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Back in the day

6 Mar

Is there anything more groan-inducing than opening up an old manuscript and realizing just how terrible it is?

No, I take it back. It wasn’t terrible. I liked the story, I liked the characters, but oh my god, technically, what a hot mess. Five years–just five!–and the damage was just unbelievable.

Things at which I was more terrible than I am now, apparently, complete with ranty tumblr moments from me and various others on these subjects.

-Overwriting. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, how many actions does a character need to commit in one sentence? NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION AFTER THE FIRST ONE.

-Similarly: excessive description. Especially when you’ve already described them once. What the hell is this, Dickens? Move on, already! Delete. No one cares.

-Epithets. Okay honestly, I never used these a lot since I started submitting stuff; I’ve hated them for some time thanks to some very clever betas and fellow RPers. However, even titles can get just… bad. Even ‘the Secretary’ and ‘the Inquisitor’ are hard to follow after a while, man.

-Who the hell is talking? Okay, I still get accused of this a lot, but wow. Just. Wow.  Related: tags. Terrible, terrible tags. Hissing words, laughing words, snorting words.

No, Katey. Just. No. That is not a thing that happens.

-Looking. Looking at this, looking at that. Stop, okay, Katey? If you describe something we know the PoV character is LOOKING AT IT. Who else would be? Oh right!

-In a similar vein: filter words. “She felt” “he thought” “he knew” “he saw”… no shit, Sherlock, who did I think was feeling and seeing the crap I was describing? It’s tight third person limited PoV–there is only one possibility! (Assuming I wrote the PoV right. Which, well, at least I didn’t fuck that up!)

-Passivity. Passive voice can be used to such great effect, but I feel like shaking it off as a default has been pretty much the longest process of my entire writing life.

Now I look at this list and wonder, five more years down the road, what horrors will I find in my current works? Ah, it’s the fate of the writer to grow up in public a little bit, I suppose. Bless editors. Bless you all. And bless people who’ve hired me to edit between now and then, because thanks to you I have my little Elements of Style book memorized. And though many of its rules are outdated, it’s still the solid foundation it was back in the day!

Le sigh!

Please do not consider this a writing advice post, but do consider it me taking the piss out of myself. As an editor myself, these days, I find it necessary to reassure authors that I’m not just being mean and I TOTALLY understand where they’re coming from. Let this stand as proof. Because god, that only took a few days to edit up, but it felt like years.

Read an eBook week is here!

2 Mar

As they have for the past three years, Belfire Press is participating in International Read an eBook week with a massive sale at Smashwords. Don’t wanna click through? okay, I feel you, here you go:

All titles – including the anthologies, New Bedlam collections, and Needfire Poetry – are 50% off this week. Visit our Smashwords page, select your titles and use the code REW50 at check-out.

Yeah. Massive.

So that means creepyweird Appalachian Fae…


And creepyweird Monsterlove Vampires…


Are half off until the 8th. Yay!

And with the second installment of The Family shaping up nicely, now might be a good time to hop on board. Mwah ♥

James (And Other Vampires)

31 May

Welp! Now that Inedible Sins has been launched, RPP is back up and running, and I’ve just finished some murderous revisions on a romance novel, it’s back to Vampire World!

Several people have been kind enough to check out and review Liam and I am pleased to see that my evil scheme has worked. To quote Zoe (whose recent review was fabulous–thank you, Zoe!):

There’s a couple of introductions of conflicts, but only one of these gets resolved. The other much bigger conflict is left hanging, and I felt like sputtering, “But…but what about Aldo?” And for that matter, I wonder if book two will get back around to Madison. I rather liked her. But even if it doesn’t, I wanted to know more about this other mysterious faction of vampires…

Totally made me squee, in combination with, “I like all the characters, even the bit characters like James, Madison and Aldo.” Most reviews have said similar things so far, and, yes. Glee!

Here’s why: they all get a book. While Liam, for the most part, reads like a particularly nasty love story (hence the lovestory for monsters tagline), it’s just the beginning for their little family, and the characters named above are the stars. Currently they go in the order listed on the character page, but Aldo and Mads may switch orders since there’s some overlap time-wise with them and James. Oh, and Gianni and his uncle Giuseppe share their book because [redacted for spoilers]. But all of these characters will be in every single book. Until all those little conflicts come to a head and their little vampire world explodes, and we see who’s left standing.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the James manuscript right now, the second book, which will hopefully meet with approval. I’ll keep updating, though. Promise!


Inedible Sins is Now Available!

28 Apr

Bust out the champagne! (Okay, I’ve got prosecco, but it’s still festive.) Inedible Sins is now available from Dagan Books.

Inedible Sins

Click on through for the info, check out the book’s page here for excerpts, or just head straight to the checkout:

Buy it now! Only $1.99.

DRM-free ePub: click here or DRM-free .mobi (perfect for Kindle): click here

Also available on Amazon: click here

Yes. Yes, I am very excited. It’s true.

The Sinful Soundtrack

25 Apr

Thanks to the wonders of Grooveshark, my obsessive playlist-making can now be conveniently shared with the world!

… I say that like it’s a good thing.

Anyhow! When I was writing Inedible Sins, I was no less obsessive than usual. Since the book is coming on the 28th, I figured I might as well set it up here, in case people are interested. So. Soundtrack!

Here is my TL;DR commentary:

1. “Smash the System”. I don’t belong here in your garden/I should be up there on your throne. Yeah, basically 50% of Jonesy’s personality, right there.
2. “Town Called Malice”. Though decidedly written about a small working-class town in England, it’s safe to say this can apply to DC, especially at this point in time, in many, many ways.
3. “Yourself”. All the self-loathing. All of it.
4. “Sweet and Tender Hooligan”. If we hadn’t been able to decide on Inedible Sins as a title, I really might’ve suggested this…
5. “Gintlemen’s Club”. Again, wrong city, but the posh poser vibe stands.
6. “Get Myself Arrested”. In so very many ways, really.
7. “Broken Boy Soldier”. Did I mention there’s Civil War stuff? There’s Civil War stuff!
8. “The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect”. If Ashley Evans existed today, this would be his theme song. It would just spontaneously start playing whenever he walked into a room.
9. “My Mistakes Were Made For You”. From Jonesy, to Jude and Emily.
10. “Bad Taste In My Mouth”. Now I’ve got all the things that I wanted/There’s still a bad taste in my mouth. Worse than ever, in fact.
11. “Pace is the Trick”. Jonesy’s issues with the world and himself (and Brother Alfie) in one convenient (and lovely–great song!) package.
12. “Blood Money”. Oh. But blood is so much better than money, by the end.
13. “Evil and a Heathen”. Jonesy and Ashley, for sure.
14. “Handlebars”. The quintessential crash-and-burn delusions-of-grandeur song.
15. “The Butcher”. By the last two chapters, this is basically on repeat in Jonesy’s head. Much to Brother Alfie’s dismay.
16. “Salvation”. For all the irony.
17. “Rebellion (Lies)”. Not just the lyrics, but the music. That keychange punches me in the throat every time, which is precisely the feeling here, yes.
18. “505”. Acedia. As in the final chapter. Over and over.

Inedible Sins

Coming Sunday!

Incoming Sins

23 Apr

This weekend, Inedible Sins is coming to Dagan Books! It’s a novella, the first in what will be an ongoing line at Dagan, available as an eBook everywhere that sort of thing is, ah, usually available! I’ve been posting bits and pieces about it here lately, but now that the wheels are really in motion (oh, that’s punny–nevermind)…

Inedible SinsYou may have heard a rumor that this novella contains a robot. True! A clockwork robot with a very specific function and/or functions.

The ‘history‘ rumor is also accurate, as this cover would imply. You think Washington, DC is a hot mess now, you shoulda seen it right before the Civil War.

Romance, too, if you’ve heard that, and in the most unexpected places. Blurring class lines can be dangerous–but that is the least of their worries.

Though our hero Jonesy covers all of the Seven Deadly Sins quite capably, Lust is one of his favorites. And oh, the trouble sex can cause a boy…

Ah, but let’s not forget the violence, the last of the promised themes. Figuratively and literally, too much sin tends to lead in that direction. Wrath, you see, is Jonesy’s favorite Cardinal Sin.

For a series of informative, short excerpts from Inedible Sins, click on through to its page here on the site. I’ll be back with more later in the week, and the book itself on Sunday. Wee!

Inedible Newspaper Sins

25 Mar

Ah, the news. Newspapers, specifically, that 0ld standby of American existence. Wait, you’ll say, but don’t many peoples live and die by the news? Yes. However, back in the early 19th century, visitors from the UK and European continent were constantly commenting on how oddly attached their American cousins were to their papers.* How awfully middle class.

The main players in my upcoming novella, Inedible Sins, are predictably attached to their papers. Ashley Evans regales his sister Iris and our hero Jonesy nightly with the political gossip from the Evening Star, one of Washington City’s premier Democratic papers back in 1856. But it’s not all Congress and Democratic National Conventions and aborted duels–there’s also the odd column inch full of old-timey cleverness.

By which I of course mean misogyny. Oh my.

Evening Star Jul 5 1856


Transcription, since reading a photograph of a microfilm desk from the Library of Congress sucks hard:

-> Young Man, a private word. When you go courting, find out as soon as possible whether your affections are being planted more in a bundle of dry-goods and things generally, than a pulsating heart, hemmed in by warm ribs and all that. Many a fellow has laid himself out for a full made woman, and only found a very extensive assortment of cotton, whalebone and similar delusive institutions. Just look over the goods before going to the parson.

-> One thousand pounds of wafers are used by the United States House of Representatives in a single session.

-> “Charity covereth a multitude of sins”. So does calico.

Okay that last one is kinda funny, but not if you read it in a slut-shamey way. Still, the ridiculous things I found doing research for this book. Some of the most fun I ever had in a library. Which is saying quite a lot.

*The most famous being Fanny Trollope in her hilarious Domestic Manners of the Americans. Check the paragraph that begins with, “In truth, there are many reasons which render a very general diffusion of literature impossible in America. I can scarcely class the universal reading of newspapers as an exception to this remark ; if I could, my Statement  would be exactly the reverse, and I should say that America beat the world in letters.”

And For My Next Trick: Inedible Sins

13 Mar

It is a long-established fact that I am a historical fangirl. My love of ridiculous activities such as combing through two-hundred-year-old newspapers to find out where the most happening parties were, what hotels were all the rage, who was having what picnics where, all the best political scandal, and even the weather on a given day is well-known by now. The last big fact-finding mission I went on was in re Washington, DC just pre American Civil War: the summer of 1856. That one was for a novella working titled “The Inedible Sins of Sebastian Jones”. I once made a post about collating that research to lay out my main character Jonesy’s summer.

This is my idea of a good time! Yes, I know how to party, it’s true.

A year and some change later, I am pleased to be able to say that Jonesy’s story has new life. It will be called Inedible Sins, and will pop up with Dagan Books sometime in the very near future. In celebration, I’m going to start sharing some of the more ridiculous newspaper clippings I collected to inform my view of Jonesy’s world of Georgetown and  Washington City for the next few weeks.

But first, the beginning of the novella, just so you can see what sort of fellow Jonesy really is…

I. Invidia

In which I am dismissed from the seminary and find my new position hateful.

The moment my fist impacted with David Mullen’s face, I knew I was not intended for the priesthood. An explosion of pain in my right knuckles, the crunch of his lip into his teeth, and ruby droplets flew through the air like spilled communion wine. Mullen hit the ground wailing.

Hand still clenched, I said, “Next time you insult a man’s mother, you’ll know what to expect.” And then I turned and strode back down the hall for the Rector’s office, ignoring what fat-lipped abuse he flung after me.

A sense of clarity comes with a fight, a heightening of senses beyond anything else I know. This time, it enabled me to recognize an unexpected sense of relief welling in my breast. Of course, I would be removed from the seminary when the incident became known. I had run up against more than one of the other boys already, and it was clear I was on thin ice. Seminarians did not go around getting into arguments with other seminarians, even if they deserved far more than a few sharp words and a punch in the mouth.

But yes, I was relieved. All that remained was for me to tell the Rector that I would be on my way, no need for a fuss. I knocked on his door, pushed it open, and stared, aghast.

For there, among the crucifixes and paintings of saints and holy books, was our beloved Rector. He faced the desk, back to the door. A pair of stockinged legs wrapped around his midsection, between which he was thrusting zealously.

Small wonder that my presence went unnoticed until I said, “Good God!”

The lady, who seemed to have been reclining on two hands, sat up and looked around the Rector’s wide back. She was a pretty creature, with a high forehead and aristocratic nose, very well made up. But it was her mouth that was most familiar to me, long and wide, very much like the one I had burst only moments previous. The shock of recognition was the worst yet: she was David Mullen’s mother.

God has an appalling sense of humor sometimes, doesn’t he? What a way to shatter a boy’s illusions about his faith, his chosen profession, and the men to whom he’s confessed the darkest secrets of his heart since childhood.

At least it explained how that idiot Mullen was admitted to seminary.

Ah yes, Jonesy’s life just gets stranger from there. From the whirling society scandals of Lafayette Square to clockwork confessors in his Georgetown workshop. Because, oh yeah. Did I mention there’s a clockwork confessor involved? Sometimes, he’ll even eat your sins for you.


11 Mar

What the hell am I talking about when I say Liam is a love story for monsters? Hop on over to The Armchair Reader, where Cole was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post in re monsterlove, and check it out. Oh, and enter to win an e-copy!

Radio Silence

3 Mar


Right so here come those changes. Today is my anniversary with B (seven years and we’re both still alive!) and then tomorrow starts the great moving adventure of 2013. Really, the great moving adventure started a few weeks back, but this is go time. Therefore, I’m going to be a little bit silent–and all the things I want to do but have to wait for will be rattling around in my skull unhappily. You know how it goes!

While I’m gone, here’s some stuff to keep you:

… mmm can you tell I’m utterly scatterbrained right now? Because I totally am. Next time I talk to you, it’ll be from Ohio, my old home sweet home.