Review — “Boarding Action”

Maija at Fallen Angel Reviews made some great comments about my story “Boarding Action” in the Walk the Plank pirates anthology:

In Boarding Action by Angela Benedetti, Cam’s friend Ted comes up with a plan to scare their mutual friend Marcia. Pirates have been preying on the expensive yachts in the local bay, and Ted thinks they should dress up as pirates and pretend to raid Marcia’s family’s yacht. The plan goes wrong when Marcia’s hot older brother Markus appears with a gun. Cam’s friends abandon him, and Cam is forced to face the guy he’s been carrying a torch for. Markus thinks of a way to punish Cam, but then they’re interrupted by the real pirates. Can the boys turn the tables on their attackers?

Angela Benedetti’s story was excellent with the way the plot turned back on itself to make heroes into zeroes and back into heroes.

I’m delighted she liked it; thanks to Maija for her comments.


Hanging With Wolves

Jim and I spent yesterday (Sunday) at Wolf Mountain Sanctuary, in southern California in Lucerne Valley. Well, at the sanctuary, plus driving up and back with some friends; I think we spent at least half the day in the car. It was worth it, though.

Wolf Mountain is smaller than I was expecting, but Tonya, the woman who owns the place, said that they’re working on moving to a larger property. They have several packs which have to be kept isolated from one another — I got the impression that they might fight if they were kept together, although I might be mistaken — so while they have several larger enclosures with room for the wolves to trot around and play and bury things, bigger would be better.

The enclosures are behind double fencing; you have to go through one level of chain link fence into a series of corridors which lead to the wolf enclosures themselves. Visitors who are just wandering around and don’t necessarily have a staffer paying close attention to them can’t stick fingers into the enclosures this way, or do anything else dumb.

Meeting some of the wolvesOnce a staffer invited us back, he said that the thing to do is lay the back of your hand flat against the fence, so the wolves can sniff you. I’m there on the left; on the right is the friend who drove us, one of my husband’s co-workers. Sometimes I got licked as well as sniffed, and sometimes they tried to rub the side of their head against my hand, although that wasn’t very effective through the fence. Some of them would stand there, leaning against the fence, wanting scritchies, although that was kind of awkward too.

There was a huge group ahead of us — about twenty or so people I think, so we just hung out waiting for them to finish. It was a shame in that that many people interacting with the wolves and giving them treats (chicken and turkey legs, dog cookies) got them tired and kind of full, but the good part was that after they left it was nice and quiet and we had the place to ourselves, the four of us. We were shown around and introduced to all of the wolves, told their names and where they came from. (All of which I promptly forgot, because my memory sucks and I didn’t have anything to take notes with, so apologies for a lack of specifics.)

The wolves at the sanctuary were rescues of one sort or another. Sometimes people bred them and couldn’t keep them anymore. Sometimes people bred them badly — the dark wolf in the picture above, and a lighter brown mixed-color one in the same enclosure who’s not in that picture, were siblings from the same litter, bred from parents who were siblings. That’s not a great idea, but people do it anyway. There were other wolves at the sanctuary who were inbred also; Tonya said that one of them was aging more rapidly than he should, that he was twelve but looked more like a sixteen-year old wolf. People get wolves and think breeding them is cool, but don’t learn about them or about how to do it properly. All the adult wolves at Wolf Mountain are fixed; the two siblings above are still considered puppies, and just a little over a year old, but they’ll be neutered soon. There are barely resources to take care of the wolves they rescue from bad situations as it is; adding more by letting them breed would be irresponsible and Wolf Mountain doesn’t do that.

Some of the wolves were rescues from Alaska, where dens were being burned out because wolves were supposedly taking game which “belonged” to sport hunters. The fact that wolves take the very old, the very young, the sick and the injured, none of which are interesting trophies to sport hunters, didn’t seem to matter; they made a good try at eradicating the wolves from that area anyway. Wolf Mountain got some cubs rescued from dens in the targetted area.

One of the smaller enclosuresA few of the wolves were in smaller enclosures. Some of the wolves were waiting for a larger one to be built for them — we could see the construction site off to one side — but one was there because he’d had an injury and needed to be by himself for a while, and another was there because she’d been fighting with the others and needed to be isolated. The larger enclosures are ideal, of course, but the smaller ones were still a decent size for one wolf, and hopefully most of the wolves in them will be out soon.

Wolf kissesBecause we were patient and quiet — not difficult in comparison with the previous large and noisy group — Tonya took us into one of the enclosures where she said she doesn’t usually bring any of the visitors. Jim and I sat on a rock and the very handsome boy in the picture here came up to meet us. He wasn’t terribly interested in the cookies — we’d seen him burying a turkey leg earlier, so I guess he was full — but I got some kisses anyway. That was pretty awesome.

ScritchiesIn one of the other enclosures, one of the wolves was kicking back on top of her platform. (I think it was a female.) You can’t see in this picture, but they’d dug a den underneath this platform, which is boxy rather than just flat. I think a couple of the other platforms in other enclosures had dens underneath them too. Whenever we saw the wolves napping, though, they were always on top, or just on the ground somewhere. Maybe they went underneath at night? Anyway, this one had some cookies she was sort of mildly interested in (those are cookie bits in front of her in the pic) and we went up to pet her and give her some scritchies while she ate. I’d started at the base of her neck and was scratching fairly hard down her spine and had just hit her butt, just above the base of her tail. Most dogs like that a lot, and she seemed to think it was pretty cool too, judging by the look on her face. 🙂 Her outer coat was coarse, not terribly soft to pet but good for moving through underbrush and shedding rain.

Oh, and someone did ask about the wolves digging out of the enclosures. Tonya said they bury the chain link four feet down, to prevent any escapes. She also mentioned that some of the wolves had once been frightened by a rabbit; wolves have to be taught to hunt, and if they’re not then they have no clue where their food comes from. Keeping them in is as much for their own good as anyone else’s. [grin]

This was a great day and we all had a wonderful time. I hope they do get to move to a larger property; I’m sure all the wolves would appreciate more running-around space. If you’re ever in the area, check out their web site; you can make appointments for visiting from Thursday through Sunday. It costs $20 per person for a one-hour tour, or $50 for a half-day visit with a private tour, which is what we did. It was definitely worth it, and an awesome experience.


So Much For That Experiment

So the argument is that e-books go up on the torrent sites, a bazillion people download them for free and those who enjoy the book go out and buy a legit copy, once they’ve found out for sure that the book is worth spending money on. I was skeptical, but figured I should give folks a chance. So back in July I issued a challenge to the pirates. Someone had uploaded a copy of my story, “Learning to Love Yourself,” to the torrents and I was willing to wait for my next quarter’s royalty statement to see if there’d been any positive impact on sales. I promised that if there were a clear (or even a squinty) increase in sales after the story had been torrented, that I’d stop chasing after pirates; my publisher would still issue take-down notices and such, but I myself would stop doing so and let the uploaders do whatever they wanted.

Well, it’s next quarter and I have my royalty statement, and there was nothing. Not even a blip. So much for that theory. Sorry, folks, the cease-fire is over.

Given recent discussions [cough] on the net, I want to make it clear that I don’t get too excited if someone likes my story and thinks, “Hey, I’ll bet Mary would love this one!” and gives Mary a copy to try. A personal rec is more likely to turn someone into a fan, if they do like the story. My objection is to the torrents, where people steal copies of my copyrighted, for-sale books en masse. I’m not even going to deny the possibility that some people out there use the torrents to try before they buy; a few people have said they do, and I’m willing to provisionally take their word for it, although I still think torrent piracy itself sucks.

Reading the pirate message boards, though, there seem to be far more people there who actively mock the whole idea of paying for something you can get for free. These people think anyone who pays money for an e-book they could get for free is stupid, period. This isn’t a case of try-before-you-buy, or of poor people being unable to afford to buy books. When people can’t find a copy of something to “share” on the torrents, and someone in the group says, “I might actually have to spend money on this one, haha!” and everyone laughs on cue over how ridiculous that is, yeah, my spirit of compassion and generosity shrivels up pretty quickly.

You know, I was really hoping this would turn out differently. If there’d been any kind of visible up-tick in my sales, I’d have been willing to let things go and been happy to do so. It’s really a shame.


I’m On Amazon

Google alerts finally got around to telling me one of my stories is up on Amazon, in a Kindle edition, and apparently has been since 30 September.

I have to admit I’m of two minds about this. Part of me was jumping up and down and doing the virtual “Woot!” thing, because Amazon is a freaking huge market and there’s no getting away from that. Another part of me was going, “Huh…” though, because Amazon’s not my favorite corporate entity these days. And I have some technical issues with the Kindle, even aside from Amazon’s corporate ethics, although that’s one of those “if it works for you” kinds of things. But yeah, as far as marketing goes, this probably isn’t one of my better efforts. [cough]

Still, more formats is always a good thing. If any Kindle users out there are interested, there’s a version available now for $2.49, and there’ll be another version (with no image available at this point; I have no idea what the difference will be) available 17 December for $1.99.

Even if you’re not a Kindle user, if you’re browsing Amazon and you feel like wandering by my page(s) and clicking on the tags, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!


Review — “Candy Courage”

Lily over at Lily-ILoveBooks gave Candy Courage a great review. I’m delighted that she enjoyed it. 😀


It’s Halloween night and Glenn Bellamy is taking his son trick or treating. Following the warnings of his ex-wife, he doesn’t allow him to eat the home made candy the boy gets. When he’s reassured by the other Dad he’s with that it’s made by a harmless neighbor who’s been living there all his life and making the special Halloween candy Glenn decides it ok and eats it himself.

What Glenn doesn’t know is that while Sebastiano Fiorentelli’s candy isn’t harmful it definitely isn’t ordinary candy. Mr Fiorentelli puts a little extra something in his candy every year and this time it’s Courage.

What follows is a night and day of out of character behavior on Glenn’s part that just might have a wonderful and long lasting effect on his life. This was a very entertaining short story. At only 14 pages it’s part of Torquere’s Sip line. I really liked the characters, the one sex scene was hot and the bit of magic was a delightful treat. Since it’s so short I don’t feel I can say much more without giving away too much so I’ll just end by saying it’s a well written little book and I enjoyed it very much.


Thanks Lily! 😀


Chat and a Contest

I’m hanging out over at Literary Nymphs this weekend, along with most of the other Torquere writers. Come over and say hi! The chat is running both days; I’ll be around for a bit this morning, and probably late tonight and then on and off all day tomorrow.

Also, the contest in my writing blog ends tonight at midnight, so head over and enter! Free books! Gift certificates for more free books! 😀



So I was having a hard time getting WordPress to upgrade — first there was no option to do so (the database had lost the flag saying I’d installed in the first place), then when that got fixed, the upgrade didn’t want to take. I got all the right messages and e-mails saying it’d been done, but the dashboard page was still grouching at me to upgrade, claiming I had the old version. [headdesk]

I went back and forth for days on it with customer service at Dreamhost, and it finally got straightened out. Thanks to Chih and Jason for plugging away at it until it gave up and behaved. 🙂