Tag-Archive for » Mental Illness «

Werewolf Wednesday (I Recommend)… Review of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff (Lesbian werewolves for the win!)

(Edited to Add: Totally forgot to drop this link: “Supermoon” Coming this Saturday.)

Another Lesbian Werewolves for the Win! Werewolf Wednesday, and I cannot get enough of them.

The ebook version of Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff is now available, print editions to come, and to celebrate this release, I have a review! (Keep an eye out in June for another celebration, where Catherine will visit the blog, and we’ll give away some prizes!) First, though, links to Silver Moon: Amazon | All Romance E-Books | Lethe Press.

Blurb: Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf’s Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they’ve got Becca in their sights.

(NB: Above links are not affiliate links. Author provided an e-arc of the book for review. Also, I don’t believe there are spoilers, other than what you can get from various descriptions of the book.)

I was sold on the premise of Silver Moon from the start: women werewolves protecting their town? Characters of “a certain age” being awesome? Women kicking ass? Lesbians being heroes? Yes please, all of that and more. And I’m pleased to say that overall, I loved the story and hope to spend more time with these characters in the future. There aren’t enough supernatural stories about lesbians, or women who are werewolves, or older characters, and especially not about older lesbian werewolves who are completely awesome. I was giddy at discovering Silver Moon, and I’m still giddy after having such a good time while reading. The details of the werewolves are delightful (keeping a throat covered when laughing, because baring it says [potentially unintended] things, the smell of happiness, the sounds they can hear), and I love that this is a story about women and so many things they are and can be.

I do have my issues. There are uses of “crazy” and “insane” that I found pretty ableist, and a reference to a mental hospital that made me cringe. (Yes, I know this is language that is used in everyday life. Believe me, I know. I deal with it all the time.) Though there are quite a bit of racial diversity in the characters, particularly the werewolves, the story is so tightly focused on Becca and the things she’s discovering about herself that often the other characters get short shrift and the racial diversity falls to the background. (I’m hoping there will be additional books and the other characters will have more page time. I am particularly intrigued by Deputy Lizzie Blackhawk, who is smart and snarky and badass, and also, I think I’m in love.) The last twenty pages or so seemed rushed, especially compared to the slower build of the first half of the book. (Though now that I look at the actual page numbers, werewolf things start happening early in the book, and I can’t quite put my finger on why it felt like a slower build. I like slower builds, particularly in books about monsters.)

All of that being said, I really loved the book. I loved Becca and her changes, physical, emotional, sexual. I loved the werewolf pack, all the women and the work they do to keep their town safe. I loved the worldbuilding, the rules for werewolves, and the juxtaposition of interesting things: supernatural and scientific, monster and human, hunter and hunted, predator and prey. About halfway through, the story grabbed me and I devoured the rest, deadlines be damned, in a glorious rush of action and intrigue and lies and truth. It is truly a supernatural adventure, decorated with bits of humor and romance and angst.

One of the things I like most about werewolves and werewolf stories is the metaphor of lycanthropy as mental illness, particularly my experience with bipolar disorder: the (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes lining up with the (sometimes) uncontrollable mental changes, cycle for cycle. There are moments where the language, the description, so exactly captures what I think of when I think of werewolves, of that metaphor for mental illness, that it made me want to stand up and cheer, except that meant I’d have to stop reading, and so I didn’t. (“… she could feel that same wildness building in her … clawing its way to the surface inside her, racing beneath her skin and preparing to break through.”)

Silver Moon does not address this metaphor. What it does address is similar, though, and really made the story appealing to me: (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes for (sometimes) uncontrollable physical changes. Lundoff’s werewolves aren’t a metaphor for mental illness, but for the way our bodies become different with age. (Literally and literally, for her werewolves; menopause brings the changes we recognize, but also changes Becca could never anticipate.)

Silver Moon isn’t just a story about lesbians, or women getting older, or werewolves being secret superheroes, or women being victimized. It isn’t a story where the women are monsters because, wink wink nudge nudge, all women are monstrous, am I right? (Can you tell I am exhausted by all of the stories where women are victims or villains and nothing in between?) At its heart, it is a story that either we can relate to now, or we will relate to later. It is the story of change, in good ways and bad. Sometimes – eventually, inevitably — our bodies change, our minds change, our lives change, without warning, and without our desire for it to occur. We get older. We deal with mental illness, or physical. We lose those we loved, we leave them, we say good-bye. We fight to keep our homes; we fight to create a place for ourselves in a new world after we’ve been rocked by things that happen to us, around us, we fight to keep those we love safe.

As readers, many of us search for ourselves in the stories we read, often to no avail if we aren’t straight, white, able bodied and minded, cisgendered, and/or male. In Lundoff’s werewolves, I found pieces of myself, my questions about what I am and what I have and what I will become; the push and pull of pack ties (family ties) with solitary natures and the need to seek adventures alone; and those shining moments of human and monster, separate and one, all wrapped up in a rollicking adventure that was simply fun. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, because it fits this story so well.

Lesbian werewolves for the win!

Teaser Tuesday…Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson (Month of Thanksgiving Day 1)

(Month of Thanksgiving is exactly what it sounds like: a [hopefully] daily dose of the things for which I give thanks during the month of November.)

(Teaser Tuesday is a book meme hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.)

Today I am grateful for Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson. I finished it yesterday, and it was really a lot of fun. There were some moments of fat hate, and I could have done without the use of “crazy” and similar as pejoratives, and it was really freaking whitewashed, but the story was delightful. I love the focus on girls and women as friends and family, heroes and villains. I can’t wait for the next book, Nocturne, which I have just realized is already out! Excellent, time to put in a book order.

Teaser Tuesday
Grab your current read and open to a random page:
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson, page 278: But then, whatever was out there twitched again and a pair of yellow eyes flashed in the darkness. [Character] streaked toward the fence, her blackness separating from the shadows of the trees. She was coming for them.

Publications…”Cycles” in Like a Moonrise from Circlet Press

The holidays, as amazing as they were, really threw me off schedule. I meant to blog about this on the release day, of course, but at least now I get to do a contest with the release information. See the end of the post for more details.

My story, “Cycles,” is now available in Like a Moonrise from Circlet Press. Here’s what the editors had to say about Like a Moonrise:

Shapeshifting is a powerful metaphor for eroticism, and in Circlet Press’s new ebook, Like a Moonrise, that metaphor is made central to these erotic coming-of-age fantasies.

Like a Moonrise is an anthology of six stories featuring original shapeshifters with a coming of age theme.The stories in this anthology explain what the werefox, werepony, and others face as they discover their own changes and the urges and instincts that come with it. Circlet Press moves beyond the now-common realm of vampires and werewolves to explore the sexual lives of different were-creatures with these stories.

Hilariously, I totally didn’t move beyond the realm of vampires and werewolves. I’m sure it’s quite a surprise to regular readers to know “Cycles” is about Anamaria, an eighteen-year-old werewolf going through her first transformation. In a world where werewolves live among humans but keep socially separate once they come of age, Anamaria faces turbulent physical and hormonal changes as her body, quite literally, becomes something new. From June’s Strawberry Moon to January’s Wolf Moon, Anamaria fucks and fights her way through changes that frighten and frustrate her and leave her doubting her own mind.

Transformation is never easy, but with the support of her two mothers and her girlfriend, if Anamaria can make it through, she’ll be left with a powerful legacy that, bloody and messy as it is, is her right down to her sinew and bone.

Remember back in November when I guest blogged at Midnight Seductions about writing werewolves and mental illness, Monster in the Blood: Writing Werewolves and Mental Illness? Well, I was thinking a lot about “Cycles” when I wrote it. In “Cycles,” I tried to turn a plot trope around; frequently, when a character “acts crazy,” it turns out that really, she was just supernatural all along. I wanted to write about a character who was both supernatural and mentally ill; sure, Anamaria has reason enough to doubt her mind and body as she goes through her first transformation into a werewolf, but she’s also struggling with sharp, potentially destructive mood swings. Though the others write it off as just what happens when she becomes a werewolf, that’s not the end of it for Anamaria. Though lycanthropy is a metaphor for mental illness that I love, and that I use to describe my own bipolar, it’s not always just a metaphor, and in “Cycles,” Anamaria is both a werewolf and is crazy.(1) Because people with mental illnesses aren’t a monolithic group that look and act in one particular way, and mental illness is not the only defining trait.

I hope you enjoy “Cycles”; I loved writing it.

I have one PDF copy of Like a Moonrise to give away. If you tweet about “Cycles” and the contest, using @mariecarlson so I can track it; mention “Cycles” and the contest in a blog post, commenting here with a link so I can track it; or leave me a comment here (talking about anything, but in particular I’d love to hear your thoughts about characters with mental illness), I will put your name in a drawing for that copy of the book. Each of those options counts as a separate entry, so you can enter up to three (3) times. On January 19, the full moon, the Wolf Moon, I will randomly draw a name. (Probably using one of my pretty, pretty gaming dice.) Do make sure if you comment here that I have a way to contact you!

(1) I realize that not everyone has embraced the use of “crazy,” and I actually usually hate it when people who aren’t mentally ill use it, especially when it is used as a pejorative. However, I have taken back its use when describing myself — at times — and when talking about my writing.

Publications…”Blazing Star” in Cast the Cards, Bad Girl’s Sweet Kiss, and more

The posts I scheduled to go up while I was away failed, so here are publishing updates for the past month.

Monster in the Blood: Writing Werewolves and Mental Illness

I guest blogged over at Midnight Seductions about writing werewolves and characters with mental illness, including my own experience with mental illness.

“Blazing Star” in Cast the Cards

Cast the Cards released October 31, 2010.

Blurb: For over 250 years, the use of the tarot for divination has been a mainstay of mystical and occult practices. Cast the Cards is a collection of six all-new short stories that explore some of the powerful themes associated with the Major Arcana, all with an eye toward erotic romance with GLBT and alt-lifestyle characters and motifs.

“Blazing Star” is a story about a mind reader and her fortunetelling, monster-hunting lover who face a world headed into a potential apocalypse. Together the two women create a sanctuary for the other monster hunters, but not even a magic-protected sanctuary can guarantee protection when the world is ending.

There have been a couple really nice reviews of Cast the Cards.

Review by BookWenches.com.

Excerpt:

On the whole, I found Cast the Cards to be well-conceived and intriguing, and I would have no problem at all recommending it to others. The folks at Storm Moon Press have done an excellent job compiling this collection. I was impressed with the high quality of the writing in each tale as well as the way they adhere to the central theme.

Review by CoffeeTimeRomance.com.

Excerpt:

Blazing Star

Hope is a hunter of the supernatural. Like other hunters, she heads to the one place where she knows she can find sanctuary, the home of a fortune-teller and Hope’s lover.

Trouble is rising in the world. Weird things that are unexplainable keep occurring. Hope and her friends are off on a mission of danger. Stolen moments of passion help calm the rising tide of bad that is reaching their shores.

Sexy and soothing. Odd descriptions for a story, I know, but that is what I felt as I read as intruded on the world of these two women.

and

This book is like a night of amazing love making. The seduction is slow and sweet. The climax is toe-curling. Then, you slide into the after-glow. Emotions run the gamut, and the reader is left emotionally spent but wholly satisfied. The incorporation of the Tarot deck only heightened my desire to read on. Each story is unique and special, but they work together so well. I would recommend adding this collection of stories to your shelf.

I am really pleased by the mention of “Blazing Star” because sexy and soothing was exactly the mood I was trying to create while writing the story. I was thrilled to see that it worked.

Bad Girls Sweet Kiss

Released November 3, 2010, I have a piece in Bad Girl’s Sweet Kiss from XCITE Books. My piece is more a story than a lot of the other pieces included, but sometimes trying to pick out the truth is part of the fun.

Blurb: A blow-by-blow anthology of first-time fellatio and other oral delights.

Chrissie Bentley is a woman on a mission – to raise the profile of oral sex. In ‘The Bad Girl’s Sweet Kiss’ she has brought together her own experiences as well as those of many other erotic writers from all over the world. From some of the most well-known voices in erotica to more recent newcomers to the field, everybody’s first time is different. In this diverse collection of blow-by-blow accounts exploring an oft-overlooked act of intimacy, you’ll find something to shock, titillate, amuse as well as trigger memories of your own oral initiation.

I also sold a werewolf short story, details on this to follow.