Monday, July 12, 2010

Ah, dear Christ.

Somewhere, I stumbled upon this blog today.

Now, I am saddened, knowing that I will never get those three and half hours of my life back.

Still, it was a riveting read. Not recommended for diehard Twilight fans. It will almost assuredly piss you off. But for those of us who spent all the books with a niggling feeling that Edward guy was just kind of...I don't know...creepy, this really is illuminating!

Definitely recommended (if you read nothing else), the post about domestic abuse here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shutter Island

Warning: SPOILERS abound. Do not read this if you haven't seen the movie and actually care about it being ruined for you.

I wanted to call this post Shutter Island the Problem with the Unreliable Narrator, but unfortunately, that in and of itself would be a spoiler, so, well.

I will begin by talking about why I think Shutter Island does, in deed, have an unreliable narrator. The unreliable narrator is a literary device used in stories by both Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie. "The Cask of Amontillado" springs to mind. In it, the narrator of the story tells us all kinds of stuff that ain't actually true, because he's a nut job who's justifying the fact he's about to murder Montreigor (or whatever his name is). It's a cool literary device, and one that until maybe ten years ago, was very rarely used in film.

All that changed with Fight Club. See, before Fight Club, you could be pretty sure that if you saw something on film, it actually happened. Fight Club, however, threw everyone for a loop when one of the main characters turned out to be a figment of the narrator's imagination. (It's worth mentioning that Fight Club was a book first, and also that it's not Chuck Palahniuk's best effort.) After Fight Club, movies with unreliable narrators abounded. It's a little tricky to call this an unreliable narrator. After all film is not really narrated. There can be voice overs and various techniques of that sort, but film is presented in such a way that it invites the idea that it is in fact impartial. After all, I am SEEING it. This, of course, makes the unreliable narrator conceit, in which one gets to the end of the movie and realizes that everything that happened didn't ACTUALLY happen even more powerful. But I SAW it, you think. What?

Okay, so there was Fight Club. There was The Sixth Sense. There was The Village. (Okay, there was like every M. Night Shyamalan movie ever made.) There was The Others. There was The Skeleton Key (to an extent). There was Memento (arguably a step up from Fight Club). There was Secret Window. The list is endless.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that this little nifty plot twist has been DONE TO DEATH. It was cool ten years ago. It's passe now. So I can't help but feel a little disappointed with Shutter Island. Because it was a really freaking good movie. So when I got to the end and the end was, "Actually he's crazy and nothing he said was true," I just felt...disappointed. I really expected something so much cooler.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Insatiable, by Meg Cabot

My best friend Chelsea gave me Meg Cabot's vampire book, Insatiable.

There's a lot to love about this easy read. It's 450 pages, but I read it in a day. It's hard to put down, very funny, and full of inside-vampire-jokeyness.

Meena Harper (yes, the similarity in name to Mina Harker from Dracula is intentional) hates vampires. She's pretty pissed that she has to write a vampire story line into the soap opera she writes for. That's why it's doubly hilarious when she falls for the prince of darkness, Lucien, who is Dracula's son, and the current vampire lord of the world.

The story is essentially the story of Dracula. Meena is, well, Mina. Jonathan Harper is Jonathan Harker, except he's Meena's brother and not her fiance. Lucy Westerna is Leisha (Meena's best friend. Thankfully, she lives and doesn't get like eaten by wolves or whatever and turn into a vampire.) Abraham Van Helsing is Abraham Holtzman and (for fun) Alaric Wulf shows up. (If he's got a Dracula counterpart, I missed it.) Lucien is, of course, Dracula.

This is a nice little spin on the Dracula story. It's chick lit Dracula, which is too cute for words. I liked it all. I couldn't put it down. It was fun.

My only beef, and it's a small one, is that I kind of wanted something cooler from Meg Cabot. This little vampire tale comes off about as well as Avalon High--in other words, all the major players are there, and they do their parts, but somewhere in the middle of the silliness, the essentials are lost. :(

Cabot satirizes the vampire genre. She does a good job. But while she accurately describes what makes vampire romance tick (i.e. it's hot to think a guy is fighting against his nature just because he loves you) she doesn't quite capture the same feeling with her Lucien-Meena romance. Maybe it's because we as readers can tell (spoiler!) it's doomed from the start.

Maybe she should have thrown some werewolves in for good measure?

Or maybe it's just that the story of Dracula is waaay overdone (Salem's Lot, anyone?) and doesn't entirely benefit much from this plasticky revamp (no pun intended).

Overall: A fun, fun, fun, fun read, but nothing new here, folks. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On teenage romances...

Finished the Jessica Darling quintet by Megan McCafferty today. I didn't find myself particularly satisfied. Sure, I wanted Jessica and Marcus to get together after everything that had happened. I mean, I kind of did.

In some ways, I was just pissed off at Marcus. The guy has pretty much walked out of Jessica's life a bunch of times. Her lack of finding anyone else seemed, to me, just sad. Sure Marcus is intriguing, but I'm not sure if that's what anyone truly wants from a relationship--someone intriguing. I just started to feel as if, even though they had this long and sordid history, they hadn't spent much time actually together.

It got me thinking about teenage romances in books (even if Perfect Fifths takes place when they are in their twenties, they still have a teenage romance), and about what makes the culmination of one actually satisfying. One thing that makes it tough, I think, is that most people do not end up marrying their high school sweetheart or forming a lasting connection with them. So the idea is a fantasy to begin with, making it a hard sell to readers.

But, I think, especially in stories where there's been this long, long build up for two people to get together, it's hard to actually get them together without it feeling like a let down. And since I know that the new Jason and Azazel story (which I STILL haven't started drafting, guys, sorry) is going to be about the two of them apart, it made me wonder what in the heck I'm going to do to get them back together. (or, horrors, if they'll even end up together)

Thus far, in the J&A books, I've had the luxury of not really writing a romance story. The main plot of the books has not been getting Jason and Azazel together. They've been together. They've just been fighting to stay that way.

Thus, I haven't had to evaluate a lot of emotional drama, raising the stakes for them in the way that they feel. Now, I think I have to.

One thing that became clear to me at the end of Tortured was that Jason was not the person I would want my younger sister or niece or other young girl to date. Nope, Jason is pretty much a candidate for worst boyfriend ever. I mean, come on, the guy is violent, moody, keeps secrets, and KILLS people. He even almost killed Azazel. The thing is, I am pretty deeply in love with him myself. I think Azazel is too.

In a story, being in love with a guy with deep emotional scars is exciting and romantic. In real life, it's just scary.

I don't know how to heal Jason enough to make a viable romantic lead--the kind of guy I'd trust with a younger sister. But I guess I'm going to try. And on the way, I think there will be some gun fights. Because I do love me some gun fights. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Supernatural Season Five Finale

All right, all right, I'm late with the watching, but last night I took a break from my Thursday night line up in favor of going to The Blue Moon for some beer, Speakeasy Boys, and good conversation. So, I just finished watching Supernatural like fifteen minutes ago.

Well. I'm not going to rehash plot details much. Mostly, I want to focus, like everyone else, on the fact that there's going to be a season six. Am I worried? Yes. Am I glad? Yes. I went into this season thinking it was the last one. (In case you don't know, the show's creator, Kripke, has been saying for like a year and a half that there would only be five seasons of Supernatural. He wanted to go out on a high note, yadda yadda. Then, just recently, they announced there will be a season six, just without Kripke.) I was sad. I like the idea of not having to say goodbye to Sam and Dean.

All that being said...I'm just not sure how this is going to work out. What will they do next year? How do you write a story after you battle the devil and angels and go up against God himself?

For fun, I've decided to imagine what I would do if I were a writer for Supernatural, and was told to pitch my ideas for season six. Here goes:

Okay, the first thing I'd do is let some time pass. So I'd come back, reshow the last scene with Dean in the house with Lisa and Sam outside looking in.

Two years later...

Sam is actually a ghost. He was shot by Bobby, remember? That looked fatal. Lucifer went back in the box, but Sam's body did not survive, and Sam's spirit did not go there. He's been hanging out trying to make contact with Dean for two years, but Dean can't see him. Ben, who is really Dean's son, let's face it, sees Sam. Through some hocus pocus, Dean finally does see Sam.

They'll find out that there's some way they can get Sam's body back, and they have to jump through tons of hoops to do it. That's the primary arc of the season.

Meanwhile, the demons are without Lucifer, wreaking their regular havoc. Dean, who tried valiantly to "go straight" and live a family life with Lisa and Ben, has settled into habits that more closely resemble that of his dad, going on long hunting trips and scouring newspapers for demon activity.

Conflict will arise from Dean's attempts to keep Lisa in the dark and safe (her safety will become big--hell, maybe she's even pregnant or something) and trying to protect Ben from the kind of life he lived as a kid. Ben, of course, who should be...let's see, he was like eight in season three, so we figure two years of the show plus the two years we're skipping...twelve--hmmm... Well, maybe we skip more like five years, putting Ben more like fifteen or something, so he's rebellious as all hell and crap? I dunno. Ben gets into the mix, of course figures things out, and Dean struggles with his role as a father, whether or not to teach Ben to take care of himself or not, with his own issues with his relationship with his dad, etc.

I think I'd tune in for that.

Okay, okay, I stole the Sam is a ghost thing from the last season of Angel. I still remember that moment being classic. "Blondie Bear!"

While I was watching the season finale, I realized something. I'm writing the same story. Jason and Azazel's story is about two people who are destined to be pivotal in the "end of the world." (I think this is why I have to write the new trilogy. I didn't actually have an apocalypse in the last one.) It's just that I've got two people who were teenage lovers, not two brothers.

With that in mind, I'd like to make a list of things that Supernatural did that I don't want to do in my new trilogy.

1. I don't want to incorporate the Judeo-Christian apocalypse literally. There will be no God or the Devil in J&A stories. Ever.

2. I don't want to waste perfectly good opportunities to create epic battles between my two main characters.

3. I don't want to fall into the trap of simplifying the ideas of good and evil.

4. I don't want my characters to have traits that make it impossible for them to grow, just so they're recognizable to the audience. For instance, Dean is always a smart ass and he can't stop seeing Sam as his little brother. In the last books, Jason was motivated completely by his desire for a normal life. In the new books, he will not be.

5. I don't want to create retcon-ish type devices that supposedly resonate with the audience when the audience only experienced it for the first time fifteen minutes ago. Sam's seeing of the toy soldier would have been epic if the toy soldier had been referenced in the first episode of the show. Instead, it was mentioned in a flashback at the beginning of the last show and then used in a decisive moment. I call this CHEATING!!

Kay. Well, I'm off to watch The Vamp Diaries and Happy Town now. Happy Friday all. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Video Blog

Here's my very first video blog. The show I'm talking about in the first couple of minutes was called Moonlight.

The sound seems to be a little off... Don't know why that is. Anyhow, enjoy for what it is.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Town

Happy Town may be the best horror TV show of our generation. It's genuinely creepy, extraordinarily suspenseful, and delivers truly unexpected plot twists. It reminds me of Twin Peaks, but with a little less goofy charm and a little more of a sinister edge.

What's it about? I don't know. But there's a bunch of unsolved kidnappings, a murder, a young police officer with a face like apple pie, a strange goat hammer, forbidden teenage love, some enigmatic person named Chloe, a sheriff who's gone nuts, and lots of weird underscoring by Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."

Head on over to your favorite streaming site and get caught up. I'm definitely hooked.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kristin Nelson has some interesting things to say about self-publishing

I headed over to Kristin Nelson's blog today. She's a literary agent that I've submitted to in the past. I like her, even though she doesn't even send out form rejections, just never replies if she doesn't want to represent you. Bah! Still, in a dying industry, with far more authors than contracts, who can blame her?

Anyway, I was shocked to see this on her blog:
"1. In general, I have no problem with writers giving out material for free to build a following. I’m a little bit leery about having an entire novel out there for everybody to read but it’s not going to destroy your chances of doing traditional publishing later. In fact, if you can track the number of downloads and can prove that thousands of people have voluntarily downloaded and read your novel, well, that just might be an interesting way to catch an editor’s attention. It would probably catch my attention. However, it would have to be verifiable—as in we can’t just take your word for it.

2. Another possibility is to have the writer serialize the work (as in only give portions of the work at a time to a subscription list) if intending to pursue traditional publishing later for that same work. That way the work in its entirety isn’t easily available online.

3. Along the same line of thought, a writer might put a novel out there that will always be available for free and use it to platform a totally different second novel that the writer plans to use to explore the more traditional publishing route.

The above discussion led (as you can imagine) into what we thought about self-publishing a work to build a similar audience. As self- publishing becomes more professional, accessible, and easy to manipulate, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if writers were to explore this as a possibility."


Crazy, right? The times, they are a changin' people! If you'd told me six months ago that I'd see a statement like, It wouldn't surprise agents if authors explored self-publishing as a possibility, I would have freaked out.

It's just a matter of time before agents switch tactics. Rather than getting publishing contracts, agents are going to switch to being marketeers for authors. The publishing industry is dying, dying, dying. There's no other way to explain this kind of crazy about-face from an agent like Kristin Nelson.

Huzzah! Viva la revolucion!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Renee and Harrell, a husband and wife team that writes together under the name Renee Harrell, graciously and hilariously have done a little write up on me at their blog. Here:


Now, before you hop over there to read it, scroll down and check out some of their other posts as well. They are quite entertaining reads, which only can be good for their books, right? Then, check out this link: and bookmark it! Check back for further updates. Their YA book Something Wicked isn't available until August, but it sounds wicked awesome. I know I want to read it. (And especially, especially, I want to read The Athiest's Daughter!!)

Cheers, all!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Vampire Blogs: Underworld

This is part of a series of blogs I'm writing on vampires in literature and film. This is not a review, per se, so SPOILERS may be revealed. Read with caution.

I saw Underworld in the theaters, and I don't remember exactly how it came about. I remember I went alone, and I remember that the movie caught me by surprise. It seemed to have come out of nowhere. And I was amazed by its brilliance and creativity.

It's not often that Hollywood allows an original genre film to get made. Underworld was not a novel or a comic book. It was an original script. And boy was it different than any other vampire movie I'd seen.

For starters, Underworld takes it cues not from teenage angst, like its 1980s precedents, but from fare like Highlander or Forever Knight, where the supernatural is operating beneath the veneer of the regular world, and where it has its own codes and societies. Furthermore, Underworld plays up vampires and werewolves, two creatures that go together well, and creates its own beautifully realized history and mythology.

The movie works, and it works well. Its structure is quite well done. We follow Selene, a vampire assassin, who hunts down and kills werewolves (called Lycans in the movie). She believes that werewolves have killed her family and wants revenge. Then this really hot guy shows up, and Selene falls in love with him, and because of that, she starts asking questions, and her entire world unravels.

It's amazingly awesome. We know nothing about the world in the film, but pieces are revealed, bit by bit, until we are given the full scope of it, from the complex ruling class of the vampires to the rebellious Lycans, to the fact that Selene is really just being used by the vampires.

I think I love this movie so much because it really watches like an early Laurell K. Hamilton novel. There's so much detail put into the world. It's visually stunning. And on top of all of that, it's really a love story, and a love story about forbidden love to boot. (If you haven’t guessed by now—after 230,000 words about Jason and Azazel—forbidden love is my favorite kind.) Plus, did I mention the guys are really hot?

The sequel is nothing to write home about. It's an action movie with very little character development. The prequel, however, Rise of the Lycans, is a tragically beautiful story about doomed forbidden love, which made me cry. (I kid you not.) I hear there's a fourth film in the works. I hope it doesn't suck, but I'm not crossing my fingers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 14

Just a few thoughts upon finishing the episode.

The TV show has long played hard and fast with the source material, so that it really doesn't much resemble the original books. This new twist--Katherine, alive, roaming the earth but unconcerned with the Salvatore brothers--really kind of rubs me the wrong way.

Okay, I really didn't like the first book of The Vampire Diaries, by L. J. Smith, which was all I read. Mostly, I just hated Elena. However, I do remember that Katherine, in the books, commits suicide because she can't choose between Stefan and Damon. Far from being a horrible bitchy vampire, she was much more morally ambiguous, causing pain to the brothers, but apparently unable to help herself because of her love.

And in this, and this only, I really think that Smith is trumping the series with a much more complex idea. Evil Katherine vs. good Elena??

In the books, it was morally ambiguous Katherine vs. morally ambiguous Elena.

Don't get me wrong. The book was still horrendously plotted and disgustingly overwritten, but maybe there was a reason I hated Elena. Maybe L. J. Smith was going somewhere.

It's almost enough to get me to pick up The Struggle again. Almost.

The Vampire Blogs: Near Dark

This is part of a series of blogs about vampires in literature and film. This is not a review, per se, so SPOILERS will be discussed. Proceed with caution.

If The Lost Boys loses ground because it fails to take itself seriously enough, then Near Dark is prevented from being a great film for failing to have any fun with vampire mythos whatsoever. Near Dark hit screens the same year as The Lost Boys, so both have a 1980s feel to them. Near Dark is even scored by Tangerine Dream, the same people who did the music for Legend (another movie that seems like it should be good, but is simply lacking something). But Near Dark is no happy 80s romp across the vampire landscape. Instead, it is a heavy film, full of dread and despair. Its greatest sin is its ending, which reverses so completely the overall mood of the film that its impact is severely flawed.

Near Dark is the story of Caleb, a teenager who lives out west somewhere. The depiction of western American life is dreary and lifeless. The filmmakers definitely capture the boredom of small town America. When Caleb meets Mae, an attractive girl, who seems like trouble, but is actually really, really sweet, he falls for her immediately. So much so that he lets her bite his neck. Agh! He's a vampire.

But, no, sorry, this is Near Dark. Therefore, becoming a teenage vampire is serious business, which leads to going on the run with a group of vampire drifters (including Mae, the only one who's nice). The film makes a show of finding out what makes these vampires tick, and even of being somewhat sympathetic to their plight. We feel very sorry for poor Caleb, who doesn't want to kill people. And there is also a little boy vampire, who feels very alone. The other vampires are sort of forgettable to me. I haven't seen the movie in quite some time, but I do remember the pervasive feeling of dread that underlined every scene. The situation was one of no escape, of constant travel, and of being a monstrous outcast for all time.

It's this attitude that makes the film pure gold. That is a new and interesting take on vampires. There is no mythic lore to discover, no history. It is simply is. And it sucks. (No pun intended, of course, because there are NO PUNS in Near Dark. This is bad, folks. Very, very bad.)

At this point, the film begins to run off the rails. I guess the writers suddenly realized they didn't have much in the way of a plot, so they drummed something up. The little boy vampire whose name is Homer (according to Wikipedia) decides he really likes Caleb's little sister Sarah and wants to turn her into a vampire. Caleb is against this, of course, but Homer is determined. Sarah somehow gets captured. Caleb's dad shows up and manages to rescue both Caleb and Sarah and then…

The film jumps off the track and becomes totally stupid. Guess what cures vampirism??

Blood transfusions.

Yeah, seriously, it's that simple. And it doesn't even have to be a big deal blood transfusion in a hospital. You can just rig one up in your barn. Presto-chango! You're cured.

I think what really held the 80s back in terms of vampire lore was their insistence that vampirism was something that had to be cured. (Okay, maybe not in My Best Friend Is a Vampire, but usually.) Once the idea of vampirism is embraced by a story and not treated as a problem to be solved, then creative ideas can really get going. (But I think I'm starting to compose the blog entry on Underworld, so I'll stop there.)

The end of the movie follows a predictable fight between vampires and humans, with vampires all getting killed, except Mae, who is allowed to get a blood transfusion, be cured, and live happily ever after with Caleb.

See, the problem with this ending is that it's not happily ever after. When Caleb began the movie as a teenager in western America, he was far from happy. Now he's returned to the same miserable existence. If the movie had, at the beginning, made Caleb someone who was searching for true love, then this ending would be satisfying. If the movie had made Caleb someone who craves adventure, but then realizes adventure isn't all it's cracked up to be and wants a simple life, that would also make this ending satisfying. However, the bleakness of the entire film begs for a different ending. You can't end a movie that is so completely a downer with a happy ending. It doesn't fit. Happy endings have to be set up somewhere earlier in the story. Just saying.

Overall, Near Dark is a must-see for anyone who loves vampire movies. It has moments of extreme beauty, both visually and emotionally. But the ending? Yeah. Terrible.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Vampire Blogs: The Lost Boys

This is the first of series of blogs I'm planning to do on vampires in recent literature and films.

It wasn't the first movie I saw about vampires, or even the best, but it's been one of my favorite films of all time since the moment I saw it. Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys is a seminal piece of vampire literature, revolutionary in its own way, while also towing the party line and spitting out a great deal of trite trash in its wake. The movie is campy, witty, beautifully shot, haunting at moments, and even, on occasion, a little creepy. It's truly a puzzle of a film. While The Lost Boys doesn't have much going for it in the way of an original plot, its phenomenal look, sound, and feel catapults it to the status of classic.

The Lost Boys calls to mind immediate images. Kiefer Sutherland in his leather getup, his face slightly sinister, but boyish and charming at the same time. The vampire lair, with its Jim Morrison poster, trash can fires, and tapestry curtains. It also has a distinctive sound. There's nothing that compares to its haunting theme song, "Cry Little Sister," with its enigmatic (and vaguely incestuous) lyrics and that chilling children's chorus crooning, "Thou shalt not die."

But The Lost Boys is also a movie that features lines like, "You're a vampire? Wait till Mom finds out." The movie features a splatter-gross ending, complete with, yes, "death by stereo." Furthermore, the big reveal at the end of the movie is "the blood-sucking Brady Bunch" and a crazy Grandpa vampire hunter.

These things hardly seem to fit together. And yet, somehow, they do. The Lost Boys is more than the sum of its parts. It's a hodgepodge little movie that seems to transcend itself at almost every turn.

There's nothing new about its premise or plot. It encapsulates the eighties teen vampire film, borrowing the basic premise of First Bite and My Best Friend Is a Vampire. This is the essential trope of vampire and werewolf movies dating all the way back to the 1950s—the vampire as a metaphor for teenage sexuality. Being a teenager is rough, what with puberty and attempting to interact with the opposite sex. Who of us doesn't feel monstrous at some point during adolescence? It's not a new idea or a new metaphor, but The Lost Boys does manage to put its own spin on it.

Sure the plot elements come at their usual plodding pace. Michael, a new kid in town, goes to hang out with a motorcycle gang of bad boys who are in trouble with the law. Typically, he does this to impress a girl. While hanging with them, he is tricked into drinking blood and throwing himself off a train bridge. Cue the after-school-special-type message. "Drugs, motorcycle gangs, and loose girls are bad news, kids. Just say no."

And indeed Michael is punished for his rebellious teenage ways. The penalty is a craving for blood, floating in his bedroom, perpetually wearing sunglasses, and being attacked by the family dog.

The second plot line of the movie follows Michael's little brother Sam. Apparently, the original script was meant to be a Goonies-type vampire send up, with all the characters as eight-year-olds. It's obvious that Sam and the Frog Brothers have their basis in the original script. Though the boys are clearly meant to be thirteen or fourteen in the movie, they really behave like they are much younger, with Sam crawling into bed with mother at one point because he's scared, and with their decision to kill the vampires with super soakers filled with holy water. For my money, the whole last half of the film, after the love scene, is pretty forgettable.

The one cool thing that the movie did have going for it was a bit of a mystery. Who was the head vampire? (Never mind that this business of there being half-vampires who go back to normal when you kill the head vampire is the silliest thing I ever heard in my life.) Max was the main suspect. Well, hell, he was the only suspect. But when he was cleared after eating garlic, seeing his reflection, and not being affected by holy water, it simply made his reveal in the end all that more surprising. It fooled me, anyway. What the heck? I was sixteen.

Joel Schumacher apparently got hold of the script and said he wouldn't film it unless it was about teenagers. It was his idea for the whole of the teenage cast to walk around in ragged gypsy glam, and certainly, as the director, we must credit him for the look and feel of the film, which are absolutely magnificent.

If The Lost Boys reaches for greatness, it can only be in its attempt (probably unconsciously) to comment on male roles in the post-feminist society of the 1980s. The movie features a single mother, whose sons are extremely protective of her. Max, the force of evil in the film, is insistent that "boys need a mother." He has been searching for a woman to complete his family.

Michael's descent into darkness happens because he is attracted to Star. It is his attempt to impress her that destroys him, and ultimately his attempt to protect her that redeems him. Michael may not be the best teenage son ever, refusing to have heart-to-hearts with his mom about his new problem of turning into a vampire. ("I'm dealing with things, Mom. Things you wouldn't understand.") But just try to attack his mother. There's no way Michael will let that happen.

The Lost Boys dives into the gender morass and comes out confused. Pursuing women, it seems to say, is either evil or dangerous. Protecting women, however, is the path to greatness.

In the end, The Lost Boys is a fantastic film, almost in spite of itself. Maybe it's just moments here and there. Maybe the moment when Michael screams, "What's happening to me, Star?" and the moment when David whispers, "Be one of us" are simply acted so well and filmed so well that their inherent cheesiness is absorbed into something really believable. I think we can thank Schumacher for this film. His direction brings something stunning to the material, elevates it higher than itself.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post!!

Hey everyone, I'm guest blogging. Check it out:

While you're there, you should definitely take some time to look around Gabriel Gadfly's site. He's an amazing poet, and quite a cool guy too. There's lots there to love and lots to learn.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Season 1 Episode 11

Well, I finally got the chance to watch the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries yesterday. I really feel like this show is one of the best horror-fantasy shows on television right now, and I'm surprised it's not getting more positive attention for its brilliance.

The latest episode was quite good for a number of reasons. First of all, I think I'm impressed by the character development in general on the show. I like how Bonnie is coming into her own as a witch. She's in a completely different place from the "I-predicted-Obama" girl from the first episode. Loads more depth. And of course, the major triangle of characters is moving right along as well.

It was interesting to see Elena go on this little road trip with Damon. What was even more interesting was to watch her beg for Damon's life. Why would she do that? Clearly, she has feelings for Damon she's not ready to admit to.

Damon's concern for Elena in this episode was clearly sincere. He cares about her too, which is nice. I like it. It's shades of Spike and Dru, but clearly different.

Damon's character is as always, deliciously complicated. He was his disarmingly charming self (sorry, couldn't resist) this episode, but as mentioned, showed a softer side of himself towards Elena. The most fabulous thing, however, was that after watching the interaction between Elena and Damon, it was relatively shocking to watch Damon rip out the heart of his old lover. (Sorry, I keep wanting to call her Jasmine, from when that actress played the anti-christ on Angel). I liked that especially.

Because here we are, thinking to ourselves, "See, Damon's not so bad after all." And then he reminds us that is that bad. That he's a killer, and he's not exactly concerned about who he kills. He's just so darned evil. :)

Finally, I'm interested to see who the heck this girl is that's hanging out with Jeremy.

The only thing I thought was disappointing about the episode was the reveal that Alaric Saltzman was just some vampire hunter seeking revenge for his dead wife. With that ring and all, I really thought he was a vampire. I know, I know, they faked me out, and maybe I'm just bitter. Still, I was kind of hoping he'd be something more interesting.

It's Open Pen Week!!

I got this idea from another author, and I thought it was super freaking cool. So, here's the deal.

The last week of every month will be Open Pen Week on the forum. This is a chance for all of you other writers to share your stuff with each other.

The rules. Go to the forum and click on on Open Pen. Or just follow this link: Once there, click "Post Now" to start a new thread. Post a snippet from one of your stories or novels (or hey, poetry's cool too!) of 500 words or less. If you post a snippet, you must comment on at least one other person's post too.

Have at it, people. Can't wait to read what you're working on!!

(Final note. This is meant to be a showcase, not a critique forum. To that end, when you comment, find something encouraging to say.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Demon Lover

Tomorrow, The Vampire Diaries airs again after a torturous hiatus since before Christmas!! Since my current favorite demon lover of the small screen is none other that Damon Salvatore, I thought it would be appropriate to blog a little about my favorite kind of leading man in fiction: the demon lover.

I think I first fell in love with this kind of anti-hero--the dark, brooding, sexy, tortured, and a lot (or a little) bad boy--when I read Wuthering Heights in my adolescence. Maybe it was earlier. There are shades of the demon lover in Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, which played a huge part of my childhood. Still, I think Heathcliff is probably the prototype and the measuring stick by which I measure all my demon lovers.

The demon lover as a trope of fiction has been popular in all its delicious forbidden-ness for hundreds of years. One of my favorite Coleridge lines is from "Kubla Khan": "A woman wailing for her demon lover." The image just sends chills down my spine. I adore it. There's something about the idea of a man who's not exactly wholesome that it utterly delectable. What could be better?

In recent fiction, vampires have filled this role nicely. Who could forget Lestat from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. He wasn't always very nice, but he was always sexy. And I positively love the character of Spike in Buffy. His arc from villain to love interest is one of the most intriguing on television.

For myself, I haven't been able to escape dropping demon lovers throughout my fiction. I think Jason qualifies, with his dark past and violent secrets. In Death Girl, Trevor is brooding and secretive. He can't shake his dreams, which are blood-tinged and disturbingly erotic. And my current work in progress is the ultimate culmination of the demon lover. A guy named Dannic. Here's a snippet from my opening chapter:

The room was a makeshift bedroom. A four-poster bed sat against one wall, its covers falling off onto the cement floor. One rug sat in the middle of the room, topped with a wooden square table. Several liquor bottles were clustered on top of it. The General himself sat in front of an open fireplace. His back was to the door. Gycia could only see his dark hair, which fell down to his shoulders in knotty curls.
"Leave her," said the General.
The door banged shut behind Gycia. She swallowed again.
The General didn't look at her. "Gycia Dunne," he said.
So he knew her name. And his voice sounded different. It wasn't nearly as deep as it was on the vids. He must have distorted it in the interviews, somehow wanting to keep his identity secret. Still… There was something about his voice. It was familiar, just the same. Where had she heard it before?
"You can get yourself a drink if you want," said the General, still not looking at her. "There are glasses on the table next to the whiskey bottles." A pause. "No ice, I'm afraid."
He was offering her a drink? Should she take it?
Yes. She should. If she was going to be viciously raped by a monster, she'd rather be drunk while it was happening. Maybe she could get enough drinks in her to vomit all over him. It would serve him right. She lurched toward the table. The men hadn't tied her up. She was free to move. But she was still shaking. She was terrified.
"I know you were always partial to frozen drinks," said the General.
Gycia stopped dead. How did he know that?
"Daiquiris, if memory serves," continued the General, and she could tell from the tone of his voice he was smiling. But it sounded like a cruel smile. It was a cruel voice.

Heh, heh, heh. Is redemption in the cards for Dannic, or is he a monster through and through? I'm having loads of fun finding out.

I'll be tuning in for my Damon fix tomorrow, that's for sure. And here's the hard sell: buy my books. I've got yummy, tortured guys waiting for you inside those pages. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's wrong with me??

Today, as I was working on my WIP, a futuristic romance story in which the battle of the sexes has become a literal battle with guns and everything, I realized something disturbing.

I write about rape a lot.

Well, I don't write specifically about people who have been raped, but there are lots of near misses with sexual violence and muddy incidents of consent. And I keep putting this in young adult fiction. What the eff is wrong with me?

Understand, I feel that rape is horrible, that it's real, and that its victims are often too confused and too ashamed to know how to deal with it or to even ask for the help they need to deal with it. I have never, in any way, wanted to trivialize such a serious issue by using it as a mechanism to move my plot forward. And I've never thought, while planning out a book, "Oooh, where will I put the sexual violence in this one?"

And yet.

Let's look at the evidence stacked against me. In Breathless, Azazel is nearly raped by Toby, who needs to have sex with her in order to bind her into the Satanic circle. Jason, after killing the Sons in Aunt Stephanie's house, is an emotional wreck. He begins violently kissing Azazel and rips at her clothes. (Then he stops, of course.) In Trembling, Sutherland is a serial rapist-killer (although, in my defense, I was reading The Lovely Bones while I was writing that book and let's just say I am not the only person who writes about sexual violence in entertainment, okay? I won't even bring up the needlessly sensational rape of the therapist in The Sopranos). In Tortured, Azazel has a disturbing dream about Jason and afterwards, he nearly forces himself on her until she makes him stop.

In Death Girl, the supremely disturbed Jared manipulates both his English teacher Ms. Trask and Maureen into bed. Ms. Trask is so freaked out by it that she kills herself. Trevor, the main guy, is pretty disturbed himself. He gets sexually excited when he has dreams about mutilated women.

And finally, in my current work in progress, the supremely disturbed Korin is convinced that the only way to reverse the current matriarchal society is to show women that men are boss by using brute strength and by tying them to men by impregnating them.

Ugh. Wow.

All right, so, why am I doing this? Am I insane?

One of my ex-boyfriends and I were once talking about rape in entertainment. He wasn't a fan. He said that rape was cheapened and sensationalized in the media and that it was appalling. For this reason, he wouldn't watch I Spit on Your Grave with me, which was a bummer, I argued, because I said the movie was undeniably powerful for what is billed as a crappy horror flick, and unsettling to the extreme. (If you're unfamiliar with I Spit on Your Grave, it's a 70s horror flick, originally titled Day of the Woman. It features the longest rape scene in movie history, clocking in somewhere around 45 minutes. It also features a kick-ass chick hunting down each of her rapists and killing them in really gory ways. Someday, I may write at length about that movie, but today is not that day.) I maintained that he was uncomfortable with rape in entertainment and in the movie because he was frightened that he'd find it titillating and that would make him feel ooky. I said that there was no way that anyone could find I Spit on Your Grave titillating. It was simply too horrible for that.

And here's where I think I can explain why I keep writing about rape. For me, it's the absolute most terrifying thing I can think of. I've imagined what it would be like. I think it would be something like being tickled. Okay, no wait, hear me out. You know how when you're a little kid and someone bigger than you holds you down and tickles you? You know how horrible that is? Like, at first you struggle and try to say, "Stop!" You fight and fight and fight. And then there's a moment where your spirit breaks. You realize you have no control. You can't stop what's happening to you. And something in you just goes a candle being snuffed out. You lie there resigned to your fate and the tickling just continues and continues. But you don't care anymore, because you're broken.

That's what I think it would be like. Except the person doing it to you wouldn't be someone who mistakenly thought tickling was pleasurable because it produced laughter, who was playing a mean-spirited joke for which they'd apologize for later (maybe). Instead, it would be someone who didn't care about you at all. Someone who just wanted to use you. Maybe someone who wanted to break you.

That, for me, is scarier than dying.

I've been very influenced by the horror genre. I wouldn't say that I'd categorize my books as horror necessarily, but I do routinely feel the need to put my characters in the worst possible situation I possibly can. Why? Because that's what makes a story good for me. When I watch a character go to the deepest, darkest place possible and nearly be swallowed by it, but somehow manage to vanquish the monster and come back stronger, then I feel like I've experienced something somewhat transcendent. That is what story is to me.

But if I keep using rape as that deep, dark thing, it's going to stop having its power.