AnomalyCon 2015

This past weekend I was at a booth with my good friend Stevie (she steams art online at Twitch) selling her fantastic prints and commissions of AnomalyCon goers!

AnomalyCon is a steampunk (ohemgee, amirite?) and sci-fi convention, so, of course, we fit right in.

If you’re here because you got one of my business cards, HELLO.

Here are a few updates about my upcoming novel, Star-Crossed:

  • It’s set to be self-published this May or June
  • It will be available in print and in e-book format
  • It is about STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES
  • It’s pretty hilarious. I’m not bragging here. It’s totally made people shoot water out of their nostrils

KEEP ON CHECKING HERE FOR UPDATES AND PURCHASING INFO.

I love all of you.

Love,

Emkay

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Six

6.) Hawkeye (Marvel) 2012 – present — by Matt Fraction and David Aja with a few guest artists here and there. 

Now, I’m not going to let my infatuation with Jeremy Renner and his guest appearance in the episode “Somnambulist” of Angel and subsequent Hurt Locker and Avengers awesomness affect my disposition here…BUT I TOTALLY AM.

Like many people, I didn’t give the character Hawkeye much thought until he was played by the extremely charismatic Jeremy Renner in one of my favorite movies, which is probably why I picked up Hawekeye: My Life as a Weapon when I saw it at the comic store.

Boy, howdy, is this a fantastic comic. It’s part of the Marvel Now! series (sort of like the new 52 a la DC, but instead of revamping everyone’s plot, it’s more of just a modern take on some classic heroes with new artists and some reconning and what have you.) It follows the everyday life of Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, and his partner/sidekick/non-‘love’ interest Kate Bishop aka Hawkeye and Pizza Dog when Clint is not part of the Avengers and is just hanging out, fighin’ hurricanes, rescuing his neighbors and getting in trouble with the local Russian mob.

Hawkeye is at his normal-dude best as he struggles with his new-found popularity as an Avenger, like needing Tony’s Stark’s help to set up his DVD player. He’s not too bright, not too strong, is a dead-shot for archery sure, but is a highly relatable normal guy who wants to do the right thing, but sometimes does wrong and that’s okay too.

The artwork is probably one of my favorites, next to Mignola’s Hellboy. The color scheme is muted, very 60s mod (as are the fashions and feel of the entire series), and so minimalist, it’s amazing that such emotion can be conveyed through just a simple small frame of Barton’s unimpressed face.

The comic is self-aware, in that Barton is narrating and, instead of having someone speak Spanish in a speech bubble, it says, “Something Spanish?” Or, my favorite: when a naked Clint Barton (the stories always start with him saying how he didn’t mean to get himself into a bad situation, it just happens) flies out of a bed, it’s censored by the old-timey Hawkeye face that they would put on the front of the comics to let you know who was in them. This sort of brilliance and post-modernism is a rare treat in a medium that sometimes doesn’t realize its own ridiculousness. It’s refreshing to have a comic that understands what is it and what it isn’t. No, this isn’t highfalutin modern art, but that’s not what it’s trying to be. (But I would still pay money to see some of those panels in a museum, that’s how much I’m in love with this art.)

It’s alternatingly hilarious and heart-breaking. Very rarely does a comic have so much character building with so few words or panels, but did I ever get attached to Hawkeye’s neighbor “Grills.” Or, even, his dog, who has an entire issue from his perspective. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME A COMIC ALLOWED ITSELF TO BE NARRATED BY A DOG? And still have a dang good issue, in spite of (or perhaps because of) that?

Simply put: Hawkeye is masterful at storytelling in its many altering perspectives and is a great comic for those who know and love the archer well, and for those looking to break into comics.

Of course, there’s backstory between Barton and Bishop, but it isn’t necessary to have read any Hawkeye comics before this, since most of the past can be understood through their current interactions. And there aren’t any other Avengers, not really, though cameos do pop up (like Spider-man and Wolverine), and that could distance some, but this comic isn’t called Avengers, it’s called Hawkeye.

Inspiration a la Late Night Conversations

People ask me a lot where I get my characters from and if they can be in one of my novels. Yes, I suppose that the best authors are those who are the best observers, and that most novels carry twinges of the real. Not to condescend, but the saying goes that the best lies are based on the truth and what else is a novel but a big lie written down?

Truth is, the strongest characters I’ve written aren’t necessarily based on any one person, or even a conglomeration of my father with a bit of ex-boyfriend #6, but rather are juxtapositions of the many, many people I’ve encountered. Or, even other fictional characters. I’ll take bits and pieces of those around me and run with it. Byron is a mix of The Joker from The Dark Knight, the actual Lord Byron, ex-boyfriend #3, Lermontov’s Pechorin (from the magnificent A Hero of Our Time), and even a bit of Harry Potter.

Sidetrack paragraph: There’s an excellent article linking Quentin Tarantino ‘s films to Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin that conveys this sentiment exactly. And Bakhtin is a favorite of mine, so there ya go. The article is more about the Tarantino-verse rather than a sprawling pop culture extravaganza that is my mind, but basic principles apply.

However, some real life things are too good to pass up. Like, an eleven o’clock conversation betwixt Adam and me:

M: Pluto is my ruling planet.

A: How so?

M: I’m a Scorpio, that’s how that works.

A: Ah, yes. Astrology. The thing that makes people believe in stupid things so they can blame their stupid behavior on something else.

M: I don’t think Pluto will take kindly to that. He’s already had his planetary status taken away. You know, those scientists are going to rue the day they made that decision.

A: Why’s that?

M: What’s Pluto the god of?

A: Death?

M: And when those meanie scientists die, who do you think is going to show mercy on them?

A: Not Pluto? And believing in the punishment of a death deity isn’t superstitious and stupid?

M: It’s sort of like Pascal’s Dilemma. Better to believe in the death gods than not at all.

A: Do you know who my ruling planet is?

M: Nope. Who?

A: Zapados.

M:…the Pokemon?

GOLD. Dialog for my next quirky sitcom. DONE.

It’s no wonder Synopsis rhymes with Nemesis

Part of the ridiculousness absurdity charm of submitting to different agents is a.) they all want different things and b.) they all want different lengths of different things.

Most go like this:

  • Query letter
  • Synopsis
  • Sample writing

Easy-peasy. I can do that in my sleep. (In fact, I had a dream the other night where I was writing query letters, but not to agents to publish a manuscript, but rather to Illyria Illyria from Angel, asking her if she could take me to the shrimp world.)

Anyway.

Some want a 10 page synopsis. Totes, yo. I can do that. Some want a one page synopsis, which was incredibly difficult. Suddenly the 450 page novel I worked a year and a half on is now reduced to a one page no-frills, no-chills, no-spills dried out husk of what said novel should be.

After much struggling and rewording and laboring, I got it down to one page.

The next agent wanted one paragraph.

It’s a good thing I was writing on my desktop and not an easily-throwable laptop. (Never trust technology that you can throw out the window, I always say. I’m looking at you, phone.)

The hard thing about synopses is that they are not a movie trailer, they’re not a blurb on the back, and they’re not a pitch. After trying to hard to hook people’s interest and to sound as “in-a-world”-y as possible, to write a non-partial, non-prejudiced account of a novel is incredibly boring. I looked at my synopsis of Byron and just about fell asleep.

Or maybe I’m doing this wrong…

Dr. Kilduff or: How The Powerpuff Girls Taught Me to Love a Pun

Dr. K was my high school literature teacher for two years and he always had this thing about not using anything outside of the text in order to analyze it. Thus, a Plath poem entitled “Daddy” could not, ostensibly, have anything to do with her father. Or, rather, if it did, we couldn’t talk about it.

I never liked that and I finally figured out why: upon rewatching the PPGs, I realized that the majority of my sense of humor came from that show.

Puns? Got it.

The novel I’m trying to get published STAR CROSSED OR: THE CONFOUNDING CALAMITIES OF BYRON THE CAD AND MARIETTA THE ZOMBIE is filled to the brim with puns. They say that puns are the highest form of comedy. Even Shakespeare (eyebrow waggle) used them. SHAKESPEARE. And this dude.

One of the chapters has a subtitle about a Flouring Assassin. It’s about a little girl…who’s becoming an assassin…and SHE’S COVERED IN FLOUR. Or another chapter that tells the future with tea leaves. I call it a Pourtent of Tea. Ha! Even gardening puns make it:

“I can’t even tell if that’s a lie or the truth, it’s so disturbing.”

“My honor!” he snapped back.

“Is so neglected that it’s beginning to wilt from a lack of attention. Nothing I say or do is going to make a damn difference. Does it look like I have a watering can?”

“Hidden beneath the folds of your skirt I’ve no doubt you have at least twenty different ways of killing people and I assume that in assassination school they did teach you how to kill someone with a watering can if given the opportunity.”

“Yeah, the class was called Tenderizing the Garden–”

Absurdity? Yep.

There are zombie fleas that eat the insides of your hair follicles until they eventually burrow into your brain. People electrocute zombies back into life a la Victor von Frankenstein (a distant cousin linking the Shelley character and the Marvel villain*) and they go insane remembering the people they ate when they were undead. And even a slang spoken by street-dwelling triplet junior assassins:

“Swiss worm cheese, they told me you was. Dancing with the squirmies and drinking with the lord of the unforgettable yawn. To see you here, though, flesh peddling and boot stomping for wagon bits makes a Spittle use his hard-boiled noggin.”

They’re well educated street urchins.

A slightly unreliable narrator who bursts in inappropriately? Check.

The story is told in two parts. The first from Marietta’s perspective. The second from Byron. TRUST NEITHER. In fact, I don’t even think you can trust me. The narration shifts slightly from a close third on her and a close third on him, but affects the personalities of them while simultaneously telling about their lives.

Even now I have difficulty keeping it straight, and the point of view is something with which I struggle. That just means a little more editing to get it tight.

Catchy theme song? Uh, no. But I’m working on it.

But what this means is that in some parallel universe where my works are analyzed and critiqued, no one may ever dream of relating it to PPGs if they have a teacher like Dr. Kilduff. And that is just a travesty. It is the things that shape and mould us into the writers we are. And while it’s not imperative that one know everything about a particular author’s biography in order to analyze any works by said author, it often sheds light in the most mysterious of ways.

*Victor von Doom and Byron share a thing! They both believe they are horribly disfigured, due to only a small scar on their faces. Source. I mean, c’mon, guy. IT’S NOT THAT BAD.

From the Powerpuff Girls episode “Schoolhouse Rocked.” I’ll just leave this here:

Ms. Keane: Well, girls, I think Mr. Wednesday taught us a valuable lesson here today.

Bubbles: Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance?

Ms. Keane: No. Don’t turn your back in the middle of a dodgeball game!

Narrator: Oh, Ms. Keane! Under your rule, school is cool!