Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book II: Elena is out!

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book II: ElenaBUY: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. She seeks refuge at the nearby monastery, where she meets Stjepan, a Serbian monk familiar with creatures that stalk the night. Elena longs to return to her farm, but piecing her life back together may be impossible. Stjepan draws her into a dark conspiracy involving an ancient brotherhood, and as war looms, a stranger named Lek appears, threatening to overturn everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1999: Since surviving the showdown between the vampire Yasamin and the terrorist group Süleyman’s Blade, Adam Mire has lived in hiding, posing as an unassuming Czech librarian. His life is upended again, however, when a new threat arises—one intent on using Dracula’s legacy to unleash another wave of violence across the already war-ravaged nation.

Meanwhile, Clara MacIntosh, the love Adam left behind, has come to Eastern Europe to find him. While tracking him down, she becomes entangled in a string of grisly murders—deaths Adam is investigating as well. As they both follow clues literally written in blood, time runs short to unmask the killer before history comes full-circle and chaos engulfs the region again.

5 Vampire Novels That Don’t Sparkle

The vampire, perennial monster, has received somewhat of a makeover in recent years. For almost two decades it has become romantic hero and seducer, often aimed at younger consumers. Twilight as well as the Vampire Diaries series may be the most obvious exponents of this trend, but the seeds were already planted in shows like Buffy (remember Angel?), and the territory continues to be watered with numerous vampire men in the urban fantasy or romance section of the bookstore, who must invariably profess eternal love to a nubile woman.

Courtesy of Tor.com.

Traveling Through Transylvania With ‘Dracula’ as a Guide

Nighttime in Transylvania is as atmospherically spooky as you would hope it would be. During the winter, a thick, low-lying mist covers thick forests of pine trees and firs. Above the fog, you can see the silhouetted turrets and spires of ancient castles and fortified churches. Many of the old homes there still burn wood fires, adding to the smoky air, while the towns are filled with gothic and baroque buildings that were once beautiful, but are now marked by peeling paint and crumbling facades.

Courtesy of Atlas Obscura.

Look for the Magic: a #HoldOntoTheLight Post

#HoldOntoTheLight

You’ve never been suicidal. You’ve never wanted to cut yourself or even felt the urge to do it. You’ve never been on medication. You’ve tried counseling once or twice, but you didn’t really get anything out of it. You feel guilty even using the word depression because you know other people have it so much worse, but when you hear them talk about it, you know exactly what they’re describing. You know the anger, the frustration, the self-doubt, the fear, the shame. You know the voice that whispers in your ear that you’re worthless, that you don’t belong, that you’re wrong somehow. It tells you no one likes you. They only pretend. They barely tolerate you.

The guilt isn’t the only reason you don’t talk about it much. You learned at an early age, when you were a nerdy kid who couldn’t relate to any of the other kids, that no one cared what you had to say. And so you don’t say anything at all. You work hard to be normal and perfect, even though you know deep down there’s no such thing as normal or perfect. Most of the time, you enjoy the life you’ve built. Most of the time you’re what you’d call happy, or at least content.

But just a little nudge—cancelled plans, an offhanded comment from a friend, a critical remark from a coworker—and the house of cards comes tumbling down. The depression hollows you out. The voice is too loud to ignore, too insistent to push away. You go through the motions for a day or a week because you’re stubborn and you do what you have to do, but you’re not there, not really.

But.

At some point you manage to remember something you forgot, something important. You remember that the world is a beautiful, wonderful awe-inspiring place full of magic, if you know where to look.

You go looking for the magic.

And you find it.

You find it in the rhythm of your feet and the beating of your heart as you run. You find it sharing a meal and laughter with friends. You find it in the pages of a book, in the notes of a song, in the lines from a movie. You find it making art. You find it holding someone’s hand.

You think that maybe you should talk about it more, that you shouldn’t feel guilty, because your pain is real, and maybe there are others who need to know they’re not alone, who hear the voice that whispers poison, and who need another voice that says, louder, “There’s magic in the world. Go find it.”

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight.

I’ll be at ConCarolinas, June 3-5, Charlotte, NC

I’m a guest this weekend at ConCarolinas in Charlotte , NC at the Embassy Suites Concord. Here’s my schedule. When I’m not on panels I’ll be out at my table with copies of books ready to sign. Come find me!

Friday, June 3
4:00 p.m. Research for Dummies
5:00 p.m. Paranormal Suspense – How to Ramp up Action in your Paranormal
8:00 p.m. The Burden of Years

Saturday, June 4
9:00 a.m. Don’t You Wish You started Ten Years Ago? The Realities of Self Publishing
3:00 p.m. The Trouble with Trilogies

Sunday, June 5
2:00 p.m. Are We Working Too Hard?

Monster Monday: Mykonos Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Mykonos Vampire.

Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort's journey through the Levant
Title page of the account of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s journey through the Levant

This story was recorded by a French botanist named Joseph Pitton de Tournefort traveling on the Greek island of Mykonos in 1701. A peasant who had been an unpleasant person during life died and was buried, but a few days later people began to report seeing him at night. He came into people’s homes, overturned furniture, put out lamps, made noise, and other mostly harmless tricks. However, when he started harassing the islands wealthy residents, they called in priests to stop him.

They exhumed the body and said a mass over the corpse, and then they called in the town butcher to cut out the heart so they could burn it. The butcher, though, was old and more familiar with sheep anatomy than human anatomy. He mutilated the body while trying to find the heart. The priests burned incense to cover the smell, but Tournefort suggested the stench caused those present to hallucinate, and many of them began screaming “Vrykolakas!” at the sight of the body, which was said to be still warm and filled with fresh blood.

They took the heart to the seashore and burned it, but the vampire still appeared, this time angrier. He began beating people, breaking windows, and doors, and tearing clothes. The priests decided that they should have burned the heart, then said mass, so they marched around the village chanting, saying prayers, and throwing holy water on the doors of the houses. It did not stop the vampire, however, and just before everyone considered leaving for the neighboring islands, they decided to dig up the body again and burn the entire corpse. When they did, peace was finally restored.

Monster Monday: The Melrose Vampire

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Melrose Vampire.

A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)
A photograph of Melrose Abbey by Henry Fox Talbot (1844)

The story of the Melrose Vampire is recorded by the medieval historian William of Newburgh. Melrose is a town in Scotland near the English border. There was an abbey nearby built in the twelfth century. According to the legend, there was a chaplain to a lady who lived near the abbey who did not live a priestly life. He was know as the “Hundeprest” or “dog priest” because he liked to hunt with hounds. He was so wicked that when he died, his spirit was denied rest. He came back nightly and terrorized the village, screaming, and moaning, and attacking people and drinking their blood.

He tried to enter the abbey, in the form of a monstrous bat, but the monks drove him back. After that he returned to terrorize his former mistress, and she begged the monks for help. One night they sent four monks to guard the grave of the suspected vampire, expecting him to rise up at midnight. When he failed to appear, three of the monks left for shelter in a nearby cottage, but one remained.

No sooner had they left, but the grave opened up and the vampire appeared in his monstrous form. He tried to attack the monk, but the monk hit him with an ax, and he retreated back into his grave. The next morning, the four monks dug up the body to discover it exactly as it had been when the priest was buried, except for the giant ax wound. The carried it outside of the church burial grounds and burned it, scattering the ashes to the winds.

Monster Monday: Vampire of Croglin Grange

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Vampire of Croglin Grange.

Illustration from Varney the Vampire (1847)
Illustration from Varney the Vampire (1847)

The Vampire of Croglin Grange is a legend from Cumberland, England. The events supposedly took place in the 1870s. Croglin Grange was an estate near a churchyard. The family that owned it moved into a bigger home and rented it to two brothers and a sister–Edward, Michael, and Amelia Cranswell.

One summer evening, Amelia was alone in her room when she saw a figure at her window and was so terrified she couldn’t scream. The creature had glowing demonic eyes and long talon-like fingers it used to pick out the lead between the panes of glass in the window. When it was able to remove a pane, it reached through and unlatched the window and came into the room. The creature grabbed Amelia and bit her on the neck. She was then able to scream and alert her brothers.

They came rushing into the room after breaking down the door and chased the creature off, saving their sister, who nonetheless lost a great deal of blood. After some time spent in Switzerland helping Amelia recover, the three siblings returned, vowing to take revenge on the creature.

One evening shortly after their return, the creature again picked the lead from between the window panes and entered Amelia’s room, but the brothers were hiding in wait. They both shot at the creature, which howled in pain and fled back through the window.

The next they they followed the trail of blood to the churchyard. In the crypt, they discovered a number of upturned coffins. The only one intact contained a corpse wrapped in a moldering shroud with a fresh bullet wound in its leg. They dragged the body out of the crypt into the daylight and burned it. After that the creature never returned.

Monster Monday: Aufhocker

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Aufhocker.

A Ghostly Black Dog
A Ghostly Black Dog

In German folklore, an aufhocker is a shapeshifting creature that attacks lone travelers at night, especially at crossroads. It often appears as a large black dog, but can also appear as a helpless old woman in order to coax its victim to let their guard down or a horse that lures its victim into riding it to their death. In addition, in some stories it appears as a corpse or a spirit or a kind of goblin. Because of its nature it has been called a kind of vampire.

The name aufhocker comes from German meaning “to leap upon,” and its preferred method of attack in to jump on the back of its victim. In some stories, it becomes bigger and heavier once it attacks so that its victim can’t throw it off. In others it first appears small but gradually grows until it is tall enough to rip out its victim’s throat.

It can be defeated by daylight or the sound of church bells or devout prayer. In some stories it can also be driven away by swearing.