Action Girls Collection #01

Way late in announcing this, but I’ve putting up a new collection. It contains the first two stories each in the “Destined” and “Vampire Killer” series, and future collections will collect similar stories in groups of four. Links are available on the My Stories page.

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“Sleepover” (Vampire Killer #02) now available!

The “Vampire Killer” series returns with “Sleepover”, available for 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords! Links available on the My Stories page.

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The “Preserve the Pretties” Philosophy

I haven’t written an essay on anything in quite a while, so I figured, since I’m now writing and self-publishing my own original fiction, I’d share a rule that I’ve developed.

I have always been attracted to the female characters in any given story that I watch or read: Princess Lana on “Captain N: The Game Master”, Princess Zelda on “The Legend of Zelda”, Roll on “Mega Man”, Jun on “Science Ninja Team Gatchaman” (a.k.a. Princess on “Battle of the Planets”), etc.. While everyone else watched “The Transformers” and “G.I. Joe”, I was a “Jem” boy. My first comic book was “Supergirl”. “The Real Ghostbusters” was one of my big series, but I really loved it when Janine put on a uniform and proton pack. I was ecstatic when I discovered “Sailor Moon” in 2000.

Over time, I have come to prefer the female characters, and my interest in the male characters has decreased. While I got into Transformers in the mid-1990s and into G.I. Joe very recently (last few years), my favorite characters are, of course, Arcee, Carly, Scarlett, etc..

I think my reason for this is I view female characters as cleaner and/or more mature than male characters – and, well, just pretty!

So it really upsets me when they’re killed, maimed, arrested, or otherwise traumatized.

The positive viewing experiences of many movies and series that I’ve watched have been tainted by a character death, an arrest, or something else.

I watched a 26-episode series called “Devil Lady”. In the final episode, the main character, a fashion model, survives, but she loses both of her arms. Bye-bye, modelling career. So depressing. I sold the DVD set to a friend.

There’s Lamika Lee’s pointless suicide at the end of the original “Vampire Hunter D”. There’s Katrina’s and Tara’s senseless deaths (not to mention a whole bunch of other girls) on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. The Gundam franchise is littered with the corpses of beautiful girls.

Don’t even get me started on cop shows. I saw an episode of “CSI: Miami” where one of the culprits happened to be the teen girl that initially reported the deaths. She had inadvertantly killed her mother in a flash of anger (with the object that she’d picked up for self-defense when she’d heard a noise) after learning her mother was sleeping with her (the girl’s) boyfriend. She was found out at the end of the episode and hauled off to jail. Bite me. She was justified.

These deaths and other negative events make me enjoy the overall stories less.

That’s why I’ll never do it in my own fiction.

This brings me to what I called the Preserve the Pretties philisophy: never kill, maim, incarcerate, or permanently traumatize a cute female character. It’s a rule that I live by in writing my own original fiction, and I encourage others to do the same.

Need characters to die, suffer, or face the consequences? Males will do just fine, thank you very much. At the end of the battle, the girl emerges triumphant, unharmed, and preserved.

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“Split”, story #02 of “Blackjack Jill”, now available!

“Split”, the second story in the “Blackjack Jill” series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Links are on the My Stories page.

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Sale of my two collections on Amazon

“Becoming a Hero: The Complete Collection” and “Four-Series Sampler #01” will be on sale on Amazon for $2.00 (regularly $2.99) each until late Saturday night (Eastern time). Get in on this great deal! Links are on the My Stories page.

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Blackjack Jill #01, Four-Series Sampler #01

A bit late, but I’ve added links to both of these on the My Stories page.

“Blackjack Jill” follows Jill Black, a recent college grad that, taking a suggestion from her boyfriend Jack, decides to pursue professional Blackjack as a means of escaping her mundane job. The first story, “21”, is up now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for 99 cents.

“Four Series Sampler #01” collects the first stories of “Destined”, “Becoming a Hero”, “Vampire Killer”, and “Blackjack Jill”. It’s a convenient way to try out all of my current series, and, at $2.99, it saves you 97 cents versus buying each story individually (a 24% savings)! Available in the same places.

Happy New Year! 2012 has been a decent start for me, and I hope 2013 will be better!

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Book Review: “The Breeders” by Katie French

This is a review that I wrote and posted on Amazon on Saturday, and I’m reposting it here with the author’s permission. You can get the ebook here.

Somewhat Flawed But Entertaining Story

First, I have to admit this really isn’t my genre. This is basically a “world-has-gone-to-Hell” story. I’m not very familiar with the so-called “post-Apocalyptic” genre, and my limited familiarity comes mostly from movies, so I’ll make comparisons to those.

In a time when the world has descended into lawlessness, due to a dwindling female population, a teenaged girl named Riley has her life turned upside-down and races to save her mother from the Breeders, those that imprison females, use them for reproductive purposes, and then send them off to be sex slaves.

Set in a dystopian New Mexico, this could be considered somewhat like Mad Max / Road Warrior – or, to make a more modern comparison, Resident Evil: Extinction (without the zombies). Another comparison would be the Vampire Hunter D anime films. Maybe even another Milla Jovovich film, Ultraviolet.

In some ways, it works. Katie French creates a vivid portrayal of a world gone down the tubes, where the “law” is corrupt, and resources are in short supply. A comparison can be made to the Hunger Games novels with the focus on scarcity of food (it’s also written in the present tense and first-person perspective of a female protagonist), and Riley has a bit of Katniss Everdeen in her.

“The Breeders” really is a page-turner (so to speak) with interesting, well-developed characters (even if some of them come across as one-dimensionally evil, but there are such cases in real life as well).

However, it’s not perfect.

On the technical side, there are numerous typos. Words are misspelled. Additional words are inserted where they shouldn’t be. Words are left out. These errors yanked me out of the story, and sometimes I was left having to guess the author’s intent. This feels like a draft, and it really should have been given an additional proofreading.

On the storytelling side, there are some setting problems. It’s not clear exactly when this story is meant to occur. A reference is made to the Superman character, Doomsday, who was introduced in the early 1990s (Riley’s brother, Ethan, reads a battered comic book with him in it). A thinly-veiled reference is made to Mr. Clean (Riley notices bottles on the shelf at the general store). Riley’s stepfather, Arn, drives a working Jeep. I would have to conclude this story occurs not too long after the present day – perhaps a generation removed at most.

If that’s the case, then I really have to call this story out on something else that it shares in common with Resident Evil: Extinction – people eating cans of long-expired food. Sorry, but no. I saw pictures once where some guy, out of morbid curiosity, bought a can of food from the 1980s from some locally-owned, don’t-care grocery store (kind of like the general store in this story). The food had melded with the metal interior of the can, making the contents completely inedible.

While I’m discussing the time period, if this is supposed to be the future, then older people (such as Arn and Auntie) shouldn’t be talking like any old people that you’d find in any flea market in the south today. They should be talking like Gen-Xers or later generations. Picture aged versions of the thirty-something southerners that you see at Wally World today (some with piercings and tattoos), and you should get the idea. Arn and Auntie come across as being born in a much earlier time than now.

Another shortcoming is the lack of explanation regarding why/when the world became as it is. If it wasn’t for the (spoiler-filled) book description, I’d be more confused. I think an early exposition of the backstory would have helped.

These things aside, I do think this story is generally well-written and a good effort. Would I read the next story? I’m not sure, but I don’t regret reading this one.

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