Welcome

Come on and join author Melissa Bradley as she sets off on her latest adventure...

WARNING

If you are not 18, please exit stage left. While there is normally nothing naughty here, I do write and review erotica so there are links to spicy stuff and the occasional heated excerpt.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Hey Imaginarians, I am scarce these days and I apologize, but my computer is having some serious issues and i have no idea when I will be able to get back to you all. Bear with me as I handle this situation. I have only my iPod and that is a poor substitute for my computer. This could not come at worse time as I have a story to finish.

I'm going to need lots of chocolate, lots of alcohol and serious help. :(

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Favorite Martian Blog Fest

Happy Monday! Today I am participating in the My Favorite Martian Blog Fest sponsored by two of my fave people out there Maurice and Nigel over at the ultra cool site, The Geek Twins. You can check out all of my brilliant fellow participants here.

Remember that show, My Favorite Martian? I do. I used to catch it on reruns here in Chicago on the local station WGBO. Ahh...Bill Bixby, how I miss thee...

Anyway, today we get to talk about our favorite Martian (or non-Martian) and why we love them. I have so many favorites that it was hard to narrow it down. But, after much soul-searching, the choice was pretty clear. My favorite non-Martian is Q.

Part of the Q Continuum , Q is an omnipotent and all powerful being whose motivations are completely vague. He can travel with a thought and call into being a entirely new species with a snap of his fingers. Who would not want to travel round the universe with this guy. Sure he's obnoxious, but he is funny as hell and could create a planet just for you. He could give you the wisdom of the ages, but then again he could just as easily turn you into primordial ooze or a sub-atomic particle. then again he could do the same thing to that psycho co-worker you have to put up with.  It all depends on his mood.

Q And Tell:

Gene Roddenberry named him in honor of his friend Janet Quarton.

He is played by John De Lancie, who also wrote a novel called I, Q.

John's real-life son, Keegan, played Little Q or q in the Voyager Episode Q2

He made his debut in the Next Generation premiere episode Encounter at Farpoint.

So who or what are your favorite Martians, aliens and other extra-terrestrials?


Thursday, January 17, 2013

At A Loss

My most profound apologies for having abandoned all of you of late. I have been working a lot at a job assignment, on writing and have had several things come crashing down around me. I haven't said anything, tried to just go about doing my thing, but it is all starting to wear on me.

But one thing happened recently that has made me tired in my soul. Have you had someone touch your life just for a second, but for some reason you always remember them?  I met Erica at my nephew's Halloween party a few years ago. She came with her daughter, Tiffany, both of them these delicate little creatures who had these wonderful smiles. Erica thought it was a birthday party and brought my nephew a gift. When my sister tried to give it back, she shook her head and just smiled that ethereal smile, saying only,  "It'll be his birthday eventually." I joked with her a while that day and only met her a few times more times after that, our paths never crossing again. But, I always remembered her.

Just about 2 weeks ago I found out she was murdered. Broken to pieces by the savage brute she once called husband. It was so horrific that they could only have a picture of her on her coffin.

 I sit here sickened and horrified to my marrow.  My mind churns, keeps going back to that Halloween party, to Erica's tiny hands, her delicate arms and that huge smile. I keep seeing Tiffany laughing and playing. And this blackness settles in my heart.  I don't know why, either. I did not know her, only met her a few times. My sister knew her, was her friend. My heart breaks for her and for her Erica's family, most especially Tiffany.

Domestic violence has always been on the edges of my world. I knew kids growing up who were hit, mothers and other who got slapped around. This is why I am drawn to exceptionally strong women and constantly speak out on women's issues. I  know that there are people out there who have witnessed more far more violence than I have, who have lost loved ones to war. I  have known people who were shot, stabbed, etc. You can't live where I live and not know victims of violence. But this incident has just shaken me and I can't explain it.

I know this is an awful way to post for a Friday, but please, if you get a chance and are able, donate to organizations that help victims of domestic violence like the Community Welcome House. And pray.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Author Spotlight: Michael Offut and Oculus

I am thoroughly excited to welcome as my special guest today, talented author and friend to our blogging community, Michael Offutt. Whoo hoo! He's here spilling as much as I could get him to and talking his amazing new book, Oculus, the sequel to the brilliant Slipstream. Let's get started, shall we?



     Tell us a little about yourself. Who or what inspired you to start writing? I started to write rudimentary fantasies after I read the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (as a child). I really liked those children’s books, and it kind of all began with the map at the front. I drew my own and imagined silly things that would happen at each location. My first map was very small—just an island with one city on it. And my first story was twenty or so pages, and really quite dumb. My friend at the time liked it though. He’s the only person that read it.



       What is the inspiration behind Oculus and the first novel of the series, Slipstream? My own agnostic/atheist beliefs. I was sitting around one night reading about Erwin Schrödinger on an old college buddy’s website. My college buddy is Blas, and to this day, he’s the smartest man I’ve ever met in real life. He got a PhD in physics in his early 20’s about the time that most people get their bachelor’s from university, and he works in Los Alamos, New Mexico. When I say Blas is smart I want you to think Sheldon Cooper smart, only without any of that awkwardness. Blas is cool and flies all over the world drinking beer and hob-knobbing with other scientists at CERN. The math he posts on his website is beyond my comprehension, but it’s fascinating to know someone who can understand the stuff that others on his level--Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking--can just do in their head. Anyway, Slipstream is about the fundamental fact (observed in quantum physics) that sub-atomic particles of matter disappear and reappear all the time. If you watch Breaking Bad, you’ve probably heard Walt call himself Heisenberg. Well this name derives from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which basically states that on a subatomic level, you cannot know the physical properties of a particle (such as its position and momentum) at the same time. Take light for example: it changes from a wave to a particle depending on if someone is looking at it. Now think about that for a moment: light “knows” when it is being observed and when you’re back is turned on it, it’s behaving entirely different than when you are looking at it. Our universe is really weird. When you think of all matter being built of subatomic particles that behave like this, then you can understand why Einstein once turned to his partner and asked: Can you prove to me that the moon is actually up there when no one is looking for it? And his partner said that he couldn’t. Well this is what Slipstream is about. I came up with the idea that God isn’t what everyone thinks he is (blasphemy to some, but this is fiction). Instead, he might be an engineer who observes our universe from another universe, and because he does so, it makes our universe real as long as he’s looking at it. And I basically created three universes. There’s the one Earth is in, there’s the one Avalon is in (which is a mirror world) and then there is a third one that will be in the final book called “Eden” (book five). I also went a step further. I had God set up these huge towers on the “important” worlds of Earth and Avalon. One is white, and one is black. Inside each, he placed a box that contains a computer program that runs all of the laws of physics expressed mathematically.  As long as they continue to run smoothly, the universe runs smoothly. So literally, what I’m saying is that in “Oculus” the reason why everything operates the way it does is because it’s all been defined by a super engineer billions of years ago. I also tie all of the main character’s powers to this box. They are defined just like the speed of light is defined and are unique to him. He’s an archangel and has the power to jump universes (to go to the other two), because “angels” needed these powers to act as messengers and observers. Jordan just happens to be the last archangel, and I never discuss what happened to all the others.

     What surprised you the most about the business side of publishing? Publishing is a business. If your goal is to get a Big Five publishing contract and are getting rejected by agents, the reason you’re getting rejected is because the agent in looking at your query makes a decision that they can’t sell your book. Now let’s examine this statement. The difference between the Big Five and the small publisher is print distribution. The reason why the Big Five is in the chain bookstores and your small pub is not is because THEY OFFER A RETURN POLICY. Let that sink in. What I’m saying is a publisher HAS to have deep enough pockets to make certain that if your book doesn’t fly off the shelf, they will buy it back from the store and eat the cost of the book. Only a billion dollar company could afford to make this kind of commitment on a mass level, and they are willing to do so with one caveat: it had better not happen that often. Let’s use a prostitution analogy. There’s a pimp who has a bunch of whores who work the street corner. If you’re the whore that doesn’t get picked up and are making money for the pimp, you will get kicked to the curb. This is why so many famous people are published. The publishing companies know that name recognition is a great thing for their whores to have. Now, publishing companies in the Big Five have enough deep pockets that they can create name recognition for you. But you’d better damned be worth it, and again, this kind of depends on the uberness of your agent. Yes, there are agents out there who are level 1 and those who are level 20 and represent clients like Stephanie Meyer and Allie Condie. Not all agents are alike and a lot of this may boil down to how “personable” they are in New York City, or are they charismatic, or do they wear the right shoes? It may even be as simple as: are they rich? Let’s face it, birds of a feather flock together. Rich people hang with rich people. Skinny people hang with skinny people. Gay people hang with gay people, and so on and so forth. So I guess the thing that surprised me the most about the business-side of publishing is how cut and dried it is. And if you choose to go to a small press, realize they have no budget. They won’t be able to get you into a bookstore because they can’t eat returns. They won’t have a budget for marketing other than twitter and their own website. And you will join the ranks of millions of people who are all trying to over shout each other. But because they have little to no money invested in you, they are a lot more slack in the production of your book and allow you freedom that a Big Five publisher simply won’t do. Additionally, if you sign with a small press, make damned sure that you examine if they have incorporated, or if they are a sole proprietorship. I can go down to the State Office, get a tax I.D. number for $25, and start my own publishing company and call it whatever the hell I want. If you sign with me, and I declare bankruptcy and it’s a sole proprietorship, the bank owns the rights to your book. That means until all the money owed to creditors is settled, you get nothing. Never sign with someone that has a sole proprietorship in place UNLESS you have complete confidence in their ability to manage their finances. 

      If you were talking to a roomful of aspiring young writers, what advice would you give them. Be clear on what you desire from publishing. If you dream of being in bookstores like Barnes and Noble, you should pursue Big Five publishing and jump through all of the hoops. If print-on-demand and ebooks are fine, there’s no reason to not self-publish UNLESS you: 1) desire some help with formatting the ebook for the different e-readers, 2) don’t want to put out money for editing, and 3) don’t want to put out money for cover art. Small presses don’t typically have awesome editors, because they can’t afford to pay them well. I think Double Dragon Publishing probably has on average, 4-10 sales per year from each author that they have in their stable. Think about what I’m saying: if the publisher is paying a percentage and the editor edits a book and it only sells 10 copies, that editor is getting a paycheck so small, it might not buy lunch at Taco Bell. The only way you could ever make any money is if you edit hundreds of books or have one that becomes a best seller. So the old adage applies: you get what you pay for. And if a small press pays crap for editors, then they get crap as a result, right? I went with DDP solely based on their corporate structure and the fact that they do great original cover art with no reliance on stock photo. I may use one of their editors in the future, but for now I’ve always outsourced as it’s way quicker (there’s a waiting list of like a year to get one of theirs). Also, find out if the small publisher knows any kind of marketing. Do they provide advanced reader copies? Do they go by release dates or just throw your manuscript out the window like a pizza hot from the oven? Those are important questions because timing allows you to build hype. If your small press has no sense of timing (or could give a crap) then it may not be a good fit. No matter what, I think a newbie writer will always want to have some print copies available because you can’t market without them. Many reviewers and the website goodreads practically live off of print books. So until that changes, you will need at least, print-on-demand capability for your stories. Also, you need a website. I would just go with a free blog on blogger or on wordpress. Learn how to use it, visit mine and click through the pages and see how I’ve made some invisible and only available to people who are legitimately combing for them. The reason I say a “free blog” is because you aren’t famous, just like I’m not famous. Getting a website designer to build something out of Flash when no one knows your name is pretentious as hell, I don’t think they attract readers, and if you don’t know how to update it constantly, it will be out-of-date. You should have the flexibility of just going in, doing anything you want, and then clicking publish. And always have the most current prices and links to your books visible so that customers who go looking for your books, can find them. The key in my opinion is to make money and not spend money, so take “free” whenever you can.  Finally, know the difference between bloggers and readers. Bloggers (like me) will support you but not always buy your book. Support means clapping for you, offering you exposure on their blogs, and retweeting your tweets. Readers are the people you are after…those are the ones that read your book and probably know next to nothing about the business and probably don’t read blogs or tweet all that much. So how do you attract readers? You WRITE and you post your writing in places where readers “read.” There are sites out there like Wattpad that offer free stories and have millions of readers and apps available for the iphone. I post stories on a porn site that gets lots of readers--it results in 1000 hits on my book page a week. At the time of this posting, I have over 400,000 page views on my blog (I generate 1700 page views a day), and this is one of the reasons why. Wherever you choose to drop a story for free, always link back to your book page. It’s leaving breadcrumbs in a wilderness so that others can find you.

      Great advice and lots of interesting insights. Thank you so much, Michael. 

      For those of you who aren't familiar with Michael or his works, you can visit him at his blog. To purchase Oculus and Slipstream, please go here
 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movies: The Best Of 2012

I'm not a happy camper this morning. Not at all. That noise on the wind is my heaving sobs of abject despair. My poor Irish were massacred by the Evil Crimson Tide in the championship game last night. I need copious amounts of chocolate and wine to get through today. Some one come sing "Soft Kitty" for me, pretty please? On with the show while I mop my pride up off the floor...

Since I tortured you with the Worst, now I'm going to make you smile and give you my Best Films of 2012. Again films are subjective so one woman's treasure is certainly someone else's WTF. Now then without any further ado and in no particular order these are my very best movies this year and ones that I would gladly own and watch over and over. There are a few that I have not seen as yet so they did not make the cut

Haywire

Hell to the yeah, a woman who can kick ass and actually looks the part. Gina Carano gave us Mallory Kane, a black ops assassin who gets screwed over by her handlers. Superior script, great cast and we get to see Gina kick Ewan's, Channing's and Michael's collective asses. Booyah!

Resident Evil: Retribution

I don't care what anyone says, this franchise just keeps getting better and better. Alice is one of the finest female roles out there. She is far and away unlike any of the typical cliched female characters that are like the tribbles of film, continuing to multiply in spite of all our advancements. The 21st century and I still have to see women as girlfriends and wives of cops instead of being cops, hello End of Watch. It's also nice to see a successful horror film franchise where the women aren't brainless candy canes.

The Avengers

Joss Whedon wrote and directed and it starred a coterie of hot men. I don't need anything else, really. However... This was an epic film that delivered on so many levels, I had to see it three times in the theater. Something I have not done since LOTR.

The Hobbit

Back to Middle Earth with Peter Jackson...I was on board the instant I heard about this. I waited a hell of a long time and was enthralled from the opening scenes.  This was utter perfection.

The Dark Knight Rises

Of course Nolan's final Batman is on my list. I freaking LOVED this. JGL stole the show as did Anne Hathaway. She rocked as Cat Woman. And I don't care what anyone says about the end, Bruce Wayne is DEAD and Alfred was having a hallucination.

The Woman In Black

Daniel Radcliffe blew me away in this old fashioned creeper from Hammer. I saw it all alone in the theater and that made it even more unsettling. Epic ghost story in my opinion and one of Daniel's best performances. Harry Potter doesn't live here anymore.

Moonrise Kingdom

Oh Lord this film made me laugh and laugh. the characters were all brilliantly quirky and the dialogue was stupendous. Edward Norton as a Scout Master had me snorting my Diet Pepsi everywhere. Underneath it all is a tender tale of kids trying to find themselves.

Like I said there are several films I have yet to see like Django and Les Miserables so I could very well expand this list. Hope you enjoyed reading my take on the Best and Worst of Movies for 2012. I am looking forward to all the new stuff in 2013. Now I'm going back to bed...I don't want to face this rotten day after.  Sigh...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Movies: The Worst of 2012

Real life is still kicking my ass and I continue to be rather scarce around these parts, but I thought I'd post my Worst Movies of 2012. I have quite a list, but I chose the most heinous offenders. Fortunately, most were seen via Red Box so no real expense was felt by Yours Truly.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part Deux 

This movie is the cherry on the shit sundae that is the Twilight film series. All I can say is "Thank God, the nightmare is over."

Cosmopolis

Who the hell keeps giving Robert Pattinson work? This was a boring, confusing snorefest about a stupid rich boy.

Anna Karenina

In which fucking Keira Knightley and her sugar daddy, Joe Wright,  ruin another great novel.

The Grey

This is one male chest beating cliche after another. "I am Man, grrr... See me fight Wolf" An utter bore with lackluster acting and insipid direction. I was shocked at how bad Liam Neeson is in this film.

The Vow

I'm sorry, but I just cannot stomach sugar coated romantic dreck. They should have saved themselves the budget and gone right to the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime Movie Network. I had to double up on my diabetes meds after this one.

Chronicle

I hate found footage, but couple that with a cliche-ridden story about wastoid teenage boys who get superpowers and you have one of my worst nightmares. There was nothing original or exciting about this film whatsoever. The writing and cast were so awful, I want to bleach the experience from my brain.

What To Expect When You're Expecting

They made a movie based on an ancient self help book for pregnant women. 'Nuff said.

Playing for Keeps

Honestly Gerry, I love you. But you have got to stop doing these half-witted rom coms and get back to doing 300/Coriolanus calibre work. You haven't had chemistry with a leading lady since Lena Heady.

Okay, done ranting. I'm sure I'll be hearing all kinds of "WTF, Mel," but, movies are subjective and one woman's trash is another person's treasure. ;) Stay tuned for my Best of 2012.