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...
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Summer in West Virginia hasn't changed all that much in a hundred and fifty years and tonight is no exception. It hit the upper 80's which in and of itself isn't so bad, but the humidity makes it feel much worse. Brian and his family are out of town, so I spent part of the evening with Jack, the town's physician, and his family. They know my secret and have kept it to themselves for the past one hundred and twenty years. It was nice spending time with his mother and grandmother. As much as time has passed I still see them both as little girls who I used to take up into the evening sky on a warm summer night.
But only when the sky was clear. Tonight there are clouds overhead so I can't even enjoy the stars. I'd have spent the rest of the evening with Jack and his family, but they were hosting a party with others from out of town and I didn't want some of our conversations overheard, so I left early and headed to The Crypt.
One of the nice things about having a private club that's located in the basement level of an old building is that it doesn't get too hot down there and I'm not the only one who knows this fact. Even before I turned down the alley and reached the stairs that led down into my club, I could hear the music playing, accompanied by laughter and cheering.
Upon opening the door I find the room is full bodies gyrating to the latest hit tunes my new disc jockey is playing. He goes by the name of Scar-Man due to on old wound that runs from his forehead and across his face. Thank God I got to him in time, otherwise it could've been a lot worse. I've offered to help him get it fixed but he always refuses. "I need to remember where I've been... so I don't forget where I'm goin'," he always tells me, so I leave it at that.
I quietly make my way through the crowd in my own unique way. I pass between bodies that only a fly could navigate without anyone noticing. Soon I've reached a dark quiet corner of the room where I can observe without being noticed. There is a table here and I settle in and let my eyes roam. Oddly enough they fall upon one of the old vaudeville posters I have lining my wall. My mind begins thinking about how things were back in the 1910's and the 1920's. Without realizing it, my eyes swing back to the crowd on the dance floor and I see something wondrous. My eyes are clearly seeing the young people moving back and forth, flirting, and kissing and having a wonderful time. Yet in the same moment in my mind I'm seeing another image super-imposed over them. I see uniforms from bygone eras. One moment I see the Union blue, then the brown ones we wore back in World War I, in another instant I'm seeing the dresses become flapper style, while the young men are decked out in the old Zoot suits.
The styles continue to change, yet the emotions and feelings are still the same as I watch the figures both before me and in my memories. Something stirs within me as I stare. Soon I leave my little corner of the club and head upstairs. Normally, I'd take the actual stairs themselves, but tonight I take my 'mist' form and head upwards until I reach the door that leads to my art studio and slip through the open transom above it.
Once inside my artistic sanctuary I solidify and stare around at my surroundings. Canvasses, both finished and still under way, line the floor and walls.
I soon find myself studying each one intently. My mind begins to think back to when I created each one and the story that led to their creation. But more than just the stories return, so do the emotions that inspired the imagery. Before long I find myself exploring where those stories and feelings began which culminated in these artworks. I've often heard people say, "I wonder what the story is behind this art piece..." Well, I know each and every story behind my works. Some of them are simple, others could fill page upon page of a number of books.
"And I'm the only one who still knows most of them..." I murmur to myself as new thoughts enter my mind. "Do I dare..." I whisper to the silence that surrounds me.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Thursday, February 5, 2015
I had just gotten back to Pointer after doing some book signings up in Allentown Pennsylvania. The night was still young, but I didn't feel like dropping in on Brian and his family. After spending hours talking and signing books I felt like having some alone time. So I headed downtown to where my club awaited.
Being a Thursday night, I knew it wouldn't be open to the public so it was a safe bet I'd have the place to myself. After quietly leaving my car near Doctor Jack's office, I walked the streets for a while in order to stretch my legs. It felt good.
I never knew being an author could be so tiring at times. Oh the late nights writing suit me fine, but ever since I signed a few deals with Hollywood, my presence has been in demand. Meetings, lectures, book signings, and personal appearances have kept me busy lately. So not having to be anywhere in particular and being able to wander a bit is very relaxing.
But as I drew close to the alleyway that led to my club, I spotted a familiar figure lingering nearby.
It was Teddy, one of my regular customers. He's a nice kid who I helped out a few weeks ago when one of the jocks tried to bully him for asking a cheerleader to dance. I put a stop to things rather quickly, especially when I realized he suffered from Fibromyalgia. Ever since that night I've felt a kind of kinship towards him.
Although I never got a diagnosis, I know I shared his affliction when I was even younger than him. The constant pain left me tired and unsteady at times. But I was labeled 'lazy' and 'clumsy' by many, including my father. So I had to learn to hide my constant discomfort and fight my body's tendency to not want to cooperate at times. I don't think my father ever realized how much work I put in to just trying to appear to be normal. My mother on on the other hand knew better as did my little sister Isabella who often asked that I accompany her places to read to her. Being so young and blessed with eyes like an angel's, Father barely ever refused her requests thus getting me out from under his watchful eye.
It wasn't that he was cruel, I think he simply believed that being firm with me would lead to my becoming a 'real' man down the road. The idea of disappointing him always haunted me, which was part of the reason why I joined the Which is part of the reason I joined the 7th West Virginia Volunteer Regiment when the Civil War started. The day I appeared before him and mother in uniform for the first time I could see the pride in his eyes.
But I also saw something else, fear. This is probably what led to his pulling me close, something he rarely did with me and said, "I know how much you hurt sometimes and that your body can betray you. They say this'll be over before Christmas, so don't be foolhardy. Come back in one piece and know I'm always going to be proud of you, my son."
Oh how I would've loved to have heard those words so much sooner, but just hearing them once was more than enough.
Looking at Teddy I knew he could use some words of comfort as well. His shoulders were slumped and in his face was a trace of tiredness I knew only too well.
After a brief greeting I invited him inside the club. He seemed surprised but was more than willing to accept my invitation. We both knew the seats were comfortable and that the place would be nice and quiet.
Soon we were sitting quietly near my piano, chatting away. He was now dating Tina, a member of the cheerleading squad. She wasn't the one he'd been asking to dance when the trouble started, but she had been on hand and had helped him up after I intervened. Like him, she too suffers from Fibromyalgia, but that was not the reason he was alone tonight. She had gone out of town to visit relatives, leaving him with time on his hands.
"So what brought you out this way?" I asked him. "You knew the club wouldn't be open tonight."
"Nothing," he replied, a little too quickly. "I was just in the neighborhood and needed to take a moment to rest when you saw me."
He was hurting. That much I was sure of. But he also wasn't telling me everything. I decided to dig a little deeper. "You know, when my Fibro was acting up I didn't always feel like taking long walks."
Teddy gives me an odd look, but says nothing.
"And I know you live all the way over on the other side of town," I continued.
This time I saw realization sink in and his shoulders sagged. "Okay, I came all the way over here to try and get to the music store before it closed, but I didn't make it."
By this time my curiosity was aroused. "What were you going to get there? Sheet music?"
"No a guitar," he tells me. "I've been getting lessons from one of my cousins for years now and I've gotten really good. But I only really get to practice when I can borrow his or at school. But I can't take the ones from school home with me. So I saved my money and was going to finally get my own, but my Fibro slowed me down and... well, you know the rest."
I was both impressed and a little confused by his determination to get the instrument. "You came all this way, even though you were hurting like hell to buy that guitar? How come? Why was it so important to you?"
He looked away from me and stared down at his hands. "When I play, I lose myself in the music and I can forget the pain for a while. I don't feel like a loser or a lame-o," he replied quietly.
"I know what you mean," I told him and stood up. Wandering over to my piano I continued, "I cannot tell you how many times I've sat here and just cut loose so I could become lost in the music. The same thing happens when I'm dancing as well. I can forget whatever's bothering me and with that respite my mind can clear itself for a time. Then, when I've finished, I feel recharged. Invigorated and ready to face whatever's coming."
My fingers brushed the white keys ever so gently. This piano and I were old friends. It had been given to me by Jimmy Durante, the great Schnozzola himself, as a gift some years ago and I treasured it. His charitable nature extended way beyond his friends. I remembered all the work he did for boys, girls and teens all over.
Just then I heard his voice as if it was coming from behind me saying those immortal words, "Do it for the kids."
Without a second thought, I asked Teddy to stay put while I went down into the storage area. After a brief search I found what I was looking for and came back with a guitar cases. It had belonged to one of my many nephews who had given up playing after less than a year and had gone onto working on cars instead.
Opening the case I pulled the instrument out. It looked as new as I remembered.
Teddy gasped and came over to take a closer look. "Oh man, it's a Gibson! And it's in mint condition."
Smiling, I handed it to him and said, "See if it's still in tune."
It wasn't, but my companion quickly fixed rectified the problem. He had a good ear and definitely knew his stuff. Soon he was treating me to a display of his skills that held me in awe. I've learned to play a number of instruments over the decades, but I'd never mastered the guitar. Harps, keyboards, violin and a couple of wind instruments were my limit.
But Teddy knew exactly what he was doing. Watching his fingers flying up and down the guitar's neck and picking those strings was a marvel to behold. He played for an hour and then we talked until it was time for him to go home. I sent the guitar with him on 'permanent' loan. To say he was grateful would be an understatement. But I knew it would do better in his hands than just sitting in the storage room. Especially since I knew it would help him through those difficult times when the Fibro was getting too much.
I don't feel those pains anymore of course. My condition freed me from the shackles of Fibromyalgia and a great many other infirmities. But I never forgot what it felt like, or how even a small respite of any kind could mean so much.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Oh Alaska, how bewitching you are, I never tire of visiting you. Earlier this evening I visited a tavern/hotel made completely of ice. And I'm not talking about just the building itself but all the decor inside was also made of ice. The bar, the chairs, tables, even the glasses were all made of ice. The artistry that went into each and every item was exquisite. I could spend hours inside that place with my paints trying to capture the colors and beauty, to no avail. Mostly because my paints or brushes would wind up freezing. Just kidding. It's cold inside but not nearly as bad as outdoors where the wind was howling.
But as much as I was enjoying myself, I began to hear the call. It wasn't one you could hear with your ears. No this was the call of the siren of the woods, beckoning for me to come and dance with her beneath the stars. Her song was so alluring I didn't hesitate to answer.
Soon I found myself out in the wild once more. Above my old friends the stars smiled down upon me as I gazed up through frozen waterfalls. It's nights like these where I truly believe that magic does exist in the world. For all the technology and logic we're taught, the beauty nature can create on her own is beyond compare.
I almost felt like intruder in some ways. The loud crunch of my feet in the snow made my self-conscious. I began to feel like I was defacing the peace and beauty of the land.around me. Then I thought back to one of my favorite movies, "The Fellowship Of The Ring" and remembered how Legolas actually walked and ran on top of the snow without disturbing it. After a few tries I managed to lighten my step so as not to disturb the surface of the snow as I moved across it in silence.
Soon I raced across the snow laughing and jumping, leaving no trace of my passing behind. It felt exhilarating. The feel of the breeze against my cheeks was invigorating. I soon found myself wanting to ride the gentle wind and came to a halt underneath some trees. Unlike the vampires of legend when I shift my shape, my clothing does not change with me. Instead it remains behind while the rest of me takes whatever from I choose.
Tonight, I chose bats.
My hands and arms were the first to shift and break apart and free themselves of my garments. Soon my shoulders and chest followed, along with my neck and head. It's a strange experience, one that is not easy to put into words. My senses change in ways one cannot imagine. I don't mean merely the fact that I take on the keen hearing and senses of the animal form I take, especially when I become not one but many. I am keenly aware of what's going on with every single one of me that separates. I see and hear through its eyes and ears. I feel the sensation of the breeze and smell of the air as my forms spread out across the night sky. Its the same when I become a horde of rats or mice. I'm aware of each tiny foot hitting the ground, every whisker that is tickled by a piece of grass or other object. Yet I'm not overwhelmed by all the information. Instead I can take it all in and analyze it without pause or hesitation. And I can enjoy and revel in all of it. It's wondrous.
Much like the aurora that finally begins to pain the night sky above. But this time I'm seeing it from multiple angles. But even more importantly, I'm in the air and get closer than ever before. There is a magic here and tonight I got to be a part of it. As strange as my existence is, it can be a wonderful life.