Wednesday 16 October 2019

#WEP/IWSG October challenge - #FlashFiction - Meet my Renaissance hero, Duke Vipunin de Castellina.

Hello friends!

It's time for the October Write...Edit...Publish challenge. This is always our most exciting month where we delve deep into horror ... or we don't. 

Part of the blurb for this challenge is:

Write a ghost story, or a mainstream one. Most of our members go with horror or speculative for October. But that's not written in stone. Nothing rigid about us - we are a culturally diverse mix and we welcome all interpretations of writing prompts.

This is the perfect month to introduce my Renaissance-era vampire, Duke Vipunin de Castellina. I've written a 'reader magnet' to gift people when they sign up for my email list on my new website (not yet operational). From this short story, I harvested 2,000 words, then painstakingly edited it down to 1,087 words.

I don't yet have my pen name website up and running, but here is a sneak peek:

 What do you think? It takes a village and all that, so grateful thanks to my buddy Lynda Young for her fancy work on my pen name, 'Silver Tree'. and Wallpaper Access for the medieval battle image. Thanks to my husband Geo for his dab hand at Photoshop to pull it all together.

And more excitement! When this post goes live today, I'll be in Castellina, Tuscany, spending the day checking out the ruins of the castle and the subterranean tunnels which run underneath and feature in Book One. 

So ... ta da ... Meet the Renaissance hero of my Paranormal Romance, Duke Vipunin de Castellina. 

For this WEP challenge, I’ve reworked the end of Book One of my  four-book (so far) soon-to-be-published vampire series. 

It’s Duke Vipunin’s 30th birthday. He’s left behind his life in Florence as an advisor to Cosimo 11 de’ Medici to take up his inheritance at Castello de Castellina, the family home in Tuscany.

Tonight’s the celebration of the grape harvest on his lands, but tonight more than grapes will be harvested. A vampire queen, Alliyra, has lied her way through his gates and into his parlor.

For those who shudder at vampire stories, or violence, I hope you’ll read as much as you can. In this scene, Vipunin fights for his human life.

Harvesting His Soul

Castello de Castellina, Chianti, Tuscany, 1610.

ALLIYRA placed her hands upon Vipunin’s head. Looking into his eyes, she snapped her fingers, breaking the spell that had held him in thrall. Come, Duke, drink in the night.’ She walked toward the window, gesturing for him to follow.

He felt powerless to do anything but obey.

Her eyes glinted. ‘Duke Vipunin de Castellina.’ She pointed outside. ‘See the darkness beyond your walled garden – the burial ground, the forest, the all-knowing moon? That is where you belong. A night creature.’ 

He jumped backward to avoid the power of her gaze and stood, legs apart, hand on sword. How dare you. Beyond the wall was sacrosanct; the cemetery where his parents and grandparents lay. All who’d lived and died at Castello de Castellina were eternally bound with the rich soil. One day he would join them.

Not today.

Ripping his sword from its scabbard, he was comforted by its ting-shink-ting-shink. ‘I belong here.’ He clutched his weapon in both hands, rotating the hilt.  

She locked the windows, jerked the curtains closed and turned to him. ‘I will have you,’ she rumbled. ‘Tonight you celebrate your grape harvest. I celebrate harvesting you. Put away your sword.’   

He stepped backward and tightened his grip. ‘I’m no creature of the night.’ Gesu’, give me strength to kill this creature.  

She tisked. ‘Kill me? Your knightly arts are useless against my powers.’ With a movement that tricked his eye, she kicked his sword. It arced across the room and speared the door where it shuddered, hilt and pommel trembling.   

‘No!’ He spun to retrieve his weapon. Once again, his feet stuck to the floor. Gesu', she’s mesmerized me again.

She clicked her fingers to release the spell. ‘Come. I will show you something.’  

He reached her side in time to see her hold out an emerald necklet, his face visible in the facets. What trickery is this?

As the stone began to vibrate, Alliyra nodded, replaced the emerald down the front of her gown. ‘The spell was cast many years hence. I chose you as my new companion the night your brother Abelli brought you to me as tribute when you were a boy. I refused you then, but I take possession … tonight.’

‘No!’ He shoved her away, fighting the spell. Slipping his dagger from his boot, he stood, legs apart, body forward. ‘I remember you drank from me that night.’ He panted, tightening his grip on the knife. With his other hand, he felt the two raised marks on his neck. ‘You branded me.’

‘I did. You tasted divine.’

‘Help me, Celso!’ His manservant should be outside the parlor door by now. He slashed at Alliyra with his dagger. Abelli couldn’t inherit while Vipunin lived, so he’d arranged his death. If Vipunin died, everything would belong to his half brother. 

‘Ah, Duke.’ Alliyra’s voice poured over him like sickly sweet wine. ‘Celso has been called away to attend some crisis at your gate. Perhaps a dead gatekeeper.’ She tutted. Maneuvering with lightning speed, she grabbed both his arms in an iron grip. ‘Isn’t this cozy?’ She squeezed his hand until the dagger fell from his nerveless fingers.

As a knight, without weapons, what did he have? She’d killed Beppe, his faithful Captain of the Guard and the de' Medici knights who guarded his gate. ‘Witch! Leave me!’  

‘I’m not one of your subjects. You … obey … me. Her eyes blazed red. Silver specks swirled around the edges.  

His heart rammed against his ribs. The evil he’d read about in his grandfather’s library had been given life. ‘Filth.’ He balled his fists, punched at her face, but she stood unmoved, smiling when he yelled, ‘Revenant. Demon. Vampire.’

Alliyra cackled. ‘You’re dead.’ Her clawed hands rose into the air, hovering near his face.

He took jerky steps backward across the room. He could make the door … grab his sword … run her through.

A blur. She had him. 'Uhuhuheh,' she growled.

He squirmed in her grasp. ‘Holy Gesu’, protect your servant.’

She clawed his face and warm blood oozed down his face. ‘There … is … no … god … to … protect … you ….’ She licked him. Rivulets of blood dripped down her chin, bathing her white neck. ‘We are a pretty pair, are we not, Duke?’   

He kicked, he writhed, revolted by the transformation of beauty into hideous specter. ‘Get out of my life.’  

‘But your brother wants your life, dear-ling. He wants your titles. He wants your castle. He wants your land. But most of all, he wants you dead.’

Driven by jealousy, Abelli had tried everything over the years to kill Vipunin. He must not succeed. The title was his.

‘You will no longer care for titles, dear-ling. Your worldly life will be cast aside – your betrothed Ciassia will wed your brother and his progeny will inherit. Soon you will care for nothing, nothing but the sharp claws of blood hunger tearing at your insides. And you will care most of all for me, your maker.’   

‘God is my Maker!’ The door is so close. Salvation is so close. Hot blood seethed through his veins at the specter of his brother taking his beloved Ciassia from him.

Alliyra's beautiful, inhuman face with its mad, night-dark eyes loomed over him. ‘I am your maker. I choose whether you live or die. Forever and ever. Amen.’  

‘Never!’ Reaching behind, he felt the heft of his sword. A little farther and he would grab it, behead her.  

She slammed him against the wall. ‘Huhhuhsss,’ she hissed.

His sword was but a hair’s breadth from his face.

She held him upright with one arm and wrapped the other behind his back, pulling him close. Merveilleux,’ she gasped. ‘You are mine.’ With her free hand, she tore at his cloak, ripped his doublet, his shirt, then licked his neck with her dagger-like tongue.

He kicked at her knees with every shred of strength, but she pressed her body against his, imprisoning him. ‘Get away,’ he groaned, his voice hoarse with the terror that pulsed through him. 

Her fangs scratched his skin. Her claw-hand vibrated at the back of his head with some dreadful, alien power. ‘Together, Duke de Castellina. You and I. For eternity.’ She plunged into his flesh, the pain as excruciating as when she branded him those many years ago.

Loud crashing outside his door. His name called over and over. 'Vipunin ....'

Too late Celso.

I'm a dead man.

WORDS: 1084 - I tried so hard to get it below this ... :-(


Thanks for reading. I'd love constructive criticism. Depending on where my travels take me, I may be a little slow in replying, but reply I will.

Go HERE to read more entries.

The WEP/IWSG challenge prompt for December was dreamed up by Tyrean Martenson: 

And here is the challenge list for 2020. Start thinking.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

#IWSG post - Should writers read - duh - here's what I think...

Hiya friends!

Another month is here! October is a special month for me. It's my birthday (I share it with John Lennon - just Imagine that!) And mid October I set off on another overseas jaunt - Italy and France again. Just can't get enough. But of course it's a working holiday - I'm checking locations for several books.

Now let's get into the October IWSG post. Alex J Cavanaugh would have trouble reading your posts except each month he gathers a great team of helpers around him.  Please visit these wonderful people if time permits.

This month:

Alex's awesome co-hosts are Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

So, the October 2 question - 

It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. 

On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

The October 2 question is something I feel strongly about. When an author boasts that they never read, I hate it. I've seen some elite blogger/authors stating this like it's a badge of honour. My first thought is, well, if everyone felt like you, who'd buy your books?

Even big time authors like Stephen King advise writers to - read, read, read.

I'm a lifetime reader. When I attend writing retreats I'm told I have a natural feel for cadence - rhythm in my sentences. That must be because I read, read, read.

So a writer who doesn't read has ideas that are new and original? Well how do they know? It's said that there are only 7 stories in the world. If you never read ... ??? look I just get too upset thinking about the misplaced egos behind this whole idea of not reading.

My advice - buy and read other hard-working authors' works. Learn from them. Applaud their efforts. It's probably taken a year or more from their life, but they won't complain. To most of us, writing is a joy, but so is selling the fruit of our labour.

Good luck with your reading and writing.

Here's an original photo I took on a trip to Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. Now this is a book I loved reading. What spunk that young girl had. I would have been poorer for not having read her diary. And that's the case with reading most books. We always learn something.

I thank Alex for the opportunity to guest post at the IWSG site this month. If you like the idea of writing to prompts and haven't come by, here's the link. I'd love to keep the discussion going.

If you have never written to prompts and want to try as some commenters at the IWSG post have said, how about trying the October WEP challenge? It's our horror month, but you don't have to write horror. Go HERE for ideas. October 1st is the opening post for the month where you'll learn about the mystery prize. Submissions begin on October 16 for 3 days. Don't miss out.

Thanks for coming by and reading my post. Go HERE to read more IWSG posts.