Tag Archives: #amwriting

100 Word Story? Is it possible?…..

As an indie-author one of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is “How do you do it?” My standard answer is “One word at a time.”

However, how many words do you need to tell a story? How many to add a bit of intrigue? How many to add a hint of romance?

I decided to set myself the challenge to write a 100 word story.

Anyone who has read my books will understand that limiting the word count is perhaps not my forte! Ha Ha.

However, I was strict with myself here and rose to the challenge.

So, in a 100 words here’s  Cat’s Eyes.

 

Cats’s Eyes

 The cat watched the car approach. Recognised his owner in the passenger seat. As he licked his fluffy paws, he watched as the car stopped at the end of the driveway.  Squinting into the early evening sun, the cat saw the driver reach over to kiss his owner. Pausing to wash his long tail, the cat continued to watch the long, slow, passionate embrace. The car’s window was open but all he could hear was music. As he licked his bits, the car door opened. His owner stepped out. With a wave, the car drove off. Cat and owner smiled.

20170614_192024

 

Advertisements

On Butterfly Wings (short story)

20190204_192907

 

For the first time in weeks, she felt safe and secure. She felt calm as she sat on a thick carpet of dry pine needles. Deep in the heart of the small cluster of trees, she was hidden from prying eyes, protected from the world about her. No one knew she came there to think, to read and now to write, well, journal, to be more precise. She was finally alone for the first time in weeks.

She had discovered this small quiet sanctuary by chance. Or had something guided her towards it? How many times had she walked past that stand of trees without a second thought? Something had caught her attention though and, on a whim one sunny summer day, she had strayed from the path to take a closer look. The second she had stepped into the hidden clearing deep with the circle of pine trees, a tranquil silence had enveloped her. She immediately felt as if she belonged there. Was something from the past, from another lifetime, reaching out to tell her she was supposed to be there?

Over the months she had visited the small clearing regularly. After several idyllic afternoons spent hidden there, she realised that she wasn’t the only one spending time in the space. Someone had hung some wind chimes high up on one of the branches. Their gentle tinkling notes were soothing as she hid beneath them, sheltered from the outside world, recharging the batteries of her soul.

Now though, as she settled herself on the thick layer of dried pine needles, her heart and soul were troubled.  Time was running out. Sitting cross-legged, she stared down at the journal resting in her lap. It was slightly larger than a desk diary with a silvery pink cover decorated with multi-coloured butterflies. Its lined pages were blank. She had bought it on a whim over a year before, attracted by the bright butterflies. She never could resist a butterfly.

With a trembling hand, she opened the small, hardbacked journal at the first blank page and began to write. Time lost all meaning as she poured her hopes and fears into the pages. Now that she had opened the lid on the well of emotions that had been bubbling inside her since mid-winter, the words flooded the pages. Safe in the freedom of her journaling, she wrote about feelings and emotions that she had barely consciously acknowledged. She wrote about love. As her spidery writing covered page after page, the pain in her heart and her soul lessened. Her fears of rejection and of failure and of loss and regret gradually began to melt away. Seeing her own words written down in front of her for the first time, she recognised that she had never been the one at fault. Her only fault was to care too deeply about life and some of the people in it.

If she had known then what she knew now, would she have lived her life any differently?

Turning to the last blank page, she smiled to herself and silently acknowledged that she wouldn’t change a second of it. Reliving some of those memories had made her smile, something she had had little cause to do of late.

Staring at the final blank page, she paused. Over the course of the spring afternoon, she had filled the journal with her innermost thoughts. This last blank page was her final chance to have her say, to say how she really felt. The only opportunity left to write a long overdue letter. It was a chance to say goodbye.

Keeping her handwriting small, she swiftly filled the page with words written straight from the heart.

A warm red glowing light was swathing the clearing. It was the colours of sunset. Time was almost up.

Closing the journal over, its magnetic cover snapping into position, she let out a sigh. A little unsteadily, she got to her feet, brushed the pine needles from her jeans and slipped the journal and her green pen into her tote bag. Glancing round for one last time, she whispered, “Thank you.” then ducked down low as she stepped out of the sanctuary into the late afternoon sunshine.

The sun was low in the sky, almost touching the hills across the river to the north. It was casting streaks of red and gold across the virtually cloudless sky, promising a stunning sunset when the golden orb finally dipped below the horizon.

Slowly she made her way along the path then down onto the deserted stretch of beach. Breathing in the salty air, she smiled. Listening to the waves gently lapping ashore, she smiled. Feeling the damp sand under her unsteady feet, she smiled. Feeling the last of the sun’s warmth on her pale cheeks, she smiled.

It sapped the last of her strength but she made it to her favourite spot at the far end of the beach just as the sun began to disappear. The view was perfect. Unable to resist, she reached into her bag for her phone, ignoring all the alerts about missed calls and messages, and photographed one last spectacular sunset.

The bag fell open and, unseen, the butterfly journal dropped out onto the sand. The magnetic cover sprung open.

“There you are!” came an exasperated cry. “Where the hell have you been? Everyone is out looking for you!”

 

Long after the sun had set, a gentle breeze blew in from the west. It caught the pages of the journal flicking them over, setting her emotional confession free.

408.jpg

 

Indie Author Seeking Shelf Space

bookstore3.jpg

 

As an indie author there are many “hats” you need to wear to get your “book babies” out into the world.

Over the past four years I’ve been through a steep learning curve in relation to getting my books babies written, typed, edited, formatted, cover designs created (Photoshop is evil), published, launched and subsequently marketed on a shoestring budget.

The marketing aspect is probably the toughest challenge an indie author faces.

Actually writing the book in the first place is the fun part!

Since KDP and other self-publishing platforms made books so relatively simple to self-publish the market has been flooded. There were circa 2 000 000 books published in 2017 alone. Competition is tough, VERY tough!

A quote from a Forbes.com article from 2013 sums up the challenges succinctly: “Here’s the problem with self-publishing: no one cares about your book. That’s it in a nutshell. There are somewhere between 600 000 and 1 000 000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more- are self-published. On average they sell less than 250 copies each. Your book won’t stand out. Hillary Clinton’s will. Yours won’t.”

Harsh but honest words.

I’ve said many times if you’re writing a book to make money then you’re in for a hell of a shock!

To date, I’ve been extremely fortunate that no one has said my book babies are ugly, they’ve each earned 5* reviews and I’ve received a Royalties payment every month, even if it is only for pennies.

The majority that have been sold have been e-books but each of my book babies is also available as a “real” book too.

E-book marketing can be done through social media. “Real” book marketing, actually gaining shelf space, is far tougher. I’d love to see my books  on the shelves in bookstores but getting shelf space as an indie author is nigh on impossible. I managed it once with Stronger Within for a whole six copies. A major accomplishment that I remain very proud of.

img-20150804-wa0001

For me personally though I’d love to see my Silver Lake series on sale in the book stores in and around the town where the stories are set. That small town is somewhere I am passionate about. A lot of the feedback that I’ve received has been that folk want to visit Rehoboth Beach, De. (It’s not a big place but in my own quiet way from over 3000 miles away I’ve introduced my readers to this jewel on the Delaware Riviera.)

On more than one occasion, I’ve approached a “local” bookstore in an effort to open discussions about the possibility of them putting a few copies on their shelves. My polite approaches have been met with silence.

So I reverted to advertising on social media and added pages and groups linked to the locale to my list. I don’t over advertise on these- one post every few weeks on these “local” pages at most. To an “outsider” looking in on the group/page descriptions they look to be about promoting things linked to the area, including books, events, places etc about the area so the Silver Lake books meet the criteria….. or so I thought until recently. One well- meant post met with a brief but sharp barrage of complaints that I was routing shoppers to Amazon instead of local stores and was detracting from the town. I quickly deleted the post as that most definitely was not my intent. The comments stung. If local businesses supported indie authors, regardless of where they reside, who are writing about their town then local folks wouldn’t have to shop online….. marketing lesson #700….. I won’t be engaging with that group again.

Maybe Forbes.com was right “no one cares about your book.”

However, authors, including indie-authors, are storytellers at heart and, for as long as they have a story to share, they will find a way to publish or self-publish their work. I know I will.

As for marketing, well despite having been kicked back down that learning curve, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and will start all over again.

Can I interest you in a book?……..

 

Amazon.com links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYHKR44

  

 Amazon.co.uk links  –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

 

 

2019 ….and the goal is…..

untitled

And in the blink of an eye 2018 has been and gone. Can’t say I’m sorry to see it go.

At the start of last year, I set myself three goals.  Here’s a reminder of what they were

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/2018-so-whats-the-plan/

Did I meet them all?

Yes I did 😊

OK, Book Baby 4 was launched a little later than planned. Ellen was finally launched on 1st September and quickly found her feet, earning herself five-star reviews on Amazon and Good Reads…whew!

imgid170658697

I brought Jake and Lori back to out to play as promised. On 8th May 2018, exactly five years after I sat down to write the story that became Book Baby 1, I sat down once more on my front doorstep and began to write Book Baby 5. Writing about all things Silver Lake has been like being reunited with old friends.

 

My third goal from last year was to blog once a week. Guess what…. I’ve met that goal too.

49089571_1736603126445273_4514292665713426432_n

Go me!!  LOL

So, what creative goals will I set for 2019?

Well, I feel it’s time to cut myself a little creative slack so I’m going to keep it really simple.

My 2019 goal is simply to finish and publish Book Baby 5 in 2019. The first draft is about 40% of the way there but it’s a VERY rough first draft in places!

What’s that saying? …. your first draft is like shovelling sand into the sandbox. You can build sandcastles later ….. or something like that. I’m still shovelling like crazy!

It goes without saying that I’ll continue with my weekly blog posts and who knows, everyone’s favourite dark angel may make an occasional appearance. (I have a longer term plan for those stories but I don’t want to say too much just yet.)

If you read my Christmas Eve short story then you will already have met two new rock star characters. I have the beginning of an idea for them too. (That may need to be in the five year plan!)

I’d like to thank each and every one of YOU  for your ongoing love and support. It makes the creative journey so much easier knowing that you guys are there.

What are your goals for 2019? Feel free to share the details in the comments box below.

If your own goals include “read more books” I can think of four to get you started…. Hint hint…

Regardless of what your personal goals are for the coming year, I’d like to wish you health wealth and happiness to pursue them. Remember “Dreams get you started. Discipline keeps you going.”

Love n hugs

Coral  xx

 

 

And if you want to catch up on your reading….

 

Amazon.com links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

 

 

Amazon.co.uk links  –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

November Newsletter

Hi,
Welcome to this month’s newsletter
Since we last spoke, Book Baby 5 has been my primary focus and it continues to take shape slowly. Having relocated to my new writing corner in the family living room, I am still trying to get into a new writing rhythm. Our living room is usually quite a quiet and empty space, apart from an occasional sleeping cat or two or three…. (I have four in total for those who don’t know) However, since I established my cosy little writing corner, it has become a popular spot!

20181128_193536

Book Baby 5 has moved into the second notebook phase of writing (a full Silver Lake novel usually takes four or five so you can gauge for yourselves how far through it I am) I plan to start the typing marathon in January and will split my creative time between writing and typing to try to spare the pain that hours of typing causes. (Physical pain – I’ve got tendon issues with my left hand)

20181101_200506.jpg

 
As we move into December, I have a series of book giveaways planned so keep an eye on my author Facebook page for Secret Santa Saturdays in December.

Here’s the link:
https://www.facebook.com/coralmccallumauthor/

20181123_144018.jpg

Some of you might already know this but I also write a music blog. It’s no secret that I love my music and love going to shows. I have three coming up in December so my music blog is set to get a bit of attention.

If you want to read about some of the shows I’ve been to this year and in previous years, here’s the link:
https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/

I also hope to have a “guest” writer on my blog in December. I’m not giving any hints/clues but I think you’ll enjoy the short story that they have to share with you. This is something I hope to do more of as we move into 2019. Would you be interested in seeing a “guest” around here once a month or so? Are you interested in being a “guest”? If so, please message me.

If you have any questions for me about writing, about the books, about my blog or are perhaps interested in reviewing the books, please leave a comment below or message me via my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/coralmccallumauthor/?ref=bookmarks
If there’s anything you would like to see included in future newsletters, please let me know.
Thanks for all the ongoing love and support. It is very much appreciated and helps keep the fires of creative motivation burning.

Have a beautiful day and happy reading

Coral x

Book links:
Ellen
Amazon.com link

Amazon.co.uk link

Silver Lake Series
Amazon.com links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

Amazon.co.uk links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

Define Success……. Go On I Dare You To…

success collage

Like many indie authors and bloggers I have “liked” and “joined” numerous….ok countless….author and book promotion Facebook groups and pages. I use these as a means to promote my author page, this blog and my book babies and very rarely comment on any discussion style posts.

Recently one caught my attention… “Do we have anyone in here with a lot of success?”

Initially I read it and scrolled on…. but it was bugging me….so I scrolled backup and replied.

“Define success? It means something different to each of us. If you mean “Do I feel I have succeeded with my writing?” then the answer is “yes” as I have told folk a story that entertained them and caused an emotional response. If you quantify success as hard cash then you’re in the wrong game. There’s more to life than money when there’s a story to be told.”

My response was well received by other members of the group.

And I stand by what I said.

It took me a long time to think of my writing as being successful in any shape or form. Self-publishing my first novel in 2015 was a surreal experience. It took me so far out of my comfort zone! Even having published three more novels, it still feels surreal.  Seeing my name on the cover of those books feels like a dream I am about to be rudely awakened from. However, as time has passed, I’ve come to realise that I’ve achieved something pretty special. Well, it’s pretty special to me.

How many people can say they’ve seen one of their lifelong dreams come true?

I can and that genuinely makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Makes me feel successful in my own quiet way.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate that no one yet has said my book babies are ugly. Seeing them sitting on Amazon.co.uk with lots of twinkling stars and multiple reviews makes me feel proud of what I’ve achieved (with the love and support of my Infamous Five and my cavalry) Seeing them with stars and reviews on Amazon.com, which is such a huge arena, blows my mind. It makes me feel successful in my own quiet way.

You can’t put a price on the emotions you experience when someone tells you they’ve loved your book and that it’s evoked an emotional response whether it be laughter or tears. Feedback like that is truly priceless.

If indie authors and bloggers were in it purely for the money, there wouldn’t be many of us left. FACT!

Let’s be honest, unless you strike it really lucky and your work lands before the right person at the right time and catches their eye then, chances are you’re not making a huge income, if any. I half-joked when I published my first novel that I hoped to earn enough to cover my concert ticket budget. My royalties come nowhere near to covering it! Most months they would barely cover the cost of a couple of coffees.

Authors are storytellers. We write to tell the story that’s grown inside us. At the risk of sounding cheesy for a minute, writing is a passion and I’ve always maintained that as soon as I stop feeling the love for it, I’ll stop.

But, do people realise the length of time it takes to pull an article/blog together or the number of hours of work a short story requires? Or the hundreds of hours a novel requires?

I’ll use this blog as an example and it’s not a long piece. It has taken me roughly an hour to write and re-draft and it’s taken another hour or so to type and re-draft again then say it will take ten minutes to publish it. That’s about 2-3 hours work. And guess what – it doesn’t earn me any royalties?

Last week, I published a short story on this blog page.  The word count was roughly 4000 words. It took me about four hours to write it. It took another couple to re-draft it, another couple to type it then fifteen minutes to post it. Let’s call it eight hours of work. And guess what – that didn’t earn me any royalties either.

Novels take months of effort. I really should take note of the time spent writing, typing, editing etc one of these days. All in all, it’s probably about four hours of work in total per thousand words ( rough guesstimate). My novels so far have ranged from 107000 words to 186 000 words. Let’s do the maths – that gives us about 428 -744 hours of work and that’s before you factor in the time to design the cover, the time my alpha readers (my Infamous Five) and my beta readers (the cavalry) donate and the time to upload the file to Amazon for publication…… and then there’s marketing and promotion to be done…..

The current National Minimum Wage in the UK is £7.93 per hour.

If I had been paid that for writing Ellen, my latest and shortest novel, that would have earned me £3400 approximately. To date, Ellen has generated around £100 in royalties.

I personally don’t define success in respect of my writing in terms of hard cash. If it was about the money, I’d have closed over my notebook and put the lid back on my pen a long time ago.

Success for me is about seeing people enjoying what I write. It’s about folk saying I’ve made them laugh or cry. It’s about entertaining readers. It’s about telling the story and setting my characters free from my imagination.
So, next time you read over a short story in your lunchbreak or a blog post, pause to think of the time and effort that went into making it a success.

success-motivational-quote[6]

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

Silently Watching On The Night Of The Mourning Moon

dark angel

He stood gazing out into the pitch-black November morning, trying to quash the urge rising rapidly inside him. It was Friday. Seventeen weeks had passed since his partial transformation at the hands of the dark angel. As the weeks had passed, he found himself eagerly awaiting Fridays. For seventeen weeks though there had been no sign of the angel. He hadn’t caught so much as a glimpse of her. As he stood drinking his coffee, he wondered where she was hiding and when their paths would next cross.
“Daddy!”
The shrill wail from his young son brought him hurriedly back to the present.
“The cat scratched me!” sobbed the little boy, eyes brimming with tears.
“Well, if you’d leave her tail alone,” he began then stopped dead in his tracks.
There were three long red scores on the back of his son’s small hand. Drops of blood were oozing through the damaged skin.
“Go and show Mum,” he instructed as calmly as he could. “She’ll clean it up.”
As the first tears escaped down the child’s cheeks, he turned and ran from the kitchen screaming, “Mummy!”
Heart pounding, a cold sweat beading on his forehead, he let out along sigh. Inside, he was on fire, fighting back the urge to run after the child. Even from where he stood, he could smell and almost taste the fresh blood.
“Only a few more hours,” he thought. “The flask’ll be there. I’ll be fine.”
As time had passed, the effects of his limited blood rations were wearing off quicker and quicker.
A movement beside the table caught his attention. It was the family cat. In a flash, he grabbed her. Without a second thought, he bit deep into her shoulder and began to drink.
“What are you doing to that poor cat?” scolded his wife as she entered the kitchen with their still sobbing son on her hip. “Put her outside.”
Keeping his back to his family, he opened the door and set the stunned cat free. She shot off into the darkness with an indignant hiss.
Discretely wiping his mouth clean, he muttered, “I’m off. I’ll see you after work.”
“Bye bye, Daddy,” called the little boy as he watched him march out into the hallway towards the front door.

Once in the car, he leaned over the icy cold steering wheel and groaned. That had been close! That had scared him as much as the family’s cat. Her fresh tangy blood had tasted divine. But, he’d bitten the family pet without a thought……. the thought of that made his blood run cold.
Subconsciously, his hand went to his trouser pocket, seeking the velvet bag containing the crystals and the feather. He needed to talk to the dark angel. He needed her reassurance and some answers. He needed them now!

Hoping that no one was watching him, he drove down the hill then turned into the narrow unlit single-track road, coming to a halt beside the gates of the cemetery. Without bothering to take the key out of the ignition, he abandoned the car and slipped into the graveyard. In the dark, he managed to find a small white pebble then carefully placed it on the bench as agreed. As he climbed back into his car, he prayed that she would see the sign and be waiting for him when he returned later.

From her vantage point on the church roof, the dark angel watched him place the pebble on the wooden bench. Something about the scene troubled her. Something felt out of balance. Her fledgling had appeared distressed.
Swiftly, she swooped down from her perch in an attempt to follow him. Deciding to break her own code of ethics, she sought to catch up with him to listen into his thoughts. If he reached the dual carriageway before she caught up with him though she wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the car. Luck was on her side and he was stuck in a queue waiting to join the fast-moving traffic on the main road. Keeping to the shadows high above the line of cars, the dark angel filtered through the melee of thoughts until she tuned into his.
Instantly, she recoiled and flew back to her preferred spot on the church roof. She needed to think.
“Rabbia Sanguigna,” she whispered as she watched the first streaks of daylight emerge. “But how to calm it?”
With no time to waste, she left her perch to return home to seek a solution.

On the drive home, he cranked up the volume on the car’s stereo, hoping futilely that some loud music would drown out the day he had just endured. The few mouthfuls of the cat’s blood had calmed him somewhat by the time he had arrived at work. Riddled with guilt at attacking the family pet, he had kept himself to himself all morning. He’d gone through the motions of meeting his work commitments while his brain tried to work out what had caused that morning’s incident. At lunchtime, he’d phoned home to check all was well and discretely asked if the cat had come back. His heart sank when his wife said that she’d returned scared and with a nasty wound on her shoulder. She commented that she thought perhaps the cat had got into a fight with the ginger tom cat from across the street. Muttering something about it “being natural for cats to fight,” he’d made his excuses and cut the call short. The rest of the afternoon had dragged on endlessly.
As he drove towards the village, he began to wonder if it was actually safe for him to return home…..

As had become his usual Friday routine, he parked the car at the local convenience store and walked up the hill to the graveyard. He’d slipped easily into the routine of visiting the cemetery then visiting the shop to buy a small treat for the kids before driving up the hill and home.
An icy wind was blowing and he shrugged himself deeper into his warm jacket, still chilled to the core by the morning’s events. Stuffing his hands deep into his pockets, he trudged up the steep hill, praying that the dark angel had got his message and was waiting for him.

With her wings drawn round her to ward off the cold, the angel stood deep in the shadows beside the tree where she had placed the flask of fresh blood. Her acute senses detected his presence long before he climbed the worn steps and entered the dark graveyard. She could hear his heart pounding; she could feel the confusion raging inside him. Her heart went out to him. There was no denying that this setback was going to be a challenge for him.
“Good evening, son of Perran,” she greeted softly as he reached into the hollow in the tree trunk to retrieve the flask.
“Jeez, you scared me,” he gasped almost dropping the pewter flask.
“You summoned me, so surely you expected me to be here,” commented the angel calmly.
“Yeah, I did,” he acknowledged wearily.
“Drink then we’ll talk,” she commanded.
Hungrily, he drained the flask of every drop within seconds. The blood as usual was still warm but this week tasted thicker and meatier than usual. Almost instantly he felt the craving diminish.
“Needed that,” he said as he screwed the lid back on.
“I noticed,” commented the dark angel taking the empty flask from him. “Now, do you want to tell me about what happened this morning?”
Sensing that she already knew exactly what had happened, he bowed his head and confessed quietly, “I almost bit my son. He had a scratch. It was bleeding, I came too close to biting him for comfort. I bit the cat instead. Drank some of her blood.”
“I know,” said the angel, her tone soothing and filled with understanding. “The cat survived though. How did she taste?”
“Are you seriously asking me how the cat tasted?” he snapped, anger surging through him. “I almost bit my own son!”
“Did the cat’s blood satisfy you, son of Perran? Yes or no?”
“Kind of,” he admitted. “It tasted tangy. Not sweet. Not sour. It was only a few mouthfuls.”
“And you didn’t drain her dry?”
“No,” he replied. “My wife interrupted me.”
“You managed to show some restraint then. Would you have killed the cat if she hadn’t interrupted you?”
Silently, he nodded.
Almost tenderly, she reached out and touched his arm.
“Rabbia Sanguigna.”
“Pardon?”
“Blood rage,” translated the angel calmly. “Not uncommon in fledglings. It’s dangerous though. Unpredictable.”
“Great,” he muttered sourly. “So, now what do I do? What does it mean?”
“Two things, son of Perran,” she said staring deep into his soul. “You need blood more regularly than planned.”
“I’d worked that bit out.”
“And, secondly, you have developed a desire to hunt. You’re craving fresh, living blood.”
“Human blood?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“Not necessarily.”
He sighed and ran his cold fingers through his hair. “Ok, how do we sort this mess out? I thought partial transformation meant I didn’t need to kill things?”
“And you don’t. You just need to feed from a living being. It’s part of the condition.”
“And how exactly am I going to do that?”
“Calm down, son of Perran,” she cautioned firmly. “The blood you just drank was stronger. It should quench your thirst for a few days. I need time to work out a compromise here.”
“Time?” he spat angrily. “And while you work it out, am I meant to bite the cat every morning to stop me hurting my kids or my wife?”
“If you feel you must.”
“Christ, this is not happening,” he muttered, turning his back on her as a cold wave of fear rose up inside him.
“Meet me here on Sunday morning. Early. Just as the sun rises,” she commanded. “I’ll work out the solution by then.”
“Are you sure you will?”
“Quietly confident,” replied the angel. “But, as a precaution, I’ll bring another flask of blood for you.”
“Fine,” he sighed, realising that it was the only option open to him.
“Till Sunday, son of Perran.”
With a swoosh of her wings, she was gone into the darkness.

The dark angel didn’t retreat very far, flying only as far as her mausoleum hidden deep in the woods near the cemetery. As the clouds parted to reveal the full Mourning Moon, she perched on the roof of her home deep in thought. She wasn’t inhuman enough to be oblivious to the runner’s pain and fears. He was a mere hundred and nineteen days old, a baby in vampire terms. Where had her original partial transformation gone so wrong? Seventeen weeks before, she had been so careful and precise with her preparations. From her observations, he too had obeyed her instructions to the letter. There had to be something she was missing – something obvious.
It was almost dawn before the realisation struck her. She already knew they were blood related through her creator but for the Rabbia Sanguigna to be so strong there had to have been another vampire in his bloodline more recently. It had to be someone directly related to him.
With this revelation clearing her thoughts, the dark angel entered the mausoleum to prepare for her Sunday morning rendezvous with her fledgling.

Rain was lashing down on Sunday morning as he left the house just before eight on the pretence of going for a long run. The single-track road was slippery underfoot and, in his hurry, he fell twice, ripping the skin from his knee on the rough road surface. A warm trickle of blood ran down his shin.
Limping slightly, he reached the graveyard then sought shelter beside the tree. Optimistically, he reached into the hollow hoping to find the flask waiting for him. Nothing.
“Good morning, son of Perran,” she whispered in his ear. “Come.”
Obediently, he stepped forward then felt her wings embrace him as the world darkened around him.

When he opened his eyes, he looked round, immediately recognising the angel’s candlelit mausoleum home. As before, a black velvet cloth was spread out on the bench with various objects carefully laid out on it, including the goblet and the dagger.
“I need your permission to determine something,” she began, her voice soft and soothing. “I fear something in your more recent history has corrupted the transformation and triggered the blood rage.”
He stared at her in silence.
“May I read your thoughts, son of Perran?” she asked. “I may need to probe far back into your memories. I feel it only fair to advise you that nothing will be hidden from me.”
Remaining silent, he nodded.
The angel’s presence in his memories felt like wisps of smoke gradually wafting through him. At some points, he knew exactly which memories she was analysing. At others, she was deep inside memories he had gone to great lengths to bury. The sensation wasn’t unpleasant but knowing she was reading his entire life story unsettled him.
“Thank you,” said the angel eventually. “I’m sorry I had to do that to you. There really was no other way. I am uncomfortable scrying souls in that manner. I find it invasive.”
“Did it help?” he asked, feeling emotionally and mentally violated.
“Yes, son of Perran, it did,” replied the angel, still processing the information that she had gleaned from him.
“And?”
“There is a living vampire in your blood family,” she revealed plainly. “The blood DNA that you share with them is what has led us to where we are.”
“A vampire in my family? My side of the family?”
The angel nodded.
“I’ll keep this simple,” she began. “I cannot guarantee to rid you of the Rabbia Sanguigna. I can however try. This will need to be done in stages though.”
“Just tell me what we need to do here!” he snapped, his patience wearing thin.
Gazing longingly at the fresh wound on his knee, the dark angel replied, “Three things. First, you will drink the blood potion I am about to prepare. Second, you will need to learn to hunt for yourself. I need to take a trip. I fear it might be a long journey.”
“And the third thing?”
“When I return, you will need to drink the blood of your family member.”
He stared at her, his large brown eyes wide but darkened by an intensity she had never seen before, an anger that she never knew he possessed.
“There is no other way,” explained the angel. “Unless you want to live with the blood rage.”
“Fine,” he conceded. “But, I’m not killing anything.”
“If you can demonstrate some restraint then you don’t need to kill anything,” she assured him. “Now, quiet, while I prepare something for you to drink.”
For a few minutes, the angel busied herself preparing the blood draught for her fledgling.
“Pass me the opal and the moonstone from the bag you carry,” she instructed bluntly.
Without a word, he handed her the two crystals then watched as she shaved off a few particles into the same ornate goblet as before. Her hand then reached for a third crystal, a turquoise, and she did the same with it.
Handing him the three small stones, the angel explained, “I’ve added more opal to counteract any physical changes, the moonstone to support the intermingling of species and the turquoise for protection. Turquoise heals and promotes inner calm. In combination, they should reduce the effects of the Rabbia Sanguigna. I’ll add a little oak to give you strength.”
“Do you need blood from me?” he asked, an air of resignation to his tone.
“A few drops,” she replied, passing him the dagger. “Prick your thumb for me. I need five drops.”
He flinched as the tip of the dagger pierced the pad of his right thumb but maintained a stoic air of silence. The five drops of blood fell easily into the goblet. Lifting the pewter flask, the angel poured a small amount of blood into the cup then stirred the contents with the tip of the dagger.
“Drink.”
In one long mouthful, he drained the goblet.
“And this,” she instructed, passing him the flask.
As before, the blood tasted warm and gamey.
“What is this?” he asked as he handed the empty flask back.
“Deer’s blood,” revealed the angel.
Getting to her feet, she reached for his hand, “Time to teach you how to hunt. Come.”

For over two hours, the angel patiently talked him through how to choose a suitable target; how to stalk his prey; how to catch it and how to drink from it without killing it. The only exceptions to the “no killing” rule were birds. “Too little blood to survive the hunt. Weak hearts,” she explained dismissively, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
He proved to be adept at catching rodents and rabbits but birds remained a challenge. Methodically, the angel coached him through where to bite to avoid being bitten then she suggested that they turn their attention to larger prey- sheep and cows. Initially, he balked at the thought. However, when the angel explained the volume of blood they offered, he could see the attraction.
By late morning, he had more than drunk his fill and was tired of chasing unsuspecting animals.
“Enough,” he said, pausing to catch his breath. “How often will I need to do this?”
“You’ll need to drink at least a flask full twice a week until I return,” advised the angel. “I’ll leave tonight but I can’t guarantee how long I’ll be gone. My senses are telling me that the family member I am seeking is not at home. Reaching them will take time.”
“Will there be any new side effects that I need to watch out for?” he asked, not wanting a repeat of the cat incident.
“Maybe. I’m not sure,” she admitted honestly. “Be vigilant. Stick to the prescribed ration, drink your mugwort tea, keep the crystals close and all should be well until I return.”
“How long will you be gone for?”
“Impossible to say. Three weeks. A little more perhaps,” she guessed. “Keeping the blood warm for the return journey will be the challenge. It needs to stay human body temperature to prevent it spoiling.” She paused then added, “When I’m back, I’ll contact you.”
“And if you don’t come back?”
“Stick to the regime.”
Feeling a little overwhelmed, he nodded.

As the angel prepared to depart, he finally found the courage to ask the question that had been burning inside him all morning.
“Who is it?”
Staring deep into his troubled soul with her green eyes, the dark angel said simply, “Your mother.”
Before he could reply, she spread her wings and soared out of sight.
“She’s in Spain,” he said to the space where the angel had stood seconds beforehand.

Hunting proved to be more enjoyable than he had expected. In an effort to divert attention away from his vampire needs, he’d started to run in the evenings on a more regular basis. He varied his routes, seeking sustenance from the local fields of sheep and cows and from the woodland rabbits and mice. Quickly, he established that mice and voles were not to his taste – too acidic. Rabbit had a similar tangy taste to it that the cat had had. From the options open to him, cows proved to be his preferred blood source.
The thrill of the chase was proving to be addictive and, after almost three weeks, he realised he was hunting almost daily. Was he drinking too much blood? How could he tell if he was? Mentally, he filed the question away, vowing to ask it when the angel finally returned.
On the third Friday night since the full Mourning Moon, he returned from his run just as his wife was chasing the kids upstairs to bed.
“I’ll see to them,” he offered.
As he helped his young son to brush his teeth, the little boy commented, “I want teeth like you, Daddy.”
“How do you mean?” he asked curiously.
“Sharp jaggy teeth,” replied the little boy innocently.
Instantly, he looked up and stared into the mirror above the basin. Sure enough, his canine teeth had begun to stretch into sharp points. – fangs!
Out in the hallway, the family cat sat watching warily.