IN DRAGON AGE: INQUISITION, WHY IS READING ROMANCE AS A HOBBY SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF?

Cassandra Pentaghast

Cassandra Pentaghast

Dragon Age: Inquisition is the third game in a series of fantasy RPGs set in the tumultuous world of Thedas. Its developer, BioWare, is great at world-building and story (most of the time), and their games include romance options for your playable character, so of course I love that, too. I’m not about to opine on their overall success with portraying romances, but with one little side mission you complete for one of your party companions.

At the time, I thought it was adorable that one of the Inquisitor’s companions was taking a little solace from the shitstorm of world-ending events by reading some romance. Now that I’ve had time to think about it some more, a couple of not-so-adorable things jump out at me. (Spoiler Warning: this post reveals the identity of two of the player character’s party companions as well as the contents of a small side mission.) Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E8: FORM AND VOID (Episode Recap)

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The camera slowly zooms in on an old, one-story brick building with a mural painted on the side similar to the one in the shutdown Light of the Way school, one of an antlered woman in a forest. We hear Errol speaking and then we see him from behind. He’s cheerfully talking to a man who’s tied spread-eagle to a table in front of him. On Errol’s bare back, we see the spiral brand as well as other scars. He says he’ll bring the man water later if he’s good, and then says, “Bye, Daddy.”

Errol leaves the brick building and approaches a large house across an overgrown driveway. The house is reminiscent of (and probably is) the “master’s” house of an old plantation. Errol plays with an aggressive German Shepard. Inside the main house is a vast amount of hoarded items: dolls, magazines, etc. Errol stops to watch an old Cary Grant movie (North by Northwest, I think) playing on a TV by the stairs. A woman calls to him and Errol replies in a British accent. He goes to the kitchen where the woman is cooking and says, “It’s been weeks since I left my mark. Would that they had eyes to see.” Read more

WHERE THINGS STAND

It’s time for some straight talk.

There’s a few reasons why you might be on my site:

  1. To read how obsessed I am over True Detective.
  2. To look at my published works or to find out what kind of person wrote these things.
  3. To see if I’ve reacted in any way to recent events surrounding Ellora’s Cave.
  4. You have no idea how you got here. Maybe a wizard did it?

I’m writing to address items #2 and #3 in that list of possibilities. Let’s get real here.

While you can still peruse the bibliographies for my two time-travel historical novels or read deleted scenes from some of my other works, you won’t find anything about the six separate titles I’ve published over the years. If you have no idea what happened in the last few days to make me take that information down, I’ll direct you to a Tumblr masterpost, which should illuminate you.

What does this all mean for my writing?

I want to stress that outside of one incident that I’m not going to describe here, I’ve always had a very professional relationship with Ellora’s Cave. I am grateful that they ever decided to publish me. I met many very nice individuals.

For a long while, especially as I finally near the end of my current WIP’s first draft, I have been considering self-publishing. I desire more control over things like cover design and editing choices. I desire more control over when my newest titles appear and to understand where my sales come from. In addition, I have been considering how my writing has evolved from my first novel to my latest. Certain stories I’ve published no longer reflect my brand, which may also be in need of an overhaul.

As countless authors, agents, editors, and other industry professionals have said over and over, the publishing industry has been changing rapidly. I raised my head after three years of struggling to finish a story while holding down a toxic day job and found myself not at the back of the pack but still at the starting line. On top of maintaining a social media presence, creating and executing all my own marketing (on a tiny budget), awkward attempts to network, and y’know, writing…very slowly…keeping up with the changes and the latest news seemed like too much for me. I got discouraged many times. I shut my laptop on days when I should have been trying to write.

I also know that there’s lots of other writers out there in the same boat as me, and that there’s a lot of resources for me to utilize. I just have to take advantage of them and keep picking myself up.

In the end, I figured that if my monthly royalty checks from EC are less than some ten-year-olds get as a monthly allowance, I could only do as well or better if I self-publish, and I might as well enjoy the greater creative control that self-publishing offers.

For all these reasons, I was already certain that I’d request a reversion of rights on some, if not all, of my titles with Ellora’s Cave. The brouhaha over the past weekend did not influence my decision. It merely hastened my decision.

What’s going to happen now?

It may not happen right away, but you’ll continue to see changes to this website. EC has some time to process the reversion request, so until they do, I ask that you not purchase any of my books. All of them were published through EC, so even if you were interested in supporting my non-EC titles, you and I are both SOL. (Seriously, though, thanks if you were interested, but don’t worry that I was counting on that money. I’m fine.)

Once my rights have reverted, some of my back list will be made available again. Some of it won’t. I might edit some of them, or I might not. How long will all this take once my rights have reverted? Well, it’s just little old me figuring out this fancy self-publishing thing: new covers, formatting, how to publish on which platforms, etc. I have no idea at this time. I’m not discouraging you from poking me about it, but just know that I may not have a satisfying answer. Instead, we could trade our favorite cat macros?

Final Thoughts

If you did come here to find out how this affected me…wow. Seriously, thank you. That’s very sweet of you. Beyond that, all I ask is for your support and patience. A couple “go get ‘em, tiger!” tweets would also be welcome.

And now, back to my obsession with True Detective.

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E7: AFTER YOU’VE GONE (Episode Recap)

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It’s present day. Rust and Marty are grabbing that beer together. They comment on how they’ve aged and Marty says,”Father time has his way with us all.” Marty asks why they’re there, and Rust explains that the SPD is looking at him for the Lake Charles murder. He frets over the lack of press for the murder and a potential cover-up; his rhetoric unfortunately sounds paranoid. Marty expresses concern for Rust’s health, and Rust admits he’s been “functional but hammered” for the past ten years, eight of which he spent back in Alaska working fishing boats and bars.

Marty asks why Rust would come back, and Rust says it’s the same reason why he’s talking to Marty. “A man remembers his debts”, he says, which Marty mistakenly takes as meaning that Rust believes he owes Marty some kind of debt. When Marty says he doesn’t “dwell on the past”, Rust says, “Well, it must be nice.” Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E6: HAUNTED HOUSES (Episode Recap)

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A guard escorts young Marty to the jail’s holding cells. The guard unlocks the door to a cell containing two young white men, saying he needs to go on his rounds and will return in about twenty minutes. The young men look nervous, and we learn that these two were the ones found in a car with Marty’s daughter. One insists he didn’t know that Audrey’s father was a cop, that he meant no disrespect. His friend agrees that they didn’t mean any disrespect. Marty, deceivingly calm, informs them while removing his ring that they’re looking at statutory rape charges. He asks if they know what happens to “pretty boys like [them] who go up to the farm on statch rape charges”, implying at least assault if not also sexual assault. He removes his jacket, marvels at how their cell door just swung open, and then invites to step out “for some air”.

The two young men know exactly what’s going on. One says he doesn’t care to leave the cell, saying he thinks Marty is “a little angry”. Marty rolls up his sleeves and remarks that telling him how he feels is “patronizing”. He gives them two choices: letting him assault them and agreeing never to come near his daughter again, or being charged with statutory rape. He then pulls on a pair of black leather gloves and coaxes one man out of the cell. “Man’s games charges a man’s price,” he says before delivering several hard punches to the man’s face and stomach. The other young man is terrified. He obviously is not going to leave the cell for similar “punishment”, so Marty enters the cell. Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E5: THE SECRET FATE OF ALL LIFE (Episode Recap)

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A red truck with a white trailer pulls up to a roadside bar. Young Rust and Ginger are waiting inside. A man with shaggy hair and a beard walks in. Ginger and Rust sit at a booth across from this man, who we learn is not Reggie Ledoux but someone who works directly with him (present-day Marty mentioned Duwall in the last episode). Ginger makes up an excuse about the injuries to his face and Rust starts in on his fake drug deal, “coke for crystal”. Duwall seems preternaturally suspicious and turns Rust down. Rust asks why, and the man leans forward to say, “I can see your soul at the edges of your eyes. It’s corrosive, like acid. You got a demon, little man, and I don’t like your face. It makes me want to do things to it.” Duwall chastises Ginger and then says to Rust, “There’s a shadow on you, son.” He leaves.

  • (pessimism/realism, self-deception; nihilism) As philosopher Paul J. Ennis put it in his Vulture.com interview, “This [anti-natalist, nihilistic] worldview is often correlated with self-destructiveness and I would say Rust’s fascination with murders, drugs, and the criminal lifestyle flower naturally from it.” Rust’s realism/pessimism (as opposed to his nihilistic views) also feed into his characterization. To quote Ennis again:

[Rust] expects people to be mired in self-deception, and that allows him to dig deeper behind the masks they wear to obscure what is really going on. However, there is a price to pay for this and we see that such a bleak understanding of the world can also result in the recklessness that forms part of his character.

It’s usually Rust who has an uncanny read on people, but Duwall (someone very close to the killer’s inner circle, if not a member of that inner circle) immediately picks up on the darkness in Rust. That awareness puts Duwall at the same level of bleak awareness as Rust, albeit on the self-serving and exploitative side of it.

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TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E4: WHO GOES THERE (Episode Recap)

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Young Rust and Marty interrogate Dora Lange’s ex-husband Charlie about his former cellmate, Reggie Ledoux. They accuse Charlie of having Reggie murder Dora on his behalf, which Charlie denies. The notion that Reggie killed Dora greatly upsets him, but Rust isn’t buying his act, which only makes Charlie angrier. Charlie confirms that he talked to Reggie about Dora, and that early in his sentence before she asked for a divorce, Dora gave him explicit Polaroids, which he also showed to Reggie.

Rust asks about Charlie and Reggie getting along as cellmates, and Charlie says they did only out of necessity. He didn’t want to befriend Reggie because the guy was “[a] creep”. Marty wants to know why Reggie’s a creep, and Charlie tells them Reggie’s a “chemist” who cooks down things like kitchen cleansers to get high, which is a “big deal in [prison]”. Charlie then recounts some of the things Reggie said while high with Charlie at night, such a “place down south where all these rich men go to devil-worship” and to sacrifice women and children. Charlie name-drops Carcosa and the Yellow King, and mentions that Reggie has a brand on his back in the shape of a spiral, which Reggie told him was “their sign”. Read more

TRUE DETECTIVE, S1E3: A LOCKED ROOM (Episode Recap)

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Rust and Marty have called in backup to gather photographs and any physical evidence from the abandoned church. Then we find ourselves at a tent revival sermon where Minister Joel Theriot is preaching. He says to the congregation, “You are a stranger to yourself, and yet He knows you.” Theriot talks of God as being both the stars and the wind between. Then he says, “This world is a veil, and the face you wear is not your own.”

  • (pessimism, hypocrisy as the norm; Chambers reference) Already some interesting things being said. Theriot speaks of self-deception. The world as a veil, like Rust’s “secret truth of the universe” line from the last episode, calls to the “forbidden knowledge” theme common to the short stories of Chambers and his contemporaries. When Theriot tells the congregation that the faces they wear are not their own, it’s possibly a reference to the usage of masks in Chambers’ stories. “The Mask” is one of the titles in The King in Yellow compilation, which is introduced by another of the few excerpts from the imaginary The King in Yellow play. I point out this possible reference only because we’ll hear another very clear reference to masks later in the season.

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