Blog Tour for “Embracing the Demon”

Blog Tour Banner

I’m going on tour! Well, a blog tour that is.

From June 18-July 2, I will be embarking on a blog tour. I’ll be doing some guest posts, some interviews, and there may be a new excerpt or two in there somewhere. Special thanks to Bewitching Blog Tours for setting this up. I’m super excited!

There’s also a giveaway involved, so stay tuned…

Here’s the schedule:

June 18 Fang-tastic Books
http://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com

June 18 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom (Guest Blog)
http://creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

June 19 SImply Kelina
http://simplykelina.blogspot.com/

June 19 Roxanne’s Realm
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

June 20 I Smell Sheep (Guest Blog)
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

June 20 Jazzy Book Reviews
http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com

June 21 Dark Treasury
https://www.audenjohnson.com/

June 21 Teaser Addicts Book Blog
https://teaseraddictsbookblogblog.wordpress.com/

June 22 Mythical Books (Interview)
https://mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/ 

June 22 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
https://jbbookworms.blogspot.com/

June 25 Authors’ Secrets (Interview)
http://www.tenastetler.com/category/authors-secrets-blog/

June 26 Stacking My Book Shelves!
http://stackingmybookshelves.blogspot.com

June 27 Other Worlds of Romance (Guest Blog)
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romances
http://lindamooney.blogspot.com/

June 27 Paranormalists
https://paranormalists.blogspot.com/

June 28 Saph’s Books
https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/

June 28 Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

June 29 Urban Fantasy Investigations (Guest Blog)
http://urbanfantasyinvestigations.blogspot.com/ 

June 29 T’s Stuff
http://www.tsstuff.net

July 2 Rose Shababy (Guest Blog)
http://therealroseshababy.com/

July 2 Ramblings of a Book Nerd
https://booknerdramblings2015.blogspot.com/

July 2 The Book Junkie Reads (Interview)
https://thebookjunkiereadspromos.blogspot.com/ 

 

Worldbuilding in Contemporary Fantasy at Geek Girl Authority

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So when we think of worldbuilding in fantasy, what do we think of? Tolkien’s Middle Earth? George R. R. Martin’s Westeros? Maybe even C.S. Lewis’s Narnia? But how does one incorporate worldbuilding into your work when your fantasy is set in the real world? Is it even possible?

I’m over at Geek Girl Authority today talking about that very thing.

Thank you to Audrey Kearns for giving me the opportunity to blog at Geek Girl Authority again!

 

“Solo” Delivers the Most Meh “Star Wars” Film Yet

Solo Picture

I went to see Solo this past weekend with my husband and in-laws, and it was…fine.

This isn’t the emotion you expect a Star Wars film to inspire. Most Star Wars geeks are either love-it-or-hate-it on every single Star Wars film ever. (For the record, I loved The Force Awakens. I found The Last Jedi harder to digest, but I think it was the better movie overall. I was extremely disappointed in Rogue One, mostly because it could have been great if it had focused more on character development. The aught-era prequels don’t count in my universe, and frankly, I think Return of the Jedi is underrated.)

So Solo was…fine. Again. I’m not sure there are any other words to describe it. Amazing how the most beloved character in the franchise could be the star of a film so unmemorable that I literally had trouble describing what it was about 10 minutes after we left the theater.

My husband–who is both a Star Wars fan and a cinephile–fell asleep in the theater.

So what was the problem? Honestly, I think there were a few things. Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Han, is all right, but he can’t even come close to matching the raw charisma of Harrison Ford. Ford is so associated with this role that it’s hard to watch the movie without comparing the two. There’s too damn much going on in this movie, and it’s too long. The way it’s structured, it could have easily been divided into two films (although maybe I shouldn’t give Disney ideas).

Also, quite frankly, the film has a Prequel Problem (TM). Why should we care about the relationship between Han and Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke)–the central catalyst for the whole film–when we already know she doesn’t show up in any other movie in the series? We already know that the younger, more idealistic Han is going to turn into older, jaded Han. We already know he’s going to meet Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tantooine and fall in love with Leia. And frankly (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS, just in case you’re really that far behind) we already know that Han’s going to die at the hands of his own son. Why should we care about Han’s past with characters who don’t matter? Qi’Ra doesn’t set Han on his collision course with destiny; Luke and Leia do.

nullBut I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the shining star of this movie: Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. He manages to both honor Billy Dee Williams’ performance and add something totally new to the character. He pivots seamlessly from the cocky Lando we know and love to a more emotional character than we’ve ever seen before. Forget Solo…if The Powers That Be don’t use their Star Wars saturation to produce a Lando Calrissian movie starring Donald Glover, that would be a crime against a galaxy far, far away.

Kennywood Comicon, June 17

Kennywood Comicon Logo

Hello, everyone! I am super excited to announce that I will be appearing at Kennywood Comicon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on June 17.

I’m stoked about this one. As you may know, Pittsburgh is my hometown, and I still have family and friends who live in the area. Kennywood was our go-to place every summer through high school graduation.

Kennywood itself is this really amazing amusement park that has both managed to honor its history (the park dates back to 1899!) and bring itself into the modern era with great new rides and games. It was part of my inspiration for the Funland amusement park in The Demon Within. (Basically, Funland was Kennywood, if Kennywood had gone to the Renaissance Fair, with the Disney World tunnels thrown in for good measure.) Kennywood’s Jack Rabbit was the very first roller coaster I ever rode on–and coincidentally, it’s also one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the United States. So yeah, I’m a little sentimental.

Kennywood Comicon will take place on Sunday, June 17, from 10:30am until the park closes at 10pm. (Be warned, however: vendors are allowed to start leaving after 6pm, so it’s definitely to your advantage to show up early.) You’ll get a discount on your park admission if you wear a comic-themed shirt!

I’ll be in Artist’s Alley in Pavilion 33–and *fingers crossed* I should have copies of BOTH of my books there!

I. Can’t. Wait.

Noir at the Bar(crawl), May 6 in Baltimore

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Are you going to be in the DC/Baltimore area on Sunday, May 6?

Do you want to hear some amazing readings from some of the area’s best authors?

Do you like pizza? Or beer? Or both? (C’mon, you know the answer is yes to at least one of those!)

Next Sunday, May 6, I’ll be appearing at “Noir at the Bar(crawl)” at Zella’s Pizzeria in Baltimore, MD. Nik Korpon, the Baltimore-based author of the new post-apocalyptic thriller Queen of the Struggle, will be hosting, and the readers include:

–Andrew Novak
–Damien Angelica Walters
–Michael R. Underwood
–Ronald Malfi
–Sujata Massey

And of course, me. You’ll be getting a special sneak preview of Embrace the Demon. I can also neither confirm nor deny that I’ll have some ARCs (advance reader copies) to raffle away.

Noir on the Bar(crawl) is an ongoing reading series spanning the Mid-Atlantic, and I’m super excited to be a part of the Baltimore leg.

“I Feel Pretty” isn’t the problem. Society is.

I_Feel_Pretty

I’ve been thinking a lot about the controversy surrounding Amy Schumer’s new movie I Feel Pretty. Basically, the gist of it seem to come down to the idea that—based on the previews, at least—the movie is fat-shaming Schumer, implying that it’s hilarious for an average-sized woman to feel gorgeous. On the other side, there’s also been the criticism that it’s ridiculous that Schumer—who is already white, blonde, and conventionally pretty—to be portrayed as an “ugly duckling.”

I had a very different reaction when I saw the preview. I related to it.

For better or worse, women in this society internalize the idea that their most valuable asset is their appearance. I certainly have. It doesn’t matter that I had parents who continually praised my intelligence and accomplishments, or that I now have a husband who adores my creativity and wit. I am a woman. I’m supposed to be pretty. I see it every time I turn on the television or read a magazine. I hear it every time a male friend or coworker tells me he wouldn’t even bother going on a date with a woman if she’s not attractive enough. I re-learned it every time I flipped through online dating profiles and read things like “I really want a woman who takes care of her appearance” (translation: no ugly girls), or “I want a woman who cares about her health and working out” (translation: no fat girls).

I also know that I’m not society’s standard of beautiful. I’m solidly built and I carry a little too much weight. My legs are too short. My face is too round. I look like I have fourteen chins if you take my picture at the wrong angle. One of my eyelids droops lower than the other. The bags under my eyes make me look like I’m auditioning for the next season of The Walking Dead. My fingers somehow manage to be too short and too big at the same time. And my breasts are ridiculously disproportionate to the rest of my body, which basically means every shirt I own fits me like a tent, adding the appearance of yet more weight to my figure that I just don’t need.

In short, I look like an average person, not like an actress or a supermodel or even a girl who would serve wings at your local Hooters. And every day, I feel like this is an inadequacy on my part.

But I’m not inadequate. I’m smart and funny. I have a husband I adore who adores me right back. I know everything you would ever want to know about cats and then some. I have an amazing memory, and I kick ass at trivia nights. I’m awesome at karaoke, not because I’m a great singer but because I’ve got moxy. I write books, for crying out loud! How many people can honestly say they’re living their childhood dream? I can. But on top of hating ourselves for our appearances, we woman are expected to downplay or brush off all the amazing things that we’ve done, all the cool things that we’ve accomplished, lest we be thought of as arrogant or boastful. We can’t win.

This society is designed to make women feel bad about ourselves. We internalize the idea that our looks are the only thing that matters, and our looks are never good enough. We’re taught to be modest and self-effacing, to beat ourselves down until all we hear are the voices in our heads telling us how not good enough we are.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and Schumer has—for better or worse—earned a healthy degree of skepticism from the viewing public. But to me, the film didn’t look like the story of a woman who only believes she’s beautiful because of a head injury. It looks like the story of a woman whose self-esteem has been beaten down by a toxic society that tells women they’re never good enough, and who finally learns to own her awesome.

And ultimately, regardless of what I Feel Pretty says, that’s a good lesson for all of us. Not all of us are going to be cookie-cutter supermodels—and fuck society for making us feel like we need to be! Own your awesome. I’m going to try harder to own mine.

“Embracing the Demon” Publication Date, and Appearances

Embracing the Demon Cover

The Embracing the Demon publication date has been delayed, just a little; it will now be coming out in June 2018. (I don’t have an exact date yet.)

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I’m so anxious for the book to be out in the world, and I was looking forward to debuting it at Awesome Con in March (more on that in a second), but…to be honest, I’m kind of relieved. I finished the ARC draft of Embracing back in November, and was immediately bombarded with the holidays and all they entail. A March publication date wouldn’t have given me a lot of time to pitch guests blogs, do interviews, and just basically make a nuisance of myself on the internet. Moreover, it wouldn’t have given my publisher much time to submit the book to reviewers and trade publications. So yes, those extra few months give me a lot more breathing room, and I hope this book release will turn out better for it.

(Also, look at my cover. Isn’t it purdy? I got a wee bit obsessive about certain details in this cover, and I’m sure my editor was thisclose to strangling me–only the fact that he’s in California, and I’m in Virginia, prevented my demise. Also the fact that I owe him three more books. But I think it turned out for the best. I may actually like this cover better than the one for The Demon Within.)

As part of my promotional efforts, I’ve lined up a couple of appearances later this year:

Awesome Con
March 30-April 2, 2018
Washington, DC
Walter E. Washington Convention Center

“Noir on the Bar” Reading Series
May 6, 2018, 7 p.m.
Baltimore, MD
Location TBD

I’ll put these up on my Appearances page as soon as I can.

Website updates will likely be coming soon, with some additional information about Embracing the Demon and, hopefully, an excerpt–will have to check with the publisher about that one. And hopefully, I won’t wait three months to update my blog again *bashful face*.

More to come!

Interview on The Attic Ghost Blog

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Hey guys! I know I’ve been MIA lately; I’ve been hard at work on my revisions for Embracing the Demon, which are due at the end of this month. (As in, a few days from now. Cue freakout.)

But I did want to let you know that I am being interviewed on the Attic Ghost blog today, talking about my writing, why I gravitated to the urban fantasy genre, and (of course) my cats!

Thank you to author Kathy Finfrock for featuring me!

Fantasy Demon Within Movie Casting: William Moseley as John

One of the questions I get asked a lot as a writer is, “Who would you like to play [insert character’s name] in a movie?

This is always hard for me, because I have very specific ideas about what these characters look like, and very rarely does an actor look/feel exactly right enough for me.

But one actor I’ve seen gets pretty close.

Presenting William Moseley…a.k.a. my fantasy casting pick for John.

 

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Picture by Faye Thomas, from William Moseley’s IMDB page.

 

You may remember him as Peter Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia films, but as you can see he’s grown up quite a bit since then. (And the years have been quite kind!)

He’s not a complete match for John: John has light brown eyes in the books, while Moseley’s are blue. And if you decide to do a Google image search–which I wholeheartedly encourage–you’ll have to sift through a lot of pubescent photos of him to get to the more recent ones where he has more of a John vibe–John looks like he’s in his mid-30s, so the younger Moseley just had too much of a baby face.

But this is the first time I’ve seen a picture of an actor that I’ve felt that spark, like, “Yes, that’s who I’ve been seeing in my mind!”

Have his people call my people. We’ll do lunch. (More important question, do you think he can do a passable American accent?)

Game of Thrones Wrap-Up: The Pack Survives, and the Starks May Win the Game

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SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 7.

 

In winter, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.

And who would have guessed a few seasons ago that the strongest “pack” on Game of Thrones would be the Starks? Think about it. The Tyrells and the Martells are all dead, the Arryns and the Baratheons and the Tullys nearly so. Even the Lannisters are so decimated and fractured at this point that their strength may never recover. Jaime may never be able to pull away from Cersei completely, but as of the finale, he no longer seems to support her unchecked megalomania.

Meanwhile, the Starks have only grown stronger this season, as we saw in the finale. The show’s been playing on the rift between Sansa and Arya, and Bran’s apparent apathy toward the whole thing. But it was all a ruse to trap Littlefinger at his own game. Littlefinger’s own pretty, deceptive words came back to bite him in the end.

And with a bewildered face that has already launched 1,000 memes, Game of Thrones‘ most manipulative character has been removed from the game board. Chaos is a ladder, indeed. And sometimes people fall off.

But I think what’s important here is how Sansa and Arya have learned from their parents’ mistakes. Littlefinger’s machinations tore their mother and aunt apart and ultimately led to both their deaths. Sansa, Arya–and yes, even Bran–stood together, and took down one of their most formidable opponents.

(As for Bran…I’ve about halfway forgiven him from his season-long arc of douchiness that led to me calling for his death just a few days ago. When it counted, he stood with his family. It still doesn’t justify all of his behavior, but I’ll give him some credit.)

Each of the Stark children bring unique skills to the table: Sansa’s political savvy, Arya’s badass assassin training, Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven abilities. Apart, none of them could win this game, but together, they’ve really come into their own.

And we can’t forget about Jon Snow. We may have confirmation now that Jon is Aegon Targaryen, but his loyalties have always been to the Starks. (Jon really showed how much he takes after his adoptive father in the finale when he refused to pledge his loyalty to Cersei–a move that would have been politically savvy, but would have betrayed the oath he’d just made to Dany in the previous episode.)

Jon remains King in the North, and he’s forged a powerful alliance with Daenerys Targaryen. Of course, he’s put himself in a fraught position, both because the Northern lords are unlikely to accept Dany as their queen, and because he’s Dany’s nephew. Putting the ick factor of their incestuous relationship aside, Jon now has a better claim to the Iron Throne than Dany does. Jon is one of the few characters on the show that’s never wanted power; the power he’s gained has been pretty much thrust upon him. The same can’t be said for Dany. She wants the Iron Throne badly, and Jon is a threat.

But even with Dany’s armies and dragons, she’s going to have a hard time going up against the combined strength of the Stark clan. Let’s hope that Dany remembers that Jon Snow is not “just a bastard.” Whatever Jon’s DNA might say, he’s a Stark at heart, and the Starks have learned the one thing that the rest of the great families have failed to master: that they’re stronger together than alone.

 

Beth Woodward is the author of the contemporary fantasy novel, The Demon Within (Amazon; Barnes and Noble). The sequel, Embracing the Demon, will be released in March 2018.