Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Borrowing withour Permission - Chapter 2

Here we are, chapter two ! I'll try to post chapter three sometime next week. So read up and enjoy...

Los Angeles, California
            “I still can’t believe you did that. I mean, come on Tie, the deadbolt?” said Rem, shaking his head. He sighed, “Nicky was damn lucky to have brought that screwdriver, or your foolish oversight would have cost us the job.” From the inside pocket of his long trench coat, Rem produced a thin, plastic room key. In the blink of an eye he whipped it in and out of the tiny slot on the door. The light flashed green and Rem pushed down on the handle. He ushered me inside, then let the door slam shut behind us.
Harping on me was so easy for this guy. He was the boss, so I guess he was entitled to it. Making a mistake as “foolish” as mine had apparently never happened to him before. That was Rem for you though– everything came to him with painful ease. I suppose perfection comes with time and experience, but still. Clearly it paid to be one of the most accomplished thieves in all of Europe.
“Me! In case you hadn’t noticed, Clark nearly tripped ten floor sensors because his shoe laces were untied,” I exclaimed.
I walked into the hotel room’s living area, enveloping myself from my black leather jacket and tossing it on the man sitting in the nearest armchair: Clark. He was a tall, lanky man with broad shoulders and sparkling blue eyes. I know, kind of Barbie Ken cliché, but he wasn’t giving me much to work with. Thank god his hair was chocolate brown and not golden blond. I was convinced the rest of his family had to be blond though, because for a brunette, Clark had more than your average amount of blond moments. Despite his denser periods, Clark was still a hell of a pickpocket.   
“Nice job checking the basics Clarks. I thought we all had shoe laces down since elementary school, or did we need to buy you sneakers with Velcro instead?” I asked cocking an eyebrow, before plopping into a dining table chair.
Clark lifted his arm to throw my jacket to the ground, but catching my look, decided to gently set it across the arm of the loveseat. That didn’t stop him however from flashing me the middle finger.
“Twenty bucks says his fly was down the whole time too,” called Nicky, who lay sprawled over the other embroidered armchair. Now Nicky did have blond hair, but he was nothing like Barbie Ken. His hair had a kind of short side swept quality to it that made the rest of his facial features seem very sharp and angular. He had a long, toned body; all legs and arms.
“Anyway, quit scolding Tie. Her mistake didn’t do that much damage. At least she remembers to turn on the dishwasher before we leave to do a job. Luca forgot again,” said Nicky glaring over at Luca who sat curled up on the loveseat. “Man, you didn’t even load the wet towels from the washing machine to the dryer,” he called jokingly, grinning ear to ear. “Exactly how many times did I tell you?”  
 I’ve known Luca for over three years, but I’ve never really known him. He doesn’t elaborate, he doesn’t embellish, and he doesn’t even exaggerate. He just cuts himself short. This used to lead me to believe he was hiding something and was sworn to secrecy. His silence obviously did nothing but stoke my curiosity. Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve barley made a dent in his armour. Luca was a mystery alright, but I’ve learned to leave him be and to just take the essential information he gives. Besides, in this business, you have the right to remain silent.         
Rem strolled into the kitchen and rested his forearms on the granite counter top. His salt and pepper hair seemed to be increasing in salt and the faint wrinkles around his eyes and forehead had no doubt been etched deeper over the past few weeks. Peering across the living area, Rem scrutinized his team; myself, Clarks, Luca and Nicky. Worry darted across his face. It came and went in no more than a second, but we had all noticed.
“Come on Remy, relax. We’re all professionals here, I’m sure we pulled it off,” said Nicky, always being the first to comfort, defend or accuse someone. He was our social butterfly. 
“To be honest, these guys were pretty thick. Who opens up a high-priced jewellery store just blocks from the busiest port in the United States? They were practically asking to be cased. Besides, we implemented the best Three Men and a Baby I’ve ever seen,” concluded Nicky crossing his arms.
Rem sighed.
“Regardless, I’ll be happiest tomorrow morning when we’re on that one-way plane out of Los Angeles. I always am.”
“We all are, Rem,” I said, stretching my arms to the ceiling and rolling my head over my shoulders. Man, was I going to have knots tomorrow, especially after this last job. I pulled off my thick grey boots, and then tugged the elastic from my auburn hair, letting it fall in wisps along my back.
“What happened to taking risks, living on the edge, playing the game?” asked Nicky, his voice rising a little in a sudden desperation to excite the team. “You mean to tell me that you didn’t have the least bit of fun tonight. We were careful, precise, and tactful. The owners won’t even realise anything is missing until tomorrow morning, by which time we’ll all be on our way out of here.”
“Nicky, I’ve spent my entire life a thief. My father was one, my father’s father was one, and even his father was one – it was the family business. And throughout the past sixty years I’ve pulled some of the greatest heists in history. I’m a legend in Europe, so I moved to North America and still managed to make a name for myself. So shut up - I can be worried if I want,” said Rem listlessly.
He turned his back on Nicky and I, wheeling around to open the fridge. Containers slid down the door’s shelves and glass jars clinked against each other. Nicky mouthed “arrogant”, then pivoted back to the living room and sat down next to Luca.
“Hey Luca, I got a joke for you. This guy down at the post office told me about it and I thought it was, you know, pretty clever. Okay, so there’s this pickpocket and he’s finally been caught after committing a number of crimes. When the judge says, Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t lock you up, the pickpocket goes, It wasn’t me – my right arm stole the wallet and it’s not fair that I should be held responsible for something my right arm did. The judge decides to play along and says I sentence your right arm to ten years hard labour then. And do you know what the pickpocket does? He rips off his artificial arm, throws it on the judge’s bench, and walks free!”
Nicky could barely stifle his giggles, a ridiculous crooked grin plastered across his face. Luca gazed at Nicky for a moment. He glanced at the ground then lifted his eyes to meet mine, eyebrows lifted.
I shrugged.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kelley Armstrong - the outstanding, the overwhelming, the otherworldly

As you may have noticed, I'm a huge fan of Canadian author, Kelley Armstrong. When I was younger, I wasn't always an avid reader, but when I discovered Kelley Armstrong's young adult series, The Darkest Powers, I knew instantly that I was destined to be one.  To my utmost joy, I was promptly swept of my feet by the excitement and adventure of the novel. I became an enthusiastic reader of anything Kelley Armstrong and quickly uncovered her elegantly evil adult series, The Women of the Otherworld, which I adore even more.

For those of you who have been living under a rock all your lives, The Woman of the Otherworld is a fantasy series in which werewolves, witches, sorcerers, vampires, necromancers and half-demons interact in the today's human world. You'll find yourself caught up in an action packed adventure, a  perplexing mystery, or a bloodcurdling escape plan.

While I enjoy every character of The Women of the Otherworld series, I must say Elena Michaels, the only known female werewolf, and the other pack werewolves are by far my favourites. I feel like they're the original cast, having been featured in the first two novels, Bitten and Stolen. Kelley Armstrong depicts the pack werewolves beautifully. They aren't brutish and buff (well, except for Clay, Elena's lover), but they're confident, clever, witty and always, always hilariously sarcastic (Oh, how I love the sarcasm). Plus, when I read about any character in the series, be it a werewolf, a witch, a half-demon, or a necromancer, I am astounded by the realism that is brought to each novel. I mean, these characters could be anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

Oh, and the horror aspect! There is always just the right amount of gore - never leaving you disappointed, but not going as far as making you sick. Truly, she has manages to keep the gore in a lovely balance with the rest of the novel. The creepy Oh God Don't Open the Closet Door bits are just perfect. One of the main reasons The Women of The Otherworld  series is one of my favourites, if not my favourite, is because of the novel's quick and entertaining pace. You get just enough information, but you don't find yourself skimming through pages and pages of the discription of a single room. That's probably why reading turned me off when I was really young.

Of course, just because you spent the night finishing of a very fast paced novel, doesn't necessarily mean you're going to stick around for the next one. That's where the characters come in. And the characters are mind blowing. Whenever I finish one of Kelley Armstrong's novels, I always think I've found my all time favourite character. Then I start the next novel and find a whole new character that I just can't stop thinking about!

But like I said before, I was first hooked on Kelley Armstrong's young adult series, The Darkest Powers, before The Women of the Otherworld series. The Darkest Powers series is a trilogy that follows Chloe Saunders, fifteen-year-old girl and her group of friends as they try to escape and flee the clutches of the Edison Group, a team of scientists intent on experimenting on supernaturals.

The Darkest Powers is as equally entertaining as The Women of the Otherworld and as full of excitement and adventure. Personally I prefer The Women of the Otherworld, but that's simply due to the more mature, developed details of the novels (as it is the adult series).
While Kelley Armstrong is still popping out books for the Women of the Otherworld (and I pray that she will continue to do so), The Darkest Powers trilogy has actually come to a close. Fortunately the beginning of a follow up trilogy called Darkness Rising has just realised it's first novel, The Gathering. This series is still about the Edison Group's experiments, only the books take place on Vancouver Island and are narrated by a young girl, Maya Delaney. Other then The Darkness series' and the Otherworld series, Kelley has written numerous short stories and serial novellas that can be read for free online at her website, http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/
Here is a list of the novels that can be found in The Women the Otherworld series and The Darkness series'.

The Woman of the Otherworld:

1. Bitten (2001)
2. Stolen (2002)
3. Dime Store Magic (2004)
4. Industrial Magic (2004)
5. Haunted (2005)
6. Broken (2006)
7. No Humans Involved (2007)
8. Personal Demon (2008)
9. Living with the Dead (2008)
10. Frostbitten (2009)
11. Waking the Witch (2010)
12. Spellbound (to be realised August, 2011)

The Darkest Powers:

1. The Summoning (2008)
2. The Awakening (2009)
3. The Reckoning (2010)

Darkness Rising:

1. The Gathering (2011)
2. The Calling (to be realised April, 2012)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Borrowing without Permission - Chapter 1

As promised, here is the first chapter from the novel I'm writing. It hasn't been edited yet, so please forgive any blaring mistakes. Hope you enjoy!

New York, New York
The convenience store was a little shack of a building that stood on the corner of the empty street.  It had no doubt been a beauty in its youth, but time and weather had aged the building, and newer stores opening just around the corner had left it forgotten. The windows were plastered with public service posters and marker drawn graffiti. I pushed open the splintered door, walked into the convenience store and found exactly what I had expected: an empty store, a single cashier and dirty grey and black tiling.
The startled cashier looked up from her magazine and watched as I walked down the aisles of merchandise. I could feel her gaze boring into the back of my neck and I knew that working in a store like this, she probably had little experience with customers. Perfect.
I was looking for something in particular, but there wasn’t much to choose from. Other than a few aisles of junk food and a rack of magazines and newspapers, the only things sold were items for personnel hygiene. I glanced at the counter, where the cashier was still sneaking peeks my way. A little box of pens sat next to the cash register, with a sign posted on the front that read $1.00 each. I gradually made my way to the counter, pretending to be still contemplating the articles around me.
When I reached the cashier, she tried to act like a confident little employee, like she’d done this a million times, when I knew for a fact she hadn’t.  She was shifting her weight side to side, I sign of restlessness and she repeatedly tucked an invisible strand of hair behind her ear. And while her blinking rate was completely off, all it took was one good look in her eyes, and I knew for a fact she was bursting with excitement over my presence.  
I smiled at her. She smiled back. This was going to be too easy. Where was the fun in that?
“Can I help you with something?” she asked. Oh, she sure could.
I grabbed a black ballpoint pen from the box and set it on the counter. “Yes, I’d like to buy this,” I answered politely, pretending to examine the pen, like I was still ensure of whether or not I should go with the blue one instead.
“Will that be all for you today ma’am?”
“Yes, please.”
“Then you’re total comes to $1.00,” she said, dutifully speaking the rehearsed line.
I smiled again, then handed her a ten dollar bill. The cash register dinged open, but when she handed me my change in bills I exclaimed, “Oh no, you shouldn’t worry yourself with the change, I really don’t need it.” I waited for her to insist I take the money, and then on script, reluctantly let her place it in my hand.
As I leafed through my wallet, I painted on a worried expression and said, “I’m sorry to make this harder than it has to be, but do you think I could exchange that ten dollar bill I just gave you, for ten one dollar bills?”
“Oh, it’s no problem,” she replied. I handed over my pile of bills in exchange for the ten dollar bill, which I tucked safely away in my wallet. “So does this place liven up later on? Or am I your excitement for the day?”
“Yeah, you’re pretty much as exciting as it gets around here. Well, except for when the paperboy comes around with the weekly newspapers...uh...I mean...”
I giggled like a scandalized schoolgirl. The cashier gave a shaky chuckle and then began to count the bills, her cheeks reddening. She counted them twice over, and then said, “I think you may have given me nineteen dollars instead of ten.”
            “Did I? Oh, thank you very much for catching my mistake. That was so kind of you! Here, I’ll add another dollar to that nineteen, and you can give me back a twenty.” We exchanged bills and I took my pen. Before I could turn away, she exclaimed yet again.
“Wait! I’m so sorry; I almost forgot your receipt. I didn’t even ring it up.”
“Don’t worry about it; I don’t need a receipt for a one dollar pen,” I started to leave, and then stopped and smiled. “Thanks again, you did a great job. I’ll definitely be coming back here.”
Once outside, I pulled the collar of my burgundy trench coat closer and tied the belt tighter around my waist. Winter was coming and with it, crisp winds and cloudy skies. Walking back up the empty street of miscellaneous shops, towards the quaint coffee shops, soaring skyscrapers and brand name electronic stores, I plunged my hand into my coat pocket, and fished around for my wallet. As I pulled it out, I thumbed through the contents and extracted nine one dollar bills. The same nine one dollar bills the cashier had just given me without even realising it. I smiled. She was probably smiling too, back at the convenience store. We both had our reasons; she had doubtlessly just made her first sale in months, and thanks to her, I was now nine dollars richer - not bad for ten minutes work.    


Now, I guess I have to apologize for basically abandoning my blog, but to be honest, I had far to much on my plate to really get into the act of blogging. But don't worry I'm back! And I have read quite a few novels in this period of time. I have also written quite a few stories. Well, I guess technically I only started a few stories - I haven't actually finished a full novel yet. But anyhow, I was thinking I would post some excerpts from my stories and see what you think...