Thursday, 30 June 2011

Dreams Come True!

Oh, yes they do!

Today my first urban fantasy Kissed by Darkness is LIVE on Amazon and Smashwords.


You can buy it here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Smashwords

Melissa over at Were Vamps Romance is interviewing me today. She has given Kissed by Darkness a 5/5 review. SQUEE! Stop by her blog because she’s running a contest today. You can win your very own copy of KbD FREE!!! Even more SQUEE!!!




Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Everything's Better With Zombies

Just in case you haven't heard, tomorrow is the release date for my urban fantasy novel, Kissed by Darkness. Woohoo!

But to keep us intertained (and myself from going insane) this Writer Wednesday, I've got something special up my sleeve. Today we're Getting Jack'd!

That's right, I've got the amazingly talented Jack Wallen here to share a little about his upcoming novels Shero and My Zombie My. Jack's quite possibly one of the coolest guys I know. He also looks better in my stillettos than I do. ;-)

Welcome Jack!


SM: As you know, I loved I Zombie I, so thanks for agreeing to be my second
interview victim. I mean participant. You already know that I love to
be nosy ask intelligent and thought provoking questions. So, without further ado:

Just for kicks and giggles (Also because I’m a dork and I know you are, too.), if you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be?

Find out Jack's answer on my Wordpress blog.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sample Sunday: Kissed by Darkness

Kissed by Darkness is out this coming Thursday, 30 June 2011!!!

Danger is always on the menu for Morgan Bailey, a sexy and street-smart bounty hunter, who prowls the dark underworld of Portland, Oregon hunting creatures of the night. Morgan’s never met a vampire she couldn’t dust or a demon she couldn't kill until she's hired to destroy a new kind of mystical threat: the Sunwalker.

A powerful immortal once believed myth, the Sunwalker carries with him an ancient secret which, if left unchecked, will destroy Morgan’s world. Pursued by a passionate Templar Knight and the target of the local vampire clans, an ancient power is awakened within her, unlike anything she’s ever known. Morgan must uncover the truth behind her mission and about herself, before the Darkness lurking inside swallows her whole.




To celebrate the here is the very first scene from the very first chapter for your reading pleasure:

“You’re dripping blood on my carpet. Again.” The voice was as expressionless as the face. Only a slight glint behind deep brown eyes betrayed the fact that Kabita Jones, my boss and best friend, was extremely peeved.

I could sort of see her point. Last time she’d had to replace the carpet. This time the blood only went up to my elbows and it was mostly dry already. There were just a couple of drips. It wasn’t like she couldn’t get the place steam cleaned.

“That’s what you get for calling me in right after a hunt.” I dropped into one of the two chairs in front of her massive mahogany desk. She scowled at me. She didn’t like me getting blood all over her fake leather chairs, either. Bad for business, having a client sit down in a pool of vampire blood.

“Here.” She tossed me a box of wet wipes, only semi-effective for cleaning blood off things, but certainly better than nothing. I grabbed a wipe and scrubbed at my arm. That’s when I noticed a few drops of blood in my cleavage. Gross.

Kabita leaned back in her chair. “How do you like weird?”

As though killing vampires and demon spawn and other creepy crawlies for a living was normal. I tried to raise an eyebrow at her, but I was no Mr. Spock; both went up. “Define weird.”

“Weird. As in: ‘up your alley’ weird.”

Ah, she meant blood suckers. Nightwalkers. Minions of Darkness. Otherwise known as vampires. Right.

Except for Kabita and me, vampires weren’t weird. They were normal, everyday stuff. Or maybe I should say every-night stuff. It was like saying that baking bread was a weird job for a baker.

Kabita ran a private investigation firm which specialized in hunting down things the government liked to pretend didn’t exist. Creatures that would give most normal people nightmares. The government paid us decent money to track and kill the monsters while maintaining a cover as private investigators that did nothing more exciting than investigate cheating spouses. We got excitement and fortune, if not fame. The government got plausible deniability. We all went home happy.

“And how is this weirder than any other ‘up my alley’ case?” I asked as I cleaned off the last of the blood.

She pushed a file gingerly across the desk. Despite being one of the best demon spawn hunters in the business, Kabita found vampires extremely distasteful, not to mention creepy. Go figure. “It’s not an ordinary vamp,” she said. “It’s a Sunwalker.”

I checked to make sure my jaw wasn’t lying on her desk. Nope, still attached to my face. “A Sunwalker? You’re kidding, right?”

“Our new client wants us to hunt this Sunwalker and kill him, but more importantly, he wants us to retrieve something the Sunwalker stole from his family. He’ll fill you in on the details. You’re to meet him at this address.” She shoved a piece of paper across at me while carefully tucking a strand of long, ink black hair behind her ear.

Despite edging on forty, she didn’t have a single strand of gray. I hadn’t quite hit thirty yet, twenty-nine to be exact, but I hoped I looked half as good as she did at forty. I had my doubts. My job wasn’t exactly the kind that kept one young.

I shook my head. “This is insane. A Sunwalker? As in vampires who can walk in sunlight? You do know they’re not real, right? Sunwalkers are just a myth.”

She gave me a look. She was good at “the look.” “Excuse me, oh Great Slayer of Vampires, but you don’t have a choice. Not if you want to keep your job.”

Which I did, and she knew it. There was something so immensely satisfying about going to work and hacking someone or something’s head off. They didn’t usually let you do that at, say, the pharmaceutical company or the post office, even if that someone really deserved it. They kind of frowned on it, actually. I also got to wear jeans and really cool kick-ass boots every day.

Truth was, though, Kabita knew I loved a good challenge. She wasn't just my boss, she was also my friend and would never give me anything I couldn’t handle, no matter how much I bitched and moaned about an assignment. I was damn good at killing vamps. A Sunwalker would just be a little more … tricky. Not only were they not supposed to exist, but how were you supposed to find a vampire that could walk around in daylight? Heck, he probably even had a nice tan.

“Jesus, Kabita. What have you gotten me into this time?” It was rhetorical and accompanied by an eye roll. I snatched the paper off the desk. “Fine. I’ll meet him after I take a shower.”

“Good idea.”

I just glared at her. Sarcastic witch.

Her return smile was annoyingly beatific.






Saturday, 25 June 2011

Friday, 24 June 2011

Friday Farrago: Vampire Assassins and the Samba Queen

There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting ~ George Carlin


One of the things I've had to get used to living in the UK is the complete lack of summer. Well, maybe not a complete lack, but there sure isn't much of it. We had a couple weeks of gorgeous weather last month and now the rain gods are paying us back big time.

Never mind. At least it's an excuse to curl up with a good book and some hot cocoa. I also find rainy days very conducive to writing.

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb



Great picture of me, huh?

Bwahahaha!!! Yeah, I know. Totally not me. Put me in a Brazilian samba club and I stick out like a sore thumb. But not because I can't dance. I can dance, baby! Boy, can I dance. ;-)

Last night I went dancing with my work peeps. Sort of a good-bye to one of the girls who is headed back to Brazil. I haven't been dancing in ages and it was so invigorating. When you spend so much time hunched over a keyboard, locked inside the ravings of your own lunatic mind, it's good to get out and get your groove thang on.

Or maybe that's just me. But I highly recommend a good old booty shake from time to time. Just to shake up the creative juices.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King



This week I've been reading Stephen King's On Writing. I think it should be a must read for any writer or aspiring writer. Heck, even if you have no interest in writing, it's still a great read. Part autobiography and part how-to, it read just like one of his novels. I'm a little over a third of the way through.

I also finished Janet Evanovich's latest installment in her Stephanie Plum series: Smokin' Seventeen. Hilarious as ever.

I was reading indie author Theresa Ragan's novel A Knight in Central Park before I got sidetracked by Evanovich. Before I get back to it, I thought I'd enjoy a quick read, so I downloaded a novella by Samantha Warren. It's the first in her Vampire Assassin series. I read more than half of it during my lunch break and will probably finish the rest on my ride home. It's a great read for a great price.

And speaking of Samantha, let me tell you a little story about WHY I bought her novella. Just in case you were wondering?

Us indie authors (and I imagine authors in general) often wonder how to promote our books. As a reader, I don't think I had any real awareness of just how hard it is to do. But as both reader and writer I do know that slapping your book (literally or figuratively) in someone's face and screaming "Read my book!" isn't the way to do it.

Samantha didn't do that. Instead she responded to a Tweet I made. I responded back. We had a "brief" conversation that had nothing to do with either of our novels and everything to do with reading, movies, and Firefly.


Yeah, baby! That's what I'm talkin' about! But I digress...

The point is that the awesome Samantha made an effort to connect with me. As a person and as a fellow lover of books. And that made me want to read her books. So I headed over to Amazon and downloaded one then and there.

This is how to market, people. Not with slick, shiny, in-your-face ads, but with connections. Conversation. If you want to know more about effective Twittering and Sacred Cow Tipping, I highly recommend checking out Kristen Lamb's blog. You'll thank me later.


Now how about YOU? What have you been reading this week?




Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Weird Wednesday: The Weirdo Magnet Meets Dead Sexy

You can also read and comment on this post over at my Wordpress site.



It's a well known fact in certain circles that I am in possession of a Weirdo Magnet. I attract random human weirdness like a cow pie attracts flies. Something I have in common with the main character of my novel, Morgan Bailey.

Like most people, I collect certain things. I collect teacups, Christmas ornaments, books, ex-husbands and stalkers.

Oh, yes, my Weirdo Magnet is fully charged and working just fine. Let me give you an example.

This was probably about a year and a half ago, I was waiting at the bus stop after work with my nose in a book, as usual. I got on the bus and rode to my stop, as usual. I got off the bus and cut through the shopping centre on the way home, as usual. What was not usual was that I found myself suddenly with a walking companion. One who started chattering away at me with an accent so thick that I only understood about every fourth word.

He must have rambled on for a good fifteen minutes, of which I caught only a fraction. I would have thought my eyes glazing over would have shut him down, but no. The gist of his monologue was something to do with my appearance. I'm pretty sure he found it attractive. Though I'm not entirely sure since there was mention of "lots of other women". He also repeated over and over that he didn't know me. Obviously a genius of some renown.

It really got weird when he started telling me how he'd followed me on the freaking bus! That's right, he lived in an entirely different area of the city (London is pretty substantial.), yet not only did he follow me onto the bus, he followed me OFF the bus. So he could talk to me.

Right. Because following a complete stranger around the city is so dead sexy.

We'd just spent 20 minutes on the same bus. There was even an empty space next to me, yet instead of approaching me on the bus where I might have felt safe, he pretty much stalked me through the shopping mall. He would probably have even followed me to my home (I got the feeling that was his intention.), but I refused to budge from the shopping centre. I may be in possession of a giant Weirdo Magnet, but I'm not stupid.

When he started rambling about meeting up, I knew I was in trouble. I got the distinct feeling this guy would not take "no" for an answer. Now I'm not one to use the fake boyfriend for an excuse to get away from a guy, but at that moment instinct was screaming VERY loudly. So, I lied. Sort of.

"I'm married!" I blurted out. It wasn't exactly a lie. I've collected more than one husband in my time. Unfortunately, he wasn't phased. He just started mumbling something about "divorce" and "separation". I think he wanted wait listed or something. There was also frequent mention of him living in another part of town. Apparently, this makes it OK to cheat on imaginary husbands.

I assured him my husband would not appreciate me meeting with him in any capacity. Thanked him nicely, told him I was flattered, but made it very clear that... HELL NO!!!!!!!!!

He was angry. That much was obvious. Fortunately I'd had the brains to stay inside the mall very close to where all the security guards hang out.



I still double checked several times on my way home to make sure I wasn't followed.

Just a suggestion. If you think a girl is hot and want to ask her out, stalking her may not be the best idea. It ain't sexy. Actually, it's kinda creepy.

Of course, my Giant Weirdo Magnet makes for some good stories. In fact, stories of the weirdos met during my attempt at online dating inspired one of my favorite scenes in Kissed by Darkness: Morgan's blind date. I had a lot of fun writing the scene and it was really quite cathartic.

Chaucer was right; payback in fiction is so much fun.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Get Your Party On!

It's finally here!



It's party time, people! And this dude is here to make sure you have a good time:



So get your party hats on:



Some music to set the mood:


Have a drinkie:


There's more than enough Devil's Food Cake to go around. Help yourself!



I first met James Rollins five years ago.

Okay, not literally. I wish (Fan girl SQUEE!)

I'd just moved to the UK and had hit the local library desperate for something to read. I'd recently discovered thrillers, thanks to Dan Brown, and I wanted something similar. Something with lots of action and excitement, a mystery, some history, maybe a little science.

I got all that and a bag of chips.

For there, on the library shelf was a book called Sandstorm by this Rollins guy. Explosions, lost cities, clandestine organizations, mysticism, legend, and quite possibly the end of the world. What's not to like?

Let me tell you, I was hooked. I've bought and read every single James Rollins book since. (Okay, I might have checked out one or two from the library, but I bought most of them.) I've also been stalking him for quite some time on Facebook and Twitter, but we won't talk about that.... Ahem.

Why do I love Rollins's books so very much? Uh....

I'm rubbish at the whole dissection of writing thing, but it boils down to this:
  • Characters I care about.
  • Fast paced action that never sacrifices plot.
  • Really cool and obscure history and science which some baddie is trying to use for nefarious purposes.
  • Twists and turns I never see coming.
And now the devilish man is taunting me with yet another delicious installment in his SIGMA Force series:





James Rollins talks devilish secrets:


The Devil Colony is available TODAY in the USA. In the UK, Amazon will let you pre-order the hardback. No ebook available yet in the UK, but let's hope it comes out soon. I'm running out of room on my Rollins shelf...


The party doesn't stop here, people. Join in the fun on Twitter at #DevilColony all day where James Rollins may just pop by to say hello.

The party continues:
  1. James Rollins Parties with Taco Sea Nags! « EduClaytion
  2. Devilish Fun…A Worldwide Book Launch Party! | Writers In The Storm Blog
  3. Friday Devil’s Playground: The Key To “Man-Speak” and a Devilish Party | Jenny Hansen's Blog
  4. The Devil’s Treasures – James Rollins « Gene Lempp's Blog
  5. Dance With The Devil In The Pale Moonlight or It’s A Party and You’re Invited! | Shéa MacLeod – Author
  6. Swooning, Devil Author, Twitter Parties, and James Rollins | Leanne Shirtliffe ~ Ironic Mom
  7. Do You Have A Devilish Soundtrack For Your Launch Party? | Jenny Hansen's Blog
  8. Swooning, the Devil, and Twitter (Cross-post) | Wordbitches
  9. Tuesday Plans | Amanda Bozeman
  10. What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Great Writing « Kristen Lamb's Blog
  11. Silver Screen Wishes and Movie Theater Dreams | Sonia G Medeiros
  12. The Devil’s Playground: Unleashing Our Devilry Throughout the Blogosphere | Jenny Hansen's Blog
  13. Worldwide Twitter Book Launch! | Bridgette Booth

Monday, 20 June 2011

Everything I Know I Learned From Star Trek

I’m in the midst of re-reading my novel to catch any last minute errors before shooting it off to the formatter. (Egads!) So, I’m a little short on time. But I wanted to share this BRILLIANT post from Kristen Lamb (Whose book We Are Not Alone is a MUST read for any indie writer.) on what we can learn about writing from Star Trek.

Enjoy!

What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Great Writing Happy Monday! Last week, we picked on the poor Star Wars prequels. What went wrong? Better yet, what lessons can we, as writers, take away from some serious storytelling blunders? If you missed this discussion, go here, and check out the comments. Some people way smarter than me stopped by, that's for certain. So, this week, I decided that this piece I wrote about STAR TREK last year might be a nice follow-up to the Star Wars piece from last week … Read More

via Kristen Lamb's Blog





Saturday, 18 June 2011

Dance With The Devil In The Pale Moonlight or It's A Party and You're Invited!




Get your party hats on! Well, not quite yet. You can wait. Until Tuesday. THEN you can break out your party hats.

Why?

Because we are joining in the fun. Tuesday 21 June, the fabulous Kristen Lamb is throwing quite possibly the biggest launch party EVER for the incredibly talented James Rollins. Kristen and I are both major fan girls. It's embarrassing. But what can you do?

I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to join in on the fun!

The party theme? Devil. Which is appropriate since the new book is called The Devil Colony.


Wear a devil costume. Eat some deviled eggs. Or better yet, some Devil's Food Cake
(Nom! Nom!). Wear a silly costume. Or dress your dog in a silly costume. Take pictures, post pictures. Listen to "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" at least a hundred times. Let's make this the biggest, coolest (er, warmest?) party EVER!


Most importantly, join us on Twitter at #DevilColony hashtag. Why? Because it'll be fun. Not good enough? Fine. How about this?

James Rollins himself will be popping in to say "hey".

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

OMG, I just had another fan girl moment. (Blushes in shame.)

On the day I'll be doing a post on how I discovered the Sigma Force books and why I like them so much. There will be virtual champagne. I'll be sharing lots of linky goodness to other virtual parties around the world. I might even dress up. (Do pajamas count?)


Friday, 17 June 2011

TGIF, Baby!


It's Friday!!!! (I shall pause to give you time for the Snoopy Dance.)

Feel better? I sure do!

Now, to business ...

Follow Friday (#FF)

Today is the dreaded Follow Friday over on Twitter. For you Twitter Virgins, Follow Friday is the oppotunity to tell the world who you think they should follow on Twitter. Which is a great idea, except that it usually involves my feed getting clogged up with message after message containing nothing but strings of @soandso. Ugh.

Worst of all? I'm guilty of doing the SAME thing!

So imagine my thrill when I stumbled acrossed a post by Kristen Lamb on this very issue!

Friday Book Club

I haven't done Friday Book Club in awhile. Bad me! To be honest, I keep forgetting. (Rolls eyes at self.)

This week I've been reading Nightfall, the awesome new post-apocalyptic romantic advnture (with magic!) by Ellen Connor.

And who is this Ellen Connor, you might ask? It's the psuedonym for the fantabulous writing pair, Carrie Lofty and Ann Aguirre. (What am I? A poet? Geez.) I've never read anything by Carrie Lofty, but I'm a big fan of Ann Aguirre's. Also I love tales of the apocalypse sooo much it's weird. I was really looking forward to this novel and it hasn't disappointed.

What I'm Doing This Friday

Last night I finished an epic round of edits on Kissed by Darkness. Now it's back with my fabulous editor, Lauren, for a final once over. Then it's off to the formatter. God willin' and the sky don't fall, I'll be able to upload it on the 30th. Yeehaw! The first of the Sunwalker Saga will be let loose on the world.

Which means it's PARTY TIME!

I need a break. Seriously. So tonight no writing, no rewriting, no edits. I'm headed out with my soul sistah Sheena for some tasty beverages and girly gossip in London town. I can't think of a better way to enjoy a Friday night and celebrate another milestone on my road to publishing.

Sunwalker Press

And speaking of Sunwalkers, I've decided to publish under the publishing name Sunwalker Press. There are a lot of reasons for this (Expounded by indie publishing giants Dean Wesley Smith and Robin Sullivan. You can read more about it on their blogs.) having to do with good business practices. And I thought "Sunwalker Press" sounded rather nice.

How about you?

What have you been reading and enjoying this week?

And how are you celebrating another Fabulous Friday?







Thursday, 16 June 2011

Spotlight: Modern Witches and Matchmakers

Today I'm spotlighting the novels of indie author Debora Geary.

I've followed Debora's posts on the Kindle Boards for awhile now, and she's a really cool lady. Recently she quit her job to write full time, which was AWESOME (and I'm totally jealous).

Debora currently has three books out:


Can Mick find love for her Losers and love for herself? Humorous romance with a chick-lit feel.

Gotta love a matchmaker.

Jake thought he was rescuing a juvenile delinquent witch… Light romance with a little magic.

Dear Lord, I hope she's not a juvenile!

Spellcoding witches, ice cream, and irresistible characters. Light fantasy with a good dose of love and laughter.

I have no idea what "spellcoding" is, but it sounds interesting.

Yesterday I bought all three books. I swear, owning a Kindle is dangerous! I haven't read them yet, obviously, but if Debora writes anything like her posts on KB, these will be a fun read.

You can find Debora Geary's Amazon page here.





Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Weird Things Americans Say

Having my first book edited has pretty much brought home the fact that my linguistic abilities are seriously messed up.

I blame the British.

With their weird grammar and random additions of vowels, it's not surprising I've lost the plot. Which means, uh, gone a little mad. My poor editor...

But since I have complained about the British and their odd grammar habits, I think it only fair that I point out a few of OUR odd habits. Especially the rather strange things we say.

For instance, one day in conversation I referred to something as a doohicky. Now, any self-respecting red-blooded American knows exactly what a doohicky is. No explanation needed. However, it is completely foreign to the British ear. The poor man looked completely baffled. "Doohicky?" he repeated, as if not quite sure he'd heard me right. "Whatever is a doohicky?"

How to explain a doohicky? "Ummm..." I began (most intelligently), "it's a doodad." More bafflement. "A thingamajig. A thingy. A whatsit." I think he finally got it, but I'm not really sure. Hopefully he didn't think it was anything dirty. That would have been embarrassing.

The second odd thing Americans say isn't really something most Americans say at all. It's something my soul sister Sheena started and which proud tradition I have continued. When surprised by something, rather than saying the typical, "Oh, my gosh," one says, "Oh, Mylanta!" British friends have found this odd. Probably because they don't actually know what Mylanta is until I explain it. Which makes it much less funny.

One of my more embarrassing moments happened shortly after moving to London. I was in a conversation with a group of people and commented that I needed to stop fannying about and get with the program. Admittedly, this is not a particularly common phrase even in the good old USA, but it raised quite a few eyebrows. Fanny means something entirely different in British. Something entirely rude, I might add.

The first time I asked for toilet paper, no one knew what on earth I was talking about. Despite the fact that "toilet paper" was written in big letters over the paper products aisle at the grocery store. I know better now. I ask for "toilet roll". Or if I'm feeling posh, it's "loo roll".

The way I pronounce towns sends everyone into either fits of giggles or ardent rapture. Evidently I make Doncaster sound exotic. Which takes some doing as I've been to Doncaster and it's far from exotic. They've also decided Seattle sounds better when I say it, too. Naturally. I know how to say it properly.

I want to take this moment to let all my American readers know that I have yet to hear a British person use the word "smashing" as an exclamation except as a joke. No one under 80 says "jolly good" or "toodle pip". And they still laugh at me every time I say "awesome".

How about you? Any funny words or phrases from your neck of the woods? I promise not to laugh. Much.



Sunday, 12 June 2011

Inspiration's All Around Me...

I'm often asked where I get my inspiration for the stories and characters I write. If you're a writer, you understand that's pretty much an impossible question to answer.

Inspiration is all around us, inside us. And it's usually not one thing that inspires a story or a character, it's a thousand little things that snowball into a germ of an idea which grows into something incredibly fantastic. Something we have to write about.

That's what it is for me, anyway. I can't point to a single instance and say "That inspired Morgan Bailey." What I can do is show you the places that make up Morgan Bailey's world...

I'm originally from Portland, Oregon. Portland is an amazing city, full of the wonderful and weird. It felt natural to make it Morgan's home, too. I decided that if I was going to use a real city, I was going to use real places, too. At least as much as possible. Some places are obviously made up. Fringe, unfortunately, doesn't exist. But there are plenty of places that do.

Take this building, for instance...

This building inspired the detective agency where Morgan works and which her best friend, Kabita Jones, owns. I think the real building is a cafe or something, but that's the beautiful thing about imagination. It's now an the location for an undercover monster hunting operation. Oh, yeah, baby!

How about this one:
Funky, no?

It's a real shop in Portland called The Third Eye. They sell everything from incense and die-dye t-shirts to tarot cards and crystals. It's pretty obvious it inspired the occult bookstore Majicks and Potions owned by Eddie Mulligan.

Morgan's favorite coffee shop is Common Grounds. Guess what, it's my favorite coffee shop in Portland, too. Yes, it's real and yes, the coffee is fantastic.



Morgan likes to hunt on the ground of the Pittock Mansion. Bet the Historical Society would be surprised it's a hunting ground favorite by vampires. They would probably NOT be surprised to find out it's a lover's lane of sorts.


Growing up in this city with this view, how could I NOT be inspired?


What places inspire you?

Sample Sunday: Kissed by Darkness Chapter 3c

Stayed tuned later today for an interview with author Norah Wilson. In the meantime, please enjoy another chunk from my upcoming urban fantasy novel, Kissed by Darkness. If you've missed my previous Sample Sunday postings, you can find them here:



Majicks and Potions was on the northeast side of town, sandwiched in between a used car lot and a burger joint. It was a ramshackle building with a huge Third Eye painted dead in the middle of the wall above the entrance and arcane symbols in day-glo colors scattered around the rest of it. It looked like it had barely survived an attack by spray paint.

The bell above the door jangled merrily as I entered the shop. That, at least, was normal. Nothing else was. Row upon row of shelves lined the room, jammed with crystals, colored glass bottles, bowls of candles, and gods knew what else.

The place reeked of incense and the stereo system was playing something I was pretty sure was a pan flute and wind chimes. Maybe even a gong in there somewhere. Chinese/Andes fusion gone horribly wrong. I like fusion music, but I wasn’t sure you could call this music. I winced as a dulcimer was added to the mix.

The shop was otherwise empty. No customers and no Eddie. Not even a bell to ring for service, so I decided to wander. There was a second room toward the back. It, at least, looked somewhat normal. Books, mostly, and a few packs of tarot cards, some CDs, DVDs and other knick knacks. The books were all on various spiritual and magical topics. I picked one up. Sex Majick: Majickal Spells and Potions for a Fulfilling Sex Life.

Hmm. Now there was something that might come in handy, if I actually had someone to have a sex life with. I slid the book back onto the shelf.

Maybe there was something in here about Sunwalkers. Doubtful, but one never knew. I quickly scanned the shelves. There was an entire section on mythical creatures. Lots of stuff on vampires. Most of it utter rot. Nothing at all on Sunwalkers. Too bad.

There were two doors along the wall to my right. I turned the knob on the first and pushed the door open carefully. Toilet. Always good to know where the nearest toilets are.

The second door led to a store room. Instead of the antique wood shelves out front, back here they were cheap metal and filled with boxes of unpacked goods. There was a proper work desk stacked high with books and papers, nearly drowning a PC that looked at least 10 years out of date.

Still no Eddie. I was starting to get a little concerned. People don’t just open up their shops and then leave. So, either Eddie was bloody stupid, or something was wrong. Maybe he knew I was there and was hiding or something. Yeah, right. I’m so scary. I gave myself a mental head slap.

I cleared my throat, “Ah, Mr. Mulligan? Eddie Mulligan? Cordelia Nightwing sent me. Eddie, are you here?”

A head popped down from the ceiling. I nearly let out a yelp. Fortunately for my sense of self-respect as a bad-ass-vampire-hunter, I held it back.

“Oh, hey,” said the head, “Didn’t hear anyone come in. Cordy sent you, huh? Haven’t seen her in awhile. Crystal ball must be working a treat. Be right down.” The head disappeared before being replaced by a pair of feet, followed by legs, and then the rest of what I presumed was Eddie Mulligan.

He dropped to the floor and turned to face me, dusting his hands off on his trouser legs. He was short. A good five inches shorter than me, and I’m not exactly tall. A fringe of curly gray hair surrounded a cherubic face, set off with a burgundy bow tie at his throat, which unfortunately clashed with his mustard yellow vest and olive green pants. He was either color blind, or he liked to make an impression.

“Mr. Eddie Mulligan?”

“Yep, that’s me,” he said, holding out his hand.

I took it. His grip was firm, but not hard. The grip of a man secure in himself and at one with the world. Cordelia was right. I could sense the gift in him as surely as I’d sensed it in her.

Eddie Mulligan was no ordinary human. “So, how can I help you? If Cordy sent you, it must be important,” he said, leading me out to the front of the shop.

“It is,” I assured him. “I’m looking for… well, a Sunwalker.” I was embarrassed to even say it out loud.

He went utterly still for a moment, then let out a little laugh. “Good one. Sunwalkers are extinct.”

“So, they did exist then?” I was on the right track, from the sound of things.

“Oh, yes indeed. Once upon a time.” He waved me to the front counter before ducking behind it.

“Can you tell me about them?”

His gaze was sharp on me, measuring me, judging me. Then with a little nod, he led me to the counter. From behind the counter he lifted out a package, wrapped in silk. He carefully unwrapped it to reveal an ancient book complete with leather cover and brass fittings. It was kind of what I always imagined the Doomsday book would have looked like.

“All right,” he said with a gentle smile, opening the cover, “Let’s see what this little baby has to say about your Sunwalkers.”

He flipped through the pages, sending dust flying everywhere. I sneezed. “Oh, sorry,” he gave me an apologetic smile. “I don’t consult the book too often. Most people are more worried about your average, run of the mill vampires, werewolves, that sort of thing. Not much call for Sunwalker info.” I wondered just exactly what sort of clientele Eddie Mulligan catered to. It was very rare that I ran across a civilian who knew such creatures were real. One who wasn’t bat shit crazy, anyway.

“Okay,” he stopped at a page with a sketch of a handsome, muscular man. He looked human, but it was obvious he wasn’t. The fangs sort of gave it away.

“That’s a Sunwalker?” He looked suspiciously like the guy I’d dreamed about last night, the knight with the ocean eyes.

“Yes, indeed,” he grinned up at me. I noticed his eyes were a slight almond shape. Might explain the huge section of books on Chinese folklore and dragons. I really hoped I wouldn’t need his help with any dragons.

“What does it say?”

His fingers ran down the page. “All right, according to legend, the Sunwalker is essentially a vampire that is able to withstand daylight.”

Great. I knew that much.

He continued, “It also says they are descendants of an ancient race that was destroyed long ago.”

“Does it say who they were? The ancient race, I mean.”

He shook his head. “No, it says nothing about this ancient race. Very interesting. I wonder…in any case, it says the last of the Sunwalkers was killed during the 1300s when the King of France slaughtered the Knights Templar.”

I blinked. That was not something I’d expected. “Excuse me? Did you say Knights Templar?” I swallowed hard. Surely my dream about the knight was just a coincidence.

“Yes, apparently the Knights were in league with the Sunwalkers. Protected them, something like that. The gods only know. In any case, when the Templars were killed off, so were the Sunwalkers. Not a single one has been seen in over 700 years.” He shut the book with a thump, sending up another dust cloud.

I sneezed again. “But I thought some of the Knights survived the Purge?” They certainly never mentioned Sunwalkers when they were talking about the Knights Templar in history class.

He shrugged and wrapped the book back up in its silk covering. “That’s the rumor, but no one really knows. It was such a long time ago. Records have been lost, truths have been covered up.” He frowned as he stuffed the book back under the counter. “I would have thought, though, that this book would tell the truth. It usually does.” His face brightened, “Then again, it has a mind of its own, most days.”

Riiiiight. “Sure. But theoretically, if some of the Knights Templar survived, a Sunwalker could have survived, too, right?”

He gave me a rather shrewd look, “Theoretically, yes. If any Knights truly survived, it’s entirely possible a Sunwalker could have survived as well, though one would have thought that there would be rumors of such a thing.”

“You don’t think he would have gone underground for 700 years?”

He laughed. “I wouldn’t have thought so.” He grew thoughtful. “Then again, the bloodlust could have been disguised as a vampire attack, if Sunwalkers have such a thing as bloodlust. And if he’d been careful not to turn anyone, then it would be less noticeable. No one’s exactly sure how the Sunwalker ability was passed, or if it could be passed. Some think they were an entirely different species from vampire, though the book says otherwise.”

I sighed, “Right, so how do I find this guy, if he exists? Look up Sunwalkers in the yellow pages? Take out an ad in the Oregonian, better yet, the Willamette Week?” I named the two biggest newspapers in Portland.

He threw his head back and laughter spilled in waves. There was almost a magic to it. Certainly nicer on the ears that whatever he was playing on the stereo. “Now that would be interesting, but no, I don’t think it works that way.”

“What then?”

He stroked his lower lip, “Well, you obviously won’t be able to count on the usual vampire haunts, seeing as how, if he exists, he can walk around in daylight.” This guy really knew how to state the obvious. “Your idea might not be that bad after all.”

“What, taking an ad?”

He chuckled, “Maybe not that exactly, but something similar. Imagine you are an ancient, mythical creature that’s been able to hide out for centuries without detection. Then some nosy person comes along and starts blabbing all over about looking for you. You might get a little nervous that her investigation would be heard about in certain circles, putting your very existence in jeopardy. What would you do about it?”

“Shut her up.”

He grinned, “Exactly. “

Great. I was about to go out and seriously piss off a centuries old Sunwalker. Yay, me.