Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caress of Twilight--chapter 31

IT IS DONE. IT IS DONE. THE FOURTH PART OF EXILES IS FREAKING DONE and I am so happy with both myself and it. Nothing went the way I expected. Not one character did anything I'd planned for them to do six months ago, it turned out to be so much darker than I expected, and you know what? I love it. I fucking love every single thing about it.

The next several months, guys? IT IS GOING TO BE A BLAST. If you like my books and my silly stories and my characters you are going to love what we are doing next. this is all I will say on the subject.

So now we're going to have a little shred of CW's publishing history, and then we're going on to the shitty review.

You are allowed to decide that I am batshit insane after you read this part. I just want to have this part here so that I can look back and read it again in six months. Part of the reason I'm so very hesitant to tell this story is part of it is religious in nature and therefor not exactly what I'd normally call logical or sane. So...yeah, consume with buckets of salt.

I decided to post a sample of Silver Bullet on July 4th, 2012. I decided to do this mostly because it was a concrete date that I could provide that people would recognise, that wouldn't conflict with my July 15th release date (Which I was late for). 

My life at the time was pretty shitty. You *might* not have figured this out yet, but I am very religious. And while I try to keep a lid on it it most of the time, because I know it bothers people, my writing and my faith are pretty closely intertwined. I went through a long spiritual desert, so to speak, where I believed that I couldn't be a Christian, love God and write the kind of fantasy stories I wanted to write.

God fixed this. God can be very loud and very defininte when he wants to be.

So then we went through the Rejection Cycle. Looking back, I think it lasted from June of 2010 until April of last year. I am not *quite* ready to talk about that. Suffice to say that I was convinced for many, many many many reasons that not only did I have a good book, and the skill and talent it took to make it a good book, but that God was on my side with this, that he was behind me, and without going into the details, the ups and downs, and the numbers of clue-by-fours I was hit with (both by God and the publishing industry), I will just say that it was really obvious that it wasn't going anywhere.

I was angry with God.

I was angry that my dreams were not happening. I was angry that everybody else was getting what they wanted and I wasn't. I was angry that I had to work at the job I had (and still have) and most of all I was angry over what happened in April. I had my miracle. I had the thing I'd been praying for. I had it happen. And it fell apart. And I didn't understand why God would let it all work, would keep it all going, would overcome the many, many obstacles there were in putting it all together...and then have it just die the way it did. I quit trying to get published because, more than anything else that happened in April, it became clear to me that no matter what  I did, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how hard I prayed or how strongly I believed, God was not going to ever let me break into trade publishing, and that it was time for me to accept it. There are a lot of details as to why I came to that conclusion, and I'll tell that story someday, I promise, with all the religious magical thinking stuff intact. But the big thing for me was...if God isn't behind this, if he's going to set things like the April Incident up only to have them fail once it leaves my hands and my's not going to happen.

I don't remember last may. Or most of June. But I do remember deciding that if things were going to fall apart when it was up to other people, and God was not going to take my desires and ambitions away from me (...long story. The TL:DR version is, he won't. Emphatically stated.) then that meant the only way I could do this was to do it on my own. With no expectations of success, with no promises it would go anywhere other than the failure bin of the universe. That's where I had to go and that's what I had to do.

I didn't expect to see the fireworks on July 4th. I figured my boss was going to keep us all until late, that I would miss them, that I would have barely enough time to hear things go "boom" as I cleaned off the last table.

She closed the restaurant down for the evening. On a holiday. This isn't just a sign from God, folks, this is a sign of the oncoming apocalypse. She said "The restaurant is closed" And War, Famine and Death all woke up and started dusting their crowns off. So that meant I get to go watch the fireworks.

Which was great, because I really wanted to see them. But it was not so great because I wanted to work, to have the distraction. Self publishing was not something I'd wanted to do. It was, in my mind, a defeat. A failure. A waiving of the white flag that I just couldn't hack it and never could, never would. I was jumpy, I was nervy, I was very tired of reading and re-reading AND RE READING those five stories, especially the one that was a big-ass chunk of The Book, that I had already read sixteen thousand times. I was not in a good shape when we went down to watch the fireworks. We got down there, had the perfect spot (in a city where people started camping out at five AM that morning) and began trying to get comfortable. There was the usual jostling for position, rearranging of the truck and so forth, and while they did that, I dropped my head for a second and prayed. Because I was fucked up, I'd been doing a real good job of hiding that I was fucked up, and I knew I couldn't go to anybody in my family for help in not being fucked up because I would either get coos and reassurance, or a long, blank stare, like "Why do you even give a fuck? Do something else for a hobby."

and then I plugged headphones into my phone, turned up music, and watched the fireworks.

Maybe it was the break from thinking about self publishing and what it meant, maybe it was the fireworks, maybe it was something spiritual and real. I felt better. Actually, I felt like a sobbing mess because I kept breaking down and crying during the fireworks, but I felt like I was making the right move.

And then I went home, posted the Silver Bullet cover and sample, got into bed and cried for about an hour solid, because I pretty much hated the whole entire universe and I desperately, desperately wanted to sleep.

The reason I'm writing about this is, this is the song that got to me when I was watching the fireworks, and that's the same song that was playing on my MP3 player when I finished the book a couple minutes ago. Music with my writing is pretty important. There are songs that are specifically Exiles/Ambercross songs, that for a little while I couldn't listen to because I felt that fucked up. And I've spent the last couple of days trying to defend my choices to my stepfather, who is a wonderful man but who has the empathy and flexibility of thought of a block of peachy granite. So yeah, it might be silly and superstitious or whatever, but having that specific song come up felt a little bit like...hey, you're still there. You're still on the right track. I'm still with you.

I think I just...I go through these times where things start happening. And I feel like I'm about to go through another one. And that's kind of scary, because the last time I started feeling things slide together like this was last April. I call it God things, you can call it whatever you want. I guess...I just wanted this part of the story to be HERE, out in public, with a date and a time stamp so that I could look back on it and go either "DAMN was I crazy" or else "So THAT'S what that was about."

That's part of my story. Do with it what you will. And like I said, deciding that I am batshit insane is one of your options.

...okay, on to the fun stuff.

Andais decides to use the Mirrorphone while Merry and Frost are having sex.

Can I go back to rambling about my spirituality again? Please? No?


At this point, Merry, the best thing you could do is put the magical mirror phone somewhere that isn't your bedroom. Or else start having sex on your couch. Your call.

Andais is in her torture chamber, nude and covered in blood. As in it takes Merry a minute to realize that Andais actually is nude.

THIS is how she should have been introduced the first time. If she appeared in the pretty flounces now? I'd be creeped the fuck out. Because ruffles are only scary when you know the thing inside them would gladly rip your heart out and use it as a lollypop.

She's pissed because Merry blocked her on the Mirror Phone. Merry says that she blocked the Mirror phone in general because she's had "so many callers" lately, and she's a little tired of having them catch her in-flagrante with her men.

Andais asks who. Merry explains that Taranis wants her to go to the ball, and she'd really rather not, and he won't take no for an answer, so...

Andais says she's been torturing anybody who could have summoned the nameless, and since she's wearing most of their blood and a little of their guts and nobody's spilled yet, she's confident it isn't her court that did it. That leaves Taranis.

You know, the sterile king that Merry could kill just by saying "I think he's shooting blanks" in public? And the nameless was released right after she discovered this? Yeah. That Taranis.

And then Andais demands that all three of them have sex in front of the mirror, because she's had a bad night and she'd like to see something pretty.


Andais won't be talked out of watching sex, so Merry compromises by bringing in one of the other men, because Frost and Doyle are too dominant to share.

Julain May has intersteller intrigue involving clone breeding programs and disembodied brains that are less complicated than Merry Gentry having consensual sex. They are doing something wrong.

Frost suggests Nicca, and Doyle suggests Kitto.

Merry says that Nicca's turn hasn't come up yet and Kitto has already had his, and the guys would probably be happier about Nicca being moved up than Kitto having two nights in a row and at this point Andais is all like

And Merry has to explain that they have a schedule that she decided would be run alphabetically. 

 Andais pretty much reacts like this:

but she finds it hilarious so no, they don't actually have to have sex in front of her.

Sorry, voyurs. Your fetish does not get fed tonight.

Doyle and Merry handle it well. Frost, on the other hand, reacts a little differently:

Yeah. Somebody needs anger management.

And then...things get interesting.

Frost is freaking out becasue if he doesn't get Merry preggers and someone else does, he's back to being Andais's toy. Frankly, I'd be booking a ticket to Tibet at that point, but Frost apparently has fewer options.

And that's when Doyle gently gathers Frost into his arms and starts petting his hair.

He slowly fell to his knees, his hands sliding down Doyle’s arms, but never losing contact. He pressed the top of his head against the other man, his hands holding on. “I can’t do it, Doyle. I cannot do it. I’d rather die. I’ll let myself fade first.”

I don't mind the homoeroticism (though coming from LKH it's suspect as hell). What I mind is that we're fetishizing somebody's emotional breakdown. Frost isn't turing to Merry for comfort because even he knows Merry isn't safe. He's turning to Doyle because Doyle is the one that offers comfort.

Yeah. Merry had a revelation about how much she loves Frost, and when he breaks down emotionally because he's been fucking abused for thousands of years? She lets him cry all on his little lonesome.

Merry is just as bad has her aunt, uncle and cousin.

But they do spend all night just holding Frost. Yes. LKH points out that there's nothing sexual about it. If I'd just had a mental breakdown in front of my lover and my biggest rival, I sure as fucking hell hope that it isn't fucking sexual. Doyle eventually gets up and mutters "I promise" over Frost, which I interprete as "Nobody is ever going to hurt you again," which in a better book would be a prelude to a double assassination, followed by Merry's immediate coronataion due to her rivals catching a suddenly nasty case of dead.

That does not happen.

Instead, Merry dreams about her Aunt. When she wakes up, she realizes that Frost is having a nightmare, so she wakes him up, and he's just as shattered as he was before, so now it's Merry's turn to promise that Andais will never hurt him again. Mystical-ish stuff happens to show that Merry's promises mean something, and Frost gets out of bed. Doyle salutes her with his gun--nice double entendre--and the chapter closes with this:

Something had changed in the well-orchestrated run of the universe. It had changed because I vowed to protect the men. That one statement had changed things. I had made the fates blink, but I wouldn’t know if I’d bettered myself or worsened until it was far, far too late.
I'd really like to live in a universe where making promises and oaths had mystical significance. Scarlett O'Hara would say "I'll never be hungry again" and then fried chicken would come falling out of the sky (...because it's the South, which to me is technically north. If it were down here it'd be either shrimp cocktail or tamales.)

Well, the good news is things are happening again, so we're about to get to the point where the plot gets stapled back into the book. Stay tuned.


  1. The first part was so very beautiful. I wish I could just reach out and give your hand a squeeze. Thank you for sharing that.
    I wonder if the reason why Frost cracks NOW, after 1000 years of torture is that he realized it's either life with the crazy sociopath, or he goes right back to his Queen. They're really in a no win situation here, aren't they?

  2. #hugs# I don't think you're crazy at all. And I agree, when we stop listening to the Divine it just ups the volume to 11.

    I still don't know why multiple references to scheduling are in both these books and the Anita ones as though it's sexy to have so many dudes that you have to pencil them into an appointment book. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of guys in the world I wouldn't kick out of bed for a go or two, but when they hang around forever demanding a turn even when you're tired or bored or just not interested- it just seems unpleasant and overcomplicated and the complete bane of spontaneity. Maybe it's just that she has a fetish for typing and scheduling and light filing.
    ...Which gives me the mental image of LKH watching "Secretary" and thinking the actual secretarial work was the hottest part, lol.

  3. This poxy series frustrates me. Andais rapes and torments men but no one will over throw this horrible woman. Grrrrrr