Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

A lot of great things have happened this year, and I would say that the release of NIGHT RISING has been a high point. That was only validated this weekend when I was told that "Chris Marie Green" has been nominated for "Best New Author" at LoveRomancesBookClub. I did tell them that before NIGHT RISING came out, I had other releases under "Crystal Green," but they were fine with that since this is a different genre.


Cool! So starting January 1, voting will begin. I'm posting this sharp voting button, but you guys know that I am a techno-dope and I have no idea how to get it to link to the voting. Yay me!

But you do have to be a member of this group to vote (and you can only vote once), so I'm going to direct you to the LoveRomancesBookClub. It's really active, and you might want to join even if you don't vote. If so, here's the link to the YahooGroups site:

LoveRomancesBookClub


From there, you can pop this phrase in to the search bar, and you'll find details about the book club and how to join.

With much thanks to you all, Happy New Year! Be safe, be happy, and be as good as you can!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Comic Classic: ARKHAM ASYLUM...

One of my pals, Tony Sandoval, is a serious comic reader. He's been collecting for years, and he's into superheroes as well as more literary graphic novels. Basically, Tony has been my go-to guy for comic reading suggestions, and he turned me on to Grant Morrison.

If you don't already know, Morrison is a major writing talent who crafts amazingly layered stories. I don't hesitate to call him a genius because, truly, some of his works deserve the study and care we give to other genre classics. I've read his fourth-wall-breaking take on ANIMAL MAN as well as the heart-wrenching, thought-provoking WE3, which gives us a dog, a cat, and a bunny who have been trained to become killer soldiers. (I know! But take my word for it--if you read WE3, you're going to get a big old lump in your throat as well as a huge guilt complex. Damn you, Tony, for not telling me to read WE3 in the privacy of my own house, where I wouldn't have minded becoming a blubbering idiot!)

When Tony recommended ARKHAM ASYLUM: SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH, I was totally up for it. After all, as we know, Arkham Asylum plays a big part in Batman--it's where all the criminal geniuses go after the Bat catches them.

But this was no regular Batman story. Oh, my God, no.

This book was creepy beyond anything I've read or even seen in the last few years: from the abyss-deep content to the truly unsettling artwork by Dave McKean (who also did SANDMAN), AA plunges you down into a murky terror where everything from Norman-Bates-like mother complexes to Lewis-Carroll-madness is explored.

I could write a thesis about AA, but here's the basic story: the inmates have taken over the asylum, and they're holding hostages. And guess who's in charge? Yeah--the Joker, and he's at his most gleeful evil. He invites Batman to come on in and take back the premises. Thing is, Batman has some dark issues of his own, and when he decides to go into Arkham, it's at the risk of his own sanity. The main plot is supported by the backstory of the asylum, which was founded by Amadeus Arkham--a man who had his own demons to contend with--and as Batman fights to save the day (or, more to the point, to save himself), his story intertwines with Arkham's.

The complexity and flow are things of storytelling beauty, but they're as dark as dark can be. McKean's artwork (which is glorious in how it uses different techniques to convey mood and substance) offers a smudgy, shadowy Batman, and it's disturbing to never get a true grasp of our "savior" (but the unformed images of Batman are symbolic in that he doesn't even know what he is). Then there's the heavy gore and violence, but every drop of blood serves its purpose. If you read the 15th anniversary edition, you'll be able to see Morrison's script and notations, and it's well worth some study since it illuminates so much more about the novel itself.

Tony also sent me a link to a minimovie that some Spanish filmmaker/fanboy made for ARKHAM ASYLUM. It's one of those YouTube things that blows your mind because it's so well done. It even captures the graphic novel's tone with nightmarish accuracy. (Check out the Joker. Ahhhh!)

Here it is, but I warn you--it's bloody and intense. Definitely R-rated. And it compresses the novel, so you're going to get the entire story here. But having said all that, it's so worth a view.

Enjoy (if that's the right word)....

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

iPod Bookshelf: ISABELLA, SHE WOLF OF FRANCE, QUEEN OF ENGLAND


I was really surprised to see that this book has low ratings on Amazon. Sure, there are only three reviews, but...still. I thought this was a pretty great book, full of fascinating historical facts, whereas other readers think it was boring.

I'll tell you why I like this one, and it actually might have more to do with Isabella's story itself than the book. You might've heard of Isabella because of her portrayal in BRAVEHEART. That's the only reason I knew of her. (She was the pretty princess married to the prince--Edward II--who preferred male company? And she had sex with Mel Gibson? And she gloooowed afterward? Come to find out, this portrayal used some major fictional license.) I was also drawn to the subject because of the infamous UGH-I-CAN'T-BELIEVE-I-JUST-HEARD-THAT death of Edward II and Isabella's supposed part in it: he was said to have suffered the invasion of something like a hot poker up his rectum, which toasted his innards.

Yes, I choose my literature on a pretty intelluctual basis, don't I?

However, in Alison Weir's book, she asserts the hot-poker story is a lie created by historical revisionists who set out to discredit Isabella years down the road. Actually, Weir, herself, seems determined to clear Isabella's name by laying out a tale of a French princess who was married very, very young to a guy who, in fact, did have a predilection for male "favorites." Edward allowed his heart to overrule his head and gave these favorites too much power, which resulted in the anger of earls and barons. Basically, dude was a terrible king, and when he went too far in preferring one favorite over Isabella, she went back to France, gathered an army led by powerful men Edward had expelled from Britain, then came back and whooped her hubby's arse. Yup, she and her own lover took over the throne and ruled through her son, Edward III.

Weir is a thorough researcher, and I enjoyed her writing enough to get another book of hers--INNOCENT TRAITOR, which details the short life of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. If you're in the mood to read about a strong woman in times of olde, Isabella is a bombshell for you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you! Believe it or not, we're waking up, opening presents going on *a hike*(!), then having family over. It'll be a nice day. :) Hope you have one, too!

Friday, December 21, 2007

OOTB Tour: SAVOR ME SLOWLY

We haven't had an Outoftheblogosphere book on tour for a while, but this is the last one of 2007. (Sigh.) At any rate, I know there are a lot of Gena Showalter fans out there, so this release is probably making you giddy! The first book in this series is near the top of my To Be Read list, so I'm looking forward to getting into this world....

SAVOR ME SLOWLY by Gena Showalter
(Pocket) December 26, 2007

Mishka Le’Ace was created to be an undercover operative . . . literally. Her beautiful body has been mechanically augmented to give her superhuman strength -- strength she’s going to need. Her latest mission sends her to rescue Alien Investigation and Removal agent Jaxon Tremain from torture and death. With him, she discovers a passion unlike any other. A passion she was forbidden to know. . .
From the moment they meet in a darkened cell, Jaxon craves her touch. But the machine half of Le’Ace forces her to do things she doesn’t always want to do. Even betray him . . . and ultimately destroy him. Now Jaxon must battle the man controlling Le’Ace and even Le’Ace herself to at last claim the woman he’s come to love.

ABOUT GENA SHOWALTER:
Gena Showalter sold her first book at the age of 27. Three years later, at the ripe old age of 30, she had sold an amazing total of 15 books in a multitude of genres: paranormal romance, contemporary chick lit/romance hybrid, young adult and urban fantasy. Her books provide something for every fan of fiction. For more information about Gena and her novels, you can visit her website at www.genashowalter.com and her blog at www.genashowalter.blogspot.com

REVIEWS:

"In versatile Showalter’s new futuristic novel, the world teeters on the edge of disaster unless a tough band of human and alien allies can stop it. Danger spiced with sizzling sensuality are definitely hallmarks of Showalter’s style. Kicking butt and taking names is what these protagonists do best which cranks up the action quotient for this intense new book!" – Romantic Times

"One of the premiere authors of paranormal romance.” New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

SAVOR ME SLOWLY is the third and strongest installment in Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series. As riveting as the previous two books were this one is better. Fresh Fiction

"The characters in this book are flawlessly drawn. . . Science fiction at its best! So if you’ve never picked up a story by this talented author, now is the time to start. " Two Lips Reviews -- 5 lips, their highest rating!


Website: http://www.genashowalter.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Biggest Reason I Wish the Strike Would End



Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

To be honest, there was a time when I was getting kind of "meh" about LOST. I've always kept current with it, but around the first part of season three, it wouldn't be the first program I rushed to see on my DVR recorded list and it would linger for a few days.

Then came the last part of season three.

And the finale.

Even thinking about that last episode right now, I get a little emotional. Sure, the time-switch was brilliant and extremely well-played. But Jack's (possible?) future just tore me apart.

I can't wait to see what's in store for us now, and I can only hope that we get our full 16 episode season....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holiday Music

My friend Tony Sandoval and his wife Britney, both of whom I know from my teaching days, are in, like, five bands. They're great musicians and extremely hard workers. That's why I always love to know when they have a new project going.

Tony sent this link to me for the holidays, and I thought you all might enjoy it. It's a song written and performed by one of his band members, and it'll be airing on some San Diego radio stations tomorrow. But here's a preview.

http://myspace.com/chuckschiele

May your Christmas shopping be peaceful and your wrapping go quickly!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

BlackBerry Song

So I came out of the cave for a break from writing the fourth Vampire Babylon book, right? I'm watching TV (Oh, really? Seriously?), and this new BlackBerry commerical comes on.



I totally love the song so much that I dash to iTunes to download it.

But you know what? It's not a real song! Word has it that the tune was composed especially for the ad, so there's no full version. Funny thing is that people are posting on different message boards that they love this song, too.

How much do you all want to bet that you'll hear a "real version" before too long?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Critique Partner's Cover!


This is the cover for my wonderful critique partner's first women's fiction book! MULBERRY PARK is written by Judy Duarte, and I know I can be a dark writer and all, but this is a heartwarming book full of emotion and I adore it. The premise is awesome: one day, a little girl writes a letter to God. A woman who's jogging through the park finds it, and when she sees that the little girl is asking for help, she decides to answer, thinking it'll be a one-time thing and it'll make the little girl feel better. Well, this women just happens to still be reeling from the loss of her young son, and when the little girl writes another letter, all the lost souls in Mulberry Park end up getting drawn into the fabric of these letters--and they become a family of sorts.


MULBERRY PARK comes out in April, and I'll be featuring Judy's book teaser before then. However, I'm really excited for her and I wanted to brag a little. Here's Judy's site so you can find out more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Next Special Edition Cover


Here's my March release--the first book in my new Suds Club trilogy. The action centers around a Laundromat, hence the series title, and MOMMY AND THE MILLIONAIRE is a bit of a switch from hot stuff and vampires. If you read THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE, you'll even recognize the hero, David Chandler, the business-iceman brother of Lucas.
Honestly, I think this is one of the best Special Edition covers I've ever gotten. The models look great (okay, the heroine should have curly hair and she's not *this* pregnant during the main story, but those are quibbles), and I love the emphasis on the baby stuff.
Sometime next month, I'll be getting the cover for my next Blaze, ONE FOR THE ROAD. Come to think of it, I should also be seeing the third Vampire Babylon cover for BREAK OF DAWN soon....

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Already Missing HEROES?

Oh, what a bored person with access to YouTube can produce....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bookshelf: HIDE by Way of Gatwick

Before I talk about the latest book I've enjoyed, I want to share all the confirmed contest winners for November:

D'Andrea Galbreath
Janet Gould
Caitlin Hoy
Ron Miller
Kristine Peacock
Jennifer Tower
Tim Younger

They'll be receiving my backlist book packages, and, boy, are they going to have lots of reading to do!

Now, I love me some crime thrillers, and I've always really liked Lisa Gardner, to boot. So when I found myself short of something to read during my long wait at Gatwick Airport near London, I wandered into the W.H. Smith, strolled past the shelves creaking with copies of ATONEMENT (which is the big thing in London right now because of the movie release) and right toward the yummy books.

Not to say I wouldn't appreciate ATONEMENT, but during a 10 hour plane flight, I wasn't really in the mood.

When I saw the mass market version of HIDE, I grabbed it, only realizing too late that it was 7 pounds. This converts to over 14 American dollars, my friends. Ack! Still, I was already hooked, and by the time I got on the plane, I was halfway through this page turner.

It starts off with a young woman, Annabelle, who tells you in first person that she and her family have always been on the run. She never knew why. All she knew was that her father was obsessive about keeping her and her mom safe from...something. And in the next chapter, when we join Bobby Dodge (who is, I guess, a hero from a previous Gardner book) on a case, a connection is made. Bobby, a state cop, is summoned to an abandoned mental hospital near Boston because several bodies of young girls have been found in an underground shelter. One of the corpses is wearing a locket with Annabelle's name on it, and it isn't long until Annabelle comes out of her own hiding to tell the cops she isn't dead.

The story goes from there, negotiating twists and turns and several really effective red herrings. The only drawback for me was the solution, which seemed like one of those strange 18th century stage comedies where there are too many coincidences crashing together, plus a huge dose of deus ex machina. But even with that, I really enjoyed this story. Gardner is a master at sweeping you up into the creepy details.

And that is my kinda book!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Last HEROES of 2007

Pretty good stuff, but I’m not convinced Nathan is a goner. Now that the blood cure is possible, I almost feel like we’ve entered an ALIAS-type arena where no one ever dies…maybe not even Niki, either.

Anyway, here were my thoughts:

* Too bad Maya can’t focus her kill power on just one person in the room. I’m referring to your wishfully targeted ass, Sylar.

* A clean-shaven, brooding Nathan is a hot Nathan.

* Hints of serious, scary Hiro abound as he tries to talk some sense into eMo-Peter. I do miss Hiro’s former geekiness, even though I like Future Hiro, too, so can Ando perhaps take up the whole wonderboy mantle?

* I have to say that I like Elle a lot when she isn’t being all male-hangy. I kinda feel for her, and she does have some quality snark to offer.
In this scene, I love how HRG doesn’t fold under the threat of electric fingers. He’s the only one who genuinely gets through to Elle. And what about that proud little smile on HRG’s face after Bob notes that Claire is becoming difficult? I adore little touches like that.

* Peter and Adam strolling through that hall while casually dispatching anyone who stands in their way is a bit sexy, but I’m currently mad at Peter, hence, I resist the lure. And Caitlin is the woman Peter loves? Huh? Did I miss a convincing love story somewhere along the line?

* Oh, now Maya doesn’t believe Sylar. Cry me a goopy black river, lady.

* Please, Mohinder, have a plan to thwart Sylar up your sleeve as you take his blood! You have it in you, even under all those layers of Dumb!

* LOL for the Flying ex-senator and his psychic cargo! Parkman and Nathan have such great chemistry, as do Hiro and Nathan. As we leave this storyline, I beg the TV to hurry up and return back to it.

* Oh, now Maya cares about Alejandro. Wah and more wah.

* (I’ve deleted this particular moment-by-moment note because it just seems so fruitless when Maya "dies." I had scribbled a diatribe about what the twins ended up adding to this show, because isn’t Sylar just as wily and cockroachy as he was before he met up with M&A? Forget what these two didn’t add to the show, besides filler. What did they add to Sylar’s characterization?)

* Back to moment-by-moment: Noooooooooo!!!!! Leave Maya alone, please!

* Niki, you wonderful bombshell, even without your powers! I really like how she evidently learned something during her tenure as a Hero. But then… Sigh. As we discussed in previous comment sections of the blog, her being seemingly written off the show is a real shame since she had so much potential.

* To add insult to injury, we get Maya instead of Niki. Not a fair trade at all.

* And then…Nathan. I really don’t want him gone.

* Are we to assume that opening Pandora’s box includes opening a can of Gramama Petrelli whoop ass, too? Please say it will come to pass.

* After the bitterness of Nathan’s “death?” the last thing I needed to see was Sylar fiddling around with a spinach can. He can use the Force now to open up more brains. Been there, done that. He’s just not a scary Big Bad anymore, so this “finale” didn’t really end with such a bang for me. But it did have momentum for the next batch of episodes…

Whenever they’ll air.

:(

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Last London

Just a few more pix....

One day, I took a tour called "Darkest Victorian London," which brought us to the south side of the Thames and into the areas most "celebrated" by Dickens. Here in the Southwark borough, you could just imagine dirty-faced little Oliver Twists running through the alleys. Now, it's a "regenerated" area, meaning there's a lot of effort to clean everything up. Still, you can see tiny hints of the disease and poverty that defined this area during Victorian times (one of them can be found in the first picture below).

Naturally, I decided Southwark would be the perfect place to set one of my most important locations in the new trilogy. Can't tell you what it is, because doing so would give you too much information about the unreleased books two and three of the Vampire Babylon series, but I'll show you a picture that has already inspired me.

If you were to take a guess at what you're looking at, you might suppose it's some kind of memorial, what with the ribbons and items tied to the iron gates. You're partially correct. This is actually the Cross Bones Graveyard, and my "important location" will pretty much be across the street. This graveyard struck me because it's got a real feel to it: the place looks like a mere cement slab, neglected and sad, but beneath it all, layers upon layers of buried bodies were found when the Jublilee tube line was built at the end of the 20th century. Cross Bones is a community grave that dates back to medieval times and was closed in the mid 1800s due to overcrowding. At first, "Winchester Geese" were tossed in this unconsecrated ground (the nickname served to describe prostitutes). Later, paupers were piled in here. These days, there's talk of turning the grounds into office buildings or something, but resistance seems considerable. As a matter of fact, all those ribbons signify the care of locals who come by to pay respects to the dead. I hear that on every 23rd day of the month, there's a candlelight procession and nondenominational ritual honoring the inhabitants.

I love this next picture, too, and if you read MIDNIGHT REIGN come February, you'll find an homage to this address in one of the Master's scenes....

This is known as one of the most haunted places in London--50 Berkley Square. I've always been fascinated by this place, first and foremost, because there was something about it on IN SEARCH OF... that I watched when I was little and it freaked me the hell out. It's said that a "presence" lurks in the upper room. Check out these fun tales...especially the one about the two sailors (then see if you notice any vague similarities with that MIDNIGHT REIGN scene when the book comes out). Nowadays, an uppercrust bookstore resides here, and things seem pretty chill.

Lastly, here's a photo I took during the "Hampstead Village" tour.

Yes, another cemetery! But I won't be using this one in my books, mostly because I'll make fine use of different graveyards at other points. However, horror fans should note that the Hampstead cemetery plays a part in Bram Stoker's DRACULA (Lucy is seen here after she turns vampy).

At any rate, this is somewhere I'd return on another trip, just so I could sit on a bench and take in the surroundings at my leisure. Hampstead itself is where I'd move if I were ever lucky enough to get super rich and move to London. It's a gorgeous, serene village north of the city, just like Highgate, where the air is also fresh.

Gosh, looking at these makes me want to go back for more!

Until tomorrow's HEROES, have a great one!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

London 3

A few more pix until the final London blog this weekend....

Most days on my research trip, I took two London Walks, and I'd go back to my hotel room to crash because it was a lot of physical activity as well as a lot of info being crammed into my cabesa. Sunday, I chose the Historic London Square Mile (basically what's known as "The City" or the Financial District) and Highgate.

The Square Mile is pretty deserted during off-work hours, so there was a slightly removed pall to The City. However, it was Rememberance Day, which is basically equivalent to Memorial Day in the U.S., and everyone was wearing paper poppies on their lapels and visiting the Westminster area to pay their respects to the tiny crosses planted in the cathedral yard to commemorate fallen soldiers.

During the tour, we traversed little out-of-the-way alleys and paid attention to many a detail I might've missed on my own. For instance, there was this:

Our guide told us that this is the type of symbol that would've served as a warning of the plague lingering behind a doorway. This particular emblem was over the gate of a churchyard entrance, so seeing something so omimous this close to a place of worship was rather eerie. (BTW, I love the spikes on the fence; I found those at Highgate Cemetery, too, but I'll get to that adventure in a bit.)

This second picture features a few odd bits, mainly the 1) "inside out" building on the left (which is just a business building) and 2) The "Gherkin" building in the middle. Surely you've seen this second structure in movies like BASIC INSTINCT 2. (Yes, I watched it! And I didn't think it was as bad as everyone makes it out to be.) It looks like the kind of Easter egg a Goth child would decorate. People around London also call the building "the Crystal Phallus" and that's a pretty great description right there. As far as my research goes, I was able to block a chase scene by poking along these streets.

Finally, here's a snap of my second tour: Highgate. This was a village just north of Central London, and folks used to come up here for the clear air and "healing" water. More recently, Sting and Annie Lennox lived here, and I caught a peek of their former residences. Though they didn't look all that stunning from the outside--just serene and stately, really--Sting sold his place for about 6 million pounds, which equals more than 12 million dollars. Gah!

The reason I took a pic of this haunted pub was that it's going to serve a vampire underground purpose. See, Highgate featured a heavily traveled road and, accordingly, highwaymen lurked its corridors. Not too long ago, tunnels were found beneath the pub, and they believe the highwaymen dug them in order to aid with smuggling their goods. (Thank you, oh, god of fiction!)

A couple days later I decided not to take a tour--to instead return to Highgate on my own and inspect the cemetery. (No pictures though--we were asked not to take any.) Naturally, that was the one day it rained, but I won't complain because, first, that was the only bad-weather day of my trip and 2) rain definitely lends itself to a stroll in a graveyard. And let me tell you, it was such a wonderful experience to wander around quietly, with only the tap of the rain on my umbrella as I read the markers. I even blocked out another scene here, and it turned out to be pretty pivotal in the development of book 4's mystery. Yay, graveyards!

Stay tuned for the last London blog, which is going to cover the "Darkest Victorian London," Clerkenwell, and Hampstead tours....

Monday, November 26, 2007

HEROES, 11/26

It’s been a long day, and maybe that made me closed-minded and cranky, but there were quite a few things that frustrated me about HEROES tonight….

Moment by moment:

* I do love me some Anders evil. IMHO, Sark was always at his best when he was straightforward baaaaaaad, and I’m quite enjoying Adam. (And this might be the only glowing thing I have to say about tonight. Bummer.)

* So it’s HRG’s paranoia versus Mohinder’s black/white belief system, huh? Which side are you on? I, myself, lay all my chips on HRG, mainly due to the fact that I just like him better.

* OK, total geek observation here, but Micah is carrying around a $600 comic book without a plastic cover and cardboard backing (or even a hard casing for an item of that value? Maybe they were talking about a different comic and not the one they were carrying around???)? Heck, I have books that are worth, like, 2 cents but they’re protected, just because it seems so very wrong to leave the wonderful pages to rot. Then Monica hits Micah with the comic. I know Micah said that he just likes to read the stories, but the geek within me shudders.

* Gross—Sylar and Maya on an idyllic picnic. Pardon me while I hork up dinner.

* Maya is definitely the new Mohinder. Seriously—did she not believe her own brother about Sylar’s murder record? Yeah, right, Wonderlich, your bro went through all the trouble of creating a mock newspaper with a headline specifically designed to falsely warn you away from Sylar. (I know she vacillates in the next instant, but, dang, that one moment really chapped my hide.)

* And, hate to say it, but Peter might be suffering from Mohinderitis, too. Why didn’t Peter go into Victoria Pratt’s mind to see if she was telling the truth about Adam? Wasn’t that slightly important?

* What the hell kind of alien hair experiment was hatched on Sylar’s chest?

* Ngggggg… Sylar just murdered poor Alejandro and now Maya is kissing all over the scum. Loathing Maya. Loooooaaaaathing. She betrayed her loyal brother, and that’s all I can compute right now. Do you think they’re setting her up as a true villain instead of a Hero who’ll eventually come to her senses? Because I cannot imagine rooting for this character in the future.

* Yay, Monica! She’s actually the only new character who’s working for me. I love her enthusiasm and true heart, but I just hope she’s smart about executing this right-the-wrongs plan of hers.

* And...maybe not so smart. Question: didn’t she previously watch martial arts videos? (Isn’t that how she kicked the butt of that first criminal?) Or is her see-it-do-it power only short term?

* Now I’m losing it: Peter is defending Adam against Hiro, who previously proved to be an ally??? Why wouldn’t he believe Hiro, especially on the tail of Victoria Pratt’s accusations?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

On a positive note, CHUCK is still awesome, and Bryce is such a babe that it disturbs me to epic proportions. Love.

Until the next London report, see y’all!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

London 2

To continue with what I saw on my London trip, I'll show you a few more pix that I took during walking tours....

The day after I enjoyed my private Public School Tour in Bath, I started hitting the walking circuit pretty hard. See, the tours available from Original London Walks show you a lot of things you'd miss on your own--for instance, you might discover a tiny etching on a building or a the significance of a plaque above a doorway. Each little detail contains great stories, too, and you know how that works on a writer's mind. Also, the tours are pretty good exercise, as you generally cover some decent ground. (The second tour I'll be sharing--St. Albans--was a total walk-a-thon. Loved it.) Really, if you guys ever make it to London, I highly suggest this company. They even have night tours that cover everything from pub walks to haunted city strolls to Jack the Ripper jaunts.

Anyway, first thing, I had to track down a computer for a quick Internet check. You all, I didn't even know it would be so tough to find a darn computer for rent in this city. Yeesh. But if you need one, Leicester Square has these little places tucked away. The one I went to was on the third floor of the Trocedero, a shopping complex off the Square. Heck, McDonald's even has computers for rent, but the keyboards offer all the grace of using a public phone keypad that sticks, so I don't suggest that.

Back to the subject, the first tour I went on concerned the DA VINCI CODE. I didn't take it because I was that interested in the story-related details, but because the walk would show me stuff about the occult and the Knights Templar, and I absolutely could not resist the lure. Here's the best place I found on the tour, and I actually kind of fell in love with it:
The Temple Church is a gem of a peaceful spot right smack dab in the hustle and bustle of barrister (lawyer) hell. While the DA VINCI movie did film a scene in here, I was busier imagining setting my own scene within the church, and I've already even blocked it out. One down! Twenty four to go!
See these creepy faces embedded in the walls? (Look hard.) Tell me I can't use that.
I know--the lighting is terrible, but you can kind of see these knight effigies. Are you getting chills, too?

And here are some pix from an all-day tour I took the next day. St. Albans is just north of London, and I'm going to put a very important vampire location on its outskirts. Interestingly enough, much of the land around this little city is owned by Charles Spencer, Diana's brother, so I hope he doesn't mind me borrowing a bit of it for fictional purposes.
Just under an old inn, The Christopher, in St. Albans, we find this little miss. She's a succubus, and this might have been placed here to warn monks that there might be some evil afoot in this place. Avoid, avoid! St. Albans is named after a matyr, and pilgrims always came through on their way to pay respects to him. When I asked our tour guide if the city might be too holy for vampires to tread over (due to its sainted history), she assured me that it wouldn't be and then gave me a very curious look.
This house makes me salivate as a writer. Sure, it now houses a Laura Ashley shoppe, but it's haunted, baby. Word has it that, sometimes, you can see a woman in one of those two top windows, and several employees have quit this business because of freaky events. Gold!

After I do my HEROES blog on Monday night, I'll be returning with a little more London, including highwaymen, cemeteries, and the stomping grounds of poets....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

London: A Few Mysterious Pix

I thought I would just share a few snaps of what I was looking at in London. The trick is for me to show you what I experienced without giving away too much about what I was researching. After all, two books still have to come out in the first Vampire Babylon trilogy, which takes place in Hollywood. Then the action is going to shift overseas for the next trilogy, which is going to feature its own story arc (almost like each trilogy is its own TV season).

Now, just a note about pictures in general when it comes to me: I *hate* having my image captured by film. Looking at snapshots with me in them is just...wrong. It's not that I think they steal my soul or anything, it's just...yikes. Bleh. Get that thing out of here. You know what I mean?

Anyway, here we go!

I used what was left of my first day to travel to Jurys Inn just outside of Central London and wander the streets of Croydon. Even though it seems I wasn't in the thick of things in this "commuter area," I was across the street from a huge mall which contained a Marks and Spencer. I adore M&S, mostly because they have a food hall that's ideal for stocking a picnic. So I snatched up some apples and "flapjacks" (treat bars that are basically held together by oats, sugar, and lots of butter), toodled around High Street with its shops and pubs, then crashed in bed. Sleeping on the airplane is always a bitch, and I'm no match for the demanding god of slumber.

Jet lag allowed me to arise at 4:15 am, which was perfect, seeing as I had to start the day out early. I was scheduled to meet Claire from London Walks because I had arranged a private tour that would focus on some significant research for Vampire Babylon. So, in the dark, I strolled to the train station--which was only five minutes away from Jurys Inn--then caught a ride to Victoria Station in Central London. (As I noted in a previous entry, staying outside the deep city is really cost-effective. You get so much more room and comfort for the money, IMHO, and it's very easy to travel where you need to go.)

Claire--a classy woman who educated me about some fun Brit sayings that I'm totally using in the upcoming books--drove me to Bath, where I had two appointments with "public schools" which I won't name. What's confusing is that in England, a "public" school is what we think of as "private" here in the States. A "state" school is their "public" school, so I had to get used to the terminology right quick.

Bath in itself is beautiful--I'd been there before--but I won't be using it for a setting. I needed a spot closer to London itself, but as you'll see in an upcoming post, that's taken care of. However, I'll be using a lot about these schools I visited. Here are some pix:


Note the gargoyle detailing. How's that for atmosphere?












The dining hall--dim, ominous. Nice.





Suitably cloudy and gloomy--and check out this architecture. Also, this particular school has quite a history. An eccentric millionaire who gained his fortune "on the back of slaves," donated his land for this school. You don't think I'll be using a riff on that for this location's background?





I'll be back in a couple of days with more photos. In the meantime, have a Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

HEROES, 11/19

I have to note this first—whoo for the return of epic cliffhangers!!!

But before I start with the watch-by-the-minute comments, I have to say something about the program that comes on just before HEROES. Are you all watching CHUCK, for heaven’s sake? Dude, has this program hit some kind of stride or what? I loved the show when it first started, but now I LOVE it. LOOOOOOOOOOVE. See, for those who don’t know, CHUCK’s probably got the sweetest, most heart-wrenching love-square going on TV. And now…Bryce? Holy schmoly. If you’re not watching, please start.

On to HEROES, which got a whole lot better starting tonight….

- I didn’t get to comment on last week’s episode, but I have to say that I began to really dislike Elle at that point. Don’t get me wrong—I loved Kristen Bell in VERONICA MARS, but I’m really, really trying to warm up to her character here. In the previous eppie, I found her to be utterly irritating and needy. And the fact that she seems so darned pleased with herself just grates.

- Guys, was there ever an explanation as to the reason no one ever sees West flying to school in daylight, etc? I’m being picky, but it’s bugging.

- Claire’s “sorry” was pretty cute…but I feel like she needs to spell the same sign out to her dad. (note from the Chris/Crystal who has traveled back in time to comment on this early observation: Ay, me, the foreshadowing. How it resonates at the end….)

- Cool shot with HRG’s glasses reflecting the computer image! There’s the way to get the old HEROES back to form—now just give me those cliffhangers again. (Another note: Wish fulfilled.)

- Blah. Can Elle keep her hands off any person who sports testosterone?

- Ooooo—HRG! I think he’s one of my faves because he’s predictable in his unpredictability. I actually thought he might shoot Mohinder. I think Mohinder thought so, too, since he most likely pee-peed in his britches right there.

- How many of you were thinking of the Emperor’s death in RETURN OF THE JEDI when skank was getting her own shock treatment? Wouldn’t it be evilly delicious if she turned all nasty-skinned and cackly afterward? The Palpatine makeover would be poetic justice for this sadistic little chit.

- Even though the reveal of Kaito’s killer wasn’t shocking, it was cool with all that freeze-motion. BTW, Sulu rocked that last scene.

- Power up there, Parkman! I can see how he might go to the dark side in the future. This ability to make Gramama Petrelli tremble in fright does wonders for his appeal. And, on that note, I am officially a weirdo for kinda digging him now.

- And now we get to THE PART. Imagine me sitting there with my mouth open as HRG gets plugged in the eye by freakin’ Mohinder of all people. As expected, I immediately curse Suresh’s weenie to rot off and I fervently hope for ten demented little monks to pop into the scene to pluck the hairs out from around his nipples while giggling madly. Then I go into denial. Surely this is a Mohinder/HRG set-up of some sort. Or surely someone will get a hold of Adam’s blood and bring HRG back to life because THIS CANNOT JUST HAVE HAPPENED.

Then…

YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! The man lives! And the cliffhangers that distinguished HEROES last year are resurrected, right along with HRG.

So, of course, just as it’s getting good, we’re in danger of running out of episodes this year. Figures. But at least we have a few more, and I’m actually excited now to see who’s behind this gross bullet-eyed HRG plan….

Friday, November 16, 2007

Return of the Wanderer

Hi, all!

As you know, I've been away from the computer for a while, checking in here and there. First, thank you for your patience in waiting for me to come back--I was in a position where I had a very hard time finding a computer and then staying on it for an extended amount of time. Second, a HUGE thanks to Celise and Karm and Nicole and everyone who took on HEROES duty. I loved reading what you all had to say!

Now, what you've all been waiting for with bated breath. Where in tarnation was I?

Um...London.

Hee.

I didn't tell you guys because I don't love to advertise when I'm away from home, know what I mean? But I crossed the ocean in order to do research for my next Vampire Babylon trilogy, and no, this does not mean I'm going to reveal any plot developments and how they pertain to Britain. : ) However, in future posts, I'll share a few pictures and hint about what's coming up for Limpet and Associates. And I will be back on HEROES patrol come Monday, even if the writers' strike is going to shorten the season for the time being. (Let's just all cross our fingers that the suits give those writers that 2/3 of a freakin' penny the scribes are asking for, among other very reasonable things. [Biased? Who me?])

Anyway, as for those upcoming London blogs, I'll be telling you how I spent my days. I wasn't there to party--it really was all work. Mostly. Except for a few pints of cider and some high tea. It'll be so much fun to play "seasoned traveller" and act like I know what I'm talking about as I offer my experiences. (For instance: did you know that staying just outside of central London can save you oodles of pounds and that the rooms are much roomier and comfortable? All the fun stuff is only a short train ride to Victoria Station away. Sure, my business hotel didn't have a computer in its business centre--go figure--but it had an actual hairdryer and several BBC channels. Awesome, and I'm not kidding around.) I can't wait to tell you all about one of my favorite activities, too: The Original London Walks, which you can preview here.

So until next time, I'm going to indulge this bothersome jet lag and then check in with you soon....

Monday, November 05, 2007

MIDNIGHT REIGN Book Teaser!

Some of you already got your newsletters, but if you don't subscribe, here's the blog premiere of the book teaser for MIDNIGHT REIGN, book two in the Vampire Babylon series!!!

http://www.DigitalrealmProductions.com/Client1/Midnight_Reign.mov

So we've got murder, mayhem, hot lovin' and, of course, vampires. Three months away, you all. I can't believe it.

Now, something really cool and good is going on my life right now--and it has to do with this series--but it's going to limit my computer time in the next week and a half. I'll be telling you what's going on after this cool/good thing ends, and believe me, I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about it.

In the meantime, though, it's going to keep me from posting about HEROES tonight and next week. BUMMER--because isn't next week "Four Months Earlier"? Gah. But what I'm about to experience is totally worth watching HEROES later with my lovely DVR. If anyone wants to comment on tonight's episode, please feel free! I might be able to check in tomorrow and make my own little comments.....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bookshelf: UNMASQUED


Maybe you guys have heard about this book, because it's certainly caused some online waves.

First off, UNMASQUED is a retelling of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which is, in itself, a grandly risky endeavor, seeing as the musical has produced a number of diehards who like the story the way it is--darkly romantic with a lot semi-chaste yearning woven through the action. (I'm not talking about the original book though; even the musical took its liberties with that.)

Oh, and did I mention that this is an erotic retelling of the tale?

Feathers were bound to be ruffled with this fictional effort. And I do mean bound in its sauciest way.

Penned by Colette Gale, the pen name for a well-known historical author (and I'm pretty sure I know who it is, but I'm not positive, so I shouldn't say), the book uses the most of the basic story structure and adds lots of spice. LOTS. I'm talking about Anne Rice (A.N. Rolquelaure) SLEEPING BEAUTY lots. There's so much sex between so many people that, after a while, it doesn't even seem like sex any more. Scenes become exercises in how many funky toys can be utilized in how many orifices. Still, I kept reading. And reading. And reading.

As you would expect, the action follows ingenue Christine Daae, the rising star of the opera, and at least early on, the book recalls the musical in many instances. But then we meet Erik, who's more of a brooding, misunderstood hero than the sociopathic menance we are used to (even though musical kept the Phantom's violent, vengeful edge, and I suppose that's why Christine didn't end up with him). It's a smart change in order to make this more of a romance, although he really isn't the same character.

And the sex? Hot, manic, and very dirty. Sooooooo dirty, you all. This is definitely one to hide from the kids--and that's kind of a good thing.

So overall it was an interesting read, and I'll be picking up the author's next work, which will be an erotic retelling of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Party at Gena's!

You guys feel like going to a party? Click here to take part in the blog festivities at Gena Showalter's site!

I'm supposed to have this same stuff on my site, but Blogger won't let me use the text I was given. Gah. But there's lots going on here, so let's have some fun!

Monday, October 29, 2007

HEROES, 10/29

Tonight, in real life, there were no fires to keep the Heroes away. Generally, most of the outbreaks have been shut down or contained near San Diego, although there are still worrisome blazes in some areas. Let's just hope for some good rain. Also, thanks to everyone who checked in and contacted me to see if all was well--I really do appreciate it! No damage to my family or friends, thank goodness, but there are bunches of devastated people out there. Thank you again to all the people who fought those fires in every way possible.

Now, before we begin, I must also say that I'm really excited about CHUCK next week because Bryce will be on via flashbacks. Grrrrrr. Sorry, Chuck honey, but your ex-roommate is smokin' and I am but a weak, weak estrogen-addled female.

On to HEROES.

* Does anyone know who this Adam Monroe is? I shudder to speculate that he is yet another hero we'll invest too much time in. Maybe he's just connected to Peter, based on what he found later in the episode. Please?

* On the "Adam Monroe paper scene"'s heels? Russia. At first I think, "Gah! Now we've got a Russian hero to contend with. This is getting ridicu--" And then Bennet barges in being all threatening and mean-sexy. My attitude is much improved.

* Yaeko's painting. I'm going to confess here: I was spacing out, much as I usually do when Yaeko is on screen. Sad but true. But did it show that she was painting a picture that came true? If so--and judging from Kensei's sudden hero-power, too--what happened to hero development from 1671 on? Did they somehow get wiped out?
And if Yaeko's painting was just a painting, please ignore this.

* LOL for Claire and West's "lesson" to the Mean Girl. Yeah, it was harsh, but much deserved, IMHO. BTW, did anyone think that the high school set up recalled the steps from the "Homecoming" episode? Intentional?

* Aside from the hotness, David Anders really is funny. That look he gave the man who ran him through with the sword? Perfect.

* Yaeko cannot tell brown eyes from blue until now? Unobservant or too dumb to live? Your call.

* HORNY HIRO SCREWS UP HISTORY FOR SOME PRINCESS LOVAGE!
Boy Wonder Refused to Alter Timeline for Charlie the Waitress but Conveniently Forgets Time/Space Continuum for Girl Who Knows Her Way Around a Sword

* HRG's trigger finger!!!!!!!!!!! Dude.

* I was hoping Elle-on-Wheels would be back this week, but no luck.

* Heh--Niki = Mohinder's new pardner. I am suddenly interested in both of them.

That's all I have to say this week. Pretty solid in moving us forward. And it had a decent cliffhanger. But is New York in trouble again? Surely there are other big cities that have incurred the wrath of eeeeee-vil....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Around the 30 Book Mark

A question I'm often asked after people find out that I've been published more than once is this: "Do you write books faster now? Isn't it so much easier?"

I would say...nope. Not even remotely.

See, I just finished chapter 11 of a 12 chapter book, and although today's writing session went well, I feel like I'm running out of steam. Of course, it's normal to feel that way at the end of a story. I see the finish line and I really, really want to cross it.

But, lately, it's been tougher to sit myself down and get myself writing.

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. After all, you're talking to the chick who, when she first quit teaching and started writing full-time, woke up at 4:30 am three days a week and was writing soon afterward. I had a yoga class at 9:30, so this was my schedule. Sure, I would wake up a little later on the other days, but it was no problem getting up when it was still dark and whaling through those stories. (And I'm really happy with what I produced in those times: THE HUNTRESS and BORN TO BE BAD among them.) Also, later in the day, I used to write a chapter *and* revise it the same day. Good God, I have trouble even revising two chapters a day by themselves now.

How did I do it? Was it the excitement of a new job that's mellowed by now?

What's the deal?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire Vibes

Thank you so much to all of you who have contacted me about the fires. Your concern is really touching. :) I feel like such a drama queen because my family was unscathed, thank goodness, and the damage other familes are facing blows my mind. Can you imagine coming home to a smoking shell of where you used to live? Talk about feeling lost. Luckily, there have been minimal deaths and injuries, and I think that's in large part to how the emergency services were handled. Communication was truly excellent--they were ready for this one. I do wish the air assault had started sooner but, from my understanding, the fire conditions had something to do with that. Good old Governator skipped all the paperwork to get us help. So right now, it looks like a total kick ass job by him and the county leaders.

Isn't it scary to know that with all the advances we've made in the last century-plus, we still don't have control over the elements? They can still strike us down within a few days. I'm telling you, seeing all that red (burning areas) on a map and recognizing that your area is surrounded is a real panic. Monday and Tuesday, I was imagining being caged in with no escape. Thanks to the heroics of the community--firefighters, law enforcement, officials, citizens who are donating $$$ and time for the recovery--things are looking up.

Unfortunately, there are sucky stories to go with the ones that show humanity at its best. Consider these tidbits:

-In Ramona, two losers were caught looting evacuated homes.
(Well done, douchebags.)

-One of the fires is said to have been started by an arsonist.
(No punishment is painful enough.)

-At a local mall that served as an evacuation point, a few people built a freaking bonfire, and firefighters had to be summoned to put it out.
(Gah.)

-After one couple returned from a honeymoon to find their home in ruins, salt was added to their gaping wounds when the wife phoned some company (cable?) to let them know that they needed to shut all the services down. The company asked if the couple still had the rented satellite, the wife answered that everything was destroyed, and the company told her that she owed them $300.
(Yes, it's true. I saw this one on the news.)

So...once again, the scales of humanity balance, yin and yang. But without darkness there would be none of the light everyone else has provided. To all those who have worked so hard in this community, you're an inspiration!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Cancels HEROES for Me

Sorry, guys, but there'll be no HEROES gab tonight. I'm visiting SoCal right now and, as you probably know, there are some extremely bad fires going on. Unfortunately, we're on evacuation watch because things are not getting better. The winds are ridiculous and humidity is really low--great conditions to feed and spread fires. So far, over 500 homes have been destroyed, and we can thank an utter lack of precipitation this year for such a disaster. (Thanks, nature--you rock!)

If I have an Internet connection tomorrow, I'll pop back in and hopefully tell you everything is okay....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Whatca Reading?

I have a strange habit when it comes to reading: for the last six years or so, I've kept a little journal noting every book I've read and comments about how much I enjoyed the work. I like to go over it every once in a while, just to see how my habits and maybe even my tastes have changed.

Since I've quit teaching, my book-per-year total has gone down (I used to read about 80 works per year), and at first I was surprised. But it only makes sense. Back in the day, I would read more YA, and a lot of those stories have lower page counts. Also, I wasn't subscribing to as many magazines like The New Yorker and New York Magazine (both of which are full of possible story ideas) and I'm in to more comic series than I used to be. Those have all taken up the time I used to allot to books. Nowadays, if I reach a total of 50 books per year, I'm happy.

Other notable changes? I "read" way more audio selections now, about one per month since I listen to them when I walk. Also, I read more romances because that's how I keep up with "my competition." However, I still try to wade outside my chosen writing genres; otherwise, I feel a little boxed in, and that's not cool when reading is such a portal to other worlds. One more note: I haven't read for pleasure (outside my audio books) as much because I'm doing lots of "research reading."

Most of the scores I give to the books are pretty high, because if I'm interested enough in a work to stick with it, it shouldn't score low. However, there are some middling rankings, too, because I do find myself hoping that certain books will get better. Normally, they end before they do.

I wonder--does anyone else analyze their reading to this extent? Why do I get such enjoyment out of it?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SWEENY TODD Trailer

Are any of you excited about this one?



I love the tone--not only is it totally Tim Burton-eseque, but I feel the grunge and the hopelessness of the characters, strictly based on the color scheme and the dark circles around their eyes. I've never seen this musical, but I know about the macbre storyline. And this sounds weird, but Johnny Depp looks hot.

Yeah.

In the meantime, I haven't gone to see a movie in the theater since the latest HARRY POTTER in IMAX 3-D. It was wonderful. I think TODD will be a big-screen must though....

Monday, October 15, 2007

HEROES, 10/15

Some decent twists tonight yet, alas, no Kensei. Boo!

Anyway, here are those train-of-thought notes:

- Shoot—I was all stoked to see HRG bend back West’s fingers, but then Claire lied about not seeing a boy.

- When Nathan saw his kids at school, I thought that he must’ve taken a long, hard fall from grace if no one even acknowledges the political superstar he was (the teacher didn't seem to, but maybe she was totally focused on protecting the kids? Still, if a disgraced celebrity-type showed up at my school, I would've given him a "Whoa! I know you're a scumbag, but you're famous, too" look.) I suppose, in public, that's why he wears The Beard of Hiding.

- Yup, that’s Sylar pulling the oldest horror movie trick in the book by lying in the middle of a road. I can’t wait to hear how Mr. No Powers got off that island. It didn’t seem to take too long, either, if the Goo Twins and the stoner dude are still on their way to America.

- 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: feral vamps rock!

- Grammy Trekker is crusty and funny!

- Confession: West’s shirt looked too tight and that made me feel a little bit sorry for him. I know.

- The Beard—it is gone! Ooo-wah-ooo-wah.

- Shouldn’t the dumb Goo Twin’s oh-oh radar be screaming when Sylar gets all smarmy and “I know Dr. Suresh”? He sounds like a skeezy guy I would be stuck in a back seat with during a road trip—because that’s my life.

- Monica is spunky and cute so I don’t mind her having POV scenes. Still…Anders has been sacrificed for yet another dang storyline.

- I just… (sigh) How does no one know that West can fly when the fool does it during the day all the time? Maybe I missed something about him having a cloaking function. Did I?

- Oooo—Parkman’s dad is an oldie! Cool, and I love that he has such a goofy smile in the picture. Like father like son. Also, did I see Joanna Cassidy alongside him? That would be sweet.

- Relationship hint for Claire: if a guy tells you to jump from the Hollywood sign, either he’s got an unsettling sense of humor or your relationship is headed for some serious grossness. Maybe both. (Did the writers know that there was a notorious old suicide in that location? Just wondering.)

- Awwwwww. Micah tries to “fix” Monica. Super darling. And does her power have something to do with televised images?

- OMG—little Peter! (And I’m not being dirty.) He’s all dressed for a dance. It’s almost adorable enough to erase the following burned Nathan mirror image, which reminds me of Jessica/Niki, another absentee this week.

- I don’t like seeing Sylar’s chest hair.

- Question answered about Monica. Interesting power.

- Hmmm—first pretty good cliffhanger of the season. I do miss the greatness of last year’s though.

Finally, in the previews…KRISTIN BELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Things are about to get goooooood.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

At Celise's Place: Teen Read Week

Celise Downs, who frequently stops by, is celebrating Teen Read Week this coming week. As an ex-middle school teacher, I think this is a great thing, because it's so very tough to battle X-Boxes and Playstation with books. But once a reluctant readers finds a work that interests them--that's huge. So any attention we can give to this push would be great!

Additionally, Celise is giving away prizes and posting "character interviews" based on questions culled from the blog posters. I love this interview idea, and I think there'll be lots of fun to be had. (And how can you resist asking questions to a character named Draven Atreides? Love it!)

Click here to go to Celise's blog!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

That Sophomore Outing: ALIAS, HEROES, and MIDNIGHT REIGN

I’m in the middle of going over the galleys for MIDNIGHT REIGN. It’s the last time I’ll get to make corrections before the book goes to print, so I’m looking at every word, every concept very carefully. Since this is book two in a trilogy (and now a bigger series composed of trilogies), I started thinking about what makes a follow-up installment work and what doesn’t. Naturally, during a break, my mind even drifted to some of my favorite geek pursuits. It was unavoidable. ALIAS. HEROES.

But how did my fangirl musings apply to my galleys?

Well, these two shows both had/have sophomore seasons, just like Vampire Babylon, Book Two. But they developed in different ways, and I think (I hope) MIDNIGHT REIGN recalls the second season of ALIAS more than the emerging HEROES continuation.

What’s the difference between those follow-up installments for ALIAS and HEROES? Why did one please the fans while the other is causing all kinds of grumbling on a great number of message boards?

I think the big key here is that when we returned to ALIAS, the writers decided to concentrate on exploring Sydney’s character (and all the beloved returning ones) while HEROES has introduced new ones instead. Oftentimes, it even seems as if HEROES is trying to develop the old characters by seeing how they react to these unknown new forces instead of turning their gazes to what’s already been planted within. To me, this results in superficial character growth at best. With ALIAS, we delved deeper into Sydney’s family and what she’d been lacking all those years by having a “dead” mother and a distant father; in other words, the driving force of the series wasn’t spy games as much as it was Sydney coming to terms with how her rediscovered family fit into a life filled with spy games. (Oddly enough, on the surface, Dawn Madison, my Vampire Babylon heroine, is dealing with the same family dynamics, except her mom may or may not be a vampire and she can’t reconcile with her dad because he’s still missing.)

However, with HEROES, we get Hiro in Japan, interacting on a plot-only-level with those new characters. Now, as much as I love Kensei, how much are we really finding out about Hiro? Sure, he wants to kiss the princess, but I think the “romance” with Charlie from season one told us much more about what Hiro is willing to sacrifice. At the end of the last episode, when Hiro decided to stay in Japan, this introduced a possibility that we might be on a path to some character discovery. I hope. And, to be fair, we’re still at the start of season two, but with the addition of the Goo Twins (and the upcoming New Orleans characters), our time with our old favorites has been diluted, and the writers have so far made the choice to give us plot over characterization. (And I don’t want to hear that “It’s just a comic book! What do you expect?” Sorry, there are plenty of comics out there that balance characterization with plot. “Being a comic book” is no excuse.) The thing is, we know HEROES can do better. Remember “Company Man”? I do, and it gave Noah Bennet a well-rounded, very human composition. Better yet, it illuminated his family, too. There’s hope for Peter, with his “What’s in the box” identity mystery, but so far, all I know is that he’s had his shirt off most of the time.

So while I’m reading MIDNIGHT REIGN, I’m asking myself how my own sophomore outing is structured. There are new peripheral characters involved with a new mystery, but each book in the series uses a what-the-hell-is-happening prologue for its structure. Frank’s whereabouts, which some readers consider to be a main plot mystery of NIGHT RISING, wasn’t really “the big question of the book” in my view—that was Jesse Shane’s murder. Instead, I always saw the whereabouts of Dawn’s missing dad as more of a driving force for her character arc, and that’s something I strongly believe couldn’t be wrapped up in one book. Frank’s situation (which will be uncovered in MIDNIGHT REIGN) allows Dawn to keep growing; what she learns about herself by taking a closer look at him forces her to come to terms with the ugliness within herself. Although she’s trying very hard to do that, it’s a struggle. She’s developed behavior patterns over the years—defenses. Shedding them is an act of courage in itself.

But, in the end, I think that’s how Dawn will eventually become a hero, too….

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Word About the Web Sites

Just FYI: the updated Web sites should be up within the week, if not a couple of days. They're going through some big changes and you'll see what I mean in a few months for www.vampirebabylon.com and then early in the year for www.crystal-green.com.

So please bear with me! I'm really excited about what's going to be happening. :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

HEROES, 10/08

There was a distressing lack of bare male chestage tonight. Hmph. Otherwise, some neat-o stuff, and if you think I'm in a dither because Kensei's storyline appears to be over and done with, read on....

- We open in Metaphorland, where the mystery box serves to introduce the general theme of “not knowing yourself.” We focus on Peter, the manboy who has struggled with a search for self-identity since episode one. Interestingly, the theme is carried out fairly deftly by the end of tonight's action....

- Back when I had time to post on the eHarlequin boards, someone commented that Nadia from ALIAS was “fretful.” I just about fell on my butt laughing because it was such a perfect description. I daresay that it applies to Maya, as well. She is forever fretting, although having black goo leaking from one's eyes entitles her to this character trait.

- Hey, Micah! I just saw you in LADY IN THE WATER. You were a preternaturally smart kid in that, too.

- D.L. is…dead? Seriously? For sure?

- Sylar awakens in a Corona commercial. And…HAH! A new form for Candace! Missy Peregrym is on REAPER now, but unfortunately her role there isn’t quite as interesting as Candace was even within her first 5 minutes of HEROES last year.

- Hiro would do many of us a huge favor if he would just stick an arrow a liiiiiiiiittle bit lower, say, in Kensei’s abs. This, in turn, would require Mr. David Anders to remove more of his shirt so we can see him…erm…healing.

- Alejandro may look like ass, but West embodies it.

- LOL for Kensei’s giddy expression after Hiro tells him he can survive anything. I love K’s mercenary rakishness. Such the bad, bad boy. I would delight in the opportunity to punish him.

- Do West’s powers include the extra special bonus of no one being able to see him flitting amongst the clouds in broad daylight? What was that?

- Masi Oka, you do longing so well.

- OMG, the Goo Twins do not interest me AT ALL.

- Peter’s chest squeezing out bullets! I did not need to see that, even though it was super cool.

- SPECULATION! (If you don’t want any, then continue to the next part….) It looks as if Kensei’s story has come to an end, but if you’ve been keeping up with news, you know that David Anders was hired as a regular after this season’s filming was well under way. (Of course I know that, people.) I think he wasn’t on the Comic-Con HEROES panel because, at the time, this first Kensei story was already wrapped. Then, after the writers realized what a great character and actor they had on their hands (and after they heard a massive roomful of women go squee when Anders ripped off that Kensei mask during the Con previews), they snapped him back up again. Therefore, I don't think it'll be too long before Anders returns. This is the only reason I am quite calm right now and hardly amping out about the apparent conclusion to Kensei’s story.

- Annnnnnnd here we remind the audience of the “who am I”/”what’s in the box” theme with the reveal of Candace’s true form. Candace, we hardly got to explore your neurotic need to shield the figure nature gave you. Besides, the second actress was doing a pretty good job of maintaining Missy Peregrym’s inflections and body language. Bummer.

- Nice reveal of Sylar’s location. I would normally hope that he’s totally screwed and will be major alligator bait, except we all know that Sylar always manages to slither out of every tough situation. He sucks.

- Okay, you all. You know who you are. Stop imagining that Peter’s smooching on you.

- How many of you were anticipating West’s “the man with the horned-rimmed glasses” during that build up? Question: if the perv’s been spying on Claire, wouldn’t he already have seen HRG around? So is West lying right now? Is he working for The Company and reeling Claire in?

- I will go into a depression if HRG dies. Yeah, I know the writers are messing with us, but the mere thought makes me a little panicky.

So. Some pretty good stuff tonight. BTW, does anyone else think that the creators have substituted the previews for last year’s killer cliffhangers?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New TV Season Report Card, Part Two

Here are the new offerings....

TELL ME YOU LOVE ME – HBO - Yes, I am one of the pervs watching this “ooooo it’s got so much dirty sex” show but, strangely, I find the therapy sessions way more addictive than the “naughty” scenes. If you’re not familiar with the premise, the action follows couples who are experiencing trouble in their relationships, and their growth (or regression) is tracked through the way they’re relating through sex. It’s got an indie-movie feel, and the situations seem unsettlingly real at times.

CHUCK – NBC – This show has that extra “something” that’s going to keep me watching. I think it’s the charm of the nerdy leading man and maybe even the utter dorkiness of his best friend Morgan, who manages to crack me up even as he annoys me. And then there’s Adam Baldwin, who rocks all kinds of kick ass as a shady spy guy. But the clincher? When Chuck revealed a secret about LOST’s Oceanic Flight 815 in the second episode. Love!

JOURNEYMAN – NBC – We’re gonna see about this one. I’m slightly intrigued by the supposedly dead ex-girlfriend who’s also slipping through time with the hero, but as of right now, Dan’s time traveling purposes aren’t making a lot of sense in the bigger picture. However, Reed Diamond from HOMICIDE is in it, and I’ve missed him dearly.

REAPER – CW – Love the premise: on Sam’s 21st birthday, he discovers that his parents sold his soul to the devil and Satan himself has come to put Sam to work as a bounty hunter for souls that have escaped hell. This show is cute and has its moments of hilarity, but the extra “something” that CHUCK has is missing for me. I’m already a little worn out on the “Sam gets his weekly vessel and uses it to capture the freak of the week” pattern, but I'll stick with this because there's lots of potential.

PUSHING DAISIES – ABC – Wow. Okay, in my last blog entry, which I had written before seeing this on my DVR, I said there were no shows that blew me away this season. I was wrong. PUSHING DAISIES has everything: a fresh tone, a surprisingly edgy mystery, and colorful characters I want to know more about. I love the “death touch” rules and how they affect The Pie Maker and Chuck’s relationship, and Chi McBride’s practical PI lends some weight and balance to all the heavily advertised whimsy. Some of the romantic moments can approach overkill, but that’s okay by me; the over-the-top-ness absolutely fits the mood. This one’s a keeper.

KID NATION – CBS – I’m still not sure whether to like this or not. I enjoy seeing the feisty youngsters devoting so much energy and pride to their work, but every once in a while, when CBS suggests they kill a chicken, I’ll hate myself for watching.

PRIVATE PRACTICE – ABC – Didn’t really like the “backdoor” pilot during GREY’S ANATOMY last season. Didn’t like the first real episode at all. Lasted a half hour. I airlocked this one already.

BIONIC WOMAN – NBC – I basically enjoyed the pilot from Comic-Con, but we’ll see about this one, too. Again, like REAPER, I realized there’s “something” missing here for me. Heart? Soul?

KITCHEN NIGHTMARES – Fox – I’ve already blogged about this, and I’m still bummed out that the producers made this American production a freak show instead of a decent improvement story the audience can emotionally invest in. However, the last episode was better, so we’ll see.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY – ABC –I have to say that I kinda adore this show. I see all kinds of possibilities for the kooky Darling family, and Peter Krause? Miss him from SIX FEET UNDER and am happy to be in his comforting everyman presence again.

BIG SHOTS – ABC – Three words: Special Agent Vaughn. Thus, no matter how bad the premiere was, I’m watching. But there’s good news ahead: Rob Thomas of VERNONICA MARS genius will be coming on as show-runner. Sweet!

MAD MEN – AMC – This amazing show started during the summer. Beautiful cinematography, killer period setting, poignant storytelling with an edge, and it’s been renewed for a second season. Sometimes the suits do get it right.

MOONLIGHT – CBS – I don’t know, you all. I should love this show, yet I don’t. Attractive vampire hero? Check. Plucky mortal heroine for whom the hero pines? Check. Noirish setting and vibe? Check. So why am I not into it?

We'll see what falls away during the coming weeks. In the meantime, what are you all watching?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New TV Season Report Card, Part One

It's that time again!

Yes, I have been sampling all the TV premieres in an attempt to weed out the programs that won't earn a season pass on my recording thingie. I have to say that, so far, there aren't any new shows that have really grabbed me like LOST did when it premiered a few years ago, or even when HEROES did last year, but there's still lots of potential.

So without further yappity-yap, here're some thoughts about the returning shows that have previously been on my schedule. I'll be posting new programs Saturday....

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM – HBO - Although there are still uncomfortable laughs every once in a while, I can’t help but think that some of the joy has been sucked from this show. Maybe it has to do with Larry David’s personal life, but the situations don’t seem as fresh. For a show that didn’t seem to follow a formula, things seem mired in one now.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – ABC – This show is “on notice” for me, meaning that I’m willing to drop it. But with Nathan Fillion and Dana Delany moving into the neighborhood, I’m interested again!

DEXTER – Showtime – It’s gory yet humorous, depraved yet somehow moralistic. Dexter, the serial killer who takes out his sociopathic urges on society’s deviants, is a complex character. I love him and the Miami setting—plus all the tense murder scenarios that twisted through season one. I’m optimistic season two will be just as good, with Dexter experiencing mental and external barriers in his quest to “take out the trash” around his community.

BROTHERS & SISTERS – ABC – I have grown to absolutely love this show. Maybe it’s the way the actors have come to fully embody the characters. Maybe it’s the clever, sharp writing. Who knows, but I never predicted that I would ever enjoy Calista Flockhart again—and I totally do.

PRISON BREAK – Fox – After the corny wigginess of season two, where every attempt was made to stretch the limits of reality, I didn’t know what to expect from season three. I’m happy to say that since Michael the Hottie has been incarcerated in a jail that is far worse than the place he first escaped, things are copasetic. Yeah, PRISON BREAK is still moronic most times, but it’s back to being a fun kind of moronic, thanks to some relatively tighter writing. It’s not back to season one form, but I’ll stick around to get me some more of Hottie’s blue steel.

DANCING WITH THE STARS – ABC – What’s there to say except that Albert got a raw deal and I’m rooting for Scary Spice all the way?

HEROES – NBC – If you all have been reading my horny blog entries late every Monday night, this needs no further explanation.

AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL – CW – Like eating Dreyer’s Slow Churned ice cream, this show provides empty half-the-calories, but such yummy pleasure. Same as it ever was.

UGLY BETTY – ABC – Love! True, the opening episode’s heavy-handed Santos fake out wasn’t cool, but OMG did I miss Mark and Amanda.

MY NAME IS EARL – NBC – A one-hour supersized opening episode was a bad idea for a show that’s really funny during the thirty minutes it should be allotted. Even so, there are too many belly laughs every week for me to give this one up.

30 ROCK – NBC – The Seinfeld premiere is tonight, and I’m stoked. By the end of last season, this show got extremely harrylarious.

SMALLVILLE – CW – A promising start to the season, IMHO. Lana is still alive (Boo!), but Chloe is, too, and that’s good enough for me. Also, Supergirl should be a strong addition; it sounds as if they’re going to be using the latest DC backstory for her, and that spells trouble for Clark seeing as (SPOILER! Don’t keep reading if you don’t want to know: Kara was dispatched from Krypton before it exploded in an effort to assassinate Kal-El wherever he ended up). Yee-hah!

GREY’S ANATOMY – ABC – My DVR didn’t record the opening episode, and I’m surprised to realize that I don’t really care. Unexpected but true.

THE OFFICE – NBC – Like MY NAME IS EARL, the one-hour opener was stretched out, hence diluting the funny. But I’m still their huckleberry.

CSI – CBS – I’d stopped watching this one until last season, when the Miniature Killer visited all that havoc on the team. I realized how good the writing was, so I’m back.

Tune in Saturday for those new programs!

Monday, October 01, 2007

HEROES, 10/1

Pretty fun stuff tonight, and much of it seemed to revolve around shirtless men and toe snipping.

Stream of consciousness notes:

- We open with Peter, shirtless and WET. Now this is the way to start a show, damn it!

- Oooo—Kensei nipplage. I’m way too excited about this little peek, and I'm afraid to analyze what that means about my psyche.

- Oh, God—the second I see the computer lizard getting a limb cut off, I know that this will be the episode in which Claire will cut off her toe. (Remember my Comic-Con report about the teaser footage?) By the way, West is still creeping me out.

- Quoth Alejandro to Maya after she worries that she’ll lose control again: “I won’t let that happen.” Um, does anyone recall him saying that during the last episode right before peoples’ eyes started dripping black goo?

- Mohinder speaking French = hu-humana humana. As if his regular accent wasn’t hot enough. (And I think I remember him speaking a little like a valley guy at the Comic-Con panel. It was weird to hear an un-accented Suresh. Weird and bummer-like.)

- Princess Leia alert! Lone chick goes samurai on a bunch of men. Fiesty.

- LOL for Hiro “Kensei” using his powers. And LOL for “Kensei” suggesting the name for the so-called battle.

- Nice moment between “Kensei” and the princess. Annnnnnd this will lead us to the tried-and-true Cyrano romantic plot in which the masquerading sad-sack hero will make the heroine fall for the undeserving faux-hero. Meh.

- Eeeeeeeeeeeek—freakin’ Maya with those eyes! Okay, she is officially creepier than West. At least until he shows up on screen again. Then it's an open race for the title.

- At this point, I’m like, “David Anders better be in this next segment.” Nope.

- Too bad Claire can’t grow back cars like she does limbs.

- Heh—Gramama Petrelli and Kaito got busy back in the day! Saucy.

- This serial killer confuses me. “He” had to skulk around in a hoodie and gracelessly mow Kaito down from a building last time. But now his assault on Gramama looks far more elaborate and hero-ish. Wonder why. Any theories? Will it even turn out to be the same killer in spite of the "clue"?

- WHERE’S ANDERS??????????????????????????????

- Finally.

- So the princess didn’t notice a height difference between “Kensei” and Kensei? She might be fiesty, but not that bright.

- We all knew Kensei wasn’t dead. He’s just Claire.

- Le Haitian! Welcome back.

- Uh, yeah—the toe snip in all its barfy glory. I think watching it grow back was even nastier than seeing it cut off. Even creepier though? West’s mug in the window.

Will we become familiar with Peter’s package next week? (Tee hee.) And Claire was looking pissed at HRG. Will West turn out to be a bad influence?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bookshelf: MEN, WOMEN AND CHAINSAWS


What a title, eh? This is a book that's been used in college film studies courses, but the title and the subject matter made me pick it up. Basically, besides being a rumination on how gender is used and twisted in horror movies, it's also a collection of thoughts that dwell on the reason a main audience of younger males is attracted to a genre in which the "winning" protagonist in the end turns out to be a woman.

The author, Carol J. Clover, isn't a true horror fan--she admits that, and tells us that she watched a certain amount of movies as a base for her studies. Also, this book is pretty dated, and it doesn't include the more recent influx of "scary" movies from the past couple of decades, from more cerebral thrillers that filled the vacuum of slasher movies after the genre petered out in the late 80s to the wave of PG-13 wastes of time that are being released now. There's no Cronenberg DEAD RINGERS, for instance (a movie which I find to be deeply disturbing and horrific) and no post-SCREAM meta-scary movie references. But what's here is very interesting, because Clover essentially takes a genre that has garnered very little intellectual credit and gives it a lot of power. She even compares the structure of slasher movies to that of fairy tales, which ends up making perfect sense.

In one section, she even dissects a cult movie that many critics take great happiness in hating: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Clover's thoughts are fascinating. I saw that movie long ago--and, yes, it was very unsettling--but I never even suspected that deeper psychological and sociological workings were afoot. I never realized there was even an entire subgenre of "country versus city" horror movies being released at the time and that, in Clover's point of view, they are a throwback to earlier "cowboy versus Indian" movies.

I guess this book is more intriguing if you've watched hundreds of horror movies, but what she has to say about actions defining gender in these films rather than *gender* defining gender is worth exploring....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

MIDNIGHT REIGN: In Three Paragraphs or Less


It's a little scary to get your newest cover, but the back cover copy always makes me pay much more attention--especially if the book in question is a mystery. You always want to make sure that the intended audience is teased, not spoiled. With the Vampire Babylon books in particular, this is a huge concern for me, so when I got the back cover copy for MIDNIGHT REIGN, I went over every line, every detail.

Thanks goodness it still gave me goosebumps by the time I got to the last line!

So kudos to the person at Ace who wrote it, and here it is for you to preview....

IN L.A., WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN—THE DEAD COME OUT…

Stuntwoman Dawn Madison reluctantly returned to Hollywood to find her missing father, Frank. Instead, she found something else beneath the streets of Los Angeles—a thriving society of the undead, one she could never have imagined existed. It’s an erotic and bloody night world that Dawn came to believe cost both her father and her long-dead mother—the glamorous movie star, Eva Claremont—their lives. Still, she and Frank’s friends risked everything, pressing on with the investigation.

Now a new slaying, bearing all the marks of a vampire attack, is luring Dawn farther into the underground and deeper into the twisted lives of those who inhabit it, just as her tenuous alliances in the sunlit world begin shifting ominously. It seems she has only herself to trust and her newfound skills as a hunter to rely on.

But Dawn will find that she is not alone—although some who stand with her, stand only in the shadows…

Praise for Night Rising

“A book to die for.”—Gena Showalter, author of The Nymph King

“If you like your fantasy with an edge, then you’ve struck gold.”—The Eternal Night

“A killer mystery.”—Kelley Armstrong

BTW, in October, I'll be posting the first chapter on my Web sites and continuing to add to that excerpt until MIDNIGHT REIGN is released in February!

Monday, September 24, 2007

HEROES, 9/24

So what did you all think of the premiere? Aside from David Anders (and, rest assured, we will get to him), I was mildly pleased. After the “explosive” events from the finale, I did expect there to be more of a fallout, but with the four-months-later cushion, it felt as if we missed some resulting drama. I even wondered for a time why it seemed as if these characters, most of who felt a sense of isolation because of their emerging powers, hadn’t stayed together to try to figure them out. Later in the show, we saw that some of them do stay in contact, though I’m not sure where Niki is in all this. Looks like we’ll find out next week.

As always, here’re my stream-of-consciousness babblings:

- One of the first scenes we’re treated to is Maya and Alejandro (wha? who?) booking it down some dusty street in L.A….er…Honduras. I immediately think, “Whoa—new characters right now? Before we jump into more storylines, I would like to know if Peter and Nathan really exploded, please.”

- Awwwww for HRG and Claire. They became my faves last year (again, they’re the heart of this series, IMHO). Do you all think Claire’s going to have a story similar to Clark Kent’s in the first seasons of SMALLVILLE? (Jeph Loeb works on that series, too.) Looks like she’s going to have to deal with hiding her powers in the hell of high school as well as put up with at least one freak of the week (and…we’ll get to him later, as well).

- Matt Parkman! Has he truly gone from most annoying character to badass Psycop and cool pseudo-daddy?

- I catch my first glimpse of The Beard and I shudder. I cannot help but think there’s a colony of raging superinsects in there.

- Now…THE MOMENT ARRIVES. I can tell by the way the masked man moves—sleek, bad-boy, spy-like—it’s our Sarkie. And when he removes that mask…
EEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Mask-whipping-offage has never ever caused such a nationwide hot flash, I’ll bet. Hiro puts his glasses on in a double take and I must laugh. Comedy gold—can you guys see it in the future for these two? The only drawback so far is having to read the subtitles while Kensei/Sark/Anders is on screen. I do not appreciate being deprived of even a moment of basking in a visage I have missed so much.

- Oh, my heart… To see HRG reduced to this job. Ouch.

- And, yes, we have the British accent from Anders! HOT! (Trivia for non-ALIAS fans: David Anders is from, like, Oregon or something, but he used the Brit accent in ALIAS. The return of it is a gift, my friends. A gift. )

- Quote of the night? Gramma Petrelli to Hiro’s daddy, her voice hinting at a dominatrix-like subtext: “Let me see it.”
I know, I know. But didn’t anyone else go, “Heh,” and then get all embarrassed at themselves because they realized they’d never gotten out of the sixth grade?

- Also, when the uppity “peasant” girl (sure, like she’s not Princess Leia) slapped Kensei, did anyone think, “He’s Captain Jack Sparrow! Savvy?”? And when Hiro was trying to talk Kensei into helping, surely someone else was flashing back to Luke Skywalker bargaining with Han Solo after they broke into the guard station at the Death Star and they found out the princess was being held prisoner on the base. Having said all that, even if I didn’t have a girl woody for David Anders, I’d still be digging this character. He’s a breath of fresh air in an episode that was mostly business.

- What a taut Bennett family dinner until Mom embarked upon her faintly disturbing Mr. Muggles commentary.

- Yikes for the weird obsessed voyeur kid who seemed like a possible boyfriend for Claire. Please tell me they aren’t going to have a relationship after that.

- Do you all think the murderer is someone we know or another new character? Looked like a guy, didn’t it?

So it ends up that the previews they showed us during the HEROES panel at Comic-Con weren’t a fake out in any way. From David Anders taking off his mask (I’m dyin’ here) to Peter shading his eyes from the light entering his cell (AKA Karm’s love dungeon) they gave us the real deal.

Looking forward to next week to see how Peter’s identity is in that box….