October Frights – Day Seven – Aftermath

“So what do we do when Grace City is clean?”

“It’s never clean, John. They multiply like rats, move in where they want, and establish a new Conductor every time.” Sabine’s feet dangled off the edge of the building. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

John turned to take a long look at Sabine, then turned his face back towards the city below. “Yeah? Something recent, or something brewing?”

“Brewing. Been wanting to ask you for a year now.”

He laughed. “Never known you to be shy, Sarge. Must be personal.”

“It is. Sabine Boudreaux’s never been one for personal, if you know what I mean.”

“Well, it’s fine. Go ahead.”

Sabine leaned back to light her cigarette, out of the wind. “Good. When you were in the Army, they ever try to tap you? For a program, anything like that?”

“Yeah. You? I mean, when you were a Jarhead?”

“Yeah they did. Thought for awhile they’d figured out I wasn’t enlisted at eighteen. One-hudred eighteen. Eighteen. Same difference.” Sabine chuckled. “And I’ll always be a Jarhead, Dog Face.”

“Woof.” John shrugged. “Anything come of it? Didn’t pan out for me. Always wished I could reenlist, but doing this is worth not being back in.”

Sabine nodded. “No, nothing came of it. I just wanted to know if they had tabs on you. Makes it kind of rough when you’re around ninety and still look like you’re in your thirties.”

“Guess we’ll find out on my big nine-oh.” John put his arm around her, then sat back.

“What time it is?” Sabine swung her feet around and put them down on the roof.

“Feeding time.” John tapped his watch and slung his ax over his shoulder.

Sabine grinned. “Let’s go, then. Laissez les bons temps roulez.”

END (?)


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October Frights – Day Six – Dawn

“Remember how I told you dawn could be worse than nightfall? More frightening?” Sabine sat at the end of the bed, towel wrapped around her, shower smells of floral and balsam a clinging aura.

“Yeah, I do. Seems like a long time ago,” John was dressed, looking clean and neat in his sweats. He tried not to look at Sabine too long.

“Well, it can be. Especially when the Hunt calls you.”

She stood up and took a pair of shorts and a tank top to the bathroom and shut the door, leaving John to his thoughts. He sighed and closed his eyes.

When he opened them, Sabine was staring at him, leaning close, nose almost touching his. “Creepy, right?”

John jumped. “W-what was that? How did you get out here so fast?”

“You fell asleep, Soldier.” Sabine laughed and handed him a mug full of coffee. “It’s noon. You’ve been out for six hours.”

“Fuck me, what happened to dawn?” He took the mug from her and drank it. “Here I thought you were gonna tell me you were a monster all along.”

Sabine grinned. “Well, I am. Didn’t say I wasn’t, did I?”

John’s face fell. “Tell me that’s a joke.”

“It is a joke. A joke on me, a joke on you. But I’m not really a monster. I’m a monster to the monsters. So are you.” She reached down to the bottom of her nightstand and pulled out a photo album. “Here, have a look.”

John took it from her. It must have been about a hundred years old. Maybe older. Not a bit of plastic on it, except for pages added in the back. He opened it.

A small child, about two, sitting on presumably her mother’s lap. Dark hair and eyes and a serious face gazed out at him. A gaze he’d been acquainted with not ten minutes ago.

“I was born in 1875. That photograph was taken in 1877. I had to sit still for an hour. Nana Boudreaux gave me a tonic to make me sedate.”

John’s eyes narrowed as he thumbed through the pages. The pictures weren’t fake, that much he could tell. Some were Dauggerotypes of people who looked like Sabine, and some were holding Sabine as a baby. The same people, not much older than they’d been in the other photos. “What is this?”

Sabine sat down. “You’re a hunter, John. A genetic anomaly that’s seen exceptionally rarely. As long as I’ve been alive, there were only five on the whole planet. I thought I was the only one left.” She barked a laugh. “Kinda glad I’m not.”

to be concluded … 


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October Frights – Day Five – Five A.M.

“You’ve got blood on your face.”

John breathed a huff of laughter through his nose and wiped his face with one of the towels. The blood bags, as Sabine called them, had run off for home or wherever they’d come from.

“This is something I could do every day,” he said, folding up the towel and putting it in his pack. “I mean, is this something you do every day, really?”

“Really.” Sabine lit a cigarette. “Glad the fire didn’t get out of control this time.”

“Nah, we did pretty good.” John reached out to Sabine. “Got one to spare? I think my last one got crushed when the Conductor hit me.”

Sabine laughed. “Sure.” She handed him a cigarette. “That wasn’t the Conductor, though. That was just one of the First Chairs. The Conductor runs this city, underground. She’s on my list.”

“Yeah? You want help with that?” John winced at the eagerness in his voice. “Sorry, didn’t mean to go all hyper dog on you.”

“I didn’t say no, did I?” She lit his cigarette, then put the gold lighter back in her jacket. “This job feels like I’ve been doing it for ages. I could use a companion. You know how to fight, you’re kinda rash, but that works sometimes.”

“I need a place to stay.” John rubbed the back of his neck. “That Hostel looks okay.”

Sabine shook her head. “No. That place is a Rhapsody.”

“Well, fuck. It’s all I can afford.”

“Shut up, John. You gonna be my companion or not?”

“If you’ll have me.”

“Good. Then you’ll stay at the warehouse with me. Got a big bed we can share and a little loft love nest.”

John shook his head. “I can just sleep on the floor.”

“Don’t give me that shit. We’re adults. Nothing’s gonna happen if we don’t want it to happen.” Sabine smirked. “You can control yourself, even if I can’t, Mister Sleep-on-the-Floor.”

“Thanks, Sarge.”

They turned the corner, walking away from the Hostel onto Beanton Street. John paused and grabbed Sabine’s arm.

“You hear that? It’s like a chewing sound.”

Sabine nodded. “Yeah. You’ve been called to the Hunt. You’re gonna hear things like chewing, sucking, whispers, static on a radio, and glass breaking for a few full moon cycles. Don’t worry, you’re not losing your shit. It fades away, and you’ll only hear it when there’s a monster nearby after that.”

She reached out and patted the hand encircling her arm. “John, that’s a tight grip. Come on, Soldier. Pull yourself together and we’ll head home.”

He loosened his grip after a moment. “Sorry. It’s just that I could see everything that happened. You lying there, waiting for that vampire. The stakes through hearts, the ax through that one’s head.”

“The sexy one that tried to entrance you.” Sabine smirked. “You were resistant.”

“Yeah. I’m not impressed by it. I just … saw what she was.”

“Good. That’ll keep you alive.”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day Four – Three A.M.

“I kind of wish holy water would work. What about garlic?”

“Nope. Hang on to your wooden stakes and be sure to keep them in there when you cut off their heads. All else fails, use the flamethrowers.” Sabine pointed to their packs.

John’s eyebrows raised. “Flamethrowers? Why don’t we just use these in the first place?”

“One, because it’s arson and there are innocent humans around that they keep for feeding. Two, we’re going into one Rhapsody. We don’t want to attract the Orchestra.” Sabine hoisted her pack over both shoulders and sighed. “What? Why are you giving me that look? I didn’t make up those fucking names.”

The laughter that came out of John’s mouth sounded rough and dry. Almost humorless. “Yeah, it’s um … kinda lame.”

“Kinda. But they fancy themselves immortal musicians. Their world is the Orchestra, and each Rhapsody is part of its makeup. They have Symphonies, Brass, blah blah blah. One Rhapsody’s called Bohemian. Kid you not.”

John shook his head. “Someone liked Queen.”

“Guess so. But the other terms aren’t a modern invention. Anyway, it’s almost three. They’ll be settling down to feed about now, so now’s the best time to strike. Feeding time is when they’re at their most vulnerable.”

John nodded. “So we kick down the door and start staking.”

“No. We sneak in and start staking. Make sure you hand each human a towel and tell them to put direct pressure on their puncture wounds. Otherwise they’re gonna bleed to death. Got it? Stake, kill, save. Stake, kill, save.”

“Fine. But how do we sneak in, though?”

“We pose as bait, dumbass.” Sabine scowled at him.

“With flamethrowers on our backs, dumbass?” John tapped her arm. “Where do we put these?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll show you. Remember, these are a last resort. I’ve been watching this Rhapsody for a year now. Vampires love routine whether they admit it or not. They’re creatures of habit, just like humans.”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day Three – Midnight

“So that’s it?” Sabine pushed her empty plate aside and focused on her coffee. “That sucks, John. I’m sorry for the bad pun and for your loss. Best friends are harder to lose than lovers in some ways.”

John shook his head. “I don’t know about that. I mean, she was never my lover, but she was definitely the best friend I ever had. And they killed her. Done with her. Like she was nothing. All because of what? They needed to feed and she was convenient?”

He fell silent as the server wandered over to refill their mugs. Sabine watched her from the corner of her eye, then resumed talking.

“She uncovered their secret. Was gonna make it public. So yeah, she was convenient and they got a free meal off it. But you can’t just bust in there thinking about Hannah, all emotional and limp-dicked. You know better than that.”

“I won’t. I’m good at shutting it off to do what I need to do. Maybe they don’t teach you that in the Marines.” He smirked at her. “Kidding.”

“You better be. It’d be pretty embarrassing for you to get knocked on your ass by a hundred-pound woman.”

“I’d laugh at you for that, but I saw you take down that Faraj-his-face whatever his name was. Fucker was bigger than me.”

Sabine shook her head. “Size doesn’t matter when you’ve got Aikido on your side. Aikido and Krav. You just can’t afford a hit from someone as big as you are. So the trick is, don’t get hit.”

“Heh.”

Plates cleared and coffee diminished to droplets, Sabine paid the bill and put her beanie back on. “Come on, Big Guy. We’re gonna walk this off a bit, then wait till the Rhapsody is together. Got a nice plan in mind.”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day Two – Before Midnight

“I told you, don’t be stupid, John.” Sabine shook her head, dark eyes disapproving. “You don’t just waltz into a Rhapsody and start shoving stakes in hearts. Well, you do, but carefully.”

She handed her flask to him, his hand folding over hers as he took it. “This holy water?”

Sabine scoffed. “Vodka. Holy water is a bunch of bullshit. Crosses, Stars of David, any holy symbol? Chuck it out the window. It’s worth about that much. Vampires aren’t the Children of Cain, and they didn’t come from Vlad the Impaler forsaking God. Forget all that. Vampires are parasites that evolved over time, plain and simple.”

“God … so none of that works?” He took a sip off the flask and handed it back to her.

“Did I fucking stutter? Fuck’s sake, John. There are three ways to kill a vampire. Stake through the heart, decapitation, and setting it on fire. Fire kills everything.” Sabine put her flask away.

John sighed. “Yeah, fine. Got it.” He looked down at her, a smirk rising to his face. “Sabine?”

“What?”

“Why do you have to be a bitch all the time?”

“Fuck you. That a good enough explanation?”

John laughed. “Okay. So why’s it called a Rhapsody? Why not a coven or something?”

“You ask way too many questions for a man your age,” Sabine said. “Come on, I’ll buy you a coffee. You went through all the trouble to find me over a month. It’s the least I could do.”

They walked against a stinging wind, pulling their jackets tighter to their bodies. Grace City offered little protection from the gusts despite its towering buildings.

The dinging of bells signaled their entrance to Ted’s Diner, and the two sat down on red pleather, the squishing of butts to booths audible in the quiet stretch of bar stools. Clattering from the kitchen seemed to respond.

Sabine ran a hand through her hair as she removed her beanie and set it aside, placing her phone on top of it. John did the same, reminding Sabine a bit of a toddler copying his parent.

“Two coffees and two of your Big Ass Burger plates,” she said when the server approached.

John waited till the old woman went away to speak again. “Thanks, by the way. I’m starved.”

“Yeah, I can tell,” Sabine said. “Heard your stomach ask you for food. Anyway, you can’t go into a Rhapsody hungry. You’re hungry means your blood sugar’s low. Adrenaline rush will make you weak instead of strong. You can’t fight in a Rhapsody while you’re fighting hunger or fatigue. You tired?”

“Nope. I’m used to working nights. Was in the Army. Used to four hours sleep, too.”

Sabine shrugged. “Good. I was a Marine. Used to three hours, myself.” She grinned at him, then laughed. “Kidding. Why the hell are you interested in this, anyway?”

to be continued…


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October Frights – Day One – Nightfall

“Dawn is far more frightening than nightfall if you think about it, John,” she said, flicking the ash of her cigarette onto the ground. “I mean, look around. The dark keeps our secrets. The dark lets us really be free. People say if you shed light on the monsters, the monsters aren’t so frightening. Maybe that’s true, in a way, but what’s more frightening is that the monsters actually exist. When dawn comes, you see how ugly and twisted they are.”

Sabine held the cigarette between her fingers as a flash of silver came out of her jacket. “Don’t worry. Just a flask.”

She could see his body tense for a moment. “If I was going to kill you, you’d be dead already.”

John said nothing. Hadn’t spoken the whole night except to say how nightfall was creepy as the sun slipped down past the tall buildings to make its escape.

“I guess,” John’s voice was thick and gruff from disuse. “But how do you know I’m not a monster, and I’ve got you fooled into thinking I’m just this normal guy?”

Sabine shrugged. “Don’t be stupid. You’re not normal and you don’t have me fooled, but you’re not a monster, either.”

“How do you know?”

“Most monsters don’t ask that question. That’s how I know.” She pinched her cigarette out between her fingers and let the hot cinder flip to the ground, bouncing away on the concrete. “Besides, I can smell them a mile away.”

John made a noise in his throat, somewhere between a laugh and a grunt.

Sabine kept talking. “So you’re in this with me? You’re not gonna back out and break your promise?”

“Yeah, yeah. I didn’t believe in vampires till a month ago, but sure. Let’s go kill some.”

to be continued …


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The Editor’s Corner – Storytelling Ideas

Since last week I wrote about my progress with Mercy Hospital, I thought this week I’d publish a bit about what many new writers dread: ideas for a story that don’t go anywhere.

Thanks to a constant reader for requesting this installment theme.

“Where do you get your ideas?” is likely the most common question asked of writers. When you’re just starting out writing, it can also be one of the most frustrating things:  trying to think of something to write.

There are many approaches to coming up with ideas, but I’ll focus on just two of them and how to combine them: one, write by the seat of your pants; two, make a general outline of what you want to happen in a story.

Yes, you can actually combine these two approaches. It will help you drive your story and make it work.

When facing the blank page, write any sentence. Anything.

Here’s one off the top of my head:

Dave recoiled at the cold cup of coffee.

Okay, so that’s a start. I can go on talking about Dave and introduce a new character.

But then what? Where does the story go?

The first approach: With the first draft, don’t worry about it. Write it out until you can’t write anymore, and then worry about where the story is going.

The second approach: Don’t even attempt to write by the seat of your pants. Outline this first. Dave is at a diner and Cindy is supposed to meet him. The waitress wants him to leave, etc.

The combined approach: Write the first few paragraphs or a chapter, and then move to your outline to “direct” where these characters are going.

When I write, I use a mix of all of the above, depending on where my weak points are. When I have a clear idea of what I want to happen, I will outline the whole thing from beginning to end. When I don’t know what to write, I just write by the seat of my pants and allow for nothing to make sense until I’m editing. But most of the time, I combine the two by writing the first chapter and then outlining/directing the rest.

Most importantly, if you work with an outline, take your time getting to each point. It will help with the pacing, and you can always edit it later.

Happy writing!


This Halloween, give the gift of reading to a friend who loves horror. Pick up a copy of Now Entering Silver Hollow. And stay tuned for next week’s October Frights Blog Hop, courtesy of A. F. Stewart.

Update – Mercy Hospital

I thought this week I’d let you know my progress on the sequel to Now Entering Silver Hollow. We’ll get back to The Editor’s Corner pretty soon. But since I’ve had a few people ask how it’s going …

I’d say it’s going pretty well for an indie author with a full-time job. While I can’t give out any timelines just yet, I’ve had an opportunity to pick away at editing and have added a chapter so far.

Here’s a little taste of my progress. Keep in mind this is still going to have massive editing done to it, so the finished product may or may not have this in it:

2017-09-17 progress

So yes, I’m over 66,000 words now, and I still have a couple of chapters that need to be added. Now I’ve been writing this for some time, and I’ve recovered from two data failures, the death of my dog, and a new job that currently takes up to 14 hours of my days (including the commute). But I still pick away at the manuscript when I have a chance.

Once this second draft is finished, I will go through and do a third draft which is the developmental edit. I’ll look for consistency, continuity, make sure the story cycles aren’t too far out of whack, and then make sure my plot makes sense (somewhat, at least).

Then, the fourth draft will be a copy edit. Clarity, grammar, spelling, etc. All that good stuff. After that, I send the cleaned up copy “out” for a professional edit which is both developmental and copy. When it gets back to me, I’ll accept or reject the edits as needed and create my fifth draft.

The fifth one gets sent to my new proofreader, Jay Willison, for scrutinizing. I will also proofread it myself and let my editor take a final look at it. Three sets of eyes typically catch all the proofreading errors.

Then, the sixth draft will get a final coat of varnish, and I will set it up for publishing using the Pronoun platform. Print and eBooks will be available for your eager eyes and hot little hands.

I’m going to take advantage of NaNoWriMo 2017 to help me stay on track and get this process staying in motion, and I will update you periodically.

Until then, catch up on my weird world through Exit 1042 and Now Entering Silver Hollow. Happy reading!

-Anne

The Editor’s Corner – Polysyndeton

Last week I took a break to bring you some poetry, and I’m delighted it was well-received. This week, I bring us back to The Editor’s Corner to talk about polysyndeton.

I can just hear you now: “Anne, are you making up words now? We’re still early on with The Editor’s Corner, for crying out loud.”

But no, this is a real word that comes from the Greek “bound together.” This is a literary/writing device that allows for what people might think is a “run-on sentence,” but it’s not. Specifically, it is used to bring rhythm, repetition, and emphasis on the connected ideas. It can also bring a sense of excitement to the reader, and get them to pay attention to the change of pace in your paragraph.

I’ve heard people complain about run-on sentences, but when I read them, I recognize when it’s polysyndeton at work. It’s not something you want to overuse, but careful placement of it will help pace your work.

Of course, this is not an easy device to use, which is why some people complain about run-on sentences. It takes work and experience and skill and all of your knowledge on how to avoid a run-on sentence.

(See what I did there? That was polysyndeton at work.)

Here is an example of polysyndeton from Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ – note the emphasis and urgency it creates for the reader:

“Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly–mostly–let them have their whiteness.”

By not separating these ideas, Angelou made the idea far more powerful and moving for the reader. It paints a vivid picture rather than giving you a laundry list that might make you yawn, instead.

That’s all there is to it! Next time you have a powerful passage you’d like to express to your readers, give polysyndeton a try. Just be sure to use it sparingly.

Happy writing.


Grab a copy of Silver Hollow and Exit 1042 and get to know the author and what she enjoys about writing by visiting Anne’s author page. You can also check out her Facebook and Twitter. You know, if you want to be entertained.