Character Spotlight: Nicholas Quartermaine

  Nicholas is my protagonist in To Befriend a Vampire.  Normally I have huge casts and don’t like to be confined to just one mind, but Nicky is different.  With my life-long vampire obsession, I have always wanted to do a story about this creature I have so long loved.  (And Twilight sparkle-monsters are not — I repeat, are not — vampires.  I grew up devouring a small book of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Twilight stinks.  Reeks.  It’s putrid).  In Metamorphosis, the Vampires are devoid of emotion, rendering them evil by instinct.  As much as I loved my babies, I really wanted to portray vampires from a more human sense.  That’s what they were originally, after all.  Just people like you and me before they were infected.  So Nicky was just a poor kid who managed to get himself into a bad situation … and has lived regretting it for two hundred years.

Anyway, let me introduce you: Nicky, blog folk.  Blog folk, this is Nicky.

Q. Nicky, we don’t really have a picture of you — what do you look like?

I actually prefer going by Nicholas.

Me: Don’t glare at me, buddy.

I will be ignoring you, Ana.  And I look like a vampire.

Me: That’s descriptive.

Fine — white skin, really dark red eyes, I actually have a widow’s peak.  Oh, yeah, and I have fangs — see?

Me: Yes, thank you for scaring my readers, Nicky.  And guys, he’s actually quite handsome.  Strangely, he’s always looked like the stereotypical vampire — sunken cheeks, low, dark eyebrows, thin lips, slightly longer face, black hair….  It’s quite funny.

*Nicholas mumbles something unintelligible*

Me: This is basically what he looks like … with a sleek ponytail, white skin, and no facial hair….This looks a bit like Nicky.  He's hard to cast.

Q. So … do you not like your author, Nicholas?

Well….  She’s actually bearable.  She’s nice enough most days.

Q. So you’re about two hundred years old, right?  How did you turn into a vampire?

Yeah, yeah.  I was born in 1802.  And how I turned does happen to be my private business, although I’m sure Ana is dying to write it.

Q. She’s mentioned something about a watch that belonged to your brother.  Can you tell us more about it?

It’s very accurate.

Me: Nicholas.

All right, fine!  It’s silver and has magical properties.

Q. Well … what kind of magical properties?

It, uh, transports the one who holds it to fairyland.

Me: Who can make it work?

Someone who believes in magic.  Which is why I never figured it out for a couple centuries.

Q. So it was someone else who figured it out?  Who was it?

…Piper.  There’s a kid named Piper.  And if you touch her, I will rip your vocal cords out through your navel.

Me: Nicholas!

Q. Have you ever killed anyone…?

We’re getting off the subject.  Let’s talk about you.  Are you … tasty?

Q. All right, fine….  What’s your brother’s name?

…Jonathan….

Q. Where is he now?

He slayed Cherberus and is now the king of the Underworld.  Hades is his servant.

Q. So he’s … dead?

Yeah.  Have you got a problem with that?  Aren’t people allowed to die in the twenty-first century?

Me: Let’s change the subject.

Q. So do you sleep in a coffin?

I think it would be fun, but no.  That’s bologna.

Q. You seem very modern for a two-hundred-year-old vampire.

One has to blend in.  I’m usually only out at night, but just in case, I learned how to behave myself.

Q. Does the sun burn you or do you sparkle?

Fairies sparkle.  Vampires fry.

Me: He doesn’t get the reference.

What reference?

Me: You don’t want to know.

Q. So is Piper your daughter or something?

Goodness, no!  That would be horrific.

Q. How old is she?  How did you meet her?

She’s five.  As she’ll tell anyone who stands still long enough.  And when her drunken excuse for a mother let me into the house, I snuck into the garage and Piper found me.

Me: Piper found him asleep on a dog bed under a tarp.  It was not one of his proudest moments.

Q. So what is your proudest moment?

Not this one.

Q. How have you spent your two hundred years?

Humans don’t tend to like vampires, so I’ve been evading the hunters.  It makes life … interesting.

Q. If there was one wish you wanted fulfilled, what would it be?

Well, that’s awfully personal!

Me: Just answer the question, Nicky.  You’re exhausting.

Never to see another human being again.

Me: I give up.

Q. What do you feel about us?

You?  You’re the food source.

Q. So why haven’t you eaten Piper?

I just … she kind of became my responsibility.  As soon as I return her to her mother, I’m leaving.

Q. Would you eat her mother?

I do not want that much alcohol in my body.  Her system can get rid of it — it takes far longer with my dead immortality.

Q. Last question: if you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

…Ana calls me a curmudgeon.  I guess that works.

Q. And there’s one request.  Can you give us some parting words?

Be good.  And watch your families well.  Vesuvius might erupt again, you know.


I am sorry for my annoying vampire.  When I had the brilliant idea of introducing him, I forgot what an absolute brat he can be at times.  Especially when there’s an audience involved.  I promise he genuinely has a soft spot — he just pretends he doesn’t.

Is it sad that a character from my own mind is causing me such embarrassment?

Cheers!

Ana

“Hello. What’s Your Deepest Secret?”

Danger lurks around the bend  I’ve always struggled with character development.  I would get a great idea for a book, put together a cast of characters, give them names, and they would just stare at me with blank expressions, somewhere in their minds accusing me of not creating them properly.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, they were right.

My novel Metamorphosis was my trial-run.  I’d written before, and while my technique was good, the rest was sloppy and inexperienced.  I was working on a novel that had inspired Metamorphosis, and getting bored of it and excited for my new project, I abandoned it and began to write Fraina, one of my principal characters.

She had initially started in my mind as a Mary Sue — yuck, right?  Then her hair got shorn, I saw her petite little mouth always set in this tough line, and I witnessed the lightning-fast, penetrating look in her grey eyes.  She became real.

(My model for Fraina).

So, I hadn’t had much experience creating my own characters well before this.  I had always loved stories, but I had never really finished a novel.  Not even close.  I can’t tell you how many notebooks and Microsoft Word documents are two pages long, the few paragraphs filled with such promise, then abandoned when I realized I had no idea what to do with them.  The best I had done was a historical fiction novel that I really need to get back to and the sweet, pathetic story that helped Metamorphosis come to be.  (They will both get their spotlight.  Eventually).  Then Metamorphosis happened.  I loved the idea, the characters, and no matter how hard it was or how confused I got, I kept pressing forward.

Perhaps there is magic in the world.  Because somehow, miraculously, all the frayed strands wove together into something that I never could have accomplished alone.  Now I know how important it is to get to know your characters before you start your story, but thankfully my team of misfits didn’t kill me as we struggled to come to terms with the others’ idiosyncrasies and shortcomings.  As I wrote, I came to know them.  Brunnhilde and I had a bit where I thought she should be regal and wise, and she wasn’t having it.  She’s regal, yes, but in a fiery, wild way.  She was underdeveloped because we were constantly fighting over who she was — it pays to listen to your characters, because the story became so much better after I admitted that she was right.  (Thank you, Shelby, for helping me with that).

(Reference to Brunnhilde’s wings).

But with as much as I learned, even in the beginning chapters of my book, I still struggled with knowing who I was writing.  I didn’t understand how to accomplish that.  I asked my sisters, my friends, and they all said the same thing: ask them questions.  In desperation, I emailed my friend Mirriam Neal and begged for assistance.  She sent me a list of questions she asks her characters, and I still wasn’t sure exactly how to go about this.

I had a brilliant idea.  (Okay, being Christian, I understand that most of my brilliant ideas have had a little help getting through my often-thick skull, so I am immeasurably grateful for a God who puts up with me).  I simply wrote myself into a scene with them.  I basically had my five protagonists in Metamorphosis covered, but I needed real antagonists.  I knew their names, their species’, but nothing of their souls.  Here’s an example of my interview with Quintessa, the Amazon:

Ana shrugged. “You basically tell me what happens and I write it down. Everyone controls their own fate – I just make it happen, being the writer. But I can’t do it properly until I’ve talked to each of you and gotten to know you better. I’d rather write you honestly and as you’d like to be portrayed. I don’t want to make a mistake, y’know?” She refrained from reminding them that they were the villains, and in order for them to seem as powerful and real as they were, she really needed to interview them. She gestured at Quintessa. “Let’s start with you, babe.”

            One elegant eyebrow curved upward at the pet name, but she waved her hand and her companions rose and reluctantly left the tent, staring over their shoulders suspiciously.

            Ana dragged Takeshi’s chair closer until when she sat down her knees would be but a foot from Quintessa’s. Pulling out her dad’s laptop, she lifted the top and opened Microsoft Word.

            “One sec,” she said absently, frowning down at the screen. “Let me write down what you look like.” Jotting quickly, glancing continually up at the regal leader of the Invaders, she managed to write:

QUINTESSA

THE EPITOME OF ROMAN BEAUTY, EVEN IF HER HISTORY IS GREEK (NOT LIKE SHE KNOWS THAT). HER FACE IS OVAL WITH A PLEASANTLY DISTINCT JAW, RATHER RECTANGULAR. HER NOSE IS FIRM, AND HER EYES ARE LARGE AND BROWN WITH THICK, LONG LASHES. HER EYEBROWS ARE STRANGELY ELEGANT, AND HER CURLY DARK HAIR IS BRAIDED DOWN HER BACK. MAN, THIS WOMAN IS TALL! SHE IS ALSO VERY MUSCULAR, ALMOST LIKE A JAGUAR. OH, AND HER LIPS ARE MEDIUM-FULL.

            “There,” she said finally, “I think I got it. Can you read?”

            Her eyes narrowed. “No.”

            Ana shrugged, secretly relieved. “That’s fine. So, let’s get on with it.”

            “I thought we’d already started,” she said coldly, obviously irritated at the inconvenience Ana was proving to be.

            Ana laughed. “Not formally, no. I have a few questions suggested by a friend and I few I’ll add myself.”

            “Which friend?” Ana could tell that what she really meant was, ‘what does this person know about me?’ She didn’t care about ‘which friend.’

            “She doesn’t know about you,” Ana reassured her, “but she’s got some good interview ideas. So, what do you like to wear?”

            A corner of Quintessa’s mouth twitched, as if she were hiding a smile. “And I thought these would be deep, probing questions that I would be seriously reluctant to answer. This is a bit trivial, don’t you think?”

            “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the difficult ones soon, babe.”

As a result of my interview with a Vampire (ha, ha, I’m so funny!) and other beings, I truly was able to know and understand these individuals.  Despite their villainy, I love them.  I know their — sometimes-questionable — motives, their fears, their joys.  They blossomed into real people, one that someday, could even be called my friends.  (Considering they nearly wanted to murder me for invading their privacy, I doubt that it will be anytime soon).

Very Takeshi. XD

(Takeshi, the Vampire in Metamorphosis and my friend Ashley’s husband).

But even with this technique, sometimes it’s really hard to understand your own ‘babies.’  An idea I had after getting frustrated with Marian’s complete lack of interest in the project she’s the protagonist of was assigning them each a song.  I grew up a dancer, so my second home was backstage.  I have three different categories: Disney, Broadway, and pop.  (Opera’s hard to work with because a lot of it is so specific to the characters and plot of its own production).  My naughty characters were each given a Disney song and lovingly forced to perform it.  I would write from each of their perspectives as they had to belt ‘Cruella de Vil’ and ‘Let It Go.’  I carefully selected the songs that fit each of the characters — ‘Be Prepared’ for Magar, ‘I See the Light’ for Nicky and (an older) Piper — and as they performed, seeing their perspectives, getting used to writing their individuality, I became closer to them and could understand them even more.  Even their rage and irritation towards me for making them do all this helped me get to know them.  (Really, I’m lucky I’m alive.  Hugo wants my head).  They even had ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ as the grand finale — it was awesome!  So right now we’re struggling through the Broadway category, and it’s just as fun.  And Hugo may or may not need a restraining order.

Stages of Choosing A Disney Movie to Watch | Oh My Disney...@Jennifer Edgington Curley I feel like this was a way of life when we wanted to watch ANY movie in school...

(This — this right here is the definition of magic).

These are some of the ideas I’ve had to get to know my characters from the inside out.  They have become completely real to me.  I feel like they’re my friends, like they’re my children.  I love them very, very much — simply for being who they are.  I am so proud I get to share my life with them.

I genuinely hope that if you struggle with character development, that you can find ways to come to know your people.  Perhaps this blog post will help, perhaps it won’t.  But I know that you can find a way that will be true to you, your writing style, and your characters.  They will be some of your best friends.

Cheers!

Ana

To the Sound of Music

I have to apologize for my complete and total absence from everything but Pinterest.  We’re in the process of moving from the mountains down to the big city, and the stress has sky-rocketed.  We put our house on the market, and the old, horrible cycle of showings has begun yet again.  And I just found out that the feedback from the horde of realtors that descended upon us on Wednesday dealt primarily with clutter and stuff on the walls … i.e. my room.  My walls are my life.  Take my bed, my desk, anything — but not my few special stuffed animals, my books, or the things on my walls.  Sorry.  If you want to remain alive, leave me my walls.

The Emperor's New Groove is now on Blu-ray.  Click to order!

(L-yama, in Bolivian Spanish.  Not llllama.  Not yama.  L-y-ama.  Cool, huh?)

Anyway.  Hello again!  Now that you’ve been updated in the minute details of my life, I will progress to the fun part.

So I’ve said before that my novel To Befriend a Vampire has been giving me grief.  It didn’t want to cooperate.  Nicholas was sitting in a corner, pouting and clinging to his seat, and Piper was watching me in wary confusion.

When I write, music is involved.  While I was working on Metamorphosis (which needs to be edited fiercely), I was almost constantly listening to Korean pop, introduced to me by the amazing Mirriam Neal.  (Look her up and buy her book.  It’s called Monster and you will thank me for introducing you).  I would sit in the car and go through my entire collection of U-KISS songs, and something that really kept me going was assigning each song to one of the characters in the novel.  When, after an eternity of pumping words out, my brain would start to putter to a halt, I would take a small break and watch a music video.  It would rejuvenate my mind and I could continue with the story.

Neverland. ;D

(My boys).

Music somehow untangles all the colored strands of my imagination.  It soothes me and encourages me, and all the thoughts cluttering my mind and fighting for room in my imagination pay attention and cooperate.  For instance, when I’m struggling with math I’ll listen to the Japanese rock band the Gazette.  Their music calms me and keeps me from getting angry.  When I’m writing, it’s a little harder to know what to listen to.  The music has to coincide with the material I’m working with.  And, strange or not, it’s usually confined to one artist/group or particular genre.

the GazettE,  Go To www.likegossip.com to get more Gossip News!

(The Gazette.  Man, they mean so much to me).

Recently, I’ve found that I can’t write without the assistance of music.  It keeps me on the literary straight-and-narrow.  My youtube account consists solely of separate playlists for my varied projects.  I listen to U-KISS when I edit Metamorphosis.  Dream Dancers is American/British pop — and as an opera singer, that’s just strange for me.  But I’ve found that it fits.  (I think I’ll have to add some Tchaikovsky for Valkyrie, however.  That would make me happy.)  My Robin Hood/King Arthur retelling is, I think, all Heather Dale.  (She’s a Canadian singer who writes and performs songs based on old English legends.  Go listen to the Trial of Lancelot.  It’s gorgeous).  And To Befriend a Vampire … was empty.

Dreadfully empty.

I turned on my Disney playlist that I had put together, assigning a song to each of my characters (man, that was fun!).  It just didn’t work for my novel.  I tried without music.  No luck.

For fun, I began again to listen to the Wonderland musical my friend Ashley introduced me to — bam.  I had it.  It was fresh, (mostly) unassociated with my other projects, fun, and totally insane with a healthy dose of whimsy.  It was perfect.  So I put that baby on a playlist and began to add a slew of Disney songs — including stuff from Snow White.  As a child, I never realized how charming the music was.

Voila!  I could write.  The words flowed, the characters began talking to me again, plot points began to sprout like daisies, and we have worked together to create something beautiful.  Mind you, I’m only on chapter four, but with this music, Nicky, Piper and I can come together and make this into something amazing.

(Piper).

So that was my daily ode to music.

Cheers!

Ana

More Snippets

Boring title.  I lost my brain again.  But hey, it gets the point across.

All right, so I’ve been working on the three books I’ve picked to be written first — and editing Metamorphosis, which isn’t quite as fun as writing it was — and I have to say that the Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling is rolling along quite well.  Dream Dancers and I are staring at each other from across the room, wondering which move the other is going to make next, and To Befriend a Vampire is hiding under a blanket and pretending it doesn’t exist.  It’s giving me grief.

When in doubt, blame the fairies.


Nicholas looked at Piper. Her eyes were round with awe, and she glanced hopefully back at him.

Fine. The gaze of those innocent blue eyes somehow shot straight to his heart. It wasn’t as if there was anywhere else for them to go, anyway.

So fine.

“All right,” he snapped at the fairy. “But if you try anything – anything at all – I will not hesitate to kill you in the most brutal ways possible.”

-To Befriend a Vampire


Glaring up at them, she demanded, “What do you want with me?” They were wide, burly men, the one who had carried her obviously older than the other. They both had broad, bearded faces, though the younger one had a very childish quality. They were filthy, their clothes tattered and their hair ragged. The older had dark curls streaked with grey, and the younger red-brown strands that shone almost golden even through the dirt. “Who are you?”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


Valkyrie was sweating, bent over with her hands against her knees as she panted. Her long hair was caught up in a thick braid atop her head, but it still swung to her hips. Her make-up would have been smeared, but she only wore waterproof for this very reason.

Licking the inside of her lip piercing, she straightened and turned off the music. She had choreographed the wildest swan dance ever encountered. Tchaikovsky would either be shocked or pleased – hopefully both.

-Dream Dancers


 

Every sense Nicholas possessed was heightened more than usual as the magical creatures giggled and whispered around him as they skipped happily through the trees. Nicholas made sure to follow Laureila’s every step along the strange road, glaring at any fairy that came too close and baring his teeth in warning. They just stared back with twinkling eyes, showing no sign of fear, which irked him further.

“They won’t hurt you,” Laureila said with a light laugh. “They’re just curious. Humans don’t often come here.” He saw her glance at him over her shoulder for a moment before she added, “Or those that were once human.”

-To Befriend a Vampire


He watched her for a long moment, saying nothing. “I want the people healed.” As he spoke, his voice rose with passion. “I want to see my son allowed to make an honest living. I want to be able to afford bread on a table in a house that shields my family from the wind and rain. I want to be able to eat a meat dinner without being sent to prison – I want you to fix this.”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


Who cared? Dusty thought the end of the world was coming because her sister wasn’t going to college. If she herself freaked out over every insignificant thing, she would be miserable. More miserable than she already was, she amended with a sardonic grin.

-Dream Dancers


 

He had to stop as soon as he crossed the threshold, blinking rapidly in the blindingly-bright light. He could hear pattering feet and airy giggles surround him as the rest of the fairies dashed into their home, but he was incapacitated by the light. He was so accustomed to only being in the dark he felt as if some part of him had been violated.

-To Befriend a Vampire


Kay’s face was hard and thoughtful, and Arthur watched him carefully. When his brother wanted to say something important, he never spoke without carefully constructing exactly what he wanted to express. Arthur had learned to be patient. “I think you have to earn it,” he said, his deep voice an unconscious growl. “Remember when we used to practice swordplay? We weren’t very good at first, especially you. But we kept at it and now we’re unbeatable. Despite our natural talent, we had to work hard to earn our respect as warriors. You have to earn your place as king.”

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


 

Dusty looked over and laughed. She had heard a moan and a thunk, and was not disappointed to see Ryce’s head lying in misery upon her homework, her blonde curls spilling across the table.

“Ah, finals,” Dusty chuckled. “I can’t say I would ever miss them.”

-Dream Dancers


 

She led them up steps carved straight from the tree. Nicholas was glad his condition gave him exceptional balance for the stairs were narrow, tall, and without railing. As they climbed higher, his stomach started to constrict and his body seemed to increase in temperature, even if he knew that wasn’t possible.

“Nicholas?” Piper said, and he dared a glance at her. Her forehead was puckered in a worried frown, and she said, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.”

Laureila suddenly turned, her expression stricken. “I am so sorry, Nicholas,” she said. “I forgot heights make you uncomfortable.” Nicholas wanted to kick her off the stairs as humiliation tore through him.

-To Befriend a Vampire


 

In the corners of his mind, he noticed they were entering a thick grove of trees – nothing uncommon. But as soon as he was engulfed in its shade, his head snapped up and his mouth dropped open in a desperate attempt at receiving air. A constricting hand had grasped his heart in a vise-like grip, making it impossible to breathe. His vision blurred, becoming grey and filled with smoke, and he wondered if he was passing to the afterlife. Then, through the mist, a vague form of darkness appeared, and as it approached, it solidified into the silhouette of a lithe woman, her long, straight hair blowing in the ice-cold wind. His consciousness swirled into blackness.

-Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


 

Djin caught his breath. “Finally.” Dropping his tools, he dashed out the door, Tsuyoshi beside him as they raced toward what they called the lighthouse. It was the special room on the edge of the mansion that was whatever Dusty saw. It was as if they were sitting in her eyes. Crashing into the room, they flopped down on the red velvet couch Hugo had insisted occupy the place.

 

Suddenly a burst of excitement came inside Dusty’s mind. Vague shouting sounded, and it was as if the presences in her head increased in attention. Well, at least they weren’t heathens.

-Dream Dancers

Djin!


I guess that’s all until I get myself together and drag Nicky out into the open.  And I might slam Hugo over the head with one of my wrist braces while I’m at it.  It would be fun.

Cheers!

Ana

Snippets of Story and Pieces of Prose

I showed y’all snippets from my finished novel, Metamorphosis, but I figured it would do me some good to post some bits from my WIPs.  Have any of you ever plotted out the storyline, got to know the characters well, la-di-da-di-da, then sat down to write and your brain felt like a prune?  I swear it happens every time I begin a story.  I ended Metamorphosis on this high of writerly inspiration, my heart bursting with love for my babies and my life feeling like a beautiful explosion of cherry candies.

Then I began the other stories.  I’m still looking for someone to blame, and I’ve settled on Marian.

I’m sure she had something to do with it.


The scream woke her again, and with a gasp, she shot into a sitting position, staring around in terror. It took her a moment to realize it was all just in her head. Always just in her head.

Dream Dancers


She turned and grinned. “Come on in. No one here bites hard.”

            Those were the words he’d been waiting for. As fast as he could, he stepped into the house and closed the door behind him, plunging the place into blackness, but he could see just fine.

            “My kid and I are downstairs. Landlord’s up here,” the woman slurred, then immediately began the descent as if she’d completely forgotten about him.

            He stared after her in relieved disbelief. He’d done it. He was safe. What luck that she had come by just as he was looking for a place to hide….

To Befriend a Vampire


She came to a thick oaken door, decorations in polished iron accenting the wood. Holding back a choice word, she lifted her hand and knocked.

            “Enter,” came the distracted response.

            She turned the handle and pushed open the door, closing it behind her. “You wished to see me?”

            Sheriff Magar of Derbyshire sat at his desk, his black hair tucked behind his ears and a dark frown on his face as he examined the reports before him. He looked up when she entered, steepling his fingers. His ice-blue eyes bored into her, but she refused to look away. “How did you enjoy the party?” he asked.

            “I enjoyed it well enough.”

            He shook his head, his eyes falling back to his desk, a mocking half-smile on his face. “Still no gratitude.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Something was wrong … abnormal….

            In his sleep, he slowly realized he wasn’t alone. Fear filling him, he forced his eyes open, beginning to bolt upright, but was stopped by what was before him.

            A small girl-child with wide blue eyes and pale blonde hair in pigtails was staring down at him, a solemn expression on her young face. She cocked her head, watching as he gaped up at her. She was kneeling beside him under the tarp, clutching a ragged teddy bear. “What’s your name?” she asked abruptly.

            He struggled into a sitting position, his head against the tarp, staring down at the young intruder. “Look, kid,” he said, “just don’t tell anyone I was here and let me leave, okay?”

            She nodded solemnly, unblinking. “My name is Piper. I’m five.”

To Befriend a Vampire


            Two months. Two months and a day ago her parents had been killed. She couldn’t forget it, no matter how hard she tried to push it from her mind. Every night her dreams were haunted by that horrible day, the memory of the cold corpses of the people who raised her, blood staining their clothes just hours after they had left for a leisurely ride in Sherwood Forest. They had mounted their horses smiling and laughing, but their faces were blank masks when they were returned.

            She shook her head violently, trying to free herself of the ugly vision that tore her heart to shreds. Nothing could be done, she realized bitterly for the thousandth time. It was all over and finished.

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Ryce’s eyes fell to her plate, her expression suddenly reluctant, almost haggard. “Dusty,” she said softly, “I’m not going to college.”

            Dusty felt as if an electric shock jolted her. She jerked upright, staring in disbelief at her sister. “What?”

            Ryce looked up, her blue eyes pleading. “Dust, there’s no way you can pay for me to go. And even if I were to get grants and scholarships, you can’t pay for this place by yourself. We’ll have to leave it soon, anyway, the way things are going. I don’t have a choice. I need to stay and help.”

            Dusty couldn’t comprehend the words coming out of Ryce’s mouth, even if she heard them. Years of planning, their parents’ excitement at the possibilities open to their younger daughter, Ryce’s intelligence – her future was slipping away, swirling down the drain. “Ryce,” she said, “you can’t be serious. Let’s think about this.”

            Ryce’s smile was sad. “I have. I’ve made up my mind.”

Dream Dancers


            All too soon, Piper was back, four plush creatures in her arms. Holding onto her teddy bear and a fluffy white unicorn, she handed him a black cat that looked as if it had endured too much attention and a bead-filled snake that probably cost fifty cents at a yard sale. “This is Blackie and this is Choker,” she told him, gesturing at the toys. She studied him for a minute, and despite her smile her eyes held that strange solemnity so wrong in someone her age. “They like you.”

            He had no idea what to do. Not a clue. He’d never had things like this when he was young.

            She looked shocked, and he realized in mortification that she had somehow read his mind. “Don’t you know how to play?” she asked incredulously, almost in a whisper.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “Stop pretending you don’t care,” a woman’s voice drawled.

            Djin turned, finding Valkyrie in the doorway, clothed in her typical black leather. A spiked leather belt was slung around her hips, and her piercings caught the light of the glorified closet. “And you don’t, Valkyrie,” he said with a hard, closed-lipped smile.

            She shrugged. “No reason for me to.” Swaggering into the room, she snatched a pair of toe shoes from the wall.

            Tsuyoshi straightened, his thin, innocent eyes watching her curiously. “Did you wear through your shoes again?” he asked her.

            “Yep.” That was the only reply she gave before she left, closing the door behind her.

Dream Dancers


            “You realize those look terrible?” Kay said, dropping into Arthur’s abandoned chair. “Mother’s been trying to make you get rid of them for ages.”

            “They’re the most comfortable pair of shoes I own,” Arthur replied primly. “They and I have been through much and I don’t intend on leaving them out of any adventures that may befall me.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            A dark shape screeched, spinning in front of him, and before he could stop himself he had rammed into it, the glass of the car’s windows shattering under the force of the collision. Through the pieces of windshield, he saw the grim face of a hunter, and with a gasp, he rolled off the hood. Where he had been a moment before, a bullet of wood dented the metal. He tried to run, but another car blocked his path. The men and dogs had caught up, and he found himself surrounded.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “Excuse me?”

            Dusty whirled at the sound of a man’s voice behind her. “Yes?” she asked in surprise.

            A handsome young man stood before her, his caramel-colored hair styled fashionably. He had striking blue eyes and a wide, angular smile. He glanced down at her nametag and said, “Dusty? Can you tell me where the men’s department is?”

            She smiled back at him and gestured to her right. “That direction, sir. You’ll pass the Joe Fresh and Adidas sections and should come right up to it.”

            He glanced in the direction she had pointed, then shook his head, staring at the ground and still smiling.

Dream Dancers


            “Piper,” he said, “I need to get some bullets out. Turn around for a second, okay?”

            She cocked her head, frowning. “I’ve seen bullets before. Andrew has lots of guns.”

            “It’s in my body. Under my skin,” Nicholas clarified. He felt uncomfortable telling her that, lest it disturbed her.

            Her eyes widened and her gaze travelled over him. “Where?”

            He blinked. Apparently, there had been no reason to worry. He shrugged off his jacket, trying not to wince, and turned so she could see the bloody wound on the back of his upper arm. “I’m going to have to dig it out.”

            “Okay.” She seemed completely unperturbed, so he dug his fingers into the hole. Pain shot from it, but this certainly wasn’t the first time he’d been hit. He’d had many closer calls. Finally, he pried the wooden bullet from a clump of muscle, then held his bloody hand out to Piper, showing her the object in his palm. She made a face. “Ew,” she said.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “What?” Marian breathed, staring in horror at the smith. “How – why– This can’t be happening. Not after all those years my family has protected Nottinghamshire from the terrible things happening all over England.” Wilhelm said nothing, and Marian gripped his arm. “Wilhelm,” she said ferociously, “I will put a stop to this. I will go see the sheriff of Derbyshire right now and it will be finished. If all goes well, the soldiers should be out by tomorrow morning.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Hugo was in his room, a book open in his lap as he stared into space. He was bored. The only books in the library that he hadn’t read were Twilight and all its equally revolting sequels. There was nothing interesting on TV and he’d gone through so many math books he dreamed in numbers.

            He wanted out. Ever since he found himself here, he’d wanted nothing to do with Dusty and her generic woes or the predictable people sharing her mind with him. The only interesting one was Valkyrie. Her face flitted through his mind, and a smile threatened to tug at the corners of his mouth. She certainly was beautiful, and her lack of scruples made her more intriguing than goody-goody Dusty and Ryce.

Dream Dancers


            “Go!” Nicholas gestured frantically, his watch still dangling from his hand – it finally broke after two hundred years. The clock snapped from the silver chain and flew across the room, landing on the cement. Nicholas threw himself after it, but Piper had already picked it up.

            “Here!” she cried, her small fingers wrapping tightly around it just as the doorknob turned behind her. He snatched at the watch, and the room disappeared.

To Befriend a Vampire


            Something had to change. And she couldn’t resolve anything until she was ready to do so. Sardonically, she smiled. Perhaps Magar had been right. She was not prepared – her selfishness had prevented her from doing anything but bask in her grief. If she really wished to honor the memory of her parents, she would fight for what they believed in. And they believed in an England where everyone was entitled to justice and happiness.

            It wasn’t the nineteen-year-old Marian that descended the stairs, but a woman. Her dark hair was held back by two braids secured over the rest of her curls, and she wore an ivory-toned dress that shimmered as she walked. As she entered the dining hall, Magar rose, his eyes locked on her. “Lady Marian,” he said quietly as he approached, “you look stunning. You are your mother’s duplicate.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            “Who are you?” a voice whispered, and an inhuman snarl roared from his lips. Instinctively, he swung Piper into one arm, clutching the watch with one hand while his other hand remained open, ready for a fight.

To Befriend a Vampire


            “I think,” he replied slowly, “that if you are the true king, why have you not yet begun your reign?”

            Arthur laughed. “I would if it were that easy. I have a few nobles that stand by me, but most of those that accept me as their sovereign have not an inch of land to their name. Now, to business: this is the very reason I have paid you a visit. Would you be willing to join me and uphold a just, free England?”

            The baron’s lips twitched downward. “I would gladly follow you, but I fear the danger if other nobles disagree with me.”

            Arthur sat back in his chair, regarding the man thoughtfully. “You mean,” he said gently, “you want to know what’s in it for you.”

            His eyes widened. “My liege, I beg to differ—“

            Arthur held up a hand to silence him. “It does not offend me that you do not wish to join me without good reason. But I do appreciate honesty. But to answer your unspoken question, there will be no immediate reward. Protection by myself and my troops, of course, a position in the rising kingdom, security in your title and livelihood, but mostly what I am able to offer is a place in a peaceful country. One where there will be no wars, no sentences without fair trial, and where everyone has equal share. A land of justice.” He spread his hands, looking amiably into the baron’s face. “But I promise that it will be worth it.”

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


            Laureila stepped closer, frowning, then suddenly held out her hand. “Give me your watch.” Her voice was smooth and rich, calm yet commanding. She walked with a regal air that spoke more clearly than words of her status.

            He clutched it to his chest. It was his. “Why do you want it?” he asked, slightly mocking as he watched her. He stared at her, one inhuman to another, challenging her.

To Befriend a Vampire


            To Hugo’s slight indignation and surprise, Djin burst into laughter. Still chuckling, he picked up a strange-looking instrument from the perfectly-aligned hooks along the wall and set to work on the design Hugo had ordered on the table. When he didn’t explain the reason behind his merriment, Hugo began to get irritated.

            “What?” he demanded.

            Djin’s green eyes flicked up and he said, “You mean you haven’t realized that you’re the vainest man since Louis XIV?”

Dream Dancers


            Merlin immediately brushed past him and muttered a few words, tapping the handle of Kay’s door. Arthur could hear Kay growling something that sounded threatening.

            “Merlin—“ he began, but the old wizard interrupted.

            “There is no need to thank me, my king,” he said, frowning as he bent his tall frame to peer closely at the handle. “We have no time. More men will be here shortly. Come kick this in for me.”

            “It’s about time!” was all Kay said as the door crashed inward.

            “Gratitude, Kay,” their father scolded as the four of them turned and ran down the hall, Kay and Arthur in front, the three fighters preceded by their swords, Merlin’s blue eyes examining everything in the darkness that Arthur knew made no difference to the powerful sorcerer.

Robin Hood/King Arthur Retelling


That’s probably a little much, but heck, I’ll survive.  These are my babies, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Cheers!

Ana