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Strong Female Characters and Disappointment in the Man Who Created them

Strong Female Characters and Disappointment in the Man Who Created them

I’ve spent the afternoon wallowing in disappointment.

I left with a little disappointment floating around my head. It wasn’t what I had expected to be doing after a trip to Wizard World, one of the many comic cons that spring up every year. It could have been a totally cool conversation with a with an actress from a show that inspired my characters; the strong female character.

Meeting Cordelia Chase

I fell in love with Buffy. The characters, the story arcs, the development and most importantly, I was impressed by Joss Whedon and his ability to create these real women. Women who are strong, who fall and pick themselves up and write their own rules.

I explained to Charisma Carpenter, the actress who played Cordelia Chase, how much I loved the show, the female strong female characters. I proclaimed my admiration for their creator, Joss Whedon and how his characters were the blueprint for how I developed my own characters.

She expressed her congratulations on my writing my books but asked me what I thought about the Joss Whedon news that had recently come to light.

I had no idea.

Disappointment Sets In

Charisma shared the news that while Joss was married, it is alleged he had multiple affairs and asked about my thoughts on that. My first thought, I could separate the two. The man who was raised by a feminist. A man who was a self-proclaimed feminist, who won many awards for his work.

But can I really separate the two?

It was disappointing to say the least. I had admired him for so long. What I felt was his true work, spoke to me, inspired me as I wrote about Annie Pearce., developing her in a way that made her a real woman, a strong woman. Buffy Summers as my model. Was it all fake?

Grappling With My Thoughts

As I grapple with the meaning of this news, I still feel that how Joss Whedon wrote women, was spot on. They feel real, they are relatable, and beautiful and smart and they each have flaws and issues and problems they face. Just like me. Just like my characters. That for me is real.

Is he entitled to write them? Yes he is. Do I have to admire him? I can admire the work that he has done. The characters that mean so much to me, but I no longer admire the man the way that I once was. He isn’t perfect. But then, either am I. He doesn’t have to apologize to me and I can still watch and love the characters that were created. Maybe some day I’ll have different thoughts. For now, I’ll move on to what’s most important to me. Saying what I need to say about myself as a woman with dreams and goals. And maybe in the future, I should create my own blue print for the strong female character. I think I can do that.

 

 

 

 

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

All it Takes is Confidence

Even social media is difficult for an introvert, who oftentimes lacks basic confidence. So what’s an inspiring author supposed to do when she needs to recruit strangers to help with a social media campaign?

You pretend you’re not shy, or an introvert and you fake yourself out, acting as though you really have no problem making conversation with totally random strangers.

But they weren’t so random, the locations were selected carefully. We wanted cool., comfortable, roomy enough to spread out our stuff; the camera equipment, the books, the giveaways, the props.

But I had to recruit, dig deep and walk up to the ones I wanted. The kids that looked like they might like an urban fantasy, who weren’t so engrossed in conversation it would be a complete intrusion.

And There Goes the Confidence

With a deep breath and a lot reserve, I introduced myself as if I owned it, as if I exuded confidence and asked for what I wanted. The first guy gracefully declined, he was meeting someone soon. I thanked him for his time and moved on.

It was a perfect location. a coffee shop. There were four of them, twenty something’s out on a Sunday afternoon. Some with backpacks and homework, all of them with their phones. I was surprised how willing they were to have their pictures taken. They graciously did as we asked as my friend and photographer Jim took their pictures.

In exchange, I gave them copies of book one, The Day of First Sun. I gave them some swag. They were nice and they seemed to enjoy the surprise in their day, something different, something unique.

Am I Really an Introvert?

The funny thing is, I always tell people I’m an introvert. Which I probably am, until I find myself in a perfectly comfortable situation. A happy place, where I do what I love, in a place where I’m passionate for what I do. Maybe all those times I thought I was shy and unable to do things is because I really didn’t find that thing I loved, or I forgot what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up.

I seemed to have found my confidence, my strength. When I write, when I talk about my books, when I attend book fairs, those things I once thought were scary aren’t so much anymore. I’m drawn to the life of an author and I look forward to the experience that comes with it.

Come see me at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest on June 10th and 11th.

And for the first time I’ll be attending the Ann Arbor Book Festival on June 17th. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to share.

 

 

 

Annie Pearce

Annie Pearce

The Day of First Sun

Steam wafted from the cauldron as bubbles popped and pinged against the iron sides. The boiling potion gave off a pungent vapor that moistened Annie Pearce’s face and frizzed her massive wave of curls. She wiped away the sweat with her sleeve and checked the heat beneath the oversized cauldron, reducing the blue and orange flames. Though the heat was lower, the flames still danced and pulsed as they cooked the holy water.

Stirring the potion calmed her apprehension and siphoned some excess adrenaline she always felt before facing a vampire. But then, this wasn’t an average vampire.

The timer beeped and, standing on bare toes, Annie peeked inside the pot. The clear liquid bubbled softly, so she shut off the fire before dumping a bucket of ice into the mixture. As cold met hot, the potion hissed like an angry snake, sending more steam in the air. Unfazed, Annie sang along with P!nk’s “Who Knew” as it blared from the small radio near the stove.

As the potion cooled, Annie loaded supplies into a field pack. First came an abridged version of her Book of Shadows. The tome contained potions, spells, and notes—an accumulation of Annie’s life experiences with magic. The book had grown exponentially over her five years with the Wizard Guard; thumbing through the book, she was amazed and maybe a little proud by its thickness.

The book fit nicely beside several ash stakes, each whittled to the sharpest point, good for piercing the skin and the breast bone of a vampire. On top of those lay a rolled map of Chicago tied with a scrying crystal necklace.

Three songs played on the radio by the time Annie finished gathering and packing her supplies. After closing up the pack, she poked her head into the cauldron and immersed a pinky finger in the potion.

Perfect!

Rummaging through the kitchen cabinets belonging to her best friend and Wizard Guard partner Bobby “Cham” Chamsky, she found a stash of small glass vials, grabbed a handful and placed them in a haphazard cluster on the counter. Filling twelve—more than enough to take down the vampire—she tucked half of the bottles deep inside her field pack to prevent shifting during teleportation. The rest she left for Cham.

“Isn’t the potion done yet? It smells like it’s burnt,” he complained from the dining room.

Rolling her eyes and arching her back Annie glared at him. His scrying crystal glowed bright white, and he marked another location on the map next to the several already drawn that night.

“I’m a potion master. It’s not burnt. Haven’t you found him yet?” she asked defensively.

Cham glanced up and offered a grimace. “Yeesh. He’s never in one place long enough to confirm his location.”

Burn my potion, right.

 

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When Jack Meets a Vampire – All Hell Breaks Loose

When Jack Meets a Vampire – All Hell Breaks Loose

 

Paralyzed, Jack continued to stare at the cooler door. “One of the victims witnessed a murder I’m investigating. I think the suspect killed them.” He fondled the handle of his gun again, clearly debating whether to remove it from its holster. He pulled it out briefly and placed it back.

“The gun won’t help.” Annie advised. She summoned a glass vial. “This will, though.” She tossed the small glass bottle to him.

“What . . .” Jack caught it and examined the clear liquid inside.

 “Throw that close to the ground beside whoever might be in here.”

Annie strolled to the cooler. Her hand grazed the cool handle, and her gut screamed out a warning. “It’s not your suspect who killed them.” She pulled on the handle. A rush of cold air blew out as the door swung open.

With shaky hands, Jack drew his gun, she heard a click.

“I told you a gun won’t help.”

“Who the hell are you?”

In her own adrenaline rush, that high just before a vampire fight, Annie summoned an ash stake; her hand wrapped around it tightly and held it out in front of her.

“Uh, what the hell is that? A stake. Is this holy water? Vampires?” his voice raised a few octaves, in realization and fear. Annie recognized his fear.

The vampire is going to kill him. “Stay behind me and run like hell if something comes at you.”

Annie entered the cooler, her flashlight rolling over the walls and shelves. There were five industrial-sized storage units stacked inside the cooler two bodies deep; each contained four shelves. The overflow bodies lay on gurneys pushed up against the wall. There was very little room to maneuver in the small space.

The bodies lay in plastic body bags, some of which were neatly zippered while others were open, appendages hanging over the sides.

Annie chose to start with the gurneys, assuming the newest bodies resided there. She checked the first toe tag. Jack cocked his gun.

“Put it away,” she said. “It’s not going to help. The holy water will.”

The first toe tag belonged to Jeffrey Marcus, dead as of two weeks prior and not a victim. Replacing the tag, Annie zippered up the bag and moved to the next body. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not from the CPD. I’m part of the Wizard Guard, an organization of magical police officers.” Checking the next toe tag, Annie highlighted the name, dropped the tag and moved on to the next body.

“Is this a joke? I should arrest you for tampering with evidence.”

“Why would I make this up? I’m a witch. I do magic.”

Scratch . . . scratch . . . Annie swung around and scanned the room with her flashlight, examining the body bags for movement. There’s so many here, she thought. It was quiet except for the freezer’s compressor. Annie returned to her search, seeing nothing move.

Worried there was a third vampire with them, Annie glanced back again after a moment, surveying the room. She could sense time ticking away as clearly as if there were a clock in her head. “Take this,” she said, floating a second vial to Jack. His eyes widened, his jaw clenched again, and he cocked the gun and aimed it at Annie.

“Help me find our victims,” Annie cried. The vial spun in the air before them. The FBI agent’s eyes darted from the Wizard Guard to the vial; sensing her tension, he grabbed the small glass container with shaking hands and held it tightly, nearly cracking the thin glass.

Scratch . . . scratch . . .

Annie took a breath and whispered, “There’s something in here with us.”

“What does that mean?” Jack glanced around the room, pointing his gun haphazardly.

“Put the gun away. Just uncork the vials and throw them on the vampire. It’s strong enough to slow them down until I stake it.”

“What the hell is going on?”

Scratch . . . scratch . . . scratch.

Annie twirled and inched her way toward the scratching while Jack, white as a ghost, hung back at the door.

“What’s in here with us?”

“A vampire.”

Jack blanched. He held the vial in one hand, the gun in the other. Both hands shook violently. “This doesn’t make sense.”

“For now, it doesn’t have to.” Annie reached for another name tag.

“Laurie Lispin and Marcus Johansson,” Jack called to her.

“Thanks.” Annie continued down the line, verifying each tag and moving more quickly now through the bodies. After checking the first two rows, Annie called out, “I got Laurie.”

Standing over the body, Annie examined the bag for movement and listened for growling, even though she knew it was too early for Laurie to turn. Carefully unzipping the body bag, she released the victim’s hair; it cascaded out and landed against the side of the shelf. Annie lifted the hair, focused her flashlight on the neck, and examined the two puncture wounds. They were not as dark as they had been twenty hours earlier. Annie put her flashlight in her mouth, popped the cork of the holy water, and dribbled a small amount on the victim’s leg. The liquid bubbled and blistered the skin of the vampire.

Grabbing the stake, Annie thrust it into the vampire’s chest. The demon’s eyes burst open, filled with both surprise and confusion. As the stake punctured the heart, the body burst into flame. A primal scream, raw and angry, escaped the vampire’s lips as the fire consumed her. Her shriek of terror reverberated in the room, bounding off the walls. It lingered even after the body was nothing more than a pile of ash.

“How . . . what . . . how did that happen?” Jack asked, finally entering the cooler.

“We need . . . to find Marcus,” Annie managed to grunt through rapid breaths.

“Are they always . . . made into vampires?” Apprehensively, he joined Annie’s search for Marcus, checking toe tags on the opposite aisle.

“No. Vampires are kinda picky. They don’t let everyone in. There must’ve been something about Laurie and probably Marcus that appealed to the vampire.”

“It’s kind of like a club.” Jack choked on a nervous laugh. He coughed.

“Not so organized, actually. It’s more like a gang. If you turn a victim, they’re indebted to you forever.”

Annie placed a foot on the lowest shelf and reached above, pulling herself up to check the tag. “Were they both brought here?”

“Yes. They’d want to keep the victims together to look for evidence and compare.”

“Where is he then?” Annie jumped down.

Scratch . . . scratch . . . scratch.

Jack jumped. “Did you hear that?”

“Yeah. We need to find Marcus before that one escapes his bag.”

“How is that possible? We only had two victims.” Jack checked another tag before moving on to the next body.

“You know how many vampires we collect from your morgues?”

Annie felt like time was speeding up and getting away from her right when she least wanted it. She trained her light in the direction of the scratching, looking for movement.

“Do I really want to know?” The body four down from Laurie lay in an open bag, two small puncture wounds across the neck. “I found Marcus.” He hastily stepped away from the body.

After verifying the toe tag, Annie examined Marcus’s neck for the telltale wound.

“You don’t believe me?”

“Habit.” The holy water splashed on a very hairy arm and bubbled like a pot of boiling water, leaving blisters and waking the vampire.

The body that once belonged to Marcus stared at Annie with eyes like black pools, devoid of anything human. The new demon let out an angry growl. Annie lunged at the vampire, pushing the stake into its heart. Much like Laurie, Marcus Johansson exploded into flames and let out a piercing scream. Annie felt the vibration through her body.

Ash floated in the air, filling the body bag and covering several surrounding bodies, the cement floor, and Annie’s hair. A stray ember whizzed by, and she patted it out. Stepping away from the vampire, Annie stood guard until the last of the embers burnt out.

“So now what?” Jack asked, wiping ash from his suit pants.

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use

 

To find out more about Jack and foray into the magical world check out The Day of First Sun on Amazon.com!

What is The Day of First Sun

What is The Day of First Sun

Wheat field in late afternoon rays of the setting sun over Royalty Free Stock Photos

The thing about writing urban fantasy stories, you get to make shit up. I like to base stories on traditional folk tales, stories that are familiar. I enjoy resonating with our collective past. Really, some of these tales are just too fascinating to pass up.

However, sometimes there just isn’t an appropriate existing story that fits well with my plot and that’s when I make shit up. Unfortunately or fortunately for me depending on how you look at it, I’m a pantser, meaning I write my stories with a rough idea of what the story is about, sometimes I have the beginning and the ending, oftentimes they don’t present themselves until a later point in time. What’s great about that is, I get surprised much like my readers would be surprised by plot twists. The downside, I come up with the idea and have to back track, research while in the grips of a great writing session. And that’s where making up stuff comes in really handy. If you think it’s a bad way to write, read Stephen King. He’s one of us too.

I find that with enough careful editing, my stories tend to fall in to place better than if I could actually plot them out. I’ve tried, I just can’t stick to the plan and for those of you who could, you’re known as a plotter, much like JK Rowling. The point though that I’m trying to make is, regardless of your personal style, we get to make stuff up to fit our story the best way we can, whether it’s beforehand or while writing. And in that process, the magical holiday of The Day of First Sun was born.

Excerpt from The Day of First Sun

Magic came to the world with the birth of the first magical child in a mystical clearing of land around 3500 BCE. To this day, that clearing was considered holy land for all magicals born thereafter, both good and evil. Over a millennium later, a battle was fought on the sacred land with devastating consequences.

A portal between Earth and other realms opened, giving vampires, werewolves, and other demons access to Earth. Myths told of a time when the sun did not come out and the beasts freely roamed the planet.

Centuries later, a brave witch fought a second battle on the sacred land, closing the portal forever. The battle, which took place on the first of September, became known as the Day of First Sun. Once the threshold closed, the sun emerged again, but it was too late. The Earth was overrun with supernatural evil.

 

Curious how the Day of First Sun affects the modern-day witch? Join the celebration. To order The Day of First Sun

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When Annie Met Bobby

When Annie Met Bobby

Annie didn’t want to go to family day at Wizard Hall. It was the place where dad worked and he would want to visit with his co-workers. She rolled her eyes when he said they had to go. But mostly she didn’t want to hear her older sister Samantha sing at the concert. All she really wanted to do was ride the broomsticks they always had at family day.

Because her father Jason Pearce worked at Wizard Hall as a Wizard Guard, a member of the magical police department, she spent her time either in the daycare facility and as she got older, the wizarding school. It earned her and her friends the nickname Hall Brats. She found the other hall brats after she and her father teleported into the courtyard at the center of the Hall. Excited to see her friends she began to run toward them until her father held her back and led her in the opposite direction.

With her face in a scowl, she stomped off behind dad, finding it difficult to maneuver in the thick crowd. Her small frame was jostled between adults as she lost her father in the people. Jumping up and down, she looked for his feathery brown hair and glasses.

“Lose something?” John Gibbs asked. He worked with her father, was one of the other Wizard Guards. Annie was one of the few children unafraid by his appearance, by the long scar across his cheek, his face marked with scars and bumps from years of fighting demons and vampires. Annie found him fascinating.

“Hi Mr. Gibbs. I can’t find dad.”

He knelt down beside her and said, “Jump on.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waste and he lifted her up. Deftly, he maneuvered the crowd delivering Annie to father, who had stopped to talk to another Wizard Guard.

“I found someone for you,” Gibbs said as Annie slid down his back, landing on the ground.

“I wondered where you went,” Jason Pearce said as he smiled at his daughter. He held out his hand and drew her closer. “Thanks Gibbs.” John Gibbs nodded once and headed back into the crowd. “Remember Milo Rawley, Annie? Say hi.” She merely nodded as she glanced around the courtyard, taking in the faces and the people, some of which she knew, most she did not.

Bored and hot, she kicked loose dirt at her feet, drew pictures with the toe of her shoe.

“Mom, make him stop,” cried a boy behind her. Annie glanced up, caught the eye of a blond haired boy as he swatted sprites away from his head. He dropped his eyes, his cheeks red from embarrassment.

Several of the four inch high, blue creatures with wings, finally flew away all except one apparently tangled in a massive head of curly hair.

“Bobby stop, it’s getting stuck,” said his mother. He ignored her plea instead, yanking on the creature. It kicked and screeched trying to untangle itself. Feeling sorry for the boy named Bobby, Annie skipped over and reached up. Grabbing hold of the tiny creature, she reached around its middle and plucked a stunned sprite from his hair. The creature squealed, squirmed and kicked its feet as it flew from Annie’s grasp. Finally free, it scolded her, wagged the tiniest finger in her face. Curious, Annie stepped closer to get a better look at it, but it would have nothing else to do with her. Swirling in the air, it flew off and dive bombed Bobby’s older brother, smacking the boy on the head. Its piercing shriek drew the attention of everyone near them; they began to laugh and point.

“Mom! Make it go away!” the boy screamed.

“That’s what you get for setting it on your brother.” She smirked and returned to her conversation with an adult Annie didn’t recognize. When the sprite was finally finished with its tirade, it flew off, hiding inside the bushes behind them.

Annie glanced at Bobby, her eyes returning to the massive curls that stood straight above his head. They had become tangled and frizzed after the sprite attack. He turned away, his freckled face still red from embarrassment. He was her height; she thought he might be her age and wondered why she hadn’t seen him at school before.

“I’m Annie.”

“I’m Bobby.” He looked at her and patted down his hair. It didn’t help. “And thanks for the help.” He looked back down and played with his hand, scratching the skin as he looked at something interesting on his palm.

“He’s your brother?”

“Yeah.” Bobby dug his foot in the dirt, before finally looking up. He glanced up to see his older brothers speaking to a girl who looked a lot like Annie. Pointing he asked, “What about her?”

Annie sighed, always compared to the perfect sister, she resorted to fighting billdads—a strong foe—in the garden for attention. She was still bruised from the animal’s kangaroo-shaped body and otter tail, which swiped at her when she battled it in the garden that morning. “That’s Samantha. She’s okay.”

“Jimmy’s always picking on me.” His eyes averted again, embarrassed by his admission. Annie decided she didn’t like Jimmy as she watched him tease another boy, younger than her. He was throwing magical sparks at the young boy’s feet.

“What’s he doing now?” Annie asked.

“He’s teasing Danny. He’s my younger brother.” Bobby replied as Danny jumped each time Jimmy threw a spark. Their mother, finally annoyed at Jimmy’s behavior, intervened by pulling Jimmy away.

“Leave him be,” she scolded and she returned to Danny for comfort. Their mother coddled her youngest son, kissing him on the cheeks. He grimaced as he pulled away from her attention. Annie sighed and wished she had a mother to annoy her like that.

“So is that boy talking to Samantha another brother?” Annie was surprised by the large family. She only had Dad, Samantha and her Aloja Fairy, Zola, the protector of children and pregnant women.

“That’s John. He and Jimmy are twins. One’s evil and one’s good.” Bobby added.

There was a comfortable pause between Annie and Bobby as she wondered what her house would be like with two more kids running through it. Their silence was soon filled with the booming sound of Jason Pearce as he laughed. Warm and friendly, she watched her father for a moment before turning back to Bobby, who shifted uncomfortably, lacking something to say. Annie wasn’t sure why, but she liked him and searched for something to say, finally finding the racing pits.

“Do you like broomstick races?” She pointed, hoping her dad would finally let her head over to her friends.

“Yeah. I love them!” He turned to the races and smiled.

She didn’t hesitate as she bounced toward her father. “Daddy, can I?” She was still bouncing excitedly. He looked at the racing pits and back to his daughter before winking and nodding.

“But mom,” Bobby whined and stomped his foot; glowering across the grounds as the other kids, free from their parents, partook in the racing pits. With a gentle hand on his wife’s arm, Mr. Chamsky nodded to his son.

“Just be careful, Bobby, okay?”

He nodded his head quickly as Annie pulled a slightly mortified Bobby along to join other children at the racing pit on the edge of the courtyard.

His eyes lit up as they waited for a turn. “Have you ridden much?” he asked while playing with the collar of his shirt, and when she turned toward him, he stopped and smiled nervously.

“We live in the city, so I can’t fly that much. But I love it! What about you?”

“We live in the country and there are a lot of cool places to fly. I wanna join the racing team at Windmere someday.”

“You’re going to Windmere? That’s where I’ll go too!” Windmere High School of Wizardry was one of four wizard high schools that educated the children of witches and wizards in America. Which school you went to was determined by your hometown location. “I’m trying out too, when I get there.” Annie added.

The line was moving slowly and time dragged as they waited behind other anxious children. And when Annie didn’t think she could wait any longer, their turn finally came to board their broomsticks.

Annie mounted first, followed by Bobby, who climbed aboard his broom with practiced grace. He nodded, acknowledging that the first one to the end of the field and back would win. At the sound of the whistle, Annie took off, higher and faster than him, blasting away from the starting line.

Wind whipped at her hair, clothing rippled around her, freedom greeted her, and she almost forgot that Bobby chased her. He matched her speed and bumped the tail of her broom, pushing her to the side. She flew toward him, returning the bump. A whistle blew from behind, reminding her that bumping was illegal. With a laugh, she dashed ahead, forcing him to speed up. He remained behind her, giving her enough room to veer in front of him and cut him off. He was quick and swerved to his right, narrowly missing her broom, and pressed on until he had the lead. They were almost to the large poles at the end of the course, where they would turn for home. Annie hated to lose, especially to boys, and she kicked her feet, gaining speed until she was even with him.

“You’re good for not racing much!” he yelled, keeping the same speed as they neared the posts.

She hurtled to the right of the pole, flying the broomstick around it, almost losing her balance. After pulling to her left, she righted herself, and Bobby did the same, though he was more graceful as he straightened.

“Just wait!”

They were on the final leg of the race, their broomsticks even, and she kicked again, pulling ahead of him, but he easily caught up to her. Within feet from the finish line, his broomstick was just inches behind hers. Feeling how close he was she slid of course, giving him an unintentional chance, and in a burst of speed he passed her.

Inches separated them as his broomstick touched hers throwing them both from their brooms; they flew across the finish line and into the bushes at the end of the pit.

As she landed on top of Bobby, heard a crack, and burst into tears as pain radiated through her arm. Gingerly she rolled off of him as she held her arm out, it hung in the wrong direction. Curling herself in a ball, she gazed at the bright blue sky and watched as the white puffy clouds floated above her. It occurred to her that he hadn’t let her win, and that thought made her smile through the tears. A sudden rush of people headed for them when she sat up, and Bobby was already standing, clutching his bloodied and bruised knee.

“Nice race!” he shouted over the noise.

Their parents hurried through the crowd, Marina Chamsky, frantic as she deftly cared for Bobby, a pang of jealousy overcoming Annie, until her father’s hands cradled her arm, repairing the break.

“Next year I’ll beat you!” Bobby yelled.

“No, you won’t!” she teased. She meant it, too.

Want to know more about Annie and her lifelong friendship with Cham read The Day of First Sun on Amazon.com.

The Day of First Sun – Chapter One

The Day of First Sun – Chapter One

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use

 

Chapter  1

 

Steam wafted from the cauldron as bubbles popped and pinged against the iron sides. The boiling potion gave off a pungent vapor that moistened Annie Pearce’s face and frizzed her massive wave of curls. She wiped away the sweat with her sleeve and checked the heat beneath the oversized cauldron, reducing the blue and orange flames. Though the heat was lower, the flames still danced and pulsed as they cooked the holy water.

Stirring the potion calmed her apprehension and siphoned some excess adrenaline she always felt before facing a vampire. But then, this wasn’t an average vampire.

The timer beeped and, standing on bare toes, Annie glanced inside the pot. The clear liquid bubbled softly, so she shut off the fire before dumping a bucket of ice into the mixture. As cold met hot, the potion hissed like an angry snake, sending more steam in the air. Unfazed, Annie sang along with P!nk’s “Who Knew” as it blared from the small radio near the stove.

As the potion cooled, Annie loaded supplies into a field pack. First came an abridged version of her Book of Shadows. The tome contained potions, spells, and notes—an accumulation of Annie’s life experiences with magic. The book had grown exponentially over her five years with the Wizard Guard; thumbing through the book, she was amazed and maybe a little proud by its thickness.

The book fit nicely beside several ash stakes, each whittled to the sharpest point, good for piercing the skin and the breast bone of a vampire. On top of those lay a rolled map of Chicago tied with a scrying crystal necklace.

Three songs played on the radio by the time Annie finished gathering and packing her supplies. After closing up the pack, she poked her head into the cauldron and immersed a pinky finger in the potion.

Perfect!

Rummaging through the kitchen cabinets belonging to her best friend and Wizard Guard partner Bobby “Cham” Chamsky, she found a stash of small glass vials, grabbed a handful and placed them in a haphazard cluster on the counter. Filling twelve—more than enough to take down the vampire—she tucked half of the bottles deep inside her field pack to prevent shifting during teleportation. The rest she left for Cham.

“Isn’t the potion done yet? It smells like it’s burnt,” he complained from the dining room.

Rolling her eyes and arching her back Annie glared at him. His scrying crystal glowed bright white, and he marked another location on the map next to the several already drawn that night.

“I’m a potion master. It’s not burnt. Haven’t you found him yet?” she asked defensively.

Cham glanced up and offered a grimace. “Yeesh. He’s never in one place long enough to confirm his location.”

Burn my potion, right.

“So where would you hide a zombie army?” Cham asked, still pushing the crystal across the map.

“Someplace large and discreet, I would think. Any location fit that so far?”

After weeks of rumors flying around the wizard community, the magical police department known as the Wizard Guard could no longer ignore the vampire’s zombie army, no matter how useful the snitch was. As a result, the vampire, a creature that’s a subset of the larger demon world, became Annie’s and Cham’s problem.

“Nothing that accommodates that many bodies.” Cham’s curly blond hair sat high and wild above his head from running a hand through it. He glanced up again; Annie was still watching him. He offered an exhausted grin. “Need something?”

Annie started, caught like a child with hands in the cookie jar. Her cheeks burned red.

“I didn’t burn the potion. Your apartment smells like boy,” protested Annie.

“Okay,” he replied awkwardly before resuming his search.

What the hell? Embarrassed by the hot blush in her neck and cheeks Annie hid herself in the kitchen, cleaning up spillage, storing excess holy water, and straightening up the herb cabinet. Cham after all was her best friend and her competition in grades, broomstick racing and the Wizard Guard. There was no reason for her to disrupt their easy friendship with strange comments. Still, her busy work did little to assuage the unfamiliar exchange with her partner.

Not wanting to engage in conversation, Annie turned her attention to the only item left— the cauldron.

I hate cleaning these. But the repetitive nature of scrubbing, the backdrop of running water, and the dumping of the grayish sludge gave her time to ponder and collect her thoughts.

“Damn it!”

Cham’s voice released her from the contemplation and confusion. Curious, she joined him in the next room and found him on the floor administering a sticking spell to keep the table leg from collapsing. As with all the other spells they tried in the past it didn’t work, and the table continued to sway precariously.

“Where can I find a screw?” he asked, his freckles hidden under deep scarlet.

“A nonmagical solution?” An amused smile broke across her face as she put a finger on the swaying table to stop its motion.

“Anything’s better than this.” Cham found his way back to the seat and steadied the table with one arm while grabbing the scrying crystal. Familiar with the feel of his rock, he rolled it easily through his busy fingers.

“Conjure one?”

“I don’t own one to conjure.”

Annie shrugged as Cham returned to scrying. “Maybe we should give it a rest for tonight. It’s getting late.”

“I almost have him,” he said, irritably. But the crystal remained still without having confirmed a location more than once. Finally, Cham yawned, “Maybe I should,” and moved to put away the scrying crystal.

Just as Annie opened her mouth to agree to call it quits for the night, a phone rang, cutting through the early morning silence. They glanced at each other, and Annie tugged her cell free from her back pocket.

“This can’t be good,” she said into the phone. Milo Rawley, the Wizard Guard department manager, never personally called, not even in the event of an emergency. Annie’s stomach lurched.

“You with Cham?”

“Yeah. We’re tracking Sturtagaard.”

Cham’s face contorted in a mock scowl, causing Annie to stifle a laugh.

“Stop searching for that shithead. I need you out in the field.”

“I gathered that, Milo. What’s up?”

“Smartass. The Vampire Attack Unit arrived at a scene, but the FBI’s there.” Annie’s adrenaline replaced her weariness as her fingers gripped the phone so tightly it might crack.

“Why? How did that happen?” No longer holding her breath, Annie blew out the stale air that burned her lungs. The Vampire Attack Unit never missed their window in which to clean a scene of all evidence.

“That’s why I’m calling you.”

“Why would I know?” Annie asked, but she already knew his answer. Spending her childhood living amongst non-magicals apparently qualified her more than the others in the Wizard Guard—or so thought Milo. Though most of her colleagues now lived in non-magical communities and could easily work any investigation, all cases involving the Chicago Police Department came to her.

This is federal, not local.

Annie felt a gnawing in her stomach at the realization of what the wizard secrecy laws would require of them on a federal case. Her heart pounded in anticipation.

“You know the reason, Annie. Just do it,” Milo ordered with finality.

Through the phone, a keyboard clicked as Milo typed. She sighed loudly for his benefit and glanced at Cham with worry lines deeply entrenched into her forehead.

“Fine, we’ll check it out,” she said.

“Good girl.”

“You’re a pig, Milo.”

“I sent you the coordinates.” He was ignoring her insubordination. This left Annie wondering if he respected her for the ability to hold her own in a mostly male profession or if he ignored her on purpose because he lacked respect. In the end it didn’t really matter. They had a new job to do.

Ending the call and turning to Cham, she said, “We’re on. The FBI beat us to a crime scene.”

“Has that ever happened?” Cham casually tossed the crystal; it rolled several times before landing on the edge of the table.

As he stood, his knee crashed into the table apron, and the weakened leg buckled. The table collapsed, and Cham’s scrying crystal flew through the air, crashed against the wall, and split in two.

“I’ll fix that later,” he muttered.

***

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Annie thought of her location, and within seconds her body became weightless and detached from earth, drifting through space and landing on the edge of a wooden palette. Her arms flayed wildly, reached into the semi-darkness of the alley and caught a sleeve on a rusty metal dumpster. With a quick spell, she stopped falling and hung in midair over a pile of garbage.

“Need help?” Cham chuckled, unscathed by his own landing.

“No, I’m good.” With a flick of her wrist, Annie removed the spell and stood upright.

Damn, my favorite jacket. Annie tugged on the rip, which was long and deep enough to reveal her blue shirt sleeve. Waving a palm across the tear, she repaired the rip, leaving no visible mark.

“You need to see this,” Cham said.

Jumping over garbage and avoiding boxes of assorted junk, she peered around him. Hundreds of people mulled through the vicinity, investigating the scene, collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses or patrolling the area.

“Wow,” Cham responded. He seemed just as bewildered as Annie felt.

“Where do we even begin?”

Where do we begin? The sheer enormity of the scene left Annie with an overwhelming sense of dread. It outsized anything they had ever investigated in the magical world.

They were separated from the crime scene by an east-west thoroughfare, a well-travelled road at any time during the day. However, this morning, police cruisers cordoned off the road at both ends of the block while traffic barricades created a perimeter keeping the general public from interfering, though the patrol officer was keeping busy warning nosy outsiders away.

And rush hour’s in a few hours—will they be done? Thought Annie.

“I’m not sure how we’re gonna pass through the barrier. It’s pretty tight.” As an excuse to stave off growing unease, Annie fiddled with the lenses on her binoculars and scanned the crowd for the Vampire Attack Unit. Either they hid themselves well or they were waiting at Wizard Hall.

“Do you know what types of cases the FBI works? I mean, besides the federal cases?” Cham asked.

Annie lowered the binoculars. A police officer forcibly removed an observer from near the traffic barrier. The man, boisterous and drunk, was escorted to a police car and locked inside.

“As far as I understand it, they work national security, cyber crimes, civil rights, and public corruption–type cases. Not sure how this relates to their jurisdiction.”

“Personally, I think they’re on a stake-out, tailing someone at the bar, and it’s a coincidence.” Cham reached for the binoculars, tugging them from her tight grasp.

“Do you believe in coincidence?”

“Not usually, but you didn’t mention occult crimes. So why do you think they’re here?”

“Okay, fine. This time I’ll buy the coincidence theory. I know we would’ve gotten here before the Chicago police.”

“Annie. Look at that over there.” Several men and women with cameras and gloves snapped pictures and collected evidence. “The ones in the ERT shirts. They’re looking for evidence. And that guy all the way on the far end found something. I just . . . can’t make out what it is.”

When Annie smacked him for the binoculars, Cham pulled away from her, twisting to get a look at the object. The item, too small for a clear look, was bagged and taken away. “I don’t like it. They’re messing with our case,” Cham said, annoyed. He passed her the binoculars.

“You don’t have a choice.”

In the alley between the night club and the tire store, the medical examiner, a woman in her late forties wearing scrubs and boots, scribbled in a notebook while an FBI agent in khakis and ERT across the back of his shirt, snapped pictures of a body tossed carelessly in the garbage. “One body over there,” Annie said.

“A vampire victim?”

“Can’t see.”

A man in a suit with salt and pepper hair wrote copious notes while interviewing an animated witness who motioned wildly with his hands. Unable to read lips, Annie moved on to view a nearby woman framed in a business suit, hair in a tight bun, and slim kitten heels on petite feet.

Annie grimaced, thinking of her own outfit. It was neither polished nor clean, and her hair was still frizzy from preparing the potion earlier that night. Absently, she smoothed her hair to no effect and offered Cham the binoculars.

The first of the SUVs pulled away from the curb and headed east to the labs. Police escorted witnesses from the crime scene to their cars.

“The medical examiner!” Cham’s voice rose, nearly drawing the attention of the nearby crowd. If the street hadn’t been packed with noisy onlookers, they would’ve heard him call out.

Annie turned her attention to the medical examiner, who was unfurling a plastic blanket. It blew uncontrollably in a gust of wind. A cameraman ran over to help, placing the blanket over the victim. But the doctor noticed something requiring a second look and removed a long strand of brown hair, revealing an unobstructed view of the neck.

Annie smiled.

Now how do we get the bodies?

“Did you bring your badge?” Annie summoned her Chicago Police Department identification, glanced at the picture taken five years ago, when she started with the Wizard Guard at eighteen years old. She snapped it shut, placing it in her pocket.

“Really? You had to ask that?” His brows furrowed.

“Sorry. I’m wondering if we should track the bodies to the morgue and break in—not even engage now.”

Surprised, his face softened. “Are you scared?”

“Not scared . . . just apprehensive.”

Cham squeezed her shoulder before leaving. He headed east, following the perimeter of the crime scene. Once he disappeared into the shadows, Annie left the hiding spot and ducked under the crime scene tape. She entered to the west, avoiding a male agent who was still interviewing a witness, and pretended to search for evidence.

“Man, it was a big fight. The big guy looked mean and happy like all at the same time. Oh, and his teeth came out like this.” The witness wiggled two fingers, one on each side of his mouth.

“Do you know what they were fighting about? What did you see or hear?” The agent appeared bored or disinterested in the witness, shifting weight between feet while taking notes.

“All I know: the big dude with the teeth hit on the other guy’s girl. Tried really hard to get in her pants.” The witness grinned, exposing a large gap in his front teeth.

The vampire wanted to suck her dry, not have sex with her, Annie thought dryly and continued towards the medical examiner and the first victim.

The body, already loaded into the ambulance, parked halfway on the sidewalk. The back hatch stood open while the doctor read through her notes.

“Any thoughts on how the victim died?” Annie asked.

Startled by the intrusion, the woman jumped and frowned at Annie suspiciously. “Who are you?”

Annie produced her identification, which the medical examiner took and examined thoroughly, even comparing the picture to the real Annie before handing it back.

“It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” she finally said. “Look at this.”

They hopped in the back of the ambulance; the doctor donned a pair of gloves and unzipped the body bag, carefully exposing the victim’s neck.

“Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

They’re vampire tracks! Annie bit her tongue, but the thought screamed inside her head. The vampire’s canine teeth left two holes three inches apart. Raised and raw, drops of blood pooled around the edges. Through a gloved hand, Annie felt swollen wounds, red and raw, marking otherwise perfectly smooth skin.

“It’s weird, but it looks like a barbecue fork poked her.” Annie bit her tongue to keep from laughing, her thoughts jumping ahead to the autopsy.

The lack of blood will make this seem even weirder.

“How in the world did that get inside the bar?” the doctor asked as though it were even plausible. The medical examiner secured the victim inside the body bag.

“I guess that’s the question.”

“If there’s nothing else, I have another body to attend to.”

Annie loitered beside the ambulance, waiting until the medical examiner became entrenched in the crowd and grabbed the notes, which were clearly written in a doctor’s handwriting.

The observations scrawled haphazardly across the paper illustrated a disconnect between the evidence and a plausible explanation. The doctor’s guesses wound around in circles never becoming clear or correct which Annie didn’t blame on the doctor. She wouldn’t know. The preliminary comments revealed nothing to Annie except the estimated time of death. She expected nothing less. Suddenly, she heard hard-soled shoes clicking against the cement. Great. She was caught in the act.

“Excuse me. What are you doing?” a man asked. Annie’s adrenaline pumped; her heart beat in her ears. Dropping the folder, she turned to see the interviewer with salt-and-pepper hair and the dark suit.

“I’m just reviewing the medical examiner’s notes.” The suit looked at her dubiously and eyed her up and down, leaving Annie feeling exposed.

“Who are you? We didn’t ask for additional backup.”

Annie’s identification was still warm from her exchange with the medical examiner, but she pulled it out. He doesn’t believe me. She tapped her foot anxiously while the agent examined the picture encased in plastic.

“Okay, Detective Anne Elizabeth Pearce. Again, what are you doing here?”

“Annie, please. And now that you know my name, mind telling me yours?” Even though she made her smile warm and welcoming, it did little to unclench his square jaw. Even when speaking, his jaw appeared tight. It must hurt, she thought.

“Special Agent Jack Ramsey. Now tell me what you’re doing here.”

 I wish I could.

Instantly, Annie regretted her decision to enter the crime scene; she was no longer inconspicuous, making her vulnerable to her secret getting out.

“I believe we’re after the same murderer.”

The agent attempted to hide his surprise. “So who killed them?”

It’s a vampire, you moron! “It’s not that simple.”

“Either you know or you don’t. Either way you’re tampering with my evidence. I should arrest you.”

Annie had worked with the Chicago Police Department in the past and often used the connection to walk in and out of questionable crime scenes without being noticed as anything other than a police officer. Being threatened with arrest was a first.

“You won’t. Because I know what killed them. You and your team have no idea what you just walked into.”

“And you do? Why . . . what do you mean what killed them?”

His suspicion was growing, drawing his already deep frown deeper. He fondled the handle of his gun.

Annie tensed. If he pulls it out I’ll summon it from him. If . . . Annie clamped her fists in resolve as Special Agent Jack Ramsey confidently unlatched his holster. She reevaluated her situation. Getting into the morgue was her most important goal.

“Let me into the morgue at midnight, alone with the bodies, and I promise I’ll tell you everything.”

Dropping his hand from his gun, Jack laughed a hardy, almost hysterical laugh at her request. Finally, he controlled his outburst. “Why would I do that?”

“Because we’re tracking the same killer, but only I can find it.”

“Why don’t you just tell me who killed them?”

“Just get me into the morgue at midnight, and I’ll explain everything.”

***

Rebekah Stoner, television journalist from Channel 5 news, finished the FBI briefing and returned to her television crew that had set up their workspace in the permitted area across the street. They, like the other crews, were corralled a safe distance away from the crime scene and busied themselves reading email, texting, or checking their equipment.

With an hour to go, her excitement grew. This time, her story would be the lead and not a crappy one buried between weather and sports. Rebekah reached into a cooler for a can of pop and her morning dose of caffeine.

The morning events seemed nothing more than normal. That said, the intense exchange between the FBI agent and the police officer appeared odd; Rebekah wondered if anyone else noticed it. It intrigued her so much that she jumped up and followed the officer leaving the crime scene.

“Excuse me,” Rebekah called out. The officer faced her. Not overly made up, with frizzy hair and wearing T-shirt and jeans, the police woman was still lovely. A gust of wind blew toward them from the lake.

“Hi. Did you need something?”

“I’m Rebekah Stoner with Channel 5 News. I saw you working in the crime scene. Is there any new information we should know about?”

“Sorry. There’s nothing new.”

As the cop turned away, Rebekah grabbed her wrist. The officer glared at the journalist before pulling her arm away.

“Listen. I’m a detective. I make observations. There’s nothing new. Besides, it’s only been a few hours.”

“I saw you with the special agent. What did you argue about?”

“Ms. Stoner, you know I can’t answer that. It’s not my case. I’m sorry.” The cop walked confidently down the street and turned the corner.

Rebekah returned to her seat twenty minutes before her report. Adrenaline pumped as her team prepped her for the air, fixing her hair and lipstick, wiping the moisture from her eyes.

The final ambulance pulled away from the scene, and the traffic barricades were removed just in time for the start of rush hour traffic. “Ten minutes, Rebekah.”

To order The Day of First Sun

 

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Do you have a bucket list? Have you ever taken the time to write it down? Well Sheryl Steines has and writing her first novel, The Day of First Sun, was when she crossed off number seven. After that first foray into the recesses of vast creative mind, she couldn’t stop and works on her art daily. With a degree in English from Wright University, she finds herself to be an fixated editor and world builder. Paying special attention to details in her novels is just a small example of her passionate and driven nature. Sheryl lives in Deer Park, Illinois, with her husband and two children.

In her spare time, she enjoys character-driven novels of every genre, television shows, and spends all summer behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible.

Sheryl is all about connecting with readers and fellow authors and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog at sherylsteines.com

Oops I Did It Again…a Rewrite That Is

Oops I Did It Again…a Rewrite That Is

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use I was 7 years old when I read my first Nancy Drew book. There was something in that smart girl that resonated me and I wanted to read every adventure. But I didn’t just want to read the stories, I wanted to write them, create my own world, characters and adventures.

Life, it sometimes gets in the way. Infertility, a difficult pregnancy, the death of a child, threw me off of my course, the path I set for myself when I graduated college.

It took a wake up call, meeting a high school classmate, a published author to fuel my jealously, to snap the dream back to me. I finally wrote that book.

It took all of 6 weeks from start to finish, all 170 pages of it. It took at least 15 drafts two of which were self published. I hired marketing help.

I wasn’t ready. I didn’t understand how to edit, forget about using Twitter and Facebook effectively. Without holding up my end of the bargain, marketing, well it left me back to square one.

A horrible book release for book 2, left me constantly 5 minutes away from quitting. Paralyzed to move forward, which is where I’ve been for over 2 years as I try to figure out y life as a non writer. But I still come back to the desire to make it right, to finally live that dream.

I’ve been lucky because had I not gone down that road, I wouldn’t have met a collective group of great, smart women who have taught me some of what they know about marketing, writing and editing. And I would have learned nothing.

After careful thought, I re-wrote my first book again. I re-thought the entire series. Rather than selling books with flaws, I chose to improve the product. The premise was good but… I hope I fixed the but.

That is why I chose this major rewrite. I took a long look at the book and the series and pinpointed where I fell short. I took out chunks of the book, changed relationships and rewrote what turned out to be a majority of the book. Though the story is the same, it gets there in a different manner. One that I hope answers questions, feels complete, with characters that are worth reading about.

I often wonder why no one has said to me, you’re an awful writer you should quit. I’ve mostly experienced encouragement, just enough to ignore the bad reviews. Just enough to try again. Maybe this time I’m nearly 10 minutes away from quitting, and at least in the end I know I’ve tried.

I’m very proud of version 20 of The Day of First Sun and I look forward to it’s release. I can’t wait to share.

It’s been an emotional few years picking myself up and dusting myself off, but I did it. Sometimes it’s all we know what to do.

Pre-order The Day of First Sun, check out Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Biggest Lesson I learned is…Editing

The Biggest Lesson I learned is…Editing

I’ve learned a lot in the four years since I first wrote The Day of First Sun. I’ve made a lot of mistakes too. But as I put all that I’ve learned into practice, I find myself  finishing my final edit of that first book that I’ve completely re-written for the fourth time. The reason behind the re-writes stem from my early mistakes with editing. I say this because, when I first wrote the book, I never processed the story in between each edit. And without that time to process the book, the story and the characters, I never saw the book for what it could be only for what it was.

When I made the decision to re-write the book, it had been over a year since I had edited, read and touched that version of the book. It was that time that allowed me to see so much more of what the book could be and as I edited, I re-wrote. I took out the scenes that I knew made no sense, I strengthened sections that needed additional information and I added more than I thought I had in me because pieces of the book revealed themselves to me as though I was treasuring hunting and discovering a new treasure.

And it was a treasure. As the story opened up to me, I learned more about Annie and Cham, more about the murderer, the suspects and the victims. I changed locations, added tension and instead of wrapping the story up with a neat little bow, I let the story work itself out slowly and thoughtfully.

It’s the biggest lesson I learned from the last four years. Editing. Not that it’s crucial, because it is, but giving yourself time in between each edit to process the work you did and let it sink in before you begin the next edit. Before I would finish a draft and eight hours later begin my next one. It left little time to really think about the book.

It’s taken this months to edit this book, not days or weeks and I even took a break in the middle to rethink what I find to be a crucial character than the editor didn’t think was. I needed time to decide what I would do with the character, and when I was ready (when book two of the series draft one was completed), I began to clean up those final suggestions and thoughts the editor left me with. Tonight I inserted the changes to Annie’s newest nemesis, which I think are far stronger than what they were because I gave myself time to consider what I needed to do with them.

And now, I’m looking over the edge of the cliff. The one that represents the publishing of this edition of the book. I glance over the edge, no longer worried or scared that the book isn’t good enough. I did what I set out to do, I made it stronger, I gave it more to feel about, I made it better. I’m more excited than I have ever been over this book and I can’t wait to share.

Editing will always be the most important thing you can do for your book. A professional editor will not only make sure all your commas are correctly placed, but whoever they are they will make sure your story isn’t confusing, makes sense and it readable.

I thank my editor every day.

 

Aicha Kandida – The What Now?

Aicha Kandida – The What Now?

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You don’t have to battle a demon, vampire or monster for them to have a role within a story. Sometimes they appear for another reason, their purpose merely to prove a point like scaring a character into understanding the world they’ve just found themselves in. In The Day of First Sun I threw Annie into the world of the non magical, similar to what she’s dealt with before and yet different because she’s never worked so closely with the FBI. Making things worse for Annie, is the fact she has to investigate the crime with the eyes of the world watching. She understands the ramifications of keeping her secret from the world, but what about the FBI agent who drags her into the case. He’s never dealt with a magical crime before.

That’s where I bring in the magical creature. Curious, Jack Ramsey finds himself in The Snake Head Letters, the all wizarding book store in which the proprietor illegally sells him a Book of Shadows, the witch or wizard’s heirloom passed on from generation to generation, the book which details the experience of the witch throughout their lifetime. However, the unscrupulous shop keeper, sells a book about the darker side of magic, with fearsome creatures that open the FBI agent’s eyes to a world he never knew existed.

This is Jack’s true introduction into the entire magical world, exposing the worst that can be experienced and as he reads the book, he comes across the Aicha Kandida. I chose to introduce this being because in my basic research, it’s a creature that singles out lonely men and Jack is just that, single and lonely, working late into the night, not even remembering the last time he found himself in the company of a woman.

The monster was perfect. A predatory water demon who appears in the form of a beautiful young woman, killing their prey by luring men to their death. The curious victim seeing the beautiful woman by the water’s edge, the victim saunters over and once within reach, they are dragged into the water and consumed by the creature.

As Jack read the book searching for information pertaining to the mystical Orb of Eridu, he became engrossed by the animated picture of the beautiful woman and horrified when it changed into its true form, murdering the victim in front of him. I didn’t need to bring the monster to life, it was simply an entry in The Book of Shadows, one little glimpse into the magical world and yet it shakes Jack to the core and he’s forever changed by the experience.

Maybe one day I’ll bring the demon to life, but only for a larger purpose. For now it will remain a distant, disturbing memory, reminding Jack to why he must keep their secret. Who would believe him anyway?

What’s your most creepy monsters? Vampires, werewolves, ghosts? Mine is the Weeping Angels. Whovians know what I mean.

 

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