July Camp 2018

I’m not ready for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’m going for it anyway. I’ve given myself a target of 30K again, but I doubt I’ll stick to one project. I’ve been wavering for weeks and I’m no closer to a decision, even though I wrote 4K words of notes today. These are the projects I’ll be working on.

DeMobbed

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I’m going to have another crack at DeMobbed. I love the story, but I think because it’s so far away in terms of a release date—I have nine books in line before this one—it doesn’t seem so urgent. I would like to add about 10K to this one, just to move it on a bit. It’s at 40K right now after I slashed it in half for being too waffly and too smutty—who knew that was a thing? I have plans for a sequel brewing too, with a tonne of notes. Planning the sequel has helped me figure out where the first one needs to go and how it needs to end. You can read some first draft scenes from DeMobbed here. My Pinterest board for this project can be found here.

No Good Comes

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So, I’m gonna sound like a loon, but the notes I made today are for a sequel to No Good Comes, which will actually help me a little bit with characterisation because this new series—yes, I’ve finally decided it will be a series—will feature the same characters all the way through, but focus on different relationships, not necessarily romantic ones. The first book is now called No Good Comes: When You Dig Up the Dead. You can read some first draft scenes here. My Pinterest board for this project can be found here.

For the first time, I have a couple of short stories in mind, one may even extend to a novella depending on where it takes me. Both are based on the same lore as all the other books and contain backstories.

The Lion and the Wolf

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The short story is about a bloodborn vampire whose presence is first felt in book 3 of NTSR and a vaewolf we meet in book 4. It’s about a rescue that goes wrong because it feels like imprisonment rather than freedom. It’s about a love that was never given a chance. It’s about a man with dirty hands who wants the man he loves to stay clean. It’s about a lion and a wolf. I’m hoping to finish this, however long it ends up being.

Title to be confirmed. Currently referring to it as Puddles (which sounds like a circus dog)

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The potential novella is about a well-demon running amok in the foggy streets of Victorian London, and archangels, Uriel and Bel, who investigate the shady shenanigans plaguing the city. Essentially, it’s a Holmes and Watson style piece with a touch of farce and an avalanche of gruesome in the shape of a Scottish duke called James Stewart, who features in book 3 of NTSR. It came to me when I woke up with this line in my head: The gentleman fell off the roof of the carriage into the jaws of a puddle. I’m hoping for at least 5K.

I finished the new scenes and rewrites of Moonstruck Consent, book 4 of NTSR during the April camp as planned. I’ve just started the edits for book 5, Legacies Unmasked, which has had a zillion rewrites and makes me want to throw it out the window—even though it doesn’t even exist in physical format. I literally want to print it out just so I can throw it out. Therefore, I’ll be limiting myself to one scene per day while I’m doing camp, and because I’m cutting it—which I’ll definitely enjoy—there will be no words to add to my count.

Good luck to all of you signed up to the July camp. Have fun!

Meet Caleb Morrigan

“Who the hell are you?”

The Irish voice came from behind us, and we all spun to see the dark-haired guy standing outside the kitchen doorway in his boxers, t-shirt and socks. He had a box of rice krispies in one hand and an upturned beer bottle like it was a weapon in the other.

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A mixture of quotes and partial scenes from books 3-6.

Caleb is a bi vampire with unsettling food habits and a reputation for seducing nuns.

From Sean’s diary …

After so many years of carrying my mother’s wish that I find my family, there he was, Caleb Morrigan. I didn’t even need to check that we were related, I just knew. I found myself in his face before I even knew his name. He was a festering pile of bones, well beyond redemption by ordinary means, and halfway to death if the way he looked at me was any indication. He looked at me the way my mother had, like he saw right into my soul and found it warring with itself. To see someone look at me with such pity when their own innards were a spit away from spilling was sobering. I filled the poor lad with brandy, took out all the metal I could, bit and fed him, then strapped him to the bed and hoped for the best.
***

Ten minutes later, Caleb was in the kitchen, lured by the smell of bacon and eggs.

“I haven’t felt this bad since …” Caleb’s face scrunched up while he tried to remember. “It’s a toss-up between that night with Moonie when I broke my arm falling out of a window, and the time I ended up stuck on a tour bus with that weird Swedish band and their fish vodka.”

I was dishing up Caleb’s food when I heard Albert sing, and I froze because it was so unexpected.

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now.

“Oh, shut it,” said Caleb, groaning into his hands.

Albert didn’t shut it. I put a plate in front of Caleb and ruffled his hair.

“Ah, you can’t faze me now,” said Caleb. “I have bacon.”
***

“Give it here, you horrible shit-witch.”
***

“You haven’t lived if you can’t own up to watching a human stag wake up in the woods with frilly knickers wrapped around his antlers.”
***

“That boy’s charms swept through my convent like typhoid.” —Sister Carlotta on Caleb Morrigan.

From Sean’s diary …

He managed to give four of the nuns in the room the idea that they were the object of his desire, and by the time I picked him up, having been held captive by somewhat curious nuns for eight hours, he had another four convinced, all of them set aflutter by a sweet-talking Irishman. And as if that wasn’t enough, half of BOSS would have thrown itself at his feet if Albert hadn’t been there to calm them all down. As it was, three of them were ruined when they threw themselves at him, and even Albert couldn’t stop the last one chasing us down the road.
***

“And were you going to walk into the village,” said Caleb, pointing to the pinwheels in Leia’s hair, “or simply project yourself as a hologram from a small droid?”
***

“I’d rather wipe my arse with a brillo pad than sit through another biblical epic.”
***

“Why is my tongue too big for my mouth? I think … have I been poisoned again? My tongue’s too big.”
***

“Drunk and stupid,” said Caleb, grinning at Albert. He lurched to his feet, swayed, then sat down again. “You look funny,” he said, pointing at Albert. “And you. And you. And you. And you.” He pointed at Daniel and Rhiannon and two entirely invisible people.
***

Caleb spun around, his arm outstretched, cucumber in hand. “En garde.
***

“Love is a cage.”
***

“I didn’t seduce your wife,” said Caleb, with a sigh. “She wouldn’t let me.”
***

“I won’t make excuses for myself. I’ve always been an arsehole.”
***

“That’s what I do, angel. Everyone knows I’m filth. I drink and I lust.”
***

“I beg to differ,” said Caleb, lifting a bottle to his lips. “Whiskey is the perfect solution.”
***

“It was the things I saw. I never knew blood came in so many colours. Or that I’d ever see a man’s face charred black like coal. Or that I’d see my own intestines.”
***

“I didn’t encourage her on purpose. She caught me looking at her mouth. How was I supposed to not look at her mouth? She looks like she’s been snogging a tub of lard.”
***

“I’m not a bloody vampire.” Kite jerked a thumb at a laughing Caleb. “He is.”

“No way,” said Noah. “He’s too … laddish.”

“I’m offended,” said Caleb.

“He’s so … so harmless.”

“Still offended,” said Caleb, his face drawing into a frown.

“Is he … some kind of pet?”

“Jesus Christ, Noah,” said Caleb. “I’m going right off you.”

“Sorry, I just don’t understand why anyone would invite a vampire into their house. If you really are a vampire.”

“You want proof?”

Noah nodded, then watched as Caleb clamped down on his own wrist, fangs lengthening and stabbing into his flesh. Blood seeped from the holes, tracking its way around Caleb’s wrist before he pulled his mouth away. Caleb licked up the blood and held out his rapidly healing wrist for Noah’s inspection.

“It could be a trick,” said Noah, leaning away from Caleb.

“I could try it on your wrist.”
***

“God, no. Don’t tell Leia,” said Caleb. “You do that, and I nominate you to sew my balls back on.”
***

“What good ever came of creeping about in underground tunnels?” muttered Caleb. “I’ll tell you what kind of good. None kind of good.”
***

“I’m no fecking angel,” said Caleb, as the ancient nun came into view. “Jesus, she’s got more wrinkles than my—”
***

“Just before you pulled me into the water,” he said, gasping, “someone shot me in the arse.”
***

“If we don’t hurry up, someone’s gonna need to amputate my arse.”
***

“If you laugh at me, woman, I will haunt you.”
***

“You know what we need?” said Caleb. “A good night out.”

“I’m not going river-dancing with you.”

“You couldn’t keep up, angel. I was thinking bingo might be more your speed.”

“Bingo?” I laughed. “Maybe I could do with a night out. I’ll see if there’s a decent band at the Rabbit Hole this weekend.”

“There you go.”

“I could invite Sister Josephine,” I said. “She knows how to party.”

“Oh god, no.”

“But you love nuns.”

“That is a gross exaggeration,” he said, turning me around to face him. “Don’t forget to invite your favourite Irishman.”

I gasped. “Jedward are in England?”

“Gobshite.”
***

It was a week before I got out of bed, and that was only because Caleb dragged me out and threw me into the shower in my pyjamas.

“In two days, it’s my birthday. And if you think I’m celebrating while my favourite person is wallowing in her pit like some kind of grieving hippo, you’re sorely mistaken. We,” he pointed between the two of us while the hot water thundered onto my head, “are going to the Rabbit Hole, just like you said. We’re going to get rat-arsed. Well, you are. I’m being a good boy. And we’re going to river-dance, and behave in appropriately inappropriate ways, because it’s not every day a man turns ninety-nine.”

“Ninety-nine?” I said, leaning out of the shower to grab my toothbrush. “You’re ninety-nine?”

“Yes,” he said proudly.

“That’s adorable,” I said, through my foamy mouth.

“That’s disgusting,” said Caleb, when I spat toothpaste down the shower drain.

“Says the butt-scratching king of Ballycastle.”

“And how is ninety-nine adorable?”

“Because everyone else around here is ancient. You’re practically a child.”

“A child? Oh, you’re a cheeky mare. And here I was feeling bad for you.”

“I don’t need your pity,” I said, dropping my sopping wet pyjama bottoms to the floor. “I’m free as a bird.”

“I’ll leave you to it then,” he said. “Before you get any more naked.”

I pulled his head into the shower, giving him a big smooch on the cheek. “Thanks, nun-botherer.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, shaking his head and flicking water everywhere. Then he shouted, “cow” at me as he left the bathroom.
***

“I can’t open my eyes.” Caleb’s voice was barely a whisper. “And I really want to because it’s redder than Hell’s ring-piece behind my eyelids. And twice as puffy.”

***

If you want to read more about Violet’s favourite Irishman, a first draft scene from book 5 featuring Caleb can be found here.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

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I did actually win NaNoWriMo last November, I’m just slack-fingered when it comes to telling you about it. I finished at 76,009 words, but it’s been pruned back since then because I got all organic and wrote a heap of trash. It’s about a bunch of Vegas runaways who steal a sentient campervan and a three-legged dog. There are vampires, angels, ethereal beings, seers, demons and lots of queerness. I’m going to be working on it for April Camp, along with two other projects.

The first of these is book four of the not*the*same*river series, which follows Violet, a young person of complicated heritage, as she negotiates her way out of the hands of a deranged demon bishop. A friend is fatally injured by the weapon that was handed over as ransom for Violet’s safe return, so Violet has to face her captor once again to get the triblade back and save her friend. She faces werewolves, vaewolves, an army of clones, the stinking, hypnotising Devi Kappa and the paralysing Kernyx.

The other project is a New Adult LGBT+ novel about a mentor who works at the social services branch of Cascade (an un/holy task force) which prepares new vampires for life beyond the grave, and her new client who likes breaking rules almost as much as she does. Ignoring protocol, they set out to solve each other’s murders.

My overall target is 30,000 words.

Good luck and happy writing to anyone else doing April Camp this year.

That which we call a rose

 

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When I started the not the same river project, there were no websites to help me find interesting names. There was no internet at all. It was the year Eastenders arrived on the telly. The year Roger Moore stopped pretending to be James Bond. The year the wreck of the Titanic was found. The year of Live Aid. The year we said hello to Keira Knightley, Lewis Hamilton and Wayne Rooney.

There were no websites at all.

There was no internet.

NO INTERNET!

If I wanted to play a computer game, I had to plug a cartridge into the back of the keyboard or use a tape recorder. If, as a writer, I wanted to find names for my characters, I watched the telly, listened to the radio, or read magazines. So as you’ve probably worked out by now, the year was 1985 (thanks Wikipedia).

My character sketches were simple and some of the names I came up with were pretty bonkers. Or at least they were back then. Having checked the Nameberry lists of popular names, I was surprised to find so many of my character names there (not just the bonkers ones). Even the car’s name is on there. Yes, cars can have names too.

So here’s where the names I chose rate in 2017 and where I got them from in 1985.

 

7. Silas – Silas Marner by George Eliot

18. My MC, Violet – named after one of my great aunts

20. Elizabeth – the childhood friend who inspired Violet

25. Caleb – from stories my grandad used to tell me in his Northern Irish accent (not from a book)

32. Elijah – a holy book

43. Soren – boy from infant school whose name I thought was Sorry for ages (I have never met another Soren, for which I am sorry)

51. Ezra – a holy book (nobody was called this in real life)

55. Archer – BBC Radio show, The Archers (nobody was called this in 1985)

57. Daniel – childhood friend’s brother

61. Adam – biblical first man

62. Luke – Star Wars

76. Magnus – Magnus Magnusson

78. Serafina – childhood friend’s cat

79. Wesley – boy from school

87. Gabriel – archangel

101. Harvey – childhood friend’s massive dog (think it was a Boxer)

125. Noah – guy with the ark

154. Amos – Seth’s sidekick on Emmerdale (nobody under the age of 70 was called this)

180. Eden – a holy book

186. Arlo – I was convinced I’d made this name up because everyone, EVERYONE, told me it wasn’t a real name in 1985, but I guess I must’ve heard it somewhere.

322. Albert – German royal family (only old men were called this)

325. Piper (female only) – my Piper is male – Pied Piper of Hamlin story (simply was not a name in the UK)

341. Mara – Irish folklore

388. Seth – ITV show, Emmerdale (or as it was known back then, Emmerdale Farm)

404. Benedict – an order of monks who made a herbal liquer (Cumberbatch was still in short trousers)

419. Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac song

461. Leia – Star Wars

760. Goldie – included because it’s the car’s name – a gold Ford Capri, named after Goldie Hawn

807. Jed – The Beverly Hillbillies (old man name)

 

Other character names not on Nameberry (some for good reason)…

Kite – type of bird from the Osiris myth (Egypt)

Jess – Postman Pat’s cat

Boxer – because he’s a pugilist

Old Bones – because he’s an augur

War – because he’s the son of the angel of peace – 32 year old irony at work

Cedar – tree

Maggie – Maggie Philbin (who had terrible hair for at least a decade)

 

It’s great that there are so many resources out there to help us find interesting or authentic names for our characters. It’s greater still when you discover later that the names you chose have greater significance for the characters and their arcs than you first realised. I love those discoveries.

Nameberry