Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review: Batman vs Robin

What's it about?

Fresh off Son of Batman, Damian Wayne is still getting used to being the new Robin and being accepted by his father.  In this film, he's a bit more matured, showing that he's taking quite a few of Batman's lessons to heart, however the rift between them is still very clear and comes to a head as a group called the Court of Owls decides to come back to Gotham and pick up where it once left off, molding the city to it's ideal.  They give Damian a choice: to listen to his father, or cross the line he will not cross.


I'm going to start this off by saying that last week, before we watched this movie, we watched Batman v Superman.  I won't spend too much time on it, but I will say that if you're in the mood for a versus comic story that is well done with character arcs that actually care about the characters and writers who actually took the time to make a coherent script, skip that movie and watch this one.  Batman vs Robin has everything I wanted Batman v Superman to be and didn't get. 

Damian Wayne is, by far, my favorite Robin.  I'm not afraid to call him a little shit, because that is the best way to describe his attitude toward the world and his newly discovered father.  What makes him so interesting is the growth he so obviously shows between these movies.  He wants to prove himself to his father, he wants Batman to trust him, but he honestly doesn't understand why he can't kill people even when they've done absolutely horrible things.

This movie is also a perfect example of how to use the overplayed flashback of Bruce Wayne's parents dying in just the right way so that it builds the plot.  In Batman v Superman the flashback felt shoehorned in, just because Hollywood was sure that they needed it there to prove it was a Batman movie.  Here the flashback is relevant to the story and is actually expanded upon, to build Bruce's character.  We don't just see his parents die, we see little Bruce coming to grips with it, trying to understand who was behind it and why.  And in that we understand a little better how Damian is feeling about everything, even though their childhoods are so different.

There's also the animation in this movie, specifically in the final fight scene.  Ask me any time for examples of amazing animation (because I watch far too much anime to count) and this is still a stellar example of what the medium can do.  Fight scenes are hard to animate and don't always look right, even with the most skilled of companies.  The one that Warner Brother's Animated used for this movie carries out the fight scene as if it were nothing.  I said it above, but I mean it. This movie is what I wanted from Batman v Superman and the fight is no exception.  You felt the punches here, and the cuts and bruises were painful.  It was a master piece of showing that you can keep a fight confined to a minimal area and still communicate how earth shattering it would be if they lost.  I was invested in this fight and I got what I wanted in this climax. 

Final thoughts?

In the end this movie is one of my favorites, right up there with Under the Red Hood.  And once again I'll dream of the day when we get live action DC movies from the same writing team as these.  Because by and far, there are more good animated movies then there are bad.  Yes, some stumble horribly - looking at you, Killing Joke - but the majority are really good and worth recommending to friends and family.  And I'm still going to keep buying them blind when they come out.  I can't wait to watch more.

Where'd I get it?

Best Buy Black Friday sale with many other DC movies we were missing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Black Butler: Book of Circus (Anime)

What's it about?

Enter back into the world of Ciel Phantomhive and his demonic butler. It is Ciel's job, as the Queen's Guard Dog, to police the underworld so they don't become too much of a hassle for the crown and normal citizens. When many children start disappearing and those disappearance coincide with a mysterious circus, what else would you expect?  Ciel and Sebastian join the circus to find the children and the story behind the mysterious performers. 


Book of Circus is a soft reboot of the Black Butler series.  If you're unfamiliar, the first season was enjoyable, but strayed quite a bit from the original story in the manga.  Instead of taking the Dragon Ball Z Kai route, this series went a bit more toward Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and restarted the story with their most popular arc, using strategically placed flashbacks to remind us of the important pieces. You aren't required to see the first season to understand this series, and you CERTAINLY aren't required to see the second season - in fact, just join the rest of us and pretend that part never happened. 

This season brings back the characters you already know and introduces a whole host of new ones who will grow on you.  Joker, Beast, Doll and Snake especially are very well written in the short season.  You meet each member of the circus and you feel for them, so that makes the inevitable ending that you know is coming that much more painful, as Ciel and Sebastian have a tendency to clean up whatever mess is in front of them and the bodies tend to follow.  

I'll be honest it's hard not to spoil the story while talking about it, so I'll keep it vague.  Instead I would highly recommend this anime for those who tend to like mysteries and very smart main characters.  Ciel is deeply flawed and not the best hero by any means, but you understand where his actions come from and the world he inhabits is always interesting to see.  I loved the first season and I still follow the manga through scanlation sites.  This anime is a perfect adaptation of the story, with a couple extra scenes added in for that extra punch to the gut, even if you know what's coming.  

Final thoughts?

Seriously, it's a good series. Why haven't you watched it yet?  See it.  Share it with your friends.  Then check out Book of Murder and the rest of the series.  But not season 2, just pretend that doesn't exist like the rest of us. 

Where's I get it?

We finally bought a copy on Blu-ray from Best Buy during their Black Friday sales.  Oh and as a note, the dub on this is also AMAZING and one of the best dubs out there.  Shout out to the entire cast, they do an amazing job!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Fudanshi Kōkō Seikatsu (Anime, Season 1)

So this weekend, upon playing around on our PS3, we found we still have Crunchyroll, oops!  This means we can watch things - like Yuri on Ice!! - and we're so far behind in anime.  So we decided to try one out that my partner had mentioned, but I hadn't seen.

What's it about?

Ryo Sakaguchi is a rare person.  He's a young, straight, man who is actually a fan of Boy's Love manga.  This, of course, leads to many hilarious situations across 12 short style episodes.


The premise is cute, mostly because as a female Yaoi and Boy's Love fan I can't quite imagine how it might be for a guy in Japanese society.  This creates a very meta feeling series that is quite self aware of all the cliches and tropes present in the genre and uses them to create very amusing commentary.

For example, the main character loves pairing guys together and will take pictures, collect the manga and doujinshi and such, but when ever he runs into it real life, he always comments about the problematic areas of such a relationship in real life.  Like most fans of the genre he's very aware of the difference between real life and the fantasy, and he's ok with them being different.  I find that part of him really easy to identify with even though it's one of the hardest things to explain to someone who isn't part of the fandom(or any fandom for that matter).

One thing I do really love about the series, is the serious lack of shame around the idea.  In most series like this, you would expect the main character to be given a lot of grief for what he likes and even possibly have the central plot based on that until there's some sort of lame conclusion about accepting one's self.  In this case, the creator has decided to ignore that cliche in favor of reflecting how the character feels about himself.  Sure, he's embarrassed about his hobby, but that's where most of the shame comes from.  His best friend thinks it's a bit weird, but only makes very small comments here and there as a best friend would.  By doing this, the series doesn't shame the audience for what they like, and it's a nice alternative to what I normally expect in this sort of series.

The downside is that this short series requires one to have a pretty wide view of the genre, as each episode is it's own little inside joke.  If you aren't as familiar with Yaoi and Boy's Love and the culture of it's fans, I have a feeling that quite a bit of this series would be lost on you or uninteresting beyond the simple setup idea.

The other downside is that this only seems to work as short sketch episodes.  I can not, for the life of me, imagine watching this series with full sized episodes and an overarching plot without seeing it annoy me with troupes or become one itself and lose my interest.  The premise is cute, but created for a large scale plot it is not, which is fine, really.

In conclusion?

If you're familiar with Boy's Love and Yaoi and like the genre yourself, you'll probably get a couple laughs out of this series.  But don't expect anything major, just go in for quick, amusing distraction.

Where'd I get it?

Crunchyroll has all 12 episodes.  No word currently if more are planned. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

On The Subject of NaNoWriMo 2016

Once upon a time, a few years ago, I won NaNoWriMo.  With a plan completely in hand, an outline ready and determination, I wrote the first draft of Seeking the Storyteller in a month, even though it was well over the 50,000 word goal.

But I haven't beat NaNo since.

This isn't a blog entry about me failing, or attempting to relive some goal I completed years ago under completely different circumstances.  Instead it's addressing something I've experienced every year after that - dealing with the fact that I couldn't catch up to myself.

Every year in November thousands of people - probably a heck of a lot more then that - pledge to join National Novel Writing Month and write 50,000 words in a single month.  We post our blurbs and summaries and get to typing, with varying degrees of success.  And I've participated each year, with different expectations.

This year I didn't expect that I'd finish.  As hopeful as I'd like to be, I was under no illusion that the political climate looming would affect my progress, not to mention all the holiday orders I have to fulfill from my other job.  Then there's the vacation and yeah, a less then adequate time of year for starting and finishing a novel.  So instead I gave myself a different goal:

I would finish writing a short story I started last year, titled Summons.  I would edit that story so it was ready for my wifey to read and I would sort through the growing pile of horror stories I've written to see if there's a novel in there somewhere.  Those goals - while they didn't add up to the normal 50,000 words, were very doable and I accomplished them!

So the point of this little entry?  Easy!  It's ok if you don't complete NaNo, not everyone does.  And if you know that the month might hold too many other things to do, set a different goal for yourself and work just as hard to get to it.  You can still win the month, even if the little word counter on the site seems to say otherwise.  And there's always next year, where hopefully things will line up a bit better.

In the meantime, Summons has become "The Great Wizard of Shoes and Sock" and has been sent off.  And my horror anthology "Little Creepers" is that much closer to being ready to be edited.  So there will still be more from me in the future.

And later this week I should start editing magnifiqueNOIR, cuz the first draft is sooooooooooo close to being done!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This Holiday Season - Don't Be Afraid to Skip Out

With the holidays coming up, there's a lot of commercials, posts and talk about family.  This is unavoidable as it seems to be part of the season as a whole, but sadly not everyone has a chance to take part in that part of the holiday.  So the point of this post?  That's ok.

Speaking as a queer, non-christian woman in an interracial relationship, there's a lot of variety in my life that my family doesn't seem to understand.  This has become abundantly clear in the recent political climate and while it's not a matter of all out hate (it could be a lot worse and it has been in the past), there are just some things that I'm tired of explaining to them or can't even begin to explain in a way they'll understand.  So we've opted to skip my large family Thanksgiving and may or may not be following suit with Christmas - we'll see.

But the heart of the matter, and what I really want to talk about, is the hurt that comes with that.  It's really hard for me to not go to family gatherings, because it's just something I was raised doing. There's this dull shame in the pit of my stomach when I consider the idea and agree to it, because the voice in the back of my head says "But I'm supposed to" regardless of my own personal disagreements with my family.  I also know my partner has a large family who is either out of state, out of reach or just plain not a part of her life.  Situations like this lead to both of us feeling lonely, homesick and just all around left out when those required commercials and posts come up about family cheer and gatherings.

The point of this post, and me writing this, is to say that shame is wrong.  With this post I am telling myself that it's ok to skip out and if you find yourself in a similar situation this applies to you too.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to take care of yourself during the holidays and avoid situations that can become less then pleasant.  Family is family and they either will or won't agree with you and your life, but if you need to take yourself out of the situation to take care of yourself, that's perfectly ok.  There's a whole host of reasons why people might need or choose to do this and in the end only they can decide for themselves and when they do, it's ok.  Don't shame them for it.  And especially, don't shame yourself.

On our part, we're still celebrating and cooking for ourselves.  She's making dinner while I'm at work on Thanksgiving and we're getting together with a friend on Sunday who is also choosing to avoid their family gathering. I've heard other friends refer to it as 'Friendsgiving' which is just as legitimate. In the end, this holiday season is about celebrating the year and what you have.  And if you find, like us, that 2016 has been a bit much to deal with, then yes you should take a day or two off.

It doesn't mean that you love your family any less.  It doesn't make you any less of a person.  It means you're realistic and realize that above anything else you have to take care of yourself, because family and friends come and go, but you will always be stuck with yourself.  If you are trapped, then life can be miserable, even when surrounded by supposed holiday cheer. So it's ok.

No guilt.  No shame.  Take care of yourself these last couple months.  And here's to hoping that next year will be better. Or, at the very least, a little more tolerable.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cosplay Closet - Yu Yu Hakusho

I was searching around on the internet to update some of my information on other pages to find that had actually closed down (quite a few years ago, oops).  Unfortunately this means that I've lost my list on the exact years when I made certain cosplay, so I'm starting this to record some of that information and call back to some of the very old cosplay that I've made over the years.

So lets start with one of my old favorite shows: Yu Yu Hakusho!

Yu Yu Hakusho is an anime I've loved since I was back in college and while Gundam Wing was one of the first major fandoms I participated in, this one was a close second.  I even wrote a fanfic or two and my wifey loves it as well.  So I've cosplayed quite a few characters from the show.

Kuronue - From the first movie, Kuronue was the first character I leaned toward, just because of his design and interesting story.  I was quite upset that he wasn't included in the main series, but that didn't stop me from cosplaying him.

This costume was actually made with help from my mother.  She made the vest and white waist drape while I bought the wings (Hot Topic) and pants.  Then I made the hat from a spray painted straw hat from a local thrift store.  My father also made the scythe weapon which I still have to this day and it still looks awesome.

Pitfalls of this costume?  I couldn't figure out how to make the arm ribbons work, so I ended up using electrical tape on my arms.  While this worked, it meant that I had to pull them off each day and was left with red marks from the tape.  Not something I'd recommend.

Yomi - As an anime fan I've always been drawn to villains, especially when they have interesting stories.  Like Kuronue, Yomi's backstory with Kurama also interested me and I have a love for the military jackets that show up in quite a few different series.  Yomi quickly became one of my 'dream' costumes, that I honestly didn't think I could pull off, but then decided to just go for it and do. I made the jacket, wig and Shura plush.  I also made the ears from three pairs of cheap prosthetic ears, glued together.  Boots were borrowed from a friend, but they made the costume.

The wig is actually the part I'm the most proud of.  It started out as a normal cheap black Godiva style wig cut to the right length.  Then I made the horns out of paperclay, which dries to resemble bone, but is still soft enough that I could poke holes into it and sew them into a denim frame attached on the underside of the wig.  I totally made this up as I was going, because wig tutorials weren't a huge thing on the internet yet and it mostly worked.  My only regret is that I didn't take care of it, so now the wig is far too tangled to reuse, but I still have the jacket.

Mukuro - And finally, one more from the villains, though she's not really a villain, really.  Mukuro's backstory was awesome and I loved the fact that there was a female character that kicked ass and that I felt comfortable cosplaying and was within my skill level of creation.  (Hiei in the picture is my friend Strange Land Costuming.)

I bought the pants - some super comfortable pajama ones in the right color - and made the mask and top vest piece.  Sadly I don't have better pictures then this, but I remember it was a very comfortable costume to wear and still have most of the pieces, though they don't fit anymore.

All three of these costumes are quite old, but were the most fun.  Isn't it strange seeing me back before I made dresses and ballgowns?  To be honest, this was before I became more comfortable with my body and back then I didn't think I could pull off a female outfit and still look pretty.  Obviously I don't feel that way anymore, but I still had fun cosplaying even back then.

So here's a final throw back with the Wifey as Youko Kurama in a costume made for her by Strange Land Costuming.  Also, the other Kurama is our friend Rosanna.  The below picture was taken back in 2004 if that gives you any idea how old this is. ^__^

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1

What's it about?

What would our world be like if humans weren't at the top of the food chain?  Instead, in this alternate reality, there are creatures called Ghouls who look like humans, but feed on human flesh and have creepily deadly abilities they keep hidden from everyone else.  This is Kaneki's world, and it's not too different, until he wakes up from surgery with ghoul parts and a craving for human flesh.  Now he has to not only learn about the world of ghouls, but also learn how to survive what's left of his normal life.


Like most popular manga series out there, Tokyo Ghoul has an anime and that was my first exposure to the series.  Normally I would finish the anime first before even touching the manga (as I tend to like manga better and don't want to ruin the anime watching experience).  However this year has been a flurry of conventions and I haven't had the time to finish the anime and the manga was cheap at a con... so we couldn't resist. 

So which is better? I'm a bit torn, actually. 

The artist of the manga is quite good, better then a lot of manga I've seen recently.  If nothing else he certainly knows his medium and what it's capable of.  With reading the first volume I noticed a pattern of foreshadowing in many of the panels that I don't remember from the anime.  For example, all of the ghouls have a special ability that manifests as extra limbs when needed.  Touka's looks like a wing flying out her back and when you're first introduced to her and don't know what she is yet, there's a plant that perfectly mimics this effect behind her, hinting at what's to come.  Things like this are all over the manga and not integral to the story, but if you catch them it makes it that much more interesting and made want to read it a couple times to catch all the details. 

I also love how in the series Kaneki is an avid book worm and this is used to foreshadow the events his life flows through.  It's hinted at in the anime, but in the manga there's a mention in each of the chapters and it reminds me of the Shadow Girls from Revolutionary Girl Utena, though not as obvious.  It's an effective tool in the manga and a piece I love, but not something vital so I can see why it was mostly left out of the anime aside from a couple of mentions. 

As for what the anime got right, I would have to say Kaneki's reaction to his transformation and new life as a ghoul is portrayed much better in the anime.  Whether by design, or just as a result of having a much quicker story, the resulting shock and denial is much better polished in the anime.  In the manga it takes a couple chapters and the shock ends up being watered down and not as harsh.  I'm a much bigger fan of how the anime tackles this plot point, because it's more brutal and seems to more accurately portray how a person might react to such a huge change.  To put it simple, the store bought hamburger struck more of a cord then the scene in the manga.  

I think overall, I'm actually quite happy.  I like how different the two mediums are, least so far, and I think it's enough that it'll keep me from getting tired of one or the other.  At this point I'm looking forward to finishing both and comparing at the end.  I'm especially looking forward to see how they handle my favorite character - as I've heard there's quite a difference in that spot. 

Where'd I get it?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our last convention this year! Anime Fusion in Minnesota!

It's been a long year and we've traveled around a lot and met so many people!  We have one more convention this year and it's this weekend!

Stop by for our books and crafts, pillows, or just to chat.  We'll be in costume and, of course, we'll have information about the Kickstarter!

See you there and thanks for the awesome year!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

We'll be in Hudson WI this weekend at Library Con!

Yet another convention alert!

This weekend (October 15th) we'll be at Library Con in Hudson Wisconsin!

Stop by for our books and crafts, pillows, or just to chat.  We'll be in costume and, of course, we'll have information about the Kickstarter!

See you there!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

We'll be in Minneapolis MN this weekend at Gaylaxicon!

Convention alert!

This weekend (October 7-9) we're guests at Gaylaxicon in Minneapolis!

We'll have a table with our books and costumes and pillows as normal and it's during our 15 year anniversary!
Holy crap guys, 15 years!

Come see us at the con!  But don't forget, our kickstarter for MagnifiqueNoir is still running too!  If you haven't checked it out, you should.  It's Briana's new novel about a group of black, queer, magical girls who are just all around awesome!

See you there!!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

We'll be in Milwaukee WI this weekend!

Convention alert!

Now starts October, our crazy month of back to back cons!  
This weekend (Oct 1) we'll be Sci-fi Family Day at Discovery World!

We'll have a table with our books and costumes and pillows as normal!  

But, bonus!!

As the Kickstarter for magnifiqueNOIR starts on Monday, we'll also have the preview books there and an easy QR code to get to the Kickstarter page!  We hope you stop by!

See you there!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ConLife: Artist Alley 101 - Before You Step Into the Ring

Welcome to ConLife! Where in I tackle some of the questions people have asked about us travelling to so many conventions a year and selling our crafts, books and costumes. Have questions? Comment with them and let me know what you'd like me to answer!
We've all done it.  

So you arrive at the convention for the weekend, costumes packed securely in your suitcase, anime shirt and hoodie comfortably in place and wallet full of cash to spend in the dealer's room.  While you're meeting up with friends from around the country whom you only see a couple times a year, you decide to make a stop off into the Artist Alley room and take a look at the art being offered and if they have your new favorite pairing.  And somewhere, in that room full of art, you notice that these artists have suitcases of art and a table set up - and they're making money instead of spending it.  That's not too different from you is it?  Besides you can draw too, right?

You're right - and you're not.  Let me explain.

The point of this article is to give you a bit of a back door look into the world of Artist Alley and conventions.  This isn't a discussion on if you can draw/sew/sculpt and/or craft.  In fact, what you plan to make and sell doesn't really matter here, and it might even apply to full fledged vendors.  Instead I want to explore the background stuff you may not realize that goes into an Artist Alley table, even before the first item is sold and things you certainly should consider if you want to start.

1. Organization
Running an Artist Alley table is a lot of background work, so being organized is a solid key.  From convention rules, to expenses, orders, supplies and just money in general, there's a lot of information that can pile up fast.  Not to mention just keeping track of where your crafting supplies are in your own home.  It's really easy to get stressed out really fast, so if you're diving into this, attempt to be organized from the start - it'll save you a lot of headache in the future.  And trust me, you'll learn what information you need to keep track of as you go to make your life and business easier.

Simple bookkeeping can go a long way with this too. Bookmark the cons you're looking at and peruse their forums and sites for their rules. Keep track of your receipts when you make a few items and take notes. What takes you longer, what sort of things should you remember? Get used to keep track of a lot of things, because you'll need to if you start getting into this seriously.

2. Business
There's that scary word.  Running an Artist Alley table is fundamentally a small business and comes with many things that this word entails: especially customer service.  Being able to sell your craft is great and you will have people who love your stuff.  But you will also encounter people who are displeased with your item, your style, your skill etc.  The ability to put on a smile and be polite until they move to the next table is a needed skill and will help you in the long run.  You don't have to agree with them, but you do have to be polite so that they'll move on and you can spend more time with another customer who is willing to spend money.  This goes for anime series too... you may find yourself having to pretend to like a series you can't stomach just to make a fanboy or fangirl happy.  It's ok, it comes with the territory.

3. Self Care
Sitting behind a table for a weekend is easy right?  After all, you're not required to do anything other then talk and collect money and it seems like a win/win.  However, consider that some Artist Alleys can be open for 12 hours at a time and often it's a cramped space that may be hard to get in and out of, depending on your setup and how close the tables are together.  You'll need to figure out how you're going to handle bathroom and food breaks - especially if you're manning the table alone - and you WILL need them.  Pack some snacks that will tide you over throughout the day, and make sure to have plenty of water.  Have a friend that can jump behind your table to cover it while you disappear to the bathroom, or at least have a sign and let your neighbor know where you're disappearing to.  They may not be able to sell your items, but they can at least make sure nothing is swiped while you're gone.  Trust me, dehydration headaches are not something you want to go to sleep with and sitting at your table looking miserable because you're hungry is not a sign of strength, it will only hurt your sales. Plus, if you plan on going to more and more cons, keep in mind that you're the one making and selling your art, if you get sick, there is no replacement you can call in until you get better.

4. Schedule
As an average con goer you have a preferred schedule.  You have the panels you love, the friends you meet up with, the costumes you wear and masquerades and raves to attend.  The hard reality of manning an Artist Alley table is that you're likely not going to be able to do most of these.  

If you're running the table by yourself, that's especially true, but even if you have a friend to help you will have to cut down.  The simple truth is that you will sell your items the best, so you need to be at the table.  You can't set up a table and expect your friends to run it for you while you still enjoy the convention - you have to be there.  Beyond this, your sleep schedule will be wildly different from others you might be rooming with.  Since setup for the Artist Alley may be around 7am, going to a rave each night might not be the best idea if you want to avoid the con plague and return to normal life in one piece.  The same is true for elaborate costumes - you'll need to make sure they can fit behind your table and you can sit in them for long periods of time without hampering the other artists around you.  Changes will likely have to be made to how you normally 'con', so keep this in mind and plan accordingly. The nice thing is, your friends will have an easy time finding you throughout the entire con.

5. After Con Work
For someone who has an Artist Alley table, the work doesn't stop at closing ceremonies.  We pack up our bags and head home, usually with a list of items to make for customers who've already paid and for future con tables.  Even if you're not like us veterans and don't have two to three cons a month, you will still have to do some work after the convention.  Chief among this is your internet presence - because people will want to contact you after seeing your table.  Be it a customer who couldn't afford something at the con and now can, or just a random person who wants more of what you had - people will be looking for you.  So building a website, having a Facebook, twitter or instagram is pretty much a necessity.  Business cards are also a thing of wonder to pass out while at your table and to keep on you at all times. Crafting and selling doesn't stop after that weekend, you'll find as time goes on there will always be more to do.

Artist Alley isn't just a fun weekend job, there's a lot more that goes into it.  Your mileage may vary, of course, and there really is no one perfect way to run a successful table. Instead, part of the draw of the Artist Alley is the variety in that room.  From the range of crafts to how people handle it as a business or a hobby, you could spend years collecting all the different tips and tricks.  The true answer is that the more cons you go to, the more you'll learn about how to do this right and your way.  So maybe keep this as a small checklist in your back-pocket as you're packing that new suit case.  Enjoy the weekend and keep your eyes open, adjust what doesn't work and make note of what does.  Before you know it you'll be a well oiled machine and conventions will be just like the back of your hand, and you'll be sharing your own works in the process and having fun - which really is the most exciting part.

Jessica and Briana (Snow & Brichibi Cosplays) travel to about 15 conventions a year, dressing up in costumes, giving panels about writing and body positivity. Frequently at these conventions you can find us in Artist Alley or the Dealer's Room selling their novels, art and costumes. Got some questions about Artist Alley and the convention life we live? Just comment and maybe it'll be the next subject I cove on my blog!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Fear the Walking Dead - Season 1

Right off the bat, if you're here on my blog you probably already know that I have a serious love for zombie related stories.  It's not so much the falling apart creatures that pique my interest, but rather what effect they have on the humans around them as they slowly (or quickly) take over.  That added to the fact that at this point I've seen about 5 seasons of The Walking Dead and I finally decided to give this one a shot. 

What's it about?

Fear the Walking Dead is the prequel to the popular Walking Dead series, telling the story of the beginning of the zombie plague.  We join a whole new cast of characters on their journey to adjust and survive with the ever spreading virus.


If you notice, I haven't really done any reviews on The Walking Dead series, and likely that'll remain the case.  it's not that I don't like the series, but I honestly like it less then a lot of other things I've been watching and thanks to repedative storylines, characters being stupid and a lack of diversity it has become a background series for while I sew and feel the need to occassionally watch zombies. 

In contrast, I've impressed with FTWD much more, and I'm not sure I can pin it down to any one factor, but I'll at least try to discuss a few.  Warning, spoilers may be a thing for the first season. 

So the first thing that caught me on FTWD was the story.  I don't know about anyone else, but the part I love about zombies is people adjusting to it, and the original series missed that because when the main character woke up, the invasion and infection had already happened.  Here we don't have that, instead we have a mixed family that is already trying to navigate combining their children and households and drug addicted son tossed right into the middle of the outbreak.  Each deals with it in a different way and I love how the large extended family dynamic played into it with their different loyalties.  (Take note Walking Dead, THIS is what you can do with a diverse cast of characters from different cultures and backgrounds.  THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.)

The character of the son, Nick, and his addiction is the most interesting dynamic and I'm happy to see they didn't treat it as a single plot point throughout the show.  He's addicted to heroin and quite often we see him acting much like a zombie while he's high, or freaking out because he can't get to his next fix.  He creates a very interesting mirror to hold up to the outbreak and he himself knows it and states so in the show.  Nick isn't generally the type of character I would like and identify with, but the writers use him beautifully in the context. 

I've already touched on the diverse cast, but it bears repeating.  Not only do we have the standard suburban house wife deals with the hoard troupe, but we're also presented with very specific pieces of immigrant culture, spanish culture, other languages, the moral pull between being a mother and a nurse, having to deal with your ex and his new family and a whole host of things.  I really feel that the front runners for this show heard the complaints about the Walking Dead's habit of only having one black character at a time (in Georgia?  REALLY?) and that when a new one comes in the older one is killed off and took it to heart.  I really do hope that this cast remains as interesting and diverse as it is, even when people start getting killed off.

I'm also a huge fan of how the zombies aren't such a big part of this show.  True to the state of a spreading infection, in the beginning they won't be as prevelant and they aren't.  Instead they're treated more as set pieces who complicate the characters lives.  This is perfect writing.  The threat is there and it's imminent, but people still have lives and their own feelings to deal with.  I especially love the mother, Madison, dealing with her home being turned into a make shift hospital in their little refugee camp and not being able to cope with that and her son's addiction.  It makes them all more human and gives me much more hope for this series then the other.

In conclusion?
I'm watching more as soon as I can get it!

Where'd I get it?

Currently I'm watching the series on Hulu, but they only have season 1.  I'm keeping my eye out for season 2 and I'm sure I'll be watching it as soon as it's up. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Blog Tour - Waiting for Patrick by Brynn Stein

Welcome to my blog tour for Waiting for Patrick. I’m offering giveaways of one signed copy, one electronic copy, and a choice of one title from my backlist. Comment below and at any of my other blog stops (posted below) to be entered to win. One comment, one entry. Dreamspinner is offering my other paranormal titles (Haunted, Lifeline, and What No One Else Can Hear ) for $0.99 during “Weekend Reads” on September 2, 3, and 4, in honor of Waiting for Patrick being my ninth published book. Waiting for Patrick will be available at a discounted price throughout the tour (September 1 through 15). Winners of the raffle will be announced on September 16th.


Architect Elliot Graham has bought and restored dozens of historic homes to their original splendor. As in his personal life, he loves them and leaves them, selling them off without looking back. But there’s something about the old plantation house he finds in South Carolina—a connection he can’t explain. He feels as though he recognizes the house, as if within its crumbling walls he might find something he doesn’t even realize he’s lost.
Ben Myers had promised his lover and soul mate, Patrick, that he would wait for his return. Ben has kept his word ever since Patrick left him to wait at the plantation house—during the Civil War. For the first time in many long years, Ben is no longer alone, and he reaches out to Elliot in dreams. Elliot tries to convince Ben that Patrick isn’t coming back, but Ben’s devotion is about to change not only his lonely existence, but Elliot’s life as well.
Buy Link:

About the Author
Brynn has always loved to write about strong male characters and their close friendships. When she found the world of m/m fiction, she fell in love. Finally, a way to bring those strong male characters together and let those emotional connections spill over into deeper relationships. Sometimes her characters go through the emotional wringer, but they always have each other.
Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who support her writing and sometimes act as proof readers. Both of her daughters are also aspiring writers and hopefully it'll just be a matter of time before they have their own author's biography.
Brynn was a teacher by profession for thirty years. She worked in special education with children with emotional disabilities. She has recently changed careers and is now working as a mental health counselor to this same population and their families. When she is not working or writing, she loves to draw and paint. She also gets outside as often as she can, reads anything that doesn't move out of the way, and is always looking for her next story.

Contact Brynn:

Other Blog Stops

Blog Name
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September 1st
Bike Book Reviews
September 2nd
Drops of Ink
Anne Barwell
September 2nd
Snow's Untangled Threads and Musings
Snow Tigra
September 3rd
Antonia Aquilante
Antonia Acquilante
September 3rd
The Story Struggle and Beyond
Ki Brightly
September 4th
Thianna Durston
Thianna Durston
September 4th
Unconventional Love Stories
Charley Descoteaux
September 4th
Misadventures of the Heart
Heloise West
September 5th
Sandra Bard
Sandra Bard
September 5th
Tempest O'Riley
Tempe O'Riley
September 6th
Jackie Keswick
Jackie Keswick
September 7th
Chaos in the Moonlight
K-lee Kline
September 8th
Grace R. Duncan
Grace Duncan
September 8th
Brita Addams
Brita Addams
September 8th
Cryselle's Bookshelf
September 9th
Emotion in Motion 
Elizabeth Noble
September 9th
MM Good Books Review

September 10th
Jacob Z Flores
Jacob Flores
September 11th
Andrew's Blog
Andrew Grey
September 12th
Nicki J Marcus
Nicki Marcus
September 12th
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Marc Fleischhauer
September 13th
PD Singer
PD Singer
September 14th
Our Story LGBTQ Historical Fiction
Christopher Moss
September 15th
Renee Stevens
Renee Stevens
September 15th
Purple Rose Tea House
Charlie Cochet
September 15th
Open Skye Book Reviews

September 15th
The Novel Approach Reviews
Lisa (Novel Approach)
Throughout the Tour
Book Trailer on YouTube
Lex Valentine