Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spiders on My Mind

I grew up in a house where spiders also lived. We were outnumbered by the eight-legged inhabitants, but mostly we adhered to a “don’t bite, don’t kill” policy in and everyone coexisted in the way humankind has been co-existing with house spiders since at least the time of the Roman empire. If a spider drifted across no man’s land and ended up in the bathtub well, then, the spider had to suffer the consequences and was quickly washed down the drain, or scooped up in a wad of toilet tissue and flushed. I learned early you had to sort of pinch the wad of tissue if you didn’t want the spider crawling out of its paper prison and looking up at you with its eight beady eyes. I don’t remember who was the designated spider-killer in my house. My father was a combat veteran who’d grown up on a farm, my mother was the product of a Depression childhood. Both were tough, unsentimental, and fearless. We also had a cat that saw bugs as wonderfully interactive toys. With my parents and the cat on the case, an errant spider didn’t have much of a chance. But despite everything, some spiders still skittered their way into my little sister’s room. She was irrationally afraid of spiders, phobic in a way that was easy to exploit—Stay out of my closet, there are spiders in there—but hard to soothe. The spider’s dead. I killed it. Really. Somehow when there was a spider in my sister’s room, I was always the only other person who was home, so if there was spider killing to be done, it was my job. I didn’t embrace the role of spider-bane but I didn’t shrink from it either. I discovered that a spider’s blood is blue. I thought that was fascinating. I found myself wishing we could dissect a spider in biology. I’d read that spiders have hearts, things that look like tubes that only push the blood one way. I imagined something like those little pliable tubes you use to remove the skins from garlic cloves. I thought eviscerating a spider would be much more interesting than dissecting the cow’s eye we were given in freshman biology. And a lot less icky. (And don’t get me started on the fetal cat corpse we were presented with later in the year.) But spiders…I am fascinated by spiders. In the short story I’m publishing on Halloween, “Unsanctified,” I have created a group called “The Sisterhood of the Red Spider.” As you can imagine, they are a group to be reckoned with. And to lend the story some paranormal plausibility, I did a fair amount of research on spiders. I knew that in some cultures—Native American and African, for instance—revere the spider as a symbol of wisdom but I was curious to see how other cultures had viewed the spider throughout history. But I kept getting distracted by articles like this one on Three ways to draw a spider web from WikiHhow,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sexism dies hard....

I saw this on Twitter today and you know, at first I thought it was kind of funny. But then I saw the comment by the person who posted it and it was something along the lines of, "Seems legit." And that hit me wrong. It just seemed so last century somehow, this idea that women are just about the shoes. I prefer to see Dorothy in a different light. So on further consideration, this kind of makes me cranky. Shoes...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I don't like spiders and snakes

I am putting the final touches on UNSANCTIFIED, the long story I'm posting for Halloween, and doing some research on spiders. Spiders don't actually freak me out as they do many people, but my sister was once bitten by a brown recluse and the results weren't pretty. (Literally. Turns out there are a lot of photographs of spider bites on the Internet and they're graphic enough to make you want to don HazMat gear every time you go into your back yard.) For my story I invented a group called "the Sisterhood of the Red Spider" and I spent a fair amount of time looking for a photo of a red spider.
The first time I looked, I mostly got manga images and spiders that were sort of reddish if you squinted and looked at them out of the corner of your eye. And then I ran across this bad boy. It looks like the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker. It looks like a creature you want to stay far, far away from. It's exactly what I was looking for.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Another for the TBR pile: Guy Gavriel Kay's River of Stars

I really
like Kay's work and I'm behind several books. This cover sucked me in. I think it's gorgeous.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I really liked Zahler's debut wester, A CONGREGATION OF JACKALS, even though I don't read that many westerns. His new book, though, is right up my alley. In fact the action begins in a dark alley where a derelict named Doggie is about to get beat down. In S. Craig Zahler’s new book, a good detective’s bad judgment earns him exile to the heartland where his investigation into a murder opens up a very nasty can of worms. MEAN BUSINESS is a great example of "heartland noir" where we know something is rotten in Missouri even before disgraced detective Jules Bettinger arrives. Bettinger is a well-rounded character who comes across as a good man in a bad, bad job. He's cynical, but there's a reason for it, and what we see of his private life--his relationship with his family members--tells us he sees them as a refuge and a respite. The writer also does a good job of making stone sociopaths understandable. They're still chilling characters but we understand what motivates them. The plot is twisty and complicated but never quite gets … convoluted. It does get kind of random a bit, though. We know some of the pieces of the puzzle up front (and that means we know more than Bettinger does at first) and we may suspect we know what else is going on, but there are a number of surprises here. The resolution of the mystery is a bit ambiguous, though. We genuinely don't know how it's all going to end, and that's something that rarely happens in this kind of book.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

sisters in Crime anthology--Great Saturday reading

Secrets and lies… The seven stories contained in Deadly Debut are united by three factors—the sex of their authors, their general location (New York) and the presence of secrets at the heart of the crimes. There’s one other commonality as well—all the stories are very good even when the crimes are very bad. Secrets and lies lurk in the depths of these stories—secret lovers, secret lifestyles, secret sins. (At least two of the stories feature secrets hidden in closets. Be advised—nothing good is ever behind a locked closet door.) Sense of place is strong here, whether the story unfolds in the dressing room of a club frequented by belly dance aficionados (Lina Zeldovich’s “Murder in the Aladdin’s Cave”) or in a pocket park smack dab in the middle of gang territory (“Strike Zone” by Terrie Farley Moran). These aren’t stories that could take place just anywhere, and in Elizabeth Zelvin’s Agatha Award-nominated story, “Death Will Clean Your Closet,” it’s perfectly plausible that her protagonist never associated the slight stink in his bedroom with the dead body in the aforementioned closet. This collection, edited by Clare Toohey, is a showcase for the art of the short story and each one included is a gem and each one shows a writer at the top of her game. “Imagine if Maurice Villency and Victoria’s Secret had a one-night stand and spawned a line of furnishings destined for a Poconos honeymoon suite,” suggests Dierdre Verne in “None of the Above.” What else do you need to know about the d├ęcor of the room she’s describing? Stories by Triss Stein, Peggy Ehrhart, and Anita Page round out the collection and again, each of these stories has a secret or a lie at its center, a hard, cold kernel that has been transformed into a pearl. Crime fiction collections are notorious for ignoring women writers; this anthology shows what readers have been missing. Find it here.

Shameless Saturday Self-Promoton--Bride of the Midnight King is Free

In between the crime fiction I write, I dabble in fantasy and speculative fiction. A couple of months ago I got the iddea too set fairy tales in a world of vampires and I wrote a novella called Bride of the Midnight King under my nom de fantasy Kat Parrish. The book has turned out to be a lot more popular than anything else I've published and I'm now in the middle of writing the sequel, which will be published later this year. The cover was done by Joy Sillesen over at Indie Author Services, one of the last she created before going on a hiatus to concentrate on her own work. Friday was my birthday and to celebrate, I've put Bride of the Midnight King on a freebie promotion. From now through monday morning, you can snag the novella free. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Etsy never disappoints--the Shakespeare Cookie Cutter

I used to have a massive collection of cookie cuttres--zoo animals and sharks and dinosaurs and US states. But I never had this--a Shakespeare cookie cutter. You can get it on Etsy now.

Selling Jaguars with Shakespeare

My favorite ads these days seem to be car commercials. That new one for the Lincoln MKC with Matthew McConaughey and a really big longhorn bull named Cyrus cracks me up. Am I going to buy the car? Alas, no but it's a memorable commercial. I was also a huge fan of Jaguar's "It's Good to Be Bad" commercial that debuted during this year's Super bowl. Now there's a follow-up with everyone's favorite resident of Asgard, Tom Hiddleston, lurking in a garage and waxing Shakespearean as he plans world domination. Hiddleson's performance of Coriolanus (shown earlier this year on one of those filmed plays/prestige movie events things) was ferocious and feral. I was mesmerized. I liked him in The Hollow Crown too, watching him transition from the feckless Prince Hal to Henry V. Yes, this commercial
makes me want to plan world domination while driving through London at speed. Preferably with a villain by my side.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Saying Nice Things About Books

When you were little, did your mother tell you that if you didn't have something nice to say about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all? That's kind of how I feel about book reviews. Certainly there are bad books out there, and book reviewers should warn readers about them; but I made a conscious choice some time ago to only feature positive reviews on this blog. If I can't honestly give the book four or five stars, then I skip it. Because there are a lot of books that go unnoticed in the vast flood of published work out there. I think that it's also a reviewer's job to point readers toward books they might have missed. That's the kind of reviewer I'd like to be. One of the great things about my day job is that I'm constantly being exposed to books and writers I would not have read on my own. I'm not, for example, a huge fan of political thrillers. So many of them are wildly predictable and writing that's stronger on jargon than it is on style. And then I was asked to read Daniel Silva's The English Girl. It is the latest in his series about Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon whose cover is a job as an art restorer. It was terrific. So good, in fact, that I've bought the other books in the series and intend to read them all. I've also decided to do a lot more reviewing in the coming months. I've got a huge pile of books and galleys and manuscripts piling up and I know that when I start sifting through them, I'm ging to find some golden nuggets. I'll tell you about those. And in the meantme, if you like great writing, do yourself a favor and pick up one of Daniel Silva's books. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Shakespeare fans--the Etsy Shop of Your Dreams!

I have mentioned before my love for Etsy, and I've run across a shop called IMMORTAL LONGINGS
that produces Shakespeare-themed items that are ... exquisite. I have half a dozen parked in my shopping cart (Just 17 more days until my birthday!) and will definitely return to it for my annual Holiday Gift Guide. check it out!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Whipping Boy and Shakespeare

Both my parents liked words. My father was a lawyer and he early on discovered the delight little kids take in repeating words that sound like nonsense words. I knew how to pronounce posse comitatus before I could spell "cat." And I wasn't that much older when I learned what it meant, which put me way ahead in civics class. My mother favored archaic English phrases like "dogsbody" and "whipping boy" and "dog in the manger." These were phrases my siblings and I learned as kids and I freely used them in conversation until I moved to L.A. and found that people were giving me blank looks, so I stopped. But I still love those words and I chose "Whipping Boy" as the title of my mystery novella because the plot revolves around a murder of a scapegoat. Shakespeare, of course, used all those phrases (and more). Or so I thought until I started searching for the phrase and none of my usual go-to sources could find it. (Plenty of places where one person or another was whipped, and also a reference to "Whipping Boy" in Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, but no joy on Shakesperae. Sigh At any rate, I'm offering my novella free for the next five days in case you'd like to read it. There are 10 reviews now (almost all of them by people I don't actually know) and eight of them are five stars! You can snag a copy here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sulu & Shakespeare

Before he was the awesome force of nature and social media guru he is today, George Takei was known for his role on Star Trek
. In 1969 he gave this interview mentioning his desire to act in three of Shakespeare's greatest plays, taking on the roles of Hamlet, Brutus and Richard III. I don't know if he ever played any of those roles, but I would love to see him take on some of Shakespeare's great mature roles, like Prospero, or Lear.

Monday, Monday

thanks to the bodacious quotatious geeks at Search Quotes, I discovered a whole slew of Monday quotes, some of them by Shakespeare. the Internet, always boggling my mind.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

If Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie had a daughter...

She would be the gorgeous Salony Luthra, who is one of the stars in the Indian film noir Sarabham, which got a snarky review from the Hindu Times, but sounds interesting nonetheless. Hre in L.A. it's possible to see a lot of films made outside the US, but it's good to know that Netflix and Hulu and other outfits are constantly casting their nets for content.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shakespeare and sharks

When I saw the ads for Sharknado 2, I found myself wondering if Shakespeare ever used the word "shark." (After all, he knew about tigers, and there are no tigers in England while there are most definitely sharks in the waters around the island.) Turns out he used it twice, once as a noun and once as a verb. In Macbeth, shark parts are listed as ingredients of the witches' potion: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf, Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark. In Hamlet, Horatio uses the verb in reference to Fortinbras: Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full, Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there Shark’d up a list of lawless resolutes and of course, in the Broadway musical West Side Story, inspired by Romeo & Juliet
, one of the street gangs is called "the Sharks."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Plague on Both Your Houses

In Romeo & Juliet, the doomed Mercutio curses the Montagues and the Capulets as he dies, victim of the long-running feud that will soon claim two more victims. The idea of "plague" was not a theoretical concept in Shakespeare's time. Most scholars believe R&J was written between 1591 and 1495. By the 14th century, Black Plague had reduced the population of western Europe by as much as 100 million. Less than a decade after the debut of Romeo & Juliet, in 1603, London was hit with a plague that killed 38,000. The Great Longon Plague of 1665-1666 was the last major outbreak of Plague in England, which is a good thing because it killed 100,000 people, or bout 15% of London's population. Wishing a plague on a family is a terrible, terrible curse.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More casting Shakespeare and a Separated at Birth

Two of the actors I'd most like to see in a Shakespeare play are Frank Langella and Benedict Cumberbatch. I saw Langella in the stage version of Dracula years ago and I saw the film of the Danny Boyle Frankenstein he did alternating the title role with Jonny Lee Miller. (Who rocked, by the way.)and I realized that Langella and Cumberbatch share a certain flair. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Casting Shakespeare...Macbeth

There's a moment at the end of Mystic River, a nonverbal moment between Laura Linney and Sean Penn, two of my favorite actors, that made me realize just how amazing they'd be in a production of Macbeth. And just recently I saw a photograph of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and thought--wouldn't they be great as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth? I admire Angelina. I remember the wild stuff before she settled down to become the world's most beautiful UN rep and healthcare advocate, and I'd love to see her sink her teeth into one of the juciest roles ever created. In the play, Macbeth describes her as having a tiger's heart, wrapped in woman's hide and that feels appropriate.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Shakespeare Snark

No Sweat Shakespeare has put together a list of 7 amusing shakespeare memes. Bonus points for kitten cuteness.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Otherllo at San Diego's Globe Theater

I've seen some powerful productions of Othello. It's a play that's as incendiary today as when it was written all those years ago. This production from this year's Globe Summer Festival stars Blair Underwood in the title role and Richard Thomas as Iago. The last thing I saw down there was Neil Patrick Harris and Emmy Rossum in Romeo & Juliet, and I'm way overdue for a return trip. This production tempts me to take the drive.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Saturday Shakespeare Shout-out! SF Shakes

This Twitter account caught my eye:  SF Shakes:
Founded in 1983, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's mission is to provide arts access to everyone!

Bay Area, CA ·

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I feel the earth move--Shakespeare and earthquakes

My apartment is near a freeway and also a block from a supermarket supplied by big trucks that travel the street running perpendicular to mine. As a result, the apartment often vibrates, strongly enough that visitors--acutely aware they're visiting earthquake country--mistake for a tremor. "Is that an earthquake?"
"Are you sure?"
"Trust me, I'm sure."
Long-time residents and natives deal with earthquakes in one of two ways, sometimes simultaneously. We practice denial. ("What do we say to earthquakes? Not today.") And we prepare. (I have a friend who has an earthquake app on his phone that notifies him of an earthquake anywhere in the world. I'm not sure what this does except fuel his own anxiety, but his is the house I'm headed to in an earthquake apocalypse. He has a GENERATOR.

There's a guy named David Nabham who believes he can predict earthquakes. If he's right, L.A. is due for a major quake this Saturday, between 4 and 8 a.m. or during the same time frame in the evening. The last big quake in LA was 20 years ago, the Northridge quake and it happened in the early morning. I find myself a little unsettled by Nabhan's prediction.  I have bought extra water. i will wear shorts instead of jammie pants to bed on the 11th. 
But since I am thinking Shakespeare this summe, I wondered if there were any mentions of earthquakes in the plays. Turns out there is one, a famous one in Romeo & Juliet. It's Nurse talking about how old Juliet is:
On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen;

That shall she, marry; I remember it well.

'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;

And she was wean'd,--I never shall forget it,--

Monday, July 7, 2014

La Bruja Roja is free on Kindle

Who doesn't like freebies? I mentioned Delia Fontana's Aixa & the Scorpion last week. Now it's free on Kindle for the next five days. If you fancy horror that's not the same old/same old, give it a try.

The Science of Shakespeare

Since mentioning Science and astrology yesterday, it seems only fitting to talk about Shakespeare and science today. After all, the times he lived in represented not just a Renaissance of the arts, but a time of great scientific exploration. I've just put this book, The Science of Shakespeare, on my wish list. I like the cover illustration depicting Shakespeare as a constellation. I could see that on a t-shirt.

Dan Falk, the book's author, gives talks on the subject and I hope he comes to Los Angeles sometime soon.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Shakespeare and Astrology

Susan Miller of Astrology Zone has been ill for the last few months, and this month her montly overview of what's in store in the stars is late. I know that Shakespeare used a lot of astrological imagery in his plays, but didn't know how much until I started Googling around. I found this intriguing artcle (with quotes) on Shakespeare's astrology, and this interview with Natalie Dellahaye, an astrologer living in Surrey., a histherto unknown (to me) Shakespeare blog has a somewhat crankypants post on Shakespeare and Astorolgy, plus lots of other interesting and informative posts. also has a post on the subject. My favorite post on the subject came from Shakespeare Online, though: Superstition, Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Time.

Sunday Stratford Shakespeare Festival Promo!

This looks like a good season; which I could be there.

Sunday Friend Promotion Delia Fontana's Aixa & the Scorpion

One of the things that annoys me about a lot of horror stories is that they all seem to be based on the same old, same old European/Catholic tropes. When I read a story that doesn't fall back on that, it makes me happy. (In fact, one of the best zombie movie scripts I have read lately integrated voodoo, biochemistry, and social issues and was set in the sugar cane fields of Florida.)

Delia Fontana has started up a new series she calls La Bruja Roja (the Red Witch) with an intial story of 11,000 words. She has four stories in the initial series, and will be publishing them serially, once a month. At that point (December), she'll combine them in one package, add some bonus material (like a Blu-Ray release) and then move into her next sequence of tales, The Poison Heart.

She published the first instalment Aixa & the Scorpion over the weekend. It'll be followed by Aixa & the Shark, Aixa & the Shadow, and Aixa & the Spider.  the stories are set in a town that straddles the Texas/Mexico border but also marks the dividing line between life and death. She describes Sangre de Cristo as a place much like the Bon Temps of True Blood, a place where the paranormal is the normal. If you'd like to read a horror story with a decidedly Hispanic twist, check it out!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shakespeare Saturdays

Every once in a while I like to amuse myself by thinking of what my perfect neighborhood would look like. It usually involves trees that change color in the autumn,w which means it's not in Los Angeles. When I ran across the website for Shakespare Saturdays, the sheer "neighborhood feeling" of the place appealed to me. Here's their mission statement:

Our main goal with this reading performance series is to foster learning, understanding and craftsmanship in the performance of Shakespeare. We work with many different performing artists, from the new-to-New-York to veterans, from those who performed at the Globe in London to those for whom this is their very first Shakespeare play. We also seek to promote minority actors. We are proud of our record for casting non-traditionally, and we strive to continue it. The experience from having a well-mixed cast heightens everything for everyone, and gives opportunities where many are denied. 

If you live anywhere near these people, please stop by one of their readings and tell them hello for me.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Judging a book by its cover--Bigstock and me

You know you've been spending too much time on the various photo stock sites when you're sent a book to review and your first thought is not, "This looks like an intriguing book" but, "I have that exact photo myself!" This happened to me recently and it got me to thinking about covers in general. I can't remember where I saw it but about a year ago a site was posting photos of traditionally published covers side by side to show that art directors at the Big Six were using the same images over and over. There were two in particular--one a shot of a snowy landscape leading to a manor house and one a portion of a woman's body in some vaguely medieval/Renaissance period dress. (The infamous partial torso images have come in for a lot of heckling.)

Everyone agrees that readers DO judge a book by its cover, but what makes for a great cover?  I like clean lines and great fonts. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, and many people have "book covers" boards, which are great sources of inspiration if you are creating your own covers for books. The two most striking covers I can think of are the covers for Twilight and Memoirs of a Geisha. Both were incredibly simple and both were memorable. the thing is, the stunning Memoirs of a Geisha cover wasn't the first cover used. the original cover was the one seen to the left. It's elegant and beautiful but it isn't sexy, not in the way the updated cover was.
The book sold a lot of copies and was adapted into a movie, but it would be really interesting to know how many copies of the book sold with the old cover versus the new. Look at the covers together. Which one would you rather read?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Where did Shakespeare learn about scorpions?

I'm researching scorpions for a client and I suddenly rememembered a quote from Macbeth:  

“O, full of scorpions is my mind!” 

And  I thought--how did Shakespeare know about scorptions? They don't HAVE scorpions in England. Do they? (Yes, I know, he would have known about scorpions from the constellation Scorpio, but work with me here.) Turns out they did have scorpions in England. This from Wikipedia:

Scorpions are found on all major land masses except Antarctica. Scorpions did not occur naturally in Great Britain, New Zealand and some of the islands in Oceania, but have now been accidentally introduced in some of these places by human trade and commerce.

Who knew?



Friends don't let friends use lame covers...

I showed the cover I created for "Death of a Fairy" to my friend Joy Sillesen of Indie Author Services and instead of saying, "Wow, that is one fugly cover," she said, "You know, that palm tree isn't doing it for me. And promptly whipped up a new cover for me. And then she formatted the innards for me. And then she pointed out that since it was a story that fit into my Misbegotten world (collected in the L.A. Nocturne anthologies that I really needed to "stick to my brand" so she changed the byline from mmy 'sudo back to my real name.
I'm lucky in my friends.
So here it is--the new cover. The beautifully formatted insides and all.
Thank you Joy!

Find her at Indie Author Services.

And just to stay with the theme--Here's a Shakespeare quote about friendship courtesy of Shakespeare Online:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.
(Hamlet 1.3.62-3), Polonius to Laertes

And p.s. thanks to John Donald Carlucci--artist, writer, and friend who  also offered to save me from my own misguided attempts at making a cover.  Thanks JDC.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Eight Shakespeare Phrases That Went Viral!

I found this silly infographic on My English Teacher, and I have to say, I applaud their playful approach to teaching Shakespeare. It's all about the words...and wordplay is playful and so many teachers teach Shakespeare as if their lives depend on them boring the hell outof their students.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Did Shakespeare know about penguins?

Live Science
I was reading an article from the Live Science blog about how global warming is threatening the Emperor Penguin. The story is illustrated with a photo of researcher holding an Emperor penguin chick of remarkable cuteness. (As you can see, they're substantial little birds, even as babies, about the size of a human toddler.) But I got to thinking...
Did people of Shakespeare's time know about Antarctica? Did they know about penguins? So I Googled "Shakespeare and penguin" and of course, got four bazillion hits directing me to Penguin Publishing's excellent Shakespeare editions that we all used in high school and college.
As far back as the 2nd century, people spoke of a vast land at the southern pole of the earth known as Terra Australis, but Antarctica was not discovered until the late 18th/early 19th century. (James Cook apparently passed close to it on one of his voyages.)
There is a reference to penguins in a letter dated 1578 (cited in a book on animal folklore in Shakespeare's time), which was some thirty years before the playwright died, so he would have known about them. 
How much do we love the Internet? And Wikipedia in particular?

Mermaid Sex

It was my turn to blog today at Cafe Otherworld and I wrote a post detailing my theories about why there are so few paranormal/urban fantasy books about mermaids when there are more wereolves and vampires than you ever want to read about. Turns out that for most of the people who have responded in the comments so far, it's an anatomy problem. How, exactly, do mermaids DO IT?  Maybe I have a dirty mind, but I always figured mermaids wer like cetaceans and did it while gliding together in perfect harmony.

I also know that some animal experts don't think it's a great idea for humans to swim with dolphins because it arouses the dolphins and ... unforseen situations can occur. (Apparently, male dolphins are pretty horny guys and have often been observed "humping" inanimate objects. Although I don't suppose that's dry-humping.

It's not that I want to write mermaid/human porn, but honestly, I don't see the problem. Mermaids have been part of human culture since the ancient Assyrians. Something about the myth of the mer has captured human imagination. So...why are there so few stories about mermaids?

The return of the summer of the middle-aged action hero

Movie stars are, for the most part, handsome men. Sometimes they're quirky handsome, sometimes they're offbeat handsome, sometimes their appeal is a strange alehemical mix of talent and personality, but all of them have IT. And IT does not fade with age.  Never mind that Shakespeare wrote:
And as with age his body uglier grows,
So his mind cankers.
The Tempest (4.1.213-4)

This summer we'll get Denzel Washington in an updated version of The Equalizer, Bruce Willis (almost unrecognizable in The Prince, where he plays a bad guy in the Ben Kingsley mode), Liam Neeson in the provocatively titled A Walk Among the Tombstones, and in the fall we'll get Peirce Brosnan in a movie that looks an awful lot like a reboot of The Mechanic.  And somewhere this summer is going to be the latest chapter of The Expendables, with Harrison Ford and young'un Wesley Snipes (he's only 52) along for the ride.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

"Death of a Fairy" new fiction from the Misbegotten universe

I have been writing "Misbegotten" stories for almost seven years now, urban fantasies set in the City of the Angels where paranormal creatures exist alongside normal citizens. (In L.A., it's sometimes hard to tell the difference.) I decided to test the waters of the short fiction marketplace by putting "Death of a Fairy" up for sale(under my pseudonym Kat Parrish) as a stand-alone story using their beta cover generator to put together a cover. It's an experiment. I'm curious to see how it'll turn out but in the meantime, I am pleased with the story, which begins when a homeless woman mistakes a dead fairy for a discarded Barbie doll in the alley she calls home.

Sunday Shakespeare quote

One of the advantages of being an English major is that even years after you graduate, you have a lifetime supply of literary quotations you can whip out at a moment's notice. That can actually be annoying to people (especially if you preface the quote with a pretentious phrase like, "As the bard said,") but it's kind of amazing how often Shakespeare came up with a comment that sounds like plain old common sense or answers a question you might have. One of my favorite quotes comes from Henry IV, part 1 when a character is bragging about being able to call "spirits from the vasty deep." and someone says, "but do they come when you do call them?"

You can find a lot of sites online that offer all Shakespeare quotes all the time. Brainy Quotes even has them organized into categories, like "Top 10 Shakespeare quotes." You'll also find more than 200 top quotes at eNotes. Bartlett's Quotations. I used that book so often it got threadbare. Now of course, at just the click of a mouse, I have access to enough quotations to fill a whole library. I <3 br="" internet.="" the="">
I love these sites because when I was in school, one of the books that had a permanent place on the shelf above my desk was a hugehardback copy of Bartlett's Quotations. Now of course, I have access to almost every quote in the world, just at the click of a mouse. I (heart) the Internet.

La Dolce Vita

The Taming of the Shrew is not my favorite Shakespeare play and I've only seen it performed a couple of times. (Plus I saw the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton film version.)  This La Dolce Vita style production looks like it's kind of fun though.  It's part of the free summer Shakespeare festival in L.A.'s Griffith Park, so I have no excuse not to go see it. Here's more information.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A different kind of zombie apocalypse

You've heard of disaster tourism? Combine that with a zombie apocalypse. Check out The Z Cruise, a kindle short story by my alter-ego Kat Parrish.

Friday Shakespeare Silliness with bonus cat cuteness

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shakespeare Swag

Is this bracelet cool or what? I snagged it from the RareJewelbyKathy shop and it's just perfect for the promotion I'll be doing of my Shakespeare Noir collection (out this fall)!  And right now, if you pin three items from the shop, and send her the link, she'll give you a coupon. So it's awin/win. (And really, you should have a Shakespeare board on Pinterest.)

Mark Twain writes about Would-Be Claimants to the Name Shakespeare

Dr. Buford Jones
I once took an entire. semester-long seminar on Mark Twain. If memory serves, the professor was Dr. Buford Jones, a professor who does not fare particularly well on that student-ranking system but I loved his classes in American lit and took all of them. (And for some reason, I remember this: he was from the Midwest somewhere and pronounced "Jaguar" like "jag-wire." And he would occasionally poke fun at Reynolds Price, the noted novelist and poet, who also taught a well-regarded class on John Milton. You had to be a junior to take Price's class, so that was a long, three-year wait, but worth it.) But I digress.

In the Twain seminar we went way beyond the usual Twain oeuvre. Of course we read Huckleberry Finn (again) but we also read critic Leslie Fiedler's intriguing essay on the homoerotic subtext of the book, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in Huck Honey!" Fiedler was the author of Love and Death in the American Novel, a book that deeply impressed me at the time. I also loved that he was a proponent of genre fiction, which is pretty much all I read when I wasn't reading for my classes.

Twain left an enormous pile of unpublished manuscripts and diary entries and one of them was a huge section of thoughts calls "Is Shakespeare Dead?" You can read it here. It's very entertaining, particularly if you love the cranky side of Twain.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shakespeare rubber stamp on Etsy

When I was a kid I loved rubber stamps and wax seals and all those things you could use to decorate letters. (I'm one of the last hold-outs when it comes to written communications. I don't do e-cards, usually, and I always send hand-written thank you notes.) I saw this very cool item on Etsy today and once again reflected that Etsy is a wonderful website that not only connects artisans to buyers (enabling buyers to feed their fantasies of being patrons of the arts) but also an excellent place to while away an hour or two (or three).

More Shakespeare Memes

I have to think the Bard would be totally tickled to know that he's found his way into pop culture by way of any number of memes. (And yes, since you asked, there IS a Grumpy Cat Shakespeare meme or two out there.)

The first time I heard a Most Interesting "Man in the World" commercial, I started laughing so hard I thought I was going to have to pull my car to the curb. So of course, it made perfect sense that there would be a "Most Interesting Man in the World" meme. If more teachers took their cue from this guy, there would be fewer high school students who hate Shakespeare.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A shakespeare Meme

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shakespeare's death mask

I missed this story when it came out in 2012. The death mask of William Shakespeare (age 52) has found a permanent home at the University of Edinburgh's Anatomy Museum. (Also on display are Sir Isaac Newton's death mask and Sir Walter Scott's.) Read the story here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shakespeare's World Cup

Yes, you can relate Shakespeare to any topic or any event if you put your mind to it. I typed "Shakespeare" and "World Cup" into Google and came up with about a bazillion references to a play that was performed at a Canadian fringe festival in 2002. You can download the script, hook up to the play's database, and read interviews with the creators. It's a kick. Shakespeare's World CupHere's a link to this year's Shakespeare's World Cup line over at No Sweat Shakespeare.