The mysterious ways of the universe

I’m in the middle of writing Magdalene, book 3 in my series.

If you’re passingly familiar with Christian myth, it should be quite clear where I’m going with this.

But let me tell you a little about my main characters.

Mitch Hollander, PhD, metallurgical engineering; founder and CEO of Hollander Steelworks, headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is also a widowed Mormon bishop who served half an 18-month mission in Paris, France. He likes fast cars and ZZ Top.

Cassie St. James, MBA; Vice President-Restructuring Division, Blackwood Securities. In a previous life, she was a high-dollar hooker. She is divorced, lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, has four adult children (all of whom live with her), engages in strategic revenge, and possesses a latent penchant for silliness.

So I was on the search for a special little gift that Mitch could give Cassie that meant something but was not expensive. After all, what do you give a woman who can buy anything she wants?

Naturally, I turned to books because I have a vested interest in people buying books (product placement!). I decided that Mitch might have a special book that he may have acquired on his mission and is probably in French. Naturally, I googled, and then headed over to Wikipedia where I stumbled upon a list of French novels. I doggedly worked my way through them one by one, read the synopses, then picked one based on a vague similarity of the plot to Cassie’s past.

I wrote it into my book as if I’d read the thing (but hadn’t), then decided I probably should read it. And it freaked me out. Big time.

The book? Angélique, the Marquise of Angels by Anne & Serge Golon, first published in 1958.

Unbeknownst to me, this was a huge hit in Europe and apparently a big hit here. I’d never heard of it, never stumbled across it in the intellectual drunkenness of my youth (that actually amazes me).

The book is heroine-centric, so it’s all about Angélique. The parallel I found between Angélique and Cassie was that they both had arranged marriages. The similarity stopped there.

Angélique didn’t know her contracted husband, feared him at first, then grew to love him.

Cassie knew the man she was to marry, adored him from afar and was eager to marry him, and then quickly realized that her marriage was a sham.

Cassie is familiar with the story via film, so she has no problem making this parallel and had, in fact, written a paper on it during her undergrad years.

What doesn’t show up in the plot summary is a description of the hero’s “unusual way of life.” Joffray (the hero) is described as “scientist, musician, philosopher.” I didn’t think much of it. Mitch is a scientist with his own lab, true, but he’s also a CEO and I’ve always thought of him in those terms.  He’s not a musician. He’s not a philosopher. At heart, he’s a blue-collar steel worker who loves steel enough to reinvent himself and the industry; steel is his life’s work.

Turns out that Joffray’s science is metallurgy. That was freaky.

Turns out that Joffray is hung out to dry, religiously speaking, for reasons that have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with power, politics, and money. That was even freakier.

As I got deeper and deeper into the book, I felt like I’d entered the Twilight Zone.

Then I got to the end. Angélique plunges out into the cold night, penniless and powerless, to exact revenge. That is so Cassie. I nearly expired from the freakiness the universe had perpetrated upon my person.

I couldn’t have picked a better novel if I’d written it myself.

PS: Yes, I know Mary Magdalene wasn’t a prostitute.

PPS: In the mid-1980s, missions were, in fact, only 18 months long for men.

Whether you wanted to know or not

I’m a visual person, so when I write, I have to have some fairly specific object or person in mind in order to describe it. I write because I can’t paint, so if I have never seen what I see in my head, I’ll try to find something relatively close and make sure I can look at it often.

A lot of authors use real people as the basis of the looks of their characters. Some authors even reference those people in the text (I did it with Giselle and Bryce). Some readers like it, some don’t. Some readers like faces on their covers, some don’t. Some readers (*ahem* Th. *ahem*) don’t like any description at all. It gets to be a balancing act for an author not to intrude on a reader who likes to imagine the character, yet provide enough for the reader who wants to know which famous person the character most looks like.

Anyway, I’ve been debating writing this post for about a year now, but I’m going to go ahead and bite the bullet. Wanna know who I had in mind while writing The Proviso and Stay and Magdalene (albeit Magdalene‘s only about half written)? Here you go, in order of actual appearance across the books:

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Monkey see, monkey do

Theric put up his summer to-do list. I thought that was cool. I’ll put mine up, too. Except, well, I don’t have an entry to have a baby. We are SOOOOO done with that Tax Deduction thing.


Torn by God by Zoe Murdock

The Seabird of Sanematsu by Kei Swanson

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

The Ugly Princess by Elizabeth K. Burton (OOP & no linky)


Work out my sticking points on Magdalene. Thing is, I know what it is; I just can’t visualize how it all goes down.

Edits on Stay when I get it back from above-mentioned editor.


Create a couple of new products for My Other Business That Is Not Publishing.

There are other things I need to get done, but that’s all pretty boring stuff like, “put up a shelf” sort of stuff.

The state of the art

So today I’m listening to Babs and this line keeps jumping out at me: “Art isn’t easy, even when you’re hot. Advancing art is easy; financing it is not…Every time I start to feel defensive, I remember vinyl is expensive.”

In case no one missed me, I’ll tell you what I’m doing:

1. Damned Day Job. You know, I’m awfully glad to have one right now, so I’ll refrain from bitching. See aforementioned financing art to understand why I feel obliged to tell you that.

2. Had a very short deadline drop in my lap for a project I feel privileged to be part of, so there is much e-mailing and such going on around my office in order to get this yumminess out into the marketplace.

3. Stay is finished sorta. A secondary character (a throwaway, but how come all my redshirts end up demanding their own stories?) garnered some attention from alpha readers who said, “Hey, what happened to him?” The original story with Vanessa and Eric is finished and in the hands of beta readers. Yet again I’ve decided to do something bizarre, which is to say, put two mirror-image stories back-to-back in the same spine.

4. Magdalene is 3/4 finished. I believe Cassie St. James is the woman I’ve most enjoyed writing. Ever.

This balancing the art with the marketing is getting on my nerves, quite frankly. I’m a writer and I love my imaginary friends; I settle in with them and I’m mentally…gone…for days.

Plus, I’m still convinced that an author’s brand is the writing, the stories themselves. How can you have a brand that’s the writing if you only have 1 product?

I like blogging, don’t get me wrong—when I have something to say. I also didn’t like feeling like a slave to my stats, who’s visiting, where they’re coming from, what they’re reading…

Some days, I just don’t have anything to say and you know, I think more people should just not say anything when they have nothing to say. Not every second of every day must be filled with words just because we fear silence.