Tagged writing

7 Side Effects of Being a Full Time Author

Posted by Gail Carriger

I’ve been a full time author for five years now, and I’ve learned a few things. Here, Gentle Reader, are some of the side effects of my life choices.

1. My spelling is worse than it ever was.

While my typing has gotten faster my accuracy certainly has not. Follow me on Twitter for the sad consequences of this fact.

2. I have never read that book you think I should have.

New book, old book, whatever the book is that you think I should read because of what I write, or assume I have read because of my genre. I probably haven’t read it.

3. I know about all the octopuses on the internet.

All of them. All the time. First.

Octopus Mug

4. My passion for the oxford comma is unbending.

I’m open to wiggle room on other points of grammatical enforcement, but you will pry the oxford comma from my cold dead calloused fingers.

5. Cocktail parties are a minefield.

What do you do?
I’m a writer.
What do you write?
Commercial genre fiction.

Then the conversation inevitably goes horribly wrong, either…

  1. I have to explain genre by using dumb Hollywood examples.
  2. They assume I’m some starving artist type who lives off my tech-bound significant other.
  3. They want to tell me all about the brilliant book they have inside them. (Which is invariably not brilliant and should stay inside, preferably buried with a small but elegant tombstone.)
  4. They want me to write the book of their: life, times, weak imagination.

Godeys Sept 1872

6. I have no sense of time

I never know what day of the week it is and I never know if it’s a national holiday. Ever. The number of times I have gone to the bank and then been confused as to why it’s closed are almost as frequent as the number of times I’ve gotten up and gone into the office, even though it’s Saturday.

7. There is no retirement, there is only writing

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.}


  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 0r 2019.


The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger, now also in audio.
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

Love Bytes says:

“And if that is how the author treats her secondary characters, you can be damn sure that her protagonists are wonderfully written. They have layers and flaws–some not so obvious on first or second inspection–and grow throughout the book in the way all good characters should.”


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1900ongesoleil- “The Umbrella Maker” Studio Shin-e-Do ( Kobe, Japan ). End 19th century? Kimbei Kusakabe.(1841-1934). Photographer

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

My Top Five Suggestions for People Thinking about Writing a Book

Book News:


Quote of the Day:

The truth about Gail & tea comes out at last

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!

5 Most Common Questions This Author Gets From Readers About Being An Author ~ Occasional FAQ

Posted by Gail Carriger

Well hello there, Gentle Reader.

I get a great many questions from readers about being an author. Many I could probably have guessed at and a few surprise me. Here’s a selection of some of the most common things I’m asked (online and in person) specifically about the author business side of things.


Part of Miss Gail’s Occasional FAQ series.

1. Where do you get your ideas?

My arse, if I sit on it long enough.
Seriously? I pay very close attention to my friends when they’re drunk, but usually inspiration comes to me when I’m contemplating the absurdity of the universe and at the most inconvenient time – like in the shower.

2. Was being an author always a goal for you?

You betcha. Along with sleeping in Pompeii, owning a motorcycle, traveling to Egypt, and eating guinea pig. Four out of five ain’t bad.

3. What are your least favorite parts to write?

The nookie and the humor. It’s true what they say; it is harder to make people laugh than cry. With the smooching scenes, I keep embarrassing myself.

4. What edition should I buy that gives the author the most money?

Honestly, the first time someone asked me this I was genuinely flummoxed. Now I realize it comes from a place of patronage, really wanting to support the author.

So, for my indie (self-published) projects, here it is in order of “the most money comes directly to me” via royalties…

  1. Directly from my website (via the Gumroad interface)
  2. Amazon digital (USA)
  3. B&N | Kobo | iTunes digital (USA)
  4. Amazon print
  5. Elsewhere print
  6. Subscription venues
  7. Short story reprints (anthologies/audio collections)

I genuinely do not know the order of…

  1. Traditionally published (digital/print/subscription/foreign editions & translations)
  2. Audiobooks (hybrid)
  3. 3rd party indirect sellers (on Amazon & elsewhere) (hybrid)
  4. Libraries (hybrid)

Yes, I can figure out how much I am theoretically owed via my contracts but with advances, flash sales, discounts, distribution, wholesale deals, subscription models, and licensing fees this is unbelievably difficult to tease out.

I don’t get any $ from…

  1. Used copies (print, hybrid)
  2. Charity auctions
  3. Charity foreign edition sales
  4. Giveaways

I’m talking purely fiscally here, there is a return on many of these, it just isn’t always in hard cash.

5. What’s the best thing I can do to help an author?

  1. Buy the book.
  2. Leave a review.

Other things are sweet and thoughtful: tribute, fan mail, cosplay, social media interaction, but honestly the absolute nicest thing you can do for any author is leave them a review.

Fan Art Conall by Matt Harrison via Twitter

I have a career because YOU spread the word and shared the love. For no other reason.


Hey, thanks for that.


Miss Gail

Want more like this?

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for July is The Sumage Solution by G. L. Carriger.}


  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 0r 2019.
  • How to Marry a Werewolf (In 10 Easy Steps) ~ A Claw & Courtship Novella
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Featuring a certain white wolf we all love to hate (except those of us weirdos who love to love him). Coming 2018.


The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters #1 by G. L. Carriger
Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Gail’s guest blog post for Horn Book Review: Fashion-Forward Vampires and the Power of Humor in Genre Fiction

Book News:

Parasol Protectorate in Thailand (thanks Pete)

Quote of the Day:

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!

Chapter Titles And Other Quandaries

Posted by Gail Carriger

I have a mad love of chapter titles, Gentle Reader. You may, or may not, have noticed that all of my books have chapter titles. I’ve no idea where this love comes from, that’s the weird thing. Yes many of my early reader books had chapter titles, but it’s not like as I got older they didn’t fade away as they mainly do in genre. And didn’t most other authors have that too? Yet they readily abandon the chapter title. Perhaps it’s because of my comedy bent?

For example, here’s a look at the chapter titles in Romancing the Inventor:

  1. In Which We Hope Vampires are Perverted
  2. In Which Inventors Have Powerful Dimples
  3. In Which Equations Prove Fruitful and Multiply
  4. In Which Werewolves Come Calling
  5. In Which Things Get Perverted at Supper
  6. In Which Imogene Contemplates Rodger
  7. In Which We Learn the Source of Vanilla
  8. In Which There are More Dimples
  9. In Which Werewolves Meddle
  10. In Which We Solve All the Equations

I don’t always use the “In Which” tag, but in this particular book I really wanted to. It felt right. Perhaps, if you want me to seem very smart, I’m playing on the idea of solitary women of the dark past (particularly those with aberrant sexual interests), being monikered witch? (There’s you college essay for you.) Competence, the book I’m working on now, has a different approach. But it still has chapter titles.

One of my great joys as an indie author is that I get to make sure my chapter titles appear at the front of the ebook. My formatter and I had a long hash out of the necessity of this and how I wanted them to appear, exactly. Because when I can be in control, I am such a control freak.

I don’t necessarily gravitate to reading books that have chapter titles, but I do notice when they appear and I like it. Possibly because it is so rare these days.

I wonder why it’s so out of fashion. Too much like non-fiction? Perceived as juvenile?

{Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford.}



Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

 After a design by Cornelis Pronk (Dutch, Amsterdam 1691–1759 Amsterdam), Chinese, for Dutch market

 Cornelis Pronk (Dutch, Amsterdam 1691–1759 Amsterdam)
Plate depicting a lady with parasol, ca. 1734–37
Chinese, Yongzheng (1723–35)–Qianlong (1736–95) period
Hard-paste porcelain painted with cobalt blue under transparent glaze (Jingdezhen ware); H. 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.); Diam. 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Helena Woolworth McCann Collection, Purchase, Winfield Foundation Gift, 1968 (68.153)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Globo dirigible de M. Giffard

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Publishing Predictions: What Will Happen in 2017

Book News:

Dianna Sachs says of Romancing the Inventor:

“The relationship between Madame Lefoux and the intrepid parlormaid, Imogene, has a sweetness that underlies their discovery of each other. The pair must navigate their emerging feelings for each other while withstanding the manipulations of a few familiar characters – some benign and others decidedly hostile.”

Quote of the Day:

“Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!

Writing Modes ~ Work, Fugue, & Trance

Posted by Gail Carriger

So, Gentle Reader, I tend to think in terms of three different types of writing modes. I haven’t talked much with other authors, and I’m sure everyone is different but I thought perhaps you’d like a peek into my divisions of author ability, as it were.


1. Work Writing

Both the hardest and most common, this is the type of writing that feels like sweating blood. This is when I sit down and squeeze out the words, one after another. I try not to question myself, and just do it because I must, because it’s my job, and because I have a deadline. I make up games and bribe myself. I’ll do lots of silly things just to force myself to write those 2000 words for that day. When us authors talk about “training writer muscles,” this is the kind of writing we mean. The work of it. The business of it. If you want to be a career author I devoutly believe you must learn how to execute this kind of writing and never to rely on the other two.

2. Fugue Writing

I can’t remember who first used the term fugue with me, but I definitely stole it from someone (possibly one of the Armenian Lovers). I don’t like the idea of a muse (to me muse feels like I’m giving someone else credit for my work, talk to the Ancient Greeks about it). However, to use that analogy, fugue is the state when the muse has you in her warm embrace. Fugue is the best of writing. It’s being transported and having the words flow out of you. It’s the fingertips as conduit for something else. I think of the something else as my subconscious. Sometimes it’s Lord Akeldama. Fugue is when writing is fun and easy. For hobby writers, this can be the only type of writing that you do. I used to be like that in high school and college, only writing when I felt motivated. Chasing fugue, however, is the death nell for the professional author. It can’t be caught and you waste valuable time if you sit around waiting for it to drop. Instead you must activate Work Writing. It can also be dangerous if it happens too much in a book. To me it’s like a natural writer’s high, and I don’t want to depend upon it to get me typing in the morning. I find if I’ve had a run of fugue on a book then it is that much harder to motivate to finish without the fugue later.

3. Trance Writing

Trace is the rarest writing mode, for me. It’s not always pleasant, particularly for those around me. Fugue I usually welcome, immerse myself in happily, and then hop back out of, like a delightful swim in a cool lake. Trance is more like a wicked undertow. It drags me in and keeps me there sometimes for days. It’s hugely productive and I can double or even triple my word count, occasionally more than that, but I’m also absent. I’ll physically stop writing but I’m still there in my head, and pretty much anything and everything can cause a return to the computer. It can be painful on my body because I just forget things: food, posture, exercise, wrist pain.

Witness this conversation when I entered trance state over Poison or Protect:

AB: What do you mean you forgot to eat?
Gail: I remembered eventually. I also didn’t play with the cat.
AB: Poor little Lilliput!
Gail to the cat: I am sorry Lilliput. I’m just not really here right now. I’m somewhere in southern England in 1867. I promise, I’ll return eventually.

That’s what it feels like, usually for 24-48 hours I’m just absent, somewhere else.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this only happens once or twice a year.

Now shall I tell you the great secret regarding all 3 of these modes?

The Glorious Truth

The reader will never know the difference.

In fact there’s a good chance when you go back a reread it yourself, you won’t be able to tell the difference. I never can. The hard working parts, the times it was like pulling teeth to get that daily word count done, the easy fugue times when the imagery simply flowed out of me, the rare and disconcerting trance times… You know what? They all read the same in the end. They all require editing. LOTS of editing. They were equally good and equally crap.

The point, in the end, is to sit down at the computer and type.

Rita winners on cover of RWA National Magazine

Rita winners on cover of RWA National Magazine

In other news congrats to the Rita Winners. Personal shout out to Alexis Hall’s For Real which took the erotic romance category and Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s Him which won mid-length contemporary romance. I read and enjoyed both these books, and it’s lovely to see m/m step in and take a non-LBGTQ specific categories!

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}


  • Romancing the Inventor ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Working proof. Releases Nov. 1 2016.
    LBGT romance featuring a parlourmaid bent on seducing a certain cross-dressing inventor who is too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?
  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Outline.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novella? Novel? Who knows.
    Status: Rough draft.
    Something new and different for Gail, contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.



My Sister’s Song

The warrior Mithra must repel a Roman legion alone and armed only with one very tasty weapon.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .


Ensemble Lucien Lelong, 1926 The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .


Self & the wonderful Ty!

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Female Authors

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  


Book News:


Quote of the Day:

“Once we had been friends, once we had been lovers. And now we were just two people who knew each other too well, who had—through carelessness, not malice—hurt each other too much.”
~ Glitterland by Alexis Hall

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Victorian Money Means Coins ~ Research Behind Prudence

Posted by Gail Carriger


This is one of those blog posts in which I demonstrate the nitty-gritty of research in an aggravatingly nit-picky way. This is an amended reboot from 2012 when I first started writing Prudence.

Read at your own risk.

To protect the guilty I’m not going to name any names, Gentle Reader, and I’d like to state up front that currency is not my expertise.

However, I was reading a book of the alt-historical romantic variety. The hero visits a whore in Victorian London, 1883.

For her pains he “pulled out far more notes than planned and handed them to her.”

I had to put the book down.

It was very upsetting.

Coins vs. Notes in Victorian England


First, bank notes are drawn on a bank more like a cashier’s check (or an IOU) than paper money today, which means the whore in our above example would have to go into a bank to redeem her notes or find herself a very non-suspicious tradesman, in modern times this is a little like trying to break a $1000 bill.


Second, no one regularly carried notes or paid for anything with notes until well after the 1920s. Culturally, no one would carry that much money into the kind of area of London where whore houses are located.

For services people paid with coin, with tradesmen (who handle goods) the wealthy actually paid via their butler or valet or abigail’s coin, or on account, because it was beneath them to physically touch money.

Even, as the author was trying to get across, this was a highly generous gesture, NOT WITH PAPER MONEY HE WOULDN’T.


We writers all make mistakes. I have made more than my share. And there comes a time when every historical author must stop researching and begin writing (or the book never gets written).

I do understand and believe that some modernization is necessary in alt-history genre fiction because most readers want their books to be fun and entertaining. It is our business, as authors, to provide that first. (Now for genres like historical fiction or biographies this is a different matter. I am speaking in terms of managing expectations.)


However, I do think something as basic as currency should be second knowledge if you are going to write in any alternate time period. It’s like getting the basic clothing terms correct. (In another unnamed steampunk novel, a corset was referred to as a bodice. FYI, both terms are incorrect. At the time, a corset would have been mainly referred to as stays. The bodice is the top part of a dress. Thus, I spent the entire scene confused into thinking the character in question was swanning around with only her torso dressed, rather than entirely in her underthings as was intended. But, I digress . . .)

A corset AKA stays

Godeys July 1872 Bodices

On Victorian Money (from Baedecker’s London 1896)

  • sovereign or pound (gold) = 20 shillings
  • half-sovereign (gold) = 10 shillings
  • crown (silver) = 5 shillings
  • half-crown (silver) = (2 shillings & a six penny piece)
  • double florin (silver – rare) = 4 shillings
  • florin (silver) = 2 shillings
  • shilling (silver & same size as a sovereign) = 12 pennies
  • six penny (silver) = 6 pennies
  • three penny (silver) = 3 pennies
  • penny (bronze) = 4 farthings
  • half penny = 2 farthings
  • farthing
From lot at auction.


I know, I know, overly complicated. Think back to that wonderful scene with the money exchange in Room With a View when Cousin Charlotte comes to visit Lucy’s family.

“In England alone of the more important states of Europe the currency is arranged without reference to the decimal system.”
~ Karl Baedeker, 1896

Victorian Money in Terms of Value

In 1896: 1 sovereign was approximately: 5 American dollars, 25 francs, 20 German marks, or 10 Austrian florins.

To reiterate: The Bank of England issued notes for 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pounds or more. They were generally not used in ordinary life as most people “dealt in coin.” Gentlemen and ladies, when shopping, either had a servant with them to handle the coin (including gratuities & all fares) or paid on credit (AKA account). A shop would then send a bill around to the townhouse at the end of the month on Black Monday, which would be paid by the house steward, accountant, or personal secretary. A gentleman handling his own money is either no gentleman or engaged in nefarious activities like gambling or trade.

Baedeker advises letters of credit (AKA circular notes) drawn on a major bank for travel, to be exchanged for local currency upon arrival. He also advises never carrying a full days worth of coinage about your person.

It’s important, as historical writers, for us to grasp a larger picture – so allow me to attempt to put this into perspective…

Middle class wages per annum 1850-1890:

  • A Bank of England Clerk £75 to £500
  • Civil Service clerk £80 to £200
  • Post Office clerk £90 to £260
  • Senior Post Office clerk £350 to £500

So let’s say a middle class wage was anything from £75 to £500 a year, that’s £1.44 – £9.61 a week for a relatively comfortable lifestyle.

Since there is no £1 note, to “pull out far more notes than planned” as our unnamed author writes above, and give such to a whore, means at least £5 per note. More than one means at least £10. Not only should this character not have been carrying that kind of money, he just tipped that woman better than one week’s salary for the upper middle class to someone who likely could never break that bill, today that’s something on the order of $2,500.

A gentleman of lower standing, say a younger son with a Living could expect something similar to upper middle class £350-500.

Titled or large landed gentry could pull in anything from £1000 to £10,000 a year (what, you thought the 99% was a new thing?).

A dowry for landed country gentry’s daughter of few means would be about £100 a year.

Still, even the highest aristocrat wouldn’t tip in notes, ever. If for no other reason than it’s the kind of thing the neuvo riche, or An American might do. (It’s worth noting that poor were a great deal poorer, earning shillings per week or less.)

Later on, this same author writes “cost me twenty quid to delay matters” of bribing a coroner to delay a funeral. That’s a heavy bribe, about $5000. I couldn’t find any information on coroner’s pay in Victorian times (the job was either uncommon, not yet official, or went by another name) so let’s say grave digger, which is well below middle class, so a £20 bribe would probably be about a year’s income for the man.

End of Rant

A Budget from !9th Century Historical Tidbits

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Or should I say “out of my chest”? Chink chink.

So, if you have a Victorian setting (really, anything up through the 1920s) what do we pay with?

Yes, that’s right children, coins!

This is also a rather depressingly clear indication of how Gail Carriger spends her weekends. I am such a dork.

“I may be a chump, but it’s my boast that I don’t owe a penny to a single soul – not counting tradesmen, of course.”
~ Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

How does this relate to Prudence?

Well might you ask. What I had to do (or thought I had to do) was determine the conversion rate between pounds and rupees traveling from England to India in 1895.

Unfortunately, Baedecker didn’t write for India.

What I ended up having to do was make some very loose estimations based on the above assumptions of middle class wages and the information I could source, which was monthly accounts for a household of four living in India on a diplomat’s wage between 1880 and 1897 (something on the order of £500 per annum). Here’s my fun chart:

Here’s hoping the above was, if not fun, at least informative or, if you yourself are an author, helpful.

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Pip pip!

{Gail’s monthly read along for January The Raven’s Ring by Patricia Wrede. You do not have to have read any other Lyra books.}


Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus Candle Holder

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Knickerbockers for Women: From Under the Hiking Skirts to the Fad of the Hour

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
“Writing my books I enjoy. It is the thinking them out that is apt to blot the sunshine from my life.”
― P.G. Wodehouse

Book News:
Sam of ARC Review says of Manners & Mutiny: “While I’m having a hard time letting these characters go, I won’t forget the mayhem they caused, and the joy they gave me as a reader.”

Quote of the Day:
“Da Silva announced his intention of settling in the library to commune with his muse. Curtis, feeling sorry for the muse, said that he preferred to explore the house and acquaint himself with its features.”
~ Think of England by KJ Charles

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
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