Archive for the ‘Fandoms and Geekery’ Category

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I’ve Opened a Society6 Shop!

May 6, 2017

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve opened a Society6 shop this week!

Graphic design is one of my loves, and a bit of a hobby on the side, so it’s exciting to be able to use a platform like this to design actual products that other people can enjoy. 😀 Society6 is similar to Etsy, in that it allows individual artists to sell their wares – but in this case, the artist creates a design for a product and Society6 does the work of actually printing the design onto the product and shipping it to the buyer, giving the artist a royalty for each purchase.

And this is important, so it deserves to be in all caps… 😛

THERE IS FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING AND 20% OFF – today only, if you use THIS LINK!

Here are some of the products I’ve designed! Writers, readers, and story-lovers of all kind may enjoy them (I’m working on adding more…like one with a dragon!). 😀

The art print I was giving away at the January #WIPjoy giveaway!

Shirts for world-making authors!

People whose minds tend to…wander. 😉

Phone cases (and travel mugs too, in the same vein!).

Again, please use THIS LINK for free shipping and 20% off – today only, May 6th, 2017, until midnight Pacific Time. 🙂

What do you think? Would you wear any of these shirts? 😀

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Favorite Characters of Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water

October 26, 2016

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I’m blogging today about a new book coming out at the end of this month! Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water is co-authored by my good friends Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko. It’s a riveting novella and if you like vampires (or if you don’t like vampires!) you should check it out! 😀

Here’s the blurb:

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

In addition to the plot and the fascinating world (where vampirism is caused by a blood disease), one of my favorite elements of this story were the characters. I love them. I love their relationships. I love their interactions. I also love that the romance elements center around married couples, which is unusual in fiction, and very heartwarming and refreshing.

Here are some of my favorite characters, their Myers-Briggs types (because I’m MBTI nerd) 😀 and some of the things that drew me to them most.

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Melrose Durante (INTJ)

Protagonist of the story and fearless leader of the Blood Kind, Melrose stands bold off the page and was one of my favorite characters. He’s originally from ancient Egypt, so glimpses of his backstory were some of the neatest things about the book. As an INTJ, he’s highly principled – he holds strongly to his hatred of fighting and violence, for example – and he uses his renowned intellect and medical knowledge to bring healing to vampires and the Blood Kind. He’s cool, calculating, and driven by a fierce desire to help and protect others, especially his goddaughter and niece, Zuri, and her family.  Because of his particular strain of the Blood Curse, Melrose is afflicted with OCD, an aspect that the author portrays with faithful tenderness throughout the book. I really appreciated how well mental illnesses were handled in the story, whether they were more slight (as in Melrose’s case) or more extreme, as in the case of…

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Lucille Jane Durante (ISFP)

Jane is a complex and compelling character, particularly so because of her mental state – dissociative identity disorder, which has left her warring between her brainwashed “Lucy” identity, and her true identity of Jane Durante…Melrose’s long-lost wife. Her strain of the Blood Curse gives her special mechanical skills and speedy learning abilities. She is highly skilled with a camera, in particular. Despite her mental illness, she’s sweet and snarky, and I enjoyed getting to know her and…I definitely ship her and Melrose. A lot. 😀  They balance each other out really well – grounded, earthy SP type with intellectual NTJ. She draws him out of his intense mind and brings out his romantic side.

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Zurina Yamamoto (INFJ)

 Zuri and I share the same Myers-Briggs type, so I took particular note of her as I was reading. There is so much about her I relate to: her aversion to conflict, her ability to be compassionate even toward enemies, and her tendency to silently keep it all together on the outside when trouble strikes. She’s also a fierce, capable warrior and has certain…powers (I’ll give no spoilers!! But seriously, so much awesome). Zuri is running from something, hiding from something, which is teased at through the story. She’s a character for whom I felt very deeply, and I’m excited to read more about her in future installments of the Blood Mercy series.

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Akira Yamamoto (ENFP)

 Ah, Akira…Zuri’s sweet, witty husband. I liked him at once! The survivor of an agonizing history, he hails from Japan originally, and has unique powers of perception (which I shall not spoil for you!).  He and his wife are a dangerous fighting team. He’s intensely devoted to Zuri, and cares for others so gently too…an enthusiastic and comforting presence.  I especially enjoyed his hospitality toward Jane, and the fact that he cooks.  Who doesn’t like a character who makes amazing food? 😀

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Zeke Yamamoto

A list of my favorite characters has to include Zeke!! Zeke is Zuri and Akira’s small son. He’s a little young for his Myers-Briggs type to be obvious, but he’s adorable and a spot of sunshine in the story, tumbling through the narrative with his many doggie friends and his humorous childlike remarks.

To bring things back around to Melrose again, I loved seeing his perspective on Zeke as the boy’s great-uncle. The variety of ages and personality types in the story let us see many different dimensions of the characters, their roles, and their emotions. It gives them a deep, endearing realism that is rare in fast-paced, high-stakes stories like this one.

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Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water can be pre-ordered HERE, and releases on October 29th.

Be sure to join the launch party on Facebook!! It’s going to be a blast, and there will be lots of prizes and chances to learn more about these characters and their story. 🙂

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About the authors:

2016janeenheadshotJaneen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes nonfiction writing help and speculative fiction laced with horror, humor, and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th. In her nonexistent spare time she reads, cooks, and sword-fights. Two of her dreams are to eat a fried tarantula and to travel to Antarctica. Go to janeenippolito.com for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.

2016juliaheadshotJulia Busko (like “bus” and “co.”) is an illustrator, designer, writer, and the Elusive Unicorn (art director) of Uncommon Universes Press. In addition to co-writing with Janeen Ippolito, Julia has created book covers, made logos and t-shirt designs, and is planning a series of steampunk fairy tale picture books. In her spare time she dances with a local company and watches documentaries and horror movies. She strives for art filled with creative wonder and the beauty inherent in tragedy. Go to juliabusko.com to dive into a world of remarkable visions and artistic musings.

Are you the same Myers-Briggs type as any of these characters, or do you know anyone like them? What are some books you’ve read recently with great characters and relationships?

 

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Geeking Out Over Noblebright

August 17, 2016

Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* 😀

It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories.  Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe.  It makes me so happy.

The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  (The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)

This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:

In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up : there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.
Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”

Art by Jane-Aspen

(There are also hybrids like nobledark – heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright – which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo.  But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)

There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.

There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.

Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian?  The answer is obvious.

Art by Sandara

Now.  I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well.  The world is fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils.  Sometimes we need to look that in the face.  Sometimes we need grimdark stories.  They show us truth about this passing life.  We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves.  We do live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).

But that’s not where my worldview ends.  When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place. I see true beauty.  I see right and wrong.  I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.

So it makes sense that all the books and movies I love best fall under the “noblebright” category in some fashion.

Art from a video game: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek.  There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories.  Beauty is real.  Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story.  The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.

I never knew there was a word for it.  I knew it was there.  I knew this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most.  It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love.  But I didn’t know it had a name.  And now I do!

I love noblebright.

Noblebright stories forever!!! 😀

Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone?  Which kind of truth impacts you more?  What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?

Art by Sandara

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Simmer Starters – August 5, 2016

August 5, 2016

I’m currently recovering from VBS, which was back-to-back with my trip to Philly for Realm Makers!  I will blog about RM next week, Lord willing, and I have plans to shift to a new style of Simmer Starters…one where I add more of my own personal thoughts on the links I choose to share.  Please comment and let me know if that’s something that would interest you more! 🙂

For now, I’m simply sharing the links I’ve gathered recently, as always.  Do check these out, because they are all wonderful!

Storytelling with Faith and Free Will (R.J. Anderson and Stephen McCranie) – I enjoyed this dialogue about faith and storytelling. There’s a lot of good stuff to glean here.

5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World (K.M. Weiland) – “Let’s face it, people, the world’s a mess right now. I think the vast majority of us agree on that, to one degree or another, regardless our worldview. And what are we doing about it? What can we do about it?… We’re just folks who put words on paper. We’re just people spinning little tales that make us happy or fulfill our own fantasies: romance and superheroes, dragons and femme fatales. We’re just writers. That doesn’t seem like much right now. It certainly doesn’t seem like enough.”

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (Andrew Peterson) – ALL OF THIS. “I couldn’t get Harry’s story out of my head. I doubled over in the back of the auditorium and sobbed with gratitude to Jesus for allowing his body to be ruined, for facing the enemy alone, for laying down his life for his friends–Jesus, my friend, brother, hero, and king–Jesus, the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave–who lives that death may die! Even now, writing those words, my heart catches in my throat. In that moment I was able, because of these books, to worship Christ in a way I never had.”

Why Christians Should Paint, Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories, Decorate Cookies, and Participate in the Arts (Mark Altrogge) – I LOVE this post so much. And the title of it reminds me of that quote from Joss Whedon: “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

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Realm Makers 2016, Here I Come!!

July 27, 2016

Things will be pretty quiet on the blog this week because….I’m flying out to Philadelphia for REALM MAKERS!!!

I have been dying to go to RM ever since it existed, so I am over the top excited. 😀 😀  I’m meeting a lot of friends who I’ve known online for awhile, rooming with some of my best friends and meeting them in person for the first time, getting to learn from experienced authors and professionals in the industry, and getting to have a ton of geeky fun with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy speculative fiction as much as I do.  It is going to be a BLAST.

So I’m packing my cosplay stuff for the costume banquet… (Here’s me so excited about my costume jacket and arm braces when they came in the mail.  Can you guess who I’m going to be?)

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…and my Nerf “arsenal” – which consists of one gun and some darts.  Girly ones, because I can.  When I’m going out shooting I might as well do it with feminine style! 😀

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And in addition to the geeky fun stuff, I’m organizing a sample packet of three chapters, plot summary, and a one-sheet for my current work in progress.  I won’t be pitching this year, contrary to what I originally thought (due to setting aside my dearest WIP and starting a new one in June), but it’s always good to have your materials on hand in case somebody…*gulp*…asks about it!

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And between all the packing and prepping before I fly out tomorrow, I’m trying to give my kids lots of extra hugs and loves because I’ve never travelled without at least one baby since I became a mom!  I know my husband will hold down the fort fantastically and probably better than I do on a given day, 😉 but I will miss him and these four little snugglers! <3

So I may not be putting out a Simmer Starters this Friday, but I will definitely be posting to all the social media with the hashtag #RealmMakers2016, because it is going to be awesome. 😀

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Are you going to Realm Makers??? Will I see you there?  If not, maybe next year? 😀