Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Breakthrough!

If you write, you'll probably understand this.

If you don't, your eyes will betray your suspicion that I'm a bit mad. And then you will back away slowly.

But I had two amazing moments of clarity on Tempt the Devil last weekend.

#1 I realized I had the wrong detective.

It's a bit of agony trying to stretch the investigation of a murder over a novel-length work when QuiTai is the detective because she's so smart that it shouldn't take her that long to put things together. (Which is why even modern takes of Sherlock Holmes tend to still be short stories or novellas and not novels.) So either she had to be struck repeatedly by the stick of amazing stupidity (not going to happen!) or I had to put the investigation into the hands of someone who would need more time to piece things together.  

Last May at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, I asked mystery novelist Ellen Hart a question that at the time was just something that had popped into my head that moment but now seems strangely prescient. I asked her if the detective had to be the main character in a mystery. She said yes, I said okay, and we both went on with our lives. But as soon as I realized I had the wrong detective,  I recalled that question and the answer. QuiTai couldn't be the main character if she wasn't the detective. Frightening, but since Devil Incarnate was told from several points of view, I'd already let some characters take over the narrative. I decided I could do that again only confine it to two POV characters, QuiTai and the detective, but still the detective had to be main character.

Another rule of writing: the first chapter needs to be about the main character. So my great opening chapter wouldn't be the opening anymore. I had to come up with another first line. Which led to...

#2 My new first line(s)

I'm still debating if it's  

She was vapor. Insidious, addicting, forbidden.


She was vapor: insidious, addicting, forbidden.

I shall consult with the punctuation oracles for their wisdom and guidance about the subtle differences.

If you've read Devil's Concubine and Devil Incarnate, you know that vapor is her world's version of opium. So I'm not talking about a liquid in a gaseous state, although I like the evoked image of a maishun spirit type creature projected onto mist or water. He can reach, but never grasp her.

So I'm off and running now although I have to rewrite most of the first third of the book. If you're a writer, you understand why those moments of clarity are so rare and amazing. Who knows where they come from. Hours of pacing in the backyard seems to be the way I stumble on them. Or maybe they're evoked by writing the wrong thing. I do enough of that! But anyway, now I feel I'm on the right track and things are falling into place. That's not how I usually feel about things, so I'm determined to enjoy it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

While I'm Reimagining Irene Adler...

Someone else is reimagining Sherlock Holmes!  The fabulous Catherine Lundoff hosts Rachael Acks on her blog.

Steampunk and a female Holmes?

You KNOW I'm going to read these.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

His Last Vow

The title of the final show of series 3 of BBC's Sherlock has been revealed as His Last Vow.

And the fandom, which is already in a state over, well, everything else about the series, goes into a piranhas-chowing-on-a-movie-villain froth.

But what does His Last Vow meeeeaaaan??!!??

Oh dear lord. It's like the lonely wail of the banshee, only since the fandom is a multitude, magnified. I don't think there's been this much self-inflicted angst since the Beatles. Or the last New Direction concert. (I have nothing against the fandom. I'm part of it, after all. But in the contingent standing a bit apart looking bemused at the rest of the group and wondering how I got here) I'm beginning to view the fandom as preta - hungry ghosts who are never satisfied with what we have. There's this ravenous need for more information within days of the latest big reveal that everyone was salivating over. There will never be enough. There will never be enough episodes. There will never be enough interviews with Steven Moffat or Mark Gatiss. There will never been enough footage for fanvids or memes.

I'm trying not to speculate, and I don't want to hear any spoilers. I don't want to see pictures. I want to sit down and watch the story unfold without anticipating certain scenes because that would take me out of the moment. So of course I am speculating. And hating myself a bit for it.


I just finished reading The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and enjoyed it. I liked the worlds evoked in Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson more, but they're both amazing tales. I'm looking for fantasy fiction that depicts mythology outside the Celtic and Norse, so if you know of one, leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bits and Pieces

A few exciting things today:

I stumbled onto this, which is brilliant and just my kind of thing. Steam punk Girl Genius a comic?  I'm so there. Plus: cool stuff. I like the Tesla pin. 

Also: Vera Nazarian's Cobweb Bride dropped yesterday. (dropped = became available) So of course I bought a copy.

And: Catherine Lundoff's Silver Moon was nominated for a Tiptree Award! (Go Catherine!)


Koko will love this! She's a major Harley Quinn fan.

Friday, July 12, 2013


The reviews on The Devil's Concubine have been lovely. Here and here.

But I have to thank Carrie Slager for this amazing review.  When someone says your main character is one of their favorite characters, ever, it's enough to make you feel like every frustration while writing it was worth it.