Tag Archives: vampires

Stanley Hotel Estes Colorado

Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King is a supernatural thriller about a recovering alcoholic, Dan Torrance, and his fight to save a young girl named Abra Stone from a group of RV-hauling vampires that eat the paranormal powers of children.

The Ghosts Tried to Steal Danny's Paranormal Powers

The Ghosts Tried to Steal Danny’s Paranormal Powers

Dan began his fight with malevolent spirits at the age of five, when he joined his parents for a terrifying winter as the caretakers of a Colorado Grande Dame hotel. Although closed for the season, the secluded Overlook Hotel teemed with specters. They tried to kill little Danny and steal his considerable paranormal powers to fuel their murderous haunting. He and his mother barely escaped. The Overlook was never rebuilt. The site became an RV park with drop-dead views.

Spirits haunted Dan’s rough road to middle age, namely the type that live inside whiskey bottles. Substance abuse deadens his psychic ability so he can forget the horrors of the grasping dead. Dan hits bottom and the filthy dregs of his life disgust him. But unlike his drunkard wreck of a father, Dan finds help, sobers up, and takes a respectable job as a hospice attendant.

They Travel in RV Caravans and Pose as Vacationers

They Travel in RV Caravans and Pose as Vacationers

Abra is just a baby, but her exceptional ESP reaches all the way across the country. A roaming group of psychic eaters hears little Abra. They travel in RV caravans and pose as vacationers. These genteel-appearing predators in ball caps and Bermuda shorts bide their time until Abra is old enough for their grim plans.

Dan also hears this psychic prodigy. One day, Abra reaches across the miles and begs him to help. His last stand with the murderous ghosts of his childhood takes Dan full circle back to The Overlook RV Park. He must redeem a lifetime drowned by alcoholism, and save Abra from these child eaters.

Down the Path of Reasonable Little Events to the Horrifying Showdown

Down the Path of Reasonable Little Events to the Horrifying Showdown

Doctor Sleep is a most satisfying continuation of the haunted life of Danny Torrance that we met in The Shining. Stephen King continues his masterful way of leading us down the path of accepting a string of oh, so reasonable little events. The journey ends in a horrifying showdown that mixes delicious revenge against the bad guys with bittersweet reminders of the long-lost good guys.

Gentle Readers that enjoy a well-told paranormal thriller, plus fans of psychic vampires, would enjoy this story. People who already have a fear of RVs might want to keep away. Because of Doctor Sleep, Lita now casts a fretful eye when she passes one of those lumbering motor coaches on the highway. Lita looks for ghostly faces in the windows.

Doctor Sleep on Amazon US

Doctor Sleep on Amazon UK

Doctor Sleep on Goodreads

Stephen King on Goodreads

Xenia and Firesnort Get Ready for a Ride

5 Essentials for Writing Fantasy Part 2: Summarize

This is the second of a five-part series about fantasy writing craft. These posts explore five techniques for composing the story’s narrative passages.

Part 1 talked about Goings-on, which urged the fantasy writer to add actions to the story that would show, not tell, and to advance the plot. Today we discuss when to apply the opposite wisdom–summarizing instead of adding detail.

Xenia and Firesnort Get Ready for a Ride

Xenia and Firesnort Get Ready for a Ride

Trifling Matters

Not all details of story happenings are important.  Do the step-by-step actions advance the plot? If not, summarize the trifling matters.

Consider:  “Xenia took Firesnort’s bit, bridal, and saddle from their hooks and dragged the tack to the waiting dragon.  She patted the dracon between his saucer-sized orange eyes, slipped the bit into his mouth, and adjusted the fit.”

If getting a dragon ready to ride is the same as a horse, then the reader already knows this. Spending story time on these familiar activities slow down the action. Instead show an interesting detail about dragon diets (which the reader does not know).

Xenia saddled Firesnort. She yanked the belly band strap to cinch it around his puffy midsection. He broke wind, then let loose a flaming belch to burn away the stench. Her clothes ignited. Xenia dove to the ground and rolled to put out the fire.

“You fool of a dragon. Don’t eat wart root before bedtime. It gives you gas. Now you’ve singed my hair.”

Earl Puts Down Roots at Hildebrand's Place and Reads a Good Book

Earl Puts Down Roots at Hildebrand’s Place and Reads a Good Book

Time Warp

To speed up your story, write a summary of the uninteresting events.

Consider: “Earl turned his back on the Tree Counsel and shuffled away as fast as his roots allowed. The Ent left the southern end of Olde Forest. He traveled through the rolling hills of Cumberland, across the rocky slopes of the Flatirons, and finally entered New Mirkwood forest. His cousin tended a wizard’s library here. Earl coaxed his way into Hildebrand’s home and immersed himself in a good book.”

Yawn. The first and last parts have promise, but the middle is boring. So do the time warp and condense the uninteresting travelogue.

Earl the Ent turned his back on the Rude Old Fools and shuffled away. He crossed Treeland to his cousin Hildebrand’s place in New Mirkwood. Only magicians and bookish Ents visited his cousin’s library. Hildebrand introduced Earl to Wizard Nob.

“The Tree Counsel insulted me,” Earl said. “What can I do?”

Nob grinned. “They don’t like snakes. Find an asp potion and I’ll make it.”

Earl found Hildebrand’s books about herbology and rattlesnakes. Revenge made them a good read.

Would Vampire Queen Madam Elizabeth be One for Small Talk? What a Bloody Silly Question

Would Vampire Queen Madam Elizabeth be One for Small Talk? What a Bloody Silly Question

Trivial Talk

Write a summary when a dialogue’s exact words are unimportant. Instead, keep the reader riveted with conflict-filled patter.

Consider: “Greetings, Madam Elizabeth.” William bowed to the vampire queen. “How have you been?”

“My dear William. I have been mostly well, but suffered indigestion last week. What about you?”

“I am well. I dodged a hanging mob at Cadbury last month.”

Just proofreading this dialogue made Lita cringe. Vampires would not have such polite, boring talk. They would leap into the bloody good stuff.

The stale odor of the vampire queen’s undercroft made William wrinkle his nose. Best to get this over with. He stepped forward. She clung to the ceiling, waiting for him.

“My dear William. You’ve been a naughty boy.”

That silky tone meant only one thing. William knelt and bowed his head. “Cadbury folk are hasty about hangings.”

A whisper of movement, then Madam Elizabeth stood in front of him. She hissed. “News of your indiscretion upset me. I feasted on a poet to calm myself. His absinthe-laced blood gave me the vapors.”

“Forgive me. I beg you.”

Madam Elizabeth caressed his hair. Her talons were out. “Stand, William.”

William Drew Madam Elizabeth Near

William Drew Madam Elizabeth Near

He did so. Any moment now, he would be dead. “What do you want of me?”

“I want to get the taste of that dreadful wordsmith out of my mouth.”

William stroked her lovely face, put his finger under her chin, and drew Madam Elizabeth near. She tugged William’s scarf away from his neck. His pulse all but thundered in his bare throat.

“I will do anything if you spare my life,” William said.

“I know. That’s my good boy.”

An Image of Furgo

Not Just for Werewolves Anymore

Hello, Captain Obvious. Let me duck! Ouch. Too slow.

I have been working on the first novella (Ephraim’s Curious Device) in my forthcoming Clockpunk Wizard series. All was going well until I started the second round of editing, when an idea smacked me on the forehead.

Well, what happened is Captain Obvious pointed out a central character of the series who doesn’t appear until the end of the first story. Well, duh. So I smacked myself on the forehead–ideas can’t do smacking. Just to be clear.

Let’s Talk Shape Shifting

A popular sub-genre of fantasy is “YA High School Angst with Vampires and Werewolves.” Werewolves are cool, no doubt, but I wanted to explore a shape shifting character with a bit gentler disposition. How about a dog who shape shifts into human form? That fits better in the Clockpunk Wizard fantasy world.


A cynanthrope is a human who shape shifts into a dog. Or in the case of the Clockpunk Wizard fantasy world, it is a dog who shape shifts into a human boy. While in dog form, this character has all of his dog senses. While in human form, he is a boy. But we’re talking magic here, so there are limitations. The biggest limitation is this character will never grow up into a man. He is fundamentally, and always will be, a dog.

Introducing Forever Boy

To introduce this cynanthrope to the Clockpunk Wizard fantasy world, I’ve written a novelette called Forever Boy. This story will be the first in the Clockpunk Wizard series. Ephraim’s Curious Device will be the second story in the series.

Apologies for the confusion. Stories, and the characters within them, have a mind of their own. I am merely their humble scribe. To make it up to you, Gentle Reader, I will release both titles, Forever Boy and Ephraim’s Curious Device, in October.

Glad we straightened that out. I must run. Ephraim’s Curious Device and Forever Boy both request my attention. And I hope there’s no more forehead smacks from Captain Obvious.