Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Release Day: THE PREDATOR: Hunters And Hunted (Official Movie Prequel)

It's a very special release day here in which Jim adds to the canon of The Predator franchise with the release of this thrilling prequel to the movie!

The official prequel leading directly into THE PREDATOR. Introduces key concepts that will explode onto the screen in the movie. 

For centuries Earth has been visited by warlike creatures that stalk mankind's finest warriors. Their goals unknown, these deadly hunters kill their prey and depart as invisibly as they arrived, leaving no trace other than a trail of bodies.

When Roger Elliott faced such a creature during the Vietnam War, he didn't expect to survive. Nor did he expect that, decades later, he would train the Reavers, a clandestine strike force attached to Project Stargazer. Their mission: to capture one of the creatures, thus proving its existence, disassembling its tech, and balancing the odds between the HUNTERS AND HUNTED.

The Predator, Alien, and Aliens TM & © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble  |   BAM!  |  Indiebound

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Strategy Games and Martial Arts in SFF Worldbuilding

When I was in Denver for the RWA National Conference, my friend and writing buddy, Darynda Jones, and I took a lunch break at Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace Hotel. While there, I spotted this guy and snapped a pic. It seemed like a good omen, because I finished THE ORCHID THRONE during our mini-writing retreat there, and now (finally!) am going back to THE ARROWS OF THE HEART. This image is highly relevant to the story, for those of you who've studied the cover. 

Once I finish this blog post, I'm diving back into THE ARROWS OF THE HEART. It gave my own heart a little stab to see I haven't opened the document since March 20, 2018. That's over four months ago. A third of a year! Where has it gone??? I have no idea. 

Anyway, our topic this week at the SFF Seven is: If you had to invent a sport or game for your novels (or ever have), what would it be?

It's probably telling about me personally that I've invented several games, and a couple of martial arts systems, for my books - but never any sports. I'm so not a sports girl. If I were to invent a sport, it would probably be something forced on children where they're forced to deal with objects flying at them at speeds as fast as the scorn of their peers is scathing.

Not that I'm scarred or anything.

Despite my early clumsiness in all things Phys Ed, I later discovered Chinese martial arts - and studied with a school for over fifteen years. I drew on that practice in Tai Chi Ch'uan, Pakua Chang, Hsing-I, Shaolin Temple Boxing, and others, to build the martial system that's part of the worship of Danu in The Twelve Kingdoms, The Uncharted Realms, and even in The Chronicles of Dasnaria. (Fun fact: Jenna's dance, the ducerse, is a modification of a Pakua form that can be performed as a slow dance with saucers of water or lit candles.)

Invented martial systems are a terrific way to flesh out a world in SFF. Many draw on religious or philosophical tenets (as mine do), along with the physical training and more aggressive applications. A character devoted to a martial practice like these will have their entire worldview and choices informed by that. 

I've also invented a few strategy games, such as kiauo in THE PAGES OF THE MIND. That game serves several purposes in the story. The shape of the game board and the pieces give important clues to the culture and what they hold sacred. The game itself allows communication between two people who don't speak the same language - and they build an understanding of each other through it. Also, a strategy game gives character insight in the same way martial systems do. Strategic thinking occurs in more places than on a battlefield. 

Sports can do this, too - JK Rowling's famous sport of Quidditch being a prime example. Come to think of it, it IS a way to torture children and subject them to the scorn of their peers, isn't it? TOLD YOU. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Flipping the Topic

The topic this week was expressed as something along the lines of ‘how to make a kid hate reading.” Well, nothing on Earth has the power to make me hate reading and if a child likes books to begin with, a few bad or laborious or boring or centuries old books won’t put them off the entire concept of reading for the rest of their lives!

By the time I encountered Charles Dickens (my personal least favorite author in the entire world) and Leo Tolstoy because somebody somewhere decided I needed to read these doorstopper tomes in order to be a complete and well-rounded student (yeah, right), my love for reading what I wanted to read was well established and had already survived my mother’s disdain for comic books (hello Magnus Robot Fighter and Brothers of the Spear). I read voraciously, I always have and I plan to keep doing that as long as Iive.

No one’s going to come after my high school diploma if I admit right now to only skimming Little Dorrit and Bleak House and Anna Karenina, right? Because I may have written book reports based on reading the first chapter and the last chapter and a few things in between. (We didn’t have Cliff Notes in my day.) I was wayyyy ahead of my time on the whole DNF thing.

And then I’m sure I went right back to reading my endless supply of Trixie Belden books and Andre Norton science fiction adventures and more.

I don’t like Shakespeare either. So sue me. And pass me a book with a nice satisfying Happy Ever After.

I read all of The Aeneid and The Odyssey in translation. I read Last Days of Pompeii (although I suspect the erupting volcano was a big part of the allure – I love my disaster stories), which was published in 1834…I read The Three Musketeers endless times. I can read classics if I find them interesting on a personal level.

(Which reminds me of that line from ‘Cutting Edge’ where D. B. Sweeney’s character says sarcastically, “Doug can read.” Yup, me too. Can we talk movies now instead of huge, boring books???)

I like ‘Scrooged’ and “The Muppet Christmas Carol”… just not the source material.

Returning now to my gigantic To Be Read List...

Note: All photos from DepositPhoto

Friday, July 27, 2018

What I Hate: How Long You Got?

Holy horse feathers. Whose idea was it to make me think back to high school AP English? That class taught by the dude wearing suits from the year I was born. That teacher who liked to get aggressive and tell me I wasn't the best writer in his class. That class where it was all I could do to not shout back that so long as I stayed in his class I'd never get any better as a writer, either.

Woo. O_o This will not be a pretty stroll down memory lane, y'all. So you know how Vivien doesn't have time for hate? S'okay. I picked up what she set down and I have ALL the detestation and loathing. Not for individual books. Much. I mean to this day I don't see the point of Catcher in the Rye or the book about the idjit kid who shoves his best friend out of a tree. On the other hand, there were books I really, really liked. The Plague. A Clockwork Orange. I still have a soft spot for The Most Dangerous Game and The Lottery.

No, here's my hate-rant.

We were instructed to read privileged, long dead white male authors. As if there were no other perspectives on earth. No other views of the world or how we exist within it. How do I know the authors were privileged? It's all in their bios. They all went to college, which in the time(s) most of them were writing meant privilege. I don't mean to say we shouldn't have read some of these guys. Some of them were brilliant writers. Give me Mark Twain any day. But why not Harriet Tubman? Would it have killed anyone to ask us to read a black woman's words? To let us catch the most fleeting and horrifying glimpse of her world? Would anyone have been scarred forever to learn that the white, European male perspective isn't the only one on earth? Apparently it would have because books by women or people of color weren't even offered as options on the alternate reading list.

It took until I got to Evergreen State College for someone to begin pointing me at literature by people who didn't look like me. The Color Purple by Alice Walker is still etched into my head. So are some of the really contentious discussions we had around the themes of the story.

Here's the interesting thing. The discussions in AP English classes were boring. No one got heated. In fact, there was actually precious little 'discussion'. Yeah, yeah, here's what the book was about. Sure, cool imagery, bro, but a sentence with 123 words? Really? Isn't there a drug to help with that? But once discussion turned to something like The Color Purple  in college - those discussions were ANIMATED. No one was bored. I think it was because our worlds and our perspectives had been challenged and we were unsettled by it. We had to talk it out. That, to me, is what makes great literature. If a book can shake you up *just* enough - then the book won.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Looking Back To The "Classics"-- Rereading my Problematic Fave

So, here's a thing that's been happening on my Twitter the past couple weeks:
At what point does something become a "classic", and how do we bestow that honor?  And when a book has a generation between when it came out and now, how does it read in the present?

These are questions I've asked myself as I've dug into a re-read of The Belgariada series that was very influential to me in my youth, but I hadn't read in years.  And how does it hold up?  How does it not?  How problematic is my problematic fave?  I've been digging into this as I re-read and livetweet the re-read.  Sometimes you have to tear down a classic, even one you love.

You can follow along with the #Belgariad hashtag, or here's a threadreader roll-up of everything so far.   Right now I'm about midway through the third book, and I've been going along at about a book a week.  (Though expect me to get a bit behind next week, because Many Things Are Happening.) 

It's all been a very interesting and enlightening process.  A lot to unpack in it all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ain't got time for hate

This week at the SFF Seven party-in-a-blog, we're talking about books that we loathed, specifically those classics that teachers or mentors forced upon us and threatened us on pain of Fs until we read them.

I studied literature in college, so yeah, I read quite a few things that I didn't especially dig. But I was also a stubborn and spiteful child, so fairly often I'd choose to write papers on the worst fictional offenders, the books I initially loathed. Which meant I had to read them again. And again.

And you know what happened sometimes (most times)? On about the third reading, I'd crack the bitter nut, peer inside to the meat, and realize the deep parts of that book were actually delicious.

I remember specifically that happening with a a half dozen Russian tragedies (hello, Anna Karenina), everything I had to read by Goethe, and E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News. The thing about literary classics that suck superficially is that there is subtext. So if you dig deep enough, you will find something else, especially if the author has done a good enough job layering to have a book join the literary canon.

These days, no one is forcing me to read, so I read what I want to. Sometimes it's layered, high-protein, literary nuttiness. Sometimes it's deep-dish genre pizza. Sometimes it's birthday cake fluff consisting mostly of icing and sugar flowers. Sometimes it's just a snack, a cookie, a lollipop, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get confectioner's sugar joy ride.

Because these days? I don't have time to read a book twice or thrice before I see its beauty. And I sure don't have time for hate.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Release Day! The Captured Spy by @KAKrantz

Dear Readers, I am thrilled to present the third book in my Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series, with the fabulous cover by Gene Mollica Studios.

Immortal Spy: Book 3

Sometimes the Fates give you a do-over.

Ten years ago, Bix and her team of Dark Ops agents had a mission to rescue one of their own. The mission went pear-shaped; her team died, she was exiled, and the package was never retrieved. The guilt for that failure is a weight Bix can’t shake…until she receives news that the agent is still alive and in possession of technology that could destroy the Mid Worlds. All Bix has to do is break the captured spy out of a top-secret supermax facility and destroy the tech before enemy forces beat her to the punch.

Unfortunately, a prison built of potent magic to contain the Mids’ worst deviants isn’t on any map or radar. To get the necessary intel, Bix will resurrect a menacing identity and reach deep into the criminal underbelly where her legacy is far from forgotten. Old enemies lurk in the shadows, swift to strike. Even the darkness can betray her. As her allies fall, Bix will have to rely on the aid of adversaries to complete her mission. But supermax does strange things to the mind, and some things cannot be undone.

Gods will perish when madness descends upon a captured spy.

Available Now!
in eBook and Paperback
Amazon   |  iBooks   |  B&N   |  Kobo  |  Overdrive (for libraries)

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Old Man and the Sea

I have to say, I absolutely loathed that book.

Why? Because nothing happens and there's no cast. There is virtually no interactions between characters and the pacing is, well, to be kind, glacial.

I get it, lots of symbolism.

Din't care. It might be a masterpiece but I hated it. I'd rather read a hundred pulps than one more book like The Old Man And The Sea. I rather liked some of Hemingway's other works, despite being forced to read them, but I have not even the faintest affection for the novel in question.

That's all the time I have this week. I've just gotten married and I'm rather busy adoring my new wife.

Keep smiling,


It took  us a while....but we got there.