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Moving House

Some of you know that I have a secondary blog to this one for things that aren't writing-related, RealmwalkerWriting.com. It's become difficult and rather silly to maintain two separate blogs, so I am merging and moving over to my own site, hosted by SquareSpace. The url will still be www.AlexisHMasters.com and I will be able to migrate most of my information... but I can't migrate my subscribers (that's you!). You can go over to the new site and subscribe to the Journal. You'll have to log in to SquareSpace, but you can do so via Twitter, Facebook, or Google, or you can create a SquareSpace account of your own for free. Besides combining my two blogs, my new site will make it easier for me to grow in the future (so I won't have to do this transition thing again), along with a host of other things that I can do to personalize the site, have guest writers more easily, and even sell my books if I decide to publish them myself.

I hope to see all of you there! :)

The Time That Got Away

Dear Awesome Friends and Followers, Unexpected silence is never fun to go through. There were many reasons for February and March being so empty on here: I tried to get a guest writer to post a review of a new book, but it ended up not working out; personal life intervened in the form of my husband and I finally being able to close the deal on our new home just a few days ago; I've been working on a new book since January but it's been frustratingly slow due to my job and the house-hunting.

What all this adds up to is that this is a teaser post for reviews of two new books I've been able to read recently - Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross and I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert (talk about differences in writing!). Also, I will be sharing tidbits from my latest work, which is the first urban fantasy novel I've ever written. So far it's been a fun experience. And, finally, there will be some non-writing-related posts on my other site at RealmwalkerWriting. If all goes according to plan, these will be up by the end of the week.

You keep reading, and I'll keep writing. :)

 

-Alexis

Screams in the Red Rain

How has it been so long since my last post? Shame... But here's some quick tidbits of cool info going on in my writing/reading world, followed by another character sketch I wrote for my time travel story. (The other sketch for the character named Millie can be found here.) - I set a reading goal for myself this year: finish 365 books before midnight, Dec. 31. Bonus points if they are all first-time-reads. So far, I'm only 1 book behind schedule. (Want to see what books I've read and check out some reviews? Look me up on Goodreads.) (Interested in other fun shenanigans my brain decided? Check out and sign up for my other blog, RealmwalkerWriting!)

- I have a list of literary agents who are looking for work by new authors or my genre and will be submitting queries and such to them very soon.

- When I go to the library on Monday to pick up a book that's being held for me, I will have to pay my first-ever fine for having a book too damaged to return. Sadly, my puppy found a way to get onto my dining table while I was out getting groceries, and slightly mangled The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay. Sad. At least I got to finish reading it, though.

- Two of my friends recently had me over for dinner and decided we would watch My Little Pony. I later went home and read Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill. Consequently, I had Applejack from My Little Pony narrating this book set in post-Civil War Texas - extra funny when the zombies showed up. :)

Enjoy the character sketch!

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My first thought was, it’s raining. But that didn’t make much sense – I was in my house. How could it be raining in my house? My second thought, that the roof had a leak, didn’t make sense, either. No self-respecting builder would have a leaky roof on a house he built.

But I was lying on the floor, on the soft rugs covering the hard wood, and I knew there were drips of water on my face. Had I been crying? No. Besides, if I had been crying, the drips wouldn’t have hit me from the ceiling – they wouldn’t have startled me awake.

Well, lying there wondering wasn’t going to solve the mystery. If I wanted to figure out why it was raining in the house, I’d have to open my eyes. I expected to see one of my siblings – probably my younger brother – standing over me, holding a glass of water and giggling at me.

He wasn’t there. No one was. I felt another drip and looked up at the ceiling, but with the late hour and the fireplace too far away, I couldn’t see. Sighing, I stood and grabbed one of the candles from the dining table. Mother would be annoyed that I disturbed her decorations, but I would put it back and just pray she didn’t notice. Mother always liked to have things perfect for the holidays, especially for Christmas. The tree, with its own decorations of carefully hand-carved ornaments, painted by my siblings and me as we had grown throughout the years. The garlands of evergreen boughs tied together with silk ribbon – expensive, Father said. Pretty, Mother said, and worth the money to ready our house for the coming of the Baby Jesus. It’s funny… I never saw him actually show up. With only a few days left before Christmas Day, the area beneath the tree was stuffed with presents wrapped in shiny paper, bright scraps of cloth, or tucked away inside pouches that Mother and I had sewn new for this year. Our stockings were hanging over the fireplace, just like always. I had stitched the names on them myself this time, instead of having to follow Mother’s patterns. From this far away, I couldn’t read them, but I knew they were there and I smiled nonetheless.

Even holding the candle up toward the ceiling didn’t help much. We had a big house, and the ceiling was too far away. I looked around, but since I didn’t see anyone, I decided to chance it and climbed up onto the table, my bare feet stepping carefully around the other candles and the fragile manger scene that decorated the tabletop. I held the candle up again…

…and screamed.

I was right. It was raining inside. Only it wasn’t water… it was blood.

Where was my family? My brother, my sister, my mother and father? Whose blood was this, leeching down from the roof? I looked down at myself and had to clap my hand to my mouth to keep from screaming again. I was covered in drops of sticky blood. I had been lying on the floor for a long time… had I slept through some terrible nightmare?

No… Now that I was awake, filled with adrenaline, I could feel the pounding in my head. I hadn’t fallen asleep. I’d been attacked.

I jumped down from the table, making the manger scene rattle. “Mother!” I yelled. “Where are you?” I was terrified. Where was everyone? Had they run away, thinking I was dead?

The rest blurred together in my memory, too much to take in so fast. Somewhere, out of the darkness, a hand snaked out and grabbed my arm, pulling me in. I began to scream when a second hand quickly covered my mouth. My nose caught the scent of soap and lavender and I realized these were my mother’s hands. I remember her whispering to me in a frightened voice. We had to get out, she said. They were still very near, and they would not let us leave alive. I asked about my siblings in a whisper crushed by my own emotion, and my mother’s choked-back sobs were answer enough.

Most unluckily, the flickering light of my candle lit up a sliver of the room for a moment and I saw a flash of what had happened to my siblings. They were not dead. They had been murdered, brutally and savagely killed and tossed aside like garbage. I was angry and scared… and then I was sick, all over the floor of Mother’s closet where we were hiding. I had never seen a dead body before.

Mother and I made it out of that house. We had to climb out onto the roof because we could see dark shapes blocking the stairs leading down to the first floor and to safety. I could tell Mother was scared. I had not told Mother about the blood-rain in the dining room. I hoped I was wrong, but I thought I knew whose it must be, if Mother and I were here and my siblings were still inside.

Mother did not look. She did not know to look. I think if she had known, she never would have left, and we both would have died. Instead she let down the escape ladder my father had built into the roof, in case there was ever a fire, and began to climb down. She called for me to come after, but her voice was small and far away. I was caught, stunned and terrified, by the scene on the roof.

My father was dead, that was certain. Whoever had attacked us had made it clear that he was not able to protect his house or his family. Spikes, like the big ones they used down at the railroads, gleamed red in my eyes. My stomach heaved again even as I ran over to him and grabbed the slick iron with both hands,  begging my father to get up. I don’t know why. I knew he couldn’t hear me. I knew.

My mother called again, frantically, and I heard her. I jumped to the ladder and slid down the sides, getting splinters in my hands. Mother grabbed me and dragged me along behind her, running as fast as she could away from that house. I was running, too, but my legs were too slow to keep up with her, so I mostly stumbled and slowed her down.

I don’t know how long we ran. I remember looking back and seeing the black shadows moving around that house, hearing voices that faded away as my panic overtook them and turned them into howls of demons. We finally stopped, what seemed to be miles and miles away, and collapsed, panting hard and trying to uncramp our exhausted lungs and limbs.

Mother looked at me. You look a mess, she said, attempting to smile, but instead she began to cry. I felt a mess. Blood, vomit, sweat all clung to my clothes, splinters dug into my hands. It didn’t matter. Mother wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close, crying low sobs that rattled the soul to hear them. I buried my face in her shoulder. This time it was raining inside, and leaking out through my eyes as tears that soaked my mother’s clothes. Why did it happen? I remember asking her through my hiccups, trying to control myself and failing miserably.

My mother pulled away a little so she could look at me. Cupping her hands around my face, she smiled. It was a real smile, even though her eyes were so sad. She didn’t know, she said, but she was thankful that she still, at least, had me, and I had her. We were not alone.

I cried again. My mother frowned and brushed the tears away, making them mix with the blood on my cheeks and leave sticky trails behind. She said she understood, and she knew it would be hard, but we would get through it. God always had a reason, and he was watching over us.

I looked up at my mother and asked a question that had been burning in my heart for all the years I could remember: Was this my punishment because I was different?

I had always felt responsible for everything when I realized I was different. When my brother was born, I knew he was not like me. When my sister was born, I knew she was like my brother. Like Mother and Father. Not like me.

My mother gripped my hands tightly in her own and pressed them to her heart. She looked at me and told me to listen very closely, that I must never forget what she was about to tell me. I was different, I was special. I had power inside of me. God would never give His child such a gift and then punish her for having it. I had this power, and I should remember to always, always, do good with it. Use it to honor her. Use it to honor my family. Use it to honor God.

I felt safe there, with my mother, sitting beneath the trees. She had told me that I was not the reason we were alone now. It had been a cruel act of violence, but it had been random. There was nothing we could have done.

Lies.

Although my mother did not know it, the fear I had harbored since I had been a child, the fear that my difference, this “power,” would bring pain to my family, had come true. Those shadow-men had been after me, and it cost my brother, my sister, and my father their lives, and my mother her husband and her children.

I left my mother with some family friends who promised to take care of her. We did not explain everything, only the bare facts – that we had been victims of a terrible crime and were all that was left of our family. I left. My mother begged me not to go, but I could not bear to stay. This power, whatever it was, had killed my family. I would not let it hurt her, too – not any more than it already had.

***

Memory fades with time. All these events happened so long ago, I cannot remember much. I cannot remember the sound of my mother’s voice, my father’s face, or my sibling’s laughs. I cannot remember the town in which we lived, nor even the country, anymore. I cannot remember my family’s names… I cannot even remember my own name.

I can remember my scream, when I first saw the blood-rain oozing through the ceiling. I can remember the shadow-men darting around that house.

I can remember because I still see them, I still hear them, in my dreams, sometimes… and it always ends the same way: I am running around that house, trying to catch the shadow-men and see who it is that has murdered my family. I lock eyes with one of them through the darkness, and it is as though he can see me through my own dreams, from within my own mind.

I do not wake screaming anymore. One grows used to such nightmares, when one has them for so many years. But the unsettling feeling never grows dim, and I fear that one day, soon, all that will remain of my memory are those soul-piercing eyes and a child’s scream as blood rains down.

Victory!

It's an auspicious day, everyone! As is obvious by my lack of recent posts, I've been very busy lately. But it was all for a good cause, because the proofing of Even unto Death is finished! I am very excited to have hit such an important milestone in my life and writing career. The total count came out to 440 pages, and I also hit another personal goal: I broke 100,000 words! Best of all, I can honestly say that I'm happy with the results!

I'm going to be swamped with work (yes, I have a day job) for the next few months, so unfortunately I won't likely be able to do much with EUD right away. But it feels so great to have gone through the entire script and polished it up so that I feel good about the vast majority of it! There are still some sections that need help, but I'm hoping my volunteer proofers can help out with that. And soon it will be time to go agent-shopping!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, given me advice, and kicked my ass when I was being pokey-slow about working on EUD. Writers are hard to put up with, I know.

If you're wondering whether this means the end of my posts... Nope! There's still lots to do with EUD and Immortal Flames, not to mention all the other characters and stories that I've been bouncing around on here - and on paper. I'll be writing for a long, long time. :)

Calling All Artists!

Yo! If any of you out there want to try your hand at drawing/painting/artifying one of my characters, or some prominent icon (like Kallizar's medallion), that would be sweet. All I ask is that you share what you have here and don't sell the ideas as your own. Posting on your own site is cool as long as you give a link back here so people know where the concept came from.

Thanks and happy art-ing!

S. G. Johnson , aka The Realmwalker

Alec to Meet a Human?

Don't know who Alec is? Check out this post for an intro, and this one for more!  

Trust. Reliance. To Vampyra, these were weaknesses to be exploited. Brian's trust, the aid of his friends, were only things to be used to protect myself.

It never once occurred to me that one day I might learn to trust... and that I might desperately need it.

 

I have lost count of all the nights the Wolf has accompanied me on my hunts - never killing, but never foolish enough to hold me back. Every once in a great while, he comments about the necessity of killing my prey, wishing I would just let them go when I am through, but he has (most wisely) not pressed the issue - and my patience. His comments usually falter when the moon's light glints off my blood-soaked fangs. And if they do not, I draw out the kill, watching with glee how my prey's cries torment him.

His vampire friend has been coming along as well. I am highly amused by her - she is so close to me, a cousin through the vampire blood link, and yet she is so very different. Even her view of this world does not match up with mine as I had expected. Indeed, it almost seems to match the Wolf's.

But I have proven to them my strength in a fight. I have saved the Wolf from the killing stroke of a Hunter, and pulled the vampire inside before the rising sun could burn her to ash. I have always taken up watch over my allies' battles, because without such contribution there is no alliance and no guarantee that they will remain favorable towards me. And when all else has failed, I can use those allies to slow down any Hunter on my trail.

Vampyra are cold and cruel, and we know how to survive.

Tonight, I finally meet the last member of their little band... the human. Apparently the Wolf has decided I can - in strong company - behave well enough not to kill the boy on sight.

This sounds like a challenge to me... and the Bloodlust is rising.