World Building Friday – Vampire Ranks

So today, despite being a tad bit late, we are talking about Vampire Ranks in the Arkane World. Vampire’s have a different ranking system based on the number of years they’ve been a vampire. This is a very basic list, but it gets the point across. 🙂 Enjoy!

I hope that clears it up a little bit. 🙂 Thanks for reading! Enjoy your weekend! I know I will. As always my dears, drink your water, be safe, make good choices and don’t eat yellow snow!

Cut Chapter – The Bluebird Chronicles

Today, because it’s the middle of the month and I, of course, am behind on EVERYTHING…. I have decided to give you a cut chapter from what would have been the fourth book in the Bluebird Chronicles series. Back when the series was five books. Back when Noah had proposed to Penelope at the end of the second book and she’d accepted. Back when they’d gotten married in the third book, had a really bad miscarriage at the end of the third book. Back when Noah was cheating on her, and everything was different. Back before I had switched everything to first person POV.
This scene has a lot of things that no longer apply. So there will be mentions of things that are no longer part of the story. So let me do a quick recap of the original story-line that doesn’t exist anymore because I did something COMPLETELY different with this story.

So, originally, the story went like this. In the first book, Penelope meets Noah before she meets Reid and they start dating. Her and Reid screw up, and sleep together, making her and Noah to break up. Reid and Penelope start dating after that and then break up. When they break up, Penelope and Noah end up getting back together and trying again. At the end of the second book, Noah proposes and Penelope says yes. The get married in the third book. Just before the wedding, however, there was a moment where Reid and Penelope almost sleep together, but they don’t. Noah, however, believes that they did. Which causes some internal strife between Noah and Penelope. Reid is actually dating someone, though no one knows about it. He’s kind of kept it to himself. Penelope finds out she’s pregnant just after the honeymoon, and the timing is right about the same time that Noah thinks that Reid and Penelope slept together, so he doesn’t believe that the baby is even his.

When Penelope goes into labor early, Noah is no where to be found. He’s on location shooting a movie, and is sleeping with a co-star. No one can reach him. By the time they get ahold of him, Penelope has already delivered a severely pre-mature baby, who lives about two hours before she dies. Penelope has had an medical issue and also almost died. Everything is fine by the time Noah arrives, but he really doesn’t think that the baby was even his so he’s angry. Noah and Penelope end up arguing later on in the fourth book. They’re miserable, both of them, and angry. When they argue, it gets a bit physical, and Penelope ends up with a bruise on her arm where he grabbed her when she almost hit him. It’s turns toxic quickly after the miscarriage and Penelope decides she can’t live like that anymore and she leaves, going to see Callie. Reid shows up quickly after that and is with her when she goes to collect some of her things from the apartment in New York.

He’s the one that tells Noah that the baby was in fact his, and this creates a whole host of issues for Noah, especially since some tabloids caught wind of him cheating on Penelope (which he’s been doing practically the whole time they were married) and have run the story. Penelope goes back to Illinois to stay in the house that Noah bought them there. She and Reid start arguing pretty consistently, she finds out he has a girlfriend and has been lying to everyone about her, he’s mad at her for staying with Noah long after she should have, etc. They aren’t really on speaking terms. Neither are her and Noah.

The scene I have for you, happens just before the final paperwork is signed for their divorce. Bailey has finally been turned into a vampire, and in the original, Asher and Noah had hit it off really well and become friends, and then stayed friends when Penelope and Noah split. (Like I said, this story has changed A LOT). So naturally, he was invited to the party to celebrate since he was going to be in town anyway. Keep in mind that A LOT changed between this version and the version I am actually publishing, and while this version was fun and had an interesting plot, I eventually decided to tell a different story. You still have the background of Noah and Penelope, you still have a lot of the points, but now most of it happened before the first book starts.

Okay, if you’re still here, enjoy this cut chapter. Love you! As always, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow.

Cut Chapter from Lacuna
(now titled Forever Bluebird)

Penelope sighed before closing her eyes and taking a fortifying breath. She should have known he would be here. Of course he would be. What had made her believe he wouldn’t be. This was a party for Asher and Bailey. She’d finally completed her transition and they were all celebrating her new lease on life. Penelope had come straight from work, only to walk into the crowded bar to find not just Reid, who was awkward enough to still be around, but Noah as well. Of course they were nowhere near one another, but they had clearly divided the room up between the two of them, and she wasn’t safe anywhere. The last time she’d seen either one of them she’d argued with them both. Forcing a relaxed smile on her face, she cut her way through the crowd to where her best friend was standing with her husband. 

“PJ! You made it!” Bailey exclaimed, wrapping her arms around her as she got near. Penelope smiled warmly and returned the hug, pulling away after a moment to hug Asher as well. 

“Of course. Sorry, a meeting with a client ran long.” She told them as Asher pulled away. 

“It’s fine Pen, I’m just glad you’re here.” Asher told her with a small smile. 

“Yeah. I’m gonna get a drink. You guys need refills?” She asked, taking a step toward the bar, and a brief respite from the voices in her head. 

“No, we’re good.” Asher told her as Bailey fell into conversation with the woman standing next to her. She nodded and made her escape. 

She set her purse on the bar as she waited for the bartender to notice her and get to her. She scanned the crowd using the mirror above the bar so she caught the moment that Noah noticed she was there. She saw him stiffen across the room and take a long drink of the bottle in his hand before he tuned back into the conversation he was having with a leggy blonde in a short red dress. She rolled her eyes and looked back at the bar. The bartender caught her eye and nodded, letting her know he’d be with her in a moment. She tried to school her features as best she could, and took a cleansing breath. She could do this, for Bailey’s sake. As long as she avoided Noah and Reid she’d be okay, she’d be able to have a good time for at least an hour or two before she begged off and was able to leave. She’d worked a lot that week so claiming exhaustion wasn’t too far a stretch. Besides, she wanted a good night’s sleep before she had to meet Noah at the house to sign the paperwork that would officially make it hers. Their divorce was almost final, they just had a few more things to settle, which is why he was in town in the first place. Probably why Asher and Bailey had decided to celebrate now, even though technically Bailey had been a vampire for almost a month and a half now. 

Grandmere had been by recently and had even blessed the event. Placing Bailey firmly under her protection. Reid had been irritated that she’d come to town to see Penelope instead of him and they’d fought about it, even though it was stupid. It seemed like all they did anymore was fight. She broke herself out of that thought as the bartender finally approached her. She ordered two shots of whiskey and a beer. She took the shots back to back before picking up her beer and her purse and walked away from the bar and made a circle of the room, saying hello to people as she went. 

Half an hour later she was standing in the corner catching up with Sama when Reid walked over with Shiloh, intent on starting a game of pool near where they were standing. Penelope smiled at Sama and excused herself to the bar for another drink. She sighed again when she reached the bar and squeezed in between groups of people she didn’t know who were also waiting. She’d attempted not to look at Reid, but she couldn’t help but notice the look on his face when she’d turned away. It had been hard to miss, especially when she could feel the bond pulling at her. She had it shut down, but she could always feel when he was trying to get a read on her. He was probably one of the only people left on Earth who could read her without the bond, but it worked better when he could hear her thoughts. She wouldn’t open it though, and she probably never would again. Last time she had, he’d used the information to hurt her and she still wasn’t sure she completely forgave him for that. 

This time when the bartender set her shots on the bar, she reached for one and a hand from behind her reached for the other. She turned to look at who it was as she downed the first one. Fin just smiled and downed the other. 

“If I have to watch you be so obvious about your avoidance of certain people, then I get to drink your shots.” He told her as he set the glass on the bar next to hers. Penelope chuckled. 

“I’m fine, it’s other people being weird, not me.” She told him as she picked up her beer and turned away. They moved away and toward a table where they could sit and talk. 

“Right.” He rolled his eyes. “You’re avoiding Reid so the two of you don’t argue about something stupid and no one blames you for avoiding your ex husband who has his tongue down someone else’s throat.” 

Penelope sighed again. “Look, what Noah does, and who he does it with, is no longer my business. It didn’t matter when we were together, why should it matter now?” She asked, taking a drink of her beer. 

“Reid seemed pretty put off about it.” 

“That’s his problem. Not mine. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not in charge of either of them. They’re grown. Old enough to take the consequences of their own actions and none of them are my fault.” 

Fin laughed before taking a drink of his own beer. “Girl please, this is me you’re talking to. I thought we were better friends than that. I wasn’t blaming you PJ, just informing you that if you’re wanting to make an early escape, you should before the two of them fight just to get your attention.” 

“They don’t want my attention. They’re preoccupied.” She scoffed, rolling her eyes again. 

“You sure about that?” Fin asked as he stood up, one eyebrow raised in question. Penelope shook her head but watched him walk away. She sighed again but didn’t get up, content to sit at the quiet table and finish her beer. She hadn’t talked to Bailey since she’d arrived but she wasn’t too worried, her and Asher were busy with their other friends. She saw them all the time, they wouldn’t be too upset.

“Are you really going to sit here and pout all night?” A voice behind her asked. Penelope closed her eyes and took a drink of her beer. Maybe if she ignored him he’d go away. She heard the chair Fin had vacated slide back, so he must have sat down. 

“What do you want, Reid?” She asked, not looking at him, instead focusing on the group around them. 

“Are you going to pout or are you going to party with your best friend?” He asked again, leaning on the table and into her space. She leaned back in her chair away from him, still refusing to look at him. 

“I am not pouting. I’m enjoying myself. Bailey and Asher are busy, I’ve talked to them, and Sama, and Fin actually.” She said finally before finishing what was left in her bottle. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need another drink.” 

“If you’d look at me Bluebird, you’d know I already got you another beer.” He said, a bottle appearing in her peripheral vision on the table. 

“How presumptuous of you.” She scoffed. “But I have to drive myself home soon, so I’ll be switching to something non-alcoholic, thank you.” She said standing. 

“I can drive you.” He said softly, causing her to pause. She almost broke and looked at him. “If you want, I mean.” 

“No thank you. I have no desire to fight with you tonight Reid.” She said finally, still standing by the table. 

“We don’t have to fight.” He assured her quickly. She closed her eyes and tipped her head toward the ceiling. 

“No Reid. We will. You’ll get mad at me about something stupid, again, and fight with me.” She turned to look him in the eye finally. “So why don’t you go back to your girlfriend? You guys don’t have to hide now, I thought you’d be happy to flaunt it.” Ried looked down at the table and picked at the label of his own beer. 

“She broke up with me, Pen.” He said sadly. “That’s why she’s not here.” Penelope swallowed hard. 

“Well I’m sorry. But I’ll be fine without the ride, thank you.” She said moving away. “Besides, I have to finalize my divorce tomorrow.” She threw back over her shoulder before she’d gone too far. 

From her place at the bar she watched him in the mirror. He sat there alone for a moment looking put out and her resolve almost broke. Then he downed the rest of the beer in his hand and the one he’d brought for her. He stood and moved away from the table, leaving the bottles and she lost him in the crowd shortly after that. She collected her soda from the bartender and made her way back over toward Bailey, intending to spend a little more time with her before she left. She didn’t want to think anymore about Reid, but her brain wouldn’t let go of the look on his face when he’d told her about the break up. If she hadn’t known him so well, she’d have thought he was pretending to be hurt for sympathy. But she did know him, and knew that wasn’t the case. 

She did her best to put it out of her mind while she visited with her friends before she made her excuses and left, just like she’d planned. She made it outside and stopped to heave a sigh of relief. Besides her brief conversation with Reid, she’d managed to avoid both him and Noah the entire two and a half hours she’d been there. She dug into her purse for her keys and was preparing to walk away when a voice behind her made her pause. 

“Where’s lover boy?” She tipped her head back and groaned aloud. She’d been so close. So close. Practically to her car already. 

“What?” She asked turning to face her ex-husband for the first time since their meeting with their attorneys. 

“Where’s Reid?” He asked, pushing himself off of the wall, a cigarette in his hand, and a distinctive slur in his voice. 

“Inside I assume. He’s not my responsibility. Though I caution you against fighting with him. B and Ash won’t take too kindly to it. Neither will the bartender. You really don’t need that press right now.” She found herself saying, before she cursed herself mentally. What did she care about his image anymore? He’d tainted it all on his own after being caught publicly cheating on her while she’d been pregnant. 

“How long did you wait before you took him to our bed?” He asked, coming closer to her and blowing out a lungful of smoke. She sighed again. 

“I didn’t. He’s been dating someone since before you and I split.” 

“That’s never stopped either of you before.” He sneered. Penelope closed her eyes. 

“Yup. Once a million years ago just after we met and then we kissed once after you and I got back together. Of course it’s me that has the problem with-“ Penelope cut herself off and took a deep breath in through her nose before letting it out slowly through her mouth. “Nope. You know what, no. I’m not doing this with you. Not here on the sidewalk. Not ever. We’ve said enough. I’ll see you tomorrow to sign the papers.” She said before she turned and walked purposefully away. 

“I know you tried to fuck him in the house I bought us, before we’d even moved into it. Why do you think I’m letting you have it?” He called after her. She clenched her fists and made herself keep walking. When she was finally inside her Jeep, she locked the doors and leaned her head on the steering wheel. 

It could have gone worse, she thought to herself, but it also could have been better. With a deep breath she started the car and drove off toward her house. Once there, she locked the doors and made her way upstairs to the bathroom. After a hot shower and a small cup of tea, she tried to block out the fight she’d almost gotten into with Noah. She almost wanted to call and see if Bailey would come to the house the next day, just to keep them from fighting. Noah tended to be on his best behavior when he was sober and someone else was around. 

The next morning dawned bright and early. Penelope drug herself out of bed, did her morning workout, and then pulled out her IPad to get started on some work for a client while she drank her morning cup of coffee. Noah knocked on the door at precisely ten o’clock and Penelope steeled herself before she pulled the door open and let him in. He followed her silently to the kitchen where they laid the papers on the island counter. 

“It’s all here, just like I said it would be. You get the house here in Illinois, and the apartment in New York. I get the LA apartment and my house in London, obviously. That’s one house and one apartment each. You get to retain your income from your business, I retain everything I earned from my career, and you don’t owe me anything for the investment in your company.” He said, his voice attempting a calm facade that he couldn’t quite reach. 

“All wrapped up with a neat little bow.” She snarked. He shot her a look and she shook her head, she didn’t want to fight with him. She wanted to sign the paperwork and get it over with. 

“Are we going to fight or are we going to do this?” He asked, setting the pen down on the counter. 

“Let’s just get this over with Noah.” She said with a sigh. 

“According to the prenup you signed, I don’t have to give you anything and you would owe me for that two million dollar investment, plus interest. Is that the route you want to go because we can.” He said, his voice tinged with acid. 

“You’re the one who cheated on me. It makes the prenup invalid anyway. So I could take you for half of everything.” She sneered back at him, narrowing her eyes. He swallowed hard. “But I don’t want it. I wanted a marriage. I wanted someone who loved me. Since I’ve been denied that, I’ll take whatever you’re willing to give me as a consolation prize.” 

“I’m not the only one who cheated, remember?” He said. 

“Hey Bluebird,” Reid’s voice rang out from above them before Penelope could respond. They turned to look up at the loft. Reid was standing there, nothing on but a pair of low slung sweatpants that made it clear he wasn’t wearing anything underneath them. Penelope closed her eyes and groaned audibly. 

“Murder Christian Reid Walker. I am going to murder you.” She muttered. Noah turned and looked at Ried, who was just smirking in their general direction, braced against the railing like he didn’t have a care in the world, and back to Penelope, shaking his head. 

“Why is it that every time you and I have something important to do, he’s up in our business? Every fucking time Penelope. Hell, he was smack dab in the middle of our entire relationship, right from the beginning.” He stacked the papers back up and tapped them against the counter. “What was that lie you told me about not bringing him into our bed again?” He sneered at her, throwing the pen onto the counter, where it bounced and landed on the floor. 

“I didn’t. I don’t actually know what he’s doing here besides being an asshole.” She told Noah, not sure why she was defending herself to someone that didn’t deserve it. 

“Just sign the papers so I can be done with this freak show.” Noah spat as Reid slowly made his way down the stairs. 

“Yeah, sign the papers and come back to bed Pen.” He said, hiding a smirk as he bypassed Noah to grab a bottle of blood out of the fridge. He leaned against the opposite counter and raised an eyebrow at Penelope. 

“I can’t believe you.” Noah muttered before looking at Reid. Penelope snatched the pen off of the floor and hurried to sign the papers before they started fighting. “I thought you had a girlfriend.” He spat at him. 

“We broke up.” Reid said with a grin. “Couple weeks after you and Pen called it quits finally.” Penelope rolled her eyes as she scanned the next page and signed it quickly. 

“Of course you did. I’m surprised you two waited that long to start sleeping together again. Your little avoidance show last night must have been a fun game of foreplay.” Noah spat. 

“Oh no, she was actively avoiding me. Has been for some time. Something about not trusting men ever again.” Reid told him calmly before taking another drink of blood. Penelope sighed as she scanned the last page. 

“Is that what you call it?” Noah sneered, turning to face Reid directly. Reid straightened. 

“It isn’t like we’re going to be estranged forever, Pretty Boy. She’s my Flame, remember? I will always have a stronger connection to her.” Reid told him as he set the bottle to the side. “Someone had to make sure you didn’t hurt her. Lord knows she wouldn’t let me hurt you when you left bruises on her skin, maybe she’s changed her mind. Should we ask her?” 

“And I’m done. Here Noah. Take these.” Penelope said suddenly, shoving half of the papers at him, along with the pen. “Now leave. I’m done with that. I’ll have Asher and Bailey collect anything that I may have left in London or LA. I’ll have them deliver anything I find here or in New York.” She demanded, staring Noah down, daring him to say anything else. 

“Fine. I’m done with this. Have a nice life.” Noah spat in her direction before he picked the papers up off of the counter. “You two deserve each other.” He added over his shoulder. 

“Damn right she deserves someone who won’t do to her what you did.” Reid called after him. Penelope waited until the door slammed before she turned to Reid. 

“Get out of my house.” She bit out between clenched teeth. 

“Come on Penelope, we need to talk.” 

“No we don’t. I have nothing to say to you just like I have nothing to say to him. My marriage blew up in my face and your response was to ridicule me and use it as a weapon against me. That wasn’t fair.” She told him before shaking her head. “It doesn’t matter anymore. Get out.”

Soundtrack of My Life – Part 2

A few years ago, before my divorce, I wrote My Life as a Song – Part One. It was part of a writing challenge I was doing with a friend, and it was to write something autobiographical. I made a youtube playlist and everything. It was over on my personal blog that I never post to anymore, but I got this idea that I would do a Tuesday Ten in the same kind of vein, only this time, not only will it be more than ten, but I’m going to use some of the songs that I write to. Songs that have influenced plot points, characters, entire stories. Sometimes even series. I hope you enjoy them. I have made a youtube playlist as well, and included the link, because not all of the songs were on Spotify, I checked.

So, without further ado, I give you, in no particular order, The Soundtrack of My Life – Part Two.

Trenches by Beth Crowley – This song is amazing and actually inspired a few characters actually. Not that it does much of that now, but originally it inspired some of the stuff that happened in the Dohmnall series with a certain character. Now that I’ve changed that story though, it’s a little different, and it no longer applies. Though, it did inspire some of my fanfic. I have an entire series of Fanfic that should be getting written this year and published on AO3 that literally takes it’s name from the title of this song. I’ve already written a couple of the shorts that go with this series, one is posted but the other comes at the end, so it’s not.

Bluebird by Elizabeth Smart – This song is where I got Penelope’s nickname in The Bluebird. Chronicles. I know it’s originally a Destiel song, but the lyrics apply to Reid and Penelope so well. It’s my favorite thing and I love it.

Yes I Will by Backstreet Boys – I have talked about this song before. It’s the song that inspired the title of No Ordinary Love. There’s one line in the song that goes “This is no ordinary love, and I could never have enough….” I wrote the original fanfic that No Ordinary Love is based off of on paper. It was two full five subject notebooks by the time I threw it away before I left for the Navy. I used to hide in my room and write and listen to music. Because of that, I would scribble song lyrics in the margins while I thought through the next part I was writing. I noticed one day going back through the notebook that the same three words were written on almost every single page somewhere. So, naturally I titled the story that.

Please by Bette & Evermore by Dan Stevens – I have paired these two songs for a reason. If you have never listened to these songs, I challenge you to listen to them back to back. Please and then Evermore. Do it. It sounds like two people in a relationship who want the same thing, but because of shitty communication skills, they lose it. I had both of these songs on my playlist that I listened to a lot back in 2020 and one day while I walked home from work, they played back to back and I had to go back and listen again. And then again. This sparked an idea, which became the entire basis for Hold On, an Avengers Fanfic that I wrote, and published in 2020. It was my therapy after my dad died, all because of these two songs. It’s amazing the power of music.

Humbling River by Puscifer – This song was one of the original songs that inspired The Dohmnall Institute series, back when it was called Halls of Ivy. Back when it was a baby idea. Back when I was writing it alone. It doesn’t apply as much now, but it’s still on every playlist I make for that series. Every. Single. One. because I want to remember the excitement of when we first started, and why we came up with the idea in the first place.

Leave your Lover by Sam Smith – Originally, this was the song that was playing when Reid and Penelope first sleep together. In the original version, before the rewrites, before Noah became a background character, she was dating Noah at the time, and this song was EXACTLY how Reid felt. He wanted her to leave Noah for him, though he’d never actually ask that of her because he wasn’t sure he could trust his own emotions. He had never felt anything like this before.

How Did I Fall In Love With You by Backstreet Boys – Dohmnall Institute/Metanoia Chronicles and No Ordinary Love. This song is about falling in love with your best friend. It’s interesting the way that kind of happens, not just in writing but in real life as well. I love it and it fits so well with the characters that I’ve assigned it to and their eventual journey.

Castle by Halsey – Reid and Penelope. That’s it. It makes me think of them. It’s the song that’s playing when Reid and Penelope kiss for the first time.

Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton – Also a Reid and Penelope song that’s important in the third book for reasons. I can’t tell you now, but when you read it, you’ll know. That’s the song that plays.

Sacred Heart by The Civil Wars – In the original fanfic version of It Could Be Monsters, this is the song that Tess sings to Tucker. You don’t get lyrics in the new version, but this is still the song. When you get to meet these characters, and you understand their journey, I hope you enjoy it. The songs in French too, so there’s that. I absolutely love it.

The Rest of Our Life by Tim McGraw & Faith Hill – Basher. This is 100% an Asher and Bailey wedding song. That’s it. If I had to pick a single song to describe their life together, it would be this on.

Things we lost in the fire by Bastille – This is a song for Black Balloon. I think that it helps me remember the pain and the healing journey that Hadley (the FMC) is on.

Careless Whisper by Seether – Also a Black Balloon song. No explanation needed really.

I hate u, I love u by Gnash ft. Olivia O’Brien – This song is 100% Mason and Ember from No Ordinary Love. I cannot imagine any other couple in all of what I write that it fits so well, besides maybe one other couple, but I refuse to tell you about them yet.

Okay, we’re going to end it there. I know that it’s only 15 songs, but if I don’t stop there, I will go on forever. There are others that I absolutely love, and I do post a weekly playlist, but unfortunately those are just some of the songs I’ve listened to in the last week. I have posted the playlist above, so enjoy that and I will see you guys tomorrow. As always my loves, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow!

Character Profile: Luca Watson

Luca is one of the background/secondary characters in No Ordinary Love. He’s part of the band that Mason is in, Blue Sundays. He doesn’t appear too often in the story, except in times when the whole group is together.

Luca’s life was a simple one, he grew up the younger brother to Ashton, who is also in the band. He married Twyla about three years before the book starts, so they’re just out of that honeymoon period and are happy to simply be. Luca loves to spoil Twyla and their two dogs, Max and Ruby. After being on the road, or away from home for any length of tie, Luca prefers to stay in bed for the entirety of the first day. Twyla often stays with him. They read, they talk, they just spend that time getting to know the people they’ve become while he’s been away. He loves his job, he loves his life, but he loves his wife and family more. He would give up everything if it meant safety and security for himself and his wife, but Twyla would never ask him to, though she hates it when he’s gone, she’d never ask him to give up his dream.

Luca is calm and level headed ninety percent of the time, but he’s also hyper and scatter-brained and has a million ideas all the time. He writes a lot of the lyrics and music for what the band ends up recording. The other guys pitch in as well, but almost everything is written by Luca and Alec, at least the bare bones of it. Parker usually does a lot of the music. When they’re home, it’s not uncommon for Luca to be over at Alec’s while they spend time in the recording studio that Alec has, or at Luca’s, hanging out on the back porch watching the dogs play in the yard while they work. It’s an easy existence that makes Luca appreciate what he has, but he will never stop working for it either.

I’m working on No Ordinary Love again next month and with the current re-write that I’m doing, I’m hoping to include Luca and Ashton a little more than I had before. They’re good characters, important to the story, but they’re background important. They’re helping fuel the storyline from the outside and I’m excited to get to show that a little more now that I’ve switched it to first person and part of it is from Mason’s POV. Despite the little bit that I have on him, I absolutely love Luca, and he is an inspiration to me, with the little bit I know. I can’t wait to expand on that and I hope you guys will love him too.

Well that’s it for me today. I’ll see you guys tomorrow, but for now, as always, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow.

Setting Preview: Ember’s Apartment

So this week we’re going to talk about Ember’s apartment. Ember is one of the MC’s from No Ordinary Love. She works for an advertising agency in Orlando and she has a loft apartment in a building and she loves it. It’s not very big, but it’s everything to her.

Ember’s apartment is a story and a half high. When you walk into her apartment, you come into the living room. If you take a left, you can find the kitchen, which is underneath the loft. There isn’t a table, or anything where you can sit and eat. It really is quite a small space. She has three stools at the counter on the opposite side of the kitchen and she sits there and does work a lot. Though mostly she eats on the couch when it’s just her. Her couch is tucked partially back underneath the stairs with the tv across from it and it is extremely comfortable. It has to be, since Shaye and Mason often crash on it. Most of her furniture has extra storage built into it, and that helps her have more in the apartment that doesn’t take up a lot of room.

Once you go upstairs, it’s her bedroom. It’s not hidden behind walls or anything like that, there’s just the bannister at the edge of the platform and the stairs. Like with most lofts, everything is open. So, she has a small desk over in the corner where she keeps anything that she has to bring home, but she doesn’t work there very often. She’s got a smallish reach in closet, and then her bed completely dominates the space. She could have gone with something smaller, but wants to be comfortable. Most of her money is put into her savings account for the house she wants to buy one day, so she isn’t too picky. Her decor is minimal but classy because while she has a famous best friend, she isn’t making that kind of money, but she still wants a nice place to call home.

Ember is simple, and her home reflects that. Though her complicated emotions about people are anything but simple. Her home is her escape, and it’s reflected in the way she chooses to decorate and present herself within that space. It’s a place for Mason to go and remember their more humble roots, and where they started together in a little neighborhood where the most important thing was ice cream on Fridays. Back when her parents were still alive.

I hope you like the little bit of Ember’s apartment that you get to see here. That’s all for me this week. I’ll see you on Monday! Have a great weekend everyone. As always, drink your water, be safe, make good decisions, and don’t eat yellow snow.

How I do research

Today I want to talk about the process I use when I have to do research for a story. If you’ll be so kind to indulge me while I talk. Hopefully I can help someone else who’s trying to figure out how to do research for a novel.

There are a lot of things that I write that require me to do a lot of research. On cities where I have never been but have decided to use as a setting; an apartment different from the one that I own; anything that I do not have experience with. Then there is the lore, though I like to play fast and loose with it, I still feel obligated to look it up so that I know where to start. So, sometimes I do research. There is a lot of research currently being done on the next series I plan to write, the Dohmnall Institute series. It’s a school and so there are a lot of things that go into that and so the research and planning before I can plot, is an immense undertaking.

When I start researching something, let’s use the latest thing I researched for an idea I had for an upcoming novel. For plot reasons, I had to search up avalanches and what could potentially happen and whether or not they’re common anywhere in North America in late April, early May. I started with simple searches on google. Got the information I needed, then went on to research branch things that I thought of, like if someone had an amputation, how would that look? What is the recovery process? What types of prosthetics are there? How do they fit? Then I had to look at other things that went along with that that had more to do with the plot, which I won’t reveal too much of because it may later be a plot twist.

After all of that I had to think of how these things would be different or the same in an Arkane world setting. It’s a little about thinking outside the box. Double checking sources, and then I do whatever the hell I want to anyway. Everything I do is taken with a bit of artistic liberty where I please, because I can. But at least I know the source material well through my research. I do enjoy my research, and sometimes it’s a simple as looking up apartment or house plans on Pinterest, or going to Google to find out information. Like with Dohmnall, the Arkane are my take on witches, and each character is connected to one of the six elements. They are born with an ability to do something connected to that element, whether it ultimately be helpful or not. Some characters can do simple things like making flowers bloom out of season. Others can do more complicated things, like creating fire out of nothing. It’s a fun series, but required A LOT of research on my part.

I find that not everything needs to be researched though. Sometimes, like I said before, artistic liberty is the best course of action. I put buildings and neighborhoods where there is already something there. Like the Arkane neighborhoods in New York that occur in the Bluebird Chronicles. Or the building in Montmartre that Akina resides in, it’s not a real place. I just decided it was there. It works because of artistic license. Never underestimate the value of that, it saves your sanity I promise you. What I do with all of this research is another thing entirely. I have entire notebooks full of notes for different things and then I also have charts, graphics, lists, etc. that I’ve made on Canva and saved to keep me organized. I have made an entire perpetual plot calendar for myself where I can outline and schedule all of the books in the Arkane world. I have a seprate one for my regular romance novels.

So, how do you research for your novels? Are you precise? Willy-nilly? Do you make charts and graphics? How do you do it? Share with us in the comments.
As always my dears, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow.

Character Preview: Adas Bardhyl

This week on the Monday Character Preview we have Adas Bardhyl. Adas is the Alpha of the Amate Pack in Australia. He’s a minor secondary character from the Bluebird Chronicles and has connections to the main characters because he has been dating Reid’s sister Echo Kingston for the past ten years. Read on to learn more about this character.

Adas is the Alpha of his pack, and unlike the Aedion Pack in NYC, the Amate pack has no King of Queen. They left those titles behind twenty years ago or so, making Adas the senior ranking member of the pack. His second in command is his brother-in-law and one of the younger members of the pack, Cadmus Thane, is his third. It works out well as he ends up married to his psuedo-daughter Aria. Aria is Echo’s daughter and when he started dating Echo, he took on the roll of father figure to Aria and has enjoyed it immensely.

He and Echo met by chance in town one day at the grocery store while she was trying to figure out where to find some snack that Aria had asked for. Being a vampire, especially an old one, she doesn’t eat all that much, so she was having trouble. He offered his help and by the time they’d finished shopping, they had a date scheduled and the rest is history. Adas absolutely loves his life, and though Echo has told him repeatedly that she will not marry him, he asks her every couple of years anyway. He’s even been given a place as an honorary member of the Arkane Royal Family, though has turned down an official title until such time that Echo agrees to marry him, though she probably won’t ever do that. He’s content to spend his life with her as they are anyway.

Nothing about Adas or his pack is normal. He’s a werewolf in love with a vampire and raising a kitsune for a daughter. Their life is far from ordinary and he loves it that way. Though Echo won’t marry him, she has officially been given a role within the pack as his Luna, making her the highest ranking female in the pack, even though she isn’t a werewolf. Aria also will hold an official place within the pack once she and Cad are married. She’s already a junior member of the pack and Adas made it so without any care of what the rest of the pack thought about it. Though he did get some backlash from some pack members, everyone has now settled into it as though it is completely normal and are quite defensive about it if anyone should speak negatively about the oddity that is their pack.

In addition to his own homestead, Adas owns a couple of properties, the small community where the Elder members of the pack live is owned and maintained by the pack itself, and the younger members take care of the yards and any housekeeping or maintenance that needs to be done. There is also a Pack House for the younger single members of the Pack that have left home but aren’t quite wanting to be on their own. This is on the same property as his home with Echo, and there is even a small cottage near the back of the property that Aria and Cad have moved into.

Well, that’s about everything about Adas that I can tell you for now. Like I mentioned at the beginning, he’s a minor secondary character so I don’t know that much. I know more about the pack dynamics which I will be discussing one Friday coming up soon and it will be more clear then I think. Well, enjoy your Monday everyone. As always, drink your water, make good choices and don’t eat yellow snow my loves. Until tomorrow!

Vampire Lore in the Arkane World

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when I did my first round of Author Takeover’s over on the CWP Facebook pages, that I haven’t really explained the lore for the vampires in my world. I like to play fast and loose with lore sometimes and I should probably explain that. I mean, it does get explained some in the book, but Blood Song doesn’t actually come out until July…that’s months from now. So, that’s what we’re going to do this World Building Friday. Explain Vampire Lore and why I played fast and loose with the mythos that everyone has grown to accept about vampires in fiction.

Let’s start with what is commonly accepted as vampire lore. There’s the no going out in sunlight or they burn; the avoidance of mirrors, and garlic; they have to be invited inside; that either a beheading or a stake through the heart will kill them; they do not age, their bodies are frozen where they are when they’re turned. That’s the most basic, and most of what I’ve made my own.

Let’s start with the ability to go out in sunlight. My vampires can, provided they meet very specific requirements. Vampires in the Arkane World are required to do two things to be able to freely roam around in the sunlight.

1. They must have had enough sleep. How much depends on the age of the vampire. The younger they are, the more sleep they need, which is why you rarely see Asher go without a night of sleep, where as Reid can stay up for days, not that he likes to.

2. They must get enough blood. Again, the proper amount is dependent upon their age. This time, the older they are, the more blood they need. Kind of the opposite, which is why you see Reid down at least two bottles of blood for every one that Asher drinks. Asher was turned at some point in the later fifties, Reid already had almost half a century on him at that point. The older the vampire, the more blood they need, it’s that simple.

Even when these two requirements are met, direct sunlight is slightly painful to vampires. Reid describes it to Penelope in the first book like this:

“Yes, we have to consume a certain amount of blood each day and get enough sleep to be able to go out in sunlight. Even then it still feels like you’re healing from a sunburn, though we have ways around that feeling.”

– Reid Walker, Blood Song, Chapter Five

What he doesn’t mention, is that it’s like a really, really bad sunburn and you’re outside in a tank top, said sunburn once again exposed to the sun. If you’ve ever had a really bad sunburn, you know that being out in the sun afterward, even with it covered can be painful. Though, like he says, they have ways around that. Which leads me to my next point about the sun. A long time ago, someone figured out that wearing a piece of Lepidolite dampened that extreme sunburn feeling to something more like a bad sunburn, completely covered, on a cloudy day. It still hurts, but it’s a lot easier to ignore, or at least get used to. So, not that it’s always mentioned, but most of my vampires wear a piece of Lepidolite; Reid and Asher both have rings. Emma (because Dhamphir’s can feel it too, if not as acutely as their vampire counterparts) has a wide variety of Lepidolite jewelry so that she can wear it with anything, but her favorite is a necklace with a large chunk of it that’s been wrapped in cord.

[DISCLAIMER: Wearing Lepidolite DOES NOT actually negate the effects of sunlight. I took a stone, and altered it’s uses for my own purposes. I am not responsible for the wearing of Lepidolite as a form of protection against the sun.]

Now that we’ve talked about sunlight, let’s move on to mirrors, garlic, being invited inside, and Silver. One at a time though.

Garlic is easy: they aren’t repelled by it, instead it’s sort of a mild aphrodisiac. Why the misinformation floating around? They spread that themselves. Vampires could stand to be a little horny, but if being around Garlic proved they weren’t vampires back before they were known to humans, then that saved their ass and they were willing to deal with it.

Do vampires need to be invited inside private homes? While this is a matter debated within vampire lore itself and tends to vary from vampire story to vampire story, mine do not. Now, there are ways to keep the out, though you’d have to know where in the Arkane World to get such things, and most people do not. They’re difficult to make so those charms aren’t sold often and are usually created specifically for the person who needs it.

Mirrors: They can see themselves in mirrors just fine, thank you. This was another rumor that was started by vampires themselves, claiming that old silver backed mirrors made it so that they couldn’t see themselves. How much easier was it to prove that they weren’t vampires than to be able to say “Look, I can see my reflection, I cannot possibly be a vampire.” This, like the garlic rumor, and the rumor that they had to be invited inside, were all planted as a form of protection. Though that hasn’t been necessary as a mainstream idea for almost a century, it’s still common practice not to correct anyone either. Unless, like Penelope or Bailey, the people you tell can be trusted.

Silver is a little more complicated to explain, though not difficult to understand. Though it’s a hotly debated subject, in the Arkane World, Silver is bit of an issue for vampires (and werewolves too but for different reasons).

Let’s say that Penelope is wearing a silver necklace or a silver ring. It wouldn’t bother Reid a single bit. This is because a vampire can touch silver or be around silver without any harm to their person (another rumor like the ones before.) The problem occurs when Silver comes into contact with a vampire’s blood. In the third book, Flames and Feathers, there is a scene where Reid runs his finger along the edge of a Silver dagger to check how sharp it is. That feels a bit like a stinging burn rather than all out pain, but he can feel it because the dagger is quite sharp and does cut him just a bit, (which is what he wanted to do, don’t worry).
So, a recap: Silver against their skin – Not a problem.
Silver in contact with their blood – problem
Silver injected INTO their bloodstream – BIG problem.

So, now that we’ve discussed sunlight, mirrors, garlic, being invited inside, and Silver, let’s move on to their aging and bodily functions.

My vampires are immortal. That is a fact, though they can be killed and we’ll get to how a bit later. Right now I want to talk about how my vampires age and why they’re even able to create Damphir’s in the first place.

First, when my vampires’s are turned, it’s an issue with the blood and the way the body processes it. To become a vampire, you have to die with a significant amount of vampire blood in your system. Since vampire blood does tend to make one a tiny bit high, this is not a well known fact. It is one that they’ve managed to hold on to for a very long time. All anyone knows, for the most part, is that one must die with vampire blood in their system. The actual quantity is unknown, and that’s probably because the actual amount is dependent on the age and blood line of the vampire in question. This is usually explained to the vampire when they themselves are a new vampire and it’s knowledge they must have to successfully turn a human. There is no in between stages in my world, either it works, or it doesn’t.

A couple of things happen when a vampire turns, first, they’re in a half dead-half alive state (that they call Meditation) for an amount of time that can range from twelve hours to four days. This is dependent on a) how much vampire blood was in their system when they died; b) how much blood have they had before that incident; and c) how potent that particular blood line is. (Reid was in meditation for about eighteen hours. Asher took three days to wake up). How the transition takes place, really isn’t something you can study so no one is quite sure what happens, but while in meditation the human body changes how it processes blood, and other matter.

After transition:
– Vampire’s have no smell; this must be applied. Usually with the use of cologne/perfume or something similar. Scented products are common and are often used now to create a false aroma to those around them.
– Vampire’s need a constant supply of human blood to keep their bodies performing similarly to a humans. They can cry, they bleed, they get thirsty, their hair grows, etc, but it all happens a little differently.
– a vampire’s sense of taste gradually fades until they cannot taste anything. Reid is 121 at the beginning of Blood Song and while he still has his sense of taste, it is no where near as acute as Asher’s, and their friend Shiloh’s has been completely gone for a long time. Because of this, Reid doesn’t care whether he drinks his blood warm or cold, it all tastes the same: sort of muted like he has a cold. It can take anywhere from 100 to 300 years for their sense of taste to completely disappear, and there is no rhyme or reason as to how long it will take or why that happens.
– A vampire’s hair does continue to grow, as long as they are sleeping and drinking the correct amount of blood. However, it is VERY VERY slow. Reid goes for a haircut maybe once ever twelve to eighteen months. Because of this, vampire’s don’t often make drastic changes to their look, as it will be a long time before they can change it again, this is also why very few of them grow facial hair. Imagine the few months where it looks weird and patchy taking the better part of a decade, no thank you.
– Vampire’s can eat. But usually only the young do. Older vampire’s usually find a way around not eating, but that usually goes back to the taste thing. It isn’t that they can’t, it’s just uncomfortable. Like everything else, that system of the body takes a long time to process anything besides blood. This is why vampires in the Arkane world are often seen drinking things that are not blood (liquids are easier to process), and occasionally eating.

This is all so a vampire can better blend in with humans and was essential prior to when their existence was revealed. Now, it’s not so difficult to get out of eating if they do not wish to. There are Arkane cafés that cater specifically to Elentori clientele like vampires. Most of those options have blood mixed in, as that acts as a digestive aid. While it’s not discussed, my vampires can get high, or use chemically reactive drugs. They are made in the Arkane world for this specific purpose, but like most street drugs in our world, they’re illegal and one would have to be able to track them down. With the rise in popularity of tattoos, the Arkane world came up with an answer to that as well. They have figured out how to tattoo a vampire and have it stay, which is a trick since my vampires heal quickly. (Think Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes super soldier quickly). There is an instance where Reid cuts his hand and minutes later it’s almost completely healed. It’s a thing that they enjoy, though most wish that their clothes would heal when they do.

Because my vampires are still human in a lot of aspects, the males are able to reproduce. Female vampire’s cannot get pregnant. That’s a huge body change that their body is no longer equipped to handle once they’ve transitioned. However, a male vampire, who is “healthy” can, as it doesn’t require their body to change at all. This is where Damphir’s come from. Their vampire parent is always their paternal line. That’s not to say that their mother doesn’t become a vampire after the fact, but prior to their birth, a Damphir’s mother is a human, or another Elentori race capable of childbirth.

I did not mess with the ways a vampire can die. They can be killed with a stake through the heart. They do die if you cut off their head, most things do. If too much silver is introduced into their bloodstream, that will kill them. The only thing that is usually accepted that won’t kill them is sunlight.

But what happens when a vampire doesn’t get enough blood or rest? Good question. Without enough blood or rest, vampires will start to whither. They will start looking gaunt and sallow. Their coloring will fade, and they will be extremely pale. The sun will eventually be a problem and they’ll start wanting to only be out at night, because it’s the only time they find any kind of relief. If they go long enough without enough blood and rest, the sun can kill them. HOWEVER it takes quite a bit of time for that to happen. The exact time frame, again, varies based on the vampire in question.

Well, that’s all I can think of that I’ve changed. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this and have a new understanding of how the vampires in the Arkane World are different from those that you’ve seen portrayed in media before. I told people I like to play fast and loose with what is typically considered to be the accepted lore. If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer about it, feel free to leave them in a comment below. For now, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow! Have a great weekend!

Who inspired my characters

There is always some sort of inspiration behind every character a writer creates. Sometimes it’s pictures we see, sometimes it’s someone we’ve met, someone we’ve seen, or someone we know well. Oftentimes, a writer ends up with little pieces of themselves in every character they create. It’s happened to me quite a few times, almost every single one of my main characters has a little bit of me. Some more than others, but they all have a piece. So today we’re going to talk about a few of my favorite characters and who they were based on.

Let’s start with Penelope Sawyer, the main character in the Bluebird Chronicles. She’s got a lot of me in her. In fact, the small island in Italy where she was stationed at the beginning of her time in the Navy, I was stationed there. They say to write what you know, so I do that. A lot. Penelope goes through losses similar to some that I have faced in the previous few years, though that particular plot point has been there since 2009, I never imagined that it would follow my life as closely as it did, and I don’t know how to feel about that. Penelope’s job, the business she’s trying so hard to create, that has nothing to do with me. That was inspired by my very first editor on Blood Song, Erika. I needed to do something different with what Penelope did for a living during one of the rewrites and I just kind of decided to honor Erika that way. She has no idea so I can’t wait for her to find out.

Then there’s Penelope’s best friend Bailey Stills-Parker. Bailey has parts of a lot of different people. Some of which I no longer have contact with. Bailey, however, remains an amalgamation of the best friends that I’ve had since I started this book. Her most recent incarnation has mostly parts of my best bish/cousin Steph. Callie and Nora are also the same kind of amalgamations of other friends as well. I love that I can look at them and know that I have immortalized them in some way, even if I’m the only one who ever knows exactly which parts belong to who.

Then there’s Micah Parker. Mike is the big brother I never had, but based on my little brother Damien. Mike’s boyfriend, based exclusively on my brother-in-law Jason, who passed a few years ago. I promised him I’d put him in my books somewhere, so Trey was my promise kept. The biggest difference between them, Trey is gay and my brother wasn’t.

There’s other things too. The house that Penelope’s parent’s live in? It’s based on the house I grew up in. Certain birthdays belong to people I know. My children, my nieces and nephews, my grandson, all of them have some piece of a character somewhere. Whether it’s a shared birthday, a shared middle name, or a similar look. I love my family, and I want them to know that when they read my books (when they’re old enough). I only have two adult children (one turned 18 this week!) the rest are between 13-17, with the next round of birthdays happening in February. It’s the little things that make creating as many characters as I have to, seem more real. I give them a detail from someone I know.

Reid isn’t actually based on anyone I know. Originally, in the VERY first version of Blood Song, he wasn’t even my character, and his name was Christian King. I was writing with a friend and our stories happened to cross over here and there. Her’s was focused on my main characters best friend. Or maybe it should be the other way around since she started writing first and it’s what inspired me to get my pen back to paper. Either way, there was crossover with the main characters. Well, eventually we realized the stories were going in two very different directions that weren’t going to mesh well for what we were doing so we split the stories and created new characters. I took mine back, she did the same. Only, Christian wouldn’t do anything for her. Nothing. Wouldn’t speak to her, she had so much trouble writing for him after months of me writing for him. So, when I moved to California, she gifted Christian to me to do with as I pleased and she replaced him with another character (who I actually love just as much). When I started changing names of characters for the original draft of THIS version, I wanted to honor his roots, so Christian King became Christian Reid Walker, Prince of Paris. Though, so not to confuse myself with who I was writing, I called him Reid. It worked and she absolutely loves everything he’s become.

There is a little of almost everyone I know in a character somewhere. Sometimes it’s just easier with the tertiary and smaller secondary characters to do that. Saves me time and energy trying to flush out a character. Or at least that’s what I tell myself, though I always seem to end up tweaking them just a little bit. My inspiration comes from everywhere. I have based characters on other fictional characters, like Tucker Clark in It Could Be Monsters is based on Dean Winchester, probably because that story started as a Supernatural Fanfic. I’ve done that before too, with several stories and I have since all the way back in my sophomore year when I started writing “the secret” that you guys will probably never read.

Well, that’s it for me today. See you all tomorrow for a book review! I know how much you like those. Hahaha. As always, drink your water, be safe, make good choices, and don’t eat yellow snow. Love ya!

Working with an Editor

Editor Aesthetic Picture

Before I got signed with Clan Whelan Publishing for The Bluebird Chronicles, it was called The Ashes and Stars Series. Back when the first book was called Noctivagus and I had finally finished the first draft of it, I sent it over to an editor friend of mine named Erika over at The Word Nerd. She’d never edited fiction so we worked out a deal, and she did a Manuscript Evaluation for me. Took her about a month to get back to me, and while she loved the story, there was a lot that needed to be fixed. While she had that I started working on the second book in the series.

When I got the eval back, I was a bit of a mess. My mom had just died and it was a lot for me. It was the first time anything of mine had really be critiqued and I felt some type of way about it. After a couple of weeks, I sat down and really read the feedback Erika had provided. Turned out to be really good. She pointed out several things that I could change and several creative ways to do it. Overall, the feedback really helped form the second draft of the story and though it took almost a year, I was able to rewrite the story, and it was better the second time around. It was the version I submitted to Clan Whelan that got me the publishing contract in the first place.

The Werd Nerd logo

Throughout the difficult rewrite process, Erika was patient and didn’t mind scheduling several meetings with me as I worked through the information and tried my best to incorporate it into something that was a feasible story. In fact, it was scheduled to go back to her in May of this year, but I signed with Clan Whelan Publishing in February instead.

When I was in the beginning meetings with the publishing company I now call home, I told Erika about it and she checked with her multiple resources, like I had my own, to ensure they were a legitimate company. When the contract came, she was one of the people I had look it over for me. Then we had a conversation about what I should ask them in reference to several aspects of working with them. She was extremely helpful when it came to completing my journey, and one of my biggest supporters.

A sneak peek at Erika’s book cover. She’s so proud of this. And so am I.

Erika and I have known each other a number of years and we were friends before she ever edited a word for me. I was so excited to work with her. She helped more than I can convey in words. She helped me refine everything I needed to. I can’t wait for her to be able to read the version of this story that actually gets published. She has a book of her own coming out soon and I cannot wait to own it. It’s a dicktionary or expletives for editors. As an author, I plan to pick it up so I can write my expletives correctly and save my editors some work. I’m so proud of her. She’s amazing.

Find her over on her website, or her Facebook page. Give her a shoutout and if you’re looking for an editor, she’s amazing and comes highly recommended. That’s it for me today my lovelies. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have an amazing adventure!

Bye Bye Butterfly