Thursday, February 28, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 25

Oh God, guys. Oh God. This is not good.

KITTO LAY AGAINST THE DARK BURGUNDY SHEETS LIKE A GHOST. His black curls made him seem paler. His eyes kept fluttering open, flashing blue, then shutting, leaving his blue eyes like gleaming bruises behind the thin skin of his closed lids.
At no point should the word "bruises" be a part of a sexy description.

What the hell am I saying? At no point should a fake twelve year old be part of a sexy description.

Rhys stood at the foot of the bed and stared down at the goblin. “He’s not up to sex, no pun intended.”
Fuck you. Fuck you for making that pun. Fuck you for writing this scene.

Merry decides she needs to get Kitto to bite her. So she takes her shirt off and shows off her pretty lace bra and the scent of her skin. Meanwhile, Kitto is pretty much out of it. drugged out of it. Like he can't understand that he's sick, he can't understand that he needs to bite her to save his own life, he can't understand anything. And Merry says this in response:

I touched his face, turned his eyes back to me. “Does it matter, does anything matter except the scent of my skin?” I put my wrist next to his face, then slid my arm slowly, just above his lips, so that our bodies touched here and there.

I don't care how old you claim he is, you describe him as a hairless, small bodied and child-like figure, and that makes this the creepiest thing I've read all year. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD EXIST.

He bites her. The description varies between dog and snake terminology. When Merry decides he's draining enough she blows in his face like a small animal. She specifically uses the word "pet" to describe the action. And while Kitto is lying in the bed "basking in the afterglow" (gag) the mirror rings. Somebody's trying to get through and they smell like flowers.

Oh, thank you God. thank you God.  Thank you thank you thank you we're going to have fake show and not active sex with Kitto.

Merry and Doyle decide that it's Niceven, and Merry asks if her bleeding arm is enough of a show, and Doyle says it will be if she doesn't show pain while the wound is being dressed. Everybody dolls themselves up quickly and Doyle answers the mirror. Only it's Taranis's secretary instead of Niceven, and this probably translates to "We're so fucked", which in this book means "Absolutely fucking nothing will happen" because this book sucks.

That was the closest call we've had so far. I cannot remember if she ever actively has sex with Kitto or not, so let's keep our fingers crossed and pray that LKH mantains some brand of sanity through all of this.

Please God. Please, oh please oh please.

For book-readers--updated things

I spent most of this afternoon fixing several of my early Amazon titles. Specifically, Silver Bullet, Starbleached and This Found Thing all have corrected (read as:FUNCTIONAL) tables of content and metadata and so on.

Amazon should give you the option of updating the files you currently have. I will let you guys know the second my copies fix themselves.

It's just a little FYI so your books will be a little cleaner and easier to read. (Especially Silver Bullet. It ought to actually work now)

Self Publishing post the first: Try for trade

I'm going to head this by pointing out my credentials.

Or rather, my utter lack of them.

Success is defined in the book world by five digit numbers. Mine are in the threes. I sell just under one book a day, so I probably can't tell you the great secret behind the curtain on how to sell a million ebooks in five months (hint: It involves buying reviews and faking others and being generally dishonest.) or how to replicate Amanda Hocking's amazing success (I'm reading her sirens series and all I'll say is, Stephenie Meyer 2.0 and FUCK was Lullaby unsatisfying)

But I can tell you the steps I took and what I did, and what you need to avoid.

I have published six books that I feel "significant", and a whole bunch of short stories that I don't. I've sold 179 books. Of those, 95 were of one series (two books, 80 and 15 sales respectively) and 49 were of the other (26, 15 and 6 of the three books in the series)

These numbers aren't the greatest. 

And so this post is about why you need to try trade publishing first.

You've written your dream book. This is your perfect project. This is what you want the world to see when they read you. And you want to put it out there and be successful and have your whole world change, just because you're sharing the story in your head. You've heard the horror stories, you know the rejection notice roulette usually results in piles and piles of nos and a handful of yesses that eventually lead up to nos, and you don't understand why you should subject yourself to the ungodly nightmare that is trying to become trade published.

And I'm not trying to use hyperbole in that last sentence. I am sure for other (read as: nurologically normal and sane people with thick skins and talent) trying to become trade published was just...normal. Like any other job hunt. For me, I would have been better off mainlining Effexer for six months and then going cold turkey (for those of you not on the up and up with psycheatric meds, this is known for causing psychotic breaks, including one in my own family) I did it for two years, mostly solid rejections all the way around, and by the end of those two years I was literally hanging on by my fingernails. Most of this had nothing to do with the rejection cycle, but the rejections kept triggering several underlying issues. By the time we got to The Big One last April, I was pretty much done and I damn well knew it.

But I do believe even the limited success I do have? Is something I have because I tried to be trade published first. And here is my list of reasons:

1. You will develop that thick skin: 

Seriously. Why one star? It wasn't even that negative a review!

You're going to get bad feedback. YOU ARE GOING TO GET BAD FEEDBACK. And what sucked a little tiny bit when you were posting on fictionpress and and AO3 and wherever else it is you go to put your work online is going to hurt ten thousand times more when it's a bad review on a for pay site and that's the only review on the entire book. You KNOW that book doesn't deserve that review. You know it and you're right about it, and there isn't a goddamned thing you can do about it because the review is there. And everybody who looks at it is going to go "That book must be full of formatting mistakes and misspelling errors and it must have no plot, so we're going to avoid it"

And you absolutely, positively, cannot tell this person why they are wrong. You can't respond. You can't tell them OF COURSE IT ISN'T LONGER THE DESCRIPTION SAID "SHORT STORY". You can't explain the reason why their favorite pairing didn't come together. You have to keep it together and ignore it, even though you know that book is now basically DOA.

And it's a lot easier when you've got 50+ rejection letters under your belt. Seriously. After you've gone through this:

Is it sad that they couldn't get my name right and I still think it's a form rejection?
Having to deal with this:

Isn't nearly as hard. Oh, it'll still make you twitch, but you won't be clicking on that comment button. It's better to be the unknown author of a few awful books than to be e-famous for writing "You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective" because somebody actually TOLD you your books were awful. Your writing can get better. Your reputation? That won't.

2. You WILL start going to publishing resources

Researching agents and publishers is the second hardest part of attempting trade publication (Not hitting the "send" button on your diatribe on their stupidity for rejecting your masterpiece is the hardest. Seriously. When you open your e-mail from your dream agent, disconnect your internet before you read it.) There are a lot of agents out there who are good, wonderful people who already have lots of clients, who really, REALLY don't need you, who will be happy to send you a nice form rejection and be on their way.

And there are many more bad agents who are desperate for clients who will joyfully accept your manuscript (and, more often than not, your money) right out of the gate. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the large number of terrible, terrible publishers out there.

This is public enemy number one in my book
If your book gets accepted by a bad publisher or a bad agent? You're screwed. And you'll be screwed for however long that contract you signed is good for. You'll need to learn how to research agents to make sure that the one you're querying has actual real deals under their belt. You'll need to learn how to research publishers to make sure their books are good quality, are acutally selling and are not actively ripping off their authors. You'll need to learn how to research contracts so that you don't get screwed by that seemingly innocent clause you just happened to breeze on by.

The good news is, there are lots of websites that will help you. I found the Absolute Write Water Cooler by googling Agentname+Scam, and from there I found Writer Beware, Evil Editor, Author! Author!, Janet Reid's Blog, Predators and Editors, and and about fifty other sites that I STILL read every day even though trade publication and I don't exactly go together anymore. (We're at that "christmas cards and discreete nod at the grocery store line" stage of the breakup)

Why is this valuable to a would be self-publisher?

Tate. Archway. Xlibris, iUniverse.  A quick google of "self publishing" brought all of those up on the first page. They are all companies that offer a package deal--editing, cover, typesetting and a press release--for a significant amount of money. Just looking at them, if you didn't know better you'd compare the packages and the products and pick the one you think you like the best. Problem is? Unless you do the research, there's no way to know that all four of those are Author Solutions, a terrible publishing company with a horrible history of customer service, whose editing sucks, whose coverart is lackluster at best, and who will lock you into a year long contract in which you do not receive any direct information on how much you are selling where, and I can promise you their "distribution" is going through places that you can access yourself for much less than what they'll charge you.

Long before I decided to self publish, I learned to stay the fuck away from Author Solutions. I learned to stay away from Publish America, which deserves a post of its very own for how truely shitty they are to would be authors (If you EVER consider sending your book to Publish America? Burn it first. You'll be happier and if you send them the ashes, they'll probably still publish it) I learned not to go with any agent that doesn't have a sale to a publisher that doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts. I learned to look at what the track records are, and how trustworthy someone might be, and that you absolutely DO have every right to e-mail every author on somebody's list and ask "how are they treating you" before you accept any deal you might be offered.

When you decide to self publish, you're going to have to avoid the obvious scams, like PA (I haven't warned you enough yet. STAY AWAY FROM PUBLISH AMERICA) and the not so obvious ones, like Author Solution's octopus of front companies. And then you're going to have to do things like artwork and editing and typesetting and distribution yourself, which you probably can't because you don't know how. So you're going to have to go to editors who offer you this really great deal to doctor up your book, and you're going to have to ask for a list of clients and books the editor has fixed for those clients, and you're going to have to look at those books and talk to those clients before you decide that you want to hire that editor to do your book. You're going to have to decide if you want to use, Createspace or Lightening Source for your print books and said print books' distribution (I still have not made that decision). You're going to have to do a mountain of research.

Doing it for trade publication will get you into the habit now. There's a lot more valuable support for would-be trade authors than there is for self-publishing authors, and the entire business is a lot more shady. Get into the habit in waters that are only kind of murky before you dive into the quagmire.

3. You will learn how to revise your work.

Oh god. Revision. Revision. Revision. Revision. Revision.

Here is a part of my publishing journey that I am not very proud of. I had an agent still looking at my book when I decided to start self publishing.

I can hear the horrified gasps from here. And it wasn't just the query process, either. They had requested materials. In fact, they had requested materials that they had already rejected once, that they were looking over again because I had asked them if they would, and they said yes.

Agents do not do this. It was a horrible thing for me to move ahead with the self publishing when I had not yet gotten a definite NO from them during that second round. You? Should not do this. I only did it because I hadn't heard anything from them for six months despite four "bland and polite as possible" touch-base e-mails, and I figured they had lost the project somewhere and had also totally lost their interest. They did e-mail me two months AFTER I had begun self publishing new material, which made it eight months total without any contact whatsoever. I told them "Thank you very much, take all the time you need to review my material" and crossed my fingers. That was august of last year. I've heard absolutely nothing since.

(Those materials, BTW, are from the first book of the unreleased trilogy that Exiles is slowly lumbering its way towards. I care enough about this project to try to build an audience for it before I let it go into the wild.)

The Query process is a constant onslaught of revision. Your revise the query letter. You revise the novel. You revise until you begin seeing little lights flash every time you look at a printed word. You revise and revise and revise and then put it away while you send out the next batch of query letters. By the time you get the next batch of rejections, you're ready to start revising again! And you're also working on your next project while all this is going on, so that it will be ready to query when you finally kill that first project dead!

The best way to succeed at self publishing is to have books. Lots of books.  Put out as fast as you possibly can. The best way to do that is get good at typing, get fast at writing, and get even better at revising the sucker in as few passes as possible. And the best way to do that is to spend a solid year doing it for people who are not you. For people who expect your book to be bloody fucking perfect when they get it. For people who will tell you exactly how much your book sucks if, and only if, they actually see potential in it. It's learning to fly by throwing yourself out of the nest. It's the only way to go.

4. You will learn how to sell your book.

You should attempt Trade publication for the query letter. That, all by itself, is worth every single solitary hour of misery you're going to feel slogging up that hill.

The query letter is your attempt to sell your book to an agent. They have very precise expectations. Query Shark, run by the incredible Janet Reid, is the best resource for learning what those expectations are. And you know what they are, basically?

A jacket blurb.

As of right now, I have about ten versions of my query letter. Only one of them (the one I sent to the agent that had and STILL HAS my materials for-effing-ever) has ever netted any results. Each one of them taught me a lesson in what NOT to do to try to sell my book to people. Don't ask retorical questions. Don't be cute. Don't flat out lie (which I did in one variation). Don't go overboard on backstory. Don't mention more than two characters by name, and don't mention more than five characters total in the entire query. Don't suck up to the reader. Ever.

Everything I learned trying to query agents is something I use when I write the blurbs for my books. Yep, they're not the best. But they are much better than they would be if I hadn't spent two years learning why "What if you discovered your fantasy world is real" is the worst opening line ever in a sales pitch. Because that's what your blurb is. It's a sales pitch. That and the cover art are your shots at getting a reader to read your book. It's the most important thing you'll write in the entire project. And the only way to do it is to slam your head against the trade wall until your brain turns into mush and your eyeballs bleed, and it finally sinks in that starting with where the character was born MIGHT not be the brightest idea you ever had.


This is the biggest reason. Self publishing sucks. There isn't much difference, IMHO, between getting twenty form rejections and spending a week watching your Amazon ranking sink lower and lower while your sales reports don't even twitch. It's the same game, only there's a lot more work for you and your chances of success are even harder in the self-publishing game.

And a real publisher might just want you.

If I did not know exactly what would happen to me if I tired (namely, a depressive cycle so deep it'd take a forklift and a flashlight for me to even see daylight again) I would still be querying agents for my projects. And I probably wouldn't have any self published things out there, because by all reports the big boys won't want you if you self publish ANYTHING and fail. I chose to self publish, not because I thought I knew better than the big boys, but because I knew I had just reached my limit and I couldn't go any further down that road without making some really unfortunate choices. I gave it one more shot, it ended rather profoundly, and I knew I was done.

But it's worth trying, anyway. It's better to fail at something you put your whole heart into than it is to not try and spend the rest of your life wondering. I tried, I failed, and I have my answer now.

And who knows? You might just be what they're looking for.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 24

And a good time was had by all. My birthday has consisted of mostly writing, with Thai food for dinner and Fifth Element for dessert. And I do not give a fuck that the first thirty minutes is Mila Jojovitch running around in a white duct tape bikini. Take it. I don't need it! There will be a Fight Club chaser. Because birthdays mean you get to do whatever you want. (Including drinking B&B on the rocks. I have a nice collection of alcohol, and I don't break into the REAL good stuff very often. Birthdays count.)

...I have to read Merry Gentry now, don't I? What were they doing again?

...picking up Kitto. You know, there are a small collection of words that can put chills down my spine in short order. "Where'd the money go?" anything involving "sociopath" and a dilusional disorder, and anything involving Kitto are on that very short list.

Ah, well. It's standing between me and my date with Tyler Durden.

Kitto is apparently not thriving in the human city. Now, LKH wants me to read this as "Kitto can't deal with humanity and wide spaces and Cold Iron because he is a pretty delicate fairy boy and must be sheltered and protected." But given that he's a simulcrum of a twelve year old, I have a different theory. Kids don't do well when they are being abused. People don't do well when they are being abused. Even if that abuse is at a tollerable level, it uses up reserves better focused on actual living. And there is no way in hell that Merry's lifestyle is healthy for anybody involved. Not for Merry, not for her boys, and definately not for the fake child that she's keeping in a fucking dog bed. 

Frost says that if Kitto doesn't start to thrive, they need to send him back to the goblin king.

Not this one, sadly.
Merry says she knows, she knows, but she doesn't know what the goblin king will send in Kitto's place, and she'd rather be pandering to pedophiles than the tenticle hentai crowd.

Merry then discusses how her finances are stretched by trying to accomodate all her men. It seems that she's refusing to accept money from the Faerie courts (this is the only part of her skreed I can support her in) and how they can't find a bigger apartment because they can't afford it and even if they could most places don't want six adults living there and the longer it goes on, all I see is this:

I grew up with financial instability, and it taught me one thing really, really well. Checks do not equal money. If you cannot afford something, do not fucking buy the thing. If you cannot pay for something right now, in cash, don't fucking do it. This is why I don't own a car. When I got my first apartment I waited three months before I got internet so I could be sure my finances had stabalized. If you cannot afford to cram six people into one apartment you find other accomodations.

Also? All the guys, with the exception of Kitto, are working for Jeremy Gray. You are pulling six paychecks. DO NOT TELL ME YOU CANNOT AFFORD A REAL HOUSE. And...wait a fucking minute, didn't Rhys have his own place a couple pages back? He did. You said he did because that was how you "proved" that he was one of the younger Fae, even though he's actually older than half the court. How is it that suddenly he can't afford to contribute and/or move a couple of the guys in there on his off days?

And then we take time out for Merry to say, basically, "My mother never loved me."

I'd make a joke, but I know people for whom that is completely true, and all I feel is anger that LKH would minimize that kind of trauma into sad-apple backstory for her Mary Sue protagonist.

And then we get a description of Merry's altar.

I'm torn here. For one, I understand how altars can sometimes be important. I really need to put mine back together (I've got its layout written down somewhere) because a well-done altar can actually be a good tool against depression, if you put something on it to represent the good things God/spirituality/life has done for you. I had an altar for a couple of years for the same reasons that the Hebrews used to put up piles of stones; it made me remember moments and events that I would have otherwise glossed over due to depression fucking with my head. Sometimes it helped to sit down in front of it and go "This was the time that God came through for me" "this was the time that everything actually did work out" "This was the time I had an acutal, honest-to-god Miracle." I strongly believe that everybody ought to have one place in their house where they do keep a kind of symbolic record of the good things they go through, so that the memories will be there when we are most prone to forget them.

On the other hand, this is LKH going LOOK AT HOW PAGAN AND SWEET AND WONDERFUL THIS CHARACTER IS SHE HAS AN ALTAR TO GODDESS JUST LIKE I DO and that's where my understanding and patience dies a hard fucking death. I know that Christianity and paganism are often at odds, but I really hope that the one thing we both can agree on is spiritual stuff done for show has about as much significance as a peace sign on an armed atomic bomb. That's one reason why I do not talk about my spiritual stuff as much as I could, because it's not anybody's business but mine what God and I happen to be doing right now.

Merry goes on to say how all the sidhe were worshipped as Gods and how even they acknowledge greater powers than they, and Merry gives a long description of Goddess.

You know, even the Christian God has a name. We don't use it much, mostly because we have to guess at it's actual pronunciation (The direct hebrew translation is YHVH. We guess and pronounce it either Jehovah or Yahweh, depending on which branch you're talking to. It means "I am that I am".)  but he's not a nameless, formless catch-all God. Merry's Goddess? Yeah, she has no specific attributes mentioned. YHVH is very jealious. He has rules (most of which are good rules to live by) and He absolutely demands that you treat things dedicated to him very well. There's one account of him destroying an entire kingdom because somebody disrespected a cup dedicated to His temple (you know the saying "The Writing's on the Wall? that's the story it's from) You make a promise to Him? You keep it. Merry's Goddess has always struck me as the kind of thing Precious Moments was made for. (If you don't know what Precious Moments are, you're very lucky and you might not want to google that if you don't want to contract diabetes tonight)

Then Merry goes over to Kitto and discovers she's got a real live medical emergency on her hands. He's non responsive and his skin is cold and...fuck, this is going to get solved by sex, isn't it?

With the fake twelve year old.

This is my birthday. Could we please have a pedophilia-free chapter on my birthday? No? Fuck.

They call the goblin king (...wherever you may be, take this child of mine far away from me) (Seriously. Get Kitto out of this god-forsaken book) but he isn't in. So instead, Merry asks for Frost's knife, because that's another way of calling the Faerie, I think? He answers that. And we are reminded that Kurag's body is actually two people. The Goblin king has a fully sentient, voiceless paracitic twin attached to his body.

Because I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is apparently somebody's fetish.

And yes. Kurag tells Merry that she and Kitto have to actually have intercourse to prevent Kitto from dying. Or as Kurag puts it:

Sinking teeth and dick into flesh, Merry girl, that’s the ticket.
Yeah. That doesn't exactly have the same ring as Love me, obey me, do as I say, and I will be your slave, does it?

They keep talking about the alliance and how Merry needs to fuck Kitto (this time, that's the book's words) and how if she does then Kitto has a chance to be King of the Unseelie Sidhe, and how Merry better get her finger out of his mouth before he bites it off, but at this point my brain is going please stop the chapter soon, please stop the chapter soon because I do not want to read fake pedophilia on my birthday.

And THANK GOD, after talking politics that won't kick in during this book, both Kurag and the chapter sign off well before Kitto is revived enough to do the dirty deed with Merry.

That's probably the next two chapters, if I know LKH's writing style right.

You may consider yourself warned. 

State of the CW

Well, it's pretty clear to me right now that this month will not be a repeat of last month's awesomeness. And next month probably won't run that great either because I have no major release planned until April.

Why do I have no major release planned until April?

Because I am a tired CW right now, that's why.

My job has gotten BUSY. This time last year we were having one table, two table nights where we'd spend all night polishing silverware and dusting tables and wind up with one two-top who couldn't really understand why we don't have hamburgers. (...because this is not a hamburger place. Or did the fake-Indian abisinthe room not clue you in?) This year? HOLY FUCK. This is all I will say. I had PLANNED on having two to four days off a week to get work done. Now I have one day (Monday). One. Day off. A week. Unless I pull rank and privelages to get another (Like I did today. Because it's my birthday. Go me!)

So between a highly stressful job with a verbally abusive boss (I like her. She's just...yeah. It's not right to take your frustrations out on your staff.) an EXTRAORDINARILY tight writing schedule ( least, I assume it's tight. It feels tight to me) and having the bio-chemical equiviliant of a rollar coaster in my head, I kind of want to go find a nice, safe, soft fluffy corner somewhere and sleep for about a year.

And technically I'm not taking a break this month. I'm not releasing anything, but I'm still going to be working my ass off so I can get on track with those first-of-the-month releases again. And I have to finish the dragon project because that will be released in July and it has *issues*.

BUT! The sales totals for the month? They don't suck. 24 books, which brings us to 179 (<---that 179...="" 180="" a="" already="" anybody="" book="" bother="" buy="" copies="" don="" for="" going="" have="" i="" is="" july.="" little="" me="" much="" nicer="" number="" of="" s="" since="" six="" t="" than="" they="" to="" want="" while.="">Gray Fox
. Not blockbuster numbers, BUT! that's actually better than I thought it would do. Especially when it's only been out for 12 days. 

As for future releases...the next Starbleached book, which is tentatively called "Dark and Pale" (I will probably change that title. I don't like it much) will be released in April. It's going to be Bryan's book. His POV is bizzare as hell and so, so, SO much fun to write from. This one and the next one (Valkerie. Not changing it) are the parts of this story, other than the original Starbleached, that I've wanted to write the most. May's release will be Black Hounds, the next Exiles book. June's release will be Valkerie. The next Gray Prince the moment I don't feel like there's a lot of demand for Leythorne, so that book will come out sometime between April and June. I WILL make an announcement when I have a hard date.

I'm also going to be re-editing all of the Exiles and Starbleached books--Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble all update the books on their own, and I know that Amazon sends out e-mail notifications when copies are updated. You will not have to buy another copy--and releasing them in an omnibus form. Technically, these novellas also count as a serial novel. Releasing them as a novel shoots an important the foot (debut novel status. It's important for some reason) but...yeah, I've talked about my career expectations before and I'm pretty confident ya'll are tired of hearing me complain.

Also also? Everything except Gray Prince will be hitting Smashwords and Barnes and Noble come March. Starbleached will be freed up March 18th, Silver Bullet will be March 25th, assorted short stories will drop in between the two dates. I intend to make Silver Bullet a free title. Because I cannot for the life of me figure out Amazon's free book policy outside of KDP (I. HAVE. ASKED) I will be pulling the title from Amazon and rolling it into Blue Ghosts. If I can't get a straight answer, I'm not going to fuck with it.

Last but not least...would anybody be interested in a, like, once a week discussion of self publishing stuff? Most of it would be what NOT to do (IE pay anybody more than 1K to "help" publish your book) and "take with a grain of salt" given that I'm not the most successful self pubber in the universe. It just strikes me that there's a lot of bad info out there and not a lot of places for a signal boost.

Oh, yeah. And it's my birthday. Birthday presents=buying books with my name on them. Just an FYI. It's not a demand or a requirement (just knowing that all of ya'll are reading my blog is happy-making enough) but watching the numbers go up makes me smile like you wouldn't believe. Just don't pay money for Silver Bullet right now, because if you do I'll feel really guilty. (and seriously. Don't buy anything if you don't want to. This blog is supposed to be, like, no pressure. Okay? Okay...)

Have a great and wonderful Wednesday, and I'll see you later.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 23


I am 27.

The entire world has changed since last year, far as I'm concerned. No, I'm not a successful writer. Yet. But last year I was not functional. And by "not functional" I mean suicidally depressed. As in I decided a few days before my 26th birthday that if I could not manage to get my book published THAT YEAR, I was not going to see 27. By my own choice.

I had a plan and everything. I'd done research. It was not a happy time.

One day I will have the guts to post the whole story, because a lot of it is me whining and it'll be really easy to look at it and go "oh, well. All she wants is attention." and not understand that my brain was so fucked up for the first six months of 2012 that the whining was the stuff I actually believed and nothing could convince me otherwise (and the clusterfuck that happened last April did not help matters at all). Today is not that day. But knowing where I am now, and knowing where I was last's kind of awesome to me that I made it through to here, and I'm finally excited about where I'm going to go next.

...I have to review the sucky book now, don't I?

So. So far we have rehashed how awful Merry is, we've introduced a plot thread involving possible faerie civil war (revolving around sex) a rampaging war hell beast with no name, a plot thread involving Merry getting pregnant,  and a plot thread involving high double digit mass murder.

And look, I'm sorry, I have to say it: I love true crime. Aphrodite Jones, Ann Rule, M. Williem Phelps, the list, my friends, the list goes on from there. So if you write about a mass murder that ranks up there with Jonestown, Waco and Heaven's Gate, and it is so boring I can't read it? YOU HAVE LOST THE GAME.

So, having stormed out of the crime scene in a huff because a police detective was less than polite to her and wasn't all that interested in the opinion of an untrained, violent civilian, Merry gets into a car to drive to nowhere.

This book now officially has no goal whatsoever.

She's all flustered and shaky, and Rhys tells her that she's in shock because what she saw was just oh, so bad.

Yes. Yes it was. Everybody has the right to be in shock after seeing fifty to a hundred dead bodies. But nobody else is in shock. Everybody else can handle it. Frost. The cops. It's only pretty perfect princess Merry who can't handle the big bad murder scene.

This is unfair on two levels: One, it makes this murder all about Merry fucking Gentry, and not about the people who died inside that house. The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books because it is the ONLY murder-centric book I've read that focuses and glorifies the VICTIM of a terrible crime, rather than the murderer.

Secondly: It implies that the police are used to shit like this. They're not. I've heard stories about cops knowing what tests to run and what things to look for because they watched Forensic Files. I read a book on the Green River Killer written by the cop who ran the task force up until his election as Sherrif. I read the book about the cops trying to clean up the Branch Davidian compound after David Koresh had his people light it on fire. The good True Crime books don't dwell on the awful things, but rather on how it affects the cops. And it affects them badly every single time. I've heard at least three different stories about cops going through a terrible crime scene, doing their work, making sure their paperwork was fucking PERFECT, that the evidence was catalogued right, that everything was done, and then going home and shooting themselves because it was just. that. bad.

This book is implying that if a bad crime scene affects you negatively, there must be something wrong with you. You must be weak somehow. If a bad crime scene affects you, you are HUMAN. End of story.

Merry asks if the boys have seen worse. They have. She pressures them to tell her about it. They refuse. She pressures some more. And then Frost says this:

“I am sure Rhys has seen worse than I. I was not alive during the very first battles when our people fought the Firbolgs.”

The most facinating part of Celtic mythology is the "invasions". I've been trying very hard to find a good source book on them. The "invasions" are peroids where one race takes over Ireland, and then another race battles the first race...I think? Like I said, finding concrete stuff on the "invasions" is difficult. I know the Book of Kells is a source for a lot of it.

Seeing it dismissed as a footnote in this book is like...UGH. IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO EXPLORE THE AWESOMENESS WHY ARE YOU BRINGING IT UP?

To justify Merry being shaky after seeing almost a hundred dead people. Because this world revolves around Merry.

Merry keeps pushing to find out about the "Something worse" the boys have seen. And then we get a sentence that just boils LKH's entire philosophy down beautifully: 

There is no that can be worn down to yes, then there is NO. Rhys’s no was one of those.
Yep. If you can wear somebody else's will down and make them agree with what you want, you can! Because sometimes you can turn an No into a Yes if you just try hard enough.

In a healthy universe, no means no. This is not a healthy universe.

Merry asks what she missed in there, because she was "sheilding" too hard to see anything. Because you could go into that place and come out covered in "riders".

*sighs*. Okay. So two, three years ago I decided to be a little flexible in my beleif system. I am a Christian, I believe in the basic creed, but there are a lot of fun wrinkles I've allowed myself because God is bigger, and Romans 14 and SI issues, and it's a really long story. But somewhere in all of this I managed to wind up with a new-age-y councelor. Now, she was very good for my SI issues and she was very good with the aftermath of my sexual assault, but eventually we went from doing nice, normal talk therapy to trying to deal with issues from past lives.

I do not believe in re-incarnation. And if it is there, I do not remember a goddamned thing from any past life, ever. But I wound up going along with it because my head was pretty fucked up back then, too. Eventually we got tired of past life things (mostly because when we tried regression I just got the giggles) and she decided that I had "riders". And that's when things got weird. Dowsing rods were involved, mostly to measure the circumfrence of my "aura" or whatever, but most of it was me sitting in a chair with my eyes closed and my arm stuck out in midair while the councelor asked the "rider" questions and pushed on my wrist. It wasn't too long after this that I stopped going to counciling completely, because I was trying to get my head on straight, not revamp my religious beliefs into...that.

I think LKH and my old councelor would either love each other to itty bitty pieces or they would start having magic battles or something. Fluffy bunny dark vs. fluffy bunny light. Apparently, they're both using the same study manual.

And then Rhys accuses her of not being brave enough to risk getting a "rider" in exchange for looking at a crime scene. No shit, Sherlock. If I thought I'd pick up a hitchhiker of somekind at a scene like that? The Death Star wouldn't have sheilds as good as mine.

They argue, and Rhys finally says it's a ghost. I just summed up four pages of LKH's trademarked "is it this?" "How could it be this?" "Oh I know it's this because--" nonsense. You're very welcome. And it's not just any ghost, it's the ghost of an immortal, and not just any immortal, but an elder god.

...please realize along with me that this book could very well have been about the ressurection of Cthulhu.

Instead, we focus on how the sidhe sometimes release the ghosts of the elder gods on the fey because why not? They're all fucking sociopaths anyway. Only one sidhe could do the spell, and he's dead, and the rest of them would be killed if they tried to do the spell, so whoever is using it is either a moron or really, really desperate.

But you know? We haven't gotten LKH's patented brand of religious superiority in a while. Let's see if we can't fix that:

but some of the elder ones can be brought back to full strength if they get enough lives. Sometimes one of them will convince a cult somewhere that they’re the devil and get them to sacrifice themselves,
Yes. Cults believe that they are worshipping Satan. Except that, unless we're talking about a very special brand of melodramatic, they don't.

David Koresh had his people believing that he was the reincarnation of Christ.

Jim Jones had his people believing that they were building a better world

Heaven's Gate believed that Jesus/Te had come back to take everybody back in his/her magical spaceship behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

Jeffery Lundgren had people believing that he was God.

I could go on all night.

The thing about evil, when it is truely evil, is that it doesn't present itself as an ugly nasty thing to be feared. It presents itself as, if you'll pardon the Christian imagry, an angel of light. Something that is good, that appeals to you and to your basic desire to be good. Sociopaths aren't marked by their disgusting actions; they're marked by their charm. Evil presents itself as something desirable. Otherwise people would run away from it.

Or to quote Lewis, "The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the holy; nowhere do we tempt so well as on the very steps of the altar."

Yeah, there's a big fuck you for that dismissive bullshit, LKH.

And now they're talking about how the magician has to be sidhe, and how revealing this to the cops could get them all thrown out of the country.

Uh...why? Seriously. Unless you actually want them gone, why would one bad apple be enough to get the whole race thrown out? Branch Davidians still exist. We haven't thrown them out of society just because David Koresh was an unbelievable fucking monster. We keep germans around.

This is never explained, because Rhys goes off on this long "Everybody forgets about me" insane gigglefest that makes him, officially, the creepiest character in the novel.

The chapter ends with them going to pick up Kitto. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 22

So I've started the first draft of the next Exiles book.

I am a very lazy writer. I didn't used to be. I used to outline every little thing. I had a system, I had programs to help me, and then...I started throwing the outlines out about halfway through the story. Because I don't start with beginnings. I start with endings. I come up with a moment that I feel is significant, for whatever reason, and I try to come up with a story that will make that moment significant to other people.

I know the readership of this blog kind of exploded over the last month, so most of you probably don't know what my opinion of my own writing is, and the rest of you are probably sick of hearing it, but I do not consider myself to be a good writer. In my opinion the mark of quality is being published. Publishers know quality, and they put quality out. The nadir of trade publishing is better than the stuff they've rejected, and I've been rejected enough to get the point already. It's my opinion, it's not a judgement on anybody else's writing, and if you like my writing, you are a wonderful person who is 100 times a better human being than I am.

So with all that said, my favorite part of writing is still the moment when everything I planned goes away and I see what the real story is. It's not some magical or mystical connection to characters. It's more my brain goes "You know, it'd be really fun to fuck with my readers this way, but I'd have to discard this, this, this, and rewrite this and--you know what, fuck it, we're doing it anyway." And everything comes together and I see exactly how I need to run things.

Good writers spend all their time, and I mean ALL OF IT, screwing with you. Every word, every phrase, every character in a good book is geared to make you think and feel exactly what the author wants you to. My great ambition in life is to grab hold of your emotions and never let go. I'm evil, my loyal blog readers. Evil to my core.

Of course, the flip side to that is, my own desires for the writing are secondary. Which is probably why the subject matter in most of my books is weird. I'm not here to make me happy. I'm here to make you happy (or make you gently set the e-reader down and then pantomime throwing a book across a room while screaming "FUCK YOU" because cliffhanger.)

And because talking about my stuff while I'm bashing somebody else's work is really horrible (...I never said I was a good person, alright?)...I've started the new shawl.

My phone takes really shitty pictures at night.

I also had to hit up the local quilt store for knitting needles (...small town, okay? I need to be happy ANYBODY carries a Double Pointed Needle smaller than US3) which meant I bought way more stuff than I needed to. This place has gorgeous rosewood needles. Also not in the right size, but I will find a project to fit on them. I am determined that way. 

So. How's our professionally published book doing?

Merry's crime scene involves more than fifty bodies. Not one chick with bad choices in makeup. FIFTY. PEOPLE. MINIMUM. She thinks it could be as many as a hundred.

Yeah. This makes her judgement of that other girl even less okay. When it is one person MAYBE it is their lifestyle choices that did it. When it is fifty people you've hit a level of badness that has nothing to do with the victims and everything to do with what killed them.

Merry decides that she needs to pretend that she's at one of Aunt Andais's parties, because showing emotion when so many people are dead fifty is your lowball estimate is bad. And this is all about Merry, and Merry's feelings, and Merry keeping her bad-ass cred in one piece. It's not about the massive number of dead people everywhere.

Everybody died of slow aphyxia. Horribly, in other words. Except for nine bodies, which are different. But we don't find out how different they are right away because Merry has to describe how everybody hid the Christmas ornaments eyes from the murder scene.

 I cannot make this up:

Behind Frost was something covered with a tablecloth but it wasn’t a body. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was a Christmas tree. Someone had covered the artificial greenery, covered the entire Christmas display. It was as if someone hadn’t wanted the tree to see the bodies, like hiding the eyes of the innocent so they won’t be tarnished. It should have seemed ridiculous, but it didn’t. Somehow, it seemed appropriate to cover the decorations in this room. To hide them away so they wouldn’t be spoiled.
First of all, everybody reading this blog should be watching Todd in the Shadow's pop-song reviews. They make the radio okay again. Secondly, are you familiar with the band Train? If you are, and you watch Todd, you'll know where I'm going with this. Pat Monahan, the lead singer/lyricist, has an incredible ability to come up with a concept and wrap the world's most WTF lyrics around it. Not just bad lyrics, but the kind of lyrics that make you wonder what drug combination is responsible. See "Drive By's" Baffling lyric "Just a shy guy/looking for a two ply/HEFTY BAG to put my love in"

Oh. I'm sorry. It's "My-i-i-i-i-I-I-EYE EYE EYE YEYEYEYEYE" because Pat Monahan can't come up with enough lyric to fill up his music. (Don't get me started on "Trouble" I kind of sort of liked Taylor Swift last year, but "Trouble" came out and now she can just go away.)

Apparently Christmas Trees are LKH's version of a trash bag. Description of Christmas decor would be fine. Description of blood splattered Christmas decor? Better than fine. Description of Christmas decor that somebody covered up because its non-existant eyes would be spoiled by the horrific carnage and innocence must be preserved? Uh...yeah. No.

So after we preserve the Christmas Tree's virgin not-mind and Rhys is established as being fake-not-creepy, we almost find out what's going on with those nine dead bodies. They all died quietly, and it is a good thing this flow of plot is interrupted by the unavoidable "Self Insert VS Equally Misogynistic Authority Figure" pissing contest.

This one is Detective Pearson. AKA how to shoot your Mary Sue in the foot without really trying. He's pissed because Merry exposed him to the Magical Potion of Sex and he almost jumped her right there in the precinct. In her defense, he told her that magical aphrodisiacs don't exist. In his defense, he was being aroused against his will by drugs and that kind of trumps everything else. Folks, if you decide to "prove your point" by giving people a drug that is basicially an aphrodisiac mixed with LSD, you lose the right to get huffy when they tell you to get fucked every time they see you. Not exposing people to dangerous drugs is kind of "being a good human" 101.

Merry asks him if the crime scene isn't just horrible, and then says that he'd be friendlier if there were a few less dead people around.

He replies:

He made a sound that was almost a laugh, but too harsh to be one. “Well, hell, Princess, this is friendly. This is exactly how friendly I am to murderers like you who hide behind diplomatic immunity.” He smiled, but it was a baring of teeth, like a snarl.

Okay, a little more of that backstory is, Merry had just watched a guy who was trying to rape her get eaten by Doyle's magical spiders that never show up again, ever, and the detective here thought she'd killed the guy, which is the only reason why she was in the interrogation room. But again: she drugged people with sex magic to prove a point. A police detective accusing you of murder because nobody else was in the room when the guy got attacked by spiders is kind of par for the course when you are a magical fairy who can turn people into screaming basketballs of flesh. It's annoying and it's really not fair when the guy was trying to rape you and you're not actually responsible for his death. It still does not give you the right to drug the entire police department with sex magic. That kind of makes you the rapist in that case.

Merry gets pissy when the detective tells her to get fucked a second time--using almost the same language, too--and she reaches out to touch him.

He reacts by backing into potential evidence and telling her not to ever, ever, ever touch him again.

You know. The way women react when they've been sexually assaulted.

This is read as being utterly inappropreate on his part.

Merry is all "But it wasn't ME that did that too you last time, it was the DRUGS I HAD ON MY SKIN. THAT I DELIBERATELY GAVE YOU BECAUSE YOU WOULDN'T LET ME GO IMMEDIATELY AND IT MADE ME FEEL KIND OF POUTY." and the detective is having none of it because she fucking drugged him and nothing says she won't do it again.

Merry says "but why do you hate me?" and I'm assuming she's giving him pretty puppy-dog eyes in the process. And he says "You turned a man into barely recognizable meat ribbons" and doesn't add "And you drugged me into almost raping you" because LKH is writing this scene to make her Mary Sue look fluffy.

Given that the meat ribbons is less scary than "Screaming basketball of flesh" I would say that he's still pretty much spot on.

And then Lucy shows up and says "I called her, and the book needs a plot, so my judgement trumps yours, so there."

He says 'Fuck that shit, I'm your boss, you have to listen to me," and then he says this:

“Good,” he said, “because the upper brass can think anything they want, but it’s my ass on the line here, in the cameras, and I say it’s some kind of toxic gas or poison. When they finish the toxicology work on the other bodies, they’ll know what it is, and it’ll be our job to find out who did it. Look first for whodunit, not whatdunit. You don’t have to go to fairy-tale land to solve this murder. It’s just another crazy son of a bitch that’s as mortal as everyone else in this room.”

See, there are two problems with writing this cop as a misogynistic asshole. First of all, he's 100% right to be scared to death of Merry and the other Faerie. They don't view death as bad, they don't value human life, and their idea of happy fun times usually involves cutting, bleeding and minor amputations. And being drugged into having sex with somebody is bad. Being drugged into raping somebody would be an even bigger violation, and I am surprised this cop is still functional. Second, everything he has said so far is completely right. You hear hoofbeats, you eliminate the horses before you bring out the zebras. The reason being that if you waste time hunting for a zebra that isn't there, you risk letting the horses get away.

Having this character here? Is not helping the story or the main character. If you don't want a main character to look bad don't bring in the characters that have good reasons to hate them. 

Merry gets very passive aggressive and is all "THANK you for telling me to leave, I couldn't stand it here, you're doing me SUCH a wonderful favor" (...huh. I wonder why that looks so familiar.) and stomps out, dragging Rhys and Frost along with her.

I've yet to find a single redeeming quality in this book.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 21

My stepfather and I are watching Stargate, something that I haven't watched since I got addicted to the show, and I noticed something really interesting. Namely, that nobody in the movie ever watched the show before (Seriously. They should wait near the gate for proto-SGC to dial the gate again, send through another malp and see that the guys are okay, and send through more supplies and whatever materials Daniel needs. And then deal with Ra however, because that part of the movie won't change .Artifical stakes are artificial).

Also: Yes. The theory of aliens building (insert old thing here) is racist as fuck. Just because we modern people can't imagine life without computers and slide rules doesn't mean that a 2000 year old scientist couldn't do the same basic calculations with a plumb bob. Humanity: Grow up.

But the other interesting thing is that my stepfather HATES Stargate: SG-1. Hates it. Hates hates hates it. Why? Because they didn't get the same actors. Yes, sports fans. It doesn't matter how close the show got in terms of look alikes (for the record, I like TV!Daniel Jackson more than Movie!Daniel Jackson.) or how awesome Amanda Tapping is, or how good (...or not good) the writing is. (Look, I liked it better when it moved on to Ori and Ancients and decided to leave Insert Pantheon Here alone. I didn't know egyptian mythology well enough, but the Egyptian motifs being thrown everywhere got on my nerves pretty fast. Thor was not a green eyed alien. Thank GOD they left the Authurian legands alone until damn near the end of the show, and *technically* Merlin being a hold-over from Atlantis is supposed to be part of the mythos...I think? It was in That Hideous Streingth.) (Of course, Numinor was too.) My stepfather didn't like the show because they couldn't pull enough money out of their ass to get Kurt Russel instead of McGuyver.

My stepfather is WEIRD.

(My favorite episode is the Groundhog Day one. I can't remember the name off the top of my head, and I broke my google fu trying to remember James Spader's name)

So. On to the suck.

At this point we have three major plot lines. Merry needs to get pregnant before her cousin gets out of hock and her Aunt totally loses it. Maeve wants a kid, and would prefer a fairy ritual to invitrofertalization because Plot, and a gigantic amalgation of magic and nasty is storming across the United States to kill Merry and nobody's doing anything about it because Also Plot. These are three plot lines that we could use to do things with, and while they might not be very fun things they would at least be things.

What does LKH do?

Introduce another, not connected plot. Namely, Merry gets called to a murder scene.

(...good fucking God I forgot how bad the dialogue in this movie is sometimes. Buk buk buk buk buk buk buk. Yeah)

You know, the way that Anita Blake gets called in all the time. Even though her qualifications for dealing with the monsters are basically "I kill them and I am one", and she's about as good at actual police work as a puppy is at particle physics? Merry is exactly the same. EXACTLY. THE. SAME. 

But where Anita and Zerbouski used to throw body parts around the crime scene (not kidding) Merry and the female dective merely joke about how the (female, blond) body's lipstick is called "asphyxiation" and how it mimicks the color of a corpse's lips and this is supposed to be funny somehow.

(Funny, kids, is watching a fake spaceship land around a fake pyramid and realizing that they modeled it exactly like the great Pyramids of Giza....meaning without the shiny white, smooth sandstone covering that would have been literally blinding. I'd buy pyramids as space-ship docks a lot more if the building in question were shiny white with the gold capstone, the way pyramids really were when they were built. I mean, I assume Ra's ego would make his slaves keep the buildings actively mantained...)

Girl cop's name is Lucy. We find out that Lucy brought one of the country's most powerful psychics into what she calls "this mess" and the poor woman almost died from the shock of her reading. You know, I am assuming that this universe has the Manson Family murders, and Jonestown, and Waco, and the Green River Killer, and about thirty other horrible events I could name, and I think the existance of the Holocaust is directly addressed in the text of the first book, so you'd think the first thing police officers would learn is "don't expose the really powerful psychics to dangerous shit outside of controlled conditions, because you can kill them." It's kind of like keeping an armed guard on the rapists and murderers when you bring staff in to visit with them.

Yeah, they almost killed their prized psychic by letting her handle unsecured evidence while still at the crime scene. I don't think these cops will be an improvement on Dolph and Zerbouski.

Also? this is what Frost is wearing at the crime scene:

The effect was somewhat ruined by his silver hair spilling around him in the wind, as if it was trying to pull loose from the ponytail. A pale pink shirt matched the show hankie in the white suit jacket that matched the slacks. The slender silver belt matched his hair. His shiny loafers were creamy tan. He looked more like a fashion plate than a guard, though the wind gave occasional glimpses of the black shoulder holster underneath all that white and pink.
Christmas tinsel hair. Cream suit. Pale pink shirt and a silver belt.

Please. Please oh please oh please tell me that Frost also has a fedora.

(...yeah. Daniel and Shaur'e have been down in that cave for how many hours and he didn't find the fucking cartoosh on his own? SERIOUSLY?)

And there is much girl talk while they stand over a dead woman. Because, you know, keeping the more than kind of crazy people away from the crime scene while the detectives do their work is a little too hard, I guess.

(..."What the hell is that?" IT'S A PYRAMID SHAPED SPACESHIP.)

Meanwhile, LKH has Merry take time to comment on the dead girl's weight. Obviously the girl is skinny because she's dieted, and if she were going to die she would have gone off the diet the next day. Because bodytypes don't exist and people can't be twigs naturally (the lucky bastards)


And the dieting and too much sun has made the girl look older than twenty three. Yes. We are making judgement calls on a dead girl's lifestyle when we don't even know her fucking name. Maybe she's that skinny and aged looking because she's got cancer? ALS? Maybe she's just had a hard fucking life and she's going out on the town to celebrate FINALLY getting into college?

(...why are Ra's servants all children?)

(...right. To explain why Jack O'Neil doesn't just kill the guy. Because he's *wounded*)

Meanwhile, Rhys is dancing up and down the beach and humming theme song from Hawaii 5-0. Rhys was a death god so death turns him on. This is absolutely a wonderful character trait in a protagonist. LKH is so *edgy*.

Rhys has nothing on Dexter.

Lucy tells Rhys to fuck off. Merry tells Rhys it's okay, Lucy is just creeped out by the death scene we haven't actually seen yet, and she's taking it out on Rhys. Kids? It is not okay to "take things out" on anybody else. I know that it's a part of life, but--

(Seriously. Are they trying to say Ra is a pedo? WHAT IS WITH THE KIDS IN THE LOINCLOTHS?)

--you know, it's really annoying when the movie you're watching is simultaneously more blog-able and more entertaining than the book you're reading.

And then Frost is all like "Humans mourn death" and Rhys is all "But death is a part of life!" and I'm all like "EVERYBODY IS MISSING THE POINT" because it's not the death itself driving everybody up the wall, it's the fact that everybody died horribly and unnecessarily. It's the evil in the death, and not the death itself, and for the record? The way Rhys is acting? That's a sociopath, folks.

We also found out that Rhys in his god-head (...god help us all. This series made me hate that phrase so much) could raise corpses. We still don't know his god-name, but we do know he was Lord of the Zombies.

I cannot be afraid of a god of death when he's wandering around whistling the theme song from Hawaii 5-0. Death from Sandman was creepier than he is. I think because she really was that fucking cheerful and Rhys is just her without the cool parts.

The chapter ends with Merry and Frost running after Rhys to stop him from doing something "cute" with the bodies.

Only LKH would do "cute" with mass murder.

(...Ra's Jaffa really do blow, don't they? Okay, Okay, next time I promise. I won't derail the suck by blogging about the movie I'm watching. But's a sad sad affair that the movie is just that much better than the book...)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 20

I have worked all night and one question has become very pressing in my life:

Who was the first person to pick up an oyster and say "I'll bet there's something really good to eat inside this OBVIOUS ROCK," and how hungry were they?

Seriously. I must have shucked more oysters than I care to count tonight, and that was just because the shucker was not at his post when we got a few orders tonight. WHY DO PEOPLE EAT OYSTERS? Why is "oysters on the half shell" the dish that decides where you eat? YOU ARE EATING WHAT LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE SNOT. THIS SHOULD NOT BE YOUR PRIMARY GOAL.

Anyhoo, I'm gonna return a big favor tonight and point ya'll in the direction of A Sporking Rat, the blog of the lovely RF and the person going through most of the later Anita Blake books. It's a wonderful thing and it should be shared with all.

Unlike this book.

I've been pretty consistant in calling Queen Anadais "Queen Crazy" or some variation thereof.It's kind of funny, but under the funny I am dead serious. In the four books i've read with her in it, she comes across as a kind of dangerous crazy that should be confined and under supervision. And by "supervision" I mean "Large, strong, trustworthy-but-dangerous person within six feet of her at all times". Because I don't think Anadais has schitsophrenia, or some other disorder that has disconnected her from reality. I think that she's a psychopath with an underlying paranoid disorder, and if you did not suddenly feel your gut drop in terror you do not properly understand what that is.

It's not a coincidence that most serial killers have some form of socio- or psychopathy. The disorder is marked by a failure to observe certain social norms, mostly the ones pertaining to not hurting other people for their own personal gain. The difference between a sociopath and a psychopath is very subtle, very simple, and very frequently not even worth observing. A sociopath--Ted Bundy, for example--understands that the social rules they are bucking do apply to them. They just don't care. Hence, why he was so very, very careful to hide what he did, and why he refused to admit it until he had nothing left to lose. A psychopath, on the other hand, believes that the social rules do NOT apply to them, and do not understand why their behavior is unacceptable. In both cases other people are not real things to them. They cannot understand that my emotions are the same as your emotions are the same as theirs. The only thing in their world that is real is them...and, if there is a complicating disorder, the things going on in his head.

So a psychopath with a paranoid disorder could decide that you are out to get them, and that the only way to stop you is to kill you, and they might even decide to do it because it's Wednesday and nothing's on TV, they're just that bored.

And if you want to never sleep again, try this fun fact on for size: The estimated ratio of socio/psychopaths to people who are not? It's one in twenty four. If you are in a room with more than twenty four people in it, the odds are one of them is a sociopath.

Like I said, have fun trying to sleep tonight.

However, I do have to say that if you are describing a psychotic queen with paranoid dilusions and you want me to buy that she is fucking dangerous to be around? This?

THE QUEEN WORE AN ELABORATE BLACK BALL GOWN, WITH black satin gleaming in the candlelight, black ribbons to hold back the flounces, black satin gloves to cover her white arms, black straps over pale shoulders.
Yeah. "Flounces" and "Crazy as fuck" should never be mentioned in the same sentence. Unless you are trying to imply a certain childishness, and in that case there should be blood involved, and you need to be a MUCH better writer.

And she's also doing this business call from her bedroom. Because yeah, we all need to do important political stuff with this thick glaze of sex. That adds so much to the conversation.

They give restrained hellos--restrained because any word at all could set Anadais off.

Okay, look. I grew up around people who were basically land mines, okay? it's not fun. Sometimes I can be a land-mine too. Anadais is just a cacurature of this. She's every nasty steriotype about unstable people bundled into a shiny white package with Sparkledog eyes and a ball-gown. Which, as Merry insists on pointing out, would never fit on Merry because her boobs are too big.

And that's why I don't buy the Queen as a serious character. When you are around a land-mine, your first thought is not, "Damn, I could never wear that dress." It's rather "Fuck, are my clothes going to offend them? Do I have the right perfume? If I ask what they need, will that piss them off more?" and GOD FORBID you have to ask an actual question they might not want to hear. Merry is not reacting right at all. It's still all about Merry. And yes, I get that she's a Mary Sue. But the only way to buy characters who aren't your VP character is through how the VP character reacts. And if Merry has enough room in her thought processes to think about how big her boobs and ass are, she's not scared enough of the Queen.

And then you have the Rules of Politeness, which make no fucking sense:

“I don’t know if I’ve seen your bare breasts before, Meredith. They are a little large for a sidhe, but very nice.” Her eyes didn’t hold lust, or kindness, only a dangerous light. All that she’d said so far could be mistaken for politeness. She’d never seen my breasts bare, so she should compliment them; but only if I was trying to be attractive, which I was not. I just happened to have no clothes on. I did not feel the least bit luscious around my aunt, and there was more to it than just being heterosexual, much more.
First off, The Queen is a jerk for commenting on Merry's body type with that subtle a put-down. Second...what kind of society has rules like this? Seriously, when was "Damn I think you're sexy" a polite way to start a conversation? "Nice Breasts" as an opener would probably get you slapped in most places. I hear "Nice Breasts" and I don't hear a compliment, I hear "The configuration of your body parts is more important than you are." And third...WHEN THE HOLY BLUE FUCK DID HETEROSEXUALITY COME INTO THIS CONVERSATION? I mean...was there more to this paragraph? Did the part where orentation became an issue get lost at Alberqueque? It's like...HELLO, THE FACT THAT I AM NOT ATTRACTED TO THE PARANOID PSYCHOPATH MURDERESS OUT FOR MY BLOOD MEANS THAT I AM HETEROSEXUAL. IMHO it would mean that you are interested more interested in your own safety and survival than you are in having sex with somebody who'd like to kill you today rather than tomorrow. Besides,  Merry just got done screwing a man. The scene was highly disturbing, but it pretty much confirms that she likes men. We've established this firmly enough to not need continued commentary.

And then Anadais demands that Doyle stand up and let her look at him naked, and I understand that this is all about showing off how WONDERFUL Merry is, that she can land so hot a man in bed.

Because the attractiveness of our lovers totally equals our own self-worth. Gotcha.

Worst thing written by a human. I'm telling you.

And then we have...a...uh, strip show? I read this three times and I don't really get what Doyle is doing, other than playing sexy-peek-a-boo to keep Anadais from going over the deep end. ( with a baby. They're playing shiny-shiny object with the primary antagonist for the series so far. Words fail me.)

And when Anadais gets hot and bothered, he does the subtle, Fairy version of "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it" (If I never hear that song again I die happy) Because remember, Anadais said her guards couldn't have sex with anyone but her, and then she refused to have sex with them for a thousand years...while she's bringing under age human men into her bed for fun and torture times. Knowing exactly what watching a parade of nubile young things was going to do to the hundred-odd men she'd just forced into perpetual monkhood.

So it's a psychopathic sadist with paranoid dilusions. In a position of power. With potentally fatal magic at her disposal.

That's the scariest combination of words in the English language. And LKH has to dress it in ruffles.

but Andais might hurt me in a fit. She might regret it later, but dead is dead.

Yeah, this is the point when a person becomes insalvagible. It's ugly, and I'm sorry for saying it, but if you are so far gone that you'd kill someone during a rage fit? You've got that few limits? You need to be put where you can't hurt anybody, and you can't hurt yourself, and that's not in the middle of a royal court that is ALMOST as screwed up as you are.

Look, I'm going to be on this subject all night because it's actually something I have researched for my own writing, so I'm just going to lay it out in black and white: I'm simultaneously disturbed by Anadais's characteristics AND by her impotence. LKH is simultaneously shoving every single scary thing that can go wrong in the human brain into one package, and is minimalizing it by putting it into a fluffy lace dress. It's hard for me to be funny about her because there isn't much funny about her, and I know too much about the subject to go "Oh, look at the funny potential serial killer".

So I'm going to leave this here. Find this book, read this book, memorize this book, and understand that THAT is the world we live in. (And also that our culture has for some reason unknown to god and man decided that women can't be this kind of offender. My family has been in and out of social work for longer than I've been alive. It's bullshit. Yes, fighting sexism is very good and very nice and very important, but not letting psychopathic predators hurt other people is more important. So insert "people" everywhere it says "men" and you'll be good to go. And hope that nothing gets me started on non-violent predators like con artists because then we will be here all year)

And then Anadais says "the Nameless is free" and Doyle freaks out because something that has no name is scarier than a queen who thinks seeing what color your guts are might be interesting.

Which is sad, because the Nameless is actually pretty fucking scary in its own right:

The Nameless was the worst of both courts, Seelie and Unseelie. It was the last great spell that the two courts had cooperated on. They had stripped themselves of everything too awful, too hungry, to allow us to live in this new country.
In other words, kids, this is a thing made of all the other things that a race of bloody psychopaths decided was too scary for human consumption.

This is like Ted Bundy deciding to visit a councelor because there's an aspect of his personality women might not like. It's made of everything that scared THEM. Not things that might scare us or be bad for us. Nope. It's the things that scared THEM.

You know where I said something was the scariest collection of words in the English language? It just got trumped.

And that's why this book sucks. The potential here is great. Psychotic queen, check, psychotic king, check, marginally sane protagonist and primary cast--well, I'd rather have magic in the hands of someone with barely functioning empathy than no empathy at all, so check. THING THAT SCARES EVEN THE PSYCHOTIC KING AND QUEEN. MOTHERFUCKING CHECK.

But because the person at the wheel thinks that the sex is more important than everything else, We will never be allowed to connect with any of this emotionally. Including the sex. Because God does LKH suck at writing sex.

I mean...seriously, this is just dropped into the bedroom via a magic mirror phone call AND IT IS THE THING THAT SCARES THE FAIRY.

You know, at least the vampire baseball in Twilight gave James and Victoria something of substance. It wasn't a lot, but at least they appeared in the fucking book prior to the dance studio scene. The Nameless won't even get that bit of dignity.

And then we get the unavoidable info dump: It's unstoppable (read as: Stopping it will probably involve sex of some sort) it's unbelievable, we don't know who let it go and it's headed west, but oh, don't worry, I'm sure the fact that it's moving in the same general direction as our Mary Sue Protagonist (TM!) is just a coincidence. Can I interest you in a time share in the Brooklyn Bridge?

At several points the discription of the Nameless pauses for a discription of the Queen's nearly naked backside. And hey, you know what I DON'T miss from Narcissus in Chains? I DON'T miss all of Anita's "Richard is more interested in looking good than actually doing good/morality is a crutch and ethics are bad" bullshit every time I turned around.

“(Taranis) will not claim its parentage, so he will give no aid, for to give aid is to admit his part in its making.” “That is foolishness.” She nodded. “He was always one more interested in the illusion of purity than in purity itself.”

Yep, we just had to get another dig at conservative morality in there, didn't we? Couldn't have gone one whole book without pointing out how much BETTER you are than anyone else, could you, Laurel?

Meanwhile this conversation about what will be the antagonist for this novel is equally divided between info dumps of information we could have gotten over the course of several chapters...and Anadais's sexual frustration. Because the sex is the only thing that's important here.

And then...oh, good fucking Christ, then we find out why the Queen never screwed Doyle. It's because she didn't want to have "puppies".

“His grandfather was a phouka so evil that he bred in dog form with the wild hunt itself and lived to tell the tale.” She smiled, and it was sweetly malicious.

It's like reading really bad fan fiction where the author only cared about making sure that every character was paired up and screwing another major character, only instead of it being Pokemon or Code Lyoko we're talking about the entire Celtic mythos. WHY COULD YOU NOT LEAVE THE PHOOKA AND THE WILD HUNT ALONE? THEY WERE NOT HURTING ANYTHING.

Because this is the first major time the Hunt's been brought up, and we don't find out what it is, or what it is composed of, or what it does, and we don't find out what a Phouka is or what it needs or what it does, but we sure as bloody hell have just found out what it fucks! Yep, that's the way to show the reader a mostly-dead mythology in its full light and glory. SEX. IT IS EVERYTHING.

Then we have a conversation where Doyle implies that he is literally hung like a horse, and it's too rancid for me to copy and paste into the blog. Let's just say that Phookas are not getting out of this shit-fest easily. Please, Laurel, what did the scary little monsters ever do to you?

And then the conversation moves onto what measure of equality Doyle would require if he were to be King. Because having a co-ruler AKA a check on your own power is apparenlty a bad thing.

The chapter basically repeats itself from there on out before finally, finally winding down and ending with them going "Do you MIND that I'm a horrible cacurature of a black man part dog and part hell-dog?" "Oh no, snuzzle-wumpkins, let's go tear each others' backs off again."

Seriously. Why is the only alpha-dude with dark skin in this book a direct descendant of dogs? Why would you write that and not see what the problem is?

Worst thing written by a human. The worst.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 19

I spent most of today feeling like I'd stumbled into a bee-hive and inhaled most of the bees. Headaches are not something new to me, but when it takes three tylenol just to function, and it doesn't even knock the pain out? Yeah, that's not good.

Bed is going to feel very nice in about another half an hour.

Now: Positive thing. Something happy and floaty to talk about. Well...uh, I get to find a new shawl pattern? Though I think that will be "modify existing pattern for pi-shawl" because, historically accurate as it is, square shawls bore me silly. Russian shawls are straight forward and easy...ish (Good pattern=minimal casting on. Russian shawls start with the bottom border and are worked all in one piece. You don't even use an actual casting-off technique at the end, you just loop the last stitches together and hide the yarn end) but, to quote Barbie, the math is hard. A good Russian shawl has three major parts--inner frame, outer frame, and central motif--and making sure that all the elements end at the right time is a headache. As for working with a traditional Shetland That's less "math is hard" and more "WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING IN SCOTLAND?!?" I've got three really good books on the subject, including Heirloom Knitting, which is kind of the bible on Shetland patterns, and I still can't figure out which piece you start with, let alone how you're supposed to make it all look like on thing. A pi shawl, though, is basically one big long strip of knitting that folds over onto itself.

And I like round things better than square ones, anyway.

The point of all this is, I've been spinning a really nice alpaca/wool two ply in varigated white and brown. It is SOFT. It is like dream-making soft. It's the kind of thing you want to have forever so, when you feel bad, you can bury your face in it and let the rest of the world just go away somewhere else. I just have to work out a pattern that will look good in brown.

Now. Keep that image of warm soft fluffy things firm in your mind, because this is still the worst fucking book in the universe. 

Merry and Doyle are lying in bed together, all wrapped up in Doyle's hair.

Please remember that during sex they scratched each other so badly they "came to" covered in each other's blood. I've had bad scratches and cuts before. The big one was when I cut the end of my finger off with a rotary cutter and then wrapped it up in gauze...which we didn't change until the following morning. So having hair in oozing wounds is not what I'd call sexy. It's more of an OW. And if they were covered in blood...what's on the bedsheets?

And then there is an inner monologue about being "touch starved". Specifically, it says this:

Infants will die from lack of enough touch, even if every other need is met.

Leaving aside that it makes my inner editor twitch--I can't imagine what it does to other people--that's...not exactly what those studies showed. It's a lack of affection. Children need to be held because children need to feel loved and safe. I do kind of see what LKH was going for, Just no.

Also? Merry's clothes are everywhere. And she doesn't remember how they got there. And then it gets X-rated and my flight-or-fight reflex gets triggered because I don't want to read another awful sex scene and...Queen Anadais shows up through the magic mirror.

Yes. This whole chapter was dedicated to descriptions of clothes and Touch Therapy and the growing length of Doyle's penis.

...I still feel like shit, so I'm not doing another chapter.

Just a little thing

I feel like shit today, so no review. It's bad enough that I have to work.

I would, however, like to do a shout out to two people because between the two of you, you've made this month the best month I've had on the blog, like, ever.

RF, thanks for the link earlier, you are awesome.

Second, all the twitter links, and I do mean ALL OF THEM, are from one person. I checked. They are probably responsible for a third of the traffic I've gotten this month. Without them, half of you probably would not have read anything I've written. I'm not sure why this person has decided to promote me the way that they have, but I'm actually kind of grateful. Other than RF, nobody else is even talking about me.

So thank you. I don't get your reasoning, but thank you just the same. It is really amazing that somebody as important and well respected as you are takes an hour out of your day to talk about a blog that, prior to you taking an interest in me, nobody else was reading. It really means a lot. 

(Also? This is what "passive aggressive as fuck" looks like.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 18 NSFW


When I was eight years old, I walked into my grandmother's library. There was a burl wood table that had been there since before I was born. It was a very nice table. I'd looked at it every three to six months since I was old enough to crawl. But on this particular day I looked at the table and realized that the wood patterns were hiding the face of Satan.

I didn't go into that room for two years. I knew I was being silly, I knew it was just a wood pattern, but it was the face of Satan. 

That's what this book is. I said it was the "OK" series. I said it was the fun series. I said it was the series to go to if you wanted the fun of LKH's narrative voice and you wanted to stay away from the awfulness of Anita Blake's non-con. But I was wrong. The awfulness is there. In fact, the awfulness is worse. Much, much, MUCH worse. It's just casual, and as long as you don't look at it too close, you don't realize that it's the face of Satan. But it is. This book is officially a Hellmouth, and it's all because of this chapter.

And...Look. I know. I know. I know. I've tried, okay? I've tried. I've tried to keep from commenting on the racial aspects here because I know goddamn well I don't have the street cred to do it right, but it's gotten to the point where it'd be even more wrong for me not to comment on it. IT'S THAT BAD. So I'm sorry. I'm sorry for anything I get wrong, I'm sorry for anything I get right, I'm sorry this book even exists. This entire chapter should owe reparations to everyone, everywhere, forever.  That's how wrong it is.

I started this chapter being funny, there are funny moments in it, but this is not a good thing. This is not even something I should be joking about. I don't want to recommend that anybody not read my blog post, but you really might not want to read it today. I'm serious. Here are a bunch of pictures of cats being cute. Look at the pictures of the cats being cute, fill yourself with the adorability ('s a word. IT IS A NEW WORD THAT I HAVE JUST MADE GODDAMN IT) of the kittens, and be VERY glad that your head isn't going to be filled with the shitstorm that is about to follow. This is worse than Kitto and the dog bed. This is worse than Kitto period. This chapter is so wrong that to ignore its existence and what it says about the attitudes of its author is almost as bad as trying to ignore the Holocaust.

I am very sorry this is here. I am willing to continue reviewing this book chapter by chapter, if only because I started it, damn it, and I finish what I stared, but if, after this, mentioning this book makes anybody feel uncomfortable, I will drop it and do something less wrong. Like Save the Pearls or The Caterpillar's Question.

This chapter is worse than Save the Pearls.

This chapter is worse than that entire book.

I am dead serious.

Um...fair warning re: next Caress of Twilight update

Guys, I just reviewed the next chapter of Caress of Twilight ahead of time, kind of made me not want to exist anymore. There is so much wrong in it, on every level you can possibly imagine, that I would have skipped it out of consideration for you guys if I did not feel that not reviewing it, given that I am who and what I am, would be as bad as a German ignoring the Holocaust.

In plain English, I feel like I just read something that every white person, everywhere, should apologize for allowing to exist.

 If anybody in western civilization had any kind of conscience, we would have piled all these books into a giant mound and set a nuclear bomb off on top of the pile. 

I'm not kidding. I'm not trying to employ hyperbole. I'm not playing this whole social justice circle jerk "find the subtext" game that the internet is in love with right now. I am dead fucking serious.
 Laurel K. Hamilton should never publish anything else, ever again. She is a rancid, awful waste of oxygen. She has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The fact that she is still getting paid to put words onto paper should be prosecuted as a fucking hate crime.

If I feel better about this in the morning, if I feel any regret for calling a published author who is better than I am at the mechanics of writing a waste of valuable organs, skin and space, it is an indication that I fail as a basic human being.

You guys have no idea. None whatsoever.

I'm going to go find something nice to look at for a while so that I don't dream about this shit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Host--Chapter 10

This chapter is concentrated dumb. It is stupidity distilled down into its most basic componants. It is the Everclear of senselessness. It makes Bella Swan look like Katness Everdeen. I thought the height of stupid was having a make-out session during a political charged mirror-magic conference call but boy was I proven wrong. This is, quite possibly, the single biggest instance of character stupidity I have ever read. INCLUDING Solan Gris's machinations in Mission Earth, INCLUDING Clary Sage running through a Magical Door of Mystery when she has no clue what the fuck is behind it, and INCLUDING every thought and feeling both Anita Blake and Merry Gentry ever have, combined.

It's not even offensively stupid. It's just plan...GAH let's just get on with this.  

Wanderer is going into the desert to go find Jared and Jamie.

Because she can't live without them.

Because Melanie's memories of them are driving her to this.

But you know what Melanie obviously has no memories of? Hiking through a desert and coming back alive.

Yesterday I mentioned what I like to call the Desert Island test. You make a list of all the things you'd need to survive when you are removed from the human group--you can't go for help--and your accustomed tech base. Every item you have to add to that list indicates a skillset that you do not have. A knife would be the most basic--you can't forge a knife on a deserted island fast enough for it to make a difference for you, even if it's just rocks and sticks. If you have to add firestarters (matches, lighters, and god forbid, lighter fluid) that means you don't know how to make fire. Food means you don't know how to find food. String, ditto. Water? And it's more than three day's worth? You're fucked.

Having read this chapter, I feel very confidant in saying that Melanie, and by extension Wanderer, would not pass the Desert Island Test. Or the "Not dying in the motherfucking desert because you're an idiot" test.

They go into a Soul run store to get supplies.

This is a list of things that I think I would have to bring with me on a desert hike, if I wanted to survive and I had no idea how long I'd be there, in order of importance:

-three days worth of water
-A piece of durable clear plastic and/or a box of ziplock plastic bags--part of making a water solar still
-Several weights of some kind, like nuts or a roll of quarters--ditto
-Rope and/or some kind of twine
-A tarp made of heavy, opaque plastic
-a knife
-a coat
-a sleeping bag
-a roll of duct tape to repair all of the above
-a durable, strong hiking stick
-A backpack.
-Food. At least four days worth.

Water, a way to get more water if none is immediately avaliable and/or the water I find is bad, a way to treat and prevent dehydration, a way to make shade if none is easily found, a thing to cut other things with, things to keep warm with, things to fix other things with, things to carry and/or tie other things to, and food. And with all of the above, ways to get more food when I run out. 

Let's see what Wanderer gets!

 Melanie says they should get three galleons of water, which would give them three days to find Jared and Jamie. Before I explore how fucking stupid that statement is, let's see if S. Meyer even got that right.

Google fu leads me to several sites. This one says the following:

Without water, dehydration can set in within an hour in severe heat. The combination of physical overexertion and extreme heat — without water — can lead to death in as little as several hours.

That does not include the whole "passing out from heat exhaustion" part of dying from heat and no water. Let's guestimate, then, that if it is really hot, and it will be, and if you are exerting yourself in the heat--and they will be, god help them--you have two to three hours to find more water. Pass out, the game is over and you make your final contribution to the planet's welfare. Wanderer will be taking the car for the first day of this journey, but even the text admits that eventually they're going to have to ditch the vehicle. So the "extreme heat and physical overexertion" part of that statement applies. It then goes on to say that a galleon is the fucking minimum.  So yes. There's a chance that S. Meyer has gotten the minimum amount of water Wanderer would need to get three days out into the desert.

This is assuming, of course, that she doesn't actually eat anything too carby or to salty.

According to this site, every gram of carbohydrate and salt you consume has to be compensated for by, you guessed it, more water.  So anything that Wanderer brings with her that isn't water is going to mean she'll need more water.


When you plan for a trip, you plan for all of the trip. Three days of water means you walk in for a day and a half, you take a break, and then you walk back for a day and a half. This is, of course, assuming that Melanie's body is in any kind of condition to make this treck.

Wanderer has been teaching history classes. WANDERER HAS BEEN TEACHING HISTORY. There is no mention of how much excercise she's getting, if she's used to extreme conditions, and lest we forget, she can barely handle the mental stress of dealing with Melanie. Wanderer can barely handle dealing with the little voice in her head. And she wants to go into the desert. I'm sorry, walk into the desert. With only three days worth of water and...let's see, what exactly does Melanie insist Wanderer get?

-A flat of water bottles. (...Not galleon jugs, but a fucking flat of bottled water. Something that you can't tie to your backpack with a leingth of rope. And the Darwin Award of the year goes to--)
-A box of granola bars
-a roll of doughnuts
-a bag of potato chips
-a topographical map.

And that's it.

First of all, you remember that part about every gram of carbs and sodium having to be compensated for by more water? This is gas station food. Those granola bars? Unless the Souls changed them, they're about as healthy as those chocolate bars sitting underneath them. The doughnuts? Not healthy. A fucking bag of salt laden potato chips? Fuck me. 

And then there's all the shit Wanderer isn't buying. No matches. No sleeping bag--remember, all Wanderer packed for was a casual trip to Tuson--no hiking boots. No coat. No tarp. No tent poles. No rope. She's going to wander out into the desert with barely enough food and water for three days. There's nonsense about how "water is more important than food" in the desert, and this is true, but I get the feeling S. Meyer was researching what you need for basic survival. What Wanderer and Melanie are about to do is NOT basic survival. They want to hike through the desert and find a place that neither of them has ever seen before, using only one landmark and some indistinct directions from an uncle who, prior to the invasion, was blatantly crazy. With a body that even Melanie admits is in no condition for this hike.

You know what else Wanderer is not bringing with her? Salt. It sounds like a contradiction, but you NEED salt to stay hydrated. Water is not optional. Salt is not optional. If you read the treatment for severe dehydration it recommends you mix salt and sugar with water before you give it to the person. So after a certain point--after the granola bars, doughnuts and potato chips are gone--it won't mater how much water Wanderer drinks, it's not going to be doing her any good. 

And then Melanie goes off on how it's going to be dark soon and they need to get going.

 This is where shit totally breaks down.

S. Meyer lives in the New Mexico/Arizona region.  The same site that says "Food can be a bad thing" says travel at night if possible, something I knew WITHOUT googling survival tips. And the other thing it insists on is clothing. Specifically on warm clothing, a windbreaker and a down-filled sleeping bag. Because it gets fucking cold in the desert. As in freezing tempretures. As in you can avoid heat stroke by the skin of your teeth in the afternoon only to die of hypothermia at night because you were dumb enough to strip down to your coolest layer and leave the warmer things behind.

Wanderer, a cultured and civilized person in a society that doesn't even have to pay for things because "Everyone is honest, what's the point of money?" ( exchange value of labor for items of equal value.) is about to walk out into the desert and she hasn't once in the six months she's been a human even gone without air conditioning.

And Melanie is cheering her on the whole fucking way, even to the point of suggesting Wanderer go to sleep when it gets too dark.

Both these women are stupid. And it makes me question S. Meyer's capacity too, because she lives in this shit. That's why it's set here. That's why Bella Swan starts her cheerful little story in Phoenix and not Forks. And when you live in an area, even if it's not an area you're familiar with at first, you learn basic survival stuff. First thing I learned when I moved to South Texas? Where the hurricane evacuation routes were and not to go out into the afternoon sun in the middle of fucking summer.  I am about as civilization-addicted as you can get--I get pissy when my room gets too hot--and even I know you do not travel in the fucking desert during the day. I live by the coast, things are (sometimes) lush and green, and in the summer noon to four is uninhabitable. You do not go outside and do anything. You say inside. You drink water. If you're a good human being you consider donating window units to the elderly people in your neighborhood because if they don't have A/C they are going to die. YOU DO NOT FUCKING WALK THROUGH THE FUCKING DESERT DURING THE DAY.

If you're smart, at about eight to ten in the morning, you find a shady spot that hasn't hit "FUCK ME" level hot--don't start with a hot place because all you'll be doing is insulating heat, and that's bad--you spread the tarp you brought with you into a tent shape with most of the tarp pointed in the general west area, you tie it to trees/rocks/a cactus/the hiking stick you made the second you realized you had to hike through the desert, you spread your sleeping bag/wind breaker/coat over the rocky bits of the ground, and then you go to sleep. And even if you can't sleep because it's daytime and fuck it's hot, you STAY THERE. In the shade, with your water and your food and your other supplies. You don't leave your shelter until the sun is AT MINIMUM touching the horizon. And then you try to get as far as you possibly can before the sun comes back up and you have to find another shady spot to put your tarp.

Yes. You have to deal with rattlesnakes and coyotes and scorpions and spiders and about fifty other nasty things at night. You know what you don't have to deal with? The motherfucking sun. You *might* find a rattler and it *might* bite you (they're shy). You *might* find the wrong kind of scorpion or spider and that *might* kill you. You *might* have to fight off a hungry coyote if you're not good in the "make a lot of scary noise" department. But you know what you can't get away from that absolutely fucking will kill you? THE MOTHERFUCKING SUN. DO NOT GO OUT INTO THE MOTHERFUCKING SUN WHEN YOU ARE IN THE DESERT AND YOU ARE ONLY BRINGING THREE FUCKING DAYS WORTH OF WATER. THIS IS BASIC LIVING-IN-A-HOT-ZONE COMMON SENSE.

 The chapter ends with Wanderer going to sleep. And the title of the next chapter is "Dehydrated"

NO FUCKING SHIT. least Wanderer isn't trying to fuck a tree. Because at this point, Merry Gentry would.  But please tell me she keeps the empty water bottles. Please tell me that even this woman has the sense to keep the empty fucking water bottles. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Let my faith in humanity and S. Meyer's common sense have that little tiny bit of light. Please oh please oh please.