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1232950_28690356Title: Ringmaster

Series: Arcanium

Word count: 28,228/100,000

Summary: Kitty has been part of the circus Arcanium for over fifteen years, presenting herself the Bearded Lady, but also taking care of its inhabitants when the curtains closes, a kind of den mother for both the humans and demons who live there.

However, she’s kept a dark secret for over eight of those years, a secret that she shares with the sadistic demon known only as the Ringmaster, the enforcer of Arcanium and undeniably the most evil member of the cast.

One might believe that the Ringmaster couldn’t have a tender bone in his body, and it would be a stretch to call the arrangement he and Kitty share tender. However, the Ringmaster finds himself curiously drawn to the kind but dark heart of Arcanium.

When Kitty convinces a long-time lover of hers outside Arcanium to join the circus – Victor, a sweet, handsome, charming man in love with every square inch of hair on Kitty’s body – the secret between Kitty and the Ringmaster not only threatens to come to light, but the strange relationship itself threatens to crumble and throw Arcanium into chaos.


It feels like forever since I’ve done one of these. I have not been idle in the interim. I was supposed to have started Ringmaster at the beginning of September, but I was invited to try my hand at a short story for a Totally Bound werewolf/vampire-type anthology. All I had to do was write a story that didn’t exceed 15,000 words. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Have you seen my usual word counts?

The reason I didn’t start Ringmaster until the 17th was because I wrote not one, not two, but three stories, each roughly 20,000 words long – just trying to write one under-15k-word story. I’m thoroughly tired of werewolves and vampires at the moment. But as of today, I’ve finished cutting down the last story to just under 15k words, the only one of the bunch that could stand to become smaller. The first one wants to become a longer story. The second one wants to stay roughly the same length. It took three editing passes to bring the third one down, but it’s been done, and now I can ‘let it go.’

I got so frustrated by writing things I hadn’t planned on and pushing my schedule back and back and back that my mood seriously soured. I needed a few recovery days in there, plus a day to get over my usual fear of starting a novel that I was looking forward to writing (what if I don’t do it right? what if I don’t do my MC justice? what if it’s just fucking terrible? I’m a terrible writer, after all, and no one’s going to read it anyway, so what am I kvetching for in the first place?).

However, once I started writing, I slipped into Kitty’s head like a familiar friend. After playing with her from other characters’ perspectives in the last three Arcanium books, it was a true pleasure to find out more about her from the inside. Turns out there were things about her that I hadn’t been aware of until I started writing her POV. I write third-person, of course, but her voice shines through.

Kitty’s so important to me as a character because, although I identify with something significant in each of my Arcanium characters, Kitty’s the first oddity, and her oddness is the direct opposite of my own. I intend to talk about that more in the future, when I finally go into the reasons why I write Arcanium – that’s something I’ve had to grapple with for the last year.

Because I started so late, I’m having to make up for time lost by spending this week writing 5k words a day. My usual is 4k, which is where I start to get mentally worn out. Also, the speed at which that makes me go through the story means I’m not always ready for the next scene by the time I get to it. There’s a lot of figuring things out on the fly. Fortunately, today I just had to borrow from some earlier writing that I did when I was writing short stories for Fortune, which I eventually took out. I’m concerned about burnout and about my period getting in the way, so I’m trying to take care of myself as best as I can.

One thing that keeps popping up in my head, though, are all the damn teasers and the general excitement about American Horror Story: Freak Show. The Arcanium series isn’t coming out until well into next year, which means that I’m worried that I’m going to be fielding accusations that I copied AHS.

Seriously. This is something that my obsessional and paranoid brain has latched onto, and it may well be right that I’ll have to deal with that when we get there. But damn it, the producers didn’t share this year’s subject and the teasers until early this summer of 2014. I wrote Fortune in September and October of 2013. I have timestamps on this blog and on Facebook to prove it, and my publisher can vouch for the fact that she accepted it sometime in February 2014. Also, until I’m finished with Arcanium, I don’t plan to watch AHS:FS for just this reason, so that I can’t steal ideas or become unduly influenced by the show, even though I finalized my series synopsis with Totally Bound around the time that Fortune was accepted.


It’s not that I think the whole circus thing is new and original. I don’t strive for original. I’d just like to have a few more degrees of separation than I feel I have. Arcanium’s oddities are different characters, there’s far more of an erotic vein through the stories (of course), and Arcanium itself is probably different than the circus in AHS. But I have a pathological fear of being accused of plagiarism or stealing ideas – right up there with my phobia of being arrested and sentenced for a crime I didn’t commit, I think. My head’s an interesting place to be. And by interesting, I mean exhausting. This is why I write.

All right, back to said writing.