Magnolia Tree, Bemmel, Netherlands, April 2011.
Lucky shot. Something for the start of summer here. Love these big bloomy trees. Sometimes its just eye candy here. 

Magnolia Tree, Bemmel, Netherlands, April 2011.

Lucky shot. Something for the start of summer here. Love these big bloomy trees. Sometimes its just eye candy here. 

Keukenhof Purple Tulips, Netherlands, April 2011.
I’d never seen purple tulips like this till Keukenhof. If you ever have the slightest opportunity, it’s worth the trip. A blooming spectacle, for just a couple short months a year, shorter every year I’m told as the temps rise, and the tulips are prone to bowing their heads in the heat. 
A recurring detail in the books is each clan/sub clan has their own color/symbol identifier, and when i found the purple flowers in my rafts of travel pictures, I realize I probably will sit down and draw some of these out and turn them in to jewelery pieces yet, so that I have a sketchbook of ideas to start with at the bench in september. 

Keukenhof Purple Tulips, Netherlands, April 2011.

I’d never seen purple tulips like this till Keukenhof. If you ever have the slightest opportunity, it’s worth the trip. A blooming spectacle, for just a couple short months a year, shorter every year I’m told as the temps rise, and the tulips are prone to bowing their heads in the heat. 

A recurring detail in the books is each clan/sub clan has their own color/symbol identifier, and when i found the purple flowers in my rafts of travel pictures, I realize I probably will sit down and draw some of these out and turn them in to jewelery pieces yet, so that I have a sketchbook of ideas to start with at the bench in september. 

Bemmel, Netherlands, April 2011 
this the old city hall. My oma actually worked here in her younger years before moving to Canada. 
And what vampire society doesn’t have a building or two with an actual moat? Lets get real. Yeah, somewhere this might pop up down the line in a book. It has to. A MOAT.

( and I’m feeling quite the homesickness for the netherlands, as while I’m not a citizen, it IS where most of my family are, and I feel this brutal ache to go back and STAY.) 

Bemmel, Netherlands, April 2011 

this the old city hall. My oma actually worked here in her younger years before moving to Canada. 

And what vampire society doesn’t have a building or two with an actual moat? Lets get real. Yeah, somewhere this might pop up down the line in a book. It has to. A MOAT.

( and I’m feeling quite the homesickness for the netherlands, as while I’m not a citizen, it IS where most of my family are, and I feel this brutal ache to go back and STAY.) 

Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011.
Bikes!
They don’t have much to do with anything but that I thought it a decent shot. I don’t use fancy cameras and filters, I use the iphone/apps and have fun. I’m no serious photographer but i like to delude myself into thinking I get good shots now and then. 

Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011.

Bikes!

They don’t have much to do with anything but that I thought it a decent shot. I don’t use fancy cameras and filters, I use the iphone/apps and have fun. I’m no serious photographer but i like to delude myself into thinking I get good shots now and then. 

There was no alarm like the siren call of sunset. She rose, just as the infernal sun started to melt below the horizon. She preferred daylight as a mortal, and at first detested the dark of immortality, but that blurry mess of blues and pinks as the day gave way, and the city quieted, much better.
Time to go find a pretty something for a chat in a cafe till the sun threatened to sear her skin, time to lure them to her arms with charming words and a smile, and feed. 
And come home, with pink cheeks and red lips, to sleep away the day again. 
( Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011) 

There was no alarm like the siren call of sunset. She rose, just as the infernal sun started to melt below the horizon. She preferred daylight as a mortal, and at first detested the dark of immortality, but that blurry mess of blues and pinks as the day gave way, and the city quieted, much better.

Time to go find a pretty something for a chat in a cafe till the sun threatened to sear her skin, time to lure them to her arms with charming words and a smile, and feed. 

And come home, with pink cheeks and red lips, to sleep away the day again. 

( Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011) 

Haarlem, Netherlands, Teyler Museum, April 2011.
He sat at the cafe table, the daylight inching away from the table, slipping out the door. It had places to go. So did he. A flutter of anticipation and fear in his gut, he longed for the bite. The brief snap of pain as teeth broke skin, the pull of his blood. A lick of the tongue on blood tinted lips, a smile, a flush in the cheeks, both mortal and immortal. 
"You’ve been working too long again." A flash of sharp teeth.
"I know. I know. Deadlines. How can you tell?"
"You taste like espresso." 

Haarlem, Netherlands, Teyler Museum, April 2011.

He sat at the cafe table, the daylight inching away from the table, slipping out the door. It had places to go. So did he. A flutter of anticipation and fear in his gut, he longed for the bite. The brief snap of pain as teeth broke skin, the pull of his blood. A lick of the tongue on blood tinted lips, a smile, a flush in the cheeks, both mortal and immortal. 

"You’ve been working too long again." A flash of sharp teeth.

"I know. I know. Deadlines. How can you tell?"

"You taste like espresso." 

Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011
Sascha’s my main character, been around in my head ages. 
I didn’t specifically intend to write him a certain way, but I had long tired of the “rich, aristocratic, angst ridden” vampire. I wanted something a bit more…down to earth. At relative peace with the circumstances of his life, and the drastic detour they take when he gets hauled off and turned. 
I also didn’t want the chaste hero, to the rescue. Nor the angry brutalizer. It was like this “average” vamp had been purely overlooked in the frenzy to write characters with large neon signs of “look how amazing I am, puny mortals.” 
So I let him keep his sense of ethics. His morality might be considered iffy, in that he beds ANYONE, or nearly anyone, and delights in it, in a way that it keeps him close to his own humanity. He works a night job, the same thing he trained for as a mortal, and keeps his own blood lust on a tight leash because that’s what you do.
Of course it has to all fall apart. But I wanted something that felt closer to real. Accepting that he’s still who he is, with some forced on lifestyle changes. His decisions and his sticking to the ethics he had as a mortal.
I think he’d live a happy quiet life in this little roadway in a small city, not bothering anyone, if given the chance. 
***
Want a taste? Here you go:
“Hi Sascha. So, your pretty boy’s home tomorrow. Hungry? You look like death. You‘re going to scare him.” Stefan taunts, talking animatedly and enthusiastically. “How long has it been? Too long, by the looks of you. I’d worry about how much more you can feed from him before you kill him. Its bound to happen. We all get careless. Should I stick around, turn him in case you go too far? Just in case you can’t do the right thing?” Stefan launches into needling me, as much as I anticipated he would. Stefan and I, we have a long history.
“Shut it.”
“I respect your decision to not kill. Frankly I don’t do it anymore either but why the night job? Still being the dutiful medic? What’s the fun in that? Why this need to deprive yourself?” Stefan pesters as he keeps pace with me. He’s goading me tonight but to what end, I cannot fathom. Stefan being Stefan, I suppose.
“I’m not rich. I don’t have access to clan or council money. I have bills. I have mortals of my own to support. And I don‘t want to feed from strangers. Its too risky. James and I have a good thing. And if people didn‘t keep interfering, I‘d have sources. If they‘d just let me be.”
“A great lot of good it does you. One is away, the other won’t let you feed from her. Don’t you just miss it? The skin on skin, their body under your command, the sex, the blood, the taste, running over your lips? You can just take what you like. You could do what you liked, if you used more of your gifts. You don’t have to kill. They get used to the bite, they crave it. Look at James. He’s hooked on you. You could drain him dry and he’d smile all the way.” Stefan says. “If you don’t, maybe I will. Lock the boy up. Detox him. Kill him. It could be so much fun. I’ll bet he’d be way more fun as an immortal than you. You could demand it, and they’d give it. Even Rachel. You just never tried. It doesn’t take much to convince them. James and I could have so much fun.”
I clench my fists. “Fuck off, Stefan.”
“I do like it better when they’re not quite so passive. I like a bit of fight. Mm. You used to be so much fun. Good times. Drove me up the wall back then. But I like that Sascha compared to now.” Stefan purrs. He’s one of his moods tonight, the evil Stefan, not the patient and calm one. I’ve never figured out the rhyme or reason to his ways, and I suspect I never will. Compassion and care one day, debauchery and a mean streak the next. What kind of mortal were you, Stefan?
“You’re disturbed, Stefan. Deeply and profoundly disturbed.”

Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011

Sascha’s my main character, been around in my head ages. 

I didn’t specifically intend to write him a certain way, but I had long tired of the “rich, aristocratic, angst ridden” vampire. I wanted something a bit more…down to earth. At relative peace with the circumstances of his life, and the drastic detour they take when he gets hauled off and turned. 

I also didn’t want the chaste hero, to the rescue. Nor the angry brutalizer. It was like this “average” vamp had been purely overlooked in the frenzy to write characters with large neon signs of “look how amazing I am, puny mortals.” 

So I let him keep his sense of ethics. His morality might be considered iffy, in that he beds ANYONE, or nearly anyone, and delights in it, in a way that it keeps him close to his own humanity. He works a night job, the same thing he trained for as a mortal, and keeps his own blood lust on a tight leash because that’s what you do.

Of course it has to all fall apart. But I wanted something that felt closer to real. Accepting that he’s still who he is, with some forced on lifestyle changes. His decisions and his sticking to the ethics he had as a mortal.

I think he’d live a happy quiet life in this little roadway in a small city, not bothering anyone, if given the chance. 

***

Want a taste? Here you go:

“Hi Sascha. So, your pretty boy’s home tomorrow. Hungry? You look like death. You‘re going to scare him.” Stefan taunts, talking animatedly and enthusiastically. “How long has it been? Too long, by the looks of you. I’d worry about how much more you can feed from him before you kill him. Its bound to happen. We all get careless. Should I stick around, turn him in case you go too far? Just in case you can’t do the right thing?” Stefan launches into needling me, as much as I anticipated he would. Stefan and I, we have a long history.

“Shut it.”

“I respect your decision to not kill. Frankly I don’t do it anymore either but why the night job? Still being the dutiful medic? What’s the fun in that? Why this need to deprive yourself?” Stefan pesters as he keeps pace with me. He’s goading me tonight but to what end, I cannot fathom. Stefan being Stefan, I suppose.

“I’m not rich. I don’t have access to clan or council money. I have bills. I have mortals of my own to support. And I don‘t want to feed from strangers. Its too risky. James and I have a good thing. And if people didn‘t keep interfering, I‘d have sources. If they‘d just let me be.”

“A great lot of good it does you. One is away, the other won’t let you feed from her. Don’t you just miss it? The skin on skin, their body under your command, the sex, the blood, the taste, running over your lips? You can just take what you like. You could do what you liked, if you used more of your gifts. You don’t have to kill. They get used to the bite, they crave it. Look at James. He’s hooked on you. You could drain him dry and he’d smile all the way.” Stefan says. “If you don’t, maybe I will. Lock the boy up. Detox him. Kill him. It could be so much fun. I’ll bet he’d be way more fun as an immortal than you. You could demand it, and they’d give it. Even Rachel. You just never tried. It doesn’t take much to convince them. James and I could have so much fun.”

I clench my fists. “Fuck off, Stefan.”

“I do like it better when they’re not quite so passive. I like a bit of fight. Mm. You used to be so much fun. Good times. Drove me up the wall back then. But I like that Sascha compared to now.” Stefan purrs. He’s one of his moods tonight, the evil Stefan, not the patient and calm one. I’ve never figured out the rhyme or reason to his ways, and I suspect I never will. Compassion and care one day, debauchery and a mean streak the next. What kind of mortal were you, Stefan?

“You’re disturbed, Stefan. Deeply and profoundly disturbed.”

Lilies, Keukenhof, Netherlands, April 2011
"Such a change from the first time, a year ago. I thought you’d leap from this sofa, and bolt for the door. I might have chased you down, carried you back, but now? You walk in head high, look us directly in the eyes, and beg." Ash says, clothed, pressed to her, thrusting slightly. She can feel how turned on he is, through his pants, through the fabric of her skirts. She gasps, as he takes her arms and pins them behind her back, leaving her without support over the couch.

"What’s this?" he asks, lifting the cuff of her jacket, as far as the buckle allows. Julia grins.  He lifts her up, and turns her to face him, not angry, only curious, baffled. "What have you done, pretty mortal?"  

She stands still, as he works the buckles of the jacket, his fingers rushing and tripping in his curiousity and frantic movements. She smiles, the secret about to be revealed, but not participating in the unveiling, making them work for the prize. James comes around to where she stands, and takes the cuff of her jacket, and starts undoing the buckles.

"Nothing comes off if they’re not undone." Julia says, as they take her arms, and lift the jacket away, leaving her in her bare skin, and corset barely covering her breasts. Pale skin on vibrant deep red. Ash takes one of her wrists and lifts it to look. 

"What have you done?" He asks again, tracing the fresh tattooed skin. 

"Marked myself." She says. 

***

A novella that went all novel on me. Almost finished first draft. Something tantalizing to start your monday and my last week of classes for the term. 

Because I’m nice like that. 

Lilies, Keukenhof, Netherlands, April 2011

"Such a change from the first time, a year ago. I thought you’d leap from this sofa, and bolt for the door. I might have chased you down, carried you back, but now? You walk in head high, look us directly in the eyes, and beg." Ash says, clothed, pressed to her, thrusting slightly. She can feel how turned on he is, through his pants, through the fabric of her skirts. She gasps, as he takes her arms and pins them behind her back, leaving her without support over the couch.


"What’s this?" he asks, lifting the cuff of her jacket, as far as the buckle allows. Julia grins.  He lifts her up, and turns her to face him, not angry, only curious, baffled. "What have you done, pretty mortal?"  

She stands still, as he works the buckles of the jacket, his fingers rushing and tripping in his curiousity and frantic movements. She smiles, the secret about to be revealed, but not participating in the unveiling, making them work for the prize. James comes around to where she stands, and takes the cuff of her jacket, and starts undoing the buckles.

"Nothing comes off if they’re not undone." Julia says, as they take her arms, and lift the jacket away, leaving her in her bare skin, and corset barely covering her breasts. Pale skin on vibrant deep red. Ash takes one of her wrists and lifts it to look. 

"What have you done?" He asks again, tracing the fresh tattooed skin. 

"Marked myself." She says. 

***

A novella that went all novel on me. Almost finished first draft. Something tantalizing to start your monday and my last week of classes for the term. 

Because I’m nice like that. 
Red shutters, Amsterdam, Netherlands, april 2011.
Homesick tonight for my second home. Love the architecture. I’m a dutch girl at heart. Love the vibrant red shutters. I think I snapped this one, thinking it’d be a good way to keep the dangerous daylight from the characters. 
Soon, I’ll go back. 

Red shutters, Amsterdam, Netherlands, april 2011.

Homesick tonight for my second home. Love the architecture. I’m a dutch girl at heart. Love the vibrant red shutters. I think I snapped this one, thinking it’d be a good way to keep the dangerous daylight from the characters. 

Soon, I’ll go back. 

Sanctuary, a hofje garden, Haarlem, Netherlands, april 2011
At least I think it’s a hofje, but I can’t be 100% sure now, except that I know exactly what street its on, in Haarlem. So I can go back and check. Might be a wait. 
I like little places like this in cities, obviously, the small little garden or side place tucked away. Sanctuaries. So there’s a few in my writing, someone with a place of their own, room of their own, shelter, safety, solitude. 
Lots of gardens. In their world lots of gardens for contemplation and love, and socializing and just safely away from the mortal world, where they might be discovered a bit too easily. 
And in every place I go, there’s always these little places. So they settle into my head and come back when i flip through the archives when I’m trying to picture a setting. Haven’t specifically used this one, though, I love the entryway, and the gardens beyond. ( there was a gate, I couldn’t go further).
And if I travel to places I know well, I have my little sanctuaries in each city. Which would make me no use as a spy, regular haunts are not the sort of thing you have if you were an international lass of mystery. 
Sometimes the characters retreat to favorite haunts, at huge risk, and sometimes they take a deep breath and go forth to find new safe places. 
Finished a massive intricate project for my classes today, a pair of tiny gold earrings.( Oorbellen if you’re dutch, which I like better.)  Exhausted doesn’t cover it, and I still look at them and see not the perfectly glossy front, but all the myriad imperfections. Still, they’re done, and done well, and that’s saying something, with this project. 

Sanctuary, a hofje garden, Haarlem, Netherlands, april 2011

At least I think it’s a hofje, but I can’t be 100% sure now, except that I know exactly what street its on, in Haarlem. So I can go back and check. Might be a wait. 

I like little places like this in cities, obviously, the small little garden or side place tucked away. Sanctuaries. So there’s a few in my writing, someone with a place of their own, room of their own, shelter, safety, solitude. 

Lots of gardens. In their world lots of gardens for contemplation and love, and socializing and just safely away from the mortal world, where they might be discovered a bit too easily. 

And in every place I go, there’s always these little places. So they settle into my head and come back when i flip through the archives when I’m trying to picture a setting. Haven’t specifically used this one, though, I love the entryway, and the gardens beyond. ( there was a gate, I couldn’t go further).

And if I travel to places I know well, I have my little sanctuaries in each city. Which would make me no use as a spy, regular haunts are not the sort of thing you have if you were an international lass of mystery. 

Sometimes the characters retreat to favorite haunts, at huge risk, and sometimes they take a deep breath and go forth to find new safe places. 

Finished a massive intricate project for my classes today, a pair of tiny gold earrings.( Oorbellen if you’re dutch, which I like better.)  Exhausted doesn’t cover it, and I still look at them and see not the perfectly glossy front, but all the myriad imperfections. Still, they’re done, and done well, and that’s saying something, with this project. 

Jet wing over the Netherlands, June 2011
I should point out before carrying on, that the photos mostly have a date of 2011.
It was a ridiculous year of travel, a logistical brain breaker, and left me in December, dreaming of the hum of jet engines when I slept. ( I do dream of airports quite a lot, no surprise.)
What happened? 
Well. In 2010 we won a trip to Israel through the Design Exchange, and it was fantastic. The beaches in Tel Aviv rank as one of those wildly happy places I need to go back to. The rabbit warren streets of the old city of Jerusalem. Lovely people. Lovely country. Safe. Great food. (Aware of the political/religious hot potato of it all, we just simply didn’t care.) Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Mount of Olives where we nearly ran over a camel. That was March 2011. 
Six weeks later, I was winging it off to Amsterdam for two months, for a language course, and to meet more of my family. I had the utter fortune and generosity of a lovely little house to stay in Haarlem, and visited London UK, Den Haag, Utrecht, and Nijmegen during my stay, plus a token dash through Belgium and an amusing French Passport stamp obtained by being in that strange zone whilst crossing borders, and not actually setting foot on real French terra firma. I long to go back. My heart aches for Amsterdam in ways that can’t be silenced. It was towards the tail end of this trip that I started writing again. Think Rijksmuseum, Keukenhof,Van Gogh Museum, the Red Light District, Artis Zoo, and a day in London with a friend, who tended nicely to me as I’d completely busted an ankle and limped across London, The Museum of the Docklands, the Science and tech, the V and A, the Wellcome Collection, Natural history, and beers in Camden. 
Then. A brief respite then off to Dragoncon in Atlanta, where I think I pushed the limits of sleep deprivation to some interesting levels. I vaguely recall we taught the token adorable Brit to say in an american accent, “Strip, Bitch!” and it was all kinds of wrong and all kinds of laughing till we had tears in our eyes. 
Started classes, ( goldsmithing, never mind buying this girl jewellery, she makes the bling), and then we were off to China for two weeks, 3 days in Beijing, 2 in Xian, 5 in Shanghai. Saw the sights, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, The Water Cube and Birds Nest, The Great Wall of China, Xi’an, Terra Cotta warriors, an overdose of dumplings, running in to friends from Canada, visiting a friend working in Beijing, Shanghai, an acrobatics show, the Bund, pearl and jade markets, fakes markets, the world financial tower, and the hotel I swear, if i need to get away to write, I’ll return and no one can find me.:D 
There was an ill fated trip to DC for a friend’s wedding, where i was to go Toronto to JFK to Dulles DC, and wound up Toronto to Cinncinnatti!, to Detroit at which point I was 4 hours from home by car in 18 hrs of travel and I realized it wasn’t to be. 
So yeah. Kinda logged the air miles. Had the netbook for writing. Spent much of the layover in Hong Kong in the Cathay lounge, writing. ( we had business class tix, which is an astounding way to travel.) 
This year’s a bit subdued for my class schedule and his time off. But i have a passport. I aim to wear it out. 
So that jet wing in the clouds: That was my year last year. Not as much as some people, but for your average person, it was pretty ridiculous. and I loved every minute. I get antsy when I don’t travel. I feel it, the pull to GO PLACES. Soon. And I’ll have my writing and sketchbook, grabbing ideas and inspiration. 

Jet wing over the Netherlands, June 2011

I should point out before carrying on, that the photos mostly have a date of 2011.

It was a ridiculous year of travel, a logistical brain breaker, and left me in December, dreaming of the hum of jet engines when I slept. ( I do dream of airports quite a lot, no surprise.)

What happened? 

Well. In 2010 we won a trip to Israel through the Design Exchange, and it was fantastic. The beaches in Tel Aviv rank as one of those wildly happy places I need to go back to. The rabbit warren streets of the old city of Jerusalem. Lovely people. Lovely country. Safe. Great food. (Aware of the political/religious hot potato of it all, we just simply didn’t care.) Dead Sea, Ein Gedi, Mount of Olives where we nearly ran over a camel. That was March 2011. 

Six weeks later, I was winging it off to Amsterdam for two months, for a language course, and to meet more of my family. I had the utter fortune and generosity of a lovely little house to stay in Haarlem, and visited London UK, Den Haag, Utrecht, and Nijmegen during my stay, plus a token dash through Belgium and an amusing French Passport stamp obtained by being in that strange zone whilst crossing borders, and not actually setting foot on real French terra firma. I long to go back. My heart aches for Amsterdam in ways that can’t be silenced. It was towards the tail end of this trip that I started writing again. Think Rijksmuseum, Keukenhof,Van Gogh Museum, the Red Light District, Artis Zoo, and a day in London with a friend, who tended nicely to me as I’d completely busted an ankle and limped across London, The Museum of the Docklands, the Science and tech, the V and A, the Wellcome Collection, Natural history, and beers in Camden. 

Then. A brief respite then off to Dragoncon in Atlanta, where I think I pushed the limits of sleep deprivation to some interesting levels. I vaguely recall we taught the token adorable Brit to say in an american accent, “Strip, Bitch!” and it was all kinds of wrong and all kinds of laughing till we had tears in our eyes. 

Started classes, ( goldsmithing, never mind buying this girl jewellery, she makes the bling), and then we were off to China for two weeks, 3 days in Beijing, 2 in Xian, 5 in Shanghai. Saw the sights, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, The Water Cube and Birds Nest, The Great Wall of China, Xi’an, Terra Cotta warriors, an overdose of dumplings, running in to friends from Canada, visiting a friend working in Beijing, Shanghai, an acrobatics show, the Bund, pearl and jade markets, fakes markets, the world financial tower, and the hotel I swear, if i need to get away to write, I’ll return and no one can find me.:D 

There was an ill fated trip to DC for a friend’s wedding, where i was to go Toronto to JFK to Dulles DC, and wound up Toronto to Cinncinnatti!, to Detroit at which point I was 4 hours from home by car in 18 hrs of travel and I realized it wasn’t to be. 

So yeah. Kinda logged the air miles. Had the netbook for writing. Spent much of the layover in Hong Kong in the Cathay lounge, writing. ( we had business class tix, which is an astounding way to travel.) 

This year’s a bit subdued for my class schedule and his time off. But i have a passport. I aim to wear it out. 

So that jet wing in the clouds: That was my year last year. Not as much as some people, but for your average person, it was pretty ridiculous. and I loved every minute. I get antsy when I don’t travel. I feel it, the pull to GO PLACES. Soon. And I’ll have my writing and sketchbook, grabbing ideas and inspiration. 

Keukenhof tulip. April 2011. Beautiful, but a bit scary, no? It looks like it might bite!

Keukenhof tulip. April 2011. Beautiful, but a bit scary, no? It looks like it might bite!