Friday, June 28, 2013

Fix It Friday: Man Of Steel

**WARNING: These posts can get quite spoilery. So if you're trying to avoid info about Man of Steel, STEER CLEAR.  Otherwise, onward, boys and girls!**

I went to see Man of Steel last week with high hopes.  Perhaps too high.  The movie was pretty, the actors were good, and I loved a lot of the elements of the film, but it just didn't really come together for me in a compelling way.  My initial thought was that this was because the primary character arc of the film seemed to belong to the villain.  It was his inciting incident we opened with, his motivation we knew.  For Our Hero we go from infant-hurtling-through-space straight to Wolverine-wandering-through-the-wilderness-for-no-reason-and-randomly-tripping-across-the-military-installation-that-will-reveal-the-truth-of-his-origins-without-setting-up-that-he-desperately-wants-to-know-his-origins-at-all.  So... you know, that happened.

A lot of people I've talked to are bugged by the demolition of the final fight sequences (my favorite being a tweet I saw saying in Man of Steel 2 he should bump into someone who has PTSD from the fight in the first movie and freaks out at the sight of his cape).  I wouldn't have minded so much with the rampant destruction if he'd already been established as Metropolis's hero... or if he'd made some effort to move the carnage away from civilization... but as it was, the film makers seemed to expect us to believe that just because we didn't see any people hurt in that sequence that all those buildings could have been toppled without a single casualty.  Because the Daily Planet chick survived.  And Superman wouldn't let Zod go all burny-eyes on four folks in a train station. 

You know the Incredibles?  How the movie opens with the supers being sued for property damages?  I wanted a little of that (PIXAR cartoon) reality to be applied to Man of Steel.

Really, I just wanted a more developed emotional arc for Clark.  (Oh, how I missed geeky wonderful Clark Kent.  I appreciate the ruggedly bearded mystery dude's hunkyness, but I really missed Clark.) 

His bio-dad set it up perfectly with the line "he will be a god to them."  I would have loved for that to be Clark's struggle - alienation, a sense that perhaps he is a god among the humans (and how can a god ever really fit in?), showing more earlier of his fierce desire to know his origins and find his own people, having him go to the Daily Planet as nerdy Clark (before the Fortress of Solitude bit) to essentially spy on Lois because she did an article he read so he thinks she might have clues to the truth about his origins, him following her to the ice where he will discover more and perhaps even intentionally call out for more of his people, but Zod arriving is not what he thinks it will be and when Zod threatens humanity it is the pivotal moment for Clark when he realizes that he has alienated himself and that humanity has embraced him far more than his own people did - that he has family in his parents, but also family in the Daily Planet people, that he loves Lois and that being Superman is not about power, about isolation, but about protecting the planet that has always been his home.  It's about love, y'all.

That's what I wanted.  Maybe it was there in the subtext and I just missed it.

On the plus side, there's bound to be more nerdy Clark Kent action in the sequel.  What do you think, boys and girls?  Did you see the movie?  Did it rock your world?  Or did it just make you want to go back and watch the original again?

Random tangent:  Anyone notice how the blockbusters this year are more about the villains than the heroes?  Khan, anyone?  Is this a trend?

Friday, June 21, 2013


My parents and I have a tradition. Whenever we're in the same city - which between their travel and my travel only comes to about ten weeks a year - we go to pub trivia together on Wednesday nights.  Some weeks we decimate the competition with our unique cross-section of knowledge and other weeks we go home laughing at our own ignorance.  Either way, it's something I look forward to every Wednesday.

But this week our usual trivia night was cancelled as they are training a new host and we decided to take a chance on a new place.  The quiz was delayed due to the NBA Finals, but after the Heat won, trivia fired up, just as fun as ever.  We floundered a bit in the first round, but then found our stride and were cruising along...


On the next to the last round, I noticed something off.  Across the bar, in a corner booth where the trivia hostess couldn't see them, another team was using their cell phone underneath their table to cheat and look up answers.  We watched them do this for three consecutive questions, before I mentioned to the hostess that I thought another team might be using a cell phone.  She immediately took off to investigate - and caught them in the act. 

I have an intense stress reaction to cheaters - my heart pounds and adrenaline floods my system so much that I actually start to shake. I didn't like being the one to "rat them out" (WHY is that seen as a negative in our culture?  Why are we tacitly encouraged to keep silent when we see someone doing something wrong?), but if they had placed and won a gift card or the cash prize that should have gone to someone else, that would have been grossly unfair.

They knew it was our team who must have spotted them - we were the only ones in the bar in a position to see what they were doing.  So of course, they did the classy thing.  They accused us of cheating as well. 

We have never cheated.  We would never cheat.  The idea is repugnant to us.  When the hostess informed us of their accusation, we offered to let her check our cell phones, review our search histories, but she determined that wasn't necessary.  Frankly, we turn in our answers so quickly we wouldn't have had time to look up the answers online.

The disqualified team didn't leave.  They stayed through the end of the game, glaring and pointing at us.  We won - and they gave us a mocking round of applause.  It should have been a good moment for us.  The entire night should have been a good experience.  The hostess was great.  Our waitress was great.  The food was great - and it was free because of our winnings.  We were "on" - confident of every answer from June Cleaver to Bain Capital.  It should have been fantastic.

But as it stands, we aren't sure whether we'll go back again next week if our usual place is still out of commission.  Between the cheating and being taunted by the disqualified jerks afterwards, it cast a pall on the experience.

My father said something interesting as we were leaving.  "I bet lots of people would cheat for a million bucks, but what kind of person cheats for a hundred?"  To me it wasn't a question of scale, but it made me think about the show Survivor - lying, cheating, doing whatever necessary for a million bucks - but you're awarded that money by your peers, so there is a check-and-balance system in that.
Plagiarism in schools... piracy of books... cheating has many forms.  And they all feel wrong to me. 

What do you think?  Is cheating at trivia a trivial concern?  Or is honor honor regardless of the circumstance?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Underbelly Squee!

Yes, boys and girls, it's true!  My good friend Ms. Tamara Hogan has a shiny new Underbelly novella now available for Kindle.  And it's Bailey and Rafe!  Readers of the series will know exactly why I am so flippin' excited for this one, but even folks who have never read a word of this paranormal series can jump right in at this book without missing a step.

Check it out:

Mere hours after human technology whiz Bailey Brown learns the truth about her Sebastiani Security co-workers—not only are they all vampires, incubi, succubi, sirens, faeries, Valkyrie, and werewolves, but their ancestors were aliens!—she’s thrown into an undercover operation protecting a siren singer at Underbelly, one of Minneapolis’s premier nightclubs. With pheromones saturating the air like sweet chloroform, starving for touch, and her inhibitions fading fast, Bailey has to avoid Rafe Sebastiani, her boss’s gorgeous sex demon of a brother, at all costs…

Because only his touch will do.       

And check out this EXCERPT:

“There he is.” Sasha slowed to a stop. “Hey, Ugly.”  
She rolled her eyes. Even his sister had to realize that Rafe Sebastiani was a gorgeous specimen of manhood. She’d lost count of how many orgasms she'd had with his face in her mind, his imaginary hands on her body, his phantom tongue—
 “Hello.” Rafe bent down to kiss Sasha’s cheek, and after a slight hesitation, kissed hers, too. 
Her eyelids drifted to half-mast. His body smelled spicy and exotic, like Bedouins striding over desert dunes. 
“So, what kind of trouble are you two getting into tonight?”
His low voice dragged over her skin like suede. She couldn’t stop her reflexive shiver.
As he and Sasha talked, she unabashedly stared. Rafe wasn’t built on Lukas-sized lines, but he wasn't a small man by any means. Tall, lean, and perfectly proportioned, one didn’t realize his true size until you stood right next to him. Skimming up his black-clad, narrow-hipped frame, she stared at his hair, at the outrageous, wheat-colored waves tumbling to his broad shoulders. The style should have looked feminine, absurd, but it most emphatically did not. If anything, the soft hair emphasized his sturdy jaw, strong cheekbones, and slashing eyebrows.
Hell, he made her hormones do the tango even without an assist from the second-hand pheromones flooding the room. He was really too attractive for his own good—or for hers. The sex demon and the preacher's kid? Yeah, right. It would make an excellent pitch for a wacky TV comedy, but in real life? Yeah, right—
She jumped at the unexpected sound of his voice.
“Are you okay? You look a little flushed.”
She slapped her hands to her burning cheeks, remembering what Jack had revealed about their abilities. He could probably smell her feeble, pitiful yearning. “Sasha, can you—”
“She’s gone.”
She glanced to the place where Sasha had just been standing. “Damn it.” Sasha had disappeared, leaving her alone with her delicious sex demon brother.
Bending down, he brought his mouth closer to her ear. When his hair swished over her bare arm, she almost swooned. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you,” he said. “What did you say?”
Even his breath smelled fabulous—not overly minty, just fresh and clean.  “Nothing.” She swatted at her earpiece. The voices swarmed in her head like pesky mosquitoes. “Too many—”  
“Where’s your receiver?” 
“Front pocket.”  
“Lukas?” Rafe spoke into his own headset. “Bailey and I are going offline for a bit.” After turning off his own receiver, his long, clever fingers dipped into her front pocket, found her receiver, and flicked it off.
Flicked, too close to her—
The orgasm slammed into her like a rogue wave, heaving her up, holding her suspended, and tossing her willy-nilly over the edge. As she tumbled, strong arms reached for her, plucked her from the whitewater froth, holding her steady while time eddied and swirled.
A nearby howl brought her back to the here and now. Blinking owlishly, she locked her wobbly knees and tried to focus. All she could see was a sea of black—Rafe’s tailored shirt. Oh my God. Utterly mortified, she dropped her forehead to the soft cotton, trying to hide her face.    
His soft murmur skittered straight to her core. “I’m…so sorry.” He was a sex demon; there was no way he hadn’t noticed that his painfully platonic touch had triggered the most rocking orgasm she’d had in years. God, she must reek of desperation. Sweeping up the scattered shards of her courage, she gave a wry, self-deprecating chuckle. “Well, that was certainly embarrassing—”
His low, rumbly voice made her stomach leap. Lifting her head from his chest, she saw his clenched jaw, carved cheekbones, and the elegant flare of his nostrils as he inhaled. His tawny, gold-flecked eyes glittered as his long fingers flexed against the curve of her hips. 
Subtle as the movement was, she followed its momentum, brushing their hips together. Her breath snagged in her throat.    
He was rampantly, outrageously erect.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Super Hot Release Day

It's here, boys and girls!  The next story in the Superlovin' series is now available.  SUPER HOT is now available - and to celebrate the release, the previous book in the series, Super Bad, is FREE for a limited time for the Kindle.  Click on over and grab your copy, then check out Super Hot:

He’s on fire for her… literally. 
Superhero research scientist Dr. Eric Eisenmann always secretly wanted to be super himself, until he was abducted, experimented on, and woke up pyrokinetic—the least stable of all the super abilities. Suddenly he’s lighting everything around him on fire whenever his emotions get the better of him and desperate to turn his super powers off. Unfortunately, Eisenmann’s only hope for a cure lies with a woman who wants nothing to do with him—and fires up the very emotions he needs to keep in check.

As the only non-super daughter in a superhero dynasty, Tandy Nightwing has been poked and prodded for years in an attempt to find the cause behind her defect. Now that she’s finally found a way to be happy with her normalcy, the last thing she wants is to subject herself to another super scientist’s tests—but she can no more resist Eisenmann’s plea for help than she can resist the good doctor himself. 

Deep in his underground lab, Eisenmann tries to maintain rigid control of his feelings, but Tandy is his personal kryptonite, constantly testing his restraint. Powerless or not, she just might be the one woman brave enough to stand close to his fire—provided they both survive when their experiments unleash a passion that burns hotter than sin.

Happy reading, superhero lovers!

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Super Art!

In honor of Super Hot's release (and to keep myself busy so I'm not incessantly clicking refresh as I wait for it to go live), Super Bad is getting a face lift.  That's right, baby.  Shiny new art to amp up the romance factor.  What do you think, boys and girls?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mozart. So There.

I've never quite known how to react when people call me prolific.  (Partially because I don't think I am, particularly.  I know lots of authors who produce way more books than I do, but whatevs.)

Some people say it like it's a compliment and I'm not sure how to respond, because it seems odd to say "Thank you" when someone essentially tells you that you work hard and "Yes, I know" seems kinda bratty. (As does arguing the point.)

Then there are other people who use "prolific" as a veiled insult.  As if they can't comment on the quality of your work due to the if-you-can't-say-something-nice rule, so they comment on the abundance of it.  Kind of like we were taught in eighth grade not to say something was bad or we didn't like it.  My PC social studies teacher made us all say "That's interesting."  So of course interesting became a huge insult in my middle school.

But the ones that make me nuts are the ones who imply that anyone who is prolific is also producing at sub-par quality.  "Cranking it out" or "churning out books" and therefore they can't be any good.  I don't know why great literature has to take a million years to produce.  I don't understand why some authors are almost celebrated for their lack of consistent production.  But then, I'm a genre writer, not a literary one, so the same rules don't apply.  We have deadlines.  And contracts that don't give us a decade to produce our next magnum opus.  We have to satisfy our readers on a regular basis.  That's our job.

So why this stigma against productivity?  Productivity is not the enemy of genius.  Look at Mozart!  That man produced genius at a fiendish rate.  Shakespeare wasn't taking three or four years between plays to ruminate on the perfect turn of phrase.  When did we start looking at artists who crank as a negative?

Someone told me recently about a study with art students where they were divided into two groups - one graded qualitatively and the other quantitatively.  Apparently, the artists who were asked to produce massive quantities of art also produced, on the whole, qualitatively superior work.  So more creativity sparks better creativity.  (And I've been dying to read this study in its entirety so if anyone knows where I can find a copy of it online, you will be my bestest friend for evah and evah.)

My theory is that the stigma ultimately stems out of jealousy.  As a defense against the Mozarts and Shakespeares of the world, some mere mortal looked at them and said, "Yeah, but they're just cranking it out.  I'm honing my art."  And the sentiment stuck. 

Me?  I wanna be Stephen King-prolific when I grow up.  So I'll keep on cranking.

Back to work...