So you can read my books

Sunday, June 27, 2010


A frost in the blood.

Message novels are that ... and more.

Yesterday's post might have given some the idea that I thought good novels had to say something meaningful.


As at the end, I will say again : the best novels are the ones that ignore overt messages and simply tell a very good story : one that touches the heart and haunts the soul.

You live your whole life, your face set on the course of a destiny you think you know. Then, fate smiles sadly and draws back the curtain on a reality that spins you around 180 degrees.

Life. Ever changing. Never static ... even when it appears so.

Vampires. They appear static. Never aging. Never leaving the public's fascination either. ECLIPSE is coming out this upcoming week.

As a nod of acknowledgement to the TWILIGHT phenomenon, I present McCord's first meeting with Prince Strasser, the revenant (vampire), who will hound the Ranger all his days. I find sparkly good-hearted vampires a bit hard to swallow so I made mine the predators that I thought they would naturally be.

The meeting is from RITES OF PASSAGE. McCord has just met the Sidhe wearing the face of a murdered girl. But he has found she is as much a victim as Rachel. Perhaps more so, since she is still alive to suffer.

He is awaiting Meilori for breakfast. Fallen, the Sidhe wearing Rachel's face, has joined McCord at his table. Sitting at the other tables in the ship's dining room are revenants, confident that they can easily kill a white-haired human :

Fallen whispered, "All is Tohu and Bohu, void and without form, a cry of a dying child signifying nothing."

"Thanks for sharing that with me."

She looked at me as if wanting to cry. "Must you learn life like a foreign language?"

I tried for a smile; it came out crooked. "You must be related to Elu."

Her lower lip quivered for a brief moment. "I am related to the worst person you could possibly imagine."

"Relations don't matter. What you do long enough becomes who you are."

She sat back. "Most people think from word to word. No wonder Rachel felt about you as she did. You think from word to fact. A rare gift."

I saw the aristocratic fop at the next table throw his napkin down in disgust. He rose as if a spotlight were on him. He strutted his way to our table.

He sneered, "So The Gray Man's bitch makes her entrance?"

I picked up a knife from the setting before me. "You'll not talk that way about a lady."

"Indeed?," he smirked.

With a wide showing of teeth, he said, "Mind if I sit down?"

"Would it matter if I said 'Yes'?"

"Certainly not."

"Then, go right on ahead. This way, I have the illusion of free will."

As the fop sat down, Fallen smiled her first warm smile at me. "How utterly quaint. To deceive by misplaced abstraction."

I smiled back, not knowing what the devil she meant, but glad to have taken some of the pain away from her eyes. Odd. She wore Rachel's face, and I should have hated her. Yet, somehow, I felt she was as much, if not more, a victim as Rachel.

She turned to the fop. "Strasser, --"

"Prince Strasser."

"Strasser, I have traveled the American West many times. And Captain McCord is much like the weather-beaten sign I read at the 3 R Ranch : 'Welcome, stranger. If you're peaceable, I'll take care of you. If you are not, I'll take care of you, too.'"

Prince Strasser sneered, "Is that supposed to fill me with fear?"

Fallen's smile was that of a shark's. "Only if you were intelligent."

She rose graceful as a swan and turned to me. "I had not expected to leave this table feeling for you as I do. How utterly quaint."

She spun elegantly, her full gown filling out around her. I watched her leave with sadness. Somehow, I felt our next meeting wouldn't end so well. I sighed. Sometimes, life twisted back on you like a rattler.

Fallen stopped at the bottom of the grand staircase, and with her rippling brook voice, said, "Samuel McCord, I have noticed that victory can be secured even in the darkest moment with slow decisions, gentle wisdom, and restrained passion."

And with that, she climbed the velvet stairs with a melancholy air as Strasser snorted, "Advise from a Sidhe? As false as their gold coins."

His right eyebrow arched with contempt. "By the way, McCord, do you know what the learned men of today's world say marks humans from the rest of the animals?"

"Not that I recall."

He pulled his lips wide. "The ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. What do you see when you look in the mirror, Ranger?"

He obviously couldn't find any flies to pull wings from, so he was needling me. Let him. Better men than him had gone at it.

I smiled back, "A friend."

I nodded to him. "What do you see? Oh, that's right, judging from that uneven tie of yours, I reckon you can't see much of anything, can you?"

Srasser's eyes became slits. Right then, the nervous waiter, Timmons, walked up to the table, shakily carrying a silver tray with a full pitcher of iced orange juice and an empty wine glass. He hesitantly put them down beside me. Then, he hurried away. I didn't blame him. The company at the table was certainly lacking.

The light of the rising sun from the central well above us flickered hungry fires in Strasser's eyes as he said, "You are outnumbered. You would do well to keep a civil tongue in your head lest you lose it."

I nodded. "Sounds like good advice. Were I a man that took good advice I might even take it. But I never met a Ranger yet that took advice, good or otherwise."

I poured a small amount of the orange juice in the glass. Strasser's eyes followed my hand as I brought up the goblet to my lips. For once, I did it just right : letting the juice flow for the briefest of moments across my tongue before swallowing. I sighed. It tasted wonderful. Strasser was glaring at me.

"Everything you drink tastes like pus, doesn't it? Not exactly how the dime novels tell it, is it? But then, you know all too well that being undead is all sham. The ligaments shrivel; the cartilage wears paper thin. Each move is agony. Your withered organs begin to smell so that even your over-powering cologne won't cover it up."

"Mock the fire, and it will burn you, cowboy."

Timmons came up to the table again, looking even more uncomfortable. He held a tray with a wine goblet, filled with red liquid. My nose picked up the copper scent of blood. Timmons placed it down before Strasser.

The revenant licked his lips. "Ah, my Haima. A most wonderful blend."

Timmons said, "I-It looks like blood."

Strasser smiled wide. "Indeed, it is."

He took a deep sip and smiled wider, his sharp teeth red-smeared. Timmons looked in horror, first at the revenant, then at me. He started backing up.

"Do not leave just yet, little man. Do you not want your tip?"

Timmons stopped, and Strasser chuckled, "Here it is, churl. Do not ever let me find you alone in the hallways."

Timmons nearly ran backwards from our table, as Strasser laughing, drank deep again. "Ah, an acquired taste but addictive, nonetheless. The blood of a twelve year old virgin girl. Oh, McCord, you should have heard her mewings."

I just sat there, forcing all emotion from my face. Strasser chuckled. He looked over his shoulder at his companions from the table he had left. His sneering body said it all : 'See how I have frightened the savage?'

He turned back to me, putting down the blood goblet. He smoothed his hand across the soft linen of the tablecloth, his palm flat against it. He sneered his contempt of me. Moving as fast as I could, I stabbed his right hand with the knife I still held, right beside and below his thumb. The fabled, lost 355th acupuncture point. Strasser screamed shrill ...

just like a little twelve year old girl.

It was a long wail of a scream. I twisted the knife to make it last longer. I smiled like a wolf.

I nudged it just to the right a bit. His scream cut off suddenly. Intense agony will do that to a man, rob him of the breath necessary to raw out his throat with the wail he was dying to scream but couldn't. I looked without mercy at him.

"You know, it's amazing how many people live their whole lives without paying attention."

I nodded down to his writhing hand. "Take the number five, for instance. Five fingers. Five notes in the musical scale. Five tastes for food. Five basic elements. Ever thought about that?"

I wiggled the knife a bit, and Strasser made little girl mewing sounds. "No, of course not. How many centuries have you wasted just existing, not thinking beneath the surface?"

I gave him a Fallen smile. "I'll tell how many. Too many. You talk educated, but it's all an empty show. Your lungs don't draw in oxygen. Even if they did, your heart no longer pumps blood to bring oxygen to your brain. How, then, does your brain keep on working?"

I sighed, "Do you know what animates your body that science would say is dead? Hell, do you know what even animates a living human body? No. You just accepted the fact that you existed and that you could prey on those weaker than you."

I heard low roaring in my ears. "You've preyed on little girls for so long you felt vicious and strong by comparison. You just think you're bad, Strasser. Now, me? I ... am ... bad."

I nudged the knife to give him the worst pain yet. "I could kill you right here, right now. But ... that ... would ... be ... mercy."

I tore out the knife in a splatter of thick, black blood. "And you don't deserve mercy."

He staggered up from his chair, hugging his limp hand to his chest. He looked down in horror. His right hand refused to move, hanging oddly limp at the wrist.

I shook my head. "It won't work anymore, Strasser. But if you're a good little boy all trip, I'll set it right for you. If I'm still alive, that is."

He flicked horrified eyes back to his slowly grinning companions. "Yeah, that's right. You're a maimed wolf now. And you know what the pack does to a maimed wolf, don't you?"

I almost felt sorry for him. "I think you better take up the art of learning. And the first thing I'd learn were I you would be diplomacy. Or running."

I gestured to his goblet. "Now, take your blood and get back to your ... friends."

He snatched the goblet, splattering drops of blood on the white tablecloth. "I will have my revenge for this."

I hefted the knife and caught it by the blade. "You want me to nail the other hand?"

He almost fell as he staggered backwards. I took no pleasure in the cruel grins his companions gave his back as he made his way to them. I caught their eyes and motioned to them with the knife. They stopped smiling.

**********************Word of warning to the Volturi : enter Samuel's universe at your peril. He shows mercy but seldom. Ask the Aztec dead of Meilori's. And no one plays with DayStar's toys.
{Something I read on got my attention : You can check it out at hashtag #agentpay. It started off with a simple question posed by Uber Agent Colleen Lindsay. She asked, "How would publishing change if agenting moved from commission-based payment to billable hours?" What do you think about that, guys?}


  1. Ooh, that was great! I loved the way he paid back the mewling for the little girl. Such a terrible first meeting, no wonder they tangle later on.

    Love McCord and his descriptions of the decaying vampires. Makes thems less romantic and more rancid in this story-verse.

    Can't wait to read more.

  2. Thanks, Raquel. I always found the romantic version of vampires false-sounding, considering they use humans as we do cattle.

  3. LOVE True Blood, don't care for Twilight. Team Bill all the way!

    Another nicely written excerpt. :]

  4. Wow. Strasser is a creeeep. But no match for the cowboy of all cowboys. (= Great read.

  5. Amanda : Yes, I am a fan of Bill, too. And TWILIGHT just didn't do anything for me either. I'm glad you like my excerpt.

    Jo : Thanks for the compliment. It means a lot. Yes, Sam is no one for creepy-crawlies to mess with.

  6. I was in on that billable hours talk as it happened. There were some good ideas tossed around. Some agents, once they are good enough, make enough, and don't take on new clients, actually already work under billable hours. It's just not that feasible for those who are just starting out.

    As for Twilight... I try not to say anything negative. So I don't speak of it.

  7. OOOooooo, that was gooood! Love it when someone gets their comeuppance!

  8. I like twilight although most people don't and am probably too old for it but i don't think one can age away from vampires and werewolves when we desire so much as for True blood i need to acquire a taste for it and maybe in time i will be singing a different tune. However, am all for the billable hours i think working for commission after a while loses it appeal no incentive~

  9. Not a fan of Twilight - but I only watched the first movie. I like Vampire Bill's character better in the novels - True Blood portrays him as to human even as he kills.

    I like evil, cold vampires. It's just how they should be to me. Not love sick feins pining for their mortality. Strasser is an intriguing bad-guy vamp. Very cool.


  10. fate smiles sadly and spins us. the moment we think we know, the universe does indeed draw that curtain back. fabulous imagery. i also like stories told to simply touch us, but i wonder if a truly touching story can be told without saying something meaningful. i'm not sure, but my first reaction is that the two go together.

  11. not a fan of the twilight movies and i'm still not so sure about true blood, I just started watching the series, on season 1, episode 5. so far, just eh!

    However, in novel format, they are both great reads for different reasons. Why is everything just better in a book?! I want my reality to be more like the fiction I read!