Jaime Lee Moyer: Midnight Secrets and Lies
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It’s always showtime, here at the edge of the stage

For the last week or so I’ve been stuck on listening to Talking Heads during my commute, mostly the Stop Making Sense album. I barrel down the freeway, singing along, while my brain works out plot and shiny bits for the new book.

The plot, and the shiny bits, and the sadness in this book don’t match the bouncy music putting it all in my head. Welcome to my brain.

I’m working out what I know about the two main characters, Owen and Marie, their relationship, conflicts and history. The spy and the alchemist have loved each other since their teens, the court functionary and the widowed young queen keep up the proper pretense in public–the bastard son of a duke and the woman who was never supposed to wear the crown know they can never marry.

Marie keeps asking him. Owen keeps reminding her of reality and saying no.

Other writers plot out each scene, each delicate plot maneuver and adjustment before they write. I figure out who my characters are first, how they feel, interact, fit with each other and in their world. The story grows from there.

This works for me. I don’t recommend that others try writing this way.

Other stuff. Because life is full of other stuff.

I will be at Armadillo Con for one whole day! Saturday, July 26h is the day. I don’t have any programming or panels to do, I know exactly three people going to the con who speak to me, but damn it all, I’m going. I plan to have fun too.

I finished this month’s OWW newsletter today, other than my introduction and a tiny bit of tweaking. That was a good thing. Probably boring to anyone reading this, but a monthly milestone for me.

If the stars align correctly tomorrow, I want to finish putting together a link post of all the guest blogs and interviews I’ve done over the last month or so. I want a record for me if for nothing else.

The other things I want to talk about–reviews, quality of books vs. sales, and other delicate subjects–require posts all their own, and for me to be awake enough to write said post. After midnight is not the time.

Goodnight, stars….






We’ll live happily ever trapped if you just save my life…

I’ve gotten out of the habit of talking about my life. Not the big events, or the major milestones, but the little things–good and bad–that add up to life.

There are reasons for all of that, needing sleep and not being able to stay up to blog being one of them. The Greek chorus in the background expressing horror over what I might say is another. But you know, I like blogging. It’s another form of storytelling. I’m going to do my best to get back into it.

A bits and pieces of me entry…blown hither and yon by the hot Texas wind.

1. Texas is full of bugs, most of them huge. I kid you not when I say most of them look like cast extras from an old black and white monster movie. What people call “palmetto bugs” and are really giant cockroaches, crawl out of drains and under doors. They cover the concrete surrounding the swimming pool after dark.

Most of them are more than three inches long, difficult to kill, and scare the hell out of my cats. You can’t escape them, and catch and release means you find the same bug staring at you from the towel bar. I did discover that bathroom mildew cleaner not only kills them quickly, the bugs…melt. I don’t feel bad about that at all, considering.

The store were I work has been invaded by two inch long black beetles. They drift and pile up along the walls outside the front door at night, dark shifting masses of bugs that huddle under the lights. If they stayed outside the store that would be bad enough.

These things are inside as well. I find black beetles inside drawers, under tables, under displays–everywhere I look there are beetles crawling. The entire staff steps over and around them, doing our best not to step ON any of them. Exterminators have come and gone (twice) but the bugs are stronger. We sweep up the beetles that do die with the dust bunnies.

A little boy somewhere between the age of three and four was at the registers with his mother not long after the invasion started. He was following one of these beetles, trying his best to stomp on it and missing. Finally he managed to step on the bug, and for good measure, stomped it again.

The little boy watched until the bug stopped twitching, leaned over with a scowl and said, “Are you dead yet?”

The bug, of course, didn’t answer, but it’s a question the staff keeps asking. We all wonder if the bugs are dead yet.

2. I’ve lost count of the number of times over the last few weeks that someone, usually an older person, has come up to me and said “Did you know the store is full of nasty/ugly/big bugs?”

Each time I have to stop myself from doing a double take, looking around frantically and saying “Bugs? Where!?!”

Being a nice person at heart, I rein in my smart-ass answers and tell them yes, we know, exterminators are on the case, etc. But oh, the temptation….

3. I had another dream about being lost last night, abandoned by everyone I’d come with after some kind of event or luncheon where I gave a talk. During the talk everyone fell asleep. Afterward I couldn’t find my way back to the hotel, and all the people I asked for directions didn’t know where my hotel was.

This dream was one in a series, a variation on a theme and a metaphor I don’t need interpreted. What all these dreams have in common, aside from me wandering lost in a huge crowd of strangers, is I’m always within sight of the ocean.

I knew I missed being near the water. I didn’t know I missed it that much.

4. The YA book wasn’t as ripe or ready for writing as I thought. It’s been put away for a while to finish cooking and grow a beginning. Middles and endings are awesome, but I still need a good, compelling place to start.

My writer brain helpfully supplied a novel that was ready to be written. More about that book later.

More about many things later. Time for sleep.

Goodnight stars…….






Where you can find A Barricade In Hell and get signed copies

Tomorrow is the official release day for A BARRICADE IN HELL. The book, being a precocious child, found its way on to the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble last week, but there are lots of places you can find Gabe and Delia.

And! If you want a signed copy, I have two options for that as well. Unless something changes, these are my only scheduled signings.

I will be at Murder By The Book in Houston on Saturday, June 14th at 4:30 p.m. You can call or email the store to order a copy of your very own, signed and personalized.

And I will be at Katy Budget Books in the Katy/Houston area on Friday, June 13th at 6p.m. for a Friday the 13th signing. You can pre-order a copy for me to sign from the fine folk at Katy Budget Books as well.

Other options, either strictly online or a combination of brick and mortar/online ordering.

Alibris Books. An online retailer that sells both new and used books, including mine.

The Strand Bookstore in New York. A fine indie bookstore that does online ordering as well.

Mysterious Galaxy an independent genre bookstore, both walk-in and online.

Powell’s Books a legend that needs no introduction. Someday I will make it to the Pacific Northwest to shop there.

Books A Million a brick and mortar chain that I hope continues to thrive and grow. They have a great online store too.

Chapters Indigo for my friends in Canada.

And if none of those work for you, use IndieBound to find an independent bookstore near you.

Barnes and Noble is always an option, and of course, the megacorp of your choice.

I’m really excited about A BARRICADE IN HELL going out into the world to seek its fortune. My hope is that many more readers will discover Gabe and Delia and fall in love with them.

That’s the writer’s dream, ladies and gents, that people will love your books. Some of us even implore the brightest star.






So I wrote these guest posts

And I was going to blog about them earlier, but I had another guest post to write, and a book to finish revising. So I’m late getting these up, but late is better than not at all.

Right? Right.

The first post about The Great War is up at Far Beyond Reality. Stefan Raets was kind enough to invite me to share some of what it’s like to write about character’s lives against a historical background.

The extra added bonus with this post is a chance to win copies of both Delia’s Shadow and A Barricade In Hell. Tor is providing copies of both books to one lucky winner.

Go read the post and enter to win books! You know you want to.

The second is A Special Needs in Strange Worlds guest column over at SF Signal. Writing characters with physical limitations is hard in any context. Adding a historical background ups the difficulty level. Getting it all right is harder still.

Both posts are much more interesting than my summaries make them sound, I promise. It’s late and I’m tired, and a small cat named Morgan is howling in my ear that’s it’s time for bed.

She could be right.






I should probably note

That the trade paperback edition of Delia’s Shadow came out today! Yes, ladies and gents, my book is available in both hardback and paperback at a bookstore or internet outlet near you. Same beautiful cover on both editions.

But wait! There’s even more news.

The Kindle edition has a new, lower price! It’s only $9.79.

And there’s still more!

Two weeks from today (June 3rd) the second book in the series, A Barricade In Hell, comes out! Pre-order now and you could have it on release day. Indie stores, such as Murder By The Book, and Katy Budget Books, love pre-orders.

And since I will be signing at those stores June 13th and June 14th, if you order either book right now, you can get a signed copy for your very own.

That’s all the news I have for now, but watch this space.






She spoke his name outloud again…

Not to bury the lead…

The trade paper of Delia’s Shadow will be out May 20th. Two weeks after that, June 3rd to be exact, A Barricade In Hell will be released.

Two books in two weeks, ladies and gents. I have no words for how crazed that is. I should probably start shamelessly self promoting.

Cats must be fed, after all.

In that spirit, I have two signings scheduled in Houston right after Barricade comes out. Friday, June 13th, I will be signing at Katy Budget Books from 6-8 p.m.

And on Saturday, June 14th, I’ll be back at Murder By The Book from 4:30 to 6-ish. I had a ton of fun there last fall, and I can’t wait to go back.

I will remind the world a few times between now and then. I’d really love to see people turn out for both signings.

Months back my external hard-drive decided to wipe almost all the music off my computer during the weekly backup.

As in ::poof:: gone. Bye-bye.

All the music was still on my old computer, and on the external drive, and it would play if that drive was connected, but the cpu never stopped running and nothing else worked correctly. The extra added bonus was that none of the music would go BACK on to the computer.

I was not a happy woman. I ended up ripping cds to the drive (again) and other fun things to get some of that music back. I write to music, so that was important.

This week the ranch was saved by a 16g thumbdrive. I got all my music–over 3000 mp3s, all of which I paid money for–off the old computer and back on the one I use.

Music makes me happy. Getting it back makes me happy. It’s all about the happy stuff. And if some people in the world think that’s silly, I really don’t care.

Awaken, aka the twisted fairytale, continues to grow. It’s creeping up on 10k, which as you know, Roberta, makes it a real book. My brain is giving me the story in chunks, and jumping around in time, and I can see I need to go back and layer in details. But on the whole, I get words when I sit down to write.

Time to write is the issue. I do need to sleep once in a while.

Changes passed down from the corporate level have made the dayjob a stress fest of epic proportions. Which is all I’m going to say about that.

Insert a primal scream here for the rest of real life. Interesting times, ladies and gents. I’d like a little boredom now.

Time to be productive before I leave for a night shift. Day 1 of 7 in a row.






Don’t worry too much about the happily-ever-after

I need to consult with my webmage about the cross poster here. Garbage code showing up with every apostrophe or em dash makes a blogger crazy. Not helpful.

Anyway. Twisted fairy tales and the writing there of.

I got AWAKEN up to just under 6,000 words over the weekend. This is a really real book in my head now, swelling to fill every nook and tiny crawl space. I had my doubts about there being enough story here when I started, but those doubts have vanished. In the time honored tradition of all my novels, the characters have stepped up to whisper in my ear.

I dreamed about this book last night. That’s the best sign of all the book isn’t going to flame out on me.

I figured out my owls yesterday. They aren’t owls like you and I know owls.

::looks around and whispers:: They sing.

And when one owl blinks, or swivels its head, they all do. In unison.

Yes, the owls are going to be fun–and slightly creepy. As long as I keep remembering we aren’t in Kansas (or San Francisco) anymore, this book is going to kick ass.

For a long, long time I resisted writing anything YA. I worried about being able to write “kids” or keeping the stories light enough to fit the genre and age group.

And it took me far too long to realize I didn’t need to worry about any of that. I needed to write the characters as people, no matter what their age, and tell the story that needed to be told.

As one does with any book.

Miranda, Oliver, and Wilhem are people, and Mad Elspeth isn’t mad no matter how history remembers her.

I promised some darlings, so darlings you shall have. Then I have to get ready for the dayjob.

Also! Don’t forget the trade paper of DELIA’S SHADOW comes out May 20th, and that A BARRICADE IN HELL hits the stores June 3rd. Pre-orders are good. They show publishers that people want these books and enable authors to write more.

End of shameless self-promotion. On to rough, raw, new book darlings, which are subject to editing at anytime. This is the opening scene, which sets the tone and Miranda’s voice. Not the whole scene, just part of it.

****

True stories all start in different ways, in different times or places, and one never knows if the ending will be happy until you get there. This tale commenced long before I was born, but the part of the story I can tell begins at midnight of my fifth birthday.

And I suppose I should start with my name. I’m Miranda Caitlin Annalise, Crown Princess of Shavano, Heir to the Roan Mountains and Guardian of the Shadowed Sea. Ambassadors and visitors to my father’s court are the only ones to ever use all those names and titles. Everyone else calls me Mira.

Five years of age was awfully young to be summoned from my bed for midnight conversations, to pad barefoot through the sleeping palace and cross the courtyard unseen. Doorways opened in walls where I’d never noticed a door, and stone stairs glimmered as I climbed, lighting the way so I knew where to place my feet. I never thought to be afraid of going to the top of a dark, silent tower, but I hadn’t yet learned what it meant to be afraid.

The room at the top of the staircase was warm and bright. A cheery fire filled the hearth, and dried herbs dangled from beams overhead, adding a peppery smell to the air that made my nose itch. Half-melted, blocky candles sat on either end of a soot-blackened mantel, their flames swaying in the breeze that followed me into the chamber.

An hourglass brimful of white sand sat in the middle of an old pine table. I stared at a spiral of shimmering grains, frozen in the act of falling. No one needed to tell me the hourglass was enchanted. The stories my nursemaids told were full of such things.

A woman I didn’t know sat at a spinning wheel near the fireplace, her slim hand making the great wheel twirl faster than my eye could follow. Her hair was dark like mine, falling in the same tight coils over her shoulders, and held off her face with jeweled pins. She didn’t dress like the weavers below stairs or the kitchen girls who fed me sweets when my nursemaids weren’t watching. The servants I’d seen spinning didn’t wear clothes nearly as rich and fine, nor sing somber airs as they spun.

The stranger saw me in the doorway and stopped her work, smiling encouragement when I didn’t come closer. “Come over here, granddaughter. It’s warmer by the fire and I have something to show you.”

Her eyes were like my father’s deep brown eyes, full of mirth and secrets, and I couldn’t help but be curious about her. I pulled back into the corridor, peering at her around the doorframe. Shadows at my back pressed closer, colder, driving me back into the room and toward her outstretched arms. I ran the last few steps. “Are you really my grandmother? I don’t remember you.”

“You wouldn’t remember me, nor would your father. My son was your grandfather’s grandfather.” She pulled me into her lap and wrapped me in a corner of her thick, crimson shawl. “I was gone long before either you or Stefan were born. Since then our family has done its best to forget the name Elspeth, but I’d like it very much if you remembered. Now give me your hand. This won’t hurt.”

I hardly felt the spindle prick my finger. My newfound grandmother gently squeezed out three bright drops to coat the iron shaft with blood. Elspeth pierced a fingertip as well, mingling her blood with mine.

“There, it’s done. You were very brave, Mira.” She brushed back the curls that had fallen into my face and kissed my forehead. “The pledge is renewed, blood sealed to blood. Go back to sleep now and I’ll send you home. Your nurse will sense woman’s magic on you, but that can’t be helped. You’re safer with the bond, as safe as I can make any daughter of our house.”






The only thing I’ll ever ask of you, you’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when

Who knew writing twisted fairytales was so much fun? So much worldbuilding, so many tiny details to think about, decisions, and so so much shit to make up.

There are so many owls in this story, peering from the rafters, filling the trees outside Miranda’s window, wide-eyed and knowing. I’m not entirely certain what they all mean yet, just that the owls belong here.

I love this part of writing. I love building stories and worlds and characters from the ground up, making them breathe and come alive. I adore twisting the familiar into something unexpected. That is real magic.

Also, that little shiver of delight is probably why I love writing flat out fantasy more than anything.

This book is still all cinders and sorrow, with a sprinkling of desperate hope. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean anything to anyone but me, but most of my books are all images and emotion and floating on music at the beginning. I know the plot, but knowing the plot is only a fraction of the battle to build a better novel.(tm)

AWAKEN is totally in love with the Foo Fighters right now. Not the music I’d have pegged as right for a fairytale, but I only work here.

And for the first time in almost three years, there seems to be poetry stirring in my head. I’d thought poetry had left me forever, but maybe not. Writing poetry again would make me happy.

Tomorrow I will post a darling from the new book, because I can. Tonight I leave you with the theme song of the week. There is a mandatory 8 a.m. dayjob meeting tomorrow morning, even if it is Sunday and my day off.






How will it be, lady, when there is none left to remember you even as long as this?

I should post a warning here, so I will.

Warning:This post is picture heavy, and deals with the Victorian era’s way of coping with death and loss, touches on the relationship between slaves and their owners, and some people may find these photos difficult to view.

Stars know I find them deeply disturbing and incredibly sad. Onward in any case.

A WAR FOR PHILADELPHIA takes place in 1865, in a south that never fell, in a United States that never existed. But even though the history is different, and a king rules from Philadelphia, I made the decision that things like clothing, furniture, and the basic trappings of life would be the same.

Different time period means looking at a different set of photographs to get the details right. Mixed with the photos of women in high necked dresses and full skirts, or men in waistcoats and top hats, were lessons about grief and the complex emotions generated when dealing with the death of those you love.

The Victorians were better friends with death than we are today, even if “friend” isn’t precisely the right word. While they didn’t embrace the experience of loss, they couldn’t shy away from it either, or pretend death only visited others.

The infant mortality rate in the 19th and early 20th century was appalling, which is saying a lot given current US statistics. Women really and truly risked an agonizing death from child-bed fever, or bleeding to death, each time they had a baby. Vaccines and antibiotics didn’t exist. Children died of measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, and even ear infections. Diphtheria, typhoid, and cholera could sweep away entire families.

Not publicly acknowledging the depth of emotion and not dwelling on loss would be a totally understandable reaction, especially given how often death was an unwelcome visitor. But the Victorians didn’t shun the impact death had on their lives. Instead, they went in front of the camera to record their grief, and remember.

Posing with the photograph of another person signified that you were in mourning for them. All those thousands of photographs of civil war soldiers, both Union and Confederate, were taken so that their wives, mothers, children, and family would have something to remember them by if the worst happened.

And when the worst did happen, and the person you loved never came home, Victorians took more photos to document the loss. I keep trying to understand the psychology of this. Who were these photos for?

Sometime in the 1860s “mourning brooches” and pendents containing photos of dead soldiers came into fashion. The woman in this photograph is wearing a mourning brooch as well as holding a photo of the dead soldier. There are thousands of these photos too, most of them showing women with their outward emotions in check. I suspect that posing for these photos signifies that the attachment was deeper and the emotion stronger, than the calm faces let on.

The most difficult to understand Victorian practice, and the most macabre, was postmortem photography.

Postmortem photography seems so strange–so wrong–to the modern eye, but it was extremely common in the 19th century. From what I’ve seen and read, taking photographs of deceased relatives approached the level of ritual. Photographs were taken of deceased husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, grandparents, and saddest of all, children.

One site I visited called these children and infants “ghost babies”.


I can’t imagine holding my dead child and posing for a photographer. There is so much grief in this woman’s face, so much sadness and devastation. Don’t ever believe anything you hear, or read, about people in the past not mourning their children because death was common. It’s a lie.

There are a thousand possible stories behind this photograph from the 1850s, and a million questions raised by a black woman holding a tiny white baby. This woman must have been important in this child’s short life. That the photo exists at all is a testament to the tie between the two of them.

And the picture is a comment on the twisted relationship between slaves and their owners. I can’t help wondering if the woman cradling the dead infant on her lap was a nursemaid, a nanny–or the child’s mother.

It could go either way.






And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows, and the good girls are home with broken hearts

I fell into a Tom Petty shaped hole on YouTube tonight. There are much worse ways to spend an evening.

It’s amazing how the amount of writing related work I have to do swells to make up for lacking a hard and fast deadline. I’ve written guest posts and I got a request for another one today. There are some open invitations floating around too. Soon–very soon–I’m going to take advantage of those too. I have odd bits of freelance work to do as well.

And then there were the proposals I just finished writing for an option novel, or novels if I’m a lucky writer. I sent my agent proposals for another Gabe and Delia novel, a standalone novel about Dora in Atlanta, and a proposal for the Philadelphia duology. Philadelphia was the easiest one to write because the first book is already written.

Writing proposals was a new and interesting experience, a lot like writing outlines for stories I don’t know yet. Even when I know the beginning, middle and end of a book, there are so many things I don’t know. They all come to me while I’m writing.

If I get to write these novels, all of that will still happen. Rumor is that writers venture away from the outline all the time.

Now that the proposals are finished, I’m trying to get my head into Philadelphia again. I’m taking it as a good sign that getting back into the book wasn’t as hard as I was afraid it would be. Considering how often I get jerked out of working on this due to the dayjob and other calls on my time, I’m never sure. Loving these characters and this story with all the love doesn’t hurt.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about heroes while revising this novel. My heroes, male or female, aren’t perfect. They aren’t cocksure or always brave, they aren’t so confident of victory they forget they can lose. My women aren’t quivering, fragile flowers and I don’t write my male characters as stoic, ever fearless supermen, who solve every problem by beating the shit out of someone.

And I poke at this idea of heroes, and think about the ramifications of how heroes are portrayed, because there are people in this world who think my idea of a hero is totally wrong. I ponder because I don’t have all the answers, all the time, and I will always have new things to learn.

But, ladies and gents, I have come back to where I started, convinced that no, I’m not doing it wrong. My female heroes will not be useless and my male heroes will not be assholes.

I promised to post darlings from this book awhile back, something that hasn’t happened. The scene I was working on tonight is the perfect one to post tonight, both because I love it, and because it illustrates what I was thinking about.

Darling pasted below. I’m going to bed.

Frank was barely visible now, glimmers of power against the trees and cabin about all that could be seen. “I can’t help you find this man. Start thinking which houses might have reason to start a war. If you find who’s paying him, you’ll find your mage. Talk things out with Lorene, she might know more than she thinks. A lot’s going to fall on you, Captain Giles, but it can’t be helped. You’re all she’s got.”

Josh nodded, head full of thoughts he couldn’t grab and hold onto. Fair or not, he laid the blame for half of them at Frank’s feet, seeds planted for later. The other half he blamed on fear. He’d never been so scared in his life. “And this book of yours is going to tell me how to do all this.”

The last shimmering light belonging to the mage vanished, but Frank’s voice was in the wind. “There’s more in that journal than just history, son. Don’t let anyone get it away from you.”

Josh stood there a little longer, head tipped back so the stars were all he saw, shaking and fighting not to cry. He hadn’t cried when his parents died or when his uncle beat him; pride wouldn’t let him give Jasper the satisfaction. Pride wouldn’t let him give into fear now or let the weight of responsibility drive him to his knees.

Once he was sure he could face himself, Josh went inside to face Lori. She was counting on him.