28 July 2012

Premature Burial, TV-Style

By this point, it should be no surprise that I watch television. Lots of television--in particular, lots of non-network shows. Aside from Castle, which I watch for Captain Tightpants--er, Nathan Fillion, the last time I hung around for a continuing series on on ABC, CBS or NBC was Chuck.   And face it, if I'm watching Castle for Captain--I mean, Mr. Fillion, it's really all about Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which brings me to the real subject of this blog: the Graveyard of Great Shows.

I realize TV shows have a natural lifespan.  I miss Buffy, for example, but by the time we said goodbye to Sunnydale and the Hellmouth, we'd explored just about every aspect of high school as horror movie Joss Whedon could imagine.  Star Trek's first run ended after three seasons, but with thirty years of movies, follow-up TV series and reboots, I think we've gotten our money's worth.  Eureka hasn't achieved that kind of second life, but we did get five years of science fiction lite, which is more than anyone can expect of the Syfy Channel unless you're talking Stargate.

But that's the point.  Syfy and other "off-brand" networks show a deplorable tendency to kill a show before it's time.  What's worse is not all of those wonderful, quirky and, sometimes, groundbreaking shows make it to DVD or Netflix.  With that in mind, I thought I'd torture myself--and you--with some of them.  Yes, I'm evil that way.

Adderly: Super spy V.H. Adderly (Winston Rekert) is sidelined by an irreparable injury to his left hand. He's reassigned to the Department of Miscellaneous Affairs in the basement of the blandest government building in existence. His boss, Melville Greenspan (Jonathan Welsh), is the ultimate in prissy, pusillanimous, pettifogging bureaucracy, but with the aid of romance- and adventure-loving secretary Mona Ellerby (Dixie Seatle), Adderly manages to get in trouble--er, save the day, regardless. The players and the set-up were a wonderful mix of humor and derring-do, but what really made the show for me was how they showed the mind-exploding absurdity of government work in all its glory. Nobody's ever done it better.

The Chronicle: This one's almost as old as Adderly, and is yet another case of the SciFi Channel (yes, that old) giveth and the SciFi Channel taketh away.  In the days when The Weekly World News ruled the supermarket check-out with stories about Bat Boy dining with President Clinton, The Chronicle let us in on the fact that all the monsters and aliens covered in the tabloids were real.  For me, the individual characters took a back seat to the concept and ensemble, but heck, shouldn't every newspaper receptionist have tentacles?

Deadwood: HBO's paean to the Wild West.  The plot was supposed to revolve around Sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) attempting to tame the mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota, while conducting a complicated affair with heiress Alma Garrett (Molly Parker), against the background of George Hearst's exploitation of the Comstock Lode. But the real reason I watched was Ian McShane's amazing turn as the aptly named Al Swearengen, swearing and cussing and sexing and fighting the civilization of the frontier with tooth and claw.  Bad language never sounded so good.  I didn't even care he was a sixty-year-old playing a man in his thirties.  Well, not much. ;-)

Firefly: There were only fourteen episodes and one theatrical release in what Joss Whedon intended to be a long-running serial about renegades and refugees in the Final Frontier, but this is one of those cases where the myth keeps growing.  It doesn't hurt that it showcased Captain Tight--er, Mr. Fillion at his most buff as Mal Reynolds; Gina Torres as the spectacularly intelligent BKC Zoe Washburne (intelligent being something all too rare among BKCs); Chuck's Adam Baldwin as a boy named Jayne, Jayne Cobb; and Ron Glass as Derrial Book, who I first watched in the ancient sitcom Barney Miller and have enjoyed ever since.

Forever Knight: Vampires, doomed romance and police work--oh my!  IMHO, nobody ever did it better.  Geraint Wyn Davies may not have been as pretty as Rick Springfield as Nick Knight in the original TV movie (or the guy in Moonlight with the derivative character name) but dang, he had one of the all-time great TV vampire nemeses to play against: Nigel Bennett as late night vampire DJ Lucien LaCroix.  Supporting players John Kapelos as Detective Don Schanke, a pre-Andromeda Lisa Ryder as Detective Tracy Vetter and Ben Bass playing Alice Cooper look-a-like vampire Javier Vachon (who first appears combing the victims of an airplane crash looking for his burnt hand, which he promptly reattaches--Score!) amped the fun level even higher.  But I confess another reason for liking this series.  Several friends got book deals out of it, both directly as a result of the franchise and in collaboration with Mr. Bennett.  That's a win Win WIN from my point of view.  My only warning is don't watch the last three eps.  They brought the series to an absolute conclusion (oh yeah!), but so much more could've been done in that world if the budget and ratings had been there.

Highlander: Yeah, you know this one would show up.  Immortal guy Duncan McLeod (Adrian Paul) chops off Head-of-the-Week with his shining katana roaring the catch phrase that continues to resonate everywhere from The Colbert Report to Suits: "There can be only one!"  (So they said it in the movie, first.  The immies and kimmies of the series were a lot cuter.)  Personally, I think Duncan's story was so OVER! by the end of the series.  What gripes me that the producers never took up the promise of a spin-off featuring Methos (Peter Wingfield)--there can be only one, and it has to be Methos, because he has the best Kronos (Valentine Pelka) flashbacks--and instead turned bubbly thief and adventuress Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) into a depressed Duncan clone.  :-P 

Human Target: Mark Valley played Christopher Chance, a former assassin who makes himself a human target to protect people.  The series struck a lovely balance between high stakes adventure and just plain fun.  And like everyone else, I adored Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero, the ultimate assassin...with glasses.  (I don't make this stuff up!  Honest!)

Invisible Man: One more headstone in the ever-growing SciFi/Syfy cemetery.  Thief and three time loser Darien Fawkes (Vincent Ventresca) is given the chance to work for the government with an invisibility gland implanted in his brain.  Ably supported by the delightfully paranoid Robert Albert Hobbes (Paul Ben-Victor, who also starred in another wonderful bygone show, In Plain Sight), the two navigated super villians and life in the underpaid, under-appreciated federal bureaucracy.  (Yes, I did work for the government.  Why do you ask?)

Sanctuary: Think Warehouse 13, only with monsters instead of artifacts as the weekly MacGuffins.  Stargate stalwart Amanda Tapping played Dr. Helen Magnus, a sharp-dressing 157-year-old with a passion for high heels.  She also got to snog with Highlander favorite Peter Wingfield as James Watson and Christopher Heyerdahl as John Druitt (the second of two regular roles he played, though most people didn't recognize him under his "Bigfoot" make-up, including me).  There was a conclusion of sorts in the last episode before Syfy abruptly decided to pull the plug, but there was so much up in the air, I wish the producers would return to the show's webisode roots and give us a coda.  Pleeeeeeeeeeease!  Magnus had just kissed naughty vampire Nikolai Tesla (Jonathon Young), for crying out loud. 

The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne: SAJV was the first true Steampunk series sinc Wild Wild West and ranks as my ultimate, all-time heartbreaker.  The conceit is the young Jules Verne (Chris Demetral) actually lived the adventures he later wrote about in the company of Her Magesty's secret agents Phileas Fogg (Michael Praed in Victorian clothes) and his second cousin/secret crush Rebecca (Francesca Hunt as another wonderful portrayal of an intelligent BKC--always a favorite of mine) on the luxurious airship Aurora.  The first season had everything.  Time travel!  Cyborgs!  Dirigibles!  Leather corsets!  Dixie Seatle (remember her from Adderly?) as a Wild West madam with the proverbial heart of gold!  Bad CG in high def!  Screen-steaming sexual tension!  Michael Praed in Victorian clothes!  (Yes, I'm obsessing.  You got a problem with that? You should be glad I don't bring up the wet tights and tunic shot from Robin of Sherwood.)  And then...nothing.  The show vanished.  You can't even find it on DVD.  Seems there are legal issues that make the old Maverick woes look like child's play.  Sob.

Michael Praed in Victorian clothes, I tell you.  You should be crying, too.


27 July 2012

Enjoying, but Maybe Over-analyzing?

So, this has been a banner month for me in many respects. Today marks the release of my second book this month, Stone-Hard Passion, book two in the Unveiled Seductions series. Book one, Fleeing Fate, came out at the beginning of July, and I’m really stoked!

It was also a banner month for me in relation to movies…I watched TWO! Yeah, okay, all the movie buffs that just read that probably fainted in horror, but for someone like me, who rarely watches movies, it’s a lot!

My husband finally got me to sit down with him and watch The Avengers. I enjoyed it thoroughly, all except the preamble, which consisted of my husband feeling that he had to explain every character to me. I shut him up by reminding him I grew up with an older brother, who was a fan of comics. I also reminded him that although I don’t watch a bunch of movies, I like to keep up-to-date on pop culture…who the heck doesn’t know who Iron Man, Thor, Nick Fury and the like are? And being a mythology buff, I probably had a better handle than most people on Loki’s possible character and issues.

One of the things that struck me when I was watching The Avengers was just how far special effects have come. Not that the effects overshadowed the movie. Instead they made the movie possible. Without them it would have been a cheesy rehash of one of the old comics rather than a believable altered-reality experience.

The other movie I saw was Magic Mike and, again, I enjoyed it thoroughly and more than just for that glimpse of Channing Tatum’s backside *blink, blink*. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it actually had a plot, the hero had a well-defined arc and the heroine stuck to her guns until the end. That last point, in particular, was a pleasant surprise. She disapproves of Mike’s lifestyle and the road he’s put her brother on, and she doesn’t allow the attraction she feels to make her lose sight of those facts.

To me the movie was truly made by the contrasts in the characters. Matthew McConaughey’s Dallas is the wheeler-dealer who never got out, and doesn’t want to. He knows this world, loves it, and believes it will make him rich. Channing Tatum’s character dreams of getting out. The stripping world has been good to him but it’s ultimately unfulfilling and he knows it can’t last. He also realizes it pigeon-holes him in the eyes of the world, and is smart enough to know that won’t change with time. Alex Pettyfer’s character is just getting in and he’s dazzled by the money, sex and drugs. The Kid gives us an all-too-familiar look at a life derailed by selfishness and a sense of entitlement. By the end I wanted to smack/throttle him, which was probably the writer’s intent.

There’s one thing I noticed, didn’t care for and was left wondering if anyone else did. While we all know the world depicted in the movie isn’t all bunnies and roses but a gritty, often dangerous place, there was, to me, a sly almost snide indictment of stripping and those who strip. I thought that aspect of it was overdone, but perhaps I’m being over-sensitive. I’ve never been a stripper (and I’m sure the public is suitably grateful for that fact!) but I know all kinds of people do all kinds of jobs to get by in life. As a slice-of-life vignette Magic Mike was unbalanced in favor of society’s often hypocritical condemnation of those involved in anything remotely sexual in nature. As an erotic romance writer, I find it rather offensive but maybe I’m over-analyzing. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else felt the same way!

26 July 2012

The Five Hottest Couples in the Movies

I love movies. And given this is a paranormal blog, I almost wrote an entire post on how much I adore The Avengers on the big screen. (We have a Hulk!) But I decided that given this is a romance blog, taking a slightly different angle might be more fun.

The following is my list of the top five hottest on-screen couples. The list is limited to the movies I've watched, so it's obviously not definitive. Please feel free to add yours at the end. My other criteria was that there had to be a love scene on-screen and not behind closed doors, which eliminated some of my favorite romantic movies, like His Girl Friday. I may have to write another post on my favorite bantering couples. :)

In ascending order:

5. Robert Gere and Debra Winger, Officer and a Gentleman.
That ending where he literally sweeps her off her feet in the factory gets me every single time. But before we get to finale, the couple burns it up in an extended love scene over breakfast in a cheap hotel.

4. Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair.
Absolute proof that characters over 40 can be sexy as hell, and Brosnan and Russo trade barbs, dance, and then make love in an extended scene going up long, winding steps slowly losing their clothes as they ascend. At the end, naked, Brosnan carries her off.

3. Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner, Bull Durham
"Oh my!" says Sarandon after Costner finishes his famous monologue that ends with "long, slow, deep wet kisses that last for three days." But it's when he finally shows up at her house and they dance, make love, eat breakfast and make love some more that the heat practically melts down the screen.

2. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing.
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" The hotness factor really goes off the charts in the scene where Baby goes to Johnny and confesses how afraid she is of not feeling again what she feels with him. It's a long, slow love scene accompanied by the shedding of clothes and set to music. (And Patrick Swayze is just sooo pretty.)

1. Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, The Terminator
A female coming of age/love story disguised as an action movie, this even has the perfect "meet cute." "Come with me if you want to live," Kyle tells Sarah, and "I came across time for you, Sarah." When they finally make love, it's wild, and desperate and incredibly sensual. "We loved a lifetime's worth," Sarah says at the end of the movie. Yes, yes, they did.

23 July 2012

"Scotty, beam me up!"

I've always LOVED good stories.

Whether they be told around a campfire, painted across the page, or come to life on a screen doesn't really matter to me. A good story is a good story.

Thinking back to my childhood, one of the continuing shows that may have formed my writing life has got to be Star Trek. This show was really special to me because my dad and I would watch it together. Mom wasn't really a sci-fi fan and wasn't all that interested the show.

Oh man, I was.

Going in search of brave new worlds? Seeking out new life forms? Going boldly where no man has gone before???? What's not to love?

The characters were well-drawn and acted. We didn't get a ton of info-dump about them either. We knew who they were by the way they reacted in the life-or-death situations they were thrown into. There was always a good dash of humor in the mix to defuse the intensity, but nothing too corny. A healthy dose of love scenes (usually with Kirk, but also with the other characters) helped to spice things up, up the ante and increase the conflicts they were already facing. The men were chivalrous, caring, courageous and had hearts of gold, even if they didn't keep the girl in the end in their quest to save all of mankind.

The remakes, movies and adaptations have been pretty good, but in my mind nothing beats the original series. Maybe it was because I watched those with Dad--my greatest hero.

How about you?

Are there movies from your childhood that have shaped you?

Kimberley Troutte

22 July 2012

Comics come to life - Oh Yeah!

I'm kind of a Comic junkie. Graphic Novels and Comics.  If there is an adaptation based on a Comic-I'll go read as many of the comics as I can before watching the tv show, movie, etc. Some of my favorites are:

The Walking Dead - extremely weird since I'm not even a zombiephile.  I do love the show and admittedly am missing a few of the comics so I've had my Walker friends fill me. in.

The Watchman - This alter-universe 80's graphic novel was actually the first graphic novel I read and I loved it. The movie was totally awesome and moving replica of the novel getting scenes exact.

The X-men and alternate universes - something people should know about superhero comics is that nowadays there are alternate legends and mythologies for nearly every character.

I'm not sure why I've chosen comics as a method to do research on - maybe because I feel they are easier to read, faster and I can always have my true comicphiles fill in the gaps.  I go to the library and get a few of the new ones, hunt down an occasional deal at the comic store or borrow from friends. I'm not o collector in the true sense as much as an avid fan.

I just got done watching Season One of Game of Thrones.  I have not read the series by George R.R. Martin and I'm undecided if I will.  Epic Fantasy has always been a daunting read for me and I'm not sure I would be able to follow the subplots of so many integral characters.  Comics are much easier that way and for some reason my brain absorbs the graphic content eagerly. I look at the next book in Game of Thrones and I'm just not sure I'm ready for it.

I love Graphic Novels so much I'm actually story-boarding an idea for one with a very talented artist, because I'm horrible at drawing.  Maybe that's why I enjoy Comics so much.  I can write but I sure can't draw.  :)


18 July 2012

No Apologies

I used to be very apologetic about how much TV/movies I watch. Sometimes, admittedly, it's a way to procrastinate. A way to just sort of let my mind be led along a path, instead of trying to drive it along the path of my own stories. And yeah, that's not a good thing. To mix my metaphors, writers need quiet time to let their brains get bored enough to start spinning stories out of wholecloth. And when the TV is being used to fill that space, it's bad.


I see no personal advantage in being pop-culture illiterate*, and TV and movies are a great way to stay tapped in to the Collective.

I use a few tricks to justify the sheer volume of story I pump into my brain from the (small) screen.

Movies and television are all kinds of awesome for writers. Especially after listening to Michael Hauge, who has managed to divvy up the classic rom-com into easily recognizable parts. It's great fun to watch and analyze the story structure based on his lessons.

TV shows, too, have their own structure. CSI, for example, is an incredibly clear breakdown of structure: each commercial is a turning point in the story. (the first commercial is inevitably: all the evidence pointed to this guy, but it isn't him!. The second is often: we know it's him but can't prove it. And the third is: we're totally going to get him; which comes right before the final 5-10 minutes of the show where we see the bad guy get arrested.) CSI also has core characters who carry the show from episode to episode by remaining true to character while revealing little bits of themselves along the way. It's not a perfect show, of course, but from the standpoint of analyzing structure, it's pretty amazing.

Bad movies are AMAZING learning tools. When something doesn't quite pull together, I can spend hours figuring out why, or how I (or another writer) would do it better. (I watch one movie regularly, every time thinking how much better it would've been if my CP had written it.) I love spinning the 'what if's.

Good movies are typically too absorbing for me to learn anything. I'm too busy watching, too immersed in what's going on to do anything but hold on tight and go for the ride.

Some of my favorite movies are (in no particular order): Pan's Labyrinth, Snatch, The Usual Suspects, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, and i Hate luv Storys.

Fearless readers, what are some of your favorite movies?

*I am mostly music-illiterate, with the exception of some band or another that my sister or children will foist upon me. But my favorite listens are already some...er...fifteen years old or more. (I still think you can't go wrong with The Beatles, either, which are at least old enough to be "retro" and huge enough to be "classics". However, punk/emo/grunge from when I was a teenager aren't exactly either.) 

(And are there some bands from the past two decades I should check out? Anyone who suggests Bieber might get a virtual pie-to-the-face, though...)

13 July 2012

In living color

I imagine many writers like to consider the possibility of their stories coming to life on the silver screen. It's a sign of success... an honor given only the best and most popular of books.

Would I actually want one of my stories to be translated to the big screen? Sure, it would be exciting. But I imagine it's a difficult process, too. We all know the old saying: "Read a good book before Hollywood destroys it."

That might be harsh, but we can't get away from the fact that novels and movies are rather different beasts. A scene in a book, for example, that is mostly introspection, would drag in a movie. Hence, the movie version is rarely the same as the novel from which it spawned -- never to the letter.

When we read a book and fall in love with it and its characters, we don't take kindly to someone changing what we have embraced. It's insulting. It's often disappointing. When a character is changed and/or portrayed differently than we envisioned, we can feel a sense of betrayal.

No, I wouldn't mind having a story I've written made into a movie. But I might want to retain as much creative control as I could. A writer can dream, can't they? ;)

If I were ever given a choice, here are some actors who could -- at least physically -- pass for my visions of characters I've created:
For my historical romance, Alaina's Promise, Stewart Finlay-McLellan was both the visual inspiration for my hero Torin O'Brien, as well as the voice to go with the words he spoke in my head. :)  My adoration for this actor began when I watched him play Dr. Neil McNeil in the television show, Christy. Yes, I have a thing for the Scottish and Irish brogue.

Of course, there's the gorgeous, sword-wielding Adrian Paul -- a perfect likeness for one of my favorite heroes to date: Ian Spain. Who better to slay demons than a man who is the epitome of the knights of old? His photo graced my desktop for many months until a wonderful cover artist came up with the cover for Dream Walk...  and I fell in love with Ian all over again. :)

Gerard Butler could easily portray my favorite ancient healer: Gabriel Bonnett, my hero from  my upcoming paranormal romantic suspense, Broken.

And last, but not least, Russel Wong is my inspiration for the hero from my current wip, At Second Sight.

I could go on and on... but you get the idea. I know my men ... and my heroines, too ... and how they appear in my head. Would you see them the same way? Probably not. But that's the beauty of a good book: we make our own connections.

~~Meg Allison

Indulge your senses...

12 July 2012

Wild Worlds of Webby Research

Today, for the sequel to my paranormal romance Pack and Coven, I conceived of a great need to research tattoos. Imagine my arachnophobic flinch when one of the first tattoo images I stumbled across, on WIKIUBIQUITOUSPEDIA no less, was of this:

(Link to page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo)

Naturally I had to share it on Twitter, where I merrily ruined several people's days with that vision.

So I thought I'd ruin all of your days, too! Provided you have arachnophobia, anyway. Here's a couple links to the most eyepoppy spider tattoo images I found today:

1) An under-ear spider: http://www.tattoomuch.com/under-ear-3d-shadow-spider/ FLINCH! Do you think people smack her in the neck a lot?

2) A grouping of "horrific" spider tattoos (their descrip, not mine): http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/taturday-horrific-spider-tattoos. Some are artsier than others, and might not incur as much newspaper swatting or fainting by the extremely arachnophobic among us.

3) A less creepy design that focuses on the web, instead of the poisonous arachnid lurking in the recesses of your closet: http://101tattoos.com/478/spider-tattoo-design-5/

4) Some girl's leg: http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/Spider_Tattoo.htm although the comments are a lot more heinous than the creepy tattoo.

5) A guy with web for brains, literally: http://papatod.deviantart.com/art/Spider-Web-Tattoo-56072119 With a tattoo like this, you could grow your hair out before a job interview and look totes normal!

6) And of course our list wouldn't be complete with an ode to one of the arachnalicious stars of some of the most fiscally rewarding action movies of our time: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/blog/the_dagger/post/UC-Irvine-guard-sports-incredibly-awesome-Spider?urn=ncaab-290392 Since movies and adaptations are the theme for this month, I had to add this! Plus, that dude isn't as hard on the eyes as many other individuals possessed of Spidey tats that I ran across today.

I also discovered today that tattoo websites tend to have a lot of scary pop-ups windows that claim they can remove all (personal information) viruses from your infected computer, earn you a new (stolen identity) Ipad, and gift you with (Trojans) naked pictures of hot women. Suddenly I am not looking forward to researching the art of tattoos for this book as I was when I started...

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

10 July 2012

Burning Down the House

No kidding.  I was beginning to think the summer had it in for me. First came the heat. Then the June 29 derecho knocked out our power, incidentally blasting any hope of me posting on my assigned June 30 blog date. And then it got hotter. Made me wonder if I jinxed myself writing about a genie and two inept magicians in "Burning Down the House", part of the anthology Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy.

Nah. Jvala, my fire spirit wouldn't do that--would she?  Well, considering I sort of, kind of introduced her to Eddie Woodhouse...  Yeah, for that, she might.  Check out the opening of "Burning Down the House" if you don't believe me:

Eddie Woodhouse lurched between the tables of the Sixth Circle Club, apologizing every ponderous step of the way. Carrying a full-grown jinni inside his skin was hell. Its spine-crushing weight was only the start. Despite the swelter of July in New York, his thermal fleece sweatsuit, the heat of the crowd and the flames jetting in the six upright iron cages evenly spaced along the club’s circular wall, it was all he could do to keep from shivering as he approached the sorceress waiting at the shadowed table furthest from the door. 

Gritting his teeth, he eased his tripled girth into the wide-armed leather chair across from her. The puffy cushions clenched around him like a boxing glove around a fist. If this didn’t work, they’d need to winch him out.

“Do you have the bottle?” he asked.

A flash from the dance floor lit her eyes like an evil smile. She placed an empty absinthe bottle on the table.

“May your next transfer run as smoothly as the one from your bank.” The blare of the music muted the scrape of her scimitar nails along the glass. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do this someplace more private?”

“No.” The jinni inside him lashed his face. He couldn’t hide the bulge of their shared skin or his flinch of pain. 

The woman added teeth to her smile. “Your funeral. I trust you’ll be more careful where you stick your straw in the future.” 

Her exit line raised a different kind of welt, but he didn’t care as long as she left. Nobody paid any attention to a fat man in a club full of beautiful people. More importantly, the security cams and warding spells focused on the tables would keep her from trying anything more than what he paid for. He’d never been a contender in the magical department, but he never thought he’d sink so low that he’d owe his life to the sorcerous paranoia of Ducky “Duc d’Or”.

Eddie’s teeth chattered against the glass as he closed his lips around the neck of the bottle and chanted the first of the thirty-one goetic evocations from the Secret Key of Solomon under his breath. The words didn’t always make sense, but he suspected the real spell lay in his mind’s desperate prayer: “Take this damned thing outta me and I’ll never do magic. I’ll never so much as make a wish. Never. Ever.”

The words burned his throat. Never. The jinni swelled inside his lungs until he thought his ribs would explode. Ever. Propelled by his breath, the fire spirit shot into the bottle, strafing the inside of his mouth like Red Hots coated in habanero sauce. His thumb replaced his pepper-numbed tongue against the hole. The pain and the stink of charred flesh were blinding, but he managed to fumble one of the copper seals he’d brought with him over the opening before the jinni escaped. Then he shrank into the leather, consciousness deflating with his girth.

If you'd like to read what happens next, there's a further excerpt on my web site. After that...well, I really hope you'll want ot read more. My ice bill this month is going to be humongous!
Stay cool.

09 July 2012

New! KING OF CLUBS by Bianca D'Arc

Hey! What happened to June? It seemed I blinked, and it was gone. Wow.

I have this private theory that time is speeding up. I can't prove it - much like Einstein couldn't do the actual math to prove his greatest theory - but I think time is actually going faster and we can perceive it as moving faster, but since it's relative to everything else, we can't really prove it.

Okay, so I just lost half of you. Sorry. Toss it up to watching too many "The Big Bang Theory" re-runs. (I love that show!) Anyway... I have a new book out. It's the third in a series of space opera novellas where the heroines all have some kind of clairvoyant abilities and the heroes are retired soldiers-turned spies working to keep our galaxy free from various threats including an alien race called the Jit'Suku and even space pirates.

Here's a little bit about it:

King Of Clubs - Arcana, Book 3

Spymaster Chip is the King of Clubs - a professional bar manager and soldier - sent to run intel operatives out of a bar on Madhatter Station near the Galactic Rim. Lila has been managing the bar in her sister's absence for two weeks when, as she predicted using her deck of cards and her clairvoyant gift, Chip arrives. Sparks fly between them almost immediately, only spiking higher when they uncover a plot to take over the station. Can the new lovers and a handful of retired vets avert catastrophe and save the station?

Chip didn't expect to find the bar open for business when he arrived at The Rabbit Hole on Madhatter Station. Not only is it open, but a beautiful woman is running the joint. He's instantly attracted to her, but tragedy in his past has kept him from getting involved in any but the most superficial of relationships. This woman, though, she tempts him like no other.

Lila foresaw the coming of her own personal Charlemagne, the King of Clubs. She had no idea he would be so appealing though. A widow, Lila didn't expect to be so attracted to the ex-soldier. Her female senses stir to life for the first time in years and she wants to get to know him better. A lot better.

When pirates plot to take control of Madhatter Station, it's up to Chip and Lila to organize the resistance. With a handful of well placed vets and a handful of pilots, they mount a defense, but will it be enough? Or will it be too little, too late? And what of the lovers? Will their love and belief in each other be enough to see them through one of the greatest tests of the human mind?

The book is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Get it while it's hot! :)

08 July 2012

Action, or not?

I’m filling in for my critique partner Amy Ruttan, who’s still on her road trip. She’ll be back soon, but in the meantime, let’s talk action…

I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a huge movie buff. If you can pin me down long enough, I’ll happily watch one…it’s the pinning down that’s the problem! I’ll get out to see maybe two a year and watch a few more with my sweetie on television or computer. So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty picky about what I watch.

For me action, whether in movies or books, has to make sense and be believable in the framework of the story. I don’t care if the movie is billed as an Action flick or the book’s supposed to be a thriller, I’d rather they leave out that car chase or gun battle than throw it in there just to up the voltage (sorry Noonie!). It’s the same with any kind of story, even romances. Umm…did the couple really pause to have sex while on the run from the bad guys? WHY?

My Hubster is really careful about what he suggests we watch together, because he knows if there’s any anomaly I’m going to see and comment on it. (“Okay, so how exactly did the bad guy know that they were going to be in this particular place, at this particular time, so as to set the ambush?” “I. Don’t. Know. Just watch the damn movie!”) He’d probably say I’m an annoying movie-watching partner, but I say I’m a plot junkie. I don’t need explosions or murders or explicit sex to enjoy a film or book. I just need a compelling, flowing plot. Besides, where does it say “action” equates to loud noise, fighting, car chases or sex? To me it’s anything that makes your heart skip a beat, and that can be achieved with just a look exchanged between characters.

But, having said all that, the judicious use of action, whether the BOOM-POW or the BOW-CHICA-BOW-WOW type, really can make the difference between a so-so and an amazing story. And I freely acknowledge that there are some movies where the action is the plot and sometimes you have to just sit back, relax as best you can and go along for the ride.

05 July 2012

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I love action movies. If stuff doesn’t blow up, I don’t want to watch. I loved John Carter, from the goofy dog thing to the tharks and the fights. I was stunned when it didn’t do well, particularly when the Avengers did so well and was such a similar plot.

Now Taylor Kitsch is in a new movie with Oliver Stone, the king of inaccurate and bad storymaking. It looks like this movie will be big as well, particularly given who’s in it, which will be great for him and I’m pleased. I don’t have plans to see it; after JFK and that awful one with Tom Cruise Born on the Fourth of July I don’t see Stone’s films.

Remember the days when the car chase was king? The best one for a long time was considered the one in Midnight Run. They must have used up every car in Hollywood filming it.

Then there’s the car chase with Clint Eastwood in the Dead Pool. I remember laughing my head off when it came on.

It’s funny, though, now that we have such awesome technology. My favorite show is Longmire, which is much more old school.

The exception to lots of explosions is the Inspector Poirot series with David Suchet. If you haven’t seen it lately, definitely worth checking out.

What’s your favorite? Do you have consistent tastes, or do they vary with time? Let me know in the comments.