Author Interview: Elizabeth Kales on "The Silk Weaver's Daughter"

Ana: Today we have Elizabeth Kales introducing her novel, "The Silk Weaver’s Daughter". I haven't read this book myself, but Liz was kind enough to agree to guest blog about her book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Liz, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Elizabeth: "The Silk Weaver’s Daughter" is historical fiction set in the late 17th century at a time when the Sun King, Louis XIV was instigating a wave of persecution against the Protestant followers of Jean Calvin. Pierre and Jacques Garneau are cousins, brought up together by their grandfather in a small Huguenot village. At a family reunion, Jacques warns the devout Pierre that he must soon make the decision to revoke his religion or risk death. Pierre decides that, with Jacques' help, he will try to get his family to England. However, Pierre's beautiful daughter, Louise and Jacques' son, Marc are in love, and they have their own ideas of what their future will hold. Set in this turbulent time in French history, how will the choices each family member makes, weave the tapestry of their lives? Or is their fate already predestined?

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Elizabeth: The underlying theme of the narrative is a look at the Calvinistic belief in predestination -- the theory that many Huguenots held, that one’s whole life is planned by the Creator before they are even born. Pros and cons on both sides of the issue are presented in what, I hope, is an entertaining way.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Elizabeth: I love history and have been involved in my own family history research for over twenty years. Years ago, my aunt told me there was a Huguenot connection and the idea fascinated me. About ten years ago, I finally found the French family name and was able to discover the Huguenot branch of my family tree. Later, I traveled to the small French village where they originated, and see for myself what they left behind. It was so beautiful there, and I felt such compassion for my sixth great-grandfather, who was willing to leave it in order to serve his God in the way his conscience dictated.

The research began as a duty to my family, became a great pleasure to me, and ended in a compulsion to write the story of what may have happened to that family. I must admit though, that in the end verisimilitude won, and the book is strictly fiction.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Elizabeth: There are many stories and books about displacement, such as "Fiddler on the Roof" which is a movie based on the Jewish experience in Russia. It has been the case, down through the ages, but I can’t just think of a specific book at the moment other than James Michener’s "The Covenant."

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Elizabeth: Although I was involved in writing radio and television advertising, and later published travel articles, this is my first novel. I love the historical fiction genre and am now planning both a prequel and a sequel to the novel to make a trilogy. With the research required, though, it takes a long time for me to finish a novel, so it won’t be available in the near future.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Elizabeth: The novel is currently available on all Amazon outlets in print form and was released on January 23rd in Kindle form. "The Silk Weaver’s Daughter" has a Facebook page complete with pictures of the French Village at and I have a blog entitled Senior Moments with Liz Kales.

Ana: Thank you, Liz. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Elizabeth Kales: Yes, the prologue and a portion of Chapter 1 are available on my "Senior Moments with Liz Kales" blog here.

I would like to say to the readers, that while this is a book about religious people and there are some scriptural references, it is not really, what is considered Christian or born-again fiction. It discusses religion only as a background, in the same way that Philippa Gregory does in her historical novels about the Tudor or the Plantagenet eras. I consider it more an inspirational type novel.

Deals: The Beautiful Land

I have no idea if this book is good all the way to the end or not because I've only read the first two chapters so far before I had to buy it and tell everyone else I know, but "The Beautiful Land" is 99 cents from an indie author who writes about a time-travel romance between a Japanese-American man (who is the Japanese-American version of Steve Irwin, best I can tell) and a Iranian-American military translator with a realistic (best I can tell) depiction of PTSD. I happened to read the first two chapters today from the Kindle sample on a recommendation from a friend and bought it immediately thereafter because I loved the characters, SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE.

Well done, Alan Averill, wherever you are, for providing me with the first sci-fi book I can remember reading in the last 12 months that wasn't populated entirely by white protagonists. And provided a realistic and sympathetic depiction of PTSD. And an Iranian-Americas woman who isn't a terrorist. Because that's awesome. I only wish you were on B&N because I prefer buying from there, but I couldn't find you on their site.

Claymore: Weak But Not Worthless

Content Note: Violence

Claymore Recap: The Claymore group in the North have won their first skirmish. Raki has joined with Priscilla and Isley, unaware of their true natures. 

Claymore, Episode 20: The Carnage in the North, Part 3

Episode 20 opens with Raki being uncomfortably embraced by Priscilla. Isley approaches with some "found" horses for the three of them to ride, and assures Raki that Priscilla is acting the way she is because the smell of the southern lands retained on his clothing reminds her of her lost family.

Self-Promotion: I Wrote a Book!

As several of you already know, I've been working on a debut novel for the past year. I've finally finished the novel, and I'm terribly excited about it. You will all pretty much never hear the end of it, but I'll try to keep my happy-Snoopy-dances to the Sunday threads. *grin*

I have a lot of things to say, and I'm not sure where to start. I guess I'd like to start with a 'thank you', as well as some Trigger Warnings for infertility. That seems about par for the course with me.

Content Note: Infertility

Last year around this time was when I was going through the IVF process that ended up failing so badly. I've wanted children all my life, and now I had found out that was never going to happen. I was able to make peace with that, but the question that tormented me nightly was the feeling that nothing I had done or would do would noticeably mark the earth such that my existence would be noticed or remembered. I don't know if this is a rational fear, but it was something that I couldn't let go of. I felt like a genetic dead-end, completely without value.

And then it hit me that I'd been writing little half-finished novels and fan fiction stories all my life, so why couldn't I write and publish a book? If my self couldn't carry on genetically, possibly it could carry on memetically. If nothing else, there would be a little card in a copyright library somewhere that said I had been here and that I had made a mark, however small and insubstantial. That little idea saved me from spiraling into depression, and it gave me something to work toward.

/End Content Note

And this is where I want to thank each and every one of you and take you out for a cold beverage, because none of this would have been possible if you all weren't reading and commenting and lurking on the Google Reader Subscription number that I watch obsessively. Without you wonderful people, I would have succumbed long ago to the doubt that no one really wanted to read anything I wrote anyway, so why was I wasting my time on this, etc. Because of you all, I was able to push that fear down and keep going. And I thank you for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

So that's enough of my blubbing. Let's talk about fun things!

My book looks like this, and I am so much in love with the cover:


There's a plot description and retail outlets on my publishing page, which you can access here or on the navigation bar up top, but don't zip over there yet -- wait until the end of the post. Trust me!

This book is "Beauty and the Beast" from a cynical feminist perspective. It's not a happy book. (The next book will be, I'm already working on it, but it's not a fairy tale book. The third book will probably be another fairy tale. I'm not sure -- I've got several things I want to do.) It doesn't have a happy ending. It doesn't have zombies or ninjas or pirates, although I kind of wish it did because that sounds cool. But I haven't gone there yet, because that wasn't the story I needed to get out and onto the page. This book tries to address some serious problems I have with Stockholm Seduction stories, and deals with patriarchal society. One of my beta readers described the book as "This is why we can't have nice things," and that should pretty much be plastered on every page.

This book is also not the best thing I've ever written. My second novel is already much better, and I'm only five chapters in. But "Pulchritude" is the best I could make it, and I'm happy with that.

So first and foremost, if you choose not to read my book -- whether it be because you prefer a different genre, a happier ending, or better writing -- I am so not going to be sad at you. In my worldview, you're supporting me just by showing up to read this post. Go you! I heart you so much! *grins* Please, please, please do not feel like you or anyone else "owes" me a read, a purchase, a look, or a single thought about my novel. This is one of many reasons why I am trying to contain this stuff on a regularly scheduled Sunday post -- because no book is for everyone, least of all mine. I'm okay with that.

Now, having said that, if you would like to read my book, read it for free first. Please, please, please read it for free and you can buy it later if you like. I'm serious. I'm going to put a link here in the post to a "free promotional copy". This is not the same as the paid version on Amazon, because if I put that book up publicly available for free, Amazon drops the price and there goes my "tip the author" infrastructure except via Paypal, which not everyone can use. If you're curious as to the difference between the promotional copy and the paid copy, drop me an email and I'll gladly tell you.

Here is a link to a free promotional copy of my novel:
ePUB
mobi

Now, some random stuff:

  1. Sharing: My novel is released under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone and everyone to share it freely with friends, relatives, random strangers. If you or anyone you know has the technical know-how to load my book onto a torrent or three, I would consider it a great favor to me if you did so. (I don't know how and I don't want to learn for various job-related reasons.) I will say it again: Please "pirate" my book.
  2. Fan Fic'ing: If you are seized with a desire to fan fic my book, I would love to hear from you by email. Once I get over my excited squealing, I'll give you a nice official notice that you can both fan-fic my book and sell whatever you come up with. I decided to go the "No Derivative works unless you email me for permission" route after much lip-biting because I'd prefer the hypothetical ability to say no in certain special trigger-y cases. (If you don't want to get my permission first, it won't hurt my feelings or upset me but I could possibly take you to court for copyright infringement if you decided to sell your work. Odds of me actually doing that are basically nil.)
  3. Reviewing: If you decide to review my book, please disclose if you're reviewing based on the free promotional copy (this is a rule by the USA government that is supposed to result in better transparency to customers) and please try to disclose somehow that you read about the book on my blog. By which I mean, if you say something like "I was pretty sure that I would like this book given that I read Ana's blog, but it sucked like soggy pancakes," or "Who knew that when I first started reading Ana's blog, it would lead to me reading the best book ever written," or whatever, it's open and clear to the customer that you and I have a prior relationship. This helps me, since hopefully no one will accuse me of sending readers off to pad my rankings with dishonest/misleading reviews.
  4. Writing: This is entirely unrelated, but if any of you want to publish a book under my "vanity publishing company label" (meaning you get a free ISBN, and everything else is the same as if you published on your own -- you still own your work and get all your payments directly from Amazon or wherever and you're on your own for taxes, and just read the thread I'm about to link to because this parenthetical is now longer than the rest of the point), J.D. and I are working toward combining titles under a single vanity label in order to get into NetGalley and/or Overdrive. Details here.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for being so very very very very very supportive and wonderful and awesome. My life would be entirely different without you all, and not in a good way. Thank you. Most of all I must thank my selfless and completely amazing Beta Readers, who gave a great deal of their time and energy to point out areas that needed fixing and to give me welcome encouragement along the way. I owe my deepest gratitude to Angela D, Cassandra, Charleen M, Danielle C, Elfwreck, Ian Pérez Zayas, Janell B, Jeanine Wood, Jeremy Janik, Jill Heather Flegg, Layne R, Marie L, mmy of mmycomments, Rachel Pumroy, and Sarah W. Thank you, all. You are all crispy-fried awesome.

Oh! And now you can go to the description page if you want, right here. Ha. *excited Snoopy dance*

Writings: La Belle et la Bete

Ana's Note: Surprise! I've been dropping hints for months now that I'm in the process of publishing a Beauty and the Beast adaptation. So guess what? I've finished the book and am now in the process of uploading it anywhere and everywhere and also I have about a million things going on on that subject and basically you guys are never going to hear the end of it and Sunday evenings are going to be a self-promotion extravaganza. Sorry about that. But what I'm not sorry at all about is that I also wrote up (and included in the book, but you get to see it here first) a deconstruction of the original La Belle et la Bête. So here it is! And... um... I hope you enjoy it. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

Please also note that an extra special 'thank you' is owed to mmy for her willingness to pre-read and edit the following deconstruction. She is eighteen distinct kinds of awesome. 

---

The following is a passage from "Pulchritude" by Ana Mardoll.


Deconstruction
The Author's Afterword on "The Beauty and The Beast"


La Belle et la Bête

I have held a passion for fairy tales since the first "Brothers Grimm" adaptation given to me in early childhood. I loved the stories with their heroes and heroines and their magical twists and turns.

But as I grew older, I started to balk at the black-and-white morality that was sometimes served alongside many of my fairy tale collections. I began to read the tales with a willingness to mentally compose my own modifications to the tales when I felt it was needed. If I felt particularly strongly about a story, I would dream of rewriting the tale entirely with my own personal spin. More frequently than not, the dream was dropped in favor of something more interesting in the moment, and nothing ever came of such fancies.

The idea that I might seriously attempt to write an adaptation of "The Beauty and the Beast" came simply enough one day. I was musing that many of the lovely ladies of fairy tale lore would possibly not in Real Life be quite so supremely well-adjusted after a lifetime of being called lovely all the time by everyone they met. "Beauty" of the classic La Belle et la Bête tale particularly intrigued me -- in the original, she is simply known as La Belle everywhere she goes.

In the fairy tale, Beauty's identity is defined solely in terms of what others see when they look at her. Almost everything we know about her is simply that she conforms to the social standards of female attractiveness for her culture. As a character, she embodies the concept of Gaze, or the awareness that one's self is being viewed by external people as a physical object. Gaze holds a crucial place in both feminist theory and literary deconstruction, because the awareness of being observed can create a disturbance in a person's behavior. I wondered what kind of disturbance could result from Beauty's awareness that she is constantly being evaluated by everyone around her?

What would life be like for a girl spontaneously named "Beauty" by all her peers, even to the point that any prior name she bore now fades away? What kind of effect would such a name have on her personality? Would she be self-assured, possibly even haughty, in her unmatched beauty? Or would she tend towards the nervous and fretful as she strove always to live up to the expectations of others? Mightn't she possibly end up both vain and self-conscious at the same time?

If Beauty were a real person, I could imagine that an entire lifetime of being treated as a visible object might leave her anxious and lonely. I imagined her unable to connect with others, fearful that sharing her real feelings and inner thoughts might upset the delicate balance of being constantly beautiful to them. I saw her surrounded by friends and lovers and even superficially confident in their flatteries, and yet essentially alone and never fully understanding why.

That is the Beauty I wanted to capture in my story, long before I ever put pen to page.

Recommends: My Entire Saturday

I am supposed to be packing, house hunting, catching up on blog posts, and judging ABNA entries. Instead, I spent too much of my Saturday being EATEN ALIVE by feminism. But in a good way.

First, if you haven't visited Escher Girls and read all eight billion of her awesome, awesome posts, I strongly encourage you to do that now. I'll wait.

Second, and related, if you haven't read this post on female athletic bodies as compared to fantastical "superhero" bodies, it is Very Interesting.

This related comic made me laugh. The point is not "all women want this" (because I actually prefer Beefy McBuffcakes Batman) or even "all men do not want this". The point, at least to me, is that living a life where your gender is constantly sexualized is very genuinely background radiation that we are saturated in. And That's Terrible.

Oh, hey, look at this post. It's a post about a woman in the video game industry expressing something that men in the video game industry have expressed before, but being treated horribly for having her opinion. Have you heard this song before? Of course. Are these still great articles to provoke the thoughts? Yowzers.

And then there's this. THIS. THIS. THIS. Do you see this thing? I am blubbing. A female Pixar heroine. A female Pixar heroine who finds her clothes restrictive in a practical way. A female Pixar heroine who feels limited by her roles and her life. Who stands up to her mother in a totally badass non-sexualized way. (Stereotypical action scene? I DO NOT CARE. Men have them. I want them.) A female Pixar heroine who has unruly curly hair. Oh my god, ya'll. This girl. Ariel, I will always love you, but I am pretty sure I am going to have to dump you from the self-image roster in favor of This Girl. Whatever her name is, she gets frizzies and oh my god. *blub*

Will we be watching this in theaters? Yes, we will be watching this in theaters. I will report back.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING/WATCHING/THINKING/WRITING THIS WEEK? (DOES IT HAVE FRIZZIES?)

Rant of the Day: Spoilers

To the author who wrote the movie novelization I have been struggling to finish for a month: If there's a plot point in the movie that is a spoiler having to do with another character's non-human nature, it is not actually in fact subtle to have that character's POV keep musing on human nature and how humans react to things and aren't humans so very odd.

I mean, the movie had one spoiler. One! How hard is it to not spoil that one spoiler? This isn't foreshadowing, it's just being obtuse.

Tropes: When Good Men Do Nothing

[Content Note: Sexism, Rape Culture, Violence]

Here's the thing. You have this character. You want him to be a bad guy. Maybe not the Bad Guy, but a bad guy that most people wouldn't like in real life. Maybe you know someone like this guy in real life and you think, hey! I'll put that guy in my novel. That's fine. It's fair. There are some crappy people out there, after all. It's a decent characterization.

But when your bad guy is going around blatantly doing horrible sexist stuff, and your good guys never actually call him on it or indeed do much of anything besides sort of weakly and ineffectually protest, your good guys do not seem like Good Guys to me.

This does not mean that your good guys should punch the bad guy in the face in a fit of righteous rage over the bad guy's sexism. Feminists are not actually all about beating up men. What it does mean is that your good guys might actually seriously and effectively call your bad guy on his sexist stuff. Or they might stop hanging out with him entirely! And they might, just might, do things to effectually help the victims of his sexism! Because those women he is hurting? Are actually in fact people. So you might want to do something about that.

And if that doesn't seem "realistic" to you because in real life you never call your buddies on their sexist stuff despite there being real live victims in front of you being hurt, you might want to reevaluate how you are living your life.

Feminism Pro-tip: Being friends with sexist guys is not actually good ally behavior.

Writing Pro-tip: Good Guys have to actually be good, not simply better than the bad guys.

Tropes: Breaking News To Mystery Noir Novelists

[Content Note: Sexist Language, Violence]

I know it was very disappointing that we had to drag ourselves out of the 40's where it was appropriate for a hardboiled detective to call random women "doll face" and "candy tits" and "sugar ass" and (for all I know, because this really isn't my usual genre) "caramel hips", and I understand that a few of you are very disappointed with this change and would like to bring it back into vogue. I get that.

And I do understand that those of you who are disappointed about this change have realized that women vote with their wallets and that most women found this kind of language to be contemptible and unworthy of their time and attention. But here's the thing. Here's what I'm trying to say. Reintroducing that kind of language and the sexist attitude behind it but then 'fixing' it by having women beat up the man every time? That does not actually make it better. 

Feminism Pro-tip: Feminists are not actually all about beating men up.

Writing Pro-tip: Protagonists who are assholes are still assholes even if they are beaten up for it.

Twilight: Existing to Serve White People

Trigger Warning: Racism, Cultural Appropriation

Twilight Recap: Bella has arrived at the weekend beach get-away.

Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories

So let's talk a little about cultural appropriation today. It's a difficult subject, and one on which there are a number of different opinions.

Open Thread: Completely Open

I've never had a totally open thread before. Have I? I don't think I have. Anyway! Here is a nice blank space to scrawl on. GO!

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Tropes: How Do We Deal With Triggering Language in Writing?

[Trigger Warning: Racist Language (including the N-word), Ableist Langauge (including the R-word), Sexist Language (including the C-word)]

I've been thinking a lot about triggering language and how it plays out in books. We've talked before about how a lot of things can be triggers, even things the author might not necessarily know about, and as a writer, I think about it a lot. Because... I don't like being triggered. And I don't like triggering people. So this is sort of an opinion piece thinking some stuff out.

Open Thread: Google Privacy

Supposedly this is the last night to use this process to stop Google from storing your search history. I don't know that this method will actually work, but I went through the steps and the screenshots look right.

Metapost: Still Here

I would like to announce that I am definitely still alive and I do apologize for not participating in the threads more, but -- on a truly selfish note -- I am LOVING all your wonderful comments as they are delivered directly to my phone. I cannot count the number of times I've whipped out my phone whilst riding in the car with Husband this week and snickered mischievously, laughed uproariously, or fist-pumped approvingly. You are all so beyond awesome and well into plupleniawesome. Thank you.

Here are some Life Updates for people who are interested:

  1. I have had a bluetooth headset permanently stuck to my ear all week long. 
  2. House is in the process of being repaired by roofers and A/C people. All of whom are awesome.
  3. We spent all last weekend looking at apartments and houses and found a house we loved...
  4. ...but it went to another buyer after we bid, which broke my heart. That made me sad.
  5. We're spending all this weekend looking at houses. We really like the pictures of one in particular.
  6. My boss is being very awesome about all this moving and medical stuff. Yay for nice bosses. 
  7. ABNA judging starts tomorrow. *revs internal engine*
  8. I haven't written it yet, but I'm pretty sure this weekend's Twilight is going to rock. Why? Jacob.
  9.  This is to announce that there will be a special announcement this Sunday evening.
  10. (If surprises make you uncomfortable, #9 is a reference to my novel.)

And, I guess... One more announcement. Several weeks ago I wrote a post and scheduled it for this Thursday's deconstruction. I've nearly deleted it three times now, because I'm not even sure I agree with what I wrote -- it's a subject on which I have... a lot of mixed feelings and ambivalence. (If surprises make you uncomfortable, the post is about removing triggering language from public domain mandatory school books and/or for personal consumption.)

But! The site wouldn't be called "ramblings" if I only posted things I was sure I agreed with and not just random thoughts that cross my mind while I'm in the shower and then subsequently refuse to leave my head until I share them with the internets. So what I'm trying to say is that I'm hoping in advance that I don't offend anyone tomorrow, I don't expect anyone to agree with me (I'm not sure I agree with myself), and if I don't respond immediately to comments it's not because I don't sincerely care -- it's because I'm chained to my bluetooth headset talking non-stop to realtors, lenders, mortgage people, roofers, A/C technicians, and insurance adjusters.

OPEN THREAD BELOW! (And people may spoil the white text above for comments.)

Author Interview: Robert Collin on "Lisa's Way"

Ana: Today we have Robert Collins introducing his novel, Lisa's Way. I haven't read this book myself, but Robert was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Robert, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Robert: Teenager Lisa Herbert lives in the small town of Mountain View on the planet Fairfield. The “Savage Rain” decades earlier shut down the hyperspace gate and isolated her world. A casual remark from her sister gets Lisa to ask a simple question: “If life was better before the ‘Savage Rain,’ why couldn’t it be better again?”

That question starts Lisa on a journey. She reactivates Fairfield’s H-gate and travels to three worlds. Each planet offers her a chance to improve life by hard work, by trade, or by making friends. She relies on her brains, her compassion, and a little sneakiness to solve the problems she faces.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, what do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Robert: The theme is that one person can make a difference. Another idea is that you don't have to fight to solve problems. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it makes Lisa's story different from what else is out there.

I'm not striving for any experience other than to tell the reader a good story. If I tell a good story, then I can move on from there. In the case of LISA'S WAY, I do hope readers will like Lisa enough to want see where her journey takes her. If I can entertain, and give readers something to think about, I should be okay.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

Robert: The idea began in high school when a friend and I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic story with us and our other friends as characters. After high school I fictionalized the characters. One, Lisa Herbert, eventually stood out from the rest. She was the one who would try to rebuild society. The question was, how to go about it?

In the early 90's I published a series of travel booklets. As part of my research I learned about the Santa Fe Trail. It wasn't a trail for emigrants, but a commerce route. That's when it hit me. Trade would be the method that Lisa could use to travel and rebuild society. The first book finally came together when I set the story on colony planets instead of on Earth.

There's one more reason why I wrote this novel. I like Lisa. I spent 15 years trying to get this book right. I like her enough that I want to keep telling her story, and do it right.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If  you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea? 

Robert: First off, I'd say that if you like heroines that are smart, you'll like this book. If you liked the "low-tech" approach to science fiction like Firefly, you'll like this book. If you're tired of post-apocalyptic fiction that's bleak and hopeless, you'll like this book.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Robert: As to Lisa's story, I do have other books planned. I have some short stories that make up one book, one novel written, and I've started on another.

As to other fiction, I've had two other novels published, and I self-published another. The newest is a coming-of-age story. One is about superheroes, morality, and changing history. My first published novel was a spoof of revolution stories. I thought it would be a stand-alone novel, but I've been inspired to write more with the main character.

In addition, I write nonfiction about Kansas history. I've had several books about railroad history published. I've two biographies of early Kansas leaders published. Last year I released a book about the important events that happened in 1874 in Kansas. My plans are to release a few more history books, then see if I want to continue or just stick with fiction.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Robert: The price for Lisa's Way is $2.99 for the ebook or $10 for the print book. You can find it at Amazon, Smashwords, or B&N. You can also follow me on my blog or on Facebook.

Ana: Thank you, Robert. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Robert: Readers can find the first 3 chapters of Lisa's Way at Wattpad.

Thanks for your time!

Claymore: Thankless Roles

Content Note: Violence

Claymore Recap: Clare has joined the Claymore campaign in the north against the army of Awakened Beings. The Claymore have been divided into teams of 4 for the battle.

Claymore, Episode 19: The Carnage in the North, Part 2

When we last left the Claymore, Team Jean and Team Flora were having a bit of trouble finishing off their assigned Awakened Being. The back-up teams -- Team Undine and Team Veronica -- leap in to help the two struggling teams.

Metapost: Do Not Panic

There is some minor web redesign going on at the moment. Please do not panic. Thank you.

Open Thread: Shakespeare

One more open thread, because it's Monday and I totes need it.

Shakespeare adaptations: favorites and hated.

I can't stand "Romeo + Juliet". I can't immediately explain why, but I think it's because I didn't think the original voice fit well with the flashy modern setting. I loved "O". I liked the setting and the adaptation, but I additionally loved that 'Desi' and 'Emily' were given really strong characters in a play that has sometimes been approached from a very problematic perspective. (There's an awesome essay out there about misogyny through famous Othello performances and how it often revolves around how the scarf is lost/taken from Desdemona.)

I am also extremely fond of "King of Texas" (King Lear) and this adaptation of "Richard III".

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Metapost: Newsletter

This is a metapost to inform everyone that I plan to send out my first newsletter on the first of March. I plan to do these newsletters on a "first of the month" basis because ZOMG SPAM BAD. If you're not a member of the newsletter and would like to be, you can sign up here: Newsletter Link. I'm reasonably sure that the newsletter facilitator (Mail Chimp) doesn't sell or spam your email -- I use them because Mark of MarkReads uses them, and I've not noticed a spam uptick in the several months I've subscribed to him.

Newsletters will contain the following kinds of information:

  1. Notices of ending series. (I.e., "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is ending this month. Look for an upcoming vote.")
  2. Notices of beginning series. (I.e. "Prince Caspian will be starting this month.")
  3. Notices of compiled series. (I.e., "The posts for the LWW deconstruction can be found at X in compiled form or via link list.")
  4. Notices of book releases. (I.e., "Ana has finally published her book. Get it at X.")
  5. Anything else that seems relevant. 
Newsletter subscription is optional, and all this information will still be conveyed on the blog in the usual posts. But newsletters will be a nice round-up of these things, and additionally makes me feel all grown-up and professional. 

Open Thread: eBooks

It's a Monday open thread!

Last week, mmy made a great comment about eBooks being gateway drugs that hook people on eReading. I know they were for me: I bought my eReader last year with the firm and full intention to ONLY download public domain classics and free library books and now I have..... er, at least 600 books on my B&N nook library alone.

Which I know because when I had to call B&N this week to clear up a nook/credit-card conflict (my old card was expiring and had to be updated), the lady on the phone kept saying, "Wow, you've bought a LOT of books with us..."

How many eBooks do you have? Are they all freebies and public domains, or do you have paid ones as well? What do you think about eReading in general?

OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Recommends: Fox News Roundup

If you live in the U.S. of A., there is a very good chance that at some point you've been in a conversation with someone who recommended a Fox News program. In this conversation, you probably wanted to say something about "ultra-conservative bias" or "completely garbage news programs" or something similar, but you lacked a nice, clean, politely worded explanation to back up your feelings. Well, now this is a thing that exists, thanks to A Former Conservative:

No, that isn’t why I have a problem with it and its not why the majority of liberals have a problem with it. If it were merely conservatives and Republicans offering their opinions, I would not have a problem with the Fox News channel at all.

I have a problem with them often using racially charged language when talking about the President.

I have a problem with their hosts using sexist language towards female guests on their programs.

I have a problem with them trying to manufacture controversies and outrage over innocuous things.

I have a problem with them making inaccurate and sometimes downright false statements.

I have a problem with the fact that sometimes this opinion creeps into their straight news programs despite the fact that they repeatedly assert that they are “fair and balanced.”

I have a problem with them taking extremely minor things the President does and blowing them up into examples of what a terrible job he is doing.

I highly recommend the whole thing. It's exceedingly well-written and it has links!

---

Recommends threads are Open Threads where I highly encourage promotion and self-promotion and cross-linking. What have you read or written this week? Please share!

Twilight: Falling In Love With Love

Content Note: Disabilities, Depression

Twilight Recap: Bella has arrived at the weekend beach get-away only to suddenly notice that every girl in Forks hates her for being beautiful.

Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories

Folks, if we're going to go much further into Twilight, I have to make a confession: I'm not much of a romantic.

Open Thread: Characters I Can't Feel Sorry For

There's such a fine line between victim-blaming and feeling like a fictional character deserves their inevitable bad end for the crime of being obtuse.

I've been listening to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" from Audible and really trying to enjoy it because I love the idea of the story. I really love retro horror because it seems to be -- and I'm basing this entirely on "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Stepford Wives" -- entirely about the fear of being quietly replaced by an almost indistinguishable copy of the self. You yourself, the part of you that is you and unique and special, will be gone, but the world won't even know the difference. It's quite harrowing.

But because the book is pretty retro, the characters make horrible decisions because they've never heard of the horror genre, I guess. They've just now fled town because the Pod People are out to get them and sleeping is dangerous (because that's when the pods grow and replace you) and they holed up in a motel outside of town that probably isn't infected. And what do they do the next morning? If you guessed "go back into town, separate, and then walk into several obvious traps because they are too obtuse to live", give yourself 1,000 points.

Bonus points if you anticipated that the characters did not imaginatively explore the consequences of an entire town of Pod People and what that might mean in terms of a concerted hunt for them.

Here is a list of things that are keeping me from sinking as deeply in this book as I'd like:

  1. This book is a perfect example of Bechdel tests and why we need them. The two women characters never talk to each other (except possibly off-screen to produce dinner for the Menz) despite living in close quarters in the middle of a crisis. Each woman is owned by a man, and when more than one man is on-screen, the woman stops existing entirely. She only comes back into existence when the man is alone and needs someone to act on. Ironically, this is still one of the more female-friendly books I've read lately since at least the men sort of respect the women when they do exist. *lolsob*
  2. The main character thinks it's a good idea to keep the discovery of the Pod People as secret as possible because someone else might mess up the discovery in some way.
  3. The main character asks his military friend in Washington, D.C. to not alert anyone about the Pod People crisis because it probably wouldn't do any good.
  4. The main character thinks that medicating himself and his friends into heavy sleep is a good idea when Pod People who grow and replace you in your sleep are on the prowl.
  5. The main character thinks that visiting a professor in an infected town so as to absorb useless psychobabble about how the pods could come from space is a higher priority than escaping town.
  6. The main character is impressed that his friend got himself and his wife shot and captured to demonstrate the serious situation rather than abandoning the main character and legging it.

I'm on the last track of the book, and I'm pretty sure they're all going to die. It's hard for me to feel sorry for them at this point -- Earth is doomed because of their jackwagonry and they deserve their death.

UPDATE! Spoiler for ending: Nununununun. Gur znva punenpgre naq tveysevraq rfpncr orpnhfr fur pbzrf hc jvgu n cyna gung eryvrf ba uvz naq gur bgure zra orvat fghcvq naq frkvfg, naq fvapr gurl ner fghcvq naq frkvfg, gur cyna jbexf yvxr n punez. +20 gb lbh, tveysevraq. Gura fur ybfrf ure fubrf juvpu fybjf gurz qbja orpnhfr fur unf infgyl rkprrqrq gur nyybjnoyr dhbgn bs srznyr pbzcrgrapr. *fnq gebzobar*

Gura gur cbqf qrpvqr gung fvapr nccebkvzngryl 2 bhg bs 200 uhznaf ner orvat anexl nobhg gur jubyr vainfvba guvat, gurl zvtug nf jryy tvir hc naq oynfg vagb fcnpr. -20 cbvagf gb lbh, nyvraf. Zl PNGF jbhyq qb n orggre vainfvba guna lbh. Naq bar bs gurz ebhgvaryl snvyf gb whzc ba pbhagref orpnhfr fur'f ynml naq jnagf hf gb cvpx ure hc. Naq gura gur znva punenpgre dhbgrf Puhepuvyy orpnhfr fghzoyvat nebhaq va n svryq naq frggvat n srj cbqf ba sver vf RKNPGYL YVXR yvivat va Ratynaq qhevat Jbeyq Jne VV.

Gura gur znva punenpgre naq uvf tveysevraq trg zneevrq naq yvir bhg n dhvrg pbafcvenpl gb arire gryy nalbar nobhg jung unccrarq naq gura gurl purrevyl jngpu nyy gurve vasrpgrq cbq crbcyr sevraqf -- juvpu vf RIRELBAR GURL'IR RIRE XABJA -- ernpu gur fubeg yvzvg bs gurve cbq crbcyr yvirf naq qvr jvguva 5 lrnef bs vasrpgvba jvgubhg rire bapr srryvat yvxr znlor gur tbireazrag be fpvrapr! be fbzrbar zvtug fubhyq trg vaibyirq gb znlor ybbx vagb urycvat bhg be pbzvat hc jvgu n pher. Abcr. Olr, Qnq! Olr, Nhag Zvyqerq! Olr, Pbhfva Znel! Nunununun, -2,000 cbvagf gb lbh, znva punenpgre naq tveysevraq, sbe orvat ubeevoyr, ubeevoyr crbcyr.

Qrprag obbx, qrfcvgr zl tbbq-angherq evoovat. Qernqshyyl cnprq, gubhtu.

OPEN THREAD BELOW. Talk about things that frustrate the heck out of you when fictional characters do them in order to artificially heighten the tension. +100 points to the first person to bring up the "Dawn of the Dead" remake movie.

Feminism: Won't Someone Think Of The Children!? and the Seductive Allure of Mom-Shaming

[Content Note: Children, Pregnancy, Breast Feeding, Child Abuse]
[This article originally ran as a Slacktiverse Special.]

I wanted to start this post saying that I think "trusting women" to be a basic and fundamental point of feminism, but I suppose that in the interests of pedantry, this isn't strictly true. If we define feminism as believing in, supporting, looking fondly on, hoping for, and/or working towards the equality of the sexes -- and I think there are good arguments in support of that definition -- then I suppose in the interests of fairness, it's possible to be a 'feminist' and feel that all peoples, regardless of sex or gender, have inferior judgment to one's own. But I'm assuming, if you're on this blog, that you're probably not starting from that position. Still, in the interests of pedantry, I'll make the following 'me' statement:

For me, "trusting women" is a basic and fundamental point of my feminism.

Metapost: Posting Schedule

Because I realized a few of you hadn't cracked the Rambling code, there is a post schedule update on the Blog Navigation page. The old schedule was both out-of-date and buried at the bottom of the page.

Author Interview: Sarah Spann on "Wildflowers Come Back"

Ana: Today we have Sarah Spann introducing her novel, Wildflowers Come Back. I haven't read this book myself, but Sarah was kind enough to agree to guest blog about her book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Sarah, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Sarah: Wildflowers Come Back is a paranormal mystery. The story follows a snarky twenty-something named Lyss who finds herself broke, jobless and living in a cheap motel after the break-up with her boyfriend. Just when everything is going completely wrong, something finally goes right. She is given the opportunity to start over when she is offered a live-in position at an historic inn. The inn will become her sanctuary and the colorful characters who work there will become her family. However, Lyss will soon discover that the walls which surround her hold much more than history. As fear of a serial killer spreads throughout the city of Santa Fe, Lyss begins to wrestle with her own sanity. Is she hallucinating or is she really seeing ghosts? Just when she thinks she’s found the connection, her world is turned upside down. Will Lyss listen to the voices that haunt her? Or will she trust the one person who can’t be trusted?

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Sarah: Wildflowers Come Back explores how the opinions and expectations of others (or our perception of said opinions and expectations) affect how we live our lives. It also begins to explore karmic bindings and forgiveness, which will be further explored in the sequel. In addition to being surprised by the twists and turns the story takes, I also hope that readers will connect with the protagonist, Lyss, on a personal level.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Sarah: The inspiration for Wildflowers Come Back actually came from my own personal experience working at an historic inn which many believed to be haunted. Slowly that personal experience began to meld with a growing interest in the paranormal. There's something special about working at a small, historic inn like the one portrayed in Wildflowers Come Back. I wanted to share that experience with readers, from the delicious smells that float through the building to the creaking wood floors and the co-workers who become your family.

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If  you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Sarah: I honestly can't think of a specific novel right now that I would compare to Wildflowers Come Back. However, I do believe that fans of Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, and the like might enjoy Wildflowers Come Back. The paranormal aspect of the book is ghost oriented, but it is very organic and not necessarily in your face or overdone. There's a little nod to romance here and there, but no overt sexuality so if you're looking for steamy sex scenes you won't find it here. This isn't a gory horror novel, but it is a paranormal mystery that has it's moments that will make you say, "What the hell?!" There are strong emotional connections, questions surrounding a serial killer, and a deep rooted mystery that readers have said kept surprising them up through the last page.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Sarah: Wildflowers Come Back is my first published novel. I do have the sequel, Wildflowers Come Back: Karmic Flames, set for release at the end of March 2012. After that I do also have plans for another paranormal mystery novel as well as a horror novel.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Sarah: Wildflowers Come Back is currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers can connect with me by following me on Twitter, liking me on Facebook, or finding me on Goodreads. I also have a website with a blog at www.sarahspann.com.

Ana: Thank you, Sarah. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Sarah: Thank you, Ana. A sample of Wildflowers Come Back is available to readers on Amazon. Simply click on the cover image to read it using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature.

Narnia: An Interlude

So we've finished up with "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe". Forgive me for killing time this week, but I wanted to talk through a few things.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I really enjoyed this deconstruction. It took me a few places I knew I would go -- my frustration with the way Aslan is written, and my frustration for how Susan is treated by the text -- but it also took me in a few places I did not expect to go at all. I didn't expect to like Edmund as much as I ended up doing, and I didn't expect to feel as ambivalent about Peter (previously one of my favorite characters) as I did. That surprised me.

I would be very happy to keep going, but I would also like to hear what you all have to say about that. Do you want more Narnia or something fresh and new and different? VOTE. (And also, if we keep going, is there anything that you'd like to see done differently? Thoughts are welcome.)


Also-also, while we are doing the vote and I'm reading up on "Prince Caspian" (or starting a new series, depending on board opinions), I'm going to run weekly Claymores and finish out that series as well. Full speed ahead!

Deals: Twilight

The absolute first email in my inbox this morning was my Best Friend (who follows the deconstructions here) excitedly telling me that TWILIGHT IS THE KINDLE DAILY DEAL. Hah.


It's $2.99, today-only, and (as usual) this is just the Amazon US store.

Metapost: Because I Had So Much Free Time Already, LOL

I honestly can't remember if I told you guys that we're selling our house. Did I tell you guys we've been trying to sell our house? Anyway, that's totally been a thing for, like, 6 months now. And we got and accepted an offer last night, and we've got 5 weeks to move out before the buyer's baby is due. Yay!

And this is a good thing. Because we need to move closer to Mom before I can get my surgery because after the week in the hospital there's going to be like three months when I can't really get up and make my own sammiches. So this is a good thing because selling the house gets us closer to surgery time.

And, guess what, oh you will never guess! I got asked back to be an ABNA judge this year. And while I could not be happier about that, it does mean that there's a two-and-a-half week period over February/March where I will have 40 excerpts to read and review at a thoroughly breakneck pace.

Go, Sea Biscuit, go!

Ahem. I am totally, 100% committed to this affecting none of ya'll in any way whatsoever, but that may be unrealistic. So! Random thoughts:

  1. I'm going to go ahead and let Claymore finish out on Tuesdays before starting Narnia (or whatever we vote on) up again. Sorry about that, but it should be finished by April.
  2. If I miss a Sunday Recommends, I can assure you all that it's NOT because you all didn't write awesome things this week. It's just because I wasn't able to READ anything that week. 
  3. If I fail to respond to an awesome comment or kick-butt email in a speedy fashion, it's because my phone is plastered to my ear dealing with apartments, movers, and doctors.
  4. Come hell or high water, Saturday Twilight will continue! Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!

Recommends: Chasing Sheep on Sexism and Undies

So I read this utterly awesome post this week: No, underwear is not the same as swimwear.

Nothing complicated or illogical about it: just like I have no problems being naked in front of my (theoretical) girlfriend, but would have problems being naked in front of a classroom, there are women who have moments where they like showing skin, and others when they don’t.

I love this post for so many reasons, not the least because I regularly go outside in my underwear to fill the bird feeder in the backyard and when Husband objects in shock -- what if the neighbors see you over the 6 foot tall privacy fence? -- I react in puzzlement. Don't they see even MORE of me when I'm outside in a bikini sun-bathing?

I do not actually in fact sun-bathe, but I do feel this is beside the point.

So I loved this post for many reasons including pointing out that WOMEN ARE NOT A MONOLITHIC HIVE-MIND and WOMEN MAKE CONTEXTUAL DECISIONS JUST LIKE MEN. Who would have thought??

Twilight: In Which I Have Questions

Content Note: Scam Artists

Twilight Recap: Bella accepted a ride home from Edward with the understanding that Alice will bring her truck by later. Edward has stated that he will not be in school tomorrow (Friday) and cannot join the beach outing on Saturday.

Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories

Every so often I like to check in with my readers. How are you, dear readers? Are you enjoying these deconstructions? You can't actually answer that while I'm typing this post, of course, though you can answer in the comments and I hope that you will. But since I'm typing right now and you can't answer at the moment, I will come up with imaginary answers for you.

Open Thread: Superhero Movies I'm Annoyed With

...pretty much all of them. In the last twelve months we've watched Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, and I'm sure several others and I've been peeved at all of them.

I'm pretty sure Thor had one black character in the whole movie. Green Lantern had two. All three characters were victims. Captain America, I can't even recall. Maybe one of the army buddies who were Less Awesome Than Him.

The love interests have been pretty uniformly awful. Thor has Nathalie Portman looking like the wooden romance writing in Star Wars wasn't quite awkward enough and, as a two-fer, the one gal on Thor's elite team makes moon eyes at him every so often. Captain America had its gal shooting off guns in crowded rooms. ("Bob! Noooooo! He was two days from retirement!") Green Lantern had the movie standard Fighter Pilot + CEO Mogul + Biochemist (I'm guessing for the last one, because why not?) who is competent but really more of a trophy than anything else.

All three movies felt the need to reinforce the concept that bad people are naturally ugly. Thanks, Hollywood.

But, no, what I'm really annoyed with is that every superhero movie these days is an origin story. Speaking for myself, I'm tired of origin stories. The new Conan did that too, and I see no reason why. I don't care about Conan's childhood, honestly. He had, like, eight billion adventures in the comics, right? Just do one of those and save money on child actors.

Is it just me?

OPEN THREAD BELOW.

Metapost: Updates You Won't Care About

Well, it's true! LOL.

The Blog Policy page and the associated sub-pages are shinier now and significantly less rambly. Good gods, but they were rambly! Why am I so rambly? I honestly couldn't begin to guess.

Randomly, the Interview Policy page is now REALLY spiffy. It has an automated form submission thing now. I'm pretty proud of it.

Anyway, carry on. Ya'll rock.

Tropes: Vigilantism and Victim Blaming in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

[Content Note: Violence, Rape, Vigilantism, Victim-Blaming]

Ana's Note: This is the third and last post in my series on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This post deals with vigilantism in the series and where it may or may not edge into victim blaming. There will also be some discussion of Larsson's surviving girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson.

I don't like vigilantism. I don't think society is served by letting private citizens take the law into their own hands and settle their disputes violently. I think that the fantasy of vigilantism can be a fantasy that invites victims to exercise revenge in their heads while never feeling free to demand reparation in real life; a catharsis without social reform. I think that vigilantism can edge into victim-blaming, and the idea that if a victim doesn't react to a crime violently, then the crime must not have been serious. I have many problems with vigilantism.

Author Interview: Slactivite Yami on "Wolfbound"

Ana: Today we have our very own Slacktivite Yami introducing her novella, Wolfbound. I haven't read this book myself, but Yami was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Yami, how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Yami: This is a book for Team Jacob *laughs* No, I'm kidding. It's a sort of coming-of-age story about a young woman named Eileen who moves from California to the UK after a car accident leaves her partially crippled, and a boy named Zachariah who claims to be a werewolf. It's contemporary fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, low fantasy, whatever you want to call that odd genre that encompasses both Dresden Files and Twilight. There's some romance, as well.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Yami: It's mostly about finding your inner strength, discovering the things only you can tell about yourself. It also touches on what it's like to have an invisible disability, what it's like to cope with being non-neurotypical, and what makes for a good relationship.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Yami: I was very lonely while I was overseas; I knew I wanted to use the time to write something, but it wasn't until I was reading the Twilight deconstruction here that the idea began to solidify. In many ways, Eileen and Zach's relationship explores the sorts of unfortunate implications in the Edward/Bella relationship.

Ana: I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be listed as an inspiration, thank you. If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Yami: In addition to the connection with Twilight, it also is written similarly to the Kitty Norville books by Carrie Vaughn.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Yami: This is my debut novella, but I'm already working on a longer piece called The Hunt (title may change) and am drafting an outline for the sequel. The Hunt will be a lot darker, more like Dresden Files than Twilight, whereas the sequel will focus on a side character from Wolfbound and explore her story in more depth as the overarching plot continues. I'm hoping to get a series out of Wolfbound and a second series out of The Hunt; characters I write never seem to want to leave the spotlight.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Yami: It's available now for 99 cents, both at Smashwords and Amazon; more information and direct links can be found at my blog. My blog is the best way to stay informed as well.

Ana: Thank you, Yami. I understand you have the first chapter of your novel available as an excerpt for interested readers? And is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Yami: Wolfbound's excerpt has its own page on my blog. I hope you enjoy it! If anyone is willing to publish a review on their own blog, let me know and I'd be happy to send a free review copy; I'm not concerned with money so much as getting the book out to people who might enjoy it. Oh yeah, and there's a little graphic sexual content in the book, as well as a less-than-healthy relationship, so if that's not your cup of tea, you might want to pass.

Claymore: The Importance of Self-Identity

Content Note: Violence, Otherkin Terminology

Claymore Recap: Clare and Jean are on the run after the encounter with Riful; Galatea has returned to the Organization to report that Clare and Jean are dead, in the hopes that her report will buy Clare time and distance from the Organization hunters so that Clare can continue her search for Priscilla. This is the first episode of the Northern Campaign arc, which is the final arc of the anime series. (The manga goes further.) 

Claymore, Episode 18: The Carnage in the North, Part 1

Episode 18 opens with the slaughter of several unknown (to us) Claymore in the northern lands. This is a reference to the coming war that Riful predicted: the male Creature of the Abyss (Isley) who has hitherto dwelt in the north has created an army of Awakened Beings and is moving south. His ultimate goals are unclear, but he intends conquest and war against anyone who opposes him. This includes both Riful and the Organization.

Recommends: Rape Fantasies

A few weeks back on Slacktivist, the Board Administration Team there were kind and brave enough to publish an anonymous piece that had been sent to them by a community member. The piece had been written by a rape survivor who was dealing with life-long rape and domination fantasies. I felt that this poignantly written piece deserves to be circulated as much as possible and as the author has given permission to repost the piece, I am going to do so here.

I also believe that a good deal of this post ties finely in with the discussion here, The Dilemma of Female Fantasies. I believe that fantasies are complicated and that open-and-accepting discussion of fantasies is crucial. I greatly appreciate the author for writing and sharing this post.

Twilight: In Which We Leave Chapter 5

Content Note: Fainting, Falling, Violent Relationships, Abuse

Twilight Recap: Bella has left the nurse's office, having been given permission to go home sick for the rest of the day.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

It hit me last week that I have spent a lot of time on this chapter. Today I went back to count and we've had eleven posts on Chapter 5. Eleven! This will be the twelfth. No wonder I'm feeling kind of done with this chapter. So while I usually go with something topical, let's power through, okay? I'm done with Chapter 5, and there is green grass over the horizon in Chapter 6 and beyond. Tally-ho!

Open Thread: Inventing Things That Already Exist

Husband asked me to stop by Wal-mart today because we're getting low on toilet paper and Wal-mart is the only one who carries our preferred recycled-content brand. The lot was full and I kept circling looking for a space. My brain process went something like this:

They need to make something like "20-item checkout", only for parking spaces.
Like, a 20-minute visit space for people just wanting to pick up one thing and go.
'Course, you'd have to do something to ensure people didn't abuse it. 
But having spikes come out of the ground and pierce your tires at the 21 minute mark seems harsh.
Maybe they could just boot your car after 20 minutes and you could pay to get the boot removed.

And that was the point at which I realized I'd invented metered parking spaces. Which, in my defense, are a rarity in Texas, but still. I have used them once or twice in my life.

Do you ever invent stuff in your head that you later realize already exists? Writing plots can and do count here. OPEN THREAD BELOW!

Tropes: The Problem With Bjurman

[Content Note: Rape, Stalking, Guardian Abuse, Sexist/Demeaning Language]

Ana's Note: This is the second post in my series on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The post deals with rape and violence against women, and some of the ways in which the books may or may not fall down on the whole "feminist message" thing. I'm going to put the whole post after the jump because the image used in this post -- while probably Safe for Work -- is potentially triggery.

Last week I talked about the Millennium Trilogy and how Stieg Larsson wrote the books -- "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played With Fire", and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" -- from the perspective of a feminist ally who had witnessed a profoundly disturbing rape in his childhood. He seems to have wanted his books to reflect his strong feelings about rapists and abusers of women, to the point where the original title for TGWTDT was "Men Who Hate Women".

Author Interview: Bill Hubiak on "Black Ice"

Content Note: Mental Illness, Schizophrenia

Ana: Today we have Bill Hubiak introducing his novel, Black Ice. I haven't read this book myself, but Bill was kind enough to agree to guest blog about his book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. Bill how would you describe your novel to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your novel about?

Bill: Black Ice is a quick-paced psychological/science-based thriller set in my hometown of Cranford, New Jersey. Physicist Marcie Roselli’s world is reeling out of control after the death of her daughter in a car accident on an icy Colorado roadway. The specter of her dead child keeps Marcie teetering on the edge of reality as she battles to reclaim her own life. When she returns to the New Jersey town in which she was raised, she discovers that her brilliant but psychologically vulnerable niece suffers from the same delusions.

Could these hallucinations be real or are they another manifestation of a disease that ravaged her mother, as well? Is it possible that the voices that schizophrenics hear emanate from another dimension? If so, to what lengths would some go to control the gateways to the multi-universe? What does a secret government program known as the Black Ice Project have to do with her teenage niece?

Aided by a battle-weary Iraq veteran and his peculiar friend, who writes conspiracy books, Dr. Roselli navigates a path strewn with danger to rescue her niece from powerful forces that have targeted the girl or risk losing everything once again to black ice.

Ana: What themes does your novel explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your novel will mean to a reader?

Bill: In the broadest sense, this novel deals with schizophrenia, multiple universes, and secret military experiments. On a more intimate level, Black Ice explores issues of personal growth, redemption, friendship and love. I am especially satisfied with the engaging characters I’ve created for this novel. So much so that one of the secondary characters is the protagonist in my current project. I think readers who enjoy an exciting read that blends thrilling action with humor and a touch of science will like Black Ice.

Ana: What prompted you to write this novel and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book?

Bill: I write to entertain myself and hope others like it as well. After decades on the road, living out of hotel rooms, and reading too many novels that were predictable and disappointing, I opted to craft stories with twists and turns that delight and surprise me. Storytelling has always been an integral part of my success as an organizational consultant/trainer and writing has provided a new media for this talent. I love the early works of Dean Koontz and Stephen King and all three of the novels that I’ve written over the last couple of years are in that genre. Rockstar fame doesn’t interest me much but earning a little money so my wife can retire too would be nice

Ana: If you could compare your novel to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your novel is their cup of tea?

Bill: I think readers who enjoy Koontz or King will like Black Ice. One Amazon reviewer noted that one of my novels was Dean Koontz meets David Baldacci. I found that very complimentary.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other novels? If you have published other novels, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more novels planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different novel or genre?

Bill: This is my third novel. It is not part of a planned series. I am doing something interesting with each book, however. Characters from previous books make very brief cameo appearances in each of my other stories. I have in mind that eventually, I might tie these story lines together. I have just begun working on a fourth book and as already stated my protagonist is a secondary character from Black Ice. I simply fell in love with this bizarre creation (Zeus Cubberly) and wanted to spend more time with him.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your novel for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next novel comes available?

Bill: All three of my novels are on Amazon. The link to Black Ice where readers can read a sample is here.  People can also find me at my website or on Facebook. I do have a blog that can be accessed through my website but must admit that maintaining it is too much like work and interferes with writing my novels. People can contact me through my website as well.

Ana: Thank you, Bill. Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

Bill: Thank you very much for the opportunity to connect with your readers. I look forward with enthusiasm to any comments/critiques/reviews people may be willing to share with me.