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Author of off-kilter sci fi/fantasy books. Fond of apocalyptic and fantastical things. Known for phuquerie. I bite. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BGWZRCW

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Brief Response to #GamerGate

Hello hello!

This is probably one of the scariest posts I've ever written. Merely mentioning #GamerGate, the misogynist scandal that's been setting the gaming world on fire, is grounds for online attacks, vicious comments, and doxxing. (Doxxing is the release of personal information, such as someone's address.) I've avoided talking about it because there were better and more prominent people who have already said their bit. There's also the whole thing with Felicia Day getting doxxed the minute she wrote a compassionate post about the topic.

I'm not Felicia Day. I'm not even a particularly good gamer; a lot of my gaming is done from the backseat. But I cried over Mordin's death, shuddered at Dead Space's Stalkers, spend hours every day in a gothic underworld, laugh at reviews, and I can tell you who some of the top stars in DOTA 2 are--as well as their original teams and the shakeups that happened after the recent international.

My point is, I'm still enough of a gamer to give a crap about this. And because I'm a feminist on the internet, I care even more. I'm probably safe, due to my relative anonymity, but merely opening my face and mentioning the topic is a risk. Well, it's still worth talking about.

Gamergate is not about "responsibility in gaming journalism". Zoe Quinn did nothing wrong, but her ex-boyfriend made allegations that she'd cheated on him with a gaming journalist--which didn't result in a career bump of any kind, and which happened while they were on a break. Furthermore, it's none of our business what a woman does with her body, regardless of who she is or where she works. Anyway. The other target has been Anita Sarkeesian. I don't agree with every bit of her analysis, but she's very good at evaluating things according to trends. She's good at providing an intro to feminism. And for this, and for calling out the gaming industry on sexist writing issues, she's gotten death threats and bomb threats.

If the Gamergate crowd actually wanted to make gaming journalism and people within the industry more responsible, they'd stop threatening physical violence and act like real journalists themselves. They'd do their research. They'd focus on things that matter, like the 322 match-fixing issue that's setting the DOTAverse on fire right now. They would stop going after women who haven't done anything wrong.

And if the actual gaming journalists and reviewers were responsible human beings, they'd address their fanbase and tell them to stop making bomb threats, doxxing people, and harassing them. A few have, but a few other prominent celebrities have just put an unintentional seal of approval on events. Still others haven't said anything, which is worse.

So, how do we stop Gamergate? We address it. We, as geeks, stand together and say that we will not support people who make sexist attacks or death threats against other fellow geeks. Or non-geeks. Or anyone. The thing is, "we" needs to include everyone--not just the feminists and PoC. We need the white dudebros who don't want to be represented by Gamergate to speak up, to reject what a few handfuls of lonely, hurt, reactionary people have said about women and gaming.

This is starting to happen. And sexism is starting to become unacceptable. Unfortunately, people still do it without realising that they're saying something awful.

Which brings me to a Yahtzee Croshaw article that made me so sad, I lost sleep over it. But that'll have to wait until next time.

***

 Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog for more. 



Friday, 24 October 2014

Fetch Is Never Gonna Happen: Bildungsroman Movies, Part 3

Hello hello!

So, after this post and this post, we finally come to to what I said I'd cover in the first entry--which movies were actually good? Which ones sucked? Why? And would it be illegal to kill a fictional character?


Why do some movies suck and others rock?


TV, books, movies, music--at some level, once you cover basic levels of competence and present things well, it's up to the audience. Some things resonate, and others just don't. Some people relate to a character, others want to shiv him in the kidneys with a rusty car key (Hi, Duckie). So, with the emphasis on subjectivity in mind, I'm abandoning objectivity a bit here to focus on what I liked and didn't like in these films. Instead of focusing on individual characters, movies, or plots, I'm going to pick and choose from tropes.


The good:


Strong, three-dimensional female protagonists. They aren't all good girls, and they don't necessarily trade up their dreams for love and a magical weenie, either. Diane in Say Anything, Kate in Ten Things I Hate about You, and of course, Veronica from the The Heathers were my personal favorites. Cady from Mean Girls was pretty good, but she had too many wishes fulfilled for me to appreciate her--same as Cher in Clueless. The actresses did really well with their roles and brought a lot of complexity, including both positive and negative traits. The girls are ambitious, determined, and sometimes borderline insane, but they're no-one's pet Manic Pixie Dream Girls, charging in to fix a boy's life or walk by his side like a loyal, obedient collie. And, of course, there's Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, with one of the best performances I've ever seen in any movie. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, really. She's got some MPDG traits, but she's also a wrecking ball, damaged, and she ain't there to fix up her faithful, subtle boyfriend's life. Naturally, I loved that.

Interesting, complex love interests. Lloyd in Say Anything, J.D. in Heathers, Patrick in 10TIHaY; they're all far more than just smooth-faced, mop-haired, clean-cut boy-next-door types. They're messy, they're a little dangerous or disorganized, and in J.D.'s case, he makes a pretty good Mephistopheles analogue to Veronica's lady!Faust. Paul in BaT is okay, but is mostly interesting because he, like Holly, is basically a sex trade worker of a sort. Still, it's a far cry from Richard Gere's character in Pretty Woman, and I prefer the difference, the equality of their characters' roles.

Snappy writing. These films are immensely quotable, even the worst of them. Mean Girls is in the memetic DNA of the internet at this point, and after a rewatch, I understood why. When I first saw it, I disliked the "popular" girls too much to empathize with them. Now, I had  chance to catch all the little details and the tiny hilarious one-liners. That's Tina Fey for you. Sure, the plot is contrived in the last quarter, and these movies all tend to be a bit contrived, but damn, they're funny and clever. Heathers, 10TIHaY, Mean Girls, Clueless, and BaT were particularly good examples of fine, witty writing. The Graduate also was well-written, but it was the cinematography in that one that really got my attention. That being said, these teen movies are often really nicely, even beautifully shot--downright lavish, saturated, and rich.

The darkness. It goes almost without saying--gods, I love it when terrible things happen to characters. Murder? Social ruin/ Exploitation? Wonderful! Throw it at me. Suffering characters are challenged characters, and challenged characters can do more than people who are mildly inconvenienced.



This is how I feel every time it seems like the films will move away from a cliche...and then they don't.


The bad:


The plots. Oh god, the plots. So many of these movies have interchangeable plots. First day at school, new friends, Christmas, big house party, mall, dance, school gym, random dancing scene, drinking/drugs scene, big fight, finale--not necessarily in that order. It's hard to create a compelling plot when the perimeters are so restrained, but the directors often try, and some of them manage to break out of the rote structure. TBC and Say Anything are probably the best examples, TBC being a locked room movie. Footloose also escaped the structure a bit, and so did Dirty Dancing and Flashdance--but those are all dancing movies. Even then, they have extremely similar plot structures, just without schools as the backdrop.

Profoundly meh love interests. FBDO is a good--or bad--example of this, and so is The Craft. Interestingly, the boyfriends are ususally much flatter than the girl protagonists in these movies, which is a callback to Shakespeare's youth comedies such as Twelfth Night and As You Like It. Clueless is based on Emma, and Easy A (cheating, I know) is based on The Scarlet Letter. All of these have much better female characters than male ones. And boy oh boy(friend), can you tell. Even the good performances tend to be a bit bland.


The ugly:


Abusive love interests. Holy hell, was this a problem. Duckie, the obnoxious, abrasive, sphincter-clenchingly unfunny, friendzone-whining rape ape from PiP was one of the worst examples of this. John Bender in TBC was a bit hammy but generally very well-played, but KEEP HIM AWAY FROM YOUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS AND PROBABLY ALSO YOUR NONBINARY CHILDREN. Seriously. He's destructive and abusive, and that we're supposed to be happy that he...nails, I guess?...Claire, is very disturbing.

Tokenism. Godsdamnit, these movies have more tokens than a Chuck. E. Cheese with three simultaneously occurring birthday parties. The Black Kid, The Suspiciously Erudite Non-Sidney Poiter Black Teacher, The Smart Asian Dork, The Sassy Latino/a, The Hideous Fat Girl (did you know that all fat girls have puffy, meaty facial features and thin, limp hair?), and a few other characters break up the sparkling monotony of middle and upper-class whiteness. However, the casting is usually pre-global climate change arctic tundra-level blanc. The films are pretty embedded in white culture, too, so you can tell who they're filming these for. Still a crappy excuse, though, and some of them are downright racist. Also, I hope you love condescending shots of the protagonist hanging out with these fat, diverse, sometimes wheelchair-bound losers to prove that they've become Better Human Beings! But not so good that they've learned to speak "Mexican", of course.

Rape jokes, gay jokes, and other fun stuff. Mineral water is magic gay juice. Gay people exist only as failed boyfriends and sidekicks who are too gay to function. Lesbians and bisexuals are party sluts or rare, mythical, nonexistent unicorns. I'm pretty sure that every single one of these included something homophobic or intensely awkward gangbang jokes, something the John Hughes movies had in abundance. Ugh. Also, how do you like your gender roles? Sorry, we only serve traditional ones here. Nonbinary people don't exist in the teen movie universe.

Conformity as the key to social success. I hated this deeply. Sure, there are different flavours of conformity--for me, the geek community was a good tribe to join because my interests pointed me in that direction anyway, but there's a uniformity to the characters' choices that drives me mad. Alison in TBC sheds her cool, gothy clothes for boring pink cupcake wear and normalcy, and it's the other reason I still hate the ending of TBC. Ty in Clueless also sheds her identity. It's unclear whether Holly Golightly trades in for normalcy, but at least Veronica of The Heathers does not. She does have a somewhat condescending ending--but she doesn't go off to a big dance, she ditches her abusive boyfriend, and she treats the fat chick like a human rather than just tossing her a showy compliment for the audience's sake. She also ditches her popularity, and that was subversive and refreshing after the other movies.

So, those are my main insights. However, there's a lot to cover in these movies. Which tropes and elements worked for you? Which ones inspired the use of terrifying metaphors to vent your hapless frustration? Tell me in the comments!


***
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Oh Gods, Please Not Another Teen Movie: Bildungsroman Movies, Part 2

Hello hello!

So, last time, I offered up my dignity and childhood on a plate to contextualize my lack of experience with teen movies. I also mentioned which movies I'd seen, which ones were not part of the format (Flashdance, Top Gun, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Dirty Dancing, and The Graduate) and were therefore only going to be touched on, and which ones were essential ( The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, CluelessThe Craft, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Heathers, Say Anything,  Ten Things I Hate about You, American PieFootloose, and She's the Man.)

There are still MORE teen movies on Netflix and elsewhere, but these were some of the biggest zeitgeist defining films, so here they are. I suppose I could have included Napoleon Dynamite or even the Harry Potter series or Juno, but those have a different feel than these movies, or are too self-aware/parodic to count. Also, they weren't made in the 90s or 80s, which was an important consideration for defining the era. But what the hell was up with that era?


The 80s and 90s


Most of my readers were alive for these periods, so I'm not going to rehash history--literally. However, America, where all of these films were produced, was fairly peaceful, quite wealthy, and was experiencing a nostalgia boner of the sort that generally merits physician interference and a trip to the E.R. The 50s and 60s played a big role in the fashions of the era, and also in the priorities. After all, America had beaten the dirty commies and the Berlin Wall was coming down; Russia was waving the white flag and capitulating to capitalism, and the hamburger gut of poverty and malnutrition hadn't ruined America's high school quarterback figure yet. The other thing was that class stratification hadn't set in yet--rich kids still deigned to set foot in public schools, something that slowly ended as recession after recession hammered America. And of course, that whole 9-11 thing hadn't happened yet, so everyone in North America tends to have very rose-coloured glasses about the era.



ALL HAIL MAUD DIB--Wait, no, not that 80s movie. 'Scuse me.


The 80s


The 80s, however, were much darker than the 90s. It's significant that the John Hughes movies (Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink) and Heathers were done then. Footloose, The Graduate, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, and Say Anything also have some dark elements to them--and Breakfast at Tiffany's, though it's a couple decades older, totally nails the feel of an 80s movie in some strange ways. It even has a party, misbehavior, and an identity crisis. When you compare the goofy gothic tone of The Craft to Heathers, it's clear which movie is superior and more genuinely frightening--and hint, it's not the one with the Spice Witches. Ferris Bueller's Day Off also touches on this darkness a bit. Honestly, I didn't like DD or FBDO, and PiP made me want to serve Duckie up in a nice whisky glaze sauce with new potatoes on the side. He was unbearable. BC was okay, but Heathers, The Graduate, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Say Anything were definitely my favorites--especially Breakfast at Tiffany's and Heathers. 

In this batch of movies, there's a lot of abuse, arguing with parental characters, (who actually get proper development in a lot of cases), a lot of death, guns, car crashes, screaming matches that actually seem threatening, religious extremism, murder, prostitution, abortions, and suicide. Not all of these movies are better than the 90s ones, but it's hard to argue that they seem to have more depth. They still give us the big parties and the arguments and the premarital sex, but there's more at stake, a lurking sense that these characters will grow up and that life will not just be a sort of fade into the sunset or a weird flying car from a fairground escape. (Yeah, yeah, Grease was a late 70s movie. Shut it. I already made an exception for Hepburn and I'm not doing it again.)




Yeah, yeah, there's more to the discussion. Don't walk off just yet. 


But what about the 90s?


You can probably see where I'm going with this. Sure, a few movies do allude to tough things, but Clueless doesn't have the same threat-level as the 80s movies. American Pie, Ten Things I Hate about You, latecomers She's the Man and Mean Girls, and The Craft are a lot tamer than their predecessors. There's more drinking, more partying, brighter colours, and less development of the romantic hole-filler boyfriends for the most part. FBDO was pretty meh about Sloan's development, but it at least hinted that she wasn't just a smiling floppy-haired shadow. She kind of was, but...you know. The 90s movies were clearly leaning on the 80s movies for style and support, and Mean Girls wouldn't exist without Heathers--but instead of murder most awkward, that had a nasty bus accident. Bullying is also a bit less threatening--mostly--in the 90s films, and is treated more jokily. On the up side, the 90s movies are less...the word that comes to mind is "patriarchal"...than the 80s films. Those tend to have a theme of female characters being handed off from father to boyfriend like shiny sports trophies.

At the same time, there's an optimism to the 90s movies that's really likeable. There's also a weird emphasis on virginity, though, something that a more recent movie, Easy A, re-created well. 80s movies were more accepting of protagonists who had sex and girls who put out, whereas the shadow of the conservative backlash was already looming in the corners of the 90s films. American Pie was a film about losing virginity, for example. That said, Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink had jokes about rape and pregnancy, but the characters were mostly virgins there as well. Still, the 90s movies are mostly much more light-hearted and kind of innocent. I mean, there's The Craft, the barfed-up leftovers of the Satanic Panic, but as dark movies go, it's not even a decent teenager version of Practical Magic. I liked Clueless more than 10TIHaY and AP, Mean Girls was a lot better than I remembered. TC was an eye-rolling bore, and StM was a cute, fairly innocent movie for its subject matter, not unlike Easy A was. Both could have, amd perhaps should have, been much darker.


The 2000s and beyond


There's not much to say about these eras. The teen movies that have come out since are basically parodies at best, focus on more adult characters, or were just spineless, toothless inane party fests. The tropes got overused, washed out like a vintage t-shirt in the wash, past the point of chicness and into the point of developing sad little rips and losing letters. It could be The Event That Shall Not Be Named, (9-11), or it could have been TV series like Sex and the City snapping up the audience. Or perhaps the audience had simply graduated. I was a little too young at the time to know.

But still, I haven't gotten into which films are great, which ones are good, and which ones made me homicidal--or why. So, for our final installment, let's talk about quality--and why some films seriously lose their lustre, even with nostalgia goggles firmly in place.

Tune in next time for the final installment--because seriously, I'm not going all Rocky on this trilogy. Absolutely not. I have some decency.

Now it's your turn. What else did you notice about 80s and 90s movies, and how they related to the era? Am I missing out on some 2000s gems, or did they really just suck? Tell me in the comments!

***
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Flashback Dance: Bildungsroman Movies, Part 1

Hello hello!

So, my blog has a bit of a reputation, I suspect. Sci fi, a bit of urban fantasy, gaming stuff, writing techniques, analysis of everything, occasional dives into horror, feminism (intersectional feminism, or at least I try to make it so), political/cultural trend ruminations--you guys know what to expect by now. One thing you won't see much of is romance-related material. Oh, sure, love stories and examinations of romantic relationships are all over the place, but fluffy comedies and romances? There's only a few I mention.


Caution: embarassing content warning



Well, I'm a somewhat...how do I say this...I tend to be either right on the edge of a trend, falling for something juuuust as it reaches the limelight or slightly before, or I'm at least five years late to the party. Sometimes ten. Often fifteen. I was born between the last gasp of the 80s and the first breath of the 90s, and I even have a generationally appropriate name to prove it. I'll spare you the nostalgia wank that normally follows this pronouncement, because frankly, I missed out on most of the nostalgia. Sure, I was fluent in Disney and could recite off scenes and songs by heart as a kid, but I never owned a Playstation, Nintendo, or even a Gameboy. I missed out on a lot of cartoons because I was reading and also too busy being tortured by girls in elementary school to interact properly with a lot of my classmates.

So, as you can tell from that extremely personal and embarassing paragraph, I missed out on a lot. There are a lot of cultural mainstays that I didn't watch until my (so-called) adulthood, and because I'd run out of documentaries on weird burial rituals, sex trade workers, and alternative lifestyles, I decided to play catch-up and deliberately risked brain-rot to familiarize myself with the often-referenced cultural mainstays I'd missed out on. As a result, I was mostly unprotected by the warm pink haze of nostalgia goggles; some of this stuff was both hauntingly familiar yet alien, a vaguely unsettling experience.




Like Thranduil, I have a few words to say about these movies, and they won't all be friendly.


What did you watch?


In this case, I decided to binge-semi-watch a bunch of teen comedies on my (rare) days off. That included a lot of things I'd only seen once, or had never seen. In this case, The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, Clueless, The Craft, Pretty in Pink, Footloose, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Heathers, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Graduate, and Say Anything. I had only seen the first two once each, and hadn't finished Mean Girls. Of course, I've seen Ten Things I Hate about You, American Pie, and She's the Man, but they weren't on Netflix, so I haven't rewatched them. I did see Dirty Dancing and Top Gun a while back--a LONG while--but Flashdance was the only one on this list that was a mainstay of my childhood.

The thing that surprised me was how tightly controlled the formulas for these movies tended to be. Now, Flashdance, Top Gun, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Graduate kind of fit into one strangely continuous yet diverse category, but the rest can all be comfortably classified as "teen movies". The first ones are not teen movies because they, well, don't involve teenagers at high school, even though they actually have a similar feel. So, why mention them at all? For one thing, they impacted the other movies.


What makes a teen movie?


A teen movie in the 80s and 90s was a distinct creature. It's kind of a bildungsroman, or "coming of age" story, but it's also less...responsibility-laden...than a "true" bildungsroman, such as, say, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews or Charles' Dickens David Copperfield. Still, in these movies, there is usually:

1. An ensemble cast, or something close to it. There may be a central protagonist, but their friends will be just as important.

2. WHITE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. SO MANY WHITE PEOPLE. NASA uses the casts of these movies to preform albedo tests for spacecraft.

3. A romance with a fairly shallowly developed opposite sex partner.

4. Fleeting, uncomfortable gay jokes.

5. Character groups that are easily identified by tropes and sociological tribal designations, such as Punks/Goths, Outcasts, Suspiciously Normal Kids, Rich People, The Foreign/Ethnic Ones, Comic Relief Hideous Fat Chick, a Gigantic Cast of other teenagers, Comic Relief Teachers, and Comically Dismayed Parents. (The capitals represent tropes. You may see acronyms in the rest of the article using these terms. There will be a test, so take notes.)

6. A plot involving socio-economic class conflict, A House Party to End All House Parties, the Romantic Misunderstanding, Friends Fighting Friends, and eventually--spoiler?--A Happy and Just (?) Ending.

7. A high-school based setting, often senior year, often culminating in the big dance/prom/fling/whatever. Lots of large, expensive houses are often a part of the setting.

Now, this is going to run long, so next time, let's talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly with temporal context. Some of these movies worked for me, and some made me rant compulsively on Twitter. Why? (Oh gods, why?)

Find out in part 2!


So, which tropes have you noticed in these teen movies? Which other teen movies should I have watched, and where can they be streamed? Let me know in the comments.


***
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Leave your comments, rebuttals, and vehement agreements below. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Wild Fire by Ally Shields: Release Party!

Hello hello!

Well, as a favour to the always lovely Ally Shields, here's a bit of something shiny about her next book! And since it's been a little dark around here lately, I think some wining and dining might not hurt any of us.



***


Wild Fire Release Blog Party
and Settings Hunt





Book Blurb



A vision. A lost talisman. A dangerous journey through time...

A month after their bonding, Ari and Andreas are still adjusting to married life when they learn the hard way that the O-Seven, the terrifying and brutal vampire elders, still have them in their sights. A three million dollar bounty hangs over each of their heads, and there’s no lack of assassins eager to collect.

When the local seer has a terrifying vision of the destruction of Riverdale, it’s up to Ari—as usual—to keep everyone safe. Only this time, an enemy from the past has bound her fire powers, and the city’s string of arsons seems connected.

Daron, the vampire prince in Toronto, has information that two of the vampire elders are on their way to Riverdale. Which can’t be good. Only a risky and unprecedented journey through time can provide the help they need. But that will leave Andreas to face the O-Seven alone...


Buy Links



Also available at most online booksellers

Book Trailer on Youtube: http://youtu.be/nGO1wudi7xQ

 Excerpt



The tracks in the snow gradually moved up the slope toward the older parts of Riverdale, out of the tourist district, past residential homes, angling toward the cliff area that overlooked the Mississippi River. Then it took a sharp swing north.

Ari looked ahead, her gaze following the tracks through the gate and into the Riverdale Cemetery. "I don't like this." She came to a stop with one hand on the gate. "Don't you think the trail is a bit too obvious? As if he wanted us to follow him?" Her eyes scanned the cemetery grounds for anything unusual, a shadow, a hint of color out of place among the stones and crypts. The only sizable tracks went behind a tall mausoleum.

"A trap?" Ryan drew his pistol. "Do you sense something?"

"Maybe. But there is a lot of magical interference in graveyards." Ari frowned. She sensed a flicker of Otherworld power, but it didn't feel right. Shielded? Would a halfling demon be that good? She eased through the gate; Ryan followed close behind. Her magic stirred, raising the hairs on her arms, and she stopped, extending her witch senses to probe the area around them—tasting, smelling, touching the environment. Her magic roared to life.

"Back!" she shouted. "Power. And lots of it."

Two gigantic figures leaped from the top of the nearest crypt. A howling rent the quiet of the cemetery. By the time the creatures landed—one in front of Ari and Ryan, and the other cutting them off from the gate—both had morphed into fiery red, eight-foot demons, their eyes deep black holes. Each carried a metal shield and swung a five-foot mace.

"Hellsgate warriors!" Ari crouched, raising her fingers to call the witch fire to her command.


***


Author Bio


Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, and considers herself a "river rat." The setting and folklore of that area are often incorporated into her Guardian Witch series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009. She loves writing, reading and traveling. Way too often she can be found on Twitter. @ShieldsAlly

 Author Contacts



Other books in the series:

Awakening the Fire (#1); Fire Within (#2; Burning Both Ends (#3); Blood and Fire (#4); Fire Storm (#5).

Coming Soon:

Cross Keys, a Dark Elf urban fantasy (Oct. 3, 2014)
Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) (TBA)


Blog Tour GIVEAWAY: Sept 26-29:  



Readers and writers always talk about characters in books, but settings are almost as important, and they play a huge role in the Guardian Witch series. Wild Fire is no exception, and this blog tour is revealing several settings that are the backdrop for major events in this new release. In fact, I think they're so important that I'm running a special contest.

If you collect the names and numbers of all ten settings, you could win your choice of three ebooks in the series (including this latest release) or a $15.00 Amazon gift certificate. It's easy to do. Here are the rules.

Visit the blogs on this list -- or enough to collect all ten settings -- then email me at allyshieldsbooks@gmail.com by 9:00 a.m. EDT, Monday, September 29, 2014 with your completed list. You will automatically be entered in the random drawing (two winners).

NOTE: A setting may appear on more than one blog, so be sure you have 10 different settings before turning in your entry.

Here is the list of participating blogs*:

(*If you can't find any of the posts, return to allyshields.com for updated links.)

Now for the setting: #4

 Setting #4:  Club Dintero - Andreas's elegant supper club in Olde Town. I believe it has played a role in every book.





Good luck! Thanks for  joining Wild Fire's release celebration!


More Fun: Those of you who are reading this before 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. EDT on September 26, are invited to join us at the official Facebook release party (https://www.facebook.com/events/314795258698003/) for games and prizes, including books, swag and more gift certificates!!


*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find Michelle on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr, and find her work on Amazon. Check back on the blog to see when one of the irregular posts has careened onto your feed. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 
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