Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Choose My Adventure

You know those choose your own adventure books?  There are days when my life feels like that.  My plans only go so far into the future and then I hit the page where I have to decide whether I'm going to walk over the gorge on a tightrope or go rafting down it.  But what do you do when both options are awesome and you don't have any parameters limiting which one you pick?  You ask random people on the internet, that's what you do.  (Or the not-so-random people who visit this blog.  Hello, not-so-random readers!)

So what should I do with my life?  Choose my adventure!  Tell me who I should be when I grow up!  Or just tell me what you think I should do this fall.  Do I:

A) Hole up somewhere (like Alaska! or Florida! or somewhere else!) in a hermitage and write my fingers to the bone.  (Pros: Productivity & Frugality. Look how responsible I am!  Cons: Potential of going stir crazy since I start to twitch if I don't stamp my passport at regular intervals.)

B) Take a cruise from Alaska to Beijing, meet up with my buddy in China and do some more Asian travel whilst (whilst! best word ever!) my buddy in China is still living in China.  (Pros: Asia! Whilst my friend is still in Asia. Cons: Somewhat less on the productivity and frugality.)

C) Fly to Europe and meet up with my parents for a transatlantic cruise.  (Pros: I haven't been on a cruise with my parents in ages! How fun would that be?  And Europe! Yay! And transatlantic cruises are hellagood deals. Cons: I have just been to Europe and the productivity would be less awesome.)

D) Go to South America and see Machu Pichu, Chile, various jungles and mountains and Amazonian basins.  (Pros: I've never been to South America! Wheeeee!  Cons: Not so much with the frugal and productive...)

E) Something else!  Do I wait for some heretofore unconsidered option of awesomeness to appear before me?

Which adventure should I choose, boys and girls? 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Get Your Romance On

I'm off to the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Anaheim this week. If you're going to be in the area and you love romance, the Readers for Life Literacy Signing is a FABULOUS way to grab some books and meet your favorite authors face to face.  Come to the Anaheim Marriott & Convention Center Wednesday from 5-8pm to score some books and chat up your authors of choice.

And if you're coming to the conference, look for me!  Here are some of the places where you can catch up with me (and some other Rubies) this week at Nationals.  Go forth and romance-ify the world, minions!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Run For Your Life!

You guys!  I totally want to do this!  It's a 5K.  With Zombies.  ZOMBIES.  http://runforyourlives.com/  The Missouri one is on my birthday.  Most awesome birthday ever, amirite? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Since I've been talking about superheroes, how about some superheroes of the dance variety? (Just ignore the snark about Iron Man and Spider-man.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Report from Comic Con: Day Four

The final day of Comic Con was a light one for me... mostly because after three solid days of All Comic Con All The Time, we're all ready to pass out where we stand... in line... waiting... forever... like the most colorful production of Godot ever performed...

I attended a few book panels in the morning, including a YA panel featuring my personal deity Scott Westerfeld (Uglies!  Leviathon!).  He, like Joss Wheadon, Orson Scott Card and Bryan Fuller, was everything I imagined a genius of his caliber to be.  He talked a bit about specificity in YA - how the characters are extraordinary in some unique way, and that shiny-snowflakeness appeals to us, at any age.  The idea that there will be a moment (a fairy godmother moment, as another panelist put it) when it is revealed that you really are more awesome than all those other people out there in the world.  When a Hagrid, or an Edward, or an Effie Trinket will pull your name out of a hat and you will be put on the path to the greatness you may never have suspected lurked inside your normalcy.  Then they went on to speak about the importance of setting - how many books are defined by the phrase "on a a world where" making the uniqueness and specificity of setting a defining element in YA.  In a genre that is broad and wild in its possibilities, it was a fabulous panel.

After that I grabbed some lunch to eat while waiting in line for the Buffy 20th Reunion (since the movie) Panel.  The actors playing Jeffrey from the original movie, Glory, Xander and Spike from the show and writer Jane Espensen and two Dark Horse Comic artists/writers filled out the panel.  They talked about the legacy of Buffy - which I think is powerful, no denying that, but when they laid the success of the "entire paranormal romance genre" at the feet of Buffy, I started to twitch.  Yes, I'm sure there is a symbiotic relationship between the popularity of the series and the growth of the genre, but it isn't so simple as to say Buffy spawned paranormal romance any more than you can say Running Man spawned Hunger Games.  (And speaking of Running Man, when is someone going to remake that movie without all the slapsticky one-liners?)  Yes, Buffy was awesome and kickass and I'm sure she did a lot for the genre of paranormal romance, but art is an evolution that is too complicated to be originated by any one show.  The fact that such a sweeping generalization was just accepted and run with by the panel made me a bit twitchy.  Luckily we moved on to favorite lines, favorite plot points, and then... after that panel ended... the traditional end-of-Con screening of Once More With Feeling, the Buffy Musical.  As a sing-a-long.  With heckling.  It was amazing.  Especially the shouting of "you aren't even a real person!" every time Dawn showed up to screw things up and get into trouble.  As a nerd who knows every word, I was in heaven.

It was a brilliant farewell to Comic Con.  I walked away with a big ole grin on my face.  Until next year...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Report from Comic Con: Day Three

With my shiny new sunburn on the side of my neck (why the side? why?) I elected not to wake up at the crack of dawn to wait in line all day in hopes of seeing sneak peeks at Iron Man 3 or Family Guy.  Instead, today was my day to throw myself into smaller panels (some of which still had over a thousand people in them, but whatever, it's Comic Con, crowds are a given).

It all began with an Urban Fantasy panel, which was interesting, but turned out to be pretty much a "this is what my book/series is about" chorus rather than any in depth discussion of the genre or where it is heading.  Then I hung out for a preview of the tiny little indie movie Save the Date... which looks sort of Woodie-Allen-esque but the Woodie Allen of thirty years ago.  It was interesting to hear about the distribution of the film in particular because it will be available from IFC video-on-demand before it releases in theatres.  I know, right?  Curious.

Then it was time for the stuff I'd been giddy all day for.  Three Panels.   Three Amazing Talents.  (One ring to rule them all, one ring to... oh wait, no, that was going on in Hall H at the same time and I hadn't camped out so there was no way I was getting in to see it.)  No, my BIG THREE OF DAY THREE were Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies!!!), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game!!!) and William Shatner (Khaaaaaaan!!!).  

It started with Bryan Fuller, talking about his two new reboots - a reworked darker, dramatic Munsters (which looks kinda AMAZING, y'all - Eddie Izzard as Grandpa? Dude.) called Mockingbird Lane (which is just a pilot now, but I seriously hope they make it to the series stage) and a new TV series prequel to Red Dragon called Hannibal - starting when no one knew that Hannibal the Cannibal was a serial killer.  (No clips of that one, but with Bryan Fuller's dark sense of humor, I'm psyched to see where it goes.  And I now have a shiny new "Eat the Rude" T-shirt that cracks me up.)  One audience member did ask how poor Mr. Fuller stays optimistic (he was a seriously chipper guy) considering how many of his shows get killed off (har) mid-season (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) when he plans them out for years (he mentioned having plans for the first seven seasons of Hannibal).  He said he'll always find ways work the ideas he loves into the next show and joked about not seeing death as a final thing (his "bag of trick"). 

Then it was off to the Wrinkle In Time panel, which a host of AMAZING speculative and sci-fi authors including the incomparable Orson Scott Card and David Brin - the two of whom GOT INTO IT.  It was kinda awesome watching them grow testier and testier as they verbally bitch-slapped each other as the panel went on.  It started out civil.  When talking about speculative fiction and predicting the future it became quickly evident that Orson Scott Card was on the "human nature doesn't change" side of the spectrum while Brin was on the "we're entering an age of enlightenment" side.  Card cited the Arab Spring (in what I felt were somewhat oversimplified terms) and referring to it as an unpredictable event followed by the very predictable patterns of human nature.  Brin countered by calling that cynicism and holding up the Turkish revolution for comparison (which, having recently visited Egypt & Turkey, I would like to state is so far from being comparable as to be laughable).  Card replied (correctly, I would say) that there was no comparison between the two and to claim there was only revealed ignorance of the situation... and then things really got going.  It was Brin citing racial and sexual equality as the great advancements of our age (which aren't new concepts to humanity, just recent in our cultural corner of it) while Card was talking about the fascination of watching Empires fall (though it is probably less fun to be watching from the inside as they outlive their grandeur).  The moderator intervened at one point... and then, after some questions from the audience, one guy got up to the mic and said he'd missed the beginning so he was sorry if this had already been discussed, but did the authors think we were entering a dark age or an enlightenment?  The reaction from the room was priceless.  Deborah Harkness answered it best, I think.  Even the Dark Ages weren't the Dark Ages.  "Be careful of big, baggy historical epoch markers."

There were other moments I loved, beyond the Card/Brin throwdown.  (Team OSC!)  When asked to predict the future (as an author of speculative fiction) Peter Hamilton said, "Sci-fi isn't a template. I'm setting out ideas."  It's up to the reader to be inspired to make them come true.

Earlier Brin also referenced an LA Times article about the rising popularity of TV over movies and how the TV writers were treated like rockstars at Comic Con because the fans recognized where the ideas were coming from.  Which was something I noticed also - the TV shows were the ones people were most excited about, I think in part because they weren't all reboots and sequels as most of the movies coming out these days seem to be.  And in part because watching a TV show becomes a longer term relationship and you already know you love it, you're looking forward to the next installment of awesomeness rather than wondering whether you will like the unknown quantity of the movie that isn't coming out until next year or the year after.  It was interesting to see.  But the idea kind of got eclipsed by the OSC/Brin ruckus. 

After that I rushed over to try to get into the Shatner panel.  I didn't think I had a prayer, but luck was with me and I made it in.  William Shatner, cult favorite director/producer Roger Corman, moderated by Kevin Smith.  It was casual and conversational and deeply awesome listening to these industry greats talking about their beginnings as they discussed their new films - for Shatner a documentary called Get a Life about Star Trek fans and what he learned when he set out to study them and for Corman a 3D campy fabulous pic entitled The Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader.  And, as I'm sure happens every time he speaks, a fan asked Mr. Shatner to shout "Khan!" and this time he suggested we all do it instead.  So, en masse, the entire audience bellowed, "Khaaaaaaan!"  And it was just as badass as you might imagine. 

Then I dropped in on a panel on World Building in Graphic Novels which was seriously fascinating.  World building for artists is something so different than it is for those of us who spin worlds out of words.  They would research architecture and make models - either by hand or with 3D computer mapping.  They talked about visual vs. dialogue exposition and hearsay vs. fact as the world is revealed to the reader.  Then they talked a bit about the struggle for continuity when you've grown as an artist and want to make them better but are inhibited by what you made them in the first book of the series.  It was so interesting to me to see artists who attack their stories so differently than I do, but who are still related to novelists in that we are all in the same storytelling family.  Loved it.

Next up was the Harper Voyager and Harper Teen sneak peeks (where I scored an advanced copy of Jocelyn Drake's Angel's Ink - about a tattoo artists who can imbue his tattoos with magical powers, how cool is that?).  And then finally it was time for the Comic Con Masquerade - which was campy and ridiculous and, yeah, kinda awesome.  You get a feel for the tone of the evening when the audience is allowed to announce the numbers of the contestants and they bellow en masse "One, ah ah ah" like the Count.  Yeah, baby, we know our Sesame Street.  And it just goes downhill (or up, depending on your perspective) from there.  With dancing and goodies in the Sails Pavillion, it's Comic Con's wild rumpus until the small hours.  And it isn't quite over yet...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Report from Comic Con: Day Two

First off, an apology for not getting these up sooner.  Turns out an eight to midnight conference schedule doesn't leave a whole lot of time for blogging.  Who knew?  Mea culpa and on to the report for Days Two!

Day Two started out with a line.  Of course.  I lined up at 9am, which I stupidly thought would be early enough for the 2:45pm panel on Game of Thrones. No such luck.  (Even the folks in front of me in full on Khal Drogo & Daenerys outfits were denied.)  Having already waited it out for six hours, I stuck with it until I made it into Hall H after GoT for the rest of the evening's panels and then hied myself on over to the playback (which they had to move to a bigger ballroom because there were so many people who'd missed out on seeing their preferred panels like me).  So, in the end, I got to see what I wanted (just not all of it in person), but what bothered me the most was that even as there were hundreds and even thousands of people waiting outside in line, there were empty seats in Hall H.  Never once while I was in there (finally!) was anyone asked to scoot down to make room for the people waiting outside.  In the smaller panels, it is common practice to fill every single seat and have standing room in the back until the fire marshal cuts them off.  But Hall H never felt full when I was in there - I saw dozens and dozens of empties just near me - which, when you consider how long people had to wait to get in there, kinda pissed me off and soured me on the idea of waiting in line to get in there again. 

But enough bitching.  Let's talk movies!

The first panel for me that day was Resident Evil: Retribution in 3D.  Director Paul Anderson, his wife/leading lady Mila Jovovich, and a deeply kickass supporting cast - two of whom are my FAVORITE actors who were killed off in previous films in the franchise!  Back from the dead and still kicking ass, it's Michelle Rodriguez (love love love love) and Oded Fehr!  Can I get a woohoo for resurrecting a dude who blew himself up and a chick who got shot in the head?  Bonus!  The footage they showed looked pretty sweet - very classic Resident Evil badassery -and then there was talk of the series drawing to a close after the next film (or at least Alice's part of it).  And I learned that Michelle Rodriguez will come back from the dead in the Fast & Furious franchise also (squee!) and that if you are a creepy stalker in her backyard, you should be warned that she will call the cops while holding a sword and the gun Samuel L. Jackson gave her, so... you know... perhaps not the best idea to bug her.

Continuing the trend of directors married to their ass-kicking leading ladies, next up was the new Total Recall, helmed by Kate Beckinsale's significant other, Len Wiseman. It looks well worth seeing - without any of the annoyingly cute Ahnold one liners and without the trip to Mars (but with the chick with three breasts as a nod to the original).  Much more actiony and who-am-I mystery-ish with some nice grit to the design.  And Kate Beckinsale kicking Colin Farrel's teeth in?  I'll watch that. 

But then... oh then... it was time for the ORIGINAL coolness.  Looper.  Time travel.  Joseph Gordon Levitt (in a part that was actually written for him) wearing a light facial mask to play a young Bruce Willis in an assassin vs. the older version of himself badass time-travel ride.  I gotta say, I really wanna see that one.  It's a major picture but with a more indie sensibility - focused on the ideas and characters rather than the special effects tricks - with an insanely awesome cast.

And the fun was just beginning folks.  Up next was footage from Elysium, the second film by Neil Blomquist who was the mind behind District 9.  I'd never heard anything about this one - just that it had Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in it (along with the star of District 9 & A Team, Sharlto Copley).  I wasn't sure what to expect, but when they showed us the footage, I actually got chills.  By the time it was over I just said Damn as several people near me muttered "Whoa" and "Wow" aloud.  The premise of the story is that the uber-rich have built a paradise in space called Elysium where they have the cures to all diseases and everything is perfect and utopian - but they've abandoned the rest of humanity to live in squalor on the heavily polluted planet Earth.  Matt Damon is our earthbound hero with a questionable past, who finds himself with only a few days to live unless he can hijack his way up to Elysium and get the cure.  A man with his life on the line, nothing to lose... you can imagine how it escalates in a hurry.  And from the sounds of things, the filming was flat out intense - on location in the second largest dump in the world at one point, with helicopters spraying a mist of you do not want to know what that is all over the place.  Crazy.  But it looks incredible.  It's out next March.  Go, you guys.  You will want to see this one.

After that, I made my way out to the Penguin Books panel where they flashed new covers for dozens of upcoming urban fantasy, sci-fi, and young adult books.  I really want to check out Matched by Ally Condie.  I'm intrigued by the idea of rebelling against a genetically perfect match.  Have any of you read that series yet?  Then I won an ARC of a new sci-fi book by Jean Johnson!  (And then felt guilty for winning, even though they were giving away tons of books... I don't know why I have this weird guilt when people give me stuff.  I need a couch and a few hours with Freud to figure it out.)

By then it was night, but Comic Con was still going strong, with playback of the earlier panels that we, the huddled masses, hadn't been able to get into.  Firefly, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead (though I admitted defeat at midnight and missed the Zombie-ness). 

The Firefly 10-year reunion panel was flat out amazing.  Nathan Fillion and Joss Wheadon were in rare form (and both teared up in very manly ways as they talked about what the short-lived series had meant to them).  Adam Baldwin gave away a replica of the hat he'd worn as Jayne, but to me the best part was learning that Baldwin had gone down to say hello to the fans camped out on the sidewalk for the Firefly panel around midnight and Joss Wheadon himself had woken them up at three a.m.  How kickass is that?  If I am ever lucky enough to write something that develops such a devoted fanbase that they will actually camp out (and I'm in the same city and I know about it) I am here and now vowing that I will visit the campers.  And bring donuts.  Because how amazing are they, to love something so much, and what better way to honor them than to show up for them when they are showing up for you?  I love that.  Love love love.

The Game of Thrones panel was, by comparison, somewhat less than awesome.  They introduced new cast members, which was cool, but my main takeaway was that George R. R. Martin, for all his brilliance as a writer, should probably avoid moderating panels as his talents apparently lie elsewhere.  The tone was... I dunno, awkward.  He asked the actors portraying Theon Greyjoy and Rob Stark about their sex scenes and questioned the actress playing Daenerys why the traditional dresses of Qarth were not the breast-baring ones in the books (though if I'm being accurate the word "boobies" may actually have come out of his mouth).  I know he's a genius, but a moderator needs to put the panelists at ease and make them feel comfortable talking and there was just no comfort there.  Overall, it was peculiar - but I loved hearing the actor playing Rob Stark (who was wearing a wolf T-shirt under his suit jacket) say he'd pick a wolf as his sigil in real life, and Emilia Clark got a big cheer when she said she would definitely keep her dragons as a sigil.

And last, but certainly not least, was the Big Bang Theory.  The panel was hosted by Adam from Mythbusters (amazing) and featured two of the writer/producers as well as Mayim Byalik (Amy), Jim Parsons by Skype from New York (Sheldon), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh), Simon Helberg (Howard) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette - who does an amazing impression of Howard's mother).  The writers waved their uber-geek flags with pride when the Higgs Boson particle came up as the actors willingly admitted to not understanding a word of the science stuff coming out of their mouths on the show.  The panel was charming, funny, and overall a delight... and then the conversation turned to space.  In what was (I think?) a prearranged schtick, Simon Helberg was asked if he would want to go into space like his character had and when he said "who wouldn't?" they brought out an astronaut from XCOR Aerospace and offered him a trip into space.  Helberg then said he hadn't known they were serious and he had a "thing" about altitude and it was quickly changed to giving one of the audience members the space flight.  The fans who had asked questions (who were over eighteen - a stunning number of the questions were asked by little kids, prompting Kunal to repeatedly wondering what was going on here and where everyone's parents were) were all brought up on stage and given shiny envelopes.  When they tore them open simultaneously, one contained a golden ticket for a flight into space.  How badly do I wish I were that chick right now?  (Though I know I wouldn't have been even had I managed to get in, since I never have the gumption to ask questions.)  Lots of panels gave away swag, but how do you top a trip into space?  SPACE, you guys!  I don't care if it's only lower orbit or upper atmosphere or whatever.  It's SPACE.  I have to think that within my lifetime it will be a popular tourist jaunt.  And I'll be there.  I'll definitely be there.

What about you?  If someone offered you a chance to see the earth from space, would you take it?  Would you strap yourself to a rocket? When do you think it will be as common as taking a cruise?  Oooh, is that the next step?  Carnival Space Cruises?  Does make one a bit more nervous about events like the Costa Concordia, doesn't it?  But it makes me think of the Fifth Element.  Would you got to paradise in orbit?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Report from Comic Con: Day One

First Impression of Comic Con?  Fun!

Second Impression of Comic Con?  Massive sensory overload.

Third Impression of Comic Con?  Oh-my-freaking-gods, the crowds.  There are people everywhere.  And the lines. 

My first day at Comic Con was awesome and a huge learning experience.  I learned that you've gotta have strategy to navigate this behemoth Con successfully - the lines for Hall H and Ballroom 20 could easily suck up hours of your day and that was on Thursday!  The least crowded day of the Con!

I got my badge (quick and easy, it was running smooth when I was there) and immediately went to the Exhibition Hall to gawk. 
I meant to go to a Stan Lee panel (with Mark Hamil, y'all!), but ended up in 6A rather than 6BCF and what should I find instead?  A panel on the upcoming Dreamworks/Cartoon Network weekly cartoon series Dragons: Riders of Berk which follows Hiccup, Toothless and their cohorts as the dragons and their riders learn how to live in harmony.  The first two seasons of this show will apparently flow smoothly into the second How to Train Your Dragon movie.  Cool beans, huh?  They got a lot of the same actors to do voices as well as adding some new talent (America Ferrera as Astrid, Mark Hamil as a villain, and Tim Conway (!!!!) as comic relief).

After that, I grabbed some lunch and got in line for the Tim Burton/Sam Raimi/John C. Reilly panel (or as everyone called it "the Disney panel" since they were doing Frankenweenie, Wreck It Ralph & Oz.  I was lucky to be next to some fantastically awesome people in line, so fun was had by all, but we didn't get into the panel... after over an hour of waiting.  (Ugh.)  I did however learn, while chatting with some guys from Warner Brothers who shall remain nameless that they canNOT (wink wink) confirm that they are positioning themselves with the new Superman for a new Justice League franchise.  HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE???  I just need a second to geek out.  (Except for the fact that they would all be from the UK.  Seriously, what is with all the superheroes turning British?  Batman, Superman, Spiderman... at least they can all fake American.)

Because I'm an academic nerd, next I went to a panel on The Future of Superhero Studies in academia.  It was interesting and I have some thoughts of validity of pop culture, the cultural studies approach, and the adaptation and iterations of comic franchises... but that's too much for this lil update.  A blog for another day.

After that it was back in line, this time for Dexter and this time I did get in!  We got an EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK at the first two minutes of next season and OMG I can't wait for September!  Then two of the executive producers and three cast members (Michael C Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, and... drumroll please, this season's guest star, Yvonne Strahovsky from Chuck fame! who sounds so different with her natural accent...) chatted about the show and answered questions. 

I hurried from there off to another panel about composing music for video games - particularly video games based on film franchises with distinctive film scores (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Dark Knight, etc.).  It was seriously cool listening to these five composers talk about their work - even though they weren't allowed to say much about upcoming projects.

By then it was getting late and even though there was a Dr. Horrible Sing-A-Long coming up, I was running on empty and admitted defeat.  Hopefully tonight I'll have more stamina.

Today involved the dreaded choice between waiting in the ungodly line for The Big Bang Theory or waiting in the ungodly line for Firefly.  Normally, I'd go with Firefly (because my epic love of it knows no bounds), but if I don't go to Big Bang Theory, I might not get into Game of Thrones (because they don't clear the room between panels).  It's all about the strategy.  Wish me luck and much geeking out! Until the next update... don't cross the streams!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Super Sequel!

Guess what, boys and girls? I'm going to COMIC CON this week!!! I anticipate many squealing fangirl moments when my inner nerd comes out to play. And what better time than as I am packing for Nerd Mecca to release the second sexy superhero novella? That's right, y'all. It's here! Superbad, the follow up to Superlovin', is now available at an ebook retailer near you! Observe:

When your mind is a prison, love can set you free.

Ever since her supervillain father experimented on her as a child, Mirabelle “Mirage” Wroth has been able to project unbreakable illusions into the minds of those around her. But when a run-in with an evil Mind Bender snaps a delicate thread in her psyche, she loses control of her gift and can no longer tell where reality ends and illusion begins. Only sanctimonious superhero Captain Justice is immune to her gift and can help her find the truth again—if Mirage can trust another man to define her reality.

Justice is sick of saving damsels in distress–he just wants someone to look beyond the cape to see him—but he can’t turn away from the hauntingly vulnerable Mirage. Suddenly Justice is helping her hide from the police, willing to be downright villainous to be her hero. But as they work to save Mirage from herself, other forces are circling to threaten them both. Tangled in illusions and mind games, can love be real? 

Buy from Amazon :: Nook :: Smashwords

So far the early buzz I'm getting on this one has confirmed my "I have a good feeling about this book" feeling.  I can't wait to see if the wide world loves it as much as I think they will.  Go forth and read, my minions! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Close Encounters of the Alaskan Kind

I often post pics of my travels, but there today I'm sharing some of the deeply kickass things right in my own back yard.  Some weekends just seem to serve to remind me how awesome Alaska is and this was definitely one of them.  It started yesterday as we were headed up to the Denali National Park for a family getaway.  We hadn't even made it out of our neighborhood before we saw this fella:

Now there have been a ton of eagles this year and the usual crop of moose, but even though people had said this was a big year for bear (and we'd seen plenty of evidence of them), this was the first I'd seen this summer.  Right outside the car window.  Maybe ten feet away.  A nice beginning to the trip.

We headed up to the park, finding the only gorgeous weather in the state, and this morning we took a hike up Savage River inside the park.

We passed a family of dahl sheep up on a hill and kept walking, taking a jog off the main trail over some rocks until that off-shoot pretty much dead ended into the river.  And just as we were turning back toward the main path, we saw them.  That same family of dahl sheep.  Blocking our way.  And coming closer.  And closer.

(No zoom, boys and girls, they really were that close.  Maybe twenty feet away.  If that.)

Now, the sheep aren't aggressive, but they can do some damage if they thwack into you with those horns, so we gave them the right of way, backing up as much as we could until they decided to veer down to the river, where we got an up-close-and-personal view of them crossing (a rarity, according to a nature photographer we chatted with after the sheep had disappeared over the next hill).

(What you don't see in this picture is that the one behind just thwacked the jumper on the butt with his horns because he was taking too long.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I'm a lucky brat.  Today was a good day. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fix-It Fridays: Lockout

So I went with my folks to see Lockout at the Bear Tooth (best movie theater/pub ever) earlier this week and when we came out of the movie, my mom told me she'd never before been in the middle of watching a movie and thought "Wow, I can't wait to read Vivi's Fix-It-Friday post on this."  Yes, boys and girls, it was that glaringly ridiculous.

Let's start with the good.  The premise?  Badass.  A prison riot in space with the first daughter as a hostage!  Sign me up, baby.  The dialogue?  Funny as hell - and in a good way!  Not in the groaningly bad way that most action movies go for.  (Well, not too groan-worthy.)  Guy Pierce?  Surprisingly awesome as an action hero.  (Who knew?)  But all that awesomeness barely salvaged the movie.  The devil, as is so often the case, was in the details - and in this case the missing details were everything futuristic and/or scientific about the film.

Movies that take place sixty-seven years in the future need complete world-building.  Some things will have jumped forward technologically, while others will still be done the same way we've always done them.  Some movies excel at the futuristic set-decoration, leaving no detail unconsidered.  Minority Report, comes to mind.  Demolition Man.  This one did not.


We open in a fancy New York hotel suite.  With this kind of lock on the door (--> -->).  Our hero displays his action chops... using guns that have not evolved or developed at all in the last sixty-seven years (I want lasers! phasers on stun!).  He is wearing clothing that would be current today (cuz fashion never changes).  He grabs the All Important Briefcase (which, of course, is latched closed by the little manual dial lock that is so 2079... if by 2079, you mean 1959).  He runs across NYC rooftops (which, if anything, looked a little retro), borrows Batman's motorcycle, and rides it at a bajillion miles an hour... steering one-handed so he can talk on his circa-2013 model iPhone.  There was just NO CONTINUITY OF TIME. 

But alas, that was to be a drop in the bucket of this movie's implausibilities.   I think they were just building up our resistance to the idiocy so by the time the deep space prison was plummeting out of orbit toward the Eastern Seaboard and our Hero and Heroine leap out of it to plunge through the upper atmosphere and parachute down to land safely on a freeway the collective groan in the audience at the sheer ridiculousness isn't quite as loud as would have been an hour and a half earlier.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Some things would have been easy to fix.  Instead of having the President's Daughter mouth off that global corporations hadn't invested millions in this prison space station without expecting to get some deep space research data in return (prompting me to fervently hope there had been a massive currency revaluation), just have her say billions or trillions.  Change one consonant, do another take, problem solved.

Others would have been fun to fix.  When our hero is fist-fighting in a zero-grav chamber, show what actually happens when you punch someone in zero grav (i.e. you both go flying in opposite directions and ricochet off every available surface... rather than flying together to slam into the wall which they then don't bounce off of, for some reason).  Have your fight choreographer read Ender's Game and then really have fun with that scene!  (After you change the dialogue so the force holding them floating in the air is not "gravity".  Or am I completely wrong that gravity is an attractive force?  It's been a while since I've read my Newton, but somehow I don't think the force that makes you float in mid-air on a Space Station that appears to have normal gravity everywhere else can be called "gravity".  Just sayin'.)

But the real issue was the ticking clock: the space prison plummeting toward earth in the Fastest Orbital Decay Ever Imagined.  I realize, screenwriters, that you needed a catastrophic timebomb to amp up the stakes and give Our Hero a reason why he had to get the First Daughter off the station STAT, but couldn't you think of anything better than a prison in space that requires constant 24/7 maintenance attention to keep it from crashing down on New York?  Even if that were even remotely scientifically plausible, don't you think it's the first issue that investors would have asked them to fix before building the damn thing?  Lest it someday fall from the sky and crush them while they are enjoying La Boheme in their private box at the Met?

You need a reason why the President would be compelled to shoot the prison station to smithereens to save the lives of millions even though his daughter is onboard, right?  Easy - you arm the prison.  Give them nukes (or some even scarier futuristic equivalent).  Say the weapons were put on the station (where all the prisoners were supposed to be unconscious all the time in their cryo-whatsis anyway) to either be a first line of defense if aliens ever come for us or, more plausibly, say that the US put them on the station so they would be able to destroy their enemies from space if the need ever arose.  Only, of course, that backfired because now the convicts are in charge and they are pointing the Big Scary Guns at DC and making demands.  Maybe they even fire one off, take out MIR in a fiery blaze, to prove they mean business.  But none of this the-station-is-plunging from orbit crap.  Let's have a little respect for the laws of physics, all right, people?

The other bonus of having the space station stay in space where it belongs?  We skip the jumping out of the space ship and re-entering the earth's atmosphere without burning up or freezing or having your body battered by the sheer force of traveling at those speeds scene.  Oh! And I almost forgot the part where the hero and heroine are separated by the explosion, but he somehow manages to get back to her side to pull her chute for her even though he has no method of propulsion.  So that whole sequence... maybe just a nice explosion instead?  One that sends them hurtling out into space in their little suits and who knows if the good guys will find them among the debris before their oxygen runs out... and there they are, floating together, her injured, him badass, maybe he's building her a space-raft out of debris with his bare hands and using solar winds to sail them back to the nearest authorities because he is just that cool.  Because frankly, that would be more believable.

But you have to respect a film that, in spite of all the seriously ridiculous flaws, still manages to be a deeply enjoyable, entertaining as hell movie.  Sure, they did a lot wrong, but hey, they did something right.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ninety Percent Awesome, Ten Percent Suck

Writers write, right?  Absolutely.  But the thing is, there's all this behind the scenes non-writing stuff that's part of the job too. In the last month, I've gone through edits for three manuscripts and reviewed galleys for a fourth.  I've run the promo gauntlet for releases and the hamster-wheel of emails that seems to be a constant aspect of the job.  And through it all, I kept thinking about a conversation I had back on one of the cruises I was on in the spring.

I was chatting with one of the performers when I mentioned I'd worked on edits that day and made a face.  He said something along the lines of "But it doesn't feel like work, does it?  You love every second of it, don't you?" and, in perfect honesty, I had to say no.  He was shocked by my lack of blind enthusiasm when it came to my work.  He said that his job never feels like work and he loved it from start to finish.  (Lucky him, right?  Though, for the record, I've heard this same guy bitch about aspects of his job, so there.)  For a moment, I almost felt guilty or wrong that I wasn't one hundred percent euphoric about my job at all times.  I mean, I am insanely lucky to have the life I have and I freaking love what I do... just not every second of every day.  (Especially during edits, which seem to bring out my neurotic insecure side.) 

The more I've thought about this, the more I've concluded that the difference of opinion could have two potential causes (or seventeen million I haven't thought of, but I like these two, so I'm stickin' with 'em.).  ONE - Attitude.  TWO - Crucial differences in our professions.

For Thing One, maybe he's just a more positive person than I am.  Maybe his cup is always half full... though mine is almost always half full too and dude, when did optimism become a competition?  Perhaps it has to do with those affirmation thingies people always seem to want everyone else to do when you project positivity into the universe.  Like if I say "I love edits!" often enough, I will start to believe it.  Though, honestly, it's not the edits I mind.  I actually love my editors and am delighted when they help me craft my books into stronger works - what I don't love is the self-doubt that always seems to crash down on me like an Acme weight during the editorial process.  Which is what got me thinking about Thing Two.  The differences.

You see, reader friend, he's a performer-type and I'm a creator-type.  I'm not saying either one is better or harder than the other, but they sure are different.  He takes popular songs and performs them (brilliantly), and the audience applauds.  I take a blank page, crack open my head and heart to turn it into a story, wrestle with it to twist it into the best version of itself (which always seems to be a moving target), then throw that story out into the world, and no one ever applauds - though on occasion I'll get a nice note from a reader which will make my month or a review like the one earlier this week that makes my life, but on the whole, I'm writing in a vacuum.  So if I'm a bit more nervous about the uncertainties of my job (will this book be good?  will readers choose to read it in their valuable reading time?  will they like it?  will they recommend it to their friends? will those friends like it or will it be the catalyst that destroys their once BFF relationship?) than the performer who beautifully interprets the already beloved songs someone else has created, is that insecurity not warranted?

I don't know a single writer who loves absolutely every second of this career.  (The waiting alone is enough to drive most of us a little batty.)  But that doesn't mean we aren't grateful and freaking over-the-moon to have it.  And if you aren't struggling at least part of the time, are you really challenging yourself?  If life is one hundred percent awesome all the time, are you the luckiest person in the world or are you playing it safe?  The sucky part comes with pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone - but that is also where the gold is, where the most awesome part of the awesome comes in - when you break through the wall of suck into the promised land beyond.  Maybe the suckiness is what makes excellence happen.

Or that's what I'll tell myself, so I don't have to feel guilty about my bad attitude next time I make a face about working on edits.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day to my US readers, happy belated Independence Day to my Canadian readers, and just a general Have a Nice Day to my international readers.  Go set of some controlled explosives for the sake of patriotism!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Make My Life

Holy wow, y'all, this review just made my life.  Romance Junkies gave Superlovin' 4.5 Stars (which is excellent timing because the sequel Superbad hits digital shelves NEXT WEEK!!!!).  And guess what?  It's a rave!  I kinda wanna bear this reviewer's children.  I love the way he talks about the book.  Yes, it's entirely possible this review is better than the book itself, but just the fact that one person liked it enough to say the things they said makes me want to dance around the living room.  So please excuse me while I dance around the living room... 

"SUPERLOVIN' is an example of cross-genre romance at its best. For readers interested in a thrilling love story that explores how two people can fulfill each other in spite of all obstacles, I heartily recommend SUPERLOVIN'."

I'm taking that as a proposal.  Why yes, Mr. Reviewer, I will marry you. We can register at Barnes & Noble and honeymoon in a library.  You complete me. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

For Aspiring Romance Authors:

Ever wish you could bypass the slush pile and get your work straight to an editor's desk?

The Golden Network is pleased to offer you just that chance. We're lucky to have secured some of the industry's most sought-after editors to judge a category in the final round of the Golden Pen contest:

Historical – Katherine Pelz, Berkley Publishing Group
Inspirational – Melissa Endlich, Steeple Hill
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements – Valerie Gray, MIRA Books and SPICE Books
Paranormal – Leis Pederson, Berkley Publishing Group
Romantic Suspense – Elizabeth Poteet, St. Martin's Press
Series Romance – Susan Litman, Harlequin Enterprises
Single Title – Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks Inc.
Young Adult – Regina Griffin, Egmont USA

By entering the Golden Pen, not only do you get the chance to make it to the final round (and earn a read from one of these top editors), but you also get constructive feedback from at least one Golden Heart finalist as part of the first-round competition.

The Golden Pen contest is open until August 15, but if you enter by July 15, you'll get $5 off of your entry fee. If you register to judge the first round of the contest, you qualify for an additional $5 discount. So don't delay--get your entry ready today!

Read the Rules and Guidelines: http://thegoldennetwork.com/tgp-rules/
Register to judge: http://thegoldennetwork.com/judge-sign-up/
Enter your manuscript: http://thegoldennetwork.com/tgp-enter/

Please contact the coordinator directly at goldenpencontest@gmail.com if you have any questions.

If you're angling toward becoming a published romance author, contests can be a great way to get impartial feedback AND potentially get you in front of some big time editors.  One recent finalist sold to the editor who first saw her book in the Golden Pen.  So polish up those manuscripts...