Friday, June 28, 2013

Movie and Book recommendations

I finally saw Star Trek - Into Darkness and loved it. Tight storytelling, amazing special effects and a pretty great villain all wrapped up in the ongoing and evolving friendship between Spock and Kirk that is the centre piece of that movie series. So much so it completely eclipses any potential romance that may exist in the movie.

Another seriously cute movie is Warm Bodies, if anyone missed it in theatres, rent it on DVD. It's really charming and has a lovely performance from Nicholas Hoult and a romance, which is rarer and rarer on screens these days.

And read a really great, engaging, fast paced YA fantasy. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is about the land's greatest assassin, a seventeen year old girl recruited from a brutal work camp into a series of deadly challenges to see who will be the king's guard.

It was really engaging, the heroine is great, loved her voice and loved the court politics and the mystery at the heart of the story. If I had a complaint, it might be that the romance wasn't fully developed, but it didn't bother me much. I loved that it wasn't an angsty YA, more story driven and less about the which man should she choose. I'm definitely picking up the next in the series.

But in the meantime, I'm going to start Cecilia Grant's A Woman Entangled. It's my weekend treat and I'm so looking forward to reading it.

Anyone else read Throne of Glass? Any other YA recommendations?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Extreme Measures

There is no point in debating anymore the merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and which option you might chose. I think the direction we are headed is that most authors will attempt to do both. And if there is a going to be a choice of one over the other, I think unfortunately traditional publishing will lose this battle among newer authors. Totally my opinion and this comes just from my conversations with other authors, professional loops etc, but I think I’m right.
The currently successful authors only doing traditional publishing, I imagine will continue to do so. I don’t think Nora Roberts is worried about getting her name out there by releasing self-published novellas. But she probably should be prepared for a pay cut if Wal-Mart decides to stop selling books altogether and her publisher doesn’t start to reconsider her digital price point.

Regardless I think any new author who wants to reach that level of success is going to feel the pressure to self-publish as a means of marketing/advertising at the very least.
And this is starting to have an impact on the community. We found out that authors were purchasing reviews. Recently I heard Goodreads was having an issue with authors participating in review swaps. We will give books away for free. Hours and hours of hard work and investment into a project only to give it away in the hope readers will find you and eventually decide to buy you.

As self-publishers we can no longer rely on the Traditional Publishing marketing department, but I think we’re learning even traditionally published, we can’t count on them. What we all thought was this massive department doing all the “right” things was just an overtaxed department, not doing much and instead they put the burden on the author.
By forcing the author to become her own advocate, they created a skill set that serves the self-published. My experience with savvy authors today is that they think they can do it better. They care more about their project. They get to spend their advertising dollars where they think it has the most impact. They can control social media and as I mentioned above they can set the price point and control when it goes on “sale.”

None of this is news, but I do think we’re starting to feel the impact. A skilled, talented and amazing storyteller who could give her story over to an editor and simply let her publisher handle the rest, that person will not survive in this new world. A shy person who wants to avoid all social media and only wants to tell stories, will have the GREATEST challenge.
On the flip side, a less skilled, less talented storyteller who figured out that if she rigged the review system she could sell more books, has a greater chance of getting ahead. I’m not going to lie. That’s a little sad.

I read yesterday on Dear Author that there is speculation that Tammar Webber’s breakout new adult novel Easy was plagiarized. But how difficult does this all become in this new world when the biggest breakout book of 2012 was a fan fiction of Twilight. I’m sure some will debate that character stealing isn’t the same as scene stealing, but again we’re all acting on our own. There is no gate. There is no filter. Everyone into the pool and may the smartest writer win.
Buying reviews, review collusion, stealing characters, stealing scenes, stealing dialogue. All extreme measures to catch a wave of success. I’m sad for that book that I’m probably never going to read, because the author couldn’t survive in the new world. I’m worried I won’t survive either. I don’t think in terms of marketing my book. I only think in terms of writing it and that puts me behind in the race.

If traditional publishing is going to compete, they are going to have to find a way to give something to those authors who chose to remain with them otherwise in a decade, maybe two I really do see a world in which we all will self-publish.
Survival of the fittest, not survival of the most talented will succeed. And those willing to rig the system will reflect poorly on all of us.
Enough doom and gloom... it's summer. We should be optimistic.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Books I Can't Wait to Read!

Oh there are so many... My TBR list is beyond out of control. Methinks I need to give up TV. Or sleeping. Or something. Facebook! I need to give up Facebook! No! Bejeweled! My life would be so much better if I could get the Bejeweled monkey off my back!

But in my huge TBR pile are two books by writer-friends that just came out.

The first is RUSH by Eve Silver. I've known Eve for close to 10 years, and she is one of the most generous authors I know. She actually helped me land my first publishing credit, by referring me to the editor of those "Mammoth Book of..." anthologies who bought my short story...

While Eve is a multi-published author in adult fiction, RUSH is her debut YA and I am chomping at the bit to read it.

Her post-apocalyptic romance, DRIVEN, changed my little writer brain.... Check it out too!

June 11, 2013
ISBN: 0062192132
ISBN 13: 978-0062192134

Rush pulls you headlong into the thrilling, high-stakes world of Eve Silver’s teen series The Game, about teens pulled into and out of an alternate reality in which battling aliens is more than a game—it’s life and death. This teen debut novel offers science fiction and gaming fans romantic thrills at a breakneck pace.

Buy Now!


I'm also very excited to read debut author Kimberly Ann Miller's TRIANGLES. 

While I've never met Kimmy, I feel as if I have, and she too is a super generous author. The writing world is filled with so many wonderful people! Kimmy and her sister both picked Advance Reader Copies of DEVIANTS at BEA in 2012, and were so generous in helping me promote it by recommending it to others. :)  

Really looking forward to digging into this one! What a cool idea!


the debut of Kimberly Ann Miller
June 18, 2013

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?  

In the Bermuda Triangle--a lot. 

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life--her father's death years ago, her mother's medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her--seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she's gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they're a happy couple... a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying "Happy Anniversary"... and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship's doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she's warned that these "alternate realities" could become permanent. 

Buy Now!

What book in your TBR pile are you dying to read?

Monday, June 24, 2013

CAGE MATCH: Cecilia Grant's A Lady Awakened VS. A Gentleman Undone VS. A Woman Entangled

We're in a argumentative mood around here these days. Which is actually kind of fun and Steph and Sinead's posts about Lizzie vs. Jane are a pretty amazing tie in to my smack down which is between all of Cecilia Grant's books.

I had the incredible good fortune to get an advanced copy of A WOMAN ENTANGLED and in it Kate, our heroine is desperately trying to marry well to elevate her family out of the shadows her parents marriage placed them in. Dad was a Lord, Mom was an actress, their love could not be denied. Now, the family is happy, but Kate wants MORE. Kate wants not just respect and better opportunity - she wants fine things. She covets the position she would be entitled to if her parents had not married for love. She's beautiful, charming, ambitious and she means to land herself a lord. Our Hero Nick, is the brother of Will from A Gentleman Undone who SPOILER - married another man's mistress. For Love. But Nick is ambitious, he has his eye set on a life in politics and the scandal associated with his brother's choice for a wife, makes his dreams very difficult so he has cut his brother off.

Now, I'm a historical romance reader. Historical romance and I go way back, pretty much to the beginning. Which is to say - I feel like I know this Regency time period as it's been represented in countless romance novels. I feel in fact there is a rut that Regency Romance has cut into the genre that so much of historical romance has fallen into. It's not just that other time periods are hard to find, but that there is a rhythm and a pattern to these books. Ball. Tea. Ball. Conversation with a woman in a feathered turban. Introduction of hero's dissolute friend. Illicit moment in dark library. etc...

What I found so compelling about Grant's first two books is that she showed us this time period from a totally different perspective. The first, a farm in the country. The second, the decadent underbelly of card rooms and mistresses' quarters. And I believed that one of Grant's most interesting strengths was choosing these locations, these same but different aspects of the beloved regency novel. It was as if she'd found these little corners and invited us all in, and every inch of that corner felt new to me. Exciting. Fresh. I was boggled by the amount of research she must have done on cheese making and then card counting.

In this third book, I realize it's not locale or research that are the key to Grant's magnetic and fresh little corner. The setting of A Woman Entangled is completely familiar. That pattern is familiar - this is the Regency romance I know. And yet not. Granted she comes into those teas and ballrooms from a different angle, but still the set-up is not what makes this book my favorite of hers.

It's not even Grant's impeccable prose - which should be noted is impeccable. It's the reality of these characters. The reality of the homes they live in, Nick's career, the courts. All seem so breathtakingly real. Moreover it's the messy motivations that are not wholly noble, that are in fact at times small and selfish and so so human. Nick and Kate are both ambitious and are at times sanctimonious about it. There is no great wound making them defend their turf and their actions - they are going after what they want because they believe they deserve it. They have worked hard for it. They have sacrificed, flown in the face of convention and family and damn it - THEY WANT IT.

No one is penniless, no one is saving their sisters from having to sell themselves - they live lives of comfort, and yet...they want more. Oh God, it's so REAL. They are so human. We have given romance novel characters (And by we, I mean I) terrible back stories in an effort to make the less likeable aspects of their characters likeable.

Please dear reader forgive them their uglier desires, their selfish behaviors because they were never taught love.

Grant doesn't give us any excuses. She pulls no punches. And I find this book doesn't either.

A Woman Entangled wins the cage match. Hands down.

Now, I know you want a copy of this book and I don't blame you - it's AMAZING. So, there are two chances below - a paper copy and a digital copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cage Match - Elizabeth Bennet - best heroine ever

Stephanie, while wrong, did make some interesting points yesterday.

Jane Eyre was a great heroine, strong, resourceful and someone who rose from adversity to find her personal happiness. None of which I can argue with, but what prevents her from being the greatest heroine and what catapults my beloved Lizzie to the top is humour.

Case in point, Jane Eyre had wonderful attributes, but the girl didn't laugh much.

Lizzie Bennet laughs at herself, those around her and her situation in general. She's bright and quick witted and humble and even when personally disparaged (in that great scene in the ballroom when she overhears Mr. Darcy dismiss her charms) she laughs at both herself and the person who insulted her and I laughed with her.

She's sensible and bright, she's a loyal sister and can be fierce in her protection of those she loves, and she can admit when she's wrong.

Jane Eyre never laughs and she's never wrong. I love her, but I can't relate to that.

I can relate to Lizzie because she's often wrong, but when she realizes it, does what she can to put things to right.

Mr. Darcy falls in love with her, not because she's a paragon of English womanly virtue, but because she makes him laugh and think and shows him a version of himself that is better than he thinks he can be and he does the same for her.

Lizzie is the greatest heroine because she is flawed, funny and falling in love makes her a better person, so she deserves her happy ending.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Jane Eyre beats Elizabeth Bennet as the greatest heroine of all time…

Or otherwise known as my cage match challenge to Sinead. So as I mentioned I’m writing a blog for Brie at Romance Around the Corner for Heroine Week. While doing so the topic of my two favorite heroines of all time naturally came up.

But in a straight up competition I have to pick Jane Eyre, who is in my opinion the greatest heroine written of all time. Here is why:

1. Way more tragic childhood to overcome. Orphan, horrible foster family, awful school, death of her best friend. Despite all of this she triumphs over these tragedies to find love.

2. Her spirit. While both women share a tremendous spirit, which is why I think we love them, Jane has to really work to hold on to herself while so many forces in her life try to suppress and crush that spirit. I don’t know that anyone tried to crush or reign in Elizabeth.

3. She’s a working woman. Now I know Elizabeth essentially couldn’t work given her status, but this is my pick and I like that fact that Jane has that independent element about herself.

4. More of a risk taker. This no one can deny. Elizabeth really doesn’t risk much, while Jane perpetually risks everything for a better life.

5. Finally, her self-worth. Both women have a strong sense of who they are. Both women fight the expectations of their status. Elizabeth is offended to be called beneath Darcy (even from a practical standpoint she probably knows she is). Jane is willing to marry Rochester, even though she knows it flies in the face of society. But for me it’s that moment when Jane realizes he’s already married, and he proposes to take her away to France, that’s where she rises above Elizabeth. Her determination in not taking the easy path, despite her circumstances, is a much greater sacrifice. Her clinging to her principles, her belief in herself, and what she wants from the man she loves, I think surpasses anything Elizabeth does to have the same.

And now you pick. Jane or Elizabeth?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seth Rogen can Write

So, I was going to challenge Molly to a cage match over Man of Steel, but the more I've thought about that movie, the more flawed it was. But didn't hate it....

Things I liked about it were:

- Um, Henry Cavill????

- The image of Krypton, great worldbuilding. Cool combination of sci-fi and fantasy in one world.

- Lois Lane wasn't just a damsel in distress, but a genuine heroine. She was smart and good at her job. She came off brave, rather than TSTL, and she affected the outcome of the story.

- The villain had strong motivation. It's been a long time since I saw the original Superman movie (I call the 1970's one the original...) and I haven't read the comics, so maybe this motivation wasn't new... but I liked this villain. Michael Shannon is always strong and his motivation was too. He was trying to save his people, Superman was trying to save humans. That's some damn good conflict, IMHO.

But some criticisms based on further reflection and scanning a couple of reviews. 

- The fight scenes... Were a little silly and long and gratuitous. But I often think that... Fight scenes are rarely my favorite part of movies and, although I tend to have quite a few in my books, I like to keep mine short. And prefer them short in films too.

- As much as I did like the world-building in the prologue on Krypton and as strong as I think the villain's motivation was... I concede that for storytelling purposes, the film might have been stronger without the prologue, and the conflict in the story was really between Jor-el and Zod, not Superman and Zod... 

The prologue really took some steam out of the hero's conflict. Okay, a lot of steam. The prologue explained important information that we didn't get to see Superman learning, so we never really knew how much of it he knew, or how he felt about it. Thus, his choice between saving his people or the human race was more clear cut than it should have been. As far as we knew, he could give a bleep about his people.

I read one review that called Superman a pawn in the story. I think that's going a little far, but I will concede that I might have been so distracted and impressed that Lois Lane wasn't a pawn, that I might have missed that Superman was... Hmmm... The more I think about it, Lois Lane and Russell Crowe are actually the heroes of this story. It's almost like the classic YA mistake of having the grown ups solve the kids problems... Jor-el, with Lois's help, solved all Superman's problems...

The whole film is basically a prologue for what I assume the filmmakers are hoping will be a franchise. I did notice the Luther Corp logo on a truck near the end... and someone told me that the satellite in one of the fight scenes (yes, there's a satellite in a fight scene) had a Wayne Industries logo on it. So clearly they're hoping to compete with The Avengers. Will be interesting to see if they can pull that off. But there needs to be more humor, and I have a feeling everyone's all Batmaned out these days...

So, not a perfect film. But I was entertained.

But not as much as I was at This is the End.

I loved this movie. I thought I might be making a mistake going to a film like this at noon, and not under the influence of anything but coffee... but I found it hilarious.

Was it silly? Sure. Was some of the humor juvenile? Of course. Is it Shakespeare? No.

But it was a tightly told story, with clear (if silly) character arcs, a lot of snappy dialogue and so many references and cameos I'm sure I'd have to see it a couple more times before I caught them all. Even Rihanna was funny. 

And whether or not you like Seth Rogen as an actor: dude can write (along with his writing partner Evan Goldberg). And dude is willing to poke fun at himself, his friends, his job, his lifestyle.

Highly recommend this movie if you want a good laugh. And if you know anything about the actors, their films and their personas... My favorite actor send up was either Jonah Hill or Michael Cera. Both really let themselves be skewered in opposite ways and I found the film versions of them very funny. I guess the Michael Cera send up was a bit reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris in the first Harold and Kumar movie...  But it went a little further and was so, so, so funny... Oh, and Danny McBride, who I normally hate... His character version of himself was also very funny. So was James Franco's version of himself. Just remembering how obsessed he was with Rogen. 

Okay. The more I think about it, the more things I remember. This movie was very funny. I could go on and on... These are actors who know how they are perceived, and are willing to poke fun at themselves. 

As a Canadian I also appreciated the Jay Baruchel "character" who was so self-righteous and unwilling to sell out to Hollywood, which caused the main internal conflict between him and Rogen. And set up what was an almost sweet friendship story arc inside a horror/comedy film. (This movie is actually based on a short film from 2007 called Seth and Jay Versus the Apocalypse.) 

Overall: I had tears of laughter much of the time. The dialogue was surprisingly subtle and smart. Would see it again.

Speaking of great dialogue, I also saw both Before Midnight and Much Ado About Nothing in the past couple of days, (I'm making up for lost time.) and enjoyed both. 

But this post is getting too long. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grad School!

So I just finished Day 4 of my MFA adventure at Antioch University in Los Angeles. I've got 5 more days of seminars and workshops to go. So far it has been, well, awesome. I'm sure that I should be able to come up with a more evocative and compelling way to describe, but I'm using all my words in workshop.

It's kind of like being at the very best writers' conference ever. The seminars have been amazing. I attended one this morning given by Francesca Lia Block where I actually cried while doing the writing exercise. Richard Garcia gave one about poetry that was so good that I wanted to go back to my hotel and wrote a poem. I never write poetry except goofy jokey rhymes. I wanted to write a real poem. I might actually write one.

Then the workshops! Amazing, insightful input. Riffing ideas back and forth. Forcing me to dig deeper. It's like heaven.

Last night, I went to reading by Mary Gordon. Yes. Final Payments Mary Gordon. Then I went to a talk she gave this afternoon.

And here's the icing on the tasty MFA cake. For the next 5 months, Tannanarive Due is my mentor. Every month she'll be giving me input on my work and we'll be discussing books.

I'll keep you all posted on how things continue, but if the beginning is any indication, this is truly going to change my life.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Winner of Wild Child Pre-order!

Mary Jo Burke!! It's you. Please contact me at molly @ Molly - okeefe . com (no spaces) and let me know if you prefer digital or paper and I will order it and in several months when Wild Child comes out it will arrive like magic at your home!!

In other news, we saw Superman last night - AWFUL!!! So terrible.

Read an AMAZING book The Painted Girls about Degas' Little Dancer Aged 14 and the criminal and artistic events surrounding the Paris Opera House at the time - AMAZING.

What's new with you?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book recommendation

I've been telling everyone I know about this series, The Chronicles of Elantra by Michele Sagara.

I've read the first and am half way through the second book and they are both great. I have a hard time explaining what they are - I think they're fantasy, with a definite urban fantasy edge to them, most especially in the voice of the heroine.

The world building is seamless and immersive and the cast is large, but every character seems really well fleshed out. The mystery element of the first book was gripping and the resolution was exciting, and the heroine is, in a word, awesome.

She's great. Vulnerable, snarky and capable. As Molly and Stephanie get ready to blog about great romance heroines, I'd throw Kaylin into the mix as a great heroine.

I have seven more books in the series, which I'm really looking forward to reading. If you haven't read it, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

We've forgotten them so much we need a week to honor them!

Brie at Romance Around the Corner  ( is hosting Heroine Week in July. When I heard about this I immediately volunteered to post a blog. Of course the idea I had was shared by a number of other writers, so I picked a different topic and I'm really in love with it.

Molly too is going to blog and I thought how great is this, we're going to spend a whole week talking about Heroines. Really focusing on their story.

Then it smacked me in the head! Wait a minute. Romance Around the Corner is primarily a review site for romance books. Romance books are written primarily by women. Every romance novel must feature a heroine (with the exception of m/m romance obviously.)

But we need a week to talk about what we're not talking about currently? We're not talking about WOMEN characters in this genre! A genre built by and sustained mostly by women and suddenly it seems we only care about the heroes.

I just finished reading Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. At one point in her career at SNL the women writers were despairing that they weren't getting the "good" parts. Tina's point was you're a woman writer, write a good woman part! 

We're women! We should be writing amazing unforgettable heroines that are getting talked about all the time!

I love that Brie has shed light on this and I can't wait to read all the posts about heroines but I'm making a point of finding those amazing female characters and blogging about them more often!

(Sorry about the number of exclamation points - I'm obviously a little worked up!) 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


So I didn't yarn bomb anything this week. Maybe next year?

But I did go to see a movie! Yay! I miss movies.

I went to see the unlikely Matthew McConaughey (and Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson) starring movie, Mud. (Great cast.)

And what a great little movie. It did so many storytelling things so well. It was tightly told and no little detail offered up didn't end up important in the end.

One of the main foreshadowing moments/details I saw coming a mile away. Two miles. But I actually think that might have been masterful too. Because it meant I was distracted by that detail and didn't see how the other small detail from the beginning was going to be relevant. And even the obvious foreshadowing detail (okay, it involves snakes) came into play at a moment when I wasn't expecting it, or at least, the instant I realized it was going to come into play it was perfect, because I was cringing and praying that I was wrong. Great moment of suspense and anticipation.

Mud is a quiet "kid-driven" movie that ends up exploding in tension and violence. In that way, it reminded me of Danny Boyle's Millions. But I as much as I love Danny Boyle, I think I liked Mud better.

And I need someone else to see it, because I can't decide who the protagonist was. The obvious answer is Mud, the McConaughey character, but I actually think the protagonist was Ellis, one of the boys.

And speaking of the boys, the two young teen actors in this film were astoundingly good. Amazing. And neither of the boys' characters were stereotypes, at all. And neither were their families. With the setting of people living on riverboats in Arkansas it would be so pat and easy to give the boys terrible parents, or make them all hicks, but all the parental figures, even the one boy's unconventional uncle, played by Michael Shannon, were interesting *and* good parents.

Plus, it was so awesome to see a 14-year-old boy character, Ellis, who was such a pure romantic at heart. Romantic on so many levels. And that's why I think it was Ellis's story. His realizing that the world maybe isn't as perfect as he thought, love isn't as pure as he thought, and the line between right and wrong isn't always as super clear as he thought.

But then as soon as I'm sure, I think that it's Mud's story, but told through Ellis's POV.

Still not positive.

Has anyone else seen this yet? Would love to discuss.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Plarn Bomb!

International Yarn Bombing Day was this past weekend. If you happened to see knit or crocheted items covering trees, posts, buses or benches, it was part of the celebration of fiber arts.

I have wanted to yarn bomb for a while. Specifically I wanted to plarn bomb with yarn I'd made from plastic grocery bags. Once I heard there was a specific day set aside for a celebration of yarn bombing, I totally wanted to be a part of it.

So off and one for over a year now, I've been working on some clothing for a sculpture in downtown Davis.

For some reason, a lot of people hate this piece of sculpture. They think it's ugly or stupid. I figure it's par for the course for public art. I felt like I could do something a little different than a standard yarn bomb and make clothing for the figures.

It was time consuming work and took a ridiculous amount of plastic bags, but I was able to make hats, a poncho, a scarf and a sweater. I put them up this weekend with a sign wishing everyone a Happy International Yarn Bombing Day.

It's been great. My kids are telling me that a bunch of their friends have been posting photos of it on Facebook without realizing they know who did it. I've driven by a couple of times (it's not stalking! they're inanimate!) and have seen people stopping, laughing, taking pictures. I drove by today and it looks like some pieces have been taken, which makes me laugh a little. Plarn is seriously scratchy. I would not want to wear that beret no matter what.

All in all, it's been even more successful than I'd hoped. My only worry is that I'm going to get a call from the cops and have to pay some sort of vandalism fine, but until the 5-O catches up with me, I'm feeling like a proud a proud guerrilla crocheter. Kind of like a Grandma Banksy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Some Excellent Parenting By Molly O'Keefe (And a WILD CHILD contest!)

A few weekends ago my husband was off on a much needed cottage trip with some friends and I was solo with the kids for a few days. On the last Sunday by myself, I must admit - I was killing it. I was a mom on fire. I got some work done, we did a huge amount of gardening, we walked down the street to the Farmer's Market for some waffles and seventy-million dollars a cup organic, fair trade, made with the tears of Russian Elves, coffee. It was exhausting - all that engagement, the non-stop referring, the endless questions about what would happen if Mario from Mario Brothers ended up in the Skylanders Game. By the time we were walking home from the Market, I was looking forward to the late afternoon movie (theirs) and nap (mine). I got home and thinking about dinner, looked at the clock.

It was noon. NOON!

At almost the same time a friend texted to say that she was going with her daughter to meet another friend and her two kids at the Art Gallery of Ontario I immediately signed on. I hadn't been to the AGO since the first time I visited Toronto to see Adam. He enlisted the help of a friend to show me around while Adam worked. The friend altered his consciousness a bit and we spent an hour in a white room with silver mylar balloons being blown around by a fan.

As much as I imagine my kids digging those balloons, I had heard that in the big Frank Gehry renovation, they'd made an amazing kid's section.

Did they ever.

In the basement of the AGO, there's a giant room with picnic tables, ping pong tables, a life size version of snakes and ladders and bins of building materials. Straws, blocks, etc. In another room it's arts and crafts heaven. A wall of different papers. A giant table with three lazy-susan type trays in the middle filled with every art supply a kid could want - glitter, tape, markers, crayons, feathers, etc. A reading nook, a games nook. A dress-up room. It was amazing.

The five kids played for nearly four hours. Mick made a giant bug suit he could wear made entirely of straws. Lucy did the project of the day - and Illuminated Manuscript page - and actually wrote a story. It was a beautiful day. High fives all around.

So, of course I decided to ruin it.

Upstairs was the Renaissance exhibit and I thought it would be a great idea to take the five kids, ages 2 to 8, up to a nearly black room, filled with serious art folk talking very very quietly, about priceless 700 year old art. What could go wrong?

Well, the two year old could smack her hands against the 1000 year old fresco from Florence, sending every guard into cardiac arrest. That could happen. Lucy, exhausted by the day could throw herself on the ground and roll around because she didn't want to hold my hand. That could happen.

What I didn't really realize is that all the Renaissance art work was entirely biblical. Focusing largely on the crucifixion. Lots and lots of blood splatter. Mick was absolutely fascinated. However, one of the moms and her daughter are Jewish and the mom walked into the room at the end of a long day and whispered "I am not ready to answer these questions." I had gone a few rounds with Mick about Jesus and how he wasn't Santa Claus or Zeus but another guy altogether - and while my children have perhaps stepped into church twice in their life, I felt fully capable of explaining that everyone believed a different kind of story. I volunteered to take the girls around and talk about the story the paintings were telling while my friend kept the two-year old from setting off alarms.

Clearly, this was a bad idea.

Half-way into the story of how Jesus died (bloody, very bloody) my friend's little girl, who has hit overload, starts yelling "we don't believe in this!" People are beginning to look at us. Lucy gets upset, because despite absolutely ZERO christian education she is now fully invested in Jesus. So Lucy is screaming - "he's Jesus! God's son!" and the other little girl is screaming "We don't believe in him!"

We quickly get the girls out of the exhibit, but of course you have to pass through the gift shop where Lucy decides her life is not complete without a Jesus and The Disciples set of cheese knives.

I realize at this point, I've lost Mick.

Back into the quiet dark serious art room I go. He's not at the beheading of the saints. Or the strange picture of Jesus with what looks like a dragon. No, he's in the far corner surrounded by a tour group looking at a series of panels. Jesus carrying the cross. Him on the cross. Being taken down from the cross. Put in the tomb. And then, of course rising from the dead. Mick has no inside voice and he yells "did she kill him?" pointing to Mary Magedelan, I tell him no, she's sad. We talk at length about the blood splatter. And finally at the last one I explain how people believe Jesus, three days after being buried, rose from the dead.

My son nods sagely, as if it is all making sense to him now, turns to the tour group behind us and tells them as if they were worried and confused; "Jesus is a zombie."

I grabbed Mick, caught up with my friends who were surrounded by a circle of hyperventilating guards trying to get the kids off the giant Inuit sculptures - and left.

Please, readers and friends - share a bad parenting story - at the end of the week I will pick a winner and preorder a copy of WILD CHILD for you!

Monday, June 03, 2013

The Purge is Coming... And so is Compliance!

When I saw the trailer for The Purge, I had serious idea-envy. What a cool and chilling dystopian concept!

If, on one night every year, you could commit any crime without facing consequences, what would you do?

In an America wracked with crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned an annual 12-hour period in which any and all criminal activity--including murder--becomes legal. The police can't be called. Hospitals suspend help. It's twelve hours when the citizenry regulates itself without thought of punishment. On this particular night in 2022, plagued by violence and an epidemic of crime, one family wrestles with the decision of who they will become when a stranger comes knocking.
When an intruder breaks into James Sandin’s (Ethan Hawke) gated community during the yearly lockdown, he begins a sequence of events that threatens to tear his family apart. Now, it is up to James, his wife, Mary (Lena Headey), and their kids to make it through the night without turning into the monsters from whom they hide.

The good people at Universal Pictures asked us here at Storytelling Rules to help promote The Purge, in theaters June 7th. Hey, that's just 3 days after Compliance hits bookstores! What a fabulous week for chilling futuristic entertainment! ;)

Compliance (The Dust Chronicles #2)
June 4, 2013 (Skyscape, an imprint of Amazon Publishing)
ISBN:  978-1477816530

Haven Equals Safety. This slogan is emblazoned on the minds of every Haven employee. But for Glory, life inside Haven is anything but safe. Most of all, she must hide her Deviant gift--the ability to kill with her eyes--or face death. 
Training to be a dreaded Compliance Officer, she secretly works undercover to save fellow Deviants, but when people she trusts turn against her and a powerful member of Management takes her under her wing, Glory questions everything she believes and can no longer tell her allies from her enemies.

The premise of The Purge makes mine in The Dust Chronicles (Deviants, Oct 2012, Compliance, June 4, 2013) seem downright cheery! Of course, in my world, there's the little issue of the world having been covered by deadly asteroid dust that created monsters called Shredders. But whatever. :)

Spine-tingling danger, heart-pounding romance, scab-covered monsters! 
The Dust Chronicles has it all!

Back to The Purge! I am so excited about seeing this movie!

Test your survival instincts with the Would You Survive the Night quiz below!


We're hosting a combo-Purge-Compliance giveaway!

N.B.  The Purge giveaway is US only. :( Sorry. I have no control over that. But non-US entrants feel free to enter to win the Compliance prizes. I'll figure that out at the back end...

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