Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Where To Find Us This Weekend: Pride St Charles!

This weekend is going to be awesome!  For Saturday we'll have a table at Pride St Charles with our books, new costumes and an awesome new rainbow pixel quilt! If you're in the area, come say hi and check out our queer magical girls!

Also we have new stickers specifically for the event!

See you there!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pride Month and Where I Fit (or don't) Within My Family

Photo by Ekyse Lavonne

So, its Pride month. That time in our lives when we’re supposed to celebrate how queer
we are and remind the world we exist, before the month is over and a large number of them
can go back to pretending we don’t. There is a portion of my family who are included in
that group and, with recent things that have happened, I needed to write the below and get
on with my life. This is super personal, but honestly I do hope it helps others, or at least will
help explain what happened recently and why I’m 10000% done with this bullshit.
My grandmother passed away recently and, as most families do, my family and their friends
gathered together to talk about her and attempt to lay her to rest. However, in the world of
passive aggressive Minnesota, it’s not really that simple. Let me back up. Once upon a time, back in middle school, I told my parents I thought I was gay. I came
prepared, I had the proof. A close attractive female friend, check. The desire to only
sketch beautiful women because curves were easier and prettier, check. My complete
lack of a dating life in any shape or form in spite of having several male friends who
shared my interests, check. I was positive. I knew what the word meant and it fit me,
I was so sure. What else could it all mean? “No. You’re not.” my dad said and that was that. I was told to never talk about it again. Once upon a time, fresh out of college, I moved back in with my parents. I was an adult.
I had a full time job, a handle on my bills and was ready to strike out on my own. Oh and
I had a girlfriend. One I met in college over the internet and spent nearly all my free time
online with. We were in love, I even bought her a ring. Eventually I gathered up the courage
to tell them that, once again, I liked girls. This time my proof was indisputable. I had a
girlfriend, a lover of the female persuasion. Surely this would be enough. They refused to say her name. When my mom mentioned her it was always as my
roommate and nothing more. My mother even took the time to gaslighting me,
accusing me of being the problem for being so concerned with ‘labels.’ I skipped
Christmas that year, instead we went and got a cat, trying to fill the gaping hole. This is how it went, on and off for years. Briana’s a part of my life and when my
parents called she would come up in conversation. There was some headway,
here and there, with time passing and small comments. They started to say her
name, my dad even referred to her as my partner once in front of others. I wasn’t
crazy, they were getting it. Surely it would eventually be enough kind words,
comments of understanding, I’m not insane really, I’m still your daughter I’m
just in love. But each time, even when there seemed to be progress, that brick
wall came crashing down to remind me that no, I was wrong. It was never outright hate, my parents don’t do that. Instead it was small things,
like ignoring her until I brought her up. Gifts purchased from the clearance rack
with the sticker still left in place, just so they had something to wrap. Complete
silence at the mention of a wedding, especially when they had mentioned paying
for when there was a hint of my being straight. My parents became masters of
microaggressions that I could never bring up, because I’d be gaslit into confusion
and silence, somehow never able to communicate to them why it hurt so much. Which brings me to the funeral with the eulogy written by my own mother’s hand
and my complete and utter rage during what should have been a time to mourn
a loved family member. Sitting there, in the pew, with my ever supportive wifey of 16+ years, I sat looking
at a lovely one sheet of paper about my grandmother. She was a sweet woman
who had mothered a large family and lived on a farm for most of her life. She
loved animals and taught her daughters to sew, spending all the time she could
with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was survived by an entire
family… a family which included her children and their loved ones. My parents
and their children. My brother and his wife of less than a year. And me. Just me.
Partnerless. Sitting there, in that funeral home, the person next to me was reduced to
invisibility yet again and I felt like a piece of me was cut away, not suitable for
public consumption. She wasn’t good enough. I wasn't good enough. And in
spite of my continued efforts, we never would be. So it was time to stop trying. There’s this nice little fantasy that’s passed around, that family is the
foundation you build your life on and that one safe place you can always
return to when times are hard. This is a truth that so many people cling to
and write their lives on that when you realize your family doesn’t fit this mold
there’s a sense of panic. Children like me run forward and try to pretend it’s
ok, burying the painful truth so deep that it’s continually forgotten and denied.
We try so damn hard. Just one more chance and they’ll get it. Just one more look,
one more phone call, one more conversation. One more awkward get together
and it’ll all turn out ok. The fantasy says if it doesn’t work it’s our fault. Our
family isn’t to blame because they’re still there and still a strong foundation -
instead we’re the odd piece out that doesn’t fit and we did something wrong. It’s
our fault that we’re different, because we don’t fit.

That fantasy is a lie. It's not our fault. It never was. What I failed to realize is that this wasn’t my job. I could twist and turn all I
wanted, but it wouldn’t matter until my family actually made a space for me
to fit into. I would never be able to fit into something that wasn’t there to begin
with. Pretending to be something I wasn’t to fit their tiny little space - or worse,
amputating a part of myself just to be around them - wasn’t helping anyone. It
was hurting me. A lot. And I couldn’t do it anymore. That day, on the way back from the funeral home, we ranted and I cried. A lot.
No part of that night was about my grandma, as it should have been. I’d come
to terms with my grandma’s death before the funeral, honestly, that part I’d
already worked through. Instead I was angry and I was in pain because of the
family it was killing me to hang onto, and I needed to let them go. It would never
matter how much I tried or how many chances I gave them. The ball was in their
court and it always had been. There was nothing I could do until they actually
picked it up and moved on. No amount of me trying was going to force their
hands, no matter how much I wanted it to. ‘Coming out’ is the moment in a queer person’s life where they step out through
a closet door and finally show the world who they are. I’ve come out, many times
since middle school. I haven’t always been accepted, but it’s always felt like some
sort of progress was made - except with my family. Somehow, there, my queer
self was revealed only to be shoved back in the closet and hidden away with
every other dark denied secret. It didn’t matter how many times I pulled it out, it
was always pushed right back in, ready to be ignored for another day. I think, sometimes, ‘coming out’ is simply a door. A door to leave behind yourself
and the others who won’t accept you. In this case it was leaving my parents’
house and walking down the street to join my partner in the home we’ve created
with my friends and chosen loved ones. From the outside I can see how damaged
and condemned that old family house is. I can also see that I’m not the one doing
the damage and it’s not my job to fix it - because that’s not where I live anymore. I’ve built for myself a life and a home that’s much more stable. One where I fit in
and don’t have to explain myself to anyone and pray that they somehow still
remember what I said. There’s a stable family inside, but they’re one I’ve built
and they accept me for who I am. I moved away and made a place for myself.
It still has a phone to get those calls and a door to be knocked on, but for the
first time, I’m done being the person who needs to initiate that contact. Beyond that, there’s another piece that’s just as important. I don’t need a reply.
At this point, whether they come knocking or not, it doesn’t matter. My identity
doesn’t include them, and I’m no longer me: whether they like it or not. Instead
I’m just my queer ass self, living here with my partner and our three cats. No
part of that identity is theirs, acknowledged or denied. I’m just me. Period. Happy Pride.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Books You Should Check Out: Lovesick Titans by Amanda Meuwissen

I love it when friends release their own books. There's something about knowing the author that makes reading their stories and exploring their worlds that much more interesting.  So you should check out this one:

Lovesick Titans

Not even a Titan can always stand up to a God.
Malcom Cho is in over his head, wrapped up in a love affair with his superhero nemesis Zeus, who most people in Olympus City only know as Detective Danny Grant.
Lovesick Titans begins where Lovesick Gods left off, after a heist gone wrong that ended with a museum guard dead and Mal and Danny beaten and exhausted from their fight with the new threat in town, Cassidy Ludgate—Hades.
Unaware that Ludgate’s true motivation is revenge for the death of his father at Zeus’s hands, Mal wants only to keep Danny close, while Danny races to solve the cases surrounding Ludgate to stop him from whatever he has planned for them next.
What Mal doesn’t know is that Danny didn’t pursue him with the purest of intentions but sought to break his heart in retaliation for not being there when he needed him in the fight against Thanatos. Even though Danny no longer seeks that end, the lies between them loom like a shadow about to descend upon them both.
And Hades has only begun to toy with them…

Buy Link: 

Haven't heard of this series before?  That's easy, you can get the first book here:

Amanda Meuwissen has been writing and posting online for many years, including maintaining the website and blog for the software company Outsell. She is an avid writer and consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games, and is the author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and young adult novel Life as a Teenage Vampire. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their two cats.

Social Links:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: The Magicians (Season 1)

What's it about?

Quentin has reached a plateau with his life, though one could argue that he's never really been headed anywhere in the first place. He just doesn't seem to fit in the normal world and he's never understood why. All he has is his favorite childhood book Fillory and Further and his magic tricks. However there is one entrance exam he tries and passes and it turns out he has now been admitted into a magical college where magic is real and maybe he does actually fit in after all. 


Growing up in the age of Hogwarts and Harry Potter, I originally passed up this series as another imitator bent on catching some of the hype. However after a recommendation from a good friend, I gave it a shot and was quite pleased. 

The series is from the Syfy channel, so admittedly low budget as recent TV shows go. The first episode in particular is a rocky start to the series with no seemingly likable characters save for the small story in the background. However what they may not have in effects they make up for in plot and character chemistry and the characters quickly start to grow on you, showing likable characteristics and suddenly you're invested.  I will admit that the Fillory books caught me from the get go and from there I learned to love the characters and the quirky plot. 

Bearing a striking resemblance to the Narnia series by CS Lewis (which was apparently intentional) Fillory is a world made of magic that Quentin and his friends have dreamed of for almost all their lives. It made them all very easy for me to connect to on a personal level. Also, while I wasn't too wild about the college setting for training the Magicians, I had to admire that the school tried to take a non-sided approach to teaching magic, no matter how much that caused them to crash and burn. Like any college, the school just lets you know how to use your powers, it doesn't tell you to use them in a specific way. Well, until the world starts to collapse, then some professors are forced to take a position and stand.

A word to the wise, the show has quite a few triggers throughout the episodes and isn't for the squeamish. From animal mutilations, to lobotomy, to mind control and violence when certain characters are attacked or killed. With the lack of budget compared to other high profile shows, these moments are still given quite a bit of care so they don't come off as cheesy or pointless.  Each time they were used they seemed to help the narrative or at least be needed and not pointless gore padding. 

The show also does a good job of kicking some very well know tropes out the window. The nerdy sidekick girl is not the virgin to be won, the main characters don't all make it into the school and even the seemingly brainless and conceded upperclassmen end up making you fall in love with them. I didn't expect to like these characters as much as I did. And, without revealing too much, I am quite happy about where the end of the first season put Quentin. It's not often that male heroes are allowed to still remind children of wonder with some of their innocence in tact. 

While this school doesn't have the pomp and circumstance of Hogwarts, it still has its own distinct flavor and it's a place I think I'd actually be more comfortable in. A frat/dorm system set up based on abilities rather then the houses format of Hogwarts seems a little more inviting. And there is some competition between the groups, but not to a huge degree. 

Final thoughts:

Overall I fell in love with this series, but I don't think I would have had I just sat down to watch it without getting the recommendation first. So if you like the world of urban fantasy and you have always wanted to cast magic, try this. You may end up falling in love with it just like a good book. 

Now I need to go find season 2 and I need to check out the series of books it's based on. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Convention This Weekend: MSPComiCon in Minnesota!

This weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, you'll be able to find us at MSP ComiCon 2018 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds!

Come stop by our table in the dealer's room and check out our books and costumes.  Also don't forget to explore the whole place with lots of artists, comic book creators and even more nerdy fun! There's even a couple panels this year!  We'll have our books, as always, plus preorders for my newest book Little Creepers (which is so close to being done!), prints, buttons and more. It's going to be a lot of fun and we hope to see you there!

If for some reason you can't make it, remember you can always check out our Etsy store year round for items, and to get some things we generally don't sell at cons - like hats and plushies.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Review: Odd Thomas (Book)

What's it about?

Odd is exactly that, odd. What else would you call someone who can regularly see the dead and other not so human creatures? In his small western town he's mostly accepted as himself and allowed to exist, work at a local diner, even fall in love.  Still something is brewing along the seams, in ways that only he can see. So he must choose if his oddness is something he can use to his advantage and stop whatever is coming.


Full disclosure: Dean Koontz is an interesting author, and not generally my cup of tea, as he tends to wade into areas of horror that are less then interesting to me.  Though I will admit a certain love for a couple of his books and the ideas he weaves within. This book (and series) falls squarely within the Urban Fantasy genre, rather then horror, and thanks to it having a great movie tie in and even a manga series, I'll admit, I was curious.  For those who care, yes I've seen the movie and I really loved it. 

The author's writing style in the book caught me off guard. It's not so much writing as a long rambling conversation. This means we get to see into Odd's thoughts in a very personal way, but it also lends to a lot of tangents and a lot of pages where the story seems to take forever to actually go somewhere.  It makes the novel easy to read, but also very easy to put down because you just want the main character to get on with it!

I do love how the dead can't speak.  Not to Odd, not to anyone, but rather exist in silence around him. It adds an interesting touch and makes them easy to ignore, or hilarious to watch.  In the movie this trick was used masterfully, though in the book it was a bit easier to tell who was dead and who wasn't.  Still, additions of certain silent characters made for some great reading. 

Specifically Elvis.  Yep, Elvis is a main character in this book and seems to be one of Odd's best friends, in spite of the fact that he's dead. The idea of Elvis being a main character is a great touch and reminds me a lot of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, where he's also a regular. I think, if I had to choose, I'd say this book did a better job of using him. Having a regular dead character show up gave a sense of normalcy to Odd's strange world and very quickly communicated the limits of what the dead could do. 

The story line itself has some great twists and turns, and even plays with some ideas of fate, thanks to Odd trying to discover and stop whatever is building up around him. Though at times the story is predictable (the ending very much so) it's still a solid start to a series. My only regret is that the main actor in the movie died and no sequels seem to be forth coming, so if I want to read more, I'll have to deal with the long winded narrative.

Final Thoughts?

Overall I liked the story and the series is quite good.  I just really wish I could enjoy it without the endless tangents in the narrative.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Anime St Louis This Weekend!

I've been falling really far behind on telling people with my blog when we'll be at conventions, I should get back on that...

So we'll be at Anime St Louis this weekend as cosplay guests!  We have several panels, and of course will have a table in the dealer's room sell our books plus some new prints!  Come stop by and say hi!