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


Vampire Verisimilitude: “Guns and Survivability”

Janiss here. Happy Sunday!

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureTimothy inspired this week’s revelation when he said, “You do remember we employ a trained team of vampire hunters led by a vampire, right?” It’s true and it’s hilarious, but as ridiculous as it sounds, it also makes perfect sense. To keep Cedarcrest safe, we watch for others of my kind…other immortals. Some can be dealt with and others pushed back; some can’t be left alone and it’s irresponsible to leave them be.

Ambassadors of mostly good will.

This brings me to today’s point: a few of you worry about me, and your concerns are appreciated.

As many of you know (especially the ones who’ve borrowed titles from his personal library), Timothy is our resident pop culture bloodsucker expert; he collects and avidly watches all manner of vampire TV shows and movies on the subject. In the name of entertainment, screen vampires have progressed from hideous monsters to misunderstood blood-drinking romantics. I can relate to both sides – forever bored seeking new goals and distractions, and hey, you gotta eat – but is anyone else amazed with the sheer number of imagined ways a vampire can be easily destroyed?

Look at the Underworld movie series. Selene is a serious badass “death dealer” in a war with werewolves slinging automatic pistols, submachine guns, and both silver and UV ammunition. While slow-motion gunfire is incredible to watch, vampires heal fast…REALLY fast, not to mention stakes don’t turn us to dust and neither does sunlight or UV bullets. Online sources provide a more believable reason for these ideas: for ease of storytelling, because vampire slayers don’t have time to hide slain bodies, evade the cops, and keep the action moving.

What I’m trying to say is we’re damnably hard to kill.

I have to laugh when I see vampires trying to kill each other with Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine guns; this appears to be a favorite because these weapons have been around for fifty years and can be crazy modified. The problem: you could empty two thirty-round clips of 9mm ammunition into a single pissed-off vamp and not even slow them down, even if you knew exactly were to shoot them (no, I’m not telling you where our weak points are). Coupled with a freakish ability to anticipate an attack and dodge most of that incoming lead, you can see why it’s laughable.

You want to know what does work? Numbers. One vampire being attacked on multiple fronts can’t dodge every attack, and every successful hit is a distraction to the next one. A smart bloodsucker will seek to escape no matter how badass they think they are; a cornered vampire is a trapped vampire, and while it makes them deadlier, it also makes them much more vulnerable.

Having friends is your friend.

The whole lone-wolf vampire assassin (see what I did there?) armed like Matrix Neo with sunglasses and a long coat makes for great cinema but is impractical at best. We’re VAMPIRES, for God’s sake! We blend in, make suggestions, and lure you in. For all of the amusement it provided, the movie What We Do In the Shadows nailed it: we’re the bait, but we’re also the trap. Forget the night clubs; you’re safe inside. A girl walking alone at night, a homeless person where they shouldn’t be, or an elderly man sitting at a bus stop long after the line has stopped? Go the other way, my friend.

If someone just needed to put down a vampire with sheer bullet damage – one single solitary vampire – here’s a free script suggestion: lure them into the bottom of an abandoned missile silo, have a TAC team riddle them with enough bullets to bleed them out (assuming they didn’t bring a snack with them), and then seal it up the top, preferably with concrete. The vampire may not be permanently destroyed, but it also won’t be going anywhere…forever.

Seriously, Hollywood: enough with conventional gunpowder weapons for hunting bloodsuckers.

Gunplay is a male-empowerment, vampire-slaying fantasy that’s going to get you killed… or worse.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Special thanks to Eric for pointing out correct weapon types and editing for acronyms.

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


Vampire Verisimilitude: “What makes a good immortal?”

You ask questions; I try to answer them – I make no other promises.

FromTheDeskOfJanissSignatureMr. Johnson asked, “How do you know someone will make a good vampire?”

Great question…possibly the toughest one I’ve been asked.

The short answer is: nobody knows for sure.

A quick point of fact: if a vampire chooses to make a mortal into an immortal, it’s not guaranteed to work. Forget all that zombie movie bite-equals-undead stuff; even an intentional transformation comes with risk: you could die…period. Well, you WILL die – it’s part of the process – but the whole coming back bit is not a for-sure kind of thing for all those Carly Rae Jepsen fans who really, really, really, really, really, really want to be a vampire, too (GOD that song is annoying).

Got it? Good. Moving on.

Now, I’m making a bit of an assumption here: what’s the difference between a good and a BAD vampire? I don’t mean angelic vs. demonic but actual survivability; what makes a SUCCESSFUL vampire? Can a newly turned vamp survive, thrive, and cope with their own existence? I’ve compiled a brief list of traits I’ve seen that seem to be true – although to be fair, I only have the opinions of three immortals including myself.

Survivor’s Sense – You have to WANT to live, so to speak. The first thing you’re going to get hit with is PTSD, because becoming a vampire isn’t easy. Even if your mind didn’t have to endure the transformation, your body is going to feel the trauma, and then your head will be bombarded with so many sensations that it feels alien. What you want to do and may actually do – rip into the first warm body full of delicious, desirable blood – is horrific no matter how evil you think you are. Whether you commit this initial act of destruction or not, you’re going to become suicidal; it feels like a perfect solution and one you have to get past quickly. A vampire with a death wish is eventually going to find a way to do themselves in; fortunately, we’re pretty resilient and damnably hard to kill…especially without knowing the rules.

Investigator’s Sense – Speaking of rules, you have to be willing to learn them; research is your friend. Vampires compete with each other for the same stock – never mind there being plenty to go around – so they keep secrets…LOTS of secrets. Some of these reveal themselves: blood lust, aversion to dawn, appearance in sunlight, being staked, and so forth. You’ll want to know about as many of your weaknesses as you can and how to avoid them. Some sires educate their fledglings while others abandon them, often observing from afar for their own amusement. Have I mentioned I’m NEVER going to do this to or for anyone EVER? And happily there’s no Vampire Academy option, either (see what I did there?)

Warrior’s Sense – Shutting yourself in is a bad idea; it’s avoidance. You have to feed yourself, and even if you’re lucky enough to have a sire who gives a crap, they can’t feed you with your own blood. So unless you intend sleep your immortality away, you have to eat…but you also have to protect yourself and possibly even those who provide for you (I’ll say “willingly” here because I consider that the better option). No, you don’t rise from the grave with the Shaolin martial arts skills of Master Shifu (thanks, Buffy) and forget all that pacifist Gandhi stuff; you need to know how to fight and use your speed and strength to not only destroy but subdue. As much as I hate to even think this, you can’t remain defensive at all times, either; sometimes you have to draw a line, look over it at your potential enemy and make damn sure they know crossing it isn’t free. When someone wants something you have or doesn’t want you to have it, there’s going to be blood and you can’t back down from it.

To reiterate: you shouldn’t go around starting trouble, but you had better be prepared to fight regardless.

So: think you have what it takes to become a vampire?

This isn’t the destiny you’re looking for…move along.

~ Janiss

@JanissConnelly on Twitter


Join Janiss on Twitter

To all residents and staff:

Hi! It’s just Janiss, your friendly facility executive administrator (say that three times fast). I guess I could shorten that to FFEA. Anyway…

JanissAvatarTwitterHandleOn occasion, many of you have cornered me (not an easy thing to do) in the private wing to or from the blood lab, quizzing me about my “lifestyle.” Believe me when I tell you: I have less experience with being an immortal than a lot of college graduates have working fast food. Still, I get that you’re curious, so here’s what were going to do!

At Timothy’s request, I have created a Twitter account @janissconnelly for you to ask questions. Yes, this is also an effort to get all of YOU using social media (all except dear sweet Vivian, our resident social network queen). I talk about stargazing, hard rock music (feel free to ignore those), and paranormal romance books (yes, I freely admit to this).

If you have a specific question about how I get along as a vampire, follow me and I’ll follow back so you can send a DIRECT message. I have ONE request: let’s try to keep the vampire talk related to ME off the internet? Yes, even if no one believes it.

See you all online!

Janiss Connelly
Executive Administrator
Cedarcrest Sanctum


The Matriarch: Changeling

As the third book enters the final phase before publication, the official title has been revealed:

The Matriarch: Changeling

A Facebook event will be take place on Friday, February 13th, 2015 along with a contest to win one of three signed softcover copies of the new book upon publication.


Join us there for a bit of fun, a few excerpts and trivia about the series!