Sunday, June 29, 2014

Full Fusion

I'm a little appalled at myself.

My latest book has been out for three weeks, and I haven't even mentioned it here! (Apologies who have seen all my announcements on social media and stuff. You can stop here. :) )

Full Fusion is my first young adult paranormal adventure, published as NJ Damschroder.

I've always wanted to write YA. I mean, I can attribute my entire career to all the books I devoured when I was a tween and teen and college student (though by then I was mostly reading adult romance). But when I started writing, there was a huge drought in YA fiction. That changed dramatically, and now it's an awesomely healthy part of the industry.

But even when that began to happen, I didn't think I was capable of writing YA. I wasn't a typical teen, and my kids are even less typical. So how could I convey what it's like to be a teenager if I didn't live it properly?

Turns out, all I needed was the right idea.

A scene popped into my head. A couple of little kids wanting to start a water fight. They're hauling gigantic super-soakers, and they hand their "nemesis" a tiny blue water pistol. And that's where Full Fusion starts. Roxie has a great life. Adorable twin sisters, cool parents, a great boyfriend. She's about to graduate and go to a fantastic college. But she feels completely disconnected from any of it.

Why? Well, there had to be a real reason. Like, something concrete and adventurous, because that's what I like to write and read. Not angsty internal stuff. So it turns out that Roxie is supposed to be a fusion of a human body and an angel soul. But something went wrong when she was born, and she got separated. Now she and her best friends have to track down and "save" the light that is her soul before the bad guys use it to destroy two worlds.

Full Fusion has fights and chases and the start of a love triangle. It has beings of light from another dimension (aka angels) and secrets and okay, there's some angst, too. I mean Roxie's felt distant from everything her whole life. Here's her chance to feel normal for the first time. But the stakes are wickedly high, and her choice isn't as easy as it seems. Plus, in the middle of it all, her most important relationships break down, leaving her alone.

The series will have at least three books and we'll learn a lot more about Roxie's original mission, about her friend Lincoln and his own secrets, and about the world she came from and its interaction with our own. Stay tuned!

Here's the official info about the book.

If you want to sign up for the newsletter to learn about future releases, you can do that here. I won't be sending NJ Damschroder info to my regular newsletter, so be sure to sign up for this one if you want to make sure not to miss the new books when they come out.

If social media is your preference, the series has its own FB page.

Eighteen-year-old Roxie Sebastian lives a charmed life, and she knows it. Too bad she can’t feel it. All her life, she’s felt disconnected from the world around her. Everything changes just before graduation, when she’s drawn to an eerie, brilliant light—which narrowly misses her as it blows up her friend Lincoln’s car. Clearly someone’s after Roxie, and finally Lincoln tells her the truth: He and Roxie are angels, beings from another dimension, and that light is her soul, separated from her human body in a traumatic birth.

Once a skeptical Roxie rules out the other possibilities—like Lincoln created this delusion to escape his abusive father—she accepts her gut-deep knowledge of the truth. But someone has been screwing with her light, using it to commit crimes, and their actions are about to cause irreparable damage to two worlds: the one she lives in, and the one she can’t remember.

Aided by her best friend Jordan, her boyfriend Tucker, and Lincoln, Roxie tracks down the criminal and uncovers many more secrets not only of her past, but of the history of their race on Earth. And then Roxie faces a horrible dilemma—the only way she can stop them from ripping apart both worlds is to fuse with her light…which could be tainted by the evil with which it was used.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doing It with Passion

Because a lot of our family time is attending sporting events, I get to hear the National Anthem a lot. Many different versions, many different settings, and many different methods.

Recently, I realized I've started categorizing each rendition I hear.

The most disappointing are the "look at me!" types. The ones who drag it out to twice as long as it should be, showing off all the fancy stuff they can do with their throats. They really seem to be focused on themselves, on being impressive. And on trying to make everyone recognize how oh-so-special they are.

There may be a venue where that's appropriate. The National Anthem probably shouldn't be it, though I do understand that its very nature must make it hard to resist.

Another type is the nervous amateur. They deserve the most applause, IMO. Probably pushed out there by someone or something not completely in their control, singing one of the hardest songs to sing in front of huge, judgy crowds of people. I think that takes incredible bravery, especially when it's kids.

We also have the pros. You know, the military quartets and traveling choirs, the people who sing with quiet confidence, who care as much about the teamwork as the soccer players or football players do.

But then you have my favorites. The people who sing with passion. They don't care about the crowd or how they look or even how they sound. They close their eyes and lose themselves in the music. I think this is why Whitney Houston's rendition is considered by so many to be the best ever. She tells a story with her voice. The song is about the emotions inspired by the events and the symbolism of the song. Yes, she has off-the-charts talent, but how much of it was simply because of her joy in singing?

We should all be doing this. It's not possible, I know, to imbue everything we do with joy and passion. I will never engage in passionate grocery shopping or joyful laundry for example. And it's disingenuous to imply that every job can be approached that way. But I think it's good to concentrate on what something gives us internally, at least while we're creating it, rather than what it can give us externally. Write, sing, dance, play the piano, knit, garden, sculpt, paint, create with passion. It will always make the experience better.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Orphan Black Has Made Me Afraid

I admit to holding on to a bit (or way more) of naivete and blind idealism when it comes to certain issues related to casting in Hollywood. When people roar about Supernatural killing off all the ethnic and female characters, I point out that they kill off EVERYONE. If someone ever survives (Hi, Sarah from "Provenance" in season 1!) and comes back, well, we know it's goodbye. When people were up in arms about having too few females in the first "cast photo," I thought it was unfair to JJ Abrams, who is well known for using strong female characters in his shows. And then we had additional casting announcements that hopefully appeased the impatient angry masses.

I tend to believe there is oversimplification in casting allegations, and I tend to take that angle when I debate such issues because...big confession here...I'm part of the problem. I *love* The Avengers, and I don't care that it's flooded with testosterone. You can't pay me to go see August: Osage County, and I turned off Bridesmaids about 10 minutes in because it made me queasy. I don't want the movies and shows I love to go away, so I try to make the issue more complex.

A couple of days ago a friend and I were chatting about The 100. For those who don't know, that's a CW TV show set in the future, featuring kids sent from a space station down to a post-nuclear Earth to see if it's safe to come back to. I stopped watching after maybe the third episode, when a little girl killed one of my favorite characters. The fact that he happened to be black was irrelevant, but my friend said yeah, she hates that the show seems to kill off all its ethnicity. She also said, in that same conversation, that Orphan Black wasn't getting the credit it was due because it's a female-centric show.

OB does get tons of credit, at least as far as gen-pop buzz goes. Tatiana Maslany, who has played 9 different, very distinct characters, has won her second Critics Choice Award and everyone raves about her skill. But of course by "credit" we mean Top Honors, aka an Emmy. We have a little while before we find out whether she'll be nominated. The show itself probably will never get a nomination, because it's very genre, it's on BBCAmerica, and the competition is fierce. But NO ONE on TV can possibly be giving as good of a performance as Maslany is right now. I argued that the genre and the network were bigger marks against the show than the fact that there are more women at center focus than men.

But a gamechanger occurred in last night's finale. We learned there are male clones, so the guy who has been playing Mark will get a chance to do what Tat does. And now I'm scared. This is a perfect chance for my friend to be proven right. If this guy gets more acclaim than Tat has (which, like I said, would be difficult in terms of buzz) I'll be forced to admit that the level of gender bias in television is disgustingly deep-seated.

So come on, Hollywood. For once prove all the others wrong. Give us a reason to put this topic to bed, at least for a little while!

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Chris Pine Mini Marathon

Last week, I read a blog post about romantic comedies with geeky characters. And one of the suggested films was Blind Dating.

So I got it out of the library. It was adorable. Chris Pine did a very good job pretending to be both blind AND geeky AND insecure, and he's also got a talent for displaying passion. (Not that kind, although sometimes that kind.)

Someone else had mentioned watching Unstoppable on Facebook. That was one that had been on my Netflix list before we ditched Netflix, so I got that from the library too. I liked it! The people on FB thought the beginning was slow, but I didn't. It had good enough cinematography and characterization to keep me interested until the tension started ramping up. Plus, Chris Pine was usually on the screen. I liked the story and the balance of heroism between the two characters (three, if you counted the welder guy).

So then I got Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which had already been on my list because I didn't get to see it in the theater. By now, we've seen Chris Pine as a rugged action hero several times. But in this reboot (I assume it's a reboot because of the 9/11 stuff and moving up young Jack Ryan into the present, but I don't read the books so who the heck knows.) he's an intellectual more than a physical hero. Not completely. I mean, he was a Marine. But in his first foray into the field, he sells his fear and lack of confidence even while he balances it with doing the right thing. I loved the scene on the plane where he's getting all take-charge and showing off his brains.

Kiera Knightly was good, though she distracted me with her American accent. And I kept looking at the Russian bad guy going "He looks just like Kenneth Brannagh, but he can't be Kenneth Brannagh." Guess what? He's Kenneth Brannagh!

So what's next? I own these two:

I might just watch them again. And...I confess. I just added This Means War to my library requests. I've seen it, and it's kind of icky in places, and some of it isn't well written, but... I'm on a Chris Pine kick! It's low level, not nearly to the heights that my Brendan Fraser obsession went. (Ooh, maybe I should start that again...) But it's still buzzing. :)

What's your favorite Chris Pine movie? Do you get on these actor kicks like I do?

Monday, June 02, 2014

Weird Discoveries at the Soccer Match

I made two discoveries at the soccer game on Saturday, neither of which had anything to do with soccer.

Number One had worn her new Cleveland Browns ballcap to the game. A guy sitting near us spotted it and, as people are always surprised to find Browns fans in the heart of Steeler country, he commented on it. He grew up in Akron, and played high school football on the same field (at Baldwin Wallace University) as my husband did. They reminisced about the old region for a while, and then the guy mentions OWU. Turns out he went to Ohio Wesleyan University, same as we did! Albeit a decade after I graduated.

It's amazing how amazed we continually are by these small-world coincidences, common though they are. It's like the summer we went to Tennessee for vacation and the people in the cabin next door live two blocks from us back home. Weird!

So Number One is talking about the bruising on the webbing of her thumb from using the mop at work so much, and I comment that the pad on my right hand right below my index finger only ever hurts when I'm driving. Like, EVER. But I just kind of figured it was tenderness from the steering wheel. I grip the wheel gingerly and otherwise don't think about it.

But talking about it had me probing the area, and holy cow! I found a cyst in my hand! That's the most padded part of my hand so I hadn't ever probed that hard. It wasn't otherwise detectable. It's right over the lowest joint so I'm pretty sure it's a ganglion cyst. I had one in my wrist when I was a teenager. It went away by itself, so it's no big deal, just one of those "huh" things.

Except probing it was apparently really stupid, because today it's huge and every time I used my hand for support (like to get up at my desk or something), it hurt. And I can feel it just brushing my thumb over the area, no probing necessary. Idiot.

So what weird discovery have YOU made lately?