Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Forrest Wollinsky: Vampire Hunter Vol. I by Leonard D Hilley II

Forrest Wollinsky:
Vampire Hunter Vol. One
Leonard D. Hilley II

Genre: YA Friendly; Urban Fantasy/Paranormal 

Publisher: Nocturnal Trinity Press

Date of Publication: March 13, 2016


Number of pages: 266
Word Count: ~83,000

Book Description: 

"Killing Vampires Since 1888." 

I was born in Bucharest in 1880 in the heart of the vampire population. At eight years old, I was considered a freak of nature since I was already the size of an adult male. Other children my age, and some of my teachers, shunned me. 

Being rejected by one’s peers cuts deeply. Then I met my first werewolf and discovered a master vampire was plotting to kill me because of what I am. From that moment, my destiny stole my future aspirations all men grow up wanting. 

This is how my destiny begins.

Chapter One
The Beginning
Bucharest, 1888

The wind howled like an awakening banshee as it swirled and lashed around our snow-covered cottage nestled in the barren trees at the edge of the forest. I was only eight years old, but it was the harshest winter in my one hundred and thirty-odd year memory.
My father had been gone for several days, which wasn’t unusual. Mother had said that he was hunting and should return soon, but the blizzard had set in with a fury, burying the roads, fields, and the forest floor beneath several feet of snow. Wherever he was, he’d be stuck for quite some time.
Snowdrifts lined three sides of our meager cottage and the snowstorm had barely started. The outside layers of snow helped insulate our rugged home. The warmth of the fire felt like the heat of summer, making it almost easy to forget about the freezing howling winds outside.
The hearth fire crackled softly under a black bubbling pot of rabbit stew. Garlic cloves were strung together above a basket of dried yams. We had enough food to last out the week, which made me wonder why my father had chosen to hunt during the worst of the blizzard.
My mother sat in her creaky rocker and was sewing a new coat for me from rabbit hides. Only eight, I was as husky and tall as a young man in his teens. It seemed that I outgrew my clothes about as quickly as she could make new ones.
While she sewed, I sat near the fire and sharpened a long curved dagger my father had given me. He had traded fox hides for the blade, and I expected to soon use it whenever my father returned with his kill.
A slight pause in the winds caused my mother to stop rocking. She leaned slightly forward and cocked her head to the side. The curious frown on her face caught my attention. I set down the whetstone and rose to my feet.
A gentle rapping at the door was faintly noticeable since the winds had quieted, and probably would have gone completely unnoticed had they continued to whistle. But there it was again.
A bit bolder, but not overly pronounced or with desperation.
With my dagger gripped in my hand I eased toward the door. Confusion furrowed my mother’s brow. She set her quilt aside and held her scissors to her side, ready to help fend off whatever danger awaited outside that door.
Stepping to the side of the door, I lifted the metal latch that secured the door and eased it against the door panel, careful to be silent.
Without fear, I grabbed the large oval handle and yanked open the door. A whoosh of cold air sprang forward, sucking out our much-treasured heat.
On the path directly outside the door, the snow was stained crimson beneath the gray overcast sky. A trail of blood cut farther down the path into the forest. Large heavy snowflakes dropped, steadily trying to erase the blood path. No other tracks were in the snow. No bandits or attackers were visible amongst the snowy tree trunks. The bloody path ended at the door where the body lay.
A desperate weak hand shook, reaching up for me.
“John!” my mother shouted, running across the room to the door.
In terror I stared down into my father’s haunted eyes, barely recognizing him. His face was battered, and his eyes were swollen nearly shut. Blood caked in his graying beard. His useless legs twisted behind him. How far he had crawled or how he had managed to do so with the amount of blood he had lost? It was a mystery then, and remains so even to this day. By every means he should have been dead, long before he got to the door, but his stubborn determination enabled him to ignore his pain and fight to pull himself back home.
I sheathed my dagger and grabbed his nearly frozen hand, heaving him out of the snow and across the threshold. Mother quickly closed and secured the door when we were safely inside.
My father’s cold hand fell from my grip and a huge sigh gushed from his mouth as he lost consciousness.
“Father?” I asked, dropping to my knees in front of him. Blood trickled from his nose. I glanced toward Momma. “What happened to him?”
“Get him to the bed,” she said, wiping away tears.
Placing my hands beneath his underarms, I lifted, pulling him up enough to wrap my arms around his chest until he was upright. His body was cold, but the heat of his leaking wounds stuck to me. I cringed. So much blood. I fought tears. He was dying. Had to be. Nothing lost so much blood and survived.
My father wasn’t a massive man, like he and my mother always insisted I would become. He actually weighed less than I and was several inches shorter. In spite of his stature, he was a crafty fighter, capable of defending himself against men twice his size. Stout and thinly muscular, he had incredible strength and feared no one.
For once, I was proud of my abnormally large size and his lack thereof. I hefted him and walked toward the bed, his boots scraping the wooden floor as I moved. Gurgling sounds rumbled in his throat.
“A bear?” I asked, looking at her. “Was he attacked by a bear?”
Mother brought a pail of lukewarm water and set it by the bed. She shook her head and tore strips of cloth.
I eased my father onto the bed and laid him back. He gasped and groaned in pain, but his eyes never opened.
“Strip off his coat,” she said. “His boots, too.”
I quickly obeyed.
She peeled back his shirt, revealing long gashes across his chest and abdomen. The lacerations were too narrow to be from bear claws, but the cuts were dark and deep. Older white scars were visible. On his chest above his heart was the singed outline of a cross. Two puncture marks near his shoulder were swollen, bruised. Two dark dots.
“What did this?” I asked, pointing at the wound. My fingers almost touched the marks, and she slapped my hand away.
“No!” she gasped.
“What kind of animal could do this?”
Her dark eyes were hollowed from fear. She was paler than normal and seemed more delicate.
“Mother, please tell me what did this to Father?”
She took a damp cloth and washed blood from his nose and beard. With another cloth, she washed his forehead. Tears heated her eyes. She spat out a word with complete contempt as she whispered, “Vampire.”
My chest tightened. Anger rippled inside me. “A vampire attacked him while he was hunting game?”
“No,” she replied. “He was hunting the vampire.”
“It is his calling, his duty. Magistrates and governors seek him out to kill vampires. They pay in gold and silver coins.”
I stared at my father’s frail body. His chest rose and fell with shallow breaths. “Why has he never told me?”
“To protect you.”
“From what?”
She nodded.
Frowning, I asked, “Why would they wish to harm me? My schoolmates tell tales that are quite scary. I’d never venture into one of their lairs.”
“You’re like your father, but you’re too young. In time you’ll be as fearless as he.”
“Too young for what, Mother?”
“To train to hunt the vampires.”
My eyes widened and fastened upon my father’s incapacitated body. He was barely alive. The possibility that he would die during the night was greater than the chance of him surviving his injuries. I didn’t think I was foolish enough to pursue the fanged demons of the night. Trained or not, hunting vampires was destined to become a short-lived profession.
“His legs are broken,” I said.
She nodded. “I know.”
Tears streamed down my mother’s cheeks. She cried quietly without calling attention to herself. I took a damp cloth and pressed it against one of the lacerations across my father’s stomach. I hoped the pressure might stop the bleeding. Some of the cuts were scabbing, but the two puncture wounds pulsed softly, in rhythm with his faint heartbeat. It was unnerving to witness, as if the injuries were alive, feeding off of his body.
While I held the cloth, her eyes widened. She rushed from the side of the bed and ran to black water pot near the hearth. She was back in seconds.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Momma was too frantic for words. She turned my father’s head to the side, pried open his mouth, and black blood oozed out. She took the damp cloth and inserted it into his mouth with her finger. She swirled her cloth-covered finger around the inside of his mouth like one washed a dish. When she pulled out the cloth, it was saturated with more of the dark blood.
“Is he bleeding that badly?” I asked.
She shook her head. “It’s not his blood.”
“Under the bed,” she said softly. “Get the box.”
I lowered to my knees and peered under the bed. I grabbed the handle and pulled the heavy suitcase box out, scraping the floor loudly.
I lifted the heavy box and set it on the edge of the bed.
“Open it,” she said.
I did.
Inside of the box were several sharp wooden stakes, a wooden mallet, a silver cross, glass vials filled with powder, and more glass vials filled with clear liquid. My mother took one vial of the liquid, read the label, and popped the cork. She walked around to the other side of the bed.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“The puncture marks have to be purified and cleansed. Or your father will become a vampire.”
“The bite somehow causes the victim to turn. Don’t ask me how. Your father would know but—” Her voice broke into sobs.
I wanted to tell her that he was going to be okay, but I couldn’t tell a lie that convincingly. His condition was severe. No way to deny it.
Then the revelation gripped me. I suddenly realized his injuries were intentionally far worse than I had imagined. The vampire who had inflicted the damage upon my father intended for him to die so that he, too, would become a vampire.
“What’s in the vial?” I asked.
“Holy water.”
“That will cure him?”
Mother replied, “If we can fully cleanse the wound, it’s possible that we can save him. But, it’s painful for him to endure. In his weakened condition, the cure might well kill him.”
“And if that should happen?”
“You will have to drive a stake through his heart. I can’t . . . I simply can’t do it.”
Stunned, I looked into her eyes with uncertainty, questioning. She nodded solemnly. I knew the depth of her love for my father prevented her from killing him, even if he were to turn, but I wondered if I was capable. Could I drive a stake through the heart of my father? In the matter of age, I was still a boy, struggling with a problem that only an adult should have to consider. I had to shoulder the responsibility but how?
My review 
Well I can't help but be reminded of Abe Lincoln Vampire hunter- the movie- a little bit. We meet Forrest when he's young. He's from the old days and lives in his family's farm. And when something happens to his dad, he realizes he's a vampire hunter. And very young, events cause him to learn more and more about his future and what he is to be. And it's not just the looks, he looks like a man at a young age, but watching him mature quickly because of what he's seen and endured. Sure he's learning to fight and kill vampires but that's also taking a tole on what probably would have been a nice normal farmer for that day and time. He's got my sympathy and my vote of confidence in him. 

The characters are well written as well. Not just Forrest but those around him. Even the bad guys. And since this is the first of the series, I look forward to seeing the vampers grow right along with Forrest as well. And the writing is well done. I have the same feel for the movie as I did while reading this book and I don't know if it's the well written time and just the very cool way the author portrayed things. I really liked it and I look forward to seeing where Forrest will go in the future. Well done!! 4.5 PAWS!! Ps I also just like vamper hunting hahahaha 

Guest post 

Following Your Muse




Leonard D. Hilley II


Thanks so much for this opportunity to write a guest blog. I’d like to share with your followers why I believe following one’s muse is a necessity.


Sometimes a writer’s muse will do unexpected things with a character or a storyline, but that’s often a good thing.Don’t ignore the gentle prodding. Follow. I give you two examples of how this has worked well for me.




I’ve been asked if I use an outline when I write novels. The answer is: “No.”


I don’t know why, but I’ve never been able to outline the events in a novel well before they occur. It never works for me. When a great idea pops into my head, I immediately write it down. That’s my writer instinct. I may not know where the idea will lead, but I’m willing to follow.


That’s how the Predators of Darkness Series began. In January 1996, when I laid down to go to sleep, the opening sentence came to me: “Dropping a cat from the top of a ten story office building was not the best way to remain hidden, but it was necessary.”


I was intrigued. I didn’t know where the story would go or why someone had dropped the cat off the building, but I got up and wrote it down. A few minutes later when I was stilltrying to go to sleep, the next two paragraphs came to me.So, again, I got up and wrote down the words.


The next day I sat at my computer and hammered out twenty pages in a few hours. At the end of those pages, I found myself in a new dilemma. I couldn’t add anything else to the storyline. Anything I attempted to add didn’t fit, sounded too corny, or took away from the characters and the initial plot. I was stuck, and I didn’t know why. I printed it out and set it in a box to work on later.


Two years later, during my final year at Morehead State University, I registered to take two creative writing classes in the coming fall. During the summer I took out the twenty pages and thought I would see if any new ideas stirred that would breathe life into this story. Rereading the piece I realized something. I didn’t have twenty pages of a novel.What I had was the skeletal frame of a novel that needed depth, description, and more urgency to push the plot forward.


I took a yellow notepad and made a lot of notes. When I was content with how I would flesh the book out, I sat at the computer and spent a week working and revising with the new ideas. The last sentence of the original twenty pages now ended on page 100; but still, I couldn’t add anything else. Frustrated, I set it aside.


Once the fall semester started, we met the new creative writing professor, Dr. Chris Offutt. He stated that his class would be treated like a writer’s workshop, and on our designated days, we could bring in a short story or the chapter of a book we were working on to have the class evaluate it. When my day came, I brought the first chapter (~32 pages) of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath in and gave each student a copy. The next week they came back to critique and offer suggestions about what did/didn’t work.


After everyone in the class had made their suggestions, the professor walked to the chalkboard. He drew out a diagram on the board and said, “Leonard, you don’t have one chapter here. What you have is five or six chapters.” In a matter of minutes he mapped out the five potentialchapters. I feverishly wrote down his suggestions. The best part was that something unique had clicked for me. The fog lifted. And I suddenly visualized my characters, their uniqueness, and their voices became audible in my head.


Eventually, Predators of Darkness: Aftermath grew into 340 pages, and there are four complete novels in the series.Book 5 will be released in May or June. Had I not written down that first sentence, would the series have everoccurred? After all, I didn’t have a plot or any characters.All I had was the one sentence. I never imagined the opening sentence would spawn five more novels afterwards (I’m working on the sixth book), which is why I suggest that writers follow their muse, carry notebooks, and don’t get chained to an outline. If a character takes an unexpected turn into a dark alley, don’t stop him/her. Follow.




A couple of years ago I published Devils Den. Due to the characters in the fantasy realm of the novel, I thought that writing a novella backstory would be a good idea.However, my muse had a much different idea.


The fantasy characters in Devils Den I’ve known—in my mind, at least—for more than twenty years. The first novel I attempted to write had been based on these characters, but the plot was too weak to develop, so I killed the story. But the characters never died. They didn’t speak a lot, but they were there in the back of my mind, maturing and waiting.


As I started the “Prequel” for Devils Den, something strange occurred. The characters wanted their voices to be heard, and they weren’t shy about letting me know. What I thought would be 40-50,000 words, came to life on a much larger scale. Twenty years of maturing in my mind, the characters suddenly brought their world to life. The plotlines are endless.


The new novel ended up as a 148,000 word epic fantasy novelShawndirea [Book One of The Chronicles of Aetheaon]. Since the events in this novel are twenty years prior to Devils Den, and so much occurs between the two, the new book has become the first book in its own series.This past January, Lady Squire [Book Two of The Chronicles of Aetheaon] was released (200,000 words).

Oddly, following my muse with Shawndirea (a fairy)opened up new doors I had never imagined possible at that time in my writing career. The novel stayed in the Top 100 Paid Fantasy novels for over ten weeks in 2014. The neatest thing was seeing the book beside R.A. Salvatore and Terry Pratchett in the list. Writers I’ve always held in high esteem. Plus, the success of Shawndirea qualified me to become a member of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. I guess fairies ARE magical.


So, you see, my muse took me in a different direction and definitely further than the novella I had planned. Most often my muse knows more than I do, so I follow, take notes, and I write down what I hear and see. If there’s a better formula than that, I don’t know it.


About the Author:

Leonard D. Hilley II grew up in Fort Payne, AL, where his never-ending curiosity introduced him to the world of biology and books. During his youth he was an avid insect collector and reared butterflies and moths. His love for science eventually merged with his writing. He currently resides in Marietta, Ohio, where he writes science fiction thrillers, epic high fantasy, and YA mysteries.

Education: B.S. Biology; MFA in Creative Writing

Leonard D. Hilley II is the author of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, Beyond the Darkness, The Game of Pawns, Death's Valley, Shawndirea, and Devils' Den.

Leonard D. Hilley II also writes short stories for YA. Two books were inspired by his love of biology: Rearing Dragons in My Backyard and Fiddling Worms. He also writes a mystery series for YA: Dee's Mystery Solvers.


Tour giveaway  
10 digital copies of Forrest Wollinsky: Vampire Hunter 

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