Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday Whine and Wine with Lou Harper

Whine, Cheese, and The Occasional Amphibian

Time to time a commotion breaks out in the m/m sphere about the portrayal of women within the genre. The way I see it, the real squabble should be about the portrayal of women in fiction in general, and not just books. I’ve been fuming for decades about female characters in movies whose sole role is to advance the plot by the power of their sheer stupidity and inability to follow simple directions (Stay here. Don’t open that door.)

I love reading and writing fun, wacky characters who don’t always do what you expect. Making up my own stories was also a great opportunity to create female characters who do more than wait to be rescued. At the beginning my biggest fear was that they’d come across as Mary Sues. (Mary Sue is a term originated from fanfiction, and refers to an author self-insert. She tends to be too perfect and admired by all.)

Fortunately, my fears seem to be unfounded. I’d been criticized for many things, but never for that. With all this said, I’m afraid I stepped over the line in Dead Man and the Army of Frogs with the character called Old Crone. She’s mad, frumpy, and has an extreme obsession of cheese—clearly and idealized version of me. This is how Denton describes her:

“She wore jeans, T-shirt, and a baggy cardigan with sagging pockets. No shoes. Her hair was in a messy bun, held together with chopsticks and yellow pencils. However, her eyes were the oddest: one gray, the other amber. They didn’t look in the same direction either.”

Okay, there are elements of exaggeration—my eyes are boring brown and both look at the same direction at all times. However, the Old Crone’s passion for cheese is totally me. See for yourself in this short excerpt:

The Old Crone rolled her eyes. Both of them, although they were rolling in opposite directions. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you curdbrains the key to a good relationship is communication?” She snorted and turned her head. “Hob! Emmentaler!” 
There were sounds of shuffling at the other side of the room and a short time later Hobart Brown appeared with three paper plates of cheese. One had several slices piled on top and he handed it to the Old Crone. The other two had one slice each. He held one plate out to Bran, who took one bite out of the cheese slice and placed it back. When it was Denton’s turn he did the same. It seemed like the safest thing to do. Mr. Brown retreated to the other side of the room. 
The Old Crone slouched in her chair, thoughtfully munching on her Emmentaler. Both her eyes stared off into the distance. There was silence except for an unseen clock tick-tocking somewhere. “Salientia,” she said and stuffed the last piece of cheese in her mouth. 
“Funny, that’s what the naasi said,” Denton blurted out. 
“Naasi? What naasi?” she swiftly leaned forward while her yellow eyes skewered him. 
“Err, it’s a demonic spirit, who—“ 
“I know what a naasi is,” she snapped. “Where did you come across it and when?” 
“In a public bathroom, on New Year’s Eve. It was busy possessing Lenny. So we took them home and convince the naasi to go back where it came from.” 
“Who’s Lenny?” 
“Just some guy, who drinks too much and gets himself into trouble, even when he’s not possessed.” 
“Hm.” She took a pair of reading glasses from the pocket of her cardigan and pushed them up on her nose. Next she snatched a pencil from her hair and began to scribble some sort of equation on her now empty plate. She muttered under her breath as she did. “If I carry the six to the house of Mercury…no, it’s wrong…oh, wait…add the tail…times cemetery…yes, of course, it makes sense now…” She leapt up. “I need to check this against the shipping charts. You can go now, but I’ll need you again soon.” Without further explanation she rushed out through one of the many doors. 
Hobart Brown emerged from behind a large desk. 
“She’s quite mad, isn’t she?” Denton said as he stood up, ready to leave. 
“We’re all mad here,” the little man replied without a trace of a smile. “I’ll see you out.” 
“We know the way,” Denton replied. 
“The back door is quicker,” the Mr. Brown replied and marched to the one wall without a door. He pushed on the shelves and they moved to reveal an opening. Before they could blink Bran and Denton stood in a dark alley that reeked of garbage and piss. 
“We could’ve gone in this way. It would’ve been so much simpler.” Denton pulled out his phone to check their location and could hardly believe what he saw. “We’re halfway across town from where we entered. How did she do it?” he asked, but Bran was already gone, at the foot of the alley. Denton hurried after. 
When Denton caught up with him, Bran was standing at the curb and scanning the street up and down. “What was all the stuff with the cheese about?” Denton asked. 
“Tyromancy—divination by cheese.” Bran waved his arm at an approaching yellow cab. 
“Well, this has been without a question the weirdest night of my life. Nothing can top it.” 
“Pray you’re right.” Bran’s expression was grim, even for him.


Dead Man & the Army of Frogs

All Denton wanted was a few minions. He got frogs instead.

Web developer by day and necromancer by night, Denton Mills is used to seeing things nobody else can. When he starts hallucinating frogs, he simply assumes they have something to do with his boyfriend Bran's obsession.

Bran Maurell is a witch, who in a youthful outburst, accidentally turned his then-lover, Peter, into a croaker. Bran has been trying ever since to reverse the spell. A fresh amphibian encounter only spurs him to double his efforts.

As if Peter's ghost coming between them weren't enough, Denton and Bran are forced to deal with several errant spirits stalking the citizens of Chicago. Between a French chef who refuses to admit he's dead, and malevolent creatures bent on causing mayhem, jealousy may be the least of Denton's problems.

Coming to the usual retailer on August 5, 2014


Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren't romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.

Lou's favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.

Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.


  1. How many more days before it comes out!?!? *drums fingers, crosses arms* Can hardly wait. I'm off to re-read the previous books...again.

    1. Have you read the free short "Dead Man and the Lustful Spirit" yet? It's not essential but but the story has hints to what to come. ;)

  2. Once more with feeling. I've tried 3 times to leave a comment now. I HATE Gurgle.

    Ok... so... what I was TRYING to say. Love this Lou, I love people who have had 'misspent' lives. So much more interesting than your current variety type of person. This was a lot of fun. Loved it. :-) Aloha Meg

    1. And that would be 'garden' variety type of person... Hell, won't be doing any editing today. LOL.

    2. Hey, Meg. Stop editing. Kick back and have a cocktail. :)