The Fragments of Early Life

Forty years of doubt and recriminations: It has been a life.

Truth be told, I’ve very few memories of my first dozen years of wakefulness. They’re foggy at best. And even those rare memories are smeared and dreamy:

…my mother plays cards with a groups of clucking women. One takes out her teeth and snaps them in my face. They all laugh, as I hide crying in the closet.

…my brother helps me climb out the window, and I sit on the front porch, waiting for someone to come along and tell me where my mother has gone.

…my brother and a girl play with a lighter. They find the flame, but can’t put it out. They hide the lighter in the closet. Firetrucks are loud and bright red.

…falling out of the window of a two-story house.

…a car door opens and I am launched into the street. I remember screeching, and I think it’s tires.


Divine Wine – excerpt from a vampire’s story

DivineWinefullThe night turns brutal in Atlantic City when a serial killer who indulges in necrophilia crosses paths with a vengeful Vampire. Cyber punks and tourists make way for the Vampire and killer as they square off in a blood-soaked romp under the harsh glow of neon and a full moon.

In the light of day, Atlantic City is like a war zone. At night, city’s glitzy exterior of neon and multi-billion dollar casinos masks the grime that lies just below the surface.

The best part of Atlantic City is the number of disposable teens that stalk the night streets with sneers and baggy pants. The former is a result of the bravado of perceived invulnerability. The latter slows the little youths down to a pants-yanking shamble. Many of Atlantic City’s youth are cheap, wanna-be gangsters who know nothing about real life and death. They’re the kind of punks who brag about guns and murder and their plans to one day move to the Big City, where they’ll be players, with plenty of whores and drugs in easy reach. These little thugs beat and rob tourists, rape girls and boys in back alleys, and fight endlessly over perceived territory violations.

They are the kind of scum that the police would just as soon quietly disappeared.

She’s the vampire for that particular task.

Enjoy this excerpt from Divine Wine:

A hard rain pounds Atlantic City as I stand in front of a pawn shop under a rusted metal awning and wait for the little fucker to make his nightly visit to the screamo bar across the street. It’s too early in the evening for his arrival, so I take the time to scan the streets for other potential meat scrambling through the city. My thigh-length black leather jacket is zipped to my neck. I keep my eyes low and face averted so humans don’t see my face – porcelain white and pale as a scream. My black hair loose around my shoulders.

A wiry little black man approaches and flashes a toothy, but wholly human grin. “Got a match?” He’s got one hand in his pocket and tries to appear threatening. I make eye contact and show my fangs. His eyes widen. He shakes his head and moves on.

The rain is relentless, and it lashes both the streets and the crowds of nightlife seeking shelter and a euphoric release from their lives. Atlantic City doesn’t have quiet nights. Gamblers and hookers, tourists and punks: they all flood the streets at night, looking for a score. A quick fuck. A needle. A bag of cash, or a sucker. The streets of AC are garish with graffitied walls and casino neon flashing come-hither messages like fuck-me dolls. Huddled under umbrellas, the passing crowds are like mushrooms scurrying into casinos, pawn shops, strip clubs, bars and restaurants.

Some of the steady stream of passersby keep to the streets and sidewalks instead of ducking into a building, as the night is steamy with the day’s leftover heat, despite the rain. I don’t give a fuck about the weather one way or the other. Dead flesh doesn’t suffer the elements.

In front of me, an Asian couple, sheathed in leather, latex and chains, stops long enough to maul one another. He gropes her ass, and she responds by grinding her pelvis against his thigh. Each has multiple facial piercings, and I wonder whether they lock themselves together at night and fuck like jangling clowns. His hair is bright red and splayed from his head in short spikes. Her lips are painted black. She’s wearing a blue, leather corset over a tight, white latex catsuit.

A vagrant white man, his thin coat soaked through, stumbles up to the couple. As he does, he grabs the girl’s arm: “Spare a dollar?” the bum mutters. His eyes are wild and unfocused. “Spare a dollar? Spare a dollar?”

The Asian boy snatches the vagabond’s hand from his girl’s arm, and bends it back to force the bum to the ground. “Fuck off!” The Asian boy spits the words out and emphasizes them with a kick to the downed man’s chest.

I mentally mark both the old white man and the Asian boy for their potential: one is easily forgotten, the other easily violent.

I love Atlantic City, and I’ve hunted here off and on throughout much of the last six decades. The city has a low profile, because crimes that would be national news anywhere else are kept off the media’s radar by sleazy politicians greasing palms with cash, drugs or prostitutes – sometimes a combination of all three. Those same politicians talk about the rebirth of the city and the changes made possible by gambling and the wealthy Middle Eastern and Asian tourists. But what the politicians really do is jam as much cash into their pockets as fast as they can, fucking over the island’s neighborhoods and screaming poor-mouth when the actual decline of the city does make the news.

In the light of day, Atlantic City looks like a war zone. Not that I venture into sunlight, but my current lair is in just one of dozens of abandoned buildings that blight the south side of the island city.

At night, Atlantic City’s glitzy exterior of neon and multi-billion dollar casinos masks the grime that lies just below the surface. Mobsters and slavers made the city their home long before gambling was legalized in the 1970s.

Just beyond the neon lights and casinos is Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk, where whores, drug addicts and schizophrenics live under the planks, fighting and fucking beneath the feet of tourists and teenagers. Occasionally a dead body turns up, the stench rising through the slits in the boards. But most times the city’s small population of ghouls take care of the corpse long before the tourists are inconvenienced by the vaporous rot.

Ghouls are necessary to a city like this one. They’re smarter than zombies and more efficient than werewolves.

Divine Wine at Amazon
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Divine Wine at Smashwords

Put Flesh on a Character’s Bones

Your character needs to be more than a skeleton. You don’t have to do all of these, but pick some out. Put some flesh on your character, then send her naked into the story – that’s where she finds her clothes.

Vital statistics: place & date of birth, educational level, state of health.

Physical features: height, weight, features, coloring, mannerisms of speech or gesture.

Background: Where and how was she raised? What sort of people were her parents? Is she fighting her background or trying to reproduce it? Are/were there siblings? Are they close?

Personality: Cheerful or depressed, talkative or silent, adventurous or cautious, self confident or insecure, tidy or sloppy—and so on and so forth.

Intellect: How does she feel about her abilities? Her education?

Occupation: What does she do and how does she feel about it? What real or imagined dangers are attached to it?

Political and religious beliefs: What are they and how important are they to this person?

Special talents or skills: These will help the protagonist or antagonist accomplish goals & desires.

Life souvenirs: Tokens, trophies, events, objects, friendships and memories that travel with her. What does she hold onto?

Lifestyle: A typical day’s routine, breakfast through bedtime.

Leisure activities and interests: TV shows, reading material, theater, music, sports—as observer or participant.

Self-made environs: What does the character’s home, office, desk, car trunk, refrigerator, medicine cabinet, purse look like?

Love-life: What’s the status quo and how does the character feel about it?

Fears, desires & fetishes: What does she want, aside from committing or solving the current conflict? Is something in her personality challenging her ability to realize these dreams? This can be anything from a story-making, tension inducing phobia to a fear of appearing foolish that dictates curiosity or bravery.

Write with your Feet

Home has gotten too comfortable.

I’ve been blocked for the last couple of months, producing only a few words here and there. Most of the time, when I get home from a long day at work, I spend my evenings on my favorite couch with my feet propped up, staring blankly at a TV.

I don’t even have cable.

But I do have the devil – Hulu, Netflix, Crackle, Amazon Prime, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. These social media and streaming TV channels merge together to create a beast that stands twixt me and the written word.

And my laptop’s no help, as it has the vile social media, through which I twiddle away countelss hours.

Recently, however, I learned to write with my feet.

I got a Chromebook at the local electronics store. That’s a stripped down version of a computer. It’s better than a netbook, yet not quite as fully functional as my laptop. A Chromebook is perfect for someone who has a lot of writing to do, a Google account, and a bit of time on her hands.

Last week, while sitting mindless in front of the tube, I made up my mind to write. I’d tried writing on my spot on the couch. That’s my comfort zone. But soon, I clicked on the TV and started surfing my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Clearly I wasn’t getting anything done.

The Chromebook is light. It’s got a hefty 6-hour battery. The Samsung keyboard is small but serviceable. There are a few odd things (like no CAPS LOCK key), but nothing I can’t work around.

So I grabbed the Chromebook and headed to my local Books a Million to join the hipsters, hippies and students that call the Joe Muggs coffee area home. And what a difference it made! I was there for only a couple of hours, but I managed to write nearly a thousand words in my next work.

I was amazed.

I thought about it for a few days, and I realized what had happened. All the writing advice I had began with “find a comfortable/suitable/conducive location.” That’s what I did. And yet all too soon, home became too comfortable: a kitchen with free beverages; a TV for distraction; high speed Internet with all my stuff on the hard drive.

There were too many distractions in my place of comfort.

So I wrote with my feet: I walked out the door and went someplace just a little less comfortable. I also worked on a computer that’s less of a beast than my home computer.

I got something done. Now I head out to BAM a few times a week, and it’s all good.

If you’re finding yourself blocked, try writing with your feet.

Get off your ass, and go someplace.

Vampire’s Daughter – Another Chapter 3 Fragment

15 Years Earlier

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

“Maude? What are you up to? Where you off to this time of night?”

Maude stopped at the door and tugged at its handmade curtains. She looked back at her twin sister. “Just out to get some air, Jeannie. It’s hot in here — stuffy. I can’t breathe.”

A tea kettle whistled and Jeannie pulled it off the stove. “Don’t go by their windows, Maude. You know they don’t like it when you peer in their windows.”

Maude huffed. She waved a fat hand at her sister and narrowed her big, blue eyes. “I do not peer, Jeannie.” Maude stopped plucking at the curtain and swept gray hair behind her ear. “I heard screaming. I thought they might need some help.”

A tight smile creased Jeannie’s face. “Well, don’t help them none tonight. You know she said she’d call the law on you if she saw you out there again.”

Maude scuffed her heel against the floor and opened the door behind her. “She’d call the law down on me?” Maude snorted. “They ought to come get her — all that screaming she does. You’d think she’d get along with her husband by now.” Maude huffed again and slapped at a fly. “She knew what he was when she married him.”

Jeannie frowned and took a step toward her sister. “There ain’t no getting used to man like that,” she said. “He’s a drunk and a bastard.” Jeannie took a deep breath; the faded print dress Jeannie wore strained against her large breasts. “He ain’t no good, not for no woman. I heard stories about that man and what he’s done to women. He’s downright evil.”

The old Frigidaire hummed to life as Maude stood looking Jeannie up and down. She saw herself in her sister — an old woman stuffed into a cheap cotton dress with too much breeding and not enough good looks. After nearly 70 years, her skin hung in folds around her neck. Her neck had been graceful at one time. Now it was wrapped in wattles of fat. “A woman can get used to any man, Jeannie,” Maude said, rubbing her own neck. “You got used to that cripple, didn’t you?” Maude turned and was out of the door before her sister could reply. She snatched her cane from beside the porch railing and walked down the steps. Behind her, Maude heard the door jerked open.

“Hoppy’s a good man! You hear me, Maude? He’s a good man!”

Maude heard tears in her sister’s voice, but ignored them. Instead, she rapped the oak cane sharply on the path then braced against its stiff strength. The air was hot, stifling. “God, I hate this time of year,” she mumbled.

Maude stepped off again, tapping the cane lightly each time her right heel hit the hard dirt. Behind her, Jeannie slammed the door.

“She’s too damn old to be fooling around with that man,” Maude said aloud, rapping a trash can with her cane. “Ain’t no good going to come of it. No good at all.”

Stars shimmered in the night sky, and flies buzzed around Maude’s head. She felt comfortable at night. It was a time when she could see and not be seen. Though Maude told no one, not even Jeannie, she was ashamed of being an old maid of nearly 70 years.