Harp, the Herald Angels Sing

Harper Williams had survived a lot: Abuse at the hands of her favorite uncle, rape and torture inside the camp at Kensington, the loss of her eyesight, and, most important of all, the loss of her lover Clare.

Born Harper Lee Revenant, Harper grew up in the heart of Heaven’s Light. She got her Sniper eyesight from both her parents, but her olive skin, turquoise eyes, and raven hair came from various gene donors, hand-picked at her mother’s insistence. These qualities enticed her pedophile uncle when she was a young girl, and the resulting psychological trauma left her with a hunger that couldn’t be sated. This hunger caused a rift between Harper and her boyfriend Eli, a rift that turned into a painful chasm–until Clare came into their lives.

For Harper, Clare was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant situation. Exiled from Heaven’s Light as a teenager, Harper found refuge with the roaming camps of Abnormals known as the Dead Cities. There she met Eli, but her nymphomania eventually pushed him away. Clare, a bipoly Abnormal that Eli had rescued from Heaven’s Light after two Gifted assailants nearly killed her, was everything Harper needed: strong and fierce, intelligent and intuitive, bold yet timid, all rolled into one tight, tiny package of sex and love. Through their mutual love of Clare, Harper and Eli’s rift was mended, and the three of them became inseparable.

Inseparable, that is, until they were ripped away from each other at Kensington.

The torture at Kensington was unbearable. The red-hot pokers that took her eyes, the broken bones, the gang rape that seemed unending–Harper wished for death more than anything then. Clare, with that brilliant, powerful mind of hers, found Harper and talked her back from the edge of the abyss. She joined their minds with Eli’s and drifted Harper off into a coma, a blissful nothingness that ended her suffering while Clare figured out a way to escape.

Or so she said.

While Harper slept, Clare–unbeknownst to Eli–struck a bargain with the Devil incarnate, Ezekiel Howard, the head of the Council. She made a dead for Harper and Eli to be healed and released, on one condition: Clare would go with Ezekiel back to Heaven’s Light.

Clare woke Harper from the coma with a kiss, and for a moment Harper thought everything would be okay. She was healed, save for the ocular implants that needed to be calibrated to her body, and Clare was with her.

Then Clare left.

She left. She left Harper alone and frightened, and she left of her own accord.

Harper and Eli were released once their injuries had been repaired, and Eli hurried them back to the Dead City before Ezekiel changed his mind. Eli was distant during this time, his easy-going personality replaced with a hardened, broken man. He stayed with Harper throughout her recovery and helped her adjust to her new way of seeing.

Harper wished he had left her alone. Without Clare, she didn’t much want to go on. She trudged through the days and nights in a haze, daydreaming about her lost love and hoping that she’d return. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and after two months with no word from Clare, Harper gave in to her demons.

Eli found her and took her to a medic, and to Harper’s dismay she woke up very much not dead. She’d been hoping to an end to the pain, but instead she wound up with deep scarring on her wrists that even the medics couldn’t fully repair.

Her dark life was brightened, however, when the medics gave her the happiest news of her life: Harper was pregnant.

Harper didn’t believe in any God; she didn’t believe in angels and Heaven. But one thing she was certain of: this was a miracle.

No longer feeling so alone, Harper threw herself into the pregnancy with a joy that was unsurpassed by anything else in her life–with the exception of Clare. She longed to share the news with Clare, to tell her that she was going to be a stepmother, to let Clare help name the baby girl. Instead, she busied herself with preparing the home she shared with Eli for the new arrival, fixing up the nursery and painting the walls the best she could with her artificial eyesight.

Eli’s mood brightened as well with the news, and he proposed to Harper on her birthday. Harper squealed with joy and threw her arms around Eli’s strong neck as she accepted.

Finally, she thought, I get to have a family.

There were still nights where Harper stayed up well past the time Eli retired, where she gazed out the window of the abandoned suburban home where they’d taken up residence and wondered what life would have been like if Clare hadn’t left.

One day, she told herself.

One day, Clare, I’ll find you again. I’ll take you away from there, away from the Light and back into my arms, where you belong.

Hail Mary, Mother of Death

As I trek through the jungle, sweat oozing from every pore, I come upon the most macabre relic I’ve ever seen. Carved from a rose-colored marble, the veins in the stone remind me of rivers of blood, and her sanguine smile sends chills down my spine despite the heat. After years of searching, I’ve found her.

I’ve found the Bloody Mary.

It all began with a local legend that piqued my interest when I was on my last dig, a legend of a Catholic artifact that predated the Mayans who had built the ruins in which I now stood. Madre de los Muertos she was called; Mother of the Dead. The legend, which had been translated by my guide and companion, Jesus Rodriguez, told of a curse that accompanied the Virgin Mary and followed any who laid eyes on her.

The curse hadn’t been what intrigued me, though; what really grabbed my attention, the driving force behind the last decade of my life, was the archaeology of it. Madre de los Muertos, if she was as old as legend claimed, should not exist. She was a mystery, an anachronism, a thing out of place and out of time, and now she was mine.

My white whale stares at me with red-veined eyes, her arms outstretched. She is pristine, immaculate, untouched by the encroaching jungle. My pulse quickens at the sight of her, a virgin statue left unmolested for centuries–millennia, if the legend was true. I reach out with a shaking hand, eager to be the first to claim her as my own.

Before my fingers meet the rouge marble, a rustling from the thick network of vines behind me draws my attention. I turn and peer into the foliage in search of what animal may be lurking–or what form of man. My hand stops, retreats, reaches for the pistol tucked into the waistband of my khakis. If someone has followed me in the hopes of stealing my find, I’ll send them to meet the Mother of the Dead in person.

No movement catches my eye, and once again the jungle falls silent.

I return to my treasure, confident that I am alone, and caress her smooth facade. My hands roam over the whole of her, from top to bottom, and I can find no cracks, no chips, not a single flaw in her smooth, delicate features.

Perhaps the legend was a fake; I find it hard to believe that any statue, no matter how well-constructed, could stand the test of time and face the elements and still come out this intact. There should be cracking and crumbling, degradation and decay. The jungle should have taken her beauty centuries ago.

The thought brings me back to reality, and I look again at the vines that surround, but do not touch, the statue. The surrounding ruins are thick with them, every surface covered, save for a meter-wide berth given to Mary. Upon inspection, I see no trace of blade marks on the undergrowth. Odd. I myself had cut a path to the relic. Now the intertwining leaves and vines make a perfect circle, a fence of dead vegetation trapping me within its branches.

I crouch next to the nearest vine and draw my machete across its surface. A thin white scar appears on the branch for a moment, then vanishes.

A more superstitious person may have theorized that the vines regenerated, but I know that can’t be it. How can dead matter regenerate, after all? I wipe sticky sweat from my brow and stand back up. A drink from my canteen does nothing to sate my sudden thirst, leaving me parched.

As I turn back to my prize, I find myself nose-to-nose with Bloody Mary. I try to take a step back, but the vines, though they have not moved, are somehow closer, higher, thicker, preventing me from retreat. My breath quickens as my heart now thumps in my chest. Mary’s arms stretch out to either side of me, and I am left with nowhere to go.

I press my hand against Mary’s breast, trying to push back and give myself room, and my heart skips a beat before my pulse returns to its rapid-fire palpitations.

The stone, so cold and hard, is now soft, warm, pliable. Alive.

Before I can react, Mary’s arms wrap around me and pull me to her. I look into her bloodshot eyes and see my reflection in their gleam. The red-veined marble blinks once, twice, and the smile twists and deforms into a snarl. She embraces me tighter, and the air is forced from my lungs.

I gasp for breath and push against the woman holding me, but she is as strong as the marble she was carved from. My vision tunnels as I’m squeezed ever tighter, and I realize that the Mother of the Dead has claimed me as one of her children.

Split decisions

My book, our book, my book, our book…which one should I work on more?

Ideally, I’d have enough inspiration for both books. However, right now Book 3 is eluding me, so I have to get my writing fixes in whenever my co-author sends me her latest chapter. Unfortunately, I have so much inspiration for the collaboration book that it takes me at most a day to write and send back my chapter. Then I’m left for days trying to think up how to progress the story on Book 3.

Splitting my creative energy between two books has proven difficult for me. I don’t know how some authors can work on a multitude of projects at once. I can throw in a short story or poem or flash piece while I’m working on a novel-length project, but multiple novels at once? I guess I’m not that talented. Lol

I’m going to try to get at least a few paragraphs written in Book 3 this morning. I’ve gotta regain momentum on that project, because Book 2 is in edits at the moment, and if I don’t write I’ll go nuts.

My problem is this: I have tons of ideas for further on in the book, but the point I’m at now is stalled. I have to write in order, for the most part. Sure, I can go back in revisions and add a chapter here or there out of order, then change things to make it fit, but writing the story out of order in the first draft? That would just be wrong.

Maybe I’ll retcon some of what I’ve already written and restart that part. I could be moving the plot too quickly, and maybe that’s why things don’t feel “right.” And who knows? Maybe I’ll find my groove again if I just go back and start over from the beginning of Chapter 2. (Yes, I’m that badly stalled.) Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Back up and restart in a different direction.

Time to get some more coffee and get typing. 🙂


Hello, everybody!! Twenty-nine days until Abnormal hits bookstores and Amazon, and as a treat I’ll be doing a live Q&A next week about the book! 🙂 (Tentatively looking at Wednesday afternoon, maybe say two-ish PST? Have to check my day job schedule.)
Have questions like “What’s Abnormal about,” “Who’s Clare,” “Where did you get your inspiration,” or “What’s your favorite movie”? Comment, tweet, send a PM, whatever, and I’ll answer it next week.
Not sure where to start with questions? Check out my old posts and tweets. If it’s book- or writing-related from the last two years, I probably mention Abnormal or its sequel somewhere in there. My tweets are full of quotes from Abnormal, and not only does reading them give you a sneaky peeky at the book, it also lets you get a feel for Abnormal and maybe what kinds of questions you’d have about it. There’s even a “lost chapter” of sorts in the form of a short story that made it to my blog but never made it to the book! Which post is it? Well…maybe that can be one of your questions. 😉
There’s more in the works, but for now we’ll tentatively “meet” Wednesday at two-ish PST. “See” you then!

Covering all the bases

It’s gotten to that time in the publishing process: meeting with the cover designer and discussing concepts.
It’s tough as an artist to let someone else take the wheel when it comes to designing the cover for my book. I hand-painted the cover for WHISPERS OF DEATH and then scanned and tweaked it in Photoshop myself. Did all the formatting for the Createspace printing and the Kindle cover. Did the same thing for Kamikaze Butterflies (only that one was all digital). I even made my own “covers” for the ebook/Kindle only stories and compilations. But now? Now I have to put my labor of love into someone else’s hands.
Not that I’m having problems…. the crew at Rhetoric Askew is great, and they listen to their authors. I don’t just get whatever cover they want; I get to have input and convey my opinions. It’s cool, but yeah, I guess I’m more of a control freak than I realized.
Time is ticking towards the release date. So. Damn. Close. I can’t tell you how close yet, but it’s soon.
Getting published before 40 when I just started writing novels a few years ago is a pretty exciting thing. I hope that Book 2 and the subsequent books in the series are just as good as Abnormal is going to be.
Don’t worry. You’ll get to see it in due time. 😉