Archive for August, 2012


I am so ready for the post-apocalyptic hostile dystopian world that’s coming.

Why, you may ask?  Well, I know some martial arts and badass self-defense techniques.  But more important, I know how to use a bow and arrow and a sword (okay, epee fencing, which is close enough).  And apparently sword-fighting and archery are prime skills that I’ll need to survive when our power grids fail or I have to hunt to eat or aliens invade earth.

At least that’s the message some writers are putting out there.

See, this last week I did more archery target shooting at the range/ warehouse where I can rent the equipment (I can’t afford just yet the expensive bow I’d like, let alone the arrows and related stuff).  That’s where a couple (superb) archers started chatting with me, and they mentioned how the number of kids now enrolled for archery lessons in that place has increased maybe tenfold in the last six months.  I’ve also noticed more kids and some adults are signing up for classes at the fencing center.

So why are people suddenly going crazy for old-fashioned weapons?

Well, first there were the Hunger Games books and then the movie.  Then we saw the sweet, non-dystopian Brave.  There’s the bow-wielding Hawkeye in The Avengers.  And if you’ve seen the TV ads, at least two new upcoming shows, Revolution and Arrow, will also show us why bows and swords will soon be the weapons of choice.

Who knew that writers of novels and comic books and screenplays and TV scripts could have so much power? I mean, they’re really inspiring a couple hot new trends.

I also think swords and bows are getting popular again because they’re REAL. Remember the Star Wars and other sci-fi crazes?  For a little while, pretend laser fighting was hot among kids.  Or geeks like the kind you see on Big Bang Theory.  But it had to be pretend because the “laser” swords were foam or plastic.

Bows and swords, in contrast, are real.

So like I said, I’m ready for a post-apocalyptic world.  Or an alien invasion.  Or whatever other threat writers are gonna throw at me.

Are you ready too?

I am so happy to be part of Ciara Knight’s Release Day Blitz for her new book, Weighted.

As you may know,  Ciara is a sweetheart who also happens to be a  popular and prolific writer.  I’ve read her lovely YA novella, Love’s Long Shadow, which I highly recommend, while her YA novel The Curse of Gremdon is on the to-read stack beside my bed.  Now, of course, Weighted (a “Prequel Novelette”) will be joining them.

Here are a few facts about the lady…

Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books.  Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild.  Also, Book I, Rise From Darkness, from her debut young adult Battle For Souls series, secured glowing reviews and won July Book of the Month from Long and Short Reviews.
Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel.  She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Ciara is extremely sociable so please feel free to connect with her at her blog, website, Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook.

And here, of course, is the blurb for Weighted

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun.  I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation.  My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift.  A gift Ikeep hidden even from myself.  It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover.  Will I have the strength to keep the secret?  I’ll know the answer soon.  If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Now how can you possibly resist a story like that?

Of course I’ve read the first chapter for Weighted and it’s terrific.  You can find it HERE.

Thank you, Ciara, for giving us another great read.

 

Upcoming books in The Neumarian Chronicles:

Escapement (Book I) – Early 2013
Pendulum (Book II) – Mid 2013
Balance (Book III) – Early 2014

Other books by Cara Knight:
Battle for Souls Series
Rise From Darkness
Fall From Grace
Ascension of Evil – Coming in October

 

So here’s a weird observation I just made today…

Ever notice how action heroes never seem to have any pets?

The villains they fight might have them. Heck, some villains have animals they adore.  But the heroes?  They’re pretty much all pet-less loners who are so preoccupied with saving the world they can’t be relied on to feed a feral cat.

The only exception I could think of was Lara Croft, who has a black horse she gallops around on while practicing target shooting.  But do we see her feeding the horse, affectionately grooming it, actually taking care of the animal?  Nope.  Seems a servant does that for her.

Indiana Jones doesn’t have so much as a bowl of goldfish.  But a villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark had a pet monkey that doubled as a spy.

Of course James Bond, the ultimate commitment-phobe, doesn’t have a pet.  I doubt that he has a plant.  But one of his worst adversaries was forever petting and holding a fluffy white kitty and also enjoyed looking after man-eating piranhas.  Another villain had people-killing dogs, but hey – at least he HAD dogs.

What about Kate Beckinsale or Mila Jojovich?  I don’t recall any puppies frolicking around them.  Nikita?  They’d get pet hair all over her black leather outfits.

What about Iron Man or the other Avengers?  Too busy being manly to cuddle with a pooch?

Still I myself have to admit I’m not much better because when I created Layla Daltry I didn’t even think to give her a pet.  On some subconscious level I must’ve know she couldn’t handle one because she travels so much.

Then again, while rambling on like this I just now remembered there’s ONE famous action hero who is often surrounded by animals and who has a pet of his own…

Harry Potter.

How brilliant was J.K. Rowling to create a world where animals are characters too?  Where pets are part of the story and part of the lives of the characters.  Just as in real life.  Funny how some YA books with magical themes can get this right.

Anyway, it’s late and I’ve got to get to bed.  Here’s hoping my cat doesn’t throw up on my bed tonight.  Or on the floor between my bed and the bathroom where I might walk barefoot in the middle of the night.  Oh well.  I still love my pain-in-the-butt kitty.  Even if she doesn’t make me feel like an action hero.

 

I gotta confess, lately I’ve been letting some of my action hero workouts slide.

But a couple things going on in the publishing/ writing world have inspired me to refocus my exercise habits away from just maintenance and back into some more kickass martial arts workouts.

BTW, recently I posted here about wanting to lose a few pounds that had snuck up on me.  I kinda dieted for a couple weeks, then just cut back on junk food and sugar (I only have so much discipline, then I kinda slide).  Still, I’ve managed to loose about five pounds, which means my clothes are fitting better.  A few more pounds and I should be good.

But back to publishing and writing.

Some writers are up in arms because the publisher Henry Holt announced that award-winning Irish writer John Banville will resurrect the great Raymond Chandler’s noir detective Philip Marlowe in a new, upcoming novel.

Now as y’all know, publishers and authors have long worked at resurrecting popular characters created by now dead writers, from Sherlock Holmes (okay, so The Seven Percent Solution did work) to Scarlett O’Hara.  My own reaction to this news was captured perfectly by Malcolm Jones in an article in the Daily Beast.  He called Banville’s Marlowe plan a “shoddy idea… doomed from the outset.”

…the sequel racket encourages laziness among publishers.  Instead of teasing out the number of 007 titles with inferior imitations, they could be spending that energy cultivating or at least searching for a great, undiscovered crime novelist or spy writer.”

TRUE! SO VERY TRUE!

Publishers could also be bringing back into print now neglected books or series that would attract a whole new generation of readers.  In this field, I nominate Peter O’Donnell’s novels about Modesty Blaise.  It’s great that the graphic novels are being published, but unfortunately a few of the (regular) novels are out of print, which has made me scramble to buy them (some with funky 1970’s covers) while there are a few inexpensive copies to be had from used book sellers.  Sure, Modesty Blaise was well known in Britain and perhaps never caught on here in the U.S., but that’s our loss.  After all, even serious British literary writers like Kingsley Amis praised O’Donnell’s series.

Anyway, going back to how I began this post, I can tell you that Modesty’s exploits have inspired me to reintroduce martial arts exercises to my workout.  So it’s appropriate for me to end this post with advice Modesty gives a friend in The Impossible Virgin.

I hope you’ll never face the situation again, but if you do, then never, never, never try to kick a gun or knife out of anyone’s hand. Never. It’s fine on the movies… But it’s not good for real. The hand is a very small, very mobile target. It can move a few inches much faster than your foot can move through a four-foot arc… If you want a general rule, then you go for the man, not the weapon, and you aim to put him out of action fast.”

Any book that begins with a teenager saying, “Last night, I died for the third time this week,” gets my attention.  But I was really hooked when this teenager ponders his physics class lesson by combining Schrodinger’s Cat with speculations about God being forced to use angels to travel between dimensions because of the quantum laws he created, and the effects of “the one consciousness out there that we all happen to share.”

Slipstream is an exciting science fiction adventure story that dares to expand the genre with inspirations from mythology, theology, horror, a touch of Arthurian legends, and a technological twist to Carl Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious.

It begins with an orphaned teenager, Jordan Pendragon, who lives with his sister in Utah.  He’s a good student and a superb hockey player, but by the end of the first chapter his life is forever changed: a car accident puts him in a coma, and when he emerges from it he sees a mysterious Englishman invisible to everyone else.  He also discovers that he can “slipstream” himself in space-time.  When another “unreal” and much more threatening man trespasses into Jordan’s life, the story takes off.  Jordan and his sister Kathy are about to cross from Earth into the parallel world of Avalon.

Avalon and Earth are similar worlds that occupy the same space in two different dimensions,” Offut explains.  The destruction of Avalon began with shock waves from the first atomic blast in 1945 Earth.  The society that rises from the ashes is Earth-like and recognizable, but also dystopian, futuristic, and even more violent and ruthless.  (My own favorite touch: the exorbitant cost of medical care and the cold-hearted means an Avalon hospital will use to collect on a debt.) In this Brave New World there are vampires, succubi, crystal spiders, ghost robots and grotesque monsters, all of them the results of engineering and biologic augmentation.  There is the obsession with youth and the desperate, deadly pursuit of a life force that can be drained from the young and sold to the highest bidder – a fact that makes Jordan, with his precious “Green Life,” a prime target.  There is, most important of all, a human-invented God in the form of an A.I. that makes this society run.

Michael Offut clearly has the scientific knowledge and vision to create a fascinating and complicated world that is spinning out of control and “phasing together” with Earth.  When Jordan discovers that he is the chosen hero (or as I’d call him, the messiah) who must save Avalon, he infiltrates it by joining one of its professional hockey teams (yes, there’s some humor in this, and it works). Because he can control the “slipstream” of time and space when he’s out on the ice, he becomes a sports star, but in this dangerous world that’s not always a good thing.  In his corner is his sister, who proves to be strong and courageous and doesn’t hesitate to put on a “killsuit” to go into battle.  After all, they’re orphans who have long since learned to be tough and self-reliant. Several intriguing Avalon characters plot and fight with them, including the mysterious Englishman who becomes a romantic figure to Jordan.  But can Jordan trust him?

Slipstream is a wonderful first book in a trilogy, which is good news to me because Michael has created growing and changing characters I want to follow.  He has also written a thrilling storyline that’s too good to be confined to a single volume, and he isn’t afraid to ask questions about the “gods” we create to fulfill our needs, and the dark side of these gods when we make them in our image.  Avalon is a cautionary tale of what Earth will become like if we lose our souls and humanity. 

If you enjoy not only excellent science fiction but a rattling good yarn in any genre, you’ll want to read Slipstream.