Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adrien Luc-Sanders releases From the Ashes

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father's inhuman empire.

Win $500 or $250 Visa Gift Cards or a manuscript crit if From the Ashes reaches the Amazon top 100! Contest Rules / Entry Page | Buy on Amazon | Add to GoodReads

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Game On (Gender and Gaming)

There's a lot of controversy about exactly how much of a percentage of gamers (video, consol, etc.) are women, but no matter what statistic you look at the answer is "quite a bit." This is my humorous take on the gender breakout.

Other things to read:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Interview with Adam from Hellenic Immortal

Adam was able to sober up enough to answer these...

Tell me about the favorite pet you've ever had. Did you adopt it or did it adopt you?

The idea of pets is historically somewhat more complicated than you might imagine, actually.  I can recall a fair number of animals I would have called “friend”, which is approximately how I would identify a wild animal that I didn’t want to eat and that didn’t want to eat me.  But that was early on, when it was a bit less likely for said animal to be instinctively frightened of me.

Also implicit in “friend” is the idea of equal footing, which changed when animals became domesticated.  For the creatures it was possible to domesticate—just as a personal note, do not try to ride a zebra—it was very difficult to see them as pets because we treated them more like we treated plants: something we grow to eat, trade or sell.

Then came the idea of domesticating plus breeding, and then certain animals that I was hardwired to dislike, fear and/or hunt and kill and eat became household pets. Or rather, their smaller, tamer descendants did.  And it has always been very hard for me to see these animals the same way more modern people do.  Dogs I’m mostly all right with, because wild dogs and wolves tended to be okay by themselves.  You could form a bond with a lone wolf; it was the packs you had to look out for.  But cats I don’t like.  I know the modern house cat is smaller now than the kind I’m thinking of, but they aren’t tame; they’re just too small to eat you.

Anyway, to answer your question, I had a parrot once I was very fond of.  His name was Parrot.

Out of all the people you've met - if you couldn't be you whose life would you like to have led?

I’m not sure.  The problem is that everyone I might mention would be dead now, because that’s essentially true of everyone I’ve ever known.  To compound that, you would be amazed how quickly envy dies down when you see someone get older.  It’s possible envy itself is something that only makes sense for people with more finite lifespans than mine.

But okay, I can’t very well throw another non-answer at you after the last one.  My first inclination is to lean toward royalty or some otherwise well-to-do type of world ruler, but I’ve known a LOT of people who were kings of their own portion of the world, and there is an incredible amount of anxiety attached to that kind of position. And the life expectancy is not fabulous. Sure, you can have any woman you want, you can command everyone and get everything you want, but you’re incredibly susceptible to random events out of your control.  Like droughts.  A good drought will just ruin everything.

So if given the choice I’d probably pick someone like Newton.  Note I said “like Newton.”  Isaac Newton was, when I knew him, an incredibly dissatisfied and cranky person that everybody mostly hated.  But he looked at the world and saw it in a way that nobody before then had ever seen it. I would like to experience something like that someday.

Ok, seriously, who killed the Princes in the Tower? And do you have any idea what Richard III was really like?

I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to either of these questions.  In the mid-1400’s I was living in Picardy, and after that I was traveling around Eastern Europe and North Africa with a very entertaining vampire friend.  My knowledge of vagaries of royal succession in this period are vague and with a Gallic slant.

How do I find and make friends with a pixie?

Pixies are very difficult to find but not too tough to make friends with.  I supplied one method in Immortal that involved mushrooms, a few other semi-necessary ingredients, and molasses.  The molasses was to hold the pixie and the mushrooms were to attract her, and that works pretty well if you live in a zone where pixies are likely.  (Not that I know where pixies are unlikely.  I know you can’t catch one just anywhere, but why that is I don’t know, and asking a pixie is an exercise in frustration.)  Really anything that uses mushrooms and a lot of patience on your part should work eventually.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Hellenic Immortal by Gene Doucette

As you probably recall (because I won't shut up about it), Immortal was officially my favorite book of 2010. So I was more than a little excited (squee!) to get an advance copy of the second book Hellenic Immortal in order to review it before it is released on May 3rd.

I'm happy to report that Hellenic Immortal has everything that I loved about Immortal - voice, pacing, mystery, cleverness, philosophy, and atmosphere. Plus it has more! Quantum physics, for instance. And somehow Hellenic Immortal feels more... at ease with itself. But Adam (or Jason or Spencer or Ut-Naphishtim) feels a bit more harried in this one because the stakes keep getting higher. In the first book he had the innate confidence of someone who has managed to survive for a few thousand (tens of thousands) of years. But between the environmental changes of modern life and the risks surrounding him of too many people knowing who he is and having an interest in him, it seems like ducking out of sight and waiting a few hundred years for the danger to go away just isn't going to work this time.

The last thing I want to do is any spoilers (for either book, in case you haven't read the first one), so I won't go into any more details even though I REALLY, REALLY WANT TO. There were some new characters to fall in love with, some new enemies to face, and some really fascinating twists. When you've read the book email or tweet me and then I will have someone to talk to.

So how does Hellenic Immortal stack up in terms of  terms of sequels? For me the easiest way to illustrate sequels is with movies. (For instance Highlander 2 was a sequel so bad that it almost destroyed the cult classic that preceded it, and Wrath of Khan is commonly thought to be better than Star Trek: The Motion Picture.) For me Hellenic was like the Game of Shadows - everything I loved about the 2009 Sherlock Holmes... plus.

You'll love it. Trust me.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back in Time A to Z: Bedazzled (2000)

This movie has one of the best intros ever. All these people zipping around in fast-motion and then paused with insights into their character in a bubble over them, sort of giving you the perspective of any angels or demons keeping an eye on us. Comes off as both cute and creepy, setting a good tone for this tongue-in-cheek exploration of the nature of our souls and how our choices shape our lives.

Directed by Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, Analyze This), it has the wit and intelligence at which Ramis excels. The movie focuses on the life of Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser). Elliot is a bit of a dork as the movie starts, not very well liked by his co-workers and socially inept. He pines for his co-worker Alison who is obviously leagues apart from him in temperament and life path. The Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) sees Elliot as an easy mark and soon has him signing his soul away for a chance at a better life with Alison. He gets seven wishes, which seems like a lot until he sees how the Devil can twist his words and intentions.

The Commander's Rating: Three out of five Vulcan salutes. Silly and quotable.
Pros: The goofy version of Brendan Fraser plus the sultry version of Elizabeth Hurley. There are a number of very quotable scenes and some Fraser beefcake if he's your thing.
Cons: Neither as deep nor as funny as it could be. Solid, just not exceptional. It also makes assumptions or statements about morality that some viewers may find objectionable. (It's somewhere between the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Kevin Smith's movie Dogma.)
Recommendation: Great for a weeknight to unwind. Pop some popcorn and get ready for a few laughs. It's a remake of a Dudley Moore/Peter Cook/Raquel Welch movie from 1967 which is also worth checking out.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Back in Time A to Z: Airplane! (1980)

It's possible that my parents showed a distinct lack of judgment by taking me to this movie at such a young age. On the other hand it's possible I wouldn't have developed such a wicked sense of humor without it. Airplane! isn't just a comedy, it's a celebration of humor.

If you've never seen Airplane! then it's possible that some of the jokes are too anachronistic for them to hit your funny bone as hard as they would have in 1980 (provided you were around in 1980 to see it). For instance, although Hare Krishnas are still around they aren't as ever-present in airports giving out their flowers. On the other hand there are a number of jokes that are timeless. Anyone who has been in an airport is familiar with the bland, boring announcements about loading zones (keep an ear out in this movie for the announcers/announcements to get interesting). And many of the puns, visual jokes, and bawdy scenes are just as silly and outrageous now as they were then.

Some quotes that we fans use and totally recognize when someone else uses them:
  • "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit..." drinking, smoking, amphetamines, sniffing glue, etc. (Oh how we miss you, Lloyd Bridges!)
  • "A hospital? What is it?" "It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now."
  • "Surely you can't be serious." "I am serious... and don't call me Shirley."
  • "You ever seen a grown man naked?" 
The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes. It's a classic.
Pros: Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges, silly jokes and situations, and a plot that's a rollicking good time. It never fails to make me laugh. They lampoon the movie Airport, politics, pop culture, and everything else they could think of.
Cons: It was made to capture some of the oeuvre of the time, which means that you might not get it or at least might be "over" some of the issues that are being lampooned. You can definitely tell that it fell between the 70s and 80s.
Recommendation: Any time you need a distraction and pick-me-up Airplane! is a good movie to turn to. And the more you watch it the more it will make you laugh. Please be aware that there is nudity and some sexual jokes/situations.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Immortal by Gene Doucette (2012)

You might remember that my favorite book of 2010 was Immortal by Gene Doucette. Well, it's being re-released (squee!) so I got Gene to come by and tell me about the re-release and what else he has coming up. If you haven't read Immortal yet now is a GREAT time to pick up a copy (click here! click!!).

Thanks for coming by the blog today, Gene! I was so excited to see that you are re-releasing Immortal and have a sequel coming out soon, too. Everyone knows I'm a huge fan of the book - or at least they will when they see me quoted on the back cover now! When you started Immortal did you think you would have other books coming after it?

I don’t think I was thinking of anything special when I started writing Immortal. I was just hoping I could make it to the end. But then I funny thing happened...

See, the first draft of Immortal had a different ending than the one everyone is familiar with. Specifically, some questions that I ended up leaving open were not initially left open. (All right, maybe that was an abuse of the word “specifically.”) But the story didn’t work with all of that information crammed in at the end so in the rewrite I pulled out a lot of expository/revelatory information, and once I did that I knew there was going to have to be at least one more book.

And, since I didn’t use all of that information in Hellenic Immortal, there will have to be at least a third book.

A third book! Exactly what I was hoping you would say. For anyone who doesn't understand how excited this makes me you should probably check out the article I wrote about Immortal over on my sister blog Writing Insight. Gene, you know I love not just talking to you about your books but about how you write your books. I'm hoping to find out how you do it so well! So now I have to ask what is the best part of writing multiple books? What’s the worst part?

The best part is I get to write as Adam some more. As a reader you (I hope) enjoy reading what he has to say, but the pleasure is all mine. I’m hoping he never runs out of things to talk about so I never have to stop writing for him.

The worst part? There are a lot of potential pitfalls. For one thing, since I am writing from a very narrow first person perspective it is very difficult to not repeat myself. Keeping Adam interesting is just in general somewhat challenging at times, because sometimes it seems like he doesn’t have anything new to say about a certain thing. And since he is so fond of throwaway comments about certain people or events, I have to be extremely careful not to contradict myself by, say, putting him in two different historical places at the same time.

What are your plans from here?

I need to write that third book. I’m cramming on the Euro-Asian historical period from the fall of the Roman Empire to about 1450, Celtic mythology, and advanced physics. Hopefully that will give me all I need to flesh something out. Beyond that I have a completed novel called Fixer I’m hoping to roll out next year in time to keep everyone looking for the third Immortal book from forgetting about me while I finish it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back in Time Review: The Mothman Prophesies (2002)

We all have "those" movies. The ones that we return to again and again even though we can't always explain why. The Mothman Prophesies isn't a great movie. It's good, but not great. And the actors don't exactly put it over the top. I'm not much of a fan of Richard Gere, I like Debra Messing but she isn't in it much. It is the first film where I noticed Laura Linney, who I adore, but she isn't in it a ton either.  The really standout performance is the crazy guy played by Will Patton (won't ruin it for you, but you'll know who I mean) and he isn't in it the whole time either. If you read the real accounts it isn't really "true" to those stories, so it's not the crypto-nerd points. It's just... everything. It's a quiet, subtle movie that slowly reaches up and takes hold of you the way that all classic horror stories do. It gives you more questions than answers, more chills than thrills. But it all adds up in a way that will probably make leave all the lights on when going to bed.

The Mothman Prophesies is loosely based on some mysterious reports in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia back in the 1960s. Residents reported having seen a large (often seven feet tall) man-shaped being with wings and glowing red eyes. All of those reports seemed to come in advance of a catastrophe in the town.

From a plot perspective they make a good choice with having the main character be a high-power investigative journalist -- John Klein played by Richard Gere. That career (and some other personal things) make his drive to figure out what's going on very believable and create a thread that the real accounts don't have. John Klein arrives at Point Pleasant under somewhat mysterious circumstances and that also makes his quest for the truth have some weight.

What's particularly enjoyable to those of us who watch so many things like this is that the Mothman is just downright different. You get to a point where you're tired of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. Mothman is something else. I could write a whole post about what the Mothman might be, but don't want to ruin it for you if you haven't seen it yet. So watch it now and we can discuss it on Twitter!

The Commander's Rating: Four out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: A creepy, thinking-person's horror movie with an unusual supernatural phenomenon based on real accounts from the 1960s. If you're a Gere fan I think this is one of his most engaging performances. Laura Linney (Connie Mills), Alan Bates (Alexander Leek), and Will Patton (Gordon Smallwood) all turn in highly engaging performances.
Cons: Not the right film if you are looking for a scream a minute. Also, maybe you don't want to get the Mothman's attention.
Recommendation: Late night fare so that the quiet creepiness can really get to you. Be prepared to be intrigued. For your convenience here's the link to the Mothman wikipedia entry but I suggest you watch the movie first since they didn't follow the accounts very closely and I think foreknowledge would just be distracting. And as a caution here's a link to our own Mothman experience.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Should I Change My Twitter Avatar? (pics)

Today I read this article and it got me to thinking. Should I change my Twitter avatar? Do me a favor and vote for one of the three options.

1. Current Avatar

I mean, in terms of authenticity I drew this avatar myself. It was part of a cartoon wishboard where I'm at Comicon. (Hasn't happened yet, darn wishboard, but I'll keep wishing.) This cartoon Sue has become sort of the basis of my "brand identity" and is all over my Twitter, Facebook, and other accounts.

2. Proposed "Real Me" Avatar

If you've read my interviews you've seen this pic before. It's not the best quality but it's one of the rare ones where I'm ACTUALLY SMILING. This means that my husband took it.

3. Alternate "Really Me" Avatar

And then this is what I look like when I'm tweeting away in the den. My MacBook Pro is wicked bright apparently. Well, slight lie, I usually have my hair knotted at the top of my head and vanity demanded that I shake it down for a picture.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What If "Star Wars: Episode I" Was Good? (Belated Media)

If you're an original trilogy Star Wars fan and haven't seen this yet, you really need to click the play button. Although I don't agree with him on all points, I definitely agree with him in concept. If only we had faith that Lucas would ever edit for things like this...

You can be a fan of Belated Media on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Husband Is A Technology Hipster

Last night while doing laundry (a statement that makes me feel very Erma Bombeck, but it's truly what I was doing) I started thinking about my husband's casual distaste for smart phones, ebooks, and other hallmarks of the modern technological life. It was odd, I thought to myself, because he loves gadgets. Then I realized it was because those were things he was "so over."

Perhaps it was being raised by a single father who also happened to be in the computer industry since the 60s, but my hubs has a comfortable relationship with tech. Without making any special effort that I can see he keeps his nose to the wind of tech changes, picking and choosing technology interests. For instance, when the HP Jornada came out in the late 90s he scooped it up. It was branded as a PDA but was really a tiny pc. He loved it. He had wifi (back when it wasn't in every coffee shop, which means he complained constantly) and a complete catalog of available ebooks (thank you UVa digital library and the Gutenberg Project). The only thing that his Jornada didn't have in comparison to my smartphone was the phone part, something he hates anyway.

In case you wondered, yes every now and then when I talk about what I'm doing on my smart phone he mentions that the technology should have come a lot farther by now. And you can hear it in his voice, the desire to say "That is so fifteen years ago."

From now on I'll be keeping a sharper eye on what he wants to pick up and play with because he is obviously a technology hipster.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writing Insight Interviews Are Back!

After a six month hiatus the Writing Insight interviews are back! Check them out at the Writing Insight blog!

2/8/12 Rick Gualtieri with Bigfoot Hunters
2/1/12 Myke Cole with Control Point

Did you miss some of the awesome ones that were posted before break?
  • 6/6/11 Matt Forbeck - who since then did a crazy Kickstarter to raise money to write 12 novels in 2012! I'm thinking maybe Matt would do anything on a dare.
  • 5/4/11 Rose Gordon - who has published another romance trilogy since our interview.
  • 4/25/11 Dayton Ward - Star Trek novelist extraordinaire who continues to turn out novels and short stories at an incredible rate
  • and many, many more! Go to to check them out.
The site now has categories so that you can check interviews out by genre.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Ultimate in Geek Chic

If you want to totally geekify your living space you can't do any better than Tony Alleyne at 24th Century Design.

Check out his kitchen:
Via Boing Boing

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Will the Blogger App Save Me?

Among the reasons my blogging died an ignoble death in 2011 was not having internet access on my computer at home at night. No, I don't blog while on the clock at work. Call me old-fashioned. Navigating the blogger website from my Droid was awkward at best and the email posting option always feels weird. But perhaps this app I just discovered will be the tickets.

I can even add pictures! I know you're as excited as I am...