First, thank you all VERY much for the feedback.  It’s enormously helpful, and I have made the changes noted.   Never apologize for nit-picking, that’s practically the definition of copy editing.

Beelzebub and the Dinosaurs:
The dinosaurs died 66 million years ago, so that joke goes.  It’s what Lani calls a vestigial tail; when you’re writing a first draft, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks draft, stuff like this gets in as a throwaway.  Then you look at the facts and throw it away.

But I need to get a throwaway in there that establishes Beelzebub as a screw-up.   I have now learned that the Holocene Era started about eleven thousand years ago when the glaciers began to pull back and forests sprang up (we’re still in the Holocene Era).  Eleven thousand years is still too many, I need something that happened around five or six thousand years ago.  (Do not google for “six thousand years ago” because you get those cousins of the Flat Earthers, the New Earthers who have decided that the Earth was created six thousand years ago because . . . I have no idea why.  I didn’t actually read the stuff I found on that, just marveled at the blindness of the anti-science people.)  So mammoths (too close to “Mammon”), mastodons, and giant sloths disappeared during the early Holocene.  

The giant sloths piqued my interest and there’s evidence they were around five thousand years ago.  Also “giant sloth” is funny.  I’m not sure I can get it to work, though.  Six thousand years ago, the chicken was domesticated, the Sahara Desert formed thanks to an “aridification event,” and the Minoan Culture began on Crete (Beelzebub created the Minotaur?),   None of these has the impact of dinosaurs as a disaster.  I did look at flood myths, and they’re at about the right time, but the historical backstory is too obscure (Lake Agassiz, anybody?)..  SO I’m still looking for a disaster.  (Funny, usually those find me on their own.)

The Buttons
Don’s note about the centuries made me go back to my notes about the Button family.  Like this:

“Josiah began his persecution of demons in 1684 after reading Cotton Mather’s 1684 essay Illustrious Providences. (“Mather, being an ecclesiastical man, believed in the spiritual side of the world and attempted to prove its existence with stories of sea rescues, strange apparitions, and witchcraft. Mather aimed to combat materialism in New England.”)  Josiah executed fourteen “demons” between 1684 and 1686 before he shot the son of the local magistrate and was arrested for murder even though the body of the magistrate’s son couldn’t be found after being laid out in the ice house, and Josiah pointed out that demons always returned to Hell after being killed, so he really wasn’t a murderer at all.    They had to let him go, but then they found the body in the woods (Josiah hid it when it didn’t disappear) and he hanged for that.”

I wanted this grim, secretive Puritan family that not only persecuted demons, they were fairly lousy to the women in their family.  So I did a list of the female Buttons:

Button wives and daughters  were named 
Be Fruitful (1670-1694 (23 at birth of son, 24 at birth of daughter and death)
Fear (1694-1720) (26 at birth of son, 26 at death)
Silence (1720-1756) (26, 36 at death)
Comfort (1746-1816) (28, 70 at death)
Hopestill (1774-1845) (26, 71 at death)
Prudence (1800 1883) (83 at death)
Patience (1826 – 1900)
Charity (1850- 1925)
Martha (1875 – 1950)
Florence (1902- 1980)
Shirley (1930-2011)
Kimberly (1962)
Chloe Button (1988) 

The idea was that the Puritan grip on the Button family would have begun to loosen over the centuries so that Button could be unaware of her legacy in the 21st.  But I also sort of (I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Buttons) wanted Button’s grandfather to be a semi-survivalist, preparing for when the demons invaded, talking about how humans weren’t having enough babies and insisting that his grandchildren be given Good Christian Names.  So I’m thinking about renaming Chloe as Patience.   Patience Button is just a good name, plus it would be a good reason for her to ask to be called Button.  Maybe her name is Patience Comfort, so she’s really stuck with Button.  Also, Max can get a lot of mileage out a trigger-happy Patience.  Then her brother would be Josiah.  (I don’t think her brother shows up in this story, but he has to exist.)  

I think Patience is just a better name than Chloe for this character.

And then there’s Act Two, which has two sex scenes (bleah) that are important to the story so they have to go in.  Maybe I’ll go out for lunch and diagram them (quietly) while I eat.  There’s a thought.  And then I have to cut five thousand words from the first act some of you just read before I cut five thousand words from the second act.  Because I am wordy.

I can do this.  Nothing but good times ahead.



94 thoughts on “Nit-Unpicking

  1. A man trapped in an Alpine glacier (“Ötzi the Iceman”) is frozen until his discovery in 1991.[3]

    from wikipedia on the 4th millenium bc subject.

    and is the list of volcanic eruptions. Tehre were a fair amount of them between 6000-4000 years ago. I am not sure of magnitude for any of them.

    meteor strike but might be too early.

    3000 BC
    2800 BC The Burckle Crater, an undersea crater, formed during this period by a very large scale comet or meteorite impact event. It is located to the east of Madagascar and west of Western Australia in the southern Indian ocean and is estimated to be about 30 km (18 mi) in diameter. In 2006 the Holocene Impact Working Group believed that it was created when a comet impacted in the ocean, and that enormous megatsunamis created the dune formations which later allowed the crater to be pin-pointed. As not only the Bible, but other ancient writings from various cultures make reference to a ‘great flood’, it is hypothesized that these legends are associated with this event.

  2. Har. Diagram them *quietly*.

    Also, I like that you left the word “disaster” out with “SO I’m still looking for a …” Even if in error, it suits the need.

    The Sahara drying could be useful, like this:
    “Remember what he did to the Sahara Rainforest.”
    “You mean Sahara Desert.”
    “*Now* it is.”

    1. I just caught that. ARGH. Trying to do too many times.
      But I did make it to the restaurant. Applebee’s which is as close as this town gets to fine dining.

    2. The Sahara wasn’t a rainforest, but it was a fertile subtropical landscape, I think, with (for the time) plenty of people living there. I would think its change into a huge desert is dramatic enough to work.

      I suppose the problem is that far fewer people are aware it didn’t used to be a desert than are that the dinosaurs were made extinct,

  3. I find it comforting that you put so much time and thought into your stories. Makes me feel way better about my own writing because I sometimes feel I’m over-thinking things and layers nobody else will even notice.

    At the moment, I’m not only “over-thinking” a book I’m also spending way too much time debating whether or not I should switch my blog to WordPress. Since you’ve been making your blog home there for quite some time, any wise advice on that topic would be appreciated.

    An good luck diagraming your required scenes:)

    1. I was put off using WordPress when Jenny got hacked a few years ago, and I learned that WordPress sites can be vulnerable. I wanted to build a whole website, though, rather than just hosting a blog. (I used Squarespace, but there’s a monthly charge.)

      1. That was the server we were on, not WordPress I think. WordPress does have a server (I think) but you can use their program on other more secure servers. Mollie actually does all of this. Do you want me to ask her?

        1. Thanks, Jenny. If your site issues are separate probably no need to ask Mollie. But the hacking issue in one to think about. Seems Diane posted some tips below on avoiding that but may be more complicated than I want to go. I need something easy:)

      2. There is no hack-proof system. I’ve never used the WordPress service, Judy the self-hosted WordPress on an independent host. But you can make your WordPress more secure. Don’t use the default user name of admin. Change it to something unusual. Have a strong password. Install a security plugin. Use as few plugins as possible. Keep everything updated. You can pick a hosting service that specializes in WordPress and has good security. And make sure that backups happen every day. Because nothing is hack-proof. Looking at you, Equifax.

      3. I’m on Squarespace now, Jane. It’s been pretty easy to use overall so I’m on the fence. Thinking WordPress seems more universal and maybe more accessible for my readers, though. I get notes from some readers who say they don’t do things like FB and they rely on my website to keep up & in touch. Not sure Squarespace is making that as easy for them re feeds & such.

        1. I’d definitely stick to Squarespace, but I know what you mean about making it easy for people to subscribe. I’ve been meaning to check whether there are more options I can add – I built my site in 2014. I’ve got at least one contact who can’t follow my blog unless he can subscribe via email.

          When I was researching my options in 2013, WordPress turned out to be a kind of umbrella term: there were many different templates/providers you could use. I bet Squarespace will have solutions for us, you know – I just need to find time for more research or to just ask them.

          1. PS. I subscribe to my own blog the same way I subscribe to this one – using Newsify. That’s one of the (rare) feeds that doesn’t require you to have a Google or Facebook account, neither of which I have.

          2. Yeah, the other debate I have with Squarespace vs WordPress is discoverability. Squarespace works great for folks already coming to my site, but I find the tagging/category options for blog posts just organizes searches of my own content. Whereas my understanding is that WordPress offers opportunity to reach people outside your immediate circle as well through groups and tags and such. I had that benefit before when I was on Tumblr (which I swapped out for other reasons) and got connected to some interesting people that way who I wouldn’t have otherwise reached. Of course, as you say, Jane, this may just be b/c I don’t know how to make all the features on Squarespace work and I, too, need to do more research:)

          3. My original plan, which got hijacked by a huge creative crisis, was to market my website and self-published book by going for local and gardening press coverage and also venturing on to social media such as Twitter and Facebook. But I was clear I only wanted to use SM to pull people to the Squarespace site, for example posting a link on Facebook whenever I published a blog post or a new gallery of photographs.

            Instead, my poor website is just sitting there, with virtually no traffic. Still, at least when I have a new idea – as I did the other day – I can go ahead and do it because the site’s already there, ready for new stuff to be published on it.

          4. Websites are REALLY hard to drive traffic to. Much faster and easier for photos: Instagram. People will follow you on Instagram, and you can use the Instagram posts to put links to the website where you talk in greater detail about the photos.
            But then the website has to have content that people can use, maybe weekly posts on photographing some aspect of nature, or talking about camera lenses, or some combination of gardening and photography that nobody else is doing. The easiest way to do that is a kind of blog-website, I think, like Argh. Mollie made me start Argh so she could put the blog posts on the front page of the website so that the content changed once a week. Now Argh basically powers the website.

          5. This is interesting, Jenny. I may end up rejigging my Squarespace site so it’s blog-led – if I can find a focus for it I’m happy with. I’ve just decided to focus on gardening inspirations; will see how that works.

          6. Mollie rigged it so I never had to go to the website; the blog posts automatically went there. It used to be that the first paragraph appeared on the landing page of the website, but after we got hacked and Mollie had to move us, now there are just links.

    2. I think people don’t notice on the first read because they’re reading for story, which is logical. But if you want to write the kind of books that people re-read (and I do), those layers become important because subsequents\ readings dig deep. If there’s no there, readers get bored. They already know how it ends, they want the journey this time.

      1. You do write those types of books. I don’t even know how many times I’ve re-read your books. I feel like the characters are friends and when I haven’t read them in awhile, it’s like I’m missing those people and their humor and grit and want to spend time with them.

        I know what you’re going through now is a pain in the butt, but I’m so grateful for your commitment to it and am SO looking forward to reading it when you’re done.

      2. Such a good point about rereads. For me, spending time on layers when I write is part of the joy of the process because it’s like weaving a tapestry of a story and not just telling one. Probably that’s just me though making that kind of distinction as I write. But then I get writer’s guilt about taking longer to complete my books. I see other writers getting out multiple books a year (and even some who seem to be getting a book out per month), and I feel guilty that my readers have to wait a year for each of my books. Ultimately, I feel good about the stories I put out, though, so there’s that. It’s just that time in the “between books” stage that’s tough. Which is why it’s so nice to be reminded that writers like you take such care & time to craft their stories:)

        1. I know writers who are very good with their craft who can put out a couple of books a year, their process is just different.
          I don’t know anybody who can do a book a month with any craft at all.

          1. Partly, too, I think some of the faster writers work from more detailed outlines than I do before they write their actual stories. I tried that route, but it didn’t work for me because as I write I get a lot of inspiration from the ether that doesn’t conform to any outline. Also because if I know too much about a story going in, I feel it’s already been told and feel inclined to move on to something new. But as you often say there are many roads to Oz.

  4. I think I would be sad if you changed Chloe to Patience. I like the hard consonant sound. It suits her personality even though she is described as cute and fluffy. And since she’s a cop I think being called by her last name is expected, so she doesn’t need a reason to use it.

    1. There’s another reason: I started this as a rant against Lucifer, the TV show, and I think the female lead there is called Chloe. The only thing that’s still the same between the two stories is the drive-by in the beginning, and I’d like to keep it that way.

      But you’re right, Patience isn’t quite right, either.

        1. Comfort is brilliant, because it’s so so awful. Imagine the things you’d do to outrun a name like that. Way more awful than the similar Constance or Patience or Verity. I know and like people with these other names. Still, can’t please everyone all the time, and I do want to like Button.

      1. Try Solace Button. But is it Buttons plural or just Button?
        Temperance Button Temperance makes me of the tv show Bones.
        Constance Button
        Prudence Button
        Amity Button
        Felicity Button
        Verity Button
        Chloe is a name from the new testament. According to (excellent resource; type any name or word from the bible and it gives you all the various uses of the name/word in the bible.) Chloe is from 1st Corinthians 1:11. You can look it up if you want and that would make Chloe a good Christian name.
        Other mainstream names from the bible include Priscilla, Lydia, Julia, Phoebe, Claudia, Abigail, Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Ruth etc.
        To make the list above, I consulted with and I looked up biblical female names. Then you can use bible gateway to see where they are used in the bible.
        I’m still reading draft 1 and may have more feedback.

          1. Oh, lordy. Sounds like a sex robot. “Constant Comfort Button”.

            I have to say, I’m very struck by Verity Button. It’s setting off some Pratchett-type bells, though.

  5. Chloe is a name found in the Bible though she’s only mentioned once (1 Corinthians 1:11).

  6. I vote for Tirza Button.
    Tirza was one of the five daughters of Zelophad and one of her sisters was called Milka.
    Coming to think of it, Milka Button isn’t so bad either.

  7. Not liking Patience, she’s cute as a Button I think she should have a name or nickname that disarms people, so the cops she works with underestimate her. Kind of the hidden steel under all the perkyness.

  8. One of the things that you mentioned in your Questionable is identifying ‘what must be kept’. There’s no ‘must’ here, just a personal preference – but if you’re cutting some (even though I’d read every word twice as is), perhaps try and hold on to Jeo explaining why he wants to stay on Earth, and most of Vinnie, and as much Mort-with-Nita and Mayor-with-Nita and Nita’s give-me-a-minutes as you can? I can’t believe I have the audacity to type this next bit, because I love this book already – when I got to the end of the first screen-page, I was OVERJOYED to see the link to let me keep reading. But, my romance heart likes the bits above because they add warmth in Act One, where the two main characters are focused, and determined, and passionate (Nita especially), and we can see that Nita cares a lot about everything – her island and all the residents (‘her’ people, e.g. taking the rap for Button), but not super expressive (maybe she was more so in earlier drafts?). In Nick’s case that’s great, he’s wonderful and competent and his lack of emotion is funny because we can see it changing already. And I love Nita, her need to look after her island and everyone in it, her fierceness, that her smiles are terrifying (ha ha ha still love that) and she needs to be as she is because she’s Satan’s daughter, so the scenes with N and A and other characters show that warmth through interaction, not just the action. I’m babbling, because I’m nervous about typing this. I’m probably wrong anyway. I might be reacting to the fact that it has rained for a week here and I’m grumpy – meaning co-created etc. So this is one small voice, probably not valid. But I’ve typed this all out now, so I might as well hit post. Shout me down everyone else!

    PS have just re-read Faking It. Giordano!!

    1. This is all absolutely helpful. You have no idea how useful it is to know what people react to viscerally.
      And yep, Giordano is an Easter Egg for Faking it. Nick had a younger brother . . .

  9. Chloe’s name is one of the things I would ask you to keep. I love the contrast between her perky behavior and her competent (and somewhat lethal) personality. I could NOT see a Patience as perky. I’m a little weird, maybe, in that a different name makes me see a character as a whole different person and I adore Chloe just as she is.

    Also, have you considered the jokes a name like that would generate? “Where’s your patience button?” “Look! Here’s our comfort button. Let’s push it.” Growing up with a name like that wouldn’t leave her perky and dangerous, I think it would leave her grimly homicidal.

    1. I also thought about the nicknames that would come with Patience Button. Pat Button seems reasonable; Pat the Button sounds really annoying. P-button, Panic Button . . . evil kids could have been quite evil with a name like Patience.

      1. Patty would probably come into play at some point, probably by other kids on the playground.

  10. About creation 6000 years ago: that was worked out a long time ago based on time references in the bible. All those ‘begat’ lists give a certain time frame, I suppose.
    I just looked it up on wikipedia: a 17th-century Irish, Anglican archbishop called James Ussher worked out that the earth was created on Saturday evening 22 October 4004 BC.
    There are others who come to different conclusions of course, but 6000 years ago is roughly it.

  11. About disasters, I reckon blaming the biblical flood on Beelzebub would be hilarious. Don’t know if the timing lines up though. The people who reckon Adam and Eve were 6000 years ago reckon the Flood was only 3000.

    Could you use Adam and Eve? That’d be hilarious too. Or would it suggest the Christian myth was true a bit too much for this story?

      1. How about Atlantis as your disaster? Everybody sort of knows the myth, but it’s fuzzy enough that you can make it fit. Jo Walton wrote The Just City and its sequels [excellent books!] as an experimental town on the shores of the Thera volcano in the Aegean sea, because the founders know the volcano will explode and destroy all the evidence. [The Atlantis myth may or may not be based on Thera’s explosion]. Thera was destroyed about 3500 years ago, but if you squint hard it might work.

        1. That might work. The theoretical sources for that are all within Satan’s term of duty, but there’s nothing in that line that says it happened while Beelzebub was Devil. Hmmmmm. Good idea. It’ll be that or the Giant Sloth.

          1. The Giant Sloth is funnier, partly because it’s all left up to the imagination. OTOH, I can see Beelzebub standing at the top of the volcano with a barrel of scupper: “Hey, fellas, watch this!”

        2. I like the idea of using Atlantis. It’s probably as familiar as the dinosaurs and since it’s myth, the timing is squishy enough that you can blame it on Beelzebub. Any kind of volcanic eruption would probably do the job; even if a reader doesn’t recognize a specific incident, we can all picture it in general.

          This article mentions Thera and the creation of Crater Lake, which it says was about 7000 years ago, so that one’s a little too far back. Still, the stories involve flaming rocks falling from the sky, which sounds like the kind of thing an incompetent and maybe-drunk-on-scupper Devil would cause:

      2. Lilith is from the Jewish tradition as sort of a bonus to the Creation story in the bible. Since she’s not in the bible, she didn’t really transfer into Christianity, so no worries there. (Plus a lot of Christians take Adam and Eve more as metaphoric anyway.)

  12. About a zillion years ago I majored in Pre-Columbian architecture, which translates to a degree in Physical Anthropology also known as the BA that makes you almost unemployable. About 5,000 years ago most of the immigration of tribes to the Americas happened. There were apparently a few who came earlier (archaeologist were just playing with this idea when I studied but I believe it became the accepted cannon).

    I remember this imperfectly so I could have it screwed up but there was a glacial advance about this time. (This was not the big glacial period which ended earlier but a glacial advance.) While most of the continent was covered with more ice, the ocean level dropped and some of the land level rose because there was not at much water weight on it, which made it possible for hunter/gatherers who were having a sparse time of it back in Asia were to use the land bridge, where the Aleutians are, which was bits of higher land and marshes to cross to North America.

    This is probably why a lot of things happened about 5 thousand years ago. Glaciation affected areas that were not covered by ice just because of all that water being tied up in glaciers. Populations under stress develop civilization and become more interested in agriculture because hunting and gathering is not reliable. Tribes move around and get wiped out or wipe out other tribes. Plants are stressed because temperatures are wrong for them. Other plants get more moisture and swamps develop or new plants displace existing ones. Glaciation is a big deal for everything.

    But I don’t know how many people think “Five thousand years ago? Glacial advance of course”.

  13. “Never apologize for nit-picking, that’s practically the definition of copy editing.” I hope you’re serious about this, because I just finished reading everything and I have a few more things. Please don’t ban me from the site! 🙂

    Part Two
    He drank some more orange juice and concentrated on filing (filling) in the wound.

    Part Three
    1. Nita ran into the Municipal Building and waving her thanks for the heads-up to Sue at the station desk as she started up the stairs. (wrong tense of “wave?”)

    2. At one-thirty AM, Detective Dodd, Dr. Dodd, and I proceeded into Hell Bar,
    (everywhere else in Button’s report Doctor is spelled out)

    Part Four

    1. Mammon scowled up at Nick front and center from the marble floor below, with the affable, treacherous Maxiel on one side and the moronic but still venal Ashtaroth on the other. Your ass is mine. (I wasn’t sure who thought “your ass is mine” as the sentence before could be from Mammon’s POV)

    2. He tried to sound menacing but just sounded weasely (“weaselly” according to Miriam Webster online).

    3. “I think you’re not enough afraid of them,” Nick said. (I had to read this sentence a couple of times to understand it)

    4. Inside one of Motel Styx’s grubbier rooms, Mort said there, and Nita an arcane looking box on the table, weighted down with his medical bag. (This sentence must be missing words – or has too many?)

    5. “I can’t get it open,” Mort said, “and there’s something inside that moves. When I got my stethoscope, it sounded like something moaning in there. I figured the Devil could probably open it.”

    (and then a couple sentence later…)

    “Maybe the floor’s not level.” Nita went over and picked it up. “What’s inside?”

    “I can’t get it open.” (Did Nita not hear that Mort had already said he can’t get it open so he doesn’t know what’s inside?)

    6. She went out to find Mort sitting in her ancient black Prius. (I looked it up, and the Prius was first sold in the US in 2000, so longer than I thought, but ‘ancient’ threw me off when I first read it.)

    7. “Mort?” Nita stepped forward, but a stranger cleared the rise, dressed in a ranger’s uniform. “Rich! There’s a goat–” (Rich is not a stranger if she knows his name)

    8. “Not going to hurt you,” he said again, but he was really big, and he looked king (kind) of like that woodcut Button had showed her,

      1. Tiny niggles, but I find egregious: “Dom, the editor, is very smart, *goof* guy to have on your side.”

        Lots more to read. For the record: I like “Chloe.” Works by comic contrast.

  14. I just always have to shriek quietly when you say “cut words” because I like these words. I know I am wrong.
    I still need to mention shrieking.

      1. I love that I get to read all the words you take out of the final version. Your early drafts have so much great banter in them. It definitely has to go but I love reading it.

  15. I’ll be sad to see Button’s first name change. I agree like the perky sounding name and it’s contrast with her tendency to shoot at people. The name also adds to the way people see her before they know her (thinking she’s just so cute). Admittedly, someone so trigger happy being named Patience would be fun as well. (Like the character in Support Your Local Gunfighter.) But all of the Puritan virtue names seem grim somehow, and it’s a big switch from Chloe. Maybe it’s just me; the virtue names and anything else to do with Puritans just reminds me of witch trials, and that’s depressing.

    Now I want to Google for 5000 year old disasters.

  16. Throwing one into the name debate.

    I had a student named Kezia.

    According to Wikipedia she was the second of three daughters born to Job after his sufferings. The name has been taken to symbolize female equality because each of Job’s daughters received an inheritance from him.

    And I love a “z” in a name.

    1. I want Button to sound white bread-ish (hence the Patience, which I have discarded because of the chorus of boos here). I may be stuck with Chloe.

      1. Patience is a little on-the-nose given her ancestry, but it could work if you wanted readers to make the connection earlier on.
        a few new ideas:
        Hope (I like Hope Button. Also Hope was the one good thing in Pandora’s box of demons.)
        Joy —- Actually Joy Button is a terrible name and maybe that would make her chose Button.

  17. Still working my way through the manuscript. I’m a slow reader.
    In Act One, Niflheim? is mispelled when Nick is talking Belia.
    On the plus side, I actually was okay with Nita taking the Scupper, because it seemed in character, she was already drunk and she was called in from off-duty. I had some trouble getting into, but that’s okay.

    So now I’m reading Act Two. Chloe’s past is a doozy. I mean it’s good they’re alive, but it will shooting 3 men in 2 years? I think it would help if it mentioned that the men were either armed or dangerous or violent in some way. Guilty is okay, but if people suspect she’s shooting unarmed people for a little weed or petty theft, etc., really throw some readers off the character.

    1. Will motivate the Chloe shooting better. And check spelling on Niflheim.
      What parts made it slow? What should I cut?
      This is all Act One. It’s just in four parts because WordPress can’t handle 40,000 words in one post.

  18. I just wanted to say that each time you rewrite this it gets so much more interesting and complex. It’s still interesting to me and I’ve read every version so far. I don’t have any constructive criticism though, sorry.

  19. I think that this draft has the same problem that made me, a fantasy reader, stop reading Wild Ride, so that to this day it is the only one of your books I have not finished. The previous version of Act 1 did not have this problem. The problem I see is this — when a character refuses to believe in something that is clearly and obviously real, and which the reader knows is real, when they won’t even consider the possibility when there is tons and tons of evidence that would convince anyone, they read as unsympathetically stupid.

    1. That is a problem.
      The thing is, it would take a LOT to convince me that demons and the Devil were real. As long as there was a rational reason, I would not believe. And right up to the screaming head, I don’t think there’s anything that wouldn’t have a rational explanation. Even the scupper could be just really good booze, and she already hallucinates and knows it. So I think the head is where she has to give up.

      What do you think?

      1. I think her belief process has to have an arc. And right now it goes from none to freaking out to complete. Three separate points and the first two aren’t connected. You need more of a curve. We need more doubt and more trying to deny it earlier and probably stages of freaking.

      2. Jo says, “The previous version of Act 1 did not have this problem.” I’m thinking the previous version did not have the stabbing. Nita sees Nick slumped over with a knife sticking out of his chest. A minute later she sees him with a slit in his shirt and no blood. This is the moment when she needs to freak out. You can maybe excuse her ignoring the bullet holes in his shirt the night before, because she was drunk. There is no excuse for this one. The “vest” suggestion is laughable: anything under the t-shirt would be obvious. Nita should be a better observer than this.

        I am a lousy observer, yet I’m still embarrassed that I didn’t wonder about Nita’s mild reaction to the stabbing.

        Something you said made me think the stabbing solves some problem later in the book, but it creates a big problem early on.

        1. That’s an excellent point. Must cogitate.
          Jo’s point is excellent, too. I have to arc that disbelief.
          And actually, that all feeds into something I haven’t really layered in there yet: how much Nita hates being different. I know that’s a big deal, but I didn’t want her to say, “I hate being different.” There’s one beat in there when Nita talks to Mort in the car that addresses it. But it needs to be in there before that.
          But if she hates being different, and she has a terrible fear that the difference is supernatural, then that’s a reason for her to reject the supernatural out of hand.

  20. Also I like Chloe, partly because it’s a sophisticated name which gives depth in contrast to Button. And this character has depths.

    Wild idea: If you really want to go the Puritan way, maybe one of those sentence names like “act righteously” Button or “enforce the law” Button that no one would ever use. But would be handed down as a family tradition. Those aren’t right but you get the idea. Could refer to the demon killer history indirectly

  21. I enjoyed, laughed, and was pulled into the Nita’s draft, but the next day, I realized something was missing. I don’t know what to call it, but it was similar to my feeling after I read “The Power,” by Naomi Alderman.

    I liked some things about “The Power,” but the book itself left me cold (aside from its specific brutality and revenge tortures), which puzzled me until by chance a couple days later I read Becky Aikman’s excellent “Off the Cliff,” about screenwriter Callie Khouris and the making of “Thelma and Louise.”

    Partway through the latter I realized that the former, “The Power,” had no passion, friendship, connections, tenderness, love, community, etc., all fully present in Thelma and Louise (and Off the Cliff).

    I then re-read Welcome to Temptation, Bet Me, Agnes, and (am now re-reading) Faking It and those things were (are) there, which is one reason we love to re-read (re-visit) them.

    I know the cold-hot push-pull of Nita and Nick may make “a warm novel” difficult, but even the Nita and Mort relationship isn’t, well, tender, warm, or … hmm, I’m describing this badly. I know we’re reading early chapters, so the coldness is intentional and changes later? And it’s nowhere near as cold as “The Power,” yikes. (It’s a brutal book.)

    Anyway, thank you for the chance to read the drafts and talk about them. It’s a good exercise for readers, not just for writers.

    1. Let me cogitate.
      I think part of the problem might be that this is Act One and it’s too long. That is Act One takes place over less than 24 hours but it takes up 40,000 words. So while Nita and Nick do not heat up–too soon–there’s no reason for anybody else to be warm, either. She and Button don’t know each other. Mort seems brotherly to me, and he has no reason to hotly defend her. Rab and Jeo are still employees at this point. I think there are connections in the first act, but they’re static because there’s nothing behind them to move them out of static. Mort comes running both times somebody shoots around Nita, but once he see’s she’s okay, he stands down because that’s his character.
      So as I said, I must cogitate. I might be that this is just going to be a cooler book.

      1. Ya know, cool is cool. No reason This Book should sustain the temp of others of your oeuvre. The world and we in it evolve.

  22. Okay so more notes….because I just fnished ACT 1!!! Yay! (Sorry this is late I’ve been busy.)

    1) The Sadie stuff. Most of the other buildings in town are just identified by their function and name, but Demonista is almost always called Sadie’s Demonista. In Part 3, there’s a paragraph that may clue the reader into guessing Sadie’s identity assuming she’s Sadiel. It starts with Nita looking for Sadiel at the Inn Fernal. “After getting …”

    2)I’m curious to see how Lemmon/Mammon reveal plays out.

    3) Biggest problem in Act 4 is the time in Hell.

    So we have 1 hour on Earth = 10 hours in hell
    an Earth day is 24 hours here and 2.4 hours in hell.
    In Act 3, Nick is talking to the Mayor he does calculations and says 5 days. 5 days would be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
    5 earth days is 12 hours in hell (2.4 x5)
    Since midnight Saturday is midnight in hell, the entire hell time from 12 am on Tuesday Earth time to midnight Saturday (or is that Sunday? actually wouldn’t that be Sunday since midnight Saturday would be between Friday and Saturday, I think.) Earth time is twelve hours starting at noon on Diyuday and ending at Midnight .
    Since Nita missed lunch, it’s probably between 1 and 2 pm hell time.

    4) Not really a problem, but I was more interested in finding out who the Dodds are as a family. Since Nita is not really a Dodd, that sums it up and seems to end the mystery. Nita’s true parentage I didn’t see coming, but it was kind of a let down. I feel like this is just me being difficult.

    In general this book is really interesting. I don’t read as much paranormal, so I’m in a little over my head. It’s a lot to take in at first, but after a while I got a feel for it and I think other readers won’t have that problem as much as I do. The world-building is really strong and I like Nita and Nick and Jeo and Rab….


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