Last Giveaway!

Okay, that post title is a bit misleading. I’m sure I’ll do another giveaway in the future. But this will be the last one for the ¬†foreseeable future. Starting tomorrow (March 17th) click on the book image below and whoosh¬†on over to the giveaway page. Then¬†enter for a chance to win one of ten signed print copies. I’ll also send some awesome swag with the book!

A Note From Lovelace

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Hi everybody!

My name’s Lovelace (Mother named me after Robert Lovelace from Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson, can you BELIEVE that?! Although, when she first brought me home, I WAS pretty naughty when it came to the cat. Wink, wink!).

Anyway, I’m sneaking onto the computer to have a word with you all. Mother¬†doesn’t know I’m using her¬†computer right now. In fact, as great as she THINKS I am, I’m like a thousand times better. I can do stuff and know stuff she cannot even imagine.

Well, I thought I’d introduce myself and the other furry inhabitants of the Martinez household.

As I said, I’m Lovelace, prince of the palace, Mother’s special fur-baby (or “furby,” as she likes to call us), and her helper in all things magical and written. When she’s writing¬†at her computer (or does any kind of important work), I stay close¬†to give her all my powerful mojo.

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I’m also her emotional support. Mother¬†suffers from something called “depression” and I help her de-stress when she’s having a particularly bad time. Believe me, I’m better than all those nasty pills a lot of¬†people take. For one, I’m super cute with soft, curly hair, an underbite, and sweet doggy kisses. Two, I’m a great listener – you would not believe the things Mother¬†has told me! And three, I love to be held and cuddled, which science has shown is a great way to elevate your mood, reduce stress, and feel more connected to something solid and comforting. Nothing keeps you hanging on for better days than the knowledge that someone as cute and helpless as me is loving you, needing you. Just look at that face up there! Lastly, the only side effects I cause are warm, fuzzy feelings of absolute joy!

Now, I guess I better introduce… the others.

First, there’s Bridey (Mother got this name from a Hayley Mills movie).

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She’s okay… for a cat. Mostly she just stays out of the way and bugs Mother¬†only when she’s hungry. Or wants to drink water right out of the tap… she’s kind of a freak, totally refuses to drink out of the communal bowl Mother sets out for us in the kitchen. And sometimes she tries to help Mother¬†work out.

Not much more to say about her. Except she absolutely MOONS over anyone who walks through the door. She has NO sense of territory rights. Seriously, she just lets ANYONE walk in the door without the least protest.

And lastly, there’s Xochitl (I guess this means “flower” in some language called Aztec). img_0561Gah! That girl is CRAZY. Always sticking her tongue everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE. She’s only a year old so maybe there’s some hope for her. Let’s hope so because she is always causing trouble. So immature!

Well, that’s about it from me for now. Have to get off the computer before Mother catches me. It’s been great visiting with all of you and I hope to hop back on here again soon. Till then, keep it real. And buy my mother’s books. She really needs the money for my food and chew flips. Powerful mojo takes lots of fuel, you know!

Peace out!

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5 Favorite Reads of 2016

2016 was a tumultuous year, no doubt. Many of my beliefs were challenged and transformed. Much of that transformation had to do with the new authors and books I exposed myself to. Below are five of the books that left the deepest impressions on me. I hope you find something in here to enjoy in 2017!

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Marginalia to Stone Bird by Rose Lemberg

I discovered Rose Lemberg’s work during a reading at MidAmeriCon II this last August. During the reading, she shared her prose work, but her poetry is just as lovely and fascinating. And I wish I could have a recording of her reading all of these poems because her voice is mesmerizing and really adds to the experience of her work. If you haven’t heard of Rose before, you MUST look her up and start following her work. Her first novel is being shopped around now to publishers, but she has several works¬†available for free reading on Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

 

 

spiral-danceThe Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess by Starhawk

2016 was a year of firsts for me. One first was reading more nonfiction than I ever have since leaving college – maybe even more than then.

This was also my first year to delve into the subject of Paganism and Wicca in particular. Even if you aren’t interested in the religion, Starhawk’s beautiful, poetic introduction to this topic is worth a read. If nothing else, it will inspire you to take a closer look at the natural world and the way we relate to it.

 

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The Magpie Lord by K. J. Charles

Here’s another first for me – queer/gay romance. I resisted giving this genre of literature a try for a long time, convinced it had nothing to offer me as a straight woman.

But here’s the thing, queer/gay romance has EVERYTHING to offer straight women. You know why? Because it features couples who are true partners and equals. And, from what I’ve read so far there is very little of that lover worship that so much of the romance genre is drenched in. So much of heterosexual romance uses the same old tired tropes of delicate, small female and a much larger stronger male. The alpha male trope has gotten very out of control, with heroes bordering on criminal/abusive behavior. Now, I can’t say that some queer/gay romance doesn’t feature those disturbing trends. But, in an age where women of colors and creeds are once more having to fight for their rights to be heard and respected (ugh! does it EVER end?), finding heterosexual romance that speaks to the fight can be difficult.

K. J. Charles is an EXCELLENT place to start if you’re interested in exploring queer/gay romance. Not only do her books feature awesome magic and alternate history settings, but her characters are incredibly nuanced. She blends the various threads of her narrative ingeniously and nothing feels contrived or forced.

 

the-bone-knife“The Bone Knife” by Intisar Khanani

I’ve been a fan of Intisar’s since I read her excellent YA novel Thorn. In “The Bone Knife” she once more proves why she’s such an amazing writer.

Anybody who knows me well, knows I struggle with writing short fiction. It just eludes me. I’ve knocked off a few short pieces – some of which were pretty good. And a sci-fi short story is actually the first piece of fiction I ever sold. But I struggle with the format.

In “The Bone Knife” Intisar makes it look SO easy – as all true artists should. In very few words, she manages to create a world, introduce us to and make us care about great characters, and tells a tension filled narrative that leaves the reader wanting more.

 

when-god-was-a-womanWhen God was a Woman by Merlin Stone

This was among the first nonfiction books I read in 2016. And, damn, it knocked me for a loop.

Not only is it well and sensitively written, but it is as fascinating as any historical novel.

Be advised, though, if you uncomfortable with your beliefs being challenged (and I mean if that causes you fits of anger), you might not like When God was a Woman. However, if you are willing to enter this book with an open mind and a willingness to consider the possibility of alternate truths, make sure you read this. You will not be the same afterwards.

 

5 Lessons I Learned from 2016

So, 2016 was… hard. Really hard. For A LOT of people.

Some people had great years. That’s awesome!

Many, many, many people did not have great years. They had awful years. Some had the worst year of their lives so far.

But, as many of you know, tragedy and struggles are often the best teachers. That sounds so trite I know, especially for those still trying to survive the aftermath of certain events that took place in 2016.

Seeing lessons is often the only way I have of getting through bad times. If something, ANYTHING, good can be gleaned from an horrid event or time period it makes a it bit easier to bear.

Plus, have I mentioned that I love to make lists? It is so oddly soothing.

Anyway, here is my list of lessons learned on the other side of 2016. I could list many more than 5, but “ain’t nobody got time for that!”

  1. We as a country are not as evolved as we like to think we are.¬†This is not a very cheery lesson, I know. But I think it needs to be said that, though we wear the trappings of modern civilization, a large swathe of our population lives somewhere in the 1930s. And not even the enlightened 1930s Another large swathe of the population is so ensnared by apathy that I’m surprised they care enough to keep breathing! Thus the pickle our country is now in.
  2. When you least expect it, wonderful things come into your life.¬†Our family moved to Oklahoma in the spring of 2013. I left behind my job, friends, and family not to mention my house. Up until this last summer, I’ve lived in a pretty deep state of isolation since I haven’t been able to find a job, make lasting friendships, or attach to anything that would ground me. Then, I met the most remarkable group of people and started to make real friends and connections in the community. So, even though I still don’t have a job, I feel more connected to what’s around me. And I wasn’t really LOOKING for it. I just followed a curious impulse and so many wonderful things and people have come into my life as a result.
  3. Nothing is permanent. We like to say this all the time as a cliched way of comforting someone or urging them to value what is in their life. But, nothing brings that old and well-worn truth screaming to life than when you lose someone important to you. this can be through death, abandonment, mere drifting apart, whatever. The fact remains, that very few people in our lives are here on a long-term basis. And even the ones who are, are not here permanently. Reminds me of that Flaming Lips song.
  4. It’s never too late to open your eyes.¬†This will be a bit cryptic as I don’t wish¬†to hurt anyone with what I REALLY want to express on this topic. Let me only say this: Never stop questioning. Never stop reading and digesting information from a huge variety of sources. Just because you’ve believed something all your life does not make it true or right. And it’s never too late to discover other truths, other paths.
  5. This world is so very beautiful.¬†I’ll be the first to admit it: this lesson is very hard to swallow sometimes. But that does not make it any less true. And I’m not necessarily talking about human nature (though, I’m not necessarily NOT talking about human nature) but about how varied and vast is this world that surrounds us. Every time I go out my back door and look at even my small patch of Earth I’ve been given to steward, I’m moved to tears by how lovely it all is. I hope someday, before it’s too late, we all come to appreciate how loved we are to have been set down in this gorgeous, ferocious, awe-inspiring place.

The Neverending Story Dream Cast Part 1

No, this isn’t my dream cast for In the Blood. That would take too long to write.

I am currently re-reading The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (my absolute favorite book). When I was a kid, I used to watch the 1984 movie everyday. And I mean that literally. When my mom wanted to take a short nap, she would lay me down on our living room floor with my pillow and blankie and pop in The Neverending Story videotape and I would watch it everyday. I still have all the dialogue memorized.

Anyway, since I was re-reading the novel and it honestly feels like a completely new book – one of the magic things about certain books – I was thinking about whether Hollywood would ever attempt a remake of the 1984 movie¬†or reinterpretation of the book itself. That got me thinking about who I would cast in key roles. So, here it goes (this survey covers only the characters in the first half of the book. I’ll get to the 2nd half at a later time):

Bastian Balthazar Bux – Gaten Matazzaro

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 27: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been digitally altered) Actor Gaten Matarazzo from Netflix's 'Stranger Things' poses for a portrait during the 2016 Television Critics Association Summer Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 27, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portrait)

This kid is so damn cute! And he’s got some acting chops. I think he could definitely handle the awkward Bastian of the book’s first half.

 

Carl Conrad Coreander – Tommy Lee Jones

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Famous Hollywood curmudgeon alert!  That man is the embodiment of Mr. Coreander with that scowl that hovers between bored and ferocious. I can just seem him barking orders and criticisms from a wing-back chair.

 

Atreyu –¬†Milli Bobby Brown

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11: Actress Millie Bobby Brown attends the premiere of "Stranger Things" at Mack Sennett Studios on July 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Before anybody loses their sh*t, remember that this is just a personal fantasy cast. It’s not like any film producer is going to ask my opinion even if a Neverending Story remake was in the works. Also, I’m usually a purist when it comes to book-film translations. However, after seeing this young lady in Stranger Things, I know she would absolutely kill it as the young warrior Atreyu. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that she would manage to transcend the role and make it Oscar-worthy.

 

Childlike Empress – Isabella Furhman

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Isabella definitely has the timeless, ethereal look as described by Michael Ende, but she also has a strong charisma and the ability to portray multi-layered characters. Though the Childlike Empress does not appear in the story (like actually in person) until near the middle of the book, she saturates it with her invisible presence. In a movie, you need an actress who can live up to that kind of build-up. And I think Isabella could.

 

Voice of Gmork РAndy Serkis

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A pioneer in the motion-capture film world, Andy is also just a very talented actor. He can transform his his voice at will and I think he would make an especially creepy black werewolf. Gmork in the 1984 version was certainly scary, but he lacked that gleeful menace that Ende put into his original character. Serkis would be great at reintroducing that quality.

 

Voice of Falkor РIdris Elba

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Anyone who has seen Zootopia, knows that Idris has the voice to bring a character to life. And Falkor is such a complex personality: funny, with an almost childlike temperament, but also caring, wise, and brave. It would take a very talented actor to do justice to such a key player and I think Idris, with his nuanced portrayal of Chief Bogo, has convinced me that he could knock Falkor out of the park!

 

Voice of Uyulala, the Southern Oracle – Birdy

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This young woman’s voice just gets more haunting and nuanced as she gets older. Imagine what kind of melodies she could bring to¬†Uyulala’s poetry, which, until now, we’ve had to imagine for ourselves. Those of us not blessed with the gift of music need a bit of help.

And interesting coincidence, Birdy has a new video up for a¬†song she did with Sigma that stars Milli Bobby Brown. It’s meant to be!

 

 

Voice of Morla – Dames Helen Mirren or Judi Dench

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Either of these ladies would be fantastic as the long-lived and world-weary Morla. Their voices have power and presence and the capability of portraying both wisdom and the blasé attitude that so defines the Aged One.

 

Cairon (physician centaur) – Don Cheadle

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Cairon’s role in the story is relatively small, but it is he that sets The Neverending Story in motion. He is dignified, wise, and brave. Don Cheadle has played a host of different characters in his career and has the gravitas to make Cairon a stand-out in a very short amount of time.

There’s Still Time!

Yesterday was the last day for the Goodreads giveaway and I had a total of 2,357 people enter! If you didn’t win, there is still time to pick up a signed print copy of In the Blood from me. Just send me a message ¬†and we can work out the details. I only have a limited supply of these so first come, first serve!

Book Sale Time!

Hey folks! Exciting news! I have a stash of print copies of In the Blood that I’m selling for $10. You’ll get it signed and with some other swag. If you’re interested, use the contact me tab and send me a note so we can work out the details of payment and who you would like the book signed to.

It is a limited supply, so if you’re interested hurry and order! Sale goes on until December 22.