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What's New:

The Neverland's Library Anthology is now on sale! With an introduction by Tad Williams and stories by Mark Lawrence, Marie Brennan, Jeff Salyards, Miles Cameron, Joseph R. Lallo, Mercedes M. Yardley, William Meikle, J.M. Martin, Teresa Frohock, and many more, the Neverland's Library Anthology is a collection of original works will take readers back to that moment when they first fell in love with the genre.

Miserere is now available at Audible.

My short story "Naked the Night Sings" is only one of the many fine stories in the urban fantasy anthology Manifesto: UF, edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann, Angelic Knight Press, 2013.

Free!

 

Death comes for us all.

Keep her as your friend.

 Read "La Santisima"

Novels

"Filled with show me now and tell me later prose, [Miserere] was one of the finest debuts of 2011 and remains a novel that I remember details from nearly three years later." Justin Landon, Tor.com

Download an excerpt of Miserere here

Entries in Miserere (53)

Monday
Feb172014

family in Miserere--a question by ML Brennan (#SFWApro)

I have another question: this one comes from ML Brennan (whose books you should read ... just sayin'):

In Miserere a fundamental portion of the world construction was about a created sense of family between the foundlings and the adults who essentially became their new parents. Lucian and Rachael are estranged former lovers, but one of the primary things that brings them back together is the need of Lucian's newly-discovered foundling. For a book that features so many orphans who are building new identities in a new world, there's an amazing emphasis on bonds of a nuclear family (Rachael and Lucian also share the same foster parent, who with his wife also forms another nuclear family unit) -- what drove this theme?

Weird as this may sound, I didn't think too much about the nuclear aspect of the families when I wrote Miserere. I wanted to examine the nature vs. nurture aspect of childhood, and the best way to study this is through the adoption process.

I knew two things: both Rachael and Lucian came from damaged childhoods and in order to develop into reasonably healthy adults, they would need firm guidance while maturing. I gave them John and Tanith simply because that is the way in which they popped into my head.

Also, not all of the families were nuclear. Not everyone had a spouse. If you'll remember, Caleb raised Victor alone. Victor got into trouble, but only because he was curious and inexperienced. Victor wasn't malicious, and he suffered no ill effects from being raised by a single parent.

As for the John-Tanith/Rachael-Lucian paradigm, it just worked out that way in Miserere, and since most--almost all--of the action took place outside of the Citadel, I had very little room to give an overall picture of the social structure in Woerld. When I focused on the scenes between Lucian and Lindsay, I figured that his primary objective was in survival as well as keeping Lindsay from inadvertently killing them both with her undeveloped powers rather than delving too deeply into the Citadel's society and how it functioned.

The actual family units were constructs that I saved for Dolorosa. There are at least two same-sex couples within the Citadel. Unfortunately, I didn't get to put them Miserere, but Lindsay will question their presence at the Citadel at some point. She will be told that love between two people is a reflection of the divine.

So it wasn't so much of a theme for nuclear parents, but more of a theme of adoption. How does adoption affect children when they are taken from one set of parents and placed with another? In our society, we expect these children to adapt like puppies and kittens, but even infants have shown changes in their brain chemistry when they are taken from their birth parents and placed in a new home.

The child's sense of security is threatened; the world is suddenly a hostile place, sown with uncertainties. It's not a new theme. Disney has used it over and over.

Most YA literature is about youngsters searching for their identities. However, a person's identity doesn't magically stop evolving after age twenty.

I wanted to write about adults who utilized their past experiences to further develop their personalities. So with Miserere, I examined the adoption theme from the adult perspective. How did their removal from their respective homes affect them?

Rachael doesn't look back. There was nothing in her earthly life but abuse and horror. She left her father to drown in a well, and though the memory haunts her, she feels no remorse for his death. She accepts her place in Woerld and will eventually thrive in Woerld's environment.

Lucian, on the other hand, has intense memories and a longing for home. He can relate to Lindsay's desire to return to Earth, and her initial refusal to accept Woerld.

Lucian wants to protect Lindsay, she ignites his paternal instincts into overdrive. Rachael wants to protect Lindsay too, but there is a distinct difference in how they value the child. Lucian shifts his strong paternal instincts from Catarina, who has rejected him over and over, to Lindsay, who values him, and Rachael sees Lindsay as a valuable soldier in their war against the fallen.

Lucian wants to nurture Lindsay into becoming a good person, and Rachael sees a weapon to be honed against the Fallen. In spite of all of this, I never really saw Lindsay as being the unifying force between Rachael and Lucian. She is more of an observer, the reader's eye into the story.

In a lot of ways, Miserere is about families, but it wasn't the nuclear theme that I wanted to stress. I wanted to examine whether blood really is thicker than water.

Lucian finds the opposite is true.

Monday
Feb032014

Miserere ebook is on sale & Bloody Cakes ... (#SFWApro)

Big news hit this morning: the ebook of Miserere: An Autumn Tale is on sale at Amazon US for $2.99. This is a limited time offer that is so limited I don't even know how long it will last.

If you're not in the US and you'd like a lower price, try Baen Ebooks for $6.00.

[Special note: authors don't control prices, but when we see our stuff is on sale, we pass that info along to you.]

LINKS:

On Saturday, I visited Bloody Cake News for their Perilous Roses series. I answered their questions and if you have a question for me, drop it in the comments and I'll answer it for you. (Thanks to Mihir for supplying my bonus question!)

On Sunday, I returned to Bloody Cake News with a special recipe for red velvet cake sans the glass and blood. Add those at your own risk.

I received two more questions in response to my Facebook post, but those were more apropos for blog posts. I'll be around later this week to answer them.

Friday
Dec272013

Miserere is now available on Audible (#SFWApro)

You can file this one under shameless self-promotion:

For those of you who might have missed it, Miserere: An Autumn Tale is now available at Audible. Narrated by Eileen Stevens, Miserere is described by one reviewer as "good, edgy fantasy."

"... Frohock creates a tale that is part horror, part fantasy, and completely engrossing ..."

Go on ... get your scary bits ... they're good for you ...

Sunday
Dec152013

Year end wrap-up (#SFWApro)

A look back on 2013

I read a lot of novels by men during 2012 and 2013, because I wanted to analyze the differences between male and female authors. The Gender Bending post of late 2012, early 2013 was one of my most popular posts ever; although, I hesitate to call it mine. Several wonderful authors contributed to that project in late December 2012 through early January 2013, so in many ways it belongs to all of us. Thank you again to everyone who contributed their time and energy to make that project work, especially to the fans who guessed and commented.

What we found out was what we already knew: unless the name automatically indicated a gender, there was approximately a 50/50 chance that the participants would guess wrong.

My writing

Dolorosa (Book 2 of the Katharoi series). I completed a solid first chapter to Miserere's sequel, Dolorosa. I had just started work on the synopsis when Night Shade Books initiated the sale of the company to Skyhorse/Start. For a variety of reasons, Dolorosa was put on hold.

Given the time limitations that I have for writing, I have to focus on projects that have a chance of selling. I spent most of April and May trying to work out a feasible schedule for the project and finally decided that anything with the Katharoi series had to be placed on hold for the duration of one year at the very least.

Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Is now available at Audible where it is drawing some very nice reviews.

In other good news, Miserere has officially earned out on the Skyhorse side of the debit sheet. For that little miracle, I owe all of my thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Miserere, either ebook, print, or audio. You have my deepest gratitude.

Miserere also took a major shout-out on Tor.com in the Under the Radar series. Check out the Under the Radar series for more great books that you might have missed.

Short Stories. Given all of the upheaval going on around me in April/May, I concentrated on short stories:

  • "La Santisima" is an original short story that is here on the blog and you can read it for free.
  • "Naked the Night Sings," is merely one of the many fine stories featured in Manifesto: UF, edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann, Angelic Knight Press, 2013.
  • "Love, Crystal and Stone," will appear in Neverland's Library Fantasy Anthology, edited by Roger Bellini, Neverland Books, March 2014. You can read an exclusive excerpt from "Love, Crystal and Stone" at Fantasy Book Critic.

I also wrote two more short stories that will be going on submission after the first of the year:

  • "Down to the River" a coming of age story about a young sin-eater.
  • "White like Snow" a story about two brothers who find a haunted castle.

Cygnet Moon. I have a synopsis and almost 50,000 words on this novel. I'm really pleased with both the story and the characterization so far.

General observations

In spite of all of the set-backs, I don't feel too bad about 2013. I wrote over 30,000 words on short stories and 50,000 words on a new novel. That figure doesn't include word counts from submission packages, blog posts, interviews, etc.

Not bad. In 2014, I will finish Cygnet Moon and begin work on Dolorosa. More and more people are asking for Miserere's sequel and in every review people mention that they would like to revisit Woerld. I hope to make that possible for you.

To all of the awesome people who have been so kind as to read Miserere and give the book a shout-out whenever and where ever you can. Thank you!

Celebrate the season in whatever way you see fit. I'll be with the most tolerant people in the world ... my lovely family.

I'll see you again in 2014.

Watch for me.

Monday
Jul152013

hitting your target audience

Several people have remarked or asked why Lindsay, Lucian's twelve-year-old foundling, wasn't on the cover or mentioned in the blurb of Miserere. First of all, Miserere never got a catchy blurb, what you're seeing on the back of the book was the synopsis from my query letter. A teaser blurb and a query letter are two different animals; however in this instance one factor would have remained the same: Lindsay would not have been mentioned.

Both the query and the blurb had to be whittled down to the show the bare essence of the story, and while Lindsay plays a very important supporting role, the story isn't about her. The story is about Lucian and his relationships with his sister Catarina and his lover Rachael.

Likewise on the cover art, the publisher is looking at the target audience. I know from having spoken with the artist that he was told to put the three adults on the cover. This was a wise marketing decision, and I was behind it one hundred percent from the beginning.

When a publisher puts a twelve-year-old on the cover of a novel, it doesn't matter what lies between the pages, people see a twelve-year-old and their minds shift to young adult. If there is a woman's name on the cover AND a twelve-year-old, in most people's thinking, the story absolutely MUST be YA.

Miserere is an adult novel and contains a lot of scenes and issues that tend to turn YA readers off. My favorite review comment comes from a YA reader who called Catarina "yucky." The initial reviews for Miserere bounced around a bit and were quite conflicted with reviewers unable to get a fix on the story. I couldn't understand why people kept thinking that Miserere was YA until I realized that most readers were adding my name plus twelve-year-old in the story and just automatically coming to the YA conclusion. Reader expectations were obviously getting in the way of the story.

Men don't have this problem, by the way. John Saul wrote about children in a large number of his novels but no one ever called him anything other than a horror author. My publisher can't be blamed because they went over backwards to make sure that Lindsay wasn't pictured or mentioned on the cover.

Recently, Julie Crisp at Tor Books in the UK posted these enlightening statistics in her article Sexism in Genre Publishing: A Publisher's Perspective. According to her statistics, in the YA category, 68% of the submissions are by women. That means that a lot of women read and submit YA stories. I see a great deal of women talking online about YA and defending YA as being progressive because it deals with a lot of issues important to young adults.

Is this a bad thing?

No.

I have no problem with YA or with the fact that a majority of women write and submit YA literature to publishers. I occasionally read YA just to keep up with the various genres; there are some excellent stories out there, but it's not my genre of choice. All of these statistics and facts tell me that readers tend to associate women with writing YA simply because of the sheer number of women who associate themselves as either readers or writers of that genre.

Again, not a bad thing, but it does make it exceptionally difficult for debut authors who are attempting to break that mold. My own work is best described as urban fantasy/horror and was billed as such from the beginning. Even so, many people who read YA picked up Miserere and got a harsh, rude awakening that left them feeling yucky. They were most likely victims of their own expectations and misperceptions through no fault of their own. I'm guessing that was because there was a woman's name on the cover, a twelve-year-old in chapter two, hence in the reader's mind, the story must be YA.

Except that it is not.

There are quite a few women who write horror and urban fantasy with an edge--far too many to list here competently. Some have children in their novels as secondary characters, some don't. I know that according to Ms. Crisp's data only 17% of the Tor submissions in horror came from women, but still ... women write excellent horror stories.

Here is another thing that I've observed from reading reviews and online discussions about Miserere, something that intrigues me to no end: most women comment on Lindsay in very glowing terms. Very few women discuss Rachael, an extremely capable, emotionally strong woman. Rachael saves Lucian, not just with her strength but also with her compassion. Without her, he'd never make home. I find the lack of discussion about Rachael very interesting and wonder why. Women say that they want competent female protagonists who don't need to be saved by their male counterparts, yet I've heard very little about Rachael.

I'm not sure what to make of any of that. What I have learned is the importance of marketing and hitting a target audience. I've also learned that sometimes that audience gets missed in spite of everyone's best efforts.

I've revamped the web site a little this weekend with that target audience in mind. I loved my old header, which was created for me by a dear lady who has a great deal of talent in that area. However, I needed something that better reflected my stories, which are dark and for adults. Of the two short stories that will be published in upcoming anthologies, one is borderline horror, the other is a dark fantasy.

I hope you enjoy them both with that in mind. Meanwhile, on the web site, all that has changed is the colors and the headers. Everything else is right where you'd expect to find it.

And me.

I'm here too. I hope to see you around.

Monday
Apr082013

a review and a giveaway

In the midst of all the bad news from last week, I had a very bright moment when Bastard Books reviewed Miserere and opened his post with: "Miserere: An Autumn Tale is the debut novel by Teresa Frohock, and it's beautifully written as promised in the very first paragraph."

Don't worry, he also tells you what I did wrong ... he's the Bastard and I'd expect nothing less than the truth! That is why I read his blog and you should too.

But I digress ... what I came here to tell you about is how you can get a copy of Miserere for free. You've got a chance to win a signed copy of a [soon-to-be] rare edition of Miserere. Over at Bastard Books, the Bastard is hosting a worldwide giveaway for one signed copy of Miserere (I'll be signing it, not the Bastard).

You can find out how easy it is to enter by clicking this link ...

Go on.

You know you want it ...

Friday
Apr052013

it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine

Well, not so much, but hey, what can you do?

As many of you know, Miserere is tied up in Night Shade Books' attempted sale to Skyhorse/Start.

At this time, my public comment is: no comment.

I do not have years of experience that will enable me to guide other authors, nor do I discuss my personal business publicly. I am currently working with two experienced agents in order to make a decision that will be in our best interests, and as soon as I am able to talk publicly about it, I will.

Until then, there are some things that I can talk about, and one is the gratitude that I have for the genre community as a whole. I've had some really concerned, kind people checking in on me. They have offered me their expertise, a shoulder to cry on, and kind, encouraging words. I've needed all of these things this past week.

I think my husband said it best this morning: no matter what happens, the publication of Miserere allowed me to build an audience--I know there are at least eight of you--but more importantly, I have had the chance to get to know you all. I have met talented, dedicated authors from all over the genre community, and I am proud to call many of them my friends. I have also been privileged to work with some of the finest book bloggers online. No matter what happens with Night Shade Books, I do not regret the past--I have learned from it.

And guess what?

There are no safety nets. Ever. This is real life. Everything is a chance, an opportunity, as my Lucian would say. Sometimes everything turns out all right, sometimes it all falls apart. You just never know. Having friends helps.

I don't know what is going to happen with Miserere, Dolorosa, or Bellum Dei right now. We'll have to wait and see.

Regardless of the outcome, stick with me.

I have more stories to tell.

I think you might even like some of them.

Meanwhile, thank you. Thank you for supporting Night Shade authors, thank you for supporting Miserere, and thank you for all of your virtual love. Just knowing you guys are out there helps all of us as we negotiate these foreign waters.

Monday
Apr012013

The Citadel's Library of Antiquities--Jael Eliade's sword

April is home to National Library Week (April 14-20). In celebration of libraries real and imagined, I thought I'd share some of Woerld's antiquities with you via the Citadel's library catalog:

Title: Two-Handed Sword of Jael Eliade, Captain of the Citadel's Elite Blue Guard

Catalog number: 64Ier.W.4.08

Creation Date: 5778

Object Type: Weaponery

Classification Term: Arms

Materials and Techniques: steel, leather and wire bound grip

Dimensions: Blade: 76.2 cm, broken 51.1 cm below the ricasso, Quillions: 25.4 cm, Grip: 22.86 cm, Ricasso: 25.1 cm

The sword is distinguished by the Citadel's alpha/omega symbol on the pommel. The ricasso bears the initials JAE over the Citadel's motto, Ut unum sint. At 51.1 cm below the ricasso, the blade is splintered and charred.

Historical records date Eliade's presence in the city of Ierusal prior to the final battle in the War of the Great Schism. Eliade served as the Citadel's Apocrisiarius (chief diplomat) for the Citadel in Ierusal. Eliade was one of five Katharoi who joined with Sujata Samant, Apocrisiarius for the Mandir, to form the Sacra Rosa. A Katharos’s soul can remain close to their weapon, especially if the blade is passed to another before death. No trace of Eliade's soul can be detected in this sword, which was found in its current state at Ierusal's eastern gate. The blade is on display in the Citadel Library.

Courtesy of the Citadel’s Library of Antiquities.

Sunday
Mar172013

misunderstandings and more woerld-, er, world building

Art supplies, tracing paper, atlases, and the trusty laptop commandeered my kitchen table as I exercised cartographic muscles I didn't realize that I possessed. My husband took one look at the mess and said, "So, let me understand this: you are using a map of places that DO exist in order to construct a map of a place that DOES NOT exist?"

"Yes."

And that, my friends, is essentially what I've done with Woerld from the beginning. I am giving you your world back to you--regurgitated in a different form--maybe better in some ways, maybe worse, but it is an alternative world/Woerld of my imagination. However, in order to do that, I wanted to build upon the familiar.

I talked about it in another post that I wrote sometime ago when a reviewer, who wasn't very linguistically savvy, intimated that I made up the the word "Woerld" because "woe" constituted the first three letters. Woerld, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a medieval spelling of the word "world."

The word inspires the familiar. The spelling throws a twist into an otherwise known factor. Most readers got the twists and turns in Miserere, others focused primarily on the familiar.

Michael C. Hayes, in his superb cover art, picked up on the familiarity of the Templars as Christian knights. Hayes projected his thoughts onto the cross on Lucian's chest (and on the swords and other insignia in the cover art), which is a Templar cross. There was nothing wrong with this at all, by the way. I'm just using Hayes' art to show you how we all project our own experiences into the stories that we read.

The cross, Templar or otherwise, is not the Citadel's emblem. The Citadel's emblem is the alpha and omega combined to create an overlapping image. This was also deliberate on my part.

I could have used a crucifix, which is symbolic of the passion, or a resurrection cross, which is symbolic of the eternal life thereafter, or even the Templars' cross, which Hayes favored. Instead, I chose a symbol used most often on scholarly publications--the alpha and the omega. I always saw my bastions, all of them, as being much more like universities.

The focus on the Christians and the Citadel was due to Lucian and his biography. The time period and location of Lucian's birth would have made him an Eastern Orthodox Christian. A lot of people confused Eastern Orthodox with Catholic, and part of that was my fault. In creating the Citadel's rites and rituals, I went back to many early forms of Christianity that predated the schism between the east and the west. While I tried to remain true to Eastern Orthodox rites, it is, frankly, hard to beat out the Roman Catholics for flash and glamor--hence the exorcism performed in Miserere is Roman Catholic.

Unfortunately, Miserere experienced something of a Christian-anathema, and this attitude created a backlash that I wasn't prepared for--not just among fans but among a few other fantasy authors as well. For a while, I was mistaken for a Christian fiction writer, even though Miserere can in no way be categorized as Christian fiction. People who attempt to pass Miserere off as Christian fiction do not fully understand the Christian fiction market--or Christianity, for that matter.

Fortunately, a lot of fantasy authors have praised the book. I've even had atheists tell me that they've enjoyed the story, because it is not about religion but about people. When people read Miserere, some of them remark that they see the romance, others see an epic story, while others see only the religion. What they see is a reflection of themselves in the world that I created.

If you had asked me, last year this time, if I was going to write any other novels set in Woerld, I would have said no. Never.

However, a lot of people are asking for a second book--enough people are asking that I intend to work on Dolorosa. I'm curious what they will see this time. I am not afraid of those who misunderstand my intent. Those kinds of people only see reflections of themselves and their own prejudices in everything.

I've made a map of Woerld and am working with a friend to bring it to life. Like everything else in Woerld, it will be a familiar reflection of what is here on earth. Once I have acclimated you to Woerld and its hierarchies and bastions and places, I want you to get ready, because in Dolorosa, we are going to Hell ...

Sunday
Mar102013

a new page for Woerld

I've been working this weekend to create something new for the website. When writers submit a novel to an editor, we are sometimes asked for something called a series sheet. While I went over my notes on Dolorosa, I have been referring back and forth to the series sheet that I created for Miserere. I needed to refresh my memory as to the rules I constructed around Woerld. As I worked through those maps and notes, I thought some of you might like to see my brief history of Woerld.

Thanks to everyone on Facebook who checked links (*waves at Andy*) and who caught pokes for spokes (*waves at Tammy*), and special thanks to Mihir for his wonderful help on checking names and titles for the Mandir and the Mosque.

Anyway, Woerld is finally live and ready for everyone to peek at. I'll be adding bastions to the page when I have time. When I've made significant changes, I'll update you all through a blog post.