Amazon Unlimited and Making some distribution changes

So I’m limiting my distribution to The Kindle. The main reason being that Amazon has the Kindle Direct Publishing program, which has some perks and benefits, but requires you to be exclusive with Amazon. I’ve spent the last six months or so on a bunch of different platforms, and honestly, Amazon is the only one I see any real results from.

Now they’ve got this Amazon Unlimited thing, which is kind of like Netflix, but for ebooks. Authors can opt into the program, and I can’t really see a downside to it. Especially for me. My understanding is that in that program, an author gets credit for that book having been read once the person who downloads it browses through the first 10%. Since my stories are all relatively short, and there’s a bunch of them, the math seems to be in my favor.

Another reason to get onboard with the Unlimited program is that I believe my main obstacle in reaching an audience is the stigma of vampire stories. I mean, I get it, the market’s saturated and it’s very hard to convince people to read a new vampire series. What I need to do is convince people that I’ve got something different to offer (which I do) and the way to do that is to get as many eyes on it as possible. So even if I don’t make much money from the Unlimited program, just getting those new readers (who may then recommend it to someone else, or leave a review) is worth it.

So yeah, tonight I’m taking Bloodletting down from all distributors other than Amazon. Honestly, that’s a bit of a relief anyway. It was a little stressful having all of these different platforms to keep track of. If everything is in Amazon, then I know that whatever version is online is the one everyone has.

I’ll give it a shot and see how it does. It’s really all going to depend on how well Amazon Unlimited performs. It could be a massive flop, and we’re back to square one. But whatever. If that happens, then I haven’t really lost anything.

Stuff I researched while writing

How people eat pomegranate. (never had it myself. These Russian dudes have a pretty good video explaining pomegranates)

Wiltshire, England (It’s where Stonehenge is! I ended up not using any of the information I learned)

Great Western Railway (also related to the scrapped Stonehenge scene. IRRELEVANT!)

Stonehenge (see above)

Treacle (I knew what it was, but I needed to know if it was what someone in Victorian England would think of instead of syrup. It was!)

The fall of the British Empire (Hitler! Well, also Japan and The U.S. and just the natural order of the world)

The Napoleonic Wars (mostly I was interested in the idea of how a vampire would establish their identity. I mean, a vampire could only really stay in one place for maybe, what, thirty years? Before people start asking “hey… how come you don’t get older?” So I thought that if a vampire lived in Europe, they would travel between countries during wars. As countries are torn down and rebuilt, they too could reestablish themselves in the chaos. At least for a while. I thought that for a good four or five hundred years, a vampire in Europe could hop between Germany and Eastern Europe and France and Britain as various sides rose and fell from power. So yeah. In this instance, I went with a France/England transition)

Roman Bath Houses (lots and lots of reading about these places. They seem like they were probably pretty gross)
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Body hair in ancient Rome (High class Romans liked their junk smooth and hairless. High five! Apparently a popular means of body hair removal was to have slaves pluck their hair out with tweezers. Less fun!)

What Latin sounds like when spoken in conversation (Sounds kind of like French. Kind of like Spanish. Kind of like Italian. Go figure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_IPqniaZR0)

The floors of Herod’s palace (I didn’t know if this was information that would be available, but it couldn’t hurt to look. BAM! Though I was looking for where Herod Antipas lived, and this is the palace of Herod the Great, his father. I’m going to assume Herod Antipas lived in the the same palace after his father’s death. Regardless, even if it’s not, I think it’s safe to guess it had similar floors at least)

What is a silver charger? (just a big serving dish. Good for putting heads on)

Salome (Lots and lots about Salome. Not that I haven’t done a million hours of research about her already, but there’s always more to learn)
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Victoria 2.2 exceprt

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Vickie opened her mouth to let out the scream that had coiled up inside her, but nothing came. Her jaw only hung as she stared at those off-color eyes, and something else entered into her awareness. A smell wafted under her nose, breaking through the stink of the city and the horror of what lay at her feet. It was a fruity smell, pure and clean. The closest Vickie had been to fresh fruit in nearly eight years was the rotten pungency of cheap wine. This was the natural, healthy scent of a freshly sliced orange. The juicy richness of a fat strawberry, dribbling down her chin and across her tongue. As she stared at the boy’s face, his teeth crooked and gleaming through the gore spilling from his mouth, a memory battled its way through the rising hysteria in her mind.

A silver tray sat between them on the bed. She was fifteen years old and they had a secret. They had many secrets, she and Albert, not the least of which was the assortment of fruits and cheeses he’d brought for them to share. A soft breeze rolled in through her open bedroom window and a shiver ran up her back. Albert picked up a slice of pear and slipped it onto her tongue. It was crunchy and perfect.

“Here’s something special, just for you, little one,” Albert said as he uncovered a crystal serving dish sitting at the center of the tray. Inside was a neatly arranged pile of little red globes.

“What is it?” Vickie asked. She was never particularly adventurous in her tastes, but somehow Albert brought out a desire to try anything and everything.


“An associate brought a case of them back from Persia. Close your eyes and open your mouth.”


“Is it fruit?” she asked, having never seen anything like it. The globes appeared to be wet with a dark red juice that was intimidating in its alien strangeness.


“Shhh little one,” Albert said. It made her heart melt when he called her that. She wanted to be little. She wanted not to tower over her friends and brothers. Her parents. Albert. Nearly everyone she knew. Vickie closed her eyes and let her mouth fall open. When she felt the silver spoon pass between her teeth, she closed her lips and the pods danced over her tongue.


“Suck the pulp and then chew the seeds,” Albert whispered, that flicker of enthusiasm in his voice that she found so charming. He wasn’t like her father’s other friends and colleagues. There was an almost child like sense of glee under his stuffy suits and perfectly clipped white mustache. When they were together, she got the sense that he was able to find adventure through her youth. Each experience he would bring to her was staged and presented in such a way that he could relive that discovery. Her eyes and mouth and body were his doorway to reclaiming who he was.


The sour bite of the seeds surprised her and she opened her eyes to find him smiling. The juice of the fruit stained his mustache and teeth. His smile broadened into a crooked grin and the red juice ran across his lips and chin in rivulets. Those eyes, once bright and full of life, even in their age, looked empty and faded, as though covered with a thin layer of melted wax.


No. That wasn’t the memory. That wasn’t Albert. She was in the graveyard of Spitalfields and she needed to move, immediately. The boy was reaching for her, his fingers impossibly long and nearly white in the places they weren’t red.

Book 2.2 – Victoria (Coming soon!)

Blog Tour Interview

So friend and fellow author (of the very popular dystopian Juliana Rey series) Aral Bereux asked me to participate in a blog tour. Since I rarely pass up an opportunity to talk about myself, I said yes. You can check out her books here: http://www.aralbereux.com/ She’s Australian too, which is pretty rad. Here’s her interview, if you’d like to read it.

What am I working on?

I’ve got a few irons in the fire at any given point, but right now my main focus is on the Bloodletting stories. It was originally a screenplay I wrote many years ago (late 90s) and I went through the process of sending it off to people and showing it to a few agents and directors and things (including an awkward, borderline stalker meeting with a gracious but disinterested Rob Zombie) but eventually I moved on to other creative projects.

Then, once self publishing on the internet became a thing, I decided to try my hand at developing it into a series of stories. I originally planned on publishing it as one or two traditional novels, but as I was writing it, I realized that the chapters themselves were becoming almost stand alone short stories and novellas. I was also so excited about how it was coming along that I wanted people to read what I’d written so far. Because I already knew basic path of the story (the screenplay, in the beginning, functioned like an incredibly detailed outline) I felt free to expand on what I’d written and flesh-out the character histories.

I’d say I’m (probably?) about halfway through the story, and I’m about to publish 12th volume. Though very recently I’ve started to consider changing the ending, which completely tosses out the template I was working from. We’ll see.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’d say Bloodletting is different in a few distinct and important ways. That’s my main struggle in selling people on the story, establishing the ways that what I write is different from the ocean of vampire stories out there. In the time since I wrote the screenplay and now, Vampires have completely saturated the market. I’m just as sick of them as everyone else.

So how is it different? For one thing, I feel like vampires in fiction and movies have been put into two different camps: Romance and monsters. You’ve got your Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse gang and Anne Rice vampires on one horny side, being all moody and sexually complicated and tormented. On the other side you’ve got your reaction to that, which are the more zombie-like straight up creatures/monsters that exist for pure horror show gore fodder. Both have a place in fiction and I honestly don’t have a problem with either interpretation (well… Twilight isn’t exactly my thing) but it’s not what I do. It’s not what interests me.

My approach is to treat vampires as people dealing with extraordinary circumstances. How do people deal with being immortal? How do people deal with having to murder other people to live? I try to write about what being a vampire does to a person’s psychology and personality and how it changes the way someone perceives the world. How they interact with each other. That’s what interests me.

The Bloodletting stories focus almost exclusively on the vampires themselves, which isn’t completely unheard of, but isn’t super common in my experience. Anne Rice’s stories were from the vampire’s perspective, but she wrote about a very different kind of vampire than I do, and honestly her vampire stories were of a different time. I feel like my approach is relevant (at least to me) and desperately needed in a genre that’s dominated by stories that treat vampires as a plot device rather than fully realized characters. I’m not interested in the mortal hero of the story dealing with the problem of vampires, whether it’s fighting them or being seduced by them. I like my vampires to be real people with a realistic perspective on their situation. I like broad, gray streaks in characters. Real people aren’t good or bad. They’re dealing with their environment and circumstances in the best way they know how. Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story, and that’s my approach to my characters.

The format is certainly different. While there is a linear thread to the story (which was more clear in the screenplay) I’ve sectioned the volumes off in such a way that you can really start at any point in the series and read them in whatever order you want. Because I had the screenplay as a launching place, I could drop in anywhere in the story and explore whatever I want, whenever I want. I feel no obligation to write and release the story in a particular order, because it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve actually modeled my approach to structure somewhat on the show Lost, in that I’ve got an A story and a B story. The A story is linear and happening “now” (or, in this case, in 1999) and the B stories take place in the individual character’s histories. The two stories work in tandem and inform each other, and hopefully keep the broader story moving. I’m a little loose with that structure, and not all of the volumes follow it, but that’s the basic approach I’m taking and it seems to be working. It gives me a chance to tell the story I wrote originally, while also fleshing out the characters and how they came to be where they are.

I’ve also got a few stories that I call “Sally Simpson” stories, that flip the script and take place from a victim’s perspective. It gives me a chance to step out of the drama of being a vampire and look at these characters as the monsters that they are. Regardless of their own experience and limited self-awareness, there’s no getting around the fact that to someone on the outside, vampires are scary as hell. They’re murderers and they’re walking corpses. It’s important to me, both as a writer and a fan of the genre, to reestablish the horror of the story every so often. I don’t want people to get too comfortable with these characters and forget that they are still horrible monsters. The Sally Simpson stories are usually shorter (with the exception of Bette, which follows a character based heavily on Elizabeth Short, the victim in the Black Dahlia murder, and is one of the longest volumes) and I’ve made them free in most formats. I like to think of them as introductions to the characters.

Just as a side note, I call them Sally Simpson stories because of the song Sally Simpson by The Who. The album Tommy is one long story and follows a few key characters. Then at one point on the second half of disk two, there’s a song called Sally Simpson that is from the perspective of a teenage girl going to see the main character perform at a show. It’s a clever way to take us out of the story and give us a perspective on what’s happening from the ground and I’ve always loved it.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I would want to read. I write as honestly as I can, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t working out some personal issues through these stories. Vampires are a good, malleable material for pounding out some of the pain that life puts us through. There are definite themes in all of my stories that directly relate to personal tragedy. I try not to saturate the stories with it, but it’s there. I have to assume that’s true of all writers. Anne Rice wrote Interview With the Vampire after watching her four year old daughter die of cancer. You might not know that reading the book, but once you do know that, it’s impossible not to see that pain all through that story.

While I’m not looking to explain away the various themes that show up in Bloodletting, there is definitely some pain being worked through. Some of it was there when I wrote the screenplay, but most of it is coming out in the writing now. I don’t fight it and I don’t consciously put it in there, but it shows up when it shows up.

And it’s not all tragedy either. Obviously any writer’s life experience and unique perspective will come through in their work. My stories are about a lot things that interest me, and often I’m working out my own perspective on the world and life and death and sex and relationships.

Also, I write what I write because I feel like the genre needs it. Maybe that’s presumptuous, but I know that I’m not finding the vampire stories that I want to read in books or movies at the moment. I’m not saying all other vampire stories are bad, it’s just not really what I’m looking for, so I made my own.

Lastly, one of the main reasons I’m writing Bloodletting specifically is because I feel like vampire stories have almost always had a theme of male dominance. Starting right at the big daddy, Dracula and forward, vampire stories have pretty consistently been about the ways that men abuse women. Whether it’s psychologically or outright physically, there’s a male dominant, rapey quality to vampires that is frankly boring to me, if only because it’s SO prevalent. So I write predominantly about female vampires and I try to write those female characters as honestly as I can. There’s still a sexually violent element to the stories (it’s virtually impossible divorce the concept of vampires and sexual violence, and I’m okay with that) and much of the stories center on power dynamics, but I don’t want that to be the core of it, as it seems to be in a lot of other vampire stories. I specifically took sex out of the equation for that reason. My vampires don’t have sex. My vampires, biologically, don’t reproduce through sex, so they have no natural sex drive. By taking sex as a motivation away, it frees my characters up to explore the other aspects of being a vampire and relating to other vampires (and non-vampires) without the baggage of sex.

That said, because the individual stories often cover how my characters came to be vampires, there is a sexual component to the stories, often before they became vampires. There are other ways sexuality comes into play as well. I’m not saying my stories are devoid of sexuality. There’s plenty of sexuality sprinkled through the stories, I’ve just taken sex as a motivator out of the equation. Specifically, I’ve taken most of the romance out of it.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not even positive it DOES work :)

Basically I’ve got the original screenplay, but I very rarely reference it directly anymore. Elements of the story have changed dramatically as I’ve written out as fiction. Originally I put myself onto a strict bi-weekly schedule, and that worked for a while, but I found that I was rushing myself and the writing was suffering because of it. So now I write them as they come. I try to force myself to write for a few hours a day, sometimes as much as five or six, but that doesn’t always work out. I’m terrible with structure and that’s completely my own fault.

I seem to do my most prolific writing between 10pm and 2am, which probably isn’t the healthiest way to live, but that’s how it’s worked out. I’d like to force myself to write during the day and get onto a more adult sleep/work schedule, but we’re not quite there yet.

I make my own covers, so a lot of the time if the writing isn’t coming, I’ll take a break and work on the cover for whatever story I’m writing. There have been times where I’ve actually adjusted characters and story elements based on things I’ve thought of while making covers. I actually changed one character dramatically based on the photograph I used to represent them on a cover. That was a change that ended up making that character significantly more interesting to me.

Because I’m writing short stories and novellas (usually each volume is between 11k and 24k words, with the longest clocking in 46k words) I usually tend to just write and write until I feel like I can package it into a self-contained story and then I’ll go back and edit two or three times. I also typically reread as I write. Because they’re fairly short, I’ll go back and reread what I’ve written of whatever story I’m working on before starting for the night, and I frequently make changes and edits as I go. For the last two or three stories, I’ve had a friend that’s offered to edit for me as a second pair of eyes, which helps dramatically. I’m terrible with spelling and grammar and often miss obvious problems on my own. I’ve got a second friend who’s also offered to beta-read for me and do some editing, which I’m excited for. The more help I can get the better.

Ultimately, when the story is finished, I plan to compile the entire thing into larger volumes, or possible one big book. I haven’t decided yet. In that process, I will likely overhaul a few things to help the story function as a novel rather than a series of individual shorts. That may result in story changes and structure changes, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Final thoughts . . .

Bloodletting is a passion project that has been in development for over (I just did the math) 20 years. I started developing the characters when I was 16 and have been building this story in chunks and pieces since. A various points it’s been a screenplay, a comic book and now a serialized novel. I feel like I’ve finally found the right format to tell this story and get everything I love about it out to an audience. The serialized volumes format has its challenges, but now that I’ve started, I have to finish it. I know where the story is going, and even though it’s changed dramatically in some ways, and much of it is new material that’s come through this process, it’s something I have to see through to the end.

I’ve got other stories and other ideas, but I’m deeply entrenched in this one, and I hope that comes through in the writing. I love these characters and I’m eager to see how the story falls into place and where it takes turns that even I don’t expect. That’s the beauty of not having to keep my story under 120 screenplay pages, I can take the story in as many weird directions as I want. That’s very exciting for me.


Now, originally I had a couple of people lined up to continue the blog tour, but unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances, both have dropped out. So… yeah. Unfortunately my interview is something of a dead end :/ Sorry about that.

book1Katrina Rasbold has provided insightful, accurate and helpful life path consultations to clients for over thirty years.  She has worked with teachers and mentors all over the world, including three years of training in England and two years of practice in the Marianas Islands.  A lively and articulate instructor, Katrina is available for workshops, individual classes and speaking engagements tailored to fit the needs of her students and clients. She is a professional life coach who holds a Ph.D in Religion with a minor in Psychology.   She and her husband, Eric, are co-creators of CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway), a program designed to manifest positive, long term life changes by following the ancient agricultural cycles throughout the year.  Katrina has written twenty-three books, all of which are available through www.rasboldink.com and www.amazon.com <<…>> Her popular blog is at www.katrinarasbold.com.

The Door

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Being dead isn’t as exciting as you’d think. Mostly it’s a lot of sitting around. Doing the same thing over and over again. It’s actually a lot like being alive, but you don’t have that ticking clock, so there’s very little incentive to do anything except hunger and boredom. Sure, we get up to a lot of the same things a living person might. We go to movies, we listen to music, read books. We drive cars and have conversations. Believe it or not, even when you live for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, there’s still usually something worth talking about. Some banal bit of gossip or culture.

The problem is that without the expiry-date, it’s hard to get motivated to keep moving. So you grow stagnant. You fall into ruts, pacing in circles and getting lost in the familiarity of routine. Maybe you want to see the world, and maybe you have already, but when? Next week? Why not next year? Next decade? Perhaps visiting Paris or Rome or Egypt doesn’t have the same appeal it did a hundred years ago. Rarely do places get more interesting as they age. The fetishisation of history falls away when you were actually there when it was good. Especially when you didn’t think it was all that great then either. The stink of human waste has a way of coloring a cultural experience. One might long for a trip to see Israel but worry that it’s a dangerous time for that part of the world. Except that it’s always been a dangerous time for that part of the world, and it has been for centuries and will continue to be. Besides, who cares? Another crumbling country built on the ruins of a crumbling country. Built up by men and torn down by those same men in wars they don’t know why they’re fighting. It’s the same as most places. Cities built up, cities burned down. After a few hundred years, it stops being interesting.

In order to find anything surprising or engaging, one must retreat inward. Explore that which makes us what we are. It often takes a few generations before our kind discovers the exhilarating and terrifying depths at the core of our being. One might be inclined to call this kind of self-exploration a spiritual or religious journey, but that’s not it at all. The thing that people call the “soul” or “God” or whatever fairy tale they need to believe to sleep at night has nothing to do with it. The fact of the matter is that at our core (literally and figuratively) rests a doorway to an unwritten history and knowledge that is completely unknowable to those without the means to open it. Hell, most of us don’t even know it’s there. Those who do know only poke at the edges and press our ears to the cold, dense surface.

I know it’s there, and I’ve peered under the crack and seen the pulsating and swirling lights. Taken in the colors of another universe, seeping into my brain and refusing to take hold because they’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A spectrum that doesn’t register in our brain. I’ve heard the whispering behind the lights. A deep rumble that is neither language or decipherable thought, but a deep base level intention. Part of me wants to throw the door open and announce my presence and demand an answer, but I know that’s not wise or even possible. I don’t even know what the question is, and I’m certain I wouldn’t understand the answer if one was given.

An answer would not be given. That old metaphor of the ant under your foot may come to mind, but that doesn’t begin to adequately explain it. It’s more like bacteria or a microbe flowing through the blood of a chimpanzee. All the drama and excitement of an army of white blood-cells attacking an invading virus means nothing to a chimp with a cold. All they know is they’ve got a head full of snot and an annoying cough. That ape may evolve into a thinking animal. It might one day build a microscope to peer down at the invading virus with the contemptuous, clinical eye of a scientist, but it certainly wouldn’t condescend to engage that microscopic annoyance in conversation. It’s not a spiritual or religious exchange. The primate is not a god to the virus. They are incomprehensible to each other.

Occasionally, always unexpectedly, you may feel their eye on you. Especially when feeding. The being at your core will get excited and eager, and a little of that light might spill out from under the door. It’s those moments that make being what we are worth continuing. The mystery of it. The horrifying truth of us. Knowing that they’re there, stomping around, carrying us through the cosmos in their wake as they go about whatever it is they do. The thing it is that makes us what we are, starts with them. To even know that they’re there is a reason wake up and keep doing it. To keep splashing blood across the doorway, because they demand it.

Perhaps it is not entirely unlike a religion after all. The difference is that I know it’s true. I’ve seen it, and I don’t have a choice.

Victoria 2.2 is coming along

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This has definitely been the most challenging story so far, both because it requires the most research I’ve had to do and also because the events that transpire in it will impact the rest of the story in a huge way. So I’m being extra careful with this one, and it’s taking me a while longer. That said, I am slowly but surely making my way through it. More Vickie, more Jack, some new characters, and one character in particular that’s been lurking behind the scenes finally makes an appearance.

stuff I researched while writing

Mitre Square (Where the body of Catherine Eddowes, the forth Ripper victim, was found)
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Fuel Injection (just general information. Mostly started in the early ‘80s)

The Monkees song Randy Scouse Git (written by Micky Dolenz about a party The Monkees went to thrown by The Beatles. It’s got the lines: Why don’t you be like me? Why don’t you stop and see? Why don’t you hate who I hate, Kill who I kill to be free?)

The entomology of the word “pig” in reference to police (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2209/why-are-the-police-called-cops-pigs-or-the-fuzz)

How did the police in Victorian London move prisoners around? (in the obvious way: a horse drawn wagon)

the Contagious Diseases Acts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contagious_Diseases_Acts “The Act of 1864 stated that women found to be infected could be interned in locked hospitals for up to three months, a period gradually extended to one year with the 1869 Act. These measures were justified by medical and military officials as the most effective method to shield men from venereal disease.”)

Detectives in the Jack the Ripper case (http://www.jack-the-ripper.org/jack-the-ripper-police-officers.htm)

Capital Punishment in Victorian England (hanging. Fairly regular apparently. http://vcp.e2bn.org/justice/page11359-types-of-punishment-hanging.html It was public hanging until 1868)

Insane Asylums in London (Bedlam, aka Bethlem Royal Hospital. Apparently by the 1880s, they’d pretty much stopped being a horror house of torture and gross negligence, which isn’t particularly helpful for my story. At least the ones I’m reading about in London. In America, most of them were full on nightmare material until well into the 1960s)
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Victorian London Drunk Tanks (Having trouble with this one. There was some controversy recently when England privatized drunk tanks, so everything I’ve found when researching has pretty much been related to that)

Baby Farming (grizzly shit)

Whether or not there was a reward offered for information that lead to the arrest of Jack the Ripper (not officially, but there were private citizens who offered rewards and apparently one for £500 put up by the “Lord Mayor of the City of London” whatever that is)

WTF is a Lord Mayor of the City of London? (Not an actual mayor. Seems to be a mostly useless ceremonial and diplomatic position. A kind of mascot for the city.)

What’s the inflation on £500 in 1888? (according to this site (which only lets you start at the year 1900, but that’s close enough) £500 would be worth £53,659 today, which is about $90k US. That’s a grip of money. I’m considering making the reward larger, for literary license purposes)

The Louisiana Purchase (Fuckin’ Napoleon. I didn’t know that at the time, Louisiana was like, the whole middle of the country. I was always confused about it actually, because I was like “Why are they so keen to buy Louisiana. It’s not THAT great.” I didn’t go to high school, alright?)

Louisiana Plantations (just dates and general information)

Slavery in America (wandered down a wikipedia rabbit hole. Slavery was pretty fucked up. Go figure.)

Lipstick in the 1880s (lip rouge anyway. “As the Victorian Age dawned, Queen Victoria publicly declared makeup “impolite,” and makeup became socially unacceptable for all but prostitutes and actresses.” Fair enough. Yay prostitutes!)

“The Tradesman’s Entrance” (Officially it’s exactly what it sounds like, a side or back door to a business or house where goods can be delivered out of sight or staff can enter or leave. Unofficially it means something else entirely. I’ll say that I learned about it as a phrase when Sinead O’Connor was having her online meltdown and was going on about how she would have let Adam Clayton (bass player for U2) in the tradesmen’s entrance if he’d been so inclined.)

Streets and landmarks around where the Ripper murders happened (settled on Christ’s Church Spitalfields on Commercial Street)

Stuff I researched while writing

Going away for a week-ish, so I thought I’d post what I’ve got so far of the next “stuff I researched while writing.” Victoria 2.2 is coming along well, and I hope to be able to work on it here and there while I’m gone. I expect to have it done by the end of the month, but no promises.

on to it:

Lovecraftian horror and Cosmicism (I’ve been a fan of HP Lovecraft since I was a kid, and I’ve been looking for a mechanism to bring it into the stories. I’ve found it. Yay!)
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Where homeless people slept in Victorian, London (apparently the lucky ones could find shelter in workhouses, where they could do some horrible menial task in exchange for sharing a filthy mat on the floor among a bunch of other filthy mats)

(fucking gnarly. Read this: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Whitechapel/

When British people started yelling “oi!” at each other (not until the 1950s)

Wealthier areas in Victorian London (decided on Knightsbridge, because it sounds cool and because of the Rolling Stones song Play With Fire)

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Gwendolyn Christie’s shoe size (Okay, this one requires some explanation. When I wrote the original screenplay that Bloodletting is based on, Vickie’s height was never mentioned. In the books, she’s unusually tall, and it’s an ongoing thing with her character, but that’s new to the books. The reason she’s so tall in the books is that when I first started writing her appearance in Devon I decided I needed to mentally cast an actor in the role. My brain went immediately to Gwendolyn Christie, who is best known for playing Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. She has this ability to be strikingly beautiful as well as powerful and world weary. Now, Gwendolyn Christie is 6’ 3”. I thought of her for reasons that have nothing to do with her size, but once I incorporated the idea that she was unusually tall in my head, it stuck, and I worked it into the character. I hit a point in my story recently where I needed to explain that Vickie has trouble finding shoes that fit, because of her unusual size, so I decided to see if Gwendolyn Christie’s shoe size was online. Simply because I have no idea what size shoe a 6’ 3” woman would wear. I ended up on some icky foot fetish site, got the information I needed and got the fuck out of there. Then I washed eyeballs with bleach and deleted my internet history. Anyway, that’s what happened there. For the record, it’s 12½)

Victorian Underwear (again. THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION. I already researched this once, but here we are again. Drawers.)

PJ Harvey (reasons. Secret reasons. I don’t have to tell you everything.)

The word “Cop” likely comes from “Constable On Patrol.” Now you know that.

Also, the term “flat fucking” means the same thing as “scissoring” and it’s been around since at least the 1880s

The term “Dilly-Boy” (young male prostitute. The “Dilly” part suggests that Piccadilly Circus was a place where one might find a young male prostitute)

When was Piccadilly Circus built? (1819. Hell yeah)

Needed to know what mental asylum would be the go-to reference among citizens in Whitechapel. (Settled on Bethlem, then fell down a twenty minute rabbit hole reading patient records from the 1880s. Amazing and horrifying)

History of the forward facing V hand sign (the non-American middle finger. Not before 1910ish. There’s some bullshit about the french cutting fingers off of British soldiers during the the Battle of Agincourt, but apparently that’s not true)

What were they drinking? (Gin. Lots of gin. England had major gin problems. It was like the crack of the 1800s)

A more specific definition of the word Entourage (I wanted to use it, but wasn’t sure how casual it was. I only wanted to use it if it could also be important sounding. “French, from Middle French, from entourer to surround, from entour around, from en in (from Latin in) + tour circuit — more at turn First Known Use: circa 1834.” Works for me)

Jewish people in Victorian London (The East End was full of em. There was a huge influx of immigrant Jews into London in the 1880s and they mostly landed in the East End. There were a lot of political and anti-semitic factors in the Jack the Ripper investigation, both by the public and Scotland Yard.)

Victoria 2.2

About 5k words into the new story. Turns out my computer crash/writing loss actually worked out pretty good, because I’m liking this different direction I’m taking the story far better.

I’ve also mostly decided on how far into the Victorian cockney street slang I’m willing to go. Basically I’m keeping it almost entirely to dialog, and I think there will always be enough context to figure most of it out. It’s definitely there, but I don’t think it’s going to be so complicated that it’s like, A Clockwork Orange level of work to get through it. I am trying to keep my language in the non-dialog writing as un-anachronistic as possible. For instance, at one point I used the word “handle” in place of “nickname” which wasn’t right for the time. So I changed it. I’m not TOO nitpicky about it, but I’m trying to keep it as nebulous as possible.

Speaking of nicknames, apparently pretty much everyone in The East End went by a nickname, so I’ve had a good time coming up with names for some of these hookers. Dry-Polly-Jean was one I particularly enjoyed. I hope they don’t find her Down by the Water. I hope I don’t hit every single one directly on the nose as well.

a bit of the first draft:

“What’d you see Geeza? You get around enough ya toffer,” Dry Polly asked her, wringing out a wad of gray looking drawers. The water ran foul and dark back into the trough that ran up the table. It contained the water and soap they were all using to wash the clothes. Once every half hour or so one of the attendants would come down with a pair of buckets and top it off with warm water from upstairs.

“I ain’t seen nothing,” Vickie said, glancing at Mary-Ellen. The fact was that Vickie hadn’t seen anything, but Mary-Ellen had. What Mary-Ellen had seen frightened her intensely and she’d confessed one night over wine exactly what it was, making Vickie promise not to repeat it.

“What about you Mary-Ellen?”

Mary stood for a moment, stammering.

“I haven’t — I never saw…”

“I did see one thing,” Vickie interrupted her. Dry-Polly-Jean looked back at Vickie.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yah, I seen a thing that scared me more than anything I ever seen before,” Vickie said, feigning sheepish fear.

“What’d you see, dilly-boy?” Polly asked, her hands on her hips. She saw through Vickie’s lie immediately. It wasn’t a surprise, as Vickie was grinning.

“Your stinking notch, you flat-fucking sappho!” Vickie blurted out. Dry-Polly gave her a look that said she wasn’t impressed. That was fine. Vickie wasn’t trying to impress her. She was trying to divert attention away from Mary-Ellen. It was something that she did most mornings since Mary-Ellen told her what she’d seen. Getting through the five hour laundry shift was challenging enough as it was. Doing it while constantly deflecting conversation away from Mary-Ellen, who was once often the subject of discussion herself, and a frequent participant. The way she’d withdrawn hadn’t gone unnoticed, and Vickie wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep the others at bay.

Stuff I researched while writing

The copyright status of this photo:

jean_ackermanbis_c_1920s_by_step_in_time_stock-d3e5y26

(The photo is from the ‘20s and is by Alfred Cheney Johnston of model/actress Jean Ackerman. From my reading, the copyright status on a lot of his photos is in dispute, but from what I can tell, this one appears to be in the public domain.)

Whether Salome lives in Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear. I can’t remember which one I ended up deciding on. (Lake Arrowhead. It’s about an hour and a half from Glendale, apparently, according to Google Maps)

Home ballrooms (sure. I imagined The Addams Family house from the movie, but that’s not what I’m actually writing it like)
Ballroom decoration

Dates of the ripper murders (August 31st 1888 – November 9 1888 for the canonical 5)

What opium smoke smells like (flowery and burn-y, but it doesn’t matter because I found out that Opium wasn’t actually smoked by anyone until relatively recently, and apparently not in ancient Rome, which is when I planned on having it smoked. Hookahs weren’t even invented until the 1500s. So wtf did ancient Romans do to get baked? I don’t want to hear “drinking wine” either because that’s boring)

WTF did ancient Romans do to get baked? (fucking hell, it looks like wine is the way to go. I guess opium was around and in use, but mainly for straight up medical reasons rather than recreational. Stupid practical Romans. So I need to go another way. I guess they did occasionally drink it IN their wine, along with all sorts of other herbal hallucinogens. They weren’t apposed to getting fucked up, they just weren’t big smokers)

More Cockney Rhyming Slang (as well as general London/Brit language differences. I have to really decide just how much I’m willing to commit to it. From what I’m reading, street people in Victorian London basically spoke a foreign language. Do I go full on Clockwork Orange and force readers to figure it out? Or do I simplify it a bit for the sake of easier reading?)

The Surname “Winfield” (In the first Jack story, I gave Victoria the last name Winfield because it sounded solid, kind of British and reminded me of Renfeld. As I was writing tonight, it occurred to me that I should probably actually look up where that name originated and if it was even a realistic name for someone in England in the 1880s. Boom! Nailed that shit)

Even more Cockney Rhyming Slang, as well as Polari and other LGBT terminology (needed to come up with a nickname. An hour later and I think I’ve decided. Got it sorted, proper)

Schools in Victorian England (nope. Not for girls. Too bad, ladies)

Changing the transmission fluid in an older car (it can be done at home with some basic knowhow and tools, but it’s not as simple as changing the oil)

When they started putting computers in cars (early eighties. I also needed to figure out what those early computers did. Regulated timing, fuel flow, spark advance, that sort of thing)

Specifically when they started putting computers in the Oldsmobile Delta 88 (1981)

MacArthur Park (Mostly just how far it is from a conceivable venue for a rock band. Too far for walking, so I’m changing the story to fit the location. Thank you Anthony Kiedis for the inspiration)
under

What heroin tastes like (depends on the heroin, but apparently vinegary is pretty common. Also thank you Anthony Kiedis. Good job on staying sober! Thumbs up! Glad to have you with us)

Smashwords

So I’ve decided to put the books up Smashwords. No reason not to now that they’re up on Kobo and I’m no longer exclusive with Amazon. They’re available in all formats at a “Set your own price” deal.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/13227

Bloodletting: A Vampire Story

A series by Joe Humphrey

Bloodletting: Book 0 – Patricia

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 9,120. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Bloodletting: Book 0 follows Patricia, a socialite and sociopath as she discovers that hunting for blood can be more dangerous than she thought. Book 0 was originally meant to serve as the introduction to the Bloodletting series, but now exists as one of many possibly starting points.

Bloodletting: Book 1.1 – Charlie

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 14,830. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

This is the first book in the Charlie storyline. It was actually one of the first things I wrote in the Bloodletting series. It follows Charlie, a teenage girl running away from home in 1970, and the various strange and often unpleasant characters she meets, including a strange woman named Caroline.

Bloodletting: Book 1.2 – Charlie

By Joe Humphrey
You set the price! Words: 12,750. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Book 1.2 drops us right in the middle of the long and painful journey of Charlie, one of our main vampire characters, before her transition into the world of the undead. It’s 1972 and something terrible has happened to Charlie.

Bloodletting: Book 1.3 – Charlie

By Joe Humphrey
You set the price! Words: 14,130. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

In Book 1.3 Charlie, a 16 year old girl pushed to her breaking point is saved by Caroline, the ethereal and strange woman she thinks of as her guardian angel. Charlie soon discovers there’s a much darker side to Caroline when she presents her with the gift of immortality, but at what cost?

Bloodletting: Book 2.0 – Devon

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 7,480. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Book 2.0 of the Bloodletting series. Devon is an asexual male prostitute, looking for a nice, peaceful night dancing at the club. He never expected to run into a monster.

Bloodletting: Book 2.1 – Victoria

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 13,260. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

In Book 2.1 we get to know Victoria, the older vampire of the group. Originally from Victorian London, Vickie is struggling to cope with the rapidly changing vampire world. As the chaos of a night hunting gone wrong unfolds, she reflects on where she’s been and where they’re going. It’s a reflective story that explores the social politics of the vampires in The Bloodletting series.

Bloodletting: Book 3.1 – Danny

By Joe Humphrey
You set the price! Words: 19,130. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

The beginning of book 3, and the real introduction of Danny, the mentally deranged failed experiment of vampires Charlie and Vickie. Danny is far more disturbed and broken than any of the undead characters we’ve met so far, and this is only the beginning of her very intense, unsettling journey.

Bloodletting: Book 3.2 – Danny

By Joe Humphrey
You set the price! Words: 14,560. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Danny is an experiment in human psychosis. Push to her limit to appease a few of curious vampires, the end result is far more disturbing than they ever expected. The line between the past and present is blurred as Danny recalls how she was taken captive by the vampires.

Bloodletting: Book 4.0 – Bette

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 23,210. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Book 4.0 follows Bette, an aspiring actress in the 1940s as she tries to find her place in the unforgiving and cruel world of Hollywood. When she meets up with friends who aren’t what they seem, bad turns to worse.

Bloodletting: Book 4.1 – Jack

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 12,180. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Book 4.1 We meet Jack, a vampire and serial killer from Victorian London as he is reintroduced into the world after a 50 year punishment. He wakes to find himself in a new century and a new country with the world at his fingertips.

The Death Game: Caroline and Charlie

By Joe Humphrey
Series: Bloodletting: A Vampire Story. You set the price! Words: 45,880. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

When you can live forever and recover for just about any injury, it becomes increasingly difficult to entertain yourself. That’s why two vampires living in Flagstaff, Arizona in the 1970s spend their free time figuring out increasingly more creative ways to kill themselves.

The erotica book is up there as well. I’m actually charging for that one, just because I want to.

Bride: Part One – A New World of Gods and Monsters

By J.H.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 26,140. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2014 by J. Humphrey. Category: Fiction

Created as a companion for a monstrous man that shouldn’t be. The setup is familiar, but perhaps not the perspective we’ve seen before.

Victoria 2.2 coming soon!

Victoria22

The day Vickie first met Salome, she was running down the street and her skin was melting. She had no idea what was happening or why blisters were swelling and bursting in wet splats all over her body. The horror and pain of the experience sent her careening through the crowded sidewalk, screaming and clutching her face, which was coming off in sloppy chunks in her hands.

Huge arms wrapped around her from behind and a burlap sack dropped over her head. Her stomach turned as she was lifted into the air and carried. It was hard to get a handle on exactly what was happening to her when her focus was fixed so firmly on the fact that her flesh was literally boiling off of her bones.

By the time she was tossed unceremoniously onto a wooden floor, her voice had blown out and the only sound coming from her body were the wheeze of her empty screaming and the dripping of her melting flesh. Somehow, through the terror and pain, she understood that she was kneeling on the floor of a carriage and that there was a bag covering her upper body. The bouncing and rocking of the carriage kept her off balance, so all she could do was crouch on the floor and try not to engage with the world.

A voice drifted through the burlap and into her ears.

“I’m going to remove the sack. It may be painful, but not for long.”

She was unable to open her eyes because the lids were melted together, but she felt the cold rush of air and the rub of the fabric as the bag was pulled from her body.

“Hello Victoria. I know you can’t see me right now. Take my hand.”

The voice was calming, and even though she was in the worst pain of her life, something about the woman’s voice made her close her mouth and listen. When she felt a cold hand wrap around wrist, she tried to press herself toward the body attached to it.

A desperate need inside her insisted that she stay close to whoever was helping her. She was so scared and hurt so bad and she didn’t understand why, yet somehow she knew it would be okay as long as whoever owned that icy hand was there to take care of her.

“Hold still. This will hurt but I promise you will feel better soon,” the voice said to her, and again she was struck with an innate sense of trust, which was something that didn’t come natural to Vickie.

Something cold and hard pressed against her lips and she had just enough time to realize that they were fused together before the blade parted them again. She tried to scream, but her voice was gone. When she opened her mouth, cold, salty fluid pattered onto her tongue.

The need to scream fell away as the liquid coated the inside of her mouth and tongue. It had the rotten, fruity flavor of rich wine and an undercurrent of something poisonous. As the taste filled her head, she felt herself fall through the floor into a blind, drunken swoon.