RUDCPROMOSquare250Hi gang! So, I’m attending the Reading Until Dawn Con in October and I promised to be part of a fun scavenger hunt for the Con. 

Here’s more info about the con and scavenger hunt below…

One of the main goals of Reading Until Dawn Con is to give our readers a chance to get silly and have fun with our authors. We’ve got a full schedule of games planned for October… but we thought it would be great to get the party started a little early. That’s right… some of us Featured Authors and Bloggers are getting a head start on the fun times and hosting a SCAVENGER HUNT!

Authors and bloggers will be posting their logo/game graphics from August 17th through the 21st, and Reading Until Dawn Con will accept entry emails through August 25th. Since the Scavenger Hunt IS a game, there has to be a prize, right?? One grand prize winner will win DINNER WITH OUR EMCEE, DARYNDA JONES at Reading Until Dawn Con!! That’s right, just you and Darynda, chilling out and chatting over a meal, our treat. We’ll also have four runner up winners, who’ll each receive special book and swag packs from a few of the Featured Authors.

So… who’s ready to start playing?? If you haven’t registered for Reading Until Dawn Con, now’s the time to get that done, so you’re ready to enter to win a meal with Darynda!

Good luck, everyone… and happy hunting!

Scavenger Hunt Details:

There are twenty (20) logo/game graphics hidden on 20 of the feature author and bloggers websites. A schedule is posted at Reading Until Dawn Con, so you can see who will have their graphic up on which dates. All you have to do to play, is check out the website and/or blog posts of each of the authors or bloggers on their scheduled date. Keep track of who has which graphic, then once you have all 20, just email your list, along with the name/address you used when you registered for Reading Until Dawn Con, to ReadingUntilDawnCon @gmail.com with the following information

RUDC15Are you registered for Reading Until Dawn Con this October in Denver, Colorado? If not, why not?! Join us for fun, games, snacks and possibly pants-optional dancing.

REGISTRATION is now open! Come party with the authors who keep you up all night.

Be sure to keep up with all things Reading Until Dawn, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Up All Night Reading Challenge | Pinterest | Tumblr | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

RUDcon

Armed Forces Day: SF/F Style #StarWars #PacificRim #CaptainAmerica

***Pulled from the Archives…***

Hi all,

So, whilst looking for inspiration for this blog I discovered that today is Armed Forces Day not just in the US but in many countries around the world.

In honor of today and the brave troops who serve their country so faithfully I thought it might be kind of fun to think about some of the great fictional soldiers we’ve seen in SF/F throughout the years.

5. Wedge Antilles (and all the other brave X-Wing pilots from Star Wars)

Wedge and the other members of Rogue Squadron are the unsung heroes of the Star Wars universe. While Luke and Han were off having grand adventures, taking down shield generators and facing the Evil Emperor himself, Wedge and his pilots were busy doing the really heavy lifting of a major space invasion.

4. Captain Steven Hiller from Independence Day (Played by a very young Will Smith)

I remember when this film first came out everyone was a little dubious: “The Fresh Prince as a fighter pilot? Really?” But Will Smith earned his leading man chops with this film and created a wonderful military character with Captain Steve Hiller. One of my favorites parts of ID4 is how they portrayed Steve: yes he’s goofy and charming but when he’s in the air he is all business and the baddest of bad asses in the sky. I enjoyed how the filmmakers showed that the pilots and other military personnel could get the job done but still have engaging and lively personalities in their off-duty hours.

3. Corporal Dwayne Hicks from Aliens (Played by the fabulous Michael Biehn)

I’m a total Hicks/Ripley shipper, so I love him for that, but even apart from he and Ripley together he’s just an awesome character (and soldier) in general. Some favorite Hicks moments: In the briefing room when Hudson derails Ripley’s with his smart-assing Hicks is the one who slices through all the bravado and shit-talking to cut to the chase: “What are we dealing with here?”. Another great moment is when Ripley basically thrusts command at him as he’s next in line after the two superior officers are killed and injured; there’s this great acting moment where you see Hicks’ total reluctance–and yet Hicks accepts the responsibility. Never once after that does he waver in his duty or his bravery. Never once does he shirk that responsibility to his men or the civilians under his care. And, later, when Ripley is nearly hysterical, insisting that Newt the little girl is alive, that they can rescue her, Hicks doesn’t argue with Ripley. He agrees, unblinking, to go to the aliens’ den to find the innocent little girl. Hicks is brave, loyal, vulnerable, and a totally awesome military hero.

2. Ranger Mako Mori from Pacific Rim (Played by Rinko Kikuchi)

Mako is one of my new favorite military bad asses. Get her in the cockpit of a hi-tech fighter robot and she will not only kick some serious ass–she’ll save the world. Mako’s inclusion on this list is because of what a wonderful female character she is. Vulnerable without being weak. Strong without being a hard ass. Feminine without being the love interest. I can’t wait to see more great ladies like Mako in my SF/F Armed Forces to help represent the many, many brave woman who already serve their countries so well.

1. Captain America/Steve Rogers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Comics (Played by the adorakable Chris Evans)

OK, so if we’re talking about great soldiers in fantasy stories it’s pretty much a given that Steve Rogers will be on the list, especially as portrayed by Chris Evans (who’s just fantastic in the role). Because Steve is a great soldier not because of the super serum that makes him into Captain Hunk–I mean, America, Steve is great because he’s a good man. I could wax rhapsodic about this character forever but, for now, let’s just talk about a few great Steve moments from the movies…

Before the super serum, he’s asthmatic, sick with about every disease you can imagine and about a foot shorter than he needs to be to qualify to enlist. So what does this brave, under-sized, sickly little punk do? He goes to a dozen different cities and continually tries to enlist just to see if he can find somewhere that will let him enlist and fight for his country. Later, he throws himself on a grenade to save other people. He crashlands a plane while still inside just so he can save others, even though that’s what ends up leaving him a CapSicle swept out of time from everyone he’s ever loved.

In his best incarnations, this character embodies not just what we hope for in a good soldier (bravery, strength, self-sacrifice) but what we, as Americans, truly hope for from our country: loyalty, justice, kindness, a sense of service to something greater than ourselves–and the fortitude to fight for those qualities whatever the cost.

Of course, no fictional heroes could ever compete with the real life servicemen and women who are out there, even now, fighting far away for the liberty and safety of their homelands. I just want to offer heartfelt thanks to all former and current soldiers. Thank you all for your bravery, for your sacrifices, for your service.

Dissecting Fight Scenes (Luke vs. Vader)

For the past couple days, I’ve been doing a series on fight scenes and how to make them more effective:
Part One (Will Turner vs. Captain Jack)
Part Two (Black Widow vs. Hawkeye)

And, in case you don’t have time to read those other posts, what IS the secret to a really great fight scene?

Character! 

Fight scenes, really good fight scenes, are all about character.

Today we’re going to talk about probably my favorite fight ever…

Luke vs. Vader from Return of the Jedi.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a fight scene without character stuff is meaningless: it’s just pretty choreography, and this scene, even though the fight choreography isn’t wicked intense (like in, say, the mediocre prequels with their lava battles and such) is still a totally riveting scene. Luke is trying to redeem his father; Vader is trying to push Luke to the dark side and, meanwhile, the Emperor is just being a jerk to everyone in a sort of “Let the best minion win!” kind of thing.

If Luke wins, the Emperor wins because he’ll have pushed him to the dark side.
If Vader wins, the Emperor still has his trusted right hand henchman.

This is one of the few fights I can think of where the stakes are this high, and the outcome of the fight is actually really crummy for the two combatants no matter who wins. Conflict! Character! Story! Awww, all the ingredients for a really great fight.

But, of course, one of the best moments of this fight is the moment where Luke stops fighting, where he throws away his lightsaber and says “No, this isn’t who I am”. His line, “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me” is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and it’s a really powerful choice. Story-wise, character-wise. Sometimes choosing not to fight can say everything you need to about your character.

The moment Luke chooses not to fight he wins. Because this isn’t really a lightsaber duel, it never was. The duel is just a physical symbol of the greater struggle for Luke’s soul. Luke surrenders in the lightsaber duel but triumphs in the larger battle. Even if the Emperor had killed him Luke would have won by staying true to himself. But then that choice to step back, to surrender, ends up saving not only Luke but Vader as well, when Luke’s bravery inspires his father to turn from the Dark Side and save himself as well.

You know you have a really great fight scene when the choice not to fight is just as riveting as the actual fight itself. 🙂

Dissecting Fight Scenes (Black Widow vs. Hawkeye)

A few days ago on the blog, I started my series about fight scenes, and today I continue that with…

Black Widow vs. Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers

(Fight starts at 2:02)

OK, I admit I might have picked this fight because I love how much ass Black Widow kicks. I love her.

But really let’s talk about the fight choreography in this because Black Widow actually fights like a girl. And I mean that in a good way. Most women can’t compete with men when it comes to brute strength, which is why most fighting styles that work for women (like Brazilian jiu jitsu, etc) are all about someone physically weaker defeating someone stronger. BW doesn’t just square up to Hawkeye and punch him. She tries a sneak attack, she uses the environment and the available weapons to attack him. She’s flexible physically and mentally. And when he’s got her in a lock and is about to stab her she bites him. Which is how real, I’m fighting for my life combat works: no such thing as “cheating”. (I’m looking at you Will Turner…)

Now let’s talk about the character stuff going on. Hawkeye and BW are partners. They have history and, at this moment, he’s been brainwashed and he’s working for the bad guys. So Black Widow is trying to incapacitate him without killing him, and Hawkeye is trying to kill her because he’s got a mission.

But this fight, beneath the surface, is also deeply personal despite the brain washing. These people are great friends (in my headcanon they’re also lovers but we can leave that for now). We just had a scene where Loki pinpointed that BW’s greatest fear is Hawkeye hurting her, killing her. And five minutes later we have a scene where Hawkeye is trying to do just that. (A+ writing, Joss Whedon)

The choreography of the fight even mirrors this preoccupation with the intimacy between BW and Hawkeye. A lot of this fight is close quarters, face to face, hip to hip. The ending is basically an embrace between them–a grunty, I’m trying to kill you with my knife kind of embrace, yes, but still: they’re in each others’ arms. Even the fight itself is underlining the intimacy between these two people. Especially when you consider that Hawkeye is primarily a sniper. He doesn’t usually fight face to face, he shoots people from far away–but not with Black Widow.

And what finally breaks the fight up? Hawkeye pulls her hair and then she bites him. Those are intimate actions, personal. No weapons, no fancy kicks or arrows. It’s still about the two of them.

Basically, the takeaway from this fight is that you can (and should) use the choreography of the fight itself to underline what’s going on beneath the surface, what the characters are feeling, what the dynamics are between them. Have cool choreography, yes, but use it to help you tell your story by elaborating on character, theme and subtext. That punch isn’t just a punch it can also mean “I love you. Come back to me.”

Dissecting Fight Scenes (Will Turner vs. Captain Jack)

Originally blogged on Paranormal Romantics

If you don’t know by now I’m a huge geek, and I love dissecting the minutiae of my geeky entertainment. As such, I thought it might be fun to talk about what makes a good fight scene for me.

OK, so…you want to know what the secret is?

CHARACTER.

Fight scenes, the good ones, are still all about character.

Turns out I have a lot to say about this so I’ll be doing this as a multi-part series over the next couple months.

First up, lets look at one of my favorite sword fights of all time…

Will vs. Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

 

This fight scene is fabulous because it’s not just a fight, it’s great character introduction. This fight tells us SO MUCH about their respective characters: Will is a fantastic swordsman but he doesn’t seem to have much actual combat experience–as evidenced by the fact he tells Jack he’s “cheating” when Jack brings other weapons into play. Will has a naive notion that a pirate who’s running for his life should still abide by the rules of fair combat. The fight also shows how good Will is, though. He may not have much practical experience, but he knows what he’s doing, and he’s pretty damn good at improvising (grabbing the hot sword, the bit with the chain, etc).

In this fight, we also learn that although Jack is a pirate, he actually goes out of his way not to kill Will–basically begging Will to move at the end of the scene so he won’t have to shoot him. So, though Jack is a pirate, he’s still a good man. Which is basically the message of the first film. And we see it acted out in the very first big fight of the movie. Good job, screenwriters. A+

So, to sum up, this scene may be a fight, but it’s also all about character. We learn everything we need to know about Jack and Will in this fight, and we manage to do all this while watching a pretty kick ass fight scene. Win win. 🙂

Next time: Black Widow vs. Hawkeye in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Ta for now,

Beth Matthews

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Picture Post!

Not much to report but I did a cleaning/nesting binge today and found some of my cool old stuff that I forgot!

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We finally hung art today! These are pieces by Ursula Vernon (the two hamster pictures) and Stephanie Pui Mun Law.

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^This is an jewelry box that I’ve had for a gabillion years and I FINALLY applied some elbow grease and cleaned it properly. It’s so shiny!

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Three generations of engagement rings. From left to right: my great-grandmother’s, my mother’s, and mine. 🙂

I did mention I got engaged a few weeks ago? 😉

Beth Matthews engagement ring

Halloween Costume 2014– #Boxtrolls

Ever since my fiancé and I saw The Boxtrolls puppets at an exhibit in Universal Studios we thought they were adorable. The movie is really fun and cute so we decided we’d be Boxtrolls for Halloween.

I decided to be Oil Can:

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To start, my fiance got two HUGE boxes from his work then proceeded to cut them down and make head and arm holes for us. My job was the box labels.

I free-handed both using the labels from the movie as reference.

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20141030_222900(My hands after doing all the drawing.)

Then I colored them in with what limited supplies we had (Sharpies and hi-liters. o_O) I was really pleased with how well they turned out despite the rush (I did both labels on Thursday and Friday) and the lack of proper art supplies.

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I attached the labels to the boxes with a few minutes to spare before I had to head out the door to the party we were going to.

20141031_143245My fiance also polished up an old oil can he had, and he made my gold funnel hat to complete the costume:

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It was a little hard to sit, of course. LOL. But I was really pleased with how everything turned out.

 

 

Bonus Pic: My nephew loved our boxes too!

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Banter for Two #NewAdultRomance #WeWriWa

better wewriwa

Today for Weekend Writing Warriors I’m posting an excerpt from my upcoming New Adult contemporary romance Love’s Last Call about a geeky bouncer and the hot waitress he’s sure is out of his league. This week I have a fun bit of banter between the two leads.

(Disclaimer: scene–including punctuation–has been slightly tweaked to fit in 8 sentences)

“So, why is the bar called ‘Jezebel’s’?” he asked.

She tilted her head sideways to consider the question as her car glided down the freeway off-ramp. “Well, she is the patron saint of false prophets and fallen women.” She passed a hand over her body to emphasize her revealing clothing, like a lovely assistant on a game show gesturing to all the Fabulous Prizes.

“You’re a fallen woman, then?”

“Oh, yeah, loooong time ago. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

“I don’t think she was a saint.”

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

Love'sLastCallKindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance
(ebook and print)

LOVE’S LAST CALL is currently available for a special $1.99 price.

You can learn more about the book and read the first chapter here. You can also add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads.

The Story:

Lucy York is an aspiring mechanical engineer working as a shot girl serving watered-down drinks to drunken frat boys at Jezebel’s Bar & Lounge. The job isn’t so bad—it pays her bills, and she’s managed to make a surrogate family for herself at the bar. But now she’s ready to spread her wings and fly north to attend a university and, maybe, distance herself a little from the all-consuming social scene at Jezebel’s.

Then her boss hires a new bouncer, Norm, a literature dork who seems like everything a bouncer shouldn’t be: tall, gangly, sweet (and, you know, named Norman). But as she gets to know him, ol’ Norm turns out to be everything Lucy never knew she wanted and the best friend she’s ever had. He’s not a bad bouncer either.

One obstacle to their happily ever after: the owner has a strict no-dating rule for employees. If anyone at Jezebel’s finds out she’s dating a bouncer, Lucy will lose her job, her surrogate family, and the money she needs to go to college.

But, if she loses Norm, is she losing her best chance at happiness?

Hope you enjoyed the snippet above, and don’t forget to check out all the other 8 sentence excerpts this week.

*

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New Release: LOVE’S LAST CALL by Beth Matthews #newadult #romance #romcom

NEW RELEASE
Love’s Last Call (Ladies of Jezebel’s Book 1)
A light-hearted New Adult love story…
Love'sLastCallKindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, AllRomance
(ebook and print)

Love’s Last Call is the first book in the Ladies of Jezebel’s series, A New Adult series set at a hot LA bar. The hero is a dorky bouncer and an aspiring SF/F author. The heroine is an engineering student by day and a cocktail waitress by night.

Readers say:
“This book was charming and funny, especially because the characters are so relatable. Love’s Last Call isn’t a ‘cheesy’ romance novel- it’s smart, fun, and worth the read. (Plus, pretty hard to beat the $1.99 Kindle price!)”

“Both main characters are multi-dimensional, as are many of the characters in the background, leaving the reader wanting to know more about the world of Jezebel’s….I’d definitely recommend this!”

THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Buy the book! (Obviously. ;D But if you do, please share that info on your social network! And review! Reviews are like gold for indie authors – thank you!)
  • TWO WAYS TO WIN (paperback or ebook):

1. Leave a comment here to win your choice of an ebook or paperback copy of LOVE’S LAST CALL with a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

2. Enter the Goodreads giveaway. There are 3 paperback copies up for grabs right now.

Thank you so much for reading and helping me get this book out in the world!

Couch

It’s kind of a silly, small adult milestone–but I bought my first couch this week and it came today and I LOVE IT!

I have already taken a nap on it. As has Fat Cat. Blonde Cat took one look at the giant monstrosity that had invaded his living room and promptly ran away to hide in the kitchen cabinets.

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The amount of throw pillows on this thing boggles my mind. Why would anyone ever need FIVE throw pillows for a couch of this size and depth? smh…