Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 11

Desiderium Book Cover

Desiderium

My #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter eleven of my new novella, scheduled for release this October. Desiderium is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers.

You can buy Desiderium in its entirety at Amazon or Kobo!

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

~ ELEVEN~

Addiction

 It has been three days since that wondrous night, the second night we spent together, and I haven’t been able to find her since. I’m nervous, jittery. My legs can’t stop bouncing, I’m chewing my fingernails to the quick. I feel like a junky who can’t get a fix. I have found no peace since I woke up the night after. The TV is annoying and doesn’t offer the mindless distraction it always used to. I can’t focus at work, either. I try to get into the rhythm of my programming work—something that always used to be easy for me—but I can’t find it. Every time I get close I’ll somehow catch a whiff of the smell of her or I’ll hear her voice whispering in my ear as she runs the tip of her tongue along my earlobe. I swear sometimes I feel her handling my balls, her breasts pressing against my back or my chest, and abruptly find myself struggling against a raging erection at my short-walled cube.

I feel like everyone knows. Their looks seem heavier than they used to be, though there is no way any of them could possibly know. What is this paranoia? Where does it come from? And why does it matter anyway? I am a man, I met a woman, and we had sex. There is nothing odd about this. So why this paranoia?

This morning I begged off work. I told them I was not feeling well, and in a way that’s true. I am far too agitated to sit at my desk, my frustration incredibly apparent, and I can’t keep it in check. If I went to work in this condition I would likely be fired for sexual harassment just by being there.

The day passed slowly. I watched the cheesiest shows I could possibly find on the SyFy channel all morning, and drank a pitcher’s worth of margaritas to try to distract myself. At lunch I ordered pizza, and the delivery driver was a woman. She had on a skirt and a button-up shirt. It was a perfectly appropriate outfit and didn’t show a ton of skin. But the peek of her thigh just above her knees and the swell of her breasts under her shirt drove me mad. I gave her a twenty-dollar tip and slammed the door in her face. What the hell is wrong with me?

I drank more, this time skipping the margarita mix and going straight for the tequila. I must have fallen asleep at some point because I woke up with a splitting headache and a roiling stomach, the sun already dropping below the horizon. I jumped up from the couch, took a quick shower, took my time shaving, and then threw on my jacket and left the house.

I felt good about tonight. I was going to find her. And find her I did, in the same place I had found her three nights before. I had gotten there around 10:30, and I sat in the place she had sat when I first saw her. The jittery impatience that had haunted me for the last three days was gone, and an intense but coldly patient anticipation settled over me in its place.

The night was cold, and a light drizzle was falling again, just as it had that first night. The alley was dark; the only light came faintly from a sliver of moon hanging high overhead and visible only in patches as the clouds scuttled across the night sky.

I shivered against the cold, and then felt a flush of warmth suddenly suffuse my body as her scent wafted to my nose. For a moment it was foul, rotting, but then the sweetness overwhelmed me and I felt desire flood my veins. A hand touched my shoulder. I turned and saw Annabel, looking the same as she had three nights before. The desire rocking my body must have been written clearly on my face because her mouth opened in a smile as she looked at me.

“Back for more are you?” she asked. “You didn’t get enough last time?” She laughed as she looked at me and I had a distinct feeling that she knew exactly the torment I had been going through the last three days. The glint in her eyes suggested that my torment was intentional on her end.

“You avoided me.” I was angry, sulky, like a selfish child.

“Yes. That way, the pressure builds and the flavor becomes so much more intense. Also, it is always much better when I am hungry from a fast.”

A weird way of saying it, I guess, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, though our hearts really had nothing to do with what was on both of our minds.

“Besides,” she continued, her voice a low purr, “I like seeing the desire flaming in your eyes, Terryn. It makes me instantly hungry for you.”

I’d had enough of the talking. I stood up and pressed her against the wall. I ground her hips hard against the rough brick as I pressed myself against her. I pulled her shirt from her shoulders and grasped at her breasts. Another waft of that foul rotting-garbage scent hit my nose, and a brief thought suddenly flickered and broke through the fog of my want.

“Annabel, will you tell me about my brother tonight? You know…after?”

Something flickered in her eyes—they narrowed to an almost reptilian slit and I swear I saw them flash from their normally brilliant green to a sickly moldy color. She shoved me back with surprising strength and stared at me with clear fury, but then the overwhelming muskiness of her took me again. I reached for her, and she grabbed my hand. Still staring into my eyes, she slowly ran a sharp nail from the inside of my elbow down to my wrist, leaving a trail of blood in its wake. I gasped at the pain and at the answering fresh surge of desire that thundered through me. I wanted her more than I had ever wanted her before.

“Never again,” she said. I closed my eyes and opened my arms wide, I inhaled the scent of her deeply, and I nodded, accepting the command. All thought of Blake bled from my mind, obliterated by desire.

She pulled me in through the same door we had entered last time, then shoved me roughly so that I fell onto the steps. I said nothing.

She pushed and prodded me up the stairs, cursing at me as I stumbled upwards as quickly as I could. I fell several times, and each time her taunts became harsher.

“Don’t you want me, Terryn? If you don’t want me we can turn around and I’ll never come for you again.” I scrambled up the last few steps, panting, hard, afraid she’d leave if I didn’t do exactly what she wanted me to do.

“They can’t hear your screams from in here, Terryn. There is no one to hear. I am going to punish you, Terryn. You have been a bad, bad boy.”

And God save me, I had, and the Devil take me, she did.

 

Want to read more Desiderium? You can see previous chapters here:
Ch1, Ch2, Ch3, Ch4, Ch5, Ch6, Ch7, Ch8, Ch9, Ch10

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New Releases in Fantasy, Week of 10/27/14

Education

If you’re like me you are always scouting the horizon for your next must read book. Here are some new releases in fantasy for this coming week, maybe one of these will make your list!

Drawn Blades, Kelly McCullough
Different Kingdoms

Once one of the world’s greatest assassins, Aral Kingslayer has finally reclaimed his swords and his soul. But the forces that destroyed his patron Namara twelve years ago are still there, waiting, and his past as a Blade is never more than a shadow’s breadth away.

In the Afterlight, Alexandra Bracken
The Darkets Minds #3

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

The Tree of Water, Elizabeth Haydon
The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme #4

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus “Ven” Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The City Stained Red, Sam Sykes
Bring Down Heaven #1

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

The Spirit Heir, Kaitlyn Davis
A Dance of Dragons #2

Drenched in darkness and surrounded by the echo of screams, Jinji waits deep in the dungeons of Rayfort, haunted by the memory of the knife stabbing Rhen, plagued by a foreign voice whispering through her mind. A few floors above, Rhen rests trapped in a coma, about to wake to a changed world–a world where his best friend is a woman, his nephew is the king, and an enemy army surrounds him on all sides.

The Shadow Fabric, Mark Cassell

Leo remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day, he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone . . . including himself.

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Weekend Writing Warriors Blog Hop #5

Greetings Weekend Writers! I missed you all last week, but I’m back and I’ve brought something new with me!

If you are not familiar with the Weekend Writers you should remedy that immediately by clicking the link below and getting to know the many talented authors who throw open their doors every Sunday and share a snippet of their writing. Go read their writing now! And leave comments! :)

So Desiderium is officially launched and available on Amazon and Kobo (and soon to be on Nook if they can get their account issues figured out!), so for this week I’ve decided to share something a bit different. This eight sentence snippet is from my current work in progress, a novel tentatively titled Sisters of Vel.  We are very near the beginning of the book here. A point of reference – Historians contain the history of the world on their bodies in the form of a type of tattoo that is burned into their skin as part of their magic. In this scene we are introduced to one of the movers and shakers of the tale.

The 8:

Without pause Maat stepped forward and buried a knife deep into her mother’s back, placing it carefully to ensure none of the histories were lost.  She pushed back a traitorous thought that suggested this act was motivated purely by her own ambition.  Her mother made a low grunting sound in the back of her throat, her body going taught.  Maat stepped around so she was face to face with her mother, wanting desperately to see the last of the light dim from her eyes.  The hags eyes were open wide, blood ran from the corner of her mouth.

“What have you done?” The woman whispered, splattering blood with the movement of her mouth.

“Oh, don’t worry mother.  I placed the knife quite carefully – none of the histories were damaged.  Your record is intact.”

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Selecting a Registrar and Hosting Company for Your Website

Once you’ve come up with a few options for your website name (domain), you need to find a registrar to register it with. Essentially, you are leasing the domain name. To ensure that domain remains unique, it must be publicly registered in your name. This is what a registrar does. It links your name to a specific domain name, allowing you to “own” that space as long as you maintain the lease. The price for this will vary depending on the company you choose, but it is typically less than $10 per year.

You also need to decide who to host your website with. Basically, this means you are buying space on a server in some datacenter somewhere. This is where you save all the files relating to your website and where Internet user traffic hits when they pull up your site. Hosting prices vary as well, but you should be able to host your site for less than $10 per month. A quick word of warning: you typically pay for a year all up front on this, meaning they typically do not offer a month-to-month option. This caught me unawares with my first website. Fortunately I had enough cash in the bank to cover it! You can also find multi-year deals and/or a lower price for a longer contract (similar to cell phones), but keep in mind that you’re probably still going to need to pay for the entire package up front.

You do not have to register your domain and host your website with the same company (hosting simply refers to who owns the server your website “lives” on), but I do recommend you do so for simplicity’s sake. Registering with one company and hosting with another requires some additional steps that can be confusing for a novice.

I use Bluehost as registrar and host for every one of my websites (I have a small addiction to websites). They are an excellent company to start with, are inexpensive, and have hands down the best help desk I’ve ever worked with. Some other top-rated hosting companies include Dreamhost, Hostgator, and A Small Orange. Make sure you sign up with a reputable hosting company. When you run into a problem and need some help, it’s worth every penny to have reliable and competent help at the tip of your fingers (or on the phone). 

Okay, let’s get down to business. To register your domain, pull up the website of the business you would like to register and host with. For this example I will use Bluehost, but the process will be very similar regardless of the company you choose. Select the hosting option on their website. Note that some companies will have hosting options such as shared, VPS, or dedicated. Unless you expect your website to pull incredible traffic, you will not need anything other than shared. 

Image of Hosting Site

 

Select the service package you’d like. The entry-level option is likely sufficient for your needs, but choose what you feel best suits your goals for your site.

Hosting Company Registration Once you’ve selected the package, you will be presented with a screen that looks similar to what I’ve shown below. Enter in the domain name you most prefer from your brainstormed list and select the next button to see if it is available. I used the domain bestbookever.com for the example below.

Domain Registration

If it is available for registration, you’ll get an image similar to this:

Registration Success

If it’s not available, they typically provide a list of potential names that are available that you might like. You may find something that appeals to you in this list. I have personally not found them to be all that useful, so remember to have your list of alternatives handy.

Domain Failure

Once you’ve selected your domain name, finish filling out the requested information for your hosting package and pay! You are now the proud owner of your very own domain name.

Well, sort of. You don’t actually own the domain name, as you recall. You are essentially leasing it. You will have to renew your lease annually, and I strongly recommend you set it up so this happens automatically through your domain registrar. If you forget to renew it then the domain name will go back into the pool, and there are folks out there who watch for this to happen and then snatch them up. You might be able to get it back by purchasing it from the new owner, but you’ll likely pay a pretty penny for it. Setting your domain renewals to happen automatically protects you from what could turn into a major hassle.

One last item of note regarding your privacy as the website owner: the owner information for every website is stored in a public database, called whois. This information is available to anyone who wishes to look for it. Many hosting companies offer domain privacy as an add-on to the service. Bluehost charges an extra $10 per year for this add-on service. With this service, instead of your name and address being logged in this public database, Bluehost’s information is logged in its place. This works wonders at keeping marketing companies at bay. It is an additional expense, however, and you must decide if it is worth the price for you.

If you’d like to catch up, you can see the other posts in this series at the following links.
The Importance of a Website to your Author Platform
Why You Need a Self Hosted Website
Naming Your Website

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 10

Desiderium

Desiderium

Exciting news everyone!  Desiderium is now available on Amazon and Kobo!  (It will soon be available on Nook as well.)  To celebrate, Magicless is on sale for only $.99 all week!

No, onto business, my #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter ten of Desiderium, is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers.

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

 

~ TEN ~

Lost

Not all those who wander are lost. I forget where I heard that, but I always held it to be true. I had certainly wandered enough in my life, with great intention and deliberation, turning my back on the conventionalities our culture told us to embrace in favor of traveling and seeing the world around me. First I had done it alone, and then later with Sophie. I wandered, was frequently lost, but always ended up exactly where I wanted to be.

But just as often it seems the opposite can be true. Some who wander are lost. Or will be soon, when the thing they seek finally allows itself to be found.

I am lost.

Sophie had been true to her word. By the time I got home from work all of her stuff was gone. It felt profoundly wrong and simultaneously so right. I had thought that I was going to spend the rest of my life with Sophie. But the woman…the night I had spent with her awakened something deep inside of me. Something I don’t think I ever knew was there. She had warned me, told me that humanity was nothing but a thin veneer over the heart of an animal, and I know she’s right. Despite the conflict I feel over Sophie leaving, there is an undercurrent of deep excitement and thrill about the path I’m on now. It’s unsettling and overwhelming.

I spent no time in the now-empty house after I got home. Instead I went in search of the dark-haired lady. I needed to feel again that certainty that I had felt the morning after our first night together, and I needed her body. After two days of nothing and my libido still elevated to a feverish pitch, I was aching for an outlet. I found her, finally, somewhere around midnight on that seedy ledge that first ruined, but now seems to have saved, my life.

When I woke up this morning I was glad to see I was in my own bed instead of a filthy trash heap. I was enveloped in that same sense of euphoria as last time, and I could still smell her ripe scent all around me. My body ached as if I had just completed a triathlon.

The sun was streaming in through the windows and I could hear birds twittering in the trees outside the house. I looked around my room, collecting my thoughts, and my eyes fell on that picture of Sophie and I in France, standing outside that cathedral with the rose-colored window and the labyrinth. She was beautiful that day. Is beautiful every day. Was. Is.

I looked at the clock and saw it was 6:00 pm in the evening. I thought briefly of work—another no-call, no-show isn’t going to go over well. Especially considering I have no real excuse, no emergency to explain away my carelessness. But then again, I am a rising star and a valuable team member, or so they frequently tell me. Two days would not kill my career. I didn’t really think about it for long, all I could think of really was Annabel. Annabel Lee, I’ve decided to call her. The dark beauty who captured my soul last night. God damn… I have never experienced anything even close to the heaven that is Annabel in all my life.

I thought back to the feel of her pushing me back onto a soft bed after climbing those endless steps. From there my memory is disjointed, flashes of disconnected images only. Damn good images, though. Despite my complete physical exhaustion I feel a stirring when I dwell on it.

I have never felt anything like what I feel when I’m with her. I thought I had had it good before, but everything before was like the brightness of a light bulb in the face of the sun. Completely eclipsed. Nothing will ever measure up now. Nothing compares to Annabel. I am bewitched, smitten, and madly in love with Annabel Lee.

The wonder of it makes me laugh; it’s ludicrous and fabulous all at the same time. Is this what they’re talking about when they talk about love at first sight? Can you love someone after two nights? After two nights with very minimal talking but a whole lot of fucking? We men are as simple as women joke we are…offer us the most amazing sex of our lives and we’ll eat out of your hands and declare undying love. What a joke.

I lean forward in bed and drop my head in my hands. Damn I’m sore. I feel hungover, even though I hadn’t even had a single drink. Just dehydrated from all the exercise I guess. I laugh out loud, the sound thunking solidly in the deep quiet of the room. My eyes stare unseeing at the carpet between my bare feet. Something catches my eye.

I lean forward for a closer look, and then lift my foot up onto my knee, a quiver of discomfort shooting through my gut. It’s a bite mark. A perfectly clear outline of two rows of teeth on the arch of my foot, a bite hard enough to have broken through my skin and left a smear of blood on the top of my foot. I flitted through those disjointed memories from the night before and couldn’t find one associated with that bite. I sat quietly for a moment, considering, and then shrugged it off. People have odd habits when it comes to sex. Some are silent, some scream, and some bite. It isn’t so odd, really. In fact, I find it kind of sexy, that she would feel so free to embrace this freaky side of herself in our fucking. It makes me want to, as well.

I stand up and walk over to the picture of Sophie I had noticed earlier. I pull it off the flat-headed nail it was hanging on and look at it for a moment. I feel a flutter of guilt, brief and slight as a wisp of cloud on a hot summer day, and then I put it face down in the top dresser drawer. I was done with that part of my life, and moving toward something entirely new and different. I didn’t need Sophie staring down at me as I slept at night, and I sure as hell didn’t want her picture there if Annabel ever came to my place. She probably wouldn’t be bothered by it; she might even like it, but I just didn’t want it around. It made me feel uncomfortable, conflicted. Guilty.

I walk to the shower, turn the water to scalding, and once the steam starts billowing out of the glass enclosure I step in and let the hot water run down my sore body. It stings in several places, and each inspection reveals another bite mark or a scratch, not just small scratches but the kind a pissed-off cat might leave behind. Deep and long, frequently deep enough to draw blood.

A small, quiet snake of fear slithers deep inside my belly, but I push it even further down and smile, thinking of our next encounter. I like this animal inside me I’m starting to get to know. I feel like a stag in rut, powerfully male. We all need to get back in touch with this side of ourselves, and I am grateful to Annabel for showing me, for opening this door and giving me the opportunity to step through.

If you’d like to read more from Desiderium you can find it here.
Ch 1
Ch 2
Ch 3
Ch 4
Ch 5
Ch 6
Ch 7
Ch 8
Ch 9

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Naming Your Website – Adventures on the Interwebs

Choose well grasshopper. The name you choose for your website has far reaching implications for your author platform.

Before rushing out to buy a domain and splash up a site it is important to pause and consider your future as a writer.  Do you write in a particular genre or do you write in multiple genres? Do you want to write under your real name or a pen name? Do you write in a single age group or in multiple age groups?

Many authors enjoy writing different kinds of books and they may decide to write different types of books under different names. Consider Robin Hobb as an example.  Robin Hobb is a pseudonym for Megan Lindholm,  and Megan chose to adopt a pseudonym when she realized she was venturing into a different sub-genre than what she’d been writing as Megan Lindholm (you can see more about this here: http://www.meganlindholm.com/faq/).  She has different websites for each ‘author’ and maintains separate brands though she makes it clear they are the same person.

What you want to write and how you want to market your work will dictate how you name your site.  Joanna Penn chose a company name (The Creative Penn) rather than her own name, and she houses both her fiction and non-fiction under one site (www.thecreativepenn.com).

I am and independently published writer, I write fiction and nonfiction, and I write YA as well as fiction for adults. I chose to write all of my books under the same name, K. Ferrin, and to have one platform for all of them.  The name I chose for my website reflects my author name.

There are pros and cons to every approach and the key is to find the one that works best for you. I wanted to maintain only one blog and keep all my social media work under a single name, but this may not work for you and the work you do. There are many excellent resources exploring branding for writers and it might be worth your time to do some reading before settling on a name.

Here are some links to get you started. For more simply Google “branding for writers” and you’ll find plenty of reading material.

The Book Designer (http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/07/6-branding-tips-for-writers-and-authors/)
The Creative Penn (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/03/20/branding-author-platform/)

Now, to throw a wrench into the gears. As you likely know website names (domains) are all unique and once someone has slapped their name on it you can’t use it. You may decide you want to use your name as your domain name only to discover someone else already owns it.  Don’t panic! You are an author. You create for a living. Come up with a few options that might work for you.

Some authors add a hyphen to their name. So instead of www.firstnamelastname.com they go with www.firstname-lastname.com. Others chose to add ‘author’ to the domain, www.firstnamelastnameAuthor.com or www.authorfirstnamelastname.com, both of which work fine. Others go with a nickname or a shortened name.  Karen Mahoney writes YA urban fantasy, publishes under Karen Mahoney, yet her website is www.kazmahoney.com. You can also chose a domain with a .net (or any other) instead – though be careful of this.  It can create real problems for your branding efforts.

Next week we’ll cover how to select and register your domain with a registrar and a hosting company. For earlier posts in this series see:

The Importance of a Website for Your Author Platform
Why You Need a Self Hosted Website

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Havoc’s Cry, Loren Weaver

Havoc's Cry - BookTitle:  Havoc’s Cry
Author: Loren Weaver

Synopsis:
The only living Sorceress, Victoria Novak, finally earned a peaceful, normal life. But with one howl on a full moon, her whole life crashes back into paranormal chaos. The FBI show up to recruit her to the Federal Paranormal Division, the very first all paranormal police force and she can’t decline. Tori must train a new team of special agents in paranormal etiquette in the middle of solving a crime that’s leaving ravaged bodies twisted into grotesque shapes. Caught in the middle of a werewolf fight for dominance, Tori can’t let personal emotion interfere with solving a crime. Until the crime becomes personal. With her life spinning into chaos, the real question is how far is she willing to go to answer Havoc’s Cry.

Review:
Havoc’s cry takes place in a world much like ours, but paranormals have come out of the wood work and are living amongst humans. The author went to great lengths to build a complex paranormal world and clearly defined a variety of types of paranormals, the kinds of powers they had, even a bit of a hierarchy amongst them based on their strength and power (though this might be hotly debated amongst the paranormals themselves!). I appreciated the level of detail and thought that went into defining the paranormals of this world.

The protagonist, Tor, had a great dry wit and sarcastic approach that I liked and found very relatable. The story was good, the primary plot being the need to solve a string of brutal murders, with the political dynamics of a werewolf tribe driving the subplot. I thought both story lines were interesting and compelling.

That said, the heavy exposition throughout the book really slowed the storyline down for me. There are large sections where the characters are all standing around getting lectured by the protagonist about paranormals which frequently became boring for me. I would have personally preferred this information be shown instead of told by using the action and unrolling of the story to reveal this information rather than lecture.

While I liked Tor, for the most part, but I found the other characters to be little more than straw-men, figures for Tor to talk to and tease with but none of whom had any real value to the story outside of being props for the protagonist. I really enjoy character driven stories and Havoc’s Cry is definitely more plot driven than character driven.

If you enjoy the paranormal, and particularly if you enjoy plot driven stories, I’d say pick up Havoc’s Cry and give it a read. If you prefer stories that are more character driven this might not be the story for you.

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Desiderium, Monsters the First Ch 9

Desiderium

Desiderium

My #WedPeeks post for this week is chapter nine of my new novella, release date is Monday (10/20/14).  For the week of 10/20 – 10/27 both Magicless and Desiderium will be only $.99!

Desiderium is a dark fantasy/horror and is for mature readers.  *Warning: There is violence, sex, and a lot of profanity in these pages.

 

~ NINE ~

The Fight

She never came.

Despite my crushing disappointment, the city was spectacular tonight. It was cold and a light, misting rain was falling. I was entranced by the way the raindrops flashed in the puddles of light streaming from the streetlights and largely abandoned buildings. The alternating pattern of light and dark as I stalked through the streets transfixed me. I lost all sense of place or time. My world shrank down to nothing more than the next patch of light or the next patch of dark. My worries about my brother and concern about Sophie shattered into bits smaller than the glittery drops of illumination dancing with the rain. So small now, they ceased to matter overmuch to me. How could they matter, when there was a patch of light just a dozen steps ahead, and another patch of dark another dozen after that?

Many years ago Sophie and I took a trip to France and stumbled into the Chartres Cathedral on a day folks were walking the labyrinth. There were a half-dozen people slowly shuffling along the worn pathways, their faces glowing pink from the sunlight gleaming through the rose window. It was cool inside the cathedral despite the warm summer day outside, and very quiet. You could hear nothing beyond the murmuring of hushed voices and the soft shuffle of steps.

Those walking the maze seemed mesmerized. Their eyes firmly on the pathways before them, oblivious to the handful of folks standing or sitting on the sidelines watching. Sophie wanted to give it a try, but I was disinterested. A cynic, she’d called me.

I took a seat in a folding chair and stared up at that rose window while Sophie took her turn in the labyrinth. I found the patterns and contours in the stained glass far more mesmerizing than the lines on the floor.

They say labyrinths have a long spiritual history, and the unicursal pathway, with no alleys or dead ends to concern yourself with, allows you to lose yourself, to open your mind to creativity and intuition. A metaphor for the journey deep into yourself and then out again. Returning a bit wiser, perhaps. At least when it comes to knowing thyself.

After walking it Sophie was a firm believer. Hokey is what I called it. But tonight I felt what she must have felt that day in the cathedral. The mindlessness that comes with losing yourself in some gently repeating pattern with no apparent beginning or end.

I snapped out of it only when I realized that as I was walking I was repeating a phrase out loud. Truth is coming to me, easily and effortlessly, truth is coming to me. I don’t know how long I’d been repeating it, but I had been walking most of the night once it became apparent I wasn’t going to see her. It creeped me out that I could have been wandering the streets for so many hours straight, mumbling these words repeatedly as I went. People must have definitely thought I was a cracked nut.

Regardless, in my distraction, I had lost track of time, and I realized I would barely make it home before Sophie’s alarm went off. I couldn’t go another day without dealing with her. She’d call the police if she hadn’t done already. I didn’t need that kind of trouble. I cut through an alley to shortcut back to my car, stepping on a homeless guy lying in the gutter in my haste. He didn’t make a sound even though I had trod right on his leg. The feeling of something soft and squishy rolling under my foot scared the shit out of me. But worse, the guy was just lying there, staring up at me with wide unblinking eyes. I couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead, but either way I couldn’t leave him there, so I hunted down the nearest pay phone to call 911. Turns out pay phones are tough to find these days, but I didn’t want to use my cell to make the call. I didn’t want anyone knowing where I was that time of the day.

I was already cutting it short, and by the time I walked in the door Sophie had the coffee brewing and was in the shower. I had hoped I could sneak in and lay down on the couch, acting as if I’d slept there all night, but no luck. I was caught. There was no sense in trying to lie my way out of it. Sophie knew me too well, and I never could lie to her anyway. I just couldn’t tell her about the other woman. I poured a cup of coffee, sat down at the dining table, and waited for Sophie to get out of the shower.

The look on her face spoke volumes. Her lips were a tight thin line, not from anger, but from the effort of not showing their shaking. And though her beautiful blue eyes were shiny with unshed tears, they were also flat and hard. The look of a woman trying desperately to distance herself from the man she’s losing. She poured herself a cup of coffee in silence, stirred in cream with intense focus, took her first sip, crossed her arms, and then looked me squarely in the eyes. I couldn’t help but notice the way her crossed arms pulled her robe askew ever so slightly, exposing the soft curve of her breast. How I loved that woman. My heart broke a little and waves of guilt crashed over me. What the fuck had I been thinking the last two nights? But I said nothing.

Truth be told she didn’t have to say a word—I knew what she was thinking. Why are you doing this to me, Terryn? Why are you doing this to yourself? Why can’t you just let it go? He’s gone, there is nothing you can do to change that. You need some help, Baby, let me help you, please. We’ll go together.

We’ve had these sorts of conversations so many times now I’ve lost count, and the message is burned into my mind like a brand. In the beginning I tried to explain my behavior. I told her about my certainty that someone had killed Blake, and that they were out there still. I tried to tell her how haunted I felt, and how helpless I had become, and how I despised myself for all of it. She was supportive then, back before the nightmares began and the all-night wanderings became so commonplace. For five years she’s put up with it, and loved me just the same despite it. But it’s wearing on her, has been for a long while. I am not being fair to her, I know that. Images of me with another woman flashed before my eyes, and I couldn’t look Sophie in the face.

“I’ve tried, Terryn. I really have. I love you, you know that. I want to spend my life with you. But you’re leaving me behind. I don’t understand why, but this…”

She gestured to the kitchen around us.

“… this seems to have lost any meaning it had to you once. I would have gone with you, Terryn, I would still if you would only let me. But you’re determined to do this alone, and I sure as hell don’t understand.” She paused, took another couple of sips of coffee.

“So, wander. Wander as you’re compelled to do. Spend your nights alone, going wherever the hell you go, doing whatever the hell you do. But I can’t stay here and watch you self-destruct this way. I’m moving out. I’ll be gone by the time you get home from work today.”

My guts turned to ice. Some part of me—a big part, even—still did not want to lose her. Some part of me believed that she was the one thing that had allowed me any level of focus, the one thing that had kept me attached to this daytime world. I realized in that instant that not all of me wanted to drift away and embrace the darker side of myself. At least one small part wanted to retain my humanity. But I had driven away the one thing that allowed that small piece of me to survive.

A thought came suddenly, almost from outside of me. If I drove away that last little piece, I was free. I was free to become the beast.

I felt at war with myself. I stared at her, saying nothing. I wanted to tell her so many things, things to keep her and things to drive her away, but none of them held any real meaning. I knew in my bones that I could not stop searching, and that I would not stop seeing the dark-haired woman. This was the only sane thing she could do, the only choice I was giving her. I wanted to scream, I wanted to tell her about fucking the stranger two nights back and watch the pain spread across her features, I wanted to beg her to stay, but in the end I said nothing.

“Just promise me one thing, Terryn. As you wander through those dark streets, to wherever they take you and for however long it takes; think of me. Think only of me. Don’t get lost, don’t forget. See my face, feel my embrace, and remember always that I love you. I love you still. And when you finish this…this thing… when you come out on the other side, I’ll be waiting for you.”

She stepped across the short distance between us and pulled me into her softness. She kissed me then, long and gently, and the conflict I’d been feeling since yesterday morning expanded exponentially inside of me. I wanted to lash out in frustration and confusion. I loved her, and I also felt I couldn’t live without the dark-haired woman. How could two such conflicting emotions exist within one man? Then she pulled away, grabbed her mug, and went back upstairs.

I fell into a chair at the table, exhausted and confused. I sat at the table we had shared so many meals at. I could hear the echo of laughter from family dinners, and the intense debates with friends, a smattering of empty wine bottles scattered along the center of the table. It had all seemed so bright once. So filled with promise and potential. Now it was all in shadow and tasted like dust. It was all ending. And once again I was helpless to stop it or change it.

No. That isn’t the truth of it. I chose this path. I could have taken the path that Sophie had laid out before me, and maybe in time things would have worked out that way. But night after night I chose the isolated path instead. I knew as soon as I saw her sitting on the ledge that woman was trouble. And she warned me of it, too. I can show you, but only if you want to see she had said. She had made it clear, I had to choose, I had to want to go with her. I chose the shadow, I chose to follow in Blake’s footsteps once again and try to solve the mystery of his death.

I got up and went to work.

If you’d like to read more from Desiderium you can find it here:
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New Releases in Fantasy, Week of 10/13/14

woman reading books

We’ve got quite a few releases this week in fantasy. I am particularly excited to read Of Bone and Thunder, and The Time Roads!

Clariel, Garth Nix
The Abhorsen, #4

Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?

Mortal Gods, Kendare Blake
Goddess War #4

Ares, god of war, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She’s ready to wage a war of her own, and she’s never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she’ll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.

Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can’t have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra’s hate will get them all killed.

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can’t, fates far worse than death await.

Of Bone and Thunder, Chris Evans

Of Bone and Thunder is the story of Thaum Jawn Rathim, whose idealized view of the war clashes with its harsh realities and his realization that victory may cost him everything…of conscripted soldier Carny, awash in a hallucinogenic haze of fear and anger…of Breeze, the red-haired graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology, certain she can transform the very nature of warfare—if only she can win the trust of the man holding her fate in his hands…and of Ugen Listowk, a veteran crossbowman who finds solace in the darkest shadows of the jungle and whose greatest fear is failing the men he leads into battle.

Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, these reluctant soldiers struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage the war their way—not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.

Stitching Snow, R.C. Lewis

Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

The Time Roads, Beth Bernobich

A fantastical nineteenth century alternate historical steampunk romp from Beth Bernobich, the critically acclaimed author of the River of Souls trilogy.

Éire is one of the most powerful empires in the world. The Anglian Dependencies are a dusty backwater filled with resentful colonial subjects, Europe is a disjointed mess, and many look to Éire for stability and peace. In a series of braided stories, Beth Bernobich has created a tale about the brilliant Éireann scientists who have already bent the laws of nature for Man’s benefit. And who now are striving to conquer the nature of time.

Strike, D.J. MacHale
The SYLO Chronicles #3

#1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale is back with the third book in the SYLO Chronicles. Once again, Tucker Pierce and friends must fight for their lives against the better-equipped SYLO. All bets are off in Strike—with twists so big readers will never see them coming—while the action and pulse-pounding suspense remain as high as ever. Fans will be sure to devour this incredibly satisfying conclusion.

The Terminals: A Novel, Royce Scott Buckingham

In The Terminals, Royce Buckingham tells the riveting story of a covert team of young, terminally ill teens who spend their last year alive running dangerous missions as super-spies for an organization that may not be all it seems.

When 19 year-old Cam Cody is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he expects to spend the rest of his shortened life in an adjustable bed. Then one night, a mysterious man offers Cam one chance to join a covert unit of young “terminals.” They are like him, only they spend the last year of their lives executing exciting and dangerous missions to make the world a better place.

With nothing to lose, Cam is in.

The Free, Brian Ruckley

THEY ARE THE MOST FEARED MERCENARY COMPANY THE KINGDOM HAS EVER KNOWN.

Led by Yulan, their charismatic captain, the Free have spent years selling their martial and magical skills to the highest bidder — winning countless victories that have shaken the foundations of the world. Now they finally plan to lay down their swords.
Yet when Yulan is offered a final contract, he cannot refuse — for the mission offers him the chance to erase the memories of the Free’s darkest hour, which have haunted him for years.
As the Free embark on their last mission, a potent mix of loyalty and vengeance is building to a storm. Freedom, it seems, carries a deadly price.
Snow Like Ashes, Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes #1

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

The Accidental Highwayman, Ben Tripp

In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….

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Weekend Writing Warriors Blog Hop #4

This post marks my one month anniversary with Weekend Writing Warriors! Ok, only four posts, but I’m still pretty excited.  You can check out other amazing 8 line snippets using the link below.

I have exciting news!  Desiderium now has a cover!  You can see it below the 8 down toward the bottom of this page.  What do you think?

This snippet is still in chapter 1.  After talking Sophie loses most of her anger about what has just happened and pulls Terryn back into bed with her.  This snippet is him thinking over her offer and coming to realize his dream of a white picket fence life with the woman he loves is no longer in reach.

The 8

I was disturbed at the desire I’d felt, at what I’d wanted to do.  The thought of what I’d done to her while dreaming left a cold metallic fear at the back of my tongue.  She deserved better from me.  Deserved more than I could give her. She deserves the white picket fence but it is no longer a possibility for me.  It was as if the vision, that fantasy, was being pulled abruptly away from me, like a fast zoom out in a film.  All I could see of it now was a tiny white speck in the distance.  That possible future died with the ring of a telephone.

You can find the full chapter on my blog, chapter one is here.  And now, the cover!

Desiderium

Desiderium

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