Book Club Update

Hello to my three readers. Have you tried out any of the nerdy book club options yet? I want to know how it goes!

Between attending Awesome Con in DC, followed by my husband’s birthday, I lost track of days and missed posting last week. Oops. You can count on me missing a few more as I move again in August, but more on that later.

Today I have another Mercy Thompson book club downloadable for you! Check out more on the Nerdy Book Club page for more!

Click for full size!

Also I drew another mandala because I needed a brain break.

Moana!

 

Nerdy Books

Last week I participated in a discussion about favorite books with a massive online nerd community. The responses were varied, but out of the 100 or so nerdy women who joined the conversation, one book had more recommendations than any other: The Name of the Wind.

Let’s talk about Patrick Rothfuss. How has this one author managed to capture the mind of so many with his books? If you don’t know, Rothfuss is a massive nerd, active in the nerd world with things like Tabletop. He knows Wil Wheaton, Felica Day, and other cornerstone participants of the nerdom universe.

I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a convention. First, that man can swear fluently. Second, he’s hilarious. Third, he happens to inspire other writers to put in the hard work and get it right. He doesn’t cut corners (notice the third book in his series is still in progress), and he doesn’t try and scam aspiring authors with false hope.

Rothfuss is unapologetically himself—I mean have you seen him rock the beard? He recognizes other authors and their work, he works on a non-profit called Worldbuilders to assist those in need, and he interacts with his fans on a macro and micro scale. Hell, even George R. R. Martin is a fan of his work.

“Worldbuilders is the charity I founded when I realized that geeks were startlingly empathetic and caring people, and, when given the chance, they will charge out in force to make the world a better place.” -Patrick Rothfuss

The funny thing is, I don’t enjoy much high fantasy, and yet his novels are too beautiful to ignore. His books are great, but HE makes them even better by being the kind of author we should all aspire to be. Turns out when you care about the person, you care about what they do all the more.

But back to the discussion of favorite books from a community of lady geeks. I took the time to compile a Google doc with all the recommendations and how many times they were repeated in the thread. With over 290 titles listed, as well as genre and author, there’s something for everyone.

How many have you read? Check out the list here!

If you would like to edit or make notes, please make a copy of the spread sheet to your own personal drive. Cheers!

 

Book Club—Ready Player One

A new month and a new nerdy book to analyze! What is nerdier than a book jammed full of game and pop culture references from the 1980’s written by a self proclaimed full-time geek of an author? Maybe Wil Wheaton.

I present Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Discussion questions are up and ready for you to explore. It’s all about developing your skills as a writer while you read—you can’t do it incorrectly!

Jump over to the Nerdy Book Club page for the full line up of available books to choose from, and some simple instructions on how to get started if you’ve never run a book club before. Don’t worry, it’s easy! You can even do it online from the comfort of your computer, no real human interaction is necessary. Perfect for us introverts!

 

Two Person Foursome—Ladybug & Cat Noir

Look away. I have no excuse. I’ve reached maximum embarrassment while I completely geek out over Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. Thanks for nothing Netflix.

Don’t watch it. You’ll be mildly disgusted and judge me like crazy, but let me break down the finer points. Basically, it’s a gender bent Spider-Man and Catwoman. Ladybug is really Marinette —an accident prone high schooler who happens to be obsessively in love with fellow classmate (and model) Adrien. Cat Noir, whose super hero costume looks like he walked straight out of a BDSM club (not complaining), is—you guessed it—the very cool, kind, and popular Adrien himself.

Except neither of them knows it, and as soon as they transform into their alter egos, alter they do.

Adrien turns into a showy, flirty, pun filled, over confident ass as soon as he adopts the guise of Cat Noir. It’s not that he loses his charm entirely, but he over compensates for the careful restraint he keeps in his public life as Adrien.

Marinette, however, finds her new notoriety as Ladybug to have an opposite effect, and wears her literal mask with pride, bringing out her leadership, self-confidence , and cool control under pressure.

Normally there’s only one Ladybug, but even when duplicated she doesn’t fight herself and gets to work.

And so brings in the shows coolest hook. You have a love square with two people. Marinette is in love with Adrien, but Adrien is in love with Ladybug. Ladybug, however, dismisses Cat Noir’s childish advances because her heart is hopelessly devoted to another…who is actually the man behind the mask. Meanwhile, Adrien is oblivious to Marinette’s attention as no one can live up to the awesome Ladybug in his heart and mind, but the show has kept their secret identities a true secret from every character—a rarity in this style of entertainment. What ship doth a fan sail with in this fandom? Ladrien: because Marinette is at her best when she’s the calm and collected Ladybug, where as Adrien is his best without the mask.

This French superhero anime (no really, it’s a French show, done with classic anime nods, and a twist straight from superhero comics) is surprisingly well thought out and sophisticated… at least if you look past animated inconsistencies, horrible dialogue (English dub, can’t say anything for the original French), and REALLY cheesy enemy motivations. But some of the “whys” behind the show are neat. Why a ladybug? They are a sign of luck, so her special power is a lucky charm oddball item that ends up saving the day. Why a black cat? They are a symbol of bad luck, and so his special ability is to destroy. Together they balance out and make the ultimate Yin Yang duo.

See what they did there? This is the super power hub of sorts.

The first season has some issues, but sets up what could potentially be a really fun and decent series. I hope a second season is coming because I would watch the hell out of it and torture my husband by walking around the house singing “MIRACULOUS!”

I mean, I already do that, but it will give me an excuse to do it more. Much, much more.

 

New Book Club Available!

Head on over to the Nerdy Book Club page and check out the discussion questions for Patricia Briggs’s Moon Called.

Several of my fellow writers are interested in approaching a series, but series are notoriously hard to get right. Here we will examine a successful series and see what we can learn.

Is the Mercyverse a perfect example? Heck no, but it’s a good one, and one you may not have read before, so it’s a great place to start. The first book in an ongoing series is especially tricky. Pay close attention to what Briggs does right, and where she misses a step. There’s a lot we can learn by spotting the mistakes of others. Follow along with me to absorb all we can while we tackle the first three books in the Mercyverse.

Best of luck my fellow writers! We can do this!

 

Flash Fiction—Haunting Hell

Hell wasn’t what I expected. No fire, no brimstone, no torture; well, no torture in the traditional sense. Waiting on entitled customers marked high on my personal meter of Hell-on-Earth, but I never thought it would literally be the case.

In the endless halls I passed rooms of obscure retail shops: the ones you only notice when you go on vacation and then never find again. Punished souls inhabited bodies like they’d put on suits for work. This was only the first level of Hell—I didn’t want to wander too deep into the maze.

Oops. One of the demons spotted me darting through the shops. The thing is, demons are not red-eyed evil monsters with a burning hunger for human flesh. They’re more like hall monitors on a power trip. He jabbed a finger against my sternum and noticed my marks. He was cute, so I didn’t mind.

“Oh, you’re one of them. Follow the rules. Don’t get in the way.”

“OK. What’s your name?”

“Why?”

“Because you’re the first person to help me.”

“No, I didn’t. It’s Glen.”

“Thanks, Glen. I’m Bea. You’ve been here for a while to make demon status, how much longer until you move up?”

“We don’t talk about it. Now get out of here before I change my mind and assign you a spot.”

For once my feet moved before my mouth did. Still, I couldn’t find her. I’d lost track of time. There was no day or night here, and as a soul I couldn’t judge by my heartbeats or breaths. I hadn’t had time to adjust to my new state, let alone the new surroundings. My family up top had been so disappointed, but I had to follow my heart, even when it led me to Hell.

Another store flashed by on my left, but there were no souls tending it. The emptiness called to me. Had the punished soul slipped through the wards? I tiptoed inside. It was an antique shop, but children’s toys had been scattered, ruining a display. By habit I nudged them into a basket.

“What are you doing?” A ninety-year-old woman grabbed my arm, or the soul inside her did. I panicked, forgot the wards, forgot I was a soul, forgot the rules of Hell and broke her hold to burst through the front door. It wasn’t until I was halfway down the street that I realized I was a free ghost now. I’d found a way out of Hell! More importantly, I’d also found her!

I returned to the shop as fast as my see-through legs could carry me.

“You aren’t supposed to be here.”

Now that I knew what to look for I could see Annabelle’s face shine through the guise of the elderly woman’s skin suit.

“We promised we’d see each other in Hell. It’s not my fault you died ten years before I did.”

“That’s not what I mean. You don’t belong in Hell. You should be up there.” Luckily the store was empty, so it didn’t look strange for her to be conversing with air or gesturing wildly.

“No, we made a promise.”

“We also promised we’d tie up Captain America and keep him in our basement. Somethings we said for fun.”

“I’m not leaving my best friend to rot in Hell alone!” I balled my hands into fists. “I never thought you’d really end up here.”

“Are you kidding? You know what I did. Who I did.”

“But you aren’t a bad person.”

“Bea. Stop. You can’t be here. Go back up.”

“No. There are special circumstances for souls like me.” I held up my arms, allowing them to shine. The imprinted filigree looked like white tattoos scrolled all over my skin, marking my choice to follow her into the darkness.

Annabelle brushed the marks, tears forming in her human suit’s eyes. She couldn’t touch me, but her soul did behind the borrowed flesh. “Why?”

“We promised. I don’t mind being here”

“You idiot! This is Hell. You can’t…you can’t—”

I hugged through the suit to Annabelle’s soul. “Besides, I can leave when I want. And I don’t actually have to work. I can sit around and laugh at you. Does that help?”

She snorted and cleared her throat. “Never mind, now I don’t want you around.”

“Also it’s not really eternity. Just some reconditioning. A little community service for past indiscretions.”

“Out. I’m done with you.”

“I’ll go find some hot spirit guys to lounge with while you’re tortured. Add to the humiliation.”

“You’re the worst.”

“Best friends for life.”

“And death apparently.”

I grinned. “I’ll have to get Glen in on this. You’ll like Glen.”

“Who’s he?”

“Demon friend.”

Annabelle palmed her face. “You haven’t changed.” The door chimed as a customer entered.

“Nope. Now get back to work.” I turned to the customer, who couldn’t see me or hear me as I didn’t have a suit. “Welcome to Hell!”

Haunting was going to be fun.

Ready, Set, Restart!

plot board

Plot Board of Rising from Ashes

After two years of wandering aimlessly through the online world, I’ve managed to hone my skills with the irreplaceable help of some fellow writers and nerdy friends. Not that I’ve come far enough to pierce Kevlar yet, but I’ve got a damn good shot at cotton now. In the same way that I plot my books, I will now be plotting my site.

In an effort to stay focused I’ll be writing blog posts and interacting on Twitter, while of course still writing my books. I plan to offer guided book clubs where I provide discussion questions on novels relating to my genre to help other writers break down the elements of storytelling and learn to read with a critical eye. I’ll speak about who I am, tips on how I get work done, things I’m totally geeking out over, and some flash fiction just for fun.

While all of that is in the process of being structured, I’ll continue working on Rise from Ashes, the third and final in my Ashes series. I spent eight years on the first novel, much of it needed for a new author’s journey through classic mistakes and hurdles, but I’m too stubborn to give up. Book two, Ashes to Ashes, has a workable first draft completed and ready for a series of edits, but instead of moving forward on those I’ve jumped right into the first draft of the third novel. Once complete the series will be set aside. I’ll continue to query book one, Memory of Ashes, while starting on something brand new. It’s time to move on!

Thank you for being patient while the site is updated and the changes are made. I look forward to seeing this all come together next month!

       T.L.