Monday, February 28, 2011

Libyan Sanctions

What is it about the state of the world's collective attitude concerning priorities that allows things like this to happen?
Gas prices are going through the roof, not due to real expenses, but due to speculation in the marketplace.  Everyone recognizes the devastating effect this will have on the shaky US economy.  The unrest in the Middle East, especially Libya is driving the price up at a phenomenal rate.  In Libya, people are dying in the streets at the hands of an obviously insane dictator along the same lines as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.  Muammar Qadaffi is not only mad, he is a war criminal and a terrorist.  And yet he is only one man.
OK, in order to deal with this growing crisis, WE, THE PEOPLE, have sent our Secretary of State (yearly salary $191,300) to Europe in order to DISCUSS the possibility and likelihood, the merit and impact of kicking Libya off the Human Rights Council.... say what?  Huh?
That's like saying "OK, you bad, bad man, Mr. Qadaffi!!  If you don't play nice, we're not going to let you sit on the Christmas decorating committee!!"

Muammar must be crying into this pillow every night over the possibility of a bunch of people he doesn't even know in an organization he doesn't even care about kicking off of a decorating committee for a holiday he doesn't even celebrate.  Geesh!! When will our own brand of madness be replaced with a little common sense?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sample Sunday ~ Tempo Rubato

This little scene is a conversation between the two main protagonists in Tempo Rubato ~ Stolen Time, now on sale at Amazon for Kindle for only $.99.  Also available from Smashwords.


“You really believe you were actually poisoned?”  She asked in disbelief even though she had written an entire paper to prove that it might have been so.
 “I don’t believe.  I know.”  He said.  “I received the letter.”
 “What letter?”  She asked though she had some idea of what he was talking about.
 “They were constructing a new building and according to the old ways, they needed to sacrifice a member in order to consecrate the building.”  He continued.  “Everyone knew that someone would be chosen. It was all supposed to be symbolic, of course.  No one would actually be killed.”
 “What?”  She shivered at the thought.  Again, this was part of the study she had made, but it sounded so much more sinister now than when it had been just a legend of sorts.
 “They sent the poison in a letter.”  He said.  “The letter congratulated me on having been chosen for the ‘special honor’.  The poison was in the letter.  By the time I had opened it, it was too late.”
 Elisse said nothing. 
 “I destroyed the letter; of course, because I was afraid someone else would be affected by the stuff.”  He told her.  “There was nothing that could be done.  I kept hoping it wasn’t so, but then I became ill and I never recovered.  Not until Frieda took me.  In fact, when the two men came, I assumed that they were from the group and that the time had come.  You can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be otherwise.  That’s why I never much minded what happened... until you came along.  I was a dead man and Frieda saved my life.”
 “You’ve never told Edward?”  She asked.
 “Of course not!”  William looked at her and smiled.  “He’s a member.  Didn’t you know?”
 “Then you really don’t trust him?”  She asked.
 “I trust Edward, but I don’t trust his loyalties.”  He shrugged.  “I am not sure where his loyalties will eventually lie.”
 “How do you know about Edward?”  She asked not wanting to accept that the good psychiatrist could be a threat.
 “One member knows another.”  William shrugged.  “There were others. Several in the orchestra.”
 “Did he ever say any thing at all about it?”
 “No.  And that is what makes me worry.”  He told her.  “Edward is no mucky-muck.  He doesn’t display the trappings.  He exhibits no outward signs.  That means he is advanced.  I have thought much about this.  I believe it is no accident that Edward is with me.  He was sent.”
 “But surely you are not a threat to this... this... group now!  Not two hundred years later!”  She exclaimed.  “Why?  How?”
 “Because I know their plan.”  He said simply.  “I was there when it was hatched.  You might say I was one of the founding fathers of it, although somewhat reluctantly.  But now, as then, I am a turncoat.  I am a risk.  Even now they cannot allow such risks to exist.”
 “Do you mean to tell me that you think they are still after you?”  She asked incredulously. “What could you possibly do to them?”
 “I only know that Edward is not what he seems. It’s a matter of principle.”  He said and then stopped to sit on an upturned bucket that had washed up on the shore.  He took off his shoes and socks and began to roll up his slacks.
 “What are you doing?”  She looked at him in surprise.
 “I’m going in the water.”  He told her.
 “Do you swim?”  She glanced around the beach.  They had left the line of apartments and condominiums behind.  There was nothing but beach, water and dunes to be seen.
 “No.”  He told her stuffing his socks in his shoes.
 “Would you like to learn?”  She asked and raised one eyebrow.
 “No.”  He looked up at her and narrowed his eyes.
 “We could go swimming.”  She suggested playfully and sat on the sand to take off her shoes.
 “We would get wet.”  He told her, frowning.
 “Of course.”
 He watched her as she began to undress, laying her clothing carefully on the sand.
 “What are you doing?!”  He asked.  It was his turn to be surprised.  “You can’t do that.”
 “Why not?”  She waved one arm toward the dunes.  “Who’s to see?”
 “Well...”  He looked around and then back at her wide-eyed.
 She finished her task while he sat speechless holding his shoes in his hands.
 When she had her ‘swimsuit’ on, she tiptoed down the water and waded out on the gently sloping shore until the water was lapping at her waist and then ducked beneath the waves.  It was wonderfully warm and all thoughts of Edward disappeared along with the rest of the troubling thoughts that had been plaguing them.  She didn’t want to hear any more about secret societies just then.  It would be just what they needed, another faction out to get him.
 William sat on the bucket unmoving.  She waved and beckoned for him to come in.  He shook his head and looked around again.
 “You’re missing all the fun!”  She called to him and he stood up.
 At last, she had him on the short end of the stick.  It was wonderful to see him perplexed and taken aback by her actions.  He had always been in control even when it seemed he was not.  She had felt as if she were on the outside looking in and that he held all the cards;  that she could never express her own personality without interfering with his.  But now he was lost.  She had been in his element long enough and now she had him in hers.
 She wondered if he would take the challenge and follow her for a change or if his antiquated sense of propriety would win out.  She laughed and waved at him again and ducked under the water to come up with her hair wet and streaming down her back.
 He pulled off his shirt.  Then he made a motion for her to turn around.  She turned around and waited.  After a few minutes he caught up with her.
 “I have never been in so much water!”  He exclaimed looking around him.  “It makes me feel very small.”
 “We are very small.”  She put her arm around his neck and allowed him to hold her up in the water.  “We are so small, in fact, that no one can see us.  We can’t be found.  We are lost in the vastness of the sea.  Never to be seen again by human eyes.”
 William sank to his knees and the water came up to their necks.
 “Now we are even smaller.”  He told her.  “But I believe there are creatures in these waters which could easily swallow us altogether whole without even tasting us.”
 “There are creatures on the land that would do the same thing, if we let them catch us.”  She laughed and slipped into the water to face him.  She kissed him and he looked at her in surprise.
 “So this is what Americans do?”  He asked her.
 “No, this is what tiny sea creatures from Austria do.”  She told him.  “Now turn around and lie across my arms.  I’m going to hold you up and you are going to swim.”
 “No, I don’t think so.”  He shook his head.  “It would not be... fitting.”
 “What?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.” She said taking his arm.  “I’m going to hold you up and show you how to kick your feet so you can stay up on your own.  You never know when you may need to swim for your life.”
 “But you’re a lady and I’m... I’m...”  He was genuinely perplexed. “You shouldn’t hold me up.”
 “You won’t be heavy at all!”  She frowned and ducked under the water to grab his feet, upending him with very little effort.  She thought it highly unlikely that he had ever played in the water, but did not know for sure.  At least nothing had ever been written about it. 
 He came up sputtering with his hair in his face.
 “You’ve just never been in the water with a naked lady before!”  She laughed at his expression.
 “What did I tell you about saying never, Lisserl?”  He asked and ducked under the water to grab her feet performing the same trick.
 It was her turn to be surprised.  She came up spraying water in his face and slinging her hair.
 “There was plenty of water in Vienna... and Rome... and Paris...”  He told her.  “Why, they even have water in England, but you are right about one thing.  I have never been in the water with a naked lady.”
 He began to chase her through the water splashing and ducking her as if he had done it all his life.  This lasted only a short time before the exertion took its toll and they were both feeling exhaustion creeping up on them again.  The first gray light preceding the inevitable sunrise began to grow in the east.  Elisse knew they could not stay much longer or they would be taking a terrible risk.  She held him at bay by wrapping both of her arms around him and they sank in the water.
 “Do you think we could come here to live?”  He asked her.
 “I suppose anything is possible.”  She said in earnest.
 “Do you think we could stay here now?”  He asked and kissed her neck.
 “I don’t know.”  She thought that would probably not be possible.
 “Do you think we will ever be rid of Edward?”  He asked and kissed her eyes.
 “I don’t know.”  She could not think of William without attaching Edward.
 “Do you think you will want to stay with me forever?”  He asked and kissed her forehead.
 “Forever is a long time.”  She told him.
 “Do you think that whatever is biting my toe could be deadly?” He asked and raised both eyebrows.
 “What?”  She looked down at the dark water surrounding them.
 He laughed.
 “You know that there is more to life than just holding onto each other.”  She said running her finger down his neck.  “We may not be allowed to stay together.”
 “I won’t have it any other way.”  He told her matter-of-factly.  “I’ve been giving that some thought.  I won’t have it.”
 “I don’t see how you can prevent it.” 
 “I will find a way.”  He assured her and kissed her almost desperately and released her.  “Edward and the rest of them be damned.  I don’t give one good care about their secrets and their plans and their science.  They brought me here and I didn’t ask to come.  If you will stay with me, I’ll find a way to keep you.”
 “I have no intention of leaving of my own accord.”  She told him. 
 “I have heard him professing his love for you twice now.” He told her.  She was surprised to hear that and could not imagine when he might have heard the second time. Could he actually read aloud and listen at the same time? “He may have a lot to offer you.”
 “He has nothing I want.”  She shrugged and then shivered.  The breeze had picked up and her skin was becoming cold.
 “This could be very nice, it we had more time.”  He told her and kissed her nose.
 “We’ll have to do it again.”  She agreed.
 “We could do it again now.” He suggested and looked around her at the growing light on the horizon.  He kissed her and pulled her into his lap, but a low whistle caught his attention and he immediately dumped her in the water.  She foundered and came up to see him frowning toward the shoreline where someone was whistling to them. 
 “Oh, my God.”  Elisse whispered and clung to him in the water.  Edward stood on the sand holding up several pieces of their clothing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oh yeah? Well, I have a gun!

I just heard a news report about a guy who walked into a pharmacy and demanded drugs. He said "I have a bomb!" to which the pharmacist replied "I have a gun!" The would be robber left.

Immediately, I thought what if?

A man walks into a bank and says to the teller "Give me all your money. I have a rock!"

To which she replies "Oh, yeah? Well, I have paper!"

To which he replies "Oh, yeah? Well, I have scissors!" He lays the rock on the counter.

To which she replies "Oh, yeah? Well, I have a rock!" And then she grabs the rock, bashes him over the head and sounds the alarm.

What is it with criminals these days? No, no! What is it with people these days? It seems that incompetence reigns supreme from the top to the bottom of society. Imagine a would-be criminal putting up his/her resume on Monster, looking for a job as a robber. Now, the potential employee is sitting back, waiting for the job offers to roll in. But nooooooo, this applicant receives a terse email from Monster stating that there are currently no openings that match their qualifications. These people are not even qualified to be CRIMINALS.

Believe me when I say that this is not far from the truth. If you don't believe me, watch a few episodes of "World's Dumbest Criminals". I have met one of the people portrayed on the series... I believe I've met examples of everyone of them at one time or another during my career as a prison official.

Just an afterthought: You think criminals are dumb? You've heard jokes about them? Yes, but to what do we attribute this?

In a popular grocery store yesterday I saw a tag under a shelf of canned soups:

2 for $4.00 or $1.78 a can

Today I received a flyer in the mail from the same store and an ad read:

5 for $5 Chicken Breast (limit 2 packages with an additional purchase of $10.00)

So, it is no wonder the teachers are on strike in Wisconsin. They need more money so they can teach less to more students for more money than would-be criminals can ever steal unless they go to work writing ads for supermarkets.... well, duh!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two Questions...

Question 1: Why is it that the computer I am working on always acts goofy?
I have four computers in my house. Three are hooked up with internet connections. It doesn't seem to matter which one I sit down I choose to work on, it always acts up. Invariably, I will spend some 2-3 hours fighting with malware removers, virus scans, updates, restarts, you name, just to get the thing going again. And these are not old computers. They are fairly decent, well-maintained and very orderly systems. I know that it is the computer I am working on because eventually, I will overcome its problems, but in the meantime, if someone else is working one of the others, I will ask "Are you able to post or are you able to open this or that?" and they will answer "No problem here!" "Mine is working! Did you try to restart? Did you run a malware scan? Did you update? Did you brush your teeth? Did you fix lunch? Are you getting up soon? Would bring me a sammich? Did you see the free multi-billion dollar giveaway for anyone named Brendan Carroll on Facebook? It expired ten minutes ago!"

Question 2: What is sexy about this image? Of course, I know he doesn't appeal to me because I am strictly interested in vampires of the female race. But this was one of the most popular versions of Vlad ever. He looks nothing at all like the Twilight fellow, but in comparison, I think I would take this one over that one because that one is stuck in high school forever and I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the price of sending a kid to high school has sky-rocketed. Personally, I would rather be associated with the older fellow simply out of economic concerns. If anyone thinks our man above is sexier than our man below, please let me know.

Composite Edition: The Knight of Death and The King of Terrors

By tomorrow at this time, I hope to be able to offer my latest publication: The Red Cross of Gold I & II at Amazon Kindle for only $3.99 for both books. This is a savings of $2.00 off the price of buying them separately. Here is a preview of the book cover as it will appear when the Amazon meatgrinder spits it out. I'll be back with the link ASAP.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13 Sample Sunday: Assassin Chronicles

This excerpt is a small section of The Red Cross of Gold IX:. The Queen of the Abyss wherein the Chevalier du Morte is trying to stave off the dragon and her minions in the underworld after having been disenchanted with the way things were going in the overworld, but a previous injury will not heal and is getting the best of him in spite of his magickal abilities.

Elizabeth’s soft shoes slapped the stone floor of the great corridor as she hurried down the hall carrying a guttering silver candlestick in her hand. Another terrifying scream echoed through the empty passage around her and made her shudder through and through. These things were happening more and more frequently now and they were worse every time. She pushed open the heavy wooden door and rushed around the bed where she set the candlestick on the bedside table before she drew back the dark velvet draperies surrounding the bed.

“Mark Andrew!” she shouted at the man who thrashed uncontrollably in the tangled bed linens.

He could not hear her. He was having another of his fits. Kicking and screaming and clutching his stomach first and then his head as great pains and convulsions wracked his body. Sweat gleamed on his skin in the light of the candle. The young woman ran from the room and back down the hall to the head of the stairs.

“Hurry! Hurry!” she shouted to the two men who came rushing up the wide steps toward her.

The two Knights passed her without a word and she turned to follow after them as they headed for his bedroom at breakneck pace.

Sir Barry was first through the door and literally flung himself onto the bed to hold the ailing man down. Guy de Lyons skirted the foot of the bed and grabbed hold of his kicking feet. Barry sat back on his stomach, pushed Mark’s arms forcefully against the carved headboard and then quickly wrapped his wrists with a braided cord suspended there for just such a purpose. He remained sitting on the Knight’s stomach as he held up the small bottle he had retrieved from his pocket. The screaming was almost constant now. They had never seen it this bad before. The Knight of the Baldric was almost bucked completely off before he could remove the cap and take a tiny bit of the precious liquid on his right middle finger.

He leaned over the Knight and crushed him bodily as he fought to hold his head still long enough to make a cross on his forehead.

The fit lasted another several seconds before gradually subsiding, while Elizabeth fell back against the wall, watching in horror. How could he possibly survive these things much longer?

Armand de Bleu stumbled into the room sleepily and came around the bed.

“Where have you been?!” Barry shouted at the younger Knight.

Armand shot a dark look at his Brother and fell to his knees beside the bed and began to repeat the prayer Mark Andrew had taught him. As the prayer drew to a close, Barry released his hold on Mark Andrew and backed off the bed to stand breathlessly by Sir de Lyons.

“That was very close,” Sir Barry grumbled and turned to look at the woman. “Where were you?!”

“I went to…” She faltered and then stopped. These men frightened her. “He sent me for some wine,” she said quickly. “I never made it down stairs.”

“Just call me next time,” Barry told her gruffly and then bent over the bed to slap Mark’s face.

Mark Andrew opened his eyes slowly to look up at the worried face of his Master at Arms.

“Get the horses!” he told them in a hoarse voice. “Bring the horses. We have to go… now.”

“You need to rest a bit first, your Grace,” Barry objected and shook his head as he untied the king’s wrists.

“Make the horses ready and wait for me. Give me an hour,” Mark Andrew relented and pushed himself up in the bed, kicking at the tangled bed linens. Elizabeth dragged them to the floor.

Sir Barry of Sussex, Knight of the Baldric, snorted his disapproval and then turned to leave the room.

Guy de Lyons, Knight of the Sword and Armand de Bleu, Knight of the Throne, trailed after him, muttering to each other about his condition and the hour and the idea of going anywhere at this time of night.

Elizabeth approached the bedside and held one hand out toward his face. He closed his eyes briefly, but she did not touch him.

“I don’t have much time,” he said when he looked up into her dark green eyes.

“I know,” she nodded. “I’ll make you a bath.”

Mark Andrew sighed and stood up slowly, holding onto the tall bedpost for support.

“Thot wud be good, lassie,” he sighed and looked down at his damp clothes and shook his head. The silver earrings jangled in his hair. At least he would be able to spend a bit of time with her before they left. He had no idea what they would find when they went out. He had been putting it off too long and now he would have to go and take his chances.

Elizabeth came back shortly and stood watching him as he pulled fresh clothes from a big, iron-bound trunk.

“Will you take me with you?” she asked hopefully.

“If you… Yes!” he nodded his head vigorously. “I will. It may help our cause.”

“I love you, Mark Andrew!” she said brightly and then hurried away to prepare the bath. The bath was the only place they had together. And their time together seemed to be growing shorter and between each of these episodes wherein she thought she would lose him and if that happened… what would happen to her?

He watched her go and then set about finding his weapons and armor in the dimly lit room. Only an low-burning oil lamp on one of the tables provided any light. But the gray panes in the window showed the sun would be rising in the east, away across the ocean below the cliff. He could smell the scent of vanilla issuing from the arched doorway that led into the ‘bathroom’. It was not a modern bathroom with all the amenities, but it was the best he could do in this place with no plumbing and no electricity. Not bad work for an alchemist. He had built many baths, but they usually sat on lab tables and were not made of stone. He was thankful it never got cold here. But then… it never changed here. Perpetual summer. Midsummer, in fact. Yes, and now it was true summer even in the overworld. He calculated the days in his head. Summer or at least very close to the first day of summer, no doubt. Midsummer’s Eve they called it. If it was the first day of summer, then why call it Mid-summer? If things were just a bit different…

He took off his damp clothes and threw them on the floor. Someone or something would take care of them for him and he would find them clean and carefully folded in his trunk the next time he needed them. Elizabeth called to him from the bathroom and he tip-toed across the cold stone floor.

Six mounted Knights waited for him an hour and a half later when he emerged from the front doors of the keep and hurried down the wide stone steps to meet them. Elizabeth followed close behind him and received six disapproving glances as she waited on the cobbles for him to make room for her behind him on the back of the black horse. She wore her finest dress and all her gold and silver at his request. She certainly looked the part of his Queen. He said nothing to the men who waited on him and simply reined the big horse around and galloped away to the south, toward the caves with them following after him. Their mantels fluttered behind them in the moonlight as they rode along. Chain mail jangled and their swords and weapons clanked as they rode single file toward an unknown destination. They wouldn’t know where they were going until they got there and each one wondered why he was taking the girl with him this time. He’d never taken her before. The sun was rising in the east and the gulls and terns were beginning to make their daily racket on the sea cliff behind them and to the right as they entered the shadowy forest. By the time they left the trees for the open plain again, they had collected a host of faery creatures, following them on both flanks and in the rear.


Chapter Two of Seventeen

that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good

“Planxty Grine!” Merry began again as she scrubbed at her apprentice’s face with a damp cloth. He was smudged black and green. “How many times do I have to tell you. One drop! One drop. You cannot hurry the sublimation with a hotter fire and you cannot make a hotter fire with more yellow.”

“But, Master…” Planxty’s grimy, freckled face was too comical for her to scold him as thoroughly as she should have. “I did only use one drop! It was not the yellow. It was the oven door. I forgot to open the door and the blast erupted upwards instead of being expelled from the side. I was unprepared.”

“Then you were leaning over the vent,” she scolded him anew. “I told you never to lean over the vent!”

“I know,” he pouted slightly. “But I think I have the hang of it now. I would like to…”

“You would like to go on now and get a shower and change clothes. It’s almost time for the banquet to start. Now, go on.” She pulled him up off the floor and then surveyed the mess on the counter. “I’ll straighten this up and then I’ll have to go change. You can clean it up tomorrow.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Planxty murmured and looked disappointed.

He loved to work with all the arcane equipment in the lab. She hardly had the heart to tell him that, if things ever got straightened out, she would not be the Alchemist anymore and that he would be expected to learn the Wisdom of Solomon instead. A shudder ran up her spine at the thought of Planxty Grine wielding the magick of King Solomon and then she smiled wanly at the memory of Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer’s apprentice and all the brooms trying to empty the flooding laboratory in Fantasia. It would be a challenge and one she would gladly have tackled if only Mark Andrew would come home again. She could not believe that she had lost him for the third time and working in his lab with his beloved equipment made her feel like crying every time she thought of him, but she had cried so much over the past several years, she could hardly have found more tears.

Simon had gone and gotten married almost immediately after Mark Andrew’s disappearance and she still didn’t know how he had met Rachel. Lucio had waited around a bit. For what, she didn’t know. She thought perhaps that he might have been waiting for her to ask him to move back to Scotland with her, but she hadn’t and he hadn’t pursued it. He had come often to visit Marco and had brought Lucia to see her, but they had never really had any serious discussions, arguments or even deep conversations about anything since Mark Andrew had simply ridden away in the middle of the night.

Lucio had seemed almost as devastated as she had been when it became obvious that Mark was not coming back. They had both lost a Brother. She had lost the love of her life and he had lost his surrogate father and his best friend. Ramsay had practically raised him from the age of fourteen or so. Dambretti had idolized Ramsay and practically worshipped him as his apprentice and then called him Brother of the Order for almost a thousand years. Certainly his grief was no less heartfelt than hers, regardless of the strained relationship between the three of them for the past fifty years, give or take a few years. Now Lucio was a newly wed and Seneschal for the Order of the Red Cross of Gold and would be returning to Italy to resume the duties of that Office again after a short respite granted for his wedding and brief honeymoon.

“Jasmine!” she whispered the name aloud. She glanced at her watch. Surely they had arrived by now and she had missed them. What a great hostess she was and Lucia, her daughter, would be coming with him. She hadn’t seen Marco’s twin sister in three months!

Planxty! Damn it! She made sure the furnace was cold and all danger had passed before she hurried up the stairs to the kitchen and then on to the second floor to her bedroom to clean up and change clothes. She glanced out the window into the back yard. The caterers were lighting the patio torches and the stringed paper lanterns hanging about the tables already glowed with festive orange lights. She could see the Grand Master sitting with the Ritter at the main table and William Montague leaning across the table, speaking with him. Simon and Rachel were still at the pit, sitting in yard chairs, staring intently into the yawning black opening at something Louis Champlain was fighting with on the grill. Simon held one of his younger sons on his shoulder, while his wife bounced the baby on her knee. A tall, elegantly dressed woman was trying to help Louis with whatever it was that was giving him trouble.

She could hear the woman’s laughter and see Louis’ discomfiture. Mrs. Dambretti, no doubt. But where was Lucio? She didn’t see him anywhere. Turk, the old cook, was standing back with his big, muscular arms folded across his chest, shaking his head in apparent disgust, a watering bucket near his feet, ready to extinguish any flaming children or guests if necessary. The other young d’Ornans were chasing about the patio wreaking havoc on everything within reach. The older children were weaving in and out the tables, chasing each other with party horns and squeakers.

She turned away from the window and almost screamed at the sight of the Italian standing in the open doorway looking at her with his arms folded over his chest.

“Lucio!” she said and pressed one hand over her heart.

“Sister,” he said and flashed his winning smile briefly before crossing the room to give her the Templar kiss.

“What are you doing up here?” she asked and looked about as if she were lost.

“Louis told me that you don’t eat,” he said. “Simon told me that you don’t sleep. Konrad said that you spend all your time cooped up in our Brother’s dungeon, smelling fumes and making decoctions all day. You are a bag of nerves, Merry. You look awful. Did you know that?”

“I’ll have you know that Planxty Grine blew up the laboratory again and I had to clean it up… not to mention, clean him up as well!” she said defensively. “Did you come up here to insult me, Brother?”

“No. I came to say hello and see how you were doing for myself,” he told her and backed away as she began to tear about the room looking for the clothes she intended to wear. “I had thought you might come down to meet my beloved wife.”

“I am coming down to meet Jasmine!” she snapped. “Surely you don’t want me to come down like this?" She pulled out the hem of the smudged white blouse and looked at him incredulously from an equally smudged face.

“I’m sorry. You are always beautiful to me, Meredith. No matter what you are wearing or how filthy you are,” he told her in all seriousness.

“Gee, thanks. Graci, Signor.” She found the dress she was looking for and began to push him from the room. “Now go and see to your new bride before she finds you up here in my bedroom. Not wise, Golden Eagle. Not wise at all.”

Lucio kicked the door shut behind him and took her in his arms, pulling her close, kissing her as if they were the newlyweds, even against all her protests until she stopped beating on him and returned the kiss sincerely.

“Merry," he said softly into her hair as he pressed her head against his shoulder and began to cry. “I know you miss Mark Andrew and so do I, but you have to come to grips with the fact that he may not return this time. I know he always came back before, but…”

“Lucio, stop…” Merry had managed not to cry in several weeks, but this was too much. Tears ran down her face and she became angry with him for causing it. “Please. Just go down stairs. I’ll be fine. Just leave me alone a bit and tell Jasmine that I’m sorry I missed her arrival. OK?”

Lucio let go of her and then opened the door.

“There’s one other thing, Sister.” He looked back at her. “Jasmine is… not like you. Not like you at all. I hope you won’t be too mad at me for marrying her.”

“Mad at you?" She frowned at him. “Why should I be mad at you? I don’t blame you for getting married again, Lucio. And if you think I’m jealous…”

“No, no. Not jealous. Just mad,” he said and looked confused. “She’s just... not like you. Not like you at all. I didn’t mean to find someone so different. I mean I wanted to apologize to you for…”

“OK, OK,” Merry nodded. “OK. So she’s not like me. Fine. Rachel is not like me either. That’s good. It wouldn’t do for a bunch of me’s to be wandering around in close proximity to me, now, would it?”

“I guess you have a point. I’ll see you downstairs, Sister,” he said, smiled again and pulled the door closed gently between them.

Merry burst into a flood of tears and rushed into the bathroom, slamming the door with a resounding boom.

How could he have married this woman? An outsider. She knew he still loved her and she still loved him and even if they could never be together, at least they had Paris… She frowned at herself in the mirror and began to laugh hysterically. Without thinking, she rearranged a vase of fresh flowers on the vanity.

Vampires and the Truth Thereof...

In truth vampires are simply a remake of the quintessential bad boy represented by any number of men (and women)over the past few decades. Characters played by Clint Eastwood, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, just to name a few, have struck a chord deep in the hearts and minds of both men and women. Stories about the sometimes naughty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes erotic adventures of other people have always caught the attention of the audience whether they be tribal people listening to the clan storyteller around a hearth fire or a group of giggling teenyboppers in an Imax theater. These characters give color, depth and adventure to even the most boring life and replace the imaginations of those totally without imaginative powers of their own. For those endowed with imaginations, the possibilities and variations on a theme are endless and trail off into infinity like images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
The never-ending stream of vampire centered literature gives credence to the idea that too much is not enough when it comes to vampiric tales.
Lately, I have noticed that the world of vampire characters has evolved to such an extent that we have have developed distinct divisions amongst the vampire fans currently devouring books about their favorite bad guys and gals like mini-blackholes. We have "Twilight" Vampires that sparkle in direct sunlight instead of burning to cinders. We have what I call "Retro" Vampires that are allergic to garlic, sizzle in sunlight and can't be seen in mirrors. These are elegantly attired, handsome fellows or beautiful ladies, with perfect hair and makeup and a hunger for 'real love' in addition to a lust for blood. Then we have the "Traditional" Vampires who are a bit naughty, somewhat glamorous and just plain wanton and power-hungry. These fight each other for supremacy and have rules and societies like "Underworld" and "Lestat".
Last, we have a developing reversion to the "Old School" Vampires. Ugly, horrible, wretched creatures with only a thirst for blood driving them.
Personal, I think that they are all pretty interesting and worth exploring. I'm rather skeptical of the vampire/werewolf combos. Just can't see that happening.
It is very difficult at this stage in the vampire games to come up with new and original slants on the vampire angle, but I did give it a try in my series. Some very interesting things come to light in Book XXII about the blood-drinking idea. I mean, I have everything else in the Assassin Chronicle Series, why not a couple of vampires?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What is it about Zombies...

...that people love? I recently watched a movie called "Zombieland". It was hilarious. I laughed out loud several times and was amazed that I enjoyed the ridiculous production. Surely, it was the humor, the actors' performances, (Bill Murray), and the utter foolishness that made it worthwhile. I felt the same way about "Super Troopers". Ridiculous, gutter humor that made me laugh and took me away from everything sane for a little while. There is a whole list of movies like these two: Police Squad, Airplane, Police Academy, Blues Brothers, Saturday the 14th, Scream.
But I'm not talking about those zombies. I'm talking about serious zombie movies. "The Living Dead"; "Resident Evil"; "Day of the Dead"; etc. Mutant disease runs rampant. People die, nasty corpses get reanimated, more people die, blood and gore get splattered, zombies get splattered, more people get infected, more zombies attack, more blood and gore, a handful of people escape. Same story, different scenery.
Just how many different ways can a zombie bite a person? How many different ways can a zombie be destroyed? How many zombies are there? How many zombie books can be written? Sold? Read? Re-read?
I thought of writing a zombie novel, but then thought that I would have to read a whole slough of current zombie novels in order to make sure that my zombies were different, hid in different places, made different noises, dressed differently and bit off body parts in novel ways that no other zombie novelist had thought of. After giving this some thought, I decided to stick with Templars... aha!
How many books about Templars can be written, you may ask. What do people like about Templars, etc? But my novels are not ABOUT Templars, it stars Templars in the modern age. Now there is a much smaller category.
The way I see it, if you are tired of zombies, read about Templers.