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Revisiting a Thing

So, this is me bringing up something that bugs me with a lot of romance novels and resulted in my burning out on them pretty hard.  The thing in question is of course, the alpha male lead, the guy whose chest thumping bravado and sheer force of will sweep the heroine off her feet and on and on.  He shows up a lot and, more often than not, could easily be another book’s pushy asshole who won’t leave the female lead alone, that’s a problem.

I focused on this a bit in my review of Alpha Instinct, with Connor disregarding Ana’s requests that he let the mundane police deal with a problem rather than going after it himself.  In this case it’s played as “oh he’s so protective of her, he just can’t stand for them to go unpunished” and to set up a later book, when honestly it would have been better for the pack in the long run if they had let the cops deal with it.  He seriously murdered two dudes in cold blood for having attempting to hurt “his” woman, that’s taking taking charge way too far.

On the other hand Blood and Bullets shows us what happens when the alpha male is moved from the romance novel to heading an urban fantasy novel.  The result isn’t bad so much as boring and repetitive.  Chalk isn’t a character who should be boring, but his being an alpha male was focused on more than his actually doing anything to his detriment.  As a concept, Chalk is kind of over played but also kind of awesome, he’s the Punisher but against the things that go bump in the night.

So, essentially, my problem isn’t so much with the character type as with how far writers take it any more and how prevalent it is.  Like, if I only saw one of these guys for every third or fourth romance novel, that would be great.  Seeing more romance novels with a variety of male leads would be amazing, if more than a little unlikely.  I want to see guys who’re sensitive, guys who’re there for the female lead when the standard romance novel jerk ex breaks her heart, and guys who’re assholes to everyone but the female lead and admit it.  Let’s get some more variety going here.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it lovelies? Things have gotten crazier at work, so I’ve been away from things more often than not and, again, I’m making a “no promises” stab at coming back to the blog and my reviews. To kick that off, I’ve got a guest post for you from the author of Iron Shinto regarding her writing and her experiences with metaphysics and how the two connect.

How has your experience with the metaphysical affected your writing?
When I was five, I was visited by a vision. I’ll never forget it, I was running down the stairs and the entity, a girl with dark hair, stopped me in my tracks. The spirit said that I would go through a deeply challenging time in my life, but would resurface, later in life, with unimaginable joy and fulfillment. That vision stayed with me. In middle school, I would sit quietly at my desk adding up the years to figure out exactly when my life would turn around.

And then I forgot. I got busy, my work and the stress of family life took over and I was completely overwhelmed and in desperate need of a vacation. My husband, daughter and I decided to go to Hawaii.

When the plane landed in Honolulu, I remember feeling the difference in the atmosphere as I disembarked. The air made me somehow, remember that there was a part of me that knew…something…what was it?

Never mind, I was in Hawaii it was time to see the sights! So, I sped off to see Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and then headed home for an afternoon nap before an evening luau. As I drifted toward sleep, I heard my name being called. In my mind’s eye, I saw a beautiful young woman with dark hair, who said her name was Moaahuulikkiaaakea’o Haanaapeekuluueehuehakipuunahe’e—Moa for short.

And then I remembered.

Forgetfulness can feel like holding a beach ball underwater. The ongoing effort can be draining over time and when the memory surfaces it brings with it, a tremendous relief.

When I write from this “remembering” place, I find I am relaxed and open, which is always a great place from which to write.

Tell us about your writing process.
Every day is different. Sometimes words pour out faster than I can write or when I’m not near a computer so I have to grab a grocery receipt and quickly squeeze in all the juiciness that comes forth. Other times, I space out the writing and sit in a busy cafe listening to snippets of stranger’s conversations.

One thing is consistent. I do not judge myself, my writing or my process. If I do, I stop and give myself time to let that go. Then I begin again and pick up where I left off.
The stories come in, in waves of loveliness, or shards of anger, or slippery plots that I have to chase around and around to find my path. Whatever my course, I stick with it, I can edit later and I only edit after I let it all out–every last bit.

After I’ve done all of the above, I write a loose outline. It doesn’t include numbers and I’m the only one who knows what it means. Parts are in my head, parts are on receipts, tucked in the depths of my purse or in my computer, labeled with the story, date and version.

For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes both! My favorite part of writing is having a conversation with my characters. In fact, early in the process of writing “Iron Shinto,” I hit a wall with my main character, Mina. My incredibly wise editor, Rebecca Gummere, suggested I chat with her. That event broke open the story in a way I never could have created, had I done it any other way.

Here’s what I did:
I wrote out the questions ahead of time and made an appointment with my character, just as I would with anyone I know. Then, when it came time, I sat in a private place and had a visit with Mina.

I asked the questions and waited for the answers. Sometimes they came in right away, other times I had to relax and let the answer come. A few times, I had to stop and say, “How can I tell if I’m making this all up?” and my answer was simple, “I can’t.”
But, as I chronicled my conversation, made note of all the directions, nuances, twists or straight-always, I noticed that I felt “in the flow.” I kept these conversations up and would even have the occasional disagreement with Mina.

In the end, I knew I had to let the self-editing, judging and critic go and allow my character to tell me about her journey.

What advice would you give other writers?
Persistence is everything. When you feel low, do a search on how many times famous writers were rejected. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle was rejected 29 times before it was published. Or read inspirational books by authors who have weathered the storm, “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott is a good one.

How did you decide how to publish your books?
With the Moa Series, I had no doubt that I wanted to publish these books. I needed to have complete control over the layout (to highlight the incredible illustrations by Sydney Shiu), the cover as well as the marketing and distribution. Best of all, I get all the royalties and no one owns the rights to my book, but me. Things have gone better than I could have possibly imagined!

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Books and book publishing are alive and well! However, the way they will be purchased, read and distributed is a whole different story.

Whatever changes occur in the publishing world and new technologies that pop up, I know I will continue to write and read and I am absolutely others will too.



About Tricia Stewart Shiu
Tricia Stewart Shiu is an award-winning screenwriter, author and playwright, but her passion lies in creating mystical stories. Her latest series, The Moa Books, which includes “Moa,” “The Statue of Ku” and “The Iron Shinto,” were, by far, her favorite to write.

Iron Shinto (ISBN: 978-0-9840020-8-5, 2013 Human Being Publishing, 208 Pages, Available on Amazon in Paperback, $12.95 and for $6.99 on Kindle 978-0-9840020-6-1 or on the author’s website

Media Contact: For a review copy of Iron Shinto, or to schedule an interview with Tricia Stewart Shiu, please contact Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications Book Marketing, 734-667-2090, Cell: 248-705-2214 or or

Alright guys, here’s the guest post I promised you all yesterday. Here’s Krista Holle on her latest book, The Wind Whisperer, enjoy!”

We can all relate to contemporary fiction and this can be either good or bad. We all know what it’s like to ride a roller coaster, struggle through an algebra exam, or eat a greasy hamburger from McDonalds. While reading contemporary fiction, we understand the modern lingo and the reasons behind people’s behavior. To some people a contemporary setting can be “comfort food”, but for others the day to day life can be a bit mundane. I personally have always been more attracted to reading a historical setting.
Life a person doesn’t usually experience is more of an adventure to me. I would love to safely experience life on the Titanic or break free from the tower of London. I’ve yet to receive training from a Renaissance painter or swing from a vine in Africa. What I wouldn’t give to swim with the selkies in the blue waters off Scotland or experience life as a 13 year-old Bali bride. Historical fiction writers sweep you away to expected places in time!
While living on land once owned by Pocahontas, I was inspired by the natives that once roamed the forests around my home. In The Wind Whisperer, fifteen-year-old Anaii is unlike the other girls from her village. She alone can hear the constant whisperings of the wind spirits and can “see” when the enemy tribe is getting ready to attack. Because of this, Anaii is scorned by the other women and is a protected commodity to her father the chief. But getting out from her father’s nose might not be easy, especially after Anaii falls in love with an enemy warrior.
In The Wind Whisperer, the reader will experience the crowded life of a bark longhouse, and taste the syrupy stew that’s been simmering over the fire for days. They will feel the damp moss between their toes and experience a good old-fashioned “striping”—a punishment they will not soon forget. The reader may even fall in love (more than once) and have to make the excruciating decision between their soul-mate and their best friend. It’s life in primitive Virginia and far away from most people’s comfort zone. We can all relate to contemporary fiction, but as for me, I say bring the history on.

I rise again from the ashes of obscurity and the internets to admit that I haven’t had much happening lately. I should have a ton of reviews ready to go in early February, but that doesn’t help us now.

The good news is that I’ve got a guest post for you that’s going to be up tomorrow after work from indie author Krista Holle. Her bio has this to say about her:

Krista Holle is an award winning author who stepped up her writing after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. It occurred to Krista that there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books filled with stories about true love—not just vampires. When Krista is not writing, she loves to collect seashells, watch movies, and eat obscene amounts of pizza. Krista currently resides in Montpelier, Virginia with her husband, four daughters and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment to the family’s socks.

Look forward to it lovelies and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

December Status Update

So, I’ve gotten myself in a bit of a spot. Dealing with problems that I’ve dug myself into yet again is starting to get old, so I’m needing to take the time to fix it and make sure it stays fixed.

That said, I’m not giving up on all of this yet and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a co-blogger for the site. So that’s a thing I’m looking for, anyone have any ideas for content I can post between now and the summer? I want to be clear, I’m not asking for people to give me content but I am looking for ideas and asking you guys what you want to see when I don’t have a review for you. Random DC rants can only carry me so far.

Going to be doing family holiday stuff for the next week or so, so I won’t have any posts going up then but I may have something written to post after the holidays.

DC Rambling

I’ve been thinking since I posted the thing about DC nixing the Kate Kane/Maggie Sawyer wedding, but one of the things I really want to see more of is the two of them dealing with their relationship problems. Like, Maggie obviously had a thing about Kate having lied to her for their entire relationship by hiding that she is Batwoman. We’ve seen all of two scenes dealing with that and while both ended up with Kate sort of cowed, I don’t know that they’ve really dealt with stuff. I want to see an actual talk about this stuff rather than the “hey, as long as you don’t hurt my daughter or cheat on me” thing that we got before the second proposal. I want to see them deal with relationship stuff, be there for each other and react to not being able to be there for each other, both knowing that the other is doing seriously dangerous stuff.

Seeing them take a break from their relationship, not break up exactly but take a pause to sort things out apart, could be great especially with the “somehow Kate and Bruce fought and neither is dead or permanently injured” thing from Williams and Blackman’s arc going unfinished. I want to see the fall out if Toby or Renee show back up, or if Jamie doesn’t like Kate at all.

Plus, I honestly think that Kate Kane has serious amounts of growing up to do relationship wise. It’s like, they could work and they could work well, but Maggie seems like she’s the one making all the compromises for it to happen. Kate needs to meet her in the middle more. Less stunty “I did this to you, so I have to experience it myself so I understand just how bad it was” stuff, because another blogger was right, that could get taken to scary extremes really easily, and more “I know I did this and I can’t understand how it effected you, but what can I do to start making it better?” , more talking about problems.

I also want to see the inner personal fallout from the unfinished arc, because that really would have changed everything.

So, sign off if you’re out there and tell me what you think.

Holiday Kindle Fire Giveaway


Just in time for the HOLIDAYS – Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)



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1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7″ HDX (US Only – $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

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Ends 12/18/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Talking to Space

So, related to my last post, and I officially did not manage to win at NaNoWriMo, what all kinds of heroes and heroines really get you guys into a book?

Me, I’m big on trickster hero types who tend to more talk their way around the problem until they have a way to beat it.  Kitty Norville is a good example of this kind of hero I think, sure she is a werewolf but she tends to find herself facing things that would tear her apart regardless if she wasn’t clever enough to see them coming.  She talks her way out of more fights than she jumps into.  That said, I’m also a fan of the more action oriented detective-y version of the trickster,  characters like Jane Rizzoli or the second Question.  The characters who have to put everything together and figure out who did the thing, but then get to go bust the badguy’s heads.

I think that part of the reason I like those sorts of characters over straight up action hero types or standard romance novel heroes comes down to the side characters they go home to at the end of the adventure.  Kitty has her husband and her pack, Rizzoli has her family, and Renee had Aristotle and Huntress.  It humanizes the characters I think, makes them more than just their spot in the plot and less than some perfect ideal of the character type.  I know that the other two types I mentioned have family and friends as well, but I’ve seldom seen them carried on well.  An action hero has family but they get shuffled off to the side for him to be McAwesome or killed off to give him motive.  Romance leads, again, tend to either have very little family so that they don’t get in the way, or their family gets trotted out to show how much of a great person they are and isn’t the other lead lucky to have them.  It just seems kind of off to me, I mean, it fits the genre but maybe that’s because it’s become so much of a convention of the genre that I’ve come to expect it.

So, that was my two cents, what do you guys think?  What makes a good hero type and what gets old quickly?

And this would be that NaNoWriMo post I mentioned way back when.  I admit I’m not going to make it this year, I’ve only got about a thousand words and a plot outline, but it’s more than I’ve managed any year before now.  I may even manage to get up to five thousand words by the end of next week, get a really good first few chapters and some character introduction stuff going on.  Maybe dip into the actual plot.

On the end of why I haven’t been NaNoWriMo-ing, reasons of choices and insane classes and a bricked computer, it goes on and on.  Mostly excuses.

But here’s where the post has a point dear readers.  I want to know about you guys’ experiences with NaNoWriMo, your successes and failures and what divided the two.  Sound off in the comments.

More posts coming soon.

The Meme Plague

Someone said my name three times, drawing me back from where ever I’d dissapeared to.  So in the immortal word of Beetlejuice, it’s show time!
Angie Smibert’s latest distopian novel, The Meme Plague, takes up shortly after The Forgetting Curve with our intrepid team of heroes still scrambling to find a way to dodge the TFC chips and spread untampered information to the rest of the world.  The TFC is also stepping up its game as well though with the new chips’ ability to remove and add memories without anyone being the wiser.  It’s a race to see if normal people can stand in the face of a monster they set loose.

So, is it any good?  I’m actually kind of on the fence about this one.  Memento Nora had me excited about a smart YA distopian novel and was enjoyable for its tension and well written side characters.  The Forgetting Curve did a great job of introducing the next step in the TFC threat, interesting new characters, and built on everything that came before.  This one kind of petered out for me.  While it was great to see that the adults are also preparing for what happens next, and in more baseline sensible ways than the teen heroes are, it also felt like the second half of The Forgetting Curve being published as a separate book.  I was really excited reading the blurb for this to be Micah’s book, but ultimately he got shuffled off to one of the many side stories while everyone else chased their story threads.
That said, I can’t knock The Meme Plague.  It does a good job of upping the ante, making the problems that our teen aged heroes have been dealing with bigger by showing their parents and adult neighbors also preparing for them.  It adds a couple of new levels to the mystery of just how the TFC got as huge as it is and what happened to other people who have tried to fight it, and it does an amazing job showing the effects of their new chip and how that stacks the deck even more against regular people.  One last little thing that got me was all of the Matrix refferences, it was kind of cool at first but became almost overly self refferential pretty quickly.
So, final thoughts time, while I really enjoyed The Meme Plague it is probably my least favorite of the three books.  I’d really like to see Smibert take a little more time with developing some of the characters that she’s introduced. I’m entirely confidant that she will, and that the next book will go deeper down the rabbit hole.  I’m giving The Meme Plague a three out of five.

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