The Ghost Bride: Chinese Folklore and Ramen

Yangsze Choo

Yangsze Choo (Photo credit: eekim)

So I recently finished The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo (who also narrated the audio book), recommended to me by Stephanie Cain who predicted I’d enjoy the Asian folklore and supernatural elements. I did. Continue reading

The Angels of West Baden

Inside the atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel.

Inside the atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may not have heard of the West Baden hotel, which is a shame. It was built in the town of West Baden Springs, near the better-known today French Lick, and was a luxury hotel to offer the wealthy leisure and access to the natural phenomena of the area — mineral springs considered medicinal.

Today’s travelogue is a bit different, since while I’ve visited West Baden, this isn’t that trip. It’s just the necessary backdrop. Continue reading

I (Heart) Vampires

Illustration in Carmilla, Joseph Sheridan Le F...

Illustration in Carmilla, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I (blood-red heart) vampires. Not any particular incarnation of them (though there are some incarnations I do particularly dislike), but the mythos of them. Creeping, skulking, life-stealing, blood-drinking, vein-piercing, sexual-metaphor-but-not-sexy-themselves vampires.

How do I love vampires? Let me count the ways. Continue reading

Where Do Plot Ideas Come From?

There’s a joke among fiction writers about people who offer, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a book. You write it and then we’ll split the profits.”

There are a few problems with this, but one of the most obvious is that the idea is the easiest bit. It’s the writing that actually takes time. Ideas are everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a walk and look for plot ideas. How about last week’s Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio? Continue reading

Books By People I Actually Know

I know. I’ve heard your sighs in the dark before the dawn, when you thought no one was listening. I’ve seen your eyes slip over the bookstore windows, your fingers brush the keys as you open a browser to Amazon. It’s okay. You can tell me.

You nod. “I don’t mean to complain, Laura, but…. It’s just that, well, I keep reading all of these amazing household-name authors — people like Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman and Stephen King and George R. R. Martin and other superstars. And don’t get me wrong, I love superstars, but….” You sigh wistfully. “What I really want is some recommendations for mid-list or less known authors. Ones I can brag on having read early on, you know, before. And — I know it’s too much to dream, but if they could be writers who you actually know, Laura, that would just be perfect.”

Well, grab your hipster glasses, because here are some recommendations for 2013 titles by authors I know, and you’ve probably never heard of them. Yet. Continue reading

Gen Con, the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Ninja

Geekery, fiction, and ninja — that’s a pretty typical day in my life, actually…. Continue reading

How I Use Ebooks Differently

Reading (process)

(Photo credits: www.mysafetylabels.com)

I found this quote while flipping through an older book on the publishing process, in a section on electronic publishing:

“…Will [electronic publishing] ever be more than an intriguing fringe for a literary avant garde and those who just can’t make it in traditional publishing?” Continue reading

Peter Cushing and Asian Folklore

Peter CushingImagine my delight when I stumbled upon the Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon and realized it tied directly to Asian folklore and therefore I could totally justify a blog post.

Cushing had a long and varied career, playing everyone from Sherlock Holmes to the Sheriff of Nottingham, but even those who aren’t film buffs will remember him as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (as pictured here), one of the few who could successfully tell Darth Vader when to step off.

But Cushing had a particular niche in horror films, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today — specifically, his role as Van Helsing in a kung fu zombie vampire movie.

You read that right. Continue reading

An Outsider’s Perspective

Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by...

Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Noel Paton: fairies in Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just came home from opening night at the Indiana Reperatory Theatre‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I gave it a glowing review, but I wanted to comment on a technique they used which made the play more accessible. (And let’s be honest, Shakespeare often unnecessarily intimidates potential audiences, just because of the language and reputation.) Continue reading

Ben-Hur: Drama, Conflict, and Parody

Cover of "Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's ...

Cover of Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector’s Edition)I love Ben Hur.

I love Ben-Hur.

Yes, it’s become somewhat fashionable in recent years for critics to wave their hands disdainfully at the film which was previously held in such esteem. Fine, they can have their pretense of superior taste. And okay, sure, trends in acting have changed in the last half-century. But I still love the film.

No, seriously, I once calculated that I’ve spent maybe half a week or so of my life watching Ben-Hur. Step aside, amateurs. Continue reading