Tag Archives: occult

Release Day for “Murderous Requiem”!

MurderousRequieum_ORIGMurderous Requiem has been released!

It is now available for purchase at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

Over at MM Good Book Reviews, it’s received 4 out of 5 stars!  “The mystery and suspense are good and leaves a thread of tension throughout the book. There’s death and betrayal, love and hope and occult dealings. I actually think this is an intriguing story that shows a ‘whiter’ or good side to the occult. It has informative information and you can see that the author has done a lot of research.  I will recommend this to those who love mystery and suspense, occult dealings, twists, betrayal, underhand dealings, murder and manipulation and a happy for them ending.”

Here’s the Blurb:

Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant. 

Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.

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Final Cover Design for Murderous Requiem!

MurderousRequieum_ORIGI just received the finalized design of the cover for Murderous Requiem!

This was created by Brooke Albrecht, whom I’ve never worked with before, but the design came out beautiful and I love it!

We don’t have a firm release date for the novel yet, but I’m told it might be some time in April.

EDIT:  The cover design was just modified slightly, so I’ve uploaded it again.  Originally, the characters in the center spelled out the Tibetan prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, but that wasn’t really appropriate to a story about ceremonial magicians.  So it was replaced with Enochian letters, which is the magical language the characters work with in the novel.  The letters spell out the word Requiem.

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The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

Last week, fellow author Cate Ashwood tagged me on her blog as part of her Next Big Thing, so now it’s my turn to post my latest project and then pass the baton to another author.  So here’s what I’m working on:

The Next Big Thing

What is the title of your book?

Murderous Requiem

How did you come by the idea?

I was inspired by a number of different things, including The DaVinci Code (the book and the film), some books I bought years ago on Marsilio Ficino (a Renaissance magician, doctor, and musician who believed that music could heal the body), my interest in Norse mythology, Alfred Hitchcock films like The Birds, and murder mysteries like And Then There Were None.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal/Occult Mystery

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?

Three Characters

I’m not really sure I can pick actors, apart from perhaps Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire as Bowyn.  I did find pictures online that captured what I imagined.  From left to right, these would be Jeremy and Bowyn, the two love interests in the novel, and the enigmatic playboy, Rafe.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Renaissance music expert, Jeremy Spencer, is dragged back into the occult commune that he co-founded years ago with his ex-boyfriend, Bowyn Clarke, in order to transcribe an ancient manuscript, but he soon discovers the Temple holds dangers beyond stirring up old feelings he isn’t sure how to deal with — the manuscript contains a dark secret that somebody is willing to kill for.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?

It will be published by Dreamspinner Press in eBook and paperback.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hard to say, because I don’t always write a complete first draft before going back and rewriting, especially in something this tightly plotted.  I went back over the first half several times before I wrote the second half.  From beginning to finally having a complete story in my hands was probably a little over a  year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s a bit like The DaVinci Code, though there is considerably less running around.  It all takes place in one location.  I’m not sure which M/M novels it might compare to.  (EDIT –12/31/2012:  I am now reading a book by Shelter Somerset called The Rule of Sebastian, which I wasn’t aware of when I first wrote this post.  It has a very similar feel to Murderous Requiem, though it’s much more of a murder mystery than Requiem is.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I suspect I’ll be able to give it a good recommendation when I have.)

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

To put this mystery together, I drew from a number of sources:  the writings of Marsilio Ficino, alchemy, the life of John Dee, Enochian, ceremonial magick, Aleister Crowley and his occult order, the O.T.O.  I also blended in some horror elements to give the mystery a creepy feel.

So that’s my Next Big Thing.  The writers I’m tagging for next week are:

Lou Sylvre on December 25th

Jana Denardo on December 26th

Zahra Owens on December 26th

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“Murderous Requiem” has been contracted!

Murderous RequiemSounds a bit like a disease, doesn’t it?  But no.  I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my occult mystery novel, Murderous Requiem!

As anyone who’s been following my blog or facebook page knows, I’ve been fretting about the marketability of this book for a long, long time.  It has a lot of sex, some of it rather raunchy, and more importantly a lot of occult information concerning ceremonial magick that could make some readers uncomfortable.  There is a romance between the main character and his ex-boyfriend, but since they’re in a sort of “free-love” commune environment, they have sex with other people while they’re working things out with each other.  Some readers don’t like that.  There are also some parts that cross over into horror.

I wasn’t sure if Dreamspinner would like it, because it doesn’t fit the classic romance model.  But they publish a wide variety of stories, so it was worth submitting it to them to see.  And now I have a contract!  Yay!

No info on a release date at this stage, but I’ll let everyone know when I have something.  Incidentally, the “cover” design to the left isn’t official and definitely won’t be the cover.  I cobbled that together from pictures I found on the Internet and used it as my “cover” for NaNoWriMo a couple years ago.

In related news, I did not win NaNoWriMo this year.  I didn’t even come close.  But I did get a start on my YA novel, Dreams of Fire and Gods book three, and re-wrote the ending of Dreams of Fire and Gods book two.  Trust me, the new ending is infinitely better than it was when I submitted it.  I’m very lucky that my publisher was understanding enough to humor me, when I asked her if I could resubmit the epilogue after we’d already signed the contract.  I also finished most of the edits on Dreams of Fire and Gods book one — we’re at the galley proof stage now.  That one will be released through Harmony Ink Press on December 15th.

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“Murderous Requiem” is finished and submitted!

I decided it was finally time to wrap this one up and get it out the door, so I gathered all of the notes I’d gotten from various beta readers and spent about a week and a half polishing.  As usual, the hardest part was writing the summary.  I loathe summaries.  Somehow you’re supposed to summarize the entire novel in one page.  I’ve never managed less than two pages.  And they’re usually awkwardly written.

Yes, I know I’m a writer and a writer should be capable of writing a one-page summary without collapsing into a gibbering, sobbing heap.  But I still have trouble with them, and judging from comments made by other writers I chat with, I’m not alone.

I’ve been talking on and off about changing the name from Murderous Requiem to something else, since the piece of music in the novel ended up being a standard mass, rather than a requiem.  But though a number of people offered good suggestions, none of them seemed quite right.  I considered Missa Mortis (Mass of the Dead), but rejected it because I didn’t think a Latin title would be well-received and the English translation felt weak.  I tried several others, but my husband finally just said, “I still think Murderous Requiem is good.”  So screw it.  The novel is a murder mystery involving a piece of music that may or may not be capable of raising the dead.  Murderous Requiem it is.

The next question is, will Dreamspinner Press be interested in it?  I’ve sent them stories that I felt were really something they’d be interested in.  But this one?  I’m not sure.  I think it’s a good novel, and I think it’s got a decent romance at the core of it.  My beta readers had a lot of good things to say about it.  But I delve deeply into a subject that makes many people uncomfortable:  ceremonial magick.  And I do it in a realistic manner with considerable detail about preparation, methods, and the underlying belief system.  Then there’s the “free-love” environment.  M/M romance novels are often far raunchier than I tend to write, of course.  But the idea of the two heroes participating in that kind of thing will probably put some readers off.

So we’ll see what the editors have to say about it.

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The First Draft of Murderous Requiem is Finished!

Okay, it’s actually been finished for a few weeks, but I’ve been so busy with other stuff, I haven’t really talked about it.

The first reports back from beta readers indicate I may have something here.  I was told that it hooked them and carried them right through the story and the occult stuff was really creepy and interesting.  Score!

There have been criticisms, of course.  The beginning may throw the reader into a bizarre environment (called “the Temple” — sort of a free-love, occult commune) a bit abruptly without giving her or him time to get used to the idea.  Additionally, some of the occult information is imparted in big wads of text that would be better served by dialog, perhaps.   And my husband, Erich, felt that adding one or two characters with speaking parts might serve to increase the impression of the Temple being a busy place with a lot of people, and could also divert suspicion from the obvious “suspects.”  (As a “murder mystery,” the ending is a bit too obvious, perhaps, but the story apparently works well on other levels.)

Two things that gave everyone pause:  the  sexual acrobatics and the open relationship between Jeremy (the viewpoint character) and his love interest, Bowyn.

Sexual acrobatics…well, I set out to write a novel that takes place in a free-love commune.  It was deliberately designed to provide me with a lot of opportunities for casual sex between the characters.  Nobody has complained about that, specifically, but there’s one scene that gets pretty kinky, and it’s been raising some eyebrows.  When I ask, “Should I change it?” I invariably get a response along the lines of, “I’m not sure….”  Nobody is certain whether it pushes the boundary too far, or just enough to be vaguely uncomfortable.

That’s something I might run by my publisher.  The scene doesn’t technically violate their submission standards (or the standards of most publishers of M/M erotic stories), but they know what they’re comfortable with.

The open relationship might be a bigger issue.

I believe in open relationships.  Several of my friends have been in “poly” relationships and they seem perfectly happy, or at least as happy as anybody else.  True, sometimes poly relationships blow up or otherwise disintegrate due to jealousy or for other reasons, but so do monogamous relationships.  In my story, Jeremy realizes that the poly relationship he had with Bowyn eight years ago fell apart because he (Jeremy) was too jealous of Bowyn showing affection for one of their mutual friends.  He was fine with Bowyn sleeping with other men.  But he couldn’t handle Bowyn loving anybody but Jeremy.

Jeremy and Bowyn end up deciding that they need to be together.  And for that to work, they need for their love to be exclusive.  But the possibility of casual sex with other men now and then isn’t completely eliminated, due to the situation.  This, to me, is a perfectly good solution and a happy ending for the romance.  Unfortunately, a lot of romance readers would probably disagree.  For them, the only happy ending is a monogamous (emotionally AND sexually) ending.  It’s possible to have a threesome, of course, but even then, most readers would prefer that all three people involved be monogamous to that relationship.

Should I change it?  I don’t know.  This isn’t as simple as modifying one scene to remove some kinky sex.  Two men who co-founded a “sex cult” aren’t just going to decide casual sex is “bad.”  They don’t think it’s bad.  For them to suddenly decide to put that life completely behind them and start over as a traditionally monogamous couple living in suburbia in a house with a white picket fence…well, I can’t see that happening.  And I don’t think I could make it believable to readers.

So once again I find myself with a book that a lot of people tell me is really good…but they don’t think it will have broad audience appeal.

The story of my (writing) life.

Incidentally, I have to change the title.  It’s no longer about a requiem — it’s about a mass.  But Murderous Mass would be a terrible title….

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We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Murder

I’ve made significant progress on my psychological contemporary, but at nearly 40,000 words, I’ve decided I need a short break from it.  I have plenty of other novels to finish up, including parts two and three of my cyberpunk story (the one that began with The Dogs of Cyberwar) and the occult murder mystery I’ve been working on for a bit over a year now.  (I started it as a NaNoWriMo project two Novembers ago.)

The Dogs of Cyberwar certainly needs to be finished, but I’m only about a third of the way through Part Two right now, whereas Murderous Requiem is nearly finished.  I picked it up this afternoon and I’ve written half of the climactic scene already!  At this rate, I suspect I’ll be finished with the first draft in a few days.

Finally!

The next step will be to have some people read it and see if the “mystery” part of it works.  I’m somewhat skeptical, but I can’t really judge, because I always think my plot surprises are too obvious.  Many readers tell me that isn’t the case, but some do figure things out early on.  So I really have no idea.

This story is a weird one.  I was kind of going for a Da Vinci Code-style occult mystery with ancient manuscripts and occult mysteries, but less of a thriller and more of an everyone-trapped-in-a-house type of mystery.  I also wanted to throw in a bit of the paranormal.  Not everything turns out to be Old Mr. Johnson in a rubber mask.

The last time I read through the manuscript, I was actually disappointed at how little of the occult mystery was coming through.  It needed more piecing together of hints in 15th-century grimoires.  Everything seemed too easy and straightforward.  Of course, if you go too far the other way, it becomes a boring treatise on Renaissance occult theory.  You have to strike a balance.

So after my readers get through with it and hopefully report back that they were not bored to tears, I need to go through the occult bits and pieces with a fine-toothed comb and make sure everything is consistent and holds together.

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