Jeanine O'Loughlin

Fantasy, Science Fiction & Historical Fiction Author, Blogger, and Geek

Month: March, 2015

A Name Worth Dying For – Part 2

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I slowly moved over to my mother to see if she was okay. She winced, but said she wasn’t that hurt. She wrapped her arms around me and told me it was going to be okay. We heard Maddie scream and both sprinted to her room. We got halfway down the hall when the dark haired vampire returned with Maddie in his arms. She was crying but didn’t seem hurt. He handed her to my mother and the three of us sat huddled together on the cold floor. Maddie sobbed, my mother trying to comfort her. It was all like a nightmare that had come to life.  My hands were shaking and it was hard to breathe. The dark haired vampire looked at Ben and the other Hunter on the table, then at his companion. “Are these the Hunters you seek?” He had an accent to his voice that I couldn’t place.

“Yes Lord Otvos. These are who killed my sire, Louis,” the blonde one replied. He had an American accent.

“And these?” the dark haired vampire said giving the three of us a side glance.

“I know nothing of them, my lord.”

The dark haired vampire walked over and knelt in front of us. He took my mother’s face in his hand and tilted her head up to look at her face.

“Leave her alone!” I yelled and tried to pull his hand away from her, but it was like a toddler against a grown man.

“The ever vigilant son,” he said and looked me over, a look of shock came over him. I pulled back from him as he reached a hand toward me. Then he looked at Maddie and my mother. He took my mother’s wrist tightly and in an urgent tone asked, “Who is their father?”

“Go to Hell,” she said through gritted teeth. I could see her skin turning red under his firm grip.

“Who is their father?” he asked again. His voice and presence was terrifying. I felt cold and started to shiver.

“He’s dead,” was all my mother said in response.

“All I need is a name,” he said in a low haunting whisper and my mother winced in pain before he let go of her jaw. My mother said nothing and took Maddie in her arms, trying to keep her calm. I took Maddie’s hand and squeezed it as much for me as for her.

I could see the Lord Otvos’ frustration building at my mother’s defiance. He clearly wasn’t used to being refused. He turned to the man on the table who remained unconscious during all this. He sniffed at his neck, which made me gag at the thought of watching him feed. He kneeled in front of where Ben lay on the ground still struggling against the other vampire to no avail.

“Maybe you’ll be more accommodating,” he mused and waved the blonde vamp away. He took Ben by the collar and lifted him up only enough to look into his face. Ben spit in the vampire’s face. The vampire slammed Ben into the ground, hard. Maddie buried her face into my mother’s chest. Ben looked back up at the vampire, fury in his eyes. Blood started to run down Ben’s face from his nose that sat at an awkward angle on his face.

“What do you want?!” I yelled. There were tears building up in my eyes but I pushed them back. I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing anymore. I heard my mother hush me, but I ignored it.

The vampire turned to me in curiosity. “Well, seems like we’ve finally found the reasonable one. All I want to know is who your father is.”

I looked at my mother, she shook her head, but I couldn’t see what harm this could do and maybe it could save our lives. “So, if I tell you what I know about him you’ll leave us alone and go?” I didn’t like making a deal with a vamp, but what choice did I have?

“If I’m satisfied with your answer I promise no harm will come to your family.” Otvos kneeled in front of me eyebrows raised in expectation.

“Adrian don’t!” Ben yelled out. The blonde vampire kicked him in the mouth and more blood poured from his face.

I looked up into Otvos’ face, and took a deep breath to calm my nerves. “He’s dead. He died before Maddie was born and I don’t remember him much. He was a Hunter. He died killing monsters, like you. He had black hair and eyes like mine and his name was Joseph. That’s what I know. Now let us go.”

The vampire looked from me to my mother and then to Ben. “A Hunter was he? Well that’s an interesting story,” he motioned for his companion to take the Hunter again; then strolled back to my mother.

“Tsk tsk… A mother who lies to her own children? You know I won’t leave here without his true name. A father will do much for his children. So why don’t you save yourself and tell me?”

“Leave them alone!” she said in a rage I had never seen before. Her face red and her grip on Maddie tightened. My mother was always so calm and collected it was hard for me to see her so undone by this monster.

“I promise you no harm will come to them. What’s in question is your life. Now… do I get the name?” he stared into her eyes unflinching. I looked away as his gaze sent goosebumps across my skin. I found my hands were shaking again too. I forced them into fists so no one could see.

“Go stake yourself,” my mother hissed at him. From the reaction of the other vampire I could tell it was quite the insult.

The lord vampire shook his head, grabbed Mom by her arm and yanked her up so hard that she lost her grip on Maddie. He was so tall that even with her height my mother had to look up at him. He struck her across the face, hard. I jumped up and put myself between her and Otvos. Maddie screamed and Ben was fiercely struggling against the other vampire and got kicked in the back of the head for his efforts and fell back to the floor. Maddie couldn’t stop crying and I saw a grimace from the blonde vampire. Otvos pushed me back down to the floor and I fell over her. I put my arms around her and whispered lots of nonsensical things trying everything I could to calm her.

When Otvos dropped my mother she collapsed on the floor in a heap. I tried to reach for her, but couldn’t with Maddie between us clinging to me.

“Calm down. She’s not dead yet,” he let out an exasperated sigh. “Now, let’s see what this one has to say,” he grabbed Ben by the back of his shirt and pulled him up into a kitchen chair then slapped him awake. My mother crawled towards us, her cheek bright red and blood running down her lip where he’d struck her. I took her hand and the warmth of it helped calm me.

To Be Continued…

Weekly Writing Prompt

Books

These prompts can be used in any way to get you writing. Whether it’s the subject matter, setting or character; as long as you are writing that’s all that matters.

This Week’s Writing Prompt

Cat

Happy Writing!

How Do I Tackle My First Draft?

Thinking Through My Fingers

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Issac Asimov

So I’ve talked about how to generate a “crap draft.” Now when I have to take that word vomit and turn it into something people can read. This involves a lot of rewriting and red pen marks. Now as I’m going along in writing my crap draft if I think of things I need to change/edit I will usually make a list of “edit notes” at the bottom of the document to remind me later of things I want to change. This keeps me from going back and doing real edits; falling down the rabbit hole that usually keeps me from finishing a piece.

Now getting to what I call a “first draft” takes several edit passes that I do myself, each with it’s own purpose so the review can be focused.

  1. Flow
  2. Language
  3. Grammar & Spelling
  4. Last Touches

First I look at the flow of the piece. I don’t look at my outline, the outline isn’t important here, but the flow of the story. What can I cut? What plot points need to be rewritten? I use a word vomit method to create my rewrites then review the whole thing again to make sure I got the flow the way I want it.

Next is language; does it sound good? I read my story aloud to myself and if I stumble or have trouble getting the phrases at naturally I rework it. Once I can get through reading it aloud without a real stumble I call this phase done.

Grammar and spelling are my weakest link. I know that sounds odd coming from someone who’s passion is words, but it’s true. I do my spellcheck pass then do a read through marking up anything I find. I know if I found it that it’s really bad. As a lot of my friends who help with my edits know I rely heavily on outside eyes for the real copy edits.

Last I do one more read through to look for anything else I may have missed. Then it’s ready to go in front of my alpha readers. This is a small group of friends and family who are willing to put up with me enough to be my first round of feedback and reviews. I trust them a lot and I know that they’ll be honest with me about what they think and know I won’t get upset by it.

The most important thing I have to remember while I’m doing these edits are that this is only meant to generate a first draft. It’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself to create the perfect piece out of the gate, but in reality that’s just not how it works. Any piece has to go through review after review after review. Each piece that you put yourself through this process it gets easier & easier. I’ll be talking about editors and feedback in later posts, but make sure that your work is ready for outside eyes before you send it out to review. If you can catch the problem then a reader probably will too so get the piece in a place where you’re “content” with it before handing it to your editor/alpha readers.

I like to think of my writing process akin to pottery. I plan out my design with the outline, I create my own clay with my “crap draft,” and then start molding it into the basic shape and piece I want it to be. Once I have that I can continue to add details, refine the bumpy spots and work on it until it’s ready to go into the fire… the internet. Whether it survives the fire is to be seen, but I can only learn from it.

Happy Writing!

A Name Worth Dying For – Part 1

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I haven’t talked about their deaths much since it happened. We hunt the undead, so death is always part of our lives. Not even Lizzie knows exactly what happened. I know it bothers her that I won’t talk about it. She’s my best friend, but it still hurts too much; however,  I suppose it’s time someone knew exactly what happened.

It was late spring, we only had a few weeks left of school and the days were getting longer. My mother, sister and I lived in a small town outside of Chicago. I was washing the dishes after dinner when there was an urgent knock on the back door. My mother told us to go into the living room. Her heart shaped face was knit in a tight expression forming a deep crease in her brow. I knew then that something was wrong. “Mom?” I asked as I ushered Maddie, my seven year old sister into the other room.

“Just do as I ask, Adrian,” she said curtly as she ran a nervous hand through her long black hair. I did but made sure I could see into the kitchen from where I sat on the couch. I could make out two tall figures, and pointed them towards the dining room.

“Adrian!” my mother yelled for me. I ran into the dining room and saw the two men with her. One was barely conscious and being supported by the other man. I could see blood all over his clothes, and I was pretty sure it was mostly his own. His hair was long, blonde and covered most of his face and his skin was pale even for someone of fair skin. The other man also had blonde hair, but cropped very short, and his blue eyes looked tired as he held up his companion. I had seen injured Hunters before, but those were minor scrapes compared to this.

My mother hooked the injured man’s other arm over her shoulders and helped bring him to the table. She was almost his height, but his muscular build versus her thin one made her seem so small in comparison. They gingerly placed him on the table, his blood smearing all over the blue tablecloth. “Bring me my kit. Adrian grab lots of clean towels and start a pot of water,” my mother tilted the man’s head to see his wound and the gash along his neck covered in fresh flowing blood. It made me almost lose the dinner I had just eaten. The flesh was ripped and shredded and reminded me of the ripped jeans I was wearing.

“Mom is that…” I couldn’t finish my thought and just stared at the man, dying on our kitchen table. I wanted to look away but my eyes were trapped by this horrifying sight.

“Adrian!” My mother never raised her voice at us, but in this case it was what I needed to get me moving. This man’s life was in her hands and she needed all the help she could get. I pulled out all our towels from the bathroom and put them next to her, then filled our biggest pot and put it to boil. The uninjured man took the tackle box that was our first aid kit from Maddie before she could enter the room. She had the same black hair as my mother but it was short and curly where my mother’s was long and straight. She looked a lot like my mother with big dark eyes and a sweet face, but with full chubby cheeks. The Hunter sweetly told her to go back to the couch; I think to keep her from seeing what I had. I didn’t blame him; Maddie didn’t need to see something so ugly.

He placed the kit on the counter behind my mother, “What do you need?” he asked. My mother had a towel pressed against the wound trying to stop the bleeding. She turned and said “Call Winston,” as she opened the box with one hand while keeping pressure on the wound with the other.

I knew of Mr. John Winston, he was a high ranking official who oversaw our area. My mother drilled into me that if we were ever in trouble to call him for help. My stomach started turning itself into knots out of the tension building in the room. I was still a little queasy, but with the wound covered I managed to keep my dinner in check. The hunter had walked over to the phone on the kitchen wall and was dialing a number into it. I leaned against the counter and tried not to look so scared.

“Adrian?” Mom called for me and I stepped hesitantly beside her. “Open and hand me the heavy gauze bandages,” she swapped the soaked hand towel for a fresh one as I went to opening several bandages and handing them to her. I adverted my eyes from the injured Hunter.  “The bleeding is slow, but It hasn’t stopped yet,” she said in frustration.

“Ben!” she called and the short haired Hunter came over, hanging up the phone, and they began speaking in low whispers. I was trying to just stay out of their way when I saw Maddie peering around the corner from the living room and I could see the shock on her face at what was happening in our kitchen. Most of the gore was out of sight behind the adults but she was still scared. I took her to her room and sat her down on the bed. “Adrian… is that man going to die?” she asked in a small quiet voice.

“I don’t know,” I put my arms around her and she leaned into me. She was shivering and I knew it wasn’t from being cold. I wrapped her in a quilt and held her for a while, hoping that with any luck she would fall asleep and this would all be over when she woke up. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within the hour there was another knock at our door. “Adrian!” my mother’s voice carried to me from down the hall.

I got up and left Maddie lying on her bed. “I’ll be right back okay?” She nodded and pulled the quilt tighter around herself. I headed to the door expecting to see Mr. Winston and an army of Hunters. When I opened the door I was immediately flung backwards by a hard shove in the chest by the man in front. All I saw before landing on the hardwood floor was that he was incredibly tall with long dark hair. My mother cried out and ran to me.

I was sore, and was going to have some bad bruises, but I didn’t think anything was broken. I saw Ben engage two figures, but in a few seconds a man with a blonde ponytail had him pinned to the ground using one arm and a foot on his back. With that show of speed and strength I realized… they were vampires. I heard Maddie call for me from her room and my mother ran towards her but the tall dark vampire threw her to the ground like she weighed nothing as he disappeared down the hall.

To Be Continued…

Weekly Writing Prompt

Books

These prompts can be used in any way to get you writing. Whether it’s the subject matter, setting or character as long as you are writing that’s all that matters.

This Week’s Writing Prompt

King

Happy Writing!

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