Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Galavant Season 1

If you haven’t seen Galavant, then I’m afraid there’s really nothing on TV today I can use for comparison. It’s musical theatre with some funny bits. The first episode had me laughing harder than I have in a good long while.

The first episode got me on audacity and shock, though, and once that had worn off I found little underneath to sustain the concept.

But it’s 8 20-minute shows so if you’ve got a few hours to kill and are bored with the same old same old, give it a try.

TV Review: Jericho (2006)

Jericho is a 2006 post-apocalypse TV series that follows events in the small town of Jericho in Northwestern Kansas in the months after 23 nuclear bombs go off in cities across the country. As a post-apocalypse fan, I’m not sure how I missed this one 10 years ago, although I did have a newborn at the time so I’ll just let that be my excuse. :)

At any rate, binge watching is the only way to watch TV these days so I watched all of Jericho — 22 episodes in the first season and 7 in the second — in about two weeks. And overall, I enjoyed it! The story was well thought-out, the characters well drawn and acted, and this is big for a fan of the apocalypse — I found it believable. Food was scarce. People were starving. People change (some for the better, some for the worse).

And for those viewers concerned about getting into a show that was canceled 7 episodes into season 2 I will say this — it comes to a conclusion. AN abrupt conclusion, but a conclusion nonetheless. I can definitely see why people have been wondering about someone else picking up the show or maybe just making a movie, but you’re really not left hanging.

My biggest reservation regarding this show was that one of the main characters, a shady man who spent much of his time sending and receiving obscure messages, was not clearly explained for far too long. The “is he good or bad?” question can only work for so long, and as the first season dragged on I was expected to care a great deal about what happened to him without an answer. This, more than anything else, gave the show a feel of dragging.

On a positive note, though, I really did enjoy the characters and the way different people responded to the situation. Plus, characters died — not quite in a George R. R. Martin sense but in a way that really drove home how fragile life would be in such a situation.

I recommend this to fans of the apocalypse.

Defining Freedom and Power: A Rebuttal

In a recent blog post, Christopher Nuttall, author of the bestselling Schooled in Magic series (which I proudly edit), made some assertions about Freedom and (Women’s) Rights. In it, he has this to say about my own Cassie Scot Series:

Cassie Scot is a squib, if I may borrow the Harry Potter term. She’s the daughter of powerful magicians – and sister to several more – but she has no power of her own. And this has inevitable consequences.

Throughout her four books, Cassie is constantly objectified. Not in the sense that she is treated as a sex object, but in the sense she is constantly treated like a minor child. She is powerless in her community. Her very safety depends on protection from her parents; later, when she loses that, her (eventual) love interest makes decisions for her, meddles freely in her life (sometimes without telling her) and generally continues the tradition of treating her as a cute but wilful child, rather than a grown adult in her own right …

And the hell of it is that he (and her parents) has a point. Cassie may act like a confident adult, but it’s based on other people, rather than on her inherent power (she has none) or human rights (she has none of those either). She is staggeringly vulnerable. And so is Julianne. And so were far too many women throughout history. The powerful women were often the ones who were born to power, like Queen Elizabeth.

Now let me just start by saying that Chris and I don’t see eye to eye on many things. Luckily for the both of us, I have no problem speaking my mind and he’s happy to work with editors who challenge him, whether he ends up taking their advice or now. This is the mark of a successful author/editor relationship, IMHO. :)

To give his article some context: In his most recent novel, Past Tense, I made some comments about a primary character that seem to have been echoed by at least some portion of the reading public. Due to editorial privilege, I won’t go into details past those Chris himself mentions in his own blog post. Yes, I said that Julianne was weak and unconvincing as a character. She came across to me as a symbol more than a person — a representation and amalgam of that which has plagued women throughout history.

From a literary perspective, this opinion isn’t a death sentence. Plenty of characters in plenty of books have been more symbolic than anything else. It’s a valid literary technique.

As an author, I shy away from that particular literary technique almost to a fault. Honestly, I spend so much time trying to make sure that my secondary and tertiary characters have clear motivations (at least to me) that it takes me at least a year to write a book … when I’m on form. If you’re in the market for fantasy you can rely on coming out every few months, check out Christopher Nuttall’s work, which involves creative world-building, clever twists, and a bit more focus on his main character. :)

The point is, Chris and I didn’t see eye to eye on this particular issue. And when he wrote a blog article explaining his perspective, he cited my own work (with my permission) as an example. When I okayed this blog article, I did warn him that I would have my say!

Cassie Scot has no magic. She lives in a world of magic. On a very superficial level, this makes her powerless.

On a very superficial level.

The #1 theme of this series of books was this: There is more than one type of power and more than one way to be powerful. Cassie herself didn’t understand this at first. Her family and her love interest didn’t understand this at first. And really, it’s a challenging thing to get your mind around.

In a world full of magic, wits, courage, and a bit of attitude can become a form of personal power.

Let’s go back to Chris’s points: That Cassie was treated as a minor child, that she had no power or human rights, and that the only power she did have came from the family that surrounded and protected her.

First of all: Yes, Cassie was treated a bit like a child. Because the people in her life thought she couldn’t take care of herself, because they thought they had to protect her, they overstepped — especially her parents and her love interest. Cassie had to prove to them that she could stand on her own and that she could be a value, something that she would never have had to do had she simply been born with magic like her many brothers and sisters.

But to take this a step further and assert that in the end she still has no human rights and no power other than that which is handed down to her by the community in which she lives is to misunderstand the role society plays in ALL of our lives.

Another theme in the Cassie Scot series is: No one can do it alone.

*I* don’t have any human rights that aren’t handed to me by the United States government and protected by a (sometimes fragile seeming) representative democracy built on the will of the people. My powers and human rights are further defined by my social affiliations, my husband, my skills, and my own personality.

There are women today, right now, in THIS “free” country who are not free. There are victims of all kinds of things — abuse, mental illness, fear, degradation … there is a slave trade still going on in the world today!

Power is more complex than the law. It’s more complex than society. It’s more complex than culture. Power is all of that and it’s our own personal energy.

Going the other direction, you can go back throughout history and find many examples of women who, despite their lack of status in the eyes of the law, were powerful cornerstones of their own community. Or at least a power in their own families.

Cassie Scot is not the type of woman who lets herself be walked upon. Even in a world where she almost doesn’t seem to belong, she’s got too much fire to let it happen. And that is why I love her. She’s not me — I’ve often told readers this — she’s who I want to be. In a world where I sometimes feel powerless to change the things that matter most to me, Cassie has shown me a truth that was immortalized in the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

That’s power. Strong women (and men) throughout history have known it.

You, Me, and the Apocalypse: Watch at your Own Risk

I just finished a riveting 10-episode series that aired on NBC last year called “You, Me, and the Apocalypse.” It takes a run-up to your typical asteroid-destroys-the-earth and fills it with strange, exciting characters and insane twists. All counting down to the moment of truth, the moment foretold in the series intro: A man ends up in a bunker deep under Slough (England) with a most unlikely group of companions.

Were this show to have a second season, I would give it an enthusiastic 5 stars. However, as the creator has claimed (wrongly) that the show came to a logical conclusion, I must simply say, “Watch at your own risk.” Because you will be at the end of episode 10, frantically searching the internet for news of season 2. I mean, surely they couldn’t end it THERE? Not at a logical conclusion but at a veritable cliffhanger?!?!?

Alas, yes.

So if you want to enjoy a wild ride, give it a chance. Just don’t fall off the cliff at the end!

Madison’s Song Gets a Double Win at Global Ebook Awards!!

DanPoynterLegacyAward

Madison’s Song scored big in this year’s Global Ebook Awards, taking home not only the silver in its category but also earning the first-ever Dan Poynter Legacy Award. The Legacy Award was added this year to remember Dan Poynter, the founder of the Global Ebook Awards, and it is given to the best fiction, non-fiction, and “best of” entries. Madison’s Song won for fiction.

And if, like MadisonsSong_medme, you hover over the idea that the book earned second place in its category and first in overall fiction, I would just say this: Fantasy/Contemporary does not fit Madison’s Song like a glove. It was just the most reasonable category from a list of worse options. It’s hard to place cross-genre fiction on bookshelves, into marketing categories, and into prize categories. Which is why I feel so honored by this new and unexpected recognition in the form of the Legacy Award.

Thank you to all my fans for your support, to my publisher for standing behind me, to my beta readers, to my editors, and to the judges at the Global Ebook Awards.

Season 4: Orange is the New Black is Back!

After a disappointing third season of the unexpectedly amazing show, “Orange is the New Black,” I wasn’t in a rush to watch season 4. I noticed it was available, but I was in the middle of some other things and then I went on vacation and then … well, I finally started it a couple of weeks ago.

And all I can say is … Orange is the New Black is BACK! Better than ever. Honestly, season 4 is the best season so far, with more ups and downs than I knew what to do with. From the very first episode to the very last, I loved it!

So, one of the problems with season 3 was Piper’s insane new power trip thing. Well, that got worse but then … well, she’s not really the star of the show anymore.

The prison itself continues to reel from the management of its corporate overlords, culminating in an event that will shock you. Meanwhile, race relations are worse than ever, tension between inmates and guards is worse than ever, the crazy inmates are crazier than ever. And oh yeah, Alex kicks things off by killing someone and getting an education from another inmate in how to dispose of a body. So, that was fascinating. :)

If you were disappointed with season 3, forgive it and move on! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

If you haven’t watched Orange is the New Black at all … where have you been for the past 4 years?????

Now Available in Trade Paperback!!

KaitlinsTale_med

Universe of Creativity: A Writer’s Affirmation

Oh universe of creativity,

of light and life that dwells in me.

I see you out there vast and strong,
as curious as time is long.

Through me you’ll find a willing heart
to think and dream and do my part.

I’m a writer through and through;
my words are my gift to you.

I judge them not but set them free,
little wisps of eternity.

Please guide me as I find the strength to set aside internal restraints. I need the courage to challenge fear, that voice of doubt within my ear.

Your beauty is a part of me; I honor that so let it be.

~Christine Amsden

Feel free to share, just share the credit!

Kaitlin’s Tale BOOK LAUNCH!!!!

May 16 Event

It’s here!!!!

The long-awaited and much-anticipated spin-off to the Cassie Scot Series starring Cassie’s best friend, Kaitlin, who was last seen running away with a vampire. How’s that working for her? Not too well, as you can see from this sneak preview. Want to know more? All the answers await in Kaitlin’s Tale.

But wait, there’s more! All day today (May 16) I’m having a book launch event, culminating in a Facebook Party this evening (5:30 CST). There will be prizes, early reviews, me reading from my first chapter, special guest appearances by Kaitlin and Matthew, among others, and much, much more! Plus, the Internet is buzzing about the book. For event details, click here.

Today is more than a release day, it’s a BOOK BLAST. I’m asking family, friends, fans, and anyone with a healthy sense of curiosity to buy the book TODAY to help me drive up those Amazon sales figures. Basically, if you plan to buy the book anyway, even if you maybe have a to-read stack ten books high, it would be super, super, super helpful if you would buy it today. And, when you do get a chance to read it, a review is helpful as well. Even if you just say, “It was okay.”

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

T Minus 6 Days to Launch!!!!

KaitlinsTale_med

And the countdown begins …

Kaitlin’s Tale will be available in 6 days, on Monday, May 16. The initial cost will be $3.99 (ebook). The print launch comes in July.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping all my friends and family and fans and strangers who thing “Huh, that looks good!” and people who read the first Cassie Scot book but got sidetracked and may not know all the rest are out and really just anyone and everyone (this is an example of a run-on sentence — you’re welcome) to come to my LAUNCH PARTY Monday night.

Special guests: Kaitlin Meyer, Matthew Blair, Evan Blackwood, and Cassie Scot Blackwood

6:30-8:30 if you’re on the east coast
5:30-7:30 if you’re in the middle with me
4:30-6:30 if you’re in the mountains
3:30-5:30 if you’re out west
2:30-4:30 if you’re in Alaska
12:30-2:30 if you’re in Hawaii

Non-US citizens, I hope you can figure it out from there. You are, of course, welcome.