Sunday, December 31, 2006

Guest blogger: Samanthan Hunter!


I invited my friend and fellow Blaze author Samantha Hunter to guest blog here, and I'm so happy she took me up on it! Sam has a book out this January--this month!--and it's one I've been waiting to read ever since I heard the premise. Basically, UNTOUCHED centers around a superheroine who has lost her powers. Now, I know a lot of you watch HEROES, so I think this is a book you might really enjoy.

Sam has also contributed to January's contest on my site, so as soon as updates are complete, you might want to click over there to enter. In the meantime, enjoy Sam's blog.

And Happy New Year!!! Be safe during your fun tonight, okay?

Now...here's Sam!


Putting the “Super” back in Fiction. . . .

Thanks to Chris for letting me pop in! Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you all have a fantastic 2007. Of course, with Chris’s new book coming out, it’s off to a great start. Of course, I’m looking forward to it because it’s a paranormal, a genre that is so popular now because we love those larger-than-life heroes. Paranormal is putting the “super” back in fiction that perhaps got a little too “real” a lot of the time.

It seems like in the last ten years or so, there was a big push for everything in fiction to be real, like real life, or factual. Readers critique stories according to whether they have their facts right, or how they compare to ‘real life.” Writers research their fingers to the bone. Everything is supposed to have that ring of “real” but not for me. Give me the fantasy.

Personally, I read to escape. Calgon, take me away. No mistake, I enjoy my real life and I have a full one. But what ever happened to the experience of sitting down and getting lost in a world that is woven from the imagination, in a place and with people that are obviously not real, but wonderful anyway? I think the paranormal boom shows we not only want this, we need it.

My January Blaze, Untouched, is an Extreme Blaze with a “super” theme, as well. It’s about a superheroine who loses her powers and has to adapt to normal life with the help of a handsome CIA agent, and it was a blast to write. I’m heavy into superheroes, always have been. Anyone remember the Saturday morning show SHAZAM!? LOL Now I’ve aged myself. But it goes that far back.

I think my interest in paranormal romance is really an extension of the fact that I’m just a sucker for any character with super powers, whether they’re vampires or vampire hunters, psychics, handsome guys with x-ray vision, whatever. I love it all.

There’s very little in the world that hasn’t been prodded into or studied, and we deal with a flood of facts all the time. So I think the imagination is one of the great mysteries left to us, and I hope it stays that way. The imagination is everyone’s super power, really, available to everyone, and it’s where everything else comes from. Superman wouldn’t exist, nor would Buffy, nor Wolverine (not to mention air flight, The Constitution, and penicillin) without the human imagination.

And that’s probably what I like best about superheroes – they represent, in many ways, what’s extraordinary about human beings and human qualities, both in the characters and in their creation. As different or wild as they may be, they are ultimately human.

What are your favorite paranormal, fantasy or superhero characters? What do you love about them? When’s the last time you got so soaked into a fantasy that the house could have fallen down around you, and you would have cared less?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The best movie I saw in 2006

I ended up not seeing many movies in the theater this year. I’ve highlighted my reasons in previous blogs/reviews, so I won’t detail my woes again. Actually—what the heck—I’ll just offer a reminder. My absence is mainly due to talky viewers and/or people sitting behind me who put their feet on my seat and either shake me around for two hours or get my long hair caught beneath their soles. Movie-going is such major fun these days.

What this all means is that I’m hardly qualified to have an opinion about what the “best movie of 2006” was—at least as far as theater releases go. But my watching habits have been transferred to my home theater, where I’ve seen so many films this year that I could fill a diary with my musings about them. Also, here, I don’t have to worry about a frustrating viewing experience. Sure, I miss the big screen and the larger-than-life soundtracks, but I still attend the theater for the movies I absolutely can’t wait to see, and that’s all.

Now—to the point. My pick for best movie that I saw this year in the theater or at home? Well, it’s a film that actually did come out in 2006. I didn’t get around to blogging about it, but it’s a flick that has remained with me, just as if I saw it last week.

It was THE PRESTIGE.

Yes, a movie about two rival magicians going after each other—ruining each other even as they push themselves to master the ultimate trick—is hands down the best, IMHO.

Why do I love this film? There’re a thousand reasons, but I’ll whittle them down to the basics. First, it’s a powerful tale of the price of success, a lesson in losing your soul during the pursuit of revenge. And there’s much more than that, but to go into the other themes would ruin the twists and turns of this story, and I wouldn’t dare do that to you, because that’s the second thing that makes THE PRESTIGE amazing. This is a movie that keeps you guessing, even after you think you have everything figured out. Also, the complexity, the richness of the characters as they navigate the labyrinthine plot satisfied me on many levels: both emotionally and intellectually. This film didn’t merely offer great popcorn entertainment: it makes a viewer think about what he or she just saw (or maybe didn’t see—THE PRESTIGE’s script practices just as much illusion as the characters do). It forces you to consider how far you would go in the quest for a reckoning, and the ending might even leave you feeling as unsettled as I was.

Just about a week ago, I read the book by Christopher Priest, and I want to praise that, too. The story differs, but the thrust of it is the same. However—and I don’t say this lightly or often—I did think the film was superior in the telling. I’m not taking anything away from the brilliant book, but the movie had a greater impact on me. In fact, if you’re a writer, it’s really worth your time to watch and then read both works. (Note: I recommend seeing the movie before reading the book because the pages will explain more of the plot’s technicalities; plus, the book has its own set of surprises, so even if you already know what direction the plot is twisting, you’ll be riveted.) As a writer, I really admire what Christopher and Jonathan Nolan did with their adapted screenplay: they cut certain characters and streamlined others to tighten characterization and points of view. Also, they decided to play up the main characters’ rivalry, even to the point of more intense violence. They also subtracted the modern-day framing device that the book uses to great advantage (but the movie really doesn’t suffer for it at all). If these two craftsmen aren’t recognized come awards time, my disgust for the Oscars is going to multiply.

A couple more things: the art direction and cinematography are evocative—masterful in their own ways. And the performances by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale? Top notch. Even though both characters do some questionable things, you might find yourself rooting for both of them. Weird how good acting can accomplish that.

So enjoy, but hold onto your seat. It’s a wild ride.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The limbo of holiday cheer

So...it's over. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. All we have left is New Years, and I must confess that this isn't one of my favorite holidays.

Maybe it's just because I've had my fill of parties where I feel socially obligated to be "on." You know what I mean. At holiday social events, you should seem cheery. You should seem sparkly. You should glow like a tree bulb. Those are the rules. Maybe I'm all out of holiday spirits at this point and watching a marathon of LONESOME DOVE or AMAZING RACE while safely ensconced in a house seems far more preferable than risking my life on the road.

I'm just festivitied OUT, frankly. It was awesome to spend time with my family, but I'm ready to crash!

I'm ready for peace.

That said, I hope you all have fun place, and that you'll stay safe this week. It's a long stretch until Valentine's Day, so party like you mean it. :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Just popping in to shout a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. Thank you for being here. I'm eternally grateful for your support and good will--and your conversation! May your egg nog be tasty, your family be happy, and your gifts be plenty....

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Audio: KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL

I'm not sure what, exactly, inspired me to download Anthony Bourdain's KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL from audible.com. Maybe I did it because I'd heard that this famous chef related all his naughty misdeeds, his drugged up distasters, his sex-in-the-pantry escapades in this tell-all memoir. Maybe I did it because...

Wait. It was totally because of the gossipy stuff. Let's not fool ourselves.

Yet imagine my surprise when I discovered that there aren't so many juicy events in this book. Sure, there are casual references to getting coked up after restaurant hours, but not much more than that. Darn Bourdain, but there's a lot of talk about actual restaurant-running and food in KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL!

Luckily that's enough to keep me interested. However, an even bigger selling point is that Bourdain himself narrates his own book in a who-gives-a-crap, mildly amused tone. That's worth the price of a download right there. The enterprising businessman is his own self-aware freak show, and oftentimes it seems as if the culinary details are secondary to his personality. But I don't mind that a bit, because it's Bourdain's voice that gives color to a book that occasionally lacks focus. Still, his tales of management woes and his tips on how to stock a kitchen are genuinely interesting, and anyone who fantasizes that they can cook--like me!--will probably dig this memoir. Bourdain's narration is merely a bonus.

So...next up on audio for me? Maybe it'll be SHOOT OUT, a Hollywood tell-all. Or maybe MARIE ANTOINETTE. Or a Bill Bryson (comic travel genius) book. Or a non-fiction work about the Zodiac Killer. All I know is that my iPod crashed AGAIN and I'll probably be listening straight from my computer....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Unexpected gift

My mom and aunt and I decided to take the Adorables (translation--nephew and niece) to the San Diego Wild Animal Park the other day. During the holidays, the Park puts on The Festival of Lights, which features beautiful decorations, extended hours, plus different arts and crafts stations that allow the kids to be creative and to squee a lot.

But there was a bonus in going to the Park for me. See, years ago, back when I was a nugget just out of high school, I decided to work for a year, take some community college classes, then apply those general ed. classes to a state college. It ended up being a really good decision for a lot of reasons, mostly in that I saved a decent amount of money and that I was hungry to go to the BIG COLLEGE while working toward my goal. Another reason was that I got to work at the SD Wild Animal Park.

For those of you who don't know, this is a wild life park like no other. It opened in 1972 and provides a refuge for endangered species; their breeding program for nearly extinct animals is extremely impressive. While I was never an "important employee" like a keeper or a vet, I felt like I was doing something worthwhile working as a ticketseller, a "visitor assistance officer," a switchboard operator, an education assistant--or any of the hundred jobs I did during my tenure there. But as I went off to college and returned every summer to the Park, I started to forget how lucky I was to be working there. Guests who didn't read their maps or informational signs got on my nerves, and the administrative politics took the luster from my days. Going to this fantastic paradise week after week became rote.

I hadn't visited the Park since I left over ten years ago, and it was only now, with the passage of time, that I appreciate how fortunate I was to work in such a place. As I wandered through the main village, past the Congo River Fishing Village, past the meerkats, onto the Kilimanjaro Hiking Trail and to the Lion Camp, I took in all the changes: a new 3-D Dino Simunlation ride, a new Hidden Jungle exhibit, an army of new employees I didn't know. As dusk set, a lion's roar echoed over the treetops, and I realized that, when I was so much younger and dopier, I'd had a rare experience, and it was only in hindsight that I truly embraced it.

Happy Holidays, you all. I hope you find an unexpected present to unwrap within yourselves, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

OOTB book tour: VENUS ENVY


I've been looking forward to this one for a while now! It's here, it's here!

VENUS ENVY by Shannon McKelden
(TOR Books, December 26, 2006)

Take one hunky firefighter, one stubborn "Cinderella," and one very reluctant fairy godmother and what do you get?

Rachel Greer wants no part of Venus's scheme to land Mr. March as her Prince Charming, but Venus is determined to do just that. She's only a few love-life fixes short of returning to her former goddess status, and she's not letting one mulish mortal stand in her way.

It appears the only way Rachel can get rid of the very un-Disney-like fairy godmother is to play along. So she follows Venus's plan to interview Luke Stanton's ex-girlfriends...which Venus believes will cure Rachel's relationship fears, but which Rachel knows will only prove her point that men are never what they appear to be.

But, when Venus's plan appears to work, and Rachel and Luke fall in love, does Rachel dare set aside her fears about happily ever? Or will betrayal send her back into relationship seclusion...this time forever?

And what happens when a goddess-turned-fairy godmother breaks the most important rule--protecting herself from human emotions?

Excerpt:

http://www.shannonmckelden.com/venus1.htm

Cover:

http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/0765315858.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V62234549_.jpg


ABOUT SHANNON McKELDEN
Shannon McKelden has wanted to be a writer since she earned a coveted ‘A+++’ from her 9th grade English teacher. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her high school sweetheart, two kids, two cats, a dog and a crow.


REVIEWS
Witty, funny, and truly original, McKelden’s romance is a standout. -- Booklist

Sexy, clever and fun, Venus Envy is absolutely delightful from beginning to end. Author Shannon McKelden has talent to spare. –Jane Porter, author of The Frog Prince

Debut author McKelden is undeniably talented, milking a fun plot for all it's worth. 3 Stars. – Romantic Times


Website: http://www.shannonmckelden.com

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Take two

Remember how I was so stoked to start plotting TWISTED Friday? Well, sometimes the best-laid plans get slammed, LOL.

Just as I was sitting down to plot, I heard from my Blaze editor about a slight revision that would need to be done for THE ULTIMATE BITE, my July vampire release. And since THE ULTIMATE BITE is on a tight production schedule, she wondered if I could get the revision done by early next week.

Since I'm not on a hard deadline (just a personal one) for TWISTED, I complied. Besides, the revision is a small one (Brenda Chin herself will tell you that she's not doing her job if she doesn't ask for a revision, LOL.). However, I had to do the bulk of it Friday because yesterday (Saturday) was faux-Christmas with most of my family. My bro, sis-in-law, and the adorables (er...nephew and niece) are going out of state to celebrate the actual holiday with s-i-law's family. So what I'm saying is that Saturday was out of the question for any work to get accomplished.

Hence, I put my vague ideas for TWISTED to bed and revisited THE ULTIMATE BITE on Friday.

Sometimes it's tough to switch creative/mental gears like that. One moment, I was geeked to start TWISTED while THE ULTIMATE BITE was sleeping in the back of my brain (I knew there'd be a revision, so I hadn't quite buried it.). The next second, I was yanking BITE to the forefront while shoving TWISTED into BITE's resting place. Confusing, to say the least, since I had to reacquaint myself with the details of the world I'd built for BITE while forgetting everything about serial killers and haunted houses. Yet, that's just how it goes, whether you're a homemaker who has to put aside a beloved project to take care of a broken appliance or a marketer who has to concentrate on a higher-paying account at the expense of a lower one. We all have to prioritize and work at the mercy of deadlines. It's just part of doing business.

That said, I'm going for another walk to get my mind back on TWISTED. Let's see what happens today....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Twisted

That's what I'm calling the proposal I'm going to plot today: TWISTED. I know the title isn't going to last long--if this story is purchased, the title will probably be scrapped because it's pretty generic. However, it establishes the story's tone, and I figure that'll help when my agent pitches this to an editor.

So what's it about? Well, it's another "atmospheric thriller" along the lines of BAITED, but without the island. As you can probably guess from reading my blogs and reviews of movies I like to watch, I'm pretty into horror, so it's not a big stretch that I want to write about creepy stuff. The premise is "FRIDAY THE 13th meets the setting of THE SHINING"--so, like BAITED, there's the graphic who-dun-it slasher angle, but this time there's a rambling haunted house involved. Mwa-ha-ha!!! The haunted house isn't just the location for a terror-filled weekend, either: it also plays a big part in the characters' backgrounds.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out my heroine. Of course, she can't be a static bore. Part of the fun of writing BAITED was creating Katsu Espinoza. I loved her mixed heritage and how that affected her psyche and actions; also, I loved tying all of that into the murders themselves. And, altogether, the murderer's signature (the faces...) echoed Kat's identity issues. That was a lot of fun to work through as I wrote the story.

This morning, before I took a head-clearing walk, I was nervous that, with TWISTED, I wouldn't be able to come up with the same sort of thematic balance. But I think I've got it. I can't tell you what it is, naturally, because it would be giving away so much about the central mystery, but I think it's something we can all relate to.

I hope.

Anyway...here I go.

(eek)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DVD time: THE NOTEBOOK

I'm one of the few people who hadn't seen the movie adaptation of Nicolas Sparks' THE NOTEBOOK. Not until the other night.

I don't know why I put it off--I've had the DVD forever. Maybe I just thought it would be cheesy, although I did read the book a while ago and I was touched by the framing device: the old man reading to the old woman from that notebook because--as the reader gradually discovers--the old woman is his wife and he's trying to basically resurrect her with their love story.

I was happy to discover that the film wasn't half as cheesy as I expected. Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling have great chemistry (duh--real life couple), and I loved the old-time setting. I thought the film did a great job of using history as more than a superficially nostalgic backdrop. There was a real sense that these characters *existed* in this time, that they were more than faded snapshots. And speaking of character, I found it very interesting that the heroine remained likeable, even when she was making frustrating choices and acting like what could've so easily been a moron. (Treating her fiance like dirt? Arguing with the hero all the time? Yeesh--but Rachel McAdams is a good enough actress to still charm the audience.)

So the flashback portions? Great. The story's framing device? Almost great.

I say this because I really didn't like the ending of this film. I know, I know--boo! But let me explain.

Here we are, watching as the old man (James Garner) slowly and patiently reads the contents of the notebook to his wife (Gena Rowlands). His devotion is enough to make anyone sob. You can see, little by little, the light coming on in her eyes, the understanding that this diverting story he's reading actually means so much more. Then, when that moment of enlightenment comes for her, it's glorious. It's romantic. It's beautiful. They dance with each other, just as they used to so long ago, when their bodies and minds hadn't betrayed them in their old age. The camera pulls back, and everything is right with the world. Everything has come full circle.

But then...? Sigh. Then the movie has to continue, though I can't remember exactly when the book itself ended. I'm not sure if the script altered the finale or not. However, then we have to endure the sight of the woman forgetting who her husband is and going into a frightened rage. And the very end? A real stretch, IMHO. The husband comes back to his wife, and in a moment of clarity, she remembers him and they die together.

For me, those extra fifteen minutes at the end killed the glow I had going from that dance. I don't understand why the film had to continue when they had such a perfect ending earlier. Yet, luckily, I can forget about that ending and recall the rest of the movie.

Ironic, seeing as the old man was just trying to get his wife to remember...not forget.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Be there or be l=l

Hmmm--that symbol in the title is supposed to be a square, but alas, I am such a computer halfwit that I don't know how to make the proper shape. Oh, well--at least it looks like a TIE fighter.

Two things:

First, this Wednesday the 13th, www.eharlequin.com is having an open house. Starting at 7pm Pacific Time, there'll be live chats with author visits and giveaways. I'll be there from 7-10pm, representing all three of my lines. Here's the schedule:

7pm - "home and hearth" lines: Special Edition
8pm - "passion" lines: Blaze
9pm - "intrigue and adventure" lines: Bombshell

I guess this will be somewhat of a wake for Bombshell, but lots of authors are scheduled to be there. I hope you guys will visit, too.


Second, I'm very proud of myself for *finally* putting up a MySpace page this weekend! It's for Vampire Babylon, but I'm thinking of making a more personal page as well. If you're on MySpace, please add me to your friend list, as I'm very manic about collecting them at the moment. Seriously, I've become an addict. Here's the addy:

http://www.myspace.com/vampirebabylon

Hope to see you all around!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Early NIGHT RISING review

I just wanted to share an early review for NIGHT RISING, Vampire Babylon, Book One, from a UK web site. You can click here to go to the Eternal Night Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Fiction site to see the entire review, but here's the best part of it:

"If you like your fantasy with an edge, then you've struck gold. Despite the
vampires and other para elements, there is a ring of truth to the biting,
no pun intended, allegory. This is a fantastic start to a new series and
one you should try to keep up with as it unfolds."
- Amanda

It's good to see that a reviewer liked it! LOL.

This will also be posted on www.vampirebabylon.com....

BTW, last month's contest winner is Sandra Martin! Also, December's updates have been finished, so the new contest is up at the main site.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

OOTB book tour: UNLEASHED


Who's up for some werewolf action? Here's an anthology that looks to provide four different paranormal stories for you....


“Come Moonrise” by Lucy Monroe featured in UNLEASHED
(Berkley, December 5, 2006)

Ty MacAnlup has seen the tragedy that a mating between a werewolf and a human can bring and he wants no part of it, no matter how much his body and heart ache for a taste of Frankie's softness. Frankie has loved Ty for years and while she doesn't know he's a werewolf, or even that such things exist...she does know that to her, he's always been more than a mere man. Ty's hidden beast wreaks havoc with his determination to stay away from Frankie when they are trapped together in a small cabin in the snow bound wilderness.

Excerpt:
http://www.lucymonroecotm.com/excerpt_cm.htm

Cover:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0425212114/ref=dp_image_text_0/002-6782187-3030458?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

ABOUT LUCY MONROE
Award winning author Lucy Monroe sold her first book in September of 2002. Since then she has sold more than 30 books to three publishers and hit national bestsellers lists in the US and England. Her highly charged, sensual stories touch on the realities of life while giving the reader a fantasy story not easily forgotten. Whether it's a passionate Harlequin Presents, a sexy single title for Kensington or a steamy historical or paranormal for Berkley, Lucy's books transport her readers to a special place where the heart rules and love conquers all.

Website: http://www.lucymonroe.com
http://www.lucymonroecotm.com

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another HEROES

Great pacing, cool twists, and the heroes are finally starting to come together! Did you all love last night's episode? Or was it lacking after all the hype?

I'm pretty content. Just some impressions:

Jessica is a bad ass. If I were that cop to whom Niki is turning herself in? I would be a scared little running man.

LOL--the Haitian got to Zach and Mom and Lil Bro and...not Claire!!! Oh, Horn Rimmed Glasses, you are a tasty piece of work.

Hah--Hiro's sword returns! (May I direct you to my blog of a couple months ago? You know, the one in which I dreamed of Hiro's sword?) And...a dinosaur? Whaaaa's that?

OMG--Hiro gave Isaac the Spock sign and Isaac immediately stops saying Hiro's name with a Japanese accent. Anyone remember that old Saturday Night Live skit where everyone in an office keeps using a Mexican accent whenever they say "taco" or "burrito"? That's Issac--a walking skit.

Who does Horn Rimmed Glasses man report to anyway?

Ack! Eden? What happened there? Why...how...? I thought Sylar didn't have powers in that room, yet he shattered the glass and scooped her right up? I had to have missed something. (Sorry--I was unpacking at the time, though I was trying hard to pay attention. Multitasking: it is the cloth of my life.)

And the ending. Peter. Oh, Peter. First, I thought it was great that he was the Man on Fire, but when I realized that he could explode, I got sad. So very sad. Peter has grown on me, and I'm going to go off on that in a few seconds. But first: did Claire whisper that she was sorry? Did she do something to make Peter into The Flame? Or was she just expressing a basic "I'm sorry" for what was about to happen?

Just a tangent here: some of the hero men are making my hot list.

* Mohinder - hot accent. Clipped British yumminess. I just wish he had a deeper voice, you know?
* Isaac - but only when he's in the shadows. Not so much hotness in the light. That sounds terrible, but what I mean is that he's more mysterious in the dark while wrapped in a blanket. In the light, he's kind of slender and has quite the stubbled baby face. I like Dark Art-eest better.
* Horn Rimmed Glasses - Loved the look on his face after Sylar went all turbo MY-NAME-IS-SYLAR-HEAR-ME-ROAR on him. Horn Rimmed Glasses's response? A quietly mocking smile. Hot. Is it wrong to find Claire's dad on my list?
* Peter- Okay, I'm coming around to little bow-legged Petrelli. At first I thought he and his bangs were a tad foppish, but I realized something about Peter: He's more Superman than the current Clark Kent of SMALLVILLE is. The well-earned iconic "Boy Scout" nickname applies more to earnest and selfless Peter than it does to the exhaustingly whiny Clark Kent (though I'm hoping that'll change this season. But right now it seems that SMALLVILLE is more interested in the Green Arrow and Lex/Lana than developing Clark. sigh).

Anyway, I'm going to miss my HEROES for over a month. Ahhh! I just realized how long that is....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Idyll

So I'm visiting my brother, sis-in-law, and adorable nephew and niece. I turned in THE ULTIMATE BITE Friday, so I get a couple of days to relax. Ahhhh, nice.

The N&N are scampering over the backyard grass, my nephew grabbing every cottoned dandelion he can find when I remember something from my childhood: those stems can look really cool if you shuck off the head, peel the stem into strips until the two sides meet in the middle, then stick the entire thing in water.

Did you do this as a kid?

I was hoping I hadn't just dreamed this activity, because the N&N were kind of excited to see the "dandelion ribbons." (Truthfully, you can use the end product on gift packages. They're beautiful.) And...viola! They really were as gorgeous as I remembered.

I really love days off.

Another wonderful moment came in a fan letter this morning. Nicole asked me if there would be a story for Kyle, who was a secondary character in last July's INNUENDO for Blaze. I told her that I didn't have any firm plans to write a sequel-of-sorts, but it had crossed my mind. Hearing that readers want to know about the further adventures of characters really inspires me to approach my editor with a firm story idea. So, thank you, Nicole! We'll see what happens since I just fulfilled my most recent Blaze contract with THE ULTIMATE BITE....

Have a great weekend, you all. Make a few dandelion ribbons. :)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

OOTB book tour: INFERNO


The Out of the Blogosphere book tour is back again.... (My own NIGHT RISING should be making its appearance on a paranormal blog near you in February, when it's released!) Here's a different type of story; looks wild!


INFERNO by Vivi Anna
(Kensington, December 2006)

Vivi Anna's gorgeous, leather-clad heroine, Kat, is back in another wildly erotic adventure set in a future world where passion has no rules — and no limits ...

Kat needs to find a scientist rumored to have created an antidote to a deadly virus, but he's hiding out in the violent underground city of Inferno. Her one-time lover Hades will take Kat where she needs to go, but only if she promises to be his, body and soul.

Excerpt:
http://www.vivianna.net/inferno.php#excerpt

Cover:
http://www.vivianna.net/inferno150x225.gif


ABOUT VIVI ANNA
A BAD GIRL at heart, Vivi Anna likes to burn up the pages with her original unique brand of fantasy fiction. Whether it's in ancient Egypt, or in an apocalyptic future, Vivi always writes fast paced action-adventure with strong independent women that can kick some butt, and dark delicious heroes to kill for.

Once shot at while repossessing a car, Vivi decided that maybe her life needed a change. The first time she picked up a pen and put words to paper, she knew she had found her heart. Within two paragraphs, she realized she could write about getting into all sorts of trouble without suffering the consequences.

When Vivi isn't writing, you can find her causing a ruckus at downtown bistros, flea markets, or playgrounds.


REVIEWS
Combine two star-crossed lovers, a deadly virus, a passel of Dark Dwellers, and an underground nemesis bent on destruction and you get one heck of an adventure. This follow-up to Hell Kat will have you cheering for the good guys all over again — and laughing out loud while you do it! A fun, sexy romp that leaves you crying out for more. – 4 stars, Romantic Times

Website: http://www.vivianna.net

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

HEROES flashback

So last night was the flashback show. Doesn't it seem like every program needs to have one of those now because LOST has done it so well?

But I suppose when you have a hero who can mess with time and space, you gotta go flashback. Speaking of our fun, wonderful, time-bending Hiro, I was really surprised that he couldn't save Charlie. And you know what? I love it! I mean, I don't love that Charlie is and always would've been a goner, but I love that this is a program that'll carry out a bad situation to its end: hopefully this shows that the writers won't be pulling punches. (Yes, I'm talking about you, ALIAS. As much as I adored the show, how many times did they bring someone back from the dead? Pretty soon, a viewer stops caring about the twists and turns because they know that there won't be any consequences. Having said that--dammit, I miss Syd and the gang!)

Back to HEROES. It was interesting to see how Sylar evolved, and I think his clock-psyche is fascinating. Tick tick tick, the dude is a time bomb. He's also able to suck the powers from those he kills, and that's scary.

Hate to say it, but Matt the cop is boring the tar out of me.

However, I'm more intrigued by Niki/Jessica after finding out who Jessica really was. I quite enjoy the concept of a hero whose repressed superpowers only come out in a buried personality (unless we discover that Jessica is some kind of spirit who has possessed Niki--that would be taking the Hulk thing in a cool direction).

I'm eager to get back to the present, though, to see the aftermath of "Homecoming." What's going to happen with Sylar and Horn Rimmed Glasses now? And which of our heroes are going to come together and stay together?

Most importantly, what is this twist that the promos are shouting about???
Eeee.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I've been ultimately bitten

It's done. Phew! I finished the rough draft for THE ULTIMATE BITE yesterday. I've told you before that this will be the first vampire-themed Blaze, placed in the Extreme flash line. (Basically, Extreme presents Blazes that you wouldn't necessarily be expecting, but even though their premises are "extreme"--vampires, superheroines who have lost their powers, assassins, some aliens!--they still have that hot stuff you always get from this line.)

When I first presented the idea to my Blaze editor, Brenda Chin, she said, "Yes!!! Cool idea. Let's do it!" A vampire who has bitten so many women that he accidentally bites the same one again is a solid "hot" premise, especially since said victim turned into a steamy siren after that bite. Her sexuality was stoked, and she hasn't found anything that even remotely lives up to the bite since it happened: the men she dates don't have a chance, and it's only when vampire Stephen shows up again that her libido gets what it wants. But this is also a love story, so there's more to their attraction. It grows into something neither of them expect, and that's where the emotion gets heavy.

You all know that I can't just write a simple vampire: Stephen had to have a background that made me want to be with him day after day. He had to interest me beyond just being a creature of the night (though that's pretty cool in and of itself). He has a gang--a ragtag vampire "family." I can't go into their history--that's for you to read--but it was totally entertaining to create. My critique partner, Sheri Whitefeather, said their lair reminded her of THE LOST BOYS and, indeed, that was an inspiration, although that's not what I'm writing. Let's just say these vampires collected a lot during their long, long lives--and there's a good reason for what they collected.

The heroine, Kim, was lots of fun. Again, Sheri said, "She reminds me of a softer Bombshell." LOL. That is to say, Kim is a vampire hunter of sorts, but not a major action/adventure heroine. Nope, she hunts via the Internet with her own gang. They're more "geeks" with a passion than hardcore vamp hunters, and they have a Web site devoted to their pursuits, plus a pirate radio show. They call themselves The Van Helsing League, and like Mulder, they truly believe "the truth is out there." But they hardly have the same resources.

So...when the vampire and the hunter get together, they get hot in the city: Las Vegas. It's the perfect place for vampires because vacationing victims have a "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" mentality, getting themselves into situations more dangerous than they'd probably tolerate in their normal lives.

And there you go. I had fun writing the sex-then-love scenes and even though it's a "different type of Blaze" I think it's what I'd like to read within the subgenre, myself.

Write what you like, yes?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving--a day late

Happy Thanksgiving wherever you are in the world!

This is a day later--sorry--but I was with my family and I found I didn't have time to do any blogging. Now that I'm recovering from all that food and football, I'd like to offer what yesterday's blog should've shown. A recipe! It's going around my parents' neighborhood, and I haven't even tried it yet, but it's on my Christmas things-to-bake list. It sounds awesome.

Pumpkin Gingerbrad Trifle

2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
1 (5.1-ounce) package cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup gingersnaps - optional

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cinnamon into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a larg, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle off the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.

Yum! Have fun with it. :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

HEROES watch

I guess I allowed all the Internet hype to pump me up about last night's show. What a mistake, because I feel somehow underwhelmed.

Crazy, huh? Because so much happened--however, it didn't seem to happen until the last half. I kept hoping they'd just stick with Peter and Claire and the whole "homecoming" storyline. Every time they flashed to Highly Dysfunctional Hero Family, I got a little restless.

Still--great payoffs near the end! At first, Sylar seemed to resemble Peter Petrelli, but that was just a trick of light, I'm sure. And Sylar going after Claire was pretty damn exciting. But I wonder when we're going to find out how saving "the cheerleader" will result in saving the world. Also, I thought Homecoming might be the night when Peter received that scar Hiro referred to.

Obviously, there's a lot left to come. I only wish we'd get more of the heroes together because the show flies when that happens.

In the meantime, I'm off to edit THE ULTIMATE BITE. Three more chapters left, friends. I'm getting end-of-the-book restless here. Next up for me? Enjoying the holidays, working on a couple of proposals and a short vampire story for Amazon Shorts, and dealing with PR for the February release of NIGHT RISING....

Monday, November 20, 2006

Writer's Dock

I'll be back tomorrow for a HEROES post, but today I wanted to let you know that I'll be at www.writersdock.co.uk all week, answering writing questions, etc. If you'd like to stop by and chat about craft and business, I'd love to see you!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

BOND, JAMES BOND

This will be short and sweet because I'm off to see Ms. Bond, Stephanie Bond, at a local RWA meeting. But to be succinct: the new James Bond movie, CASINO ROYALE, is pretty awesome.

This is the first Bond movie in ages to have a character arc for the hero, and it's so refreshing to see that: I hope it's a trend that continues. And Daniel Craig is great; he brings so many new angles to a character that's been used until it's become a paper cutout of anything interesting. Craig's Bond is rugged, and he can wear a tux while still kicking ass. I haven't ever seen an action sequence in one of these movies like the first extended one in CASINO ROYALE. I mean--Bond is brutal. In fact, the movie doesn't feature any of the gadgets you'd expect: this Bond is all brains and brawl. I love it. But don't worry that this new Bond leaves out the quips and the charm. Hell no--it's still there in spades. His sense of humor is dry, just like a martini, but there's a subtle wink in Craig's eye as he delivers his lines. The perfect example of this mix can be found in one of the best torture scenes ever put on film. That sounds wrong--"the best torture scene"--but when you see it, you'll probably agree from a storytelling standpoint. It's funny and cringe-worthy all at the same time, and Bond handles it with...well, I'll leave you to see that, but it had the audience clapping.

Viva the new Bond!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

DVD time: NORTH COUNTRY

I know--the title NORTH COUNTRY doesn't exactly inspire a viewer to sit right down and invest two hours in watching it. That's how I felt when I got this movie from Netflix. It would be worthwhile; I was assured of that because it's an ACADEMY AWARD TYPE movie. So...quality, right? But I didn't expect a lot except for great acting and a "message."

I was really, really wrong.

I loved this film. Loved it so much that the time seemed to go by in a blink. Everything about it got to me: the sterile snowy landscapes of Minnesota, the bleak mine where the heroine goes to work, the blue-collar vibe of people just trying to make a living and then going back home to a cheaply wood-paneled family room. And the acting was absolutely great: Charlize Theron and her supporting cast deserve all the kudos piled on them. There was no overrated frenzy in compliments here.

But what really struck me about NORTH COUNTRY was the message. It hit deep, especially after having to go through that simunitions training I wrote about a few blogs ago (You know--the activity where I had the hood on my head?). I thought a lot about cowardice and just how much of it might be inside of me. But this movie made me consider cowardice in another form. NORTH COUNTRY isn't about a blazing high-stress situation that burns itself out in under a couple of minutes. It's not about life-or-death decisions. It's about the quiet choice we all have to make at some point in our lives. Sometimes those decisions pass us by without us ever dealing with them, even though we know we should have. They disappear from the moment in shameful silence but still tear us apart, haunting us with the knowledge that we should have spoken up when the time was right.

The heroine chose to speak up, and it was her coworkers who had to face their own cowardice. NORTH COUNTRY is a powerful representation of what it's like to be THAT person who decides to let the big moments go by, even if they know it's wrong to do so. Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

HEROES day!

Karm wants to talk about HEROES, so here we go!

Thar be SPOILERS ahead....

Last night's episode validated my enthusiasm for this series. Not that this doesn't happen each week, but every time a commercial break cut into the action I was like, "Damn! Hurry back!" and also "This is soooo good!" The pacing is spot on, giving us answers while laying out groundwork and clues for future twists and turns. For instance, what's with Mohinder's dead sister? (And does that have something to do with an emerging power for him--or would that be Soccer Boy?) Also, there was a mention of how Horn Rimmerd Glasses Man came to adopt Claire; a result of a nasty death? Then there's Pixie (as Television Without Pity calls her). Does this chick have powers in her whispers? Also, what was she when Horn Rimmed Glasses Man first found her?

I liked how Horn Rimmed Glasses Man got lots of screen time: he's a fun enigma. Is he genuinely a good guy or just a good liar? It seems like he really does love Claire, but he's so shady. I don't know but, friends, this is a very decent villain. That's how you make 'em interesting.

My favorite parts of the episode, however, showcased Hiro. I loved how he hit it off with Memory Waitress Girl. But then--yiiiiiiiikes!!!!! Holy crumb, did you see when her head got bleched? Well done, writers and director--very, very well done.

Then...that creepy-ass cliffhanger: the picture with Hiro and the waitress. I got shivers looking at that thing. Poor Ando, worrying about his time-bending friend. What adventures did Hiro find with the waitress, and how much will they have affected him once he returns?

Next up: Homecoming. I'm a little afraid for Claire, you all.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SMALLVILLE 5

All right, you all, this is where I'm going to get fanwanky with SMALLVILLE. Up until this point, I've generally been enjoying it and only occasionally noticing that I wasn't too gung-ho about a few character traits or mythology developments. But season 5 was the boiling point for all the tiny niggles that were tugging at me. Now, this isn't to say that I haven't liked a lot of what this program offers, so I'll start with what I'm enjoying about this series first.

BTW, if you haven't seen the series to this point and you have no idea what happens, you won't want to read any farther. Major SPOILERS ahead....

I am absolutely fascinated with Lionel Luther now. Yes, I've always quite adored his cheeky portrayal of Lex's farther, but now my adoration has turned into full-blown fangirl lurve. His most recent interactions with Clark and especially Martha Kent hold all the poignancy and tension that Clark and Lana were supposed to have, I suppose. And Lionel and Martha? Lurve. I haven't really started season 6 yet, but as much as the forbidden/growing affection between these two makes me ship for them, I hope the writers can refrain from giving them a full-blown romance. First, as awesome as it is, it's just wrong. Squick. And Martha hasn't had nearly enough time to recover from Jonathan's death. Still...lurve!

I thought the writers nailed Jonathan Kent's death, especially in its aftermath. Superman's adopted daddy had to die--it's a huge turning point in the mythology and in Clark's character growth. I've found myself developing a big old lump in my throat several times now that Jonathan has made the odd visit or two to a still-grieving Clark. Bravo.

Chloe Sullivan has turned into a majorly rockin' character. She used to bug during the first couple of seasons, but I am so the president of her fan club now. And that kiss she planted on Clark as Zod tried to take over the world? You go, girl! Personally, Clark has been quite the dweeb (see later notes), so I kind of wouldn't mind seeing Chloe in Lana's place at the Luthor mansion, snuggling and snarking with Lex.

What have I found to be better than expected? Lex and Lana getting together. I know. I've never understood the appeal of Lana and why she gets so much screen time for a character who's proven herself irrelevant time and again, but having her and Lex together has been surprisingly painless. Sure, I've wondered why a multi-millionaire would have any interest whatsoever in a judgmental Lolita--yeah, he likes her "goodness" (barf)--but his moral decay is imminent anyway. That's how it's supposed to go with Lex Luthor. Hence, I'm okay with him making this sort of very bad decision.

That said, I hope that Lex isn't going to grow to hate Clark/Superman because of this thing with Lana. I'd love to see a bunch of issues piling up to build the Lex we know and despise, and I'd love the cherry on top of the evil sundae to be Lex's resentment of how Clark is more of a son to Lionel than Lex could ever be: Clark is the super-child Lex has always strived to become, and for Clark to win Lionel over would be a blow that Lex would never recover from. That would make beautiful sense.

Now we come to the one point that has put me into battle mode with this series, though I could turn back into lovergirl at any moment. To put it simply, Clark has devolved into such a selfish whiny turd that I cannot imagine him as the boy who becomes Superman--the icon who represents all that is good about the struggle to be human. I understand the need for conflict in his life, and I do love a good brooding hero (Hi, Batman!), but this is not the Superman I fan for. And, frankly, Clark has overspent his "but he's going to be Superman one day" credit. Seriously, when he basically traded Lana's death for Jonathan's...? I felt ill. Jor-El told Clark that another life would be taken if he decided to trade in Lana's for that second option, and he did it anyway. For Lana.

I know that I'm being a bitter fanwanker, but disappointment does that. However, my love for everything else about this series is going to keep me loyal. I can see a glimmer of Clark's final road to becoming Superman right around the bend, even though I might be traveling a few steps behind him, warily watching every step....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pictures!

Want to see some pictures of the gun seminar? (You'll see me being coached by an Olympic markswoman as I deal with a shotgun and you'll see me and Karmela Johnson hamming it up, demonstrating HOW NEVER TO HOLD A HANDGUN. You'll get to take a gander at a few other attending authors.) I'm hoping to get more pix as we go along, but for now, here's the link:

http://www.karmelajohnson.com/photos/index.php?/photos/category/47/6


Karm's blog is really fun, too, with frequent quizzes and writing talk.

Also, I want to let you know that Carol Woodruff won last month's web site contest. Bath and Body Works stuff and books are on their way. Congrats, Carol!

Hope you all have an excellent weekend. I'm going to write and hope my Chargers don't blow it. :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The seminar

I'm baaa-ack!

All I can say is "wow." Two and a half days of seminar-ific information and experiences. Our hosts made sure that our time was well spent on learning about gun safety, technical gun issues (A bullet is not the same thing as a cartridge. And it's called a "magazine"--never a clip.), and basic issues about carrying, concealment, and comfort levels. I met some incredibly interesting authors and had the pleasure of seeing old friends, too. (Karm, hope you got back home safely!) Of course, since I'm picture challenged, I forgot to bring my camera, but I'm hoping to pass on a few photos of my experiences soon, after fellow authors have shared their pix.

As educational as day one in the classroom was, yesterday was what really gave me food for thought. We visited a local gun range, where we had the opportunity to fire everything from a sub-machine gun to shotguns to handguns to a "sniper rifle"--a .50 cal. Barrett. You guys, this rifle was HUGE and can reach a target located a mile and a half away. We were asked to hit a small bottle about 500 yards in the distance. I came close, but no cigar. What was amazing is that I got used to the loud BANG as well as the force of the fired round: just standing near the rifle when it's fired sends a push of pressure against a body.

Then came something called "simmunitions training." Oh. My. God. First, let me mention that a private tactical training outfit was there to lead us writers through our educational journey: these men and women belong in Bombshell and highly-trained operator novels. They are well-spoken, thoughtful, and impressive. They train military and law enforcement. You getting the picture?

So..."simmunitions." Basically, this is an extreme exercise designed to test an individual under majorly stressful situations. I'm talking almost unbearable adrenaline, you all. As they prepped us for the scenario, I actually wanted to throw up, among other things. Our instructors made good use of the psychology of terror to amp us up, but that was only the beginning. A group of us were taken behind a shed so we couldn't see what was happening with each chosen participant after they were taken away. You know that had an effect. Previously, they'd told us that we would find out things about ourselves in this situation that might not be pretty--I think that scared me most of all. Who wants to face the fact that you, perhaps, freeze under pressure? Who wants to find out that you're a coward?

Then our names were called and we were brought to the holding area, where we were given what amounts to a handgun/paint gun. We were suited up in body armor, a protective mask, and...a hood. Yes, I said A HOOD. From there, there was disorientation, then a nightmare situation that included a hostage, a man who was holding a "knife" to that hostage's throat, and a home that was supposed to be my very own. To make this short and sweet, let's just say that I hope none of us have to go through this no-win situation. It was excellent thriller training that I will never find on the internet or in a book.

I wish all research were this effective.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Off to do research

First, I want to assure you all that my main site will be updated very soon, so please come back to it after the newsletter is sent out!

Second, I just wanted to tell you about an interesting opportunity I'm taking advantage of for the next few days. Not too long ago, Karmela Johnson informed me of the Fiction and Script Writers Seminar that's held in Las Vegas. Here, gun enthusiasts are kind enough to share their experience with those of us who might write about it. Since some of my characters occasionally pack heat, I thought this would yield some great research, so I jumped at the chance to attend. We'll be hearing from the experts and actually doing some shooting and simulations on a gun range.

As far as writing goes, whenever I can get firsthand experience, I take it. I think it makes a huge difference in presenting details and the "vibe" or a character or setting. Aside from getting to see Karm and meet other writers, I'm really looking forward to absorbing all this new information and using it.

Ah, the life of a writer, eh?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

SMALLVILLE 4

I'm finally done with the fourth season DVDs for SMALLVILLE. Truthfully, I'm well into season five now because when I watched the season finale for four, I couldn't stop. So far, I'm absolutely riveted by season five, with the emphasis on Clark's growth into Superman--everything has accelerated and taken on great urgency.

But, back to season four. (Tune out now because there will be copius SPOILERS.) I thought everything started off with a real bang when we got to see Clark actually fly. (Yes!) And then the finale??? Sweet. Dorky me didn't realize that the elemental stones were going to result in the creation of the Fortress of Solitude. Now that was cool. I love Chloe's evolution, too--she's become more than just a biting faux-Lois Lane (or will she somehow turn out to be the real thing...?). As a matter of fact, everytime Chloe and Clark are on screen together, I'm very happy. When they're allowed to banter and work off of each other during "missions," the show spins into orbit. I also like the introduction of Lois Lane. Erica Durance has that flint and spark you'd expect of the character, and I hope the writers develop her accordingly.

While the payoff for the elemental stones ended with a bang (and the Fortress of Solitude), I can't say I loved everything else we had to go through with those darn stones--especially the whole Lana-possessed-by-a-witch thing. God. The only positive development in that storyline was the introduction of Jason and Genevieve Teague, the most lethal mother-son con team since THE GRIFTERS. Jason was just the guy to give Clark a run for his money with Lana, and Jenson Ackles brought some much-needed romantic chemistry to the program (though I'd guess that he would have chemistry with everything from the front door to a hamburger. He oozes chemistry.).

Unfortunately, I know that something MAJOR happens during season five--the death of a big character. I'm bummed that I've been spoiled, but it's not taking away my enjoyment of what's happening so far....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

TV report card: part two

Before we get into it...Happy Halloween! It bums me out that I live in a place where no trick or treaters dare roam (Seriously, I have no idea why that is.), but this is one of my favorite days of the year anyway. I hope you and yours have a great time today!

Now, for the "old" programs portion of the TV Report Card...

THE AMAZING RACE: By this time during every race, I can tell the partners apart—I know their names down cold. So why is it that I still have no idea who half the same-gender teams are? Nonetheless, I love that they’ve taken away that moronic lose-your-money-and-beg-it-back penalty for non-elimination legs. And since I’m a softie: go Cho Brothers!!! (NOTE: Since I've been "out of the loop" for a few days due to visitors, I haven't seen Sunday night's episode yet. If the Cho bros got eliminated, I'm going to be bummed.)

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Better than last year, but still…meh. The only storyline that interests me is Bree’s, but only because Andrew has come back and I don’t know if my sudden liking of him is wise.

PRISON BREAK: This season is even more preposterous than the last, and that’s saying something. The plot twists come every few seconds, it seems, so they’re not even surprising any more. And they’re so jaw-droppingly dopey sometimes that I feel myself getting emotionally disconnected from Hottie, Michael Scofield. I do not want this to happen! I want to root for Hottie! I like that Hottie feels bad about setting T-Bag loose on the world, but I don’t like that Agent Mahone turned out to be a meanie. We’ll see where this goes.

DANCING WITH THE STARS: There’ve been too many things happening for me to blog about DANCING this season, but let me just say that I’m floored by the level of competition right now. These last few installments are going to be highly entertaining, brought to you by some stars who are really committed and talented. I know Mario is amazing, but my heart is rooting for Emmitt Smith.

VERONICA MARS: Now, I’ve already blogged about one of the best programs on TV, so are you watching it? Please? The ratings are still in the basement, and I fear for VM. It’s smart, fast, engaging, and wonderful, with a father-daughter relationship that’ll make you laugh while it makes you go “awww.” It’s interesting that such a seemingly cynical heroine is capable of making a viewer do that. So watch…please???

NIP/TUCK: I do miss the pre-revelation Carver days. That mask was spooky, but I have to say that this whole urban-legend-innards-stealing plot is working pretty well. The show is still as crazy as ever, and I’m totally with it, even if it has officially become porno TV. I would be ashamed if I weren’t so fascinated.

AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL: I totally got sucked into it. Don’t ask me how. Why am I so wildly entertained by a competition in which sucking in your cheeks and striking blue steel at a camera is considered high art? It’s so sincere in its cheesiness that I find this to be somehow cool.

LOST: I still love this show and will give it as many opportunities as it takes to compel me again, but I’m finding that I don’t rush to the TV to watch it recently. Yikes. It feels like the urgency has gone out of it, and I have to say that every time it focuses on Sawyer and Kate I want to snooze off. There are high points, like the recycled Desmond and the promise of returning to the staple characters lingering back at camp, so I’m still a fan. And I still have faith in one of the best shows on TV.

TOP CHEF: This fulfills my cooking fantasies, and it’s just as engaging as PROJECT RUNWAY. I love that the cheftestants are all highly capable, and their creativity and talent absolutely stun me. And it makes me appreciate the irony of my sitting in front of the tube with nachos while things like Foo-foo pate topped with cilantro, jalapeno, and mango dazzles the judges.

SMALLVILLE: Can’t comment right now because I’m taping season six until I can catch up on DVD. Right now, I’m at the end of season four. Lana is still trying my patience, you all.

MY NAME IS EARL: Still laughing. Not much else to say besides that.

THE OFFICE: Weirdly enough, I’m not ticked off that Pam and Jim are separated. I’m finding it very interesting that Jim has found a sort of Pam substitute in his new office while Pam and Ryan showed hints of possibility during the name-that-tragic-movie scene the other week....

GREY’S ANATOMY: The love is still strong here, too. Though Meredith still bugs, I’m super happy that McSteamy is hanging around again, even though he is a slut. And who knew that Dr. Just-Montgomery-Now would become one of my faves? What happened there?

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: All right—all I can say about this is that if you aren’t watching it, you are missing out. Rent the previous seasons’ DVDs and catch up. This is a show that takes balls-out chances that pay off, and if you think you’d never be emotionally wrung out by a “space program,” you’re dead wrong. I can’t believe a show is this good.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

TV report card: part one

Time for a TV Report Card! I’ll be doing it in two parts, new shows, then old. So tune in later for the second section later, ‘kay?

The New

BROTHERS & SISTERS: I was ready to drop this one initially, but it’s picked up speed. I don’t love Sally Field’s mom—too mired in her self-righteousness to be in any way appealing to me—but I like everyone else. Even Ally McBeal isn’t grating on my nerves: I like the interaction between her and her political show’s costar. I’ll hang on for a while.

DEXTER: I shouldn’t like Dexter as much as I do. He’s a murderous sociopath, but the twist is that he kills other very bad people. He’s like Hannibal Lecter going after the “free range rude,” and I do like to see society’s trash taken out. I love how the show uses its Miami-area setting—it’s very natural and a part of the characters’ lives. And Dexter’s evolving relationship with Rita? Genius.

HEROES: Okay, you might’ve read my blog entry the other day about Hiro’s sword. That should tell you that I am way too concerned with this show. Now, I don’t think about it that much as I go about my everyday habits, but when it’s on, I’m totally hooked. HEROES has absolutely mastered the art of the cliffhanger, even though the characters’ superpowers are old-hat and mainly borrowed from back issues of the X-MEN. I enjoy seeing the characters coming together in a group though. Bottom line? You never know what to expect episode to episode, and that’s awesome.

JUSTICE: I’m wavering back and forth about dropping this show, too. I’m devoted to Victor Garber because of ALIAS, but I’m not buying that none of their accused clients are ever fully culpable. But the reason I know they’re not absolutely guilty is because of the show’s conceit: after the trial, there’s an unbiased, omniscient view of what actually happened. That’s the absolute best part for me, and I’m sticking around because of those few seconds.

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP: Very mixed feelings about this show, too. I do look forward to watching it, because…well, Matthew Perry. Plus, the dialogue is a culture-lover’s dream, and the pace is never lacking, even if the characters are involved with something I could care less about. But I totally buy that the comedy show within the show is real because of the convincing behind-the-scenes action, even if the sketches aren’t at all funny. And I do feel a bit preached at week by week, but clever dialogue wins me over every time. I keep hearing this show won’t make it to next season, but I’m sticking with it anyway.

30 ROCK: Alec Baldwin. Hilarious. That’s all.

THE NINE: Some people say this show is slow-moving, but I’m utterly transfixed by what happened inside that bank during the robbery. I like how all the hostages have bonded—they’re an odd, touching family. I hope this show makes it to the end of the season, because I’m hearing rumblings about cancellation here, too.

UGLY BETTY: This might be my favorite new show. I love, love, love Betty’s spunk, and it’s interesting how her worst Mode enemies are coming around to appreciating her. I also like the respect she’s earned from her boss, a playboy who’s painfully aware that he needs to change his ways. And Betty’s fashion-and-musical-loving nephew is the best. They should totally make him the Doogy Howser of Mode so he can work there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hiro's sword

Yeah, that sounds lovely, doesn't it? But before I do a TV Report Card for this season, I wanted to write about this majorly cuckoo dream I had the other night.

Now, just a note. I used to keep a dream diary. I don't anymore--I'm busy enough writing stuff and sometimes I get up in the middle of the night anyway to scratch down notes about what's waking me up--but when I look back at my old dream diary, I kind of miss doing it. During my journaling, I even went as far as to do research about what the dream symbolism meant. I read Jung and that's why I know that my animus is active, but that's a whole other story. In fact, it'll probably be a book one day.

At any rate, this dream I had the other night is worthy of a diary entry. I had watched HEROES a little earlier, and I guess it set me off for some reason. You know how that show has absolutely killer cliffhangers? Well, the one this week was far less thrilling than usual (whereas the one the week before was incredibly cool, with a character named Hiro visiting from the future where he has become this ultra bad- ass samurai dude). As I floated off to sleep, I kept thinking, "Did I miss something in this week's ending that should be *making* it a bitchin' cliffhanger? What did I miss then?"

I guess my brain got to work on decoding whatever it was that I "missed." I remember waking up, startled, to see an image on my far wall: it looked like a wicked samurai sword. I kid you not. And I remember thinking in sleep-addled fuzz: "What does this mean? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN???" I kept waking up to that image.

Ultimately, I have no idea what it means, and don't you dare think it's Freudian. Just because it's a sword....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

OOTB book tour: HEARTQUEST


Here's another winner from Robin D. Owens! If you drop by outoftheblogosphere's blog party (which is still ongoing), you'll see some of her posts! Whatcha waiting for?

Robin D. Owens is an absolutely sensational storyteller. -- The Romance Reader

Somewhere in Druida City of Celta, Trif Clover has a HeartMate. Impatient to meet him, she's actually going door-to-door with her charmkey to find him. What she doesn't know is that he has already found her. Guardsman Ilex Winterberry knows Trif is his HeartMate, but has reasons of his own -- and for her own good -- to keep to the shadows of her life. But there's a killer on the loose, stalking those with unstable psi power like Trif's. Facing his most difficult task yet, Ilex must reveal the truth of their destiny or leave Trif vulnerable to a vicious murderer...

Excerpt: http://www.robindowens.com/images/01HQ.pdf


Cover: http://www.robindowens.com/images/HeartQuest.jpg

My Blog:
http://robindowens.blogspot.com/2006/09/heart-quest-is-out.html

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just an update

I love the time following the completion of a big project. Other ideas begin to creep up on me during random times (like when I'm having a conversation or just taking a walk). And, although I do have work to get done, the mini-projects don't seem as end-of-the-world pressing as a 400+ page book.

Since turning in BREAK OF DAWN, Book Three of Vampire Babylon, I've been allowing some ideas to "marinate." I've also been gearing up to write a synopsis for the latest Special Edition I sold--a Montana Mavericks continuity book. You guys know what continuity books are: the house contracts, in this instance, six authors to write six books about six different couples who are connected by the same premise. It's like a soap opera, but with each episode exploring a new romance. At the same time, though, a bigger, connecting story is developed all the way through to the last novel. Fans love these series books; heck, I love them, too, and the beauty is that they come out one month after the other. You never have long to wait with a continuity. My book is going to be about two high school friends who find each other. Right now, it's called THE BEST MAN and it takes place in Montana, of course. I'm looking forward to fleshing out the characters I was given.

After that, I'm going to revise a "futuristic western paranormal" that I started before I dove into BREAK OF DAWN. I haven't seen the three chapters and synopsis since I wrote them months ago, and I love that. Rarely do I get the Stephen King-esque luxury of stepping back from raw work and coming back to it with a really fresh eye. I'm lucky if I get a week, usually.

Then, I'm going to attack my vampire Blaze, THE ULTIMATE BITE, which I'll talk about in later blogs. But you know what? Last night I had an idea for another "atmospheric thriller," like BAITED. It doesn't take place on a yacht or an island--I have in mind more of a SHINING-type mansion in the mountains--but it's a creeped-out whodunit. I want to start on *this* project right now, but I have to get that Montana Mavericks synopsis done! Aye. What to do?

Oh, and did I mention that I'm writing the lead article for the Orange County RWA chapter's newsletter soon? It's due in three weeks, and it'll be about what an author does when her/his book line closes. With the shut down of Bombshell, this is close to my heart, and I know my fellow authors are going to have a lot to contribute, too!

Anyway, onward. Here I go with a bunch of exciting new things. I'm so lucky to be a writer!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chat tonight at The Knight Agency site!

Besides the ongoing outoftheblogosphere party, you can also chat away tonight at The Knight Agency site, where I'll be the chat guest. It starts at 9pm Eastern Time, but I've already posted a blog. I'm reposting here, so you'll get the content; however, to get to the chat itself tonight, click here.

Hope to see you!

From The Knight Agency blog:

“I can’t believe you write dark stuff.”

Hello, my name is Chris Marie Green, and I use the fairly innocuous name of Crystal Green as a nom de plume, as well. I'm the gal smiling as I chat with people at parties. I'm the guest wearing a light dress and holding a foo-foo drink. I'm also the writer who's been the recipient of the opening comment many, many times. Maybe it's because people just don’t expect a gal who also tells stories for Silhouette Special Edition to have a twilight alter ego. Most find it hard to believe that I’ve written about a vampire huntress who ends up making the ultimate sacrifice for the man she loves at the end of the tale (THE HUNTRESS, Bombshell, 2005). Or that I just came out with a graphic murder whodunit (BAITED, Bombshell, and it’s on shelves now, you all!).

Crime? Mayhem? Wait until they read my upcoming Vampire Babylon series!

How did I develop a dark side? I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with my inability to fall asleep unless covers are swaddled around my neck—I got that from seeing a clip from NOSFERATU when I was little. But the hints were always there, even though I couldn’t stand the sight of blood on a movie screen until high school, when I watched FRIDAY THE 13th for the first time. Years later, I got the idea for THE HUNTRESS. I loved writing it, although it didn’t necessarily jive with my Special Edition—or Blaze—careers. Still, I had so much fun that I developed a bigger idea, one that couldn’t be told during the course of a single book. I needed a trilogy.

And that’s when Ace bought my Vampire Babylon series (NIGHT RISING is pictured above.). Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to Hollywood—after dark…

Stuntwoman Dawn Madison is a girl with a lot of attitude—and a lot of issues, mostly about living up to the legacy of her mother, a world famous movie star/sex symbol, whose untimely death left Dawn to be raised by her dad Frank, nobody’s notion of single-father-of-the-year. Now that she’s all grown up, she and Frank aren’t on the best of terms, to say the least.

Still, he is her dad, and when he vanishes while investigating the bizarre sighting—caught on film—of a supposedly long-dead child star, she comes home to Tinseltown to join the search for him. Working with his colleagues—a psychic short in stature but big in dreams of stardom, a beautiful Latina techno-geek, and the P. I. firm’s never-seen boss—she discovers an erotic and bloody underground society made up of creatures she thought existed only on the screen.

They are devious. They are deadly. And some of them are dangerously attractive…

I’ve been having an extra good time with this series because not only are these noir-fantasy novels about vampires, they include mysteries, too. And I continued my whodunit fascination with BAITED, which is about a pseudo-Pearl Diver who ends up on a deserted island where there’s a killer on the loose; she must rise to the occasion and track the culprit. (To see a video teaser for the book, click here. It's cool!)

Outside of writing, I'm well behaved, so I hope you come to the chat tonight, where we can talk all about romance, fangs, and thrillers! (And there’ll be a prize or two, as well. My light side demands it!) You can also check out my work at www.crystal-green.com or www.vampirebabylon.com. Hope to see you tonight!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The blog party continues

Over at outoftheblogosphere, the party is still raging on! Yesterday, we all had fun talking about scary movies and also just generally chatting about the writing life. Michelle Rowan and Mari Mancusi were also hosting the festivities. I gave away a couple of books to Kathleen and Jennifer Y. It was really a good time all around, and you can get in on the action today. I know PC Cast and Shannon McCeldon are already partying away, and it's still early. You can still bop on over to see who else will be showing up....

http://www.outoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com/


BTW, I want to remind you that I'll be guest blogging and also doing a chat over at The Knight Agency web site tomorrow. The blog will go up in the morning, but the chat will start at 9pm Eastern Time. Check The Knight Agency site for more details, but I'll be posting a direct link to the blog and chat tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blog par-tay!

If you drop over to the Outoftheblogosphere site today, I'm blogging and giving away a couple of books. Remember, this party is going on for the rest of this business week and next week, and you could end up winning books from a bunch of paranormal authors! Here's the link:

http://www.outoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com/

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Party at outoftheblogosphere!

Now I know you guys like to win prizes. I know you like to discover new books, too. And as far as mingling with authors and other readers? I'm going to guess you're up for that.

Over at http://www.outoftheblogosphere.blogspot.com/ there's a blog party going on, and you're invited. Simply click on the above link to get there. For the next two weeks you'll find blogs from three different authors every day (I'm blogging tomorrow.), and there'll be prizes up for grabs every so often, so you'll have to be on your toes.

Here are some of the bloggers:

Catherine Spangler
Cheyenne McCray
CJ Barry
Crystal Green
Deidre Knight
Gena Showalter
Jaci Burton
Jennifer St. Giles
Julie Kenner
Leigh Wyndfield
Lucy Monroe
Marianne Mancusi
Michelle Rowen
Nalini Singh
PC Cast
Rebecca York
Robin D. Owens
Shanna Swendson
Shannon McKelden
Susan Grant
Susan Kearney
Sylvia Day
Vivi Anna


Not a bad line up, huh? I hope to see you there, partying like a mad dog.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Freaky movies for a freaky day

Here's the blog I wrote for The Midnight Hour site. It got pubbed yesterday, so the date references will be off. But there are sure to be scary movie marathons for the rest of the weekend somewhere, right? Also, you can find longer reviews for most of these flicks in the Crystal Says... archives. Enjoy!

Happy Friday the 13th! Or… Hey, is this supposed to be a day where I’m using exclamation points or not?

For me, any holiday that has something to do with being scared or thrown off balance is something to appreciate, no matter the origins. Halloween, Friday the 13th, April Fool’s Day—give all of them to super-shallow me. I am a writer and reader of the morbid, as evidenced by the Vampire Babylon series I’m writing for Ace/Berkley, as well as the thriller I have on the shelves this month (BAITED, plug, plug). I love stirring up nightmares in my head, until it’s actually time to have them, of course. And I love a cold, shivery night when rain pelts against the window while I’m safe inside with a scary blood-pumper of a book. I love being frightened.

So give me the macabre celebrations, the reasons to gather with friends while dressed in costume…the freaky movie marathons that keep me in front of the TV for hours!

Since it’s Friday the 13th and many a marathon will no doubt be gracing your tube, too, I thought I’d toss out six of my favorite creeper flicks. I’m choosing six because I’m on deadline and that’s all I can think of at the moment. Besides, this blog can’t be WAR AND PEACE (though it’s close). And even though this is a paranormal site, not all of these films fit this exact category. But if you love things that go bump in the night as much as I do, I think there’ll nevertheless be some entries here that you’ll enjoy.

And now…counting down from what I perceive to be the least paranormal movie to the most, here are the six flicks that freak me out like no others.

1. PSYCHO
Nowadays, some don’t consider this movie to be all that terrifying, but this was the film that put me on the path to writing about murder and mayhem. I was in sixth grade when I visited Universal Studios and witnessed that house. My mind took over from there and, ever since seeing the film, I’ve never been able to get over Norman Bates’ Mother voice or Mother smile. (Do you remember that image near the end when Mother’s skull is superimposed over Norman’s face??? You know what? I just gave myself the willies.) Oh, and this is the movie that made me frightened of men in wigs. That is totally going to be in one of my books someday.

2. DRESSED TO KILL
Sense a connection between this and PSYCHO? Yes, men in wigs. Men who kill while wearing wigs. While director Brian De Palma might pay great homage to Hitchcock in this bloody, wild flick, he sure knows how to wield his own vision during the big pay off revelation-of-the-killer scene.

3. SLEEPAWAY CAMP
I cannot believe I’m telling you that this is one of the six movies that gets to me the most. If you’re a horror fan, you know about SC: it has a cult following, and its fans will swear until their dying days that it’s not just a FRIDAY the 13th rip off. Yes, it takes place at summer camp, but the little monsters running around are quite human: they’re actual teens. They’re ferocious creatures, wounding each other with words and mean practical jokes. It’s probably a lot like your own junior-high days. And when it comes to the slash-by-number murders? Creative, and quite, quite sick. But the reason SC is on my list is because of the surreal, shocking ending. The image of the revealed killer haunts my mind some nights.

4. FRIDAY the 13th
How could I not go here today? Oddly enough, this is the first entry that actually has a touch of the paranormal, at least as far as the series goes. How else does the murderer Jason Voorhees manage to come back to life so many times? But I’m talking about the first F13 here—not any of the sequels (even though number two is always good for lots of tension). Start with a murderous prologue where two counselors get it while they’re fooling around, add a stretch of eerie build-up so we’re actually wondering whodunit, and end with chilling action, and you’ve got a solid murder mystery that stands above most slasher flicks.

5. SESSION 9
I’m pretty sure a lot of you have never heard of this gem—you can rent it on DVD, and I highly recommend it if you love creepy psychological thrillers. It does utilize the “slow build” model of storytelling, but the spooky atmosphere is stiflingly effective. In this flick, a team has been hired to replace asbestos in an abandoned mental hospital and, during their stay, a malevolent force permeates their ranks. Is it a supernatural presence or something more human? The ending packs a huge emotional punch, elevating SESSION 9 to the stuff of Greek tragedy. Also, the final sounds still freak me out if I let myself remember them.

And, finally…

6. DON’T LOOK NOW
This is another slow-build psychological mind game, and it’s known to be a slightly “arty” horror movie. When a man and his wife lose their daughter, they attempt to rebuild their marriage in Venice, where he has taken a job. While there, the husband becomes aware of a serial killer stalking the canals. DLN has the ending: I first saw it one late night, and I got so mentally assaulted that I couldn’t sleep for at least a week afterward. The imagery is what got to me, as well as the ironic tragedy. I’ve found that there are two types of polarizing reactions to this movie: those who find DLN boring and dopey and, those like me, who feel something primal invading them at the movie’s end. Whatever you’re feeling, you’ll probably find Venice scarier than all get out, with every wind-blown curtain hiding another horror story behind its cover.

Runners up? NOSFERATU, BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN, BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Hey, I actually could’ve had a top ten. And I’ll probably think of a million things I should’ve written about tomorrow.

But I’ll catch those movies at Halloween.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Midnight Hour

I'm only popping in to remind you all that my guest blog entry is up at The Midnight Hour. If you want to post your top freaky movies in the comment section, we'd all love to see what they are!

Happy Friday the 13th.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reminder about tonight's live chat

If anyone wants to keep me company tonight at the Noveltalk chat (please do--I'll probably be all by my lonesome!), here are the details as well as a quick link:

October 12 at 9pm eastern time. Click here to get to the site: http://www.noveltalk.com/chat/chat.htm


And I would love it if any of you wants to stop by The Midnight Hour tomorrow. I'm guest blogging about my top six (yeah, six, LOL) freakiest movies since it's Friday the 13th. If you'd like to read it and even comment, that'd be great! Click here for the link: http://www.themidnighthour.net

And just a reminder: I'll be doing a Knight Agency site chat on October 19. The site offers information, but I'll be blogging the exact time, plus posting a link soon to make access easier.

Hope to see some of you tonight! There'll be a couple of prizes....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

VERNONICA MARS--watch reminder!

It's time for my seasonly VERONICA MARS nagging message. Yup--I'm here to remind you to watch it tonight on the CW. Sorry I didn't get around to my neverending rah-rahs last week for the season premiere, but I'm doing it today, Tuesday, so you'll tune in and help boost the ratings for this woefully underwatched show.

Last season, I provided a list regarding the reasons you should be watching VM, which basically has the updated noirish feel of a forties detective flick, mixed with the biting dialogue of a Hepburn/Grant movie. As a heroine, Veronica is wily yet occasionally vulnerable, tough-skinned yet soft-hearted. And she slings some of the best one-liners you will ever hear.

I won't go into the same list for this season, but I will tell you why I'm excited about this third go around with Veronica. The action has moved from high school to college, and this gives our girl a chance to make new enemies. Her interaction with and disdain of the collegiate status quo are refreshing--she's cool enough to be an insider, yet she wears her outsider ranking like a badge (mainly to piss people off). Also, this year's rape-on-campus long-range mystery looks to be compelling.

If you're afraid to tune in because you think you're not going to understand what's going on, don't worry. You'll get it. There are a bunch of new characters being introduced, so even us old timers are feeling a bit like newbies. Now's the perfect time to discover this awesome show. Please watch, because I don't want one of my biggest viewing pleasures to be cancelled. 'kay?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Time for tea

One of the best things in life is tea, whether it be a nice, warm cup of vanilla-flavored, violet-tinged Lovergirl at Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego or a high tea with Earl Grey in England's York. I. Love. Tea.

I was reminded of this when I recently went to Mrs. Burton's Tea House in Heritage Park at San Diego's Old Town. In a Victorian home, high tea is served on a veranda or in one of the frilly rooms. The service isn't complete without the first step: donning a stylish hat from one of the waiting multitudes downstairs and swishing on a feather boa to complete the outfit. You get your picture taken with your friends, and then it's off to the table for a Peach Caramel pot of brew, accompanied by lots of goodies. Among them are scones with clotted cream and lemon curd and, my favorite, finger sandwiches. OMG, finger sandwiches. Mrs. Burton's features the best: sun-dried tomato paste, cucumber (of course), and an awesome carrot/peanut/honey spread. That's just the beginning, because you also get brownies, lemon cake, and fruit.

With good company and conversation, it's a peaceful afternoon. A time to smell the roses in Mrs. Burton's garden. A time to just relax....

Friday, October 06, 2006

The ELEKTRA angle

I’ve told you before that I read comic books. I’m into everything from the slam-bam WITCHBLADE to the literary PROMETHEA to traditional iconic stories like BATMAN and SUPERMAN. Since I occasionally save a series until I can read a bunch of issues back-to-back, that’s why I’m just now writing about the Marvel Knights rendition of ELEKTRA, which stopped at issue #35.

Elektra is one of my favorites. Really, I’m drawn to a lot of strong female characters—I wrote Bombshells, so there you go—and Elektra is a great Bombshell. However, she’s actually got a much harder edge than a lot of heroines you’ll encounter, except maybe for Anita Blake. I find her especially interesting because she’s a popular figure, and I would think she’d be much more polarizing.

As a form of illustrating that, let’s start with the movie depiction of Elektra in DAREDEVIL and then the eponymous movie. She was one of the best things in DAREDEVIL—it featured her doomed romance with the hero as well as an Elektra “big moment”: her death and resurrection. While Jennifer Garner played her tough, there was a definite vulnerability and humanity to Elektra, and it was appealing for a mainstream audience.

That’s not how the Marvel Knights series goes, although I’ve read issues in which Elektra does have that softer side in other stories.

But we’ll get to that in a sec. Let’s look at the movie ELEKTRA. It was actually a lot closer to the Marvel Knights character: an emotionally shut-down, ethically challenged warrior ninja woman who’s a stone-cold mercenary. The movie did not do well either commercially or critically, and I think it’s because of more than just the movie’s suckitude. Bad movies often do well at the box office, so why not this one? I’m not sure audiences could connect with the colder version of this heroine, and while the movie went halfway toward depicting the redemptive killer who is the Marvel Knights Elektra, it didn’t go full throttle. It shut us out in a lot of ways, and unlike other Marvel enigmas like Wolverine, Elektra didn’t show a great deal of to-the-heart emotion that audiences linked to. Yeah, she rescued a girl, but that was all plot, not characterization.

Now, the Marvel Knights Elektra is a frosty bee-yotch who has a real neat arc. She is the last person you would ever want to have on your tail. She is SCARY, because when she’s hired for a wipe-out job, she damned well completes it. There’s a great issue (#23—“The Mark”) that’s told from the POV of one of her victims. It’s awesome. He’s been running from Elektra for a while, and he tells this weary story in which we see how he’s come to accept finally being caught by her. While he drones on, we see flashes of her creeping closer and closer to him, leaving a trail of blood behind. Unlike the ELEKTRA movie, this issue made me respect her abilities and root for her to balance her inner monster with the more ethical motives of an avenging angel. The Marvel Knights series shows us a lot of character growth—she learns to take jobs based on how they will affect humankind—and I found that fascinating.

So just a comment: if you’re going to miss Bombshell come February, you might want to check out your local comic store. There are some great stories out there, like ELEKTRA or WITCHBLADE or PROMETHEA. It’s exciting to know that tough yet relatable female protagonists are out there, even if Bombshell didn’t fly as it should have.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

OOTB book tour: SEDUCED BY MAGIC


Before I go into the meat of this, I want to announce last month's contest winner. Congrats to Zoe Hunter Lee, who has a very cool page on myspace!

Now, here's the featured book from the blog tour for OutoftheBlogsphere. It's been a while since one has come my way, so I'm really happy to see this. And the cover...don't you love it? For me, the church in the background has a Salem-type feel while the foreground is intriguing....




SEDUCED BY MAGIC by Cheyenne McCray
(St. Martin’s; October 3, 2006)

DESIRE
Copper Ashcroft is an accomplished D'Anu witch, but the magic she wields is a potent force—strong enough to hurl her into a mysterious Otherworld when a spell backfires. Before Copper can escape, another being is pulled into her realm—Tiernan, a powerfully virile Tuatha D'Danann warrior. Blond, blue-eyed, and shamelessly seductive, Tiernan could be Copper's savior…and his touch sets her body on fire.

DUTY
Like others of his kind, Tiernan stands alongside the D'Anu witches to battle the demons of the Underworld. Obligation to his cause and his people cautions against any entanglement with Copper, yet each second spent with this beautiful, uninhibited woman stirs an insatiable hunger. Desire explodes into carnal bliss, but the visions that haunt Copper's dreams are growing stronger, and they foretell a terrifying evil waiting to be unleashed…

DESTINY
Saving the city will take more than brute strength…more than witchcraft. Only together can Copper and Tiernan find a way to overcome the dark forces—and seize a passion that has bewitched them both..


Excerpt:
http://www.cheyennemccray.com/books/magicseries/seduced-exc.htm

Cover:
http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/11340000/11344383.jpg



ABOUT CHEYENNE MCCRAY
Cheyenne McCray is the award-winning author of sixteen books and six novellas. Among other accolades, Chey has been presented with the prestigious Romantic Times BOOKclub's Reviewers' Choice Award for "Best Erotic Romance of the Year."

Chey has been writing ever since she can remember, back to her kindergarten days when she penned her first poem. She always knew one day she would write novels, hoping her readers would get lost in the worlds she created, as she did when she was lost in a good book. Cheyenne enjoys spending time with her husband and three sons, traveling, and of course writing, writing, writing.


REVIEWS

Her latest precious magical Ashcroft saga is a delightful torrid tale headed by a strong lead couple and supported ably by a horde of bad dudes. Fans who appreciate a strong fantasy will want to read the magnificent McCray mythos – Harriet Klausner

Website: http://www.cheyennemccray.com