Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anita Blake it is! Incubus Dreams--chapter 1-4

Yeah, so I read (or in the case of Eternal Prey, re-read) the first chunks of the book, and decided to go with this.

I'm gonna double up on chapters as often as possible, though, because holy shit I almost forgot how much LKH likes to drag.

Oh, and as for how my weekend went, I somehow forgot that it's the Fourth next week. We got slammed. Good slammed, but also "too tired to pick out a new book" kind of slammed.

Right. So let's just dive in, shall we?

We open with a Halloween Wedding. Not Anita's. It's Larry Kirkland and Tammy Reynalds, animator and Christian Witch/Detective, respectively. Anita, naturally, is one of the groomsmen. Grooms people. Because Heaven forbid Anita Darling have to spend 300 bucks on an ugly orange dress for her friend's wedding. Oh, and GOD FORBID she have to put on makeup. Oh, no. She's just as unruly as all the men are, the wedding planner hates her for being so manly manly manish, and have we properly established that all Anita needs is a penis of her very, very own?

Frankly I kind of like the idea of having female groomsmen, especially if said fem is the groom's very best buddy, but there's "Hey, I'm here to represent and support my former student and fellow co-worker in a spirit of mutual respect and dignity, and also, I happen to look great in a tux" and then there's this. ANITA IS MORE MAN THAN GIRL. DO WE UNDERSTAND THIS YET Y/Y?

Oh, and this chapter also exists to shit all over Tamnmy during her own wedding.

They’d done something with her hair so that it was smooth and completely back from her face, so that you could see just how striking she was. I’d never really noticed that Detective Tammy was beautiful.
Every time Tammy does something at her own wedding it's a subtle negging, just like in that bolded part there. First we have the "OH GOD ORANGE IS SO UGLY" criticism of the Halloween wedding color scheme. Then we have the description of Tammy in her wedding dress. In the next chapter we also get to criticize her for having bad taste in ornaments and being clumsy. This is this character's freaking wedding.


The double standard is alive and well. The woman is supposed to be beautiful on her wedding day, the groom is just supposed to stand there and not embarrass himself, or her.
*sighs*. On the one hand, I agree that the beauty standards for women are terribly skewed, mostly unhealthy and almost entirely unnecessary. On the other hand, girls get princess dresses, flowers, kickass shoes and fire-engine red lipstick, whereas the traditional fancy guy wear begins and ends with "black suit." Also? Anita? Darling? Honey-Bunny Bear? Sometimes women like to conform to the traditional gender role. Yes. It's constricting as fuck when you don't want to be there, but it can be rather fun if you're playing that game because you want to. Being a "liberated woman" does not give you the right to decide that I can't play that role, and it sure as fuck doesn't give you the right to shit all over another woman's wedding just because the woman employed traditional beauty standards and decided to wear lots of makeup. She's not conforming to traditional gender roles because, sweetheart, you're standing on the groom's side of the aisle and you're wearing a tux. Your friend wants to play dress up and you don't. It's her wedding. She went out of her way to accommodate your lifestyle. Shut up and deal.
Oh, and Tammy is four months pregnant, as previously established, and this is theoretically a shotgun wedding, judging by the look on Daddy's face.

...yeah. You can't arrange a traditional church wedding on this scale in four months, unless you are Satan and you own a minister's soul. And that's just the "booking the church" part. So either Tammy and Larry can work miracles, or the pregnancy is a side effect of the wedding prep, and not a cause.

And of course, we take time to dump on Richard, who "Dumped me because I got along better with the monsters."





The first time he dumped you, it was because you promised you would love him forever and never leave if he would just shift in front of you and accept his dark side, and the second he shifted in front of you and accepted his dark side you ran the fuck away and gave Jean Claude a blow job. The second time it was because you fed your mystical sex thing on him when he told you multiple times that you could not. Shut up, get therapy, be really thankful the law doesn't define "forced envelopment" as a crime (yet), and leave Richard alone.

Eventually we get to the point of this chapter, which was apparently to put Micah, Nathanial and Anita all into tuxes together at a party. We get a drool-y description of how perfect Micah is perfect perfect, even though a. Anita knows nothing about his human side and b. he raped her the first night they met. least this is better than the "slit up to my waist on both sides" dress Anita wore to some date with Jean Claude. I have no problem with what a character chooses to wear riiiiiiiight up until the character starts whingeing about, say, how hard it is to put a gun back into your waist holster when you're wearing it under your dress and you decided to go commando. If you want to be provocatively dressed, do so. If you want to make it easy to use your weaponry, we've already established you look great in a Tux.

And then we have Detective Jessica Arnet drooling over Nathanial:

Jessica Arnet was a few inches taller than Nathaniel’s 5' 6", so she had to look down to meet that lavender gaze. No exaggeration on the color. His eyes weren’t blue, but truly a pale purple, lavender, spring lilacs. He wore a banded-collar shirt that was almost the same color as his eyes, so the lavender was even more vibrant; drowning beautiful, those eyes.

You know, it took me five years to understand that Elizabeth Taylor's eyes were violet and not blue. And I still don't see that marked a difference between most green eyes, most blue eyes and most violet eyes.

Anyhoo, Jessica decides to give Nathaniel a hug instead of a handshake, and because Nathanial is so precious passive, he doesn't let go, or ask Jessica to let him go because that might hurt her feelings. Aw, isn't it precious. Someone so eager to please that he will allow himself to be pawed via unwanted sexual advances just so he won't hurt someone else's feelings. And of course the only way to fix this is for Anita to stake her claim on Nate by pawing him in front of Jessica, while simultaneously thinking about what she's going to do when she has to dump Nate, because he aims so hard to please and he so obviously loves Anita.

LKH can go fuck herself for writing that. Also, for writing that as a stripper, Nate should be used to getting pawed by random people.

End of chapter. In the next chapter, we find out that the wedding reception is skeleton themed, and that Tammy Reynalds is too tall for her own decorations.

Jessica Arnet sits next to Anita and they trade barbs for a while. Basically it's "Is Nathanial yours?" "Technically yes" repeated for three pages.

Then Dolph calls Anita and asks her to come to a crime scene. Apparently they are on speaking terms because Anita talked his son until putting off conversion into undeath for a while. Because, you know, him having an honest-to-god psychotic meltdown in the precinct office and physically assaulting Anita is the kind of thing you can blow off with a little paperwork. Anita heads off to the crime scene.

Next chapter: Anita feels guilty for heading off to the crime scene, because looking at a murder victim is so much better than dealing with social stuff and that makes Anita a terrible person.

The victim is an exotic dancer of some kind who stepped out for "air", or probably a cigarette. I will give LKH kudos for one thing: There is no veneer of "Oh, she asked for it" like there was with Nate. Very small kudos, because she did do that bullshit with Nate, but good behavior ought to be rewarded. The victim has been drained by multiple vamps, shoved behind a dumpster, and then displayed so that somebody would find her.

And of course, we take a break from the crime scene so that Anita and Dolph can have a pissing contest RE: Jean Claude. Can he be sure that Anita won't cover up a crime JC's people committed? None of JC's people would do this, he'd kill them (Note: Anita does not say no.) Oh, so JC is a murderer now? Oh, Lay off, Dolph. Work out your issues on your own time (Again: Not a no)

This accomplishes nothing, because even the little bits of backstory we get from the dialogue were already explained in the preceeding paragraphs.

 In the next chapter, we explore the body. Anita figures out there were a minimum of seven vamps draining the body, and that leaving the body here was a statement. Dolph makes the jump to serial killer, probably because the ritualistic posing of the body suggests some kind of fantasy at work, and that type doesn't usually stop with the first one. Anita assumes this means Dolph has info he's not giving her, because actual good policework is asking too fucking much.

The chapter ends with Anita worrying over her friendship with Dolph. Because being dragged up a staircase, having your face shoved in bloodstains, and then having a table thrown at you in an interview room are not at all indicators of a toxic personality that should be avoided at all costs.

...I should have gone with the dino book, shouldn't I?



Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Wolf GIft--chapter 39-END

Called Perry. Expect it to do no good, but I called Perry anyway.

Anybody who could ignore what happened at the capitol on Tuesday is going to keep on ignoring it because Reasons.

Incidentally my boss brought up an interesting point on the subject, one that I did not think about. A key point in the bill would require doctors preforming abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. She said something like "I'll bet they're trying to corporatize it. Give it to the companies. Make it into big business."

Given that ANYTHING political is a "follow the money" principal, that makes too much sense for me not to bring it up.

Also, and this is TOTALLY unrelated to politics...yeah, I spent the afternoon researching henna, because I found a couple awesome picture of it and I wanted to understand how blue henna can exist. Short answer: It can't. And don't EVER do a photo search for black henna while eating. Or ever allow black henna to come anywhere near your body because HOLY FUCK OW OW OW OW OW.

This has been your daily public service announcement.

THIRDLY: I'd say our two categories are either more Anita Blake, OR the possessed-by-dinosaurs book. We can do the next book in line (I can't be arsed to check at this point) or we can skip ahead to something relatively interesting. I know that "Interesting" and "Anita Blake" are not exactly synonyms at this point, so it's up to you. Next Anita Blake, Random Anita Blake, or the dinosaur book.

Right. So shitty book.

They're still eating the same food from the last chapter. Only now instead of a salad, it's pies.

This reads like the food fight scene in Hook. And we don't get the lovely visuals this time.

Margon tells Ruben and Stuart about the origin of werewolves. And are you ready for this guys? Are you ready? Are you REALLY ready?

Okay. This is where werewolves came from.


“Yes,” said Margon, “there was such a species, an isolated and dying species of primates who were not what we are and they did exist on an isolated island, yes, thousands of years ago off the African coast.”
And how did this power pass from ape-man to man-man, you ask?


“He acquired the power by being severely and repeatedly bitten, but only after he’d been prepared by imbibing the fluids of the species— the urine, the blood— in whatever quantities he could acquire for two years. He had also invited playful bites from the tribe whenever he could. They had befriended him, and he was an outcast from his people— exiled from the only real city in the whole world.”

AND THAT IS NOT THE MOST DISTURBING PART OF THIS SCENE, BLOG-READERS! No, the most disturbing part is immediately before this, where Stuart says "So did we get this power by mating with the apes" and Margon is all like "NO THAT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL"


And of fucking course it is revealed that Margon is the "he" in the paragraph about drinking monkey urine. Which means he's also the dude that tried to mate with the monkey people. And of course nobody goes "DUDE. WTF" and instead go off thinking about how MARGON IS AN IMMORTAL MAN.

Ruben. You've got a houseful of immortal men. This has already been very well established. Knock it off.

And then we get a long thing about how Margon was thrown out of his home city because he refused to worship the "gods of stone". And I don't know if this is an agnostic/athiestic statement of faith, or an author-screed against pagan/non-Catholic religion. So I'm gonna go with both.

And of course Margon is from THE OLDEST CITY IN THE HISTORY OF THINGS EVER and he was this city's god-king. Because ONLY THE BEST PEOPLE CAN BE IN THIS STORY.

...and yes. He's white.

And then there is a long screed about truth, and how we are taught that lies are necessary, and somehow this has relevance on Stuart's being gay, and it's supposed to be meaningful, and it's not. It's really not.

And then we get an account of the perfect monkey people, who were more perfect than perfect and who knew no sin, and who never ever took advantage of their abilities as werewolves...and who freaking worshipped Margon, a dude they could have eaten in three or four bites, right up until he tells them that their gods don't exist either, and they decide that it's time to kill him because the plot wants to make some kind of point about belief.

And then Margon turns into a wolf and he eats some of the monkey people, and the rest now literally worship him as God.

Oh, and the monkey people are mortal even when they do change, whereas humans who are bitten become immortal. Because...OH LOOK A BUNNY!

Things degrade into a debate about how this power could have evolved and why.

You know, I woke up today, and I did not think "I need a scientific explination for werewolves". I don't think anybody else ever woke up and thought that. But Anne Rice did, and she's giving it to us in GREAT DETAIL.

And then we go off on Pretencious Spiritual Tangent NO. 36587 AKA Transcendent Witnesses and Salvageable Truths, which evolves into a Rapsody on the theme "SCIENCE IS EVIL."

Now we're discussing Childhood Development.

Then they decide to give the Chrism to Laura whenever she's ready. Which won't be this book.

If Laura turns into fucking Bella Swan, the universe will have proved it contains no justice.

End of chapter.

Next chapter, we get a summery of events:

Stuart has a Jaguar. Buffy Longcourt is going to buy a new wardrobe to get over her abusive husband's death. Grace is on a tour of talk shows discussing the Man Wolf, who has dropped off the face of the Earth. Ruben and Stuart avoid the police while Ruben writes more "Rah Rah Wolf" pieces for the paper.

A new random wolf--Frank Vandowhatever--shows up and talks all about the fun he had baiting the cops to Mexico. This is reported in summery because that couldn't possibly be as interesting as the philosophical debate of last chapter.

Meanwhile, Anne Rice murders a simi-colon:

It was impossible to guess the age of any of these men, really, Reuben felt; and it was clearly not polite to ask.

She so doesn't need an editor, guys.

After a few months everybody, including all of Ruben's family, has a real thanksgiving in the house.

There are no reports reguarding wheither or not Laura made a salad. However, we do find out that people played the piano and that Jim was rather mopy.

This happens:

Reuben began to write a book. But it was not an autobiography, or a novel. It was something quite pure and had to do with his own observations, his own deep suspicions that the highest truths a person could discover were rooted in the natural world.

Translation: Ruben is writing a book of pretensious philosophy that will be meaningful to exactly six people, until the seventh hitches it up to Objectivism or something.

Felix basically remodels a local town because he can. Margon and Stuart decide to start living together together.

Laura takes off for a weekend alone, and Ruben and company go to Mexico to kill all the men frequenting a Mexican brothel. Yeah, Hostel is a reality for this book, as long as you're a werewolf. Ruben gets back from Mexico, Laura is not there. So instead he takes a walk, rambles philosophically about Things for several pages, and then throws his arms up in the air and prays:

“Lord, forgive me my blasphemous soul,” he whispered, his voice breaking. “But I thank You with all my heart for the gift of life, for all the blessings You have rained down upon me, for the miracle of life in all its forms— and Lord, I thank You for the Wolf Gift!”

And then a jet engine fell on him. The end.

I wish.

But yep. End of book! Book is done! WE ARE FINALLY DONE.

I have reviewed Mission Earth, Captive of Gor, TWO Anita Blake novels and a book where a woman had hot and heavy sex with a lake. So far, THIS is the worst book I've read.

I'm going to go watch something stupid until I fall asleep. Night, all.

The Wolf GIft--chapters 37-38

So How was my day?

I spent all day explaining what happened last night to lots of other people. Mostly women. And you know what? Even the ones who would love for the abortion bill to go through called bullshit on the last hour of legislature last night. Especially at the 12:03 roll call vote...thing. Also, this is my favorite woman in the world right now:

THAT SAID, Perry, champion of truth, justice and the American way that he is, has called "Mulligan" and decided that we will have another special session explicitly for the abortion bill.

And the implication is that Perry will continue to do this until the bill passes. Because, you know, the screaming at the capitol didn't actually mean anything.

Unfortunately I know very little about politics. Just enough to recognize the utter awesome thing accomplished by Davis, Watson, Ellis and Van De Putte (Ya'll are going to get sick of seeing those names for a while, I swear to God) but not enough to make any actual commentary other than "TEXANS: CALL YOUR FUCKING REPS AND PERRY TOMORROW. AND DO IT FRIDAY TOO"

So instead of blogging about the most amazing moment ever in the history of things (see .gif above) I'm going to blog about a really, really, REALLY boring book.

Felix and Ruben leave the mansion and go hunt an elk. They kill it and eat it.

It takes seven pages.


Coyotes appear and...okay, it's not the pube wolf sentence, but OH MY GOD ANNE WHY GOD WHY:

Felix appeared to watch, a great silent hairy man being with patient but glittering eyes.

Anyway, they kill and eat the coyotes too. Because wildlife exists just to please the holier-than-thou pube-wolf and his sainted wolf-ancestor.

The chapter ends with Felix calling Ruben "Brother" and Ruben heading up to the bedroom to find Laura haloed in sunlight.

...I am in the wrong mood to read about an overbearing rich white guy pawing a woman.

Next chapter, everybody's eating dinner.

Yes. It includes one of Laura's salads. I am developing a Pavlovian response every time the woman picks up the olive oil and heads of Romaine. And of course, the dinner is formal as fuck. It's like a big happy wolf Thanksgiving.

...yeah, a happy family is the one that would MUCH rather eat pizza on the couch while watching Avengers than have to break out the good silverware.

And then Felix asks Margon (There are so many random wolves now I'm not going to bother keeping track. It's like the lost boys, only dressed in pubic hair) to bless the meal and we go straight off the deep end into pretension.

Folks, I read theology books for fun. I love CS Lewis's theology almost more than I do his fiction, and I've been wading through this book on Christian Meditation and tarot cards for about two years. If I think this shit is pretensious? I cannot imagine what it is like for the rest of ya'll.

Oh, that humankind could make such music, thought Reuben, on this tiny cinder whirling in a tiny solar system lost in a tiny galaxy hurtling through endless space. Maybe the Maker of all this will hear this music as a form of prayer. Love us, love us as we love You.

So after turning religion into a big mass of purple-pink pony puke, we move on to info dumping about werewolves.

I'll let you know when I hit something unique and/or interesting.

...yeah, nothing so far, except that apparently all the other wolves lied to Marrok and told him that trying to turn humans into werewolves would kill the humans, because believing this would keep him from converting humans en-masse.


Also Margon manages to shit all over Ruben's mom in less than one sentence, because apparently every good and pleasant thing in Ruben came from his Dad, and one conversation with Dad is enough for Margon to know this.

Info dumping continues. Chrism blah blah blah bite blah blah blah immortality blah blah...yeah. This all belonged WAY back at the beginning of the book. If you can't bring your info into the first third? Second third at the latest? Don't fucking bother, okay?

Jesus. And I thought Breaking Dawn's "LETS ALL JUST TALK FOR A WHILE" Climax was bad.

 ...yeah, we've wandered off into pretension again. Anne Rice's werewolves are trying to explain Life, God, and the Human Condition.

 FINALLY, though, we come to something unique. The werewolves feel spiritually starved if they do not go out and kill random people. What, you don't believe me?

“Not really,” said Margon. “(The hunger is) always inside us. We feel partial, diminished, spiritually starved if we don’t give in to it, but I would say that is there from the beginning. Indeed, one can get sick of it, and withdraw for long periods, ignoring the voices.” He stopped.

As for why Ruben and company have to go out and kill random's confusing, but it's like a divinely appointed biological imperative? Like the wolves are God's avenging angels?

...We're talking about the creator of the universe. He could do better. A LOT better.

More shitting upon Marrok. Remind me what he accomplished as a character again?

...we are now talking about hobbits. I shit you not. Fucking Hobbits. The archeological evidence for Bilbo Baggins.

And on that note (HOBBITS!) the chapter ends.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Here is an excellent kick-ass summery of what went down yesterday.

It also includes the OTHER major part of this story:


The state of Texas went absolutely bugfuck INSANE last night, we literally stormed our own capitol building because we did not want this shit in our state, the state legislature modified public records to hide flagrant violation of the law, and CNN was reporting on motherfucking MUFFINS.



Here are my thoughts on Wendy Davis, in full, in total:

This is not about Abortion anymore.

This is about a government respecting its own goddamned rules.

Oh, I absolutely fucking agree that the abortion bill should have been shot on sight. I AM PRO-LIFE, but voting pro-choice is the only morally correct decision I can make. I DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSE'S MORAL CHOICES. Okay? Okay.

But this is what happened in the TX Senate tonight:


SENATOR WATSON PLAYED FAIR. He played "Who's on first" with the entire floor, but he was within the law. EVENTUALLY HE GOT SHOUTED DOWN.














Tonight, my state did not fucking fail. Tonight, my state stood the fuck up and showed what their opinion was. They showed that they value women's rights. They showed that they valued the rights of women to control their bodies, and that they value the right of women to speak and be heard. They showed that they truly do respect and honor the rules and regulations of this government, and that they accept these rules and act within them on good faith.


But I want you to go back up and re-read those gifs. This was the shot heard 'round the state. This one moment changed my political views, and the bullshit that followed put the nails in the coffin. And if it can change my mind, it can change a lot of other people's minds, too.

I do not know what my opinion is now, but I do know that I will not and cannot support a system that will demand a political opponant speak for thirteen hours without support, food, water, or a bathroom break, and then use any bullshit loophole they think they can grab to undo the monumental thing she accomplished. Wendy Davis primed the gun, Leticia Van De Putte fired it, and the rest of Texas is now understanding what that sound meant.






There's my rambly thought. Now I am going to bed.

EDIT: According to Twitter, several dozen screen shots and many other people, the bill is now DOA. So unless and until something changes while I sleep, WENDY FUCKING WON.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Wolf Gift chapters 35-36

Human news first:

I try to keep politics off the blog as much as possible, because I hate it with passion and fire, but OH MY FUCKING GOD I LOVE MY STATE RIGHT NOW SO MUCH, SO MUCH, SO FUCKING MUCH.

The state legislature, with a few exceptions, can go collectively jump off a cliff. BUT MY STATE HAS JUST PROVED IT IS AWESOME.

If you have no idea what brought that on you missed an AMAZING day in the Texas senate. Wendy Davis, the dem rep for Ft. Worth, KICKED FUCKING ASS. There was a very broad bill that would effectively shut down every abortion and planned parenthood clinic in the state, and She filibustered until she got shut down. She got shut down on one point of assistance (Somebody helped her with her back brace) and two points of germainess, which were such utter bullshit because those points were ultrasounds and Roe V. Wade.

Yes, folks. The Texas State Senate said that Roe v. Wade is not germaine to a discussion about abortion. I said I was proud of my state, not my state legislature. And oh my GOD am I proud of the people in this state.

Because it is only then that things got kickass awesome. If you were not watching the last hour of the live feed you are not living and you need to go find it now. Senator Watson and a Senator Leticia van de Putte stood up and started talking and did not stop for about forty-five minutes. People kept trying to move to start the vote on the bill (SB5) and finally, at 11:45 Van De Putte stood up and said the following:

"At what point does a female senator need to raise her hand or her voice to be heard over the male colleagues of the room?"

At which the gallery started cheering and screaming and did not fucking stop for twenty minutes.

I have no idea if the bill passed or not. It looks as if it did, by a half-assed mumbled barely audible THING thirty seconds before the session legally ended. But lawmaker stupidity aside, I am so fucking proud of my state right now. Not the legislature, but you know what? FUCK the legislature. I am no longer apolitical. The law stated that if a senator could stand up and talk without assistance, food, drink or bathroom break until the session ended, then the bill could not be voted on, and Wendy Davis did that. She played the fucking game legally and fairly, and the Republicans did not."Fair" is not mumbling vote results into the microphone that nobody can fucking understand. Wendy Davis and the people of the State of Texas entered this debate in good faith. Their opponents did not. If you don't play fair, you don't deserve to sit in any kind of important chair. Tonight my state proved that is not filled with assholes. It's just manned by them. But that can, will, and damn well should change.

Congratulations Republicans. You managed to knock me off the fence forever. And given that, until the last hour, I identified as a Republican? That's saying a lot.

It's pathetic that I now have to blog about this shit-tastic book after having watched the throw-down in the senate, especially since I have no idea how it ended, but I will.

(SERIOUSLY. I LOVE MY STATE, I LOVE THE PEOPLE IN MY STATE. I LOVE WENDY DAVIS. Everyone who moved against her in those last two minutes do not deserve to share the same ground as her and the awesome people who stood with her. That was not my state. My state were the people chanting Wendy's name from the gallery.)

SO. Where'd we leave Ruben?

...he;s throwing a party. Two people were fucking beheaded in his foyer, and he's throwing a party. There is no mention of the blood being mopped up but there is, however, a long description of cookies and pumpkin bread. Apparently this is for the cops and ambulances. Because, you know ,the way to respond to a beheading in your mansion's front hall is with a tray full of cookies.

Felix tells Phil and Grace, Ruben's parents, all about the Soviet Union's support of occult medical exparaments via Dr. Jaska. Because that plot wouldn't be nearly as interesting as one about Laura making salads and Ruben buying a ficus.

Grace decides that the Man Wolf is a human being suffering a horrible deformity. She is adamant that it could not possibly be an undiscovered species. The concept of werewolf isn't even mentioned.

Grace. You just watched it rip someone's head off with its mouth. This is not a logical assumption.

Of course, the stupidity from Grace's side of the room does not end there:

He’ll end up in the Smithsonian in a glass case. And we’ll tell our grandchildren that we once glimpsed him with our own eyes, during his brief and brilliant glory days, and he’ll be sentimentalized as a tragic figure— rather like the Elephant Man, in the end.”

First of all, there is a huge difference between "sentimentalizing" Joseph Merrick--AKA the Elephant Man--and doing the same with a murdering wolf-being who eats people. Merrick was an intelligent and incredibly gentle human being who suffered horribly throughout most of his life, and the running theory for how he died is that he tried to sleep laying down, rather than sitting up, and the weight of his own head snapped his neck. If you can read even a summary of his life's story and not want to sob uncontrollably, you are not a human being. The Man-Wolf is eating people. If you sentimentalize eating people there is something severely, severely wrong with you.

And then we switch over to Laura and the Baron, who are arranging fig newtons while they have a philosophical debate about the nature of morality.

A debate about morality.

Between an easily manipulated, emotionally damaged woman who is desperately seeking approval and a wolf-being who eats people.

...And it's still not as bad as the Texas senate. (...did they seriously just change the fucking time stamp on the motherfucking bill? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS)

Eventually everybody leaves, with an ongoing onslaught of philosophical stupidity flowing from Grace's mouth--thank you Anne Rice for switching the only not-brainwashed female over into babbling mouthpiece fountain mode for us--and a lot of really good points coming from Jim, which will be ignored because...this book has no idea what it's doing and never did.

End of chapter.

In the next chapter, Felix is comforting Laura while Ruben checks her out. He gets irritated, though, that Felix is standing next to his girl, so Felix steps away before things get real.

And then we find out that everything Felix did so far was to draw out Jaska and the other russian doctor, who was actually Behind The Whole Thing.

“Oh, she was the last of the governing committee that took us prisoner twenty years ago,” said Felix. “The very last, and Jaska her eager apprentice. It took a little provocation bringing her into it, but never mind that now. We couldn’t warn you, we couldn’t reassure you. And you do realize that not the slightest suspicion will ever attach to you or Stuart now for the Man Wolf’s attacks.”

And we have been reading about salads.

So all the wolves will be moving into the house, including the one setting up a false trail for the cops, and the sleeping arrangements are discussed in great. fucking. detail. because we absolutely need to know who is sleeping where.

And then we find out how Felix came to be captured, which is just filler because it has no actual bearing on this story.

Then it is established that the wolves--with the exception of Marrok--never got pissed that Ruben was so very public in his wonton murder of innocents. And then Felix and Ruben go out to run around and play as wolves and the chapter finally ends.

Almost done guys. ALMOST DONE.

(...Wendy Davis 2016. OH. MY. GOD.)

Self Publishing Numbers for ya:

As I said yesterday, I've made my goal. I've sold over 365 books in my first year of publishing. As of right now it is 372. Let's see if we can't make 400 by July 17th, mkay?

Starbleached is the leader with 123 books sold, and the other books in that series aren't that far behind.

In my first six months (July to Dec 12) I sold 110 books.

In my second, (Jan to June 13) I sold 266.

Sales are more-or-less consistent for every book.

I've also begun getting sales from places OTHER than Amazon, which is TOTALLY AWESOME.

These numbers are not hugely successful, but it's time for a little confession: Right now, no bullshit, this is exactly what I am looking for, and what I wanted to see when I started out. My goal for my first six months was to sell, for money, 100 books. And I did that. Then I wanted to break 300 books by the end of may. And I did that. And now I broke my June goal with lots of time left in the month.

These are not the books I wanted to publish. Oh, I love them all, my lovelies, do not get me wrong.  If I did not like the books I would not publish the books. But The Book, the one with the many many rejections, is the one that I really want to publish. The books I've published so far are not the ones I want to make successful. That book is the one I want to make successful.

I think I feel safe in saying that you guys will see that book sometime within the next two years. I would say, at my current pace, sometime in July of 2015.

I am so glad that I get to take you guys on this ride with me.

Here are the hard month-to-month numbers in case you are curious.

I have no idea WTF is up with that thirty book jump between March and April. 

July 1
August 3
September 17
October 36
November 27
Dec 26
Jan 45
feb 24
March 20
April 54
May 65
June 58

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wolf GIft--33-34

First off, book news:

As of today I have sold 366 books. This means that by my one-year anniversary (July 17th) I will have sold over one book a day for every day I've been publishing.

It is not because  I am good or exceptional or anything. It is because each and every one of you are awesome. IDK why you are here, what brought you to the blog, if you're here for books or flogs or whatever, but it does not matter. You buy my books, you read my blog, and you tell me stuff I need to hear when I need to hear it and that makes each and every one of you awesome, awesome people.

Second: I am going to burn through the rest of this fucking book like it's made of petroleum, so let's start deciding on the next thing to do. I am willing to do good books too, so we can consider those too. I've already decided on an extra-curricular book to do, but it'll be a surprise.

Here's my ideas:

1. Redemption of Althalus David Eddings, includes the Drinking Game I made up
2. Eternal Prey, Nina Bangs--vampires and shapeshifting men posessed by the ghosts of dead dinosaurs. Not even joking.
3. The sequel to the book about the woman who had sex with a lake.
4. *sighs* More Anita Blake.

These are here not because I think they're awful (...with the exception of the latter) but because I think I can get a lot of comedy mileage out of them.

Thirdly, because we're discussing Rice and her book has basically been Wonderbread since the beginning, Rice decided that discussing the racist comments that got Paula Dean fired is just the best thing she could absolutely do.

Yeah, I had relatives who said awful things about black people behind their back, none of which I feel like repeating here or ever. No. Anne. No. It is not okay to say shitty things behind a person's back, regardless of circumstances.

If I ever become a multi-millionare I'm buying a billboard beside a highway and having it say "Treat other people with dignity, and don't be a dick".

Right. Shitty book.

The next chapter opens with Ruben taking advantage of an omnipotent narrator to go hunt a random boar.

(Rambly story time! I once had a traveling youth group leader visit my church, and on his way back from the first night of meetings he ran over a heard of Javelina. Having never heard of Javelina before, the guy sent a claim into the rental car's insurance company claiming that he had run over a heard of wild boar. He related this story to the class on the second night. On the third night he stood up, said that he understood that he had hit Javelina, he now knew everything he ever wanted to know about Javelina, and a few thousand things he did not, and that both he and the environment would be very happy if no one printed out the Wikipedia article on Peccary and gave it to him, ever, ever again.)

And when he comes back, Laura says that Stuart's doctor called Ruben in an attempt to get to Ruben's mother, because Stuart has broken out of his hospital room via his upper story window. And now Ruben has to go save the newly shifted wolf before he does something stupid. And of course, he doesn't make it and Stuart eats his stepdad.

I'd say this is yet another indication that Stuart has the better story. Ruben goes out and kills the first random bad guy he finds who smells even vaguely evil. Stuart manages to make his way across the entire city without killing anybody, and then he eats the son of a bitch who beat his mom and arranged for his boyfriend to die. And he doesn't just find him sitting in a chair. He's actively beating Stuart's mom when Stuart rips his head off. It's still in a moral dark gray zone--too dark for this book to handle it appropretely--but it's not "Wander around randomly until somebody does something to justify me killing them", which is what Ruben has done through this whole book. This is personal. Still not right, but Stuart is much less of an ass than Ruben, and given that he had to cross the whole city to get there, he's got something of a better moral compass.

It's not that much of an improvement, but it's better.

Ruben tracks Stuart through the woods until he finds him, and then they hunker down until Laura drives up in the car with their clothes.

Yeah. So somehow Laura, whose only instruction was "Follow me with the car and bring clothes for the boy" before Ruben took off on foot through the woods for ninety miles--yeah, speaking of Superman comparisons--manages to not only find their general location, but to get close enough to sing "Simple Gifts" to Ruben as a signal that they can safely approach.

Either we missed a few steps in logic, or Laura is a badly underestimated female, and she needs to dump Ruben's fuzzy ass and go find herself Sociopath!Sherlock, because at least Benedict Sherlock could appreciate Laura's tracking skills.

Ruben shifts back, Stuart is all awestruck, and he and Laura bundle him into the car.

They also start calling him the Boy Wolf, because Ruben has just aquired himself a sidekick. Like, a Tonto to his Lone Ranger. Robin to his Batman.

Excuse me. I need to go find a puke bucket.

Next chapter.

Ruben wakes up and both his house phone and his cell phone are being blown the fuck up.

...yeah, he's got a land-line. I don't. I know a few places that do but they are all businesses. I suspect I might be the only person reading this who doesn't have or need a landline, though, so I won't make too big a deal over it.

There's also a ton of people at his house, including a sherrif's car and an ambulance. Ruben does not make the obvious assumption--that the cops know he is the Man Wolf and are about to hit him like a ton of bricks--and decides to go downstairs. And apparently he's been getting SOS texts and calls and e-mails from everyone who loves him, and this is the second time this lot have arrived at the Perfect Mansion, and Laura's decision has been to let Ruben sleep.

I take back what I said about Laura's abilities. THE WORLD IS FALLING IN, LAURA. WAKE UP YOUR BOYFRIEND.

 So the crowd of people are sitting outside the house's gate, waiting, and Ruben's family is on its way. They shove Stuart into the secret room where they found all of Marrok's shit, and Ruben goes downstairs to let people in.

We find out through fragementary e-mails--because having Ruben talk to another human being is asking too fucking much--that the crowd outside have come to "put Ruben away". Again, it could be for the whole Ruben Eats People thing, but of course it won't be. And the "they" in this case are Dr. Akim Jaska and a Random Female Doctor, who have shown up with a court order to have Ruben and Stuart handed over into their custody. Ruben gets tense, realizing that he's probably either going to have to run, hide in the secret room with Laura or Stuart, or fight his way out...

...and then his family comes to his rescue, screaming that the paperwork had better fucking be in order if they're thinking of hauling Ruben away.

Yes. His underdeveloped, much maligned and marginalized family are the people who rescue Ruben. Not Felix (though that's coming) and not Laura. The people he rejected because they wouldn't understand the wolfy urge to eat people are pulling the Pube Wolf's ass out of the fire.

I want this book rewritten as the Grace and Stuart show. For reals.

And of course, with his parents now running the delaying action, this is when Felix and one of his buddies show up. They haul Stuart and Laura out of the secret room and let the bad guys into the house. The smell of evil AKA Axe Body Spray fills the room. All the werewolves start twitching.

Grace continues to argue over the paperwork, pointing out that it's invalid, that the bad guys have no right to be there, and they all need to go home. The cops agree, but they're still all trooping into the mansion.

Also, Ruben, the top notch crime reporter, has no idea what a fifty-one-fifty is. It's the form and the call the cops use when someone has gone insane and the situation requires their intervention. If you like crime stuff, you know this. I begin to doubt the veracity of this pubic-hair wolf novel.

And then we get the Plot Bomb of Plot Bombs dropped on us.

So it is implied that Jaska and his russian girlfriend were both researchers in Soviet Russia, that they held Felix and Margon Spervier, and Marrok and the rest of his buddies in some kind of research facility for an unmentioned, implied-to-be-extensive period of time, and that Felix escaped and the fall of the Soviet Union ended his research. It is possible that Felix's escape and the fall of the Soviet Union happened at the same time.

We get pages dedicated to Laura making a salad, and this plot doesn't even get to be well defined.

I hate this book.

Especially because involuntary committment is exactly the right response to Ruben. Maybe not to Stuart, possibly not to Felix, but Ruben is killing random people. Lots and lots of random people, on the justification that they smell rather bad. He abso-fucking-lutely is a threat to the general population and a spree killer, and a regular jail can't hold him. Sticking him in a specialized facility is the only thing you could do for him. Based just on the information provided in this book, Jaska isn't the bad guy. He's the motherfucking hero.

Now, if he's killing kittens or doing human exparamentation or facilitating torture, I will revise that statement. But the ONLY things Jaska has done in this book is drink shitty cocktails, attempt to get a dangerous murdering non-human off the streets and into some kind of treatment, and smell bad. Ruben has killed at least a dozen people, passed his illness on to one kid, and depopulated quite a bit of wildlife. I know which one I'd feel comfortable eating dinner with, and it ain't the pube wolf.

And then Felix comes into the room with Margon, a wolf, and another wolf whose name I will never be able to spell correctly, so he is now The Baron. They all smile at Jaska, who turns the approximate color of used toothpaste. And right before the Russians shit themselves, another wolf comes bursting into the house and eats them. Specifically it bites their heads off. And then it runs away so the cops will chase it and not Ruben.

Everyone spends a lot of time looking at each other, and then Grace, the surgeon who has probably held many, many, many people's bowels in her hands at one point or another, fucking faints in her husband's arms.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Wolf Gift--chapter 32

I feel like making a list of all the things that could be happening in this book, that aren't. Why they aren't, I have no idea. I hate Ruben for the same reason I hate sex scenes in books: Every time it shows up, the plot fucking dies.

So basically the next chunk of book is a copy-paste of Ruben's conversion into a Wolf, only it's the kid's conversion and is relayed via his doctors.

The only stand-out irritating thing is the stuff with Stuart's mom. She is defending his stepdad, who tried to kill him because he was gay.

 “She’s an awful woman, this mother,” Grace confided. “She’s jealous of her son. She blames him for the stepfather’s rages. She treats him like a pesky little brother who’s ruining her life with her new boyfriend. And the boy doesn’t get how childish she really is, and it makes me sick.”

I will add the caveat that families with this dynamic do exist. My family had a couple of kids with stories of this caliber in their home. They also had kids with Moms that make Buffy Longstreet look like Mary Poppins, all magic and love and educational and shit. I can't even say that women like that can't produce kids like Stuart, because they can if the home is healthy, and it is strongly implied that Stuart's home prior to the stepdad was pretty healthy. But I also know a lot of kids with Moms so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it makes you want to bow in front of them and chant "I am not worthy, I am not worthy". I cannot, sadly, call *sigh* Buffy Longstreet an unnecessary, unrealistic caricature of a woman. I can, however, state that there is no reason whatsoever to cast Ms. Longstreet as an utter abysmal failure of a mother, and every reason to cast her as a good one.

Also: Grace has no fucking business criticizing how Stuart feels towards his mother. Reguardless of how correct or incorrect she might be, Stuart is not her patient and she is not a psychologist, and even when you desperately, DESPERATELY want to intervene in an abusive family situation, you don't do it by castigating any party for not being "enough" to get out of the situation. You don't understand the situation. In an abusive situation, when running away and fighting back are both unsafe, the instinct is to submit for however long it takes to get out of the situation alive. Manipulative abusers are very good at using this instinct to keep their victims in line and at home. And the kicker is, the victims are usually "right" in staying. The most dangerous time for an abuse victim is the after they leave their abuser.

Grace does not know these people. She doesn't know what the stepdad has said to Stuart or Buffy, she doesn't know what he might be capable of doing to them if either party steps out of line. In fact, in my HIGHLY inexpert opinion, I'd say it's psychologically likely that the Stepdad struck out against Stuart, not just because he was gay or because he had money--this was his mental justification for it--but because Stuart went to college. Stuart got away, and the abuser couldn't stand that. Sexuality and material gain might be the cover story, but the leaving is what triggered it. Again, IMHO. So Criticizing the mental process of someone in an abusive situation is rather like looking down on someone with TB because they can't run a mile. Things have gone very wrong in their lives and they have no idea how to get out safely, and they need you to help them find a solution, not point and laugh because you think the gasping sounds are funny.

It's possible that Buffy is just that stupid. It's also possible that Buffy is trying to stay alive as best she can.

 So we get long paragraphs about Ruben talking to his mother and to the press, and meanwhile Stuart has nuns picketing in his support, demanding equal rights for Gays.

Stuart has the best story.

Also, the Russian Paris Doctor, Akim Jaska, has alienated Grace. So Grace is back on Ruben's side and Jaska is a plot bunny.

More copy paste from the first part of the book.

Ruben is told that Jaska wants to stick Stuart in a sanitorium, and so he rushes out to interview the Mom, who doesn't give a fuck because having a female character that isn't made of cardboard is asking too fucking much from this book. And then the stepdad wanders in.

The book then godmods for a while about what motivates Stepdad and how mom knows but doesn't know that she has to choose between her husband and her son, thus implicating her as having a part in the murder, albeit unconscious.

Ruben avoids shapeshifting for three days after biting Stuart, like any good drug abuser would abstain after their first incredibly bad bender, and then he says "fuck it" and wanders around his property, eating random wildlife. We get a list. It includes frogs and squirrels.

Ruben and Laura make a deal with the locals so they can keep hiking on Ruben's property. Because we needed to have three paragraphs dedicated to this.

We get another description of the conservatory and I have to say it: Who the FUCK puts bougainvillea indoors? It's poisonous, it has thorns that probably participated in the crucifixion and it grows like "Holy fuck, that was my house yesterday and now it's a plant!". Keeping it under control in an outdoor situation involves cutting it down to a stump once every few months. Indoors, you have to worry about it undermining foundations and killing all the other precious precious plants in the indoor flower garden. It's tropical and it's pretty, but those of us who live with the fuckers have a love/hate relationship that borders on hate more often than not. The only thing worse are Oleanders. If we ever have an attack of the triffids, South Texas will be safe, because the oleanders and the bougainvillea will eat them. As will anywhere else that uses the goddamned things in commercial landscaping.


And then Ruben goes out and buys a used cheap laptop and gets a special e-mail with a wolfy name and writes a long screed to his editor about how awesome the manwolf is, only he never sends it because Filler is Filler and it can't be allowed to change the actual plot.

Laura goes for walks. She redecorates the house. She buys Ruben a piano. She takes pictures of all the trees on the property and teaches Ruben their species names. They talk about God. She doesn't believe, because Ruben has to convert her to some form of Deism as part of his conquest of her. Look, when a Christian is calling you out on your faith-centric metaphors being heavy handed and sexist? You've lost. You've just lost.

I am now chanting End. END. ENNNNNNNNNNND! at the screen and this chapter is not ending. It is instead talking randomly about Marchant's bedroom. It's pink.

Ruben goes out and signs the title for the house. It is now permanently his.


They go to Laura's house and pick up her things. It's all frilly nightgowns and pedestrain flannal day clothes, and there's probably something sexist in there but I'm so board at this point I don't give a flying blue pony fuck either way.

Stuart gets better. Grace and Phil, Ruben's dad, come to the House for dinner. There are several paragraphs that amount to "Ruben's family is fucking loaded" and contributes fuck-all else to the story and the characters. Except that Grace, of course, is the lone dissenting voice. She thinks the house is a little much.

It's the house from Rose Red. It went past "little much" about the time it manufactured a conservatory big enough for bougainvillea.

Laura makes a salad.

They talk about Dr. Akim Jaska and his unhealthy obsession with Werewolves.

Ruben plays the piano. He tells Jim about biting Stuart. Jim prays. Ruben realizes someone is watching the house, so he shows his parents out the door and the chapter FINALLY ends.

Anne Rice totally doesn't need an editor, guys.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Wolf Gift--chapter 31

So it's been high ninties all week, like 96 F with 40% humidity, which is basically "Look ma, the rocks are melting" kind of hot. I have not mentioned this because of Reasons, but I do not own a car. I own a bike. I like having my bike. I hate cars. Every time I get behind the wheel of a car the tension is Not Fun and Not Pretty.

Biking in 96 F weather is enough to kill squirrels. I always reassess my priorities every year. (...also, I can't afford a goddamned car. The CAR itself? Sure. Gas, insurance and the biannual "What the fuck is that noise?" emergency? Fuck that shit. I break a bike chain, it's twenty bucks at wal-mart. I break a fan belt, it's Ramen Noodles forever.)

So how's Ruben today?

Well, we find out that Ruben saved a gay kid from being murdered the night before. Okay, that's grea--

THE STORY EXPLODED on the morning news, not because the Man Wolf had had the temerity to go to the northern city of Santa Rosa and shred four vicious killers, but because the surviving victim was already famous.
...I want one normal character in this book. Just one. And I don't mean normal as in "straight white" because that's not normal, that's descriptive laziness. I mean normal as in "I don't have my name anywhere other than my friends-only facebook account" and "Can I borrow twenty bucks for lunch? I had to pay my phone bill and I'm broke until Friday" kind of normal. Somebody who has a day job that wouldn't let them just drop off the face of the fucking earth just because they don't feel like working today. Seriously. I like the little gay kid. BUT WHY DOES THE LITTLE GAY KID HAVE TO BE MORE FAMOUS THAN ELVIS?

So the kid's name is Stuart McIntyre, and he became famous for insisting that his Catholic school let him take a boy to prom. Good for Stuart. His school punished him by taking away his valedictorian status. So not only is he famous, he's also the smartest person in school.

...could we maybe be reading that story? The one about a normal (ish. I mean he's like perfectly brilliant and acclaimed and famous already) kid fighting overwhelming obstacles to get equal treatment? High stakes? Unlikely chance of success? Emotional turmoil? That'd be much more interesting than The Adventures of Pube Wolf the Rich Man.

The book goes on to state that Stuart is very active in trying for gay rights...but--

But his greatest claim to fame before the prom crisis had been his success as a high school actor, persuading Blessed Sacrament to put on a full-scale production of Cyrano de Bergerac, just so that he could ably play the lead in it, which he had, to good reviews.
Yeah. Starring in a school play>gay rights.

It's also irritating that Stuart's life history is not there because it is interesting. It is not there because it makes him a better character than Ruben (...even though it does, which is how you know Rice didn't intend it that way) It is there because it makes him a saint, thus making his receiving the Wolf Gift a good thing, thus making Ruben being an idiot less of a disaster. So we've taken a hot button issue--Gay Rights and religion--and used it to justify the bone-numbingly stupid decisions of a character whose ethnic difficulty setting is "Baby's first video game" easy.

(For the record, whatever I believed when I was a teen aside, I do believe that you can be Gay and be a Christian, that you have every right to believe what you want and do what you want, and to have a relationship with  whatever Deity you feel wants you reguardless of what society says you can and can't do. Also, C.S. Lewis said, and I agree with him, that homosexuality was not something he could pass judgement on because he never had to deal with that particular issue. Far as I know, I'm straight. That makes it none of my fucking business.)  

Any credit Anne Rice might have bought with me for including this issue dies a horrible fucking death when she talks about Stuart's murdered boyfriend as the "boyfriend", with quotation marks. As if it's not the real thing.

Rice, the kid lost status at his school for the right to take this other kid to prom. At least give that the dignity of using Boyfriend without the quotes.

Also, the murdered kid was Antonio Lopez. This is our second Person of Color in the entire novel, and he's dead long, long before he is granted an identity, let alone an ethnicity. And he was probably murdered by Stuart's own stepfather and several of his own brothers-in-law, who Stuart identified when he was brought to the hospital.

Well, at least the fail so far has been very minor. Ri---

Oh you've got to be kidding me.

There was more. Stuart’s mother, a bottle-blond named Buffy Longstreet, had been a teen actress in a short-lived sitcom for a few years...

It is amazing how six words can imply so many, many, many negative things about a woman and her character. It is important that we know she dye her hair, folks. To contrast it with Laura, whose prematurely white hair is au naturale, I guess?

 So it turns out that Stuart's dad made lots of money from the dot-com bubble--if there is one modern trope I wish would go die in a fire it is the "made lots of money in the dot-com bubble" bullshit, because a lot of people, you know, didn't--and that means Stuart would inherit a lot of money, and that Stuart's stepdad would get all that money if Stuart died. Hence, a money motivated gay bashing.

Again: That story is much, much, much more interesting than that of Ruben the Pube Wolf.

So after having Stuart's life story dumped in our lap (It's the better story, folks) we go back to a summery of Ruben getting interviewed by the cops, who are condemned for wanting to get the Man Wolf off the streets before he kills somebody innocent.

Because, you know, the fact that he is killing human beings doesn't count because those humans are nasty. He'd never kill the nice people.

The personality type willing to go after and severely damage a person will get progressively worse. They will start with "justifiable" victims--ie, the serial killer targeting prostitutes, which is NOT justifiable, but we're dealing with a murderer's logic here--lose interest, and move on to less justifiable, more risky victims. Police understand this. Police investigating serial muder also do NOT rank victims by "asking for it" or "not asking for it", or "guilty" or "innocent". They rank victims by "people", which means a pedophile who eats children is just as valid a victim of murder as a child. Because the circumstances of the victim has nothing to do with the circumstances of the crime committed against them.

So then Stuart calls Ruben and tells him to come for a visit. Ruben agrees. He calls his mom first and tells her to go help Stuart just in case he got bit. Grace says nobody said anything about the kid getting bit, and that's probably because the cops are sitting on that piece of info just in case the Man-Wolf fucks up and starts talking to people about the kid he bit. Which Ruben just did.

IRL Ruben's ass would be in jail right now.

Ruben goes to the hospital. The negging of Stuart's mom continues when the fact that she's had plastic surgery is brought up. Personality? Oh, we don't need that. We just need to know that she's cute, she dyes her hair, and she had a nose job.

Stuart gives Ruben his pet theories about the Man-Wolf. Guys, this is creepy. This is "Rapist visiting his victims" level creepy.

His mom tells him to stop talking about it, then stalks out of the room...and then Stuart tells Ruben that she blames Stuart for the stepdad beating her and slashing all his clothes.

Yeah, because Mom circling the wagons to protect her kid is, you know, a positive characterization of a female unattached to Ruben's penis and GOD KNOWS we can't have that.

And then Stuart begins crying because he knows the police will kill the Man-Wolf like an animal--the words "Clubbed like a baby seal" are mentioned--and he doesn't want that.

Ruben leaves Stuart alone with his mother, who continues to be a negative steriotype, and gives the doctor in charge of the case Grace's card. And then he calls his mom and tells her, AGAIN, to help Stuart. We also find out that it's been a grand total of twenty-eight days since Ruben got bit.

It feels like four months.

Ruben goes home. We get another two-page-long description of Laura making a salad.

Ruben googles Felix's name for a while. He turns on the TV and discovers that Stuart's stepdad has been released from jail, and that his Mom firmly believes that Stepdad is innocent. This, and all the other insanely cartoonish aspects of Stuart's story, is probably true to life.

Yeah, my reality accurately matches the character behavior in an Anne Rice novel. I think it's time we traded it in for a new one.

Ruben and Laura go to bed. They watch Beauty and the Beast in french, have sex together, and the chapter ends.

There is. No point. Whatsoever. to this book. And nothing at all to laugh at in this chapter. I'd like for it to go die.

Friday, June 21, 2013

State of the CW Speech+SAMPLE

I still have a little bit more to talk about RE: Self publishing but that can wait until everybody's cooled down a little.

The next project is going to be FUN. I'm letting Exiles and Starbleached take a short breather (mostly because, now that I've got all my big players in place, it's time to let them all go, and that means I need to outline the next couple chunks of story) and serializing an older project. It's been code-named Project Dragon since I decided to publish it, because it had no name and I wanted to have the text fairly secured before I did that.

I forgot how much fun that story was. :D

It's title is now, officially, Dragonbreath. Tentative release date for the first part is July 17th. If it's as clean as it seems on my first read through and revision, and it does seem that clean, Part 2 will be released in August, and Pt. 3 most likely will come out in September. I guess it'll qualify as YA, because the protagonist is sixteen.

What's going to happen to Exiles and Starbleached in the meantime?

Well, the first big plan is to get the print books for Starbleached completely done. The Starbleached omnibus will be released in August, most likely. Exiles readers can expect the Exiles omnibus to drop July 4th.

I'm going to serialize both series from now on. Which means that we won't be alternating between the series anymore. I will probably do Starbleached first, and then do the next Exiles book.

As for Gray Prince, my poor neglected hero...there's one more chunk in this sequence, and then he'll get two more novels, too.

Starbleached is pretty open ended. There's at least another two books there, most likely three. Exiles, on the other hand, is leading up to The Book. I plan on there being only two more books in that series. It won't be the last you see of Casey Winter, of course.

Oh, and it's Friday. Buy my shit, Plz

...right. Oh, and somebody did point out to me that my editing has a lot to be desired. Well, no shit, Sherlock, I'm poor. (...that's a joke.) And when it comes time to post samples of things lately, it has usually been one week before drop date, the editing still is not finished, and I need to let you wonderful, awesome people know that yes, the book is still coming. If there was one thing I'd like to change, it's the fucking one-month turn around between books that I decided to do because I am a masochist and also bone-fucking insane.

I love you all and respect you, and I try to do the best job I can. My best, however, is not the best and I am very sorry when I fail to live up to your expectations. Eventually, when I have the cash, my books will be clean and lovely.

I have no idea when that will be.

However, that is neither here nor there. Consider this huge chunk of book an ARC.

This is Dragonbreath. July 17th. Be there.

The ground gave way, there was a burst of fire like dragon’s breath, and I fell.
I don’t remember landing, only silence and darkness. We were in a cave, the ceiling lit by blue phosphorescence, and for a long time I just lay there. I think I was conscious, just too stunned to move or breathe. I remember coughing, drawing air into lungs gone tingly with pins and needles, then coughing again. Something nearby was drip-drip-dripping into a puddle near my head. There was other people breathing and a few sniffles.
Two minutes ago we’d been seventeen highschool juniors on their way back from the Cahokia Indian mounds. A two day drive on endless asphalt ribbons. We’d row-row-rowed our boat in the round until I wanted to scream. We’d seen the mounds, trooped up to the top of the largest, made suitably lamentable sounds when we found out just how many of these hills had been carted away as filler soil for railroads and houses—we were teenagers; actual comprehension of history was expecting a lot--and then we’d all trooped back into the bus. Row-row-row your boat. Glare, glare, glare ahead. Ooh, look, another tree, mile-marker, Mcdonald’s sign, and let’s have a cramp in the lower back, just to add some spice to existence. Mrs. Peterson, our science teacher and theoretical chaperone, had us stop at a rest station so that Billy Bird could use the bathroom, and we’d all piled out because an hour in a vehicle with us would make the most calm of Zen masters go berserk.
Then Mrs. P said she had something to show us in the woods. The difference between poison oak and poison sumac as learned by personal experience was my vote. We followed, good little teenage car-zombies enjoying the last field trip of the year, and the ground under my feet seemed to catch on fire.
I fell.
I sat up, pushed onto my elbows and looked around.
The ceiling was a rock cathedral, vaulted by ribbons of limestone and decorated by a thin film, glowing blue. Cave moss, phosphorescent bacteria. Alien light. Some of it sparkled, some of it burned steady. Dark objects flitted about. I wasn’t sure if it were bats or my eyes still sparking from impact. All around me, my classmates came back to life. Groaning voices, people sitting up. I counted them. Maybe someone had fallen down a different hole, broken their leg, needed help. Maybe someone was still above us.
Oh, how I wanted them to still be above us. Call nine-one-one, direct the well-meaning bystanders—Law of the Universe: there will be well-meaning bystanders and they will be utterly gormless. Someone will call down to us soon, I thought. Billy Bird, or Fester, or Samantha or… Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen … eighteen.
Oh, bleeding hell. Mrs. Peterson was with us, too.
List of people I would NOT like to be stuck in a dark cave with for hours on end, number one: Mrs. Sylvia Peterson. She stood beneath that alien blue light, and my gut sank slowly like an imploding building settling into a hole. I liked her as a teacher. As a person, she left a lot to be desired. She didn’t take anything from us kids, and she dished out her share of bitchery. You could admire her for that, but do it at a distance. Every day this year she would stand at the front of class, wearing a cardigan or blouse that perfectly matched her too-blue eyes. Piece of chalk between perfect nails, blood red lipstick, hair in this 1940’s updo. She had this way with arms and wrists and elbows, as if every moment in life were ballet. The boys would sigh, and she’d turn around and give one frost-tinged glare, and you’d hear another sigh as all the evidence of teenaged admiration shriveled up.
And of course, she was smart enough to see right through me.
“Mrs. P.,” I said, and my choked voice echoed through the cave. My stomach appeared to be doing P.E. Gymnastics. Cartwheels, summersaults, triple axles. I was not going to lose my lunch, I decided, no matter how much lunch wanted to lose me.
She didn’t look back at me. Instead, her hands flicked out from her sides. Grime covered her skirt and blouse, same as it did the rest of us. The floor under my fingers felt gritty. A droplet of water hit my cheek. My teacher shook her arms out and spread them over her head.
“Where the hell are we?” Billy muttered. He was three over from me. One nubby hand ran through his chestnut hair, and his grin was missing two teeth. We’d been in the same class since grade school. I’d knocked those teeth out in second.
“Did we fall?” A girl. Mary Ann Aimes. Second violin in school orchestra. Likes drama class. Once helped me rig an exploding roach motel in the teacher’s lounge.
Mrs. P was standing now. I leaned over and vomited up my last hamburger and fries. I could hear the other kids doing the same thing. I hit my head too hard, I thought, but it didn’t feel true, feel right. I’d fallen feet first, the way you were supposed to. My ankles still tingled. I hadn’t hit my head.
“It always troubles the stomach,” Mrs. P said.
Voices invoke imagery. Mrs. P’s words were Swiss truffle dark chocolate mousse. No trace of an accent at all, and she used the same colloquial English the rest of us did, sans profanity. She said, “It always troubles the stomach,” and suddenly her accent was all hard consonants and knife-sharp R’s. It was like molten steel.
A man laughed. We were not alone.
I looked through the kinks of my dirt-blond hair. I could smell my own illness, and it was somehow profane in this cool, blue place. The cathedral effect of this cavern was upheld by the many large tunnels branching off from it. Darkness lay beyond, but Mrs. P’s voice, and the unknown’s laughter, these both echoed as if we were in some outdoor pavilion. And there were men at each wide opening. Mrs. P. walked to one of them, and even filthy, even covered in the grime I smeared around beneath my fingers, she was beautiful. How does she do it?
I’d always wanted to be beautiful. Not the milk white skin bit. Mom and Dad put up with enough garbage for me to be proud of being cream-in-coffee beige. Having kids when both your families hate your spouse makes children into something like battle scars. I got this one at the Bulge, I got this one at Da Nang. I got this one at Thanksgiving, and now she’s sixteen. This one, Christmas. He’s ten. Being ashamed of any part of my genes would be like spitting on my parents’ lives.
But grace and force of presence were two things I knew I’d never have. I walk into the room, I have to make something blow up to get someone to turn around. Mrs. P. just grabbed you and never let go.
She reached the man as Mary Ann called out to her. “What’s going on? Mrs. P? Where are we?”
“Damn,” this was Robby Bangkok. “We’ve got no cell reception in here.”
His words, our words, all echoed through the chamber. So did Mrs. P’s slow, sensual footsteps as she walked up to the stranger. She was a black shadow, every curve outlined in soft blue.
Her blouse bunched strangely on her shoulders, and I realized she was taking it off.
Everything is wrong, I thought.
“Seventeen,” Mrs. P said, to the man. She untucked the shirt and dropped it to the cavern floor. The cool blue from overhead shone over her bare white shoulders and the straps of her bra. I watched those beautiful fingers reach around to the fasteners.
“So few?” said the stranger, the one that had laughed.
Robbie Bangkok stood up and pointed his cell phone at the ceiling. “Jesus, we’re in a dead zone. Somebody needs to—”
“Hey, Mrs P!” this from one of the other kids. Harry Fester, who we all called Uncle. He had that baldness disease that sounds like onomatopoeia. Alopecia. He’s the one who started the “Uncle Fester” business. Sometimes childhood is all about preemptive strikes.
“Take it off, take it off, take it aaaaaaall off!” this from Christine Martinez. She sounded drunk. Dazed from the fall. She leaned over and vomited into the hollow between her hands. My own gut churned. Everything felt glazed with unreality. I would wake up any minute. We were lying on the floor of a cave that glowed an attractive light blue, and our homeroom science teacher was stripping naked right in front of us. There went the bra, and her high heeled shoes.
“It was the best I could manage. Upworlders are too careful with their children.”
I went cold.
I had to have hit my head, I thought. I can’t be seeing this. I can’t be.
There’s an experiment that involves a beaker of supersaturated liquid and a small crystal no bigger than a grain of salt. Mrs. P’d had to get creative after the third week with me in chemistry class—smoke bombs in the other football team’s locker room. We won. You’re all welcome—made it clear that flammable ingredients were no longer an option. So she’d set up the beaker of supersaturated liquid instead, dropped the crystal into it, and the whole thing solidified in the time it took for us to inhale.
My mind did that. She said upworlders, and something went through me like an ice bullet. It couldn’t mean anything good. Either Mrs. P had gone nutzo or…or…
“The Egg-mother will not be pleased,” said the man.
Mrs. P dropped her skirt. One of the other boys hooted. She gathered all of her long blond hair over her head. I got onto my hands and knees. Two young boys stood in an archway, nothing but black beyond them, and they weren’t classmates of mine. Too young, probably my brother’s age. They held a bulk of fabric, shook it out into a robe. It glittered. It was expensive, beyond prom night, beyond Nordstrom and Vera Wang. It sparkled like it was made of stars. This was the kind of thing royalty wore, the thing movie stars and glamour queens borrowed to make a splash because even they couldn’t afford it.
“The Egg-mother can live with it.” Mrs. P. took a long stick from one boy and wound it through her hair. As she did this, as I saw her do this, I climbed to my feet slowly. I was dead center in this strange cave. Dim blue light suddenly felt like spotlights on a stage, with me being dead center. My knees were trembling, my head was spinning, and I wanted oh so very much to vomit again. I couldn’t swallow. My heart was beating too hard.
My homeroom science teacher gave the stick a twist and let go. Glittering chains fell from it, lying against her bare back. She was naked now. You could see the mole on her left hip.
Upworlders. The Egg-Mother. These words were not Mrs. P.
Mrs. Peterson was the kind of person who had no first name, even when you knew it. She came to school in cardigans and blue crewel work sweaters, or blouses with undershirts and the kind of bra that make your boobs feel like they’ve just been locked in Fort Knox. Shoes were penny loafers or white pumps that came with low heels and the word “sensible” in the advertising copy. She was the teacher who screamed “No running!” in the halls. She looked at you, took your measure, and then used the precise pressure needed to grind you back into the crowd.  Now I watched her take the glittering robe, and as she languidly put it on I could see the mole on her ass.
“We have been out of touch for too long, Moranas,” my homeroom science teacher said. The robe molded itself to her body as if it were tailored just for her. The collar was high, stiff, and lacy. For an instant I thought it was lace, but it reflected the light too well. With her bare neck and shoulders and her hair all piled up like that, it looked like filigree teeth biting down. “The Egg-Mother will have to re-think her tactics. Our claim will not go unnoticed. It will be…difficult…for us to return.” And then she turned around.
The robe’s neckline came together somewhere near her naval. Yards and yards of fabric spilled down from her belt. Because the lighting was so abysmal, all I could see were light blues and blacks, and the glitter of gemstones everywhere. Maybe these were real. I tried to imagine how much that many real gemstones would cost. Her cold eyes met mine, bluer now than ever. There was something coldly uniform about that insane robe, as if it were a badge of office.
“Well,” she said, sounding surprised.
The man, Moranas, laughed. “It seems there’s some life in our breeding stock after all.”
The grain of salt spinning into the supersaturated solution, the straw sifting slowly onto the camel’s back. Pick your metaphor; they all mean the same thing. When you’re primed, it doesn’t take much to make you break.
I ran.

Chapter Two

. I’m the sci-fi nerd.
 I’m the girl who came to school with three or four novels with scantily clad women on the covers, who would trade those covers to the boys for the right to read unmolested. Prom night, everyone else comes dressed in long pretty dresses. I came as Katness Everdeen, complete with working bow and arrow.
I’d just gotten off detention for that.
Well, not so much the Hunger Games thing as for filling the bubble machines with a glue-based solution dyed hornet yellow. It got everywhere.
“Why would you do that?” Mrs. P had asked me. I could see by the jut of her chin the only reason she hadn’t slapped me silly was because she’d be fired. Her robin’s egg blue dress was ruined. She, and most of the other kids, looked like she had a bizarre form of pattern jaundice. Her hair looked like a rat’s nest. It was great.
I’d also just gotten off detention for writing half a report on the first woman in space, and then writing the other half on women’s rights with focus on their treatment in European asylums. Specifically female genital mutilation. Which I recorded, and then slipped into the school PA system so that the more salacious bits got broadcast instead of the music for the Prom Queen announcement. They tried to shut it down before we got to the “cure” for feminine hysteria, but they did not quite make it. The whole school found out about the invention of vibrators.
“I wanted to have some fun,” I said. Because the real reason would take too long.
Here’s the real reason: I didn’t want to come to school in some dowdy little girl dress, and I didn’t want to wear one of those strapless, backless slit-up-the-thigh things so popular right now. I didn’t want to waste yet more time trying to find a bronzer that actually worked with my skin tone. I didn’t want to iron out my hair. If I did those things, I might as well have breeding stock stapled to my forehead. The whole game is stupid, and the boys have it just as bad. The girl birds spread their feathers and showcase their genetics and their ability to carry and feed a baby, and the boy birds spread theirs, showcase their ability to build a nest and provide for the young once they exist. The female version of you look so hot is you look so rich.
I dressed up as a fictional girl, rather than a fictional me, to say I am not like you. I’m not more special or more brilliant or more rich or beautiful or whatever. But I am not like you. I am not a tool. I am not a breeder.
Then I put glue in the bubble machines because making a statement blows when no one’s looking.
I considered telling Mrs. P this, for about two seconds. But you know how sometimes dogs flee a city right before the earthquake? It’s like they can hear it coming. I heard the earthquake with Mrs. P. I always could.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe things would have been different if I had said that. Because when you mouth off to Mrs. P. she doesn’t just go after you, she goes after your whole clique. Disruption of the prom had not been a one-girl show. Eric Masters, my best friend, had gone as Darth Vader, and his task was to replace the punch bowl with a fishbowl full of goldfish. The water had been dyed to match. I heard one of the cheerleaders actually swallowed Nemo. One of the other members of our coterie replaced the school playlist with alternating songs by hard rock screamer bands and Weird Al. But the idea—concentrated social guerrilla warfare—had come from me. Saying those things to Mrs. P would have made this clear.
But I didn’t.
The field trip. There were fifty kids in our class and this field trip was our reward for making consistently good grades. Half the kids never made it to school. And when I got on the bus I found it sparse. Most of the other students were running errands for Mrs. P. I sat next to Eric. We had no plans for the trip, but we made it look like we did. We wanted to watch our chaperones squirm.
Mrs. P’s voice rang out over the bus. “Masters,” and those cold laser eyes are on us. “There are fifty bottles of water in my office. Go and get them.”
“Go and get them.”
You knew with Mrs. P you could protest once and she might listen. Protest twice and it was detention. Eric got off the bus. I remember seeing a few rays of sunlight dance off his black hair.
I looked up. There were three minutes until we left, and I already knew everybody not on this bus would be left behind. So she’d make me go get sandwiches, or the coat she left in the teacher’s lounge, or something else that would make this petty vindictiveness look good for the other grown-ups.
Damn. I’d really wanted to go.
 And then she smiled, an old, cold smile. The forerunner of the cave look. The moment her mask started to slip a little bit. And the moment went on. And on. And on.
“Nevermind, Joanna. You may stay seated.”
The engine started a few minutes later. Three quarters of our class stayed home.
 “So maybe there is life in our breeding stock,” Moranas said, in the cave, and I ran.
I ran because I understood. I understood why she made all of us get off the bus. Eric and Ursula Chambers and Lenny Clark were compatriots in social guerilla warfare. Troublemakers. Kids who were good at organizing rebellion on a small scale. We might be good doing it on a bigger one. Couldn’t have that. And the kids who never made it were the ones who were fat, or who got straight C’s and then went home to Playstations and X-boxes. And there was Lizzy Sheffild, who sat in the electronic wheelchair and stared at the ceiling all day with a look of such beautiful glassy-eyed joy, it made you want to hug her and hold her and never let go. Lizzy had looked forward to the field trip all week, and I hadn’t understood why she wasn’t there. Now, in one blazing revelatory flash, I knew. Not good breeding stock.
I leapt over Billy Boyd, who was captain of the football team and who got a B average, but who would never make it as a pro because he didn’t like hurting other people. Suzanne Henning, head cheerleader who got good grades but spent more time styling her hair, lay in a puddle of her own vomit. These were the good kids. Not the exceptional ones. I thought about helping Suzanne up for about two seconds. But the men around the cave were running for me now, and Mrs. P’s laughter echoed off the walls.
“There’s always one!” said Moranas, the man laughing beside her. “I’ll give a kesol to whomever catches her!”
Upworlders. Kesol. But I was wrong. I had to be. I was just the sci-fi nerd. I had hit my head too hard falling down this hole. These were firemen come to rescue us. These were police. Paramedics.
My body knew better than my brain. I punched one who tried for me, a good jab to the nose. His skin was pale and gleaming under the blue light, his chest bare. There were weird plated metal things on his hands. Gauntlets. Blood flowed from his nose. He missed me. The next one came at me like Billy would, trying to tackle the point guy for New Harris High, our sworn rivals.
Fake left, Jo!” I heard him shout from behind me. “Fake left!”
The last time we fought New Harris High, someone had sent us all the plays their captain would run, and one of them involved a fake left and then a straight run for our goal line. Billy heard this play called and he aimed at that point guy, aimed and let at him like a freight train because he knew where that guy would be now. But they’d fed us the wrong book of plays. He dropped, and Billy went over him and fell flat on his face. He’d have lost more teeth if I hadn’t taken the ones he had.
I dropped, rolled, and felt the guy go flowing over me like water.
And now it was a clear straight shot out of the cavern and into the strange darkness beyond. I didn’t hesitate. I ran with my kinky not-blond hair flowing out behind me. My legs ended in hot-pink converse sneakers and I could hear them squeaking over the damp stone. My t-shirt had Darth Vader on it, and who’s your daddy? written in red right below him. In the dim blue light only the highlights showed up, and you couldn’t tell it was Darth Vader at all. I felt someone catch at the hem, but it was too late. I was running. I was through the opening. I was gone.
Our little cavern was a pavilion-like outcropping in the center of a much, much larger cave. That blue growth was even dimmer, the ceiling vanishing into blue haze, the ground swallowed by darkness. Ribbon-like pathways wove through it all, intersecting at our pavilion like a wagon-wheel. I ran down the nearest path. Pebbles skittered off into blackness as I kicked them away. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness I saw columns where stalactite met –mite and became one great thing of stone. Ribbons of limestone formation curled away from me. The roar of whitewater drifted out of the dark, like a scream from a skeletal throat. If I made one misstep I would fall all the way down, go into that water and vanish forever.
The men ran behind me, sure-footed. Of course they were. This was their home turf.
Something boomed over my head, like a table cloth snapping itself out. Low, slow, rhythmic. And then a breeze over my face and arms. I heard shouts from behind. Jubilant, but also fearful. The men stopped running. And overhead…beat. Beat. Beat. I kept running. Kept going. Kept—
Red light, bright as the sun, and then fire spilled over the path right in front of me. I couldn’t stop in time. I fell into it. It played over my face and hands like—
Dragon breath. I saw this. When we fell, this was what I saw.
--a roar over my head, sudden and animal. There were words in it, “STOP!” but I was through the fire. It only singed me. I could keep—
Four feet landed in front of me, each big enough to crush my head. Each limb scaled and glittering with long talons at the end of each digit. Muscles rippling under a combination of scale and feathers. A size I could not properly discern because the wings (oh god it has wings) were spread wide, another strange mingling of bat-ness and feathers. Eyes that were golden and glowing, the brightest thing in the cave until it opened its mouth and exposed the hot white center of its throat, its long forked tongue. And the heat, oh god, the heat.
Dragon’s breath. That was exactly what it was. Dragon’s breath.
I turned mid-stride and dove off the bridge. I would fall forever and die when I hit the water. But there was a chance I wouldn’t, right? A chance I would make it through? Make it home?
Or maybe by jumping off I would fall out of this nightmare and wake up back on the bus, halfway to the Indian mounds. And I would go home to Larry and Liz and Ursula and Eric and my family. My mother always sat right beside the door when one of us wasn’t home at dinner. Always—
The talons closed around me, as gently as if I were made of eggshells, and I was jerked back up to the path. Back to the nightmare.
Back to the cave.