So What Have We Learned From This?

It really is great to have so much feedback on the content of a Discovery Draft.  (And nobody rewrote, so you are now expert beta readers.)   So here are some of the questions I’m working on now as I continue making up stuff that will have to be fixed later, along with some character notes that you can tear apart. 

Nita:

I’m pretty good with Nita.  I still have to smooth out her emotional arc in these scenes, but by the end of breakfast the next day, she’s coping and changing, which is good because there’s more stuff coming her way.  I can easily see her looking at her personal life and deciding to concentrate on her professional life instead and getting back to work (good for the plot).  And getting angrier; she’s always been snarky and fairly ruthless, but she while she may snap at people, she doesn’t lose her temper.  So I can see her taking on more and more surprises and getting angrier and angrier at all the people in her life who’ve lied to her and finally breaking, and then just going after her enemies like Hell unleashed.  That’s gonna be fun.

Nick:

Oh, hell.  
So okay, he died in 1506 and was buried with his short sword (“In Italy, the upper classes favoured a short sword called a cinquedea the blade of which was broad at the hilt (supposedly five fingers wide: hence the name) and tapered its entire length to a sharp point. It came in a range of sizes”)
because it was a work of art.  Here’s Nick’s half-brother Cesare’s sword:

 

So twenty inches long, worn on the back, buried with him, and FOR A REASON TO BE DETERMIMENED LATER, shows up on Demon Island now. Hey, DISCOVERY DRAFT.  I need that sword in the story.  

The stuff where he’s jealous of Rab is stupid and has to go.  It’s too soon in the story and he wouldn’t be jealous of Rab anyway.  He wouldn’t be jealous of anybody.  The guy has an ego the size of medieval Italy, and he knows Nita and Rab.   C’mon, Jenny, stop with the dumb tropes.

So his body is coming back because of a combination of the drug and his awakening memory, muscle and otherwise, which create a loop.  I know what the drug is, it comes from this plant, although in real life the plant is a kind of purplish red instead of blue.  I also added “Resurrectionis” to the scientific name which Google translate tells me is right and yet does not sound right.  I’m still figuring out how it works, but I can fudge it because I’ve already got devils and demons, a Lazarus plant is a small leap after that (especially since it really is called a Lazarus Bell in real life).  

I know what happens with Nick, it’s these pesky historical details.  Plus how to tell the reader that he’s really 500 years old without stopping to do that, just as part of the ongoing action.

Keres

Keres is essentially Nita’s mom even though she’s only four years older.   Even as a pre-schooler, she protected her little sister from her mother (with lots of help from her brother and dad), she’s been running the funeral home since her early twenties (right after graduating from college) so death is no big deal, and she’s lived on Demon Island all her life so the strange is not a big leap forward.  I like the idea that Keres is basically a simple, joyful person who inherited her mother’s strong will, independence, and sexual curiosity and coupled it with her father’s strong will, ruthlessness, sense of justice, and basic goodness.  I love Keres, but she has no arc in this book, she’s just Keres.  SOMEBODY has to be sane in this story.

Mort

Mort is the male Keres, same parents, same upbringing, same close relationship to his sibs.  He’s a little more easy-going because as a male he hasn’t had to fight as hard, but anything that threatens anybody he loves brings out the Mayor in him.  Mort is also not going to arc much.  There has to be a reason that Nita didn’t grow up to be bitter and vicious with her mother’s attitude toward her, and that’s Keres, Mort, and the Mayor, all of whom love her without reservation and think she’s fabulous.

Mitzi

Mitzi has issues that are not all her fault.  Her mother is basically the church lady with a side order of monomania, her father didn’t like her, and there’s some stuff in her geneology that contributes to her general SuperBitch persona.  But she has good qualities, too: she’s strong, independent, sexually curious and not guilty about it, and active.  And she’s very good at her job because the people she takes out really were causing problems, they just weren’t, for the most part, demons.  Of course she’s also a murderous sociopath, but you can’t have everything.  

The Mayor

The Mayor has depths, but he’s basically the Politician You Wish You Had: he takes responsibility for the people on his island, he’s ruthless in protecting them, he balances the budget, he compromises as much as he can, and he gets things done.  His story is really in the past, he’s become who he’s always meant to be, so he’s not going to arc.  

Button

Button is genetically predisposed to believe in demons, so while her initial reaction is not good, she adapts more quickly than Nita.  Button is a fairly simple person with simple goals in a very complicated situation, so her reaction is to first simplify everything.  And if it won’t simple down, she’ll just shoot it.

Rab

Rab is Rab, a force of nature, following his curiosity wherever it takes him, embracing new things.  This point in time is a choice for Rab; he really likes being an agent but because Nick elevated him and Dag as a team, he’s reached the top of his job arc unless he becomes Devil, a position he wouldn’t have as a gift.  Earth appeals to him, but there are drawbacks.  Mostly he’s just trying to help everybody survive the current multiple revelations and disasters.  It’s why he brought a tranq gun, twenty gallons of scupper, and Nick’s Visa.

Dag

Dag was ambitious, and then he met Daphne.  Love has hit him hard, and he doesn’t know what to do about it, so he’s trying to navigate between her and Nick while his hormones are pinballing and horrible things are happening.  I’m a little concerned because I have two love story subplots but I’m not giving up either one of them, so I’ll just have to cope.

Daphne
Daphne is another strong-willed woman who goes after what she wants, in this case Dag.  She has a laser-like focus on her goals, so things that other people would find completely disruptive she categorizes as either related to her goal or not related to her goal.  The not related stuff can wait until later.  Do not cross Daphne.

Max

Max, although he will never admit it, wants to be Nick when he grows up.  He’s loyal to Mammon because Mammon has been extremely good to him–they have almost a father-son relationship although the balance of power has been shifting as Mammon ages–because he’s also practical with a strong sense of justice if not a respect for law (two different things).  

The Team

This is a team story:
Leader: Nita/Nick
Lancer: Nick/Nita
Research/Hacker: Rab
Enforcer: Button
Thief/Grifter: Max

Nita and Nick tag team depending on what aspect they’re working on: Nita knows the island and Nick knows demons.  The team has to be fully formed and operational by the midpoint.

This is going to be a long book.  Argh.  

And then there are the antagonists, which is what I’m working on now.

Anybody know how Nick’s sword which is in a tomb in Italy ends up on Demon Island?  I’m also not sure how Lazarus Bell works (it’s DISCOVERY DRAFT, I’m discovering), and about twenty other things.  So back to work.

152 thoughts on “So What Have We Learned From This?

  1. I love Button.

    Is Mitzi’s problem with Nita just who Nita’s father is?

    Well, how did Nick’s skeleton happen? He crossed over as a spirit and then…Satan gave him bones? Satan brought his bones? Is Nick walking around while his 1500s corpse/skeleton is still in a tomb in Italy? If it isn’t, why can’t the sword have come with the skeleton? Maybe one of the rules is that you can’t open coffins, so when Satan grabbed his skeleton, he actually had to grab the whole box, and whatever was in it, came along for the ride. But how the sword gets from Hell to the Island…Rab packed it?

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      1. You know, it doesn’t look broken to me. I’m starting suspect it looks broken only to the person who did it, that way they know they clicked it.

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      2. I honk the broken heart symbol means just “un-like” as in “cancel my like” — – i.e., I ❤️ it =’like” and I ? it = “I don’t like it any more”

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        1. “Un-like” doesn’t mean disapproval, just canceling the like.

          Forget it. I’m too tired to make sense, sigh.

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          1. Yeah the broken heart does mean you like it —- because it’s there to undo your “like”, should you change your mind.

            Clearly, unintuitive choice of icons on someone’s side…

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    1. Yeah, see, haven’t worked that out yet. (DISCOVERY DRAFT.)
      I was working vaguely on the idea that Nick’s attachment to Earth and worldly things would be through is body, so that’s what he’d evoke his facade from even though the skeleton’s still in the tomb.
      So here’s a detail that needs to be worked out . . .

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    2. I’m wondering whether Satan didn’t just allow him to invoke his body, he allowed him to HAVE his body. Which, as you said, would have been pretty gross by that point, therefore: facade. But the thing is, due to all the deterioration, his muscles would not have been able to grasp a sword just then. So maybe that’s why it didn’t come with him in the first place, and why it comes back when he has working muscles and tendons again?

      It’s thin, I know, but the impression I got from reading the first act is that the skeleton exists. Nick’s in it all the time, he’s not just a spirit who invokes the skeleton when he needs to. So if he’s building his body again as I think you said he would, maybe his muscle memory of grasping the sword comes back and brings the sword along with it?

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  2. From your descriptions, I wouldn’t put it past Max to get in good with Nick by robbing an old grave for a sword. He’s a fixer who might have some making up to do – or at least be looking to prove his worth and who’s side he wants to be on moving forward. And we already know Mammon has figured out how to open a gate in the past. So maybe Max talks Mammon into getting him a gate to Italy and brings back the sword and/or other information & items that could be useful.

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    1. I don’t see Max arming his enemies. Plus it’s too up front; Max would be more devious and would not so obviously suck-up. He might save Nick’s life, but he wouldn’t give him gifts.

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      1. Maybe Mammon gives Nick the gift to suck up?

        Or tries to do something nefarious with the sword, choosing a disgusted Max to take it away from him and… Hm. No.

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      2. Could the sword be something mammon took for future leverage and had Max hide on demon Island, out of the way, until he needed it? Never suspecting (because he does seem a little careless) that Nick might go to the island one day and find it? Like near mammon’s Portal? Isn’t that Nick’s bedroom? Is this idea too tidy/unoriginal?

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        1. It would require me motivating a lot of things just to get it there.
          Why would Mammon take the sword? It has no magic powers (no magic in this story) and Nick has no sentimental attachment to anything because he’s dead. It’s useless.
          Why would he hid it on an island he never goes to? If he stole it for a reason, why would he make it difficult to reach?
          Why would Nick find it? Lotta stuff on that island, especially when you consider the Nature Preserve and the amusement park. And if Mammon stole it, he wouldn’t hide it in his own bedroom.

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          1. I think the sword got to the island via humans – because humans are weird like that.

            Someone thought it was cool, and stole it and someone else thought it didn’t belong with that (other, useless) person, and stole it for themselves, and for each person who held it, it bit them somehow… I mean, swords can have entire books written about them. Or be good plot points in other books. Alternatively, it came to the island with someone in the first wave of settlers, some of them have to be from Italy, right? And it was hidden from the demon people somehow.

            Some puckish piece of me wants it in a rock in the amusement part. To be drawn in times of trouble.

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      3. Would Max give it to Nina to save Nick’s life? Or so she can save someone else’s life? Maybe she’s gonna need it when she faces her father or some one in Hell?

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  3. Could the sword be a Button family heirloom? If they’ve been chasing demons for centuries, and Nick’s Pope-dad made a deal with the devil, maybe a Button at the time got involved somehow and stole it from Nick’s grave? And then our Button brought it with her to the island?

    I had to look up the Lazarus Bell plant. It’s CHECKERED – I’ve never seen anything like that before. http://worldoffloweringplants.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Fritillaria-meleagris-Snakes-Head4-702×527.jpg

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    1. I know, I love that plant. It’s also called a chess bell because of the checks.

      There’s no reason for the Button family to have the sword of the bastard son of a 16th. century pope, so massive coincidence.

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    2. Checkered lilies are native to the yellow pine/ponderosa area of the Cascade Mountains where I grew up. They are fairly easy to grow in acidic soil in light shade if the bulbs are fresh. I have both the checkered purple ones and white ones with no checks. To be honest, I have never been able to grow them from bulbs. I buy established lilies from Collector’s Nursery in Washington state.

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      1. I love those guys and I grew them from bulbs once but never succeeded again. Now I know I have to go buy the established ones from the nursery. Thank you!

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  4. “Of course she’s also a murderous sociopath, but you can’t have everything.”

    This is why I love your books and Argh.

    Is it possible that Nick’s grave was looted and the sword stolen (by someone a long time ago who didn’t think he deserved it) and then through time and antique dealers and maybe against the advice of an interior decorator, it wound up on the island above someone’s fireplace?

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    1. Too much coincidence.
      However, if somebody did it on purpose . . . who or why I do not know.
      I kind of want it to just appear. I already have a scene where he and Nita are in the apartment and she tells him she can handle the skeleton bit so he doesn’t have to squander the energy. I could have him turn around and the sword be on his back. Except he’d have been buried holding it in front of him.
      I want that sword. I just don’t know how to get it.

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      1. Why not have it appear strapped to his front? He would have been buried with his hands folded over it, true, but since you can’t set muscles in a specific position once rigor has passed off, they wouldn’t have been able to wrap his hands around it and keep it there. So if they wanted it to stay in place throughout the burial process, they probably strapped it on. And it would have been strapped to his front. So he drops his facade, invokes his real body (or however it works), and there’s suddenly a sword hilt smacking him in the chin while the point endangers his other bits.

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        1. I think they put the sword in the tomb after they put him in, but that may just be my impression after long ago history lesson pictures of tombs with effigies on top.

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          1. And now that I’m actually thinking it through, if it were going to appear because it had been strapped on then it would probably have appeared with his bones anyway.

            Unless it’s got something to do with the strap having fallen through just the bones, but now his body is coming back… Too much explanation. Never mind.

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          2. Yeah, I really created a mess here. Oh, well, discovery draft. Maybe the Girls will send up something later.

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  5. You are probably planning on fixing this but, a scientific name only has two parts (genus and specific epitaph) not three. A third name would be a variety or subgroup and is denoted as such.
    Plant people are big on naming things after people or things they like. No need to be so literal if you don’t want to be. It might be a good way to drop some hints.

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      1. Perhaps just call it Fritillaria resurrectionis (which should be italic, but I can’t format it). (By the way, if you keep it, ‘meleagris’ has two Es.) There are many fritillaries, and they’re all pretty strange. Snake’s-head fritillary is completely magical, though, because of its unplantlike chequerboard petals. It’s just about in season now – I’m planning to go garden visiting this weekend, so might see some. (It’s often planted in meadows; pretty rare in the wild.)

        I don’t think adding a variety name would be convincing: it suggests it might have been bred by someone. Also, botanical naming conventions now avoid using Latinate forms for variety names, although this was common in the past. So it might become Fritillaria meleagris ‘Resurrection’ (with this last word roman in qq). But if it was named more than fifty years ago, say, it’s more likely to be Fritillaria meleagris ‘Resurrectionis’ (same italic/roman styling).

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        1. Okay, I’ll just delete the third word. This is snake’s-head fritillary, BTW. It just has archaic names, too.

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          1. It’s unmistakeable! And I like the fact that snakes are symbolic of resurrection, because of the way they shed their skin, so it’s absolutely the right plant to choose for this.

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          2. I think they called it the Lazarus Bell for that and because it looked like the bell the lepers rang. Bleah.

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          3. Was just thinking about the colour. F. meleagris is actually maroon (unless it’s white, when of course the chequerboard pattern doesn’t show). So it’s rather sinister as is. How about indigo with bottle-green checks? I was thinking that the bright blue you’ve given it isn’t as weird/sinister as the normal plant. Though bright sapphire is pretty unusual in flowers, so maybe ignore this.

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          4. I was thinking the blue looked more poisonous. The green I got when I played with the color was bilious. Let me cogitate.

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          5. Tell you what would look weird and poisonous: a bright greeny-blue. Turquoise is extremely rare as a flower colour. (But wasn’t sapphire blue the colour used for bottles of poisonous liquids? So that might have more resonance.)

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  6. I pretty much love this entire cast of characters. (Except the antagonists, most of whom we don’t know yet. And Mitzi, because Bad Mothers make me snarl.)

    About the sword, maybe one of the antagonists steals it from Nick’s tomb to harm Nick somehow, like the drug in his food?

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  7. Only thing that occurs to me re the sword is that it’s the kind of thing – along with bones – that does tend to persist/survive in graves. Although, of course, in the natural course of things it would get very corroded. But maybe the way Nick was ‘rescued’ from natural decay involves any metalwork on him being rescued, too, whereas textiles and flesh were lost?

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  8. I confess that I have not read the draft. (I have read some of the earlier materials and don’t want to spoil myself for the final product.) But, I have been thinking about the sword and Nick’s clothing. His body is starting to come back. Maybe his clothing starts to come back as well. Before, I presume that his clothing is an illusion–never gets dirty, stained. As his body come backs, his clothing starts to be real as well–stain here, burn there. Could you somehow work the sword into this concept too?

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    1. I think his clothing might be gone, too. I know some cloth survives in the tomb but I would think 500 years would make it so fragile as to distintegrate when he moved.

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      1. Cotton, linen and wool can last for thousands of years if the conditions are right.

        My take on the sword is that someone’s grandma or grandpa served in Italy in WWII or WWI. The number of things that were liberated along with Italy is truly amazing. It could have been bought from a shady character legitimately as a souvenir, it could have been “liberated” from an old church, it could have been a gift. Then Nick could find it on the island. The Getty Museum seems to always having to repatriate things that they bought only to find it was stolen or grave-robbed.

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        1. Yes but then you have the huge coincidence of somebody bringing Nick’s sword to Demon Island even though he has no ties there. Five hundred years, two different continents, and they just happened to end up together? No coincidences.

          You can have coincidence on the first page of your novel. After that, nope.

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  9. Suggestions for Nick’s sword:

    1) Antique dealers. Stuck in a trunk or something and eventually made its way here.

    2) Tomb robbers. These can closely overlap with either antique dealers or U.S. veterans of wars in Europe, bringing home ‘souvenirs’ that then get left in the back of the closet for a couple of generations.

    3) The sword had a reputation at/before his death, and somebody religious/obsessive in that church swiped it just before burial, keeping it as a valued relic, and their descendant eventually brought it to the island, maybe for hellmouth-related reasons.

    I see up above you’re against too much coincidence, but I see it as justifiable under narrative traditions. It is established folklore that if you throw your ring into the harbor, crying out “This ring will return to me before I ever see wheat as more valuable than rubies!”, there will be a massive crop failure and the ring will return in the fish cooked for your dinner.

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    1. Yeah, but then I’d have to write back story where he yelled, “This sword will return to me,” or something. It’s not coincidence if it’s set up. And I’ve already got 35,000 words of set-up.

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  10. I’m assuming you need the sword buried with Nick and not simply one like it that might be on the island?

    Any chance the Demon Firsters got it because in their plot to prevent Nick from becoming the Devil, they thought harming him with it would be some sort of poetic justice?

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    1. Then how does it get to Nick? Also, then I have to explain why the sword has mystical powers or whatever.
      The key is No More Backstory.
      I am inclined to think it has to be Nick’s but I’m damned if I can tell you why. I bet the Girls know.

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      1. I was thinking it got to Nick because of how the Firsters use it, whether that be leaving it as an incriminating bit of evidence somewhere and then Nick is confronted with it or the demons try to use it on Nick or someone he cares about and he takes it from the demon wielding it to protect said loved one or something along those lines.

        But based on other comments, it seems like you have reasons why this is not a good solution.

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        1. So one of the Firsters goes to Italy and robs the tomb to get the sword; I’ll buy that.
          What I don’t get is why. They kill somebody and leave the sword there, and then . . . nobody’s seen Nick wearing the sword, so there’s no way to tie it to him. So okay, let’s say it has his name engraved on it, I’ll buy that. But again, nobody’s seen him wearing it, plus this is a smart guy, and he kills somebody or commits some other crime and then leaves a sword with his name on it there?

          So start over, one of the Firsters goes to Italy, robs a tomb, takes the sword, and . . .
          Poisons the blade and then leaves it where he’ll find it? Could kill anybody.
          Dopes the blade as part of the making-him-human again bit? That could work, but they’re already doping his eggs, so why grave rob when they can just dope breakfast?
          Puts the sword in the bar so that Rab or Dag will find it as they gut and clean and take it to him, thereby evoking more muscle memory? There’s no reason for it to be in the bar, so they’d all be suspicious of it right away, start looking to see who could have put it there.

          So they’re not trying to hide it. They rob the grave and give the sword to Mammon who gives it to Nick as a peace offering but really with a nefarious purpose to be determined later. Why would Nick take a gift from Mammon? Especially Mammon who just robbed his grave?

          The real problem is that I don’t know what so important about the sword, aside from how it’s used in the climax, so that kneecaps everybody in trying to figure this out. It’s not magic, there isn’t any magic in this. The supernatural is all workaday stuff. (The magic’s back in Paradise Park and Monday Street. Too bad, Nita would rock a talking crow.) So what so important about that damn sword?

          I have no idea.

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          1. I take it the plot doesn’t allow Nick to go get it because it’s important to him, and as he becomes more human his attachment to it returns? Or send Rab for it? I mean, it has to show up as a surprise to Nick not something he arranged?

            I mean, it’s there because it’s important to him. So either he got it, an ally got it with his knowledge, an ally got it without his knowledge or an enemy got it. The enemy would have to know that it matters to Nick.

            Really dumb idea that might prompt a thought–Nick got it so Satan could use it in whatever ceremony he used to make Nick his fixer, the way swords were used with knights. Or Satan will use it to make him the next devil.

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          2. This is more of a personal quirk than a rule, but I like keeping my settings narrow.
            I think the tighter the setting, the more the characters are forced together.
            In this case, bad things are happening on the island, so for Nick to go off somewhere else dilutes the tension; if he can just leave, he’s not that worried. It’s one of the reasons it’s really important that his temper is first unleashed in Hell; he’s not just mad, he’s worried about the people on the island and Mammon and his buddies are jerking him around for political reasons.
            It’s one of those intangibles: the more claustrophobic the setting, the more there’s a place lock, like a time lock.
            BUT that’s just me; you’ll notice my stories are usually in small towns or small neighborhoods in big towns, or islands. I like ’em trapped.

            The whole using the sword as a ceremony is more back story and this things is practically collapsing under back story now.
            I think one of the good things about this is that there’s nothing that really needs explained beyond how Hell works because everything is pretty ordinary, demons are just like humans, they just live in another sphere, etc. I used to have a lot more stuff–Nick could speak in the Voice of the Pit, his eyes glowed red (why? no reason, dropped that stuff), so right now he has the power of transportation (the gates) and a weapon (the smite). So does the Mayor.

            I think my touchstone was logic. (It’s discovery draft, there is no thinking.) Is it logical that Nick would have red eyes? No. Is it logical that his voice would change? No. Is it logical that he’d be able to open gateways between worlds to send people to do their jobs? Yes. Is it logical he’d have a weapon/power? Yes. Is it logical that he’d have a magic sword? No.

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          3. Oh, sorry, I meant the Mayor has the power of transportation and a weapon, too. In case, probably a Prius and a stun gun.

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          4. My first thought on the sword business was “Vikings!” But the timing is all wrong. Also, the coincidences.

            Second thought was “Grave goods?” The sword came with Nick, and somehow he lost it after death.

            Third thought after reading this: the Firsters raided Nick’s tomb and all the belongings in order to do some sort of magical rite. If fingernails and hair clippings are powerful, having control over his skeleton and favorite dagger would be super-powerful . . . maybe? But I think that would mess with the internal structure of the story quite a bit, unless your Girls were already headed in that direction.

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      2. Could someone in Hell have taken it? One of the Demon Firsters. What if he finds it on someone on a quick trip back? Then he tales it back to Demon Island with him. He’s pissed because someone robbed his tomb to get it.

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        1. I’m starting to think I just won’t explain it. At the end of the book, when the team is standing in the middle of the smoking remains of their enemies, somebody can say, “Where DID the sword come from?” and they’ll all just look at each other in wild surmise.

          3+

          1. “This sword? No idea. Found it lying around. Now about those poisoned doughnuts . . .”

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  11. I adore all of your character notes and can’t wait to see ALL of this play out.

    The one thing that gave me pause was Mort being the male Keres, because that’s not how he’s reading to me right now. Keres is vibrant and dominates the room, Mort comes across as pleasant but unobtrusive. It could just be draft stuff, but he tends to fade into the background unless he’s got something specific to do, and even then he seems to be the guy constantly on the verge of saying “…or I could shut up and just let you get the crazy out of your system.” Which come to think of it isn’t a bad contrast with Keres, especially when someone finally crosses a hard line with him.

    How the sword ended up on the island:

    a) How about the historical society? Possibly not the current roster, but someone somehow thought it (and a whole bunch of other sharp, pointy objects) made a great addition to the collection. This is may be one of the reasons the current roster are so protective of their individual spheres.

    b) (edit: I refreshed the comments before I posted and saw this had been kicked around a bit) Maybe Mammon engineered it to screw with Nick in a passive aggressive way that Nick would, theoretically, never know about but would give Mammon something to secretly gloat about. I can see Mammon being the kind of ineffectual, petty dick that would rob Nick’s grave to stick it to Nick, and then hide it on his secret island Nick doesn’t know about to stick it to him even further, because “Ha ha, I know two things you don’t! Think you’re so special and powerful and smart? HA!” Max might hurt himself with the epic amount of face palming when he finds out.

    c) Alternatively, you did mention the Girodano/Goodnight connection a while back. And those Goodnights were both fiercely protective of their family heirlooms and just plain fierce. If it was the work of art you say, I could see the Italian branch wanting to hang onto it and the American eventually branch pawning it because, well, they couldn’t sell the forgeries and who knows why there’s an old sword in a chest?

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    1. Can only see the historical society being interested in it if it was supposed to have a demon connection, because of the island’s name. Could there have been a myth about Nick after he died that painted him as a demon? Enemies of his father? (Must have been just before the Reformation, though I don’t know that those ideas were around in Italy then.) Plus, of course, a mangling of the truth that Satan saved him.

      0

      1. The problem is that these are all (see answers above) good ideas, but I’d have to EXPLAIN them. And we are past the explanation part of our program.
        Maybe I just never explain it. Nobody knows why the hell it ends up in Nick’s hands when he drops his facade.
        Yeah, that won’t work.

        1+

        1. Maybe we’re not understanding the kind of explanation you want to have to make it plausible. Does the sword need to be like Chekhov’s Gun, looming in an innocuous yet ominous way from the first act onward? What kind of groundwork would make it fit with what you’re looking for?

          (Also, option D: Rab brought it along with the tranq gun and the scupper and the Visa. Because Rab knows Nick’s weapon of choice back in the day was his sword, and he figured why the heck not. You’ve already established a convenient “Because it’s Rab” theme in acts 1 & 2, so the groundwork could be there.)

          2+

          1. “Maybe we’re not understanding the kind of explanation you want to have to make it plausible.”

            Excellent point.
            It can’t be a coincidence or anything that needs a lot of explaining because I am already up to my ass in things to explain here.
            I want it because it’s going to be one way he rediscovers his physicality, that muscle memory thing, and because Nita’s going to take it in the last act.
            The problems I’m having it with it are discovery draft problems. I know I need it. The Girls set it up and it plays a big role in the last act. Discovery draft is no time to start tossing things because they don’t make sense; most of discovery draft doesn’t make sense.
            But I have just realized that I need to foreshadow the damn thing, so it’s goin’ in that portrait that Button shows Nita in Act One.

            Honestly? I think I’m just going with “The sword fairy brought it” until the Girls get off their asses and send up an explanation.

            1+

          2. “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords.” The island’s in a lake. Problem solved.

            10+

          3. Everybody who goes into the lake dies. Sword disappears forever.
            Also, that’s no basis for a system of government.

            5+

          4. I did think of something. As his muscles come back, Nick could be complaining that he feels naked without a sword – he doesn’t know what to do with his hands, he doesn’t feel safe – yada yada yada. Nita could offer him her baton; Button could tell him she could get him a gun and Nick could keep trying to explain how a sword – his sword- was special.

            So he googles the type of sword to show these foolish women how much better a sword like his would have been – and he finds it on Ebay.

            5+

          5. LOL. You can find ANYTHING on eBay.
            That’s where I found Phin’s pool table in WTT. I couldn’t afford it, but there were lovely pictures of it.

            3+

          6. Ha! I would buy online shopping as a plot point (I have done some interesting drunk eBay browsing myself).

            0

        2. If he winds up completely decked out as he was in his burial (full-on grave robes and all), then it would be “logical” that he’d have his sword with him. And maybe a codpiece and a few other accoutrements. The Phoenix being reborn with all his plumage.

          0

  12. Ooo, ooo, ooo! I know. A sailor with an Italian explorer (Cabot?) needed a sword to earn a place on the expedition and he stole this one from the tomb because he couldn’t afford one (a demon helped?) and brought it to the New World and ended up being betrayed and it ended up being traded and carried until it ended up on the island.

    Or not.

    0

  13. How about Rab brings Nick the sword. I mean, he brings along a tranq gun and 20 barrels of scupper, I’m sure if he knew about it, he’d totally bring over a rad epic broadsword.

    6+

  14. Four things:

    1. That is a seriously cool flower.
    2. “C’mon, Jenny, stop with the dumb tropes.” — This was discovery draft; no chiding the Girls.
    3. “This is going to be a long book. Argh.” — Nope. This is going to be a long book–YAY!!
    4. No idea about the sword. I trust the Girls will come up with something.

    5+

  15. The sword was given a second life when Nick was given his. It’s magical (now or perhaps always but human Nick didn’t know / acknowledge it before his death) and has been following him around for centuries. Possibly even protecting him in ways Nick doesn’t realize. It also has the power to kill Nick regardless of his form. When Nick invokes his form, the sword returns to its “proper” place to make its presence known and be reunited. If always magical and unknown to Nick, then it causes Nick to question… something.

    Sorry, another hit and run comment. I’ve only followed along now and again on a limited basis so have not a clue whether or not it would fit.

    0

      1. I think your definition of magic is different than mine. I see glamour (Nick hiding his true form), Demons are real, and resurrection plants as part of the supernatural aka magical world. An artifact with consciousness would slide easily as part of that world for me without getting into wizards and spells type of “magic” story.

        I’m having a lot of fun reading along when I can. And I’m glad your having so much fun. I know hair pulling but there’s joy in your community. That’s something truly special. Well done, on fostering such an environment.

        Enjoy your work so I’m happy to see you’ll have a new upcoming release.

        Thanks! I know you and the Girls plus the Cherries will figure it out.

        0

        1. Yeah, I think of magic as the way you described the sword having powers, as opposed to people having skills or plants having properties that are from Hell. Nick can’t make people disappear or levitate things, his skills are all related directly to his work: he can open hellgates and he can smite; pretty much opening doors and carrying a weapon. Lots of plants have medicinal properties. I think of those things as extensions of the real, rather than magic.

          But yep, magic is in the eye of the beholder.

          0

  16. Easy peasy. Tomb robbers have been around forever. That sword? Lovely loot. Weird antiquities collectors smuggle it all over the world, ends up on Demon Island!

    0

  17. One of his enemies unearthed it because it killed him the last time and it has to be used again to kill his spirit?

    Except it has to be used when he’s still uncorporeal because Bad guy #1 (who is planning on using the sword) didn’t know about Bad guy #2 who’s spiking the food?

    0

    1. Sure. I’ll just explain that when the bad guy monologues at the end. Did you learn nothing from The Incredibles?

      1+

      1. Please – like you didn’t love The Incredibles.

        Hey, I had another comment up there and it went away. Was it a problem?

        0

        1. No problem. I’ll go see if I can find it.

          ETA: Huh. You were not in Trash or Spam. Maybe you clicked away before it posted? I’ve done that.

          0

  18. Nick has the power of smite. It is NOT a leap to me that aspects of his human life that he has very strong attachment to will survive once he starts manifesting emotions.

    In Hindu Vedantic tradition and teachings there is a huge impact of what you focus on in this life as a precursor for what is created for future lives. Reincarnation works in this way. If you spend this life deeply dreaming, wishing, yearning, and vision boarding to see Japan and it is unfulfilled, then you will be born in Japan in a future life, not necessarily the *next* life.

    Nick has not been reincarnated but as a dead dude his impressions of his life were dormant as he lacked emotions. Now that he is emoting, there is that impression drawing surviving objects of strong attachments to him.

    Email me for clarity if this sparks something for you and is required.

    0

  19. The sword is a part of him (I hang out with enough martial artists and Vikings that that makes sense to me). As his physicality reasserts itself, so does the sword. Like his bones, it could be both buried wherever he’s buried, but also be where he is now. Maybe??

    0

  20. When I heard about the sword I assumed it was Nicks memory of the sword–a sort of construction the way his modern clothes are. His real sword might still be in the tomb. It doesn’t sound like that would work but I offer it in case it would .

    Another option:
    Nick went and got it. Many years ago before he got the smite maybe. Because it’s his weapon of choice and he just feels more comfortable with it. He has been doing a lot of fixing in many places and he thought he needed it.

    If this is the case, then it might be there when Nita looks at him after drinking the scupper and sees the skeleton. Which might also emphasize the 500 year old part.

    2+

  21. So, now, remind me, because either I missed it or it wasn’t in the bits I read (haven’t necessarily been able to get all pieces).

    Does someone (Nita) see Nick as a skeleton before the sword make an appearance? And if so, is it only for a millisecond or longer?

    Because, if Nick’s body has decayed just to bones, and the sword has been buried with him, it would have fallen in among the bones (assuming it was laid on top of him). So, it would be intermingled. Perhaps he’s actually always got it with him? But we don’t see it because what we see is just trompe l’oeil? And when his body is reconstituted, we can see the sword too?

    Or is it part of the story that it has to be found somewhere? That is, there must be another person involved?

    0

    1. The second paragraph there should have included the comment that if Nick shows himself just really quickly, it might not register that there’s a sword in there…

      0

    2. It hasn’t been found anywhere. It’s not in the story yet, which is why I must fix that.
      Way back when–I’ve been writing this for ten thousand years, you know–there was a scene where Nita said, “Show me what you really look like” and he became a skeleton holding a sword, and then he was surprised to see the sword. But that’s discovery draft when you don’t stop to make things make sense, you just write off the top of your head.

      And then later, the chickens come home to roost.

      0

  22. So I would have posted this in the appropriate spot, but those comments are closed. Husband has finished the Paper version of the First Act and I finally got to ask him what he thinks about the length of time it took Nita to get on board with the supernatural. He replied that he totally believed it and it didn’t seem long at all: 1) it’s only been a day, and 2) she’s been denying the weird her whole life. She has mental defenses that she’s spent a lifetime building up to overcome.

    Husband also says: the transitions in and out of Hell were very abrupt and threw him out of the narrative. But, he was reading on his phone, so I wonder if the paragraph breaks don’t show up on the mobile site?

    Lastly, he is very curious about Hell’s hierarchy (what hierarchy, I asked). Then he concluded that you must be creating a Sicilian gang and I was still going ???

    0

    1. The comments are closed? Must be an automatic thing. Clearly I have complete control of my blog.

      I kind of wanted the transition to be abrupt because it was abrupt for Nick. But I do wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have an earlier scene in there; maybe when Belia calls, he goes back to the office? No, that won’t work, there’s that 10:1 time difference. Rats.

      So here’s how Hell works:
      Think of it as a local office of a large corporation. Headquarters is Heaven, and it oversees the universe with God as CEO and angels as VPs. Then spread throughout the universes are the local offices. Hell is in charge of Earth’s afterlife, taking care of the newly dead, recycling souls, and generally keeping the trains running on time, so to speak. There are millions of other local offices for the other forms of life in the universe (squiggly things in methane seas on Titan, etc.) and they all have one big duty: make sure life keeps cycling. They don’t interfere in the affairs of the planet they’re overseeing, but if something disrupts the cycle of things, like alien beings showing up to alter natural history or beings dying and not going to the Afterworld but instead sticking around to mess with the living, then whoever’s Devil in that Afterworld sends agents in to get the sand out of the gears. Which means, of course, that some Devils and demons are squiggly things that can survive in methane lakes. Occasionally, somebody screws up at the Head Office and gets demoted, which is how Rab and Dag got to Hell (Rab’s fault, he had this Great Idea). Lucifer fell, but Satan was assigned there to clean up the huge mess that Beelzebub created, the brass coming down from the head office to kick ass and take names.

      Or maybe another way to think of Hell is as a corporate town: everybody works for the same company.

      0

  23. This is more a “love the sword discussion” comment rather than a useful “what if” one:

    Can one have a non-denominational type of reliquary where the sword might have been stored after a theft or some such? After reading Dan Brown’s Inferno (yikes) and too many books on the history of execution and executioners, I’m becoming aware of just how much grave robbing went on in the past.

    And wasn’t there a hilarious sword scene (or two) in Jenny’s “Don’t Look Down”? Or maybe guys and their swords are just ripe, so to speak, for restrained laughter by the girls?

    Not that I can’t admire a beautifully crafted sword, although admire might be the wrong word. I always look upon swords in museums with a combination of appreciation for beautiful workmanship and wonder, but also with horror: how violent and bloodthirsty we were and still are.

    0

    1. I don’t think there was a sword in Don’t Look Down. The weaponry there was all Bob’s and he favors guns.

      I think I just have to sit down and have a serious discussion with the Girls. Along the lines of, “Fine, you sent this thing up and it’s necessary for the climax, but WTF, Girls, I need more. Like what the hell does it mean?”

      1+

    2. I am enjoying the TV show Forged in Fire, where the contestants have to make a knife in round 1; put a handle on it in round 2. Round 3 is being sent back to their home forge to make a historical weapon chosen by the judges. So they’ve made swords. It’s amazing to watch and heartbreaking to see one break/bend/warp in the testing phase.

      0

  24. Using my nifty find function on my reader shows that there are several scenes in Don’t Look Down where JT mentally calls the outsized knife that Bryce picked up somewhere a sword because he is making fun of it, which I imagine a gun-type guy would do.:-)

    When you are talking to the Girls, you might want to ask also about scabbard. Because a sword without a scabbard probably has to show up differently and be handled differently than if it shows up with its scabbard.

    The abruptness is very abrupt, but I think it works.

    I really want to know what Rab’s Great Idea was that got him sent to Hell.

    I suppose your high standards wouldn’t just let you post everything you have up under a Backstory posting after the book comes out? This is such fun. Think of it as a contribution to the cause of furthering good writing, by showing people how much backstory you need to have characters with depth?

    2+

    1. Most of it is in fragments, so I think it would just be annoying.
      I’d like to know what Rab’s Great Idea was, too. I’m sure it’ll show up later. Discovery draft.

      It must be really hammering my rep as a writer to find out I never have the slightest idea of what’s going during the discovery draft period. “Where’s the sword come from? No idea. I’m sure it’ll show up later . . .”

      0

      1. Maybe for other people – not for you.

        It’s like watching a world class juggler – the fear/appeal is waiting for them to drop everything and then the immense satisfaction is when they don’t.

        5+

  25. I don’t even know where is the right place to stick this anymore, there are so many comments.

    Husband suggests re the sword: as the island was created as a home base to plot against Nick, maybe one of the creators, the idiot one, Thanatos, went and grabbed his whole tomb, cause having his skeleton has got to be good for something, right? And of course it wasn’t, so the bones, tomb, SWORD, just sat around. OR maybe Satan has it? Maybe the Pope turned it over as part of the bargain or something? And he dropped it while fooling around with Mitzi?

    Yes, I realize that is still going to require backstory or some type of explanation. But I think everything will. You can’t have a sword just show up without explanation.

    Are you sure it HAS TO be NICK’s sword? Can’t it just be a similar sword, which once he picked it up, muscle memory kicked in, and he knew how to use it? If it HAS TO be HIS sword, that implies there’s something special about the sword itself (so magic sword), so tome raiders, etc., would make sense, cause of course those people would go steal a special/magic sword.

    1+

    1. Exactly.
      It’s not magic. No magic in this book.
      It would have value to Nick, it’s a work of art, his father gave it to him, it’s the weapon he always carried, he died using it to defend himself, so I can see if it showed up, he’d be hit emotionally, but I think it’s a stretch for the DFs to say, “We’re doping him but seeing this sword will emotionally weaken him.”
      I just need to keep cogitating until I know more about the damn sword.
      Thanatos is the stoned one; Ashtaroth is the idiot. I could see him coming up with a bright idea.
      For some reason, now I’ve got Sleeping Beauty’s spinning wheel in my head; he pricks his finger on the blade . . . that would be like Button shooting herself in the foot.

      But yeah, the fact that I’m hooked on it being Nick’s sword means the sword is special.

      This may be a three-brownie solution moment.

      1+

      1. So, we’re assuming it has to be THAT sword, and for more than just the emotional hit. So the sword itself is special. Though not during his lifetime? That’s odd.

        Once you figure out WHY it’s special, you could also figure out who else would be interested in it, and they could potentially be the sword’s ride to the Island.

        So Nick is becoming human because someone is doping him with the plant. So at one point, the Nick spirit will be inhabiting a body. His body? Or is his body in a tomb? What kind of equilibrium problem does that cause, if any? What if the last step of the resurrection is forcing the spirit back to their original body? So there’s really only one “Nick?” And then something something about all the tomb stuff, including the sword, have to be present at the ceremony, and they cut him on the sword, cause you need blood to complete the transfer, and this is making no sense, and I am so glad I am not a writer.

        1+

        1. So, thinking out loud here, I don’t want it to be special, as in imbued with power.
          But Nita’s gonna take it to harrow hell.
          So why?
          I have no idea.
          Hmmm.
          Maybe it came from Hell in the first place. Satan and the Pope-Dad are BFFs. They give each other gifts? Then it’s not Nick’s sword and he wouldn’t be buried with it. Unless Pope-Dad passed it on.
          That would be really easy back story. “My father gave it to me after Satan gave it to him.” No magical powers to explain, it’s just a Sword from Hell.
          Then if Nita takes it, it comes full circle and it’s back with somebody Hellish.
          Oh, oh, that could explain what happens at the climax which heretofore I have not had an explanation for. DISCOVERY DRAFT.
          Must cogitate.

          3+

          1. Of course, I still have no idea why it gets out of the casket, crosses the Pond, and settles down in NJ on an island. Unless the Sword and Nick are really close, which doesn’t seem like him. He didn’t even have a dog when he was alive.

            0

          2. I have to say, I do like this Satan to Pope to Nick to ??? to Nita sword circle. Things coming full circle are nice, especially as it seems Nita taking any old sword is not an option. It would also explain how/why the Pope would have been able to strike a deal with Satan for Nick (I had wondered about “my dad made a deal with the Devil”). If there’s already a relationship…one where gifts had been exchanged…asking the guy to look out for your too-early-demised kid makes sense. And the Pope giving Nick the sword makes sense, cause what would a pope do with a sword?

            I realize this still leaves the problem of the sword getting from 15th century Nick to 21st century Nita. Would the Pope give it back to Satan? That seems rude, to return a gift. But if there’s no one else that he would trust a Sword of Hell with…might be the prudent choice… Or, “Look after my kid, and I’ll return the sword”

            Looking forward to the answer, whatever it may be.

            0

          3. I like this explanation; it makes the most sense without adding in the magical element you don’t want.

            0

  26. I pity your poor translators. In Dutch your Lazarus bell is called ‘kievitsbloem’, which translates as ‘lapwing flower’. How are they going to square that?
    I don’t know how it works in other languages, but it’s a fair bet that many of those ideas that work well in English, sound absolutely silly when translated into another language.
    Translators are underrated.

    0

    1. Not by me. It must be an awful job.
      The Lazarus Bell has several names, so the smartest thing a translater can do is call it Lazarus and then the word for bell.
      I once had my Russian translator e-mail me and ask what “TP” meant, and I had to explain that American kids would buy a bunch of toilet paper and throw it up in the trees as a prank. Which says a lot about Americans, or it did until the whole place went to hell and now TPing seems almost logical.

      0

      1. Yes: I remember having to work out what TPing was.

        When I looked up Fritillaria meleagris yesterday, I found out that ‘meleagris’ means ‘spotted like a guinea fowl’, which is even more obscure than lapwings. Why didn’t the early botanists name it after a chessboard or a tiled floor?

        0

  27. You are reminding me of Balanchine: “There are no mothers-in-law in ballet”–that is, nothing should need explaining there either.

    0

  28. *reads the many, many sword and magic comments*

    What if Nick’s sword was somehow key to the deal his dad the Pope made with the Devil? Possibly just symbolic, given how adamant you are that this story doesn’t have “magic”, but maybe it’s the symbol that anchors Nick’s spirit to his bones, or his bones to his spirit, or however that works (kind of similar to how the hellgates seem to work: they get anchored to one place/thing on Earth, and if that object is moved or changed or destroyed then the gate might move or be affected). The pros to this idea:

    -You’ve already set up the Pope’s deal with the Devil (and Nick being just bones, though now that I think of it the reason Nick has bones might have been explained more in comments than in the story so far), so making the sword part of that doesn’t require a ton of extra set-up, just a couple of references to the sword representing the contract.

    -It gives the sword an additional significance and connection to Nick beyond just being his favorite sword, and a reason for the sword’s appearance to not be so coincidental, however it gets there: if it just appears with Nick, it’s because it’s linked to his bones/spirit; if someone steals it from his grave and brings it to the island, it’s because they want to mess with the contract the Devil made for him (or at least try– heck, even someone trying to use his sword to turn him back into just a corpse or spirit and then failing would still be pretty plausible. Also entertaining.)

    -I thought I had a third point but maybe it was just two. >.>

    0

  29. The sword is really important to Nick because 1) its from his dad, who DIDN’T give him all the goodies that his siblings got (sibling rivalry is a powerful thing, I say, having just dealt with it with my 55 year old sibling) and 2) its his job, his area of competency, which all of us desperately need. I don’t think it even takes backstory–its just “my hand is complete again”.

    But why is Nick important to the sword? Or to put it another way, what makes the sword move? I think there is some logic to a sword that used to belong to the Devil returning to the guy who is now effectively the Devil, right? But its not animate or magical. It seems like someone has to move the sword, it can’t move itself. Given your rule about location, which makes sense, what about Lucifer? He knows Nick needs the sword, he was a competent Devil in his day, he might want to put the puzzle pieces together. Or someone like that. Of course I have absolutely no idea what you have planned for blue-eyed Lucifer but clearly something, so this could be totally unworkable.
    I can also imagine super efficient Belia handing it to him through a hellgate saying “hey boss, you’re gonna need this.”

    0

    1. Actually, historically, the Borgia pope was great to all his bastards, a very indulgent father, they all ended up wealthy in powerful positions.
      And they were all bastards, so . . .

      Yep, the key question is how does the sword get from an Italian tomb to a New Jersey Island.
      I have Lucifer as an indolent aristocrat, probably because his placeholder is the older Peter O’Toole. Lucifer wouldn’t break a sweat for anybody.

      0

      1. Take the easy way out, Nick’s going to be the Devil at midnight, when that happens he is given tribute.

        Have one of the demon’s dig it up for him as tribute after all it is so hard to shop for the devil, amazon gift cards just don’t convey the right amount of thought.

        They also may or may not have stuck a curse on it.

        0

      2. I thought at some point you said Nick didn’t get the title and marriage his siblings did because he is mixed race? That’s what I thought might prompt sibling rivalry. Although he could have been while alive just be attached to the sword because his dad gave it to him without sibling rivalry–it’s his proof of who his dad is.

        Which reminds me, is there a real picture of him back then and is his mom based on a real person?

        I keep thinking maybe the sword was brought to the island for the same reason the demon first demons made the island–to defeat Nick. The island is connected to Nick, the sword is connected to Nick, … maybe they were just hiding it from him because they didn’t want him to have it and then someone moved it the way the hell holes got moved and they didn’t know what happened to it? This could somehow tie in to its being Satans sword to begin with.

        Maybe it’s a symbol of being the Devil, Regalia, so to speak. And Satan will need it to hand over to Nick st midnight so they hide it under the belief that will prevent him from becoming the Devil.

        0

        1. No, his dad was mixed race, too, albeit farther back (that’s the real Borgia pope again). But low birth, bastardy, and mixed race would have been a problem in some circles. Wealth, good looks, and powerful support from his dad would have been the counters.

          I have the portrait I mocked up for this from a real Renaissance portrait.

          0

  30. What if someone on the island is/was a weapons collector? Nick’s sword magically happens to be sitting around as the only sword on the island is a coincidence. Nick’s sword sitting around in a collection of 1000+ swords – especially if it is well preserved and an excellent example of the form – is not as surprising.
    Also, a possible Easter egg for fans of your previous works – it’s not Nick’s sword at all; it’s a Goodnight forgery of his sword. No grave robbing, reasonable expectation that it would be in the US, even might have been available for sale in the last few decades if it was in The Basement when Davy married into the Goodnights.

    0

    1. The back story on that would be enormous. This is really a matter of work with what we have, not add new plot points or characters.

      0

  31. I keep seeing Enrico Colantoni handing Nick the sword and looking far, far to casual about it. Like maybe the Mayors had something to do with bringing it to Demon Island but I’m not sure why. Maybe it was going to be a gift for the new Devil, kind of a Congrats on the new job thing. The Mayors Know Things so it could be that they wanted to support him and one way of doing that was to put his favourite weapon in his hands.

    0

  32. Ok, having read all the comments, I am not sure my take is actually going to be helpful, but I’m weighing in anyway.

    One of the antagonists tries to teleport (or whatever demons would do) some part of Nick’s remains into their possession (because using it will make doping him work better), but actually sends the sword to Nick instead? This could work no matter whether Nick is currently using his actual skeleton or not (a point upon which I am fuzzy, possibly because I don’t care), because whatever they TRIED to to do, he got the sword instead. Unless teleporting counts as magic. Hmmm. So I’m back with Salpy’s husband regarding Ashtaroth as an over enthusiastic grave robber, apparently.

    Not as simple as it seemed in my head. Which segues nicely to my favorite bit of this post “so her reaction is to first simplify everything. And if it won’t simple down, she’ll just shoot it.”

    0

  33. I like the idea someone had about Nick carrying the sword before he could smite, but that would depend on when Satan gave that to him, right? If he gave him that power immediately after hiring him, then he wouldn’t have needed the sword. But if it was later, then couldn’t it just be sitting around Hell in the office storage closet or something and Rab packed it just in case?

    Maybe Nick could evoke the sword as part of his façade at some point, but instead of the illusion he ends up with the real thing (the way his body is becoming real). Not sure if that fits. Also no idea why he would need the sword since he can smite. Maybe Button wanted to compare weapons after seeing it in the portrait. I did read that it would be added to the portrait, didn’t I? Sorry, I just skimmed; there’s lots of comments.

    0

    1. LOL. I think first I have to figure out whether the skeleton that Nick’s building his facade on is the actual skeleton or . . . yeah, I need to figure out how that works. Then the sword thing will logically follow from that.

      2+

      1. Don’t forget: it can be a wave and a particle at the same time. You don’t have to over-explain it if it works one way in certain circumstance and another way in others. I think fantasy readers are used to this sort of dual reality. Like Schrodinger’s cat, Nick can be alive and dead at the same time. His sword could also winkle in and out of existence.

        (-: Or not. But I really like it. A sword or dagger that shows up on its own terms is so . . . Pratchett, and I’m glad I thought of it. (-: I might use it. Probably won’t be a dagger though. Might be an apple. Or a ring.

        1+

        1. It’s all yours, although I love the idea of Schrodinger’s Nick, which I am definitely stealing from you.

          3+

  34. Right, this is falling out of my head in a spew not perfect…

    You have that lovely, almost dead dog and that fabulously vicious cat. It would be interesting if they somehow got a hold / uncovered the sword.

    Switching from Hell myth to Hades, the dead were given coins to pay for their river crossing. It was put on their eyes. The essence of the coins went with them to the new world, even though if you dug them up the coins would still be there.

    You have already made a similar level like that in Hell, where they dream. It wouldn’t be that much of a stretch if the sword came with him to that dream side, like they do with the coins. And like Hades, the ghost-coins are taken from the dead.

    So Hell has this vault of the dead’s goods. But, like his bones, it is “other” of the object, not the one in the ground.

    Or not.

    0

    1. I keep thinking Belia may have gotten the sword. She’s efficient like that and this explanation seems plausible. Nick could just ask her to find it when he realizes he’ll need it on devil Island.

      1+

    2. The cat and the dog have big roles to play, but they’re a cat and a dog, no powers.

      The Greeks did Charon and the Styx. That section of Hell might have a River Styx, but in this world, the dead don’t get ferries, their spirits go to Niflheim and then on to the next stage. It’s very efficient. I don’t think I can reconcile a sword with a spirit (not a ghost). No coins, nothing tangible. They process souls/spirits, everything physical stays on Earth.

      Although now thanks to you I’m imagining the enormous lost and found department the ancient Egyptian afterlife must have had.

      2+

      1. LOL! Nefertiti: “I can’t flipping believe it. They forgot to pack my cone of perfumed hair wax. I finally get my brains back in through my nose, and I’m ready to party, and now I’ve got to go rustle up some hair wax. Honestly. I’m just glad they remembered the cats.”

        OK, packing the Egyptian afterlife firmly in a box because I don’t really need it in my brainspace right now.

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  35. Is there any chance that one of the plots is that the island was not just HQ for plottin against Nick, but where something is going to go terribly wrong, and get pinned on Nick, which is why his tomb and sword were brought over, so that he clearly can’t be Devil, cause see terrible thing. This was Husband’s refined idea.

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  36. So how do things get places in real life? They get excavated and then they get put in museums, and then other museums have exhibitions and ask to borrow the object. So the Historical Society seem totally island focused and not likely to have a suitable exhibition. But there could be a museum of Thrilling Scary Demonic things, that’s having an exhibition of real life murder weapons and which borrows Nick’s sword from the Vatican or… where is Nick buried? From some little museum in Italy, maybe somewhere in the Papal States like Bologna.

    Or it could have been stolen by grave robbers not long after Nick died and kept by their descendants and brought to the US and belongs now to some Italian-American and it’s hanging on the wall of The Devil’s Spaghetti along with Italian flags and a photo of the leaning tower of Pisa and bunch of other junk.

    So my problem here is that I know waaaaay too much about the period Nick supposedly lived in, because I am writing a Savonarola novel and I have done ALL the research. So he doesn’t even slightly feel real to me on those grounds — he sounds American, and modern, not like a fifteenth century Renaissance Italian, not in his attitudes, not in his expectations, not in anything. Also, in reality there were three Borgia bastard boys, Pier-Luigi, Juan, and Cesare, and the first two died, Juan in really fascinating circumstances, so my brain keeps trying to fill in (in the style of my own genre) how Nick fits in and why you didn’t go with Juan…

    You might want to watch the European “Borgia: Faith and Fear” series which might be helpful. You might want to read one book, which would be Guido Ruggiero’s “The Renaissance in Italy” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24702789-the-renaissance-in-italy a very readable book that might suggest useful things.

    0

    1. I thought Alexander had twelve bastards that he acknowledged. What happened to the other nine?
      And Nick isn’t a fifteenth century Italian Renn. man, any more that I’m a mid-century neo-conservative Ohio Republican. Where you begin is not what you become.

      But this is clearly a problem I’ll have to fix.

      I’m trying to think if I’m anything like where I was born and grew up. Basic values–pay your bills, don’t lie, be polite to strangers–but my world view, my politics, my language, my dress, my food choices are all very different. (I remember I brought home Chinese take-out one visit and my father was vocally disgusted. Foreign food.)

      0

      1. Well, the three above are his boys by Vannoza–that relationship also produced Lucrezia. They were legitimated, which the others were not, apparently.

        Then he had one girl by Guilia Farnese, (Laura), and then I can find references to at least six by unknown women–Pedro-Luis, Isabella, Bernardo, Girolama, Ottaviano, Rodrigo. Pedro-Luis was given a dukedom and died young, Isabella left lots of decendents, and I haven’t had a chance to research the others yet.

        It is possible that Ottaviano was really Vannoza’s son by her husband, I think, although maybe there was a different Ottaviano Borgia.

        That gets us to 10.

        0

        1. Yeah, all I cared about was that there were more he hadn’t legitimized but did take care of. So Nick would be part of that crowd.

          0

  37. Since this keeps coming up in the comments: It doesn’t bother me that Nick doesn’t act and sound like he’s 500 years old. I think of him the same way I think of vampire characters that sound modern – they’ve been around all this time absorbing new information, and there’s no reason for them to sound the way they did originally unless they’ve been living in isolation. For example, Angel looked and sounded nothing like an 18th century Irishman. How much that decision was based on David Boreanaz’s unfortunate “Irish” accent is something we may never know, but I buy that living in the U.S. for a 100 years would have changed his speech patterns. Nick has been to Earth frequently since he died and works with agents who go to Earth frequently, so I believe his vocabulary and dress would have kept up with changes. If the story were set in Renaissance Italy, it would be a big problem for me. I was reading one of my favorite historical mystery series once, and the protagonist said “cut to the chase.” In Regency England. Not OK. But it would actually be more distracting for me if Nick only spoke a hundred-years-old Italian dialect in the here and now.

    1+

    1. You know, so much of it is perception. I read somewhere that there was a real nun named Tiffany during the Renaissance. It doesn’t matter, nobody would buy that in a book.

      So even though I don’t think Nick would look or act or speak like the place he was born, some readers do, and it throws them out of the story. I’m going to let it ride for right now until I have a complete discovery draft, but then I’m going to have to go back in and do SOMETHING to fix that, even though I will maintain that logically it wouldn’t need fixed. Emotionally,as readers read, it’s gonna bother some people.

      In the same way I’m going to have to go through the beginning to make Nita more sympathetic; she’s not coming across to people as likable.

      But that’s truck draft stuff, not discovery, I think.

      0

      1. Really? Nita who will take the fall for her new partner isn’t likeable? She gives Nick her food? Poodle pajamas?

        I was thinking about what people keep from their childhoods. Accents. Favorite foods. Handwriting?15th c handwriting doesn’t look like modern handwritinf. Memories of big events? For example 1492 has the discovery of the West Indies, the reconquest of Spain and the expulsion of the Jews. Maybe he remembers one of these? Or one of the things his father did? Something about his siblings? ….

        0

        1. There’s not at lot of interior monologue in the first scenes and that makes her come across as cold to a lot of people. I can fix that once I have the entire discovery draft done because I’ll know a lot more about her, apart from the facts I already know. Facts don’t make character; the stuff that happened in her past does not determine who she is now. So I need to spend the entire book with her in discovery before I can go back and do the interior monologue that’ll bring her closer.

          My take on Nick losing his body is that he lost his emotions at the same time. He’s dead. He’s been separated from physical life but also from emotional connection. He did some time in Niflheim processing his life, he was ready to move on, and then Satan offered him a job. I just did a discovery monologue for Mammon in which he calls Nick a robot. That’s not right, Nick did retain moral convictions and an understanding of human nature (although I suppose a well-programmed robot could do that, too), but he lost emotional connection, not just because he was dead, alhtough that would have done it, but also because there’s no body to provide him feedback. Emotion lives in the body. The brain evokes it, but it’s expressed through the body, and he has no body.

          And here’s the thing: we remember things because of their emotional content. If you think of the things you remember, they’re tied to the way those events made you feel. If you lose the feelings, you lose the specific memory. You’re not going to lose the ability to eat, but you’ll probably lose the memory of the great meals you’ve had. You’re not going to lost the ability to walk or run, but you’re not going to remember the day you won the race or took a walk with your kid.

          So I don’t think Nick remembers much beyond the basic facts. He knows who he is, he know who his parents are, he knows who he worked for and what he did, he probably knows who killed him, but it doesn’t matter. The emotions are gone. If you need a comparison, think of things you were upset about twenty years ago. Are you still upset about them or have they faded with time? Now imagine you can’t even remember the emotion that made you upset, just the fact of the event. It just doesn’t matter any more.

          So nick remembering events is possible, but Nick having opinions about them, at least in this first act, just doesn’t seem logical to me. I can see him beginning to remember in Act Two, but I still don’t see why he’d go back to that. I mean, I remember mini-skirts and thigh high white boots, but I ain’t goin’ back there. I would think it would be more the things he did, but I don’t see Nick as a guy who did a lot of sword fighting, he was a fixer, he’d con people, maybe threaten them, definitely manipulate them, but he woudn’t physically harm them. The only thing I can think of is painting; he’s a Giordano/Goodnight, so his grandfather and mother would have trained him as a painter. But then the Pope would have grabbed him about eighteen or so as his fixer and that would have been that.

          So I just need to cogitate. And I’ll have plenty of time because I have a boatload of discovery draft to do. Along with the antagonist monologues and a lot of mapping antagonist actions. ARGH.

          0

          1. It’s almost like he has the type of amnesia that wipes out your personal memories. A psych professor in university had a patient with that and he said it was the saddest thing. The man could tell you how to get to his house, a fact, but not living there. He couldn’t remember himself having experiences. If you showed him a photo of himself he could tell you who was in it, what the occasion was, where it was taken, but he couldn’t remember himself being there. He couldn’t remember feelings. I think he could process and retain new memories afterward but I’m not sure. His emotional connection to his past was gone because everything happened to some other man in a way.

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  38. Museum of Man in Balboa Park held a fundraiser last month so it could endow, take out of storage and display a hoard of weaponry – mostly swords, dirks, other pointy objects – left to it by a distinguished 19th century citizen and collector.
    So now problem here understanding how the sword got to the island.

    0

  39. Jenny – “Where you begin is not what you become.” And thank Goddess for it too. Feeling a bit introspective, am looking at my journey, cos it’s me birthday. I haven’t moved far in distance but I’ve moved amazingly far in mindset.

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