Posts Tagged ‘Victorian era’

So with the completion of The Pure World Comes last night, that brings a total of three novels I have waiting in the wings. By “waiting in the wings,” of course, I mean three novels I need to edit, update and hopefully someday publish. And since some of you have been asking about those books, I thought I would take a moment to update you on each individual story, as well as tell anyone who’s unfamiliar with them what they’re about.

River of Wrath

 

River of Wrath, inspired partly by Dante’s Inferno, is about a small town in Mississippi which, one day in the early 1960’s, is visited by one of the circles of Hell. I recently got back all the beta reader copies, so I can finally begin doing some editing on this story. And given that the plot of this story deals with a lot of issues that are as current now as they were in the 1960’s (you can guess which ones), it might be a good idea to get to work on that one sooner rather than later.

In fact, I was hoping to get started on River this summer. Most likely August, if things work out for me. Seeing as I finished this one in 2018 and it’s now 2020, and the problems of racism only seem to have gotten worse since then, I think it’s about damn time.

 

 

Toyland

I don’t know what it is about Toyland, but for some reason, several of my Followers of Fear are champing at the bit for this story. My National Novel Writing Month project which I began in November 2019 and ended in late February, Toyland is a Gothic horror/dark fantasy novel centered on a boarding school in southern Ohio and a ghost there obsessed with a children’s book affecting the students. Yeah, that’s the plot. It’s bonkers, but did you expect anything else from me?

As for when editing will commence on this one, it will hopefully happen very soon. But as for publishing, that might take a while. I need some things on my end to happen before I can think of shopping this book to publishers (or consider self-publishing it. That’s a possibility as well). What those things are, I can’t say at the moment, but I deem them necessary to happen before Toyland can be released. As events unfold, I hope to have more updates on this subject. For now though, just know I’m working on paving the way for Toyland‘s publication as best I can right now.

 

The Pure World Comes

I know I finished it last night and you have probably read the elevator pitch already, but I’ll restate it anyway. TPWC takes place in 1894 and follows a maid who goes to work for a mad scientist. As I said last night, I have sent this novel off already to someone for feedback. With any luck, I’ll get some pointers on how to improve this story in the second draft and where to send it.

Speaking of which, I do hope to find a publisher for this one, but I can see it being rather successful if I self-publish it. In fact, I had an idea for that: many novels written in Victorian England were released chapter by chapter in a serial format, usually in a magazine or newspaper. Charles Dickens did this to great effect, using reader feedback after each chapter to improve the story by upgrading or downgrading certain characters and following plot lines readers found interesting. In other words, he gave the fans fanservice, and it worked for him. Anyway, after all the chapters had been released, only then would they be collected in a traditional book format.

I doubt I’ll do the whole give-in-to-fanservice thing Dickens did, but I could see myself releasing each chapter one at a time, perhaps as an ebook exclusive, before releasing the full book as both paperback and ebook. What do you think? Would that be a fun way to read a book, as well as a great callback to the publishing methods of yesteryear? Let me know.

 

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to relax and regain my creative energies, but I’m sure you’ll hear from me by the end of the week. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Well, I didn’t think I could do it. But I did. At almost exactly 10:45 PM on May 31st, 2020, I finished the latest novel from my twisted imagination, The Pure World Comes.

If you aren’t aware, The Pure World Comes is a story I started writing back in April. It’s a culmination of all my love of and research into the Victorian era. The story takes place in 1894 and follows a maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist. It’s part historical fiction, part Gothic horror, and part gaslamp fantasy (a subgenre I need to write an article about one of these days), with some slight elements of science fiction. All in one crazy story.

And with this story, I’ve actually broken a few personal records. First off, with Toyland back in March, this makes two novels finished in a single year. That has never happened before. Not to mention I wrote this novel in less than two months, another record. And today, I finished the novel by somehow getting forty-five hundred or so words down in one day. Yeah, forty-five hundred words. And none of these records I expected to beat until I beat them.

Am I bragging? Sorry about that. I just thought I’d mention them.

Anyway, onto the page and word counts. In terms of Microsoft Word pages, 8.5 inches by 11, with double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, the novel is 214 pages. And, in terms of words, the novel is 59,333 words. Yeah, I know I used to say novels are sixty-thousand words or higher, but it’s recently come to my attention that most publishers and contests put the cutoff from novella to novel at around forty thousand words. Therefore, I’m caving into peer pressure just this once and will designate this a novel.

So, what’s next? Well, normally I would celebrate the completion of a novel with a huge party. Mead, pizza, heavy sugars, a movie or several episodes of TV. But it’s late, and tomorrow I have a busy morning, so I’ll delay the partying till tomorrow. After that, I might take some time to recharge creatively before I attempt so much as another short story.

In the meantime, I’ve already sent the first draft of The Pure World Comes to someone who has agreed to take a look at the first draft and give me feedback. With any luck, they’ll give me some advice which will allow me to eventually get this story published.

So glad to finally finish this story, a distillation of my love of Victorian England.

I sense there are great things on the horizon.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Remember, there’s still plenty of time to send in a question for my YouTube Q&A for the first publishing anniversary of my novel Rose. Just email a question with your name and where you’re from to ramiungar@ramiungarhtewriter.com by June 17th at noon, and your question will show up in the video. And if you’re from the US or UK, you may win a download code for the audio book for Rose.

And of course, if you want to read Rose but don’t want to go through Amazon or Audible, I’m selling signed copies directly to readers. Send an email to me, and we’ll discuss the details.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe and have some pleasant nightmares.

I’ve talked a bit about “The Pure World Comes,” the story I’m writing set in Victorian England. And yes, at this point I’m pretty sure it’s going to be another novel. But that’s beside the point. With the completion of the latest chapter, I’m two-thirds of the way through the story, so I figured I’d talk about something I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while: what it’s like writing a story set in Victorian England.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you’re probably aware that I’m a big fan of the Victorian era. It’s an era of contradictions: one of vast British expansion and industrialization, of great achievements in science and literature, as well as one of the most glittery ages of British history (at least in our popular memories). However, it was also an age of deep poverty for many, an age of exploitation and horror, and one where some of the most horrific crimes of the 19th century occurred, from Jack the Ripper to the British government’s reaction to the Irish Potato Famine (and yes, I’m counting that as a crime).

I’ve been trying to channel all that love, as well as all the information I’ve gathered through years of research, to make this story of mine, about a young maid who goes to work in the home of a mad scientist, feel authentic. Like you actually stepped into the Victorian era when you read this story.

What’s been the hardest part so far? Well, the language. I’ve been trying to make the dialogue sound like that fancy Queen’s English we see in movies and on TV, and the narration sound something like Stephen King’s Jerusalem’s Lot (a prequel to his novel, Salem’s Lot), which reads like a Victorian novel or something by HP Lovecraft, who likes to pretend he’s a Victorian. It’s harder than it looks, and at times, I find myself worrying if my characters sound more like modern Americans than 19th century Brits.

I’ll admit, it’s gotten easier to make the story and the characters sound Victorian as time has gone on, but it’s still far from perfect. And I have no doubt that later drafts will focus a lot on language.

I could also focus a bit more on describing the clothing. That’s a big part of the Victorian appeal.

However, other aspects have been easy. Going into the minutiae of Victorian life, from mourning clothes and practices (which the Victorians made an entire production of), to food and garden parties has been a treat. I had a lot of fun describing both the daily lives of maids in that age and just how dirty that age could be. And, of course, I had a blast working my theory of who Jack the Ripper is into the story.

And of course, adding those little weird details of life back then has been fun. Did you know that, according to the beliefs of the time, whom a pregnant woman interacted with could influence the baby’s health and appearance? Yeah, so if she met a drunk on the street, she might spend the rest of her pregnancy fearing her kid would come out looking and eventually acting like that drunk.

I also spent a good chunk of Chapter Eleven describing Victorian bath rituals (believe me, it’s relevant). Did you know public baths were a big phenomenon back then? How much you could pay for those baths, always sex-segregated, could determine what sort of bath you could take. And showers? They were known as shower-baths, or more formally as douche-baths. Yes, douche-baths. And no, not like we mean it today.

In the end, I think what I’m dealing with are all the usual struggles of writing a sort of historical fiction (Or is it more a homage to Gothic literature and gaslamp fantasy?). Balancing the level of detail with the need to tell the story, attempting to bring the age to life for even the most unfamiliar of readers. It’s a challenge, no matter your experience or how much research you’ve done.

Trying to bring to life the age when this sort of dress was fashionable.

Still, it’s a challenge I think I’m up to, as well as a challenge I’m glad I took up. I’m enjoying working on this story, and I feel like I’m learning a lot. Hopefully at the end of this story, it’ll show.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I was going to watch a movie after this post was done, but it’s past midnight, so I think I’ll hit the hay.

And in the meantime, remember that you can still participate in next month’s YouTube Q&A in honor of the 1-year publishing anniversary of Rose. Just send your name, where you’re from, and question for me to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com, and your question might appear in the video (and you could win a download code for the audio book). You can also order a signed copy of Rose with that address, or head to Amazon and Audible to get copies.

Goodnight, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares, and remember, face masks are inconvenient, but ventilators are far worse.

London Bridge and Parliament in the 1890s, right around the time this story is taking place.

Evening! Or is it morning? I’m not sure, it’s a late-night writing binge and time becomes meaningless after one of those. Anyway, as you can tell from the title of this post, I’m halfway through this super-important story set in my beloved Victorian England that I’ve been hinting and mentioning for God knows how long. And now I’m halfway through the damn thing, I think it’s time I talked a bit about it.

So, first let me tell you what this story is called. After a lot of deliberation and one or two placeholder titles, I’m calling this story The Pure World Comes. The story follows a young maid named Shirley Dobbins who goes to work for a mad scientist, and what occurs while in his employ.

In terms of genre, I think it’s a mix of Gothic horror and gaslamp fantasy (a subgenre I might need to write an article about another day). But it’s so much more than that, at least to me. It’s also a distillation of everything I’ve learned over the years about the reign and age of Queen Victoria, and I think it shows in the text.

It’s also an excuse for me to reveal the identity of the man I believe was Jack the Ripper. Yeah, that’s right, I have a person in mind whom I believe was Jack the Ripper, and I found a way to make it part of the story without shoehorning it in! Who is it, you ask? Well, you’ll have to hope the story gets published so you can find out.

And now, onto the page and word count (because of course I’m including that. You guys know me, after all). In terms of 8.5×11 pages, with 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spacing, The Pure World Comes is about 128 pages at this point. And in terms of word count, it’s 36,376 words. Yeah. You know how I consider novels as stories at sixty-thousand words or higher? I have a feeling this will be a novel by the time I’m done instead of a novella. Pulling another River of Wrath here, I guess (and yes, I will edit that soon).

Whatever it ends up being at the end, I’ll hopefully have it done by the close of May. Mid-June at latest. In the meantime though, I’m heading to bed. It’s late (or is it early?), and I need my ugly sleep if I’m going to get anything accomplished tomorrow.

And in the meantime, expect something big Thursday morning, my Followers of Fear. I have something special planned, something I think you’ll be excited for. Keep an eye out and stay tuned.

Also, signed copies of my novel Rose are still available! Send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com to inquire about placing an order.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Goodnight, and until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Normally I don’t do this for first drafts, especially ones that are still in progress, but I’m having so much fun with this story, and I love the opening so much, I can’t resist!

So for those of you who haven’t seen this little meme before, this is #FirstLineFriday, something I used to do quite a bit on this blog but now reserve for special occasions. Here are the rules for the meme:

  1. Create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

As many of you know, I’m working on a story set in my beloved Victorian England. I haven’t settled on a name for the story, so I won’t give you the placeholder title. However, I can tell you that this story is a distillation of not just my enjoyment of the era but a representation of my thoughts and understanding on it. And this opening represents that understanding 110% percent. Enjoy:

A stream of shit and piss fell from the second floor of the Avondale house, where it mixed with the piss, shit and mud that already littered the avenue.

Fun fact: I posted this on my personal Facebook page, and someone immediately guessed this took place in Victorian England. I was like, “You’re right on the money!” Turns out, she spent some time abroad studying at Oxford (lucky), and Victorian novels were a big part of the curriculum. So of course, she knew.

But what do you think, Followers of Fear? Did this opening grab you? Make you laugh? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And in the meantime, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s a lot of fun, and a nice way to promote your work. And with that in mind, I’m going to tag one of you. Iseult Murphy, you’re on the chopping block! By the power of the tag, I hereby designate you to do this tag next Friday. I look forward to seeing what you post next week. Mwa ha ha ha!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Hope you enjoyed the opening to the story I wrote. And in the meantime, if you haven’t heard, I am now sending signed copies of Rose through the mail to people. Send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com and I’ll give you the details on how to get a copy. Doesn’t sound like a bad proposition, does it? Especially since we’re all stuck inside these days.

I hope you all have a relaxing and safe weekend. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Sometimes, when working on a story, we find that it might be a bit longer than you had originally anticipated. And then you find out it’s going to be much longer. Perhaps even the length of a novel.

I may be on the verge of one such story. There’s a good chance after I begin writing this story set in Victorian England, it may not end as a novella, as I expected, but a full novel. And after finishing Toyland less than two months ago, plus River of Wrath to edit still (which I plan to do very soon, believe me), it feels too soon. And it’s hard to judge how big these stories can get just based on the outline I wrote up these past couple of days. Perhaps it just feels like a novel based on what I wrote up and will still be under sixty-thousand words, the threshold I establish for novels.

Then again, River of Wrath was originally supposed to be a novelette, but ended up being somewhere over sixty-thousand words. Not to mention there are two or three other stories I’ve written that I plan to someday expand into longer stories. This might be another sort of story like that.

Well, I always knew my plans for this year might change, depending on how things develop. And I am dying to get into this story, so one way or another, I’m going to write it and see where it goes. I just hope that when it’s done, no matter its length, it’ll be one hell of a story.

I also hope that when it’s finished, I’ve come up with a good title for it. I hear those are essential for telling a good story.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say. Just wanted to get all that off my chest before the writing process began. I’m off to board a carriage drawn by four demonic horses and driven by a skeletal figure in a top hat to take me to a fear-infested past. Wish me luck on my journey.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, be healthy, and pleasant nightmares.

I heard about this book sometime last year and immediately requested my library buy copies (they did, and I was #1 on the list). I mean, a horror story set on the Titanic and having to do with some sort of creature living in the sea? Where do I sign up? And it came in for me at the library right before my library ceased operations due to the virus, so I was happy to get it when I did.

The Deep follows Annie Hebbley, a maid who works on the Titanic, and gets involved with the Fletcher family, a troubled married couple with a baby girl. Strange things occur on the ship leading up to that fateful (or fatal?) meeting. Years later, Annie meets Mark Fletcher, the very same man she waited on during that voyage, though now she’s a nurse on the Titanic’s sister ship the Britannic and he’s a wounded soldier returning from the battlefield of WWI. Coincidence? Or is something else at play? Something that has unfinished business with these ships and their passengers?

Let me tell you, this book has a lot going for it. For one thing, it’s set partially on the Titanic, which is always a fascinating topic and setting for any story. And turning it into a ghost story? Even cooler.* That, and the Titanic sailed during the Edwardian era, which is close enough to my beloved Victorian era that I felt right at home.

But beyond that, this is one damn good horror novel. Author Alma Katsu takes a psychological approach to this story, using hints to keep us guessing as to what’s going on. Are people going crazy onboard? Is there something supernatural afoot? Whether it be a seance or someone acting strange, you’re kept very up in the air about it up until the last fifth or so of the book, and even then, you may still have questions.

At the same time, you get to know a lot of these characters intimately. It’s a big cast, told from the points of views of Annie, Mark Fletcher and his wife Caroline, you have the POVs of several historical figures, including boxers Dai Bowen and Leslie Williams, whom I absolutely fell in love with; Madeleine Astor, worried about an alleged curse on her unborn child; and William Stead, an aged journalist with an interest in the occult.** But Katsu does a great job of developing each and every character and giving them a unique voice and issues to explore.

A lot of attention is paid to detail as well, the same sort of attention that went visually into James Cameron’s movie. It really brings alive the setting for both ships, and makes you feel like you’re there. And there are plenty of moments filled with tension, such as the aforementioned seance, a scene at the saltwater pool, or close to the very end, when things are finally revealed.

The ship may have sunk, but the stories about it, like my heart, will go on. And in some cases, get very creepy.

All these factors kind of make it feel like you’re watching a really dark and spooky stageplay about the Titanic, only you’re reading it out of a book. In fact, I can imagine The Deep being made into a stageplay someday, or perhaps even a Broadway musical, one that’s scarier and has less humor than Sweeney Todd. I’d even help adapt it if someone deemed me experienced enough and wanted me to.

I can’t find anything to put as a downside to this novel. Some might find it a bit too slow, or maybe too much time is spent on the characters’ problems and backstories. I didn’t, but I can see other people feeling that way.

Overall, I’m giving The Deep by Alma Katsu a 4.5 out of 5. It’s an unnerving, intimate historical horror novel that’ll have you enthralled. Pick up a copy, put on that one Celine Dion song you’re probably thinking of, and get ready to dive in to what may be a contender for next year’s Bram Stoker awards.

*Of course, when I try to turn a luxury cruise liner into a ghost story, Disney’s lawyers come after me. How was I supposed to know ritualistic murder wasn’t allowed in international waters? It’s always okay in wartime!

**I recognized him from my own research into Victorian England. When I came across him and the reference to the occult, I literally shouted “Wait, I know this guy!” to my empty apartment.