August 30, 2011

Shadowphoenix Requiem by J. S. Wayne-- A Quick Taste!


Welcome J. S. Wayne!






What is the name of your novel?


Shadowphoenix: Requiem


What first attracted you to writing vampire fiction?


I’ve always been fascinated by the versatility of vampire fiction, and the seemingly endless ways in which the genre has been imagined and reimagined.


Who is/are your main character(s) and is he/she a vampire?


Markus Latimore is a vampire in a very *snicker* different vein than most. His human wife, Robyn, is the great passion of his life and the person around whom his entire existence revolves. And as a magician, he also has some very nasty powers which he can call upon.  


How would you describe your vampire character?  Is he/she a lover or fighter?  Is the beast within held at bay?  Or does he/she go with her passions?


Honestly, Mark is both. He loves fully, gives of himself completely, and doesn’t hold back. But when someone arouses his rage, he is a deadly, calculating, remorseless predator who is utterly ruthless in achieving his goals. 


What are your thoughts on some of the traditional weaknesses of vampires?  Sunlight, crosses, wooden stakes etc.  Did you incorporate any of that into your fiction?  If not what were some of the weaknesses that your character must avoid?


Excuse me while I snicker into my sleeve.
Vampirism in Mark Latimore’s world is very different from the Stoker formula; it is a genetic condition which can be passed on to others under very rare circumstances. (Most of the time, the person undergoing the change dies because their bodies simply cannot tolerate the immense number of changes which the vampire virus wreaks on their system. 


Only ¼ of 1% of all people subjected to the vampire virus survive the change, which makes the vampire genotype self-limiting.) Vampires have to be extremely careful when having sex with humans; condoms are essential because of the dangerously high risk of passing on the virus. Only one blood type, B+, is resistant to the effects of the vampire virus. Vampires’ systems are also surprisingly delicate. If a vampire is allergic to seafood or peanuts, for example, exposure that would land a human in the hospital will kill them. But garlic will only hurt a vampire if they started out allergic to it, and vampires don’t exist solely or even mostly on blood. 


The only reason they have to ingest blood at all is because their bodies do not produce hemoglobin (the oxygen-bearing component in whole blood) naturally.
Sunlight affects each vampire differently. These effects range from none whatsoever to a lingering and painful death, depending on the vampire. Vampires cannot turn themselves into different things, grow wings, or vanish. They do, however, have the requisite supernatural speed and strength.


Crosses and other symbols of faith affect vampires much the same way they do humans; but they’re all but useless for stopping one. If a marauding vampire is after you, it doesn’t matter how many trinkets of faith you’re carrying; they might as well be so much tissue paper for all the good they’ll do to stop the vampire.


As far as fire, beheading, and wooden stakes? Well, do any or all of those to a human and see what happens. The same thing happens to a vampire? Say it ain’t so!!


A well-placed bullet will kill a vampire just the same as a human. So will a knife, a properly employed baseball bat, or any number of other implements of destruction; it may take a little more effort to really make it stick, though.


Go crazy and tell us about your book!  Include an excerpt if you like!


Blurb


Markus Latimore is not your usual vampire. Living in San Antonio with his human wife, he had perfected the masquerade he had been trained to live since birth. As a practicing occultist, he dedicated his days and nights to helping others and loving his wife. One favor for a friend changed all that. 


Within hours, his wife had been attacked, and his carefully orchestrated world began to crumble around him. Now, he must navigate a murky labyrinth of deception, duplicity, and death. Innocent lives hang in the balance, and he quickly learns that the stakes he's playing for couldn't be higher. To survive, he will have to do the unthinkable. 


For the first time in his life, he will have to fully embrace his nature. If he fails, there will be hell to pay. If he succeeds, the shadow world in which he moves will demand his death. 


Either way, he'll have to give the devil his due...


Excerpt Explanation: 


This is close to the end of the book, and Robyn’s well out of the picture. The devil worshipers have chosen a new target, Michelle Delacroix, and Mark has agreed to let her stay at his place for safety. The two have recently come to grips with their mutual attraction, but the eve of an impending war is no time for thoughts of romance. Or to reveal to your lover that you have a few . . . unusual attributes.


Chapter Thirty-One


Michelle was settled in the living room, happily watching Titanic; I could hear a wailing
pipe from the soundtrack, and shook my head to try to block out the distraction. I was studying aerial maps and copied blueprints of the factory, courtesy of Josh. He’d come through, in a big
way. Neatly clipped to the pictures was a tactical assessment concerning best points of entry,
known sentry posts, rotations of guards as best they could determine, and the armaments of
same.


It was pretty dismaying. I had to find a way to get in, when they had every entrance onto
the grounds and into the factory proper guarded by private, armed security that I had to bypass, find where the {devil worshipers} were assembling—too bad there were only half a dozen spaces that could fit that many people, I thought sourly—make pickup on Amanda McEvoy, and get back out again without getting us both killed.


It would only be the two of us against an army of them, and since Amanda would most
likely be in shock and/or drugged, that made it my individual ass against, best case, one hundred fifty of them. I only prayed that the DWs themselves wouldn’t be armed, or I was in heap deep shit.


I’d studied the surveillance on the factory. The security guards staggered their patrols to
be completely random. They might not pass one area for fifteen minutes, but then they could go through it three times in as many minutes. So best case scenario, I had fifteen minutes to get in
and out. Worst case, about the time I found the DWs, I’d have security nipping at my heels.
Either way, the odds were definitely not in my favor.


I had been staring at the factory data for so long I’d begun to slip into a trance state.
There was something obvious that I was overlooking here, and I was damned if I could think
what it was. I closed my eyes and considered what the report had to say about the security of the factory.


They had every entrance guarded about equally; so that meant two stationary men and
two rovers at each door who’d have to be neutralized, either wounded and incommunicado or dead. Then I had to get over the fence, which was crowned with razor wire and I was pretty sure would be rigged with motion detectors if I was lucky. If I was unlucky, they’d also have heat and pressure sensors on the fence, which would make it much worse, never mind that I didn’t think
they had the resources or the technical know-how to set it up. Of course, one of the benefits of being a vampire was that I didn’t have to actually touch the fence; it was only twelve feet high.


With a good enough running start, I could clear the fence and come down ten yards inside the perimeter off one jump. The only problem was that if I miscalculated my leap, the razor wire coiled across the top of the fence would cut me in half, from balls to eyebrows. That sounded
sufficiently unpleasant that I decided I’d see if I could find a better way.


Going in through the main entrance was too risky; that was where the latecomers would
be, and I would be too evident. If anyone challenged me, and I failed to say the right thing at the right time, Amanda McEvoy would never be seen again. At least, not alive.


I was driving myself slowly batshit, and I knew it. Somewhere along the line, I had
decided to shoulder the full weight of the blame for anything that happened as a result of the
DWs’ actions. Although common sense said to knock it off, I just kept right on, and now the
consequence was that when I needed to be sharp and paying attention, I was distracted by
thoughts of what would happen if I failed, rather than refusing to even consider the possibility of failure. It didn’t help matters that I was giving myself an acid stomach, which was gurgling and grumbling at my ill-treatment of it.


I slumped over the desk, feeling completely overwhelmed. This wasn’t like a week
where four people needed four different rituals for four different reasons and needed them all ASAP. If I couldn’t do it immediately, generally no harm would be done by waiting. This was as life-and-death serious as it got, and the immediacy of it was only too apparent.


I don’t know how long I sat there with my head sitting in the basket of my hands, willing
my brain to settle down so I could get a better view of what was what. But what brought me out of it was a pair of warm hands pressing into my shoulders. I didn’t open my eyes, but asked, “Is the movie over?”


“No, I had to switch tapes,” she said. “You look beat.”


“I feel it. There were six of them, with hockey sticks,” I groaned.


She began to rub at the junction of my neck and shoulders. “You’re all knots,” she
observed as she pushed in with her thumbs. “How long since you had a neck rub?”


“Not…”


“Since Robyn,” we chorused. “I knew that was coming,” she continued. “Well, relax,
because you’re not getting out of that chair until I’m done with you.”


“You’re the boss,” I muttered. I had to admit, it did feel good. Maybe when I woke up
tomorrow, my neck wouldn’t be so damned stiff.


“You like that?” she asked as she dug her fingers into a particularly stiff spot and got it to
unwind.


“Mmm,” I said. “I‘ll give you the rest of your life to stop that.”


She chuckled. “When I get done, you should take a hot bath.”


“Think I will,” I said drowsily. She was lulling me to sleep with her expert ministrations,
which had now gone beyond my shoulders and down my back, finding spots that I wasn’t even aware were tense until she encouraged them to relax. The feeling was absolute bliss, and I hung on the cusp of sleep for I didn’t know how long, until I heard the whisper of cloth hitting the
floor and noticed dimly that her hands were no longer working magic on my abused muscles.


“Mark?”


I opened my eyes to see Michelle standing in front of my desk, naked as the day she was
born. Her hands were positioned modestly over the essentials, her face was flushed, and she
looked breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful.


“I want you, Mark. If you have to do this tomorrow night, I want you now. I want you to
make love to me tonight. I want one night with you as my lover.”


I rubbed my eyes. “Michelle, the other night was wonderful,” I said honestly. “But like I
told you, there are things you don’t know about me.”


“It doesn’t matter,” she said breathily. “I want you. I want all of you. Everything that you
are, good or bad.”


“You don’t know what you’re asking,” I said, dry-mouthed.


“Oh, but I do,” she said, coming around the desk and taking my wrists. Then she leaned
down and laid another one of those ten-on-the-Richter-scale, someone-in-Peking-is-saying-“What-the-hell-is-that?” kisses on me. Kisses like that shouldn’t be legal, I thought. The
FDA should make them illegal, because they’re more addictive than heroin and harder to give up than nicotine. And being a smoker, I was in a position to know about that.


Common sense went right out the window at that point, along with the urgent need I had
to figure out ingress and egress at the factory. Other concerns had just taken top billing.


She undressed me hungrily, biting at my flesh like she was planning to tenderize me and
then devour me slowly. When I was as naked as she was, she crawled atop me and guided me into her warm softness, bypassing the preliminaries and going right for the prize, coaxing my tongue into her mouth and sucking it avidly.


“Mmph,” I grunted. Then, more urgently, “Mmph-er!”


“What’s the matter?” she gasped, bucking against me as though she was determined to
break through the floor.


“I’m not wearing a condom!” I protested.


“It doesn’t matter,” she cooed. “Just enjoy it.”


“Michelle, goddammit, you have GOT to listen to me!” I bellowed at full vampire volume.


She stopped, clapping her hands over her ears in evident pain, and looked at me as if I’d
hit her. She climbed off my lap and drew on her robe. “Fine,” she said frostily, “I’ll try to listen, considering the ringing in my ears.”


“Michelle, God help me, I didn’t want to stop you, but I didn’t have a choice,” I said
miserably, pulling on my jeans. “Let me explain why I stopped you, and then you can make your decision, okay?”


She nodded. “Okay,” she said unconvincingly.


“Here’s the deal,” I sighed. I had dreaded this moment my whole life, and now that it was
here, I felt like I’d just swallowed molten lead. Lighting a cigarette, I tried to figure out how best to approach the subject. Finally, I blurted it out.


“Michelle, I’m a vampire.”


She stared at me like I’d told her I was the bastard child of a squid and a duck-billed
platypus. “A vampire,” she repeated dully.


“Yes. A vampire.”


“And I’m supposed to believe this?” she asked incredulously, scrambling to her feet, her
lithe body tense. “You’ve thrown up every barrier that you could think of, they didn’t work, so now you decide to try an out-and-out lie?” she demanded.

“I’m not lying,” I said defeatedly. “I’ll prove it to you.”



“How?” she asked.


Before she could do more than blink, I had gone from sitting at the desk with my
cigarette to right behind her.


“Nice trick,” she said, her voice quivering just a little, “but I’ve seen David Copperfield
do the same thing.”


“Fine,” I said. “Hit me.”


“What?” she squeaked in disbelief.


“Hit me. Hard as you can, much as you want,” I said.


Lips trembling, she followed my instructions. Her first slap wasn’t much more than a pat,
and I told her so.


“I just denied you what you wanted so badly and that’s the best you can do?” I mocked.


“Try again.”


The next one was a vicious whip across my face, followed by a brutal backhand. The next
time she kicked me right in the groin, driving the wind out of me and my mouth open. My fangs began to extend, and I made no effort to stop them, making certain that Michelle could see them.


Her hand flew to her mouth, and she looked ill.


“Okay…” she whispered. “Do you…use those?” she asked.


I seized her by the hand, in the grip of that unique rage known only to vampires, and all
but dragged her downstairs and into the back room, where I kept my python and the rats. 


Picking up one of the rats, I deftly snapped its neck and drained it right in front of her.
Michelle’s flush of anger abruptly drained to the pallor of a ghost. She gasped as I
finished my drinking and disposed of the tiny corpse. Then I marched into the bathroom and
brushed my teeth with furious vigor while Michelle vomited into the toilet bowl.


“You really are a vampire, aren’t you?” she asked weakly when she had voided the
contents of her stomach.


I turned and looked at her, mouth open, my fangs still extended, and retracted them as she
watched. “Yes, I really am a vampire,” I told her.


“Oh my God,” she said weakly.


“It gets worse,” I told her matter-of-factly. “Let’s go upstairs.”


She was still very pale when we got into the living room, and I poured her a generous
jigger of brandy. She slugged it back and spent the next minute and a half gasping and heaving.


When she finally settled down, I went into the office and grabbed the file on vampirism that I had kept for just such an occasion, hoping I‘d never actually need it. I handed it to her without
comment and waited patiently for her to read it.


“Now do you understand?” I asked, when she looked up, her eyes brimming with tears
and comprehension. “I can’t take that kind of chance with you. An hour’s worth of pleasure
could kill you a lot faster and a lot more painfully than AIDS. That’s why we have to use a
condom if we’re going to do it at all.”


“Did Robyn know about this?” she asked, slamming the file closed.


“No,” I said heavily. “I thought I could keep it from her. What I didn’t think about was
the fact that our child would probably be a vampire too, and I would have to explain how that came to be.”


“But it didn’t make her into a vampire, right? I mean, you two were holding hands for a
long time before that ever came up.”


“No, it didn’t. What’s your blood type?” I asked.


“A negative, I think,” she replied. “Why?”


“Because people with B positive, like Robyn, seem to be much more resistant to the
retrovirus that I carry in my body fluids.”


“Can you get it from a kiss?” she asked, looking green again.


“No,” I said. “You couldn’t get it from saliva unless I deposited a lot of it in a major,
open blood vessel. But vampirism has to be treated like any other STD, Michelle. I didn’t know this either, until recently. Most vampires only breed with other vampires, so it’s not an issue. I’m pure-born, and didn’t know until recently that there was any other way.”


“You can go out during the day,” she said accusingly. “I thought vampires couldn’t do
that.”


“I’m a porphyriac,” I told her. “I can go out during the day as long as I put on sun block
with an SPF of 36 or better. I usually use SPF 50 just to be on the safe side. I also have to wear sunglasses, because I’m more accustomed to darkness than light.”


“What about garlic?” she asked.


“Love it,” I said. “I’m not allergic to it. But seafood, or any kind of fish, for that matter,
could kill me.”


“Crosses?”


“Myth. Christian hysteria about something they couldn’t understand,” I said dismissively.


“Running water?” she asked, looking a little desperate.


“Makes for a pretty stinky vampire if I can’t bathe,” I told her. “And as you’ve seen, I do
cast a reflection in a mirror.”


“What else can you do?” she asked.


I stood up, walked over to her, and picked her up over my head, while she shrilled her
head off. When I put her down, she was breathing hard from the exertion of making that much fuss, but I hadn’t put that much into it: I could lift about five of her, seven or eight if I strained, and that assumed that I wasn’t angry or scared at the time.


“I can move faster than the average human, I can smell more than you do, and I can see
almost as clearly in the darkest night as you can on an average sunlit day,” I told her. “Also, right now…” and here I did my Flash impersonation, leaning up against the doorframe in the kitchen, so I had the entire width of the room between us, “I can hear your heartbeat from here.”


“Oh, my God,” she wailed, and crumpled to the floor. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my
God,” she muttered over and over, hugging her knees and rocking.


“Michelle!” I barked. When she looked up, I said, “Snap out of it.”


I knelt beside her and put my index finger under her chin. “Look at me, okay?”


She focused on me, eyes wide with fear. It hurt, but I knew it was coming.


“I’m still me,” I assured her. “The man you know hasn’t changed any, he just…he just
has another level that you didn’t know about.”


She stared at me for a minute, then blinked rapidly and stood up. “Well, that explains that
comment you made about not belonging here,” she said briskly.


I looked her up and down, feeling lost and hopelessly alone. “I’ll understand,” I said
tonelessly, “if you’ve changed your mind about wanting me tonight.”


She met my eyes for a moment, and then turned away.


“I’ll have to think about it,” she said numbly. “Go do your thing. I need to be alone for a
while,” she said, before turning and walking into her room. I watched her go with a horrible
sinking feeling of loss, and damned myself to a hell I didn’t even believe in for having ethics that were better developed than my overwrought hormones.


You can purchase Shadowphoenix: Requiem at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/70675 , 


and check me out on the Web at http://www.jswayne.wordpress.com, 


http://www.wix.com/jswaynesite/herebemonsters, 


on Facebook (Author.JSWayne) 


and on Twitter (@jswayne702)!










Thank you so much for having me here today!


Thanks for Dropping by!  - Clare

August 4, 2011

Is Darlene Fredette "Keeping Secrets"? Let's Find Out!





Keeping Secrets 


Blurb


Samantha Witherspoon is a strong, independent, businesswoman, determined to prove her worth as the heir to her late-grandmother’s chain of cafés. When she clashes with Matt Sullivan, the stubborn contractor who refuses her renovation project, Samantha returns to her childhood home to convince him. Sparks fly, tempers flare, and Samantha quickly realizes that befriending the rugged contractor isn’t as easy as she thought.


Despite her reservations, desire ignites between them under the city stars of Montreal. Matt’s mere touch makes her long for the kind of love Samantha thought she’d never have. When a mystery box reveals devastating family secrets, Samantha decides it’s time to come-clean with Matt. But before she can, her own secret arrives on her doorstep. Samantha’s heart is torn. Will a promise made to her late-grandmother prevent her from finding true happiness? 




Keeping Secrets Excerpt


Samantha’s ears twitched at the sound of a crackling coming from the ceiling just above her. She watched as a trickling line split and plaster showered downward like a heavy rainfall.


Suddenly a set of strong arms encircled her and held her tightly, taking the breath from her chest. Her feet were lifted from the concrete floor and she was yanked backward, slamming her and her rescuer into a wall. An image out of a romance novel, where the hero sweeps the woman of his dreams into his arms, declaring his everlasting love, flashed through her mind…until another large piece of plaster fell from the ceiling, crashing loudly on the floor before shattering into thousands of tiny pieces. Samantha no longer saw a vision of two lovers, but one of her, crushed under the debris. She took several deep breaths.


Hammers stopped and were followed by the rush of work boots running across the concrete. “Matt, you okay? Is the lady hurt?” they asked. “That was a mother of a close call!” another said.


Her hero ignored the men and set her back on her feet. His once warm brown eyes were now cold and throwing daggers. “What the hell are you doing here?”


“I...I was...looking for you.” Winded, her breathing was heavy.
From the drooping brows and harsh pressed lips, she could tell Matt was not at all happy to see her, but Samantha couldn’t have been more pleased. Her search was over and the incredibly attractive man she had been seeking had rescued her.
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