Autumn Rain – an original poem

I wanted to try writing poetry again. It’s never been something that’s come easy to me since I’m better with flowery words in longer prose, and I usually fail for words when it comes to painting something more abstract for a proper poem, or at least, something that resembles one. I found a TED Talk about poetry tonight though, and I followed its guidance for an idea. This is what I came up with, in memory of one of my best friends who lost her life too soon when we were teenagers.


Etching people of never past across wallpaper,
a childlike innocence rapt with brilliance —
you were a creator of life.

Your very presence brought sunshine into my bleak home;
my upstairs of cobwebs and stale, stagnant air.
You made me a creator of life, too.

I loved you like a lily loves the sun;
a flower sprung to life and realized as something beautiful.
And now I love you like Autumn rain.

Nostalgia and fragments of you haunt me.
The pages I salvaged from your heart’s permission,
they are your eternity.

As a creator of life,
you drift among faded lines of frozen expressions,
and I cherish the soul you left in that ink.

I’ve wilted without your sun,
and the smell of pencils have turned to must,
your legacy now etched into my lucid dreams.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from original writing: Baalthazar [M]

This excerpt is better suited for more mature readers, as well as those who don’t mind a bit of steamy interaction between two demons. A bit of mild adult content ahead.

This is taken from a much older story I started writing years and years ago. I found it again while going through my writing folder, and I missed the way I used to write for my spirit guides and alters when we explored the world we created to exist in together. I still, to this day, am not sure what or who Baalthazar really is. He’s the only one who hasn’t spoken up much or volunteered much at all about himself personally. Maybe one day he will be ready to open up. I suspect that if I continue with this story, he may just tell me more since he allowed me to see his vulnerability in this, but in the end, I know he’s only here because Daro is.


Baalthazar sat awkwardly beside the demon he had spent too much time searching for. He hadn’t really thought about what he would do once he found him, other than bring him back to Hell with him. The young demon was lonely as it was down there and spent a lot of time on his own in the little space he’d taken for himself. Daro had been the only one to ever pay him any mind, save for Lilith who would occasionally drop in to make sure he wasn’t royally screwing anything up. A demon obsessed with voodoo magick wasn’t one to be trifled with either, so she would usually do so at a safe distance. It wasn’t until Baalthazar had messed with the wrong demon that she’d finally come around to make sure he was alright. Daro hadn’t been there to protect him.

Lilith wouldn’t come with him, though. He tried to convince her that he knew nothing of the world above and she was better versed, even if she was a bit rusty on her basic human etiquette. Since Baalthazar had been the one to screw up, however, it was his own duty to fix it. The only way he knew how would be to leave for a little while and let things cool down — well, as much anything could cool down in Hell. He just knew that Asmodeus wasn’t one you wanted to piss off, and without his personal ‘guard dog’, as Lilith often called Daro, he was mostly defenseless. One could only control a powerful demon with voodoo magick caught unaware for so long.

“Baalthazar? You’ve grown silent.” Daro was staring at him patiently as their earlier conversation died off.

The young demon shook his head as if to be rid of unpleasant feelings and looked over to the fire that was still burning strong. It brought out the frightening orange hue in his eyes that made him unnerving to most. “I… was just thinking as I often tend to do, but not very often at the same time.” Baalthazar forgot to breathe when he felt Daro’s large hand covering his that had been sitting in his lap.

“You are troubled. I imagine it has to do with your parting from home?”

“Kind of — yes. With you gone I had no one there to… to really talk to, you know? I got bored so I did something stupid.” Baal bit his lip to try to stifle a giggle that escaped anyway. “It was worth it though. Very much worth it, indeed.”

“I see you have not been harmed in any way, but were you dealt punishment? Surely you are aware that demons are not to meddle within each other’s affairs or personal spaces without good reason.”

“I didn’t stay long enough to find out. Lilith told me I should leave, but she refused to come with me.” Baalthazar sighed and looked to the fire again as if longing for home. “So I wanted to look for you because I knew you were up here and I knew you would protect me like you always do.” A light blush lit up the young demon’s face and he unconsciously intertwined their fingers.

“It seems I am always picking up the pieces after one of your many disasters, little demon.” Daro smiled and lifted a hand to turn Baal’s face to meet his. His pink eyes were glowing, but not from the fire.

It caused that same uncomfortable feeling to rise within Baalthazar’s stomach he had been feeling when Daro was around, and he turned even redder. It was becoming harder and harder to hide the way he felt and he knew that Daro was most likely already aware of it more than he was. “I am sorry for that. I get quite bored, you see, because no one ever really bothers to, well, bother me so I end up having to make up my own kind of fun.”

“Which is devious at best, even for a demon, but you aren’t entirely demon, are you? I suppose that would be an apt excuse for your behavior.” Daro’s smile dropped from his face as he was nudged away.

“Please refrain from mentioning that out loud!” Baalthazar hugged himself and closed his eyes. “Why must you remind me of my fiend blood? I am a hybrid — a mistake that should not exist and everyone treats me as if I’m something dirty. Something disgusting and unworthy. Why do you have to remind me of that?!”

“It is not my desire to remind you of anything so horrible, little demon.” Daro reached out to draw Baalthazar close, which caught the young demon by surprise so much that he had to latch onto the toned body against him for support. “You are unique, this is true. You are not, however, a mistake nor are you a burden to Hell. As humans have their imperfections, so do demons. Many will not admit to their faults and rightfully so, as most demons are above wrong or right, but many are not willing to accept that which was not meant to initially exist.” Daro hummed a quiet laugh as Baalthazar’s claws gripped at his long black overcoat. “You exist because you are meant to exist. We all play a part in this strange world and in between, so why would you be any different, little demon? Perhaps their distaste of you is their unwillingness to accept a change that will force them to confront certain things within themselves they have never had a need for.”

“Like… affection?” Baalthazar’s breath came short as he rested the side of his face on Daro’s bare chest. The demon prince was darker skinned than most demons would appear, and it gave him a tribal yet exotic beauty that was difficult to ignore.

Daro chuckled and set a hand on Baalthazar’s head between his horns. “The very same affection that brought you into this world and your mother and father out of it.”

“Is that why I feel so disgusting?” Baal lifted his head to look up into Daro’s eyes, an expression of sadness betraying the prince’s true feelings staring back at him. Everything felt like it was happening at once and Baalthazar was afraid. “Every time I’m around you I feel like I’m going to be ill and it burns in a way that I can’t even describe.” It was happening again. As his hands rested against the taller demon’s bare chest, he couldn’t help but move his fingers along the tanned skin to feel its roughness. He knew very well that his embarrassing problem was very visible and that Daro must have noticed.

He had. A curious smile stole over Daro’s face the young demon had never seen before, one that was much darker than all the others that had been kind and warm. “I am aware of your struggle, little demon. You need not fight what is happening to you.”

“It’s not as if I can help it. I can’t just will it away whenever I want to feel normal again!” Baalthazar shifted to face Daro fully and climbed up to sit on his knees where it was more comfortable. “What did you do when it happened to you, Daro?”

“I had the pleasure of being in the company of a rather persuasive vampire.”

“No!” Baalthazar hissed. “That fiend comes nowhere near me!”

“I did not imply he would, little demon.” Daro laughed again. “I was merely recounting my experience.” He hugged Baalthazar to him again and ran his hand through the expanse of messy green hair. “I suspect yours will be equally enjoyable as mine was.”

“You’re making an awful lot of assumptions.” Baal pulled away and looked up at his superior. “I want nothing to do with this kind of madness.”

“You seem to be expressing the opposite sentiment. I assume you remain so close to me because of your affections.”

“That…” Baalthazar averted his gaze only for his head to be turned to look back into Daro’s eyes. “I look up to you and you are very admirable, Daro. Am I to blame?”

“There is no need to attach such negativity to these feelings.” Baalthazar closed his eyes as Daro ran his thumb across the young demon’s bottom lip. “Perhaps, if you will allow me…”

Baalthazar swallowed hard as he felt Daro’s body heat between them, his own mirroring just how much he truly did desire it. He made no further struggle as Daro brought their lips together. It was soft and innocent — just enough to test how the younger demon would react. When there was no rejection, Daro slid his hand beneath Baal’s jaw and coaxed his mouth open to find a way past the sharp teeth. The younger demon responded eagerly as a wave seemed to crash over him at once, his breath hot in the demon prince’s mouth as he slowly lost the battle he’d been fighting for too long. An embarrassing moan escaped him as he felt a clawed hand on his thigh, Daro’s hand creeping higher before squeezing as if to gain permission before going further.

Baalthazar took the moment to pull back, his face flushed darker than before as he was rendered breathless. “That was strange. Too strange. Maybe we should… We should stop this.”

Daro smiled in a way that was more inviting. “Come here, Baalthazar. I only wish to ease your pain.”

The younger demon rose up onto his knees and wrapped his arms around Daro, hugging the taller demon’s head against his chest. “You cannot possibly find me desirable.” Baalthazar breathed the words as claws wandered up his leg once more. His hips rocked at the sensation that sent shocks of pleasure pulsing into his desire.

Daro chuckled against his chest and slid his lips over to tease a nipple with his tongue. Another embarrassing moan escaped the younger demon. “Would you like me to prove that you are false, little demon?”

“I am afraid.” A shiver ran down Baal’s spine as claws just barely grazed the bulge in his tight jeans.

“There is no need to be.” Daro released the younger demon and leaned back on his hands, coaxing Baalthazar to join him.

Baal got onto his hands and knees and crawled over Daro, but not before observing him carefully. He stopped between Daro’s knees and found that the demon prince was just as aroused as he was. “You… you desire me?”

“Very much, little demon. The opinions of others are not my own, so you need not doubt me.” He welcomed Baalthazar into another kiss before resuming his tortures with his hand, this time sliding up to squeeze the bulge in the young demon’s pants. “Stop me if you become uncomfortable.” Daro whispered the words against Baalthazar’s lips as his fingers fumbled with the button on the younger demon’s jeans, and he pulled them open.

There was no resistance that time.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Book Review: Unchained (Blood Bond Saga #1-3)

Unchained (Blood Bond Saga #1-3)Unchained by Helen Hardt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Spoiler warning)
This book definitely has an interesting story, but the delivery fell short for me. Please note, this is just my personal opinion and in no way is an attempt to say anything bad about the author or her talents. This may have just not been her best book or series. Spoilers, so beware.

The first part begins with Dante, a vampire who had been imprisoned for many years. He is stumbling around the city looking for blood, and he ends up in a hospital to meet the woman who will ultimately possess him for the entirety of the book: Erin. They become absolutely obsessed with each other from first eye contact, and there is a deeper connection between them that hasn’t happened between a vampire and human for some time. That’s the basic premise from the start.

Now, beyond this, the story fell apart for me. There is a lot of filler — or so it felt like. Dante goes here. Then he leaves. Then Erin goes here, then here, then leaves, then goes here. Dante is constantly uptight and arrogant, and he’s suspicious over his grandfather for who knows what reason. By the end of the third part, I still have no idea what his problem with his grandfather was, or even why we are supposed to suspect… something from the man. Unless his reason for anger was not justified and it escaped me.

My other problem — I’ll just say this: abbreviations for words. Certain words were abbreviated that just made me stop and I groaned (vamp, being one). It took me away from the seriousness of the story. I honestly wasn’t a fan of the general writing or style, but that is most likely my problem and not the author’s. I only mention it as it was a big factor in my rating.

Now, I do get the back and forth, hot and cold between Dante and Erin after reading through the book in its entirety. But, I have to admit, it’s extremely frustrating in the way it’s written. It goes back to my point of the constant back and forth, person A goes here and then goes there, and then person B goes here, and then decides a minute later to change locations for some reason or another, usually an upset. I was getting whiplash from all the moving around. And then we get another mystery introduced that hit out of nowhere, about Erin having mysterious marks on her leg? What I don’t understand is if she’s supposedly bonded to someone else, how can she be bonded to Dante? I was under the impression the bond was pretty solid and existed between a fated human and their vampire, but I’m confused even now. Maybe it’s explored in later books.

The story has promise, but I wasn’t inclined to read any more of the series. I feel like the story was dragged on for the purpose of it being longer, at least, that’s what it felt like to me. The cliffhanger was just so epically huge and after reading the first three, nothing felt good about the ending. ‘Read more books to finish the story,’ basically. And I understand how a series works, but in book series I’ve read before, I at least felt some sort of completion at the end of each book. Something was wrapped up in some way, and while in the 3-in-1 version of this book we did get one ‘kind of’ answer to the story (the explanation for the blood bond was also confusing and I felt it could have been explained or worked out better), I’m just so… underwhelmed? I’m not sure. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. If nothing else, I felt bad for the grandfather because he seems to be getting a lot of flack for just wanting to be helpful or keep Dante safe. But Dante? My goodness man, just say something. I understand why you might be stuck in a teenager’s mindset, but speak!

I don’t like writing negative reviews, and this definitely isn’t a bad review per se, but I personally did not like how the book was written or the pacing. I did enjoy what story there was to enjoy to a point, but I wish the author had at least moved things along a bit better and left out the extremely energetic characters’ traveling. If the ending had been more fulfilling in some way and not as confusing, I’d probably have given the story more of a chance. But maybe serials just aren’t my thing.

As always, kudos to the author for writing a story and getting it out there. I’m sure Helen has other wonderful books, and I’m sure many will enjoy this one where I did not.

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Book Review: Hunting Annabelle

Hunting AnnabelleHunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted to expand my reading interests as well as to discover new authors. I was extremely happy I gave this author a chance.

Hunting Annabelle is about a young man named Sean who has a pretty gruesome past, as well as severe mental illness. It’s set back in the 80s in Texas, where he lives with his mother who is a respected doctor. Sean is an avid drawer and people-watcher, and so far he’s managed to stay out of trouble. He hasn’t hurt anyone and he does his best to keep in line, but everything falls apart when he meets Annabelle.

Oh, Annabelle.

But I won’t get into spoilers. The story begins with Sean meeting Annabelle at a popular amusement park, and he hangs out with her and ends up drawing her picture. He’s immediately taken away by her and he falls for her pretty quickly, and she seems to be an interesting and quirky character herself. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Annabelle and we don’t get answers until the end, which is definitely worth waiting for.

The book started to hang a bit near the middle, but the steps Sean takes to find Annabelle after she’s been supposedly kidnapped are necessary to the story. But that’s not to say it becomes uninteresting. We learn so much about Sean and how he tries so hard to fight down the urge to harm other people, and he does fail more than once. He’s an interesting and well thought out character, and I found myself loving him even with his horrible imperfections. I love characters who have quirks, darker moments, and flaws. It makes them feel real — human.

The mystery of the entire book continues to the end where you’re still guessing on what could really be going on. We do get clear answers, and maybe, just maybe the reader will suspect all the wrong people. You most certainly will be surprised, at least I was. I had a very strong emotional reaction to the scenes leading up to the end, and the ending itself made my sick little heart scream with joy.

If you enjoy dark and gritty, even disturbing, romance, then you’ll love this. Wendy has hit the mark with her debut novel, and she’s an excellent writer and storyteller. I will definitely be reading more books from her!

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Book Review: The Little Snake

The Little SnakeThe Little Snake by A.L. Kennedy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure where to start or even how to review such an amazing story, but I can try. This is not normally a book I would have picked up, but I wanted to take a chance on something different.

In this very poetic fairytale-like story, we follow with both Mary and Lanmo the snake. Mary’s city seems to be crumbling around her as she gets older, and humans and technology are doing themselves in. Meanwhile, Lanmo, a very magical and special snake, who no human is ever to see unless it’s their time, becomes interested in Mary as a child. They become extremely close friends, and Mary teaches Lanmo, whether or not he realizes it, about what it means to love. This isn’t something Lanmo was ever meant to do.

This story pulled at my heart and the ending left me nearly in tears. With the interesting and unique way Kennedy weaves poetic words throughout the story, she chooses to not reveal a definite end with them. But it’s for the better, and I think when the reader comes to the end, they will know what truly happened.

I haven’t read something so amazing and quirky in a while, and it was refreshing. Kennedy’s love for strangely specific wording and pleasant-to-read run-ons give this book a rhythm solely its own. I’ve already started recommending it to friends, and I am going to definitely recommend it to anyone, of any age who can read it, for something more meaningful. And there is a lot of emotion, meaning, and subtle philosophy about humanity in this book, or so it felt to me.

In short, do yourself a favor and read this!

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Dog Days – original writing


The mug of catnip tea was trembling in his hands, and his black fur bristled beneath his gray sweater as the heavy-voiced pitbull delivered the news. It was as if the TV set was underwater, and everything around him was closing in fast.

A gentle hand on his shoulder ceased the impending doom if only for a moment. He leaned against a broad wolf’s shoulder, his boyfriend’s gray fur ticking his pink nose. “Sorry, Striker.”

“Hey, you’re fine, buddy. Just drink your tea.” The wolf’s soft tone was much more welcome than the sharp delivery invading the dark living room, and Striker found himself thankful for the sudden downpour outside. “I’ll keep you safe. Always. You know that, right, Sam?”

“Thank you. Just… give me a minute. I’m sorry.” The cat sipped his steaming tea and waited for the blanket of calm to wash over him. It was hard to come across catnip in that day and age, but he was thankful to know a few who grew the stuff. It was getting harder and harder to find reputable sources for it anyway, what with the police dogs’ superior sense of smell. They could sense a few plants of catnip from a mile away. Bloodhounds were like that.

“Hey, why don’t we change the channel? I think it’s time for your favorite show, anyway.” Striker fumbled with the chunky remote in his claws before switching to something more cheerful, and a beautiful white cat appeared on the screen. She smiled with a glow that most did not, and she planted herself on a stool where she crossed her legs, her white sundress with palm leaves falling gracefully just above her knees. She pulled out a book and began to read.

It was a rainy night in June when Tabitha fell into her dream. She rarely tripped or stumbled, or waltzed gracefully into it, but released herself into it fully, granting it ownership of her perceived reality. Sometimes she would fall flat or drift gently onto a chaise lounge, and at other times she would be welcomed by semblances of creatures she knew with blank faces, all smiling with whiskers upturned.

Adventurous opossums and bats and platypi greeted her with kinship, and the Dodo once had her over for supper. She’d danced with butterflies and spoken to young foxes, and stargazed with raccoons. She’d seen the future and traipsed through the past, Bastet greeting her with motherly grace. Through all of this, Tabitha knew peace and love, home and comfort, and it was her kind of unreality. It was her homesick and her tears, and her fond memories yet to come.’

Samhain sighed as the catnip calmed his aching muscles and tickled his brain. He’d spent the better part of the day tense and with worry, the sight of Catty on screen bringing him a semblance of home at last. The news had been filled with nothing but bad things, and politics had become more and more unbearable to behold. It was bad enough that he was in hiding with Striker, and Striker knew as well the risks they had to take.

Love did not come easy in those times, and especially not for the others.

Samhain was othered, and Striker was not. It was pure fate that they’d managed to find comfort in each other, and as the bulldog-majority government created more and more restrictions for felines in society, Striker stood by Samhain through all of it. He was as loyal a companion as canines were thought to be. As they were to their own kind and only their kind.

Tears threatened to spill over Samhain’s golden eyes as a poodle stood from the crowd on television. She barked loudly toward the stage and threw a rotten fish that landed directly on the book in Catty’s hands after slapping her in the face. The short-haired cat paid it no mind and brushed it off, and continued reading as if it hadn’t happened at all. The poodle was ushered out of the room, and the cats in the audience began to murmur and growl in displeasure.

Striker grabbed for the remote again. “Hey, we don’t have to keep watching this.”

“No, it’s fine.” Samhain’s claws drifted up to turn the wolf’s face to meet his, and he kissed him softly. “It’s far better than anything else on TV right now, and Catty is so wonderful. Her peace of mind is contagious.”

Striker’s face twisted in sadness as he watched his partner stare glassy-eyed at the TV, the catnip claiming his conscious thoughts. For a moment a great emotion welled up within him, and his heart beat faster behind his red flannel. He turned Samhain to look him in the eyes, his equally as golden. “Sam, are you okay?”

“Of course.” The cat chuckled humorlessly. “I have to be, don’t I?”

The rain outside became a torrent and thunder resounded. Shortly after, the electricity in their small suburban home flickered. Striker paid it no mind as his ears drooped. “No, you don’t have to be. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.”

Samhain paused and inhaled deeply. His catnip tea was nearly gone. He turned his head to stare at the TV again, Catty having once more continued with the poetic journey of Tabitha the Persian cat. He then drifted back to Striker, who hadn’t stopped observing him. His heart sunk. “I’m scared. There isn’t a way in this world for me, nor for anyone of feline descent. My heart flutters and my fur prickles, and my tail curls between my legs. My breaths come short and my purr is a deception to my truth, and every day I look into your eyes, as beautiful as they are, and I question you.”

“You question me?”

“But then I realize you are not like them. I realize you are one of the lucky ones.” Samhain smiled and pecked Striker’s black nose before returning to Catty.

As the rain poured outside and the thunder boomed, the two became one with the sofa and basked in the sole light of the TV set flickering in the room, and they knew they were with each other and that they were where they needed to be, and that they would be safe.

They had to be.

© 2019 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from Untitled original writing

I haven’t thought of a better title for this story yet, as it was converted from a fanfiction. I made the events and characters my own and did a lot of renaming and lots of rewriting. I just had so much fun with the story and it had so much more potential, so I made it my own. The plot was already drastically different than the source, so now it’s just a matter of finishing it.

I’m also really excited because this is the first novel I’ve written with a transman as a main character. Draven is the transman in the story who is a thirty-nine-year-old writer, and he is the guardian of an eighteen-year-old punk of a boy, Lucien, who lost his parents in a car crash a year previous to the story’s events. (I mention ages so readers know all characters are eighteen or older in the context being given, although there is no mature content in this excerpt). Also to note, the picture was chosen because it best reflects Draven’s style and the feel and look of his house.

Here is a scene from the most recent chapter I wrote for it, and I’d safely rate it PG-13 mostly for language, so it’s appropriate for most audiences:

 


Lucien’s fingers slid along the smooth surface of the desk, Draven standing nearby to watch him. He looked up at the man as he remembered his first exploration of the room. There had been a drawer that was locked, and although he’d had other plans with Draven when they’d arrived home from the awkward night at the bar, his curiosities were strong. They’d grown so close in such a short time, so surely the man would divulge his secrets. “Hey, what’s in your locked drawer?”

“How did you know I’d locked one of my drawers?” Draven arched a questioning brow. Lucien chuckled.

“Remember when I snuck in here and caught you doing fun things at your computer?” Draven’s face became a darker shade of red than what it had been from the inebriation. “I, uh…” That old, creeping feeling of doing something wrong and getting caught still loomed over Lucien’s head despite he and Draven’s relationship. He licked his lips nervously. “I might have been going through your stuff.”

“Why would you go against my wishes?” Draven approached the desk, but paused as he realized how stupid it was to say. Lucien had already done much worse than go through his desk.

“I was depressed and in a bad mood. I needed a distraction because mom and dad… a year ago.” Lucien paused and his thoughts became dark. He became rapt in the surface of the desk, tracing the light as it bent across the slick wooden edges. He could hear the muffled cries and the sound of the siren, and he was vaguely aware of the phantom pain in his lower back that bothered him whenever everything came flooding back.

“Lucien?” Draven set his hands on the teenager’s shoulders and shook him gently to bring him back to reality. “Hey, Lucien? Are you with me?”

“What?” Lucien blinked hard a few times before he was able to tear himself away from the grisly memory. It was happening less and less, but any time he was careless enough to mention it, the PTSD symptoms would come crashing over him like a tidal wave. He should have continued his visits with his therapist, but all it had ever done for him was upset him even more. Exposure therapy just pissed him off. He focused on Draven fully. “Sorry. I don’t really feel so good.”

“Perhaps an early night would be best for the both of us?” Draven smiled and petted the teenager’s hair before Lucien knocked his hand away.

“I won’t be able to sleep. I need a distraction.” He returned his focus to the present and glanced down at the desk drawers, his hand drifting over the locked one. “Maybe I’ll feel better if you show me what’s in there.”

“Lucien…” Draven sighed and they stood in silence, just staring into each other’s eyes as if in an unspoken argument. After some time, Draven relented and opened the middle drawer of the desk, fishing through it until he produced a small brass key. “If you’d been more thorough, you’d have found it.”

“I mean, I would have. You just got home too early. Not that I’m complaining.” The teenager smiled slyly as he moved aside. Draven unlocked the drawer with hesitation and paused before pulling it out to reveal a large stack of manuscripts. Lucien’s heart dropped as disappointment washed over him. He’d hoped for something more scandalous or secret, but it had only been some old stories. “That’s it? Why are those locked up?”

“Their… contents aren’t something I’d want others to find.” Draven fell into his office chair and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m not sure if you’ve read any of my books, but they’re more respectable than those.”

“What are they about?” Lucien reached into the drawer and pulled out the top stack of papers that were held together with a large clip. The title page didn’t reveal much, other than an over-the-top unoriginal title that screamed dramatic. He scanned through the first few pages, and then flipped the rest as if they were a flip book, pausing near the middle when a particular scene caught his eye. Lucien’s breath caught in his throat as he remembered the small paper of notes he’d found that day, and it all made sense then.

Draven glanced up at him to see that the teenager was fixated. “I was never comfortable with myself enough to be with many people, so I lived vicariously through my writing.”

“This is hot, though.” Lucien blurted the words as he felt something stir deep in his stomach. The erotica on the pages in his hands was nothing short of flowery smut — the subjects engaged in things that made even Lucien blush. He dropped the manuscript onto the desk and picked up the second, just as transfixed on it as he was the first while skimming through. “And it’s amazing. Why do you care what people think?”

“People know my name, Lucien. If I were to publish something like that, I’d lose all respect.”

“Then those people would be the assholes you ignore. You wouldn’t need them anyway.” The teenager grabbed the third, smiling wide. Draven sighed in frustration.

“You’re young and you aren’t a writer. You wouldn’t understand the intricacies of the publishing world — or the etiquette.”

“So? It’s just words.” Lucien dropped the third manuscript, intent on taking them back to his bedroom to read further. “Aren’t there authors out there who use different names? What if you just changed your name for those books? Can you do that?”

“A pen name?” Draven sunk back into his chair and stared at the stack on the desk, honestly pondering the reality of that situation. It lasted all but a few minutes before Draven shook it out of his mind. “No. I can’t. It’s too embarrassing.”

“More embarrassing than what I do to you?” Lucien flashed Draven his best bedroom eyes and straddled the man’s legs over the chair.

“What you and I do is private. Those wouldn’t be.” The man’s eyes fell shut when Lucien sunk down into his lap and kissed him. He rested his arms around the teenager’s waist and gave no resistance.

“But it would be awesome to let other people see it. Even if they didn’t know it was you.” Lucien’s lips drifted over the Draven’s neck and he nipped at the skin. “Wouldn’t that be hot?”

“I’m not fond of exhibitionism.” Draven hummed with pleasure as Lucien left a bruise on his neck. The teenager rocked his hips forward to gain another beautiful sound from his guardian, and returned his focus to the man’s red eyes.

“Seemed to be cool with it earlier after we left the bar.”

“I wasn’t in my right mind.” Draven’s hands crept higher and up the teenager’s shirt to feel his thin form. “You’re not eating, Lucien.”

“I don’t get hungry.” Lucien’s voice held a tinge of irritation. Although Draven had been all for touching him earlier, he seemed to be deflecting now.

“You’re much too thin.” Draven willed away his desire and leaned back to look into his ward’s eyes. “You’re not doing well. This mess you’ve stumbled into with Grace and I can’t be helping.”

“I’ll tell Grace eventually, okay?” Lucien huffed. “Can we not do this right now?”

“You need to figure this out before it does any more damage to you than it already has. We both know you’re still dealing with other things that aren’t getting better. This is the last thing you need.”

“I’ll be fine!” Lucien slid out of Draven’s lap and grabbed the manuscripts from the desk. “Maybe if you quit this hot and cold shit it’d be easier.”

“I can’t continue this while Grace is oblivious to it. You must realize that this isn’t fair to either of us, Lucien. You can’t just run away from things that aren’t pleasant in life. You have to confront them or they’ll never get better.”

“You should probably stop drinking. You always get weird when you do.”

“Lucien, you must tell Grace.” Draven stood from his chair and approached the office door. “I can see how much she cares for you. Address it however you like, but stop playing these games. You once told me you’d like me to treat you as the grown man you are. Act like it.”

Lucien’s lips parted as if he were ready to argue, but fell silent as he was left alone in the office. Draven had never gotten so angry before — had never spoken to Lucien like he had earlier in the evening. It caused the teenager’s mind to go blank, and he was faced with a side of his guardian that he’d once found amusing in thought, but was hating every bit of now that it was a reality. He’d asked for this, and now he had to deal with it.

Tomorrow he would tell Grace. Maybe.

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

Heart Surgery (original poetry)

I don’t write poetry often, but the other day something kept rattling around in my brain that I had to write out. It started as a feeling and some images in my animation program, but became words as I just put my fingers on the keyboard. So, here is the ‘poem’ I wrote, as well as the video version of it below. (It’s appropriate for all ages)


Heart Surgery

You’re always there.

Your eyes watch me and I feel you; hands not unlike breath on my skin.

I’ve got goosebumps in my soul — I want to sing.

Tears strangle my voice in the stead of a melody — claws grasp my heart with careful fragility.

I trust you.

With careful precision, you force life back into my lungs.

Desire for the veil was never so sweet as your face — the glowing red my sign in the dark.

Passion pulls me away.

My life is no longer mine but yours — your will to fan the flames stoking my soul’s perseverance.

No.

I will not go today.

(Closed captions available if you can’t understand some of the words)

© 2018 Shane Blackheart

Excerpt from ‘Bittersweet: Love Is War’ – my 2018 NaNoWriMo novel

I won my first year of NaNoWriMo! It feels pretty great, to be honest. I feel like it has been some of the best writing I’ve done in quite some time, and it’s worked wonders to jumpstart my vigor for writing again. Since, I’ve rewritten a short story and doubled its word length from an old favorite in high school, I’ve continued a few other projects — I work on more than one at a time sometimes — and I’ve just generally been extremely creative since my start in November. I’ve hit some major bumps in the road along the way (more like potholes), but I’m happy to say I’ve produced some pretty awesome things.

Here is an excerpt from my 2018 winning NaNoWriMo novel, ‘Bittersweet; Love Is War,’ and it is appropriate for all ages.


As the clock ticked loudly against the walls of the stone room, Byleth stood in the center of it all. The cold metal table beside him chilled his fingers as he drifted claws across its scratched surface, its sheen adding a glow to his already luminescent red eyes. So many times had he looked down at Faye from the doorway as she sat there — a spread out mess of a human hanging back in her chair and watching the smoke drift across the ceiling from her menthol cigarette. Although an immortal being, Byleth still couldn’t stand the smell of the cancerous stuff, and there was definitely plenty of it on a daily basis. He could almost smell its miasma now as the memory of it drifted across time.

He clenched his teeth and ran a hand through his jaw-length, wavy blond hair. ‘I could just imprison her again. Tie her to the chair and take away all of her free will, and I would find a way to make her fear me. That would dispel any kind of affection for me, surely. Then we can both move on.’ It would most likely do the exact opposite, knowing her. She was fearless and mad about him, which was a sick joke in itself. He chuckled. She’d probably get off over being tied to a chair by him anyway.

He was brought away from his reveries by the sound of pages flapping in the wind, and recognized the natural glow that had spread throughout the room. It shrunk to reveal a form that Byleth remembered all too well, and he instantly went on guard. The being was lucky he didn’t react on impulse and tear into its glowing, pale flesh. “What do you want?!”

“Hello, brother!” An angel with short, upswept blond hair smiled kindly at the Fallen, his soft features flawless and beautiful beneath the dim lighting in the room that had returned. “I see you are well, and that you have taken a turn for the better.”

“Voyeuristic, aren’t you?” Byleth scoffed and crossed his arms. “What brings you down here to pester me, Gabriel?”

“I’ve come to offer you a chance. As God’s messenger, I wish to make a proposition with you.” The angel’s blue eyes had a spark to them that caught Byleth off guard, and he realized that something was amiss. This angel had a different kind of aura than the one he knew all too well, although it most definitely seemed to be Gabriel.

He lowered his eyes in suspicion and decided to play along. “Oh yeah? What kind of proposition does daddy dearest possibly have to offer? Is he finally kissing my ass to get something out of me?”

“Language, Byleth!” Gabriel wiggled a finger in the air with silent judgment. “It is something great — something you have been desiring for a long time, I am sure. There is something in Heaven you wish to reclaim, isn’t there?”

Byleth’s eyes grew wide and his breath came short. He’d spent the better part of his time as a Fallen plotting ways to get back into Heaven to reclaim his throne. Most often, it had been a violent fantasy that involved much force and a taking over of Heaven, but he knew it was an impossible and foolish thing to try. God was too powerful for anything in the entirety of time, even for Satan’s seven-headed dragon with his legion of demons to conquer, but if he could get back onto his throne and allow them all to think that he had been redeemed, he stood an honest chance of at least enacting revenge on a grand scale.

He snapped back to reality as Gabriel’s expression changed to become something darker. The angel’s eyes shone a pale gray for a millisecond, which a Fallen would not have missed. Although he knew no being immediately with eyes like that, the underlying darkness made everything quite obvious. There was corruption on the other side of the charade. “Who are you? Show yourself!”

The being laughed darkly and the form blurred and shifted as if it were warped, and came clear once more as Byleth’s suspicions were confirmed. The being that stood before him then, however, hadn’t been expected. It was one of the few times he had honestly been at a nervous unease. The name he was finally able to mutter was as quiet as it was dangerous. “Azazel.”

 

©2018 Shane Blackheart

NaNoWriMo; November 2018!

Another absence on this blog, and another reason. Although, it’s an amazing reason this time (I promise)!

I’ve made the decision to do NaNoWriMo this year. If you aren’t aware of what that is, in short, it’s a challenge to write an entire 50,000 word — or more — novel in 30 days. On the more descriptive end of things, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization that raises money for all kinds of good causes related to writing. One, in particular, is to fund kits to send to schools that need them and to encourage younger writers. Besides that, it is an event every year in November that has been going since 1999, and millions of writers join in on the chaos every year. This year is my first.

The idea is to start with a brand new manuscript; a clean slate. You may also begin with an outline, or a part of an outline and nothing else to go on other than your imagination. Either way, after you’ve created your own profile and filled in your novel’s basic details, you’re ready to begin.

Every day, ideally, you’ll log your word count in one of two ways. There are stats you can watch to see where you are at compared to the average person, and you can also see a projected completion date determined by your average daily word count, and how many words you have left to write to complete the 50k dash (or more!). Below are my latest stats, taken as of today.

bandicam 2018-11-08 22-06-58-826

You write your novel outside of the website, and as you log your word count and interact with the site, as well as donate if you so choose, you will earn badges. There are also badges you can choose to give yourself based on an honor system, as they are achievements that can’t actually be measured in any way. For example, I gave myself the ‘Something in my eye’ badge for wringing my heart out over a few scenes or more. Sometimes writing really can be an emotional roller coaster, but that makes for some of the best writing out there.

From November 20th onward, you can claim your win by pasting the entirety of your first draft in their official word counter. They also give you the option to scramble your words if you wish, although no one is actually going to read your novel. Nothing gets uploaded to the website and your words are deleted as soon as they are counted. Once that process is complete, I imagine you’ll feel pretty good about yourself for your successes.

There are prizes, but there are no limits to winners, so be honest! They are small things like coupons to writing programs and online courses, and other little things that really aren’t a huge deal, but a help to writers to keep them going strong long after they’ve finished their NaNoWriMo novel. Personally, the feeling of accomplishment from completing an entire first draft of a novel in a month is the biggest win of being a participant. Even if you don’t complete your novel, you’ve still accomplished something great, and you still have words there that you didn’t have before. It’s even more incentive to keep going for yourself, and for the story you have to tell.

I’m well into 27k words on the eighth day, which isn’t something I thought I would be capable of. I passed NaNoWriMo by for a few years after hearing about it, mostly because I didn’t think I could do it. I sold myself short due to my own insecurities, and I was doing the very thing some people in my life have done to me in the past — I was putting myself down because of a lack of faith in myself. I believed my anxiety disorder and other mental illnesses left me unable to do much of anything, and I was destined to fail. I would become too stressed and spiral down into a mess of a human being.

Yet, it’s November 8th and I have come a long way from that mindset. On the first, I’d sat in front of my computer mulling it over. A friend from a Facebook writing group brought it to my attention again, claiming that she was doing it herself. She needed a writing buddy. I’d told her I wasn’t participating before, but on a whim, I signed up for the site and I locked myself in. I haven’t looked back.

It’s like something lit a fire under me (usually, that’s Byleth, but this time I did it myself. He and Lestan have been the best cheerleaders). Having a deadline with the goal of having fun and just letting loose on the page, not caring about editing as I went like I usually did, was freeing. The goal was to just go until it was time to stop, as editing during NaNoWriMo is heavily discouraged. All of that would come in the months to pass after ‘winning’, and the site also has a section for just that. My goal is to be able to open up that part of the site after my victory.

At 27k in after only the first week, I am certain I can ‘win’. I can safely say that if you go into this as a lover of words, stories, and a passion for the art of writing, you’ll win too. Just keep at it and don’t worry about the numbers while you’re writing. Focus on the amazing story you have to tell, and the rest will come in time.

The best of luck to anyone who is participating this year. I hope to be able to make another blog entry when I’ve finally reached the ultimate goal.