Saturday, March 30, 2013

Quick ETA on Starbleached 3

Still on track. Doing final polishing of things as we speak. GOD I wish I didn't have to go to work right now.

We are still on track to drop the book April 2nd. It'll go up on Smashwords first, then Barnes and Noble and Amazon (Not due to a personal preference. Smashwords processes books much, much faster than Amazon and B&N can).

I sure hope you guys are as excited about this as I am.

Speaking of "exciting", I am literally one book sale away from breaking 200 books sold. Which I would really, REALLY love to pull off in March. It would be fucking awesome to go into April with 200 sales under my belt. So if there's a book of mine that you've been wanting and you just haven't bought it yet...yeah, I hate nagging for sales but one book, guys. Please? Pretty please?

(Note: If you already have everything and are waiting on pins and needles for Overseer's Own, and thus cannot help even though you'd love to you are the most awesome human being in the universe and I heart you forever.)

Also re: reviews. I have to get this done. At the moment, Anita Blake is getting in the way of Adry and Bryan. Reviews will begin again sometime on Monday.

Probably about the time I'm doing a find-and-replace for fucked up dialogue commas and my list of filter words. It's the last stage and I fucking hate it with the fire and passion of ten thousand suns.

In short, my dear loyal book and blog readers...almost there. We are ALMOST. THERE.

(One more book please? Pretty pretty please? I will squee with joy and do a raffle contest thingy to celebrate if we can do this before the end of the month. Please?)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 14-15

Doing final edits for Overseer's Own. 

This should read as:


In other words...yup, business as usual in the week before a book release. At least I got the art done with time to spare. For This Found Thing it was literally doing the art the day before drop day, on top of the Diwali party (don't ask.) and I am 90% certain the stress of Diwali party on top of publishing insanity triggered my first episode of severe vertigo. Which is better now, BTW.

I am SO happy with this cover, kids. So happy, in fact, that I've ordered prints off DA. I haven't gotten prints of a lot of things and I want a print of this one because DAYUM. (also because I have Leythorne prints every fucking where and Starbleached needs equal obsession represenation).

Oh, and fun fact: The starfield that is our current background? I did that. I only wound up using about 45% of it in the cover OF AWESOME, so I dropped it in as part of this month's blog redo. LET ME KNOW IF THERE ARE ANY COLOR ISSUES SO I CAN FIX THEM THANK YOU.

Also...uh, in case you're not from LKH lashouts and you are reading the reviews for whatever reason, it's worth it to drop by because of train wreck. Specifically, LKH missed a massive deadline for her own book, and she literally turned the first draft over to the publisher.

I am dead serious. 

One thing I fix in copyedits is blank spaces, where I write in cap letters things like, "NOTE; NICKNAME OR TERM OF ENDEARMENT FOR NATHANIEL TO USE FOR ANITA." That blank remains and I still don't know what to put there, so here's your chance. I've got Anita's nickname for Nathaniel, & his for Micah, but still can't come up with one that works for Nathaniel to use for Anita. Suggestions? 
That's from a facebook post about a week ago. And I get the whole (NOTE TO SELF) thing LKH has going there. Sometimes I do it too. My last three novelettes had big-ass (parentheticals) at the end describing plot bits that I wasn't sure I needed. But you know what? First thing I did when I started the rewrites? I deleted their ass so nobody else would see it. Because that's what you do. You can be as lazy as you want with the first draft but when you're showing it to somebody else, ANYBODY else, you make it look fucking pretty. I don't even let my mother read my stuff until I've got the edits down to one or two red lines per page. The goddamned thing is named "Affliction" and that's probably the best title in the universe, because they went straight to copyediting the goddamn thing, and that's not a good sign. That's like a fashion designer going "OH FUCK WE HAVE NO TIME TO SEW THE DRESS TOGETHER LETS JUST GO STRAIGHT ON TO HAIR AND MAKEUP."

Folks, I am not perfect, and I know I am not that great a writer (...I heard you roll your eyes from here. You might want to get that checked, you know) but tonight, I feel like a writing Goddess from planet Pluton. Yep, it might be a flimsy plot with shitty characters, problematic tropes and general ignorance all around, but you know what? At least I take time to sweep up my shit before I let things loose on the wild.

I have to blog about the book now, don't I? Fuck.

Chapter 14 opens with Anita trapped between two dead guys, dizzy from blood loss.

You know, I have a lot of sympathy for those vague health issues that aren't debilitating, but that are fucking annoying enough for you to curl up in bed 50% of the day. Mostly because I have them. But please. For the love of fuck. Don't give them to your characters. 

 Jason hauls Asher off Anita and she's sicker than a dog thanks to blood loss, so he tries to haul her off to the nearest medic/medical facility. Anita, however, wants to look at how pretty Jean Claude and Asher are together. Jason finally manages to get her to the hot tub, because she's awful cold and needs warming up.

She's also lost a lot of blood and should probably have a glass of OJ and a hamburger. This, of course, won't happen. Because if Anita got proper medical attention, the rest of this story wouldn't happen.

Anita then realizes that she feels too damn good given what just happens, and eventually she and Jason figure out that Asher rolled her while he was feeding and he now has some kind of hold on her or something. The hold thing is never openly mentioned in the text, but given that Jean Claude's lackies rolling one of Anita's friends is how she got into this mess to begin with, it's something we have to assume.

Meanwhile, Anita continues to have nausea and...oh fuck, is this the pregnancy scare book? Wikipedia does nothing to assuage my fears, but random inexplicable nausea in a female character usually means the author wants to play with babies for a while. Fuck. Please, please, please tell me the pregnancy scare is in a different book.

Jason gets Anita into the tub, gets in with her, and holds her while she falls asleep. End of chapter.

Chapter 15 opens with Anita being called by the cops because somebody is killing people.

LKH doesn't write cops well. Specifically, she writes them as going off on witnessess and potential informants and suspects carte blanche like every single one of them needs to be on Prozac and in Anger Management.

My favorite interview between police officer and subject is the Dave Richart/Gary Ridgeway interview because of the dynamic between Sherrif and fucked up serial murderer. But the thing that applies here is how the interview starts out with Dave all buddy-buddy with Gary. Like it's some kind of parking ticket or something. Does Dave think it was a parking ticket level offense? FUCK no. By the end of the interview he's got Gary folded over the armrest of his chair. But Dave wants Gary to talk, and Dave will be Gary's very best buddy if that's what it takes to get Gary to tell him where missing girls are. If a cop wants information from you they're not going to scream at you. They're going to buy you coffee and offer you a cigarette.

Anyway, Dolph is screaming that Anita has to come down to a crime scene, no matter how sick she happens to be today.

Meanwhile, Anita is having orgasmic flashbacks re: Asher's bite. And Jason is in shock because Anita is a screamer. And then Anita remembers some other woman Asher did this to, and subtly trashes the woman for being a quiet sex partner. Because, you know, if you're not screaming you don't actually like it.

Anita and Jason talk about the orgasm.


 Finally they start trying to figure out how to get Anita to the murder scene. She can't drive because she's dizzy and she might have another flashback and wreck the car. Nathanial can't take her because he passed out at the club.

Due to sex.

Apparently having to screw Anita and the ardeur every night is Death by Snu Snu. And oh, hey, long time Anita Blake readers, you want to have nightmares tonight?

“Yeah, but Jean-Claude only needs to feed once a day, you need to feed twice a day. Let’s face it, Anita, you need a larger stable of pomme de sangs.”

There it is, folks. There's the first time the concept of a stable is brought up for serious. Can we even count the number of people Anita has anymore? Yes? No?

Finally Anita gets on the phone with Dolph and they discuss her going to the crime scene.

Because, you know, orgasms and sex partners are far more interesting subjects.

End of chapter.



But I will say this. My favorite part of this whole image? It's the title graphics. Text effects in photoshop FTW forever.

GOD that thing looks good.

More art update

Hiya Adry! I've missed Photoshop. DAMN I've missed Photoshop.

Also, is it sad that my favorite part of the image is Adry's medic badge? Because it is.

I'd say we are about 60% done. Now I just have to do Bryan's armor and the background.

Lookit that armband. LOOK AT IT. I AM AWESOME.

...because it will look awesome when it is done.

Also: No. I did not paint every single little fucking scale by hand. I cheated and used a custom brush. All I have to do is shade every single little fucking scale by hand.

Also-Also: I am exparimenting with hand-binding books. I have realized that when it comes time to do omnibuses (omnibi?) of my little books I would be best off hiring an editor. Which will be expensive as fuck. So when it comes time to do Lightning Source print books, I will *probably* do a Kickstarter and/or Indie a go go campaign to pay for the set up and the editor.

What would you guys think about hand bound, hardcover, illustrated copies of Starbleached, that first little book, as one of the donation rewards? Same would go for Exiles when it comes time for that omnibus. Discuss in comments.

(PS Self Publishing Thursdays will continue when I am not killing myself to try to get this thing done by the second. If you have something specific you want me to cover re: Self publishing things, please comment and lemme know.)

Last post for today and then I will stop

I'm posting my Starbleached playlist.

Because I want to.

Also because all of it is awesome, awesome music and I want to share all my things with everyone, everywhere, ever, so that we can all squee over the awesomeness together.

1. All Is Hell that ends Well--Two Steps from Hell --trailer music
2. 2nd Law: Unsustainable--Muse
3. 2nd Law: Isolated System--Muse
4. World Without End--Brand X Music --Trailer music
5. Control--VNV Nation
6. 3rd Planet--Modest Mouse
7. Search and Destroy--30 Seconds to Mars
8. Nova--VNV Nation
9. Cyber Slang--Brand X Music
10. Radioactive--Imagine Dragons--<3 am="" an="" br="" dragons="" fangirl.="" forever.="" i="" imagine="">
11. Human--Collide
12. Pro Victoria--VNV Nation
13. Sentinal--VNV Nation
14. Tomorrow Never Comes--VNV Nation--yeah. Them too.
15. This Unfolds--Four Tet
16. Artificial Nocturne--Metric
17. Madness--Muse
 18. Vice Verses--Switchfoot--Contemporary Christian band.
19. My Mind's Eye--Sirena
20. GO!--Santigold
21. American Dream--Jakatta
22. Misirlou--Wine and Alchemy---Don't bother going to Amazon for this one. It's an AWESOME local group that plays at the Ingleside Ren Faire. Albums can be found here.
23. Transfer--Collide
25. Revel in Contempt--Buke and Gass--weirdest band in my collection. YMMV.
26. Verum Aeternus--VNV Nation
27. Searching for Peeta--Hunger Games soundtrack--I cried.
28.  Leaving Lemuria--Jo Blankenburg--Trailer music
29. Dreams so Real--Metric
30. 24--Jem
31. Beautiful--Sarah Brightman
32. Promise--Thomas Bergersen--Trailer music
33. Between--Vienna Tang
34.  The Only Way--Gotye
35. Dirty Second Hands--Switchfoot
36. War is Coming--Epic Score--Trailer music
37. Who is Tyler Durden--Fight Club
38. Korben Dallas--Fifth Element soundtrack
39. Starstruck--Lady Gaga--Look. I have to have SOME pop music in my collection.
40. Kashmir--Wine and Alchemy
41. The Haunting--Black Halo
42. The Bad in Each Other--Feist--for the record, I loved this song LONG before Warm Bodies
43. Outt!--Buke and Gass
44. Herr Drosselmyer's Doll--Abney Park
45. Set Fire to the Rain--Adele
46. Stealing Fat--Fight Club soundtrack
47. White Rabbit--Collide
48. Guardians at the Gate--Audiomachine--Trailer music
49. Synaesthetic--Blue Man Group
50. Good Day--Britt Nicole--Christian artist.
51. Where There is Light--VNV Nation
52. Beautiful Ending--Barlowe Girl--Christian artist but DAMN. Piano OMG FTW. Every story everywhere should have this as its last song.

And if I were to pick any one song as the theme song for Starbleached, it would probably be either Control or Nova. So here are both via Youtube.

Seriously. VNV Nation is awesome and I heart everything about them forever.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 13--

I love painting. Specifically, I love how little my intentions have to do with what actually happens to the "canvas". Right now I am doing Adry's shoulder armor, hands, and boobs. Here is progress picture:

And I would love to say that I planned this, I planned the dynamic the cover will have, that I did this all on purpose and that all of that shading up there is 100% intentional. I would love to say that, but I can't. Most of what I do is looking at it and going "HEY THAT LINE OF BLUISH STUFF RUNS EXACTLY WHERE A SHADOW NEEDS TO BE AND IT HAPPENS TO BE THE RIGHT COLOR SO I AM GOING TO LEAVE IT ALONE NOW. The most I had to work with doing this cover was that Adry had to be on it. Because *takes deep breath and parks all progressive thought for a minute* chicks sell books better than guys do. Cover art is all about selling the book, and Bob hasn't exactly moved his episode of this opera very far. Bryan is weird. He wouldn't cut it on his own. So Adry had to be there. (Yeah. Balancing idealism with the need to make money: Something progressive thinkers just don't want to talk about.) And somehow something that sums up everything this book is about has risen to the surface.

It's part of why I can't do commissions. I can't do what other people ask me to do, and I don't mean that in a special snowflake kind of way. I mean that in a "OH MY GOD THERE IS SO MUCH MONEY IN AUTHOR SERVICES AND I COULD MAKE SO MUCH IF I DID BOOK COVERS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT ME WHY CAN I NOT DO THIS THERE IS MONEY HERE" kind of way. I have done a grand total of three book covers. NONE of them are in my gallery, none of them are in my portfolio. I hate them. I hate everything about them. I wish they would go die. Oh, the customers were happy enough. (One of them even paid me!) But each time I finished up, sent the stuff off, and thought "Thank GOD that's over." My least favorite job was actually the one I got paid for, because I knew every fucking second that it was a horrible cover, it didn't tell the reader anything about the story, but the author wanted it done exactly that way, she wouldn't let me read the actual book itself (loyal author-readers? If you self publish and you have to hire an artist, let the artist read your fucking book. Or at minimum, give them the scene you want on the cover to read.).

I also can't thumbnail or sketch for shit. Which is a highly underrated skill. Not having to explain what the blobby bits of paint will eventually be is a huge plus.

Ah, well.

Also: Awesome person who bought the entire Exiles series in one go today: you are a wonderful, wonderful human being and I hope you live strong forever. Seriously. It makes my day whenever somebody buys my books.

Right. Sucky book.

Look, I am the wrong person to review sex scenes, okay? I hate them. There have been a few that I've found interesting, I like well written sexual tension (See Paladin of Souls) and under the right circumstances, I like a well done scene. But the main thing that gets me going in a story is good rhythem. Sex scenes always, always, ALWAYS stop plot progression cold. They are a word-sink. They are padding. They are two characters sitting in the same place doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over AND OVER until the author decides their word count is big enough and finally lets somebody come. And when I read, loyal blog readers, I am reading for plot. I want brief with curtain waves because the author left me with a king in peril and a kingdom at risk and I'd rather know how the princess gets rescued than I would know where the wizard's dick went.

Chapter 13 opens with rushed sex. They only have a couple hours before Jean Claude and Asher "die" for the day. And so we move right past Anita giving Asher oral sex and dive straight into a request for double penetration.

...can I go back to talking about art and why I can't make money on commissions? That was so much less scarring.

 And then we get random french from Jean Claude as he warns Asher off:

Jean-Claude’s voice came as if from a great distance, “Non, mon chardonneret, we have done no preparation. She has never had it done before.”

"It" being penetrated anally. So basically Jean Claude gets to actually have sex with Anita, while Asher has to make due with dry humping.

Isn't he the dude Anita is trying to save? What happened to that plan?

Eventually Anita demands Asher be inside her somehow, so he bites her neck. And you know how Master level vampires have powers? Jean Claude has his Animal to Call (That phrase will haunt your dreams if we go much deeper into this series) and the ardeur, other vamps can do...uh...other things. Asher's bite is literally orgasmic.

And then we hit something that breaks my heart:

I rode that pleasure over and over and over until I screamed out, wordless, soundless, skinless, boneless, I was nothing, but the warm spilling pleasure. There was nothing else.

IF this were attached to a sex scene that was actually sexy, and IF the author had taken ten fucking minutes to clean up the wording and punctuation, that little bit right there would have been really, really good. It's that rolling repetition, the bolded part. That is a good bit of writing. That's the bit you frame with everything else. And instead of taking a few minutes to rescue that gem, LKH shit all over it. Did she punctuate this with her eyes closed?

 So everybody comes, and then naturally the sun rises and Jean Claude and Asher "die" with Anita trapped between them. Because traumatizing the fuck out of our protagonist is the word of the day. And I really have to say it:

I was pressed between the frantic pulse and warmth of their bodies, the fluids not even cooled on our skin,

LKH needs to stop writing about bodily fluids in her sex scenes. Yes. They are there. But the post-sex clean up? That is not sexy. That is the part you curtain wave and pretend like it doesn't exist, unless you are far more fucked up than I want to know about.

Also? Anita is now dizzy from blood loss.

This will be a major plot point.

The chapter ends with our brave heroine screaming her head off because she can't get the dead men to roll off.

Yeah. Anita, baby? Piss Poor Planning on your part does not equal an emergency on mine.  You might want to have that put onto a coffee cup.

Epic spam part deux

As earlier established, I've got a minor spam problem on the blog. I've kept it under control so you haven't noticed, but I get one or two little messages about forex trading or stock market tips or how to make your butt look small. And I like to play the "Spam bot or hungry college student" game, because every once in a while something utterly random drops in the spam filter.

Today, it happened again:

Its attachments to the bοneѕ originate on the baѕе of the hеad, shοulders, bасk and shοulders, feеt, buttock's and breasts. Some of these include avoiding having an episiotomy and the use or application of each one and looking for the perfect massage therapist, I work hard to gain financial ground?

Anatomy textbook copy pasta is apparently avoiding a serious operation with diverse uses and applications. It has decided to get a good massage therapist instead, but apparently lacks the funds to pay.

I am so totally turning that last one into a story, BTW. I just need to have the time.

STARBLEACHED #3 Cover progress

Overseer's Own is coming along swimmingly. SWIMMINGLY, I tell you.

Here is cover:

But CW! I hear you say! What is that big blurry spot?

That's Bryan. Getting his features right was a pain. I'll still probably go back and do more, but I think he looks pretty good, don't you?

In other words? You don't get to find out what an Overseer looks like in my mind until after the cover is released.Because I am that kind of person.

We're on our way!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cerulian Sins--chapter 12

I think the thing that aggravates me the most about this series is Jean Claude's pet name for Anita. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't ma petite translate to "My little?" There's probably a cultural language thing that I'm just not getting here, but I think being short and being called "My Little" by a boyfriend who could bench press a cement mixer full of cheerleaders if he wanted to would probably make my lebido go the way of the dodo.

It's not so bad when the series is good, because Jean Claude is supposed to be an asshole, but when the series sucks, my GOD does it get old.

Anyhoo, Anita, Jean Claude and Asher are all about to have sex.

There is no way to make blogging about a sex scene interesting. I've been trying for three books now, and the summery is basically "Lick kiss lick lick suck, Karma Sutra, that shouldn't go there, if it is spilling it's not orgasm, it's bad hygene, and sex shouldn't fix everything."

That's every sex scene LKH has ever written.

Anita also establishes that she doesn't want to be there when the vampires "die" at dawn. Because they do that .

(Jack Flemming. Jack Flemming. My kingdom for Jack Flemming, Vampire PI)

Dawn is only two hours away.

Okay, so now they should start having sex.

 I was suddenly very aware that I was the only girl, and they were both men. I know that sounds silly. I mean, I knew that already, but  .  .  . I suddenly felt it. It was like walking into a bar and feeling all those eyes follow you as you walk, like lions watching gazelles.
Anita, baby? Asher is far less interested in you. Seriously. You are not the main attraction here. You're that barricade Asher has to vault over to get to the main ride, if you know what I mean.

And then we get that little flash of good writing that reminds me what a fucking waste this series was. Anita slips off the bed because silk sheets tend to do that. Asher and Jean Claude spend a few minutes talking about how Jean Claude injured himself seducing a duchess and falling off her bed, and it's actually a good and humanizing kind of moment. We are reminded that these are people with a history before Anita showed up, who will have a history together long after she's gone--theoretically--and that Anita is just a bit player in their drama.

And then it goes back to being the All Anita, All the Time show, and she's in a race with dawn and the ardeur to get Asher naked. Which means we now have to describe every inch of scarring, and oh fuck does that take forever.

A note. Asher has been like this for centuries, and he's acting like it happened two or three months ago. Like being hideously scarred has ended his life forever, and woe is he, he will never be whole again.

One of my personal heroes is a cop. I've forgotten his name, I've only seen him on TV, and he's probably the single most awesome person I've ever heard of. He rolled a police car during a chase and got burned on every inch of his body. The first time I saw him on TV it was a medical show about implants and replacement bodyparts (I was a weird kid) and they were building him a new nose and new ears because the fire kind of took his. I remember thinking "Oh, hey, cool, how nice of them to make implants for the damaged police officer."

Fast forward a couple years, and I'm watching cop shows now, and there's the scarred cop. He's a dectective now, working homicide, and those prosthetics I watched them build ten years ago? Yeah, those are nowhere. Because his scars weren't him and his body wasn't him, and he was far more interested in doing his job than he was in how he looked in front of a TV camera. That is what strength looks like, and I wish to God I could remember his name so I could link the whole world to how awesome he is.

The problem I have with Asher isn't that he's a fucked up scarred mess who needs to heal. It's that he's been that way for hundreds of years, and LKH expects us to buy that Anita is healing him with her vagina. I think people can heal, I think people can change, but I think that healing and change has to happen from inside. One thing that fasicnates me, and it's something I keep coming back to in my own writing, is the resiliance of the human spirit. That we get knocked down and get back up and say "throw it again, dude" and no matter how awful our lives get, we're not ready to give up and we're completely ready to let the scars heal over. With Anita, there's this aura of "love can fix everything" that is psychological poison for everything attached to it. It's bad for Anita because she can't fix everything, and it's bad for the people around her because it implies that they can't and shouldn't take personal responsibility for themselves. It's a codependant relationship, and like any codependant relationship it turns every party involved into a soul-sucking black hole.

Anyhoo, the climax of this chapter, and yes I did that on purpose, is when Asher is finally bare-ass naked and it is revealed that his penis, blog readers, his penis is perfect. Because it was scarred, you see, and a doctor figured out that if he did something to it, Asher's penis would go back to being normal. Jean Claude loses it and starts sobbing and holding Asher and Asher starts sobbing and holding Jean Claude and this happens:

They held each other and cried, and laughed, and healed, and I was suddenly superfluous, kneeling on the bed in my lingerie. And for once, I didn’t mind in the least.

Wow. Two guys who have loved each other for centuries are having much needed catharsis, but it still has to be all about Anita. WOW. Thank you. Thank you for allowing these guys a moment of privacy that isn't tainted by your vagina. Very big of you.

End of chapter. Fuck you, Anita Blake.

Cerulian Sins--chapter 10-11

Business first, guys and girls! First of all, Starbleached is free, Use this coupon: RB36X Planet Bob  is now one dollar.  Basically it's two books for half price if you grab 'em both. Coupon is WN73R. Am I being annoying? Yep. Probably. But I put a lot of work into these things. If you're not into Starbleached yet, now's your chance. Second, sample of the third book, Overseer's Own, is right over here. If you haven't read it yet, now's your chance.

There. Book time now!

One thing I've been doing with Overseer's Own in the editing process--one thing I do every editing process, actually--is delete large portions of text. Places where I explain something that is neither a part of the story nor clear enough to be good world building, and that information is not critical enough to be worth clarifying. Writing for pay--even if it's just twenty bucks a month--means that you're writing against time. And when you are writing against time, wasting it on something that doesn't actually contribute to the overall picture is bad. Seriously. It's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie only the mouse comes out of your head.

Why do I bring this up?

LESS THAN AN hour later Jean-Claude and I were in his room, alone. Damian was one of the guards outside our door. We’d split our vamps up among the wereanimals so that, hopefully, the bad vampires couldn’t use mind tricks on the wereanimals without the vamps knowing it. We’d done the best we could do, which had actually been pretty damned good. The ardeur was still in hiding. I wasn’t questioning it, just grateful.
What the fuck does that have to do with anything? What does it mean? Why are we worried about what the bad vampires would know? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS CONTRIBUTE?

*takes deep breath*

You know, I'm not the best writer in the world. I know I'm not the best writer in the world. But you know what else? I'M NOT GETTING PAID HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO WRITE THIS SHIT. (Also: Google fu will not turn up any hard numbers on how much LKH IS getting advanced for this shit, so I am assuming it is a six figure amount. If it is otherwise please correct me, I will feel so much better about myself if you do) If you are getting paid massive amounts of money you do your fucking job and make sure that you clean the manuscript up until somebody like me won't choke on it.

We also find out that Jean Claude has that bed from First Wives Club, the one that Bette Midler sobbed over, only he had the canopy, pillows and bedsheets done in blue.

It's funny that I could swallow the clothes--I think they're insane, but I could buy Jean Claude being dumb enough to wear them to show off--and the living room, but I can't do this bedroom. I can't. Everything else could be a show, but no way is a male danger vamp going to have a princess's bedroom.

Anita asks Jean Claude if her and Jean Claude not sleeping with Asher means that Musette gets to have Asher again tomorrow night. Jean Claude uses a lot of words to say "Yep"

It is also confirmed that Musette is indeed a pedophile, only for blood and not sex. She has two vampires who are physically six and eleven, respectively. The boy is described as "precocious" and in need of a grown up lover. This paragraph happens:

“He looked like a child, Anita, and he would use that innocent face to maneuver women into compromising situations. By the time they realized that they were in danger of abuse, it was often too late. More than that, he threatened to accuse them of being the aggressor. There was no such phrase as child molestation in that century, but everyone knew it happened.
Yep. An eleven year old child is capable of doing this.

Okay, having watched social work most of my life--both my parents are councelors and they ran a foster home for a while--I know that an eleven year old is capable of doing this...because they watch the kids who are abused report said abuse and realize it gives them a way to get power over the adults in their lives. In many of these cases, though, the kid doesn't really understand all the implications of what they're doing. And the only reason they DO know they can do it is they are living in a system designed to punish abusers. These kids are also very rare and do not grow up well.

LKH expects me to believe that an eleven-year-old medieval kid--we're talking Marie Antoinette era at the very very latest--would understand the social implications of sexual blackmail well enough to use it on his lovers to get them to sleep with him. In an era where marrying at twelve was perfectly acceptable.


How about the other child vamp? Somebody made her because she was pretty, and Musette gave her human nannies and human playmates until the little darling tried to turn one of her playmates into a vampire and killed the human nannie when she discovered that Valentina's little tea party didn't actually involve tea.

So at this point I have a question: Why involve kids? It made sense--sort of--with Nikolaus because it was unexpected and Nickolaus had a position of power. These kids are window dressing for Musette. It's like Ra surrounding himself with little kids in Stargate. I understand this, but I don't get this. It's not adding to the aura of scary. It's more...oh ICK than anything else. WHY DO THIS?

Anyhow, eventually it comes back to "We have to screw Asher to keep him safe." Oh, and this little gem pops up in the conversation:

To Belle Morte, if a man has an orgasm, then he must have enjoyed himself. It is her reasoning.”
Hey, Laurell? You know that scene in Narcissus in Chains where Micah raped Anita in the shower? And she orgasmed so that make it all okay? Yeah. DO YOU READ YOUR OWN-- fuck, of course you don't read your own fucking books. You sent Affliction to your publisher the day you finished the first fucking draft. Oh my god, guys, do you know how happy I'd be if I could just proofread my books and publish them? I'd be so happy. The books would be a mess, but I'd be happy.

Finally, Anita decides that if they all sleep together tonight, Asher will be safe tomorrow, and that's enough justification to allow two men who love each other very much to have sex.

Anita is a terrible person. She admits that it isn't fair, of course, but she doesn't do anything to change that. And she's sleeping with everybody, so...

Chapter eleven, Asher comes in. They debate for a while about wheither or not anybody's going to have sex. Asher, being a human being with thoughts and feelings and emotions of his own, doesn't want to sleep with them just to be safe from Musette. He tells Anita to fuck off. Anita refuses because consent is for weaker people, I guess? She starts manhandling Asher while he backs up against a door. Finally, he starts emotionally blackmailing her by demanding she not "run" tomorrow, which I guess means he wants a blank check for sex in exchange for soothing her guilty conscience tonight.

They're both terrible.

And then Anita plays the Richard card:

“I let Richard walk out on me. I think he’d have gone anyway, but I just sat on the floor and watched him go. I didn’t stand in his way. I figured it was his choice, and you can’t hold someone if they don’t want to be held. If someone really wants to be free of you, you have to let them go. Well, fuck that, fuck that all to hell. Don’t go, Asher, please, don’t go.



Chapter ends with Anita kissing Asher and murmuring "I love you" over and over and over again.

BONUS ROUND: Google fu could not uncover LKH's advance numbers, which I really wanted to know, but I found these two interviews and they are kind of precious. Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Overseer's Own BOOK SAMPLE!

Yes, my loyal book and blog-readers. It is that time. Still a little rough in places but we are taking care of that as we speak, and here is your sample of the book to come. Please note: MAJOR spoilers for Planet Bob in the first scene, so this is actually the second.

And just in case you've forgotten, Starbleached is free, and you have no idea how much that hurts. That's still my best book so far IMHO. Use this coupon: RB36X

Planet Bob is in on the action, too. Half off! Yep. 50% off. Planet Bob is now one dollar.  Basically it's two books for half price if you grab 'em both. Coupon is WN73R

Here is your sample:

Two: Now

When he stepped off the fighter, they greeted him with weapons.
Four projectile arms, with connectors woven into the nervous systems of the Eldking’s personal guards. Not the best welcome. He—it was difficult to think of himself as Bryan Landry, though he knew that had been his name—felt the first flutter of terror as their minds brushed his. These were the elite of the Overseers. Brightminds, each and every one of them, with every sense of self obliterated by their chosen duty. Their thoughts burned harsh as the light of a burning star. They could flay his mind down to its basest form, uncover all his secrets, and plant whatever poisoned seeds they chose. He was powerless before them.
And yet his mind turned to those thoughts like a flower to the sun. He had avoided his own kind too long. He wanted their community. Damn his traitor body, he longed for it. He’d been human, once. He even remembered it for brief and fleeting moments. That was not true anymore, no matter how much he and others might wish it. He was theirs. Their blood, their mind, their kin, and every part of him knew it. His consciousness recoiled from the invasion of thought; the rest of him leaned towards it like the embrace of a brother.
The battle to keep his secrets hidden was already half lost.
Faces pale as the skin of a silver moon, the other Overseers watched him. Behind the four were perhaps twenty Lowminds. Bowed and bent with coiled energy, their four eyes avid only with hunger, they watched him warily. Each of them was like a dark hole waiting to be filled by a greater, brighter mind. That was the way of the Overseer. The stronger filled the weaker, and in filling they obliterated. The Lowmind feared the Highmind, and feared the Brightmind more. They feared the Brightest Mind most of all.
It seemed they could also spare a little fear for Bryan Landry. Cold comfort, that.
The Homeship curled around them. Black carapace was blue washed by organic lights. It was brighter here than it would be in the living quarters. A hanger bay was always designed to be a shooting gallery of sorts, easy to guard and impossible to invade. But compared to human society these open spaces were cool as twilight in the lee of a great stone. After so many days of sunlight, Bryan welcomed the dimness. Power conduits and organelles blinked in organic support pillars. Powerpack hearts fluxed as read-screens projected their information onto delicate membranes, the unimportant things that life-engineers didn’t want continually projected into their already cluttered thoughts. The Homeship pulsed against his feet, the selfless void of its computations rested patiently against his mind.
It was like coming to hell.
It was like coming home.
“What do you come for?” one of the Guard asked. The Kind were psychic. Speaking aloud rather than mind-to-mind was an insult.
Bryan squelched the immediate rage. Not here, not now. This was not the time to pick a fight. “I come to see the Eldking.”
-You come for the woman, I think.- The mind behind this thought was not present. Distance hadn’t muted the volume. Those words were like a shaft of bright sunlight, a star gone nova.
It had confused him when he realized humans liked the glow and heat of starlight. It burned the eye and skin, dried out the lungs and made existence a misery. Better the cool dimness of a sheltered place, soft moisture on the air. Light drove these places out, as the invasion of a Brightmind erased one’s own identity.
It took all his strength, but he did not respond.
“He gives you the honor of his thought, Nameless One.” The nearest Guard whispered.
Bryan growled, fists clenched. He had a name. He had won it from his own traitor memory. The Guard’s mind attacked his, searching for a crack in his defenses, a way to infect him with their own eagerness for battle. It didn’t work. He did not give in to anger and throw the blow. The Guards’ mind rippled with the deep burgundy of disappointment. He smiled and forced the surface of his thought to be placid, colorless. Battle was a release. Denying it…well, that might be the only satisfaction he would have in these coming hours.
-Bring him.- The great thought slammed through all their minds, and the Brightmind’s assent radiated back in return.
The urge to run was overwhelming. He had denied himself every pleasure to escape the Eldking’s presence the first time. Now he risked losing even his freedom, just to rescue one human female.
Just one.
He closed his eyes. Somewhere in these comfortable halls was a woman, dark eyes, red hair, a smile he had seen perhaps three times in this alien life of his. Her touch was gentle. How much gentleness was there in this universe?
He walked forward unassisted.
The Guards’ amusement burned like acid. To the Overseer, a human was fragile, a thing made to die. Did it matter how they perished when their lives were so brief? In answer, he focused on the woman’s face. The alternative would have been fatal.
He had come here to rescue her, yes, but he had a second purpose. He had a plan, he and Bob Harris did. Cobbled together in a tiny human ship not even twenty four hours ago. The Eldking’s flagship had never been so exposed, or so close to a human world. The human war-fleet could take advantage of this. His job was to arrange—
Interest peaked around him. Damn. The greatest problem with the mind: you cannot tell yourself not to think about something without thinking about it. You can’t even lie. Just obfuscate. Confuse. Omit.  
When the first probing thought touched his, he quickly focused on his ship.
It was small, a fighter that humans called a Fang. He’d stolen it from the Eldking’s own hold four months ago, and many of its parts were disastrously old. The engine emissions alone would have given him away, were it not for the cloak.
No. I must keep this secret. I must, he thought.
The Guards’ mind became even more focused. The Guard were unique; if you faced one Guard within a ship you faced them all. Their mind was like water from a thousand sources all poured into the same bowl. One of them would be relaying Bryan’s every gesture, word and surface thought to the Eldking himself. Another would be standing in the most distant part of the ship, and he would know everything that was done here. That mind was frightening and it was terribly hungry. More minds, more bodies, more secrets. More. He thought the Guard would consume the universe if the Eldking did not keep it in check. They walked down a gold-lit hall—not a common area, but a work hall—and the Guard’s probe lanced deeper.
-What is the cloak?- The Guard demanded.
It slipped from his mind like sand through fingers. It was a device of his own invention, conceived within the Homeship, developed on the planet Dorofey and finally grown on the world below. It sat within his ship, between the computer and the primary power coil. The surface armor of a Fang reflected Overseer radar like a mirror. Fangs couldn’t hide in the deep void of space. The cloak poisoned the ship, forced the surface to soften and fuzz. Overseers did not have viewports in their ships. They used their instrumentations exclusively. The cloak turned its ship into a hole in space.
The only downside was how much that poison weakened the armor. It could heal in a handful of seconds, but while the cloak was active even a slow meteorite could puncture the outer carapace. But Bryan had already proven how well the cloak worked. He’d made it through the Cold Faction without incident, and the entire Faction had been looking for him. They wanted to trade him to the Eldking for the right to invade Golden Dragon, and he had made it through their patrols, through their finest battalions, using a device no bigger than a human heart. Proof of concept. The cloak worked.
Satisfaction colored the Guards’ mind. This was followed immediately by the Eldking’s command. –Remove the device from the fighter. Destroy the fighter. Study the device.-
And Bryan was released.
Keeping the relief from blowing it was a titanic struggle. Thoughts and emotions were like the pages of a book; you could only read what lay on the uppermost page. Probes were done to force the victim to think of what they most wished to hide. They couldn’t actually find something not in your conscious thoughts. But deception could not be done the human way. A lie could not be conceived and exploited because the uppermost thought would be this is a lie. For an Overseer, deception was a pyrrhic victory. You had to sacrifice the truth, one piece at a time, and pray you never had to expose a vital piece.
But there was one small advantage. They called it the Echo, an intuitive sense as vital as scent, sight or hearing. An Overseer always knew what their words and actions will do. An insult can be counted upon to incite rage because you know, sure as stars shine, that your words will have that effect. It was like holding a stone above a pond and knowing where the ripples would eventually fall, should you let go.
The Echo whispered to him now. The cloak was a stone. His presence here was a stone. The ripples were spreading out. He had suggested to Bob that they could force the Overseers to fight one another; crippling the Homeship was the suspended bolder they needed. The ripples here would soon become waves.
Unless he blew it.
The Echo told him that was more likely than success.
His left palm itched as if a small rock had lodged on the inner lip of the ust’ye, the feeding organ. He could not scratch. That “stone” would cause unsatisfactory ripples. It was the small black subspace tracker Bob Harris had given him. Bob had intended it simply as a way to extract Bryan and Adry Parker, once he found her. Bryan had radioed back a different plan.
Very different.
Activation would have rather explosive consequences.
If they find it, they will take it away. They will study it, realize that it is a homing device. They will watch me that much more carefully. And I cannot afford to spend too much time here. I cannot lose the cloak device. I cannot afford to be contained.
And especially, I cannot let this damned thing turn on if I am still aboard this ship.
He walked through the last set of blast doors, and the Homeship welcomed him home.
Home. How could any place this wicked feel so very safe? How could a place so comfortable chill the blood in the very same moment?
His kind—Overseers, humans named them. The nadziratelya. Humans were so free with names—did not hold their breath in fear. No shivering or trembling while the gut turned cold. They became still and alert. Only the scent of fear remained, thick, heavy and unmistakable. The musk of fear was his ever-present companion now, and he could feel the Guards’ unspoken contempt.
-So scared we would find your surprise?- one of them thought, and laughed aloud. Then they refocused on him, tighter, more intently. –Have you tested it on human systems yet?-
Answering was as easy as thinking. Bryan let his thoughts wander.
Fooling human systems would be trickier. Yes, humans used radar and computer analysis, but their primary detection system was their own eyes. Once they spotted you, they’d find a way to circumvent the cloak. Especially if they were looking for it.
He’d told the Human Resistance on Golden Dragon all about it, in as much detail as possible. He’d also told Bob Harris. Both fleets would certainly be watching.
And if he hadn’t? There were other humans in the universe.
Well, they would be deceived at first. Possibly for even longer, if you were a canny pilot and kept out of visual range. For a while, he’d believed they would continue to be deceived even at close range, that their assumptions were as unchanging as the Overseers’ own. But working with the Resistance on Golden Dragon had told him they would not make the same error twice. And humans used visual confirmation far more frequently in combat. The cloak would work for one battle. Two, at most. Then the Humans would have a counter-measure in play.
Disappointment as the Guard’s mind withdrew. What use was a cloak if it could not hide the Kind from the humans?
Bryan’s pulse increased. No fear, no nerves, not a ripple to trouble the mind. He had made it through the Cold Faction, had he not? This knife was best wielded against enemies of like purpose, not the cattle they had come to butcher.
Silence as they walked through halls lit with gold, with amber, with a dull swamp green. It reminded Bryan of Dorofey, and of Adry, and he banned that memory before it went any further. Along with the nervy, jittery urge to will, swallow it, swallow it, swallow it whole.
A shudder passed through the guard. And then a thought from the Brightest Mind. –We shall study it more. Continue.-
The bait had been taken.
Bryan didn’t let the satisfaction exist for more than a heartbeat. The tracker rubbed against the soft flesh inside his ust’ye, and the Guard brought him deeper into the ship.
Humans named all things. Overseers had to earn theirs, through great deeds, high ranks, magnificent inventions…or through their own crushing failure. Names were a thing either of pride or of shame, but not something one was entitled to. Often one’s rank was the only identity you had. Brightmind of a great ship, Engineer of this great section. Shipsoul—this word had first been translated as ‘god’ by those who studied such things. Loss of rank meant a loss of self.
Only the Guard seemed content to that path. They had surrendered whatever Names they earned and titles they bore, and the sanctity of their own privacy to become the Eldking’s own servants. They belonged to him. They kept him alive.
Bryan shuddered as he followed their gold-cloaked backs.
The ship had a quality, a sort of overmind, that was like water rushing over stones. It caressed and soothed. It agitated until aggression was all you could think of. The subconscious was filled by a thousand surrogate selves. The Lowmind was overwhelmed by it; they could submerge in the pleasure of instinct and desire and never come up for air. The Brightminds could control the overmind, slip into the thoughts of another being like a hand into a glove. The Highminds were the beings lost between; too resilient to wallow in a mire of subconscious revelry, too weak to fight off the imposed commands of a greater mind. Bryan had hated it before, and he despised it now. It wanted to envelop him, consume him whole.
It’d been easier to stay out of the Cold Faction’s overmind. The deep division did not welcome newcomers, and their inward war helped him stay aloof. But here things were placid, as near to peace as Overseers ever came. The soothing hand of Shipsoul was even visible, keeping disagreements at a low boil, soothing the unquiet mind. He had belonged here once before. He could lie here and never rise again.
Being conscious of it dispelled the overmind’s hold. He listened to it consciously, letting its attraction pale.
-fresh parts-
-new wings for hull design-
-hunger satisfied. Pity. Good human good worker-
He swallowed against that last thought. Somewhere in this ship were many humans, their minds mute and silent, their eyes too weak to see in the corridors of the Homeship. This population would wane as time progressed, sacrificed to sate the hunger of creatures they saw as monsters. The Overseer could live only by consuming those beneath him.
And Adrienne Parker was here, among them. If he surrendered to the overmind, she would die.
There were no doors in the corridors now, save those that lead to labs and private quarters. Airlocks weren’t installed this deep. Individual rooms could be sealed, but this was the ship’s very heart. If that were wounded, the ship itself was lost.
Humans would have installed airlocks, he thought.
He’d been with humans too long. Their light was blinding, the heat and dry air exhausting, and the hunger a constant reminder. But here the light was cool and illuminated, its burn restrained by bulb and membrane. The air was sweet to breathe. Decks vibrated underfoot, computers reached for any mind able to hear, and he could feel the promise of buds waiting to become true ship-parts, the irresistible promise of what they could become in his hands.
The Overseer knew when to bare his throat and surrender.
Humans did not have the Echo. They fought until they died.
The light increased the deeper they walked, though it never became truly unbearable. Membranes rippled, the few plants that could live without light grew riot in peach-tinted light. Phosphorescent flowers bloomed amid the blinking organelles and harsh carapace forms. And they came to the final set of doors at last. Dark gemstones glittered in organic curves, a light dusting of gold shimmered on the upper ridges. Here was the entrance to the Eldking’s throne, the beating heart of the entire Overseer race.
The Eldking’s own did not walk through these doors. They were a symbol of division. Only those apart from him, or those he had some grievance against, were made to use these outer doors.
Bryan walked through them, head held high.

The light here was bright to the point of pain. The Eldking's throne room was not a comfortable place. The seat of power ran from darkened floor to shadowed ceiling. Rippling steps of black carapace were inset with lights. Rays of bright blue scattered at Bryan's feet. The Eldking himself looked smaller seated; great age pressed down onto his frame. He wore a cape of gold etched chain mail, enough to protect his back, his arms, his hands and feet, but intentionally left open to the front. His life was in the hands of his guards, and in the wits of his enemies. If you were smart enough and bright enough to avoid his probing thought, strong-willed enough to bring your weapon to bear, skilled enough to avoid his guards and his own attempt on your life, you had earned the right to kill him.
No one ever had.
The guard brought Bryan into the Eldking’s view, and the Brightest mind reached out to all like a golden sun. Bright thoughts burned against the safe darkness of privacy, erased it and filled the space left behind with the presence of another. In his presence you lost your very self within his tidal pull.
Bryan dropped to his knees with the rest of the guard, only realizing the titanic pressure brought against him when the Eldking relented.
-My own-
There were overtones of great possession in this thought, as if Bryan were part of his body, an extension of his power. A possession, not a person.
Bryan said nothing. Obedience, he could not deny. Response, though, that he could withhold.
“We greet our heir,” the Eldking said, aloud. Hushed whispers were accompanied by an explosive sort of gloating among the younger minds present. There was some resentment that they had not been chosen as Bryan had. To become part of the Kind, to be converted by the Eldking himself…this was the greatest honor possible any human. And to be denied the soft mind-language of the Overseer, the nadziratelya, that was the worst insult imaginable. What a feast for the cruel-minded this moment must be.
Bryan rose to his feet as if unbroken. He said nothing. He waited.
I have no standing here, he thought. Humans did not understand how important that was. Reading the Echo. Knowing where your standing lay. That you could command him, that you must obey him, and that this one was your equal and, most likely, your rival—this was as critical to life as breathing. The cells knew their place in the body; the Overseer knew his place in the Kindred. And he knew when that place could be improved.
There was room for a lot of improvement now.
But I choose to be outside that. I am not a part of the Kind anymore. No force can make me kneel.
-Truly?- The Eldking’s question was soft, gentle, like the kiss of mute light on closed lids. Gone, as soon as given, and heard by no other. Aloud, he continued. “You have returned to us on the eve of battle, one that was to be your ransom. Why?”
His ransom? A war for an ungrateful heir? Why even bother? He started to ask this question aloud, but he caught a brief face in the Eldking’s mind. Pale, human, short brown hair, soft jaw, brown eyes, and an expression like steel…an impression that she belonged to Bryan.
Damn. They didn’t just have her. They’d taken her on purpose.
The Echo also worked on plans, and plots. His, it seemed, had just taken a major blow.
It wasn’t over. He clung to this. He had not lost his chance yet. But the first move must be careful. He must not make his play from the heart. Not yet.
 For the first time Bryan met the Eldking’s eyes. He sat on the throne, hands wound into yellow-gold circuitry. From here he controlled the Homeship entire; it was almost an extension of his person. The smaller chair beside him was empty. His companion wasn’t there.
He spoke the first thing on his mind that was not Adrienne Parker.
“I would speak for the world,” Bryan said. “The Cold Faction seeks to violate your law and take another human world for its own. Without—” he paused. Damn. What would the Eldking care about? Mercy for humans, protection of the innocent, justice, these things did not matter to the Kind. They thought only of the sweet taste of human lives when taken at the rise of hunger. “—without thought for the preservation of supply. Or—” he fumbled, desperate. What could possibly persuade these monsters?
“—Or thought for the children of blood.” A new voice rang out. Bryan turned sharply as a figure stepped into view.
This had once been a human female, and she had chosen to retain her femininity long after gender became irrelevant. Her mind was bright, surface thoughts unspoiled by instinctive hungers...but it also had a softness, a discrete comfort. It was not so penetrating as the others. She had found her place and her strength, and she was willing to let the others be. Shipsoul was her title. Bryan would have called her Advocate.
She wheeled on their leader. “They have not asked of our own plans, nor given us time to save what we can. There was sense in surrendering the planet for your heir, but you have him now. There is no reason to turn our future over to the Cold Faction's beasts. Don’t cost us this.”
Her words echoed, as Overseer voices rarely did. Still harsh and hoarse, passion gave her volume. Even, he supposed, beauty. And yet there was something stale in her argument’s reception. The Echo was confused…but…had he stepped into an old argument? Yes. Yes, he was sure he had. He didn’t understand the first thing about it, but he sensed understanding wouldn’t matter.
“Does the human fleet know of us?” The Eldking turned on Bryan.
Damn again. Now he had to lie without actually thinking of a lie…or betraying Bob and Holton Fleet. Golden Dragon had a fleet visible from here. He’d even caught a glimpse of it in the Resistance offices during his time with them. Because the government placated the Overseer forces, this fleet was mostly small, untrained boys with large toys, not men who knew war. He thought of them, and of the Resistance, and then of Adrienne’s face, and then of nothing at all.
It is harder to lie with the mind. He couldn’t even hold his breath in anticipation.
“Perhaps,” The Eldking answered his own question. “Or perhaps not. Your attempts at prevarication are only partially successful, child. Perhaps we should try this later. After you have put your hunger to rest.” The command echoed through all minds present: bring food.
This had been coming all along. But perhaps the offered would not be…unbearable. At best, it would be someone already fed upon, drained of personality and living only by the thinnest definition of the word. Still murder, but it would not be his hand that ended the life.
 There was a whisper as the witnesses parted. He knew they had brought her long before she was dragged into the light.
Nothing in this life would ever be easy.
Adrienne. Limp and unconscious in the arms of a Lowmind. He growled as they came near. This one had remembered nearly all of its old life—a rarity with one so ridden by instinct—and it clung restlessly to the bad parts. He prayed they were old fantasies. Surely it had put no human woman through that. Surely even this  creature had once lived with limitations. Surely the Eldking would destroy any monster actually guilty of those crimes. It met his eyes, and then it thought of Adrienne. Fed upon, lank hair dangling over a slave’s dead eyes. And then dead, a body of paper skin on bone, her blood streaming off skin.
It dropped her in an unceremonious heap at Bryan’s feet and returned to the shadows. The hunger those thoughts had awakened within him was almost overwhelming.
 “Slake the thirst that burns within you, and we shall speak of your future.” The Eldking stood and began to walk down the long steps to the floor.
He took her into his arms gently. There were no bruises on her temple, her breath came slow and regular, and the soft, bird like flutter of her mind—too indistinct for him to understand, all emotion and impression and fleeting like frost on glass—did not feel drugged. He was touching her, and it was more than he'd ever dared hope for.
-What if I refuse?- the thought spilled from his mind unbidden.
The Eldking glared down, then shrugged.
- Starve, then. But it is best for her that she die.-

Cerulian Sins chapter 9

So. Anita and Musette are about to get into it. And it's going to be as nasty drag out fight, right? In which Anita scrapes by via the skin of her teeth and/or gets her ass handed to her, thus implying that the final boss battle at the end of the book will be actual danger to her, and we will all enjoy this emensely, right?

Phhhft, what book were you reading.

At the risk of ruining the entire fight AKA one-sided massacre, the trickiest thing in writing is getting the rhythem right. Making sure that something interesting happens at the right moment, and that your lulls in the action are being used correctly to advance character interaction and the reader's knowledge base. *inhales.* The SECOND hardest thing to do is to write it in a way that makes the main character be at risk for most of the book.

That's important. Your main character ought to be a part of resolving MOST major incidents, they should be the primary when the climax is resolved, and they should be on the recieving end of a hell of a lot of danger, otherwise why the fuck are they the main character? I've found this to be rather problematic when writing girls in both senses of the word--the "fuck is this hard" part of writing and the "fuck I don't want to offend people" part--but it's not something you can avoid. The main character has to be in danger, and the main character has to be capable of resolving things only after a great struggle, because if it is easy we won't be half as interested. Thus, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that my girls aren't being rescued, or if they are being rescued they are an equal party participant in said rescue.

Laurel K. Hamilton? She kind of has the opposite problem.

MUSETTE MADE NO move to protect herself. Angelito stayed with the other men across the room. It was as if neither of them saw me as a threat. You’d think with my reputation, vampires would stop underestimating me. But dead or alive, there are always fools.
You also need to spend a lot of time making sure that your bad guys aren't morons. Or if they are supposed to be morons, that they are overpowered morons who can compensate for their own stupidity.

That is not the case here. Musette is openly watching Anita because this show of torturing Asher is all for her--and not, you know, his lover of uncountable centuries who already has a major guilt complex--and she does not do one goddamned thing when Anita rushes her, yanks the knife out of Asher and uses it to pin Musette to the floor through her stomach.

Anita's idea of diplomacy. The woman is a raging lunatic.

And then the shape shifters show up. A lot of them. One of them is a wererat, heyenas are implied to be involved, wolves are mentioned but we don't have whining about Richard so either they're not there or he sent his own people on without him.

the were-rat Bobby Lee asks Anita if she plans on killing Musette. Anita does not, so he suggest she might want to let Musette get up before the knife in her stomach does anything serious. Anita says she will, as soon as she's done.

Belle Morte takes over Musette's body. She starts lecturing Jean Claude for neglecting Anita's vampire servant education, and Jean Claude replies like so:

“Musette overstepped the bounds for a visitor to my lands. You would not tolerate such treatment of one of your own people. I have learned well the lessons you taught me, Belle Morte...“Tolerate nothing... I admit that I forgot this in the rush of fear that Musette brought with her. The thought of insulting you, even indirectly was unthinkable, but I am no longer your creature. I am a Master of the City now. I am my own creature, and Asher is mine now. I will be what you brought me up to be, Belle, I will truly be your child. I will let ma petite be as ruthless as she likes, and Musette will either learn better manners, or she will not be coming home to you ever again.”

Yes, sports fans. Anita going rabid watchdog on Musette's ass has magically caused Jean Claude to grow a spine.

 Belle Morte and Jean Claude exchange their fuck yous for a few minutes, mostly involving Asher and how torn up Jean Claude was over what happened to Asher, and how Belle Morte has no sincere fucks to give

And of course, it all centers around fucking.

You know, Frost Bitten was an ungodly train wreck of a book but at least the shoe-horned in vamp politics weren't something that could be solved by a bottle of KY jelly and a condom.

And then Belle turns on Anita, because of course everything is Anita. Everything has to revolve around Anita. Otherwise Anita is, you know, just a character in a book that is actually likable. 

 Instead of actually developing the characters, we get a long lecture about love and about how very attached Asher and Jean Claude are to each other and how Bella Morte doesn't get love at all, and I'd buy it for more than two nanoseconds if Anita had not been keeping Asher out of JC's bed when she knew goddamn well that the two of them loved each other completely and that she was screwing everything with a pulse back at her own place. Hypocratsy, thou art short, curvy and in desperate need of incarceration (involuntary commitment at the least)

Belle Morte drags Anita's mind into a memory where Belle Morte is revealed to be pretty. Given that "Being in Belle Morte's Bed is the BEST THING EVAR!1!1One!" has been the theme of this chapter I think we kind of guessed that.

Belle Morte then tries to rise the Ardeur in Anita. She resists. Finally, Belle retreats, Musette collapses, and everybody decides they've had enough and heads off into their bedrooms.

End of chapter.