FANGIRL! Birds of Prey

Hi, kids–

Quick Friday note. I’ve rediscovered comics, and I’ve been following DC’s Birds of Prey (one of a few series I follow).

Under the guidance of writer Duane Swierczynski, the Birds are kicking butt and taking names. Barbara Gordon, who some of you probably know as Oracle in earlier incarnations of the Birds is busy as Batgirl under Gail Simone’s writing chops. So Swierczynski paired Black Canary with a BRAND NEW character (is my understanding), and she had me at “hello” in the New 52’s version of Birds.

Starling (AKA Ev Crawford) is a mixture of streetwise and world-weary; cocky, assured, fun-loving and brash. From my reading of her, she’s got some issues under the surface (an ex-girlfriend [????] who makes an appearance in #5), but it’s still too soon to tell. She’s the hellraiser of the Birds bunch, balanced by Black Canary’s more pragmatic and steely side, along with the enigmatic Katana and the unpredictable Poison Ivy (who Starling refers to as “crazy plant lady” or “crazy salad lady”). I’m really digging Swierczynski’s work on this, creating a team of unlike but wholy likable characters (even crazy plant lady has some cool aspects) who manage to work together to kick some serious ass.

Starling already has a cult following. You can find her on Tumblr like here, here, here, and here and she gets lots of luuuv from fangirls and fanboys over there.

At any rate, I’m totally enjoying this series and it’s pretty much because of the Starling character. So if you like kick-ass women like that and you’re a comic geek, maybe give Birds a try.

source (re-sized here)

source (re-sized here)

source (re-sized here)

source (re-sized here, and that’s Swierczynski’s site)

Happy Friday!

Call to Arts with Neil Gaiman

Hi, groovy people–

This might be viral-ing around writer world, but I wanted you to see it if you haven’t already. This is author Neil Gaiman‘s recent (as in, May 17th or thereabouts) commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

It’s about 20 minutes long, but he’s a wonderful speaker as well as writer and his message, I think, will hit home for all artists, writers, creator-types, tinkerers, wanderers, eccentrics, irreverents, and anybody else who ever thought “what if” and then followed that little hint in the back of the mind to see what was over the next hill.

Source for the vid

Happy Friday, happy writing, happy dreaming!

“A Matter of Blood” wins a Rainbow Award

Hi, kids!

I’m pleased and honored to announce that the second book in my space opera series, the Far Seek Chronicles, won a Rainbow Award.

That would be A Matter of Blood.

source: and Bedazzled Ink

Here’s the link with the complete list of winners in every category.

Here on my site, you can read an excerpt from A Matter of Blood here.

And you can go here to see where you can purchase it, if you’re so inclined.

Wow. Feels good. Congrats as well to my fellow authors who also won Rainbow Awards, and to my fellow authors who received honorable mentions. Write on!

Walking Dead, Season 2

Greetings, earthlings–

Whew. Majorly hectic week. I know we all have those, but gads what a pain in the you-know-what.

Anyway! Zombie Saturday! Time to talk about a super-cool show!

October 16 brings us the premiere of season 2 of AMC’s Walking Dead, the TV adaptation of the graphic novels of the same name. If you’re a zombie fan and you didn’t catch this series last year, OMG get yourself caught up on it. If you haven’t run screaming from Netflix yet, you can get season 1 via that route if you don’t want to buy it. And if you’re a newbie to the show, AMC has a good rookie guide here. For those of you in the know, here’s the season 2 trailer.

I highly recommend Walking Dead for a variety of reasons. One, the make-up and effects are great. Two, the characters are well-drawn and the acting is really good. Three, great dialogue and pacing. Four, if you like horror/thriller stuff, this series will bring it in buckets. Excellent tension build-up in a variety of arenas: zombies, other (and not so nice) survivors, and drama between the characters. I think that’s what really distinguishes this series from your basic run-of-the-mill zombie scarefest. The very human interactions and drama that go on between people who are trying to negotiate new boundaries and ways of interacting in a world that has gone completely batshit.

That’s what really hammers this series home in terms of apocalyptic scenarios (in this case, zombies). How people deal with it. It’s not a hopeful “yay we’ll survive” kind of thing. The people that inhabit Walking Dead survive not necessarily because they think there’s something out there that will bring redemption and safety, but rather because they don’t know what the hell else to do. They’re reduced to the very basics of mammalian urges: to live, whether it’s a good idea or not. You also see the different ways that different people adapt to the new circumstances, and whether or not old internal moral codes hold and if so, how does a character enact them and why? What’s the point of maintaining a sense of ethics? That’s something a few of the characters struggle with, perhaps because to them, doing so anchors them to themselves and to a past that no longer exists, and it’s part of the way they feed their survival urges. But it’s also an interesting examination of what makes us human, and why that even should matter in a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested society.

And on October 3rd, you can catch a webisode — an inside story derived from Walking Dead. For those of you who caught season 1, remember the first episode when Rick leaves the hospital and he’s wandering around and comes across that zombie in the park who doesn’t have legs and she’s crawling along and it’s really kind of sad? A six-part webisode gives you her backstory. Her name was Hannah. So check back on October 3 to catch that.

Sure to be good stuff.

And also, if you get a chance, do catch a zombie walk/crawl if there are any scheduled in your local communities. Many are also charity events — that is, to participate, the organizers might request that you bring a can of food or donation for a local charity/food bank. Then have a party. You’ll see some great costumes (even if you don’t dress up yourself) and people just really get into it. Most also have after-parties, and those are way fun, too. It’s a good way to blow off some steam, tap into your dark side, and show off your mad costuming skillz!

And don’t forget, some hardcore zombie aficiondos out there are planning 3-day zombie apocalypse events. For info on that, go HERE.

There you go. Happy weekend!

Goin’ Batty…Batgirl, too!

Tomorrow. TOMORROW Batwoman #1 drops! WOOOOOO!

But keep in mind, too, that writer Gail Simone‘s Batgirl dropped last week.


Let’s get y’all caught up on Batgirl, shall we? The original “Bat-Girl” made her debut as Betty Kane in Batman #139 (1961), as the sidekick to Batwoman. In 1964, she was removed from publication only to reappear as Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl, the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon. That debut occurred in Dectective Comics #359. This incarnation of Batgirl was way more popular than Betty Kane, and she appeared in comics from 1966 through about 1988, until the fateful shooting in the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, at the hands of the Joker that left her a paraplegic and ended up bringing about another transformation of Batgirl.

At the hands of editor Kim Yale and comic book author John Ostrander, Barbara Gordon was reinvented as The Oracle, the awesome info-broker of the DC comic universe and leader of the Birds of Prey. In 1999, Helen Bertinelli (better known as Huntress) assumed the Batgirl identity until Batman ixnayed that plan. However, also that year, Cassandra Cain took the Batgirl identity in the “No Man’s Land” series. Cain’s Batgirl became the first Batgirl to be featured in a monthly comic from 2000 to 2006, when Cain gave up the identity, but she’d reclaim it in Teen Titans only to then pass it on to Stephanie Brown (previously known as Robin and Spoiler), who got her own Batgirl series in October 2009. That Batgirl, however, was canceled after 24 issues.

Whew. Got all that? Okay.

So the upshot is, Batgirl ain’t done! HELL, NO! Like a freakin’ PHOENIX! Here she comes! This time, it’s the original Barbara Gordon reclaiming the identity and here’s the kicker–she’s no longer paralyzed, which brings with it a lot of mixed feeling from a lot of different quarters. Here’s a great discussion between Jill Pantozzi and Gail Simone about that issue.

So not only do we have the super-awesome Batwoman getting her own gig this week, but the return of Batgirl hit us last week.

Comics. Where just about anything is possible.

Happy reading, happy superhero-ing!

Sunday readin’ and watchin’ tip

Well, okay, it’s actually a Sunday readin’ tip and a Monday watchin’ tip.

Tomorrow (Monday) begins the new season of the detective show Rizzoli and Isles, on TNT. The show features Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles. It’s a great buddy cop show, and actresses Angie Harmon (Rizzoli) and Sasha Alexander (Isles) have a really excellent rapport. Not since Cagney and Lacey have I been as thoroughly entertained by a chick buddy cop show as I am by this one.

So what’s in store for the new season? Here you go!

All rightie, here’s a cool thing, and feeds right into the “readin’ tip” aspect of this here blog. The series is based on books by author Tess Gerritsen. Now, don’t think that means the TV series follows the book series exactly. It doesn’t. The first in what could be called the loose “Rizzoli and Isles” series is Gerritsen’s The Surgeon (2001), in which Detective Jane Rizzoli is introduced, working with Thomas Moore. Boston-based, they’re trying to head off a serial killer who seems to have targeted a doctor who survived an attack by a serial killer elsewhere and two years earlier. Rizzoli is not the primary character in this book, but she is a strong secondary character.


You’ll find Maura Isles introduced as a secondary character in one of her standalone medical thrillers, 2007’s Bone Garden as well as in the Rizzoli and Isles books.


So what’s reading Gerritsen’s mysteries like? She’s dark. That is, it’s like reading Patricia Cornwell‘s brilliant first Scarpetta books. Grim but engaging, with accurate medical details because of Gerritsen’s own background — she’s a physician. The TV series has a dark edge, but you’ll find light touches of humor and family that maybe don’t get expressed as readily in the books. I like what TNT has done with Rizzoli’s character, and I like the softer edges of some of the episodes. With regard to the books, Gerritsen is a strong writer, employing excellent craft with an eye for character and dialogue. But it’s not light-hearted work, so if you’re expecting the TV show in book form, you will be disappointed. Instead, think of the TV show as a nice alt-universe for two strong Gerritsen women. Enjoy both books and TV show, for different reasons.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy watching!

Awesomely cool writing tip

This comes from one of my fave bloggers and writer-guys, Chuck Wendig. He can be a little raunchy with the tips, but he’s always right on.

This week, Chuck enlightens us with 25 tips for writing dialogue, and I gotta tell you. I think dialogue can make or break a character, pacing, and a story. Here are some of MY thoughts on that.

What I really like about Chuck’s tips here is that he nails the importance of good dialogue and its role in plot. Here’s a taste:

3. Sweet Minimalism
Let’s get this out of the way: don’t hang a bunch of gaudy ornaments upon your dialogue. In fiction, use the dialogue tags “said” and “asked” 90% of the time. Edge cases you might use “hissed,” “called,” “stammered,” etc. These are strong spices; use minimally. Also, adverbs nuzzled up against dialogue tags are an affront to all things and make Baby Jesus pee out the side of his diaper, and when he does that, people die. In scripts, you don’t have this problem but you can still clog the pipes with crap if you overuse stage directions. Oh, heavy dialect and sland? Just more ornamentation that’ll break the back of your dialogue.

6. Shape Determines Speed
Short, sharp dialogue is a prison shiv: moves fast ’cause it’s gotta, because T-Bone only has three seconds in the lunch line with Johnny the Fish to stitch a shank all up in Johnny’s kidneys. Longer dialogue moves more slowly. Wanting to create tension? Fast, short dialogue. Want to create mystery? Longer, slightly more ponderous dialogue. Want to bog your audience in word treacle? Let one character take a lecturing info-dump all over their heads.

And there are 23 more, just waiting for you to peruse

Happy writing, happy reading!

Cheesy action movie tip

Just saw one of my fave action flicks again–and probably one that most of you have never heard of: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), starring Geena Davis. Samuel L. Jackson plays the awesome sidekick. Some of you might remember her. Thelma and Louise, anyone? Beetlejuice?


“Kiss” is the story of Samantha Caine, a teacher in a small PA town with a nice husband, nice daughter, nice life. Some kind of accident left her with amnesia, so she doesn’t remember who she might have been prior to all of this. Until one day, she’s slicing veggies and some muscle memory kicks in and she goes all kinds of ninja with the veggies. So she thinks that maybe she was a chef. But then some other stuff happens, some nightmares, and then it all comes back. She was a super-trained spy, super bad-ass. And sure enough, her past is trying to catch up to her. She enlists the help of low-rent detective Mitch Hennessey (Jackson), and the two of them make a great pair.

This is a rollicking, action-packed (and yes, violent) ride. It’s in the spirit and tradition of Bruce Willis’ Die Hard movies, and Davis and Jackson basically get the crap kicked out of them and still keep on going, like the Energizer Bunny.

Tell you what, Geena Davis makes a seriously awesome action hero. The dialogue in this is snappy, funny, and the rapport between Jackson and Davis is great. I wish those two had made more movies together. So yeah, this is from 1996. I know, it’s kind of dated. But it’s a heck of a fun film if you like action.


Happy watching, and happy Fourth!

JD Glass rocks! And she’s got a new project!

Hi, kids–

Detracting from my Saturday apocalyptic ramblings to let you know about a super-cool project from JD Glass, the ultra-cool and edgy writer of books like American Goth and Punk and Zen.

source: Bold Strokes Books

JD is a modern-day Renaissance woman. Not only does she write (she’s a 2006 Lambda Literary Awards finalist), but she’s also the lead singer in the band Life Underwater AND she’s an artist of the drawing variety. She’s also an EMT. See what I mean? JD is one of the hardest-working women in and out of showbiz, and probably one of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. She’s also got a ragingly cool new project in the works.

If you’re not familiar with her writing, check out Punk and Zen, which is a great lead-in to her latest project, called Core, a rock n’ roll novella with the soul of a graphic novel and the heart of a garage band.

source: Outlines Press

I have this feeling that you’re going to want to check this out, because what it does is what a really cool DJ mix does: two seemingly disparate elements seamlessly fused together into one helluva performance reading experience. Reading and looking through Core is like going to see your fave punk band at New York’s CBGB back in the day, when you wore your leather biker jacket and your black Converse high-tops with your skinny jeans and ripped Ramones shirt and you freakin’ spazzed your head near the stage, screaming “I Wanna be Sedated” at the top of your lungs. It’s your favorite artsy postcards taped right next to your concert ticket stubs, a novella/scrapbook/picture book that I guarantee will make you dig in your closet for your Converse and Wayfarer shades.

You can pre-order your copy now, via PayPal.

And for those about to rock, I salute you!