Saturday, May 31, 2014

Book Sample the Second

I've decided to post multiple sample chapters this time, due to the long wait.

The ms itself is going through final revisions (as in final final final) and Ivory Scars, Iron Bars should be up for pre-order by the end of this week. There will be two more sample chapters in June, and it'll go on sale July 4th, 2014

 The  first book in the series, Silver Bullet, Black Hounds, is...well, under the link.

Chapter one is here.  Chapter two is beneath the cut. Read away, my lovelies.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 15

I am stunned, boys and girls. Chapter fifteen opens with one person displaying actual selfless concern for another human being in crisis.

“Rhys, go with him,” Doyle said. “See that he comes to no harm.” Rhys went without a word. He was still nude, as was Sage...
It's like stars and rainbows and--

 I had a moment to hope that there wasn’t anyone outside the wall with a nightvision camera.
You wanna know what a sociopath really looks like? It's this. Your boyfriend/lover might commit suicide because you just crippled him, and you're worried about the goddamn press outside. It's a social tone-deafness that hurts you and everyone around you. The inability to feel empathy combines with the belief that the rules just don't matter and produces one seriously fucked up individual. Merry Gentry is a terrible person.

 Doyle has to spell out that Sage might be suicidal because he's lost his wings. Yes, it's an accident, but for fuck's sake Merry. Running off in tears should indicate that one is severely, SEVERELY upset. And speaking of terrible people...

  • “It’s my night,” Nicca said. He hadn’t taken part in the conversation until now, and when I looked into his brown eyes what I saw tightened things low in my body.
Yep. Suicidal crisises will not halt the progression of wall to wall sex scenes. And so while one man sobs because his identity has taken a severe blow, the rest of the men argue about whose turn it is in bed.

Nicca balled his hands into fists. “No, we aren’t finished.” And his voice was like something that should call you from deep within the ground. He might have had wings, but his energy was all earth.

And this has to do with the price of tea in China how? And way to vaguely describe shit. I could choose to interprete this as one of those stupid little bells the victorians used to string up to coffins so nobody would get buried alive (spoiler: It never worked)

Doyle moved back from the bed, using his body to move me backward, as if he still didn’t trust Nicca. “No one who has not become a god can sleep with Merry until we understand what the chalice and the Goddess want.”
 They agree that only Frost and Rhys will get to sleep with Merry until they've figured out what, exactly, sleeping with Merry actually does to them.

Note: Merry has no input on this whatsoever. I begin to suspect one reason LKH's main characters are always polyamourous straight chicks is so that she never has to write dialogue with verbalizing women. Seriously, this is page after page after page of men talking with Merry interjecting an occasional "Here, please"

Then they go to check on Sage. By which I mean they all talk about sage and decide that Maeve Reed is "comforting" Sage, probably using her vagina. So Sage is fine.

All of the Fae in this universe need medication, case workers and sensativity training.

With Sage occupied, they move into an "As you know, Bob" about the fairy relics. Because apparently none of the new Fae for the past few centuries have bothered to learn a goddamn thing about their culture.

Gee, no fucking wonder their Goddess skipped town for a few generations. Not bothering to learn about their native culture, relics, religion and resident gods would piss anybody off, and gods aren't exactly known for being warm and fuzzy when it comes to being forgotten.

And it goes exactly nowhere. We identify that the Seelie court lost most of it, the Unseelie court just got a downgrade, and this might be because the Seelie pissed the gods off harder than the Unseelie did, but this isn't addressed. Frost tries to push and

Frost opened his mouth to speak, but Doyle cut him off with a gesture. “No, Frost, we will not reopen this wound. Not tonight. Is it not enough that you will share her body until we are sure the rest of us are safe?”


Merry daydreams about rolling in Nicca's new wings until she's covered in "multicolored dust". As someone who collected a lot of butterflies as a kid (...before I grew up and grew a conscience) I can tell you that this? This is fucking dangerous for butterfly wings. It ruins them. Merry is daydreaming about utterly ruining her lover's brand new wings because they could make her pretty.

Nicca then tries to get confrontational with Doyle, so they all decide that he's been posessed by a random wandering Celtic god. Because WHY NOT.

Merry solves it by prayer.


I prayed a prayer I’d spoken a thousand times before: “Mother help him.” The moment the words left me, I felt the world tighten, as if the universe had caught its breath.
She is divinely inspired to make Doyle and Frost restrain Nicca so she can make him drink from the magic cup. She gets him to do that, they roll around in Nicca's wings for a while and then...uh, travel through sunlight and butterflies?

...okay, who spiked the magical cup of the Goddess with acid.

Then they drop into a random medival forest. All four of them. Merry, Nicca, Doyle and Frost. Random ass forest. Then somebody talks and they're back in the bedroom. Nicca is himself again. The random posession of the gods took a grand total of four, maybe five pages.

And then Merry describes how pretty Nicca's wing-colors look on her skin, because he shed absolutely everywhere. And her eyes and hair are really, really shiny. And Frost does this:

“You don’t want me, Merry,” Frost said. “I wasn’t born sidhe. I’m not fit consort for a goddess.”

 Oh, and hello, wasted potential:

“I was never a child, Merry. I was never born. I was a thought, or a thing, a concept if you will . Yes, a concept given life by the gods.
This is Frost speaking. And that would be so cool. Why are we not reading a book about that? (I think it's called American Gods, and it's by a much, much, MUCH better writer, but I digress)

“You can only get godhead once, and you’ve had your turn,” I said. “Now it’s just extra magic that you have to learn to deal with. It’s simply a matter of discipline, practice, and control.”
No. No no no no no no no. Merry's role this entire time has been "What the fuck does that mean?" The boys get to "As you know, Bob," and Merry gets to sit there, be clueless, and ask questions to clarify shit. She does not suddenly get to understand the Magic Vag of Holding when nobody else can hack it. How the fuck does she know you can only get a godhead once? Is there a punchcard inside her labia or something?

And now it's time for Merry and Frost to make out. This chapter needs to end. Why hasn't it ended?

Screaming, clawing, screaming, more screaming, and right about when Merry and Frost are about to insert tabs into slots, Doyle starts screaming and having seizures. His skin splits open and FINALLY the chapter ends.

We've had fifteen chapters of sex. Solid. We've had no plot. We've had random shit thrown at us, but we've had no plot whatsoever.

This is LKH's "good" series. God help me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 14

So chapter thirteen ended with Merry wondering how Sage would react when he looks in a mirror. Chapter 14 opens with Sage, still man-sized, looking in the mirror.

While it's not bad, the wall-to-wall sex scenes are getting rather tiring and I'd like to have FUCKING PLOT now.

Oooh, bonus round kiddies! According to a recent interview, LKH writes better than George RR Martin.

In re-reading the other eight novels in the series I discovered something I hadn’t known before, that the first seven books are really an epic political fantasy series a la George R. R. Martin except with more mystery, sex, and less killing off of main characters
Having never read any of A Song of Ice and Fire, I have no idea how accurate this is but I am going to guess that it is...not.

 LKH then describes full-human-sized Sage and...uh...aherm...

His body was one long line from his feet— raised high on their toes— to his calves, his thighs, the curve of his buttocks, the smooth plain of his back, the swell of his shoulders, and over all of it his wings, held tight over his back.
Sage is planking.

Merry then describes Sage's wings, and she somehow manages to make it sound like the dudes non-penile appendages are tumescent.

Merry can't look at Sage because he is teh sexxors at this point, so everybody else has to come distract her. So she decides to describe Nicca's wings.

Guys, I cannot copy-paste the description of Nicca's new wings because it is that fucking long. I think at this point LKH needs to go satisfy her paint-chip fetish down at the local builder's square. She decribes everything. Every line. Every color. He has two eyespots that both necessitate several sentences of description each. The preamble to the motherfucking Constitution is shorter than this. THERE ARE BOOKS IN THE BIBLE THAT ARE SHORTER THAN THIS. And as we shall soon see, this has ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT. 

 Nicca then starts nibbling on Merry.

“I want you, but it’s like you are food and drink and sex.”
There's this idea strongly present in these books that sex is based out of need. You need to have sex the way you need to have water or something. It's portrayed as a vital, incontestable, irresistable drive. But no. No it's not. And what it results in are sex scene after sex scene initiated by objectifying one or more of the people involved. Nicca isn't going to have sex with Merry because he likes her. He's going to do it because he's full of an irrepressable drive and his need has turned Merry into a thing. She's food and drink and sex now. She's not Merry Gentry anymore.

And then Doyle shows up and drops "wisdom" on the gathering.

“She is the Goddess,” Doyle said from the doorway. “We all crave the touch of the divine.”
One: Way to dismiss all atheists. Two: Way to shit on the rest of us.

Look, I will be the first to admit I can get a little emotional, even hysterical, when I'm in full on God mode. (IE I went into tears over this article this afternoon. Which I recommend because DAMN) but I don't crave anything in that mood but God. The call to the divine, in my experiance, is it's own thing. SOMETIMES it will manifest for the first time in, say, sex. Or food, or a hobby. But the thing about the divine is, when you push that hobby or craving in search of the call, eventually the hobby itself gets lackluster and you realize that the call that pushed you in that direction isn't really that thing at all. Or, to quote C.S. Lewis:
All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it—tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest—if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound it’self—you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all. --The Problem of Pain.
So to confuse this experience with a material craving--ie, sex--is to cheapen it. Confusing it with a human being isn't just cheapening, it's fucking goddamn dangerous. Many cult leaders and manipulators are capable of discovering something that calls to many people and camping out on top of it. Doyle isn't saying that Merry is a channel for the Goddess--he's saying that, right now, she is the Goddess. Even when she doesn't feel it. And again--it objectifies her. It removes her and her agency from the equation. It even "clenses" her of the sexual attraction Nicca feels right now. It's not Merry. It's the Divine doing this. God is making them want to fuck me.

 Doyle then defuses the situation by saying that "Merry is tired"...and then we discover that the chalice unwrapped itself because fuck if I know.

“No, Merry is like the flesh version of the chalice. It fills with grace and pours upon us.”

The Magic Vag of Holding is cannon, people. THE MAGIC VAG OF HOLDING IS MOTHERFUCKING CANNON.

 And then Sage discovers that he can't make himself be small again--that he'll always be a grounded, full-sized man--and he FREAKS THE FUCK OUT.

 Sage pointed at Nicca, who was still kneeling on the bed. “He knows nothing of wings. He has never flown above a spring meadow, or tasted how sweet and clean the wind can be.” He pounded his fist into his bare chest. “But I know! I know!”

This could potentially be kind of poignent...if Merry took three seconds to acknowledge that she just utterly fucked up Sage's life. But no, we're not doing that. We're going to cuddle him, but we're not going to go "Hey, I'm sorry I turned you into a full-sized person, my bad." Which is the LEAST sage deserves.

The chapter ends with Sage storming out of the room while the other men show up to ask, effectively:

So ask we all, Eleven. So ask we all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 13

So. Last week a preview FINALLY came online for A Shiver of Light, the next and hopefully final book in the Merry Gentry series. I'm not holding my breath for it to be the last book, and sadly it's far, far too late for us to hope ASoL will be any good. Somewhere between the Madonna/Messiah imagry of the first chapter (Look, I have nothing against paganism whatsoever, and I am very happy to not have the woman on my team anymore, but LKH needs to fucking reconvert and get it over with.) the surprise!triplets that are oh-so-darling and special, and the sheer WTF factor of three babies with eight fathers (biological. Eight sperm contributors) and of course, LKH's darling prose, the only thing spectacular about this book is going to be the noise it makes as it falls off the best seller charts.

As for this chapter--it's a goddamn sex scene. And you know what that means.

Nicca had scooted down low on the bed so he could rest his head on my stomach, his hair spilling out behind him like a cloak of brown silk.

Hair fetish: Check.

“From the look on your face,” Rhys said, “I’m not sure whether you mean as food or sex.”
Food fetish: Check.

“It was never my wager,” I said, “and the next time you make wagers with my body as prize, you should think long and hard before you do so without asking me first.”
Non-con kink: Ch---whoa whoa wait a goddamn second here. Is that an LKH female exhibiting agency? Policing her own body? Saying no and making it stick? Oh, be still my beating heart!

“One day of being back to your godhead, and already you’re falling into bad habits,” I said.
I'm sorry. All that godhead shit makes me think is that Rhys has priapism. After a 'godhead' lasting more than four hours, you need to go see a doctor.

Sage touches Merry, and this sends orgasmic thrills through ALL OF THEM.

...why is orgasm-via-touch such a hardline fantasy? LKH has it in spades, but I've seen it in other sources. I'd think that an orgasm without the preliminary build up would just feel like a sneeze through the wrong orifice...

 He wrapped his legs around my wrist and I was suddenly aware that he wore nothing under his gossamer skirt. He was tiny, but the touch of that bit of sex felt more intimate than it should have, more important than it should ever have been.
Oooooh somebody went to this sex scene commando. God forbid the barbie-doll sized fairy rapist forget to raid Ken's wardrobe for underoos. But seriously, where the fuck would the sex crazed tinkerbell knockoff get underwear from? That's a human affectation that isn't even endemic to all of humanity. Why is Merry expecting sage to wear breifs?

Also: Laurel, you are a grown ass woman. It's not a "bit of sex". It's a dick. You need to use your words.

We are treated to the lovely imagry of Sage humping Merry's wrist. You're welcome.

Were the flowers as joyful to be ridden?
I felt Rhys’s pulse like a distant line of music, a bass rhythm that you heard only through the walls at night, as you lay in your bed, and wondered where it was coming from.
Laurell's neighbors started a garage band. Either that, or her kid was listening to Daft Punk late at night.

We then are treated to another ambiguiously described penis scene. It is probably supposed to be Rhys dry-humping Merry's hip, but it seriously sounds like he's just impaled her.

My body pulsed white as if I’d swallowed the moon,
This is about the third time Merry has done that. You'd think she'd learn.

Nicca had begun to glow softly , the wing tattoo on his back pulsing faint traces of pink and blue and cream, and black. It was only the beginnings of his power, the first promise.
LKH has consistantly described Nicca's butterfly-wing birthmark as a tattoo. This irks me. A tattoo is a thing you have to have done to you. A birthmark, which is what Nicca has, is something you are born with. This basic misunderstanding of terms irks me.

He screamed, a second before he spilled over me in a scalding wave that flowed and dripped down my hip.

One: nobody has that much semen in their penis.

Two: Apparently Rhys is not dead-eye dick with his...erm...dick.

 And then Sage feeds on Nicca, and...things...happen. That involve a lot of screaming and clawing and Merry's Magic Vag of Holding gets involved somehow, and the only thing that makes anything near coherant sense is that Nicca's birthmark turns into for-real wings, for real, while Sage blows up to full size because why not.

And then Merry gives Sage his promised blow job while Nicca has traditional intercourse.

I have no idea how safe or fun that might be, but it sounds uncomfortable as fuck to me. Correct me if I am wrong.

I swallowed sunlight over and over; and the sun beat between my legs, and above all of it their wings shimmered, the colors dancing, fleeing through the air, until I saw that the room was full of butterflies carved of neon and power.
Wow. Just...WOW. Merry is literally shooting sunshine and rainbows out of her vagina.

Then there's something about Nicca and Sage...erm...meeting in the middle and burning Merry to death, so I can't be sure but I think their penises just turned into lava. Either that or LKH really sucks at writing sex scenes.

Now, there is one point in all of this where Nicca's wings basically pump themselves out like a newborn butterfly's, which is a nice image, but it's immediately before sex. So logistically Nicca should have damaged the fuck out of his new wings, because those suckers need time to stabalize and harden.

 The chapter ends with them all realizing that Sage is now Sidhe. He's got the mood ring eyes and everything.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 12

You know, one of the most striking thing about Laurel K. Hamilton's books? Everybody is unhappy.

If there is one thing in Gor that has anything resembling a redeeming quality (Not that it is one, because it's not. But it's something you can grasp towards) it's that Norman makes a case for female happiness being tied to submission--and he shows it by allowing women to be happy. His books are god-awful pieces of trash, but they at least attempt to showcase moments of "real" happiness as a result of Norman's attempts to reset reality. He's making a very clear case for his vision of men and women, and as a part of his argument he's saying Look, you'll be happy if you do this shit. 

You won't be, but Norman's at least trying. LKH can be argued to be playing in Norman's sandbox. She, too, is trying to present an argument for polyamory and swinging as a superior lifestyle to "normal". But LKH cannot even make it to Gor's level of insufferable stupidity because she can't manage to make any single participant come close to being happy.

I hadn’t invited him here for sex. It was Rhys’s night, and he’d stopped sharing me with Nicca after we’d defeated the Nameless and some of his powers returned. I’d assumed that with even more of his old power returned, he’d be even more reluctant to share me, so I hadn’t asked. Feeling Nicca’s warmth at my back, made me want to ask.
This is not polyamory. This is a bunch of monogamous men competing for the attention of a woman with their penis. None of them are happy.

I mean, look at that. Merry doesn't want Rhys right now: She's more focused on Nicca and how much she likes Nicca, and how it's "Rhys's night". Rhys doesn't want to share Merry and he has to. Nicca isn't going to get any sex. He's just here to feed Sage. This is like reading one of those accounts of polygamy from the POV of the women. They've got this great big smile on their face as they talk about how much better polygamy is than monogamy, but they're talking about how some nights, when it's another wife's turn, they hate everything and feel so bad.

Merry tries to talk Rhys into letting Nicca stay the night. She knows that Rhys doesn't want to share, but respecting the wishes of your lover is obviously a social skill realms beyond Merry's thought processes. Rhys tries to sex her out of the idea of having Nicca stay for sex. Sage pouts that he would like to stay, why isn't he invited to stick around?

Sage stamped his foot on Rhys’s solid flesh. “It is most unfair that I will use my glamour to make you feel such wondrous sensations, but I am denied the fruits of my labor. Especially since others will partake of that bounty.”
Yes. Sex isn't an act between two consenting adults. It's the "fruit of (your) labor" that you have to earn. You know, like flowers dates or cooking or something. You being a man.

There's a lot of big fancy words I could use here (Objectification, rape culture, ect ect) but the thing that resonates the loudest is that this is just fucking gross. Merry doesn't want to let Sage screw her, and that ought to be the end of the arguement.

And there's another thing: LKH always, always, always starts a sex scene from the foundation that one or more participant doesn't want sex. someone always has to be manipulated into either having sex in the first place, or having THAT kind of sex.

“If I am Cromm Cruach again, Merry, then Sage can’t touch me.”
I wanted to say, What if you aren’t? but something in his face stopped me. What do you say to a man’s pride? “I’ve never been a god, Rhys. I don’t know what it means to be that untouchable.”
You know, I think I've figured out what the problem with LKH is. She's a cover for Debbi and Micheal Pearl. Seriously. Let's go over the massive number of reasons why this is wrong:

One: It's bargaining for sex instead of straight up accepting that no means FUCK NO. 

Two: This is a legitimate concern for Merry to have. THIS IS A LEGITIMATE WORRY. Sage is basically offering to roofie everybody in the bedroom, and if you submit to the glamour/drugs, Sage will feel he's "won" sex. Rhys is saying, basically, "If I'm a big enough man drugs won't touch me" which puts him at massive risk.

Three: She thinks that Rhys's ego needs to be massaged, and would rather cater to it than protect herself and her lovers from the tiny sexual predator perched on her headboard.

In case you haven't followed that link, it is an amazing blogger's analysis of a horrible book written by two of the worst human beings on the face of the planet. (Note: Link goes to a highly disturbing video of the Pearls at a conference on child-rearing, in which they demonstrate child abuse using a rag doll and a dowel stick, and advocate using every technique demonstrated on six month old toddlers. It's not work-safe and I actually don't advise following it.) In the pages analyzed, Debbi Pearl (in theory--it's probable Micheal wrote most of it, or at least dictated it to Debbi via notes) decides that pumping up a man's pride is better than offering him sympathy based on the "unmanly" behavior a man demonstrated in their church.

Laurel K. Hamilton, a pagan polyamorous writer who has demonstrated her utter contempt for Christianity and monogamous relationships, should not be echoing the same sentiments as a pair of evangelical conservative Christians who advocate beating children until their muscles dissolve.

Unless, of course, there's some common thread in the culture endemic to BOTH OF THEM, above and apart from religious affiliation and dogma. And there is. There's an utter contempt for anything small, weak, and in need of protection, as well as for anything that varies from their accepted view of the universe. And that's just such utter nonsense it makes me want to set things on fire. There are some women who are broken, who do need building up, same as there are some men. There are some people who are neither who are seriously hurting and thus not able to measure up to that standard of utter autonomy you have to meet to have any value in their world. It's that standard that is stupid, dangerous, and without any kind of value whatsoever. The highest law, IMHO, is that you take care of the people who need care. If you're in a ministry and your sanctuary is bigger than your food kitchen, free clinc and counciling offices? Yeah, you've lost the plot. Ditto goes if your social justice advocacy is more about hurting people than creating dialogue. The entire point of these functions should be ending pain, bridging gaps, and striving towards a future when all the basic needs (food, shelter, safety and respectful company) are met reguardless of what race, creed, religion, gender or orentation you have. You take care of the weak until they have the tools necessary to care for themselves. You do not shit on people weaker than you.

 And over and over and over again, LKH had demonstrated nothing more or less than contempt for anyone she perceives as weak. If you're saying that a man's pride is more important than his health and safety, you are probably a terrible human being and you need to leave the rest of the human race alone. 

This is why LKH's books are dangerous. They're not just dumb, stupid, unfactual, misguided and terribly written. They emphasize traits and concepts that have gotten people killed, and that, if repeated, will kill more people, and they treat these traits as either praiseworthy or just a part of human nature that ought to be accepted.

A lot of pagans want her out of their community, but I'm actually really, really glad that she's not identifying as Christian anymore. That would increase the risk that she would listen to people like the Pearls, and just based on what she's written I can tell she'd take to that shit like a duck to water.

If I said no to his wager with Sage, then it was as much as saying he wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t what I meant, but he was male, and no matter what their flavor, males all have some of the same failings; and I was female, and no matter what flavor we are, we share some of the same failings. His failing was the fragility of his ego; mine, that I was about to stroke his ego at the expense of nearly everything else. I knew it was a mistake when I opened my mouth and said, “Do what you want to do, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Eleven people highlighted the bolded part. Eleven people found that praiseworthy.

You might want to argue that LKH is saying this ego-stroking is a bad thing. Don't. She's not. She's trying to angle her characters into a sex orgy without having them fully consent to it, because consent is icky. She's also making this a gender thing: That all men have fragile egos that must be strokes, and that all women will stroke that ego until it becomes overinflated. And she's making this be a gender issue, when in reality it's a safety issue: Sage is a sexual predator and he's about to use magic to force his way into sex. Merry is completely justified in kicking his tiny ass to the curb. Instead, we're making Sage's actions be the victim's fault: Rhys consented to the contest and Merry consented to Rhys's consent. She tried to do it in a way that absolved her of responsibility (Don't say I didn't warn you) but that's a double dose of bullshit. First, because she's already proven she has utter autonomy over who gets to be in her bedroom, so SHE is the one who could end this and she would normally still bear fucking responsability...but not in this case because SAGE IS A SEXUAL PREDATOR AND HE IS THE ONE MAKING THE SHIT CHOICES.

We get a long and useless paragraph about how none of the men are allowed to "finish" anywhere other than inside of Merry's vagina. Thanks. We needed that.

 Merry decides that if Sage wins the gamble, he gets a blowjob. The only positive bit is, Merry really wants it.

And thank God, the chapter ends before we do anything more than think about sex and how Queen Andais is a sadist.

And to make you feel better, here's an amazing analysis from the same blogger about why the pro-life movement is really all about making sex have a consequence.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Updatey stuff. Plus book sample

Sorry for no updates lately but I am depressed right now to the point of hibernation. Nothing looks good IMHO.

So instead of me rambling for an evening about how shitty things are right now, here's a sample chapter of the upcoming book. Those of you who have bought Liberty and read it should find it familiar, but don't worry. I've decided to post more than one sample for this book this time around.

Enjoy it, my lovelies. It will be available July 4th, and should, all things going well, be open for pre-sales in June.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter eleven

Well. I finally did it. I've finally bitten the bullet, so to speak, and started compiling ideas for a vampire story.

I've had a back-burnered story for a really long time, mostly based on Dracula mythos, but...well, this idea is better, and most of the details came together very, very, VERY quickly. This project is still technically backburnered, but I think it's going to insist on being front-burnered very quickly.

Please note: Projects are not people. Projects do not actually insist on doing anything. My brain just tends to OBSESS THE FUCK out of certain things, and new ideas are certainly something it likes to beat into the ground.

The best part imho? The ideas, vampire mythos, characters, situations, ect, have ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING to do with LKH. I'm not going so far as to say it's totally unique and wonderful, but the idea kernal did NOT come from Anita Blake.

Speaking of which, Merry and Rhys are in bed obsessing over the fucking cup.

“No teasing, Rhys, I mean it. I am tired, it’s late, and it’s been a very weird day.” I opened the bedside table and tried to put the chalice into the drawer. It didn’t fit. The drawer was too shallow. I cursed softly under my breath. “Do you think it would be all right just sitting by the bed wrapped in the silk?”
Merry's goddess has effectively given her the Ark of the Covenant. Yes, the chalice would probably be fine on your bedside table, but for fuck's sake Merry, can you show at least a LITTLE excitement? For the amount of emotion Merry has shown the last few chapters, she might as well not exist at all. The guys are all like "WHERE WAS THIS WHEN WE NEEDED IT" and Merry's like "Well, it might match the drapes." IT IS A HOLY RELIC FROM YOUR RELIGION THAT YOU HAVE LOST FOR SEVERAL MILLENNIA. THIS SHOULD BE A BIGGER GODDAMN DEAL.

“You’re so touchy tonight,” Rhys said. “Not used to having hot lesbian sex, are you?” I glared at him. “It was a privilege to bring Maeve to her first sidhe-on-sidhe orgasm in a century, but you know I didn’t do it on purpose.”
I am going to write a consensual lesbian make-out scene in one of these books just for fucking spite.

(Speaking of which, I found this today. The second I have extra spending money I am reading this. I am reading the shit out of this)

...the forced celebacy thing is getting OOOOOOLD. Look, I get that Anadais kept them celebate for centuries, but it's also been four months of non-stop fucking. Rhys and the rest of 'em ought to be complaining about chaifing at this point.

He moved the pillow behind him so he was sitting up even higher. “Okay, since you asked nicely .” The grin crept back. “Besides, Frost isn’t really my type.” I rolled my eyes. “If you make one homosexual joke, I will kick you out of this bed tonight. I swear it.”

Weren't the Fae supposed to be LOOK IT IS ALL SEX IT IS ALL GOOD and thus better than humans? Why do they have the same taboos re:homosexuality as a very very specific subset of white, modern, Christian culture?

Also: Why don't bisexual characters get to exist? I've got one. He's a lot of fun to work with. He's serially monogamous, but when one relationship ends he gets to play both sides of the fence until he works out a new one. Why can't Merry, who was raised in modern society, like chicks and dicks? I mean, she obviously knew what to do for Maeve...

There's some inner rambling about what Frost is--apparently he hasn't always been Sidhe. Oh, god, LKH is going to make him be Jack Frost all powered up, isn't she?

Also, we're doing rapy shit again. See, Merry promised Sage he could take blood from Frost...without bothering to get Frost's consent for it. And he's Not happy about it.

“I do not fear you, little man , but I will not willingly allow any fey to use his magic upon me.” “Allowing Sage to use glamour when he takes blood is the compromise, since I won’t give him sex.”

“It is not my compromise,” Frost said...
They try to come up with a compromise.

It wasn’t a bad idea. “Frost , will you allow Sage to lick you, that and nothing more?”

Frost isn't buying.

Frost looked at me. “Don’t make me do this.”

Well, Merry is a gentle and understanding soul, I'm sure she won't--

 “Do what? Let him lick your skin, see what you taste like? It’s not a hardship, Frost . Did you fall afoul of some lesser fey’s glamour? Is that why you’re worried?” The moment I said it, I knew I’d been too bold.

 You know, there's a big, big, BIG scandal going 'round in evangelical circles. A big name pastor is being sued by a former live-in employee, who's claiming that on multiple occasions he came into her room, stripped down, and ejaculated on various parts of her body, no matter how often or how frequently she asked him to leave. She was there under circumstances that made leaving his employment difficult to the point of being impossible. I bring this up because the pastor is trying to claim this relationship was consensual. 

When you're in a position of power, you can do shit like that, and shit like this. If you want to have a sexual relationship with a subordinate, you have to be very, very, very VERY fucking careful that you do not violate the other's boundaries. It can even be argued that it is impossible for certain relationships to fit the necessary criteria for consent. For example, a sexual relationship between a parishoner and their counciling pastor in the state of Texas counts as sexual assault on the part of the pastor, irreguardless of consent.

Merry is these guys' only hope for a sane ruler. They'll put up with anything for a chance to have a safe, sane life again. There is no way in fuck for them to truely consent to anything she does, and she fucking knows it. If they say no, like Frost is here, she can order them to do it anyway and they have to obey. Consent in this relationship is nonexistant.

Even the text acknowledges this:

“I love you in my bed, I love so much about you, but I will be queen. I will be absolute ruler of our court. You seem to keep forgetting what that means. No matter who is king, I will still rule. Do you understand that, Frost?”
You know, my favorite discussion of leadership, and what it means to lead, came from The Horse and his Boy. There are MANY many many problematic issues with this book, but there's a scene near the end when Shasta discovers that he is the long lost prince of Iforgot, and is the crown prince to boot. And his new brother starts celebrating because it means he doesn't need to be king anymore. His new father gives Shasta (or Cor, as he's now called) a long speech about how being king means sacrifice and devotion, if you want to get it right, and there's a line in there about how, during times of famine, a good king takes a meal smaller than what the rest of his kingdom can afford, and acts as if it is the greatest portion imaginable. I'm mangling it badly because I can't find my copy of that book.

Merry seems to have confused being a good leader with being a god-awful tyrant. A king is obeyed, but a good king never asks his people to obey a bad order. Making sexual demands of your people? Bad fucking order.

“You would have a puppet as your king.” “No, I would have a partner who knows that unpleasant things must be done, and doesn’t argue about things that cannot be changed.”

They keep pushing Frost, who refuses to budge, so finally Merry says "Fuck it, send in Nicca" and Frost leaves. And then this happens:

I explained what we needed , and he simply said yes . No fight, no pouting, no disagreement of any kind. It was more than refreshing. It was exactly what the night needed,
So Merry tried to bully a man into a sex act he didn't want, switched him out for someone who did want it, and is taking time out of her busy schedule to belittle the first man for not being "what the night needed".

She is a detestable waste of skin and air. End of chapter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 10

So Merry and Co continue to debate what will happen with the magic cup, and I have to say this is the most passive agressive group of idiots I've seen on paper. They talk around and around in circles about how they can't hide it from Queen Anadais, but they can't give it to her because she'd give it to King Taranis and we finally, finally get around to a pretty squicky issue in the book for me: fertility is everything to these people.

Now, before I delve into this, LKH is on record stating that the Merry Gentry series was her attempt to cheat on her then-husband without actually cheating. This is not speculation. This is something the author has said more than once. So the premise of this series is actually really shallow: Justification for lots and lots and lots of rainbow sex.


Nicca paced closer to the table. “I don’t know, but I do know this: Taranis has broken our most sacred taboos. He’s been hiding his own infertility for at least a century, because he exiled Maeve for refusing to marry him on the grounds that he was infertile. He has knowingly condemned his own court to a fading of their power, their fertility, and everything they are.

Literally everything in this series is tied to fertility. Magic, political power, sex, marrige, symbolism, it all feeds into this concept of fertility as the be-all-end-all of everything. Admittedly, Wicca, which is what LKH is cribbing off of, is a fertility religion. A great deal of its tools symbolize either a penis or a vagina, the little tiny bit I've been able to dig up on the initation ceramonies make it very clear that it's all about anatomy from the start (I believe the initation involves having to kiss the High Priest's penis at one point, which is why initiation is limited to eighteen and up) So if that's your crib sheet, a lot of that is going to bleed over into the rest of your work. But here, the great crime of Taranis is that he can't impregnate a woman. The great sorrow of Anadais is that she can't get pregnant. If you want to get married, you have to be pregnant first. Everything is either bunny-rabbit level fertile or withering and dying away.

This disturbs me. It comes very, VERY close to saying that you're not a whole person if you are not fertile yourself, and in a fertile pairing. Taranis is a wicked king, not because he's a murdering psychopathic shithead who repeatedly battered our main character and god knows how many other people, but because he's shooting blanks and hiding it. This whole "Fertility first and foremost" attitude that Merry and the Fae in general hold to is awfully close to the Quiverful movement in Christianity (in which you basically forget about birth control and fuck each other's brains out, because GOD is deciding how many kids you get.) which is in turn probably the single most damaging movement in Christianity today. And it takes a great deal of the value of a person, and a marrige, off of how one treats others and puts it all on how many good eggs you've got in your ovaries.

I would say that, in the Fae's defense, they're dying out, but that doesn't hold. As I have said in almost every entry so far, the entire conflict of this novel could be solved by a petri dish and a turkey baster. Human science could absolutely help in this senario, and if the fae really were that desperate, they'd be falling all over themselves to get to a fertility expert. It probably wouldn't be a perfect fix, but it's an option that NO ONE has tried in this series to date.

The reverse of this is a line from Erin Brockovitch. To paraphrase, if you've got no uterus and no breasts, do you still count as a woman? Even if you exclude the issues transgender people face (Which you shouldn't do) placing the focus of a person's identity and value on not only their assigned birth sex but also on the functionality of their genitalia opens the door for massive amounts of psychological damage, and equally massive amounts of psychological control. And while I don't think LKH intended even one single ounce of this to appear in the book, it even holds true here.

“We all agree that what Taranis has done was selfish and not deeds fit for a king,” Doyle said, “but he is king. We cannot accuse him of his crimes, and see him punished.” “Why not?” Kitto asked, still huddled in his chair, sipping his hot chocolate. “He is king,” Doyle repeated.

Basically, you've got a society in the final stages of collapse, being ruled by a tyrant who allows no questioning whatsoever, and thanks to the massive amounts of institutionalized control installed here, he will never be at risk for being thrown out.

 Sage, the little demi-fey, then interrupts this by saying that he'll have to tell Queen Niceven, but that if Merry will fuck him, he'll keep his mouth shut until he is physcially at the court.

It takes several pages for him to tell her this. Most of the chapter.

Then they go back to "should we give Taranis back the cup?" and it is page after page after page after page AFTER PAGE of unrelenting boring "As you know bob" recaps, most of which is already covered by preceeding pages, and most of which is chasing its own tail. They basically say "Merry has to go to Taranis's ball and we don't know why" for three pages. Nothing is resolved. Then they go back to "Merry has to screw the half-goblins" and everyone begs her not to because it's going to be just oh, so nasty to do so.

And then LKH shits on the Irish, just to make everything very special.

“The Irish fight among themselves, that’s why they keep coming up short,” Rhys said. Doyle gave him an unfriendly look. “It’s the truth, Doyle, they’re still killing each other over who crosses themselves when they bend a knee to the Christian God. You don’t see the Scots, or the Welsh, slaughtering each other over a matter not of which god they pray to, but of how they pray to the very same God. I mean, that’s a crazy reason to kill each other.”

Something completely unrelated to LKH or Merry Gentry: One of the concepts that I really, really like is the idea of symbols and how they interact with spirituality. In one system of thought, there's two types of symbols: Typological symbols, or things dealing with type--ie that Sage=air--and Mythological symbols, or things dealing with time. The example one of my favorite books uses for a mythological symbol is the story of Cain and Able. That within that story is an explination that two brothers will kill each other, not in spite of worshipping the same god, but because they worshipped the same God. It seems to be a characteristic of humanity.

Finally, they decide to stick the cup in a bedroom drawyer and forget about it. End of chapter.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 8 and 9

Chapter eight is an utter waste of paper and ink. TREES DIED FOR THIS.

What happens? Merry has a dream. MERRY. HAS. A. DREAM. Each of her menz is in it, doing shiny magical shit because IT'S NOT LIKE WE HAVEN'T BEEN DOING MAGIC SEX AND NOTHING BUT FOR THIS ENTIRE BOOK SO FAR. LKH thinks she's being symbolic, but the reality is she's just spoiling a lot of shit for us. Kitto will probably get the power to control snakes and will lead the goblins to who gives a fuck.

The only thing plot important is that the Goddess is present in her Crone form. She's holding a glowing cup. No, that doesn't quite cover it.

The chalice began to shine the way the skin of a sidhe shines when power is running through him. The shine became a glow, until the chalice was like a star sitting in her hands, a glowing, pulsing star. Light seemed to spill out of it, as if light could be liquid and held in a cup.
You know, I've seen a lot of people try to imitate LKH's way of repeating fucking everything but nothing looks quite as overdone and parodying as the woman's own fucking words. THE CHALICE IS GLOWING, OKAY? DO YOU GET THAT YET.

Anyhoo, Merry takes a drink from the cup, and the goddess is now a young girl.

...Okay. I have to get this off my chest. I've avoided it because I do not like picking at other people's religions (I'm a pro-choice, feminist Christian who uses tarot cards and the Bible with equal frequency) but...yeah, LKH ascribes to a form of paganism a lot of people call Fluffy Bunny. I wouldn't call it that because bunnies are mean little shits when they want to be and this form of paganism usually loses all its teeth in infancy. It's the kind of paganism in which practitioners do a sage smudging before their Tibetan Singing Bowl ritual to Odin and Isis. The kind where you ignore the blood-soaked history between, say, Rome and Ireland, and decide to stick Zeus and Brigid in the same shrine. And a big, big, BIG hallmark of this is trying to make every single fucking goddess be a triad in maiden-mother-crone format. Or else picking and choosing goddesses to fill out each role, which works about as well as a dill pickle split topped with vanilla ice cream and bacon. Some of this comes from lineaged Wicca being a closed religion. If you want to know all of its secrets, including who the Lord and Lady actually are, you have to be initiated. I have yet to see this information be posted online. That's how seriously they take it. The reason that most books on Wicca-esque paganism talk about a triple goddess is because that's what they follow: A very specific triune female Deity whose identity is oathbound. 

The nearest thing LKH seems to have gotten to that piece of inner-court material is Silver Ravenwolf. Given Silver's track record (I am thinking specifically of a table she included in one of her "To" books on sigils for various spirits. Unfortunately for Ms. Ravenwolf, it looks like she cribbed off the Golden Dawn's material, and in that particular chunk of GD stuff, the things marked "Spirits" were also marked "evil, use with caution". So basically she copy-pasted a list of demons into something intended for beginners, when the list marked "benign, possibly friendly" was literally on the same fucking goddamn page) I do not think that LKH ever got near the oathbound materials.

My point here is that LKH seems to be making a play for Danu having that maiden-mother-crone format. The problem with that is....far as I can tell, Danu doesn't have the triple aspect. There are female celtic deities that do (though some of them, like the Morrigan, still don't fit the criteria) but Danu does not appear to be one of them.

However, if LKH has suddenly developed a sense of the symbolic between paragraphs, this could just be a metaphore for the renewal of lands and peoples via Merry.

Anyhoo, Merry wakes up and she's got the magic glowy cup sitting on her bed. Apparently the Magic Vag of Holding even works when Merry is asleep.

In the next chapter everybody's gathered around the kitchen island staring at the goddamn cup.

We get a boring description of Sage the demifey, and how the demifey are basically spying for everybody.


 It sat in the glow of the overhead lights looking like what it was, an ancient relic of power that just happened to be sitting on a breakfast nook table barely big enough for the four chairs that framed it. The cup needed at the very least a large dining room table, with acres of gleaming hardwood and shields and weaponry mounted on the walls. The cat clock on the wall with the moving tail and eyes didn’t match the cup...
I like this. I like this a lot. Yes, it's still got LKH's patented Kronk repitition (The poison, the poison for Kuzco...) but it's an honestly good image. A thing of great power and magic sitting on your dining room table next to your laptop and phone. One of the things that I love about urban fantasy is it kind of brings fairy-tales back where they were originally. That little cottage in the woods back then was basically the suburbs now. In fact, lots and LOTS of scholars have pointed out that King Arthur didn't have that shining armor, or those castles, or any of the other things that medieval people gave him. They upgraded the actual legend to what was contemporary terms at the time.

....And yeah, that quality didn't last. Here's how the paragraph actually ends.

The cat clock on the wall with the moving tail and eyes didn’t match the cup, but it did match the white canisters with black-and-white kittens painted on top of them. Maeve had never owned a cat, but I’d bet her decorator did.
This is writing 101: stick with one fucking idea per paragraph. The idea here is that the cup does not fit in this world. Maeve's cat-obsessed decorator has nothing to do with it, and shouldn't be present at all. And LKH is professional enough to fix this shit.

We get a history lesson on the cup. It started life as a caldron, turned into a cup because Holy Grail (I mean it. The legends about the Holy Grail changed the cup around) and then disappeared. Doyle rants about how much he wanted that cup back, especially during the potato famine in Ireland. Apparently this thing can feed an entire army. And then...LKH stops sucking. Again.

He spoke without turning around, as if he spoke more to the darkness outside than to us . “What do the gods do when once they could answer the prayers of their followers, then suddenly they cannot? One day they simply have to watch their people die of diseases that only weeks before they could have healed. You are too young, Meredith, and even Galen; neither of you really understands what it was like. Not your fault. Not your fault.” He spoke the last in a whisper to the glass, his face finally pressed gently to it.
I love everything about this paragraph. I love this entire concept. I love the emotion behind it.

Thing is? We're never going to really address this. It's like she had a brain fart, got one good idea out there, and went "Whelp, let's go back to fucking. That won't go anywhere." But it shows so much of what these guys were like, what they valued, and how differently they think. THIS should have been the book. The return of gods, and what that would be like, would be really, really, REALLY awesome.

But we're stuck with the Magic Vag of Holding. Thanks, Laurel.

We also find out that the Fae gave up their powers three times; the third time the big clump of magic spontaneously came alive and became the Nameless.


And LKH just keeps on writing good shit.

“We could have stayed in Europe,” Frost said. 

“And what ,” Doyle said, “be forced out of our hollow hills to buy houses and live next door to humans? To be forced to intermarry with humans.” He looked back at me and said, “I don’t mean to insult the princess , but a little mixed blood is one thing; to be forced to marry humans is something else. Those who remained behind in Europe had to sign treaties to give up their culture. ” He spread his arms and hands wide. “Without their culture and belief a people do not exist.” 
“That’s why they did it,” Rhys said. “It was a way of destroying us that didn’t smack of genocide.”
Goddamn it, Laurel. This is something that actually has meaning. This is something that we've done. It's something that we continue to do. WHY AREN'T YOU ACTUALLY USING THIS? Why are you doing the all-sex-channel when you goddamn know that you could be working with this? And even if you fuck up and get it all wrong, it'd be better than every single other thing that's happened in this entire series so far.

I can't even say that I'd dread how much she'd fuck it up, because even a fucked up commentary would have some kind of meaning behind it.

“The Goddess gave us her gifts, the Consort gave us his gifts, then one day they were gone. How can we trust that whatever gift we are given will not abandon us at our hour of need?” Pain, anger, frustration, hope, all fought across the darkness of his face.
You know what? I have no criticism of this at all. I actually relate to this intensely. One of the issues I have with my faith is trusting that God will follow through with his promises...mostly because growing up, most of the adults I knew never did. It's very, very difficult to regain the ability to trust, to believe, once that trust is violated. And the guys keep on talking about this, and it's fucking beautiful. And I do not understand how the person who wrote this scene could be the same person who wrote the "let's rape Kitto" scene just a few chapters ago.

And then Merry interjects her own POV and it all goes straight to hell. See, she appreciates their pain. She doesn't give one flying rat's ass for the issues and questions these guys have raised--all of which are things she's going to have to address if she becomes Queen--but she feels for them. That makes it all better.

And then the guys segue into a conversation about politics and how the Fae shit all over the goblins and how none of that matters because they have to deal with the cup now.

They decide that they'll basically sit on it for a while. And then this happens:

“That is a different problem, my old friend,” Doyle said. “The Goddess gives where She will, and it is not ours to question why or where.” The fact that Doyle had been doing that very thing a few moments ago seemed to have escaped his notice— or maybe Doyle was the only one allowed to express doubts about the Goddess. Whatever the logic, or lack of it, no one pointed it out to him.
Uh...yeah. No. There's two different attitudes being expressed here. Related to each other, but differing. What he was doing a few moments ago wasn't doubting the Goddess. He was doubting his ability to trust the Goddess because, when things went to shit, she wasn't there. What he's doing now is trying to scrape that trust together. It's that first, fragile step towards repairing a relationship.

Obviously this chapter is a mixed bag for me. Once again, this shit is the reason why we keep on reading her garbage. Every once in a while she throws something that isn't garbage. Maybe it's not solid gold, but it's something worth having and working with. The problem is that she doesn't work with it. She doesn't think about the implications of anything once she sets it down on paper. The non-con and the dropped ideas are absolutely related to her own myopic apathy. Because this, right here? This was the book. All she needed was an actual plot to call focus to the ideas here. This was what we should have gotten, and we didn't because she wanted to write sex instead.

Aside from that...I got nothing.

Goodreads Giveaway!

As part of the Liberty release day...stuff, I'm giving away two copies of the paperback Omnibus.

It's over on Goodreads. You might need to register an account, but if you have facebook, twitter, tumblr or a couple other options, it'll let you create an account based on that other account.

If this pans out well, we'll be doing other give-aways quite soon.

Enjoy your day, my lovelies. I need to go sit in a medical office for a while now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 7


The first, shitty, piece of news is that I get to go to a medical clinic tomorrow morning. The short version is that I have had allergies for months. Two weeks ago the congestion kicked off a nasty little cough, and now that nasty little cough is a fucking nasty big cough that dragged its buddies Fatigue and Shortness of Breath along for the party. I do not have a fever, and until today did not even feel sick. Today, though, I had difficulty tracking part of my afternoon (in my defense, I'm training for a summer job and that means No We Do Not Rest, Thank You) and finally had two fellow employess, followed by my new boss, telling me that I had to go home. So instead of getting to play with small children, small animals, and other wonderful things at Awesome Job, I get to go sit in a clinic so a doctor can give me cough medicine with codine and an industrial strength expectorant in it.

That's the bad news. The good news!

One: The next Exiles book is going very, very VERY well. I really love this story, I am amazed at what wandered into it when I wasn't looking, and I am really looking forward to getting to share.

Two: I'm going to be giving away two hard copies of the Starbleached Omnibus very soon, via Goodreads. Links will be posted as soon as the thing is approved.

Three: I have found the coolest toy ever. I've been trying to find a decent 2d animation program that was, basically, exactly this for a very long time. And not only do I have it, the thing is free and it is FUCKING COOL. How cool? Well, I mashed out a very, VERY fast-and-dirty doll, cut it into little bitty pieces, and spent two hours figuring out how to animate things. This is what I got:

I made this. I MADE this.
Yeah, it's not the smoothest thing in the universe, but I have BIG PLANS for his, now that I know it's this freaking easy. :D

So. How's Merry doing?

Doyle and Rhys show up with their guns out, wondering what all the big deal is. Galen says "Magic gone bad" and they accept that this somehow means nobody is trying to kill Merry.

I think these two idiots would run into a bombing and decide it's no big deal if someone mutters, "Fertilizer...gone bad."

I just lay on the bed and watched them, because trying to sit up had hurt my chest. It felt as if I’d swallowed something down the wrong way. Something very big and very solid, so that I ached all around my ribs. Other than that I didn’t feel bad.
Merry. Honey. These are symptoms of heart attacks in women. GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR.

Merry asks Doyle why nobody will touch her. Doyle says it's because everybody who has touched her in the last ten minutes has turned into/back into a god.

Merry says what is probably the most unintensionally hilarious line in the book so far:

“I don’t buy that I brought on anyone’s godhead,” I said.

Nicca knees on the bed. We find out that his lustrious brown-like-dirt-not-people hair is down to his knees.

...LKH really needs to get this hair fetish under control because FUCK.

Hey, we've gone this entire chapter without bashing somebody female. Let's fix that.

The T-shirt was silk, a gift from Maeve. She’d given all the men silk tees in varying colors to complement their skin tone. She’d given me a shopping spree at her favorite stores, on the theory that as a woman I’d be happier picking out my own clothes, and the men would rather have the choices made for them. She was half right. Though everyone had taken the gifts, they then traded the colors around among themselves until everyone was happy.
That is a great big pile of suck. The upside to it, though, is I get to imagine Jolly Green Giant Galen nabbing the neon purple shirt intended for somebody else. But seriously, is "She gave us presents and we liked them" so FUCKING HARD TO WRITE? The intended implication here is that Maeve is a clueless twit. The actual implication is that Merry and CO. are all insensitive idiots who can't even manage kindergarten level "Aunt Mable's Ugly Sweater" politeness.

Also: either Maeve got those scrunchy t-shirts that are one-size fits all, or Kitto was stuck with whatever he got. But given that this is the same author who thinks that a EE breasted woman and a broad shouldered man could share the same wardrobe just because they're the same basic height, I don't know why I'm surprised.

We try to explain the god-penis powers. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Oh, I get the basics alright: They killed the Nameless and the magic went everywhere, but it doesn't make a lot of sense in-world. If killing the Nameless gave everybody powers, why isn't power returning to the Fae who weren't present? If only those present get powers, why is Maeve suddenly going Super Sayan Hyper Goddess? If it's simply returning those powers taken to their rightful owners, using Merry as a vessel, then how the fuck did Frost get his upgrade? And why choose MERRY as a vessel?

So anyway, the guys are worried that Merry will explode with power whenever someone touches her and give them back their losing your godhead like being circumsized? I'm serious. Is godhead like...foreskin or something? Are there little magic vices and calipers that they used?--so they need someone who already has their godhead back to touch Merry and make sure she won't, and since Frost freezes things and Rhys kills them, that means the very best thing they can do right now is have Maeve and Merry make out.

I shook my head . Sitting by Maeve Reed, the epitome of Seelie beauty, I didn’t feel beautiful. Something must have shown on my face because Maeve touched my chin, raised me to meet her eyes. “You are beautiful, Merry, and having once been a goddess of beauty, I should know.”

Yeah, there's this thing that is especially rampant in Christian circles, but is pretty much everywhere, where insecurity and thinking you're ugly are both praiseworthy traits. It's humility. Problem with that is, unless it's false humility, it's self-sabotage and highly, HIGHLY unhealthy. And it's the fantasy of every little girl who knows goddamn well that they are pretty, and that they are effectively mutilating their own psyche for the sake of some unknown standard of behavior, that someone will come along and tell them how fucked up their thinking is, and give them the licence to be pretty. Which in turn leaves them wide fucking open for any abuser with a smile to wander over and take advantage of this institutionalized vulnerability.

There's a pop-song reviewer (...yes, this is a thing) called Todd in the Shadows who did an AMAZINGLY good breakdown of why I'm-beautiful-but-I-don't-really-think-so is a really, really unhealthy, shitty and dangerous attitude for a young woman to have (it's the One Direction song halfway through the video) so I'll leave you with that and then move on.

Oh, and Laurel? Fuck you for encouraging that attitude. You are allowed to have confidence in your own looks and talents. Please do so, and grow the fuck up already.

“Why do you think our men have been stealing human women away for centuries? Because they’re ugly?”
...BECAUSE THEY ARE RAPING PSYCHOPATHS WHO WOULD GLADLY FUCK A PANDA IF THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD CAUSE PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE. Looks do not trigger or justify rape. LOOKS DO NOT TRIGGER OR JUSTIFY RAPE. Being raped says nothing about you whatsoever. A rapist views their victims as Kleenex. End of story. They probably kidnap human women because they are there.

Her hands curved over my bare skin, as if the bathing suit wasn’t there. She held me in her arms, and I went willingly, my own hands sliding up the warm skin of her bare arms. It seemed wrong that she wore so many clothes. We needed to touch more skin than this. I realized that I was sensing Maeve’s skin-hunger. Her need for sidhe flesh to cover her own. I remembered the hunger all too well, and it had only been satisfied for me four months back. So long, so lonely. I couldn’t tell if it was my feelings or hers, and I knew that that was part of her magic. To project her needs and make them my own.
...Yes. Because forcing your needs and desires on another person is absolutely okay.

No. No it isn't. You are responsible for your needs, I am responsible for mine. Making my needs become your needs is called "Codependancy" and it is a very bad fucking thing.

Her breasts were pointed with large round nipples that seemed to shine as if they’d been carved of some thick, red jewel.
That makes no sense and you need to stop describing breasts.

That and the mind-rape aside, the lesbian makeout scene between Maeve and Merry reads as largely consensual. That said...having magic be a major part of orgasm is kind of...meh. I mean, it's not like I'm ever gonna get to feel that, so why find it exciting?

When I could hear again, it was her frantic breathing and ragged laugh that came first. Then it was Rhys’s voice: “I don’t know whether to applaud or cry.” 
“Cry,” Galen said, “because we missed the entire show.”
Dude. DUDE. You were sitting RIGHT THERE.

 Merry and Maeve's orgasm makes an apple tree sprout in the middle of Maeve's house.

Merry is the kind of houseguest you want to shoot before the weekend is over. How the fuck are you going to fix the foundation damage?

The chapter ends with Merry drifting off to sleep while Doyle carries her upstairs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Taking a break from Merry for the day

Hi kids. Yeah, what the title says. I got a couple minor-league health things going on that I'd like to ease out of. I also want to dedicate the morning to banging out more work on Ivory Scars, Iron Bars and maybe doing some basic outline work on the next Leythorne book and Starbleached book.

So yeah. I'm taking a blog snow-day today. Sue me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 6

I have a new theory for why LKH cannot write realistic people: She's a pod person. At this point, alien abduction and replacement is the only logical leap to take. What makes me say this? THERE IS NO UNDERSTANDING FOR NORMAL HUMAN REACTIONS AT ALL.

The timeline for this series is rather screwy. Probably the best thing that LKH did for this series was give it a deadline: Merry has six months to get pregnant before Cel gets out and tries to kill her again. This gives the series a sense of urgency, and a tight space in which to work.

Anyone who has read Anita Blake, or watched LKH's attitude towards her deadlines should know how much the lady hates time limits. So of course the first thing she did in the second book was throw out three months, and I *think* the space between the end of the previous book and the start of this one is about a month. So in the space of two books we've lost well over half of our deadline time. In which Merry has done nothing, save screw. She's making attempts at cementing alliances, but only at the urging of her men--Doyle, mostly. She's pretty officially at TSTL at this point, and she's proven that she would NOT make a very good Queen. A better Queen than Cel, but she wouldn't be what the Fae need right now.

Why do I say this? If I'm right, then it's only been a month since Maeve Reed's mortal husband died. The backstory for Ms. Maeve is that she got thrown out of the Seelie court for implying that King Taranis was infertile, landed in Hollywood, and met and married the guy she's been with ever since. A Hollywood marriage surviving decades is rather amazing. A Fae woman marrying a man who hasn't gotten her pregnant goes against everything they know in their culture. All of this implies that Maeve truly, deeply, unconditionally loved her husband. She got pregnant not because she wanted his baby, but because she wanted something of his that she would get to keep for a little while. Not the best motivation to have a kid, but it's an understandable stage in the grieving process--bargaining, to be specific.

And Merry does not understand this. AT ALL.
  • ...It was the bed she had shared with the late Gordon Reed for more than twenty years. I'd suggested that maybe she could move to a new bedroom until she got over some of her greif. She gave me a look so scathing I'd never suggested it again.
Because it's the bedroom that's causing the pain. It's not the fact that Maeve's partner, friend, confidant, and lover is gone, that he's not coming back. It's not the fact that, no matter where she sleeps, Maeve is going to roll over and discover, each morning, that he's not there. No. It's the bedroom.

One of my favorite movies is Memento. In the middle of the movie, there are a handful of scenes where Leonard uses his disability (if you haven't seen it, Leonard has no short-term memory and cannot make new memories, so he's got about five minutes worth of RAM to work with) to trick himself into believing that his dead wife just got out of bed. It works, but the pain of rediscovering her death is worse because for him, he's just discovered it. He burns her things, which the movie implies were the last of her things, that he's done this a thousand times before with different props and different rooms. And just prior to this sequence, he says something absolutely gut wrenching:

I don't even know how long she's been gone. It's like I've woken up in bed and she's not here... because she's gone to the bathroom or something. But somehow, I know she's never gonna come back to bed. If I could just... reach over and touch... her side of the bed, I would know that it was cold, but I can't. I know I can't have her back... but I don't want to wake up in the morning, thinking she's still here. I lie here not knowing... how long I've been alone. So how... how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I can't... feel time?
That's grief. That's what it looks like. It's best illustrated in the ten thousand things grieving people do that they don't have to do anymore: the extra place at the table they set by mistake, and then refuse to remove because it would mean admitting that no one is going to sit there. Rolling over into their part of the bed so that you can get their smell, for however long it lasts.

If Merry were this sheltered creature who had never suffered a severe, conscious loss, I'd give her this one. Not understanding that switching rooms would fix exactly shit would make sense. But Merry has lost a lot of things: her home, her father and only protector, friendships, lovers. She ought to understand that Maeve isn't in her bed because it's her room, she's in that room because it was Gordon's room, and it probably still smells like he was there. But instead, we get this convicting little twist at the end, about Maeve shooting Merry a nasty look for suggesting she trade rooms. I think we're supposed to read this as Maeve lashing out in the agonies of her grief, but it's so fucking clueless it's...yeah.

And let me remind you what brought this on: the studio execs Maeve work for suggested she get an abortion so she can still work.

And now Merry is going into Maeve's bedroom to make her stop crying.

Here's another theme I've noticed in LKH's writing: Tears must be stopped at all costs. Crying, negative emotion, always elicits this emergency response from everyone. If you are crying, you are not allowed to be alone and weep. People must come and distract you with something. Tears are always a call for attention. But Maeve has thrown her assistant, who is just as upset as she is, out of the room. It's kind of obvious, she wants to be alone.

Merry goes into the room, approaches the bed, mutters one word of "It's going to be okay" ....aaaaand we go straight to a random sex scene complete with random magic visions.

So the distraction-from-greif thing? It works perfectly. Same as every other time LKH wants to have ultimately negative behavior--ie slut shaming, the cultervention in Danse Macabre, dressing inappropretely, the constant pissing contests, the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that just won't stop happening--be portrayed as a positive thing. See, it's Maeve who is in the wrong here for crying. Merry must come and rescue her from her crying.


So. Random magic visions. When Merry comes to, Maeve and Frost are standing around her, looking worried. A couple minutes later, everybody's fine, and Merry has somehow given Maeve back her "godhead" (...that is the most phallic thing in this entire book, and that includes all the harem's penii) and has bestowed a brand spanking new one on Frost. Because Merry, for all intents and purposes, is just one great big Vagina of Holding.

So they talk about things. They try to explain how this could work. Maeve then says that when Merry and company killed the Nameless, the powers of the gods that folk like Rhys and Maeve had surrendered had gone into everyone present...except for Merry, who never had anything. So instead of it being her own personal godhead (gag) restored, Merry gets to be the very special Container for the Goddess Danu.

And then Maeve begins to cry again. Only THIS time, nobody crowds around to stop her. Because THIS time she's crying for Danu, and not for herself. Or, as Merry puts it:

This time I didn't think it was a bad day at work and baby hormones.

Fuck you. Seriously, Merry. Go sit on a plunger, go jump off a bridge, go do something to remove your worthless, self-centered, egotistical, sociopathic self from the universe. Maeve Reed wasn't weeping because of "a bad day at work and baby hormones". She was weeping because her husband of twenty years has been dead for LESS THAN A MONTH. Maybe, MAYBE she's more prone to weep because she's hormonal, but that does not in any way, shape, or form invalidate anything about her emotions. People do not weep without cause. And how self-centered is it that you won't allow someone to weep for themselves, but you'll allow it when it's for a goddess? Why aren't you piling on top of her to offer her comforts and sex now? Her husband died. HER. HUSBAND. DIED.

And where in the name of fuck do you get off calling your boss insisting on your abortion "a bad day at work". That's not "a bad day at work". Burning yourself on cooking equiptment is a bad day at work. Being told "Get an abortion or else" is a motherfucking lawsuit, and if Merry hadn't interrupted the tears here Maeve's next phone call would probably have been to an incredibly good lawyer. Even if Gordon were alive, this is an invasion of privacy and some kind of work-related harassment.

This scene is not logical. Maeve's greif here was agitated just so Merry could go in and comfort her and bring back her (gag) godhead. Maeve's tears at the end are to show that Something Profound Has Happened. There is no indication that any of these emotions are treated or handled as real, and that either writer or lead character had any sympathy for a new-minted widow carrying her husband's last-ever child.

I hate this book and everything about it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seduced by Moonlight--chapter 5

Book stuff first: Don't forget that Starbleached: Liberty is out. It's on Amazon, and FINALLY is up on Barnes and Noble (grumblegrumbleTWO DAYS OF NON-STOP UPLOADING ATTEMPTSgrumblegrumble) and it's over on Smashwords. Where, if you are a new-blog-and-book-reader, you can get the first Starbleached book for free, and both the omnibus and Liberty for half off. You're basically getting seven bucks worth of stuff for three fifty.

Go buy things. Go. Go.

You know, probably the biggest question people ask...well, not me, but so called "negative" or anti-fans of LKH why they keep reading. Well, I think this chapter will probably show both why I, at least, can't look away from the train wreck and what happens when LKH finally starts doing the things she's done from the beginning.

Siun has appeared in the magic Siun is Rhys's primary rapist, and also Kitto's "owner". She is also a gigantic spider...thing, and does sound legit horrifying. Merry keeps her mouth shut while Rhys calls bullshit on Kurag. Kurag insists that, if he agrees to this alliance on the terms of one extra month per part-sidhe goblin brought over, Merry and her boys bed whomever he offers. Siun is part sidhe, so she'd be on the roster, so to speak.

Doyle calls bullshit and says that's not fair. Even an alliance shouldn't mean they have to sleep with whoever wants it.

Kurag says he's being generous. Doyle calls bullshit again.

Kurag tries a different tack--he implies that Siun is the product of a Sidhe raping a goblin. Rhys calls bullshit and says that Siun boasted that her mother had raped her Sidhe father. I honestly have to say, I haven't seen the word "rape" be used so much in an LKH book before. Kudos to her, but damn.

Finally Merry stops everything and agrees to the deal. Doyle agrees to bed Siun. Rhys says no, you can't, he's sworn a blood-oath to kill the thing the next time he saw her in person. Well, that settles that. Rhys gets to try his best to kill Siun before anybody has to fuck her.

Siun then fucks herself over by scaring the utter shit out of Kitto:
  • "And after I have killed Rhys," Siun said, "I will have his trull, my Kitto. I will ride him until he shines underneath me."
She goes on to say that Rhys wouldn't have lost an eye if he'd "shone" beneath her. The problem here? The Sidhe only "shine" when they're really, really into sex. So what Siun is saying here is 1. If Rhys would have just laid back and enjoyed it, it would have hurt less (Fuck you) and 2. she's going to rape Kitto until he enjoys it.

Nobody calls bullshit on this.

It's kind of disturbing how LKH discounts the human body's ability to screw itself over. An orgasm is an involuntary reaction, kind of like a sneeze. Rub things together enough, it'll happen. If this weren't true, and you had voluntary control over how much pleasure you got, virgins would never have an orgasm.

LKH, and a lot of other people, think that you can control how much pleasure you feel, and that if you feel pleasure at all...well, you must have wanted to. This becomes especially disturbing when Rhys shouts at Siun:

  • "I told you then, and I'll tell you now. You can force yourself on me, but you can't make me enjoy it. You're a lousy lay."
 Uh...yes. Yes she can. That's part of what makes rape such a violation, and why many victims have trouble dealing with their assaults, or even considering their rapes to have been assaults at all. Rape is not about penetration. It's about an absence of informed consent on the part of at least one of the participants.

However, that last shot enrages Siun, and she lunges for Rhys.

This is too much for Kitto. His undefined magic suddenly kicks on, and he drags Siun through the mirror...but only part way. She's now stuck between Goblin Town and Merry's house. And Kitto won't put her back because he's afraid opening the mirror again will let her through the rest of the way.

They spend a few minutes dithering about what to do with her...and then Rhys decides that he's going to make good on his oath. RIGHT NOW.

And something amazing happens. The book stops sucking.

Rhys wastes a minute taunting Siun. Then he orders Frost to give Kitto a sword. Kitto has displayed his magic for the first time, and Rhys knows if Kitto wants to keep his hand of power, he needs to shed blood. This must make the softer, gentler gifts a bitch to handle--I mean, what if you have something like a hand of healing? Do you have to go slaughter a chicken if you want to keep it?--but it means that Kitto is about to make a god awful mess.

He does.

Meanwhile, Merry is sitting over in a corner, watching and making no comments whatsoever. This scene might as well be a third person scene, for all the emotional investment Merry is giving it. And because it has nothing to do with LKH's self-insert, and everything to do with the two men here, the scene is good. At one point Kitto is struggling to advance on Siun and Merry starts to rescue him...and Doyle stops her, because this is Kitto's shit, it has to be Kitto's shit, and she needs to sit down and butt the fuck out.

And then there is one single paragraph of perfect awesome.

Siun is still alive, even though she's now in lots of itty bitty pieces. Kitto can't kill her. She is, literally, immortal. Rhys walks up to her, touches her, and tells her to die. She does. Rhys has his godhead back, and he's a death-god. Probably not the person you want to maim. And it's creepy, it's chilling, and it makes all the romantic pronouncements afterwards have decent weight to them.

THIS IS THE SHIT WE COME HERE TO READ. It's exciting, it's emotionally engaging, the overtones are cool, and it's chilling as fuck. The failing here is not in the scene itself, it's in all the utter, worthless garbage before it. The questionable consent issues, the victim blaming, the fact that Kitto looks twelve, the "They're brown but not human brown" racism around Doyle and the other brown boy-toy. When LKH takes three seconds to stop kissing her self-insert's ass, she can still write a good scene.

The problem I have with LKH is not that I think she's a terrible writer. I think that L. Ron Hubbard is a terrible writer. I google Stephenie Meyer sometimes to make sure the woman is NOT coming out with a new book anytime soon (so far, so good) and whoever decided Fifty Shades of Gray should have seen the world outside of should probably sue their lobotomist because twenty page e-mail exchanges are not exciting reads. LKH is a decent-to-passable writer who can, when motivated, piece together enough good scenes to make a good book. Her problem is that she is unable to tell a good idea from a bad one on her own, and she has systematically removed every single person who could do the job for her from her life. This is why the same person who could write a scene like this--a newly restored god of death killing the everloving fuck out of his own rapist--is writing scenes where two major characters get glued together by their own bodily fluids. Is it a good scene? Not particularly. There's probably a lot of issues I can't focus on because the preceeding chapters burned me out. But it's a damn sight better than anything else in the book, and it's interesting. It makes me more interested in Rhys as a person, in Kitto as a person.

The reason anti-fans keep reading LKH when her book quality is so abysmal is we know she can do better, we resent that she won't, and we're kind of mourning the fact that a book that contains scenes like this can't manage to be any better.

She also has the timing of a broken clock. This chapter should end here. It's done. But instead, it goes on for several pages. A celtic god of death just got his powers back...and instead of actually letting us focus on that, and how utterly bad that could be--or good and awesome--LKH has to shift things over to how much Merry Loves Galen.

He's green. It's boring. Let's skip it.

Next up: This is not actually their house. This is not really mentioned in any of these chapters, but they're living with Maeve Reed. I guess LKH's copypasta doesn't extend to descriptions of actual places. Maeve has just come home. Her husband has died in the months between this and the last book, and she's pregnant via Merry's fertility spell, the last time she'll ever have a baby with her dead husband. The studio execs that she works for want her to have an abortion because she won't be able to make her next movie if she's pregnant.

In a rare case, I agree with Merry 100%; these guys are a bunch of assholes. Maeve is inconsolable, so Merry heads off to comfort her.

End of chapter.