Monday, April 30, 2012

A-Z Challenge: The Final "Z" Post

For my "Z" post for the A-Z Challenge, I leave you with a few classic "Z characters." Let's see if you can name them.  We'll start with the easiest one first: 

Hint:  The Walking Dead is filled with them

Hint:  The Mask of ???

Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
Hint:  from The Fifth Element

Zot Comic Book
Hint:  Rhymes with Dot

Zombozo from Ben 10
Hint:  Ben 10 villain

Lastly, I'll leave you with something unusual.  No, this frog doesn't start with the letter Z, but I thought the footage was cool.  Enjoy. 

Have a great week!  I need a break.  You?

Mina B.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A-Z: "Y" is for "Thank You" & "Your" Characters

It's the second to the last day for the A-Z Challenge and today's letter is of course for the letter "Y." Before I begin my post, I'd like to give a shout out or a "Thank You" to the band of bloggers that hosted this excellent challenge which turned out to an awesome networking opportunity. Today, I will be making my rounds to these fine folks to make sure I'm following them and to say thank you.  Below is the list of these awesome peeps:

Tossing It Out (Arlee Bird), Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas),
Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh), Life is Good (Tina Downey), Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons), Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins), The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence), The QQQE (Matthew MacNish), Author Elizabeth Mueller(Elizabeth Mueller), Pearson Report (Jenny Pearson), No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow), Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp), & Coming Down The Mountain(Karen Jones Gowen)

Okay, so since my theme for this challenge is all about likable characters, I decided my post for "Y" should be about "your" favorite characters.  It could be the ones you write about, read about or even the ones you enjoy on film.  

I read a post this week that prompted this post.  It was from USA Today & New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ashley and it was titled Character and Control.  If you get a chance, I recommend reading it.  There are some interesting perspectives on this subject.  Ashley writes about how she lets her "characters tell the story" and goes even further to explain how her process works.  (For those interested, I interviewed Ashley nearly two years where she spoke about one of her highly acclaimed characters, Lord Ian Mackenzie.)  At the end of the day, everyone has their own process, which brought me to my next series of questions.  

Plot, suspense, pacing etc... are without a doubt imperative, but what happens when you have characters that are not likable? Or better yet not memorable?  Do you let your characters tell your story?  Or do you prefer to control them?  What's your process and what works for you?

Mina B.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "X" Characters & Fred

A-Z Challenge again and this time...its the letter "X." I tried to think of one character that stood out, but there are so many, I'd thought I'd pick several X characters and then in one word describe them. Let see if I hit the mark.  Want to play along?  



Charles Xavier a.k.a Professor X from Xmen



X-10:  The evil villain in A Human Element.  
Check out my character interview with the twisted X-10.


Xtra credit:  Here's a story my son, a first grader, Xander a.k.a. Xman recently wrote.  He has a wicked mind and I have no idea where he gets it.

Title: Attack of the Caterpillars

All this time alien caterpillars were on Earth. 
And then the alien caterpillars tried to destroy us.  
But we killed them all and sent them back to space.  
And we lived happily ever after.

Triple XXX Threat:  Fred.  Oh, how he loves car rides!

Put the car in drive, Mom!
Remember to stop by and visit Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too.

Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A-Z: "W" is for "Wednesday" Addams

Okay so I had to post this one for "W" for the A-Z Challenge.  I can't tell you how much I adore "Wednesday" Addams; the young, sadistic female offspring of Gomez and Morticia Addams. Aside from being extremely intimidating and incredibly ballsy, her uniqueness comes from her anti-social behavior and morose tendencies.  I can't get enough of her.  You?  What I love most about her is she is all about her family--despite how creepy they are.

What's the one thing you love about Wednesday?  Do you have a favorite episode?  Find Season 1 Addam's Family here via you tube.  Is there another character other than "Thing" that you love from the series?  Did you love the movies?  What about Christina Ricci?

I have a character (Timid Tabitha) that's a bit odd like Wednesday from my Children's books.  The quirkiness is the draw for me.  You?

We have three more letters left in the A-Z Challenge?  How am I doing?  (Now she asks, huh?)

Mina B.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "V" is for "Vendetta"

The A-Z Challenge continues this time with the letter "V."  And since I just blogged about a comic book, why not highlight another iconic character V from Vendetta?  There are so many awesome aspects about this character it's mindboggling.  

Based on the original comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, V for Vendetta surfaced back in the early 80's in Warrior, a British anthology comic published by Quality Comics. The setting as most people know deals with a futuristic UK, where after a nuclear attack, a new totalitarian government forms and thrives, using iron-fisted and violent tactics to rule. After years of oppression our unique hero, V, emerges, sparking an everlasting fuse that threatens to overthrow the government and finally unite the people with the promise of freedom. 

On of my favorite parts is the speech from our famous character V. Have you seen it?

What do you think about this character?  What aspects of him did you like or dislike?  Did he come across as a hero or a fanatic?  

And what happens when a literary character takes on a bigger meaning outside the world of fiction?  Have you seen how there are anonymous clips via the internet where anarchists are using his image to convey their own political message?  Like it or not, this character has spread like wildfire and I doubt we've seen the last of him in film, comic books or elsewhere.

Mina B.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A-Z: Urkonn from Whedon's Fray comic series

Alright, let's face it...there aren't that many fictional characters that begin with the letter "U" --ones I want to discuss anyway.  And so for my A-Z Challenge today, I wanted to highlight a character that is a part of Joss Whedon's comic world.  Are you familiar with Fray?

The Fray is "an eight-issue comic book limited series about Melaka Fray," a future slayer living in the 23rd century.  The call for a slayer has been made after centuries of a slayerless world.  My character feature is for Melaka's stand-in watcher/trainer--a demon named Urkonn.  

Aside from being a demon, Urkonn has his own backstory, which I found intriguing.  As Melaka's trainer, he relentlessly prepares her for her worst nightmares, including betrayal from those she trusts.  

Urkonn used unorthadoxed methods to train Melaka that ultimately led to his demise.  I highlighted him because I liked his interactions with the slayer and wanted more. 

What do you think about Urkonn?  He looks like a bad a**, huh? Were you (are you) a Buffy fan?  Have you read any of Whedon's comic books?  

On another note, can someone tell me why Joss Whedon doesn't have a website?  I mean, for the love of Peter, he's on Facebook.  Good grief.  

Mina B.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "T" for Sweeney Todd

I'm doing the home-stretch with the A-Z Challenge here, minions!  Whew!  I'm tired.  Anyway, my character feature for the letter "T" is "Sweeney Todd" from Thomas Peckett Prest version of The String of Pearls.  Today, I wanted to highlight this all-time favorite of mine--a classic character that is so devious, twisted and downright demonic, it's no wonder he's referred to as The Demon Barber.

To give you an example of the true art of illustrating characters, here's a sample of Prest's initial description of Todd:

"The barber himself was a long, low-jointed, ill-put-together sort of fellow, with an immense mouth, and such huge hands and feet, that he was, in his way, quite a natural curiosity; and, what was more wonderful, considering his trade, there never was seen such a head of hair as Sweeney Todd's. We know not what to compare it to: probably it came nearest to what one might suppose to be the appearance of a thickset hedge, in which a quantity of small wire had got entangled. In truth, it was a most terrific head of hair; and as Sweeney Todd kept all his combs in it--some said his scissors likewise--when he put his head out of the shop-door to see what sort of weather it was, he might have been mistaken for some Indian warrior with a very remarkable head-dress. He had a short disagreeable kind of unmirthful laugh, which came in at all sorts of odd times when nobody else saw anything to laugh at at all, and which sometimes made people again, especially when they were being shaved, and Sweeney Todd would stop short in that operation to indulge in one those cacchinatory effusions. It was evident that the remembrance of some very strange and out-of-the-way joke must occasionally flit across him, and then he gave his hyena-like laugh, but it was so short, so sudden, striking upon the ear for a moment, and then gone, that people have been known to look up to the ceiling, and on the floor, and all round them, to know from whence it had come, scarcely supposing it possible that it proceeded from mortal lips."

In that snidbit alone, you get an eerie and striking sensation about Todd and you know that tale promises to be a riveting one.  Prest paints such a vivid picture in my mind that I have an instant image of what Sweeney Todd is like.  He even lets us know what the patrons think of the strange barber.  

Have you read The String of Pearls?  Tim Burton's movie and Johnny's Deep's portrayal of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber on Fleet Street, was different, but equally thrilling.  Want to know more about the original tale, here's my creepy classic review.

Mina B.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A-Z Challenge, "S" is for "Sherlock Holmes"

My A-Z Challenge character feature today for "S" is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes." Most of the general public is familiar with this time-honored character. When it comes to solving mysterious crimes, he's been ingrained into our psyche as the go-to fictional investigator. 
From the GoodReads overview:  "Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who was a brilliant London-based consulting detective. Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess and is renowned for his skillful use of astute observation, deductive reasoning and forensic skills to solve difficult cases."  Yes, he is that and so much more.

After reading a few of Sherlock stories including, The Hound of Baskervilles, I had a whole new appreciation for Doyle.  Sherlock had his faults and was famously imperfect as he was genius.  And he had this lonesome quality that made him ever more alluring.  Doyle was a master at storytelling through his characters--not just with Sherlock, but with Watson.  Was that part of the reason why Sherlock was so great?

Did you read any of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories?  Have you seen the movies with Robert Downey Jr.?  Which of Sherlock's qualities do you like/dislike?  

Mina B.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A-Z, Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules Book Review & Fred

For my A-Z Challenge, the letter is “R,” and today, I’ll be doing a "Review" filled with engrossing characters that should entice those interested in hot YA fantasy literature.  Are you familiar with Julie Kagawa, the author of the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fae Series? Well, if not, she’s about to launch Book I of the Blood of Eden series.  It's a book about vampires titled, The Immortal Rules. And boy does it rule! (Some spoilers mentioned.)
The Immortal Rules is a wicked novel about a post-apocalyptic world where vampires rule in various vampire city destinations around the country and enslave humans for blood.  Within the city walls, there are registered humans: those that donate their blood in exchange for food, shelter and protection. And then there are the unregistered humans: those that refuse to conform and that live on the “Fringe—the outermost circle of the vampire city.” They survive by hiding from hunting vamps and scavenging for food.  The novel begins with a young 17 year old human girl, Allison Sekemoto, who is unregistered and fighting for that very survival along with her gang mates.

Since food is always the underlying concern, Allie finds the mother lode in an area outside the city called the ruins. Venturing in this forbidden place can get you killed, which is exactly what happened to our heroine. Turning from human to a vampire was probably the worst thing that could happen to Allie. Still, intuitively she is a survivor. Her sire, Kanin, is like her vampire sensei. He teaches her everything she knows about being a vampire and of course about the immortal rules. She learns about the vampire hierarchy, how the world morphed into a post-apocalyptic nightmare and sadly, how she can never trust humans again.

The Immortal Rules reminded me of hodgepodge of other bestsellers including I am Legend and The Hunger Games. Allie is so likable simply because she is a quick learner and excels at surviving.  Her human beginnings were incomprehensible
a mere child with no family, starving at every turn. And then of course she dies and is forced to experience a whole new level of hunger.  I loved Allie’s spirit, her innocence and her strength—not to mention the world Kagawa built. And the ending…was like a movie. Thrilling. This novel will no doubt be another successful series for Kagawa.  In fact, for those that don’t know, Palomar Pictures just purchased the film rights for The Immortal Rules and Blood of Eden series

The Immortal Rules was easily a 4 for me. If you like YA books and you’re in need of a great vampire one, then this is hands down your novel.   Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules releases April 24th. 

And now....Fridays with Fred

Fred is taking break today.  In his place is one of his friends, Achilles. And like Fred, Achilles is an staunch Heat fan, which is a good thing because right now the heat are hot, hot, HOT! Go Miami Heat!

Remember to stop by and say hi to Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too. 

Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "Q" is for Queen Elinor

The A-Z Challenge continues with the letter "Q." I've discussed several characters this month and this time, I'd like to feature a new character,"Queen Elinor" from Disney & Pixar's upcoming animated movie, Brave.

Disney & Pixar's character overview of the queen mother is as follows:

A vision of grace, wisdom and strength of character, Queen Elinor is fiercely dedicated to the well being of her familiy and kingdom.  As the measured, diplomatic counterpoint to her more impulsive husband, King Fergus, Elinor carries the weight of the kingdom on her shoulders.

And if you think for a moment that this mother has it made, take a look at her defiant, but magnificent daughter, Merida.

Being a mother of two, I always keep my eye out for animated movies that have heart. This mystical tale deals with family, witches and beastly curses.  Sounds fun, huh?  This one is on my must-see list this summer.  Brave hits theaters June 22nd. 

What do you think? Does it look interesting? Do you like Queen Elinor?

Mina B.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "P" for Pottermore

The letter for the A-Z Challenge is "P" and I chose Pottermore.  If you don't know by now, J.K. Rowling's interactive magical website launched this past weekend.  Woot!  Since I'm a geek and all, I spent last night pouring through it.  Signing up was a bit strange, but hey, I'm game for anything Harry Potter.

Anyway, since we are talking about characters, Pottermore is filled with them.  JK Rowling is breaking ground in the area of ebooks and ecommerce so I'll be watching closely not just for the literary aspects, but for the marketing ones as well.  For those interested, Nathan Bransford wrote a recent post on the topic, Why the Harry Potter E-books Are and Aren't a Really Big Deal.  With so much going on with publishing, you'd be crazy not to at least be curious, right?

Have you unlocked the magic or signed up yet?  Are you planning on it?  I'm taking my son with me on this journey so I'm sure we'll have loads of fun.

Mina B.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A-Z Challenge: Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O’Hara

The A-Z Challenge continues with the letter "O."  Truthfully, I had a difficult time deciding on this one--Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O’Hara.  She's not a sci-fi, fantasy, or even a paranormal romance character, but she is a classic.  And everyone knows how much I love classics.
Scarlett is an incredibly domineering female protagonist for being a mere woman during the Civil War era.  This natural-born survivor is complex, cunning, selfish, demanding, tenacious and a complete pain in the a** when it comes to getting her way.  And what's even more interesting is how her character evolved throughout the story.  I thought I'd highlight her brief introduction in Mitchell's words about Scarlet:

“Scarlet O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin-that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.”
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind 

Classic quotes from Scarlett:

- Scarlett:"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

- Scarlett: "Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day."

- Scarlett: "Cathleen, who's that?"
Cathleen Calvert: "Who?"
Scarlett: "That man looking at us and smiling. The nasty, dark one."
Cathleen Calvert: "My dear, don't you know? That's Rhett Butler. He's from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation."
Scarlett: "He looks as if... as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy."

- Scarlett: "Fiddledee dee"

- Scarlett: "As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

Scarlett: "Oh, Rhett," she laughs. "I want everybody who's been mean to me to be pea-green with envy!"

And one of my favs:

Scarlett: "Sir, you are no gentleman."
Rhett Butler: "And you, Miss, are no lady."

Scarlett was completely imperfect which is one reason why she was so memorable. Do you like/hate this classic character? Did you appreciate how her character evolved in the story?

Mina B.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A-Z Challenge: "N" is for Nïx the Ever-Knowing

A-Z Challenge again!  "N" is for the Valkyrie, Nïx - the Ever-Knowing, from Kresley Cole's Immortal After Dark series.   Despite her secondary character status, Nix, a.k.a. Nucking Futs Nix is larger than her immortal life in this best-selling paranormal romance series.  Since Book 1, Cole's characters have made an impression and continue to do so with each novel.  It's an art for a writer to weave in secondary characters to the point where the fans demand their story.  Nix is one of those beloved characters.
Nucking Futs Nix
For those that aren't familiar with the Valkyrie, here's a brief description:  
“When a maiden warrior screams for courage as she dies in battle, Wóden and Freya heed her call. The two gods give up lightning to strike her, rescuing her to their hall, and preserving her courage forever in the form of the maiden’s immortal Valkyrie daughter.  Valkyrie take sustenance from the electrical energy of the earth, sharing it in one collective power, and give it back with their emotions in the form of lightning. Possess preternatural strength and speed. Also called Swan Maidens, Shield Maidens. Enemies of the Horde."  

In the series, Nïx the Ever-Knowing is the first born Valkyrie who is a soothsayer.  Her visions have made her semi-deranged, but her humor has made her endearing.  She sees the future more clearly than the present.  Hence her craziness.  Like most of the female characters, her witty dialogue is infectious.  Here's a couple of samples:

"Nix: “Once I faced a female with diamond skin,” Nïx said breathlessly. “I was transfixed—even as she was choking the life out of me.” “Really?” “No, I saw that character on X-Men. I just wanted to commiserate. Alas, I have no weaknesses.”  ―  Kresley Cole, Pleasure of a Dark Prince

“Nix: "Do it, or the pictures go live!" Witch shakes her fist at the sky, crying, "Damn you, Valkyrie! Damn you and your digital ways!” ― Kresley Cole, Kiss of a Demon King

Love that Valkyrie! 

What about you?  Are you familiar with the series?  Do you have any favorite secondary characters that your reading or writing?  How much of an emphasis do put on them?

Mina B.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A-Z Challenge "M" & Blog Hop Winner

A-Z Challenge, again.  Whew!  I'm tired.  Today's letter is "M" for a character I've been stuck on for some time.  Madeline Freelove.  Do you ever get characters stuck in your head?  I do often.  Madeline is one of those characters that haunts me.  So I decided to share the opening scene of a paranormal romance I've been plotting and see what you think.  I did my best to cut this down so my apologies for the length. 
Madeline Freelove, an up-and-coming pastry Chef/Chocolatier, finished reviewing the last of her bank transactions, stunned at the results. After two years of grueling work launching her boutique chocolate and pastry business, Divine Delectables, Madeline was finally turning a profit. All those nights of starving herself, so she could afford the best ingredients for her original recipes. Everything was now paying off.

She leaned back in her chair, stretching her exhausted limbs as a sense of relief permeated through her. With her head titled, she stared blindly at the ceiling. “I should celebrate,” she declared. Closing her eyes, she thought blissfully of her lifelong obsession. Chocolate.  Madeline  worshiped chocolate, and it showed in her work.

But despite how much she baked, she never truly indulged in her art. Oh, possibly a taste here and there to ensure her recipes were on point, but never true indulgence. Why? Madeline
was of medium height with curves that in her opinion were far too curvy. Her whole life she was forever watching her weight, terrified she’d turn into a cow. A ridiculous notion, of course. In truth, she was a rare beauty. But Madeline never thought so and therefore, hardly ever indulged. Until tonight.

To celebrate, she placed three of her favorites on her modish-type plate: a chocolate peanut butter ball, chocolate kiss infused with mint crunch, and a beloved dark chocolate monster brownie with nuts, caramel and topped with toasted coconut. Mmm. Madeline was in heaven.

She unbound her unruly blond curls and allowed them to fall willy-nilly. She sighed as the tension released from her head and seeped through her weary bones. Eyeing her prize with longing, she turned around, leaning against the display case, her back to the front door. In less than two bites, she chomped her brownie, ignoring the need of a napkin. That taste was perfection. The secret was the toasted coconut, Madeline mused. The flavor coated her mouth and she closed her eyes, enjoying the last of the succulent sensation as it eased down her throat. Delicious. Taking a sip of water, she refreshed her palate for the next delight, her peanut butter chocolate bon bon. In fast swoop, she popped it into her mouth, closing her eyes as rich flavors assaulted her taste buds.

Completely caught up in her personal party, Madeline hadn't noticed the door jingle, announcing a customer. She remained blissfully unaware as steps behind her coming closer. She made small mewling noises of pleasure and didn't stop until a throat cleared behind her.

Slowly turning to view the customer, Madeline had one thumb in her mouth she was sucking, while the other griped her plate. Her mouth went instantly dry as she pulled her thumb out. Her lips frozen in an O with a piece of coconut hung from her lip. The man before her was a vision.

His dark hair had streaks of auburn and his eyes were sinfully black. He was monstrously tall standing in the center of her tiny shop. His broad build deliciously filled his obviously expensive, rich brown suit, reminding her of chocolate.

“Ms. Madeline Freelove?” He asked as Madeline used her sleeve to wipe a streak of chocolate she felt on her face. Poor thing made it worse.

The stranger gave a wicked smile. Before shame descended upon her, Madeline licked her lips struck by this vision. And she wondered briefly what a handsome devil like that would taste like.


And the winner of my Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway is....Eg Kaufman.  Congrats!  As mentioned, the winner will be allowed to choose one of the following killer books: Black Dawn, Insurgent and The Immortal Rules. The winner will be notified via email and will have no more than 72 hours to respond before another winner is drawn. The contest winner was selected by the reputable

Mina B.