Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Dragon Nominees, on Radio

One of the nice things with all of the nominees ... I've interviewed most of them before, on my radio show.

My show with Brian Niemeier




I think it's obvious who's on this one.



The Jon del Arroz show where I inflicted Chuck Wendig on Jon.



With Tom Tinney




Richard Paolinelli



Lou Antonelli


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.

Duh.

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.

Heh.

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.

HOWEVER....

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

Enjoy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Writing "According to Culture" for Astounding Frontiers

At least one review has noticed that I stole elements of my short for Astounding Frontiers #1, "According to Culture," from a historical incident.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, I'm a historian.


And, as Jeffro noted, there are elements of the film Taken in there. Believe it or not, the Taken thread was the first thing I thought of when I sat down to write it. The premise was the easy part: kidnap someone. Kidnapping comes with an automatic clock, and if there's one thing I learned growing up with Jack Bauer, is that a ticking clock makes everything better.

I guess I could have killed someone's puppy.  But anyway...

One of the first characters I had created in my writing career was Sean Patrick Ryan, space ranger, for lack of a better term. There's a lot of background to the Rangers I made. But they operated very much like Texas Rangers: their jurisdiction is wherever they are. If you don't like it, you may not survive.

Since I've got whole volumes about Ranger Ryan on my computer (which I'll get around to releasing one day, when I'm happy with them), I knew he lived long enough to have kids.

So let's kidnap one of them.

Okay, that's a good start, but this is Pulp, right? Some dirty little slavers aren't going to be that much of a problem. Not big enough of a threat. How about an Empire? Can I get Ming the Merciless on speed dial? ... Eh. Ming was okay, but let's go bigger. How about a twelve-foot tall, four armed gorilla?  Yeah. That's more like it. How about a solution. Hm? Single combat?  Let's steal some low gravity tactics from John Carter ... It's not bad.

Another part of Jeffro's initial review was that there was a second level to the threat. Just when you thought it was over, something else happens. It's not as bad as the five hundred villains at the end of a JPRG, but it escalates the threat. That was originally the end of the story.  No second level threat. Nothing.

I read it again.  Nah. This was too easy. I need to beat this guy up some more. A lot more.

That's where the dragon comes in. Mostly because I really like dragons. Who doesn't?

But no spoilers.

To end where we began, about the historical anecdote slipping into the story, that was an ad lib. Mostly because I don't outline books, or short stories. The last time I tried outlining a novel, I found it easier to just start writing the novel. Usually, I have scenes or images already in my head before I begin. But it was an anecdote I've always liked, and it just fit.

Anyway, take a look at Astounding Frontiers #1: Give Us Ten Minutes, And We'll Give You a World today.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Playlist for "Good To the Last Drop"

Of all the books in the Love at First Bite series, Good to the Last Drop is the one where I've used the most music.

There are at least one or two chapters where I did nothing but play these pieces on a loop.

Some may need some explaining.

Some are even spoilery.

But I don't think It'll be too much of a problem if I post these here.

Heh

Our first, Within Temption: In the middle of the night






If this doesn't sound like a Marco theme song, nothing does. It was perfect for several of the opening chapters, which took place over the course of one night. One very, very long night.

Our Solemn Hour



This one ...  mostly just sounded cool. Though there's a lot of lyrics here that could match the book, if you cared to. I don't. It was just fun.

A Demon's Fate



Wait? What devilry is this? Is this a spoiler? I've used this one before, haven't I?

Well, maybe it's a spoiler. Maybe I just like the song.

Cruxshadows: Helios



Sorry I don't have a lyrics video for this one. I guess I'd have to make one if I wanted it. But in any event, this was also an early chapter. In part, it was a fight scene. In part, because it was a relationship song. Listen when you're halfway through, maybe you'll hear it.

Winterborn



This was for Chapter 20....

Chapter 20 was awesome. I didn't see it coming.

I didn't even like the person I killed there.

But damn, did it work.

Angelus Everlasting



This is one that I put on a loop during a chapter. It's during the final shootout. It works as one part character development, and one part battle music.

Nightwish: Ever dream



The final battle. If you listen to just the last half of the song, you can hear it ratchet up the drama and the tension, until you can almost see the firefight going on, can't you?  It's a bit of a love song. It's a bit of a battle song.

And again, this is what I looped for our final shootout.

Order, or preorder, any or all of Love at First Bite here.

A History of Vatican Ninjas

When I bounced the concept of Vatican Ninjas off of a Catholic group, I think my response was "Well, who else would be better equipped for such a position? It's a long standing institution that deals with the supernatural on a routine basis. The Church would feel obligated to fight back Satan's forces, of course."

Ahem.... yes, my argument was "With Great Power, comes great responsibility."

Though my first thought is really: Who else is gonna do it?

Of course, the Vatican has its own army. It's not a very big one, granted, but if anyone is going to be able to give shooters training to fight the abyss, it's going to be a few thousand priests. There will be battle meditative prayers, that can hide them from the enhanced senses of vampires. Basically, if a vampire has the senses of a Sith lord, going through this silent, prayerful meditation would make them invisible. In fact, if it's a saint versus a vampire, a vampire would have to directly lock eyes on them -- assuming, of course, the saint doesn't have the power to cloud vampire's minds...

Sadly, I now have a Simon Templar / The Shadow crossover in my head. But that's another story.

The Vatican Ninjas would probably start to become a serious institution somewhere around the Protestant Revolt of the 1500s. It's when Europe started to really go dark. How dark? Look up the Anabaptists sometime: these guys were so nasty, Lutherans and Catholics stopped fighting each other, looked at the Anabaptists, and promptly jobs forces to wipe them off the face of the Earth.

The crucifix fell out of fashion in Protestant areas, and traditional Vampire lore stress a crucifix, not a cross, being a problem for a vampire -- otherwise lowercase t in block lettering will do it. This would require forces that are specialized in battling creatures that are stronger, faster, and nigh indestructible.

After two hundred years. and the "Enlightenment" hit, superstition increased. Ouja boards became common. Isaac Newton dabbled in the occult, and had volumes of horoscopes that he forecast. The mystical age of intellectual brightness really had a five to one ratio of occultist crap emerge.

Of course, in a world where vampires exist, the obvious reason for it is simple: the Catholic church used to have local teams to deal with Supernatural crap. When the Church left, so did said teams. With the suppression teams being removed, demonic activity spiked. Occult belief was a "rational" response ... at least to people who abandoned faith for whatever nonsense they came up with along the way.

So, going to clean up the mess? That's right. The only organized game in town, who covers ... well, the planet. They'd probably be called something like "tegumento daemonium interfectores," which is what I get when I load "covert demon killers" into Google translate, so I expect this to be hysterically inaccurate.

The load out for the ninjas would, over time, have to evolve, but it would still be a wide ranging arsenal. Fifty-caliber sniper rifles would be mandatory for removing the heads off of vampires at a distance. There would be silver ammunition components (holly points with silver balls instead of stems-- silver is too hard, and doesn't have the right spiral of regular bullets). They could carry crosses, and holy water, and squirt guns. Their traps would include bouncing Bettys filled with holy water. Incendiary grenades and high explosives would have to be mandatory, I'd figure.

And, even though I have them dealing with a lot of vampires, they will, of course, be trained to deal with other supernatural threats. I figure that demons, elves and werewolves would be in the top five threats in their inventory.

The Ninjas will of course, have a mandatory retirement age of 65. Why 65? Because that's the retirement age for priests. Why not sooner? Because the ones who survive the field long enough become trainers ... if they can be dragged out of the field. Outside of someone who is a careerist, name me one average beat cop or soldier who wants to be transferred too far away from the street / the action / their men.

But as noted, they have to survive the job long enough.

See who lives and who dies in Good to the Last Drop.

Illegitimi non carborundum

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 1: A Little B&E Between Friends

We're here. At long last. The grand finale to Love at First Bite.

If you're wondering "Why are you stopping here?" the answer is simple: Because this is as far as my main villain will take me. Any longer, and the threat is just going to become ridiculous. Unless I don't hit it here. Because trust me, these odds are ... bleak.

I try to change things up in every book. And this villain is built upon everything I've done before. Minions? We've got minions. Vampires? We have vampires.

Demons? That would be telling.

Anyway, preorder the book here, and get ready for things to get strange.

Okay, stranger.


Chapter 1: A Little B&E Between Friends

December 15th, New York City

Merle Kraft’s midnight-blue eyes took in the office with a simple glance. The room was neat and orderly. The desk faced the door, and behind it were the large windows that made up the outside wall, giving a perfect view of Turtle Bay and the borough across the water—Brooklyn.
Ah, the memories… Wait, what am I thinking? I haven’t even been on this case a year. Where the hell did the time go? To Hell, almost literally.
Merle shook his head and turned his thoughts back to the situation at hand. After all, he was standing in the offices of the United Nations Secretary General. It was quite a view from a flat and uninteresting office, overlooking the East river, and looking at the next borough. The view was better looking than the bare bones office—chairs and desk, but thousand dollar desks and hundred dollar chairs. Who knew you could be so bland, yet spare no expense?
Unfortunately, despite his facility with B&E, Merle didn’t even know where to start looking. The files he desired weren’t to be left in a file cabinet, or even in plain sight. Assuming, of course, that he kept files on that sort of thing. The smart thing would be to just disappear everything.
And run. I would run. But then, I wouldn’t have made deals with demons and vampires in the first place, so who knows what they were thinking.
Merle moved through the room with his usual efficiency and grace. People often wondered just how he got through locked doors as though they weren’t there and find things that no one else knew how to. If anyone else knew the secret, they didn’t talk.
Thankfully, Merle also didn’t work with anyone, otherwise they would be making fun of his B&E costume: a blue windbreaker that matched his eyes, and blue jeans. His idea of undercover attire was wearing a windbreaker without FBI emblazoned on it.
Having fun with your search, brother?”
Merle leaped from the middle of searching the desk and spun to meet the gaze of his half-brother Dalf. The darker Kraft brother was swathed in black, as usual, complete with his wolf’s head silver-topped cane. The wolf’s head on the cane had eyes of rubies. The cape swirled around Dalf like he was Batman, and Merle once again examined the Boston Kraft brother for vampire fangs.
Dalf smiled, just to show that his bright white teeth were perfectly normal, blunt human teeth. Merled never seen them bloodstained, but it didnt hurt to check. Nope, not a fleck. Check.
The Eurasian ignored his Black Irish half-brother, turning away with a sigh. “I’m busy, Dalf.”
He nodded, taking in the room with a sweep of his eyes. “I see. Having an enjoyable evening of it? Or have you been frustrated in your endeavors?”
Merle gave him an eye-roll. Dalf wouldn’t go away until he played along. “What do you want?”
Dalf flowed along the room, but not moving closer, most likely just to keep his brother uncomfortable. Then again, he always did like manipulating me… and everyone else.
How have your investigations been going?”
Circular. Why?”
I hear that the government has been using wire taps on the United Nations.”
Blink. No one was supposed to have heard about that. Not even the New York Times had leaked it yet. “Indeed?”
Yes, I suspect this case has been bugging you, lately.”
Merle didn’t even react. Did my brother just suggest I bug the secretary general’s office? “You’re being helpful again, Dalf; why?”
The Boston Kraft brother narrowed his eyes, and gave Merle a smile that reminded him a little of Marco Catalano. “Because I can’t be the one to kill you if a vampire drains you first.”
* * * *
December 17th, New York City

Amanda Colt, vampire, sat on her couch, nose buried in the pages of a book on modern politics. It wasn’t so much that she needed the distance to read—in fact, she could read it from the other end of the room. It helped her forget that she was alone, in her apartment … especially when she would rather be in San Francisco, with Marco.
At his bedside, in the hospital.
But no, Jennifer Bosley wanted to see her, and had to see her “as soon as possible.”
Then she was told to wait.
Argh.
She wanted to scream. But screaming would give the neighbors the wrong idea. What a shame.
Amanda and Marco had finally made it. He loved her. Shed told him that she felt the same about him. Shed even told him her real name … assuming the pain killers hadn’t totally knocked him out.
Frustrated” didn’t really even begin to encompass it.
So she read. Since she left San Francisco, she had read twenty books. A day. And went to Mass each night. It was good enough for saints and monks, it would have to be good enough for her.
Have you gotten to the queen of the damned, yet?
Amanda started, leaping out of her chair and halfway across the apartment before she realized who had broken into her place—the only person who had ever done so without being eaten.
The red-golden-haired vampyre smiled gently. “Hello, Merle. How are you?”
The San Francisco Kraft brother nodded, and walked towards her. His hands stayed in his dark blue windbreaker. “I’m well. I’ll be damned if I can figure out exactly what’s going on over at the UN right now, but I’m working on it.”
Amanda reached back and gently put the bookmark back in the book. “Have you considered bugging the UN offices?”
He raised a brow and smiled slightly. “Funny you should say that, someone else just suggested it tonight as well. What do you think about the matter?”
The vampyre shrugged. “I have not been thinking about it. It has been…odd lately, that is all.” She sighed. “Have you had any success using Marco as bait yet?”
Merle blinked, surprised that she would even need to ask him about it one way or another. “He hasn’t told you?”
She sat down and picked up her book again. “We have not talked since I left. Cell phones and hospitals do not mix.”
Merle shrugged and moved to the nearest chair, wrapping the toe of his shoe around the chair and pulling it into position so he could sit. “First time I met you two, I figured you were at least dating, if not exchanging bodily fluids… then I discovered you were, just not the ones I had in mind. You were inseparable, and not to mention that neither one of you gave a damn about personal space.”
She allowed a corner of her mouth to curl into something like a wry smile. “Vampires generally do not acknowledge personal space. It makes it easier to eat their date.”
He rolled his eyes and sighed. Deflection was something he didn’t have time for, and as far as he was concerned, neither did she. “Give me a break, Amanda, I know you better than that, and so does Marco.”
Amanda’s eyes snapped up to meet his and the book slammed shut with what sounded like a rifle shot. “Really? You think so? Do you know how many people I’ve killed?”
Merle’s brows arched. “Do you know how little I care?”
She completely ignored the jibe. “I terrorized half the Red Army during the Revolution. I was used as propaganda against the Whites—a whisper about a demon working against the progress of Revolution. I did not even think for months, killing people to feed my hunger, feeding off Lenin’s army. I am a predator who had to retrain herself to be a human being.”
He scoffed. “Do you know how little Marco cares?
She continued without regard for his comment. “Most vampires are incontinent—sometimes they are merely lesser evils because they are like a lot of humans. They do not think, they just act. Only the thinking ones can be true evil or good.”
Merle nodded slowly, seeing that he would have to give in to the situation and actually address her concerns. “And you’re afraid that one of these days, your instincts will take over?”
Amanda could feel her blood pressure go up without her trying to make it do so. The last person who had gotten her this mad was Marco. The little wizard wasn’t going to leave her alone on this, was he? “What part of ‘I want to kill something’ don’t you get?” she snapped.
He inclined his head. “You want to tell me that in English this time.”
She blinked, not realizing that she had shouted at him in Russian.
Merle continued. “It at least explains a few things about you.” He smiled. “I always wondered why you were so much weaker than every major creature we’ve come up against. Nuala damn near killed all of us without even blinking. We won’t even go into Mister Day.”
She shrugged. “So what? I am not virtuous. I am, at best, Continent. I know what the good is, want it, and do it. Most of the time. But is it enough? Is it the right thing?
He shook his head. “No, you’re not just anything. Rory is continent, and he flinches at crosses if he doesn’t brace himself. But you pray, you wear crosses. But I know why you don’t have a power level commensurate with your level of virtue. You’ve been scared out of your mind by the level of power you might access. The nuns called it fortitude.
Merle’s eyes narrowed and he leaned forward. “You never asked what more you could do, never tested yourself to see how far you could go. Never tried to see if you could reach beyond what powers you’ve displayed thus far. You’re scared of your instincts, terrified of yourself and what you can do if you actually let yourself go deeper. Maybe you’re scared of your power, what you’ll become if you tap into it. As C.S. Lewis noted, if you don’t want it, it’s usually a good sign that you’re probably the right person to have it.
Merle stood and smoothed out his windbreaker. He gave her a look that brooked no dissent. “I don’t give a good God-damn what your supposed instincts are saying. You’ve spent decades at least on the side of right. Since you enjoy citing Aristotle so often, remember that thing about habits. It’s unlikely that you’re going to make a sudden and drastic U-turn and become another Nuala.
Perhaps you should ask yourself how you were able to so easily turn to mist and use it as a tactical weapon last week. I think you could figure it out if you put your mind to it.

As far as your boyfriend, not only is Marco a big boy, he can probably kick your undead ass should you step out of line.” He sharply tugged at the bottom of his windbreaker. “Like it or not, you’re in love with him, and I can only assume that, what I can read from a creature like Marco, is that he may even love you, too. Get over it.”

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pre-Order Conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated Series


Live and Let Bite is the second book of the Love at First Bite Series to be nominated for a Dragon Award. And yes, when half of my quartet is nominated for an award, it's the award nominated series. Brian Niemeier had gotten away with it when it was just Nethereal nominated.

So what does that mean?

It means business as usual.

Book four is coming.

Good to the Last Drop is almost here.

Yes, it's the last book. Marco and Amanda are going to have one last ride, and when I say that the armies of darkness are coming for them, I'm not exaggerating.

Of course, you know what it means when it's the end of a series, don't you?

That's right! It's time to up the body count!

For the Whedon fans out there, let's just say that it's time to .... Wash the cast.
The final war is about to begin, in this conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated series

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires.

Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror -- their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.

And that was before Marco got bit.
Yes, you read that right. Marco gets bit.

And if you think that's bad, remember what I do with my lycanthropes? That's right. They don't turn into what bit them. They turn into what best represents their dark side.

Just imagine what the physical manifestation of Marco looks like.

This ending is going to be epic.

Pre order TODAY