Thursday, August 31, 2017

Best blogs of August 2017

Hello everybody. By the time you read this, I should be flying on a jet plane. Won't be back again until... next Tuesday.

But while I'm away at DragonCon, I've got a few things.

  1. Dragon Awards. Remember to vote. If you've registered, check your email. Vote by Friday.
  2. Good to the Last Drop is out and alive. If you haven't read the series before, click here, get them all.

Now, onto the best blog posts of the month...

And this has been a really odd month.

The top ten posts on this blog this month are, well....

1) A Short Biography of a Catholic Vampire

This one was so insanely popular, I don't even know where to start, to be honest. It's already in the top ten posts of all time

And I did nothing special. At all. The hits all came from the usual sources: social media. That's it. It's like everyone descended on my blog for this one post. It happened so fast, it was like I had a Larry Correia review. And no, it wasn't shared all that often. Or at all. It's almost like people just tripped over it en mass.

I can get used to that. 

This one makes slightly more sense.

Jeffro Johnson shared this one on Castalia House's blog. Why? Because Pulp. 

Okay, again, this one isn't much of a surprise. It was a sale.

Also, I wasn't the only one sharing it around the universe. 

So, again, no surprise at how many hits this got.

Eh. A musical playlist was popular. I'm shocked.

Let's face it: it's Vatican ninjas. Tell me this doesn't sound cool.


Eh. It's an analysis of Marvel. I used the right hashtag. So surprise

7) Faster than the Speed of Pulp #PulpRev

I think this is the same old, same old: right hashtag, beating up on all the right people.

8) The Dragon Nominees, on Radio

Also not a surprise. Though I can't even imagine how many people had their computers frozen by the layout. Too many players, too often. I'll have to fix that somehow. When I get back from DragonCon.


Again, not a surprise.

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

Why this one made it and none of the others? NO idea.

Anyway, be well. See you at DragonCon.

Monday, August 28, 2017

PSA: Call of the Dragon


Thank you. This is the final PSA on the topic of registration.

There will be a final call on Friday, September 1, to vote.  But by then, I'll already be in Atlanta for DragonCon.

Thank you.


Coincidentally, the epic conclusion to my Dragon Award nominated series is live TODAY, on Kindle.

And in paperback. The pages are spear right now.

Also, coincidentally, this is the last day you can register for a Dragon Award ballot.

Coincidences are funny like that, aren't they?

But yeah, as you saw earlier today -- literally the previous post-- you can see that I've got a roundup post made for all of the prior posts. So... that's it. I think Hopefully. Yeah. Go buy it... please. Thank you.

Anyway, if you're one of those people who don't bother buying the series until the entire series is out, click here and buy all four.

Or click here to grab Good to the Last Drop.

..... Okay. I think we're done here. Be seeing you.

Illegitimi non carborundum


The Epic Conclusion to my Dragon Award nominated series is LIVE... on Kindle, but it's live.

The paperback is already here, but will take a while to merge with the Kindle page.

It has been one heck of a ride. If you wouldn't mind, I would ask everyone who has a social media account, blog, that sort of thing, to please spread the word that the book is up? If you wouldn't mind.

The sale link is here:

The flap copy for the book is, of course, at Amazon, but I'd rather keep you here as long as possible.

The description is...

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.

Right here is a round up of all of the various and sundry posts I've made about and around Good to the Last Drop since the announcement. including the announcement. So if anything here is of interest for spreading around the universe, by all means, enjoy.

Pre-Order Conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated Series
This is the original announcement. Funny enough, it has an unfortunate reference to Joss Whedon.

A History of Vatican Ninjas
With Great Power comes great artillery. Also, a The Shadow / The Saint Crossover in my head.

Playlist for "Good To the Last Drop"
A music post that's a lot of Within Temptation and a lot of Cruxshadows, with some nightwish tossed in.

By "Traditional Vampires that integrate free will," I mean "Catholic Vampires." Though, as one person replied: Weren't Vampires always Catholic? Sort of

First I played with Vampires. Then I mess with werewolves.

A Short Biography of a Catholic Vampire
I posted this last week. It's already one of my most popular posts--it's in the TOP FIVE. Of all time. Who knew?

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 1: A Little B&E Between Friends
As the title reads, Chapter one. Some catch up on the ones who have been left behind.

Going straight back to Hell. Or San Francisco

Getting some new friends. Sort of

Good to the Last Drop, Chapter 4: The Trap

I should probably mention that today is the release of my novel Good to the Last Drop

Here's chapter 4, though.

Chapter 4: The Trap

January 2nd, San Francisco

Marco Catalano, being unusually stubborn for someone who was both male and only partly Irish, walked through the evening, looking around the crypts of San Francisco to see if there was anything that didn’t know well enough to stay dead. In the back of his head, instead of a casual prayer, he had started going through a rock rendition of the Our Father, in German. It was a good tune to have while hunting.
Because Gregorian chant is not something I want to hunt vampires to.
He turned and looked at the new girl—Jackie. “Hi there.” He looked her over and sighed. “You look quite nice this evening.” He glanced at his watch. “Or should I say morning?”
She shrugged. “Just call it ‘late. What are you doing out?”
He looked out at the dark of Grant Street in Chinatown—he was in between cemeteries at the moment. “Hunting, or going for a walk. Something like that.”
Oh. Mind if I join you?”
Sure, I might as well be falling apart.”
They continued to walk down the street of the opulent neighborhood until they reached the docks along Fisherman’s Wharf. The skyline of the next city glowed in the not too distant horizon, along with a harbor cruise ship that was traveling around the bay with its continuously partying passengers. This view was lost on the two patrollers, mainly because all they saw was two women about to be sucked dry. Two targets were good for the concentration.
I’ll go for the one on the left, you the right. Sound good to you?” Marco looked over at Jackie to see whether she agreed, and found the space where she had been standing empty. He looked up to see her going at it with the two vampires.
Marco sighed. “Or we can just charge into the fight without thinking. That’s a classic.”
Marco pulled out a turpentine-soaked stake and headed after the newbie. One of the melodramatically-dressed Goth vampires saw him coming and charged head on, letting out a stereotypical horrid hiss. He briefly considered stapling the vamps hand to his forehead. His angst would send him to dust more quickly.
Dress normally, would you?” Marco growled, dodging to the right. “This isn’t a game.” Marco rammed the stake home as though he were clothes-lining the vampire.
Marco plucked the stake out, and placed it back in his belt as the vampire turned into dust. “Waste not, want not.”
Marco looked over to see Jackie being backed up against the railing by the other equally-overdressed vampire. He was about to go and help her, when he took a second look. He knew he didn’t need glasses, yet he could swear he saw a look of enjoyment on the young woman’s face.
Marco rolled his eyes. Yana had spent weeks fretting over how scary he was, and she had managed to hook up with a girl who seemed to enjoy killing the damned as much as he did.
Without hesitation, she leaped on the vampire, grabbed his head, and started making out with him… it seemed. She was actually spitting water into his mouth.
The vampire pushed her away and dropped to his knees, grabbing his throat as it disappeared under his fingers. Jackie smiled as his neck collapsed in on itself, along with the rest of his body. He then turned into dust, spilling into the breeze and blowing all over her hands, clothes, face, and hair.
Poor baby, can’t handle his drink.”
Jackie stood, faced away from the dust and took a deep breath, exhaling a deep sigh of satisfaction. She faced Marco, who still stood at a distance.
Pity, I get ready to leave, I get someone on the team who might be interesting.
Too much?” she asked, sounding surprisingly innocent for someone who had basically poured acid down his throat. But still, she was pretty nonchalant.
Jackie laughed and gave him a smile. Even from where he stood he could see her eyes dancing in the dim street light with the satisfaction of the kill. He found himself staring – he wasn’t used to being on the other side of that. “Let’s get you home.”
Why?” she protested.
Marco laughed. “I know you seem to be enjoying yourself, but as you can see…” He held up his watch. It was two hours to sunup.
Jackie sighed and replaced the holy water flask on her hip. “Suppose I can’t continue hunting when the sun is out.”
Not unless you have a ready answer for why you’re walking around with sharp pointy things in San Francisco.”
The two exchanged a look of amusement. They both knew that technically, they could go hunting in the daytime, but neither was up to the job of explaining why they were kicking open random crypt doors, looking inside for a few seconds, and then closing the door as if nothing had happened.
Jackie offered her hand. “It was nice meeting you.”
Marco walked up and yet again took her hand. “And where do you think you’re going?”
A slight sense of alarm took over Jackie. “I’m going home.” She pointed over her shoulder. “I was planning to walk down Grant.”
He gave her and incredulous look. “Uh huh. And then what?”
As she gave her answer, she realized how ridiculous it sounded. “Walk halfway across town.” She looked up at him and offered an embarrassed grin. He sighed, and walked over with her to the curbside edge.
Where exactly are you taking me?”
I’m going to put you in a cab and send you home. And if you even think of paying the fare, I’ll break your arm off here and now.”
This stunned Jackie and allowed Marco to lead her along. She never heard someone force chivalry on another, and threaten them if they tried otherwise. She was quickly seeing that this guy Marco was completely, utterly, undeniably…nuts.
They reached a major street and Marco waved down a cab. The foreign driver rolled down his window and asked with a surprising lack of accent, “Where to?”
Marco looked over at Jackie, who was still dumbfounded by threatening kindness. “You need me to check your wallet for you?” he asked, a slight tone of impatience coming through.
He shook his head and gave the driver Yana’s address. “All right then.” She watched Marco as he opened the door for her. “In you go.”
Jackie walked around and stepped into the cab, looking back up at him. “You know you don’t have to do this. I can handle the—”
He cut her off. “Do you think I was kidding about breaking your arm?” She stopped mid-sentence and just blankly stared at him. “Get in the cab.”
Without reaction from her, he placed her hand at her side and closed the door. He looked at the driver. “So how much is the damage?”
The cabby looked back at her, still a bit dumbstruck, and replied, “For her? Twenty.” Marco reached into his back pocket, pulled out a relatively small wad of twenties and handed one to him.
Before the driver took off, Marco called his attention again. “By the way? If you try anything, just remember I have your license plate memorized, and have no qualms about hunting you down and treating you with the same loving care that a white supremacist would have with you and yours. Am I understood?”
A look of pure horror emerged on the driver’s face as he mechanically nodded his agreement. “Good.” Marco pounded on the roof of the cab. “Tally-ho then.”
* * * *
Marco!” a voice snapped at him in the middle of the night. “Get up!”
His eyes snapped open. Yana was at his bedside. How did that happen?
We need to go, now!”
Marco kicked the covers off and rolled off the bed, onto his feet, still fully dressed, with a knife in his hand. “What is it?”
Yana looked over her shoulder. “No time, we have to go, now!”
He stopped, glanced at the door, fully locked and bolted. “Well, whatever you are, you’re not omniscient. At least theres that much.”
He looked over his shoulder and launched a side kick, his foot going through Yana’s chest, like a hologram. He smiled broadly as he pulled his leg back. “I didn’t know vampires could have astral projection. Or are you a ghost?”
The projected image of Yana smiled, speaking now with a slight Russian accent. “Glad to meet you, Marco. I’ve had my eye on you ever since you killed my brother.”
Marco winced, taken aback for a moment. A Russian accent meant a Russian vampire, and there was only one other Russian vampire that he knew outside of Amanda, and he had been killed in Brooklyn the year before. Which meant…
Marco smiled drolly. “Yes, your brother Mikhail. I hate to point out that Nuala killed him.” He raised a brow. “Let me guess, either you’re outside, or you have minions waiting? How absolutely cliché. Hell, you’re his vengeful brother, should I assume you’re a twin?”
The Yana image gave him Yana’s puppy-dog eyes and innocently asked, “Why would I have any minions?”
Marco backed up onto his bed. “You couldn’t count on me being cooperative enough to leave my room, and you can’t get in without an invite. You’d have them because I’m a scary bastard, otherwise why waste a demon and an assassin on me? I’m honored that the Council still thinks I’m a threat.”
Yana” raised a brow. “Threat? To me?”
The New Yorker’s eyes narrowed. The vampire didn’t contradict Marco’s statement about the Council, so that confirmed his supposition. The image didn’t say us, but me—which gave Marco a guess that the Council had only the one vampire left to go. “I know that you can be beaten. Otherwise, you’d just come out and strike. That you’re resorting to, well, this, means you want to wear us down, so you can kill us.”
Let’s find out,” the fake Yana said. “You’ve said you are what you’re needed to be. Well, I need you dead!”
An ax hit the door.

You can purchase Good to the Last Drop here

And if you haven't bought the books before, 

You can buy them all here. Now.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Catholic Geek: Final Dragon 08/27

The Catholic Geek: Final Dragon 08/27 by We Built That Network | Culture Podcasts:

Declan Finn goes through the Dragon Award Ballot, Joss Whedon's latest problems, reviews the Defenders, and some of Nerdom's latest news.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My 2017 Dragon Award Vote

Remember, after August 28th, you can no longer register to vote in the Dragon Awards.

After you've registered, you have until September 1st to vote.

SIGN UP TO VOTE HERE. They will email your ballot to you.

If you have no idea what the Dragon awards are ... you must be new here. Sorry. It's a long story, and you can find explanations all over the site. Or you can look it up over at the DragonCon website


When we last looked at the Dragons, the ballot looked like this.

Best Science Fiction Novel
I know three names here. I know Brian and Richard, obviously, and I know Scalzi more by the fights he's picked with Larry Correia than by any of his work--I can name you two titles of his, and that's it.

Brian has an argument that goes that he will give his award to L. Jagi Lamplighter (see below) if he wins. He wants to make sure Scalzi doesn't get it, and Jagi is his editor, so he's giving her credit.

Yes, I know the name Cixin Liu from last year's Rabid Puppies, but that's about it.

My vote is for Richard.

My bet for victor? Brian. In part because Happy Frogs is behind Brian, and Brian's campaigning fairly well for it.

Best Fantasy Novel 
(Including Paranormal)

I know Larry, John and Vox.

I'm vaguely aware of Faith Hunter ... I think

I'm voting for John.

My bet? Also John Ringo. Because Vox might have people, but have you MET John Ringo?

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
There are so many different ways for this to play out, it's not funny.

I'm voting for Jagi. But even she's placing money on the Percy Jackson guy, or even Sarah Maas, to win. I don't even think the support of Happy Frogs will win her that one.

Best Military Science Fiction 
or Fantasy Novel
For the love of God, what do we do with this?

Baen books in a MilSF category? I usually expect them to steamroll the rest.... except there are two of them. Glint and Gannon. So do they cancel each other out and clear the field for the rest?

Fox is a Vox pick.

Star Realms is a Happy Frogs pick.

And then there's Mark Wandrey....with his own an active online fan base.

My vote will go to Jon. I haven't read any of the nominees this year, but for friendship's sake, I'll vote for Jon.

My BET on who will win? Your bet is as good as mine. This furball can go any which way.

Best Alternate History Novel
Flint vs Turtledove. Hmm. Were this the Oscars, I would say Turtledove, since Flint got an award last year. But don't bet on it. This is another clusterf***. Flint's a big name in Alt-His. Harry's a big name in Alt-His.  Lou's AGAP was amazing and fun, and Happy Frogs is backing Lou. Kai Wai Cheah is a Vox backed pick.

I'm voting for Lou.

I'm betting on no one.

Best Apocalyptic Novel
Dan Humphreys got in. Good for him. He's part of CLFA, and made the Superversvie Dragon Award list. So, yay.

I don't know Akkad. I don't know Heinz. I'm told that Doctorow has enough name recognition to squah everyone.  Oh, look, John Holmes again! Good for him.

And, of course, Codename: UnSub

Do I have to mention who I'm voting for?

My money on who WINS? Probably Doctorow.

Best Horror Novel
Tom Tinney's a friend from CLFA, he's been a guest on the podcast a few times. Good guy. Dubeau? Larrinaga? Summers, LaValle.... Yikes. Do I know these people? Answer, of course not, I don't actually read horror. Technically, I don't even write horror, I write paranormal romance or Urban Fantasy, depending on who you ask.

Then there's Dan Wells.

Of course, Live and Let Bite is a finalist.

I don't have to tell you who I'm voting for here, do I?

Who wins? No idea. Happy Frogs is backing me. But Dan Wells is the big name here. I suspect he'll steamroll us all. But I haven't heard him campaign any, so ... who knows? If I win and the award ceremony is disrupted, that's because I had a heart attack in the front row.

Best Comic Book
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eleven by Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs
  • Motor Girl by Terry Moore
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa
  • Saga by Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
  • Wynonna Earp Legends by Beau Smith, Tim Rozon, Melanie Scrofano, Chris Evenhuis
  • The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo
Jim Butcher wins.

And ... No. Jim Butcher.

... I don't care. Jim Butcher.

Shut up.

Best Graphic Novel
  • Clive Barker Nightbreed #3 by Marc Andreyko, Clive Barker, Emmanuel Xerx Javier
  • Girl Genius: the Second Journey of Agatha Heterodyne, Book 2: The City of Lightning by Phil and Kaja Foglio
  • Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez
  • Love is Love by Marc Andreyko, Sarah Gaydos, James S. Rich
  • March Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
  • Stuck in My Head by J.R. Mounts
Ugh.... and I like Girl Genius.

Sigh. Butcher is here, too.


Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
  • Doctor Who, BBC
  • Lucifer, Fox
  • Marvel’s Agents of Shield, ABC
  • Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Sky1
  • Stranger Things, Netflix
  • The Expanse, Syfy
  • Westworld, HBO
  • Wynonna Earp, Syfy
Surprisingly, I neither know nor care. I'll vote for Lucifer.

My bet on the win? Stranger Things or The Expanse

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
  • Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 directed by James Gunn
  • Logan directed by James Mangold
  • Passengers directed by Morten Tyldum
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards
  • Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins
Arival v Doctor Strange v Guardians 2 v Logan v Wonder Woman....

I'll vote Strange.

No bet on who wins this one.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
  • Dishonored 2 by Arkane Studios
  • Final Fantasy XV by Square Enix
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda by Bioware
  • NieR: Automata by PlatinumGames
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo
  • Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment
Final Fantasy has a fan base going back 30 years. As does Zelda. One of them.

I'll vote for (coin toss) Final Fantasy.

Who wins between those two? [Tosses coin. Coin rolls away]: No bet.

Who will lose? Mass Effect Andromeda.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
  • Con Man: The Game by Monkey Strength Productions
  • Fire Emblem Heroes by Nintendo
  • Monument Valley 2 by Ustwogames
  • Pokemon GO by Niantic
  • Sky Dancer by Pine Entertainment
  • Super Mario Run by Nintendo
Pokemon GO. No bet. We're done. It was so addictive and so popular last year, it's not even funny.

And no, I didn't play it at all.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill
  • Gloomhaven by Cephalofair Games
  • Hero Realms by White Wizard Games
  • Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Scythe by Stonemaier Games
  • Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games

I have no horse in this race. I don't even have a bet on a horse.

WINNER: Eh. Whoever.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

  • A Shadow Across the Galaxy X-Wing Wave X by Fantasy Flight Games
  • Bloodborne: The Card Game by CMON Limited
  • Dark Souls: The Board Game by Steamforged Games
  • Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast
  • Pulp Cthulhu by Chaosium
  • Star Wars: Destiny by Fantasy Flight Games
Again, not my scene. [Rolls 6-sided die]. Um ... Star Wars?

Once again, I'd like to thank all of you folks in the fan base for chipping in in the first place, and coming out to vote. If you look at my two nominations with thoughts of "If I vote for him twice, will that be a problem?" No. If I get both wins, one goes to my co-author on UnSub.

Assuming I get either.

If you have your votes firmly set, and you don't want to squeeze in just one last bookbefore voting, you can vote below.

Remember, you may register to receive a ballot until Monday, August 28th at 11:59PM. You must be submit your ballot by September 1, 11:59 EDT

If you want to vote NOW, vote here. As they say in Chicago, vote early, vote often.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Short Biography of a Catholic Vampire

One of the fun things about being a historian who writes about vampires is that I get to plug vampires into history.

Obviously, in this particular case, there's one very special vampire I want to plug in. A vampire with a certain set of skills.

Enter Amanda Colt, the heroine of my vampire series.

Yes, for those people who have read Live and Let Bite, I recall that's not her birth name, but I don't want to confuse people by having two names for the same character.

It's even worse, given that she's Russian by birth. She could have up to three or four different names, depending on how the patronymics are utilized.

Obviously, some of these are a little vague. In part because I haven't written that part of the biography yet ... and in part because there are some stories I'd like to be able to tell if I ever do come back to this universe.

1899 Born
1919 Bitten
1920 Left Russia with AEF
  • There was an American Expeditionary Force sent into Siberia at the end of World War I. There were a collection of 15 countries (depending on how you want to count them). They were supposedly sent to put down the Communist uprising, but the orders were so muddled, and the support so lax, it looked more like soldiers were sent to get shot at.
  • In this particular case, Amanda helps the AEF out of the area. She is allowed to live, due to services rendered. Also, a box of dirt is brought along.
1920s: She occasionally works with the British Government. Amanda watches the Russian Orthodox Church first suppressed by, and subverted by, Communists. Abandons faith. She tries to explain just how much of a problem the coming Soviet Union is, but everyone believed John Reed's propaganda that "I have seen the future, and it works." Also, she notes this Mein Kampf book, and has a bad feeling about this.

1933: After seeing the rise of this Austrian paper hanger in Germany, she reports the demonic activity and influence she sees in Mein Kampf, AND the vampire activity in Gulags. She is ignored.

1935: After years of Amanda looking at Germany with horror, and getting NOWHERE, Amanda hears of a guy in Lourdes speaking out against the Nazis as dressing up old ideas in new tinsel. He was a Catholic Cardinal name Pacelli.

1937: The Catholic Church officially condemns Communists and fascists the same week.  After finding SOMEONE who concurs with her on both of these horrors, Amanda starts the process of becoming a Catholic.

1939: War breaks out. She's generally considered of the Allies, but spends much of her time in the West, going between the Allies, as well as the Vatican.

1941: Operation Barbarossa breaks out. Amanda still doesn't go into the Soviet Union. The vampires for the Germans and Soviets do not go to war with each other, preferring to be camp guards. Nazi vampires go West on occasion.

1939-1945: Puts down multiple operations and experiments of a supernatural nature.

1947: She is recruited by an old acquaintance during the War, Allen Dulles. She knows him less through his OSS days, and more through his nephew Avery, who had joined the Jesuits the year before. She is brought into the newly minted CIA.

1947-1993: Hilarity ensues.

1993: Amanda Colt fired due to the "peace dividend" of Bill Clinton.

1993-Honor at Stake.... will be discussed in Good to the Last Drop.

Pre-order Good to the Last Drop, the epic conclusion to the entire Love at First Bite series, and see how the journey ends.

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.

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

The Catholic Geek: Enter the Dragon 2017 08/20

The Catholic Geek: Enter the Dragon 2017 08/20 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Host Declan Finn reads excerpts from some of this year's Dragon Award Finalists. Also expect a call in from Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier.

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.