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!