Sunday, June 28, 2009

The origin of Templar's Fire, a Gothic Vampire Novel

When I began writing the story Templar‘s Fire, a Gothic Vampire novel, I started with an image that stuck in my head. I kept seeing this eerie looking guy hiding behind a stone altar peering around the corner as if he was waiting to attack someone. Didn’t know why, but the picture stayed with me.

Since my interests at the time were in researching the Knights Templar due to a Templar ancestor who died while fighting alongside them (in Egypt of course), that eerie guy transformed into an ex-Templar.

Before all of this, I had worked on science fiction stories, with an occasional horror tossed in and really wanted to write a vampire story. However, I wanted my vampire to be closer to the classic style vampire and I wanted him as close to invincible as possible. Since the Knights Templar allegedly knew dark magic, I decided that the Vampire Edwin Blutleer needed those skills.

By then, I had begun writing his tale and knew that he was the guy looking from behind that stone altar. I placed the altar in a fictitious old church in Cornwall, England not far from where an actual Templar church still stands. Who but a vicar would be entering the church early in the morning? The confrontation was set, and I let the characters guide me from there.

Download a copy here:
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Origin of Golf

Ian McAndrews walked his sheep deep into the meadows of 16th century Scotland. He was unhappy with his flock's appearance. Their once lustrous coats seemed dull and had a bad case of split ends.

Thinking some wild animals hid amongst the thistle, thereby terrorizing his docile lambs, he went out at dawn with a McDonald style walking stick ready to defend himself and his sheep.

Now, a McDonald style walking stick is a cane really, carved to look like a long flat snake with a crook below the head where a man might clasp it. Otherwise, the shaft is bent and twisted several times ending with a fine point suitable for stabbing, should the need arise. The top is the shape of a flat-surfaced knob about the size of a small boy's fist.

As the pale yellow sun lazily rolled over the horizon, Ian McAndrews felt shocked by his discovery. The meadow, his meadow appeared dotted by the most curious white mushrooms he had ever seen. They outnumbered the thistle three to one and that's saying something.

When Ian McAndrews spied his sheep bobbing their shaggy heads as they devoured the offending Disambiguation, his eyes grew wider. For all he knew, they were slowly poisoning or intoxicating his herd, his livelihood.

After a sharp whistle brought his Sheepdogs running, he watched as they corralled his flock into a safe cluster away from the heaviest concentration of mushrooms.

Satisfied with the result, he went to the closest mushroom and whacked it with the pointed end of his McDonald cane. The outcome was dissatisfying. Ian McAndrews was a man for whom outcome was everything so he flipped the cane in the air, snatching it by grabbing the point end and took a mighty two-handed swing at the aberrant mushroom.

The head of the McDonald's cane cut into the top of the stem and sent the round mushroom head fifty feet away from where he stood. With a loud victorious laugh, Ian proceeded to the next one and the one after that.

In the meantime, his shepherd neighbor Patrick McDougal, heard his shouting, and hurried out -- kilt flying behind him like a deflated sail-- to learn if his oldest friend might be in trouble. When he saw Ian knock the head of yet another mushroom, he was shocked, and then decided he might as well just join in and assist his neighbor in clearing the land.

By noon, the men were wagering to see which of them might drive the round white heads the farthest.

Moreover, within two days, men from the nearest village began gathering to have a hand at it, or to bet on who would prove to be the best driver, as shepherds were sometimes called.

Unfortunately, within three weeks, the dry season dropped on them like a draught, and the mushrooms disappeared. However, it could never be said,that Ian McAndrews was not an innovator.

He and his neighbor Patrick worked through the summer until they created a small white ball about the size of the mushroom head. Although, since one of Ian's complaints regarding the mushroom was that it smashed on the first blow, they made their balls firmer, with a nice snug cowhide covering.

Getting their wives to stitch the skin over their balls took some doing, but bribery was not outside the realm of Ian's skills. A little imported French wine, and the best Highland Scotch Whiskey, a few well-placed kisses and caresses, and voilá, their balls were finished. (Sic)

The following autumn, after the shearing, slaughtering, and selling, Ian and Patrick organized the very first round of golf; called a round because they needed to walk around the stream where the now famous footbridge crosses at Saint Andrews to collect the balls accidentally driven over the waterway.

And where did the name Golf originate? They mimicked the sound that the head of the McDonald's cane made when it solidly contacted the first spring mushroom. Originally pronounced "Guf" with a Highland accent.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Excerpt from Templar's Fire, a Gothic Vampire Novel

Quiet footfalls traced a path up the steps from the downstairs sitting room, along the abbreviated hallway, and into the Vicar's bedroom. The nearer to the bed they got, the more softly they fell.

Slowly becoming aware of the intruder, he struggled to gather the remnants of his composure. He felt movement on his bed. The vicar sat up violently, tears still wetting his face. He fumbled for the candle on the small table next to the bed. And although only seconds had passed, the vicar felt the dread of one expecting to meet death before the next breath. His hand quaked and he knocked the candle on the floor.

Fingers lightly brushed his arm. He heard himself shout, "No. Not yet.” He held his breath, now afraid exhaling would be the signal, and waited for the end.

The hand on his arm patted him too softly for it to belong to Blutleer. Willington still held his breath. Slowly, he started to black out.

Mary timidly called, "Peter?”

The vicar sucked air noisily. “My God, Mary, you frightened me beyond words.”

“I'm sorry if I did. I felt so alone and heard you moving about. I thought maybe we could talk, or something ...”

The vicar kicked off the blanket and swung his legs over the side of the bed as he moved to get the candle from the floor. Before he finished he felt a tug on his nightshirt.

“Do we need candlelight?” Mary whispered. “Isn't the moon's light enough, Peter?”

The vicar turned to her, reached out, and touched her warmth. Mary had worn a light cotton nightgown. He watched her rise from the bed, walk to the window and he gasped as she opened the curtain. The moonlight silhouetted her, penetrated the gown, and illuminated a shadow within its embrace. As she walked to him, the gown both hid and revealed her youthful figure.

“Please, Mary. You don't understand what you're doing.” His words sounded feeble, and he knew it.

Mary did not immediately respond. She continued to walk to him and stopped when she stood very close, knees touching his knees. Her hands found the edge of her nightdress and very slowly began lifting.

“No,” The vicar said, weakly and too late. His eyes took control and coaxed the rest of him to follow their lead. He felt his heart rate increase. His breathing became shallow. No longer resisting, his hands reached for her as the nightgown cleared her shoulders. His fingers moved and traced the lines of her collarbones then down gently etching her sensitive flesh.

“I want to lay with you.” Mary's words slid out to caress him. She lifted the cotton sheath over her head and reached to drop it on the mattress. The night air shimmered on her flesh with a gentleness that matched Willington's touch.

His stare followed her hand as she let the gown fall on the bed and lifted both slender arms overhead. His eyes, fully accustomed to the darkness, examined all the details her movement brought to his attention, the swell of her round breasts, her hips, and the flatness of her stomach and the vee tuft of red hair between her thighs. His hands slid down from her breasts to her hips. Her skin was warm responsive silk.

He groaned as a light caught his eyes.

The gold medallion he had hung on the doorknob sparkled with illumination that seemed to spring from within the Willington coat of arms. He stared, transfixed, as the illumination concentrated into a thin beam, shot across the room, and bounced off the crucifix he had hung above the bed. The thin ray lit only the head of his Savior. Looking over his shoulder, the vicar ignored Mary.

The Messiah cried red tears.

“Oh, good Lord. No.” The vicar pushed Mary from him, his hands on her breasts. “I can't do this now. God help me, I can't.” He looked at her and back at the cross. The light had expanded and he saw the droplets run down the tiny body. They dripped from the crossed feet onto the headboard, and then splashed against his pillow.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Combat Memories Shape Life

We never know when to expect them, if they'll haunt, hinder or aid us, but memories from combat never disappear.

* * *

The fire still blazed, but standing directly before the hearth was insufficient to warm me. Again, I rubbed my hands on the seams of my blue jeans, but that wasn’t enough to get the feel of her off my flesh. After washing up, I changed into clean clothes.

Stella waited by the fireplace, came over when I approached, and stood behind me, put her arms around my chest, and held me as if I was more important to her than any other man alive could be.

I wanted to suggest that she make a more appropriate selection, that I just might be the man who would live to bury her. However, I drew a deep breath, held in the air, exhaled slowly, put my hands on hers and closed my eyes. I felt as if I'd experienced more than one lifetime's horror.

Death is the ultimate test of faith, I thought and wondered why I remembered my CO at that moment. Captain James Todd Wright led with his presence. When the war began, he was an enlisted man from Savannah, Georgia. With time, diligence and due to extreme bravery, he quickly earned the rank of staff sergeant. After a string of catastrophic battles along the path through Europe to Germany, he became a field-commissioned lieutenant. By mid ’44, he was our company commander.

By then, I’d already fought with him for over a year and remained a friend despite the fact that I refused to climb into an officer’s uniform. I gained the rank of platoon sergeant, felt grateful I lived long enough to gain that honor, and never desired higher accolade. I would have been fine dying with three stripes sewn to my sleeves.

As the Battle of the Bulge ground our company into memories and remains we would never identify, Wright must have sensed the cloaked demon that caressed his neck as it accepted him.

We had hunkered down in a bomb crater running low on ammunition and hope. He turned to me during a lull and after we both lit cigarettes, said, "You know, Marlowe, my minister back home once stated in a Palm Sunday sermon that death is the ultimate test of faith. I think by now I’m ready for that test, how about you, my friend? Together, we've watched a lot of good men die."

"My faith ran dry a few months ago, sir," I said without revealing the surprise I felt, and cupped the ember of my cigarette to pull in a long drag of smoke without illuminating our location.

He laughed lightly. "That’s what I appreciate most about you, Marlowe. You never bullshit anyone for any reason. Hope you never change. I'm getting the ammo I see laying over there. We're both getting low." He pointed at a fallen GI and moved five feet to the right. His head crested the edge of the crater, and a German sharpshooter drilled a neat hole through the center of his forehead.

The fire snapped and a log rolled to the edge of the hearth. I moved Stella’s hands and used the brass tongs to place it back in the center of the flames.

This from Sunset Orange Water, the second Marlowe Black Mystery, seeking a publisher. Inquire within. :o)
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Something a little different - for Veterans and D-Day

Here is a link to a website where more than 1000 service members, military, police, and firefighters list their publications. These are the men and women who make it possible for us to enjoy freedom and a safe society.

You can start here and look around:

These are the men and women who have been, are and will be there for you at you time of need, and defend your freedom too. We aren't perfect, but we do our best.

Honor veterans, active duty military, the police and firefighters too. Where would you be today without their sacrifice? We are not too glamorous but we make a serious difference without the glamour headlines.

Something to think about.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

The vigilante assassin meets the vampire assassin

The vigilante assassin drove across the state reaching the Atlantic coast at 4 a.m. He had a mission assigned to him by superiors he never saw. They contacted him online using code he read in articles posted on The title of the article often relayed his target. If not, he searched for keywords in specific order as he scanned down the paragraphs knowing the first sentence of each held one of the words he sought to learn.

Once he finished the assignment, he notified them using the same method and they deposited his fee in his online account.

He slowed, tapping the brakes lightly, bringing his old Chevy pick-up under the speed limit. With one hand, he wiped black sweat-dampened hair off his forehead. After a quick glance, he rubbed his fingers on his jeans. Replacing the truck with a newer model that had working air conditioning would happen once his employer paid for his current job.

Turning left onto Ocean Avenue, he continued until he saw the fishing pier. It extended far into the ocean on spindle-like splayed legs that were cross-braced as if the decking above weighed more than engineers had designed the under-structure to hold.

He parked and switched off the engine, the lights, released his harness and popped open the glove compartment. From within it, he removed a small cardboard box that he had picked up four hours earlier, from a locker at a bus depot in the state capital. The day before, he had received the key from the mail sent to a post office box registered to a local Baptist church.

Now, with the box balanced on the girth of his large stomach, he opened it and removed the .32 caliper handgun, checked the load, jammed the gun beneath his belt at his back.

He heaved his 290 pounds from the S-10, groaned as he straightened, and silently closed the door by leaning against it. The door handle pressed just below his shoulder blades.

He smelled salt air and heard breakers pounding the white sand beaches. In the distance, he heard laughter, voices of people sitting on balconies as if still partying, reluctant to sleep.

His steps were light for such a big man. He strode quickly onto the pier and saw one person standing at the far end, fishing. He smiled grimly, knowing the report from the handgun would be loud, echoing across the water and down the beach to the rows of hotels where the partygoers would hear it and call the police.

However, fear would not deter him. Success of the mission counted for more than his own life.

As he neared his target, he saw the man turn to him. An overhead light illuminated his eerie pale face. For the first time since choosing his role as assassin, he hesitated, unable to do more than stare at the face before him, the white priest's collar around the man's thickly muscled neck.

"What is your name, son?" the man asked him in a voice free of concern.

"You do not need to know my name, priest." He stopped walking, knowing he was too far for an accurate shot.

"Every condemned man has the right to know the name of his accuser."

"I did not accuse you. I act only as God's wrath."

"You are here to act out the results of the accusation made against me by your church fathers who condemn those who disobey. That, son, makes you an extension of the accuser. So again, I ask, what is your name?"

He raised the gun, centered the barrel on the man's chest, and pulled the trigger.

As he did, his victim flinched and dodged to the right. The bullet missed and lodged in the wood railing at the end of the pier.

He swung his arm to follow his target, and concentrated on succeeding, so missed his adversary moving as the man flipped back the tail of his black jacket, and lifted a long barrel .44 magnum from a holster clipped at the small of his back.

He fired the .32 again, missed, and then saw the huge handgun as his adversary grasped it with both hands, aimed, and pulled the trigger. Flames belched from the barrel.

He heard nothing before a giant's fist slammed into his chest spraying blood, tissue, and pieces of bone in a cloud of debris that reminded him an accident he'd witnessed the previous summer. A woman had stepped out of a restaurant after one more drink than reasonable, and into the path of a moving truck. She was dead before she hit the pavement.

He nodded and landed hard on his knees, heard his .32 clatter on the decking.

"Who are you?" he gasped with blood running off his chin.

"I am the vampire Blutleer, but you might call me Father Edwin, the assassin hired to destroy an assassin. That is as it has always been and as it will always be." The vampire raised the .44 as he strode to the vigilante, placed the end of the barrel against the dying man's forehead, nodded, and said, "They wanted me to tell you that there is no heaven or hell. Men who desired to rule the world created all of that from the words and deeds of a blessed man who walked the earth two thousand years ago preaching so he might change the lives of the downtrodden. When you die, it's over, light's out, pal. Hope you had a good life."

Then, with a ferocious grin, Blutleer stared into the vigilante's eyes. "I will enjoy watching your inner light extinguish, puppet, knowing that all of the deaths you caused have now been avenged. But do not to worry, I would never drink from filth such as you."

He pulled the trigger.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Breaking the news after a successful Turning, and finally that first vampire kiss

You were smooth, worked your target with the skill you acquired by watching your Vampire master, and from your recent failed attempts. Despite those failures, you persisted, and now you have succeeded in Turning the man or woman of your dreams.

Eternity beckons you like a lover greeting a returning warrior. After this night, you know you will never walk alone again. Sure, you've had your vampire master lurking in the background to keep you company, but face it, he or she was beginning to creep you out. Your vampire master is centuries older than you and you found it difficult to relate. Now all that changes too.

You sit with his or her head on your lap, watching those once-stunning eyes as the loss of blood drains their color. This doesn't affect your feelings does it? He or she is your first successful Turning. His or her flesh has already bleached, the elasticity tighter, the fingernails glow like mother of pearl.

Carefully, you raise your wrist to his or her mouth, watch as he or she lowers his or her blunt human-like teeth and feebly nips at your flesh. Warm with his or her blood pulsing through you, you press your wrist tight against his or her mouth, and force his or her jaw shut so it tears into you. The blood you just ingested slides like puree into his or her mouth.

A single drop is enough to ignite the vampire life force of energy and now your Turnée drinks with enthusiasm until you force him or her to stop. Don't let it go too far. This is an excellent time to begin training him or her on art of pulling out in time.

Now the Turning is complete. Congratulations! You must feel revitalized, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer your world.

But wait; there is one small detail you must tend to first. Not everyone looked forward to becoming a vampire the way you had. Your gift might not seem as appealing to your Turnée.

"What the hell did you do to me?" your Turnée demands to know, red vampire fire glaring in his or her eyes.

"Made you like me," you reply confidently after swallowing the arousal caused by the sight of his or her rage.

"You did what? What the hell are you?"

"You knew what I was before we dated."

"You mean you really are a vampire? That's stupid. I thought you were joking."

Oh, darn, now what, huh?

"Look in the mirror behind us." You turn your head and point boldly.

"Oh my God, I'm not there." Your Turnée screams, hands gingerly touching the rigid flesh around his or her mouth and eyes. He or she jumps you and if he or she were not mostly drained of blood, the surprise attack might've caused you severe problems. No, you cannot have a heart attack.

Now, you could advise him or her that God was no longer in the equation, but perhaps it is best to wait a day or two. Too many new concepts at once can be confusing.

You should suggest he or she get some rest, sleep off the day and you'll return later. By the time you have, he or she will be famished and the idea of hunting for survival will outweigh all other concerns.

Wait a minute, there is something you're not telling me isn't there. Oh, no, don't say it dude, don't tell me that. You did didn't you. You Turned your mother?!?

What were you thinking? Never, ever, Turn a family member. I do not care how much you miss mom and her home style microwaving, the stocked refrigerator, the slap on the back of the head. You're going to live forever with mom at your side! What were you thinking?

Okay, let's review what happened. You found the guy or girl of your dreams and you Turned him or her. Mom and Dad do not fall into that category. Just because you got along before... oh? What? You didn't and this is revenge? Oh, dude, that is so wrong in so many ways. What kind of revenge is having a raging parent haunting you through eternity?

How can this be fixed?

Next: Dealing with Vampire Hunters. How to use them and how to avoid them.

Dude, you are disgusting. I am totally creeped out! And wipe the blood off your chin.
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