Tag Archives: writers

Choose “The Alternative” Blog Tour With Suzanne Burke!

Greetings and welcome to another stop on author Suzanne Burke’s blog tour in support of her latest novel. Take it away, Suzanne…

Welcome to Day 7  of my Choose “THE ALTERNATIVE” Blog Tour.

With my grateful thanks to my marvelous host.

Thank you for joining me here.

BLURB

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

***

My fiction works are character driven.

Today I share with you a character interview with FBI Special Agent, Meredith Adams. A pivotal character from Chapter 1 Picasso.

Meredith Adams takes on a case that will take her into the crazed world of a narcisistic sociopath.

The case will become a lingering nightmare that will forever permeate her rare sleeping hours.

We find her,  tormented by her previous choices. She appears to hover in a wasteland of indecision. Until …

“Agent Adams, what is it about this particular case that troubles you so deeply?”

I can’t recall a time when I have ever felt so utterly helpless. I’m trapped by decisions I’ve made, decisions crafted by my own belief that our justice system with all its inherent faults must be upheld.

Yet I know that nothing we can do will ever change the fact that sixteen girls have had their futures irrevocably altered.

“Do you now regret those choices, Agent Adams?”

Regret? Dear Lord, you have no idea. You need to understand something. To you these girls are just tragic photographs that shocked you just for as long as it took something else horrific to appear on your screens.

They will never be just images to me. They have become my friends. I’ve watched them struggle to survive, and I’ve watched on in rage and sadness as six of them lost that struggle

So, regret doesn’t even begin to come close. This thing gnaws away at my innards like a ravenous cancer. There is not one night in recent memory that I don’t still see their mutilated fourteen year old faces. I still hear their torment.

“If there were a way for you seek retribution, would you take that path?”

“Well, would you, Agent Adams?

I’m sorry, this interview is now at an end.

“Just one more question, Agent Adams?”

“Agent Adams … ?”

“I apologise. My guest appears to have left the room.”

You’ll discover the outcome inside the pages of “The Alternative”

Karma has no deadline.

I do hope you’ll join me.

My thanks again to my supportive host.

My thanks to the marvelous crew at 4Wills Publishing for arranging my blog tour.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

“The Alternative” NOW Available Amazon.com

 

Author Bio:

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

 

Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

“This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.”

 

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Introducing #RRBC Spotlight Author Jan Sikes!

Greetings! It is my pleasure to share my blog today with the June 2018 Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author. Jan Sikes is not just a fellow author, she is somebody that I am honored to call my friend! Take it away, Jan…

THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

 The second book in the series was, without a doubt, the hardest to write. This book required extensive research and countless hours spent poring over letters and writings from Rick’s hand. I wanted to get it “right.” And, since I wasn’t personally present for the majority of the prison scenes, I had to rely on stories he’d told me and writings he left behind.

I even called Leavenworth Prison and spoke to the Social Director to confirm some facts about the recording studio Rick built inside.

The other challenge was bouncing back-and-forth between Luke in Prison in Kansas and Darlina in Texas. Keeping the timeline straight brought about more than one re-write.

But, the end result is a book I am proud of, that has garnered thirty-four Five-Star reviews.

 

Here is the back cover blurb:

 

Award-winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.

Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.

Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

 

PURCHASE LINK

 

 

CONNECT WITH JAN:

 

 

TWITTER    FACEBOOK    BLOG    WEBSITE    LINKEDIN    PINTEREST     

 

Thank you for taking this RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR tour with me! See you at the next stop.

 

Letting Inspiration Take the Wheel

 

What drives my spirit? That is such a wonderful question. So often we live life in the past, nursing ancient grudges and scarred-over wounds inflicted by those for whom we once cared, or it’s spent reliving some special moment in time when all seemed right in the world. We focus so much on the past—and even the future—that we forget to appreciate the present. As writers, we can use those old wounds as plot lines for another compelling story, a life-affirming essay, or a cautionary tale. As human beings, we must learn to live for today before our time here is finished. We must seek balance. Living life in the here-and-now is what truly drives my spirit. We are not promised tomorrow, and yesterday cannot be relived. But just look at all the inspiration to be discovered today!

 

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Letting Inspiration Take the Wheel

What drives your spirit? It’s a simple enough question—though the answers can be quite complicated. As writers, inspiration is that very substance that leads us on our journey of telling believable stories. But what about those who don’t write?

Inspiration drives my spirit. And not just the writer side of me, either. Through three of my young nieces, I have been inspired to giggle like a schoolboy again. These lovely girls just have that sort of charm. We lost their father—my youngest brother—some years ago. This loss came rather suddenly, and, for the most part, unexpectedly. As a then-forty-three-year-old man, that news knocked a hole in the very center of me. I took the loss rather personally. What the heck were all those prayers for if they’d only gone ignored? And I wasn’t the only one praying for my brother. I went into a dark place afterward, found myself angry and confused. I all but abandoned my prayer life. I mean, what’s the sense of praying if God either won’t listen or just says no? (For the record, I still believe in prayer.)

To say my brother had a talent for making babies would be an accurate statement. He left nine children fatherless when he passed away—including a newborn baby boy who will never know his father. But these girls, they were five, seven, and eight at the time. They knew their father. They would certainly miss him in ways none of us will ever comprehend without having lost a parent at such young years. These same girls are beautiful and silly and kind and so full of life. It’s that silliness that is infectious. They make me laugh. But even more so, they make me giggle—much like a schoolboy. They’ve not forgotten their daddy. They’ve just bounced back the way kids will. They see there is still life left to be lived. They’ve quietly inspired me to follow suit.

They need not be tragic, those circumstances driving our spirits. Some of my greatest inspirations have been found languishing in boxes beneath tables at so many yard sales. A 1965 telephone directory for my home town led to the writing of one of my most-read essays. I mean, think about it: A telephone book. Who writes about that sort of thing?

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Consider the lost history found in the pages of that directory and you’ll see where inspiration stirred her magic inside of me. My father, a young newlywed and first-time dad, is forever a nineteen-year-old with his entire future ahead of him between those pages. Restaurants that catered to my parents’ generation are still open for business within those musty pages. Long-dead relatives remain alive at former addresses that, in the real world, no longer exist. This time capsule conjures all sorts of soul-driving inspiration. It can lead one to write essays or short stories based on such a find. It can also inspire a deep inward examination of self. Have I lived up to their legacies? Am I reaching accomplishments of which my lost ancestors would be proud? I think so—at least at this point in my life. See, my grandfather and father, both deceased, were aspiring writers. They found inspiration to craft short stories and, in the case of my grandfather, a memoir of his teen years, working aboard a Mississippi River paddle wheel steamboat. Neither my father nor grandfather ever found fulfillment in seeing their work published. I have to believe they’d both be thrilled to know I succeeded in that area.

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I believe inspiration dwells among the living, daring us to seek it, to discover it, to make it our very own, allowing it to drive our spirits to greater heights.

A few years ago, I moved to the country after years of living within the city limits. Night time in the country, out among corn and soy bean fields, is vastly different from night time for city dwellers. In the city, there are lights everywhere, making it next to impossible to look up and admire God’s handy work. But there are no lights—outside of the moon—here in the country. I find myself stepping out to the back patio or to the front porch many nights, just to look up at the millions of stars flung against the expanse of an inky-black sky. It’s a simple pleasure, really, but one I have come to truly cherish. This, too, inspires me. The night sky has a way of making even the biggest soul feel small and insignificant. It puts life and the cares of living into a proper perspective. These are the same stars the ancients gazed upon thousands of years ago. Three wise men searching for the newly-born Messiah used the brightest of these stars to guide their way. Ancient Egyptians built temples and ascribed names to these same heavenly bodies. Sailors relied upon these beacons to lead them to brave new worlds beyond the shores to which they’d been born.

Those stars will still be here long after all of us are dead and forgotten.

Did somebody mention the dead? Yes indeed. Even obituaries offer some of the greatest inspiration to those of us left behind. And you need not have even known the deceased. Obituaries are often small biographies detailing lives lived to the fullest. A few years ago I stumbled across a death notice of a woman named Merrien Josephine Cushman-Vail. Merrien died at age 100. That in itself is quite an accomplishment. One hundred years? Just imagine the things she witnessed during her time on planet Earth. But it’s her childhood story that really grabbed hold of my spirit and demanded an essay from me.

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In any good story there is that jumping-off point, that one big moment that sets the stage for what’s to come. For Merrien Josephine Cushman, that big moment came a few weeks before her 14th birthday way back in 1927. The young girl had achieved excellent marks, and because of this, there’d been no need of her presence in class on a fateful May day. She offered to walk her 7-year-old brother, Ralph, to school that morning, the way she normally did. But the boy declined his big sister’s gesture, not wanting the other kids to tease him.

Merrien had busied herself picking flowers when she heard the explosion that ended her little brother’s life.

On May 18, 1927, a disgruntled 55-year-old school board treasurer, angry over his defeat in the spring 1926 election for township clerk, rained mayhem upon the tiny community of Bath, Michigan. Andrew Kehoe had spent the better part of a year quietly hiding dynamite and incendiary pyrotol in the basement of the Bath Consolidated School. A timing device ignited the horror that quiet May morning, killing 45 people, 38 of which were children, while injuring 58.

In today’s world, such acts of inhumanity seem almost commonplace. Grief counselors are often on call to help children deal with the unimaginable. But way back in 1927, there existed no such occupation as grief counselor. Survivors like Merrien were left to deal with the wounds and scars on their own. But deal with it, Merrien did. She went on to enjoy a full and happy life, marrying Clare Vail and raising a family of five daughters and two sons.

“You just have to make up your mind to get through it, if you want to go on,” she told her children whenever they’d experienced tough times. “There’s no other choice.”

I wrote an essay inspired by this amazing woman. And had it not been for her obituary, I may not have found that spark needed to start the creative fire.

 

A pair of great song writers have claimed dreams as inspiration for some of their master works. Paul Simon tells the story of the way many of his best songs came to him while he slept. He’d wake in the morning and there they’d be, sitting front and center in his mind, just waiting for his guitar to add melody and texture to those words sown like seeds in the night.

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Paul McCartney has listed numerous points of inspiration for his immense catalog of music. The song “Yesterday” came to him in his sleep. The melody had such a familiar feel, he became convinced it belonged to some other musician, a song heard on the radio perhaps. The same can be said for another of McCartney’s greatest compositions. But this time a lyric in his song “Let It Be” supposedly came to him in a dream featuring his late mother Mary. According to Sir Paul, he’d been wrestling with the idea of leaving The Beatles. The way he saw it, they’d run their course. Cracks had long formed within the band, causing divisions and hard feelings. Should he stay or should he go? That question found its answer in his mother’s otherworldly admonition to just let it be.

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I suppose that’s just the way the soul works in some people. John Lennon’s brilliantly nonsense-laden gem “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” is the result of a simple drawing his young son Julian had conjured of a girl in his class.

George Harrison wrote the beautiful “Here Comes the Sun” one early spring morning while sitting in his garden playing guitar with friend Eric Clapton. When inspiration arrives, greet it with open arms and a ready pen.

Without inspiration, human beings go nowhere, see nothing, and contribute little—if anything at all—to society. In the absence of creativity, the soul withers and dies long before the body will. Think of any single invention man has ever created and there will be some person, notion, or purpose that has inspired the inventor.

What about those creative souls that wow the world before vanishing from our collective conscience? One hit wonders, is what society has branded them. Look at Harper Lee, who wrote one of the greatest novels in the history of writing and then offered nothing else. Sure, there’s a “new” release from the storyteller, though that seems to be a manuscript written before To Kill A Mockingbird.

How many musicians have written that one great song, only to find an empty tank when seeking to create their follow-up? Does inspiration dry up? Does it die? Has it left us for another? Inspiration certainly changes because our appreciation changes. As we grow older, wisdom takes root within us. A subject we may write about as young people may not be something we hold onto any longer as we age. Those songs about young love and partying and living a carefree existence are entertaining when written by a young soul. But let’s face it: The songs Taylor Swift writes and sings would come off as ridiculous coming from an older soul like Loretta Lynn.

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Inspiration never dies or leaves us. It changes as we grow up. Those who fail to recognize such changes will eventually wither and fade. We begin to compete with self, attempting to re-capture the same processes that went into those early creations that helped establish who we are as writers or musicians or actors or inventors. An audience, no matter how loyal, will always see when a soul has ceased growing.

A quote from the late author Jackie Collins implores us scribes to write what we know. That sounds fine on the surface. After all, if we are ignorant of a subject, why take the chance of coming off a fool? But if our world is limited due to circumstances beyond our control, our work will reflect that need for experience and thus may be found lacking. Inspiration allows us to step out from under those constraints. It is inspiration that pushes us to investigate a matter. Research is itself a great fuel in driving the soul to create. I knew very little of the Roaring Twenties or Mississippi or New Orleans or jazz music—until inspired to research these subjects for my novel Jazz Baby. The deeper I dug down, the more inspired I became. The past came alive before my eyes. Books and photos and old music recordings sprinkled flavors throughout my imagination, breathing life into the story I intended to tell. I learned about these things so I could write about these things. That’s how creativity works.

A well-told story is, to me, one of the greatest joys on planet Earth. By well-told, I don’t mean proper punctuation or sentence construction or even strong writing mechanics. A well-told story is simply one that is believable. The characters are so real and so vivid the readers begin to care about your protagonist. They begin to despise or pity your antagonist, even viewing that character with suspicion. The story will read as a truthful recounting of some event that has its roots in your spirit, your mind, and no place else. A well-told story will transport us to faraway lands while transforming our own opinions on a matter we’ve maybe never really considered. It will burn itself into the psyche, forever remaining mere steps from our thoughts.

I’ve read several amazing books that remain with me in this fashion: The Poisonwood Bible, Winter’s Bone, The End of Alice. Every so often, a scene from one of these masterpieces will disrupt my thoughts, usually unbidden, and remind me why it is I enjoyed reading that particular work. When that happens, I’ll grab one of those lives from my box of books, and begin again thumbing those pages, sampling portions of brilliance, often discovering some great line or scene I may not have appreciated during that initial reading.

What drives my spirit? Life and the effort required to live it to its fullest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Quest for Vision!

Visionary.

It’s a word that we’ve all heard bandied about from time to time, usually attached to some famous figure in history known for inventing something important that has changed the nation—or the world—in ways modern generations could not contemplate living without. Take Steve Jobs for example. Mr. Jobs is considered a true visionary. He’s the father of the modern personal computer, a device with which a life without would seem unimaginable in this modern world. Or consider Henry Ford, automotive tycoon. Mr. Ford certainly didn’t invent the automobile, but he did perfect the assembly line, bringing costs down, allowing for the common people to afford their very own car—and through employment in Ford’s factories, a stronger middle class arose.

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The Oxford American College Dictionary contains multiple definitions for this complex yet simple word. The definition I like best reads as stated: a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

The Oxford could be very well be describing a writer. Writers, by nature, are visionaries. Writers, in the name of creativity, must envision worlds that do not exist, populated with people that are not real. But the above definition mentions only the future. What about the past? Can a writer be a visionary in regards to a time that has already faded? The answer is most certainly yes. We construct alternate accounts of real events—like making Abraham Lincoln into a vampire hunter. A program on an internet site’s streaming service poses a world in the 21 century seen through the lens of a Nazi victory in World War Two.

Abraham-Lincoln-Vampire-Hunter

But being a visionary, it runs deeper than merely being a creative writer—or musician or artist. In a sense, everybody is a writer. If you write emails or texts, you are a writer. Here’s where the differences come into play. Not everybody is an author. Writers are not all authors. There are those who write down their personal thoughts and experiences in the pages of diaries or journals, never intending any other living soul to pry. Authors, they have to be bold and brave. They write to be read. If the words we seek to share with others are not visionary, you can bet you’ll hear from those who invested the time in sentences we’ve strung together.

Diaries, texts, personal correspondences; these are not meant to entertain the reader.  These are merely there to convey a message or to act as reminder to the future self that, on this particular day, so-and-so made me angry or happy or sad.

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Authors, writing to be read, must envision their story from beginning to end—before the writing process begins. We must see what does not, at this juncture, exist anywhere in this world. This will almost certainly require research of some sort—unless you’re creating your own Middle Earth setting. Research itself requires vision.

In beginning my work on Jazz Baby, I needed a road map through the 1920s. I am just past the half-century mark, having drawn my first breath of life in 1967. I had nothing by way of personal experience to shade my notions of the America of 1925. And we can’t just assume, either. Assumption is an enemy of the visionary.

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As I started to dig into my research, scenes from my story began to construct themselves behind my eyes. Scraps of paper quickly filled with ideas found within the pages of an old U.S. history book; situations came to life while watching documentaries on PBS or The History Channel. They didn’t have radio in their cars until 1932—so scrap the scene where the characters are driving to New Orleans singing along to jazz tunes on the radio. So how do we fill that void? Dialogue! These characters are now forced to speak to one another, sharing hopes and fears, and in the process, introducing their deeper selves to those who would come to read the finished product. A visionary finds ways to stay on point when something like reality cuts in and says, um, that can’t be. We make it work. And we don’t just make it work; we use it for the profound or the poignant. Statements are made in those quiet moments between Emily Ann and Tanyon—statements that wouldn’t exist had I stuck a radio in that car.

Being visionary is about seeing what’s not there, seeing it in multiple views, and possessing the ability to determine the best view. It doesn’t work very well to write about characters of which we know little or nothing. Vision allows us to see these characters, to meet them, to discover the personalities behind mere words on a page. To the visionary writer, his or her characters truly come alive before they ever occupy space on the page.

The fact is anybody can write a story. But the visionary writes the sort of stories people will want to read. The really good ones build a following of readers just waiting for the next story to unfold. The best storytellers throughout history possessed vision. And it’s that vision that gives both the writer and the story life eternal. Those without vision, well, nobody recalls the stories they’ve told. Nobody remembers their names.

 

 

Introducing A Bright New Writing Talent

Greetings, readers! Today, I would like to share with you a talented new voice in the writing world. Please give a warm welcome to Ellie Collins…

Introducing….

Introducing a bright and fresh new face in the publishing world – an author with a creative and unique voice and viewpoint!

Ellie Collins, 11, is preparing to publish her debut book, Daisy, Bold & Beautiful, the first in a series of middle grade books.
Who is Ellie?
First and foremost, she’s a gymnast, on both a girls gymnastics team…
…and a trampoline and tumbling team.

She plays piano…
And she studies hard in the sixth grade.
And when she’s not doing any of that, she’s playing video games or hanging with her friends. She always finds time for reading, though, and she’s a huge fan of Greek mythology. It was that genre that inspired her upcoming book. Until it hits the shelves (tentatively scheduled for April 1st, 2018), she’ll be by to share a bit of Greek myth trivia with you each week. Just like this:

Join us next week for another exciting Greek Mythology Minute with Ellie. She’ll have her book description ready to share for the first time, too! Have a wonderful week, everyone!
UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE 
Hi everyone! Here’s this week’s edition of Greek Mythology Minute! As promised, I’m including the description for Daisy, Bold & Beautiful. Please tell me what you think and let me know if there’s anything I can do to make it better. Thanks! Have a great week and I’ll see you back here for next week’s EXCITING episode of Greek Mythology Minute! Oh, and you can also see that update (and others) on my brand new Facebook author page. Check it out!  🙂

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful ~

It’s April Fool’s Day. D.J. stumbles her way through her first day at her new school, convinced she’ll be picked on for being the biggest fool of all when she can’t find her classes.

Luckily, an awesome group of three girls adopt her as their new bestie. D.J. can’t believe her good fortune – except for one little detail. She has nothing in common with her fast friends.

How do you tell a group of extreme, hard-core gamers that you’re a…gardener? Do you risk losing your new friends by admitting to who you really are and what you really like to do? Wouldn’t it be safer to just try to learn to love video games?

D.J. is gifted with some words of wisdom from the best gardener of all – Persephone, the Goddess of Spring. Will she take Persephone’s advice? And what assistance does D.J. have to offer the goddess?

Introducing Vashti Quiroz-Vega: #RRBC Spotlight Author

We’re getting 2018 started on an exciting note. Today, I have the privilege of sharing my blog with a highly-touted up-and-coming indie author. Introducing Vashti Quiroz-Vega. . .

VASHTI

Fall From Desire

By Vashti Quiroz-Vega

 

For my transgressions, I was cast out of Heaven and exiled to planet Earth.

My fall was brutal as my six large white wings caught fire entering the Earth’s atmosphere. I cringed and screamed as the flames consumed feathers and flesh. I looped and spiraled in the air, all the while stirring and reaching toward the flames, but there was no relief from the oppressive pain or the stench of roasted flesh. The fire was quenched when only the burnt bones of my wings remained. I wailed writhing in the air as the blackened bony frames were yanked from my skeleton by a powerful force. This is what the male angels I led astray with my insatiable carnal appetite experienced as they fell from grace. I deserve worse for corrupting so many.

I splashed into a swamp.

The only light source was the brilliance of a full moon.

The swamp was dominated by woody plants and teeming with animal life. The water pushed down on me from all sides. I floundered and flailed my arms and legs, which made me sink faster. I sank further and further into the swamp and away from the light of the moon. Soon, I was shrouded in darkness. My lungs burned for air. In horror, I screamed and warm, murky water filled my lungs. I shook and convulsed as alligators, snakes and all manner of swamp creatures witnessed the water take me away.

I opened my eyes. I was floating over the water. I survived? I was not sure how long I was unconscious, only that it was a different night—for the moon was no longer full. I trembled in fear and remained still, allowing the current to carry me wherever it may. As I came near the bank of the swamp, I took hold of a cypress’s knee, clambered to my feet and waded out of the water. I teetered and faltered, inexperienced in walking without wings. I am no longer an angel. The realization pierced my heart. What am I now? I broke the rules of celibacy in Heaven and tempted so many to do the same with my female ways. My lustful desires and sexual appetite were my ruin. Now I am alone, never to feel the pleasure of a caress.

 

My wide eyes flickered in every direction, trying to find a way out of the desolate and wild place. The potent, musky smell of decomposing vegetation and animal matter wafted into my nose, making me grimace with revulsion. There were no such smells in Heaven. Oh, how far I have gone from Heaven’s joyful fragrances!

I staggered in circles, my feet sinking into the spongy, wet ground. The humidity was so dense in this habitat that wetness covered everything. A film of moisture glazed my naked body. Water soaked my long, ginger hair and pulled my curls flat. I heard the hooting of an owl. I turned toward a nearby tree and there it was, lurking in the shadows. Its large glowing eyes stared at me. Snakes slithered around my feet. Alligators remained immersed as they peered at me with their strange eyes peeking over the surface of the water. Where am I? There are only wetlands as far as I can see. How am I to survive here? I was not sure I wanted to live––not here. My body trembled, and desperate tears meandered over my cheeks and mingled with the moisture on my face. No one can hear me cry. I walked for miles. There were many sunrises and many moonrises, yet I remained alone in a world of swamps.

Swarms of mosquitos tormented me with their stinging and their buzzing in my ears. I had to deter countless attacks from snakes and alligators. I was covered in welts, bumps, scratches, bites and bruises from such attacks. My body itched, ached and throbbed. I deserve no less for sating my erotic desires without a second thought for the countless archangels, seraphim and cherubim I debauched with my impious, enticing and lustful ways.

I continued to wander the soggy swampland and began to feel an unfamiliar burning sensation in my middle. My strength was depleting, and I dragged my feet and panted. Feeling faint, I collapsed. I lay on the water-saturated ground and looked up at the heavens. What is happening to me? What have I become? I lay frozen for hours, feeling so alone, waving off a plethora of insects trying to invade my body. I would rather draw my last breath than spend the rest of my days alone in this sodden nightmare.

 

“What are you?” A masculine voice asked.

I jolted upright in a seated position and stared at a magnificent creature. “I––I do not know what I am. I have only knowledge of what I used to be.”

“Very well, then what were you?” He squinted his eyes and his eyebrows came together as he stared.

“I was once called Rachiel––when I was an angel in Heaven.”

He looked at me sideways. “You do not look like an angel to me.”

“Have you ever seen an angel?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I have, and angels have wings.”

“I, too, had wings. Large white wings—six of them.” My voice quavered. “They were torn from me as I fell through the skies.”

He scrutinized me for a while with his piercing violet-blue eyes. “I believe you. I am not sure why, but I do. Perhaps something in your verdant eyes tells me you do not know how to lie.” His wide smile was stunning and dripping with a silent threat. “My name is Mendrion.” He was tall. His hair long, thick, the color of nightfall. Lengthy, heavy eyelashes framed his violet-blue eyes. His skin was like an ivory mist. He looked like divine pleasure. Enough, Rachiel! This is why you were cast out of Heaven! I shuddered and exited my own head.

I gawked at his muscular body while he stared at my face and came closer. He searched for some of my hair that was not soiled, grabbed some and sniffed. He proceeded to nuzzle his nose against my neck, my shoulder, the top of my breasts. I closed my eyes and shivered with both fear and pleasure. He breathed me in, taking in my essence. He looked up. I opened my eyes, and he stared into them. Then he walked around me, slowly, as he evaluated every inch of my bare body. He parted the long hair that fell down my back and saw the jagged stubs from where my wings used to stem. He passed his hands over them with a gentle touch, and then I felt him bring his face closer to smell the stumps. He came around to face me again.

“Are you in pain?” He did not look concerned but more curious.

“Since I have arrived on this planet, I have felt only pain, fear and sorrow.” I looked toward the ground.

“I can rid you of these malignancies.”

“How?”

“You need only say yes.”

I gazed at him. What am I to do? I am in much pain and I grow weaker with the passing of time. I shall not survive much longer without help. I bit my lip. I was unable to think with clarity.

“You do not trust me and I understand, for I have given you no reason to trust in me.” His voice was soothing.

“You are an elegant creature, but I do not know your mind.”

He grinned and lifted his muscular chest. He swaggered toward me and extended his arm. He passed his hand through my hair and caressed my face. Desire for him grew quickly inside me like a vine strangling all other emotions. Every fiber of my being was ignited. My chest heaved in rhythm with my shallow panting. It is happening again. I am overwhelmed with lustful desires.

“You, too, are beautiful to look upon,” he said. “But if you wish to rid yourself of pain and fear you must become what I am.”

“What are you?”

“I am vampire.”

I recoiled and gasped. In Heaven, I had heard stories of such creatures from the Observers––angels whose task was to observe the beings on Earth. Vampires are the spawn of Dracúl, the infamous son of Lilith and Satan. I flinched.

“You know of my kind?” He came closer.

“I do.” My lips quivered.

“You need not fear me. I mean you no harm. I only seek what you seek.”

“What do you think I desire?”

“Companionship.” He extended his hand. “Come with me and never be alone again.”

I stared at his welcoming hand for a while.

“I shall offer this only once.” His piercing eyes were fixed on me. I reached my trembling hand to meet his and he pulled me toward him.

He held me tightly and pressed his full moist lips against mine. After the kiss I became lightheaded. Through eyes half opened, I watched as he opened his mouth exposing large canine teeth growing into fangs. I gasped, but before I could move, he sank his fangs into the flesh at the base of my neck. A combination of his saliva and my blood streamed down my neck. I cocked my head back and moaned, my eyes rolling back in their sockets. Both pleasure and pain moved through me. My body tensed. My entire being was at peak response. As he drew my blood greedily, I felt my body meld into his. A delightful pressure began to build inside me. I gasped and groaned with pleasure. The pressure continued to build until I thought I would explode. My body went into spasms of incredible delight, and my mind was flooded with a variety of pleasurable sensations. Then I felt a wave of dizziness, my body slackened, and darkness began to close in on me.

Upon opening my eyes, I saw the world differently. The colors of cypress trees became more vivid, and plants were verdant jewels. I almost felt the fragrances of nature. The alligators’ bellows and the hissing of snakes became mellifluous. I lay on the ground, and Mendrion sat next to me. He smiled, and I returned his smile. He kissed me on the lips, neck, shoulders and breasts. His hands caressed my body, and his touch was heavenly. As a vampire, my body was made for pleasure. I sensed so much more and every nerve ending in my body was excited. Every touch sent waves of pleasure throughout my body. I need not food, nor water—I may well live on his touch alone. I was in ecstasy, but then he stopped. He got to his feet.

“No, do not stop. I implore you.” I gazed into his eyes feeling affection for him and wholly devoted. “I love your hands and lips on my body.”

He extended his hand like he had done before. “Take my hand, Rachiel.” I beamed when he mentioned my name. “I shall allow you to keep your original name, for it pleases me. Now go and join the others.” I tilted my head and stared at him through narrowed eyes for his words filled me with confusion.

He pointed to the swamp.

I turned my face and gasped. My eyes opened wide with disbelief. There were other fallen angels like me in the swamp. They were all converted into vampires—no doubt in the same way as I was. There was not a happy face among them.

“Go on!” Mendrion pointed to the swamp. “Take your place among them. You are now a swamp vampire. You shall feed on the blood of alligators, snakes, beavers, frogs and other swamp creatures.”

“I shall not!” I stared at him with wide eyes and clenched my jaw while holding back tears. “You deceived me.”

“I told you only the truth. You no longer feel pain, am I right?” He waited for my response wearing a wry grin. “If you do not feed on the blood of these swamp creatures, you shall die a slow and agonizing death, and when you die the animals shall eat you.”

“I shall go away!” I turned my head this way and that, my eyes flickering in every direction.

“You have nowhere to go. You belong to me now and there is no escape, for your blood calls out to me and I shall find you wherever you go. Besides, you can no longer live without my touch.” He was right—losing his caressing is what I feared most. “Join the others now, or you shall never feel the gratification of my touch.”

Upon hearing his final words my face slackened. I shuffled through the bog and entered the dark, gloomy water. I stood amongst the others, merely another beauty in the murky swamp. The others glared at me––another to whom they must share him with. We were all doomed to the same punishment. Our bodies made for pleasure and overwhelmed with desire, condemned to long for ephemeral moments with our master.

AUTHOR BIO:

 

Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a writer of fantasy, horror, and suspense/thriller. When she isn’t creating extraordinary worlds or fleshing out powerful characters, she enjoys reading, traveling, kayaking, photography, and seeking adventures. She lives in Florida with her husband and fur baby, a Pomeranian named Scribbles (who’s also her writing buddy).

 

Twitter – @VashtiQV

Facebook – http://on.fb.me/1g0da7d

Website – http://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com

 

 

BOOK INFO:

 FALL

In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels. 

 

If you think you know their story, think again.

 

Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.

 

Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.

 

Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.

 

“[A] compelling narrative that . . . strays far from traditional biblical text . . . A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

 

THE FALL OF LILITH

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