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It’s Been a Long Road…


…gettin’ from there to here.


I really had something of a fangirl dilemma while coming up with a title for this blog post. On one hand, the Supernatural fangirl in me really wanted to call it The Road So Far, but the Trekkie in me won out. After all, the lyrics of the much-maligned theme of Star Trek Enterprise better fit the long journey this has been.


And anyway, I've got faith of the heart.


I started working on the fourth installment of The Lovelace & Wick Series, The Soul Proprietor, in Spring of 2020.


Actually…let’s rewind.


I started working on what I thought would be the fourth installment of The Lovelace & Wick Series in 2019, alongside the final edits on Book Three, The Army of Angels. Book Four was about The Jersey Devil. No, I’m not kidding. I actually wrote a draft about The Jersey Devil (who was actually called The Leeds Devil at the time, but who’s keeping track?). Needless to say, it was scrapped, and I started working on a book that would wrap up the story of Viola Atchison and her partnership with Iago Wick.


I wrote it. I edited it. But it was 2020, and outside of a few short stories written early in the year, I can say with the utmost certainly that I wrote nothing of any real quality in 2020.


2021 witnessed me scrapping half of that draft and reworking it. I rewrote and edited furiously. I thought I had it this time.


Then, the week before Thanksgiving, I realized I didn’t.


And back to the drawing board we went.


The 2020 drafts and the 2021 drafts were wrong for different reasons. 2020’s were too complicated, too convoluted and confused. I had about four different villains, for one thing. It was a mind-boggling year, and so I just chalked that up to my mind being sufficiently boggled.


There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way. It took me some time to accept that 2020 was a creative wash. I created, and that creative process helped me get through the year, but deep down, I don’t think it was about creating something good. It was just about creating.


2021’s draft was supposed to be a simplification of that 2020 attempt, but after getting pretty deep into the developmental editing process, I realized something troubling.


This was not the story I wanted to tell—particularly for Viola Atchison.


Atchison is one of my favorite characters to write. I couldn’t end her arc in a way that wasn’t the perfect fit. The troubles were rooted deeply in the plot, a plot that ended up making Atchison the antagonist of her own story. That simply wouldn’t do. I knew that to give her the story she deserved, the plot would need to be reworked again.


So, out it went! But what was I supposed to do now?


If you take nothing else away from this blog post, take this: never throw away anything you write. No notes, no drafts, no scrapped ideas. Keep them all. Get a big box for them if you must. Read them occasionally. You never know where you’ll find your answer.


There was a Lovelace & Wick novella I had intended to write in July 2020 that never got past a few pages and a ton of notes: a tale of an Infernal heist. Messrs. Lovelace and Wick are enlisted to retrieve a supernatural item in heist-like fashion. Was there a way, I wondered, to flesh this out into a book, one that nicely wrapped up Atchison and Wick’s partnership, while putting a bow on this chapter in Lovelace and Wick’s lives?


After seven months of rewrites and a successful developmental edit, I can tell you: YES. I adore this book now. I couldn’t be happier with the progress. It has 1920s parties, tons of Shakespearean references, Infernal magic, a bakery, and a visit from an ancient headless fairy. It has demons and revenants and cake, though not always at the same time. And it has a heist. I do love a good heist.


There are a few reasons why I wanted to write this post. For one, I just wanted to give everyone an update on where this project actually stands! A day doesn’t go by where I don’t work on this book, but I know I’ve been very quiet online.


I also just wanted to say that it’s okay if 2020 or 2021 or 2022 have not been your best year as a creator. It’s okay to grieve that time and move on. It’s okay if you’re not ready to move on creatively. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to write five novels and only publish one—or none! It’s all okay. Be kind to yourself as a creator and as a human. I’ve spent far too much time beating myself up over how little I’ve put out as a author in the last three years, and I’ve been wrong to do that.


What was not wrong, however, was scrapping the Jersey Devil idea. I promise.



Updated: Aug 20, 2021

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 décor, 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.




(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 www.archive.org. The images are from the excellent www.freevintageillustrations.com. And if you try to bake one of these, please let me know how it turns out.



Happy baking!

Jenny