Guest Author: Chloe Neill (Pt 2 of 2)

Today, Literary Escapism is excited to welcome back Chloe Neill, author of the fabulous Chicagoland Vampires series – Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites and the soon to be released Twice Bitten. However, today, we’re celebrating her foray into the young adult genre with Firespell.

When Lily’s guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia’s. Lily’s ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she’s hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird—she keeps disappearing late at night and won’t tell Lily where she’s been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster.

Scout’s a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who’ve sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who’ve been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own—at least none that she’s discovered yet…

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Firespell – to one lucky winner.


Hi, everyone! This is the second part of the series in which I’m answering readers’ top ten writing and publishing (and the occasional Dark Elite or Chicagoland Vampires question). Enjoy!!

5. What made you write a story about a vampire? How did you know it would be different from the rest?

I loved reading urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and I wanted to write the kind of book I liked to read–a book with strong female heroine and a paranormal element of some kind. I decided I wanted to write about a female vampire, but I didn’t intend to write a vampire novel just because it was a vampire novel. I actually had a mental image of Ethan, and once I knew who he was–his stuffiness, his love of rules, and the manner in which he reigned over his vampires–I knew who I wanted Merit to be. The rest came from there!

4. Does the writing go more quickly for the second book in a series? Do you ever get writer’s block?

It depends, and definitely yes. Twice Bitten (CV3) went a lot faster than Friday Night Bites (CV2), but Firespell (DE1) went a lot faster than Hexbound (DE2). The characters do tend to speak a little louder as the series progresses, but I have lots of subplots in my books, so writing a follow-up means I have to keep track of more detail.

I definitely get writer’s block. It can be the short-term kind (I have NO idea how to write that scene) or the long-term kind (this novel has NO momentum; every 1,000 words is a struggle). I’ve written about strategies for dealing with writer’s block, but the most important strategy I’ve had is just to KEEP WRITING. I usually write at the end of a long day, and I’m often exhausted and not feeling even slightly creative. I make myself get out the 1,000 words, and just like running a marathon, you build one small milestone after another. Eventually, you’ve got a manuscript!

But yes–writing is sometimes exhausting, sometimes scary, and sometimes probably not very good. But like Nora Roberts said, you can’t fix a blank page. Take the time, and get it out.

3. Will Merit and Ethan end up together?

Aw, you know I’m not going to answer that, right?? I will say that if you’re waiting for the Chicagoland Vampires series to truly earn the moniker “paranormal romance,” you will be very happy on July 6. ;)

2. What goes into writing each book?

A LOT of time. :) I say that because I’m two weeks before the deadline for Hexbound, and I can look back at all the hours of writing behind me.

Generally, if you’re writing books in a series, a publisher will require an outline before the manuscript is submitted.  Thus, I now draft an outline prior to each book, and I revise the outline as I’m writing. That helps me keep track of subplots, days of the week and generally which character did what at what time.

I don’t tend to research items beforehand, but that’s specific to my books. (It would be a lot different if I was writing historical fiction and needed to prepare myself for appropriate customs, etc.) I do research various items as I’m writing the book. For example, while writing Hexbound, I’ve researched the Chicago Pedway, food from Northern India and sprites.

1. How do you know if your manuscript has been edited sufficiently for submission to publishers? Or, how do you know if your writing is “crap”?

Step One: If you aren’t sure if you’ve edited your manuscript sufficiently, you should probably keep editing. If you think your manuscript is amazing, you should probably keep editing. [If you want to know why the latter is especially true, check this out.]

Step Two: If you’ve completed your manuscript and you feel good about the story and the writing, do spend a little bit of time evaluating your potential bias. In other words, think about whether you’re a good, objective judge of whether the sentences are “good”. In this case, by “good,” I mean that there’s good flow from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph, the writing conforms to traditional grammatical norms, and the manuscript has been edited for misspellings and typographical problems.

Maybe you’ve never attended a writer’s workshop, and this is your first manuscript. But did you do a lot of writing in high school or college? Are you a journalist or copyeditor? Has your writing been edited, either by a professor or a supervisor?

Any of those tasks can help you build the skills you’ll need to write “good” sentences. So consider your writing resume. If you think it’s a little sparser than it should be, consider (1) getting in some writing practice at work when the opportunity arises; (2) taking a college or community college (or community group) writing class; or (3) join a critique group so that you can get independent opinions of your writing.

Personally, I only took a single English class in college, and had never really written fiction before. But I had done a LOT of academic and professional writing and editing, so I learned how to put sentences together that way. FYI, my two sentence-writing principles are these: the words must flow (so if my brain stutters through the clauses as I read, it’s not done), and the sentences must be as concise as possible (use big words if they’re appropriate, but don’t throw in clauses and prepositions when a couple of words or a possessive apostrophe will do).

Ultimately, of course, you’ll just have to send the darn thing out…

And on that note, good luck!


Wait a minute…we haven’t seen what Merit’s first name is yet? I thought I saw that somewhere, guess not though.

Thank you Chloe for sharing your words of wisdom on the publishing industry. I know of a certain husband who is going to be interested in your answers.

Contest Time! Chloe has graciously offered to give away a copy of Firespell – to one lucky winner. Recently, Chloe asked her readers what they wanted to know either about writing, research, publication, the Chicagoland Vampires and/or the Dark Elite series. In order to get your name in the drawing, all you have to do is answer this question: What question didn’t get asked? Was there something you wanted to know and no one brought it up? Now is the time to do that. Chloe will be back again next week with another top 5 questions her readers have asked.

As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat:

  • +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
  • +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
  • +1 Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and/or follow LE on Twitter
  • +1 subscribe to Literary Escapism – either via a reader or email (see the RSS button at the bottom of the sidebar)
  • +10 Purchase any of the Chicagoland Vampire novels – Some Girls Bite, Friday Night Bites or preorder Twice Bitten – or any print novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries, but it has to be through the LE Amazon Link.

The winner agrees to post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until April 1st, at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer and the List Randomizer.

I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. Hi Chloe,
    I just want to say that I really have enjoyed your books and look forward to reading your future books.

    My question is pretty simple: I know you say you just have to keep writing no matter what, but what really keeps you motivated to do so, even when things are tough and the storyline is just not there? Is there anything that helps you to get going again?

    I really appreciate the words of advice. As an aspiring writer, I love to read anything I can about the ins and outs of publishing and writing.

    Have a wonderful day!

    +1 email subscriber

    icewoman96 at gmail dot com

  2. What do you do to get into the mood for writing? Is there a ritual you go through before writing?

    +1 follow on twitter @throuthehaze

    +1 subscriber

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  3. #3-Ooooh la la! I’m peeing my pants in book anticipation! (Was that too much info? ;)

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that Mr. Fuddy Duddy Ethan who never has any fun wants Merit to go out and have fun? That question’s actually rhetorical, but seriously, he needs to lighten up.

  4. I already have Twice bitten pre-ordered on Amazon-I seriously can’t wait for it! My question is: Will that nice guy, but a bit of a whiner Morgan have a bigger role in the next book? :)

  5. Fabulous Q&A! It definitely held my interest. The Chicagoland Vampire series is one of the best urban fantasy series out there, and I am eagerly awaiting book three. I’d also like to try Firespell.

    I love that Merit is a silver-spoon princess who turned her back on ‘society’ and the advantages her family offered. Her name has always struck me as an ironic nod to how she chose to live her own life, by her own ‘merit.’ Am I reading more into her name than you intended? Or did you choose it with this purpose in mind?

  6. I haven’t read any of your books, yet. really looking forward to have the chance soon :)

    – What’s your favorite scene(s) on this book ? did you find it difficult to write it ?

    – Have you ever thought about doing a collaboration on a book with another Author ? if yes, who will it be ? and why ?


    * +1 Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and following LE on Twitter (@ becunique)

  7. Would love to read and review this! My question is – do you write longhand or on the computer? Do you think it makes a difference?

    I’m a follower on facebook. I’m not sure how to subscribe to the newsletter as it isn’t obvious to me. I DID purchase Some Girls Bite recently here in the UK but I bought it at a bookshop (was trying to help out bookstores etc).

    Hope I can still be entered though! Thank you! :)

  8. Thank you for recommending these books to me Jackie, I’ve only read the first one so far, I’m definitely going to grab the rest! And I REALLY want to know what Merit’s first name could be, it driving me crazy! Lol, anyway, thanks for (another) fantastic rec.

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