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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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.

Continue reading

Schedule updates – scrapping the schedule

I’m scrapping the schedule–again.  We’ve been without a full time manager at the store, which meant that the other part time and I have been picking up a lot of slack (it’s a lot of store to run on three managers, let me tell you that much).  Instead of a full-on schedule, I have some deadlines roughed out, which now include some print versions of some already-released work.

Currently on tap:

  • Print version of What Angels Fear (including a brief essay on writing the work) – hopefully by the end of March.
  • Finishing up Epsilon: Redeemer, Girl from a Brigadoon, and When All’s Said and Done.
    • Tentative release time frames (all of these are subject to change and are for the ebook release; trade paper/print versions are a little later than the ebook release):
      • April – Girl from a Brigadoon
      • May – Epsilon: Redeemer
      • June – The Last Colony

I’ve got a couple of projects kicking around that will be released under a psuedonym that (for the moment) shall remain unrevealed.

[progpress title=”Epsilon: Redeemer” goal=”80000″ current=”65201″ label=”words”]

[progpress title=”When All’s Said and Done (a Lost Angel Chronicle)” goal=”85000″ current=”20018″ label=”words”]

[progpress title=”UNSETIC Files: Girl from a Brigadoon” goal=”45000″ current=”23642″ lable=”words”]

For anyone following the word count meters, they’ve probably noticed that I’ve been making good progress largely on Girl from a Brigadoon, though this past week I’ve put in some work on When All’s Said and Done and Epsilon: Redeemer.  The latter is probably going to significantly eclipse its word count goal and be longer than Epsilon: Broken Stars.

Speaking of Broken Stars, stay tuned later this week for a post revealing what my sales have looked like the past few months since I started releasing ebooks.  I’m still waiting on some numbers (Kobo, etc.) from some of the Smashwords distribution channels, but I can show off some preliminaries.  They’re not that impressive, but they’re “whole dollars!” as my brother puts it.

You can find Erin on GoodReads these days @ And on Smashwords @

And Amazon @

She offers two free fiction serials @ and  Stop on by and check it out.


Schedule updates

As much as I really, really hate to do it, I’m going to have to make some significant changes to my writing schedule and my overall goaling.  This is largely due to a major uptick in the hours I’ve been working at the store–which are, in fact, incredibly insane hours as well as being very large in quantity.  I’ve gone from the 10-20 hours I was working two months ago, when I started releasing my work in ebook form, to working nearly 40 hours a week (add in an hour at either end to each 7-9 hour shift for transit time as well) and fighting a constant battle to not completely lose my sanity.

This, of course, means that my writing has suffered a bit of a setback.  I’m probably getting more writing done in the amount of time that I have to do it, but the time I’ve got to do it has been slashed severely.  This may change after the holidays, but I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that there’s no way humanly possible to finish the rewrite of When All’s Said and Done by 1/15/12.  I might be able to get the full draft of Epsilon: Redeemer done by then (the first 50K came in November–but since then, the story’s expanded beyond what I anticipated and the timeline itself for the universe has gotten twisted around a bit) and if I push I might even be able to finish the first draft of The Last Colony (more on that in a second) by the end of the month, but beyond that, it’s not going to happen.

I do have good news, however, and with the changes to the schedule comes an announcement.  Book One of Awakenings, which I’ve been releasing as a fiction serial at, is nearing completion.  After a bit of editing, I’ll be releasing it as an ebook through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords as edited copy with a few bonuses.  I haven’t decided what, exactly, those bonuses will be, but it’s entirely possible that they’ll include the original Marin work, The Vision, which would have run on September 13, 2001 in my university’s newspaper…if the events of September 11 had never happened.

So the schedule, prior to this writing, was thus:

November 2011

  • Write Epsilon: Redeemer first draft – 50,000 words (Nanowrimo project) – Deadline November 30
  • Freewriting projects – Awakenings side story (Kira et. al.); UNSETIC Files

December 2011

  • Redraft When All’s Said and Done (Deadline January 15)
  • Freewriting projects – Awakenings side stories; UNSETIC Files
  • Finish first draft of The Last Colony
  • Finish additions to Epsilon: Redeemer draft (50k deadline made)
  • Begin preliminary edits/replot of Princes of the Universe and associated cosm

January 2012

  • Finish redraft of When All’s Said and Done (Deadline January 15)
  • Begin editing of Epsilon: Redeemer
  • Freewriting projects – UNSETIC Files, Epsilon shorts, Lost Angel shorts
  • Begin full draft of Beckett (UNSETIC Files)On hold pending word regarding another project.
  • Begin full draft of third Epsilon book (Shattered? Sins of the Father?)

February 2012

  • Begin editing of The Last Colony
  • Begin redraft of Epsilon: Redeemer

March 2012

  • Finish first full draft of Beckett (Deadline March 15)On hold pending word regarding another project.

Revised schedule:

November 2011

  • Write Epsilon: Redeemer first draft – 50,000 words (Nanowrimo project) – Deadline November 30 – Done (at least the first 50k was done)
  • Freewriting projects – Awakenings side story (Kira et. al.); UNSETIC Files

December 2011

  • Freewriting projects – Awakenings side stories; UNSETIC Files
  • Finish first draft of The Last Colony (deadline January 12)
  • Continue Epsilon: Redeemer draft (Goaled at 85k words)
  • Finish Awakenings Book 1, begin book 2
  • Continue draft of When All’s Said and Done (New deadline: February 15)

January 2012

  • Finish redraft of When All’s Said and Done (Deadline February 15)
  • Begin editing of Epsilon: Redeemer (Week of January 23)
  • Freewriting projects – UNSETIC Files, Epsilon shorts, Lost Angel shorts
  • Begin full draft of Beckett (UNSETIC Files)Still on hold pending word regarding another project.
  • Begin plotting of third Epsilon book (Ren’s PoV)
  • Edit Awakenings Book 1

February 2012

  • Finish full redraft of When All’s Said and Done (Feb. 15)
  • Begin editing of The Last Colony
  • Begin redraft of Epsilon: Redeemer

March 2012

  • Finish first full draft of Beckett (Deadline March 15)On hold pending word regarding another project.
  • Finish redraft of Epsilon: Redeemer (March 30)
  • Finish editing The Last Colony
  • Begin editing When All’s Said and Done (March 1)

Only time will tell whether or not this is a workable schedule (and it’ll be heavily dependant on my schedule at the store as well–but writing doesn’t pay the bills yet, so I have to keep the PTSL job).

If any readers have managed to wander out here, I welcome comments and whines about what you want to see me working on next!  They do light a bit of a fire under me to keep me working hard at what I love to do, and encourage me to spend brainsweat on projects, despite their ups and downs.

You can find Erin on GoodReads these days @ And on Smashwords @

And Amazon @

New release ramblings

Good news!  What Angels Fear, a Lost Angel Chronicle, is now available on Smashwords, Amazon (UK, DE, FR), and Barnes and Noble.  It is the first installment of the Lost Angel Chronicles, a universe that includes my once-touted When All’s Said and Done.  I had anticipated releasing it after Epsilon: Broken Stars, but that’s tied up in editing this week (the people I tapped couldn’t look at it until this week).  The editing on What Angels Fear was faster–thanks again, Krinny!–and so I was able to start publication on Monday.

The end result was it being fully available on the three front-line venues as of this morning.  It will hopefully be distributed to Kobo Books, the iBookstore, Diesel, and other ebook retailers soon (through Smashwords wonderful Premium catalog, which Falling Stars is already available through).  It’s also already on GoodReads, where I appreciate reviews and shelf-adds.

So what does this mean?  Simply that I’ve gotten a third “world” of my writing established in digital ink.  Anyone who’s read back on this blog a little bit knows exactly how many things I’ve developed over the years and either abandoned or simply shelved for later.  There have been two women in my life (incredibly supportive best friend type women, one mostly during my teenage years and one during my adult life) who have urged me to go back to certain projects over the years, or not to completely abandon something, and occasionally told me to focus down on one thing, finish it, and only move on after that’s done.  As a general approach, that only occasionally works for me.

Of course, sometimes it does work.  This was one of those times.

I finished off What Angels Fear after I wiped out the final of Broken Stars.  I didn’t dare touch it while I was in the final push, largely because the scenes I was working on for Broken Stars were so difficult and because Julia Kinsey and Ridley Thys are very, very different characters from Aaron Taylor, Sam Cooper, Mac Desantis, and Lucas Ross.  Their worlds are also very different.  I’ll admit that at one point I’d considered making it all the same universe, but my conclusion was (and still is) that it just wouldn’t work, due to the number of supernatural elements extant in the Lost Angel universe, elements that don’t exist in the Epsilon universe (or any of my science fiction universes as of this writing).  Turning back to Julia and Ridley’s world, and by extension Ky Monroe, Matthew Thatcher, and Hadrian Bridger’s world, was a welcome shift.  Of course, it was helped by the sudden desire to write something with vampires that seized me.

No, What Angels Fear doesn’t involve vampires.  But they’re in the world, right along with secret agents and people fighting the good fight.  More of that will come up in When All’s Said and Done, which features Angel Kyle Anne Monroe as its narrator.  I anticipate turning to that project in the near future.

Unfortunately, Nanowrimo is looming, and while When All’s Said and Done was my inaugural Nanowrimo project back in 2004 (coincidentally, also my first win), I can’t exactly turn around and redraft it for my project this year.  Instead, I’ll be working on the second book of the Epsilon series, Epsilon: Redeemer.

My retail job looks like it might keep me from traveling this November, so I might just have a shot at getting something done.

Wish me luck.

You can find Erin on GoodReads these days @
And on Smashwords @