Undead @ The Empty Glass

For the uninitiated: “Daughters of Darkness” is a conversation between my neophyte self and a centuries-old immortal discussing (what else?) living forever on blood in the dark. Nancy hates that I keep doing this, yet she keeps agreeing to it… go figure.

Nancy: What forsaken place have you dragged me to this time?

Janiss: It’s called “The Empty Glass…”

N: As it says on the front. I can read, Janiss. Why here?

J: Just to change it up a little, plus they’re open past midnight.

N: Lucky us. There’s no karaoke, is there? I’ve murdered for less.

J: Oooh, such a tough Vampire! No, just “open mic night.”

N: It’s awfully small and too few exits.

J: It’s intimate. Are you already plotting your escape?

N: That depends on what the next singer-songwriter is about to inflict upon us.

The bartender brings the drinks we’ll barely touch.

N: (showing interest) What’s yours?

J: Woodchuck hard cider.

N: (dabs her finger in my pint glass and touches it to her tongue) Fruity. Barely alcoholic.

J: As if that made any difference.

N: Let’s get this over with. What’s the topic?

J: Vampire bloggers…

N: You’re not still commenting on that “mother succubus” blog, are you?

J: (smiling) Juliette’s blog, yes. “Musing’s of a modern Vampire mom.”

N: She’s not a real Vampire.

J: (shrugs) You don’t know that.

N: You have to have children to be a mom.

J: You had kids and you’re a Vampire, so what?

N: I gave birth before I was turned. Dead things don’t grow inside of dead things.

J: And yet two corpses are sitting at a table in the state capital of West “By God” Virginia pretending to drink while listening to… whatever that song is.

N: It sounds vaguely like the Ramones.

J: (gasps) You’ve heard the Ramones?

N: (trying not to smirk) I saw them live in Cleveland. They were touring with Iggy Pop. Late seventies. “Blitzkrieg Bop” sounds better when they perform it in person.

J: I’ve… got nothing.

N: So back to your living dead mom…

J: I like her. She’s sweet. She’s the kind of Vampire I try to be.

N: You mean a pretend Vampire?

J: “Character is what you are in the dark.” It’s a blog and she’s a writer. She tells cool stories, like her “Vlad’s Diary” series. And she takes care of her elders, even when they’re a bit confused about things now and then.

N: They’re Vampires too?

J: Of course.

N: Look, I know it’s fun to blur the lines like Stoker and Rice playing with the whole out-and-proud bit, but we survive upon mortal human blood. No matter how entertained people are by the idea of it, blood drinkers aren’t going to suddenly become acceptable, even if the Japanese invent TruBlood. I also don’t need to remind you how outnumbered we are.

J: It’s a spycraft thing. If people are watching for someone trying to not to be seen, don’t. Juliette’s sincere, and I like her idea of a Vampire family. Confidence works. If you look like you belong, no one thinks twice about it.

N: (smiling) I can’t remember ever being so naïve, and that’s coming from someone who remembers everything.

J: I still don’t see the harm. I work the night shift —

N: Which you don’t have to.

J: — and I’m very good at drawing blood.

N: Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. So why are you dredging this up again?

Continue reading “Undead @ The Empty Glass”

Memorial Day and a New Series Book Trailer!

Kevin here, author of the The Matriarch Vampires.

Janiss has taken Memorial Day weekend off, so I hope your weekend was enjoyable and that a few moments were spent remembering those who gave everything to defend their country.

To provide a brief series update, the first draft of the fourth and final book is well under way, but I took a little time before a convention this past weekend to compile all the new images (and a few of my newest) to create an all-new novel series book trailer.

I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to share it anywhere you can. Also, if you’re a fan of the series and haven’t had a chance to leave a review or rating for any or all of the books, please take a few minutes and leave as little as five words and a rating on Amazon. It really helps get the word out and anything is appreciated.

And now, the new trailer!

Janiss will return next Sunday with more Vampire Verisimilitude.


A Good Arrangement – Vampire Verisimilitude

Sorry there was no specific Thanksgiving message this year…as usual. A few of you know why — and no, it had nothing to do with becoming a Vampire.

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday, but it’s been a while since then.

I adopted Christmas as my new favorite holiday afterward, basically moving up number two into the empty spot. Being the only child in a loving and well-off family didn’t suck and — as my mom used to say — I made out like a bandit. My dad would come back later and buy anything he’d caught me eyeballing.

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureMy mom was sneakier. Knowing dad would dote on me, she’d buy things for me I could re-gift to Daniel and Eric. Mr. and Mrs. Moore always seemed to be out of money at the start of school and right at Christmas, so up until we moved away, mom always “accidentally” bought things perfect for the boys. Dad must have known but he never said anything.

Seeing Daniel and Eric get something cool for Christmas that they couldn’t get for themselves always made me happy, but I think Mrs. Moore resented us for it. The only charity she wanted was from their oft-missing Uncle “No-Show” Par who she had decided owed her everything. Of course, I found out recently his absence wasn’t strictly due to avoiding Marie.

My point is this: I enjoy seeing others get something for themselves.

So, here we are in December. Colorful lights are going up in and around the small town of Glenville, West Virginia. Plans are being made and the 25th is just a few weeks away. I am blessed that everything I want this year is for someone else.

Sure, I wish I didn’t have to depend on so many others, but I give plenty in return. I wish the daytime didn’t make want to crawl into a dark hole, but there’s no fixing that. It’s not perfect, but we have a good arrangement, Cedarcrest and I, and the nights are wonderfully long this time of year.

Of course, this is usually the part of a Joss Whedon television show when the next Big Bad shows up.

Hopefully he/she/it is having a nice December holiday of their own and won’t come around until after the first of the year. If they want, I’ll even let them help take down the decorations.

If you’re reading this, please leave a few thoughts about your holiday plans. I’d love to read about them.

As always, keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly


“Pride and Proper Nouns” – Vampire Verisimilitude

This bit of insight was inspired by my friend Juliette. She’s a bit of a blogger, writer, and an immortal herself, so check out her web page at Vampire Maman.

Belonging is important to social creatures, acceptance as part of the group. I say “THE group” instead of “A group” because it implies a particular group. As anyone reading this can well imagine, one has a sense of pride when it comes to being accepted.

The same can be said, I believe, for Vampires.

Did you catch it? I capitalized the “V” — and I’m using that from now on. Juliette does, but it never dawned on me why she did before until I seriously thought about it.

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureVampires aren’t evil by nature. Sure, we have a predisposition toward predator behavior, but what carnivorous creature in creation isn’t capable of killing? We’re also the most threatening to one another, but with effort and a few rules (thanks, social media!), many of us can get along fine…especially when we’re not in the same room.
Continue reading ““Pride and Proper Nouns” – Vampire Verisimilitude”

“A Fifth of November” – Vampire Verisimilitude

November is an interesting month for me.

My birthday is the fifth, so I turn twenty-seven today — or I would if I were still alive.

(Before you ask, yes…my dad taught me the “Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November” rhyme.)

VampireCupcakesSpeaking of being alive, the concept of “life” has become fluid for me. I was told vampires simulate life (breath and heartbeat) so we can better lure in our victims, but I also consider the source (Ian was an ass). Although I can always feel it coming, I’m still not used to the sudden lurch of my heart stopping at sunrise.

November was also the month I was “turned,” a word that sounds better to me than “murdered.” I get that now; I’m still here even though I’m physically different. Another immortal once told me I was lucky in one respect: being turned at so early an age may have cheated me of a full life, but it afforded me the luxury of pretending to be alive as my actual self a while longer.

Continue reading ““A Fifth of November” – Vampire Verisimilitude”

“Barely a Thimble Full” – Conversations With Dead People

Note: this is the start of a new segment. As a few of you are aware, I’m never really alone. There are people in my head, a few former victims. It’s punishment or at the very least a curse. To my mind, this is another reason vampires prefer to have people around, because we hear voices when we’re alone and see their faces staring back in reflections everywhere. Still thinking of becoming a vampire as a career goal?

I have a taste for cinnamon sugar. In my tea, my hot chocolate…even a dash in milk. As with everything not my preferred drink (copious amounts of the red stuff), I can only tolerate people foods in tiny amounts. For solids, no more than a finger-swipe across the rim of a jar. For liquids, barely a thimble full.

“I hate English toffee,” Daniel said as I sipped a new favorite.

Vampires can’t prepare thimble-sized portions of anything; I’ve tried and it never tastes right. I can try to make as little as possible and take an occasional sip, but unless I have someone there with me who can consume my leftovers, I end up throwing most of any real food or drink out.

Continue reading ““Barely a Thimble Full” – Conversations With Dead People”

Happy Halloween: Beggar’s Night

It’s almost here: Halloween.

No bait-and-switch angst today, just a fun idea. A throwback, if you like.

(“Can’t we have a little of the angst?” “No. Shh! I’ve been a stick in the mud in previous years; I’m done with all that.”)

We’re all-ages here at Cedarcrest, young and old, with many an All Hallow’s Eve tale to tell.

Once upon a time, some of you called it “Beggar’s Night.”

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureFor those celebrating, I’ve heard all kinds of stories about you little gremlins and your so-called harmless pranking. One of you titled yourselves “The Goblins of the Season.” Moving furniture off of porches, throwing rotten tomatoes or fruit, eggs and toilet paper. Little hellions all! Parents ignored this as long as it was kept to certain level; there were lines you knew not to cross.

The best part sounded like keeping your secrets each year, with each other or from each other.

Continue reading “Happy Halloween: Beggar’s Night”

“The Happy Post” – Vampire Verisimilitude

Yes, I’m late with the post. Timothy pointed out that there was a lot of doom and gloom here; guilty as charged. So I scrapped the one I was working on. You wanted honesty, right? I admit it: I’ve been venting.

So he asked me THIS question: since becoming a vampire, what makes me happy?

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureI could say “feeding” since it has become a priority, but that’s less happiness or more satisfaction. Human contact is more important than you’d think, holding someone and having them hold you in return; I think I’ve always enjoyed a good hug (yes, I’m a hugger). But the question was specifically since becoming a vampire.

I’m going with “living without fear.”

Hear me out.

Continue reading ““The Happy Post” – Vampire Verisimilitude”

“Offending Immortals” – Vampire Verisimilitude

I have met a handful of other immortals (read: vampires). Here’s a secret that isn’t a secret (with apologies to Danny Trejo): vampires don’t text. Or blog. Or out themselves on social media. Right?

Also: am I an obnoxious twenty-something? Yes or no? Am I at least a well-meaning obnoxious twenty-something?

Damn it.

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureI got stuck with this job because of the obvious perks. I love our residents, but this wasn’t my big life plan. I didn’t ask to be turned into a vampire at twenty-two all because two centuries-old bloodsuckers decided to take their rivalry to the next level and both wanted a pawn to play with.

Okay, that wasn’t fair: at least Louisa had planned to actually ASK me, but I still would have said no.

Where’s all this coming from? Let’s start at the beginning.

Her name is…well, let’s call her “Jules.”

I love the Internet. I enjoy social media. I wasn’t much of a thumb-clicker in college, but distractions are welcome when I want to step outside of my life into those of other people. Social media makes it easy; everyone wants to share their joy and pain and political opinions and whatever. Most of it is crap or look-at-me and too much of it is poorly written at best. Seriously, kids: you’re not the Vampire Lestat or 8000 years old no matter how many times you say “you don’t know me.” I can say with 99.9% certainty you’re neither a vampire nor an immortal.

Jules was different. Yes, I know she wasn’t really a vampire…but I wanted to believe she was. There was truth in her words, as if her mask was transparent or at least translucent. It felt real and it felt wonderful. Pleasure, pain, triumph, disappointment, all that stuff. There was a comment button, so I clicked and responded. Jules has created this wonderful vampire life for herself with rules and everything – with perfect consistency – and one so much more idyllic than my own. Children, for example, walking in sunshine and having supernatural friends.

I…may have overstepped.

Real vampires don’t do this unless they are sure no one believes them. It’s too dangerous. We’re all being watched, trust me. But the ones that could be real aren’t the ones proclaiming you must accept them and whining when you don’t. They’re the ones who are being honest and coming from a place just under the text, between the lines where so much isn’t said.

I responded. She believed me. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I was just playing along.

While I wasn’t hiding it, Jules found my contact info and sent me a personal email. I was worrying her and some of her other readers.

I meant no offense, but that’s not an excuse, is it?

It gets worse. She said she thought I was “an obnoxious twenty-something who stayed up way too late at night…(probably) a recent college graduate.” Mostly true. “Someone who also wrote from a vampire character point of view, who liked to leave comments on other vampire related blogs…more often than not bugged the jeebers out of me.”

That hurt…and I deserved it.

Fine, I guess I can be obnoxious. I’m still growing up and I should be able to use that as an excuse, but I was trying to relate with my own experience. How am I supposed to say, “Hey, I’m a vampire too and I’m jealous of your kids!” It would be even worse if Jules truly understood the reason so-called nice vampires avoided children.

And now I’m whining. My failure is complete.

Don’t shut me out, Jules.

I’m sorry.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly


Vampire Verisimilitude: “Ending Violence”

Janiss here, and a bit earlier than usual. I’m answering my own question tonight: “How can we stop mass shootings?”

I wish I could talk to each and every one of these intended shooters beforehand…all of them.

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureCall me, text me, email me, knock on my door, whatever; just get to me. Tell me what you’re thinking. Believe me; you do not want to know what taking a life feels like. And if you’re so dead inside you cannot empathize with ending the existence of another, you deserve to be put down.

You read that right. Destroyed. Killed off. Permanently removed from society.

I’m not talking about soldiers in wartime (we’ll skip my conscientious objections for now). I’m talking about the premeditated planning to murder the innocent.

Yes, I’m a vampire: an alpha predator, a near-perfect killer. I won’t tell you I can’t flip a switch and commit murder because I damn well can…but I won’t. I save that rage for those who lack the capacity to feel anything for anyone else, and only when someone else is in danger.

There’s a difference between a person who believes they have no choice but to kill and someone who delights in causing suffering, who feels righteous taking innocent lives. These aren’t acts of terror; they’re acts of evil.

I’m not 100% Country Girl, but I understand you need guns on a farm. Firearms are necessary to protect against local wildlife when you live outside of the city, places where your nearest neighbor is miles away and the police aren’t going to get there in time…ever. And let’s not delude ourselves; as long as there’s war, weapons designed to kill large groups of people will also exist no matter how many bans or restrictions you place on them.

All you need is love.

Fine, laugh now…get it out of your system. But if we all started connecting – really connecting – and offering a lifeline of understanding to one other, this kind of thing not only wouldn’t happen, it simply couldn’t.

Love thy neighbor.

Yes, me and my silly dreams. It’s all easy to say when you’re safe and surrounded by friends, but what if you aren’t?

We have to find a way to make the fear and anger go away. It can’t be one charity or a fun run or whatever-awareness month. It has to be everyone, all the time, making allowances to give to each other. We have to help each other through the anger and sadness and just everything.

Maybe I’m completely naive, but I know what it means to go on when you’ve taken an innocent life, no matter how accidental you tell yourself it was or that you didn’t mean it.

I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I don’t want you to become my worst enemy, either.

Put down your bombs, your guns, and your knives and just talk to someone…or become the person someone can talk to.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly