Tag Archives: literature

Writing Tips: Number Something or other (I’ve lost count): Editing tips and it’s importance!

9 Jul

 

Preview

Haven’t posted in a while, been so swamped, with work, life, writing and editing that I have been naughty and neglected my blog a bit. But I’m back today with a hopefully helpful post.

Today we are going to talk about editing, first I’ll go through the steps I take when editing, and then I’ll edit the first chapter of Ryder’s Story using these steps for an example. First off I’d like to say this is only how I do things, I’m not saying it’s the right way or the only way, but it’s my way, and hopefully it could give you all an idea of where to start if you  were having trouble. So let’s get into it then my editing technique.

 

Now for the purpose of this I’m doing it in steps, but in reality this is all done at once when I sit down and edit. When I write I’m one of those writers that believed in just writing, sit down, write until you can’t no more and edit later. Ryder’s Story is an excellent example of that. It was my challenge to myself to see if I could get an entire chapter out in a week, and while it did have a basic (and I mean just me and my bff reading it quickly before posting it) edit, it’s by far not perfect, in fact, there are a lot of big no-no’s, and stuff I would cut out if I had spent the months on it I usually would when editing and getting it ready.  So yeah, I know it’s rough, but that’s why every first draft needs second- to maybe  100th give or take 😛

 

First things first, cutting, when I edit I cut, a lot. Which from what I gather is what you should do, getting it down to the bare bones, is what’s writing is about. If you can say what you want to well,  with few words then you are a good writer. But no one can do that in their first draft, even amazing authors like Stephan King have multiple drafts before they are ready. So as hard as it is cutting is essential.

First things I cut are any unnecessary words.  And there is a list of words that can be cut 90 percent of the time, I found an awesome blog post going into more details about this and that’s the link below if you want to check it out.

http://justatasmanian.com/2014/01/25/day-256-9-words-to-get-rid-of-in-your-writing/

 

For now though I’ll just point them out these words are:

Was

Really

Just

Said

Can

Seem

Suddenly

That

Am

Were

Now there are expectations, of course, and the post explains this in detail but if you can, cut them.

 

The next thing I take out is any prefix related to talking, if I can. Again not all need to be removed, but the less, the better. So that’s your he said, she said, they argued, he yelled, ect. All those have to go, it requires minimal rewriting and it is the quickest and easiest way to improve your writing quite a bit with little effort.

 

Next any unnecessary actions that the character does. This is my big downfall,  I’m terrible at unnecessary actions, it’s awful. When I’m editing I found myself cutting more of these than anything else. Though at the same time they are some of the hardest thing to cut, because cut the wrong action and the reader are lost, leave the wrong one in and it’s unnecessary. I still haven’t gotten the hang of this, but I’m getting there, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. What I mean by unnecessary actions is characters, smiling excessively, nodding, and doing anything that’s receptive. It’s a hard one to explain without context but if you make it to the end hopefully I have an example in the part I’m going to edit to show you.

 

Last thing to cut and probably the hardest, is anything that doesn’t help the story along. If you have scenes that are awesome, but you have them there just because they are awesome then they are probably unnecessary. This is a judgement call you as an author have to make if you don’t think it really needs it, then it’s probably best to get rid of it, your writing will thank you.

Other things to look out for are typos, and yes, this is another thing I’m terrible at I often miss my own typos, because I know what it’s meant to say, and more often than not read what’s supposed to be there, rather than what actually is. This can be helped by reading it aloud, getting a Cp to proof it, if you have one who is willing to do this. ( I tend to find people willing to spell check you hard to find, though I do have two lovely ladies who help me out here, love you guys!) Also time will help, it’s the reason I choose to use Ryder’s Story as an example. It’s been almost a year since I’ve even looked at the first chapter, so I’ll be more likely to see mistakes I missed.

This helps, with editing, always put it away, work on something else for a while, and I mean a reasonable while, a few months at the least so you can get it completely out of your mind, then edit. You will find it easier this way. Now this is only step one, once you’ve done this, put it away and do it again, and again, until it’s done. Some parts will take more work than others, and sometimes you notice huge thing you missed in the first draft. It takes time, it’s hard works, but no one ever said writing was going to be easy. If you put in the time and effort, it will show and your writing will be better for it.

 

Now, to the editing! Fixes and changes will be bolded and crossed out to give you a working example of what I’m talking about. This example will not be polished to perfection; it’s just an example of the first stages of editing I would go through. There is still probably somethings I have missed but, if I was editing this in order to query about, I would be leaving it a month or two and starting all over again, until I was happy.  Sorry if it’s a little messy, I was going to do the edits in red but silly me couldn’t work out how to change the colour of text lol 😛

 

They say all great stories have humble beginnings and although I’m not entirely sure my story could be considered great, it was not at all humble. No mine is a story of life, loss, war and new beginnings; this is the story of my life and I’ll start from the beginning.

I was born in 1509 the same year that as Henry VII died leaving the English throne to the notorious Henry VIII; of course at the time I had no knowledge of that and doubt I would have cared even if I did. I was born Anthony Edward Cross, but have since changed my given name to become what you know me as now, Ryder Kingston. I was orphaned at a young age; my father killed in a war, my mother totoo poor to care for me, turned to prostitution then died not long after. I don’t remember much of my childhood seeing it was so long ago and such a small part of my life, but it was spent bouncing from orphanage to orphanage, until I was fourteen and old enough to work, to marry and that is where my life really started.

It was 1523 and I was only a boy. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was a Monday and it had been raining all morning. By the time afternoon had hit the sun was shining and brighter day lay ahead. Voices in the hall outside of the boy’s chambers caught my attention, and the fact I was the topic of interest held my attention. because I knew it was me they were speaking of.

“He’s a good boy father, quite reserved, but strong. He’d make a good field boy, or worker, and he’s rather dashing.” said the owner of the orphanage I herd the owner of the orphanage speak as I pressed my ear to the door. Seeing it was the middle of the day most of the others children were doing chores or playing outside. but they were almost all younger than me and still had hope for finding a family, my only hope was being put to work, it was all I could have asked for at my age.

“Very well, and it is the boy with blond hair and blue eye, Anthony I believe?” The responding voice was one I didn’t know  said the male voice, he sounded young, and I wondered what a man of the cloth such as him could possible possibly want with me.

“That’s the one. Can’t tell you much of his history father, but he’s a little old for any hope of adoption. I was thinking I might have to keep him on to fix up he place, he has always been a favourite of mine.” she said.

“I do apologise for requesting a favourite of yours, but he’s is the boy I have been looking for, my brothers son. It seems it only fair that he returns to family,.

“Please father, do not take me wrong. I will be happy if the boy goes to a good home, what better a home than with a priest.”

“The boy he is in here?” The priest’s voice was followed by footsteps heading my way. said the priest; his voice was followed by footsteps.

“Yes father thought that door, .

I hurried away from it not wanting to look like I had been eavesdropping.Grabbing one of the few books the orphanage owned, I quickly settled on my bed. I grabbed the book one of the few in the orphanage. Although I didn’t know how to read I liked to look, and pretend I knew the story, even if it meant I had to create my own.

“Anthony, what are you reading son,.said the voice It was the voice I’d had heard in the hall. I looked up feeling quite foolish and wished I knew enough to lie.

“I’m not.” I let the book fall into my lap.,” I said the book falling into my lap. Books were a luxury and it was amazing that we even owned one, granted it was hand written and poorly bound, but printed book were a while off yet.

“That’s strange I do believe you are holding a book.” Gently the father reached,” he said gently reaching for it and looked at the cover.

“I can’t read.”,” I replied softly ashamed of the fact.

My father had been a well-educated man, he had read to me when I was still very young, I remembered it but being as I was, I had no hope that I could, or ever would be anything more than an uneducated peasant.

“Well, I shall teach you son,. Then you will be able to read this book you hold so dear.” He said with a bright smile that  The smile he wore showed how young the man actually was. He seemed kind and his smile was warm as he held out his hand for me to take. “Now come my son, I will show you your new life.”

The weather outside was warm, was warm outside that day which made for a good change in a soggy English winter. The priest had a horse drawn carriage which excited me; I had never ridden in one that I could remember. It was not something a boy of my stature could hope for.

The ride was long, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. I had never seen that much of the country side countryside before. It was all so green and beautiful like a place from my dreams and at the time I felt like the luckiest boy alive.

The small village where the priest’s monastery was, was far from any town and the small two bedroom house that would be my home for some years was better that than I could have ever expected. The town itself was owned by the church and in nowadays it would have been seen as more of a training facility than anything but to me, and others like me, it was home.

When we arrived at the house, I was giving new clothes, gentlemen’s clothes, the type of clothes that I could have only dreamed of having back at the orphanage. My life at the small town was greatly the same. I was raised and was taught to be a gentleman, being told that I would soon be working with the rich and the royal, so I need my manners. I was raised to a class that was well above my own, but I had no delusions of nobility or wealth, I was just a lucky boy.  They taught me to read, in both English and Latin, and also I was giving an education, something that I never would have got if it wasn’t weren’t for father Kingston. The priests at the monastery were far ahead of their time, they believe believed in good hygiene and had advances in medicine that wouldn’t be seen for hundreds of years, some of which modern medicine could use now, but were lost over time. I soon found out that I would need these advances and I was very grateful for them.

I liked my new home and I liked my new carer. Father Kingston was a young man of twenty three twenty-three; he was had never married and grew up in the very town we were in. He told me of a time when he was just like me, all alone with no home. He knew what it was like for us, but he said my life held I a different path than his,. He was a scholar and I was not. Despite that, all of the time I sent with him our differences, I believed I was going to be just like him one day. It was the path I chosen as soon as I met him., but it never came about. I loved him like a father and he treated me as his son.

On my fifteenth birthday, I met the boy that who was to become my brother. Like me, he had no family and was taken in by one of the priest priests at the compound.  We met at the river while I was skipping stones waiting for my afternoon lessons. I was rather excited for that one particular.  Father Kingston said I would be soon put to work and was to begin my training in what he called the doing the ‘Lord’s work’. Our first conversation was simple and from that the first moment we were inseparable right until the end.
“Mind the intrusion, you are Anthony right?” Asked a voice from behind me. I stopped and turned on my heels to look at him the new comer.

“Yeah.,” I replied

“Hello, my name is Dashiell, Dash has also been used. I was told to find you, we will be training together.” His quiet tone caused me to believe he was shy. ,” he said shyly and I smiled. That moment was the first and last time I would ever think of Dashiell as shy.

“Pleasure to meet you Dash .” I tossed him the smooth stone in my hand.,” I replied tossing him the smooth stone that was in my hand, “Care to join me?”

“Very kind.”,”

It wasn’t long after I met Dashiell; I learnt exactly what our jobs involved. Throughout the course of my training, I decided that I would risk my life for that boy, and since then I had many times as he had for me.

Training was hard, but the acting was harder,. I was the furthest thing from a gentlemen which only became clearer as I grew older. When the priest pulled me from that orphanage, I was the dirty, son of a whore. I hadn’t the slightest clue what manners were, and didn’t even own a set of shoes. Not that it mattered here because none of the boys had. We were all lost souls, boys that wouldn’t be missed if something unfortunate was to happen and I quickly learned why.

We were trained to eliminate things that defied the church, abominations, the supernatural, make it like they never existed. Our job was dangerous and many of the boys I grew up with did not survive there their teens. I learnt to take loss well early and not to fear death. I knew that the chances were I would die young but I knew what I was doing was right and as it turned out, I was rather good at it.

Dashiell and I quickly moved to the head of our class,. I believed we were unstoppable. I don’t intend to brag, but before we started our first mission, we believe that there wasn’t a thing that could stop us, and I knew as long as my brother had my back I was safe.  I was eighteen years old when I was send on my first major mission. True there were other before but that one, but that was the one the defined my life. It was the domino that started the tumble that lead to my death. If only I knew back then what I know now things might have ended differently.

We were tasked with finding and eliminating a vampire that had taken residence among a set of English nobles. We were to infiltrate the family’s fold by whatever means necessary. I liked to use a playfully playful nature and charm, to befriend the charge, but Dashiell, on the other hand, was to work through the business, he liked the politics. He would go for the father he was smarter and he was older, only a year but back then, in that time a year made a great difference., and he was also smarter. He understood the working of a the business, where I did not.

Dashiell’s dark eyes and dark hair gave him a more professional look; it also made girls from miles around swoon and act rather improper in his presence. He was a lady killer, out of us he had the looks, the charm and the charisma, which was why I was surprised I was even chosen for the job. Although I was not without my own charms.

Before I knew it we were bathed, suited, and had been given two of the most magnificent stallions I had ever seen. I held the reigns, uncomfortable in the formal attire. I knew it was an invitation for thieves to try and rob us on our journey; it was almost as if we were carrying a sign stating ‘free gold enquire with swords’. Although, I did not fear being robbed by mere bandits, though I did think it would be a rather unfortunate waist waste of life and of time. Dashiell and I could more than stop our fair share of bandits; we had fort things that were far more worse than humans in our time. I was more surer of that fact than I was of that than anything else in our entire assignment, not that I enjoyed the thought of it happening.

“Smile Anthony, its ok, are you not excited?” asked Dashiell smiled brightly as came to a stop next to me.

“Excited is hardly the word I would use.”,” I replied I muttered my reply as I looked looking around for father Kingston. As if he had heard my prayers he emerged from the house nearest to me. “Father.” The discomfort and doubt was thick in my voice. I did my best to hide it; I didn’t want to let him down.

He placed a hand on my shoulder. and smiled at me before he said. “What is it my son you sound troubled,”

“Father i…” I stopped unable to tell him I could not go through with it. It was an assignment that was too big to fail; its reach was too great. It had links right back to the royal English court and the last thing I wanted was to piss off the king. It was Dashiell who broke my silence.

“He is just anxious father, he doubts his abilities.”

“Is this true?”  My father met asked meeting my gaze from our similar heights.

“Well…” was all I managed to get out before the cardinal and leader of our group spoke up.

Alright All right, alright all right gather around warriors. I know you have all been anxious to hear who was chosen to lead England from the clutches of evil back into the loving light of god almighty. The decision was not made lightly and our finally our minds have been made. Dashiell, Anthony will you please step forward?”

I passed the reigns to my father and walked to the front of the cognitation congregation to take a knee in front of the cardinal. Dashiell took my side and we bowed our heads as the cardinal gave us our rights.

“You are warriors sent forth from heaven to complete the Lord’s almighty will. You will have no earthly bound but to the duty you have been bestowed. If you are to walk in the valley of death, fear not my sons because you can walk head held high into eternal martyrdom, everlasting youth and life. You serve no man princely or otherwise only the will of the divine, do you understand our mission my sons?”

“Yes my father,” Dashiell and I replied in unison.,” we replied in unison With a gentle hand he the cardinal lifted my head and made the sign of the cross on my forehead.

“Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Ut requiem in pacem.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.”

“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.” I repeated before he moved on to Dashiell to repeat the process.

“Now rise my sons, you have much to do.”

I looked to Dashiell as we got to our feet his hand clung to the chain around his neck and he said his own silent prayer. As we were walking to our horses, I was stopped by another clergy member.

“Anthony.He The man said in a solemn voice that instantly made me fear the worst. “You have been appointed rider, and will take the lead unto your first rest and then again onto the next, do you understand the responsibility of being rider son.”,” he said and

Much to my surprise Dashiell actually laughed as I nodded and I agreed. “I do father.”

The priest left us with only our horses and father Kingston for farewell.

“Do you understand the responsibilities, we have bestowed on you Ryder?” Said Dashiell in a mocking voice I gave him a disapproving look, but he continued anyway. “No father I have only spent the last four years of my life preparing to die as a young martyr, I could not possibly fathom this which you task me with,”

 

“Must you?” I asked was unable to hide my own smile even though I knew it was wrong.

“Yes brother, come now Ryder we better get a move on.” he replied A wide smile beaming beamed on his handsome face as he mounted his horse. I looked to father Kingston, who nodded and gave me a small smile of his own.

 

“Be safe my son.”

I too hoisted myself onto my own horse. I hated the thought of leaving especially since the chance of returning was were slim, but I knew I must. I looked down the road, coming to terms with my own impending death as best as any man could and smiled down at the priest besides my horse.

“Be well father.And with I said before a gentle stoa of my boots and a quick ‘yah’, I was gone.

 

Sort of Writing tips: Every writer should have a critique partner :)

18 Feb

Been a bit slack with posting lately, between work and my newest Ms, I’ve had no time to slip in a post.

tumblr_mtgcf3WC4r1s9gzhqo1_500

Today I want to talk about Critique Partners or CP’s.

Until this year I have never had a CP, other than Lauren, though I don’t think she counts.  I was always to weary to try such thing. I have looked at the local listing for critique groups and I’ve wanted to join, never worked up the nerve. So I did the next best thing, I got a CP. A couple in fact, and they are amazing.

I think getting your work Critiqued should be a critical step in you path of writing a novel. I don’t care how good you are there is always room for improvement and even the most unskilled CP can be very helpful. They give you a take on your work that you don’t see yourself. They are a fresh set of eyes, and can greatly help point out flaws, mistakes, flow issues and many things that you might be to invested to pick up yourself.

Recently my CP, who is lovely, we email all the time and I have come to think of her as a friend, picked up something that seems so obvious now, but before she pointed it out I hadn’t even noticed it was there, it was a flaw that wouldn’t have been overlooked.  Since I started working with my CP my MS has improved 100% I have really found it that helpful.

It’s not only that you get awesome help, but you also get to read what your CP’s working on and return that favour. By reading other’s work you really start to see how your own can be improved, and it helps you both learn as you go along.

There are some cons though; most of them I’m sure anyone who writes already will be pretty familiar with this. Sometime CP’s will say thing you don’t want to hear, and putting your work out there is hard, I know, and not every comment you receive will be positive.  Some people can be mean, people can be harsh and after spending, months, or years on something to have it tore down before your eyes sucks. As a writer you need thick skin, you need to be able to roll with the punches, deal with the critics, and improve.  Once you get past all the negativity the comments might just be helpful.

I experienced this before, I had one of my CP’s (well ex-CP’s now) tell me that there was no way I could ever be a serious writer because of my dyslexia, and that I should give up and find a new dream. That being said to me hurt, it also really pissed me off. So my grammar sucks, yeah I know it does, but I’m doing all I can to improve myself.  Each time I pick up a mistake that I have made, I learn for next time. So what, it’s going to be harder for me than others. So what, I will have to work harder than to ensure little things are fixed. So what I have dyslexia. That does not change my passion, my creativity, or my ability to create a good story.  You know what that taught me? it taught me there will be people out there that only want to knock you down, but they are the reason why you shouldn’t give up.

I didn’t, I had a bad experience but I got new CP’s, made some awesome new friends, and improved my writing with the help of people who know what I’m going through. They have been there, they know what it’s like and sometime they can be the best support group, a writer needs.

So while this might not be a tip, I really would suggest you try peer critiquing, because in the long run you won’t regret it.

On another note, I’m always looking for CP’s, so if you’re a writer and want to give it a go give me a shout. I’m always happy to help 🙂

shan

Writing tips: (kinda!) advantages of planning plots against/ free writing

16 Jan

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As writers, we know that a good idea can come from anywhere.  They often start small, and then build into entire worlds, full of people, places and adventures that we could not have even imagined originally.  I’ll admit, not every idea is a keeper, and ones that originally sound amazing don’t always work out. It’s tough to find that one idea that is original, yet you like enough to want to invest of much of yourself into to it, because let’s face it, essentially you are playing god. The world that you create as a fiction writer, is entirely you’re own. You control the seasons, the weather, the landscape, the time and the people. Every little aspect is under your control, just waiting for you to manipulate it.  I think it’s safe to say us writers, have a bit of a god complex, we do. We love the control of writing, the freedom of it. So when you have so much control over you’re fictional world is it better to decided everything that happens in it even before it’s created or is it better to let it create itself?

I’m divided on this writing cannot work without structure, it cannot work without that one idea, it cannot work without those memorable characters, and it cannot work without the twist and turns that keep people reading. I know there is actually so much more to the process than that, but I’m talking really basically.  So in a general way even the most unstructured writers still have structure. Personally I’m the type that likes to see where my world takes me, I know what I want to happen,  and where I want it to go but how it gets there depends on the world I have created. I think its called character driven writing, but the idea of planning every chapter before I get to it blows me away.

Recently as I tend to do I was looking for writing books on line, I like writing books, everyone is different and I’ve learnt that there is always something that you can learn. I was looking for books on self-editing, because as I have previously mentioned I’m dyslexic, so my grammar isn’t always what it should be. I often see and read what I want to see and read, so I don’t often pick up my own mistakes. I was hoping these books could help me a little because as I said there is always something to learn. Anyways, I come across a lot of books on plot planning and chapter planning and the concept of it blew me away.  I wondered how could someone plan out every chapter right from the beginning.

So I decided to try it.  Initially I was going to post it with this post but as soon as I started, I realized that that was not a good idea at all. To anyone but me the thing would have been total nonsense, my structured plan lacked structure and eventually looked like the ramblings of a mad women sprawled all over a word document.  However, even if that thing never sees the light of day again, my idea of, two brothers, a girl and a arrange marriage, has turned into one of the most epic story lines I have ever come up with. Have I planned out any’s chapter? No not really. Do I know what’s going to happen, of course; probably better than I would have had I not done it. So as far as planning goes I’m somewhere in the middle. I liked the structure it gave me, in having to plan it all out first but for me getting to what I want to happen is the fun part, and I never really know how it will turn out until it does.

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Happy writing!

shan

The affect of crappy voices on fictional boyfriends :P

1 Jan

wow sorry it’s been so long since our last post!

it’s a hectic time of year and I haven’t had time to sit down and write anything, not even a small post 😦

thankfully the lovely Lauren  has come to my rescue with this small post she has been thinking about.

i hope you all  have a awesome Christmas and a amazing new year, (i know i did!)

shan

Ok guys so you know how when you start to read a new book and your brain builds this image of the characters, what they look like and how their voices sound. Well I was recently listening to an audio book and the whole time I kept thinking that the main characters voice was just wrong, it wasn’t even close to what he sounded like in my head and it kind of made me dislike the poor guy. Now I’m not sure if this has ever happened to anyone else, but it was like my brain didn’t want to listen to the audio book readers voice and after a while I just couldn’t stick with the story because I was so distracted by his voice. I mean come on the main character was supposed to be a twenty something fit guy, not someone who sounded out of breath and pushing half a century! Ok that’s probably a bit mean, with a different book and an older character it might have worked, but with this book it almost destroyed my image of my newest fictional crush! :\

So anyway enough complaining not all audio books are like this one. I have listened to a lot, that have both an interesting story and readers (narrators?) whose voices are well matched to the characters. I honestly think that when the reader enjoys the story, it then becomes more enjoyable for the listener too. Reading the book in a monotonous voice with no emotion, isn’t what I would consider a job well done. Not that I would ever be able record books for a living, I would probably be fired for yelling at characters who do or say stupid things.

Clearly the author sometimes has an image in mind when they create a character that is totally different to what the reader sees. An example is Shannon’s book Into the Night, for some reason I always see Damien with dark brown hair, no matter how many times Shan tells me it’s dirty blonde. It even says that multiple times in the book! I guess what I’m trying to say is everyone is going to have their own impression of a character, so we will never fully agree on one voice or one ‘look’, do not get me started on book to movie transformations!

Anyway like I said we are all different so that is why I bought the paperback version of  offending audio book. I read it, enjoyed it but sadly my fictional bf has now been replaced by the hero of my newest read. What can I say I love a good book 😀

Lauren

Ryder’s Story: Chapter Nineteen

12 Sep

Chapter Nineteen

I dragged myself to my feet and moved much faster than I should have toward the door. Never in my life had I ever or would I ever run from anything; but I ran then. I stopped well into the centre of the thankfully deserted town and paced back and forward in a daze, with no idea how I was meant to fix this. It was not meant to be here; demons couldn’t make it into this plane, it just was not possible. Yet here it was and if opened that portal would unleash hell upon the earth and I had no idea how to stop it happening. I knew the lore surrounding demons, exorcisms, protection and such; but I had never actually seen one. I didn’t know anyone who had; demons were rare and could only be called here for a short time. All of that would change with an active portal. Something like that does not just appear without cause, I knew that someone must have triggered it and that could be for only one reason, they wanted to open it. I could not let that happen, which brought me right back to the same damn question, what the hell was I going to do?  The muffled sound of footsteps came from further down the road. Two sets, seeming far too light to belong to adults but I knew without turning to look that they indeed did. Christine and Ryan skidded to a stop near me.  As silently as they could move at times, not even they could manage it while running.

“What the fuck?” Ryan’s voice was breathy; he was bent, hands on his knees, puffing as he tried to catch his breath. I turned to face them, both had flushed cheeks and heaving chests but Christine was evidently in much better shape than her brother. Her voice sounded normal when she spoke and held only the slightest hint of worry.

“What was it Ryder?” she asked stepping forward; I shot them both an alarmed look. Surely they must have seen Enochian before, even if it was from some crack pot prophet; the alphabet that we knew of was greater than the one others knew of today but surly their great grandfather must have at least shown them. I had grown up looking at it, so he must have as well. Though they would have never figured out what the inscription said; I had only because of old memories and the magic that still lingered within my veins from Eldrin’s enchantment all those years ago. If given the time I might have been able to read every last engraving on those walls, but I hadn’t and I was glad, because I honestly did not want to know.

“Do you know what that was?” I asked just to be sure.  Perhaps they already knew and expected me to know how to stop it from being opened.

“No, we don’t, it’s why we needed you. You were trained by the monastery we though you would have a greater understanding.” Ryan said, finally catching his breath. I stared at them both.

“Well you are correct, I do know what that was, but trust me when I say there is nothing we can do about it.” I was not sure if I could trust the pair enough to tell them. Did I think they were going to unleash hell on earth? No. Could I trust them with the information that it was possible? I wasn’t sure. I knew I had to tell them there was no getting out of it.

“What is it?” demanded Ryan in an agitated tone and Christine shot him a warning look. She seemed to understand that my fear was not something to take lightly.

“Please Ryder,” she said quietly and I nodded.

“That thing is the gateway to hell, and as long as it’s in this realm it can be opened,”

Panic, as I’d expected, ensued; but surprisingly enough they had an idea and though I hated to admit it, it was brilliant. After a hushed but frantic conversation, they revealed they knew a powerful warlock, the kind I was used to; who could hide it. It was not a permanent solution but it was a start. We all figured that it should at least buy us time. Assuming they needed to be able to access the gate to crack it open. It took a few days to get in contact with their warlock but thankfully he could do the spell without being at the site, so as soon as the moon rose the following night the gate was gone.  All traces of its evil masked and I knew there was no way anyone was getting that gate open anytime soon.  That being said it wasn’t impossible but it was the best we could do, until we somehow figured out how to seal it off for good.

You would think the gate to hell being on earth and within riding distance would be pretty hard to forget but really the more time that passed the further back into my mind it was pushed. Having helped the siblings, they decided that I would become their personal test subject and seemed to follow me despite my best efforts to try and lose them. After a few weeks I stopped trying. Ryan, sadly enough did not get more pleasant, though he did become tolerable and Christine? Well, she was very tolerable indeed. With their help I got closer than I ever had to the vampires that were plaguing the old west so I guess they were not completely useless. In fact if I was being honest in the two weeks I had known them I had kind of come to rely on them, as odd as that might sound.

I stood at the edge of the bar, next to a bored looking Ryan, both siblings seemed to have gotten used to the fact I was a vampire and even seemed to accept I wasn’t in the habit of hurting people unless I had to, though as far as I could tell I was the only vampire this applied to.  I’d soon found that Ryan did not drink, it was hardly surprising. He was far too smart to poison his mind with alcohol; whereas I was not. I sipped the drink in my hand, trying not to grimace at the taste. Gin tasted horrid at the best of times but seeing as I was tired, hungry and once again recovering from one of Ryan’s tests; which usually involved me being injured in some way; it tasted much like dirt. He sighed loudly looking around, Christine was hustling a couple of eager looking chaps out of their hard earned money off in the corner and I smiled at her fondly. Ryan cleared his throat, obviously having caught me staring, as I often did without even meaning to.

“Dream on Ryder, you have no chance,” he said turning his bored gaze to me and I couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

“I know”

“Then why pine? It’s pointless,” I turned to Ryan, I wasn’t usually one to speak of such things but  sadly enough, due to my science experiment status, Ryan probably knew me better than anyone ever had.  He had seen just about every side of me and could read me well enough to almost be able to guess what I was thinking. It was disturbing but Christine assured me he could read just about anyone after he’d spent a little time with them.

“Haven’t you ever just wanted a girl solely because you cannot have her?” I asked, calling to mind all the loves in my life. I should never have been allowed any of them yet it hadn’t stopped me.

“No, I do not conquest, pine or court, romantic relationships are a pointless waste of time and totally irrational.” He replied, his voice betraying his usual cold clinical nature. I sighed giving up; he’d given me the same speech about friendship and trust. It seemed there was only one other person this man had ever connected with and that was Christine, even then it was not what I would call a usual sibling relationship; though I had no right to judge. My brother had my family killed before he turned me into a vampire, so you know, pot calling and all. “Besides we are only here because you keep whining about how weak you are living on animal blood,” I looked at him in contempt.

“I do not whine,” I… well, I do not know what it was precisely, but it was certainly not a whine. He raised an eye brow and shook his head.

“Will you just pick a victim and get it over with.”

“I wish you wouldn’t say it like that,” I growled but he did not seem to want to indulge me with conversation anymore. Ryan was like that, he was only social when he deemed it necessary. I glanced around, first catching the eye a working girl, then Christine. I knew which I preferred. My gaze lingered on hers a moment longer than it should have before I walked dutifully toward the working girl.

“Why do you pick working girls?” asked Ryan, trying to steady his horse, the animal was panicking because I walked beside it. The bar was not all that far from our camp, so Christine hadn’t bothered with hers but Ryan wasn’t one to let such foolishness stop him. His horse was being irrational and would come to its senses eventually, or so he said. Sometimes I truly wondered how his mind worked.

“Because it is simpler that way” I replied and he nodded.

“I wonder. Do vampires feel guilt? No of course you don’t,” I looked to him while Christine laughed. This is what often happened, Ryan would go off on a tangent with a theory about vampires which I would eventually correct, while being annoyed at his bluntness. Christine spent most of her time laughing at the two of us.  “You mustn’t, because if you did, you would not do what you do,” he said and I rolled my eyes.

“I can’t speak for others but I do indeed feel guilt. I do not enjoy having to live off others anymore than anyone would. I do what I have to, it has nothing to do with my emotions what so ever,” he nodded slowly.

“Enhanced survival instincts, is that feeling stronger now or when you are living off of animals,” I considered that.

“Animals,” I replied and he smiled,

“Curious, very curious indeed. Can I have a blood sample?”

“When we get back to camp. If I have any left,” I sighed, like it was an everyday thing, because with Ryan it was.

“Marvellous, I’ll ride ahead and set up, do hurry vampire,” he said, nudging the horse gently with his heels; it took off much faster than he expected, grateful to get away from me. I stepped closer to Christine since it was only the two of us now. The light was fading fast and we still had a long walk ahead of us. I had told both Christine and Ryan that there was no need for them to treat me as though I was a human, but as soon as it came clear that if I was to walk everywhere, Christine would do the same. I was glad for the company; I’d been getting accustomed to it, even after spending so long alone. She was wary around me tonight and I knew it was the fact I’d practically begged them for human blood. Though I had not gotten down on my knees, I had asked very nicely, repeatedly and that was unusual for me.

“Beautiful night” I observed stupidly.

“It is” she agreed and silence fell again. I did not want it to be like this, though honestly it usually was. The reality was harsh, she just did not like me; despite that fact we had been… intimate, more than once now. It seemed the only thing we could do that did not feel strange, which was infuriating. Times had changed but I was too old fashioned for that kind of relationship. Once, maybe twice I could have handled, but the way we were was not something I wanted.

“Christine?” I said, the word leaving my mouth before I could stop it. One of these days I would learn to control myself. She looked to me, her profile beautiful in the fading light and I was lost for words. Damn it! She waited patiently for me to continue but when I didn’t she pried just a little.

“What is it?” I fought for a convincing lie; as usual I avoided the issue.

“Ryan is very strange,” I spoke softly, saying the first thing that came to mind. She looked baffled but smiled.

“You noticed that huh?”  She chuckled and I shrugged.

“Might have crossed my mind when I saw his utter joy at shooting me in the face, or when he decided to amputate my arm to see if whole limbs could regenerate, or…” she cut me off with a laugh. I rolled the offending shoulder; it still didn’t feel quite right. Turns out that no, they do not regrow, but if put back in place, with enough blood, they would heal.

“Ryan likes experiments, he’s always been more of a researcher but isn’t that a part of what the order used to do.” I nodded indeed it was. Though I had never seen myself doing anything of the sort, I assumed that I would eventually start training others to fight as I grew older; whereas Dashiell had always figured he’d be teaching lore and dissecting monsters. I think part of my fondness toward Ryan was because he reminded me of the Dashiell I had grown up with. Though the two were completely different, still there was something there. I nodded not really wanting to talk about Ryan, but I’d picked the subject.

“He’s fascinated by monsters, it is a good but dangerous trait for people like us to have,”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               it was her turn to nod.

“Aren’t we all just a little,” the look she shot me was coy, her eyes hooded by thick black lashes. I swallowed hard, my mouth suddenly dry; I hated when she did that, I wasn’t sure she was even aware of what she was doing. I didn’t respond and we walked quietly a little while longer. Tension from things left unsaid hung heavy between us. I’d never had this problem before, Christine was different. Nothing that I usually used worked on her. Not the vampire scent, not English charm, nothing, it seemed she was immune to it all. Without realising she had closed the space between us while I was lost in my own head. I felt her soft warm hand brush my cold one and out of instinct I twined my fingers with hers. It didn’t feel wrong but I think it shocked both of us that I had actually done it. She didn’t pull her hand away; in fact I felt her arm brush against mine as she stepped closer. I wasn’t sure why I was so awkward around this girl, maybe I was losing my touch or maybe I had spent too long alone. It was clear that she was as unsure how to act around me, as I was her and it really sucked.

“Ryder. Do vampires feel love?” she asked suddenly and I answered with absolute certainty.

“Yes,” I was sure that was true, though I only had lingering memories of it. It was different now though, as soon as I found myself growing fond of someone I usually cut all ties. I wasn’t sure I liked what it meant any more. Ryan was right about one thing, love was irrational, and for a vampire it was dangerous.

“I believe you,” she said it as though before I’d confirmed it she had been uncertain.  I stopped walking and drew her into me. Neither of them would tell me but I knew something had happened to these two that had involved vampires, something that had sparked their interest, and it was not something good.  I brought my lips to hers; a gentle reassurance that I would never do anything to harm her; her lips parted. We might not have known where we stood, but our bodies had an agreement and our minds accepted that.  It felt right to hold her and she barely flinched when my fangs emerged and brushed her lip. The Peterson’s were the first humans I didn’t have to hide from and the last for a very long time. We didn’t break apart until a horse skidded to a stop nearby, both of us drew weapons; I knew it would be quicker to go primal and rip into our interloper than to shoot them, but I was a civil monster after all. Then he spoke and I knew the voice even before I got a good look at him.

“Ryder thank god, you are a hard man to find,” I pulled away and lowering my weapon as I stepped toward Jeremiah and Charlie, Christine did not move.

“Hello boy,” I greeted stroking my horse’s neck fondly, he nickered happily. Jeremiah looked amused but didn’t dismount or comment on my lack of greeting toward him.

“Ryder do you know who this is?” exclaimed Christine, her voice full of disbelief and anger.  I nodded and looked to her.

“Yes, he is an acquaintance,” I said coolly as she narrowed her eyes.

“No. He’s an outlaw, and a very dangerous man,” she snapped pulling back the hammer on her gun. Jeremiah raised his hands in surrender but didn’t look afraid.

“Now lookie ‘ere darlin’ don’t go doin’ something we will all regret,” he drawled. I turned to Christine, reaching out and wrapping a hand around the barrel.

“He is no more dangerous than we are, maybe less so in fact,” I reassured her and she let me lower the gun without firing it.  Jeremiah did not look happy but he remained silent.

“I suppose,” she said and I looked to Jeremiah.

“What is it Jeremiah?” I asked and he looked stricken for a second.

“It’s the dang vamps, they took my Kelly!” I motioned for him to dismount, taking hold of the reins myself. I led Charlie toward Christine and passed her the reins.

“Take Charlie, ride ahead and warn Ryan so he doesn’t shoot Jeremiah on sight,” I raised an eyebrow hoping she would understand what I was trying to relay in my next sentence. “And tidy the place up a little there are some things Jeremiah isn’t accustomed to.”  Christine swung herself up onto the horse and rode off with a nod.

“So that’s your woman?” asked Jeremiah as we started walking I shook my head.

“She is another bounty hunter, like myself” I replied, he started to say something else but I redirected him before he got the chance. “When did they take Kelly, Jeremiah?”

“Two nights ago, took her sister too. I rode into town to find the place in shambles. Three girls killed, two missing. They said they were unrelated, animal attacks, but I know better. I ain’t never seen any animal make those kind of bite marks. A guy I used to run with sent word that the same thing happened in the town over from him. It can’t be more than fifty miles from here. I came looking for you as soon as I seen them girls’ bodies. I want to help; I have to save my Kelly,” I nodded in understanding but I had no intention of letting him help. Skilled gunman he might be; trained hunter, he was not.  Though I did not plan on telling him that, I knew it would be more trouble than it was worth. We walked at a pace that was easy for me, even though I should have had trouble keeping up with his long legged stride. I didn’t of course and chances were I could hold this speed longer than he ever could. His body hummed with tension, the scent of fire; I’d grown used to from the Peterson’s blood; caused me to stop in my tracks. Suddenly I realised what the fiery scent was. It was inactive which was probably why I had not recognised it immediately, it was magic. This was not like the all-consuming magic that was out there. It was not what you would feel from a warlock, a fey, or even the original vampires. It was weak and as I said inactive, like it was cast upon their very blood, a part of their very make up without being a part of them at all.  It was likely this magic was what kept them from being influenced by other magic, providing them with advantages they would need to be part of my world without being one of the supernatural. Magic that caused a strange fire to burn through their blood; a magic I could not explain. The Peterson’s had a reasonable connection to the supernatural world. The monasteries had kept many warlocks among their ranks, it was very possible they could be descended distantly from warlock blood, though unlikely.  Someone may have cast it upon them, for protection, such things were not unheard of and with the connections they had I found it much more likely. Though Jeremiah was puzzling, he was born and raised in this country, which lacked the deep seated supernatural history of my homeland. I had no doubt that there were those who knew of magic, that they had a history but it was not like ours. The natives harboured the only magic I knew of here and where as it was possible that he had been descended from a Sharman or had it cast upon him, it was unlikely, he did not know of our world and I believe until he had meet me he’d had no idea such things were possible. I knew I could inquire about it with the Peterson’s, in fact I would but the idea left me wheeling, wondering what else these humans would be capable of. In my bewilderment, I had not noticed that Jeremiah stop two passing horseman and hold them at gun point, it was not until the sound of a gun firing, a body hitting the ground and a horse whinnying all one after the other pulled me back to the present. Another shot rang out and Jeremiah thrust a set of reins toward me, as he ran after the now panicking horse. The smell of blood filled the air and I was shocked. Jeremiah hoisted himself onto the horse and calmed it with skilled ease. He fixed me with an impatient glare. The horse I held pulled away from me, rearing and fighting my un-breaking hold. I did not consider how that must have looked because I wasn’t sure what had just happened.

“Come on partner, we need to ride,” he said his horse full of un-restfulness. I stilled the horse long enough to swing onto its back. I spurred it on but was quickly thrown off, landing hard on my back the frightened horse shot past Jeremiah as he rode off, leaving me in the dust. The fall had hurt but only a little, I was almost sure I had broken my back. I could feel it healing and the blood of the men Jeremiah had shot was starting to smell irresistible. Jeremiah turned his horse, stopping beside me; he leant down and held out a hand. His horse was agitated by my presence, he settled it with a skill that I did not possess and I climbed on behind him. I had never ridden with another man and I was unsure where to hold on. The horse was unsettled and there were only so many falls I could handle before I did something that only fresh blood could heal. “You sure have a way with animals partner,” he glanced at me over his shoulder.

“Yes indeed I do,” I agreed. He gave me another look over his shoulder.

“You should probably hold on partner, I have no intention of letting this filly throw us off,” as if to punctuate that the horse reared up, then bucked and out of instinct I clung to the other man. Jeremiah didn’t seem the least bit worried about either the horse or my arms around his waist and he spurred the beast on. It took off and he called over his shoulder as I hung on for dear life wondering how the human was doing a better job than I was. “I trust you know where we are going?” I nodded and leant forward so he could hear me over the rushing wind.

“Yes, head north,”