Draft blurb – When All’s Said and Done

Not sure exactly how happy I am with it, but here’s the draft of the blurb for When All’s Said and Done.

I will probably revise it in the future, but this is what was written over coffee this morning and revised this evening.

The Institute was dead.

Ky Thatcher has spent the last four years of her life trying to forget. Then one August night, a ghost from her past brings reality slamming home: she has neither forgiven nor forgotten the organization that kidnapped her when she was nine years old.

The Institute was still alive.

For Ky and her allies, it becomes a race against time to stop the Institute before more lives are lost and more innocents can be broken. Confronting horrifying truths and far-reaching conspiracies, the angels and their newfound protectors bring the fight right to the Institute’s doorstep, knowing the price they may pay could be higher than they can bear.

The Institute has a plan.

The end is coming–they will make it happen, with or without their wayward angels, even as those angels make war on them. For the Institute, their goals are worth the blood spilled. Sacrifices must always be made, after all.

When all is said and done, no matter what the cost, the Institute will fall.

Theme music – The UNSETIC Files and The Lost Angel Chronicles

Every writer has their little things that they do to jar loose their creativity, things that help them get into particular characters or remind them of particular characters. In this, I’m absolutely no exception. Music is something that I use when I’m writing to sink me into the right mindset to get rolling.

Now, I don’t have set playlists for specific projects (if I did, I’d have a ridiculous number of playlists), but I do have absolutely massive playlists for the specific universes I work in. I started doing this back before iTunes got rolling, in the days of Napster and AudioGalaxy and other free music sharing resources that may or may not exist anymore (yes, I’m old enough to remember the days when the dorm networks at GVSU were legally full of scads of free music for download–we used to share entire folders of music on the campus networks for our fellow students to snag). Writing to music has become part of my process and over the years certain songs have begun to relate to specific characters–sometimes overall, sometimes for isolated period of their lives and stories. I’ll often say to my friends (those who are familiar with my work and the characters in it) “You know, this is a Tim song” or “This song totally reminds me of The Measure of Dreams” and “I could see Bryn singing this song at the top of her lungs in the shower.”

Don’t laugh. It’s happened.

On that note, at various points in time I’ve put together much smaller, tighter collections of music at the behest of one of my first readers (Jen Willard reads pretty much everything UNSETIC and Lost Angels as I’m working on it–and considering that Reece Bailey and Kate Berkshire wouldn’t exist without her, I’m totally okay with this) to listen to while she’s reading.

What you see below are two of those playlists. Some of these songs correspond to a particular character or pairing. Others just seem to especially fit the universe of the UNSETIC Files and the Lost Angel Chronicles. There’s one or two that correspond to characters and projects that as of this writing will be unfamiliar to anyone stumbling over this post but may make a lot more sense in the future.

Volume I

Name Artist Additional Notes
Carry You Home James Blunt
Breaking Inside Shinedown
Airplanes (feat. Hayley Williams) B.o.B
Building a Mystery Sarah McLachlan Hadrian’s theme
Crack the Shutters Snow Patrol Tim and Kate’s theme
Second Chance Shinedown
Firework Katy Perry Kate’s theme
Live Like We’re Dying Kris Allen
Hanging By A Moment Life House
Hallelujah (Vancouver Winter 2010 Version) k.d. lang
Welcome to the Black Parade (Radio Edit) My Chemical Romance
The End of the Innocence Don Henley
Awake (Live) Josh Groban
If Today Was Your Last Day Nickelback
Landing In London 3 Doors Down Jim and Bryn’s theme
Shattered (Turn the Car Around) O.A.R.
Time After Time Quietdrive

Volume II

Name Artist Additional Notes
Broken (New Version) Lifehouse Tim’s theme
Iridescent LINKIN PARK AJ’s theme
So Close Jon McLaughlin Michael and Jade’s theme
Toy Soldiers Martika
Shooting Star Owl City
All Through the Night Cyndi Lauper
Mercy OneRepublic Tim and Brigid’s theme
Glitter In the Air P!nk Brigid’s theme
All We Are OneRepublic
Clocks Coldplay
For You Calling Scott and Sierra’s theme
From Where You Are Lifehouse
Not Meant to Be Theory of a Deadman
Nothing Left to Lose Needtobreathe
Seasons of Love Rent
Secrets OneRepublic Michael’s theme
Shadow of the Day LINKIN PARK
Taste Lorna Vallings

If you’ve read any of the UNSETIC Files or Lost Angels books, I’d be interested to hear your feedback on these choices–are there songs on this list that you don’t think fit?  Are there songs that are missing?


The first three books of the UNSETIC Files (Bering Songs and Silence, Between Fang and Claw, and The Measure of Dreams) and the first book of the Lost Angel Chronicles (What Angels Fear)are available where ebooks are sold.

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Prompt for January 22, 2014 – Day 22

Happy Hump Day to all the 9-5ers in the world. Time for another jolt to your creativity.

Prompt type: Music prompt

Prompt:

Song is “Building a Mystery” by Sarah McLachlan. Video courtesy of YouTube.

This particular song is near and dear to my heart because without it, I never would have come up with Hadrian Bridger, one of the main characters in the Lost Angel Chronicles.


Got a suggestion for a prompt? Contact Erin at emklitzke (at) gmail (dot) com.

On writing the Lost Angel Chronicles

I’ve been asked here and there where I came up with the idea for the Lost Angel Chronicles–for the Institute, for the characters fighting against it and the characters who are involved with it.  One of my cousins, after reading What Angels Fear, couldn’t sleep for a few nights, wondering where I had come up with such a “twisted” idea (Allie was more than a little disturbed, from what I gather, after reading What Angels Fear).

The Lost Angels came from a few different places.  The first and earliest of them was a chain novel project I worked on with some fellow ops from the #Authors channel on the Undernet (from what I understand, it still exists, though I haven’t been around to check it out in a very, very long time).  What started with a girl arriving at a mysterious institution became something much darker very quickly when I had the opportunity to introduce Hadrian Bridger, Allyson Conner, and Ky Monroe–much to the dismay of at least one of my fellow writers, who was going for more of an X-Men kind of thing (this was in the days before Harry Potter, mind you).  I had the idea for Hadrian in listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”–a quiet, mysterious and powerful boy with a candle and a Tarot deck secreted away in a safe place.

When I embarked on my first foray into NaNoWriMo, I obtained the blessing of my fellow chain writers to take some of the characters and concepts created as part of our short-lived project and develop them into something new and broader, more full than what we’d embarked on before.  I adjusted the timeline forward and began on a November afternoon with a college-aged Ky Monroe thinking that the people she’d loved when she was young were now all dead at the Institute’s hands.  I was a college junior at the time, a liberal living in a conservative area of Michigan, feeling constricted and disturbed by the amount of evangelizing going on at my public university and knowing I wasn’t alone in the feeling.  I was majoring in history and anthropology with a minor in political science and started to think about what could happen if a militant evangelical cult got its hands on children and teenagers with special gifts.

It was pretty much all downhill from there.  By the end of November, I’d written more than the requisite 50,000 words and was still going.  I hit 80,000 words and change in December and called it a day, then tucked the manuscript away, knowing that there were pacing issues and other conceptual issues that I would need to address someday.  I would write a sequel to When All’s Said and Done the following year for NaNoWriMo, an unfinished project I titled When the Gods Cry, dealing with the now-married Ky Monroe and Hadrian Bridger and their circle of friends (including an also-married Reece and Matthew) and the unexpected kidnapping of Ky and Hadrian’s young children by a remnant of the Institute.  This, too, was placed on a digital shelf and left for a time when I had more time and brainpower to devote to it, and there both projects languished for a long while, overshadowed by works like Epsilon and the nascent Awakenings, among other projects.

One bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree later, a fateful road trip with my best friend many years later sowed the seeds of my return to the universe I’d created with When All’s Said and Done.  I had seen signs for Starr Commonwealth before on other trips along I-96 and I-94, but something on that particular trip (I think we were on our way to the Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival) tripped a synapse in my brain.  A few days later, I sat down at my desk with iTunes, a sheaf of college-ruled notebook paper, and a green felt-tipped pen and started to write.

A half dozen and more pages later, I realized that I was writing about Ridley Thys, one of the Lost Angels, mentioned only in passing in When All’s Said and Done and When the Gods Cry, a character that had featured briefly in the project initially developed as the chain novel way back when I was still in high school myself.

What Angels Fear and the whole of the Lost Angel Chronicles are in part about what rampant extremism can lead to when left unchecked (or, as the UNSETIC Files and later Lost Angels works will show, when extremism is left largely unchecked).  It is also about characters and people–what binds us together and keeps us apart, what makes us tick.  What brings Julia and Ridley together is a belief that no one should ever suffer as he’s suffered, a trust born of desperation that blossoms into more.  It’s about people learning to care, learning to love–and learning that the price of loving someone can be very high indeed.

While I’m sorry to have disturbed some people who’ve read it, I’m glad that What Angels Fear made them feel something.  I’m glad it makes people think.  I don’t write literary fiction, I write genre fiction, but sometimes, that’s the best way to put forth an idea and start a conversation.

If What Angels Fear and the rest of the Lost Angel Chronicles starts a conversation, I’ll be happy.  If they don’t but they entertained and left people wanting more…well.  I’ll just have to feed that demand for more.

Have you read What Angels Fear yet?  Leave a note with your thoughts and gut reactions.  I’d love to hear them as I continue to craft the continuing stories of Julia, Ridley, Ky, Hadrian, and al the rest.

Snippet Sunday: When All’s Said and Done (work in progress)

This week’s snippet is from the sequel to What Angels Fear, a work in progress entitled When All’s Said and Done.  The story is told from the point of view of Ky Monroe, who escaped the Institute when she was fifteen years old and eventually found her way to Matthew Thatcher, who’s got his own bone to pick with the Institute.

The story of When All’s Said and Done picks up almost precisely where What Angels Fear left off–with an expanded cast and a shift in narrator.

Folks who have read Between Fang and Claw will also notice another familiar face in this snippet below the break.

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Snippet Sunday: What Angels Fear

Apologies for having missed last week’s Snippet Sunday–I had intended to post something while on my flight back from Phoenix, but the Wi-Fi on my plane was sadly malfunctioning.

What Angels Fear print coverThis week’s snippet is from What Angels Fear, the first story of The Lost Angel Chronicles.

From the outside, Andover Commonwealth looks like a normal town, but when Julia Kinsey takes over her late uncle’s shop, she discovers that the tiny Michigan community has a far darker side than she ever imagined.

Julia used to spend summers with her aunt and uncle in Andover and she’s no stranger to its more run-of-the-mill oddities, including the local preacher who’s always given her the creeps.  From the moment she first sees the Reverend’s ward, Darien, her life is turned upside down as she’s driven to dig deeper into the community’s darkest secrets.

And Darien might just be the key to it all.

It’s all connected to the place outside of town, the Institute, the focus of most of the town’s activities–religious and otherwise–and Darien knows something about that place, something he can’t or won’t talk about.  All Julia really knows is that she needs to get him out of town before it’s too late.

Snippet below the break.

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And with 50K, NaNoWriMo…hasn’t ended for me?

For probably the fifth or sixth time, the story hasn’t ended just because I cracked 50K–or, in the case of this year, the stories.  This year’s project, In The Beginning, is a collection of how key members of UNSETIC got their start in the United Nations Supernatural and Extraterrestrial Investigative Corps, including James McCullough and Bryn Knight, Timothy McConaway and Brigid O’Connell, AJ McConaway, Antony Bridger (brother of Lost Angel Chronicles character Hadrian Bridger and his wife, Ky), “Angel” Ridley Thys, and details the addition of the Portal Corps to UNSETIC’s banner.  The first story in the collection, Between Fang and Claw, is the story of how James McCullough got sucked in–and his first adventure with UNSETIC–and has clocked in at 35k itself and it’s not quite done (still have a chapter or two left to right, including a couple of climatic fight scenes).

Each story in the collection will be released on its own as an ebook once it is ready for sale.  They will later be collected into the In The Beginning collection for both e-sale and print sale.  I’m really excited about this collection, and while it’s not the direct sequel to What Angels Fear that some may have been waiting for, it is in the same universe and if you pay attention, you’ll see quite a few of the characters showing up–and end up with a deeper understanding of what’s going on with the Institute as well as what happens to some characters (such as Ridley Thys) in the future.

From the opening of Between Fang and Claw:

                “I don’t think I ever thanked you for coming down to help us out on that case.”  I watched as the Federal agent across from me dunked his sandwich in a little plastic cup of au jus.  “Not sure we could have cleared it without your expertise.”

                Agent Thatcher shrugged with one shoulder as he cradled the already soaking chunk of bread and meat in both hands.  “Worth it almost for the Italian beef.  You can’t get this up north.”

                “So I’m told,” I said, smiling humorlessly.  I leaned back, idly tapping a fork I wasn’t going to use against the edge of the table.  The sense of agitation I could feel coming off of him belied his calm exterior.  I shook my head slightly, trying to suppress a frown.  “Whatever you’re trying not to say you might as well let loose, Thatcher.  I know you’ve got something trapped behind your teeth.”

                He looked up from his plate, a brow quirking upward.  “How’s that?”

                I shrugged slightly.  “I just know.”

                Thatcher shook his head, glancing at the restaurant’s populace before relaxing a fraction.  “I’m beginning to see why you’re a rising star in the Bureau.  You’ve got a gift for reading people.”

                I didn’t say anything, just waited.  More was coming.

                He thinks it’s a dangerous gift.  Not dangerous to himself, though, or to anyone else.  Dangerous to me.

                I was hoping he was going to tell me why.

                Thatcher continued to stare at me for a moment longer before he shook his head slowly.  His voice was quiet.  “Body or mind?”

                I just smiled vaguely and he shook his head again.

                “They’d want you,” he murmured, almost to himself. “But with that article in the Tribune, they won’t be able to make you disappear.”

                My eyebrow arched of its own accord.  He smiled.

                “Your brother,” I said.  “Whatever we’re talking about now, it’s got something to do with your brother.”

                “Do you remember when Senator Monroe died?” he asked.

                “Why does someone from Detroit care about Illinois politics?” I countered, trying to hide how unsettling the question was.  What does that have to do with his brother?

                Thatcher nodded slowly.  “Then you remember.”

                “I was twelve and it was all over the news.  Big deal, state senator moving up to federal, then killed?  Every newspaper, every station carried the story.”  I’d have known without all that, though.  The senator’s wife had been a school friend of my mother.  It’d been nine years since the senator and his wife had been killed, though.  A car accident on I-80 killed them both.  Not everyone would remember.  I frowned.  “You know, they had a daughter.”

                “Seen her since then?”

                “No,” I said.  Not since the funeral, anyway.  What did end up happening to her?  Damn, that was a long time ago.  I could remember playing soccer in the yard with the senator’s dark-haired girl, but the memories of that were old, faint and fading.  She and Jade had been better friends anyway.

                I wonder if she knows.

                Thatcher nodded.  “Think about that.  She was like you.”

                “Like me,” I repeated.

                “Like you.  Gifted.  Special.”  Thatcher’s jaw tightened.  “Like my brother.”

                So that’s what this is about.  I caught a fleeting sense of anger and pain coming off of him.  “You think your parents were murdered.”

                “I know my parents were murdered,” Thatcher said.  “I think Senator Monroe and his wife were murdered.”  He met my gaze, eyes like a pair of flints, cold and hard.  “And I think the same people who did all that killing stole my brother and stole Kyle Anne Monroe, too.  I just can’t prove it.”

                “Not yet,” I said softly.  The bare trace of relief that flitted across his face told me I was right in my assertion.

                He nodded slowly.  “Not yet.  Someday.  Could be that I could use some help.  Think about that.”

                I nodded, not quite certain what he was really asking for, or what it all really meant.  “Yeah, sure,” I said.  “I’ll do that.”

                He smiled briefly and went back to his sandwich.  I stared at my hot dog.

                Stolen.

                Does Dad know anything about this?

                I frowned to myself and realized that whatever appetite I’d had when we sat down, it’d evaporated when I pried Thatcher’s secret loose.  Not for the last time, I regretted talking it out him.  It was for the best, though.

                Now at least someone else knows the truth.  Something.  My gaze flicked back toward Thatcher.

                If they’d killed a senator, his wife, and two FBI agents to get to their children, what lengths would they go to in trying to silence anyone who even suspected the truth.

                I smiled grimly to myself.  He’s got to know something.  I’m just going to have to find out what it is.

Spot a What Angels Fear character in there?  Fantastic.  Figure out why McCullough is familiar yet?

Stay tuned for more updates!