One Hell of a Monday

June 25, 2012

And for once, I mean, "One hell of a Monday" in a good way.

1. My free fantasy novelette, The Dangers of Fairy Compacts, is available to read at the Goodreads M/M Romance groupd's LiaW event today. If you don't like reading in your browser, you can also download the story at GR as a mobi, ePub, pdf, or zipped html file. (If you don't usually like reading in your browser, I'd definitely recommend GR's reader, which uses the ePub. I checked it out last night and it looks great.)

Eventually I'll make this one available at other outlets and for download here--and it'll always be free. But for the first few weeks it's going to be GR only. I'll give a heads up when it goes elsewhere, though.

2. Anyone happening by as of yesterday may have noticed a new shiny in the corner or on the By the River page. I was going to wait a while, seeing as I have awesome fairy news, but I couldn't help decorating the site with it. Meet the most excellent(ly hot) cover for By the River, coming in late July from Loose Id:

Cover art by Mina Carter

This is the conversation that happened in my head when I saw it:

Adam (tattoo guy): Oh wow. They gave me Kevin Sorbo pecs. The best.
Leith (guy in back): That's hot. All you need is a kilt. [He has a thing.] ... Do I look like that?
Adam: Actually, yes.
Leith: O.o

This is the conversation with my brother that happened when he saw it:
Me: They look like big Minecraft players, right?
Nick: Totally Minecraft players!

Because yes, there is a scene where Adam and Leith are playing Minecraft. There is much discussion of killing chickens and meatpops that made Editrix Raven snort, apparently. Which is totally my brother's fault.

Needless to say, I love this cover. It is absolute win. Pretty river, pretty boys. I'm all:

Prettyfae and Wingsex

June 20, 2012

Fairy compacts may be dangerous, but they sure are pretty.

Here's the cover for my upcoming Love is Always Write story, The Dangers of Fairy Compacts, with art by the ever-awesome C. Bernard.

Want to know a little more about Aeron and Tam before they hit Goodreads... soonish? Check out their page there or the one I've got for them here -- with excerpts. And soon their story will be on GR for anyone, both at the group and as downloadable mobi, ePub, zip, or pdf. <3

Now I'm going to go run around and freak out abut how adorable they are. I love you, Courtney.

Fairy Freebies

June 14, 2012

I've been working superhard (and maybe reading comics a little) on a bunch of things lately -- and freakishly enough, they're all fae related. Possibly because it's June. Midsummer's almost here, and you know what that means.

This year, I'm adding to the fae mischief. First of all, part of the hard work has to do with edits on By the River, which is... well, like I said, not exactly a fairy tale, but a contemporary with a fairy tale feeling. In celebration, I've added a nice big excerpt to the page, in which Adam helps Leith find his perfect tattoo. Now, this excerpt has been edited, but hasn't gone through final line edits, so please excuse any hasty mistakes. Just thought it was time to get the page going proper, seeing as we're looking at July 31. So here's a massive "squeeeeeeee!" from me. I'll add another excerpt before then, too.

In other fae news, I'll soon have some fabulous artwork to share for my Love is Always Write story, which is coming... well, soonish. It's meant to be a surprise, but yay, artwork soon! I've seen preliminary sketches by the fabulous artist, C. Bernard, and it's super adorable. For more info on what's up with my story, the novelette-sized The Dangers of Fairy Compacts, and what's in store for the future there, hit up the Fairy Compacts page

And last, but most certainly not least, I'd like to give a shout-out to Fae Awareness Month. There's an excellent giveaway there all month, and a lot of the names involved will be familiar. So here's a chance to win some awesome freaky fae stuff -- from slashy fairy tales to dark short fiction. Awwwww yeah.

Comics Update

June 6, 2012

Comic book post ahoy. Yes, now is the time when I ramble about the books I'm reading. Ta-dah!

Right now, a lot of it is caught up in the Avengers Vs. X-Men debacle. While I was behind the Schism storyline, I am over AvX. If it was revolving around Jean or Rachel or someone I gave a shit about, okay, but... no. Fuck Hope-as-Phoenix-and-wtf-mutant-messiah.

As my dear friend the superpowered scientist Irene says, "Kill the spare."

Still, there is much goodness to be had, even in those books that are currently Hope Obsessed. So here we go.

First, some self-contained graphic novels that might interest people who want to get into comics but aren't sure where to start. The Season One series is Marvel's little way of updating the origin stories of some of its favorite heroes. A lot of longtime fans don't see the point, especially since some might say that's precisely what the Ultimate universe is there for, but I'm not one of them.Of the first four (there are three more coming soon, I hear), I own X-Men and Fantastic Four, and both were well worth the cash. The FF one is probably a little better, story-wise, but one of my all time favorite artists, Jamie McKelvie, did the X-Men book, and it's worth buying just for that... and how badass Jean is in it. I'll probably snag Spider-Man and Daredevil for my birthday, or something, and I'm looking forward very much to the upcoming Dr. Strange one.

From X-Men Season One by Hopeless and McKelvie
Now, on to the monthly buys...

1. Avenging Spider-Man. I love this book so much. It's basically just Spidey teaming up with other Avengers, and it's definitely the funniest thing going. So far there's only been one story that hasn't been totally self-contained in a single issue, which I also really like. Pete is the best, and, thank god, it remains independent of the AvX debacle. I liked Wells on it as the writer, but it's fun now they're rotating artists and writers in and out. The last one with Kathryn and Stuart Immonen doing Spidey and She-Hulk was hilarious. I read this book when things make me angry. Spidey fanboying all over Cap or mouthing off with Hawkeye... no one can stay angry in the face of that. NO ONE.

Side note: this year is Spider-Man's 50th anniversary. Happy birthday, Pete. Still my favorite <3

2. Ultimate Spider-Man. I mentioned before that it's the only Ultimate-verse book I'm reading right now. Still the same! I like the things Bendis is doing with Miles, and I think Miles is a perfect Spidey. He's got just the right amount of curiosity, intelligence, and self-doubt that he needs to carry off the whole teenage superhero thing as a free agent and make me buy it. Also, yeah, he's still effing adorable with his teenage angst and screwed up family.And really, look at Marquez's broody, oh-god-someone-hug-that-kid work here:

From Ultimate Spider-Man #10 by Bendis and Marquez
I hear he'll be meeting the other-verse Pete soon, too, in the Bendis/Pichelli joint Spider-Men project in honor of the anniversary, so I'm looking forward to the start of that next week.

3. Astonishing X-Men. In spite of being kind of another "teacher book" for WXM (more on that later), this one remains blessedly outside the AvX clusterfuck and functions as a standalone title. This is the book I mentioned last time that is pretty much my dream team: Iceman, Gambit, Cece, Karma, Northstar, Wolverine*. After a minor editorial hiccup that dampened my enjoyment of the first issue of the rebooted book, it's been smooth-ish sailing. Not a huge fan of Perkins's art (half the time it looks beautiful, the other half it looks like people's faces are melting), but Marjorie Liu is a badass. And you might've heard, but one of the team is about to get married.

Variant cover for the upcoming Astonishing X-Men #51, by Marko Djurdjevic
AKA: Prettiest Cover Ever

It just so happens that Northstar and his sister Aurora, the hot chick in the pretty dress holding the bouquet, are one of my particularly consuming obsessions**, as X-Men go. I like the way they've handled Northstar's personal arc being the first one, so far, and god knows I love the Kyle/Jean-Paul dynamic (worst. proposal. ever.), so to say I'm excited beyond reason is an understatement.

Obligatory Northstar rant:

Massive fans have watched Jean-Paul, in spite of his crippling cynicism, chase the idea of having a real family for long, emo decades now. It's how Department H emotionally blackmailed him into becoming Northstar in the first place. You see that guy who loves him for his snarky bastard self? You see that happy, supportive sister (who, ftr, was Kyle's friend first, and totally hooked him up as JP's company manager just to keep her brother out of trouble)? You see those in-laws looking all proud? Fuck the haters; it's about time something good happened to our boy. Get it, JP.

4. Avengers Academy. Wrapped up in AvX, but still probably my favorite ongoing right now. I love the characters, and I love Christos Gage's writing in every way imaginable. I actually started reading because it's where Quicksilver landed after the whole "No, it wasn't me who did all that horrible shit with the terragen crystals, it was a Skrull!" debacle, and I really can't resist him.*** In particular I enjoy him and the half-blackmail, half-genuine relationship with Finesse, but I also liked the recent Lightspeed/Striker coming out thing, I'm impressed by how Tigra's being handled, and, on a purely fangirly note, oh my god Lightspeed and Karolina from Runaways are THE CUTEST. McKone's art has been great from the off, too -- I love the character design and I love... everything about it, pretty much.

From Avengers Academy #27 by Gage and McKone.
Post Striker's massive coming out press conference. The dumbass.

Side note: This is a good monthly comic to start out with if you're previously uninitiated into Marvel but curious, because so many of the characters are brand spankin' new, and the first three volumes of the collected comics are already available in TPB, so it's even easy to go from the beginning. Just search your favorite bookseller for Avengers Academy Volume 1: Permanent Record and go from there. I totally got my neighbor's kid hooked. *proud*

5. Uncanny X-Men. I keep telling myself I'm going to drop this book, but I really like Gillen's writing & characterization -- best example: Namor. Yes, I'm totally reading it for Namor, it's true. For those not following along at home, this is the book that follows one half of the post-Schism X-Men: Cyclops's Extinction Team on the island of Utopia. Cyclops, true to form, treats the situation with the depleted mutant population and the mutant kids that have cropped up post-Hope (The Lights) as one requiring a military response attitude. They're soldiers for mutantkind. Makes sense, but there are a lot of problems with the way it's happening, from my PoV.

That, and Greg Land is the artist on it currently. I used to love him, but now his pornstarfaces make me ill.

6. Wolverine and the X-Men. The Schism-created counterpoint to Uncanny, full of cracked-out, almost early Excalibur-style storylines about a school full of mutant teenagers: The Jean Grey School. I think Jason Aaron has been knocking it out of the park from the beginning, like I said in my last comic book update, and now Bradhaw's on it, I think the pencils are perfect for the kinds of stories they're telling: dynamic, full of humor and character. This is the school Wolvie opened to keep the kids who didn't want to go paramilitary with Cyke safe from harm -- but yeah, not really an option, in their world, let's face it. In spite of AvX, this one has still been a load of fun, and I think it's the best X-Book out there right now.

7. X-Men: Legacy. This is the other teacher book, a companion to WXM, focusing on the grown-ups and their missions and lives protecting the kids there. It started out kind of blah, as I might've mentioned, with it mostly being about Rogue agonizing over which side to pick, but since Gage picked it up a few issues back it's been really interesting. Particularly like the little things with Chamber, Husk, and Cannonball that are going on, though for the moment it's all gone back to "which side should we fight on?" Gage is doing it with excellent characterization, though, and Rafa Sandoval's pencils are clean and well-suited to the amount of action that goes on in this one. I really like the way he draws Rogue, and it's safe to say this is her book.

*Okay, so I wouldn't have Wolverine on my dream team, but whatever, the rest of them are awesome.
**All that fanfiction I wrote? Yeah. It's about them. All of it. Really.
***Yes, there is a pattern here. Massive speedster weakness. Speedsters with badass twin sisters, even.

On Magic

June 4, 2012

Today I've been thinking a lot about genre, just from doing a lot of the adminny stuff that happens before a book sees the light of day for By the River. While I fully recognize that the superpowered stuff I do is extremely casual about its fantasy elements, there is a system for it, it is employed rigidly, and I definitely consider it paranormal romance, if extremely cracky and quirky.

This Elementals stuff is different because it's like I wrote a contemporary romance based on a folk tale. The term "magical realism" is difficult, to say the very least (see the genrethought ramble I'm about to throw up at if that kind of thing interests you), but "paranormal" isn't right either -- it sets the thing up to be way more structured and fantasy-ish than it is. When really, it's sort of...

Yeah, I don't know. Let's just say I want to hug Loose Id for being all daring about my weird cross-genre tendencies. I think the best way to explain what's going on with it is to drop in a little snippet that I think encapsulates what the barely-there, yet crucial magic in By the River is about, and go with that. So here we go, an explanatory and totally unedited snippet -- proper (hot) excerpts soon, promise. This is Leith talking about his father with Adam. While running a bath for them. As you do.

Leith said, "I know how it looks. Like Dad just keeps me under his thumb. But..." He swept his hand through the rising water again, adjusted the tap. "I honestly don't know what he'd do if I fought him on it. I wonder, lately. I've never even seen him get angry, not even once. Just, I know how he feels about it. And he knows I don't like to leave the river."

"Did he ever say anything about that?" Adam asked.

"No. School counselor tried to send me to therapy for it once. Dad told him to piss off, said if I liked the water, what was wrong with it?"

That would explain a lot about Leith. Not for the first time, he was sure not for the last, Adam was a little bit ashamed to want to thank Mr. Marshall for his unorthodox parenting. And yet, "That's it?"

"Yeah. Always seemed to make sense to him. There are some things we just... don't need to talk about, I guess." He put his hand under the tap and let it rush into him. It flowed over and around him normally at first, splattering wildly up and out and finally plummeting into the tub. But then the splashing died down, as if some unseen forcefield contained it or the water pressure had suddenly lessened. The water collected in Leith's palm, shimmering like clear mercury for an instant before it continued in powerful little waterfalls between his fingers. The volume and velocity hadn't changed, only the turbulence of the route.

Adam shivered, skin pebbling. No matter how often he saw it, he couldn't quite get his head around it. Leith's casual defiance of the laws of physics was instinctively disturbing, but not troubling. It excited Adam's brain like an unexpected change of time or key in a song -- Stravinsky or The Beatles -- or a beautiful image he couldn't make sense of -- Escher or Dali. Weird and magnificent and revealing.

At the same time, it was subtle enough that Adam could buy why no one at school, or even on the team, had ever remarked on it; those things, the weird, magnificent, revealing ones, were the things that people always ignored for the sake of their own comfort. Anyhow, sometimes miracles stopped seeming extraordinary if they happened every day.

But Adam couldn't imagine Leith ever striking him as anything less than extraordinary, and therefore always noticed.

Yeah, I know, I cut out before they get to the good bit -- and oh, they do get to the good bits, promise. Here's a picture of two hot guys (who look nothing like Adam and Leith, but whatever) in a bathtub to make up for it:

There, that's better.

Anyhow, it's sort of the opposite of contemporary fantasy. Instead of taking the real world and making it fantastic, it's taking the fantastic and making it real. It's contemporary. But weird.

And then there's all the love, of course. I'll bring you some of that in a week or two, whenever I get the edits sorted. <3 Also, coming soon: comic book updates. Yay, comics are awesome!

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