The Vampire Affliction Cover Reveal and $50 Giveaway!

Vampires, Demigods, and Gods–Oh, My!

It’s time to reveal the cover for the second book in Amazon bestselling author Eva Pohler’s The Vampires of Athens series.

VampireAfflictionebookfinal

Gertie has become friends, and has possibly fallen in love, with both a demigod and a vampire, who happen to be at war. Although she sympathizes with the vampire uprising, she distrusts the leaders, especially when they plan to kill humans to cull out the demigods before ambushing them. As the three unlikely friends discover that neither side is perfectly good or evil or right or wrong, they work together to try to bring about the best outcome; but, when their parents and the gods undermine their efforts and hang them out to dry, the three teens realize they’re on their own and no one will save them.

To celebrate the reveal of Vampire Affliction: The Vampires of Athens, Book, Two, we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card! You can enter the Rafflecopter widget below each day through April 21st, which is PARTY DAY!

If you haven’t already joined the party, you can do so here!

We are also celebrating by running a special on the first book in the series. For a limited time, you can purchase the first book, Vampire Addiction, for 0.99 cents!  Go here for purchase links, or click on the image below to go directly to Amazon.

Vampire Addiction Ebook Final

Here is a list of places participating in this reveal. Go check them out!

Charles’ Book Nook
Lisa’s Book Lair
The Power of Three Readers
Wicked Women Book Blog
Dowie’s Place
Pure Jonel
BookHeathens
tanyas book nook
Escaping Life’s Craziness With Books
Word Wenches Guilty Pleasure
Tia Bach, Author
Rose Garcia
Dina Given, Author
Devouring Books
The Crazy Booksellers
Blame It On The Books
Book Crazy Gals
Steph’s Reads & Reviews
Author Erin Danzer
Jeanine Walsh Palinkas
Infectedbyreedus
Kristi’s Bookreadery
The Paranormal Bookworm
Sarah Darlington-Jones
A Thousand Worlds Book Blog
The Paisley Reader
The Schwartz Reviews
lilicasplace
Beth Pabalan Leneberg
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Vampire Affliction Cover Reveal and Giveaway Coming Soon!

I am so thrilled with the way the second book in The Vampires of Athens Series is coming along. Something shocking that even I didn’t see coming has happened, and the book is even better than I originally envisioned. I hope you’ll think so, too!

If you haven’t already purchased your copy of the first book, Vampire Addiction: The Vampires of Athens, Book One, you can grab your copy for $2.99 at any of these retailers:

Vampires of Athens Promo

Kindle   Nook   iBooks   Google Play   Amazon Paperback Smashwords  Kobo

Vampire Affliction: The Vampires of Athens, Book Two, releases May 11th and will be available for pre-order on April 15th, the same day we’ll launch the COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY!

The COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY will kick off with a rafflecopter giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card. It will culminate in a three-hour Facebook event full of fun and prizes on Tuesday, April 21st. You can join the event here.

If you have a blog or Facebook page and would like to participate in the COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY post, you can sign up here. All participants will be included in the rafflecopter widget.

Here’s an excerpt from Vampire Affliction: The Vampires of Athens, Book Two:

Jeno pointed a finger at her. “I know my father. He doesn’t kill with pleasure.”

“We need to stand up to him and to Dionysus. We need to tell him this is wrong.”

“Is it wrong?”

“Killing people for any reason is wrong.”

“History disagrees with you.”

“I need to feed.” She pulled away from him and turned toward the sea.

“I know why you want to go to Athens.”

The little bit of blood pumping through her veins rushed to her cheeks as she turned to him and said, “He’s my friend.”

“And my enemy.” His face also turned red. “Not by my choice. He is the one who threatened my family. I did nothing but protect his.”

“Until you changed me.”

He blanched. “That was an accident.”

“But you weren’t thinking of me.” Tears welled in her eyes.

“Must I always think of you?”

She spoke through gritted teeth. “You put me in harm’s way without hesitation.”

“You wouldn’t have been in harm’s way had you not begged me to drink from you so often, had you not lusted for my power.” He struggled to maintain his composure. “I lost track of how much of your blood I’d consumed. I never wanted it.”

“Yes you did.”

“You are as much to blame as I.”

She wanted to scream. “I didn’t know I would be used to awaken your father, to instigate all of this…”

“Watch what you say out loud.”

“Please don’t follow me.” She lifted off the ground.

He snapped his hand around her wrist. “Gertie, wait. Please. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She jerked her hand free and took off across the sea, streaming tears.

 

When she reached Hector’s house, she was surprised to find his upstairs window open, even though it was winter. Across the room beyond his bed, Hector sat at his desk with a charcoal pencil. His thoughts revealed that he was drawing her again. She cringed when she saw the image through his eyes. He had portrayed her as a vampire with sharp fangs dripping with blood. Her arms were raised in a threatening gesture.

So that was what she was to him now: a monster.

As tears fell down her cheeks, he sensed her and met her eyes with shock.

“Gertie?” He jumped from his chair and was at the window in less than a second. “I’m so glad to see you. Come in.”

“I can’t stay. I’ve come to warn you.”

“Come in, please.”

She climbed inside and looked up at him, resisting the urge to wrap her arms around his neck. He was shirtless, in nothing but a pair of blue pajama pants. He looked beautiful and had the sweetest smile on his face. Unable to resist reading his thoughts, she learned how badly he wished to kiss her.

“Hector, I…”

He took her in his arms and held her close, his cheek pressed against the top of her head. “I’ve been worried sick about you.”

She inhaled his scent and sighed. How she wished she could stay there, enfolded in his arms, her face nestled against his chest. She glanced at the window, on the lookout for Jeno and the others. They could be coming at any moment.

Hector cupped her face and pressed his lips to her cheek, and she felt like melting candle wax.

Oh my gods, his mind said to hers, echoing her sentiments exactly.

“I’m so sorry, Hector. I never meant for this to happen. I was trying to help.”

“I know. Tell me how you’ve been. Are you doing okay? I’ve been mad with worry.”

“I’ve been okay. I miss everyone.” She hadn’t meant to cry again, but the tears came uncontrollably. “I miss Mamá and Babá and Nikita and everyone.”

Have you missed me?

“And I’ve missed you, too.”

He kissed her other cheek, and she thought she would melt away. Being in his arms made her feel dizzy with pleasure and made her want to forget about everything else.

But she couldn’t allow herself to forget. Lives were at stake. “Hector, I…”

Hector closed the window. “It’s friggin’ cold out there tonight.”

She read his mind again and learned he had only kept the window open with the hope of her return. Now that she was here, he could close it.

But she knew closing it would not protect them from the vampires if Jeno had decided to follow, either alone or with others from their squadron.

“Listen to me, Hector,” she said, trying to focus on her reason for coming. “The vampires are planning to capture demigods from all the major cities of Greece tomorrow night.”

“What?”

“Their plan is to kill innocent people out in the open to cull the demigods out. Then the vampires will ambush the demigods and take them to the Minotaur’s labyrinth.”

“But why?”

“To use you as leverage. They want the gods’ cooperation.” Her stomach felt sick at the thought that she was responsible for planting the idea of leverage in Dionysus’s mind. Her stomach also hurt because she was hungry. She needed blood.

“For what? What do they hope to gain from all this?”

“Freedom.”

Hector’s brows furled. “Freedom? They aren’t prisoners. I don’t understand.”

“It’s the way they’re treated, how they’re looked down upon, even by the gods. They want respect and economic freedom.”

Economic freedom? What’s stopping them from that?”

“They can’t get jobs because people look down on them. They want to be able to own their own homes instead of having to hide out in caves.” She thought of the women who slummed in the city. “Many of them really do have pathetic lives.”

“But they’re a danger to society, Gertie. We can’t have them living among us.”

“Only because they’re desperate. And many of them already live among humans. If we organized some kind of blood bank for them, if we made it easier for them to survive…”

“Are you serious?”

She gawked at him. “You do realize I’m one of them now.”

“Not for long.”

“But….” The idea of becoming human again filled her with hope. As much as she loved Jeno and sympathized with the other vampires, she missed her humanity. But did she miss it enough to destroy Vladimir?

“I’ve got to warn the others,” Hector said.

“How?”

He grabbed his cell phone from his desk. “I’ll text every demigod I know. We can meet tomorrow at our council hall to discuss what to do.”

Gertie hoped she’d done the right thing. The vampires wouldn’t stand a chance if the demigods and gods united forces.

Of course she’d done the right thing. How could she question it? The vampires planned to destroy human lives. She just felt so sorry for Jeno and for all he had lost. And she really did understand why the vampires wanted change.

When he finished his text, Hector’s phone rang. It was his mother. Gertie could hear through the phone. His mother said she was at the hospital and couldn’t talk but she would be at the meeting. She also wanted to know if he’d seen Gertie.

“She’s with me now.”

“Don’t let her leave. The tramps will want to destroy her once they learn what she’s done.”

“Got it.”

Gertie was overcome with fear. She hadn’t given any thought about what would happen to her by coming here; she’d known only that she had to come.

Hector returned the phone to his desk and took Gertie in his arms. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you with my life.”

“That’s what worries me. I came to warn you, but I’ve just put you in even greater danger, if what your mother says is true.”

“She’s only speculating.”

“I should go.”

“That’s crazy. I don’t want you to ever leave my side again.”

“I know you want to protect me, but…”

“This is about more than that. You know how I feel. Please don’t leave and break my heart again.”

“I promise to come back,” Gertie said. “I’ll be right back.”

Hector squeezed her shoulders. “Are you kidding? I’m afraid to let you out of my sight. Let me go with you.”

“But I need to….” She didn’t want to say it, especially after the picture he’d been drawing of her.

“You need blood?”

Hesitantly, she nodded.

“Drink from me.” He leaned in, as though he would kiss her. “Take my blood.”

“Hector, I…”

“Please.”

He pressed his lips to hers, and every cell in her body rejoiced. Then he bit his tongue and slipped it between her lips.

She wasn’t sure if it was because he was a demigod or because she was falling in love with him, but the taste of his blood was rich and delicious—more so than that of any other she had tasted. She gently sucked on his tongue, but it only made her thirstier.

As if he had read her mind, he lifted his chin to expose his neck. She kissed the soft skin where it pulsed. She licked and kissed along his throat, going crazy with the thoughts coming from his mind. He knew it wasn’t the right time, but he was fighting the desire to feel every part of her body with his hands, to touch her skin with every part of his.

She gasped with the conflicting desires coursing through her body. She wanted to drink, but she also wanted to crash her body against his to never be separated again.

Quenching one desire over another, she moved her hands along his back, around his waist, and up his chest to his shoulders and biceps, thoroughly enjoying the sensation of his growing desire for her.

He pressed his lips hard against hers. She twisted her fingers through his hair, unable to stop the moan from escaping her throat. His hands cupped her bottom and lifted her off the floor. She wrapped her legs around his waist, like she had in the dream.

“Oh, Hector,” she whispered in between kisses.

“I love you, Gertie,” he said against her mouth. “I love you so much.”

Dare she admit it? She’d known for a long time. “I love you, too.”

Her mouth stretched open as her fangs extended of their own accord. She opened her eyes and flinched at the sight of Jeno watching through Hector’s window. He’d made himself invisible, but she, of course, could see him perfectly. His mind was unguarded. He wanted her to read his hurt and misery and feeling of betrayal as she closed her eyes and sank her fangs into Hector’s throat.

Erin Danzer’s Newest Cover: The Vampire’s Daughter

It’s no fooling – Erin Danzer really has a new book coming out! On April 10, The Vampire’s Daughter, Book One of the Emmie Davenport series, will be published by Nevermore Press. Today I’m very happy to help Erin show off the cover and blurb for her upcoming release!

VampireDaughterCover

Ordinary girl Emmie Davenport thought college would be a fresh beginning. Little did she know it would change her life forever. After a vicious vampire attack, Emmie discovers the truth about her not-so-ordinary yet deceased parents. Now it is up to her to continue their legacy.

To guide her through this new life is TJ Hawthorne, a self-proclaimed badass who comes to town just to train her. Tensions rise as Emmie denies the attraction she feels toward him, especially now that she’s rekindled a relationship with her best friend, Logan.

But training with TJ is only half the battle. After multiple attacks by otherworldly creatures on campus, TJ whisks Emmie and Logan off to Chicago. There, Emmie learns another devastating truth that further shatters her world. In the end, she must lose someone she loves — or become the thing she hates most.

MEAbout the Author:
Ever since she was small, Erin’s imagination has led her to tell stories and create worlds, including the world of Kalearnia (found in the Spiral Defenders series). Her school notebooks were doodled with pictures and writing notes in the margins beside class notes. No scrap of paper was safe from all of Erin’s notes and creations. But writing wouldn’t pay the bills for a very long time.

Erin spent three summers giving away smiles as she handed out clothes to the working populace of an amusement park. It was the best three summers of her life (also where she met her husband). Since then, Erin has become a mediocre cookie decorator, learned to make a mean pizza in less than two minutes, and has sold dresses as well as window dressings.

When she isn’t exploring worlds of her own creation, you can find Erin with her nose stuck in the worlds of others, supporting Indie Authors everywhere, hanging out on Facebook, or spending time with her kids, husband, and their cat. Erin loves connecting with her readers. To learn more, visit her website: http://www.authorerindanzer.com

Other novels by Erin Danzer:

The Spiral Defenders Series:
Into the Spiral (free ebook everywhere!)
The Spiral Ascended
Christmas Around the Spiral (short story)
Embrace the Spiral
The Spiral Ascended

Gods and Mortals

Elie Wiesel once wrote that “God created man because he loves stories.”

The ambiguity of the pronoun “he” is interesting to me. Is God the “story-lover” who created man? Or is man the “story-lover” who invented the creator?

Whether or not you believe God is a “story-lover,” there’s no denying that humankind is.

And most of us are fascinated by the stories of gods.

Thirteen other bestselling authors, who also happen to love the stories of gods, have joined with me to offer you a FREE sampling of the mythological worlds our stories inhabit.

Gods and Mortals Boxed Set

Walk among the Norse, Celtic, Greek, and Native American gods and tread with angels, demons, vampires, and werewolves.

Join the freshest voices in urban fantasy and paranormal, New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors, on unique journeys to heaven, hell, and worlds beyond.

Get this heavenly collection of paranormal romance and urban fantasy … before it’s too late!

Free for a limited time at these locations:

Kindle  Nook   iBooks   Google Play

Elsker by S. T. Bende
Kristia Tostenson just found out her new boyfriend is the Norse God of Winter, and an immortal assassin destined to die at Ragnarok. Her orderly life just got very messy.

I Bring the Fire (A Loki Story) by C. Gockel
Amy Lewis is being pursued by a very bad wolf. Can Loki God of Chaos and Mischief save her, or even save himself?

Sympathy for the Devil by Christine Pope
When the Devil tires of ruling Hell, his only hope for salvation is to capture the heart of one ordinary young woman.

Dead Radiance by T. G. Ayer
Bryn Halbrook, modern teenager, creature of myth. Dead Radiance makes Norse Myth a contemporary truth, pitting one teenager girl against Trickster gods, and mythical creatures.

The Gatekeeper’s Sons by Eva Pohler
A teen becomes entangled with the Gods of Olympus when one of them falls in love with her. Some give her gifts, others seek to destroy her …

Nolander by Becca Mills
A young woman from small-town Wisconsin discovers that monsters are real — and that she might just be one herself.

Crossroads Saga by Mary Ting
Protecting Claudia from the fallen was half-angel Michael’s duty. Falling in love was never part of the plan.

Twin Souls by DelSheree Gladden
Uriah and Claire didn’t believe in their tribal stories until Claire’s poisoned and those myths spring to life to test their love and unravel destiny.

Blood Debt by Nancy Straight
Camille is denied her father’s identity until her mother’s death. She discovers a family she never dreamed of and a world that should not exist.

The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard
Can the magical Tuatha de Danaan, the forgotten people of Ireland, help Allison restore her mother’s sanity?

Marked (Soul Guardians Book # 1) Kim Richardson
A sixteen-year-old girl suddenly dies and finds
herself in Horizon as a rookie in the Guardian Angel Legion.

Relentless by Karen Lynch
Sara Grey lives a double life until a fateful encounter with a sadistic vampire and a fearless warrior exposes her powerful gifts and changes the course of her life forever.

Hope(less) by Melissa Haag
The world is on the verge of a Judgment that will change everything, and Gabby, a uniquely gifted human, is the first key.

Runes by Ednah Walters
My new neighbor, Torin St. James, is the key to my father’s disappearance, my mother’s past and the secret they’ve been keeping from me–my destiny.

Defending The Walking Dead

I was surprised to find my Facebook feed filled with criticism of The Walking Dead, a zombie apocalyptic drama on AMC that just finished its fifth season. I expected a lot of excitement over tonight’s finale, but I didn’t expect anyone to outright say they hate the show. Who could hate The Walking Dead?

When I read the posts more carefully, I realized the criticism was coming from people who didn’t watch the show. A few of them had watched one or two episodes. One of them had even watched an entire season. But the vast majority of the critics were people that said they weren’t into zombies and thought the show was stupid.

Okay. I get that. Because that used to be me. I wasn’t interested in post-apocalyptic drama and zombies, either, but my son recently got me hooked. I watched all five seasons over spring break and now it’s my favorite show. Here’s what I want others to know: It’s about so much more than zombies.

It’s about what kind of person you will be when faced with horrible choices. It’s about a shifting moral compass and about crossing ethical lines. It’s about the complexity of character–how just about everyone has an amazing side and a terrible side. It makes you compare their conflicts to the real world and see that there are more parallels than you’d expect. It asks you, “What kind of person are YOU?” And I love that.

I love shows that invite self-reflection. That’s what this show does.

And tonight’s finale really drove those self-reflective questions home. When Carol holds the knife to Pete, when Glenn points the gun at Nicholas, when Sasha trains the automatic on Gabriel–these moments show characters pushed to their limits in extreme circumstances. As they point their weapons, you are asked, “What would you do?” and “What do you want them to do?” which leads to “What kind of person are you?”

In all three cases, the characters choose forgiveness and compassion. Carol tells the coward and bully that he should “play his cards right,” and the fact that she didn’t stoop to his level and hurt him made her triumphant. Maggie’s loving hand encircling the hand of Father Gabriel’s brought me to tears. I hated that character for his selfishness and cowardice until I saw Maggie and Sasha holding his hands in a prayer ring. Then I realized that I wanted to be that kind of person, too. And as much as I wanted to see Nicholas die for what he did to Noah, it filled me with all kinds of good feelings to see he and Glenn helping one another back inside the wall.

These acts, however,  are contrasted with the grand finale scene in which the Alexandrians have gathered with the rest of the community to discuss Rick Grimes. Rick is late to the meeting because walkers broached the gate after Father Gabriel failed to close it properly. The dead walker Rick brings to the meeting helps him make his point that the Alexandrians aren’t ready to live without Rick Grimes. And when Pete busts in drunk and kills Reg, Deanna finally agrees. Rick obeys her order to execute Pete just as the life-preserving Morgan finally arrives to witness the act.

Morgan’s appearance introduces a new moral compass by which to judge Rick and the others. Morgan’s expression leaves no doubt that he is appalled. Should we be, too? After all, Reg’s death was an accident. Yes, Pete is a drunk and a wife beater, but he’s also a doctor, and according to Jessie, he’s been rehabilitated once before.

These moral questions that provoke self-reflection,  the constant high stakes (one never knows when one’s most beloved characters might be killed), and the unpredictability of each episode (I really thought Rick would be exiled), make this ongoing drama intoxicating and addictive.

 

The Fault in Our Stars Movie-Book Comparison

My book club chose to read The Fault in Our Stars this month, and tonight we all watched the movie together for the first time.

I’d already read the book once before and read it again yesterday so I could have the details fresh in my mind. It was just as wonderful the second time around.

The movie did an AMAZING job of staying pretty true to the book. There were minor differences for the sake of saving time. I was SO PLEASED.


If you’ve not read the book or seen the movie, I really encourage you to do one or both. It’s a beautiful story about a terminally ill teen who strikes up an interesting relationship with two kids at her support group. One of the boys falls in love with her, but, even though she’s drawn to him, she’s afraid of hurting him. She is, after all, going to die.

The book brings in these amazing ideas, like “Pain is meant to be felt.” Think about that. Sometimes we go through extreme measures to avoid pain, but maybe we shouldn’t always.

I also loved the idea that some infinities are greater than other infinities and how our main character, Hazel, is grateful for the little infinity she got to share with Gus. Their days were numbered, but they found a forever inside of those numbered days.

Interesting, too, to be reminded that a terminally ill person isn’t a grenade who will one day explode and take everyone down in their wake. Those who are close to the person relish the privilege of having had the chance to love them. Loved ones never regret having known a cancer victim. They are always GRATEFUL.

Finally, we don’t have to leave some kind of huge mark on the world before we die to feel significant. As long as we are important to the people in our lives, they will remember us, and that is enough.

I highly recommend this book and movie!

 

Instant Attraction VS Insta-Love

Love at first sight might exist in the world, but most of us don’t believe in it, especially when we read it in fiction.

But there’s a difference between insta-love and instant attraction. I think everyone has experienced instant attraction, right?

As soon as you become aware of that person, you can no longer not be aware anymore. In fact, you are hyper-aware of that person, even if other people are talking to you and you are expected to answer. The rest of the world becomes a distraction to your new focus. This person is on your mind night and day.

This isn’t love. You may not have even spoken to the person yet. This is instant attraction.

The attraction may compel you to find a way to meet the person. If your father is the lord of the Underworld, you know there will be a steep price to pay. But you can’t walk away from the opportunity to explore this possibility. You don’t love her. You don’t know her. But you can’t stop thinking about her, and you need to find out if it means something.

This is not insta-love. It takes the entire story for Thanatos to fall in love with Therese and for Therese to fall in love with Than. And by the beginning of the second book, she still has her doubts.

GatekeepersSonsEbook

 

Vampire Affliction: The Vampires of Athens, Book Two, Chapter One

Chapter One: First Drink

Jeno led Gertie across the dark night above Athens. Jeno’s father flew close beside them, and a legion of vampires followed. Gertie was barely aware of them all, however. Her thirst for human blood dominated her conscious thought.

Trembling and on the edge of panic, she cried out, the sound of her voice foreign to her. It was more like a strange and desperate bird.

“What is it?” Jeno asked.

“Blood.” She could think of nothing else to say. “Blood!”

Jeno’s eyes widened with shock.

“She’s been drained,” Jeno’s father said, in Greek. “She’ll die if she doesn’t feed.”

They plummeted toward the cityscape and swerved between buildings before entering a balcony window and coming to an abrupt stop. Even though she was barely all there, Gertie recognized the cream-colored walls, gilded mirrors, and mahogany and maroon furnishings of the Hotel Frangelico.

The other surviving vampires soon joined them—Calandra, Jeno’s sister, among them.

With cheeks full of tears, Calandra rushed forward and embraced her father. “I can’t believe you are standing here before me.”

Her father put his arms around his daughter and kissed the top of her curly black hair. “Neither can I.”

They spoke in Greek, but, to Gertie, it may as well have been English. Despite her urgent need for blood and her feelings of disorientation from all that had just happened at the Angelis basement, Gertie was astounded by how easily she understood a language she’d been struggling with since arriving in Greece over four months ago.

The Angelis basement. Hector. The image of him running beneath her, from block to block, his bright blue eyes never leaving her as she flew with the vampires, made her sick. She hadn’t meant to hurt him. She hadn’t meant to hurt any of them. None of this was supposed to happen. She’d been a pawn, used by Jeno to save his father.

“Lord Vladimir,” another vampire said, stepping forward with a bow.

Soon all of them showed Jeno’s father their obedience and loyalty by calling him their lord and bowing before him. Some stood, while others hovered in the air, closer to the ceiling, to make room.

Jeno quickly took her in his arms. “I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. I never intended…”

“Jeno,” his father called.

Gertie’s throat felt tight, her lips were parched, and her stomach was burning, but she watched in silence as Jeno stepped forward, too. She could read his thoughts of love, joy, and incredulity. Jeno couldn’t believe he had the opportunity to look upon his father’s face once more.

“Father,” he said.

Equal to his son in height, but with much longer hair, thicker brows, and an older face, his father embraced Jeno and kissed his cheek. Then he pointed to Gertie. “This girl must feed, or she will die. Bring me a human.”

Gertie wanted blood, but the thought of drinking from another person terrified and repulsed her.  As many times as she’d been bitten, she’d never experienced this overwhelming and nerve-rattling side effect. Trembling and near hysteria, she cried to Jeno, “What’s happening to me? Why does he keep saying I’m going to die?”

Jeno reached for her hands and pulled her close to him. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize how much of your blood I gave to my father.”

“What are you saying?” she asked, afraid of the answer.

“You already know.” He kissed her forehead. “I shouldn’t have allowed myself to drink from you so frequently. My lust for your blood, and your lust for my power…But it doesn’t matter. Now we can be together forever.”

“Are you saying I’m a vampire?” she asked, faltering on her last word and feeling suddenly faint. Everyone in the room was watching her.

Jeno stroked her hair, the blond strands in stark contrast with his dark skin. “Not yet. First you must feed.”

“What?” She couldn’t breathe. The room was spinning. Her knees quivered and barely held her up. “I what?”

Jeno’s father stepped closer to her with the enthusiastic boy she had met two nights ago in the elevator. She recalled how happily he had turned himself invisible and had reminded her of her own excitement over possessing the powers of the vampire.

“When a human is drained by one of us, it dies,” Vladimir explained.  “Unless it feeds on human blood. Then it turns.” He moved the boy between them. “You must drink or perish.”

The girl vampire to whom the boy “belonged” stood nearby and said, “Don’t think. Just drink.”

The same vampire had told Gertie when they had met not to think too hard and too deeply. Gertie remembered her exact words. The girl had said, “Life is what it is. Just enjoy it, dearie.”

Calandra, who’d remained at her father’s side during all of this, put an arm around Gertie. “The first time is the most difficult. You want to drink so badly, but you are also repulsed. After this, it will get easier. I promise. Just close your eyes.”

Gertie hadn’t expected such tenderness and compassion from someone who had attacked her the night Jeno had erased her memory.

Calandra lifted the human boy’s wrist, pierced it with her own fangs, and then offered the bleeding limb to Gertie.

Gertie stared at the blood in horror, yet her mouth began to salivate and her stomach to growl. She closed her eyes and fought back tears. She’d never meant to become a vampire. How had this happened? Full of sadness, regret, and a terrible longing for the Angelis family and for Hector, she put her lips to the boy’s wrist and drank.

“Turn me,” the boy pleaded. “I want to be like you.”

Gertie closed her eyes more tightly and gave into the desire to drink as she pressed her lips against his skin and sucked. After at least a dozen or more swallows of the warm, intoxicating liquid, she opened her eyes, refreshed. The room spun and danced for several minutes. She breathed in and out, feeling herself growing stronger. In all the stories she had read, the transformation from human to vampire was usually painful, as the mortal body died away and the immortal one took its place; but, she felt no pain. The warm blood moved through her veins, quenching and pleasing every cell in her body.

Something was happening to her bones, muscles, and skin. Gertie believed they had become denser, harder. Her nails, teeth and hair grew maybe a quarter of an inch. In addition to the superior vision and hearing she’d already experienced while infected with the vampire virus, she felt her body become a hardened, invigorated machine. She felt spastic and caged and wanted oh so badly to leap from the building and into the dark night, to be free. But before she could run, Calandra and Jeno had their arms around her, and both kissed her.

“Thank you for saving our father,” Calandra said. “We should all thank her, yes?” she said to the crowd of thirty or more vampires in the room. “Thank her and welcome her to our fold.”

Each of them came to Gertie and kissed her on her cheek or hand, even though she hadn’t saved Jeno’s father willingly. They had used her. Yet, she was moved by their gratitude, and she now realized they had used her out of desperation.

After they had all given Gertie their thanks and welcome, she stood in the center of the group beside Jeno and his family like royalty. The vampires looked to her in deference, because of her sacrifice, and probably, too, because Jeno was the son of their lord and they knew he loved her.

“What now, Lord Vladimir?” one of the vampires asked from across the room.

“My brothers and sisters,” Vladimir said. “I have had centuries to think about what I would do in the event that I was awakened. First, I shall seek counsel with our Lord Dionysus. My hope is that he will agree we should attack the city of Athens—and other cities, if necessary—until the gods of Mount Olympus become willing to hear us.”

No! Gertie thought, as shouts of approval rang throughout the room. Everyone turned their eyes on her and frowned.

“She’s new,” Jeno said in her defense. “Give her time to adjust.”

“We must no longer be treated as the scourge of the human race,” Vladimir said to her. He turned to the others. “For too long, we have suffered. We must be set free to live lives of prosperity, joy, and peace.”

Shouts and applause erupted in the room. Everyone there wore a smile, except Gertie, who wished she could disappear.

Jeno spoke to her telepathically, “Don’t be afraid, and remember that your thoughts are an open book until you learn how to block them.” He squeezed her hand.

She got the message. She focused on how happy Jeno and Calandra were to be reunited with their father, for seeing Jeno’s smile did bring her joy, even if everything else terrified her.

At that moment a dozen more vampires flocked in through the balcony window and hovered there, the leader pointing his finger at Vladimir in the center of the small, crowded room.

“Why should he lead us?” the vampire sneered. “He turned his back on us and has been locked away for over a millennium. What does he know of our suffering?”

Gertie glanced at Jeno, who squeezed her hand with reassurance.

Don’t worry, he said in her mind. I’ll take care of you.

“Believe me, I know of your suffering!” Vladimir said kindly. “Yes, it’s true that I abhorred what I’d—what we’d—become. I turned away from blood and chose nothingness.”

“Exactly!” the intruder said.

“But it was not nothingness I found as I lay there, day after day, year after year, century after century, listening to each and every one of your thoughts.” Vladimir raised his open palms. “I know your suffering. I know it all too well.”

“You were conscious?” a vampire from the crowd asked.

“Aware?” another asked.

“Yes,” Vladimir turned to make eye contact with each one there. “For centuries I have been helpless to respond to your suffering. But no more.”

The crowd hissed in surprise and shock.

The new group of vampires looked down at Jeno’s father with uncertainty. The others in the room became deathly still and quiet.

“Why shouldn’t Homer lead us?” the intruder shouted. “He’s as old as you and has suffered and fought alongside us.”

Jeno telepathically told Gertie that Homer was the leader of another clan, and that the vampires here belonged to his father’s clan.

“Where is Homer?” Vladimir glanced around the room.

“Not here,” another replied.

“I would gladly share his counsel, though perhaps he’s best at telling stories,” Vladimir said.

Laughter and snickering erupted, but Vladimir silenced them all. “That was no insult. Never underestimate the power of the storyteller.” Then he added. “I’m not a tyrant. You have nothing to fear from me. These people look to me to show them the way, but I would be glad to have Homer at my side. And it is Dionysus who shall lead us.”

The newcomers seemed pacified by Vladimir’s words.

“Dawn is about to break,” Vladimir continued, raking his hand through his ancient hair. “Tonight, we should reconvene to discuss our strategies. We should meet in the caves near the temple of our lord. For now, invite everyone you know, then return to your hotel rooms or to your caves, pray to our Lord Dionysus, and be watchful. Stay in groups. Go nowhere alone. Report any suspicious activity directly to me.”

The vampires filed out, like roaches in the Angelis apartment. Some left through the window and others through the door. Soon Gertie was alone in the room with Jeno and his sister and father.

It seemed their first concern was to make sure Gertie was okay, which both surprised and moved her, considering Vladimir had been trapped for centuries in a miserable state of consciousness. She was grateful, but what she really wanted was to be left alone so she could process what had happened to her. It hadn’t sunk in. She could say it over and over in her mind—I am a vampire—but it didn’t seem real.

Oops. She’d forgotten that they could hear her every thought.

“Your feelings are completely understandable,” Vladimir said. “Why don’t you lie down and rest?”

Gertie nodded.

“We’ll talk outside.” Vladimir beckoned his children to follow him to the balcony where the night sky was still untouched by pre-dawn light.

Jeno kissed Gertie’s cheek and followed his father and sister outside.

Gertie lay down on one of the double beds and pulled the thick blankets up to her chin. She closed her eyes and thought that—just maybe—this had all been a bad dream. She would go to sleep and then, when she would awaken, she would find herself back home with the Angelis family. And she would be human.

 

 

Conference Attendees Can Pre-Order My Books

Are you attending any of these events? If so, are you interested in pre-ordering one or more of my titles?

April 14-17, 2015: Texas Library Association, Austin

May 22-25, 2015: Comicpalooza, Houston

June 18-21, 2015: UtopYA Con, Nashville

July 23-25, 2015: Penned Con, St. Louis

Readers may be wondering if there is an advantage to pre-ordering books over waiting to buy at the event. The answer is YES. The most obvious advantage is that you don’t have to worry about an author selling out. Your copy or copies will be guaranteed. The other advantage is that authors usually offer an incentive for pre-orders. This year, my incentive is that all pre-paid orders get a discount of 20% off the regular price.

Fellow authors may be wondering if they should make pre-orders available, too. YES, YOU SHOULD, for many reasons. First, simply by posting the pre-order around social media, you are marketing your brand. Second, pre-orders will help you to better plan for the number of books you should bring to the event. Third, you can offer the option to have readers pre-pay, which will help you with your upfront costs. Finally, you can include an incentive for readers to subscribe to your newsletter on your form.

TLA Con Attendees, Pre-Order Here:

Comicpalooza Attendees, Pre-Order Here:

UTOPYA Con Attendees, Pre-Order Here:

Penned Con Attendees, Pre-Order Here:

Seven Sparks of YA Weekend Trivia

Weekend Trivia Graphic

Today is the inauguration of the Seven Sparks of YA WEEKEND TRIVIA!

Every Saturday, we will ask a trivia question from one of our favorite young adult titles. Readers have all weekend to comment with their answers. The first person to comment with the correct answer will be entered into a monthly drawing five times. Everyone else who answers correctly will also be entered once.

The monthly drawing will take place on the last Sunday of each month. The prize is always a surprise, but it might be a t-shirt, swag jewelry, a signed book, or a swag pack.

The correct answer to each WEEKEND TRIVIA question will be posted on Sunday night.

You can answer this weekend’s question by visiting the Seven Sparks of YA Facebook page.

Good luck!

Get your Greek on!