What Business Do I Have Writing POC?

Yes, I’m going to talk a little bit about race in literature. So turn away now if you’re sensitive to such topics. 🙂

I’m about as white as any person of European heritage can be. Hell, I’m not even white – I’m translucent! The crackeriest cracker who ever cracked! So what business do I have including people of color as main and/or strong supporting characters in my stories?

  1. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we live in a diverse world. An all-one-color cast doesn’t make any sense. It also doesn’t make sense not to include people who are disabled, or little people, or autistic people, or LGBTQ+ people, etc.
  2. Representation is important. If you can identify with a strong, confident, beautifully flawed, human character – that means something. There’s something indescribably magical about finding and falling in love with that character. It makes you feel less alone. It’s empowering. A fictional hero that sparks inspiration and internal strength within you.

I want to see a female, Chinese vampire who kicks ass. So I’m writing one. I want to see a strong but unapologetically vulnerable mixed race werelion who doesn’t need saving. So I’m writing one.

People are people. They don’t often fit into the boxes we like to insist they do. I knew a one-armed woman who could hand sew better than I can. How’s that for fitting into one of those disabled boxes?

I’ve known deaf people who were so used to feeling the vibrations of the music that they are better dancers than my rhythm-lacking ass, and never mess up the timing of the lyrics as they sign to the song.

I firmly believe that everyone deserves to feel confident in who they are. Everyone deserves to feel empowered to be what they truly want to be. Everyone deserves to feel adequately represented, to find art and stories and characters that they can identify with and have fun with. Everyone deserves to feel like a person, to be seen and engaged with as a person who is just as worthy of that personhood as anyone else.

And no one deserves to be shoved in a box.

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When a New Idea Overrides Sensibility

I’ve finished drafting the first five chapters of the Bloodstained Shadows series, and posted those rough drafts to Patreon, but I find myself uncontrollably pulled to begin writing a different series. And so I am…

Don’t get me wrong, the Bloodstained Shadows WIP is still my primary focus. Which is difficult to maintain since I’m so sucked into this new Victorian era, steampunky-ish, dark sci-fi world. I’ve been researching the Victorian era, with an emphasis on 1870s Massachusetts (because for some unknown reason that feels like the perfect time period to start in), for the past few days.

It’s not even one of the two WIPs I already put on the back burner in order to keep my focus centered on the universe of Shadow Cove! Really, the problem is that my mind insists on creating too many completely different universes at once. And I suppose there are far too many people trapped in my head to all live in the same universe. That could be a part of it.

And yet…

I’m not complaining. I’m blessed to have so much inspiration, to fall in love with so many universes, so many complex and interesting characters – or, really, people. I just wish that blessing also came with a few extra, quiet, time-standing-still, nothing-else-to-do hours in the day!

Must type faster!

*Featured image under CC0 license via DreamsTime.com*

 

Draft: Bloodstained Shadows, Chapter Two

Read the first chapter via this link.

Sean made it a few miles outside Fresno before stopping for gas. With his tank filled, he found a cheap motel in town. The room was unkempt but clean enough for his purposes.

A quick look at himself in the mirror told him the Pride would find him, even if his texts to Jennifer were too cryptic for them. Her blood sprayed his clothes, boots, skin. It wasn’t enough for the average human to notice, it could have been specks of dirt from riding his bike through a muddy patch of road. But it would be more than enough to give him away to a paranormal.

Sean paced within the few feet the bathroom offered while tearing at his hair again. What the hell do I do? He didn’t want to hurt her, not when he sent her the texts to meet with him, not when he reached the desert. His gun was always on him, always ready, but he didn’t think he’d use it tonight.

The other hunters wouldn’t be on his side, not this time. He’d broken the treaty, and soon they would discover he betrayed their ways years ago. Shadow Cove wouldn’t be safe for him, not without some powerful support.

Sean pulled his phone out of his jacket pocket. He’d grown up in that town. There had to be somebody who hated shifters enough to offer him some kind of sanctuary. Only one came to mind. Of course, she wasn’t a huge fan of hunters either. His choices were limited. He scrolled through the list of contacts until he found her.

A deep, booming voice answered after the second ring. “Helen’s phone, Gazini speaking.”

“Uh, yeah. I need to talk to her.”

“And who the hell are you?”

“A client, Sean Mitchell.”

“I have no clue who you are. She’s eating right now, so I’ll just let her know you rang. Bye.”

“Wait, wait. I want to talk about adding a shifter to her collection.”

“Variety?”

“How ‘bout a lion?”

“Fine.”

Sean sat on the bed in his room while he waited. Background noise was all he heard for several minutes before the sound of a door closing.

A high pitched squeal answered the phone next. “Ooo, do tell. Is this little lion a fiesty one?”

Sean cleared his throat. “Actually Helen, you can have your pick from a whole Pride.”

Helen laughed. “Who is this?”

“It’s Sean Mitchell.” He rolled his eyes, placing his forehead in his hand.

“Oh. Well, I doubt you managed to capture an entire Pride, so what is this really about? Keep in mind that I was in the middle of a wonderful meal, which you interrupted.”

“I didn’t exactly capture them. It’s more like they’re after me. But I know how much you love your shifters, and I don’t think you have a lion yet?”

There was a lengthy pause before Helen spoke again. “I do not.”

“I was thinking I could lead the Pride to you, and you could be waiting for them, and…”

“No, you’re thinking I can save you from whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into, and do all the work getting a lion myself. That doesn’t sound very fair, Sean.”

“It’s not entirely like that. Yes, I need help, but I’m more than willing to help get you the lion of your choosing.”

Helen paused again. “I am quite curious regarding whatever you’ve been up to that’s gotten the attention of an entire Pride. Hm… Tell you what. I’ll bail you out tonight and listen to your no doubt fascinating tale. But if I’m not impressed, or if I don’t like the agreement we might be able to come to, you won’t have anything at all to fear from those fluffy little lions. Am I clear, Sean?”

Sean knew he was making a deal with the devil, so to speak. He also knew Malcolm and the others would never forgive him. They would tear him limb from limb if they found him. “You’re clear,” Sean replied.

“Great.” Helen giggled. “I’ll send Gazini to pick you up, tell him where to find you dear.”

Sean gave Gazini the directions when he returned to the phone, praying the Pride would be slower than his bail out. He turned the faucet on in the tub while his thoughts raced.  I’m gonna need something to take the edge off.

As the tub filled, Sean took a small vial of blood out of his coat pocket and placed it on the edge of the porcelain. He undressed before sinking into the warm water and downing the contents of the vial. A metallic taste accompanied the thick texture as it slid down his throat.

His head rested against the back of the tub while his mind drifted. Steam swirled over the exposed areas of Sean’s body as every muscle relaxed. A warm dizziness overtook his senses.

A sharp tapping echoed through the room. Sean rolled his head toward the sound, struggling to open his eyes. A large crow perched on the outside windowsill stared at him through the glass as it peered into the bathroom.

Sean’s brain took a moment to reconnect with his body. He slipped on the porcelain as he reached for a towel to wrap around his waist. He signaled to the bird before stumbling toward the window to let him in. Gazini looks annoyed. I hope Helen’s in a better mood when we get there.

***

As always, I greatly appreciate any and all feedback. The drafts will likely change a bit once I’m done revising, they certainly should! Thanks for taking an interest. I only plan to release the first three chapters publicly before finishing and independently publishing the book. If you’re enjoying the story and can’t wait, I’m posting all the drafts (plus updates and extras) on Patreon for patrons only every week. Although only the first three chapter drafts will be publicly available to read prior to publication, I’ll still be posting excerpts, updates and notes pertaining to this book as I continue to write it.

Please consider buying me a coffee – it’s the fuel that powers my ability to function/write. Or if you’re really into the story and want to continue reading along as it’s being drafted, consider sponsoring it by becoming a patron for as little as $1 per month!

Pic of bird in the moonlight under CC0 license from DreamsTime (dot) com.

Draft: Chapter One, Bloodstained Shadows

I’m currently revising this chapter, along with the next two, and continuing the story for the first book in the Bloodstained Shadows series, which is being sponsored via Patreon and Ko-fi.  The drafts for chapters two and three are currently up for Patrons on Patreon. As always, I greatly appreciate any and all feedback anyone may wish to give. Without further ado, here’s the first chapter as it stands so far…

***

“No, I’m not letting you see her,” Jennifer said. “We agreed before she was even born! It’s not going to happen.”

Sean ground his teeth, the muscles in his jaw tensing. High winds whipped through the hot, dry Mojave, pushing against his body. He took a deep breath before speaking. “She doesn’t have to know who, or what, I am. I just… does she look like me? Act like my mother?” He chuckled, “holy shit, I hope she doesn’t act like my mother.”

“I get it. You lost your mom, now you want to replace that loss with Kyra. But you agreed. We can’t risk it.” Jennifer pulled her straightened brown hair out of her face and into a tighter bun.

“It could be a chance encounter at a diner. Maybe we go to the same movie at the theater.”

“You coming here, even contacting me once, was dangerous. Now you want chance encounters? It’ll grow from there, you’ll want more. Except this right here, just us talking about it in the middle of the friggin’ desert, is dangerous!”

A tiny sliver of moon barely illuminated their meeting space in a patch of sand. The only other source of light for miles in any direction would have to come from one of the camping trailers that housed the members of Jennifer’s Pride. They lay no more than ten yards beyond a dune in front of the pair. The Pride would be asleep by now, probably dreaming of a good hunt.

Sean’s hand twitched at his side; for a moment he clenched his fist. A 9mm was holstered to his right thigh. Every nerve ending wanted to send the signal to draw that gun. He pushed the thought away, his twitching almost subconscious. “I know I’m not handling my grief well here, but she’s the only family I have left.”

“Except she’s not your family. She’s a Waters, not a Mitchell. She’s my family. She’s Malcolm’s family. She’s like us, not you!” Jennifer crossed her arms tight to the front of her body.

Sean could no longer ignore the impulse. He drew his gun without thinking. Before either of them knew how, he had the barrel pointing at Jennifer’s forehead, dead center. The bullet exited the chamber before Jennifer could finish shifting a claw, before Sean could draw in a breath. Silver pierced Jennifer’s skull.

A deafening bang destroyed the quiet in an instant. Jennifer’s body collapsed, blood and sprinkles of silver staining the sand encircling her head. Sean stared at her, his mouth dropping open as he lowered his gun. “Fuck!”

He started hyperventilating, dropping the weapon before grasping fists full of blonde hair at the sides of his head. He paced along the length of the corpse at his feet. “Shit, no. No, no, no! I didn’t mean to… I.” He choked on his words as reality sunk in. A tear dripped down his cheek.

A young female voice broke the brief silence that followed the shot. “Mom?”

It was on the other side of the dune Sean now stared at. If it was Kyra, she couldn’t know he was responsible for this, couldn’t find him here hovering over her mother’s body. He took a last look at Jennifer. I’m sorry.

Sean retrieved his gun, holstered it, and stumbled away in a panic. He headed toward the road where he had parked his bike, hoping the wind would scatter any of his scent that lingered. With any luck, the Pride would never know he was the last to see their beloved alive. A distant roar overpowered the sound of the motorcycle’s engine as he sped down the road.

 

***


Kyra jumped awake from her unconsciousness. What was that sound? Thunder, maybe? She peered out the trailer window over the head of her bed, searching for clouds. The sky was crystal clear, nothing but bright stars freckled along the pitch black night.

She left her room in the back and walked into the living area. Perhaps something heavy had fallen? Nothing seemed out of place. She shuffled to the sleeper couch with the intention of waking her mother to ask if she’d heard anything. A crumpled mess of blankets and pillows was all that greeted her.

Kyra opened the door, “mom?” No answer. She walked down the steps, letting the door slam shut behind her. The wind blew in multiple directions, blasting sand against her face and into her cropped brown hair. No light bled from the many vehicles and trailers in the camp. She appeared to be the only one awake.

She opened the door to her trailer again, “mom, you in the bathroom?” No response. She walked to the center of camp, her heart rate a little faster than normal. “MOM!”

Malcolm opened the door of his motorhome. He covered a yawn with one hand while stretching the rest of his body. “Kyra, why are you yelling?”

Kyra turned to face Malcolm, her amber eyes opened wide, her breath quickening. “I can’t find her, where would she go?”

“Who, honey?”

“Mom!”

“Last I saw her, she was heading off to bed.”

“Well she’s not there now!”

The wind blew toward them from over the dune behind the camp. The heavy, metallic smell of blood punched them in the face. It wasn’t a wounded animal, nor was it human. The scent was distinct, familiar, too familiar.

Kyra ran toward the smell, closing the distance and scaling the dune quicker than Malcolm could finish stumbling out of his RV. She heard him yelling behind her, warning her of possible dangers, begging her to wait for him. She didn’t care.

The form of a person lying in the sand came into view as she reached the top. Its chest didn’t rise and fall, no movement was evident. The odor of shifter blood grew stronger as Kyra moved toward the body. She grew numb, her breathing shallow and rapid, as she staggered closer.

She dropped to her knees in front of her mother, her knees sinking into the sand as she wept. “Mom?” Her voice cracked as she stroked Jennifer’s cheek.

Malcolm reached the top of the dune. “Is it Jennifer? Did you find her? Is she hurt?” When Kyra didn’t answer, he hastened down the other side. As the image before him became clearer, Malcolm sat next to Kyra, one hand clasping her shoulder while the other covered his gaping mouth.

“Someone did this to her. On purpose.” Kyra wiped the tears from under her eyes. “Someone who knew how.”

An engine revved in the distance. The sound came from the same direction as the main road butted against this patch of desert.

Kyra let out an enraged scream as her bones cracked and reformed. Her fingernails stretched and sharpened into claws while her hands and feet widened into thick paws. Her sweats went from baggy to tight as her body grew, the threads straining against longer, denser muscles. Her teeth became larger and sharper, her jaws expanding to accommodate. Soft, tan fur dispersed along bronze skin, from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. The screaming became a deep, resounding roar as she finished shifting.

Kyra’s vision tunneled in the direction she meant to head. She ignored Malcolm roaring for the rest of the Pride to wake up and join them as she bolted for the road.

That engine, and whatever it belonged to, was at least a mile away by the time Kyra reached the street. She could still hear it blaring from afar, gaining distance at dangerous speed. She bent her head to the ground, sniffing at any tracks or footprints she found. Unadulterated tenacity coursed through her veins. Winds be damned! She would find something, anything, any way to track her target.

A trace of her mother’s blood rested near fresh tire impressions on the cracked, neglected asphalt. A growl vibrated her throat as she bounded forward, following the trail. I’m going to tear them apart!

***

Read Chapter Two Here

Preliminary Blurbs for WIPs

The WIP I am currently focused on finishing:

Working Title: Bloodstained Shadows (first of a series without a definitive end in sight)

Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

Preliminary Blurb:

Shadow Cove, Oregon is known among the paranormal population as the only town where they can openly be what they are, but that doesn’t mean everyone gets along. Many paranormals choose to blend in with, or live on the fringes of, human society rather than deal with the inevitable drama and politics. But when Kyra Waters needs to obtain justice for the murder of her mother, Shadow Cove is the only place where it can be found.

Two WIPs that are on the back burner, which I plan to pick back up after getting at least the first three in the above series completed:

1) Working Title: Born of Science and Myth

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

Preliminary Blurb:

Ellen Farraday is a scientist who wants to take advantage of modern day chimera techniques to help her fellow man become stronger, healthier, better. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Ellen’s daughter, Tala, never asked to be a monster.

2) Working Title: The Winter Chronicles

Genre: Fantasy

Preliminary Blurb:

Emily Morgan thought she was normal. Nothing prepared her for the centaur who needed her, the warlock who threatened her, or the world hidden beneath her. Still, quests and unknown destinies aside, who doesn’t want to meet a unicorn?

Launching a Patreon Page

Thanks for taking an interest in what I have to say! You must be very bored. 😉 I kid, I kid.

I have far too many ideas, too much inspiration, and way too many storylines to ever be able to write them all down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about that. I’m just complaining about the lack of time to create as many universes as plague my mind. Guess I’m just going to have to come to terms with the fact I’m likely to die with a laptop in hand.

So to help keep me on track with what I’m working on creatively, and make more time for it, I’ve decided to launch a Patreon Page. I’m really excited about this endeavor. Now… back to that WIP!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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