Saturday, June 29, 2013

Atlantis At Last!

Lexi Brady
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A lot of my writing correlates to things that are going on in my own life and things that I find myself curious about. So when I heard about the crystal pyramids that were found in the Bermuda Triangle I went on a frenzy of doing research and writing!

When discoveries like this are made the nerd in me screams for me to obsess over it, which of course I do. What could this mean for our history? Or more importantly, is this the lost Atlantis? The "fabled" city so many have dreamt of?

As a child I would pretend to be a mermaid hailing from the lost city any time I went swimming, which of course aggravated anyone I was with since I simply refused to break character. Which is how I am now as an author. You have heard of method actors, yes? Well I suppose you could say I am a method writer, still refusing to break character.

I love putting myself into my characters situations or visiting places that they live. It helps me understand their personality and motivations better. Sometimes when I can't visit the place my character is from, or put myself in the same situation I do something crazy. Like dyeing my hair purple... Because I am certain mermaids have colorful hair.

I think it is incredibly important to have something in common with your characters. It helps them come to life as you can look back on your own experiences or feelings about something.  Maybe I didn't NEED to dye my hair to know what being a mermaid is like. But what would the fun have been in just imagining it?

Being a mermaid is different than I had imagined as a child. As a child all I could imagine was a colorful tail and the ability to talk to fish. Now that I am older I see that they are so much more than that. They are daring and intelligent beings that have no fear of what they cannot see. A yearning for the life in the sun and respect for all creatures living or gone.

Mermaids and hair aside I think that this is one of the biggest discoveries ever and am so stoked for more details about the pyramid!

I hope all of you are having wonderful weekends filled happiness!

Live Long and Prosper,


“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

Anaïs Nin
**Yes I realize I am saying mermaids exist in this post... But really can you prove they don't?   
*** Yes.. I also know I gave myself away as a Trekkie. But honestly who isn't? 

Friday, June 28, 2013

What Are Your Favorite Games/Apps on Your Phone?

Jordan Dane

I recently upgraded my cell phone and I love being as connected as I am. It feels as if I could exist on my phone and not be so tied to my desk, work-wise.
I love my GPS/Navigation app. I used to have a GAMIN navigator, but you had to buy updates. It’s amazing that there are better navigation apps on your phone for free and they are automatically updated. I can also do voice searches. I feel so Star Trek.
I also love texting now. Who knew? I used to make fun of my niece, telling her that her fingers would fall off from lack of use and she’d only have thumbs if evolution is real. Now my family plays this “GUESS WHERE I AM” game where we send pics of strange places and we all try to guess where the sibs are. It’s like Find Waldo, without the little guy in stripes. As a writer, I can sharpen my “one liner” skills too. Win-win.
Tweetcaster – I love this app, or some version of this. It allows me to set up tweets on a schedule in advance so I’m not tied to Twitter to get posts out. I mainly broadcast post links from the few blogs I belong to, so I can promote my friends blogs and interesting articles for my followers. But it’s a great app.

But where is the FUN, people? When I am waiting for my dentist, Lord knows I need a distraction. I have a very boring Solitaire and I just added Bejeweled Blitz, both free.

Can you guys help me with better diversions? What are your favorite apps or games that you have on your phone?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The time I interviewed a ghost-hunting dog (giveaway included)

Campbell_authorpic1 I've been very lucky meeting great friends over the internets, and Julie Campbell is one of them. A truly unique writer, her latest books are about a ghosts hunter who's also a dog - how cute is that?! So here's my interview with Brown, ghost hunter and border collie extraordinaire ♥    

Atta boy! *scratches behind the ears*

Anne, thank you so much for having me here today. I’ve never been interviewed before. It’s almost like I’m famous. Elliott, that’s my human, says dogs can be famous. Wouldn’t that be neat if I were famous too? Thank you for taking the time to help tell people about my ghost adventures.

Why did you choose Elliott: was it destiny that lead you to him or did you know he was a good human at first glance?

I could tell by the way the baby lambs responded to him. They were never afraid of him which made me curious, so I started working with him and decided to make him my own human. Fortunately, the farm owner saw how much I liked him and allowed Elliott to take me with him when he moved away.

Aren't you ever scared your human will get into so much trouble you two might be separated? And what would you do, if it happened?

We’ve been separated twice and it was the most awful thing both times. Once I thought he was dead because a monster took him and hid him in a cave. I had to defeat the monster, it was a sand dragon, to get him back. The other time he got abducted by Martians… boy were they messing with the wrong dog. I had help, but we got him back and told the Martians a thing or two. I’m more afraid of losing Elliott than I am of ghosts, that’s for sure.

Have you ever seen a dog-ghost and if so, what did you do?

kira_brown1 I’ve never seen a dog ghost, but I hope if I ever meet one it’s a nice ghost. I’d hate to have to banish it too. I talked to a ghost once, strange, I know, and it told me that ghosts are spirits that couldn’t leave for whatever reason, and most ghosts are nasty. I can’t imagine a dog wanting to stay around and be mean all the time. Maybe to guard their people?

How long do you plan to hunt ghosts? Are you thinking of retiring soon?

Retire? What’s that? Do you mean stopping working? Why would anyone want to stop working? I get bored when I don’t have something to do, and hunting ghosts is the best, well, besides herding sheep. I’ll hunt ghosts as long as Elliott wants too, which will hopefully be forever.

What's worst: ghosts or cats?

Squirrels. *Doggy grin* Cats though, definitely cats. I can hunt ghosts and banish them… I have to leave cats alone, and that’s no fun. They’re so arrogant, like they could hunt ghosts better than I can. I’ve never even seen one try.

How old were you when you noticed or interacted with your first ghost?

Umm, I’m not so good with years but it was after we moved out west. Elliott and I were partners for a long time before we finally saw a real ghost.

Favorite Treat?


What’s more annoying? A dead ghost cat or a live one?

I’ve never met a ghost cat, but I can’t imagine they are any better than live ones, except maybe I’ll be able to chase a ghost cat. Live ones since I can’t chase them.

What do you like to do when you’re not chasing ghosts?

Herd sheep or cows. It’s the best life.

What was the worst ghost you ever had to chase?

The ghost in the saloon was the worst so far. It turned into two ghosts and tried to hurt all of us.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever smelled or the best thing?

The worst thing would be Squirrels, or maybe skunks. The best thing….fresh cow pies.

What do ghosts taste like?

Sort of like they smell, musty and old.

Can other dogs be trained to see ghosts?

Sure. I’ve met several that have helped me hunt ghosts before.

Where did you learn your trade?

Elliott says I’m a natural. I learned sheep herding on the farm and it seems to work on ghosts too.

Detective Katherine Pig wants to know. "What do you find to be the best way to locate a wayward Ghost?"

Follow the sounds of screaming people. They are really afraid of ghosts.

Brown's Blog Tour Schedule:
Intro - June 11th – J. A. Campbell
Part 1- June 12th – Sam Knight
Part 2 - June 13th – Bea’s Book Nook
Part 3 - June 14th – Amaleen Ison
Part 4 - June 15th – Jen Wylie
Part 5 - June 16th – David Riley

IMG_2020The Brown Contest: Follow the link to enter a contest to win a copy of Science Fiction Trails 10 in which Brown battles Martians. US only I’ll send the winner a signed copy, the rest of the world, you have to take an unsigned copy, sorry. You gotta be willing to give me your address though. Alternately the winner can chose a Kindle copy. Contest runs from June 11th through June 30th. I’ll pick three winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bios: Brown – Brown is a Border Collie who hunts ghosts, and other things as it turns out, with her human, Elliott Gyles. You can find out more about her adventures here!!

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Hipster Glasses Saved My Writing


Sometimes, being a writer means not having all the answers. Most of the time, this is okay. Not having the answers means we have to search for them. Create them as part of the stories we write. And that’s something we’re all generally good at, or at least enjoy. But sometimes, when the doubt keeps coming, not having the answers is terrifying. Questions turn to doubt. And, if you’re like me, you find yourself spiraling from question to question and soon forget what your original question was. 

“Why can’t I figure out this story!?”
“Can I do this?” 
 “I suck!” 
"Why am I so hungry?” 
"Should I Google this more?"
"Is this - IT IS! This is insta-love! NOooo!"
“These words are horrible.” 
“I am even good?” 

As writers, I’ve found that many of us find doubts quickly. This, of course, is not valid. As writers, we create worlds and love and stories. We create people. Of course we’ll have concerns, but doubting our abilities to do the very thing we love? No. The key is to find ways to help, to stop the doubt and change it into something positive. 

 Enter hipster glasses. 

For me, I have certain things I go to that help with my creative process. I’ve found that doubting myself stemmed from not having a plan, not being able to create. So, if I find ways (even if they are silly) that help me create and focus on tasks at hand, that doubt comes around less and less. 

 1) I have hipster glasses that make me feel smart. Okay, I know they don’t make me smart. But I like them. And, if we’re being serious, I like the way they block the room so I HAVE to focus on the screen. Plus, they make me feel kind of like a writer, and that's half the battle.

 2) I have candy. Specifically, jelly beans and Sour Patch Kids. Sugar helps, don’t let anyone tell you differently. 

 3) I have friends. One of the best pieces of writing advice I got was this: LIVE LIFE. As writers, we often find ourselves sitting by a computer. Often alone. But if we go outside for even an hour, it helps get those creative juices flowing. I don’t know about you, but I always find myself inspired when I’m NOT at home. 

 4) I have writer friends who GET IT. Sometimes, there is nothing better than talking to someone who gets exactly what you’re trying to say before you even say it. 

 5) I have goals. While I don’t write from outlines, I do set goals for myself. And if I fail to meet those deadlines I can’t do things. I’ll tell myself that if I don’t meet my August deadline, I can’t buy a book. And, you guys, I want that book. 

 6) I hate odd numbers. * 

 So, hipster glasses for the win. And if hipster glasses aren’t your style, find something else that makes you think. Even if it’s silly. Even if it means walking away from your writing for a little while. Sometimes, instead of letting our writer doubts take over, we need to find ways to continue to be creative. The life of a writer is by no means stress free, but it is a good life. A great one, if you let it be. And I really wouldn’t trade this life for anything. 

 *I really do. So I had to make this even. Nerd. Alert.

David James writes books about stars and kisses and curses. He is the author of the YA novel, LIGHT OF THE MOON, the first book in the Legend of the Dreamer duet, as well as the companion novellas, THE WITCH'S CURSE and THE WARRIOR’S CODE. A Legend of the Dreamer anthology, SHADES OF THE STARS, will be released NEXT WEEK. Check out his FACEBOOK for exclusive teasers and giveaways.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Heart to Break

I'm in such a weird place right now: winding up the last book in a series that is so damned close to my heart that every time I go through a pdf (just finished the third pass, caught a few more mistakes, and so have stealed myself for the fourth pass), I end up crying all over again--and I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

And on the flip side, I'm doing copy-edits and revisions for WHITE SPACE, the first book of my new DARK PASSAGES series, and which, with every read-through, also reduces me to a puddle of goo--

AND I'm starting to outline the sequel, THE DICKENS MIRROR, and I'll tell you right now: writing is hard; writing these stories is gut-wrenchingly personal.

And this sequel--this series--is like nothing I've tried before.

So I've been a little worried, and scared.  More to the point, I've wondered what the hell I'm doing: not just that I may not succeed, but will I kill my career trying?

Now, of course, this is crazy--the career-killing part, that is.  There will be other books; I'll keep writing; this is why God invented pseudonyms.  As for not succeeding . . . well, hell, that's in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?  What doesn't work for one reader works for another.  Just think of all the books you've read that have gotten rave reviews but which you look at and think, Wuh?  As a good writer-friend of mine pointed out, no one book will make or break anyone.  Unless you outright plagiarize someone, no one book is the end-all and be-all of a career.  Hell, ask that guy who fibbed on Oprah, the hundred-zillion-gamillion pieces guy, and see if he isn't laughing all the way to the bank because, baby, scandal sells, too.

Except . . . 

These past two weeks have seen two fantastic, thought-provoking blog entries by Kristine Kathryn Rusch that you really need to read in their entirety: one on the stages writers, both indie and traditional, go through at certain points in their career and, a second, very personal story about the moment and series that made Kris nearly give up writing for good.  

Kris's second post has a lot of resonance, provokes a lot of emotion because I was kinda there when it happened.  In my comment to her, I mentioned that I remembered this whole episode--and I also agree with many other folks who've pointed out that while having a supportive S.O. means the world, the drive to write--to shake off disappointment and heartbreak and try again--must come from the writer.  

So read these blog entries and pay particular attention to Murder Most Foul because you need to ask yourself just how far you'd be willing to go.  I think that Kris shows remarkable honesty when she wonders if she should've taken her agent's advice.  She will never know, of course, and things sometimes have a way of working out as self-fulfilling prophesies, but is yanking a series from one publisher and going to another truly a death knell?  I admit: I don't know; I'm nowhere near as experienced to even attempt to answer this question; I wouldn't even know who to ask.  You could say that the agent might not have suggested this if the agent thought that move would fail because we are, after all, talking business, and the agent's got to eat, too.  But who knows?  Ask yourself how far you'd be willing to go to make a series fly--and whether, after having your heart broken, you'd have the will to drag yourself back up and try again.  Ask yourself if you really can divorce yourself and your book from "business;" if a book is truly a widget.  It's not to me; a book's got my blood on and in it.  Sending books out for people to shred takes a certain species of madness or courage . . . I haven't decided which, and I haven't yet met a writer who can truly separate herself from the widget, the finished product.  I know writers whose works have been savaged--in reviews, by bloggers, by snarky Twitterati--because this is both the blessing and the curse of social media: fans can find you, and you can go looking for trouble; you can sidle up to eavesdrop on a conversation that, really, you oughtn't and can do you nothing but harm.

But I can relate to what Kris says.  I think of all the times I've come close to giving up.  I think of the time when, after a couple years of no sales of any kind, I said to myself, one more story, and then that's it.  That's true, by the way; that really happened to me; that's what I'd decided: one more story, and then finis.  Happily, that story sold, and in a very big way, and that put enough wind beneath my wings to keep me going.  If it hadn't . . . I don't know.  Would I have quit?  I kind of think so . . . but then again, who will ever really know?

What Kris has done is, I think, very brave because she is the consummate pro and a strong woman, and stronger still by reminding us that we each have a breaking point, a place and time where and when we will shatter--because each of us has a heart to break.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Had To Pay To Use Dirty Toilets.

I'm so happy to be home! Almost three weeks was way too long of an excursion. I've never been so excited and so exhausted in my entire life, and it's amazing. I gained new loves, like the Swiss Alps, and new fears, like airports and co-ed toilets.

I do not know what's better, the view from my balcony in Paris, or the fact that I got lost in Paris trying to get back to the Eiffel Tower. Maybe it was performing in St. Mark's Basilica, or the train ride up to the Matterhorn. It's hard to pick, so I will not. But my favorite country was definitely Switzerland. The people were kind and welcoming and did not laugh too hard at my attempted French and German.

Traveling through all those ridiculously astounding places was a lifetime experience and being able to join a choir and accompany a band made up of young people from all over Oklahoma made it unforgettable. There were more ups than downs, making it completely worth being away from my family and friends for so long.

The downs, they were scary. I got lost a few times with the other unaccompanied minors, ate some meat that I was not entirely sure of what it was, and had to use one of the scariest restrooms I have ever seen. Jet-lag took over for the first three days. and is back again today. Nine hour flights and six hour layovers were unbearable, like sleeping on the plane and buses across the plethora of cultural epicenters. Wifi? What is wifi? Or ice? Or bacon? Dr. Pepper? Haven't had these in quite awhile. I found myself chanting "Goos fra ba" in the massive crowds of other tourists.

The ups, those were great. Wine tasting in Paris, fondu in Switzerland, watching glass being blown in Venice, every breakfast view, and my sweet yet insane tour directors (you have to crazy to voluntarily travel with teenagers, but still, they need some professional help...) who I'll cherish forever due to their comedic and parental qualities that I was in dire need of. I cannot wait to go back, it's so different and beautiful across the pond. There was a lot of inspiration gained and a lot of writing done as well which made the trip even better. Ideas just keep flowing in, settings just tattooed in the back of my mind. Ah, excitement!

Today, I'm taking photos for a wedding so when I catch a break, I want to hear about everyone's best and worst travel experiences. More tales will be shared from my side when I get some rest. Going 27 hours with out sleep is a new record, so hopefully I can make up for lost time... eventually..

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vacation Sick

Sechin Tower

Yesterday was the first day of my summer vacation so, of course, I came down with a 100 degree fever.
This seems happens to a lot of people: we push ourselves through all manner of storm and stress without slowing down and then, BOOM, we fall apart after it’s all over. I know people who had to cancel a trip to Hawaii because of an ill-timed illness just like this. 

Why does it work like that? Why do so many people get sick on their long-awaited vacation?

I’m not prone to illness (I haven’t needed to take a sick day all year), but it’s no mystery how I wore myself out this time. For a teacher in my position, the weeks before graduation are the most stressful of the year as I scramble to certify (or deny) potential graduates before they can walk across that stage. Every year there are triumphs and tears, angry parents and elated parents, and, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.

I go through a similar cycle when writing. As I’m approaching the end of a book, I feel a rush to get those final chapters on paper. Actually, it’s a lot like graduation in that it’s such a huge turning-point, when everything has to be completed and started. It weighs so heavily on my mind that I figure as long as I can’t sleep anyway I might as well get up and do something about it.

So that brings me to right now, and, if you’d like to know, I’m still feeling miserable. Luckily, I didn’t have stomach trouble or sore throat or many of the other cold symptoms. My problem is that there seems to be no way to sit that’s comfortable, and I fluctuate between being too hot and too cold. The biggest trouble is the lethargy: I keep thinking that I should get up off the couch, but then I don’t. So I just sit there thinking it’s a fortunate coincidence that I don’t really have anywhere I need to go.

Or is that coincidence? We all know how germs are transferred, but I haven’t heard a cough in months or seen anyone so much as a sniffle. It’s summer, after all, and we’re as far from cold and flu season as we can get. So where did I pick up the germs that gave me this fever?

My guess is that I’ve had it for a while, and my immune system has been holding it at bay just well enough to deal with it later. It takes a lot of energy to battle an illness—as evidenced by the fact that I’m so freakin’ exhausted after doing absolutely nothing—so the immune system bides its time until the resources are available, like the way your computer only scans for viruses when you’re not using any other apps.
Somehow, I must have sent out a signal that it was finally okay to relax, and my system said “Great! Let’s take care of that overdue cleanup.”

When you think about it, that’s pretty amazing. All those tiny little T-cells and leucocytes and whatever other things we have to fight infection seem like they shouldn’t be that smart. After all, they don’t have brains, and we can’t make a conscious decision about using them, so you’d think their reactions would be automatic and immediate, with no alteration in their programmed behavior. And yet, they’re part of such a miraculous system that they can work in harmony with the rest of us, detecting our mood and perceived stress, biding their time while we’re busy and then swinging into high gear when we’re not.

It makes me see how amazing the human body really is… even though mine feels awful at the moment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go drink some fluids and go back to sleep. If I’m lucky, by tomorrow I’ll actually be good for something.

Sechin Tower is a teacher, a table-top game designer, and the author of Mad Science Institute. You can read more about him and his books on

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Shameless Plug for Solstice!

This week I'm thrilled to welcome my debut young adult novel, Solstice, to the world!

This is a book that's been a long time in coming, and I am beyond happy that it's finally seeing the light of day (and right around the summer solstice, too, which is no coincidence!).

Solstice is aimed at fans of The Hunger Games and the Percy Jackson books, and I recommend it for 6th grade and up. Even though there is a girl on the cover, it has both boy and girl appeal (my son, Zachary, has given it the official stamp of approval). It's heavy with mythology and is set in future Austin, TX when global warming is killing the earth.

So I know I am totally biased. I think Solstice is awesome :)
But here is what other people with much more credibility are saying about the book.

"Solstice is one red-hot read—it intrigues,
sizzles, and satisfies."

—Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times bestselling author

"[Hoover's] confident deployment of myth is impressive . . . readers will be happy to immerse themselves in Piper’s struggles with adulthood, love, and fate."
Publishers Weekly

"Hoover utilizes her unique writing style to create a beautiful world of disaster and chaos"
School Library Journal Teen Review

"...a debut novel that consistently delivers..."

About Solstice:

Piper's world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth.

Solstice is available at bookstores everywhere! For those audiobook fans out there, the audiobook for Solstice is coming.


Please check my Solstice tour schedule to see if I'm coming to a city near you. I would love to see you there! My full schedule of appearances can be found on my website here.

In addition to a bookstore tour, I am also doing a Solstice blog tour! Full details of the blog tour can be found on my website here.

In honor of the release of Solstice, I am running a huge 42-book giveaway on my blog (including Twinkies!). Details are here.


P. J. Hoover is the author of the dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.

Monday, June 17, 2013


By Dan Haring

Lately I've been feeling a bit like this:

Work has been pretty slow, and I'm kind of in a holding pattern on my current WIPs while I wait for notes, so my mind has been flitting around, distracted by pretty much any shiny thing I lay eyes on. Believe it or not, there's only so much web surfing you can do, so each day has a fair amount of this in it:

I really just need to start working on something new and pour all my effort into it. But it seems like as soon as I start, work is going to get busy and I'm going to get notes back and the new project will have to be put on the back burner and I'll feel like this:

But I guess it's better than doing nothing at all. I mean, there's only so many times I can watch stuff like this.

 (but I have to admit the number is surprisingly high.) So tomorrow I'll be starting up on an old WIP and seeing where I can take it. At the very least I'll be able to exercise my brain a bit more, and I might even finish the story.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dragon Eggs

Lexi Brady
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At five years old I believed in magic (still do if we are being completely honest here) and at five years old I found a dragon egg. It was exactly like any dragon egg I had ever read about, or seen in any movie.

With colors swirling together like clouds before a storm the egg felt cool to the touch. I discovered this egg at a garage sale, did they not realize what a treasure they were practically giving away? Holding in gingerly in my hands I asked my great grandma to buy it for me. She did, and then with great care I put it in her purse so that the dragon could stay warm.

Everyone in my family attempted to explain to me that it was just a stone egg, that there was really no point to me taking care of it the way I did. But how could I listen to them when magic was radiating from that egg every time I held it?

As I grew older I found more "stone eggs" that I knew I had to have. Varying in color and size I am now in the possession of 11 dragon eggs. Over time though it became less about the nurturing of the egg and more about the possibilities I saw when I held them.

I feel the same way about writing and reading... The possibilities are endless, whether you are creating the character from your own imagination or are reading a book magic happens. You feel it as you turn the pages and smell the apple tree the protagonist is sitting under, or when your stomach flips as the hero fly's for the first time.

As I plan out my story lines and the lives of the characters I created I find myself in awe (and a tad bit overwhelmed) by all of the possibilities there are.

Will my character realize there wrong doings? Repent and help save the day? Will he instead decide to choose neither the light or the dark?

Will he find a dragon egg that hatches once it feels his awaited touch?

While I wait for my own collection of dragon's eggs to hatch I am pondering these questions of where this story will take me and my characters. A journey long and rocky, or a fall swift and sharp I have yet to discover the end of the road of possibilities magic contains..

Magic is imagination.

Until next time,

<3 <3 Lexi

Friday, June 14, 2013

TV Shows I’m Addicted To

Jordan Dane

I have my DVR set up with countless shows I record. My husband also knows my interest in the strange and peculiar NOVA Science shows or historical documentaries. As a writer, anything can stir your imagination and you never know what small tidbit can fuel a book or series. I once did a whole proposal after seeing a science show on venomous snakes.

Here are a couple of my fav TV shows adapted from books:

Hannibal – OMG! I am giddy for Thursday nights now because of this show. This is an adaptation of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, but it is a prequel where FBI BAU profiler, Agent Will Graham, is brought in to consult with his old boss, Jack Crawford, and hunt serial killers. We meet the infamous Hannibal Lecter in the wild, before he gets caught. Will is good at his job, depicted as closer to Asperger's & sociopaths, and can visualize himself as the killer. This puts him in need of therapy, as you can imagine, but his boss picks Hannibal Lecter as his psychiatrist. This is graphic stuff, but the tongue in cheek dark humor is over the top and the psychological trauma worsens in Will, as we see him falling apart and under the care of Lecter. It’s mesmerizing to watch. Hugh Dancy is yummy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelson as Hannibal redefines the role, big shoes to fill after Anthony Hopkins.

Justified – This show’s season has ended, but it gets better each year. Writer Elmore Leonard is the guy behind this show and the writing is superb. The characterizations and the dialogue are worth every minute of your time to watch this show. One of my favorite things to do is tweet my fav lines as the show is one. Many of my writer friends do this. Marshal Raylan Givens and criminal childhood friend Boyd Crowder are two characters to watch. The season that just ended was my favorite (and that’s saying something). Pure Rayland and Boyd.

Cable Shows I Have Recently Become Addicted to:

The Borgias – Jeremy Irons is damned sexy as a Pope. And his son, Cesare Borgia, has me spellbound…especially when he’s naked. Family scandal and treachery in enticing scenes.

Merlin – This is a different take on King Arthurs Court with a younger King Arthur and his loyal servant, Merlin, who can secretly do magic, a practice that is outlawed in Camelot.

Bates Motel – Yes, Psycho revisited, but this is before Alfred Hitchcock’s version, when Norman Bates is a teen. The making of a psycho and his weird relationship to his crazed mother.

What are some of your favorite guilty pleasure TV shows…and why do you like them? Are you addicted to any of the shows I watch?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meet Michelle Birbeck, Author

Enjoy, ADR3NALIN3 fans ♥

What got you into the world of the paranormal?

TheLastKeeper_Cover (2) MB: My first taste of anything vampire was when I was fifteen. My friends and I started reading the Nightworld Series by LJ Smith, and I was hooked. From the first book I wanted more, and when there were no more, I wanted other books. I devoured everything I cold get my hands on. From there I found Anne Rice and loved her; I still go back to her books on occasion and my favourite has to be Pandora. These days my favourites are the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, but I still have a huge soft spot for the Nightworld series, even though it has never been officially finished.

In such a saturated market of vampire books, how does yours stand out??

MB: Because it isn't about vampires. The Keepers' Chronicles aren't your typical human girl falls in love with vampire and wants to be turned into the undead. It is nothing like that, in fact! Sure, there's love in the books, and there are plenty of vampires, but what it's really about, the whole series, is the Keepers.

They're what make The Keepers' Chronicles stand out, because they're new. All these vampires, all these takes on the mythology, they all have one thing in common: Vampires are supernatural creatures with the strength and ability to wipe up poor humans from the face of the planet.

So why don't they? Power corrupts, that saying is older than I know, and it stands as true now as when it was first uttered. The vampires of the Keepers' Chronicles are no exception, and what is stopping them is the Keepers. Immortal beings with the power to influence the mind, to keep the immortal races hidden in the shadows. But they have a weakness at the start of the series: when they meet their partners, their mortal lives become theirs. Kill a Keepers' partner and the Keeper dies.

So for those looking for a twist on the vampire genre, a new take on the myth of the undead, the Keepers' Chronicles has just that. Love, danger, vampires, wars, and everything in between.

You've written 3 books for that series, will you stop after those are out or will this be an ongoing saga??

MB: Two books and a short story, yes! And it is not stopping there! The initial series is four novels long: The Last Keeper, Last Chance, Exposure, and Revelations. Then after that there are a couple of other characters who speak loud enough in my head to want their own books, but instead of being sequential, they will be tie ins with the series. The short stories came about because there are some 'missing years' in book one, The Last Keeper, and I got a number of requests to write what happened in that time. However, given the circumstances, it wouldn't make a very happy book, so I decided to write A Glimpse Into Darkness. This is a short story set in those missing years, 1064's U.S.S.R, to be exact, and it follows some of Serenity's life during that time. There will be more short stories in the coming years as the series progresses, but I don't know what they are yet!

With all those subplots demanding their own spotlights and all the books coming out, do you think you'll ever write something else than the Keepers series?

MB: Oh, absolutely! I am in the process of looking at publishing a young adult novel called The Stars Are Falling, and I am actively publishing short horror stories. the next one out will be The Phantom Hour due on October 26th. I have a whole folder dedicated to ideas and plots, though, so I have plenty to keep me going for years to come!

Famous last words?

MB: If you want to be a serial killer, try being a literary one: less mess, less jail time!

Michelle has been reading and writing her whole life. Her earliest memory of books was when she was five and decided to try and teach her fish how to read, by putting her Beatrix Potter books in the fish tank with them. Since then her love of books has grown, and now she is writing her own and looking forward to seeing them on her shelves, though they won’t be going anywhere near the fish tank.
She blogs and Tweets @michellebirbeck

Monday, June 10, 2013

Going All Joe Friday

By now, I think we've established that I don't "do" vacations well.  I never know I'm supposed to be on vacation unless my husband tells me.  I simply can't vacate my life because writing pretty much defines me these days and to the point where I no longer feel as, well . . . sheepish when people ask what I do.  Until fairly recently, I always qualified: Well, I'm a child shrink.  Started out in surgery, went on to child psychiatry, and did prison work, too . . . but now I, uh . . . well, I write YA novels.  Today at a wedding reception and then a little later on at a high school graduation thingamabob, I flat-out said I was a writer.  No qualifiers, no explanations.  No feeling this need to apologize.  OTOH, I didn't even realize what I'd left unsaid until the husband pointed it out.

Now, for those of you who wonder why I might have felt a little embarrassed or sheepish or whatever . . . really, it's not that hard to understand.  I mean, for heaven's sake, I went to school for ten trillion years to become a doctor which is--let's face it--kind of a tough go.  In the early days of my gradual slide into full-time writer-dom, I felt like such a frigging fraud.  Everyone's working on or written or had an idea for a novel, right?  And I think that by saying I was a doc first and a wannabe writer way, way second, I was protecting myself from what I thought was inevitable failure--because I couldn't really do this; my stories were so damn bad--and trying to have it both ways: hanging onto a hard-won accomplishment and something that gave me an out just in case.  So it's only been very recently that I've given myself permission to be a writer.

I don't know if that still feels tenuous to me or not, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that it might.  I'm always thinking that all this could disappear tomorrow, or the books I've published must be a mistake, a fluke, a snafu on a cosmic level.  That, someday, someone's gonna wake up--DOH!--and realize that, no, no, there must be some mistake: that Bick character, she is outta here.

Perhaps that's why I have a hard time letting go of work this go-round.  Most writers are always writing, whether they're conscious of it or not.  They're amassing experiences, thinking of a plot point, planning the next scene, stuff like that.  My husband says he always knows when I'm not really in the room because I become monosyllabic if not completely über-quiet.  (To some, I imagine that might be a relief.) 

This probably explains why these past couple of weeks in the UK have felt even less like a vacation than usual because I went for the express purpose not simply of researching the sequel to White Space, the first book in my new series set to appear next spring, but making like a human sponge: soaking up locale and ambience and period details.  Wherever I went, people were enormously helpful, and even more so when they found out that I was working on a novel (which, no, I didn't say; the husband would always blab).  I went all Joe Friday: just the facts, Ma'am.

The experience was all rather overwhelming, actually, just the sheer volume of it all.  I could feel myself trying to remember everything.  I filled up notebooks; I studied arcane books that librarians lugged from storage; I took scads of pictures; if Kodak were still in business, I could be a major share-holder.  Man, my mind got so stuffed with information, I could've sworn those tink-tinking sounds were facts dribbling from my ears to hit the floor.  I completely freaked myself out, thinking that, shit, I'll never remember all this.  Worse, I worry that I'll never assimilate all this material or get to the point where describing something isn't self-conscious. 

Like . . . you know . . . take turning on a light.  You just do it, right?  No one gives a rat's ass about the excitation of mercury vapor in a fluorescent bulb, and unless your story centers around a homicidal maniac who goes around poisoning folks with mercury fumes, who cares?  Unless the quality of the light is important to establishing place or situation, you don't worry about it.

But if you light a kerosene lamp, what's the quality of the light then?  What color?  How bright?  What do the shadows look like?  Is the light from whale oil the same, or different?  Would the color depend on the grade of whale oil?  Would burning whale oil have a scent and, if so, what kind?  Would that be the kind of sensory detail that would "place" a story? (Hint: the answer is yes.)

I remember the author of this one monster of an sf trilogy--we're talking years back--took a perfectly good story and completely ruined it by larding the narrative with so many facts the thing read like a treatise on rocket design, terraforming, and planetary ecology. I'm not kidding; every time I tried to read that thing, I'd glaze over.  My eyes would start to merge at the center of my forehead.  I'd think, Dude, I don't frigging care about the obliquity of the ecliptic

Now, though, and for the first time, I could appreciate why that guy and so many writers--even those with a ton of skill--might want to put all that knowledge down just to show you that, see, I know this, see?   When you've gone to that much trouble to immerse yourself in a period and place, it's only natural to want people to appreciate just how hard that is. 

A month ago, I tried plowing through an historical thriller by this very well-published, best-selling author.  In interviews, the guy said that the research for his book took about a year and man, it was clear that he wanted to make damn sure you knew--that, by God, you should appreciate--all those hours and days and weeks and months of effort he'd put into this thing.  That book was so larded with facts, the writing was stale, the words absolutely leaden.  I finally gave up about twenty pages in, when the second chapter actually started out with that kind of deathless dry prose that makes you want to stab your eyes out with a fork: In such and such a year, this and that was formed for the purpose of . . . zzzzzzz.


I know how that writer felt.  I also know what he forgot.

The best research is that which doesn't call attention to itself.  Facts need to melt seamlessly into narrative.  Facts give readers a sense of a place; verisimilitude makes a world.  But a collection of facts is not synonymous with story--unless you're Joe Friday.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Swearing/Cursing In Teen Fiction; Why It's Necessary, And When It's Overkill

** Hello! I'm probably in Paris by now! I really wish I could post while I'm here, but I've got too much to do! I'm here with my choir representing my lovely home, and I'm sure I'm having a stellar time. Phantom of the Opera in the London Theatre?(One of my favorite books ever) I can't wait to tell everyone. This is my first time out of the country and I'm quite nervous to say the least. I'm writing this before my camp in Ada, OK where I'm learning SIXTEEN songs. Yikes. I'll be in the UK, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein. Crazy, huh? I'm performing five times in fantastic Cathedrals and gardens and I cannot wait to share my experiences with you all. My camera will be glued to my face, so many pictures will be in the next post. Be prepared... I'm so ecstatic, and I can't wait to hear your comments on this one, it will help me out in some character development for my dystopian.

Alrighty, So I've been wondering people's opinions on this subject. Is cursing O.K. for teens? I'm not talking about little twelve to fourteen year-olds, but people my age.(New drivers)  This maybe not true everywhere, but cursing is prominent in my circles, and I hang around some pretty good adolescents. It's not usually in front of adults, or parents, but I just don't see the problem with using such language in the same situations in a work of fiction. From previous research, there was a whole lot of fuss about it in teen literature.

If it's appropriately used, is cursing bad? When someone is genuinely upset, whether young or old, they might say some not so nice language that you wouldn't want to say in front of your grandmother.(Not true to my grandmother; she taught me everything I know in the ways of foul words.) There are some great works that over use colorful words like The Catcher in the Rye, and most of Quentin Tarantino's films. These are enjoyable, though filled with "bad" words (How could a word be bad? it's just a word), and they really aren't affected by the language. Now, some comedies use cursing to be humorous instead of making a point that they're upset or feel strongly about a subject.

 Granted, every time someone drops the F-bomb and it's not directed towards me, I enjoy a good laugh. Every once in a while, I'll say something inappropriate just because I know it will bring a friend or group to tears; because I am that hilarious.(Not really.)

If/When a character is portrayed as a villain or bad guy and they're the only ones who are swearing; that just seems like an inaccurate way to display an antagonist. Swearing should not be every other word, and it should not be used to make someone look bad or evil. Swearing should be used to capture someone's attention, and it usually does or it would not have stirred up so much trouble like Banned Books and what not. Should kids run around shouting screw you to their parents or any other authority figure? NO. But I think that some young adult books should not be bashed for accurately portraying what young adults wound say or how they would react to a situation.

What do you think? Am I just totally biased due to my age?   Am I a little hellion? Am I just crazy? Because I don't react well when people call me crazy. Or am I correct in my ways? Help me please! I value all of your opinions.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Zombies taught me how to write

Sechin Tower

Illustration by Chad Sergesketter
courtesy of Exile Game Studio
Do you want to know the secret of every good zombie movie? Good zombie movies aren’t about the zombies.

Sure, the zombies might be amazingly gross or glow with radioactivity, but you have to admit that watching 90 minutes of nothing but a bunch of moaning, rotting corpse-monsters would be a pretty boring.

The zombies might be what brings you to the theater, but the thing that makes you remember the movie, recommend it to your friends, and watch the DVD over and over is the living, talking people. The characters.

Since George Romero established the genre in his 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead, zombies have served one purpose only: to put pressure on the characters.

When characters are under pressure, they reveal who they really are. Do they stay calm or freak out? Do they have the guts and the brains to succeed, or do they look for the easy way out? Do they sacrifice themselves to save others, or do they trip their comrades to serve as bait for the horde?

We would never know the answers if the characters weren’t forced to deal with the zombies. Or, for those of you considering stories that don’t involve the undead (I suppose such stories are theoretically possible…) the same goes for characters forced to deal with hurricanes, or family arguments, or cultural friction, or whatever.

The bottom line is that it all comes down to the characters. If you're a writer, consider carefully how your zombies (literal or figurative) serve to put your characters into the pressure cooker. If you're a reader.. enjoy the chase! and never stop thinking about what you would do if you were in that tight spot.

Be good, and dream crazy dreams,

Sechin Tower is a teacher, a table-top game designer, and the author of Mad Science Institute. You can read more about him and his books on and his games on

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The End

I can remember the last class of my last quarter in grad school. I was done. The major occupation of my previous eighteen years was…over. I had reached the finish line.

And while there was a little seed of excitement, mostly I was scared and more than a little disoriented. What was I going to do without assignments and deadlines? The school calendar had defined my days and now the rest of life was here. I was lucky to have a job, a new marriage, significant friendships, but if I looked in the mirror, who I would see now? I wasn’t quite sure. Whoever gazed back at me wouldn’t have my old familiar identity, student.


I was thinking about that last week when I wrote “the end” on a story I’d been working on for the last year. There was that sprint that comes right before the finish, and then I was on the other side of the manuscript wondering what life would be like without my two protagonists waking me up every morning. I was excited, but once again more than a little disoriented. And lonely? How can I miss imaginary people? Oh, sure there will be edits and copy edits, but it won’t be the same, finishing never is. 

I planned to take a few days off, relax, after all, I’d worked hard. Maybe even celebrate. But, by the second day, I was edgy. So I asked Sci-Fi guy who had also just completed a manuscript what he did to celebrate. He looked at me sheepishly. “I gave blood,” he said. “It seemed fitting. And that night we had a bar-b-que. But we probably would have had the bar-b-que anyway.”  So maybe I’m not the only one who isn’t good at celebrating.

So here’s what I want to know. When you accomplish a major goal, how do you celebrate? How do you mark the day? I have to confess that the very next morning I was back at my computer, striking up a conversation with a few new imaginary friends.