Creating a Horror/Fantasy Novel: Chapter 3 and a Reader Question!

Good afternoon everyone! It’s that time for another edition of creating a horror/fantasy novel. Before we get to the meat of the material, I got a question from a friend/reader over the weekend.

Jeremy – how do you come up with the settings for stories?

This is a great question. The setting of the story is one of the most crucial elements to the preplanning phase. Picking the appropriate era and place for your book pretty much lines up the rest of the novel. Obviously for this story, I’ve picked Europe and the late 1700’s.

Here’s the problem with a lot of settings out there; the authors don’t really know much about a place they’re trying to describe. If you’ve never been to Paris and suck at doing research, a romantic novel underneath the Eifel Tower is not a great story for you to write. You either need an intimate knowledge of the place, have studied a time/era to the point where you can make it completely believable for the reader, or need to invest research time before you start your novel.

That, or make up your own damn world and become a GOD!

For me, I pick settings I know a lot about. My 11th grade world history teacher pushed us to learn about multiple times, countries, etc. Thanks to his nonstop projects and tests, I have so much useless knowledge that writing books is the only way to use it. And that’s where I get my settings from.

dracul cross

Chapter Three

**Hungaria; 1775 the year of the Lord**

Winter had given way to springtime as we left the very northern tip of Wallachia and entered the Kingdom of Hungaria. What hadn’t given way was the evil that gripped Europe. No sooner did we cross the border than we ran across a pack of werewolves. Not just any werewolves mind you, ones left behind by Vlad himself, led by a vicious creature named The Jackal.

The five werewolves left as a welcoming party for Radu (a name we will use between ourselves) and I attacked with a viciousness I’d never seen from daemons. Even the gargoyles, eaters of man’s flesh, were more civilized than these heathens. With my sword held high, I gutted the beast that had leapt at me from on top of the tree I was standing beside. His viscera oozed out of the wound.

One more quick movement from my longsword cleanly removed the beast’s head. To my right, Radu was in full vampyre mode. Even as the sun began to rise, its power had little control over the Dracul I traveled with. His fangs ripped the throat clean away of one of the werewolves that chose to attack him. As the creature fell to the ground, he stabbed him in the heart with his impressive longsword. I was thankful to God that Radu was on my side. Seeing him in full action let me know just how little he tried when he fought me.

There were three wolves left. Not wanting to wait for another to attack me, I released the axe I carried on my back. Its blade had also been forged in the same steel/salt forge that my sword had been. I aimed my throw perfectly and the axe rotated in the air before finding its mark, burying itself into the wolf’s forehead. He dropped to the ground, blood gushing over what snow was still left on the ground.

The last two wolves were Radu’s to slay. He jump kicked the first one to create space. With a full arm’s length to work with, he thrust his sword forward into the first wolf. When he whipped his arm backwards, the tip of the blade pierced the second’s eye. As both wolves dropped to the ground, he made quick work of them. Soon, two decapitated wolves twitched their final movements. Radu cleaned their blood off his blade in the snow before sheathing it.

“It appears the further east we venture, the more our enemies will come out of the shadows,” he told me.

“Let them come,” I said. “I’d rather deal with enemies in front of me then those who choose to hide.”

Radu stepped over the dead bodies of the wolves and sniffed the air. “A village is close. I can hold off the effects of the sun for a bit but we need to take refuge soon.”

In our travels, I’d come accustomed to sleeping during the day and traveling at night. Radu, as he said, could hold off the effects of the sun, something most normal vampires couldn’t do. However, it took much out of him and was unneeded if we could avoid it. That was one of the few things I learned about him. He once slipped and said he was married before his turn, but didn’t elaborate. I knew not to press, but my curiosity was certainly piqued.

As he said, there was a village just around the bend. To keep a low profile, we found an abandoned farm on the outskirts and set up our camp in one of the barns that was still standing. With the sun as our guardian, we rested as best we could.

I woke up a bit earlier than I hoped. I soon realized it was due to the scent of cooking meat finding its way into our hiding spot. Radu was fast asleep up in the loft, so I figured it was fine for me to venture out and get a real meal for once. He may’ve been fine supporting himself on animal blood, but I was tired of hunting and eating game meat. I wanted something cooked well and expertly seasoned. And a mug of ale would be nice, too.

It was midafternoon and the taverns were just opening. No one made eye contact with me, as a stranger to a small outpost in a very dangerous area. These people feared for the nights, that much was clear. Everyone was armed in some way, be it a dagger, sword, or bow. That didn’t change as I entered the first tavern I came across.

Behind the bar was a beautiful blonde woman. Sitting on the bar was a rare weapon, a crossbow. As I entered, the woman didn’t look up. She looked like she may have once been in the army of the Vatican, as the crest of her overcoat was easily identified. If a woman was in that army, she must’ve been tough.

I casually walked up and sat down. “Is it too early for a mug of ale?”

“Depends on what coin you got in your pockets.” She looked up, her blue eyes were touched with defection. The bartender was blind! “Gold coins and it’s never too early. Silver coins, come back at sunset.”

Quickly, I tossed two gold coins on the wooden counter top. It was just the two of us and it couldn’t be a coincidence that I ran across a blind woman. Not after the prophecy Julius informed me of. The bartender scooped up the coins and bit them. Satisfied they were true gold, she filled a mug up and slid it over to me.

The ale in some of these low key settlements was truly divine. “I haven’t had ale this good since I left my own home.”

“And where might home be?” she asked.

“Stefania; I’ve traveled from Moldavia and am headed towards the Vatican on a spiritual pilgrimage.”

She snorted in her own cup of ale. “Bullshit. You may be a man of God but you’re a warrior, not a religious scholar.”

“How can you tell such things?” There was no hiding the disbelief in my voice.

She reached out with her hand and ran it over mine. “Just as I thought. I might be blind, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see.”

The blind seer… yes, this was the Lord at work! He brought me to the third companion. “As a bartender,” I started cautiously, “I’m sure you hear all sorts of tales, don’t you?”

She sipped her ale. “Before those flea bitten creatures showed up, I heard a lot of stories.” She slammed the mug on the counter. “These days, we get the scared farmer that comes in who claims the pack ate five of his sheep. The only sheep around here are the ones unwilling to fight back.”

“And you’re willing to fight?”

“Before this happened to me,” she gestured to her eyes, “I was a member of the deadliest archer company the Vatican ever produced. With this condition, I can barely defend this hell hole that I was left in.”

There was quite the story to be told. “Your company left you in this little outpost? They didn’t even take you home?”

“My commander, a stern man, said he couldn’t care for the weak. In exchange for blessings and continued prayers, I was left with the people here. Instinct and skill haven’t left me, but without my sight, what good is an archer?”

“Your handicap isn’t a handicap. It is a gift from God,” I declared. Before she could voice her opinions about my proclamation, I continued on. “My name is Maximus Brinza, guardian of Stefania and slayer of unholy creatures. A great prophecy was written in regards to me… and you.”

She picked up my mug and sniffed it. “Nope, just standard ale. You just must be a special kind of insane.”

“No, I’m far from insane. I’m traveling with a man named Gabriel and we’re headed towards the Vatican to end the threat of Vlad Dracul.” I’m not sure where this confidence was coming from, but it was there. “The great prophecy speaks of a false angel, the heritage of hunters, and a blind seer being the ones to bring back the light.”

“Leave,” she said. She picked up the crossbow. “Leave now before I put a bolt through you and let you bleed out on my clean floor.”

I got up and backed out slowly. “Is it crazy to think that we were chosen by God to put an end to this creature?”

“Don’t talk to me about God! I gave my life, devoted everything to Him and the teachings of the Bible! If God wanted me to be a part of something, He wouldn’t have taken away my eyes.” Tears were coming from the useless organs. “You’ve had your ale – leave.”

There was no forcing someone to accept their destiny. “Very well, miss, I’m leaving.”

I backed out of the bar and into the lonely street. With nothing left to do, I made my way back to the barn. Seeing where the sun was, it was only a matter of time before Radu woke up. The few people who lingered on the street watched me walk off back out towards the outside of the village.

Upon arrival, Radu was awake and sitting in a shady spot. “Where were you?” he asked quietly.

“I went for some ale and meat. All I got was ale.”

He opened those red eyes of his. “Ale wasn’t the only thing you discovered, Brinza. I take it she reacted poorly when you told her of our task.” Then he adopted a sarcastic tone. “You uneducated fools, always using the Bible as a means to an end. Lord above, would it kill any of you to read another book?”

How in the name of God did he know the extent of my conversation? “Eavesdropping on me now?”

“I don’t need to; your aura gives off everything one needs to see.” He stood up and stretched out. “Put it out of your mind for the moment. When night falls, we stay here. Something tells me The Jackal is going to send some more wolves for us to cut up.”

If that was the case, I needed to sharpen the edge of my blade. I removed my sword and began to smooth out the rough spots from the tip to the pommel. Radu walked over to inspect my work. “What is the name of this blade?”

“My sword doesn’t have a name,” I replied. No one named an unknown sword, that was common knowledge.

He removed his own. “This is the Dragon’s Fang as Dracul means dragon.” He stabbed it into the ground not even a foot length from me. “Your father hadn’t named his either, until he met me. He settled on the name Star Light when he looked towards the Heavens for an answer.”

“Are you telling me I need to come up with something?”

“What if this is the weapon that kills Vlad? The world won’t know what weapon to honor.”

If my dad named his weapon at Radu’s suggestion, then I too would name mine. Just as he did all those years ago, I looked towards the Heavens in the hopes of finding a name. The sun was giving way to a crescent shaped moon in the night’s sky.

“Crescent Moon,” I told Radu. “The name of the blade to kill Vlad The Impaler is Crescent Moon.”

-Jeremy

You can find all my work at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Review – The Europa Effect

The Europa Effect by A.L. Mengel

europa

In the sequel to The Wandering Star, The Europa Effect picks right back up where we left off. As always, I’m going to keep spoilers and plot details to a minimum to ensure no one’s reading experience is ruined, but I’ll give you the best review possible.

One of the things A.L. Mengel is known for is his brilliant usage of the environment as a major player in his books. That doesn’t change in Europa. Brief backstory from The Wandering Star, the Earth stopped rotating and the sun is about to die. The inhabitants of Earth need to get the hell out of dodge and that’s where we are.

This is 100% a cosmic mission of discovery. This might be a weird comparison, but The Vega Chronicles (the title of the series Europa belongs to) reminds me of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Exploration, mystery, the unknown, these are all integral parts of the story and blend together a fascinating plot.

To sum this up, A.L. Mengel has invested a lot of himself into this science fiction story. If you enjoy stories that take you on an adventure with the destination unknown, you’ll love The Vega Chronicles. Here is the link to the series for your reading enjoyment: A.L. Mengel’s Amazon page.

-Jeremy

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Creating a Fantasy/Horror Novel: Chapter 2 & Formatting!

Welcome back my current blog series, writing a fantasy/horror novel. For those of you who might be stumbling into this either for the first time, or by accident, I’m writing a story and keeping you up to date with just about everything! I’d also like to thank everyone who commented on Facebook, sent me an email, or just liked the first post. We had a very good opening post.

Some behind the scenes stuff first. Formatting both an e-book and paperback is incredibly important. Not only do bookstores wants books that are formatted within certain guidelines, but they want to see a bit of uniqueness blended in, too. What can separate an author from the pack is finding a formatting solution that matches the tenor of the book. We’re crafting a fantasy/horror novel, so the formatting needs to match that.

How I’m trying to do that is use a gothic font (one that doesn’t show up on WordPress unfortunately) with the first letter of each chapter given special prominence. When you flip the page to a new chapter, I want it to smack you in the face. The font I’ve used for the opening letter is Old English Text, at 18 point, and for the body is Garamond, at 11.5 point.

My coup de grace is the cross above the chapter heading. Religion is steeped into this book, as the setting is 1775 Europe and at that time, the Vatican was a major player in events. I felt it truly captured that gothic feel that I wanted; what do you guys think?

Even with all of that, there was one thing I’d love to do but just can’t. I wanted to go with black pages and a red font. Apparently, going that far outside the box is frowned upon.. 😦

That’s it for the technical stuff. If you’re just here for the story, well here it is.

dracul cross

Chapter Two

The moment I entered the village, I was surrounded by those I was sworn to protect.

“Is the creature dead?”

“Where’s his head, Maximus?”

“Long live the Brinzas!”

I gave short, discreet answers. I needed to find Julius immediately. I knew he would have left the tavern and gone to his church the moment I went after the vampyre. I pushed through the crowd and stormed my way to the church. My different demeanor put the rest of the folks following me on edge, but that was neither here nor there. The information the vampyre gave me was most disturbing.

At the church, I turned to address the villagers. “A scion sought me out in the hopes to end this great darkness we live under. Until I have more information, please just trust me.”

Rumblings broke out amongst the people, but no one stopped me from entering the church. Inside, at the altar, was Julius. He was kneeling, praying at the moment. I walked to the front and took a seat on the wood pew. I picked up the Bible and flipped to verse Job 27:6.

I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go. My heart does not reproach any of my days.

As I closed the Bible, I thanked the Lord for his blessings. When I opened my eyes, Julius had joined me on the pew. “There is great trouble in your eyes, old friend,” he observed.

“The vampyre I went out to slay, he’s very much alive.”

Julius bowed his head. “As I assumed. What happened?”

I retold the story. Julius followed along as I recounted the battle and the subsequent conversation thereafter. I finished with the knowledge the vampyre gifted me with. “He claimed to be Radu Dracul, brother to Vlad, The Impaler.”

“Radu, a name I thought I’d never hear again.” Julius got up and went up to the alter once more. From under the Bible, he opened a small hidden drawer. When he came back over, he showed me the black book. “Inside these pages is what the previous leader of this church gathered on the Dracul family. Radu is mentioned just once. I assumed it was because he died.”

The vampyre told me the truth. “Radu, or Gabriel as he goes by now, wishes to recruit me against Vlad, as he did my father.”

“He was with Ivan when he went after Vlad?”

“That he was, old friend,” I confirmed for me. “Radu also knew my grandfather. It seems he has taken a vested interest in my family.”

Julius flipped to the second to last page. “I oftentimes wondered what Elder Darius meant with this passage, but maybe it has more to do with you.”

He laid the book down in front of me. The handwriting was a bit hard to read, but I was able to make it out: From the lineage of hunters, with the help of a false angel and a blind seer, will the light shine.

“Are you saying Radu is a false angel?”

Julius pushed his glasses up his nose. “He took the name Gabriel, after one of the Lord’s most trusted Arch Angels. With your family’s lineage, I would say Darius was on to something.”

Maybe that was true, but what in Heaven’s name was a blind seer? “That second part, the blind seer, that seems to be a bit of a complexity.”

A harsh wind blew through the windows of the church, taking out the candle light that we had. It was a cold, evil wind. Something foul was afoot. I unsheathed my blade, ready for anything at a moment’s notice. That’s when the panicked screams started outside. It was going to be a very long night.

I hustled outside the church with Julius right behind me. The villagers were scattering as a gargoyle had a hold of one of the farmers, tearing him apart. It was much too late for the older man. However, the creature made a mistake coming here. He would never hurt another soul, as long as I drew breath. When he saw me walk towards him with my sword drawn, he dropped the pieces of the farmer.

He dropped to all fours, like a dog. Its cold grey eyes showed much intelligence. It was no surprise when it spoke. “You are not the one I want.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, monster.”

The gargoyle rose up and tried to crush me with its front legs. The claws missed as I rolled away and dug into the ground. The trenches left behind showed just how dangerous this creature was. Giving up on that strategy, it used its wings to heft itself into the air, hovering about three heads above me. It swopped towards me, only to be met with my sword.

The damn thing was made of stone!

My sword bounced out of my hands and flew back towards the church. Thinking I was weaponless, the gargoyle flew at me one more time, murder its only intent. Unfortunately for it, I was always prepared. I pulled a large hunting dagger out of my boot and aimed it for the soft underbelly of the creature. The blade spun in the air and hit true. The gargoyle’s guts spilled out from the wound and it crashed into an unfortunately homestead not too far from the church.

Julius had my sword in hand as I walked over to get it. “It seems Vlad has found his brother.”

“You want me to join Radu, don’t you?”

“What I want is not what matters, Max.” It was clear that my God fearing friend was going to tell me what he thought anyway. “I would be remiss not to tell you that these attacks have gotten worse lately. Vlad knows you’re here and will stop at nothing to kill you.”

These creatures were my fault. Before, the rogue daemon that wandered in was to be expected. The situation was beginning to escalate. “I couldn’t bear the deaths of anyone I cared about because of my hubris. Staying in Stefania when I could do more good in the world? That seems selfish, doesn’t it?”

“Those are your words, not mine,” he smiled.

“It seems like the debate is settled. I go with Radu in the hopes to end this. I just pray that this is the path the Lord wishes me to take.”

He handed me the Bible I’d been reading while he was praying. “The Lord will watch over you, always.”

I took the old tome from him and placed it inside my coat. “Very well, I’ll seek the vampyre and join him on his quest. Not just for us, but for the chance to avenge my father.”

“I finally see the anger you tried so hard to keep buried.” Julius placed his hand over my heart. “Anger is not a sin, Max. You must learn to embrace it, accept it.”

Maybe that was true. I’d think about that as I ventured forward. With a plan made, I sought out the high chairman of the village. Julius offered to tag along, but I told him he’d be needed at the church. As soon as I left, villagers flooded inside to hear the word of the Lord and get reassurances. In this time of great need, the verses in the Bible would be their greatest source of comfort.

High Councilman Roman was out front of his home on the southern side of Stefania. Roman was an older man, one whose life was pretty close to the end. He raised a gnarled hand in the hand as a way as signaling me to come forth. When I got there, he finished his mug of ale, discarding the mug behind a bush.

“Me wife don’t like it when I drink,” Roman hiccupped.

I could see why. The man reeked of ale. He always reeked of ale. “I have to leave Stefania, Roman.”

He pushed himself off the stone wall of his dwelling. “Going after the daemon himself?”

“Yes.” There was no point not to be God’s honest. “I have found an ally that will help me avenge my father.”

Roman nodded a few times. “Your dad, he’d be a good man, that he was.”

The old man had been around Stefania for so long he actually knew my grandfather, too. Roman was well trusted by the villagers and when time caught up to him, it’d be hard to see who would replace him. I knew it wouldn’t be me and Julius was too dedicated to the church to ever leave. I pushed that thought from my mind, I had to worry about what was in front of me.

“If all goes well, you’ll be alive to see the end of his reign, Roman.”

He clasped my shoulder. “Good luck to ya, laddie.”

With that last declaration, Roman fell back against his house, passing out from the amount of ale he’d consumed. I patted him on the head and left to go to my home. If I was to follow Radu on this journey, it was time to gather up my most precious belongings. It didn’t take long; I gathered my knives, a small axe, and bottle of holy water. These were the tools of a vampyre hunter.

By the time I reached the place I first met Radu, snow began to fall yet again. The moon was still bright in the sky, illuminating the white flakes as they floated to the ground. He hadn’t moved, snow lying on his black coat.

When he saw me, he shook the snow off. “It’s about time,” he griped.

“Sorry, I had to take care of a gargoyle that wandered into the village. It was looking for you.”

“So Vlad’s minions have tracked me.” He twirled his coat around himself, supernaturally fast. When he was no longer blurry, “I can send phantoms of myself to act as decoys,” Radu explained.

“Speaking of that, how do we ensure the safety of Stefania while I’m with you?” I asked.

He laughed, a cold and miserable laugh to match the weather. “Just like your father, I see.”

“I’m proud to be a good man like my father.”

“Your family makes everything so hard,” he sighed. Taking a small dagger out of his jacket, he sliced his hand open. “My blood will mark this area to minor daemons and they will leave. As for Vlad’s forces, the best thing we can do is leave and defeat him.”

Julius had said that it was me the vampyre thought of as a threat. Maybe if I did leave, the worst of the monsters would follow me and leave Stefania alone. “Very well, your words have merit.”

This time Radu’s red eyes showed a bit of leniency. That was certainly something. “Where do we go from here?” I asked.

“My brother takes over castles in places he’s conquered. Most of northern and western Europe is under his control.” Radu pulled out an ancient looking map. Many of the names didn’t mean anything to me, just the one in the circle. “Vlad’s gained enough power where he might finally go after the Vatican.”

That was insanity! “No daemon could breach the walls of the Vatican.”

“I know my brother better than anyone.” Radu kicked snow over the fire, putting it out. “We head south, to Italia. There, we will seek out those who can get us into the Vatican and we will meet Vlad head on.”

If it wasn’t for the words Julius read me about the lineage of the hunters joining a false angel, I’d return to Stefania and keep the village safe. “I’m trusting you, Radu.”

“As you should.” He began to walk off, leaving me to follow him. “And never call me Radu, my name is Gabriel, understand?” he said quietly. There was something dangerous to his voice.

“I understand,” I replied.

“Good. If you ever use that name again, I will kill you and find another.”

-Jeremy

You can find all of my work at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Creating a Fantasy/Horror Novel: Chapter 1 with Backstory!

Oh Monday, you pretentious jerk! You’re back and it’s never in a good way. Que sara, I guess we’ll make the best of it. If you remember last week, I told you fine people that I was in the midst of reopening a story idea I had a long time ago and wanted to share the journey with you. Today mark’s the first of a great many blog posts that will detail that trip.

Before I get to Chapter 1, I figured some backstory into how this idea came into existence was important. Let’s hit the way back machine and travel to the University of Central Florida, circa 2001. Back then, you’re fearless author buddy was a young lad with a penchant for Ice House and classic video games. My roommates and I had just finished a marathon session of Final Fantasy VII and were on the lookout for a new game. Upon stumbling into our local Gamestop, we were introduced to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

I’d played Castlevania before, both Simon’s Revenge and Dracula’s Curse on the original Nintendo. Symphony of the Night starred Dracula’s son, Alucard and whoa boy. Not even fifteen minutes into the game, we were sold. Hours upon hours (and 6 packs of beer) were spent finding every secret to beating the game completely. And that my friends, is where my very first story was born (yes, even before Power Play: Ragnarok on Ice).

Since then, the story had been resting peacefully in a sort of development hell. That was until Netflix decided to unleash the amazing Castlevania miniseries upon us. Something triggered in the back of my mind as I binge watched all four of them and I went on a hunt for the old notebooks. When I found them, all the ideas that flooded to me 16 years ago came back, with a vengeance. New, even crazier plot lines mixed with the old ones. And here we are.

So with that background information fresh in your mind, let’s begin our journey shall we?

dracul cross

Prelude

**Moldavia; 1473 the year of our Lord**

Greste, the hub of activity of this part of Moldavia was doomed. Black clouds moved in fast signaling the fall of the rain of fire. Roofs were the first to go up in the inferno before the blazes moved to the ground. Even then, the fire was soon the second deadliest player on the field. He had unleashed his daemons, more specifically the gargoyles. The first one snapped up a young man, no more than eighteen and tore his head off. A fountain of blood erupted from his neck, the head no longer acting as a stopper.

Have you ever seen a ball of fire hit someone so hard that it blew apart their stomach? I just did. As the man’s gut blew up, chunks of his freshly digested meal splattered on the faces of those right around him. It was the start of Armageddon for the villagers. Their death sentences were about to be handed out.

As the city burned, the peasants were fleeing for their lives. It was too late to run away, but I gave them credit for not standing around and allowing death to find them. No, that was left for the idiots of the clergy. They stood outside the churches, yelling for people to repent their sins before their inevitable doom. Their shouts didn’t last very long; a few gargoyles landed on the steps and gobbled them up.

I had to bite back a chuckle as the clergy were ravaged. It should’ve disgusted me. I just didn’t really care that much.

There was so little I could do, either way. The clergy had forced the monster’s hand, even after I warned them that he was not one to be trifled with. The bishop, the nameless and corrupted face from the Vatican, laughed in my face. “God will see us through,” he declared.

God saw them through, all right; right into the mouths of those dreadful gargoyles Vlad freed from Hell. One flew overhead of my position, an eyeball dangling from its mouth. The ghastly beast slurped it up as it continued its flight.

Those that weren’t eaten alive by daemons were turning into ash from the blazes forming. A man pushed his wife out of the way while he tried to escape. As another gargoyle feasted on her intestines, a fireball from the sky obliterated his head, sending brain matter everywhere. The rest of his body was incinerated by the red flames that engulfed it.

These scenes played out over the next hour until death was the only thing left. With some many humans flayed and charred, I was surprised not to see the Reaper himself harvesting the doomed souls. Maybe he was just out of sight, waiting for me to leave to do his dirty business.

The only one to survive that assault was me. The stench of the dead bodies was filling my nose and I’d have to leave soon. I was hoping to see Vlad Dracul, or The Impaler as his followers called him, emerge from his newest castle. The daemon man, the one who made a pact with the devil, took hold of this part of Europe. Because of his stupidity, his greed, I paid the price as well.

Who am I, you ask? I’m Vlad’s younger brother, Radu. Or that was my name, Radu died the day I was sucked into Vlad’s awful plan for bloodlust and pain. I renamed myself after the high Arch Angel, Gabriel. Even taking on a divine name doesn’t change the one simple fact: I’m a vampyre. Vlad, that damn fool, he dragged me to Hell kicking and screaming.

Underneath my wide brimmed, brown hat, my brown hair dripped from the sweat of the fire. I scratched the rough growth on my face and turned away. There was nothing else for me to do here. Because of who I was, my red eyes a dead giveaway, these people died from arrogance.

Well played, brother.

Where would I go next? I didn’t know. What I did know was that seeking the aid of the church would no longer help me gain what I needed to kill Vlad Dracul. If I had to sink into the depths of Hell itself to find what I needed, so be it. Maybe it would take a monster to kill a monster.

I had no problem becoming a monster. I already was one.

Chapter One

**Moldavia; 1775 the year of our Lord**

“Bartender, another!” I yelled over the raucous crowd. Having slayed another vampire the previous evening, I was in quite the celebratory mood. “In fact, another for everyone in the house!”

With a quick smile and a fast bottle, the bartender fulfilled my request. As each patron lifted their mug into the air, a jubilant roar for me was bellowed. “To Maximus Brinza!”

For those who are unfamiliar, the house of Brinza is one of the oldest in Moldavia. Much like my father before me, and his father before him, I took up the family occupation of defenders of the common people. Ever since the blood-daemon Vlad Dracul took hold of our countryside from Wallachia, it has been the responsibility of those who can protect to protect.

The previous evening, one of Dracul’s maiden vampires came into our town of Stefania (named after our greatest leader) to seduce and kill the men. Unfortunately, the bitch found me. Max Brinza doesn’t lose fights. With my sword, blessed in holy water and salt forged into the edges of the blade, the beast stood no chance. When its foul head hit the ground, the townspeople scooped it up and placed it on a pike by the gates. It hung there with the rest of the beasties I killed.

I felt a tug on my tunic’s sleeve. It was the bishop of our small village. “Max, this is the fourth attack this month. I feel the daemon is targeting this village,” he told me.

“Julius,” I said solemnly. “He’s coming for me.”

Julius and I grew up together, my path with the sword and his with the holy word. He was as much a defender against the night as I was. Given the battles we’d seen together, first as fellow soldiers and now in this capacity, it was only a matter of time that the dark lord of Europe would target me. I was a bit pissed it took him this long to recognize me as a threat.

Julius put his hand on my head. “Thank you Lord, for watching over Max yet again. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.”

No sooner did Julius finish his blessing then did the door to the bar fly open. “Maximus!” a young boy called for me. “My father, he’s been taken by one of them!”

Another so soon? “Lead me where child!”

I rushed up and left my ale on the bar top. The rest of the villagers in the tavern were hushed. Never before had two creatures come back to back like that. The night was cool and there was fresh powder on the ground from a brief mid-afternoon’s snow. I loved these conditions.

The boy led me to his homestead on the western edge of town. There was a fire where the mother was with a young child. “Stay here,” I told them all. I pulled my longsword from its scabbard. “Is this the way the foul creature went?”

The wife nodded her head, but didn’t speak. The path led behind a small barn which butted up against the woods. I followed the small path, worried that the father was dead and that this was an ambush. On the backside of the barn, there were splashes of blood. This wasn’t a good sign.

I heard a yell from the forest. I ran into it and almost ran into an older man. His shirt was ripped and he was bleeding profusely. “Are you the one abducted by the vampyre?” I asked him.”

Too terrified to speak, all he could do was nod his affirmative. “Go, your family is waiting for you. Tell everyone to seek shelter until I come back victorious.”

He seemed to acknowledge my request and he left the forest. His blood would be my trail to find the creature. And it didn’t take long. This one had a set of balls to him. He was standing around a fire, giving away his position to me.

I didn’t even bother to sneak up on him. “Have you come here to die tonight?”

He lifted up his head, covered in shadows due to a wide brimmed hat he wore. “That depends. Do you think you can kill me?”

“I haven’t lost to one of your kind yet.” His red eyes were a dead giveaway. Strapped to his hip was a longsword, not dissimilar to mine. The biggest difference was the silver skull at the end of the pommel. Matching me, he slid his out. The steel twinkled in the moonlight.

I’d never seen a vampyre use a sword before. There was something quite different about this one. He seemed distinguished, even regal. “You must be from his inner council,” I surmised.

“What are you talking about?” the vampyre fired back.

“Vlad Dracul. Obviously he sees me as a threat and sent an assassin.”

He smiled at me, his long fangs breaking free of his mouth. “I like you. You have spunk, Brinza.”

It knew my name! “This prove it!” I held my sword up high. “It is time for you to die, daemon.”

Our blades crossed, the beast easily blocking mine with minimal movement. The only thing my first attack accomplished was knocking his hat off. He was about my height, a few inches above average, with scraggy brown hair and scruff covering his face. Like most of his kind, the beast had an uncanny, unnatural handsomeness to him. He would easily be able to scoop women up and corrupt them.

There was something very distinct about the tunic he wore under his long coat. The crest that was woven in with gold thread was familiar but I couldn’t place it. He saw me gazing at it and swiped at me with his sword. I blocked and countered, stabbing at him to the gut. The tip of the blade pierced him, but not nearly deep enough to kill.

Amused, “I haven’t been touched by a blow in a long time.” He then proceeded to backhand me. It was a blow so hard, I couldn’t even see straight for a moment.

When my eyes could see, it was just in time to block his next attack. It was an overhand chopping motion, his technique was perfect. My sword took the blow, but it took both hands to keep his supernatural strength from overpowering me. He was using one hand and wasn’t even trying that hard. This asshole was toying with me.

That made me angry. I lashed out with my foot to his stomach. He wasn’t ready for that kind of roughhouse tactic. “I won’t be underestimated, vampyre!”

On his heels, I charged straight in with my shoulder and rammed him in the chest. I followed up with the pommel of my sword to the side of his head, drawing more blood. As I tried to finish the creature off with one last swipe to remove its head, he moved way too fast for me to see. Before I could defend myself, his hand was wrapped around my throat.

“Who was to die tonight, Brinza?”

“You,” I choked out.

He laughed one more time before he released me. “The rumors were true, an arrogant, hot headed soldier protects Stefania. Imagine my surprise when I find out it is the son of Ivan Brinza.”

“How do you know my father?”

“Much like you, he tried to kill me and failed. However, he came to join me on his last hunt.” The beast hung his head in shame. “That was the last time I came so close to fulfilling my destiny. I’m sorry he died that night.”

No one except Julius and I knew how my father died. He joined a group of warriors headed for Vlad’s castle to kill the creature once and for all. There were said to be no survivors.

“Liar,” I said softly.

“I have no reason to lie to my friend’s son.”

I spit on the ground. “Don’t desecrate my father’s memory with lies. You are no friend to the Brinza house.”

Ignoring me, “Not only was I Ivan’s friend, I was your grandfather, Denis’s friend. It was only a matter of time before I sought you out.”

“Who are you?”

He took off his coat, the full effect of his royal tunic and crests in full show. This was the crest of the house of Dracul, long before Vlad became a daemon. “The Impaler has no relatives. What sort of trickery is this?”

“Vlad has removed all evidence of information that could be used against him.”

The more I studied the creature, the more I could see a resemblance to the face we’d been taught to fear from the moment we were born. “What would a daemon like you want with my family? We hunt your kind and kill them.”

“My name is Gabriel. For three hundred years I’ve been waging a shadow war against my creator, to undue the curse he brought upon me. Certain houses have produced warriors that were more worthy than others.”

Gabriel sheathed his sword and reached out with his hand. “Before your father died, Ivan told me that the spirit of the clan was strongest in you. I’m here to recruit you, Max.”

This was too much to take in. There was sincerity in those blood red eyes and he knew the truth of my father’s death. Still, a part of my mind was unwilling to trust him, just based on what he was. I think Gabriel could tell, as well.

His hand was still out, waiting for me to accept. “There was a village where the church elders refused to believe me. Vlad called upon a rain of fire to wipe them out, just for fun. I tell you this in order to show you that I am trustworthy.”

“Those who proclaim their trustworthiness generally aren’t.”

Gabriel could see this was going nowhere. “I have one more thing to offer you.” I look at him sideways. What could he offer? “As a sign of good faith, I will tell you my real name. If you take this back with you and speak to some of the elders of your village, it should give you everything you need to know.”

“I accept this.” I placed my hand in his and shook it.

He gave me a bow. “My true name is Radu Dracul, youngest brother to Vlad himself.”

***

Thanks for sticking with me on this long opening post. As I said before, we’re going to go through this journey together, from opening draft all the way through to final edits and publishing. Please, feel free to leave comments, shoot me an email, whatever in regards to your thoughts on the story. We’re in this together now!

-Jeremy (jecebooks@gmail.com)

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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Project Updates

What’s the old saying? TGIF – yeah, thank goodness it’s Friday. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m glad the weekend is right around the corner. When you got a kid who’s almost one, the weekends are the two best days. Sometimes we go to the zoo, maybe fill up the pool and lounge, whatev’s. All I know is, when it’s Steph, Jak, and I, that’s when the magic happens.

tdw cover

So, the project updates, yes. First thing’s first; The Daemon Within is coming along famously. The story is shaping up to be one of the most in-depth ones I’ve told to date. If you’re familiar with the characters, Vic Inglewood’s back in the thick of it, this time in Chernobyl. You’d think being in a nuclear dead zone would be enough, but it’s not. Hey, who knows what other mystery locations will pop up to test our MC in crazy and inventive ways.

TDW isn’t the only thing I’m working on. My other project currently going is more of a revisit from years past, circa 2001. Back then, I was a college kid fueled on beer, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and pizza. Even in that mostly catatonic state, I was a creative writer. Young Jeremy had a dream of bringing a good old fashioned horror story to life. And that’s where we are today.

For this story, I’m going to do something different. I want you, the readers to come along on the process from start to finish. As chapters shape up, I’ll post them in their rough draft forms for everyone to read. My hopes are that you’ll A. like them and B. offer thoughts, criticisms, etc. The new Castlevania series on Netflix has re-inspired the drive to tell a tale that’s been in my head for years. Next week, we’ll start to make that a reality.

I think that’s everything. Okay people, let’s finish this weekend strong and get to the weekend. Play us out, Skeleton Band!

band

-Jeremy

All of my work can be found at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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The Salem Author Trials

salem author trials

There’s been an epidemic in the writing world lately, one that I knew about but ignored because, quite frankly, I didn’t give a damn. That was until a longtime reader of mine emailed me about it. When me, a mid tier author type guy, is getting emails about this, I guess it’s time to deal with it. I’ll let reader Cal introduce you to the issue:

Jeremy,

A number of authors I follow recently on their blogs have complained about other authors “buying their rank.” What do they mean by that? I’ve asked a few others, but no one has taken the time to email me back with some sort of explanation. To me, it looks like they are jealous of other people’s success.

Cal

The funny thing is, this is a hot button issue in the author community thanks David Gaughran and his latest blog (which you can find here) calling out people he’s deemed spammers for getting high rankings. I’ll let you read his accusations for yourself, I’m here today to rally against them.

I’m not naïve to realize we live in a world where everyone is guilty. Hell, even when they prove their innocence, they are still labeled guilty. The books Gaughran has personally called out are now flooded with terrible reviews from people who never bought the book. Those authors reputations are in the trash can, all on a hunch from an internet Amazon detective. And what happens if/when those authors prove their innocence? Not a damn thing. There’s no chance Gaughran goes back on his blog and issues an apology. Those seekers of justice who went out of their way to leave 2 to 3 word 1 star reviews? They are already on to their next target.

Could some of these authors have used nefarious means to make gains? Sure, but we have no way of proving it (and if you say you can, you’re just fooling either yourself or the readers for follow you). Even the trumpeted ‘Customers also bought’ people like to use as proof isn’t fool proof. I emailed Amazon on the issue and if enough people search for the same titles in a row, those titles will appear was the representative’s official answer. What do blogs like Gaughran’s do? They cause people to search for those titles back to back to back, etc…

I apologize if I got a bit soap box-y today. I’m just sick and tired of ‘experts’ with nothing better to do going out of their way to hurt others. Being an author is an absolute joy for me and for a lot of readers. Let’s keep it that way for crying out loud. I  just worry that this issue is going to be like the actual Salem Witch Trials, a lot of innocent authors are going to get burned at the stake without a shred of credible proof against them.

-Jeremy

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Release Day Special! The Negative Man: Prelude to Chaos (The Conclusion)

Whoa! You’re still here. Well, we made it through Prelude to Chaos today and now you should be all set to read Legends Can Die. Thank you to everyone who has been with me from the start of this journey, as it wouldn’t mean much without great readers.

On today of all days, let’s end this with a bang! Happy 4th everyone!

jcroston81-4_resized

Chapter 15 –

Christmas Day; Alameda Apartment Complex

I flicked the power on the old goggles and this time, they came to life. A nice radiant yellow color shined through, looking very intimidating. I pushed them over my eyes and saw the world in a whole new way. Maybe one day I’d have to work myself up a pair of these.

I fixed up the dings and scratches, too. They looked almost brand new. Figuring if I was going to do this, I’d do it right, I dropped them into a brown paper bag and wrote Merry Christmas in black pen on the bag. Planning to drop these off later, I had one other stop to make today.

I pulled up to the Cieslik house. I’m not sure why, I felt really bad about having to kill him the way I did. My guilt had spurred me to go out and buy a six pack and come over on Christmas. I knocked on the door and waited to see what would happen.

Danielle, Erin’s wife opened the door. “Jericho?” Her eyes were red and puffy, obviously from crying. “What’re you doing here?”

The real reason was something I’d have to keep to myself. Instead, “I figured you could use a drink and a friend today.”

She let me in and I saw the kids playing with some toys by a fully decked out Christmas tree. “Erin loved Christmas, that’s for sure.”

I plucked two beers from pack and handed her one. “Erin was a pretty decent guy. You think he’s still out there?”

She took a long sip before shaking her head no. “He loved his kids too much. No, he’s dead, that I know for sure.”

Yeah, I did too. We didn’t really say much more as we finished the six pack together. It was getting a bit later in the afternoon, so I got up to give the family some time. “Merry Christmas, Danielle. I’m sorry things have unfolded the way they did.”

“After the New Year, me and the kids are moving back east. It was Erin who wanted to live out here, not me.”

I bowed my head a bit. “Good luck. I hope everything works out.”

**Phil Jenkins**

I was sitting with Owen Walker at the bar, the only two people in the place on Christmas. “I know that charger was defective. I purposefully miss-wired it so it wouldn’t work.”

Walker tipped his whiskey at me. “Don’t worry about it, Phil. It would’ve been nice to keep that technology with us, but I have another plan in place.”

I finished my beer and another one immediately showed up. I started downing that one, too. “Is the group still in place? The plutonium core incident doesn’t change anything?”

“Phil,” he said as he placed his hand on my shoulder. “You’re such a worrier. Yes, as soon as we recruit a fourth member, our little group will be immobilized. There is a power vacuum in this city that we can very much take advantage of.”

I wondered how long it would take to get that fourth member. Either way, “Well, I’m out, Owen. Thanks for the Christmas beer.”

Another man walked through the bar door even before I put my money down to pay for my tab. It was Jeff Trelewicz. “Walker, Jenkins – I think I found the perfect guy to take up the Diamonds mask.”

The Cast –

Jericho Staley – The Negative Man

John Wonderton – The Dark Lion

Erin Cieslik – IT; Wonder-Tech

Dave Whisant – General; United States Army

Channel Esposito – Captain; Army Rangers

Joshua Pabon – Captain; Army Rangers

Valiant – Masters of Magic

Hilda – Masters of Magic

Danielle Cieslik – Erin’s Wife

Heather Adams – Lawyer; Wonder-Tech

Owen Walker – CEO of gl-O-bal

Phil Jenkins – R and D; Wonder-Tech

PJ Douglas – Massacre

Jeff Trelewicz – Security; gl-O-bal

Present Day…

I felt like shit. I opened my eyes and the light burned them. And the headache, oh my God it was killing me. A voice startled me. “It seems you’re finally awake, Mr. Cieslik.”

Awake, if you want to call it that. “Where – am – I?” My voice was hoarse, cracking with each word.

Two men entered my line of sight as my eyes adjusted to everything. “Mr. Cieslik, I’m the Secretary of Defense, Ronald Victory. You might remember the man to my left, General Dave Whisant. You worked for him previously.”

It was like a bad dream coming back to haunt me. “You’re the guy the hired me to steal the power charger.” My throat felt a bit better this time.

He stepped forward. In a friendly tone, “That I am. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out in that situation.”

“What do you –” Then a memory flooded back to me. My friend Jericho found out I betrayed the company. No wait, Jericho was The Negative Man! He killed me! Or at least I think he did…

Seeing me thinking over all of this, “You were dead, for about twenty-six minutes. But we saved you. You’re currently being held in a top secret facility underneath Dungeon Bay, outside of Pacific Station.”

What this Victory guy said made no sense. “How did you bring me back to life?”

“We needed a test subject,” Victory went on. “When General Whisant discovered your body in the water, we couldn’t believe what we found. Proof that The Negative Man was still in play here.”

My headache was starting to come back. “What did you do to me? Why do I feel so different?”

“In a minute.” Victory walked over and freed the restraints holding my arms. “It took the better part of five years, but we’ve perfected the serum just in time. Congratulations Mr. Cieslik. You’ve been promoted to my security detail.”

I stumbled forward, my body feeling like it didn’t belong to me. Through gritted teeth, “Tell me what you’ve done!”

Whisant answered for him. “Like Secretary Victory said, it took five years, but you’re the perfect specimen. We think because you have some residual power from The Negative Man flowing in your veins, the serum worked better. You my friend, well you’re Omega, the most powerful sentinel alive!”

“It is an honor, Erin. The ones we’ve released to various police departments are nothing compared to the power that is fully harnessed inside of you,” Whisant added.

“And with The Negative Man off the playing field, trapped in some coma over at Black Lagoon, it’s time we finish what we once started here in Pacific Station. And you my sentinel friend, you’ll lead the charge,” Victory said as he was laughing like a maniac.

I didn’t know what a sentinel was, but a cold, almost robotic presence was welling up inside me. It was starting to take over and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop it. “Nooooo!”

-Jeremy

You can find all my books at http://boltbookspub.wix.com/home

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