The Problem with Vampires (Part 2): the Best and Worst Vampires of all Time

Now that I’ve presumptuously declared the days of the terrifying vampire long gone, I

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

think it’s fair to ask, “Okay, smart guy. What are good vampire stories?” I’m glad you asked. A classic, truly scary vampire story must contain more than the threat of danger. It has to contain an invasion of the unknown. The vampire is something that the protagonists simply can’t get their minds around, because to do so promises madness. True, at some point the main characters have to accept what it is they’re up against, and I’d argue that this is the author’s (or director’s) greatest challenge: how to make mortal men and women willing to believe that the dead are hunting the living.

With that said, let’s talk vampires. I present to you a narrow, obviously subjective, and poorly researched history of the evolution of the vampire from chilling demon to dull sex symbol. This history may be wildly inaccurate, but I think it makes some valid points. It’s meant to be fun, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with differing opinions. Before we get stated, though, there is something I want to highlight. You’ll notice a Grand Canyon-sized omission in my list: Bella Lugosi isn’t on it. The reason for this is entirely due to my personal biases growing up. My first memories of Dracula on film were of Christopher Lee. When my parents introduced me to Bella Lugosi, the position was already being filled in my mind. I wanted nothing to do with Mr. Lugosi, because I was a Christopher Lee fan. The only time I would watch the original Dracula was when he was facing Abbot and Costello. So you can understand that, as unfair as it may be, I don’t place his iconic image on my list. Continue reading

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The Problem With Vampires (Part One of Two)

I was once a big fan of vampires. As a child growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s, I

Today's overindulgence of vampires has given me an undead hangover

Today’s overindulgence of vampires has given me an undead hangover

begged my parents to let me watch anything on TV that had a vampire in it. This included the well-known vampire movies, those starring Christopher Lee, and of course ‘Salem’s Lot. But this also included the odd and oft-times campy appearances of vampires. I’m talking lesser known movies like Vampire Circus (1972), the classic series Dark Shadows…heck, there was even a vampire story in an episode of BJ and the Bear.  This last example notwithstanding, these creatures embodied everything that made horror so, well, horrifying: they were irredeemably sinister, and operated outside of human understanding. Images of shadowy creatures with bright eyes and blood stained teeth lurking in the darkness kept me up many nights, wishing desperately for the sun to rise so I could get some sleep.

But something has happened over the years, and it’s not just that I’m getting older. Vampires aren’t what they used to be. Somehow vampires have transformed from this:

Some creepy vampires

Some creepy vampires

Into this:

Vampires....I guess?

Vampires….I guess?

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not in any way criticizing the writers or the fans of books, and the similarly themed movies and TV shows, such as those you see above. But let’s be honest…if it weren’t for the word “vampire” stamped across these, I would have been sure that I’d been misdirected to the Romance section by Amazon’s search engine. And of course, it’s not just books. Shows like True Blood and the Vampire Diaries, plus (of course) movies like Twilight, have turned the vampire into something that it shouldn’t be: boring. I am not passing judgment on the literary or entertainment qualities of any of these books or shows. I can’t, since I have never bothered to read them. And before anyone tosses out the “then how do you know they’re boring if you’ve never watched/read these” argument, I have a couple of things to back me up. First, you have to be either blind or incredibly insincere if you try to argue that vampires haven’t really changed over the past 20 years or so. Second, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. Vampires are everywhere now. At least, what passes for them these days. While I’m all for the creative treatment of just about anything, I’m just going to say what’s really on my mind: vampires can’t be heroes. They’re the living dead, they feed on blood, and they are unholy and incapable of love. There…it’s out.

Now, I love Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. Her works are examples of incredible creativity and powerful storytelling that demonstrates that there are no absolute rules in literature. However, I think Anne Rice did for vampires what Tolkien did for fantasy…she defined it so completely that most writers that have tried to emulate her (and these are legion) usually pale in comparison. But more significantly, I think what has happened since Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles publication is that the whole idea of a more “human” vampire has redefined the creature. Where once the vampire was defined by words such as “horrible,” “dark,” and “terrifying,” now it is “passionate,” erotic,” and “beautiful.” In my mind, in the world of horror, the vampire doesn’t need to be more human. The best horror is when the human struggles against inhumanity. Once upon a time, the vampire was the archetypal villain. We learned more about our protagonists as they struggled against the inconceivable horror of the vampire. Now, the vampire is simply a human who happens to be dead and has a substance abuse problem. One could argue that what has actually happened is that the vampire has been split into two different sub-genres…one classic, and one romantic or adventurous. If so, it makes no difference. The book shelves, various TV series, and movies have overwhelmed the image, and now I think the vampire has lost its edge. In short, it has become a sexual bore.

I’m sure there are plenty out there that disagree with me. I hope I haven’t offended anyone. I am hoping that I can generate some interesting discussions on this, though. What do you think? Is the vampire dead? Well, more dead? Or is this vampire genre more nuanced and fulfilling than I’ve portrayed?

I’ll continue this discussion a few days, when I publish my completely inaccurate, totally subjective history of the best and worst in vampire lore.

WEL

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An Invitation to War

Fog and Friction

"You want a SLURPEE? Oh...RETREAT. Okay"

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve been retweeting (wow, I just realized that my Spell Check recognizes “Twitter” and “retweeting” as words)  a number of tweets from @FogAndFriction. If you took a look at the name behind it, you’ll then have noticed that I actually use that handle. So what gives?

I made a deliberate decision when I first launched The Weathered Journal to keep it focused almost exclusively on writing and reading. The only deviations from this are for Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, and occasionally Christmas. But for the most part, the Journal was meant to showcase my fiction writing, and to connect with other readers and writers with similar interests. The last thing I would do is sandwich in a post on, say, Syria, between two posts about Fantasy Warfare and a book review of The Time Machine.

Now here’s the rub: because almost all of my available time outside of work is being consumed by my graduate school work (I’m putting off work on an assignment as I write this), I’ve found very little time to connect with readers, writers, or anyone else. Almost all of my writing is geared toward my master’s degree in military history. So how do I continue writing for readers when all I have time to write is history? The question sort of answers itself: post articles and research that are generated while I work on my papers.

So this has given birth to a new blog of mine: Fog and Friction. The research required for this program is extensive, and I’ve found that with a little tweaking, material that never makes it into my academic work can be turned into what I think are fascinating articles on military history. And it’s only a short walk from these kinds of articles to contemporary analysis on warfare, international relations, and (shudder) politics. In short, Fog and Friction will be the home to my nonfiction writing. I’m inviting you, if you’ve any interest in that sort of thing at all, to join me at this other blog, and to follow me on Twitter (@FogAndFriction). I can promise you that no matter the topics addressed there, you will find thoughtful, and more importantly, respectful discussions. I can’t predict everything that might show up there, but it’s a point of honor for me to eschew the partisan fear mongering so common with any blog that has a political flavor to it.

I hope to see you there!

One last thing: stick with me here at the Weathered Journal too. Fantasy and science fiction are my passions, and I will continue to update (albeit a bit more sporadically than I like).

WEL

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(WW)2: A #Scifi Serial About Earth’s Final War

 

(WW)2

(WW)2

I snapped back the charging handle of my M4 carbine with a rapid pull, locking the first 5.56 mm round into the firing chamber. The distinctive “lock and load” clatter reverberated across the hillside where my platoon had set up our ambush as the action was repeated by a hundred other men. I looked down to my radio operator, a sergeant from Des Moines, and told him to inform the Brigade Command Post that we were in position and ready to go hot.

He spat out a cheek-full of tobacco juice, then leaned his head toward his right shoulder and spoke into the mic fastened to his body armor.

As he gave me the thumbs up that the CP had acknowledged the message, I heard my platoon sergeant’s gravelly Southern voice. He was perched about three feet higher up the hillside than where I was, so his view of the kill zone was unobstructed.

“Craziest thing in the world, Cap’n Vance. Never thought I’d ever be settin’ up to fight outside of my own home town. Even crazier we’re gettin’ ready to throw down right outside the friggin’ base.”

I nodded, but chose not to answer. First Sergeant Mallory had seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia over the past fifteen years. I figured the last thing he wanted to hear was words of wisdom from a brand new captain who hadn’t yet deployed outside of the National Training Center. Still, I had an advantage over the battle-seasoned sergeant: I finally understood the threat that was getting ready to rip through our position.

Continue reading

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A brief respite, so I’m destroying the world

(WW)2

(WW)2

I have just under two precious weeks of break in between classes, and I’m determined to do some writing. In order to get the juices flowing, I’ve decided to destroy the planet. Yeah, I’m pretty excited. To this end, I’ve released the first installment of a new science fiction serial: (WW)2. Here’s the pitch:

A war unlike any humankind has ever faced now threatens the race with extinction. As the nations of Earth crumble in the wake of the invaders, isolated defenders prepare for a last stand.

I’m excited about running a serial story on my blog. I’ve got a high-level story arc mapped out, as well as a few immediate installments in the works. But aside from that, there’s room to grow in this story. The central characters are really interesting to me, particularly an unsavory CIA agent who belongs in prison more than anywhere else, but is thrust into the final lines of Earth’s defense.

As to the releases: first, I can only promise that they will be erratic. I hope to release a short (1-5 page) installment every few weeks. I can’t commit to anything because my classes are research and writing intensive, and they’re only getting more difficult. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Second, I plan on releasing the installments first on Wattpad, then on my blog. A month or two ago, I opened an account over at Wattpad. I’m not entirely sure why I did so, since I don’t have a whole lot of time to develop a new social media site. I think it was because the site is geared toward sharing writing and receiving feedback, so it was an opportunity to connect with new readers and to hear from other writers. So if you’re part of the Wattpad community, please look me up: WLinde. Otherwise, you can follow along right here. You can expect the first posting over the next few days, or you can check it out now right here: (WW)2.

Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it more than I can say.

WEL

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Ancient warfare inspiration

England2I thought I’d break my school-induced silence by sharing part of an amazing poem I read as part of my current military history class. The poem, translated from Old English, is called The Battle of Maldon. The poem (with, of course, a healthy amount of artistic license), tells of a 10th century battle between Viking invaders and the Anglo-Saxons near Essex. The poem is both grim and heroic, and I struggled with which verses to share. Please note that the translations are not mine. Enjoy!

 There against anger Byrhtnoth stood ready,
surrounded by warriors. He bade them with shields
build the battle-hedge, hold that troop
fast against foes. Then was the fight near,
glory in battle. The time had come
when fey men must fall there.
Clamor was raised there. Ravens circled,
eagles, eager for carrion. There was uproar on earth.

If you’d like to see more, the entire poem can be read here: The Battle of Maldon.

This study of military history has been a source of nonstop writing inspiration. I really can’t wait until I have enough time to make use of it.

WEL

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Memorial Day Thanks

NormandyThank you, to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our country, and to the families who lost them.

Although Memorial Day honors the fallen, I would like to also thank the men and women who have served or are still serving. God bless you.

WEL

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The Sins of Acheryn fantasy short story is free through Amazon today and tomorrow

The Sins of Acheryn is now available through Amazon for free today and tomorrow. These

The Sins of Acheryn

The Sins of Acheryn

are the last two days of my run through KDP Select, so if you like dark fantasy, check out this short story. Here’s the summary:

The Sins of Acheryn tells the tale of the cataclysmic fall of a vanished empire. As the legendary Kings of Acheryn moved to consume the nations of the ancient world, her pride and violence rose to the thrones of heaven. At the pinnacle of her power, three judgments would punish the greatest empire of a world now lost to myth and time. (Short Story. Approximately 4200 words).

Thank you everyone for your interest and support! And if you liked the story (or even if you hated it), I would greatly appreciate to hear about it, either here or via a review.

WEL

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Guest post from fantasy author CP Bialois on his upcoming novella!

I am excited to help introduce the next upcoming work of fantasy author CP Bialois, author of the acclaimed Sword and Flame books. This latest tale, the novella Stranger Passing, will be released 22 April and the cover you see below is a new reveal. It looks both awesome and intriguing. I’ve invited CP to pen the first-ever guest post here at the Weathered Journal. It’s a good one, too. In it, he gives you some insight into the writing craft, and some history of his series.

So without further delay, please enjoy CP’s post, and take a look at Stranger Passing when it comes out 22 April!

 

A Glimpse in to My Insanity

 by C.P. Bialois

Coming soon from author CP Bialois

Coming soon from author CP Bialois

Hello everyone! Before I get started I want to thank William for allowing me the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on my upcoming novella, Stranger Passing and to all of you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this.

Where do I start? I guess the best place is the methodology of my ideas and system. You see, when I get an idea I take some time to let it simmer. I can usually get a decent sized story or even a full sized novel out of a single idea. I just sit down and start writing and allow the characters to tell me what they experience. Sure, I have an idea about the climax and possible ending, but the real meat and potatoes of the story are always a mystery to me.

That was how the original Sword and the Flame book began. It was nothing more than an idea to have a group of people come together and go on an adventure for treasure that was protected by a dragon. Meant as a thirty page story, it quickly took on a life of its own and after nine months sat at five hundred typed pages or about a thousand once formatted. I loved the story and some of the subtle character developments that found their way into it. Due to its size, I decided it’d be best to cut it in half instead of one mammoth of a book. That easy a series was created, but what did I intend to do with it? Good question.

I love the epic fantasy genre and have read the Dragonlance books more times than I can count. The idea of having my own ideas in something similar did appeal to me, but I didn’t want to do something under the “just because” excuse. If I would write anything, it’d be something I enjoyed doing and hope my readers would as well. That’s when the idea for this story came to me. (On a side note, I’m not much of a conformist and I don’t “pick my spots” to do things. For better or worse, if I have an idea I do it and don’t look back until the dust settles.) I thought, “What would happen if a Halfling decided to become a warrior?”

In my stories, 90% of Halflings are thieves and the rest are traveling entertainers (dancers, bards, etc), with thievery being the expected and respected path for one to choose. So my thinking was what if one of them has a different outlook similar to the dreamers of yesteryear that used to wonder what it’d be like to fly or go into space. How would he/she choose such the life of a warrior and how would he be received?

To be honest, I didn’t do much with the idea until the June NaNoWriMo Summer Camp in 2012. My wife talked me into taking part (again) and I needed a story. Being that was the only idea I had at the time, Eron the Great became more than an idea. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to expand the world of Pyrain into what I called the Wilderness (Pyrain’s forested version of the Wild West). With new characters and ideas, I felt energized and dove into the project.

I planned on dividing the book into three equal parts which happened to be eight chapters each. As it turned out, I was forced to leave huge gaps of time in the middle book to fit it into the eight chapters. When NaNo was finished, I felt the project was a steaming pile of poo (Sorry for the graphic image) and set it off to the side to be reworked at a later time. That’s where the inspiration for this novella came into play.

The messages I received from readers about how much they loved the Sword and the Flame books and asking if there would be any more got me to thinking. Since it was originally meant as a standalone novel, aside from possibly a few short stories about the characters, I didn’t have a large scale novel planned out. Over time, a couple of ideas began to gnaw at me so I started to write the next novel and brought in additional characters and guess who one of them was? Yep, you guessed it. Eron.

As soon as I pulled him and his cohorts into the novel, I had the urge to release Eron’s book as a series of novellas with the third novel being the third part of his story. The idea became a more linear telling of the Sword and the Flame universe I liked. It helps me in that I don’t have to shoehorn stories into the universe out of order and I hope is something my readers enjoy.

I want to thank you all once more for joining me to hear my story and I look forward to seeing you when Eron’s journey begins in Stranger Passing on April 22. Thank you all for your time. Have a great one!

 

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The Past Versus the Future (plus a draft cover for my next short story!)

As I mentioned during a recent post, I’ve just started a graduate school program working toward a Masters in Military History. I’m about three weeks in, and I’m positive I made

(WW)2

(WW)2

the right choice. I love history, and military history in particular fascinates me. What exactly I wind up doing with it is something I’ll address at another time. But for now, the program is everything I could want it to be. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have intentions of blending this education with my pleasure writing.

Having said that, it is also true that this program is every bit of a time-hog as you’d expect. My personal writing time has been completely devoured as I attempt to stay on top of school work, and my pleasure reading has been set aside as well. I have mentally marked a couple of blog topics on some writing lessons from Grad School, but those too will have to simmer for a while.

Yet while my education takes center stage, I have not abandoned my speculative writing completely. While it is true that I haven’t penned anything new since February, I have been tweaking some short stories that I will be releasing periodically over the next couple of months. These will likely culminate in an anthology sometime this summer.

The first of these stories is another science fiction tale, and one that I loved writing. It’s titled (WW)2 , and it’s a fast-paced near-future conflict with an enemy that the nations of Earth never imagined fighting. As with a number of my short stories, I hope to expand it into a full length novel at some point (when time is a bit more plentiful). The picture you see is the first time I’ve shared the concept for the cover. I would love to hear your thoughts on it! And keep your eyes open for (WW)2 !

Happy writing!

WEL

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