Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Well. How 'bout that.

My book Cloaked was Peacemaker Awards finalist!  I just found out today when I got the above certificate in the mail.  I'm so excited!

For the complete list of finalists and winners, go here.

The Best Thing I've Seen on the Internet in Years

I'm not even kidding.  This is hilarious and brilliant and I love it.  Thank you, Eva, for linking me to it!  It's such a perfect mashup of The Greatest Showman and the tempestuous brotherly relationship between Thor and Loki.  Good, good stuff.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Dancing and Doughnuts" Cover Reveal

Here it is!!!!!

Do you love it?  I love it.  It's from the same artist who did the cover for Cloaked and my short story "No Match for a Good Story" and I think it continues the look of my series so perfectly.

What's this book about?  Well, someone's been spiking the apple cider at a Kansas dance hall owned by a family with twelve daughters.  No one in the small town has been able to find the culprit.  A hungry Civil War veteran drifts into town and decides he's going to solve this mystery for them and earn the reward the family is offering.  It's my version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," which is probably my favorite fairy tale.

I'll be releasing this in August, and I'll be calling for ARC readers a month or so before the release, so stay tuned for that if you like reading free books before the rest of the world gets their hands on them!  Meanwhile, Dancing and Doughnuts already has a Goodreads page, so click here to access that and add it to your to-read list!

Meanwhile, feel free to visit me elsewhere online to interact with me in other places and ways!  I've got an author website where you can sign up for my newsletter, a Goodreads author page, a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and an Amazon author page.

Tell me what you think of the cover!  Doesn't it blend well with the previous two?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Femnista Article about "King Arthur" (2017)

I just realized I never posted here about my latest Femnista article!  Oops.  For this issue, I wrote about the 2017 Guy Ritchie film King Arthur and how it shakes up the Arthur legend.  You can read it right here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" (2018) -- Initial Thoughts

If you are avoiding spoilage for this movie, stop reading this.  I mean it.  Just stop.  Go see the movie, then come back.

DKoren, I'm serious!  Close the browser window now.  You will not be happy with me or yourself if you don't.  I don't want you mad at me.  I don't want you mad at you.  Come back and read this after you've seen it.

Look, Han and I are really serious about this.  We warned you.  Don't scroll down past this pretty picture of Han's blaster.  If you do, it's on you.  I'm serious now.

Actually, by "spoilers" I really mean "lots and lots of fangirling, with a few small tidbits some people might find spoily."

Cuz I flibbertigibbeting LOVED THIS MOVIE.

GaaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.  I am consumed with bouncy, giddy happiness over how much fun it is.  But serious too, cuz you know, Han Solo has some really good weight to his character; he's got his dark past and secrets and that little mysterious aura of "I'm not as happy-go-lucky as I want you to think I am."  That's why I fell in love with the scoundrel twenty-some years ago, and why I've never fallen out of love with him.  He's not just another bad boy/joker/hot-shot.  He's got a heart as big as his swagger.  How I want to hug him.

So, the more trailers I saw for this, the less I worried about how well Alden Ehrenreich was going to fill Harrison Ford's boots.  I admit it, I was worried when they first talked about making this movie.  But then I saw Ehrenreich in Hail, Ceasar! (2016) and thought he did really well there.  He seemed to have the requisite moxie, but... I've loved Han Solo since I was a teenager.  For like 20 years, Harrison Ford was second only to John Wayne for me.  (He's still my #4 favorite.  Just love him so much.)  I knew it was gonna be really hard for me to accept someone else in the role UNLESS he just understood the character inside and out.

Yeah, no worries there.  Ehrenreich had me convinced he was Han Solo by the end of his first scene.  I wasn't feeling like I was watching someone play Han Solo, I was watching Han, that's all.  Full stop.  No more questions or doubts or worries.  I was ready to sit back and enjoy the ride.

And what a ride!  I admit it, I love heist movies.  This one has multiple heists.  There are cons and double-crosses and triple-crosses galore, and did I mention it's also a buddy movie?  Totally a buddy movie.  Han and Chewie, together again for the first time.  If it hadn't been like midnight when that film ended, I would've just stayed in my seat and watched all over again.  But... I have kids to parent and other boring adult things like that which require sleep, so I came home instead.  But wow, I really need to see this again.  Like all good heist movies, I want to see the puzzle pieces after I know how they fit together so I can see how they all slot into place.

Oh, and while this didn't have a ton of laugh-out-loud moments, I was grinning through just about the whole thing.  Nice thing about driving home after midnight is most of the lights are green and there aren't a lot of cars on the road anymore, so I can actually go the speed limit for once instead of like twenty miles under it, and so I very much just let myself be Han Solo driving home cuz... it's been a while since I pretended I was Han Solo, but that's not something you forget how to do.

Did you hear Ehrenreich has a three-movie deal?  YAHOO!  I hope all three are as fist-pumpingly fun as this one.  I could go on and on about how muchly he nailed this role.  I mentioned Harrison Ford has been a major favorite of mine for decades, and that means I've studied him in a ton of movies.  He's one of those people that I know how he'll move, what gestures he'll use, what expressions and vocal inflections he'll have.  What beats he'll put in his dialog.  And Ehrenreich used just enough of all of those to flavor the character, but not so many that it looked like he was doing an impression.  You could see he could become the Han Solo we meet in A New Hope.  A smirk here, a shrug there, a hand-twitch or an eye-roll or a cocky little half-grin -- so much goodness.  He done good.

Everyone else is fun too!  I liked Donald Glover's over-confident Lando.  I liked Woody Harrelson's robber dude, and Paul Bettany made a good baddie as always.  Chewie was delightful -- Joonas Suotamo did a great job of moving like a younger version of the Chewie we first met so long ago.  Emilia Clarke was interesting -- I didn't get hugely invested in her character, but Han liked her, so I liked her.  I think she pulled off a good blend of sweet and untrustworthy.

As for the story, it felt like a western to me in so many ways.  The first Star Wars trilogy always had that cowboys-in-space vibe, maybe not as blatantly as Firefly did, but it was there, especially when it came to Han.  But the prequels and the new movies have tried to be more, I don't know, serious or something, and many of those movies (The Force Awakens being the exception) have failed to keep the fun, can-do pioneer feel of the originals.  This one has that in spades.

Yeah, it's a cowboy caper buddy movie in space.  That's what it is.  MAN, I want to go see it again.

Is this movie family friendly?  More cussing than I expect from a Star Wars movie, to be honest -- I think 9 or 10 bad words.  Low-level, for the most part.  Things you'd expect Han to say.  There's also a teeny bit of innuendo that most kids will miss, plus quite a bit of smooching.  And lots of fights and blasters and stuff, but nowhere near as intense as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as far as danger and stuff.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Summer 2018 To-Do List

Here are the things I want to do before the end of August:

~ Publish Dancing and Doughnuts in August

~ Read all five INSPY Awards finalists for the mystery/suspense category, which I'm judging.  Because of this, I'm not doing a library books goal this summer so that I don't overwhelm myself.

~ Read The Harvest Raise by Katie Schuermann

~ Read 2 books for my Classics Club list

~ Read 3 other books from my TBR shelves

~ Watch 5 movies from my TBW shelves

~ Go see Solo: A Star Wars Story

~ Go see Ocean's 8

~ Go see Incredibles 2

~ Go see Ant-Man and the Wasp

~ Go see Mission: Impossible -- Fallout

~ Make these Creamy Lemon Icepops

~ Make these Chocolate Mint Greek Yogurt Pops

~ Clean up the giant junk pile that has accumulated in my bedroom again

~ Order photos -- I WILL do this before the end of the year, and summer might be a good time for it

~ Teach Mad Dog to tie her shoelaces

~ Visit the Ark Encounter

~ Go on a hike someplace I've never been before

That seems like it'll keep me busy, right?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Spring To-Do List Wrap-Up

Well, it's the end of May, so let's see how I did on my spring list, shall we?  It's almost Memorial Day weekend, which I always feel is the end of spring and the beginning of summer, so I think it's time to wrap this up.

As always, book and movie titles are linked to my blog reviews of them if I've written one.  (All photos are mine from my Instagram account.)

~ Be done with the major revisions on Dancing and Doughnuts and close to publishing it Check!  I'm working on the minor revisions now, and I am planning to release it in August.  Come back here Tuesday for the cover reveal!

~ Read Loving Isaac by Heather Kaufman Check!  My review is here.  It was wonderful!

~ Read 2 titles from my Classics Club list Check!  In fact, I read three:  Smith of Wooten Major and Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

~ Read 3 other books from my TBR shelves Check!  I did soooooo much wonderful reading this spring -- I read SEVEN other books from my TBR shelves!  I can hardly believe that myself.  I read If I'm Found and If I Live by Terry Blackstock, An Atlas of Tolkien by David Day, Cinder Ellie by J.M. Stengl, The Choir Immortal by Katie Schuermann, The Second Confession by Rex Stout, and The Broken Gun by Louis L'Amour.

~ Read 3 books from the library Check!  I read four:  Girl in Disguise by Greer McAllister, Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, and Based on the Journal of Arabella Clemens Fulton edited by Judith E. Greenberg and Helen Carey McKeever.

~ Watch 5 movies from my TBW shelves Check!  I watched SEVEN.  Which would have made a bigger dent in my TBW pile if I hadn't gotten movies for my birthday too.  I watched Sauce for the Gander (1942), A Bear Named Winnie (2004), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Along Came Jones (1945), The Book of Life (2014), and Son of a Gunfighter (1965).

~ Go see Paul, Apostle of Christ if it's playing anywhere near me Fail.  It did play here during Holy Week, but I never got a chance to go see it :-(

~ Go see Tomb Raider Check!   I liked it -- here's my review.

~ Go see Avengers: Infinity War Check!  I liked it okay eventually.

~ Go see Solo: A Star Wars Story I'm not marking this one as a check or a fail because it doesn't come out until tomorrow, but I'm wrapping this list up today because I have time and feel like it.  So I'm just moving this to my summer list.

~ Get back into a blog-reading routine so I quit falling behind on all my favorite blogs Semi-fail.  I've been reading the blogs I love more often, but I still am not back to my former level of faithful reading.  Phooey.  Something to keep working on!

~ Order photos Fail.  And we're going on a vacation this summer, so I'm not going to even bother trying to order photos until after we get back.

~ Have my plans for VBS crafts solidified Check!  I've got most of my supplies either assembled or ordered, and I feel really confident about the crafts I've got planned.  They're going to be fun, and most of them are something kids and parents will want to keep longer than just until the end of the week.

~ Plant milkweed and chickory in the gully behind our house to feed butterflies and bees  Check!  Not sure how much of it will come up and bloom, but we did plant them.

~ Make a cute terrarium out of the old fish tank I brought home from my parents' house  Fail.  I've come to realize I don't have a place to keep a terrarium because I already have houseplants filling up the available places to house plants.  So... giving up on this idea.

~ Try to make a ruffled-neck shirt like these out of a t-shirt I have that has a really wide and saggy neck that I hate Check!  It turned out really cute and was relatively quick and easy to do.  I may do this with more shirts in the future just because sometimes I find a shirt I like, but it has a v-neck and I don't like the way I look in v-necks, so then I don't get that shirt, and now I have a way to turn a v-neck shirt, or shirt that is too low-cut, into a shirt I like and feel comfortable wearing!  In fact, I think I'll try it with this shirt next:

That's it, friends!  I'll be posting my summer to-do list soon!