Archive for October, 2013


This was just one entrance-way on one of the slower days. Look at all those people!!

As some of you may already know, I recently went to New York Comic-Con. It’s a bit smaller than the San Diego Comic-Con, but it’s full of nerds and nerdy things, and therefore it felt like home.

Comic-Con is a great place for people who are passionate about nearly any kind of entertainment. Comic-Con covers books and comics, movies, television shows, video games, and art. There is quite literally something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of the biggies — like Harry Potter, Doctor Who, or the Avengers — or if you like the the strange and obscure — like Homestuck, Adventure Time, or just about any type of manga.

It’s a place where nerds can feel welcome no matter their preferences or level of fangirl. Funny t-shirts and ornate cosplays are around every corner, and the bigger, nerdier, and more detailed you are, the more impressive you’ll be.

New York Comic-Con was smaller than San Diego, so it was a little easier for me to see the phenomenon of strangers-becoming-friends this time, more so than I did back in July.

It began with a group of girls who were sitting down next to me, resting or waiting until the next activity started (I was frantically typing up an article for Hypable and trying to decide if sawing off my own feet would actually be less painful than wearing the boots I had chosen that day). Another girl, someone this group didn’t know, approached them and asked for a picture. The girls jumped up and posed without question, and then the six or so of them began talking.


The best Kaylee cosplay I’ve ever seen in my life. Whoawhoawhoawhoa.

It was fascinating to see something like this happen, especially somewhere like New York. But people have such strong identities with their fandoms that strangers no longer feel like strangers. A cosplay costume or a snarky shirt is like a neon sign hanging over your head that says I GET YOU in a language only certain people can read. If you come across a person who can read that language, you’re no longer strangers but people who have a special kind of connection.

While I won’t deny that computers and phones have vastly decreased the amount of face-to-face communication that exists in the world, I have to laugh at those people that feel like it destroys our (i.e. my generation’s) ability to talk to other people. Quite the opposite, actually. I can pick a Teen Wolf fan out of a crowd and instantly have something to talk to them about. And I did just that at Comic-Con. Friends are instant when you share a passion for something as strongly as those do who go to conventions.

In fact, I met up with a couple of people I met through various television shows, and they felt like friends I had known for years. We had so much to talk about even though it was our first time actually seeing each other. In a city where I feel uncomfortable walking up to just any old person and striking up a conversation, something like that is such a comfort amongst the hoards of people crawling through the Javitz center.

Relationships are kindled when you’re waiting in line for hours, hoping you’ll get into a panel. Or when you see someone whose work you appreciate. Or when you meet a person you listen to on a podcast every week. The connections you form with people over the internet are no less important and strong than those you may meet “in real life.” And I think you, blog readers and writers, can understand that more than most.

The moral of the story is that conventions may serve to bring you exclusive information and cool souvenirs and awesome memories, but they can also bring you genuine friendship and a camaraderie with people you may never meet again. And to me, that’s just one more reason to go to nerdtastic conventions like Comic-Con.

The other day I saw a kettle of hawks.

This was a thing I didn’t even know existed. As many people are aware, hawks are fairly solitary creatures. There are obviously variations between different species, but on the whole, hawks usually only come together to mate. But sometimes they come together to migrate, too.

This is called a kettle. A kettle of hawks can contain hundreds, even thousands of hawks. The one I saw was about fifty-strong, and looked a lot like this.

We could tell they were hawks because of the way they were flying and because we could just barely make out their brown feathers.

I was kind of blown away. It felt majestic, like I was witnessing something few people have seen. I doubt that’s true, but this group of hawks really struck me in a certain way. Here we have these creatures that would much prefer to hunt and fly alone, coming together to migrate south.

According to this article, hawks flock together in order to find warm air currents (thermals) that can make their trip south — which often constitutes thousands of miles — that much easier.

Naturally, this made me think of writers.

Writers are solitary creatures. At the very least, we prefer to work alone. Others (like me) prefer to be alone even when we’re not writing. This is not a bad quality — the hawks can attest to that — and is nothing to be ashamed of.

But sometimes we need help, just like the hawks trying to find their way to a warmer climate. Writers need email buddies, sounding boards, and shoulders to cry on. They need Twitter followers and Facebook friends and blog readers.

And that’s what’s great about the writing community, and the WANA community that Kristen Lamb has set up. We can be solitary whenever we want. We can hunt and fly on our own, but when we need someone to lead us in the right direction, there will be a whole group waiting in the wings for us.

In fact, I think we should start calling a group of writers a “kettle” of writers. It sounds more than appropriate, don’t you think?

The Eve Genome CoverThe Eve Genome is finally live and in color! I had a hand in editing this book (which is always exciting, especially when I see my name on Amazon), and I’m proud to offer it to you guys as a recommendation.

This book is about a girl named Adriana whose blood type is nothing that anyone has ever seen before. To solve the mystery, she has to delve into her family’s past and figure out what makes her so different. Kalan, meanwhile, acts as both a welcome distraction and a clue to her family’s secret. But he may be hiding more than he’s letting on, too…

This is pulled right from my Amazon review:

I’ve never quite read a story like The Eve Genome. It was one of those rare stories where I didn’t know exactly how it was going to end. Full of interesting characters and fascinating science, I was sucked into the story right away. Joanne Brothwell doesn’t hold back at any point in this book, and it’s obvious from page to page that she went all out. Besides, just look at that cover! Beautiful.

Seriously, though. That cover. I can’t stop looking at it.

You can find Joanne on Facebook and Twitter, along with on her website. Find The Eve Genome on Amazon and buy a copy! And if her name sounds familiar, it’s probably because I also recommended another book she wrote a while back. There’s a reason why I keep coming back for more, and that’s because I really love her style.

If you guys read this, or any of her other books, please let me know what you think!

The final mushroom foray took place in September, and I finally made it to this one. Last year things just didn’t work out, so I’m glad I got the opportunity this time around. It was a fantastic foray with tons of finds and, best yet, tons of food!

We were mostly looking for hen of the woods at this foray, which is a gigantic mushroom that people are always after. Having had some at the last foray, I can attest to the fact that it’s delicious.

At this foray, we found tons of mushrooms — most of which I can’t identify. Most seemed to grow on trees or fallen logs…




That last one looked super cool. I’ve never seen so many grouped together like that! I feel like there were puffballs of all sorts all over the place. It got to the point where I was so sick of seeing them — it was like they were everywhere you turned!


Some puffballs you can eat, but not if they look like this on the inside:


They need to be pure white!

We didn’t just find mushrooms, either. I saw this cool tree and just had to take a picture of it. It reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings.


And when we were walking near the edge of someone else’s property, these dogs came over and barked at us. The white one is a Great Dane, which is my favorite kind of dog ever. Ugh, I want one so bad.


The group’s haul when we got back to base was pretty amazing. Look at all those mushrooms!



All I could think about was the food and how much of it I was going to eat. This was just my first plate…


They had the black trumpet cream cheese spread there that I can never get enough of. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful.

Some awesome mushrooms that were found include the massive one below and the little orange blobs beneath that. So cool.



There were tons of these gem-studded puffballs, too. This is seriously only a tiny, tiny fraction of what was out in the woods.


I was pretty proud that I found one of these, too. They’re called russula compactas, and I really had to dig for the one I spotted!


Another mushroom I found was this amazing amanita (very poisonous). I wasn’t allowed to dig it up (bummer!) because someone was doing a study on them and we had to preserve it right where we found it.


That’s wraps up this year’s foray posts. I’m sure I’ll have more once spring/summer 2014 hits. If anything, I think my obsession with mushrooms is getting worse. Have you found any cool mushrooms recently? What about other things out in nature? As writers, we tend to coop ourselves up with our computers most of the time, but it’s just as important to go outside and get inspired that way, too!










The Monday morning lazy blog update

Posted: October 21, 2013 in General

Morning, guys! Today I’ve just got a general update for you, as this past week has totally kicked my butt (hence the not updating).

First of all, I survived Comic-Con in New York City! It was great and I had a blast. Pictures to come soon!

I’ve been mostly keeping myself busy reviewing books for Hypable, so be sure to check out our book section for some good recommendations, cool features and exclusive interviews. There’s something for everyone there.

If you’re a fan of podcasts, I can’t recommend enough our Book Hype podcast (which I’m a part of!). We have some excellent discussions and widely varied opinions. We do book reviews, talk about news in the industry, have some really interesting questions to answer, and even have a special guest now and then!

And, of course, if you like Once Upon a Time  and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, you can check out my Onceable podcast. For Teen Wolf, we have Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast. And, finally, we have ReWatchable, where we rewatch awesome television shows that may have ended too early (or are just too great not to revisit). Currently we’re watching Veronica Mars. Those are just the podcasts I’m on, though. We have quite a few more on the site!

For those of you that are new here, you can follow me on Goodreads, where I like to post reviews about the books I’ve read, on Facebook, where I talk about all of my projects and writing, or Twitter, where I mostly just fangirl all day long. 🙂

Feel free to post your own links, and I’ll follow you too!

Right now, I’m just starting Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit by Octavia Spencer (yes, THAT Octavia Spencer), and I want to know, What are you reading right now?

I’m in New York City right now, hopefully having a blast at the New York Comic-Con. I’m travelling on press credentials thanks to my job at And I am so ready to have fun!

This year, I’m mostly looking forward to seeing a couple of the Teen Wolf cast members, but I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of other stuff for me to do as well. I’ve never been to NYCC before, but if it’s even a fraction as cool as SDCC was, I know I’ll have a blast.

I’m looking forward to meeting a couple of authors, as well as a few artists I really respect. Whoo hoo for creative people!

I’ll be sure to report back once I return and recuperate. Send me lots of happy nerd thoughts!

This post is part cake pop disaster, part mushroom foray, and part birthday celebration.

It began with a cake pop disaster. For those of you who don’t know, cake pops are pretty much what they sound like: little cakes on sticks. You basically bake a whole cake, crumble it up, mix in some frosting, mold them, freeze them, then dunk them in chocolate. They’re horrifyingly sweet in the best way possible, and actually quite good.

So, since our August foray happened to fall on my dad’s birthday. I decided to make mushroom-shaped cake pops. Yeah! They were going to be so awesome! Yeah! And everyone would think I was clever and cool. Double yeah!

But…that didn’t happen.

Basically, I started off with the crumbled cake. (Yummy!)


And I balled them up. (How cute!)


And then I laboriously shaped them into mushrooms. (Okay, this is getting harder.)


And then I tried dipping them into chocolate. AND IT WAS A DISASTER.

I don’t have pictures of this step because I was about ready to knock the house down with my bare hands. It was 10:00 at night the day before, and I had five — I repeat, FIVE — cake pops that were done and not ruined. So I changed tactics. I wrapped up those cake pops and gave them to Dad, and made some cupcakes and brought them to the foray instead.

It worked out in the end, but it was a letdown. I so wanted to share those cake pops with everyone! Oh, well. At least Dad liked them. Here’s one of the better ones that I made:


But otherwise, we had a blast at this foray. We were looking for hen of the woods and chanterelles mostly, and we got to eat both, along with some more sulphur shelf, which we got to eat at another one too.

Here are the two tables we filled with all the mushrooms we found.

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Here are the chanterelles we found. They were so yummy!


Here’s just a little bit of all the food I ate. It’s always mushroom heaven there.


And here are some of the cool mushrooms I saw.


This one is called a rooted ootie (or something to that effect — I can’t find it online!). Pretty wild, right!?


Coral mushroom….looks like coral!


A type of amanita. These are deadly!


Hen of the woods. These get huge! (And they taste good too!)


Another type of amanita.

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All in all, Dad and I had a great time. (Just look at the mud on my boots. You know I was having fun!)


And I got him this super awesome walking stick for his birthday, featuring a wood spirit and a morel mushroom! It’s hand carved on hawthorn and is absolutely GORGEOUS.


And sometimes, when he holds it, he likes to pretend he’s Gandalf. And I can no longer claim that I’m adopted. We’re just too similar, you guys.


It’s sort of a rhetorical question because, yes, there are some things that are still surprising. But more on that in a minute.

I watch a lot of television and movies, and I read a lot of books. I don’t get taken by surprise too often. It’s not actually a bad thing — more often than not we know how the journey will end, but it’s the act of going on that journey that is the most interesting part.

Any action movie or adventure book can attest to this. Nine times out of ten the hero will save the day, get the girl, and blow stuff up. By the end of the movie we know that most of the main characters will be alive, the problem will be solved, and everyone will pretty much go home happy.

Is there a problem with an ending like that? Not usually, no. It’s satisfying, even if we knew it was coming. It’s what leads up to that point that makes the story interesting. It’s not the “if,” it’s the “how.”

Dexter PosterBut sometimes I just really want to be shocked, you know? I want to be totally blindsided by a plot or a character’s motivations. I want to never see it coming and have it literally knock me off my feet. It’s fun to be that surprised after feeling like you’ve figured out the plot of something ten minutes or ten pages into a new story.

Last week I talked about how Fringe did this to me. It was a great feeling. But then as I was watching Dexter, I figured out exactly who the major evil villain guy was an episode or two before the big reveal. It wasn’t exactly hard — you just think about whose betrayal would have the biggest impact on the characters, and there you have it.

It’s sort of a catch-22 isn’t it? You want your big reveal to have impact and be believable. But oftentimes, in order for that to happen, you have to lay the groundwork of that plot, which can show up as a big, flashing neon sign. If you don’t lay that groundwork, the reveal will be shocking, but it won’t have the impact you were hoping for. If it’s just a random person, it won’t affect your main characters as much as if it were their best friend.

I think the best way to solve this problem is with red herrings. You want it to seem like the bad guy (or whatever shocking thing you’re trying to keep secret — it doesn’t have to be a villain) could be multiple people. Or you want to lead your audience in one direction, and then pull them in the other at the last second. This doesn’t always work either, because sometimes a change in direction like that can be anticipated, but it’s definitely worth a try.

What do you think? Do you have trouble being surprised by the turn of events you witness on screen or in a book? Without giving away spoilers (just in case!), what’s a shocking moment you remember that really took you off guard?

abandoned hope FOR KINDLEAnother quick book recommendation for you guys! Today I’ve got Affliction Z: Abandoned Hope by L.T. Ryan. It’s a zombie apocalypse book, and it’s good. It’s got a lot of action, and it really moves fast. The world feels super real, and you can’t help but be worried that this might just happen some day.

Here’s the review I wrote for Hypable:

Abandoned Hope, much like Patient Zero, combines a military thriller with the zombie genre. Fast paced and quick witted, this is a book that will have you turning from page to page in order to see what happens next.

Tough girls and smart guys litter each scene. In a world where the humans are just as deadly as the afflicted, there’s no one you can trust. That sets the tone of the entire book, and will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

The details are what drive the story, from the types of weapons to the validity of the secure underground bunkers, this world feels close and maybe a little too real.

You can check out the book on Amazon. And find the Facebook page for the series here.

I promise one of these days I’ll stop talking about television and get back to things like books and writing. But can you blame me? The Fall TV lineup is in full force, and I’m being inundated by wonderful new stories and characters. I love it!

One of those shows is Agents of SHIELD. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s basically a spinoff TV series of The Avengers. It exists in the Marvel universe and details the goings-on of the level 7 agents in SHIELD. The first two episodes have already aired, and it’s quality television. And it’s so nice to be getting more from the Marvel universe on a weekly basis.

So, why should you be watching?

  1. Agents of ShieldCoulson lives! That’s right, Agent Coulson did not perish in The Avengers. Well, he did. But then something happened in Tahiti. I won’t give away many details, though. Not that there are many. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the major mysteries of the series. And I’m so excited to suffer through the agonizing clues and tid-bits we’ll hopefully be getting every week.
  2. Fitz-Simmons. Fitz and Simmons are just plain adorable. They’ve both got amazing accents and are super cute. And super smart. They’re not field agents, which makes them a little bit of a liability when guns are a-blazing. But boy to they have the brains. And they put them to good use too. That’s my favorite kind of hero. 🙂
  3. They’re just humans. SHIELD is a division of the government, and they’re all humans. There are no superheroes here, although they are highly trained individuals. There’s nothing wrong with the likes of Captain America or Thor or the Hulk, but it’s nice to have those Average Joes around to save the day once in a while. Especially in a world that’s going crazy now that everyone knows aliens exist.
  4. Amazing tech. Seriously. I was super impressed by the first episode and all of the little gadgets they brought out. Fitz has these awesome drones that have the seven dwarves’ names (so cute) that both him and Simmons talk to. (Did I mention Fitz-Simmons are adorable?)
  5. It’s got a little bit of everything. You like superheroes? Check. What about secret agent stuff? Double check. Great characters? Funny dialogue? Sci-fi elements? Check, check, and check. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy at least one element of this show. It’s just getting started, and yet I’m already invested in the long haul. But, hey. That’s what happens when you put “Joss Whedon” in a sentence and pair it up with, well, just about anything.

Are you watching Agents of SHIELD? Who’s your favorite character so far?