Saturday, April 27, 2013


Next week on Disenchanted & Co.:

After a great deal of fiddling, designing, tweaking and so forth I've finalized the design for my Torian market bag. It's completely reversible with all hidden seams, and it can be made in virtually any desired size. Here's the best part: it doesn't require a pattern or any special sewing skills; it's all straight-seam stitching. You can even adapt the idea to make different types of bags. Want to learn how to make one of your own? Stop in and I'll teach you.

I have promotions for my final Darkyn novel starting on Wednesday, and revisions due in any moment from an editor, so I may have time only to do the market bag post this week. If I can sneak away, however, I promise to post something fun.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Tea has a long and interesting history. According to popular legend it was discovered (or invented) over four thousand years ago by Chinese Emperor Shan Nong. His majesty liked to boil his drinking water, and one day while he was in his garden some tea leaves fell into his cup or pot and steeped in the hot water. The adventurous emperor tried the brew, loved it and had his gardener plant more tea so he could have a ready supply.

For many centuries in Asia tea was used for medicinal purposes as well as to show social status. The upper class loved tea, and as an extension of that love tea preparation evolved into beautiful if rather complicated social ceremonies. Tea spread east from China to Japan, and then traveled west with Dutch and Portuguese sailors at the turn of the seventeenth century. Europeans adored tea, but at first it was very scarce and therefore expensive, so only the very wealthy could afford it. It would take another hundred years before tea cultivation, shipping and trade improved enough to provide a steady, affordable supply for everyone . . . unless you were a colonist in America.

Yes, tea played an important role in the lives of early Americans, too. They wanted it, but the British Empire elected to tax their tea shipments, which made the colonist angry. This in turn instigated protests, boycotts, and a lot of tea being dumped off British ships into the ocean. After one especially infamous "tea party" in Boston the Empire responded by sending in their military to shut down the port. Things then got very ugly, instigated the War of Independence, and the rest is history.

We Americans did contribute one positive note to the history of tea. A merchant in New York named Thomas Sullivan decided to save some money on packaging and sent samples of tea sewn in little silk sachets to his customers. The customers wrongly assumed the tea was supposed to be brewed in the little silk bags, and discovered they worked great; all they needed to make tea was boiling water and a cup. Thus the tea bag was born.

Presently over forty different countries grow and produce two and a half million tons of tea every year, which generates over three billion dollars in revenue. I wonder if the emperor ever imagined that the accidental brew he enjoyed in his garden would become the most popular hot beverage on the planet, as tea is today.

Oddly enough tea isn't a beverage commonly associated with the U.S. I think this is in part because we're known as a nation of coffee drinkers, and this is somewhat justified. You can spit pretty much anywhere in America and hit a coffee shop, but tea shops -- which we generally call tea rooms -- are extremely scarce. Practically every American home has a Mr. Coffee but not a Mr. Tea or even a kettle -- unless you live in the south.

Like most southern Americans tea is a daily part of my life. I can't remember a time from childhood when I didn't drink sweet tea (which is iced tea with lemon and lots of sugar, also known as the house wine of the South.) I'm not alone in that; of the some fifty million cups of tea Americans drink every year, forty million are iced. Proper tea, which we called hot tea, was what my half-English grandmother brewed for herself every morning and for the rest of the family to drink with dinner during winter (the only time Mom would part with her sweet tea.) After my grandmother passed I began drinking hot tea every morning as an act of remembrance, and from there it simply became habit (one I cannot shake, as you see here from this a photo of my current tea stock, along with my favorite pot.)

My love of this beverage has definitely worked its way into my fiction; tea has played an important element in several of my novels (once I even used it as a weapon.) When I decided to rewrite the history of America by creating Toriana I had the chance to rework a little of tea's notorious past as well. The Boston Tea Party still took place, but my colonists didn't win the War of Independence. During the era of rebuilding and settling Toriana after the war, however, the British Empire lifts taxation on tea and instead uses it like an olive branch (or more precisely, a dangling carrot) to facilitate some reconciliation. So in my universe tea remains the national drink, but with some interesting additions and variations, and is regularly custom-blended with herbs and other additions. You'll also find it playing a minor but intriguing role in the second book of the series.

When you writers are world-building and want to put your own spin on something common or ordinary, it can be good to first learn about its origins and history. You don't have to become an absolute expert on something like tea to make it an effective story element, but the more you know the better you can tailor and use it to give your fiction that much more realism.

My love of this subject has also led to making this post extremely lengthy, sorry. Wrestling with the blog renovations also prevented me from putting together some recipes to share, so I think I'll wrap it up here and save the rest for another post.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tinkering Away, Q and A

As I threatened last week I'll be working on the blog today, so expect some new links and widgets to pop up on the sidebar. I thought I'd also ask for your opinions on some blog-related topics, as follows:

1. Which posts on Disenchanted & Co. do you like the most, or would like to see more of in the future?

2. Are you interested in reading more excerpts from Her Ladyship's Curse, or would you prefer to sample a full chapter or two?

3. Am I talking too much about the world-building, or not enough, or just the right amount?

4. If you could put anything in Her Ladyship's Hat Box for a future giveaway, what would it be?

5. I'm not a huge fan of author newsletters, which is probably why I've never done one. Change is good, however, so if I put out a monthly Disenchanted & Co. newsletter, would you be interested in subscribing to it?

6. Finally, since I can't be everywhere and do everything myself, I'm interested in working with people who would be willing to help me with getting the word out about the new series on social media, bookseller sites, discussion boards and so forth. In return I'd provide the members of the group with special perks like early review copies of the books, signed print editions, make myself available for interviews or guest posts on their web sites or blogs etc. Would you be interested in joining a group effort like this?

Feel free to answer any or all of the above in comments, and if you have any questions, please post those too -- I'll be here most of the day to answer them.

Graphic credit: © Yellowj |

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Winner & Forthcoming

First, the winner of the Spring at Last Hat Box giveaway is:

Stephanie L., who wrote We celebrate our daughter's birthday in early May. If it is nice we celebrate outside, otherwise we party indoors and make it a point to decorate in honor of flowers and fair weather...there is generally lots of pink involved!

Stephanie, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can send your prizes along to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.

As for what to expect next week on Disenchanted & Co., I have some tinkering to do on the blog, so the sidebar over there will be changing. I'd also like to get your opinions on a couple of things, so stayed tuned for a Q&A day.

My other post will be about one of my favorite beverages in Toriana and this world: tea! We'll take a look at various real and fictitious brews as well as the making, manners and munchies that go along with them.

Enjoy your weekend, and see you soon.

Friday, April 19, 2013


“If this does not appeal to you sufficiently to recognize in me a discoverer of principles, do me, at least, the justice of calling me an "inventor of some beautiful pieces of electrical apparatus.” -- Nikola Tesla

If you're going to write steampunk-style urban fantasy, there must be gadgets in the story. The reason for this is not exclusive to the genre style; many of the books take place during the two primary eras of real-world industrial revolution: the late 17th and early 18th century (usually in Britain) or the late 18th to early 20th century (everywhere else).

In our world these were very interesting eras for industry. Advances in science forced the world's economy, which prior to the revolution was based largely on manual labor and agriculture, to rapidly change. Machines were invented to manufacture, transport and communicate for people. As men worked with these machines they continued to improve them, which is why the steam engine and the telegraph eventually were replaced by the eletric motor and the telephone. It may have taken a hundred years for us to go from traveling by steamboat to traveling by airplane, but compared to the progress made during all the previous eras of human civilization that's basically an eye blink.

Most of the people who lived during these eras loved gadgets as much as we do today. You have only to look at some of the old advertisements to see what was being marketed to appeal to them. I think even James Bond would approve of a watch that turns into a camera:

But I'm not sure he would want to wear this:

All Victorian-era gadgets weren't necessarily quackery or nonsense; some of them were quite serious:

Unfortunately they weren't all that safe, either -- Harry Cox, the manufacturer of this gadget, reportedly died of x-ray induced cancer.

Not everyone at the time was comfortable using or perhaps even aware of the advances in gadgetry, which prompted some warning labels like this one:

But I think for the most part people of the era embraced their gadgetry with enthusiasm. Science was no longer the heretical practice of madmen, and what it did to advance invention and industry forever altered the world, and paved the way for all the gadgetry we love.

While building the Toriana universe I invented plenty of my own gadgets, but I also drew inspiration from some that existed in the real world. For example, this apparatus might look familiar; it's an early version of the Teasmade, which eventually inspired my BrewsMaid. I also read through archives of real Victorian era American newspapers to see exactly what machines and gadgets were really in demand in central California, the geographical location that roughly corresponds to my setting of the city of Rumsen:

This was a good nudge for me to remember that in the 19th century California was not a long string of bustling metropolises; it was prime farming country. Working in parallel universe under the conditions of my world-building gave me a bit of leeway to speed up industrialization, but the research prompted me to include farms and various agricultural aspects to my setting, too.

Gadgets are fun to invent and write about, but simply throwing some zepplins, goggles and steam-powered widgets in your story doesn't instantly lend it realism. So do your homework: see what was really being used in your story era and let that serve as a guide as well as inspiration for your gadgetry. This will not only help you create unique technology for your world, but it will make it more plausible for your reader (like the electric girdle for men -- a version of which you'll be reading about in one of my future Disenchanted & Co. novels. As if I could resist using that . . . )

Related links: The has a marvelous article on a collection of weird and wonderful gadgets here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring at Last

I've been stocking Her Ladyship's Hatbox with some of my favorite magazines for Spring. I love to look through them to get new recipes and ideas on how to enjoy this new season. As I mentioned with my other giveaway over on my writing blog I thought of postponing this giveaway as it's not really the time to celebrate anything. But I think maybe it will help as a distraction, if nothing else:

These five brand-new magazines (Best of Britain, County Living, Romantic Homes, Teatime Favorites, and Victoria) come with a couple of fun container gardening projects: Sunflowers and Herbs, both that you grow in a can. The Country Living magazine also includes a free packet of basil seeds, so make that three projects. If you'd like to win the lot, in comments to this post tell us about something you do to celebrate Springtime by midnight EST on Friday, April 19th, 2013. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner all the magazines and the can kits*. The giveaway is open to everyone on the planet so please join in.

*One important note on this giveaway; if the winner resides in a country that prohibits sending seeds or gardening kits through the mail, you will receive only the magazines and the seeds and kits will be donated to a local elementary school. My apologies in advance if that happens.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


This week on Disenchanted & Co.:

We'll be talking about some of the fascinating gadgets, gizmos and other gear people used during the Victorian era, and the fun and challenge of creating the ficitional version.

While I was doing some Spring cleaning I noticed something very cool inside Her Ladyship's Hat Box. Stop by if you'd like to see what it is -- and have a chance to win it, too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Steampunk Style

However it's used, Steampunk is a very compelling artistic style. Somehow it manages to be both antique and futuristic; it startles and satisfies the imagination, and it forges an immediate connection between the commonplace and the fantastic. As a writer I've discovered writing steampunk-styled urban fantasy is a wonderful challenge, but I've also been experimenting with it via sketches and paintings as well as some of the jewelry I make.

I first became interested in the steampunk jewelry when I started seeing it at some of the craft shows we attend. My daughter went crazy for it, and since she was definitely not a jewelry lover that also got my attention. Over time I began buying a few pieces to give to her as gifts; most I found at various shows. Here are some of her favorites:

I'm also not a fan of most jewelry mainly because I can't manage the tiny fasteners anymore, and rings are like devices of torture when my arthritis flares. Despite this I was drawn to the steampunk pieces I saw; aside from the lovely antique look they all seemed to have a little story waiting to be told. I was particularly interest in pocket watch pieces; they're the only sort of watch I don't hate, and they were often transformed into something else. In time I built up a little collection of my own:

Art that intrigues me that much usually tempts me to try my hand at it, and once I worked up the nerve (took a while) I decided to make my own steampunk pocket watch piece to go along with a story I was writing. My first attempt is the watch you see tiled in the background; it came out so well I was totally hooked.

Here's a compass watch I made for an art swap with a jewelry-maker friend:

Today I finished this piece, which was inspired by visitors at my writing blog:

I know my vision of steampunk is a little different than the usual sort -- I like more sparkle and color, so my style is probably more like steampunk glam. I like what I bring to it, though, and I think it's important to be true to yourself versus doing what everyone else is doing.

I'm just an amateur, and the pieces I make are for fun, but there are some seriously talented artists out there making all sorts of fascinating, professional-quality pieces. Sparrow, the artist who created the collage art I wrote about in this post, is also a jewelry-maker and does some stunning work. I just acquired this piece from her and I think it's exactly the sort of thing you'd see Kit wearing:

Now I promised to show you how to craft your own steampunk piece, and this design is one I came up with after seeing so many interesting steampunk cuffs in the art magazines I read. This is also a great project to use up leftover bits of ribbon, beads and an old glove. Here's what you'll need to start:

From left to right: beads, old buttons, ribbon scraps, needle and thread (a beading needle is best), some gear, key or other steampunk charms and an old glove that you can wrap completely around your wrist and have the middle finger and the cuff touching (if you have a thin wrist like me you're probably going to need a child's glove.)

Layer your ribbon scraps over the glove like so until you cover most of the glove's surface. Don't be afraid to lay out your ribbons in different directions; play with them and see what looks interesting. Once you have your ribbons where you want them, pin them in place and sew them to the glove with small basting stitches.

Now take your beads, buttons and steampunk charms and place them to see how you want to embellish the ribbons. You can use as few or as many as you like. Once you know how you want to place your beads and bits, begin sewing them on top of the layered ribbonbs. If you have some other interesting small objects you can sew to the piece, add them on. Here's how mine turned out:

The last thing you have to do is add a fastener set; I recommend sewing them to the center of the glove's cuff and the end of the middle finger of the glove. Remember to place them so the glove fits snugly to your wrist. I used a hook-and-eye set (you can find these in the button section of your local sewing store) but you can also use a jacket frog or a button and a loop.

Remember, you don't have to use as many ribbons or embellishments as I did; go with an amount that looks right to you. Also, if you'd like a narrower cuff you can cut the glove in half or use a strip of thick, sturdy fabric as your cuff foundation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hunting for Treasures

Part of the fun of building a world like Toriana is looking for artifacts in our world -- or to be more precise, things that exist here that might also fit into my parallel universe. The two worlds have many differences, but they also share a great many similarities -- primitive portraits like this one, for example, exist in both places. This little girl could be the daughter of a well-to-do Rumsen merchant, so I'll add her to my series notebook to provide a visual for future story description. This is basically why I regularly go on treasure hunts to find things I can use (or repurpose) for my stories.

Since the current era in my novels parallels the Victorian era, the best places to find Torian story treasures are antique shops. I paid a visit to one of my favorites to look around and see what treasures inspired me. This bright pitcher caught my eye because of the basic design and bright red flowers -- very cheerful. In our world it was probably a water or juice pitcher; in Toriana it's going to be a rinse pitcher for the bath. There are no showers yet in my universe, so when a female character (one who has no maid, like my Kit) has to wash her hair, this pitcher would come in handy for rinsing out the soap (male characters would probably use something a bit more manly-looking.)

I went into minor raptures when I spotted these two tin ceiling tiles. It's obvious they were molded to resemble plasterwork, and the traces of heavy paint indicate they were given quite a few coats to disguise the fact they are tin. Once they were put in place and painted it would be difficult if not impossible to tell they weren't plaster -- no one can touch a ceiling. I've seen similar faux decor tricks in 18th- and 19th-century houses in Savannah and other American cities and I love the ingenuity; it's exactly the sort of thing that would be done in Toriana by people who want to look like they have more money than they do, or by enterprising young architects who don't have all the materials or craftsman they need to pull off the real thing.

The other fun challenge of a story treasure hunt is coining new words for objects you want to repurpose. Here's a slideshow of twenty more artifacts I found and renamed while on my hunt:

Here are some definitions, too:

Baskenet -- like a bassinet here only made to carry over the arm. My Torian version would be a bit smaller.

Birthproof -- English-born citizens have more privileges than the Torian-born, so in certain homes birth certificates are displayed like pedigrees.

Calling Card Box -- this is one of those cute souvenirs you pick up on vacation; in Toriana they're hung outside homes without a household staff when the family leaves so visitors can drop their calling cards inside. Very popular among the merchant class.

Cigar Tray -- I could see this Torian version of an ashtray on a coffee table in the master's study; used for when he and his friends hang out together to smoke cigars and drink port or brandy. While they gossip and swill, the cigars are rested on the fluted edge.

Doll Chaise -- in our world we have doll cradles, in Toriana they have doll chaises. Barbie never had it so elegant. :)

Double Door Stop -- this is more like a Do Not Disturb sign; parked outside a room with double doors to indicate the occupant is not to be disturbed by the staff.

Eggnog Pitcher - Torians love animal objects, and the festive color of this little chicken made me think of Christmas. My version will have to be a bit bigger.

Grain Bin -- I didn't actually rename this object; it's a grain bin in our world and Toriana. I love the glass top.

Haunted Portrait - this would be a cute picture if not for that disembodied hand in the upper right section. What if the hand moved to different places when you weren't looking? I'm definitely going to use this in one particular setting.

Honeyjar -- I have no idea what this was in our world, but we'll be serving fresh Torian honey out of it at breakfast in mine.

Journey Desk -- this was probably a fancy jewelry box once; I thought it would make a pretty portable case for a lady's stationary, pens, ink bottles and so forth. I'd probably give mine a flat lid so she can write on top of it while on a train or at a hotel.

Keroseel Lamp -- this is an actual Victorian lamp, and I like the design, so with a couple of alterations it will serve the same purpose in my universe.

Key Jammer -- an old wood shuttle in our world might work as a Torian thief's lockpicking tool, or perhaps a tool to unjam a stiff lock. Must think about this one a bit more.

Le General -- You must recognize Monsieur here, who did not fare so well in my universe, but still managed to get a fair amount of publicity before he met a very unpleasant end. Probably hung up in a Torian tavern and used as a darts target.

Nutcracker & Nutbox -- I didn't find a label to tell me what this was, but that's exactly what it looks like to me. The little iron man will be George Washington getting ready to commit suicide at Broken Forge in my universe. He was one tough nut, our George.

Pocketclock -- an elegant Torian version of the travel clock.

Tubejack -- this old pipefitter's implement will work nicely as a flaring tool on the tubes in Rumsen.

Washbarrel -- this might have been used for washing dishes or clothing in our world, but I have another purpose for it.

Gunsafe in Washbarrel -- and here's the purpose: to disguise an illegal cache of weapons. Pile some dirty crockery or undies on top of them and they probably won't be found.

Wedding Soup Server -- this tureen was so small I thought it should have a special purpose. It's too pretty to use for a child, so why not the soup course at a Torian wedding reception, exclusively shared by the bride and groom in the same way they feed cake to each other in our world.

Story treasure hunts are a blast, and all you writers really need to go on your own is an imagination. If you see something and you don't know what it is, invent a purpose for it that suits your universe. To preserve the idea, take a photo of it. The world is filled with strange and wonderful things just waiting to spark an idea, be transformed into something new, and add that much more detail and realism to your stories.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Next week on Disenchanted & Co. will be all about treasures. First I'll be taking you on a hunt for Torian artifacts hidden away here in our world. How is that possible, you ask? It's all in how you look for them . . . and where you hunt, too.

I'll also have a feature on steampunk and urban fantasy jewelry, which I love to make, along with a slideshow of what my daughter and I have collected over the years. I'll show you what I'm designing now, and share some ideas on inexpensive ways for you to make your own jewelry, too, so stop by if you get a chance.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Publishing Toriana

The Disenchanted & Co. books are a new venture for me in a lot of ways; it's the first time I've written urban fantasy and worked with my publisher, Pocket Star. This is also the first chance I've had to release a novel in e-book before print. While I'm obviously more experienced with the traditional route, I think it's an exciting opportunity to take a new direction with the work and try something different with the publishing.

Now we'll do a little time traveling back to the summer of 2012, when I sold the series to Pocket Star. As we discussed the particulars my new editor, Adam Wilson, decided split Book One into two 50,000 word novellas to be released in e-book form, followed by a bindup of both novellas in a print edition of Book One, and then follow that up immediately with Book Two. Turning a novel into two novellas meant ending the first novella on a cliffhanger, naturally, but there were a lot of advantages to making Book One into a two-part serial. We would have a chance to keep the cover prices low, bring out Book One much sooner for the readers and the retailers, and build some anticipation for the release of the print editions.

As I said it's not how I usually do things, but Publishing is changing, and I want to change with it. In order to stay competitive, I really need to. You're all aware of how important the e-book market has become for authors and publishers. I'm also blessed with a very loyal readership whose support has always been phenomenal. Armed with that, I had no qualms about taking such a different approach to the publication.

Here then are the release dates and some new titles for the Disenchanted & Co. novels:

Disenchanted & Co., Part 1: Her Ladyship's Curse (e-book edition novella, Book One Part 1) -- August 2013

Disenchanted & Co., Part 2: His Lordship Possessed (e-book edition novella, Book One Part 2) -- October 2013

Disenchanted & Co. (print edition novel/bindup edition of Book One Parts 1 & 2) -- February 2014

Book Two (print novel, as yet to be titled) -- March 2014

While Adam and I were discussing the most recent retitling of the Book One novellas I couldn't help chuckling; this particular novel has had more titles than an European monarchy. I thought it would be fun to look at how many it's had, so here's a title timeline for Book One:

Aug '09: Victoriana (original working title) -- I often use a character's name or something from the world-building as a working title when I outline a novel idea. This one started out under the banner of the new name I'd coined for my parallel universe America.

Sept '09: Charming Toriana -- Shortened the country name and added Charming as a play on the protagonist's namne

Oct '09: Charming Harry -- Ditched the country name, added another character's name

Nov '09 - November '11: Harry's Charm -- switched around October's title idea to this, which became the novel's pitch title for the next two years

December '11: Spell-Breaker/Disenchanted Inc./Dreamstone/Nightstone -- new title pitches for an interested editor

Jan '12: Spell-Breaker, Disenchanted Inc.
-- title and series title pitch, same editor

Oct '12: A Lady Cursed/A Nuisance of Curses/Enchanting Kit/Her Ladyship's Secret/Stroke of Dark/Stroke of Night -- new title pitches, different editor. Yes, we do this sometimes endlessly.

Nov '12: His Lordship Possessed/His Lordship Bespelled/His Lordship Enchanted -- new title pitches for the e-book edition of Part 2

Dec '12: Her Ladyship's Curse/His Lordship Possessed -- final titles for Book One. Or so I thought.

Jan '13: Disenchanted & Co. -- final series title.

Mar '13: Disenchanted & Co. Part 1, Her Ladyship's Curse/Disenchanted & Co. Part 2, His Lordship Possessed (e-book novellas)
~ Disenchanted & Co. (print novel)
-- Final titles for Book One

It's taken a while for me to stop thinking of Book One as Harry's Charm, the title I had during the rather lengthy process of submitting and selling the series. Over time I'd grown emotionally attached to that title, so at first it was tough to let it go. It's a bit like having a friend show up one day and tell you that you can't ever call them by their old name anymore. But while Adam and I were tinkering on the titles I got rid of my separation anxieties and focused on what was best for the story. My old title was comfortable, but I thought we could do better -- it's the sort of confidence that grows while working with an editor like Adam, who is very intuitive and creative -- and he gets the credit for the final titles, which I do think are terrific and a perfect fit.

One final note: this week I got a chance to look at the cover artwork for Her Ladyship's Curse, and while we're not ready to unveil it just yet, fasten your seatbelts -- it's absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Listening for Kit

One of my methods of learning more about a character is finding their song. This is a process that requires listening to the radio, CDs, my daughter playing her flute or pretty much any other source of music until such time as I hear something that invokes the character to me. Sometimes it works backward; I hear a song and then I envision a character because of it (one reason why music is such an endless fount of inspiration) but generally I find the song after the character is created.

This search can sometimes take a while and there's no logic to it; I don't try to assign songs to characters or force a character to fit a song. I just know it when I hear it; the song plays, the character comes to life inside my head and I begin seeing them and their story in greater detail. Often the more I listen to the song, the clearer and more defined the character becomes, so I'll replay it over and over until I work out what I need. Music is very visual to me, and this character-song process is something that as a storyteller I've always done without thinking, so I don't jinx it by questioning it. For me, it works.

Creating the protagonist for the Disenchanted & Co. series wasn't difficult at first; she came along with my idea for the universe and outlined quite nicely as I was world-building. Getting to know her well enough to write her, on the other hand, was something I had to do thoroughly, and I knew I needed to find her song. Fortunately I'd just cleaned out some old Paste music magazines and found a couple of free CDs in them that I'd never listened to, and I put them on the stereo to see if they might help. The second one I listened to had a song by Charlotte Martin entitled Stromata, and from the moment it began to play I knew it was Kit's song.

My plan was to link to a sample of the song somewhere and then describe the rest of it for you, but when I went to find Charlotte Martin's web site I discovered she has the full-length version there along with an embed link for player. So if you'd like to hear Kit's song, just turn on your speakers and activate the player here:

I love Charlotte Martin's voice, it moves from a kind of weary hopefulness to a very emotional determination. The music is dramatic and interesting, as are the lyrics, but it's the artist's voice that really helps me zoom in on my construct of Kit's character and feel as well as see her in my mind as a real person. No fictional character is alive, but when you're writing them, you have to believe in them as if they are real people. In this sense, finding a character's song also helps bring them alive for me.