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


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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Field Trip Friday

It's Friday...Whoo Hoo!! And it is the last day of the month, can you believe it? Where has the summer gone? Anyway, today is a field trip. I am over at my publisher, Amber Quill Press' blog. Come on and check it out here as I talk about the importance of humor breaking up the tension in novels and in life. There's a fun little excerpt from Maxie Briscoe: Werewolf as well.

Since today is the last day of the month, that means that next Wednesday will be Captain Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Come on and join our merry band of writers as we talk about insecurities and triumphs.

In morenews of the awesome variety, Jessica Bell over at The Alliterative Allomorph has some wonderful breaking news about her brilliant novel, String Bridge. Head on over and give her some love. The wonderful Siv Maria from Been There, Done That is participating in a blog fest from Wayman Publishing to support author Melynda Fleury with her fight against diabetes. Please help, however you can.

I'll leave you with a picture of Wolf Lake, right near my house. It literally starts at the end of my street and straddles the Illinois/Indiana border. I cross the street and I am in Indiana, that's how close I live and yet, I'm still in Chicago. Or so says my taxes. LOL Happy weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bound By Dragonsfyre Book One: A Review

Happy Thursday, Imaginarians! I've got good stuff today. First, tomorrow I will be blogging over at my publisher, Amber Quill and I will have the link posted s soon as it goes live. I hope you'll stop by. Secondly, I'm finally getting to bring you my review for a book that I had been waiting a long time for, Julia Phillips Smith's Bound By Dragonsfyre. It is Book One of the Dragonsfyre trilogy, set in the realm of the Eighth Dominion, a world where nobles hold sway over the land and dragons, the skies.  So without further ado...

Scorpius, the falconer's orphaned apprentice, has seen the savagery wrought by both man and dragon. He heeded his experiences well, learning to survive and keep out of trouble. At sixteen, Fate, in guise of assassins, changes the boy's life forever, sending Scorpius away from his master to become Lord Thibault's man. With his new, elevated position at the young prince's side, Scorpius finds himself neck deep in court intrigues, one of which will give him the knowledge of his true parentage. The other will bring him face to face with a mysterious noble house that has the power to call the fearsome beasts of the sky.

Scorpius is perhaps one of the most compelling characters I have ever read. In a word...Wow! From the opening pages when we first meet him, struggling to find his place at the falconer's side, to last scene as Lord Thibault's man, he captivates. We feel each one of his triumphs and failures as though they were our own.

Julia Phillips Smith delivers a gripping, coming-of-age fantasy tale that is Martin-esque in it's subversion of magical elements for brutal violence and political games. Bound is filled with beautiful descriptions and complex plot twists that warp and weft into an exhilarating, brilliant adventure. The Eight Dominion is a savage wonder, a place you will long to return to. This is a superb beginning to what will surely be an epic fantasy saga.

Bound By Dragonsfyre: Book One of the Dragonsfyre Trilogy

Visit Julia


Intrigued by Julia's book? What are you reading right now? Have a great day and I hope to see you at Amber Quill tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Best Movies I Have Ever Seen: Kill Bill Vols. I & II

I recently listed 50 (well more like twice that) of my favorite movies. I could not include all of them as they would fill the volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittannica from  A to L. Besides, a list doesn't convey passion or feeling. So every now and then, I'm going to share with you all some of my  faves through the occasional review here. First up, two films that are really one continuous tale, Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece vision, Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2. This review is also part of my friend M's QT Blogathon in celebration of Tarantino's upcoming December release Django Unchained

There are not enough words in the English language to adequately describe my love for Tarantino and his strong female characters. Like the god himself, Joss Whedon, Q's ladies are unique. They are in-your-face, intelligent and more often than not, deadly. Especially in the Kill Bill flicks. For those not familiar, the Kill Bill movies center on The Bride, a former member of the Deadly Vipers assassination squad. She seeks revenge on her former boss and teammates after they tried to kill her and slaughtered members of her wedding party. The attempt cost The Bride  not only years of her life, but her child as well. Then to add to her pain, while she has been in a coma, one of the orderlies has been raping her and letting others pay for the same sick action.

This is one of the finest revenge films ever crafted in my opinion. The character of The Bride is a warrior woman who seeks her own vengeance. In complete contrast to the nauseating soft, passive aggressive females and damsels in distress Hollywood is forever cramming down our throats, The Bride is that rare breath of pure, dizzying oxygen. Uma Thurman owns this role to her pinkie toes. Favorite scene is when she takes down O-Ren's Crazy 88 gang samurai style, slashing, hacking and stabbing, getting coated with blood.

And  it's not just The Bride who stands out here, oh no. Check the coterie of female villains. You have the sociopath Elle Driver, the sadistic O-Ren Ishii and the badass Vernita Green. They don't rely on poison to kill. (Can I get an Amen?) They are combat trained, weapons experts with a passion for the kill, just like any male assassin. They don't mind blood on their hands or their clothes. Darryl Hannah, Lucy Liu and Vivica Fox are outstanding, delivering career performances. These are four of the best roles ever written for women.

Now, lest you think I have forgotten the men in here, let me tell you David Carradine and Michael Madsen turn in two of their finest performances, ever. There could be no other actors in these roles as far as I'm concerned. David Carradine is absolutely perfect as the sadistic Deadly Viper leader, Bill. He brings the exploitation film sensibility along with that spaghetti western cool. Michael Madsen is pure deadly bastard while Sonny Chiba is epic as Hattori Hanzo, swordmaster extraordinaire, who agrees to create a sword especially for The Bride when she tells him who she is hunting.

The f/x and story are simply outstanding. I love the wire work, the fight scenes and the anime. The story is a kaleidoscopic mix of current action and flashback, a potpourri of film genres that include chanbara, girls with guns, martial arts, action, spaghetti westerns as well as rape and revenge. Q literally created a love letter to his favorite kinds of films and he takes us along for the mad ride. His passion shines through every frame of stylized violence, every bar of strange, trippy music and every syllable of brilliant dialogue.

One final compliment has to go to the soundtrack. Tarantino scores will never, ever be mistaken for another. They are as unique to his films as fingerprints to human beings. You get Motown, Johnny Cash, Japanese rockabilly and a whistled ditty that will burn itself into your brain and leave a scar. The RZA reins in this symphonic rodeo and makes it work.

Kill Bill is a sheer, unadulterated cinematic orgy. It is also a sucker punch to Hollywood, who has labored under the misapprehension that women can only survive childbirth and bad relationships. That we draw strength only by bonding with our sisters over handbags, shoes and martinis. You want a 50,000 kilowatt charge of female empowerment? A bloody, high octane good time? See these movies.

A brief note: If you want the full effect of Kill Bill, check out  Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. It's very hard to find, but should be well worth it as it is supposedly the entire Cannes screening plus extended anime not released in the States.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cover Reveal

Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1 by E.J. Wesley Cover Reveal Party
Author E.J. Wesley is throwing a blog party to celebrate the release of his new book cover and wants you to join in the fun. Jump over to his blog to learn about how you can win some awesome prizes, including $50 toward a cover of your own and advance reader copies of Blood Fugue.

Cover work by Sketcher Girl, LLC - http://sketchergirlstudios.com/

What's the Story About? 

Some folks treated the past like an old friend. The memories warmed them with fondness for what was, and hope for what was to come. Not me. When I thought of long ago, my insides curdled, and I was left feeling sour and wasted.”

Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried. She wears loneliness like a comfy sweatshirt. By the age of twenty-one, she was the last living member of her immediate family. Or so she thought…

“We found my ‘grandfather’ sitting at his dining room table. An entire scorched pot of coffee dangled from his shaky hand. His skin was the ashen gray shade of thunderclouds, not the rich mocha from the photo I’d seen. There were dark blue circles under each swollen red eye. A halo of white hair skirted his bald head, a crown of tangles and mats. Corpses had more life in them.”

Suddenly, instead of burying her history with the dead, Jenny is forced to confront the past. Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, she must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it.

BLOOD FUGUE by E.J. Wesley, is the first of the MOONSONGS books, a series of paranormal-action novelettes. At fewer than 13k words, BLOOD FUGUE is the perfect snack for adventurous readers who aren’t afraid of stories with bite. Available wherever fine eBooks are sold September 2012. 

Join the Party!

The Open Vein, E.J.'s blog - http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/

E.J. Wesley on the Twitter - https://twitter.com/EJWesley

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thanks & Book Reviews

First, I just wanted to say a HUGE, GINORMOUS thank you to all of you for coming out to the Writing Nut for my big spotlight yesterday. It meant the world to me and.. Well,  I LOVE you, my Imaginarians, you are the BEST!

Second, I have just finished two of the coolest books I have ever read. I mean we are talking Steve McQueen, vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle cool. The books...Savages and its prequel, Kings of Cool by Don Winslow. Let me introduce you to So Cal pot dealers, Ben and Chon, plus their playmate/girlfriend, O (Multiple O) which is short for Ophelia and... I think you can probably guess the rest of that nickname's origin. Ben and Chon are not just pot dealers, they are pot artists, growing the very best hydroponic weed ever. They can customize that White Widow seed to the particular high that you want and their clientele is more loyal than a soldier's dog. They are living the high life until a Mexican drug cartel starts to muscle in. Then it's on like two angry tigers.

The first chapter of Savages is literally just "Fuck You." From there it races down the highway in your head, a rocket fuel concoction of poetry and prose. The chapters are short, like machine gun bursts. It is a masterpiece of violence, demented plot twists and some of the best descriptions I have ever read. Winslow dives head first into the deep end of So Cal slang. For instance: instead of saying Chon drove his Mustang to San Diego, it reads: Chon rode his Pony to Sun Dog. I love it! Favorite line: Do not fuck with anyone unless you know who the fuck you're fucking with. Then don't do it.

Kings of Cool takes us back to how these three arrive at their place atop the pot scene. We see Chon as a Navy SEAL, smuggling the seeds in from Afghanistan. We ride along with Ben as he goes from college do-gooder to D o B (Doctor of Boo). It delves into their families and the surf culture drug scene in the late 60's through the cocaine party train in the early 80's. There also plot twists galore that foreshadow what is to come in Savages. I recommend reading Kings first, but that's just me.

I had no interest in the California drug trade before, but once I started, I was hooked. I finished both books in a matter of days. And it's not just the writing. Winslow's knowledge of the drug world and law enforcement is breathtaking. These books are rife with inside knowledge of how to set up grow houses, supply chains and stash houses. He sheds a lot of light on the US government's corruption and failures in the so-called War on Drugs. My jaw was agape as I sped through the pages, devouring each syllable.

These characters are not heroic by any stretch of the imagination. You will not like them, but you will be enthralled. They are savages, criminals on the fringe with no where to go but straight to the bottom. It is no wonder Oliver Stone chose to make Savages into a film. These stories will shove you out of your comfort zone and make you think. And for my fellow writers, Winslow's style is certainly one that will have you re-thinking parts of your own.

Now I have two more reviews coming out probably tomorrow and Saturday. Bear with me as I get myself organized around my own writing. I've had multiple doc appointments of late because well, my diabetes is starting to affect my kidneys. I had these two books with me to entertain myself in the waiting room because the others are ebooks and unfortunately, I don't have a Kindle or anything. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spotlight At The Writing Nut

Today is the BIG DAY...I'm featured over at The Writing Nut for Wednesday Writer's Workspace. Whoo Hoo!! Come and check it out. See what my work space looks like (you were dying to know, weren't you?) and if I have a hidden talent. Nutschell has me revealing all. And here's a look at two companions who share my writing space at times. Look at those lazy girls. Precious is the black one and Cookie is the tiger. They're my roommates cats, but they tolerate me, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Celebrating Weighted, Ciara Knight's New Release

It's Tuesday and more importantly, it's a New Release Tuesday and we are celebrating Ciara Knight and her new release, the YA apocalyptic tale, Weighted. Congrats Ciara!

Here's a little bit about Ciara...

Ciara writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her fantasy and paranormal books. Her debut novel, The Curse of Gremdon, was released to acclaimed reviews, securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from the Paranormal Romance Guild. Also, book I, Rise From Darkness, from her debut young adult Battle For Souls series, secured glowing reviews and won July Book of the Month from Long and Short Reviews.

Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She's backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Ciara is extremely sociable so please feel free to connect with her at her blog, website, Twitter,
Goodreads, or Facebook.

Weighted (Prequel Novelette)

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Here's a short excerpt from Weighted

Subject: Raeth Arteres
Date: March 8, 2185
Species: Neumarian
Status: Captured

Tick-tock…tick-tock…I clutch the sides of the steel bed in my cell and push up on my elbows. The clock, with its bronze rim, hangs high on the wall, taunting me. The long black arm of the second hand struggles up the side of the enormous disc, ticking away the last few moments of my life.


Footsteps, two by two, march to the cell door. Sucking in a long breath, I embrace the rhythmic sounds of the airship, with the occasional interruption of an engine sputtering.


The Queen’s unmistakable gait interrupts my dream-like state. It matches the sounds of the ship, as if she is an extension of the heap of metal propelling us across the desert wasteland.

“Open the door.” Her voice echoes down the narrow hall.


The hand struggles to reach the twelve. If it doesn’t make it, maybe the door won’t open. It teeters and shakes, then slides straight up in unison with the door.


“Be quick, before the parasite uses her curse on us.” Her raspy, artificial voice sends a quiver to my core.

A guard races in with a handheld device and points it at my neck. I’ve been collared like a dog. I clutch the slick metal ring around my neck, pulling it from my skin, but current zaps through my shoulders and my arm juts out to my side, shaking. Searing pain runs along my veins.

After all these years of my brother hiding me, it was inevitable I’d get caught.
Darkness swirls deep inside, brewing a storm. I can’t remember what it will do if I release it. Is it a gift, as my brother told me, or a curse, as the Queen believes? All I know is that if I unleash it, the Queen will have what she wants, so I push it down deep, keeping it hidden from her.

A man in a grey coat approaches with a syringe in his shaking hand. His left eye has been replaced by a bronze implant that clicks as it grows wide. I concentrate on remaining calm. “I-I see you s-still need me.” It is a struggle to speak against the rising will of the gift trapped inside me.

“Need you? I only need your wretched, cursed body. We must ensure your kind never threatens the world again. When I’m finished, you will serve me, and only me.”

Acid boils up in my throat but I force it down. The beast caged inside me longs for release.

You can purchase Weighted here

Barnes & Noble

Upcoming books in The Neumarian Chronicles:
Escapement (Book I) - Early 2013
Pendulum (Book II) - Mid 2013
Balance (Book III) - Early 2014

Other books by Cara Knight:
Battle for Souls Series
Rise From Darkness
Fall From Grace
Ascension of Evil - Coming in October

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Liebster Redux: 11 Badass Questions From M

My badass home girl M Hufstader of the killer blogs The Smoking Pen and Feed Me A Stray Cat, has tapped yours truly to receive her Liebster Award. Hell Yeah! And while I've tapped people already for this award, I'm still going to share 11 more things about me because well, you all want to know more don't you? I knew you did. LOL

But first let's get to M's Q's shall we?

3-D Yes or No?

I'm going to have to go with no as the tech leaves me with a headache so why pay more to be in pain.

Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

I'm a total wimp. I can't choose as I love them both equally, but for very different reasons.

What movie would you like to see in theaters that you never got to?

Gone With The Wind. I have never ever seen this on a big screen and would relish the experience.

What's your major draw for a movie: actors, director or script?

Script. I have to have a great story in order to shell out for tix. I can honestly say that I have never chosen a film because of a director or actor.

Who is your favorite person to watch movies with?

My nephew. He sits there, shuts the hell up and let's it ride. And he likes all the movies I pay to see in the theater.

Who are your top three action heroes?

Indiana Jones, Bruce Lee and Mallory Kane. For those not familiar with Mallory, she's from Soderbergh's epic film Haywire.

The zombie apocalypse is upon us-what movie characters do you want in your camp to keep you alive?

Hmm...Machete, Alice from Resident Evil,  Ripley and Vasquez from Aliens and The Terminator. I think they could work well together. I would also include any Shia LeBeouf character because we need zombie snack cakes in case things get tight.

Who is the one actor you love to hate?

That's easy, Keira Knightly. Completely over-rated and over-used. Need an English girl? Give it to Keira. I wish she would quit acting and go work at McDonald's. Eat some fries so she might put on a milligram or two. I don't know why I loathe her, but I swear I want to put out my eyes with knitting needles and pour bleach in my ears every time I'm forced to watch her on screen.

And the actor I hate myself for loving?

Channing Tatum He is so hot and he's not all that talented, I used to not like him, but then I saw an interview and well, he had me at fake mountain lion and hiding in an outhouse.

If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?

Janeane Garafalo. She's short, has my twisted, cynical sense of humor and sarcasm to spare. Like moi.

If you could change one movie ending, what would it be and why?

I'd change Twilight. Bella discovers she's into girls, stakes Edward, then runs off with Buffy the Vampire Slayer thus saving us all the misery of the subsequent films.

11 More things about me you probably don't care to know, but I'll share anyway. :)

I love the color blue, any and all shades of blue.

Pink makes me look like a ham. 

My fave Japanese monster is Rodan

I can fill your power steering fluid should you need it.

I love toast with peanut butter and banana slices

The first time I cut my hair was 8th grade. I went pixie short the day before graduation unbeknownst to my mother. Her restraint is why I survived to adulthood.

I like to blow bubbles in the house. I taught my nephews to do that and can you tell I don't have kids? LOL

My first pet was a dog named Bandit and the first street I lived on was Avenue G. They say strippers name themselves after their first pets and their home streets. I would be the G Bandit. Perfect or what?

I eat Reese's peanut butter cups by eating the outer rim first, then peeling off the top chocolate.

The only wine I like is Moscato. Can't stand anything else, but I haven't had much in the way of wine, either.

I have a scar over my right brow where my brother hit me with a piece of firewood while we were playing The Incredible Hulk.

Like what you've read? Had enough about me? I hope you all have a terrific Monday. :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Angela Renee

Happy Friday, Imaginarians! Today I am very excited to welcome author Angela Renee. She is the author of the hot new sci fi romance, You Are Mine Whoo Hoo!

How did you get started on the writing journey? Do you have a specific routine when you write?

I’ve always been a story teller and hadn’t considered writing. Then one day I was watching The Twilight Zone and the concept for You Are Mine popped into my head. What if a spaceship landed in Grant Park (a huge park in Chicago)? This story would be a little too long and complicated to tell my children, so I began writing. Ninety-eight thousand words later, I’d completed You Are Mine.

When I write, I like complete silence. I build a world in my mind and don’t like the distractions of the outside world.

What made you decide to take the plunge and go the self-publish route? What was the process like?

Many years ago when I completed You Are Mine, my children were younger and I had to do a lot of running around with them.
I submitted the novel to a few agents and two wanted to sign me on, but I wasn’t ready. I knew I wanted to spend more time with my family and on my career than writing. Now my youngest is graduating from college this coming June and I’ve found myself with more free time. I always wrote, but put publishing on the back burner. My mom reads everything I write and she asked me when I was going to start having my work published.

I’m at a place in my life where I would like to start a new career in writing and have the time to dedicate to it, so I decided to self-publish. I’ve studied the industry and know the pros and cons of self and traditional publishing. I will also be shopping around a manuscript this winter for traditional publishing. So I plan to do both. I learned the process and did a TON of research and asked a million questions before I began self-publishing. I devised an action plan and shared it with a few people I know who have self-published and allowed them to give me pointers. So I’m feeling pretty good.

What was the best piece of writing advice you have ever received? Any advice you might have for a group of aspiring writers?

Learn the craft and the business.

Tell us little about your novel, You Are Mine. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

The inspiration came from an old episode of The Twilight Zone. In this episode, people were transported from Earth to another planet. That got me to thinking about what would happen if a spaceship landed here. There’d be mass hysteria, but what happens after the hysteria ends?

Here’s the blurb for You Are Mine:

In the hundreds of special assignments Erica Morgan has worked, there was nothing that prepared her for waking one morning on an alien spaceship. More surprisingly, her captor and adversary, the leader of this mission, is the one man who could make her want to leave her home planet and embrace a different life.

D’Jarus Commodore doesn’t want a wife, but his planet is slowly dying, and their salvation lies in the people of Earth. As leader of Darien, he chooses to make a sacrifice and be the first to marry a terran. His captive bride, Erica, is like no other being he has ever met. At first sight he knows he must have her, but for obvious reasons—he did kidnap her after all—she resists him every step of the way.

To visit Angela and learn more about her and her work, please check out these links.


To Purchase You Are Mine:


Exciting News

Just a quick post to share some exciting news here. Next week, on Wednesday, August 22, I'm going to be spotlighted at The Writing Nut. Yay! I can't wait. Come on over and find out all about my writing life, my non-writing life and what my hidden talent is. Bet you can't guess.

Tomorrow, August 17th, author Angela Renee will be here. I will have a short interview with her as well as an excerpt from her new book, the hot sci fi romance,You Are Mine.

Next week I will also have a couple of book reviews. I'm finally, FINALLY starting to catch up on my reading.

I will leave you with another picture from my hike at Porcupine Mountain State Park. This is Lake of the Clouds where Brenda and I started our hike. I scooted out onto an overhang to take this. For those who asked, here is the link for the bear story.  It was part of my very first A to Z Challenge. Enjoy, it is pretty funny. Now that I am years removed from it. ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Unforgettable Place

My incredible friend, Siv over at Been There, Done That is celebrating the release of  her short story, Secrets of the Ash Tree with the Unforgettable Blogfest. Secrets will be released September 4 in the fantasy anthology Open Doors. Yay Siv!

Now, what makes this blogfest so brilliant, aside from celebrating Siv's story, is that we each get to share the person or place that is absolutely unforgettable to us. How awesome is that? To check the other incredible participants, click here

I'm going to share with you a place that I hiked to with my best friend in the entire world, Brenda. It was 1995 and I had just gotten vacation time from my first job after college. Brenda had invited me to go camping with her and I was nervous as heck. Hell, I watch horror films. Give me a hood rat with a gun or blade any day rather than some backwoods scary redneck with plans to skin me and eat me. Then there was always the distinct possibility that a Jason Voorhees type would likely come at me with an axe or machete.

I digress.

She took me to Porcupine Mountain State Park in Michigan. I had never gone hiking in my life. I'm South Side Steel Town girl and to me hiking was what one did when having to walk about 10 blocks to catch the bus.  The last time I had actually been in woods that weren't a city forest preserve was age 10 in Scouts. My troop and I had gone to Butternut Springs, a huge Girl Scout camp in Indiana. Cabin, bus, indoor plumbing... not exactly roughing it.

So Brenda and I set out on this immense trail with backpacks and tent. Now, I am voluptuous chica to say the least, even more so back then. But I had been slowly starting to lose weight, so I was eager to push myself. We started off high above the park at Lake of the Clouds, then we hiked down through some rough trails. I was a sweaty, rotten mess, but I was still feeling all right. Then fatigue started to hit and just when I was hitting pain, we came upon this scene on the trail. This is the Presque Isle River, which runs through Michigan's Upper Peninsula and empties out into Lake Superior.

Beautiful, isn't it? I couldn't believe that I, Melissa Bradley, had hiked miles into a forest and was able to see this amazing scene. It was like being in my own nature film. Scary bear encounter aside, this is one memory that will stay with me always. I was so happy to be able to share it with Brenda.This woman has always been my rock and my instigator. If I'm going to get into trouble not of my own making, she's behind it. No wonder she's on my team when the zombie horde comes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Unexpected Inspiration

Let me apologize in advance for the wordiness and no pics, but I had to share this.

I never imagined I would be so inspired when I went to my nephew's baseball banquet last night. You see, I was a last minute substitution as Mom wasn't feeling very well. I scrambled to get ready on time, then we got caught by two trains en route and arrived late.

It was a typical South Side affair with decent food, a horrible DJ, whiny sound system and over-priced drinks. We were seated all the way in the back, of course, but hey,  it was near the bar. Turned out we had some pretty good table company, too, a teammate of Cameron's, his family and one of the coaches from another team and his little boy. We had a few laughs over dinner, joking that our rather skeletal looking waiter was really a vampire. Finally, the time for trophy presentations came and it was I'm-aging-fifty-years-just-sitting-here long. We could hear about a third of what was being said because the kids were making so much noise. Then came the announcement of something called the Chad Award and silence fell.

Oscar, the manager of the first place team took the mic and started talking about this kid, Chad, he had coached. How this boy loved baseball and was always the first out and the last to leave the field. He lived for the game and could be found at the fields even when he wasn't playing. He was also a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, which is a rarity on the South Side as this is hardcore White Sox country. The remarkable thing is Chad did all of this in spite being stricken with cancer. Through chemo, hospitalizations and various doctor visits, Chad continued to play. He showed up in pain, exhausted and cheered his team whenever he wasn't strong enough to get on the field. One day, after a particularly rough chemo treatment, he came and asked his coach to play. Oscar asked him if he was sure, then looked at Chad's mom, who nodded. Chad played and was so tired by the time the game ended, his mom had to carry him to the car from the dugout. The following morning, she called Oscar with the sad news that Chad had passed away that night. He had given his all for one last game.

I was trying not to cry by this point, then they introduced the winner of the Chad Award, a kid named Justin. This award is given in Chad's honor to the 12 year old who best exemplifies the spirit of baseball and sportsmanship. I have to tell you, Justin blew me away. Like Chad, he's there everyday whether his team is playing or not, cheering the kids on.  One time, though, Justin and his team were playing a squad that was clearly not their equal. On that day a young boy named John came to the mound as a pitching substitution. John is slightly behind his peers developmentally and while he plays, he's not very good. In fact, he gets made fun of a lot. He's the worst pitcher on his team. Justin, on the other hand is a pretty good player. During this game, there was only one more out needed to end the inning and John's teammates were getting irritated that he couldn't find the strike zone as usual. Justin stepped to the plate and proceeded to take three swings, striking out. The pitches were so bad all Justin had to do was wait for four balls and he'd be on base, but he chose to take those swings and give John his first ever strike out. Justin's teammates were  less than pleased, but he knew that John needed that strikeout far more than he needed another hit.

The depth of character of both of these boys left me stunned to say the least. There was not one adult there who was not blinking rapidly and wiping a tear. I've talked about being inspired by Olympians, but last night I found a great deal to be inspired by close to home.

What are some inspiring stories you've heard? What was the most unexpected source of inspiration for you?

Friday, August 10, 2012


Plausible: Having the appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance; credible; believable.  (from Dictionary.com)

I know, what a happy post for a Friday. What can I say it was on my mind so I'm writing about it.

As authors, we create stories with characters and worlds, limited only by our imagination.  Anything and everything we want happens within the pages of our tales. However, we can get carried away with a story. We envision these mind-blowing scenes that would just be so awesome, but we forget about plausibility. What a pesky little creep! A killer of creativity! Why I've eliminated entire chapters because of this guy. Fortunately, those chapter kills came before publication. Sometimes that doesn't happen and I'll get pulled right out of a story.

Case in point. I just finished reading a historical romance. Not exactly a history lesson, if you know what I mean, but highly entertaining. Anyway, our hero and heroine are kidnapped by the villain, a loathsome bastard of a British East India Company man. Poor hero is whipped, then thrown into the hold while our heroine is enslaved in the captain's quarters. They get only brief glimpses of each other for the next four weeks or so. Until she sneaks down into the hold to get a little something, something. The author writes a very hot scene, complete with heroine running her fingers through hero's silky locks and along his strong jaw. Ah bliss...

Plausibility clobbering time.

We're talking the hold of an 18th century ship. Hello rats, hello other sailors, hello vermin. Not to mention it's been a month. Our silky-locked, strong-jawed hero is going to be pretty scruffy, smelly, emaciated and not to mention probably suffering the ill effects of having his flesh torn by a whip. And considering his condition, I don't think he'd still be able to ride her into the floor. Unless he's really an alien, but that would no longer make it just a historical.

I also recently read a sci fi in which the protagonist and villain were blasting away at each other and one of the many porthole windows on the ship got blown out. They kept fighting. Knock knock. This is outer space. It doesn't matter that the book is a low tech tale, if those windows get blown out, your characters will be sucked out into space, not continue their fight. Unless they are wearing pressurized space suits with gravity boots.

When we're writing we need to keep in mind that we can have happen whatever we want, but we need to make certain it's plausible. Otherwise we risk ruining our credibility as writers. Though I do  know there are those readers who don't care one wit about whether something is believable. When I questioned the above historical on another site, I was hammered by faithful readers of the author who told me that I had no sense of drama and romance. I mean, really, who wants to read about scruffy heroes and body odors? It's not sexy.

Now even, though there are readers out there  who don't care, I would err on the side of making it believable. You know for the other 99%.

Have you ever had to eliminate something in a story because it wasn't plausible? Have you ever read anything unbelievable that jerked you out of a book? Speak truth, I promise no one will skewer you for your opinion.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Was Your Childhood Monster...A Blogfest

In honor of the release of author Christine Rains' story Fearless, which releases today, I am talking about what my childhood monsters were. Congratulations, Christine!

And since this is a blogfest, please click here for the other amazing participants.

I know you all who know me are thinking werewolf. And while I admit to thinking my great-grandma's neighbor was a werewolf one summer, no. The Big Bad Monster from my childhood were creatures I believe my Grandpa Bradley made up or maybe it was his grandpa, it's family legend so we can't be sure, really. Anyway, these creatures were called the Hobiats (pronounced HO-BEE-OTS. They were hairy, lumpy creatures with beady red eyes that came at night to steal your toys and bite your toes. Usually it happened if you didn't clean your room, but sometimes they just wanted toys. Not to mention a good snack of little piggy toes. LOL. There was no escape, either. They could get into your room through the closet, under the bed and even scarier, through the vents. Picture this, I grew up in an old Chicago style bungalow with very big, scary vents.

 One birthday night, I think I was eight, I had gotten Malibu Barbie (I know, me with Barbie) and my father said those horrifying words, "Watch out for the Hobiats." When my parents went to bed, I got up, grabbed the big flashlight from the kitchen and my little red toy dog Iff-Iff. My canine companion and I went and sat right in front of the big vent in my room. We were positioned just right so between the two of us, we could keep an eye on the closet and my bed, too. Those Hobiats were so not going to get Barbie. After all, Santa was bringing my Barbie Pent House in just ten more days for Christmas. Barbie was staying right here. I also remembered to put on my winter boots so the Hobiats could not bite my toes. I was keeping all of my little piggies. I stayed awake as long as I could staring at that dark vent, waiting for those horrid creatures. My dad found me the next morning curled up on the floor with a dead flashlight and my toy dog. He, of course told my Uncles Dennis and Moose, who proceeded to tease me mercilessly the entire next summer.

What were your childhood monsters? Did you have or were you a cool kid who had no fear?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

She Said, He Said Our 50 Favorite Movies

Happy weekend and welcome to one-half of the dual post  She Said, He Said: Our 50 Favorite Movies. I, of course am the She Said while my good friend Brent Allard from the wonderfully brilliant site Criminal Movies is my He Said. Today we are spotlighting our 50 favorite films, well 50 of them anyway. :) These are the films we love for various reasons, not necessarily because they changed the landscape of cinema or won  Academy Awards. So here they are in no particular order, just categories for organization. And while I tried to stay at 50,  I kinda sorta went over. By a lot. In my defense there are about 500 more that I left off the list. I can't help it, I love movies. LOL And I was never one for rules anyway, even if they are my own. ;)

Click for Brent's List


The Howling (1981)
The Exorcist (1973)
John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)
Dawn of the Dead (2004) 
Halloween (1979)
Psycho (1960):
The Evil Dead trilogy (1981)
30 days of Night (2007) 
Frankenstein (1994)
 Dracula (1992)
Silver Bullet (1985)
Dog Soldiers (2002)

Sci Fi

Aliens (1987)
Star Wars trilogy (1977-83) 
E.T. (1982)
Independence Day (1996)
The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Terminator (1984)
Serenity (2005)


Thunderheart (1992)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Zodiac (2007)
The Big Easy (1986)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
The Accused (1988)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
El Mariachi (1992)
Sin City (2005)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)


Once Upon A Time In America (1984)
 Goodfellas (1990)
The Godfather (1972)
The Untouchables (1987)


Jaws (1975):
Cape Fear (1962)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Stripes (1981)
Princess Bride (1987)
Zombieland (2009)
Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)
The Thin Man (1934)

Topper (1937)
Bad Teacher (2011)


Haywire (2012)
Hanna (2011):
Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2 (2003-4)
Gladiator (2000)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Enter the Dragon (1973)


Mask (1985)
Silkwood (1983)
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
Casablanca (1942)
Whale Rider (2002)
Inherit The Wind
Sophie's Choice
Brokeback Mountain
Steel Magnolias
How Green Was My Valley
A League of Their Own (1992)

Joan of Paris (1942)


Heaven Knows Mr. Allison
Romeo and Juliet
When Harry Met Sally
Somewhere In Time
Last of the Mohicans
High Road To China


Bridge on the River Kwai
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Casualties of War
The Longest Day
Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)


Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-3)
The Crow
Big Trouble In Little China


Vanishing Point
Fast Five (2011)


Dances With Wolves
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
3:10 To Yuma (1957)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
El Dorado
The Searchers

What a long ass list, huh? I'm glad you stuck it out. What are some of your favorites? And don't forget to check out Brent's list.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Awesome Sauce

It's Friday, yeah,yeah,yeah!!! It occurred to me that there is a lot of good things happening around the blogging community so I'm going to give a little shout out to my fellow writers and friends.

Julia Phillips Smith has a new story out, Bound By Dragonsfyre, Book 1 of the Dragonsfyre trilogy. A fantasy epic that you so do not want to miss. I'll be posting my review here soon.

My friend Jeremy from Retro-Zombie has his incredible artwork available on T-Shirts now. Go on and check them out. I collect tee shirts and I can't wait to get some. Yay Jeremy!!

K.C. Kendricks, author of some of the best erotica out there has a new book out, River Walk. It's the third in a series about a shapeshifter named Sundown and his lover, Fallon, a detective. I am addicted to the series.

Need help marketing your books? I know I do. We should head right on over to Gail M. Baugniet's blog. She is hosting author and marketing guru, Phyllis Z. Miller. Phyllis is talking about  tips for using Amazon and Facebook to spread the word out about our stories.

You Should Know

I've been so neglectful of this lately, but I'll be getting back to this more frequently. Today's You Should Know is Mina over at Some Dark Romantic. I've just started getting to know her and she is incredibly fun, outspoken and smart. Her tag line is brilliant "...middle-aged Goth Mom whose dreams haven't quite breathed their last." Mina blogs on Mondays and Thursdays. She is very supportive of her fellow writers and dreamers. Go one and check her out, she's fantastic.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to come back tomorrow when I post my 50 Favorite Movies in a She Said He Said dual post with Brent at Criminal Movies. And you know there is going to be a whole host of creatures on this list...Werewolves, Elves, Ax Murderers...LOL

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Some More Inspiration

I was so fired up by the comments you all left yesterday on my Insecure Writers Support Group post that I wanted to share a song that I have recently begun to listen to as a "Pump Me Up" tune. The song is called "The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Ryan Tedder. It's all about digging deep and pressing on against your demons and all other odds.

Here's the video, it features US gymnast John Orozco, who rose to the top of his sport in spite of being a poor kid from the Bronx. Gymnastics is a hell of an expensive sport and to get where he is from where he came from, well that in itself is mighty impressive. He certainly defines fighter.

Thank you,  my friends, my fellow writers. Here's to you and finding that fighting spirit no matter what dream you are pursuing.

Stay tuned as this weekend, Brent from Criminal Movies and I will be posting a She Said He Said: Our 50 Favorite Films of All Time. It's going to be really cool.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG: When It's Toughest, Reach The Deepest

I cannot believe that it is August 1 already. Where has the year gone? I have so many writing projects that I had hoped I would have finished, queried, edited, etc. Anyway, today is the first Wednesday, which means it is also time for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group, started by the amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh. Once a month we writers help each other out by listening to our fellow authors as they air their doubts, rave about their triumphs and so on. We gather to show each other support. If you haven't joined, please do, all are welcome.

Today I want to talk about that time when things are at their darkest. When schedules have gotten so clogged with family stuff, day job commitments and other non-writing business that there is no time to sit with your stories or edits. That time when you've finished your query, sent your baby out and now the rejections are piling up like sandbags before flood waters. That time when you just can't seem to figure out what to do with the sagging middle and if you look at those characters in that room with the drugs one more time, you are going rip out your hair and run screaming into the night. Those times when you are just burned out with that novel and wonder why the heck you started down this road to begin with.

This is the test for a writer. Do we have what it takes to persevere and cross the line in gold medal fashion? I say...Yes. You. Do. In watching the Olympics, I have seen athletes in complete disarray,  shattered by pain and mistakes, rise up and fight for their dream, that Olympic medal, that personal best. You must find it within you to keep going, victory is just ahead. That saying darkest before dawn comes to mind. It's an old cliche because it is true. When we are closest to realizing our dreams, to finally finishing, the demons get bigger, the obstacles seem  insurmountable. This is when we must dig deepest and find it within us to forge ahead with that fourth round of revisions we were told were necessary, to send out more queries, though our rejections could wallpaper the entire Sistine Chapel, to find a way to get those characters out of that drug room.

Reaching for the stars is hell, but oh so worth it. You can do it, keep writing, keep fighting, keep sending out your work. You will find your way through these setbacks, this burnout, these rejections...I believe that with all my heart. If I didn't, I would not be published. I would be sitting in a cubicle, stressed out with an ulcer while Maxie, Ryanne, Nathan and my other characters all gathered dust under my bed. Things still get horrible and I still sit in a cubicle, but the walls don't seem so close because every once in a while, I see stars.

Keep on writing!