"Published author, aspiring novelist . . . welcome to my world of madness!"

Feb 14, 2012

From my darkened tower

I’ve had to conjure my own love for Valentine’s Day. I hope you don’t mind. You see, up here in the observatory, I’m often left alone . . . forgotten with only the din below my chambers and the occasional scream to pass the time. I grow weary of the anguish knotting my throat and the raw peals of grief that threaten to break forth. So few come to visit here . . . and even less decide to stay.

So, if you should see a dark shadow roaming the halls, do not grow frightened. It is just my muse seeking solace in places I dare not explore. Though his wings are tattered and torn, they stretch far beyond where mere human eyes can see. We are are bound here in this solitude forever, the darkness and I. Trapped within these forsaken planes, lovers without form, empty specters beneath a blackened sky.

I am told all it takes is a wistful breath and you, too, can summon your heart’s fondest desire. And so, I leave all who dwell within these hallowed halls with the hope that you find all that you seek on this day as well as each one in the future that stretches into the great beyond.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.

~Love and best wishes always~

Jan 28, 2012

When the Fallen Rise

We all have our favorite beasties or things that go bump in the night. For some people it’s vampires, zombies, or ghosts. Me? I prefer demons when it comes down to getting a chill, and I’ll tell you why . . .
While most people are busy soaking up the vampire frenzy like dehydrated sponges, I’m still waiting for the next big thing to hit the airwaves and shelves. I can see the appeal these beings have, especially after being exposed to numerous books, movies, and HBO’s “True Blood.” Sure, they are attractive and ooze seduction from every pore in their being. They can glamor or hypnotize, create or destroy, and all without breaking a sweat. Their existence is tragic, and often this endears us, allowing us to open our hearts to the living dead. Here, I see a deep parallel to my favorite horror catalyst of all: the demon.

Forget, for a moment, the popular stereotypes surrounding these creatures. Cast aside the images of leathery, reddened skin, hooves, and horns. Lucifer, one of the most well-known of all demons, was at one time reportedly an angel. Not just any angel, but the most beautiful and favored of all beings. It is said that when he fell he lit up the sky, thus earning him another, lesser known moniker: the morning star. One-third of the angels followed him as he was cast into darkness…meaning some of the oldest and most powerful of these creatures were, at one time, something most of us equate with physical beauty and grace. So, like vampires, demons are also capable of being quite beautiful. This is part of the trickery and deceit they use to lure unsuspecting mortals into their snare.

Like vampires, demons are also capable of reading a mortal’s thoughts, or speaking in their head. Through this they are able to bend and manipulate humans, much like puppets. They are capable of “glamoring” or hypnotizing, casting illusions that humans will see as the truth.

Unlike vampires though, demons have few known weaknesses or physical limitations. Though they prefer the dark for obvious reasons, they are quite capable of dwelling in the sun. They can shape-shift taking on the form of almost anything they desire. Stakes, sunlight, garlic, silver…all have no effect. I suppose, going by accounts of exorcisms and the like, crucifixes and holy water are a bit of an annoyance, but even then not a surefire way to divulge and destroy. They prey on the weak and seem to have infinite strength. How terrifying is that?

Demons don’t need a direct invitation in order to infiltrate your home. They do seem to be partial to Ouija boards though, especially in inexperienced hands. This is a common way they once again use their clever natures to trick and deceive. Often, a demon will pretend to be a benign spirit, holding up this guise until it is too late. They also like to prey on those whose lives and houses are in disorder. Emotional trauma and stress, depression, clutter, slovenliness: all are common triggers, often combined with other factors, in demonic manifestations and even possessions.

They are not limited to regions or certain beliefs. Every religion, every culture, has its own version of the ultimate evil. Even genies are considered to be mischevious, calculating, and ultimately malignant beings!

Last, but not least, we have the tragic existence appeal. How? It all depends on how you want to portray your demon. They can be as unrepentful, murderous, and nasty as you want them to be—or they could resemble the fallen creatures they are rumored to be. Ponder, for a moment, being cast far away from everything, and everyone you have ever known. We all make mistakes in life. What if, through age came wisdom, and with wisdom came regret? Is it possible to want to make amends for all the wrong we have done throughout the course of our existence? If so, is it true remorse, or just another guise? I suppose that is something only you, dear author, can decide.

I hope you’ve found some of this information useful and inspiring. Until next time . . .
~Best wishes and happy haunting!~


(Original article written September 15th, 2010. Horror/Scary Newsletter www.writing.com)

Jan 26, 2012

Monolaith ~ A Short Story

It's a family tradition young Holly could do without . . .


Make them pay. Make them all pay.

The raspy voice carried through the attic, drowning out all other sound. Holly Denton shook her head and covered her ears. Her face contorted into a pained grimace as the whisper echoed around her. Huddled on the dull floorboards, knees drawn to her chin, she rocked among the cobwebs and cardboard boxes. Dust particles swirled in the confined space, dancing through a narrow moonlit beam. They made her nose itch and clung to her damp face.

Fresh tears cleared a path down her grime-covered cheeks when the first screams pierced the silence. Holly jumped at the sound, her shoulders hunching in a defensive cringe. Her teeth sank deep into her lower lip to keep from crying out. If she did, they would find her, and like always, they would blame her for things she didn’t do.

The staff always treated her as if she were a leper, and the children weren’t much better. She always got blamed when something went wrong, or someone got hurt, even when it wasn’t her fault. Sometimes it was, though. Like when Sally Peters fell out of the tree and broke her arm. Holly hadn’t pushed her, but she had wanted her to fall, and deep down, she supposed that was the same thing.

The attic grew hotter, the air stifling. Small beads of sweat formed along the child’s brow. She crouched in the corner and rocked faster. Acrid smoke rose through the floorboards and an ominous amber light flickered below. Terrified, she let the first sob burst free.

Keening wails pierced the night, the noise sharp and unending. She could hear the sound of feet pounding against linoleum, the noise roiling like rolling thunder through the orphanage. Holly’s own fear mounted to unsurpassed heights as she clamped her hands against her ears in a futile effort to make it stop. It didn’t stop though, and the attic gave birth to worse terrors.

The rough, wooden planks grew hot beneath her bare feet, making her toes curl. Pain made her eyes flare. It was then that she noticed the shadowy figure perched on the cedar chest. Her eyes burned, watering from the thick plumes surrounding her. Certain her mind was playing tricks, Holly blinked. Once, twice … but the figure remained.

Dim, yellowed eyes peered back at her through the tainted haze. The creature, no bigger than a six-year old child, sat poised in a gargoyle stance. Sallow grey skin, as thin as parchment, stretched taut over gaunt limbs. It remained motionless, watching and waiting, its serpentine gaze filled with predatory cunning.

Holly screamed, her lungs filling with the noxious cloud crowding the attic. Hitting her hands and knees, the child coughed and wretched in a violent fit. Back bowed, she managed to suck in a few ragged gulps of toxic air. It made her head spin and the dismal gray haze grew thicker.

A quiet rustle carried over the sound of her heart hammering in her ears. Turning her head, she watched in horror as the creature unfurled its wings with a stretch. A delicate spider web of veins ran through the thin flaps of skin, illuminated by the eerie light oozing through the floor. Riveted with unspeakable fear, Holly’s gaze traced the outline of each wiry bone, much thinner and smaller than her own. An animalistic whimper tore from her throat. In a desperate bid for comfort, her fingers sought the familiar circle of the pendant dangling from her neck.

Her grandmother had given her the jewel on her seventh birthday, along with a warning that made Holly’s inside quiver like jell-o. “This will protect you against the Monolaith, child. Wear it and keep it safe. He watches you and waits for the day he can make you his.”

Mother! I will not have you filling my daughter’s head with such filth!”

“It’s not filth, Doreen; it’s true! This thing has haunted our family for generations. You know it and I know it.” Her grandmother’s voice dropped to a low whisper, one not meant for Holly’s straining ears. “It wants your daughter, Doreen. She’s the chosen one, the one born beneath the ninth moon.”

Holly shook herself free of the memories and took a step back.

The beast settled back on its haunches, its wings flattening against its emaciated body. Thin lips pulled back in a chilling spectacle of a smile to reveal unending rows of jagged teeth. Holly reared back and pressed deeper into the corner. Strangled noises worked their way from her throat, a mixture of pain and helplessness as the planks underfoot grew hotter.

Only I can save you now, child.

Startled, Holly searched for the source of the voice. It sounded from everywhere and nowhere all at once. The figure regarded her with a knowing gaze, its eyes unblinking. It dismounted from its perch, its feet hitting the floor with a soft thud.

Her grip on the necklace tightened.

It is like before, yes?

Dim recollection settled over her, diluted memories of past nightmares . . . of the shadowy form soaring alongside the car the night her parents died. She remembered watching it with an odd mixture of wonderment and fear, her head craning at a painful angle when it eventually looped out of view. Mere seconds after it had disappeared from her sight, the tires screeched, her parents screamed and, as the car rolled, her world shattered.

For the first time in months, she recalled the grated whispers that had sounded against her ear as something pulled her from the gnarled metal prison of the car. Broken glass and blood surrounded her like macabre jewels, fractured reflections of diamonds and rubies. The pain was unbearable and her terror immense as she lay there, screaming in anguish for her mother or her father. They lay immobile, not breathing, not speaking, blind to her suffering as Holly plead for help.

That was when the cool, leathery fingers curled around her arms. Something whispered against her ear, its breath reeking of damp earth and mildew: Embrace me, Holly. Accept me and I will save you, for I am yours, and you are mine.

Scared, wounded, and alone, she had.

Unable to draw any oxygen from the oppressive air, Holly’s head started to spin. Sirens sounded in the distance, a faint chorus above the screams and sobs echoing from every direction. The orphanage shuddered; the attic pitched and swayed. Everything started to fade into an enveloping black haze.

I am your fate. I am your destiny. Come, embrace me. No time remains.

Common sense warred with the instinct for survival. A long moment passed before Holly managed a weak but acquiescent nod. Her blonde head bowed in an attempt to avoid making further eye contact with the creature. She heard the rustling though as it neared, a sound like burnt paper being crumpled into the wind. She smelled the sickening sweet stench of her own roasting flesh mingle with its fetid breath. Pain and fear enveloped her … and then, Holly felt no more.

                                                              ~ † † † ~

Blinding white lights and a symphony of beeping machines greeted Holly upon waking. She squinted against the invasive glare, her face wrinkling from the harsh antiseptic odor permeating the room. Long, clear tubes dangled from a metal stand. They wormed needles under her skin and crept up her nose to release a cool stream of air. Soothed by her ability to breathe and the lack of pain, she let her cheek settle against the crisp pillow and closed her eyes. Once again, the creature had kept its word.

She stirred sometime the next day, disturbed by the zipping sound of opening blinds. Dazed, Holly propped herself up on one elbow and shielded her eyes from the sun with the other.

“Good morning, sunshine. I’m glad to see you are awake. There for a moment, I almost lost you.”

The soothing voice washed over her, striking chords of familiarity she could not place. Smiling, Holly greeted the handsome man with raven curls. She stared unabashed into his pale green eyes, mesmerized by their hypnotic pull. He broke the spell with a disarming smile and crossed the room in long strides.

“Who are you?”

“No one of importance, Holly. At least not yet.”

Confused, she dropped back against the pillow. “How do you know my name?”

She closed her eyes, her head pressing into his touch as he ruffled her hair. The orphanage, the fire, it all felt like a bad dream. She had some recollection of huddling near the lower stairwell, hazy beams sweeping through the darkness, shouting, and the feeling of strong arms carrying her to safety.

Holly’s cobalt gaze studied the stranger, searching for any features that might trigger her memory. “Are you the one who saved me from the fire?”

“All in good time, sweet child.” He lifted her hand in his and his fingers pressed something cold against her open palm. “I believe you lost this.”

She stared at the pendant, a flood of gratitude surging through her. Her fingertips traced a reverent path over the knots surrounding the polished circle of agate. The precious heirloom was the only thing besides blurred memories that Holly had left of her parents and family. Tears welled in her eyes and she clutched the necklace tight in her fist.

“Thank you, sir.”

“You’re quite welcome, my dear. Now, you need to get some rest.” He seemed to sense her sorrow, for his lips pulled into an empathetic smile. “Don’t worry, angel. We’ll see each other again.”

Holly’s golden brow furrowed. “How can you be sure?”

His hands spread in an opening gesture. Eyes as hard and cool as granite remained riveted to the necklace in her hands. “Fate. I’m a strong believer in destiny, Holly. When the time is right, we shall meet again.”

He turned and headed for the door. Not wanting to be alone, she couldn’t resist one more question. “How will I know how to find you if I don’t even know your name?”

The man paused. “You know all you need to know, Holly. My name is not important.”

His voice became a raspy whisper. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled and stood on end as his head craned with slow deliberation. He smiled at her, revealing rows of jagged teeth.

“I am the Monolaith. I am the eternal nightmare from which you cannot awake. We are together as one. I am your fate. I am your destiny.”

The chilling mantra crashed into her, jarring her from the false security of her world. Somewhere in the distance, emergency alarms sounded. There in the room, Holly heard the faint rustle associated with death and destruction. The Monolaith had come again, determined to claim his captive bride. He would never stop, and as her grandmother warned, she would never be free. Fear cinched Holly's heart into a knot. The Monolaith pressed closer. Its cracked lips stretched into a feral grin. She smelled the creature’s putrid stench, felt its searing breath roll across her skin . . . and screamed.

WC~ 1868

© Copyright 2010 Adriana Noir

Jan 18, 2012

To Be or Not to Be: On Editing

I read a lot, as most of us (not just writers) should. Sometimes, I wonder how a traditionally published book ever made it past the editor’s desk, let alone the printers. Other times, I’m left in awe, and that child-like voice inside me whispers that it wants to write like that when we grow up. Often, on Amazon, I cringe.  (Admit it. You know you do, too!)

Writers are often vain. We tend to think the world revolves around us. That’s what happens when you spend countless hours dwelling in a place where a fictional variation of it does. After all, we hold the power of life and death in our hands—entire civilizations rise and fall beneath our fingertips, and if we stop typing, time becomes suspended. It’s easy to see how one can become slightly delusional. But what I don’t get is where the illusion of perfection creeps in. (Is that before or after Act 2?)

It doesn’t matter how fantastic your book is. Even the greatest story ever written doesn’t stand a chance with poor editing. Sadly, most of the mistakes out there are sloppy, careless ones that would have been caught in the most basic of read-throughs.

Now before you start whining that not all of us can afford a professional editor, let me say that I get that. I really do. A proofreader alone can cost anywhere from $20-35 dollars an hour. An editor goes for $65 or more. But, even those with limited budgets could (and should) pass their work along to a trusted source for close scrutiny. This could be a friend, a family member, members of your critique groups or online communities . . . the possibilities are endless.  Use them!

We pour over our work for hours. Our eyes are keyed into our brains. It is far too easy to skim over a word and insert what we know should be there. Our minds know what we meant, and therefore send incorrect cues to our eyes. ‘The’ seems to fit, even if we meant ‘there.’ The plot might have holes, but again, we know what we were trying to convey, so our mind fills in the blanks. Our readers do not have the benefit of seeing the movies that play out in our heads. If we fail to describe character motivation, they will never understand what drives our cast, even if it is crystal clear to us. Tense shifts, inconsistent POVs, missing apostrophes, incorrect homonyms, and shoddy punctuation usage will all throw your valued reader into a frustrated tailspin.

Just as we all have our strengths, we also have our weaknesses.

It doesn’t matter if you are sending your novel to agent #1 on the top 100 list, or going at it your own on Kindle. Brown & Little to Amazon alike, it is still your job, your duty, to make sure you put out the absolute best product that you can. This is your vision, your name . . . and believe me, your reputation is at stake.

Before you scoff, and tell yourself that you are infallible, let me ask you this: Would you send your child off to school without the supplies he or she needed to succeed? Would you show up to an important job interview wearing a stained wife-beater and cut-off jeans? If the answer is no, think about these small revelations and let them sink in. (If the answer is yes, please call me up the next time you have an interview. This is something I would really like to see!)

The truth is, your book is no different. It’s a tough world out there. Do what you can to make sure it succeeds. At the very least, please give it a fighting chance. It, and you, deserve it.

~Best wishes and lots of love~


Jan 11, 2012

The Dreaded Sequel--What Now?

As most writers will probably tell you, the process of finishing a book is exhilarating . . . and exhausting. For a brief moment, you feel like you have just conquered the world. And in a way, you have. It’s the process that comes afterward that no one ever warns you about. No matter what venue you take, the final edits, the polishing—the packaging and marketing strategies, all of them pale in comparison to the next step: writing the next book.

Maybe it’s different for authors who jump headlong into some new, shiny project. You really have no expectations to live up to there, no established voice to follow. You’re starting from scratch.

I am starting from scratch too. For the hundredth time. In the past few weeks, I have scrapped and rewritten twenty-thousand words or more—all because of the dreaded sequel.

When I first started Requiem, I had no idea how long of a story it would be. Like most of us, I was compelled by the voice whispering in my ear and fascinated by what it had to say. What I thought would be a short, character-driven story evolved into something much more. About halfway through the process, I realized not only did I have a novel on my hands, but a three part series. Maybe more.


I LOVE these characters. They are fun and intriguing. That, my friends, is not the problem. The problem is that I love the first book a bit too much. (Is such a thing even possible?) Though the second book is plotted out, nothing I pen quite measures up in my eyes, and I am terrified, yes terrified, that other people will look at the sequel and see the same thing. The last thing I want is people looking at me with pity in their eyes and asking what happened.

Is this sort of crippling fear and doubt normal, or have I just lost my mind? Does it extend into new projects as well, or does this vile plague only afflict subsequent books in a series?

I would love to hear your thoughts and any suggestions you might have. Believe me . . . desperation is starting to set in.