203 thoughts on “For A Short Time Only

  1. God this thing is *fun*! You’ve built up Mitzi so well I was actually chanting “Mitzi, Mitzi, Mitzi!” By the time she showed up. The interplay between her, Keres, and the Chinese food is SO EXCELLENT. I know so much about everyone in the Dodd family from just that little interplay. A deft, efficient, and ruthlessly heartbreaking bit of writing.

    And Keres. Oh Keres. Be still my beating heart, Keres just up and danced off with every scene she was in.

    My compliments to the Girls, they are sending you up some fantastic stuff!

    3+
    1. Thank you.
      Unfortunately, that was all chat. Nothing happened, people just learned things. Which is pretty typical of my discovery drafts–lotta dialogue, not much bodies-in-motion–so I’ll fix it in the rewrite.
      But very glad you enjoyed it.

      1+
      1. It was not just chat. It was banter which can also be character revealing.

        Some of us like banter.

        Please don’t make the banter go away again.

        4+
      2. All I can say is that the things I end up remembering best from your books are the banter.

        And Agnes attacking everyone with kitchen tools, but that might just be wish fulfillment.

        Actually, now that I think of it, there’s usually some motif that I just love in each book. Agnes with the kitchen tools. The running cups in …. whichever book it was. The shoes and fish in Bet Me. All lovely.

        And of course, the things that people most remark on in your drafts are clever sayings/banter. You have an amazing talent with this.

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    2. Meant to say, I love Keres, too. She’d be exhausting if she was a protagonist, but she’s so much fun as a supporting character.

      5+
      1. Agreed. I can’t decide if I want to date her or be her, but I love the energy she brings to these scenes!

        2+
      2. Exactly. Like wasabi — you love it and it enhances what you add it to but you certainly don’t want a large amount.

        Love this. You improved my day.

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  2. Love it! I know you’ll say there is much wrong, but I really enjoyed Nita’s no-good, very bad birthday.

    Has Nita never touched her mom before? That was the biggest question that popped in my head.

    2+
    1. Nita doesn’t like touching anybody, and her mother doesn’t like her. I think she’s probably touched her and seen blood before, but she’s had a lot of scupper and she’s learned a lot things and, above all, all the repressing she’s been taught to do since she was really little is shearing off because of all the reality she’s forced to consider. It’s foreshadowed somewhat in the earlier scupper scene where she can suddenly see Dag and Rab and Nick as they really are. So she’s upset, she’s had two mugs of scupper, she’s had several major shocks, and then her mother who is violently angry instead of her usual cold distance, suddenly grabs her.

      You’re right, though, I have to figure out how to foreshadow that enough that readers aren’t asking that question.

      2+
      1. I was asking it, too. Maybe foreshadow it by showing that she’s seeing Nick, Dag or Rab as themselves, again? I presume the scupper’s not working yet when she tells Dag and Rab to show themselves to Keres, because she wouldn’t know whether they were changed (apart from Keres’ reaction). And Nick’s got hooded eyes, not just skeleton when they’re upstairs (so scupper special effects are still in edit, right?).

        I presume Keres and Mort are trying to draw fire from Nita by telling their mother they’re eating fatty foods? I really liked the interaction between Keres and Rab, and how Rab seems to be the “pack for any contingency” guy.

        Does Mitzi live on the island? Because Joey getting killed was a big deal. How has Mitzi been killing dozens of people without someone twigging to the fact that people are disappearing? Especially her homocide detective daughter?

        Thanks for sharing it! I know it’s a discovery draft trying to become a truck draft, so I’m not asking questions expecting it to be perfect. I figure it’s slightly helpful to know where at least one reader ran off the road.

        2+
        1. It absolutely is helpful.
          Mitzi does not live on the island. There’s no corporation there so no work.

          0
      2. Why is Mitzi so angry? Do we find out why she doesn’t like Nita? She still seemed crazy protective despite that.

        0
        1. She’s afraid of Nita, has been ever since she was little. Yes, that comes up later. Remember the scar on Mort’s forehead? Maybe I should mention that again for the three-beat.

          1+
          1. My husband told me he fInished his new book so I gave him the paper edit to read. Then kept peeking over his shoulder. So I saw the scar sentence.

            I don’t know how far he got, but when he read about Mort, he made a comment about “Mort is short? Why did I feel like he was tall and lanky?” And I explained that he shrunk. Husband hasn’t read many of the other drafts–but I guess Mort made an immediate impression. And then the description of him made Husband also comment, “oh, he’s Harry Potter.” 🤷‍♀️

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          2. Yeah, I should move that scar. Given the history, I’m not sure where else to put it.

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          3. I could move it to his cheek, like a dueling scar. Dashing.
            It is important to the plot, so the scar has to stay.

            1+
          4. I don’t see why you need to move the scar. I have dark, messy hair and a scar on my forehead on real life. People have stopped with the Harry Potter comments at this point.

            But actually, I’d forgotten about the scar by this point too, so mentioning it again would be helpful.

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          5. I think a scar on his cheek is all right. It’s easier to fix something like this that doesn’t matter than to worry about the association.

            0
          6. You could put it on his chin. Two of my male cousins and my sister landed on their chins doing things like sledding, climbing trees/fences, being chased through the house by me…and they have pale white scars there.

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          7. Actually, now that you mention it, I have one of those chin scars as well. And one on the end of my (broken) nose. I had an active childhood. Also siblings.

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  3. I saw again, Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! Love it. Lots of stuff happened, remember that not all of war is getting shot at, part of it is waiting to get shot. This was some excellent information dispensing.

    3+
  4. Hi Jenny,
    I just loved it! Too bad you can’t keep it all for the book. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    0
      1. Okay, when I finally get all the drafts of the first scene up again, go back and read the first one. You guys liked that one, too, but look how much better it got.
        This is maybe the third pass at these scenes, but still way early. Some of this stuff will stay, but it needs to mean something. There’s not even any structure there. Protagonist/antagonist/goal/conflict? It’s Nick and Nita in the car and Sadie scenes, and then they get to the bar, and I think I headhop. It’s discovery draft. IT NEEDS TO BE BETTER.
        I don’t hate you, I’m doing this for YOU. Ingrates.

        6+
        1. No, I’m grateful. This did feel woolly, but since I know how the first part improved, I can look forward to you magically turning it inside out and crafting something irrisistible from this rough cloth.

          0
        2. Right. You’re doing this for us.

          If you were doing it for us, you’d be writing 24/7 and we’d have something we could buy. : )

          You have to remember – I am one who will trade polished for energy in a writer. Which is why I usually like the first books in a series so much better than the last. I will go back and read anything you like – I will read as you well know your grocery lists if you publish them- and I know your process works best for you. But your early drafts are better than you think.

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  5. Dialog sails and stings, *tiny little bit of info dump* placed exactly where I want it to be and amidst lots of dinner action. I like Louis Malle movies, they have great dinner scenes. Date night this week is gonna be Chinese.

    1+
  6. I’ve been cackling to myself the whole way through. Keres reminds me of Sharon from Wonderfalls and Rab has grown on me more than I was expecting and Hellcats! Cohabitation! Family crowd scenes!

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  7. I know it is a discovery draft, and it isn’t a book yet, but it means we get to discover things as you do. One of the worst worst ABSOLUTE WORST things in the world is a book with interesting bits that you don’t get because the plot requires the next thing to be coped with or accomplished. What you are giving me (and the rest of us) is a real look at the place and the people and the mechanics. I know it will get trimmed and pummeled into a different and sleeker shape to make it a proper story to fit into a proper book. But this is like a pause and a look around at the details, and it is such a pleasure.

    Thank you SO MUCH – I think I understand how hard it is to show people work that is not properly Done yet, and talking about process can can be fraught because it might compromise the process because (like walking or riding a bike or pronouncing words) if you think too hard about it, it gets weird.

    5+
    1. This is really good for me, too. It’s been liberating to talk with you all. The blog has a small readership which keeps it a safe space (as safe as any space on the internet can be) and that helps tremendously. And it also helps that you all understand my process, that nobody has said, “Why don’t you just write it right the first time?” or told me I could make a lot more money if I just wrote faster (believe me, I’ve heard it all). So it’s very self-indulgent of me to take your time to show you drafts that will change so radically. I really need to get that series of first drafts of the first scene up there in the WIP page. It’s startling how much it changes, so it’s great that you all are willing to read stuff you know will change so much as to be almost unrecognizable.

      6+
      1. It’s kind of nice, knowing it’s going to change again by the time I have the actual book in hand, so it will be new and different again.

        1+
        1. This. It feels wonderfully self-indulgent to read these drafts, because I know the final book will be different enough that I won’t glaze over like I’m re-reading the same text. And these drafts are so much fun that it’s not any work to read them.

          2+
  8. Jenny, you spoil us terribly. Never think we don’t appreciate you and every word you share with us. ^____________^

    (I will say, I realize it’s at least partly because of the revelation-overload of the scenes, but I was a bit disturbed by how quickly we seemed to move past “Mom is a serial killer”– almost treated like a massive faux pas rather than, y’know, MURDERS. Though I’m sure once you’ve got the whole thing written and edited it’ll build up satisfyingly. Also, you commented above that Mitzi’s usually cold and distant to Nita, but I hadn’t gotten more than, “Oh god, our mother” foreshadowing from reading so far, so when she came in angrily overprotective I thought that was her default state.)

    …..Okay, one more fridge moment question popped up: when demons die on Earth, they get pulled back to Hell and come back to life– what happens when they get killed in Hell? Do they stay dead? Respawn? Not die except from smite-level damage?

    Thanks for sharing this. They may be mostly talking heads, but I’m a banter addict, so I’m still highly entertained by all of it. 😀

    0
    1. They die in Hell, they die. They die on Earth, they can’t come back to Earth because they’re dead in this sphere, which is a plot point later.

      There’s a lot of stuff in there like “Mom’s a serial killer? Okay.” Nita’s mood swings are way out of line. Button disappeared. Max and Mammon’s scene is kind of useless. Where’s Vinnie? Mitzi disappears in the middle of the scene.

      Yep, Discovery Draft.

      2+
      1. Yes but the Jenny voice we all love is so much THERE! And it’s new to us even if we never get to read it again after Wednesday.

        3+
      2. …………Okay, now I feel slightly guilty that I didn’t even notice the lack of Vinnie. (Sorry, Vinnie?) >.>

        1+
      3. But there is so much wonderfulness in it. I like the gradual shift of Nick to human feelings and actions. The putting his arm around Nita and it feeling more natural the second time is one example of what I am loving. I am also a huge fan of the Chinese food scene. My kind of comedy.
        I know Nita has to get more active. Right now she feels like a punching bag. And I miss Button. Thank you. It’s such a delight to watch your characters and plot formmm

        1+
        1. You’re welcome.
          That’s part of the discovery draft, figuring out where she falls emotionally on the scale. I do like the idea that she grabs on to protecting Sadie, her job, as a return to normality, but she’s all over the place here. OTOH, she’s just been hit with one crisis after another–sees Rich burn, finds out Nick’s the Devil, finds out her dad is Satan, goes to Hell, her mother turns up a murderer, all in the space of a couple of hours . . . I’d be picking things out of the air. In fact when I did got hit with something at 19 that meant I had to completely redefine my world, it took me days to stop just trying to find some stable ground to reorient myself on because EVERYTHING changed, and the effects of that have lasted my entire life. So while I can see Keres going, “Oh, okay,” because her world hasn’t changed, just some strange details cleared up, Nita is going to have be coping with this for the rest of the book, especially since the hits are going to keep on coming; she does’t know the half of it yet.

          0
    2. Nita is the pov so finding her mom’s been killing humans just confirms what Nita has always felt about her mom so of course she accepts it. It’s actually reassuring. (Hmm. Would explain a lot about my own maternal parental unit. Now you’ve got me wondering.)

      1+
  9. You foreshadowed that screaming and crying that would come later in a previous chapter!

    I’m loving that I can pick things like that up now. It doesn’t detract from reading simplistic books, it helps when I come across a great book and I want to know why I like it. I start to apply what you sow us here and I have more fun with the books.

    0
  10. I was a little confused by the line about getting four more family members (to eat with them). Isn’t it just Nick, Rab, and Dag?

    0
        1. Vinnie thinks she’s hot. And she flirts with him because that’s how she gets what she wants from men. Before she kills them.

          2+
      1. Why would Vinnie be there? The Bar is closed and would Nick want Vinnie to know about Nita since Vinnie works for the opposition.

        Loved Keres and Rab

        0
  11. Very fun read. Thanks for sharing.

    Just thought I had more than once while reading this and finally told myself “let it go and enjoy”, Nick is hundreds of years old, from another time, and just getting in touch with his “self” again. My brain kept thinking he’d use more formal language. Occasionally, I had that formal feel (like when he didn’t use contractions as much when speaking), and then he’d break out in very informal language.

    Not a deal, just for some reason, I expected him to be a bit more formal, and then maybe gradually move into the slang?

    Not my book, just my weird reader wonderings.

    Again, thanks for sharing. And for ignoring my dreadful punctuation and use of written word. I write “formal and technical” for work, and avoid it at all costs when I can.

    0
    1. Why? He hasn’t been dead for five hundred years, he’s been to the Earth dozens of times since then, he speaks several languages, why would he revert to archaic language if it wasn’t appropriate for where he is now?

      I recognize that you’re not the only person who wonders, but it doesn’t make sense to me that he would. He pulled a con in 1934; he couldn’t do that if was speaking 15th century Italian. He’d have to adapt to new language in order to work.

      And then there’s the nightmare of figuring out which Italian dialect he’d speak since before the end of the sixteenth century, Italian was all over the place (and still is to a certain extent, depending on where people live; it’d be like trying to figure out how Americans speak today: which Americans where?).

      There’s a bit in the next scene that addresses that somewhat, but I may have to extend it because you’re the second person who’s asked. But logically, there’d be no reason for his mind to change; it’s still there and has been the whole time, moving with the times. It’s his body he’s having a hard time remembering because it’s been gone for five hundred earth years, fifty hell years.

      0
      1. No, there’s a disconnect in there somewhere. I don’t know where though.

        He has no issues with driving a car but food is new to him. Does he need to drink water or any liquid? Because he’s so damn comfortable in the bar but uncomfortable in the restaurant/around food. And I do get the not paying attention to food for 500 years or so but surely some of his meetings on Earth took place around food.

        And I really like how the inhabitants of hell are getting advanced degrees in assorted human things. Maybe that’s it. Nick has spent so much time being the fixer that he hasn’t kept up with his studies.

        0
        1. There’s a line in there later where Rab says, “You never studied,” (Ghostbusters quote), and Nick says, “Rab, if I studied, I wouldn’t need you.”

          He did eat before. He just didn’t taste things.

          So SPOILER ALERT, not that this whole process isn’t a spoiler:

          Somebody at Sandy’s is doping Nick’s meals, which is the reason he’s changing. It’s taking longer than planned because Nick isn’t a demon, but the reason he notices Nita’s breakfast is because his memory has been triggered; when he tastes her eggs and the bacon and then talks about it with her, there’s more memory, which is fueled by the experience. He’s in a feedback loop, and every time he goes to Sandy’s, he gets dosed again. He got his first dose before the story started in his previous breakfast at Sandy’s, so the first breakfast with Nita is escalation. The next scene after the one I just posted is breakfast the next day and he gets a third dose, which is when Nita points out that his ears are sticking out. And so on. And this is bad news because he’s five hundred years old, so if he becomes human, hello grave.

          3+
          1. I have theorized that he “built” his flesh based on the painting by his mother after his death. She loved him, so she painted him idealized. But his mug shot from the 30s is a photo, and a more realistic depiction. Shorter, ears sticking out. Not as perfect but humanly flawed. So as he remembers, he becomes more realistic. More his true form. But then I worry what will happen when he completely remembers.

            2+
        2. But Hell is getting new inhabitants all the time from all over the world. Retired college professors could teach classes, and the demons could pick up new slang and pop culture 🙂

          0
          1. Nope, Hell is getting spirits who go into Dreamtime to process their lives and then move on to the futures of their choice. Humans don’t have a place in Hell. That’s why Green Power and Demons First hate Nick. That and he’s organized Hell and they liked the chaos.

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          2. You know, it occurred to me that, what with the time difference between Hell and Earth, demons must have to really book it to keep up with their pop culture/current events studies. Imagine studying for a year only for it to already be 10 years out of date by the time you’re done! D: Luckily, Buffy references are timeless. 😉

            1+
      2. Maybe he’d have some old Italian phrases for swearing with? One of the things he picked up as a kid/teen and kept?

        I think the disconnect is because we only have your word for it that he’s 500 years old and Italian. Everything (aside from being dead) textual I remember about him could fit Elvis just as well.

        2+
        1. Except I think if you’re really fluent in a language, your brain curses in the language you’re speaking and not in the one you were raised in.

          At least it worked that way for my very Russian boss.

          0
          1. My old boss from The Netherlands said that it was hard to swear well in Dutch, which is one of the reason so many people there learn English.

            0
          2. I think the interjection of foreign words into speech is annoying because it breaks the flow of the narrative and it’s also difficult to do correctly. I do not know any medieval Italian and I have not yet determined where in Italy Nick grew up so even if I knew medieval Italian, I wouldn’t know which swear words. Also, one of the things agents from Hell (from anywhere) are trained to do is fit in. Your Russian boss would not be swearing in Russian if he were undercover.

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          3. For what it’s worth, I don’t have any issues with the way Nick speaks. It was clear to me that he spent a lot of time on earth so it makes sense his speech is current.

            The food thing is a little harder for me. He didn’t eat before? But if the change is not being driven by food but by dope, it makes more sense. I’ve been rationalizing it that spending time with Nita was making him notice things he had been glossing over, but the dope explanation seems preferable.

            0
  12. The only thing I hate about these is that I wake up thinking, “Oh, I’m in the middle of a good book” and look over the side of my bed…and oh, dang, it was just an excerpt.

    It is a true pleasure to experience this ride with you, and to learn at every step. Thank you!

    12+
    1. You’re welcome.
      I have that same reaction. “I was reading something fun. What was—oh, hell.” Then I get to work.
      Of course, I think it’s fun; it could be awful for somebody else. And I know what happens next. Well, some of it. I know what happens at the end. It’s GREAT. If I ever get there.
      Right, Discovery Draft, one draft at a time, keep going.
      Remember more than a year ago when I was really mad about the dialogue on Lucifer?

      13+
      1. It’s been a year? Really? What a fast year.

        My dad did everything in English except count. He counted in German. I suspect because it is early rote learning. (And then when he was delirious he talked in French which we didn’t know he knew.)
        So maybe you can have Nick count in Italian? Or sing a song in it? Or if he ever is out of his mind in some way he could revert then.

        I agree he doesn’t feel 500 years old or Italian. The part that feels odd is how contemporary he is. It makes him not seem dead. So finding something that makes him seem old at first might give this whole coming to life thing more weight.

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  13. This is a belated comment to an earlier post (when Nick went to Hell and Satan, etc). II got a bit swept away, trying to track all the names and characters, so maybe I missed part of the description.

    I realized that I was picturing Nick in Hell as he is on Earth, with skin and hair and clothes. Then I realized that that may not be right – maybe he reverts to a skeleton in Hell. Or maybe he puts on the illusion of flesh to soothe the Demon Firsters (OK, the color of the flesh is wrong, but still more like a demon that bare bones.) And maybe none of this matters to anyone but me.

    0
    1. Somewhere in there, or maybe it’s in my brainstorming notes, there’s a bit that Nick started out in Hell as a spirit, but a spirit’s not much help to a Devil as an agent on Earth, so Satan gave him the power to evoke his body, which wasn’t a great idea since he was a corpse, and then gave him the power to construct a facade over whatever state his body was in.

      I do have a bit later where he was buried with his sword, and at some point, drawing on the existing skeleton brings the sword back, too, but I have no idea why or how although I do know what he does with it. You know, Discovery Draft. Don’t look down, just keep writing.

      2+
  14. Thank you for this. You made my night. And I’ve been reading bits out loud to my husband and sons (eleven and seven) because I kept laughing so they kept asking what I was laughing at. My eldest son is very taken with Rab now, and they both keep saying “I brought a tranq gun!”

    10+
  15. Somewhere in the first scene Nita explains she had fits etc. when she was little, but they stopped when she grew up.
    When she started screaming when her mum touched her, because she saw mum as a scary monster, I took that as the reason for her fits as a little kid – mum stopped touching her -> fits stopped. Very cold relationship with mum clearly explained now.
    Honestly, it is all already there!
    And I love this ‘Groundhog Day’ reading ‘serial, getting better with every new beginning

    4+
  16. Thanks for posting this. It is just what I needed after a long, cranky day at work.

    Discovery draft notwithstanding, this was still a far more enjoyable read than the last few published stories I waded through on my Kindle.

    3+
  17. I know this is talking heads, but I adore your talking heads. I enjoyed this so much. Thank you for allowing us to see these parts that won’t make it into the finished book. This was a treat.

    2+
  18. Finding this posted today was my favourite birthday present! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing!!

    0
  19. I love EVERYBODY! I especially adore Mort. Rab is interesting and either likes cats or is not as gay as he says he is. And I’m trying to think of ways that Nick can stay on Earth without turning to dust, when I should be studying.

    3+
    1. Maybe he’s just gay in hell?

      Then you could have someone who was straight in hell and gay here. Like Kerses.

      That should be fun.

      0
    2. I don’t understand – “either likes cats or is not as gay as he says he is” – Did I miss something?
      He didn’t get along with Joyce the hellcat and he’s attracted to men – I don’t think those two things are necessarily mutually exclusive.

      2+
      1. I didn’t get that, either. Rab likes everything, he’s just smart enough to stay behind an angry hellcat. And he’s definitely gay. That’s not the kind of thing you’re still confused about after a thousand years.

        1+
    3. When Nita is in bed, Nick is there and Dag and Rab come in. Rab had remembered the poodle pjs. Nick gives Rab a LOOK. Then when Nita gets out of bed, Rab says something like “Nice cats.”. Nita has her jeans off, but has the cat socks on. Nick gives Rab another LOOK. I probably misinterpreted the LOOK. Maybe it was just a means nothing look.

      1+
      1. Oh, I can see more of what you’re getting at now.

        I was forgetting him admiring the cats on her socks and see how that could also be interpreted through the lens of Nick’s “LOOK” as him checking out her naked legs.

        I was just focused on Joyce/hellcats and not understanding what that would have to do with being gay.

        0
        1. Rab is a cheerful admirer of the world in general. He’s one of my favorite characters ever, and he just showed up like that.

          1+
      2. Oh yeah, when I first read that bit I was thinking, “Why is the gay demon noticing her legs?” Then I realized that no, he’s noticing her AWESOME SOCKS, which is completely understandable and also in character for Rab. As a straight woman, I would also comment on the socks (perhaps a bit more gushingly because CAT SOCKS) but I likely wouldn’t trigger a reflexive-jealousy-LOOK from Nick for it because of subconscious heteronormativity. 😛 I’m sure if the line stays in, it’ll get a bit more polished so that distinction shines through. 😀

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  20. I just wanted to say thank you for writing. I had the worst day at work (yes, I am still quitting, finally forced the issue and set an end date of 6/30/17) and it was so wonderful to come home and find this and have something to escape into. So thank you, thank you, thank you for writing.

    I thought it was a little odd how Nita just lost it about Sadie.
    Keres seems fun.
    OMFG Mitzi.
    Whatever happened to Button?

    1+
      1. Thanks? Heh. I’ve found a couple of new positions that I think would be good. Just need to apply and rock the interview.

        2+
    1. Button went home after lunch and fell asleep because she hadn’t been to bed yet. That’s actually in the first act. But she shows up the next day and gets an update.

      Oh, and congratulations about quitting. You know it’s right when you feel a huge sense of relief once it’s done. Says the woman who quit a good teaching job to write romance.

      3+
      1. The sense of yearning I feel for 7/1 is not even funny in its intensity. I just need to keep breathing and hope I don’t lose it before then.

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        1. It seems like your icon is very apropos for you at the moment 🙂

          Good luck in containing.

          And in finding a job that you enjoy!

          0
      1. Nope. That gets explained later, too.
        Lucifer was an angel (worked at corporate) and he fell.
        Beelzebub was a demon that Lucifer chose to succeed him as payback to God.
        Satan is an angel (upper management) who was assigned by God to take over from Beelzebub who got fired.
        Nick’s a dead human.
        But the differences among angels, demons, and humans are not that great.

        0
        1. This is one of the better things I’ve seen all day. Thank you. Perfectly Crusie.

          0
        2. Thanks for explaining this. My religious education halted when I was 9 and my mother stopped attending church (and stopped making us go too!). I always assumed Lucifer and Satan were one and the same.

          0
          1. You know, it just depends on the source. I think for a lot of Christians, they are. But if you look at the stories, Lucifer was an angel, the Lord of Light, and he led a rebellion against God in Heaven and was thrown out, fell, into Hell. Milton’s Paradise Lost is a beautiful retelling of this incandescently beautiful angel who rebelled against an autocratic God and then defied again by saying it was better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.

            Satan is in the New Testament, where he’s referred to as the Adversary, sent by God to tempt Jesus.

            Call me crazy, but I don’t see Lucifer doing God’s bidding.

            BUT that’s me and not Christian theology, about which I know nothing. The Bible I know a little more because I used to teach it, but that’s a big book of stories and I haven’t taught it in over twenty years, so I’m probably getting that wrong. For the purposes of this story, they’re two different Devils.

            4+
          2. What I have been taught in the Christian faith, Lucifer and Satan and the Devil are all the same being. Also demons are fallen angels. Lucifer led a rebellion against God and was kicked out of heaven. The angels that side with Lucifer were also kicked out and are demons in hell and here on earth.

            However, Jenny is writing a story that doesn’t nor does it need to hold to Christian beliefs.

            Also, other denominations may have things a bit differently.

            1+
  21. I loved it! Thank you!! I want more! That’s meant to be a compliment not a pushy demand.

    Truly, thank you as I too have part of my brain looking for that book I’m reading with its captivating story, which sadly isn’t done yet.

    I know you’ll make it even better as you polish & tighten & analyze. I saw it happen with the first act. Still, your discovery drafts don’t suck. I’ve read published novels that are far worse than your discovery drafts.

    1+
  22. So, I went looking for a reference to share here, and found this chuthlu tshirt: https://topatoco.com/collections/comics/products/3ps-cookie

    The reference was to “SQUEE!” As how I felt about getting a new excerpt. Here’s the image for that from Sheldon comics by Dave Kellett http://cdn.sheldoncomics.com/media/posts/blogimages/blog_091030b.jpg

    Last thing, since I’m commenting about references. I’ve seen maybe 3 episodes of Buffy. I’m sure I missed nearly all the references that Keres and Rab were making. Still, Buffy fans will likely be delighted.

    0
    1. “Hello, Salty goodness” is from early Buffy, possibly the first episode, when Cordelia sees Angel for the first time.
      Wesley tells Cordelia he’s a rogue demon slayer about midway through Angel’s first season, and Cordelia says, “What’s a rogue demon?”
      One of my favorite lines ever.

      2+
      1. “Rogue demon” works especially well because he walks in looking badass and then doesn’t stick the landing.

        2+
        1. I love that scene. And Cordelia is absolutely innocent when she says, “What’s a rogue demon?” No snark at all, just needing the information.

          1+
          1. Apparently Cordelia and I have much in common. I too applied rogue to the demon and not the slayer.

            0
        2. Wesley really couldn’t pull off motorcycle leathers back then. Now by the end of the show, he was genuinely badass and didn’t need clothes to signal it. The knives in the sleeves and the sawed off shotgun were more than enough. Now I’m getting nostalgic for Angel. Curse Netflix for taking it away…

          1+
          1. I stopped watching when they assassinated Cordy’s character, but that might be worth finishing the series for…

            1+
          2. Yeah, skip over that part. They gave Cordy a great death and it was an amazing final few shows. Spoiler: Lotta people die.

            0
          3. By the end he was keeping whosis chained in the closet.
            I’ll still never forgive him for taking that baby.

            0
          4. Wait, what? What baby? I stopped when the blond vampire turned up pregnant. Very “for crying out loud,” and called it a day. But I still want to know the end. So I’m torn.

            0
          5. You missed a lot, much of it AWFUL. The blonde vampire had Angel’s baby in a truly great scene, and then the writers lost their minds and the whole thing went south. And then somebody came in and slapped them, and the last season was really good, albeit again heartbreaking.

            0
  23. I just read it again and enjoyed it just as much the second time around as I did the first. I do have a question though. When Keres brings the dinner and says when did dinner for four turn into dinner for eight, why wasn’t their father included? There are 3 offspring, plus the two parents. Or is this explained later?

    0
      1. Why do I feel it’s for a reason other than her serial killer tendencies? And why does that amuse me?

        1+
          1. So does that mean the Mayor using “My wife” to threaten Nick is a misnomer?

            (or does he say Nita’s Mother and I remember that as “My wife?)

            0
          2. He doesn’t:

            “I’m already dead,” Nick said, “and you don’t seem like the kind of guy who has killers on the payroll.”
            “I don’t,” the Mayor said. “I’ll just tell Nita’s mother.”

            NICK calls her his wife later, but he never refers to her as his wife.

            0
  24. Another thought, after reading again-

    What happened to Forcas? They … reassembled him, Mort gave him pain meds, then he disappeared from the story. Did Nick send him back to Hell to recover? Is he in the trunk of the car? Poor Forcas! He’s had a real bad day!

    0
    1. He went back to Hell. Belia says he’s back and in recovery in the scene in Nick’s apartment.

      1+
  25. Also, it occurs to me that Keres and Mort must have not had donuts, or they would have gotten sick too.

    0
    1. God I want a donut. No, that’s not true. I want five.
      So far, two good things today, no bad. Let’s see if I can keep this momentum going.
      Yes, I reread this before work to make my day bearable. Have I said ‘thank you’ enough?

      0
        1. Angels and demons aren’t that different. Almost a class issue. The office of Devil changes a person. Much like the Presidency ages people but they get secret service protection.

          Nita’s left the island but not lately. The iron at the bridge and the airport went in last summer. Yes, that’s part of the plot. I have so much plot in this, it’s coming out my ears. OTOH, if I ever want to do a sequel, boy do I have a world set up.

          0
          1. Sequel! Sequel! Yay!

            Of course the fact that the first one’s not done yet has no bearing on my craving for more MOAR MOAR.

            I’m spoiled, what can I say. It’s been a bad spring. Derby week in the Ohio Valley and I’m sick yet again.

            2+
          2. Love love the banter. Triple love Keres, and Keres + Rab made me wet my pants. I read these and think, OK, it’s perfect. Then somehow you always magically make them even better.

            And I want Stripe for my own. I know elderly dogs (miss mine so much. It’s been 9 months and it’s like 9 minutes).

            0
      1. Or was the nope meaning they didn’t have donuts, but would have had flu like symptoms like Nita if they had eaten a donut with iron sprinkles?

        0
        1. Oh. Nope, they didn’t have doughnuts. They don’t get out much during the day since they keep working hours. Nita goes out a lot, especially lately because she’s bothered by the small things that are going wrong on the island.

          But also no, they wouldn’t have gotten sick. A little queasy maybe, but not sick like Nita did.

          0
  26. This is such fun. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s helping make a hard time a lot more bearable over here!

    I understand why you’ll want to cut it later, but I’m finding the background very useful (not just fun, which it is) in getting the larger shape of the story. Likewise the extra discussion in Hell (love Max so much!). Perhaps we might have a companion document in the end that describes all the structural stuff….

    Also, this would make a much better show than Lucifer! I want this, and a case-of-the-week show with Judy and Nick in Zootopia.

    0
    1. They’re doing a sequel to Zootopia, right? I love the name Nick for a hero. This is the third time I’ve used it and the only time I’ve ever had a reason: One name for the Devil is Old Nick.

      0
      1. Ooooh! I really hope they are. But I still want a weekly case-of-the-week show with them. Anything to avoid the news.

        0
  27. Reading it through again, and a couple of things popped up:
    I love “Dodd of the Dead” and hope it stays in some form.
    The bigger one is, if demon bodies disappear when they die, how is there time for Keres’ funeral home to get involved? If there’s enough of a time lag that the funeral home can get involved, then there’s enough time for Mitzi’s cleaners to show up and handle the demon bodies without her seeing them disappear, so there’s no proof that she’s killing humans.
    It seems to me there was something about Mort and demon bodies at the morgue, but I’m not sure when I read that part. Versions blur.

    0
    1. Cold slows down the process. If the person dies in the hospital and it taken to the morgue there and is then transferred to the funeral home’s cold room, it’s a problem. It just takes longer. (I think that was established when the body in the RV took longer, but you’re right, I’ll need to look at the times.) It’s the reason most elderly demons on the island refuse to go to a hospital. But for those in accidents or something that puts them abruptly in the hospital so that they can’t walk out, they end up with Keres. We’re talking about two or three; there aren’t that many demons on the island and most of them are natural born and won’t go to Hell anyway.

      It’s a really good point, though, about the time. I think Ukobach (the demon in the SUV who shot Joey) took about two, two and a half hours because it was so cold.

      Also, Dodd of the Dead stays. It just popped up as I was writing and I laughed out loud; as Keres would say, I did not see that one coming.

      3+
  28. Thanks for this piece of Discovery Draft! I love the banter even though I know it needs to be made more directed (as in explaining the three competing theories of love in Bet Me).
    I’ve missed a bunch of the truck drafts of chapter one, which might contain the answer to my question. Here, first, are my assumptions:
    Mama Mitzi thinks she has been killing demons. Mama Mitzi works (and lives?) off island. In this scene the discovery that Mama is a murderer is made more complicated by the fact that she is actually killing humans.
    My question: Are there demons off island where Mitzi does her killing? I thought they were mostly restricted to the island.
    Thanks for all!

    0
    1. There are demons everywhere which is why Nick has agents. It hasn’t been as much for the past 500 years because Nick organized Hell and now they can keep track of everybody and know who’s missing. And since the demons on Demon Island do not cause trouble and have found a way to cover their tracks, he’s never been on the island before. That’s why his mugshot shows up in St. Louis (I think it’s St. Louis).
      For the past year, the demons on the island have been stuck there because Somebody (plot point) put iron plates around the airport and the bridge. Somebody built a Wall.

      I swear I did not mean this to be an allegory for immigration, it’s just turning out that way. Subconsciously, I must be pretty upset about the xenophobia my country is currently strangling under (YA THINK?).

      9+
      1. Is the wall there to keep demons out or demons in? Or is that a spoiler?

        0
        1. SPOILER:
          Both. The idea is that if they trap demons on the island, they can pick them off, one by one, especially now that they know which families got sick from the doughnuts. Nobody was supposed to die from the doughnuts, so they had to cover their tracks on that one; the idea was they could arrange accidental deaths for anybody they identified as demon.

          In other news, the real news is making me ill.

          2+
          1. I just looked at focus groups results where people said they approved of Trump and then were very upset by the things he is doing. Apparently they have no idea. For some weird reason this makes me feel slightly better. I would rather they were ignorant and credulous than that they were knowledgeable and evil.

            I like it that your book resonates with what is going on in the real world.

            I will now spend the rest of the nifbr speculating about who Mort is dating and who is slipping stuff into Nicks food and is that somehow related?

            0
      2. Is it possible we could offer another body for Nick to take back to Hell?

        I’m a native Washingtonian. I can figure out a way to get Nick across the metal detectors.

        1+
  29. Wow, that is a lot of fucking of demons and the like in Nita’s family chain. Daaaaaaaaamn.

    0
  30. I was taken aback to learn that Nita knew the mayor wasn’t her biological father. Did she have a theory about who was?

    And I love “Now you’re just making up names.” I hope that stays.

    3+
    1. Mitzi was always a, uh, free spirit, so by the time the kids got old enough do the research, they wouldn’t have been surprised.
      Also the Mayor and Mitzi were divorced by then. They got married because she was pregnant with Keres, and then divorced because she never really wanted to be married, and she actually has very strong moral precepts and wouldn’t cheat. Didn’t mean they weren’t still attracted to each other (“in love” would be a stretch). Then one week, Mitzi had a catastrophic birth control failure. When the twins were born, it was obvious that something was up, and the Mayor said, “Those are my children, put my name on both certificates.”

      I have a huge backstory on the three kids’ childhoods which will never see the book.

      4+
      1. *resists urge to clamor for more backstory* >.>

        I like the Mayor more and more with every new thing we learn about him. 🙂

        2+
      2. But it could see a blogpost, right? You have pages for the books. You know where backstory like that goes? In the bonus section on the book’s page. That is one of my main reasons to go to author’s pages–to get extra material like that.

        4+
        1. I’ve thought about doing outtakes before. But by the time I crawl to the end of the book and all the revisions, I just want to never see any of it again. I am not built for fictional marathons.

          I’m putting a lot of stuff up here that would normally never see the light of day. Hmmmmm.

          2+
  31. I know it’s discovery draft but I did wonder about Nita knowing how Hell time works with Earth time–just a marker to consider when you get to truck draft.

    And I hope you can fit in the mayor saying those are both my kids. It fits so well with what we have seen of him.

    Also, I am really curious about Mammon and the mayors. I hope we see that later!

    For someone like me who edits and writes for work but not fiction this is truly fascinating–completely different considerations.

    And since I would read the phone book if you wrote it….

    0
    1. Oh, good catch. Nobody told her before that? Of course they didn’t, she didn’t believe.

      1+
      1. I think that Nick did tell her in the diner… but she might believe now and remember what he said….

        0
  32. Have not read the scenes (in writing mode & can’t get other voice in my head), but did go through comments and notice the bits re whether or not Nick should have Italian etc or signs of his past.

    Thought your point about blending in while undercover was a good one. But the debate brought to mind the Barnabas character from Dark Shadows–not b/c your character is the same but b/c he too is of a different time & place and needs to blend in while still giving off “otherworldly” feel. Dark Shadows had a few renditions, but the mini-series one on TV in 80s or 90s did a decent job of it I think–not with language but more in how he carried himself & his reference points re social behaviour etc & showing that it was an effort for him to reconcile the old with the contemporary. Remember thinking it was fun as a viewer to watch (although that show was campy so there’s that).

    0
    1. Enough people have mentioned it that I’m going to have to do something, but I think I’ll tackle it later.
      The big thing for me is that Nick has been dead for 500 Earth years/50 Hell years, but with all the time he’s spent on Earth, the total accumulation is probably closer to seventy or eighty years. That’s a long time. And he’s spent it without emotions, so he’s had no emotional attachment to the past. So the things that would make him cling to the old, the way I still cling to sixties peasant tops, would be the familiarity and the pleasure of the memory, which he does not have. That lack of emotion would make him very adaptable because he’d have no ties to the past; ties to the past are emotional.

      Once he begins to get a body back, I think memory would come back because so much of emotion lives in the body; emotion is really a loop between body and mind. But I don’t know why that would affect the way he moves or the way he speaks. He’s been moving and speaking for decades. It would affect the way he THINKS, definitely, but I’m not seeing how that would make him draw on a past that’s so far away from his present situation as to be un-usable. That is, human history has no value in Hell, and the influence of medieval Italy on current social interaction is pretty much nil. (Art and philosophy are, of course, a different matter, but Nick’s not an artist or a philosopher.)

      In short, I don’t see why he’d retain any of it. As an educated man, he’d have been a humanist which fit pretty well into the modern world, with some glitches. He’s watched the span of history, so he wouldn’t be making glaring errors about important things. His speech would have adapted to his surroundings over the years. I just don’t see it.

      This may be because I left one society for another and haven’t retained much of anything that I left behing. I don’t speak with an Appalachian accent, not because I tried to change it but because I went to college at seventeen and never went back (and to be fair my parents didn’t have strong accents, either). Krissie said she heard some twang in my voice for the first time when she was here last, and we’ve been friends for well over twenty years.

      Maybe some of it comes back when he’s human again. He remembers things and misses them? He carries himself differently? But those would be personal things, not necessarily tied to the past. He’s not goign to start saying “thee” and “forsooth,” and more that I’m going to start saying, “Goldarn.” (I never said “Goldarn.” My mother used to say, “Cheese, pie and crust” when she was angry because that was as close as she could come to saying “Jesus Christ,” but I never said that, either. I had some pride.)

      I’ll keep thinking about this because it’s bothering so many of you, but it just doesn’t seem logical to me.

      0
      1. Just so you know, I have no need for Nick to speak or demonstrate his Italian from 500 years ago. People change over time and that’s a lot of time, even if it seemed like only 50 years to him. His environment was very different during those 50 years. Phrases I used as a kid in Wisconsin I don’t use here in Michigan because people would look at me weird & not understand what I meant. Nick is smart and I believe he’d adapt quickly.

        3+
        1. I remember going to college and asking for chocolate dope on my ice cream. People had no idea what I meant. And then I got to NY and somebody asked me if I wanted a soda, and I said, “No, I’ll have a Coke,” because where I came from, soda was “pop.”

          I haven’t called chocolate syrup “dope” or soda “pop” since then.

          0
      2. My mother came to the US from Germany sixty years ago. While she had a bit of an accent and used the occasional German word the first ten or fifteen years, she hasn’t in many, many years. Before her sister (still in Germany) died some years ago, my mother was having trouble remembering some of the German words during their conversations. She was speaking to her sister in German every month or so and was still slowly losing it, since she spoke (and thought) in English every day.

        I would find it really weird if Nick used Italian words or phrasing after so many years. I would be surprised if he could remember the language at all without a struggle. And being born Italian is not his defining characteristic – being dead/the Devil is.

        1+
        1. This must vary from person to person. My dad counted in German after 75 years here, even though everything else was English. But his German, as far as I could tell when he used it, was fine. (He talked with a cousin in German about once a year.) My mother in law, who was born here, still used Italian for some kitchen items because those were what her mom used. So I think using Italian for certain things would work.

          0
      3. Surely habit isn’t all about feeling? Not saying he wouldn’t have lost most of his habits by now – especially without a body, so he’ll have lost his sense-memories. Perhaps what he might retain is certain underlying ways of looking at the world; thoughts that shape him, rather than catchphrases.

        Those are what I think makes my identity: my memories, and the stories I’ve made from them. And, of course, my earliest memories/thoughts are buried so deep that I just think that’s the way the world is/I am, rather than recognizing them as constructs. Not to say I haven’t changed, but I guess I must keep evolving my stories so my experience of myself and the world is seamless.

        I think. It’s rather late, and I had a glass of wine earlier.

        0
      4. Just to be clear, it doesn’t bother me–haven’t yet read the pages:) My comment was only based on observations of the comments. And even then only to say I think there are a lot of ways of getting his unique journey across to readers.

        My own thoughts as I’ve been following your generous sharing of your writing process of this story is that you’re creating a very rich world. I can see the fun in that for sure, but the scope is daunting to me as a writer in that “don’t try this at home” way. Think it’s fab & totally look forward to reading the finished book when it’s out & I’m on a writing break.

        0
      5. My thought is it’s not exactly true that he’s been moving and speaking for decades.

        His bones & his spirit have been moving and speaking for decades. If he’s getting back the viscera as Rab or Dag put it, the memory of the flesh may come back and throw off the rhythm of the bones.

        There’s a piece by Malcolm Gladwell about people who have muscle memory for sports or even chess – and if for some reason, the muscle memory fails them in a competition they are actually worse off than a moderately good player. Because they don’t think about how they move, they’re just moving on an more instinctive level.

        I hit a tennis ball consciously trying to remember that I have to move and lift my racket & step back. A better player than me (which is 99.9% of the world) may have the moving and lifting racket on auto pilot but may have to remember to shift weight or swing differently.

        Venus Williams has all the physical stuff on autopilot and is now just studying her opponent. But if she ever freezes in a match and loses the autopilot, her game is gone because she hasn’t had to think about any of the physical stuff since she was five.

        Nick has no muscle. He has to remember to keep his facade up and adjust it, to move his bones, to keep everything together. If you’re adding weight to that, moving the bones may move the weight in a response he’s not expecting.

        Think about how it feels to either gain or lose 30 lbs.

        BTW, I found a couple of little typos in the paper edit – do you care or will you just catch them later?

        0
        1. Re typos: At this stage, I’ll change them if you tell me, but basically, I’ll be whacking pages out of this so I don’t want to waste your time. This is really early discovery draft.

          That’s a good point about muscle memory. Not quite the same thing, but I used to be able to write dialogue and character without thinking about it–plot not so much–and then I hit menopause and it all fell apart. And because I didn’t know how to do those things, I’d just been doing them, I hit a big dry spell (Whatever Happened To Jennifer Crusie?). I think it’s coming back, but it’s come back differently now. So yes on that. This is a great thing to look into, thank you.

          1+
      6. I agree with you! My father was an immigrant and after 10 years (accoding to my mother) in the US his native accent was all but gone (except on certain words), and only reasserted itself when he was really angry. As for memories of his past, he told us later that he started a new life in the states and had no need to bring his old one in to it. Strangely, as curious as I was over that, I never asked him about it. And anyway, that never affected his love of life and his passion to discover new things. Nick has spent his “dead” life adapting and making things work. Certainly one is affected by one’s past, but it doesn’t have to be the focus! Besides, I agree with you that when you’re trying to put yourself into a new situation, you adapt to that situation! I have enjoyed reading all your versions, and every time I keep hoping there will be more when I check back. Thank you for sharing your craft — it’s always an e-ticket!!

        0
  33. Given the Italian language scramble thing and not wanting to dig down into a specific accent/dialect to peg his background, how about a particular food? As he comes back to being human (insert more fully-fleshed pun here), maybe he has a passing craving for a meal or dish from his childhood? Frex: when I’m sick I’d kill for blancmange, and I don’t think I’ve had it since I was 12-13, but it was something my mom would make for me when I was little.

    1+
    1. Maybe. I’m still thinking about this.
      I think the real problem isn’t that it wouldn’t be logical for Nick not to act as he were still in Medieval Italy, it’s that people want some kind of cue that he really is that old, show them that he’s not a generic modern hero. And I get that, I’m just not sure how to do that.
      For example, it would be great if late fourteenth century Italian was patriarchal, but women could run their own businesses, divorce their husbands, and join the military. That all changed but not until after Nick was dead. So he’s not going to have any problems with Nita as a strong partner, particularly given his mother.
      I even thought, well, at six foot, he’d be a lot taller than most of the men of his time. Nope, that idea that people have been growing taller at a regular pace isn’t true. Lots of men were tall back then.
      It isn’t that there aren’t differences, there certainly are. It’s that none of them would come up naturally in the course of the story.

      1+
      1. Could you have one of the antagonists speak to him in Italian? Just to trigger a response?

        Also for a lot of people smells will invoke memories stronger than almost anything else. Smells & then tastes. Think madelines.

        0
        1. It would have to be somebody who knew Medieval Italian from his area of Italy. By the time I explained that . . .

          Smell is good, though. I could use that in Act 3 when he has a body again.

          0
          1. But he would have been a whiz at Latin and maybe Greek. Scientific words wouldn’t phase him

            0
      2. Maybe all you need is to address the lack of Italian in a quick exchange with somebody:

        “Fourteenth century Italy, huh? Say something in Italian.”

        “I haven’t spoken Italian in five hundred years, Vinnie.”

        1+
        1. Well, he could still speak it if he’d grown up with it. And he probably has spoken it, he’s probably had jobs in Italy.

          0
      3. Perhaps he could just start to react instinctively in what people think is a renaissance prince way to something (or at least Machiavellian) and then remember the modern world works better with a different dynamic

        Although poor Machiavelli is terribly misunderstood. I did a full class on his literature in college (in Italian no less). He thought democracies were best but when the power of nobles got too strong the most effective government is a principality. In any case, The Prince was a job application to the bureaucracy if a principality because he was exiled and wanted a job. Don’t we all shade our presentations to what the interviewer might like to hear when we apply for a job? In any case he is terribly mistranslated and until you’ve read his other works like the discourses you haven’t seen the real him.

        It would be personally funny to me if a revival of his play “the mandrake root” were playing on Demon Island”

        0
  34. I agree it’s about showing people he’s that old. I think you do a good job of showing he is dead but he could have died a year ago. Maybe he should name drop? Accidentally use 15th c table manners? I like the idea of his reflexively drawing his sword but it sounds like that comes too late.

    If you want to use the strong woman issue, Italy really was a patriarchy then…women couldn’t pick their own husbands for example (look at Dante’s Beatrice married at 12, or Lucretia Borgia). It might have gotten even worse later but I’m sure there weren’t women night guards.

    You could also have him read Latin or Greek or quote some of the stuff studied back then.

    0
    1. You could have him sneer at Dante who was after all writing in the vulgar vs writing in Latin or Greek. ; )

      0
      1. Yes, but then he’d be a jerk. Not because Dante is great (although he’s pretty damn good) but because people who sneer at writers because they aren’t of a certain class or aren’t writing a certain genre are just dicks (says the woman who wrote romance in an MFA program).

        1+
    2. I think it depended on the women. Lucretia was a political pawn. But women could divorce their husbands and run their own businesses. Nick’s mother certainly ran hers.

      I kind of like the idea of the sword. I wonder if the sword doesn’t come with the skeleton in some way. No idea how, but if he was buried with it and everything else rotten away . . . . I really need that sword.

      I don’t see Nick as a quoter or a name dropper. But the sword thing seems right, that would be a natural memory. He wouldn’t like guns. Must cogitate.

      0
      1. I have a feeling they used daggers more/as well in that time and place – which might be a more practical thing to carry with him.

        0
        1. And you made me go and look, so thank you.
          I think it would have been this, which is actually MUCH better for what I wanted:

          The Cinquedea, or “five-fingered” Sword
          Another distinctive short sword that developed in Italy during the Renaissance was the cinquedea. The shape and form of the cinquedea typifies the Renaissance belief in the importance of artistry, combined with a newly rediscovered passion for the classical world. It was worn mainly with civilian dress and comprised a very wide blade of five-fingered span. The hilt was normally of simple form, with a severely waisted grip. Because of its wide blade, many swordsmiths took the opportunity to embellish the swords with exquisite engraving and gilding. The sword would have been worn in the small of the back in order that it could be drawn laterally.
          There is some debate as to whether the cinquedea was actually a dagger rather than a sword. The average length is noted at 40—50cm/16—l9in (and there are even two-handed versions known), so this probably indicates that the cinquedea fits more comfortably within the broad family of swords rather than dagger types.

          Nineteen inches is not a dagger (although good call, because he’d have carried one of those, too). I like the idea of it worn on the back; Diana wears a sword like that in the Wonder Woman trailers. Must cogitate.

          ABOVE: A cinqueda sword, with typical pronounced medium ridge, or spine, running down the centre of the blade.

          2+
      2. Have you read Giovanni and lusanna? I think it is available free as an ebook. It follows the real life court records of a middle class (or maybe peasant) woman who filed against a noble male. It makes for fascinating reading. And it’s short

        0
    3. I don’t want him to be old. That would make the romance icky. Because if I think of him as actually being a 500 year old man, I’m not picturing a guy with fake, ripped abs who is tall and attractive, but a hunched over, balding/greying, liver-spotted old man with a cane. He’s to look like the age he died, not the age he’d be if he had lived since the day he was born.

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  35. What about muscle memories from etiquette –bowing, offering ladies an arm, swirling a cape? I’m not sure whether they tipped hats. Or smaller hand gestures like eating with his hands? Pushing long hair behind his ears? Also jewelry– maybe he has big rings or a single earring?
    I realize this goes against the idea of having lost muscle memory…

    I also keep thinking maybe there is something to do with the Pope-his-father as Pope. Renaissance attitudes towards children were quite different -they were expected to be adults much younger. Maybe something his dad expected him to do as a 14 or 15 year old?

    This prompts another thought. Wouldn’t his dad have married him off for family advancement?

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    1. He’s a mixed race bastard, so probably wasn’t acknowledged. Alexander was a huge family guy, acknowledged most of his children and gave them all high-ranking jobs, but I can see where Nick would have been problematical, which is why he brought him in as an aide; he could provide for him and keep him close, and then he turns out that Nick is very smart (family of grifters) so he enlists him and gets this great fixer. So Nick comes in early, and he has a family of conmen and forgers on one side and Alexander who was big on justice and order (and lavishing his many children with money and honors). Brains on both side, ruthlessness on both sides, by the time he died an outsider everywhere because he doesn’t fit in with the aristocracy (most of his half-sibs were the children of the wives of aristocrats)and he’s been so elevated that he has little social connection to home (why yes, I am projecting) although still strong emotional connections, especially to his mother. He is also, like his father, very good-looking and a real chick magnet, a libertine if you will, and prone to whooping it up and getting into sword fights, although the one that kills him is an ambush, which history says was about his duties for his father but was actually about a woman. The dumbass. So I can see him being comfortable in taverns once his memory comes back, and being good with a sword with quick reflexes when under attack in general, but I don’t see him swirling capes somehow.

      I don’t see Nick in a cape. I think muscle memory may be more along the lines of being able to handle a sword, although I did have a friend who’s been to West Point who’d had way too much to drink one night, and when another female friend said, “I could use some assistance, might I have your arm?” all that training kicked in, and he straightened instantly and offered her his arm. I was impressed. I do like the idea of muscle memory.

      And I’m going to have to move up his death date. The dates are gonna kill me. If he worked for his dad for fourteen years, and his dad became Pope in 1492, he died in 1506. Back to the timeline.

      2+
  36. So pleased to see a new book taking shape. When I have a writer struggling with dialogue, I tell them to read you.

    This book has a natural rhythm to the banter, that makes the story skip nicely along. I read the comments, and keep hearing that you want to add more so it isn’t talking-talking, but how much more do you need? Not necessarily the entire book, but this section and the one before mooooooove so well. Fine to color in, here and there, but, please, not so much that you lose that wonderful flow.

    I would not change Nick’s voice to something archaic. That would only make sense if he hasn’t been keeping up with earth life. Language shifts as we age, dead or otherwise. Yes, he might have a few words / phrases / slang that he hasn’t shook off, but I’d use lightly. I’m saying this as a person who grew up in one country, spent eight years in another, then found herself in a third for another nine (and still counting). Accents shift, new phrases and slang are acquired. Because people adapt. Yet, some words do hang on. I still say, “caddy corner,” befuddling all those around me.

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    1. We always said “catty-corner.” Maybe I was hearing it wrong. (That would have been central Ohio.)

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      1. No, you have not heard it wrong. Like many terms in the States, it depends on which area you grew up. It is also called “kitty-corner.”

        2+
  37. Just a thought spawned (heh) by my and all the preceding commenters’ love for your banter and genuine interest in the world of hell you’ve richly created and not a little resentment for contractual number-of-word constraints: can you make this a two-part book? Maybe part un (vive la France! btw) would be all the great back stories (in hell and earth) and part deux this book?

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    1. It’s an interesting idea but readers hate it. In other words, when they get to the end of a book, they want an ending. Cliffhangers in novels are read as unsatisfying (because they are) and a way to sucker readers into buying two books.

      My contracts are for 100,000 words, which means they want a book that’s somewhere between 90,000 and 110,000, and really, that’s my sweet spot. Cutting a book to hit that spread has always made for a better book. The one time I didn’t, Fast Women (116,000 words), it felt too long.

      I can put a lot of stuff on my website and probably will. But so much of what will get cut doesn’t do anything, so it’s good to cut it. Also, I have a sequel in mind (maybe), so hitting the ground running efficiently on this one is a good idea.

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  38. Could Nick possibly go to sleep one night (when the concept of sleep eventually catches up with him) and wake up clutching his sword across his chest?

    I also liked the suggestion that someone else made that his sword is just a part of how he unconsciously pictures himself.

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    1. That sounds like he’d also wake up in a bed full of blood.
      If I owned a sword, I’d be covered in band-aids all the time. I own cooking knives and I’m covered in bandaids . . .

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