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Death comes for us all.

Keep her as your friend.

 Read "La Santisima"

What's New:

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.


"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: An Autumn Tale (61)


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.]


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.


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?


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.


I am writing and reading and writing some more ...

... Or a very teeny update.

In the month of May, I completed two different short stories, "Naked the Night Sings," which will appear in the Manifesto: UF Anthology published by Angelic Knight Press (coming in September 2013), and a new story "Love, Crystal and Stone," which I intend to submit for consideration in the Neverland's Library Anthology.

Neverland's Library Anthology is winding into the final hours of its crowdfunding drive, so go right here to help fund this anthology. They have a super line-up of authors who are confirmed participants in the anthology, and none other than Tad Williams will be writing the introduction.

Just so that you know I'm not slacking off here: between these two stories, I wrote approximately 11,900 words, which is about one-quarter of a novel.

Also in May, I finished reading the very well-written Heir of Night by Helen Lowe. I am working on a review for you.

I will be posting at BookSworn later this week with a never-before-seen-authentic-hand-drawn map of Woerld, drawn by ... ahem ... none other than me.

I have several other things in the works, but if I fall silent again, then it's because I've returned to work on my new novel Cygnet Moon.

And that is all that I have for you right now. Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, watch for me ... I'll be around.


Worldwide Miserere giveaway ...

NOTE: This contest is offically over. Please see Miserere giveaway--the winners!

Okay, people, here is the deal:

I was cleaning the house--yes, yes, I know, the end is truly here--and I noticed that I still had a box that contained several copies of my debut novel Miserere.

Hmmm, said my brain.

My brain says that sometimes over mundane things.

What can I do with this box of books?

Frankly, I'm getting old, and it's becoming more difficult to keep moving that box of books around, and the holidays are here, and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy ...

Okay, I'm NOT feeling warm and fuzzy, but all the rest is true.

So I'm giving away some books.

To be clear: these are autographed, first print runs of my debut novel Miserere: An Autumn Tale. I will sign the book to you or to the individual of your choice in case you want to give one away as a gift. If you want no name in it so you can pimp it on Ebay, that's cool too.

I'm flexible like that.

In order to enter the contest to win one of THREE SIGNED COPIES OF MISERERE -- leave a comment and tell me how you found out about this contest. One entry per person. I'm serious about that.

The contest will run from Monday, December 3, 2012 -- Monday, December 10, 2012.

If you have difficulty leaving a comment, FOR ANY REASON, just click Contact Me and shoot me an email. Same rules apply. Tell me where you found out about this contest.

I will enter everyone into my magic Excel spreadsheet and will charge the sacred Random Number Finder to pick three winners.


What are you waiting for?



A new beginning with Marlene Stringer, Literary Agent

I've not been around much for November, because there have been some rather dramatic changes going on in the background. Early in November, my literary agent Weronika Janczuk and I amicably parted ways. Her life-path is taking her down a different route, and I wish her all the success in the world. I will always be grateful to her for her advice and input and also for helping me kick off my career as a writer. She made my first two years as an author a very positive experience.

However, even as Weronika moves on, so must I.

I am very pleased and excited (I mean bouncy-happy-excited if you can imagine such a thing) to announce that I am now represented by Marlene Stringer of The Stringer Literary Agency. I have long admired Marlene and enjoyed the works of the authors that she represents (Alex Bledsoe, Erica Hayes, Liane Merciel, Jennifer Blom, Medeia Sharif to name a few), so I am exceptionally happy--and quite proud, to be honest--to be featured in her line-up of clients.

I've done some research into La Santa Muerte for a short-story idea that I'd like to write. I intend to share a little of that information in a blog post later on. You can also watch for Random Notes, a new series of posts that will highlight source material from my research. I'll post those tidbits as I come across them. I am also making a dedicated effort to blog in a more timely fashion.


No. Really. I am.

And that is where I have been and what I have been up to ... what about you? Share your news in the comments and tell me what you've been up to in the feral month of November.


an edited scene from Miserere

One thing I like to do when I'm working on a novel is make up short conversations between the characters. This gives me a chance to let them say whatever pops into my head. I don't worry about setting or context. It's a My Dinner with Andre sort of thing where I just let them talk to see where the conversation leads. I uncover a lot of character motivations using this technique and sometimes, it reveals subtleties of characterization that I might otherwise miss.

This is from one of my earlier scenes [read: edited scenes] between Lucian and Rachael. This scene predates the events in Miserere. They are discussing Catarina:

Rachael met Lucian’s black glare with a challenge of her own. “Don’t you see, Lucian? Cate only loves you insofar as she loves herself. She sees you as an extension of herself.”

“You’re very perceptive about other people and their intents. Tell me, what do you see in yourself?”

“This isn’t about me.”

“Yes,” he said. “It is.”

“Then tell me what happened.”

“I’ll tell you a story.”

“No stories. I only want to know what’s real.”

“All stories are real.”


Ilona Andrews reviews Miserere

I'm really glad that I didn't know Mihir and Bastard put together a bag of books for New York Times Bestselling author Ilona Andrews. I'm even happier that I didn't know that bag of books included Miserere. I don't think I would have slept a wink for weeks.

And let me pause here to give Mihir and Bastard and huge THANKS! You guys are the best.

As it was, I was blissfully ignornant and now I am just blissful. I haven't stopped grinning all day.

If you haven't caught me tweeting about it earlier today, please stop in and check out Ilona's review for Miserere: An Autumn Tale. It just made my entire week, especially the part about Miserere being like dark chocolate ... mmmmm dark chocolate.


Special Needs in Strange Worlds & The Lightning Tree

Today I am visiting with Sarah at BookWorm Blues for an extraordinary event at her blog called Special Needs in Strange Worlds. I talk about how I handled Lucian's and Rachael's disabilities in Miserere. Sarah is hosting an entire month of authors and book bloggers, who are all talking about special needs in the strange worlds they inhabit. It's a super month of guest posts, don't miss any of them.

If you're curious about Miserere, you can check out Miserere's most recent review at The Lightning Tree where Jess Hyslop has some wonderful things to say about Miserere.


Would you like to be a character in Dolorosa?

StellarCon 36 is hosting a charity auction on Saturday, March 3, 2012 to help out two very worthy causes: Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro and Patrick Rothfuss's favorite charity Worldbuilders.

The good folks at StellarCon 36 have asked for donations, and I am offering up two items for two separate bids:

  1. An autographed copy of Miserere: An Autumn Tale
  2. A Tuckerization in Dolorosa: A Winter's Dream.

The autographed copy is pretty self-explanatory, but the Tuckerization comes with rules so that everyone's expectations are on the same page. Here is how it shall work:

The Katharoi series takes place in Woerld. Here, the four realms of existence—Heaven, Earth, Woerld, and Hell—are like four lakes joined by tiny streams; toss a pebble into Hell and the ripples would extend to the farthermost reaches of Heaven.

Woerld is Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell. The Fallen Angels and their demons seek to open the Hell Gates so their hordes may conquer Woerld, then they intend to overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates. The Katharoi are spiritual warriors on par with the Knights Templar. Rather than just Christianity, the Katharoi represent all the religions on Earth—there are Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans—and each religion maintains a bastion where they train their members to fight the Fallen.

Now here are the rules for the Tuckerization:

Since the members of the Katharoi are children from Earth who have been drawn through the Crimson Veil into Woerld, you can keep your real name. The character will have your name only and any physical or psychological characteristics will be up to the author and your choice of alignment. In other words, the author (that being me) retains all rights to the character.

You get three choices:

  1. You can pick your bastion (or which religion you would like to be associated with);
  2. If you are atheist or agnostic, let me know and I will work you into the story from that angle. (For example, I need a knife merchant and no affiliation to any religion need be mentioned if that is your preference.);
  3. You can be aligned with the Fallen as a human (just be aware that things often turn out very badly for those in option #3).

After that, you’ll have to trust me to work you and your role into the story. If something should happen and Dolorosa isn't published, I will do everything in my power to assure the winner of the StellarCon 36 Charity Auction Dolorosa Tuckerization some form of a Tuckerization in a future novel; however, in a future novel, your name may need to be changed slightly to fit the novel and the location of the story. We'll burn that bridge together when the time comes. Either way (in Dolorosa or in a future novel), I retain full creative license to write the character for the story.

Where will all this be?

Place: Best Western High Point, 135 South Main St, High Point, NC 27260

Time: Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. see your StellarCon 36 program for the location

Note: You must be present to bid.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at StellarCon 36 and helping to raise money for these wonderful organizations.


The Ranting Dragon reviews Miserere