Picking and Installing a WordPress Theme

Science & Technology

Welcome to the next installment of WebDesign for Writers!  This is where things get really fun. Picking the look and feel of your site can be absorbing. You can spend hours on this step alone—I certainly have! In this article you’ll learn how to find and install a WordPress theme that fits perfectly with your style and genre.

The first step is to log in to the admin panel of your site. Remember the URL, username, and password you recorded after you installed WordPress? It’s time to pull those out and use them. Open up www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin and log in using your username and password. You’ll be directed to a webpage that looks something like this. To find and install themes, you’ll want to navigate to the Appearance tab.

Screen Capture of WordPress

If you hover over this menu option you’ll see that it expands out into a second menu. Select the Themes option.

Pick a Theme

From here you’ll want to add a new theme, and you can use either of the two options highlighted below to accomplish this.

Screen Capture of WordPress

The search function allows you to see featured themes, popular themes, or the latest themes. There is also a feature filter that allows you to search themes with a specific color or a specific layout in addition to other possible features. Since you’re new to all this, I recommend that you just search through the featured or popular lists to see what kinds of themes are out there.

Don’t fixate on things such as the included images; these will all be changed as you tweak and customize it to suite your needs. Instead, focus on finding a layout you like. Do you like a clean, minimalist design with nothing but a single blog post visible at any time? Do you prefer something that is designed more for the display of graphics or for a store? Or maybe a magazine layout?

Read the descriptions of the themes (by clicking on the image) to get a better idea of what the theme is capable of. Many of them provide multiple color schemes, the ability to modify the font, and so on. It may also be useful to read through the comments and see what other users thought of the theme and whether they ran into any problems while using it.

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click the Install button at the top left of the display.

Screen Capture of WordPress

The system will do everything needed to get the theme properly installed for your site. Once it’s done, you’ll get a screen that looks like the following. Here, you’ll want to hit the Activate button to make this the active theme for your site.

Screen Capture of WordPressOnce you’ve activated the theme it will take you back to the mojo marketplace page. From here you can customize the theme in a variety of ways, depending on the theme you have chosen. The theme I chose for this example allows you to change the site title and tagline, the logo, the colors, the navigation, and widgets. The main thing for you to worry about at this stage is the site title and tagline. This changes the name that is visible on your website. 

As an example, the theme I installed looks like the following by default. Note that the “Hello world!” is a sample blog post—all themes come with a sample post and a sample comment so you can see what they look like.

This is the default page for the template I chose. You can see the title, “My great WordPress blog,” and the tagline, “Just another WordPress site.” Definitely not what you want your site to say!

Screen Capture of WordPress

By modifying the Site Title & Tagline section you can change this to say whatever you want. Because yeah, you are that awesome. When you are done modifying these options, click the Save & Publish button in the upper left.

Screen Capture of WordPress

For now, I would recommend you disregard the remainder of the available options unless you really want to change up the font or colors. You can play with these options over time and learn what they do to change the site itself. Widgets are a critical component, and I will talk about those a bit later in this series. For now, you should check out your site to see it with your newly installed theme. Congratulations, you’ve designed your first website!

Next we will talk about how to create and publish your first post, as well as how to remove the sample posts and comments that your theme created by default.

For previous articles in this series please see the articles below. Next week we’ll cover creating and modifying pages in your WordPress Theme!
The Importance of a Website to Your Author Platform
Why You Need a Self-Hosted Website
Naming Your Website
Selecting a Registrar and Web Hosting Company
Installing WordPress

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The Writing Life – Blocks and Boulders

Writing and storytelling are the coolest things in the world. That said… some days are better than others.

Comic - getting blood from a stone

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Author Event Speech and The Magic of Finishing

A few weeks back I participated in the inaugural Illumination Author Event in Denver. The Illumination events are wonderful intimate events where readers get to have lunch and network with their favorite authors. The first event was in Denver, but they are being scheduled all over the country. Check out the link above for more details.

As part of the event each author gives a talk. I thought I’d share a version of it here, for those unable to make it to the event. What do you think? Tell me in the comments below.

~ The Talk ~

I remember writing my first short story, I was about nine years old. I called it Halloween Ghost and it was about a boy stumbling upon a haunted house while trick-or-treating. The boy is captured by the resident ghost. But it turns out the ghost is a friendly sort and was just giving away giant servings of ice cream. In reading it now two things are very apparent, one – my love for all things speculative has been a life long passion, and two -  spelling was not a gift of mine at that point in my life! I’m pretty sure I found every possible spelling of the word ghost in the 100 words that made up that story!  Also, full disclosure, I still love ice cream.

I was very excited about the assignment, I remember it clearly – I loved writing even then. But what I remember most clearly is the lightning strike of inspiration I got when the story popped into my mind. The idea seemed to come straight out of the aether – some gypsy-voodoo-black-magic that I’d somehow managed to get on me or to step in. Like walking through an unseen spider web, though much more pleasant. (And with none of the frenetic GET IT OFF ME dancing.)

It felt as if it had come from out there, rather than from inside of me.

I continued to write over the years, but I never finished a story. I wrote while I rode the wave of inspiration but when inspiration abandoned me I abandoned the story. For decades this was my pattern. My life is littered with half written books, characters half formed, their lives paused 1/4 of the way down a page, with a backstory but no future story. Villains abandoned at their peak, hero’s forced to linger at their point of greatest weakness, characters stuck where things are most dark, most dire. It’s pretty gruesome back there!

Somewhere after that first lightning flash of inspiration I’d picked up the habit of seeing writing itself as gypsy-voodoo-black-magic. Something that came from “out there” and if it comes from “out there” that means I have no control over it. I am subject to the fickle whims of the muse. If the muse stops weaving her magic what am I, a mere mortal, to do about it?

In looking back at it now I realized I’d believed this about all sorts of things, not just writing. I’d never really finished anything that mattered. Yea… I did the usual stuff – I graduated from high school and went to college. I graduated from college too, and got a job. That job led to another job and into roles with increasing responsibilities. By all outward indications I was successful and accomplished. But I knew something no one else knew.

You see, when I was nine I wanted to be a writer. By the time I started college I wanted to be a biologist or chemist. I left college with a BS in Criminal Justice (pre-law) and by the time I started working in my first “real job” it was in technology.

Now, meandering paths are not uncommon at that stage of life – many, maybe most of us, have no clear idea what we want to do when we’re twenty. But what might not be so obvious is that, for me at least, the spaces between those bullet points were trade off’s.

Science for writing – it’s a far more pragmatic career choice.

Criminal Justice for science because it was just plain easier.

Technology for law because that’s where I could find a job.

It turns out I loved working in technology, I’d stumbled into another passion and I’ve stayed there ever since. But even here there were tradeoff’s. Despite what I told others, and despite what I told myself at the time, the underlying reason for every one of these trade off’s was fear.

What if I can’t do it?

What if I’m not good enough?

Not smart enough?

Not cool enough?

What if I try my hardest, but still fail?

Instead of working hard for what I wanted most, I spent my time working a little for what came easiest. It was easy to blame the fickle muse for this. To hide the path of least resistance within the guise of magic-from-the-aether. To claim I followed the path of inspiration. But eventually I started to wonder about this muse of mine. What kind of sick bitch was she to start me down one path only to yank the rug from under me and send me careening off in some new direction?  It was like the most serious game of keep-away I’ve ever heard of!

Now, to be clear, we should follow our inspirations. Inspiration is an expression of our intuition, it tells us where our passion lies, where our talents reside. But believing that people accomplish things because they have some super-secret tie in with some super-muse, or because they’re gifted with gypsy-voodoo-black-magic is a mistake. The truth is that finishing stuff is hard no matter who you are.  And it takes a lot more than inspiration to carry things through to the end.  Whether you are getting your degree, getting fit enough to jog a mile, or writing a book, finishing is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

Inspiration is designed for the start. Sweat, dedication, and courage are designed for the finish. I’d lived my life waiting for the magic. I’d made the mistake of believing all I needed was that magic. I’d forgotten all about sweat part. I’d forgotten the courage part.

There really IS magic in writing, and in life. Inspiration and creativity are magical… random junk from day to day life go in, it sloshes around somewhere in your gut, turning into some primordial semi-toxic stew that occasionally vents off some nasty stench, and then suddenly out of the blue – POOF! Ideas come out. It’s an amazing thing. I’ve got no clue how it works.

But the actual writing part, the doing, is sweat and courage. It’s showing up EVERY SINGLE DAY no matter where your muse is. Some days, the magical ones, words flow like warm honey. Other days it feels like you’re crawling across a mile of used needles, bloody hospital scalpels and poo.

When I realized all of this I realized my muse had done her job well.  The rest of it was on me. So, I found my courage and began finishing the really important things. I started writing again – in earnest – and I’ve published two books so far, realizing a lifelong dream of being a writer. I made a dizzying career change and launched my own business, I finished a degree I’d long wanted but kept putting off.  Inspiration told me what was important, sweat and courage helped me to finish the job.

You see, finishing has nothing to do with inspiration and has everything to do with hard work and the courage to keep to your path.  It’s showing up every day, as I mentioned.  It’s refusing to give in to the blank looks you get from people when you tell them what you’re trying to do, it’s continuing with your efforts even when you see no results. It’s not glamorous. It’s actually quite ugly. It often involves crying. There’s almost always blood. But after all of that, at the end of the day, when you have finished, it is pure magic.

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 18

Desiderium Book Cover

Desiderium

My #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter eighteen of Desiderium, and the end of our journey together.  I hope you enjoyed the story!

*Warning: There is violence, sex, and a lot of profanity in these pages.

 

~ EIGHTEEN ~

Death and Demons

I slept late into the following day. With the curtains drawn it was hard to tell night from day, but when my eyes finally opened a thin crack of brilliant sunshine solved the mystery straight away.

I had a big breakfast—it might be my last, after all—and then I sat down to read.  I had eleven hours before the ritual would begin, and about nine hours before I had to start making preparations.

I read some of my favorite book, Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. I was nervous, though, and couldn’t focus. I flipped on the TV and wasted time watching the SyFy channel, and then Animal Cops Houston. As the sun started setting I fixed myself dinner and watched a marathon of Say Yes to The Dress. Odd, I know, but it was Sophie’s favorite reality TV show and it made me think of her. I wanted to think of her. I wanted her close to me, in the forefront of my mind. I wanted to marry her one day, link our lives together, and see her wearing one of these dresses she so loved. I got up and grabbed one of the pictures off the wall and set it in my lap as I watched the smiling, happily teary women announce “this is the one!” time after time, and fantasized it was Sophie saying it every time.

When it was time, I redid the ritual sweeping and smudging. Not necessary, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. I set a white candle in each of the four corners of the room, and set a black one in the center. I set a mirror face-down next to the black candle and the red satchel on the other side of the black candle. I flipped on my iPod, flooding the room with soft romantic music, and lit the lotus incense. I popped the porn flick I’d ordered off the Internet into the Blu-ray and let it play.

I went into the spare room and double-checked the closet there. It was lined floor to ceiling in mirrors, and all was still there as it had been the last 500 times I’d checked it.

With everything physically in place, I stripped down and hit the bath. I had a long, scalding-hot soak. I let the heat sink into me, relaxing my muscles, and the scent of the purification oil carried my mind away. I focused on building my internal strength and banishing all thoughts of negativity. And then I focused on sex.

Annabel Lee is a succubus. A being that lives on the life force of humans, which they get at through the act of sex. To evoke such an entity requires an intense focus on passion and arousal. The stronger the desire, the more compelled they will be to come. For dinner.

Annabel knew me. She knew how I tasted and how I had filled her. The woman at the occult shop had told me that most often a succubus went after a man only one time. She’d appear one night, have passionate sex, and then she’d be on to another victim the next night. Rarely did they victimize the same man more than once, and it was almost unheard of for them to return again and again until, finally, they had killed him.

Her repeat visits to Blake and then to myself indicated we had a taste she found particularly appealing. She was convinced that given this fact, I would be able to compel her to visit me. I believe she is right. I’m less sure that I’ll be able to resist her when she does come.

I focused on Sophie, on our lovemaking. I immersed myself in the memory of our first kiss, our first touch, the feel of her body pressed against mine, and our first time together. I thought of all our times together in great detail. I put myself there physically, and imagined it was happening right now, right here.

When I was fully aroused, I stepped out of the tub and into the living room. I turned up the porno and turned down the music. I set every picture I had of Sophie between the white candles in each corner of the room. Then I lit each white candle in turn, invoking the elements for their aid and protection as I lit them. I sat down in the middle of that square and with my fingernail I carved a rough penis shape into the black candle with an open chalice around it, framing it. I lit the black candle and pushed it just to the end of my arms’ reach. I set Blake’s sharpened humerus under my naked ass, placed the large amber phallus up against my own, and then traced out a circle around me in amber.

I watched the porno for a while; it turned me on, but not like imagining Sophie did. I returned to my fantasies of our time together, imagined her taste, her feel. I put my hand onto the amber phallus and stroked it as if I were stroking myself. I imagined Sophie’s hand in my hand’s place. My desire was reaching a fever pitch. I craved release. But no sign of Annabel.

I let my desire spread out in a pool around me, circle around the pieces of amber in my protective circle and fill the entire square of my living room. Annabel, I thought, come to me. I imagined the velvety black of my passion filling the entire room around me, creeping up the walls, and fingering out into the city streets around me. I imagined a tendril snaking its way into her apartment, inviting. “Annabel,” I murmured, this time out loud.

I imagined her the way she was when I first saw her. What I remember of our first encounter. I imagined her materializing in front of me now, tasting my desire and gorging on it, wanting more. I visualized her as she had been that first night in the alley, her breasts pressing against the thin fabric of her shirt and her skirt pooling into the V where her legs came together. I visualized her standing before me now, same shirt, same skirt, and imagined the scent of her, the sound of her voice.

“Terryn.”

The sound, as always, was enough to push me over the edge. Enough to make me throw all caution to the wind and leap. Leap without consideration of cost.

“I’m here.”

I heard a faint whisper, and realized with a shock that it had come from outside of my own head. It was real. She’d come.

I opened my eyes and saw a smoky blur, a vaguely woman-shaped entity, materializing in the air in front of me. I could feel hunger emanating from that cloud, bottomless, limitless, devouring. The depth of it terrified me, and I wondered that I had never felt it before. But then I had never been in a protective circle before, with powerful elementals at my back and positive energies limiting her control.

Even so, I was as overwhelmed by her scent as ever. I reached out to her and saw her smoky form take a firmer shape. I strained to see her, naked, before me, and take her as we’d taken one another so many times before. I felt the waves of desire wash over me, threatening the carful dams I had built. I felt myself slipping away and thought these would be the last minutes of my life.

I am dying, now. I see the abyss of death and I am standing with one foot in it. If I had one moment left to live, what would I do with it?

My vision cleared just enough for my eyes to focus on one of the pictures of Sophie at the side of the room. “Sophie!” I yelled. And then I reached out and yanked Annabel with every ounce of strength in my body into my circle. Her suddenly solid eyes widened in shock and her mouth opened in surprise, before she had time for anything more I shoved with the same force into the mirror beside the black candle. The mirror that was now shiny-side up.

Her face transformed remarkably fast. The sickly glow leaped into her eyes and her heavily toothed maw expanded as she lunged for me. Her clawed hands came at me from within the mirror, came out of the mirror. With a shout I threw it from me onto the red satchel. I could hear her screeching in fury as I jumped to my feet and frantically worked to wrap the mirror in the satchel. She could not come out entirely from it, but she clawed and screeched and wave after wave of sickly sweet pheromone wafted from the liquid surface of the mirror, threatening to overwhelm my conscious thought.

“Sophie, Sophie, Sophie!” I shouted over and over as I wrestled the mirror into the bag and then collapsed, sweat pouring off my brow and shaking in terror as I tied the top of the bag closed.

“Jesus Christ,” I panted. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Shit, shit.”

I leaned to the side and threw up what was left of my dinner. I closed my eyes and rested my forehead on the carpet in front of me. I took several deep breaths, focusing on the scent of sage that still lingered in the air around me. Almost done. Almost.

I pinched out the black candle. I knelt back in the circle of amber and lifted Blake’s humerus in my hand. I pulled the red satchel back close to where I knelt and watched in horror at the shapes moving inside of the bag. Thank the powers in this circle that horrible screeching sound was no longer audible.

I knelt like that for quite some time, trying to calm the beating of my heart, and trying to muster the courage for the next and final step.

Bangbangbang.

I looked up in shock at the alien noise. A few minutes later it came again—knocking at the door, and a panicked voice yelling, “Terryn! Terryn! It’s Sophie. What the fuck is going on in there? I need to talk to you but…what the fuck, Terryn!”

The movement in the bag stopped abruptly and I could feel Annabel considering this new development. A sick smell came to my nose and I lost myself in images of animalistic and frantic fucking once more. “No, goddammit!” I yelled, and drove the pointy end of Blake’s humerus straight into the center of the mirror, straight into Annabel’s demonic face.

An ungodly scream tore through the house—ethereal, unattached, horrible, and erotic simultaneously. The mirror exploded into a million pieces, the bag it had been in was ripped to shreds and mirror glass cut and sliced its way to every corner of the room, impaling itself into drywall and flesh alike. I was thrown by the force of the explosion, the white protective candles at the four corners snuffed instantly, and with it their protection. The screaming continued, echoing back and forth across the room for several seconds more, and then blessed silence.

I felt numb and lay still until the cops kicked in the front door of my house and came running in with their guns drawn. I could hear Sophie outside yelling my name over and over and threatening whatever officer was trying to hold her back. I felt bad for that guy.

I didn’t care that they had busted down my front door. I didn’t care that they would likely find Blake’s bone, too, and associate me with the grave robbery from the night before. In fact I laughed in exhausted relief at the confused and shocked look on their faces when they came into the remains of the room and saw me naked and bleeding all over the floor. I didn’t care about any of that. Whatever happened now, I was free. Blake was free.

I swear I felt him there in that moment. A whisper that traveled into the room, through me, and back out into the ether. A sense of gratitude. And forgiveness. And apology, for being the one that brought that thing into our lives. There and gone.

They finally let Sophie in and when she came she didn’t even see the damage in the room around me. She saw only me. She knelt in the remains of the mirror glass, knees cut and bleeding, and kissed my bloody face.

Exhaustion was making my limbs and body heavy, and my flayed eyelids were falling toward closed. I forced them open and looked into her beautiful eyes.

“Sophie,” I croaked, “will you marry me?”

 

For a complete listing of chapters use the Desiderium category, or click below.

Ch1, Ch2, Ch3, Ch4, Ch5, Ch6, Ch7, Ch8, Ch9, Ch10, Ch11, Ch12, Ch13, Ch14, Ch15, Ch16, Ch17

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 17

Desiderium Book Cover

Desiderium

My dark fantasy novella Desiderium is now available on Amazon! It is a dark urban fantasy for mature readers. Check out chapter 17 below. Scroll to the end for links to earlier chapters, but most importantly, enjoy!

 

~ SEVENTEEN ~

Grave Robbery

I started immediately when I got home.

I pulled out the broom, the smudge—a gathering of sage and other herbs—and the collection of orange calcite from the occult shop. I opened all of the doors and windows and scrubbed the house from top to bottom. I cleaned every surface in every room.

Then I closed the doors and windows and drew the curtains closed as well. I took out the ceremonial broom and briskly brushed the walls and floor and ceiling in every room. With every brush I forced myself to imagine flames burning the surfaces clean of all negativity, of all traces of the monster that Annabel was.

Following the sweeping came the smudging. I burned the bundle and walked through the house, imagining the smoke purifying everything further still—binding to any negative energy the cleaning and the sweeping may have missed and carrying it away to be burned, obliterated. At every entryway to the house, door and window alike, I placed a piece of orange calcite.

At first I felt stupid going through such a routine. I’m a skeptic through and through, and this all seemed like complete nonsense to me. But I have to admit, with each step I felt lighter and stronger, as if the heavy shadow that had been settled over me for months, for years, was now lifting away. Once the house was thoroughly cleansed I felt calm, strong, and sure. With that done, and protection in place for me, I began planning the hard part.

In the end, it turns out grave robbing is actually quite easy to pull off.

Once I’d hopped the tall fence bordering the cemetery, the hard part was the digging and the thinking. Thinking about what I would find when I opened his casket only two years after he had been buried. I had read that with all the preservatives and processing they do these days, he may in fact look not all that different from how he looked the day we buried him. I prayed, fervently and violently, this would not be true for Blake. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could reach in and grab a single arm bone once I had the coffin open. But if it looked like Blake, even desiccated as he had been when he had died, and if I had to tear off a fleshy arm still connected to the shoulder with muscle and sinew, I didn’t think I could do it. No matter the cost. The thought of what I’d need to do to get past the flesh and to the bone made me nauseous and shaky.

These thoughts haunted me as I dug into the dirt of his grave. I had remained hidden in my apartment for weeks before this night meditating, reading, and preparing. I slept a lot and ate a lot, trying hard to recover from the extreme exhaustion the last couple of months had imposed upon me. But now it was only one night before I was to complete the ritual. I had waited until the last minute; I didn’t want to have Blake’s bone in my possession any longer than absolutely necessary, and I figured I only had one shot at this anyway. If I tried and failed, there would be no second chance. Once the world knew there was a grave robber on the loose they’d up security at the cemetery and my chance would pass me by.

So here I was, the night before I planned to banish a succubus, up to my hips in my brother’s grave trying to dig him out of the ground. I focused on the digging and kept my mind off the inevitability of opening the casket. I focused on my breathing and found a place of quiet meditation within the rhythmic pattern of digging. It was a clear night, and cool. A good night for digging up a grave, I guess.

The shovel clattered against the coffin in a sudden spate of noise that broke my meditative state like a plate dropped on a hard tile floor. I jerked out of my reverie and looked around in a panic. How loud had that actually been? I couldn’t tell. I got back to work. I had to hurry. I needed that bone.

I gripped the side of the coffin and paused.

Forgive me, Blake. Forgive me for disturbing your resting place and for taking part of you from it. I do it for you, Blake, and for your son. For me. We can end this together. Please forgive me.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and lifted the lid of the coffin. I held my breath until I started seeing stars behind my closed eyelids, and as I expelled it, I opened my eyes.

Bones. Relief flooded through me. It was only bones. Blake’s bones, but it was easier that it didn’t look like him. I reached in and grabbed his right humerus.  Rest in peace, Blake, you are soon to be avenged.  I pulled the bone out of the casket, stuffed it in my bag, and lowered the casket top back into place. I hopped onto it and pulled myself out of the grave. I began shoveling the dirt back in. It was silly, I know. It would be obvious when the caretakers came out in the morning that the grave had been dug up. I wasn’t trying to hide what I had done, that was impossible, but I didn’t want to leave my brother exposed like that. It was indecent.

I got two or three shovelfuls of dirt into the grave when I heard a voice floating across the cemetery grounds.

“John, over this way, I’m pretty sure it came from over here.”

I froze, considering, then dropped the shovel, grabbed my pack, and ran as fast as I have ever run, stooped as low as possible without impeding speed, and as quietly as I could. I jumped the fence easily, ran up the street a block, turned right for another block, and then I was in my car speeding away with the bone.

I’m sorry, Blake.

My heart was racing and I was sweating. I don’t think they’ll be able to trace it to me. I’d worn gloves and a hat, and left nothing behind but an anonymous shovel I’d stolen from a garden shed across town three nights ago. But I had never committed a crime like that before. I’d smoked pot and gotten a couple speeding tickets, but now I was a grave robber.

I forced myself to breath more slowly, to focus on what I was trying to accomplish instead of what I had just done to get there. In this case, the end justified the means. I was not stopping. I was going to see this thing through no matter the cost.

I got home and threw my clothes and backpack into the fireplace. I’d never wear them again. I hopped in the shower, bringing Blake’s arm bone with me. I washed the sweat and grave-dirt off my face and scrubbed beneath my fingernails. I washed Blake’s bone clean, too. When I got out of the shower, I dried off and then I burned another sage bundle in the bathroom, inhaling the clean earthy scent and clearing away whatever negativity I may have carried in from what I had just done. I rubbed the bone with a purification oil made from Frankincense, Myrrh, and Sandalwood. I pulled out my camping knife and purified it as well by running it through the smoke rising from the still-burning smudge, and began carving away one end of Blake’s humerus. It needed to be sharp. Sharp enough to impale a beast with sickly green eyes and row after row of lamprey teeth.

A beast that would be trying just as hard to kill me.

 

Us the Desiderium category to the right side to find the novella in its entirety. Or, click below for the chapter you are looking for.

Ch1, Ch2, Ch3, Ch4, Ch5, Ch6, Ch7, Ch8, Ch9, Ch10, Ch11, Ch12, Ch13, Ch14, Ch15, Ch16

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 16

Desiderium Book Cover

Desiderium

Desiderium is now available on Amazon! Purchase the entire book there, or enjoy chapter by chapter on the blog. Desiderium is a dark urban fantasy novella for mature readers.

 

~ SIXTEEN ~

Realization

The first thing I did when I finally stumbled, exhausted, into my house was eat. The second thing I did was search out all of the pictures I had of Sophie, pull them out of the hiding places I had stuffed them in, and set them back into the light of day.

Now that I was fully awake, I realized how much I missed her. I wanted so badly to see her and to hear her voice. The phone was a constant temptation for me. She was only ten digits away. But she had been specific. Remember her, think of her, but call her only when I had come out on the far side of this thing. I was not through. I was in the thick of it. I had no idea if Annabel would go after a woman, but I had no intention of finding out. There was no way I was going to call Sophie until I had seen this through and was able to go back to living a normal life. As normal is it could be, anyway, knowing now that monsters were real. With Sophie’s face all around me once more, I fell into an exhausted sleep. I had to regain my strength. Annabel really had left me for dead, and I think if it hadn’t been for Sophie and the memories we’d made together, I would have been.

I had some research to do. What was she? And how the hell do you kill whatever she was? I found the answer to the first question surprisingly fast. A succubus, a demonic  being that fed off the sexual energy of humans. It proved a lot harder to figure out how to kill one, though. Most of the info I found involved adolescent boys whining about a girl they were dating who they thought was crazy or needy. There was also plenty of information centered around exorcism and demonic possession, but none of that really seemed to apply to my situation. I was not possessed, I was obsessed; two very different things.

Searches into the occult got me closer, but the results quickly overwhelmed me and I couldn’t tell what was fact (if you could call any of this fact) and what was just Joebob Internet Troll’s opinion/fantasy on the matter. I didn’t have time to learn the in’s and out’s of the occult. I needed answers now. I needed help.

I turned my attentions to finding the nearest occult store. I walked in and walked right up to the cashier. The place was empty, thank God. I felt stupid just being here, felt sure I’d be laughed out of the place as soon as I asked my questions, and the fewer folks around to witness my humiliation the better. I felt like a tool, but I owned it, walked right up and just asked outright.

“Um, excuse me,” I started, trying to sound confident. The woman behind the counter looked up from whatever she was reading with a vague smile on her face. Friendly, but only because she had to be. Clearly she was very involved in whatever she was reading. But once she had focused on me her eyes narrowed, and the glance turned to a bit more of an examination. I squared my shoulders, ready for embarrassment.

“I need to know how to kill a succubus.” I spit it out clearly in all my humiliated glory, and then waited. But this pronouncement was met with silence. She was still staring at me, her eyes somehow unfocused and focused at once.

“Succubus,” she said, then, “yes, you most certainly do. I have never seen anyone so drained yet still living. How long has this been going on?”

I stared in open-mouthed surprise. I had thought she’d laugh me out of the place, but she’d not only taken my announcement in stride but acted as if this ridiculous thing I had just admitted was as obvious as the weather. Maybe I had a big giant S for succubus emblazoned on my chest. Or maybe S for sucker.

I had always believed places like this were really all about new-age-y hippy Christians acting all open-minded and shit; apparently that wasn’t entirely true. Certainly not this place, and certainly not the woman behind the cash register.

“A couple of months,” I replied finally.

“Only a couple of months? You look like you’re barely on this side of dead,” she said, making a disapproving little tsk tsk noise with her tongue.

I shuddered at how close to the truth that statement was. It had been two weeks since I had set foot outside my apartment. During that time I had slept and ate and slept some more. I had done some thinking, too, but mostly I’d slept, giving my body time to recover. Giving it time to take a few steps away from death’s doorstep. I felt OK, but obviously didn’t look it.

She nodded knowingly. “You have never set foot in a place like this before, have you, Honey?” she asked. I took a breath to answer but she just kept on talking. “This will be hard for you, being a neophyte and all, but it has got to be you. No one can banish her except you. Priests’ll say different of course, but their full of cockamamie bullshit. Succubi ain’t like other demons. They don’t possess.”

She had moved out from behind the counter and was bustling through the store gathering stuff together in a basket. Rocks of various sizes and colors, one remarkably phallic in shape, herbs—some loose and some bundled—four white candles. Wordless, I followed behind, listening.

“Without a possession, there is no exorcism. And the trappings of religion mean nothing to these entities anyway. Simple elemental type critters they are, their language is in the ebb and flow of energy only, doing whatever they need to keep the flow moving. To stay alive, and stay here, where they have easy access to human energy. Male energy.” She turned and looked at me with studied focus, winked, and went back to gathering.

“She can be banished, though…”

“I want to kill her—it. Not banish it.”

“Well now.” The woman smiled as she made her way back to the cash register with a basket full of occult goodies. “For these critters, that’s one and the same. You can send them back to where they come from. They don’t exactly die, though. Not the way you and I’ll do some day. That’s why they love feeding on us. Mortal energy is violent and brief, just like our lives. Burns hard and hot, but it burns fast. Such energy is difficult to find in other places. I think it’s like a drug for those things from the other side.”

Like a drug, I thought. So I was her drug, just as she was mine. I suppressed a shudder.

“Now…” The woman was saying, “…I will write down what you need to do step by step. Follow the directions explicitly. The summons needs to come from you. You’ll know what to do, but if you don’t prep right and set up right you’ll not likely come through to see another day. You need to make damn sure you’re protected before you start this. And strong. Now, go wander around while I write, we’ll talk about it when I’m done.” She made a shooing motion with both hands.

I wandered around the store looking at everything from tarot cards to bibles while the woman scribbled away up front. When she finished she walked me through everything and sent me on my way. I had to wait almost a month before I could give it try. Time to heal, the woman had said, to get strong, and to do the ceremony when the moon was right. When everything was supposedly in my favor, my power waxing at its strong point.

So that was that. I had a month to do what was likely going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

I had to dig up my brother and steal his bones.

The only way to truly banish a succubus is by stabbing her with a knife made from the humerus of one of her victims. The idea of digging up Blake from his grave and desecrating his body made me sick and shamed. Revenge may be sweet, but it’s also ugly.

 

Use the Desiderium category on the right to read the novella in its entirety. Otherwise, use the links below to find a specific chapter.

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 15

Desiderium Book Cover

Desiderium

 

My dark fantasy novella Desiderium is now available on Amazon! It is a dark urban fantasy for mature readers. Scroll to the end for links to earlier chapters, but most importantly, enjoy!

~ FIFTEEN ~

Dissolution

 

The sky is raining blood. Deep copper tears of rust run down buildings older than old, and pools of ruddy liquid gather in the pavement cracks. It is raining, and I am freezing. Not that it matters all that much. I am numb, tortured beyond caring.

I am awake, lying buried in soggy boxes at the end of a dark alleyway. Somewhere far in the distance I can hear voices and traffic. The noise of the real world. The world of light, of sun, of warmth. Where monsters don’t exist and the world does not smell of rotting meat and maggots.

But they may as well be on another planet for all the good it does me. I am no longer a part of that world, and I can’t reach it anymore. I know what happened to Blake. I know how he died. She had promised that she would tell me at some point, and she kept her promise. She showed me. First-hand. And now I know that Sophie had every reason to fear for me. Kate had every reason to come to hate Blake, even as she continued to love him at the same time.

“There are things that go bump in the night,” she had told me. She had warned me then that she was one of them. I had known she was one of them. My gut had warned me. She had warned me with that menacing look when I had first reached out to touch her. I had known, but I had been fascinated, and had gone forward anyway. Forward toward Blake, toward the truth, I had tried to tell myself. But the time for lies was long gone. Blake had had nothing to do with it. I had wanted to walk into the darkness. He was involved only in that he had done it first. I would have done the same, if she had found me first. Gladly. And then Blake would have been left to deal with the doctors, the media, our mother, his own questions.

The rain kept falling, still the color of blood. I opened my mouth to the moisture, and tasted the coppery red flavor of blood. It felt like everything was dying. I was dying. She had not returned me to my apartment because she knew I was dying. But she had not taken the last of me, either. She left enough to ensure I knew. A kindness, or a cruelty? Maybe those are one and the same to such as she.

I looked up and saw Sophie’s face hovering in front of me. Her eyes teary and filled with compassion and love. Her lips moving, forming words I could’t hear, but I knew what she was saying.

Think only of me, Terryn. Don’t forget. 

“It’s too late, Soph. I’ve forgotten. I’m lost,” I uttered into the bloody wetness around me.

Behind Sophie’s floating face I could see the window from the Chartres cathedral—the place where Sophie had shuffled the labyrinth as I sat staring up at that beautiful pink glass. Her mouth continued moving.

Think of me, Terryn. Don’t forget. I love you. I am waiting for you.

“Stop waiting, Sophie,” I said. “I am lost. Just leave.” My heart lurched in my chest as those words left my lips. A thump of love. What I had felt for her so long ago. Or it felt like so long ago. A lifetime ago.

Her eyes chastised me, and she shook her head in dissent.

I am waiting for you still. Will always wait. Think of me, come back to me.

I looked away from her and up at the rose window once more. My eyes meandered through the paths between the images in colored glass. Around half-moon scalloped edges, around square saints and fleur de lys, doves and wings, color and darkness. Follow the darkness. Follow it, until you see the light.

I am waiting for you.

“I am looking for you,” I heard myself reply.

The cold disappeared as I lost myself in the patterns within that window and the sound of Sophie’s voice. I felt warmth inside. Deep inside. A small flame at first, but as I traversed the dark spaces within that bright, sunlit window, it grew. Red, blue, yellow, white…more colors than I could name.

I love you.

“I see you.”

Think only of me.

“I love you.”

Sunlight. The sun is yellow. Light.

The dark began fading away, those dark paths getting smaller and smaller until the dark bled into light. Black became white. And I was warm again.

I opened my eyes to a bright blue sky free of all clouds. I was still buried in damp cardboard and covered in garbage. But all I could smell was light, and I could see clearly for the first time in months.

I pushed the garbage aside and got to my feet. Aching, sore. I had an open wound in my side where Annabel had fed off of me. I shuddered at the thought, and I knew what I had to do. I thought of Sophie. Her beautiful face and warmth and generosity. I thought of Blake, my big brother, my hero. And I thought of his wife Kate, broken now. Raising a child alone. How many more lives had been broken because of Annabel Lee?

I made my way home. I needed to eat. I needed to clean the sore in my side. I needed to get strong. There was work to be done.

 

Use the Desiderium category to the right side to find the novella in its entirety. Or, click below for the chapter you are looking for.

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Blogger Book Fair – Emma Adams

BBF Promo PicFinally, the last entry for Blogger Book Fair (this makes me sad!).  Today we are going to the dark side with an author who finds inspiration by looking for the strange in everyday life.

…she can see into the Darkworld… and the darkness is staring back.

Ok, with a line like that on the back cover you know it’s going to be great! Darkness Watching is a supernatural/Paranormal young adult novel. Check out the full blurb:

Darkness Watching
AmazonBarnes & Noble

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks

Darkness Watching cover

she’s losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere – little knowing that it isn’t coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

‘s looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is. In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be…All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life – but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she

Author Bio:

Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing bizarre, fantastical stories. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also entertained her creative writing group and baffled her tutors by submitting strange fantasy tales featuring dragons and supernatural monsters to workshops. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, Emma refuses to settle down and be normal. When not embarking on wild excursions, she edits and proofreads novels for various publishing houses and reads an insane number of books. At the age of 21, she signed a publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press for the first book in her creepy urban fantasy Darkworld series. DARKNESS WATCHING was published in October 2013, the first in a five-book series. She also writes adult crossover urban fantasy featuring magic, monsters, and a ton of inappropriate humour.

Find more from emma at her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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Blogger Book Fair – J.C. Conway

BBF Promo PicJ.C. Conway’s passion for writing began in grade school with stories that typically involved dinosaurs, robots, giant insects, mass destruction, army heroes and alien invaders. Since then he’s added to the list, and now writes romance, sci-fi and fantasy for middle-grade, young adult and adult readers. He has numerous short stories available to download, and his debut novel – Hearts in Ruin – is also available now! You can find all his writing at www.jcconway.com

On to some of his short stories!

Worlds Less Traveled cover

Worlds Less Traveled

Science Fiction – Adult

An attorney at an off-world deposition faces a strange witness and even stranger circumstances. But can his senses be trusted this far from Earth as his anti-psychotic field wanes? “Worlds Less Traveled” is a fresh look at at an ageless problem, rife with intrigue, corporate malfeasance and relentless tension in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Previously published by Perihelion Science Fiction and available in audio from Comets and Criminals, this short story by J. C. Conway keeps readers guessing and engaged. “Giggle, snicker, chuckle… oh, I liked that.” Don’t miss the chance to glimpse humanity from the eyes one of its troubled own as he struggles with internal and external adversity on a world less traveled.

Buy Links:
Only $.99!
Amazon | Other Formats

Silence of the Imbeciles cover

Silence of the Imbeciles
Fantasy – Middle Grade

14-year-old Frankie Turnbull is fascinated with magic wands and he is very good at making them, as the enchanted beings have assured him. But with great power comes terrible consequences, and Frankie must learn to face his. Originally published by Residential Aliens, this story has been described as “very well written, understated and poignant.” While Frankie’s problems seem unusual for a 21st Century small-town kid, there is something universal at the heart of his troubles and his reaction to them.

Buy Links:
Only $.99!
Amazon | Smashwords

 

 

Murphy's Traverse cover

Murphy’s Traverse
Science Fiction | Adult

Centuries-long interstellar colony missions are serious business. It is Murphy’s job to make sure the ship arrives in one piece and he has at his disposal the resources of the entire vessel and its advanced caretaker programs to ensure he meets that goal. With nothing in their path and a vast store of redundant systems, what could go wrong?

Buy Link:
Only $.99!
Amazon

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Blogger Book Fair – Ashley R. Carlson

BBF Promo PicA neurotic german shepherd, a serene Mexican mutt, and a cat who owns the world title for “bitchy” kick off today’s Blogger Book Fair post! These three make up quite the writing group for author Ashley R. Carlson!

Ashley is the author of the short story Cruel, and the soon-to-be-released steampunk novel The Charismatics. She lives in the “bowels of hell” (as she calls it during the summer months) of Scottsdale Arizona – bowels of hell indeed! I can’t imagine the heat!

Ashley’s been writing for years, but it was a 2013 stint in NaNoWriMo that really kicked her passion for writing into full gear. So much so that she quit her job to write full time, cranking out her novel The Charismatics in just four months – pretty damn epic if you ask me!

And now onto the book!

The Charismatics CoverThe Charismatics – YA Fantasy (Releases December 13, 2014)

Goodreads  or Visit on Website

An arranged marriage. A corrupt government known only as Legalia. A forbidden spiritual realm. Duchess Ambrosia Killaher was just seventeen years old when exiled to Shinery—a city of snow and darkness—to marry a man who despised her, finding her only solace in an invisible companion named Roan.

Now, as the poor starve in the streets below and rebellious acts become a frequent occurrence, Shinery holds its yearly celebration to commemorate Legalia’s rule. But when Ambrose catches a government official using a strange device on a servant, she is thrust into a secret world of the supernatural—one she never knew existed. With the help of a handsome stranger, Ambrose begins to learn of the past Legalia has covered up, and the terrible things they have in store for the future.

 

Pic of AshleyHead over to Goodreads and add The Charismatics to your To Read list now! You can find more about Ashley and her writing at www.ashleyrcarlson.com   on Twitter and on Facebook.  For more amazing Blogger Book Fair authors and some amazing giveaways (Amazon gift cards people!) go to www.bloggerbookfair.com.

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