Saturday, April 29, 2017

Agents of Shield - Post 4x19 Hangover and The Ward/Fitz Parallel.

AOS writers, you have made me ashamed that after the season 3 finale, I vowed never to watch this show ever again. If I was wearing a hat, I'd take it off to you. Whatever old-timey thing that means.
When season 4 premiered, I stuck to my guns. I just wasn't interested. I didn't care enough to tune in every week when the one character I enjoyed seeing the most had been killed. But then in my travels one day, I saw a promo where *gasp* WARD WAS BACK! So I scrambled to catch up on all the episodes of season 4 to prepare myself.



I have to admit, even without Ward, I enjoyed the first half of season 4 almost as much as I enjoyed season 1. It's just a pity that after Winter Soldier torpedo the entire AOS series premise, it took them two more seasons to claw their way back to greatness (in my sole opinion, anyway).
So, as to the reason we're all here today... And it probably goes without saying, if you're not up to date on AOS, then this post is going to spoiler the hell out of you.
From a story point of view, what the writers have done with the Framework plot line is a kind of evil genius, and it loops all the way back to the end of season 1 when Ward was revealed as a Hydra agent,
Once that little bombshell was exploded, people seemed to be divided right down the line when it came to Ward -- they either loved him or hated him. I fell into the former category. No matter what Ward was up to, whether he was being a complete sociopath, trying to help the team for his own murky reasons, or even when he became Hive, Ward was the one character I wanted to see week after week. He was the kind of character I love -- what I call a gray character. One that leaves us with the question of is he truly a bad person, or deep down a good person who ended up on a dark path?
The AOS writers, I think, have now answered this question in the most brilliant way they possibly could have,
Though I doubt it was this simple, in my mind, the AOS writers sat down and said "if we're going to make one of the team go evil in the Framework to highlight that any good person can go bad depending on circumstance, who is the most purely good hearted, lovable character on the show?" The answer, of course, is Fitz.
Some of the hardcore Fitz and Fitzsimmons fans are absolutely hating this story line, and the unforgiving side of me thinks "well, now you know how Ward and Skyeward fans felt at the end of season 1!"
Fandom battles aside, in many ways it was brilliant of the writers to use Fitz for this plot thread. However, the one reason that stands out the most is the fact that he was one of the people most hurt by Ward's betrayal -- maybe even more so than Skye/Daisy, given that the pain inflicted on Fitz was both emotional and physical.
The writers have gone to great lengths to highlight how easily, with a few changes in past circumstances of a person's life (which, if you're not up with things, is what the Framework is all about--fixing a person's biggest regret, which changes the outcome of the entire world), the path to good or evil can be taken by anyone.
For Fitz, fixing the regret that his father was not part of his life put him on a dark path. Possibly an even darker path than Real-World Ward took.
In the Framework, Fitz killed an innocent woman, and though we did see him question himself over this later, it was still clear he was doing what he thought he had to in order to maintain his beliefs and reinforce his world view. Which was exactly what Ward was doing when he betrayed the team at the end of season 1.
Even though Ward killed people who didn't deserve it (like Victoria Hand, who, incidentally, was responsible for bring Framework Ward into Shield, not John Garrett) at least the people Ward did kill were agents, whose hands wouldn't have exactly been clean, and knew what they were signing on for when they decided to join Shield or Hydra. All's fair in love and war, that old chestnut. Killing an innocent woman for no other reason than to prove a point is arguably far worse.
Meanwhile, the writers have carefully made sure the audience recognizes that Framework Ward is nothing like Real-World Ward -- having him apologize to Gemma over what Real-World Ward did to her, mentioning to Coulson it was Victoria Hand who had brought him into Shield, telling Skye/Daisy outright that he is not anything like the other Ward. Which, I'm sure is only making fans more attached to him. He is the potential realized of what Ward could have been, if not for his misguided loyalty to Garrett.
The way I see it, I (and other Ward fans) are either going to be wildly rewarded and giddy with happiness by the end of the season, or completely heartbroken all over again.
I'd like to make a call on which way it's going to go, but I'm 50/50 on both options.
And I really do think there's only one of two endings for Framework Ward.
One, he'll sacrifice himself to save the rest of the team so they can make it home. This will give him the death of a hero, which a lot of fans wanted after all was said and done with the Hive thing. I'm hoping this isn't his ending, as for a start, people would be expecting it, and secondly, there would be so many missed opportunities for interpersonal story lines going into season 5.
The other option -- with the revelation that Aida is attempting to make a real body (which I had been guessing for a few weeks now), Ward will be able to come out of the Framework, and become a real boy. This of course means the original team will be back together for season 5, which would be like a dream come true. I can only imagine the kinds of turmoil this would cause to begin with -- Coulson having to face his guilt over the merciless way he crushed original-Ward's chest, resulting in the Hive problem. Fitz newly understanding that he possibly judged original-Ward too harshly for the things he did, because Fitz will have a new understanding from the Framework that anyone can all too easily end up on that dark path. Skye/Daisy's feelings for him that possibly never really went away, even though she was with Lincoln for a while. The possibility that they will end up together after all.
I'm practically drooling from the juiciness this could all bring.
Of course, knowing the AOS writers, there's every chance they will come up with a third option completely out of left field that I've got no way of guessing.
Honestly, as long as Ward is in season 5 somehow -- as long as AOS gets renewed and there is a season 5, I'll be one very happy fan.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

So You Think You Can Author

Coming out of a rather long blog hiatus -- same old story. Been super busy with all kinds of things meaning I barely have time for any of the extras, including this blog. Social media? Pft. Pretty sure my computer can't remember how to find facebook. Speaking of computer, mine died, and I'm currently working on my slow-as-shit five year old laptop which hasn't worked the same since it was sneak attacked by the Windows 10 update.
All these things aside, there have been some very exciting things happening behind the scenes, but until they're confirmed, my lips are staying sealed.
But, for some reason, all these happenings have made me a little introspective, leading me to remember why I wanted to be an author in the first place. Would I have still wanted to go ahead with it if I'd known exactly what I was getting myself into? Probably. Ah, who am I kidding. I totally would have still gone through with it, coz I'm stubborn to the point of stupidity.
So, in the interest of putting my experience to use, I decided to compile this list of reality checks for anyone thinking of becoming an author.

#1 - I wanna be famous, bitches. 




Oh sure. This is the hot track to being a Z-grade celebrity. The paparazzi just can't get enough... of everyone else. Last week I walked a red carpet (actually it was red with some blues and greens and golds... it was a really ugly hall runner at a doctor's office. But I totally worked it in my torn jeans, T-shirt that had Vegemite stains on it from grubby toddler fingers and my hair in a messy bun that hadn't been brushed in about two days.)
But look at JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Stephanie Meyer. They're living the dream. Yes, they are, but for 99.9999999% of all other authors, the best you can hope for to gain that kind of notoriety is to piss off a high-profile reviewer or two on certain social media sites that shall remain unspoken and then get trolled for few months. Of course, the cost of that might be any other book you ever write, but if you're in this for the fame, then I guess you technically got what you wanted.
If fame is your only goal, then you'd probably be better off auditioning for the next season of RuPaul's Drag Race or The Bachelortte. At least that way you might end up with more than a thousand twitter followers.

#2 - Dolla dolla bill, ya'll.




Money. Who doesn't like money? Apparently 75% of authors. Hah. We don't need money. We're starving for our art, living on red wine and baguettes like this is Paris in the 1920s.
Seriously, if you want to make money from writing, then get a job writing instructional manuals or political press releases. The likelihood of making a living from your books is getting harder and harder every year. Who can be surprised when something like 5 million books were published last year alone? There are only so many readers out there, and they don't seem to have much more money than authors.
Yes, there are pool of traditionally published authors who can live off their sales, but because of market saturation (among other factors) this small pool of authors is shrinking.
Of course, there are plenty of accounts out there of self-published authors making piles of money, but from what I've seen, it's either luck, or they're social media buffs and the hours they work to make that money requires a huge amount of commitment. Want to work ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week? Want to churn out eight or ten books a year? Then sure, you'll probably make a bucket load of money. And I'm not knocking people who do this if that makes them happy. Personally I like having a life outside of my computer screen and that's part of my over all career and life choice.

#3 - I love giving shit away for free. Here, take my kidney. 



Pirates. And not the fun kind that say "arrrgh me hearties!" Some authors have committed half their life to campaigning against those who illegally share and download books for free. Some authors stay out of it with the old "I'm just one person, what can I do?" While some authors have gone so far as to argue that pirates are actually good for their sales. Whatever the case, the pirates aren't going away any time soon. Personally, I'm on the fence, but only because my opinion on this swings depending on my mood and what kind of bills I have sitting on my desk. Sometimes  I think "it's great that people are even reading my books and love them, even if they didn't buy them."
Other times, when I need money for something and don't have it, I think if every person who'd downloaded one of my books for free even paid half of what my publisher sells them for, then I could pay for my kid to go to the dentist this week. Whether you hate them or accept them, pirates come with the job description. You just have to learn to live with the fact that somewhere, someone out there is giving your shit away for free.

#4 - I just want to get hit in the face over and over again for like ten years. 




When you were younger, did you ever say to yourself "I want to do a job where people constantly judge me. Where I get told over and over that I'm not good enough. I want to do a job where I'm totally alone and the only one who actually believes in me is me. I want my friends and family to be completely baffled by me and continually ask why anyone would do this to themselves. I want to spend half my life interacting with people in my head and get no medication for it. And I want to do it for free! Where can I sign up?"
Of course, I'm talking about traditional publishing. Sure, if that sounds too hard, then you can now chuck up the first thing you ever wrote on Amazon and wait for the cash to roll in (see point #2). Of course, if anyone ever found the first book (or ever first four books) I wrote, I would sell my own mother before admitting they were mine because they were that bad, even though I was under the delusion for years that they were awesome and I would soon be a best selling author.
It took me almost ten years to get published with even a small, barely known publishing house (that subsequently shut its doors) and then get an agent. Of course, I'm still small potatoes. My publisher isn't considered one of the "big 5." That's a target I'm still aiming for.
When I wrote my first book, I probably would have sat in a corner and cried for days if I'd been told it would take sixteen years (and counting) to get that "big 5" contract. I've never counted all of my rejections, both from publishing houses and agents, but it'd easily be over 300.
Even once you get that validation via your book being published, you'll still get stomped on. Some readers will hate your books. And they'll have no qualms about telling the Internet. If you're really lucky, they'll use gifs and memes to ram home their point of how much your book was like poking themselves in the eye with a spork over and over. So if you enjoy getting told "get lost, loser" on a regular basis, then being an author is definitely the right job for you.

#5 There's a book inside me. Please, God, somebody cut it out.




There are people talking inside your head. You walk around constantly narrating your own life. "As she washed the dishes, her fingers became all wrinkled and prune-like, and she realized it was an apt reflection of her failed hopes and dreams." Stories explode out of you randomly and with force like a geyser, so violent that it's starting to effect your employment, relationships, and sleep. You write fan fiction and hide it from your family like you've got a shameful addiction to drinking Hershey's chocolate syrup straight from the bottle.
This has always been my problem (the story part, not the Hershey's chocolate syrup. That's a whole other issue), and it started while I was still a teenager. I had stories inside me, but I was too young and naive to realize that by giving into these urges, I was effectively boarding a roller coaster that I could never, ever get off.
It's a cliche, but some people say writing is in their blood, and this has been true of me. Writing is more than a compulsion, it's like it's in my DNA. It's not a choice about whether or not I do it. It's more a fact of when, where, and how. Even if for some reason I decide to stop publishing, I just know that I'll still be writing stories to the day I die.
This is why despite years of rejections, despite the fact I'm still not making a living from this gig after sixteen years, why I don't go all cyber-rage over the fact that people download my books for free -- the fame I could take or leave -- despite all this, I'm still here doing this and hopefully will be for a good, long time.

Still here? Didn't run screaming into the night at the horror? No matter your reasons for wanting to be an author, and if you only take one thing away from this, then make sure it's the part about the roller coaster, because it's a pretty accurate depiction. You'll have the highest of highs and lowest of lows. You'll be scared, you'll be excited, you'll be happy, depressed and everything else in between.
And if I can pass on a single piece of advice, then that is something I heard Jennifer St George talk about at an RWA conference about seven or eight years ago. She said if you spend long enough in this industry, then everything will happen to you at least once. Your publisher will close down. You'll find yourself out of contract. You'll get glowing reviews. You'll get horrible reviews that will make you question every word you've ever written. And so much more.
So far, I've found this to be pretty accurate and reminding myself of this has definitely helped me through some very hard times and choices, including my first publisher closing its doors.
And now I'm going to finish by quoting an Aussie hip hop group, the Hilltop Hoods:
"See the haters under rate us and this status takes years. But it ain't where we're at, it's how we made our way here."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Just Finished Watching... The Man From U.N.C.L.E


Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I'm not a movie buff. If given the choice I'll always watch a TV show. But I decided last night to dig up something on Netflix. The last movie I watched was Superman: Man of Steel with Henry Cavill. I found his portrayal of Superman brought a... I don't want to say darkness. Maybe an intensity (???) to the role of Clark Kent/Superman that hadn't been seen before.
So I thought another Henry Cavill movie might be just the thing.
What I didn't see coming was that his character wouldn't be the hero of this movie. I mean, his character was a hero -- usually one that I love, one of those ones where you never quite know if they're bad or good. He played Napoleon Solo, who'd been a young soldier in WWII, who stayed on in Europe after the war finished, but ended up making himself rich and becoming a career thief. When he was captured, the US government offered him a job in the CIA instead of jail time, so he became one of their best agents.
But I'm sorry to say, as well as Mr. Cavill portrayed his role, he was totally out-shone by Armie Hammer, who played a Russian spy Solo was forced to team up with to stop a nuclear bomb being built and delivered to the Nazis.
I'm not sure if it's because Hammer's role of Illya Kuryakin, (I think Solo called him Peril, as in Red Peril? Someone correct me if I'm wrong. While he called Solo Cowboy) had more depth, or that Hammer simply brought extra game, but I was definitely more interested in his story arc throughout the movie. Next on my list, I now want to watch The Lone Ranger, in which Hammer had the starring role next to Johnny Depp, even though I'd heard that movie got canned because of Depp's portrayal of an Indigenous American (sorry if that's not the PC term. Indigenous Australian is the correct term here).  
Of course, I probably can't go without mentioning the pseudo-love story. There's always a girl, and in this case it was the daughter of the scientist building the nuke. Solo goes in for her first, but Kuryakin is not far behind. At first it seems the not-so-damsel in distress is going to be Solo's love interest. At least that was my assumption. But once Solo is paired with Kuryakin, the former takes more of an independent role, while the latter assumes the cover of being Gaby's fiancee.
You could say it's one of those forced-proximity things, but Gaby and Kuryakin have pretty good chemistry from the get-go. This only builds as she proves she can take care of herself, and the twist of the movie is revealed.
These crazy kids almost-kiss three times (or was it four?) with each subsequent almost-kiss heightening the tension between them. But every time, something or someone interrupted them.
At the end of the movie, it looked like they were all set to go their separate ways, until they get the information that their little trio has been tasked to stay together for the time being and form the group U.N.C.L.E. Which stands for United Network Command for Law Enforcement.
So of course I immediately googled to see if there was a second movie coming out and when. Luckily there is (at this point in time anyway) but it's not slated to release until 2019, which is not surprising since it was considered a flop. Probably lucky it's getting a sequel at all. Still, I really enjoyed this movie -- it had a great balance of action, suspense, deadpan comedy, the almost-love-arc and actors who gave it that little extra something.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Going Back to the Valiant Knox


With the final two books in the Valiant Knox series coming out later this year (Cover Fire in June and War Games in November) I'm immersing myself back into the world of the battleship Valiant Knox and the crew. And I'm also going to be celebrating. A lot. This will be the first series I've written to completion. And you know what? I want to share the excitement with everyone!
I have plans. Lots and Lots of plans. These plans involve giveaways, an awesome new facebook group for my fans, and basically having a whole heap of fun while I work towards this milestone.
Want to hear about these super fantastical plans when I get them organized? Then find me places like twitter, Facebook and of course my newsletter.
In the meantime, if you haven't had a chance to check these books out, go find them! You've got a whole four months to read them before book #3 is out!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Go-To Gluten Free Muffin Recipe

After A LOT of experimenting and frustrating baking experiences since my daughter had to go gluten free, I think I've finally hit on a winner when it comes to muffin recipes. It only took me a year (that was sarcasm, I never expected it to take an entire year to work out one decent muffin recipe. Next goal is to improve on my bread recipe, which I still haven't perfected)
Sorry to people with nut allergies, but this won't be the recipe for you as it has almond meal in it.
These muffins have turned out moist, not crumbly, and perfectly light, not dense as can happen with a lot of gluten free baking. Or, at least, that's what happens to me. It's either crumbling apart, or had the consistency of concrete. They're also tasty without being overloaded with sugar. I used honey, which I know while still is a sugar, I figure is a bit healthier than the white refined stuff. The chia seeds also give it a little extra health kick.
Oh, and sorry about the un-glamorous picture. Food photography is so not my thing.

Ingredients:

1 cup Almond meal (or Almond flour? I don't know if they're quite the same thing)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup milk (I used goat's milk, but you could use coconut, almond or whatever your preference)
2 bananas (or 1 cup of other ingredient such as blueberries etc)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2) In a bowl, mix in the coconut oil, honey, eggs, milk and mashed banana (if that's what you're using, otherwise leave this ingredient out until the end) and mix until well combined. If the coconut oil is going solid due to coming in contact with cold ingredients like milk, heat gently in the microwave until it melts.

3) In a second bowl, add the almond meal, buckwheat flour, chia seeds and baking powder.

4) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined. (If using blueberries or some other ingredient, add them now and mix in)

5) Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes in the oven.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Just Finished Wathcing... Teen Wold Season 6A

Actually, I finished watching it last week, so forgive me if things have gotten a bit hazy, I've watched a lot of other TV shows, read 2 books, done some edits and written several chapters of my own book since then. And a warning before I start, if you haven't seen the latest season of Teen Wolf, then click away! Click away now before you see any spoilers! ...Unless you want the spoilers, in which case, I can respect that, being the occasional spoiler bitch myself. Go right ahead.


So, where to start? Firstly, in case you've been living under a rock and didn't know, season six is the final season of this brilliant show. After 6B airs, that'll be it. No more crazy Scott McCall pack adventures forever.
It's good that they're going out on a high, coz there's nothing worse than a TV show descending into utter suckage before finally being booted off the air. But that being said, I don't think I'm ready to let go yet, and I'm sure many fans feel the same. I've got a vague plan that once 6B has wrapped up, I'll buy the season 5 and season 6 DVDs I don't have yet, and then sit down to watch the entire thing from start to finish in one long binge fest that'll definitely last a few weeks at least.

Anyhoo, this season, I felt like it wasn't like any other season we've seen so far. The tension was way up, and everything seemed to happen so fast. On the show, the events apparently happened over three months (as Scott told Stiles when he finally got back from the other side or wherever he was) or was it three weeks?
Nope, pretty sure he said three months. But if you had of asked me, I would have said the timeline unfolded over a few days, maybe a week or two at most. So I think the writers might have missed the boat a little on making sure the timeline was coming across correctly for viewers. But this was just a minor problem, and I can see why it happened.

The writers seemed to have so many threads running in this season. First, the riders of the storm (who were the Big Bad for this story line), then Stiles being taken and Lydia trying to remember him, then the fact that Stiles's mom was back, finding clues like in the other town where the riders had taken people, the only person left was a banshee. Parrish made an appearance or three, there was the Nazi guy from last season who was temporarily the new science teacher (what is it with supernatural psychopaths becoming teachers at that school?) then there was Scott's mom -- Melissa, and Allison's dad -- Chris Argent, who were off on their own shenanigans and suddenly had a thing.

For so many years, I was like "why didn't they just get Scott's mom and Stiles's dad together? Would have been so cute!" But Melissa and Argent? Oh mamma, they were actually really hot together. I so didn't see that coming, but I was on that ship 0.002 seconds after their first scene together in this season. The kiss in the last episode? Okay, it was a little corny (would have been less corny if Melissa hadn't said "that was so hot" after Argent had just been in a wild-wild-west style shoot out with one of the riders, like she was the seventeen year old) but it was also totally gratifying for the sudden and intense chemistry that had sprung up between them. I REALLY hope they do a lot more with this into 6B. I just want to see the look on Scott's face when he realizes his mom is getting it on with Allison's dad.

I did have a point before I got distracted by the Melgent... Arlissa? I don't know what the hell they're
going to call that ship. Anyway, before I got distracted by that, I was saying that I think the writers had so many threads on the go, it was hard for them to have any downtime. So I think there was stuff we probably missed, important information that was skipped over in favor of showing us the really important moments.

This also meant we didn't get to see the usual expected Teen Wolf scenes of the gang sitting around discussing things, or the occasional detour into humor that gave us breathing space from the heart stopping drama. Of course, this could have been in large part due to Dylan O'Brien's accident on the set of the third Maze Runner movie (which I'm so sad about, coz it now probably means that movie will never get made) which I believe meant the writers had to maneuver around him not being able to work. So the fact that Stiles wasn't even in nearly half the season (except to be mentioned by Lydia) meant that much of the goofy fun that comes along with Stiles was missing.

Whether intentional or not, this season seemed to be all about giving the Stydia fans what they'd been waiting for all these years. From the very beginning, when Stiles was taken and told Lydia "remember I love you" (don't know about the Stydia fans, but that caused me some momentary heart failure), to Lydia feeling like she was missing something and slowly piecing together that someone important was missing, to telling Scott she couldn't remember him, but she thought she was in love with him, to finally remembering him, and then her efforts in trying to get his dad to remember and finding a way to bring him back.

All of this accumulated in a reunion that I'm sure the fan were not disappointed in. First, Lydia remembered the moment when she first fell in love with him, even if she didn't realize or couldn't admit it -- which turned out to be the day she'd kissed him to stop the panic attack he'd been having, which was way back in season three or something. After that, Stiles managed to break through the supernatural... um, barrier? Gateway? Rip in the space-time continuum? Whatever it was, he got through, but ended up back in his jeep where he'd originally been taken from. Then it was a matter of spending half the episode waiting for him to find Lydia.

In the end, she saved him from getting shot by one of the riders. The first thing she said was "I didn't say it back." (talking about when he'd told her he loved her right before being taken). And Stiles replied with "you don't have to" right before they ran into each others arms for the kiss that Stydia fans had been waiting six years for.
I'm sure they weren't disappointed. The scene was done fantastically, and it's going down as one of my favorite ever couple moments. For six years worth of build up, I'm sure no one was disappointed with how they finally brought Stydia officially together, and the fans who'd been crying "endgame" were validated.


I'm sure more than a few fans were feeling a serious case of emotional jetlag after all that.
But the writers knew what they were doing, wrapping up the final episode with the pack leaving their last class, Stiles feeling a little ripped off because he missed most of the action while he'd been disappeared by the ghost riders. In the hallway, Scott made a comment something along the lines of "it feels like nothing's changed" (in regards to the fact that they were now officially finished high school). Stiles looked over to where Lydia was at her locker, and when their gazes met, there was something much more substantial there now. Stiles replied with "everything has changed." After that, he and Scott got in the Jeep and drove away into the sunny afternoon.

Now, its going to be interesting to see where the writers/creators take things from here into season 6B. I've seen online that there's going to be a time jump of a few months, so I can only speculate that the gang will either be just about to start college, or maybe have started college and be home on their first break, or away at college and forced to come home to deal with whatever latest supernatural crisis is happening. I'm sure fans will also be dying to see how the Stydia relationship has progressed. Of course there are plenty of rumors and fan speculation, one of the most popular being whether Stiles will finally become a werewolf. Unfortunately the only thing that can answer these questions is time. No word on an exact date for the second half of season 6, the promo just says "coming this Summer" which could mean any time between the beginning of June and end of August.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the season 6B premier as much as I'm dreading it. With every episode I watch, I'll be getting more sad about the fact that it's one less episode left until the series is finished for good.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Just Finished Watching... Continuum

A note of warning before we begin, this post will contain spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers. So if you haven't seen this show but are planning on watching it, click away now!


Another show I binged in a matter of weeks (I only get to watch maybe 2 episodes a night between putting my kids to bed and reaching the point where I can't keep my eyes open any longer, so when I "binge" watch things, it takes me a few weeks, not a few days) and I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about this show.
Continuum had been on my to-watch list for years, probably since it began. I did watch the pilot episode at one stage and thought "meh" but was still interested enough in the premise that I planned to go back to it eventually.
It's funny how you can watch something at one point and not connect with it, and then later down the track, watch the same thing again, but this time get sucked in. Obviously the first time I tried to watch it, sci-fi wasn't what I was in the mood for.
So yes, this time I did get sucked in. But like I said, I had mixed feelings over the 4 seasons.
To begin with, I spent the entire 4 seasons wishing Kiera would get together with Carlos. At first, I could see why the writers wouldn't do that. Kiera's entire purpose for being was focused on getting back to the future to be with her son. However, at the end of season 1, I was totally pissed off that she turned to Kellogg of all people. Though it was hinted at that they'd slept together, it was never actually confirmed, at least in my mind... maybe that's just my wishful thinking.
Even though I think Kiera completely recognized Matthew Kellogg for who and what he was (a self-serving narcissist who would throw anyone under the bus if it meant saving himself. Including himself, as we later found out, which will make no sense until you watch the show. Let's just say it involves time paradoxes and people from multiple timelines. Mind blown yet?).
Keira no doubt used Kellogg in her own way, I suppose she needed some kind of no-strings-attached comfort and/or distraction after everything that'd happened. However, it did make my respect for her slip a notch. There were a handful of other things that made that respect slip even further over the course of the seasons, including the way she treated the poeple in her life. Occasionally she seemed to get tunnel vision and either couldn't see or didn't care how her actions affected others.
But Kiera was understandably flawed by the fact that all she wanted to do was get home to her son, to the point that she never understood it was impossible. Despite knowing she'd traveled to another timeline and they'd created a different future than the one she left, it never occurred to her that it would mean Sam would have a different Kiera as his mother. The Kiera who belonged to the new timeline and would never travel back to 2012. The thought that there would be another Kiera in the future did cross my mind in the beginning of season two, but then I forgot and the writers cleverly hid this fact, even though when you think about it in context of how the show handled multiple timelines and the paradox of a future self meeting a past self, it made total sense. The answer was really in plain sight all the time, though no one ever saw it.
So in the end, Kiera got a real bitter sweet ending. She returned to a different 2077 to find her son safe and well with a brighter future to look forward to. But she was no longer his mother, and would never be able to have any contact with him. She was an orphan in the new world she created with no place to belong. Obviously we needed these answers, because those were the question of the entire series: would she ever get home to her son, and would they prevent the bleak future they'd left from ever evolving?
However, I have to say that even though there was satisfaction in seeing her reach her goal of getting back to 2077, despite it being a hollow victory, I was really hoping she would choose to stay in 2016 with Carlos, young Alec, and her rocky love interest for season 4, Brad, who was a soldier from a different future, 2036 I think from memory.
However, Kiera and her story arc wasn't what had me really hooked on this show. Mostly it was my nerdy brain loving the way the show's creators presented time travel and how it works, with multiple timelines and questions of how choices affect a person's life.
The highlight of this was portrayed in the brothers Alec and Julian (Julian was played by Richard Harmon, who now plays Murphy in The 100. Guy can act. Will be interesting to see where he goes in the future). One was supposed to be the good guy, and one was supposed to be the villain, but the angle on who was good and who was bad was always shifting, especially depending on whose point of view was being presented. I loved the interesting shades of gray over who was doing the right thing and for what reasons, both in the present, and into the flash-forwards of the future we got as the complete picture slowly unraveled. And that was another thing I loved about this show. The writers weren't afraid to hold things back. There were ideas and moments present in the very first episode that weren't clarified until the very end, four seasons later.



Honestly, I have to say that this wasn't just another empty TV show on our screens for entertainment value and nothing more. The writers didn't dumb anything down, they kept it smart and expected that the audience would keep up. And if they couldn't then it wasn't the show for them. There aren't many TV shows with writing this smart around anymore, and as a writer myself, I'm impressed and have a lot of respect for what the show's creators were able to do over the four seasons of Continuum.
I'd been toying with the idea of a story with multiple timelines, but more along the theme of alternate universes, instead of past and future. Continuum has definitely inspired me to take another look at it, even though I'd been finding some of it problematical.
If you have trouble reconciling time travel and its implications, if you want a show that's simple entertainment and a bit of a distraction, then Continuum isn't what you're after. However, if you do want something that leaves you questioning the fabric of your own reality, something that will twist and blow your mind, then check out this series now!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Year, New... I Don't Know


2017? That happened, huh? I kind of didn't notice.

Yep, this is me, going all bah-humbug about the New Year. Usually, I'm all sparkly and optimistic and excited about what the new year is going to bring. This year? Not so much.
Okay, so it's not all doom and gloom. It's not like I think bad stuff is going to happen or 2017 will be worse than any other year. I'm just busy. Really, freaking busy. Like, have to write 4 books this year busy.
Kinda brought that on myself though, didn't I?


 ...Who am I kidding? The new year ROCKS!
Oh man, I have so many exciting projects in the pipeline this year. I mean, maybe I need like two of myself to get everything done, but truthfully, I can't wait to get all my new books out and see how things have played out by this time next year. I know the year is going to go fast (last year seemed to fly by in a flash) and I'm sure before I know it, I'll be sitting here saying I didn't notice it'd ticked over to 2018.
Bring it on, 2017. I know shit is going to happen -- some good shit and some bad shit. But whatever happens, I'm here and I'm doing this thing, and that's something to be grateful for.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

And The Winner Is...






The winner of an e-book copy of Atrophy is...


Shari Elder!

Congratulations, Shari. Send me an email at jess@jessanastasi.com and I'll organize to send a copy your way.
Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks to the SFRB for hosting their wonderful holiday showcase.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade Holiday Showcase!

It's nearly the holidays, and what better way to celebrate than by giving? Yeah, I'm totally going to rock that cliche.
So, in the spirit of giving, as part of the SFR Brigade Holiday Showcase, I'm sharing an exclusive sneak peek of Diffraction (coming out on Jan 2nd 2017) AND giving you the chance to find out where it all started by winning a copy of Atrophy. So, without further blabbing, I give you...



And now for some action...


The doc went to step back, but he shot a hand out and clamped his fingers around her upper arm. “Not so fast.”
She stilled beneath his grip and raised her eyes to meet his. For a long second they stared at each other, almost like enemies weighing up the advantage, but there was something far more dynamic and incandescent beneath the surface.
“You might want to think about removing your hand from me.”  
So the petite doctor had a pair, which for some reason he found way too intriguing. On first impression, he’d never have picked that, but of course, she worked for Major Captain Sherron, and he probably wasn’t the type of guy to surround himself with wilting violets, or however the saying went.
“And you might want to think about opening this door before the Imojenna breaks dock.”
Her expression hardened. “I told you, it’s too late. Let me go.”
He yanked her up against the door and grabbed her other arm, leaning in closer so that only the bars separated their faces. “Look at that, now I’ve got two hands on you. Open the door, before I start breaking bones.”
He squeezed her right bicep just to make sure she knew he meant business. Really, he couldn’t have hurt the woman—not with the way her voice was doing a number on his central nervous system and the way her green eyes were making his blood rush, heating him up in all the wrong places—but desperate times and all that shite. He had to get off this ship. There were things about him that he needed to keep to himself. Because if they got out, his life as he knew it would never be the same, wouldn’t be his own any longer.
She stared at him; a spark of something in her gaze, he told himself, was all in his recently scrambled mind. “Is this really how you want things to go down? Because I’m telling you, if you leave the Imojenna now, you’ll be vacuumed.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
She huffed a short sigh. “Fine. I’ll need at least one arm to release the door controls.”
This time it was his turn to stare hard at her for a long moment. That had kind of been too easy. Did she have some ulterior motive? A weapon hidden somewhere she’d go for as soon as he let her go?
“How about a compromise?”
Her brow lowered over an impatient look. “What kind of compromise?”
“I’m not prepared to let you go, in case you’ve got a weapon stashed somewhere in that petite package of yours. Instead, we’re going to tango.”
Her expression morphed into skeptical confusion. “Tango?”

Want more awesome SFR excerpts, chances to win and other fun stuff. Then keep trekking via this link to find SFR goodness: http://sfrcontests.blogspot.com.au/p/sfr-brigade-presents.html

AND NOW
 
To win a copy of Atrophy, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post. I won't even make you think of a ridiculous answer to any mundane holiday related question. But if you really wanted to, you could tell me what's the one thing about the holidays you wish you could avoid. That's right, bah-humbug! I'll start off by saying parking lots (we call them car parks in Australia) and all the crazy people who stalk you for your spot when you leave the shops. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Just Finished Reading... Born of Defiance by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This is a hard book to rate/review. I'm probably leaning toward it being a 3.5 rather than a 4, but I decided to rate up, as from an author point of view, I know how important ratings are, though maybe not for someone as massive as Sherrilyn Kenyon who has already made her mark on the publishing world.
So, before I talk about this book, I want to say don't get me wrong, I respect the hell out of SK. She was one of my idols twelve years ago when I was a baby writer and I was chewing my way through her Dark-Hunter / Were-Hunter books like they were cotton candy.
And when she (re-)released the League books, I was over the moon because what the emerging sci-fi romance genre needed was someone with a market presence like SK to set the relatively unheard-of genre on it's way. Not that I'm sure her League books really achieved that.
Anyway, the first few League books, I absolutely loved. But I think I'm beginning to get series fatigue. Or maybe SK is getting series fatigue. Either way, it felt like while all the usual moves were being made in this book, it wasn't quite ringing true. Like it was an echo of something that should have been much more substantial.
Maybe I'm just getting picky in my older (not old, hell no!) age. Like, I felt like I was being told about all these crazy tough Alpha males and kick-ass chicks, but not really experiencing it. Sure, Talyn could and did beat the crap out of about 1000 guys (not an exaggeration) but the rest... I don't know. I also never really "got" Felicia. This was especially a problem in the second half of the book. However, I think this was because there was SO much story crammed into the last part, it was kind of one beating, on top of another drama, on top of another abduction attempt, on top of some Alpha blah-blah "going to gut anyone who touches my woman," on top of people escaping, and changing alliances, and blowing people (aliens?) up... I think I skimmed at least the last quarter.
Plus, it was like there were scenes missing. Like half the action was happening elsewhere while Talyn was off doing something else. Plus some scenes that I felt like were really important and/or climatic happened in a matter of paragraphs. Obviously this was already a pretty long book and not everything could get jammed in there, but still, it felt lacking in the end, especially in feeling like certain threads were left unresolved. Plus, this book was really heavy on needing to remember what had happened in previous books, and since I've read all these books 12 months+ apart, half the time I was like "who was that and what happened to them again and why is that important??"
Anyhoo, I'm not saying it was a bad read. If it was a bad read, I would have DNF'ed it (like I have with nearly every book I've tried to read this year) because with my own contracts and writing schedule, I don't have time to waste on books I'm not enjoying. So yeah, it was a good read, and I enjoyed being back in the world of the League again, but I just don't know if I'd ever bother reading it again.

Monday, December 5, 2016

!!WIN!! Just in Time for Christmas

It's that time of year when "giving" goes on steroids and everyone does crazy shopping and eats ridiculous amounts of food. This year I'm totally on board with the crazy and signed up for this massive giveaway with loads of other talented sci fi rom authors.

So, would you like the chance to win over 60 science fiction romance titles? How about a Kindle Fire as well?

Sounds good? Yeah it does!

Just go here:  https://www.booksweeps.com/enter-win-60-science-fiction-romances/ and enter before the 12th of December to be in the running!

Friday, November 25, 2016

All Over The Shop

Is that title another bit of Aussie slang that I think everyone should understand? Let me go ask Professor Google... Oh, yep. Totally is. What I mean for my non-Aussie mates is that I'm all over the place at the moment! At least that's how it feels anyway.
To give you a bit of an idea of what's happening in the background while you guys are waiting for Diffraction to come out in January:

1. Yes, Diffraction is finally ready to be released on the world, ARCs should be going out soon. I've seen the cover and it is AWESOME! Cannot wait to share it all over the place.

2. Atrophy and Quantum are going to be re-launched with new covers to match Diffraction. I'll also be revamping my website so everything is sparkly and new going into 2017

3. I've been working on edits for Cover Fire, the 3rd Valiant Knox book, which will be out in June 2017... it's early days yet, so I still have several more rounds of edits to do before it's finished.

4. I started writing War Games, the 4th Valiant Knox book which will be out in November 2017, but then I got distracted by a shiny new idea.

5. What I've actually been writing is an Atrophy series spin-off, featuring !Space Pirates! who work out of the Barbary Belt (where Rian took the Imojenna and Zander took the Swift Brion at the end of Quantum, as it's pretty much the only safe place left in the universe for them now). It looks like this spin-off series of shorter books (200 pages approx) will be getting published, I'm just working out with my agent how/when that is going to happen.

6. In early 2017, I'm also looking at self-publishing some of my romantic suspense. Also working out the how/when of that with my agent, so keep a look out, I'll have more news on that as it comes to hand.

7. I'm also currently working on a super-secret project with a group of other awesome sci fi romance authors to release a multi-author sci fi series in late 2017, but its not confirmed yet and details are still confidential. But when it's all ready for public consumption, I'll post it here first.

8. I keep telling everyone in December I'm going to take a "holiday" from writing coz quite honestly I have worked my ass off this year, and next year is looking to be even more intensive, so I probably should take a break. We'll see how that pans out though.

So, that's about where I'm at. I've got all these balls in the air and seem like I'm juggling like a pro, but don't be surprised if one hits me in the face any time now and sends everything falling to the floor! 
But if it all works out, 2017 will be a very busy year of releases, one after another.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Just Finished Watching... The Last Ship Seasons 1 to 3


This show had been on my radar since it started three years ago -- most notably because it was starring Doctor McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy and Jayne from Firefly. But see, there are two things I cannot watch: apocalyptic movies/TV shows where people are dying en mass (because I can't help but think there's no way I would survive the apocalypse. I'd be like stunt extra number 3 who survives the initial attack only to be inadvertently beheaded by a random helicopter blade when the hero blows up a helicopter and I just happen to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time) and zombies. I draw the line at zombies. I tried watching Walking Dead. Really, I did, but when the zombies ate the horse in the first episode, I was done.

Anyhoo, I finally decided to ignore my worry over seeing people dying from a gruesome virus to watch The Last Ship, and woo-baby am I glad I did. And I'm also glad I waited this long so I was able to smash through all three seasons in a good (not-so) old fashioned binge-fest. Only problem now is, I'm like "June 2017 for season 4 is foooreeeeeever away!!! Can't even!!! *insert angry face emoji*"

Set predominately on the US Navy ship Nathan James (I think it was some kind of destroyer. Missile guided destroyer, does that sound right?!), you might assume it would limit the type and number of storylines the writers had to play with, but you would be wrong!

If I had to sum up the characters or show in a single term, it would be hardcore. No two ways about it, neither the characters or the story lines ever pull their punches, and there were times when my mouth literally dropped open, or I yelled "omg are you SERIOUS?" at my screen while I was watching.
From the same guy that produced the Transformers movies, Michael Bay, the action sequences, shit blowing up, gun fights, fist fights, and destruction on a mass scale was pretty much a given.

What really makes this show, is the fact that all this admittedly very cool action is balanced perfectly with some very, very well developed characters, played by actors who have great chemistry (and I don't mean romance chemistry, I mean all the actors clicked really well in different ways).

Despite the restraint and very military-reserved nature of Tom Chandler (played by Eric Dane aka McSteamy) and Mike Slattery (played by Adam Baldwin aka Jayne) they've earned a spot in my top favorite bromances of all time list. These are two guys who really are brothers in everything but blood and this is subtly proven over and over throughout the seasons, even though there's barely a man-hug to be seen.

Not to mention that Tom Chandler is a perfect example of hero material. He's put in this extreme situation where the whole world was dying, while him and his crew are sitting out in the Antarctic for months on end. Then, when the truth is revealed, though he has no clue if his wife or kids are alive, he has to step up to put duty and the fate of the world first, trusting in a woman, Doctor Rachel Scott, who betrayed him by lying about the true nature of their mission in the first place, believing that she can come up with a cure to save whoever is left when they eventually get home. Meanwhile, they've got other more hostile parties to fend off who will do anything to get their hands on the cure. Tom isn't perfect, he's flawed, he makes mistakes, he loses men, but he keeps going forward, keeps making the hard decisions.

Now, even though there's not much in the way of romance in this show (which doesn't detract from the overall makeup of the show at all), a lot of people were shipping Tom and the doctor, Rachel, very early on, even though Tom was still married.
I was never on board with it, because Tom was a very honorable man, and there was no way I could see him betraying his wife. However, I could see that gradually Tom and Rachel developed a respect for one another, which definitely had evovled into something more by the end of season 2. Unfortunately, they just weren't meant to be.

However, I do have to say, the one kiss they shared -- one that wasn't even a real kiss -- that was the moment when I was like "oh yeah, I am so on this ship!" I knew as soon as Rachel got her hands on him that something else was going on, and it turned out I was right -- Tom was being held captive and Rachel had to get him a VERY small note (on waterproof paper I assume???) with the details on how the crew planned on freeing him. But oh mamma, it was some kiss. Of course, I have to imagine that passing someone something by kissing would entail being very, shall we say, committed to the kiss. Never tried it myself, but I'm thinking a fair bit of tongue action... yep, just took this examination too far.

Into season three and Tom has a new love interest. I really like Sasha for Sasha. She's independent, smart, sassy, tough and can definitely hold her own. Everything you want in a heroine. But I feel like she's not quite right for Tom. I feel like their history is really the only reason they're interested in each other. They didn't work out once before for good reason, right? So I just think it's a little forced, or more love-interest-for-convenience-sake rather than something really solid that I could see going anywhere.

You know who I think Sacha should get together with? Mike. I have no idea why, they've barely said two words to each other for the entire season. But I just feel like THAT would be something interesting to see. Mike, I think, was separated from his wife (I could be wrong) plus while Tom (and most of the crew) eventually found out what happened to their families, Mike never did. He had initial contact to find his son had died, but his wife (ex-wife?) and daughter/s (can't remember if he had one or two) had gone to a safe zone. When he eventually got to that safe zone, it was deserted.

I'm actually hoping that in season 4, the writers remember they left this thread hanging and do something about it, even if it's to find that the rest of his family died as well (listen to me, I'm so sympathetic "I'll just kill this entire family because its convenient to the plot") In the meantime, if the writers of the Last Ship happen to read this GET MIKE AND SACHA TOGETHER. Man, it would be sooooo much more interesting.

The other personal element to the characters I loved was the relationship between Danny and Kara, two of Tom's crew on the Nathan James. From episode one, it was established that these two had a secret affair going on (which is a HUGE no-no. The old fraternization rule) but when it came out, Tom was very cool about it.

Yes, they had to be punished under Navy regs, but the way Tom went about it, there was no doubt he was giving his approval and accepting the relationship, even though he officially wasn't supposed to. Going through the seasons, it was almost like Tom became a kind of father-figure to the pair. He definitely had a soft spot for both of them, and looked out for their best interest when he could, as long as it didn't get in the way of duty or put the rest of the crew in danger.

And one last thing, this show has a plethora of interesting secondary characters. They're not just there to support the main heroes, but could stand all on their own. And they come with cool names like Tex and Wolf. But don't get too attached to anyone, because like most shows these days, the writers can and will kill off your favorite characters, leaving you reaching for the tissues.

So now that I've ripped my way through the 3 seasons of The Last Ship, I might go back and watch it again, because I'm sure there were things I missed the first time around, plus it's always interesting to re-watch something once you know where it's all headed, you see things a little differently. Or maybe that's just me.

I can't wait to see where the writers take season 4, since they pretty much destroyed Tom, and ended season 3 with him basically broken and quitting the Navy, the service, the country he'd dedicated his entire adult life to. Something will draw him back into the fight, and I'm dying to know exactly how they achieve that.
June 2017 can't come fast enough!