Christmas, The Downside

I’ve been staying home and writing, but today I had to hit the grocery and the pharmacy and the craft store (skull button) and I was brought up once again by the true horror of the season: Christmas music.  The stuff is insidious; I found myself singing along to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”  I probably looked like one of those animatronic elves, nodding my head mechanically as I searched for a good skull for my Day of the Dead project.   Thank god, it wasn’t “Santa Baby.”  I listened to four different versions of that sucker while writing “Hot Toy.” Never again.  Okay, I’ll listen to the Etta James version because she can do no wrong, but that’s it.

I also looked at Christmas wrapping, most of which was fine, but there were a lot of those floridly colored retro Santa Clauses that looked like they’d had way too much egg nog and were harassing the elves.  At this point, I don’t trust any guy in position of power, but those faux vintage Santas are especially skeevy, like Steve Bannon, only not that bad.

Then I came home and found an e-mail from an amigurumi site with these:

I can just hear them chanting “For the Greater Good.”  (And now I want to do them in black with gray beards and ghostly pale faces).  Maybe circle them around a table. Put glasses on one of them.  Watch Hot Fuzz again.

Even the cooking is getting to me.  I got home and realized I hadn’t gotten refrigerator pie crust dough and thought, Crap, now I have to go back.  Then I remembered that I know how to make pie crust dough.  I blame the Christmas music for making me stupid early, since I’m still on Thanksgiving/pumpkin pie time.  I don’t haul out the holly until the day AFTER Thanksgiving, thank you.  The turkey isn’t even dead yet, people.  Get a grip.

I know I’ll feel better once the leftover turkey is gone and I have my Christmas trees (yes, plural) up.  I may even break down and make those damn elves just because there are so many things I could do with them.  The three creepy wise guys, one with a skull in his hands, one with a raven on his shoulder, and one with . . . 

Hmmm.  Must think about this while I make pie crusts from scratch while humming “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while weeping helplessly.  

Or maybe I’ll just go back to writing a book.   Christmas: Not My Thing.


  1. Double tap the Home Button (that’s the circle at the bottom of the frame that you push to leave an app).

2. You will get this screen.  Find the lock rotation button on the lower right:

3. Hit that button.










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To Chapter or Not to Chapter

My distaste for chapters is well-known, but I always comply.  This time I’m thinking maybe not.  Nita takes place from Tuesday very early morning to Sunday morning.  I was thinking about going with Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday as headings to break up the book because that would help keep people oriented to the passage of time, especially since it’s a timelock plot (Nick has to become the Devil at midnight on April 2).   One problem, “Tuesday” would be 52,000 words. (It’s a long book.).   Sunday will be about 2000, so it’ll even up a little, but still, that’s a long first section, over 200 pages.   What do you think?

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Nita’s Soundtrack, Revised Nov. 2017

One good thing about finally knowing the whole book, I also know the soundtrack, not just the songs that sound like they belong, but the songs that actually inform the different acts and plot moments.   Taken together, they make an odd playlist, but as background music for the book, they’re a help to me for  mood and character. They’re basically the aural version of collage, a tool that helps me stay on track with the world and the people in it that I’ve created, not meant to be a work of art.

Most of the lyrics aren’t directly related to the story, we’re talking mood here not illustration (wait, didn’t I say that about collage?) but there are some that are evocative.  I love Lenka’s “Trouble is a Friend” for Nita’s first act theme, not just because she accepts that she’s always going to be in trouble one way or another but because she’s about to meet Nick.  Chesney’s “Demons” has a couple of great lines that sum up Nick’s situation: “Once you’ve met the Devil, there’s no way he’ll set you free.  When I’m not chasing demons, I’ve got demons chasing me.”  

But mostly it’s mood; Henderson’s “Ghosts” doesn’t have the line alignment, but it captures the chaos of the turning point for Nita, all the things crashing down on her that lead to the fraying of her sanity.  I liked Mullins’ “Lullaby” for Nick even though the story it tells is about a singer and a celebrity kid in LA; there’s a bemused detachment there followed by the lovely chorus that is pretty much Nick’s attitude toward Nita at the beginning of Act Two.  It’s the same thing with Nita and Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See;” the words aren’t as important as the mood, the exhilaration as Nita looks at all the possibilities before her, admittedly with trepidation.

And then sometimes the songs just fit, like Lake Street Diva’s “Godawful Things” for Nita as she embraces a strange new world or “I Can’t Decide”for Nick’s third act when he becomes a Renaissance sociopath.   My favorite might be “Future Starts Slow” by the Kills for Nita’s climax–Nita in a fury is nobody to mess with–but that may be because I will always see PoI‘s Shaw walking down that New York street at night when I hear it.  Shaw is good inspiration for Nita.

Nita’s Soundtrack 11-2017

Nita’s Theme: “Trouble is a Friend,” Lenka
Nick’s Theme: “Demons,” Chesney
Nita vs. Nick: “King of Anything,” Bareilles

Turning Point: “Ghost,” Henderson

Nick’s Theme: “Lullaby,” Mullins
Nita’s Theme: “Suddenly I See,” Tunstall
Nita vs. Nick: “Together,” She & Him
Love Theme Nick: “Spooky,” Heap
Love Theme Nita “Godawful Things,” Lake Street Dive
“This Magic Moment,” Lake Street Dive

Turning Point: “Alone Together,” Fall Out Boy

Nick’s Theme: “I Can’t Decide,” Scissor Sisters
Nita’s Theme: “Human,” Pretenders
“Such a Night,” Presley
Nita vs. Nick: “Ashes,” Tunstall
“Too Lost In You,” Sugababes
Love Theme: “Somebody Knows You Now,” Paisley

Turning Point: “Demons,” Imagine Dragons

Nita’s Theme: “World on Fire,” McLachlan
Nita Harrows Hell: “Future Starts Slow,” The Kills
Nick’s Theme: “Bleed to Love Her,” Fleetwood Mac
Resolution: “What Love Can Do,” Hiatt


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The Argh Ink Book Club for December: Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather

For those of you who want to play and have never read Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, you’re in for a treat.  For those of you who have, let’s wallow.  We can talk about belief and commercialization and gift-giving and  how really insane bad guys can make a book move like the Hogfather’s sled.  And all the other stuff.   There’s a movie, too, which I’ve never seen but have somewhere on the DVD.  Tis the season, let’s welcome the Hogfather.

We’ll start Dec. 1.  That gives us two weeks to reread and/or watch.  

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Trust Me On This: $1.99

Trust Me On This, the ebook version, goes on sale for $1.99 today.  If you’re interested to see what putting seven points of view into a short novel does (it makes it colder) this is your chance.  It was my last book with Bantam so I experimented and learned that unless I’m writing epics, three is probably a good number for PoVs, which is why The Devil in Nita Dodd  has four.  I never learn.

Fun Fact: Bantam insisted on putting a dog on the cover, so I insisted on doing a rewrite and putting a dog in the book since there wasn’t one before and I believe in Truth in Advertising.

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Progress Report, No Bubblegum

Krissie e-mailed me this weekend and, among other things, asked me how Nita was going.   Just having to sum up for her was extremely helpful, a progress report if you will.  And it’s basically:

Act One is done.  There will undoubtedly be cuts once the betas get their hands on it, and there’ll be some tweaking once the whole book is done because things will have shown up in later acts that need to be foreshadowed, but the Act One I’ve got now is where it’s supposed to be.

Act Two is about 3/4 done.  I’m at the point where I’m filling holes, not trying to find the shape of it.  I know where it is at the beginning and where it is at the end/turning point. It’s at 26, 000 words, and there’ll be at least another 5000 and some clean-up, but it’s definitely on its way.

Act Three only has about 10,000 words, but I’m saving it for last because it’s where things really go haywire and it’ll be short–probably only 20,000 words–and I know what happens.  

Act Four, I know exactly what happens, I’ve blocked it out in my mind so many times, it should go pretty fast, since it’s mainly Nita kicking ass everywhere, that mad-as-Hell-and-no-chewing-gum part, and Nick quietly getting everything lined up for everybody, competence porn.    

So the plan is to first diagram the character arcs, since I know where everybody’s going now, and then  knock out Act Four this week, finishing the month by getting Two and Three done.    Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

Here’s a Writing Tip (she said, obnoxiously):
 I do a lot of good work at my diner (today over a Caesar salad, bacon cheeseburger, and excellent fries) and I highly recommend this as a writing strategy.  Why?  Writing in a completely different environment changes your perspective on how you think about what you’re writing.  Even more important, I think, is the fact that since I’ve taken out two laptops dumping Diet Coke into them, I now only take paper and pen to the diner, not my computer.  Having to actually diagram out (with arrows and circles and all that good stuff) what’s going on with four characters makes it a lot easier to move past preconceptions and nail down the core ideas.  I can type a lot of words very fast which is great when I’m making up stuff up, not so good when I’m trying to think things through.  The only drawback is that my notes are not in the computer, which is why it’s a good idea to mind-map everything I wrote in Curio later because I’m gonna lose all those sheets of paper.  

ETA: Proof of my work ethic.  (Don’t read the notes, they’re spoilers.)


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Cherry Saturday, November 11, 2017


sculpture 8


Today is Origami Day.  

Okay, that picture is not origami, but have you heard about the mystery book sculptures of Edinburgh?   It’s a lovely story, but there’s so much more.  Search for “book paper art” and discover wonders . . .



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