Friday, August 15, 2014

No Surrender

I'm baaaack!

We went on a short trip out to New Mexico, having wanted to go back there one day. My husband and I hadn't taken a trip where we'd gotten out of Illinois in a while--especially out west, so we debated on the fact we couldn't really afford it. But then again, you need to get away from everything for several days. We decided to go, screw it.

We stayed in Taos again. Same place called Witten Inn. Cheaper than the others, I'm sure. And we took a walk up town to the Plaza where we had nice memories of having a delightful lunch, back in 2010.

We ordered beer, and then a beef taco sort of thing. There's a saying "you can't go back". What that means is you might go back, but you can't repeat those same experiences. We know this, but it was hopeful we'd at least get a good meal in this one place, since it was pretty good the last time.

Not so much. the meat was dried out, and in chunks. It basically ruined our experience there and we won't go back.
Us on balcony having lunch in Taos 2010 
We didn't let it detur our enjoyment of the late afternoon. We went to different shops in the Plaza
shops in plaza, Taos, NM
It wasn't as busy this day as it was the first time we'd been here. But plenty to see, and if you have money, a lot to buy. Saw one woman carrying around a large Indian drum, and her husband, in a motorized chair, buzzing along side her. I thought that maybe those things could use a little carrying cart when shopping.

Anyway, the walk back to the motel did my knees in. But the traffic was worse than we remembered. I don't know what it is, but everywhere we went (except for the back roads down through Nebraska into Kansas) were busy.

The next day we wanted to take a drive. I wish I could download the pictures from our phone to let you see, but I can't. Anyway, the best place to have lunch turned out to be a place in Red Rock, which is a skiing community. Lots of hotel choices here, and plenty of shops and lots of parking. They had little cars that weren't much bigger than go-carts, to rent if you had $30 burning a hole in your pocket and drive for a half an hour.

After lunch, we went on our way--the big loop that took us past "Ghost Ranch". Now, if you've never heard of Georgia O'Keef, you might want to check her out. She pretty much put New Mexico on the map. I think it's one reason why artists flock here. That, and the views are fabulous! I got this pic from Wikipedia...
As you can see, an artist would love to paint in such a place. We didn't go into the ranch, but stopped at a road side area to take it all in. Next time, we hope to have much more time to explore more of New Mexico. It's dry, and in the north, because of the altitude, it doesn't get quite as hot as the southern part of the state.

We hated to leave, but our last stay was in Las Vegas (no, not that Las Vegas), New Mexico. It became a town way before the more famous one in Nevada did. We tried two motels, when we arrived on the outskirts of town. The first one they seemed to be too busy to even say they'd be with us in a minute. My husband has no patients, but maybe that was good in this instance. We left and tried the next one. There was a guy pressure washing the drive up area. When we walked in, someone was painting, and the woman who was checking in someone held a paint brush in one had.

At this point, Dennis had looked across the road and saw an Motel 8, saw the flowers and thought "that looks like a happy place". So, we drove over there. At once we were greeted with smiling faces. While we checked in we were told there not only was a breakfast, but also there would be a hot soup and salad tonight. Yes. Free. And the guy who was just coming off his shift offered to help us carry up our ice chest. Wow! The soup was very good. The breakfast--we had poached eggs!--and we made friends with a middle-aged couple who were going south to visit a daughter. We visited at length with them. They'd been all over like we had. I got to drop the fact that I was a writer. I managed to give them one of my cards, and the woman said her daughter liked anything with vampires. Go figure.

While traveling, you never know where you'll be able to find a good place to eat. (We don't like McDonald's--you will have to shoot me if I eat there again, because we did have to eat there one night, and chose something we thought wouldn't kill us--chicken (?really?) McNuggets and fries. OMYGOD! My gut hurt for hours that night! Never ever will I eat or drink anything from that place again!) So, when we got to North Platte Nebraska, we had a hankering for chicken. I kept saying "No, I want to go to Whiskey Creek. Dennis tried to get to the Kentucky Fried Chicken place, down town, but there was construction. Somehow I think it was meant to be. We like Whiskey Creek where they put the meat over open pit fires. We settled on a small lunch chicken grilled salad. I say small... I really couldn't eat it all. There was a "large" dinner one. I'd hate to see how big that was.

We got under way again. Oh, I forgot to mention we had to drive through "The Springs" (Colorado Springs area). My husband did so, white knuckled, but did a superb job. I don't recommend driving on I 24 through the springs, unless you have nerves of steel. I had to close my eyes a few times and I was a passenger! We were also driving ahead of a boiling black cloud that was surely going to get us. We made it out of the Springs intact. Some how. That black cloud trying to gain on us. We took a road--I don't remember which one--east, and by this time it was going on one o'clock. We needed lunch. Dennis remembered that somewhere along this back road was a place where we'd stopped back years ago. I didn't remember it. But we found a Walmart. Lo and Behold! A Subway! We got the usual flat bread meal, ate and by the time we got out, it had begun to rain. We got into the truck and drove east again, and then the rain came down. Big huge drops. We worried that it might hail, but it didn't, luckily enough.

The way home was less than exciting. It always is. We hate driving home. Wish we could just twitch our noses and just be home. The other bad point about driving any more, is the gas pumps. No. The price of gas was much better the further we got away from Chicago and ILLinois. It's the "pay at the pump" thing. If you've never done this, it works like this. Either you pay with a credit card at the pump, or you have to go in and magically guess how much gas you need. Right. Like a person know exactly how many gallons you need. Once Dennis tried to pay at the pump with the card, but it didn't work. So, he had to go in. After getting gas--when the frigging thing finally works--you go back in, and get your card, or if you didn't quite get the amount you guess, you have to get reimbursed. It's such a haste. By Iowa, Dennis had road rage which I'd never seen in him before. I really thought I'd have to abandon ship.

But we made it. This week and next are my last weeks off. And this week is nearly gone. I've been busy all summer working on gardening projects, my writing, and, in the afternoon, I crocheted. I've finished two afghans, and have another one going, and a few others I'm experimenting with. I'd like to make a fall one, now.

This month is my birthday (27th), and it's the big six-OH! I've been doing pretty good on my Atkins diet. I only gained back one pound on the trip because I had a salad whenever I could, and breakfast is a no-brainer if you you can get eggs, and meat.

As a sort of celebration, my first two ebooks are $0.99 for the whole month. I've noticed that I'd made a couple of sales this week since coming back, and I wondered if my giving out my card to a few people didn't contribute. I gave a card to the waitress at Whiskey Creek, and she said she was a fan of vampires too. So, you never know. It's a good thing to have a business card to give to people, or post somewhere.

So, Vampire Ascending and Vampire's Trill are BOTH on sale now through the 31st. So, if you've wanted to check out these ebooks, now is the time!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Don't Tick Off The Author...

This is a bit too polite for me. But you get the drift.

It's funny, but people don't know you're a writer, and you can go and create a character from someone you dislike, or someone who has angered, or annoyed you, and do whatever the hell you want with them. They'll never know they have a small roll in your book.
I know we've all done this. I don't know if I've ever actually put any one person into a character, but usually I've rolled a few people up, and created someone. I'm not sure who Penelope (Nephilim), was before I created her. She dies brilliantly in Vampire Nocturne. I'm not certain who Alucard (vampire), was--but possibly any rotten man who dared to piss me off. Huh. Drakulya kills him in the end of same book. So, I think mostly I roll up everyone who have annoyed the crap out of me, into one or two characters, and do away with them.

My WIP is coming along. This morning I've gotten to page 180. One thing to note, you don't want your readers to become bored when your MC is off doing something dull. I knew that Sabrina's visit to a dry goods store in the town of Patchwork Junction, something needed to happen. The men who come in are drunk and make a bee line to her. But I couldn't have a very long confrontation. I needed Sabrina to get out of the jam quickly and be on her journey. At this point, I was in about the center of the book. I needed to keep things happening. So, in stead of her having to endure their pawing her, she has a gun. Points it... Well, here is the scene from "Six Shades of Hell". Quickly, Virdin is the store owner who she met on the train, and Gilbert is his son.

I shrugged and strapped on the gun belt and adjusted it. It was like when I had put on my dagger's sheath, only much heavier and bulkier. I had to put my dagger on my left side, so that the gun was at my right, since I was right handed. On second thought, I'd probably put the dagger away. I didn't really need the dagger where I was going. At least not right away.
Virdin counted out the amount of bills I needed to pay him for all the things. “This should do it. Five crowns.”
Yer sure you kin handle that thar hogleg?” the old-timer asked.
I finished tying the leg thong around my thigh and with the aplomb of a gunfighter, I pulled the gun out twirled it on my finger—much heavier than a toy gun, believe me—and slid it back into place. I turned and collected my change from the counter. I knew from the cowboy's loud laughter I had impressed him because he laughed so wide I could count the remaining teeth in his head—about six.
A noisy couple of men came through the door, making rowdy sounds and one of them kicked over a bunch of shovels, which went crashing to the floor. A woman nearby darted away, her eyes big. She held a number of packages, and stood like a deer frozen in gunsights.
Uh-oh,” Gilbert said. “Not these guys again.”
Why?” Virdin said. “Who are they?”
Trouble. They're the Brayton brothers. That's all I know about them, except that when they get drunk all they want to do is tear up the town,” Gilbert said.
One of the brothers looked at the lady, and with one hand threw all her parcels up, out of her hands and they went flying everywhere. With a screech, the woman darted around them and out the door. The brothers laughed, thinking it was funny.
Go get the marshal, Gilbert,” Virdin said. Gilbert nodded, and ducked through a back doorway—where they kept extra supplies. Oddly enough, I didn't see where the old-timer had gone, but he had cleared out like a cock roach when the lights go on.
The Braytons turned our way. Upon seeing me, they stopped. One brother knuckled the other in the chest casually.
Hey, lookie thar. It's one of them girl-men.” They laughed.
How kin ya tell?” Said the larger, heavier one. They both looked like they hadn't had a bath since they were twelve, and that age had long since gone by. It was hard to tell, just by looking at them how old they were, but they were old enough. A quick read of these Bozos told me they were in her to make a ruckus, and break things. Finding me was like a cat finding a cornered mouse. Well, I had news for them. I had to stop things before they got started because they were bit, strong, and dumb as rocks. And, they hadn't had a woman in a long, long time.
They stepped toward me, still chuckling like goofs, leering at me, and nudging one another, egging each other on. It wouldn't take much, and if they crossed the store too me, no one was going to stop them. Not even Virdin.
My gun cleared leather and I pointed at them. This gave them pause and their mouths hung open. Then, they laughed stupidly.
Awww, she's gonna shoot us,,” the bigger one said. They laughed.
Look, gentlemen,” Virdin said. “We don't want no trouble, here.”
Trouble? Who says we gonna make trouble?” one said.
Yeah, we just wanna talk to the lady, here,” the other said.
Okay, these guys were getting annoying. I wasn't going to shoot them, but I had to find a way to stop them in their tracks. My gaze went above their heads. The ceiling was tall, and above was a wagon wheel with four lanterns arranged around it for light. A rope held it aloft, tied to a wall brace, and hung down, and was used to lower the make-shift chandelier in order to light it. Presently they were not lit, as it was daylight out. The rope was about two fingers thick. A steady hand and good aim, I knew I could cut it.
The two had taken another step and were directly under the lights/wagon wheel. I shot the rope holding it up. The wheel came crashing down on them. They went down, stunned. One was out on his back.
Virdin's gasp of surprise made me turn. I reached into my pocket, pulled out another bill, and handed it to him. “For the damages,” I said.
Oh, no. You needn't pay for these two—”
No,” I said, collecting my purchases. “They don't have any money, and they were going to do a hell of a lot worse, if they got a chance.” I had the riffle, amo box, and a few other things in my arms. “I need to clear out of here before the marshal comes.”
Go the back way, through the alley,” he said.
I went behind the counter, and ducked through the doorway his son had taken.
Thank you, Virdin,” I said, pausing to glance back over my shoulder at him.
If you need anything, Sabrina—anything—wire me,” he called to me.

I nodded, feeling the bite of tears at the corners of my eyes, and had to turn and move away. He'd been a great friend to me.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July Updates

This week has gone by slowly. I've slowed down time, actually. I'm not sure how I've done this, but it might have something to do with my not having to go into work, and I get a lot done in one day. I'm certainly not sitting and relaxing much.

Hope everyone had a good July 4th celebration, or whatever you do. We stay home. We don't like crowds, and it's very quiet here, and we grilled a couple of steaks. Been a while since we've done that with the cost of such things, but once in a while we treat ourselves. Besides, my husband's birthday is on Monday. He's told me he's turning 50 (again). I said if he was turning fifty again, then I should too.

I do feel MUCH better this summer than I did last. I was struggling with my weight, up until I began the Atkins diet. I've now lost 17 pounds! And I'm within 11 pounds of my goal weight (125). I have so much energy it's alarming. In fact, yesterday I worked on digging up a flower bed, moving large rocks and flagstone around--I began this around 7-ish in the morning, took a 45 minute break for lunch, and was back at it for another two hours. I built my little waterfall with the large flagstone, but that was as far as I got in getting this area ready. I later will put down brick for a walk way. I've wanted to do this for a long, long time. There used to be old railroad ties in the area where I've worked, and we pulled these rotting ties out, back in the spring. Now, this is my project, and I'm doing this by myself. The only thing my husband did was haul away the dirt in the mini cart hooked to the large mower he uses out at the park. Later that night I still had energy to cut up a chicken and fry it for Dennis' birthday meal (he doesn't know if he's going to take the 7th off or not--gets behind in the mowing out there in the park).

My raspberries have come on strong. One day this week I sprayed myself down with repellent, and went out and picked what might have been two quarts. Yum!

I've watched all the Harry Potter movies first to last. Now, I really need to work on my book. My beta reader, Jennifer Weydert now has a different job, and it's at the university. She's been able to find a little time to work on my 5th book. Hopefully, she'll continue to be able to find the time. But she claims that she loves this series, and can't really put it down.

As for the fourth book, Vampire Caprice, is now on Smashwords, if anyone is interested. Since my publisher quit the business, I've gone Indie, and I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the money to put out a soft-bound book for this. If I could, believe me, I'd do a hell of a lot better job than was done with that third one. I was actually happy that he quit, since he didn't give my third book his complete attention. My suspicion was that he was too busy publishing and promoting his own book. So, this was why he was so quick to allow me to use the book covers for all three books--he felt guilty.

Anyway, I'm working on the 8th book, working on the plot. I know when not to write much down into the main document, because I don't have a good grasp of the plot. I've had a few revelations, however--and have the plot twist--but I need the meat of it, and what sort of clues to drop and how. This is going to be a sort of Western, but it will still have fantasy elements. Maybe it's a little bit of Harry Potter, too, since I use a train ride in this from one place to another in Drakulya's realm. Oh, and she is back on Black Veil to help find Princess Aljhambra, who has been abducted by one of Drakulya's off-spring, Hawk--who HATES vampires. She's told they've threatened to kill her if Drakulya doesn't comply with their wishes. Which is to stop invading a neighboring country and taking humans. But Joha, Drakula's son, claims he is not doing this!

So, at the end of my first week off, I've got a pretty good start of getting things that need doing done. The outdoor work will get done, but I need a day off in between. I'll be posting once in a while in here, and when I can, checking out what everyone else is doing out there. In the meantime, I hope you're all fine and don't mind me while I'm in my writing cave.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sabrina Strong Interviews Lorelei Bell (me)

Fourth book in series
Today, m'dears I'm doing something different. I've turned the blog over to Sabrina Strong. She wanted to interview me. Ask the writer the questions. So, I agreed. After all, who better to do it than her, since she lives inside my head almost 24/7.

SABRINA: Okay, this is just something I've wanted to ask  you like, forever. Why didn't you make me a kick-ass avenging bitch?

LORELEI: Good question, Sabrina. And I like that you come right off the starting gate with a very good question like that.
First of all, I've never been able to relate to a kick-ass bitch. Okay? I mean, I don't like women that seem angry all the time in real life. I see enough women walking around with angry frowns on their faces, and you don't dare want to say the wrong thing to them.
But also, when I began writing the very first book, Vampire Ascending, I was seeing a lot  of those types of books where the woman becomes a vampire and goes out and avenges whatever happened to her. I didn't want that sort of book.
I also wanted to have a character that more females could relate to. Someone who was real to them. You were never going to be "turned", Sabrina. I couldn't do that to you. But you had to toughen up when faced with the vampires. Especially Bjorn Tremayne.
First book in series

SABRINA: Yeah. [she blushes] Okay, I can get behind that pretty much. So, why vampires? Why not just make me someone who falls in love with someone and then, I don't know, have some earth-shattering devastation befall me. Like, I don't know, get cancer, or something?

LORELEI: I've had an interest in vampires since I was a teenager. I always wanted to write vampire fiction. That's the reason. But I didn't want to do the cookie-cutter type of book where she falls in love with the vampire. That's always a bad idea for the human. But I like writing fantasy. It doesn't make you stick to any sort of rigid formula. I can pretty much do whatever the heck I want.

SABRINA: So, when you sent me into other worlds, like in Vampire's Trill and Vampire Nocturne, that's what you mean by having some freedom in writing?


SABRINA: I didn't like Dark World so much.

LORELEI: You weren't supposed to.

SABRINA: Why can't I remember the incubus from Dark World? I have trouble even remembering his name.

LORELEI: Must be something in your subconscious.

SABRINA: But this is your subconscious.

LORELEI: [smiles]. And I'm the writer, and I can do whatever the hell I want with you, m'dear.

SABRINA: Well, shit. Okay, never mind that. Why was it you killed off Dante in the second book? I mean we really were in love with each other. But it pissed me off he didn't tell me!!! What's up with all that, anyway?

Second Book in series
LORELEI: Just needed a nice cliff-hanger for people to want to read the next book.

SABRINA: (Swears--WTF?) That's really wicked of you.

LORELEI:  I know. (wiggles eyebrows) That's how I wanted it. But hey, Dante has come back to you in Vampire Nocturne, and in Vampire Caprice.
Third Book in series

SABRINA: I know. I know. But what the hell? He's now an Undead!

LORELEI: And he is your strongest ally. You'll see. He can go places and see things you can't. He will be with you throughout. Fair enough?"

SABRINA: Oh, I guess. (pouts). Okay. Why didn't you put me with one guy or another? Why do I get to be with the different guys. Like now I'm with Vasyl--um, sort of. I'm married to him. He's a vampire.

LORELEI: Vasyl is also a strong ally, and he's your vampire protector.

SABRINA: You put him through shit in number four.

LORELEI: I put everyone thought shit in Vampire Caprice.

SABRINA: True. Plus, I'm having more sex in this one. I'm not complaining. But Wow. Tremayne. Really? I'm surprised I lived through that!

LORELEI: Yeah. That took me a while to come up with a way he could have you and not drain you completely.

SABRINA: Wasn't talking about that part, but never mind. Okay, something that I'm confused about. Why do you call your books "Urban Fantasy" and not "Paranormal Romance"?

LORELEI: Good question, glad you asked. I, myself, didn't know what the difference was a number of years ago, until I began reading a few titles by certain authors. Urban fantasy is more gritty. There doesn't have to be any romance in it, but there can be. There doesn't have to be sex in it either. But there has to be fantasy, and lots of different paranormal creatures within the book. I don't just slap a few vampires and werewolves in there. I've place Rick in there, who is a leprechaun, basically for comic relief. He's one of those colorful characters that people like in a story. Even if he only appears on a few pages. I like to bring him into the story where he can add a little color to it.

SABRINA: Rick is in Caprice  a lot.

LORELEI: Yeah. I needed his input in this. I wanted the relationship between you and him to be strained a bit by mid-way in the story.

SABRINA: Boy. Is it! So, what is Paranormal Romance, then, getting back to the original question?

LORELEI: Right. Basically, it's a romance where they've simply placed paranormal characters (vampires, werewolves, etc.) into the story in place of the guy and gal who are obviously going to get together in the end. You know they are, because they either hate each other at the beginning, or don't trust one another. It's really simple, and I get bored with the whole plot for it. I never let you know who you'll be with in any book, or who you might wind up with at the end.

SABRINA: Like in Vampire Nocturne. I really couldn't help myself with Jett, there. (Squinches face) I like to say that the werewolf that came out in me made me do it, but...

LORELEI: Riiiiight.

SABRINA: It would seem that these books are sort of like stories about my adventures, and how I solve a mystery during the course of the book.

LORELEI: Yes. There's always some sort of mystery to solve. Sometimes its a murder mystery, but not always.

SABRINA: So, how many do you have planed? Which book are you writing now?

LORELEI: I'm actually writing number 8. I've got a beta reader working on the next book (#5), Vampire Crescendo.

SABRINA: Any chance to get an idea of what that one is going to be about. I can hardly wait... Oh, well, I'm in them, aren't I?

LORELEI: Yes. You are. You will be butting heads against Nicolas and then Ilona in Vampire Crescendo.

SABRINA: Oh, crap. Do I take care of that bitch? Finally?

LORELEI: (silence)

SABRINA; Okay, I get it. we don't want to give too much away too soon.

LORELEI: Also, you are to save Tremayne from silver poisoning from your dagger in this next one.

SABRINA:  Oh, crap, that's right! He's dying from the dagger's silver that--oops. Am I supposed to say this? That's sort of a spoiler, if I say, isn't it?

LORELEI: A bit of a tease, actually, since we aren't really saying what happened in #4, here. Tremayne gets stabbed in the heart by Dagger of Delphi. It doesn't look good for him and that's my cliff-hanger for that story. (smiles)

SABRINA: Well, I can certainly see how you've worked on these books. Number eight? Already? What happens? Where do I go in this one? I went to Colorado in Vampire Caprice.

LORELEI: You go back to Black Veil in the eighth one.

SABRINA: Really? Do I see Jett again?

LORELEI: Nope. And I want you and the readers to be surprised with what happens. But--hint--it's my western book.

SABRINA: (Scrunching up her face again) Really? A western? On Black Veil?

LORELEI: Why not? Remember. I can do just about anything in writing fantasy.

SABRINA: Wait. I'm the clairvoyant here. I'm seeing something... (closes eyes). Ooo, he looks interesting. Who is he?

LORELEI: Not telling. Interview is over.