Monday, December 9, 2013

I get a weird thrill out of making checklists.

I'm looking into getting help for it.  Things I need to get done:

1) The Siren cover.  Sweet Christ, I'm starting to feel like I need to hang up a sign stating "Free Punches" to cover every time I mention it without, you know, accomplishing it.

2) The Bonnie&J novella.  It really has no other plot thus far than "Bonnie and J have hijinks."  I consider this to be a solid life-plan.

3) Resume editing on Sea Change.

4) Resume writing on the (side) side as Smutty Alter Ego.  I miss her.

5) Bulletproof.

6) Clean this damned house before it locks its own door and swallows me absorbs me like an amoeba feeding.  What?  It's not always about the books.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

All over but the screaming.

At long last, Siren is edited and ready to go; the only thing it lacks is a cover.  We were going to do that this weekend, but the storm from hell hit Thursday night and basically shut the entire city down.  Plus some hairy personal shit went down in the life I have when I'm not attached to my computer.  (Because you totally want to be yanking yourself up from shooting directly into another screaming depression when you have nothing to do but look at your own walls!)  It's probably not a good idea to explain to two small children that you killed their mother right before Christmas, so we're going to try again next weekend.

In the meantime, would anyone be interested in a free ARC of Siren?  I love throwing glitter.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Yeah, I done did it.

I...don't like to advertise myself a lot or state things I feel should be a moo-duh moment like I'm a prophet.  (Superheroes can be POC!  They can be queer!  They can be women!  They can even be women that don't fit your beauty demands!)  This probably explains part of my sales, but something I absolutely strive for with the Super series is empowered women.  Part of that means that I pay attention to conventional beauty standards and keep them in mind as I'm drafting.  If anything, I tend to mark my female characters by what would be considered "flaws."  J has a broad jaw, Mindy is short and compact, Bonnie is a baby giraffe.  If you find them lovely, it's because they do lovable things. I *do* try to emphasize, however, that each of my five characters are athletes, and athletes freaking eat.

Dear Media: stop trying to make even "perfect" women feel like shit in order to sell more shit.

Five minutes of what the media actually does to women.

Monday, December 2, 2013

REVIEW: The Darkest Gate by SM Reine

Description: When Elise Kavanagh retired from demon hunting, she swore it would be permanent. But an attack from a powerful necromancer forced her back into the business, and now she's trying to balance her normal boyfriend and normal job with everything supernatural.

Mr. Black is a demon hunter gone rogue. He's enslaving angels and stealing ethereal artifacts in pursuit of forbidden immortality. An old grudge drives him to make his final stand in Elise's territory. Destroying her life and killing her friends isn't the goal, but it's a definite perk.

A demonic overlord offers to join against Mr. Black and protect Elise's loved ones. All she needs to do is ally with the demons she's sworn to kill, at the cost of her morals--and maybe her immortal soul. But once she crosses that line, there's no turning back.

Nothing is sacred when Heaven and Hell collide on Earth...

My Thoughts: One of the things I enjoy most about Reine's Elise is how likably unlikable she is.  Someone as traumatized as Elise isn't going to flop and angst, because they're not going to understand that they're traumatized.  The Darkest Gate begins where Death's Hand left off in exploring more fully this strange, dangerous woman.  The flashbacks are fantastic both in bringing the plot into focus without need of a full-fledged prequel and in showing that Elise is, if anything, in pretty good shape compared to her teenaged self.  Elise and her aspis, James, are at an inevitable crossroads: he wants a normal life.  She knows she can never have one, and James is the only person she truly allows herself to trust.  She's struggling to play nice in her own not-quite-nice way; as sweet as Anthony is, it's clear that it's not going to work.  Featuring at least one Joss Whedon screamer moment.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Siren: first three chapters!

Yep, failed NaNoWriMo miserably.  This is why you back your stuff up, kiddos.  (I assume children are the only ones who don't know this rule yet.)  Well, at least I'm enjoying Bonnie, and I do have some good news: I'm shooting the Siren cover next weekend!  The model will be the fabulous, the wonderful, the glamorous Mandalorian Maven, perhaps recognizable as the same model who brought J to life on the Fire With Fire cover.  She's chameleon enough to pull it off.  In the meantime, here's Naomi:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

REVIEW: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

All right, I'm going to be frank: you might have noticed that this review is a little bit of a departure for me.  Not in the sense that it's done over a terrible, terrible horror film.  (I hold those to my bosom and perhaps coo over them a little bit.  The neighbors ask me to stop in increasingly worried tones.  We have a fun relationship.)  Rather, in the sense that it's a review of a horror film made in 1995 with the proceeds of my couch cushions delivered from the future.  The only two cast members who are remotely famous today are Nicholas Brendan, who is a basketball-playing extra, and Charlize Theron, who dies of being stabbed through the vagina.  I'm relatively certain that they both have attorneys drawing up C&Ds for me purely for mentioning their names in connection to this glorious hot mess.

Children of the Corn III first came to my attention due to the thespian talents of Mari Morrow and Duke Stroud, they who inspired the very astute question: "I write about superheroes.  Why the hell do people keep finding a straight-to-VHS mess when they search for my name?"

Monday, November 11, 2013

REVIEW: Thor 2

A few days post-premier, but I was busy chewing things over.  And generally twirling in a circle and cooing, because did I ever love this movie.  Actually cutting for spoilers for once!  (I know!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Kamala Khan

Marvel Comics is introducing a new Ms. Marvel.

She's Muslim.

Because I've already gotten into one dust-up that shocked me with how much casual racism is still acceptable (person who doesn't even read comics says that a Muslim hero anywhere, ever is unrealistic), I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

Buffy Summers, Rachel Berensen, and Xena were seminal (ironic, considering where I'm going) to me as an adolescent.  Do you know why?  Because they re-welcomed the era in which girls could be heroes.  Prior to that, I had to identify with the boys.  And I did, as the advertising agencies knew I would, but I still remember the incredible, exultant feeling of seeing a female hero and thinking, "Hey, maybe that could be me!"

So to everyone who wants to shit on Kamala before she even makes her debut: what if you never got to see yourself as the hero before?  What if she was the first time you got to identify with someone who looks like you and, rather than being a dirty terrorist, got to be remarkable?

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo and You: the Advice of a 50/50 Success Story

We're gearing up to my very favorite time of the year, Halloween.  After that, though, comes my second-favorite season: National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  I won in 2011, and the result was Leech.  I failed miserably last year and haven't been able to restart the project since then.  (Perhaps because I have been away from the poisonous influences that inspired Eat in the first place for several years now, so call it a backdoor win?)  Here's what worked for me on the year I did win:

1) Routine.  Find out how you best work and stick to it.  When I was in college and working out of longhand in a notebook, I could sit down for five minutes and absolutely disappear into the work before popping right back up again.  (Apologies to the professors who got sixty percent of me at best.)  During the window between graduating and grown-up work, I learned to write from a laptop from an hour before I had to get dressed for the obligatory degrading retail job.  At my first Big Girl job, I took my laptop with me and physically removed myself from distractions during breaks and lunches.  Now that Ye Old Day Job is in a neighborhood where it's honestly not safe to carry a laptop with you, I work out of a thumb drive.

2)  Find the vices that help you, find the vices that hurt you, and eliminate accordingly.  I am, believe it or not, a morning person.  I wake up a good forty-five minutes before I actually need to and spend it dancing about, drinking coffee, and talking to myself.  My weakness for terrible pop music (I've given up and resigned myself to worshipping at the altar of Katy Perry) lends to that; so, for the month of November, it has to go in favor of character playlists.  (Except that Bonnie is a mixture of hip-hop, punk, and punch-your-fist-up diva ballads, so this might blow up in my face on the bop-inducing front.)    I'm also a fan of the vino.  Since I have a good feeling that my best work is going to be done in the evenings and on weekends, that is also going away for the duration of the month.  The iPhone will also be placed in someone else's hands during working periods.  But you'll pry my tea and white noise out of my cold, dead hands. :)

3) Know how you write.  I'm an outliner.  If I pants it, the bones of the story just aren't there, so I freak out and toss a perfectly serviceable tale.  I outline ahead of time, being careful not to give too much on the truly sweet scenes (so I'm still having fun when I get to them), and then step back to look at the whole picture.  I'm a little behind on Bonnie's outline, but this series has been in my head for so long that I know exactly where I want her to land.

4) Just write the damned old thing and don't worry about editing.  You are not publishing on December 1st.  The important thing is to get it out, and throw yourself a party afterwards.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Delivery day!

Was actually two weeks ago.  I'm kinda lazy.

Yes, Siren is done and off to the betas, and I'm leaping forward to do the outline on Bulletproof.  I hope to have Siren out by the end of the year, but you know me and promises by now.  Naomi, as I have said before, was a difficult character to figure out.  For so much of the series thus far, she's been either a side character or a pushing point between Ophelia and Marcus.  She's been something that the other characters have to act against rather than her own self.  I think I finally found that self.  A good thing, as Naomi's role in the Grand Finale is huge.

And now looking forward to NaNoWriMo and Bonnie, my dear Bonners.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The most important event of the fall.

The weather is probably starting to cool if you live above the equator.  (Please, send me some.)  A lot of people out and about in the meat world with are extremely excited about the beginning of football season.  Yay, pigskins and violence!  Well, as much as I enjoy bacon and hitting things, my interest in sports rests in the negative, so my main reason for loving fall is this: TELEVISION PREMIERE SEASON!

Nikita: About to have its last hurrah, I'm afraid.  The third season got a little more sci-fi than its world could support, I must admit, but Nikita as a character, and the show as a whole, hit the right notes far more than the wrong.  I'm going to miss her terribly.

Arrow:  Back for a triumphant second season!  I've always been predisposed towards liking Ollie, but I have to say that Ammell is the best Ollie I've seen to date.  And the ensemble cast is perfect.  (I do wish someone other than Katie Cassidy had been cast as Laurel, though.  If--and I pray, I pray to the writer gods--Laurel is ever going to become Dinah Freaking Lance, she's going to have to step up hard.)

Elementary: I started watching this show mostly out of spite over the truly awful, racist, sexist bullshit hurled at Lucy Liu.  Once I settled in, however, I found myself honestly enjoying it.  Johnny Lee Miller hasn't been one of my favorite actors in the past, but he brings a brilliant nuance to his portrayal.  And Joan!

Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D:  Oh, please.  Like you didn't see this one coming.

Sleepy Hollow:  Or this one, either, for that matter.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I will never grow up past twelve.

Ye Olde Day Job is holding a "secret pal" game to boost morale; the basic gist is that we each have a secret pal that we're giving little gifts to each week, with a big reveal to take place in October.  Clearly, my secret pal knows me extremely well.  I wrote everything in longhand until I graduated college and got my first laptop (this is what happens when you're po'...and even as I type that I can picture the truly po' folks out there lining up to kick my ass, so never mind).  Though I've joined the modern world and do my drafting and editing out of a computer (likely thus saving myself early-onset arthritis in my fingers and wrists), I still do all of my outlining out of notebooks.  The prettiest notebooks I can find, with pens containing the shiniest and most childish of ink colors.  I carry them about, I cuddle them, I know this is strange.  A coworker actually had to ask me if I needed them removed from my possession until the day was over.

I might have bared my teeth and growled a little.  I'm not perfect.

However, now that I'm close to finishing Naomi's book (an admittedly hard birth), I'm starting to think ahead to post-Super things.  (Now you watch Bulletproof kick the living crap out of me.)  I've had a series of books centering around the Lilith myth chasing me since high school; they sort of haunt me.  I can't think of a better place to put the outlines.  Putting dark books under happy veneers always amuses me.

(Yes, that is my desk, and the rest of it is even worse.  I actually had to frame the picture carefully to avoid revealing people's sensitive information.  But I know where everything is!)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fellow geeks, I say unto thee: chillax.

Yes, we've all heard the news by now.  Yes, Ben Affleck is going to be Batman.  The sky is falling, DC is doomed forever, we're all still going to see this movie but we are by-God use our Comic Book Guy voices as we do it.

Guys.  It's going to be all right.  Allow me to make a plea on behalf of Benny.

1) Gigli was a long time ago.  Lord help me if I was still held accountable for all of my lapses in taste and judgement over the years.

2) Argo.

3) Hollywoodland.

4) His directorial history.  I highly disliked Man of Steel on the basis of its being too grim and failing to understand the ultimate optimism of Supes in the slightest, but DC has decided to take their cinematic universe in a darker direction and it is what it is at this point.  Batman is a noir figure; Affleck is excellent at noir.

Give the man a chance, oh intarwebs.  I thought Chris Evans and Mark Rufalo were going to be steaming piles of cat mess when they were announced, and I could not imagine any other actors playing Steve Rogers or Bruce Banner now.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I just want to throw this out there.

So...Miley Cyrus, she of legal age, does a sexually provocative performance to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines."  The world is horrified.

Robin Thicke, he who came up with the song in the first place, does a sexually provocative performance of "Blurred Lines" with Miley Cyrus.  The world says, "Nice suit, bro."

Male privilege doesn't get much more blunt than that, folks.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ah, we are such strange creatures.

As I was a-writing today, I had to do something-awful-to-a-character-I-love/make-a-character-I-love-do-something awful/all-or-both-but-they-triumph/I'm-melodramatic-they-get-a-torn-nail at Ye Olde Day
Job.  And I broke down crying.  I mean, the ugly kind.  It was not a polite, ladylike lament.  There was snot.  People were concerned.  And I was completely at a loss as to how to explain it.

This is the thing.  I tend to grok towards certain character types, but I don't do Mary Sues.  (If anything, I'm often told that my characters are too snotty and aggressive.)  My persons all have quirks and flaws, sometimes very deep ones*.  I'm used to dealing with characters Being Very Naughty or going through Very Naughty things.  I giggle when I kill my darlings.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME HERE?  I used to be objective.  I swear I was.

...well, I could fake it, anyway.

*I am a sad little redemptionista.  I love watching characters fall to their very bottom and then scrabble back up, bloodied and wiser.  It ties both into the part where I love them and where I'm a wee bit sadistic.  All I can say is: I used to be in fandom.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Character spotlight: Bonnie

It's extremely rare that I do a character spotlight before the release of that character's book.  Particularly so in this case because, well, Bonnie hasn't had a very big role since Super, has she?  Surely the more logical choice would be Naomi, as her book is the one I'm currently editing up for the betas.  Bonnie's role in Siren will be extensive, however, and I find my thoughts returning more and more to her arc as I begin the outlines for Bulletproof and her as of yet unnamed novella.  'Ware spoilers, as I'm going to stay vague but don't have any bigger respect for my own spoilers as I do spoilers for other works.

One of the biggest problems I have as a writer is that, as I try to stay subtle, I overshoot and then have betas constantly telling me on first drafts that they aren't sure what's going on.  I'm working on the balance.  In the meantime, Bonnie is probably the most dynamic character of the series, making the biggest transition from damaged and nearly feral youth into a graceful young hero.  That the majority of this has happened behind the scenes...Jesus, I hope I land this bird.  So here we go:

Bonnie, Ophelia, and Marcus: Bonnie worships Ophelia and Marcus.  Her blood family was cruel to her, her first experience with her own powers was Evelyn abusing her...she's got issues.  But the slightest kindness shown to her from Ophelia and Marcus, and she snaps right around into a shining pupil.  This is one of Bonnie's greatest strengths.  She wears her damage, but her inherent goodness turns to gold when given the tiniest window.  (This is my favorite vein to mine as a writer.  I unabashedly love a hero.  I love to watch someone rising up.)  However, Marcus and Ophelia did so much for her on a material, spiritual, mental, and emotional level that she cannot ever feel equal enough to them to challenge them on the pedestals she has given them.  She cannot grow until she recognizes her parents as flawed and still worthy of her regard based on their strengths (and maybe also their flaws).

Bonnie and J:  And then we have Bonnie and J.  I freely admit that this is among my favorite relationships of the series.  J needs someone to pull her back (and I adore that the twenty year-old is the one who does that), while Bonnie needs someone with whom she can have fun as an equal.  Marcus, Ophelia, and even Naomi (as the stepmother she doesn't particularly like) are her parental figures.  J is her first genuine friend as an equal.  After the events of Super, J is also in pretty dire need of a friend she can lean on, even if she does like to play the role of the superior, naughty aunt now and then.  Besides, the dialogue between them is fantastic.

Bonnie and romance:  Ophelia and Naomi are, of course, the major OTP of the series as an established couple long before the meat of Super begins.  Each book since then has contained a little taste of romance--just a taste, as I am far more interested in developing the women themselves as individuals than in romance as far as this series goes.  So does Bonnie get a beau?  Well, her book is the last of the series before the Thrilling Finale, and she's got some heavy lifting to do to set things up.  I'm going to play coy on this one.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ah, life.

Today I was offered a job.

Alas, I was waiting on the corner for the light to change so I could cross the street.  I politely told him that the retirement benefits are better at my day job, thank you.

I work in an interesting neighborhood.

Monday, July 22, 2013


I swear, I will never talk trash about antidepressants.  Never.  My mood over the past five weeks has done a one-eighty that I would not have believed possible six weeks ago.

As a result, I'm actually editing again!  Siren is coming along nicely; it's everything I can do not to spoil the hell out of you in my wild paroxysms of glee.  However, 1) I have way too much fun shooting Bonnie, 2) the return of Naomi's casual nudity is fantastic, and 3) you guys are going to love Dante so, so much.

It gets even better, though.  Due to an unbelievable writing-related jam session with the irreplaceable Aud this afternoon, Sea Change has come back from the grave.  I'm going to have to do some deep structural edits once I finish with Siren (which has a bit of a telling-not-showing issue in places, but on the whole its bones are strong), but, golly, I think this one might just be saved.  I'm going to have to do some research on autism and Aspergers, though.  Yes, because even my silly trash novels apparently have to have weight.

Monday, July 8, 2013

REVIEW: Blind Sight by Emersinda Alvarez

Firstly, profuse apologies to Ms. Alvarez for the lateness of this review; I was hit with one crisis after another this weekend and didn't manage to be productive at all.  That being said, check this book out.  Its world is imaginative and descriptive, and it was nice to read a book that wasn't about an American teenager having a coming of age crisis.  I also greatly enjoyed the relationship between Leocardo and Odette; the care between them is very carefully and lovingly drawn.  This series fits together like a puzzle piece, each volume revealing slightly more of an interconnected story.  I'm definitely checking out the next book.

And now, a few words from the author:

Ermisenda Alvarez on Dreams, Imagination, and Perspectives

Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes by Ermisenda AlvarezI had a dream; I wanted to write novels. I have been writing since I joined a Harry Potter guild on Neopets at twelve years old. You could write short pieces to receive points. Writing didn't stop there.

I had a vivid imagination; I wanted to know more. Often, after finishing a book I pondered about how the story could have been retold from a different perspective, maybe a different character. What if we were able to read the story of Snape over the course of seven novels rather than Harry Potter?

I had chance on my side; I met Eliabeth and we were two young women crazy about writing. So, what did we do? We wrote. How did we write? The nature of our friendship began on a role-playing site whereby we wrote from different characters to create scenes and stories.

We had a dream, vivid imagination and each other. What more did we need? Not much else as we embarked on an amazing journey and wrote Blind Sight despite living half the globe away.

Writing a novel was a dream I have had for a long time but I was so excited to write a two-sided novel that followed two different perspectives. It was an ambitious choice for us to make but one of the best. We have not only challenged ourselves but have provided readers with a new way of reading. For those who only wish to read one side, that is okay, but for those of us who are interested in the power of different perspectives and multiple stories we have another side to offer.

The power of multiple stories cannot be emphasized enough in our daily lives. How many times have we heard one story about an acquaintance but once we have met them, we receive a second story, in which might completely contradict the first. Is either one wrong? Maybe not. But your understanding of the person, or novel in the case, is enriched.

Growing up in a Spanish family and living in Australia has taught me a lot about language in my, so far, short life. My very first language was Spanish, but when school started English became my "mother" tongue. A simple saying can dramatically change through translation, those of you who know more than one language will understand this perfectly. I have had to translate pieces of Spanish into English for friends and even though the words I have translated make sense in English, only I can grasp the full meaning and implications of the phrase.

Staying open minded, listening to varied opinions and soaking up what we can from the zillions of stories out there in the world is part of life. Eliabeth and I have channeled the essence of that concept into our first two-sided novel. We live on an earth with billions of people. We all think differently, we see the world differently and together, we are the characters of humanity. I am inspired by dreams, imagination and people.

The story of Leocardo, Aniela, and Odette in Blind Sight can be enjoyed through one color, one perspective but, why limit yourself? There is not only another color to live through but together, a new range of shades to enjoy.

Ermisenda Alvarez

This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective.

preview on Barnes and Noble

preview on Amazon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Help me, oh intarwebs.

I'm back, briefly.  (Antidepressants are wonderful inventions, by the way.  I didn't even mind the tremors and blown pupils as I adjusted.)  And I have a problem that I need you to help me solve.

See, I want to do a promo for the Fourth of July weekend, because I like throwing glitter.  My quandary, however, is whether I should do it for Fire with Fire or Leech.  On the one hand, J is made for a holiday featuring fireworks.  On the other hand, I only have one Kindle freebie day left for her until the middle of August.  (Gotta plan this stuff better.)  Mindy, meanwhile, has five free days, and I don't have a single character in this series more apple-pie than her.

So, intarwebs.  Help me out, because I don't want to make a decision.  What would you like to see for free?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

REVIEW: Man of Steel

Late to the party--I actually went to a midnight showing last Thursday--but, you know, mental breakdown took precedence.  I'm actually going to go against my usual spoiler policy and put this under a cut for once; that's your one warning if you're worried about Cheerios-pissing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I've been circling this post for the past three weeks.

If you're not familiar with Allie Brosch, you're missing out.  She's one of the funniest and most poignant comediennes around.

This was going to be a very different post when I started writing it almost a month ago.  Triumph of the human spirit and all that shit.

I haven't made any secret of having a pretty hard time of it, mental-health wise, for the past year or so.  I scared the living fuck out of myself and someone I care about last night, and it has become painfully obvious that I need to take a sabbatical and get some help.  I have a few reviews and ARCs in queue, but I'm probably going to be scarce around here for the duration.  Catch you on the flip side.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writing update...again.

I have got to stop doing these things without anything to show for it, I know.  Anyway, here's what's been going on in Ye Olde Writing Life:

1) Sea Change is currently with the first of the betas, the lovely and perceptive Aud, to see if there's anything worth saving in there.  I have a good feeling that I'm going to have to leap-frog Siren over it; it's rare that I stumble around a book with such an overwhelming feeling of wrongness without being able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be retooled.  This is unfortunately going to put me way beyond the one-book-every-six-months schedule I've been trying to maintain, and the sales of Leech are definitely suffering for it.  Allow me to reiterate my long-standing position: do you want a free book?  Do you like to talk about books?  Write a review!  Let me give you a book!

2)  Since Sea Change is officially sitting in the corner to think about what it's done, I've moved on to doing the edits on Siren, Naomi's book.  The past year has been sort of rocky for me in terms of mental health (how's that for an understatement, but I'll save it for the next post), and the first thing to shut down whenever I'm going through a depressive patch is always my sense of words.  What used to be as easy for me as breathing is still like breathing...through glue.  It's taken me a little while to get my groove back on Siren--I used to do 3500 words a day without a hitch, and now I'm proud of myself when I hit 1800--but I'm getting there.  Working on a book that's already 80% there structurally and just needs some shoring up at the beginning and end helps; I can see the path laid out before me.  (Yes, I am describing writing as both water and paths in the same paragraph.  I told you that I'm still coming back to full strength.)

3)  Editing Siren has rejuvenated my excitement for my next two projects, Bulletproof and a heretofore unnamed novella.  They're both about Bonnie.  If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I, ah, really like Bonnie.  Possibly on the level that I like Catherine.  My love of Bonnie doesn't get me the looks my love of Catherine does, however, possibly due to the part where Bonnie is not a psychopath.  (What?  Catherine was fun.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fire With Fire free on Amazon for Memorial Day Weekend!

Hi, boils and ghouls!  (Yes, I know it's May rather than October.  Don't take my cheesy puns away from me.)  In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, Fire With Fire is making one of its periodic dips back into the KDP Select program and will free for four days starting at midnight tonight.  Because J throws fire, and I'm sure there are going to be fireworks somewhere.  Or something.  Honestly, I'm just feeling one of my periodic urges to hurl glitter.

So mark your calendars, folks, and please accept my advance apology for the absolute lunatic I'm going to become on Twitter.  Should the overwhelming urge to thwap me steal across you, it will not be taken personally.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

REVIEW: Star Trek: Into Darkness

'WARE: as per usual, I'm going to play fast and loose with spoilers.  Also as per usual, I am much more about character growth and momentum than I am plot twists, but some things happen in the movie that affect the characters in very significant ways, so...'WARE.

This review came extremely close to being subtitled "Holy Hell, It's Like They're Adults."  Previously on Star Trek, the Romulans made their appearance several decades ahead of schedule, leading to a Spock who is much more defensive about his mixed human/Vulcan heritage.  Rather than growing up in a stable, apple-pie home, James Kirk is alternately neglected and abused and is heading towards nowhere good.  And the nature of the Federation itself is different, warier and less inclined to trust.  (Nyota Uhura remains a BAMF.  Every universe needs a through-line.)

Bringing the Romulans in early in the first movie was a stroke of genius, as 1) it allows for a darker Federation to fit a more cynical generation, but 2) gives the characters a reason to state why their moral stances matter.  Cynicism is easy.  Optimism--real optimism, not naivete--is difficult.  That's why it's laudable, and that's a big part of why I love the rebooted Star Trek so much.  This crew knows the universe can be an ugly place, they just choose to focus on the beautiful parts.

(Pretend there's a segue here.)  A massive part of why I love Chris Pine's take on Kirk so much is his warmth and lack of ego.  He keeps the essence of Kirk, but adds to him a generosity of spirit, an instinctive kindness, that Shatner's Kirk lacked.  It grounds him and keeps him likable even while Kirk is doing incredibly bone-headed things.  (Original recipe Kirk was the youngest captain in history after training for fourteen years.  Reboot Kirk did it in three.  Yeah, he's gonna be a bonehead a few times.)  In the first movie, Kirk isn't thinking about leadership, he's just trying to burn out lingering self-destructive impulses.  Into Darkness Kirk still isn't really thinking about leadership at the onset, but he's emotionally healthy in a way that 2009 Kirk wasn't.  He's processed his issues, he's moving forward like a grown-up.  While he's basically allowed to have daddy issues for the rest of his life at this point, Kirk's Batman in the second movie moments are born of freshly-laid grief rather two decades of festering wounds.  Twenty minutes and one sharp look from Spock, and he came to his senses to be the legitimate hero again.  The big theme of this movie was the nature of good leadership, so I might have squeaked and flailed when Kirk's Crowning Moment of Awesome involved sacrifice rather than testosterone.

No, that moment went to Nyota Damned Uhura.  One of the (many) excellent things about the 2009 movie was the way it singled out each character and gave them a moment to shine before a new audience.  The sequel is no different (Sulu!), and I freaking loved that the big moment of kicking ass and chewing bubblegum came at the hands of Spock and Uhura rather than the ostensible leading man. Kirk is not the only one who doesn't have a scrap of ego to him; well-done, writers.

Kirk isn't the only one who went about the business of growing up, by the way.  Spock is still struggling with his dual natures, he's just pushing himself towards numbness rather than rage.  (And he gets taken to task for it by both Kirk and Uhura in the movie's funniest scene.)  This Spock has had a rougher life than the 1960s version, this one is still looking for his balance...but he's pointed in the right direction.  The kid's going to be all right.

And now we address our bad guy: I will freely admit that my eyebrows went up when I heard that Benedict Cumberbatch was going to be playing Khan.  In retrospect, I retract my reservations.  Star Trek tried very hard and broke ground in a lot of ways, but it's still a universe in which the world was nearly ended by those weirdo Asians.  Casting one of the whitest guys who ever whited as the most notorious villain in this particular universe is probably a wise choice when you're carrying around that kind of baggage.  And Cumberbatch was good.  He knew exactly how to ping the right notes to make Khan appear sympathetic without tripping over the line into being a woobie, as well as being a fantastic foil for Kirk in terms of the movie's themes of leadership and character being what you do in the dark.  The heroes are only as good as their villains.

So there you go.  Watch this movie now, there is hardly a false note in it.

And, honestly, if there's a deleted scene somewhere involving Kirk, Spock, and Uhura realizing that they just had a three-way lover's spat, I will laugh until I pee.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Iron Man 3

All right, I admittedly have some complicated feels about this movie which I've been tussling with over the past day and a half or so.  Most of my wiggling is centered around the last ten minutes or so, though, so let's just get down with what works.  (As always, I have no respect for spoilers, so 'ware.)

1) The Mandarin was.  Freaking.  Awesome.  My eyebrows went up into my hairline when I first heard that he was going to be the major villain of the third movie, 'cause, whoo-boy, there is a lot of racism in them thar hills.  Turning an unintentional racist caricature into an intentional racist caricature deliberately and cynically used by a white villain in order to provoke fear is brilliant.  Excellent trolling, Marvel.

2) Literally every single thing about Pepper Potts.  I was a little worried that she was going to wind up fridged, but introducing Extremis would have actually made it palatable to me if they had decided to go that route.  (No body, no death, baybees.  It's the comic-book way.)  But Pepper getting to be an honest-to-God superhero in her own right was, like the treatment of the Mandarin, completely brilliant.  I'm going to pretend that Tony's making-everything-better in the last ten minutes mostly meant him speed-reading enough books on the human genome to keep her from going 'splodey while still letting her remain an awesome fire goddess.  Did I mention that I liked Pepper in this movie?  I really, really liked Pepper in this movie.

3) Breaking the hero down to his most basic components and then building him back up.  This is actually a textbook heroine's journey, which I love.  Let's face it, if you slot the Avengers into a Five Man Band format, Tony's The Chick, not Natasha.

The only two things I didn't like:

1) I'm still torn about removing the arc reactor.  I know, it fits the movie's theme of Tony shedding his crutches and realizing that he's a hero because he's a hero, not his traumas, but...the arc reactor.

2)  They explained the rabbit.  I was perversely hoping they wouldn't.  :)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Other people follow sports teams, or knit. (Or follow competitive knitting teams.)

There are two times of the year that never fail to make me excited: May and September.  Most people associate these time periods with the start of basketball and football season.  (Do they?  I don't do sports.)  For me, though, these two months mark the beginning of something much bigger than any sports franchise.  May and September are, respectively, the beginning of the summer blockbuster season and the new run of television shows.

I'm kicking off with Iron Man 3 this Thursday, after which it's only a few more weeks until the new Star Trek and the Under the Dome miniseries*.  Be prepared to hear me from space.

*Will we finally see a King adaptation that doesn't suck?  Well, I'm a betting woman.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today SCOTUS hears arguments on the Constitutionality of Prop 8.

Video from Huffpost here.

There is not one single argument against gay marriage that does not tell queer people that they are fundamentally worth less than "good" folk.  Not one, and you may unfollow me now if you think otherwise.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leech Promotional Weekend

...which ends at midnight tonight.  Yeah, I know.  I fail at promoting properly, but that's been the story since Super premiered, I don't foresee myself getting dramatically better any time soon.  Anyway, from here until midnight, you can pick up Leech absolutely FREE on Amazon as part of the KDP Select program.  I wish I could tell you I was basing this on a St. Patrick's Day theme or something similar, but the honest answer is that I've been battling off a case of Captain Tripps for the past week or so, and in my fever-addled head it simply seemed like a neat idea.  This is Leech's first go-round in the KDP Select program (as I've mentioned here before, I have mixed feelings on KDP Select: on the one hand, I don't think that Amazon is the Great Evil many do, but neither do I like giving any corporate entity an easy path to power, so I tend to rotate titles in and out), but probably not it's last: I'm toying with the idea of putting all three Super titles back into KDP Select when Siren, Naomi's book, comes out and Shit Starts Getting Real, and then again for the finale.  Leech going into KDP Select means that it will not be available on any other platform save for Amazon for the next ninety days, but don't worry: give me a holler, tell me your favored format, and I'll hook you up.  I only ask that you drop me a rating or review on Goodreads or the like, if you please. :)

Second reason I suck at promotion: when I decided to do this earlier in the week, I completely forgot that I was going on a road trip this weekend, which severely curtailed the time I had available to tweet.  Or rather, it didn't curtail my ability to tweet promos, but it did make it significantly harder to bop, chat, and mask the fact that I was promoting.  On the other hand, it did stop me from hovering over my ranks like Gollum (an awful, awful habit of mine every time I do a promotion), so blessings in small places.  For those of you who follow me on Facebook and were wondering about the random country music posts: five hours each way, nothing better to do than listen to the radio and contemplate Eoin Macken.  A girl's gotta entertain herself somehow.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

REVIEW: Collapse by Richard Stephenson

Description: America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record; a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas. For the first time in history, the Middle East has united as one and amassed the most formidable army the world has seen since the Third Reich. A hidden army of terrorists is on American soil. This is the story of three men: Howard Beck, the world’s richest man, also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Richard Dupree, ex-Navy SEAL turned escaped convict. Maxwell Harris, a crippled, burned out Chief of Police of a small Texas town. At first they must fight for their own survival against impossible odds. Finally, the three men must band together to save their beloved country from collapse.

My Thoughts: I like dystopian fiction because there's a slightly sociopathic aspect of my personality that likes smashing the world to bits.  Not the most honorable part of myself, to be sure, but definitely the most fun, kind of like that kid who builds Lego towers over and over again just to knock them down.  Collapse is an excellent novel in that regard.  I admittedly lawled a little bit over the idea of Iran being able to conquer anyone, but in the good-hearted way you laugh at the sillier aspects of action movies while still maintaining suspension of disbelief.  Stephenson keeps the plot moving along at a deft pace and is adept at skipping between a multitude of characters while keeping their voices distinct.  (I will note that it's a good thing that the book is ensemble, though, because my dislike of the Navy SEAL character was approaching hateboner territory by the end.)  It's a fun little popcorn read, and I'll definitely look at the second book when it comes out this summer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making cracks about leap-frogging is probably not appropriate, given that I've spent the evening writing smut under a pen name.

About a year ago, I was doing the first draft of Naomi's book--AKA When Shit Starts Getting Real--and, man, did I ever hit a wall. Hard. I looked like a pekinese. At the suggestion of Aud (who can just shut her face right now, she knows why), I threw it into a drawer and started work on a ridiculous standalone PNR as a way of blowing off steam. A year later, I'm editing it. I've learned two things:

1) Over-thinking, thy name is Mari.

2) Damn, I miss Naomi and Ophelia. They are truly the OTP of this series. Well, there's one more, but it's currently redacted due to spoilers.

Ugh, y'all.  Why must editing be so hard?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pass-along post: KDP Select and Amazon's Recommendations Engine

Post by David Gaughran: Amazon's Recommendation Engine Trumps the Competition.

Some interesting discussion on the future of KDP Select going on in the comments.  I had some modest success with KDP Select when Super first came out, but I agree with the general assessment that it's usefulness in getting paid sales is waning.  The best current use for it, IME, is as a way of getting those all-important reviews, and I'm not sure that being restricted to Amazon for 90-day stretches is the best way to go about it when issuing a Smashwords coupon is so easy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: Alexander Death by JL Bryan

Description: While Seth searches for Jenny, Dr. Heather Reynard of the CDC unravels Seth and Jenny's secrets.

Alexander opens Jenny's mind to her deep past, and to the full horrific extent of her powers.

Torn between her feelings for Alexander and Seth, and between her past lives and her present, Jenny must prepare to face her enemies while fighting against the powerful, ancient darkness within, which threatens to grow until it consumes her...

My Thoughts:  All right, I'm probably one of the biggest champions this book series has and will gleefully fangasm about it to anyone who stands still long enough to let me.  JL Bryan has still created one of the most interesting and complicated heroines I've read over the past few years, and hands-down the best female villain.  Ashleigh of the first book will never not be deliciously evil and clever.  

That being said, I do have to finally admit that the series is starting to suffer as it rounds into its third installment, so much so that I'm not sure yet if I want to read the fourth.  (I would feel this way even if the wear and tear hadn't become so apparent, as Alexander Death comes to such a natural stopping place that to open the series up to further books seems a little forced.)  Jenny has run off with Alexander in order to save her own life after Ashleigh's latest attack, Seth is trying to find Jenny again while being harassed by the Department of Homeland Security, Ashleigh is sadly marginalized as a villain, and Tommy...well, Tommy actually really disappointed me.  The potential for truly epic villainy or even a stance as a solid antihero expressed in the second book of the series just sort of *poofs* off into nowhere, but he still gets his happy ending without actually doing anything to earn it.  Throw in a fairly silly PSA about drug use and a what-the-hell black ops rescue, and I did a fair amount of giggling through my fingers at points of this book.  

This isn't to say that Alexander Death doesn't still have a great deal to recommend it, because it does.  Though she doesn't get as much to do as in the first and second book, Ashleigh is still absolutely electric.  (She's Randall Flagg with a better leave-in conditioner, people.  I'm telling you, even if I didn't like Jenny so much, Ashleigh alone is worth the price of admission.)  The descriptions of the kids' past lives are rich and varied, Seth is back to being the good-hearted goober we saw in the first book, and the final showdown ties together three books worth of themes and plot lines in a neat little bow.  It's a fitting end to the series, but who am I kidding? I already know I'm going to read the fourth book sooner or later.  It's like crack.  (So maybe I was supposed to learn something about Jenny's little stroll down the dark side, after all.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Self-Forgiveness and Mindy

Everyone makes mistakes, right?  I know I have.  Hell, the last five years of my life have seemed like nothing but one long mistake at times.  I know what it's like to feel as though your very touch brings rot  to everyone you care about.  That aspect of Mindy's personality comes to me very easily.  In December of 2012, my GRE scores expired.  See, back when I was in college, I had my whole life planned out.  I was going to go to graduate school, get my Ph.D., and sail smoothly into a career as a tenured professor.  (Tenure-track positions hadn't declined quite so much that the idea was completely laughable at that point, but...well, let's say I wasn't completely living in reality on that one.)

And then I had a complete meltdown that involved me sobbing on a bathroom floor for three nights and scaring the living crap out of everyone who cares about me, the start of a six-month period where it seemed as though I broke just about everything I touched.  How does this relate to Mindy, you ask?  I know what it's like to screw up so badly that you feel like you can't ever do anything right again, and I put that into Mindy.  (What, you thought it was relentless optimism and natural goodness that came naturally to me?  Oh, you are just adorable.)  I also, after my friends forcibly dragged me out by my ankles, threw me into the shower, and then made me start sending out job applications, learned how important it is to forgive yourself for your mistakes.  More importantly, I learned how to let other people forgive you for your mistakes.  That's Mindy's main struggle in Leech and, frankly, throughout the series.  It's been an interesting experience writing that in a character who's not by nature a classic brooder, especially since Mindy sits alongside Ophelia as one of the series' major moral voices.

Like I said, Mindy's not really a brooder.  She's good for the sake of being good, but in a chirpier way than Ophelia's Hepburn-esque poise.  She's optimistic, she sees the good in people and gets them to see it, too, and she knows the value of a plate of hot wings and a good football game.  I'm not going to lie, I had to stalk one of my more wholesome friends a little bit in the writing of Leech.  She eventually learned to handle my popping up over her shoulder and stage-whispering "Say something wholesome!" with a fair amount of grace.

Leech can be found for sale on Amazon and Smashwords.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Tommy Nightmare by JL Bryan

Description: While Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny Pox, someone new is hunting Jenny.

Like Jenny, Ashleigh Gooding belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other.

Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love...

My Thoughts:  I've mentioned before how completely blown away I was by Jenny Pox, so I had high expectations heading in to Tommy Nightmare.  Happily, it measured up.  Tommy is genuinely terrifying in moments, moving in others, and juuuust complicated enough that I mourned every time he made an evil decision.  I'm not willing to count him out of the game just yet.

While Bryan has introduced a fun new villain in Tommy, that doesn't mean he's short-changing the girls.  Jenny is every bit as real and amazing as she was in the first book, and Bryan introduces a new girl in the form of an old love of Tommy's.  Furthermore--spoiler alert--we also see the return of Ashleigh Gooding, who is every bit as noxious and calculating in this book as she was when we first met her.  My favorite part of these books is how neatly Bryan writes the relationship between Ashleigh and Jenny--they never lose their petty, high-school nastiness for all that they're immortals fighting a war with incredible, potentially world-ending powers.  Jenny was punished in the first book for her refusal to attempt to understand her powers while Ashleigh was so busily strengthening hers, and she's still struggling with much the same problems in Tommy Nightmare.    Granted, her power is much more difficult to safely test than Ashleigh's, as people either die or are permanently disfigured by her touch rather than finding themselves love-stoned for a few hours.  Jenny's entire arc in this book is, once again, that of trying to stay one step ahead of her own abilities, this time with the added knowledge of just how destructive she can be.  This would be repetitive if not for the added drama of Jenny's secret being released into the world and the additional supervillains thrown into the fray.  Jenny has to grow up, whether she wants to or not, because she's going to be eaten alive if she doesn't.  And, by the end of the book, she seems to realize that she can't just stay in Fallen Oak and be a perpetual child forever, not when Ashleigh is once again on the move and is determined to destroy Jenny's life utterly before continuing with her plans for--I'm not kidding--world domination.  Unfortunately, she's now in the sway of someone even more dangerous than Ashleigh or Tommy, and she's not in a good emotional place.  Jenny Morton is poised to become Batman with mittens, and I love it.