Relatable Vampires

My dad worked as a night foreman for the Santa Fe railroad when I was a kid. He would wake up in the morning and drive me to school, then go home and sleep until it was time to get ready for work. For most of my childhood, I saw him for breakfast and that drive to school. He suffered a heart attack in 1980. He was 52 and I was 13. While he was on the road to recovery, I took walks with him and, for the first time in my life, really started to get to know him as a person and not just as “dad.” A couple of months later, he had a second heart attack and died. I buried myself in my love of astronomy and science fiction as a way to cope. Eventually, I started operating telescopes for a living, working at night like my dad did. It was in this part of my life that I was first introduced to vampire fiction. Not surprisingly, part of the appeal was the notion of living forever and not being susceptible to human diseases. Plus, I was already a creature of the night, so it seemed like I was halfway there!

Last week, I read Lisa Dominique Machat’s short novel, A Walk in the Sun. The novel introduces us to Nicholas Justine, a young British aristocrat in the nineteenth century whose mother died in childbirth. Justine’s father is distant and tends to only to appear at night. At seventeen, he gets word of his father’s death. Soon after, he meets a childhood acquaintance, Elena, but before he can propose marriage to her, he’s tempted to investigate a mysterious night circus for a book he’s writing. He never reaches the circus, but instead meets a vampire who transforms him. As time passes, Elena is betrothed to a man she doesn’t want to marry. Nicholas and Elena agree to run away to Paris. Paris seems the perfect place for Nicholas and Elena until they cross paths with an evil sorcerer named Count Victor Du Fay, who has his sights set on Elena.

Over the course of the story, Nicholas does learn more about his father. It should come as no surprise that I found that story arc relatable. I also enjoy stories about good vampires and I thought it was interesting to see Nicholas pitted against a very powerful, albeit human and mortal sorcerer. As it turns out, Lisa Dominique Machat is the owner of Vampire Vineyards. I was introduced to their wine through Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans and I thought there was a clever tie-in with Nicholas and the vineyards in the epilogue. There’s a time gap between the last chapter and the epilogue and certainly room for another story about how Nicholas’s connection to the vineyard came about. I enjoyed this little connection to the real world. It’s something that will make me smile next time I enjoy a glass of Vampire Merlot or even a cup of Vampire coffee. You can learn more about the vineyards and their products at https://www.vampire.com

My goal as I start my next book, Ordeal of the Scarlet Order, will be to keep my vampires as relatable as Nicholas in A Walk in the Sun. You can, of course, meet Alexandra the vampire thief in Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order Vampires and Daniel the vampire astronomer is Vampires of the Scarlet Order.

Different Dragons II

Wolfsinger Publishing has just released the anthology Different Dragons II, which includes my short story “The Dragon’s Keepers.” Here’s the description of the book.


What happens when dragons are dropped unexpectedly on your front door step from a company you’ve never heard of? In China, a dragon comes up with a unique solution on what to do with all those maidens! Different-Dragons-II An amusement park is hounded by a sea monster the Indians had been feeding for centuries. Haunted by a ghostly dragon, a young woman flees across the snow wilderness, terrified her slaughter of the beasts means her own death. A family is murdered in the Middle East, and a dragon promises a young girl vengeance for their deaths. Are there dragons on a spaceship? You bet! Not to mention an usual dragon ride one pilot will never forget! And let’s not forget, how dragons can appear to be something they’re not, when protecting themselves or their family, from hidden magical dangers. These and other tales await within these pages of Different Dragons II.


In my short story “The Slayers,” I imagined a world where airship crews hunted dragons for the fuel that allows them to breathe fire. In “The Dragon’s Keepers,” I imagine that an airship captain of this world has come to realize dragons are intelligent and must be preserved. He has joined the fight to prevent the wanton destruction of dragons. With the help of a wizard’s daughter, he must find a way to stop a ritual dragon slaying.

Here’s the complete table of contents for the anthology:

  • “Introduction: These are the Tales” by Dana Bell
  • “The Dragon’s Keepers” by David Lee Summers
  • “The Stalker” by Lynn Donovan
  • “Such is the Jungle” by Quincy Allen
  • “Changling” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle
  • “Suntosun Shipping” by G.L. Francis
  • “Of the Generation” by Therese Arkenberg
  • “Dot’s Lunch – The Watchers along the Line” by Dave With
  • “His Lucky Color is Gold” by Rebecca Leo
  • “Hargmir, Ghost of Dragons” by David Turnbull
  • “Space Wings” by H.A. Titus
  • “Asim’s Gift” by Kathryn S. Renta
  • “Mr. Long’s School for Girls” by Rob S. Rice
  • “Bessie Returns” by Christine Hardy
  • “Amélie’s Guardian” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

SummersTheSlayers

Different Dragons II is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords. What’s more, if you buy the book from Smashwords enter the code ED26N on checkout for a 25% discount as long as you visit before October 15. If you’d like to go back and read my other story set in this fantasy world, “The Slayers” is available as a stand-alone short story at Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Finally, as a reminder to those friends in Las Cruces, I am signing books today from 10am until noon at COAS Books Downtown. I hope you’ll drop in and say “hi!”

Collaborations

This past weekend saw the release of the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 2 edited by Phyllis Irene Radford. The release of the anthology marks something of a milestone for me in that it contains the first collaborative story I’ve published. The story is “Endeavor in Halcyon” and I wrote it with Kurt MacPhearson.

Gears and Levers 2

“Endeavor in Halcyon” tells the story of Captain Penelope Todd of the East India Company’s Airship Endeavor. She is on a mission to find new trading routes when her ship gets caught in a mysterious storm and they are hurled into a strange new world.

This was an interesting collaboration because although Kurt and I have corresponded off and on over the years, we have never met face-to-face. He lives in Michigan and I live in New Mexico. The way this collaboration happened is that he suggested writing a story together. I had written the beginning of the story, but wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go with it, so I sent it to him. He wrote a couple of pages and sent it back. It went on that way for about three or four times until we came to a place we both thought was a satisfying conclusion. We then took turns polishing the story before sending it in to Ms. Radford. I was pleased she liked the story enough to buy it.

What else will you find in the anthology? Adventure and romance await in worlds that never were but should have been. Magic and science blend together as Gears and Levers explores the quest for all that makes up humanity. Battle pirates, walk with ghosts, fly in dirigibles, explore the wonderous world, and walk with automatons in twenty amazing tales set in Steampunk lands by masterful storytellers such as Alma Alexander, Chaz and Karen Brenchley, Shawna Reppert, Larry Lefkowitz, Tina Connolly, Jeanette Bennett, Voss Foster, Frog and Esther Jones, and many more. The anthology is available at Smashwords and Amazon.

At the same time as this book was being released, I was engaged in a collaboration of a different sort. Last weekend marked the third time Dino Staats and I have presented a Victorian Magic and Science panel. So far, no two of these have been alike.

Dino and David

The first time we presented this panel was on the Queen Mary a year ago and we were joined by Professor D.R. Schreiber who had a Windhurt generator and a great perspective on how the history of magic and science intertwine. In that panel, we focused a lot on the magic and science of electricity.

The second time we presented the panel was at San Diego’s Gaslight Gathering. There, much of the discussion focused on chemistry and biology and how they were utilized in magic.

Last weekend, Dino and I were again on the Queen Mary. This time we focused a lot of our discussion on the clockwork automata of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

What’s exciting about these is that Dino and I never rehearse our presentation and really aren’t certain what the other will present. In fact, the first time, neither of the magicians even knew I had been assigned to the Magic and Science panel! For the latter panels, Dino and I have maybe exchanged an email or two about what would be fun to discuss and what would make the panel a little different for people who have seen it before.

Both of these collaborations have left me enriched. I’ve learned new things, improved as a writer and public speaker—and what’s more, I’ve forged friendships that I hope will last for years to come.