Hello from the Silent Partner

Anyone who has been paying attention to the pages for the books may have noticed something odd. My name has been retroactively added as co-author to the earlier books. There’s no attempt at deception going on. It’s just that we were always a little unsure as to what kind of credit I should get for my part in the creative work.

On the first two books, I contributed book planning, world-building, character development, etc., and although Allan wanted to give me coauthor credit, I didn’t feel what I had done merited that much. How does one even classify contributions like refining genre, suggesting that science fiction elements actually make paranormal stories seem more plausible and thus, scarier.

There was some baggage behind my reluctance to take credit, too. I had been the first of us to try to be a professional writer, back before there was much Internet. I wrote short stories, and magazine rates for short stories varied mostly from 1/8th to 1 cent per word. Eventually, I did the math and got angry at the world of publication and wrote from then on purely for the entertainment of myself and a few friends.

I didn’t really recognize how much self-publication had grown up and become a viable option, nor how much Allan had grown as a writer, until he came out with the first finished novel. While making a commercial success was still a long shot, the fact was, he’d managed a book worth reading and he had control of the publication and marketing of it.

I still considered my contributions to be more “co-creator” than “co-author”, but there’s no option for that on book cover designs.

On the third book, I was suggesting some edits on a part he wasn’t satisfied with, and which dealt with a character who I had created. After a few tries at telling him what to do, I asked if he’d mind me taking over the chair and writing the edit myself. He loved the result, and I ended up going through and revising multiple scenes to get them just right. This time, I couldn’t refuse co-author credit, because I had indeed done a significant amount of the writing myself.

Then we started to reconsider the earlier books. I would have preferred being listed as “co-creator” rather than “co-author”, but there were a number of scenes where I’d helped with dialogue, relationships, etc. I had spent a few years listening to Allan describe the development of ideas in a different way than I recalled them happening. And I came to realize that accepting a little too much credit was better than being forgotten.

So here I am, invisible to the audience no more, and in our upcoming anthology, I’ve contributed a few solo pieces. There will be more of those in the future, as well as my continuing to be involved in working together with Allan.

 

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Nathaniel’s Private E-Journal, January 1st, 2005 “Reflections and Looking Forward”


I’m standing on a deck overlooking the great wide Pacific Ocean.  Another year has passed but I am not alone.  I am surrounded by members of my extended family located in Aptos, California.  Although that’s not where I am at this moment.  We’re standing near the famed Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk having just watched a fabulous fireworks display out on the water.

The Cloudfoots have been part of my life since 1999 when I first met Jason, the patriarch of these wonderful people.  As their name implies, they are of Native American descent, specifically they are Seneca one of the five original tribes that formed the Iroquois Confederacy.

Together, Jason and I, along with Otto located his missing niece Julie who had run away from home just two days before Christmas.  The moment Jason and I locked eyes, I knew there was something different about him and I was right.  He was a shaman, one who knew about the Para-Earths, as Otto has named those alternate realities of this world.  Jason also knew right away I’d been to one and had come back changed, but he also knew I was still a good man and our friendship formed.

He’s here with me tonight enjoying the love and joy of his children and grandchildren.  Jason lost his wife two years ago, for which I was very sorry.  She had been a wonderful woman, warm and caring.  I’d spent that New Year’s Eve with him, to make sure he did not face it alone.  Not that I had much reason to worry.  Julie and her parents were there as well.  It was the first time I’d seen her in 1999 and my how she’d grown.  From the pudgy little girl I’d help locate, she was now slightly taller than me and still growing.  She also had filled out in more ways than one, especially in the muscle department.  I feel sorry for any boy who pissed her off.  Not that she seems very interested in them.  A part of me suspects her yearnings lie elsewhere.  I just hope I never have to compete with her for a date.

Not that such a thing is likely.  I’ve kept to myself more since Veronica and I parted company three years ago.  I’ve found myself thinking about her a lot tonight.  Probably it’s because of all the police officers watching over tonight’s festivities.  There was one female officer in particular standing near her patrol car that caught my eye.  She looked nothing like Veronica, but the way the officer stood there reminded me so much of my red-headed love.

 

God she was amazing.  It’s not often you find someone so passionate and dedicated, not only to you but to her work.  But I digress…

A new year stands before us all.  I have no idea what surprises this one will have in store for me or those I call ‘family’.  But I know I will not face this new year alone which is a great comfort.  I have people like Jason, Otto, Brian, their families and so many others who’s lives touch mine.  I think that’s been the greatest gift of all.  Even though I have outlived so many people who I’ve loved, I am never truly alone.  And because I remember, none of them are ever forgotten.

My existence is a strange one, but at least I find it serves so many others.

Jason is proposing another toast to all so I better wrap this up.  A promising new year awaits and I for one am looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.

Lisa’s Private Thoughts, December 19th, 2012 – Christmas Tree Time

Tonight we got our Christmas tree.  Some of you may may think we’d left it a bit late, but since I’m a December baby, my parents got into the habit of waiting until after my birthday to put up any Christmas decorations.  One of my mother’s sisters was also a December baby who often complain about how her birthday got overshadowed by Christmas, so my parents go out of their way to make sure that did not happen with me.  Especially not this year when I turned sixteen.

But that had been over a week ago and I was more than ready for Christmas now.  In fact, I’m thinking of telling my parents next year that we should get our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  We could just decorate it for my birthday and then redo it again for Christmas.

You see I love the smell of pine trees and forests.  Especially in wintertime and at night.  Which is why going out to get our tree was so much fun this time.  As soon as dinner was over, Dad told us to get our coats and pile into the Suburban.  “It’s tree time!” he smiled.

“More like about time,” Mom muttered under her breath, while getting her coat on in record time.

Soon we were driving down a snowy lane with snow covered trees on either side of us.  There was no one else on the road, so it felt kind of spooky in some ways.  I swear, there’s nothing like being surrounded by huge trees at night to make you feel really small.  Yet it was beautiful at the same time.

After a while Mom said, “Where are going?  There aren’t any tree lots out this way.”

“We’re getting our tree the old fashion way, straight out of the best supplier known to man.  The forest itself,” Dad smiled.

“We’re going to chop one down?” I cried in dismay.

“No, Sweetie, we’re going to dig one up,” Dad corrected me.  “Remember, cut trees don’t last very long around Uncle Nate.”

Immediately, my mood skyrocketed even higher.  “He’s coming this year?”

“Dear, you weren’t supposed to say anything,” Mom scolded.

“She was going to find out anyway,” he told her,  “See, that’s him up ahead waiting for us.”

I practically climbed into the front seat with them to get a better look.  Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead stood Nathan wearing a an old fashion burgundy frock coat, with a black cape over it.  While on top of his blonde hear, he had a black beaver hat angled every so slightly to give him a dashing look.

By now my little brother Geoffrey, who had been sleeping the whole time woke up and started yelling, “Unca Nate… Unca Nate…” at the top of his little lungs.  If you haven’t guessed, he adores our godfather.

Luckily we were able to park quickly and got him out of the car.  Since I was right next to him, I ‘fun’ of getting him out of his car-seat.  Let me tell you, trying to deal with an overexcited two-year old who won’t stop squirming is an experience I won’t soon forget.  Nor will my stomach where he kept kicking me without realizing it, because he wanted to get to Nathan so badly.

Thank goodness Nathan saw my plight and took Geoffrey from me.  Immediately, my baby brother calmed down and started babbling at him in a mix of words and childish gibberish.  Mom and Dad looked on with amusement while Nathan hung on my brother’s every ‘word’ until he was finished.

“Well you certainly have had an interesting day,” Nathan told him, “I look forward to having more of these talks with you over the coming days.  But for now, we need to find a good tree and we have lots to choose from.”

Looking around I saw he was right.  We did have a lot of choices, but there was one slight problem.  “Kind of big aren’t they?” my Mom remarked, taking Geoffrey from him.

Nathan turned to my dad the two began muttering to one another.  I managed to catch a few snippets like: “I thought you said she’d be okay with punching a holes into the ceiling and possibly the roof…”  and  “….we’d have had to cut through some of the crossbeams and…”

I noticed Mom rolling her eyes several times before they finally finished.

Clapping his gloved hands Dad said, “Nathan says there’s some really nice trees over on the north slope just a few hundred yards from here. I just need to get the sled and pot out from the back of the car.”

“Did you remember the shovels?” Mom asked, and he froze.

Immediately my father froze and winced.  “Oops.”

“Dad!” I cried but Nathan intervened saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.  Just follow me.”  and with that he started heading off towards the north slope.

Naturally I raced to join him.  Soon the whole family was following close behind as we slowly made our way through the snowy woods.

At one point we spotted some deer nearby, who did not seem to mind our presence at all.  They stared at us for a while, until they were sure we didn’t have anything to offer them and then moved on.  Soon we emerged from the forest and into what was undoubtedly the north slope.

All around us stood pines ranging from four feet to heaven knows, all covered in snow.  It was a beautiful sight.  I almost felt guilty for our intruding on such a festive scene.  But, we were here on a mission and I knew weren’t going to leave until we located and secured our quarry.

After a few minutes, of knocking snow off a few of the six foot trees, my parents found one they liked.  I had to agree, that their choice was a good one.  It had a lovely shape and would fit nicely in the living room.  But first we had to get it out of the ground.

Turning to Nathan I said, “So how do you plan to get this puppy out of the ground without shovels?”

Smiling he said, “Funny you should mention the word ‘puppy’.”  With that he took a few steps away from me and knelt down in the snow, covering himself entirely with the black cloak.  For several seconds nothing happened.  Then there was movement under the ebony cloth and soon two large black dogs emerged from underneath the cape which fell to the ground and became flat.

“PUPPIES!” my little brother cried excitedly.  He loves dogs, but can’t play with them because he’s very allergic to their fur.  A part of me quickly surmised that this would not be a problem with these two beasts.  As if to prove my point, they went over to where my mother was holding Geoffrey, and allowed him to pet them.

Then the pair trotted over to where the tree we’d chosen stood and began digging in a circle.  Snow went flying in all directions, making the rest of us take a few steps back to keep out of range.  But soon, the dark soil began to replace the white stuff letting us know the real work had begun.  Out of curiosity I bent down and picked up a piece of the thrown soil and found it was still quite solid and frozen.

I shook my head in wonder and marveled at the power of my godfather once more.  I’ve long known of his shape-shifting talents, but sometimes forget just how much strength he is capable of demonstrating.

  

Within minutes the tree wobbles and tilts to one side, as the two dogs emerge from behind it and slip back under the black coat from which they’d emerged.  As my father brings the sled with the big pot on it near the tree, I watch the shapes moving beneath the cape and breathe a sigh of relief when I see hands appear and Nathan stands up.  As he readjusted his hat, I could see that there’s not a speck of anywhere on his hands or face.  He truly is a wonder to behold sometimes.

Anyway, he and Dad managed to lift the tree with its large ball of dirt and roots, into the big pot… or rather tub on the sleigh and quickly made sure it was a good fit.  Then we headed back to the cars and stood it upright in the back of the pickup, Nathan had brought.  In a few weeks, we’ll bring it back and replant it, just as Nathan has shown us so it can continue its life among its siblings.

Two hours later, we had the tree back at home and fully decorated.  Dad has just lit the log in the fireplace, while Nathan is resting on the sofa with a blanket over his legs.  Or rather where his legs would be.  On the floor nearby, Geoffrey is playing with a couple of smaller versions of the black dogs who dug our Christmas tree out of the ground.

Poor Nathan, he’s going to be legless for a good hour or more, meaning he’ll be stuck on the sofa.  I’m going to join him after I finish this post.  He’s going to be staying with us all throughout the holidays this year.  Normally he heads to Connecticut to visit another part of his ‘extended’ family to spend Christmas Eve, but they are celebrating elsewhere this year which means he’s all mine… or rather ours this time.

Glancing over at the archway that leads to the kitchen I can see my mom and dad enjoying a good long kiss under the mistletoe.   I love seeing them like that.  It really makes the season all the more right to me.

Love, family and friends, those are the greatest gifts to have at this time of year.  And I’m going to go get a little of the first, right now.  I’ve got a little bit of mistletoe of my own in my pocket and there’s a very inviting spot right next to Nathan on the sofa.

This is going to be very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year indeed….

****So ends this year’s holiday installment of The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.  May all your hopes and wishes come true during this festive season.  And may each and everyone one of you enjoy some of the magic of this season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

LISA’S “PRIVATE THOUGHTS” – OCTOBER 22ND, 2014 “Something Bad Is Coming” Part – II

town

While I continue to watch the land slowly being bathed by the morning’s rays, the leading edge of the light begins to touch the edge of the dairy farm and halts.  Well, not exactly.  The light continues to stretch across the land, but it does so by going AROUND a portion of the farm, in particular the barn.  It’s almost as if that area has a barrier around it, which is repelling the dawn’s rays.

At first I shake my head, wondering if my eyes are playing tricks on me.  Perhaps some trees are casting a shadow over that spot, but no.  What I’m seeing is not a shadow, it’s something else, something sinister.

 barn

As I continue to watch, the edge of sunlight slowly closes around the dark area around the barn and continues to spread across the land.  That is of course when my mind starts thinking about Timothy Spratt and what my father had told me.  At this point I’ve usually woken up.  But last night the dream kept going.

Tearing my gaze away from the ‘shadowed’ barn I begin to study the rest of the town, to see if the effect is repeated anywhere else.  To my horror, it does.  Here and there, I notice a few other ‘blemishes’ appear in other parts of the town.  But the pattern is so sporadic, there does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to their locations.  It’s as if all that lay before me was a painting and someone had flicked a brush covered in some dark translucent stain across a canvas, marring the beauty of the scene.

None of it seems to make any sense… that is until the light reaches the grounds of the church.  It’s there that I see a much more heavy concentration of dark spots, mostly around a number of headstones in the newer sections of the graveyard.  Immediately I remember the Professor, I mean Otto, telling me and Marisa that the Ghoul-Slime… or Funus Sobrere (which is latin Corpse Absorber… see I’m already learning from him) preferred bodies of the recently deceased.

       This of course reinforces my first impression that Tim Spratt may have been one of the creature’s earliest victims, having seen the darkness around the barn.  But at the same time it doesn’t explain why I’m being shown this ‘overview’ of the town.  Are all these blemishes places where the Funus Sobrere had been?  And if so, why was there no other reports of people/animals dying or disappearing?

Then, as if in answer to my unspoken question my eyes drift, seemingly of their own volition, away from the church grounds to one of the other larger buildings in shadows.  It’s one of the medical buildings over on Clearwater Street.  Specifically, it’s the one that contains the local diagnostic lab.  I’ve had bloodwork done there and so has pretty much everyone in town.  There have been no deaths there that I can recall… then I remember the place had a break in and samples stolen…

Including ones that belonged to Marisa’s dad, which would explain how “Ghoul-Boy”… I mean the Funus Sorbrere knew about her father’s condition when it confronted us.  A chill runs through my body at the realization that the creature had actively been seeking out who would make a nice fresh corpse in the near future for it to absorb.

‘But the thing is dead,’ I tell myself in the dream.  ‘Tony… Pastor Gregory’s brother, who it had taken over, had destroyed himself and it in fire.  It’s gone, we’re all safe… right?’

By then a feeling of doom has taken hold and I look back to the rest of the town which has now been completely revealed, blemishes and all, by the morning sun.  All is quiet… almost too quiet.

Then I see the edges of each dark patch begin to move.  It’s a slow but steady movement.  Those closest to each other meet and become a larger patch and continue to spread, seemingly more rapidly because of their greater size.  In the churchyard this happens more quickly, since so many of the graves had been violated and tainted by the Funus Sorbrere.

I’m rooted to the spot, helpless to stop the progression as the blight spreads darkening more and more of my hometown.  Then I notice the farthest edge of the encroaching shadow begins begins to reach the outer edge of Nathan’s family estate and stops.

“Of course, Nathan was able to beat it to a standstill back in the cemetery when he came to save me and Marisa,” I breathe with the first rays of hope.  Then I remember he’s gone to ground… “Which means he’s not here to protect us,” I murmur sadly.

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     And that’s when the nightmare really begins.

     It’s almost as if the blight heard my words, because suddenly the darkness spreads like a wildfire.  It crashes past whatever was holding it back from my godfather’s estate, sweeping over it cause plants to die and trees to wither.  The manor itself begins to darken and age just before collapsing in on itself, while my hometown is swept in shadow and I hear the first screams of terror arise…

     That’s when I finally woke up to find the screams were coming from my own mouth.   Naturally my parents came rushing into my room to find out what had happened, and then spent the next hour comforting me.  Both kept reassuring me that there had been no new reports of graves being violated or disappearances of people or animals.  Still, I can’t help shaking the feeling that something is coming and I’m certain Nathan will be our only chance of stopping it.

      I can’t tell Marisa about the dream because I know she’s been anxious about her dad.  She and her Mom are waiting for the latest lab results to come back and I don’t want to burden her with my worries.  I’d talk to Otto but he’s out of town.  I could e-mail him, but first I want to go to Nathan’s place and check on Isabella’s grave, where he went to ground with her ghost, to see if there’s any change.  If I don’t see anything, then I’ll contact Otto for sure and ask what I should do next.

       Damn, almost time for school.  I’ll wrap things up here and report back once I’ve been to Nathan’s place this evening.  I pray this is all just my imagination but if it isn’t and there’s no sign of him coming back, I don’t know what we’ll do.

LISA’S “PRIVATE” THOUGHTS – OCTOBER 22nd, 2014 “Something Bad Is Coming” Part-I

     *With the start of the holiday season, Helen and I thought it would be nice to give you all a little glimpse into some of what has been happening between the end of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, and the upcoming sequel “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties”.  Those who  have read the first book were given a sneak peek into the next installment where there are is a solid two week block of anxiety where Nathan is not to be found.  Nor is there any indication of when or if he will return.

     Today’s story takes place during that three week period where Lisa, one of those who witnessed Nathan’s departure, shares the growing sense of foreboding that has been building inside her.  Enjoy* 

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     It’s been two weeks since Nathan went to ground and there’s still no sign of when he may return… and I’m worried.  Not about whether or not he’s coming back, the Professor has assured both me and Marisa repeatedly that Nathan will come back to us, it’s just a question of when?  Ever since that night at the cemetery when everything went down, I’ve had a growing feeling of unease.

     I only really noticed it a couple of days after the battle, but looking back I’m certain it was already starting to gnaw at me the moment we all headed inside Nathan’s manor to tend to Marisa’s ankle.  But I didn’t dwell on it at the time because my dad arrived with Penny, who had had a bad shock earlier having seen her former pimp Tony in town.  She still doesn’t know the guy was already dead and acting as host to the ghoul slime that nearly killed me and Marisa, not that any of us plan to tell her anytime soon because that would mean possibly revealing Nathan’s secret.

     Luckily the Professor, sorry I mean Otto (he prefers Marisa and me to call him that), was on hand to smooth things over.  I always thought Nathan was a fast-talker, but he pales in comparison to Otto.  He explained to Penny that Nathan had been called away on business, leaving him in charge of overseeing further restoration of the manor in his absence. Naturally, Marisa, Richard and I all backed him up, not that we really needed to.  Otto has a disarming way about him and can be so charming that Penny seemed quite happy to have him around.

ankle

     Of course, there was still the question of what happened to Marisa’s ankle. I wound up taking the lead on that one.  Nathan taught me long ago that half-truths are far more convincing and easier to remember than flat out lies.  So I told her that Marisa slipped and fell while running up the driveway to the manor when she and I were racing each other to see Nathan.  When we found out he wasn’t here, nor were Richard or Otto at that point, we called Dr. Jack who does house calls.  Which is also true, he does make house calls quite a bit even in this day and age.  Then again, we’re not a huge town so that makes things easy for him to give that personal touch.  And he did a great job on Marisa’s ankle, she’s doing much better.  At school today I could barely detect any sign of a limp as we walked to and from our classes.  Some movements still give her a twinge, but nothing serious.

     And right now as I type these words, I’m feeling another twinge of anxiety.  Probably because of the recurring dream I’ve been having for the past week.  It always starts out with me was standing on one of the many hillsides that overlooks our little town of Pointer.  The sun is just rising and I can see the light spreading across the valley slowing approaching the town I’ve called home all my life.  Soon the morning rays begin touching the trees, turning the yellow leaves that still cling to their branches, a brilliant gold, while at the same time making the grass seem more vibrant and welcoming.

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     The rooftops seem to spring to life and glisten with morning dew and everything just seems so beautiful and alive… then that uneasy feeling that’s been haunting me  seems to awaken and grow with a terrifying vengeance.

     I find my eyes are drawn to one of the dairy farms in the distance, where not too long ago a Tim Spratt was trampled to death when something spooked the family herd causing them to break out of the barn where they’d been kept.  Officially, the word is that a mountain lion or bear broke in and killed two of the animals, but I heard my father telling Otto just last night that he believes there is more to the story.  One of the deputies, who is part of Nathan’s “Extended Family” here in town was away at the time of the incident, but upon returning to work he learned the case was still quietly being investigated.

     It turns out Kevin, that’s the deputy’s name, learned from his co-workers that tracks were found leading in and out of the barn.  It looked more like several animals had been on the scene, including a deer, a bear and one or two others, that would not normally be found entering a barn.  Furthermore, there had been a sickly smell that still seemed to linger in the area.  Last I heard, the family is tearing down the barn and have moved the animals to another enclosure.

     Upon hearing this, my mind raced back to the cemetery where Marisa and I came under attack from creatures the Ghoul Slime had made from the bodies of dead buried there.  Each one had been a fusion of human and animal remains, which gave off a sickly unearthly smell.  I began to wonder then if Tim Spratt had been one of the Ghoul Slime’s earliest victims, which might account for what happened next in my dream…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Brian’s E-Journal “The Soldier”

*Author’s Note: For those who are new to this site, this particular entry is a repost.  I first wrote this particular story a little over 2 years ago and have never done another because I don’t think I could surpass its message.  For it shares the gratitude many of us have for those who’ve served, along with their families who must wait with bated breath for their return which may not always be a happy one.  It reminds all of us at home that serving one’s country can come at a price which should never be forgotten or taken for granted.  So to all who’ve worn a uniform and risked everything for all of us, to you and yours we say “Thank you, and God bless and keep you all.”* 

The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years.  The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held.  At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound,  and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen.  It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all.  He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during the war between the states, telling tales of bravery and humanity.  Then, once he finished, the figure marched back the way he came only to be swallowed by a mist that seemed to come from nowhere.

 

This happened again the following year, and every year after that.  At first most people just assumed him to be a magician who had served alongside those who had died.  Yet, none of those who had come home recognized the fellow.  In fact, no one could even really describe his features even if he had been standing next to them.  They could distinctly remember his uniform which had clearly belonged to the West Virginia 7th Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  He had all the bearing of a soldier, but even if they looked up into his face all they could remember was that he was young, with a kind face, which had born witness to the horrors of the battlefield.  But none of them could actually describe his face in detail.

Naturally the idea that the fellow was a ghost began to spread among the children and a handful of adults.  But after thirty years passed and those children who had seen him close up could honestly say he had not aged in that time, that others began to believe the tale.

Throughout the decades, he has always appeared, never once missing a Decoration Day.  And with each visit, he shared new stories about those who had served and fell in the Civil War.  But it wasn’t until the end of the Great War that this began to change.  In 1919, one year after World War I ended, a new monument was erected in the town square with the names of those who had left Pointer to fight overseas.  On that occasion the soldier appeared and shared several stories about those who had been lost on the battlefields of Europe.

From that day on he continued to appear on Remembrance Day (now called Veteran’s Day) as well as on Memorial Day.

By this time few, if any, doubted the Soldier’s existence.  In fact many began to welcome his strange visits, but not all.  Those who were too traumatized by their loss, could not bear to see him come.  In particular there had been Violet Parker, who had been engaged to James Moore who fell at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in 1918.  When the Soldier appeared again on Remembrance Day in 1920, she rushed at him brandishing a pistol from her father’s collection and shot him point blank.  The Soldier did not flinch, nor did he fall.  Instead, he gently took the weapon from her shaking hands, and  pulled her close.  She resisted at first, but then began to calm down.  Those who dared approach them could hear his voice speaking gently to her in sympathy.  Soon Violet slipped her arms around him and held him tightly.  Then she kissed him on the cheek and walked back to where her father stood.  For the rest of her long life, she was happier than anyone could remember, and strongly rebuked anyone who spoke ill of the Soldier or of anyone who served their country.

The addition of new names and stories of those who served that the Soldier spoke of continued with  each passing year.  Whether they were lost in peacetime or during America’s entry into World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and of course Afghanistan, he made sure no one forgot them or their service.  And today was no exception.  He spoke of the town’s most recent losses with such feeling, one was convinced he had personally known, or had watched each one of them grow into fine young men and women.

Of course, I and a number of others know this happens to be the truth.  There are at least a dozen families here in Pointer that know of Uncle Nate.  And they preserve his secret with fierce loyalty, just as mine does.  It is a loyalty based on love and respect.  Whether he’s the ‘Soldier’ or just the family friend or godfather, he has been there for all of us over the decades.  Our dark guardian, the soldier who even when he does not wear the uniform, is always on duty.  Ready to defend and protect all of us and our town, just has he did the day he marched off to war at the age of 16, back in 1862.

God bless him and all the men and women who have served, and will serve.

Time to talk anthology…

reading

Big news, my wife and collaborator Helen just got hired on by the county so she will be working in the same building as me and sharing the long commute.  With her being hired, we are now looking towards possibly moving again and are already doing some packing here and there. Plus she is still taking a couple of intense college courses. This leaves both of us less time to write, especially in her case.

However, the anthology was 95% finished with only 2 stories incomplete. We’ve decided to drop those from the release and go ahead and publish the anthology with 23 stories, six of which are brand new. We’re sticking to the 12th Night of Christmas release date.

In the meantime we’re looking for Beta-Readers for feedback and to spot any problems with the collection. Unlike our previous novels which weighed in at 100K words, this volume is about 60,000 words in length. If you are interested in being a Beta-Reader please let us know in the comments section below.