Monday, May 26, 2014

Devilish Dogs, Dediless and Deception: Southern Haunts, Part 2

As promised, today is my slightly occult blog tour for "Southern Haunts:  Devils in the Darkness."  This type of thing holds a special place in my heart.  I aspired as a child to live in a haunted house and from my experiences in high school, I got my wish.  I lived in a house built early in the 20th Century where odd things kept happening with doors and cold spots and noises.  I didn't know until much later that my sister had actually scene a little girl staring through her window when she borrowed a little girl's notebook from the attic.  It's the house where I didn't get sleep for over 30 hours because I was home alone and accidentally found The Exorcist on TV.  When I went to Dublin, I eagerly went on a ghost bus tour (even if I made the conductor's life hell by correcting his mythology) and visited sites of satanic rituals well after dark.  I once saw what I believe to be a ghost at Gettysburg.  And I have a picture of a semi-transparent figure staring over its shoulder at me and surrounded by orbs in one district of Philadelphia.

With that background, of course I heard about this book from the author of Haunted Richmond and Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle.  She was a contributor and since I follow her blog regularly, I decided to volunteer for the blog tour.

I admit to having rolled my eyes a bit at the cover.  In my opinion, Satan doesn't need to be caricaturized.  This portrayal might have had a 666 in the smoke coming from his Freudian cigar or there could have been skull-shaped ice cubes in the highball glass.  Then again, I enjoy minimalist covers where the meaning has to be divined by reading the book, such as my copies of Les Miserables, To Kill a Mockingbird and, more recently, My Sister's Keeper.

And there were lots of instances of  "your insane," "black heals clacked" and "Amy shuttered in fear."  Parts of this, I read aloud and spelled the word in question for the enjoyment of my fellow OCD spellers.

There, my beefs with the book are over with.  Seriously, if the cheesily leering devil on the front cover and sporadic spelling mistakes are the worst things I can say about an anthology that required the hard work of so many different authors, those of you who have known me to rant and rave about the vocabulary used in a romance novel's sex scenes should sit up and take notice.

Demonology According to Me

As you may have gathered from my opening spiel, I do quite like the frightful and otherworldly.  As soon as I got over my fear of The Exorcist, I went out and read the book.  I love King books.  I watch horror movies to cheer myself up.

Recently, I began editing a manuscript for a friend.  In it, Lucifer appears to a teenager and flat-out offers him unlimited power in exchange for evil deeds.  The rest of the book so far has checked back on these evil people, who are constantly acknowledging that they like being evil. 

Pardon me for being an opinionated Mormon here--it's my blog, after all--but I don't believe in that version of the occult.  In "Dediless," a demon has an aspiring artist sign a seven-year contract.  The artist tries to bargain his way out of it and the demon agrees, but because we have an appreciation for the nature of this demon, we know it's not as simple as that.  And it's not.

Daemon means "wise one."  If demons are not cunning, tricksy, conniving and less sinister than they should be at first glance, they aren't demons.  They're just...well, to borrow a Dilbertism, "Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light."  They don't work for me.

The devils in each of these stories was an individual to me.  There is an antichrist.  There is a pre-Aztec god of terrible, yet faded, power.  There are the requisite cloven hooves.  There are a hell of a lot of possessing spirits.

I admired every incarnation of the occult in this anthology and was impressed by the imagination.  My version of demonology is that the author identifies what a character holds sacred, what a character decries as profane and introduces a party which makes the sacred profane and demands that the original state be returned.  The best stories, in my opinion, are ones where the sacred can never be restored.

Favorite Plots

Another one of my hobbies has been to judge the writing competition at Life, The Universe and Everything.  Those stories are almost always science fiction or fantasy, though I was unfortunate enough to read a science picture book about lunar cartography told from the perspective of an infant troll and a vampire-hunting story in which the hunter hugged a teddy bear to death in a field, only to find it was a vampire in the form of a bat.  I discovered in the years that I got to judge that it is difficult to come up with a new spin on a genre, no matter what your age.  There are always the alien invasions, the flights from earth, the E.T. knockoffs and the short stories that were not-so-subtly ripped off from "How to Train Your Dragon" or "Star Wars."  (*cough* Eragon.  *cough*)

The same goes for sinister stories.  I found one story in this anthology that gave in to the urge to blame everything on pre-marital sex and ouija boards.  Another seems to have come from the era of the last few years where all supernatural occurrences were eventually explained by toothless old granny being in a coven.  They still managed to be good stories, but I was more impressed by others.

Notable for me was the "Battle for Vicksburg," the second entry in the book.  If you're sentimental about The Cause and the reason for the War Between the States, you can easily imagine that the fight between good and evil extended to beyond the grave.  My sister once stood on the sidelines of a reenactment in Virginia and demanded to know who the bad guys were.  I gave her the stink eye and so did about thirty Southerners.  In this tale, it's not North vs. South.  It's patriots on both sides vs. the Devil, led by Lee and Grant.  It's a brief moment in time, but the plot is one of the most victorious of the books.

In "Dead End," I'm reminded of this funny line from Scream:

Phone Voice: Do you like scary movies?
Sidney Prescott: What's the point? They're all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It's insulting.

Sometimes, when reading horror, I wonder how many teenagers actually have a sense of self-preservation.  Yes, nine times out of ten, if you go into a creepy house with your boyfriend, you'll come out with a hickey and some good memories of how he tried to scare you.  In the same way that "Life does not imitate the World Series," "Life does not imitate campfire cautionary tales."

So what makes me remark on "Dead End?"  The fact that you're not entirely sure when the frightening moment arrives.  It took me several pages before I started noticing that either the author was confusing her characters or there was something very, very wrong.  I suspected the latter because the writing was very good and I was right to get my hackles raised.

 I enjoyed "Let Demon Dogs Lie" because of the innocence of the parties.  It is a tale of a hellhound and its victims, but the protagonists are neither meddlesome nor aggressive.  It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that any one of us all could wander into.

"Beleth" has a certain element of The Ring to it, where a curse is perpetuated in complete ignorance.

In terms of favorites for this anthology, I will go with "What Demons Men Make" by Windsong Levitch.  In an attempted exorcism, it's not just one religious figure struggling against the demonic.  The Native American in the story calls on every resource available to her, and then reaches out for help regardless of the differing credos of the helpers.  It is set in fairly modern times, but the affliction is more ancient.  The last paragraph is particularly chilling:  "I don't think the devil can make a demon as bad as man can.  You see, the devil is a fallen angel, who was cast out of Heaven for defying his father.  Over centuries, he grew bitter and hateful.  Bitterness and hate is what builds demons.  But what a man can do is much worse.  The demons in that house were raised by man iwtha taste of blood and a lust for pain."

Where do you go from here?  Facebook page  Where you can find it on Amazon.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gods and Grafton St.--Marianna Roberg's "Toasted"

So, I had so much fun with "What Is Hidden" that I signed up for another blog tour.  That will be hosted on Monday, when I've returned from my long weekend in San Francisco, and it's about "Southern Haunts 2."

Meanwhile, I was talking to Ms. Roberg about the publicity that can be gained from a blog tour.  I said that, even though she's self-publishing, she should let people rave about her book for fun and do a blog tour for the second book in her series.  She decided to pass on that idea, but she did say she would let me to a little raving on my blog.

I talked in my last review about having known the story since the edited-manuscript pages.  My fandom of the Broom Closet Mysteries is a little more involved than that.  Yes, I got the final draft in my inbox a few weeks ago, but I've heard her read excerpts from the series out of a little notebook while we were waiting for our food to come at some restaurant where we went after I got off of work.  I've read earlier versions, not completely, but enough to know mostly what's going on.  I contributed ideas for names of an annoying character when asked.  The acknowledgements in my draft thank the Irish gardai in one paragraph and me in the next and that just makes me happy.

Most importantly for me, though, I provided the excuse for the research trip.  This book is set in Dublin and I'm the person who whined one night that I'd buy a ticket to Ireland if I had someone to go with me.  A few months later, we were off on our week-long trip to Dublin.  I went because I just love Irish things.  She went for the same reason, but also so she could get some home-court perspective.  This makes it slightly awkward for me when half the funny things in the book are memories from our trip, with me replaced by a guy who likes to swing an ancient sword around while standing shirtless in the back yard.  Try replacing the guy eating in Christchurch Cathedral's crypt cafe with a mousy, freckly Bostonian and you'll understand why it's sometimes weird.  But it would be horribly out of character for Peyton Reynolds (the protagonist) to go anywhere interesting without the beefier Irish version of Ian Somerhalder.  Frankly, I might be like that if I had an Irish Ian Somerhalder to myself.  But that's why the book is about Peyton and Milo and their adventures in Dublin, not Peyton and her very quirky best friend Meagan running around in search of claddagh rings.

There are a lot of things that I enjoy about this book.  I do have a habit of reading books where I know the setting.  I recently re-read Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian" because I've now been to Istanbul.  I read a lot of British chick lit because I have been to London several times.  When talking about the third book in Marianna's series, she said she could write Boston without needing to go on a vacation there, whereupon I said that I'd spend the entire time forgetting about the murderer and correcting her Boston.

Having been to Ireland, what do I think of the setting in this book?  I'm glad you asked.  It takes a lot to impress me with a portrayal of a real place.  There's another book series set in Dublin that I've read and I have to laugh at one chase scene because she goes into great detail about the main character taking refuge in this one church in the capitol.  Anyone who's been to Dublin should be able to pick out which one she means.  Except if you've actually been past the front doors, you find a shopping center, not a church.  Before doing proper research on Philadelphia, I put my blonde protagonist for "The Deserter" in a western part of the city, where she would be surrounded by African-Americans.  I've also had issues with people who write stock character types that everyone's heard of, not bothering to write British characters who don't sound like Donna Noble or Australians who don't sound like Sandy in Grease or, worst of all, people who write Bostonians with a generic PahkthecahinhahvahdyahdBostonRedSoxMasshole personality.  (This is an excerpt from my rant entitled "YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND A CULTURE BASED ON TUMBLR AND UPWORTHY!")

There are plenty of Irish characters in the book, whether Milo, the person who moved from Dublin to be the token druid in Provo, UT, or DI Byrne, the garda who handles the murder case (and threatens to interrogate a sheep).  We get to see an authentic Galway girl (yes, her hair is black and her eyes are blue), businessmen, barmen, bridesmaids...  And none of them feel like stock characters.  These are not people who I expect to see in a Dublin-based story because every Dublin-based story has to have them.  They are like the Homies action figures that I collected as a missionary for their resemblance to real cholos in the San Fernando Valley.  They're familiar faces.  And some are admittedly based on real people, like the nice guy in the heraldry gift shop or the idiot doing the Ghost Bus Tour or the person soliciting money to help families of alcoholics.

So, enough about the general characters.  Let's talk about Peyton and Milo.

Peyton reminds me of Hermione Granger.  No, not in the run-off-to-the-library know-it-all sense.  I remember being utterly exasperated by Hermione for a while before I realized how much her pesky habits are the other characters' saving graces.  I liked "Pasted," but liked the redheaded best friend better than the main character because I'm weird that way.  The main character had a fondness for making pop culture references that will someday go right over the heads of everyone who picks up this book on Kindle 973rd Edition and I can get that any time I sit down with friends, but tolerate it less in a murder mystery.  In this book, Peyton has equal amounts of sass and a much more developed sense of adult responsibility--the author attributes it to a bit of a life-changing event in book 1 and that makes sense.  She has a broader range of character shifts, whether helping someone cope with a death of a loved one or acting as a medium or being the designated driver at a hen's night.

Milo consistently seems even now to be there as the Irish guy of everyone's dreams, who has a hot accent, rippling muscles, cool tattoos, Gaelic terms of endearment and money to spend on the love of his life.  And then he chews out deities, worries constantly about doing the right thing for his sister and is man enough to stand up to one of his oldest friends.  While Peyton's character development made me think, "Yes, yes, I like you more than I did before," Milo's just made me sit up and announce, "Go on.  I'm listening."

Wait, wait, I intended to write about something other than characters.  Oh, right!  There's a plot!  The murder has twists.  The villain is not necessarily the murderer and the murderer is not necessarily a villain.  At the end of the book, with the resolution written out, I wanted to wave my arms in the air and ask when we were going to see the actual bad guy again.  That doesn't usually happen to me.

I'd post a link where you can buy this, but it just so happens that it's been delayed by formatting issues.  I'll do a follow-up on that when the situation changes.  In the meantime, maybe you should catch up with the first book in the series, "Pasted."

Monday, May 12, 2014

About Face: Lauren Skidmore's "What Is Hidden"

Welcome to my regular visitors and a very special welcome to anyone who's just here for Day 3 of the blog tour.  I hope you come back if you fit into either category.

What Is Hidden

 It is my great honor and pleasure to host this book--and, by extension, Lauren--on her inaugural blog tour.  I haven't known Lauren Skidmore nearly long enough, but I hope to know her for years to come.  I was told that I should be her friend well before I saw the contents of her bookshelves and spent a Saturday afternoon watching Legend of Korra at her apartment.  I tried to run into her at Salt Lake City Comic Con events, but she was one of the incredibly hard-working volunteers who kept things running smoothly.  If you are an older reader of this blog, she is the poor person on whose doorstep I collapsed nine hours before I left for Europe and she lent me an ice pack.

These are things that make her wonderful before I even consider that she's a writer.  I anticipate being a Skidmore fan and turning just a little bit hipster in years to come when I say that I liked her stuff before she made it big.  A word of explanation on that:  I really mean that because by the time I left her apartment on my first visit, I was in possession of her very marked-up bound copy of this manuscript.  She was in the process of finding someone to take an official interest in her book and she was nice enough to not make me wait that long to read this intriguing story. 

 I originally thought to focus my blog tour post on the differences between the two manuscripts.  When I go to her event at King's English, I plan on returning that copy that we accidentally forgot to return when moving in January.  By the time I got halfway through my review copy, though, I turned to my ages-old hobby of reading a lot between the lines.

A word of introduction

I am a fairly regular fixture when it comes to papers for Life, the Universe and Everything (BYU's science fiction/fantasy symposium).  I've presented academic papers on things like "Why an aristocrat will never save the world" and "How to mentor the Chosen One."  When I was 18, my senior Bible class teacher assigned us the topic of "Why the Force is not God" for our final exam.  This means that I can and have found undertones of salvation in Despicable Me.

Why do I bring this up?  Part of my intent is to give you a good laugh.  Another part is to prepare you for the comparative literature discourse that I'm about to take you on. 

The Book in Brief

Don't worry, friends.  I do not intend to spoil this book for you.  I will set the scene briefly.

The city is Venesia, the time period unspecified.  If you suspect that the name is familiar, you're correct.  The city is built around canals.  The population has a thing for Venetian masks.  The market stalls remind me of the street vendors that I saw everywhere I went in Italy.  I swear that I must have haggled over the price of jewelry with a few of these characters.

 Into this world, Lauren introduces Evelina "Evie" di'Pietro and Aiden.  In Venesia, every person wears a mask and Evie is employed in her father's mask-making trade.  She is barely of age, but she has spent years learning her father's craft and developing her own style.  All is well until the night that a famed villain robs her family home and leaves her life in shambles.

I really can't reveal much more because I don't want to rob you of the experience of discovering the intricacies of this multi-faceted mystery.  You now know enough that you should be asking someone to borrow their copy if you don't buy it yourself.  And if you know me in a context beyond this blog, you know that I'll soon be trying to lend you a copy.  Or I could be asking Katey for hers if mine is checked out at that moment.

On with the show
This is, above all else, a blog on writing.  I would be remiss and out of character if I went any further before I indulged in my fascination with comparative literature. 

I have a vast library in my head that works a little bit like Netflix.  I tell you to read a book and if you like it, I tell you what else you should like.  In this mental library, if you gave What is Hidden a favorable rating, I would point you in the following directions:

Gail Carson Levine
Diana Wynne Jones
C.S. Lewis
Hayao Miyazaki
Mark Twain

I admit that this is a diverse list, but I will clarify matters in a minute.

Let's start at random with Miyazaki.  When reading this, a number of elements called such titles as Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle to mind.  (The latter is obviously why I listed Jones, but I'll address that later.)  Miyazaki excels in deceptively simple story-telling in which characters are both noble and naive, fantastic and slightly flawed.  They have pure hearts and a need to occasionally backtrack.  There are friendships without an over-arching need to define them as a romance.  And there's always an over-arching mystery that might not be completely obvious until it's solved cleanly at the end.

Evie is one of these noble characters.  Her motives are pure and when it's not a matter of life and death, she is guileless.  I like to read books with a movie adaptation in mind and the only barrier that I could see to this being adapted into an anime style is that I would probably spend the entire movie harrumphing over the changes they made to the costumes.  I am sometimes displeased with my ability to solve a crime before the main character, but I was satisfied with the hints along the way that led to the conclusion.

Moving on, let's discuss the hero's quest in general.  Diana Wynne Jones and Gail Carson Levine share a common trope:  Their heroines are the last to discover that they are saviors of sorts.  In my two favorite books by those two women, Ella and Sophie go about their duties and their quests because it is in their nature.  They have goals, but an epic quest takes a back burner to the need to take their places in society.  Again, without going into too much detail, Evie finds herself stumbling from the wreckage of the life she's known to a life of servitude.  She is first content to become good at her work as a servant, but seeks to excel when she is given the chance to become more than that. 

I mention C.S. Lewis, not for Narnia, but for 'Til We Have Faces.  In that book, the protagonist's eventual epiphany is one of discovering the noble and divine within herself.  Aiden comes to accept his own--for lack of a better word--destiny, while Evie discovers that she is not meant for anything but greatness.

And finally, Mark Twain.  In my AP English Literature exam, the final question asked me to discuss a single truth from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:  In order to find personal truth, you must separate yourself from society.  In What Is Hidden, Evie does nothing as drastic as going down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave, but it is when she is forced to leave her past life behind that she starts to come into her own.


I adore characterization in general and am constantly in search of a fresh approach to character development.  I can confidently say that one of the most outstanding aspects of this book is that it achieves just that.

As mentioned before, Venesian society features masks.  There are colors for each trade.  The quality of the materials in the mask indicate a person's station in life.  Masks even vary according to occasion--Evie is bewildered at one point by a half-mask with a veil until she realizes that it is a mask that permits the wearer to eat while remaining hidden.  The prince of the kingdom is so protected from view that not a single inch of his skin is ever shown.

It is a literal interpretation of the ages-old idea that we all wear masks to give ourselves a new identity or conceal an identity that brings us shame.  Going beyond this, the masks in this story allow the character's perspective to mature.  At one point, she marks the colors of a fisherman clan and is surprised that a high-born woman of that trade would be a servant.  She then thinks with respect of the skill that the person must have, not the lowliness of the person's position.

One of the finest moments of the book, for me, is the first unmasking.  The taboo against going bare-faced is so stark that there are private rooms where a new mask can be fitted by an artisan.  In a life-threatening situtation, Evie searches desperately for a way to mask herself and then runs from a fire.  In the first unmasking, a villain strips another person of their mask and I blanched as profoundly as I did when reading a rape scene in J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  There is barely any physical contact in the scene, but the act of violation is an almost allegorical one. 


I could go on for a while, but I have to wait for my friends to read it now so I can get them to read far too much into it as well.  Thanks for stopping in and I hope you join me in the Skidmore fanbase soon if you haven't already.  Here are some links to keep you going: (Lauren's website) (Where you can find the other stops on the blog tour.) (The events page for tonight's signing and reading at King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Owing it to Moms

In my house, we didn't listen to country music.  Ever.  Except for this one CD.  I have no idea where someone found it, but it was Mary Chapin-Carpenter and the best song on there was "He thinks he'll keep her."  

"She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was twenty-one she wore her mother's lace
She said "forever" with a smile upon her face
She does the car-pool, she PTAs
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was twenty-nine she delivered number three
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. "

Mom claimed this as her theme song, if nothing else for the line "she drives all day."  We all laughed at it because Mom seemed to live in the car.  She would drop me off at my violin lesson, pick Diana up from soccer, take Reed to scouts,  make sure Claire was at her friend's house...  When I was 14, she drove me into the city for a mid-year audition for New England Conservatory's youth division; this was her idea.

In fact, most of the things that I accomplished as a child and teenager were her idea.  She taught us to sing harmony so we could be in community theater productions.  I won a year of free piano lessons in a raffle, but she was a piano teacher herself and made sure that I got to my private lessons for years after that.  My school orchestra was fine, but she got me to audition for another orchestra that would let me play Haydn and Vivaldi.  It was the same thing with choir--I had a busy schedule with LCA Chorale, but she also had me running all over the state to sing with Youth Pro Musica.  When my former orchestra from Portland needed another violinist for their tour, she got up early with me so I could learn all of the music in three weeks and then came with me for my tour of Taiwan.  She also accompanied me on the tape that got me into Interlochen Arts Camp, helped me pick out my full-size violin and had a lemonade stand to help pay for the violin and the camp tuition while I was off playing Tchaikovsky and Holst three hours a day.  Since one of my recommendations was from my art teacher, she had the foresight to make me sign up for art classes after all of my musical requirements were done for the day.

She is the traveler who took me through four European countries in fourteen days.  She gave me recordings of Professor Greenberg's lectures on Beethoven, and then convinced me that the best way to listen to them was on a roadtrip to see the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway.  Lately, I haven't invited her on any of my trips to Ireland or Istanbul, but she's supported them.

Most importantly, she's the person who insisted on me continuing my writing.  She would find my fanfics in my notebooks and, rather than lecture me as Dad did, would ask me when I would start writing my own books.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Misery shared (or The Highs and Lows of Co-Authoring)

So, I am going to share three true stories in as unbiased a way as possible. 

Story #1:

I have a friend who is an amazing writer with quite profound ideas.  One of these was for a work of Holocaust literature.  Since she knows I have a passion for that, she bounced ideas off of me.  A couple of months later, she asked me to co-write.  We traded objectives, traded ideas.  I read 14 books and distilled a lot of information on what we needed to know.  She sent me a huge binder full of more stuff that we needed to know from her research.  We wrote a couple of scenes.  Then, one day, she announced that I was off the project and said it was another person's idea.  There was no commentary beforehand.

Story #2:

Interestingly enough, this is the same person.  Months before this, we cowrote what is unofficially called "Crack."  It's a story based on pure insanity.  It involved everything from brain-damaged androids to a group known as the Towel Brigade.  (Wardrobe, not accessory.)  It had in-jokes with both the authors and the readers.  We would start out with a scene and once the first person had written a draft, the other would add in their insanity, they'd write more after they'd collaborated in the Crack World.  Eventually, the scene would go up and we would still laugh at it weeks afterwards.

Story #3:

I created a project called the Botosphere.  It's based in Transformers and started out as the alien blogging experiment.  Thirty-odd stories later, we have a huge following and four authors.  Our writing sessions are best done after dessert and when we write so simultaneously that we have to go back and edit out the overlapping sentences.  We're four women who write four college boys in an apparently hilarious manner.  (Or so we've been told.)  That is the main story.  The side stories range from the absurd (The Autobots are punished for an April Fool's Day joke by going to mandatory sexual harassment seminars) to the sublime (A very long and awesome look into the relationship between Optimus and the human Prime, Sam Witwicky).  Our sublime author, who is really the one who deserves the most credit, has been very kind.  I had a very specific feeling on a plot point and she yielded to me as the creative director.  She let me borrow her story for a chapter so I could write philosophy of my own.  One April 1, I called her and said that I had some concerns and needed to talk to her.  I went over how we were going in a direction I couldn't support and I needed to ask her to step away for a while.  It was only because she was so darn kind to me about it that I stopped the joke early on.  And then I wrote her a story just to reward her for that.

This isn't a gripefest.  This is a perspective.  Tonight's perspective is on what makes a collaboration work.  I hope that you gleaned from the three stories my theme.  It is that the best element of collaboration is equal partnership.

If you start with respect and a healthy give and take, no collaboration starts out wrong.  You may have to fine-tune your work process.  You probably will not always agree, but you usually will work well.

It is essential that forgiveness go into effect.  In any partnership, romantic, friendly, professional, there will be mistakes made.  There will be faulty communication.  If it is something that is likely to fester, a problem should not go unresolved.  In all things, faulty communication or not, there should be honesty.  That honesty is an extension of respect.  As you can see in all three stories, the best results came from all parties being willing to be vulnerable to the others in that honesty.