Flash: Flower Power

Woman with Flower Stock Art

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Gods, I cannot believe what a bunch of losers you guys have become.” Donnie waved with the hand not holding his beer, encompassing the group sitting throughout the upscale living room where they had collapsed after an exhausting evening of interspecies political wrangling. The rant went on and on about the old days and how everything had changed since his friends started pairing off with “the girls,” finally ended with, “We’re monsters for crying loud!”

The host adjusted himself on the arm of the cream and maroon striped settee to better watch his wife as she bustled around the kitchen. “Just because I have chosen to hand the reigns to someone does not mean I am tame.” He nodded happily as Ketzal gave him a wave before she opened the refrigerator. With her hidden behind the stainless steel door, Ebon returned his full attention to his guests, smiling with his canines exposed.

“Get real, the ring on your hand is like a ring through your nose,” Donnie sneered. “Dude, you are so pussy whipped I can’t even hear the crack of the leather anymore.”

Ebon moved faster than even the vampire of the group of immortals could observe. One moment Donnie was leaning against the sofa with Maria and Lorenzo, the next the shifter was holding him at arm’s length with Donnie’s legs swinging nearly a foot above the floor. Black hair sprouted along Ebon’s elongated arms, rock-hard muscular arms ending in claws around Donnie’s neck. The back of the dark elf’s head lay gently against an undamaged silk wallcovering.

Everyone stopped moving, and those that could held their breath.

“Do not think my marriage makes me any less dangerous.” Black eyes glowed red in the centers. Ebon stepped closer to the wall, bending the arm without effort while keeping the elf suffocating mid-air. He brought his short snout and full set of glistening teeth closer to the Wild Hunt rider face.

“Dinner is ready in ten…Ebon, my heart, put Donnie down.”

“Dead or alive,” he growled unmoving, staring into the eyes of his trembling prey.

Ketzal’s sweet voice replied. “I don’t really care, but if you kill him, you will need to dispose of the body after dinner.”

“What are we having?”

An exasperated puff came behind him. “What do you think?”

“Something tomatoey,” her husband replied after sniffing the air close to the elf’s neck.

“Creole Boil.”

If anything, Ebon’s toothy grin grew wider. “You live.” He opened his left hand.

Donnie fell to the floor gasping, rubbing his neck.

“And if you have a minute, can you fetch some wine for the meal?” The brunette swung her waist long hair behind her as the shifter stalked closer to her to give her ear a quick bite.

Whispering into it, which did not obscure the communication to anyone in the room because of their heightened senses, he said, “I will need to give it a taste to choose the right match.”

The goddess of flowers and ephemeral things giggled softly a second before turning her lips to his. “I just sampled the dish.”

He kissed her a long moment.

“The Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, should do.” He opened the small door between the living room and kitchen for the wine cellar stairs.

The satisfaction of Ketzal’s sigh left no doubt about the happiness of the couple’s relationship, even as it moved into its second decade. “Dinner is ready for seating as soon as someone helps me set the table.”

Tykevius and Carissa glided from where they had been hovering near the ceiling toward the dining area.

“Oh, and Donnie.” Ketzal’s musical tones carried the bass throb of power.

The elf snapped his head toward the Aztec goddess.

Her sweet smile looked even scarier than her husband’s. “I wouldn’t have seconds if I were you.”

(words 636, first published January 15, 2017)

Author Spotlight: Kalayna Price

Kicking It Amazon Book Cover

Book Cover from Amazon

The quiet, sweet dark voice whispers, “Want to fire dance?”

A USA Today Bestselling author, Kalayna Price, has two series: Alex Craft (Grave Witch) and Novels of Haven (Once Bitten), both featuring strong women with powers carrying debilitating prices. Alex Craft sees ghosts (who are great spies, but terrible backup) and Haven has vampires. I loved the Alex Craft books and look forward to reading her Haven series.

At convention panels, Ms. Price needs to be mic’ed – her speaking voice is as soft as her pen is strong. But her witty advice is worth hearing as much as her writing is worth reading, so I will sit in the first row listening to everything.

You can find out more about Ms. Price at her website, including her fire dancing: Kalayna Price.

Editing Rant: Copper Pennies

Fingers Holding A Penny Stock Photo

Image Courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What do your characters know?

So last editing rant I went off about Know Your Topic. You don’t want to lose readers because you presented parasailing or embroidery incorrectly. If you don’t know the topic find someone who does: topic experts, beta readers, at least a research librarian whom you are keeping in chocolates and coffee.

Equally important be aware of what you character knows.

This isn’t limited to the more common Point of View (POV) main character (MC) limitations; you may know character B dyed her hair yesterday, but MC doesn’t know yet so describes character B as a blonde. Don’t get me wrong, as an author making certain you only let your MC work from the information known to them rather than to you as the writer is essential. And challenging.

But you also need to limit them on what they are familiar with. Having a twenty-fourth century engineer know how to use a twentieth century keyboard to input information into a computer system is improbable.

Or a twenty-something person forty years after the zombie Apocalypse comparing the scent of blood to new pennies. Yes, this is a common comparison to the point of being clique. But someone born after coins stopped being minted isn’t likely to know what new pennies smelled like.

A person who has never seen the shore would not understand what the salty breeze meant.

Someone who had never been off a spaceship isn’t only going to be shocked by no sky – no walls is as big an issue. And the ship isn’t breathing. Could they even sleep at night? No mechanical noise means “we are all about to die”. How long does it take for the panic to wear off?

Back to the Smell of Blood – as an editor I couldn’t rewrite the line about new pennies. But I did find an article on the scent of blood. If you are describing lycanthropes, vampires, or just have splashes of blood throughout your manuscript you may want to follow the link to Writeworld – “Describing the Smell of Blood”.

(sigh) … And it is research like this that puts writers on watch lists.

WRITING EXERCISE: Create a scene (500 words or less) where your WIP character describes a common day item on your desk s/he is not familiar with and what the actions are taken to discover its use.

Flash: Ubel and Sidero

Man and woman Fighting Stock Photo

Image Courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The two turned as one when Vinny burst in the small room: Ubel, a Germanic overlord whose very name meant evil, and Sidero, a woman whom even the cadre elders treated cautiously. Ubel’s hand was wrapped around Sidero’s throat and Sidero’s claws were digging into Ubel’s chest.

Gulping audibly, Vinny announced, “The decision has been made.”

Ubel released his grip and his shirt snapped into place as Sidero pulled in her claws.

“This is not over.” Ubel whispered, his mouth line thin, promising thunder and blood. In medieval times, he had lined streets with the heads of his enemies. Whatever master brought him across had judged well on Ubel’s survivability and adaptability. The vampire had miscalculated on his ability to control his creation; the master’s name and ashes long lost to time.

Sidero smiled without teeth and nodded to the door for Ubel to go first. They stalked passed Vinny, a matched set of black and spotless white clothing, anger, and power.

Only with the dynamic couple gone could he look around the room to see what was left of the other three candidates. Pieces and parts, blood and bone, were strewn in the small room, decorating the walls and soaking into the floor. The detached head of the ancient Balash stared at Vinny from the grisly scene.

The destruction didn’t bother Vinny as much as Ubel and Sidero walking out without a mark on them.

He prayed to his unresponsive god they liked the decision the triad made on who was to be the next leader.

(257 words – first published 10/27/2013; republished new blog format 10/09/2016)

Flash: Waking up Dead

Casket from EnvironmentalCaskets.com

http://www.environmentalcaskets.com/

You are born. You die. In between is when the world exists. Or that is why people say.

Maybe they believe in heaven, or hell, or reincarnation, but the only surety is the here and now. Between birth and death. That is what people say.

People lie.

Waking up inside a coffin can rearrange your world.

Trying to escape the top-of-the-line casket your family bought with the unused portion of your college fund can drive you half mad. Sure the adjustable bed and mattress are nice during the breaks between claustrophobia panic attacks, but the chemically treated interior isn’t exactly fresh air.

Eventually the white satin lining, cotton padding, strong metal interior and beautiful mahogany wood exterior gives way to your screams and pounding. To your sobs and clawing. To your whimpers.

It’s not like the fancy locking mechanism is on the inside.

You wonder if you would have to pay extra for that feature.

Of course once you break the casket, you got a pile of dirt to get through. Worms, roots and the flowers your family left. Hopefully you don’t loosen the headstone so it falls on you as you emerge.

And for that trip there is no adjustable bed and mattress to rest on. You only thought you knew claustrophobia in the casket. When you breathe dirt and can’t move your fingers because of the earth falling down, you go truly mad.

Rain fills the spaces between the dirt. Don’t even try to move after a downpour. The disorientation will make you dig in the wrong direction. But you won’t care. All you want is out.

Eventually your reach it. The surface. Hopefully it’s night, because after the endless dark of digging your way out, the sun bloody hurts. Hopefully no one is around, because after all the effort to get out, you are hungry beyond measure.

If you are lucky, you are a zombie and those worms were tasty snacks on the way up. You may be able to pick and choose who your grab.

Vampires have it much worse.

The madness makes it easier to do the first kill. But the nourishment heals you, body and mind. So you get to go mad again when you realize what you have done. What you have become.

You get to go mad every night for the rest of your life.

Vampires have it easier. Most walk into the sun before they hate themselves forever.

Zombies have to find someone to kill them.

Which is hard, because it ain’t exactly assisted suicide. The monster in your head has a will to live. It dragged you kicking and screaming through the casket, dirt and first kill. The monster that is you doesn’t want to die.

So you got to trick it. Trick yourself. Something only the mad can do. Fortunately you are already there. And if you are lucky, you have someone who loves you enough to kill you.

(words 496 – first published 5/24/2013; republished new blog format 10/2/2016)