Names. Argh.

So after three people said they had a hard time keeping the names Dag and Rab straight, I knew I had to change them.  Rab was too much a character for me already to change, but Dag was too non-Korean a name to work, so that was the one to change.  Then I found out that most of the Korean demons were damp women, so I co-opted a Korean supernatural entity named Jeoseung, which made him Jeo.  Jeo and Rab.  Not the same.  

And then I started rereading the first act and remembered that my murder victim was Joey.   Jeo and Joey?  No.  So Joey had to change (he’s now Jimmy, close enough) but all of this is, of course, shifting characterization for me.  Jeo seems smarter than Dag for some reason, and I always thought Dag was smart, so that’s odd.  And Jimmy doesn’t seem as big as Joey was, although of course he is.  Names, do not mess with them.

In other news, here’s your beta draft of Act One..  If you want to comment, tell me the stuff I need to fix and the stuff I need to keep, no rewriting.  If you don’t want to comment, that’s good, too.  Have a nice day.

92 thoughts on “Names. Argh.

  1. Having just finished a book that had characters named Cara and Cira, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for paying attention to this stuff!

    I’m off to read the act one draft now. I’m really loving this story and how it’s developing.

  2. Lol. Methinks that you think that Jeo is smarter because you’re falling into Smart Asian stereotype with Korean drawing your focus.

    Harsh? Maybe.

    Btw, I always see a Britney as a little silly but a Brenda as more studious. Just because.

    1. No, I taught for a long time. I don’t do intelligence stereotypes. “Joe” just sounds more down to earth and practical than “Doug” to me. That may be because one of my favorite students of all time was named Joe. He worked high school theater tech with me, a no-nonsense senior who pretty much from the beginning said,”We can do that” very calmly and then went off and did it. The kid was amazing. And in his forties now, so Joe, wherever you are, you’re still fixing things for me.

      1. Names just… names are like that. It’s like you can have Bessy and Betsy and they’re obviously totally different. When I saw the cover of my first book — and it was a great cover — I said she didn’t look like the protagonist, it looked like somebody whose name began with an R. And my editor said “Oh, you’re one of those.” Clearly, you are also one of those. If you decided Jeo looks like a misspelling of Joe and decided to go with Jeos, or Joss, then ex-Dag would change again.

        I am writing a fantasy novel right now about Savonarola. I call him Girolamo — it’s his name, it’s an Italian version of Jerome, or in Latin Hieronymo. I read a Victorian bio of him that called him Jerolamo, and I briefly thought about using that because I imagined readers would know how to say it — but I couldn’t, because it wouldn’t be my Girolamo. Names are great! No, really, great!

        1. They really are crucial. I’ve had protagonists I couldn’t make come alive until I changed their names. It’s just a Girls thing.

      2. I always think of Steven as spoiled and sneaky. Because every kid I knew in school named Steven was one or the other.

        Jimmy seems shorter than Joey to me as well. But that’s because my dad was a Jimmy. And Jimmy Cagney. (There’s also a great book on being Irish American called “Looking for Jimmy.”

      3. I can’t hear the name Doug without thinking of the joke ‘what do you call a man with a shovel in his head?’ Doug. What do you call a man without a shovel in his hand? Douglas. (less).

        Yeah, names have associations. You just can’t always tell what associations for what people.

      4. The sounds of names matter me. Names with long vowels (Jason, Simon, Kate) sound like stronger characters to me while names with short vowels (Cliff, Sam, Marge) sound like weaker characters. Similarly, sharp consonants and sibilant consonants suggest different characters. Of course, all the other associations that folks mention matter to me, although I find “stereotyping” too negative a term.

  3. Not reading anyone else’s comments first. I’ve read all the previous versions, so don’t come to it fresh. But this does read like a real book: it’s rich and complex and intriguing. I think it’s great. Especially love how it ends.

    The pacing worked for me. There’s a lot going on, and so a lot of different places it seems the story could go. I was never bored; and never seriously confused.

    Here are the few places where I stumbled slightly – n.b. none of them are major.

    1. First appearance of the Hotels: I really want to get to know Nick at this point, and after getting to know five characters in the first scene (plus three others who are mentioned) – which was fine – I balked a little at three more here. BUT Rab’s interaction with the Hotels only a little later was really nice.

    2. I didn’t like Belial’s burning bush joke; felt naff and so threw me out for a moment.

    3. At the end of Chloe and Nita’s scene in the police station I was feeling closer to Chloe than Nita. I think I’d like to be a little closer to Nita altogether, because it’s character/relationships/romance I read for.

    4. Ch. 5/scene in Hell: I started getting slightly confused by the number of demons/devils with synonymous names (Beelzebub, Belial, Mammom, Moloch, Lucifer, Satan); also because I didn’t understand what they all are, although that was in fact dealt with soon after.

    1. I had to look up “naff,” so thank you for the new word.

      I’ll get back to you on everything else once the weekend is over, but I think I’m just going to have to ride with the inital confusion over demons and devils. They were originally in mythology all different beings but Christianity likes the idea of one antagonist (actually, so do I), so they collated them. The key is going to be differentiating their personalities, but that’s the fun part (for me anyway).

  4. Love Binky. Poor Binky.

    I appreciate the name change, in that it’s much easier to keep track of Rab vs Jeo. The provenance of the names doesn’t matter as much as being able to differentiate between them. I haven’t built an image in my head of them like I have Nita, Nick, and Chloe. Vinnie was much more real this time.

    One nit I have to pick- the “world-semi-famous” reads clunky to me. I stare at it to make sense. Then I have to read it as “semi-world-famous”. Like I said, a nit, but I come to a screeching halt there.

    I like how Nita thinks to herself-I already know this stuff, I just have to move it. That and “Just a minute,” were good. Huge shifts like that wouldn’t be easy, and would need some processing. This really works.

  5. Would it help if you spelled ‘Jeo’ as ‘Jio’ – it negates the Joe mistake.

    A relatively well published author had a character called Miach. My brain refused to see it and kept on making it Micah. Finally I just surrendered to reading it as Micah. To this day, when I discuss books with cliffhangers that I dislike, I will say that the character’s name is Micah. Then I try to correct meself.

    1. This reads poorly. The book ALSO had a horrible cliffhanger making it one I use as an example when explaining why I hate them.

  6. To me Joey is Italian-American, and Jimmy is Irish-American. Jimmy, I think Nate’s dad on Leverage. Joey, I think Joey in Agness and the Hitman mixed with Fusco from Person of Interest.

    I have no associations whatsoever with the name Jeo. But Dag makes me think of darn and dagnabbit. Like a mistake that was dumb, but not consequential enough to warrant real swearing.

    The trick with names is always figuring out what are the connotations that one random person has with a name, vs. what are common cultural connotations that are going to effect most readers experience with the story. I don’t know how to do that.

    1. Is there any possibility that Joey is now Tony? Because in that odd hopper I call a brain, Tony goes better for me than Jimmy with Vinnie.

  7. Read through this draft pretty quickly. There was a lot of informational backstory. I think I got bumped out of the flow of the story about three times. I stopped, unraveled what tripped me up and moved on.

    An example – the conversation with Button that starts with her asking “where are we”. I eventually figured that Nita was being snarky or smart-ass, but tripped over the “bonding not in the cards”. I understand that Nita’s not at her best at this exact moment, but it felt wrong.

    Skimming back over, I can’t find either of the other two spots that tripped me up, so they must fit well into the overall flow.

    Thanks for the peak.

    1. I didn’t see the links for the additional chapters. Good stuff!

      Typo – chapter 3 – says “and she could see through out facades”. Believe you want “our”

      “as opposed to a Zipper” heh heh! great line!

      Okay – finished through six chapters, and I’m now chomping at the bit for the rest of the book. Overall impressions – it’s got a lot of action, and believable characters – and folks I’d like to get to know.

      I skimmed over the first reference to “the Hotels”, but felt the Muppet references were a bit much with Waldorf and Statler. I might suggest using other names so it isn’t quite so in your face – Hilton or Holiday for example. I had a similar reaction to Ranger Rich, having grown up with Ranger Rick who was always a good guy.

      Thanks for letting us take a look at it. I’ll look forward to reading this again when you’re done.

  8. I told you before, this is good stuff.

    Two things though, one could just be me. Near the beginning, at the crime scene, you say SUV three times in the same paragraph and it catches on me. I hate word repetition unless it’s a pattern, it’s one of the weird things that snags my brain (I think it’s an Asperger’s thing), so feel free to disregard.

    I could use some more details on Lucifer/Satan/Beelzebub trifecta and just who Nick is going to be replacing, even just a sentence or two. All along people talk about Nick being The Devil and all of a sudden there are three Devils.

    1. Well, Satan’s in the Devil’s Chair and Lucifer and Beelzebub are the Emeritas Gallery, but I think there was something in an earlier draft that explained who they were. Must have gotten lost along the way. Wonder where that was? Maybe it was in that lunch scene I cut. Hmmm.

      Got rid of two of the SUVs. That was easy.

    2. I was having repetition issues with Button having “admirable focus”. I know focusing must be hard for Nita, drunk as she is, but the phrase kind of bounced me out both times. I suspect it’s the, “of course she’s focused, she’s not drunk,” logic.

      1. I didn’t realize I’d used that twice until you pointed it out. One of them is gone, thank you very much.

  9. I always thought Dag was supposed to be the smart one, and Rab had possible depths but tended to out-wit himself trying to be clever.

    1. I think of them as a great team: Dag/Jeo is level-headed and responsible and logical, and Rab is enthusiastic and creative, so they balance each other out. I think they’re both smart, they just manifest it in different ways.

  10. getting he set-up right, the Nick is dead etc. simply takes time but it might go better with more snark. (Everything goes better with snark. I don’t understand. Wouldn’t Nita’s twin More be he son of Satan too? When Nick tells him about Nita he said nothing about Morte.

    1. Nita and Morte have different fathers. It’s called superfecundation. Mitzi was not exactly the faithful type.

    2. Nick’s already noticed that Nita’s dad and Mort have blue eyes, and Vinnie tells him that her mom has blue eyes, too, so he knows there’s something hinky in her parentage. Nope, Mort is the Mayor’s son.

  11. If you need a Korean name or nickname, you might peruse the Dramabeans blog. You’ll find lots of nicknames for characters in the posts and comments.

    1. I really have to get to watching K-drama. I haven’t seen TV in weeks (it’s just been that kind of fall), but it’s on my list.

      1. Yes!!

        Goblin (every episode shot like a movie)

        My Love From Another Star (mystery/superhero-type)

        Signal (suspense)

        So many good ones.

        1. PS – You can watch on Viki, DramaFever, and Sometimes YouTube (with a fuller video quality). Netflix has some, but they aren’t always very good. I don’t know about Acorn.

          1. I have Netflix, Acorn, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. And I will get to Kdrama eventually. I’m just swamped right now.

  12. I can’t see how you think this is boring. By the time I hit chapter five, my heart was rabbiting. And I’ve read it before. It doesn’t feel slow to me at all. Something is happening all the time.

    The only place I started to skim a little was the breakfast scene. I love the breakfast scene, even if I’ve read it several times, but I found myself skimming the places where Nick explained why he was on the island, probably because that was explained earlier when he was talking to Vinnie. Although it could be because I’ve read it more than once over the last few months. 🙂

    I will admit my brain is weird, but the sentence in Chapter One (“Yes, Nick,” Jeo said, still behind Vinnie) jumped out at me because you cut the part where Jeo stepped behind Vinnie.
    Same thing in Chapter Two (She turned to look at Vinnie’s supply of booze—still abysmal—and remembered her missing Binky). This is the first reference to Binky by name, and it seems to be the first time Nita notices Binky is missing, so it threw me.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I am soooo looking forward to reading the whole thing.

    1. Will fix. Lani calls those “vestigial tails” because they were necessary once and then evolution happened.

  13. I think I’ve read “‘And your brother called you to come here?’ Button said, with admirable focus” in every draft and it still made me laugh out loud. So did Button trying to keep a drunk Nita focused, unobtainium button, Button’s comments about the cops and Nita’s smile. Please leave all that in.

    Just realised the reason the Hotels threw me: why are they called the Hotels? Ok, I googled and found the answer. I used to watch the muppets but never realised Statler and Waldorf were named after hotels. Could you chuck in a sentence of explanation for us cultural ignoramuses?

    “The smart one who will probably survive this mission is Jeosueng.”

    I haven’t seen enough evidence at that point that Rab’s acting stupid. Also doesn’t mesh well with the 2 being his best agents.

    Nita looked at his hand for a minute and then shook it, bracing herself, but there wasn’t any dizziness. That was new.

    This seems an understatement. If she’s spent her whole life being dizzy when she touches someone, I think she’d be shocked by this. I gather it’s only full demons she’s ok touching?

    “Oh, now you sober up. ”

    Laughed out loud at that. (And a bunch of earlier bits, but this one struck me.)

    1. I tried to fix the dizziness bit, but I’m thinking the smart thing it to cut that whole bit. I’ve already got the cold; not sure where I was going with the dizzy. Vestigial tail.

      ETA: I just cut all of that. It wasn’t doing anything any more.

    2. I know we’ve talked about the Hotels before; I too have never watched the Muppets, and the problem name is Statler. Never heard of an hotel called that, whereas Waldorf and Astoria = old luxury hotels. If only the Muppets had used Hilton instead.

      1. I have Nita explaining it to Nick later where it makes sense for her to do it.
        I thought the Muppets were international, so that’s a concern. How did you all ever survive without the Muppets? (Ignore the latest reboot, it was awful; the old stuff is wonderful.)

        Here’s forty minutes of Waldorf and Statler. (You can just watch the first couple.)

        1. Tall Boy bought me The Muppets on DVD a few years ago. They always cheer me up. I was down about something a couple of weeks ago and he told me something good and said Yay and waved his arms. He’s a tall, pasty-white human but for a few seconds all I could see was a short, felt, frog. Now I need to go watch the Muppets.

        2. Panic not: they were shown in Britain. I looked it up: 1976 (just as I started my second year of university) to 1981 (a year before I got my first TV). Of course, there were repeats and specials, but they just never got on my radar.

      2. Statler Hilton was a very big hotel in DC. Innovative chain, sold to Hilton in the 1950s. It was one of downtown DC’s big hotels.

  14. Hell feels to me like Nick and Max are trying to herd of argumentative arrogant jokey types who think everything’s one big party. I could see them both losing it and yelling “would you please take this seriously for a change!!”

  15. Am re-reading the Crazy People stories and there’s an intro to to ‘Meeting Harold’s Father’ where you say “Novel writing is not for people in a hurry.”

    Thanks for sharing the inner workings of the craft.

  16. So far I’ve only read chapter 1, which I enjoyed immensely and which makes me hungry for the actual book. I do have two pieces of minor feedback: I felt the scene in the bar before Nita came in–Nick, Vinnie, Hotels, Nick’s agents–dragged a bit. I was completely involved in the first scene, and eager, at the end of it, to read on and find out what would happen to Nita in the bar. I was fine with the beginning, as Nick and Vinnie interacted, but eventually that scene started to drag a bit for me. It picked right up again when Nita came in. This might just be me and the mood I happened to be in when I read it–sometimes I reread something that hadn’t work for me initially and think, “Why didn’t I like this? It’s great.” Still, I thought I’d give you my initial reaction.
    The second is very minor and might just be a result of my trying to read too fast. When Jeo and Rab first appear, you give concise descriptions of each, and then “We’re done upstairs,” the taller one said to Nick.” Neither had been identified in the descriptions as taller. Jeo is “medium height” and Rab is “stocky.” It still works, because Nick immediately thanked Jeo and then turned to the stocky blond, which of course cleared any confusion. But it did throw me for a moment; before I went on to see Nick turn to Rab, I looked back at the descriptions to figure out which agent was the taller one. Possible vestigial tail? Or purposeful attempt to break up the description a bit, misunderstood by me because I was just trying to read too fast?

  17. So Vinnie is tall? This is one of those name things, but I think of Vinnie as someone short. But Nita thinks the corpse is Vinnie until she’s told it’s Jimmy. Or is she not basing it on length, but girth?

    1. Big, I think. He’s never described as tall, just “Judging by the size of the body on the pavement, the bar’s owner, Vinnie Smith, has left one Hell for another”. Big guy.

  18. Shared with my husband – a published writer himself – Nita’s first chapter as new eyes on. He said he found it very good. His one comment was he found the idea of bad donuts odd. The man loves his donuts, but only from one specific vendor who’s hardly ever open, thank god.

  19. Ya know, I don’t associate the Hotels with Muppets at all. Have never watched, but culturally I know what/who they are. Just assumed Hotels were Hotels because they were always in place and stationary.

  20. Jenny, what’s the time ratio from Earth to Hell?

    Because if it’s one day to one hour, then Satan sleeping with Mitzi’s only been about a year and a half ago. And I don’t think he’d forget her that fast.

  21. Nita Dodd, Act One Truck Draft, September, 2017, CH 4

    “You know, I should have had you transferred out of here for being a disruption as soon as I knew your history.

    “I thought the Lieutenant wanted it first thing tomorrow.” Button speaking to Nita. Couldn’t find Nita telling this to Button. Previous?

    Nita Dodd, Act One Truck Draft, September, 2017, CH 6

    Nita turns to “him” after Rich receives smite, “him” obviously Nick, but the previous name reference is to Rich. Need to reference “Nick.”

  22. Love what you’ve done to the old place. Great consistent rising pace, characterizations focused. Town seems multi-dimensional, which is as should be but difficult to bring off.
    Now go on with yourself. We need more! (no pressure, of course.)

  23. I’m a fresh reader so everything is new to me. Think your concerns about the first act may be just a “too close to the writing” thing. Worked for me. Starts where things tip from normal (for these characters & the place) to registering something big is off. Then as bits of info are laced in, the rest still moves the story forward and reveals character. Not boring or slow.

    Practically, as others have noted there could be a tad more orientation added–not lots of info dump but a sentence here or there to ground the reader. Also, as others have said, I personally didn’t get some references so not sure how universal they all are (not sure it matters, though, b/c it didn’t affect my read).

    One aspect that I’m not sure already got mentioned: Near the beginning there’s a mention of “another wrong thing” where I got lost & had to go back–possibly the reference would work better if the first mention of wrong thing was closer to the second.

    And in the “make readers care” camp, maybe having the “victims” involved in the first night’s events more personal to Nita might up the ante some–I was reading as an “already interested reader” so not a prob for me, but trying to put my more objective reader hat on, wondered about it. Having people like the “victims” didn’t feel quite the same as them being important to Nita.

    Overall, think there’s enough mystery to keep readers engaged & some good banter, and solid, interesting characters. And good pacing. The scenes where Nick dips into Hell worked for me, too. Reminded me some of “Being Erica” when Erica goes through doors and ends up in therapy–which, as I was reading, had me hearing the same swoosh sound effect in my head that the TV show used. Very fun:)

  24. I love it! I think I’ve read all the versions and this one flows really well.

    Like a commenter above, I tripped over Statler. The others I recognized as hotels but not that one. I kept thinking, who’s Statler and why does she need him? I think if you used a more well-known hotel name, it would eliminate any confusion over the Hotels. Though I am Canadian so maybe most people will get it.

    It’s inspiring and very humbling reading this as I work on the first draft of my own WIP. You convey so much through dialogue and while keeping things moving quickly. Makes me see all the work I still have to do to achieve anywhere near the same.

    Really enjoying this story. It’s really fun!

  25. Sorry for lat comment – traveling, etc.

    This version is terrific! I can’t think of anything I loved in earlier versions that don’t appear in some form in this one, so I found it the most satisfying thus far.

    Only think that threw me was “began to scan through Rab’s research on the shoddy table” which made me wonder why he was researching the table….. until I re-read it.

  26. Joe brings up connotations of someone who played football in high school and was good at it. Off to Friday Night Lights to check what other names fit:
    Has potential tier: Jason/Jay, Buddy/Bud, Mac
    Still has potential but not top tier: Luke, Ray, Levi
    ….eh tier: Brian, Billy, Mitch, JD, Henry, Matt, Lance
    Nah tier: Eric, Tim, Jess, Chad

  27. I really like the double progression of Nick finding emotions and Nita realizing that demons, et al, exist. Both seem to be reflecting on the fact that they are themselves changing. I really enjoyed reading this truck draft. (And my family thinks I’m upstairs in bed because I’m sick. Heh.)

    The story came alive for me when demons started being identified — like Cromes. I’m glad you’ve managed to compress all the signs of demons so that by the time Nita is forced to believe in them I’m completely convinced and already wondering what she’ll think of her father.

    I’d like more reason for Nita to go behind the bar and make herself a drink. It seems odd to me that she’s (1) acting as if she owns the place (like a bad cop) and (2) boozing some more even though the set up showed that she isn’t an alcoholic, she knows she’s acting unprofessionally, and that the 3 earlier toddies had made her sick instead of curing the effect of the bad doughnut. I’m trying to remember the earlier version — did someone pour the liquor into her cup?

    I’d like to have a clearer picture of the Hell scene. I know that there are 3 tiers. Is Nick leaning over a railing to look up and down? Or, does it look like Congress? Who has seats? (Guys seem to swarm close to then far away from Max, Mammon, and the two others.) After the terrific tie between the architecture on the island with the building in Hell, I want to see this scene in my mind.

    Thanks for these chapters!

  28. Oh, I really like this! Love what you’ve done with the first chapter, and I finally feel Jason fits in fine here.

    Only two niggles. The first is that in Chapter Two, I have trouble keeping track of where Vinnie is (and to some extent Rab). Vinnie is trying to get away (but doesn’t succeed), is behind the bar, in front of the bar . . . .

    The second is that if Rab and Jeo have been on the island for a week, why are they only being introduced to Vinnie now? Or am I just misreading that.

    Your diner eggs get me every time. I had to go home and have eggs and buttered toast for supper, which was nice. (-: Easy and delicious. I should have had bacon, but I had some chicken sausage I needed to use up. I may have to have the baon with eggs and buttered toast again tonight.

    This is great! Can’t wait for the rest!

  29. I love the flow. I love having Jason back. The Hotels work better for me in this version. (And as I said previously, being a DC native, Statler is a hotel & a Muppet I’m familiar with). There’s no point where I wanted to stop reading and walk the dogs frex. I read it through for pleasure and then read it through again.

    Nit picky stuff.

    What throws me out a little is the time flow. Nick continually thinks in earth time rather than Hell time even when he’s in Hell. I don’t quite understand if the Four Horsemen of the Stupidity Apocalypse (Mammon, Moloch et al) built this island for their private getaway and it seems to have been semi secret, how did Satan end up being there and sleeping with Mitzi. How often does Satan travel to Earth? Nick’s his fixer and it doesn’t feel like he goes very often so why would Satan go in the last few years of his reign (Hell time not earth time)? Why didn’t Nick know that Satan had been there in the last 3 years?

    Heck how often does Satan sleep with humans? Because if he’s on earth every Saturday night that’s different than if Mitzi was the last woman he slept with?

    Nita’s a native. So some of the demons who have shown up like Mr. Crome will have done so within her lifetime, right? But in a tight community, she doesn’t seem to distinguish between natives & new transplants. She also seems to have gone out with a lot of guys – like Rich. But she’s surprised that when she touches Rab there’s no dislocation. Except she must have touched other demons – again like Rich – without the dislocation before this. She also doesn’t seem to be on first name terms with Mr. Praxis or know that Crome is rumored to be a necromancer.

    In two places, our guys need to be back in Hell before midnight Hell time or Saturday night. When Nick tells the boys they’re confined to quarters, it’s Friday night.

    In the first description of Vinnie & the bar, “his bald head bent in the red glow of the many elderly Christmas lights strung across the speckled mirror and battered shelves behind the bar, his face the color of the faded-to-bloodshot-pink teddy bear with devil horns on the shelf over his head.” we’re in Nick’s POV and this seems too fussy to me for Nick.

    “Or to the ecosystem in the lake, which is already disturbing” Disturbing or disturbed?

    “the suspect, Iask the questions.”” missing space

    “uncanny valley” I know what this is but I think of it as bad CGI. Is this a term that other people use regularly? Because maybe it’s just me but I think of it as a phrase Mort would use but not a drunk Nita.

    “I’m a mental alcoholic” Did you want to use mental case or alcoholic?

    What is the year round population of the island? Because right now, you’ve got 4 detectives (Nita, Button, Jason & Lily), two of whom are new, all of whom seem to be permanent staff; you seem to have two detectives we haven’t seen yet (Lieutenant says Nita has slept with her last three partners); you’ve got a new lieutenant whom they report to but nothing about a sheriff or a chief of police; you’ve got at least one patrolman and one desk sergeant. If you think about the fact that a vacation/amusement park destination is going to need traffic management, parking enforcement, drug detection, underage drinking, petty larceny, and whatever criminal activities Vinnie is supposed to be a mastermind of more than homicide, how big is this department?

    Also, if the Mayor is as ensconced as he seems to be, what Lieutenant in their right mind would be trying to fire his daughter? Especially a new lieutenant?

    “Mr. Crome froze. “1. No. I haven’t seen him. 2. I didn’t know he was on the island. 3. He’s on the island?””

    This threw me out for a moment. I think because the natural progression to me would be #3 first and then #1 or #2.

    Emerati Gallery. I love the whole sense of Hell here but if people are getting confused would it make sense to call it Emerati Diabolus Gallery?

    I love Max. I love the stupidity of Mammon but I want Max to be one of us, and not one of them.

    All the time references in Hell are in earth time, not Hell time.

    changedthings. missing space.

    Nick turn the combination lock – turned?

    my responsibilityand – missing space

    if you want heralive – missing space

    Nick knows who Richiel is but Rich doesn’t seem to have ever met Nick.

    I was reading for flow and at no point was I bored. I used to read a lot of scifi however and I’m used to time splits being important so that may have nagged at me more than other people.

    But no real info dumps, I loved the banter and the things like Satan sleeping around or the size of the police department are not necessarily things I need to know right now – they’re just things I would like to know before the end of the book.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Just wanted to add as a data point that I use uncanny valley quite a bit for anything that isn’t quite real-seeming (authentic). I love it, but I’m a bit nerdy, and the uncanny valley is a pretty disturbing place to me — especially because at heart, I’m one of those 19th century moralists who don’t think looks should matter, yet THEY DO. THEY DO. (can’t judge a book by the cover, and yet I still do.)

      1. I may not have been clear. I know there’s something with looks where close to human but not quite weirds people out (including me).

        But I think of it as bad animation or bad CGI and I don’t remember what it’s actually called. Which is why I wonder if drunk Nita would be able to pull the term out.

        So if people younger than me use the term “uncanny valley” all the time then ignore me.

        1. No worries. I’m not arguing with your experience of the phrase; I’m just adding a data point, and if someone else says something, it’s triangulated. I’m curious, myself, as to how often it’s used among real people, and how people see it. Your information is very interesting.

          FWIW, I’m 49. It’d be super-interesting if it turns out to be a word used mostly by old farts who find almost-real very disturbing, and younger people don’t use it because it’s normal.

          (For those playing along in email comments, this is in re: “uncanny valley”.)

  30. Not reading anyone else’s comments, only read Chapter One so far, commenting on it.

    And I’m going to be honest. It’s… well. It’s got lots of you in it, so I would keep reading. But if it was by an author I didn’t know, I think I would struggle to make it through the first scene. I feel like the fact that she’s drunk is getting pounded in, but is also implausible. She’s not acting drunk at all, she’s coherent and talking in complete sentences and enunciating and… I just don’t see the drunk. Or why it’s meaningful that she’s supposed to be so drunk. Also, I feel like… hmm, I feel like I’m being talked down to. Like this line:

    “That’s because you’re scary-looking. You got that black helmet hair and your eyes are really dark.” Button hesitated. “And you don’t smile.”

    Who would ever say that? Button’s not drunk, what’s her possible excuse for telling her new partner that she’s scary-looking? Except that the author wants to describe the character and can’t do it from the character’s POV? So why do I need to know that Nita has black helmet hair?

    Or Button’s “Where are we?” and Nita’s complete, thorough, well-enunciated explanation. It’s not a deal breaker, but as a reader, I would rather be trusted to pick up some stuff along the way than need to be told everything. Especially being told everything in dialogue that feels like the kind of conversation real people don’t have.

    And I don’t get the whole drunk-dialing and apology thing. If Nita’s brother called her, how did she wind up calling Button? Why didn’t she just tell Mort that she was too drunk to come? Why didn’t she call a cab? Whatever the purpose of the drunken apology behavior is, I’m not getting it.

    But then you get into Scene 2, and I’m a little more sold. The smiting of the teddy bear is great. I don’t know what the Hotels add to the scene and it starts to feel like character overload — you’re asking the reader to keep track of a dozen named people in the first couple thousand words which seems like rather a lot to me. Oh, wait, 13, because there’s some guy named Frank, too, who refers to Button as Chloe. So 13 named characters, some of them being referred to with alternate names, i.e. Witherspoon vs Jason. Oh, and I forgot Mr. Lemon. And Satan. And Mom. And the Niflheim guy. 17 named characters? Yeah, I’m going to say that’s a lot of characters and I’m not sure the benefits of the Hotels outweigh the drawbacks.

    And Vinnie’s interrogation and resistance to providing answers feels again like more of an excuse for you to tell me the things you think I need to know than honest character development. I wouldn’t say I got impatient, but I didn’t buy in to the story.

    But Nick is great. A lot of the descriptions are terrific. The teddy bear was definitely the “yep, keep reading” moment for me. And then Nita comes into the bar and after that you totally have me. Nick and Nita together are captivating.

    So — in my opinion only and feel totally free to ignore me — I do think that tightening your first chapter would be a good idea.

    And Button… well, I’m not sure how you want her to come across. From the blog posts I’ve read, I thought she was supposed to be a good character. But the flat voice, the open manipulation, the poking her partner in the back repetitively, the rudeness of telling Nita that she’s scary-looking — I’d peg her as a psychopath from the first chapter. One of those charming manipulators with no social inhibitions. Usually a male character so interesting as a female character, but if I’m supposed to like her, I’m on the wrong track.

    I hope this was useful. I keep wavering about posting. It feels too critical. But… well, if you were an unfamiliar author to me and I was going by the Look Inside, you would not have kept me. And since I said I would be honest, I’m being honest. But if all the other comments loved it, then really, feel free to ignore me. I would much rather have a new book by you where I skim the first chapter then have you spend another four months trying to make the first chapter perfect.

  31. I have read it a lot so my comments may be useless. I do find the first bar scene a little slow. I think it’s the Hotels. We don’t think they are doing anything important but also it breaks up the flow of give and take between Nita and Nick. The second car scene (after the bar) is also a little slow and very explain-y. But maybe that’s because I already know the explanations.
    A few small things.
    I too find it weird that Nita just makes her toddy in the bar without asking
    To me Fake Naked New Guy means the naked is fake. Naked Fake New Guy would mean the man is fake.
    I think the first reference to Binky is jarring because it’s internal dialogue and Nita remembers Binky is missing but we didn’t know Binky was missing.
    If you are cutting dizziness do you also want to cut it in the car scene after the bar?

    All in all of course it’s wonderful and I can’t wait to read the whole thing

  32. I read some early, early drafts. Keep in mind that I’m a really impatient reader.

    What’s working: The Nita/Nick relationship progression – believable and enjoyable. Nita’s coming to terms with the reality of demons. Nick starting to feel alive again. Button being a straight shooter, as well as a shooter–and also people’s reactions to her being a Button. Mort being comfortable with the idea of demons. Rab’s enthusiasm. Nita’s reaction to scupper. Max. General world building.

    What needs work:
    The first chapter especially feels like it has lots of repetition and pausing for explanations. Even Nita’s first internal feels too long (although I laughed out loud at “Don’t sing.”). Places that made me want to skim: the “chop shop Elvis” joke, the paragraph where Nita leans back and tries to get a grip, the first interaction with the Hotels (I did recognize “Statler” and think of the Muppets, but all their dialog felt extra), Nick’s explanation to Vinnie of what’s going on.

    While Rab’s explanation of his scupper plan felt long, I loved Nita’s reaction to the scupper, and her seeing Nick as a skeleton. Things definitely pick up with the attempted shooting of Nita. The pace slows with the breakfast.

    And all the characters – when Nick got to the historical society ladies, I admit I groaned. Then the scene in Hell – at this point, I’m trusting you to make things clear as they need to be made clear, because I can’t keep track of all these people and demons and devils, oh my. Okay, I’m not only impatient, I’m lazy.

    Things to keep:
    The threading of the Demon Firsters line is expert: just enough info to show what’s driving all this. And there were MANY lines that made me laugh out loud. Paraphrasing:
    – “The two bodies were a dead giveaway”
    – “Don’t say ‘fuck’ in front of Button – she’s just a child”
    – “This car is only for people interested in solving the crime”
    – Precision smite
    – Six-day time zones
    – “Very professional for as long as I’ve known her”
    – Surprise. That was it.
    – “As opposed to a Zipper?”
    – Knows food intimately

    Also, that horrible journey with the head trying to reconnect with its body – incredibly visual and tense.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing and letting us be part of this journey. I’m excited to see The End!

  33. I loved all of this, and was very sad when I ran out of new chapter buttons to click.

    Only two things tripped me up:

    The main part I had trouble with was when Lucifer, Satan, Beezlebub, etc. showed up. I had a hard time figuring out who was who and whether or not they were different characters or characters with more than one name/title. To me, Lucifer = Satan = the Devil, but I kept getting thrown off, and I think they are meant to be two (or three?) different people? Or maybe not? So, um, yes, that hurt my head a bit, and left me quite confused.

    One other tiny thing, didn’t bother me much, but I was momentarily confused: I love the Hotels, their names, their commentary. But, to me Statler & Waldorf are Muppets first and hotels a distant second, so, when Nick is looking around the bar and I came across the line, “And then there were the Hotels. The only thing the bar had going for it was that it was dark.” My first thought was: like roach motels? Are there hotels down the street? It’s not until a few lines later, when Jeosung says, ““Hotels!” he said, smiling at them. “Looking good, Astoria.”” That I got that the three were named after hotels. The Waldorf Astoria I know as a hotel, Statler I only recognize as a Muppet, but once I knew that Astoria was the name of the woman, I went, “Ooooooh! Hotels. Got it.”

    But, other than those two slightly confusing bits, and the fact that I now want Nita’s breakfast in front of me, it’s fantastic. When does Act Two go up? 😉

  34. I’ve read each version of the drafts. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing the world and story you are building develope, change, refine.

    A couple of questions….

    Should it say “Nita sang” instead of “Nita said” after she quotes “There’s a guy works in the chip shop thinks he’s Elvis? ” Because then Mort says she sings when she’s nervous?

    The next statement is due to my OCD and too many Art History courses.

    The photo of the four demons in front of the municipal building is said to have been taken in 1817. Although a form of image capturing was discovered in 1816, a non-fugitive print including live people in portraiture was not available until 1839. Previous to Talbot and Deguerre’s photographic techniques, image exposure took hours rather than minutes. Sepia toning comes from using the ink of cuttlefish in the development of prints, causing the brown tones and usually not the ageing of prints. This was more often used in group portraiture, and didn’t arrive to the US until shortly before the Civil War.

    But that screws up the 200 years old photo comments, so you will probably want to ignore that.

    One other OCD question…

    Nicks mom was a Giordano, and a painter. Is there any relations to the painting Giordano’s of “Faking It”, who then changed their name to Goodnight? Just wondering.

    I discovered your books a few years ago when I was dealing with lots of family problems. Your gutsy gals have helped me over and over. Especially Agnes. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome and welcome to Argh, too.

      Damn it, I did look up the history of photography, but I did not go into depth. I need to look at my dates anyway. I don’t think the 1817 one is right. (I’ve been guessing as I typed them in. Because I am a Professional.)

      Yes. Tilda is descended from Nick’s little brother. Good catch.


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