The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Julie Screeches For Goddamn Antiheroines

TODAY’S BREW: The Blood of Thine Enemy

By Julie

I ranted the other day about antiheroes and the total lack of love for the antiheroine in literature. Here you go:


The constant issue of creating the “strong” female character is mindblowing. Never do you hear the phrase “strong male character.” Yet we have to get out the goddamn test tubes and mustache potions to make a female character that doesn’t radiate LOSER. Then we’re left with these tough broads that can kick anyone’s ass with their pinky finger, have this poorly placed sarcastic mouth, and have been hurt by some man but still considers themselves “one of the guys.”

I find this fucking tiresome. Women trying too hard not to be girly girls. This is weakness in my eyes. Any character that feels forced into a role is weak. I’d take an actually weak female character any day over this. One of the arguably weakest female characters I’ve ever read, and yet she seemed pretty genuine.

Speaking of genuine, we get to the matter at hand; the antiheroine. A female character that doesn’t have the conventional attitude of a heroine. This is a character that to me, is a product of their experiences and environment, is hardened, has flaws that aren’t “cute,” and isn’t beloved by all.

But she’s realistic. She’s interesting. She’s unique and strong in her own way, and has contradictory weaknesses. She doesn’t seek to impress. She’s not the girl you’d usually root for, but she’s got something that you identify with, that you say, “yeah, that could be me if I went through that, too.” But you don’t love her like you’d love your best friend or sister. She’s not that kind of lady.

The antihero is generally uber cool. Wolverine. Tyler Durden. Batman. Lestat. Snape. They’re off-putting, abrasive at times, cold, full of themselves. And we love them.

Now give those characteristics to a female character, and it’s a lot tougher to think of them. Now think of the antiheroine in a book, and it’s even harder.

This pisses me off. As a woman who loves an antihero far more than a typical hero, I’m also more inclined to love an antiheroine, someone who doesn’t fit into the goody-goody box, a helluva lot more. I want a heroine I maybe don’t entirely trust, but when she’s invested in me she’d give her life for mine. One who has a set of values that she won’t back down from, no matter who sees them as wrong. One who’s been hurt, dove into the metaphorical volcano, and come out on the other side with some scars, internal or not.

This kind of character takes balls to write, and once written is often seen as “unlikeable,” therefore not one likely to grace bookshelves. Because even if your girl has fought the devil himself, the Wang-centric world wants to see her still be understanding, compassionate and vulnerable.

I dare to say this isn’t always the fucking case. I want to see the battle wounds.

It seems as though we’ve also been pigeonholed into this idea that for a woman to be relatable she has to be one or several of these things:

  • Awkward
  • Overweight
  • In love with the wrong guy as a personality trait
  • Not as pretty as her friend/sister/other girl
  • Mousy

Screw that. I’m not saying that I don’t identify with any of these traits, but they’re all flaws that are non-intrusive. Male antiheroes can be as toe-stepping as they want to be. Crass language, outright rude, joyless. If you give any of that to a woman she’s just a bitch. Put a beer in the hand of a snarling character and you get two very different images if you picture a man or a woman.

Fuck that, too.

On the other post I did I searched antihero and antiheroine images. I’ll shorten that here but you gotta see this. This is the first antihero image you get:


Antiheroine? Here you go:

antiheroine 0x50


Oh, wait. NO, I DIDN’T.

What the fuck?? Compare those two images. So, in order for a woman to be a viable antiheroine she has to be duller than hell and not feminine? How about women with some brutality to them and unapologetic sexuality? How about THAT. Like this:


And dare I say THIS:


And a whole lot of this:


WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF, THAT THESE KINDS OF CHARACTERS AREN’T AS WIDELY SEEN AS THE TYPICAL HEROINE?? Who do we think we’re fooling that readers wouldn’t identify with women that are damaged, unafraid to get dirty, unstable at times, outright cruel at others, but with deep-seeded reasons and rock solid cores that they stick to? Is it easier for the average woman to identify with the romantic heroine whose greatest flaw is that she loves too much? I don’t fucking think so.

This is a call out to every writer out there, no matter what sex you identify with, write a female character that breaks the mold. Make ‘antiheroine’ a word that autocorrect recognizes.

A Little Piece of Silent Night

Today’s Brew:  Too much Diet Coke. My face feels shriveled.

by Kristen

Guys, I’m working on a movie this week. The hours are grueling, it’s in another state, and my alarm is perma-set for 3 AM. I know. Boo hoo. But that’s my excuse for being too exhausted to have thoughts or opinions. Julie was all prolific and I’m trying not to drool. Okay, I do have thoughts and opinions and they’re all I WANT TO GO TO BED.

But next week I have a new book coming out, so that’s pretty cool.  Silent Night is another installment of The Night Songs Collection. It’s my Christmas book that I bill as Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Midnight Mass. It’s a standalone story that shares the vampire mythology and family tree, but if you haven’t read the rest of the series (and if not, why not? I mean, you’re here. You like me. Hopefully. Maybe then I could be working on my own damn movie.) you can pick this one up and not be lost at all.

I’ll tell you more about it next week, when I get to see daylight, but for now, enjoy an excerpt, and if you like what you see…preorder the bitch. It’s 99 cents until November 29.

Silent Night Kristen Strassel

Silent Night Kristen Strassel

Aidan had finally settled in a oxblood red recliner. The thing looked ancient, but appropriate for the rest of the room. “Would you like some tea?”

“Sure. You’re into tea, aren’t you?” He’d had it at the diner, too. I didn’t know any men who drank it.

“I am. I like the variety.” He didn’t stay seated for long.

“Don’t you drink coffee?” Somedays, I would probably bleed coffee.

“Too bitter. I like sweet things,” he called from the kitchen. I didn’t feel the need to follow him. I went back to looking at his books. A Christmas Story would be on all night and all day. I knew it by heart anyway, I didn’t really have to pay attention.

For a seemingly manly guy, he had an awful lot of romance books. Interesting. Vampire books, writing manuals, classics, things in French that could have been anything, and more romances.

“Do you want cream and sugar?” Aidan had come in the room with my tea. Again he’d startled me with his silent movement.

“No. I like it bitter.” I set the cup down on the small bit of end table by the couch that didn’t have a book on it. “This is quite an interesting collection.”

He ran his hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly. He was still in his suit, so I felt a little odd wearing his clothes. “Oh yeah. Some of those are for research.”

“For what?” I mean, didn’t most guys just watch porn? Was this guy practicing to be some sort of Renaissance man Cassanova?

“I write.” He looked nervous again. He was probably really sorry he’d saddled himself with me for the night. I promised myself I’d be out as soon as it was light out. We could both put this behind us like it never happened. But that couch was too comfy and those blankets too warm to even think about letting him out of his offer now. He might be weird, but I had even money chances of getting attacked here or out on the street. At least here, I had a slight chance of dying happy. Or even just comfortable.

“What do you write?” My mind flashed to that scene in The Shining, the one when we learn all Jack Nicholson’s character had written was ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy‘ over and over again.

“Romance novels.” He gave me a lopsided smile as he settled back into his chair. He took a sip of his tea before continuing. “Under a nom de plume of course. If word got out a man wrote those books, well, there would be an uprising.”

“Nice. You’re living a double life. Are you going to tell me what name you write as?” He had better, or else I’d spend the rest of the night prying the information out of him. He owed it to me. He‘d already made me cry over my tuna melt.

“Allison Duprois.”

Best selling author Allison Duprois? Holy crap. If this was even true.”No shit. I love those books.”

“You do?” He looked surprised. “I took you as more of a mystery suspsense type of girl.”

“What girl deep down inside doesn’t fall for a good love story?” Allison, or apparently Aidan, wrote about a vampire who’d been searching through the ages for the reincarnation of the wife he left behind when he became immortal. The books were sexy, sweet, and sad, because after a half a dozen or so books he had yet to find her.

Part of me hoped that someday, he would find her, but the rest of me never wanted the story to end.

What I’d Rather Hear Than I’m Beautiful: A Rant by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Butter Rum and then Pumpkin Spice and then back to Butter Rum

By Julie

I’ve got a bone to pick. There has been a lot of discussion in social media on feminist issues recently, more so than usual I feel, and I think that’s great. THAT’S GREAT. To be clear, either you’re a feminist or you’re not. Either you demand equality or you don’t, male or female. I’m a feminist. I’d like to think you guys are too.

The #YesAllWomen hashtag became a movement that brought to light and proved that every woman you know has endured some kind of inequality, from everyday irritations to tragedies. Every woman. (One I thought was amazing was this one: because I was taught to scream “fire” instead of “rape” because it increases the chances of someone coming to help.

On a more positive note, I’m bursting with joy that Keira Knightly posed topless. (see the article here. WARNING, PEOPLE WITH BREASTS ARE TOPLESS. Keira Knightley Goes Topless For Interview Magazine (NSFW) )  And yes, read the comments. I love the message that just because she’s seen as beautiful doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel inadequate when it comes to photoshopping. Bodies aren’t to be judged by what the ideal of perfection is, no matter your personal preference, and to me that means men and women alike. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. I feel judged by women based on my body far more than I do by men, and bodyshaming is an issue we all have a hand in.

But Julie, I thought you were going to confess your unpopular opinion!!

On the other hand, I have to say I got pretty pissed at the appearance of this hashtag, and subsequent overuse of the hashtag the other day: #WhatIdRatherHearThanImBeautiful. Some of them were funny. Hell, most of them were funny. Like”Would you like free donuts with that?” Funny. Some were touching. One woman said a man once told her she was the most resilient person he’d ever met. But in general I was pissed. Here’s why:

A) Just because a woman has a million wonderful attributes, does not mean she can’t be beautiful TOO.

B) I don’t care who you are. You make an effort to be physically attractive by your own standard. If someone tells you that they see it, too, it feels good. Deny it.

C)A person’s physical beauty is only enhanced by their other attributes. See also: every “regular” woman that has ever been fawned over in the company of a “more beautiful” woman.

D) Most of the time if you’re told you’re beautiful it’s because you’re approachable enough to be told so. THIS IS GOOD.

E) Being told you’re beautiful is not on par with receiving 100 catcalls in a 10 hour period.

F) Suggesting that man shouldn’t feel comfortable to tell a woman she’s beautiful takes feminism and twists it into exactly the thing that feminists don’t want: to be viewed as complaining for the sake of complaining and to be seen as a certain type of feminist often referred to as “the ballbuster.”

G) If you mean to tell me you’ve ever been insulted for being told you’re beautiful, I want to hear this story.

H) Yes, you have other qualities. Let one of them be knowing how to take a compliment.

I) A man approaches you say, at a bar. If that man tells you he approached you because he can tell what a caring person you are, HE IS PROABABLY LYING. I get it, you don’t want to be approached just because you’re at a bar. I’m here to say LIGHTEN UP. If you’re not interested, say thank you and smile, and walk away. OR TAKE IT IN STRIDE AND BE UP FRONT WITH HIM NICELY. If there’s more to you than your beauty and that’s the point you’re trying to prove, then show it goddammit.

Or maybe talk to the guy. YEAH, YOU CAN ALSO JUST TALK TO THE GUY. What you look like doesn’t have to be all that he sees.

J) If you have to tell a person what to say and not to say when approaching you or speaking to you in any sort of situation, then maybe you are the one who needs to dig a little deeper. If you’re so sick of being told you’re pretty that you start to wonder if there’s any more to you than that, perhaps it’s not being told so that is your trouble.

K) How many times have you as a woman, started a conversation with something like, “I like your shirt/hair/shoes.” Did the woman say, “THERE’S MORE TO ME THAN MY SHIRT/HAIR/SHOES!” No. Probably not. Same thing.

L) In a relationship of any kind, all a person can say about you is that you’re beautiful? Yeah, that spells trouble in that relationship. But I’m willing to be that if the person didn’t know there was more to you than outer beauty, you would have had the hutzpah to leave the relationship.

M) Feminism has bigger things to deal with. Take a compliment ladies, and show where your real beauty lies.

Here endeth my rant for now. FOR NOW. Feel free to add/yell at me/hate me forever. AND REMEMBER. BEING TOLD YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL IS ROMANTIC. IT IS NOT MEANT TO DIMINISH YOU.

Happy Publishing Anniversary, Kristen!

Today’s brew:  Coffee by the fuckton.

by Kristen

Today is my one year anniversary of being a published author.

I remember lying exactly where I am right now, in the middle of my living room, exactly one year ago (I’m writing this on Tuesday the 4th), and looking back at Julie on the couch in absolute horror when Because the Night went live.  There was no more guessing, hoping, and dreaming. It was real.

She kept telling me to look at the bear in the boat. Somehow, this picture calmed my ass down.


Bear in the boat.

Bear in the boat.

What a year it’s been.

I could have never predicted what could have happened.  It didn’t go smoothly.  The first version of Because the Night was not up to my standard.  I made the best decisions I could at the time, and I learned from them.  Thankfully, I was able to take control of my books back and put them out in a way that I could be proud of.

In June, I separated from my agent and became totally indie.  It was a terrifying decision, but it was what was best for me and my books.  As the captain of the ship, I made all the decisions. Editing, formatting, design, and marketing. I love it.  It’s a full time job, and I work pretty much every day I can from the time I wake up until I can’t see straight anymore. This is a schedule I keep by choice.  Yes, I still do makeup, too. Sometimes I’m so tired I’m actually in pain, but I’m never, ever bored.

Because the Night grew to The Night Songs Collection. On the 18th, book four will be released. (It’s on preorder now!  It’s a standalone…Christmastime story…on sale until Black Friday…you know, if you’re interested in that sort of thing).  I’m about to start book five.  I decided to write contemporary, too, but I kept my musicians for that series. Traditional publishing told me that book wasn’t New Adult, well, about that. Secondhand Heart is doing awesome and the second book in The Spotlight Series (This is BREAKING NEWS, kids!), TOO MANY REASONS, is slated for release February 9, 2015.  And there was this lion named Leo that wouldn’t leave me alone, so I wrote his story, too.  There’s more where that came from.

Next year.  I guess this is the time for New Year’s Resolutions.  Both of my full length series will have at least one new book. I’m looking at conferences and signings.  The scariest part of starting this journey was having no idea where I was going.  Now I have a better idea of what’s going to happen and what to expect. I still dream of a blockbuster, and any book could be it.

The two best compliments anyone can give me:

  1.  Tell me after reading a new book “this is your best yet.”
  2. Read another book!  My heart swells when someone buys Night Moves or We Own the Night, because I know I didn’t talk them into that sale, Callie and Tristan did.


Hopefully, the best is yet to come, and we’ll be celebrating many more anniversaries.

Julesenstein’s Monsters: Breathing Life Back Into My Monstrosities

TODAY’S BREW: All of It.

By Julie

I did a thing I haven’t done in a long, long time. I read a chapter of THE HARPY. Forget what that book was? I nearly did, too. It’s been on submission with publishers through my agent, Eric Ruben, Esq. for a long time. I’m fine with the length of the submission process for a few reasons: I know that the world of traditional publishing is going through a lot of transition and isn’t the most stable we’ve ever seen. I know that Eric is doing as much as he can to get the book into reader hands. And my writing career isn’t stagnant because I continuously write books, all the time, while I wait.

But in my persistence to move forward and my constant reminder to myself that writers write, and to go to work every day like a good writer should, I’ve forgotten how much I loved that book. THE HARPY makes me happy. (If you want to read an excerpt of THE HARPY, you can go HERE ) I even searched #TheHarpy on Twitter to read some of my tweets from writing that book and I was grinning ear to ear.

Related, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with book stuff. RUNNING AWAY was released, a year in the waiting, and I barely stopped to breathe….. or promote it before jumping into writing a new book. I have another book just sitting around, too.

I need to slow down. Shit.

One of the reasons I don’t do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is because I cannot conceive of writing an entire book in one month and making it worth anything or enjoying a second of it. Yet, I’ve kept up a different kind of breakneck pace to try and cover every base possible in the writing world over the short time I’ve been a published author. (This of course doesn’t include working as an editor in the meantime, being a full time mom and trying to hold my head up straight.)

Writing is my job, but it needs to be savored once in a while. I feel disconnected from a couple of my books because I have put too much distance between us. We are estranged. And in effort to not put all my eggs in one basket, I’ve filled about FORTY BILLION BASKETS, and cannot keep up. Constantly writing and not stopping long enough to give justice to the books I have out is giving me a feeling of self-defeat that I just plain should not have.

So what am I doing about it? Scheduling time for promotion of RUNNING AWAY. Revisiting my intentions for THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL. Making sure I didn’t write them off too quickly in my effort to keep moving forward. And writing my new book at a pace that is fair to me.

I work my ass off to make sure every one of my books is something to be proud of. I deserve to see their titles up in lights, to celebrate them and give them their day in the sun. Because as rewarding as it is to finish a novel, it should be more rewarding to see it come to life.

Time to give my Frankenstein’s monsters a little mouth to mouth.

Surprise! It’s a Shifter Novella!

Today’s Brew:  Spiked Punch.

by Kristen

I did something I never thought I was going to do.  I wrote about shifters. This story started like most stories start for writers: I got an idea in my head that just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Lions toy with their prey before killing it.  But what if her fell for her, instead?

Even though this story came together quickly, I did more research for it than I ever have for any of my full length books.  I’ve never been to Colorado.  This is the story I climbed a mountain for. Obviously, I’m not a lion or a doe.  I had to learn a lot about how these animals behaved.  The coolest part was, their natural behaviors really helped guide the story.  By letting the characters be true to their nature, it moved the plot forward.

I had a lot of fun writing this, and I’m going to write more.  You know, because I didn’t have a full plate or anything to begin with.

Check it out!  The story starts on Halloween, making today the perfect day to share it!


Available on Amazon

She’s not ready to let fate decide her mate…
For centuries, weredeer in the Colorado Mountains have met their fated partner during The Mate. They shift the autumn they’re ready to produce offspring, and spend the rest of their lives with their mate, for better or worse.
But Daphne wants to be able to choose her own fate. In a town overrun by hunters and woods full of predators, it’s dangerous enough to be a weredeer. Yet, living in an arranged marriage seems even riskier.
His instinct is to kill her, but he let himself get too close…
Mountain Lions toy with their prey before killing it. Deer are their main target, and Woodland Park is ripe with choices during The Mate. Leo never expects his prey to shift to a beautiful human girl when he captures her, especially not one he’s had his eye on for a while. He can’t bring himself to hurt her, instead, he drives her wild with pleasure. But he knows he’s not her mate.
When the lions of the mountain learn that Leo is falling for a doe, he’s forced to reveal his true nature to Daphne. Now that she knows she’s fallen for a predator, can she force herself to leave him, or will she listen to her heart and stay with Leo?

Redefining Success

Today’s brew:  Anything with vitamin C in it.  This stupid cold decided to fight back.

by Kristen


I’ve never had a five year plan. They always freaked me out, locking myself into a solid path for five long years.  That was the reason I got my cosmetology license.  I couldn’t commit to years of studying for a degree than might not even land me a better job that I had.

Of course, I look to the future.  I have a retirement account, and I do have goals.  But in general, I’m a panster through and through. My work schedule is always different, and I’m always ready to basically get up and go. I’m an Aries, and this works for me.

When I started writing, my goal was just to finish the book. I was happy any day I got words on the page, and that the story was flowing.  Once I reached that goal, things changed again.  I wanted to publish it.  I feel like there’s tons of information available on what happens between typing THE END and getting your book published, but that’s when people start to quiet down.

Things change.  You’re either tied into a contract, and on deadlines, or you’re self-publishing and working on your own schedule.  As a self-publisher, even though I hire a lot of work out, there’s still so much more to do than I ever imagined.  I have seven books available now.  More are coming. There’s always something that needs to be done, and it’s not just putting words on the page. Yesterday I went shopping to decorate my table at a book signing.  I work from morning to night many days, and I love it. I might not have as much time to be on social media anymore, but it doesn’t mean I’m not here.

Not every book can be a bestseller.  One of my author friends said recently, “I miss the excitement of not knowing.”

My books have had their struggles.  I had to completely tear everything down and start over.  Why? Because things weren’t working.  On a lot of different levels.  I was lucky. I was able to get my rights back almost immediately. Many authors are stuck in limbo in bad deals or defunct houses.  But if you can get your rights, you owe it to yourself and your books to do right by your stories.  Whatever that means. If they need to be reedited, do it. Give them new covers. Any of those things that keep you awake at night are the things you now have the power to change.  It was a ton of work, but I did it.  Now I have beautiful books I can be proud of.  They’re not hitting the NYT list, yet, but they sell. And I’m happy any time someone new finds my stuff.  I’m even happier when people buy Night Moves or We Own the Night, because I know they want to keep reading about these people who started off as just voices in my head.

Now that I’m not a debut author, I know what to expect.  Promo is hard. Julie’s compared it to feeling like a door to door salesman. I’ve compared it to running for office. I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face. But so many people have been supportive and more helpful than I could have ever imagined.

I think about writing differently  now. If I should write about something new, or if I should continue a series. It’s a business, and I have to treat like a business. That means profit and loss and other things that give creatives hives. What’s worth the investment.  Many of us shy away from talking about money, but it’s an important conversation to have.  Since I self-published, I paid for the editing, design, and promo out of my own pocket. If you’re not self-published, someone else paid that for you.  And I can tell you whoever wrote those checks wants the same thing:  to make their money back.  It might not happen on every book.  But realistically, there’s only so long you can operate at a loss.  Food and shelter are really, really sexy.

This is one of the reasons I love being indie.  I’m a control freak. All those charts and numbers, even though I’m not a math person, I am competitive. Give me a goal and that’s like talking dirty to me. I like being able to change things up and take chances.  So here’s what I’ve learned:

  • There are a lot of books that come out every day. And a lot of people believe in those books. It’s hard to have your voice heard in the crowd. Harder than I ever imagined.
  • Just because things don’t explode on release day doesn’t mean that your book is dead. All it takes is for it to fall in the right hands, and to be in the right place at the right time.
  • That doesn’t you don’t have to get the word out!  “Write a good book and people will find it” is the most misleading piece of advice out there. On some levels, it’s true. But how are you going to get it in anyone’s hands to get them talking about your book?
  • You can revive a book at almost any stage of the game.
  • If you don’t like how things are going for you and your books, change it. No, it won’t be easy. But yes, it will be worth it.
  • Keep writing. Your books will get better and better.

Success is going to look different for every one of us. What you consider success might change a couple times along they way. Do what’s best for you. Don’t worry about what someone else doing.  You’re the only one who can define success for you.

Welcome Back to Life, Dracula! MY LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE by Kai Kiriyama

TODAY’S BREW: Godiva Pumpkin Spice like a fancy queen of things.

By Julie

Perfect timing for a juicy vampire book, our darling friend Kai Kiriyama has released an amazing novel into the wild and had this to say about it:

MY LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE is a project dear to my heart, a pet project that combines my love of vampire mythology and my love of macabre history. Dracula has always held me in thrall, ever since I was first introduced to him when I was 10 or so. (And it was, I must admit, through Dracula Dead and Loving It that I really fell in love with him.) This book represents a love affair that I’ve had with Dracula ever since. I’ve taken history and given it a new life in this book. This is my coming of age Dracula story, a look at the history and an examination of a man who must forever live with the sins he committed as a human. I hope that this book will rekindle your love for Dracula, and for vampires. Thank you for checking me out.

And of course, a HUGE thank you to my lovely, gracious, wonderful hosts here. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thank you. xx

-Kai Kiriyama





As with all men, even I had to die.

According to the history books, and yes, I am narcissistic enough that I went back and checked the facts to see what people have been led to believe about me, I was killed in a skirmish somewhere that no one is quite certain of, and that the exact date of my death is up for debate.

They also say that the men who killed me took my head back to Constantinople. Obviously that is a damn lie. Immortal though I am, removing my head will kill me permanently. That was one of the first things that I was taught when I awoke as a vampire for the first time. Furthermore, I didn’t die by the road in a skirmish when they say that I did. There’s a reason that the history books have no accurate date for my death. Did you ever think to question why?

The scholars believe in part that it was to keep morale up, that the men fighting with me during my short third reign didn’t want to admit that I was dead, and that they fought hard to keep my death a secret, and to keep my remains from being taken to Constantinople.

That was not true. Well, it was partly true, but my head was not removed from my body.

The person who was killed and thought to be me was one of my doubles. I had hired three men to pretend to be me. They were given explicit instructions and were made up to resemble me ever more closely than they already did.

My wife was not aware of this fact, however, and I made sure that she believed me to be dead when the reports reached her ears. As soon as that part of the ruse was completed, I never saw my wife again.

It pains me to this day that I was never able to live a life with her, and I don’t know if I was ever a father, or if she remarried. I chose to leave that part of me behind when I became the thing that I am now, and I have never even considered the thought of finding a woman to bring into this new life of mine. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone who I cared about. It isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it seem.

My death as a mortal happened at the end of October. It was when my contract was set to expire, and when my reign as Prince Dracul would end forever. I made the deal when I was in prison and feverish and I don’t remember what the terms were, I was convinced that I was talking to myself the whole time, but here I am.

The only regret that I have is that I was not given more time.

I suppose that, looking back on it, I would have been killed sooner than I would have liked had I not been given over to the unlife I live now.

I was just beginning to enjoy being Prince again. The old bloodlust returned, the fierce pride in my kingdom, the desire to make it better. I am, after all, my father’s son.

I was not ready to go, and two months into my final reign and I was forced to give it all up, instead of using my powers to rule as an immortal Prince and put and end to the fighting once and for all. Alas, I was unwelcome in my homeland once the deed was completed.

So I allowed my death to be exaggerated and my doubles were killed in different skirmishes. My “head” was brought to Constantinople when my third and final double was killed and it solidified the end of Vlad Dracul.

I was, however, already dead by the time this was happening. I died on the night of October 31 and was reborn in the early hours of November 1 in the year of 1476.

My mortal death was one that was not greeted by a funeral. Neither deaths that I suffered through were particularly peaceful or celebrated in the way that you would want it to be. The men who were my doubles were treated poorly, hastily buried when it was realized that they were not truly me, and spit upon and cursed for their treachery and lies. My first two doubles were left in shallow, unmarked graves where they fell. My men in both skirmishes were beaten back as the Ottoman forces grew more determined to take the body of Vlad Dracul back to their leaders.

When it was discovered that I had tricked them, the Ottoman forces were in such a rage that stories of their anger spread across the country like wildfire. I had tricked them, twice, and sent them into a howling fit. I had made them a laughingstock across the country and word of their stupidity passed the lips of everyone who had once feared them. This would be the quiet legacy of mine that would colour the stories of my brutality. Vlad Tepes was as clever as he was brutal, and not even the Turks were safe from my trickery.

I watched these things happen from a distance, unable to help, unable to interfere lest I truly be caught and killed. I was already living on borrowed time, and I had so much to do to set my affairs in order before I was to be whisked away from my mortal life and taken into the clutches of the dark of night as a vampire.

I certainly did not get everything done that I had wanted to and the creature who had offered me immortality came to collect his due right on schedule.

I fought against him for a week.

“Mortal one, it is time,” he said the first night he found me. I was going over military strategies for the next leg of the fighting that I was about to lead.

“I cannot come with you right now,” I argued. “We are winning for the first time in weeks, and I am desperate to take this next leg of the journey. What is one more night without me when there are hundreds of men, my own and Ottoman alike, upon whom you may feed?”

“You drive a hard bargain, little Mortal, but I will allow it.”

I argued with him this way for a week. Always one last thing to do. One last leg of the battle, one last conquest, one last woman. One more night, master, please, I beg you.

I was taken in the night, without warning. I had no time to argue with him when he had made up his mind that I had to be stopped. At this time, my “head” was just arriving in Constantinople, and I hadn’t seen my men that day. As far as they knew, I had been killed on the battlefield, when really I had been in a small hovel, hiding and trying not to let my men know that I had not been killed. My master came upon me that night as soon as there was no one around. I was reading by candlelight, waiting for my men to arrive with reports. I had two men I trusted with the plan of my doubles, and they had been keeping me abreast of all the happenings of the war in my absence. My master arrived and startled me.

“You are not who I was expecting,” I told him, brusquely.

“Your men believe you dead.”

“Not all,” I snapped. “I have men who know the truth.”

“And I have stepped in and bent their minds. They now know you are dead, there is no more time to stall.”

Whatever he did to me, I could not argue. He was upon me in a flash. I could not scream, I could not fight back, I had lost control of my body and my mind and I fell into stunned silence as he fell upon me with the swiftness of a wolf. I sat there, reeling from the wounds inflicted upon me that would grant me my immortality; I felt that I had not accomplished enough. I was forty-five years old when I died. I was alone, in a hovel, left to die as my blood seeped out from two delicate holes in my neck. I was left to suffer through the slowing of my heart; with nothing to keep me company except the memories of life only half lived. I hoped that I would see my brothers soon, that I would join them in death to be welcomed into their embrace in the afterlife, but that was not true. I forgot that, as my life drained away and my breathing became shallow and laboured, that I would not be joining them. Not yet.

I still had a contract that needed to be fulfilled.

Read another excerpt on Wattpad:



Kai Kiriyama is a Canadian Asgardian geek with an affinity for Pokemon and Shakespeare.  Accomplished at divination through crystals, pendulum, tea leaf reading and palmistry, Kai oftentimes frightens herself (and her clients!) with the accuracy of what she predicts. Convinced that both her to-read and to-write piles will never be completed, Kai tries not to worry too much about it. Oftentimes, you can find her hanging around on twitter and dispensing dubious advice through her blog.






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Julie’s thoughts on FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT by Melissa Petreshock

TODAY’S BREW: Tea. Oh stop it, I can have tea sometimes.

By Julie

When someone can give me writing reminiscent of Anne Rice (when Anne Rice was Anne Rice and not “oh, her again), this is a major accomplishment. It’s not every writer than can create a world so rich that the reader is taken completely out of the moment and inserted into the novel. Melissa Petreshock manages to do this not only in her debut novel, FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS, but in this incredible prequel short story she does it again. More importantly, the darkness and intensity of the characters really shines in this story, putting me head over heels for Dante, who I am definitely not supposed to find as alluring as I do. But he says stuff like THIS:

“Perhaps you can teach me to be like you, to feel sorrow rather than rage, to desire sacrifice rather than seek revenge.” His voice drops low. “Save me.”

And then you throw at me mythology that is unparalleled in its depth, and I can’t resist. Vampires, dragons, gods, you name it, you get it and it’s done so seamlessly and cohesively that I am in awe of her ability to mesh such beings into one storyline.

FSDN - Cannot escape promo teaser

Introduce yourself to this amazing world through FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT.


After four millennia of waiting for change, the Mother Goddess sees no other recourse but to summon Theo Pendragon to perform his sacred duty as one of the Dracopraesi, imprison her only son in the Underworld, and save her people.

Given the​ vast destruction Dante has caused ​in the Earthen Realm, Theo is prepared to fulfill Dana’s request​ without hesitation​, but ​when confronted with ​unexpected events and a plea for mercy, will the dragon ​find him worth redemption, or is it too late for this dark soul to seek forgiveness?

FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT is a ​short story companion to FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS (Stars and Souls Book 1). ​Three thousand years before Caitriona Hayden is even born, Dante’s actions and Theo’s decision impact the destiny that awaits them all.

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Melissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel.


You can find Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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The Tethering by Megan O’Russell


Today, Megan O’Russell stops by to ask some interesting questions about building paranormal worlds, and talk about her new release, The Tethering.

Purchase through (Click on the Appropriate Link):

Silence in the Library Publishing
Barnes & Noble

Vampires that sparkle. Vampires that fly. Are werewolves victims of a disease, or is it a hereditary trait usually found in biker gangs? Do fairies have wings? Are they human size or tiny? These are the questions fantasy authors have to ask themselves. Are ghosts allowed in your world, or do they not exist? Are witches and wizards found in castles or walking the streets? Do you have vampires but not centaurs?

When I found myself writing a fantasy novel, one of the most enchantingly fun things I did was decide what paranormal and magical rules needed to exist in my world.

All sixteen-year-old Jacob Evans wants is to win the heart of Emilia Gray, but with order in the magical world crumbling, war threatening, and Emilia’s boyfriend living across the hall, he may never have the chance.

Jacob Evans loses everything he has ever known and is tossed into a world of magic. The Dragons, a group of rebel wizards, are threatening to expose the existence of magic to humans. Jacob is determined to find a way to fit into Emilia’s family, but as his powers grow, so does the danger. With the death toll mounting, Jacob is accused of acts of rebel terrorism and must fight to stay in a world he’s only just beginning to discover.

When Emilia’s life is threatened, Jacob must risk everything to save her. Does he have the power to rescue her in time? And what could their survival cost?

Jacob is a wizard in a world of cell phones, and a big part of his story is his finding a way to live in both the world he knows and the magical one he’s just discovered. Allowing him to learn about what werewolves might be and if fairies exist helped me to define the world of The Tethering. But even as he learns, all the secrets of the world are not revealed. Magic and places that have been lost through time are found and change everything.

So how do you decide what rules your characters live by? How do you show your readers? And how often do you cheat?

Answer here or on Facebook at  or Tweet your answer to @MeganORussell

And don’t forget to order The Tethering and learn about Jacob Evans’s world.

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