On April 30th, I started a crowdfund campaign for my upcoming graphic novel Sovadron. It's already written and edited; I just need to hire the illustrator, John Hawkins. It'll cost at least $10K to illustrate the entire thing, and so far we have enough for maybe one chapter.
We're halfway through the campaign, which ends on May 31st. To commemorate, I'm releasing a new perk! Originally, if you donated enough to receive a poster illustrated and signed by John Hawkins, you had to choose one: either Shakairra in the Field (right) or Sovadron Plays with Fire (left).
But now, when you donate $125 or more, you get BOTH, as well as a signed physical copy of the graphic novel, sneak peaks into its creation, and a minor character named after you in book two.
Can't afford to drop over a hundred bucks? Don't sweat it. There are a bunch of other perks to choose from: a free electronic copy of Sovadron, copies of some of my other works, sneak peaks, and more.
If you want Sovadron to become a reality, I need more than just well wishes and Facebook likes! Donate today and get a mountain of perks.
Lt. Shakairra Romazi isn’t sure who will kill her first: the enemy’s soldiers, or her own.
Her money is on the latter.
After barely surviving their country’s last war, Shakairra and her soldiers are pulled into another. Goblins have been kidnapping citizens and selling them into slavery. But when a foreign noble arrives to investigate the death of his sister, Shakairra learns that the greater threat is within her own ranks.
As the body count climbs and her allies diminish, Shakairra must place her trust--never in abundant supply--into four strangers to save her country. But they soon realize this conflict is greater than that. And before this is over, even the blood of gods will be spilled.
Dawn of War is the first book of an epic fantasy graphic novel series. If you like cover-to-cover action, diverse characters, and sword & sorcery with a twist, you’ll love the first installment of Christina “DZA” Marie’s new series.
Support Dawn of War to start the adventure today!
The Crowdfund Campaign for the Graphic Novel Sovadron is Up and Running!
Godshaper introduces a vast world where there's a god for every person and a person for every god...though for Ennay, unfortunately exceptions may apply. People like him are Godshapers, godless social pariahs with the ability to mold and shape the gods of others. Paired with Bud, an off-kilter but affectionate god without a human, the two travel from town to town looking for shelter, a hot meal, and the next paying rock 'n' roll gig.
I got Godshaper on a limb, pre-ordering it because I liked the concept and I actually had a bit of spare cash to treat myself. And I loved it! The first thing that blew me away was the artwork. It's just so dizzyingly colorful and beautiful. Take a look:
The second thing that caught my attention were the two main characters: Ennay and Bud. Bud is the adorable, hat-loving god with no human. By rights, he shouldn't exist. He's one of the big mysteries of the story that some of the other characters are trying to solve. One of those characters...is not Ennay. He's very much the reluctant hero. Being a homeless pariah, he just wants everyone to leave him alone, and he'll leave them alone. Unless it's a concert, then he loves the positive attention. He's one of those characters who pretends he doesn't care about anyone or anything except him and his. But he gets dragged into doing the right thing by the other characters.
The one complaint that I have about this story is all the unanswered questions. We never find out why Bud is human-less, or where the gods came from, or why they all showed up when all of the power and electricity in the world suddenly stopped. This kind of open ending is obviously done on purpose. Ennay flat-out states that he and Bud just don't care. They're going to just keep doing their own thing and be happy. Everyone else can suck it.
I guess that bothered me because such an attitude goes against natural human curiosity. We're hard-wired to keep poking the bear until it either tells us what's going on, or (more likely) mauls us to pieces.
But that's more of a difference of theme and style than what I, personally, am used to. Open ending or not, this is still a very good story. It has humor, it has darkness, and it has some really great, really diverse characters.
Sovadron: Dawn of War, will be published in November of 2018 as a graphic novel. But first, I have to hire an illustrator to actually draw the darn thing. I've chosen the fabulous John Hawkins (who created that BAMF poster with the dragons).
To hire him, I will be running a crowdfund campaign on IndieGoGo, April 30th - May 31st. Our goal? $10,000.
80% - 90% of that will go to John so he can work his magic.
5% of that goes to IndieGoGo (they get a cut of all campaigns).
The rest goes to marketing and any other unexpected expenses that crop up.
Want to donate? Sign up for the mailing list on the pre-launch page here! You'll be the first to know when the campaign goes live.
Can't wait? You can also visit my Patreon webpage here and become a patron.
Either way, you will get access to exclusive content and sneak peaks as the graphic novel develops.
Thank you for your support!
Sovadron is a fantasy graphic novel series that I and illustrator John Hawkins are creating. Publishing date is set for November 2018.
“When a world that shuns you cries for help, do you answer, or let it die?
When the ancient goddess Sovadron begins to stir from her sleep, the gods look to the mortals of the world of Eoroe for help. A small group of fugitives, outcasts, and shamed soldiers with nothing left to lose is formed. But will this be enough to save the world that hates them for the very things that make them great?”
To make this series a reality and raise funds, there will be a crowdfund campaign on IndieGoGo from April 30th through May 31st.
You might recall that we had a small campaign back in January to raise $700 for initial marketing costs. In May, we'll be raising $10,000 to pay for the illustrator and other expenses.
That’s a lot of zeroes.
The pre-launch page is here. Sign up and be the first to know when the campaign starts!
Can’t wait? You can also support me on Patreon here. The Patreon webpage is also where I’ll share character sketches, sneak peaks, and giveaways.
You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information.
Science fiction and fantasy will probably always be my favorite genres. They’re just...awesome. And I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you agree with me at least on some level.
But like all amazing things, it has its flaws. The books and movies of these genres have been dominated by men for ages. Though we are getting there, slowly but surely, women authors (who don’t write romance) are often brushed aside and ignored. And that, well, that pisses me off.
So here is a list of my personal top five women authors of the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
Note: I am not putting J.K. Rowling on this list. Even though she’s incredible and awesome and our queen, everyone already knows about her.
I’ve only read and reviewed one of Okorafor’s novels, Lagoon, and I need more. She is an incredibly insightful and gifted novelist. Her work tackles complicated social issues and explores the deepest corners of humanity.
Writer of the Nemesis series, Daniels writes young adult novels that are hilarious and sobering. Her story centers around a young transgender superhero named Danny, who has to deal with all the joys of transphobia, misogyny, and domestic abuse on top of saving the world. Twice!
I have reviewed both of Fortune’s novels of her Spectre War series on this site: Nova and Archangel. Both are gripping sci-fi mysteries that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. It’s supposed to be a five-book series, and I cannot wait for the next installment!
LGBTQ+ Romeo and Juliet with killer mermaids! Warner’s Ice Massacre is probably the bloodiest YA novel I’ve ever read. (Granted, I haven’t read Hunter Games, and I hear that’s pushing the limit of how much gore parents will let their teenagers deal with.) Ice Massacre is intense, sad, but also kind of hopeful. You can also check out my interview with Warner here.
Bennis’ The Guns Above is in my top five all-time favorite sci-fi novels for a variety of reasons. It tackles sexism in the military with humor and wit. Being a military sci-fi book, it also has plenty of action and explosions to go with the tense plot. Like Warner, Bennis has also been interviewed on this site. You can check it out here.
You can get access to exclusive content such as sneak peaks, inside looks, and videos on my Patreon webpage! Click here to join this special community of super-fans.
Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15, and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty five years. But now that he's free, someone―probably the same someone―is trying to get him sent back. Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers. They are going to be very hard to convince, since he's already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.
But Finn has his family: his brother Mort who is running the family necrotorium business now, his brother Pete who believes he's a werewolf, though he is not, and his sister Samantha who is, unfortunately, allergic to magic. And he's got Zeke, a fellow exile and former enforcer, who doesn't really believe in Finn's innocence but is willing to follow along in hopes of getting his old job back.
,Ah, ye olde "Framed-And-Must-Prove-Innocence-Before-Bad-Things-Happen" storyline. With necromancy! And humor!
This book was seriously funny. Finn is a such a smart-ass. Although half of his references went over my head (all of his jokes are prior to 1985, and I'm a shallow millennial), I still greatly enjoyed it. And even better, he's in the center of an incredible world of magic and a heart-pounding mystery. The only thing I could think of while reading this was It's like Rick Riordan for adults! That, and Gosh, I really hope nobody calls the cops while I'm lurking in my car, because I was sitting in my car on a dark street after work frantically finishing the last two chapters of the book. I didn't want to wait the thirty minutes it would take to drive home.
There were very few "well, duh" moments in this story. I've read and seen so many mysteries that I can usually tell within the first quarter who the bad guy is, in addition to all the usual cliches and tropes. Randy Henderson did fall into a couple (such as "it's not the first suspect," like a Law & Order episode, and the "traitorous dame" trope), but while a couple of characters were predictable, everything else was not. Like why Finn was framed in the first place. Or how Dungeons & Dragons will play a crucial role in the good guys' plan. That cemented my love for this character; D&D FTW!
Overall, I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It lost a few points with (surprise!) it's treatment of women characters. The love triangle between Finn and two past flames toes the line between funny and annoying a little too closely--because, really? These two adult, intelligent women have nothing better to do than bitch at each other over the guy they like? And then there was the scene where literally every single female in Finn's group is taken hostage at once. It's a plethora of Damsels in Distress.
However, the women were well-rounded characters and were used for more than just ornamentation, which is why I didn't scrap the book entirely. That, and most of the focus of Finn's relationships are that of his family, particularly his brothers. Mort is a bitch and Pete is a sweetie with a BAMF streak. Glorious.
It's got two sequels, both already out. Which is good, because remember how I likened it to Rick Riordan? Well, it's not only similar in terms of humor. Henderson--the jerk--is also a fan of six-hundred-foot cliffhangers. So I wouldn't invest the time and money in book one unless you're willing to grab books two and three as well.
This was first posted on my Blogspot blog in September 2015. It’s since been rebooted for this. I admit it’s unusual for this site because it’s not a review or commentary on a modern book or movie, but it was very popular in ‘15, and I like the story. Ironically, I never heard of it when I was a Christian. It wasn’t until I converted to Buddhism that I read the original tale of Lilith. I’ve now written a modern version of the story for you lovelies. Enjoy!
Ever hear of Adam's ex?
They broke up over vanilla sex.
In the garden of Eden, God created man, named Adam, from the earth. Also from the earth, He created a woman, named Lilith.
(Yes, I know Lilith isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible. Shut up and keep reading.)
For a while, Adam and Lilith were a happy couple. They were living in a garden of plenty and immortality. It's hard to be upset about that.
But there was a problem. Adam was a bit traditional in the bedroom. The guy liked missionary style. That's fine every now and then, but Lilith wanted to try something new. She wasn't getting crazy with costumes and dildos; she just wanted to be on top.
Adam said no. He was "the superior one" and Lilith, as a woman, was "only fit to lie in the inferior position."
Lilith argued that they were both created from the earth. Ergo, they were both equal. But Adam wouldn't listen to her, and she wouldn't listen to Adam.
When she realized this was getting nowhere, Lilith said, "Fuck this," and left the Garden of Eden.
(I am not making this up. They seriously broke it off because of sex and Lilith was so angry she willingly left the garden of immortality and pleasure for crappy Earth. That's got to be the worst divorce in all mythology.)
Outside of the garden, Lilith met hundreds of demons, and had sex with a lot of them. Even Satan was there, and he didn't mind taking the bottom bunk one bit.
God was just grossed out, and you can't really blame Him. If you're all-knowing, then you're constantly subjected to way too much information that you'd rather not know. He was also stunned with the number of babies Lilith was having. I don't know why He was surprised. If you have a lot of sex before the age of birth control, you're going to have a lot of kids.
He tried to talk her into coming back to Eden and being Adam's wife. When she refused, He cursed her, condemning her kids to an early grave. Every day, one hundred of her descendants will die.
Lilith wasn't too happy about that. Unless an amulet with an angel's name is hung over a newborn infant, she'll kill it.
You're not going to find this story in the Bible. Its earliest recording is the Alphabet of ben Sirach, a medieval text (dated around 700-1000 CE) that's a collection of Hebrew and Aramaic proverbs. Whether or not this story was widely known before the book was written, nobody knows, although there are a lot of possible origins to Lilith's story that go back centuries earlier.
I like this story. I think someone took a look at Genesis and asked, "If Adam was created from the earth, why was Eve created from his rib?"
And someone probably said, "Well, that would've made women equal to men."
"Well, what's wrong with that?"
Cue Lilith, who dared to ask for equal treatment and better sex.
Obviously, Lilith didn't get a lot of sympathy in ancient times. There's the child-murder, for one thing. These days, that part's usually dropped in modern retelling. But aside from that, ancient people had a bigger problem with Lilith. This was a woman who didn’t take shit from any man--human, god, or otherwise--and who decided sexual freedom was better than married life. *gasp* Scandalous!
These days, Lilith's getting a lot more sympathy. During the feminist movement of the 1960s, there was a surge of Liliths. Essays, stories, articles...there was even a whole magazine called Lilith in 1976 written by Jewish feminists. The movement upgraded Lilith from demon/monster to strong feminine symbol.
Modern Satanists (yeah, these guys are a thing, and some of the nicest people I've ever met) elevated Lilith to a goddess, since she's often seen as Satan's consort, and therefore, Princess of Hell. She's seen as a strong female presence in Satanism, often as a deity of contraception and sexual freedom.
Personally, I see the evolution of Lilith as a positive sign in the world of women's rights. For thousands of years, a woman's worth was determined only by the man she married and the amount of children she had. If she did neither, then the only other option was being a nun. Above all, the men were in charge. You did not question that. That's why Lilith was so feared and hated: she ran counter to everything a "respectable" woman was.
Now, we see through Lilith's transformation the transformation of women as a whole. Or, rather, the transformation of people's perspective of women. Obviously we still have a long way to go; I’m sure plenty of people reading this see Lilith only as a dirty slut not worth the scum of your shoe. But overall the Lilith lifestyle has become more acceptable in Western society.
So for women, Lilith’s story is one of sexual freedom and power. And for men? The moral is: make sure your lady gets at least as many orgasms as you do, or you’ll end up with the literal mother of demons.
What do you think of Lilith? Comment below!
For those of us who grew up watching Avatar: the Last Airbender , we were peeved. It was an amazing show, but it only lasted three seasons and there were a lot of unanswered questions. Starting with, “What the hell happened to Zuko’s mom?” and ending with, “How did we get from there to the craziness of Republic City?”
Well, ask no more. Because Gene Yang and Gurihiru started a series of graphic novel trilogies to answer those questions. We see what Zuko is like as a Fire Lord, Sokka and Katara re-visit the South Pole, and Toph starts her own metalbending academy.
Even if you’re new to the Avatar franchise and are wondering why this post features a distinct lack of blue people, you can jump into the comics. Especially the first trilogy, The Promise . That’s got a nice “FYI here’s what happened in the show” at the beginning.
One thing that has always impressed me with this series is the fact that it sees several different layers of conflict. There’s the obvious war, but then there’s the clash between different cultures within the same society, the clash between friends, and a single person’s inner struggles. You’d think that after a war is over and done, that’s it. But it’s not. And I love how these books address the craziness and growing pains of the world after a century of war. That ain't going away overnight, and it's so refreshing to see a kids' series not only acknowledge that, but make it the centerpiece of their story.
Starting right where we left off, we see the Fire Nation, Earth Kingdom, and Avatar working together to heal the scars of war, starting with the Fire Nation colonies in the occupied Earth Kingdom. But after a year, Fire Lord Zuko suddenly stops shutting down colonies, and instead insists that they stay.
This is problematic for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being his relationship with Avatar Aang. More than that, Zuko's number one fear is that he'll turn into his father. So what's a guy to do? Why, make the Avatar promise to kill him if he turns evil. What could possibly go wrong?
It's actually cheaper buying the three books of this trilogy separate on Amazon than together. Weird, right? Click here to learn more.
This one is probably my favorite, probably because of the abundance of Zuko and the flashbacks to his mother's past. After the collision in The Promise, Zuko decides it’s high time he find out what happened to his mother. Aang and the rest of Team Avatar (sans Toph, who’s busy terrorizing metalbending students) agree to help him.
The catch? They need Azula.
Where The Search focuses on Zuko’s problems, The Rift focuses on Toph. She and Aang butt heads when he tries to bring back old Air Nomad traditions that rub her the wrong way.
Oh, and her dad shows up.
Smoke and Shadow
North and South
The old vs. the new is a common theme throughout the series, and it’s even more prominent here. Katara and Sokka return to the South Pole after being gone for years, only to find that it has undergone dramatic change. Sokka is, unsurprisingly, all for this “progress.” Katara, on the other hand, is warier. She, and the villain, is seeing her culture and way of life slip away.
This one is a great example of what happens when an economically more powerful country (re: the North Pole) tries to “help” a less prominent country (the South Pole). It usually doesn’t end well.
My only problem with this one is that Zuko swings by to help them out. The last time he was here, he smashed through the wall, terrorized the village, and kidnapped Aang. I was really looking forward to seeing him get confronted by the Water Tribe and face the wrath of Gran-Gran, then being forgiven at the end. But they kind of glossed over that.
The good news is they make up for it with Hakoda's awesomeness and Sokka's sarcasm. Totally worth it.
North and South came out this year, making it the most recent collection. I haven't heard anything about any more graphic novels, but the writers have left enough loose ends that another trilogy isn't far-fetched.
If anyone hears anything, let me know ASAP!
This week I read Tiana Warner’s Ice Massacre, one of the goriest and most gripping YA novels I’ve ever read.
Basically, there’s a war between humans and mermaids in the north Atlantic. It’s not really affecting the rest of the world (at least, nobody else is getting involved), but the people on the island of Eriana Kwai are being starved, due to the mermaids eating all the fish, which the island-dwellers need for food. In response, Eriana Kwai sends twenty young men every year to fight the mermaids (an event called The Massacre), and nine out of ten times they fail to return. This is mostly because men get easily hypnotized by the mermaids, who then use the opportunity provided by their stupor to rip them to shreds. Literally.
So, after however many years of doing this the island finally decides, “Hey, the guy thing isn’t working out. What if we sent girls?”
Meela, the main character, is one of girls on the first all-female crew sent to kill mermaids. But the thing about Meela is she not only dislikes killing in general, she also has a Romeo and Juliet style friendship going on with one of the mermaids. It gradually escalates to full-blown romance, leaving a major cliffhanger at the end of the story (dammit, Warner!).
I found Ice Massacre after stumbling upon a review by Danika, who praised not only Warner’s portrayal of war but also the fact that it’s about a queer, interracial romance. With terrifying, killer mermaids. How many teen books out there can claim that?
Warner does an incredible job of showing the tragedy of war and the way humans value different lives. How girls, so often abused and oppressed, are somehow considered more valuable than boys. How senseless violence destroys beautiful relationships and young minds. How you can aid your “enemy” while remaining loyal to your people.
It’s an excellent book, with a sequel. I highly recommend it!
Be sure to check out my interview with Tiana Warner.
You can get Ice Massacre for less than five bucks at Barnes & Noble here!
Otherwise, they've got it on Amazon for $14.95.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!