Sunday, September 30, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Lilith

            Marta didn't seem to be the pathetic broken creature that usually chose a demonic lover.  Alex's brief contact with the woman had given her the impression of a self-assured person.  Not only that, she'd sensed a fierce protectiveness for the Planters from the receptionist.
            Alex considered questioning Colwyn more about the situation then thought better of it.  The reason Marta kept company with Jacob wasn't her concern; the potential threat the woman posed was.  Still, the subject had a morbid allure. 

Available from Amazon and Smashwords

Friday, September 28, 2012

First Four Friday - The Prophet and the Crown II: Descent (WIP)

Scene 3

            Jordan sat on the edge of Mary’s hospital bed, holding the comatose woman’s hand.  The blond child’s eyes were closed.  She was trying to reach her friend, her honorary big sister.  So far she’d only seen Mary once, while she was asleep. 

Release date not determined

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Books Saved My Life

Okay, so maybe books haven’t literally saved my life.  They certainly saved my sanity however.  Without books to escape into, life would have left an ugly mark (or a million) on me. 

My childhood was not a pretty thing.  Between a mentally ill parent and a drug-dependent stepparent, there was a lot to get through on the homefront.  There was abuse, both physical and emotional.  Add to it the fact I was not a terribly attractive child and a ‘quirky’ personality (which later turned out to be Aspergers).  I was teased by other children and usually ostracized. 
I discovered reading fairly quickly.  Because a certain adult guardian found it easier to keep me isolated in my bedroom for weeks at a time, it was often my only contact with the outside world.  I delved into fictional worlds, becoming the heroines a gawky, awkward child knew she was nothing like.  For most of grade school, I hid in Nancy Drew books, dreaming of being a girl detective with a convertible and good friends who thought I was the most awesome thing on Earth.  No one ever made fun of Nancy Drew.  Nancy Drew didn’t wear glasses.  She wasn’t underweight and homely.  I wanted to be her and in my fantasies, I was.  It beat crying myself to sleep every night.

As I hit my teenage years, I discovered rock bands.  I spent a lot of time lying on my bed in the dark, listening to Van Halen, Def Leppard, and too many 80’s hair bands to keep count.  But I also continued to read, getting swept up in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern world for awhile.  I was never going to be a big fan of real life, and I depended heavily on my favorite authors still for frequent escape.  The outside world inspired more terror than a sense of adventure.  Fortunately, as I got older, things got a little easier.  I was still awkward but slowly grew into my looks.  I finally had friends who appreciated my weird sense of humor.  Once in awhile, I even had boyfriends.
Right out of high school I moved to another state.   I got engaged, went to college, started a career.  Then several things happened in quick succession:  I broke up with my fiancee, was hurt in a horrific car accident, and lost my job.  Within a decade I was back in school in yet another state.  Through my extremely tumultuous 20s, it was once more books that kept me from letting the real world knock me out.  When I arrived in south Florida in the mid-90’s, I had nowhere to live, no job, no friends.  When I got there, I was suddenly shaken.  What the hell was I doing?  I had no safety net to catch me if I fell.  I had shown up in Florida on a wing and a prayer with nothing but what I had packed in my Ford.  I was on the verge of tucking my tail between my legs and running back to a safer but soul-killing life.

I found a place to crash when a dear friend coaxed her dad and stepmom to let me stay until I got on my feet.  In their guest room was Jimmy Buffett’s Tales from Margaritaville.  The very first story in this collection was that of a cowboy who quits his job with no notice and goes to Florida with pretty much just the clothes on his back.  In other words, on a wing and a prayer.  Just like me.  And his story ends with a happily ever after. 
I took that as a sign that I was on the right path despite how grim things looked.  And I did end up sleeping on a few floors and living on the kindness of others for several months as I tried to make a fresh start.  But in the end, it all worked out.  Thanks in part to a book.

I have a lot to be thankful for in the real world these days.  A great husband, a child that makes life worthwhile, and a career that leaves me fulfilled.  But as I journey on through adulthood, I still like made-up places and people.  This time however, I’m conjuring these locales and personalities myself with my books.  I delight in living through my creations, especially when life throws curveballs.  Sometimes escaping into fictional worlds lets me catch my breath and hit a re-set button.
Perhaps I could, if I had to, live without books.  But I’m not sure I’d really want to.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Prophet and the Crown II: Descent

        Almost as mind rending as those terrible vignettes of torture that Mary refused to see anymore was the voice that rose and fell in a singsong, drawing ever closer from behind.  The voice itself was warm and inviting, as sweet as a kindly preacher praying earnestly for your soul.  But the man – no the Beast – that uttered those gently spoken words was no preacher.  Not even close. 
            He sang out, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary.  Are you here, my lovely little slut?”

Release TBD

Friday, September 21, 2012

First Four Friday - The Prophet and the Crown I: The Fallen

Chapter 3 

            The shouts of teenage males cut through the suburban Albany neighborhood drowsing under a twilight sky.  Rhythmic thuds punctuated the raised voices.
            “You don’t want any of this!”
            “Oh, I think I do.” 

Release date not determined

Thursday, September 20, 2012

When Horror and Sex Collide

Let’s face it:  horror and sex go together like mashed potatoes and gravy.  Whether it’s a vampire biting into a woman’s neck, King Kong stealing away Fay Wray, or Jason/Freddie/insert-fave-psycho-killer-here cutting up horny teenagers; you’ve got the gruesome twosome.   They just seem to go hand in hand.
And why not?  Both leave you feeling incredibly vulnerable.  Who hasn’t shuddered naked in the shower after watching Psycho? 

My horror novel Lilith features creatures called succubi.  These are demonic women who seduce and feed on men’s sexual energy until they die.  There is a male counterpart to these fiendish creature called incubi, but I don’t address them in my story.
So how powerful is this seductive, killing creature?  According to one historic text, Pope Sylvester II (999–1003) had an affair with a succubus named Meridiana, who helped him achieve his high rank in the Church.  He confessed to this shortly before his death.

Succubi are said to be quite beautiful, the better to lure their victims into their grasp.  However, the observant man, who isn’t overcome by lust when such a siren beckons to him, might take note of bird’s feet, fangs, or some other part that isn’t quite the norm on a hot babe.
How bad could being killed while in the throes of passion turn out?  Here’s a brief taste of the agony as depicted in my book:

            She waited until she stood only a foot behind him before she spoke.  “Hello.”
            The man jumped straight up in the air with a startled “Oh!”  He turned to face her.
            His gaze found her face first, and he gave Lilith an appropriately dazzled look.  He managed to keep his tone polite, too professional to let the heat in his eyes bleed to his voice.  “Hi.  Can I help you?”
            Then he noticed her scanty clothing, the sleeveless, low cut dress completely inappropriate for the cold.  His jaw dropped open as he looked her up and down.
            While he gawked, Lilith grabbed him by the back of his head.  His startled eyes met hers and went blank.  The clipboard hit the ground. 
            “You certainly can help me,” she purred, pulling his face to hers.  “Stay very quiet and still now.”
            She kissed him violently, coiling her tongue about his to draw it into her mouth.  He whimpered as she chewed on the soft pink flesh with her teeth gone suddenly rat sharp, but that was all.  His body shuddered helplessly, and the sweetest flavor of all, the flavor of unmitigated terror and pain, flooded her senses even as his blood flooded her mouth.
Lilith broke the kiss, swallowing with a contented sigh.  Her insides curled warm with arousal.  “Come,” she told the trembling creature, backing towards her den and pulling him along with her.  “You’re just in time for dinner.”

Watch out for those gorgeous girls who approach you, gentlemen.  Sometimes they bite.

Lilith is available through Amazon and Smashwords

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Prophet and the Crown I: The Fallen (WIP)

          “I don’t understand!” the man cried out loud, his voice thick with agony.  But the voice had gone silent.  He was truly alone now, the solitude a gaping chasm that wanted to swallow him in madness.  Alone.  Alone.
          It was the loneliness; more than the dragging heaviness of this unfamiliar body, more than the lack of a past, more than even his missing name; that devastated him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Four Friday - Willow in the Desert (WIP)

Chapter 5

 Jon Stanton, ten years old going on eleven, skulked from shadow to shadow as the sun slid beneath the earth.  He kept a careful eye out for the monsters that had come to Gander’s Gulch. 

He had no idea if his parents lived.  Every scream that rang out made him cringe, thinking perhaps it was one of them being captured and eaten alive as had happened to so many.

Coming January 2013

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The World of Willow


My book The Willow and the Stone and its sequel Willow in the Desert (releasing in the new year), are set in the not too distant future in which Earth has been invaded by insectoid aliens.  Mankind has been all but obliterated.  From Willow in the Desert, this is how that happened:

            Attack.  The word brought visions of spaceships firing lasers upon screaming humans, something akin to movies like Independence Day or War of the Worlds.  Instead, the Old Ones had opened their offensive by somehow shutting down the computers that ran everything, bringing life as man knew it to a shuddering halt.  Entire power grids had gone down all at once, taking out much of transportation and communication.  Then the aliens waited as emergency services failed, panicked rioters took to the streets, and chaos ensued.  Things became so crazed that when the aliens swept through the black, unlit nights and began their terrible harvest, the majority of humans didn’t even notice at first.  And when they finally did, when people at last realized they needed to band together to fight this common enemy, it was too late. 
            Armies marched on the Pyramids.  Bullets and explosives were effective on the aliens, but not on the goliath structures they’d landed and made their homes in.  At first when the Pyramids had been surrounded, the Old Ones had simply hunkered down and waited.  The ones at San Francisco and Beijing mounted no defense when nuclear warheads were set up around their perimeters.  Because there were no computers capable of arming and detonating the explosives, crude remote control frequencies did the job.  The landscape surrounding the targets had been made unlivable, but the two Pyramids remained unblemished. 
             The nuclear blasts had been mankind’s last hurrah.  When the strikes against San Francisco and Beijing failed, when the jets wouldn’t fly, when the armies so dependent on their technology were wiped out en masse by shockwaves emitting from the Pyramids they’d surrounded, it became every man for himself.  That just made picking them off even easier for the invaders, which they’d done with alarming alacrity.
            The world had ended with a bang after all.

The Willow and the Stone is currently available at Amazon and Smashwords


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

She lost herself in a dream as deep as if she’d been asleep.  In her dream she stood on a hill looking up at three splintered crosses.  On the left spread Elijah Webb’s crucified form.  His dark skin gleamed with the sheen of sweat as he moaned.
In the middle hung Leo Black Elk, obstinately silent though his face betrayed the agony that tormented him.  He was naked before her.

Available from Amazon and Smashwords

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Four Friday - The Willow and the Stone

Chapter 15
                Strong hands shook Carli from her sleep.  She opened her eyes and blinked in the blinding brightness.  Little more than silhouettes in the glare, Renee and Adam stood over her.
                Who turned all the lights on, she wondered, fighting to get her groggy mind to work.

Available from Amazon (e-book and print) and Smashwords

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alien Visitations

Are we visited by aliens?  That topic is widely debated.  I have yet to see a UFO in person, but I tend to fall on the believer side.  When entire communities claim to have seen something bizarre, multiple police officers chase strange lights for miles, and airline pilots report near misses with craft flying faster than should be possible, I’m ready to give credence to such stories.  My own father saw three strange craft one night, and he is a man who does not lie.

I can understand the opposition’s attitude to such ideas.  Allowing for the real possibility that there are more intelligent races out there in the vast universe, they are most definitely not in our immediate vicinity.  Scientists point out the insane number of years it would take for any craft from any life-sustaining planet to reach our little blue marble of a world.
Of course, I would assume an advanced race would have harnessed the ability to travel ‘wormholes’ or employ a kind of tesseract technology.  You fans of Dune or A Wrinkle in Time know what I’m talking about.  Why not?  Just a few hundred years ago, contemplating the idea that the Earth orbited the sun instead of the other way around was deemed heresy.  Who are we to say aliens don’t have the technology we can’t conceive of yet?
Humans are an incredibly arrogant species when it comes to entertaining the idea that we’re not the end all of intelligence.  Personally, I shudder at the thought we might be the best thing the universe ever spawned.
To me, the biggest question isn’t whether or not we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials.  The question is why would aliens want to have a look at us?  Especially aliens who have mastered long-distance space travel.  Aren’t we just a bit primitive to incite curiosity of that sort?
Well, there is always the idea of alien abductions and the apparent experiments that are part and parcel of such things.  This gives me the icky memory of dissecting frogs in high school biology.  Can you imagine an E.T. class field trip to Earth for something along similar lines?  Eek.
Some who support alien abduction theory have the idea we’re part of a breeding experiment.  That the alien civilization taking samples is dying out and using our DNA to save their race.  Or they’re breeding hybrid creatures destined for slavery. 
Could they be scouting to prepare for invasion?  Producers of movies like Independence Day and War of the Worlds love this scenario for the big bucks it brings in.  But seriously, I strongly doubt extraterrestrials would come in with lasers and blasters a-blazin’.  You want to knock us on our asses?  Hit us with a horribly contagious disease.  Even quicker, knock out our power grids and watch us flail.  Was there ever a better example of how dependent we are on our high-tech toys than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?  We can go to the moon, but we couldn't pull people off their roofs or out of a sports stadium for several days.  The inability to cope with just one small area gone dark shows me more than anything how bad off we are in the face of a real emergency.
There are theories that what now makes up the human race was actually planted here by an alien intelligence.  Or we were created by E.T. playing with early hominid DNA already present on Earth.  Why not?  It sure would explain the so-called missing link between us and monkeys, wouldn’t it?  How much crazier is that than thinking some omnipotent, unknowable deity slapped together mankind to exalt himself?  Is it too far off to think our ‘creators’ occasionally buzz the planet to see how we’re coming along?  If so, I bet they head back home shaking their big lizard heads.
Or maybe we’re an interstellar safari.  A zoo attraction.  Somewhere a bug-eyed alien child is roaming around wearing a souvenir shirt that says, ‘My parents went to Earth, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’.  Which raises the question:  can we put members of Congress in the interstellar gift shop as a bunch of funny bobble heads for the aliens to take home?
My take?  I don’t have a clue why aliens would bother with us.  Maybe they’re filming the universe’s funniest (or saddest) reality show.  Could be we’re all just a bunch of Snookies and Kardashians entertaining everyone else.  Otherwise, I can’t see the attraction. 
But then, I’m not an alien.  As far as you know.  Play on, silly humans, play on.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday – Lilith’s Return (WIP)

          “Yeah – whoa, what the hell?”  His eyes were perfectly round as he took in the improbable sight of a statuesque naked redhead standing on his porch.
Lilith didn’t give him time to realize he was in trouble.  She grabbed him by the back of the neck and captured his gaze with hers.  Almost immediately his face went slack.
“Is anyone else here?” she demanded.
Coming Summer 2012