Bit chilly

I Do Not Write

I do not write for the girl who lives safely ensconced behind a white picket fence, never once facing a difficult choice or terrifying experience.

I do not write for the girl who is kept from all darkness and ugliness and human truth.

I do not write for the girl who will never face a choice with consequences so serious that no matter what path she takes, she will carry the burden of her decision for the rest of her life.

I do not write for girls who do not exist.

Winnowill lips

“The Little Book”

It being a list of names, locations, and symbols of a clearly scandalous nature, found in a hotel at the turn of the century, when the rooms and occupants were emptied out by the police for unholy acts. They sought the owner of the book for questioning, but no one could say who was staying in that particular room. It was believed that they had made a hasty, and successful, exit out the window when the raid occurred.

A curious detective brought the book home, meaning to research the names of the women listed there. Other cases soon caught his attention, and he promptly forgot the book existed at all. It was eventually found in his study by his bookish daughter. Both embarrassed and fascinated by the symbols marked next to each name, for which there was a key at the back of the book which indicated that every symbol represented one of a dozen perverse, unspeakable acts, the rather bold young woman searched the names and locations until she found one within traveling distance of her home. Thus she set out to find the woman listed at that location, and ultimately to find the owner of the little black book.

When she reached the establishment in question, she thought at first that she'd gotten it wrong, for she met there a very old woman who informed the girl that she lived alone. The detective's daughter pulled out the book to double-check the information, finding that she was at the correct address. The old woman's eyes widened at the sight of the book.

"You know it?" the girl asked.

The woman's face grew flush. "I remember it like yesterday."

"You know the owner?" the girl dared.

"You're too young to hear the answer to that," the woman replied.

But it didn't take the stubborn youth long to draw the story out of the old woman, who claimed that she had encountered the owner of the book when she was quite young, barely of the age to be married. The girl did not quite believe her, as she had already decided in her own mind that the book's owner must be quite young and handsome (devilishly so), but she chose to be polite and listen to the story anyway.

Each of the symbols marked next to the old woman's name -- or rather, each of the acts they represented, came into play in the course of the story. By the end of it, the detective's daughter was thoroughly delighted, and properly appalled, by what the old woman claimed to have done in dark alleys and at secret rendezvous in the park the week before her wedding. The man she claimed to have been so dramatically deflowered by was most definitely the handsome rascal type, but the woman's sketchy description of a figure she mostly encountered in the dark left her listener wanting more.

Though the man in the story must have been dead and buried by now, as he was older than the elderly lady who was herself so close to the grave, the young woman persisted in her efforts to find the owner of the little black book. She began to weave an explanation in her head which would allow the owner to be no more than ten years her elder -- perhaps he'd inherited the book from his father and continued to jot notes in it, or if that was too bizarre a thought, perhaps it had been passed down from a playboy uncle to his restless nephew. No matter, he had to be young and that was that.

She could not pursue the next closest location without taking a trip to the nearest city. As she had a birthday coming up, she begged her father to take her to the city for the day as a present so that she could browse bookstores and spend time reading at the library. Her father consented, dropping her off at the first in a row of bookshops and then heading out to spend the day visiting friends of his.

The girl took to the street at once, seeking out the narrow alley with the address in the book. There was only one occupant at that address who bore the name listed by the address; she was a girl of only eleven years old. The determined young lady asked if the little girl's mother had the same name. It turned out that no one else in the family did, and that the family had lived in that place for generations. Not knowing what else to do, she then showed the little girl the book and asked if it seemed familiar. The child's reaction was one of furtive surprise. She glanced round quickly for her mother, and seeing her nowhere near, begged the visitor to bend down so she could whisper in her ear. "Was a man," she said, "come by here to rent a room and ask me, should I like to be in a book and I say no, Mama says I already has a head full of stories. He laughs and says to me, 'Your Mama is correct, and I have firsthand knowledge that someday those stories will make an adventuress out of you. Let nothing your Mama says deter you from such adventures and you shall meet me again, on the day that I last saw you.' He then says in a very un-gentlemanlike voice, 'That day is one of my most delectable memories.' The very next morning, he was off again, but he left me a penny with which to buy any book I wanted. Don't tell Mama as I said so, but..." She blushed. "...if you know him, tell him I been waiting for that day."

Uncertain of what to make of the child's strange tale—possibly nothing more than mere fancy—the detective's daughter turned to the next address in the book, which was on the other side of the city. She took a fine cab, spending half the money she'd saved for her birthday on the trip. When she disembarked, she found herself in an extravagant neighborhood with gated houses and beautiful lawns. She made her way to a large estate barred by an impressively tall iron gate. A boy was playing on the other side of it. She called him to her and asked if anyone by the name in her book lived there.

"My sister," he replied.

The detective's daughter sighed, thinking she was about to run into another child, a thought that greatly disturbed her. "How old is your sister?"

"Twenty," the boy replied, and then returned to the game he'd been playing. "Mother says she's an old maid because no one wants to marry her."

With a tremendous sense of relief, the young woman sat down under the shade of a tree and waited for a woman of twenty to either enter or leave the stately home. Not ten minutes later, a carriage pulled up with just such a young woman in it. The girl ran up to the window and waved the book. "Please excuse me," she said politely, "but I'm looking for the owner of this book, which was...let's say it was left in my father's care."

The woman's eyes widened. She invited the girl into the carriage and then instructed her driver to take them to a discreet cafe for tea. Once they were properly settled in a corner where no one would overhear or notice them, the young woman said wistfully, "This is where he met me every day."

Her companion begged for a description of the man.

And so the woman gave her a description, and much more besides, at first shy and hesitant about sharing her story, but eventually becoming so eager to relive the passionate embraces she had experienced that she began to go into minute detail. Her audience of one listened with rapt attention.

When she finished, she set down her tea cup and gathered her wrap.

"But what happened to him?" the detective's daughter asked, feeling as if there had been no proper end -- only an abrupt disappearance -- to their romance.

The woman shook her head. "I only wish I knew." Her shoulders became heavier, her head a little bent and the girl walked her out to the carriage. When they arrived at the house, the woman kindly offered, "If there is somewhere my driver can take you, he shall do so. Thank you for listening to the foolish memories of someone no one cares to notice anymore."

And thus they parted, the girl letting the sadness of a lonely woman's life weigh on her as the carriage whisked her back to the bookstore.

By the end of the day, she had spent the rest of her money on high adventures and a chapbook about the next town she intended to visit; she had decided to skip to the end of the mysterious little book of names, to the last entry on the list. This one was a bit peculiar, as there was a location with quite a few symbols next to it, but no lady's name. Only the single word, "Denouement."

It was a bit of a chore getting there. The journey would take three days on horseback and she had no excuse to make it, not even a neglected relative to visit in that direction. She discovered in the course of her research a girl's school of reasonable repute a half day's trip from where she wished to go and begged her father to send her there in the fall. Being a widower who had ceased to understand his daughter years ago, the father decided that since the school was reasonably priced, this would be his chance to get some peace and quiet for part of the year, and so he agreed to board her there on the condition that they first take a brief trip to inspect the premises. Off they went, with the girl arranging it so that they would arrive in the town nearest the school—and very near the place she truly wished to go—at dark, forcing them to take lodgings there for the night. The next day being Sunday, there was no means of travel available to take them the last leg of the journey until Monday. The girl's father settled down at the local pub, and the girl set out to explore her surroundings.

The final address in the little book took her to a small cottage with smoke rising from the chimney. She knocked on the door. There was no answer. She threw propriety to the wind and walked in.

A man sat by the front window, staring at the little garden just outside.

It had to be him, she was sure of it the moment their eyes met, as all the requirements for dashing, reckless, handsome, and even devilish were met in his appearance, which was, she guessed, a reasonable fifteen years beyond her own age.

The book was hidden behind her back. She felt no need to draw it out immediately, for there was the possibility that once she presented it, he would merely thank her and send her on her way.

However, without the book as a subject for conversation, she didn't know exactly what to say.

The man smiled at her, inclining his head in a slight nod. "Good morning."

"Good morning," she replied, shifting from foot to foot. She noticed a pile of papers scattered on the desk before him, and a quill in one hand. "What are you doing?"

"Someone suggested to me that I might write the story of my life," he replied, "though it is of questionable value to anyone except myself."

"I should like to read a life's story," the girl said cheerfully, "if it is not too short. You seem too young to fill many pages!" It was a test; she wanted to know for sure that he was not one of those elderly fellows who looked deceptively dapper under the right lighting conditions.

He chuckled. "I have thirty chapters already."

The young lady's eyes widened. There were thirty-one names in the little black book. She'd counted them a hundred times, just in case the information would be useful to her.

"Is it done?" she asked tentatively.

His eyes sparkled as he assessed her in a way that a man would be slapped for in public. "All that's left is my denouement."

There was a clatter as the little black book slipped from the fingers of the detective's daughter. She scooped it off the floor, but it was too late to hide it, so she held it tightly to her chest as his gaze rested on it. Or on her chest, she wasn't sure which.

"By any chance," she said, finding her voice raspy as she struggled to breath adequately, "is this yours?"

He abandoned his chair for a closer look. When he was close enough to see the freckles on her collar bone, he stopped. "What does it say?"

She opened to the first page and began to read the names. The symbols, of course, could not be read aloud as they were not words, and the words they did stand for were too offensive to tender ears be read aloud.

"It sounds familiar," he said softly, his words close to her ear. "How does it end?"

She turned to the last page and read three names. Then she came to the last, at which point it was all she could do to whisper, "Denouement."

He shut the book as he took it from her hands, slipping it into the pocket of the coat he wore. He glanced down at her still-blossoming figure, which retained some of the soft edges of childhood. "I seem to be a little early."

"I don't think so," she replied.

"Then it hardly matters if we meet to-day," he said, his breath now hot against her neck, "or two years from now. Either way, you were meant to stop by this cottage on your journey home from school--"

"Journey to school," she corrected.

He laughed. "And I was meant to be here waiting for you." His lips pressed against the curve of her jaw, at which point her breathing stopped entirely, her mind rapidly sorting through the symbols that had been drawn next to that final entry, their order and meaning taking on a new and thrilling light in the present circumstances.

"Then we'd better begin," she said, turning her lips to his, "writing the finish to your story, for I am dying to read it."

And thus it was that the detective's daughter solved the mystery of the little black book, and became the most fondly remembered entry within it.


Generation Yes, Baby!

Generation Y is terrifying its elders, just like every generation does. But instead of being degenerates who play their music too loud, this generation is being accused of being too ambitious, too confident, too optimistic about the future. Where is their lack of self-esteem? Their sense of hopelessness in the face of a recession? Why don’t they hate themselves when they’re out of work like the older generation does, dammit?

Um, these are complaints? That’s hilarious.  (You can read about said complaints in this article, if you want a sense of what I’m responding to before you continue.)

I’ve also heard they’re difficult employees, because they have high expectations and think they’re qualified to do all sorts of things and don’t know how to take direction. Well, let me tell you something.  I live in Los Angeles. Every other person I meet is a narcissist. Kids with theoretically overconfident attitudes can’t hold a candle to hardcore narcissism – and even narcissists can be handled by a boss, if the boss knows how to deal with them.

I don’t fear this generation. I kind of like them, especially when they’re sitting next to a slacker. There’s a whopping difference between someone who moves in with their parents while they pursue a better job than 7-11, and someone who moves in with their parents because they don’t want to work at all, not even at 7-11. 

Let’s say I’ve run a company. Let’s say I had many employees, both full-time and freelance, who I had to give direction to and depended on for the success of the company. Let’s say I had one of the Gen Y types and also a less confident, slightly older, Gen Slacker type. Gen Y got their work done on time – sometimes early. They kept asking what they could do to get promoted – as in, what *work* they could do to *earn* a promotion. They came into work every single day.  Meanwhile, Gen Slacker was usually several months behind on their work. When they didn’t finish something, they were full of excuses. They tended to want to go home early. Even when they were excited about something and confident that they could do it . . . they couldn’t turn in competent work by the deadline. This deflated their confidence and made them retreat to the corner where they sulked instead of working, which led to their being even further behind.

Oh, gee. Let me think which generation I’d rather work with as a boss.

One last thought:  The truth is, it’s ridiculous to lump everyone in a single generation into one category. Gen Y has its slackers, and us old fogies have our confident, ambitious types who are ridiculously stubborn and don’t let anything stop them. Not that I would know anything about that, or about having an overconfident ego. ;-)



I've been tagged by Jaime Reed over on her savvy blog (of which I happen to be a fan).  The rules of being tagged are simple: finish each sentence, then tag three people to do the same on their blogs.  The original sentences are on Rebecca Knight's blog, but I like the favorites-style format that Jaime came up with, so that's what I'm going with.


Favorite color: Navy
Favorite action scene in a movie: I'm waiting to see Hit-Girl in action before I answer that one.
Favorite breakfast cereal: Cheerios
Favorite toy as a kid: My Little Pony
Favorite 80’s group: Listened to classical music in the 80's.
Favorite 90’s group: Can't I pick someone from the 60's?
Craziest dream you can remember: Making out with a stoned Brad Pitt inside a Mormon temple.
Biggest fear/phobia: Me and the black widows, we have a silent war.
Left-handed or right-handed: Leftie
What’s odd about you: What isn't?  I've been strange from birth.  The bat signal is a birthmark on the back of my left hand (I ain't kiddin').  My name has no "e" (Audry).  I'm a skinny blonde who was never asked out on a date in high school (we don't always get everything we want).  I know how to program in BASIC.  My adult career has consisted mostly of inventing the jobs I want and then living off of them.
What’s cool about you: Nothing, but I wear cool sunglasses.
Red pill or blue pill: I answered this question in real life.  That's why I'm an ex-Mormon.
Cats or dogs: Horses.
What do you envy about boys: That they get to hang out with other boys . . . naked in the locker room.
What do you envy about girls: Most of them have actual social skills in public, unlike me.
What your favorite sound: Can't mention it in public.
Least favorite sound: "You're in publishing? I have this idea for a story about dentistry..."
Dream car: The Batmobile.  Every version.
Dream vacation: It probably involves a dank, eerie castle with hidden passageways.
What are you reading now: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Favorite mythical creature/ monster: TEAM UNICORN!
What turns you on: The switch in front.
What turns you off: The switch in back.
Favorite curse word: Puro fuckiando.
Favorite word: "The" – it starts things.
Least favorite word: The long, fancy one you looked up in the dictionary and then used incorrectly just to sound impressive.
Best invention in history: The printing press.
Dream occupation: It's not a dream.  It's what I am.  I tell stories.  Anything else is just passing time until Death knocks on the door to collect my final manuscript.
If you could go back in time and tell the 10 year-old you one thing, what would it be?:  Keep asking questions, kid.

Now, as the rules dictate I have to tag 3 people (which I will do with Twitter names), so here goes:




Y'all are it!  So tell me some stuff I don't know about you!

Bit chilly

The Hidden Bully

I was not bullied in school.  I was not a bully, either.  Or at least, I didn't believe I was.

But when you stand aside and let others behave cruelly, does that make you any better than the bullies?  And just because I was passive and quiet, did that mean I was a "nice girl" like I thought I was?

What about that night in Junior High when I ran through a field with my friends, one of the girls lagging behind the rest, begging us to stop and wait for her, and finally collapsing on the ground because physical problems wouldn't allow her to keep up with us?  Someone else said we should leave her there, so we did.  Alone.  But it wasn't my idea, and I felt bad for her, so it wasn't my fault . . . right?

What about that stomach-clenching day in High School when one of my closest friends pulled me aside to say, "If you sit with that girl at lunch again today, you are going to sit alone with her.  We are moving to another table.  Come with us."  I said I couldn't.  I sat with the girl nobody else would sit with and listened to her talk about the sequel she dreamed of writing for her favorite movie (dreamed of me writing it for her) and all I could think about was how much I missed my friends.  I had no common ground with her, nothing to talk about, and I was too self-involved to care about her interests, but I was the "nice girl" and so I did the "nice thing" and continued to sit with her.  My friends didn't hate me or ostracize me for doing it, though they did insist that I not hang out with her while I was hanging out with them during the rest of the school day.  I lost nothing more than an hour of my time on weekdays by eating with her.  But when the semester ended, I went out of my way to make sure my classes did not sync with hers, and that we did not share the same lunch hour anymore.  I ignored her in the hallway.  I ignored her everywhere.  I did not even have the courage to say I no longer wanted to be her friend; I cut her off cold the first day of the new semester.  But that didn't make me cruel . . . did it?

And what about the note I slipped into another girl's locker -- back in seventh grade when I was so desperately alone and so terribly envious of the close friendship of two girls I admired -- the note that told a girl (one I secretly wanted to be friends with) in no uncertain terms that she was a horrible sinner destined for Hell?  I happened to come down the hall later when she was standing at her locker, note crumpled in her trembling hand, sobbing against her best friend's shoulder.  Her best friend accused me of writing it; I stared at her blankly and denied it.  They never spoke to me again.  But they had barely spoken to me to begin with, and deep down, I felt like I was the one who had been wronged, even though I knew, consciously, that I was the one who had wronged them.

I was never popular, never important in the hierarchy of any of the schools I attended, which were many.  I thought of myself as the outsider, who could stand safely on the sidelines and watch as others fought for their positions on the food chain.  I thought that my standing by and doing nothing didn't have much impact on the lives of others.

But I still wonder, so many years later, what would have happened if I'd stood up for the girl they gossiped about, who was physically harassed by some guys on the back stairs for her weight, even if I was a nobody who assumed nobody would listen to her?  What would have happened if I'd said "Hi!" to the guy I thought was cute, who I passed by in the hall without a word because he had a thick accent and dark skin and was an outsider himself and, above all else, didn't go to my church?  What would have resulted if I had started that petition after all, the one I told my friends about, in which I accused one of our teachers of speaking to, looking at, and touching female students inappropriately, after he did so to one of my friends?  The one which that very friend talked me out of starting, because she was afraid of how she would be treated by others, if others knew?  Did I set it down because she asked me, or because suddenly I was afraid of how I might be treated as the one who stood up against a teacher in the first place?

The bullies who lead the clique aren't the only issue, and aren't the only kind of bully.  There are also the follower bullies who join in, those who deny their own behavior because it feels justified, those who are hiding inside skins of authority or adulthood, and those who stand by, watching in silence as someone else's life is ruined simply because they are not the ones being persecuted.  In the course of your life, which kind of bully have you been?

(Inspired by Young Adult Authors Against Bullying.)


My Kingdom for a MEME

I'm not allowed to do any more work on the "Golden Vampires" manuscript until my "built-in editor" (David) finishes critiquing it.  To keep myself from going crazy from the desperate need to write, I finished this completely pointless YA WIP MEME:


(Young Adult "Work in Progress" Meme)

Instruction: Use code names for all of the characters to help convey a little bit of their personality.

Number of shirtless scenes:

Male 10

Female 10

Number of no pants scenes:


Strangest quote out of context:

"The undead have never gotten into your crypt before."

Most embarrassing thing a character says:

"Don't flatter yourself that he'll even look your way," Mama chided. "You're too young for a grown-up."

List of taboos broken and/or sins committed:

Lewd thoughts in a church; teenager making a pass at a guy hundreds of years older than her; zombie smut; sexist bastard who seduces teenage girls; murder; rape; drinking; smoking; buff nekkidness; violent battle in which someone is shot; abduction; telepathic rape; slavery; one teddy bear with its eye ripped off.

Sneakiest homage:

"I'm so, so sorry." (Doctor Who reference.)

Weirdest creature, location or character:

A teenage boy who keeps acting like a cat.

States you think your book will be banned in:

All of them. (Except for TX, where it will be used as target practice.)

Amount of profanity, on a scale of 1 to Yikes!:

Yikes -- in three languages.

Number of tragically dead or conveniently missing parental figures:


Number of Evil Cheerleaders, Evil Blondes, and/or Evil Queen Bees:


List all the races, nationalities, and species of your book's core characters:

An abundance of W.A.S.P.s



Indian-American (Hindu)

Native-American (Huichol)





Quote one sentence only from a cliffhanger in your manuscript (a chapter ending, for example):

As he leaned in to answer my question with his hot, open mouth, a distant scream tore through my perfect moment, ripping from my grasp the only hope I had of tasting the kiss of a lifetime.


On pirate fetishes


Damn, I miss this project, even though I couldn't write for crap when I was working on it.



When she reached the narrow plank set between the two ships, she paused, reconsidering her decision. She glanced back; the man whose only hobby seemed to be chasing her across the universe was right on her heels.

Screw it! she thought, and mounted the plank.

As she crossed, she saw the sea so far, far, far below her -- and tripped. She managed to correct her balance just in time; those precious moments, however, closed the gap between her and her pursuer. His fingers grabbed her by the throat.

"And now you are finished," he said as he drew the tip of the sword to her chest.

The air was filled with the noises of battle; of screams, and clanging, and breaking, and smashing. One would think a single sound would not be discernable amongst all the chaos, yet Brynn heard through all the ruckus a quiet click by her ear. Her eyes rolled sideways to see what it was just as the man holding her looked over her shoulder, having also heard the sound.

The Captain's peculiar gun was cocked and pointed at the head of Brynn's enemy.

"Shit," the man said, hatred rushing into his eyes.

The Captain fired. The bullet burst through the man's skull.  His body swayed, and then fell over the side of the plank. His fingers still wrapped around her throat, he took Brynn with him.

As the corpse pulled her over the edge, the Captain reached out and grabbed her hand. She held on to him with every bit of strength contained in her body as the dead man's rigid grip threatened to tear her away. The corpse was at last ripped from her throat by gravity, and he fell alone into the tumultuous waves below. As his body sank to invisible depths, Brynn glimpsed a silver fin slipping toward it through the water.

The Captain's hand recoiled, pulling her back with it, up over the side of the plank, and straight into his arms. She stood there, involuntarily pressed against him, staring at the thin thread of smoke streaming from his gun, and trembled with terror and warmth.

"Were you going to leave me?" he asked.

She opened her mouth to reply, and he kissed her.

There was a violence in his lips that was so intense, she feared its power even as his mouth caressed her tenderly. But it was the tenderness that she was having a harder time with, because it defied everything she thought of him as being, and made her determination to resist him crumble away as easily as a burnt log that is nothing more than dust. She could feel her own body betraying her as it leaned into his embrace, and she tried to tell it to stand fast, not to give in to the ravaging temptations of so cruel a man, even if he had just saved her life. But her own flesh refused to obey her. Her body relaxed into his kiss, and he responded by pressing her harder against him.


The voice startled Brynn enough that she regained some of her composure, and managed to look for its owner.

It was Alexander. He stood at the end of the plank. He had spoken in a quiet voice, one that could easily be ignored if his captain did not wish to acknowledge it.

The Captain chose to withdraw from Brynn, just enough to speak. "What?"

"We have the warship's captain, sir."

"Bring him to me."

"Yes, sir," Alexander said, and left at once.

"Is the fighting over?" Brynn whispered.

"No," he said, his voice aching. His expression wavered a moment between conscious thought and sensuous oblivion. Then he took a deep breath, and some slight change came over his features. "Yes. When a captain falls, his ship falls." He wrapped an arm around her, and led her carefully back to his ship.

"Why was that man after you?" he asked when they were safely off the plank.

"I don't know," she said. It was the truth; it just wasn't the whole truth. She was trembling. He slid his arms around her from behind. Her trembling increased.

"What aren't you telling me?" he wondered.

Alexander and several other members of the crew brought forward a man with his hands bound behind him. He looked the same as all the other king's men in his humble clothes and sheltered head, except that he had a jeweled medallion hanging from his neck. He was forced to kneel before the Captain. He kept his eyes on the floor, and never once glanced up at his captor.

The Captain turned his attention to prisoner. "You have lost."

"Yes, Master. I surrender my ship to you."

"Do not call me master.  I am not the one who owns you," the Captain said, his words sharp.

"Yes, noble sir."

"Yours is a warship of the king?"

"Yes, the bless...the king, noble sir."

"Why was there an assassin on it?"

"I know of no assassin."

Brynn felt the Captain's arms tighten around her. "You will tell me what he was doing on your ship, or I will hang you from the yardarm by your intestines."

"He appeared aboard --"


"It was a miracle, sir. We were three days out to sea. There was no land, no other boats. He came into my cabin through a glowing light. He could only have been from..."  The man hesitated.

"You are afraid to speak of the celestial before a demon," the Captain said dryly.

"I know nothing of demons, good sir," the man said quickly.

"What did he say to you?"

"That I should do as I was told, for the glory of the king, and to fulfill the will of the Protector."

That elicited a brief growl from deep in the Captain's throat. "Continue."

"We changed our course. It took us to you. All I was told, was to engage you. That was all. Anything that may have happened beyond that, was not my planning."

"To the slaughter," his captor murmured, "for a girl."

Brynn flinched. He felt it. He looked at her. "I think the man has told us all he can."

"But I haven't?" Brynn retorted. She could feel her defenses rising.

He released her. She moved away, wrapping her arms around her chest as she did so. He drew a hand-rolled cigarette from his pocket and brought it to his lips; this one was longer and blacker than the previous kind he had smoked. The Captain brought out his enigmatic lighter. "Tell your king..." he said to the man, and as he said it, he flicked the lighter so that a small flame sprang up from it. At the same instant that the flame came to life, the king's warship exploded into a ball of fire. The force of the blast threw Brynn and the others to the floor, but the Captain remained where he was, only his hair ruffled a bit by the explosion. As smoke poured out from the flaming warship and coiled around the pirate vessel, the Captain returned the lighter to his pocket. "...that if he touches even a hair on this girl's head, I will exterminate him."

Brynn curled up in a fetal position, and watched the fire as it raged. Dear God, what else is he capable of?


Epic Book Survey 2009

My response to the Epic Book Survey being held on



  • Most imaginative:  Fire
  • Funniest:  Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
  • Scariest:  The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Edgiest contemporary:  Ink Exchange
  • Creepiest SF/dystopia: The Hunger Games
  • Most evocative historical: Kira-Kira
  • Best love story:  Keturah & Lord Death

  • Most hilarious:  Hispanic, Female and Young: An Anthology had some hilarious, charming moments.
  • Scariest:  When the fence runs out in Forest of Hands and Teeth – and she keeps going anyway.
  • Most disturbing:  Push: A Novel (not a specific scene)
  • Steamiest:  The Erotic Spirit  (Poetry Collection)
  • Most exciting:  From the maze to the bridge in Blood Promise.
  • Biggest tear-jerker:  The death of a certain character in The Hunger Games, wreathed with flowers.
  • Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!!) :  It's exceedingly difficult to surprise me.  I'm trying to think of a twist I didn't see coming...

  • Best couple: Aislinn and Seth, from Wicked Lovely
  • Who you would want as your best friend: Alec Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments Series
  • Who you fell in love with: Death, from Keturah & Lord Death
  • Best villain:  Fire's father
  • Worst villain:  About 80% of the books I read this year had weak/flat/generic antagonists.
  • Best character twist: Nick in The Demon's Lexicon
  • Best character names: Nashawn from Kendra
  • Worst character names:  So many were awful, but I'll go with Katniss. Or Peeta. Or Patch.  Or Luce. Or...
  • Favorite all-around kickass female:  Astrid from Rampant
  • Favorite all-around kickass male:  Either the evil version of Dimitri from Blood Promise or Vladimir Tod

  • Best book cover: Tie between U.S. editions of Hush, Hush; Fallen; Tender Morsels; Liar
  • Best title:  Because I Am Furniture
  • Most memorable voice: Tender Morsels
  • Most memorable first line:  I was sixteen years old the day I was lost in the forest, sixteen the day I met my death.
  • Best setting:  Thorn Queen
  • Most beautiful writing:  The Historian

  • Will any of the books you've read in 2009 make your life list of Favorite Books?

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt


The Equal Pregnancy Act

My friend Christine Valada said that she would like Congress "to find something that's as important to men as abortion rights are to women and TAKE IT AWAY in health bill."

I thought about that and came to the conclusion that rather than taking something away from them, it might open their eyes to the difficulties pregnant women face if, instead, we require all pregnancies to be carried to term, but also insure that men are held to an equal level of consequence as pregnant women.

The results would be as follows:


A man is required by penalty of death or life imprisonment to produce a child for every single sperm he has, and be morally and financially responsible for every one of the hundreds of children he produces until they are 21. He will also have to be emotionally and financially responsible for all of the mothers while they are pregnant.

If a man at any time rapes a woman and makes her pregnant, he will be required to then be subjected to an equally traumatizing rape himself, and will still have to take care of the child created by the original rape.

If a man gets drunk and impregnates a woman he did not want to be beholden to, he will still have to take care of her for nine months and take care of her child for 21 years.

If the child is born with extreme physical disabilities, the man will be required to spend the same amount of time, money, and emotional strain as the woman in taking care of the child for the rest of its life.

If the relationship that produced the child was incestuous, the man will have to admit to the world that it was incestuous, and everywhere he goes, carry the child with him and admit the circumstances through which he created it.

Any unfair treatment given to pregnant women in the workplace due to their pregnancy shall also be given to the baby's father.

DNA tests will be required by law at the time of the child's birth.  Once a method can be devised to test DNA in the womb, that will replace testing at birth.

If the child is the result of abuse/rape, the father will have to cry whenever the mother cries, scream whenever the mother screams, and take the same depression pills while also tending the child the woman gave birth to.

If the father of the child is still a minor, even if he is as young as twelve years old, he will still be required to do all of the above and all of the below.

If the father is abused by the woman he impregnated, he will be required to maintain a relationship with her through the child they produce, even if she continues to be abusive.

If a woman's body is harmed by the pregnancy or damaged by a difficult delivery, the man shall have damage of an equal extreme applied to those parts that made the woman pregnant. He will then be expected to continue producing further children, regardless of pain or risk.

If the life of a woman he impregnated is endangered by the pregnancy, he will have to put a gun to his head and shoot himself if the mother dies.

That might remotely equate to the same sacrifice that women make when abortion is not an option.