian for her pack–she’d not have been tattooed so many times without having achieved her place of power by virtue of her skills.
As she turned to fold her discarded clothes, he could see some scars on her body, remnants of fights won. The tattoos glimmered in the dark, beckoning him to trace them with his fingers, his tongue. He groaned, and she looked over her shoulder at him with a smile.
“Kathy has changed already, are you ready?” she asked, turning to stare at his body in the moonlight. Hard and muscled everywhere, his upper body hairy and tattooed all over. She looked at his signs and symbols of strength and honor, a visual representation of his place in his pack. They confirmed that he was a fit mate for her–his beautiful body bore scars of fights clearly dominated, and the tattoos that marked him as a leader curled around them.
She smiled, her gaze lingering at the proof of his arousal, standing proudly from the bed of black curls at the top of his legs. She blushed slightly as she realized he had followed her gaze. He grinned back at her with a wink as he sank to his knees.
She had seen many wolves shift before. However, she found herself curiously watching him, to see if her mate–there was no longer a doubt in her mind that he was indeed her mate—would seem different from those others.
It was sensual, witnessing his change–his body shook and he turned his head with a loud cracking noise. He owned his change like only a powerful wolf could–it was masterful, graceful almost, as his black fur grew over his body. Then he sat, watching her, a huge black wolf with golden-brown eyes. He was resplendent. She knelt next to him, still in her human form, and caressed between his ears. His fur was soft and his eyes kind. He closed them and rolled his head into her hand like a dog seeking a touch from his mistress. His essential masculine scent still surrounded him in his animal form, and as she stroked his head, he snorted and his tongue lolled out between sharp lethal teeth to lap at her hand. She loved the feel of his fur between her fingers, and he clearly enjoyed her attentions. But then he shook his head, took a couple of steps towards the woods and whined back at her. If they were mated, they’d be able to read each other’s thoughts, as pack-mates could, and even more than that, they’d be able to share their feelings through their mate bond. But even without that bond, she could sense his eagerness to run.
She grinned and let loose her wolf, feeling the change work over her, bringing forward the animal, tucking the woman away inside.
Vanessa North was born in New England but moved to the South as a teenager, where she learned to appreciate biscuits and gravy, bluegrass, and that most welcome of greetings: “Hey y’all!”
She has a degree in Mass Communication, but has long since abandoned journalism in favor of writing romance. Instead of telling the news, V would rather tell stories. Vanessa has a voracious appetite for books and loves all kinds. She writes obsessively: every day brings new ideas and stories to tell. When she’s not buried in a book—hers or someone else’s—you can find her taking thousands of photographs of the people she loves.
She lives in Northwest Georgia with her handsome husband, not-quite-civilized twin boy-children, and a pack of dogs.
Learn more about Vanessa North on her http://www.vanessanorth.com andhttp://vanessanorthwrites.wordpress.com.
How To Write A Series Without Missing Any Details.
Thank you, Lisa, for inviting me to your blog! I don’t do many guest posts and am honored to be here.
I’ve been writing professionally since the age of eighteen when I lucked into a part-time journalism position, and my love and enjoyment of working with the written word has only grown through the years. Now, I am glad to say that I write fiction full-time, and I self-publish most.
My current writing obsessions include my paranormal romance series featuring the Dardanos, Co. characters and my romantic suspense series featuring members of the PAVAD division of the FBI.
Here’s a quick sum-up of each series.
They’d inhabited Gaia long before humans, the Dardaptoans, the Lupioux, Demons, Warriors alike. They’d lived, loved, and battled through the millennia. Now, the time has come for them to stake their claim on the world they loved—before it was too late. The vampiric Dardaptoan race had settled in the mountains of Colorado, where they’d existed in peace with their human neighbors. Until the human Leo Taniss started hunting them. Now the leaders of the Dardaptoans have to do what they must to protect their people…even if it means eliminating Taniss’s granddaughters one by one…
PAVAD: PREVENTION & ANALYSIS OF VIOLENT ACTS DIVISION:
PAVAD—the Prevention & Analysis of Violent Acts Division is a special directorate of the FBI, located in St. Louis due to its central location, and ran by Deputy Director Edward Dennis. PAVAD was formed by Edward Dennis to combat today’s modern crimes in a modern nation. PAVAD consists of only the best of the FBI’s best, and addresses cases involving everything from kidnapping, money-laundering, extortion, all the way up to RICO violations. The PAVAD unit consists of more than a dozen teams ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice to every corner of the United States…
At this point, each series has at least ten books planned and in the works. The second installment of the PAVAD series will be released Friday, Oct. 12th, and the tenth story in the Dardanos, Co. series will be released around Christmas time this year.
One thing I’m often asked about—and complimented on—is how I keep the details of both series straight throughout the books. It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. Especially since I am not a writer who plots. I tend to write off the cuff and go back and fix any problems in later drafts. Sometimes…sometimes a character grows a few inches between chapters, or his eyes change color…or I reverse his name. All kinds of things.
Once I started to notice this happening—and after some very last minute edits to a few books—I decided I’d better get a system in place.
So I made a series bible. A series bible for a writer is kind of like one for a television show—it has necessary details and written-down visions and basic ‘oh-yeahs’ for the writer to use at later dates.
At the absolute beginning of my ‘bibles’ I have a list of one-or-two paragraph summaries of each story I have currently planned. I also include a short tidbit of which later book this book needs to set up. Then I move on.
In this bible I have a section for character descriptions of every character that I think may be used in the entire series (I have a tendency to create a character then decide he/she needs her own story, too). I will list things like height, weight, hair, eyes, dominant personality traits, etc. Anything that might come up later.
For the paranormal series, I have a HUGE section devoted to the ‘rules’ of the world I’m developing. In my Dardanos series, my vampires tend to freeze to death if the temperature around them drops lower than fifty degrees. Probably because they only have a fraction of the blood in their bodies that humans do! In my ‘bible; I go into great detail about why this freeze can occur, how to recognize the signs, what the healers might do, etc.
Why? Because I can’t have the healer treat the condition one way in a book, then totally contradict myself in a later book. That is not the world I want to create for my readers. The best fictional series are ones that are consistent throughout. That’s what I wanted.
Another thing I have noticed in my series writing is that I tend to have overreaching storylines that tie later books to the earlier. These storylines occupy a quarter of my ‘bibles’. Anything that may later appear has to be noted. Maybe not in great detail, but it should serve as a reminder of my intentions at that point of writing it down.
In the PAVAD series, for example, I have Evan Stephenson. Evan Stephenson is kind of a favorite character for me. He’s not well liked, though not because of anything he has done. But he does turn out to be a heroic character in a couple of later books. Right now I am making notes of him and what he needs to do in early books to set up for later books—including his own!
In the final fourth of my ‘bibles’ I leave a section for notes/research and miscellanea. In the paranormal I have very detailed maps of the demon world that a few characters travel to in Awakening the Demon’s Queen. In the PAVAD section I have a detailed list of FBI agents on each team. (Think Criminal Minds’ profilers!)
These ideas are not foolproof and I don’t always keep up with the ‘bibles’ like I should, but it does help me jog my memory when needed. And hopefully, keep things straight as these fictional worlds keep getting bigger and bigger!
For a taste of some of my ‘worlds’ (and to see if I kept the details straight!) my blog has several reads, including The Blood King (first in the Dardanos series, now free!), The Healer’s Heart, and The Wolf God & His Mate (full-length novella!). I’m also in the process of writing a free PAVAD read-in-progress that can be found hiding on my blog.
And to celebrate the upcoming release of WANTING, the second book in my PAVAD series, the first in the series (WATCHING) will be available at $1.29 until Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012! (Amazon and Smashwords Only!)
People who preyed on those weaker and more defenseless than themselves deserved whatever punishment was thrown at them.
That thought drove Dr. Georgia Dennis in every decision she made, personal and professional. A profiler with the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI, she was tired of being second-guessed by her boss Michael “Hell” Hellbrook. Once they caught the sociopath responsible for stoning teenaged girls, she was gone from Hellbrook’s team faster than the ink could dry on the transfer papers.
Georgia and Hellbrook are hot on the trail of a sadistic killer targeting women and girls with brown hair and brown eyes—women with a striking resemblance to Georgia.
Hellbrook will do anything to protect his team, even the woman he never wanted on it in the first place. By keeping her at his side, he grows closer to her until the flame between them erupts and consumes them both. As they get deeper involved with the case and with each other, they do not realize someone else is watching, someone whose descent into madness threatens everyone around them.
Is this watcher their killer, or someone much closer?
Carrie Sparks was phenomenal at her job as a special agent with the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI’s PAVAD directorate, despite her being on the autistic spectrum. Just because Unit Chief Sebastian Lorcan first met her at the lowest point in her career didn’t change that fact. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Still, he had every right not to like her—just like she had every right not to like him.
So if they had a mutual dislike agreement, why was the catlike man at her door late one night?
Lorcan needed help finding a friend’s missing daughter, and with his team out of town on a case, Carrie Sparks was the only resource he had…
Carrie agreed to help him because she saw herself in the young runaway. She’d help him, but she didn’t have to like him.
But while they’re searching for Ashleigh, someone else is searching for Carrie. Does he mean well or does he have far more sinister plans?
Whatever his intentions, one thing becomes increasingly clear to Sebastian and Carrie…You can’t always get what you want…
Red and whiskey accents against a warm cream. Like her. Agent Sebastian Lorcan looked around, taking in the interior of the hallway. It suited the woman he’d come to see, and surprised the hell out of him. The door finally opened a portion; red hair and whiskey eyes were just visible in the gap.
“Agent Lorcan, what are you doing here? I don’t have people from the Bureau at my home. Ever.”
Her words were low and he strained to hear. Her tone was anything but welcoming and he didn’t blame her. He’d not exactly gone out of his way to be friendly with her over the past few months.
“I need to talk to you. It’s urgent.” He pushed the door back and stepped into her apartment. She jumped back to avoid touching him. Like she always did. It irritated him every time.
Her loft apartment was definitely not what he’d expected. He’d always thought she’d eat, sleep, and breathe surrounded by her precious computers—in a small, cramped little hovel only minutes from the Bureau. This place was close to the Bureau, but that was the only thing he’d been right about.
He’d never pictured her in this luxury apartment with granite countertops, leather furnishings, and expensive accents. This woman had some serious dough, somewhere. Curious. “Nice place.”
“My place. So why are you here?” She didn’t glare at him, but Lorcan thought it was pretty damned close. She stood between him and the two small steps that led up into the living area off the kitchen.
“I need your help.”
“With what? Don’t you have someone on your team who can work a simple computer program? I doubt you’re an agent short.” She blocked him with her body when he would have taken those steps into the living room. Her body was taut, and her hand firm where she rested it against his arm.
“I can work the damned computer.” He looked down at the woman nearly pressed against him. She smelled wonderful—almost enough to distract him from his purpose. Almost, but he reined himself in.
He’d always found Special Agent Carrie Sparks distracting.
“So what? A case?” She bent and lifted the black cat that rubbed against her leg. She cuddled the beast against her chest. It purred. Lorcan couldn’t blame him. He’d want to purr next to that chest, too. His body tightened at that thought, a state he was accustomed to being in whenever around her. “I’m off for the next four days. I’ve built up too much paid time off for this month.”
“I know. This isn’t through the Bureau.”
She still eyed him warily, suspicion clear. “Then I can’t help you.”
“May I sit down?” He didn’t wait for her permission, slipping passed her and approaching the couch. He glanced over his shoulder just as annoyance slipped over her face.
“Sure. Go right ahead. May I get you something to drink; beer, soda, water?”
It was the first he’d ever heard sarcasm from her. It surprised him; he’d always thought people with Aspergers were incapable of it. “Soda sounds fine. Thank you.”
She opened the fridge and pulled out two green cans. He settled on her couch; it was as comfortable as it had looked. She plopped his soda on the end table, before perching on the glass and chrome coffee table. The cat hopped up beside her, climbing into her lap. He stretched one paw over the woman’s lap, and looked at Lorcan. His eyes were glowing with what could only be interpreted as possessive claiming of his mistress.
Lorcan repressed to urge to say anything to the woman—or the cat. “Thank you.”
“Why are you here?” She repeated her question, and he wondered if it was just her customary speech pattern, or a product of her own annoyance at his intrusion.
“Seven days ago this little girl ran away from home.” He pulled a small picture out of his pants pocket. She took it from him warily. “Her mother called a friend of mine. Who called me.”
“And the police have nothing?”
“She’s fourteen and has had trouble before. Frankly, I don’t think they’re looking that hard.”
“So why can’t your team help you?” She returned the picture to him, and looked out the window at the St. Louis arch, an odd expression on her face. “Why me?”
“She wasn’t abducted. Case doesn’t fit the parameters required for my unit. My team is still with the rest of yours in Nashville. And you’ve also been given mandatory leave. I have no one else available. This shouldn’t take long. I want to find her, I need to find her. I’ve known her since she was six.”
She bit her lip and looked at him. “I don’t know. What do you need?”
She was close to capitulating. It was in the way she looked at the photograph in her hand. He leaned forward, but kept his shoulders relaxed. Unthreatening. “Please, Agent Sparks. She’s just a child and woefully unprepared for the world outside on the streets. I need to find her.”
She sighed and Lorcan knew he had her cooperation. She squared her shoulders and looked at him directly, making eye contact. “I’ll do it.”
At her words, the tension that had plagued him for the last three hours lessened slightly. He needed her skills, and now he had them. “Thank you.”
“What do you know so far?” Carrie moved, sitting beside him. Her shoulder brushed his. Lorcan felt that ghosting touch and his whole body went on alert. This enigma did something to him faster than any other woman on the planet, and with any other kind of woman he would have acted on it months ago. But not Carrie Sparks and not just because of her obvious differences. She was not the kind of woman a man like him ever fooled around with. Too many consequences would be involved.
He knew and would just have to remind himself of that. “First, the computer. Her mom said she spent quite a lot of time online. Blogs, emails, social media. Then I want to talk to her parents, in person.”
Carrie nodded. “I can start on the internet searches from here. My computers are in here.”
He followed her to the back wall. Just visible was the outline of a built-in sliding door. It so seamlessly blended into the cedar wall around it that had she not opened it, he would have missed it. One more indication that this place was pretty damned pricey. And that didn’t fit with who he thought she was. Junior agent, living on a beginning federal employee salary—it wasn’t enough to afford a place like this. Where was her money coming from? “How long have you lived here?”
Carrie watched the man invading her home and couldn’t help but feel the irritation that he always caused. It was so much worse than usual; this was her sanctuary. And he’d invaded. If it hadn’t been for that little girl…
“Eighteen months.” She flicked the switch to power the lights and the six screens that were housed in the small room. It had once been a bathroom, but she’d repurposed it. Her pair of laptops that she carried with her on cases were her babies, but this room was her heart. Four higher-than-state-of-the-art hard drives were lined up like neat little soldiers under a long table. She’d built the hard drives from spare parts. Two wireless keyboards were configured to operate any drive.
The room had no windows; she hated glare on her screens when she worked. It seemed smaller and darker than she knew it to be. She attributed that to the man crowding behind her; she could hear his breathing over the steady hum of her machines. The hum usually comforted her as much as Linux’s purrs, but not this time. Not with him in the room. “You need to understand something. No one has ever seen this room. I need your word that you won’t disclose its location.”
“Why? Do you keep this quiet, I mean?”
“I’ve had burglaries before. And they’ve stolen important code. This was in Virginia, and I was asleep in the other room. I wasn’t able to stop them, though I tried. Do I have your word?”
“Of course. I won’t tell a soul.” He nodded, though Carrie suspected he didn’t understand. But the night that her old apartment had been broken into had left an indelible memory, just as strong as the sight of her mother dying in front of her when she was nine. Carrie needed a safe place, especially in her own home. This was it.
“What is the girl’s name and do you have her email address?”
“Ashleigh Cavanaugh.” He repeated the email address he’d been given. The room surprised him, but not as much as his anger at her need for it. She would have been extremely young when living and training in Virginia, only twenty-three or twenty-four. Vulnerable. The idea of a young Carrie sleeping in her bed and some strange, faceless man breaking into her home aroused all his protective instincts and he forced them back down. She brought out the caveman in him so easily. Did she realize that?
“I’ll track her internet paths. Since she’s over thirteen, she can open her own social media accounts. If I can find her communications, you can profile her posts to see if we can get a read on what’s going on.” She spoke with confidence, not repeating herself even once. It surprised him; she always took the background with her team. She was part of the Complex Crimes Unit of the FBI, and her team was a team of Bureau superstars. Lorcan’s team was the number three team—the other two teams were older—with the CCU. In the two months Lorcan had been assigned to St. Louis, he’d had plenty of opportunity to observe Carrie and her team.
She was the least experienced, and in Lorcan’s estimation, the most vulnerable. She’d proven that the first time he’d met her, having been the victim of an attack by a former colleague that left her battered and in a leg cast.
He still didn’t understand why Hellbrook, her team leader, didn’t keep her confined to the police stations they visited. It was where she belonged, safe behind her computer screens. And that’s where her strengths were. Carrie was phenomenal with computers, but she had certification by Quantico to be in the field, having gone through the Academy with honors. He’d checked her file the first week he’d been in St. Louis. He’d been curious about her from the moment he’d first seen her.
Hellbrook required every member of his teams to be investigative agents, as well as any specialist position they may be qualified for. The CCU had former police investigators, two psychologists, a media specialist, the top pathologist in the nation, and a former ATF agent. Plus Carrie, with her computer skills.
She continued speaking. “In my experience, these kids always leave hints, or trails. They very rarely keep it entirely to themselves.”
“Your experience?” How much experience could this beautiful neophyte agent possibly have?
“Yes, in my experience…Ten years ago, I was one of them.”
Coming Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Calle J. Brookes is the author of several paranormal romances set in Dardanos, Colorado and of the PAVAD romantic suspenses. Her work can be purchased at every major ebook retailer, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon. She can be found lurking around the web at www.callejbrookes.wordpress.com.
It’s that time of year where the air gets cooler, and you imagine things lurking in the darkness that aren’t there…or are they?
Just in time for Halloween, my latest gothic romance, Shadowed by Evil, is out now in e-book (for just .99 this week) and in print.
I like to say my favorite book is the one I’m writing at the moment, but this one does hold a special place on my virtual and home bookshelf. Part of the reason for that is I’ve long been enthralled with gothic romances set in Mexico and the like. Barbara Michaels and others sparked my interest in these spooky locales. Whether there are drug smugglers involved, wrathful gods awakened in their tombs, or cursed and buried treasure in the mix, these novels fascinate me. And in the case of Shadowed by Evil, history inspires fiction.
When I began thinking about writing a story set in Mexico, I stumbled upon the tale of a U.S. Consul to Mexico—the first in fact—and what he did there…and the book was born. A large part of Edward Herbert Thompson’s story is included in the novel, and much of what I’ve written of it is true. Here’s an image of him near the Sacred Cenote, dredging for treasure:
Not only is Thompson’s story sad and inspiring, but also something about shadowy ruins and ancient gods who love blood sacrifices just works—at least it does for me. The other reason this book is dear to me is that my sister Laura Craig drew the impressionist pyramid under the blazing sunset. Here’s more about the book:
In the shadow of a pyramid, a serpent god waits, and an ancient evil lives on…
The last thing historian Priscilla Mars expects to find in the mailbox is a letter from her arrogant, cheating ex, Dalton Mooring, begging her for a visit on his deathbed. With her PhD in hand and no job on the horizon, she sets off for Mexico and the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
When she arrives, Priscilla realizes that all is not what it seems. Dalton’s true motives come to light—to win Priscilla’s heart back and find a legendary treasure with her help—and Dalton’s estranged wife, Anjelica, erupts in a show of jealousy. Meanwhile, attempts on her life convince Priscilla that someone wants her dead. To complicate matters, Dalton’s local rival, the troubled Kent Sterling, warns her against Dalton and threatens to steal her heart the closer she gets to him.
Even as she is haunted by visions of the scaly, fearsome serpent god Kukulkan hovering over the sacred waters of the ruins, Priscilla must unravel the mysteries of Chichen Itza and find out whom she can trust.
These are results for the prizes I gave away. The big Musa prizes were announced at The Romance Reviews earlier.:
1. Latisha D–You won the Montmoors serials. 🙂
2. Dawna Newman–You won copies of She Walks the Shore and Pointe of Danger
3. Sepia Stories–You won a copy of Secrets of Summerspelle in e-book.
4. Jansurban–You won a signed copy of Secrets of Summerspelle in print.
5. Jacquelyn Gay–bookmarks and any of my print books. I think Shadowed by Evil will work. 😉
To claim your prize, please email me within 72 hours and let me know which format you would like if you won an e-book. If you won a print book, email me with your address, please. Thanks! (lisalgreer at yahoo
Thanks to all for hopping! If you like gothic romance, join me at my other blog to win other books:
It is my pleasure to welcome writer SS Hampton to the blog today! I read his story, The Lapis Lazuli Throne, and I really enjoyed it. Horror and suspense are mixed with grim reality. Now, here’s more from SS on Halloween and one of his books.
Fall. Fall leads into Halloween.
The days grow cooler and shorter. The clouds are grayer, and the full moon hangs in the night sky like a silent, all-knowing observer. Tree leaves change color and drift with the wind, or tumble noisily along the chill ground. The silent trees take on a skeletal appearance, harbingers of that vestige of the mysterious, haunted past cloaked in the modern word, “Halloween.”
Today Halloween is an unofficial holiday when youngsters traipse in costumes through the streets with all manner of goodie bags, wind their way among flaming eyed jack-o-lanterns, and knock on doors with a cheerful, “Trick or treat!” And for the older celebrants, there’s wild, sometimes erotic costumes, good drinks, and good food at Halloween parties—sometimes followed by more delectable treats after the party, all to the musical accompaniment of Gareth Williams’ “Halloween – Main Theme.”
Yes, Halloween has something for everyone. It always has. It always will. It has haunted graveyards, ghosts, spirits, warlocks, witches riding broomsticks, headless horsemen, devils, imps, goblins, even—more darkly to some puritan natures—succubi and incubi.
But suppose there’s something to all of this? After all, if you dig deep enough into myth and legend, there’s usually a kernel of truth buried somewhere. Even—in a world where science has explanations for everything—a sometimes inconvenient truth.
So, maybe there is one time of the year when an unknown, long-forgotten doorway creaks open just a hair. What might creep through that opening? Would you see it and recognize it as something horrific? Or perhaps it’s unseen. Maybe it’s hovering nearby, recognized only by a cold chill down your spine, or the hair suddenly standing up on the back of your neck. You have an urge to look over your shoulder, but you hesitate because your gut feeling tells you not to do that. Or, maybe you smell something unpleasant in the air. It lingers for an awful moment, then it’s gone, and your legs tremble because something terrible had just passed you by. Perhaps you’re walking through a quiet building, and you think you hear footsteps behind you. But there’s nothing there.
And that’s in the daylight! After all, time and place may not be the same to other…things.
So, when the afternoon grows darker and the air chillier on Halloween, pay careful attention to your surroundings. Perhaps you might see something in the shadows—just a tiny movement that betrays a silent presence. Or maybe someone (something) is looking at you in a peculiar way, as if studying you, or assessing you.
As the afternoon shadows lengthen, and brittle tree leaves tumble past you within the grip of a cold breeze, you never know what you might encounter. You might even run into something unknown cloaked within the disarming anonymity of an ordinary person that looks like you and I. Then, you might just have enough time to scream.
Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy
“An Appointment in the Village Bazaar.” Danse Macabre: Close Encounters with the Reaper Anthology. Ed. Nancy Kilpatrick. Edge SF & Fantasy, Forthcoming October 2012.
EXCERPT: “We isn’t in fuckin’ Kansas no more,” Sergeant First Class Robert “Chief” Nottingham, a half-Cheyenne Indian, chuckled from behind his dark ballistic eyeglasses and a puff of sulfurous smelling cigarette smoke, as Sergeant Caleb Justus staggered up the steep trail. Caleb stopped when he saw the rolling, rocky landscape of a thin forest with broken and splintered trees. Visible beyond the trees was a ruined village nestled below a low gray rise littered with skeletal trees. A chill wind moaned across the rugged, haunting landscape.
Behind them, such a deep contrast to the land before them, the valley they emerged from was a lush garden of green grass, brush, and trees.
“No shit,” Caleb, who usually didn’t swear, gasped as sweat, mingled with the cold thin drizzle that fell from gray clouds, trickled down his face. The platoon spread out and eyed an ancient narrow trail that wound through the trees to a wide, rutted path that led to the village.
As the soldiers slipped through the trees, Caleb thought they resembled unearthly creatures moving through a blighted medieval landscape; each wore a camouflaged Kevlar helmet, Individual Body Armor weighted down with heavy ammunition magazines, first aid kits and combat knives, and grayish-green Army Combat Uniforms with dark elbow and knee pads. Each wore the trademark dark ballistic eyeglasses that hid the eyes and gave the impression of emotionless, less than human faces. They carried M4 Carbines with Close Combat Opticals, M249 Light Machine Guns, and M203s, a 40mm grenade launcher mounted under an M4.
He knew that in their minds, and in reality, they were the meanest SOBs in the valley, or any valley. He felt safe in their presence. It was a much needed feeling after almost being killed by an Improvised Explosive Device three days before.
“Don’t know how much drawing you’ll get done on a shitty day like this,” Chief commented as he ground the cigarette under his boot heel.
“That’s why I brought my Nikon,” Caleb patted a black bag nestled against the side of his IBA and first aid kit. His drawing kit dangled against his right hip, just above his holstered 9mm pistol. “If I have to I’ll take photos, maybe do some color pencil drawings…”
An Appointment in the Village Bazaar
SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old; his first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that another short story was published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy (forthcoming), Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.