Monday, March 19, 2018

Oh, Hell!: 5 Devilishly Good Reads You Won't Be Able to Put Down

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret.

I love demons and The Devil.

Okay, not in a Hail Satan kinda way, but thematically! Not only is my current series about demons, but the very first book I ever wrote also focused on minions of Lucifer. I will unapologetically tell you that my favorite character on Supernatural is Crowley (Sam and Dean who?). And I mean, angels have cool wings, but who doesn't love a bad boy?

Not only that, but the plight of Lucifer and his minions is such an interesting one that I can't help but want to explore it in my own writing.

Today, I wanted to share with you my 5 favorite books about or featuring Hell, demons and even The Devil himself. Prepare yourself--it may get warm in here.

1. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

I cannot think of a single book that has had more influence on me than this one. Crowley (different one this time) has influenced just about every demon I've ever written. The idea that demons and angels are so interested in human culture and mankind is a concept that--I think, correct me if I'm wrong--was unique when the book came out almost 30 years ago, but it's a theme that thrives in the genre now. If you somehow have never read this book, it's about a boy, his dog, and an angel/demon team who aren't so keen on the idea of the Apocalypse.

And you should probably stop reading this post and go read the book now. Now. Even if you've read it before--read it again. I'll wait.

2. I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan

What if Lucifer came back to Earth to mingle with humans? If you're thinking about the TV show on Fox right now, you aren't even close. Duncan paints an extraordinarily sympathetic but brutal portrait of Hell's showrunner. Here, Luci inhabits the body of a recently-deceased author. Then, he runs amok. This is a pretty uncompromising book, but it's one of my favorites.

3. The Johannes Cabal Series by Jonathan L. Howard

I love this series more than life itself, and while Herr Cabal is often seen battling demons and even Satan (and his rather unimpressive replacement), one of my favorite characters in the series is a devil by the name of Madame Zareniya. She's a massive spider woman. She wears angora. She's just the cutest thing, and oh--did I mention she just loves murder? The entire series is worth your time, so please give it a look.

4. Paradise Lost by John Milton

this one is dense. All the same, I think this is an incredibly important piece of literature when considering the representation of Lucifer and demons in media. Lucifer here is depicted in the manner typically reserved for epic heroes. This work really shaped the way we view ol' Luci today, and I highly recommend giving it a look at least once.

Buy for Kindle Here

5. Lucifer's Odyssey by Rex Jameson

Similarly, there's Lucifer's Odyssey, a complex and well-written look at Lucifer and Jehovah that really breathes new life into Luci's story. It definitely draws from the themes in Paradise Lost, but is a very quick-paced and exciting read. I read this one a few years ago, and I really enjoyed it. I'm now discovering (as I poke around on Amazon) that it spawned a series! Apparently, Lucifer's Odyssey is Book 1 in the Primal Patterns series, so you better believe I'll be checking those out, as well.

There you have it! Five of my favorite books involving Hell, demons and Lucifer himself. What are your favorite books that feature Hellish themes?

Until next time!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Binding Dante Lovelace (+ Official Blurb!)

The process of creating Binding Dante Lovelace has been fraught with peril and tragedy that would make Mr. Lovelace himself quite proud.

Since beginning the draft in early 2017, I have encountered multiple deaths in my family, various hardships in the lives of those close to me, a sudden (and very necessary) move due to unfortunate circumstances, and about a dozen other minor inconveniences that--when stacked up--are more than a little annoying.

But here we are.

It was a rough year, to say the least. It wasn't always easy to keep working, but at the same time, I was able to publish The Last Temptations of Iago Wick and Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen. I love the apartment I moved into in June. I've been given so many new opportunities, and I'm thankful for that. It was a horrible and a wonderful year all at once.

And I was able to pull a new book out of it.

And now, that book has a blurb! Soon, it will have a release date, too, so watch this space. But for now, I'm happy to present the official blurb for Binding Dante Lovelace.

Dante Lovelace is not accustomed to waking up in unfamiliar beds... and he’s even less accustomed to working with witches.

Imagine his displeasure when both happen consecutively.

After being spirited away—ie. kidnapped—Dante finds himself at the mercy of Miss Beatrice Dickens, a witch and spiritualist who has placed a binding spell upon him to strengthen her own powers. As demons must, Dante begrudgingly surrenders to his fate but soon discovers the witch needs him for protection. Zero Bancroft, an uncommonly dangerous man, wants to release an uncommonly dangerous beast in Beatrice’s keeping: a soul-eater. It’s up to Dante and Beatrice to stop him.

If that weren’t enough, Dante must also contend with his partner, Iago Wick, who longs to defect and abandon his Hellish duties—and he wants Dante to follow. What’s a demon to do?

With some new companions (and a certain inventor) on their side, Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Wick must contend with magic, hunters, automatons, and even uncomfortable family reunions. Can they protect the world from Bancroft’s mad scheme, or is the Apocalypse just around the bend?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Art of Dying: Spooky Decor that Makes Dante's Black Heart Patter

While living and working in grim, macabre Marlowe, Massachusetts, Dante Lovelace keeps residence at a delightfully horrid little home at 13 Darke Street. Don't let its appearance fool you! The outside may seem pleasant enough, but within is his museum of death and destruction.

"... the home was a shiny red apple with a worm in the middle. Its interior decoration was far from pleasant. The skeleton of a raven under glass, a rather charming two-headed rat in a jar, dead flowers pressed in picture frames; it was the kind of art made of death that a demon such a Dante Lovelace could appreciate and even find inspirational. He enjoyed candlelight, which only added to the home's romantic gloom."
 -The Last Temptations of Iago Wick

And that's not even mentioning Montgomery, his large stuffed vulture perched over the fireplace.

Today, I wanted to share some of Pinterest's finest decor ideas that would made dear Mr. Lovelace swoon (and dear Mr. Wick cringe at his partner's spooky taste).


(Link-- This is Rest in Pieces in Richmond, VA. My sister says it's worth a visit!)





(Link-- This image heavily inspired the layout of Dante's parlor)

(Link--I can just see Iago reciting Shakespeare...)


(Link--I'll admit, this one is perhaps a bit campy, but I still think Mr. Lovelace would appreciate it.)

These pins and more can be found at The Lovelace & Wick Series Pinterest Board, a collection of grim decor, Victorian fashion, cake and all things spooky and steampunk. 

Do you enjoy injecting a little spookiness into your home decor? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

5 Romance Tips for All You Lovesick Demons Out There

If you follow me at all on social media, you know that I affectionately call Dante Lovelace and Iago Wick the “demon husbands.” There may be adventure and magic, cyborgs and witches, but at the heart of their series is a love story between two devilish gentlemen.

They’ve been together for over a century and a half at the time of the first book, and I have received word (as I am their only biographer) that Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Wick still live together to this very day. So, they must be doing something right.

We often think of supernatural creatures as detached, removed from the world, and emotionless. Not necessarily! They can be just as passionate as us, and perhaps there’s something we can learn from these amorous creatures. Fortunately, in my extensive research, I have encountered the very learning tool we need:

A Demon's Guide to Courting

Yes, really. Dear reader, would I lie to you?

And for those (un)lucky lovesick readers out there, I will now share some of the text of this romantic tome. After all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner! Keep in mind that unless you are a demon living in the nineteenth century, your mileage may vary. (If that describes you perfectly, however, do read on!)

Lesson the First: Nothing impresses more than a long litany of sin and woe! Tell your newfound love of all the havoc you have caused on Earth. Recall various disasters—remember that time with the nun and the lamplighter? Pure brilliance!

Lesson the Second: Take long walks by the river, and don’t forget to push in a human or two while you’re at it. Spontaneity is sure to make your love’s black heart patter.

Lesson the Third: Do not succumb to trends or fashion! A good traditional pitchfork or crag of brimstone are always suitable gifts to show the depth of your affection.

Lesson the Fourth: Good cologne or perfume is paramount for you and your love. Try a nice sandalwood to mask the ever-present scent of sulfur.

Lesson the Fifth: While love is a human indulgence we may enjoy, don’t forget! Our true purpose is to cheerfully collect the souls of the damned! Do this with a smile on your face, and a Hellish song in your heart, and surely you will lead a fulfilling existence on Earth.

There is, at this point, a nota bene added by the owner of the book. It reads:


Perhaps, Mr. Wick plays by his own rules. That certainly has been the case in other affairs, so why should those of the heart be any different?

So, go forth, lovebirds—armed with this newfound knowledge! (Just be careful around nuns and lamplighters.)


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Lesson in Listening to That Little Voice in Your Head + Announcement

Two weeks ago, I debuted the cover for Binding Dante Lovelace.

And it is a fine cover, to be sure.

... But there was always this little voice in the back of my head saying, "Jenny. Does that cover REALLY represent your genre? The theme of these books? The quirky tone?"

And I just kept ignoring that voice.

Note to self: don't ignore that voice.

Finally, over the last week, I let that little voice win. In truth, I was a bit perturbed that I didn't just listen to it in the first place, but this is one of the joys of being an indie author. We have complete creative control. I make my own covers, so I just dusted off my hands and said, "Back to the drawing board!"

I'll let readers in a little secret: my day job is marketing. And so, the idea of branding and identity and brand story are always rattling around in my mind, and I asked myself: "Jenny. What is your brand identity? Do your other covers convey that? Do they convey the theme?"

I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Long story short: Dante Lovelace was not the only book to get a cover overhaul.

Presenting: the new covers of The Lovelace & Wick Series!

Yes, even "Iago Wick & the Vampire Queen" got a makeover!

I am positively in love with these covers. They capture the dark humor and horror-historical-steampunk elements all at once. Keep an eye out--the website and the blog are getting a makeover, as well.

The manuscript for Binding Dante Lovelace is about to be sent to the proofreader. We're almost there! It will still come out the spring, and I am utterly thrilled to share it with you.

Whew! That was a humdinger of a week.

Until next time!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Piece of Cake!: A look at 19th century dessert recipes

Ready to have your cake and eat it, too?

In The Lovelace & Wick Series, Iago Wick is… well, more than a little enthusiastic about dessert. And because of his love of all things cake, I’ve found myself researching the kinds of recipes a gentleman demon might have sampled in the 19th century. And today, I’m going to share some with you.

Now, the Victorians may have been all about ornate dress and d├ęcor, but when it came to recipes, apparently brevity was the soul of deliciousness just as much as it was the soul of wit. Some of these recipes could occupy a single tweet with room to spare.

"The special ingredient is... arsenic!" 
(Side note: Outside the realm of dessert, one cookbook felt the need to include a recipe for lettuce sandwiches. It amounted to little more than, “Butter the bread, stack on some lettuce. Ta-dah!” Oh, where’s a bit of sriracha when you need it?)

We’ll start by taking a peek inside the pages of the Worcester Family Cook Book (1895):


Cream Almond Cake

1-2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Whites of four eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoonful baking powder
1-2 cup milk
1-2 teaspoonful almond flavor
Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, cream thoroughly, sift flour and baking powder together, add milk and flour alternately, add flavor, cut in stiff whites. Bake in two layers.

New York Gingerbread

2 cups sugar (molasses)
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoonfuls ginger
3 tablespoonfuls baking powder (or sour milk and 1 teaspoonful soda)
6 cups flour
1-2 teaspoonful salt

Cream butter and sugar, add well beaten yolks of eggs and molasses (sugar)[,] sift dry ingredients, lastly add well beaten whites of eggs. This rule makes two loaves.


Pretty brief, right? But nothing compares to the editing eye of Mrs. D. Schuneman, which is on display in the “cup cake” recipe bearing her name in The Church of the Good [Shepherd] Cook Book (1896).

Mrs. D. Schuneman’s Cup Cake

Two coffee cups of sugar, one of butter, one of cream, three of flour, four eggs, one small nutmeg, one teaspoonful of soda.

That’s the entire recipe. Mrs. Schuneman did not waste words, apparently.


In The Captain’s Lady Cookbook (1837-1917), Mrs. Ames Marriott gives us a change of pace. Not only does she give us a recipe titled “Cream Sponge Cake No. 1” without an obvious follow-up, she micromanages your time from beyond the grave.

“Cream Sponge Cake No. 1”

Beat 6 eggs 2 minutes.
Add 3 cups of fine white sugar
Beat 5 minutes.
2 cups of flour 2 teaspoonsful cream of tartar
Beat 2 minutes.
1 teaspoonful soda in one cup cold water
Beat 1 minute.
Add the juice 1 lemon or ½ rind grated.
2 cups flour
Beat 1 minute.
Observe this rule exactly and bake in two deep pans in a medium oven for precisely 1 hour.

Mrs. Marriott also gives us a brief peek into her personal life at the end of her recipe. She says, “I am cross-stitching a new sampler—Faith, Hope and Charity. Very nice but very tedious.”

Sorry, Mrs. Marriott. A demon such as Mr. Wick would be quite impressed with your meticulously crafted cake, but that sampler isn’t quite his taste.

Am I looking at desserts or hats?
These cookbooks and more can be found on The images are from the excellent And if you try to bake one of these, please let me know how it turns out. I’ll be sitting over here with my Oreos.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Romancing the Muse: Part One--The Importance of Writing Rituals

When someone says the word Muse, there are a few things which immediately come to mind. Either you think of Disney’s Hercules OR you think of the rock band, Muse, OR you think of some forlorn poet following his lady love, drawing upon her for inspiration.

My muse is none of these things (though I did go through a phase where I REALLY liked the band, Muse. I even named my cat after the lead singer, but we won’t go there.)

My muse is needy, but he’s fickle. He wants to play when I haven’t the time, and when I am ready to write, he’s often content to laze about. He follows me everywhere. He points at trees and buildings, objects and words. And he says, “Remember that, would you?” He’s also a shapeshifter, and in my mind’s eye, he frequently takes the shape of my current protagonist. (In the case of The Lovelace & Wick Series, it varies. Usually, the muse speaks in Mr. Wick’s voice, but recently Mr. Lovelace has had his say.) We have long conversations. We have eureka moments. We don’t always see eye to eye.

It’s complicated.

But at the end of the day, I know (and he knows) that I am his master. I’m the one in control.

Write that down, and never forget it: You are in control of your muse. You are in control of your craft.

Writers are not flotsam and jetsam, rolling about in the tide of our muse’s fancies. We have control. Yes, there are days that are more difficult than others. Words and inspiration don’t always want to cooperate, but never think that you don’t have the upper hand. You do.

Today we’re going to talk about using ritual in order to make sure you and your muse are on the same page when it’s time to write.

Now, when I say ritual, I mean a variety of things. There are sensory experiences which appeal to your muse, yes? They make you suddenly think--even for a brief moment--"Ah! I really want to write." For me, scents do the trick.

Nag champa incense. Sandalwood candles. Tea tree oil. Patchouli. The scent of Earl Grey. These are a few of the things which make my muse perk up. When I smell these scents, they put me in the mood to write.  Recent marketing research indicates that smell plays a huge part in a brand or shop’s ability to sell. Why? Well, for one, we’re so overwhelmed by visual stimuli that visual marketing isn’t as effective as it once was. But it is also a testament to the power of association.

Once we assign the meaning that it's time to write to certain smells, places, and practices, your muse will want to create whenever those factors are at work. That’s how writing rituals are created. So, if you’re having a great writing day, look around you. Assess your surroundings. Capture that creative juice and bottle it, so to speak.

Where are you? By designating a specific writing space, your mind begins to associate that space with the creative process. When you're in that space, your muse will realize that it’s time to get working. Be sure, however, that you don’t use that space for much of anything else. That muddies the association.

What are you drinking? Is it coffee? It’s coffee, isn’t it? A lot of writers will admit that they drink coffee when they write, particularly those of us with membership to the #5amWritersClub. If coffee gets you ready to write, go for it! Although, again, your writing rituals should be exclusive to the writing process. If that means using no creamer or a certain mug, then go for that. In my personal experience, I find that I drink coffee too frequently for it to really be a muse jumpstarter. (I admit, I may have a slight problem.) My go-to drink for writing is tea, preferably Earl Grey.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Designate a specific writing time. What works best for you? Myself, I wake up at 5:30 every morning to write. By designating that certain time, you’re one again tricking your mind (and your muse) into thinking, “Huh! It’s time to write!”

Write it down! If something really puts you in the mood to create, don’t lose sight of it! Keep a journal of your favorite muse foods. We’ll talk more about journal writing later in the series.

But Jenny, I hear you say, this is nothing but a bunch of mind tricks! I’m tricking my muse into doing what I want them to do!

Yes, you are! That’s what these rituals are all about. You’re luring your muse out of their hole with something shiny. And sometimes these rituals don’t work, and that’s okay. In those cases, I always make a judgment call: do I just need to take a break, or do I need to hunker down and write, no matter what? A lot of times I go with the latter option. Eventually the muse will begrudgingly come to play.

What are your favorite writing rituals? How do they help you? What does your muse feed on?

Until next time!