“Fire Asssurance” eBook available FREE

Fire Assurance
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I’ve worked overtime to release an eBook version of “Fire Assurance”! It’s available absolutely free at the following retailers:

You’ll notice the glaring omission, of course—what about Kindle/Amazon? You’re not left out! if you’re a Kindle user, please download a free “.mobi” version from Smashwords above, and sideload it onto your Kindle device or app. Or, if you just can’t stand dealing with sideloading, you can get it at Amazon for $0.99.

(Sadly, Amazon does not permit authors whose books are available elsewhere to offer them for free. Eventually, Amazon will notice and lower the Amazon price to match the free price elsewhere.)

Please feel free to share “Fire Assurance” with friends! As long as you don’t change the contents, you’re absolutely at liberty to send it to anyone you want.

“Fire Assurance” Short Story Released!

My Fraser and Spencer short story, “Fire Assurance”, has been published as part of the Shadowed Doorways anthology, edited by Elisabeth Ashlin (et al.)! Shadowed Doorways contains 26 stories involving darkness and concealment. If you’d like to support NaNo Los Angeles and National Novel Writing Month’sliterary education programs, the anthology is available on Amazon.com at

Shadowed Doorways

All proceeds go to support NaNo Los Angeles, and the National Novel Writing month. I receive no royalties.

“Fane of Air and Darkness” Update #amwriting #books

Let’s get the bad news over with first:

I now expect to release Fane of Air and Darkness in late August or early September. I know, I know—I promised June 2017.

I have excuses, of course: life happens. But the truth is that what I might have released this month was not the novel you deserve.

You deserve 1) a page-turning mystery, 2) a fascinating character study, and 3) a full-up fantasy world. Had I tried to release this month, you could only have gotten #2 and part of #3.

Now for the good news: I know the writing is going well when I want to read my own stuff over. I know it’s going well when I’m sure I’ve gotten everything in that needs to go in, and I’m meeting my word count marks. I’m sure it’s going well when I want to shove it in front of my fellow writers and say, “See? Isn’t this GREAT?”

The writing’s going really well.

In the next month or so I hope to send my newsletter subscribers some “cutting room floor” scenes—fun stuff, but not relevant to the story I’m telling. The hard part will be picking things that are interesting but not dripping with spoilers. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s a sketch I did when the writing wasn’t going so well and I needed a creative break: a portrait of Jacob Tenebry Spencer:

Thanks for stopping by,

SF Lakin

Creating Burberry’s Boarding House #amwriting #books

Fraser's rooms floorplan
My floor plan for Burberry’s boarding house

When I sent The Bully Trap to my beta reader, some of her questions told me that I needed to be clearer in my own mind about the layout of Fraser and Spencer’s rooms. So I did some research about mid-Victorian London homes, and found complete plans for a row house, drawn in 1865.

The plan I modified was for a mid-row townhouse; I imagine Burberry’s house to be an end unit, which would have been wider. (I imagine Fraser’s sitting room as wider than shown.) But look how large it is! Although I didn’t find a scale (how many inches equals how many feet) you can see that it had room for two carriages and stabling for four horses—in other words, a “two-car garage.” Also, it was fitted out with the latest modern conveniences—flush toilets (which imply a steady piped water supply) and gaslights. Hot water would have been on tap from “geysers” (pronounced GEEzers, gas-fired appliances) anyplace it was wanted. Upstairs rooms for the family had full baths, which would almost certainly have had a geyser installed in each.

The full plans show five floors in the main house, two floors in the carriage house, and a full basement extending from beneath the street in front to under the carriage house. In addition to large bedrooms enough to house at least three generations of family, there were servants’ quarters for ten or more.

Mrs Burberry would certainly have converted almost every square foot in the family areas to accommodate lodgers. Fraser’s apartment, with its connection to the floor above, would have been particularly spacious—and expensive.

FAQ: “Where Do You Get Your Characters?” #amwriting

My readers who meet me in person often ask me, “Where do you get your characters?”

It varies. Sometimes a character is loosely based on a person or two I know. Sometimes he started life as a literary character—though he’s unrecognizable by the time I get through with him. Sometimes I’m sitting at a blank computer screen and she just walks into my brain and says something like, “Hey, chica, this book gonna be about me.”

I don’t have an elaborate system set up. I know writers who fill out three-page Role Playing Game character design forms for their protagonists, villains, and main supporting characters. That’s way too organized for me.

What I’m looking for in a protagonist is a character that I like and who is interesting enough for me to want to spend six months or more of my life with him/her/it. Likeable can mean such things as: Intelligent. Kind or becoming so. Interesting means flaws: Fraser’s temper and PTSD. Spencer’s lack of connection with other humans. I’ve abandoned books with protagonists whom I either started disliking or found boring.

I usually find a photo or do a drawing of each main character in order to have a visual image of him. I hope you enjoy my sketch of Jonathan Fraser! If you subscribe to my newsletter, check your email for a link to his biography. If you’re not a subscriber, subscribe now to get access to Fraser’s bio.

Fane of Air and Darkness (Episode Two) Cover Complete #amwriting #books

Once again, RL Sather has designed my beautiful cover art.

Fane of Air and Darkness
Fane, n. 1. Temple. 2. An elf, a fairy.

The first draft is roughly half-finished. With any good fortune, I should complete it by February at the latest, which will put it into beta reading. After my beta readers send their feedback, I’ll be editing, polishing, and publishing. I’m shooting for a second quarter 2017 release—you won’t have to wait long!

Fane of Air and Darkness (Episode Two) Under Construction #amwriting #books

I’m working hard on Fane of Air and Darkness, and the first draft is roughly one-third complete. Fane will be a full-length novel, starring our charming gents Fraser and Spencer, with a bit of murder and a hint of magic to spice things up.

The Bully Trap is now in wide release. The eBook version is available at your favourite online retailer (Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and others.) It’s in the retailers’ international stores, so if the above USA links don’t work for you, just search! Paper copies are available for purchase at Createspace.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com, and the Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and Amazon Europe sites.

I want every reader who buys a copy of The Bully Trap to have a free review copy of Episode Two, Fane of Air and Darkness. If you joined my list from the link in the back of The Bully Trap, you’re covered! Your email is already in the list of readers who will receive their coupons when Fane is released. Otherwise, just email a copy of your Bully Trap receipt to
SF at SFLakin dot com
and I’ll add you to the review copy list.

I want every reader who buys a paper copy of Bully Trap to have a free ebook copy of Bully Trap as well! If you bought a paper copy and aren’t covered under Amazon’s Matchbook program, again just email your receipt to
SF at SFLakin dot com
and I’ll send you a link for your ebook.

If you’d like to listen to my weekly complaints about how beastly hard the life of a writer is, please visit my writing blog, A Study in Silver.