Friday, October 4, 2013

COVER REVEAL! THE BEST LAID PLANS by Tamara Mataya


Fangirl Time! I love raving about things that excite me, and this is definitely one of those things! The lovely Tamara Mataya is revealing her debut novel, THE BEST LAID PLANS, coming soon from Swoon Romance! 
Before you scroll down for a look at the shiny cover, find out about the awesome story of Malcolm and Jayne!
 
Jayne Griffin isn’t looking for Mr. Right. She’s looking for Mr. RTFN and a toe-curling good time. She’s got the brains, the powerful job as a futures broker, and thanks to a makeover and a thin book of dating advice, the confidence to turn any man’s head.
           
            Malcolm Black notices his high school crush, Jayne, from the stage of her company’s work party.
His adolescent feelings for her died beneath months of abuse at the hands of bullies. Abuse that was Jayne’s fault. Though this scorching hot studio musician is unrecognizable as the band geek he used to be, the hurt still lives inside him, and he hatches a plan: Seduce Jayne into falling in love with him, and then shatter her heart.
           
            The white-hot chemistry between them is a pleasant surprise. It all goes so smoothly until feelings start to develop... and that invitation to their ten year high school reunion lands in their inboxes.

            Jayne wants the perfect lover. Malcolm wants revenge. But you know what they say about The Best Laid Plans...
Coming November 12th 2013 from Swoon Romance

     Oh, sweet anticipation! And now, the REVEAL!

 

 
 
 
*fans away steam* Mark November 12th on your calendars, folks!
 
You can add The Best Laid Plans on Goodreads:
 
 

ABOUT TAMARA MATAYA:
 
 
Tamara Mataya is currently a librarian; she lurked there for so long recommending books to patrons and shushing people, that she suspects they only hired her so it would be less creepy. Now she’s armed with a name tag, and a thin veneer of credibility. She’s also a musician with synaesthesia – which isn't an issue until someone plays a wrong note, which makes her want to squirm inside out. It makes for a good live show.
 
And don't forget to check out Tamara's blog, Twitter, and Facebook!
 
BLOG:
Twitter:
Facebook:
 
 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Writing Ramble: My Adventures in Plotting


I am a hardcore pantser when I’m writing. I know a mood and a general direction I want to go in, and I write.

But that’s not working for this one particular WIP. My general roll-wherever-the-words-take-me method worked for about twelve pages. Then I got stuck. I knew where I wanted to go; I even had the basic plot written down. However, I couldn’t see the details within the picture. It was like trying to do a connect-the-dot puzzle with only two dots. (The thing’s supposed to be a bunny, y’all.)

So, I did the thing I never thought I’d do.

I made an outline. Yes, an orderly, structured, numerated document of information to guide me along my way. The thing I never wrote in school until I’d already finished my paper. And once I had it nice and neat, I saved it as a separate document, and I added details in subsections until the dots started looking somewhat bunny-shaped.

It’s terrifying and so unlike me. My critique partner thinks I’ve been replaced with a pod person.

But it’s working. It’s not perfect, I’ve shuffled a few pieces around, but the words are forming.

It’s definitely a bunny.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

That Time I Tricked My Creative Nonfiction Classmates into Thinking I Was a Dude

I think I've mentioned somewhere on here that I used to be part of a sword fighting club back in the day. Well, once many years ago, I took a creative nonfiction writing class in which I wrote about it. That particular assignment called for anonymity. After the critiques were done, we had the option to claim our works. To the shock of many of my classmates, the following story was indeed not written by a dude.



Warmongers

 

We were mighty.  We were a band of warmongers, at times forty strong, battling to the death with swords of PVC pipe, padding, and duct tape.  We were the UCA sword-fighting club, and our battleground was Old Main.

 Our founding father and great leader was Steven.  With a sharp eye and careful hand, he fashioned weapons for those of us that recently joined the ranks.  With the help of the veterans such as Cyrus and Matt, he kept us in line and trained us in the laws so we didn’t get thrown off campus.  Our rules were simple; lose both arms, you’re dead.  Stabbed in the stomach, chest, or back?  Dead.  No head shots, no boob shots on girls, and no hits below the belt.  Honor was key; it was important to admit your death, lest you were called to an honor duel and miserably defeated before onlookers.

 There were many battles to be fought.  One-on-one combat reigned when our numbers were low, but the best times were when we had at least fifteen people.  Splitting into two or three groups, we would plunge into a game of capture the king.  Our castles; Old Main, Irby, and Harrin.  The goal; to kill the king of the other two armies before they killed yours.  One fine moment in this pseudo-warfare was when Cyrus’ entire party had been massacred and he was left to defend himself from the onslaught of eight bloodthirsty enemies.  They were no match for him.  Using his quick wits and the soggy environment of Old Main Circle, he defeated each of his opponents by standing in a large water puddle.  He taught us newcomers an important lesson; wear old shoes.

 As time passed, we learned other techniques for gaining an advantage on the battlefield.  Many female warriors had discovered that the power of seduction had its place here, too.  A skimpy sports bra added maneuverability and distracted a challenger of the opposite sex.  A fallen tank top strap would successfully stun a fighter long enough to slay them.  One woman’s tactic was enough to make men flee when she picked up a sword.  She was known as Nutcracker.

 One the other side, the guys created other strategies to get the upper hand.  For instance, one man became an assassin.  Short and quick, he could slip up behind an opponent easily and lay his blade across their back before they had a chance to turn around.  Others leaped bushes and even climbed walls to gain the high ground.  All were brilliant strategies though sometimes they fell short upon execution.  Occasionally a foot would snag in a bush, or a newcomer would try to lunge forward on one foot and consequentially fall on his face.  One experienced swordsman bounded backwards off a wall–and into a brick casing around a basement window of Old Main, which in turn called out the Three Forces; police, fire, and ambulance.  He was not seriously injured but, alas, regulations must be followed.

 The elder fighters made us rookies look even more awkward and clumsy than we already were.  Cyrus moved like a cat, and Nathan could kill you in a move.  They and the other veterans had honed their battle skills long before in the club’s beginnings in Toad Suck Park.  It was amazing to watch two of them sparring against one another.

 And then tragedy struck.  As with many powerful armies of the past, we fell with the loss of our leader.  Graduation had come to take Steven from our ranks and cast him to the world of careers.  On were passed the bags of swords; the official swords and the white, double-padded rookie swords, and handed down was the book with our laws, names, and sword fees.  As graduation whisked away our founder, our elders were carried off by evil forces like jobs, Tai Chi, feuds, and the looser laws of the newly created Hendrix club.  Those of us left carried on awhile longer, but the spirit had died.  Our numbers decreased as one by one, we sacrificed our war-hungry natures for schoolwork, anime clubs, and personal relationships.  Gradually, the swords fell into disrepair, for there was no craftsman with the knowledge to repad them.  Soon after, even the most determined of us fell to the traps of the world, and the fights ceased as he was shipped off to perform his military duties.  The swords were lost somewhere in an art major’s apartment, and the fights were all but forgotten.

****
It has been a few years since a battle was waged on the steps of Old Main, and my cluster of swords gathers dust in my closet.  There are a few former members left on campus, but we’ve drifted apart and no one has time to cross swords.  Still, I hear tales that a few of the old ones continue to fight in Laurel Park.  One day, maybe I’ll get the urge to lift my blade and challenge them once again.  Until then, every time I pass Old Main and look up at its brick porch and concrete steps, I will smile and remember the bouts I won and the many deaths I died, and I will relish every moment that I was a warmonger.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ramblings of a Casual Gamer: Final Fantasy X Epiphany


Since the death of my 60GB PS3, I’ve been a little burnt out on games. None of my newer games have been able to pull me in. Trouble was, I wanted to play something. Anything. But the God of War games my new machine came with just couldn’t hook me.
So, one day I thought, Why not an old game?  I switched on my old-school PS2. And I popped in Final Fantasy X.

It’d been just long enough since I’d played it that I forgotten enough about the gameplay for it to be interesting. It took a bit to adjust my vision to the lower graphics, but then I was off, immersed in the story and enjoying some turn-based battle. As I played, I started thinking about the reasons I was enjoying FFX so much more than I had newer Final Fantasy games. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
 
Random Encounters

They can be annoying as hell when you’re rushing across a map to reach a destination, but they add a sense of danger that non-random encounters lack.
Random Encounter—I’m just gonna stroll across this wide plain. *Screen shatter* Great Moogles! A behemoth! Get it, get it, get it! *Win battle* Whew, let’s get the hell out of here before another one shows up.

Visible Enemy Encounter—What’s that? A behemoth lumbering around on a grassy knoll? No, I don’t think I’ll chance that. I’m just going to roll over here with these fluffy sheep.

 
Story
I’m all about a good story. That’s what drew me to Final Fantasy VII and RPGs in the first place. The text-driven scenes of early FF games gave it all a feel of an interactive book. I became attached to characters, and when things happened to them, I cared. If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game, you know they like to hit you with a cliffhanger and leave you pitching a fit until after the credits—or longer if they’re making a sequel. I’d sit through the ten minutes of scrolling names, waiting for that last short scene that would give me a sweet burst of closure.

I haven’t felt that connection to the characters since FFX. When I played FFXII, I couldn’t have cared less if Vaan dropped into a cockatrice’s nest and never surfaced again. I didn’t squirm in my seat as I waited through the credits to see if there was one last scene.


Summonings
They’re a staple of the Final Fantasy franchise, but since FFX, they have felt more like an accessory rather than a useful ally. I didn’t have much use for them at all in XII, and I didn’t care much more for them in XIII.


Battle System
I’ve played a lot more action RPGs recently, so when I popped in FFX, I wasn’t sure if I would be bored with the command selection of a turn-based system. Happily, I haven’t been bored a minute. The variety of enemies keeps me on my toes, and the ability to switch teammates, weapons, and armor mid-battle keeps things interesting. Overdrives are awesome, and the summons are not only beautiful to watch, but pack a punch when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Newer systems try to be more active, but in XII, I could set my controller down and make a sandwich while my people battled it out. In FFXIII, battle was better with the paradigm shifts, but still lacked something. Could’ve been the scrolling through paradigm sets. In XIII-2, the button-mashing during cinematic scenes was irritating as hell to me. I want to watch the excellent graphics that I’ve come to expect of Final Fantasy games, not hunt for a button command and miss the action.

In my humble gamer opinion, the Final Fantasy series doesn’t have to stay turn-based. It’s a trademark of the game, yes, but more important to me are the stories and themes that make it Final Fantasy. I’m perfectly fine with hitting R1 to summon Bahamut to slay my enemies. Turn-based is fine with me, too, if I’m not bogged down with lists. A classic menu with a job-class or weapon/armor modifier system (such as the material system in VII) are cool, too. Even the dress spheres of X-2 allowed for a flexible and quick alteration when the battle called for it.

 
Whew, I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this, and I could probably add a few more. How about gamers out there? Thoughts? Hit me up in the comments.    

Monday, July 29, 2013

Casual Webcomic Roundup


The badass Ashley Cope just finished another chapter on Unsounded. Now that my horror of having to wait an entire month for the new chapter to begin has abated, I thought I’d introduce a few other comics that have caught my fancy.


First up is Ever Blue.


 
A fascinating story of a genius girl mechanic named Luna, a free-spirited sailor named Ten, and their adventure across a world of endless ocean. The artist/author, Michael Sexton, has created an intriguing world where diving for old technologies is forbidden, and his wonderful artwork really brings it to life. Updates tend to be slower, but the pages are worth the wait. I recommend a monthly/bi-monthly check for new updates on this one.  You can check it out yourself here.

 

Strays
is another excellent fantasy.
 
 
Meela is a young Lupian out on her own. Orphaned, she teams up with the mute Lupian mercenary Feral, who’s somewhat reluctant about his new charge. Beautiful illustrations combined with an engaging story really make this one stand out for me. Coauthors/artists Samantha Whitten and Stacey Pefferkorn update on Fridays, so add this one to your weekly list! To check out Strays, go here.


 


And because I like bundles of three, here’s one final full-color webcomic for your enjoyment. Ties That Bind, another excellent fantasy series, focuses on a world where magic is the norm, and those who don’t have it are known as Seeds.
 
 
Eon’s been away from the military for a bit, but now that it’s time to round up Seeds, he’s been called in for duty. Needless to say, he’s got catching up to do…and some secrets to figure out. Check out Micah Solusod and Ayu Sakata’s (aka Painapple Teriyaki) fantastic work here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Victim Blaming Needs to Die

I was listening to the radio on the way to work this morning when the morning hosts said something that sent me into a ragey tailspin. The radio went off. I spewed a lot of expletives. There were several entreaties from the fiancé to calm down.

I am still very, very angry.
They were discussing the controversial comments of Serena Williams in regards to the Steubenville incident. If for some reason you haven’t heard the basic story about this and the hellfire that has ensued since, here you go. There was a party. There was underage drinking. An unconscious girl was raped. The guys who participated joked about it in a video on the internet. The guys were convicted. Some people feel sorry them. I don’t.
The particular comment this morning that lit my head on fire was one that’s not new. But it should be dead.

The comment was that the girl should take some of the responsibility for her rape because she was drunk and passed out.

 
NO SHE SHOULDN’T.

No, simply no. No one should have to live with an expectation that they will be violated if they are incapacitated. Drunk, high, whatever, it shouldn’t matter.
What if it had been a medical condition that rendered her unconscious? Would the answer still be the same? Would people really say, “Oh, well, it’s partly her fault because her blood sugar dropped and she passed out.”

Or she had a seizure. A brain tumor that causes black outs. An allergic reaction to the pretzel bowl.
It doesn’t matter the reason. No one should have to think, “Hmm, if I pass out here, will some person come across me and harm me?”

There is a malfunction in a person who looks at another in a helpless state and thinks it’s okay to rape them. And there is a malfunction in society when we pity the perpetrator and blame the victim.
Lauren Nelson of Cogent Comment wrote a thorough article on the societal issues that cause this sort of thinking here. Author Chuck Wendig has several smart posts about the problem and speaking out here, here, and here. Read them. For real.

Now let’s be sane and kill this idea that a rape victim is partially responsible for what happens to her or him. Because they’re not.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Unsounded: All the FEELS


I’m gonna keep this as spoiler-free as I can, but if you haven’t read Ashley Cope’s Unsounded, then be warned. (And then go read it because it’s awesome. I’ll even link it for you here.)

 

If you want to know a little about Unsounded before you click that above link, then settle in. Unsounded takes place on a continent called Kasslyne. It’s filled with political intrigue, various well-developed cultures, and a mind-blowing magic system that hold the whole thing together. And in this world of thief-kings, dog-riding soldiers, and wrights lives a girl with a tail named Sette. Ferocious and sticky-fingered, Sette is on a quest to collect a debt from her cousin. She’s accompanied by Duane Adelier, a zombie wright whose patience is as great as his skills. Which is a boon because Sette would try the patience of the most zen person in the world.

Sette has a knack for finding trouble and dragging her zombie bodyguard into the fray. Things get even stickier when Sette and Duane run into the Red Berry Boys—smugglers using human bodies to transport expensive, rare First Materials.

Ashley Cope loves to make us laugh—and she loves to rip our hearts out. She doesn’t hesitate to set the reader up for a soul crushing, and she doesn’t soften the blow in her artwork.

Unsounded is currently into Chapter 7 and shedding light on Duane’s final living days. We’ve been warmed with family togetherness and dipped in political strife. We know the other shoe’s about to drop, we know that at some point Duane will become the poetic zombie we all love. Each page brings us closer, leaving us in panting, nail-biting suspense. And when we finally reach that moment, we’ll be left in a sobbing heap for the happiness that is lost.
And it’s Ashley’s fault because she’s just that good.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TV & Gamer Rambles Collide


It’s kind of funny how my brain works. I enjoy seeing connections between things I watch, things I read, and games I play. Maybe it’s just a phrase, or a location, but when little things align, it makes me happy in an everything’s connected kind of way.

Recently, I’ve started watching Da Vinci’s Demons. And every episode, I get all twitchy because it makes me want to play Assassin’s Creed.

*twitch*

I’m a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. Besides being a sneaky assassin, I love roaming the cities, strolling through the streets, hopping roof tops, and taking in the scenery from the lofty heights of towers.

Da Vinci’s Demons brings it all to mind. Swooping visuals of Florence. Nifty snuff cans that look like the grenades I toss. But it’s not only that. Sometimes, when Da Vinci gets a stroke of inspiration, he starts seeing things as sketches. The overlays over reality remind me of the way the world forms in Assassin’s Creed when initializing a memory sequence.

Another show to throw me into an AC playing mood: Syfy’s Sinbad. The camera sweeps over the city, reminiscent of the panning during a view point scene. Then Sinbad and his brother flee guards through the streets, leaping rooftop to rooftop and over walls—and I have to stop myself from reaching for my game controller.
Of course, I do need to start AC:3 over…

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ramblings of a Casual Gamer: Girls and Games

A game critic, who happens to be a woman, tweeted about the fact that the new Xbox games shown at the E3 show had no female protagonists. The response was sadly negative with uses of a word I refuse to repeat. (Let’s just say some mommas with bars of soap are in high demand.)

One slightly less offensive comment was that there aren’t any female gamers.

I am here to announce that I am a girl. I am a gamer. I am not the only one.
If girls aren’t buying games, then why am I on my second Xbox and second Playstation 3? If girls aren’t buying games, what are all those games on my shelf?
I play mostly RPGs, and while I’m more about the story than my particular character, I do like it when I come across a kickass girl character. And I like creating them, too. Many RPGs such as Dragon Age and Skyrim allow you to choose your gender. And that’s awesome.

Some marketers say guys don’t want to play a girl character. I know more than one guy who, given a choice, created a female character in WoW, Fable 2 & 3, the Fallout series, and Skyrim. So, if guys are choosing a girl character, then why can’t we have a game star a woman MC?
Some games, like the Final Fantasy XIII series, do have a central female protagonist. (Lightning in XIII and part 3: Lightning Returns, Serah in part 2.) These are strong characters who fight for good and those they love and happen to be women. Guys play these games, love these games, and will argue every point of the gameplay, but I’ve never heard someone say it’d been better if Lightning or Serah had been a boy.

So if guys like creating girl characters and playing girl MCs, and girls want to see more girl characters, why is there a problem?
One problem I recognized in the comments on that particular Twitter feed was this: some guys apparently think girls all want to play video homemaker.

Which is interesting because I and other girl gamers I know like to smash zombies, pick off monsters, and take out the bad guy.  So why can’t we have more zombie-smashing, monster-eliminating, bad-guy thrashing girl MCs?

Ramblings of a Casual Gamer: PS4 and Xbox One


I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I do get all giddy when the E3 show comes around. My eyes go all round and shiny while I wait eagerly to see the new consoles and games. I had to hold back happy tears when I watched the rebranding video for Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Square-Enix is cranking out the beautiful world-building that snags me every time, and I’m interested to see how the newly named Final Fantasy XV plays. Other shinies I want to get my grabby hands on are Kingdom Hearts 3, Assassin’s Creed 4, Thief, and The Order:1886.   
I’ve eagerly awaited the official unveilings of the PS4 and Xbox One as well. I generally lean to Playstation, but I do own both current consoles, cause ya know, Fable.
That being said, Microsoft has lost me with the Xbox One. First and foremost because of the required internet connection.

Get ready, folks: I do not have home internet service. I live in the boonies. Only recently have they advertised broadband in my area, and the fine print makes me less than confident in its ability to handle gaming. While I can check my email and Twitter to my little heart’s content via my phone data plan, attaching to a home game console is a no-go. So, even connecting to the internet every 24 hours is out of the question.

Then there are the game restrictions. Really, Microsoft? You can only share a game once? Dear 13-year-olds, please pick ONE friend to swap games with.
On the reselling side, I sort of get it. I do. If that guy buys this game used, then the publisher doesn’t see any profit. But used games can be good, too, especially for lesser known franchises. For example, I walk into a game store and pick up this obscure game I’ve never heard of out of the bargain bin. Maybe it was a small seller and the production was short. It’s not available new. Maybe it’s a game I’m leery about sinking $60 into. In either case, the bargain bin game’s in a price range where I’m not going to scream and throw something if I hate it.

I take it home, play it, love it. Guess what? If it’s a series, I’m going to buy the next game new. If it’s standalone, I’m going to look for other games by the publisher and buy them new. So maybe they didn’t get the money from the one game. But that one game introduced me to them, and now I’ve bought/preordered the next five. I think that’s still a win.
I’m not even going to get started on the voyeuristic qualities of having my Xbox always listening to me.

So, come new console time, it looks like I’ll be leaning totally toward PS4.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

TV Rambles: Game of Thrones


::DUDE. SPOILERS:: If you haven’t watched this series—or the last episode—and you don’t want to ruin it, then turn away now! You’ve been warned.

 

Still, here? Okay.

 
 
 
 

 

The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin was turned into one badass HBO series. Now in its third season, Game of Thrones never ceases to awe me—and piss me off. The screen writers have done a hellacious job adapting Martin’s magnificent fantasy world to the television. With all the complexities of the novels, they’ve stayed on point. For that, I say thank you and offer a standing ovation.

Back to the show. Game of Thrones throws me into a full-out tantrum about every third episode. People I like—animals I want to snuggle—DIE all the time. From honorable Ned Stark’s untimely head-lobbing to poor Robb’s butchering, they all make me want to throttle someone. (Looking at you, Roose Bolton. Bastard.)

If you want to live, don’t be a Stark.

The last episode has raised a lot of ruckus. Emotional and gruesome. Yes, it was gruesome, namely the murdering of Robb’s wife. But amongst all the carnage, there was one thing left out: Catelyn Stark’s reaction to the death of her eldest son. I imagine they thought it would be too horrible to air. (I have another theory, but it’s too spoilery to put here.) But the raw impact of Lady Stark’s drop into madness doesn’t quite come across as well as it did in the book. In the novel, she claws her eyes out. *shudder* Slitting her throat at that point becomes a mercy, really.

To be honest, I was slightly disappointed when she just stood there. It’s not that I wanted to see blood, but Lady Stark’s final snap was what finally made me feel hardcore for her. I never particularly liked her, but in that moment, she had me.

On the other hand, I felt more for Robb, so it sort of balances out. Again, kudos screenwriters. Keep up the awesome.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Writer's Voice 2013: LEAD ME BACK HOME



Woot! I won the lottery! What lottery? The one that let me into the awesome Writer’s Voice contest, hosted by Brenda Drake, Cupid, Monica B.W., and Krista Van Dolzer. (For all the details about this contest, click here.)

Thanks, beautiful hosts, for letting us stick our necks out!


Query

LEAD ME BACK HOME is a YA supernatural, complete at 81,000 words.

Sixteen-year-old Trisha Myles thought her sister loved her. But after her sister commits suicide, it turns out she wished Trisha never existed. Confused and guilt-ridden, Trisha takes her sister’s suicide note to heart and abandons her friends and old life to become a social ghost. Not existing is sort of peaceful—until a vicious bully targets her.
She’s saved by Jesse Reagan; the one guy in Hoghfield, Alabama, who outranks her as an outcast. Trisha’s desire to live blossoms, but friendship with Jesse is more than she bargained for. When she sees the slashes on his arms, Jesse explains he’s been cursed by a botched magic ritual. Now, spirits pass through a gateway embedded in his body, and the only way to stop the revolving door is by sealing it with blood magic. Trisha thinks he’s insane—especially when he tells her someone cursed her, too. But after the freak accidents start, Trisha begins to believe. And when she witnesses a spirit pass through the gateway and Jesse is nearly crushed by a truck, she knows it’s not a delusion.
When the accidents increase and the gateway demands more blood magic from a weakening Jesse, they have no choice but to seek help from his coven—the same group that accidentally cursed him. A ritual can save them, but their preparations reveal ties between Trisha and Jesse that go beyond their curses: ties that link Jesse’s coven to Trisha’s sister’s death.
With more questions than they started with, time to perform the ritual is running out. Soon the gateway will bleed Jesse dry. If Trisha can’t save him, she will lose the boy she’s come to love…if a spirit-backed accident doesn’t claim her first.
When I’m not laying down the words, I’m dreaming up my next Halloween costume, making experimental cakes, or willing my garden to grow.  

First 250:

The DVD fell from my shaking fingers. I stood frozen as I stared at my sister, my thoughts slipping like stripped gears. Kelsie lay across the bed, an empty pill bottle resting loosely in her manicured fingers with Daddy’s name printed neatly on the label. Her golden hair draped over the edge of the mattress like the clocks in the Dali painting we studied in freshman Art last year. The smoky eye shadow around her glassy eyes was perfect, her lip gloss smudge-free on her lips as a wondrous smile stole across her expression. She stared at me but didn’t see me. As my lungs filled to call for help, hers exhaled her last breath.
I tripped as I ran downstairs and barely caught myself on the bannister. No one was home. Daddy was still at his office, and Mom had gone to the salon. She’d offered to take us, but it was Kelsie’s first trip home from Mulby University, and I begged her to spend the day with me. We hadn’t seen each other since summer, and I was dying to tell her about this guy who’d just come back to school. I was going to bring it up during the movie… but her plans were different than mine.
The police came; I couldn’t remember if I’d called them. I clutched my cellphone, its red plastic exterior creaking under the pressure of my fingers, so I supposed I had. An officer escorted me into the kitchen and offered me a bottle of water from our refrigerator.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Love Note for My Critique Partners

Hi there! *wipes off dust*

There was an avalanche in the writer cave last month, and I only just now climbed back out. Many words were written and rewritten, contests were ventured into, and many words were read.  All lovely, phreaky,fantastical, and heart-squishing words!

Writing for others is so much more than just putting down words or telling a story. Though I do my best, someone always catches something: an awkwardly worded line, a disjointed time switch, or something that's not exactly clear to the outside reader that may be perfectly understood in my head. And that's why I love my critique partners. They catch my mistakes and ask the right questions to inspire new ideas that will make my story better. They also encourage me and tell me when they love something, which makes the whole thing worth it.

So here's to my CPs, who smack me when I need it and keep me in line! Without you, I might be all eyes and --ing verbs.

Now, I must go shoo out some plot bunnies.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pitch Mad Scoop

Hi! If anyone would like a peek, here's my entry into Pitch Madness. Be sure to give Brenda Drake and all her lovelies a warm thank you for all the hard work!


Brandi M Lynch
LEAD ME BACK HOME
YA Supernatural
81,000 words


35 word Pitch:
After her sister’s suicide, Trisha becomes a social ghost—until outcast Jesse stirs her dormant heart. But Jesse’s scarred arms and stories about demons leave Trisha wondering: Is he insane, or are the demons real?

First 250:
The DVD fell from my shaking fingers. I stood frozen as I stared at my sister, my thoughts slipping like stripped gears. Kelsie draped across the bed, an empty pill bottle resting loosely in her manicured fingers with Daddy’s name printed neatly on the label. Her golden hair draped over the edge of the mattress like the clocks in the Dali painting we studied in freshman Art last year. The smoky eye shadow around her glassy eyes was perfect, her lip gloss smudge-free on her lips as a wondrous smile stole across her expression. She stared at me but didn’t see me. As my lungs filled to call for help, hers exhaled her last breath.
I tripped as I ran downstairs and barely caught myself on the bannister. No one was home. Daddy was still at his office, and Mom had gone to the salon. She’d offered to take us, but it was Kelsie’s first trip home from Mulby University, and I begged her to spend the day with me. We hadn’t seen each other since summer, and I was dying to tell her about this guy who’d just come back to school. I was going to bring it up during the movie… but her plans were different than mine.
The police came; I couldn’t remember if I’d called them. I clutched my cellphone, its red plastic exterior creaking under the pressure of my fingers, so I supposed I had. An officer escorted me into the kitchen and offered me a bottle of water from our refrigerator.

 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gamer Remorse: File Backing Isn't Just for Computers

Tragedy struck recently: In the midst of a bout of Skyrim, my 60Gb, backwards compatible Playstation 3 gave up the ghost after six years of faithful service. There was no warning, and it wasn't a simple overheat. No, this was much worse.

The Yellow Light of Death.

Needless to say, I was distraught. My entire gaming history was saved to my PS3's hard drive, from my first PS1 save to my 166th hour of Skyrim. And to rub salt into the wound, my Skyrim disc was caught in the BluRay drive.

And here's my epic fail. It never occurred to me to back up my save files. Not one time. Even after the death of my first Xbox 360, I didn't think about it. The hard drive from my old Xbox slapped right on the new one, and there wasn't anything lost.

I could kick myself. Everything I've read says I can't do the old hard drive switch with a PS3 that I could do with the Xbox. Popping it in another PS3 will only format the thing. There's no way to pull it at all. And while I think this is bad foresight on Sony's part, it's a SUPER FANTASTIC FAIL of foresight on mine. Because ultimately, the PS3 is a computer. And sometimes computers crash. I back up my laptop, my flashdrive files, and my phone. So really, I should've thought.

Besides watching my entire gaming life wiped away in a blink, I've lost my ability to play my old games. Final Fantasy VII! Nooooo! The Kingdom Hearts series, all my other FF games, and a whole row of PS2 games that aren't likely to be downloads any time soon. (Shadow Hearts, ladies and gents.) I might be able to scrounge up a PS3 for the new games and PS2 for the old, but I've lost my nice all-in-one machine. 

And the bastard still has my Skyrim disc.

Anyone else have a gamer's lament? I'll mourn with you below. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thinking Human


I was reading an article about a brave teen who came out to her parents. She baked them a cake and wrote a silly note to lighten the message, and you know what? Everything turned out fine. Her parents still loved her and supported her, and it was a heartwarming story.
Now, I have this terrible habit of scrolling through comments. A couple of commenters said they were tired of these stories, and wanted to know when they would not be news anymore. (I’m paraphrasing, obviously.)
Well, ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that lies in the answers of your fellow posters and in your own postings. When will coming out stories stop being important? Probably never, honestly. That’s a big thing to tell your family. When might it be less in the news? When people stop referring to those featured in these stories as “the gays.” Being gay, or bisexual, or transgender is not a classification. It’s a part of that person, just like having blue eyes or brown hair or freckles.
I know our brains like to put everything in order. We like numbers and set places. This goes here, that goes there. But people don’t fit into any one box, except for maybe the human one. We are a wonderful spectrum of differences that make each of us unique. The problem is, some of us focus on the differences and that little box machine in their head kicks in. Then we end up with ridiculous categories with inaccurate definitions attached to them. In the worst cases, this kind of thinking leads to “Us vs. Them” mentality.
“Think Outside the Box” might be clichĂ©, but I think it applies here. Until we stop thinking in categories, then we’ll continue to have the stresses between people that make these articles necessary. Until we stop making a big deal out of people’s differences, then we will need these stories.
If you want these stories to disappear, when you look at the person across from you, don’t think, “gay” or “black” or “poor white trash”. Think “Dave” or “Susan”.
Think “human”.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Compassion: Don't Knock it

A woman I work with the other day had an interesting experience. While running an errand, she saw a man who seemed to be down on his luck, and in hopes of helping him along, she gave him a little money before going on her way.

And got shamed for it.

Apparently, the person behind her felt she was wasting her money and time. This person went on to tell her that there were other, more worthy places she could donate her money. Because after all, he was probably going to spend that money on booze.

This bugs the crap out of me. It wasn't any of that person's business what she did with her money. If she wanted to fling it off a parade float or wallpaper her living room with it, that's her decision. And no one knows the man's situation. Sure, he could be an alcoholic or even a professional panhandler. Or he could have lost his job, home, and family all in one fell swoop. Maybe he did buy a bottle of beer...or maybe he bought a can of food for the dogs he had with him.

The thing is, this person chastised her for being compassionate. We can't control what people do, but we shouldn't deny our urge to help someone on the chance they'll do the wrong thing. If we always followed the cynic in ourselves, then no charity would survive. We would always doubt that our money was really going to support cancer research or buy food for kids who might not have enough to eat outside of school. Maybe that puppy picture we got came out a store display. Or maybe we saved Fido by providing food and bedding for another week. Maybe that one week was all Fido needed to find a home.

Maybe that homeless gentleman is saving the money donated to him to buy a fresh outfit to interview for a new job.

I'd rather show a little compassion and think I helped someone than be cynical and know I didn't.

What about you? Have you been on either side of the coin? Maybe someone helped you out in a small way that left a big impression. Let me know! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Music Rambles: The Departure of Adam Gontier from Three Days Grace


Recently, Three Days Grace announced that lead singer Adam Gontier resigned from the band due to health issues. My first thought was, “That sucks.”

It does suck. I love the sound of Mr. Gontier’s voice, the distinctive quality it gives to the wonderful songs 3DG puts out. It’s not something that can be picked up by someone else and it still be the same.

That said, I applaud the band for marching forward. Their tour was already planned out, tickets sold, and though I know it won’t be the same, I’m sure Matt Walst of My Darkest Days will do an excellent job. (MDD puts out some sweet music, too.)

Sometimes, things change. It happens.

Thank you, Adam Gontier, for the music you’ve fill our lives with, and I hope you feel better soon. And thank you, 3DG, for that same music, and for passion to keep going. I hope you continue to give us awesome tunes and wish you all the best.

I want to thank Matt Walst as well, for stepping up to fill the vacancy. It’s not an easy thing he does, I’m sure.

You can check out the rehearsals with Matt Walst here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Difference Between YA and NA to Me


New Adult is emerging. Agents and publishers are acknowledging that the 18-24 crowd is a bit different than the 14-18 crowd, and not quite the same as the adult crowd.
Unfortunately, some articles are simplifying the difference into YA issues plus steamy sex scenes. And that’s a gross understatement.
As a reader, to me YA generally deals with issues like finding a place in the world, who you want to be, and gaining a sense of independence. It’s about personal identity and friendships and the evolution of a person from a child to a young adult. Sometimes it is about first love.

Does it sometimes cover sex and sexuality?
Why, yes, yes it does.

Now, while some of these issues continue—some of us never know exactly who we want to be—there are new issues and experiences when someone becomes a new adult. A new adult is free from the relative uniformity of spending the last 13 years or better of their life in a regimen of classes and homework. There are new options. Lots of options.
Life has just become Choose Your Own Adventure without a finger holding your place as a safety net.
They are responsible for themselves. They have decisions to make. Though their parents may give them input, it is their decision to follow the advice they are given or cast it aside. Mistakes are bigger, and there are mistakes. There is the college experience. The roommate. Maybe even the first apartment. Jobs become more important because now they have rent and food and other bills.  
While young adults are trying to figure out who they want to be and want to do, new adult is trying to figure out how to put those earlier goals into action. They are building the foundation for their future. Maybe it’s solid, or perhaps it will fall out from under them. Maybe they’ll decide their YA self completely had the wrong idea and they’ll demo the whole thing and start over.
And maybe they discover that intense relationship with their high school sweetheart was nothing more than puppy love. Maybe they discover a deeper love, or even their sexuality now.

Could there be sex?
Sure.
Does it necessarily have to be there?
No.
Why?
Because new adults have plenty of new discoveries to keep them occupied.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Anime Rambles: Trinity Blood


I love Trinity Blood. Enough said.

Well, no it’s not all I have to say about it, but that sums it up.

Nine hundred years after Armageddon, tensions remain high between the two great world powers: the human (Terran) world, led by the Vatican, and the Methuselah—vampires—who are ruled over by their Empress in Byzantium. While some on both sides strive to achieve peace among the peoples, there are other factions undermining their efforts. Some humans want the vampires to vanish for good, some Methuselah hope to gain the upper-hand in this age-old power struggle.

And the Rosenkreuz want a whole new world order which puts them on top.

First off, I love the layers of this series. On top, you have the political battle between the Empire and the Vatican. But under that are other scrabbles for power. The Vatican, whose figurehead is young Pope Alessandro, is really directed by his siblings, Cardinals Caterina and Francesco, who have very different ways of handling things.  And so they have two separate teams to carry out their sometimes contradicting orders. Caterina’s AX Agency leans toward more discreet operations whereas Francesco’s Inquisition members strike first…well there are no questions after because God has seen the righteousness of their fight and granted them victory.

Yeah, they’re a little too enthusiastic about their job.

Meanwhile, in the Empire, Methuselah extremists would like to see the enslavement or annihilation of the Terrans. Some see humans as lower beings incapable of peaceful living. Some see them as food.

And underneath it all, the Rosenkreuz pulls its strings, manipulating both governments toward ultimate failure and sabotage.

So besides all the political intrigue, I love the characters. No one is purely good or bad. Everyone has flaws, makes mistakes, or has something they are desperately searching for. Not just little mistakes, either.

Which leads me to Father Abel Nightroad, a gentle and somewhat klutzy AX agent whose stipend never matches his appetite.

I love goofy heroes. (cheese grin) I do. Especially when that goofiness is set off by crazy and scary powers. Abel’s got them, yes he does.

Hey, evil vampire. It’s dinner time, and you are no longer top of the food chain.

You see, Father Abel isn’t human or vampire, but a Cruznik, a being who drinks the blood of vampires. And when he activates the nanomachines rolling around in his body, he sprouts wings and calls up a wicked scythe-like weapon made of blood.

Abel made a vow to protect the human race and swore himself into the service of Caterina, but he also made another promise to one he loved and is long dead. He promised to never kill, and it is a promise he is forced to break again and again. Despite the blood on his hands, Abel remains a loyal and gentle person, always looking for the best in a situation and guiding those he aids toward hope and redemption.


I could go on all day fangirling about Trinity Blood, but I think the blog would explode.