Had an awesome time interviewing with Sophia over on her blog. Click below to check out the interview. Many thanks to Sophia for having me and giving me this exposure!
I keep seeing book trailers all over FB by up-and-coming self-pubbed authors. I’ve seen authors drop several hundred dollars to get these things created. I wanted to see how hard it would be to create one, so I give to you my own book trailer created with nothing but stock anime images, free software, and about 7 hours of time. I figure anyone can make anyting look good if they have a pricey piece of software, so I wanted to see if I could come up with anything remotely good using free stuff. If you like it, please share.
The following is an excerpt from a work in progress. “Akito, The Dark Flame” is part of the Before the Sun Rises series and introduces a character that will have a large part in the third novel from the same series, a novel called Blood’s Embrace. This story tells the tale of how Akito becomes a vampire and a bit of his tragic past. *Please note this story has not went through any proofreading or editing phases.
Akito, The Dark Flame
a Before the Sun Rises story
by Nicola C. Matthews
“Eddie, if you do not concentrate, you will not be able to control all of that Chakra,” Stealth looked sternly at his young charge, seeing the young man’s brow furrowed in obvious pain.
Eddie slung his head slightly, trying to dislodge the brown curls which had stuck to his forehead. He succeeded in causing more of the loose waves to stick to his sweat-soaked skin. He grimaced, his eyebrows nearly meeting in the middle as his brow furrowed even more.
“I’m …. trying,” he grunted, his bare chest heaving heavily as he struggled to breath.
The veins in his arms were standing out against the well-defined muscles. His arms were outstretched, his wrists together and his hands making a mirrored “C” formation, the classic cup for which even now the tiny ball of energy was flicking inside of his fingers.
Eddie hissed slightly as he let the breath out that he had been subconsciously holding, his knees bending slightly.
“Good, Eddie, very good. Don’t forget to breathe.” Stealth walked slowly around Eddie as the young teenager stood in the middle of the dojo, the black pants of his gi pooling slightly around his bare feet.
Stealth stopped just to the side of his student, eyeing the small ball of energy critically. “Carefully now, I want you to concentrate really hard, make the ball more compact. The trick to making your Chakra more effective is to condense it within itself.”
Stealth got closer, his black eyes nearly level with the flickering ball of green energy held within Eddie’s hands. The ball grew slightly, becoming brighter. Eddie heaved in a giant breath of air, his body beginning to shake with the exertion of trying to keep so much life-force balled up in such a tight restraint.
“Good. Now, focus that energy, let it slip past your fingertips, let it flow out, but keep it connected to your inner self. If you don’t keep it connected-“
Stealth’s words were cut off as the green ball of fire shot past Eddie’s fingers and careened around the room.
“Keep it under control, Eddie,” Stealth warned, stepping back quickly as the green ball flew past his head, nearly singeing the long black hair that was tied neatly back in a long braid. “Keep it connected, Eddie, concentrate.”
“I’m trying!” Eddie screamed in frustration. In that single instant his concentration was lost, and the ball of fire grew to triple its original size, the Chakra coming unbound from itself and smashing into the opposite wall.
The entire side of the dojo exploded outward, sending bits of wood and debris out into the street. A few people screamed as they quickly took cover from the flying splinters of bamboo.
“Fuck!” Eddie hissed under his breath as he swiped his arm across his forehead, the sweat causing the loose curls to curl up tighter around his hairline. “Sorry about that, Stealth. I’ll fix it in the morning.” Eddie looked around the dojo, grimacing at the various holes riddling the training area. “And the rest, too.” He gave his master a lop-sided grin before collapsing onto the floor, picking up the bottle of water a few feet away.
“You are getting better,” Stealth said, taking note of the various sized holes in his dojo. “Notice how much smaller the holes have gotten over the past few months.”
The two of them looked around the training area, the various holes and repairs making the place look more like a war zone than a place for training in the martial arts.
Eddie leaned forward to look out the three foot round hole his Chakra had just made in the south wall, seeing the double garage door of the motor shop next door caved in on itself. “You think old man Kiminick will notice?” he asked with a laugh.
Stealth moved silently around the large room, replacing the various weapons in their respective stands. “I think my bank account will notice when I get the repair bill next week.”
Eddie snickered slightly, chugging down the last few swallows of water. “So how come you know all about this Chakra stuff but I’ve never seen you form so much as a single spark of energy?” the nineteen year old asked as he pulled on the white shirt of his gi. “If you know so much about it then you have to be able to control your own Chakra, right?” Eddie glanced over at Stealth as he gathered his shoulder-length brown curls into a pony tail.
“We’ve been over this, Eddie,” Stealth said to him as he picked up a broom and tossed it over to his student. Eddie caught the instrument with ease, immediately starting to sweep the floor of the large room. “Chakra comes from the living energy within and around us. Vampires are dead, therefore we do not have any Chakra to control.”
Eddie snorted, his brown eyes rolling skyward. “Yeah, that’s what you keep saying, Master Stealth. But I don’t buy it.” Eddie propped his arms up on the handle of the broom as he looked over at the vampire a few feet away. “Chakra is just energy, and energy is never really lost, it just gets transferred, rearranged if you will. So dead or not, you still have some type of energy flowing through your body because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be up walking around.”
Stealth sighed. He was tired of having this argument with his young pupil. They had been going over this same scenario for the better part of four years now. Eddie was convinced that Stealth’s lack of Chakra was the result of some mental block. Stealth, however, had not been able to make so much as a single spark from his Chakra ever since his sire, LeeLee, had embraced him all those years ago. He had always been taught that Chakra was a living energy, and since the vampire body was no longer technically living, he would never have use of his Chakra again. He had taken his trainers at their word. But now, in this new scientific age, his young charge was determined to prove that his Master’s life force was still lingering deep inside of him somewhere, just waiting to be unleashed once again.
Eddie laughed softly. He knew his Master was having that internal battle again. He wanted so much to believe that he had not really lost his Chakra, but at the same time, if it could be proven that Stealth’s own masters had been wrong in this one aspect of his training, what else had they been wrong about? If he began questioning all those decades of training, his entire belief system could come crashing in on itself. Stealth was nothing if not a stickler for the rules that governed his life and the Council. To know that they had been wrong on something so fundamental in his training would mean the end of everything that made sense in his life.
“Relax, Master,” Eddie told him as he went back to sweeping the floor. “Even if you could somehow unlock your Chakra again, it doesn’t mean that the Council has been wrong about everything.” Eddie glanced over to where Stealth was once again hanging weapons against the wall. “Trust me,” Eddie said quietly, “just because you find out that someone has lied to you your whole life doesn’t mean you have to give up and wallow in self-pity.”
Stealth smiled at the words of wisdom from someone so young. Eddie, above all the others whom he had been charged with over the years, knew all too well about not giving up in the face of great odds.
“You are right, my young apprentice,” he said as he moved towards the door. “Enough training for one night. You have worked hard these past few months and deserve a nice break.” Stealth stopped long enough to pull his shoes onto his feet. “Let us go down to the L and L for a few drinks.”
Eddie’s head popped up at the mention of one of the roughest vampire hang-outs in Abyss. “Really?” he asked, almost holding his breath as he waited for Stealth to begin laughing at his own joke. But Stealth didn’t start laughing, only stood waiting by the door. “You are really going to take me to a vampire nightclub?” He stood still for a split second before sprinting over to the door and pulling his own shoes onto his feet.
“But you’ve always said I was too young and inexperienced to be trusted in such places.” Eddie looked over at his Master, thinking that this whole thing had to surely be a joke.
“And why not?” Stealth asked as he ushered his young charge out the door. “You are never going to learn what it means to be a vampire assassin if you do not get your hands dirty once in a while.”
a sneak peek at
The Red Fang
the first novel in the
BEFORE THE SUN RISES
by Nicola C. Matthews
Stealth? Ethereal’s mind prodded.
Yes, dearest? He responded after a few moments.
How are you holding up?
The half-fey knew that her manipulation of the elements made her mind a churning mess with little coherent thought. The sheer power coursing through her body and mind made it nearly impossible for Stealth to keep the connection open.
The first time he had tried to open up the link between them while she was manipulating the elements, back when they had been in the parking garage all those months ago, had nearly knocked him unconscious, the force of all that power almost too much for him to handle. It had taken him nearly a month of practice to be able to keep the link open for any length of time, and even longer to be able to control the connection enough so that he did not end up a blubbering mass of incoherence sprawled on the ground.
I’m okay he said to her. But it was a lie. He had begun to get a nosebleed several minutes ago, but there was so much blood already spattered on his face and body that Ethereal was not likely to notice.
What Stealth didn’t know was that his nosebleed was not a consequence of their shared link, but a symptom of it. Unknown to him, the red-headed elemental manipulator hiding outside the building was drenched in her own blood, the force of using so much power slowly destroying her brain.
She somehow managed to block this information from the vampire. The mission was the most important thing right now. If he knew that using her powers for such a long stretch of time would cause her harm, neither he nor Requiem would have allowed her to participate, even if it meant tossing her into one of the cells in the basement of The Compound.
There’s too many of them her voice whispered inside of his head. The vampire had not even made it past the first set of rooms. The soldiers seemed to be coming from everywhere, pouring from both sides of the building and out of the rooms that surrounded them.
Take a right and head down Hallway C, then turn left down Hallway B until it merges with Hallway D, then left again. This will take you back into the main corridor, going around one of the labs and interrogation rooms. The main hallway is going to be heavily guarded, as will Sergeant Hall’s office. Circumvent the lab and interrogation room and come up behind them; maybe you’ll get lucky.
Stealth nodded his head in agreement, suddenly making a hard right as he came to the first set of intersecting hallways. The doors on either side of him suddenly burst open, a small army of lycanthrope hybrids rushing out into the hallways. As soon as the first one set eyes on the vampire, he lifted his head and howled.
The warning was taken up by the small group, the sound almost deafening in such a confined area.
I don’t think this is going to work, he thought, the idea directed at the half-fey currently sharing his mind.
Ethereal was silent, giving Stealth a moment of panic as he frantically called for her through their shared mental link.
The labs must be where they do all the experimentation.
Stealth sliced into the soft underbelly of one of the beasts as it lunged for him.
I hate to point out the obvious, my dearest, but so it would seem, what with all the hybrids crawling all over me his mind whispered back.
Another one of the strange creatures, this one a combination of man and cougar, crouched down and then pounced. Stealth bent down and arched his sword upwards as the beast came down towards him, sending his blade clean through the hybrid’s midsection. Blood and bits of intestines rained down around the vampire, sending up a stench of the scientifically altered blood into the air.
Stealth wiped absently at the gore that had spattered his face and arms, his eyes taking in the mess. The smell was enough to cause him to nearly wretch where he stood.
The scent of the blood had the other hybrids in a frenzy, the group rushing towards Stealth with rolling eyes and lolling tongues. He pulled his sword up in a protective stance, but the animal-man combinations did not seem interested in the immortal anymore.
They all descended upon the body of their fallen comrade, their claws slicing into the body while their teeth crunched bones so they could get at the marrow hidden inside. The aroma of blood grew stronger in the stale air, causing the hybrids to begin fighting with each other in an attempt to get more of the freshly slaughtered meat.
Their growls and snaps turned into swats with their razor-like claws. As more and more of the animals became victims of the stronger ones in the group, the pile of body parts grew, the perfume of so much blood attracting more and more of the misshapen hybrids.
Stealth stood with his sword drawn, watching in fascination as the animals began to attack and devour each other. He didn’t understand it. The hybrids that had invaded his home and the ones they had fought in the underground parking garage had not seemed bothered by the scent of blood in the least. Now they were all fighting each other like rabid dogs.
Stealth, go back! The small voice in his head brought him out of his wonderment. Go back, past the main corridor until you come to Hallway A. Take a right, and that will take you straight to the sergeant’s office.
Stealth took a few steps backwards, easing away from the squirming horde of beasts that gorged themselves on the bodies of their fellow agents. Once he felt safe to turn his back to the feasting animals, he picked up his speed, dashing back down Hallway C and taking a hard right down Hallway A.
He made short work of the few SHiELD agents that he encountered, his body absorbing dozens of bullets as the soldiers continued to spray gunfire throughout the building. He moved past the second exam room, stopping when he saw a sign that read INFIRMARY.
Why are you stopping? Ethereal’s frightened but slightly annoyed voice whispered inside of his head.
Why would this place need an infirmary? He wondered more to himself than in answer to Ethereal’s question. The head of this operation obviously doesn’t care if these men live or die. They are all expendable.
So what? Ethereal practically screamed inside of his head.
So why have a place to patch them back up? Why not just let them die of their injuries?
Stealth put his hand out and turned the doorknob, Ethereal’s voice inside of his head begging him not to go into the room. The vampire opened the door and moved inside, his eyes taking in a sight that his centuries of immortality had not prepared him for.
The room was lined with beds, more than half of them taken up by men who were hooked up to all kinds of IVs, their bodies in varying stages of healing. Some of the men had lost limbs, the stumps wrapped tightly in bandages. Several of them were writhing in pain, others seemed completely comatose.
Stealth moved to the nearest bed, reaching out to turn the IV bags around one by one so he could read them.
Vampire A – blood
Vampire Q – plasma
Vampire R – hemoglobin
Drug – FK506
Drug – tetracycline
Drug – propafenone
What is all that? Ethereal’s voice asked inside his head.
Stealth shook his head. Whole blood, plasma, red blood cells, a broad-spectrum antibiotic. I’m not really sure what the others are. The vampire looked around. This whole place looks like a bad sci-fi movie.
Last year I sat heartbroken and terrified, along with half of the known world, having heard of Bret’s health problems. I feared for his life, and for mine, for I owe this man my sanity, and in some small way, my life.
I will not harp on the details in this post. Anyone wanting to get a rough idea of what Bret has done for me and what he means to me need only to surf to the top of this blog and click on the page titled “Why Bret Michaels is My Mentor.”
I held my breath as May 28, 2010 got closer and closer, waiting to hear that the concert that I had tickets to was being cancelled or rescheduled. I had been through a lot that year; in all honesty I had been through a lot in the past several years. This new development was just another ordeal in a long line of ups and downs for me. During that time, I had relied on the sound of Bret’s voice and my ethereal-like bond with him to get me through another rough patch in an endless road of trials and triumphs that was my life.
May 28th rolled around, and I discovered myself on the Gulf Coast of my home state, standing one row back from the stage, feeling as if I was going to jump clean out of my skin. I honestly kept waiting for someone to come on stage and tell us that Bret had some sort of set back and had been carted off to the hospital once again. I kept praying silently to whatever Higher Force there may be that Bret would be okay. And as promised, at 8 pm Bret took center stage to a sold out crowd of 1400 screaming, thankful fans. I was just another face in the ocean of smiling, loving faces tilted up to see a man who is both mortal and immortal, an icon, a man among mice….and my hero.
It has always been one of my dreams to meet Bret Michaels. However, I have a confession to make. I have always had this gnawing suspicion that if I were to ever meet him, something would happen to him. I know that sounds nuts, but I really, truly fear that if we were to ever come in contact with each other, it would mean something tragic for him. I guess I have always considered myself a nobody, nothing special, nobody worth meeting or mentioning. Yes, I think I’m a pretty decent writer, an author, but as a person….well, I guess I still have the same self-worth of the scared twelve-year girl who had it beat into her every single day that she was nothing and would always be nothing.
I suppose that I know that if, by some miracle, I were to ever meet the man who I deem my own personal savior, I would not make any type of impression on him. Just another fan in an ongoing parade of fans, another face in the crowd, just one more person who is screaming, “I love you, Bret! I’m your biggest fan!”
I know that others feel just as strong of an attachment to Bret as I do. I guess there may even be some people out there who have similar stories as mine. I guess what depresses me the most, what I simply do not want to happen, is for Bret to never know that there was a small girl out there in the world, a small girl who grew into a woman, whose life he touched in such an astounding way that she stopped her suicide attempts cold turkey because she didn’t want to leave this earth without first shaking his hand. A little girl, who still to this day, follows his career, is thankful every day that the Higher Force, whatever it may be, placed him in her life.
I was so excited to learn that Bret will be back at the Hardrock on May 28th of this year as well. Unfortunately, it is looking like I will not be able to make the concert this year. I am once again heartbroken and depressed, although when put into context with what was going on this time last year, I’m once again thankful that I will not make the concert due to personal issues rather than Bret’s health. Still, I can barely stomach the thought that Bret will be a mere 100 miles away from me. In the context of the cosmos, that’s practically touching distance. So close, yet so very far away. The whole thing makes me want to weep in frustration.
I had so hoped to have finished The Red Fang by May and would somehow be able to get the book to Bret. Yeah, I know, big dreams there. But last year there were people putting gifts up on the edge of the stage through the whole show. I figured that I could always do that, and maybe, just maybe, he might someday read the dedication page. Because even if I were never to meet him in person, I could at least rest in the knowledge that he knows he has a fan who appreciates him so much that she dedicated her latest novel to him. I guess, to put it simply, I just want Bret to know that I exist, because if Bret Michaels knows my name, even if it is a pseudonym, then that would somehow make me worth something.
In honor of Bret’s continued good health and his upcoming concert on May 28th at the Hardrock Casino in my birth city, I would like to share with my readers the dedication page that will be included in the novel The Red Fang. This book is not just dedicated to Bret Michaels, rock star, but Bret Michael Sychak the man for just being the wonderful, talented person that he is:
This book is dedicated to Bret Michael Sychak, a.k.a Bret Michaels. You have been the shining light in my life, my inspiration, my mentor, my hero. Seeing you tread fearlessly into the spotlight doing not only what you love, but doing so in the face of tremendous odds, has given me the courage to let loose upon this unsuspecting world a barrage of utter crap the likes of which the world has never known before. I can’t write for shit, but that shouldn’t stop me from doing it, or others from reading it. Rock on!
Love, Poison, and Bret Michaels always,
*Please feel free to link back to this article, Tweet it, post on Facebook, Myspace, etc. My hopes are that if enough people get the word out about this article, Bret might at least have heard of the erotic fantasy writer known as Nicola Chey Matthews.