Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Actors age in real time in audacious, mesmerizing 'Boyhood'

Remember the 1964 film 7 Up? It was the first in a series of extraordinary documentaries that profiled a classroom of seven-year-old British kids, who were then revisited and filmed by director Michael Apted at seven-year intervals to see how their lives were turning out. (They were 56 in 2012, when Apted last checked in.)

The evolution of lives and stories in real time is not something the movies often do. In fiction films, especially, stories are telescoped into dramatic highlights with actors of various ages playing the same part at different stages of life.

Which is why Richard Linklater's Boyhood is so refreshingly audacious. Linklater had the simple, yet brilliant idea to shoot a scripted film over a period of 12 years, allowing his cast—including his child protagonists—to age naturally onscreen.

Ellar Coltrane (in the central role of Mason) was seven years old when the film started shooting in 2002, and 18 when it wrapped last year. One minute, little Mason is sniggering over a lingerie catalogue with his schoolyard buddies, then he's encountering bullies, experiencing his first fast-food job and the first stirrings of romance, and waxing philosophical about robotic mind control and the meaning of life. Nothing much remarkable occurs as the narrative evolves, but it all feels so achingly true.

Ellar Coltrane grows up before our eyes
 Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are both excellent as Mason's divorced parents. It sounds like a stunt, but watching these characters grow up before our eyes (including the adults ), makes for a bold, moving, and utterly mesmerizing moviegoing experience. (Read more)

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Want to see what the Neverland looks like? Take a look at my new Pinterest board for Alias Hook!

True, it's a work of fiction. Fantasy, even. But that doesn't mean the Neverland can't be visualized—rife as it is with magical creatures, ecosystems, micro-climates and historical flashbacks.

You can find anything in cyberspace, and I've assembled a pictorial tour of the world of Alias Hook, from the Indian villages, Fairy Dell and mermaid grotto of the Neverland to the Restoration-era origins of James Hook himself.

Although I don't subscribe to the Disney version of the story, I love the flying ship in this marvelous concept sketch for Peter Pan by the gifted artist Mary Blair.

Want to see the 17th Century French harpsichord James Hook plays in his lonely cabin on board his ship, the Jolie Rouge? It's here. Interested in Hook's ornate scarlet coat, or the antique chemise my heroine, Stella, wears in the Neverland? They're on the board.

The Indians—I call them the First Tribes—are a presence throughout my story. The poised young chief, Eagle Heart, can be seen on the board.

So can the interior of the Medicine Lodge where James and Stella spend their last night in the Neverland.

I've been fortunate to discover the work of some excellent artists online who specialize in Native American scenes. This is an image by contemporary artist Howard Terpning, called "White Woman" (the name of the creek in the picture).

But I see it as members of the First Tribes by the Inland Waterway in the forest of Neverland, where the boys and the fairies live.

And what fun would the Neverland be without mermaids? James Hook is initially terrified of the mermaids—he calls them the loreleis—and considers their Mermaid Lagoon the most treacherous place in the Neverland.

Here's an image that communicates the eerie mystery of the Lagoon. I think this is from a turn-of-the-century painted tile, and I just love it! Look at the provocative, Theda Bara expression on the mermaid's face, as she placidly wrings out her hair.

Seductive and sinister—that's the Mermaid Lagoon.

Then, of course, there are the fairies. A great deal of the plot in Alias Hook revolves around fairies getting up to mischief. And speaking of fairies, forget about Tinker Bell.

These fairies work hard, as the keepers of magic in the Neverland, and protectors of the boys. And they play hard at their moonlit Revels in the Fairy Dell.

The Victorians were feverish fairy-painters! Here's a detail from the painting "The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania" by Joseph Noel Paton, completed in 1849.

I love how diverse the fairy population looks in this image—and how much frenzied frivolity is going on.

This is exactly how I picture the Fairy Revels in Alias Hook.

New pins will be going up as time permits (she says hopefully). So please do check it out, and keep checking back.

Enter the mystic portal. Live the dream!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Huge and grateful thanks to the wonderful folks at Bookshop Santa Cruz for hosting my reading/signing for Alias Hook last week. It was a blast!

For starters: look at this cool chalkboard sign they posted out front, in the corner between the Chocolate cafe and the front door to BSC. "Santa Cruz's own"—I'm so touched!

Next: scroll down to take a look at some of the fine folk who showed up for this event. That would be YOU, the reading public! Hearty thanks to everyone who came down to cheer me on. Your presence was most appreciated!

Now that I've come back down to terra firma, it's time for practical matters. If you missed the signing, but your interest in Alias Hook has been piqued by the various ramblings and mutterings in this blog, I have glad tidings.

My Blog Tour continues all over the Internets, and there's still time to enter one of several giveaways for a *FREE* copy of the book (in hardcover, yet)!

Visit one (or all) of these sites and try your luck:

Reading Frenzy Giveaway closes July 25.

Cheryl's Book Nook Closes July 27.

A Bookish Affair Closes July 28.

Cocktails and Books Closes July 29.

Let Them Read Books  Closes July 30.

Thanks to these and all of the intrepid book bloggers out there who are helping to spread the word about Alias Hook. Writing a book is a solitary pursuit, but it takes a village to get it into the hands of readers!

Saturday, July 12, 2014


The local media blitz for Alias Hook continues!

Even though my book was officially unleashed last Tuesday, the festivities keep on coming.

My interview with Santa Cruz entertainment guru Wallace Baine appeared in The Guide section of the Sentinel on Thursday. (With photos by the great Shmuel Thaler, yet!)

And imagine my delight to see artwork from my little book on The Guide's cover.

This week, I'll take to the airwaves to chat with two of my favorite radio hosts. Tuesday night, July 15, 7 pm, it will be my very great pleasure to be a guest on Bruce Bratton's Universal Grapevine program on KZSC.

The next day, at 8:30 in the morning, I'll be on the air again with the ebullient and charming Rosemary Chalmers on her morning show at KSCO.

Later that same day—actually, the evening of Wednesday, July 16, at 7:30 pm—I'll be reading a couple of (brief) passages from Alias Hook,  attempting to make up plausible answers to your questions, and signing copies of the book at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

(Btw, I went downtown to Bookshop last Tuesday, my publication day, to see if my book was actually on the shelves yet. Was absolutely gobsmacked to find this giant display right by the front door! Of course, I'm such a nerd, I had to capture the moment. For an author, there is nothing like seeing your books in situ, out in the world!)

So if you're out in the world Wednesday night, please do come by the Bookshop and say 'hello.' If you can't make it to the BSC event you can still reserve a signed copy via their website.

And that's just about all I can do to help launch Alias Hook on its way. The rest of Captain James Hook's voyage of conquest is up to him!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Flawed, but fun 'Snowpiercer' is a hip summer cooler

How's this for an allegory for the human condition? In the post-apocalyptic future, the surviving members of humanity are trapped together in a giant, high-speed train endlessly circling the globe on the ultimate fast-track to nowhere.

That's the story in Snowpiercer, the first English-language film from Korean cult filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, a brooding cautionary tale of social dynamics and environmental suicide dressed in the trappings of a bloody, brawling action thriller.

It's a rather despairing look at the species, and the plot is not exactly airtight, but the director's energy and humor, and some entertaining performances make it worth the ride.

The film is adapted from a three-volume French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige. Set in the aftermath of global environmental collapse, the comic is the perfect, vehicle for filmmaker Bong, who tried to warn us about the catastrophic effects of climate change in his delicious eco-monster movie mash-up The Host.
He gets to explore the consequences of our negligence in Snowpiercer, which begins when a botched attempt to halt global warming launches a new ice age and freezes the planet.

All of Earth is reduced to frozen white waste, except for a cross section of people who have boarded a ginormous train driven by a perpetual motion engine on a track that circumvents the entire globe, one revolution per year. The plot itself revolves around a group of rebels led by Chris Evans and Jamie Bell, stuck in steerage in the "Tail" of the train, battling their way forward to the "Head" in search of justice.

Along the way, they release drug-addled engineer Nam (Kang-ho Song, star of The Host) from his cryogenic sleep. Nam is valuable to the rebels because he knows every inch of the train, and Song is invaluable to the film for his hipster sarcasm. (Read more)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Unleash the books!

Happy Publication Day to Alias Hook! Today, my little book officially releases in its multiple US editions—hardcover, ebook, Kindle, and audiobook. Sniff, I'm so proud…

Big thanks to the wonderful folks at Thomas Dunne Books who have helped me get this puppy out into the world. Without them, I wouldn't have had a clue what to do.

But look at me now—I'm on a Blog Tour!

Don't worry; I don't expect you to read every guest post and/or interview I've done for these sites. There will NOT be a quiz!  But if you're looking for something new to read, I encourage you to check out some of these book blog/review sites.

Most of them update every couple of days, and the range of interests is wide!

Happy reading to all!

July 1: Icey Books - review

July 1: Sara's Organized Chaos - review

July 3: Passages To the Past – review, excerpt, giveaway

July 5: Harlequin Junkie – excerpt, interview, giveaway

July 7: – review, giveaway, original essay, republishing ‘The Story Behind ALIAS HOOK’

July 8: USA Today’s Happy Ever After – round-up of Fairy Tales Revisited

July 8: The Lit Bitch – excerpt, giveaway, review

July 8: A Bookish Affair – review

July 9: Booksie's Blog - review

July 9: No More Grumpy Bookseller– excerpt, giveaway
There'll be bubbles involved later today...

July 9: The Window Seat on a Rainy Day -review

July 10: No More Grumpy Bookseller– review

July 11: Dear Author -review

July 11: Reading Frenzy – interview, giveaway

July 14: She Reads– Picture This – guest post

July 14: Gone Pecan – excerpt, giveaway, review

July 14: Oh Magic Hour - review, interview, giveaway

July 15: A Bookish Affair – interview, giveaway

July 15: Books-n-Kisses— interview, review

July 16: Literary, etc. – excerpt, interview, giveaway

July 17: Let Them Read Books – excerpt, giveaway

July 18: Let Them Read Books – review

July 19: Cheryl's Book Nook – review, excerpt, interview, giveaway

July 21: Mary Gramlich– review, excerpt, interview, giveaway

July 22: Cocktails and Books– review, interview, giveaway

July 23: My Friends Are Fiction – review, interview, giveaway

July 24: Reading the End – review, giveaway

July 28: Reading the Past– interview

July 29: Dark Faerie Tales – review, guest post

Monday, July 7, 2014


It's only a few scant hours before the US edition of Alias Hook officially launches!

My author's copies of the hardcover arrived today, and what a vision they are, sigh! It never gets old, opening up a box like this. Talk about Christmas in July!

Meanwhile, now playing on the Amazon page for Alias Hook is an excerpt from the Audible audiobook—which also releases tomorrow—expertly read by Ralph Lister!

Click on the "Listen" doohickey and prepare to be transported to the Neverland.

A 25-stop Blog Tour is also getting underway as we speak, wherein generous book blog proprietors allow me to flail away in guest posts or answer interview questions, all from the privacy of my own keyboard. Okay, I already do all of that here, but the cool thing is, many of these blogs are hosting giveaways of my book—as in free!

Like Amy Phillips Bruno at her excellent book blog, Passages to the Past. Her Alias Hook giveaway is open until July 13, so check it out!

Okay, all together now: 3...2..1...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


There I was, cruising around on the Internets today, when I stumbled upon this lovely thing.

It's the new cover art for the upcoming audiobook of Alias Hook, and  I think it's pretty cool!

This image has it all—mermaid, fairy, flying boy, pirate ship, and a tropical island. And just a hint of a mysterious female presence—so mysterious, you might have to look twice to see her.

(Not to mention how perfectly color-coded it is to this blog! How did they know?)

The audiobook is releasing on the same day as the US edition, July 8. It will be read by Ralph Lister and it's available for pre-order as we speak as an Audible Audio Edition from Amazon.

Or you can pre-order it from Blackstone Audiobooks.

Sadly, there are no sample audio snippets available, at least, not yet. Guess we'll have to wait until next week!