October, Halloween, and Vampires….

October, Halloween, and Vampires….
A Guest Post by  Tamela Quijas

Hmmm, the mere thought is scrumptious, on all counts.

I never really paid attention to vampires prior to a few years ago.  Up until about 2005, I had steered clear of the entire genre-inducing vamp.  Honestly, did you ever look at the men from the helicons of Hollywood?  Take a gander at the images of Nosferatu, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, the vamps in Van Helsing, or even Mel Brook’s Dead and Loving It.  You’re stomach will churn, you’ll clutch your pillow close, and you’ll close your eyes in horror.  On the other hand, in Mel Brook’s case, you’ll laugh until you can’t breathe.  Neither one is sexy or very appealing.

Granted, if I were male, I would have loved every second of breast revealing, fang gnashing, gossamer dressed creature of the undead.  There’s a ton of buxom beauties in various states of undress in just about every horror film ever created.  Remember Salma Hayek in Dust Till Dawn?  I think she made a million male fans with one shot of her…ample assets.

Being female, the options were nothing more than gruesome, vomit inducing, and disgusting.

With the turn of the new century, Gerard Butler stepped into the role of Dracula 2000.  Yes, I know, the movie was a total bomb but….bear with me, ladies….have you really looked at him as a vampire?

Damn!  It was about time the cinema decided to put a HOT man in the leading role of the king of the undead!

So, 2005 sent that little spiral of hmmmm running through my mind.  The undead male could be just as sexy as the female creatures of the night and just as lethal in his entirely rippling muscle, penetrating gaze way….

And it was nice to see one with a bit more of a toned torso than Gary Oldman.

Let’s fast forward to what inspired me to write about the secret world of blood and passion…

Blame it all on Mick St. John, CBS’ golden boy vampire from Moonlight.  He was a vamp with a heart—hungering for blood and hating every moment of it.

What was it about Alex O’Laughlin that caused him to have millions of adoring fans?

It was those soul-searching eyes, an everlasting love that would endure eternity, and his deliciously wicked undead charm.  Mick didn’t need to use any of his powers to change a person’s mind, to alter their perception of events.  He was Mick…pure despite the evil curse and woman that had stolen his soul, repentant despite his damnation, and an all out good-looking good guy.

Yeah, that’s what I’ll call it…It was his charm, his finesse, and his outright humanity.

Did I happen to mention he was something else to look at?  Smooth, elegant…goodness, the list could go on for hours!  Just finding all the adjectives to describe him makes me wipe at my chin…LOL

So, like a million other star struck fans who watch rerun after rerun of Mick and Beth, I became addicted to the entire vampire legend.  Before I knew it, my own vampires were spiraling from my overactive mind, and they were the type that made me cringe in disgust.  Vampires could be a little bit more human in personality. 

They could care, ache, and feel…

They could be filled with regret, longing, and a desperation that could last centuries…

Above all, they could love someone for eternity…

The Russian vampire Demetri emerged from the depths of those musing, inspired by Moonlight, seeking his own stalker in Blood of the Beast. 

One tale led to another, as only vampires can do among mortals, and The Blood Chronicles were born. 

Blood of the Beast and Blood Moon are available at 1 Place for Romance, All Romance EBooks, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords.

Would you Become a Vampire, if given the Opportunity?

Vampires have always intrigued me. There was just something about those mysterious creatures of the night.  Unlike werewolves who hunted in the full moon, ripping their victims to shreds (Ouch), or Zombies (Shudder… I hate zombies) who stalked you for your brains and ate the flesh away from your bones, vampires would lull you into a stupor, mesmerizing you with their gorgeous eyes. Sometimes, for the lucky ones, they made you, like them.

I think that last bit is the most interesting part. Becoming a vampire and being granted immortality would be pretty cool.  Never to have to worry about sickness and death. To live and experience the world as it changes and grows.

It’s an enticing idea, no?

Of course if they were real, and you did turn, it wouldn’t be all glitz and glamour. Reality is never as fun as fantasy. Sure you could have your immortal lover forever and see the world grow all around you. That’s all fine and good, but mixed in there would be a pretty harsh reality to deal with.  There is that one pesky thing about killing and drinking blood that might be a problem.

And there’s the rub.

Could you do it?

I don’t think I could. Well, let me add the caveat. I don’t think I could do it willingly.

It’s a theme I touch on in my Immortalis series. My main character, Alyssa is turned without knowing all that it entails. It’s something she struggles with. Killing is not something a normal person considers; but, if it is what you have to do to survive, you have to find a way to cope. 

As a victim of a horrible mugging, Alyssa finds hunting down criminals as a way to deal with her need for blood. If she has to kill, then it will help stop bad people from harming others. It works for her, but not every vampire follows that method of thinking. Each vampire has to deal with killing and death in their own way. 

So the question remains, and I open up the floor to you readers: Would you willingly turn vampire, knowing it meant you had to kill for blood? How would you cope? Whom would you hunt?

Can Bats be Sexy?

Can Bats be Sexy?
A guest post by Nina Croft

Most speculative fiction has some base in myths and legends, and vampires are certainly no different. But writers have a tendency to take what we want from the myths and disregard what we don't require (and make up a few bits unique entirely to us at the same time).
One of the biggest myths surrounding vampires is the whole bat thing. Vampires and bats just go together. Yet while I've written quite a few vampire stories, I've largely ignored the whole bat connection. Which is odd, because I love bats—they're fascinating creatures. My tutor in my first year at University was actually one of the world's experts in bats, and he passed some of his enthusiasm on to me.

But we demand a certain level of hotness from our vampire heroes, and can bats really be sexy?

So let's take a look at bats and their habits.

There are a number of species known as 'vampire bats'. The most common is Desmodus rotundus, which is found in Mexico and parts of central and South America. Spanish explorers first discovered these blood-drinking bats in the sixteenth century, but they weren't called vampires back then. In fact that name derived from the vampire myth not the other way around.

Bats have been associated with the supernatural for a long time, but it was Bram Stoker's, Dracula, who first brought bats and vampires together in the public's eyes. Stoker was also the first to suggest that vampires could shape shift into actual bats—Count Dracula had a habit of disguising himself this way and flapping at windows.

Unlike vampires (who often turn their noses up at furry food) bats feed mostly on the blood of livestock, though they have been known to have a nibble on the odd sleeping human.

Like vampires, they are creatures of the night. They have really good hearing so they can tell when an animal is asleep, and they use infrared radiation to locate blood hotspots on their prey. Once a likely victim is spotted, they land close by and approach on foot. (They are the only bats that can move around easily on land). Up close, they use heat-detecting molecules on their noses to hone in on the blood supply.

If the prey is furry, the bat uses its teeth like a barber's blade to shave away the hairs (maybe this could come in useful if your vampire likes to munch on the odd hairy werewolf). Then it will open the vein with its razor sharp upper incisors. Once the bat has found a vein it can drink up to half its body weight—which isn't actually very much.

They don't suck the blood, but lap it up like a cat drinks cream (I actually like this idea, and I might find my vampires lapping rather than sucking in future!) Their saliva contains an enzyme which acts as an anticoagulant, which prevents the blood drying up so they can lap it for longer (called 'draculin' the enzyme is being researched for use in dissolving blood clots in humans.)

And of course, during the day, bats sleep, though not in coffins. They hang upside down, somewhere away from the sunlight (an image of Keifer Sutherland pops to mind—hanging upside down in a cave in The Lost Boys—I loved that film) and wait for night to fall.

Rico the vampire hero of my recent Sci-fi release, Break Out, is super-cool (when he's not being sizzlingly hot) and I can't see him flapping about or hanging around upside down. But I'm definitely thinking my next vampire might lap up his blood and shave his victims—in fact, I might even go the whole way and have him a bat-shifter.

So what do you think—can bats really be sexy?

About the Author:

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina’s writing mixes romance with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Can the Real Monsters Please Stand up? (A Vent about Vampires and Mainstreaming)

Can the Real Monsters Please Stand up? (A Vent about Vampires and Mainstreaming)
A guest post by Violet W

Excerpt from Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
[She cast a sideways look at Bill, her eyes flicking up and down him with an offensive interest.  Offensive to me at least.
"I haven't seen you in a few months," she said to him, her voice as cool and sweet as his could be.
"I'm mainstreaming," he explained, and she nodded.]
Mainstreaming, according to the True Blood wiki, is defined as "a social movement within the vampire race, in which vampires attempt to integrate themselves into everyday human society."
My definition of mainstreaming is a vampire that’s had its metaphorical balls castrated.

(photo from homorazzi.com)
Vampires, by definition, are predators.  Generally, they survive with good ole fashioned dark-backalley-sucking-humans-dry.  They prowl the streets at night, striking fear into anyone that finds themselves alone, hearing phantom sounds that alert them to their impending doom.

(photo from sbs.com.au)
Unless they mainstream.
In Harris' popular vampire universe, The Sookie Stackhouse Novels or Ball's TV interpretation, True Blood, vampires are out of the coffin.  After the Great Revelation when they revealed themselves to the world, they now claim they want to live among humans since they can survive off of synthetic blood.
While even the politicians like Nan Flanagan talk the talk, but just don't walk the walk, you'd think that I'd be tickled pink.  The joke is really on the simple-minded humans because they're even falling for this charade, right?
(picture from sookieverseblog.com)
But is it really a charade?  The only plausible reason for vampires wanting to come out of the coffin lies in the warm and fuzzy memories of what it was like being human.  Living as a human, as Hoyt and Jessica from True Blood tried out, associating with humans like at Fangtasia, etc. cycles it back around to the vampire with a conscience thing, or even worse, shooting fish in a barrel. 
Personally, that is far from what I think a vampire should be...sexy, not because they open the door for you on a date, but because they’re freaking terrifying.
The whole appeal of vampires to me is the fact that underneath the svelte attraction and syrupy words, they want to eat my face off.  It gets my blood pumping and brings waves of beautiful fear.  But going on a date with a vampire?  Marrying a vampire?  Playing house with a vampire?  I’ll pass.

(photo from mediacomicvine.com)
Vampires are awesome...virtually gods with only a handful of hangups like their allergy to the sun and ability to be killed with pointy things.  Why would we want to dumb them down and chain them to the mediocrity of what it means to be human? 
I scoured my brain for vampires in popular literature that have a little less conscience and a little more bite.  I love Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire because of Lestat.  He killed without apology and delighted in his predatory nature.  Louie’s constant whining was a bore and unfortunately, spawned the ‘vampire with a conscience’.
(photo from fascinationwithfear.blogspot.com)
And that’s more and more what’s coming out these days and it truly sucks.  If being a monster is so inconvenient and heartbreaking, man up like Godric from True Blood and end yourself.  Leave the fun for the real monsters, who rejoice in their monster-ness.  I don’t want to delve into a fantasy world where morality rears its ugly head.  I don’t want my vampires trying to romance their way into their prey's pants.  I want a cold-blooded killer, Michael Myers style that’s just killing and enjoying every moment of it.  That, to me, is way more attractive than playing human and giving me a bouquet of flowers before you bleed me dry.
Mainstreaming and consciences are for pussies...vampires are supposed to rule the night, and scare us shitless.  If you guys can recommend any vampire fare where the vamps aren’t dressing up as humans and sparkling and other nonsense, share it in the comments!

About the Author
I’m an erotica writer living in the Greater Sacramento area, saving the world via taboo tales, one e-reader at a time.  You can connect with me online at http://violetwilliamserotica.wordpress.com or on Twitter at @avioletmuse.

Vampires, the Making of a Monster

Vampires, the Making of a Monster
 A guest post by Alan Ryker.

Not long ago, Katie and I and some other writers had a twitter conversation about different ways to hurt a vampire. Obviously sunlight. Probably a stake through the heart. But what about garlic, silver and crucifixes? The mythos of the vampire is huge. It's so big that when you decide to write about vampires, you need to select your own rule set. Can your vampires enter a home uninvited? Can they cross running water?

Some of these questions can be answered by looking at how powerful your vampires will be. The more powerful a character, the larger the weaknesses a writer should consider giving them to keep them from being overpowering (unless that's the intention). Superman has kryptonite. Batman doesn't need a version of kryptonite because knives and bullets are the equivalent for him.

Another factor is the origin of the monster. Many vampires have an origin based in religion. Vampires who are demonic or have otherwise turned their backs on the Christian God probably have an aversion to crucifixes. If your first vampire was Judas, then there's a good reason for silver to burn his offspring.

What all this highlights is the flexibility of the concept of the vampire, and I think I tested that flexibility almost to the breaking point. In Burden Kansas, vampires aren't magical. That's a rarity. Except for the antagonist, my vampires have more in common with the chupacabra than Dracula. For one thing, they're moving north out of Mexico. But also like the chupacabra they're dumb, they're not super strong, and they prefer livestock to human prey. They're afraid of people and each other, so my challenge wasn't to give them weaknesses, but to figure out how to get an antagonist out of their ranks that could stand toe-to-toe with my protagonist, a hardass old rancher named Keith Harris.

To do that, I took a page from Anne Rice and made vampire blood more potent than human blood, the difference being that it doesn't matter if the vampire being drained is older and more powerful or not. That's why my vampires naturally fear each other. That's why they carve out territories instead of working together. But the combination of vampire blood and a little–okay a lot of meth creates a new breed of vampires who are intelligent, powerful, and capable of tearing one small community apart.

I found that for my small-scale vampire invasion, I didn't need much of the mythos. In Burden Kansas, vampirism spreads when a human is bitten but not killed. Vampires burn in the sun and can be killed by decapitation. The tale is gritty and surprisingly realistic, so my vampires are toned down. But that's the great thing about the vampire mythos, and one reason why it's so popular: it can be molded to fit the agenda of the author. And while vampires may slip from the mainstream at any point, there's always going to be someone writing a fresh, new take on them.

A question for you, the readers. 

How would you make your vampires? What strengths and weaknesses would you give to them?

Buy Burden Kansas at:

Alan Ryker writes good fight scenes because he practices Muay Thai boxing, though not as often as his coach would like. He lives with his wife in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, where he writes both dark and literary fiction, and tests the boundaries of each. He has previously published short fiction in a number of print anthologies and magazines.

Winner Winner!!

Sorry it's a day late. My apologies. But we're ready to announce the winner of Denise Verrico's latest release, My Fearful Symmetry!

And the winner is.....

Samira Fahley
Congratulations!!! You should be receiving an email shortly from Denise with information on how to claim your prize. 
Thanks so much from Denise Verrico and me, Katie Salidas of Written in Blood! 
Stay tuned for more vampire giveaways and posts as Vampire Awareness month continues.