Monday, September 19, 2016

"Dreamless" fancast, Vol. 1 - starring Elle Fanning, Lucas Till and Charlize Theron

So, I have a little bit of a confession to make - I love fancasts, especially for my own writing. Because I'm great at knowing what the inside of a character's head is like - I can tell you all about their complicated relationship with their families, what their stance on a certain issue/situation would be, and possibly even share a hilarious childhood memory or two if you ask - but I'm not that great on picturing the exact arrangement of their facial features in my head.

So I'm starting fancasts for my latest book, "Dreamless," because I like having the pictures in my head and thought maybe you would to. I'm also including a brief explanation as to why I made each choice, because as a movie critic I know that looks are far from the only indicator of whether a person is the right fit for a role. As always, I welcome any arguments or alternate suggestions.


Elena - Elle Fanning

This was, surprisingly, my simplest choice, though I'll admit that (other than the hair) it came as something of a surprise to me. Still, it's a perfect fit - she looks like she has too much knowledge behind her eyes, and there's (red carpet) photographic proof that she can do Elena's "ice queen" routine with the best of them. But whens she smiles she looks really young, light and happy, and I think she'd do a really good job in those moments when Elena is allowed to tap into that. Also, she's actually 18, and I really didn't want to fall into that trap of casting a 25 year old as an 18 year old.

Cameron - Lucas Till

This was actually a considerably harder choice. Though Till is older than I would have preferred (26), I can't think of another young actor that I know of who could pull off Cam's easygoing charm, his attempt to make it look like he doesn't care about anything, and the deep anger and emotional commitment he's also capable of. Also, I believe he could play a harassed little brother as well as a responsible older brother, which you'll find out is important when you meet Cam's family.

Queen Illiana - Charlize Theron

I know that Theron has been making her mark as an evil queen in movies lately, but I think she could pull off a good queen as well (and besides, Illiana did study to be an evil sorceress at one point). Elena's mom has a lot of emotion she has to deal with throughout the story - her grief over her husband, her complicated relationship with her daughter, her super complicated relationship with her older sister, the stresses of queening all on your own - and Theron has proven in various movies over the years that she can pull it off. Also, as you can see, she has the regal stare thing down.

(Note: For those of you who pay attention to things like what the author says the hair color of various characters is - not that you have to, I myself blithely ignore it in several of my favorite books - "Dreamless" sort of became my "book of the blonds." I realized I didn't write many blond characters, and then look what happened.

It wasn't until the book was published that I realized I also wrote a lot of white characters, a fact that I addressed in my e-book "Two Left Feet" - out now, by the way - and in the full-length novel I'm currently working on, "Piper's Song.")

There are several other significant characters in the story, so more of these will be coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Talk to me, people

What do I have to do to get you folks to start posting reviews of my books? I don't need them to be fancy - just star ratings, either on Goodreads, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. On Amazon you can post a review if you're signed in to your account,and with Goodreads you can even sign in with your Facebook account. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just a star rating and a few words on what you thought about the book. Even a sentence would do it.

I'm serious - these reviews can mean life or death for an indie author. I am begging you all on my hands and knees. I will bribe you if you want - just tell me what kind of treats you want me to give you. "Two Left Feet" has ZERO reviews at the moment. ZERO! Please. Just take a minute or two out of your day. Anything would be welcome.

EDIT: The search links for both "Dreamless" and "Two Left Feet" have been fixed on their Goodreads description pages. If anyone runs into any more troubles, please let me know.

Two Left Feet:
Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 15, 2016

Growing up for the kids’ sake

There’s nothing that matures you faster than having to take care of someone smaller than you are.

Because let’s face it, most of us aren’t that great when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We know everything we should do to keep ourselves happy, healthy and relatively functional, but we tend to ignore the bits that we don’t have time for or we feel like are too hard for some reason. It’s even easier to ignore if the problems it causes aren’t immediately apparent, because it’s much harder to worry about 10 or 15 years in the future when you’re focused on making it through a particular day.

But when you have a kid, or become responsible for a kid for some reason, suddenly it’s much harder avoid thinking about all the things you should be doing. Or, more specifically, all the things that someone should be doing for this particular child, who is relatively young and innocent and still feels like they should listen when people tell them what to do. Horrifically, you have somehow become the person who’s supposed to pass on all the advice you’ve been happily ignoring for years.

Which means that you not only have to remember all that advice, but you have to figure out how to sort out the useful information from the random fads that get news sites all excited on slow news days. Because this child hasn’t lived long enough to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s complete nonsense, so you have to figure out how to do it for them.

Even though you’ve (probably) been successfully avoiding a Healthy and Responsible Life (tm) for several years, it’s your job to explain to this child how to live that kind of life for themselves. Because you may have opted out, but they’re not old enough to make that choice for themselves yet.

Which means, unfortunately, that it’s your job to choose for them until they can. You have to learn how to watch out for those moments when they’re screwing up, and figure out how to get them back on track. Even more importantly, you need to be on the lookout for dangers they haven’t figured out yet, or you forgot to tell them, and help keep them from falling into them. As a bonus round, you also have to figure out when you need to start letting them make choices on their own so they learn how.

On top of all of that, you have to be a good example, because this kid is going to look up to you. No matter how ridiculous you are, all this child is going to see is a loving and responsible adult in their lives. They’re going to want to pattern themselves after you, often zeroing in on the traits you least wish they would notice and immediately copying them. Which means that, even if you don’t particularly worry about keeping yourself healthy and safe, now is probably a good time to start.

It’s not for you – it’s so your favorite small person doesn’t start making all the terrible decisions you’ve been happily making for most of your life.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Two Left Feet" available July 29!

My new e-book, "Two Left Feet," is finally up in various formats and available for pre-order. It's my take on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," which has always left me so full of questions. Was it really so bad the girls wanted to go dancing every night? Was murder really the best option for all those poor random guys? Who got all 12 sisters to agree on all doing the same thing at the same time, even if it was just dancing? Why do most variations of the story make the hero the random soldier guy instead of, oh, I don't know, the actual princesses who the story is named after?

So, as is my usual habit when I'm left unsatisfied by a fairy tale, I wrote my own.


What do you do when you're one of the 12 Dancing Princesses but are really, really bad at dancing? For Thea, it was a choice between boredom and accidentally maiming her dance partners, and she wasn't terribly fond of either option. But just as the nightly dances start to get interesting, their father hires someone to discover his daughters' secrets and stop their nightly adventures. Can Thea and her sisters figure out how to keep the party going?

Read or download an excerpt here

Pre-order now:

Barnes and Noble

Monday, June 27, 2016

Down but not out

No matter how bad your mistake is, there's no possible way it
can be as bad as Hugh Jackman's decision to look like this.
We all backslide sometimes.

No matter what goal we've set for ourselves, there will be times when we trip and fall flat on our faces on the way to achieving it. It's not the same thing as not trying – we all know when we're only pretending, and when we give it up it's almost a relief. Most goals never make it past wishful thinking, or conversations with friends or co-workers.

It's when we're actually trying that it really hurts. You have to have covered some ground before backsliding becomes noticeable, fighting your way through that first hump of "why did I say I'd exercise every single morning" or "I'm still counting the hours since my last donut." It usually hits when you've finally gotten into the swing of things, when that early frustration and despair over what you're  denying yourself has faded into something almost like hope. When you find yourself starting to think that, somehow, you might actually be able to do this.

But then something happens.  The day gets so busy that suddenly you're going to bed and you realize that you missed your exercise routine for the day. We swear to ourselves we're going to stop smoking, but then work turns into a nightmare and we get so stressed out there's suddenly a cigarette in our hand. We're at a party surrounded by all the fats and sugars we were so careful avoiding, and our self-control finally snaps like a twig. Between one breath and the next, it feels like we've undone every bit of the progress we've made.

Here's where it gets tricky. Maybe the reason is because you feel guilty that you've stumbled, and the thing that you usually use to comfort yourself is probably the thing you're trying so hard to stay away from in the first place. Or maybe the guilt turns into a shame spiral, and you decide suddenly that you were a fool for setting whatever goal you were trying for. You tell yourself you were a fool for ever trying it, that all your hard work has just gone down the drain, and there's nothing left for you but to give up on all of it.

The bravest thing you can do in these moments is ignore all of that and keep going. Yes, you screwed up, but the truth is that you're probably going to screw up several more times before you make it anywhere close to your goal. Even the best baseball players don't hit the ball every time they're up to bat, and even the best actors and actresses in the world will occasionally go out of their way to make a really, really terrible movie (I'm looking at you, Hugh Jackman). Everyone fails.

But you can't let that stop you. It's not the fall that everyone will remember, it's what you do next – you could lay down on the ground and bemoan your fate, or you could get back up again and keep charging forward. If you get knocked down – even if it's by yourself – don't stay down.

In the end, that's all success really means.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cover reveal: Two Left Feet

In honor of my birthday today, here's the cover for the new e-book I'm going to release this summer, "Two Left Feet." It's a twist on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," except our poor heroine can't actually dance at all (and get dragged along by her sisters anyway). Still, she's a clever girl, and manages to find plenty to do anyway.

Barring some sort of hilarious cosmic disaster, I plan on having it available on a variety of different platforms by Aug. 1.