Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cultural Mash-ups

They don't call America the Great Melting Pot for nothing.  Our culture is a hodgepodge.  Heck, my family seriously hodged the podge.  My dad's family is primarily German; Mom's is Irish.  I've got cousins on both sides who have Japanese ancestry.  Then there's cousins from Costa Rica and cousins who vacationed next to the Kennedys.  Most of my paternal grandfather's neighbors were Amish. Then there's me, a neo-pagan, who's married to a Methodist.  My Luthern uncle performed the ceremony.

So I have a tendency to write characters from all over. In fact, one of my friends accused me of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink after reading the holiday scene in Blood Magick.  Of course, this is the same friend with an Anglo father, a Mexican-American mother, and a Chinese-American husband.

So, readers, I'm curious.  Does mixing cultures in books bother you?  Why or why not?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turning Scars into Art

I stumbled across this article in The Seattle Times (I think SF writer Jay Lake had the link to it), and nearly a month later I still can't get it out of mind.  Tattoo artist Roni Falgout has made a name for herself by creating art out of mastectomy scars.

Maybe it hits close to home because one of my great-grandmothers lost all of her siblings, including her brother, to breast cancer.  (Yes, folks, guys can get it too!)  Nearly ten years ago, I had my first lumpectomy (which thank the Goddess turned out to be nothing).  A good friend lost her mother to this disease, long before my friend graduated from college, much less walked down the aisle or gave birth to her darling daughter.

We talk about breast cancer, only it's in terms of raising money for research.  We rarely talk about the human cost of the disease.  When my husband went through chemotherapy, we met a woman named Mary who was about the same age.  Mary endured a double mastectomy and chemo in the hopes of seeing her girls grow up.  As Mary remarked one to me one time, she only cried twice: once when she saw her post-surgical scars and once when her eyelashes fell out from the poison the doctor injected into her body once a week.

Sixteen years and several thousand miles later, I'd like to think Mary is attending her youngest daughter's college graduation.  And maybe, underneath her proper cotton blouse, she has some of Roni's flowers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fangirl SQUEE

I admit I'm a major geek when it comes to Underworld.  Such a geek, I squealed with glee when I learned Underworld: Awakening is coming out in a few months.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Mess With Christie Craig

Yeehaw!  My friend Christie Craig has another thigh-slapping mystery out!  Don't Mess with Texas has scary thrills, steamy passion, and a coffin-lovin' bulldog named Budweiser.

Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Monday, August 22, 2011

Angry Birds

This last weekend was Tax-Free Weekend here in Texas.  For those outside of the Lone Star state, there's one weekend in August where the state doesn't collect sales tax on clothing and school supplies, officially to help strapped and stressed parents.

For my Day Job, I work at a card and gift shop at one of the local malls.  Tax-Free Weekend usually means Dead-as-a-Doornail Weekend because, well, we're not exactly a kid-focused business.  Not to mention, the last thing frazzled parents are thinking about the weekend before school starts is birthday cards and Precious Moment figurines.

This weekend was the exception. We had received a shipment of plush Angry Birds.

I've never played Angry Birds, so a nineteen-year-old co-worker had to explain the game to me.  Frankly, if someone slingshotted me at pigs, I'd be pissed too.

Anyway, we not only made sales goal on Tax-Free Weekend, we went way beyond goal thanks to parents bribing their kids into good behavior.

So to all the kids, thanks for not giving your parents grief and netting me my bonus for the month.

And to the Angry Birds, I promise never to launch you at pigs.  I've seen the Hitchcock movie.  Your rage ain't pretty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Husband Stole My Knidle

A couple of weeks ago, I did a favor for my friend Nina Cordoba.  Apparently, it was such a good favor that she asked, "Do you want a Kindle?  We have an extra one."

Well, duh!

But thinking I'd misunderstood, I asked how much she wanted for it.  Nope, no mistake.  She was giving it to me.  (The reason for having an EXTRA Kindle in the first place involves very long story about her tech-geek, rock-god husband.  I won't bore you with Mr. Cordoba's, um, fetishes.)  A Kindle.  In freakin' mint condition!

Unfortunately, my own DH has similar, um, fetishes in regards to tech toys.  My ownership of the Kindle lasted all of five seconds.  Long enough for me to pull the device out of my bag and said, "Wanna see my new Kindle?"

Twenty seconds later, DH has the Kindle registered in his name.  Then he assures me that I "can use it whenever I want."

Yeah, right.

I gave him twenty bucks for an Amazon card and said, "Consider this your birthday present."

Think I won't get revenge?  I bought a Barbie Collectibles Captain Jack Sparrow doll yesterday.  DH can't say a thing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Movie Mania Monday

Sorry, folks!  No movie reviews this weekend.

After seeing previews, DH and I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be a little too intense for GK.  And the kid had no interest in seeing Conan. So we ended up watching The Big Bang Theory most of the weekend. (It's Texas and it's a hundred freakin' degrees. Not even the critters want to be outside right now.)

If I can get the book I'm currently formatting done by Wednesday (unfortunately it's freelance project, not my book), I'll head over to the theater by myself for a little ape action.  Besides, I'm a sucker for John Lithgow no matter what movie he's in.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard at Work

Hope y'all are enjoying the last free days of summer!  Speaking of which, here's a sneak peek at Seasons of Magick: Summer!

Chapter 1

Jamal Washington watched the crowd milling in front of the Wong's restaurant across the street. Most of the kids he recognized from the neighborhood or high school. Most of them were trouble only when teachers and parents weren’t looking. Most of them were friends of Mark Li’s.

He looked over his shoulder. “We should call the cops, Rain.”

At the ancient wood counter, Rain Bean looked up from her paperwork. Her eyes narrowed when she caught sight of the mob. “What’s going on over there?”

Jamal blinked in surprise. The owner of Morrigan’s Cauldron was usually plugged into the Greenwich Village gossip network. “You didn’t hear?”

She turned her sharp gaze on him.

He shrugged. “Shan’s ex-boyfriend Mark hung himself last night.”

A silver eyebrow arched. “Really?”

He didn’t say anything. No reason to since Rain’s freaky ESP probably already knew he was involved. Sort of.

Her silver eyebrows knitted a frown. “Did you tie the knot on the rope?”

His eyes widened. “Shit, no!”

A wicked smile lit her face. “Then quit feeling guilty. Mark Li was a bully and a—”

Someone banged on the delivery door of the store. Rain inclined her head toward the back. “Go let Shan in.” She resumed staring at the crowd.

A thread of unease wiggled its way up his spine. It wasn’t that Rain knew things. He’d learned from the time he could walk that he couldn’t get away with anything around her. No, it was the anger sparking in Rain’s eyes. It took a lot to piss off the old woman.

Shan had begged him not to tell anyone about what Mark did to her. And he hadn’t. At least, not to anyone who didn’t already know. He had the sinking feeling Rain had just pulled the truth from his brain.

Jamal jogged to the back door and yanked it open. A gust of hot air boiled into the already stifling storage room. Shan stood there, shivering despite the late July temperatures. He squelched the urge to wrap his arm around her.

She gave him a tentative smile. “I was supposed to work today. My grandmother called while I was still on the bus and said to come here instead.”

He waved her in, not trusting his tongue. Damn, she looked fine despite the red rimming her amber eyes.

Anger seeped through his blood at the sight of her puffy skin and forced words into his mouth. “Please tell me you’re not crying for that asshat.”

She shook her head. The motion sent her high ponytail swinging. Glossy, black hair he wanted to run his fingers through.

Her throat bobbed. “Mark’s parents called mine. They said some awful things. Said it was my fault.”

God, how he wanted to hug her. Sooth away her pain. She was too beautiful, too sweet for this kind of shit. “It’s not.”

She jumped at the sharpness in his voice.

More rage poured through his nerves. The bastard had definitely done a number on Shan. “Look, you did the right thing breaking up with him. I still think you should have pressed charges.”

She glanced around, obviously checking for the older members of the staff. “He left a message on my voice mail last night. He said he’d get us both. What did you do, Jamal?” Her voice was little more than a hoarse whisper.

He suppressed a snort of disgust. Like the asshat could do anything if he were lying in the city morgue. “Nothing that I shouldn’t have done a long time ago.” Just the memory of Li standing over Shan in the band room drew a circle of rage around his heart.

But he wasn’t stupid enough to land his own butt in jail. Of course, his growth spurt the last year of high school helped. Mark wasn’t such a cocky little fucker when someone towered a good six inches over the bastard.

The look in her eyes became suspicious.

He raised his hands. “I swear, Shan. I didn’t touch him. All I did was tell him to leave you alone.”

The wary expression on her face didn’t go away, but she didn’t press things between them. “What’s going on at the restaurant?”

Again, he shrugged. “Just some of Mark’s toadies trying to cause trouble.”

Shan pushed past him and marched toward the storefront.

Jamal followed, admiring the swing of her hips under her shorts. Pink looked good on her. Always had. Ever since kindergarten.

When they entered the showroom, Rain stood before the huge plate window, peering past the gold lettering that spelled out the name of her store. Her lips moved, but she didn’t say anything.

Anticipation raced along his nerves. He know that look on Rain's face, had seen the same look on his mom's. He didn’t have to wait long. Across the street, the joints on the fire hydrant at the corner cracked. The teens gathered in front of the restaurant stared at it. He imagined the groan of metal on metal freaked them out as much as the bolts on the hydrant twisting without help. Then water exploded from the fixture.

The high-pressure spray nailed Bill Mailer in the face. He stumbled back and tripped over his girlfriend. They both toppled to the concrete sidewalk. The blast of water followed, dousing the rest of the group. Kids scrambled out of the way, but water arched from the top of the hydrant. Shouts and cries filled the street as they tried to evade the steady gush.

Jamal snickered. Served them right for trying to intimidate the Wongs, and Shan in particular. His humor died when he realized where the gush from the hydrant guided the group. They made a beeline for Morrigan's Cauldron. “Rain?”

The water from the hydrant faltered, then sputtered to a stop. Rain blinked. She turned and smiled. “It’ll be all right.”

While he respected the old woman’s peculiar abilities, they were outnumbered. The last thing he wanted was to see these idiots trash her store. He leaned close to Shan and tried to ignore the sweet scent of jasmine in her hair. “Got your cell?”

She nodded in response to his whisper, but her attention remained on the crowd as they crossed the street.

“Get in the back and call 9-1-1.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Movie Mania

Yes!  We made it to see Cowboys & Aliens last night!

First of all, if you want some intellectual discourse movie, well, this ain't it.  C&A is good ole' fashion B-movie pulp fun.  Director Jon Favreau treated the material with the seriousness he's treated all comic book material he's headed (Ironman, anyone?).  But that doesn't mean he and the cast didn't have a good time on the set, but they definitely don't play this campy.

I'll try not to put in spoilers, but if you haven't seen it, then STOP READING NOW!

Okay, you've been warned.

The line from the trailers about good men doing bad things and bad men doing good things was delivered by vetern Clancy Brown (Highlander, Earth-2).  He played totally against his usual type as the town preacher.  I can't say more other than his character was the proverbial hero's mentor.

More depth was given to Harrison Ford's Civil War-vet cattle baron than to Daniel Craig's man-with-no-name stranger.  But the reasoning for The-Man-With-No-Name act totally makes sense in the context of the movie.

The only bad thing I can say was the predictability in some spots.  This could have been the type of adventure story Mark Twain wrote if he had taken more of a sci-fi  bent in the 1880's (or at least more than just A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court), except I'd like to think he would have had a few more surprises.

Overall, I'd give Cowboys & Aliens a solid B+.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Movie Mania Monday

. . . will appear on Tuesday this week.  The family had planned to go see Cowboys & Aliens last night after I got home from work.

My car had other plans.  By the time DH and GK rescued me and everyone and everything was safely home, it was five minutes before the start of the movie.  If we'd been going to the regular theater, it wouldn't have been a problem.

But we'd planned to go to Studio Movie Grill, one of those lovely theaters with real tables and good food and, um, adult beverages. Tripping over someone's feet in the dark is one thing. Tripping and landing in someone's hot wings and beer is another.

So I picked up sandwiches from a local deli, the one next to a bookstore so I could also grab Sherrilyn Kenyon's latest Dark-Hunter novel, Retribution.

So hopefully, tomorrow's blog will be about how good Daniel Craig's butt looks in chaps.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I really, REALLY want to see Cowboys and Aliens this weekend just because it's, well, cowboys, aliens, Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.

But after seeing this delightfully creepy and emotional preview at Captain America last week, I'm very tempted to go see this instead:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

May Neter Bless Your Soul, Miz Leslie

When I opened my e-mail yesterday, the first message held some fantastic personal news.

Then I read the second one.

Leslie Esdaile Banks passed from this plane yesterday morning after a short bout with cancer. She was a marvelous storyteller and a truly kind soul. I had the fortune of meeting her six years ago the Romance Writers of America conference in Reno. She was so sweet and encouraging to a flustered new writer.

She is an inspiration, and I don't think she realized what her words at that time meant to me.

The Liars Club auction planned for this Saturday in her hometown of Philadelphia will still be held since her daughter Helena, a college student, is still dealing with the massive medical bills and now her mother's funeral. If you can't attend the event, please consider donating at the link above.

Thank you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Movie Mania Monday

We took GK to see Captain America for his birthday.  As far as Marvel movies went it was . . .okay.

Chis Evans as Johnny Storm was one of the bright spots of the Fantastic Four movies, and he successfully downshifted for the role of Cap.  Unfortunately the bright spot in this movie was Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Phillips, who definitely did not have enough screen time.

And for the fangirl in me, the guest appearance by the Howling Commandos was a treat, except . . . where the hell was Sgt. Fury!  Seriously, I know Samuel L. Jackson's character couldn't be a ninety-year-old man, but you could have made this movie's Sgt. Fury, Col. Nick's grandpa or something. Geesh!

Yeah, yeah, I know the real U.S. armed forces weren't integrated until after WWII, but you still put Howling Commando Gabe Jones, a black private from the comic book, in the damn movie. I could have dealt with a black Sgt. Fury, and was half expecting it.  Frankly, you dropped a nice mythological connecting ball on this one, movie people.

Overall, the movie watches like the first few issues of the original Captain America series reads with some minor updates.

NOTE: In a interesting switch, the producers debuted the trailer for The Avengers movie at the END of Captain America (so if you've seen it and left before the credits go back and see it again), rather than showing it at the San Diego Comic-Con. I'm hoping the movie folks pull out all the stops on this movie, because frankly Cap isn't interesting to me unless he's butting heads with Ironman.