Here's a sample from the first chapter of A Change In Crime, my Supernatural Suspense set in 1929. It's got monsters at odds with the Mafia on the streets of Depression-Era Fall River, Massachusetts.
It was just a piece of paper, dated November 27, 1929, but it felt heavier than an anvil. The red ink stamped across the carbon copy of his application to the United States Armed Forces looked greenish-black in the street light. Leo Riley thought it was a nice sickly color to match how useless he felt.
At least skipping dinner hadn’t done him in. The doctor who’d examined him declared him fifteen pounds underweight. There was no way he’d have packed that much on with a plate of Ma’s potatoes and cabbage. Military service was the only way to get them out of this town. He couldn’t afford medical training anywhere, not even with his grades. The Army was picky when there wasn’t a war on.
His feet traveled the street by rote, avoiding loose bricks and cracks in the pavement. That sidewalk would have tripped up anyone else trying to navigate the route at night while staring at a piece of paper. The November air was cool and dry, and there was a hint of smoke to it that was stronger than fireplaces or burning leaves. That ink-inspired greenish-black feeling dropped from his head to his gut. Leo slowed his steps and looked up.
The end of the street was full of smoke, too much smoke. Leo ran past the next two houses, stopping at the building next to his own. By then, he could see it was his house on fire. There was a car parked outside, with two men beside it. The brawniest one wore his suit like a soldier wore a uniform. Even with his back turned, Leo saw the revolver. The man held the gun like Ma held a wooden spoon. He’d never get past that guy.
“I had to set it on fire, Jimmy.” The big man wiped his gun with a handkerchief. “We can’t let the Boss think we did a half-assed job.”
“Jeez, Niccolo.” Jimmy fidgeted with the cap on a hip flask. “You couldn’t even do it, what else were we supposed to do? You think I don’t know how serious this is?”
“Yeah, that’s what I think. You’re making less on milk runs with that Jones Act malarkey. The Boss still thinks your mother is a mark against you. That kid missing is gonna be another one. You don’t want three strikes.”
Niccolo turned to peer at his reflection in the car window, then put the gun in a holster under his arm. Leo had a better view of Jimmy now; he had bronze skin and stood more like a man in an Arrow shirt advert than a Mafioso. He thought about trying to get by them to the house, but Jimmy would see him.
“Bianco’s going to have us all out hunting that kid down, even that irregular, Fallon.” Jimmy jerked his chin in the direction of the park. “Someone’ll take him for a ride.”
“Yeah.” Niccolo wiped the latch on the front gate with the hankie. “But look. I gotta scram. I wasn’t here. They’re iced except for what we already talked about. The fire’s cover for that. That kid Leo’s only part Irish. He stands out, red all over instead of just in the face if you know what I mean. Spitting image of his grandpa. Anyone sees him, the Boss’ll find out he wasn’t here. Best if you tell him yourself.”
Leo’s hand curled around his rejection slip, crumpling paper with a crackling sound. Niccolo turned in his direction, but only to step around the front of the car and walk across the street. Jimmy was looking right at him.
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Sometimes, I review the books I read. Here's one I read over the summer.
It's December and I read this book back in July. Well, book is sort of a misnomer here. It's actually a script for a stage production. The Cursed Child has gotten very mixed reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, in part because most frequent readers of prose have limited experience reading scripts.
I actually really liked this story. It made more sense to me than it might have if I wasn't a recovering performance artist. When I read stage plays, the scene direction and repetitions make sense in the context of my imagination as I visualize a live performance.
The one major flaw with this work is its title. While Harry Potter is a major character here, to my mind he's not the focus character. Harry himself has almost no direct impact on the events of this story. Instead, it's his youngest son, Albus Severus's, adventure.
That said, I love Albus and his best friend Scorpius as characters. They're believably written kids and their friendship feels real. Am I a bit disappointed in where the original book's characters ended up? In some ways yes. However, this makes them all the more human in my mind.
I'd love to see this live in the theater someday. More likely, I'll have to settle for a recording.
What are your thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Did you read it? Have you seen it performed or read aloud? What do you think about the title?
Time for an excerpt from Body Count, book two of Supernatural Vigilante Society.
“Get him!” I raise my voice for the first time tonight because there’s no way any of us will catch the bastard if I don’t. Unfortunately, that means the prey Scott, Esther and I are stalking gets spooked.
“Aoooo!” Scott can’t use his words right now because he’s a six foot tall furry monster with giant clawed paws. He swings and misses. Yeah, my big scary pal is a teenage werewolf.
“Waffletwat!” Esther’s right leg goes out from under her in a shower of green sparks. She’s a magician with no four-letter word filter. And apparently a klutz.
“Fine.” I burn blood to turn on some speed.
Right now you’re wondering “burn blood? Is he a pyromaniac? What the hell does he mean by that? Who is this guy, anyway?”
I’m Valentino Cripso, PI. And also just happen to be the newest vampire in Rhode Island. So yeah, I’m using blood to boost my speed because that’s one of the things we can do with it. And it’s one of two vampiric abilities I actually have the hang of. So, I’m using my powers to finish my case. You got a problem with that? That’s what I thought. Keep reading.
Dashing past Esther and Scott is the easiest part. Pouncing on the bastard isn’t hard either. But getting a grip, man, that is damn near impossible. Because he’s one slippery customer.
But that shouldn’t have surprised me. I knew what we were getting into when we took the job. I’m speedy enough to get around and corner him so that’s what I do. He looks up at me, blinks, and starts climbing up the smooth sealed cement wall. I see my chance and take it.
Thanks for reading! If this book sounds like fun, you can find Body Count on Amazon in both ebook and paperback, on Barnes and Noble in paperback, or you can request it at your local bookshop or library. Here's a universal link: https://books2read.com/BodyCount
Give to charity. Get gifts. Everybody wins (except two lousy diseases).
Today I want to tell you about a couple of things. They're a bit personal. I'm talking about cancer and Alzheimer's and how they affected my life.
Back when I was a wee little reader, most of my time was spent with my grandmother. This woman had a huge impact on me because if it wasn't for her I'd have been raised by wolves.
Grandma Estelle was a mercurial woman with warm hazel eyes and a sense of humor as sudden and endearing as the dawn. She'd burst into song at the drop of a hat, but often rewrote the lyrics into something more fun than the original and always with a story. She bought me my first Weird Al album.
No matter how awkward, weird, or clumsy I was (and sometimes it seemed I was practically extraterrestrial), Grandma Estelle loved me anyway. At one point, she was the only person who said that out loud for an entire year. I learned familial affection from her example when everybody else just assumed I knew it already. I didn't. She saved my life this way, and in too many more for me to count.
Over the years, Grandma Estelle lost pieces of herself. "That one just fell off and I forgot to pick it up," she'd say, when asked to tell a story from a few years back. Well no. She didn't really lose them. The snippets and shards vanishing from my beloved grandmother's psyche were stolen. By Alzheimer's. I swear, that disease squatted in shadowy corners, snatching up scraps every time her back was turned.
But Grandma Estelle's heart was too big for that blasted disease to grasp. She remained touchingly devoted to Grandpa Ray who crossed the Atlantic to meet her, until he passed away. She continued losing her memory but not her heart. My grandmother cared too much so she carried on for ten more years, a star lighting the sunset days of all her neighbors at her assisted living apartment complex.
Until the other thief struck her in the gut. I got a call from my sister and her husband. Grandma Estelle had colon cancer. If I could have sprouted wings and fly to her side, I would have. But a ticket on Southwest had to suffice because she was right all along. I'm just plain human.
She passed just days after my visit. At her funeral, the Rabbi told us to remember Grandma Estelle by remembering her light and letting ours shine. Shortly after that was when I started writing again.
I contributed to the above anthologies in her memory, with dedications in her name. Each is like a sampling of work from other authors like me, who have lost loved ones to either or both of these diseases.
They're called Stardust, Always and The Longest Night Watch. Proceeds from both the ebook and paperback versions go to Saint Jude's Research and The Alzheimer's Association, respectively. They make great gifts and do some good.
Thank you for reading. Let your own light shine, too.
I'm unleashing the Dragon because it's drafty in here.
This post is a bit more for writers than readers. It's about working with Dragon dictation software by Nuance. I haven't been at it for too long but here's my take.
First of all, it's not natural at first. I know the name says "naturally speaking: but remembering to give commands like open quotes, period, and new paragraph along with the story takes practice.
I've talked to more than a few authors who gave up on it after a trial period. It's not the easiest software to work with. The settings aren't intuitive. But I had a little help from a friend. Or rather, a friend's book.
Mary Crawford is a Contemporary Romance author I've known online for a few years now. She's been using Dragon for decades so she's an expert. And she wrote this book to help other authors learn how to use it.
I think I just might meet my writing goals for 2019 because of Mary and her Dragon advice.
It's your friendly neighborhood Paranormal Author reminding you that funny isn't just for looking. It's for listening, too.
I've got audiobooks out right now on Audible. They're the first four in the Providence Paranormal College series, narrated by P.J. Morgan, whose comedic timing is impeccable.
And as it turns out, you can get two free audiobooks when you sign up for a 30 day Audible trial membership. Once you've done that, all you need to do is type Providence Paranormal College (where nothing is normal) in the search bar and you get half my audible offerings for free.
You could give this membership and the free books as a gift to someone. But I won't blame you if you get one for yourself, too.
Some girls wander by mistake. Sometimes it happens when they're responsible grown women driving sensible hybrid vehicles, too.
I had an interesting weekend. Saturday at the Rhode Island Author Expo was a good time. Toward the end, I got hit with a pretty heinous vertigo attack and had to get a ride home. After a Sunday spent resting, I finally got the big blue Prius out of the parking lot.
Many thanks to author Angelina Singer and her family, who checked to see if I was okay, the staff at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet for assuring me that they wouldn't tow my car, and of course, Jim. He's not just an amazing cover designer, he's the greatest and best husband in the world.
Click the links above or the images below to see Angelina's books and Jim's artwork.
It's time for an excerpt today. If you like what you read, click the picture to find the book.
I barely know anything about vampires, even after I got turned into one. Yeah, I know. That makes me sound like a walking stereotype. At least it didn't happen in High School or before I quit my job at Cranston PD to hang out my own shingle as a PI. But now everything's different in new and special ways. In other words, it sucks.
Pizza and beer are right out of my diet plan. So are long walks on the beach at sunrise. I can't tell anyone I'm a vamp, so it gives me no extra cool factor with friends or game in the dating department, either. Which is bad enough anyway for a twenty-seven-year-old dude like me.
Sunday dinner with the folks isn’t the same as it used to be, either. And that’s where I am, in my parent's downstairs bathroom glaring at an empty mirror while I try to figure out a fourth excuse about why I'm not at Mass every Sunday morning. Forgive me, Father for I have been vamped. It's been a whole month since my last confession because I can't set foot inside Church. I used to be an altar boy, too.
“Tino?” Dad’s knocking at the door. I've got to answer him. He’s my father and we’re Italian Catholics. Honoring our parents is just what we do. It's the same way for my best friend, Maury even though he's Jewish.
“Yeah, okay.” I run the water and rinse my hands so Dad doesn't get grossed out. It's not like I need to because I don't actually use the john anymore. All the blood we drink goes to fuel spiffy vampiric powers I haven't learned yet.
It's been two years since I released A Change In Crime, so it's about time the cover and description got updated. To celebrate, the ebook is also on sale. Scroll down to see the new shinies!
Change comes with the strike of a match.
Leo Riley loses his whole family when mobsters burn his home to the ground. His only ally now is Oguina, a vengeful woman-turned-monster. If Leo walks her path, at least they're not alone.
As Leo plots his demise, Giacomo Bianco gazes into an abyss that stares back. His fall to madness is a one-way trip Leo aims to stop at all costs before Bianco orders another hit.
Monster and Mafioso fight for dominance over Fall River's streets. But powers change everything. Can Leo roll with the punches or will it all go up in flames?
Read this 2017 Dragon Award shortlisted book today!
I'm so excited! Book three in the Supernatural Vigilante Society is uploading today. When it's available on Amazon, I'll post on Facebook and to my mailing list. It's called Counting Costs. Have a look at the cover and description below.
There’s no fortune in favors owed.
After saving a king but losing a kingdom, Tino’s up to his fangs in debt. But he doesn’t owe money. A vampire’s word is his bond. When a rival, a witch, and a hunter all call in their markers at the same time, Tino’s suddenly got a metric ton promises to keep.
To keep his vows, Providence’s newest vampire must find missing memories, adopt an orphan, and cure a comatose fiance. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. The Mafia’s standing in his way at every turn. And the holes in his own recall are a total roadblock.
Meeting obligations is impossible if they’re forgotten. Can Tino pay his debts without cashing in his unlife?
I'm starting some fun posts to run at the end of the week. Here's the first, with a holiday theme.
Ah, Black Friday, the Capitalist's tantamount holiday. Some of its trappings lead to unexpected inspiration, like this:
Excuse me, sir?"
"Yes, what is it?"
"It's just that, uh, you've got, um something."
"Right there. And there. And--"
"Oh bother. Faeries in my beard? Again?"
"Yes, sir. I didn't want to say anything but, well, they're er--"
"The buggers are lighting up, aren't they?"
This is a writing prompt a friend posted from The Ugly Side of Tumblr on Facebook. I ran with it below the image.
Of course I bring the girl home. I’ve only got one last soft spot in my heart. This job already takes so much from me and I’m determined not to let it have my soul. And it goes well at first. The girl is smart, recognizes danger when she sees it and has good reflexes. And that’s no surprise. She survived long enough to try and hire me after all. But in a few weeks, I discover the unforeseen consequence of my kindness.
Because this girl I’ve adopted is far from the only abused kid trying to escape. And these small survivors are observant. They’re also desperate and bold enough to approach someone like me. Each of them look up, gaze into my soul with their wide, haunted eyes. And from a practical standpoint, I ought to refuse. But how can I?
I don’t. I can’t. I slay their demons, literally, and take them in. Every one.
Within a month, I’ve got three children to train. Within six, a dozen. And they don’t stop coming to me and asking the essential question. Unluckily, the world is a cruel place so I still have plenty of paying adult clients. The fees I charge them feed mouths and clothe bodies.
I can’t go on like this, though. Not in the small flat I’ve rented in the city. So I set up a shell corporation and buy a rambling old house in the middle of nowhere. The children live and train in that yard and sleep under that roof. They work a small garden and feed the cats in the barn.
I leave the first girl, the oldest, in charge when I’m out on a job. Her name is Erin, but she hates it. She follows instructions like lesson plans and recipes she finds on the internet. Erin makes a chore chart and includes my name on it along with the others. I come to understand that I love teaching. The kids all call me Uncle Hart. And every time I return with another orphaned kid, the place feels like home.
One night I’m stalking a drug kingpin. The bastard’s holed up, hiding behind his lieutenants. But I’ve had jobs like this before. More of them than I can count because the children need me. So of course, I dispatch the kingpin’s help easily.
The kingpin’s laughing as I enter the closet-sized space. And I pause. This isn’t typical. The kingpin’s unarmed but that laugh is nastier than the actions of the abusive parents I rescue my children from. The kingpin lifts his foot, revealing an object. Small. Metallic. Deadly.
The explosion knocks me out of the room, into a world of immeasurable pain. I see his dead eyes in his grinning face. Fear grips my heart. My children are losing me. And I lose consciousness.
Vague echoes plague my psyche. Bustling doctors, beeping machines, antiseptic. When I regain all my senses, I’m surrounded by my children. They bring me the rest of the way back from life’s edge. But I’ve lost an arm and half a leg. I can’t continue the jobs that support us. I’m certain we’ll starve. The oldest child, the first one I rescued, changes her name. Eris goes out in my place.
And every week, she brings a new child back with her to join the family.
There's no creative talent who fits the above better than Stan Lee. So many of my friends and peers keep saying he saved their lives. My own experience was different.
I'm getting personal in this post to talk about the effect his work had on me. It's not what I expected when I started writing about it.
Stan Lee's work didn't save my life. I grew up in a community where "girls can't read comics" so his stories didn't reach me until I was an adult and had fled that swamp. I was taught to use everything and everyone to my own advantage, look for the next best person or thing and grab it, no matter who might get hurt. And I was starting to get worse.
I'd just gotten power over the direction of my own life. Where I'm from, you either stand up by stepping on people or take whatever you can grab and then run. I knew nothing at all of responsibility. And then I picked up a Marvel comic.
Stan Lee didn't save my life. He saved the people who walked into it. His work showed me another way to be. That there's always a choice, that people who grew up surrounded by cruelty, pain, and loss can choose to do good instead of harm.
Cycles can be broken. Anyone can be a hero. Kindness is a form of strength. We're stronger together. Keep going, even if the way seems impossible.
Those ideas come naturally to so many people. I wasn't one of them until I got help. That wouldn't have happened without Stan Lee's worlds and characters opening my mind to empathy. Even a kid raised to be cruel and indifferent can choose a different path later in life.
What impact did Marvel Comics have for you?
So I haven't been getting out as much as I'd like. It makes me a little batty. If only that looked as cute as the picture above. But it doesn't so I've got to do something. And that thing is for me to blog more, Blogdor.
Expect to see more posts here, probably every two weeks but possibly weekly instead. I'm aiming for Monday to get something up. You could see all sorts of posts, like pictures at past events, book recommendations, or bits of lore I've researched for works in progress.
I'll also be updating the site with more information on the worlds in my books. Like any good ex-DJ and recovering performance artist, I take requests. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas of what you'd like to see here. I'm happy to talk about, where ideas come from (not the stork), what a typical writing day is like, et cetera.
D.R. Perry's books on Goodreads
Bearly Awake (Providence Paranormal College, #1)
ratings: 117 (avg rating 4.16)
Fangs for the Memories (Providence Paranormal College, #2)
ratings: 41 (avg rating 4.20)
Of Wolf and Peace (Providence Paranormal College, #3)
ratings: 28 (avg rating 4.18)
Dragon My Heart Around (Providence Paranormal College, #4)
ratings: 25 (avg rating 4.16)
A Change In Crime: A Supernatural Depression-Era Thriller (La Famiglia di Mostri, #1)
ratings: 15 (avg rating 4.27)