Archive for January, 2014

Here’s a sneak peak at a project I helped write that’s coming out very soon.

One thing I absolutely need to have while I’m writing is some sound in the background. Mornings and evenings, I’ll have Pandora playing on my computer, but midday and throughout the afternoon, I prefer tuning in to one of my local public radio stations. It was on one such day when I turned on KISU and heard Antonia Gonzales introducing the day’s guest on Native America Calling. Susan Fedorko of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa-Ojibwe was discussing her book and her experiences as a predominantly Native child adopted by white parents. The issue of adoption across ethnic and cultural borders had also touched my family, so I called in to share.

I was a lucky caller that day. A while later (I won’t say how long), a package arrived for me in the mail containing a signed copy of Cricket and a note apologizing for its late arrival. Not a problem. I had a lot of books on my list to finish anyway.

When I finally got around to reading it, I was delighted by the very matter-of-fact, almost conversational tone of the whole book. She wrote about feeling unwanted and the struggles that came with finding her biological family without any melodrama, but if she glossed anything over, I didn’t notice. I was similarly impressed with the frank but down-to-earth way she described the tears, hugs, and high-running emotions of meeting long-lost relatives. A lesser writer might handle that subject with all the maudlin, hamfisted, cliches of some tear-jerker movie.

Life, as we well know, is not like that. With this book, it was clear to me that I wasn’t just reading a story. I was reading life. And what a life!
Thanks, Ms. Fedorko, for sharing it.

With all the book reviews and some news of my own books, I figure it’s about time I wrote about something in the “conventions and appearances” category.

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Think of a comic book convention with this lineup, including also David Wohl, Frank Mastromauro, and Vince Hernandez. Think of it with free admission. Now think of it all going down at a Dave & Buster’s. That’s Phat Con for you, coming January 18 to the Dave & Buster’s at 20 City Blvd W, Ste G1, Orange, California.

I’m sad to report that due to the working stiff gig I still keep, I will not be able to attend. Those of you who can be there, please be sure to have extra fun on my behalf, then get ready for Salt Lake Comic Con Fan X-Perience.

The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con last September was one for the record books, it being the fourth biggest comic convention in North America, the biggest first year comic book convention on the continent, and the biggest convention of any kind in the state of Utah. Taking all this into consideration, I expect the Salt Palace Convention Center to be packed yet again April 17-19 for Fan X-Perience.

Guests- far too numerous for me to name individually- include cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Walking Dead, Boondock Saints, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Men 2, the Fantastic Four, and more. Word is we’ll have a Power Ranger, a Ghostbuster, and a Monkee there, too. And we cannot forget the reason why I’ve got a goofy orange striped crocheted hat with ear flaps, Adam Baldwin. Comic book professionals scheduled to attend include Bob Layton, Jamie Tyndall, Ryan Ottley, Terry Huddleston, and yours truly, among many others.

Yes, I will be there with copies of all my books ready to sell and sign, and, as always, all the proceeds from the sale of Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan will go exclusively to veterans’ charities.

So again, have fun at Phat Con for me, and I hope to see you April in Salt Lake City.

I’m going to get right to the point with this review. Marvel needs to step up the schedule. If that’s not possible, perhaps we need bigger issues. Or perhaps they need to hype the book more between issues, be more generous with the previews, and so forth. I’m not so averse to spoilers that I would seek to avoid any hint of what’s to come between issues, if it means my itch for more merry mutant high adventure can be scratched while I wait. What we’re getting so far out of Amazing X-Men is fun, exciting, and just plain not enough!

With this issue, Aaron and McGuinness- with the help of Marte Gracia and Dexter Vines-  brought us lots of glorious fight scenes, witty dialogue, sweet character moments (especially for the Kuroro shippers), one of the most awesome Nightcrawler-centric splash pages to appear in any of the X-books of late, and a Beast no demon in Hell would want to cross. My only complaint? It was only twenty pages. C’mon! I want more!

Okay, so I understand not everyone enjoyed the last couple issues of The Walking Dead, especially from reading the “Letter Hacks” pages. I’ve had a couple of quibbles over past hundred or so issues. Like how could Carl shoot a rifle so well with his right hand when his right eye is gone? But those quibbles are neither annoying nor numerous enough to interfere with my enjoyment of the overall stories. So I just award myself a “no prize” on Robert Kirkman’s behalf, graciously accept it, and move on.

And what an issue I moved on to- not that I disliked the previous issue, mind you. Just… WOW! While #118 was a slower, filler issue, this issue brought us beautiful character moments (especially between Ezekiel and Michonne), a couple of twists, and tight, rapid pacing hurtling toward a huge shock right at the end.  I won’t say much about that except that well, as I’ve said earlier, I learned not to get too attached to characters, but rats! I was just beginning to like Holly, and my heart’s still racing over what becomes of her.

I then skimmed the “Letter Hacks” and the ads in the back. Leave it to the folks at Image to tuck some brilliant hilarity in a book’s usually least interesting pages. “All of the danger! All of the killing! All of the swearing! Look, kids!” It’s an ad for thewalkingdead.com’s exclusive Negan action figure!

I may not get the action figure, but whoever developed that ad deserves a bonus.

Yes, I know, I’ve been very quiet lately. This past Christmas, I was quite caught up in shopping, keeping tabs on friends, visiting family, and trying hard to forget that I was actually feeling somewhat Scroogey. Thankfully, a certain Christmas present cheered me up a great deal, and I’m not referring to a torch carrying ghost straight out of Dickens.

What would be a good book to give to a woman who rejoiced over receiving a copy of Battle Los Angeles and named the pistol crossbow she got Li’l Asskicker? My husband didn’t have to think too hard about that. He gave me a copy of this new compilation of commentaries on most things geeky, then immediately borrowed it for his own reading pleasure.

What caught my attention the most were the footnotes.¹ Author Alex Langley kept me laughing from the very first one which described the origin of the word “geek” onward to “And if you haven’t been reading this book, what are you doing reading the end? Cheater!”

At only 239 pages including an index and some pretty thorough end notes², Geek Lust packs a lot of laughs, fun factoids, general weirdness, and earnest appreciation for the odd objects of geeky fascination in a pretty slim read.

¹ … humorous asides and marginal glosses by the author, actually, rather than real footnotes.

² Real end notes, citing sources!