Nov 182013

Let’s welcome the lovely Jean 8. Aeglothecca — yes, that’s a pseudonym and no, I don’t know where it comes from. And no, I won’t tell you Jean’s real name. But if you read down to the bottom of this post, you may figure it out for yourself.


I will, however, tell you to read this book. The vision, the characters, the situation… it’s not what you think and it’s one not to miss.

Which leads me to one big question: Jean, what song makes you think of your book?

I think I’ll have to go with Garbage’s “Why Do You Love Me?” from their 2005 Bleed Like Me Album. To me, it’s raw, it’s real, it’s unforgiving. As a reader (and a writer) I want to read stories about flawed characters. I enjoy strong female characters that go against the grain, and against what’s “expected” of them just because they are female. I want to know what makes characters tick–but not necessarily WHY they tick–otherwise it will feel like some sort of lesson. I want to see what characters do when bad things happen to them. In my story, THE PALE WATERS, which is set in a futuristic, alternate-earth like land, my main character Rahda is (internally) flawed to the bone and when she meets Roland, who is physically scarred and deformed, she is unprepared, but it is fun to watch what she does about it, how all of her plans are thrown out the window, and the journey she goes on. The reason why I chose Garbage’s song for this question is because, at the heart of my book (and the series) is that it is an unconventional romance. Why Do You Love Me? Great question. Why do any of us love?

Yeah, I’m still struggling with that question, myself.

Need a blurb? Sure you do!


Welcome to The Continent on Earth II, a post-royal revolutionized land filled with robots, beasts, humans, and half-humans, and ruled by the mysteriously absent and secretive Dark Prince Roland Rexus.

The Continent is a place where a dark stain spreads, the sun no longer shines, where the rain is black, icy, and laced with metal shrapnel, and where souls are collected and owned like prized possessions.

Rahda Plesti, a Class Zero citizen and an unorthodoxly trained assassin, descends upon the capitol city of Skyscraper City with one goal in mind: kill the Dark Prince and end the monarchy. But because of a secret she carries, Rahda finds that things do not go as planned as she discovers what Roland keeps hidden.

She’s in the midst of war she doesn’t fully understand with consequences that not only impact Skyscraper City, the Dark Prince, and her own soul, but the entire continent as well.

The Pale Waters is the first installment of a four-book Romance series that fans call a “Futuristic Beauty and the Beast Story with a Seductive, Science Fiction and Fantasy Twist.”

Yes, I’ve read all four of them. And yes, you should, too. Pick up your copy!
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Jan 312013

I have more than enough to read. I really do.

So what was I doing in the library, letting my eye get caught by a book called Heavy Metal and You?

Well, trying to avoid exactly that problem, to be honest. I’ve still got books other authors have sent me, I started a book when I was between reviews for The World’s Toughest Book Critics that I’ve yet to finish, and TWTBC must like me enough that I got this current assignment an entire week before the last one was due. In other words: they’re filling my reading time, all by themselves, and all the other books around here continue to lie in wait for me.

But… how do you walk away from a book called Heavy Metal and You? Especially when a line in the acknowledgements reads: Special thanks to Tom, Jeff, Dave, and Paul, for being Slayer. (However, we won’t stop to ask why founding member Kerry King didn’t get a thanks but Paul Bostaph, who tends to play with them when Dave isn’t, did.)

The author is Christopher Krovatin, and he’s written some other things since Heavy Metal and You, settling into the horror genre after this stint in YA. The publication date is 2005, which feels old by today’s standard of immediacy. And the publisher? Push, a division of Scholastic.

So… go pick up a copy and read along! Leave your comments here or on the West of Mars Fans page over at Facebook.

Jan 062013

If you know me, you know that I’m a huge hockey fan. I even used to be a player and a youth hockey coach.

You probably don’t know, unless you are another of my stalkers, that I love the blog written by the awesome Carmi Levy. He wrote a post about the end of the NHL lockout. But… he called us fans sheep. Said we’d return.

I tried to leave a comment over at his blog, but Blogger blogs that won’t let me sign in with my name and url often eat my comment after they refuse to let me sign in. And yes, like many of you, I have problems with WordPress blogs, too. And then we bloggers wonder why people don’t comment as much anymore!

But we’re talking about Carmi and his accusation that I’m a sheep.

I’m not a sheep. Sorry, love. Please don’t call me names; that’s a form of abuse and I’d rather not have to end our relationship over that.

Yes, I used to be a season ticket holder to an NHL team. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that team is the Penguins. The whys behind my no longer being a season ticket holder don’t belong here on the blog. Suffice it to say that with the lockout over, I’m sad again. Sad I won’t get to see the friends I’d made after so many years of sitting in the same seats. I don’t get invited to their parties in the summer, or their tailgates before games. Sad I won’t get to count 27 steps down to find my seats, and sad I won’t be able to mock-complain about how far away I had to go to find popcorn — and sad I won’t be able to appreciate being close to the bathrooms, even though they’re not as close as they’d been at the old Arena, when I’d been able to dart in and out of the bathroom in the time of a TV timeout.

Going to NHL games was, for me, about more than hockey. Those reasons — and more — were what would have kept me going to games now that the lockout’s ended. Those aren’t reasons that find me labelled a sheep, surely! They are my own reasons, personal and unique to me.

As I said, there’s more. It’s the reason WHY I love hockey and why I started going to games in the first place. It’s not because of a sheep-like reason: I don’t love it because everyone else does, or because I’m told to. I love it because I love the passion, the grit. Because I love being part of a game that sees a goaltender take a skate to the throat, have the gash stitched up on the bench, and go back and pull out the win as the new stitches continue to ooze. Only in hockey, and the toughness that the game has taught me has carried me through the past few years.

I love the sounds of skates on ice, so reminiscent of tearing paper. I love the barks the players make as they talk. Pucks on sticks. The ping of a puck ricocheting off the pipes of the goal. Bodies slamming into boards. Glass swaying.

I love the smells of hockey: the Zamboni, a sheet of freshly cut ice. I love the way my nose involuntarily wrinkles when I catch a whiff of gear in need of an airing out. I love the way that it takes more than one shower to get the stink of my gloves out of my palms.

I love the way a hot summer night feels against freshly-showered skin when I’d step out of the ice arena after a game. I love the way my gear bag would cut into my shoulder, the way it would settle onto its side when I dumped it in my trunk as if it was as tired as I was.

I love how it feels to catapult myself over the boards and land on 1/4-inch of steel blade attached to the bottom of my feet. Yep, that’s all that’s in contact with the ice. One quarter inch. I love the wind in my face as I gain speed, I love the way my legs slide out from under each other as I bend sharply, executing crossovers that, if I lose an edge, will send me sliding into the boards, where I’ll land with a thunk and a bark of my own laughter. I love the view through the bars on my face cage.

So, yeah, if I’m given the chance to go see the best of the best, the professional players who make up the NHL, I’ll take it if I can afford it. Watching them reminds me of what I love about the sport.

If that makes me a sheep, well… so be it. Sheer my wool off come spring and turn me into socks, I suppose.

Just be sure to give those socks to a pro so he can wear them under his skates and let me be part of the game again.

Mar 112011

If you follow me on Facebook (and, at this point in time, you really should), you’d have seen my link to Edittorrent.

I had seen editor Theresa Stevens making a plea on Twitter for submissions for her setting series. So I wrote her a scene with Mitchell in it.

After MUCH tweaking — some based on the comment trail, some not — I give you the full scene.

“The things I do for Kerri,” Mitchell muttered as he reached for the door. He winced as it flung open; weighing nothing, it had slipped out of his fingers. He could hear Ma’s disapproving voice, telling him to be more careful. It was glass, which did break.

With a lunge, he grabbed the door — after it finished banging into the metal chair rail running the distance around the full-length store windows.

He glanced around the sidewalk, but thanks to his security dudes, he had the general vicinity to himself. Good thing; the band hardly needed rumors that The Great Mitchell Voss was beating up unsuspecting storefronts.

Turning around to carefully close the door behind him, he tried to look through it, as if seeing where he’d just come from would teach him something profound. Weird how he could only see himself in a clear glass door.

So far, this trip was turning into a total mind fuck. And then he turned around to look at the interior of the store.

He’d expected it to be more like The Cocoa Bean at home: sterile rows of glass grocery-store cases, the ones with half-dome fronts. Instead of seafood, the Cocoa Bean cases were loaded with truffles and bon-bons and bark and all that shit girls craved.

And the peanut butter cups. The ones Kerri went so bonkers for, the ones he’d been on a quest for in practically every city he’d been in since she’d discovered the handmade ones at the Cocoa Bean.

If this place had peanut butter cups, they weren’t going to be easy to find. There weren’t any of those cases he’d anticipated seeing. Nope. The place was full of tables. Round ones that’d seat two in a restaurant. Each had been covered by a colored tablecloth so bright, he wanted his sunglasses, and each had been stacked with various forms of chocolate. Every table had a theme and a flower pot set on a pedestal — every bit as gaudy as the damn tablecloths — holding a hard-to-read, hand-lettered sign. In colors that complimented the tablecloths.

He groaned. Deciphering what was what would take all day. He only had an hour, and that included time to get back to wherever it was they were playing that night.

“Can I help you?” A woman practically bounced from a hidden spot in the store. Her dyed black hair made a great contrast with everything else in the place; it was the only soothing thing he’d seen yet. Not even the brown of the chocolate managed to produce that effect.

Mitchell bit back a smile. He’d have never noticed something like that before he’d found his artist wife. “I need peanut butter cups,” he said.

The woman, dressed in a bright green blouse and white pants that positively glowed, beamed, revealing teeth so blinding, Mitchell’s hand reached for his sunglasses all on their own. He sighed in relief.

If the woman was phased, she didn’t show it. “Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white? Organic? Shade grown? Fair harvested? Free range?”

“Free range?” he repeated, wanting to ask how fucking stupid she thought he was. He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to answer. “I know. It’s a joke. Where are the dark and milk? And do you have samples? She’s particular.”

“Oh, for a particular lady?” The woman actually batted her eyelashes at him.

“Yes.” He thought about turning to go, about leaving. After all, this wild goose chase was something Kerri didn’t even know he was going on. She thought he’d headed out early to give an interview, a last-minute addition to an afternoon of making nice to the press before a concert promoter-baked dinner.

“Well, then, only the best for your lady,” the woman said, leaning close.

Mitchell forced a simpering smile. He’d seen this sort of flirtation too many times — and that was just in getting from the hotel room to the car that’d been waiting for him. “Yes,” he said. “Only the best for my wife.”

The woman pretended to draw back, as if his words had stung. But she moved a little bit faster, producing peanut butter cups from who-knew-where and slicing them in half for him to taste and standing silently as he took a bite of each, all the wind out of her sails.

Either it was inevitable or a total shock, but the cups were good. Damn good. The peanut butter was perfect — peanutty, smooth, melt-on-your-tongue. The milk chocolate was a bit too milky for him, but the dark was bitter yet round. They were so good, he felt bad about standing there like a rude-assed rock star with his sunglasses on.

He didn’t take them off.

He bought a dozen of the dark chocolate cups and was more careful with the glass door as he left. “The things I do for Kerri,” he muttered to Tony, who’d been pressed into action, keeping a few girls from storming the store.

The guard kept the fan girls at bay as Mitchell slid into the car and headed off to meet his wife, peanut butter cups in hand. He couldn’t wait to tell her about the store; she’d love the place. Probably even want to come back and see it for herself.

Just so she left him behind.

It’d be a bonus if she left the chocolate, too.

He smiled as the driver headed for the arena. Yeah. Like he’d done this only for Kerri.

If you’re visiting as part of Sample Sunday, welcome and please leave a comment. I’ll return your visit. Mitchell is a character featured in both Demo Tapes anthologies, as well as in Trevor’s Song. This moment in time parallels Trevor’s Song but doesn’t intersect or spoil the novel. Go here for all the buy links you could possibly need.