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Werewolf Books…Women-Hating Woman Werewolf

I’ve been fighting a migraine for a day or two now and earlier it laid me flat. I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up one of the werewolf books I recently acquired, On the Prowl by Karen MacInerney, the second book in her Tales of an Urban Werewolf series. (I haven’t read the first one, Howling at the Moon, but hoped these could stand alone.)

Warning: There will be spoilers for the first two chapters of Prowl.

All I wanted was a fun werewolf story about a female werewolf (as opposed to all the stories about a human woman in love with a male werewolf, which are fine, but not really for me), a quick read to distract me from how bad I felt. What I got was a book that, within the first thirty pages, made me want to throw it across the room.

I am very tired of stories about superficial, judgmental women obsessed with fashion and beauty, but for a good story, I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with is a main character who seems to hate all other women.

Many things about the set-up for this book are wonderful: Sophie Garou is a werewolf. She’s a successful business woman (as of Prowl, she’s a partner at a major accounting firm). She lives in Austin, Texas, a fantastic place. From the blurb, I know there will be werewolf pack politics. Within the first couple chapters, I learn there are multiple female werewolves. There are werewolves in a city! I love that.

What I don’t love is the way Sophie judges the women around her.

Sally: Sophie’s “perpetually spandexed assistant” who Sophie would fire but can’t because Sophie’s boss hired her, so Sally is Sophie’s “cross to bear.” Not only dresses in spandex but “smiles tightly” to express her dislike of Sophie and “adjusts her cleavage.” Sophie claims she’s been trying to get her fired or arrested, but now Sophie has the goods to blackmail her and stop it.

Lindsey: Sophie’s best friend who is “a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie, which could have been a problem if she wasn’t such a fabulous friend.” (So glad you decided not to hate her because she’s beautiful, Sophie.)

Sorority Girl: Sophie tells readers about saving her from a werewolf attack. “…some deluded hero instinct made me decide to . . . step in and save her. Even though she had been wearing awful shoes.” (Why deluded hero instinct? Women can’t be heroes? Werewolves can’t be heroes? And way to so magnanimously save her despite her bad shoes.)

Adele: Sophie’s boss at the accounting firm. Not a lot of judgment yet, but she does seem strangely focused on what tablecloths to use at the firm retreat instead of, oh, being the boss at an accounting firm.

Mom: Sophie’s mother. Sophie’s still pretty judgmental toward her, calling her semi-psychotic, but at least it comes across as fondly judgmental, I guess.

Mrs. Gerschwitz: Sophie’s neighbor, who is old and spindly and absent-minded and gets lipstick on her false teeth, THE HORROR.

Teena: Another werewolf. I was excited about that for awhile (Teena is actually the THIRD female werewolf in sixteen pages, which is pretty awesome, even though we haven’t actually met the second one yet, just the aftermath of what she’s done), which might be why this was the part where all my frustrations came together into anger. Sophie judges her left, right, and center: she wears “ill-fitting” and “cheap” clothes, including too dark stockings the “thick, stretchy kind they sold at Wal-Mart” and scuffed shoes that make Sophie say “I finally understood the phrase ‘down at the heel,'” smells weak (which I’d actually be fine with on its own, since there are stronger female werewolves), badly painted nails, the works. Sophie thinks about how she could take her shopping and to the make-counter to fix her, when the woman has actually come to her for help adjusting to being a werewolf. (Another idea which filled me with glee but, so far, has gone nowhere: female werewolves helping each other out.) Then the part which made me want to throw the book. Teena explains that her boyfriend was a werewolf first, but she can’t go to him with her questions because he’s gone, though she’s not sure if he left or if he, like other werewolves in their area, disappeared.

SOPHIE’S RESPONSE: “If he left, I thought, it was probably the Caribbean Bronze hose.”

Because, yeah, a woman dressing in inexpensive clothes not up to your high class standards means her man will leave her.

Miranda: A new associate at Heath’s law firm. (Heath is Sophie’s boyfriend.) Sophie can’t stand the idea of Heath working with her on an important case even though she’s excellent at her job and great in the courtroom because she “looked like a life-sized version of Career-Day Barbie” which is a horrible phrase on so many levels.

I also don’t love the fat hate. I find it hard enough to believe that a werewolf is counting calories enough that she makes sure to get a skinny latte with Splenda just so she can have a blueberry muffin, but then Sophie also hates on Mom’s new boyfriend, Marvin, who is “pool-ball shaped” and “more Dom Deluise than Brad Pitt” so she doesn’t understand how in the world her mother could be attracted to someone who is FAT. Because being FAT is obviously always completely unattractive.

I’m pretty sure race is also going to be problematic and I know class is, just from the way she judges clothes.

All of this from two chapters. TWO CHAPTERS of Sophie judging every woman, frequently on very superficial levels. I’m going to try to finish it. I think the world and the plot has a lot of potential to be awesome. Sophie and her women hating, though, not awesome at all. I hope it gets better.

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Publications…”Beneath the Changing Moon” excerpt for release day

Today “Beneath the Changing Moon,” one of the stories in Total E-Bound’s Voracious Vamps collection, is available here.

(Edit: Inspired by a conversation with Eliza Reeve, “Beneath the Changing Moon” is approximately 12,000 words and is therefore a novelette and not a short story.)

I’ve talked about the problems I faced while writing it, and I am still worried about those issues, particularly that it looks like I think women should be obsessed with having babies, which I don’t, but overall I am really pleased with this story.

Blurb: Amalia has always loved the way Darren challenged her with his friendship, but as he seduces her romantically and sexually, she knows eventually she will given in to what he truly wants and what is forbidden: the exchange of their blood.

In a world where vampires have almost died out, procreation is the responsibility of every fertile vampire. For Amalia Vallen, infertility is a curse. Not because she’s failing her society but because Darren Lin, the man she’s loved since they were children, is fertile.

Amalia fears their society – and, worse, Darren’s family – will reject their bonding because she can bear no vampire children. To Darren, it doesn’t matter; all he wants is Amalia’s love. As Amalia struggles to overcome the biases she’s internalised, Darren seduces her into romance, sex, and the most important vampire ritual, sharing blood.

There’s an excerpt at the publisher’s website, but I will provide part of it here as well, to entice you to go there.

Excerpt:

August 2009 – Blood Moon

All vampire rituals took place beneath the cycle of the Blood Moon. Our blood was thick in the heat and sluggish in our veins. I wasn’t quite twenty-five when my mom took me to the Blood-Seer. Mom had a fresh manicure and the sick-sweet smell of the chemicals made me gag. I didn’t know how she could stand it. My appointment was early in the month, because we weren’t rich enough to afford the Seer’s work beneath the full moon, but she was wise and her power always great.

Her fingers were dry and rough like gnawed bone when she took my hand and led me into her workroom. The lights were dim, the windows curtained. Night fell late and I was often tired in the summer, but anticipation stirred me, wound me up.

She laid a fire despite the heat, and the warmth of the room was oppressive. My eyes dried out and my skin tingled. When her fingers passed along my arm, numbness followed her touch.

It was better that way, for she lifted my wrists and laid open my veins.

I had felt nothing like it before. I would feel nothing like it ever again.

The Blood-Seer put her mouth to my skin and drank me down, but did not pierce me with her fangs. If she did, her venom would contaminate my blood and she wouldn’t get a good reading from it. That was almost the worst thing which could happen.

She drank for so long my head lolled back and my eyes closed. It hurt too much—it felt too good—too sleep, but my bones were heavy and my joints ached. I was due another growth spurt soon. Mom measured my progress on the wall. She was pleased I was tall like her. I could tell because she smiled widely every time I grew even a centimetre.

“Be still.” The Blood-Seer’s voice was as dry as her hands. I slit my eyes open and watched as she gathered my blood into little glass vials. She would smell it, analyse it, put it under the microscope, add her powders, do her science-magic. No one but a Blood-Seer could know the exact process. We trusted that she was well trained. We trusted that she knew.

No one ever questioned her.

You can read the rest of the excerpt and buy “Beneath the Changing Moon” here.

Publications…Review of “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire”

Carole at Rainbow Reviews posted the first review of Bite Me that I’ve seen. It’s a very good review overall, and makes me even happier to be a part of such an interesting anthology.

Here’s what she said about “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire”:

Marie Carlson deftly draws a world loosely based on California where demons and vampires are mortal enemies in ” Like a Thousand Miles of Fire.” Half-demon Crystal is in love with William and Miguel, a hot pair of vampires, creating an uneasy alliance with both worlds. The threesome seals their bond in explicitly erotic ways as the world around them hints at war. This story is so well-drawn, so fleshed-out (pun intended!) that it could easily stand alone. I hope that Marie Carlson will continue with more stories in this universe.

I am thrilled with this review both because it is an incredibly kind review and because I am writing more stories in Crystal’s world. In fact, an early draft of “Like a Thousand Miles of Fire” read far more like the first chapter to a novel than a short story, but thanks to my fantastic early readers, I cut an entire scene from the end and beat it into short story shape. So knowing that someone wants more of Crystal’s story absolutely made my day.

Thanks, Carole. I love this review.

I Recommend…Werewolf Movies, High Moon comic, and Ginger Snaps review

Yes, another post about werewolf movies. What can I say, this is the October of werewolves for me.

OMG Horror has a list of the fifteen werewolf movies everyone should watch before they die.

It contains some of my favorite (The Howling, Ginger Snaps, An American Werewolf in London, etc.), but also had some I haven’t seen.

I was particularly intrigued by Mad at the Moon, which came in at #14. I haven’t seen it, but I’m a fan of westerns + werewolves and it looks like it could be a fun addition to any werewolf movie night. (Speaking of westerns + werewolves, though I haven’t read it all yet [I have problems with the online reader sometimes], I really like what I’ve seen of the comic High Moon.)

I’m also interested in seeing The Beast Must Die, included at #12, because it not only encourages viewers to solve the mystery of the werewolf along with the characters but it apparently has a “werewolf break” toward the end so viewers can discuss their conclusions. I love interactive (or semi-interactive) storytelling.

Ginger Snaps comes in at #9. It would be higher on my list, but I’m glad to see it included. I mention this mostly to segue into recommending a review at the horror movie blog Holding Darkness: Meeting the Beast: Ginger Snaps and Feminist Werewolves. I don’t agree with all of it, but I read this review in early draft form as well as this edited version, and I find it really interesting.

Writing…Useful Rejection Letters

I’ve been both busy with various writing projects and ill, neither of which left a lot of time for blogging. However, I submitted a couple of those projects today and finally have a moment to write about some of the thoughts I’ve had lately.

One thought is about the importance of rejection letters. Sure, nobody wants to be rejected, but it’s a part of the process. (Whatever process, really: job hunting, dating, writing, etc.) The rejection letter itself can be really useful, and that’s the part I’ve been thinking about.

There are a couple ways I think rejection letters can be useful. The more obvious way is if the letter says, We don’t want this piece of writing for reason A, reason B, and reason C, and those reasons are things which can either teach you about the problems of the piece or specific things the publisher wants.

The other way is that it can be validation. (These are not mutually exclusive by any means.) This is what I’ve experienced with my last three rejection letters for erotic short stories. (Two for one story and one for another.) In all three cases, the publisher chose to pass on the story (the anthology was already full, it wasn’t quite the right fit for that particular anthology, etc.), but in all three cases the publishers had encouraging things to say about the story they were rejecting and they asked to see more work.

Each time, the rejection letter was really encouraging even though it was a rejection.

Even rejection letters which give you nothing but the non-detailed rejection are useful, I think, because at least they’re a way to show you’re doing something. You’re writing and submitting and that’s really something, whether or not you’re getting published yet. That’s a big deal.

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I Recommend…Werewolf Movies

Autumn is a truly wonderful time of year for monster fans. So many places become the perfect settings for werewolf stories, but October has horror movie marathons and Halloween episodes of tv shows and haunted houses and corn mazes and a gorgeous, glorious full moon. (Did you see it? It was fantastic.) I’m glad I live somewhere that celebrates Halloween.

Werewolves.com has a series of posts about werewolf movies of various decades.

A Decade’s Worth of Werewolf Movies: 1980s (I hate that they use the unnecessary apostrophe in 1980s.)

I’ve seen most, but not all, of the movies from the 1980s. My favorites are The Howling and Silver Bullet, though I have a fond spot for Ladyhawke and I’m actually a pretty big fan of the sequels to The Howling.

I think my love for Silver Bullet exists because Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf is one of my favorite werewolf stories. I love the way it focuses on the different moons and the different holidays in each month, I love that the main character is in a wheelchair, I love the way the terror creeps through the town, I love the way I get chills when reading it, the way it makes me shiver even when much more violent, bloody, descriptive, etc., werewolf stories leave me untouched.

One they missed, Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf!

A Decade’s Worth of Werewolf Movies: 1990s

Apparently I missed most of the werewolf movies in the 1990s, which makes me sad, but also gives me new things to watch, so that’s exciting. I think there’s actually a Howling sequel I haven’t seen, even, and now I really want to go rent it.

I’ll talk about my least favorite here, and that’s Wolf. I didn’t watch it in the 90s, and I think people telling me over and over to watch it as soon as they learned I liked werewolves built it up too much. I found it frequently lost my attention.

The 90s really had a dearth of werewolf movies, didn’t they?

A Decade’s Worth of Werewolf Movies: 2000s

Oddly, this lists Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning but only references the other two movies, while it lists the Underworld movies as a set of three. Huh. Ginger Snaps and Cursed are two of my favorites from this list (Ginger Snaps because it’s actually a pretty good movie, Cursed because it has an excellent soundtrack and it very much looked like The Lost Boys for werewolves), but mostly I am shocked and horrified that I missed this:

Never Cry Werewolf: This film was shown on the Sci-Fi channel on May 11, 2008. It is a remake of the 1980s vampire film Fright Night, replacing the vampires with werewolves. About 16-year-old Loren being the only one suspicious of her new (and sexy) neighbor, Jared. She believes Jared is a werewolf and responsible for the town’s recent deaths.

I know why I missed it (I was traveling in May), but I am not sure why I hadn’t even heard of it. A remake of Fright Night with werewolves? Seriously? I must get my hands on this! (I’m a big fan of cheesy Sci-Fi channel movies.)

The more I look at this list, I realize most of my favorite werewolf movies are from the 2000s. Dog Soldiers! Blood Moon, which more heartbreaking than scary! Brotherhood of the Wolf!

And some they’ve missed (not that these are all my favorites, but they are werewolf movies):

Skinwalkers, werewolves with guns! Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound, which is horrible! The Feeding, which I want to see! Blood of the Werewolf, which looks awful.

Actually, WerewolfMovies.net has lists of movies all the way back to the 1940s. I’m finding it useful.