I’ve finished my Conquest for Phoenix Comicon! I’m impatiently counting down the next six days, along with my husband and all the other Comicon fans in Phoenix.
What a wonderful selection of classes we have to choose from this year! Some of the classes I’m most excited for are:
- Steampunk and the rest of the world
- How Evil Should they Be? Villains and Anti-heroes
- Attacking the 9 Senses
- Airships: Creating Steampunk Technology that Flies
- Technology for Authors
- Dramatic Warfare
And of course, I can’t wait to attend the Steampunk Homecoming Ball benefiting Kids Need to Read, Evening Erotica with Gini Koch, and take a photo with Karl Urban!
To me, Comicon really feels like Christmas for adults. It’s a time to let our inner children come out and play. We can dress up, play with props, take crazy photos, pursue our wacky sci-fi hobbies, and meet other like-minded people who don’t think that questions about efficient steam propulsion are strange.
There are a million ways to enjoy yourself if you are a science fiction fan – and let’s face it, if you are reading this blog, you are a science fiction fan. Whether you attend classes, watch spectator sports like jousting or light saber battles, go to the auditorium to see the spotlights on famous actors or artists, or just come along to be part of the fun, I would encourage you to take at least one day to attend your local Comicon each year.
Just think of it as sanity maintenance! It will prepare you for the other 364 days this year when you have to try to fit in with all the people who think that watching reality TV is a stimulating form of entertainment. 😉
all this time, I’ve just been too blind to understand
what should matter to me
my friend, this life we live it’s not what we have,
it’s what we believe
As I writer, sometimes I tend to see romance where it doesn’t overtly exist. This song is one of those that I will use to put me in the mood to read or write dark romance for many reasons, the lycis, the beauty of the video, and the themes it evokes, to name a few.
The story told in the video brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it. A beautiful angel, played by Gabriel Nunez, does parkour across Cincinnati to save a young mother and her child from being hit by a truck at a streetlight. The video is wonderfully shot, using buildings, an angelic fountain, and a skywalk as the background for the stunts.
The idea that a guardian angel is watching out for us, that they would go to extraordinary lengths to protect us from harm, is very close to several themes that philosophers have struggled with as long as philosophy has existed. Where do we come from? Are we alone? Is there anyone out there who watches over us?
It isn’t hard for me to bring romance into this scenario. In my mind, the woman is a single mother, and the angel is her protector. He fell in love with her, but was busy being lectured by another angel until the last minute, when he realized she was in danger. Normally, he would have interfered to move the truck out of the way, or urge her into a different route, but because of the lack of time, he was forced to simply run in front of her car, showing himself.
You know where this story is going to go next, don’t you, lover of dark romance?
Yes, this is the beginning of a wonderful story where the angel is going to sacrifice his wings to live a human life, and she has to come to terms with feeling worthy of that sacrifice, just by being herself.
And no, she isn’t going to be hit by a car the next day for all of you naysayers. 😉 They are going to live happily ever after.
Well, whether you agree with my dark romance or not, this video is wonderful and if you haven’t seen it, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpfhcljJ9bQ
there might be more than you believe
there might be more than you believe
there might be more than you can see
Written and Performed by 3 Doors Down
On the Album 3 Doors Down
arms wide open, i stand alone
i’m no hero, and i’m not made of stone
Today’s song is not a romance ballad…but I think if you look you will see that it is the inspiration for a lot of writers. This song, Wrong Side of Heaven, by Five Finger Death Punch, is intended to show to the plight of the veterans who have returned home with issues but aren’t receiving help.
Why do writers write? I suspect that it’s probably for the same reason that singers sing, and today I am going to share with you another way that songs can inspire me to write – that is, by bringing up an issue or problem that needs to be solved.
In the same way that they were inspired to sing this song, many romance writers have been inspired to write stories about veterans with issues, trying to give them the fictional ‘happily ever afters’ that so many of them desperately need. Three such stories I can think of immediately are:
- Elizabeth’s Wolf by Lora Leigh
- Flashback by Maria Hammarblad
- Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye
It lightens my heart when artists try, in their own myriad ways, to bring attention to real world issues. If nothing else, it can help us open our hearts and minds to those who are suffering. A few science fiction romance novels I could recommend would be:
- Kieran by Jennifer Ashley (the hero has had parts of his brain removed)
- Calder by Jennifer Ashley (the hero is horribly scarred from a plasma fire)
- Taunting Krell by Laurann Dohner (the hero has been tortured and scarred and is considered ‘undesirable’ by other cyborgs)
If you enjoy historical romance novels, I can recommend:
- The Wild Child by Mary Jo Putnam (the heroine has ptsd)
- Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss (the hero was injured in the Civil War)
right or wrong, I can hardly tell,
i’m on the wrong side of heaven, but the righteous side of hell
Written and Performed by Five Finger Death Punch
on the album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1
Note: SPOILERS ABOUND IN THIS BLOG. If you have not watched Age of Ultron, by Loki’s horned headpiece, get off this blog and go see it!!!
Graphics for the icons taken from the awesome, awesome sketch by FadlyRomdhani at Deviantart
As a sci- fi romance author, I’m probably looking for different things in my movies than the average person. Yes, I want
action. I want some humor. I want a great villain. But I also want some great romance.
It doesn’t have to be pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, Fifty Shades of Grey-type stuff. In fact, I thought the mix was pretty much perfect through the Iron Man films. Action, humor, and a romantic arc that took him from a billionaire playboy to a decent human being by the end of the three films.
Romantically, I was particularly excited for The Age of Ultron to come out. There is the Thor and Jane Foster romance, and the aforementioned Iron Man and Pepper. There are also the Hulk, Black Widow, Steve Rogers, and Hawkeye as the yet unknown romantic opportunities.
We’ve had some beautiful moments between the Black Widow and Hawkeye in the first Avengers, and more recently, the Black Widow and Steve Rogers in The Winter Soldier.
And what did we get?
A hot mess of characters basically vomiting all over the screen because each of them lacks balance and purpose. During the whole movie, we have no idea why any of them are there. Honestly, it just seems like they have nothing better to do. Hey, it’s a paycheck. There’s no urgency, no purpose, no reason to look to the future.
Marvel is forgetting that Age of Ultron isn’t just a sequel to the Avengers. it’s also a sequel to all of the Iron Man movies, the Thor movies, and the Captain America movies.
And it doesn’t matter who you are or what media you’re in, you can’t have a fulfilling sequel if you are leaving the love lives of your characters offstage. It isn’t just that you are leaving the romantic partners out, it’s that those romantic partners have helped to make the characters who they are.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, doesn’t exist as a fully-fledged male without Pepper. Loving her brought out the selfless, wonderful part of him. The part that cared about something more than his company and his money. It gave him balance. It made him want to protect the world and gave him something to fight for.
When I think about it, they really had to make Pepper disappear for this movie to work, or he never would have created Ultron. Because a woman will kick your ass if you try to invent stuff that can cause the next extinction level event on the planet.
Thor also doesn’t exist without Jane, for a similar reason. She’s the reason he cares what happens here. She’s the purpose. For her to be completely missing – and for him not to even know what continent she’s on – is ludicrous. Even without the fact that he loves her – he’s a god. He would know where she is, trust me. We need to see that connection, to remind us of why he is here; why he is vested in saving Earth.
Of the two love interests we did see in the movie, one was completely unnecessary and the other was completely unwarranted. As viewers we are completely uninvested in Hawkeye having a wife and kids. There has been no Hawkeye movie, no buildup to warrant the screen time.
Also, Hawkeye’s wife was almost encouraging him to quit the Avengers. She worried that no one would have his back, and asked him to look out for number one. That’s really a bad thing for a superhero movie. Superheroes have to be bigger than their own personal lives. The people they love give them purpose, and they have to be willing to self-sacrifice to save them. This character arc only works when we see that he actively decides to risk his life anyway, and she comes to understand that and see it as heroic. But we never got that completion.
Second, there has been no inkling of a romance between Bruce and Natasha. In the first movie, she was afraid of him when he hulked out and chased her. Seriously afraid of him. That she’s figured out how to master him is probably less about romance and more about the fact that she likes to be in control and he is the greatest threat on the team.
For her to be ready to run away with him skips the entire romantic buildup. Suddenly we’re three-fourths of the way through the romantic arc without first seeing that these two were attracted to each other.
Sadly, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlet Johansson are such good actors that they actually manage to pull us along with them even though that arc is missing. I say sadly because it’s unfair to their characters, and to them, to have to miss the building attraction, making mistakes, mutual affection, overcoming obstacles, and finding balance that comes with forging a solid relationship.
We still aren’t fully vested in them by the end when he leaves, and the ending leaves the viewer with more sadness toward them as individuals rather than a sadness as to how great their relationship could have been, and rooting for them to overcome their differences and get together in the next movie.
We are left with the sad fact that no matter who Black Widow goes for next, it’s going to be bad. If she goes for Hulk, there will be two pretty damaged characters getting together from a place of weakness. If she goes for Steve, she’s now flip-flopping between men on the same team. Never a good idea, even if he is a hundred times better for her than Bruce. If she goes for someone new, it will be the fourth love interest and now we’re getting up in numbers.
I really hope that Marvel can get it together when they write the script for the next movie. We need a script that builds on the lives of the individual characters. We need a reason for them to fight, and love is the best reason there is. In the next movie we need to see the continuation of the former romantic arcs, and one new, believable arc that the viewer can invest in that takes the two parties to the next level.
And if I don’t get to see Thor kiss someone in Avengers 3, dammit, I’m never going to see another Marvel movie again.
What does Phoenix Comicon offer authors?
Well, it’s almost that time of year again. Comicon!!! Last night I presented a table talk at Desert Rose on why authors should attend Phoenix Comicon, and I thought I’d share a few key points with you.
The largest reason to attend comicon is to get new ideas. Most authors attend plenty of ‘author’ workshops – by authors, for authors. Comicon is place where you can attend workshops intended for a larger audience, allowing you to take ideas from other genres or media to diversify your writing.
Let me give one great example of this. I taught two comic classes for four years when I was in Korea. I used two books by Scott McCloud, Making Comics for the first semester, and Understanding Comics for the second semester. In Making Comics, McCloud does a wonderful job of covering the six facial expressions that are present in every culture on the planet, how facial expressions scale (sternness > indignation > anger > rage), and how facial expressions mix to create new expressions (anger + disgust = outrage).
Is this useful for an author? That question was entirely rhetorical. The ability to describe facial expressions in unique and interesting ways is one of the hallmarks of a great writer. Attending a course for artists on how to refine facial expressions will teach you a lot about how to break them down so you can visualize and describe them in your work.
This is only one, infinitesimally small portion of what Phoenix Comicon offers. You can attend makeup and costuming classes to bring life and detail to your characters. You can walk through the vendor shops and observe what people are buying. What appeals to the market? What is trending? What age groups are buying certain items, and what classes are they attending?
And hell, if you have no imagination, I guess you can just attend one of the around 100 courses offered for authors. Many of the writing courses can be applied to any genre: Reluctant Heroes, Who’s driving? Plot or Character?, How Evil Should They Be? Villains and Anti-heroes, and Get to Know Your Firearms are just some of the many offerings that can be applied across genres to make your writing better.
Here is a preliminary list of what this year’s comicon schedule is going to look like. There are already more classes up on the site, and if it is like last year, I believe that this list shows only about half the courses that will be offered. The rest aren’t up on the web site yet because they are late with the scheduling.
At $80, you aren’t going to find better value for money anywhere else. The official web site is here: http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/.
2015 Phoenix Comicon Books & Authors Programming (To Date):
- 21 Days to a Novel
- Airships: Creating Steampunk Technology that flies
- Artist/Writer Connection
- Attacking the 9 Senses
- Breaking Those Writer’s Blocks
- British Zombie Invasion
- Build an Impromptu Story (collaborate with other authors)
- Chuck Wendig Spotlight – hard-hitting advice for aspiring authors
- Del Rey Spotlight – what books they will have coming out in the future
- Dialogue: Speech vs. Prose
- Diana Gabaldon
- Dragons and Rare Creatures
- Fan Fic Theater – they will read aloud YOUR story, bring your best work
- From Page to Screen – turning a book into a movie, TV show, etc
- Get to Know Your Firearms
- Good = Perfect – when do we need flaws in our protagonists?
- Have Your Writing Critiqued – General – Read aloud 3 minutes and literary professionals will critique it
- Have Your Writing Critiqued – The First Page – Can You Make the Cut?
- Here on Earth – writing Earth-centric Science Fiction
- Historical and Fantastical and Maybe a Little Magical – spice up your story with a little unreality
- How Big Can It Get? – building massive worlds, creating huge casts of characters, etc.
- How Evil Should They Be? – villains and anti-heroes/anti-heroines
- How to Adapt Your Novel to a Screenplay and Vice Versa
- Hybrid Authors
- In the Beginning – Authors reminisce about how they got published the first time
- Life After True Blood – Vampires in the modern world
- Lighting the Darkness: Creating, Fandom, and Comicon with Mental Illness
- Magic and Paranormal in Steampunk Writing
- Magic Refresh – uses of magic and innovative ways to bring magic to literature
- Marketing Your Novel – cover letters that work, elevator speeches, manuscripts, etc
- Mother Trucking Monsters – What makes a memorable monster
- Mythology – ancient and modern and how it works with modern literature
- On The Outside Looking In – Authors that cross genres
- Outside Influences – Be it peer pressure or possession, how do outside influences get in and change a character?
- Paranormal Romances – Can love survive?
- Rewriting History – how to alter history into a realistic fantasy
- Serial Box Publishing – writing weekly serials
- Sherrilyn Kenyon spotlight
- Space in Science Fiction
- Stepping Up to Social Media
- Super Supernatural
- Technology for Authors – creative ways to publish and promote
- Tension on Every Page
- The Food of Fantasy – feasts
- Unlikely Influences – authors discuss what non-book influences inspired their writing
- Urban Fantasy
- Who’s Driving? – Plot or character?
- World Building
- Writer’s Life – How to: maintain a “normal” life, handle writing time, budget irregular paychecks, deal with travel, and fans. How can family handle this? Hear from authors and their significant others on how to survive the literary life.
- Writing Reluctant Heroes
- YA Bridging the Generation Gap