Heroines of Fantasy: Miss November

November has arrived! I hope everyone had a fun Halloween. This month’s fantasy feature is a spooky follow-up to the holiday, and I chose her because I’ve been watching Ghost Whisperer lately. 😀

Image credit: CBS Television Studios

Melinda Gordon

Melinda (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) has been able to see ghosts since she was a child. It’s a gift passed down in her family, and her grandmother taught her how to use it to help earthbound spirits resolve issues so they can cross over into the light. One thing I loved about the first season is Melinda doesn’t start off having to keep her gift a secret. She’s recently married to Jim Clancy, who knows all about her gift and supports her desire to help ghosts, though he sometimes wishes she didn’t have it because some spirits try to hurt her. Melinda’s best friend, Andrea, also knows about her gift and thinks it’s pretty cool.

Melinda is kind-hearted and really feels for the dead. Even at the risk of being laughed at or called a freak, she tries to bring peace to the ghosts’ loved ones. It’s not always easy, and sometimes those earthbound spirits in their confused state cause some scary shit. But with her husband and best friend by her side, she can face anything…even when dark spirits start to take an unhealthy interest in her soul…

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Anyone fans of Ghost Whisperer? I don’t normally like scary stuff, and a few episodes creeped me out, but more often the stories brought tears to my eyes. It’s a very moving series I’d recommend checking out.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss September

This month we’re paying tribute to an ordinary woman playing in an extraordinary league: Agent Natasha Romanoff from The Avengers movie.

Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Also known as Black Widow, Natasha is an ex-Russian spy/assassin, now working as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. Unlike the superheroes on the Avengers team, Natasha doesn’t have any super powers. Just moxie, kick-ass fight moves, and guns. She goes head-to-head with Loki in a mind game and wins, not to mention she beats up her fair share of invading Chitauri aliens.

While she appears tough and aloof on the surface, Natasha has a softer, vulnerable side around Hawkeye. She tells Loki at one point that Hawkeye saved her from being killed and gave her a chance at redemption. Now she fights with the good guys, even if they are a motley team of superheroes.

Scarlett Johansson is scheduled to resume her role as Black Widow in the second Captain America movie (2014) and the second Avengers film (2015). I, for one, can’t wait!

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I also have exciting news: Earth Tones is a Finalist in the 2013 Best Indie Book Awards! I am so honored that the book made it into the Top 5 for Fantasy. From here the judges will take the month of September to determine the winner, but I feel like one already. Here’s to a great, kick-ass month! *clink*

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss July

Wow, June went by fast and it’s time for our next Heroine of Fantasy in this 12-month series here on the blog. It’s also time we pay another tribute to a pop culture icon: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

buffy season 1Buffy Summers

Played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy Summers is one of the top kick-ass chicks of all time. In each generation there is a chosen one, a girl destined with the supernatural strength to slay vampires. Buffy, however, would prefer to be a normal teenager. After getting kicked out of her last high school for burning down the gym (it was vampires, I tell you!), she moves to Sunnydale to begin a new life. Unfortunately, her new high school is even worse than the last, as it sits on top of a Hellmouth.

Buffy tries her best to do normal things–try out for the cheerleading squad, make new friends, go clubbing. Alas, evil lurks around every corner. Her job description says she’s to slay vampires, but plenty of other nightly nasties come out of the woodwork for Buffy to deal with. And while she’s the one with superhuman strength and training, she’s also got some best buds, Xander and Willow, intent on helping her out.

Not only that, but she meets the dark, handsome, and mysteriously brooding Angel. Vampires aren’t supposed to have souls, but he does, and falling in love with the undead is a seriously bad idea. (Like, really bad when you get to Season Two.)

i stake youBuffy tries her best to balance school, friends, potential boyfriend of the night, and slaying evil. It’s not an easy gig. But she does it with some wicked fight moves and a lot of heart. And now I’m in the mood to rent the series…

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Dreamwalkers, Debuts, and Detours

dream assassin 1000x1600Wow, June is half over. Which means we’re that much closer to 2013 being half over. This week we’re between the Supernatural Sleuth entries, so I thought I’d take this time to talk a bit about what I’m currently working on. Some of you may have noticed Dream Assassin is now on Amazon (woot). I started that just wanting to write a short story for Dirk fans, but then it became a novella. Oops. Still, the final product was a pleasant surprise, one I hope you all will enjoy.

Behind the scenes, I’m working on the next Dreamwalker novel with Lexa, have been since February. That was another unplanned project—honestly, I fully intended to get back to the Elemental Magic series! But I AW-Dreamwalker-432x648was watching Season 3 of The Voice and Amanda Brown’s rendition of “Stars” blew the top off my muse and it hasn’t simmered down since.

The third book in the Dreamwalker series was to complete the trilogy. But then something else unexpected happened (shouldn’t there be a limit to how many surprises per book?)—the story kept getting longer and longer…and now it’s two books. Yay, right? But boy do I have my work cut out for me.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900I can’t give too much away, but I will say it takes place five years after Dreamstealer. I know, a bit of a time jump, but a big part of the story is Taryn (now 18) growing into her own dreamwalker warrior. Some signature elements of the series have also found their way in—Lexa will have another dress fiasco. And the great thing about the dreamscape is it’s always evolving…and so are the Nightmares. <insert manic giggle>

No, really, I’m very excited. I can’t give an estimate on a publishing date, as I promised my editor I wouldn’t give her a coronary by doing so, plus she hasn’t even seen it yet. In the meantime, you can snuggle up with our favorite rogue assassin, and catch up on the series if you need to. And Elemental Magic 4 is next in line on the queue! As long as inspiration doesn’t strike me like lightning and refuse to let go.

Speaking of which, here’s that song I mentioned. If you’re a fan of Elemental Magic, this is what you can blame for having to wait a little longer for the next book. 😉

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss June

Welcome to our sixth installment of this series where I feature kick-ass heroines from the fantasy genre. This month I have a slightly different type of heroine for you. Meet Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. (For the sake of this post, I’ll be referring to the movie, as the movie and book take completely different plot turns.)

sophieSophie

Sophie is a hat maker. She’s 18, but has taken over her father’s shop so her younger sister can be free to do what she wants. Sophie is responsible, hard working, and plucky when she has a mind to be. She also has very low self-esteem. In fact, she thinks she’s so ugly, that not even the dreaded wizard Howl would deign to eat her heart.

At this point you might be exchanging wary glances with each other. Sophie is our heroine? This mouse of a girl who lives a boring life while her sister goes out and has all the fun? Well now, the story gets better. Or worse, for Sophie.

Grandma SophieThe wicked Witch of the Waste comes to visit Sophie’s shop, and in a rare moment of Sophie showing some of that pluck, she shows the sleazy witch the door. Oops, don’t piss off a mean old witch. Sophie is then cursed and transformed into an old woman. Horrified, she quickly leaves town and heads into the wild. It’s a slow journey, as her bones creak and she gets tired easily.

You’re still wondering why I picked her as our monthly heroine? Okay, here’s the deal. Sophie may not be a vampire or demon slaying chick who wields swords or guns, but she’s got brains. She finds the wizard Howl’s castle and makes a pact with the fire demon inside to help break each other’s curses. And when Howl shows up wanting to know who she is, she claims she’s the new cleaning lady.

Even in an old woman’s body, Sophie still battles traps by the Witch of the Waste, evil sorcerers, and encroaching war. But here’s what I think truly makes her a heroine worthy of our feature—sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome is ourselves. Sophie may not think she has much to offer the world or anyone, but in the end, she doesn’t need to be saved by a dashing hero. She can save herself. And him. 😉

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss May

May is such a sweet sounding month, but I do not have a sweet heroine for you today. For this month’s Heroine of Fantasy feature, we’re heading back into the book world to meet Jeaniene Frost’s Cat of the Night Huntress series.

 Cat Crawfield

Due to her mother being raped by a vampire and getting pregnant, Cat is both half-human and half-vampire, which gives her the unique strength to combat these evil undead creatures. Every night she goes out hunting, hoping to find her father and kill him so maybe her mother can stop living in fear.

One night, she tries to lure and kill Bones, a vampiric bounty hunter that’s on to her. He imprisons her in a cave for days until he convinces her that the two of them would make a pretty good team. Of course, romance isn’t far off.

Cat is very young in the first book, so it’s no surprise that she can be immature. Throughout the series she does grow up some. She serves on a secret military team hunting vampires for a while, and delves deeper into the vampire world with Bones (I’m not going to go into detail and give anything away, but it’s a wild ride). Cat is stubborn, tough, and not afraid to take risks—she’s basically been using herself as vampire bait since she was sixteen.

She also has a hot temper, as does her lover, Bones, which makes for some very fiery spats—and fiery make-up sessions. Caution to those who may not like the racy so much: Frost is very graphic in her descriptions. But if you’re comfortable skipping over the sex scenes, the rest of the story is a lot of fun and very imaginative.

Cat is a badass girl we can all admire. Be it monstrous vampires, ghouls, or ghosts, she’ll take them all on. She is, after all, half dead herself.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss April

Well, based on interest from last month’s installment of this series, and that April is the fourth month of the year, I’m going to go ahead and give the fourth Charmed sister her own feature. Here she is.

Paige MatthewsPaige Matthews

We’re introduced to Paige in Season Four of Charmed. The Power of Three had been broken at the end of Season Three (not saying how), and, naturally, the only way to fix it was to discover a half-sister the Halliwell’s had never known about. Paige is the daughter of mother witch Patty and her whitelighter, Sam (tragic love story that coincidentally mirrors Piper’s own situation…). Paige was given up for adoption because if the Powers That Be ever found out a witch and whitelighter had gotten together, there would be trouble. Unfortunately, Paige’s adoptive parents were killed in a car accident when she was in high school, in which she miraculously survived.

When we meet Paige, she’s working at Social Services as an assistant, though she’s trying to climb the ranks to actual social worker. She has no idea she has magical powers until she meets her half-sisters. Because Paige is a whitelighter, her magic manifests itself a little differently. She can “orb,” which is basically a glowing lights version of “Beam me up, Scotty.” And when she tries to telepathically move things, they end up orbing too.

Paige Orbing

“I’ll take that crossbow.”

Paige is the youngest sister, and since she grew up an only child, she struggles to fit into the family dynamic the other Charmed Ones are used to having. Paige is independent and stubborn, and it takes her a while to learn to work as a team with her new sisters. She also struggles to find her own identity outside of running to the beck and call of her family and fighting demons. She tries many things in order to find her place in the world, including being a full-time witch (during which time a potion explosion turns her hair carrot orange red for a season), various temp jobs, and even teaching at magic school.

Like Phoebe, Paige loves being a witch, but it still sometimes gets in the way of romantic relationships. She even falls in love with a male witch at one point who has an unhealthy addiction to magic. Trying to keep her beau from casting spells while she’s running around doing it all day isn’t the best for a healthy relationship…

So with her, the Power of Three lives on and these kick-ass witches continue to fight evil, find love, and look good doing it.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss March

Welcome to our third installment of a year-long blog series where we feature a heroine of fantasy each month. I’m going to give your TBR lists a break and instead introduce you to a television icon in urban fantasy. And since it’s the third month in the year 2013, we’re getting a magical three in one: The Charmed Ones!

Hear now the words of the witches, the secrets we hid in the night, the oldest of Gods are invoked here, the great work of magic is sought. In this night and in this hour, I’ll call upon the ancient power, bring your powers to we sisters three, we want the power, give us the power.

Three sisters born to a witch’s line would become the most powerful force for good in the world: The Charmed Ones. Six months after their Grams’s passing, Phoebe moves home to live with sisters Prue and Piper. She discovers an old Book of Shadows in the attic and recites a spell that unbinds their powers.

 Prue is the eldest. She practically raised her sisters after their mother died and is very responsible, which sometimes leads her to clash with the youngest Halliwell sister, Phoebe, who lives more like a free-spirit. Prue has the power to move objects with her mind. It’s considered the most active power, laying even more responsibility on her shoulders, and leading to guilt when her “superior power” fails to save someone she loves. Prue struggles to keep her identity a secret, especially when it comes to fighting demons and keeping her 9-5 job at a high-end auction house. Eventually, she learns to invest in herself a little more, and quits to pursue her dream of being a photographer.

 Piper is the middle child, always mediating between Prue and Phoebe. She works at a restaurant where she lets her boss walk all over her, yet she endures it because her dream is to become a chef. She has the power to freeze time. Her power starts small, only lasting a minute or so, but eventually grows powerful enough to freeze an entire room, and later she can go the opposite: speed molecules up so fast they explode. Piper just wants a normal life without vanquishing demons and ruining expensive pairs of boots. She also wants to fall in love and get married, but she doesn’t have the best luck with men—one was a demon who tried to kill her, another guy was a ghost, and then she fell in love with her white lighter (a witch’s guardian angel), which was a big no-no.

 Phoebe is the youngest and “without vision” for her life, so Prue would say. Ironically, Phoebe’s power is premonition. It’s not a very active power, which she laments in comparison to her sisters, because unlike them, Phoebe likes being a witch. It gives her a purpose and an identity she’d been lacking in her life. Phoebe is a gung ho heroine, eager to kick some demon ass, and she even learns martial arts to make up for her lack of offensive magic.

Together, the three sisters face the challenges of fighting evil, finding love, and pursuing their dreams, all through the bond of sisterhood. If you haven’t watched this series, run to your Netflix or Hulu stream. (For those of you who are fans, yes, there is a “fourth” sister, but we’re not going to get to her today.)

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss February

This is the second post for our brand new series on this blog called Heroines of Fantasy. Every month we’ll feature a strong, kick-ass heroine from books, movies, or television series. Today we’re tipping our hat to YA book lovers with Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series.

Rose Hathaway

Seventeen-year-old Rose Hathaway is a dhampir—half human, half vampire. Dhampirs/Guardians have one purpose: protect Moroi (good, mortal vampires) from Strigoi (very evil, immortal vampires). Her best friend, Lissa, is a Moroi princess, and the two share a unique psychic bond that allows Rose to mentally eavesdrop on Lissa’s thoughts, feelings, and whereabouts. That would make Rose an excellent guardian for Lissa–if only the dhampir would stop breaking the rules. Even though she’s a student, she can’t help falling for her guardian combat mentor, Dimitri. (And let’s face it, who can blame her? He’s tall, roguishly handsome, a skilled fighter, and has a sexy Russian accent.)

Rose has a bit of a temper, especially when it comes to protecting her best friend. Don’t insult Lissa, or you will likely end up with a broken nose. Try to kill her, get a stake through the heart. Rose is sarcastic and quick-thinking (my kind of girl). With super human strength and speed, she is one bad-ass chick.

Rose isn’t just tough physically. Because of her psychic connection to Lissa, Rose absorbs the dark side effects of Lissa’s Spirit gift. They call it “shadow-kissed.” Rose’s soul walks a fine line between life and death, but her love for her friends keeps her going. And she’ll do anything for them, including cross an ocean when her beloved Dimitri is taken by Strigoi. She has no respect for orders or rules when they go against her instinct to protect those she cares about. But in a life or death fight with undead, blood sucking monsters, or a cat fight in the halls of high school, there’s no one better to have on your side.

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