TP in the mail? And free books.

My mother-in-law sent us a care package from back home today. In the box of assorted snacks, and home made cookies, she included a roll of toilet paper, and a thing of hand soap. Odd that sending people toilet paper now seems almost normal now.

The best part was she printed out memes, and faces, for everything and stuck them to the individual items. Our Cheez-its now have a big goofy smile on them, it’s great.

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been to the store so I don’t even know if they have any at ours. I hope you are able to find the things you need right now.

Continuing on my entertainment for those stuck inside (which is most of us right now) I have two more short stories for free, and an anthology.

The Ring and The Camera: Two short stories revolving around cursed items like a Tales from the Crypt style.

 

Stars End: a glimpse into a possible future, and the way technology might change relationships.

Stay safe out there my friends.

Crissy

Review: Dust

Some days I get lost in the back alleys of YouTube, taking in amazing short films. Some are funny, some poignant, some beautifully done. A few stand out above the crowd as true masterful strokes.

Dust by Ember Labs is one such film. (Also available on Vimeo) This 26 min film is a mix of fantasy and science fiction that captivates the audience with the world building, and touches our emotions with the story telling.

Set in a world where everything is evolving incredibly fast, the trackers are there to record the evolutions, and find cures for diseases and poisons that might come of the quick adaptations. Humans, of course, have locked themselves behind walls to try and save themselves, but a wall doesn’t stop a virus.

The world is shown thorough the eyes of a man who has lost his way. Once a tracker, he has withdrawn into the city that he used to disdain. Now he has to venture back out into the wilderness to find the cause of a new virus, Dust, and a cure.

The CGI is beautifully done in this film. From insects with glowing wings, to interesting mushrooms that emit clouds of spores, and a large beast deep in the forest. The wilderness settings give stark contrast to the walled city rising up through the trees, and the apothecary shop sets the stage for our would be tracker.

Everything from color, to atmosphere, to sound, blends together to create a beautiful experience. Well worth the watch.

Review: Terminator Dark Fate

I loved the terminator franchise. It, like Alien, RoboCop, Star Trek and Star Wars, shaped my view of science fiction and action films. Sometimes gritty, often funny, with fantastic fight scenes and eye catching special effects.

Of course when they announced Terminator Dark Fate I watched the trailer hoping for a great new movie….and it failed to compel me. All of the things I wanted, action, special effects, a touch of humor…not there. What they did have was an all female cast. That was the important point they had to tell me in this trailer. We aren’t protecting a guy who will save the world, no, this time it’s a WOMAN. The blatant “for women” mentality behind the advertisement completely turned me off. I’m not looking for girl power, I want a good story!

But when my roommate bought us tickets I didn’t say no. The three of us went off to the theater. I hoped for a decent movie, but my expectations were not high after the trailer.

Watching the movie I have to say that the trailers did not do the film any favors. The movie is a decent enough popcorn flick. Lots of action, a few great laughs, but no real meat to the film. It was a solid okay.

A few minor spoilers beyond, but I try not to be very specific.

A few things did bother me about the movie. One, they absolutely ret-conned a large section of the franchise. This is a series that deals with time travel, so it isn’t unheard of, but the way they did it felt like they were just dismissing all the previous movies as if they didn’t matter.

In fact when the new female hero finally meets up with Sarah Conner her reaction is…. “Who are you?” She has never heard of Sara Conner, effectively overwriting the previous history.

The best part of the movie was actually Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had the funniest lines, giving them in his usual dead pan terminator style. His action sequences were some of the best. He fought off the new terminator while the person they were rescuing stood by with wide eyes watching everything happen.

On that note, let’s talk about the new cast. We have Grace, the augmented human from the future who isn’t half bad. She’s kind of a bad ass, and kicks some butt. However, I felt like we didn’t get enough time to really get to know her as anything but a body guard. She hides the reason she is helping Dani until the end, and by then I just didn’t care enough.

Then there is Dani, the person Grace was sent to save. She almost seems to go from scared little girl to inspirational leader in five seconds flat. She lets others fight her battles for her. She keeps trying to run back into danger when she knows it will kill her. Over all she wasn’t an effective character. She isn’t going to be this inspiration just because future girl says so.

When I saw the original Terminator I felt like Sara Conner was an amazing woman who dealt with the bad hand that she was given, and made the best of it. She was scared at first, but she made every effort to fight for her life, and for everyone else’s life. She didn’t keep running back into danger, or stand around staring at everyone else fighting. She ran when she needed to, and she fought when she had to. She grew into something amazing so that she could inspire her son to do the same.

Dark Fate had the same problem that a lot of modern movies seem to have. The characters don’t grow over time, it’s more of an instant thing. Something happens, or a flip switches in their head, and all of a sudden they are a new, better version of themselves, if they grow at all. It’s unrealistic, and abrasive.

The last part that I found really cringy about the entire movie was the whole “they want you for your womb, not for you” part. Yes, I get it, Conner is pissed off at the world because her life was messed up, but the whole “we want you for your womb” part was over the top and reaching. Conner was a great character because her strength inspired her son to become who he was. That was the point. Without her he would have been nothing.

Still, the cringy parts are short, and easily overlooked if you just want a nice popcorn flick to get you through the weekend. It did have some great fight scenes, and the new terminator was kind of cool with the combination metal skeleton and liquid skin. And, of course, Arnold was fantastic.

Stars and Cards

I’ve published TWO things this weekend!

First, Stars End. A collection of science fiction short stories that you can read in bite size pieces.

The four short stories contained inside explore what life might mean in a distant future when space travel and longevity are things humanity take for granted.

Second, I’ve been working on Vertigo, a card based litRPG, for a while. I decided I wanted to publish it on Royal Road and Wattpad as a free title. So you can find the first to chapters there right now.

New chapters will be uploaded every weekend.

This is an experiment to see if it encourages me to write more. I’m hoping that writing in such a public way will force me to stay accountable to myself.

It also makes me happy that my daughter drew the figure on the cover. I gave her a basic idea of what to draw and she went with it.

I already have several chapters of Vertigo ready to go, I’m just editing and cleaning them up before posting every week. That doesn’t mean the other writing stops, it just means fora day or two a week I am devoted to one chapter from Vertigo. But it’s been fun, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

Kindle Unlimited for FREE for 3 months!

Amazon Prime day was just last weekend, but they didn’t stop everything. I just found out today that they are giving away three months of Kindle Unlimited for absolutely free for three months. You have to cancel after the three months or get charged $10, but there is no obligation to keep your subscription after the three months.

If you have a phone, tablet, computer, or any other Android or Apple device, you can read kindle books wherever you are. And the authors still get paid, so it’s great for everyone involved.

Also, my books are in KU so if there is one you’ve been thinking about reading the next three months have you covered. From litRPG to fantasy, and all the short stories in between.

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you read, this is your chance to check out what is available in KU, and get your summer reading. Here are some suggestions:
The Hollow Series by Kim Harrison (A little like a female Dresden, but with her own twists.)
Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko is one of the best litRPG adventures I’ve ever read.
Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits where a player gets trapped playing a monster and the only way out is to get stronger.
The Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker. Think Firefly, cowboys in space, with a new flare.
The Baine Chronicals by Jasmine Walt. A young shifter in a world of mages. Fantasy with a touch of steam punk and political intrigue.

Happy Reading!

Crissy

All the books!

giveaway 3It’s time for a HUGE give away. If you go HERE you can download more than fifty free books from various scifi, fantasy, and horror authors. There are even a few super hero books, and a couple YA books.

My book, Witch’s Sacrifice, is also available for free. Get it now, this is probably one of the few times I will offer it for free.

You can’t go wrong just by checking it out. Plus you can sign up for their roflcopter and try to win a free kindle. More free stuff! I know, it’s amazing!

Strong Female Characters

I saw another post asking which stories could use strong female characters, and my answer probably wasn’t what they were looking for: None of them.

Now, before you get up in arms please hear me out, because I do have a reason behind it.

There are already a lot of wonderful books out there with strong female characters as the lead character. A short list:
Aurian by Maggie Furey
Rhapsody: Child of Blood by Elizabeth Haydon
The Hallows Series by Kim Harrison
Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Twenty Sided Sorceress by Annie Bellet
The Little Flame Series by Melissa Lummis
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina
White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Several books in the Xanth Series by Piers Anthony
Anything by Anne McCaffery
Elvenbane by Andre Norton
Several books in the Wool Series by Hugh Howey
The Shambling Guides by Mur Lafferty
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hit Girls by Garrett Robinson
Anything from the Buffy the Vampire universe.
Harper Collelly series by Charaine Harris.

And these are just the books that I know of because I’ve personally read them (or watched the movie in the case of Hunger Games). There are over 6,000 books in this list with strong female lead characters, many of which have been on best seller lists, or made into movies. And this isn’t even counting all the strong, wonderful women that play secondary roles in books like Kitiara from Dragonlance Chronicles, Catti-brie from the Dritzzt series, or Hermione from Harry Potter. That’s not even getting into comic books. And I’m sure there are thousands more that aren’t even in that list.

All of the stories in my list are sci-fi and fantasy. That’s because I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also know a lot of strong female characters from paranormal romance. I also know of characters from other books, games, and films in many other genres that are strong female characters.

Am I saying we don’t need any more? Of course not, that would be like saying we don’t need more books. I really enjoy reading about strong women doing extraordinary things, and even wrote my own series of books with that in mind so I hope my favorite authors continue writing theirs. I also enjoy reading about mages that slowly go mad, or women who are hell cats and need to be tamed. There are all kinds of books out there, with all kinds of characters, because people come with different attitudes, desires, ideas, and personalities. But I would also encourage more authors to include strong female characters…IF they are a benefit to the story.

Not every story has a woman in it. What if you wrote a story about a man in a men’s shower room? Or a group of men going on a camping trip together? Or a father and son sharing a moment? Or a group of dwarves out to save their mountain? Not every story is going to have a strong female character in it. Not every story is going to have a woman in it. In fact when they added a strong female into The Hobbit some of the fans were less than thrilled with the addition.

A story isn’t always about sex, gender, political correctness, or whatever. Sometimes it’s just a story about a leaf blowing in the wind, or the history of salt, or vampire bunnies. And if a story doesn’t have a female character that doesn’t automatically make it anti-women. Hell, there could be a character in the story that is utterly sexist and the story still might not be about women.

My thought for those looking for strong female characters: Expand your reading list, because there are THOUSANDS of books out there with strong female characters, you just have to be open to finding them. And just so you know, MEN need strong male character role models, too. And both sexes need the ridiculously heroic characters, or the weak ones, or the the psychopathic murderous kings/queens to show them what not to be. It does not take away from your enjoyment of books/films/games/etc because the other sex also has what you are looking for.

And if you think any gender, or genderless, or gender fluid individual needs more characters like them out there: GO WRITE IT! That’s the beauty of the indy world. Anyone can make anything that they think should exist.