Monday, January 30, 2012

The dominance game

In the romance genre, there is a recurring theme of the hero taking the heroine. He forces the point, gets her in his bed, and she falls in love with him. In the real world, we would call that rape.

So why is it so hot in a novel?

Both readers and authors can't be deranged, taking mental instability right out. The population isn't out forcefully seducing each other, so art isn't imitating life. Nor is there a wave of bodice ripping in a case of life imitating art.

Meaning that this desire to be claimed is a deeper psychological need, not expressed in polite company.

Outright rape is horrid, is the product of a terrible mind. It is something women should defend themselves against, and is an unfortunate reality for too many people.

Which makes it seem sick to suggest that to be forcefully seduced is rooted in our base beings.

The key differences between rape and being taken are love and fear. Rape is about destroying the victims, about the power wielded over them. Taking your lover is about breaking their defenses so they'll listen to their heart and be happy.

Romance novels delve into that fantasy, allowing inner desires to come out. The pages are our safety net, letting us give into the darker wants without feeling ashamed. We can keep the characters at a distance, enjoy what they do, and never have to admit how much we want it for ourselves.

Because lots of us want the man of our dreams to whisk us away for a night of passion and love, even when we pretend to say no.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Easy way to feel better about yourself

I suffer occasionally from depression and low-self esteem. I think it's probably intrinsic to the artistic mind. Maybe some fancy behavioral scientist is already doing a study to show that the neurotransmitters are closely linked.

Anyway, like anyone who knows about these darknesses themselves, it's hard to get out of them. Even when you can logically sit down and tell yourself there's no reason to be sad or anything.

Tonight, I forced myself out of one of those low malaises, and my husband and I went out to see the new Underworld movie. It wasn't bad, wasn't great. It was certainly a nice way to spend an evening with the man I love.

After the show's over, I'm getting a refill on my popcorn, and the young man behind the counter can't help but start flirting with me. I flirt back, because I love playing like that, and it makes me smile and feel great about myself. And my love is just watching, unobtrusively, enjoying the smile on my face.

It really did boost my self-esteem to have a boy half my age flirting with me over popcorn recipes. He suggests half butter-popcorn, half kettle corn for a texture change. He wasn't particularly cute or anything, so I had no appreciation of him, and he didn't realize I'm approaching 33, but it was one of those nice exchanges that puts a little skip in a girl's step.

So, what little pleasures and boosts do y'all get/take/make in your lives?

Friday, January 27, 2012

#FridayFlash - Writer's Block

Rook stared at the blank blog field, leaning back in her chair. She was supposed to be setting up stories for the next several weeks, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it. Typing seemed so pointless.

A lot of things seemed pointless in the maelstrom of time.

Johan was always reminding her not to stress, to do what made her happy. Telling stories is what made her happy, but seemed trivial when time kept slipping out of her hands.

She was half-dragon in a human body, so time never made the most sense to her to begin with. But as the shift approached, she felt it rush by even faster, and it made her question her goals. Did being a storyteller at the end of an age make that big of a difference? Was it really that important?

Her followers were entertained, yes. She was always perceived as fiction, even when she not-so-subtly hinted at the truths of the universe. It made her smile to have people she'd never met comment on her words. All storytellers lived for recognition.

The cursor flashed accusingly, and Rook narrowed her eyes at it. What should she even write about? Maybe something else post-apocalyptic? She could go with magic, or revelations. Getting back to her vampire couple could always be good.

None of it was appealing. None of it felt right. The dragon part of her soul wanted to scream out her frustration, wanted to call to the friends she knew were in the world and looking for her. All things would be better if she could just have her family all in one place. She and Johan could only do so much by themselves. Even if their love could tear down walls, there were so many barriers between now and the end of the year.

Rook sighed when Mackey jumped into her lap. He was good at calming her down, at making the world seem a little brighter. He purred and purred, and she scratched beneath his chin.

Smirking, she reached for the keyboard with one hand. "I think I'll just write more about you, my little love." Still unsettled, but with a goal in hand, Rook began typing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Beginnings launch

Today is the official publication date of New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin.

Join us over on Rebecca’s blog Ramblings of a Rusty Writer to find all of the details of how she is planning to celebrate today, or you can read some reviews of the book itself on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

You may like to visit some of the other blogs helping Rebecca to celebrate today too.



About New Beginnings
Sam Hendry is not looking forward to starting at her new school. Things go from bad to worse as the day of truth arrives and all of her fears come true... and then some.

When Sam meets a different group of people who immediately accept her as a friend, she begins to feel more positive.

With her new friends and interests, will Sam finally feel able to face the bully who taunts her, and to summon up the courage to perform on stage?

MeetYourPsychic.com

Anyone who's been reading for a while knows I didn't talk about my last employer by name. I said it was a cell company, but I didn't want to be too deeply associated with it. After the bitterness of being fired, I think I'm actually rather glad I never got into name-dropping. Makes it easier to stop thinking about them.

But my new employers are fantastic. I cannot express quite how pleased I am that we found each other. If I hadn't already been in existence, I'd agree with the statement I was manifested just to fill this role.

It is a great role I find myself in. No, I'm not doing any of the readings. As much as y'all want to hear my Miss Cleo accent, it's just not happening.

What I do do is customer service. I help people sign up, and make purchases, and get reconnected with their chosen psychic. I do some data entry in the back-end, maintain a few plug-ins. Easey peasey lemon squeezy. I LOVE it. Was actually kind of worth the stress of the job hunt to land this.

Bonus: I will end up working from home.

Since this is a newer website, and the least scam-tastic psychic site I have encountered, I am proud to talk about them. I want to help them grow and succeed, and not just because it's a paycheck. Everyone involved are genuinely good people, and just the right kind of eccentric and odd.

One of the things I'm going to be doing for them is helping, ever so slightly, with the SEO side of it. Now, now, don't groan so loud. I know marketing and SEO are crappy words for most indie artists to hear, but I can use my experience to at least help out. They haven't had time to do so themselves, so I'm willing to fill the role. It even gives me something to do between calls, and makes sure this keeps going.

So, if you stop by MeetYourPsychic.com, know that I'm helping push the blogging and the links. I'm working most of the Facebook pages for them. I'll be doing more, but I really only just started.

Eventually, I'll make it to where we're so big I can have my own peon. Then I can wiggle my fingers and say "Dance, puppet, dance." That will be the day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

#FridayFlash - Pickers

She stepped over the debris, intently searching for anything that might be of use. These ruins had been hard hit by the last NERS blast, the electromagnetic beam clearing Growlers and destroying most organic material. It had been almost untouched since it cooled.

Bad for the previous tenants, good for us.

Happy faces stared out of grimy picture glass, but she didn't look at them. She'd learned it was easier to never acknowledge the photos. Snapshots and portraits of how wonderful everything had been before was worse than any mangled corpse. Blood and trauma were the new paradigm.

The previous family had tried to outrun the Growlers. Their belongings were tossed thoughtlessly around, anything non-essential left behind. She didn't see any ash, so it was possible they'd made it out before the Growlers or NERS got them.

She nudged at the piles of clothes, damning them for not having anything immediately useful. Tee shirts and half-melted polyester were of little use to her. She had some leeway as the newest picker, but that didn't mean she could always come up empty-handed. A leather jacket would be good. Sewing needles even better. A first aid kit would be a big score.

Even though the electromagnetic resonances had cooled only a few days ago, claimers had already moved in. The big bulk of goods were gone; canned food and medical supplies left in the open were scooped up and taken to the markets. Claimers were speedy, in and out, so they missed anything that wasn't obvious.

Pickers came next, taking more time to sort through the wreckage of the old world. They never went in close to the heat, so never found food, but the markets were dependent on the smaller items they found. Pickers might not find food very often, but they did a sight better than the scavengers. Pickers were never desperate like the scavvers.

She pushed open a door into what had been a girl's bedroom. She ignored the posters of pop stars with their charred edges, the trophies, and the other signs of old life. She needed to find something to make it worth sorting through the whole room, and sooty paper wasn't going to help. Best not to see the remembrances that were eerily similar to her old life.

At least, she tried not to.

Evening light came through the shattered window, brighter than it had even been in the before. Growlers have at least put an end to the smog. The pinks and yellows of the room took on a dream-like quality, as if it had never been baked by a NERS beam. Dust motes danced, and there was a tranquility to the disarray that gave her pause.

Clothes and toys were everywhere. A chair lay on its side in the corner. The big mirror at the vanity had been cracked, but snapshots and keepsakes remained at the edges. It wasn't anything she hadn't seen a dozen times before while picking.

Yet she'd never seen something unbroken and beautiful before.

On the middle shelf of a pale yellow bookcase was a glass rose. It was perfectly shaped, gleaming in an evening sunbeam, each petal brightly detailed. The red of the petals was deep and rich, the green petals almost alive.

All around the rose was destruction; pieces of other knick knacks, soot, dust built up in the corners. There were even gouges in the drywall, a sure sign that Growlers had been through.

So how did the rose remain? She picked it up, awed by its delicate structure, and how very little it actually weighed. The slightest rap against something would have shattered it into a million pieces. The heat of the NERS should have at least warped it, done something to mar the worthless figurine.

A jagged piece of glass tempered by the electromagnetic resonances might have at least been turned into a shiv, or maybe a cooking utensil. The world was too harsh a place, too bent on survival, for anyone to have time for frivolity. If it couldn't be used, it didn't have a place.

But she couldn't turn away from it. She couldn't smash it, or put it back, or do anything but wonder at it as light played through its leaves. Holding it near the window, it seemed to glow in its heart, like it was a living thing.

Tears filled her eyes as she suddenly mourned the lost world. Survival had been everyone's way of dealing with the grief, with the pain of what had been destroyed. Trudge forward, never look at the remains, never think of the past. Keep moving, keep living, and never remember that it used to be better.

How many decades would pass before mankind could make beauty for beauty's sake again?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#TuesdaySerial - Shalafaes - The Ring

Here's a different serial story of mine. These aren't written in chronological order, so it makes them a little difficulty to post very often. And the stories are dark as hell.

If you do like what you see here, check out the rest of what's posted on my site.  In this one, Kyra confronts her brother about an odd ring.

***

"What is this?" Kyra asked archly, holding the silver ring toward her brother.

The Sidhehan lord was in his leucistic phase; silver hair, milky skin, and icy blue eyes. Kyra preferred his true albinism with his crimson eyes. But since she had returned, Ulrin had worn blue eyes more often than not.
"It's a ring," he said, returning to his book.

"Yes, it's a ring." He voice became glacial. "Why does it look like our family ring?"

"Because I'm marrying her."

Kyra sagged. Her vision dimmed, her head spun, and her stomach roiled. A sword through the gut had caused her less distress. "Marry?" she whispered.

"Indeed." Ulrin kept reading.

"Bloody hell." Bile coated the back of her throat, and Kyra managed to find a chair before she retched. "What is in your head?" Her pulse raced, and the blond woman felt her skin grow clammy.

He sighed, setting his book aside. "Is it that hard to understand?"

How can he do this to me? How can he put me aside for his little halfbreed? Tears blurred her vision. "How can you..." She couldn't finish the question as a sob rose.

He approached her slowly, locking hands behind his back. Kyra bit her lip, clutching the arms of the chair. Never one to rush to my despair. Will he kiss her tears away? Will he comfort her, and tell her it's all right, and make her smile? Her world was coming apart, and she was powerless to stop it.

"Kyra?" Ulrin had stopped before her. Fighting back sobs and panic, she stared up at her big brother. Her beloved brother. She'd killed and maimed at his side. She'd destroyed their people with him. She'd been his companion for ages, been the one to pull him out of his despair. "I'm in love with her."

And now he was leaving.

"I'm not leaving you." His whisper was tender, full of the love they'd shared for so long. His face softened, eyes lit by emotion. "I'll never leave you."

"But her?" Kyra still couldn't speak his spawn's name. To say her name would legitimize their relationship. "She's a killer. A wild beast."

"Yes."

"She killed half your generals. Your allies aligned to bring her down."

"But she came back on her own."

"She killed Revkah." The last was hissed, and Kyra's heart ached anew with the loss of her best friend. Ulrin could have lost all his generals and all his allies, and Kyra wouldn't have cared one whit. Revkah was irreplaceable, and that hybrid wench had eaten her heart.

"Revkah sacrificed herself."

"Your daughter's a monster!" she snarled.

"So were you."

Ulrin's words were soft, barely above a whisper, but they stilled her better than any shout. Tears stopped, emotion died, and Kyra was left dumbfounded.

He held her gaze, kneeling before her. "You killed every servant we had just to seduce me. She killed my generals because I drove her to rebellion. You've maimed and tortured and slaughtered. You killed Mother with your favorite knives. Morri is not so different from you."

Kyra cringed, and her brother claimed her hands. "Why Morrigana? She was a pet, a tool. A project only."

He lowered his eyes, emotions welling between the siblings. "It's so hard to explain." He squeezed her hands. The pause grew, and Kyra wanted to hold him, to comfort him. Keeping her brother from pain was one of her life's missions.

"She's stolen my heart. We both knew there would be another after Sehmorelle, but I grew black. My heart was useless, and I forgot it existed." Kyra freed a hand to run through his hair. Ulrin hugged her legs and continued his confession.

"I didn't expect this. Neither of us expected this, even when she was obviously different. I never saw her coming, and she found something I'd thought was lost." He looked up at her, his eyes filled with passionate love. It was a light that had died with his betrothed, that had been lost for aeons. "Kyra, I'm in love with her, and I can no longer live without her. I will have her as my wife."

She straightened her spine, withdrawing her hands. "I shall allow you two to live in peace."

Ulrin tightened his arms around her legs, eyes flashing. "You'll do no such thing."

His vehemence startled her. "But you have your wife. You no longer need me."

He laughed, keeping his grip on her legs. "Kyra, you're wrong."

She rose, burned by his laugh. "You've got a heartmate. You have no place for me." Kyra slipped into the aether, escaping her brother.

I won't be here for this. I won't watch him forget about me as he plays with his girl. And when he tires of her, I won't take him back. She stepped from the aether to her room, and Ulrin was already there.

He caught her in his arms, kissing her soundly. Kyra struggled, denying the heat between them. "Let me go," she growled when the kiss broke.

"Never. You're my sister. I want you. I need you at my side."

She had to admit that Ulrin was much more passionate with Morrigana around. The girl affected him in strange ways, but they weren't all bad. "I won't let you replace me."

He nuzzled her neck. "You think my daughter could ever replace what we have? There is no replacing you, my dear sister." Ulrin bit her.

Kyra gasped as he fed, pulling hard on her. She clung to him, thinking of all the times she'd been his whole sustenance. They'd have never come so far if they hadn't done so together. He needed her.

But he had a new love he needed too. He had hundreds of aeons of loneliness to work through, and an eager young woman to work with. If Kyra were the one to heal his heart, it would have been healed so long ago.

Morrigana was meant to be with Ulrin. He needed her vibrancy, her innocence, and her lust for life.

Ulrin was many things, but he wasn't a liar. If he said he needed his sister, Kyra knew he meant it. But that knowledge didn't stop the ache in her heart. Their lives were changing, and she needed some perspective.
"I'm leaving after the wedding," she whispered, breaking the thrall of his bite.

He was frowning when he pulled back. "You can't leave me."

Kyra cupped his cheeks, smiling even as tears welled in her eyes. "I'll be back. I just need to think. I need to come to terms with this. It's not an easy thing to suddenly adjust to your new mate."

Pulling her into a hug, Ulrin guided her to the bed. "Just don't stay away too long. I missed you the last time."

Kyra allowed him to seduce her. The last time she'd left had been to cure insanity. This was merely to cure a broken heart.

Surely it would be easier.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Making the new schedule

Being unemployed turned into more stress and depression than it really should have. It pretty much messed me up.

However, I am working on correcting that. With the new job, that's not really a job, and having finished a manuscript, and getting back in touch with the best parts of my family, have changed things. I'm doing super better.

Part of that betterness effort is going to mean getting back into Twitter and some forums. I certainly have the time to be posting online now.

One thing I'll be doing is joining Rebecca Emin's bloghop on the 23rd. So look forward to that.

And more stories from my site. More tales from the Shalafaes, because they always will be my truest loves. One of my absolute favorite lines appears in The Ring. I'll post it tomorrow, so you can see it too.

It's nice that so many of you have stuck through this with me. It makes me feel fantastic.

Friday, January 13, 2012

#FridayFlash - Dining Together

Grenwald sat on the altar, content to watch the myriad spirits and fae cycle past to feed. It was always hectic on the nights Rook and Johan made offering, sometimes taking twenty-four hours for all the insubstantial residents to feed. And since he'd been given responsibility, the little pookah took his job seriously.

Rook and Johan were out, and Ernest was asleep, meaning Grenwald was in charge. Not that Ernest was sensitive enough to do anything; his wakeful mind sometimes disrupted the flow, made feedings take longer.

It was pleasant to be in a household like this. Even if it got crowded sometimes. Rook loved him and gave him special treats. Johan had important work to do, but would spare time for the faeries on occasion. Best of all, the familiar Mackey would play with him.

As if the cat had heard his name, Mackey came through the bedroom window, making a tiny chirp as he landed on the floor. Purring loudly, the black and white cat looked for the pookah. Gold eyes sparkled brightly when Grenwald was spotted.

share food?

Mackey couldn't communicate as well as other familiars Grenwald had met, but he got his point across. Especially when he dropped the sparrow he'd carried in with him right in front of the altar. The cat purred, waiting for a response.

~You want to share that with me?~ The pookah couldn't exactly eat substantial food; there still wasn't enough magic in the world for him to properly manifest. But all magic was based on intention; well-formed thoughts of eating could give him a meal.

The cat nudged the dead bird, still looking up at his friend. He and Grenwald played wildly through the house, the pookah always willing to give the cat a big dose of faerie dust. Much to Rook's dismay. Most of the established faeries would play with the cat, willing to share dust and power with him.

Never before had the cat brought anything to share with them.

Mackey nuzzled the bird, vibrating with hunger, but holding back until Grenwald joined him. Smiling, he jumped off the altar and settled in beside the cat. The purring increased as the familiar began his feast, and Grenwald basked in the energy of the hunt. It was delicious, and gamey, and tinged with the love Mackey had for his friends. Many of the others stopped by to share with them.

Hours later, Grenwald was nestled with Mackey on the bed, sated and pleased. Rook came in with a basket of clothes and was taken by surprise by the scattering of feathers in front of the altar. Rather than being furious she had to clean up after her familiar, she recognized what had happened. Putting the basket aside, she scooped some of the feathers up to keep in the goblet.

"Babe, did you know our cat is making offerings too?" she asked, flopping down beside Mackey. She smiled and rubbed his ears. "Do you think anyone else's familiars making sacrifice to the fae?"

Grenwald had never heard of them doing so. Closing his eyes to rest, he nestled closer to his friend, glad there was at least one familiar who shared with the insubstantial.

Friday, January 6, 2012

#FridayFlash - Ostentation of Elves

"You want a what?" Shalafae asked, hands on his hips.

Morrigana arched a brow without looking up from her bard crystal. "An ostentation of elves." She absently petted her cat, chewing her lip as she concentrated on the tale she created.

Her father narrowed his eyes at Elthanael after a long silence. "Would you care to explain?"

The elf was sprawled before the fire with a sketchbook. Dressed in silk robes, the golden Elthanael didn't look like the infamous assassin he was. "It's actually something your lady sister said. An off-hand comment about having a group of elven sex slaves, and your lady daughter decided to make a tale of it."

Shalafae approached and sat beside his daughter. "So how did 'ostentation' come into it?"

Morrigana broke away from her bard crystal with a chuckle. "What else would you call a group of elves?"

He arched an eyebrow, leaning back in the chair while he pondered. "Which one of you came up with ostentation?" The Sidhehan spared a sidelong glance at the elf as Elthanael rose. "Or was it some little storyteller twist?"

"Well, El was a little insulted when I suggested a leash of elves. My argument was that they're going to be on leashes, so why not call them that?"

Elthanael pulled out a chair and sat, propping his feet up on the table. "And she isn't making a tale about a big group, so she couldn't address them as a family or a congress."

Shalafae sighed. "Do I really want to know how you got to ostentation then?"

Morrigana laughed, scratching her cat behind the ears. "It certainly took a bit of debating to get there. But with all the frippery and lovely clothes, what else would elves be but an ostentation?"

The hybrid's second-in-command chuckled, hiding his smile behind his hand. "And, of course, we learned it from our ancestors." Morrigana added her own chuckle, turning her gaze away from her father.

Shalafae glared at his child, the heavily embroidered silk of his robe crinkling as he leaned forward. Elthanael and Morrigana both kept their gazes down. "And which one of you wants to try getting me on a leash?"

The family broke out in laughter, and the room was filled with love.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Finally

I have been waiting on unemployment for, well, the entire time I have been not working. Freelance writing is not so much for me, as I just don't have the discipline to write in that style. My creative prose just takes over my fingers, and that's it.

So, I've been looking for a job for a while, going on interviews (annoying), and sending out resumes. Lots of depression and annoyance.

Well, on the heels of finishing a book, I got a job. A pretty awesome job for me. I'll be customer service for a psychic site, and it will be at home. This is a sweet deal, especially since hubby needs the car for his job. It all works out.

Now I just need to go finish the cover for the book. At least I know what it is I want to do. There were some hard hours figuring out what to even do. Perhaps I'll even be able to carry it out like I want. We can hope, right?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Midsummer's Unveiling ~FINISHED~

Nothing quite like completing revisions on another book. This one had its fits and starts. It's a sight better than the original draft.

All I need to do now is widow hunting and formatting, a cover, then get it uploaded. So not long on that. Means that it will be just shy of a year between releasing book 2 and book 3.

Of the three, I love this one the most. So long as the apocalypse doesn't get the better of me, I shall have much fun writing book 4 and 5.

I will be doing a giveaway, including signed copies, when I get closer to the release date, so look forward to that.

A trilogy. I have a trilogy. That just sounds awesome.

Happy New Year

No, I have no resolutions. I honestly find the New Year to be a little arbitrary. You could start a new calendar year on any date, really. If you started it on one of the equinoxes or solstices, it would even make more sense than it does currently.

I also don't think one needs a major event to make practical changes to one's life. And most New Year's resolutions are anything but that.

Yes, I sound like a curmudgeon. But I am a tiny bit of one. It happens.

Anyway, Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012. Can't wait for the end of the year.