Punch Drunk Theater: Tomb Raider (kid commentary version)

Legos and Feminism FTW!

My kid is 11. When he is not playing Minecraft, he is building with Legos. He friggen’ LOVES Legos. We have never celebrated any gift-giving holiday with him in which Lego was not involved.  By now, there are roughly four million dollars worth of Lego in my house. I’d say a good $123 worth are stuck in the heating vents and $27 worth are in the vacuum cleaner.

This Jackass lives on a steady diet of custom hair pieces and hard-to-find 1-bumpers

This asshole lives on a steady diet of custom hair pieces and hard-to-find 1-bumpers

Occasionally, we all take on a family sorting project where we try to separate them by color (white, grey and black for all the spaceships, red, yellow and green for all the houses – stuff like that.) I got bored the other day and decided to start again, only this time, instead of by color, I started picking out all the Lego people.

At first, my son thought it was nice of me to be helping. But then he found a minifig he hadn’t seen in a while. Soon, he was obsessed. Every two minutes he’d get all excited and I’d hear,

“Oh, Mom! Look at this one! It’s a StarFisherSnackMonsterBlahDittyBlah!”

Then he’d shove a tiny Lego person halfway up my nose in an attempt to show me the differently shaped stripe it had on its helmet.

After a while I faded to the background. He kept going. This had turned into a thing. Then it turned into a secret thing. His sister, who had followed me out to the kitchen for a snack, was no longer allowed to help. He worked up until dinner time and for 10 minutes between bath and bed. The next day, he was at it again. All we could hear was the crash-crash-crash of Legos and the occasional whine from his sister about why she couldn’t come in his room.

“I’m making a surprise. I’ll show you all when I’m done. I swear!”

She huffed and puffed but he wouldn’t let her in. She was so pissed.

On the third day of secretive Lego building, he announced that he was finally ready for the big reveal. His sister, irritated beyond all common sense, proclaimed that she didn’t care. She was wasn’t about to appreciate ANYTHING her brother had spent so much time building. She summed up her feelings quite succinctly,

“So what. It probably doesn’t even have any girls in it.”

He answered that with the Spock Eyebrow. For the record, I love the Spock Eyebrow. He spent months learning how to do it properly and when he pulls that move you know he’s got an ace up his sleeve.

He disappeared into his room and returned with something hidden behind his back. 

“So, as you know, I was going through all my Lego people the other day. And I noticed that I had a lot of girl hair. I didn’t know what to do with any of it at first. But then I realized I had enough to make an army.”

Which is exactly what he did. He spent three days finding the perfect pieces to made this bad ass squad of lady fighters:

I think the Storm Trooper is my favorite.

I think the Storm Trooper is my favorite.

My kid loves making Lego battles. And it never occurred to him that the Lego women wouldn’t want to fight in one. So now he has an elite squad of women fighters that are all highly trained in the murder arts. Well, all except for the woman in green – she’s an Endorian anthropologist. But I am assured that every squad needs a scientist to help them make strategic decisions. Plus, she leads the army of Ewoks so it’s not like she’s sidelined or anything.

His sister was so impressed that she even told him so.

 

Writer Wednesday: Camela Thompson

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Check these ladies out!

Author Camela Thompson and her dog Annie, President of the Arch nemesis obliteration Coalition.

So majestic. So queenly.

That there is Camela Thompson and her doggo, Annie.  Camela is an accomplished author who has recently released the third book of her Hunted Series, Visions & Bones.  Annie is the President of the Arch Nemesis Obliteration Coalition.

Both of them agreed to let me preview the new book for you today. And if you like it, you’re in luck! Because until July 16th – all three books in the series are on sale for $0.99.

Book 3 of the Hunted series

Book 3 of the Hunted series

Chapter 1

Mike’s dress shoes slapped against the pavement in rapid tempo, the sound echoing up the brick walls of the buildings on either side. His sports coat billowed behind him while ragged breaths tore through his throat. He slid to a stop, his high-end shoes lacking purchase on the wet pavement. The alley smelled of piss and rotted meat, covering the stench of his fear. He scanned the entry points to the alley and then shot his gaze along the rooftop. Not seeing movement, he rattled the handle of the closest door.

“Shit.” Locked.

The next doorknob turned a fraction before the sharp catch of the lock jarred his arm. Sweat, more from panic than the warm summer night, stood on his neck and steamed against his collar. He scrambled to the next door. When the latch lifted and the heavy door gave way, he breathed a sigh of relief.

The guy washing dishes didn’t bother to turn. The cook, a fat man with a shadow of a beard, raised an eyebrow but said nothing as he lifted the handles of the deep fryer baskets.

Mike rushed past them and ducked into the men’s room. He grabbed a handful of paper towels and went into a stall to wipe away his sweat. The towels came away from his body tinted orange. Fortunately, his black clothes wouldn’t betray him. He stepped out of the stall, checked to make sure he was alone, and buried the towels beneath a mound of crumpled paper in the bin. He washed his hands and leaned to the mirror to check his eyes. Dark, but the whites showed. He visited the bar often. The lighting was crappy enough that no one would notice.

Jay’s Bar had a reputation as one of the seedier establishments near Pioneer Square. Thursday nights were slow, but Mike wouldn’t stand out. The usual mix of patrons could only be described as rumpled. Some wore wrinkled suits, some wore torn jeans, but all of them had the look of someone trying to hold onto their meager existence while doing their best to forget the past. True to form, the regulars sat hunched over their grimy piece of real estate at the bar. Mike slid onto the only empty stool, not bothering with the tables scattered around the room.

“Mikey! The usual?” Abe’s blue eyes shone under his abundant eyebrows. The man had gone gray long ago, but his beard stubbornly held onto red pigment around his mouth. Mike had often been tempted to tell the man it made him look disturbing.

“Sure.”

Abe set a glass in front of Mike and poured generously. He eyed his customer before setting the booze behind the bar. “You look like you’ve been running a race.”

Mike pulled at his collar, rubbing the material against his skin. “Nah. It’s just warm out.”

Abe snorted. “Right.”

A wave of heat pressed against Mike’s back.

“It is muggy.”

Mike’s skin crawled. The woman’s husky voice would be sexy under normal circumstances. He gripped his glass until his knuckles shone white. Afraid the tumbler would shatter in his hands, he eased up but didn’t dare turn around.

“What can I get you?” Abe’s voice was friendly, but he stared at Mike with an eyebrow raised.

“I’ll take whatever he’s having and buy him another round. Why don’t you join me at a table, Mihael?”

Mike’s eyes dried up and his scalp tightened. He hadn’t been called by that name in over one hundred years. He thought about making another run for it, but now that he was around people, she couldn’t hurt him. “Sure, Olivia. Why not?”


Camela Thompson lives with her incredibly supportive husband and strange dog in Seattle, the city where cloud cover and shadows rule. How else is a girl supposed to keep her luminescent (perfectly pasty) complexion? The rain also provides the perfect scapegoat for hiding inside with a laptop, her dog, and a hot cup of tea. Excuses for reclusive behavior get considerably more creative during the summer (she may or may not have a mild sun allergy).

And don’t forget to check out the other books in her series!

all the pretty bones cover 7.12.16

 

After ten years of living in the shadow of her stalker, a diagnosis of terminal cancer pushes Olivia Kardos to take matters into her own hands. Her final days will not be spent isolated from the world, nor hiding like a hunted animal. It’s time for Mark Porter to die.

 

 

blood Spirit Bone cover 7.12.16

A stay of execution is dependent on Olivia’s acceptance of her inheritance—a duty to kill anyone who risks exposing the supernatural to the human world.

Punch Drunk Theater: Bloodsport

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Writer Wednesday: Michael G Munz

Check this guy out:

Michael G. Munz: Author Extraordinaire

Michael G. Munz: SciFi Author Extraordinaire

Mike is an award-winning author of speculative fiction. And he’s our kind of geeky for sure. I mean, he has his own light saber and everything:

Michael Munz and Tiffany Pitts duel with light sabers as Thor Michaelson, Pawcifer of Justice, tries to break up the fight.

Thor Michaelson does not like where this is going.

Even if it is red, Mike is a good guy. And what’s more, he writes really fun books. The kind of books where you spend your entire family vacation hiding in the closet so those people will just leave you alone to read.

The first book of his that I read was Zeus is Dead. I recommend it. It is truly hilarious. He’s also the author of the New Aeneid Cycle – a scifi series with all sorts of awesome technology and lots of intrigue and uh…coverty-ness. I read the first two books and have been eagerly awaiting the third one…

…UNTIL NOW.

I am happy to report that the third book is finally done! And it’s coming out soon! And even more exclamation points because I got a sneak preview of the cover!!11!!eleventy!!

Wanna see?

Cover art for Michale G Munz's A Dragon at the Gate

HOLY CRAP THAT’S A DRAGON.

 

Here’s the blurb:

A Dragon at the Gate
(coming August 17, 2016)

Michael Flynn has lost time. An operative in the worldwide conspiracy known as the Agents of Aeneas, the last thing he remembers is the struggle to retake Paragon—the derelict alien spacecraft found crashed on the Moon. Yet that was three months ago. Now, as he wakes in a hospital back in the high-tech, urban strife of Northgate, his struggle begins anew.
The Agents of Aeneas have vanished.
His friends are either missing, in danger, or altered. Hired killers shadow his every move. And Jade, the mysterious, cyber-enhanced woman watching over him, will give no answers. Thrust into a blind search for the truth, Michael needs allies. Yet whom can he trust when once loyal friends may have turned against him?
Meanwhile, an intelligence thought trapped within Paragon has escaped to Northgate. Driven to fulfill the goals of the mysterious “Planners,” it, too, seeks allies. When it finds them, it will transform the face of Northgate, the world, and the entire human race.
The year 2051 draws to a close, and nothing will be the same.

Following A Shadow in the Flames and A Memory the Black, A Dragon at the Gate is the third and final book in Michael G. Munz’s cyberpunk series The New Aeneid Cycle: In the high-tech urban violence of the mid-21st century, humanity seems destined to destroy itself. Now those who seek to save it may have just found the means.

For more news about A Dragon at the Gate, and all of Michael G. Munz’s writing, visit MichaelGMunz.com, follow him on Twitter, or subscribe to his newsletter.

 

Did You Choose Your Genre or Did It Choose You?

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That’s a good question.

Genre is a tricky thing. There are widely known and accepted genres like Westerns! and Romance. There are even widely known subgenres like Western Romance! And that’s all well and good for people that write in those genres.

I don’t. I write in some weird hybrid genre that I have never successfully been able to define. The closest I’ve ever come to describing it is “Humrous SciFi with a cat in it.” Even though the science is more pseudo-science and there’s little fantasy save for the fact that one of the main characters is a 32 pound (mostly) Main Coon cat named Toesy. But he delights me to no end so I’m sticking with him for meow now.

I highly doubt my consciousness had any executive control over genre when I sat down to write my first book. I remember choosing to set it in Seattle (because that’s where I know) and that’s about where all my thoughtful input ended. Everything else stemmed from conversations I had in my head. Because that’s where the writing process happens for me.

I talk to everything. That may or may not surprise you, depending on how much time you and I have spent in respective company but it’s true all the same. Bugs, trees, myself, the dog, I have a thousand conversations a day. So when I’m writing a scene and a cat wanders into it and starts talking about murdering stuff, I don’t think that’s abnormal. Why would it be? I talk to my real cat all the time. Granted, our conversations are mostly about canned food or ear scratches but, we do talk.

German Sherpard, GSD, #GSDlove, Frisbee

This guy is much less subtle. Although he enjoys talking about cat food as well.

Talking with my characters lets me get into their heads. I see their desires and prejudices. I discover their motivations. I could put all that together myself by writing everything down and meticulously tracking all their character traits but honestly, a simple conversation will reveal more and requires much less work. I take notes, for sure, but it’s more like dictation than character building.

So no, I can say with confidence that I am definitely not in the driver’s seat here. I write what entertains me and the genre in which I write is based in what I find entertaining. Who knows what I’ll find entertaining? If a giant purple gorilla were to walk into my next scene and start singing the National Anthem in sign language, I’ll listen to his story.

If it makes me laugh, I may even use it.

 

Wonder how the other people do it? Check out these posts by Michael G. Munz and Camela Thompson for their answers to the genre problem.

 

Tooth Fairy Chronicles, Part 5: End Game.

While I’m away, on vacation, I thought it might be nice to revisit some old friends. Or rather, old enemies. This post is Part Five of the Tooth Fairy Chronicles, originally published on Snickerpants.com.

***

If you’ve been following this Epic Saga of goblin vs. six-year-old then you already know that Catfish (the six year old) has been busy these last few weeks. After a week’s worth of riddling, he was ready to see how all this resolved itself.

Frankly, so was I.

In order to put this adventure to bed, I had to make the end both complete and satisfying or we were going to have problems. Catfish was still on a quest to capture Finkmeister so that he could prove his claim at school. That was becoming an increasingly frustrating endeavor for him because he didn’t know how to win.

I thought about it this for several days and identified five elements that must be addressed in order for Catfish to be victorious (and stop trying to catch Finkmeister).

1. It needed to be believable. Finkmeister would have real treasure, not a bunch of Legos and Hot Wheels. Though such a stash would be awesome, it would also a dead give-away that this was all a hoax. Finkmeister likes to steal cold, hard cash from kids, not their toys.

2. It needed to include proof that this was happening. Something Catfish could take to school and show off to everyone. He needed validation from his peers because Mom and Dad were sadly inadequate.

3. It had to be difficult.  Look, just because I’m his mom doesn’t mean that I’m going to let him slack-off in the end game. This is where the difficult bits come in. If it is too easy to figure out, then why go through all the bother? Stumbled-upon treasure isn’t as rewarding as hard-won treasure.

4. It had to be exciting and sinister and vaguely threatening. This goes without saying, right? The thrill of the hunt, chase, defense …whatever. It needed to feel real.

5. It needed to have a definitive answer. Without an answer we risk expectations of Finkmeister attacks later, after he loses the other seventeen thousand teeth he’s got in his mouth.

How the heck could I do all that?!? I had no idea so I did the next best thing: I winged it.

The day following the last, incoherent note from Finkmeister, he found this in the mailbox:

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Just the right amount of sinister-yet-vague threat

Now that it was certain he won the duel, he could breath easy. And he did. He visibly relaxed when he knew what to expect. A treasure hunt, with a map and everything!

I was terrified of drawing anything like a map, had no idea where to put it and couldn’t figure out how to make difficult riddles, so I began with building the treasure.

A short trip to the Goodwill and I had loads of loot.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

Looks pretty treasure-hoardy to me.

But what sort of treasure hoard would this be without money? I’d be damned if I was gonna give that kid a ton of real, actual, this-stuff-will-buy-me-Legos Money even though I could have scrounged at least ten dollars in change from various nooks and crannies in this house.

It’s just that, including US dollars seemed so… demeaning to the whole purpose of this adventure. As soon as he saw real money, the dollar signs in his eyes would brainwash him into thinking we were going to the damned toy store.

No. We were definitely not doing that. Toys weren’t the reward here. Getting to figure out the mystery was the reward. Money would just be confusing. Besides, Finkmeister stole money from kids everywhere, not just the United States.

Clearly, this treasure hoard called for foreign currency!

I put a call out an FB to my peeps – for any and all foreign coins they were willing to donate. It was surprising to see such an outpouring of good will. Everybody had a few coins from foreign parts that they wanted to include in the Finkmeister hoard.

I had already started making plans to collect said monies when my dear, sweet husband actually took notice of my post.

Please note the date and time of Brian's first response.

Please note the date and time of Brian’s first response.

Then I went to the store and bought a handful of chocolate coins and tossed them in. Voila! the hoard was complete!

This looks promising...

This looks promising…

Now for the hiding and the map making.

I scouted out places around the yard where the treasure hoard could hide, without being too obvious. Once a suitable hidey-hole was established, I had to write the riddles, make the map and bury the treasure. All of which took the better part of a day. Plus, there was a lot of sand involved. I don’t like sand. There was a lot of swearing during that part.

In order to fulfill requirement 2 (proof that this was happening) I planned the whole shebang to take place on the upcoming day off from school. Catfish had already asked me three times if I would please please please make those doughnut things with all the powdered sugar for him again. I, being the sucker that I am, agreed.

Using the old “I’m going to make some fresh beignets, would you guys like to come over for a play date?” I was able to lure Catfish’s friend and his mom over that morning.

Surprisingly, it wasn't that difficult.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult.

Map ready, treasure buried, beignets fried and liberally sprinkled, all we had to do was wait for the right time. After an hour we heard a few references to Finkmeister in their conversation. Then a few expectant sighs about a map. I asked if he’d checked for it lately…

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

OH MY GOODNESS! WHAT IS THAT THERE ON THE FRONT MAT?!?

The hunt is up! The hunt is up! And it is well nigh day!

To say this part was awesome would be an understatement. There were now TWO little boys standing in the front entryway, stunned speechless for the excitement of it. I think the best part was watching Catfish’s friend’s eyes go from “Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about Finkmeister” to “HOLY CRAP YOU WEREN’T KIDDING!!”

Here is the ‘map’:

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

Apparently, Finkmeister is just as bad at drawing maps as I am. Go figure.

It was priceless. Us moms had to move quickly because six year old boys in search of illicit treasure hoards are not to be trifled with. If we wanted to get any pictures at all, we had to haul ass. They were already on to the first clue:

"That's easy! Let's go talk to Heather!" "Okay! Who's Heather?"

“That’s easy! Let’s go talk to Heather!” “Okay! Who’s Heather?”

I don’t know who suggested Heather might be a plant. But soon enough, they were pawing through the shrubbery.

"I don't want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there." "I don't want to put MY hand in there...MOOOOM!"

“I don’t want to put my hand in there. You put YOUR hand in there.” “I don’t want to put MY hand in there…MOOOOM!”

And thus, a small plastic shovel was found. The second clue was much like the first. See if you can guess where we looked next:

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

Did you say SAGE? Because, you are so smart!

And they found a plastic gardening fork.

The third clue was a hint to the location of the treasure:

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

Wow, he seems a little upset there.

And before we get too far, the fourth clue wasn’t a clue at all. It was Finkmeister delivering a slightly unsettling threat:

Told you! He's kinda being a jerk.

Told you! He’s kinda being a jerk.

But that part doesn’t matter, what matters is TREASURE!

And, of course…

"HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!"

“HOLY COW DUDE, THESE COINS ARE CHOCOLATE!!!!”

 

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is "HELLZ YEAH!"

I believe the sentiment they are trying to convey here is “HELLZ YEAH!”

For those of you who want to paw through Finkmeister’s treasure too:


Don’t miss out on the rest of the story!

Part 1: Finkmeister is a Jackass
Part 2: The Overnight Finkmeister Trap
Part 3: A Gentleman’s Duel
Part 4: Riddles Three, a Photo Essay.
Part 5: End Game.