Saturday, September 11, 2010

Series Review: Lords of the Underworld

The next review I'd like to write is on a favored series, The Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter. Gena Showalter has quite a few series and stand alone novels, some of which I've read and some I haven't yet had the pleasure. I've enjoyed everything she's written, but the Lords are a personal favorite. (And there's no vampires!! *smiley face*). I'm sure her other series will make it to a review in this blog in the future (even the ones with vampires...).

Series Overview: There's a lot to like about this series and little to dislike. Although the actual dynamic of the series general plot is a very old, tried and true, how the details and old ideas are put together are original.

The series starts outside Budapest with a castle full of dark, brooding, muscle bound men who keep to themselves. One day a woman stumbles on to their grounds and one of these brooding males takes a shine to her and protects her, in his own gruff way, from the wrath of the rest of his brothers. So far, not so original. Quite a few paranormal romance series starts out as such, but this one was well written and intriguing so I continued to read (and they weren't vampires, which is always a plus).

Here's the interesting part. Gena Showalter has weaved together Greek mythology with more modern day religious icons to create the Lords. Whereas Zeus and the other gods are real in this world, so are Lucifer and a whole host of demons. The titans and a few angels are even thrown in there for good measure.

A very long time ago, a group of demons escaped from hell and ran rampant on earth. As a punishment, the Greek gods put together an inescapable box. The demons were rounded up and placed in the box. A race of men and women were created for the sole purpose of guarding this box. When Pandora was put in charge of the box's safekeeping, there were those who were jealous. Pandora was killed and the box was opened, releasing the evil on the earth again.

Once more the demons were rounded up, but instead of being placed back in the box, they were placed inside each of the warriors that had a hand in their release from Pandora's box. This was a punishment for both the demon and the warrior. Being immortals, they would suffer together forever, the demon once again contained and the warrior driven insane from the demon's torments.

So, of course, after a thousand years or so, each of them start to find females and falls head over heals for them. Funny how that always seems to happen at the same time in each and every series. And also, they are waging war with some big bad human contingent set on their extermination.

Here is a listing of the current books and a few future books (note there are also two short stories not listed below):

  • The Darkest Night - Maddox, the keeper of Violence
  • The Darkest Kiss - Lucien, the keeper of Death
  • The Darkest Pleasure - Reyes, the keeper of Pain
  • The Darkest Whisper - Sabin, the keeper of Doubt
  • The Darkest Passion - Aeron, the keeper of Wrath
  • The Darkest Lie - Gideon, the keeper of Lies
  • The Darkest Secret (May 2011) - Amun, keeper of Secrets
  • The Darkest Surrender (July 2011) - Strider, keeper of Defeat 

Conclusion: I'm a huge Gena Showalter fan. She hasn't disappointed yet. I love her writing style and have long wished to better my own skill so I can write in a similar style. This is one of the best series I've read and I highly recommend it to any paranormal romance fans out there. There's a little of everything, action, adventure, love, romance, betrayal, and everything else (except vampires! no vampires!). There's some hint at a crossover to her other series and even a mention of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. It's a world filled with life like characters that you immediately sympathize with and only want to see them happy, even if they are demons.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Not Really Gone

It's been a little while since I posted, but wanted to reassure everyone that I'm not really gone. I've been around, stewing on ideas, lurking on various writing websites. Never fear, I haven't given up or lost the writing bug. With a lot going on personally, I needed a break.

So, what's been going on you ask? Well, only because you asked, I did manage to finish three short stories (one suspense, one horror and one teaser to a paranormal romance series I've been thinking quite a lot about) and work out the rest of the plots of my urban fantasy novel and my paranormal romance novella.

I submitted one short story to a flash fiction contest. It was my very first submission and was very exciting to see the process. According to the publisher, there were 20 spots and 60 submissions. They were looking for fantasy and my story borderlined on romance. So, with all that in mind, I wasnt surprised that I got my first rejection letter.

Otherwise, I've only been toying with writing. That is, until the last couple days. I started a new project. It was meant for a particular purpose, but as most projects do, it took on a life of it's own. Now it is something very different, but very special and dear to me. It is a memoir of sorts and is so personal that I doubt I would ever share it or dare publish it. Perhaps after I am a successful writer and someone goes through my things once I've died. Or then, maybe not.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You're so progressive

My last post was about verb tense. Exciting stuff I know. As a follow up, I’d like to discuss the progressive form of each tense.

So what’s progressive form? Well, it means that the action of the verb is continuing or progressing. It will contain some version of the verb to be and a present participle (an ‘ing verb).


   Present                I am walking / He is walking

   Present perfect    I have been walking / He has been walking

   Past                    I was walking

   Past perfect        I had been walking

   Future                I will/shall be walking

   Future perfect    I will/shall have been walking

“Mary is counting the money.”
“While John was walking to the store, he tripped over a stone.”
Now, tie it in with perfect tense and it gets all sorts of confusing:

“Jane will have been camping for three days come this Tuesday.”
“By the time John got to the store, Mary had been counting all the money.”
So, if progressive means the action is continuing and perfect means the action has completed, then which is it?

Trust me. I know how confusing it is. It took me a little while and a lot of thinking to wrap my little brain around this concept. It’s all about timing.

Let’s take the first example:

“Jane will have been camping for three days come this Tuesday.”
This is the progressive form of future perfect tense. What this says is that Jane is currently camping (the continuing “progressive” part). On Tuesday, three days of camping will be completed (the completed “perfect” part).

Right now the action is ongoing, but it has a definitive end.

Let’s take the second example:

“By the time John got to the store, Mary had been counting all the money.”
This is the progressive form of past perfect tense. The past perfect tense means that something happened in the “past” past and is complete. However, throw the progressive form in there and it changes everything. This example says that Mary had already been counting the money before John got to the store (the past perfect part), but she is still counting all the money (the continuing “progressive” part).

So why is it so complex? Because now, you can say almost anything happened at any time and is either completed or still going on at any other point in time in one compact sentence instead of a whole paragraph.

Instead of saying:

“Mary started to count the money. John got to the store. She continued to count.”
You can condense all three into our example:

“By the time John got to the store, Mary had been counting all the money.”
Now, don’t get all excited and start condensing all your sentences into the progressive form. There is a time and a place for everything and if you start using the progressive form to emphasize timing throughout your work, the other events start to take a backseat. Then, when you do have an important scene, where timing is crucial, the reader won’t notice.

Even in our example, Mary and John are not the important elements. The fact that Mary is counting the money as John got to the store is the part that has emphasis. Perhaps that’s what we wanted to accomplish and perhaps it’s not.

Only use it when timing is important and that’s what you’re trying to emphasize. This is where a lot of writers get caught. They think they can condense their writing, but end up changing the focus of the sentence. Is it important that John went to the store, or that Mary hadn’t finished counting by the time he got there?

It’s your story. You decide what’s important.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why are you so tense?

Verb tense. Wow. Am I really going to talk about verb tense? As a matter of fact, I am. Besides the basic present and past (and sometimes future), I really don’t give tense much thought on a day to day basis. It just comes out of my mouth when I speak and if it sounds right, I use it. Now that I’m writing, I sound it out in my head to see if it “sounds” right, but it would be much better if I wrote it correctly to begin with.

So, I started to re-educate myself on basic grammar and even if I knew the rule, I wanted to learn what everything was technically called. For whatever reason, I latched onto tense first. Here’s what I scrounged up.

There are six tenses.

   Simple past               I walked

   Simple present          I walk

   Simple future            I will/shall walk

   Past perfect              I had walked

   Present perfect         I have walked

   Future perfect          I will/shall have walked

Okay, simple tense I understand quite well. I grasp all three simple tenses and use them correctly and effectively every day. Perfect tense, however, is a different story.

First of all, what does “perfect” mean? Why call it past “perfect” tense? Because perfect means completed. When I say, “I had walked,” it means that I walked at some point in the past and I completed my walking. Here are a few examples:

“I walked to the store.” – This is open ended. You could still be walking or at the store.
“I had walked to the store.” – Implies you walked to the store, did you what you needed to do and you are no longer there.
What about future and future perfect?

“When I’m done with dinner, I will walk to the store”. – this says that you are going to finish your dinner and then you are going to walk to the store.
“When I’m done with dinner, I will have walked to the store.” – This says, by the time you are finished with dinner, you will be at the store.
The examples aren’t exactly how we would naturally word something when we speak or write, but do you see the difference in the meaning by changing from future to future perfect?

Recently, I have been running into the past perfect tense a lot. Many writers will if they use past tense, which is the norm (although, not necessarily a standard). What happens when someone in the past is talking about something further in the past, like a flashback (sometimes jokingly referred to as the “past” past tense)?

“John wanted me to take a shower, but I had taken a bath already.”

“Although Mary had eaten earlier, her stomach growled.”

“By the time Jane reached her house, she had worked up a sweat.”

Since the writing is already in the past, to point out something that happened further in the past, we used past perfect.

There’s a catch in there. Sometimes, you can use “had” and past perfect too much. In today’s written world, if the meaning is there and there is no implication otherwise, you don’t have to get all fancy. To take a previous example:

“Mary asked me where I got the milk. I told her that I walked to the store this morning.”

“Mary asked me where I got the milk. I told her that I had walked to the store this morning.”

Technically, the reader will pick up the same meaning from both examples because of the context. If you are writing a long flashback and “had” is all over the place and becoming annoying, it’s okay to drop it if the meaning remains the same or if the reader knows from the context that it’s happening in the “past” past, but be very careful, because it’s very easy to change meaning unintentionally.

“When I got to the house, my ice cream melted” – I got to the house, THEN my ice cream melted. Messy house.
“When I got to the house, my ice cream had melted” – My ice cream melted by the time I got to the house. Messy car ride to the house.
As always, everything in moderation and check for meaning. We writers sometimes know what we are trying to say, but don’t get it down on paper the way we think we do. This is especially true when working with the perfect tense.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I feel so weak (Part I)

In my quest to improve my grammar and overall writing style, I stumbled on a reference to weak words. Not realizing that words could be strong or weak, I slogged forward into the unknown.
As it turns out, words that are vague or frequently used, so that they lose their forcefulness, are considered weak. Who knew? Well, a lot of people, apparently, but I had missed the memo. I had found yet more words that were grammatically correct, but were frowned upon by the writing community.

Determined to find a listing of these words to strike them out of my vocabulary, I found quite a lot of differing answers as to what a weak word actually was. Sure there are standard words, but sometimes it just comes down to what you use often and how you use it. I know one phrase I tend to write when limited on my point of view is, “seemed to” or “seemed as if”.

“Mary seemed to agree”

“Jane seemed as if her heart were breaking.”

I’m not in Mary or April’s point of view, so we can’t really know what they are thinking. Seems like a good alternative, right? Well, let’s see if we can make it stronger.

“Mary nodded her head in agreement.”

“Jane’s heart breaking cries echoed down the street.”

I had to reword a bit, but it’s stronger and more descriptive. You can now picture Mary agreeing or Jane’s tears.

A recent story I wrote needed to be edited. “Perfect time to test out my weak words!” I thought. My plan of attack consisted of me going through the story once for plot holes, once for grammar, then once again for style. When I thought I had everything edited to perfection, I did a search for the following words.

  • Walked
  • Looked
  • Was
  • Seemed
  • As if
  • Silent (I knew I used this word at a lot)
  • Quiet (this one too)
What I found really opened my eyes. Here I had a story that, in my mind, was polished and done. I did a search and realized how many weak words I still had left in there. I edited several sentences and now feel even better about my story.

Notice that silent and quiet are not necessarily weak words, but I knew I had used both several times in a 7,900 word story. Just by virtue of being repeatedly hit over the head with the words, the reader is going to get sick of hearing how quiet/silent it is and the words will lose their strength. What I had done was make a strong word into a weak one by overuse. (Not to mention that it’s annoying when writers use the same word over and over…and over.)

Okay, so we covered overuse, but what about vague words? Words like seemed, looked, walked, turned, etc. are vague. What sounds better?

“He walked down the street.”
“He sauntered down the street.”

Which gives you a better mental image of the man? How about..

“He flew down the street like the fires of hell were licking at his toes.”

Much better than just…

“He ran down the street.”

Of course you don’t have to get so flowery, but my point is that if you aren’t so vague, you’ll paint a clearer picture of what’s going on in the scene.

Yeah, you could use adverbs, but I’ve already discussed their evils. It’s much better to use a strong action verb instead.

This might mean you have to get a little creative in your wording, but isn’t that the point? You don’t want your writing to be boring do you? Get creative. Have fun with it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Series Review: The Nightwalkers

Today’s series has a large and very loyal fan base. It’s The Nightwalkers, a paranormal romance series by Jaquelyn Frank ( Although there are vampires, they don’t take a predominant role, which appealed to me greatly in this paranormal romance market flooded with angsty teenage girls and the vampires that love their whininess.

There are several species of Nightwalkers. It’s a generic term used for all of the creatures out there that aren’t human. Nearly all of the Nightwalkers can’t go out in the daylight for one reason or another, hence the name, but this series primarily focuses on demons. It does side track to shapeshifters, vampires and a few others, but the main story line throughout the series is demon.

Series Overview: This series has a lot of plusses, but it also has a lot of minuses. I don’t want to offend any of the hardcore fans out there, but I had to put down the second book (and the third) several times just to take a break. I could have skipped the first third of the book and been fine because the author took that long to explain what happened in the first book. I know why she did it, to make each book stand alone in case someone picked up the second one first, but for those of us who had read the first one, it was incredibly boring. It does get better as the series progresses, and the author uses other methods to explain what’s happened so far in the story.

On the other hand, the world that the author has created is rich and unique. One of my requirements of a good series is that I can lose myself in the world, and I found myself getting lost in these books quite often (in a good way). I liked the characters and even though the writing style of the author annoyed me, I felt connected enough to those characters to continue with the rest of the series. However, I will not be picking up her other two series.

Jacob – This book drew me into the series immediately. Jacob is an enforcer for the demon race. He’s kinda like their police force. Most of his job is keeping demons away from humans. When he becomes uncontrollably drawn to one human in particular, who will enforce him?

Jacob was my favorite book in the series. It introduces the world and there’s just so much potential.

Gideon – This one had the potential of being my favorite if it wasn’t a retelling of the first book and then Gideon’s story. The plot of this one was right up my alley and could have really been fabulous. However, the author likes to use a lot of the telling style. Normally, I don’t mind some telling, but the first third of this book is almost all telling and it got really boring, really quickly. What kept me reading were the characters.

We’re also introduced to the shapeshifters and yet more of this wonderful world is revealed.

Elijah – If you wanted to know more about the shapeshifters, this is the book. There is quite a bit less telling in this book and the style in general is much better. However, these particular characters weren’t my personal favorite. So it remains a good book in the series, but not my favorite.

Damien – We’ve gotten hints about Damien up to this point in the series and we finally get his story. This book deviates from demons and focuses on vampires and shapeshifters almost exclusively. Again, it is better written, but the characters were not my favorite. This one does get more into the ongoing plot and moves the whole series forward. I have to admit that I enjoyed that part.

Noah – I had been looking forward to this book. Noah was one of my favorite characters and I really wanted to see him with a happy ending. That said, I literally put the book down and started yelling because I was so disappointed at his actions. It totally ruined my view of this very beloved character. He does make up for it and everything comes together in the end, but the beginning left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Otherwise, it was a decent book in the series. However, the ongoing plots were barely touched. I don’t know if she plans more in this series, but there are several loose ends that need to be tied up.

Conclusion: Some people rave about this series and how great it is. I think it had potential (I think I’ve used that word very liberally in this post so far), but it ended up fizzling or at least not being as great as it could have been. The plots themselves, the world, and the characters are wonderful. It’s the writing style and the constant rehashing of previous books that turned me off the most (not to mention my disillusionment of Noah in the last book).

If I knew then, what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this series. Now that I’ve been immersed in the world, I’d continue reading if more books were put out just to see what happens.

She does have two other series going, but I will not be reading them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Technology, It's Here to Stay

To the left is an actual picture of my keyboard. Well, one on my keyboards. Yes, it's quite dusty. I am known to be rough of keyboards and mice. I've done a lot of writing on that particular keyboard. However, I'm finding that, in the last couple months, I've been branching out leaving my trusty keyboard to sit and collect dust.

As posted about previously, I've purchased several nifty gadgets recently. Most of them were acquired under the guise of helping my writing. And they have. I've never been so productive.

If I have an idea, I jot it down immediately so I don't forget. Don't have pencil and paper? That's okay, let me pull out my netbook and/or smartphone. In fact, I started this post on my smartphone and am now finishing it on a netbook.

So, with technology so prevalent and easy to use, I wondered if there were writers who still used the reliable old pen and paper. Even a huge techno-geek like myself has used pen and paper at times, but, admittedly, I haven't in several months. I have too many alternatives and I can type faster than I can hand write.

Which brings me to another point. When I hand write, I can't keep up with the thoughts in my head and I end up missing quite a lot and only writing the highlights. If I type out my thoughts, I get more recorded. True, not every thought I have is a good one and perhaps it's a good thing that they don't all get recorded, but how am I going to know unless I get everything down so I can look at it later?

With technology, also comes distraction. I can check websites, forums, chats, ebooks, blogs, etc. all day long and not get a thing done, if I'm not careful. A whole new set of organizational skills and self-control are needed. At this very moment, I have a netbook, a phone, an mp3 player and a television in front of me and most of them running at the same time, all individually capable of distracting me for several hours. With all of them in front of me at the same time, there's a whole new level of distraction. There's distractions from my distractions.

So maybe pen, paper and a quiet room isn't so bad after all? Or maybe it's just up to every individual's tastes and preferences.

I tend to work better with technology, even with all the distractions. That doesn't mean that others won't work better with the old non-computerized standbys.

How do you work best?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Editing and Re-Editing, Just Stop it Already

Most writers love writing. That’s pretty much a given. However, a good portion of those writers hate going back and editing. They’d rather continue with the flow of new ideas and just write, write, write.

I’m a little weird, so of course, I’m one that actually does like to go back and read my work and polish it until it’s blindingly shiny. In fact, I sometimes take so much time on editing and re-editing that I don’t work on new ideas. Worst of all, I’ll sometimes go back and start editing a story that’s still not finished.

What that means is that the first few chapters of my story is great, the middle so-so, and the end is non-existent. Not good. At this rate, I’ll never finish anything.

As it turns out, I’m not completely alone. This is a trap that a lot of new writers fall into and it’s a trap that is the more dangerous to new writers in particular. So not only are we susceptible to this, we’re the group it negatively affects the most. Great.

So why is it a trap? As mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, I’m having trouble actually finishing stories. This is why. I’m so wrapped up in editing the beginning, that I’m not writing the end. Bad newbie writer!

Okay, so why is it more dangerous to new writers? I’m constantly learning things about writing. Every day that I write and/or research, I learn more and improve my skills. So, any edits I make now, will probably be changed later as I improve further. Basically, I’m wasting my time editing something that’s just going to be changed later anyway.

But hold on there. Experienced writers can fall into this trap as well. Quite a lot of writers like to spew forth words and write whatever comes to mind, not worrying about grammar and style. All that will be worked out in editing. So, why not start editing right away and help the process along? Well, I’ll tell you why not.

When writing, the author gets in touch with their creative side. Lots of ideas start flowing and plots, characters and other ideas often will change midstream. By the end of the book/story, what you wrote in the beginning might very well be edited out altogether. So if you went in and edited as you went, you just wasted time on editing something that’s no longer included. That’s valuable time (since most of us writers have a full time job to “pay the bills”) that you could have used to write.

That’s what I’m fighting myself over. I really, really, REALLY want to go back and edit and edit and edit some more. I swear it’s like a compulsion. But I’m not getting anything finished.

So here’s what I’m doing. I’m fighting the compulsion. I’m forcing myself to not go back and either write new material or edit finished work only. Yeah, I can go back and reread passages to get back in the flow of things. If I see a glaring error, I allow myself to change it, but I don't go back purposely to edit now.

I have to say, it’s actually working. I finished two stories and have outlined two more so that they’ll be done in about a week. With a little bit of focus, I went from no stories done to almost having four done. That’s quite a difference.

Anyone else suffer from the constant need to go back and perfect your work before it’s done?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Series Review: Black Dagger Brotherhood

Okay, so this is a couple days late. I know you all were just waiting with anticipation.

Today, we’re going to explore the Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward ( This is an intense series from the point of view of the vampires. Humans are the bad guys and vampires just want to be left alone.

Series Overview: Overall, JR Ward creates a world from the vampire’s perspective. They don’t feed off humans, they don’t hurt humans at all really (unless the humans strike first). In essence, they are completely harmless and just want to live their lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Hunted down and often tortured, their race is dwindling. Only the Black Dagger Brotherhood stands in the way of their extinction.

The Brotherhood is a group of warriors who are enlisted by the king to protect their race. Born only of other warriors and the Chosen (think vampire nuns who exist only to serve their deity and give birth to more brothers), the brotherhood is treated like royalty. Built like mac trucks, they are genetically engineered to be stronger, faster and be fierce protectors.

Ironically enough, the biggest threat to their race is a human militia group, the Lessening Society, led by the Omega (another deity). In this world, vampires don’t even drink human blood; it’s too weak to sustain them. They drink blood of other vampires. They completely and totally leave humans alone, but the lessers insist on killing and torturing them anyway, the big meanies.

The writing is strong and forceful. The plots are usually fairly involved and can be brutal. The characters aren’t always your typical hero/heroine type. They have issues and problems and it’s working through those issues that make the books great.

Here’s what irks me about the books (and these little quirks have totally turned off some people).

1 – For some reason, vampire warriors are gangsta. Everything they say is slang or abbreviated. Quite a few times I had to stop reading to go back and figure out what the heck they were talking about. I usually figured it out, but it did bring me out of the story.

2 – Major brand name dropping. There are constant references to products and brand names. I think this is just her writing style, but some get turned off because they think she’s getting paid to drop names.

3 – This is the one that gets me more than the other two. The names are ridiculous and the “Old Language” from somewhere over in Europe is basically English with a bunch of ‘h’s and ‘r’s stuck in various places. The deity who created vampires is called the Scribe Virgin (and she’s neither scribe nor virgin) and their nemesis is the Omega. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

Dark Lover – this is the start of the series and it starts out with a bang (literally and figuratively). She focuses on the King and a half human/half vampire woman named Beth. This really introduces you into the world and the culture as Beth goes through her coming of age. I found this book enjoyable, but it didn’t enthrall me. It took quite some time for me to pick up the second one. I really didn’t see what the fuss was all about.

Lover Eternal – This is the book that made me a devoted fan of the series. I laughed, I cried, I went through a whole range of emotions. This book focuses on Rhage and a human named Mary. Bella is also introduced and the next book is set up quite nicely. We also start hearing about John Matthew who is key in an ongoing plot throughout the series. (Supposedly, he’s the focus of the next book.)

Lover Awakened – Another great book in the series. So much pain and so much healing. This book focuses on Zsadist and Bella. Some of the other ongoing plots will rip your heart out in this one. There’s a lot going on in the series at this point, so there’s a lot of switching back and forth between the different characters.

Lover Revealed – For many people, this is their favorite one. It was good, but Lover Eternal is still my favorite. This is the story of Butch and Marissa. Marissa got screwed over big time so far, so it’s nice to see her character evolve and grow. Butch has been lingering as a character too and it was time to do something with him.

Lover Unbound – I was extremely anxious to read this book. Vishous was my favorite of the brothers and this was his story. I have to say that he got jipped. In an interview with the author, I found out that Vishous was her least favorite character and that she struggled with this particular book. I have to say that it shows. This story is about Vishous and a little bit about Jane. It’s only redeeming factor is that it really delves into the vampire world and society. Quite a lot is explained in this book. In fact, the author has been criticized that she’d gotten away from the “romance” element and focused on more fantasy instead. Although there is a romance story predominant, it is not the only story and all the other plots do start to compete for dominance.

Lover Enshrined – Since I was disappointed with Vishous’s story, I looked to this one to bring the series back to life for me. Phury is also a favorite of mine and I really wanted to see his life take on a more rewarding path after all he’d been through for his twin brother, Zsadist. This is the story of Phury and Cormia, but as with the previous book, there was very little “romance,” but a whole lot of side plots and soul searching instead.

Lover Avenged – Okay, so after two not quite romance books, I resigned myself to the fact that I was reading this series because the world was so rich and there were a whole lot of side plots going on that I wanted to keep up on. So I read this without expecting too much. This is Rehvenge and Ehlena’s story. I have to say that the romance element was brought back in this book even though there still was quite a lot of side plot still present. Technically, Rehvenge has been a side plot for quite some time and little was known about him. Everything is revealed in this book regarding this character. Ehlena is just sort of along for the ride.

Lover Mine – (To be released next week 4/27) This is John Matthew and Xhex’s story. John’s side plot to this point has been completely heart wrenching and it’s about time for something to get resolved here. This book is set up in the previous book much like Zsadist and Bella’s story was set up. I’m anxious to read this one because of all the other ongoing plots, this one has been lingering the longest and has captivated many fan’s hearts.

Future books – Although the author is also working on another series (Covet), there are plans for more books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Specifically books about Torhment (one of the original brothers), Lassiter (an angel sent to help them) and Pain (a potential female “brother” ), all three have been ongoing plots for awhile now, Torhment having been there from the beginning.

Conclusion: I love this series, even the books that were questionable. I picked it up for the romances, but stayed because of the world. Towards the end of the series, it does get involved and the plots do focus more on events and character growth rather than romance. The romance never disappears, but it is much more downplayed in later books.

Please note that there is sex, violence, blood, torture, more blood, rape, and some very dark elements. If any of those elements offend you (or just the slang and silly names) then don’t pick up this series.

If you can look past the dark elements, the gangsta speak, and the ridiculous names, this is a series that is a must read.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Modern Times

So, I've been away from my computer (home computer) a lot lately. That has seriously put a kink in my writing time. What I've been doing is taking a lot of notes on my smartphone. I even have an app that will let me write using MS Word and update my submission schedule in MS Excel. It's like a itty bitty laptop in my pocket. I have to say that's just super cool.

However, there is a downside (isn't there always?). It's a small screen and the keyboard is miniscule. Yeah, I can type on it and I do a pretty good job of it too, but it's not a computer (well, it is, but it's not a full size computer with a keyboard, etc.). For example, I've been known to write some of my blog entries from my phone and submit them to draft. Because of the screen size, I can't format them, so I have to come home, turn on the computer and format my entry there. 

Wouldn't it be great if I could both write and format with one fell swoop while on the go? Furthermore, wouldn't it be great to actually start writing when the ideas start flowing, no matter where I am, instead of just jotting down ideas for later?

Well, isn't it great that we live in modern times then?  Because the solution is right in front of me.  Literally. I'm in the store right this minute typing away on a netbook. Yes, a netbook.  Not a laptop, but a netbook (really just a smaller laptop with less features, but also cheaper).

Now, I'll be able to just get into the writing that's going through my head as it goes through instead of just taking notes on my phone and hoping I remember all the ideas and nuances that passed through. And on top of that, the battery life is much higher than a standard laptop, so no getting interupted with pesky low power notifications.  Well, not as many anyway.

The downside is that it has a much smaller screen (still bigger than my phone) and comes with Windows 7 Starter. Supposedly it's upgradeable, but what happens to the powermanagement and how sluggish does it get then?

How many others out there use such devices? In this day and age of computers on our phones and so portable, how many writers out there actually use this technology?

Friday, April 9, 2010

In all things, moderation

"To avidly learn is what keeps life interesting," Elisabeth expounded excitedly.  She spent the rest of the day thoughtfully musing over the lessons she'd learned.  The next blog post was written with much excitement.
Did I miss anything?  Can you pick out all the rules I just broke?  I've gone over a few of the more popular rules in my last few posts.

There are plenty more rules out there.  One of them, that was pounded into me in high school, was not to use "There are".  But these were rules that I'd come across recently and that were still under debate or being discussed.
Now that I've researched and gone over each one, I can say I have a much better understanding of why each rule was put in place.  I know most of the negatives and the positives for each one.  However, I still dislike the word "rule".  I'd much rather use "guideline".
The very word rule implies that there are never any exceptions.  Each "rule" I've gone over recently most certainly does have exceptions (depending on who you talk to).  Guideline implies that you should do it a certain way where ever possible, but there are times when you should do it another way.
Just following some of these guidelines has improved my writing exponetially.  For example, here is my original opening paragraph to my book:
Her first thought was, Oh hell no!  Kat had just woke up to find herself tied to a chair in an old, dimly lit basement that smelled like gym socks.  The last thing she remembered was walking down to the corner store to get the milk that her harebrained sister, Kit, forgot.  Kit was always forgetting everything and Kat, as usual, tried to fix it.  This time, however, it landed her in this basement.  Great.  Just great.
Lots of telling, adverbs, etc.  Here's what I have now:
The smell of old gym socks assailed Kat’s nose, waking her. She opened her eyes and scanned her surroundings, trying to figure out what had happened. A florescent light flickered overhead, casting the room and its dingy contents in intermittent darkness. Realizing that her hands were tied behind her and that she was in a strange basement, her first thought was, Oh hell no!
Kat struggled against the ropes, chafing her wrists. It made no difference, she wasn’t about to stay here, no matter how raw and bloody her wrists ended up.

She remembered walking home from the corner store, a bottle of milk in her hand, then a sharp pain on the back of her head. Her harebrained sister, Kit, had forgotten to stop by the store again. As usual, Kat had tried to fix the situation, going out after the milk on her own. This time, however, Kat’s fixing landed her in this basement. Great, just great.

It could still use some work, but it's better.
Here's what I've concluded.  Moderation is the key.  Using the guidelines will help inspire a higher level of writing.  Never settle for poor writing.  Anything can be re-written.  The big question is, is it being re-written for the betterment of the piece?
Sure I can follow all the rules, but by following all the rules, did I just lose the voice that makes me unique?  Is my writing now bland and sound like everyone else's?  Or have I added to the description and drawn the reader further into the story?
Only you can answer that question about your own work.  Often we get caught up in writing for other people.  What will the agents like? The Editors?  The audience?  Sometimes we forget why we started writing to begin with.
Of course, keeping the rules in mind will help when dealing with editors and agents, but also remember that you are writing for you.  Write what makes you happy.  In the end, you're the most important reader.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Series Review: Almost Human

This time, I'm going to review a self published author, Melanie Nowak's Almost Human (1st Trilogy) series (  Okay, I admit it.  I got drawn into the whole Twilight world and really liked it.  There, I said it.  After I was done reading that series, I craved other similar series and did a bit of digging.  During my digging, I found this one.

Although written before Twilight, it does have a similar feel.  The differences are that the heroine is in college and the situations are a bit more "real".  Real as in, there's a 300 year old vampire, of course he's had a few relationships and even fallen in love before.  I mean, come on...

Whenever I read a self published author, such as this, my brain shifts a bit.  Typically (not always) there are going to be typeos, grammatical errors and just the odd thing here and there.  And yes, you do get those, but there are less than I expected.  It's definitely not polished by editors and the like, but for not having that polish, it's not bad.

Overview - A few annoying things come to mind. In particular, she uses bold for emphasis instead of italics.  For whatever reason, that just bothered me (probably more than it should have).  Also, the books are really not stand alone AT ALL.  The series is really just one big book broken out into three parts.

Otherwise, I got my whiney teenage girl/moody vampire fix.  The plot itself drags out a bit, but is pretty solid.  The writing could use some polish, but I was able to get through it.

Note that the plan is to have multiple "trilogies" in the same world but with focus on various characters.  She's currently working on the 2nd Almost Human Trilogy.

Fatal Infatuation - Felicity goes away to college.  She'd been protected her whole life and this is her chance to finally sprout those wings and go out on her own.  She soon finds herself completely alone and a little bit pathetic.  She gets a job, meets a guy, has a run in with a few vampires (Sindy), another vampire (Cain) saves her, yada, yada, yada.

Cain is an elder vampire who has found religion.  He has a mission to convert all the other vampires to drink from animals or at least not kill the poor helpless humans.  If they don't, he kills them.

Of course, the hero and heroine cross paths and are hopelessly attracted to each other and he has to protect his new love interest from the evil Sindy.

Lost Reflections - Here's where you get the skinny on Cain and find out more about the vampire culture and inner workings.  Venom is explained further as well as how to turn humans into vampires.  I do have to admit that the explanation of how everything works is pretty detailed.  However, Cain's story felt a bit forced.

Evolving Ecstasy - The final book that wraps everything up for Felicity and Cain.  I won't spoil anything, but the ending struck me as odd.  Not Cain's part, that actually made sense to me and was a lot more realistic.  No, Felicity's part was what made me think, "Really?"  It just struck me as really soon and fickle.  Then of course, there's a teaser for the next trilogy.

Conclusion - If you liked Twilight, you'll probably like this as well.  However, there are sexual scenes, more violence and more adult situations.  It is not a YA series.

If you don't like Twilight or unpolished work annoys you, it might not be for you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Dialog tags?" I muttered

What are dialog tags?  I'm glad you asked.  Dialog tags are these nifty little words that tell the reader who's speaking.  The most common is "said" as in "He said" or "She said".

Mary said, "But that doesn't make sense."
John said, "Sure it does."
Mary asked, "How can it?"
John explained, "Simple, you just…"
More industrious writers sometimes use more descriptive dialog tags.

Mary panted, "I just ran ten miles."
John gasped, "And you didn't collapse?"
Mary grinned, "Not all of us are as out of shape as you are, John."
John muttered, "I'm not out of shape…"
Now, what's the big deal?  The basic rule is to not use them or if you do, use them sparingly.  Well, how do you know who's talking?  That's a good question.  Take the above example:

Flushed from her run, Mary halted in front of John.  She bent over and placed her hands on her thighs, panting. "I just ran ten miles."
"And you didn't collapse?"  John's eyes nearly popped out of his head.
"Not all of us are as out of shape as you are, John."
"I'm not out of shape…"
There, no tags, yet the reader knows who's speaking AND it was descriptive.  I'm not saying it's great writing, but it's an example.

Okay, here's the debate.  Those that like to use tags like to use them to add description to their writing.  Using "He screamed" is a lot more descriptive than "He said" and adds another dimension.
Those that don't like to use them say that they are distracting and interrupt the flow of the dialog, especially the descriptive tags.  This group feels that using "said" (and MAYBE "asked") actually blends in better than descriptive tags and the eye passes over all the "saids."  That said, they should still be used as sparingly as possible.
I can see both sides.  Yes, they do interrupt the flow and they should be used very sparingly, but sometimes it works better if I use a "she whispered" instead of an alternative.  Yes, I could rewrite it, but sometimes it's even more distracting describing everything before someone says something.
The argument is that the dialog should show everything, so you don't need description.  If someone is angry, their words should show it and so you don't need a "he spat" or "he pouted".  For the most part, I agree with this.  But how do you show when someone whispers?  Okay, I guess the other character could lean in and / or ask them to speak up.  Even a "They spoke in hushed tones." and then start the dialog would work.  I'm sure there's a way to do just about anything, but is it better for the story and the plot?

Also, here's a little pet peeve of mine (and I know several others are in agreement with me on this).  Sometimes these descriptive tags don't make sense.  The most common one to bring up is:

He laughed, "And that's when I told him, that's no goat, that's my wife."

How can you laugh and speak at the same time?  You can't (at least not well).  Either you are laughing or you are speaking.  How to fix this?  It's just a matter of adding a period instead of a comma.

He laughed. (period and begin new sentence.)  "And that's when…"

If you are going to use descriptions for tags, please please please take this into consideration so that your tag at least makes sense.  In the above version, he laughed and THEN he spoke.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

To boldly split an infinitive

I asked myself a question that spurs most of my researching.  "What the heck is a…?"  In this case, I wanted to know what the heck a split infinitive was.  What indeed.  My next question was, "What makes split infinitives so evil?"
Ironically enough, I wrote a masterful split infinitive in the very forum post that caused me to ask the question to begin with.  I didn't even realize what I had done.

"My goal is to one day, many years down the road, have some of this…"

So, what is a split infinitive?  Heck, I don't even know what an infinitive is let alone how to split it.

Infinitives are the base form of a verb usually proceeded by "to".  Examples:  "to be", "to go" or "to run".
Split infinitives are where you split the "to" from the verb by adding words in between:

"I would like to, eventually, leave this place."
"To leave" is split by "eventually".  A way around this is:

"I eventually would like to leave this place."
So my original example of where I split an infinitive, without even trying, could be rephrased like:

"My goal, one day many years down the road, is to have some of this…"

Now, why are split infinitives so evil?  That's a question that has been under debate for a very long time.  There are good arguments on both sides of that fence.

In simple terms, the split infinitives are evil crowd thinks that the "to" should never be separated from the verb.  It's grammatically incorrect and just plain wrong.  Don't do it.
The pro-split infinitives crowd says that it's not really grammatically incorrect and we only think it's wrong to split it because that's what's been pounded into our heads.  The rule goes back to Latin where it is grammatically incorrect to split an infinitive.  Problem with that line of logic is that in Latin infinitives don't have the equivalent of "to."  So it's impossible to split them, even if you wanted to.
There are other pro/con arguments and I could make this an extremely long and boring post.  Don't worry, I won't do that (at least not more than I usually do).

Where do I stand?  As with the other rules I've been learning, my feeling on the matter is to try not to do it.  It might not be grammatically incorrect, but it is still considered poor style.

However, one of the most famous split infinitives just wouldn't sound the same and the rhythmatic flow would be hurt if it were "fixed."  This is for all my Star Trek geek friends out there!

"To boldly go where no man has gone before."

To go is split by "boldly".  But, it just doesn't sound right and it loses impact any other way:

"Boldly to go where…"

"To go boldly where…"

So yes, avoid them, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The business of show (not tell)

One of the first rules I ever encountered was:
Show, don't tell.
Again, my mind screamed, "What does that mean?!"  Aren't we writing stories and, therefore, telling a story?  So isn't it always telling?
Well apparently not!  Here's what I learned.

Telling is more…well…telling the reader what happened, whereas, showing allows the reader to read it firsthand.  For example:

Telling - John called the sheriff and told him about the crime.
Showing - John picked up the phone and dialed the sheriff.  "Yes, Sheriff?  There's been a crime."
See how the showing example involves more action? It's a boring little detail, but possibly necessary for the plot that John call that sheriff.  They both relay the same message, but the showing version draws the reader in and involves them in the action instead of just telling them about it.
There is quite a debate about show vs. tell.  The theory is that showing is more intense and will draw the reader in.  Telling will just bore the reader to tears.
A fact that I found interesting is that showing didn't really become popular until the early 1900s.  Before that, the standard was to tell.  So what I wonder is, how much of these rules are really just a product of the preferences of the readership at the time?
I was reading a book series where the author just loved to tell everything.  Lots of telling and very little showing.  I love the world and the plots were okay.  However, I had to put the book down several times and nearly stopped reading altogether because the telling got old quick.  The only reason I kept reading was because the world the author created was extremely detailed and my OCD kicked in and I wanted to finish the series.  That and the later books got a little better on that front.
I won't get into a big debate here because that's been done and redone too many times.  My goal for this post is just to point out what Showing/Telling is and to state that it's the preference these days to show and kick tell to the curb.
So, show and NEVER tell.  Of course that gets my brain whirring.  I swear, just use the word "never" and that alone will jumpstart my little brain and get me thinking of examples where telling would be more appropriate.
What if, my brain asks, there's a long passage of time, say a road trip, where nothing really happens, but it's important to know so that the reader knows there's a passage of time, not to mention how they got to be 500 miles from where they started.
How about something like:

The road trip to Phoenix was uneventful.  John and Mary made the trip in record time.

That's definitely telling and, depending on the plot, possibly necessary to the story.  This doesn't bore the reader into a coma with showing scenes of them driving in silence for 500 miles, occasionally stopping for gas and bathroom breaks.  Yes, that's exciting stuff!  Maybe, to really spice things up, they buy Funyuns at one of the gas stations. Perhaps there was a Cheetos vs. Funyuns debate.  Oh boy, now we're talking some action. If we're really lucky, there'll be a showtunes scene.
Yeah, the reader doesn't need to know all that detail.  Who cares if they had Cheetos or Funyuns (or both for that matter)?  It's not necessary to the plot.  It's just extra fluff.
The pro-show side of the audience is now screaming at me.  A counter-argument to this tell example would be to put in a scene break and then show what happened.  Supposedly, this is a dying artform.

John grinned.  "It's decided.  We're going to Phoenix."
(scene break)
John pulled the car into the driveway.  He turned to Mary and said, "Wow, it sure is hot and dry here in Phoenix, but we made that trip in record time."
Mary nodded in his direction, but remained silent, obviously still upset.
John opened the door and stepped out, muttering under his breath.  "I still think Cheetos beats out Funyuns any day of the week."
Okay, so I added a bit of flair to that example.  I couldn't help myself.  It doesn't have to be so cheesy, but it's just an exaggerated example to prove the counter point to the telling point I made previously.

I thought up another example from one of my own works in progress.  I have a scene where the main character goes to the bathroom.  I know she's fictional, but I wanted to give her a little privacy, so I didn't show her actually using the facilities, I told.  I know, I know…put the cuffs on and lock me up in writers prison immediately!  And before you ask, yes it was necessary for the plot that she go to the bathroom.  If you must know, it proves how tight security needed to be and, ironically enough, showed her lack of privacy during that particular time.
The counter point to my point was that just because you show doesn't mean you have to add more words.  It doesn't have to be all purple prose and flowery.  Sometimes simple is better.

So instead of the several sentences I used to tell about the process, I could have just written something like:

"I'll be right out here if you need anything."  Denny's voice came from the other room, the open bathroom door affording little privacy.  Her sister stood in the doorway, in view of them both.
Under her sister's watchful eye, Kat attempted to go about her daily bathroom routine without being too self-conscious.  Geez, does everyone need to see me pee?
Believe it or not, this version is quite a bit more concise than my telling version.  The above example is showing and it's actually a lot less verbiage.  Okay, okay, there is a little bit of telling still in there, but it's much less than before.

So…maybe there's something to this whole show, don't tell thing.  Just don't tell the pro-show people that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Series Review: The Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries)

And here we are, back to vampires again.  Be honest, you knew we'd end up here, didn't you?  Yes, this is a review about another very popular universe that revolves around vampires, weres and shifters.  It was made popular by the hit series True Blood, which has been taking one season per book.  Of course, they have their own interpretation of things and there are some significant differences.
This is a series that has several books is still ongoing.  It's written by Charlaine Harris (  I believe Charlaine Harris has a three book deal in the Sookie Stackhouse series on top of a new installment that's coming out in May.  She also has a couple other popular mystery series.
Overview: There's way too many books to go into detail about them all, so I'll just do an overview.  There are a couple things that irk me about this series.  Why don't we get those out of the way up front? Actually, I have a few other bones to pick, but they include spoilers.  I'll do a spoiler's section at the end to include those.  Here are the non-spoiler irking parts:
1. – There are TONS of inconsistencies.  For example, in the first book Bill had 5 kids and was turned into a vampire in 1871.  In another book he dropped a few kids and had only 2 and was turned in 1869.  Finally, in a third book he was turned in 1868 (but he still had 2 kids).  Stuff like that just bugs me.  I notice it and it detracts from the story because my brain cells won't let it go.  However, most of them are inconsequential to the actual plot.  It's usually passing comments.
2. – I had a hard time with the author's writing style.  Let it be known now that I'm not a big "southern mystery" kind of person.  So some of this is completely personal preference.  However, I found it hard to get immersed in the books because of the writing style.  Once I was able to get into it, I found the style humorous and quirky, but it took a bit of effort to get to that point.
3. – This is yet another case where the whole love triangle is stretched out WAY too long.  Just make a decision already!  Even if the decision is to ditch them all and start over, at least it's a decision.  And I use the world "triangle" loosely.  There's the main triangle between Bill and Eric, but there's a few love interests hanging out there on the outer edges.  In later books, there's a third (I won't spoil it).  Yeah, I know you've got to make the suspense last.  I can rattle off quite a few series that died as soon as the tension between the main characters was gone, but that just means you've got to come up with something else to keep our attention and stop using the same old plot devices over and over and over.

Okay, now that that's over, what about the good parts?
1. – I love this world that the author built.  It's extremely detailed and even through all the inconsistencies, she sticks to the rules of her own universe.  I like that a lot!
2. – The characters are complex.  They aren't just good or bad, they're a combination.
3. – The plots aren't as obvious as some mystery series, but are a bit on the obvious side.  Even so, there were a few plot twists that had me yelling, "No way!"
4. – She's not afraid to kill off characters.  This is both good and bad.  I like the boldness of an author that isn't afraid to kill characters off.  It means that all bets are off and anyone can bite it at any point.  You don't always know what's going to happen because it's not necessarily always going to be a happy ending.  I do dislike, however, when we've grown attached to a character that has been the focus of our attention for awhile and then BAM they're killed.  Especially when we don't even read about it.  It's more of a passing comment, "Oh yeah, so-and-so got killed.  It was horrible."  "Oh, that's a shame.  What are we doing for lunch?"  Wait! What?  Go back!  This happens a couple of times in the series.
5. – The writing is quirky and humorous.  Yes, I listed this as a negative just a few minutes ago, but it's also a positive for me.  There were quite a few times where I caught myself chuckling out loud.  Her books have a definite unique quality to them.  You'll either love it or hate it.

Here's a listing of the books in order to date.  Note that I am not including short stories/novellas except for the compilation that was published in October of 2009:

Dead Until Dark – 2001
Living Dead in Dallas – 2002
Club Dead – 2003
Dead to the World – 2004
Dead as a Doornail – 2005
Definitely Dead – 2006
All Together Dead – 2007
From Dead to Worse – 2008
Dead and Gone – 2009
A Touch of Dead – October 2009 (a complication of all the short stories)
Dead in the Family – May 2010

A lot of readers were complaining that the later books were darker and just plain different.  This is a complaint I see of a lot of series and it's usually true.  I would say that they are different and darker, but that the characters have grown and evolved.  If they hadn't changed, the series would have gotten stale by now.  Sookie goes through very big changes in her life and she deals with them.  She learns and grows and moves on.  Therefore the series grows and moves on too.
That said, there were a few times where I wanted to scream at Sookie for something stupid she did.  Then, the latest book, Dead and Gone is extremely violent, bloody, and dark.  This particular book turned quite a few people off.  I was okay with it and it's actually one of my favorites, but I'm weird like that.
Conclusion:  It is a good series, but it isn't for everyone.  Maybe read a few of the short stories to see if it's for you.

Now…huge ****SPOILERS**** alert from here on out (and a bit of just random ranting...okay a lot of ranting):

Okay, for those of you who are True Blood fans, you might not like what I have to say.  The TV Bill Compton and the Book Bill Compton are two very different people/vampires.  What I'm going to go off on is the Book version.  As you'll see, I'm am not a Bill fan.
Bill and Sookie broke up early on in book three.  Ever since, it's been one long love triangle with Eric and then Quinn and Bill trying to win her back in some fashion or other.  Sam is just never going to get a girlfriend, especially not Sookie.
When people refer to Bill as a southern gentleman, I want to scream.  He is under no circumstances a gentleman.  Never was, even in the first book.  Just because someone opens a door for a lady, doesn't make them a gentleman.

Why do I have such hatred for Bill?  There are five reasons:

1. – He cheated on her
2. – When she saved his ass, he raped her and nearly killed her.
3. – When they were broke up he purposely flaunted his new girlfriend in front of her when he knew she could hear what the new girlfriend was thinking.  He pit them against each other purposely.  It was very hurtful and spiteful.
4. – While he had another girlfriend, he tried to cheat on that girlfriend with Sookie.  Once a cheater, always a cheater.
5. – He lied to her from the very beginning.  He was sent by the Queen to seduce her from the very start.  He felt it was "beneath him" to shack up with a mere human and wouldn't have done so otherwise.

Okay, #1 I can over look because he was "compelled" by his maker.  Supposedly no one can resist their maker.  Whatever…
#2 I can almost overlook too, because he was so starved and had been tortured.  He wasn't in his right mind.  He's a vampire, he's going to want blood and when they drink a sexual instinct kicks in.  So even after all that, I still had a secret wish that Bill and Sookie would hook up again.
#3, 4, and 5 was it.  I'd had it with Bill.  Now all he does is lurk outside Sookie's house and a very creepy way.

Now, I'm obviously not on Team Bill, but whose team am I on?  I'm SOOOOO on Team Quinn.  When she broke up with him I was shocked at her reasons.  That was such a bitchy and selfish move.  It was very unlike her and it did make me take a step back and re-evaluate the series.  The author must have realized it because in the next book Sookie wonders about her decision.
Where does that leave Eric?  I absolutely adore Eric.  I think he's fabulous.  Who else would don hot pants and a pink tank top and pretend to be gay to help Sookie save the day?  It also doesn't hurt that he's been described as having 1,000 years to perfect his kissing/love-making skills and that he makes love like a freight train going through a tunnel.  I really really really want the author to explore Eric's feelings for Sookie more.  Both he and Pam are my favorite characters of the series.  (Pam rocks!)
I know what you are thinking.  You're thinking I just said I was Team Quinn and then I gush about Eric.  What gives?  Eric is great and all that, but he's a vampire and Sookie has made him promise to never change her.  It just won't work out down the road. As hot as it might be, it's a relationship that's doomed to fail.
Quinn, on the other hand, is exactly what she needs.  He's also huge and can protect her since she seems to be a danger magnet.  In my humble opinion, when she's done diddling with Eric, she needs to invest some major time with Quinn.  Hopefully he'll take her back.

Finally, for those who like to compare Bill Compton to Twilight's Edward Cullen, here's the main difference:

Edward Cullen – "No, you mustn't come near me.  I'm a monster."  *dramatically turns away with a sob*

Bill Compton – "Yep.  I'm a monster.  Let's go have sex."  *turns on the Jacuzzi*