Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BLACK HOUNDS Update! With 'nother WIP pic!

I knew when I wrote this book, it was going to be dogs on the cover.

I was not looking forward to this.


I think it's looking GOOD.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cerulean Sins--Chapter 40-41

Progress on Black Hounds is very meh, my loyal blog readers. Very meh indeed. At least, that's how I feel. Cover image so far is going swimmingly but I am cringing at painting all that dark dog fur.
The adorable Alice-on-Angel-Dust look, though, is going rather well.

Oh, and I've updated the Publishing Schedule again. If you are a book-reader as well as a blog reader, check it out and mark whichever items interest you.

...I still have no goddamned title for the dragon book. I'm leaning towards Dragonbreath, but it's a little too much Pern for my taste. I probably will not have a title until I am halfway through editing the first third and ready to start throwing gaskets.

Yeah. I don't want to review this chapter, kids. NOTHING. HAPPENS. Anita drives home with Jason and spends the entire time discussing how Jason is now on her radar as a male. They discuss how Dolph would have sent Jason to a residential facility. Anita checks Jason out and finds his scratches to be sexy.

Jason identifies the killer whatever in this book as a werewolf because he smelled it.He stretches and Anita almost causes another car accident.

Next chapter.

I officially like Bobby Lee. He greets Anita at the door, and they discuss the racial undertones of white terrorism, and he is cleared for racism because he works for a hispanic guy. Because, you know, as a were-rat he has a choice about his Alpha and all. But what makes me like him is how he considers Missouri to be a northern state.

Meaning Bobby Lee is probably a Texan. HOOK 'EM HORNS, GO COWBOYS, GO ASTROS, hey Texas REPRESENT my man.

If I'm wrong, of course, he goes back on the shit list. Especially if he's from some wasteland like Oklahoma. (...no offense if you're from Oklahoma. I just spent most of my time in that state looking at Olkmulgee and Morris. AKA a small town and a stoplight in the middle of not much else. The lakes are pretty. I really liked the lakes) But yeah. If you are in Texas EVERYTHING ELSE IS NORTH. I consider Dallas to be North because it takes eight hours for me to drive there. If you are driving across country and your start point is South Texas, day one of your travel plans is "Leave Texas".

Anyhoo, they continue shooting ideas about what to do about the white supremacist terrorists watching Anita, right up until she gets called down to Jean Claude's room. Because Jean Claude and Asher owe Anita an apology.

I'm not even going to react to that. I'm going to save it for the chapter where it actually happens.

Yeah. Bye, plot. It was nice to brush shoulders with you for a minute.

Oh, yeah, and the chapter ends with Anita being smug because she gets an apology.

I really really hate this book.

Cover art! YAY

This picture is going better than I expected. MUCH better.

Ladies and gents, meet Ero and Prix. She's stranger than I expected and she didn't behave in the book AT ALL, so I guess it's only fair that she's doing good in the artwork.

OH, and my lovely blog readers! I forgot! FREE BOOK DAY TOMORROW! YES!


So if you're not into Exiles yet, that's your change to grab the first book. It ought to be awesome and fun.

(Oh. And welcome to all the new people. I am sure ya'll will be awesome too.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 38-39

I think sometimes Anita--and by extension, LKH--forgets how to girl. I'd say "human" and leave it there, but she's the one who keeps bringing sex up. And while I know I am not the most educated and nuanced human being on planet earth, it bugs me that we get long rants about HOW GIRLS HAVE TO BE LIKE MANLY MEN BECAUSE MANLY MEN DO MANLY THINGS AND THIS MAKES SENSE and then we get this shit:

 I OPENED THE Jeep and heard my cell phone ringing. I kept leaving it in the car, forgetting I had it. I slid onto the warm leather of the seats, fumbling for the phone from under the seat, even as I closed the door behind me. Yeah, it would have been cooler with the door open, but I didn’t want my legs hanging out the open door while I lay across the seat. Not because bad guys were after me, just normal girl paranoia.
I'll give her the loss of cell phone thing because back then smart phones and are addiction to them did not exist (seriously. I lost my old phone all the time. My smart phone? In a year and a half I have left it behind exactly once. At my work. And I was so happy to get it back)

But what the blue fuckity fuck is "normal girl paranoia" and what does it have to do with shutting yourself into your car before you fumble around under your seat? I'd say "ANITA'S LIFE IS DANGEROUS FOR SERIOUS" but this is implied to be some kind of "normal" behavior for girls. I've had to fish things out from under seats before. Step one is get out of the car so you can bend over without slamming hands and legs and heads into dashboards and gear shifts. Seriously. If your neighborhood is so fucking dangerous you can't kneel outside your car while you are in the parking lot of a police station, you shouldn't have parked there in the first place.

Yeah. She's worried about being grabbed and/or raped in the PARKING LOT of a POLICE STATION.

Of course, this is all so that Anita can be laying across her front seat, gear shift sticking into her side, while Jean Claude croons into the cell phone.

Anyhoo, the police have arrested Jason in connection to a murder. Probably because Anita dragged him through a crime scene without gloves or a hair net on, and he left trace evidence of his presence in a victim's blood. Because, you know, the whole reason for wearing a paper suit, booties and googles is to look cool, not to keep evidence of your presence to something approaching zero.

I haven't read ahead this time, but I'm calling it. I'll also bet money that Anita will now have to prove Jason's innocence by swearing they had sex the night before.

Anita promises JC that she'll get Jason out and complains that she wants a new life, and forgot where she put the receipt for her old one. Because having a good friend and sex partner get arrested for shit that is totally your fucking fault (BOOTIES AND GLOVES, ANITA. BOOTIES AND GLOVES. THESE ARE WHY GOD GAVE YOU POCKETS) is all about how much YOUR life sucks. And not about how much trouble you get your friends into.

End of chapter. Start next chapter.

...isn't Anita already at the police station? Right. She has to go to RPIT headquarters. And apparently it's her version of Cheers, because everybody is like "HI ANITA" and she's probably all like that dude that comes into bars and has a couple drinks and leaves without smiling.

And then she bumps into Jessica Arnet.

I "met" Jessica when I read Kiss the Dead, and I have to say, somebody REALLY pissed Laurel off IRL. Jessica likes Nathanial, as in she'd like to date him, and for now Anita considers Jessica a good match for Nathanial for when the Ardeur wears off. Because pairing off your current lovers with new people in the event you dump them, without first checking to make sure said pairing is okay, this is totally cool and completely alright.

Dolph is here. I guess Laurel didn't know how to add tension to her story without fucking her continuity over the head. Zerbowski meets Anita in a hallway while Dolph "talks" to Jason.

Anita talks her way into the interrogation room. It seems that Dolph pulled Jason in because he is LWWW (Living While WereWolf) and has defensive wounds on his body.


Seriously. Laurel. Forensic Files is NOT the place to do real crime scene research stuff, especially not when you don't listen to the important parts of the episode.

(FYI Defensive wounds are what you get when, say, you put your hands over your torso and your assailant stabs through them in an effort to get to your heart. Attackers do not get these. Only attackees)
However, Laurel did not get this memo:

“He’s a werewolf and he’s got defensive wounds,” Dolph said, “if he didn’t rape our vic, then he raped somebody.”

And yes. Anita saves Jason by saying "I did it to him during sex". Because everybody knows that rape victims manage to defend themselves so well they damage their attacker. I think what LKH is getting at are the scratch marks that victims sometimes leave behind, but these are not "Defensive wounds".

Oh, but we're not done yet.

I raised the sleeves on my shirt and showed my own healing scratches. “When I was afraid I’d hurt him more, I scratched myself.”
HOW. HOW DID WE JUST GO FROM RAPE TO SEX TO SELF INJURY WITHOUT PAUSING FOR BREATH? And did we seriously just turn S/I into a self-sacrificing gesture of love?

I am running out of words.

Anita gives Zerbowski times for when Jason was with her. Apparenlty this covers him for a second nasty crime scene involving rape and bloody murder, because Dolph immediately begins accusing Anita of being pregnant by a vampire.

Anita brings up the fact that his son is engaged to a vampire.

They are both terrible people.

Dolph then tosses the table, the chairs, and everything else he can get his hands on while the three other adults in the room pick a corner each and stay there.

And then, because trivilizing the pain of other characters into shit that makes Anita look good is just great characterization, Dolph tells Anita that his son's lover is going to turn his son into a Vampire. Yep. It's not the fact that Anita fucking sucks at this cop thing that's the issue. It's that Dolph has personal things.

He then shoots his career in the ass by saying bigoted things about Jason. Zerbowski gets Jason and Anita out of the room, and then tells them to leave and go home. Inprisonment of werewolves is brought up, bounced around like a vollyball, and then dropped.

The chapter ends with Anita moaning about how she's so much better at breaking things than fixing them. Because of course, the total mental breakdown of a good friend is completely about her.

I hate this book.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 37

We're going to jump right into this, because this clearly should have been part of last chapter.

We find out German Blond's name, what he's wanted for, and it is, I shit you not, Aryan terrorism.

A blond german is wanted interntionally for aryan terrorism.

BTW I just googled that to find out how big a problem aryan terrorism is in the world, and I just found out it's a music group. Which I am not listening to ever. Anita continues on:

He’d been linked to espionage that specialized in helping paler people either stay in power or get power over people that were less pale.
And I have the feeling that Laurel K. Hamilton is about to try for depth. Which I would buy if this were any other author, and if that had not been smashed over our heads like a coffee tray. And then things just go to suck. I am not kidding. The prose gets bad, the descriptions evaporate, and the dialogue descends down to the level of My Little Pony.

I nodded, then picked up the one with the big dark-haired man in it. He was about to get into a car. There was a generic older building behind him, but I wasn’t a student of architecture, it told me nothing. The man was looking down as if watching his step off a curb, so I didn’t have a full front view even. “Maybe if I could see a front shot. Or did they send us all they had?”
 “They sent me all they had, or that’s what they said.”

 So Anita picks out two photos of people who bug her. This is good. No, I'm not kidding. That's something I understand. She doesn't know for sure that she knows these two guys, but she's not comfortable letting the thing drop. But it's all dryer than stale bread. And then she decides that the camera angle comes from the hip, which means the photo was taken by a super uber spy cam. Because, like, covert survelliance can't take shots from a normal angle. She then says that they ought to go fishing with the bad guys with these pictures.

You know those comprehension tests they give you sometimes? Where you have to take a bunch of random lines and see how they make the letter A? And how if you can't, that indicates major brain damage? This plot makes me feel like I've got that kind of damage. There's supposed to be a plot here, I can see all the pieces, but they don't actually make anything show up.

And then we take a break from the story so Anita can tell us all about the children's books she and Nathanial and Micah are reading to each other every night. Peter Pan and Charlotte's Web. Not even remotely kidding.

Detective O'Brien drags Anita's attention back to the actual book, and Anita realizes that the aryan supremicists could be targeting the wolf pack. Because it's a mess and it's all Richard's fault for not being a blood thirsty dictator and attempting this whole crazy "Democratsy" thing. But revealing this to the cops would, apparently, be bad, so Anita lies to the detective and says it could be related to Vampire politics, even though she just dismissed that during an internal monologue.

Yes. Good guys lying to good guys. What a great book this is.

That was sarcasm.

And then we drop into "all the mens hate us" when Detective O'Brien offers the "manpower" to protect Anita for a few hours, and Anita says "shouldn't that be 'person' power?"

Anita refuses protection and O'Brien asks why. Anita says not your buisness, O'Brien says "fine, no more investigation for you" and Anita gets pouty. But I'm starting to think that O'Brien is actuall a "good" guy because Anita isn't turning it into a pissing contest. For once.

Also? I really like her.

She smiled, but it was more a baring of teeth, a friendly snarl. “And you’re hiding something. If it comes back and bites this investigation on the ass, I’ll have your badge for it.”

The chapter ends with O'Brien throwing Anita out of her office.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Word List

Let's add the word "Was" to the list of words CW should never use ever again.

Seriously. One of my favorite tools is yWriter (Over here) because it organizes things really well and it has a word-use list that shows you every word used in the manuscript, and how frequently you use them.

My biggest problem is the "was doing" pairing. Was thinking, was writing, was hurting, was aching, was growing, ect. ect. 99.99999% of the time this should be replaced with "did": Wrote, hurt, ache, grew/grow ect. I finally got fed up trying to find every example of this and just put "was" into "find" so I could look for every example of lazy-ass filter-word writing.



Was's? Damn it, what's the plural for was?

I've already knocked out my "feels" "probablys" "Somethings" and "seems". This one is especially hard because you need the word was. Probably I cut down from twenty to just five because "probably" usually indicates an unwillingness to commit a character to a word, action or assumption, and most of the time you can kill that with no sweat. But it's hard to decide if your "was" is a good "Was" or a bad "was". Passive voice was? Bad. Descriptive was? Um. Let me get back to you on that.

Still: Make a list of words you use as crutches, and do a "Find" when you've got the story itself in working order. Fix every example that needs to be fixed.

It will take forever, but it will help you out bunches.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cerulean Sins--chapter 36

I have decided that for some reason, my system hates April.

Last year, of course, will live in infamy. The year before that, was when I switched jobs and that was not a good time either. I've done pretty well all month, but it's been a fragile kind of well. Yesterday, getting the proof was kind of fun, but today...

Yeah. I almost relapsed today. I have no idea why, there were no triggering episodes. Just this looming aura of doom and a compulsion to make the bad feeling go away. This is not a happy place. I say this here, because there aren't many other places I can say it. It was not a good day to say the least. I barely managed to get any editing done, and I only managed that by employing my List of Words and Word's "find" function. If one of The Words are there, it usually indicates a problem. Incidentally, I never want to see "Feels" or "seemed" ever, ever again.

But it's like everybody I know has had a shitty April. We've had long-term employees quit without warning or notice, we've had utter fucking disasters at work, my brother is sick enough to need anitbiotics and that is sick, boys and girls, the boy just doesn't stop for anything. I'd say I'm waiting for the next shoe to drop, but I really don't want things getting any worse.

We will make it. I promise. I just can't promise what kind of shape the book will be in.

But sales have been good so far. There is that.

Okay. So. What's Anita doing?

Yeah, the police have her sitting in the waiting room drinking coffee while they talk to the bad guys. Also? They hauled in three of her buddies (Bobby Lee, Claudia and Unnamed Driver) for questioning.

And then the book loses it's fucking mind. 

See, German Blond and American Potty-Mouth were found in a vehicle that did not belong to them, with several illegal weapons and no permit to use them, and German Blond does not technically exist. Second a cop starts talking, they lawyer up, and Anita says they can only hold the guys for seventy two hours.


Either working for St. Louis PD sucks, or LKH forgot how Grand Theft Auto works.

And then a detective shows up, a female named O'Brien. I assumed she was one of the "good" cops--read as, someone who agrees with Anita--because she's a graying brunette described as "natural punk", but she reads Anita the riot act very thoroughly, and much as I like her I've got a bad feeling about where this is going. Anita gets huffy when the cop presses for more info about the bad guys, because the only reason Anita pulled that show in the parking lot was she had a bad feeling about being followed, and the cop wants more information. Than a male cop described as a kid comes in and blows the entire fucking interrogation by revealing that German Blond is an international terrorist and super spy wanted by interpol. Anita assures O'Brien that she had no idea who was following her or why, and then assures the detective that she will take no credit at all for the arrest, because of course climbing the ladder is all a female cop is going to care about. At this point O'Brien softens up and shoves a file over at Anita.

Yeah. O'Brien and that kid totally planned that.

The chapter ends with Anita taking the file from the cop.

...this chapter had no reason to exist.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cerulean Sins--Chapter 35

 So. Last chapter ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL HAPPENED. How does this chapter start?

THEY’D ONLY BEEN following me for one day, as far as I knew, so why such determination to find out why? One: It’s usually better to know than not to know when people are following you, and two: I was in a truly foul mood.

With Laurel K. Hamilton's subconscious telling her that her writing sucks.Why do I say this? If a character is justifying their moves to themselves ONSCREEN? This is your brain's way of shooting off road flares and screaming HEY STUPID THE ROAD UP HERE IS OUT. Anita does not have to justify squishing unknown stalkers to me. If she feels she does, that means she knows there's something wrong with her next move.

Also: she's committing violence because she's in a bad mood. What?

And then she goes off on how she doesn't know what to do about Asher. Uh, Anita? Stalkers? Car crash? Girl bonding? Can we forget about your love life for a few paragraphs and focus on the fake car crash you're about to do?

And speaking of that, somehow this now involves road blocks and professional drivers, which somehow qualifies Claudia and disqualifies Anita without any more information than "Anita can't drive" being provided. Whatever. Car crash happens, Anita has guilt trip, Bad guys start car and drive off BECAUSE:

They must have smelled a  .  .  . rat.
Dear Laurel K. Hamilton:

Also: Sookie Stackhouse is a flaming idiot, but at least Charlene Harris explains why her vampires like puns.

So basically they just wrecked a couple cars for absolutely nothing and could have gone charging out with the guns anyway. Which is exactly what they do, and it is less badly described and more "not described at all".

Laurel K. Hamilton. Cannot figure out how to summerize her main character walking from one side of the room to the other. Summerizes the first action scene to not involve sex since this book began.

I hate this book.

Anita tries to bad-ass the strangers into submission, and decides that the fact that they won't put their hands up means that backup is on its way. Okay, fair enough. As long as you don't summerize that fight scene we'll be okay. Except the fight scene doesn't happen, the guys finally put their hands up, and we get a play by play explination of how to roll down a manual window.

Because we absolutely needed to know this.

So Anita lets them know that she spotted her, and they let her know that they know that somebody in her car turned furry (how? I mean, they were swerving all over the road, but that was less because of fur and more because of Anita's libido)

Also: Laurel K. Hamilton believes that only Americans can swear. I. Shit. You. Not:

The blond said, “yes,” the other one said, “Crystal fucking clear.” Oh, yeah, he was American, only we have that poetic turn of phrase.

And then finally, finally, FINALLY, AFTER TWO FUCKING BOOKS WORTH OF NONSENSE, we get a taste of the old Anita. Somebody (probably these dude's backup) calls the cops who come, sirens blazing. Everybody curses, the foul mouthed American says "If you put your guns away we'll all pretend this never happened" and Anita rediscovers what a backbone is:

I smiled back, and his smile wilted because I looked too damned pleased. I wasn’t smooth at digging my badge out of my pocket yet, not one-handed anyway, but I managed. I flashed the metallic star in its little case. “Federal marshal, asshole. Keep your hands where we can see them until the nice policemen arrive.”
You're probably misusing that thing, Anita, but Haymitch still approves.

The cops arrive and are being uber careful. Given that LKH has Anita at almost-more-famous-than-Elvis status and EVERY cop in St. Louis has to know who she is, if for no other reason than to hide the evidence collecting kits, I have no idea why it takes a lot of screaming from Anita to get the cops to stop trying to take guns away from everybody, or why the first responders to the Circus do not by default include Zerbowski, but it happens. Anita gloats over the guys in the car, who look very very Humble Tigger at the moment, and the chapter ends with Anita being smug.

Well. Something kind of happened this chapter, if you squint at it side--


Was that the doorbell? Is that the mail?

 Oh my goodness. It is the mail. And a package. Just for me.  I wonder what this could be?

Yep. See you tomorrow, kids.

Cerulean Sins--Chapter 34

If the universe had any irony, this would be a porn chapter. It isn't. Instead, Anita is watching the people watching her through binoculars. As in she has the binoculars. Somehow she got a good enough look at them during the car sex, the physical injury and the psychic melodrama to recognize the two dudes in a different car.Which is weird because even the text kind of acknowledges she couldn't see jack shit before.

They’d switched so the blond was driving. With the binocs I could see that he looked youngish, under forty, over twenty-five. He was clean shaven, wearing a black mock turtleneck and silver frame glasses. His eyes were pale, gray, or grayish blue.

Wow. and you are able to tell that these are the same guys as earlier. Because its not like there could be more than two of these creeps, is it?

Also: HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU SEE HIS EYE COLOR FROM ACROSS THE FUCKING PARKING LOT? Where did those Binoculars come from? "Laser precision Imaging R Us?"

Anita then monologues about how the potential baddies have done everything right, which obviously they haven't, because Anita knows its them. And then we found out that there is something called Kasey Krime Stoppers 101. Because, to quote Linkara, Poor Literacy is KEwl. Especially when it crosses into racist territory (I once went to a diner that was something like Karls Kountry Korner. I later found out it was a meeting place for the local branch of the KKK. North Texas has that. South Texas doesn't, far as I know.)

Oh, and Bobby Lee is explaining all this to Anita, because the uber tough super woman obviously wouldn't know basic tailing techniques.

Anita figures these aren't vampire servants because they're being smart about tailing her. Uh...she saw them. No, they're not being smart. They're sitting in a parking lot not doing anything, and Anita isn't the brightest tool in the box anymore. Oh, five books ago she would have taken these dudes and used their intestines for wrapping paper, but right now, when Bobby Lee asks her what she wants to do about these two and Anita figures he's talking about Asher and Jean Claude.

Anyhoo, Anita lets Bobby Lee and Claudia, who has just walked up, that she's probably "losing her nerve for this shit." What's that? SANITY FROM ANITA? This gets buried under a description of how burly-but-all-girl Claudia got shot up during the Chimera incident. And please note: Bobby Lee was the upgrade from Claudia. Because you know, guy bodyguards are better than girl body guards. /sarcasm.


This is where the Master of the City sleeps. There should be more armed things here than at Fort Knox. OF COURSE THEY HAVE A FUCKING LOOKOUT. Why are we regressing to kindergarten level?

Claudia is going to be bait in their plan, because you know, she can put on girl clothes and nobody will suspect a thing. This segues into a discussion of sexism that is about as realistic as a pony pinata. Mostly because it's all this shit:

Since I wasn’t a man, I took Bobby Lee’s word that the bad guys would panic less if one of the people involved in our mock accident was a woman. I had to admit that even I was less physically afraid of another woman, but it seemed wrong somehow. Claudia threw a man’s pale blue shirt over her jeans and buttoned it up, even the sleeves. She left enough buttons undone in front to flash some cleavage, then she took the tie out of her hair. She shook her hair out, and it fell around her face, over her shoulders, in a slick, brunette flood. The hair softened the strong lines of her face, and I suddenly had a glimpse of what she might look like if she put any effort into being a traditional girl. Spectacular was the word that came to mind.

WOW. Hey, did she tie the shirt up under her breasts, too? For that traditional "WHOOPS I BORROWED MY BOYFRIENDS CLOTHES" look? Oh, and hey, there's such a thing as a "traditional girl". I did not know this. How much you want to bet it's like that "traditional publishing" bullshit Publish America coined as part of their sales pitch? (Would be writers: Look it up.)

And of course, Bobby Lee starts drooling because OMG HE NEVER KNEW CLAUDIA WAS PRETTY.

The irony here is nobody's acknowledging the other half of this equation. They're gonna have a fake accident and they're using Claudia to soften the stranger danger up because everybody underestimates girls. You know what else they could do? Put somebody clean cut into a suit, give him fancy shoes and an expensive phone, and have him slam something shiny into something that isn't. People underestimate rich dudes as much as they do pretty girls. Because the guy version of "you look so hot" is "you look so rich". Maybe they don't come rushing over with tire jacks and socket wrenches quite as fast, but somebody shouting curse words down a cell phone and calling the other guy every one of the Seven Dirty words is going to fly just as far under the radar as a pretty cheerleader will.

Social engeneering: It's not just sexism anymore.

Oh yeah, the chapter's over. That's all we've accomplished. Sexism.

I hate this book.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Black Hounds--SAMPLE!

Alright, guys, this is embarrassingly rough, but it's well past time I posted something from the new book for y'all to peruse. You're seeing me without what passes for my makeup on. Ah, well, hope it's enjoyable anyway. 

Also: This is how Gray Fox ended when I wrote it in October, this is how this book started when I wrote it in February. It's got nothing to do with the Boston Marathon Bombing. Sorry if it creeps anybody out. 

Broken glass sparkled like ten thousand diamonds, flashing red and blue as more police cars pulled up the church drive and parked beside the damage. There now were more emergency vehicles in the parking lot than Casey Winter had seen in her entire life. It was almost like magic. Explosions, danger, violence…yes. It was definitely like magic. Dazed, she stared at a red splattering that, for once, wasn’t hers. The color was drawn into black by the lighting. It must be close to ten p.m. now. Maybe even midnight. More red congealed over to the left. That was where Pastor Rick had been before the ambulances had taken him away. Shrapnel to the lower leg.
They were lucky nobody had died.
           The exploded trash can lay like some freshly unearthed skeleton. A dinosaur. A dragon bone. Pieces of it covered the ground, and more pieces of it were in the walls. One of them had almost pierced the indoor mural like a spear. The church’s tall front windows had been shattered. Lights played over the settees and in-house bookstore. Several of Pastor Rick’s tapes were still on fire.
It’s because of me. They blew up my church all because of me.
A paramedic tried to turn her head. A spot on her scalp itched. Probably a cut, judging by the red dribbled over her blouse. Part of her wanted to laugh. Raziel had only just gotten the bloodstains out from the last disaster, and here was a fresh set. The paramedic made a disapproving sound and gave her a gauze patch to hold. They were helping the wrong person, Casey thought. She’d caused this. The church windows were the wound, gaping and broken and strewn across the pavement.
That’s not true. Someone else chose to do this, not you. Rational internal dialogue. Who listened to that anymore?
They still aimed at me. If I’d been elsewhere—If I’d never come here at all--
Someone was speaking to her, voice muffled by the tinnitus echoing through her head like a bell. She turned her head further away from the paramedic.
“Are you alright?” Raziel mouthed.
She nodded, her lips quirking. For the first time since she’d met the Elestrin lady, Raziel was wearing glamour. Raziel was faerie, an Elestrin member of the Great Hunt marooned on Earth due to her own negligence. Her natural coloring was gray. Gray skin, gray hair and eyes the color of a hurricane on a tear. But there were police and paramedics everywhere. Casey figured the FBI would show up within the hour; bombings always got their attention. And so the Gray Fox herself finally appeared human. Her chosen disguise was Indian, tall, statuesque and still recognizably herself. Detective Baker had arrived with the rest of CCPD, looking about as tired as Casey felt, and he’d recognized her right away.
The name on Raziel’s driver’s license was “Rachel Hunt”. She’d been asked to show it four times in as many minutes. Baker was on the other side of the parking lot.
She hadn’t changed her eye color, though, and her lips a tight line outlined in bronze lip-gloss. Her brow had one crease between the eyes, like a chip in a statue of marble. If the concern had been more dramatic Casey would have known it was an act for the paramedics, but her expression was almost masklike. The glamour was the act. That little chip was real.
“Graphile?” Casey mouthed.
The frown returned. Raziel shrugged. Either she wasn’t sure, or she didn’t want that name dropped in front of sixty different kinds of cop.
Graphile was a power-made Wizard. His own power destroyed by his own misdeeds, according to Raziel, he’d been trying to awaken magic in Corpus Christi. Casey, Raziel and an elf named Marco Creed had just stopped him. Nobody had told Casey exactly what the freed magic would do, but the idea had shaken both of Casey’s Faerie acquaintances. Marco had a kind of dog-eared safety to him; his worry could be dismissed as concern for humans. Anything that scared Raziel, however, had to be filed under “Very Bad” and cross-referenced with “Run Away”.
But Graphile had sworn he wouldn’t do anything else in Raziel’s territory. Would he hold to his promise? Or would he risk destroying what little power he had left through oath breaking?
Casey wasn’t sure. Graphile and her ex-husband Jack had apparently clashed when the Wizard was still Atlanta’s problem. Yes, he and Raziel had once been “together”, but it was awfully convenient that the former Mrs. Reverend Winter was living down here too. Not that there wasn’t a lot of bad blood between Casey and Jack. She figured he’d throw a party when he knew she was gone. Graphile just hadn’t gotten that “enemy of my enemy is my friend” memo.
Had he set up the bomb as a parting gift? A shot at Raziel and Jack, two birds with one boom?
A police officer asked Raziel for her ID. I need to get away from these people, Casey thought, looking at the police. And then something squirmed in her hand, a softness that should be comforting and wasn’t. She swallowed. And then I need to get away from Raziel.
“Where’s Lisa?” Barbara Hanson’s strangled whisper floated past ambulance doors. Casey slipped away from Raziel, cupping that tiny piece of warm life against her breastbone. A paramedic helped her into the ambulance. Counters and drawers were stark, white and utilitarian; the gurney looked like some quasi-skeletal cyborg holding its patient hostage. Barbara Hanson’s burnished bronze skin looked green, and her eyelids fluttered.  “Lisa?” She asked again.
“She’s here,” Casey said, though she didn’t loosen her grip on the tiny animal. She glanced back once; Raziel’s view was blocked by the ambulance doors. That was good. She couldn’t feel confident about Raziel’s reaction when she saw Barb’s pet.
After all, the warrior woman had been looking for this thing for six months.
Barb’s comfort was, for the moment, more important than Raziel’s politics. Casey lowered her hands to Barbara’s chest and opened them.
A tiny pink nose and whiskers appeared. They sniffed around cautiously, and then a tiny brown and white sugar glider sped for the curve of Barbara’s neck. Brown and white, black at the corner of gleaming eyes, and of course, heart meltingly cute,  nothing could be more harmless—or, technically, illegal, given Nueces County’s exotic pet ban. A little color returned to Barbara’s face. She tilted her chin down and closed her eyes.
“Her heart’s not doing any better. Sorry, ma’am. We can’t take the animal to the hospital.” A paramedic carefully scooped the creature up and gave it to Casey. “She needs to go right away.”
“Lisa” stiffened. Casey swallowed. The “sugar glider” was Faerie, alright. Faerie and dangerous. She was one of Corpus Christi’s two phookas, and she’d been missing since before Casey had been let in on this whole “Faeries in Exile” thing. Her real name was Prix. She could probably have eaten Casey, and Barb, and most of the police officers trying to keep the crime scene in some pretense of order.
And she had apparently been living as the cute little critter in Barbara Hanson’s purse.
She didn’t have to reveal herself, Casey thought. Put herself at risk for the rest of us. She could have just let the bomb explode.
Prix had put herself between Casey, Barbara, Rick, and the bomb. Her protections weren’t perfect. Shrapnel had gotten to Pastor Rick. Barbara had a heart condition Casey hadn’t known about, and the blast had aggravated it. But they were alive, all of them, because Prix had decided their lives were more valuable than her secrecy.
Barb grabbed Casey’s wrist and held on tight. “Take care of her.” She hissed, before the paramedic quickly eased Casey out the door.
“I’ll try!” she shouted. The doors closed. The engine revved for speed.
Does she know? Casey thought, as the ambulance pulled away. Does she even know that “Lisa” is a sentient creature?
She shuddered.
The only other Phooka she’d met was Ero, Marco Creed’s employee. He spent half his time as Anderson-Creed’s guard dog, and the other half disguised as a child. Somehow he had talked two humans into acting as his legal guardians. Before she met him, Casey thought it was a kind-hearted, warm union between parents in need of a kid and a lost soul in need of a haven. Having met Ero, she was amazed that anyone was willing to house the little psychopath.
Prix stirred in Casey’s hands. The small, dark eyes glittered with intelligence and a twitchy kind of fear.
Prix had been missing for six months, Marco had told her. She’d gone missing because she didn’t have the magical power to pose as a human, and Nueces County’s exotic animal ban made it impossible for her to pretend to be a tiger. And so she’d posed as Lisa, a harmless sugar glider that was still illegal as hell…and so was still special.
And so obviously, heartbreakingly loved.
Raziel had blackmailed Casey into finding Prix. If Casey didn’t agree, the Elestrin leader would tell the McHally family that Casey had killed their daughter. Lyrene McHally had been trying to murder both Casey and Marco at the time, but that wouldn’t matter. Casey was mortal, Lyrene had been a Merrow, and her family wanted blood for blood.
Security lay in the palms of her hands. Raziel was right outside the ambulance. All Casey had to do was hand her over.
Prix would be killed. At minimum, she wouldn’t be allowed back into Barb Hanson’s handbag.
“Shouldn’t you be going to the hospital too?” Raziel asked, dryly.
I must look like shit, Casey thought. Well, in the last thirty-six hours or so she’d been attacked by a Boggart, exposed to dark magic, stabbed by a Faerie wizard, haunted by a homicidal fox, nearly electrocuted and blown up by a bomb. She’d earned the right to look a little frumpy.
 “I told them no,” Casey said. She’d had enough of hospitals for one lifetime.
Prix whimpered again.
“Goddamn Graphile.” Raziel said. There was a pause, and then she said, “And damn Prix too.”
“What?” This shocked Casey out of her reverie.
“Puck.” Raziel sighed. “The prototype for Puck was a Phooka. Robin Goodfellow. Powerful, scary. Benevolent in theory but in practice…” she shivered, though her expression didn’t change by one hair. “Graphile allied himself with a Phooka. One of my own. Ero is accounted for and loyal. So that leaves…” Raziel trailed off.
Prix. The tiny warm thing curled in her hair had gone very still. “That’s why you let me off finding her.”
If her power has increased enough to be attractive to a wizard, she’s too dangerous for you to handle. And I do owe you.” A soft, simple smile touched Raziel’s features. “I would not have my savior forced to die in a task I knew she could not accomplish.”
Casey ignored the compliment. “But how do you know it’s Prix?” Casey asked. “How do you know it’s not Ero?”
“He has been out of town since Sunday morning, visiting with his ‘parents’. I had just called them when I saw the explosion, you see. They said he has been visiting with their families and that all has been well.”
  The Boggart is probably giving him indigestion, Casey thought.
“You will go home when the police are done questioning you,” Raziel said, softly. “You will not participate in this any more than you have to. This is no longer your business.”
“Friday night you didn’t care whether or not I lived or died.” Casey said tightly.
“Friday night you had not proven yourself to me. Last night, you did. A good warrior. A brave fighter.” For a moment Raziel’s words filled Casey with a kind of sick pride. Then the gray lady added, “And a fair target. Graphile will go through anything to harm you. This is not something I will put up with.”
“And my being home is safer than my being involved,” Casey said, sarcastically.
“No one has attacked you there that you have not brought in yourself. It’s possible no one knows where you live. Marco will ward it. Leslie Fielding and Abbey McShay will be there in the morning, and Doug Greene will follow as soon as he is released from Christus Spohn. I want all my humans in one place where I can make sure they are safe.
“Or where we can all be shot at once.” Casey said.
“This is not up for discussion. Leslie will be there in the morning. If I cannot insist you go to the hospital, I can insist you stay out of Exiles business.”
Tiny claws tightened on Casey’s neck when she would have spoken out. Just give her Prix. Just give it to her and this is over, and you can tell Barb…
Yes. Tell the woman who had pulled her out of soul-killing depression that she’d gotten her pet killed. And that was the bigger problem. She could not see Barbara Hanson shielding a Phooka like Ero from danger. She’d been keeping Prix in her handbag, for God’s sake.
But Prix is a Phooka. Cute as she looks, that’s no guarantee that she’s not eating people anyway.
So we’ll compromise. God, I wish I wasn’t so tired.
The problem with knowing what the right move is, is living with yourself after you make it. Casey reached up, curled a hand around the tiny, warm body, and said “Barbara Hanson has a pet. A very illegal pet that she’s had for six months. You cannot kill her while Barb is in the hospital. Okay?”
“I don’t see why—”
She opened her hands, and Raziel sucked in a short, quick breath.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cerulean Sins--Chapter 33

So Anita is now all shaky and upset because somebody has called her on her shit.

A note to writers: Characters need to be called on their shit on a regular basis. It's good for character building, and it will frequently justify what a reader feels about said character and then put the reader squarely back on said character's side. We've gotten the fact that the main character is, in some respects, an obnoxious shit. The way to have the main character react, however, is to have them begin taking steps, either consious or unconsious, to rectify the fact that they are an obnoxious shit. See: Mockingjay and the behavioral switch when Peeta told Katniss she was basically a fuck up by the numbers, and he didn't see what other people saw in her anymore. Prior to that moment, she was dodging any responsibility that did not involve (Spoiler Redacted)'s Propaganda. After Peeta tells her off? She starts doing responsible things and manages to get her shit back together in time for the grand finale.

Having your main character react with more of the same? It pisses the readers off. No, author, the character is not right. They need to take the blow and then fix the things that are broken.

Nathanial finds her like this and tells her that the dudes who were following them have switched cars, and are now camping out in the Circus of the Damned's parking lot.

Dudes, I've stood up for you up until now, but if you're going to do that? Just ring the fucking doorbell. You clearly do not want Anita to know she's under survaliance, so either back off and stick a resiliant dude on a park bench or something, or just go overt and see what that does.

Anita decides to go out with her gun, even though she's psychicly blind thanks to the number of things that have invaded her head tonight. (And, it is implied, because Asher told her to drop dead). Because the gun is good? No, that can't be it, because the rest of that quote is "The penis is evil" and LKH has shown full acceptance of the penis.

Nathanial wants to go too. Anita says no.

“No, Nathaniel. I taught you about guns so you wouldn’t hurt yourself, and so in an emergency you could defend yourself. This isn’t an emergency. I want you to stay inside out of the line of fire.”
Yes. Because it's not like Nathanial can shape shift into a man-eating cat or anything. Nope. The designated victim is always helpless. Even though he's a man eating cat that knows how to shoot a gun. He's utterly helpless.

Anita says "Please just do what I say," which is like the siren call of every abusive monster ever, and Nathanial backs down.

And then Anita goes out to battle with the burly were-rat Bobby Lee instead. Chapter ends with nonsense about love making you stupid and selfish. 

Right. Hey, Anita, you know how you were blabbing about God and protections and him actually being there? So about that "love makes you selfish" thing:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Yeah. I don't think love is the issue here.


Laurel K. Hamilton gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to write this stuff. Hundreds. Of Thousands. Of Dollars.