Category Archives: Books

Call For Papers: Self Promo Stories

Call for Papers: SELF PROMO STORIES

Want to share your cleverest self-promotion gimmick? Was it your bookcover wrapped around candy? A costumed hero passing out fliers? Did you have success with a book fair? Or BookBub, Twitter, or Facebook? This anthology collects AUTHOR’S TRUE STORIES OF HOW THEY PROMOTE THEMSELVES. I’m thinking everyone writes one story, someone cute and memorable and original, something that ideally worked well. First person anecdote. You may use technical details from websites and social media and goodreads and so on if you like, but consider just saying “I went to this site and followed the directions.” This isn’t a technical book — it’s a clever ideas book. (Likewise, I’ll do a glossary at the back in case anyone doesn’t know what KDP free days or hashtags are. No need to explain the basic terminology).The audience is absolutely authors getting their start and looking for neat self-promo ideas. Ideally, this would be something other writers could replicate. If your experience was dependent on your particular genre or book subject, that’s still fine – there are many ways to adapt it. Authors writing about fiction/nonfiction/poetry/any genre/self pub/traditional pub/ebooks/audio books are welcome. Basically, tell me about your booth decorations, your free coloring books, your unusual chocolates, your custom sign, your party, your book fair event, your giveaway…whatever you did that was really neat.

I encourage you to describe your book IN A WAY THAT FITS YOUR STORY in order to slip in a sly promo, though everyone also gets a bio. See my example stories below to see how I got some description of my book in.

I’d like to get LOTS of these stories, say 50, so do pass on the information to other writers. 500-1500 words (not hard numbers, but I’m looking for short experiences after all). Since this is meant to be educational and also work as advertising, I plan to publish as free ebook only on Smashwords. Thus there will be no cash involved, but you and anyone you like may download infinite copies. The hope is that authors will not only benefit from your story but also be intrigued enough to track down your book or website. You’re welcome to give people a reason to go to your site – perhaps to see your sample press kit or social media links. And with 50 of us spreading the word and requesting it for libraries and so on, this anthology really might make an impression on the author community.

To submit, please send your complete story as well as a 100-150 word third person bio. I prefer that you paste it all in the body of the email. Email to Valerie @ calithwain.com, subject: SELF PROMO ANTHOLOGY. You may send 0-3 photos of yourself and your bookcovers (or you doing your self-promo) if you like. High quality jpgs preferred, though for the web, 72 dpi or so still works.  Deadline of Nov 10, 2016.

Two sample stories:

The Power of Silly Hats (600 words)

My Harry Potter parody has flying pigs in it.

Yep, that’s just the way it worked out. So when I was hat shopping online and the shop’s silly hat section had a flying pig hat, I shrugged and forked over the $9. It was my first book, published as self-publishing was gaining popularity and Harry Potter was losing it, so it felt like a good purchase. I could put it on my seller’s table with the sorting hat, sparkly cape tablecloth and other goodies.

At the big Harry Potter conventions that followed, everyone had a costume and most, a specific persona – someone would be Lord Voldemort or Tonks for all five days. On a whim, at the 2008 Harry Potter con in Dallas, I donned the hat. When people, expectedly enough, asked how the flying pig connected to Harry Potter, I handed them a bookmark (with my first and now second Potter parody on it as well as many flying pigs) and explained that they were in my own book — Henry Potty and the Pet Rock, in which flying pigs deliver the mail. Please take a bookmark, it’s on sale in the dealer’s room or Amazon.

To my delight, as I walked along, someone else stopped to ask me why the pig…but this was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Obviously, I gave my standard answer and followed with “And I’d love to tell you about the books…” They indeed wrote an article about me which I linked to on my website and quoted a short endorsement from. The pig had earned its $9 sales price.

By the 2010 con, the attendees greeted me delightedly as “flying pig hat girl”…even though I wasn’t wearing it at the time. Shrugging and mentally surrendering to the inevitable, I assumed the hat once more. It seemed I had my own con persona…at least it was tied to the books

At the same hat shop, I purchased “giant witch hat” — it’s five feet tall and now has a red blinky on top, thanks to my Silicon Valley dad. When I want attention, I wear it (and a witchy dress, but this part isn’t terribly memorable) and walk around more conventions, often tangling with my eternal nemesis, the doorway. When people say “nice hat” or point and laugh, I hand them a bookmark, sometimes without a word. Keeping them handy in a pouch or sticking out of my purse obviously matters, as I need them on the spot.

Flash forward several years to the San Mateo County Fair Author’s Day. By then I was writing academic nonfiction as well, but I wore my flying pig for the attention. In a room of authors, I wanted to stand out. Plus, I thought the parodies might be a good draw. The gracious lady in charge asked who wrote nonfiction and I raised my hand. Laughing that someone with a flying pig on her head did serious writing, she held out the mike and asked for my story. Seemed the hat still had its magic…

What’s the takeaway? At book sales all the authors have candy and bookmarks. At conventions, everyone has neat costumes. But if you can find the gag that’s just odd enough to make people ask questions, or the pun that needs explaining, or even just the ridiculous touch that makes everyone laugh, that’s far superior to the handcrafted costume that took weeks to make completely canon. Those are nice, but not as memorable.

I have also been Princess Leia with bagels over my ears. One guy I met at a con that way recalled me four years later. What’s a Jewish Alderanian Princess to do, but go with it…

 

 My KDP Experience (900 words)

As I write this, I just earned myself 4,700 downloads during my KDP free days (on a book with only one review). How did I manage it? Lots of work.

First I scheduled the promo of my Doctor-Who related book (Doctor Who: The What, Where, and How) to release a week before the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who (earlier would have been better and gotten me some reviews, but I just didn’t have the time). I scheduled a five-day giveaway beginning the day before the anniversary release and ending at the end of that weekend (five days at once allows more people to see all of your posts, of course).

Starting a few days before, I joined Doctor Who fan groups on Google Plus and Facebook, along with science fiction groups and author self-promo groups. I befriended top Doctor Who posters on Twitter, following them and sending them a message which many reposted. I began posting my messages on Goodreads (where they’d linger in their categories for a few days).

Goodreads and Facebook message:

Free Dr Who Guide Today!

Doctor Who: The What Where and How: A Fannish Guide to the TARDIS-Sized Pop Culture Jam To celebrate the 50th anniversary release this week, the book is FREE on Kindle TODAY-Monday. http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/

With optional book paragraph to follow. But a pitch where you can hook them in one sentence is best. Pasting the link ensured a picture would go up too.

Tumblr and Google Plus message: Same as above but with hashtagged keywords too.

Twitter message: Variations on the following:

Doctor Who: The What Where and How # free Nov 21-25 # freekindle http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Whereebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/ # ebook # freeebook # DoctorWho # DoctorWho50th #movies

I didn’t like the look of tiny URLs, but that would’ve given me a few more characters. Varying the hashtags helps to reach more people. Don’t forget hashtags can be part of the information. #freekindle means the same as “free on kindle.”

Starting early the morning of my free promo, I went nuts. Basically, I posted my message on all the applicable Facebook pages. My tweets went to Facebook, and I individually tweeted book promo people and Doctor Who people, many of whom were kind enough to retweet (even without the RT request I likely should have included). Granted, Facebook will bar you if you look like you’re spamming (too many posts or posts on sites that don’t encourage it, I would think). On all the pages, I check what other people were doing. If the rules on the upper right said no self-promotion, I moved on. I never posted more than once a day on a site, or if my previous post was still visible. (There are so many sites to cover, after all). Obviously, a group or fan page with thousands of watchers is better than one with just a few. In a day I could go some Google Plus groups, some Facebook groups, some Goodreads groups, some tweets, some forum posts. Better than overwhelming the system.

For Doctor Who weekend, thousands of fans were posting with Doctor Who hashtages, and other similar hashtags, which I noted and copied. They were also publishing THOUGHTS on the anniversary special and original content, from reviews and blog posts to memes. I wrote several insightful blog posts, pasting my book link at the end with a note on where they could find similar material. Then I alternated posting my book ads with announcements about my blog.

#DayoftheDoctor In-Joke References List http://wp.me/p10chw-5y review of #dayofthedoctor and easteregg list of cool stuff at https://valeriefrankel.wordpress.com #DoctorWho50thAnniversary #DoctorWho50th #DoctorWho

Everyone was posting great websites and reviews. So I commented on these in their comments section on the bottom, generally including “I wrote a similar review available at…” I retweeted other people’s clever posts and announcements—I had many new Doctor-Who related Twitter followers, after all. Not all of my comments had my ad— only where applicable. But my picture was my book cover after all…

I put the prettiest pictures on Pinterest, which each were also posted to Twitter. Many new followers were repining and admiring the great pics in my Doctor Who Pinterest Gallery. My own book covers were there as well, with a comment on the website for purchase.

I attended several live Doctor Who parties (which I had planned to write reviews of for more content). I asked many friends to let THEIR friends know about my free guide, and I messaged them a copy of my ad when I got home. Many retweeted it, specifically tagging their friends who were Doctor Who lovers.

I did all this for British sites as well as American. If the page seemed British (co.uk) I used the British Amazon link.

Basically, I sent out messages for five days straight, on every place I could think of, particularly those where my potential readers hang out. It worked.

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Filed under About Me, and Publishing, Books, Call for Papers, Uncategorized, Writing

Guest Blog Posts

With my monthly column for legendary women and occasional posts on Thought Catalog, I guest blog more than I blog on my own site. The thought occurred that I and others might want to find them all. So here they are:

Legendary Women

Game of Thrones Season Six Wrap Up June 2006

DC Bombshells Rewrite History Mar 2016

“Is it more sexist not to hit you?”- The Women of Deadpool Feb 2016

Comparing Rey Amberle and Wonder Woman Jan 2016

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 1

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 2

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 3

Skye’s Heroine’s Journey 2015

Supergirl Pilot 2015

Joss Whedon’s X-Men 2015

Doctor Who and Missy 2015

CW’s Vixen 2015

The MCU Black Widow 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5 2015

 

Also article and interview about my Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey:

http://www.legendarywomen.org/content/buffy-and-her-journey-heroine

http://legendarywomen.org/content/valerie-frankel-author-buffy-and-heroines-journey-interview

Thought Catalog

Hot Teen Vampires And Werewolves: How Did They Start, And More Importantly, Who Gets The Girl? 22 Mar 2016

Game Of Thrones Season Five Wrap Up: The Book vs The Show And Where We’re Going

One of the big disappointments for me (and I’m not the only one) were the Sand Snakes.

28 Jul 2015

How Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Very Joss Whedon

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned, and to no one’s surprise, Skye’s new plot expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe while simultaneously transforming her into a superhero.

8 Apr 2015

The “Strange, Young-Old” Peter Capaldi Will Bring Doctor Who Back To Its Origins

More to the point, this Doctor is on a mission to find the Time Lords and restore the balance, returning the series to, perhaps, its mid-series premise of a “secret-agent-man” Doctor taking orders from the higher-ups and interpreting them to his rebellious liking.

20 Aug 2014

12 Game Of Thrones Mysteries That Are Going To Drive You Crazy

Who will win? Who will finally take the Iron Throne?

11 Jun 2014

“The Day Of The Doctor” And The Hero’s Journey

“The Day of the Doctor” is a perfect Hero’s Journey arc…if “The Night of the Doctor” (the brief online minisode available here) is included.

26 Nov 2013

Game Of Thrones Recap: Thoughts On The Season 3 Finale And Beyond

After last week’s WHAM! of an episode, viewers approached with trepidation. However, this episode was mainly wrap-up. Walder Frey gloated, Joffrey gloated, Tyrion and Tywin debated ethics, Tyrion broke the news to Sansa, Arya took a very small revenge.

10 Jun 2013

Other Websites

Hogwarts Professor: Aug 21, 2013 – Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Alchemy

Denise Derrico’s Key of Dee: Jan 2016  Why Rey Needs a Light-Chakram 

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Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Doctor Who, Films, Game of Thrones, Heroine's Journey, Star Wars, Superheroes, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fantasy

How Many Sales Should Successful Writers Have?

I have no idea. I just reposted an article saying self-pub books really aren’t selling in millions that got lots of Facebook responses. So I found myself thinking: How many am I really selling? I just finished doing taxes for the year and discover myself reasonably above the poverty line in the US (the poverty line is listed as 11,000 for a single person with no dependents apparently. That indeed would cover my food, rent, and utilities for a year, but I should add that I live in basically a writer’s garret. I’m sure many in pricey Silicon Valley who have homes and families could not manage on this.)

So I’m a working writer –as in 12-plus hours a day. With 12 books out a year, I’m certainly productive. A HARD-working writer. But I’m not paid by the hour or the word — only by royalties (ranging from 70% alleged gross to 8% net depending on publisher and type of book). And THAT depends on sales.

I’m the author of a whopping 45 books right now (yes, really, check ’em out on http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Estelle-Frankel/e/B004KMCLQK), and part of me is wondering…so when do I hit the big time here? When do I get the wealth and recognition? Is there a point to writing another 45? (My genre is analysis on popular series like Sherlock, Doctor Who, Outlander, and Game of Thrones. Of course, they have built in fandoms already, which is awesome.) Of course, I’m discovering it’s not really about the number published, as 2-5 of them bring in far over half the sales (History, Homages and the Highlands: An Outlander Guide,the Hunger Games guide Katniss the Cattail, and sometimes a Game of Thrones guide or another tv/film related surge).

So basically, I sit here writing 12 books a year hoping ONE will catch fans’ eye (Predicting can be tough — I wrote another Outlander book and Katniss book, neither of which succeeded even half as much. Some series like Harry Potter and Marvel’s Avengers proved surprising duds. For my related books anyway.) And yes, sometimes I write whatever I feel like, with more eye to education or silly parodies and less to commercialism. Hence all my analysis on the Heroine’s Journey and vague plans for a free guide on the topic.

So today (admittedly wasting over an hour of my writing time) I decided to slow down and actually look at all these sales figures everyone sends over. What numbers am I really dealing with?

Self publishing: Here I have a lot. In fact, I have 24 on createspace/23 on Smashwords/25 on kdp/5 on ACX (most of these are the same, published in all three or maybe four mediums, but a few are exclusive.) There appear to be 27 unique titles, three of which are listed as free on Smashwords.

 

Kindle Direct sales (from Amazon publishing). 4552 copies sold this year. Kdp just sent me 13 tax forms from all the different countries. Goodness knows how many I’ll get next year.

 

Smashwords and the ebook companies they distribute to (Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Sony…): I sold 5169.9 copies (they’re counting people reading part of it, apparently) which made about $700. Total. All the sales coming in hundreds are, sadly, my free books. Two of these are “samplers” — a chapter each of already-published stuff, meant to boost sales. It only took me a few hours to put them together. No idea whether readers are then motivated to go purchase the full books.

 

Createspace (Amazon paperback publishing) 2616 books sold. 986 of those were my silly little Outlander guide. All right, seems the ebooks have beat the paper ones. Not a shock as my sales are online not bookstores. Publishing paperbacks is slightly more work, but I think it’s worth the effort. I like them, anyway.

 

ACX (amazon audio books): 5 published books (I can only give them self-pub, as otherwise publishers have the rights. Here I get 40% if I pay the recording artist upfront or 20% if I split the proceeds with them instead.) 865 sales – almost all Outlander or Game of Thrones related. Upon discovering this, I started auditioning another batch.

 

So that was 13,203 self-published books sold. Far far under a million, but a respectable number. Flattering in terms of people influenced, though I’m not a cat climbing into a box on YouTube. And…for them all I ended up making about 50 cents a book. (With thousands of my free and 99 cent books sold in comparison with smaller numbers of my $2.99 ebooks and 9.99 paperbacks, that isn’t the most logical calculation, but there it is).

By this point, I am thinking rude thoughts about royalty percentages. I might sit and calculate how much of Amazon’s 70% royalties I’m really getting, or consider raising prices (in fact, out of 45 books, only 3 are free and 1 is 99 cents). I could take my business elsewhere. But we all know the deal. I could sell them on my own website and keep 100% but no one would ever find them. And thus I’m forced to come back to my original premise that I’m going for fame not fortune…

Comparisons are odious as some famous person said. In fact, they’re illogical too since my traditionally published books have different content and sometimes audiences than the self-pub stuff. Certainly different math. But let me pop these up here too:

Traditional Publishers: (They mail me quarterly or biannual statements which I pull checks from then file carefully…in my desk clutter. Okay, that’s on me.) These are all small press or academic, admittedly. I have not broken into the Big Howevermanyareleft.

Zossima Press (half a year’s numbers): 3 published books. SALES: 24 paperback, 66 ebook (60 of those my Myths and Motifs in the Mortal Instruments thanks to the new TV show). Royalties: Around $1.50 per $15 book

McFarland: 4 books, 2 edited anthologies (3 more coming soon). SALES: 668 (paper and ebook in half a year). Around $1.75 per $35 book. Yep, $35. And that hurts the sales, of course.

Thought Catalog: 5 published books. SALES: By back-calculating sloppily my percentage of the royalties off the tax form…maybe 1500 copies. Around $1.50 per $5 book

Other Traditional Publishers: 4 published books that do rather badly: not enough pennies to worry about.

Traditional publishing is giving me steady numbers, while self-pub fluctuates wildly as I do page reads, free samples, free kindle five day giveaways, and other clever schemes which increase readership but not definitively sales. No shock there. For Doctor Who 50th anniversary weekend in 2013, I convinced 4500 people to download a free copy, but the Doctor Who book isn’t pulling amazing sales.

So where am I? 45 books published, with me convincing about 20,000 people this year to grab a copy of something and I’m making a living wage…but once again I’ll bring up the garret. I was a bit depressed upon looking at my tax forms, though not as much when I compared it to the previous year’s. 2013 to 2014 doubled, and 2014 to 2015 went up by a third. Things are indeed looking up…perhaps even toward a retirement plan (Plan: Do nothing and live on royalties or keep writing forever because now I’m addicted.) Is this the definition of “successful writer”? Seems so. And sure, I was hoping for more of a NY Times Bestseller profile with fabulous book promotion tours paid for by my royalties (sometimes I do this, but significant budgeting is involved). But I get to be a writer. And I’m making it work.

Well, enough of this — I really have to get back to writing now. Best wishes to everyone doing what I am, however successfully.

Do check the books out by the way — the list is up on http://vefrankel.com or http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Estelle-Frankel/e/B004KMCLQK. Apparently I could use the paid sales.

 

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Call for Papers on Outlander

Seeking a few more essays on Gender, Race, Orientation, and the Other in the Time of Outlander — just email valerie at  with your idea!

 

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has sold 25 million copies worldwide. More interestingly, it’s said that mentioning Outlander in a group of women, no matter the age, will reveal that a quarter have read it. Now the television show, often called “Game of Thrones for Women” is transforming the popular cable shows, brimming with nudity and violence, as it brings in a specifically women’s fandom…or is it?

This collection welcomes discussion of the television show, novels, John Grey books, short stories, and associated works such as cast interviews, Gabaldon’s blog, or Outlander fan culture.

McFarland has expressed interest in an academic collection of essays on this pop culture phenomenon, which will likely come out alongside season two. Of course, this collection will only go forward if it gets sufficient submissions.

UPDATE: I’m considering splitting the book into two, one on genre and fandom, the other on race/gender/disability/homosexuality/otherness. Topics fitting into these categories are especially welcome.

Final essays 4000-5000 words, MLA format. 100-300 word proposals for your essay topic with optional bio or cover letter should be sent to valerie @ calithwain.com, subject OUTLANDER ANTHOLOGY by June 22. Finished papers due Aug 15. Happy writing!

Subtopics
There are many areas to explore:
Gender Studies: Male courtliness as performance; feminine charm or seduction as performance; Geillis the femme fatale; Claire the WWII nurse; sexism; female gaze, homosexuality in Black Jack, the Duke of Sandringham, and Lord John. Characters such as prostitutes, housekeepers, clan chiefs, and warriors have many interesting gender nuances.
Genre: romance, time travel story, war story, military history, or cross-genre
Adaptation: comparison to other cable shows like Game of Thrones, The White Queen, Camelot, True Blood, etc. Differences between book and show and the motivations behind these. Costumes or music (the blogs by the ones in charge of these are useful resources)
Myth and Folklore: standing stones, circle dancers, gemstone magic, prayers from the Carmina Gadelica, Loch Ness, parallels between Claire’s journey and selkie or fairy kidnapping tales. There’s also the Caribbean stories of book three or Lord John and the Plague of Zombies, Native American myth in the later books, and so on.
History: World War II, the sixties, the Eighteenth Century, witchcraft, the Revolutionary War, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Louis XV, the Count de Saint-Germain
Symbolism: psychology such as Jung or Joseph Campbell, significant objects such as the blue vase, pearl necklace, or wedding rings.
Literature: analyzing the stories as literature or comparison with other important works
Fandom studies
Television studies
Other

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Filed under Books, Call for Papers, Outlander, Pop Culture, Writing

Comic-Con News and Announcements

Ah, Comic-Con. The weekend when EVERY FRANCHISE shares upcoming news, trailers, first glimpse, and spoilers, in such a way that my own projects go crazy. I don’t just geek out — as those who know me know, I use the new info to write books on Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and the fans themselves (there’s a big fat list of my books at http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Estelle-Frankel/e/B004KMCLQK/). So as I collect all these juicy announcements on my favorite fandoms, complete with writeups and articles, I thought I’d post them all in one place…then see how many new books I’ll be writing.

The Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel sounded like overpacked fun…jokes, bloopers, and Sand Snakes casting (writeup at http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/07/game-of-thrones-panel-sdcc-2014). With FIVE books on GoT, I think I’m covered.

BBC One has confirmed that Sherlock series 4 and a new special will be filming in 2015. http://www.hypable.com/2014/07/02/sherlock-series-4-special-filming-announced/ I have a book on the canon and pop culture references in seasons 1-3, but I’m sure another Sherlock book is due. Perhaps on relationships and characters.

News and promos for the third Hobbit. Peter Jackson said they hope to have a museum one day of The Hobbit and LOTR (unsurprising — the Harry Potter one does well). My Hobbit parody (on the first movie) is much-liked, but the sales figures aren’t really high enough to push me to write a second, not to mention a third. We’ll see.

Just when we thought Battlestar Galactica was completely over, the movie is on its way…I hope. http://www.hypable.com/2014/04/07/battlestar-galactica-movie-universal-screenwriter/ … And yes, if they make it, I’ll do a BSG analysis book.

Marvel’s AvengersAssemble Season 2 is coming: http://youtu.be/Tku2Pgdftx8. Age of Ultron approaches as well, after Guardians of the Galaxy. I am writing an essay on Black Widow for an anthology, so I’m keeping an eye out for all her different versions. Also, I have planned (okay for years) to write a book on the heroine’s journey among superheroines. With so many Black Widow adaptations and now a Wonderwoman movie in the works, the time may be right. ish. And I have an Avengers book planned in time for Ultron.

Trailers for Insurgent (I have one book–that should cover it), Mockingjay (two books–again, covered), The Giver (childhood staple) and The Maze Runner (just read book one) all showed. I COULD do a Maze Runner/Giver book on boys’ dystopias having done three on girls’ dystopias.

Buffy season ten (comics), Angel and Faith comics, possible Wastelanders and still no news on our precious Doctor Horrible 2. But I just did a book on pop culture in the Whedonverse and I have more Whedon books coming any minute.

And plenty of beloved authors, costumes and classics, as the con is more packed than ever. Looks like I have some writing to do…

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Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Convention Reports, Films, Game of Thrones, Pop Culture, Sherlock, Superheroes, The Hunger Games, Tolkien: Hobbit and LotR, Young Adult Fantasy

A Guide to the Buffy and Angel Comics

A guide to the Buffy and Angel comics with reading order follows:

Buffy: Omnibus 1-7

Angel: Omnibus 1&2

Spike: Omnibus

(These are basically noncanon, though Buffy 1 and Spike have parts that are considered canon, and Whedon wrote part of Angel 1. They take place mostly within the television shows.)

Angel: After the Fall Series from IDW (continues after the television show):

          Spike: After the Fall by Brian Lynch

  1. Angel: After the Fall by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
  2. Angel: First Night by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
  3. Angel: After the Fall by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
  4. Angel: After the Fall by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch
  5. Angel: Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong
  6. Angel: Last Angel in Hell by Brian Lynch
  1. Angel: Immortality for Dummies by Bill Willingham
  2. Angel: Crown Prince Syndrome by Bill Willingham
  3. Angel: The Wolf, The Ram, and The Heart by David Tischman

(These three volumes are also available as Angel: The End).

 

Spike: The Complete Series by Brian Lynch

Angel: Only Human by Scott Lobdell

Angel: The John Byrne Collection

Illyria: Haunted by Scott Tipton and Mariah Huehner

(The canon on these is a bit more muddled.)

Buffy Comics

Fray (a slayer of the far future, should be read anytime before Buffy Season Eight)

Tales of the Slayers

Tales of the Vampires

Buffy Season Eight

This follows Angel: After the Fall (despite publication dates), but this could be explained by the slayers taking time to set up their base before the action begins.

8.1 The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon

8.2 No Future for You by Vaughan & Whedon

8.3 Wolves at the Gate by Drew Goddard

8.4 Time of Your Life by Loeb, Whedon & Moline

8.5 Predators and Prey by Jane Espenson

8.6 Retreat by Loeb, Whedon & Moline

8.7 Twilight by Meltzer, Whedon, & Moline

8.8 Last Gleaming by Whedon, Espenson, and Allie

Buffy Season Nine and Angel & Faith

These are all roughly concurrent with crossovers, published 2012-2013

9.1 Freefall by Joss Whedon

Angel & Faith 1: Live Through This by Christos Gage

9.2 On Your Own by Andrew Chambliss

Angel & Faith 2: Daddy Issues by Christos Gage

9.3 Guarded by Andrew Chambliss

Angel & Faith 3: Family Reunion by Christos Gage

9.4 Welcome to the Team by Andrew Chambliss

Angel & Faith 4: Death and Consequences by Christos Gage

Willow: Wonderland by Jeff Parker

Spike: A Dark Place by Victor Gischler

9.5 The Core by Karl Moline

Angel & Faith 5: What You Want, Not What You Need by Christos Gage

 

 

Buffy Season Ten and Angel & Faith Vol. 2 2014-

All of these listed are the “canon comics” (as in, Joss Whedon endorsed them as being a “real” part of the Buffyverse story, according to him). Semi-canon comics include those not endorsed but with characters that appear in the canon stories, like Brian Lynch’s Spike comics in the first Spike omnibus.

Obviously, there are additional licensed Buffy comics, collected in Buffy: Omnibus 1-7, Angel: Omnibus 1&2, and Spike: Omnibus. While Whedon has announced he didn’t have much chance to supervise them, his office would approve the concepts. Some comics were written by Whedon’s core scriptwriters, as Doug Petrie wrote Ring of Fire, Double Cross, and Bad Dog, while Jane Espenson wrote comics Haunted, Jonathan, and Reunion. James Marsters wrote the Buffy comic “Paint the Town Red.” Amber Benson co-authored Willow & Tara. Many other top authors have participated in the Buffyverse.

 

And finally, for deeper analysis, there’s The Comics of Joss Whedon, a scholarly essay collection.

A great deal of scholarship has focused on Joss Whedon’s television and film work, which includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers. But Whedon’s work in the world of comics has largely been ignored. He created his own dystopian heroine, Fray, assembled the goofy fannish heroes of Sugarshock, and wrote arcs for Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men and Runaways. Along with The Avengers, Whedon’s contributions to the cinematic Universe include: script doctoring the first X-Men film, writing a ground-shaking Wonder Woman screenplay, and co-creating ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Today, Whedon continues the Buffy and Firefly stories with innovative comics that shatter the rules of storytelling and force his characters to grow through life-altering conflicts.

This collection of new essays focuses on Whedon’s comics work and its tie-ins with his film and television productions, emphasizing his auteurism in crossing over from panel to screen to panel. Essays focus on the comic inspirations and subversive tropes of the Whedonverse, as well as character changes and new interpretations.

Available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011M7GJW2/

Table of Contents: http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/contents-2.php?id=978-0-7864-9885-7

 

JUST TO HAVE THEM ALL IN ONE PLACE, THE OTHER WHEDON COMICS:

X-MEN

Astonishing X-Men vol. 3: (#1-24) & Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1 (reprinted as the collections Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, Dangerous, Torn, Unstoppable or on Marvel.com)

“Teamwork” (in Giant Size X-Men #3, available online)

SERENITY

Serenity: Those Left Behind

Serenity: Better Days

Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale

Free Comic Book Day: “Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64 – It’s Never Easy” (available online) by Zack Whedon

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind by Zack Whedon

Free Comic Book Day 2016: “The Warrior and the Wind” by Chris Roberson & Stephen Byrne

DOCTOR HORRIBLE

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

DOLLHOUSE

Epitaphs by Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen

OTHER

“Some Steves” (in Stan Lee Meets The Amazing Spider-Man #1) by Joss Whedon

Runaways vol. 2 (#25-30) (reprinted as Dead End Kids) by Joss Whedon or at Marvel.com

Superman/Batman #26 (p. 20-21) by Joss Whedon

Sugarshock 1-3 (reprinted in Myspace Dark Horse Presents #1) by Joss Whedon

Happy Reading!

Here are some links to Whedon’s comics that are free online:

Always Darkest: http://www.darkhorse.com/Features/eComics/1087/Dark-Horse-Presents-No-24?part_num=1&page=2
X-Men: Teamwork http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/giant-size_x-men_3.shtml
Serenity comics http://www.mediafire.com/folder/1uwh75oa407q8/Firefly
Serenity: It’s Never Easy http://www.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=4&tid=51833
Angel: After the Fall Recaps http://www.buffy-boards.com/showthread.php?t=36377
Angel and Buffy comics previews, excerpts and discussionshttp://slayalive.com/forumdisplay.php/1-Comic-Continuity
Superman/Batman and other samples:http://www.pinterest.com/valeriefrankel/whedon/

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So many new books!

Yes, I have two Doctor Who books out this week for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who (yay!)

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Free from now through Monday on Kindle is 

Doctor Who: The What Where and How

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/

Doctor Who is a show about books, TV, and science fiction for the fans within us all: The Tenth Doctor loves Harry Potter, the Eleventh Doctor wears costumes, Martha Jones wants to record Shakespeare’s lost play and sell it on the internet. As the characters gush over Agatha Christie or tangle with Men in Black, they enter a self-referential world of fiction about fiction, delighting in pure fandom. Producers Davies and Moffat nod to their other creations, from Sherlock to Casanova, and share their love for both the classic series and the larger world of Doctor Who novels, audio books, and comics. As the franchise riffs off Star Trek, Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, and Hitchhiker’s Guide, it both celebrates the world’s most popular works and takes its place among them.

The other book, so new it’s just beginning to arrive, is

Doctor Who and the Hero’s Journey

The Doctor is certainly the legend with untold faces, the mythic hero who dies to save mankind only to return, regenerated into an undying god with new wisdom of the ages. But his companions are journeying too. Rose Tyler and Donna Noble cross the TARDIS threshold and grow from ordinary women into goddesses of transcendent light, restoring the world with their golden auras. Martha learns faith and Amy, the power of imagination, until both can save the Doctor purely with the strength of their belief. By willing the world to reshape itself, they harness the power of the oldest goddesses who ruled with creation magic rather than conquest. River Song is the divine child of the TARDIS, magic itself, while Clara learns the heroine’s mythic power of spreading herself through eternity and thus reshaping reality as the Doctor’s world. United, they battle for the earth’s redemption by confronting the shadows within.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/book/doctor-who-and-the-heros-journey/

It’s available on

ALSO, my Hunger Games guide,

The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen: Exploring the Heroine of The Hunger Games is only 99 cents right now on Amazon. http://t.co/6vxNIKUgvb Of course, my terribly popular

Katniss the Cattail: An Unauthorized Guide to Names and Symbols in The Hunger Games is always 99 cents on Kindle and other ebook formats. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/130687 or http://www.amazon.com/Katniss-Cattail-Unauthorized-Symbols-Suzanne-ebook/dp/B0078EKMOU/

There are also paperbacks.  On with the promotions!

ManyFacesKatnissKatniss the Cattail

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Filed under About Me, and Publishing, Books, Doctor Who, The Hunger Games

The Hobbit Review: I Blame Radagast

Yes, like most fantasy writers, I’m a hopeless, committed, Tolkien fan. When I saw Fellowship of the Ring, I loved every minute with no reservations. I saw changes happening, but I also how they were a wise idea when changing book to film. In fact, I’m fine with changes, IF they make a good story. I enjoyed The Hobbit, but this time, some of the film’s issues were more heavily pronounced, so I can’t approach this in such a head-over-heels delighted manner. Of course, I realize Peter Jackson was somewhat backed into a corner. The studio insisted on three films, while he thought (correctly) that he had the material for about two. There must be a giant franchise or nothing, it seems. Well, it seems the franchise has returned, but a bit shakier this time around.

The movie begins with a hefty prologue explaining what happened with Thorin and Smaug’s invasion. THEN there’s a second prologue, as older Bilbo chats with Frodo and writes his book. Yes, we get to see Sting, the party sign, Frodo, and the Hobbit hole that looks incredibly messy over the dialogue about its snug tidiness. We even get Ian Hom uttering “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit” and see Frodo set up the events in Fellowship. But none of this is really a part of the story.

I grew up loving the cartoon pair of The Hobbit and Return of the King (I was less thrilled with the oddly filmed LotR part one). Their catchy music and silly cartoons made them Disneylike, though as I learned later, they were reasonably faithful retellings. In the cartoon movie, as with the book, we are introduced through the simple, fussy, homebody of a Hobbit who hates adventures. He is us, the reader unused to the wider world. The dwarves and Gandalf usher him and us through the wider world of Middle Earth together as we come to empathize more and more with Bilbo. The cartoon Return of the King (which skips the other two books) introduces Bilbo as a heavy frame – he is celebrating his 111st birthday (or something like it) with Gandalf and Elrond (introduced to us in The Hobbit movie) and the four younger hobbits, and Frodo tells him about his epic quest in Return of the King. Gollum and the ring provide another heavy link, as do repeated songs and themes.

In this film series, LotR was our introduction, so it’s oddly framing The Hobbit, rather than the more logical reverse. Gone is our introduction to the fussy little nearly-human character, and instead, we’re introduced to the large foreign world of “Erebor,” home of the dwarves. This is a land unseen  in LotR, and even for book fans, the name comes oddly to our ears –the book dwarves are obsessed with “Lonely Mountain” as they call it.

Then comes the link with the previous movie trilogy: Ian Holm and Frodo are our guides, the party scene is just about to start, and Bilbo remembers smoking smoke rings long ago…cut to the actual story. This has been a terribly long introduction to give us a summary of past events and then link us with the other tale.  All this, especially the scenes in Erabor is beautifully crafted with cgi and the amazing detail that made LotR a favorite. But the scenes have little place in the story. As we continue, we’re thrust into D & D style dungeons and complex, unhelpful subplots. In the attempts to be epic like LotR, the story is less linear and thus less charming.

This trend continues through the film, a voice crying, “Look, it’s the same story over again, please go spend on collectible rings and goodies from the franchise. Look how every moment matches the other so well!” Some scenes like Bilbo’s green door or meeting Elrond must match up with Fellowship, that was inevitable. Even the new scenes are filmed in similar locations in New Zealand. Casual references to Bree and the First Alliance of elves seem unnecessary, but make sense.  But the number of new scenes and filming choices that ALSO echo Fellowship are truly numerous, so much so that they turned from cute to tedious:

  • Gandalf whacks his head on the iron chandelier in Bag End
  • Thor’s goblin battle in Moria seems nearly identical to Isildur’s battle in which he took up the shards of Narsil and avenged his father.
  • Thorin himself, the deposed dark-haired king filled with nobility, who risks his life for bumbling hobbits and seems a born leader, is much more like Aragron than book-Thorin.
  • Balin seems the replacement Gimli, with an older, settled wisdom. He says “laddie” a lot.
  • The fact that they’re being hunted, Gandalf’s demands to know who our heroes told.
  • A mass of bad guys converges from all directions in the same scenery as the Nazgul scene, our heroes flee into Rivendell
  • A morgul-blade warns that Sauron is about
  • The wargs attack in what looks like the LotR warg setting
  • Gandalf says, “This way, you fools!”
  • Saruman criticizes Radagast’s mushrooms like Gandalf’s smoking in Fellowship
  • Galadriel, mysterious and somewhat imposing, offers vague comfort and strokes a hero’s hair
  • Gandalf praises “the everyday deeds of ordinary folk” – this is why he recruits Bilbo in this one and Sam in Fellowship.
  • After Rivendell, montages of trudging single-file over snowy mountains and other scenes.
  • The storm giants versus Cruel Calhedras
  • The goblins’ hole resembles the goblin factory of Fellowship
  • The ring flies up into the air and lands on a finger
  • The shadowy ring-world
  • They all race down narrow bridges that are collapsing
  • Gandalf uses the moth to summon the eagles, complete with music
  • They end in the forest, as our hero makes a tough choice of what he stands for, then they’re attacked
  • Azog is like the Head Uruk-hai, a big bad guy created to give the part one movie some closure.  Aragorn/Thorin has the epic battle with him.
  • Boromir dies against the Head Uruk-hai, Thorin gets semi-squished.
  • They look far across Middle Earth to their final destination, say something optimistic, and end part one.
  • The narrow-pupiled eye (admittedly Smaug’s) that’s seeking them

Most of these moments share the same music with the original trilogy. As a fan, I enjoyed the musical allusions, but they do emphasize the repetition of the scenes. Also, after offering us these three time periods: Bilbo’s birthday, Smaug’s invasion, and the “present,” no dates are mentioned. This is also a bit disconcerting for those trying to stay focused. Much worse was the 48fps speed, which gave me a headache. More oddly, when the camera panned, everything looked blurry to me. I truly pray this style doesn’t catch on.

Returning to the story, the setup in Bag End irritated me a bit. Bilbo fails to mention Gandalf is most famous for dragging Hobbit kids off on crazy adventures, so it’s less than clear why Gandalf is there harassing him and why Bilbo assumes that’s why he’s around, until much later. The revelation that Gandalf knew Bilbo was adventurous as a child and has adventures in his Took blood is a bit too late, only after they’ve been arguing over the adventure part for some time. In the book, Bilbo invites Gandalf to tea, so there was an appointment on some level – again, this made a tad more sense in the story than the unwitting invasion in this one. The invasion itself was played quite well, however, from teasing Bilbo about his plates while juggling them expertly and singing, to our hero in his Arthur Dent bathrobe acting completely kerflomoxed, yet determined to stand up for his precious doilies.

After this, the dwarves gather to sing of Smaug’s destruction and their need for vengeance. In book and cartoon, this was the opportunity to explain to Bilbo (with colorful flashbacks in the cartoon) what exactly happened in the past. But we’ve already had the out-of-nowhere lengthy summary, so when they sing, the story just stops. Creative writing students like myself recognize the exposition moments and talking (or singing) heads scenes that do not advance the story, and thus interfere with the plot moving along. Sadly, however, Peter Jackson has left them in place. Fellowship cut a twenty-year gap between Bilbo leaving and the ringwraiths coming for Frodo (Frodo also moved house, hiked, and sang songs in the bath, all worthy of cutting). This added action and urgency to the story, changing it to a desperate flight. The Hobbit seems to have added those twenty years back in.

Radagast the Brown is partially responsible for this. As in the book LotR, he shows up to spout dire warnings of unspecific direness. He’s amusing-looking as he drives his wonderful rabbit-powered sledge (not, as far as I know, canon from anything) and loses track of all his thoughts. But again, when he comes onscreen, the plot basically stops. In LotR, when Gandalf leaves, he has a wizard war with Saruman. Even when Frodo just wanders, he stumbles into Faramir’s small-scale battles. But Radagast doesn’t take on the Necromancer — he plays with hedgehogs. (And he could’ve fought the Necromancer and gotten somewhat creamed, thus giving his plot arc a plot). Instead, he just strolled. Gandalf’s white council with Galadriel and Saruman, while a treat for fans, is just as bad. It’s no wonder the dwarves ditch in the middle of it.

The dwarves themselves aren’t very individual. In fact, most of them don’t have much dialogue at all, with nothing that sets them apart. There’s Thorin the Aragorn ripoff.  Kili the hot archer. Balin the wise advisor, Dwalin the messy eater, Bombur the fat guy.  Even after Bilbo has a long conversation with Bofur, the dwarf says nothing to particularly individuate him from his fellows. Granted, they’re all dwarves, all with the same mission. We don’t have the obvious differences of LotR with a dwarf, an elf, a man of Gondor, etc. But Merry and Pippin made an effort, to say nothing of Sam.  Aside from different weapons, these dwarves don’t seem to have different personalities. Admittedly, book and cartoon don’t separate them much either. But with this scope, there seems a missed opportunity.  In canon, Balin dreams of restoring Moria, and Gloin is father to Gimli. There must be more to show.

This film also seemed to have too many villains. Azog hates Thorin’s family, the Necromancer is filling the woods with evil, the goblin king (played by the Marshmallow Man?) knows all about Thorin and hates him on principle. The storm giants are too long and too realized for a force with no personality and no foreshadowing, who, it seems, is out to get them too. The moose-riding wood elves hate the dwarves; they’re just waiting for movie two. And of course, the dragon’s coming. While there are hints a dark evil may have sent the dragon, we lack the certainty of LotR –you are either on the side of life (though elves and dwarves may squabble a bit) or you work for Sauron (like Saruman the traitor and his spells on Cruel Calhedras). In this one, everyone’s out to get Thorin, who, let’s face it, isn’t actually as important as Aragron. Only the meeting with the elves, wary but courteous, felt like a normal encounter. The book has the dwarves mostly encountering strangers and having isolated adventures with them. There are hints of a larger world and backstory (“Bilbo, the Necromancer’s so nasty, I know even you have heard of him” or “We punished Azog for what he did to my grandfather”) but they don’t tell all those stories – that would distract from the main plot. Here, all those stories have been added. It’s cluttered.

Fans will be happy to note that Gandalf’s silvery scarf appeared. However, he seemed rather a bumbler. “Is he [Radagast] a great wizard or is he more like you,” Bilbo asks, and after Gandalf’s not very persuasive of anyone back in Bag End, he seems to deserve that. The flaming pinecones he hurls at the wolves are a disappointment, as I expected colorful fireworks or at least small explosions (he’s a wizard, not Bilbo with a matchbook!) His light-filled rescue in the goblin cave likewise lacked much of special effects or pyrotechnics. Sting glows, but it seemed a disappointment that Glamdring doesn’t.

This seems like a lot of negativity, but honestly, I enjoyed the film and would see it again. Unlike some fans, I’m not desolated by heresies committed on the adaptation. It was fun and clever, with great tie in moments to the first set of movies. Thorin is very different (and very Aragorn) but noble and likeable as he risks his life repeatedly for the useless hobbit, since that’s what a king does (like Aragorn). While Thorin’s and Bilbo’s relationship isn’t identical to the book, it has some interesting room to develop, and I can’t wait to see how they feel about each other in the War of the Five Armies. Our hero, who played befuddled terribly British Arthur Dent and terribly puzzled  British John Watson seems ideal for proper English gentleman Bilbo. I’d always pictured Bilbo as pudgier, but there was enough roundness to get the point across. His power of “hiding” is not really addressed with the LotR hobbits, but it works well here, laying the groundwork for current and future heroic deeds.

Gollum seemed straight out of The Two Towers, with his split personality and fish song. That said, he was fantastic and delightful in every way. The riddle game was realistic, with the right blend of playful and truly creepy.  The moment where Bilbo showed pity was beautifully done…though Bilbo somewhat spoiled it by kicking him in the face. Nice pitying.

There were other delightful moments: The elves were not as “silly” as in the book, but they did try to entertain the dwarves with fresh salads and graceful harping, to predictable results. I loved that the dwarves wanted chips (though those seem more British Hobbit than Germanic dwarf to me). The White Council was believable as they bickered over whether the current peace was real, or foreboding of darker times to come. And I’m sure fans were thrilled to see this scene, which was absent from the book but important in the bigger picture. It was also interesting to get into Gandalf’s touching reason for recruiting Bilbo (and presumably other hobbits): “[It’s] the small things – the everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay.” Very nice, and it links with LotR themes and Bilbo’s future.

Should you see this film, LotR part four? Sure, if LotR part four’s what you’re in the mood for. But I should warn you, its attempts to be “more epic” and tell a “big LotR story” have robbed it of some original Hobbit charm.

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Filed under Books, Films, Pop Culture, Tolkien: Hobbit and LotR, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fantasy

Twilight in India

I’ve been reading the Tiger’s Curse series (Tiger’s Curse Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck with a fourth book coming soon), and I’m struck by how similar it is to Twilight. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity.

This book really feels like Twilight: India in so many ways. In this first person account, a moody teenager starts working for a circus and feels a strange connection with a  tiger. When she’s asked to be the tiger’s handler on a trip to India (despite her total lack of qualifications) she learns that the tiger is actually a cursed prince. Her arrival has partially broken his curse, and now he can regain his hot, smoldering human form for twenty four minutes a day. She’s welcomed to his sumptuous mansion, where she and the tiger embark on a rather jingly poem of a prophecy to break the spell and turn him human. In the forest, his brother, also a tiger, seems a bit more conniving and calculating, compared with the almost-shy, romantic Prince Ren.

Rather than being revolted by his savage tiger side, she’s terribly drawn to it. She’s less trusting of the prince in his human, form, though hse soon succumbs to that side as well. Much like Bella, she platonically cuddles him each night, protected by the fact that he must stay a tiger most of the time.

“Ren’s death was unbearable. If he was dead, then so was I. I was drowning in sorrow; I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t have any will left to drive me”  (193). Her all-consuming passion for Ren is the biggest link with Twilight. Back home, Kelsey has only a foster family, and no friends or activities of note. She’s likely to give it all up to become an Indian princess.

Kels watches in repelled fascination as the two tigers hunt an antelope, admiring the grisly spectacle. She feels incredibly deep, instant, heedless love for Ren, but also an attraction to his brother. She often finds herself in the role of peacemaker between them, though she also incites their competition by allowing them both to show affection and even kiss her. Meanwhile, they both treat her as the helpless, skillless maiden who must always have one of them to babysit her. He also carries her many times, as he has a magical strength she lacks and sings her lullabies to soothe her to sleep. From her fainting spells to her vision of Ren as her protective warrior angel, she has far too much damsel about her. Like Edward, he lived over a century ago, and has spent far too much time not being quite human. He seems to consider her his link to humanity, the only woman he has ever or could ever love. Meanwhile, she’s certain they can never be together, since if the curse is broken, he can marry an Indian princess or supermodel. They have fights and breakups as one is determined not to burden or tie down the other. When she pulls away, he becomes aggressive and pushy, physically grabbing her and tricking her into going on a date with him, for which he threatens to hold her on his lap and force feed her if she won’t talk to him. She even complains that he’s eying her as if she’s an antelope he’s going to hunt. We’re in Tiwlight all over again.

Durga gives Kelsey a gada, a golden club, but tells her it’s mostly for “the warrior at her side” to use to protect her. She give Kelsey a cobra who is “sensitive “and longs to be loved for who she is,” a clear reflection of Kelsey herself. Kelsey is terrified of it.

The author seems to know her mythology, from appointing Durga as the goddess of their quest to inserting obscure fairytales like the legend of the golden fruit. Likewise the foods and lifestyle of India are presented with lots of believable, interesting detail, free of condescension. That said, the introduction of Japanese kappa demons seems unnecessary.

The writing is alluring, but a bit clumsy and teenagerish, with unlikely ccolloquiolisms from the ancient Indians. It’s heavy on Kelsey’s thoughts and emotions. Since they’re going on a fairytale-style quest, with a good chunk of Indiana Jones action-adventure, there’s far more plot than in Twilight. I guess we’ll see if the heroine gets more girl power than her competition…

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Asian-Inspired Fantasy Novels

I’m speaking at Mythcon about Asian-inspired fantasy novels, and I thought I’d post the ones I’ve been reading, along with a few of my comments:

  • Tiger Moon Antonia Michaelis
  • A fairytalelike Indian adventure of a hero boy sent by the gods to rescue a princess
  • Thirteen Orphans Jane Lindskold
  • Urban American fantasy with mah-jong magic
  • Fox Woman Kij Johnson
  • Sensual fairytale retelling from the fox wife’s point of view
  • Detective Inspector Chen novels Liz Williams
  • He battles demons and solves magical mysteries, freeing spirits and defending his demon bride in Singapore.
  • Under Heaven Guy Gavriel Kay
  • An epic struggle with amazing description and detail
  • Ladylord Sasha Miller
  • Sensual tale of magic and intrigue
  • Imperial Lady Andre Norton and Susan Shwartz
  • A girl-power fantasy like many of Norton’s as the bride seeks power and romance far from her native China.
  • Shwartz, Susan, Silk Roads and Shadows
  • Travels and ancient legends in a Byzantine quest.
  • Interesting Times Terry Pratchett
  • A Discworld novel follows Rincewind to ancient China, or close enough
  • A Heroine of the World Tanith Lee
  • Dragon in Chains by Daniel Fox
  • A violent, fast-paced epic of the one boy who can tame the waking dragon
  • Lord of Light
  • On a futuristic world, characters reenact the Indian pantheon
  • Naamah’s Kiss and Naamah’s Curse Jacqueline Carey
  • One of Carey’s sensual heroines travels to China, Mongolia, and then India to rescue a dragon trapped in a princess and free her beloved from the power of love.
  • Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice, Trickster’s Queen  (southeast asia)
  • A destined queen must discover her path, along with a raven-god and a thief’s daughter
  • The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander
  • A child’s fairytale as a prince trades six magical gifts for wisdom
  • Suzanne Fisher Staples, Shiva’s Fire
  • Pleasant tale of a girl who finds magic through dance
  • Tiger’s Curse Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Destiny Colleen Houck
  • A Twilight-style fantasy romance as an American teen quests to free her tiger-prince from his curse
  • Spirit’s Princess Esther Freisner
  • Following Helen of Troy and Nefertiti, Freisner writes a girl power tale of ancient Japan
  • Sandman: The Dream Hunters
  • A retold fairytale of a fox offering her life for the priest she loves, urged by the King of Dreams.
  • Across the Nightingale Floor Lian Hearn
  • A teen tale of revenge and intrigue blended with forbidden love.
  • Silver Phoenix
  • Lovely Chinese girl power fantasy
  • Shadows on the Moon Zoë Marriott
  • The Japanese Cinderella must choose between happiness and a powerful revenge
  • Cinder Marissa Meyer
  • Dystopian science fiction Cinderella featuring a metal-footed cyborg
  • Bound Donna Jo Napoli
  • Chinese Cinderella classic retelling
  • Cybele’s Secret
  • A fairytale of Anatolia/Turkey and sequel to the author’s Romanian 12 Dancing Princesses
  • Toads and Diamonds
  • Delightful version of the Grimms tale, set in mystical India
  • Additional Resources:
  • http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/306.Chinese_and_Japanese_Fantasy
  • http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/asian-fantasy
  • http://www.swantower.com/misc/settings.html.
  • http://moonsong.us/mythcon43/mc43panel.html

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