Monthly Archives: October 2012

Old Book Review: Wolfsbane Winter by Jane Fletcher

The story takes a while to get going. Half of the book is spent showing where our main characters, Alana and Deryn, come from. It isn’t a bad way to go, as their individual stories are pretty interesting by themselves. Deryn is an Iron Wolf scout, a mercenary. Alana is a noble with the powers of an empath. Both, through their own circumstances, land in the same out-of-the-way settlement for the winter. Despite their best efforts, they start to fall in love, but of course, there’s obstacles in the way of their being together.

The plot is fairly basic, and much of the story focuses on Deryn and Alana’s blossoming relationship. There’s a basic plot going on that isn’t really anything to write home about, but serves as a nice framework for the romance. Jane Fletcher does a nice job writing a story with lesbian protagonists. Often times, you’ll get stories that focus on their sexual preference as a conflict–meaning it’s either a coming-out story, or it’s a woe-is-me-I’m-homosexual tale. In this case, the characters just so happen to be gay. Fletcher establishes that without a lot of hemming-and-hawing and moves on. It’s really refreshing.

The story stands well on its own, but I wouldn’t mind reading of more adventures from these characters. Overall, Wolfsbane Winter is a great romance fantasy.

Get it now on Amazon!

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Abuela, te quiero.

My grandmother passed away today. It wasn’t an unexpected thing. She was 82 years old and severely depressed after her partner in life, my aunt, passed away last December. She was very strong and very brave to have lasted as long as she did. I’ve quickly learned that the thing about death is that it’s more about the living—because the dead are dead, no matter how they got there. My grandmother lived a good life, and she was at peace in her final moments. It’s the living I find myself crying for—my mother, my brothers, my uncle, myself… But I want to believe that this time I can do right by her memory and not fall apart.

Watch me not fall apart.


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Inklewriter – Choose Your Own Adventure…and Write Your Own Too!

I came across this site after exploring a way to write a “choose your own adventure story” without wanting to rip my hair out. It all started after playing a CYOA called Zombie Exodus, which you can try for free on your Android phone. I don’t know if it’s available on iOS, but you can get the game on Google Play—first two chapters (which are quite meaty and have tons of replay value) are free. Third chapter onwards is just $0.99 to play. Great deal right? The writing is pretty good too.

Anyway, back to Inklewriter: So after getting inspired by Zombie Exodus, I came across this site which essentially serves as an HTML5 app for those wishing to write their own CYOAs. I’m starting one at the moment titled, “Wolf Skin.” I’ll just let you guess at the subject matter. If I ever get something concrete going (there are just so many story paths, omg!) then I’ll post a link here. Until then, you can check out the site yourself and maybe even write your own interactive tale. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Florence and the Machine Live – October 5th

Me and Aprilfish caught some VIP tickets for a Florence and the Machine concert in Mountain View, CA’s Shoreline Amphitheater. I was drunk and emotional so I apologize for my caterwauling, ha ha. Anyway, here’s the goods!

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In my most recent podcast, I mentioned that I was going through a lot and learning a lot about myself as a person. I know I must’ve said this a thousand times before, but I think it is even more true now. I’m making serious decisions about my health, my lifestyle, and dealing with a lot of emotional wounds, both old and new. As some of you may remember, Halloween is my favorite month, and I have a particularly high interest in the macabre. I don’t have co-morbid idealizations mind you, I just think zombies and werewolves are fucking awesome. Sometimes I feel like a little monster myself. My friend, Aprilfish, will probably scold me later for saying that (check out her awesome hug in my Return to Cali post!) but I gotta say it. At the least, I feel like a ghost in my old life, and a shambling undead in my new life. Where do I go? Where do I fit? Yeah, yeah, yeah, roll your eyes. I’m young and going through THAT phase. Meanwhile, I’m still just a spirit haunting old haunts:

That, however, was not why I wanted a zombie tattoo on my right shoulder, nor was this some sort of plot to piss off my family or my husband (though I still managed the latter by accident). The above tattoo was originally artwork from Bernie Wrightson, an EC Horror veteran who is perhaps best known for his late ’80s comic adaptation of the classic tale of Frankenstein.

The concept for the tattoo didn’t come to immediately. My good ol’ buddy Aprilfish helped me figure out what it was I really wanted. I had all sorts of ideas…another X-men tattoo, a tattoo of my astrological signs (Sagittarius and Dragon), or maybe even a silly tattoo of my favorite game of all time, Team Fortress 2. But among these ideas was one for a sort of old school horror inspired tattoo—something comic book styled that would work well in black and white, something with the supernatural: zombies, werewolves, witches, even vampires (which I’m not a fan of). I wanted something inspired from the 40’s and 50’s EC Horror comics. Given that this is Halloween month, the direction seemed clear, especially given the almost visceral emotions I’d been feeling since returning home. That was when Aprilfish pulled up this little gem:

Not to sound cheesy, but this piece immediately spoke to me. It was beautiful to me. Many people would not use that word to attribute to this artwork, but that’s how I felt. The way the undead rises from the ground, head thrown back, palms up toward the sky, free of the burden of both life and society. This is a beauty based in a grisly fantasy…or maybe it’s the reality. Since coming to California I’ve been struggling with my identity as everyone around me talks about the “real” Illise Montoya. It made me feel alienated and angry. What image was I failing to satisfy? What role was I neglecting? As far as I was concerned, who I was–an open bisexual with liberal political views and a love for horror and fantasy–that was IT. That was the reality! But some people here at home didn’t respond in very nice ways, and it got me thinking…FUCK other people’s “image” of me. Maybe the “ugly beauty” was the reality they needed to deal with.

But to be fair, I’m in a transitory phase. Today’s me could be tomorrow’s Casper. And that very well could be the case. After much drama and debate, I have decided to stop taking my anti-depression and anti-anxiety pills. They are just messing with my mind and my life too much. I want to find a better way to live. Surely some of you have been through this, or have an idea of what this is like?

The last meaning this artwork held for me was obvious. As you all know, my Aunt died last December, and I’ve been struggling to deal with it ever since. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but my grandmother, my abuela, has been having severe health problems after her recent surgery. My family is essentially waiting for her to die. My mother hides her pain well, but it leaks through her “image” like blood through a mask. In the end, what the above image made me feel was relief. A sort of acceptance of death. That despite a person’s demise their “true beauty” lives on in the memories of those that loved them. That’s why I had the tattoo artist, Adam from Creative Visions, put in Latin beneath the tattoo, Venustas Immortalis, which means, “Eternal Beauty.”

Anyway…I hope you guys have a better idea of what it is I’m going through down here. It was also just a nice opportunity to brag about my new tattoo. Oh yeah. My husband…he didn’t like it. I sort’ve forgot to tell him that I was getting it (I’m sorry honey!) But we talked about it, and things have been smoothed over. He’s decided to name my zombie ‘Fred’. I think I can deal with this.

It’s the other stuff I’m worried about!

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I got some ‘splainin to do…

Video is wonky for some damn reason. First few seconds glitch, then starts up. Youtube chewed it up. I’ll do a new one and post it, but for the most part I hope you guys get the gist of what I’m trying to say:

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Old Book Review: Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick


Among Thieves was an impulse buy one day when I was at Borders looking for some other books. I’d seen it on the “New Sci/Fi-Fantasy” shelf, and was intrigued by the cover. A quick read of the back enticed my curiosity further, but I still wasn’t sold yet. Juggling this book along with the books I’d originally been looking for, I sat down in a corner and began my usual process of elimination. When I’m in the market for a new book, I usually have three or four in mind. I compare them against each other, weighing such details as cost, length, writing style, and genre. In this case, Among Thieves was competing with three heavy-hitters: Two books from a favorite author of mine, and one based on my much-loved topic of pirates.

But upon reading the first thirteen pages, I was struck by how awesome the story was. With little effort it seemed, Douglas Hulick established a great protagonist, Drothe, and a fascinating setting, Ildrecca. The language feels authentic, and has an almost “noir” quality to it that you don’t often find in a fantasy adventure. There’s magic, there’s sword fighting, there’s intrigue, there’s true grit…Really, what doesn’t this story have?

To briefly summarize things, Drothe is a Nose–a name for a man who “noses” up delicate information and tricky artifacts–who is looking for a particular relic of value. The story literally opens up on a torture scene, though Drothe isn’t the one doing the torturing. (He doesn’t like it, but seems to have found himself needing to hire an “Agony Man” for this particular job.) Drothe is one of the Kin, an underworld of thieves, assassins, and other shady professionals. They are widespread throughout Ildrecca, a large and dangerous city under the rule of an emperor whose soul is split into three and has reincarnated perpetually for centuries. Any imperial relics from any of the emperor’s past incarnations is worth quite a bit on the street, and that’s what Drothe is trying to hunt down. Only things didn’t go as planned, thus where we come in.

Athel the Grinner, the man being tortured, eventually lets slip a single name, “Ioclaudia.” Drothe is confused by the name, but goes looking for answers, and what he finds instead leads to a struggle for his life and the fate of the Kin–possibly the entire empire.

There’s enough twists and turns in this book to keep your interest up throughout, and as I’ve stated, the characters and the setting are all superb. The action keeps an even pace, there’s the occasional humor, and plenty of suspense and drama. Yet it’s all well-balanced, all well-timed, and you are never made disappointed by the ride.

Though the book ended on a well-rounded note, it appears this is a part of a series (the series itself being called “Tales of the Kin”). I haven’t heard of a new book from Hulick, nor am I entirely certain if the series is meant to be continuing the adventures of Drothe, or if it’s a collection of loosely related adventures with different protagonists based in more or less the same setting. Either way, I wouldn’t mind more.

So…my verdict?

If you like fantasy adventures, noir crime stories, and conspiracy tales, then PLEASE read this book. Just read it. Now:
Buy Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick on Amazon now!

My favorite thing said to me today, taken completely out of context: “Cthulhu has no interest in controlling your uterus.”

—Carrie Vaughn

Read her awesome WordPress blog by clicking here!

Random Quote: Carrie Vaughn and Cthulhu

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Return to Cali


I recorded my arrival into SFO two days ago after nearly 8 hours traveling. I was elated to see my parents and best friend waiting for me. Aprilfish, aka Emily, had the best reaction in the world! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Quick set up: Kitty Norville is an “out of the closet” werewolf who hosts her own syndicated late night radio talk show about the supernatural and all the things and people related to it. In the tenth installment of this series, Kitty has been invited to be the keynote speaker for the world’s very first International Conference on Paranatural Studies, taking place in London. Now enjoy the quote… ๐Ÿ™‚

“Uh, hi, Kitty. Thanks.” He was male, laid back. He sounded kind of stoned, actually.

“You have a question or comment?”

“Yeah, so this thing’s in London, right? You’re going to London?”

“I think that’s what I’ve said about a dozen times over the last hour in a shameless bid for self-promotion.”

“Right.” He sniggered, like he was suppressing giggles. “So that’ll make you”—more sniggering—“an American werewolf in–”

I cut him off. “I’m sorry, I seem to have lost that call. And I’d better not hear any Warren Zevon references either. Sheesh, people. Let’s break for station I.D.”

I had a feeling I was going to be hearing lots of cracks like that over the next few weeks. I didn’t need to start now.

From pg. 13 of Carrie Vaughn’s, Kitty Steals the Show. Buy it on Amazon!

Read Carrie Vaughn’s fun blog here on WordPress!

I’m sorry, I seem to have lost that call.

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