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Deleted Scene: Alternate When Regina First Meets Hyperion

This is the end of one of the first drafts of the scene where Regina and Theodore Thane first meet. Thane is a formative presence in Regina’s youth and I really struggled getting their first encounter *just right*. This didn’t make it into the final version of Moonshine but I wanted to share this with you because I thought it was an adorable interaction between Regina and Thane where he shows more of his human feelings and she acts like the adorable wolf pup she is.

Enjoy!

Note: This is a deleted scene from the early drafting stage. It is extremely rough and has not gone through the editing process.

Continue reading “Deleted Scene: Alternate When Regina First Meets Hyperion”

Regina’s Guide to Monster Hunting

Here you can read some of the more “technical” information about the different types of supernatural creatures in my book series. In Pulling Teeth, this info-dump is preceded by a little vignette of Regina in a classroom setting so be sure to check out the full version 🙂

This list includes werewolves and vampires because technically every supernatural being in my series is a Void Creature.

What is a Void Creature? Find out here 🙂

You will notice there is a ton of information about vampires here. This will be important later. Vampires and Mages have the widest range of traits and talents out of all the other supernatural species. While the main story arc of The Slaughter Chronicles follows Regina, I have many supporting characters who have their own stories to tell.

REGINA’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING

Everything comes from the Void. The Lost Sisters of Swarm and Scourge, Seirios the Dog Star, the yaguara of the Americas, the garuda of East Asia and Mongolia, the Baba Yaga in Russia, and the progenitors of werewolves. All of them have the same point of origin.

Contamination is spread one of two ways:

  1. Transmission like a disease, where the genetic material of the Void is absorbed and recombined with the DNA of the living host. 
  2. Reproduction, where the genetic material is passed from parent—usually a Void Creature or Mage—to offspring.Void Creature

Void creature

Void Creature: A generic term for anything that is not a werewolf or a vampire; a supernatural creature originating from the Void Dimension. Still carbon based but definitely not from here. Most Void Creatures cannot contaminate humans the same way the werewolf and vampire species can. They can, however, reproduce with humans and animals and create offspring with Void characteristics.

  1. For imaginary references refer to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and China Miéville. They may well have some basis in reality. 
  2. SEE: Monster, Demon, Abyssal Abomination, Lesser-Spotted Majestic Death-Danger Noodle, etc.
  3. How to kill one: You are very, very lucky.

mages

Mage: The offspring of a human—or sometimes an animal—and anything that is not from this planet (See: Lesser-Spotted Majestic Death-Danger Noodle). They can look like squishy humans on the outside, but they are extremely durable and possess preternatural skills or talents inherited from their nonhuman parent.

The most common of these talents are:

  1. Teleportation
  2. Transmutation
  3. Clairvoyance
  4. Telekinesis

There are many variations of these talents.

  1. Transmutation of organic matter vs. inorganic matter
  2. Pyrokinesis vs. levitation (different from teleportation)
  3. Past vs. future sight and how far each way
  4. Distance traveled vs. phasing through objects
  5. And many others

No Mage is reported to have more than one talent, and like the werewolf and the vampire, the potency of their power reduces as their genetic material is passed down through the generations. Mages can also look like their Void Creature parents and exhibit frightening and/or unsettling physical features. Best not to eat before you go out hunting.

  1. How to kill one on Earth: Depending on their talent, the same way you kill any other human. It just might be hard to get close to them. Or they might turn you into cheese if they touch you.
  2. How to kill one in the Void: The same way you kill one on Earth.
  3. Please note: Sometimes Mages are the hardest to kill because they look just like regular people and they don’t know what they are. The hunters of Prometheus’s Shame are required to cultivate a special kind of fortitude.

werewolves

Common characteristics of werewolves include but are not limited to: Increased muscle mass, extra teeth and increased aggression during key points in the lunar cycle.

They can live independently or in packs. Like vampires, werewolves like to clump together. Also like vampires, there is one central authority figure in a pack.

A werewolf can spread its contamination to another human by biting or other fluid exchange. A contaminated human takes on the characteristics of the beast or humanoid werewolf that bites him or her.

  1. Pros: Increased strength, durability, and endurance. Werewolves are not hindered by sunlight and can hide their contamination by changing shape whenever they want. A werewolf, no matter the strength of their strain, can easily hide in human society.
  2. Cons: Silver is toxic to them and, even though werewolves can change their shape any time they please, they do become more aggressive and unpredictable during the week of the full moon and they are compelled to change shape.
  3. • How to kill them on Earth: Most werewolves do not have the staggering regenerative capabilities of vampires, but they are very hard to kill. Destroying the head or any substantial trauma to vital organs will work. Sometimes heavy firepower is needed to take one down. Most werewolves are also susceptible to poisons. Lots of silver works too. During a full moon a werewolf’s aggression overrides pain and self-preservation.
  4. How to kill them in the Void: No one has (so far) ever seen the species of Void Creature that  causes werewolf contamination in humans. However, it is safe to say that any encounter would prove immediately fatal.

Vampires

Vampire: A human who has been contaminated by a Swarmer. The Swarm, or Swarmer when there’s only one—there’s never only one—closely resemble mosquitos and lampreys; a kind of slimy, slinky snake thing with long, thin legs, one pair of narrow paddle-shaped wings, and large iridescent scales.

In the Void, females spend the majority of their lives in the air while the males are sessile; after a male hatches, he glues himself to a rocky outcropping in the mountain regions and waits for females to fly by and pick up his reproduct-y bits. In the Void, there are two types of females: queens and drones. The queens lay the eggs and the drones care for and protect them. After they hatch, females spend nearly all of their lives in the air.

Vampires can also be normal humans contaminated by another contaminated human. When that happens, the resulting vampire is usually weaker than a vampire turned directly by a Swarmer. The weaker vampires are nearly indistinguishable from normal humans, except for the bloodlust and aversion to sunlight.

A human contaminated by a drone will pass on weaker contamination than a human turned by a queen. (Similar to the differences in werewolf contaminations.) Humans contaminated by queens or males experience a more severe version of contamination. While some of them can still pass as human, most lose all of their human physical features and look like the Swarmers that made them.

Most of the vampire contaminations you will encounter are caused by female drones. HADES has only two recorded cases of contamination by a male, once they settle in one spot, they do not move and rarely encounter humans to contaminate.

Human vampires like to swarm just as much as their Void Creature counter-parts. Drone vampires are drawn to king and queen vampires. Very rarely will a vampire live a solitary life, usually they enjoy gathering together in hives or courts with established hierarchies.

The most common characteristics of vampires include but are not limited to sensitivity to sunlight, increased dexterity, and spontaneous regeneration of tissue when organic material—blood, sometimes raw flesh—is consumed.

  1. Pros: Increased speed and dexterity make vampires very difficult to track. Excluding some Void Creatures, they are the most stealthy predators in the supernatural kingdom.
  2. Cons: Sunlight is usually fatal. Some can stand it if they’re in the shade so don’t let your guard down. Royal vampires can rarely appear in public because their physical appearance is permanently altered after contamination.
  3. How to kill them on Earth: To kill a vampire it must be completely dismembered and the torso pinned to the ground, through the heart, and set on fire until it is burned to ashes and bones. For the more powerful ones, the ashes should be divided and many miles put between them. Mere scattering or mixing with running water isn’t good enough. The ashes must be mixed in cement or ceramic and then the bricks must be left out in direct sunlight. When exterminating a nest, it’s a good idea to mix several vampires’ remains together, that way if they try to regenerate, the genetic material won’t match and the flesh will get confused.
  4. How to kill them in the Void: You can’t. They regenerate too quickly. If you shoot a Swarmer out of the air, she can heal herself before she hits the ground and then attack you. The best thing you can do is wound her severely enough she runs away. Swarmers are very lazy, and if she thinks you’re too difficult to eat she’ll give up and look for food elsewhere. Defense perimeters with mounted turrets and flame throwers work only if you don’t plan on leaving your camp. If you need to move and a Swarm is on you, you’re pretty much fucked.
  5. Note: There are no actual mosquitoes, eels, or bats in the Void.

end credits

Pulling Teeth and Other Stories is now available for pre-order. If you’re interested but you’re not sure you’ll like my work you can sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a copy of one of the stories for free (Harbinger of Havoc).

If you don’t like it, all you have to do is unsubscribe.

Pre-Order your copy of Pulling Teeth on:
Amazon (US)
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes and Noble

Thanks for reading and keep on keeping on!

*Note: The Slaughter Chronicles is only available in ebook format.

Behind the Scenes: What is a Void Creature?

When I first started writing The Slaughter Chronicles back in 2017 I wanted to make a clear distinction between vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures. For the longest time, I used the generic term “demon” to cover everything that wasn’t a vampire or a werewolf and for a while, it flowed pretty well, especially with Sanctum, my hyper-religious monster-hunting order.

But then, as I put more flesh and definition into my imaginary world, I realized that the secular monster hunters (namely HADES) wouldn’t necessarily use terminology with superstitious or religious connotations. So I had to figure something else out.

This was a problem that stalled my worldbuilding for at least 6 months because I didn’t come up with the character of Theodore Thane or HADES’s Void hunting division until late 2019.

So, I spent 2017-summer 2019 wobbling back and forth between words that were okay but just didn’t feel right and wearing holes in my thesaurus.

Why was Thane (aka Hyperion) so helpful in solving this problem?

Theodore Thane is a “demon” hunter. But he hates organized religion. He’s also extremely analytical and narcissistic. A very thorough researcher, with a heavy science background, Thane has also been around for a few decades longer than most of the other characters so he’s gained a lot of experience and seen a lot of things.

After I built up Thane’s backstory it was very easy to adopt how this one character classified all these other monsters and use his perceptions to categorize the monsters. Using his terminology also works well because Regina, my protagonist, learned pretty much everything about my paranormal world from Thane.

Members of Sanctum still use the word “demon” to talk about every supernatural creature, no matter where they came from.

End Credits and Purchase Links

Pulling Teeth and Other Stories is available for pre-order right now. It will go live on November 24. That’s Tuesday after next!

For 1.99 USD you get two Regina Slaughter backstory novellas, three Slaughter Chronicles short stories and extra worldbuilding content.

Amazon
Apple iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords

Barnes and Noble and Google Play purchase links are on the way.

If you haven’t already, give a thought to signing up for my monthly newsletter. As a Thank You from me you will receive one of the short stories in Pulling Teeth for free. The next one goes out to subscribers on November 30th.

Writing Short Fiction

Or: The Impact of Short Fiction on Longer Novels

Or: Why Writing Short Fiction is Good…

*Disclaimer: this can be read as a “writing advice” blog post but please don’t take it seriously or personally. What worked for me might not work for you, everyone’s writing process is different and art is, as always, very subjective. So if you resonate with anything here, great. If not, also great. Thanks for reading.

I strongly believe that if you’re going to be a successful writer you have to know how to write short forms. If you write fiction, you have to be able to write and finish a short story/flash fiction/micro fiction. If you write poetry or more lyrical forms of prose, you need to have some experience with shorter forms of poetry.

(And I’m not just saying that because I wrote a short fiction collection and it’s now available for pre-order.)

Some of you out there might be reading this and thinking:

  1. I’ve written full-length novels but never short stories and I’m successful so what gives?
  2. That’s exactly what my awful creative wiring teacher said and those “old school” ideas about how to be a writer are way more harmful than helpful.
  3. I don’t like writing short fiction/short fiction isn’t my goal so I don’t see the point in this.

All of those thoughts are valid. I know writers who only write long fiction and they are happily existing not writing short stories. I know writers who think that the only way to be successful in the traditional publishing world is to sell short stories to well-known magazines first and then get picked up by a larger publishing house (Ray Bradbury and I think Stephen King did this as well).

And as for that third question; I’m a poet. I don’t like writing sonnets. I know how to write a fucking sonnet. Not because I was pressured into following some gatekeeper’s rules or had an awful teacher in the past, but because it was part of the craft I wanted to master (not that I’ve mastered poetry in any way, shape, or form). So I learned how to do it.

If you want to get good at playing the piano you do scales. If you want to get good at writing, you practice writing.

Short stories force you to make up an end.

They force you to be specific and concise with your narrative.

(Back to poetry)

When I first started sending out my work to get published I was met with a flurry of rejections. But I’d revised and polished and revised again. I couldn’t figure out why editors were rejecting me.

Now, I wasn’t writing long poems but they were directionless. They were pretty word pictures with either very vague or no purpose.

How did I realize this? I discovered micro poetry on Twitter. And then I tried writing micro poetry and I found I was shit at it. I learned that if you can’t make a small version of the thing, you really can’t make a big version of the thing.

So I worked on it and got intentional and specific with my language. I wrote lots and lots of micro poems. And then my longer pieces started getting published.

The point of all this is you can use short stories to

  1. practice writing
  2. develop your voice
  3. make your writing better

And it’s also pretty damn satisfying when you can write THE END on something. Even if it’s a piece of flash fiction. You completed a project! Good job!

I’m writing a nine to ten book grimdark paranormal fantasy series. I’m constantly scanning the big picture and a lot of the time I get stressed out because I can’t see the trees for all the forest.

I know where the story is going but I don’t know how to get there. I get hung up on the minutiae and everything stalls.

I’ve re-written Book One four times since 2018 and I’m about to start on the fifth and final re-write. How do I know this is the final one? How do I know I’m not just going to repeat the cycle of incompletion over and over again and never get my book done?

Spite. Sheer spite.

And writing short fiction. When I get stuck I jump to something else, a different character or a different part in the series. Sometimes I make a short story out of it. And that short story helps me fill those plot holes and move on.

Short stories help you practice how to end things, remember.

Not all the short stories in Pulling Teeth came about that way. I seriously love it when a writer adds companion and/or prequel pieces to their series. I will eat that shit up.

So, if you’re a writer and you’re stuck on something, try writing an unrelated short story. See what happens. Let me know 🙂

End Credits and Purchase Links

As I mentioned before, Pulling Teeth and Other Stories is now available for pre-order. If you’re interested but you’re not sure you’ll like my work you can sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a copy of one of the stories for free (Harbinger of Havoc).

If you don’t like it, all you have to do is unsubscribe.

Pre-Order your copy of Pulling Teeth on:
Amazon (US)
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes and Noble link pending

Thanks for reading and keep on keeping on!

*Note: The Slaughter Chronicles is only available in ebook format.

*Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

HADES: Departments and Threat Assessments

What is HADES?

HADES, on paper and in any official or legal context, is a private security company in The Slaughter Chronicles universe.

Unofficially, it recruits, houses, trains, and pays the majority of all monster hunters living in North America. HADES recruiters target individuals whose families have been decimated by strange illnesses or bizarre accidents that baffle local law enforcement.

These things happen more often than you think.

Upon recruitment, the perspective employee is run through a series of aptitude and placement tests to evaluate their skills. They are then assigned to the division where they will (theoretically) make the best fit. Not every recruit is cut out for field work, those individuals are relegated to the support and administrative positions.

Those who are deemed fit and tenacious enough for combat situations are allocated to the operations and hunting units.

A HADES hunter has no personal attachments to family and friends from their previous life; upon employment, all pre-existing debts or obligations are paid and removed by the legal and accounting teams. In exchange for complete erasure from society, hunters put themselves in great physical and psychological peril to protect the rest of the blissfully ignorant human population.

HADES Hunting Divisions

Gluttons of Chronos: Werewolf Hunters

Symbol: Two smoking shotguns crossed under a wolf skull with Gluttons of Chronos written underneath in cursive

Note: They are the only division within HADES to openly advertise their division name. Cocky bastards.

Hyperion’s Fury: Void Hunters

Symbol: White sun with rays and a human skull inside

Biscuits of Cerberus: Internal Affairs

Symbol: Three black dog heads inside a white bone

Note: They hunt down all the hunters who turn. Scary as fuck.

River Styx: Information Technology

Symbol: Winding river that ends in a power plug.

Charon’s Fare: Recruiting and Dispatch

Symbol: Two white discs/coins on a black field

Themis’s Judgement: Legal and Accounting

Symbol: A pair of scales

Fun Fact: Themis’s Judgement is the only department in HADES with two department heads.

Prometheus’s Shame: Mage Hunters

Symbol: Fire

Nyx’s Tears: Vampire Hunters

Symbol: Eye with teeth

Hephaestus’s Arms: Weapons Development

Symbol: Two crossing hammers

Departments that exist but I haven’t come up with their symbols yet…

Gaea’s Pride: EMT/Medical

Tartarus’s Tribute: Logistics and Supply

HADES Threat Assessments

Ranked from lowest to highest.

1ST = one skull threat. You can kill it by stepping on it.

2ST = two skull threat. You can kill it by stepping on it but don’t be a dumbass.

3ST = three skull threat. Bring extra bullets.

4ST = four skull threat. Bring more extra bullets.

5ST = five skull threat. Get a team, get a flame thrower.

6ST-9ST = six to nine skull threat. A 50 cal is your friend…results may vary—

10ST or God Level Threat = make sure you have all you insurance paperwork filled out with Legal. Only high-ranking and experienced squads are ever ordered to engage these threats. Even then, engage only if you’re crazy and have a shit ton of C4.

God Level Threats on file:

• Anubis: Azir Naifeh, Mage. Cairo, Egypt. Do. Not. Engage.

• Apollo: Max, Void Creature. Nevada, USA.

• Ares: Rusty King, Vampire. Ink, Arkansas, USA.

• The Dragon: [NAME UNKNOWN], Void Creature. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

• Fenrir: [NAME UNKNOWN], Werewolf. [LOCATION UNKNOWN].

• The Kelpie: [NAME UNKNOWN], Void Creature. Loch Slochd, Scotland.

• Niña Blanca: [NAME UNKNOWN], Void Creature. [CITY UNKNOWN], Mexico. Do. Not. Engage.

• Poseidon: Eisley L’Olonnais, Vampire. Pacific Ocean.

• Veles: [NAME UNKNOWN], Void Creature. The Baltic Sea.

11ST = CLASSIFIED. This does not exist, there is no such thing. Forget you ever heard about it.

There are other supernatural creatures targets on file but those are classified.

Ink sketch of Theodore Thane wearing his plague mask.
Preliminary concept art for Theodore Thane/Hyperion by Mr. J. Spoiler alert: claws…

Pulling Teeth and Other Stories is now available for pre-order. If you’re interested but you’re not sure you’ll like my work you can sign up for my monthly newsletter and get a copy of one of the stories for free (Harbinger of Havoc).

If you don’t like it, all you have to do is unsubscribe.

Pre-Order your copy of Pulling Teeth on:
Amazon (US)
Kobo
Smashwords
iBooks
Barnes and Noble link pending

Thanks for reading and keep on keeping on!

*Note: The Slaughter Chronicles is only available in ebook format.