Me and bookstores…in GIF

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Me seeing a bookstore:

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My family trying to keep me out of the bookstore:

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Me entering the bookstore anyway:

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Me finding the Young Adult section:

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Me finding the Epic Fantasy section:

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My family when they lose track of me:

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Me finding a book I want:

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Me at the checkout:

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Me leaving the bookstore:

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Delayed cover reveal for The Secrets of the Vanmars (aka Elisabeth is a liar)

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They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and if that’s true I’ve got enough bricks to build a freeway.

When I announced last week that I would be hosting a cover reveal this month, I meant it. I completely meant it. At the time, I had no idea that my sparkly redesigned cover would be pooped on by CreateSpace or that my new new cover designer was sick (and I feel terrible for her, but it still sucks for me). Hence I didn’t know that I would have to hire a new new new designer. Thankfully, my new new new cover designer (the fourth one to date) is available the first week in May, so we will be able to get this crap sorted, but this means no cover reveal this month. In fact, I’m thinking I may not do one at all and instead just focus on the last bits of copyediting and starting work on book 3’s polishing.

However, all is not lost. We’re still on track for a May 24th re-release if no more calamities befall. I am determined to get THAT done one way or another.

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Writing Update: April 2016

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Writing this blog post is, in great part, a procrastination tactic for the arduous task of blurb writing. What blurb, you ask? Why, the blurb for the sparkly new, remade cover edition of The Secrets of the Vanmars. After more than a year, it is at last making its way into the world. Cue the celebratory dancing!giphy2I’ve been working on this baby covertly off and on for the past few months weeks. I just didn’t want to announce anything until I was sure I would be releasing it. But as soon as I get a workable version of the blurb, TSOTV mark 2 is off to the printers for final proofreading. The revamped cover reveal is April 22nd of this month and assaulting shelves May 24th. I am consuming semi-toxic doses of caffeine and writing like mad to make sure this happens.tumblr_nk306n7l7o1qdjpm4o1_500The third book’s re-release (and first-ever print release) should be emerging around late July (cover designer’s schedule permitting). If  everything works out with the designer and if I don’t drop the proverbial ball, I will get the fourth book out in December. (And yes, I know that’s the one you all actually want.)giphy5Daindreth’s Assassin is now officially querying to agents (yay), but the Fanged Princess novellas are on hold for the moment. I wanted to have the fourth novella at least partially drafted before I released the third, but Haddie is not being cooperative. Ideally, I’ll be releasing that third novella before the end of the year, too. (Yeah, yeah, I know you’re thinking “she said this last year.” Kindly don’t remind me.)giphy8It only seems fair to tell you the whole truth of why my writing has been so slow lately. Is this not the girl who boasted 3k quotas per day? The fact is that between my obsessive workouts, day job, school, and taking care of the clan, things have been pretty rocky. Also, I’ve been struggling for months now with some icky emotional stuff that I won’t whine about here, but that’s been a huge part of my slacking. And come fall, I will be moving out on my own for the first time (into a dorm, but still) and with that comes the impending student loans along with the realization that I’ll be 21 this year. giphy7So that’s your update. Now back to that damnable blurb and my latest Creative Writing essay…

Elisabeth’s Random Thought of the Day

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Have you ever met an older person who shares your passion for something and you two have so much in common? And they start encouraging you to keep doing what you love and trying to help you along best they can? You can tell they see themselves when they look at you, the younger version, and they hope you make better choices. In you they find all the potential they once had and try to push you, sometimes roughly, to make the most of that potential.

Sometimes I wonder who those people see when they look at me. What do they imagine in my future? Where do they see my passion taking me? Do they see the power to overcome the things that make me doubt myself? Do they see a second chance, someone who could do what they wish they had?

And sometimes I wonder if one day I’ll be looking at the kid I used to be. I wonder if I’ll be the one telling them not to make the mistakes I did, that they shouldn’t settle for safe. That they should follow their passion and never settle for anything less than their dreams.

Objectification is not the answer. Who knew?

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The media has objectified women since there has been media. Whether it’s Greek statuary, books, movies, video games, music, or just about anything else, you can find examples of women portrayed as idealized embodiments of erotic fantasy, treated like commodities to be valued on their physical appeal.

emancipation-156066_960_720Thanks to feminism, there has been a shift away from this. Audiences have started to demand more for female characters and publishers and production companies have responded (thank you, capitalism). It still happens and I could rattle off a list of modern franchises I gave up on mainly for this reason, but there has been some improvement. If nothing else, people are at least conscious of it now. There is enough awareness that when objectifying material comes along, it gets called what it is. There’s room for improvement, but I definitely believe we’re on the upward curve.

We’re starting to have complex female characters who aren’t “drop-dead gorgeous,” female characters who don’t have that lingering close up of their bikini thong, actually have a storyline, serve a purpose beyond a love interest, lean toward more realistic body standards, and sexual objectification of men instead—wait, what?

(Disclaimer: If you read Romance/Erotica, you will hate me by the time you get to the end of this post.)

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(Was going to put the Magic Mike poster here, but, I just can’t pollute this blog like that. Google it if you must know.)

This is one of the worst methods of attempted feminism I have seen. We can all (at least I certainly hope we can) agree that women shouldn’t be objectified, but…men should??? Consider films such as the Magic Mike franchise *tries not to vomit* or just take a look at the covers in the romance aisle at your local bookstore *vomits*, both of which are tailored to a female audience. It’s basically an exposition of abs and biceps. It is also a direct defiance of feminism. *bashes head against desk*

Feminism is the radical ideology that men and women are equally valuable human beings who should be regarded as human beings. (Crazy, I know.) How are we supposed to treat a human being? The short answer—with respect. That’s a person, not a sex toy or living fantasy. Whether that person—male or female—is willingly being objectified or not (some of them get paid very well to look like that), they still deserve to be treated and viewed like a person. 

(And if you want to talk about the whole sexual empowerment thing…that’s a whole other blog post.)

For some reason, a lot of women get upset (and rightfully so) at blatantly sexualized female characters (do I need to list examples?), but then drool over Chris Hemsworth’s latest photoshoot. That’s pretty much a textbook example of hypocrisy. This is one of the main reasons I generally disregard the entire Romance genre with very few exceptions—it’s hollow wish fulfillment and basically porn marketed to women.

tumblr_mbfgjxIRG01qg8gy8o7_r1_250Saying it’s alright to have certain expectations/treatment of one gender, but not the other is discrimination, period. The solution to female objectification is not male objectification, that is just redistributed sexism. Sadly, many people seem to take the slew of female-oriented erotic content as progress, but it’s just presenting misandry as the solution to misogyny. Basically, we’re trading smallpox for anthrax.

Objectification is wrong no matter who it is being objectified and it solves nothing.

{Cover Reveal} Memories of Ash (Sunbolt, #2) by Intisar Khanani

I’m excited to have Intisar Khanani on the blog today, revealing the cover for her newest novel Memories of Ash. This cover was designed by the amazing Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio. There’s also a Kindle Fire giveaway, so make sure to scroll down to the end of the post to enter.

Describe Memories of Ash in 3 words.

Walk with courage.

What compelled you to write your first book?

I always wanted to write a novel, so my senior year of university I decided I’d better buckle down and try. I chose a fairy tale (The Goose Girl) to give me an over-arching plot and narrative structure, and then went to town with it. I really wrote it as an exercise to test myself, not intending to do anything with it when I finished. But, by the time I finished, I loved my characters so much that I ended up working through over a dozen revisions to take it from “writing exercise” to my debut novel, Thorn.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

Definitely the world of the Sunbolt Chronicles. Sunbolt follows Hitomi, a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, the dark mage who killed her father. Although there is a lot of darkness in Sunbolt, there’s also a lot of light. It’s a real world, in its way, and I love the diversity and vibrancy of the cultures and creatures that populate it. I’d have my choice of living in a tropical island sultanate reminiscent of historic Zanzibar, or among the nomadic desert tribes that eke out an existence alongside the cursed Burnt Lands, to name my two favorite options. Then again, in Memories of Ash, there’s the decaying grandeur of the capitol of a fallen empire that feels a lot like an Istanbul of old, right at the heart of the Eleven Kingdoms. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having shape-shifting friends and charms to keep my bread from burning.

What authors, or books, have influenced you?

As a young duckling, I imprinted on Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley’s earlier works. I read pretty widely, but those are the authors I kept coming back to, especially McKinley’s Damar books. I am also an incorrigible Jane Austen fan, but my books don’t reflect that very much!

What are you reading now?

I just finished “Kingdom of Ruses” by Kate Stradling. In a kingdom where the eternal prince who rules is just a ruse kept up by the prime minister’s family (and most recently, Viola, our heroine), keeping the peace is a delicate thing. Enter a stranger who manages to take the place of the doppelganger the family uses, and Viola has her hands full.

Your first reaction to the cover in GIF format.

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And here it is…

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In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

Amazon Pre-order  |  Barnes & Noble Pre-order | Kobo Pre-order | Apple Pre-Order  Add it to GoodReads

A Special Treat For Those Who Pre-order…

Not only is the pre-order of Memories of Ash on sale for only 99 cents, but anyone who buys the pre-order will receive a free digital art print of Hitomi by artist Grace Fong. Just email your proof of purchase to moapreorder@gmail.com!

Haven’t read  Sunbolt (Book 1) yet? It’s been knocked down to just 99 cents to celebrate the release and is available at most major e-retailers. That’s two fantastic books for less than a cuppa joe.

MoA_PreOrder Special

About Intisar Khanani

Khanani_Author_PhotoIntisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.

Website/Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  GoodReads

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Things fantasy books (almost always) get wrong about deer

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fallow-deer-602253_960_720Hunting is a favorite pastime of various characters in fantasy novels. It was also, of course, a popular sport for the upper crust in medieval times. Because of this, hunts and their quarry have been frequently portrayed in literature and film, for better or for worse. Like hunting in general, which I covered last time, the favorite object of these hunts has been more than a little fictionalized.

For starters, deer are not defenseless Bambis.

Even a lot of hunters believe this one. The truth is, deer can kick (with the front or back), bite (yes, bite), and head butt you into the afterlife even without antlers. They are wickedly strong, even those that look spindly and thin, capable of dragging several times their weight and making grown men beg for mercy. (The only writer I’ve ever seen really explore this was John Marco with his battle-elk. But that was so awesome it almost made up for everyone else.)

deer-1083607_960_720They are not particularly smart.

Running and jumping are pretty much the extent of a deer’s strong suits. Though Arthurian lore and much resulting fantasy fiction often imbues deer (particularly stags) with oracular/prophetic qualities, they actually tend to be pretty dumb. They often have trouble getting out of any enclosure they can’t jump, which is problematic if they get stuck in your yard. (And you can’t try chasing them out unless you want to get trampled.) Really, brains are not their forte.

They don’t strictly go solo or in Mommy and Me pairs.

Deer can be spotted on their own or in herds of females with their young or in “bachelor groups” or with a buck and a bunch of does—really, there are a lot of different combos you can have. Yet most the time on TV and in books, I see they turn up either solo or as a doe and fawn.

hirsch-899116_960_720Deer don’t always have huge freaking antlers.

This one could be tied into my second point up there. In reality, only the matured males have those gorgeous racks you see over fireplaces and turned into chandeliers. As a general rule, a buck’s antlers have one new prong each year, so a yearling will have just one prong (hence the nickname “spike”), a two-year old will have two, and so on. This means that most deer (considering predators and such) probably will only have a few prongs. (Bucks also lose their antlers after the autumn mating season, which is something else fantasy writers seem to forget.)

As someone who grew up with a running commentary of “in real life, they…” I can be a bit picky. (Thanks a lot, Dad.) Still I don’t see any harm in shedding light on the matter. The right dose of reality breathes life into fiction!

Infinity Dreams Award

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I was tagged by the lovely Kaitlyn Deann for this awesome blog award!

11 facts about myself:

1) I am a female college student who cannot put on make up.

2) I once mistook a feral emu for a velociraptor. (Talk about screaming.)

3) I know both embroidery and archery.

4) My mom’s parents grew up on opposite sides of WWII.

5) I once set the microwave on fire.

6) I have bottle raised baby goats, sheep, rabbits, three puppies, and one donkey.

7) I know more about the Roman Empire than today’s Top 40 list.

8) On bad days, I sometimes wear a hooded cloak to school.

9) I get excited about politics.

10) I still fast-forward sex scenes on TV.

11) My first car was older than me.

11 Questions from Kaitlyn:

1) What’s your favorite quote?

“Oh, Death, where is your sting? Oh, Hell, where is your victory?”

2) What’s your least favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. Just lots of dirty dishes and caloric temptations eager to insulate my thighs.

Schnay is the pretty one to the right.

Schnay is the pretty one to the right.

3) How many books in a year do you normally read?

Aww…gee…My record is 78, but since starting college and writing, it’s closer to 30-35. I am not proud of this.

4) Do you have a pet(s)? Tell us about it/them.

I have my Jack Rusell Terrier, Schnay, who is my baby even though she just celebrated her 8th birthday. We used to show in agility, rally obedience, go-to-ground, and lots of other fun stuff, but she’s been pretty much retired since I started college.

5) What’s the meaning behind your name?

My first name means “one to whom God is an oath” or so I have been told. My middle name is a variation of Mary, which means bitter, so I guess that would be “bitter one to whom God is an oath.” Not sure what to make of that.

6) If you could live in any book’s world, where would you live?

NARNIA, HERE I COME!!!

7) What book has inspired you the most in your writing?

Depends what I’m writing, really. My first series was great influenced by Madeleine L’Engle’s The Time Quintet, particularly the morality. But really, it just depends.

8) What do you prefer to do on a hot summer day?

Whine about the heat and go swimming. Or go running to work on my tan and have everyone tell me how nuts I am. (Did I mention I’m vain?)

9) Stargazing or netflixing with someone you love to be around?

Stargazing, every time it’s an option. TV producers think they can compete with the cosmic masterpiece of God Himself? LOL.

10) Do you watch TV? If yes, what’s your favorite show?

I do watch TV, but extremely rarely. Right now, my favorite show (that has not be cancelled or finished) would probably be Doctor Who. However, I’m so behind on watching it, I may hate what Moffat has done by now.

11) And lastly… What’s your life motto?

“My one defense, my righteousness, oh God how I need You.”-Matt Maher

 

Tag 11 Bloggers

Eli Hinze

Melissa Sasina

M.A. Bronson

Sherry Fundin

Allyssa Painter

Rose D’Andrea

Intisar Khanani

Laura Thomas

Catherine Gregoire

Cassandra Loskot

Anna Simpson

Guidelines for Tagged Bloggers:

– Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
– Thank the blogger who tagged you (that’s me, Elisabeth Wheatley!)
– Tell us 11 facts about yourself
– Answer the 11 questions (below)
– Tag 11 bloggers

The Questions YOU Answer:
1) What’s your favorite part of being a blogger?
2) If you could spend one day as any animal, what would it be?
3) Hardcovers or Paperbacks?
4) Favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Why?
5) Biggest dream you’ve achieved so far?
6) Favorite musician/band and your favorite song from them?
7) Most anticipated book coming out this year?
8) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
9) Favorite outdoor activity?
10) Favorite indoor activity? (Not counting reading/writing.)
11) Something you’ve wanted to be asked in an interview? What’s your answer?

Review: Cage of Deceit (Reign of Secrets, #1) by Jennifer Anne Davis @AuthorJennifer

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Jennifer Anne Davis’s best-selling True Reign series captivated readers from the very first page. Now, get ready to become entangled in the follow-up series, Reign of Secrets. In this new series, follow Allyssa, the daughter of the beloved Emperor Darmik and Empress Rema— and find out what happens after happily ever after.

Seventeen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.

Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their country and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of  5 stars

I was a huge fan of the previous companion series to this, True Reign, and that made me twice as nervous to pick this up. I was more than a little scared this wouldn’t live up to the huge precedent set by the first series and so I put it off for months. The last book in the previous trilogy didn’t quite live up to the sheer awesome of the first two, which made it even worse.

Then finally, I picked this up one evening, thinking I’d just read “a few chapters” and call it a night. That endeavor ended at 12:38 a.m. with a cliffhanger, a finished book, and a revitalized fangirl. THE AWESOME IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

The plot:

One of my favorite things about Davis’ plots is how they slip away. You get so caught up in what’s happening that suddenly it’s been two hundred pages and you didn’t even notice. They move quickly and don’t waste time, which is an underrated quality, particularly in fantasy books.

There was also a bit of the “aw” romance I adored so much in the first trilogy and I certainly did not mind that. ❤

The characters:

I wasn’t sure about Allyssa at first. I knew it was either going to be hit or miss with her—no middle ground was possible. The author managed to make her have certain similarities to her mother, but at the same time, she’s clearly her own person. I came to admire and adore her and it’s impossible not to root for her. She was definitely a hit.

Rema and Darmik made me go “come on, guys” more than once, but the whole arranged marriage thing didn’t make me hate them as much as I thought it would. After reading the first trilogy, it felt a little hypocritical of them, but the book makes you understand. I still love them just as I love Allyssa with her prince and I NEED THE NEXT BOOK.

I also want to see more of my old buddy Nathanek. The author has promised to bring him back with an apprentice who will play and important role and that’s just another reason I need book 2.

The world of Emperion is back with a vengeance and I love it!

Find Cage of Deceit on Goodreads

Find Cage of Deceit on Amazon

Find Cage of Deceit on BN.com

Cupid the horrible boyfriend

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Happy St. Valentines’ Day! Everyone’s heard of Cupid, right? (Eros to the Greeks.) He might have been a god of love, but he still sucked as a boyfriend. Psyche and Eros/Cupid are one of the exceptionally rare Greek/Roman romances that didn’t end horribly, which may be another reason they’re not so popular. Either way, their story is a truly mythological tale, filled with all the requisite pettiness and stupidity.

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He’s the god of erotic desire, DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT WAS TO FIND G-RATED IMAGES?!?!

Mortal Psyche was so beautiful some people started worshiping her instead of Aphrodite/Venus. In a mature and logical response to this, Aphrodite/Venus sent her son, Eros/Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man he could find.

This plan backfired when Eros/Cupid stabbed himself with the arrow meant for her.

Through some divine trickery, Eros/Cupid arranged a sort of marriage where Psyche lived in a magnificent house with invisible servants and he stopped by to visit her only at night, never letting her see his face. (I guess he had to keep it secret from his mother or something.) Eventually, Psyche’s curiosity won over and she lit a lamp while he slept. Stunned at finding the most beautiful man she’d ever seen, she then proceeded to dump hot wax all over him.

Extra crispy Eros/Cupid then flew screaming to his mother (literally) and abandoned Psyche to wander the earth. While Eros/Cupid was healing at his mother’s house, Psyche had the brilliant idea of asking Aphrodite/Venus for help finding him.

Ever the ideal mother-in-law, Aphrodite/Venus agreed to help find Eros/Cupid if Psyche could complete four impossible tasks.

First, Psyche had to sort a giant pile of mixed seeds before dawn (did I mention she was now pregnant?). Luckily, an ant assembled an army of insects in aid. Aphrodite/Venus next demanded that she fetch golden fleece from homicidal sheep. Psyche gathered wool caught on briers. Now fairly frothing, Aphrodite/Venus ordered Psyche to collect black waters from the rivers of Styx and Cocytus. This time, Zeus/Jupiter actually showed some decency for once and sent his eagle to do the task for her.

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Then again, I guess if you want to talk Greek/Roman tools, just about every male deity beats out Eros/Cupid. (Image via moco-choco)

The final task was to obtain a dose of the beauty of Persephone/Proserpina. Upon success, Psyche was filled with curiosity (again) and opened the box containing Persephone/Proserpina’s beauty, but instead found that it was filled with Stygian sleep.

Now healed from his flambéing, Eros/Cupid decided he might have overreacted to the whole scorching thing. He drew the Stygian sleep from Psyche’s face then took his case to Zeus/Jupiter. Zeus/Jupiter blessed Eros/Cupid and Psyche’s union, made Psyche immortal, and ordered Aphrodite/Venus to back off. In exchange, Eros/Cupid would help should Zeus/Jupiter ever want to woo a woman (because what else would Zeus/Jupiter want?).

And there you have it. The story ends with Eros/Cupid spending eternity in love with Psyche, but I still think he sucked as a boyfriend. He really doesn’t do anything but make Psyche work to get him back. I see lots of parallels to this and the Loki/Sigyn story—total tool loved by girl who’s way too good for him—but that’s mythology for you.

Let’s hope Eros/Cupid makes a better husband.