This is a fun thing going around the internet with authors. It’s a set of interview questions that an author answers, then tags two other authors for the next week. As you can guess from the title of this post, it’s about works in progress. So here we go!
1.What is the working title of your next book?
2.Where did the idea come from for the book?
Seeker is the second book in the Contractor series, which takes place in Denver, Colorado. The idea for Seeker is a continuation from the first book in the series titled Pactum. Imagine what the world would be like if tomorrow magic came out into the open. Now picture yourself being a homicide detective having to work a case with magic. That’s the gist of the story world of the Contractor books.
3.What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy for sure, but you can also list them under thrillers or action and adventure.
4.What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
There are so many characters to decide that for. I will choose one of the main characters, Faith Penn. I think for her Ashley Greene would be perfect. And honestly who doesn’t want to see more of Ashley Greene on big screens? Don’t know who she is? Do yourself a favor, and Google her. It’s well worth your time
5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Magic is real…and Murder is too. (That’s the tag line from Pactum, and fit’s the series perfectly.)
6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Thus far, all of my books have been self published. However, I would not turn down the right contract from the right publisher for any of my works.
7.How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This is a hard question. I slacked a bit while working on Seeker, and had a few other projects to get done in that time. It’s ready to go off to the editor right now, and it’s clocking in at around 95k words. If I’m not working on other projects, I can get a book done of that size in a couple of months.
8.What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Honestly, I can’t. I didn’t read any fantasy crime thrillers prior to starting this series. That being said, I can’t tell you what else in the genre I would recommend.
9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?
We have been seeing a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy with very strong romantic tones over the last few years. In many of these stories you will see Vampires, Trolls, Werewolves, and the likes, but the story is ultimately a love story. I think this is great. When I started working on Pactum, then Seeker I wanted to take some of the elements from these story worlds (Vampires, Trolls etc), and put them in a setting other than romance. I wanted there to be a grittiness to the story, with characters that were in over their heads. In short, I needed to meld genres. Crime and thrillers made for the perfect blend of genre’s for these books.
10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I would say if you like fantasy, thrillers or urban fantasy these books are for you. Once again, these aren’t romance novels, and as such you aren’t going to find a lot of gooey scenes with characters contemplating their feelings about another character. There is a lot of action, and there’s definitely a dark undertone to these books. In addition, readers might also be interested to know that when working on character for Pactum and Seeker, I interviewed former members of law enforcement and continue to do so.
Alright folks that was the post. Next week you can check out Collin Earl’s (author of Harmonics), and P.D. Griffith’s (author of the Landon Wicker series) sites for their answers to these same questions.
We live in a day and age where we can do just about anything we want without having to hire someone. Blogs and digital publishing are examples of this. We can use these things to find customers and to keep food on the table. Using social media we can now manage our own advertising and reach consumers we never could before. We are empowered by technology and we don’t need anyone to help us, like a marketing or PR rep, right? Well maybe we do, and maybe we don’t. We might not have to hire a PR rep, but we do need to at least learn some of their skills.
As an indie author I appreciate the marketing aspect around publishing, and a lot of indie authors feel the same. Bloggers and experts have been brow beating new authors about things like cover art, editors, good blurbs and let’s not forget the importance of blogging, for a long time now. So now many of us have cover artist and editors in our phones contacts, but the blogging and blurb copy? We are authors, writing is our job, we got this right? …Wrong, we don’t have this, well most of us don’t. What we have is the ability to write stories that people love and maybe even stories that inspire, but blurb copy? What I’ve been learning over the last few months is that blurbs, bio’s, blogs and all that jazz are a different type of writing than what we already do, and if we don’t learn it, we are going to face an uphill battle.
Copywriting at its core is writing compelling content. It could be an article, a blurb or a thousand other things. We’ve been reading it for years in places like magazines, newspaper articles and on the back cover of books, to name a few. Sometimes this copy can be a hard sale but it doesn’t have to be. It does however have to move the reader. Learning how to write good copy is the base of an effective content marketing campaign (like your author blog). Here are 5 areas that you need to know how to write good copy for:
1) Blogging - Your blog is one of the most powerful tools you have to find new readers and to stay in front of the readers you already have. Are you writing blog posts that people care about? An even more important question to ask is, “are people even reading my posts?”. When you learn principles of copywriting you learn how to write headlines that people are more apt to click on. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at your RSS feed. Scan down the list of blog posts there and see what jumps out at you. If you look at the posts you’ll likely find the ones that jump out at you the most, are some of the bloggers you read the most. Why is that? They know how to write a good headline and a post that is interesting, informative, inspiring or moving in someway. You’ll also likely find a bunch of bloggers that are the opposite of this, that you are subscribed to, but that you don’t truly care about.
2) Social Networks – Twitter, Facebook, Google and any other social network that are out there are a glut of information and status updates for readers. They also have different personalities. Twitter for example only allows you 140 characters, that’s all the space you have to make people want to read whatever you’re posting, be it a blog post or a new book. On Facebook and Google you have more space to use and users generally expect a bit more than 140 characters. If you aren’t writing copy for these sites, your posts aren’t being seen by as many people as they could be.
3) Blurbs – I’m in a workshop about this topic right now and it’s important! After your cover, your book’s blurb has to make that reader want to click the buy button. You can have the greatest cover in history, and still drive away a consumer with a poor blurb. A lot of authors downright suck at writing blurbs. We tend to bore readers and tell them too much, or we try to be clever with our blurb and end up confusing readers. Either way, we lose a sale, and any potential sales we could have gotten from that reader or the people that they might have recommended our book too.
4) Bios – Your author bio is crucial, it connects readers with you. Does everyone read your bio? No, of course not, but a lot of people do. If you seem like a stick in the mud then readers probably won’t care about you. They want to feel confident that you are able to write a story they will enjoy, and a story that is worth their hard earned money.
5) Ads – “I don’t want to sound like a sales rep,” authors say right before they blast their network with a request for people buy their new book. Come on, we’ve all done it and some of us do it too much. Learning how to write good ad copy will help your ads to be more effective and less annoying to people (this doesn’t mean you should constantly be plugging your book).
“But I don’t have time to learn another skill!”, you say and I feel you. As Indie authors we have a lot of things we have to learn, and sometimes it can be overwhelming, but this doesn’t have to be. We don’t have to be copywriting masters from the word go. I know I’m not. I’m just starting to learn about this, and how to apply it in my blog and social network habits. Here is a link to a site I found (in a blog post by a writer who knows how to write good copy). The site is called copyblogger.com and they have a large amount of easy to digest resources. Another thing you can do to help learn how to write good copy is to study those who are already doing it. That blog that you always find yourself reading because they just have such good stuff, well look at what they are doing and apply it to your own life.
There is no doubt in my mind that if you are a writer or have any other web based business, you need to learn how to be a good copywriter, or you may find it hard to put food on the table. So now here is my call to action…What are all of your thoughts about copywriting? Are there any resources that you would recommend or is copywriting just a waste of time?
Hello everyone! Sorry I haven’t been blogging as much over the last week or so, I have been crazy busy. But, fear not I will be getting back to a regular blog schedule soon. On Sunday I will be posting an interview with Joseph Lallo author of Deacon. I have planned out a series of videos showing you the features of Scrivener that I use and like the most within my basic workflow. For more about Scrivener please check out my post, “The Hammer of Writing”.
I have been making a lot of progress on Seeker, which is the second book in the Contractor series, and I had a meeting with Street Light Graphics this week in which we talked about the cover for the book. In other Contractor related news, Pactum has gotten several great reviews lately. One on Star Fisher’s site Bibliophilic Book Blog and one from Jovon Tucker over at Books 2 Buzz. Thank you both for those wonderful reviews. On that note if you’re looking for good places to find new books I would recommend checking with book bloggers. There are thousands of them out there and there are blogs that cater to every type of reader. They are a great place to go to find new reads.
Other things I’ve been working on include learning a lot more about web development, which should mean new sites for both the Contractor and Legon series. I’m not too sure what to put on these sites yet, but I am leaning towards having character profiles and other back story items. If you have anything that you would like to see on the sites or have any suggestions please email me at Nick (at) legonbook (dot) com or leave a comment. I’d also love to hear what all of you think of the short stories that I have been working on. A few of you have said that you’d like to see shorts in the Legon world and they are something that I am planning on working on in the future.
Some of you may remember my post about New Year’s resolutions. I am happy to report that I have done well with the vast majority of my resolutions, with the exception of yoga, BUT I haven’t lost my drive yet. I have been getting ready for showcase at the dance studio I go to and haven’t been able to work on yoga quite yet, but starting next Friday I am going to start going to a class
That’s a basic update on life and my work in general. Again, I apologize for not being as up to date with the blog as I should be. Watch for more posts to come and also keep an eye out for this months giveaway book. Thank you all and I hope you have a fantastic weekend.
Society still finds itself reeling from magic coming out into the open. As the world comes to grips with the fact that old legends are true, Homicide Detective Alison Kaur still has a job to do. After the corpse of William Lanner is found, Alison must delve into the ugly world of prostitution, gangsters and murder. All while she and her partner deal with the dangers of Mages, Werewolves, Succubi and others. Will Alison be able to track down the killer of William Lanner? Or will she become a victim herself?
Gabriel Decor waited for the car to hit the ground with a grinding crash before turning to look back at the two detectives, one in awe, the other in stupefied fear. He spoke to Faith. “I’ve got this.” She nodded understanding that she was not to assist.
Gabriel turned back to the other Paladins. Tracy didn’t look all that shocked, though she did look apprehensive. Keith, on the other hand, looked appalled that Gabriel had deflected two attacks. I told you I was an Ark, he thought.
Tracy didn’t look to be a moron like her companion, but still Gabriel didn’t want the fight to last long. Keith obviously didn’t care about what he damaged; Gabriel would deal with him first.
Gabriel tapped into his Vis, power rushing into his body. He closed his eyes, feeling it infuse him, Vis saturated the air around him, too faint for the other Paladins to see, but with it he could see them perfectly. They were like silhouettes, their bodies a sharp contrast in Gabriel’s cloud of Vis. Tracy and Keith’s own Vis left a shadowy wake that Gabriel could see without effort. Had they had a Seeker, he wouldn’t have been able to do this. Stupid.
Gabriel opened his eyes letting Vis flow from his body, as he was wrapped in a cocoon of amethyst light. Tracy’s eyes hardened, her grip on Dolor visibly tightening, her corneas turned emerald and her body burst with green Vis, licking around her like translucent flames. Dolor’s edge glowed with Vis. Keith’s eyes turned orange, his body enveloping in a smaller cocoon of Vis. He can’t control his Vis output yet. Keith wouldn’t take Gabriel long and he could focus on Tracy, giving her the respect of fighting one on one.
Gabriel pushed with Vis, sending himself in the air, power gushing into Iram. He poured Vis into his body and mind, making time slow and his mind race, his limbs tensed with Vis-induced strength. His eyes and ears became stronger. Keith was rushing up at Gabriel with his sword pulled back. Gabriel swung Iram out with a casual flick. Metal clanged as the two swords glanced off each other. Gabriel twisted Iram, moving himself to the side to parry a thrust from Tracy.
Behind him, Gabriel could sense Keith, his sword’s silhouette rushing at Gabriel’s back. Gabriel waited until the last moment, Celeritate. He moved out of the way from Keith’s attack coming alongside the young man at the speed of lightning. Gabriel flexed Vis in the back of his right hand swinging it at Keith’s exposed side. “Rumpo,” he said as his hand met Keith’s side. Gabriel could feel the thin layer of wards around Keith buckle and with it the effects of his shattering spell. Gabriel’s hand didn’t even register the breaking ribs beneath his touch. Keith cried out, turning away from Gabriel and exposing his back. Gabriel brought the butt of Iram’s handle down on Keith, this time his shoulder blade making an audible crack. Keith’s orange Vis faltered a bit as he plummeted back to earth.
All this happened in the space of a few breaths and Gabriel moved out of the way of one of Tracy’s attacks, Iram catching the edge of Dolor in a block. He blocked a few more blows from Dolor before finally using Iram in an attack. Gabriel lashed out at Tracy, swinging at her left side. She barely blocked Iram and then said, “Celeritate,” becoming a green blur as her speed increased. Within the mist of Vis and using his increased senses, he again swung Iram to where Tracy would be. She tried to avoid the attack, twisting in the air. Iram cut a shallow wound into her arm. She didn’t make a sound, but dropped to the ground.
Gabriel did likewise, Tracy between him and his group. Tracy looked scared but determined. She growled, rushing at him with Dolor held high in the air. Iram rang as Gabriel deflected Dolor, both blades infused with Vis to the point of being near unbreakable. Gabriel sidestepped, still not putting much in the way of effort into the fight. Tracy twisted, swinging at Gabriel who dodged, leaving her front completely open. Gabriel brought Iram up in a slashing move to cut Tracy in half.
Vis-enhanced as she was, Tracy saw the attack coming and also saw that there was nothing she could do to stop it. Gabriel brought the sword up and looked into her eyes. He believed if you took a life you should, if possible, give the person the respect to look them in the eye as you killed them. Tracy’s deep blue eyes shone with fear, the look on her face that of sorrow. Gabriel leaned backwards. He didn’t know why he did it. He saw something in her eyes – she wasn’t ready to die, she wasn’t committed to the fight. Iram still hit her, slicing up her left side to her right shoulder.
She fell back in a gasping scream and hit the ground hard, blood spraying.
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I knew that when I started the Legon Series that I would need characters that would motivate Legon to want to help people outside of his friends and family. Legon had to work to save himself and his sister, but he needed to feel empathy for people in the empire to be inspired to become the hero he needed to be. The main character I used for this was Sara. By freeing her from a bad situation it planted the seed that Legon could make a real impact on the world around him. Sara is here today to talk with us.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. How has life been treating you?
Thanks for having me on the site. I have been keeping busy. Keither and I have three kids now and I have been running the main healing center in Manton for the last few years.
How have you enjoyed being a mother?
I love it! I will admit that most times I feel like I’m in over my head, but I suppose most parents feel that way.
What has life been like since the war?
It has been a mixed bag. During the war we had a sense of purpose. When I say we, I mean everyone in the Cona Republic, but now…there isn’t the same drive. There’s no longer the threat of death to unify and motivate the people.
As for me, I have been busy working in the healing centers and also working in the old Cona Empire to help them rebuild. Legon tells us it will take generations for the scars created by the war to truly heal, but we still do what we can.
Prior to the war you were in the care of the Queen. What was that like, and did it color the way you look at the world today?
Being in the care of the Queen was the most horrible time of my life. I was forced to work as a prostitute. The work was humiliating, and I knew that if I didn’t make my clients happy I would be put to death. During that time I also came to hate people. For many of the girls I worked with they lived in a numb state…they just existed from day to day and that was all they could do. I wasn’t at that point yet…so, I hated the free world, the Iumenta, the Queen, and most of all, my clients.
When Legon freed me and took my pain I was able to breath for the first time in what felt like ages. That event allowed me to see a life where I wasn’t ruled by sorrow and it was that vision that helped me to recover.
Now my time in the care tints every action in my life. I can’t help but see those in need and feel a sense of responsibility for them. I can empathize with almost anyone, and I feel a great drive to help others. I think I feel this because I recognize how lucky I am that Legon freed me.
How is your relationship with Legon and Sasha these days?
It’s bitter sweet. We are all extremely close to one another and I cherish our time together. It’s bitter in some ways because while I’m not old by any means, I see myself aging. The Elves stop aging around twenty-five. So in many ways being close to Legon and Sasha reminds of my own mortality. Sasha looks as old as she did in the war, and in some ways that keeps memories of the past fresh in my mind. At times though being around Legon, Sasha, and Iselin make me feel younger than I am, a feeling I dare say I will relish as the years move on.
Thank you so much for talking with me today. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for having me on, it’s been wonderful talking with you. I think all I would like to say to people is thank you for supporting Keither and I. We really appreciate all of you. Thank you again.
Hammers, saws, screwdrivers, and tape measures. These are some of the tools of a carpenter. Wrenches, sockets, pliers and air wrenches are some of the tools of the trade for a mechanic. But what about a writer? Do we have tools that we use? Or are our tools just in our head?
I have a hard time thinking of things in my head as being tools. What I do see as being tools are my computer, and more importantly the software on my computer. Primarily the software that I’m actually writing my manuscript in. This isn’t something that a lot of new writers give a lot of thought to. I know I didn’t. Who cares what software you use to write? After all, I have Word or Pages on my computer and they do just fine. A lot of writers don’t know there are alternatives to Word or Pages, but there are. Actually there is a whole sub-market of author software out there, and that’s what I want to talk about today.
What is authoring software and why do I need it?
This is software specifically designed for writers. Word for example is a general writing application, meaning it’s designed to handle a lot of different writing projects as is it’s Mac only companion Pages. I’m not trying to say that software like Word and Pages are bad, far from it actually. I know a lot of people complain about Word, but when you look at everything it does, Word is pretty dang impressive. Word and Pages are designed to take care of a huge range of users and as such have a large set of tools, and their interface is built around ease and catering to the masses. But writers aren’t the masses, we have a very specific set of things we do to complete and publish a manuscript.
That’s where author software comes into play. It’s software that is completely designed around what we as writers need and do. For example, software like Word tends to get slow and clunky with large files, like say a one hundred thousand word manuscript. I would know, I wrote my first two books (Legon Awakening, and 8810) in Word, and on Legon (127,000 words) the file got really slow. Why does it get slow? I don’t know the makeup of Word but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s because Word is such vast software that it’s hard for it to keep up on larger files, and that’s ok, it isn’t meant to work on those. Authoring software is designed to take care of the whole writing process from outlining to publishing. This means that you can have your manuscript(s), outline(s), character profiles, settings, research, and all of that jazz in one well-organized file. There’s no need to have a bunch of Word docs floating around on your computer, everything for a book or series is in one file. This makes organizing your projects and finding things for them easy. Need to look at a character profile for a supporting character? No problem, just look in the characters folder inside your project. There’s no need to go poking around your computers hard drive.
What about on the pub end of things? Once again, authoring software is here for you. Some of the general writing software out there like Pages are starting to handle ePub exports, but let’s be honest, those files aren’t always the best. Why? Simple, Pages wasn’t originally designed for publishing, it was built to be a catch all with an emphasis on layout. Authoring software was built with publishing in mind, which means exporting your ebook is not only easy but the files are much better. Most authoring software will export ePubs and Mobi files with linked in tables of content and imbedded meta data, which means all you have to do is upload your file.
So are you sold on authoring software yet? How about if I tell you that software like Scrivener is cheap too? As in $45 cheap.
So how did I find Scrivener?
As I said, I wrote my first two titles in Word and I didn’t really lose my mind. I had file folders with all of the information I needed to work on the books and was doing great until I got to Legon Ascension (book two in the series). There was just too much information to handle. I had a huge set of characters to deal with and along with that I had to take into account what happened in Legon Awakening. Plus, in Ascension I had five story-lines going. I was overwhelmed. Thankfully I had a listener (I was only doing audio at that time) who told me about some authoring software they’d found. The software was called Storyist. I found that I could customize everything in Storyist, and while there was a learning curve on it I soon found my writing to be much easier. The problems came towards the end of Ascension, Storyist wasn’t all that great at managing large files, by which I mean a single file with two full manuscripts in it. Also I found the software to be glitchy and save times were slow. At one point I lost the original ending for Legon Ascension and had to rewrite it. I was pissed and no longer trusted the software. This meant that every time I saved my manuscript I also printed a PDF of the whole book to keep from losing anything. I was not a happy camper.
Part way into Legon Restoration I took the recommendation of a friend and several other writers to try Scrivener. I wasn’t optimistic about the venture, I was worried Scrivener would have the same issues as Storyist. But all of the reviews I found on it said that Scrivener was great and that nothing in the market compared to it. When I downloaded Scrivener and started using it I fell in love. I have never had any issues with the software and swear by it. I even use it to manage my blog content (like writing this post) and used it’s ebook features to work on all of my clients ebooks (I used to be an owner of an ebook production company). Looking back I would have been willing to spend far more on this wonderful software.
What all comes with Scrivener?
I thought I’d go over some of the features of Scrivener that I like the most. I will also write another blog post soon going over how I have Scrivener setup and some of my work flows. Scrivener is pretty easy to customize and the way I do things is not the only way to work, but it works best for me. I use a Mac so the layout of my Scrivener might be slightly different for you Windows folks out there.
On the left side of the screen you have the binder, this is your main navigation for your project. In the binder there are file folders for your manuscript(s), character and setting profiles as well as research sections and front matter. You can add whatever you want to this section, and I find that I add a lot of subfolders to keep my project organized. Chapters, characters, and things like that are listed as separate documents inside of your project. Moving around the binder is a lot like looking at files on your computer in Windows Explorer, or if you’re on a Mac like using the Finder.
This section is at the top of the window and is three buttons. It has a basic document view, a cork-board and an outline view that’s like Explorer or Finder. I tend to use the basic view when I’m working on a document, but when I’m looking at folders I keep things in outline. I don’t really use the cork-board at all. What I like about the outliner is that you have a bunch of columns with information in them, like synopsis, word count, etc. The outliner makes it easy for basic navigation and to see if your manuscript is on target.
So how do you get a manuscript out of Scrivener to send to your editor or to publish? Simple, just click the compile button and a menu will come up where you can say what file type you want (ePub, Mobi, PDF, Word…etc.) you can even tell Scrivener how you want the file formatted and what documents you want to include. Getting files out of Scrivener couldn’t be simpler.
This is a button on the top of the window that makes the text you are editing the whole screen. This eliminates all other distractions on your screen, and it’s awesome. You can customize the compose screen to make it however you like. This is a feature I use a lot when working on new content.
You can write a synopsis for each document inside of Scrivener, like say a chapter. I didn’t start using this feature until mid-way through Pactum but really like it. This allows me to look around a manuscript and find the document I’m looking for. I don’t name chapters until I’m done with a book and sometimes I combine chapters, delete them or add new ones. Asking me what happens in chapter four will only get you a blank stare, but with the Synopsis feature, I don’t have to worry about that.
Scrivener has several different note sections, and they are all handy. Each document you make in Scrivener has it’s own notes. I use this for putting in chapter outlines so I have them at a glance. The notes section is right next to whatever you’re working on. You also have high level notes as well. I keep note files for each book where I put in little reminders about things I need to go back to and address. The notes section can save you loads of time and make your life simpler.
Word Count Target
This is a little feature that I won’t spend much time on. At the bottom of your screen you will see a little target looking thing. If you click it you can set a word count goal for a document. This is handy to ensure that a chapter is as long as you want it to be, but not getting too long. Nuff said.
This is one of my favorite features in Scrivener. It has a built in name generator. It’s under the edit menu and will create male and female names. It gives them to you in a list form and has loads of settings to get just the names you are looking for. I cannot tell you how handy this tool is. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to hit your head on the wall trying to come up with the name of some support, this tool will save the day. Trust me, it’s awesome!
This is the last thing that I’ll talk about in this post. Templates allows you to create a template for documents for things like character profiles. In a profile you can add in images if you like and set it up to make sure you are coming up with everything you need for a setting or character.
As you can see Scrivener is great software that will save you time and sanity. If you want to know more about Scrivener or to download it you can find it here. I think they have a trial period on it, so by all means give it a try. I will try to write another post soon showing my workflow in Scrivener and how I have everything setup. As for you guys, I would love to hear what you think about this or other authoring software and what your favorite features are. Thank you and I hope you have a great week.
Alright everyone. In my resolutions, I said that I was going to be trying my hand at digital art. Here is my first attempt. It is a Zombie Apocalypse which I know is pretty over done, but I thought it would be a good first attempt. I’m not planning on doing all dark pieces, but I will admit this was a lot fun. The picture is all stock manipulation, and I had a blast. So please tell me what you think. Thanks.
LEWIS RUDNICK sat on a slightly uncomfortable chair next to a window, nibbling on his dinner. He ignored the other patrons of the restaurant and the staff as they scurried about. Lewis gazed outside, watching the bustling crowds walking the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. Lewis was hunting. Lewis is an Incubus, which is one of several Mutari races. As he watched the people, he read their Vis — their life force flow. Lewis was unable to produce Vis of his own and therefore had to take it from others to survive.
As he watched, he noticed other Mutari as they passed by the restaurant window. Being an Incubus meant that he could not only read the Vis of others, but was able to tell if they were Human, Mutari or a Mage. As he watched, a Troll and a Succubus passed by. The Troll was no doubt escorting the Succubus. Lewis turned to his meal, taking a bite and shaking his head. The Succubus would be a whore, no doubt; they all were. They couldn’t make their own Vis either, and most got it by waiting for their johns to climax, and then taking a portion of their Vis without them noticing. Lewis refused to do this. Still he didn’t blame the Succubi for being what they were. It kept them alive. Gone were the days when a Succubus or Incubus could drain a human of his or her life force. No; the Mages saw to that. If a Vampire, Succubus, or Incubus were found killing humans for Vis, the Mages would kill that individual. So the Succubi were whores. As for the Incubi most of them died a slow, painful death at a young age from Vis starvation. This was a fate that Lewis refused to suffer.
The truth was that most Incubi and Succubi felt guilty if they killed someone. This was not a problem for Lewis. He never felt guilty for killing people for their Vis. And he was smart about it, so he didn’t get caught.
The Troll and Succubus were inside a jewelry store at the moment, which was probably a front for a Goblin-run banking guild. As they exited, she looked at him for a moment, and then turned down the Mall. Lewis twisted his class ring in concern. It was enchanted to make it so that no other Mutari or Mage could tell what he was.
Lewis went back to his dinner thinking about the business trip that had brought him to Denver. He traveled for work, which was something he found to be helpful. He rarely killed in the same city more than once a month, thus keeping law enforcement and Mages from catching on to him. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of a homeless man walking the street. Lewis looked at the man and read his Vis flow. He smiled. The man’s flow was sickly looking but still strong; this meant that most likely he was a drug addict. Lewis watched the man walk into an alley between two buildings. He would be a perfect target. Lewis would drain the man of his life force to the point of near death, and then make it look like he overdosed on drugs. Denver PD would never think twice about it, and Lewis would have enough Vis to last him another week until he was in L.A.
Lewis finished dinner, and left the restaurant deciding to scout out the homeless man’s life a bit. He pulled up a map on his phone, making mental notes of streets and buildings in the area. He acted like he was just walking around enjoying the sights; the whole time noting where the bum went. Lewis thought of the homeless man as “Patches.” This was his name for all of his homeless victims.
During his free time over the next day or two, Lewis watched Patches, getting his routine down and figuring out how social he was. If a person was always around other people and never alone, Lewis would have to find someone else. This didn’t seem to be the case for Patches. Lewis was happy to see that the man was a creature of habit, and also a loner.
Making his way back to his hotel, Lewis thought about how good the hunting was in Denver in the winter. This year it was unseasonably warm, but in winters past, Lewis had done well in the area. It wasn’t uncommon for the local fire department to go looking for bum-sicles the day after a cold snap. Those were the nights Lewis loved the most. He would drain a victim of every last ounce of Vis without having to stage a death. That wouldn’t be the case for Patches. Oh well, Lewis thought.
His hotel was on the upscale side, and Lewis walked into the lobby trying to decide what to do for the evening. He wasn’t planning on moving on Patches just yet, he needed to wait awhile. Lewis liked to build a small amount of extra Vis before taking down a target. He could use the Vis stored in his body however he pleased. That meant that he could make himself heal more quickly, or he could become stronger and faster. Lewis was even able to make himself appear younger. But he had to be judicious with his Vis, he could only hold about a week’s worth of it at any given time. He would drain nearly a week’s worth from Patches, but Lewis would need a bit more. For that task, he took a page out of the book of the Succubus. Not that he was going to sell himself for sex, but rather he was going to pick someone up and take a bit of their Vis.
In his early years, Lewis would have never thought himself a ladies’ man, but as soon as getting Vis became life or death, he’d learned how to seduce just about anyone. Tonight he was going to go to a local club and see if he could find someone to come home with him. Taking Vis from people without them noticing was a tricky task. The Succubus hookers could only take a small amount from their clients. If a human noticed that they felt too tired or off in any way, the Succubus would be found out. For Lewis, he would get women drunk before taking them back to the hotel, and then let them stay the night. As such, he could take a lot more Vis from them without them noticing. He got ready for the evening, showering and shaving. He would be going for drunk girls that were easy, but he didn’t leave anything to chance.
The club was booming with sound as he walked in the main entrance. People were packed along the bar, talking and having a good time with friends. Lewis ordered a drink and sat at the bar, taking his time and not putting in much effort yet. In a few hours, the place would turn into a meat market, and it wouldn’t take too much effort to meet someone.
A woman with shoulder length red hair sat down in a huff next to Lewis. She looked at him, and he tilted his glass in her direction.
“Good evening,” was all he said.
She just nodded to him, and ordered herself a drink. They sat, keeping to themselves for a few minutes before Lewis decided to break the silence.
“I’m Lewis Rudnick,” he said.
“It’s nice to meet you Lewis; my name is Becky,” she said.
Lewis wasn’t planning on trying to pick the woman up, it was too early in the evening, and he didn’t want to put in the effort, but he checked her out anyway. She was fit, and in her mid-to-late twenties, if he had to guess. Her eyes were a light blue, her skin fair like cream. She wore a dress formal enough to be business appropriate but provocative enough for a night out.
“Sales?” he asked.
Becky laughed, “How’d you guess?”
He shrugged, “You’re in shape, your makeup looks great, and your outfit has just the right balance of professional and sexy.” He observed, “You want people to take you seriously, but you aren’t above using feminine charm to help make a potential client a bit more cooperative.”
Becky held her glass up and congratulated him “Very well done. And what is it that you do?” she asked warmly.
“I work in computers. I do consulting mostly, but I travel a lot. I work mostly with business owners and the like,” he said, truthfully.
Lewis didn’t like to lie. A lot of men intent on picking someone up lied in an attempt to impress women. In Lewis’s experience, that wasn’t the best approach. If you lied to people, you had to keep lying to them, which got to be a pain, and you never knew when it would bite you in the ass.
After a few more drinks, he found Becky to be an extremely charming girl. She was in town on business like he was, and she didn’t know anyone either. Before long, Lewis found himself becoming enthralled with the woman. He wasn’t even drinking or looking around for people to pick up. Before he knew it, the bar was starting to clear out, and Lewis felt a twinge of disappointment. Unless he broke off his conversation with Becky soon, he wouldn’t be able to find anyone to take back to his hotel.
He started glancing out of the corner of his eye, trying to find someone he thought he could pick-up without much effort.
Becky stopped talking, “Am I boring you?” she asked.
Lewis smiled sheepishly, “No you aren’t…I’m…”
“Looking for someone to pick up,” she said knowingly.
“Yeah, I’m sorry.”
“You should be,” she said, “And here this whole time I thought you were going to offer to take me back to your hotel room.”
Lewis was at a loss for what to say. Despite what the movies would have you think, women don’t throw themselves at men they’ve only known for a few hours. And if they do, it takes a lot of booze to do it.
“I didn’t think you’d take me up on the offer,” he admitted.
“Well, how would you know if you don’t ask?” she asked wryly.
Lewis thought for a moment what the hell, “Would you like to come back to my hotel?”
“No,” Becky said. Then, with a grin, “I’m joking. I would love to go back to your hotel, but can we get some food first?”
Lewis smiled broadly “I think I can manage that.”
They were able to find a fast food place that was open. He and Becky talked more as they ate and continued talking on the way back to his hotel. Lewis was a little worried about Becky not being drunk. He might not be able to take very much Vis from her without her noticing. He pushed the thought from his mind, telling himself the lack of Vis was worth spending the night with such an enjoyable person.
As they rode the elevator up to his floor, there was an uncomfortable silence. Becky was likely feeling apprehensive about her decision to spend the night with him. Lewis understood this; he’d been surprised by her offer. Part of him figured she’d done it on the spur of the moment.
“Do you do this often?” she asked.
He eyed her, “What do you mean? Sleep with people I’ve just met?”
“…Yeah…I mean I don’t, but I just wondered if you did,” she said.
Lewis laughed “I am a man Becky, and a traveling one at that,” he said like it was an answer to her question.
She tried to hide a smile with a scowl, “So you’re a slut, huh?”
He chuckled, “Guilty as charged.” And then, “In all honesty I understand if it bothers you … but you asked.”
She made a placating motion, “No, no, I understand. Seeing you at the bar I kind of figured as much…”
“So you were working me all night, huh?” he accused.
Becky blushed, and the elevator opened. They made their way to his room without her answering him. He swiped his key card, and they entered. He went to a mini bar, and asked if she wanted something to drink.
“No, I’m fine,” then after pausing for a moment added, “You know what? Why not.”
She’s getting cold feet he thought.
“Are you sure you’re comfortable with this?” he asked.
This was another reason why he preferred drunk women. The sober ones were much more likely to lose their cool, and decide they weren’t comfortable with a one night stand.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked.
Becky deflated, “I broke up with my boyfriend of six years a few months back.” She sat on the edge of the bed, “I haven’t had any luck dating at all. One of my girlfriends thinks I need a one night stand to clear my head.” She looked at him, “Sorry.”
Lewis sat down next to her. Strong emotions increased the amount of someone’s Vis, and Lewis looked at Becky as her life force glowed. His body wanted to take it in, and a part of him told him to take it from her. There was that part in every Incubus, Succubus, and Vampire. It was part of their primitive animal mind seeking what it needed for survival. Lewis pushed that side of him away.
“But you feel guilty, like you’re cheating?” he asked.
“Have you been in this situation?” she asked.
Lewis had been a normal human up until he turned twenty, and that’s when he changed, becoming what he was now. He too had felt guilt about sleeping with people behind his girlfriend’s back so he could take their Vis. She’d found out of course, and dumped him. It wasn’t long after that that Lewis had killed his first person. He’d slept with those women to get what he needed to live, he told himself; but even years later he felt glimmers of guilt each time he slept with someone. Lewis found it odd that he felt remorse for being with people, but he didn’t feel remorseful about killing. He refocused on Becky.
“I have actually, though my situation was different,” he admitted.
Their conversation continued to focus on Becky’s feelings about cheating on someone she was no longer with. Lewis knew that no matter her original intentions, Becky was not going to have sex with him that night. Part of him was irritated with the night’s outcome. She was a source of something that he needed. He could still attack Patches without any problems, but that would mean using the Vis Lewis had stored in his body. As he spoke with Becky, he watched her Vis flow throughout her body. It was a pulsing dark golden amber that moved around her. In the back of his mind, Lewis was aware of his own Vis. It too moved around his body, but unlike Becky’s; his Vis was weak. His body wanted to attack her. It wanted to pin her down, and drain every last bit of that golden amber Vis from her, but Lewis resisted the urge. Instead, he increased the amount of Vis his own body was using. This made him not want to hurt Becky. He would need to be extremely careful with the Vis he had left. Even if he had been able to sleep with Becky and take some of her power, there was always the chance that he would be unable to feed on Patches. If that were the case, Lewis would need to find another source of Vis before he became sick.
There were, of course, other ways to get Vis. He could pay for it. Mages were willing to sell Vis to an Incubus, but it cost thousands of dollars. He’d had to do this before on several occasions. He could also find another Mutari to give him Vis, but again the cost was extraordinarily high. No, Lewis was not willing to waste his hard-earned money on Vis.
He’d stopped paying strict attention to Becky. He tried to re-focus on her, no longer thinking about his own needs. He liked Becky. It tore at him to find women he liked, for his was a life of seclusion. Lewis would never marry or have a family. He couldn’t even risk having a steady relationship without the threat of being discovered as a mass murderer. In this way, it was sad to meet people he actually enjoyed.
Becky yawned “I’m sorry Lewis,” she said honestly. “I didn’t mean to give you my life story…all you wanted was a good time.”
Lewis waved her comment off, “It’s fine…really it is. It is getting late, however. If you want to go back to your hotel I won’t stop you, but you are more than welcome to crash here, too.”
He stood to go get ready for bed, walking into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He was surprised when Becky took him up on his offer to stay. He slipped under the sheets with her, and turned off the light. She stayed on the opposite side of the bed, which suited Lewis just fine. He rolled onto his side and fell asleep quickly.
The phone rang, waking him with a start. He reached over to the nightstand, pulled it off the hook, and brought it to his ear. It was the hotel’s wake-up service. He hung the phone back up and rolled over.
Becky was starting to stir next to him. She rolled over and put a sleepy arm around him. She opened her eyes and looked at him. She moved away as she became aware of her arm around his body. “Sorry…” she said, “how did you sleep?”
Lewis yawned, “Fine, and don’t be sorry.” He got out of bed and made his way to the shower, letting Becky know he’d be back. As he stepped into the stream of hot water, he told himself that Becky would be gone when he got out. She wasn’t. As Lewis came back in the room, Becky was doing her makeup in a mirror.
“Want breakfast?” he asked.
As they ate breakfast from the hotels restaurant, Lewis found himself thinking more and more about Patches. The weather was turning colder, but not cold enough to kill. There was a chance that the man would be able to find shelter, and Lewis would lose his chance. Lewis looked out of the restaurant window. Lewis had picked it because Patches slept in the alleyway across the street. All during his meal, Lewis had shot furtive glances out the window to see if he could spot Patches. Just as Lewis was getting worried that the man was gone, his crumpled form made its way out of the alley and frightened a woman walking along the mall. Lewis felt comforted, and fought the urge to smile.
“Do you want to go to dinner tonight?” Becky asked.
“Um…what?” Lewis spluttered. He hadn’t been paying close attention, and was caught off guard by the question.
“Dinner.” Becky said, “I want to take you to dinner. You wasted your night with me last night, and I feel like I owe you dinner.”
Lewis thought for a moment. He honestly didn’t have time for dinner. Tonight was his last night in Denver, and he needed to drain Patches of his life force. Add on top of that, Lewis needed to find someone else to take Vis from so he wouldn’t run low. He didn’t have time to go out with Becky and take care of what he needed to do.
“I don’t think I can,” he said.
Becky looked disappointed. Great you made her sad he thought. What harm is dinner?
An idea came to him.
“Could we maybe meet a little later?” he asked.
Becky perked up, “sure that’s fine with me, like how late?”
He thought for a moment, thinking about Patches’ schedule. He keeps to himself. The sun will be down early, and with the cold, people won’t stay out late. Lewis liked to work late at night when everyone was asleep, but he couldn’t risk that with the weather getting cold. The cold simply required more finesse. It gave you the advantage of the assumption that the victim had frozen to death, but it also demanded the vigilance of catching them before they found shelter.
“Would eight-thirty be too late?” he asked.
Becky pursed her lips, “No that should work well for me. I fly out in the afternoon tomorrow.”
“As do I. I just have some things to wrap up,” Lewis said.
Becky smiled, “When is your flight?”
“One,” Lewis said.
Becky nodded, “One-thirty,” she said indicating the time of her flight. “Want to take a cab together?”
Lewis smiled, “I have a rental, but you can come with me if you want.”
“Sold,” she said brightly. Then getting up, “All right, I’ll see you in your hotel’s lobby at eight-thirty then?”
“It’s a date,” Lewis said.
Becky winked, “That it is.”
She walked off, leaving Lewis to his day’s work, which is to say that he didn’t have any real work to do for the day, so he went back to his room. He changed out of the suit he’d been wearing, putting on a pair of sweats and a hoody. Lewis was rather good at finding drug dealers, and had scouted out a few in the days prior. He got his rental car from the hotel valet, and went out looking for a dealer.
It didn’t take him long to find one, and it took him even less time to get a needle and some drugs. Lewis himself had never used drugs, nor did he have a desire to try them. Drugs were hard on one’s body, which meant using Vis to heal; Vis that no Incubus or Succubus had to spare.
After he had the drugs, he looked over the notes he had about Patches, trying to decide how and when he was going to feed on the man. Lewis was meeting Becky later in the evening, which gave him time to feed, run back to the hotel, and shower and get ready. As the sun set, Lewis left his hotel in search of Patches. Lewis got a cup of coffee and watched Patches out of the window of the Café as he made his way down the Mall. Lewis knew that he couldn’t kill the man on the Mall. There were way too many people; but if he could follow him into an alley, he could make a move on him.
Lewis left the Café and pretended to window shop as he watched Patches. The man was panhandling and bothering end-of-day shoppers. Lewis smiled to himself and walked by Patches.
“Spare any change?” Patches asked in a pathetic voice.
In his peripheral vision, Lewis could see a couple of cops patrolling the mall. When Patches spoke, Lewis jumped away from the man nervously. Lewis made sure the cops saw him. Lewis walked away from Patches, putting on a worried look. Lewis walked by the cops and made a comment about how they needed to keep dangerous vagrants off the mall. The cops rolled their eyes, but went to shoo Patches away. Lewis watched Patches talk to the cops, and then walk away in disappointment. Lewis looked away from the cops, and walked down the mall knowing where Patches would likely go.
Lewis left the mall and looped back around; walking up 17th until he found an alley he knew to be one of Patches’ favorite spots. Lewis looked around, making sure he wasn’t being watched, and then made his way down the alley. As he walked, he confirmed it was empty of people until about halfway down the alley. Patches sat on the ground using a dumpster on one side, a pile of boxes on the other, to shield himself from winter wind. Lewis stood before the man and looked down at him, figuratively and literally.
Patches looked up. His wrinkled and weathered face showing confusion, and apprehension. Then his face shown with recognition.
“You are the guy who had the cops chase me off!” he accused.
Lewis smiled, “yes I am, I didn’t want you on the mall, Patches.”
The man looked more confused, and now there was a touch of fear coloring his visage, “My name isn’t Patches.”
Lewis pulled a pair of leather gloves from his pocket, and began to put them on, “Your name isn’t really important now, is it?”
Patches looked at the gloves and then tried to stand and run away. Lewis flexed the Vis in his body, his muscles becoming strong and fast. He moved in a blur, blocking Patches. He shoved the man to the ground and landed on top of him. Before Patches could call out for help, Lewis crushed his lips onto the man’s, tasting filth and grime. Then Lewis pulled on Patches’ Vis. At once, Patches tried to scream as his life force was taken forcibly from his body. Lewis let himself relax as Patches went limp, unable to muster the strength to fight back. Vis rushed into Lewis, filling him with a sense of euphoria and power. His body demanded that he take all of the man’s life force, not letting any go to waste, but with much effort Lewis stopped pulling on Patches Vis.
Lewis rested on his knees and leaned back looking down on his victim. Lewis breathed heavily trying to clear his. There was just the hint of Vis left in him. Patches was going to die. Lewis pulled a drug-filled syringe from his pocket and rolled up Patches’ sleeve. There were track marks running up the man’s arm. Law enforcement wouldn’t think twice about Patches overdosing. Lewis stuck the needle in the man’s arm, draining its contents in his veins. Then he rose. Patches would be dead in just a few minutes from the drugs. Lewis walked out of the alley the way he’d come, heading back towards his hotel.
An hour later, he walked down to the hotel lobby to find Becky waiting for him. She looked lovely with a black dress on. She stood and smiled to greet him. Lewis felt calm and relaxed as Patches’ Vis ran through his body. He was going to do his best to enjoy his evening. Deciding he deserved a little downtime and that he’d earned the break, he took Becky’s hand and walked out of the hotel.