Settings from the As Above, So Below Books, Annotated

My co-writer Brian Thomas moved to LA in the early 90s to find work in the film industry. He worked behind the scenes on films from The Wizard of Space and Time to Army of Darkness (Evil Dead 3), then landed a job in the 20th Century Fox research library — literally, my idea of heaven on earth. He provided research for The X Files, The Simpsons, Firefly, Brimstone, Millennium, and more than a hundred other TV shows and movies.

I started going down to LA in the late Nineties to research the sidebars for Morbid Curiosity magazine. That led to Brian and I working on the books that would become Lost Angels and Angelus Rose. He prowled throughout LA, scouting locations where we could set scenes of the novels. Here’s the backstory on them.

Lost Angels
Lost Angels was inspired by a nightclub that stood between Temple Street and the Hollywood Freeway in the mid-1990s. As I remember, the highway offramp wrapped around the club, making for easy access. The site was a stone’s throw from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, still under construction at the time.

Brian drove me by the bar, but we never stopped in its parking lot so I could take a photo. I was never inside of it, either. The interior, as it appears in the novel, was based on San Francisco’s legendary Club DV8, which had a wraparound balcony above the dancefloor. You came in at street-level, then descended a grand staircase to the main floor.

Azaziel’s Church
Santa Rosa’s, the church where Azaziel forces Ashleigh’s soul to possess Lorelei, was a real place on the wrong side of the 405 from downtown LA. Brian found the burned-out Odd Fellows Hall on the north side of Washington, not more than a mile or two east of Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery. Once he started to think about it as a church, he wondered who might have lived there and how he might have provoked Hell to set fire to his home. We drove by huge building several times, but I made him stop once so I could take some photos. Our descriptions in the books are all based in reality: there were ghostly shadows above the boarded-up windows, where the smoke had escaped.

Tuan’s apartment building
I never had a particular building in mind for the penthouse apartment where Tuan Nguyen lives with the succubus Floria, although Brian probably did have. He was always more specific than I am. I had a rough idea that Tuan’s building was one of the white Deco-style apartment towers that stood along Brand Boulevard in Glendale.

The LA River
When I envisioned the LA River, I thought of the scene in Repo Man, when the Rodriguez Brothers chase Bud and Otto through the trickle of water until their car breaks down. That, or the end of Buckaroo Banzai when Buckaroo and the Hong Kong Cavaliers walk down the huge empty stretch of concrete beneath the spans of bridges. In reality, the river is fairly wild in some areas. Brian took me to a place next to the 5 (not too far from Dodger Stadium) where a miniature suspension bridge supported a pipe across the water — just like Lorelei and Ashleigh cross after they escape Asmodeus and the botched exorcism in the storm drain.

Sado
The sadistic Japanese restaurant where Lorelei has lunch with the fiend Thodos is completely made up. It was inspired by restaurants in Tokyo that exist on the second and third floors of skyscrapers, overlooking the street but separate from it. After I first heard about Drunken Shrimp, I quizzed a friend’s father, who had done a lot of travel, about food that was still living when you ate it. He suggested the lobster sashimi. I don’t eat shellfish, so I haven’t tried either one.

Griffith Observatory
One of my favorite places in Los Angeles is Griffith Observatory. It’s probably the one place I’ve been more than any other in Southern California. Brian and I used to break off writing so we could drive up to watch the sunset from the Observatory’s deck overlooking the city below. Because I spent so much time there, the observatory serves as Lorelei’s safe place in Angelus Rose.

The observatory, which stands on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, was a bequest by Griffith J. Griffith, who also donated the land on which Griffith Park stands. When the observatory opened in 1935, it was the third planetarium in the US. More people have looked through its 12-inch telescope than any other on earth. None of that has any bearing on our books. I just think it’s really cool.

Chateau Marmont
Rising above Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont hotel was modeled after the Château d’Amboise in France’s Loire Valley. The hotel was completed in 1929. Members of Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through it in the 1960s. Jon Belushi OD’d in one of the garden bungalows in the 1980s. Lorelei claims to have been present for both of those events. Her story “Never Bargained for You” is set there (it appears in my collection Unsafe Words) and she takes Azaziel to the Chateau in the first chapter of Angelus Rose.

I’ve never set foot into Chateau Marmont, which I consider a crime. If our books are ever optioned to be made into movies, I’m going to schedule a weekend at the Chateau to celebrate.

Isfahan
Asmodeus’s high-end restaurant was inspired by Michelin-starred Gary Danko in San Francisco. I’ve been lucky to eat there twice. The theater lighting and the impeccably timed service really struck me, so the descriptions of Isfahan come from those memories. Isfahan’s menu was inspired by a Persian restaurant, sadly long gone, that used to exist on Clement Street in San Francisco.

Brian trying out a coffin before the Morbid Curiosity reading at the Museum of Death, November 2001.

The Museum of Death
The first iteration of the Museum of Death really did stand in the shadow of the Scientology Building on Hollywood Boulevard. It was a warren of little cubbies full of postmortem photos and serial killer mementos, including John Wayne Gacy’s clown paintings. I visited that version of the museum twice, once to host a reading for Morbid Curiosity magazine. It felt like the perfect place for Lorelei to take a fiend she was trying to seduce.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Although they carefully don’t use it as a marketing tool, the huge Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale is the final resting place of many of Hollywood’s famous names. Among them lie Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart, Chico Marx, Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., and W. C. Fields. Brian and I often took breaks while writing to walk the green hills or visit the museums. The Last Supper window really is something to see.

For all the time we spent in the cemetery, I’m not sure I ever noticed the lighted cross atop it until I started to collect cemetery postcards. Brian wrote the scene where Aza releases Ashleigh’s soul beneath the cross.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
After the Saint Vibiana Cathedral suffered structural damage in the Northridge Earthquake, it was condemned by the City of Los Angeles. In 1996, the diocese chose a downtown parking lot overlooking the Hollywood Freeway as the site of its new cathedral, named for the city’s namesake. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was dedicated in September 2002.

I’ve only had the opportunity to visit the cathedral once, in the company of horror writer Maria Alexander. We had a fascinating conversation about faith and atheism while sitting in the honey-colored sanctuary. Then we explored the cathedral’s crypt, of course.

The cathedral was a construction site while Brian and I wrote the initial drafts of the As Above books, but it felt important to include it in Angelus Rose. I revised the scene where the archangels listen to the high school choirs perform and shifted it to the cathedral courtyard.

Canter’s Deli
The Canter Brothers opened their first deli in LA in 1931. After the deli moved to Fairfax in the Miracle Mile district, its amazing Art Deco dining room has never been updated. Brian wrote a wonderful scene, since lost, where the succubi were sitting at different tables around the dining room and using the rotary dial phones to call each other and interrupt each other’s dates. Every time I go to LA, I try to stop into Canter’s for a chocolate egg creme and a pastrami sandwich. I wrote the scene where Aza orders takeout in honor of that tradition.

Westwood Memorial Park
The first burials in this graveyard date from the 1880s. Joe DiMaggio chose this cemetery to be Marilyn Monroe’s final resting place because it was sleepy and out of the way. Now Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, half a block off of Wiltshire Boulevard, is entirely surrounded by high-rises. In 2002, the cemetery was recognized by the Cultural Heritage Commission of Los Angeles.

Among those buried there are Natalie Wood, “Queen of the Pin-Ups” Bettie Page, Heather O’Rourke (the pretty blonde girl swallowed by the Poltergeist house), and 20-year-old Dorothy Stratten, a Playboy Playmate of the Year.

Brian took me to the Westwood cemetery once on a winter evening, when darkness came early. I was really impressed by how peaceful the cemetery was, with the city rushing by just beyond the encircling skyscrapers. I wrote it into Angelus Rose in the final revision when I needed a setting for Lorelei and Aza’s first real date.

Chinatown
Brian took me to Chinatown one night to look at the neon. I don’t remember if we had dinner there or not, but I do remember the cockroach that Lorelei sees scuttling by my foot. I thought about stepping on it at the time, but I was afraid it would carry me off.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of speakeasies, but I’ve never actually been to one. Yasmina’s Pandemonium Club combined the terrifying third-sub basement noise club I went to in Tokyo with some of the SM performances I’ve seen in San Francisco.

Angelus Rosedale Cemetery
In 1884, when Los Angeles was a city of under 30,000 people, Rosedale Cemetery was founded on 65 acres of land facing Washington Boulevard between Normandie Avenue and Walton and Catalina Streets. America’s first crematory west of the Rocky Mountains — only the second crematory in the country — opened at Rosedale in 1887. With its photogenic lines of palm trees, Angelus Rosedale has appeared in the Clive Barker film Lord of Illusions, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, as well as many episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first Charmed show, and Six Feet Under.

Brian and I spent many happy hours roaming around the cemetery, plotting out lines of attack and making notes about where characters would die. I do feel bad that we set the cemetery on fire for the climax of Angelus Rose, though.

The Mulholland Memorial Fountain
Dedicated in August 1940, the Mulholland Fountain remembers the controversial man who built the aqueduct that brought water to the burgeoning metropolis of Los Angeles. The Art Deco fountain recirculates more than 2000 gallons of water each minute. At night, the waters dance to a cycle of candy-colored lights.

It must have been recently refurbished when Brian and I visited in the mid-Nineties. Now, looking back, I can’t believe that we hung around the fountain at night. Even though it’s at the junction of Los Feliz Boulevard and Riverside Drive, the lights would have highlighted us to anyone looking for trouble or some quick cash. I was too starry eyed at the time to realize we might have been in danger.

Brian wrote the final scene of Angelus Rose long before we finished writing the books. It gave us something to aim for.

You can learn more about our succubus/angel love story here: https://lorenrhoads.com/writing/as-above-so-below/

If you’d like to order the “boxed” set from me, I’ll throw in a little special gift. You can check Lost Angels & Angelus Rose out at my bookstore. They’re also available individually on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, or as ebooks on Smashwords.

 

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The As Above, So Below teas

I’ve written before about the teas I’ve blended to drink with my Alondra Stories. I’ve also made a pair of teas to represent the main characters of my As Above, So Below novels.

The main character of Lost Angels and Angelus Rose — to my mind, although my co-writer Brian might argue — is Lorelei.  She’s a “young” succubus, who is only several hundred years old. She remembers the French Revolution, where she rescued a young man named Daniel and granted him an extremely long life in return for his service. She warmed Joseph Stalin’s bed in Soviet Russia. She also worked the rock-n-roll shows in LA in the 1960s and 70s, when Asmodeus was taking over the music industry. All of which is backstory that led her to the angel Azaziel.

If Lorelei drank tea, it would be a spicy chai. I started my blend with Adagio’s Masala Chai as a base. In the novels, Lorelei’s signature cocktail is vodka and cranberry juice. I decided to add dried cranberries to the tea, along with dried apple pieces to symbolize temptation. Then I boosted the ginger in the chai to make it a bit spicier. Finally, I added cardamom as a nod to Asmodeus, Lorelei’s boss, who was traditionally a Persian demon.

Lorelei’s tea has a wonderful spicy aroma, full of cinnamon and clove. It tastes slightly fruity, with a buzz of ginger at the finish.

On the other hand, Azaziel is an angel who fought on the Fields of Heaven when Satan and his followers rebelled. Azaziel fought hand to hand with the demon Nebiros and cast him into Hell.

Afterward, Azaziel was sent down to Earth to watch over humans before the Flood. He befriended a group of Cain’s granddaughters and fell in love with one of them. When the command came to abandon Earth, Azaziel couldn’t allow his beloved Anah to drown, so he tucked her up under his wings and carried her to another planet, at least according to the tale as told by Lord Byron in Heaven and Earth, A Mystery.

Because he disobeyed once, Aza has been sentenced to Earth ever since. He isn’t a Fallen angel, but he exists on sufferance. Many of his angelic siblings have never forgiven him for ever loving anyone other than God. In consequence, Aza is terribly lonely. When he crosses paths with Lorelei, he begins to love again.

Azaziel’s tea is flecked with petals of pink peony, blue lavender, yellow marigold, and red rose, to symbolize the Fields of Heaven. It has a base of Adagio’s Assam Melody tea, to which I added Adagio’s vanilla-flavored Cream Tea. I’m not sure Azaziel is all that vanilla, but I wanted to indicate Heaven and purity.

This is a really pretty tea, with all its flower petals. It has a wonderful flavor, friendly and welcoming, and makes a nice contrast to Lorelei’s spicy, fruity tea.

You can buy the teas online from Adagio.com. Adagio allows you to try a sample tin of each tea, which is what I’ve photographed here, or to buy a 3-ounce pouch or a 5-ounce tin. The teas are available individually or in ‘ships that give you a discount when you buy both of the 3-ounce pouches. My preference is the reusable 5-ounce tins, which are really handsome.

Lorelei’s chai: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=162653

Azaziel’s floral tea: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=162654

You can check out all of my tea blends, too:  https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/list.html?userId=566763LR

I created the tea after the novels were finished, but I’m so pleased with how they turned out that I wish I’d written them into the books.

Speaking of which, you can pick up the novels in paperback or ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, and Indie Bound — or you can buy the “boxed” set of paperbacks directly from me and I’ll include a little gift. Here’s the link for that: https://lorenrhoads.com/product/as-above-so-below-set/

They would make a great Valentine’s Day present.

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A Dictionary of Angels

While I was working on the final As Above, So Below book, my friend E. M. Markoff suggested including a glossary of angels so I could detail some of the angelology research that inspired the backstories in both Lost Angels and Angelus Rose. I didn’t get the glossary finished in time to add to Angelus Rose, but I’ll post it here. The first part, A Dictionary of Devils and Demons, appeared last December.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine. I would cast him as Azaziel.

Azaziel – Foremost among the angels in the series is Azaziel, who goes into a bar owned by Asmodeus, the Demon Prince of LA, in order to catch the eye of the succubus Lorelei. Aza has been watching her for a while and wants to strike up a friendship, but he doesn’t know how to approach her. As it turns out, all he needed to do was to show up.

Officially, Azaziel (ah zah zee el) was a Grigori, one of the Watcher angels sent to Earth before the Flood. According to Lord Byron’s poem “Heaven and Earth, a Mystery,” Azaziel fell in love with one of Cain’s granddaughters, a woman named Anah. When God sent the Flood to kill all the humans and animals except those rescued by Noah, Azaziel snatched Anah up, tucked her beneath his wings, and carried her off to another planet.

Brian Thomas, my co-writer on the angel books, was the one who chose Azaziel’s name. I think he actually slogged through Byron’s poem. (I only read the summaries.) Aza’s backstory gave us a rich history and informed his struggles to find companionship and balance love with his God-given duty to watch over humankind.

I gave Aza his trench coat, button-down shirts, and 501s. His fashion sense was inspired by John Constantine in the Hellblazer comic books and the angels in Wings of Desire.

Angel by Abbott Handerson Thayer

Barbelo – Barbelo (barb el oh) is one of my favorite angels in the books. She is a consistently good-hearted, generous, and helpful angel. Brian described her as a Venice Beach angel. He gave her the men’s blazers she wears, with the cuffs turned back. I gave her the silver-shot scarves and sandals.

In mythology, Barbelo is an archon, one of the Gnostic angels tasked with governing the running of the world. She’s described as “perfect in glory.” I took that to mean that she behaves as you hope an angel would: helping each creature she meets to become a perfected version of itself.

In the gnostic Texts of the Savior, Barbelo is the daughter of Pistis Sophia, whose name meant wisdom. Sophia sought knowledge that was forbidden to angels, which some texts claim was sexual relations with her fellow angels. Of Sophia’s union was born Barbelo, the only angel to have a mother and many fathers.

In our books, other angels — particularly Muriel — judge Barbelo for the conditions of her birth, even though they claim to believe that all things happen by the will of God.

Michael standing on the dragon (which represents Satan) by Martin Schongauer

Michael – The greatest of all angels in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic writing is Michael (traditionally Mee ka el). Michael serves as Prince of the Presence, chief of archangels, and leader of God’s Host. During the War in Heaven, Michael’s name was used as a war chant. He is an angel of righteousness and mercy, who vanquished Satan to Hell and bound him in chains.

Michael has a very rich mythology. He is said to have been the first angel to bow before humanity. After Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden and died in the wilderness, Michael helped convince the Lord to cleanse Adam’s soul and admit it to Heaven.

Michael visited Emperor Constantine the Great at Constantinople, inspired Joan of Arc with the courage to save France, and is said to have led the angelic bowmen at the Battle of Mons in World War I. The Book of Revelation says that Michael will command the Lord’s hosts in the final conflict at the end of the world.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared Michael the patron of policemen. That inspired me to cast him as the California Highway Patrol officer on his motorcycle in Lost Angels. In appearance, he favors Samuel Jackson.

Michael is said to have wings the color of emeralds. I wish I’d been able to work that detail into the novels.

Benozzo Gozzoli’s angels chanting the “Gloria.”

Muriel – Muriel was a creation of Brian’s. He saw her as one of the relentlessly healthy gym bunnies in LA, always dressed in an immaculate gray track suit and spotless white leather Reeboks.

Formerly a member of the Heavenly Choir, responsible for singing the Eternal Hymn, Muriel strayed from the purpose she was created to serve when she watched the angels battling demons on the Plains of Heaven. Muriel longed to fight alongside them and become a warrior angel. In consequence, she was sent down to Earth, which she views as a punishment. She’s been stationed in Los Angeles for the last century.

According to A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels, Muriel was a male angel whose name came from the Greek word for myrrh. He was the angel of the month of June, ruler of Cancer in the zodiac, and when invoked from the south, could grant a magic carpet. We didn’t get a chance to work any of that into our books.

Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke

Rafael – I’m not sure what Brian had in mind when he described Rafael as dressed in an immaculate white suit and acting like a gameshow host. I always pictured him like Mister Roarke (as portrayed by Ricardo Montalban) on Fantasy Island: relentlessly cheery and quite terrifying.

Traditionally, Raphael is one of the Seven Holy Angels who attend the throne of God. He is the angel of healing, charged specifically with healing the Earth. He’s known as the sociable archangel, happiest of all angels with the best sense of humor.

Raphael often served as God’s messenger. He brought Noah the knowledge he needed to build the ark and healed Jacob’s thigh after his wrestling match with the angel in the Book of Genesis. According to the Testament of Solomon, Raphael delivered the ring which enslaved demons to King Solomon so he could build the Temple in Jerusalem. Raphael helped Tobias win Sarah as his bride by besting Asmodeus in the Book of Tobit. We tied the story of Tobias and Sarah into Angelus Rose.

The Field of the Slain by Evelyn de Morgan

Samael – I wanted to include a traditional Angel of Death in our books (because of course I would). Originally, we called him Azrael, but that was too confusing with Azaziel, Asmodeus, and Ashleigh as characters, too. Fairly early on, his name got changed to Samael.

From the start, Samael (sa my el) was linked with Muriel. She considers him a friend because she thinks he’s as merciless as she is. She doesn’t realize he’s merely relentless in his mission, which extends to angels and demons, as well as to humanity.

In the Kabbalah, the seraph Samael is known as the “severity of God.” His name is a combination of “sam,” the word for poison, and “el” which indicates his holiness. When he stands above the dying, Samael drips a single drop of poison into their mouths. They see him at the last minute before death. Apparently, he was one of the angels of death sent to retrieve the soul of Moses when the Lawgiver died.

In some rabbinic texts, Samael is cast as a demon. The Golden Legend says that dogs howl as he flies through town. I wish we’d worked that into Angelus Rose.

Shebniel and Shebethiel are two of the 70 childbed angels named in the Book of the Angel Raziel, in which all celestial and earthly knowledge is set down. The childbed angels were invoked at the time of childbirth and tasked with watching over children until they could be circumcised or baptized, depending on their family’s religious tradition. The names of the childbed angels were inscribed on amulets hung on cradles.

Shebethiel, who appears with a blue mohawk and a punk rock Needle Exchange t-shirt, was a tribute to my friend Claud, who has worn both those things. He is one of the fiercest, gentlest people I’ve ever known.

Yehudiah – Named in The Zohar, Yehudiah (yeh who die ah) is one of the chief angelic envoys. He is a beneficent angel of death who bears aloft the souls of the dead.

In Angelus Rose, Brian conflated Yehudiah with the recording angel who stands on some grave monuments, inscribing the name of the dead person in the Book of Life. Yehudiah appears at the end of the battle to tally the names (and final destinations) of the dead.

Zadkiel – “The Righteousness of God” is another of the seven angels who stand in the presence of God. In Jewish lore, he held back Abraham’s arm, when the patriarch was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac. Zadkiel’s traditional symbol is a dagger like the one as Abraham would have used.

Although Zadkiel is the angel of benevolence, he is a companion of Michael whenever he goes into battle. Rather than fight, Zadkiel bears Michael’s standard.

Zadkiel is the chief or prince of the choir, which is how he comes into our story. He served as Muriel’s Choirmaster, when she sang the Ever-spun Hymn in Heaven. I gave him his dreadlocks and maroon suit. Brian gave him his golden wings and tiger-striped eyes.

We used a stack of books to research our angels and devils for the As Above, So Below novels, but the primary ones were:

A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels by Gustav Davidson, written in 1967 and republished by Macmillan in 1980.

Angels A to Z: A Who’s Who of the Heavenly Host by Matthew Bunson, published by Crown in 1996.

Angels: An Endangered Species by Malcolm Godwin, published by Simon and Schuster in 1990.

Heaven: An Illustrated History of the Higher Realms by Timothy Freke, published by Conari Press in 1996.

You can learn more about our succubus/angel love story here: https://lorenrhoads.com/writing/as-above-so-below/

If you’d like to order the “boxed” set from me, I’ll throw in a little special gift. You can check Lost Angels & Angelus Rose out at my bookstore. They’re also available individually on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, or as ebooks on Smashwords.

 

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Tools to Make Working at Home More Fun

So here we are again (or still), working from home until our chance at a vaccine finally comes along. Here are a handful of things that have helped me get work done in my breakfast nook/office over the last year. (Truth: I get no income from these items. I just like them.)

1. Fingerless gloves

I don’t know about your house, but as a rule, San Francisco doesn’t believe in insulation in the walls. We’re in California, so it doesn’t get cold, right? (It’s 45 outside at the moment.) My office, with its uninsulated outside wall, tends toward the shivery side. One of the things that has really helped me keep my fingers moving is my collection of fingerless gloves. My favorites came from Nice Tattoo Crochet for Hire.

She makes plain black gloves (or whatever color tickles your fancy), as well as Star Wars-inspired gloves, and now she’s working on “tattoo” gloves. Keeping warm will boost your productivity, I promise.

2. Timeular time-tracking device

Last year, I tried two devices for tracking my time. One of them was cheaper, but it never worked and they had no customer service. The other was a Timeular. It’s basically an 8-sided toy that allows you to assign a different task to each face. When you begin that task, you turn the Timeular to that face and it tracks your time on a desktop app.

I found Timeular easy to use, fun to play with, and really motivational. If I had only managed 5 hours of work in a day (between constitutional crises, doom-scrolling the news, and what-have-you), I could usually persuade myself to turn off Twitter and get another hour’s work done, thanks to Timeular.

3. Wireless noise-cancelling JBL headphones

As I said before, my office is a former breakfast nook. That means it’s slightly larger than a hallway between the front door and the kitchen.  It doesn’t have a door that I can close. Getting my family to leave me alone to work was a challenge until I discovered JBL noise-canceling headphones. They were pricey, but oh so worth it.  As long as I have them on — whether I’m listening to music or not — no one talks to me.  It’s lovely when I need to concentrate.

4. Hidrate Spark water bottle

I don’t drink enough water. I know I should drink more, but I often don’t remember. When someone suggested a water bottle that lights up when you need to take a drink, I thought it was a silly toy. Strangely enough, it actually works.  And the Hidrate water bottles are pretty, too.

Drinking all that water solves my other problem, too:  remembering to get up from my desk every so often to walk around before I get stiff.

5. Book Darts

These are my secret weapon. They’re a little hard to see in the photograph, but they are tiny aluminum bookmarks that slide over the edge of the page to mark something you’d like to quote later. My cemetery books are full of them, which is a huge improvement over underlining things and dog-earing the pages. I buy Book Darts by the hundreds. They’re available from Amazon, but I prefer to get them direct from the maker.

6. My life-changing planner

I know I’ve written about this before, but the Spooky Writer’s Planner I created with Emerian Rich really has changed my life. I track everything here: where I am in all my projects, what my next steps are, people to contact, questions to research, when to send out my newsletter… It has been huge to see all of that in one place.

The planner is undated, so you can begin to use it any time. It’s available from Amazon in paperback or (my preference) as a printable download from Etsy. Here’s the homepage: http://www.emzbox.com/horroraddicts/spookyplanner.html

 

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Come Write with Me

I am now an event organizer for Shut Up & Write!

In the Before Times, I used to attend two Shut Up & Write groups that met in cafes in San Francisco. Since the pandemic trapped me at home, I’ve been attending various SU&W groups over Zoom. As strange as it sounds, it is surprisingly motivating to have a screen filled with other writers working, even if we’re scattered around the world. I feel like, if as long as they’re working, I should be, too.

Now I’ve volunteered to host my own Shut Up & Write session.

Please come join me every Tuesday morning at 10 AM PST, if you’d like to have a couple hours of peace to yourself or if you have something to get out of your system or if, by any chance, you are working on a novel.  All are welcome, as long as you’re willing to put your head down and bang out some words. If you like, I will give you a gold star just for showing up.

Last week, only three of us showed up to write.  That was okay:  we got some work done and felt virtuous.

It would be more fun with more people. I’m just saying.

The RSVP link: https://www.meetup.com/shutupandwriteonlineevents/events/vdggdsycccbzb/

The description:

Staying at home to do your civic duty during the COVID-19 pandemic? Join us via Zoom for a couple of hours of writing from the comfort of your own home.

I’ve discovered that it’s strikingly helpful to write with others, even if we’re all just hanging out online together. See if it’s true for you at 10AM Pacific time on Tuesday mornings.

Be it a book, blog, script, essay, dissertation, resume, melody, poem or just plain work stuff, you are invited to write it with us. Instead of just thinking about writing, come and get some real writing done. Don’t worry, no one will see what you’ve written or give you unsolicited advice.

SCHEDULE:
10:00 – Quick introductions
10:15 – Timer starts: write until noon
12:00 – The End: chat, take off, or keep writing

WHAT DO I NEED?
A computer with working camera and microphone, a good internet connection, and optionally, headphones or earbuds. Also, an idea of what project you’d like to spend your time on.

OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS:
Technical difficulties are part and parcel of getting together online.

If you’ve never used your computer for an online meeting, take a few minutes before we meet to familiarize yourself with how to use Zoom by reviewing the below tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VebiA5pGq0

If you run into technical issues, remember that this is the time you’ve carved out for yourself and your writing. Whether or not you are able to join our online meet-up, go ahead and get your writing started, then leave a comment below to let us know how it went for you.

In addition:

I’m hosting Creative Support, a non-Shut Up & Write group for writers and artists, on Zoom on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon PST. The format is more or less the same: a few minutes to check in at the beginning, then two hours of silent, self-directed creation.

If you’d rather join that group, drop me a note through this contact form and I’ll send you the link.

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