Tag Archives: The Juliet

Wild Ride! Yesterday’s Giveaway, Ghost Town Fun, and a SWEET Review

Not sure there’s a better word for it, but Yeehaw. Yesterday was the Kindle giveaway for The Juliet, and it was a huge success, especially as the book grabbed the #1 spot in Historical Fiction >Mystery, Thriller & Suspense and did not let go for quite a while. It hit #240 in overall ebooks, and today it’s climbing steady at $5.99. As I write this, paying customers have sent The Juliet to #150 in Historical Fiction >Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, and we cracked the 20k barrier in overall ranking, which my publisher says puts the book in the top .6% of all ebooks. Full disclosure: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH THAT INFORMATION, LOL.

So obviously, the free day was effective, but only because of the support of Pandamoon’s Promotion Team and my lovely friends, who social-mediaed the hell out the book. Special Thank You to Panda Sister, Penni Jones, who posted a terrific review of The Juliet that gives a great sense of the book’s twists and turns.  Also thanks to the Rude Pundit, who in comparing me to a “Stoner Dickens,” may have introduced me to a whole new audience of potty-mouthed ranters of the highest quality.

Finally, this neat little article showed up in my FB feed today. It’s about Rhyolite, Nevada, the ghost town that was the inspiration for The Juliet’s fictional ghost town of Centenary.

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Goodreads Giveaway Winners, The Juliet is Coming to Your Town!

Psyched that the Giveaway winners have been selected, and I’m eager to hit the books with my MAGIC GREEN PEN, and then hit to PO office to send those beauties out into the world. Where to? Well, 1143 people entered for the chance to win 1 of 10 signed copies, and there were 2 winners from Pennsylvania, and one each from Maryland, Colorado, California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Michigan, Canada, and Northern England.

Congratulations to all the winners. I hope you enjoy the book!

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A list of things that happened over the last few days plus tomorrow

  1. Conversations & Connections. The panels were packed, people were sitting on the floor. When Art Taylor read as part of the keynote, the conference ran out of copies of On the Road with Del and LouiseThey had to start a waitlist.
  2. Spring came. (see above. The view from my cabin’s back window. Taken with an iPad, no filter)
  3. Anthony Ballots were due.
  4. Edgar Awards.
  5. Malice Domestic. Congratulations to Barb Goffman for winning the best short story prize. Congratulations to Art Taylor for winning the best first novel prize. His West Virginia fan club  was tracking twitter and drinking a little too much.
  6. My mother, who is 87 and has the flu, casually came up with a brilliant idea for a short story epilogue to The Juliet. Involves finding a skull in the desert 20 years later. Emerald inside. Mom says, “I should write these things down.” Um, yeah you should.
  7. Panda-bro Todd Tavalozzi’s Looking Into The Sun reached number 1 in War novels during his free day on Kindle.
  8. Matt Magelssen-Green’s delightful essay, “Roleplaying as Live-Action Fan Fiction” is available on the Alternating Current Press blog, marking the last of my choices as guest editor to go live. Woo hoo! Plus Matt is one of the BEST EGGS.
  9. My Father-in-law just read my book and doesn’t know why it isn’t a bestseller.
  10. Tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my Goodreads Giveaway for a signed copy of The Juliet. Get on that, ya?
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What Color is Your (Independent) Bookstore? Launch Week Round-up

Happy Easter, happy everything! It was a heck of a launch week, with a guest talk in a publishing seminar, two readings, lots of books to sign, a tidal wave of internet promotion, and of course, the holiday, for which we rushed to the country to set up an egg hunt for our gosh-daughter. She’s 8 now, but a wonderful actress, and it’s always fun to watch the gas-lighted become the gas-lighter. It must have been particularly tough for her keep up the act of innocence, especially when she came across a huge bag of Easter stuff in her parents’ car the day before. She’s a terrific, smart kiddo, declaring this year’s egg hunt haul “the best ever,” thereby guaranteeing that the adults will attempt to outdo themselves next year.

The DC launch event at Upshur Street Books was lightly attended—not unexpected for a mid-week rush hour reading—but it was a delightful party made bright by friends Art Taylor, Danny Collier, Lucy Jilka, Joe Killiany, Terry Nebeker, and David Olimpio, who came all the way from Jersey with Rothko, his internet famous dog. The gosh daughter was there too, and she peeled the edible emerald decal off the cake and said, “I know what happened to The Juliet!” Then she jammed it into her mouth and made monster-yum-yum noises. Despite the low attendance, I somehow had a generous wad of cash in my grip when we got back into the car to go home. My husband, Dean, and Art Taylor—who also read from his great book, On The Road With Del and Louise—talked politics all the way home, while I sort of disappeared inside my own happy bubble. The top pic looks like a band pic.

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The Northern Virginia launch at One More Page Books drew a big crowd—it was Friday night, when a lot more people were ready to relax and kick off the holiday weekend. I was joined by Erin Fitzgerald, who read from her exquisite novella, Valletta 78. Erin stayed at our place, and in addition to being a terrific writer, she has the patience of a saint with my dogs. The older pup freaked out every time Erin used hand gestures or took an audible breath, whereas the younger one was smitten, on the edge of obsession. This is her rolling around on Erin’s sheets, followed by Erin and me at our author table:




The great news about the NoVa launch is that the store sold out of copies they ordered, and had to use some of my copies to meet demand. Erin and I signed a TON of books, and almost missed out on the cake. Terry Nebeker, who attended both readings, almost stole the show though, with her non-ironic cowboy hat and cardboard mustache.

Finally, something that my husband and I found interesting—but you may not—is that Upshur Street Books is green inside, something we referred to as indie bookstore green after the event, remembering that OMP was green, too. But wait. One More Page is blue now. It used to be green. I can prove it. This is from 2014.


I guess that isn’t super-interesting, but it just goes to show how an author sees the world with wonder and joy when her book is released, lol. In either case, these are great little stores with excellently curated selections, very knowledgeable and clever staff, and a devoted clientele. These are not just shops, but destinations—beautiful models of the independent bookstore renaissance.

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The Juliet On My Doorstep

A box of print copies of The Juliet arrived at my home yesterday afternoon, and I’ve been celebrating ever since, but now comes the season of promotion. This morning I tried my hand at cheezy tweeting (tying my cursed emerald to St Patrick’s Day), and that fell flat–possibly because nothing can beat my dog’s photobomb that I posted last night: 12841328_10154653513439202_8325487644328745022_o Next week is launch week, though. I kick off Monday, the 21st, with a presentation about publishing for a graduate class that will also include potential MFA applicants. The official release DAY is the 22nd, I give a reading in DC at Upshur Street Books on the 23rd, and on the 25th I’m reading at One More Page Books in Arlington, VA.


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Getting Real! The First Necklaces Have Arrived (thanks, mom!)

Back in 2011 when my debut novel, Death Wishing was published, my mom made me dozens of beautiful necklaces so that I would never have to wear the same one twice for my book tour. This year, because The Juliet is about a cursed emerald, she’s focusing on making green necklaces for my readings–actual emeralds would be rather costly–and the first two have arrived. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Here’s a portion of the necklaces she made in 2011, with cat assist.


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NSFXmas– a holiday moment from The Juliet

I’ll pull this post by tomorrow I bet, but here’s a smutty little piece from the novel describing a holiday fete in a brothel in 1907. My influences are obvious: Deadwood and Annie Lennox’s Christmas album.

December 23, 1907: Centenary, NV

Two days before Christmas, Lily made a legend of herself, one from which she and Centenary would never recover. The girls of the Ophelia offered up a holiday pageant, and the white lights of High Street were wrapped in gold and green veils with ribbons tied to every post. The air was cold but dry, and yet there was a promise in the clouds, a signal of sorts.

There had been parties for weeks. Polite parties, family parties, feasts and dances, and pious choirs in Dickensian robes as if they could call down winter snow by acting the part. And there had been a myriad of church events, even though the Blessings—the Blessing of the mines, the Blessing of the burros, the Blessing of the dynamite stores and the like—would not happen until the New Year. It was a socially fatiguing season, particularly because Centenary’s population was so small relative to its largess. There was an abundance of wealth moving through the community and no place to hide if you were disinclined to celebrate.

So by the eve of the Eve, many men were exhausted by the wholesome and spiritual pleasures of their families. They poured into the Ophelia and the Ophelia poured into them—each man entering the brothel received a hefty punch cocktail at the door and many more after that if they kept the cards and the girls in play. The Ophelia doves dressed like shabby winter queens in silken dressing gowns and tin-can tiaras set with hunks of polished bottle glass. One of the women played a banjolin, loaned for the occasion by a Turkish miner. She sat on a stage of borax crates, her knees drifting apart as she concentrated on keeping her strums lively.

The men were unusually fresh and jovial, all shaved and bathed for the season. For once there were no dusty boots, no sullen faces, and best of all, no violence. Even Mr. Tanglewood had trimmed his hair and laundered his vest. When the banjolin woman was called away to ply her trade, a handbell player took the stage dressed in a man’s smoking jacket and fez, but nothing else. She played a few carols with a great deal of seriousness, and her audience responded with raucous applause.

Despite being fully electrified, the room was gold with candle light, and the smoke added to the intoxicating fog already generated by pipes and cigarettes. Tanglewood could hardly keep up with the money changing hands at the bar and games tables. The girls were expected to keep their own accounts.

Arthur Goud sat at the bar in a place of honor. He was wearing his Sunday shirt and his boots were carefully cleaned. He hadn’t paid for a drink yet, but he was well oiled, thanks to the generosity of friends he did not know he had.

Just as rumors of Centenary’s decline had threatened the joy of the season and hope for the future, Goud was profiled in the Prospector as a particularly intuitive and savvy miner whose faith in the Apollo operation remained unshaken. He was depicted as a rambler who had been tamed by Centenary’s gleaming modernity, where the streets glowed with gaslights and shop windows dazzled with electricity.

The pull quote was this: “Centenary makes night into day. Life is longer in Centenary.”

Goud believed in Centenary, and his optimism was the antidote to the caution of the Apollo mine’s assessors. He claimed could read the gold in a fistful of dirt from Penance Lane.

At nine o’clock a gong was struck, and most of the candles were snuffed leaving the attendees in shadows. The frails still on the floor pulled away from their men and assembled together at the back of the hall. There were eleven of them, including the banjolin and handbell players. The women linked arms and pointed their toes so that their legs were exposed as they sang three songs: The Boy I love is Up in the Gallery, Oh! Mr. Porter, and of course, Jingle Bells. When they finished the women scrambled back to the laps of their preferred patrons, waiting in the darkened room for the evening’s special performance.

The room hushed, except for a few giggles of anticipation, but no one had to wait for long. Soon a kind of candelabra appeared, blazing with seven sticks alight, held high and tilting out of a shadowed corner like a string-borne prop at a swindler’s séance. Eventually it became clear that the candles were affixed to a kind of helmet-wreath worn by none other than Lily Joy.

That she wore a crown of flames was only one remarkable aspect of her appearance. Her garment, an angelic robe with long, open sleeves, was made of a shimmery, transparent material, revealing her naked body beneath. Her nipples and pubis had been darkened to ensure visibility by candlelight.

She was greeted with sighs and groans, and other non-translatable expressions of carnal reverence. Lily Joy positioned herself at the center of the back wall so all could see. Her red hair spilled down from the candle crown, and the tendrils had been oiled to curl around the outsides of her breasts. Between them hung a heavy gauge golden chain, at the end of which two green oval stones wrapped in gold wire cages dangled like clock weights.

The necklace was far from fashionable. It made no sense. And as beautiful and erotic as Lily Joy could be, the green stones lay like occult weapons on her flesh, deliberately crude and primitive. Deliberately disturbing.

Except to Goud, and possibly any other squarehead miner in the room. He recognized his lover’s moving tribute to Saint Lucy, the virgin martyr who was sentenced to prostitution for distributing her family’s great wealth among the poor. And who tore her own eyes out rather than let them be admired by pagan men.

Statues of Saint Lucy often depicted her presenting her own eyes on a platter. Lily Joy dangled two green stones between her breasts. Oh night divine . . .

And then she sang, unaccompanied. Her voice was unexpectedly beautiful and strong, but it was her introduction of the sacred into this secular event that was truly shocking. She sang:

As Joseph was a-walking

He heard an Angel sing:

This night shall be the birth night

Of Christ our Heavenly King

The song was received with quiet awe for the first few verses, but then as Lily’s confidence grew, she began to move with the rhythm she’d chosen, bouncing her breasts with every downbeat. Objections were raised, but those men were either shouted down or escorted out of the party.

For the most part Lily’s profane performance was hypnotic. The jolly mood gave way, and a kind of hunger spread wordlessly throughout the hall. Those who kept their senses moved to private rooms to exercise their urges, but some, in fact many, couldn’t wait.

Tanglewood found it convenient to play the pianola with his back to his guests. He played the three songs he knew, and then he played them again. When he tired, he loaded the paper rolls and pumped the pedals, trying to look professional under the circumstances.

Goud took Lily Joy to a padded bench near the Faro tables and snuffed out the candles of her crown one by one. The Ophelia, darkened by just that much, began to hum with low, devotional murmurs and other unmistakeable sounds of release. While bankers and merchants cooed like children, miners reverted to their native speech: German, Italian, and whatever witchy noises the Irish fell into when they’d drunk the barrel dry. As Goud caressed Lily’s breasts through her fragile garment, he also stroked the great green pendants. She seemed to enjoy his fascination with the stones, and as he made love to her, she said the same words over and over to him: “I told you there was more. I told you so.”


The Juliet is Under Contract: Let’s Celebrate


First, apologies to anyone who saw my premature post/announcement back in October when I signed the contract to publish my novel, The Juliet, with Pandamoon Publishing. Yesterday was the official announcement, so now I’m a free to bore you to tears with how happy I am.

I was looking through my DV photos for the above image, and I was totally unaware of the Jameson bottle on the memorial to Mona Bell.  Or rather, I had forgotten it was there. This is from page 5 of the draft ms:

It was midnight, and Lily Joy’s gravesite was lit with candles. The glow gave away its hiding place behind a hardened dune of rubble. Rhys Nash brought a bottle of Jameson with him that cost eleven of the fifteen bucks he had left in the world, but since he’d be on a plane back to the UK tomorrow it didn’t matter. He’d spent the last three months in the States, and he couldn’t believe he had to leave.

I steal everything, even from myself.

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2 years, 7 months in the life of a novel manuscript

Today I clicked the clicker, sending the edited novel ms to a very important person. In Feb 2012 I posted my last entry on my old blog, describing what I thought the book would be. I came close. Below, my notes then with what actually happened:

Working title: Willie Judy & The Mystery House

Actual Title: The Juliet

Tell the story in scenes, 3rd person, jumping into different pov for each unit–I think I did that.

keep it lean (70k?)–more like 106k

Plot. dominant story line, chronological, treasure hunt in Death Valley, world’s ugliest couture brooch (cursed? sure, why not)

err, sorta? the whereabouts of The J is one of several mysteries, like why the retired cowboy actor gives away the deed to The Mystery House

subplot1–the history of the brooch and its owners –check

subplot2–the cowboy actor’s career (western movies, tv cop shows, commercials, adult movie cameos) —there is some emphasis on the cowboy actor’s past, but I ended up spending a lot more time on his present


Willie Judy, failed NPS worker, animal lover who can’t stop killing animals. Now shuttles auto parts across the desert. Sometimes refereed to as weasel-girl, owing to sharp features.—yup

Scottie aka Rhys Nash, a Welsh ultra marathon runner, proprietor of the Alkalai Springs Resort (crush on WJ). Profound nose. Never really able to relax. Expects to be disappointed. has pot-belly pigs.–yup. part of my ongoing campaign for more large noses in literature

Tony Jackpot, celebrity gambler from the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, co-owner of Alkalai Springs Resort. Brains and a secret.–yes to all, but sadly no room for the secret. also I can’t remember what it was. 

Dawn, Tony’s niece, coerced to work in the ASR kitchens to keep her safe from boys (crush on scottie). –became two characters, Dawn, Tony’s recovering addict daughter, and Hilly, a worker at The Alkalai  with light brain damage. She’s seen a ghost at The Mystery House.

Rigg Dexon/Paul Lattanzi, retired cowboy actor. Convinced he is not long for the world, Dexon signs over The Mystery House to Willie in Part 1, mistaking her indigestion for starstruck admiration. –yup. I was supposed to kill him off in 15 pages, but I liked him so much he kind of took over. 


Death Valley during the Great Bloom of 2005

Alkalai Springs Resort, rustic accommodations, great food, greater bar. THE stop for the Outside Magazine crowd

The Mystery House–shack made famous in a 60s song

yup, yup, yup, plus the ghost town of Centenary (based on Rhyolite).


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