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New Inspiration!

ImageIt’s been a long time since I’ve talked about inspiration! Since I’m moving into a more production-centric period in my writing journey, perhaps it is a good time to dwell on the topic once again. I’ve recently released the second book of my vampire series, Fire Blood. I admit I really wrote this novel fast, and I feel it is very good – 10 times better than the first book – I think the reason for the quality and speed of writing was the inspiration.

I really felt compelled to write this book. The characters, especially Matthew, really came alive in my head. It still sounds weird, even to me, but they really talked to me and told me their story and I just wrote it down… The first book, Summer Blood, went a long way to introduce these guys and gals and give me a basis to work with. The second book really took it to the next level. There was a lot going on, from kidnappings, to fighting, to sex… yeah, they were a busy bunch! Tobia and Gwin focused on taking down what was left of the vampire network, and Matthew got his band Carolina Sky together for a tour. Myranta put herself forward as Matthew’s personal body guard, and Cytosha… well, she kind of went crazy! It was fun and exciting… but what was the inspiration?

Music was a huge factor. I had to hear Carolina Sky playing in my head. I listened to a lot of music… I made a huge play list (Kato’s playlist on Spotify if you’re interested – follow me!). Kato even wrote some new music and I included lyrics in the back of the book! That is a big inspiration for the next book as well. Kato and Wayne felt a bit left out and will be making a bigger splash in the next book of the series. They both have rock-star personalities and are very “in-your-face” so their minimal presence in the first two books has come to an end. They want front row billing in #3.

Another inspiration was other vampire books/tv/movies… especially True Blood. Not that my vampires are the same in any way (other than being vampires), but just getting to that vicious single mindedness they sometimes have was easier after being a little exposed to other vampire media. And photos! I’ve found and shared plenty of vamp-pics on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/summerbloodvampires)!

So, Gwin is another character that really came alive for me. She started out very snotty and spoiled, but eventually, she grew as a character and by the end of Fire Blood, she really has a lot of depth. I think that Matthew and Tobia both influenced her a lot. She’s still fun loving and mischievous, though. In September I’m releasing the prequel book, Blood Pact. Her story in this one is compelling and really gives the reader an even better sense of who she is. Sometimes, it felt like she was sitting beside me at the keyboard and pointing out where to make changes and what to add! She’s so pushy! I think she is that aggressive side of me that never gets to really come out, in part at least.

The beach was obviously an inspiration point. I have always loved the beach and every time I’m there I seem to have characters talking to me about what they’re doing at the beach or what they want to be doing. Particularly, for Summer Blood this was a serious kick off. My husband and I went to Flagler Beach on the East Coast of Florida for my birthday. We went to a cool bar and walked on the beach at night and at sunrise. I took tons of notes while we were there. The bar and the beach both stuck with me so much that when I got home, those parts begged to be written and that’s when I truly started focusing on Summer Blood… and came up with the name! The name of the bar in Summer Blood is Shark Fins, it shows up at the end of Chapter 2 when Tobia and Gwin are getting to know each other… if you want to see the real place. I did tell you exactly where it is… corner of A1A and 100 in Flagler.

Cytosha is another vivid character. This is a psychic motorcycle riding vampire hellion! She’s front and center in both books. I originally meant for her to be a minor character used just for Tetrick to find Gwin and Tobia. She had other plans. She not only stuck around in Summer Blood, she became the main Vamp in Fire Blood, and you will be able to find out more about her – where she came from – and where she’s going in Blood Pact. Of course, she’ll have a role in the #3 as well. I wanted her to be a tough-guy. She owned her vampire status. Unlike Tobia and Gwin, she loved being a vampire (more than she ever loved being human). She’s a modern girl and she likes to just kick ass and boss everyone around. I have no idea where she came from. When I started writing her, she just took over. I’m glad she did because I’ve had a ton of fun writing her!

I’m working on a lot of other projects outside of the vampire world. The inspirations have come from many different places. Perhaps one of my biggest influences is what I read. Whatever I’m reading at the time tends to make its way on to my page…. don’t misunderstand. I do not EVER copy… but tone and genre and the feel of a novel can be influential. Or smaller things. Sometimes I do put tiny tidbits in my writing as a homage to another author that I admire, though. Like, I might name a street something out of another book. Some of my biggest influences, particularly for vampires and demons, are Kim Harrison and the Hollows series, Laurel Hamilton and the Anita Blake series, and Kristie Haigwood’s Eternal Island (Reviewed this in an earlier blog – check my archives) series. Kristie is an independent author and worth checking out! I like her Save My Soul series as well.

I’m writing a new series called Adventures of Pepper Chance. She is a psychic detective charged with keeping demon activity under control. She started developing as I was reading the Hollows, but also the Dresden series and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. I wanted a hardnosed detective who had a troubled past. She’s been a very bad girl, but wants to make a decent life for herself. She’s not afraid to fall in love or kick demon ass or step up to whatever challenges I throw at her. You’ll see two short stories about her in my upcoming anthology, Brink. That’s due to go to the editors soon.

Some of the stories from Brink came from what I was writing during my Master’s degree. Inspiration for those stories came from specific assignments. They are very different than what I’ve put out there so far, yet still twisted and fun. One of the stories was featured in a vampire anthology:

http://www.amazon.com/Vampires-Romance-Rippers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00FYZVEQK/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1402946438&sr=8-2-fkmr1&keywords=vampires+romance+toe+to+rippers

I had to stories featured. Only one of them will be in Brink, so get the one above for the other…

Ultimately, I guess I have to say that inspiration comes from so many places… from media and real life to my own wild imaginations and even things inside me that I don’t want people to see. It all gets blended up in this strange thing called my brain… and tossed out like a salad onto the paper. Then, I just hope everyone likes my veggies!

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Review Time!! Being Sawyer Knight – Nicola Haken

I loved this book. It grabbed me right away and drug me right in! It was romantic, sweet, steamy, and fierce… everything you want in a romance. The plot for this one is that Sawyer Knight is a rock star (doesn’t get much better than that – right!) and on top of the world. He has one problem. He’s terribly alone. Enter the hero – his long lost best friend Jake! The man takes on the job of being Sawyer’s body guard, but obviously he’s after more! You get the gist of how it goes. I’m not into spoilers, so that’s all I’m saying, except that these two guys are completely addictive. If you’re into character driven stories with a lot of heart, this is it! Sawyer is adorable in his angst and Jake is the total hottie-hero!

The sex in this book is all there for a reason. I never once felt like it was just to add sex and that’s important especially in an M/M romance. This writer made the characters work for it.

By the way… there’s a little bonus. A mystery is threaded right down the center of the plot. Yum!

Romance with heart – check! Steamy sex scenes – check! Action and mystery that move the plot – check! Yep… this one’s a winner!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KLF2DUO/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

 

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LATEST REVIEW – Joss Landry’s I CAN SEE YOU

Image

I recently had the opportunity to review this excellent paranormal/mystery from one of the wonderful authors in my network of colleagues.  Today is the release day for this book, and the following is my review.  If you’re into books that don’t easily fit genre qualifications, but are well written with great characters, you’ll love this.  Check out my review, then jump over to Amazon!!

I Can See You by Joss Landry is a remarkable paranormal journey of love. Ten year old Emma overcome torturous fear and the need to hide her secret psychic abilities to help Detective Hank Apple solve the case.  Her love helps bond her with her family and the community, and it is this great love that ultimately saves her life. Emma is believable as a precocious pre-teen with the ability to see the future and direct Out of Body Experiences (or projecting). She learns to use this gift to help the vulnerable and charming Detective Apple solve the mystery. Joss Landry keeps the reader guessing and use her very well developed secondary characters to help move the plot. Readers will surely fall in love with these characters! Upon finishing this book, I wanted more, and I hope Landry will consider writing a sequel; perhaps with Emma being a teen or young adult. I felt like readers would love to see how she develops and what other trouble she can get into. The story is authentic and sullen and deals with real issues such as abuse, infidelity, finding work/life balance, and having difficult conversations with loved ones. These are concerns that children and adults in today’s world must face regularly. Landry weaves these themes into a shadowy yet spellbinding tale.

About the Author

Joss has worked as a consultant for more than twenty years, writing copy for marketing firms and assisting start-up companies launch their business. She recently made the switch from composing copy and promos, to writing fiction and prose. She is developing her style through courses and the support of other writers. Joss is presently working on honing three other novels for publication. Blessed with four children and five grandchildren, she resides in Montreal with her husband, a staunch supporter, and enjoys spending time biking, rollerblading, playing tennis, and swimming. She loves creating stories as she says they fulfill her need to think outside the box.

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The Touch Reviewed

Recently, I read The Touch by Louisa Albrect, and published by Hot Ink Press. I fell in love with the concept immediately and just had to read it.  Admittedly, it advertised a few characteristics that I love to use in my own writing, such as music, musicians and magic. So, I was excited to get my hands on it! Oh, not to mention that it is an erotic novel, so yeah… that was exciting too! *snickers inappropriately*

http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Louisa-Albrect-ebook/dp/B00AZOS7GK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1394562934&sr=1-1

On the whole, I did enjoy the story. The plot was well done and the characters likable. However, I was somewhat disappointed. I really wanted to love this story, and I didn’t. It’s been several days since I read it, and I’ve been stewing it over in the back of my mind ever since.

I did read it in one sitting, but that had more to do with how short it was rather than my love of it. In fact, it really was too short. There was barely enough time to develop such a complex plot and depth of character. It was sort of like this:  Here are these cool people and their intricate problems. Now, let’s put them together and let sex fix everything. I wanted more in the middle. It gave me a beginning and an end and slushed right over the middle.

The main character is a singer named Benjamine. I loved this guy. But, I didn’t get enough of what made him tick. I expected more music. The descriptions that were there were fabulous, but they left me wanting more.  The lead female similarly left me wanting more. After the coven finds her, she loses her memories, but the plot doesn’t really do anything with this, and leaves her feeling a little hollow. I wanted more about her discovering herself before she could help Benjamine.

The Touch had interesting side characters that were like the icing flowers on a cake; pretty and edible, but generally not necessary and completely interchangeable. Yet, there was the bud of something truly delicious sitting right there. A longer story line would allow the author to weave these extra characters into the story in a way that only that unique person could be there to make things happen. Plus, with more time, you could get to know what drives these others; how they view the main characters (for extra complexity); and what motivates them.

The final thing that had me squirming in my chair as I read was the huge amounts of grammatical errors and typos that imbued the novella. I swear this manuscript was never edited. In most self-published books and even in books published by small to medium presses, I generally do not have a problem overlooking a few errors. It is virtually impossible to get out every single one… you can find typos in books from major authors and publishing houses too. With that said, I could not keep continually overlooking the abundance of issues in this. It was too distracting.

I’m not trying to by hyper-critical. In fact, if I didn’t like the story, I wouldn’t have bothered putting these words on the page. I would have chalked it up to another disappointing failure. But, I did genuinely like this story. For only .99 it isn’t bad. However, Albrect has such a potentially beautiful story here. I wish she would take the time to develop it into a full-fledged (edited) novel.

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It’s about the Journey

This blog has always been about my journey as a writer. So, that’s specifically what this entry is going to be about. I’ve grown as a writer tremendously over the last few years and I’m starting to see the products of that growth. I’m about to start my thesis course for my Creative Writing degree and my first novel, Summer Blood, is out and is selling, albeit slowly. Now, I’m journeying into the next realm of being an independent author – promotions.

I’m learning a few things, and the first is that books will not sell without promotions. OK – honestly, I knew that going into it, but now I’m neck-deep and trying to figure it all out. I have some of it figured out, but not all of it. I’m particularly struggling with, how to get reviews. Without reviews, people may not want to buy the book even as a .99 kindle. There are millions of bloggers, and they are ALL inundated with books to read and blog about. I’m sure this is true because my own reading list is a mile long. However, I still need those reviews. Many readers will read the book, but it is a lot of trouble to go back and write a review, especially when they’re really only interested in the next book they’re going to read. So, I’m still smashing this one around, but seriously, if you read a book you really like, leave a review on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads or B&N or wherever, because it is really important. If you are a writer it is especially important for you to do this… that way maybe someone else will leave you a review… You know the old Karma thing?!?

So, the book is out there and I’m getting my promotions on track, and I’m working on the sequel and next week starts my thesis (which I think is another novel). It’s a struggle, but the progress is going in the right direction, and the journey has been fun! In fact, the journey is the best part: writing, learning, growing, enjoying the story and the characters… all of it!

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839007.Sherri_Jordan_Asble

http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Blood-Desolate-Incubus-ebook/dp/B00EH1WLHS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1379357414&sr=1-1&keywords=summer+blood

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screenwriting time!

This is one of the screenplays I wrote for class this term. I got an A so it can’t be too bad. Some of it is a bit vague, but I’m working on it. I’m thinking about turning this into a regular short story. What do ya’ll think?

The format is off for this because I’m copying out of a pdf… but you should get the jist of it:

Dark Hearts
By
Sherri Jordan-Asble

EXT. CASTLE NIGHT
A massive castle reaches up into the darkening sky.

INT. KITCHEN NIGHT
A huge old fashioned kitchen is empty in the dark. The
floors and counters are stone and a huge chandelier hangs
above. There is a doorway on one side and an old wooden door
on the other. The door creaks open to a descending stair
case. PENELOPE slowly walks up the stairs to the kitchen and
looks around. She is wearing a long dress with a tight
bodice. Her hair is blond curls. She looks like a doll.

PENELOPE
James? James? Where is my
breakfast?

CAMERON appears as a dark figure in the opposite doorway.
Then, his figure solidifies as he steps into the kitchen. He
is wearing riding boots that end at his knees and a buttoned
up shirt, open at the collar, tucked in to leather pants.
His eyes and hair are dark, and the look on his face is
angry and heated.

PENELOPE
Cameron! How did you get here.

As Cameron becomes more visible and steps closer to
Penelope, blood can be seen on his face and hands.

PENELOPE
Bastard! What did you to to James?

CAMERON
(laughing)
I’ve come for you, sister.

Penelope grabs a knife from a counter and lunges toward
Cameron. He dodges out of her way easily and grabs her.
Penelope fights him, but he throws her to the stone floor.
He is on top of her and then he leans up, baring fangs as if
he is going to bight her.

Penelope looks over his shoulder to the chandelier above. It
starts to shake, and then crashes on them. Penelope
immediately shoves Cameron off of her, the chandelier pieces
shatter on the floor. She struggles to her feet and runs
through the doorway he had come through.

Cameron stands up, brushing glass from his clothing and then
chases after her with a wicked smile on his face.

INT. BALL ROOM NIGHT
Penelope races into the ballroom. It is lit only with a few
candles posted around the room and in wall sconces. The
light of the moon shines in through windows at the top of
tall walls that stretch into an arching dome overhead. The
center of the room is a wooden dance floor. Along the edges
of the room, carpeted areas wrap around the floor. Chairs
line the outer edges of the room.

Penelope grabs one of the chairs and turns to slam it into
Cameron just as he is grabbing for her. Cameron barely
flinches, but the chair crumbles, leaving pieces of it in
her hands that now resemble stakes. Cameron steps back from
her, as Penelope swings the wildly at Cameron.

CAMERON
You are going to hurt yourself with
those.

PENELOPE
No, I’m going to kill you.
Penelope lunges in with a stake, stabbing at Cameron. She
manages to hit him with the stake, but it is far from a
crippling blow. Cameron grabs the stakes, throwing them away
and back hands Penelope. She flies across the room and into
the wall.

CAMERON
This house and everything in it are
mine. That includes you, and you
know it. Why keep fighting it?
She shakes herself off and runs down another hallway.

Cameron again follows after her.

EXT. A LONG BRIDGE BETWEEN TWO SECTIONS OF THE CASTLE
The drop off from the bridge is massive. The moon is high
over head. Penelope is running across the bridge.

CAMERON
Stop. I mean it. The more you fight
me the harder this is going to
be… on you.

Penelope stops and turns to face Cameron. They are on either
side of the bridge.

PENELOPE
Brother, evil posses you. Have you
no heart left? Why can’t you just
leave me alone. I’ll never serve
you.

CAMERON
My heart? Evil? Morals and laws are
meant for lessor beings, sister.
The do not apply to me.

Penelope runs toward Cameron, faster than before, she’s
almost a blur. She slams her shoulder into him and he falls
back. She grabs him and shoves him over the side of the
bridge. The railing crumbles as she watches him fall. Her
shoulders and body visibly relax.

PENELOPE
That’s way too much evil for one
man.

Beneath the bridge, there is movement. Something dark is
swirling around. A massive cloud of bats flies up out of the
darkness. They have Cameron at their center. They swirl
around him, and he rises into the air, higher than the
bridge. Penelope watches, astonished, as Cameron and the
bats become one. His laughter rings out in the night, and
then he lands on the bridge, Penelope turns and watches. The
bats fly toward the moon and disappear into the night sky.
He is taller than before and his eyes are glowing red.

CAMERON
I am not so easily killed. I have
more power than you can imagine,
Penelope.

PENELOPE
I see.

Penelope falls to her knees, her skirt wrapping around her
legs. She puts her hands on her lap, palms up.

PENELOPE
I give up.

CAMERON
I knew you would. I knew you would
give in when you saw just how
powerful I am. You can’t run. You
can’t fight this. You’re mine now,
sister.

PENELOPE
Yes. Yes, Cameron. I’m yours. You
were right.

Penelope lifts her arms slightly, inviting him to her.
Cameron takes the few steps to close the distance and grabs
her, lifting her to her feet. He leans in and kisses her. He
kisses down her neck, touching her hair. He is lost in her
for the moment.

Penelope bares fangs and sinks them into Cameron’s neck. He
screams, but she has a strong hold on him. As she drains
him, she becomes stronger and he becomes weaker until she is
holding him up. Blood is squirting out and down her dress.
She finally pulls back and looks at him. Cameron is now just
a husk.

PENELOPE
Yes. That is too much power for
someone as weak as you. You can’t
handle it.

CAMERON
(barely able to speak)
Why?

PENELOPE
I can handle it, because I know
that with that kind of power comes
responsibility. It is morals and laws that
keep us sane.

Penelope reaches out a hand and a long piece of wood appears
in it. She stabs Cameron in the chest. This time her aim is
perfect and he dissolves to dust.

Penelope slides back to the ground. Blood and tears cover
her face.

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Defamiliarization?

My fiction class has been fun and educational! One of the best workshops was about de-familiarization. This is all about taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. It’s kind of like when you are driving on an east bound road at sunrise, and suddenly the back sides of the street signs are transformed into something you have never seen before, bathed in an ethereal orange glow. Here’s my shot at it! Enjoy!

Ink Magic

“Kaydan, Kaydan, move,” The Zoran’s voice pulled Kaydan out of her trance and she sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

“What?”

The Zoran chuckled. “Kaydan, here move,” she said as her hands repositioned Kaydan’s shoulder and legs. “Ready?” she asked holding up the tattoo machine. The machine started buzzing, and the Zoran touched the needle to Kaydan’s shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and took a shallow breath inhaling the earthy smell of the incense burning around her, and let it out slowly through her nose. She let the pressure of the needle, the heat from the lamp on her skin and the buzz of the machine lull her back into a trance. Kaydan searched her memories to help her get through the tattooing.

She thought about how she had escaped from the army before finally making it to the Zoran’s village. The big man they called Hamlin had left her alone in his musty tent. She sat on the canvas floor, and took a long deep breath. She needed to reassess her situation, the mission was too important to give up or panic.

Hamlin had done nothing more than scream obscenities at her, as if that would get her to confess secret information. What she could tell him would mean nothing to him even if she did spill it. The coded message for the Zoran didn’t mean much to her either.
Kaydan needed to focus on escaping. She called her power to her and felt it glowing inside her chest. She pictured heat radiating down her arm and out to her fingertips and into a consolidated flame. She sent cool, wet wind down her other arm. She touched the tiny flame to back of the tent, while using the cool wet wind to keep the fire focused and controlled. It only took seconds, and then she ran through the dark forest. She called her power one more time and sent comforting warmth over her entire body, willing the power to turn eyes from her, so she would not be seen. The power would only last a few minutes, but she would need it to get past the sentries.
They had surprised her in the forest when she first came upon the army. She had not seen them in their suites covering them in the dark green of forest shadow then, but she picked them out now as she ran by them, protected by magic.

Kaydan opened her eyes to the Zoran patting her shoulder with a soft towel. Kadan looked up at her, “Why are you stopping?”

“I think you’ve had enough for one sitting. You need a break.”

“No, no. We have to get this done. I’m fine.”

“Kaydan, your magic started to flare; that’s dangerous.”

Kaydan shook her head. “The memory held magic. I won’t pick one like that again. I’m sorry, but that army is too close. We have to get this done.”

The Zoran sighed. “Ok. Let’s go.” She repositioned Kaydan on the table, and the buzzing began.

Gem grunted and grabbed Kaydan’s upper arm and pulled her up the last flight of stairs and into a candlelit room. The Headmaster sat behind a large oak desk. Kaydan folded her hands behind her back and stood very still.

The old man opened his mouth, “Ahh, there you are.”

“Yes sir.” Kaydan gave a small curtsy.

“I’m sure you are wondering why you are here.”

“Yes sir.”

“Gem tells me that your training has advanced nicely since you decided to start taking it seriously, and stop causing trouble. Can I safely assume that you are indeed taking this seriously and not planning some major plan to over throw the establishment?”

“No, sir, I mean yes sir. I mean, I am taking it seriously.”

The old man nodded and took a moment to truly look at Kaydan, causing Kaydan to become all the more nervous and uncertain. “Well, Gem, you are right, we have no choice.” The old man gave a nod to Gem, and Gem nodded back then turned to Kaydan.

“We have a mission that we must send you on.”

“What?”

“You are to leave now and travel until you reach Brampton village.”

Kayden interrupted, “What? Leave the school?”

“This is important, listen. War is imminent. We cannot afford to risk the school.”
Kayden shook her head. What Gem said did not make any sense. But still, Gem continued. “This is important,” she said firmly, slamming her hand palm down on the Headmaster’s desk. “You have to take this message to the Zoran.”

Kaydan jumped and opened her eyes.

“What?” The Zoran asked.

Kaydan shook her head. “It’s the memory. This last one seemed very real.”

“Hmm. That can happen. It means the magic will be strong. We need strong.” She turned Kaydan around. “I need to do your chest now for the head. This part will take a while, it will be painful, but it is very important.”

They put a gun to her head, the click echoed as the soldier readied the weapon. Dark green, almost black garments wrapped the soldiers from head to toe. They faded into the shadows of the trees, hidden. Others materialized, calling to each other; Blake, Scooter, Trent, Rylie. Take her to Hamlin. Is she one of them? Cut the chatter. Who bagged her? Cipher. He’s quick on the draw. I said cut it. Hamlin wants her. They shoved her around, hands pulling her through the woods, leaves crunching kicking up damp smells, knees pushed into the damp dirt, a tall figure looming over. He pulled his head gear off, eyes like cutting diamonds. What is it? You smell like witch. Witch, spy, slut, dog, beneath me, waste of time. We can just kill her now. Hamlin said no, take her to his tent. He leaned in toward Kaydan. She could smell garlic on his breath and sweat. How could he smell her through that? How did a witch smell like worse than that? She didn’t ask; she knew better. Cipher pulled her away and shoved her in the tent. He warned her with a look.

The Zoran gently shook her awake. “I’m done.”

Kaydan sat up and wiped sleep from her eyes. “I fell asleep.”

“Should I have stopped?”

“No. Is it really done?”

The Zoran nodded and handed Kaydan a mirror. She looked into it at the dragon head asleep on her chest. The green of the scales shimmered in the light as she moved; perfect. Kadan stood and used the mirror along with another hanging on the wall to see most of the back. The dragon wrapped around her shoulders, down her spine, and curled around her legs. The wings rested along her spine. “Wow.”

“Yes, wow, but now you need to rest for real. This must have taken a lot out of you.”

Kaydan started to protest, but Gem had drilled health and mental awareness so often; she could not ignore her exhaustion. She nodded. “You’re right.”

“Glad you finally realize that.” She laughed gently as she spoke, and Kaydan couldn’t help but smile.

Yelling woke her, and then she smelled smoke, burning. Someone screamed. It sounded like the Zoran, and Kaydan ran for the front door. Hamlin stood in the road looking down at the Zoran, who had been shoved down in front of him. One of his men hit her with the butt of his gun and she fell to the ground. Kaydan ran to her. “No!”

“Ah, here is the little witch-dog that got away. Cipher can finish you off, now.”

Kaydan looked up at the smug look on Hamlin’s face. Someone grabbed her by the arm pulling her away from the Zoran. She tried to struggle away from the man, tried to call her magic. She wanted revenge. They should never have touched the Zoran; she is sacred.

Hamlin laughed. “You are not getting away this time witch. Your magic will not help with a bullet in your head.” Kaydan glared at him. His eyebrows pinched together and he leaned forward. “I’m going to slaughter you and every dog like you. I’m going to wipe out all the scum-witches. Put her on the ground.” The soldier shoved her down and Hamlin started pulling his gun around from his back.

Kadan stilled herself, took a breath. She couldn’t do it for revenge or spite or even her own personal protection, but she could do it to save her people. She suffered hours under the needle for one reason, this reason. The message she gave the Zoran was not a coded warning, it was a prophecy. Kaydan would fulfill that prophecy for her people. She called her magic to her and pushed it into the creature on her back and chest. The power pushed her forward as the dragon pulled off her back. The tail slid around her leg and the wings pushed off of her shoulder. She looked up and watched her beast beating leathery wings into the sky.

The soldiers shot their weapons at it, but bullets cannot hurt what is made of pure magic and will. The dragon banked and soared toward them. Kaydan covered her head and felt the heat of fire the dragon breathed over the army. Hamlin, Cipher and the others ran, but Kaydan watched the green flames of her beast take them down.

Afterwards, the dragon found her and rested again across her back. She looked down to see the dragon’s head resting on her chest again. A small drop of blood dripped from his mouth.

She could pay this price.

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