Tag Archives: Hush Money

The Price of Evil

I watched the first Lord of the Rings this morning. Yes, again. Don’t ask me what got me started on that–though I mostly blame seeing the preview for The Hobbit when we went to see Brave over the weekend. I can’t get it out of my head.

A lot of stories show the price of evil in the smackdown of the bad guy at the end. Yay, we all like a good smackdown.

Lots of stories show a price for fighting evil. Superheroes pay this a lot in dead girlfriends and other loved ones who have to be avenged, loved ones who have to be left behind for their own protection, etc. Heroes pay a price for their decision to fight evil in loneliness, physical injury, and sometimes death.

What I saw in Fellowship of the Ring this morning was a price paid for…consorting with evil. For living with it. Frodo took up the burden of the ring, right? This, like, tangibly evil thing. And we get to see it work on him throughout the trilogy. Even his physical appearance is altered. We see the evil working on everyone, causing them to argue, to let fear and pride get in the way of things. We see it work especially on Boromir, who is supposed to be the weakest link, as far as character goes. By the end of the trilogy, Frodo’s so altered that he can’t do what he most wanted to do–get back to life in the shire. (That was a real bummer, wasn’t it?)

Well, anyway, it just struck me as I watched it and paid particular attention to that thread of the story, that it’s an interesting one. The idea that, even when your intentions are noble, there’s a price for consorting with evil, for carrying it, because it taints you.

The Buffy series seemed to play with these ideas, especially in the later seasons. They find out about how the Slayer line was created. Buffy dies and comes back. There’s a point where she faced, confronted, and consorted with so much darkness that she begins to see herself as one of the dark things.

Basic stuff we know… Interesting characters care about things. They want things. It’s like dukkha, the noble truths, that whole Zen thing where you suffer because you want, and if you’d just let go of the want you’d feel better. Their dissatisfaction creates personalities that make for interesting reading. Their motivations play into interesting dramas.

When I make characters, I do think about what they want and how that affects them. I do think about making things hard for them and their being a price to pay for doing the heroic thing. But this idea of paying a price for associating with evil isn’t something I’ve played with very much in my head.

It’s insidious.

I kinda like it.

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under ideas

Lifestyles…

Okay, so maybe I’m just a little bit jealous that two of my writer friends have moved into bigger and more beautiful houses this year. Generally I’m okay with the whole it’s a bit dilapidated, but it’s mine thing, but, yeah, we all have those days when we’d like to be a little more Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

I reached a breaking point yesterday when my husband said he wanted to take us to the lake. It was well over 100 degrees all weekend, and, as much as I wanted to participate in a family outing and not be party pooper, there was just no way this I could tolerate the great outdoors, unsheltered, for an entire afternoon. It doesn’t take 5 minutes in the sun for me to start burning.

So I really want to thank everyone who purchased Talent Chronicles books or encouraged others to try them in May because I took my recently acquired royalties for that month and bought a lake house. Which will hereafter be referred to as The Lake House.

The Lake House, brought to you by Coleman Instant Shelter

Spending 5 hours at the lake and NOT being a whiny byotch or, like, dying? Priceless.

Swanky, yeah?You can see here that I have used my mad decorating skillz so that, practically within moments of moving in, The Lake House has already gained the “homey,” “lived-in” quality we enjoy at home.

When my husband was in the Marines we lived right on the beach in Oceanside, CA. Like, the sand was my front yard. Tiny little studio apartment–the whole thing could fit in my living room now. I…was not in a position to love it, being all alabaster and all. But anyway, we always used to get together with the neighbors in the complex and do a big fourth of July thing. And someone would always put up a sign: If you lived here, you’d be home now.

But now I have The Lake House, so I figure I can be home anywhere. Not to be outdone by all the new furniture and accessories my friends have been acquiring, I bought a new chair for my daughter.

She’s reading Super Diaper Baby. I have an “at least she’s reading” sort of feeling about this.

For our next acquisition, we are discussing the purchase of DE-luxe, multipurpose beds that can be napped on in The Lake House, or on the water. (!!) Want to see the water? Here’s the awesome view from The Lake House.

View from The Lake House

This is actually my husband, who spends very little time in The Lake House, being someone who actually likes the outside (???) on a borrowed jet ski.

You know who really likes The Lake House? Beau. It was his first time swimming. I tried to get a good picture of him, but he was kind of camera shy.

Beau is camera shy

“Paparazzi needs to leave a dog alone,” Beau thought. “And I thought life as the dog of an indie author was going to be all ease and glamour.”
I don’t know how that rumor got started, Beau.

Diet Coke wishes, Pringles dreams, friends. Cheers!

4 Comments

Filed under me me me

Stock Up on eBooks

So here’s a friendly reminder that the semi-annual sale at Smashwords starts today and runs through the whole month of July. Not all authors participate in the sale (I didn’t participate in the last one because my head was up my butt and I forgot to enroll), but many do and you’ll find tons of indie ereads at discounts from 25%-100% off (for the remedial math crowd, 100% off = free). For my part, should you want to recommend these to your friends…

Impulse Control Cover

Always FREE

Hush Money Cover

FREE in July
Coupon SSWIN

Heroes 'Til Curfew Cover Art

50% off in July
Coupon SSW50

So get going and grab up books until your virtual TBR pile looks like the Buffy Tower of Crazy.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Talent Chronicles

Look! A good book!

I’m a curmudgeon of a reader and I don’t read that much that gives me true delight. It’s because I’m an equal opportunity bitch and I can be as critical of other people’s books as I can of mine–and we’ve seen how critical I can be of myself. But maybe that’s why I keep reading. It’s that slot machine effect that if I just keep pulling that handle, one of these is going to pay off and make me really happy.

Enter Soulless, the first of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate. I’ve been doing a lot of flitting lately, and this one was very nearly a victim of my short attention span. It’s been on my TBR for some time, but I decided to give it a try even though I’ve got several things started right now. I just didn’t want to read any of them.

Well, Soulless didn’t grab me either. While it started out kind of amusing, it was a bit over the top. I’m not a comedy girl. I think of myself as a hardcore drama queen, and I was starting to think that this book was going to be just a bit too light for me, thank you. So I closed it on page 12 and went to bed. And it stayed closed for a few weeks until Kait started reading it.

Not suprisingly, Kait loved it. Kait loves the comedy. She likened it to Amelia Peabody. There’s another one I enjoyed at first but then got meh about because it was too light for me. And this kind of confirmed that this was not a book for me. But then Kait said something else. And it must have been on GoogleTalk since it wasn’t part of this post. Something about having left Alexia intertwined with the naked Earl of Woosley and needing to get back.

Now, friends, I am a simple girl. Some days this is all it takes for me to go back for a second look.

I picked the book back up and, wouldn’t you know, within the next two paragraphs I was completely hooked. Two paragraphs. Had I read far enough to see Alexia and Lord Maccon interact, their delightful chemistry and the promise of how Carriger was going to handle them, I would have been completely taken. I then proceeded to read the book as straight through as life would permit.

If you don’t know what it’s about, you can read that at Amazon. I don’t think I could do any better.

What I can tell you that the blurb doesn’t is that part of the delight of reading this book is that there were moments when I thought I could feel how much Carriger loved writing it. And in that way the Universe seems to have of pushing me around giving me helpful nudges in the right direction, I realized that was just the kind of thing I need right now. I needed to be reminded that, whether it’s light and funny, or dark and angsty, it’s important to remember that we love writing it.

That I love it.

So yes, it is all about me, isn’t it? Sorry for the self-indulgent tangent.

In a summary of tags:

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1)

Well-written, funny, strong heroine, excellent world-building, a take on vampires that is not yawn-inducing, steampunk lite, spinster gets her man, and, which perhaps I should have mentioned first, a hot werewolf.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under book review

Talent Chronicles at your neighborhood bookstore

Well, if your neighborhood is Somerville, MA.

Otherwise you’re probably SOL.

Months ago–I don’t know how many months ago, but it’s been some months–I made an offer to donate my books to libraries and to give free copies of my books to indie bookstores so that they could try them out without risk. I don’t know if it’s just because I haven’t gone out of my way to publicize this, but there’s been very little interest in the program so far. I’m not independently wealthy, so I didn’t want to get in over my head and didn’t shout it from the rooftops, but I did expect some interest and more word-of-mouth than what I’ve seen.

Not bitching, really, just reporting as it’s interesting to me and maybe interesting to my indie author friends (that I can’t even give books away, LOL).

Anyways, Massachusetts is the place to be for the Talent Chronicles in paperback. I sent books to the Somerset Public Library back in February. This week I had the pleasure of correspondence with Gil Barbosa, owner of family-run independent THE BOOK SHOP, in Somerville. Gil told me that he was putting my books in his window display, so if you happen by, feel free to snap a picture for me.

5 Comments

Filed under books

Stakes: Not just for vampires

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but I’m in the middle of this epic sewing project I committed to have finished by…next week. And of course I had months to do it and procrastinated, as is my wont. The upside is that the marathon sewing gives me time to indulge in video marathons to keep me company. The last few days I’ve been rewatching My-Hime.

Basically, Mai and her little brother, who seem to be on their own in the world (as is often case in such fictions), are given scholarships to attend a private boarding school, Fuka Academy. But even on the boat that will take them there, strange things start happening, and continue to happen once they arrive at the school. Mai soon discovers that it’s her destiny to fight as a Hime–some warrior princess deal. She has to accept her “child,” a superpowered living robot sort of thing, and agree to fight against the orphans–which are evil superpowered living robot things–threatening the school. The school and town seem to be somehow connected some evil dark immortal forces of stars (well, one particular star), there’s a sinister corporation and a secret sinister government organization stirring up trouble, as well as eleven other Hime–not all of whom are nice and want to use their powers for good.

So, there’s plenty going on, and I’m the first to admit that it’s not all easy to follow, especially when you’re casually viewing while doing other things. And one of the complaints I see most frequently leveled at My-Hime is an imbalance between the first and second halves of the series. It’s not unfounded.  The first half is very light and humorous, compared to the second, when things start to really take off and get much darker. Me, I figure it’s a payoff for sitting through all the gratuitous boob humor and panty shots.

What the series does rather spectacularly is stakes.

See, all the Hime end up agreeing to fight, for one reason or another. Often it’s because they’re put in a position where they have to accept the power of the child in order to protect someone. It’s explained to them by the nasty little demon boy who’s in charge of machinations and explaining things to them and to us, that in accepting that power and agreeing to fight the orphans, there’s a risk. If your child is defeated, you will lose the thing most precious to you. And Mai, with her school girl lack of maturity, says yeah yeah, if I’m defeated I lose my life. I get it. Let’s get on with it.

Understanding love and what it means is a big theme for the show. Mai tends to be pragmatic and not given to melodrama, or maybe she would have realized that her brother’s life is more precious to her than her own. That’s certainly evident to anyone watching.

So that’s what makes the series pretty awesome. Fight or risk having these creatures kill you and the people you care about. Fight and risk losing the person you care about most if you fail. And then have lots of characters and things going on and get to start guessing which ones are Hime and who it is they care about most.

There are times in the series when Mai tries to refuse to fight, believing that, as long as she stays out of it, her brother will be safe. It never occurs to her that he might become the beloved of another Hime.

All the different relationships, the varied entanglements and the different kinds of love, all threatened by a life-and-death game in which the rules keep changing. That’s what the series holds for me.

It’s amazing how clear things get when you try to explain them to someone else. My daughter, age seven, totally gets the notion of conflict. [ETA: given the lack of proper segue, I think I need to add that My-Hime is not for little kids.] She will tell you that you can’t have a story without a problem, no hero without a villain, etc. Suffice it to say that her understanding of drama is well beyond what mine was at that age.

She hates stakes. Stakes are what make her uncomfortable.

And I’m like, no, dude, you have to have stakes because there has to be a reason to fight. You have to be scared about what could be lost in order to be relieved when it’s won. You have to scare the pants off your hero so he’ll go and fight the scary beast because, if he’s got nothing to lose, maybe he’ll just do the sensible thing and run the other way. And then I went into some spew about how, yeah, Harry just tends to go do the right thing because he’s a hero, but putting Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets made it better. Harry couldn’t lose against the Basilisk because there was more at risk than just himself, there was Ginny, a member of the family who had taken him in, which was very well set up at the beginning. Her presence brought a now it’s personal aspect to the scene that raised the drama level. (Not to mention set up a classic damsel in distress event solved with sword-wielding which many of us are hard-wired to swoon at no matter what the age of the sword-wielder.)

Did I mention My-Hime has swords?

I’m not sure how much of that got through. There’s a point at which Mom is just babbling incoherently and is best ignored.

The conversation with my daughter reminded me how natural it can be to shy away from things that are scary. How sometimes we, as writers, don’t like to go too far in what we’ll put our characters through. How we might unconsciously smooth the way for them when we should be impeding it. Maybe because we feel too much of what they feel, and maybe it’s too stressful to give them an impossible decision, an unspeakable terror, or grieve with them through an inconsolable loss.

And yet, as a reader, that’s what I want. Because when the author brings me through to the other side of that, I’ll feel like I’ve lived through something. I’ve taken an emotional journey while I was living someone else’s life. And, in the best fictions, it’s about how that changed both of us.

:throat clearing:

My-Hime: Not for everyone. Grit your teeth through all the nonsense aimed at the pubescent boys in the audience and concentrate on what’s awesome about it. You can get it from Netflix. I recently bought it from Amazon. They have the boxed set, but the individual discs are less expensive. And I’m sure you can Google around and watch it somewhere for free.

For clips, I’ll leave you with this music video…

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

If Cinderella never had a ballgown…

Everyone loves a good Cinderella story, a rags to riches tale in which a young woman (or sometimes a young man), comes from nothing and finds true love and a new life with a someone who just happens to be royalty, terribly attractive, and loaded. Win!

One thing classic Cinderella lacks a bit is…well, a good relationship plot. I mean, if the story never existed and someone tried to put it out as a romance novel right now, reviewers would be lining up to make with the bashing. What is this? One night of dancing and he’s in love with her? And her state of poverty doesn’t even MATTER? Really? And is she really in love with him, or is it just about the money? The relationship happened too fast and there just wasn’t enough there…yadda yadda yadda.

They would then go on to complain that they didn’t really like the character of Cinderella because she doesn’t do anything. For the first part of the story she’s just sort of enduring stuff. And that’s all well and good. But then, when it comes time go out and get what she wants, she has to have an outside character–some Fairy Godmother– come in and make it happen. And THEN, when she meets with that whole ticking clock obstacle and has to run off, she then just waits around for the prince to find her. Really? I mean, she’s, like, this totally passive heroine who just waits for other people to come around and turn her into a vampire change her life and make her a princess.

So, while we love Cinderella, we usually need more in our Cinderella stories these days than pretty people and fancy clothes. Which brings me to the actual subject of today’s post, the Korean drama series, Coffee Prince.

O.

M.

G.

How much did I love this show.

Strong heroine?

Check. Seriously, you cannot help but be impressed by this girl. Now twenty-four years old, Eun-Chan’s been supporting her family since her father died when she was sixteen. Her younger sister is still in school, and her mother is not the sort to be very good at, you know, working. What the mom is really good at is buying shoes. Eun-Chan teaches Taekwondo, delivers milk, delivers take-out, hand sews the eyes on stuffed dolls at five cents per piece, and does pretty much any other odd job she can get her hands on. She’s a somewhat over-the-top character with boundless energy and good humor–and she’s really, really strong. The one way in which she really differs from Cinderella Classic: she’s often mistaken for a boy.

Impossible relationship?

Check. Okay, maybe you don’t know this, but I have a thing for impossible relationships–relationships that are set up such that it seems like it would be impossible for these two characters to get together, or that there’s some bit of information that, when it comes out, will make it impossible for them to stay together.

So you can kind of guess where this is going from what I said above, right? She’s often mistaken for a boy, and that’s just what happens with her prince charming, Han Kyul. When the show really starts to get going, it’s because his family is making him go on a series of blind dates hoping he’ll find a suitable bride, and he’s miserable. So Han Kyul hires Eun Chan to help break up these boring dates by showing up posing as his gay love interest. And yeah, that pretty much does the trick.

After the family gives up trying to set him up, Han Kyul is more or less forced–in a do this or lose your cushy lifestyle sort of way–into turning a failing coffee house into a money making machine. It would be great for Eun Chan, who has just lost one of her jobs, to be able to get a steady job at a coffee shop. When Han Kyul decides to cater to the young women from the nearby university, to call the shop Coffee Prince with an all-male staff of “princes,” Eun Chan has to continue her charade of playing the boy or lose the opportunity.

The growth of their relationship is exceptionally well portrayed. Eun Chan is attracted to Han Kyul, but knows nothing can come of it because she can’t admit she’s a girl. And, if she did, she figures nothingwouldcome of it because Han Kyul’s the kind of guy who can get any girl and why would he want one who can pass for a guy? As their friendship deepens, she decides that has to be enough.

It’s on Han Kyul’s side that it gets sort of fascinating, because, as the friendship deepens, he’s clearly falling for Eun Chan. For all the right reasons: her intelligence, humor, dedication, abilities, strength of character–all the awesome about her, and there’s plenty. How she fills out a ballgown is never part of the equation. I mean, how refreshing is that? He can’t actually fall for her because…she’s not a her. But she is, and he is falling for her. But he knows he’s not gay. But he feels this. And it’s really making him quite insane.

And then, when you’re so deep into a lie like that, how do you get out? And what’s going to happen when you do?

Oh the tension! Oh, the drama!

And the humor. And the secondary characters and their storylines.

I seriously loved this show. I’d say it lost a bit of steam in the last third of the series, but I thought it was worth watching the whole thing and I really enjoyed it. Now, it’s probably NOT for you if:

  • You don’t do well with a bit of exaggeration or suspending disbelief.
  • You don’t do subtitles.
  • You don’t enjoy stories from other cultures.

I mean, some people don’t, and you might not enjoy it like I did. Like Japanese stuff, there’s exaggeration here that’s different from what we usually see in American entertainment, so there are a number of things that might seem over-the-top, especially if you’re new to Asian fictions. But know that going in and then just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. It’ll grow on you.

So if you think Coffee Prince sounds awesome, lay in some supplies, set aside about seventeen hours of your weekend, get to Hulu and check it out.

If you don’t mind being spoiled just a smidge, I found this clip on YouTube. Still thinking she’s a boy, Han Kyul is trying to cope with his more than friends feelings for Eun Chan and thinks maybe if he just hugs “him,” just once, that will make things better.

If Han Kyul had ever read a romance novel, he would know this would not work. Just sayin’. [ETA: I just noticed that the video clip got nabbed by the copyright police. Don’t you love it when you’re trying to sell someone else’s shit and they make it harder? Again, just sayin’.]

13 Comments

Filed under Recs and Links, writing

The Walking Dead video game

So, due to yesterday’s purchase of some Megamind/B.O.B the Blob DVD from the cheapy bin, I was able to grab a few moments of quiet this morning to check out the latest Game Informer magazine, despite it being Spring Break this week.

First of all, I wanted to address a few of the quotes from a feature called “Overheard at the GDC” (Game Developers Conference).

“At first glance, the logic [of targeting everyone] makes sense. Super mainstream games such as Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, and Cut the Rope have each sold ten of millions of copies. Attempting to replicate that success is natural. But in reality, if you are making a game for everyone, you are actually making a game for no one. The hit-based mentality takes you away from making a game that has a soul or is fresh.” -Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery creator Nathan Vella

Well, I’m not even going to explain to you writers why I’m passing that on.

“Personally, I don’t think I can ever follow up Minecraft, and I don’t need to. I still want to make games, but it is a bit scary to think that maybe I’ve already made my magnum opus.” – Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson

Hey, look, creators of awesome video games get subsequent book syndrome too.

“Lots of people want to make indie games, and they are usually waiting for permission to do it. All the information is right there. Just find some people and make a game.” -Doom co-creator John Romero

We talk a lot about putting out quality work, about studying and working on your craft, and not asking for money for your work until you actually have a product that’s worth charging money for. But, yeah, at some point you do have to stop waiting for permission and just take the leap. And besides, the best way to do that working on your craft thing is by, you know, doing the work. (Writing.) There’s a balance there, and I’m afraid I don’t know how you tell when you’re ready. I just know that if you ask everyone, there will always be someone around to dissuade you from moving forward.

I like the tone of that quote. Just go do it. Stop making a big, hand-wringing, forever-researching deal about it and just get it done. Then move on to the next one.

So those were some interesting thoughts from artists in another field.

Okay, so the highlight of this issue for me was the article on The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. This is supposedly set to begin in late April, as a monthly series for XBox, PS3, and PC, meaning it’s a digital download game, not a go buy the disc thing. It’s a single-player adventure that (I think I read in a different article) takes place at the beginning of the series while Grimes in in the coma. Your role is that of convict, Lee Everett, who escapes during the chaos of the beginning of the apocalypse. Along your journey, you’re supposed to hook up with a total of nine other characters for your party.

What interested me most about the article was it talked about player actions influencing the story. You know I’m into that. And this game seems to have a lot to do with group dynamics–you know, relationships. How you choose to treat the different people in your group and the actions you choose to take change the story you play through.

Anyway, I’m sure a bunch of you are saying, “they had me at ‘Walking Dead video game.'”

Anyone already have plans/pre-orders for this?

5 Comments

Filed under writing

Superhero party! Pass the cupcakes. #ROW80

Just going to make it for ROW80 check-in today. Not a lot to report. After I made my words for the week on Tuesday, I basically took the rest of the week off. This and that going on, lack of time management skill, lack of inspiration, no lack of procrastination skillz, blah blah blah.

Well, yes, it’s sad that SIEGE didn’t write itself through in the second half of this week, so let’s cheer ourselves up with a virtual superhero party. Look, I’ve been shopping. Pass the cupcakes. And if you’re planning a real superhero themed birthday party in the future, Etsy’s got you covered with everything you need to make it special.


Superhero Super Hero Birthda…

$2.75

Superhero Birthday Invitatio…

$1.00

Superhero Candy Bar Labels &…

$10.00

Mix and Match Superhero Cupc…

$10.00

Comic Book Superhero Birthda…

$45.00

Superhero Party Favors Treat…

$13.99

Superhero Cupcake Wrappers

$8.00

Superhero Sound Effects Set …

$7.00

Avengers Thor Captain Americ…

$11.00

8 SUPERHERO MASKS printable …

$20.00

50 Superhero Mix Paper Straw…

$8.00

Printable Superhero Collecti…

$20.00

Batman Superhero Party Favor…

$15.00

Superhero Sayings Fondant Cu…

$30.00

Superhero BAM Action Cookies

$48.00

Superhero Cupcake Toppers

$20.00

Treasury tool by Red Row Studio

3 Comments

Filed under Recs and Links

About how my cover designer is awesomesauce

It was brought to my attention by Miss @rebeccaberto, that someone has come out with a book cover using the same image as the one I used for Hush Money. Hey, it happens. There’s only so much stock photography to go around, as Kait talked about a while back. The book, I’ll Tell You Mine, by Pip Harry, released this week by The University of Queensland Press, doesn’t appear to be available around here yet, but it looks interesting. And part of what’s interesting is the coincidence of how much the character described seems like my Joss.

But actually, I was writing a post about it to say this. Check out these covers, side by side:

It’s very happy making to see how Robin Ludwig’s work holds it own–and then some, but I’m biased.

See the original stock photo here. Just don’t everybody start using it for book covers. You’re diluting the brand. 🙂 (I’m actually sitting here in a Talent Chronicles Joss t-shirt from Zazzle that I haven’t shown you yet because I feel dorky + I haven’t been pretty enough for a picture since I got it.)

Anyway, the lesson here is that if you’re looking for a cover designer, Robin’s your girl. And she has a new website!

/pimpage for Robin

Thanks again, Rebecca, for noticing this cover and thinking of me.

 

6 Comments

Filed under books