Yep, That Critique Response Is Coming Right Up. But First . . .

So I’m behind. The plan is to get the critique response up on Sunday. There were a lot of comments–you guys do good work–and I’m still sifting through everything.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a lot of different aspects of the book because as one thing shifts, it shifts the thing next to it, and it becomes like a giant box of gears, turning in all directions. And one of the directions it went in was toward the collages. In the beginning, still under the influence of Lucifer, I used Tom Ellis, the star of that show, as my placeholder for Nick. That wasn’t right–no shade to Mr. Ellis who is very good on the show–because that wasn’t my story and it definitely wasn’t my kind of hero. That collage looked like this:

Working Collage

That’s actually what the first scenes sounded like, too. But it just wasn’t right, and the closer I got to Nick and Nita as I ripped up pages and rewrote and ripped some more, the more I knew that wasn’t my book. So I finally sat down and thought, “Okay, what am I trying to capture here?” And as I looked back over all the stuff I’d written (most of which you haven’t seen) and all the rewrites and things that came closest to capturing what I wanted, I realized that Nita is another fix-it heroine with a savior complex, and I know that heroine. I love that heroine. She’s not grumpy, but she’s no sweetheart, either. Especially with Nita, there’s an edge. Lotta anger in Nita. (Okay, lotta anger in all my heroines.)

And then there was Nick. I had a helluva time with Nick, which was appropriate but still frustrating. For awhile, I decided he wasn’t the bastard son of the Borgia pope, but that was too useful, so that went back in. I finally realized it was the whole admin thing, the guy who’s good at filing. That just wasn’t right. On the other hand, the slick pick-up artist of the TV show was even farther off the mark. So who was Nick? I looked back over the stuff I’d written for him in the later parts of the book, and he’s calm, ruthless, cold, efficient, and . . . kind of a thug. That was the part I was missing. So maybe he hadn’t been his father’s admin guy, maybe he’d been his fixer. Maybe he came from a long line of crooks and thugs, which meant he was descended equally from devils and angels (assuming the popes on his father’s side were the good guys, that’s up for debate). He has a heritage of taking what he wants and a heritage of serving others. And he’s had five hundred years of observing humanity without emotion because he’s dead. He’d pretty much have the potential to be either a master criminal or a savior hero. His only real flaw would be that lack of emotion; he’d be almost a machine at this point, and a fairly scary machine at that. Okay, that guy I could get behind. More than that, Nita could put a major spoke in that guy’s wheel. That would be interesting. I thought they might look like this:

NN Halftone 2 copy

So I did another collage, trying to get the right vibe, warm yet threatening, weird yet all the trappings of traditional romance. It’s not done yet, of course. It probably won’t be done until I’m in the copy edit stage. But it’s definitely closer to Nick and Nita.

NN6 Sept

And now I must go back to writing. I just realized Nick isn’t the Devil, he’s the Devil Elect. He’ll be the Devil when Satan retires at midnight, Hell Time. SO much more fun to write.

So I’ll get back to you on the critique response. In the meantime, there are bunnies manners in tomorrow’s Cherry Saturday. Bunnies manners are always good. Plus Labor Day Weekend! Have a marvelous last weekend of the summer, everybody. I’ll be over here writing my dead hero and the woman who’s going to make him so crazy he starts breathing again. I think I’ve finally found my story.

45 thoughts on “Yep, That Critique Response Is Coming Right Up. But First . . .

    1. I kept looking at him, thinking the vibe was right but he was too young.
      So I checked. He’s 44. The guy knows how to age well.
      He’s also a real melting pot with an ancestry that looks like the globe.

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      1. De-lurking to point out that Wentworth Miller is of mixed race ancestry. I haven’t followed enough to know exactly how you are positioning Nick’s heritage, but Alessandro de Medici was believed to be the child of Pope Clement VII (before he was a Pope) and a Moorish slave, and even nicknamed Il Moro by his contemporaries (this is all pulled from the V&A website). I know you are wrestling with de-whitening your characters, and there could be some interesting ways to go with Nick if you position him as someone whose otherness was also thrust upon him by racial attitudes of the day. (But you may already be doing this, so if so, I apologize.)

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          1. Nope, you gave me extra info; the quick research I did into Alexander didn’t have the Moorish stuff. Thank you.

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        1. I had looked at Miller’s ancestry because of his facial features and he identifies his mother as white and his father as black even though both are of mixed race ancestry themselves. Nick’s already going to have a rough enough row to hoe back in the fifteenth century because he’s a bastard and his mother’s family are of lower class; Alessandro was a pretty astute guy and managed to climb the hierarchy and took his family with him, and I think that’s all the Alessandro back story I have room for. I haven’t read anything about Miller having racial problems, but that could be because he looks white, or because he has enough problems being gay.
          And never apologize for helpful info. I need all the help I can get.

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          1. Re Miller’s experience of realism, one of his first prominent roles was playing a character who passed in mid-20th century America. So it’s definitely been part of his public identity (even though he’s more known for being gay). And, like Vin Diesel, he tends to keep his hair short enough that he maintains greater racial ambiguity. My internet research says he’s mostly talked about in the context of being a secondhand witness (due to his light-skinned passing).

            And I’m looking forward to whatever story you choose to tell, but it intrigued me that the GitB sent you the opportunity to explore a nonwhite character without some of the modern concerns (I.e. cultural clues/ speech patterns) that can be problematic in writing cross-culturally.

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        2. Holy cow, I had no idea. As a red headed Mexican girl myself, I try not to make assumptions, but this one caught me by surprise.

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      2. I could not figure out where I recognized him from, but it turns out he was in an episode of Buffy (season 2, Go Fish). He really hasn’t aged! He doesn’t look much older now than he did then.

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        1. He was one of the swimmers who turned into a monster. He’s really fun to watch no matter what he’s in. Lotta attitude.
          I looked at him and thought, “Right vibe, but way too young, I need somebody in his thirties.” He’s 44.

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  1. This whole “lotta anger in my heroines:” I don’t really see it. But I really relate to many, many of your heroines. I’m not sure I care for where the logic here is going. 😀

    “Master criminal or savior hero:” Didn’t Leverage teach us those are not mutually exclusive? 😉

    Wait wait wait: I hope that “AND” is for collage purposes only! I’m still giggling about The Devil IN Nita Dodd….

    “I finally found my story:” Fellow commenters, do we send flowers to whoever decided to air Lucifer and do such a poor job?

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    1. The title is interesting (to me).
      If this turns out to be Nita’s book (like Maybe This Time), it’s The Devil In Nita Dodd.
      If this turns out to be a romance (like Agnes and the Hitman), it’s The Devil and Nita Dodd.
      I won’t really know until it’s done.

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  2. “…As one thing shifts, it shifts the thing next to it, and it becomes like a giant box of gears, turning in all directions.”

    A buttefly flaps it wings on page 2, and on page 160 a hurricane accidentally opens a portal to Hell?

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    1. Well, chaos is one way to describe my process.

      It’s more steampunkish, I think. A happens and makes B do something and C do something and D do something. Because B does something, A reacts, but C and D also react. So that’s two impacts on C and D. Now keep going because meanwhile A’s actions are bouncing off the others again.

      So Mort texts Nita.

      Nita is drunk and texts Button by mistake.
      Button goes to get Nita.
      Mort takes a picture to show Nita.

      Nita and Button have a conflict because she’s drunk
      Button meets Mort and forms an alliance (not a romance).
      Mort tries to talk Nita into the bar and fails.

      Clint finds out they’re talking and joins them . . .

      Every time another character is added to the scene, that characters turns all the other characters. It’s why multi-character scenes have to be cleaner that dual-character scenes, everybody’s reacting to everybody else.

      So one butterfly flaps its wings and wakes up three other butterflies . . .

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      1. I love that DRUNK TEXTING solved the Button problem. and probably autocorrect? Cause Button is longer than Mort?

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      2. In classical French theatre texts, a scene “changes”–it gets a separate number in the written text–every time any character enters or exits. First time I saw that on the page it was a revelation.

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        1. There’s an old saying in fiction writing that there are only two kinds of stories: a character comes to town or a character leaves town.
          I think it might go back to the idea of a scene or a story being essentially the story of character change. What makes a character enter a scene and a conflict? What makes her leave?

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          1. Look at the Leverage bottle episode (“The Bottle Job”). The bad guy is leaving town . . .
            But, yes, that old saw is way too reductive.

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        1. Hey, there’s a reason it takes me so long to write a book. If people only knew about the butterflies, they wouldn’t grumble so much.

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  3. Welcome back! Do you know that both Argh Ink and Jenny Crusie.com were down for most of today, UK time? I tried them both on my iMac as well, in case it was an iPad problem, but they were definitely not responding from about 10 a.m. until I went out at about 3 p.m. I’d been finding this site very slow when uploading a comment for the past couple of days, and then it just broke completely.

    The message I kept getting today was, ‘Safari cannot load the page because the server stopped responding’.

    Love the way your characters are developing, by the way. Will now try and upload the comment I was trying to add to the ‘scenes and chapters’ blog.

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  4. “warm yet threatening”
    and this is why nothing else in the world is quite like a Crusie novel.

    and speaking of interesting ethnic atributes, there is Lou Diamond Phillips – according to Wikepedia “His father was an American of Scots-Irish and one-quarter Cherokee descent, and his mother, a native of Candelaria, Zambales, is Filipina, with distant Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and Spanish ancestry.” and has been cast as all sorts of characters. Cool dude. And gorgeous, which never hurts. Can’t remember why I thought I needed to share this. Gorgeous will be sufficient excuse.

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    1. I thought the same thing about Miller. “No wonder he’s so damn gorgeous. His DNA cherrypicked the best of every culture it could find.”
      Big Captain Cold fan here.

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  5. Ooooh, I’ve missed some posts and must catch up. It has been a busy, busy week. I’m enjoying these characters very much, and the collage is definitely interesting, but what a sad, sad dog. Ha ha. My grandmother had bassets, love them.

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  6. I love the pieces of Invictus in the opening scene, and was thinking of her continuing, with her head bloody but unbowed, through the straitened gate, Captain of… something.

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  7. Just from looking at the placeholders, it’s as though they’ve swapped attributes as the story has taken shape. In the first one, she’s cold and scary with flat, dead eyes and he looks charming but remote. In the second one, he’s cold and scary with flat, dead eyes (LOVE Captain Cold!! He is hands down the best thing about that show) and she looks charming but remote. One thing that doesn’t change is how angry she looks – somebody’s screwing with her town, and by damn she’s going to shut them down.

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    1. It’s a lot easier to write with the attributes flipped.
      I liked Cold on both Flash and LoT; I think he and Sara are the only reasons to watch the second one. I think my fave Flash episode is the one where he and Barry save his sister because you never know what side he’s on for sure. Well, you never know what side Cold is on.

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  8. You found the story! Yay!

    As a secondary project, I’m working on a contemporary romance about a dancer-turned-real-estate-packager (someone who acquires land and does all the paperwork for a development) who meets a dog trainer (who needs to hang onto his critical piece of land to build a dog rescue), so I’ve been researching dog breeds.

    One of the things I ran across is that Basset hounds are wired to process smells. Scent processing is such a huge part of their brains it’s really difficult to train them, because it’s hard to focus their attention on anything but WHAT IS THAT SMELL??

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    1. That’s a hound for you.
      But that’s not a basset hound (in my book). That’s a hellhound. I had a version where he was green but it didn’t really work all that well.

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      1. Bassett hound as hell hound reminds me of Buffy’s fear demon. Hell hounds don’t have to be like Alvin & Mohammed (A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore. Read it if you haven’t.)

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  9. Love this progress! So glad you’re excited again!
    I need the dog from the first collage in my life. He’s adorable and weird.

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  10. Sorry – I’m a few days late and haven’t had a chance to read the comments. But, ever since you mentioned the relationship with the Borgia Pope, I was picturing him to be more of a fixer, like Cezare Borgia in The Borgias. Have you seen it? If not, you MUST!!!

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  11. Love it!!

    (another person who has all your books, some in multiples, which make it easier to push them onto other people)

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