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

Monday, October 02, 2006

Phew

I just wrote a thirty-two page chapter.

If you're wondering whether or not I want to take a nap for the rest of the day, yes, I do. And I'm not even going to attempt to write the blog about Elektra that I had planned. (How about later this week?) But in the midst of my tired state, I really am hopped up because this was a very tough part of the story and I'm happy it's written. This is not to say it won't need a ton of revision--I don't even want to think about what a mess those pages are--but as Nora Roberts says, "You can't fix a blank page." Words to live by.

Good night now.