Mondays with Mephistopheles: 9am – Rhys

Welcome to the fifth day of the Mondays with Mephistopheles: 9 a.m. – Rhys blog tour. It will run until August 29th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
Abraham Rogers has an unusual psychotherapy practice: monsters. This first installment is a session with Rhys, the IT vampire who can’t quite connect with the modern world the way he would like.
A few questions for the author:
Are you doing what you truly want to do?
I like to think so. I am pursuing my dreams as best I know how. I have been publishing frequently and am in a position to help other writers. I could not imagine doing anything else. As a little boy, I wanted to tell stories for a living; it seems that I have managed that in my own way.
Do you have a dream to follow?
We all have dreams, and we must be brave to follow them. I wrote a novel called The Ocean and the Hourglass with this exact idea in mind. I am following my dreams, for as long as I am able.
Are you proud of what you’re doing or what you’ve done?
Absolutely. I help people realize their dreams and share their stories with loved ones and strangers alike. I am proud to a part of the process.
How many promises have you made and how many of them you have fulfilled?

I try to make short-term and long-term promises, and accomplish them accordingly. I pass by the benchmarks and goals that are on the way to dreams that are far out beyond the horizon. I will never stop trying to reach them….

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Abe shifted in his seat as Rhys continued. “As if after hundreds of years we only wish to brood and lust for awkward teenage girls. What about knowledge, the wonders of the universe? You humans do not think we have time to absorb the great knowledge of our time? Idiots.”
“It sounds like you think people treat you like you were uneducated. That perhaps you are prone to your baser instincts. How does that make you feel?”
“How does that make me feel? How do you think it makes me feel? Miserable. Like a troglodyte who can’t keep it in my pants. This is the merman problem all over again.”
“The merman problem?”
Rhys waved his hands as if he were a conjurer. “Women want all these myths and fairy tales. A merman is half-man, half-fish. So either they got the right equipment and a fish head, or they got a human torso and fish parts, if you know what I mean.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow…”
Rhys interrupted, becoming irritated for the first time during the session. “I’m undead. Not one of those drooling groaners, but not exactly going to be warming folks by a fire. Need a beating heart to work the equipment women are interested in.”
“Perhaps you are generalizing a bit. Not all women assume that a vampire equates to fantastical romance.”
“Find me one woman who loves vampires and doesn’t think they are those brooding and beautiful blokes with the spray-on abs. The reality is quite a bit different.”
Rhys motioned with his hand to himself.
Abe tapped the pen on the notebook in contemplation. The vampire had not been this riled in some time. There was clearly another motivation at work here.
“What happened today, Rhys?”
“What makes you think something happened?”
Abe gestured to the defensive posture and pensive––more pensive than normal––look on the vampire’s face. “Your demeanor and outburst would suggest that there was an incident.”
Rhys sighed. “Nothing gets past you. Can’t we just have a normal conversation without you confounding what I am trying to say?”
“This is my job, Rhys. I have to help you confront and move past the hurdles in your life so you can be a happy and productive member of society.”
A brief pause grew between them. It became a staring contest with the loser bearing the impetus of the narrative. Rhys rolled his eyes and tucked his feet under the cushions.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:
All of his books are only 99 cents on Kindle right now!
Download Mondays with Mephistopheles for free on Kindle from 8/21 until 8/25!
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Writing Styles – Part 7


My guest today is crime writer, Chris Longmuir. She lives in  Scotland and is an award winning novelist as well as an established writer of short stories and articles. Her crime novels are set in Dundee, Scotland, and have been described as scary, atmospheric, page turners. Chris also writes historical sagas, short stories and historical articles which have been published in America and Britain.

Chris will give us a character description, a scene description and a scene ending from her latest novel, “Missing Believed Dead.” This book was launched in July and is part of the Dundee Crime Series. It has a main plot and a sub plot which mesh together. The character, setting, and scene ending are taken from the sub plot.

Missing Believed Dead

1. CHARACTER: He laid the girl on the rug he’d spread out on the dirt floor. She was beautiful. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, although a strand had escaped and fallen over her face.

(as my descriptions are tied into the action there is a gap between the first and second part of the description.)

Megan stirred and opened her eyes. She didn’t know where she was, and it was so dark she couldn’t make out whether the place was large or small. The rope binding her wrists and ankles bit into her skin, and when she moved it seemed to tighten. Maybe he was here watching her? She held her breath, listening for sounds that would indicate she wasn’t alone, but heard nothing. At least she wasn’t gagged, although her mouth was so dry she had difficulty swallowing, and her tongue felt too big.

2. SETTING: The darkness felt oppressive, pressing in on her and bringing with it strange smells of decay and mould. She shifted her foot and it struck something solid. She seemed to be wedged between it and the wall. There was hardly room to move in the confined space, but she managed to pull her knees up. They cramped again and she stretched her legs out on the cold damp floor, squirming to relieve the tightness in her muscles. The floor beneath her felt strange on her legs; it didn’t feel like wood or any other floor covering and she strongly suspected it might be bare earth.

She shuddered. If it was earth, that meant there would be creepy crawlies, and she couldn’t stand them.

3. SCENE ENDING: No one came when she screamed. And now she knew no one ever would.


Chris Longmuir’s web site –

Chris Longmuir’s blog –

Missing Believed Dead is published as an ebook and in paperback and can be bought from:-

Books by Chris Longmuir:

Dead Wood

Night Watcher

Missing Believed Dead

A Salt Splashed Cradle

Ghost train & Other Stories

Obsession & Other Stories

Writing Styles – Part 6


Anneli Purchase

Today’s writing samples are taken from my novel, “Julia’s Violinist.

It is the story of a love triangle set in Europe and Canada and spanning the decades from about  1912 to 1973.

The character description is of Karl’s mother, Alana:

At last she stepped up onto the tram. Oh, it was good to be out of the wind. Alana unbuttoned her jacket and let it hang loosely. She sat and, with practiced detachment, ran her hand down the length of her leg, enjoying the feel of her chic, new silk stockings. The appreciative gazes of the male passengers pleased her. She smiled smugly at the women, inviting their disparaging glares.

The setting is of a classroom in a German boys’ school in the 1920s:

Herr Solberg took Karl by the scruff of the neck and hauled him into the school, lifting him so that the tips of his toes were all that touched the ground as he walked. Karl tingled with excitement. At the end of the break, the class had to witness his punishment. Karl stood at the front of the classroom looking at the faces of his classmates. Some covered their mouths to hide their expressions of horror at the pain they knew was coming, while others beamed openly in gleeful anticipation.

The scene ending is of Karl being freed from POW camp in 1946:

The Russian guard tossed a tatty bundle of letters to him and read the next name. Karl was stunned. Not a single letter for over a year and now, on the last day, a bundle of … thirty-one, he counted. All from Julia.

He was frantic with wanting to open them, but nothing, not even these special letters, could make him lag behind in the POW camp. Out! Out! Just get out first, and then I can look at them.

As soon as he was out of sight of the prison camp, he sank down on the ground beside the road. His hands trembled as he opened the first letter. Through tears he saw her lovely handwriting, so perfect and neat; words that spoke of loneliness and longing. Each letter contained a small anecdote of Julia’s home life and ended with the hope that they would see each other again. Around the edges of the pages his name was written over and over in a border design, “KarlKarlKarlKarl. I miss you, Karl.”

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. Other recently released POWs walked by. No one stopped. They had seen it all and there was nothing unusual about a man sitting in the dirt crying his eyes out as he read his mail.

Front Cover Only

Julia’s Violinist is available in paperback and all e-book formats at

and at all amazon sites, particularly

Find out more about Anneli Purchase and her books at her website: 

The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow

Welcome to the fourth day of The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow blog tour. It will run until August 17th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:

A plague has covered the land, a single word on the lips of the frightened masses: the Widow. Washing a wave of terror over the countryside and then disappearing like a thief in the night, the Widow holds a kingdom in the palm of her hand. The eyes of Chaos have settled on Prima Terra and heroes must rise. Xeno Lobo, enigmatic and cryptic, hunts the Widow, seeking an object taken from him years before. Will he be able to stem the tide of violence and horror that sweeps the land?

A few questions for the author:

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

Quite often actually. I am a practitioner of Wing Chun and an avid fitness enthusiast, so I am always cognizant of the sound and intensity of my breathing. I think that we become accustomed to the regulatory nature of our lives that we lose touch with basic bodily function. There is also a practical component to not paying attention to autonomic processes all the time. If we had to monitor our own breathing every second of every day, we would find we had time for little else.

What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love? 

I love writing and being a part of the process for other writers. All of my recent actions are toward this end. I am very fortunate to be involved in the very things that I love. Also, I love spending time with my wife and recently returned from a trip to the coast that was a wonderful change of pace.

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

I have a very precise memory that I hope holds up to the test of time. The minutia of the day will no doubt disappear, but the important moments will linger.

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
The castle was an oddity in the poor country. Wicker
shacks and weathered woods that held the measly buildings together were a
drastic contrast to the smooth, carved architecture of the castle upon the
hillside. The providence of Me’lein was the most populated region this
close to the western shores––it had fallen under threat since the coming of
the Widow. 
The path leading to the castle had been plowed in the
early hours of the morning; several feet of snow had fallen during the night.
No tracks had yet graced the way. The main bay doors were guarded by a pair
of dark-garbed soldiers, their steel armor reflecting neither soul nor
compassion. Pikes––gripped tightly––rose far above them; their other hand
brandished a shield with the crest of Me’lein emblazoned across its center:
the essence of a dragon king drifting lazily into the mist. 
Past them was a hall that extended deep into the
darkness––scores of doorways and spiral staircases on either side. The
hallway narrowed toward its completion, the intricate stone walls ending in
a wooden door at its center. 
The same crest depicted all about the mighty castle was
emblazoned here as well. The door opened inward. Within was a grand hall
far taller than any manner of dragon, and darker than the depths of
underworld. But, it was lit brightly by thousands of carefully-placed
candles; at the center of the room was a brilliant white throne. The rests,
the back, and even the cushions were bleached whiter than anything should
naturally be. 
The man who sat upon it was clouded in shadow. His gaze
was that of a shroud. Bearded chin rested on closed fist, royal robes
covering his sinewy flesh. His face was contorted into a frown and black
eyes looked far into the distance, past the guests who shuffled about the
room. The congregation was a mix of all the people of Me’lein. They were
the poor and the rich, the beautiful and the desperate. 
The crowd parted as a tall man approached the throne.
His light purple hat extended far above his head and his moustache extended
down the sides of his face, past his mouth like drooping lines. He knelt
before the man upon the throne, his head bowed and his right arm across his
bended knee. 
“Rise, Gaition. What news do you bring my humble court?”
rumbled the man, his head rising from his fist and leaning against the
marble back of the throne. 
“My lord, I bring a traveler. This man says he has
killed the Widow’s beast, the Nighen. The destroyer of our lands,”
responded Gaition. His light green eyes harbored both deceit and fear.
Hands grasped one another, twisting against each other nervously. The king
leaned back in his throne and closed his eyes. His throat exposed for a
moment, the crest about his neck visible as he paused. 
“Let him in,” returned the king, departing from his
thoughts and staring ahead. 
“As you wish, Lord Verifal. He waits as we speak.”
Gaition bowed and turned from the king, his light blue robes swishing
across the polished floor. His movements were more a scurry than anything
else. Gaition gripped the iron ring that held the door in place and pulled
it forward, revealing the shadowed hallway and the solitary figure of the
hooded man. 
He walked forward, his brown hair hidden beneath the
robes once again. In his left hand, he gripped a cloth bag drawn tight with
a string. As he walked through the congregation, some members grasped their
noses, others covered their mouths. And some even became ill as the man
walked past. 
It was considered disrespectful to allow your hair to
grow longer than that of a king. Verifal’s coal black hair rested around
his shoulders, far shorter than that of the wary stranger who had graced
the hall. The stench that emanated from the cloth bag reached Verifal’s
nostrils and he rose quickly, pointing a finger at the approaching
“What manner of devilry do you bring upon my doors?”
roared the enraged Verifal, as he stepped down from his throne to intercede
in the robed man’s way. 
The man stopped in his tracks. Reaching his hand into
the bag, he produced the mangled head of the creature he had bested. “The
“You have defeated the Nighen?” queried Gaition,
astonished. His thin face was drawn bloodless, and his hand covered his
mouth at the putrid smell. 
The king looked from Gaition to the hooded stranger who
stood before him brandishing the head of the Nighen. “How did you defeat
the Nighen?” 
“Steel: the blade can defeat even the greatest creatures
of the shadow,” replied the hooded man, tossing the putrid head to the
bewildered Gaition. Wiping his hands along his cloak, he pulled the hood
completely from his face. Gaition let out a panicked scream as he caught
the head, and then dropped it unceremoniously upon witnessing the horrid
image of the deceased demon. 
“Are you a hero of Me’lein?” queried Verifal, regaining
his composure and sitting back upon his throne. 
The hooded man looked from side to side and then moved
forward, closer to the throne. He coughed lightly into his hand. “I am from
a place far from here. But I have heard of the Widow who plagues Telen,
especially the providence of Me’lein. I came to aid you in your peril, for
a price,” returned the warrior. 
“A man in pursuit of wealth, I suppose it matters not.
You have destroyed a powerful monster that has ravaged the people of Me’lein
for many moons, and would have for many more without your intervention.
What is your price?” 
“I do not desire your money, King Verifal, but rather a
trinket stolen by the Widow. I have come to kill her,” returned the hooded
warrior. Laughter echoed in the crowd and was silenced quickly by
“That is a tall order for a man who looks more the part
of a beggar than a warrior,” called a voice from behind the hooded warrior.
A man approached the throne, his armor tarnished silver and his head hidden
beneath a steely skull cap. 
A sheath at his side supported a grand broadsword almost
as tall as the man himself. His dark brown eyes were hidden beneath the
confines of the skull cap, and his size was obscured by his armor. But as
he neared the hooded warrior, the size difference was evident. 
The knight was certainly the larger man. 
“Captain Uthen, this man deserves respect for destroying
the Nighen,” commented the king as he rose from his throne once
Uthen placed his hands on his hips and towered over the
warrior. The captain moved one of his hands over the hilt of his
“I can see we have a problem here. Let me make it simple
for you. You will lose that arm before you can even draw that sword,”
cautioned the hooded warrior. 
Uthen’s face darkened and his lip curled in anger, the
grip on his sword tightening. The ripples of his glove made an abrasive
“You might watch your tongue…” 
Before the man could finish, the hooded warrior’s blade
was in his hands and he had cut the sheath from Uthen’s side. Returning the
blade to his back, a smirk was planted firmly on his face. Uthen glared at
his fallen sword. Bending to retrieve it, he noticed the astonished glances
of the gathered townspeople and the bewildered face of Gaition in the
corner. He rose and met the warrior’s eyes, but did not speak. 
His gaze went immediately to his king. 
“Most impressive, warrior. You must pardon the brashness
of Captain Uthen. Many have come before the court and announced such
things. Some have turned to evil upon witnessing the power of the Widow,”
spoke Verifal. 
“I can understand such things, but I am here for that
one reason and that reason alone. This beast was merely in the way, a spawn
of the Towers of Darkness. Your captain…” replied the warrior, but was
interrupted by Uthen. 
“Pardon my inability to control my tongue. I have
witnessed the horrors of the Widow first hand and know that she can turn a
great man into nothing, no matter his skill with a blade. Please accept my
apologies,” spoke Uthen, extending his hand to the warrior. 
The warrior gripped it loosely and then let go. 
“Apology accepted.” 
Lord Verifal sighed with relief and sank into his
throne. “With that aside, I feel that introductions are necessary,
mysterious warrior. You have us at a bit of a loss. You know who we are.
But we know nothing of you, not even your name.” 
“Xeno Lobo. I am hunter from a faraway land,” replied
Xeno, his eyes roaming the gathered masses. Their attention had already
returned to their idle, individual conversations that had enraptured them
before his entrance. 
“What is this trinket you seek?” queried Uthen. 
“That is my affair and will stay as such,” snapped Xeno.
Uthen nodded, not wanting to provoke the man who had so easily disarmed
The king saw the tension and broke into the
conversation. “When do you plan on leaving for the Tower at
“Tonight, by the light of the moon,” returned
“But the Widow’s were-beast hunts in the night,” spoke
“Karian’s playthings are no concern of mine,” replied
Xeno dismissively. 
“Karian?” queried the king. 
“Who is Karian, Master Hunter?” asked Uthen. 
“The Widow, the master of the Tower of Darkness at
Sel’verene,” replied Xeno, his attention brought back to the conversation
after realizing his words. 
“You know the Widow by name?” asked Uthen. 
“I am afraid so,” replied Xeno uncomfortably. 
“This is why you go to Sel’verene?” 
“In a way, but she had taken something from me the last
time we met. I am going to retrieve it at any cost,” replied Xeno as he
moved away from the throne and paced the small area in front of the royal
“Last time,” whispered Uthen to himself. 
“We are in your debt for killing the Nighen. If the
Widow has truly taken something from you, then we would be honored to help
you defeat her,” replied Verifal graciously. 
The townspeople whispered among themselves. 
Xeno looked at the boastful king and pondered for a
moment. “How could you possibly aid me in my quest?” queried Xeno, and then
continued. “No army can enter the windy paths that lead to the Tower, and
there is no weapon that I can use better than my own. No magical artifact
or incantation will suffice to defeat Karian, the Widow.” 
“Then what can we lend you? We wish to help you,”
pressed the king. 
The presence of the dark lord Chaos flooded the land in
shadow. The appearance of the Widow was another test of humanity, to see if
they could truly outlast the dark tides of malevolence. 
Xeno parried the question and looked around at the
apprehensive gazes of the court of Me’lein. “What of Chaos? Surely his
coming far outweighs my journey?” 
“The Widow is a part of the evil that is Chaos, and all
must be cleansed in order to restore peace across the land. Allies must be
chosen and lines draw in the sands of war,” replied Uthen with his grand
arms across his chest. 
“Indeed,” returned Xeno with equal dissatisfaction at
the options. “So be it then. Let me reside in Me’lein for the duration of
the night, and then in the morning provide me with a fresh mount and
supplies. This is how you may aid me.” 
“Very well,” replied Verifal with a grand sweep of his
hand as he rose from his throne. “Your request is granted. Gaition, prepare
the guest chambers for Master Warrior Xeno.” 
Gaition bowed and exited the chamber in haste, a
spiteful glare upon his features as he pushed past the congregation of
citizens. Uthen nodded to Xeno as the chatter and conversation of the
antechamber was restored. The vagrant warrior melted back into the surroundings,
awaiting his journey to the north.

A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he
has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The
End of the World Playlist
BittenThe JourneyThe
Ocean and the Hourglass
The Path of the FallenThe
, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter
(@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business.
You can find more information about it here:
of his books are only 99 cents on Kindle right now!
Download The
Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow 
for free on Kindle from
8/13 until 8/17!
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Visit and follow the blog for a chance to win a
Kindle Fire!

The Journey – by Dan O’Brien

Welcome to the fifth day of The Journey blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, the Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. 

A few questions for the author:
Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? 
This is a tough question. I would not want to lose old memories because they make me who I am. Though without the ability to form new memories, I would never be able to change and adapt to the world around me.
Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first? 
In a clinical sense, yes. However, I think we learn the most about the nature of truth when we challenge rigid and unfounded ideas that drive our life. I am a strong proponent of rallying against institutional ideas to learn as much as we can about the vastness of our universe.
Has your greatest fear ever come true? 
Not yet, and I hope it never does.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
The Frozen Man
The Lonely marched into the darkness that was the tundra. The cold was all around him, though he felt nothing, neither warmth nor freezing cold. A man stood alone in the field, his features obscured.
“Why have you come to the North?” called the figure.
“I seek answers. I wish to know of the Truth.”
“Then you are the Lonely. I am called the Frozen Man.”
“Tell me of the North, Frozen Man.”
The Frozen Man was a pale silhouette defined by coal black eyes and hair. He spoke without inflection, without emotion, without feeling. “The North is a cold place, a desolate place. There is nothing here but survival. There cannot be failure, for failure is the death of the mind.”
“But how can there be success without failure?”
“There is no emotion here, no feeling. We of the North do not require emotions. Our success comes from science, not from emotions. Our accomplishments are different from all others. Ours are hollow, though we cannot see that.”
“Why are you here in the cold?”
“Cold permeates my being, my core. My body long ago ceased to possess the fire of passions, of emotions. A shell remains. This is the price I have paid to become the man I am. Though it was truly only half a life.”
The cold winds blew over the Lonely and the Frozen Man, their still forms holding strong against the elements. If there was nothing here to begin with, then against what were they truly holding strong?
“Why am I here?” called the Lonely.
“This is not your place. This place is for those who truly feel nothing. Those who have left nothing behind.”
“Then my answers cannot be found here?”
“The questions for which you seek answers can only be provided by the one who holds the keys to your creation: the Keeper of the Fates. Though he is no farther from you than you are to me.”
“I feel strange, as though I had just begun, or just ended. This place is so familiar, yet so distant. Why do I feel as I do?”
“This place is both a beginning and an end. Your presence here is a journey, one which molds you, shaping the person you will become.”
“Who am I?” spoke the Lonely.
The winds shifted yet again, but neither entity moved.
The world around them howled in silence, in the vast emptiness that was both nothingness and infinity. The Frozen Man’s features had shifted. His skin had grown paler, so much so that it was now azure.
It was the color of the icy waters of frozen lands.
“You are the Lonely,” the Frozen Man spoke.
“What does it mean to be the Lonely?” iterated the monotone, unflinching figure of the Lonely.
The Frozen Man’s face sluiced with icicles as if he were growing ever colder. “That is perspective. Your name here in the North would be of high status. To achieve a place where you require no solace or emotion would be a gift. True solitude would allow for incomparable logics and histories.”
The Lonely wrung his hands and looked down at the tattered rags that he wore. “Why do I not have fine clothes?”
“There is no need for such frivolities here. For in the North, it is your mind that is the greatest commodity. Why would any man place a material thing such as riches above intelligence? What can be gained by this?” returned the Frozen Man, his coal eyes watching the Lonely.
The Lonely looked off into the distance and saw only more tundra. The landscape about him was nothing more than a never-changing white sheet splashed occasionally with peaks and valleys of a useless existence. “To base one’s life? To give meaning?” the Lonely returned quizzically.
“Is intelligence not a grand enough reward, worthy enough pursuit?”
The Lonely shook his head, running his hands over his face. He felt for the first time that his skin was smooth, and warm. “Perhaps, but at the expense of longing and connection it may be too little of an effort for a life.”
The Frozen Man faded and then reappeared behind the Lonely. This time it stood twice the height of the smaller man. “We must all focus and commit to something. Can you think of something nobler? More important?”
The Lonely looked upon the horrific image of the giant Frozen Man. “I do not know. How can I possibly? I do not remember who I am or how I came to be here.” Then lowering his head, he mumbled. “Am I dead?”
“What is death?” echoed the Frozen Man.
The Lonely shook his head, defeated.
“To not live? Cessation of functions?”
The wind howled across them, but the Lonely could not feel the frigid touch of the gales, nor hear its mammoth cry. “To die is then to cease brain function? Is that what you believe?”
The Lonely shrugged; the act as difficult for him as it had been for Atlas. “I do not know,” he answered.
The Frozen Man nodded, crossing his mighty arms across his chest. “Then by that definition you are dead. Your body is no longer functioning in the realm from which you have come. Here you are anew.”
“Then am I not alive?” replied the Lonely, lifting his head to meet the empty gaze of the Frozen Man. Touching his skin and pressing his palms together, he gestured. “Am I not form again? Is this not a state of being?”
“What then is life?” mocked the Frozen Man.
The Lonely kicked aimlessly at the snow beneath his feet. As he did so, he realized that he wore no boots, nor shoes.
His feet were barren and his skin tan.
“I have no shoes.”
The Frozen Man did not seem surprised. “If you did not have a coat, why then would you possess foot coverings?”
“Is this all a dream?” whispered the Lonely. “How can I know that I am not dreaming?”
The Frozen Man had ceased to resemble a man any longer and appeared more as an ice creature. A gargantuan mound stood where the Frozen Man had previously and only the voice emanated from the mountain of ice. “To dream is a state in which there are concurrently literal and figurative meanings.”
“This must be a dream,” repeated the Lonely.
“A dream can be had when one is conscious or unconscious. To have a dream is to possess a wish or hope for the future to which all subsequent actions are directed. Are you asleep? Imagining this? Perhaps, but how could you tell? I would not know the answer to that question. Only you could know such a thing,” answered the Frozen Man, its voice like thunder rising from the depths.
“I have never dreamed such a dream as this. As well, I had never wished to be bound to such a place; so by your definition this cannot be a dream,” began the Lonely slowly. “However, that is by your definition and if this were a dream, then it would be based on my definitions, my wants and beliefs.”
The mound shuddered and the Lonely turned away.
A white glow struck out that was soon accompanied by a piercing whine that rose and rose yet again, until the mound dissipated in a storm of ice crystals. Removing his hand from his eyes, the Lonely saw that the Frozen Man had returned: where before it had been a pale man, it was now only the metallic exoskeleton of a robot.
Pivots and rotors of steel framed the creature.
It was now the very core of what it wished to be.
The Lonely looked upon what the Frozen Man had become. “You do not see a difference, do you?” queried the Lonely. “In yourself, when you look upon yourself. When you see yourself now it is as it has always been?”
The Frozen Man nodded.
“Flesh, humanity, emotion. These are devices and totems that hold no merit. We of the North require none of them. We are whole in our intelligence.”
The Lonely was not satisfied.
“Your intelligence cannot be complete when you see only one piece of the spectrum. To believe yourself whole by adhering only to the tenants of a pure intelligence, you neglect the aspects of other forms of intelligence. There is much more than accumulated knowledge. Can you not see that in all of your perceived wisdom?”
“By shedding all human endeavors, we can understand what makes them weak, incomplete. In our objectivity we need not experience them, only witness and catalogue,” replied the Frozen Man.
“There is not one form of intelligence greater than that of another. You speak as though the ones inferior are not worthy of your time. They are equal in the balance of things,” offered the Lonely.
The scream was like that of a thousand voices breaking upon one another. The mountains shook, the ice split at the feet of the Lonely. “Lies.”
The Lonely stepped forward, moving away from an ever-growing crack at his bare feet. “They are not lies, but perspective, true objectivity. What you look upon as truth is little more than the subjective product of your unfair judgments.”
The Frozen Man shook violently, the pistons of its joints spewed wildly. Its face, no longer masculine or feminine, contorted horrifically. “No, what you speak of is evil. Those are lies.”
“Is it evil to speak the truth?”
The Frozen Man had begun to hunch.
“The Truth is. It is without right and wrong, for morality is created by societal law influenced by perspective. Therefore information is neither evil nor good, but instead detrimental in the hands of those who do not understand.”
The Lonely nodded.
“Precisely, so what I speak is simply information that is hurtful because of what you believe. That does not make it truth or lies, it simply is.”
The Frozen Man had been reduced to little more than a dwarfish version of itself. “There are no more answers for you here. Leave at once.”
The Lonely opened his mouth to reply, but he felt a force tug upon the very fiber of his being. At first in one direction and then another, until his body was being pulled in so many directions that he felt as if he was going to be torn into nothingness. The world before his eyes was at once light and darkness and he faded.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:
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Writing Styles – Part 5

Anneli Purchase

I’m Anneli Purchase. Today I’m doing my own part in “Writing Styles.”

My writing style challenges, to show description of character, setting, and a scene ending, are taken from my novel “Orion’s Gift.” It’s a drama that takes place on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Character: This describes Shiree, ex-wife of main character Kevin when he visits her in a Mexican jail.

A wild-looking creature stumbled into the room. Her black hair was a tangled bush of knots and clumps of dirt. Two small eyes squinted through a swollen raccoon-like mask. Filthy clothes hung on her in shreds. Black, bare feet shuffled across the floor towards me. The pissy smell of her was hard to take. Involuntarily, I backed away, clutching at my nose. Who the hell was this? I called for a guard.

“Kevin?” The creature squinted at me, and came closer. She spoke through puffy lips that had several scabbed over splits.

Setting: Going to Cielito Lindo in Sylvia’s van.

Dust poofed up from each pothole my tires bumped through. It seeped into the van and settled on every surface. My eyes itched. I gasped for air, coughing out the thick dust only to inhale it again. I didn’t know whether to open the windows or keep them tightly closed. The van bounced along for a couple of miles like a bucking bronco even though I drove slowly. At last I saw the sea and knew I was close. Palapas barely bigger than beach umbrellas marked camping areas on the water side of the road. On the landward side, I checked in at the restaurant where a sign said, “Oficina.”

Scene Ending: Kevin speaking to Shiree at the jail.

“And if you forget to follow the rules, all I have to do is go to the police and lay attempted murder charges against you.”

“I won’t forget. I’ll never forget. Never.” She narrowed her eyes and one cheek muscle twitched.

I had all the concessions I wanted from her. Why did I still have the feeling that she’d won?

Orion's Gift

Available as paperback or as e-book at both of the links below. For synopses and reviews of Orion’s Gift as well as my other two novels, “The Wind Weeps,” and “Julia’s Violinist,” visit my website (link at the bottom of the page).