Thursday, September 11, 2014


I’ve tried to write this several times over the years, and it’s never sounded right. This year, I just need to let the words lie on the paper and trust myself, and you, to understand the heart of what I’m trying to say.

I’m going to spend very little time on the Internet today, because the 9/11 tributes are just too much.

The tributes have their place, and we certainly should remember the people we lost. Continuing to flay a wound that’s been festering for over a decade and prolong a war without clear cause and meaning anymore, not so much. I support our troops; my husband was in the Air Force and spent most of his time overseas. My dad was a Marine. I have no issue with the military, and for most of the soldiers, they can’t do anything about their orders, but I don’t support this endless war. But I’m getting off topic.

I was in tenth grade on September 11, 2001, and just before ten in the morning I had to be at history class. Our school was very overcrowded so my class was in a trailer near the bus loop. My previous class was right inside, so I was always one of the first people to arrive. When I opened the door Mr. Harrison had the TV on. I thought we were watching some war film, because I saw the buildings and the smoke.

“What’s this?” I asked.

He didn’t stop looking at the TV. “It’s the news. Someone’s flown a plane into the World Trade Center.”

I couldn’t speak. I was born and raised in Upstate New York until I was thirteen years old. I’d been to New York City several times, and remembered the buildings. I sank into my seat. I could not picture, I could not fathom a plane flying into the buildings. The rest of the class filed in, and we all watched, dumbfounded, as the South Tower collapsed on itself and crumbled away.

We were numb. We didn’t talk. Normally when we watched a movie in class the kids took advantage of the teacher’s distraction and talked to each other, or passed notes. I liked history, but even I wasn’t above writing my book during class if it was a slow day.

But we couldn’t. We just watched the news, the endless loop the stations were playing of the planes flying into the buildings, the buildings crashing, the news about the pentagon. I wasn’t thinking about the irony of seeing something like this in history class. I wasn’t thinking that I was literally living through a momentous moment in history. I wasn’t thinking about the eventual backlash the Muslim community would receive when the news broke that it was al-Qaeda terrorists. We just watched and waited, holding our breath to see what would happen next.

For people who were born after this time, who grew up hearing references about 9/11, I can’t express to you the feeling of utter loss, of innocence gone. We were soft and assured in our Americanness that wars happened, but they didn’t happen here. There was strife and poverty, and guns blazing in the streets, but that all happened far away from here. This was America after all.

By next period, the school had instructed teachers to turn off their TVs, but that didn’t stop the kids from panicking and worrying. This was before four year olds had cellphones, so it wasn’t like we were all calling or texting our parents to find out what was up. To make matters worse, Delta had a major hub in Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, and a good chunk of students had family members working for the airlines. Kids were frantically trying to figure out if loved ones were affected or hurt by the airline breech, let alone kids with families in New York City.

This was two years after Columbine, so the school went right to lock down. We sat and waited, while teachers vainly attempted to resume classes, as if anyone would be able to pay attention that day. We went home, and assessed the damage. Living in Georgia, most of our tragedies was the shared tragedy of the nation. Little by little, the stories came out, about the heroics on the airplanes, about people who were supposed to be in the World Trade Center but weren’t or vice versa. We started tallying up all that we had lost.

We’re still counting that cost.

Every year there’s an outpouring of remembering, and it’s more than I can handle. It’s just too much, the grief is tangling up with my frustration over how events are still playing out, the war that keeps going, the people that keep dying, using such a horrible thing as justification to increase the invasion of our privacy. It seems like there’s no way to just express grief over a tragedy without it turning into a nightmare political debate about the ends justifying the means.

So today I choose the honor the dead, and the people who’ve suffered under the banner of “freedom”, but away from Facebook and other avenues where nuance is a lost cause.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Slinger Saga by Matt Wallace Review

The SLINGERS SAGA by Matt Wallace is a story set in the distant future about gladiators who battle to the death over a live wormhole for the amusement of the world, and uncover a dark conspiracy behind the scenes of the arena.

For those of you pressed for time, and want to get to the point of this review, here it is: SLINGERS by Matt Wallace is one of the best additions to science fiction in the history of the genre. It will rock not only your socks, but also your face, completely off. Go read the first chapter for free, and then buy it off of Matt Wallace’s website directly, or here’s the link to Amazon.

For those of you with more time on your hands, here’s the rest of the review:

I am notoriously picky when it comes to science fiction. I enjoy a great many of it’s sub-genres (hello, post apocalypse and cyberpunk, you’re looking well this evening), but most hard science fiction does nothing for me as a reader. I like to think about society and people and other Deep Thoughts, but most hard science fiction misses the mark in favor of complex scientific jargon at the expense of plot and characters. I enjoy reading about wormholes and spaceships as much as the next person, but that’s not the only reason why I read science fiction.

So I’m picky. I love science fiction, but prefer a blend of character drama and oh cool science stuff, like the early seasons of Battlestar Galactica and Babylon Five.

I found Matt Wallace through Chuck Wendig’s blog at terribleminds (which is hilarious and awesome if you’ve never stumbled across him before). He linked to one of Matt’s posts, and I started to follow him on Twitter because he says funny/clever things. When he tweeted about his new book series, I checked it out and put it on my wish list. Again, it’s science fiction and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. A week later he gave away the first episode for free, and I snatched it up, figuring this was a no-lose situation. I read it a few days later, and I was immediately hooked.

Since reading the first installment, I have jonesed for the latest installment like a crack addict joneses for…well, crack. I’ve gone as far as gently (hopefully) pestering Matt Wallace on Twitter to see when the next episode would be released.

I don’t usually get this excited over a book. I like a lot of books, but there’s very few that I absolutely love, especially the older I get. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was very young; one year in middle school I read the entire library starting from A and working my way to Z. That high I get after reading an amazing book comes less frequently, because as a writer, I can’t help but think about what I wish happened differently.

It’s not usually major problems (if I really don’t like the book I’ll stop reading it. I don’t have time to waste on books I’m not enjoying), but minor details. I wish the magic system was better explained; I wish the main character wasn’t such a chauvinistic pig; I wish the action scenes were better explained; I wish the writing was a little better. Nothing major, but after a while these things add up, and the end feeling is like, not love.

I started to read Slingers and the entire world disappeared. For a little while I was in another place, another time, and nothing made me leave that world until it ended. Everything was perfect. The style in which it’s written is perfect. The bardic voice gives you the POV of most of the characters without ever once sacrificing intimacy of character. It’s even played for laughs a few times, and that deft wit is very hard to do. Matt Wallace is a very talented writer on top of being a great storyteller. The story itself is gripping, moving from exhilaration and heartbreak, and each episode feels complete. I love the characters, and I love how Wallace makes you fall in love with them, and then he breaks your heart by letting them mess up or even die. It’s the very best sort of entertainment, where you get to vicariously live inside someone’s head and feel their joy and pain as your own.

I’ve read several novella series trying to prepare for my own, and most of them leave me wanting. It’s like the authors are holding something back because they know there’s going to be another episode coming up, but SLINGERS never left me feeling like it was just filler. At the end of every episode I desperately wanted to read the next one right then and there.

Wallace held a really cool question and answer session that you can read here. Readers got to submit questions and he answered them, picking his favorites for prizes. I submitted some questions, and was shocked and overjoyed when I got the first prize of having my name in the last volume. It’s not every day you get to step inside your fandom, and I’m still walking on clouds at the thought. Given the body count so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the character named after me dies a bloody and glorious death.  

This is where I reveal my selfish motives for reviewing this series. If I tell more people about this series, and they discover a new book they love, more people will buy the books. Then Wallace gets to keep writing SLINGERS books, and I get to keep going back to the deadway, living moments of glory above a live wormhole in front of a crowd of billions.

So if this series sounds vaguely interesting to you, go read the first chapter. You can download the first and second episode at an incredible deal for 2 dollars if you download directly from Matt, or you can download the first episode from Amazon for a dollar.

People bandy about the .99 price point saying it’s less than a cup of coffee, and that’s true. But reading takes precious time out of your day; the time I’ve spent reading these books was worth way more than what Matt’s charging for them.


I haven’t gone into depth yet about my particular review policy, but basically, I’m not a book blogger and I’m not going to review books I didn’t like. I’m not out to nit-pick every book I read, since a lot of that stuff is subjective anyway.

I just want to talk about books I really love in hopes that maybe some of you will find a wonderful new book, because there’s no better feeling in the world. So there’s no rating system here, but if there were, I’d give SLINGERS Eleventy Billion Slinger stars.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Website

It's been a long time coming, guys, but I finally have the bare bones of my website up.

I'm not going to stop posting here until I've got it more fleshed out, and for a while I will cross-post to make sure you see the updates. I've got some really exciting interviews lined up, some wonderful news, and book reviews galore. There is so much awesome to come I can hardly stand it. Currently I'm working on getting the email sign up stuff taken care of, but it's been a little more annoying than I suspected. I think I have it all in place, so if you want to sign up for updates and freebies, it's there.

Here's the link:

Bookmark the page, sign up for the email list, do whatever you'd like to stay in touch. The biggest reason why it took me so long to switch was I didn't want to loose you guys, but I need to be able to do things with my website that Blogger won't do. So it's time for a change, but I will still be here, posting and letting you know about all the wonderful stuff to come.