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Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

It’s my turn in the spotlight! I hope you’ll drop by, read my interview, and comment so Teri knows her hard work is being noticed.

Here’s the link to Bad Moon Rising.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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We’re talking about She-Hulk, the Marvel Comics heroine whose show is streaming on Disney+. There’s been a lot of fan reaction, but I thought I’d add my own thoughts. To avoid spoilers, I won’t be addressing individual episodes so much as themes I’m picking up on.

One of the first fan reactions I heard was the usual tiresome shouting from angry men who can’t stand it when any female character gets a featured role. They said Jennifer was disloyal to Bruce and she disrespected his experience as the Hulk. I have to say, that was not my read on it at all. I felt that the first episode really deepened Bruce’s character. Instead of the miserable wanderer, we see him having a warm family relationship with his younger cousin. Jennifer is like Bruce’s kid sister. They are competitive in a healthy way. I can also imagine them sharing a bond as both being remarkably intelligent. Bruce the physicist and Jennifer the lawyer must have been the odd ones out among their more ordinary families.

Yes, Bruce gave the best advice he could, and no, Jennifer didn’t take it. Wanting to make your own decisions about your life doesn’t seem all that disrespectful to me.

Related to Bruce’s well-meaning advice, there’s a recurring theme of people telling Jennifer who she should be. She loses her job for revealing herself as She-Hulk. She gets a new job and shows up as Jennifer, only to be told she has to appear as She-Hulk when she’s at work. Later she goes to a friend’s wedding as She-Hulk and the friend tells her to be Jennifer again. But when she’s trying to get dates, nobody is interested in Jennifer, they only want to date She-Hulk.

There are a number of other pointed comments about women’s achievements being undercut in the workplace, but for me this is the most trenchant point in the episodes so far. No matter what Jennifer does, someone will pop up and tell her that she should be someone else.

If I have one dissatisfaction with the show, it’s the amount of drunkenness that gets played for laughs. There’s substance abuse in my family, and this touches a nerve. I just can’t laugh at people whose lives are that out of control. Like Jennifer’s identity constantly being challenged, this is something I hope will be fully addressed as the show plays out.

Is it a good show? Yes. Most women will find things that resonate from our own experiences. Most men will learn something (especially if they aren’t screaming while they watch).


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As long as I’m commenting on comic book TV, I might as well talk about She-Hulk. Since buying Marvel, Disney has been steadily adding characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and She-Hulk is just the latest.

She-Hulk is another character I remember from reading many of her original issues. Her first series was in the early ’80s and it was very… meh. In this era, Hulk had regressed to a very simple-minded, violent being whose clothes were always torn and his hair was a mess. The tone of his series was heavy and dramatic. In her initial appearances, She-Hulk was very derivative. Her clothes were torn, her hair was a mess, she could hardly talk, and the tone was heavy.

This series was not successful, and it only lasted a few issues. The thought among fans at the time was that Marvel wasn’t really invested in this character, so much as wanting to prevent any other companies from creating a “female Hulk.” For this purpose, a few “meh” issues were sufficient to establish the copyright.

Other creative teams picked up the character over the next years, but what really saved the character was the author/artist John Byrne. Byrne was a major talent, and Marvel would let him do anything if he stayed with their company. One of the things Byrne did was revamp She-Hulk.

Basically, he flipped everything. Hulk still couldn’t speak a sentence of more than three words. She-Hulk was articulate and attempted to maintain her legal career. Hulk’s clothes and hair were a mess. She-Hulk was sleek and glamorous. His series was even more angsty than before. Hers was funny, light and confident. In keeping with lots of TV at the time, She-Hulk broke the “third wall” and seemed aware of being a comic book character.

Byrne’s approach worked, and She-Hulk became a huge success. She joined the Fantastic Four and the Avengers (not at the same time, though). Even when her own series ended, she remained an enduring fan favorite. It’s a smart move for Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe to bring her in. It’s even smarter to follow Byrne’s comedic approach, which is what the fans embraced.

That’s the history. Next time, I’ll talk about the series episodes and fan reaction. But first, if anyone has been watching (I know, there are so many streaming services that you have to choose which you get) I’d love to hear what you think of the show.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The Sandman series, on Netflix, has been getting a lot of buzz recently. I’m here to tell you, the buzz is deserved.

I remember my husband picking up the Sandman title back in the ’90s, when DC Comics revived one of its oldest characters, the Sandman. Originally a pulp action hero from 1939, the Sandman used a gun that fired sleep gas, and wore a gas mask to avoid breathing the gas himself. The character had surprising longevity, making the transition from pulp to superhero and even helping found the Justice League, but by the ’90s he had been dormant for a long time.

DC aimed to change that, and the editors enlisted a young and hungry British writer named Neil Gaiman to do it. Gaiman’s approach was to blend the trappings of superhero with the supernatural trappings of pulp fiction, and spice it with the scandal and suspense of the old EC horror titles. The result was a strange and striking invention.

Sandman has often been referred to as a horror title, and it’s true the subject matter sometimes gets very dark. I think, though, that the title fits better as urban fantasy, which was becoming increasingly important in the ’90s. The main character, Dream, has been held prisoner by a cult for 100 years, and has to reclaim his place while re-learning a world that has changed during his absence. Gaiman created a whole cosmology of the Endless, beings who represent core human needs and traits. The Endless intersect with lots of other supernatural realms like Hell and with the standard DC Comics universe. Even in the earliest issues, you can see the great fantasist Gaiman would become and how he would change the landscape for both comics and the YA genre.

Is this a good adaptation of the comic? I think so, and not just because Gaiman has been personally involved. The characters and plots seem much the same to me. What’s been updated most is the inclusion of more diverse characters in the casting. The original comics were basically all white. That no longer works for contemporary audiences, and I was glad to see that some important roles were filled with actors of color.

I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers, but if you’ve been wondering whether Sandman is really as good as all that… Yes. You should watch it.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you must have heard that Queen Elizabeth of England has passed away. I find myself puzzled, as always, by how interested people are over here in the United States. This is something I noticed when I was finishing up college, and there was such a furor over the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. The media was obsessed with their royal marriage, and I felt… disinterested. I mean, I am not British or Canadian, so why does this matter to me?

So now here we go again. Wall-to-wall coverage of Elizabeth’s passing, the ascension of Prince Charles to King Charles, tributes from around the world, and much dramatic speculation about whether Prince Harry will be clawed back into the family so the new king can put himself out there as a “unifier.” (And also a few, mostly overlooked, voices commenting about finally ending colonialism.)

I really don’t know what to think about Americans, with a well established democracy, being so drawn to a non-democratic institution like the British monarchy. However, monarchies are well entrenched in the fantasy genre, so this is something I will be pondering about in coming posts.

First, though, I’m interested in what you think. Why are people so fascinated by royalty?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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For several years now, I’ve been participating in Fall Folk Festival. This is an annual celebration of international music, dance and arts by the diverse community around Spokane. For my part, of course, I read from my children’s fiction (the Lucy D. Ford byline) and try to sell a few books through the festival store.

After a two-year hiatus, Fall Folk Festival is back — and they’re bumping up my part of it. The local public radio station does a live broadcast during the event, and this year I’m invited to read from my work on the air.

Am I excited? Naw, it’s all casual… Oh, who am I kidding? I’m super excited and can’t want to iron out all the details. Most of you who read this blog are too far distant to attend in person. However, the station will probably have a streaming setup, so you will be able to hear me read if you so choose.

Watch this space for more details!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Among other things on my recent trip for elder care, I had a chance to fact-check with my dad about Aunt Joyce’s poem. So here’s an update!

Gypsy, the horse in the poem, was definitely a real horse. Its full name was Gypsy Royale. Aunt Joyce received Gypsy as a graduation gift after completing 8th grade. She spent a lot of time with Gypsy, just as the poem describes.

I was wrong about the dates, though. Dad was born in 1928, and Joyce a year later, so her poem probably was written in the later ’40s.

These bits of family lore are such a treasure, even if only for the immediate kin.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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When I wrote my book list for Shepherd, it made me so nostalgic that I went down to my library and snagged the paperbacks off the shelf. I’ve since been re-reading them. Well, how do these fantasy classics hold up? I’ll comment in order of their publication.

Witch World, by Andre Norton (1963) is an old-school SF epic. By today’s standards, the prose is a bit stiff. This causes the fighting and other derring-do, and the budding romances, to feel somewhat muffled. However, the basic struggle against gender roles and other prejudice still rings true.

Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey (1968), introduces her famous world of Pern, where humans and dragons share a psychic bond of “impression.” That includes the dragons’ mating, which also draws their riders into sexual activity that is right at the edge of consent. This might be problematic for contemporary readers. McCaffrey’s work frequently got frisky by the standards of the era. If she was writing today, I think she’d fit right in with urban fantasy, where there’s a lot of sex and some of it is quite kinky.

The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin (1971). Without reservation, this book holds up to any current fantasy. The language is poetic, yet sparse and direct. There’s a sense of history and grandeur in the desolate landscape around the tombs. Yet LeGuin also draws a sympathetic portrait of a young woman stumbling forward as she tries to escape magical and emotional bonds. Arha and Ged both save each other from the powers of darkness. In this reading, it seemed to me she was infatuated with Ged, who kindly did not take advantage of her vulnerable state.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip (1974), is one of my all-time favorites and also holds up almost 40 years later. Who wouldn’t love to have a menagerie of legendary beasts? McKillip’s prose is also poetic, but more flowery and emotional than LeGuin’s. You can almost miss the family drama, tormented love, and political intrigue. Sybel becomes intent on revenge and backs one side in a war, but in the end her magical animals prevent the violence that all the humans seem to crave. That’s something I’ve come to value in my own written work.

The last book in my list is Barbara Hambly’s Ladies of Mandrigyn (1984). I haven’t re-read that one yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Perhaps that will come up in a future post.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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My husband came back from a horror movie he had been looking forward to. When I asked how it was, the first thing he said was that people kept doing stupid things. It made me wonder why some authors (not only in horror) seem to develop their plot so that it depends on characters being stupid.

Okay, sure, not every character will be quick thinking or a good judge of others’ motives. We want characters to be fallible so there’s real suspense about whether they’ll get out of whatever the situation is. In fiction, there’s also a theory that things need to get worse before they get better. Having the characters do dumb stuff can be one way to worsen a situation.

However, the audience for a book or movie probably IS smart and a good judge of people’s motives. Like my husband, they can be irritated when characters act too silly or get careless in dangerous situations. Raising the stakes this way can feel forced or manipulative.

I guess it’s something that creators have to balance as we plan our projects. How many dumb mistakes are too many for the credibility of the story?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Every writer needs to do publicity, and today I’m exploring a new publicity option. Book Shepherd helps authors conect with potential readers and helps readers discover new books.

Their mechanism is through reading lists. Just as on Goodreads, Amazon, etc., authors create a reading list based on a theme. Ideally, of course, the book list relates to our own work. Authors also show off a single book of theirs to readers who choose their list.

My list is going live today! The theme is 20th Century Fantasy that Centers Powerful Women. Go ahead and take a look if that sounds interesting. If you enjoy my list, you could even share it around. I promise I wouldn’t mind!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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