Monday, July 24, 2006

The next adventure....

Just because I'm back from Comic-Con doesn't mean I'm done braving the masses. Now I'm off to Atlanta for the National RWA conference. While there, I get to attend a big old barbecue soiree for the 10th Anniversary of The Knight Agency (Yea!). Then I'm going to attempt to go horseback riding with my Blaze editor, Brenda Chin, and a few other authors. (I know--you think we're crazy to be riding during an Atlanta heat wave. You're probably right.) That night, I'll be signing at the massive Literacy Event at the hotel, along with about 500 other authors (!). After the conference itself, I'll be toodling over to Savannah for some inspiration. Heck, I'll only be four hours away, so why not take one or two days to see a place that's known for its beauty and history?

Then it's time for some serious vampire writing again....

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Comic-Con: Day 3

Another busy day at the Con. Mostly, I stuck to TV presentations after doing some shopping on “the floor,” so I missed the SPIDER-MAN 3 panel. I’m not happy about that since I know most of the stars showed up and they had some great clips (go to www.aintitcoolnews.com ). Also, I look forward to seeing Kevin Smith every single year, but he was held up by traffic and couldn’t “perform” until 6:30 this time out. I was already on my way home, so that was a bust. Wah.

But I had fun nonetheless. I told you I’d be going to the LOST panel, and I did. As you can guess, it was a pretty tight-lipped affair as far as spoilers go, but there were a few interesting tidbits from Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and Bryan Burk. Hurley and Jin were also there, and I have to tell you that Jin is all kinds of hot in person. Some quick notes about the discussion:

· Coming soon, there’ll be “LOST Diaries” available for downloading from Verizon. These will be two-minute original supplements.
· For those of you who are worried that the LOST writers are making it up as they go along: Lindelof said that they “never ask a question on the show without knowing the answer.” They kept promising that this won’t be another X-FILES fiasco. Actually, they’ve already planned the final episode.
· The writers really do listen to fan feedback; we’re a barometer for pacing.
· This next season’s episodes are being designed in more of a miniseries format to accommodate the new “pod” scheduling. What this means is that ABC decided to give us a “pod” or a bulk of episodes all at once, then take a break, then come back with another bunch. In short, we won’t get all those momentum-breaking repeats. The writers will be formatting the stories so that they arc by the time one break comes around; a new arc will begin with the next “pod” of episodes.
· Season 3 will be different than previous ones in tone and action. In fact, each season begins with a “new pilot,” the writers say. Where the first season was about establishing the main characters, the second season was darker with the addition of the “tailies.” The third season is supposed to be “more relationship-based,” meaning we’re going to see some big romance…. SPOILER: within the first six episodes, Kate will officially “make her selection” and “get with” someone.
· When we saw Liby in Hurley’s mental institution, this was a “VERY significant carrot that was dangled” in front of the viewers.
· The writers have planned four to five seasons of LOST, and they hope that ABC won’t make them drag it out for longer, though that could always happen if the series stays as successful as it’s been.

Some of the most interesting moments came when the writers refuted some of the theories going around. Here are some definite “no”s:

· Rose and Bernard do not work for Dharma.
· The word “clones” will never be used on this series; hence, none of the characters were cloned before the plane crashed. (Um…okay.)
· The black-smoke monster is not a cloud of nanobots (What the…?)

Seriously, you guys should’ve heard some of the questions being asked. Totally out there. The most surreal moment arrived when a woman came up to the Q&A microphone to start spouting off about the Hanso Foundation. At first, I thought she was just joking around, saying, “HAVE YOU NO SHAME???” The writers were taken aback. “I’ve got a little shame,” Cuse said sheepishly, looking as if he had no idea where this was going. Then she started yelling at them because the Hanso Foundation is real and LOST is covertly supporting it by featuring it in its plotlines. “YOU’VE GOT BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!!!” she bellowed. “I’M RACHEL BLAKE AND I EXIST!!!” Everyone was pretty confused. Was she a plant from the producers? Was she a fan who was just having a little too much fun? Or was Rachel Blake a complete nutter?
It was a tad uncomfortable.

After that head scratcher, I went to the panel for GRINDHOUSE, which is the new project from Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez. In case you haven’t heard, these guys, who’ve partnered up before during projects like FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN, loooove seventies flicks. It was natural, then, that they decided to do their own warped take on those gritty, cheap horror exploitation films from that era. The concept they came up with was to each create an hour-long scary movie, and they would be connected by fake movie trailers that paid homage to the genre. As it happens, both directors wrote scripts for full-length feature films, and it’ll be a literal double feature linked by these faux-trailers. Robert Rodriguez has already started to film his flick—a zombie movie. He even showed a clip, and, my God, the audience lapped it up. It was disgusting, hilarious, and genius.
If you have any memories of the seventies at all, you might remember going to the drive in and seeing that trippy, fluorescent-colored “prevue” coming attraction announcement framed by funky music. Well, that’s how the clip started out, and it set the tone perfectly. Then a series of scratches filled the screen; we were transported back to the days of bad projecting and cruddy prints that a second-run filmhouse would show. Then…the clips. Like any Rodriguez film, it was filled with gore—but, hey, this is a zombie movie. And it’s a zombie flick like no other. The best part came when Rose McGowan is in a hospital bed screaming at her boyfriend that her leg has been cut off. With a determined look, he rushes over to a table, rips off a wooden leg, then attaches it to her stump. “There’s your leg,” he says (paraphrased), pulling her out into the hallway where they decimate some zombies while escaping outside. And then comes the crazy part: eventually, the boyfriend attaches a machine gun to her stump and, while he rides around on his motor cycle, she guns down zombies with her rat-a-tat leg. You will have to see this to believe it. The viewers were going NUTS. Quentin hasn’t started on his own movie yet, a slasher pic, but he just signed the serial killer last night. Kurt Russell! This film is going to be huge and odd and just as in-your-face as any other project these two have created. Can’t wait for April, 2007. As a bonus, Quentin T. is off his rocker, and with his every word, he sweeps you into his pure passion for storytelling and film. Rodriguez is a wonderful, well-balanced foil for his friend. It was a great panel, especially because Zoe Bell was on it (Eee! Zoe is a stunt woman, and I used her as a partial model for my NIGHT RISING heroine, Dawn Madison. I wanted to ask Zoe a question so badly, but I chickened out.).

Lastly, I went to the VERONICA MARS presentation, where just about everyone in the cast was present, including Dick Casablancas. Heh! That was awesome. Heck, all the actors, plus creator Rob Thomas, were so very cool. Now, I’ve said a thousand times that this is a show I wish everyone were watching and, luckily, you’ll have a great chance to enter easily into the MARS world come fall, because the show will be designed to attract newcomers. Like LOST, it’s going to use the “pod” scheduling method, which will allow Veronica to solve a few mysteries instead of one long, ongoing one; this way, viewers will have several “entry points” into the story, and it won’t take them long to catch up with what’s been going on. In fact, since VM has moved to the new CW Network, the big wigs are expecting this program to be a nice companion piece to THE GILMORE GIRLS. Many audience members were afraid that this would cut into VM’s edgy storylines, but Rob Thomas seems to be slightly unconcerned. Also like LOST, everyone was tight-lipped about next season’s spoilers. However, the cast got along so well with each other on stage that it was pure joy to be around them. I dearly adore this show, and I hope it attracts an army of new viewers.

Tomorrow at the Con is shopping day, devoted exclusively to “the floor.” So…. Another year gone. I can’t believe it. But I’m already excited for the next go around….

Friday, July 21, 2006

A real Comic-Con report

So here’s just a thumbnail report of what I’ve experienced so far at Comic-Con, the world’s largest gathering of pop cultural enthusiasts. For another look at what’s going on, check out www.aintitcool.news.com because they have very recent reports about what their own guy is attending.

In the meantime, here we go with my own version….

Thursday
Up until a year ago, this was my favorite day at the Con. Sure, I love the recently added movie-pedaling panels with all their star dazzle and surprise announcements—don’t get me wrong—but Thursdays were always about experiencing the smaller pleasures of Comic-Con. There used to be no lines, and there was a sense of anticipation in the comic workshops and cult horror movie presentations. Now the bigger guys are creeping in to take the places of those panels—panels, for instance, that used to feature things like all the actors who’ve played Jason in the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. That stuff is fun, but I’m afraid those topics are going to be extinct. Sad.

But a favorite Thursday panel of mine is still intact. It was more crowded than usual (let’s just say that, in the late ‘90s, the Con had about 30,000 people attending; last year, it grew to over 100,000). However, the humor and dish in the CFQ/GEEK MONTHLY Movie Preview remains the same. Here, a panel offers gossip about movie and TV releases with a bit of snark. This year, they chatted about the movie that’s bound to leave a mark on the Con—SNAKES ON A PLANE. (I’m totally going to see it. You know you are, too. I missed tonight’s presentation though, and that bums me out.)

Now, with that information out of the way, I give you some gossipy bullet points from the panel about a few movies and TV projects. Close your eyes and move ahead if you want to avoid any sort of spoilers:

· For SNAKES ON A PLANE, there were reshoots that included more jokey dialogue and action after the makers realized that the audience wasn’t going to buy a straight drama about snakes on a plane. (BTW, every time I say or think of that title, I crack up. It never gets old.)
· For 24’s next season, it’s been hinted that Dwayne Palmer, David Palmer’s brother, will be president. Doooh!
· On LOST, there’s a rumor going around that Rose is Walt’s grandma. We’ll see if I can get more information about this tomorrow, if I manage to get into the LOST panel.
· On BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, truly one of the best programs on the tube, word is that a guest star from the defunct ALIAS will be making an appearance. They’ll play someone from Adama’s past. Also, a fairly major character will die, and we’ll find out what happened during that finale’s time jump. (Scroll down to Friday for more on BATTLESTAR—I went to that panel.)
· For those PROJECT GREENLIGHT fans out there, it sounds like there’ll be no more seasons since it got poor ratings on Bravo. However, FEAST might finally be out in October…or December…or January… Yeesh.

They also showed clips from two animated movies—both extremely interesting. RENAISSANCE uses black and white animation to tell a film-noir action story set in the future. BROKEN SAINTS, which was a Web comic book done in flash animation, is coming to DVD. Both look crazy, but in a great way.

Lastly, there’s mixed buzz on the new fall series HEROES. Personally, I can’t wait for this story about normal people who discover they have superhero powers. One panel guy said it was really cool while the others noted some plot problems. Still, they said it has lots of potential, with its UNBREAKABLE meets LOST premise. Sounds good to me.

After the CFQ panel, I was compelled to go to the ASPEN workshop. ASPEN is a publishing house that puts out titles like FATHOM and SOULFIRE. I’m a huge Michael Turner fan; he’s an amazing penciler and storyteller. It was great to see him looking relatively healthy after a few recent surgeries. Furthermore, I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between the employees while “meeting” them at the same time.

Then came one of those “big guy” presentations I was talking about; you know, the usurpers of what used to be my lovely Thursdays. Lionsgate Studios specializes in horror flicks, so I had to go see this program, even if I was ticked off about their Goliath asses encroaching on my peaceful schedule. At any rate, at the Con, when a movie studio makes a presentation, it’s a lot like a live informercial, with movie stars, directors, producers, and publicists on hand to persuade you to buy their product. Here are a few details about the Lionsgate slate of movie clips and presentations:

· SKINWALKERS: This is a film most notable for the involvement of Stan Winston, who designed remarkable creatures such as the ALIEN monsters. The man is a genius. And I’m excited about this movie, which comes out in early 2007, because it’s about werewolves. Now, when’s the last time you saw a good werewolf movie? THE HOWLING? (Um, I’m talking about the first one, because the rest were…not so good?) The thing that impressed me about what Stan said here is that he’s humanizing the creatures, really taking care to offer lots of characterization. Also, there will be no digital creatures! I love that, so I’ll say it again—no digital creatures! I don’t know what he has in mind, but he’s promised something different. The clip he brought was pretty intense, featuring what looked to be a “nice guy” pack in human form before the full moon rises. A man was strapping them to the rafters of a cabin’s cellar, most likely to keep them from going out and killing. Then the bad werewolf people attack because they’re looking for some little McGuffin boy and they think the good werewolves know where the plot-tot is. I’m looking forward to this.
· CRANK: All you need to know is that this stars Jason Statham, who’s, like, the British bad-ass of the moment. The audience was really into him and the clip, but I’m not so sure about my own reaction. It’s not my favorite kind of flick, but it has a good premise: a hitman is injected with something that will kill him unless he can find the antidote within 90 minutes. Action ensues. In the clip, there were a few funny-ucky moments, including a part where Statham chops off this dude’s hand, then out of necessity, picks up the cut appendage since it’s still clutching a gun and uses the weapon to kill another dude. Gives new meaning to the word “handgun.” Snerk, snerk. Anyway…my choice for a DVD showing.
· Next they showed a clip of THE DESCENT, which I’m totally going to see. Basically, you’ve got a bunch of women exploring a cave when things go to hell in a handbasket. It seems like there’s a high level of suspense and claustrophobia. Eek! And there was a slight, startling glimpse of a “cave monster,” and it looked like one of those pale batboys you might see in a nightmare. (Or is it just me who has those dreams?)
· Lastly, we got a taste of SAW III. The requisite clip of gore was shown, featuring one of Jigsaw’s demented traps. This one involved a guy whose skin is fastened to hooks; this means he can’t move in order to disable a bomb that’ll kill him…unless he chooses to harm himself by tearing away from the hooks. The audience loved it. Basically, it’s the same old same old.

The final workshop I attended Thursday was about THE TRIPPER, David Arquette’s directorial debut. He showed up in all his glory—full of stoner/nerdy charm and jokes—but the only thing missing was a movie clip. He lost it on the way to the Con. I kid you not. Even so, he was endearing, but I didn’t stay for the whole thing. Maybe they found the tape and I missed out.

So as Thursday drew to a close I went home, played with my adorable nephew and niece, slept well, then woke up early to brave the crowds again.

Friday
This morning started out with another visit to the Silhouette booth on “the floor.” (BTW, “the floor” refers to a massive room that is absolutely circus-like in its energy. People wandering around in costumes, comic book and toy vendors, movie studios—it’s a riot of noise and stimulation.) Nancy Holder was signing DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES, so I got to meet her and chat with the crew manning the booth again. Then I headed over to the Penguin/Mysterious Galaxy booth, where I met the booksellers and one of Penguin’s editors. She knew my name! Eeee. That was exciting. We talked about NIGHT RISING, the first Vampire Babylon book, for a bit, then I went off to the gargantuan Hall H for some major studio presentations.

Warner Brothers started things off with THE REAPING, and Hilary Swank was there to lend her smile. This looks like a good film, even though we merely saw the trailer—no clips here. It’s a movie about a “miracle debunker” who travels to Louisiana to disprove what looks to be symptoms of the biblical plagues. I’m kind of excited about this since it’s supposed to be “twisty.” And I don’t want to know any more than that….Afterward, Neil LaBute, director of THE WICKER MAN, came out to show us a scene. Now, in a previous blog, I talked about my wariness in regards to remaking this movie, but LaBute sold me on seeing this version—because that’s what it is: a version, and not a remake. He’s reimagined some structural aspects of the first movie while keeping to the original spirit. I like how he said that the island’s main cash cow is honey and that the matriarch is “queen bee.” He’s clearly done a lot of thinking about the changes. As a justification for altering this pivotal “queen bee” role from what used to be a male part, LaBute said, “I’m more afraid of women than men” (and that’s obvious from his previous work). I trust him as a director, so bring it on….Next, there was a brief interview with Daniel Radcliffe of HARRY POTTER fame. Not much going on there, but it was good to see little Daniel again….Then—yes!—Bryan Singer came out to chat about SUPERMAN RETURNS. He brought Richard Donner, director of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and that was a wonderful surprise, especially since they showed “lost” footage of the SUPERMAN II Mr. Donner would’ve directed. (He “wasn’t asked back” to direct the sequel, even though he was shooting much of it at the same time as the first movie. Go figure.) The clip was great, showcasing one of Lois Lane’s attempts to test Clark Kent and her theory that he might be Supes. Hee. As for Singer, he’s always really interesting, but you might be most eager to know if there’s going to be a sequel or not.
(coy pause)
Sounds like there will be! He said that the paperwork just needs to be done, really, but you never know with Hollywood, so he can’t say an official yes just yet. Best of all, he said that since the Superman universe and characters have already been established with SUPERMAN RETURNS, he can go all “WRATH OF KHAN” on the next film. Sweet!!!!!!!!! Movie geeks know exactly what that means but, unless you love STAR TREK II, the reference won’t matter to you. (Trust me—it’s a great thing! If Singer’s going to go “WRATH OF KHAN” on the next Superman, it’ll be emotional and tragic and suspenseful and…yeeeee! I’m such a geek.)

Next came the 20th Century Fox panel. Briefly:
· there were clips of Eragon, a book I haven’t read but it seems to be very beloved by a big crowd. The kid playing Eragon was on the panel. He’s going to be a heartthrob.
· RENO 911! was on tap with really hilarious clips and also a panel of actors staying in goofy character. Super funny stuff. I don’t watch the TV program, but I might have to now.
· PATHFINDER is a tale of Vikings who came to our East coast before Columbus and tangled with the Native Americans. Looks intense. Clancy Brown (LOST, STARSHIP TROOPERS) was on the panel. Trivia: he talked in a Nordic dialect for his part.

Lastly, before I hit “the floor” for some shopping, I went to the very crowded BATTLESTAR GALACTICA panel. Some of you know what an amazing show this is, and if you don’t, I highly, highly recommend it. A few teasing hints were dropped about this coming season (though everything seems top secret), and some great actors showed up, including Edward James Olmos (who was tickled to be at a Con) and Lucy Lawless (such a salty, awesome chick). Here are a few minor spoiler nuggets:

· the first 10 episodes are an exploration of how Cylons live. It was confirmed that one model will be permanently retired.
· Olmos says that “what happened at the end of last season was a light moment compared to what’s to come.” Things will be very dark.
· Interesting and kinda “ew”: one character will be “missing a certain part of his anatomy” now, and will have to cope. ???? Your guess is as good as mine.
· It was said that “we’re going to lose some people that we’re very fond of.” (Oh oh.) Also, there are some characters that the fans have been ‘shipping for (Lee and Starbuck, perhaps?)—and they will get together. BUT the aftermath won’t be easy sailing. At all.

Those are just highlights of my first two days. If I told you everything, I’d be here all night and you’d drown in the minutia.

Tomorrow I’ll be attempting to get into the LOST panel, as well as VERONICA MARS, GRINDHOUSE, and of course, Kevin Smith’s free-for-all verbal target practice on the audience.

See ya then!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Comic-Con, part 1/2

Remember when I said I'd post about Comic-Con every night? Well, I'm beat, you all, since I just walked home from my San Diego Trolley stop and helped my nephew get to sleep by telling him Superman stories. Since there's nothing pressing to report from today's panels I hope you'll forgive me for putting it off. I'm hoping to have more juice tomorrow, since some of the bigger workshops will be presented.

One interesting thing though--if you're in town for the Con, stop by the Silhouette booth (#831). There, you'll get free books and even a sample first few chapters of a Nocturne launch! It's real cool, and I'm planning to stop by to see Nancy Holder (Bombshell) tomorrow morning--if the lines allow (and that's one thing about this year's Con: the crowd has increased exponentially from two years ago. The trend started last year and I'm not loving these lines I have to wait in. Bwah!).

Until later...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

OOTB book tour: YOUR PLANET OR MINE?


Doesn't this look fun?

YOUR PLANET OR MINE by Susan Grant
(HQN Books, July 25, 2006)

Think the grocery store is a great place to meet men?

Hunky interstellar fugitive, aisle 5.

With outrageously false accusations piling up against her famous political family and an ex-fiancé in hot water determined to take her down with him, the last thing Jana Jasper needs is more trouble--especially man trouble. But when she heads to the grocery store for an ice cream fix, not only does the muscled hunk in the frozen foods section ranting about spaceships and invasions look crazy, he looks... familiar.

Cavin of Far Star has never forgotten the girl he met during his weeks spent on that quaint little world, planet Earth, the girl who didn't believe he was real. And now he'll risk his future to save her. All she has to do is take him to her leader. Simple enough plan--although Jana isn't so easily convinced. Hell-bent on charming his way past her defenses, he's determined to stay one step ahead of the galaxy's most feared assassin--and may just capture his favorite Earthling's heart in the process.

Excerpt:
http://www.susangrant.com/books/planet.htm

Cover:
http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/06050915011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/11120000/11126761.jpg

ABOUT SUSAN GRANT
One of the first women in history to attend the US Air Force Academy, a former Air Force instructor pilot, and currently a 747 jumbo jet pilot for United Airlines, New York Times best-seller and RITA winner Susan Grant loves writing about what she knows -- flying, adventure, and the delicious interaction between men and women.

REVIEWS
"...one of the best books of the year!" - Mary Janice Davidson, New York Times bestselling author
“...a cute, quirky otherworldly romance that’s totally delightful to read!” -- Tanzey Cutter
“Veers uncomfortably close to our actual plans to invade your pitiful little planet. Pull this book from the shelves immediately or I shall have it vaporized!” -- General Neppal, Supreme Commander of the Coalition fleet

Website: http://www.susangrant.com

Monday, July 17, 2006

iPod shelf: STRANGE PIECE OF PARADISE

If you want to read about a real-life Bombshell, pick up a memoir by Terri Jentz called STRANGE PIECE OF PARADISE. The premise is chilling: On June 22, 1977, Terri and her friend Shayna decided to spend their summer vacation away from Yale on a bike trek across America. They’d just started their journey in Oregon when one night, while camping, a pick up crashed into their tent and ran them over. Then a man emerged from the darkness with a hatchet, which he used to chop them up. During his quiet frenzy, Terri weakly asked him to leave and…he did. Just like that, with no further violence. Somehow, both women survived this brutal attack, and after physically healing, Terri convinced herself that she was mentally okay, too.

But that wasn’t quite the case. While Shayna’s injuries brought on a case of amnesia, Terri was fully conscious of what had happened that night, and it haunted her. In fact, she realized it was necessary for her peace of mind to find out who had attempted to kill her and why. The rest of the book is about Terri’s efforts to discover the identity of her attacker, and the results are horrifying, revealing a human monster running around free in a small community that doesn’t quite know what to do with him.

Terri is a Bombshell because she doesn’t quit in the face of adversity. And, in the end, she doesn’t just make a difference in her own life—she struggles to make this world a safer place for everyone. Her sacrifices and trials are an inspirational testament to the power of the soul, and reading this book showed me a light in the darkness. So often it’s easy to think that society is going the way of extinction, but people like Terri are doing their best to battle this perception.

So…STRANGE PIECE OF PARADISE. Definitely worth your time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

PROJECT RUNWAY owns me

Did you guys see it last night? I'm talking about the premiere of PROJECT RUNWAY's third season....

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, PR is a docu-reality show on the Bravo channel which follows a contest for up-and-coming designers. Ugh, another reality show? you say. But...no. You have to check it out before you pile it in with dreck like BIG BROTHER and FEAR FACTOR. PROJECT RUNWAY is awesome becase the contestants are amazingly talented, and it's extremely satisying to watch them do their magic. Every week, they compete in a challenge that tests their skills to the limits: not only do they have a short amount of time to produce something wonderful, but the contests can be wacky: consider, for instance, last night's opening challenge in which the designers had to create something that "defines them" by using materials from their apartment. What came out of this was both wonderful and strange: there was everything from a classy fur-trimmed coat to a cool dress made out of coffee filters. Seriously. In seasons past, they've had similar challenges (Season one--my favorite season so far--featured a challenge in which the designers were let loose in a supermarket to find materials. Austin Scarlett, my fav reality contestant EVER, made a dress out of corn husks. It was incredible.).

The winner gets $100,000 to start their own line, but the top three designers are all showcased in Fashion Week, which is a HUGE deal. This program can be a real career kick-in-the-rear. It's not just a "here's half a million dollars, buh-bye" sort of gig; these contestants are seeking more than fifteen minutes of fame. And the program manages to capture a lot of personality from the designers. You really feel for them (unless that designer is Wendy Pepper from Season one but, even with her, I felt sorry for her profound lack of self-awareness).

So, reality shows? Don't say nay to this one. I've even converted my disbeliever parents into big fans and my dad even talks about "piping" now. Awesome.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Comic-Con is coming!!!

It's almost here.
Yes, next week it rolls around again--the mecca for geeks, the ultimate gathering for people who love pop culture...
Comic-Con San Diego!

This year I'm actually doing some business there; bookmarks, postcards, and temporary tattoos for my upcoming Vampire Babylon series will be available at the freebie table. I'm going to freak out if I see people wearing the tattoos (Wouldn't that be awesome?). Also, I'm going to be "networking" with some contacts, so that should be interesting.

Most of all, though, I'll be there to absorb all the craziness and gossip. I'm going to try very, very hard to blog each night when I get home, Thursday through Sunday. I'll be exhausted, yes, but quite often at the Con, movie studios show previews and make big announcements at their presentations. I want to share all that excitement with you guys, so wish me luck and energy!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bookshelf: TEASE

I wasn't sure what kind of "erotic" stories the Spice line from Harlequin Silhouette would be publishing. Would the content go as far as Anias Nin's literary taboos? Would it compete with the naughty bits in the Black Lace or Ellora's Cave books?

Having read TEASE by Suzanne Forster, I'm still not sure where the lines will be drawn, but I have a better idea. I'd classify the content as "tasteful erotica," but who knows what the future holds? At any rate, I enjoyed TEASE because, at many points, I had no idea where this tale was going, and I liked the taut suspense of that.

TEASE is about an ad agency woman who is willing to give her all to succeed in her job. In fact, Tess Wakefield's career is really all she has at this point: her sex life is nil (except for some creative yoga positions she's modified for interesting purposes) and her social life is nothing to speak of since she's just relocated from California to New York. But when she meets her professional nemesis, Danny Gabriel, her perception goes topsy-turvy: one night, he takes her to a strange sex club that features dark fantasies, and Tess can't be sure of anything anymore.

I really like Forster's voice: it's lively and accessible, and her creative details about the ad agency and the club make TEASE a fun read. I also loved guessing who was doing what to whom--it left me feeling just like Tess: a bit confused in this new, wild world.

I'll definitely be picking up more Spice books if they live up to this read....

Friday, July 07, 2006

PIRATES...: DEAD MAN'S CHEST thumping

At first, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say about PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST. Odd, that. Especially considering that this is a movie I’ve been waiting for since that freaky pirate monkey unleashed its last bit o’trouble at the end of the first installment’s credits. This movie does such a seamless job of transitioning from the first that it all feels like very familiar territory that I’ve gone over before, and I was prepared to write a three-sentence review.

Wrong.

But before we get into the big stuff, here’s a mini spoiler-free review for those of you who wish to remain pure in your viewing experience. Three things you might want to know:

1. It’s very enjoyable, with one particularly amazing action sequence involving a wheel and swords.
2. It’s dark and violent, so you might want to leave the kiddies at home until you can see it first.
3. Stay until the ending credits have rolled! Like the first movie, this one has a bonus scene at the end. It’s not as important as the first film’s exclamation mark, but it’s amusing nonetheless.

Now, here come some minor spoilers, so tune out now if you don’t want to carry my mark!

Oy.
Savvy?
Argh.

Still here? Good. There’s almost non-stop adventure in this film; as a matter of fact, there came a point when I was mentally exhausted and had to tune out for a bit. That ties into the fact that there are also some phenomenal CGI special effects, and my eyes were taking in so much that they needed a rest, too. I think I was actually visually nauseous, if that makes sense, and you’ll know exactly what I mean when the camera is feasting on Davy Jones, his ship, and his crew. The character of Jones might even be distracting: I found myself so in awe of his rendering that I stopped following the story for a bit. And there’s a lot of story to follow, believe me.

Heck, maybe that’s another reason I thought I wouldn’t have much to say about the movie at first. Although the sumptuous details and clever jokes are still around to deliver a rounded experience, I didn’t feel as close to the characters this time out—the plot was king. In THE BLACK PEARL, I could just about feel the unrequited love between Will and Elizabeth; here, the emotion flatlines a bit between them and, in fact, between everyone. For instance, Will Turner’s arc concerns his father in this movie, but there’s never, ever a moment when I felt that they’re glad to see each other after all these years, even under tragic circumstances; I never saw that Will had more than a perfunctory reason for wanting to find the MacGuffin, er, the Dead Man’s Chest that would save his dad. And there’s a moment for Elizabeth that completely made her dead to me. Yes, it’s a great, great plot device and it actually serves her arc well, but she does something that’s so awful it devastates both Captain Jack and Will. I’m only saying that, in the third movie, I hope Will dumps her ass and Captain Jack makes her answer for what she did.

But those are small complaints in the scheme of things. I still laughed during this movie, not as much as during the BLACK PEARL, yet there’s wonderful character continuity and in-jokes. And the stuntwork…my god. Incredible. (Did I mention the sword-and-wheel sequence? Awesome.) Also, Norrington, the poor snot who was dumped by Elizabeth in the first movie, shows up again, and he’s a gem who really adds some gleam to the festivities.

Of course, I need not say all that much about Johnny Depp’s Sparrow. Hilarious, as always. I thought Orlando Bloom brought Will Turner some maturity and looking at him for two-and-a-half hours is always a lovely experience—especially when he’s swashbuckling.

So go, eat lots of pirate popcorn and have a great time. There’s a fun cliffhanger that promises another smooth transition into the third movie and a bunch of good times waiting to be had….

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Contest winner....

And the contest winner for last month is...Carol Bartley Brown! Congratulations to you, Carol, and I hope you all are entering the contest this month! There are some yummy books up for grabs (including offerings by Lori Foster) as well as nice little treasures from the Opium Gallery in San Diego (oh, I love shopping there). Good luck!

OOTB book tour: ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE


Another book on tour! Although I haven't had the chance to read any of Michelle's books, I keep hearing great things about them. Here's a peak at her new one....

ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE
by Michelle Rowen
(Warner Forever, July 2006)

When you're hot for a demon, you might as well kiss your halo good-bye...

Falling naked into the killer whale tank at MarineLand is always bad news, but it's a real bummer when you've just been kicked out of Heaven. Former angel Valerie Grace is determined to reverse her banishment-Earth's just no fun.

Her best friend is a slightly perverted human-turned-rat, and she's being tailed by a sexy Tempter Demon named Nathaniel, who's trying to lure her to hell with kisses that are almost worth the trip. With the talking rodent sneaking peeks down her shirt and Nathaniel getting more irresistible every minute, this ex-angel has only one hope: find the stolen Key to Heaven and go home.

Then the oddest thing happens-Nathaniel starts to show signs of loyalty and love. And soon Val is asking herself if it is such a bad thing to have the hots for a demon.


Excerpt:
http://www.michellerowen.com/ex-angelwithattitude.shtml


Cover:
http://a1204.g.akamai.net/7/1204/1401/06012415011/images.barnesandnoble.com/images/10670000/10675328.jpg



ABOUT MICHELLE ROWEN
Michelle Rowen was born in Toronto, Ontario. As a child she decided that when she grew up she would become a flight attendant, a jewel thief, or a writer. One out of three ain't bad. She is a self-confessed bibliophile, the proud owner of an evil cat named Nikita, Reality TV junkie, and has an unhealthy relationship with all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


REVIEWS

Rowen does a delightful job mixing things up with her sassy and sexy characters. She has her own unique spin on life and the afterlife and good and evil, which makes for downright fun reading. 4 stars – Romantic Times

ANGEL WITH ATTITUDE is such a fun story...Michelle Rowen has proven herself to be an ace storyteller with a truly fresh and sharp sense of humor. I'm officially a fan! -- Lani Diane Rich, RITA Award-winning author

An amusing heavenly romance with a hell of a price to pay for not reading it. -- Harriet Klausner


Website: http://www.michellerowen.com

Monday, July 03, 2006

Like cool music?

Here's a discovery for you: If you like good music, here's a band for you: CALL DOWN FIRE. Their Web sites will let you listen to some great music (I love the Coldplay-lounge-rock vibe on a lot of the songs.), and they're releasing a CD soon. Check out these addys:

http://calldownfire.com

http://myspace.com/calldownfire

I think you'll love what you hear!!! (And if you're in San Diego, make plans to drop by their CD release performance.)