Monday, December 28, 2015
Once more, with the permission of Nathan and the rest of the cast here at the Vampyre Blogs, the author has a few words about what you can expect to see here in the coming year:
As the New Year draws closer, I have been thinking a great deal about my writing and in particular about "The Vampyre Blogs - I: Coming Home". As you can see just from the title I've begun making changes. I wanted to make it clear to anyone not already familiar with this blog, that this first book is the beginning of a series that will continue for some time to come. Or at least, that is my hope. Nathan and company have already assured me that they have many stories they want share both on the blog and in book form, so I feel safe to say that this series will continue to grow.
Currently, I've finally begun work on the cover of the book. I know a number of you are already familiar with this image that I made using Adobe Photoshop:
While interesting, it also shows that I did not have a completely clear idea of where the story was going to go when I began writing about Nathan and his friends. But since I've had the chance to tell so many short stories here on the blog, as well as finish a first draft of the novel, I have a much clearer vision of the kind of image I wanted for the book. Plus, a number of readers who are already familiar with my other two novels "The Bridge" and "The Ship" expressed a desire for me to continue rendering the covers myself as I have for those novels. I always work in soft pastels, but had a difficult time coming to grips with what the image should look likefor this book. I wanted it to come from the story itself, a scene that takes place which not only catches the eye but captures the imagination. Here is a sneak peak of the cover as I continue to work on it:
Rest assured there will be quite a bit more tweaking to the piece and reworking the foreground colors. But I am very pleased with how I captured the fall leaves on the ground and the family plot located in the back of Nathan's family manor. As for the doll... well that would be telling at this point, but rest assured its presence is a foreshadowing of things to come in the story. However, I will share with you that the manor is not quite as empty as Nathan has believed for the last 150 years...
Anyway, the next thing I wanted to share with you all is the fact that my name will not be the only one appearing on the book cover. For some time my wife Helen has been my biggest supporter and helper in more ways than one. Not only have I used her for a sounding board, but she has also played a critical role in the scientific aspects of the Para-Earth Series (which this book and blog are part of). It has been through her vast knowledge of science and fiction that I've been able create Nathan's condition, as well as coming up with visions of what some of the other Para-Earths are like: the kind of life forms that evolved for instance and why it happened.
But most important of all, she created a character who you've met on this blog before. Professor Otto Hofstadter,was a character she literally dreamed up one night, long before I settled on the idea of doing a vampyre piece. In the dream, one of the main characters from "The Bridge", Police Sergeant Veronica Ross, encountered him at a crime scene crouching over a dead body. Of course in the dream Veronica had no idea that this strange little man who appeared to be in his 50's had nothing to do with the victim's death. So it was only natural that she drew her weapon and told Otto to freeze and put his hands in the air. She was totally unprepared for Otto to put a finger to the side of his nose and do a back-flip out of the window behind him and nail the landing two stories below. Furthermore, she certainly wasn't expecting this strange older man to race across the lawn, jumping over objects and the fence like an Olympic athlete and disappear into the night.
As for Helen, she only had one name for the fellow when she woke up "The Professor". Since then she's fleshed Otto's history and personality out quite a bit, and he plays a pivotal role in the upcoming novel itself. So it is only right, in my opinion, that her name will appear alongside mine on the cover of the book and all those that follow in "The Vampyre Blogs" saga of my Para-Earth Series.
We have plans for Otto in stories of his own as well and will be partnering him with two of the supporting characters from my second novel "The Ship". I'm hoping to have Otto share a couple of his own stories here on the blog as well, so keep an eye out for them because he has a number of good stories (and sometimes, embarrassing ones) about Nathan. I hope you'll find him as fascinating and amusing as I have.
So now you know what to expect in the coming year and those that will follow. As I've said before, Nathan and company, have many adventures to share with us all and I for one am looking forward to them.
I do not know if I'll have time to post another entry here before New Year's Eve, but in case I don't I wish to leave you all with this image...
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Tonight we got our Christmas tree. Some of you may may think we'd left it a bit late, but since I'm a December baby, my parents got into the habit of waiting until after my birthday to put up any Christmas decorations. One of my mother's sisters was also a December baby who often complain about how her birthday got overshadowed by Christmas, so my parents go out of their way to make sure that did not happen with me. Especially not this year when I turned sixteen.
But that had been over a week ago and I was more than ready for Christmas now. In fact, I'm thinking of telling my parents next year that we should get our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We could just decorate it for my birthday and then redo it again for Christmas.
You see I love the smell of pine trees and forests. Especially in wintertime and at night. Which is why going out to get our tree was so much fun this time. As soon as dinner was over, Dad told us to get our coats and pile into the Suburban. "It's tree time!" he smiled.
"More like about time," Mom muttered under her breath, while getting her coat on in record time.
Soon we were driving down a snowy lane with snow covered trees on either side of us. There was no one else on the road, so it felt kind of spooky in some ways. I swear, there's nothing like being surrounded by huge trees at night to make you feel really small. Yet it was beautiful at the same time.
After a while Mom said, "Where are going? There aren't any tree lots out this way."
"We're getting our tree the old fashion way, straight out of the best supplier known to man. The forest itself," Dad smiled.
"We're going to chop one down?" I cried in dismay.
"No, Sweetie, we're going to dig one up," Dad corrected me. "Remember, cut trees don't last very long around Uncle Nate."
Immediately, my mood skyrocketed even higher. "He's coming this year?"
"Dear, you weren't supposed to say anything," Mom scolded.
"She was going to find out anyway," he told her, "See, that's him up ahead waiting for us."
I practically climbed into the front seat with them to get a better look. Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead stood Nathan wearing a an old fashion burgundy frock coat, with a black cape over it. While on top of his blonde hear, he had a black beaver hat angled every so slightly to give him a dashing look.
By now my little brother Geoffrey, who had been sleeping the whole time woke up and started yelling, "Unca Nate... Unca Nate..." at the top of his little lungs. If you haven't guessed, he adores our godfather.
Luckily we were able to park quickly and got him out of the car. Since I was right next to him, I 'fun' of getting him out of his car-seat. Let me tell you, trying to deal with an overexcited two-year old who won't stop squirming is an experience I won't soon forget. Nor will my stomach where he kept kicking me without realizing it, because he wanted to get to Nathan so badly.
Thank goodness Nathan saw my plight and took Geoffrey from me. Immediately, my baby brother calmed down and started babbling at him in a mix of words and childish gibberish. Mom and Dad looked on with amusement while Nathan hung on my brother's every 'word' until he was finished.
"Well you certainly have had an interesting day," Nathan told him, "I look forward to having more of these talks with you over the coming days. But for now, we need to find a good tree and we have lots to choose from."
Looking around I saw he was right. We did have a lot of choices, but there was one slight problem. "Kind of big aren't they?" my Mom remarked, taking Geoffrey from him.
Nathan turned to my dad the two began muttering to one another. I managed to catch a few snippets like: "I thought you said she'd be okay with punching a holes into the ceiling and possibly the roof..." and "....we'd have had to cut through some of the crossbeams and..."
I noticed Mom rolling her eyes several times before they finally finished.
Clapping his gloved hands Dad said, "Nathan says there's some really nice trees over on the north slope just a few hundred yards from here. I just need to get the sled and pot out from the back of the car."
"Did you remember the shovels?" Mom asked, and he froze.
Immediately my father froze and winced. "Oops."
"Dad!" I cried but Nathan intervened saying, "Don't worry, I've got it covered. Just follow me." and with that he started heading off towards the north slope.
Naturally I raced to join him. Soon the whole family was following close behind as we slowly made our way through the snowy woods.
At one point we spotted some deer nearby, who did not seem to mind our presence at all. They stared at us for a while, until they were sure we didn't have anything to offer them and then moved on. Soon we emerged from the forest and into what was undoubtedly the north slope.
All around us stood pines ranging from four feet to heaven knows, all covered in snow. It was a beautiful sight. I almost felt guilty for our intruding on such a festive scene. But, we were here on a mission and I knew weren't going to leave until we located and secured our quarry.
After a few minutes, of knocking snow off a few of the six foot trees, my parents found one they liked. I had to agree, that their choice was a good one. It had a lovely shape and would fit nicely in the living room. But first we had to get it out of the ground.
Turning to Nathan I said, "So how do you plan to get this puppy out of the ground without shovels?"
Smiling he said, "Funny you should mention the word 'puppy'." With that he took a few steps away from me and knelt down in the snow, covering himself entirely with the black cloak. For several seconds nothing happened. Then there was movement under the ebony cloth and soon two large black dogs emerged from underneath the cape which fell to the ground and became flat.
"PUPPIES!" my little brother cried excitedly. He loves dogs, but can't play with them because he's very allergic to their fur. A part of me quickly surmised that this would not be a problem with these two beasts. As if to prove my point, they went over to where my mother was holding Geoffrey, and allowed him to pet them.
Then the pair trotted over to where the tree we'd chosen stood and began digging in a circle. Snow went flying in all directions, making the rest of us take a few steps back to keep out of range. But soon, the dark soil began to replace the white stuff letting us know the real work had begun. Out of curiosity I bent down and picked up a piece of the thrown soil and found it was still quite solid and frozen.
I shook my head in wonder and marveled at the power of my godfather once more. I've long known of his shape-shifting talents, but sometimes forget just how much strength he is capable of demonstrating.
Within minutes the tree wobbles and tilts to one side, as the two dogs emerge from behind it and slip back under the black coat from which they'd emerged. As my father brings the sled with the big pot on it near the tree, I watch the shapes moving beneath the cape and breathe a sigh of relief when I see hands appear and Nathan stands up. As he readjusted his hat, I could see that there's not a speck of anywhere on his hands or face. He truly is a wonder to behold sometimes.
Anyway, he and Dad managed to lift the tree with its large ball of dirt and roots, into the big pot... or rather tub on the sleigh and quickly made sure it was a good fit. Then we headed back to the cars and stood it upright in the back of the pickup, Nathan had brought. In a few weeks, we'll bring it back and replant it, just as Nathan has shown us so it can continue its life among its siblings.
Two hours later, we had the tree back at home and fully decorated. Dad has just lit the log in the fireplace, while Nathan is resting on the sofa with a blanket over his legs. Or rather where his legs would be. On the floor nearby, Geoffrey is playing with a couple of smaller versions of the black dogs who dug our Christmas tree out of the ground.
Poor Nathan, he's going to be legless for a good hour or more, meaning he'll be stuck on the sofa. I'm going to join him after I finish this post. He's going to be staying with us all throughout the holidays this year. Normally he heads to Connecticut to visit another part of his 'extended' family to spend Christmas Eve, but they are celebrating elsewhere this year which means he's all mine... or rather ours this time.
Glancing over at the archway that leads to the kitchen I can see my mom and dad enjoying a good long kiss under the mistletoe. I love seeing them like that. It really makes the season all the more right to me.
Love, family and friends, those are the greatest gifts to have at this time of year. And I'm going to go get a little of the first, right now. I've got a little bit of mistletoe of my own in my pocket and there's a very inviting spot right next to Nathan on the sofa.
This is going to be very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year indeed....
****So ends this year's holiday installment of The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. May all your hopes and wishes come true during this festive season. And may each and everyone one of you enjoy some of the magic of this season.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE