Saturday, December 28, 2013

Another Year, Another Book

Another Christmas has come and gone. Soon the new year will be upon us--2014. I marvel when I think how much has happened in my lifetime and how far I've come. Being born in the 50's has given me a great perspective on things. I've seen great Presidents and not great ones, witnessed wartime and peace, lived in prosperous times and survived the poor ones.  Some things have not changed.  Still married to the same wife of 40 years.  Have two great daughters. Kept a roof over my head and food on the table. For all this  I thank God.

I've decided to not to make any resolutions, but keep with the big plan. In 2014, I will publish another book, and began writing another. For 2014, the book will be Strigoi: The Blood Bond. This is my first vampire novel, although it's not another blood sucking story.  This one came to me while taking a walk one night in the Allegheny Mountains.  What if a vampire created a town, hidden in the hills where he kept and protected his subjects? They provided a constant blood supply for him and he infects them with his disease that allows them to live forever.  Enter into this world a new citizen of the town, who does not like the arrangement and wants out.

I changed the lore. My vampire is a shapeshifter. He has a reflection, but the mirror shows his true nature.  Sunlight does not destroy him but robs him of his powers.  Only fire or decapitation can kill him, and an iron stake through the heart immobilizes him. Buried in the tale is a murder mystery as someone is killing off residents of the village and its not the big guy in the mansion.

Looking forward to the next year. Happy new year to all!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh, Christmas Tree, how dangerous are your branches.

This week I give you an excerpt from Penelope and The Christmas Spirit. This one is where Penelope and her family get their first Christmas tree.
    When she reached him, he was standing with his eyes lifted toward the sky, staring at a fir tree that loomed ahead. “There it is. Our Christmas tree.”

    She tilted her head to take in its peak. “It’s big. Maybe too big.”

    “Time to get started.” Father dropped the saw as he surveyed the tree. With the coil of rope still slung over his shoulder, he vanished into its abundant foliage. A quiver moved up the branches. As he went higher, she caught glimpses of his red plaid coat and green Cossack hat. Near the top, he peeked out and waved.

    “If you fall and kill yourself,” she shouted, “Mother will be mad at you.”

    “No need to worry about me. Take the end of the rope.” He tossed it to her and secured the other end to the top of the tree.

    Branches bounced and jostled as he climbed back down. He reappeared at its base. “I want you to  pull on the rope when I say.” He took the saw and plunged back into the greenery.

    A rasping sound filled the air. Creak-whoosh-creak-whoosh. “Drats!”

    “Are you OK?” Penelope craned her neck to see through the branches.

    “It’s the saw. Too much rust. I should have sharpened and oiled it. Just remember to pull on my command.”

    “I will.” Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the rope.


    “Almost there.” he shouted. Creak-whoosh-creak-whoosh. “Pull, Penelope.”

    With the rope wrapped around her hands, she tugged with her body’s weight. “I’m pulling, Father.”

    “Well, pull harder.” Creak-whoosh-creak-whoosh. The saw’s rhythm intensified, and Father grunted with each push of the blade.

    “Are you pulling, dear?” he asked, out of breath.

    “Yes, Father.”

    “I don’t understand. It should be falling by now. Keep the rope taut.” He resumed sawing.

    Her feet dug in the thick of the forest floor. Her body listed forty-five degrees, supported only by the stretched rope.

    “I just don’t understand,” he said.


    The line slackened, and she nearly lost her footing.

    “Pull,” Father shouted.

    She strained against the rope as he scurried from the tree and to her side. He grabbed the loose end. “Together now.”


    The tree finally surrendered, and the rope went completely slack.

    “Run, Penelope, run,” he said as he sprinted away.

    Years of avoiding her parents’ advice left her watching the tree’s progress. Its dark image silhouetted against the crisp morning sky rushed toward her, whooshing around her as she dove to the ground. She closed her eyes and wondered what death was like.

    The air was devoid of sound. The pungent odor of tree permeated her senses. For the moment, it was a most pleasant experience. She must be in heaven, and it was pine scented.

    “Penelope?” Father’s voice was firm and calm. “Why didn’t you run?”

    Her heart raced as she recalled the moment. The thought of nearly being killed by a mammoth Christmas tree had taken her life to a new height, if for a brief moment. She had stood her ground, or rather lay on it, and survived.

    She composed an answer for Father. “The artistic moment of the tree framed against the sky was too inspiring. It reminded me of something Henry Thoreau, the philosopher, had once said, but that moment passed, and I don’t remember what he said now.”

    “If you are finished being inspired, would you mind coming out of there.”

    She surveyed the surroundings. Every branch and limb had missed her, some by only inches. Pine needles stuck out everywhere on her coat. She ran her fingers over her head, finding more of the green slivers attached to her stocking hat.

    Orienting herself on her hands and knees, she began the process of crawling out, which was difficult because of the coat’s length. As she weaved between the tree limbs and pine verdure, she spied jagged edges of light and Father’s legs.

    He made a small sigh as she left her woodland shelter. “You should have followed me.”

    “You won’t tell Mother, will you?”

    “Under the circumstances, it is best for us both that she does not know.”