A Picture or a Thousand Words?

Hey, Jim.

 

I wanted to ask you a rather strange one. I’ve been working on my book for a while and I use a lot of concept images when I write. I like them because they help me better describe my characters. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words?

Well I’ve been looking at a few of my recent works and thought that they might look good in the book itself. Do you think its a good idea to put these images in?

Thanks,
Nohri


 

Hi Nohri,

I actually do the exact same thing. I like creating visuals for my characters. That way I can really visualize what they are supposed to look like. So kudos on that.

As for putting them into the book itself…

Well I’ve heard two trains of thought on that one and unfortunately they conflict;

On one side, you have people saying that you absolutely shouldn’t do that. These are the same people who will tell you that adding too many visuals to your cover will take something away from the story because the reader will no longer be able to create their own visuals based on the writing. This argument has merit and in many cases, these people are absolutely correction.

That being said, on the other side you have the people who say that readers will form their own opinion and visuals regardless of what’s on the cover or if there are pictures in the pages. In fact many successful stories out there are indeed enhanced by good visuals. (See Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.)

Personally, I like to take the middle of the road, as usual. A few visuals aren’t a bad thing. Leave a lot to the reader’s imagination, but you don’t need to leave everything. I do also feel that the second crowd is correct that the reader will form their own vision regardless.

I for one absolutely love sharing my concept art and have included it in a couple of my stories… if the art is good enough, that is;

cropped-untitled-3.jpg

20170425_114339

So yeah, go ahead and throw some imagery in there, my advice is just not to overdo it. Don’t dictate to your reader what they should or should not be thinking, but feel free to give ‘hints.’

 

Hope this helps!

-Jim



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

The Double Standard of Art

 

I recently got into a discussion with someone over the rules of writing and grammar. He suggested that the rules of grammar and writing were too rigid and should be subject to change based majorly on what is/is not politically correct at the time.

While I agree that the rules can be very rigid and should be subject to change. Slang changes, words change meaning, period pieces really should be written in the vernacular of the time, and there are as many writing methodologies as there are words in any give language.

My issue comes with how/when the rules need to be changed and how much they should really be followed. As a writer, I don’t always follow the rules of grammar because when writing characters and having them speak with slang terms is often a nightmare to try to sort out. Thus I usually rely on my own personal style to fill in the blanks of how that is supposed to go. Not only that, there is no rule about how to write in a foreign language and then translate it should you want to, no rule about writing thought vs. speech, etc.

Thus in many cases the rules are more like guidelines and really should be references more than followed to the letter.

Now here’s where I don’t think the rules should be changed… they should not be changed to follow the passions/prejudices/social political issues of a time. What I mean by that is that a writer shouldn’t feel constrained to write within what is considered socially acceptable at the time. If you want to write something that may trigger someone, go for it. If you’re worried that someone will get offended or upset, that’s they’re problem, not yours.

Don’t get wrong, I don’t like the idea of someone writing something for the express purpose of pissing people off. That’s unprofessional and bad form, but if you’re trying to write something provocative and want people to think, I have no problem with that. As long as its not incitement, slander, or written for the express purpose of causing harm, I don’t have an issue with it.

I call bull! You’re constantly calling people out for what you consider bigotry and bad writing.

That is true, but have you ever seen me demand that they take down what they wrote? I call out the logic, hypocrisy, or negative stigma that comes with what they write. I do NOT report them or demand that any of it be taken down. They have a right to say what they say and they have a right to be heard. I have a right to disagree with what they say, voice my concern, and have an equal right to be heard. If someone doesn’t like what I have to say, they can unfollow me, block me, or call me out on it. I have no issue with it nor do I hold it against them. I welcome a little discourse and discussion because that’s how you get things done. The ONLY time I shut someone down is when the discussion turns into childish name-calling and insults. That is personally attacking someone and it is uncalled for and unprofessional.

Anyway back on topic. Why do people feel that writing needs to be censored and needs to cater to the passions, prejudices, and hurt feelings? History books omit certain triggering issues in classrooms, writers are hiring sensitivity editors, and even pieces like Mark Twain’s writing is being censored!

Why is this allowed to happen, when in most cases these are the same people who think that works of art like this should not be censored despite how offense it can be to christians:

Piss_Christ_by_Serrano_Andres_(1987)

They’re the same people admire Carroll Dunham’s work… despite how visually displeasing others (myself included) find it… They’re the same people who say that nudity in any medium, including movies shouldn’t be censored.

So why then is it okay to say that writing should cater to political correctness with literally no other art form does?

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Writing Music in Literature.

Hey, Jim.

 

I’m in the middle of writing a novel and I really want to convey the emotion of the scene I’m working on. I noticed you give out writing advice, so I wanted to ask you about this. I want to use songs the people know in my writing and give my characters reaction to the lyrics, but I’m worried about copyrights and what is/is not allowed. Is there a way I can pull this off without getting sued?

Thanks,
Meaghan


Meaghan,

Listen to me very carefully because I am deadly serious about this. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you be writing anything more than a brief quote (one line, TOPS!) into your novel from any copyrighted works, be it a song, a book, or any other written medium without written consent, a contract, or royalty agreement in place.

I can not stress this enough, don’t do it. Its a big no-no and it could land you in a lot of trouble. I personally don’t even quote full lines in my works. At most, I put in the artist’s name and song title. Then I’ll say something like;

“The couple came together as Linkin Park belted out the first line of Castle of Glass, their bodies twisted together as the song picked. When they were as one, unable to pull away from each other as the chorus played around them. Neither wanted the moment to end and as the last line was sung, their lips came together.”

 

You shouldn’t have much trouble conveying the emotions you want to by using this method. Other than that, you may need to choose a different song… I’d recommend writing your own or choosing something that’s in the public domain.

In any case, I hope this helps. My words of caution can’t really be overstated, for your own good I hope you heed them.

Readers, have you seen writing done this way? What advice would you give Meaghan? Let me know in the comments.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

The Love/Hate with Relationship Writing

There seems to be a trend that is pretty well-established in Hollywood, but unfortunately has also inked its way into literature and other various art forms as well, and its one I do not like nor do I think its effects are positive.

What do I mean by that? Well let’s think about this for a moment; Name one TV show in recent memory where a relationship between two characters sprouted, and it actually survived the series. Same thing with movies… While I’m sure there are some out there, none immediately come to mind.

I started noticing it little by little over time, but then it really came to a head when it came to my wife’s turn to pick a movie for us to see… and she chose La La Land…

Okay my own issues with this movie aside, it ended on a real downer with the couple splitting up and going their separate ways, each getting the fame they wanted, but neither necessarily the better for it.

This is not the only example either… in Jurassic Park, Dr.s Grant and Satler split up between movies despite all the build up and character development that hinted towards the two of them having kids one day… essentially making the first movie’s character development pointless.

Indiana Jones wouldn’t see a recurrent love interest until the forgettable fourth film. National Treasure saw our lead kicked out of his own home by the love interest. In How I Met Your Mother, ONE a single relationship survives the series giving the series a .00001% success rate (blame Ted). In one of my wife’s favorites, Grey’s Anatomy, not even the marriage between the two main characters survived and a couple characters are struggling through their second marriages… the show is still ongoing so we’ll see how this goes…

In comic form, Cyclops leaves his loving wife and young son, and BOTH go through a character assassination for Jean Grey to return. She later gets killed off and Cyclops winds up with the White Queen. Colossus is now gay so… sorry Kitty!

Worst of all, perhaps the most entertaining relationship in Marvel; Mockingbird and Hawkeye didn’t survive.

Really the list just keeps on rolling. I see it in written form too…

But Jim, in this day and age, marriages don’t last. The odds are actually against it.

Actually the latest statistics are that between 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. That likely places the number at 45%. It also doesn’t take into account marriages of convenience, people who marry, remarry, and remarry again, nor does it take into account the behavior of the Hollywood cesspool.

Well Jim, wouldn’t you say that’s part of the problem? Look at the role models!

Not really… first of all, anyone who views the Hollywood elites as role models needs a dose of reality. That place is a cesspool of corruption, deviancy, and KNOWN child sex trafficking. Anyone who has children that look up to Hollywood celebs really need to re-examine their parenting.

Also, that statement doesn’t hold true anyway. Celebs that choose to keep their relationships out of the public eye… usually by moving out of LA, but also through other means which sometimes include reducing their career-load and/or exposure, survive just fine.

Christopher Lee, one of my all-time heroes was married for 54 years until his death.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. have stepped back from the spotlight taking more… behind the scenes and voice acting roles and they’ve been married for 12 years.

Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn, two big names from the 80s and early 90s have been together for 34 years. You don’t see them in much anymore, but they do pop up from time to time.

Matt Damon has gone to impressive lengths to keep his family out of the spotlight and he’s been married for 12 years.

I get that these are the exception, not the rule, but they do further my point.

Anyway, yes I get it, we’re in the middle of a family crisis which I think writers and artists in multiple mediums are taking WAY too lightly. In many of these cases, we see these relationships end, and both parties go their separate ways. They don’t take into account the emotional, financial, and even psychological damage that can take place. It’s sort of glossed over in many cases.

That’s not even taking into account the effect it has on children, whom statistics and most mental health professionals show that children do better in stable, two-parent households.


This is really not good people. In my opinion, this has had a negative effect on almost ALL storytelling mediums in a very drastic and sad way. How you might ask? Consider… you watch a show or a movie and two characters get together that you really like. The couple is… for lack of a better term ADORABLE together. They get married and everything is going great. Given what’s been going on lately, are you going to get invested in that couple? Are you going to savor it?

Unlikely.

Given that the chances of said relationship surviving, especially if its early in the movie/book/series/etc, getting emotionally involved will just lead to disappointment later. The result? The great character development and immersion is lost on people who subconsciously put up walls to prevent the disappointment. Most of the time they aren’t even cognoscente of the fact that they’re doing it.

A few of my friends who have read my stories have said that they’re a little romance-heavy… well those are also friends who all to often turn out to be shocked when a relationship actually survives a movie series, TV series, or Book series.

That’s right, a strong successful relationship has been reduced to a PLOT TWIST!

Look I understand that not every relationship is meant to last, and you can argue that most people go through an average of 5 or 6 relationships before they find ‘the one,’ and you’d be right… but not marriages, live-in partners, or long term (4+ years) relationships!

So I’m not saying don’t write in breakups, don’t kill off the love interest, don’t not write about infidelity or divorce… what I am saying is that it might be refreshing to have successful relationships become a little more common… or at the very least try to take the damage done by parting ways more seriously instead of just glossing over it!

Anyway, readers what do you think? Am I being melodramatic or have you noticed something similar?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Let’s Get Down to the Details

Hey, Jim.

I was wondering if you could give me some writing tips. I have a blog on WordPress where I write stories and poems. I’m not the best when it comes to giving details in stories, so I was wondering if you could help me out with that. I would really appreciate it

MJ


 

Hi MJ,

Great question, I’d be happy to help. Believe it or not, you’re not alone in this venture. Authors have struggled with how to provide detail for the longest time, while keeping the story interesting. There’s a bit of a disconnect between how to keep a story interesting so that your reader stays engaged, but not overloading them on details. Many an otherwise good novel has died on the alter of TOO MUCH FREAKEN DETAIL!

There is also the idea that the reader should be free to draw their own conclusions on what a world looks like based on a limited amount of information provided. It’s a good philosophy, but it’s one that puts extra burden on the writer to determine how much detail is just the right amount. With an audience that has a notoriously shrinking attention span, getting this right is absolutely crucial.

The best way to combat this is by using metaphor and comparison. Let me give you an example…

Here’s a fairly generic description of a scene from a story I was working on a while back:

“The night was cold. It must have been easily less than thirty degrees. The wind blew hard against Mike’s back, causing him to go numb. Not helping matters was how dark it was. The street lamps couldn’t compensate for it, making it hard to see where he was going. The road was long, easily about two miles. He could easily tell that he had a long way to go.” 

Believe it or not, this is actually really good description. It tells you exactly what’s going on, what the weather is like and how our character feels… but it’s not very interesting, is it? It’s almost robotic in its description, like it’s not intended to be interesting in any way. Now imagine a full book being like that…

Those are the types of stories that tend to get used to prop up furniture later on instead of holding a prominent space on ANYONE’s shelf.

So obviously we’re not going to get much out of that, are we? That’s not going to hold anyone’s attention… so let’s try adding comparison and a little metaphorical writing to it…

“The night was so cold that Mike was certain an Eskimo would have felt right at home. The wind felt like a sharp knife against his skin, causing him to go numb as he walked. The fact that it was so dark that he could not see where he was going didn’t help. The night loomed over him like a black veil that was so thick that even the dim yellow glow of the street lamps could barely shine through it. His journey was not going to end any time soon. The road appeared to stretch on forever, as though the path disappeared into the heavens on the horizon.”

Now which story are you more likely to want to continue reading, the first or second one? Chances are the second one held your attention longer, why? Because it let your mind get an idea of how cold it was, it let you feel the character’s pain instead of just throwing information at you. Even if it is a little bit longer than the bare bones description, this will keep a reader engaged a lot easier.

But Jim, how much is too much? 

Well that’s struggle number 2. How much information is too much? Again, it’s in the details. Let’s take a look at a description of something from a story:

“The tapestry was blue, bright blue. John honestly couldn’t decide if it was royal blue or navy blue. There were several different shades of blue that fit into those two categories that it could have been either in the spectrum. It also had gold trim that was shiny and knitted together with little red lace. It must have been hand-sewn because the lace was so delicate, no machine could have done that. John started to wonder what that thread was made of.”

Oh God…

These are stories where you can easily skip over entire paragraphs without missing anything essential to the story and believe it or not, there are enough of these to fill the Library of Congress. So what could we honestly do away with here? Well unless the detailed description of the tapestry were somehow crucial to the story (which it rarely is), we can probably do away with most of that:

“The tapestry was blue, bright blue. John honestly couldn’t decide if it was royal blue or navy blue. There were several different shades of blue that fit into those two categories that it could have been either in the spectrum. It also had gold trim that was shiny and knitted together with little red lace. It must have been hand-sewn because the lace was so delicate, no machine could have done that. John started to wonder what that thread was made of.

Yeah, even that could be considered too much. Simply saying ‘blue tapestries adorned the walls’ would in most cases be sufficient

So MJ, I hope this helps. The use of metaphor and comparison writing will give the reader a lot more to think about than just a bland description.

Readers, what do you think? Do you have other advice you can offer MJ?

Let us know in the comments!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Beneath the Surface (Chapter 10)

X

 

Alex woke up in his mother’s bed. He felt disgusting and his joints were all sore like they hadn’t been moved in days. He was in despirate need of a shower. He sat up, ready to start the day, when he looked outside to see that it was completely dark. What time is it?

The clock next to his bed said 9pm. What the hell?

At that moment, his mind began to clear, “Tersa!”

Alex struggled to get out of bed. His knees ached as he tried to apply weight to them. He was unable to find his balance. Had he been drugged?

At that moment, two men in black and red robes burst through the door. Alex’s eyes went wide, “Who the hell are you?”

The leader, an older man with a gray beard, stepped forward, “I am Father Benson, and this is Father Paul.”

He eyed the two preists suspiciously, “You’re here from the Vatican?”

“Officially, no. We don’t even exist. We are part of an ancient order within the church. We are Papal Knights.”

“The Papal Knights were disbanded back during the 16th Century. They don’t exist anymore.” Alex fired back.

“As far as the public is concerned, that’s true.”

On their black robes, both of them had a small pendant on the collar. It was two sword, one red, one white, in the form of a cross. They each also had a sword at their side, for ceremonial purposes, no doubt.

Alex didn’t know their intentions, but didn’t trust them, “I suppose you two are the ones who have been following me around over the last few days?”

The two priests looked at each other for a moment before Father Benson spoke, “No.”

“You weren’t following me in black hodded cloaks?”

“No.”

“Then who was?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

Alex was growing even more suspicious, “What happened? Where is Tersa?”

“She’s safe.”

“I need more than that, what happened after the exorcism?”

“There was no exorcism. You failed. What were you thinking?”

“I beg your pardon?” Alex asked.

Father Benson pointed an accusing finger at him, “You are not ordained. You went to the church, they turned you down, so instead you go about trying a seat of your pants exorcism? Are you out of your mind?”

“Father Moran’s view was way off.” Alex shot back. “He wouldn’t even consult the bishop on it. She clearly was exhibiting all the symptons of a power possession. There is no way that she would have lasted long. Where is she?”

“Here.”

“Here? In my house?”

Father Benson nodded, “Yes, we took up residence here. Her parents agreed to leave her in our care while we sort this out.”

Alex shook his head, “Sort what out? This struck me as a possession, not unlike any other.”

“Oh but it is different.”

“How.”

“Because, Tersa isn’t the only one possessed.”

“What… then who, Sgt. McConnel?”

“No. Think harder.”

That’s when it hit Alex. The voices he’d been hearing, the hallucinations, the man in the black robes, the nightmares… “Me?”

Father Benson nodded, “That’s correct.”

“Well… that would explain a few things, but how…?”

Father Paul stepped forward, “The failed exorcism that you were a part of. That girl left something with you, didn’t she?”

“No. Nothing.”

“No?” Brother Paul asked. “Tell me, when did the nightmares and your smoking habit start? Almost immediately after, didn’t it?”

“Well… Come on, that’s just post traumatic stress disorder.”

Father Benson nodded, “Spoken like a true psychologist.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Is it?” Father Benson asked. “How long do you think you’ve been laying here?”

Alex shrugged, “I don’t know, 17 hours?”

“It’s been four days.”

“Four days?”

“Afraid so…”

Alex couldn’t believe it, “How… that’s not possible! I was unconscious for three days! What did you give me?”

“Nothing, we knocked you out. We didn’t drug you… and you weren’t unconscious the entire time either.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were up, walking around, speaking in tongues.”

Alex was barely able to process this information, “So why didn’t you exorcise… whatever it is?”

“We tried, twice. It will not leave. We were even able to identify it, but it still remains attached to your soul.”

“What are we dealing with?”

Father Paul lowered his eyes as he spoke, “Adramelech.”

Alex couldn’t believe it, but it made sense. That would explain why Rachel referred to him as such, “But… that demon…”

“Yes we know. It killed that poor girl in Rome.”

“But it was with her after the exorcism.”

“No.” Father Paul replied. “We believe that it did the damage to her that killed her during the exorcism. She died because of those injuries, but that doesn’t mean they were inflicted at that point. It would appear that your exorcism wasn’t a failure after all. You ripped the demon from that poor girl, but you didn’t successfully send it to Hell.”

“So it attached itself to me.”

Father Benson nodded, “Yes… I’m afraid so…”

Alex rubbed his forehead. Suddenly things started to fall into place. Unfortunately, it still left too much unanswered, “But why haven’t I ever lost control? I’ve had hallucinations, but up until now, the demon has never taken control of me.”

“That you know of.”

Alex stopped in his path, “Yes… that I know of.”

“For all you know, it could have taken you while you slept. Or perhaps it was lying in wait for the right moment to strike.”

“Why would it do that?”

“Who knows? Maybe it wanted you to bring it somewhere before trying to take over?”

That made Alex very suspicious, “Somewhere as in here?”

“Possibly.”

“But why?”

“No idea…”

Alex shook his head, more questions that didn’t have answers. He stood up and turned to the priests, “Can I see her?”

The two of them nodded as Father Benson spoke up, “She’s out on your back porch, but for your own safty, we’d ask that you not leave the property. We can’t guarantee your safty or the safry of those nearby if you do.”

“I’m surprised you’re not trying to force me to stay put.”

“We’re preists, not armed guards.”

Alex nodded as he turned to the door and stepped out of the bedroom. He proceeded past the priests down the hallway to the living room. Everything was as it had been before in the living room and the dining room.

His house was very similar in layout to the McConnel’s. Their dining room and slider to the back porch was in the same place, though his mother preferred a different setup of the furnature. Their table was off to the side, giving anyone in the living room an unobstructed view of the porch.

Alex made his way to the back slider when he saw Tersa standing out back, wrapped in a black blanket. He pulled the slider open carefully, trying not to disturb her, but his efforts were in vain. She jumped the moment that she heard the slider open.

A sign of relief exited her body when she saw that it was just Alex. He paused at the door when he saw her, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“You didn’t.” She responded. “I guess I’m just a little tightly wound at the moment.”

“Yeah, I can understand that.”

“Well it’s not every day you find out that you’re the reincarnated mistress of some ancient Aztec God.”

“Aztec?”

“Quetzalcoatl. He was the Aztec God of light. Some say he was one of their Sun Gods. I looked it up when I found out who Rachel worshipped.”

Alex scratched his head, “But I don’t get it, why you?”

“I was born at the right time.”

“Yeah you and how many millions of others?”

“I also lived nearby.”

“Still, there has to be a bit more to it than that. I mean why you, why wait three hundred years?”

Tersa shrugged. Alex saw the sad look on her face and began to worry, “There’s something you’re not telling me, isn’t there?”

“Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

Tersa nodded, “It could be nothing… odd coincidence.”

“What?”

“My mother’s maiden name, Proctor.”

Chills ran down Alex’s spine, “You’re kidding?”

“No, and my mother’s family has lived in this town for as far back as our history goes.”

“Now it makes sense.”

Tersa nodded, “Yeah… Rachel was too young to have children, but according to what I read, she had brothers and sisters, some of whom survived to adulthood.”

“So that would make you her great, great, great, great… great grand niece.”

“Her blood descendant.”

Alex sighed, “Well that does make sense.”

“So you believe?”

“Yeah, I believe you, why wouldn’t I?”

“That’s not what I meant.” Tersa replied. “I was asking if you believe.”

“Then my answer is still no.”

“How can someone who has seen a demonic possession and even now is dealing with one of his own, still not believe in God?”

“Did I ever say that I didn’t believe in God?”

Tersa’s racing mind stopped dead in its tracks. It’s true, he never did say that. Then what did he mean when he said that he wasn’t a believer? This made no sense to her, “Then what don’t you believe in?”

“I don’t believe he cares.” Alex replied. “I don’t believe that he’s infallible.”

“So… what you think he just created us for sport or some kind of entertainment?”

“Exactly.”

“That’s a pretty dismal outlook.”

“Yup.”

“You really have changed. The guy I used to know would never have said anything like that.”

“A lot can happen in six years.”

“I guess.”

Alex’s eyes narrowed, “You sound disappointed.”

“No, not at all.” Tersa insisted. “You may not be the charismatic person you were back then, but you were still the kind person who took a complete stranger in distress in off of the street. That’s the guy that I remember.”

“Well at there’s one person I didn’t disappoint.”

An annoyed look appeared on Tersa’s face, “You know, you put way too much stock in what happened in Rome. Small towns like this aren’t a good place to keep secrets.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that everyone here knows that something bad happened to you over in Rome, not everyone knows what, but we all know that you left the seminary because of something you saw. Rumors spread quickly about what it was…”

Alex rolled his eyes, “Oh great…”

“Alex, we were worried about you. You could have come home, but you were too ashamed.”

“I couldn’t save that girl. She had a family and life before all of this.”

“Yeah she did, but so did you and you still do. Look, from what you told me, you were a student. You shouldn’t have even been put in that situation. You did what you could.”

“It wasn’t enough.”

“No, but you gave it everything you could. It wasn’t for you to save that girl. She was doomed the moment that your teacher was killed.”

Alex couldn’t argue anymore, or was it that he didn’t want to? Instead he feigned a smile, “You sure know how to suck the wind out of an argument.”

“It’s easy when all you have is the truth.”

Alex nodded, “All right, well I’ll think about.”

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Beneath the Surface (Chapter 9)

IX

It was only 3 in the afternoon. Alex had some time to spare. He would have rather stayed with Tersa to dissuade his fears, but he knew that he needed some time alone. If he was ever to be of any help to her, he needed time to prepare himself.

At first, Alex headed home, but then he had a sudden urge to go somewhere else. He turned the car around and headed towards the center of town. He drove down Main Street and then turned into the cemetery on the outskirts.

After pulling onto the winding road of the cemetery, he stopped his car and got out. There was a gentle breeze that was off set by the warm October sun. It was comfortable enough weather that normally Alex would have been outdoors with some friends, but this was not the time for it.

As he closed the door, he noticed the cigarettes on the passenger’s seat and realized that he hadn’t had one that day. He grabbed the pack and looked at it for a moment. A sudden urge came over him to light up. He was about to open the pack when a feeling of disgust came over him. He threw the pack back on the seat and closed the door. Oh fuck it.

Alex walked slowly up the hill to the grave of his mother. The fresh soil had not yet had grass planted over it. His mother’s stone was in place with her name, Gloria Hendrickson, carved into the center. He felt like her caring eyes were looking at him at that very moment.

Alex wasn’t ready for what he was about to do and needed help, “Mom… I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m such a failure, I’m sorry that I haven’t been home in two years, and I’m sorry that you didn’t have a better son. I tried… you know I really tried, but after what happened in Rome, I just couldn’t bring myself to face you again.”

Tears filled his eyes as he spoke, “I’ve got something to do now… something big. If I fail… I don’t know what’s going to happen. You remember the girl, Tersa? You were friends with her mother. She’s in trouble now and I’ve been asked to do something I swore that I’d never do again. I don’t know how to handle this, Mom. I’m scared. I wish you were here right now. You always knew what to say to make even the worst situations not look that bad. You’d probably say something like ‘just do your best and let God handle everything else’ right?”

Alex closed his eyes as the tears began to flow, “I miss you… Whatever happens tonight… I hope you can forgive me.”

Alex bent over and kissed the top of the gravestone before turning and heading back to his car. He drove home and got to work preparing what he needed. He hoped that he still had everything from the old days.

After closing and locking the front door, Alex ran to his room to look for a specific book that he knew he’d need. He went through his bookshelf and opened all of his drawers, one by one. Come on, it has to be here. Please Mom, you can’t have thrown it out.

Alex opened the last drawer to his nightstand and found exactly what he was looking for. Inside was a small black book with golden letters embossed on the cover. The Roman Ritual… thank Goodness!

He’d had that book since he first entertained the idea of going into the seminary. It should have everything that he needed to perform the ritual. It was an older copy, but it should still work.

With the book in hand, Alex went out to the living room, flicked on the TV, and switched to the News. He wasn’t really watching it, he just wanted some background noise while he centered himself. Ordinarily, this would have been the time for prayer and reflection, but he no longer saw any value in either, not for himself.

After a few minutes, he drifted off to sleep. He wasn’t tired, but perhaps it was withdrawal from not smoking at all that day. He sucked in one last deep breath before losing consciousness.

Alex was immediately surrounded by darkness. His sleep was dreamless for hours until something appeared in the voice. It was a woman, clad only in a white nightshirt that was almost see-through. At first, he thought that it was Tersa.

She walked in a seductive manner towards him. He felt paralyzed and unable to back away. Her face revealed itself to him. It was Tersa, but at the same time, it wasn’t. He couldn’t explain it. Some part of her was in that face, but not all of it.

As she moved, the shirt disappeared, revealing pale skin that was barely any darker. She moved close enough to press her body against his and rest her head on his chest. When she finally spoke, her voice was little more than the subtle hiss of a snake, “Come to me…”

Alex couldn’t move and couldn’t draw enough breath to respond. She lifted her head off of his chest, “Take me…”

Her body rose against his so that she was able to kiss him. Alex couldn’t move, but he felt his body begin to light up against her touch. He was almost completely powerless.

He had to get away. He knew that this wasn’t right. When she began running her hands up his back, Alex focused his mind and pushed hard against his paralysis. Finally, he was able to break free, “Ugh, no!”

Alex opened his eyes and found himself back in reality. He breathed heavily as he looked at the TV. The bottom right hand corner said that it was almost 2:30am. Shit, they’ll wonder where I am!

After quickly changing his shirt, Alex quickly grabbed the book, ran outside, and got into his car. It was raining again and the wind was picking up. The weather beat down on his car as hard as it could as though it were trying to stop him from getting to Tersa.

Alex shook his head, “Throw as much of a tantrum as you want! You’re not stopping me!”

At that moment, a massive tree branch fell in front of his car, causing him to swerve off the road. His car came to a stop in a small muddy ditch. The tires spun as it tried to free itself.

Alex put the car in park and got out. As the wind blew by, he could detect the faint sound of whispering. He couldn’t quite make out the words as they appeared to be in a foreign language that he wasn’t familiar with.

After inspecting his tire, Alex realized that there was no way he could get it out of the ditch right now. He would need a tow, but he didn’t have time to wait for one. The clock on the dash read 2:45.  Not much time!

Having no other choice, he abandoned the car and began running with the Roman Ritual under his arm. It was raining heavily, but he did the best he could to keep the book safe. Thankfully, he was not too far away.

The rain stung Alex’s eyes as he finally arrived at the McConnel house. Sgt. McConnel met him at the door, “Alex, thank God you made it. Are you all right?”

A drenched Alex took a moment to catch his breath, “Yeah… fine… we need to get started.”

Alex tried to push past Sgt. McConnel, but the officer stopped him in his place. Alex looked at him oddly, “What is it?”

Sgt. McConnel shook his head, “Just so there are no surprises… Tersa has taken a turn. It looks like the demon has control now.”

“Then we have no time to waste, come on.”

Alex looked around as they stood outside of Tersa’s bedroom, “Where is your wife?”

“In our room. She’s been through enough.”

“Fine, are you ready?”

Sgt. McConnel nodded, “I don’t know what you need me to do, but I’m there for my little girl.”

“It’s not her that you’re going to be facing in there.”

Alex’s words sent a chill down Tersa’s father’s spine, “What do you need me to do?”

“Stay close, if she tries to harm herself, restrain her. Whatever you do, do not interfere in the ritual, if you feel like you can’t handle it then remove yourself. Don’t engage the creature, ignore it and don’t speak to it in any way.”

“Understood.”

Alex nodded, “All right, let’s go.”

Sgt. McConnel’s fingers curled around the door knob. He worked the door open slowly. On the other side, Alex could see Tersa handcuffed to both bedposts. Her knuckles were red and she was covered in sweat.

Alex saw the crucifix above her head and the holy water on the table near the door. The McConnels had done everything he’d asked. Now it was his turn.

Tersa, or whatever had control of her hissed, “So Adramelech, you came. I thought after you pushed me away earlier, you were going to stay away.”

Adramelech? What was she talking about? It doesn’t matter. Demons will do anything they can to throw you off. Ignore it.

Alex began by sprinkling Holy Water in the shape of a cross on Tersa, her father, and himself. Tersa winced in pain as though the water burned her. Oddly, Alex also felt pain, albeit not as badly. Again he chalked it up to the demon trying to play tricks on him and opened the Roman Ritual.

The first section was the Litany of the Saints. First came the invocation of the trinity, and then the invocation of the archangels and the saints. Finally, Alex asked for deliverance from evil.

Tersa laughed through the entire thing, “Your words are meaningless. You don’t even believe them! How can you possibly call on the powers of Heaven when you yourself don’t believe in their worth?”

She had a point and Alex knew it. His own lack of belief could spell doom for this attempt, and for Tersa, but it was the only chance he had to save her, so he once again ignored the demon’s words and continued, “Dwell not, O Lord, on our sins or those of our parents, nor take vengeance on us for them!”

He then continued on to recite the psalms. Tersa’s laughing became even higher pitched. She was clearly enjoying this, “Silly poems and meaningless words won’t save her this night!”

Alex shut out the demon’s relentless taunting and continued to pray. He had to do his best to remain stoic, but his patience was failing. An exorcism was supposed to be a test of wills and he was losing this fight.

The reading of John 1 didn’t help, nor did the blessing of the sick. The demon kept relentlessly taunting him. As he continued reading, it turned to Tersa’s father, “Look at this pretender, not a true defender. He can’t save your daughter! It fills me with laughter! Adramelech won’t harm me, he doesn’t even know who he is!”

That was all that Alex was going to tolerate. He doused her in more holy water. The demon fell back in pain and went silent as though showing some form of obedience.

Alex nodded and began the exorcism rite, “I cast you out, evil spirit from hell, you and all your foul companions. In nomine Criste. Begone from our daughter Tersa and stay far from this creature of God.”

The demon spat at him, “Never!”

Alex ignored her and continued in a louder voice, “For it is he that commands you, it is he who cast your being from the heights of the Heavens into the depths of Hell, he who once stilled the sea and the wind and the storm. Tremble in fear, Satan, you enemy of the belief, you foe of all things living, you bringer of death.”

The demon fought back, “I am not Satan! You use words without embracing their meaning! You fool!”

“Why, then, do you defy God, you must know that Christ brings your plans to ruin? Fear him, crucified as flesh, yet claimed victory over the powers of Hell.”

“Your words are meaningless!” The demon roared. “You invoke the name of someone you do not believe can help you. How dare you think to bring me down!”

“Begone, then, in Nomine Patri, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti! Give place to our lord Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, our God, forever and ever.”

Alex closed the book. The demon was panting as it stared him down. It was as though their eyes were waging their battle for them.

“What is your name demon?” Alex demanded.

“You’re too late.”

“What is your name?”

“You can’t save her, only a man of faith could!”

“Identify yourself, ancient serpent!”

“I was alone in the sky… I will return… or is that you?”

“In nomine Criste! Give me your name!”

The demon threw its head back and cried out, “I am Rachel Proctor, mistress of Quetzalcoatl! I was imprisoned, but I was released, and you my love, you have set me free!”

Alex’s eyes widened and he stepped back while Rachel let out a scream that no human vocal chords could possibly make. Chills rolled down his spine as he processed her words. Thunder and lightning outside her window added to horror that was unfolding in front of them.

Sgt. McConnel looked up confused, “Alex, what is she talking about?”

Rachel forced Tersa’s body to lie back, “Take me, oh lord, as is your right.”

Alex shook as he tried to continue, “D… depart then…”

“That is enough!”

Alex and Sgt. McConnel turned to see three men in black and red robes enter the room. The leader spoke up, “In Nomine Criste, this ends now! Lord God forgive us!”

Alex was about to say something when he felt a sudden and pain strike to the back of his head. His eyes blurred and he fell unconscious. The exorcism was over.

 

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim