Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Building Lycanthropy Lore

For Good to the Last Drop, I decided it was time to expand the universe of Love at First Bite, with the usual next step in the monster guide: werewolves.

When I built the vampire lore for the series, I decided that I wanted my old-school, allergic to crucifixes, with an option for free will thrown in.

When I decided on adding lycanthropy to the mix, I actually thought back to a DragonCon panel by Jim Butcher, where he said that, if you really want to get books on old school monsters, you go into the kid section of the bookstore -- otherwise, you couldn't read five pages without the "adult" books on monsters going into Freud and Jung.

At which point, I'd have my shape shifters be less a matter of virology dictating shape, and more a matter of soul.  Which, considering what I did to vampires, is at least somewhat consistent. Temperament and attitude shapes what the human changes into. After all, if all of the head shrinkers want to make it about Id, Ego, and archetypes, well, hey, I can play with that. The furry form that comes out in the full moon is representative of the dark side of the infected.

It's why, going through the series, I had George Berkeley-- which is pronounced "Barkley," see what I did there? -- a shape shifting Irish wolfhound. He's a nice, easy going fellow, who will rip somebody's head off, if threatened. There's a reason the motto about wolfhounds is "Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked."

From day one, vampirism was transmitted by a blood born virus. The way I had it set up was as a metaphysical virus. Like many viruses that have a symbiotic relationship to their host, the vampire virus helps with the host's continued existence: it aids the food stock's continued survival by increasing the strength and stamina of anyone bitten. Obviously, for the vampire itself, it brings a lot of advantages and disadvantages.

With a werewolf, it's going to suck for a while. A person's dark side becoming manifest as a furry is going to be disruptive for a while. Also, the more violent the dark side, the more difficult it will be to control all the time. The impulse control of the newly bitten werewolf is going to be a bitch and a half, if you'll pardon the expression.

As the vampire's virus constantly needs feeding, as does the were virus. Meaning the infected is going to need fuel. Obviously, a lot of fuel, considering what happens to the body in a standard transformation.

Of course, if a werewolf isn't made because he's bitten by another werewolf, but by a matter of soul, why are werewolves the most common?  Because people are pack animals by nature. And the dark side has to be represented by some variety of predator -- they can't turn into sheep. Even the least of us have a dark side, even if that dark side is a beta or a gamma wolf.

Of course, if I'm going to add weres to my plot, the obvious--truly obvious--move would be to make them henchmen for the vampire.

Now, since I've had some complaints about how "easy" some of the main bad guys were, I decided to build on the threats. Frankly, the villains were "easy" to take out because, well, if they weren't killed in short order, pretty much everyone would be dead. Imagine if any season-long Buffy villain just skipped directly to trying to murder everyone immediately. It would be a really fast, continuous plot that takes place over a few hours or days .... or everyone would have just been dead.

Good to the Last Drop was going to have every element build on top of each other from all of the other books.

  • Honor at Stake had a vampire with his own nest. That's easy enough to supply.
  • Live and Let Bite had minions. Those are easy.
  • Murphy's Law of Vampires ... had a different creature entirely. Slightly different problem. Difficult to reproduce.

Then we pile on the werewolves.

Now, I've had a few reviews state that Marco seems more than human, which has usually been a result of Amanda's vampire bite enhancing his strength and stamina, part of the vampire virus. Some of it has been he's been too stubborn to die. I'm almost afraid some of it bad writing on my part, but I've been told that's not the case by multiple people who don't know me from a hole in the ground.

But either way, I figure I have an easy fix for a difficult conflict-- one that Marco has never tried confronting, but has been around since Honor at Stake.

He's going to get bit.

How would you like to see that dark side?

Anyway, the complete Love at First Bite will be available next Monday when Good to the Last Drop is out.

The complete series

Monday, August 21, 2017

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 3: Recruitment

Good to the Last Drop, (book four of Love at First Bite) chapter three: Recruitment

And now for something completely different.

Yes, I know that last week's chapter had Marco in San Francisco. But there is so much going on this book, trust me, we're going to need a lot of recap.

I don't have to worry about spoilers. I have barely begun to spoil.

However, there will be some conclusions picked up from the last novel that will be spoiled here, but I suspect that, if you've paid attention to the other chapters, you've seen it coming.

At the end of book 3, Jennifer Bosley was ... upset.

Now, she's ready for war.

Three items to discuss before the chapter begins...or two and a half, depending on how you look at it.

Chapter 3: Recruitment

January 1st, New York City

Lady Jennifer Bosley, President of the New York City Vampires Association, was not only powerful, but very, very rich. “Old world, old money, I can buy and sell China ten times” rich. If anyone had known she existed, or if she had all of her money in the same place under one name, she would have been one of the top ten richest entities on the planet, including nations.
Like many other wealthy vampires, they tended to buy entire apartment complexes, and leave the outside alone, turning the inside into a luxurious palace. On the outside, it looked like a gang-ridden neighborhood had declared war on her building. Inside, it looked like a modern-day palace. Her office was the size of a large living room. The carpet was Persian, the tapestries were European, the paintings were by old masters—some of which Amanda knew as having gone missing during World War II—and the bookcases had nothing but first editions.
Usually, Jennifer Bosley came into her domain very relaxed. The first time Amanda Colt had met her here, Bosley came in wearing a dark green track suit—she knew she was rich, and she didn’t need to prove it to anyone.
Today, however, Bosley had left Amanda waiting in the center of her office, and didn’t come into a room like a woman who owned the place, but like a soldier who needed a brawl. Bosley was even wearing dark camouflage pants and deep green top. Her form was curvy, and it still showed in the unflattering outfit, and she no longer moved with the effortless grace of the undead, but with long strides of a woman in a hurry.
Her blonde hair terminated at the base of her neck, with her hair at the sides tucked behind her ears. Her full lips were unadorned, and her brown eyes seemed to just cut through whatever she saw.
She was also smoking.
Bosley threw herself onto the edge of her desk. “Hello, luv,” Bosley said, her usually posh British accent reverting to something more “urban London.”
Hello, Madam President.”
Bosley smiled around her cigarette, and drew on it deeply. She took it out, blowing the smoke off to the side. “Call me Jen. You and I need to talk.”
Amanda Colt nodded slowly. She wasn’t entirely certain what to do with herself. Even though she had been in Bosley’s offices before, she still wasn’t used to it. She had only dressed in a long-sleeved sweater and jeans. She was about 5’6,” with long red-gold hair that went to the small of her back in a golden fall, eyes that were a warm, liquid Frangelico brown with her Siberia-pale skin.
What can I help you with?” she said, only slightly accentuating her Russian accent.
You’ve got some support on your side, don’cha? I remember ’earing about it before the summer.”
Amanda nodded slowly. “Da. You have met Enrico, you know we have … resources.
Bosley nodded. “See, what I mean here is, well…” Her eyes locked on Amanda’s, and started to glow a deep, burning red. Her fangs came out around her lips, and she talked through them as though shed had millennia of practice. “Those little bastards blew up my professional offices, and tried to bury me. Your war is now my war, and I want to kill the little blighters before they even realize that we’re at their throats.”
Amanda nodded carefully, shocked that Bosley had gotten this riled. She had always been the most controlled, self-possessed vampire Amanda had ever met. Hell, Bosley had once claimed that the source of her power came from being purely pragmatic.
Are you sure you wish to go there?” Amanda asked. “I would hate for something to happen to you.”
The glow in Bosley’s eyes faded, and a corner of her lips quirked up. “Concerned fo’ the state of my soul, are ya?” She popped the cigarette back into place, and rolled over the top of her desk. She reached into a drawer, and pulled out a cross. She pressed it to her skin, and waited.
After ten seconds of silence, Amanda shrugged. “I guess you are good.”
After a fashion, luv.” She placed the cross back in the drawer. “We’re at war. War isn’t de facto immoral. And if this isn’t a just war, we’re probably all quite screwed.”
You seem quite angry.”
Bosley smiled, and her eyes narrowed. “Oh, luv, you ’ave no idea.” She tossed herself back into the seat, resting combat boots on the desk. “Now, tell me what you know.”
Amanda finally relaxed enough to sit down in the chair across from Bosley. “You have noticed the increase in devil worship?”
Bosley smiled. “Where would you want to start? The headlines, or the French Revolution, when the Terror really got dark? Dipping bread in the blood of the freshly decapitated.” She grimaced. “It was tacky even then. You can talk about the rise of Moloch—America’s Cold Spring ’arbor back in the twenties, when they sterilized, euthanized, and murdered…what do they call the retarded now?
Bosley nodded. “Sounds right. You’ve got your eugenics, your World War II, Soviet Lenin worship, making communism a religion, Hitler’s Norse gods, Obama worship… I can go on forever. What are you thinking of? Vampires in the gulags and the camps?”
Amanda shrugged. “All of that. Remember The Council?”
Bosley nodded. “The big boogeyman, The Council? The black helicopters of the vampire world?” She sighed. “I know of it.”
Amanda nodded. “The demon from September, Mister Day’? He was one of them. As was Nuala.”
Bosley nodded. “Yes. I had heard of a Mister Day that made political connections.”
He also managed to get into the United Nations.”
Bosley’s eyes narrowed. “Are you telling me that The Council…is now a council? A UN council?”
Amanda nodded. “That is what we surmise.”
Bosley grimaced. “We’re going to need more guns.”

Again, please remember

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Review of Astounding Frontiers #1, by JD Cowan

. . . And Between The Wasteland And Sky: To Pulp or Not to Pulp ~ A Review of AF#1...:

This one is an awesome review.

... Okay, maybe more for me than for anyone else.
I've been following the Superversive movement for a while now. It has paired with the Pulp Revolution as the two main influences of where I'm taking my writing, and both have a lot of crossover with each other. Superversive is focused on stories that show the reader that world can be larger and more mysterious than at first glance, and Pulp Rev focuses on stories with a moral clarity where anything can happen at any time. At some point the two streams will cross and the fabric of the universe will tear. It only stands to reason. They have much in common.

So when I heard members of the Superversive movement were planning on making their own Pulp magazine, I was excited. What more could I ask for? There's so much clear overlap that I could hardly wait to give it a read.

And read it I did.

I'll start with the positives. Declan Finn's According to Culture is just about what I'd expect from him and it gave the magazine the shot in the arm it needed. It was fast paced, action packed, and takes place in a universe that leaves the audience with wonder. It's also quite funny. It's exactly what I was hoping for.
I'll let you read the rest on JD's site. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Dragon Nominees, on Radio

Three items to discuss before today's post begins.
One of the nice things with all of the Dragon Award nominees ... I've interviewed most of them before, on my radio show.

Since loading all of these players onto the main page at once will jam the blog from loading, you're going to have to click below.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dragon Awards News

Three items to discuss before today's post begins.
After the Dragon Awards were announced, I figured, "Hey, this is a good excuse to discuss books, and add an extra level of PR on top of what I'm doing."

When Alison Littlewood dropped out of horror, I thought "Hey, less competition."

And now NJ Jemisin is out as well.

Wow, my competition is dropping like flies...

Okay, fine, I really think that my competition in horror is Dan Wells and apocalyptic is Cory Doctorow. The former is highly skilled. The latter could probably steamroll the whole category on name recognition alone.

So, my general opinion on the withdrawals is somewhere around apathetic.

One of the things that makes my head tilt is who and why there are withdrawals.

To start with, Brian Niemeier tried to rally his voters by picking on John Scalzi. Which, I'm sorry, I've had my name dragged through the mud a lot this year, by multiple factions and people within them. I've done my best to ignore any and all of the above. Being poked by some random person on social media? Either laugh it off, play along with the joke, or do something strange like ... go back to work and pay off your million-dollar advance.

Scalzi's response was to withdraw from the Dragon Awards.

... Really? Douche bag, your fans voted for your book. At least pretend to be gracious, would you? Someone poked at you on Twitter, so you publicly declare that you're pulling out?

You know, two years ago, when I head tilted and pondered "Would I accept a Hugo Award nomination?" I hemmed and hawed, but ultimately concluded that, sure, if that bizarre event ever happened, I'd take it, because the only way I could get it would be if my fans wanted me to have it. And I, personally, have no respect for that award, the convention around it, or most of the award winners of the past two decades. But at that point, it wouldn't be about me. It would be about the people who voted for me.

So, Scalzi posted on his blog that he was pulling out of the awards, because Brian was poking him.

Alison Littlewood made a similar withdrawal request, screaming VOOOOOXXXX DDDAAAAAAYYYY.

If NK Jemisin released a statement on her reasoning, I haven't heard.

The Dragon awards first response was: Screw off, these are fan awards. It's not about you.

I felt like there was an echo in here.

I don't know what pressures were brought to bear on DragonCon, but they reversed their decision.

Jemisin and Littlewood have dropped out.

Scalzi didn't.

Hmm. Funny that.

So, let me get this straight: Littlewood cares more about what their fans think than about how much they like her books. I'm sorry, even after Cixin Liu spent the Hugo speech bitching about Vox and friends--if I recall correctly--Vox is voting Liu. Meaning that Vox cares less about politics than Littlewood does.

And, of course, there's the Scalzi factor. We've got the CHORF / SJW / 770 crowd, claiming that the Dragon awards are irrelevant because it's all Southern rednecks, or they're the unwashed fans who haven't been properly vetted by WorldCon, or it's all those massive voting blocks that guys like me wield...

...Pardon me for laughing right there.

So what's the logic here? Heads I win, tails you lose?

Let's face it, the "770" narrative if he wins becomes: Scalzi is so awesome that he can get through a Puppy-held award.

The narrative if he loses becomes: Evil Puppies Block Genius Author!

There aren't any Puppies kicking around, but facts haven't gotten in the way of this reporting thus far.

Brian's theory from his website is that, if we keep schmucks like Scalzi from winning, we can keep the Dragons relatively politics-free, but if Scalzi wins, it's open season. Who knows? Instead of Tor buying memberships for their employees to vote in a block (which is a half-remembered rumor I can no longer footnote, so don't take it as Gospel), Tor can easily have their employees fill out Dragon nominations from their home computers (No, not business emails, that would be a little obvious).

Anyway, that's the theory.

Right now, I'm not entirely certain we need to even address Scalzi. If he's campaigning, I haven't seen or heard. But that's just me. Then again, let's face it, I'm relatively easygoing...there's a reason I was never a Rabid Puppy, who has the energy? And Scalzi is going to have enough problems, since it looks like he can't seem to keep up with producing enough books for his million-dollar deal.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why Catholic Vampires?

Love at First Bite is my My Dragon Award Nominated series. Usually, my elevator pitch is "Traditional Vampires that integrate free will into the mythology, resulting in a unique end result."

What I don't say is that by "Traditional Vampires that integrate free will," I mean "Catholic Vampires."

This is in part because, as one person replied: Weren't Vampires always Catholic?

There's a point there. In the original mythology that I can recall, Vampires weren't repelled by a cross, but to the crucifix. They reacted to a consecrated host.

But they were also automatically evil. And that was the part I drew the line at. How did that make any sense?

In Dracula, the novel, Vlad Tempes was never considered a nice guy. And I'm certain that Stoker's history wasn't exactly half as detailed as ours would be today. For Stoker, Dracula was probably evil even before he was a vampire. When Lucy was turned, she could be little more than a feral dog, overwhelmed by urges and appetites she'd never had before. All easily explained.

But after a while, once you get into other vampires, why would all of them in fiction become automatically evil? Doesn't that subvert free will? Unless you go for the Buffy solution, which was that all vampires were soulless, and the soul was replaced with a carbon copy of a demon. Basically, people were the skin suits that a demon wore. They drank blood as a perverted mockery of the Eucharist, and that's that.

But otherwise, it's generally unexplained. I don't even remember Larry's Monster Hunter International series addressing it, really. It was just "Vampires are evil, they don't sparkle, just kill the f**kers." (Though if anyone has a better recollection, let me know.)

My vampires at the very least needed to address free will.

Which becomes a problem. How can I have people become vampires, and then automatically afflicted by holy artifacts? Unless I go the "demon wearing a skin suit" route, it doesn't make much sense.

But what if vampires, like people, are formed by their actions?

Catholic theology states that a resurrected body is a body that is perfectly controlled by the soul. So, the more actions one makes, the more the vampire is formed, and the closer body and soul comes together. The more evil actions one commit, the vampire becomes more powerful, but is also more afflicted by religious artifacts.

Anyone who is "good" is something different.

Here's yet another tenant of Catholicism that ended up in the novel: Aristotle. Yes, the vampires are based around Catholic philosophy because the Church still uses Aristotle. "Actions form the person" is straight out of his Ethics. RPGs also use a similar system (the one I'm familiar with is Knights of the Old Republic).

Now, even under this model, I would not, and will not argue for being just "people with fangs." I submit that when you take a person, remove all sense of personal consequences from their life, and give them the powers of a vampire, then they are not "people with fangs," it's a grave temptation to become a serial killer with fangs. One monster or another, there's very little difference except in scale and scope.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying "people are naturally evil." I'd say at least half of my vampires are just folk who would like to survive and move along. Wearing a cross is gonna hurt, unless they go to frequent confessions, because even venial sins are going to mount up after a while.

And yes, I want redemption to be a possibility. Why? In part because I sometimes write bad guys that I like enough to want to redeem. They're not pure evil, they just try to be. Also, hell, if you're still on the planet Earth, and not in Hell, I'm fully convinced that Heaven continue to try to catch sinners until the last possible moment. When you consider the number of Catholic saints who used to be schmucks, redemption will sneak into my series eventually.

Keep in mind, this still circles back to the "actions maketh the man" aspect. Evil people can still do good things -- it's rare, but it happens. Granted, some of the most evil pricks on Earth have ironic "virtues" that are comedically small in comparison to their crimes, but some don't even have that much. I don't recall anyone trying to spin Stalin as having a single quality that made him look like anything less than a total prick, while Hitler was a vegetarian who painted flowers.

Granted, the levels of evil I'm dealing with ... well, let's just say that their isn't a LOT of redemption from the antagonists. I may have redeemed two vampire antagonists over the course of the series.

But then again, look at my protagonists, will you? There's Marco ... who's his own type of dark. There's Amanda, who had to participate in things that she still thinks about sometimes. Let's not even discuss Rory, shall we?

Okay, I know what you're thinking: That's all very nice, but how do I do this as a "neutral" thing? How do I leave Free Will while having an obviously supernatural problem? Well, vampirism is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, so it's a blood born virus. We know the vector.

Obviously, it must be a supernatural virus, transmitted from human / supernatural contact.

In Honor at Stake, I suggested Nephilim were the origin, but I've kept it vague, if only because I don't have any vampires that old to confirm it, nor is there anyone kicking around who has that much history.

If I ever continue the world, I'm going to have to dive into the virology more. After all, vampires have worked with governments -- Nazis, Soviets-- so we know there were experiments. I'm just never going to do those stories, because I suspect it's going to look like Wolfenstein or Hellboy if I do that.

One of the few things I've spelled out is one of the quirks of viruses: most of them try to not kill the host. In fact, if I treat vampirism as being a disease, it's actually a symbiotic relationship, as it keeps the host alive. Which means it would act like it. There are some viruses that actually aid the host by providing food (for example, one real life avian virus that encourages bugs to climb to higher altitude, making it easy for the birds to eat them).

And finally, the best reason I have for doing Catholic vampires ...

I'm Catholic.


See if anyone else gets redeemed in the climactic conclusion to the series, with Good to the Last Drop. Or, if you're new here and haven't read the series yet,  click here to get the entire Love at First Bite cycle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 2: Many Happy Returns

Good to the Last Drop, (book four of Love at First Bite) chapter two: Many Happy Returns

This is the first one that takes place to really kick off the story.

Surprising, isn't it?

Okay, this doesn't kick into high gear here. By the end of my sample chapters, trust me, it will. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about spoilers. I have barely begun to spoil.

When last we saw our hero, Marco was in a hospital bed. He had been a little beaten up ... and blown up ... and slightly charred... and a touch of smoke inhalation.

It's now about two weeks later, and Marco is back out and about in public.

And letting Marco out in public will never end well.


Two items to discuss before the chapter begins.

Chapter 2: Many Happy Returns

January 1st San Francisco

Marco looked at his phone, reading email. There was yet another email from his… “friend”… Yana, who had the unmistakable handle of CyberWicca and a bunch of numbers afterward that meant nothing to him. Email had become the primary mode of communication with Yana; her cell phone bill wouldn’t handle the amount of information she wanted to give him.
Besides, I get the impression she’s distracted half the time as she writes these.
The source of the presumed distraction wasn’t hard to figure out: a woman named “Jackie.” All communication with Yana had gone from mournful and depressed over the death of her girlfriend Tara to overly excited over a new woman named Jackie, who was apparently…very fast and overly affectionate.
While Marco was familiar with the old practice of Irish wakes taking people out into the potato fields for a roll in the clover, he didn’t think a turnaround of less than a month was included.
Marco frowned to himself. Eh. I suppose she’s happy?
He saved her email as new, wondering if he should bother replying other than asking about the rest of the San Francisco brigade—the email was overly hormonal for Yana, who he hadn’t suspected had a sex drive.
Then again, after Nuala, I guess I should be glad that she’s going near sex ever again. I suppose it’s healthy? He sighed, wondering if he would have attempted the redemption of a vampire had he known what the assassin had done with, or to, his witch.
Marco sighed and scrolled down the rest of the email list. The one email account he was looking for wasn’t there. Which shouldn’t be a problem, because why send an email when you could be doing some…other things.
And, seriously, what are you worried about, moron? You made out, you both love each other, she told you her real name … maybe, assuming that wasn’t the pain killer … She’s not a scared teenager in her first relationship, is she? And me, I’m a predator, a self-trained killer, I am…
such an idiot. He who hesitates is roadkill. You’re now a smear on the pavement. You let her get away. I don’t care if this Bosley person called her away. I should have told that blonde bloodsucker to suck my –
The PA student growled to himself and closed the phone, a hairsbreadth away from smashing it. He had been in the hospital now for weeks, but no one had even blinked in his general direction. Not a single vampire, good or ill. Not even the one he wanted to see.
He’d even missed Christmas. Freaking vampire assassin.
He closed his eyes, and did what he’d been doing every time he got angry for no reason at all. He said an Our Father, and ten Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be to round it off.
Marco looked around the hospital parking lot, cursing the darkness outside. Why did I have to be kicked out of the hospital after dark? Seriously, San Francisco, what is your damn problem? Or is everyone just out to get me? Honestly, why me? Did I do something to offend You, Lord?
He picked up his luggage, and prayed very hard that his ride would be there, and hadn’t been turned into a snack along the way.
This the bruiser we want?”
Marco flicked his eyes left. He whirled, and grabbed the woman approaching him. He lifted her up in the air like she was a leaf, a moment before kissing her.
His broad smile caught the light as he let Yana down on the floor. “Um, hi, Marco.”
How are you, sexy lady?”
Yana, who still didn’t know what to do with him, said, “Ah, good. Marco, I’d like to you meet—”
Marco whirled on Yana’s companion, an olive-skinned brunette, and smiled, remembering Yana’s emails. “You must be Jackie, I could smell the hormones.”
She smiled and shook hands. “You must be Marco; I can smell the attitude.”
He gave a Gallic shrug. “That may just be my aftershave.”
How are you?”
He glanced the woman up and down. Objectively, he was certain she was attractive. She was a sturdy 5’6”, with a frame that was more inverted triangle than hourglass, with wider shoulders and a larger upper body. Her outfit was standard leather jacket, even leather pants – which he saw as nice, knife resistant clothing. Though her jacket was zipped up part of the way, and he couldn’t tell if she wore a shirt underneath. He was a little worried about reading too much into that.
Well, Yana at least went for a woman who could probably hit well enough. Body strength helps. Legs have enough muscle on them for kicks, if one is into that sort of thing.
Take a picture,” she told him, “it’ll last longer.”
You even steal my lines,” he muttered. His smile didn’t flicker. “You’ll do. You’ve got the right attitude. I presume you’re already in the know on the vampire thing?”
A little. Though Yana tells me there aren’t many of those left kicking around.”
Marco arched his brows. He knew that San Francisco didn’t really have a vampire population until recently—so little that they didn’t have a local Vampire Association—but this was ridiculous.
Marco looked to Yana. “Are we thinking that the vampire infestation is over?’
Um, Merle has a thought on that.”
Marco cocked his head. “And that is?”
That aside from the initial influx we saw, you may have attracted them. And you’ve dealt with most of the ones who came in before you did.”
Marco opened his mouth to object, and then thought it over. He had been going through a few busy months. He had gone on several rampages, including one that may have lasted a few months, depending on who you asked. After someone blew up his father’s hospital, he had kicked over all the vampire nests in the area. He had proceeded to launch a reign of terrorism that leaned heavy on terror. Then hed killed a whole club full of vampires by locking them in and set it on fire. Then blew up an assassin with a swarm of ninjas. That had been eventful.
Maybe the general extinction of vampires in town wasn’t that much of a surprise. Marco had made the town a little off-putting for the locals.
The brunette punched Marco in the arm. “Don’t look so depressed, we’re doing our jobs.”
Marco arched a brow. “Our? How long have you been at it?”
Jackie shrugged. “A few months. Surprised I didn’t run into you guys earlier. Especially in September. I guess you were behind all the devastation?”
Yana shook her head and jerked her thumb at Marco. “Him.”
Jackie blinked, then nodded. “Oh, he led it.”
Yana shook her head. “All him.”
Jackie looked Marco up and down, and… Sheesh, she actually just licked her lips. Wonderful, Marco thought.
Niiiiiice,” she stated. “Not bad. But you’re not that much to look at.”
Marco didn’t object to that. She was right. He was 5’9”, and most people described him as having a body like a dancer—more like capoeira than ballet, though. His blond hair and blue eyes went strangely with the last name of “Catalano,” and probably better paired off with “Hitler Youth.”
Ah, so charming.”
They walked Marco outside to a large black SUV, which looked more like a small truck with armor plating—in fact, if he didn’t know any better, Marco would’ve sworn it was a fully-armored Army Ford F-350—mobile video system, on board PC, night-vision screen, high-voltage door handles, bomb detection, that sort of thing.
It’s a loan from Merle,” Yana explained.
Marco merely raised an amused eyebrow.
The passenger side door opened, and Tiffany sat in the driver’s seat. Tiffany was as vapid as her name implied, and she was a walking stereotype—blonde, buxom (silicone, not natural), and would have fit in better with Los Angeles than San Francisco. The only reason Merle kept her on was that she was good with numbers. The only reason Marco didn’t kill her was that he was too busy to hide the body.
Oh, Marco,” she huffed. “No one’s eaten you yet? Now we have to waste our time on you.”
Marco rolled his eyes. “No need. Just get me to the city. I’ll be fine.”
Yana pouted a little. “You sure? Okay…how’s Amanda?”
Marco sat in silence, looking at the scenery go by him. He didn’t ignore Yana so much as consider her query. He had barely spoken a word to Amanda since shed left for the city. It was as if nothing had happened between them.
She’s fine,” he answered.

He closed his eyes, and started praying again.

The Catholic Geek: War of the Dragons 08/13

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Dragon Award Bundle

Please remember that The Dragon Awards are still open. I'm on the ballot twice.

To vote now, go to the Dragon Awards website, register to vote, and your ballot will end up in your email.


To celebrate the Dragon Award nominations, a group of friends and I have put together deals, most of them running the length of August.

These Deals include