Category Archives: Urdaisunia

Father’s Day Special: Prince Eruz

Last year for Father’s Day, I wrote a tribute to my amazing dad. This year, since the role of fathers is so essential and yet so often undervalued and overlooked, I want to emphasize the importance of fathers in my own writing with this sneak peek look at one of my characters who is a father, Prince Eruz from Urdaisunia:

Picture A FEW DAYS after that, Eruz sent for Rashali to meet him in the gardens again. This time, the prince brought his young daughter, Mizalilu, with him; he explained that the child’s mother was awaiting the birth of a new baby and had little attention to spare for her. Rashali watched the little girl run along the garden paths, and pictured her own daughter in Mizalilu’s place. Fresh grief squeezed her heart. “My Lalana was the same age,” she said without thinking.

The prince was silent for a moment, also watching Mizalilu. “How do you survive such a loss?”

She shrugged, wishing she hadn’t said anything. “Along the rivers, so many children die, it’s only to be expected. Still, you hope that you’ll be the lucky one, that your child will be spared… And when she dies anyway, you either die too, or you live on. I chose to live on.” To destroy the Sazars who caused her death, she added in her mind, but didn’t say out loud.

Mizalilu had brought a sack of raisins with her. She ran ahead, tossing raisins on the ground while Luzak the peacock trotted after her, gobbling the treats. Eruz and Rashali followed, keeping the little girl in sight. “I told my father that moving the Urdai away from the stretch of the Uz the Kai-Kalle want might be more complicated than we thought,” Eruz said. “I didn’t tell him that the Urdai would fight, only that there would be considerable difficulties involved in relocating such a large number of people.”

“Did he decide against it?”

“He only said that we may have no choice, but he’ll wait to take action until the Kai-Kalle’s and the Sanghs’ intentions become clearer. I did tell him that I hoped to persuade you to convince the villagers to cooperate.”

“I suppose you can tell him that.” Not that she would ever agree to do such a thing, but letting him tell the king that she might seemed like a harmless concession.

Mizalilu had run ahead and now came back to them. The bag of raisins had been discarded somewhere along the way, and the child’s small fists were now filled with flowers and pebbles. Rashali watched the little girl’s shining dark eyes and smooth, flushed amber cheeks as she showed her father her treasures. The prince’s worries and burdens seemed to fall away as he squatted in front of his daughter, admiring the things she had found and replying to her babble. This was yet another odd thing—that a Sazar nobleman who needed a son as an heir would love a daughter so openly and completely.

They walked on in silence, along one of the ponds that dotted the Jewel. Mizalilu ran around to the other side of the pond, and stood there throwing her pebbles into the water and laughing at the splashes they made.


Sumerian Influences on Urdaisunia

(This is an old post from my main site, updated and refreshed to celebrate Urdaisunia’s new cover.)

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When I first started writing Urdaisunia back in the early 90s, I was interested in really really ancient civilizations. I also wanted to write something that wasn’t in the usual medieval-European-influenced fantasy setting. Ancient Sumeria fit the bill perfectly. It’s so old it makes Ancient Greece and Rome look like whippersnappers, and had a rich and influential culture and level of development. The physical setting (read about my fascination with desert settings here) offered a lot of possibiities for conflict, and I also found the Sumerian pantheon and mythology fascinating. And then there was the idea of a great and ancient civilization falling into ruin, which is also full of possible stories. We didn’t have the internet back then, or at least not in its current form, where you can find out anything about anything with just a few clicks, but we do have it now, so here are some links to things that have inspired Urdaisunia.

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The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has a long-term exhibit called Iraq’s Ancient Past with a lot of pictures and information about Sumeria and the archaeological work that has been done on the sites there. The headress of Queen Puabi, which inspired the headdress of Shairu-Az in Urdaisunia, is the third picture down. Here is more about Queen Puabi, including a video of some museum workers dressing a mannequin in the headdress and jeweled cloak that were found on Puabi’s remains in her tomb. Also on the Penn Museum site is a feature where you can make your name in cuneiform. The picture on this post is my last name the way the Sumerians would have written it.

You can see more of Queen Puabi’s headdress and jewelry at Sumerian Shakespeare. The site also has images and translations of Sumerian writings.

The International World History Project has an extensive section devoted to Sumeria. You can read a rundown of the gods and goddesses, a summary of Sumerian history and culture, and a section of the creation myth which gives a sampling of the divine soap opera the gods and goddesses had going on (a major influence on Urdaisunia!).

And, of course, we have to have ziggurats. The first and third pictures were particularly influential in how I envisioned the Royal Palace and the Temple of Ar at Zir.

A few more odds and ends: some ancient ships, and some Bronze Age swords. In Urdaisunia, these are the swords the Urdai used before the Conquest; the Sazars’ swords are a new model and were inspired by Japanese katana.

Urdaisunia was only loosely inspired by Sumeria, so don’t look to the novel for any kind of historical accuracy. But it was a fun world to play in, and I’ll probably go back to it someday.

Finally, let me leave you with a musical tribute to the ancient world:


Urdaisunia is available from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Kobo | OmniLit
Smashwords | CreateSpace | DriveThruFiction

Urdaisunia Cover Reveal and Sneak Peek!

I am so excited! After more than a year, I decided it was time for my first novel, Urdaisunia, to have a cover refresh. I love the picture on the original cover, but I felt like it doesn’t do much to convey what the story is about. So I asked Mominur Rahman, who did the Daughter of the Wildings covers, to do a new cover for Urdaisunia, and I love what he came up with!Here’s the full wrap-around illustration, without text:

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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And here’s the ebook version, with text:
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Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
The paperback edition is uploaded and awaiting file approval, the ebook version will roll out across the various retailers over the next few days or so.And to celebrate the new cover, here’s a sneak peek into Urdaisunia for the Weekend Sneak Peek! After being parted from Rashali under difficult circumstances, Eruz finds her in a Scorpion Nest (group of Urdai rebels) that’s about to be raided by the Sazars:

“If I can save this Nest, that might make up for the lives I took there. And now that I know you’re part of it—” He pulled her into his arms again. “No matter what else happens,” he said against her hair, “if you’re safe, then that’s something that’s right with the world.”

He was her enemy; he was the man who had sacrificed part of his soul to try to protect her people. And now he was endangering himself to bring her this warning. Rashali pushed back a rush of emotion that made her want to lose herself in his arms and forget everything else. “I’ll warn Kefel, or try to. In truth, he only hears what he wants to hear. Now let me warn you—That drunken Sazar by the bar is one of your uncle’s spies. I knew you, even with the salik. If he recognized you, and notices that we’ve both left the tavern…”

Eruz’s back stiffened. “Damn. He came in right after me—he must have followed me in. I have to get back to Zir before my father hears about this.” He pulled away from her just enough to close his hand around the dolphin pendant that lay against the bodice of her dress. He spoke softly, then breathed on the pendant, briefly fogging the silver. “If ever you need to contact me, for any reason, hold onto that and think of me, then send your message. Be careful not to let anyone else get hold of it, or find out what it is.”

She believed it would work; she had seen him use Sazar magic. “Can you contact me, too?”

“No. The token has to be prepared by the person it’s meant to contact. It’s not difficult to make one, but I don’t have time to teach you now.” Still holding the pendant, he bent his head down and kissed her deeply, hungrily, as though he was a starving man and she was his banquet. The world around them disappeared, and Rashali clung to him, the only solid, real thing she knew.

Too soon, he pulled away from her. “I have to leave now. The gods watch over you.”

For more Sneak Peeks, visit the Sneak Peek Sunday blog.

Urdaisunia is available at:
Amazon
| Barnes & Noble | Apple
Smashwords
| CreateSpace | OmniLit
and coming soon to Kobo and DriveThruFiction


Love & Magic Week, and Saturday Sneak Peek 2/8

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and so is my one-year publishing anniversary! (Urdaisunia was published on Feb. 9, 2013) To celebrate, I’ll be having a special week of love and magic, Feb. 9-16. Here’s what I have planned so far:

And to kick things off, here’s a romantic moment (with a little magic) from Urdaisunia: (this scene happens right after this part)


PictureHe pulled her into his arms again. “No matter what else happens,” he said against her hair, “if you’re safe, then that’s something that’s right with the world.”

He was her enemy; he was the man who had sacrificed part of his soul to try to protect her people. And now he was endangering himself to bring her this warning. Rashali pushed back a rush of emotion that made her want to lose herself in his arms and forget everything else. “I’ll warn Kefel, or try to. In truth, he only hears what he wants to hear. Now let me warn you—That drunken Sazar by the bar is one of your uncle’s spies. I knew you, even with the salik. If he recognized you, and notices that we’ve both left the tavern…”

Eruz’s back stiffened. “Damn. He came in right after me—he must have followed me in. I have to get back to Zir before my father hears about this.” He pulled away from her just enough to close his hand around the dolphin pendant that lay against the bodice of her dress. He spoke softly, then breathed on the pendant, briefly fogging the silver. “If ever you need to contact me, for any reason, hold onto that and think of me, then send your message. Be careful not to let anyone else get hold of it, or find out what it is.”

She believed it would work; she had seen him use Sazar magic. “Can you contact me, too?”

“No. The token has to be prepared by the person it’s meant to contact. It’s not difficult to make one, but I don’t have time to teach you now.” Still holding the pendant, he bent his head down and kissed her deeply, hungrily, as though he was a starving man and she was his banquet. The world around them disappeared, and Rashali clung to him, the only solid, real thing she knew.

Too soon, he pulled away from her. “I have to leave now. The gods watch over you.”

“The gods watch over you, too.” There was more she wanted to say, but before she could put it into words, he disappeared into the dark tangle of alleys.



Sneak Peek: Urdaisunia

Here’s another peek inside Urdaisunia. Earlier, Rashali and Eruz parted under difficult circumstances, thinking they’d never see each other again, but now their paths unexpectedly cross again:

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The noise of shouting, laughing, and gambling assaulted Eruz’s ears as he entered the tavern. The smell of wine, burning aksa-weed, fish, and bodies that had been working in the heat all day was almost overwhelming. Smoke from the lamps and torches fogged the room. He made his way across the crowded room to a spot on a bench along one of the walls. No one took any notice of him in his plain tradesman’s clothes and white salik; he also wasn’t the only person in the room who wasn’t Urdai. A small group of Xaxan men sat in one corner, drinking and gambling. Three Kai-Kalle youths in brightly-striped robes laughed and bragged and harassed the Urdai serving girl. An extremely drunk Sazar man stumbled into the tavern and began arguing with the barman, then slumped to the floor in a stupor.

Eruz ordered beer from a serving boy; though he usually preferred wine, the wine served in a place like this was likely to be sour and watery, while, it was said, it was impossible to make bad beer from Urdaisunian barley. He slowly nursed his drink while he observed the activity around him.

A small group of Urdai came in and went to a low table in a corner that was quieter than the rest of the tavern. A tall, lean Urdai man sat there with a number of other people. He had a quiet, authoritative air, and seemed to listen more than he spoke. Most likely he was the leader of the Nest, or at least high up in the leadership. Seated next to him was–

Eruz blinked to clear his smoke-hazed eyes and looked again. Rashali.

Relief and joy surged through him, along with an odd, sudden twist of dislike for the man sitting next to her. Eruz watched as the group that had come into the tavern spoke to him. They seemed to include Rashali in what they said, and the man frequently turned to her, as though asking her advice or opinion before replying. It was almost as though they were partners in running the Nest.

Fear quickly overshadowed Eruz’s relief. The Nest was in danger, which meant that Rashali was in danger. He hadn’t known how to deliver his warning—it was unlikely that any Scorpion would listen to a Sazar—but she would listen. He hoped. If she didn’t hate him for what he had done at Three Leaping Fish.


Urdaisunia is available in ebook and paperback from:
Amazon
| Barnes & Noble | Apple | Sony | Diesel
Smashwords | CreateSpace | All Romance Ebooks

Sneak Peek Sunday 10/20: Urdaisunia

Here’s another peek inside Urdaisunia for Sneak Peek Sunday! Rashali is on the run from some nefarious men [Zashtag is the goddess of birds, Rashali’s patron goddess]:

PictureAS SHE FLED, Rashali didn’t dare stop to look for signs of pursuit. The Kai-Kalle had warhorses; once the Kifa and his men escaped from the attacking birds, it wouldn’t take them long to catch up with her. But by the time she had put several miles between herself and the Kifa’s camp, there was still no one following her. Had the birds pecked Helku, Jeru, and their men to death? She could only hope, she thought with vicious pleasure at the idea. Gods preserve her from ambitious, lecherous men.

Her satisfaction at the fate she imagined for Jeru and Helku dimmed as she continued running. The relentless sun beat down without mercy, her mouth and throat were parched, and her stomach was knotted from hunger. Running into the desert with no water or food wasn’t the most intelligent thing she had ever done, she thought, but Zashtag had given her this chance and all she could do was throw herself on the goddess’s mercy and take it. Surely the goddess hadn’t helped her escape only to let her die of heat and thirst in the desert.

After a few more miles, though fear still urged her on, Rashali finally couldn’t take one more step. She dropped to the ground in the meager shade of a thorn tree. Despite the heat, she was no longer sweating—a more alarming sign than hunger, thirst, and fatigue combined. She pulled the shimmering feather from the stitching at the hem of her dress. Zashtag, you did not bring your daughter this far only to let her perish, did you? Zashtag, help me!

In response to her prayer, there was only emptiness; something that had always been there before, unnoticed, when she prayed to the goddess was now noticeable by its complete absence. True fear gripped Rashali’s heart—had the goddess indeed abandoned her? She closed her trembling fingers around the feather. “Help me!” Her voice came out as little more than a dry gasp.

To her left, a flock of small birds suddenly rose into the air with a rush of wings, and circled in place. It was probably nothing, Rashali told herself, trying to suppress the flare of hope she felt at the sight, but she was in no position to ignore any possible sign from the goddess. Stumbling on shaking legs, still telling herself it was nothing, she ran to where the flock was circling.

There, amidst a jumble of rocks on a low hillside, a stream sprang from the earth and flowed less than an arm-length before disappearing underground again. Rashali fell to her knees and drank of the cool, pure water, forcing herself to take only small sips so that she wouldn’t upset her parched, empty stomach.


For more sneak peeks, check out the Sneak Peek Sunday blog!


Sneak Peek Sunday 10/13: Urdaisunia

(Just catching up on a couple of posts I forgot to re-post over here!)

Here’s another quick peek inside Urdaisunia for Sneak Peek Sunday! Prince Eruz has just explained to Rashali that the Sazars conquered Urdaisunia because the mountains where they had lived could no longer sustain them and they were in danger of dying out. Rashali is unsympathetic. [note: Kuz is the god of sorcerers.]

Picture“So you traded your own hunger for that of the Urdai, and you took all our work, all the fruits of our learning and labors, for yourselves—the dams and canals, the great temples, the palace, even these gardens. You Sazars have no skills or knowledge to make such things, so you had to steal them from us. You didn’t even have writing until you began using ours.”

He flinched slightly, his pride clearly stung by her contemptuous words. “We do have skills and knowledge of our own.”

“Making swords,” she said. “And breeding and training warhorses. Nothing like this.” She indicated the Jewel with a broad gesture of her arm. “You could never make something like this. Even now, you depend on Urdai slaves to maintain the gardens.”

“Not entirely.” Eruz stopped beside one of the low trees with thick hand-shaped leaves—a nariyi, it was called—and plucked a tightly-curled bud from it. “We have skills besides those of warfare.” He looked intently at the nariyi bud, then whispered a few words and blew lightly on the bud. Slowly, the green sepals unwound from around the five thick white petals, which unfolded into a bowl-shaped blossom. The flower’s sweet, rich scent filled the air. “Here,” Eruz said. He took Rashali’s hand and placed the flower in it. “We worship Kuz more than the Urdai do, and he has given us a number of gifts.”

If she hadn’t seen it for herself, she never would have believed it. She looked up at him, her hand still in his, at a loss for words to respond to the wonder he had shown her. “That—that was—”

He bent his head down and covered her mouth with his.


For more sneak peeks, check out http://sneak-peek-sunday.blogspot.com/!

Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage, Part 4

And now, the blog post you’ve all been waiting for, Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage, Part 4: Bondage! (past installments: Billionaires, Bad Boys: Inner Torment, Bad Boys: Jackassery). (Caution: soapboxing may occur. If I cause offense, I make no apologies; I stand by my words.)

I’m going to start out with two basic ideas. The first is that there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of roleplay and fun and games between consenting partners, the key word here being consenting. I’m not conversant with the BDSM lifestyle or practices, but from online discussions I’ve read on the subject of Billionaire Bondage novels (both in forums and in book reviews), I’m given to understand that among those in that community, consent is key. In other words, you don’t do what Bux Cashton does: he informs Sweet Young Thing that he is the dominant and she is going to be the submissive, and if she wants to be with him that’s how it’s going to be; they’re going to play by his rules. By this time, she’s far too taken with him (goodness knows why; see the Jackassery installment) for it to be easy for her to say, “Get lost,” and even if she does, he isn’t one to take “Get lost” for an answer. So, basically, she is being coerced, emotionally bullied, and manipulated into entering into this sexual practice.

Idea number two: While there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of roleplay and fun and games between consenting partners, the desire to cause feelings of pain, humiliation, and helplessness in one’s partner has no place whatsoever in a loving, healthy relationship.

That should be self-explanatory; I can’t imagine that it isn’t. So I’m not going to bother trying to explain further. I’m just going to say that if you are in a relationship with someone who takes pleasure in hurting you or making you feel bad, you need to get out. In Billionaire Bondage books, Bux Cashton does enjoy those things. He gets off on it; it makes him feel powerful, and it’s an outlet for his feelings of Inner Torment. I don’t understand why Sweet Young Thing sticks around long enough for Bux to eventually reform (to the extent that he does), except Hot Tormented Billionaire.

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In my books, sex between the main characters is an act of love, or at least mutual liking and attraction (later developing into love), between equal partners (equal regardless of whatever differences in age, social status, or previous experience might exist between them) who are each as deeply concerned with the other person’s comfort, enjoyment, and well-being as with their own. Consent is asked for and received, at least the first time (with one exception, but in this instance they’re too busy tearing each other’s clothes off to stop and talk about it, so I guess the consent is implied), and after that first time there continues to be a sensitivity to the other person’s mood and willingness.

Being tied up does become a running joke during one story (and no I’m not going to say which one; you’ll have to read and find out, bwahaha), because of something that happens accidentally – something that the woman does, incidentally, so the roles here are switched around.

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It’s the villains who engage in sexual sadism (btw, I did mention at some point that my books are not for young readers but for adults and older teens, right?). Not in every book, but there are a few who use that as part of their power play. And occasionally one of the main characters is involved in a wrong relationship (before taking up with the right person, the other main character) and the ideals I talked about above don’t necessarily apply to those relationships. But when the main characters do get together, that’s how it is, because that’s what I believe a loving, healthy intimate relationship should be.

So, the Bondage Scale:

Eruz (Urdaisunia): He does have concubines (common in his culture for a man of his ranking), but he usually feels like it’s really more trouble than it’s worth, and would never force any of them to do anything they don’t want to. And where he lives, pain and suffering are so common that he would rather use sex to escape from it, not to indulge in more of it.
Bondage Rating: 0

Sevry (Chosen of Azara): No time for sex, never mind kinky sex. Plus, he’s seen too much suffering in his life to find anything fun or sexy about it.
Bondage Rating: 0

Roric (The Lost Book of Anggird): Nope, no way. Uh-uh. Forget it. He’s experienced too much personal suffering to want to inflict it on another person.
Bondage Rating: 0

Adan (Sarya’s Song): He already blew it once with Sarya; if he ever gets another chance, he isn’t taking any risk that he might blow it again. As for other relationships, he’s just too easy-going and too much of an all-around nice guy to want to hurt anyone.
Bondage Rating: 0

Silas (Daughter of the Wildings):  He’s seen people hurt other people just because they can, and he has no desire to be that kind of person.
Bondage Rating: 0

Edit: I’ve had some complaints from the gentlemen that this rating makes them all sound like they’re boring in bed. So I’ll note that the Bondage Rating is based strictly on disregard for consent and the degree of enjoyment obtained from causing feelings of pain, humiliation, and helplessness (with fun and games, adventurousness, etc. not being considered.)

And to soothe some ruffled pride here, I’ll give them all a big 10 on the special Red-Hot Lovers scale. Or, ok, 11.  That better, guys? (Aw, look, I made Sevry blush!) And no, Silas, the scale does not go to 12. *sheesh*

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So, in conclusion, on a scale of 0 to 40 points on the Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage rating, we have:

Eruz (Urdaisunia): 12 points
Sevry (Chosen of Azara): 10 points
Roric (The Lost Book of Anggird): 17 points (scored high on Inner Torment)
Adan (Sarya’s Song): 17 points (scored high on Billionaire)
Silas (Daughter of the Wildings): 9

I am therefore forced to conclude that I am not really in step with the BBB&B trend. That’s okay, though. It’s been a fun way to look at my heroes from some different angles, but, in all seriousness, it isn’t something I would want to write. It’s just too far removed from my ideal of what men, women, and the relationships between them can be, an ideal that I feel it’s important to convey through my writing. I’m writing what I love and what I believe in, and I’m happy with it.


Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage, Part 3

In this series, I’ve been looking at how my novels stack up against the hottest trend in fiction right now: billionaire bad boys who are into bondage. So far I’ve covered the Billionaire factor and one of the two components of the Bad Boy, Inner Torment. In this post: the other half of the Bad Boy factor, Jackassery.

The guys in these books, I don’t know. It’s a good thing they’re rich and they’re hot, because it’s kind of hard to tell why any woman would want to have anything to do with them at all otherwise. They refuse to take No for an answer, they manipulate or coerce Sweet Young Thing into sexual practices that are outside of her normal preferences and comfort zone, they control where she goes and when and who she sees… If you’ve ever read any of those Top Ten Signs Your Partner Is An Abuser lists, this is probably starting to sound familiar.

Sweet Young Thing usually does stand up for herself against Bux Cashton eventually (reviews are divided on whether or not readers appreciate that development), and that does sometimes seem to be a turning point in the plot, with the guy maybe coming to realize that there are other ways of interacting with women besides being a complete jerkface to them.

Yeah, it’s a common fantasy, the tormented jerk who comes to appreciate the woman who is so patient and understanding with him and is reformed into a nice, loving, romantic, wonderful guy. But there has to be something there in the first place to make Sweet Young Thing think it’ll be worth all the jackassery she has to put up with in the meantime. Are hot, rich, and tormented enough? Apparently so.

Anyway, here’s the Jackassery ratings on my own heroes (with bonus notes about how the ladies deal with it):

Prince Eruz (Urdaisunia): Considering everything he’s dealing with in his personal and professional lives, Eruz is really a pretty nice guy. He commits two main acts of jackassery where Rashali is concerned, neither of which are intended to be controlling, bad, evilly underhanded, or otherwise offensive, although they certainly come across that way. One is more a matter of social ineptitude than anything else (Eruz isn’t really a people person), the other is a matter of urgent political necessity. Rashali’s reaction is to renew her resolve to make sure the Sazars are destroyed or driven out of Urdaisunia, though she later comes to realize that his actions weren’t what they seemed to be and maybe there’s another solution to the Sazar-Urdai conflict.
Jackassery Index: 3

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Sevry (Chosen of Azara): Again, considering everything he has to deal with, he’s a pretty nice guy. His main problems are the pressure he’s under to complete his task and, as with Eruz, a lack of social skills. For all his many and varied experiences, he’s never had to deal with someone like Lucie before. When he realizes that she’s the person he’s been looking for all this time to help him complete his mission, he uses a number of tactics to try to persuade her, including guilt-tripping. His worst act of jackassery certainly isn’t intended to be that way; it kind of just happens. He still gets himself slapped by Lucie, plus she’s never afraid to tell him that what he wants from her is out of the question.
Jackassery Index: 2

Roric (The Lost Book of Anggird): Roric scored highest on the Inner Torment scale. He’s worked very hard to build a new life for himself, and everything in his life and his world is very carefully controlled. He dislikes having any kind of chaos or unpredictability in his life. When Perarre comes into that world, he is fairly overbearing in his attempts to make her obey all his little rules for how things should be done. They work for him; shouldn’t they work for everyone? Perarre really really wants this job – or, more specifically, she wants the future opportunities that a good reference from the renowned Professor Roric Rossony will open up to her – so she goes along with it to some extent, though never without pushback, and he eventually comes to see that a little chaos in his life won’t hurt anything. Which is good, considering what happens next.
Jackassery Index: 4

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Adan (Sarya’s Song): When Adan and Sarya first met, when they were teenagers, he did one thoughtless thing that caused her a lot of pain, but he didn’t mean to. She still hasn’t forgiven him. He also has a number of other faults – he feels no need at all to demonstrate false modesty, and he’s extremely fond of, er, female companionship, but he never does anything with the intent to make Sarya feel bad or to control her. He actually isn’t as big a jackass as Sarya thinks he is, but she cuts him no slack whatsoever.
Jackassery Index: 5

Silas (Daughter of the Wildings): Silas commits one supreme act of jackassery, fairly early on in the series. Even while I was writing it I was thinking, Dude, no! You don’t do that! To his credit, he realizes almost right away what he had done and why it was bad, and feels really bad about it. Lainie doesn’t hesitate to let him know how bad he’d made her feel, but after some awkward conversations and a really spectacular act of redeeming himself, she forgives him. And he’s just been a doll ever since 😀
Jackassery Index: 5

Conclusion: No one’s perfect, and everyone does stupid things that hurt someone else, even when they don’t mean to. But just because you might have had a good excuse for making a stupid mistake or otherwise doing something hurtful (past trauma, the demands of your job, temporary stupidity), there’s never a reason why you can’t apologize, do something to make up for it, and try to do better in the future.

Coming up: Bondage.


Billionaires, Bad Boys, and Bondage, Part 2

So, I’m taking a look at the heroes of my novels in comparison to the current hot trend of novels about hot, tormented billionaire hunks who like to play rough. The previous post evaluated them on the Billionaire scale, with Adan Muari from Sarya’s Song topping out at 11 (on a scale of 1 to 10), and the others coming in considerably under that. Next up: the twin factors on the Bad Boy scale: Inner Torment and Jackassery.

These two are linked because, in my extensive analysis of the trend (that is, reading lots of reviews, both positive and negative, of books on the “Falling in Love With a Billionaire” list on Goodreads), the male protagonist’s past trauma and inner torment are what lead to his extreme narcissistic, hedonistic, selfish, and domineering behavior (aka his jackassery) and provide the excuse, nay, the justification, for any and all such acts. The overall idea is that the sweet young thing he fixates upon as his conquest (female in the examples I’ve seen, though I suppose this trend could also exist in the M/M romance sector) eventually comes to peace with and/or helps him overcome his inner torment and the accompanying bad behavior.

(Because I’m analyzing Inner Torment and Jackassery separately, this is going to turn into a four-part series. Me and series, it always turns out there has to be one more installment.)

My heroes on the Inner Torment scale (ratings are a function of badness of the stuff they’ve had to deal with combined with how well they deal with it) (Also, these are the characters as they are at the beginning of the books, more or less. Sometimes things get better, sometimes they get worse, bwahahahaha):

Prince Eruz (Urdaisunia): His father hates him. His brothers hate him. His wives are mad at him, and his concubines aren’t too terribly thrilled with him either. His country is falling apart, and he’s wrestling with all these inconvenient ideas about equality between the Sazars and the Urdai and how just because you conquered someone doesn’t mean it’s ok to abuse and oppress them. But Eruz is mostly too busy trying to do his job and figure out how to do what’s best for everyone to go all emo over this stuff. And at least his daughter loves him ❤ 😀
Inner Torment rating: 3

Picture

Sevry (Chosen of Azara): His country was at war from the time he was three until he was twenty-three. After that, his people destroyed and his country in ruins, he spends a very long time on a seemingly hopeless quest to try to restore what was lost. His circumstances keep him isolated, constantly on the run, unable to tell the truth about himself or form close relationships with anyone. He’s dedicated to his duty and determined to carry it out, but he’s lonely and he’s getting pretty tired. He still manages to keep it together, barely.
Inner Torment rating: 7

Roric (The Lost Book of Anggird): Hoo boy. Roric. Wow. I struggled with this novel for years, just not quite sure where Roric was coming from. And then one day he opened up and told me about his past, and I was both horrified by what he’d been through and terrified of writing about it. I thought there was no way I could write about a character with stuff like that in his past. I’m just not qualified (and I’m expecting some pushback for taking on a subject like this when the novel is released). On the other hand, I finally understood why he is the way he is – the accomodations he’s come to in his effort to deal with his past and rebuild his life. Once I understood him, the story was much easier to write.
Inner Torment rating: 10. Possibly 11.

Picture Adan (Sarya’s Song): Incredibly rich, good-looking, popular, and talented, from a large and loving family. His father actually expects him to work, as in manual labor, on the family plantations during his visits home, so he knows what hard work is like and he understands, to an extent, what life is like for those less fortunate than him. He’s pretty easy-going and content with life, except that as a teenager he did one incredibly thoughtless thing which totally ruined all his chances with the only girl he’ll ever love. Not that he’s given up hope, though.
Inner Torment rating: 2

Silas (Daughter of the Wildings): As a kid, he made some selfish and thoughtless decisions, which had devastating consequences for someone he cared about. Rather than (or, in addition to) being traumatized by that, he learned from it. Eventually, spurred on by the ideals he came to embrace as a result of that incident, he threw away the wealth and privilege he was born to and chose the life he’s living now, and is happy with it.
Inner Torment rating: 2

Conclusion: My guys have all been through bad stuff (and continue to go through it). Some of it only mildly traumatizing, some of it devastating. They do have bad dreams and bad memories and painful, complicated emotions. But life is hard for everyone. Harder for some than for others, but no one is entitled to a bump-free ride through life, so they deal with it and go on as best as they can.

Next time: The Jackassery rating (or, Why in the world do the ladies put up with this $&%@#???)