TOP TEN SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY TV SHOWS – RANKED! [#8]

From now until mid-June, I’m counting down my ten favorite SF/F TV shows – ranking them from least to most. Least favorite doesn’t mean it’s bad though. If it’s on my list, it means I liked it enough to watch beyond the pilot. My thoughts on each are included and, for once, these are SPOILER FREE posts.

8. Bitten [werewolves]: I started watching this show on a whim because I was folding laundry one day (MY MOST HATED DOMESTIC CHORE; IT IS THE MOST MIND-NUMBINGLY BANAL TASK; I HATE IT!!!) and then, somehow, got sucked in. Based on Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld series (I think I read Dime Store Magic a thousand years ago but I have only the barest recollection of it). Elena Michaels is the only female werewolf in existence (apparently, the first change is so intense, us fragile females can’t hack it; but hey, I also write a series with a woman-who-is-the-only-such-and-such so I get its appeal. TV show Elena is a little too Barbie-doll perfect but she really grew on me. She’s tough and will do anything for those she loves. And what can I say… her torturous relationship problems are entertaining. (Rotten Tomatoes, you suck. Embrace the Bitten!)

How about you? Do you watch Bitten? Love werewolves? Full moons? Women-who-are-the-only-such-and-such? Have you read the Otherworld series? (I’m betting a lot of you have!) Check out Bitten and tell me what you think!

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Five Photographs: Celia Breslin (Desserts You Can’t Eat + Disney for Adults)

This spring, I’m hosting a guest blog series called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures and complete a brief interview. Today’s guest is Celia Breslin. Welcome, Celia!

Hi Everyone!

I’m happy to be here today to participate in Jill’s new guest blog series.  And Jill, thanks for giving me a reason to peruse my photo albums. 🙂

Something that represents something unique about you

Breslin Tattoo

This is my tattoo.  I designed it myself. I was going for a primitive, moon-goddess-meets-silver-surfer kind of vibe.  Actual size: six inches.

Something that represents where you live

Breslin San Francisco Fog

San Francisco is a beautiful city.  I love watching the fog roll over the hills.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Breslin Cats

These are my cats Lenny and Hazel.  We adopted them from our local shelter when they were both a little over one year old. They’re loads of purring fun.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Breslin Dessert

This is made-to-order, molten chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and delicious, creamy sauce at Moki’s Sushi & Pacific Grill.  I get to watch my family enjoy this dessert because I’m allergic to dairy and cannot eat it!  Frustrating, indeed. 🙂

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Breslin Vegas

I love going on vacation with my family. Last fall, we went to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary and stayed in a suite at the Wynn. We like to spend most of our time poolside then go to shows in the evening.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Human-wolf hybrid Darci wants a cure for her shifting problem not a Wolf mate, but Dominant wolf Ross intends to change her mind and capture her heart. – DIAMOND MOON, Black Hills Wolves series.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently editing the second werewolf story for the Black Hills Wolves (a multi-author series from Decadent Pub), writing the third wolf story, and also working on the third vampire novel for my Tranquilli Bloodline series (Champagne Books).

What are you currently reading?

21 Marine Salute, a collection of military romance stories by Heather Long.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Vampire Diaries and Originals.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Vampires and werewolves top my list of favorite fantasy creatures, along with the Fae. I particularly enjoy them all in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. And her vampire villain, Lothaire, tops my list of fun villains. For a weapon, I’ll go with the daggers in J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’d say it’s the same challenge pre and post publication: it’s important to keep writing while one attends to the other aspects of the business, such as promotion, conferences, queries, submissions, etc.

How can we meet that challenge?

Write every day. Lock in that writing time on your busy schedule and make it happen!

Thanks again, Jill, this was fun! Have a great day, everyone! ::waves::  🙂

More About Celia

Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for werewolves, vampires, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find Celia exercising, reading a good book, hanging with her family, or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.

Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us, Celia! A dairy allergy would be tough, especially if it prevents you from eating chocolate desserts. (Although it would be tougher for me to give up cheese. I’m one of those people who prefers fruity/sour sweets to chocolate ones.) I’ve only been to Vegas once but I really enjoyed it. Went with a bunch of girlfriends that I’ve been friends with forever and we had a blast. I’d love to go back with my husband. Everyone was so friendly. Disney for adults! 😀

Now back to writing! 😉

Cecilia Dominic: Psychologist’s Analysis of A Classic Werewolf Character

My next guest is Cecilia Dominic, who is both a writer and a psychologist. Her latest urban fantasy, Blood’s Shadow, deals with lycanthropy so she’s spent a lot of time reading werewolf novels and analyzing shape shifter characters. As an interesting alternative to reviewing a novel in full, she’s here with a brief analysis of one of the characters from a classic werewolf tale: Michael Gallatin from Robert R. McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour. Welcome, Cecilia!

Thank you so much for hosting me, Jill! It’s great to be back on your blog.

Robert R. McCammon has the dubious honor of having written one of the few summer reading books I actually enjoyed, Boy’s Life, which was published in 1991. He has an amazing way with description, and the book sucked me in and made me forget I was doing something I didn’t want to do. To clarify, I have always loved to read, but I have a rebellious streak and having someone tell me to do it makes me not want to. I admit I didn’t immediately read more of his books because the horror designation stopped me.

Since I write about lycanthropes and it’s close to Halloween, I thought it would be fun to do a Character on the Couch analysis of Allied spy Michael Gallatin, aka Mikhail Gallatinov, the main character from McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour. The book switches time periods from the present, which for the purposes of the book is during World War II, and Gallatin’s past, when he was a boy in Russia whose family is killed by the Communists and who is adopted by a band of lycanthropes living in an old abandoned castle in the deep, dark woods. Unlike my previous experience with McCammon, I approached this book with eagerness since my main character’s father was also a spy during World War II.

  1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Due to the time period, which was while psychology was still in the grip of the psychoanalysts, I can see Gallatin being suggested for therapy due to difficulty forming intimate relationships within the context of a crisis of identity brought on by early trauma. At the beginning of the book, he interacts well with others but is still a literal lone wolf who has holed himself up in an abandoned church-turned-house on the Welsh coast. His relationships are business-like and always have a purpose. Even when he has an intimate night with a woman, he pushes her away after because of the danger to her and, I suspect, his own emotional state due to how many losses he’s had.

  1. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in the book? If so, how does it present itself?

The theme of identity runs through the book and makes for an interesting sense of internal conflict. Of course in the later time settings, Gallatin has a very, “If I tell (or show) you, I’ll have to kill you” philosophy about his wolf side, and that’s how it usually works out. Even his original pack-mates, who of course make a big impression on eight-year-old Mikhail, have differing views on it. His pack leader Wiktor finds lycanthropy to be a noble condition and would spend his life as a wolf if it wouldn’t age him seven times as fast. But another pack mate Franco clings to his identity as a man and curses the day he was turned. Several times either Michael/Mikhail or someone around him asks what God thinks of lycanthropes, and he thinks about humans and wolves as having their own gods.

  1. It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would the character do?

He would immediately go for the spot on the couch where he could see the door and look relaxed but be ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. He would also have the exit routes mapped out automatically in his mind.

  1. Does the character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be?

If Michael were to present to therapy, he would likely be direct about the identity conflict but keep the discussion about it at a philosophical and intellectual level. He’d probably discuss his two sides in a hypothetical sense and not reveal his secret. If he were in the present, he would likely have read all about post traumatic stress disorder and try to present with that angle to throw me off from the primary problem.

  1. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Michael drinks alcohol in the 1940’s time period, and it’s usually very strong stuff. I’m thinking he goes for whiskey, and he’d probably be amused by the proliferation of cocktail bars. Why do you need to mix so much stuff into good alcohol when guys like him can handle it straight? I suspect he would perhaps feel satisfied he’d kept his secret but maybe a little wistful he can’t feel safe telling anyone about it. Of course I’m focusing more on the character as he is at the beginning of the book.

Once again, I really enjoyed reading McCammon’s gorgeous descriptions and great characters, but this time I’m so glad I don’t have to be tested on it. It is a must-read for anyone who’s into werewolf and/or spy literature. Hats off to him, and happy Howl-oween to you!

What is your favorite werewolf book or movie?

Blood's Shadow

More About Blood’s Shadow

Encountering werewolves can be deadly. Trying to cure them? Murder.

As the Investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, Gabriel McCord encountered his share of sticky situations in order to keep werewolf kind under the radar of discovery. Now, as the Council’s liaison to the Institute for Lycanthropic Reversal, he advocates for those who were turned werewolf against their will.

Everyone seems to be on board with the Institute’s controversial experimental process—until one of its geneticists is found lying on his desk in a pool of blood.

Gabriel races to single out a killer from a long list of suspects. Purists, who believe lycanthropy is a gift that shouldn’t be returned. Young Bloods, who want the cure for born lycanthropes as well as made. The Institute’s own very attractive psychologist, whose most precious possession has fallen into the hands of an ancient secret society bent on the destruction of werewolves.

Failure means he’ll lose his place on the Council and endanger the tenuous truce between wizard and lycanthrope. Even if he wins, he could lose his heart to a woman with deadly secrets of her own.

Available at Amazon  BN  Google Books

Also Available

The Mountain’s Shadow, Lycanthropy Files Book One

Long Shadows, Lycanthropy Files Book Two

 Happy Howloween Sale

Oct 25 – Nov 25

The Mountain’s Shadow on sale for .99

Long Shadows on sale for $1.99

More About Cecilia

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction.

The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style.

She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.

So how about you? Do you have a favorite werewolf book or movie?

1981’s The Howling with Dee Wallace is the first werewolf movie I remember watching. I haven’t had the heart to re-watch it because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my memory of it. Werewolf characters I’ve loved are Lucien from Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville, although I admit I’m very behind on that series.

Thank you, Cecilia, for guest blogging today!

Blood Shadow Banner

A Writer on the Couch: How My Psychology and Writing Practices Work Together by Cecilia Dominic

Cecilia Dominic is my guest blogger today. She is a licensed psychologist in Georgia who has written a terrific post on how her day job informs her writing and vice versa. (She just started a free service on her blog to give back to other writers called Characters on the Couch, where they can send a character they’re stuck with to a psychologist (her!)). Cecilia is also the author of The Mountain’s Shadow, an urban fantasy being released by Samhain on October 1, 2013. If you have an interesting career that you’d like to blog about, please feel free to contact me (archer at jillarcher dot com). And now… Welcome, Cecilia!

First, thank you so much to Jill for having me as a guest blogger!

By day, I’m a clinical psychologist with a special focus in behavioral sleep medicine. I have a private practice, and my main clientele is people who want to sleep without using medication. I do general psychotherapy as well.

By night and weekends, I write fiction and blog about wine and writing. Although I don’t have any formal writing training beyond one adult continuing education class, which I snuck in while I was in graduate school at UGA, I’ve been writing creatively since I was a child.

The influence psychology has on my writing seems obvious, at least to me. The truth is that I find people and their problems fascinating. They’re both about people, how they change and grow – or choose not to – and the consequences of either path.

One of the biggest benefits my psychology practice has given my writing has been a range of human experience. When someone talks to a psychotherapist, whether it’s about sleep, anxiety, or other problems, they reveal first-hand knowledge beyond what’s found in any books. My clients speak about how awful people can be to each other, but also how kind, compassionate, and helpful. Although I am not elderly, a mother, a man, gay, a lawyer, or in a host of other professions with their associated problems, I have some sense of what it might be like to be in those situations.

Okay, let me head off some assumptions. No, I don’t use my clients, friends, family, or acquaintances as characters, although I have been tempted to kill off a few people fictionally. And really, who hasn’t? Yes, I have used aspects of experiences and details that I can confirm through other sources and separate from their original source. Talking to people as I do on a daily basis gives me a sense of where to start and seeds of ideas and situations to bring into the fictional world. It also allows me to see the commonalities of human experience and how different types of personalities struggle with particular aspects of challenging situations. I use those details to make my characters more real and relatable.

Writing has always been a way for me to escape, and some of my most productive periods have been during stressful periods like waiting for my comprehensive written exam results. However, writing is more than a coping mechanism, and it informs my psychology practice. Humans are wired for drama, which we as writers take on assumption. Think about it — drama captures our attention. If we weren’t wired for it, we wouldn’t want to read or write made-up stories with tension and resolution. Many fictional experiences can be stressful as we go through them, but they’re hopefully worth the payoff at the end. Pay attention the next time you’re watching or reading a suspenseful scene. Your body reacts as though you’re there with signs like elevated heart rate.

This desire for drama is at the heart of a lot of irrational thinking, which leads to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other problems. Yes, there’s more to psychological disorders than just dramatic thinking. When I tell my clients about how their minds like to take the kernel of truth in a situation and inflate it to produce a bigger emotional reaction, it’s often an “aha!” moment. It’s also normalizing, which in non-psychobabble terms means they can stop beating themselves up for this very human tendency and direct their energy toward observing and changing it.

The second way writing enhances my psychology practice is by highlighting how every client has a story they need help rewriting. They have something they want, reasons they want it, and obstacles they need help removing to reach their goal. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s the Goal-Motivation-Conflict structure. Although I use manualized treatments, there is an art to the profession, and being a writer helps me to assist my clients more creatively. People aren’t always aware of exactly what they want or of all their obstacles, which may include internal ones, and sometimes the best way to overcome resistance is to figure out the right way to say something. It’s like editing in the moment.

In my novel The Mountain’s Shadow, my heroine struggles with having to take a scientific approach to the puzzles surrounding a family curse and the werewolves that hunt on her inherited estate. She’s just been from a research job and really wants to leave it all behind her but keeps getting sucked in. I suspect that even if I make a shift to writing full-time at some point, I’ll always think like a psychologist as well as a writer, and I’m okay with that. I feel lucky to be in two such complementary professions.

The Mountain’s Shadow, an urban fantasy novel featuring werewolves with a scientific twist, will be released on October 1 and is already available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & other ebook retailers.

The Mountain's Shadow, Cecilia Dominic, urban fantasy, werewolves

More About The Mountain’s Shadow

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor. However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.

More About Cecilia

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.

You can find her online here:

I really enjoyed this post. Interesting and informative. Cecilia said: “Humans are wired for drama.” Do you agree? Why do you think that is? (Cecilia, I’d love to hear your thoughts!) I agree that humans love to tell dramatic stories. I guess it’s a way of passing down information from one generation to the next in an easy-to-remember way. Wouldn’t it be great if our memories could be inherited along with our genes? But they can’t, so telling stories is the next best thing. And I love the idea of us writers (or anyone!) applying GMC to ourselves and then “writing” our way out of a conflict or crises. I’ll have to try that next time I’m feeling stuck in a rut. Thank you for guest blogging today, Cecilia!

Next Two Stops: Dark Light of Day Excerpt & A Monster Rally

Creative Writing Tools — First Drafts and the Scene Summary

I’m over at Writing Secrets of the 7 Scribes today discussing first drafts and the tool I use to create my scenes, the Scene Summary. There’s also a 1,200 word excerpt from the first chapter of Dark Light of Day.

Writers, how do you write your first draft? Slow? Fast? Plotted? Not? How much prep work do you put into building a scene before you actually write it? What drafting tools are in your creative writing tool box?

Readers, come share some of your favorite opening scenes. Which stories have grabbed you from that first paragraph and why? What was the opening scene for the book you’re currently reading?

The Demons of Halja — Dark Light of Day’s Monsters

Since I’m hosting a guest blogger tomorrow, I also wanted to let you know where I’ll be on 9/15/12: Happy Tails and Tales. I’ll be offering a sneak peek at Halja’s demons and will be sharing a brief excerpt from the scene where Noon Onyx, Dark Light of Day’s protagonist, meets a palm sized demon for the very first time.

Saturday’s post is also part rallying cry for those of us who love “monster stories.” If you love vamps, werewolves, demons and the like, stop by Happy Tails and Tales and let your voice be heard!! 😀

Don’t forget, I’m giving away one Ace/Roc SF/F sampler at every stop (US only due to mailing costs) and all commenters (international too!) will be entered to win the $10 eGiftCard (Amazon or B&N, winner’s choice) that I’m giving away at the end of the tour. For info on other prizes I’m offering, see my blog tour page. Hope to see you at 7 Scribes and/or Happy Tails and Tales!

Rebecca York Discusses Her Latest Werewolf Tale, Dark Moon

E-book edition of Dark Moon is available for $0.99 this week.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Rebecca York, has written over 125 books and novellas. Her books are full of adventure, romance, suspense, and many have paranormal elements. She enjoys gardening, rock collecting, and travel. She even found a way to tie these three passions together. She told me, “My garden is full of rocks I’ve brought back from all over the world.” Neat, huh? Rebecca doesn’t just write about adventure — she lives it! Want to see some fun pics of her training for a secret spy mission in a glider? Or zip-lining through the Costa Rican rain forest? Then click here. She’s here to promote her latest werewolf book, DARK MOON, and she’s also giving away a copy of her Harlequin Intrigue, SUDDEN INSIGHT, to one lucky commenter.

The Weird, the Wonderful and Wolves! by Rebecca York

I was shopping in Ellicott City yesterday. It’s a charming little town near where I live in Maryland. If I were on a drive through upstate New York and I came across this place, I’d be bowled over by the 250-year-old stone buildings, the narrow streets and the unique little boutiques. (In fact, when asked where I get my ideas, I used to say I bought them from a little shop in Ellicott City. Now I just tell people that if you’re a writer, you WILL BE bombarded with ideas.)

One shop I love is the Forget-Me-Not Factory. It’s got all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff–from dragon and wolf ornaments to costumes I might want to wear at the RT Booklovers Convention. Yesterday, when I found a deck of cards with three howling wolves on the back, I snatched them up. They’re perfect for me. I love wolves, especially werewolves, of course.

Which brings me to DARK MOON, my latest werewolf tale. (Pun intended.) I wrote it to introduce my Moon series to new readers. And because I haven’t written a Moon book in a while, it’s a reintroduction to the series for my fans.

This time the sexy hero is Cole Marshall, a werewolf who works for Decorah Security. He’s being sent on a mission to rescue a young woman who was kidnapped by a business rival of her father and is being held captive on the Windward, a cruise ship that’s been converted into a pleasure palace for the rich and kinky. Cole’s got the assignment because his werewolf nose can sniff out the victim. And he’s paired with Emma Richards, who also works for Decorah Security. They’ve fought their attraction for each other. But in the sexually charged atmosphere of the Windward, their secret passion flares. Of course, Emma doesn’t know Cole’s werewolf heritage, and she’s going to find out in the worst possible way. Then what?

DARK MOON is also the start of a new series I’m writing. All of the agents who work for Decorah Security have paranormal powers or take on paranormal cases. In CHAINED (a novella) the heroine’s running from men who want to assassinate her and hooks up with a man she loved and lost. He’s desperate to protect her, even though he’s a ghost. Can you have sexually charged encounters with a ghost? You bet. And maybe there’s a way to bring him back to life for real.

The short story in the collection is AMBUSHED, about a witness to a terrorist plot and her sexy bodyguard. Of course, the terrorists want to kill her. He’s all business, except when he can’t keep his hands off her.

I’ve published the Decorah Security series myself, while still writing for Harlequin and now Sourcebooks (with a romantic suspense series coming out next year.) But I love the freedom that indie publishing gives me. I can write whatever stories I want, at the length I want, at the pace I want. And I’m answering to no one but myself, and my characters.

Because I’m promoting DARK MOON this week, it’s on special sale at Amazon. You can get the e-book edition for 99 cents.

Rebecca York

What’s your favorite paranormal kind of story? I love shifters, of course. But telepathy also turns me on big time. And then there’s the hero of the next Decorah novel, DARK POWERS. He’s Ben Walker, whom readers meet in DARK MOON. He can touch dead people and get their last memories. Fun for the reader, but not so much fun for him.

The DARK MOON e-book is available here and the paperback is available here. Want to connect with Rebecca online? She has a website and is on Facebook. Her Twitter handle is @rebeccayork43.

So readers, how about you? Have a favorite type of paranormal, otherworld, or supernatural story you’d like to share? Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of SUDDEN INSIGHT. I’m not sure I could pick an all-time favorite, but I have to admit, after reading about the Decorah Security werewolf from Dark Moon, shifters are leading the pack. 😉