The Shepherd Wolf

Every full moon, the wolf would appear to devour another sheep — it was the way of things.

Always at night and always hungry, the wolf would appear to chase the herd until one could run no longer. When it fell behind, the wolf took the weakest sheep into its powerful jaws and disappeared into the night.

While most of the sheep looked away, one did not. It watched, saw how frightened the other sheep were, and offered comfort to others.

But the wolf noticed the sheep that watched, and on the night when the moon became darkest, it came and took it away.

“Why do you watch?” the wolf asked, not yet having devoured the sheep.

“To understand,” it replied. “There must be a secret that can save us all.”

The wolf laughed. “I will reveal my secret, for it cannot save anyone.” With that, the wolf became a sheep.

“You’re one of us,” the sheep gasped.

“One need not be seen as a wolf all of the time, but it is ever what I am inside. You see such things and that is dangerous to me, but you will watch no longer.”

The wolf bit the sheep, and the sheep fell into a deep slumber.

When the sheep awoke, the wolf was gone, and so the sheep wandered back to the herd. No one in the herd had ever survived such an attack, and a few accused the sheep of bargaining with the wolf, for how else could it survive? The sheep denied the accusation but could not speak the whole truth, for it understood it would be shunned.

wolfchallengeOn the next full moon, the wolf returned. When the herd scattered, the spared sheep did not run.

“Join the hunt,” the wolf commanded, and the sheep became a wolf as well.

The fear from the herd was palpable upon seeing two wolves, and the sheep smelled delicious to the predators, but the new wolf turned and faced the old wolf down.

“Why fight me when there are sheep for the taking?” the old wolf asked.

The new wolf answered, “Because I remember being one of the sheep, and I will watch no longer.”

And it became the way of things.

Copyright © 2016 Kevin A. Ranson. All Rights Reserved.

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It felt like a parable kind of day today.

You can buy an art print of the image here.

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“A Third Choice” (A Matriarch Short Story)

A Matriarch short story by Kevin A. Ranson

JanissStakeOnlyYes, it hurts. Believe me, I know. Keeping as still as possible is the best thing you can do right now.

Ironic, isn’t it? A piece of wood sticking out of your chest isn’t killing you, but it’s causing so much pain you probably wish it would.

I’ll also apologize for all the motion. We’ve taken precautions, but being inside a moving vehicle makes it more difficult.

Of course, the best idea is I could remove that stake…but there would be conditions.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been staked before or even how long you’ve been a vampire, but from the way you were being treated by your sire, we guessed it wasn’t voluntary. Those kinds of relationships rarely end well, so we interceded. You watched us destroy your maker, but we both know what stays in our heads. Yes, I still have a little of mine,too.

Besides that, the other thing you’ll have to worry about is yourself.

Continue reading ““A Third Choice” (A Matriarch Short Story)”

Realistic Edible Fake Blood: My Tweaked Recipe

FakeBloodFakeOwYou can buy fake blood, but it usually isn’t edible. For a character cosplay I’ve been working on for conventions, I wanted a sophisticated, dapper, vampire-about-town…walking about with a wine glass filled with his preferred drink of choice. To look good up close, you need something dark red but not fake looking, thick and sticky like it’s just starting to clot, and believably cloudy. And hey, shouldn’t it be delicious?

Starting with three recipes I pulled from online, none of them gave me exactly the effect I was looking for. The chocolate-flavored ones seem to yield the best consistency (and taste), where one drop will hang on to the end of your finger forever, shiny and full of life.

Realistic Edible Fake Blood, Dark

  • Yield: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1-1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 20 drops red gel food coloring
  • 1 drop blue gel food coloring

Instructions:

  1. In a glass mixing bowl, add the 1/2 cup light corn syrup.
  2. Add the 20 gel drops of red and 1 of blue (do NOT use too much blue). Mix until blended; looking good already!
  3. A little at a time, add in equal amounts of cocoa powder and corn starch. These provide consistency, cloudiness, and flavor. Allow time to mix these in; the longer you stir, the better it looks up close. Watch for clumps and crush them in!
  4. Pour into a sealed container and store in fridge until needed.

Notes: I tried using regular pancake syrup as a base and chocolate syrup instead of powder, but the cloudiness doesn’t look as good. The color is only slightly off in artificial lighting but great in sunlight; that may be due to the brand of food coloring I’m using. I’ll try a few different ones in the future to see if it makes a difference.

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What’s a Vampire? No, a REAL Vampire.

FangsAlotWhen someone says “You’re like a vampire!” to a living person, that’s a simile, a comparison using like or as. When some says “You’re a vampire!” to a living person, that’s a metaphor, a comparison NOT using like or as. Living people are not actual vampires because vampires are DEAD THINGS that, by definition, are not alive – otherwise, they would not be a vampire. Feel free to compare all you like, but the following is the ONLY definition of a vampire:

vam·pire

/ˈvamˌpī(ə)r/
noun
a mystically animated corpse that imitates its living victims so it can feed off of their blood.

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I Hope to Never Meet One of My Own Vampires

JanissReadingJanissSome of you may be aware of the Vampire Community, not just fans of the genre who embrace the lifestyle but those who believe themselves to be actual vampires. Psychic vampires absolutely exist, stealing your energy or lending it with their very presence, but I’m not talking about (to quote Ian from The Matriarch) “a mystically animated corpse that imitates the living so (it) can feed off of it.” Do they exist? I hope not – both for my sake and their own – because if they ever find out I created their world and inflicted them with their condition, I wholly expect them to be rather pissed off at me.

What I am saying is this: as a fiction writer, I do not believe what I create is real anywhere but on the page. These characters exist in my mind and that is what I share, and there are things I write about I wouldn’t wish on anyone…but, alas, such atrocities make for interesting storytelling.

I also don’t hate anyone calling themselves a vampire, but like an organized religion, there are a FEW who take it upon themselves to wage a personal crusade to say “yours isn’t real because *I* am real.” The Bard’s phrase “the lady doth protest too much” fully applies here with the same level of annoyance as believers knocking on your door Saturday morning to tell you “the good news” about our Lord and Savior (we all have our little illusions; far be it from me to take away yours).

Finally, we all wear masks, and the first step in any personal change is to act the part; it isn’t a far stretch of the imagination to think the human mind can convince itself of anything (Nic Cage’s “Vampire’s Kiss” comes to mind as an example) until the mask becomes the truth. All of this said, however, no vampire character I have ever created would log onto a social network expressly for the purpose of convincing the world that they’re real; it is far more likely they’ll deny everything and smile at the ones screaming in all caps across the internet.

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First Draft of The Matriarch III is Complete! #amwriting

TheMatriarch3WorkingTitleLogoSmall58,800 words written in 48 days completes the first draft of this third book (out of a planned four-book series). Now it’s time for a well-earned step away, letting the words settle on the page for a bit before trading “good enough for now” up to “as near to perfect as any mere mortal can hope to be.”

Like the first two novels, I have strived to infuse as many human elements as possible into this vampire story. There are plenty of individual elements, but to bring the adventure to life, the risks and the rewards, you must also show love, hate, fear, surprise, betrayal, jealousy, and all the rest. Plot is what happens to our characters; story is how it affects them.

Coming soon: the official title, the actual cover, chapter teasers, and the publication date! As always, there is plenty more information and other goodies at Cedarcrest Sanctum.

I cannot wait to show you what I’ve been working on!

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Much Ado About Vampires: Writing The Matriarch III

Whether you love or hate the Bard…or vampires.

TheMatriarch3WorkingTitleLogoSmallWhen I expanded my stand-alone vampire novel into a book series, it required me to re-envision the first novel as “part one” to create a story progression (don’t you hate when a great story falls apart at the end?) I tried to think of The Matriarch as a trilogy, but it was going to take four books to get to the ending I wanted and wrap everything up with a bow.

This meant each self-contained novel – intended to be enjoyable unto itself – had to seed the entire arc to show the main character progression, especially in her capabilities and the challenges she would have to overcome. Those knowing the story line of my current work in progress, the untitled third, have dubbed it “Shakespearean” in reference to characters withholding critical information that escalates the situation. The Matriarch: Guardians did this, too, but to a much smaller degree.

It’s a classic and flexible trope: if Boy-X would have just told Girl-Y about Suitor-3, Villain-Z wouldn’t have tried to kill Girl-Y over the perceived slight from Boy-X. Then there’s my favorite: the character who knows everybody’s secrets but keeps them to manipulate others and/or just enjoy the show. If we would all just learn to talk to one another, we wouldn’t have to go around threatening to kill everyone…I know, I know: where’s the fun in that?

The first draft of The Matriarch III is nearly complete! I credit Linda S. Cowden with the title of this post; I love my wife!

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