Friday FaBOOolousness – March’s MarvelOoous Mashups, Awards, and a Tag Meme

We skipped February so it’s time for The Ooo Factor’s next installment of MarvelOoous Mashups.  This month I’m including a few awards that my fellow bloggers so generously awarded me, as well as participating in the widely spread Lucky 7 Meme.

First up, a big HUGE thanks to Marcy Kennedy for awarding me the Liebster Award!

Liebster is the German word for beloved person.  If anything, I have definitely developed a close friendship with Marcy, even though we’ve never met in real life.  She is one of the most supportive writing friends a girl could have, and I look forward daily to her tweets, emails, posts, and smiles.

In turn, I award these great blogging friends with the Liebster Award: Amber West and Jen L. Kirchner.  They’re my liebsters and excellent bloggers.

Jen has previously written a few great Vote Your Own Adventure blog series, but she’s now venturing out into the Sci-Fi world and provides great Gaming Reviews for Girls as well as Sci-Fi Pin Ups each month.

Amber, in addition to all of her blogging greatness, has started a new series of her own where she takes inspiration from her blog commenters to build the next portion of her story.  Her tale has just begun, so be sure and stop by her blog to contribute to her Tell Me a Story series.

I’d also like to express a big HUGE thanks to Martine Svanevik for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award and Fallon Brown for the Versatile Blogger Award.

I’ve done this a few times, but still feel like I should share the love and award a few new bloggers with the same honor.

Let’s see….who’s Kreativ?  Definitely Myndi Shafer.  Myndi blogs about anything and everything, but my favorite series is her I am Beautiful posts where she features women’s beauty from the inside out.

Who’s deserving of the Versatile Blogger Award?  Lydia Sharp of The Sharp Angle.  Lydia blogs about everything from vivacious spring colors, to the writing craft, and in one of my favorite segments, she promotes other writers and their books out in the market today in Fresh Baked Books.

THANK YOU, everyone!  Winning these awards for my posts means so very much to me, AND congratulations to the new recipients.

*****

In addition to these fabOoolous bloggers deserving of the awards, be sure to click on these sites featured in the March edition of MarvelOoous Mashups!

PART I: FabOoolous Writerly Posts

When writing, we’ve all heard to be careful with our use of flashbacks.  Luckily, Lydia Sharp helps us along with her post: Good Flashbacks, Bad Flashbacks.

All writers waffle back and forth as to whether or not they should travel down the traditional publishing route, the indie publishing route, or the self-publishing route.  These next two posts explore two of the three roads: The Ins and Outs of Indie Publishing, a guest post by PJ Sharon courtesy of Catie Rhodes, and Publishing with Small Press, a guest post by Laura Kaye courtesy of Stacy Green.  These are fabOoolous reads for all writers considering their publishing options.

Show Don’t Tell – one of the most popular phrases a writer hears when attending self-editing workshops.  Thanks to the great Angela R. Wallace, I found this wonderful example of how to show and not tell by Ilona Andrews.  Thanks for sharing, Angela!

What do we do when we want to talk about a controversial topic on our blog?  Taking a side in any controversy can be controversial in itself.  Thanks to August McLaughlin, she offers up a wonderful summation of just what to do in her post: Controversial Blog Posts – How to Make them Work.

We all know that Targeting Advertising is the Key to Success, right?  If not, check out this fabOoolous post and list of resources by Emlyn Chand.

PART II: FabOoolous Recipes

It’s Martini O’clock!  When in need of a fancy cocktail to get us through the night (or day in some circumstances), Jillian Dodd has just what we need: the Thin Mint Martini and the Salted Caramel Chocolate Martini.  YUM!!!

Part III: FabOoolous True Crime Stories

Jeffrey Dahmer didn’t corner the market on homosexual oriented serial killings. Kansas City had its own monster: Robert Berdella, a.k.a. the Butcher. While Dahmer killed his victims fairly quickly, Berdella liked to torture the young men he seduced for days and sometimes weeks. He kept a “torture book” detailing his sadistic activities. 

Ooo, Stacy really grabbed my attention with this one!  When I see an introduction like this, I’m interested.  For more about Bob’s Bazaar Bizarre, check out Stacy Green’s thrilling post.

What ‘s better than True Crime?  Throwing ghosts into the mix.  The Devil’s Weekend by Catie Rhodes does not disappoint.  To quote Catie quoting Joseph Conrad: “The horror! the horror!”

Part IV: Just Because They’re fabOoolous

Anyone who knows me, knows I love scary movies.  Especially slashers.  Which is why it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite links these past few months is Sonia G. Medeiros’ Creepiest Movie Quotes.

My vote for creepiest movie quote – “Your blood, all over me” from When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Can anyone name a few Songs that Became Movies?  It’s a lot harder than it seems.  Check out a few of the lyrical sensations that took Hollywood by storm, courtesy of Catie Rhodes.

Ever wonder what in the world the kids are talking about today?  Take a trip down memory lane with these Excellent Generational Phrases by Erin Brambilla.

Who is a Larger than Life Character?  Check out this very interesting blog post by Julie Glover where she explores theconcoctions of an author’s mind who take on their own identity and become conversational touchpoints

Julie picked Hannibal Lector as one of her top six. I have to agree…

Ever wonder what a logline would be like if we combined two movies together?  To be honest, I hadn’t either.  Not until I read Loglines from the Edge of Ridiculousness by Myndi Shafer.  This post is brilliant and very entertaining.

We can never be too safe in today’s digital world, which is why I absolutely recommend this fabOoolous Tech Safety and Security blog with Ian Thompson courtesy of Amber West.  Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like the hackers are growing exponentially today?

*****

And now for the last part of today’s special blog celebration — my participation in The Lucky 7 Meme tag game.  Thank you to Angela R. Wallace, Marcy Kennedy, Lisa Hall Wilson, Shannyn Schroeder, and Jillian Dodd for the big slap on the back (that’s how you play tag, right?).

Of course with any tagging game, there are rules…

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 writers and let them know.

Everyone knows that I’m working on my first YA mystery novel, but very few know anything about it.  I’ve kept pretty mum on my title and storyline, but considering I’m almost done with my cover and am in the final editing stage, it’s time.

So here’s an excerpt from the rough draft of my first book… drumroll please…

Football Sweetheart

Whew!  That’s the first time I’ve publically announced the name of my book!!

I’ve been editing for the past few months and I’m really not sure if this scene will actually end up on page 77, but it’s there now.  So here goes…

Aimee glanced up while singing along to Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” only to notice Jeanie wasn’t standing in the circle any longer.  She slowed her swaying, and started looking around.  Jeanie was new to the school, new to the group, and had never been out to Uncle Marty’s — not with the girls anyway.  Just as she started to panic, Aimee spotted Jeanie across the dark street talking to Bobby.   

“The nerve!”   Aimee spewed spit with the exclamation, luckily keeping her tone low enough to only grab the attention of her friends. 

Okay, so it’s not much… but I did play by the rules – page 77, 7 lines down, 7 lines of my novel.

I’ve read some great excerpts of those participating in the Lucky 7 Meme tag game these past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to more.  Here are my Lucky 7 that I’d like to return the favor and slap on the back — TAG, YOU’RE IT!

  1.        Jen L. Kirchner
  2.        Amber West
  3.        Angela R. Wallace
  4.        Nichole Chase
  5.        Stephanie Nelson
  6.        Liz Schulte
  7.        Claudia Lefeve

This was really out of my comfort zone to announce the name of my book as well as include a small excerpt.  But why not?  I sure hope my Lucky 7 take the plunge with me, but I also understand if they don’t.

What blogs have you read lately that have really stood out among the rest?  Have any good blog posts for writers regarding self-publishing or e-books that you’d like to share? Recipes? How about a favorite true crime story that sends chills down your spine?  We’d love to hear from you!

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Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Messin’ with Momma is a Bad Idea

This week Amber West and I review two new 2012 midseason replacements starring two of Hollywood’s biggest stars on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday — Fox’s Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland, and ABC’s Missing, starring Ashley Judd.

What would you do if your child went missing while studying abroad?

This frightening situation is the premise behind ABC’s new drama Missing.

The series begins with Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) as she witnesses, or overhears really, an explosion that kills her husband (CIA Agent Paul Winstone, played by Sean Bean from Game of Thrones) while talking to her son, Michael, on the telephone.

Missing then fast forwards ten years when a now eighteen year old Michael (played by Nick Eversman) informs his mother that he has been accepted to an architectural summer program in Rome.  Becca’s hesitant at first, considering Venice is where her husband was murdered, but agrees to Michael’s study abroad opportunity.

The two only have each other, and they share a very close relationship as apparent with their secret “I love you” code — 235@W’ — “23” is Michael’s soccer number; “5” because the heart is the 5th largest organ in the body; and “@W’” because Becca is the head of the Winstone household, thus making her Winstone Prime.

A concerned mother...

A little while into Michael’s trip, all texts and calls stop.  Making her worry even more, Becca receives a phone call from the architectural program that Michael has missed multiple courses and has since been withdrawn from school.  Becca decides to do what any mother would do — she takes it upon herself to travel to Rome to search for any leads and clues into her son’s disappearance.

A mother with one concern -- find her son...

Becca first visits Michael’s apartment where she discovers spoiled food on the table and his cell phone plugged into the wall charger.  What teenager goes anywhere without his or her cell phone?  She’s reading his outgoing call history when she is interrupted by a man with a gun.  A struggle ensues, but Becca kicks some serious booty, grabs his gun, and flees from the window after she hears the Italian police.

How in the world can a soccer mom (literally, she’s a soccer mom) and flower shop owner disarm and kill a man so effortlessly? Well she has bruises, but still.  Because like her deceased husband, Becca is a retired CIA agent (she retired following her husband’s death).

While on the run, Becca reaches out to an old ally (Giancarlo Rossi, played by Swept Away’s Adriano Giannini) who informs her that the man she just killed in her son’s apartment is former Italian intelligence.  This just keeps getting worse…

Becca and her ally, Giancarlo

Becca manages to track down Francesca, one of the most dialed phone numbers on Michael’s cell phone, at her place of employment (a nightclub).  Francesca admits to seeing Michael the day he disappeared and sends Becca to a soccer bar hangout where Michael likes to frequent.  Once there, Becca runs into two more men with guns.  She escapes by stealing a moped and drives back to the nightclub where she finds Francesca murdered.  This just keeps getting worse…

While resting at Giancarlo’s, Becca continues to study Michael’s phone and from a photograph discovers a surveillance camera out on the street behind her son’s apartment.  She tracks across town, breaks in, disables the security alarm, and hacks into the video footage of the day her son disappeared (she knows Thursday was the last day Francesca saw him alive).  Becca watches the surveillance as two men grab Michael and throw him into the back of a black van with French plates.  A mother’s worst fears realized… 

A distraught mother...

Becca returns to Giancarlo’s where the two discover the black van is registered to a warehouse in France. Becca’s next stop — Paris.

**Missing was filmed on location in Europe (eight different cities, I believe) — the settings are real, not studio CGI imagery.**

In the meantime, viewers meet the Italian based CIA operatives who are now hot on the trail of Becca, led by Agent Dax Miller (Cliff Curtis, Trauma).  These agents have access to Becca’s CIA file, but learn very little because of the size of said file — “the thinner the file, the better the agent.”

CIA Agent Cliff Curtis

Becca is “persona non grata” in France, and the CIA must intercept her before she crosses the border.  They send in a team who singles her out, and a fight ensues (yes, another fight).  Despite Becca’s phenomenal fight skills, the agents subdue her.

While in CIA custody, Becca somehow manages to befriend Agent Miller and he allows her three hours in France to do what she needs to do.  She immediately tracks down the warehouse and finds evidence that her son was indeed held prisoner in this location from his wall etchings — 235@W’.

Becca’s visit to the warehouse is interrupted by a guard, who she disarms and incapacitates before going about her business searching for any clues or evidence as to where Michael might be being held now.  She discovers a package of surveillance photos in a desk drawer — photos of her son since he was a small boy.  Finished at this location, Becca picks up a phone and dials the CIA requesting Agent Miller.  She lays the receiver down, allowing a trace.

Obviously she’s not completely against working with the CIA, but she has her own mission to worry about.  Nothing will stop her from finding her son.  Seems like the kidnappers picked the wrong woman to mess with…

Messin' with Momma is a bad idea...

The pilot ends with Becca walking along the streets of Paris studying the photographs from the warehouse.  Once again she is being followed and is shot in the shoulder, causing her to fall over a bridge and into a body of water.  This just keeps getting worse…

Only two episodes of Missing have aired to date, and the action does not slow down.  Becca is a woman on a mission, comparable to a female Jack Bauer.  Seriously.

Seriously, messin' with Momma is a bad idea...

Missing was a television series that my guy wasn’t all that interested in.  He thought it was just going to be another one of my mysteries that I can’t live without, so he declared Missing as one I could watch without him — we have his, hers, and ours programs.  After telling him all about the action in the first two episodes, he now wants to check it out.

But because only two episodes have aired, I must award Missing with the SSTV rating.  Not only do I like Ashley Judd (I can watch Double Jeopardy and High Crimes over and over again), but the non-stop action and actual European filming adds heat to the already rapidly boiling water.  It may not take many more episodes for Missing to be upgraded to the MacTV rating, but we’ll see…

What do you think? Have you caught an episode of Missing?  Does Becca remind you of a female Jack Bauer?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Kiefer’s new series, Touch.  And speaking of Jack Bauer, will Kiefer be able to shake his popular 24 personality we’ve all grown to love over the years with his new role?

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: Reader’s Pick Per Night, The Comedy Polls

A few weeks ago, the Tele-Tuesday readers had the chance to vote on which television dramas they can’t live without in a Pick Per Night 2012.  Today, we want to know which comedies reign supreme.

If we’ve learned anything year after year, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.   We’ve also learned to adapt to other changes as well, like the revolving door of television programs.

The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  We have fall premieres, winter premieres, summer premieres, and this new thing called midseason replacements.  Comedy seems to be at the top of this year’s midseason replacements with sitcoms such as Bent and the upcoming Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and Best Friends Forever.

And while the constant change to our network favorites continues to waffle, we must remember one thing — to laugh.

We’re watching more comedies than ever here at The Ooo Factor.  While some of our favorite veteran sitcoms still air today, we may have a different favorite that has taken over on a particular night of the week and we feel an obligation to update our readers with our 2012 choices.  But before we do, we’d like to know what everyone else watches.

If you could choose only one comedy per night, what would it be?

We’re omitting Friday and Saturday from the polls because there doesn’t appear to be any sitcoms on during the prime time hours.  Whatever happened to TGIF?  Remember those days?

Did your favorite comedy make the list?  If not, what is it?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Next week, we will announce what our viewers prefer to watch and what we here at Tele-Tuesday mark as our #1 must watch funny program in a Pick Per Night 2012: the Comedies.

 

Friday FabOoolousness – Steven Montano’s Post-Apocalyptic World

I first met Steven Montano on Twitter last year courtesy of our mutual friends, Jen L. Kirchner and Amber West.  Not only does Steven write a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy fiction series, but he hangs in one of the coolest posses in the Twitterverse.  He’s friendly, he’s funny, he loves his family (in an absolutely adorable way), and he’s a San Antonio Spurs fan.

Author Steven Montano

That’s right — Steven yells for our Texas team all the way from the great state of Washington.  I may live in Dallas and root for the Mavericks on a consistent basis, but when the Spurs and Mavs face off, I am a Spurs fan all the way.  Needless to say, I love Steven even more now.

Steven fell out of the sky one day and landed behind an accountant’s desk.  Rather than write novels about his experiences in an alternate post-apocalyptic world besieged by vampires, he decided to reconcile accounts and calculate journal entries.  Thankfully for his own sanity and our enjoyment, he still writes on the side.

Steven has published four stories in his Blood Skies series, with the most recent release, Soulrazor, releasing this past March 16th.  How about a little bite?

Blood Skies:

In the time after The Black, human survivors of the Southern Claw Alliance clash with vampire legions of the Ebon Cities in a constant war for survival. Earth as we know it has been forever damaged by an arcane storm that fused our world with distant realms of madness and terror. Things that once existed only in our nightmares stalk the earth.

Now, humanity is threatened by one of its own.

Eric Cross, an enlisted warlock in the Southern Claw military, is part of an elite team of soldiers and mages in pursuit of a woman known as Red — a witch whose stolen knowledge threatens the future of the human race. The members of Viper Squad will traverse haunted forests and blighted tundra in their search for the traitor, a journey that ultimately leads them to the necropolis of Koth.

There, in that haven of renegade undead, Cross will discover the dark origins of magic, and the true meaning of sacrifice…

Black Scars:

Something ancient has awoken. Primordial and wholly evil, a living shadow emerges from a prison made weak by the magical cataclysm called The Black. Now the Sleeper stalks the land in search of its old enemies, leaving a trail of madness and destruction in its wake.

Eric Cross, a Southern Claw warlock, has been sent to find the Woman in the Ice, the only known means of stopping this evil. Aided by a grizzled ranger and a band of wardens and inmates from a sadistic prison, Cross’ mission will bring him into conflict with an array of foes: the barbaric Gorgoloth, vampire shock troops out of the Ebon Cities, and a cadre of mercenary nihilists called the Black Circle.

On a mission that will take him from a lost temple once ruled by insidious wolf sorcerers to the vicious gladiator games of the vampire city-state of Krul to the deadly ruins of an ice city, Cross will play a pivotal role in an ancient conflict whose outcome will determine the future of the world.

Tales of the Earth: A Blood Skies Short Story:

In the time after The Black, humans battle against the onslaught of the vampire armies of the Ebon Cities.

In a desolate patch of remote wasteland, a young woman named Rooke, part of a group of prisoners held by the corrupt prison wardens called The Revengers, struggles to stay alive. Ordered to unearth a terrible chamber of ancient power and hounded by once-frozen vampire savages, Rooke’s journey into darkness will reveal forgotten secrets of the conflict that has brought The Black to our world.

But will Rooke survive long enough to tell anyone?

Soulrazor:

The war continues…

Eric Cross and his team of elite mercenaries are the bane of the Ebon Cities. Armed with the cutting-edge arcane weaponry of the Southern Claw, Cross and his crew – Black, Kane, Ronan, Maur, Grissom and Ash – have become a veritable thorn in the side of the vampire armies.

Now the team is tasked with halting vampire activity near the remote city-state of Fane, where the Ebon Cities have teamed up with a former Revenger in search of a deadly weapon called Soulrazor.

To make matters worse, something sinister has happened to Cross, and the key to his salvation is somehow directly tied to the Ebon Cities’ new soldiers: a host of necrotic angels who bear traces of divine power.

Cross and his team must travel across a blighted wilderness and do battle with a vile array of enemies as they race not only to save the city of Thornn from total annihilation, but to rescue Cross’ very soul from an enemy more powerful than he could ever imagine…

*****

When you were young, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was eighteen years old.  I actually went to college to get a Creative Writing degree (which I did, along with a minor in European History), but life got in the way and “starving artist” wasn’t really a viable career choice when my father caught ill, so I went into the first job that presented itself: accounting.  Been stuck there ever since.

But all this time, I’ve always harbored a love of writing, and I’ve pursued it as a hobby most of my life.  It was only a couple of years ago that I decided to take the plunge and publish my work on my own.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

Wow, good question…a little bit comes from everywhere.  I’m something of a popular media goofball, so I find influence in films, television, fantasy and sci-fi fiction, and music.  I also pull inspiration from my surroundings (Washington state is a gorgeous place to explore nature), from video and role-playing games, and from my own dreams, which are pretty durned scary.

Mt. Rainier, Washington -- photo by Jonas West Photography (Amber West)

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

China Mieville and J.V. Jones are my favorite authors of dark fantasy fiction.  Their ability to create new worlds and populate those worlds with believable characters and unusual but totally realistic conflicts are unparalleled.  I also love their prose, and I try to emulate some bastardized hybridization of them both as often as I can.  ;D

I also hold a deep appreciation for Clive Barker (whose works got me into writing in the first place), Tanith Lee (whose prose taught me how to write), John Marco and Tad Williams (whose works, at various points in my life, got me back into writing when I’d all but given up on it.)

The cover art for your books is amazing.  Did you design them yourself? 

I concocted the skeletons of the ideas for the covers, but I can’t take credit for the actual design.  Syd Gill is amazing, and she crafted the covers for Blood Skies and Black Scars.  I can’t get over what a terrific job she did.  My friend Barry Currey designed the cover for Soulrazor, and I thought he did an amazing job, as well.  The only one I designed on my own was Tales of a Blood Earth, and it’s…meh.  It’s okay.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Eric Cross and why?

Alan Edwards got the scoop on this.  Eric Cross’s physical appearance is actually based on a character I created for an NBA Basketball game for the XBOX.  The character came out looking better than I expected.  When I started working on Blood Skies, the same character name came to mind, and it occurred to me that he’d look just like that dark-haired, lean little Point Guard I had leading the Las Vegas Vipers.  Yes, I’m a dork.

I don’t normally assign actors to characters until after I finish the books.  Now, I do a regular blog post after each novel identifying which actor would get to play them, but I try not to think about that too much while I’m actually writing, since I’ve always been pretty good at imagining up people’s appearances.

As it turns out, James McAvoy gets the honor of playing Cross.  He should feel lucky.  ;D

I can see it...

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

My wife, as usual.  =D

Steven and his equally talented and beautiful wife, Liberty

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

As I mentioned before, I like to play XBOX (mostly 1st person shooters), watch NBA Basketball (Go Spurs!!!), and watch lots of movies.  I also love to hike, go bike-riding, shoot hoops, dance, and read.  I’ve also spent the last few years learning how to cook, and I must admit I’m not half bad in the kitchen these days. ;D

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your favorite television programs airing today? 

Right now we’re watching Person of Interest, Castle, Game of Thrones, Modern Family and Hot In Cleveland religiously.  There are at least a half-dozen more we want to give a shot, but as it is we only get a little bit of TV time in every night.  Oh, we’re also plowing our way through Enterprise, since we’d never gotten to watch that one when it was on the air.

Person of Interest is a favorite in our household as well...

What is your favorite movie of all-time?

I call unfair, I can’t answer that question!  ;D  I don’t have any one movie that I hold in preference to all others, but I do have a short list: Aliens, Saving Private Ryan, The Usual Suspects, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (the American version), Inception and Unforgiven top my list at the moment.  I’m also deliriously looking forward to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

I tend to sneak my own snacks in.  Paying $10 for a box of popcorn feels like getting robbed at gunpoint.

The Blood Skies series brings us vampires, witches, and zombies – Oh My!  Name your favorite book, movie, and/or television series featuring the supernatural undead. 

China Mieville’s Bas-Lag series alludes to a hidden necropolis of aristocratic undead, and I’ve always liked the way he handles vampires in his novels, making them the dregs of the netherworld.  John Steakley’s Vampire$ did a nice job of making vamps scary again instead of romantic sissies.  And you have to love the classics – Bram Stoker’s Dracula and J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla are masterworks of the vampire genre.

In film, I’ve always appreciated the brutality of vampires in the Blade films, as well as the tongue-in-cheek (yet very scary) Fright Night films (the originals…I haven’t seen the Colin Ferrell version).  And with all apologies to zombie “purists”, I’ve always enjoyed Zach Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead.  And (again with apologies), though it doesn’t feature traditional “zombies”, I think 28 Days Later is one of the best horror films ever made.

*****

Can everyone tell from Steven’s responses that he loves to smile? 🙂

Any fan of the Fright Night films is a friend of mine…and Blade?  Heck yea!  Who’s with us?

If you haven’t already, be sure to get to know Steven better by reading his blog, liking his Facebook Author Page, and following him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Do you have a question for Steven?  Have you read his Blood Skies series yet?  What’s your favorite zombie movie?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Amazon to buy a copy of Blood Skies (available in paperback and Kindle), Black Scars (available in Kindle), Tales of a Blood Earth: A Blood Skies short story (available in Kindle), and Soulrazor (available in Kindle) if you haven’t already.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Little Nip Here, a Little Tuck There

It’s almost that time of year when our favorite television programs take a summer hiatus.  That previously meant that we would have to wait until fall programming returned to watch anything new, but this isn’t necessarily the case anymore — not with summer series on networks such as USA, A&E, and TNT.  But even with these summer hits, we still don’t have the variety of TV shows to watch during the summer, which is why Amber West and I decided to return to our Netflix Queue It Up series this week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.

Has anyone ever had a crush so big on a TV actor or actress that they would watch anything that said actor or actress starred in?  That’s how I found Nip/Tuck

I first “met” Julian McMahon on a fantastic criminal profiling series (Profiler) in the late ‘90s.  When the program ended in 2000, I was ecstatic to learn that the actor who played “John Grant” joined the cast of another one of my favorite television shows, CharmedFor three years, I loved McMahon’s dual role as the demon Balthazar and his human counterpart, Cole Turner – especially his love affair with Phoebe (Alyssa Milano).  But again after just a few short years, Julian McMahon was leaving the show…

So what did I do?  I followed him over to the new FX drama, Nip/Tuck, where he plays one half of the plastic surgeon team of McNamara/Troy.

And let me just say, I was very pleased with my decision to trail him over to the new series.  Already established with hit original programming (The Shield), FX didn’t disappoint with its newest drama following two plastic surgeons and friends since college –Sean McNamara and Christian Troy.

"Tell us what you don't like about yourself."

The two doctors are nothing alike – Sean (played by Dylan Walsh) is grounded, logical, and married; while Christian (McMahon) is sexy, charming, edgy and most importantly, single.  In other words, McNamara/Troy not only succeeds because Sean and Christian are two of the best in the business, but also because of the dynamic – Sean is the “brains” and Christian the “face” of the practice.

Nip/Tuck not only focused on the practice and aired graphic plastic surgery scenes (some so vivid, even the manliest of men had to look away), but also shared the life of Sean and Christian outside the office… and their personal lives were anything but perfect.

Meet Sean’s family: Julia McNamara (played by Joely Richardson), Matt McNamara (played by John Hensley), and Annie McNamara (played by Kelsey Batelaan).

Julia
Matt
Annie

Now meet Christian’s family: Sean, Julia, Matt, and Annie.  That’s right – Christian has no one outside the McNamara clan.  But that’s okay; they love him — sometimes too much (considering his love affair with Julia that produced… well, no spoilers here) and sometimes not at all.

But despite my ongoing love affair with Julian McMahon, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the real star of Nip/Tuck is the storyline/s.  Each episode usually involves at least one plastic surgery story with a new or returning patient (patients including familiar faces such as J.K. Simmons, Rosie O’Donnell and Joan Rivers), but each season also carries out an ongoing storyline that carried the show.

What made these storylines so special?  They were dark, messed up, and some of the best drama on TV at the time.  The writers and creators of Nip/Tuck pushed the boundaries, something the regular network channels wouldn’t dream of doing (at least not then; and still not today… not really).

See? Graphic...

Don’t believe me?  Season one immediately starts with Sean’s son Matt self-circumcising himself to better please his high school girlfriend.  Yea, that’s right – self-circumcision.  Also in the first season: a baby is born (it’s no surprise that the paternity is an issue), Christian inherits a stalker, McNamara/Troy is forced into surgically removing heroin from drug mules, and one of the doctors might actually commit murder.  Oh, and there’s another paternity issue.  I’m trying really hard to not give anything away here…

My favorite season/storyline is hands down season three – The Carver.  Sean and Christian (along with new surgeon Quentin Costa, played by Bruno Campos) agree to operate on The Carver’s victims pro bono, further infuriating the serial attacker.  One thing leads to another, many fall victim to The Carver (including an entire sorority house) and Christian’s bride-to-be (Kimber, played Kelly Carlson) is kidnapped and later discovered as another completely mutilated victim of The Carver.

Of course, The Carver storyline isn’t the only on-going masterpiece of season three; it’s just my favorite.  Other popular and racy stories over the years include: Kimber’s sex doll (Kimber is ultimately the love of Christian’s life, who also happens to be a porn star); trans-gender sex changes; bi-sexuality; white supremacy; extreme religious affiliations; controversial pregnancies due to genetic disorders; and lots and lots of sex.

Kimber and her sex doll

Nip/Tuck featured many famous guest stars over the years (Portia de Rossi, Bradley Cooper, Famke Janssen, Vanessa Redgrave, Rhona Mitra, Brittany Snow, Jacqueline Bisset, Mario Lopez, Sharon Gless, AnnaLynne McCord, Katee Sackhoff, and Rose McGowan to just name a few), but the heart of the story belonged to Sean, Christian, Julia, Matt, Annie, Kimber, and Liz Cruz (Sean and Christian’s gay anesthesiologist played by Roma Maffia).

Liz is really the glue that holds McNamara and Troy together...

I literally could go on and on about Nip/Tuck, it is absolutely one of my favorites of all time.  It’s not for those with weak stomachs or those with strong convictions, but to me is still worthy of a GTV rating —  fine TV is like fine dining at its best: bone-in-filet cooked to perfection with a side of lobster baked macaroni and cheese, served with a $100 bottle of Cabernet and table-side banana fosters for dessert.

To this day, I will still give FX’s original programs a try because of their “out-side-the-box” way of producing and writing.  Seriously, look at their resume since:  Rescue Me, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dirt, The Riches, Damages, and Sons of Anarchy.  And what about the network’s most recent hits:  Justified, Archer, The League, and American Horror Story?  If you haven’t already, give FX a try.   But first – queue up Nip/Tuck on Netflix and watch the 100 episodes in order.

What do you think? Did you watch Nip/Tuck?  Are you a McNamara or a Troy fan?  Which storyline was your favorite and why?  Do you have a TV crush that you’ve followed from program to program?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see which programs she recommends our WatchWed viewers queue up on Netflix this summer — I smell a few BBC series in the air…

Come back next week when Amber and I review two of TV’s newest dramas starring two of Hollywood’s biggest stars – Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Missing, starring Ashley Judd.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: The Hot New Thing – Midseason Replacements

If we’ve learned anything year after year, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.   We’ve also learned to adapt to other changes as well, like the revolving door of television programs.

The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  We have fall premieres, winter premieres, summer premieres, and now we have this new set of TV programs called midseason replacements.

Does a “midseason replacement” mean that the veteran show it is replacing midseason has actually been cancelled?  Not necessarily…

It seems the terminology “midseason replacement” is simply the networks’ way of testing the market for a new pilot series, instead of rushing the cancellation of current programs airing today to only regret it later.  We live in a marketing based world – why not order a few episodes of a new show to air in April in order to test the waters in a popular timeslot before announcing the plans for the next season in May?

*****

Bent

Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet, Saving Silverman), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce.  With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations.  She hires Pete (David Walton, Perfect Couples), a contractor who is also trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life (recovering gambling addict) as well.

Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants.  We can definitely smell the romance brewing between these two and the sitcom hasn’t even premiered yet.

The new comedy also stars: Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as Pete’s father; Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister; and Joey King (Ramona & Beezus) as Alex’s daughter.

Bent premieres Wednesday, March 21st on NBC.

*****

Best Friends Forever

Created by and starring Lennon Parham (as Lennon White, from Accidentally on Purpose) and Jessica St. Clair (as Jessica Black, from Bridesmaids), Best Friends Forever follows two lifelong friends after one of them (Jessica) is served divorce papers.  After the news that her marriage is over, Jessica decides to leave California and return to New York where she moves in with Lennon in the old apartment the two previously shared.

The two women pick up right where they left off, which isn’t helping Lennon’s boyfriend (Joe Foley, played by comedian Luka Jones) feel at home in the apartment where he lives too.  In addition to Lennon’s potential relationship troubles, Jessica reconnects with an old friend (Rav Stark, played by Stephen Schneider) who might just have a flame still burning for her, making her new single life more complicated that she originally bargained for.

It appears the sitcom is just as much about the women’s friendship as it is their romantic lives’ ups and downs…

 Best Friends Forever, premieres Wednesday, April 4th on NBC.

*****

Scandal

Scandal stars Kerry Washington (from the Fantastic Four movies) as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who is now operating her very own private crisis management firm.  She hires an apparently qualified staff; a staff that successfully fixes the firm’s client’s problems, but also brings their own issues to the table: Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick, Lost); Harrison (Columbus Short, The Losers); Hack (Guillermo Diaz, Weeds); Abby (Darby Stanchfield, Jericho); and Quinn (Katie Lowes, Easy Money).

Scandal also stars Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) as Fitzgerald Grant, President of the United States, and Jeff Perry (My So Called Life) as Cyrus Beene, the President’s Chief of Staff.  ** It is rumored that the new drama is loosely inspired by the actual life of President George H. W. Bush’s former press aide…**

Looks scandalous to me...

Will Olivia succeed in starting her new life?  Or will the secrets she has worked so diligently to hide in her past resurface?  Will her staff help her, or will they hold her back?

Scandal premieres Thursday, April 5th on ABC.

*****

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 tells the story of two unlikely roommates surviving in New York City…

Roommate #1: June (played by Dreama Walker, Seven Deadly Sins) hails from the Midwest, yet uproots her life for her ideal job in corporate America.  Only when she arrives in The Big Apple, she discovers her position has been eliminated, so she does what everyone does at least once in their lifetime – she becomes a barista.

Roommate #2: Chloe (played by Krysten Ritter, Breaking Bad) is a partying socialite who has been accused on more than one occasion of being a con artist, and she is constantly hanging out with her best friend (James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek).

Will June survive NYC?  Will she heed everyone’s warning to not trust the “B” in Apt. 23? Will James Van Der Beek playing a fictionalized version of himself be enough to keep this new comedy alive?

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 premieres Wednesday, April 11th on ABC.

*****

NYC 22

And of course the midseason replacements would not be complete without a police procedural…

Not to be confused with ABC’s Rookie Blue, NYC 22 follows six NYPD rookies as they adjust to their new life on patrol.  The group consists of: Jennifer “White House” Perry (LeeLee Sobieski, Joan of Arc), a former marine; Ray “Lazarus” Harper (Adam Goldberg, Dazed and Confused), an older rookie than the others with a previous career in police news reporting; Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte, Raising Victor Vargas), who has a few criminals in her family’s past; Ahmad Kahn (Tom Reed), a former Afghani native; Kenny McClaren (Stark Sands, Generation Kill), who falls in line as a 4th generation cop; and Jayson “Jackpot” Toney (Harold House Moore, Necessary Roughness), a former basketball star who should have seen success in the NBA.

Clearly, the six rookies form a much diversified group with extremely different backgrounds, who now share the same goal — protect the streets of New York City.

The drama also stars Terry Kinney (Oz) as Field Training Officer, Daniel “Yoda” Dean, and Felix Solis (The Good Wife) as Sergeant Terry Howard.  Doesn’t everyone just love the nicknames?

NYC 22 premieres Sunday, April 15th on CBS.

*****

What do you think?  Do you plan to watch any of these new programs?  Which show has the most promise and why?  The least?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Roni Loren’s Crash Into You

Last year, I met Roni Loren on Twitter and immediately fell in love with her blog and her voice.  At the time, Roni published two different types of blogs – one for writers and one for her brand.  You see, Roni is a romance writer and to attract us to her style and words, she publishes a Boyfriend of the Week post every Tuesday containing drool-worthy and day-dreamy photos of hot, hot guys (mostly celebrities).

Author Roni Loren

Roni has been writing romance novels since the age of fifteen, when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them.  Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has.  Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son — funny story: her husband used to live in my home town and was my brother’s boss — small world.

Since the inception of our cyberspace friendship, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Roni in person.  She is just as delightful in “real” life as she is online.  She isn’t afraid to help the rest of us struggling to get our first work out, and she has the pop culture knowledge for those days when we just need a break and want to talk TV and movies (and many of you know, for me, this is all the time).

Roni debuted her erotic romance novel, Crash Into You, earlier this year.  How about a tease (pun intended!)?

Crash Into You:

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once he is stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger.  Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

*****

When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?

I always loved to read, but in 5th grade my teacher started reading a chapter of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle to us every day. That was way too slow for me, so I went to the library and proceeded to read all the books in the series. I remember thinking then that it’d be really cool to be a writer.

But I didn’t think about it seriously again until I was in high school. I wrote a novel at 15 (that was basically really crappy New Kids on the Block fan fiction), but that gave me the bug. I went to college as a double major in English and Psychology, but ended up being overwhelmed with two majors. So I dropped the English to be more “practical.”

I wrote here and there while I was building my social work career, but didn’t get serious about it until I had a baby and became a stay at home mom. That’s when I finally decided–okay, let’s do this. A little over three years later, here I am. : ) Took a while to get here, but I kind of always knew it was where I wanted to be.

Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

I honestly find inspiration everywhere. It can be something really small that sparks a book idea. For CRASH, I pulled from my former life as a social worker and research I did in college. For STILL INTO YOU (coming June 2012), I was inspired by, of all things, a Reba McEntire song. For MELT INTO YOU (coming July 2012), I actually got an idea when I saw a commercial for the Dr. Phil show. The story question that came to me: What would happen if America’s leading relationship expert was really gay? Would he fake a marriage to be accepted as an expert by the mainstream? My heroine in MELT ends up engaged to her gay best friend who is trying to get a TV deal for his relationship show.

So you never know when inspiration will hit. : )

Who are a few of your favorite authors?

In my genre, I love Maya Banks, Lauren Dane, Shayla Black, Lorelei James, Joey W. Hill, and Jaci Burton. The list can go on and on. : )

The cover art for your book is super sexy.  Did you design it yourself?

Lol, definitely not. I have zero talent when it comes to design. Berkley asked me to give them an idea of what I’d like and had me send character descriptions and inspiration pics. All I told them was that I’d love a couple in the rain because a pivotal scene happens in the rain. Then voila, the talented art department sends back this gorgeous cover. Berkley does some of the best covers. It’s actually one of the reasons why they were at the top of my list when my agent was submitting my manuscript to publishers.

Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters.  Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Brynn and why?

I honestly didn’t have a clear picture of Brynn at the start. The hero is usually clearer because I often pick celebrities for inspiration early on for the hero. But when I sent in my pics for Brynn to the art department, I used a dressed-down, make-up free Scarlett Johanssen. It’s not *exactly* how I picture Brynn but that’s the closest I could find.

Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?

Country singer Blake Shelton is constantly in my brain these days because I’m wrapping up the draft of Book 3 and he’s the visual inspiration for my cowboy hero. : )

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to cook and have a bit of a cookbook addiction (like two full bookcases worth of them). I also love live music, so the hubs and I go to lots of concerts.

You’re an LSU grad (sorry about the National Championship; I was yelling for your team!) and the city of New Orleans holds a special place in your heart.  What is your favorite restaurant and attraction in The Big Easy? 

Let’s not speak of the National Championship. My household is still in mourning. And I do love New Orleans since it’s my hometown. Hard to pick a favorite restaurant because there are so many good ones. The food really is its own attraction. But anytime I go home I must have these things at least once: boiled seafood (preferably crabs), a fried shrimp poboy, a muffaletta, and beignets.

I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today? 

Top Chef, True Blood, American Idol, and Vampire Diaries. Two Broke Girls and New Girl are also moving up the list.

I know you love the reality TV like me, particularly Big Brother.  Which season and houseguest is your favorite of all-time? 

I was a big fan of Evil Dick during his original season. Also liked Janelle. And who could hate Jordan, she was so darn sweet.

What is your favorite movie?

Dirty Dancing – I think that’s the movie that planted the seed that eventually grew into me becoming a romance writer.

We’ll always love Baby and Johnny…

What snacks do you order when at a movie theater? 

We usually go to a theater that serves full meals and drinks, so I usually get pizza or chips and queso. Though the last movie I saw, I just had a martini, lol.

Lastly, I know I’m not alone when I say that I love your Boyfriend of the Week blog series.  Who has been the most and least popular “boyfriend” with the readers and were you surprised by the feedback? 

Surprisingly, the one that still gets the most hits is Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. I still get like 100 hits a week on that one and it’s an old post. As for least popular, it’s usually the lesser known people–guys that are models and not actors or new to the acting scene.

*****

Isn’t she the best?  She writes romance, she’s a fan of college football to the point of real fandom levels, she shares the love with hair-band members from the ‘80s in her Boyfriend of the Week posts, and she’s not afraid to admit she watches reality TV — Roni is an all-around great girl.

If you haven’t already, be sure to get to know Roni better by reading her blog, liking her Facebook Author Page, and following her on Twitter and Goodreads.

Do you have a question for Roni?  Have you read Crash Into You yet?  Are there any other New Kids on the Block fans out there who’d like to join Roni and me in celebrating one of the best bands of our childhood?  Which New Kid did you crush on?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Amazon (available in paperback and Kindle) or Barnes and Noble (available in paperback and Nook) to buy a copy of Crash Into You if you haven’t already!

For those of you lucky enough to be around the DFW, Chicago, and Anaheim areas, take a look at Roni’s upcoming appearances for your chance to meet her!

Texas Two-Step Conference (3/30-4/1) – Book signing and on a panel with agent Sara Megibow
DFW Con (5/19-5/20) – Presenting two workshops: one on love scenes and another on querying
**I’ve taken Roni’s querying workshop at a local writer’s group and it is FANTASTIC.  I highly recommend…
Romantic Times Convention (Chicago, IL) April – Book signing
RWA Nationals (Anaheim, CA) July – Book signing, on two workshop panels (tbd)

For more info on any of these, visit the events page on her website.