Archive | January 2013

Here With the Wolves

Today I sent off another manuscript to an agent at Sanford J. Greenburger. This book is the largest book I’ve ever completed (I have one that is easily three times the size, but it is still a work in progress) and the first story I’ve written that takes place in “modern times”. Actually, it takes place in the year 2016, but hey, that’s modern, right? Anyway, here’s a little bit of a sample for ya’ll. Enjoy! And wish me luck!!!

This story takes place in the year 2016.
The earth consists of three different humanoid species: humans, Slayers, and Wolves.
The time has come for you, reader, to take a stand. You must choose whose side you’ll be on. Are you with the wolves? Or do you stand with the humans? Because if you are with the wolves; you don’t have a chance.
My people are here to purge the earth of its wolfish plague.
I am a Slayer. My name is Vanessa Vancouver.
I’ve lived in Colorado all my life, with a family history that has spread from every state in the Union, originating in ancient Italy. See, I’m a descendent of the infamous Christopher Columbus. I retain none of those Old Italian characteristics, but have a blood line as old as the discovery of the Americas. See, the Grandfather, as my family calls Columbus, was a werewolf hunter. Yes, he sold that bit about finding a trade route and babbling about the world being round and all, but really, he was after blood. The blood of his enemies: the werewolf. It was an ancient feud, between my family and the werewolves, but I have no idea where it originated or in which generation. The Grandfather found the wolves in Spain and eradicated them, but not before overhearing a conversation about “all the wolves in the New World”. So, after securing a crew, a couple of ships and enough gold from the crown, he set off, set on ridding the world of the foul beasts.

The Night I walked off of Boot Hill

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Buy the book on amazon.com either as an e-book for your Kindle or paperback today!

Here’s a sample of Chapter One:

My eyes opened. This didn’t look like heaven. As a matter of fact, it looked a lot like the Arizona Territory in 1889.
I sat up.
This was the Arizona Territory!
I stiffly got to my feet and dusted off my threadbare overcoat.
There was a chill in the air, and the bright stars and waning moon above shown down, bathing the world in an eerie light. I sucked in the sweet smell of pine and ashes into my lungs and a shiver ran down my spine. This place was different. Alien. It was as if I’d been asleep for too long.
Suddenly, I realized something: I didn’t know what my name was.
Come to think of it, I’m not even sure how I got to be where I was at. Wait, where exactly am I?
Desperately, I tried to remember anything about my past. I must have looked something like a statue, standing on that hill in the darkness, scratching my chin and glaring into thin air.
I might have stood like that for hours, or it may have been mere seconds. I don’t know because time didn’t mean anything to me.
Then it hit me like a sack full of coal. My name is Barbados Tom, and I was an outlaw living in the Arizona Territory in the late eighteen hundreds. But I still didn’t know where in the territory I was, and how I got here. Last thing I remember was I was a sitting in a jailhouse waiting for something.
I suddenly felt sick. My stomach churned and I tasted bile creeping up the back of my throat. I couldn’t get sick, though, because my stomach was apparently empty.
Pain engulfed me, but it was a strange pain, a far-off pain, it was like remembering something I had done years ago, something that had hurt like the dickens. I knew what I had been waiting for. I had been sentenced to hang.
I had robbed one stage too many, killed one too many men, and stirred up a little too much trouble.
The lawman had finally caught up with me, and in the shootout that had ensued, my gang had been knocked off, one by one, all except for me.
I had lived.
But I had been cornered like a mouse with half a dozen hungry tom cats cutting off any hope of my escape.
I had two choices. Surrender or… No, I only had one choice. I threw down my gun belt and stepped out into the open, hands raised skyward, while sweat poured down my body. I was then pistol whipped and drug, unconscious, to the nearest town behind a galloping horse, and then I was thrown into a concrete and steel cell, being told the next time I set foot outside that jail house would be when I was on my way to the gallows.
And here we are.
I now know where I am.
I’m standing on Boot Hill.
I’m dead. I was hung.
But, if that is true, then, how am I standing here, remembering my past life? Am I a ghost? Is it possible? I remember hearing about ghosts, the spirits of those who had died and had come back to haunt the living.
But I wasn’t interested in that. Yes, I’d hidden out in ghost towns; I’d visited and laughed at supposedly ‘haunted hotels’, but I had never believed in ghosts. So why was I here? Was this punishment? Was I being punished for not believing in ghosts? Now, I’ll admit, I’m no holy man, but I’ve glanced at the Good Book a time or two, but I guess I never bothered to heed what it said. Maybe that was why I was here. Was this my penance? I hadn’t ever given much thought to what would become of me after death. I really didn’t care. I lived for the moment. I planned my next daring escape. I dreamed about the fistfuls of gold I would steal. But as for my soul, I hadn’t giving it a whole lot of thought.
Let me tell you what: I was thinking about it now. I knew in my heart that it was too late for me, but thinking about the gold started my mind working all over again. There had been a reason for the gold, hadn’t there? Yes! I’d sent it somewhere! But where had I sent it? Had I been stashing it in a cave somewhere? Burying it?
No.
It had been important for me to rob those stagecoaches. I needed that money, but what did I need it for?
I slowly walked down the hill, shaking my head and trying to remember what the money had been for. Had I been saving up to buy something? That seemed unlikely. It wasn’t in my nature to buy something when I could steal it. I walked through the gate beneath the sign that read ‘Cemetery’, and continued down the lane.
Vaguely, I wondered if anyone could see me. Since there was not another soul, er, I mean person, in sight, I guess I wouldn’t be finding out any time soon. I just kept walking, not really going anywhere in particular. As the sun came up, I found myself in a town called ‘Aubrey Landing’ at the very bottom of Mohave County. Well, it certainly didn’t look like the booming copper mining town I’d heard about in the past.
It was run-down, ill-kept, and practically lifeless.
I meandered into the nearest house, wondering if I could find any food, and if I did find food, would I be able to eat?
The house was empty. Cobwebs adorned each and every vacant corner, and a rat scurried along the wall behind the potbellied stove. This was my kind of place to live. If I had been alive, that is. An abandoned old place, well off the beaten path would have been the perfect hide-out for an outlaw on the run. But was I still an outlaw? Was I anything?
I put the thought out of my mind while I rummaged around in the pantry. I found a small sack of beans and a jar of tomatoes. I was surprised to find that I was able to pick those items up. I half expected my hands to uselessly pass through any object as if I was made out of smoke. I left the food on the dusty tabletop and made my way to the next room, just wanting to make sure the house was indeed empty.
The room was small. Dimly lit, containing a bed, a dresser, and a mirror. Purely by accident, I turned and looked at my reflection in the mirror.
I was a little surprised. I wore my best buckskin pants, the ones I had taken from the Indian brave I had killed, with a snowy white shirt under a dark blue woolen vest and my buffalo overcoat, I was dressed to kill, or maybe I should say I was dressed to be killed. My black felt had had a bullet hole in the brim and a thin coating of trail dust atop the crown. My dark, unruly hair and beard were in dire need of a trim, and I had dark circles around my hazel eyes. My skin was deathly pale; it was like looking at a ghost. Oh wait. I was looking at a ghost.
I kicked the mirror over, hearing it shatter with satisfaction. I left the room, slamming the door behind me just as hard as I could.

Special Valentine’s Day sale!

For a limited time the paperback edition of The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst, alias Maugrim Valletta is part of a special package deal on amazon.com: buy three books and get the fourth book for free (exclusions apply; specially marked books only)! It is regularly priced at $5.25 (shipping and tax not included) and the Kindle edition is $4.00. Also include your name, address and a check, money order, or cash (I cannot accept credit card orders at this time). If there is something special you’d like me to write in each book, please include it with the payment(Please print all names clearly!), otherwise I will write something original.

From one writer to another

Hello everyone!

I’ve been visiting some other blogs on wordpress.com and have noticed several were written from prospective writers. There are a few things I would like to share with you about the world of publishing I have discovered first-hand. Firstly, the ideal way of having your book published is that you’ll find a literary agent who will accept you and promote your book to major publishing houses: this is what happened to Stephenie Meyers (author of the Twilight series, and according to Wikipedia, she’d made over 30 million dollars off the Twilight franchise). But, unless you are one of the lucky few this will actually happen to, here’s what the rest of us found out: finding an agent that will accept you is tough. And most likely you’ll be turned down time and again. Some agents only take in published authors (meaning for those of us first-timers, we’re out of luck) and others only accept manuscripts that are a certain word count, (my 11,000 word books didn’t make the cut, as most books are around 25,000-50,000+ words).

In other words, I was extremely lucky to be selected by Tate Publishing. But about that: most would call them a vanity press, something similar to self-publishing, as you have to pay up front, (you’re not the one paid up front like you would be if your book was published by a major publishing company) And yes, I had to pay Tate Publishing ($4,000) for them to take on my book (no it was not a bribe: it was to pay for the marketing, and I only get the $4,000 back after I sell 1000 copies of my book (the books sold through Tate Publishing’s warehouse doesn’t count, either) and I’m getting 15% royalties (40% through sales directly from Tate Publishing’s warehouse).

But despite all that, I was ecstatic that someone thought my book had potential. Of course, if it hadn’t been for my parents, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the fee, as my bank account only housed half that amount. Also, I discovered that Facebook (or other social media) and blogging is a must. You have to build your ‘platform’. If no one knows about you or your book, you aren’t going to make many sales. And me, the most I’d ever done was e-mail, I was thrown head-first into the world of technologies. It was annoying, but a real eye-opener: two years ago all I thought I had to do was write a book and poof! it would get published and I’d be rich. But it doesn’t quite work that way.

And then, thanks to Facebook, I was contacted by a real author. Her name was P.n. Elrod. (I looked her up on Wikipedia and found out she’s a big-time author, having written the Vampire Files) and she told me about a way to get published and spend no out-of-pocket money! One word: e-publish. What? That’s what I thought. So I looked it up on amazon.com’s website (at the very bottom of the page there is a link that reads: Independently Publish with Us. I clicked on it. And now, I have my book available for all you Kindle-users out there, as well as a paper-back edition. And both are advertised on Amazon’s website. All for free. (Of course, for $25 your book will be advertised through major book stores too, though I opted out of that.) I get 70% royalties on books priced $9.99 or less, or 35% on anything over $10.00

And no, going this route probably won’t make you famous, but your name and your work is being exposed to an audience, no matter how small. After that, maybe an agent will at least consider your word, and maybe even give you a shot at the big times. As for me, thanks to Facebook, two e-book versions of my book has been sold, and I’ve got several orders for the paper-back version, via my local store, family members, and friends.

I am so glad P.n. Elrod wrote to me. I was (am) honored.

And I hope that this post will help at least one of you readers.    

Chapter One

Here is the first chapter of my book, so you have an idea what it is about and if you think you’ll like it! Enjoy!

The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst
Alias Maugrim Valletta

By Briana Vedsted

The cold snow bites my cheeks. I cannot feel anything from my waist down to my toes. And my hands are cold and stiff, despite me blowing on them. The night is black all around me and I cannot see anything, except for the bits of blowing snow that stings my eyes. My breath has started coming in gasps. Tears run down my face, warm for an instant, before freezing against my skin.
Matthew left me out here to die. He doesn’t care if I freeze to death or not. But he didn’t used to be so cruel. No; Matthew Bourdon was a kind man: he was tall, handsome, and in love with me.
I left everything I knew behind to be with him. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Margaret Grace Rose Hearst. I previously went by the alias Maugrim Valletta but now I just go by Maggie.
Have you ever heard of a girl running with a boy because she loved him? If you have, then I’ll bet you could understand that a poor girl from an orphanage might run away with a boy from a rich, upper-class family, right? But have you ever heard of a rich girl running away from her prosperous family to be with a poor boy?
I hadn’t, not until two years ago, anyway.
See, Margaret Grace was born to a man who had struck it rich with lodes of silver, gold, and copper. I was born in 1869. Ten years earlier my father, George Hearst, became rich after discovering silver. When I was eight years old, Daddy took control of the Homestead gold mine in South Dakota, expanding acreage and increasing profit.
My mother Phoebe, my brother William, and I lived a life of luxury. I never knew that Daddy’s life was often in danger. But his wealth had made him just as many enemies as friends. I didn’t know that until a few years ago. But as a child, I had been rather spoiled: I’d had fine clothes, an abundance of toys, a pet cat and racehorse, and elegant jewelry of my very own. I even had a maid to clean my room for me.
But later in my life, months before my twentieth birthday, I discovered that all the money in the world couldn’t buy happiness. I was often moody and depressed. Parties were no longer fun. Fine clothes and food gave me no joy. Neither books nor music or the art of embroidery could hold my attention. I was bored out of my mind. I started doing things I’d never done before. I became what my mother called a rebel.
Daddy thought it was time I got married. But the suitors he picked were snobs who cared not for my charm or pretty face. They did not love me. It seemed to me that all they wanted was to fall into Daddy’s good graces and get a share of his money. I rejected man after man. But one day, sitting in our elegant coach with my mother on the road through town, I caught a glimpse of a man I’d never seen before.
He had a shock of unruly black hair, and even from a distance, I could see the color of his emerald eyes. He’d just been knocked down by a shopkeeper and was getting to his feet, wiping blood from his lip and grinning impudently.
I was intrigued. “Edwin, stop the carriage.” I called out to the driver.
Mother protested, “Whatever could you need here? We’re already done shopping Margaret.”
“I want to know why that shopkeeper is beating that boy so savagely.”
Peering through her glasses at the brawling pair, Mother deduced, “It is none of our business.” And at her command, Edwin picked up the reigns and the horses started trotting again.
“If you won’t stop the carriage, then I will jump out and it will be your fault if I am injured in any way.” I threatened.
“Oh all right you foolish girl! Edwin, stop the carriage.”
Nose in the air, I gathered my skirts and exited the carriage just as soon as Edwin opened the door.
Mother’s note of caution followed me, “Stay away from them Margaret; they are ruffians.”
But I ignored her. I walked right up to the shopkeeper, who was rubbing his knuckles in a intimidating manner and glowering down at the dark-haired boy, who’s cheek was blooming with a large bruise and his cracked lips and nose bled freely down the front of his blouse.
“What right do you have for beating this boy so brutally?” I demanded of the barrel-chested man.
“He tried to make off with some goods that didn’t belong to him, Miss, so I was teaching the thief a lesson.” He answered unabashedly.
“Have you any money?” I asked the boy.
He shook his head.
“There! See, he is only a poor boy. Couldn’t you help him just a wee bit?”
“Aye, he is poor. But he’s a lazy louse: he’s old enough to be making an honest living. He’d just prefer to steal from hard-working shopkeepers like me.”
I looked curiously at the boy, and spotting the mischievous gleam in his eyes, I knew the storekeeper was right. I turned back to the shopkeeper, “Very well, I shall pay for whatever he wants.”
The man raised his eyebrows. “He kin of yours?”
“No.”
“Then why would you want to-”
“Do you want the goods paid for or not?”
“Well of course I want paid-”
“Then get on with it and tally up what the boy owes you: I am a busy woman and haven’t got all day to stand around.”
The shopkeeper jumped like he’d been shot from a cannon. “Yes ma’am! Right away!” he bustled back into his shop and I could hear the cash register noisily clicking and humming and he thrummed away at the keys.
The youth got to his feet, looking me up and down. He no longer wore his roguish grin. “Why do you want to help me?” I could hear curiosity and gratitude in his deep voice.
I shrugged and turned away, hoping to keep him from seeing the crimson blush that had flooded my cheeks. I didn’t really have an answer for him, at least not one I was willing to say aloud. Truth was: I’d fallen in love with him the moment I’d laid eyes on him. His life seemed so exciting and his face, despite the beating it had just received, was so beautiful that it almost didn’t seem to be fit for a boy.
But he didn’t seem to want an explanation. All he asked was, “Can I see you again?”
I heard my voice answering him, but I was not meaning to make the words. My body ceased to obey me. “Yes, meet me tonight behind the train station. I’ll be there at midnight.”
Finally he showed me his grin again, and at the sight of it, it was as if the sun had come back out and warmed me to the bone. “I’ll see you tonight.” And then he disappeared.
Numbly, I paid the shopkeeper and then hurried back to the waiting carriage. I didn’t know if I would really go to the train station tonight. A part of me really wanted to see that boy again but I was also nervous. My parents would never approve of such camaraderie…
Mother was impatiently waiting and I could see anger building in her eyes. “I understand charity, but there is no need to go flashing your wealth around. That whelp was nothing more than a common thief. I forbid you to ever do something so foolish again!”
My mind was made up: I would most certainly go see the boy tonight. Why, I’m a full grown woman! Mother cannot tell me who I cannot speak to! Her voice droned on in the background as I made my plans. Sneaking out would be easy enough, just as long as my brother William was already asleep. If not, he will undoubtedly run and tattle to Mother. Even though he is my senior by seven years, he acts so immature at times it isn’t a wonder why he is still a bachelor.
Anyway, as soon as we got home and I could escape Mother’s rants, I ran to my bedroom after securing a bundle of food and money. I didn’t know where the boy might go next, as he’d only recently drifted into town, but I wanted him to have adequate funds to last him for a spell.
I changed out of my lovely red satin gown and into a split-skirted riding dress and my tallest pair of boots. After awhile, my maid came and knocked at the door, but I yelled at her to go away. I lied and said that I felt ill and wouldn’t be down for supper.
Mother came later and ordered me to come down, and it took a good deal of lying to convince her that I truly felt sickly and she eventually left me alone.
When all was quiet on the other side of my bedroom door, I threw back the covers and got out of bed. I paced the length of my room for hours until the sun had set and I heard my parents bedroom door click shut. William soon went to his own room. I counted to a thousand, hopeful that had been enough time for them all to have fallen asleep. Then I held my breath and opened my door.