Monday, April 29, 2013

Five Reasons to Watch SyFy's Defiance

I'm not the biggest science fiction fan out there, but I do enjoy the genre on occasion, esp. when it's done with a dystopian vibe. I decided to check out SyFy's new series, Defiance, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the first two episodes. The network is generally hit or miss with it's original programming, so it's encouraging to see something as interesting and well-made as their BSG remake (which is also the last show I really got into on SyFy).

Wikipedia has an informative write-up on the show which gives a lot more background than what's been revealed so far. The gist is that several species of aliens (collectively called Votans) were forced to evacuate their own planets and came to Earth looking to colonize. When they discovered humans living there, negotiations began for some kind of permanent settlement for the aliens while millions of them waited in hypersleep on the many Ark ships in orbit. Things went horribly wrong and a war ensued which nearly wiped out both humans and aliens and destroyed much of the planet. The show takes place in St. Louis, now named Defiance, after the war and how aliens and humans live together in that particular town.

I highly recommend giving Defiance a try, even if sci-fi isn't your thing. Here are my five favorite aspects of the series so far:

1. Original Landscape - So, the idea is that some time during the war with Earth, alien ships were sabotaged and sent crashing into the planet. Terra-forming technology aboard some of those vessels went crazy upon impact, resulting in a wild, unplanned transformation of the Earth's surface. Basically, everything is kind of a mash-up of alien and native flora, fauna and wacky land formations. The entire setting is unique and interesting.

2. Cool Creatures - The aliens are cool and all, but there are other creatures that were created when alien and native plants and animals mutated and blended. One kind was encountered fairly early in the pilot, a giant insect called a Hellbug, which reminded me of those old Jim Henson Garthim creatures from the movie The Dark Crystal, heh. I hope we get to see more crazy mutant monsters in future stories.

3. Cultural Details - I love that the show's creators took the time to really develop the cultural distinctions for the various alien races now living on Earth. Several characters speak in their invented languages, and there's even a pretty humorous "dance party" scene showing the Castithan race's peculiar boogie moves to the beat of an alien song. There was also some thought put into the generational gap and the disparate views between the older aliens who remember their former world and lifestyles and the younger ones who have only ever known the new integrated planet.

4. Bad Boys (and Girls) - Grant Bowler does a decent job of channeling Han Solo in his role as former Marine Joshua Nolan (seriously, all he needs is one of those Wookie/Sasquatch look-a-like Sensoth aliens as a sidekick). But despite the obvious rip-off, Nolan is an entertaining and believable roguish hero. Tony Curran and Jaime Murray (love her!) are also perfect in their roles as devious Castithan couple Datak and Stahma Tarr (it doesn't hurt that they do most of their scheming in their opulent bath where Murray is generally lounging around half-nekkid). I also enjoyed the casting of Star Trek and Lost veteran Fionnula Flanagan as the trusted ex-mayor of Defiance, whose real motives seem to involve the death of the whole town.

5. Irisa and the Irathients- Played by Stephanie Leonidas, Irisa is by far my favorite character on the show. Her race is human-like and more tribal than the other aliens. She has a feral quality about her which is tempered by the fact that she was raised by her human adoptive father, Nolan. Of course, he's not exactly a stand-up citizen either, so the two make a rebellious team with their own unique sense of honor. The other Irathients ride around in Mad Max fashion, robbing and scavenging and causing lots of general chaos where they go. It's fun to watch, and I'd love to see more involvement from them as the series progresses.

If I was more of a gamer, the fact that the show has a video game out as a companion to the series might have made my list. I probably won't get the chance to try it out, but it sounds very neat, especially since the game periodically adds new information based on what happens in the show. I would love to hear from anyone who has had the opportunity to play and see how the game progresses with the TV series.

Defiance is a promising new take on dystopian sci-fi, and I’m eager to see where it goes. The third episode airs tonight on SyFy, but the previous two are available on Hulu (and probably the network website too) if anyone wants to get caught up.

If you’ve watched the show already, what do you think? Which are your favorite or least favorite aspects of the series so far?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti: A Magical Bakery Mystery--Another Witch and Witchcraft Challenge Review

In book two of the Magical Bakery Mystery series, Savannah baker and hedge witch, Katie Lightfoot, has her lovely afternoon picnic with her good friend Declan McCarthy disrupted by police. After she has discovered the body of a Druid lying under a rhododendron bush in the middle of town.

Discovering writers and series that you would not have picked up before is what reading challenges are especially good for. This is more than confirmed for me as I get to revisit Bailey Cates' wonderfully witchy cozy.  I did not pick up her first book in the series, Brownies and Broomstick, but I am adding that to my post-challenge reading list.

Poor Katie Lightfoot!  Not only did she find a dead Druid, but she ends up crossing paths, and magical swords, with the head Druid himself.  She and her coven members have to keep their craft secret even while they all work with her to find out how the man died.  They have to keep out of danger and under the radar of a witchhunter. And she has to do this all while negotiating the romantic rivalry between two men she wants to trust: one a witch, one blissfully not.

Characters--I found the characters charming. But they are Southern and should be charming, right?  The bad guys are properly sinister. No, really scary.  I don't like witchhunters and Cates' done a good job of making sure I don't change my mind.  I like her juxtapositions of real world occupations with supernatural.  

Worldbuilding--there is not much world to build in the world of Katie Lightfoot. She lives in Savannah Georgia. We get a sense of historical place and life among Southern friends.

Fresh Factor--There is a lightness to the story, in spite of the seriousness of the situation. Katie's familiar is a dog.  A Cairn terrier to be exact.  Having a small, purse-sized dog for a familiar... and running a bakery... That's a tricky couple of things to manage for anyone.  I found myself looking forward to Katie's time with Mungo.

Pros and Cons--Whenever Cates introduced an idea that I might consider a con, she takes it and turns it gently in a direction that I find myself cheering.  One of my favorite scenes is the art show. Cates expresses some interesting ideas about art.

Overall I am looking forward to reading more of Katie Lightfoot's story.  I"m giving the novel ****1/2 stars.  Not five?  There is much that I expect from a cozy mystery and Cates has provided it, but nothing that surprising.  The witch part of the story is fun and flows. I'm just saving that last half star for something that makes me go, "Whoa!"

 Meanwhile, here are books one and three!

What have you read that makes you go, "Whoa!"  What speculative fiction cozies have you read?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Finding the right worldbuilding plan for your fantasy story

Many fantasy writers struggle or worry about how to build their new worlds—how much detail, when to describe the settings, how characters should interact with the setting. To simplify the process, begin with an analysis of the story itself. Three basic relationships between plot and setting will help you more easily decide your direction with worldbuilding.

1) The Home Base

In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Hogwarts is a clear example of a setting that serves as a recurring home base. This type of story revolves around a recurring “there and back again” cycle. Readers can develop a sense of home that ultimately becomes a character in itself. The collective circus environment in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern becomes as vital as the individual characters themselves.

To write this type of fantasy, spend time developing your home base to make readers feel at home, in a place they will want to revisit.

2) Landmarks
In this type of fantasy, characters visit a series of known landmarks. These stories benefit from use of a map to aid the reader. An example of this relationship between story and setting is found in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The narrative is a linear journey, traveling from one landmark to the next.

To plan this world, the writer needs to determine what will be the landmarks. How will the geography of terrain traveled mirror the ups and downs of the quest or journey?

3) The Unknown
Characters may be led into unchartered territories. Many dystopian fantasies are structured this way. No one knows what is around the corner. Reader and main characters are in the same boat.

In this type of story, the writer should not world build in advance. Let the characters discover the new world along with you to make the element of surprise more natural and believable.

Which type of relationship between setting and story do you like in your fantasy fiction?  To read? To write?

I generally like a more grounded story with a home base, but also enjoy quests that take interesting journeys. I'm usually not drawn to read or write fantasies with worlds that are totally unknown to all the characters.


Photo credit:
Hogwarts:    This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author:  David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Falling in Love

Author Leigh Bardugo writing style has captured my heart.  She is an extraordinary writer who creates a fantasy world so real you can step into them.  I know I did with her Shadows and Bones novel.    I wanted more.

Luckily, I found The Witch of Duva, a companion folk tale to her Shadows and Bones book.  It’s a short story with the same setting as her book, which is the fictitious Russian-inspired Ravka.  You could say this is a loose retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story with twists and surprises at every turn.  It starts strong and doesn’t let up.
“There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.

It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.””

The story is short, so I won’t give anything away.  Plus, it’s free.  You can get it here.
Till next time,




Monday, April 15, 2013

Decorating With Books

Every time I move I'm forced to face an ugly truth - I'm a hoarder. A book hoarder. It's a problem I've struggled with most of my life, and no matter how many books I donate or swap, there's always more coming in to replace them. The worst part is that my husband is an enabler, so the cycle continues.

Whenever we settle into a new house I’m amazed that we ever found room for them all in the old one. My writing study is a much smaller room in this home, so I’ve been forced to spread out our shelving space, and even use some of it for other things (gasp). Another issue is the open layout of the main floor which has a high ceiling and lots of decorative nooks in elevated places. I’ve never had to deal with such things before and it’s been a challenge figuring out what to do with them.

In particular, there is a rather large area above the fireplace that screamed for something wonderful to be placed there and admired. But what? I finally opted to try and kill two birds with one giant pile of musty old books, and I think it turned out pretty well.

I have a collection of classics and outdated study books scraped together from various sources that came from my grandparents house before it was demolished. I dragged them up a ladder and stacked them at varying heights in a somewhat spiral pattern. Then, I just threw a few knick-knacks and small paintings around, and suddenly it looked like an artful display.

The skull is made of wood and belongs to Hubs. I little macabre, but he loves it. The overall effect:

I suspect the book piles will become a theme around the house until I acquire the proper number of bookshelves to hold them. Maybe not anything as fantastical as the stacks in Flourish & Blotts, but you can find all sorts of ways to use small book stacks for decoration. I’ve stacked them under a lamp on a desk, beneath a large fruit bowl in the kitchen, and of course, right on the floor next to a cozy reading chair. No one ever has to know that my innovative interior design is just a sneaky way to cope with my addiction.

Any other ideas? Where do you display your books?


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dating publishers

Yeah, I said "dating".

I signed up with Net Galley to see what kinds of reading and reviewing mischief I could get into.  thought it was a good way to find new Witch and Witchcraft Challenge books. I was right. Got a couple of good ones which opened me to the idea of getting closer to publishers.  Hence "dating".

My first date was a hit!  You read about my date in my last post: Midnight Ink.  I had already hooked up with Net Galley when the Witch and Witchcraft Challenge came along.  Add to that our on-going Bewitching Books blog tour and I hit the jackpot.  Shame it wasn't a real date.

Let's move on.

A soon-to-be-published friend just added me on Facebook and, perusing her friends list, I found a published writer lurking there.  Not telling yet. I just got notice that I am free to read and review his book. The publisher?  Angry Robot.

The name is familiar but, since I was off in La La (ahem) Writer-land, I didn't investigate.

So, why get close to a publisher?  As a writer it's kinda obvious. To get noticed.  But what is the advantage as reader?  It's like any relationship--you get to participate.  You get to know authors and their works.  Get to be introduced to authors you might not have considered.  A whole new circle of friends that happen to live inside the covers of books. Virtual or otherwise.

The book I've proposed to read and review is not on my Witch and Witchcraft Challenge list. Wrong section of the speculative continuum.  It will give me a bit of a rest from witches though.  However, I'm at the very shiny edge of a novel that I found on another publisher's date.  Have you heard of Weightless Books?  No?  I'll be introducing you right after I bandage my impatience.  Check out Ginn Hale.

Meanwhile, tell me, do you have favorite publishers?  How do you find new writers to fall in like, if not love, with?  Any recommendations?

Monday, April 8, 2013

What to do when you fall out of love...with your favorite T.V. Show

For the past few season I have been an avid Vampire Diaries fan, but something died inside of me about six episodes ago and I couldn't force myself to continue to watch. I have five episodes still unwatched on my PVR and I can't see myself watching.

I've blogged about the excitement of Vampire Diaries at the end of last season and couldn't wait for the new season to begin. Elena had died with Damon's vampire blood in her body and had risen as a vampire, while still Stefan's girl. Since then Elena has decided that she loves Damon and doesn't love Stefan in "that way" anymore. Elena's character has morphed into a heroine that I don't respect and can't empathize with. Actually she drives me crazy now!

I'm not sure if it's the love triangle or just the lack of sense of the heroine. The last time that I felt this way I was reading the last book of the Twilight series. Now I LOVED the first two books, but then as I started through the third one, Bella's whiny voice got to me and although I finished the series in less than a week (who needs sleep?) I had a bad taste in my mouth. And then once it hit the big screen, it was even worse. I had to make myself go to Eclipse and the first part of Breaking Dawn. And I have yet to watch the second part of Breaking Dawn. Why? Because I can't stand the whiny heroine, even when she learns to stand on her own two feet.

My PVR is running out of room and last week my husband asked if he could delete my Vamp Diaries because I wasn't watching them and I refused worried that my love and devotion could be sparked back up. After seriously thinking about it, I'm on my way to hit the "delete" button myself.

Has this ever happened to you? Any shows or book series that you devoured only to lose interest? Are you a fan of Vampire Diaries? Have you lost interest? Gained interest?

Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 5, 2013

Mystical Rubies—drops of blood from battling dragons—in Fantasy Fiction

I’m putting the final touches on the fourth book in my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, entitled Staurolite, which will release this month. In Staurolite, I’m expanding and developing the foundation of the magical lore of my fantasy world. The basis of magical power is a group of four mystical gemstones that connect with the four Chinese elements of nature: air, earth, fire, and water. The book’s title is actually a known gemstone, staurolite. The gem corresponding to fire I have chosen to work with is the ruby. In my series, it serves as one of the four powerful keystones which can empower the good Alliance to overcome the threatening attacks of the evil Dark Realm.

When I selected the gem that would be my keystone corresponding to fire, I considered many attributes that would make it an empowering symbol. My fire keystone plays a strong role, with a power so great it can easily overtake those who attempt to control it. I was intrigued by rubies from the moment I learned those gems have long been known as hardened drops of blood from battling dragons.

The gemstone ruby has held a regal position in myth, legend and lore for thousands of years. Rubies are said to respond magically, warning of danger by changing their color. Catherine of Aragon wore an infamous ruby, rumored to have turned dark and dull the day before Henry VII announced he was divorcing her. Rubies engraved with fantasy animals, like dragons and serpents, have been popular for attracting wealth and enhancing magical energies. A ruby was considered to be an important gift to honor Buddha and Krishna because the Hindu people believed the gemstone's red glow came from an internal flame which no human could possibly extinguish.

Many believe the gems possess energy to help overcome forces of darkness, protecting wearers from malicious spirits and evil spells. As a shielding stone, it can send out protective energies to surround the wearer at all times. This is an especially good way to help prevent psychic attacks. It is a stone of authority, excellence, but also of vanity. It brings to its wearer happiness and love. A ruby can strengthen the heart, restore lost forces, drive away melancholy, awaken passion and sexual desires. Its energy is intense and vivid, helping you see your own strength to encourage leadership and increase concentration and intellect.  

The power of ruby may help you know and follow your dreams and bliss, to change your world. To help improve your ability to enter a lucid dream state, wear or carry a ruby during your sleep. The gem is thought to help you to remain lucid while entering the dream state and increase your ability to control the dream without slipping into a normal sleep pattern.

With all this power, I had no trouble selecting the ruby to be my fire keystone. Throughout the Enchanted Bookstore Legends series, Lyra comes upon the forces of this special stone. In Heritage Avenged (book#2), she is drawn to a ruby displayed by the Dark Alchemist, Tarom. Lyra is born under the Aries fire sign and cannot resist the powers of the fiery ruby which are like her own. He knows this and tempts her with a taste of what the ruby’s energy can do to multiple her own powers, eliciting dark qualities of greed to pull her off her path of what is noble and good.

In Lost Volumes (book #3), Lyra travels into the underground world of Terza and learns how the first Scribe also fought against the seductively powerful Emtori Ruby she was expected to remove from the collection of the Black Dragon. Lyra discovers a startling fact—the ruby was hidden rather than destroyed as most thought. It still exists!

In Staurolite (book #4), Lyra learns how the first Scribe worked hard to control the Emtori Ruby and avoid allowing its powers to overtake her own. Lyra wonders if she will be able to control the valuable keystone when she must locate it and return it to the Alliance.

Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four

Lyra McCauley, current Scribe of the Alliance, is the only one who can decode magic hidden in the recently retrieved ancient texts written by her ancestors, the first four Scribes. Information in those writings can help Lyra locate the four missing keystones, which will restore power to the Alliance and allow overthrow of the Dark Realm. With peace restored, she and her beloved, Cullen, could finally marry.

Time is short with the Black Dragon’s Dark Realm increasing attacks to avenge the death of his heir. Many innocent lives are lost. Alliance residents are forced into hiding. Magicals and blue dragons follow leadership of the Imperial Dragon and the other three Guardians into battle to defend the Alliance.

While Lyra unlocks the ancient magic, she opens herself up to scribal powers from her ancestors. She alone can fight the deadliest of the Dark Realm’s forces—the cimafa stealth dragons—but at a cost. The energy flux threatens her health and ability to learn where to find the missing keystones. Can Lyra overcome this shrewd tactic of the Black Dragon to decimate the Alliance?

Other references to rubies in fantasy fiction come to mind. I’m a big Harry Potter fan and remember rubies showing up several times throughout that series. Godric Gryffindor’s sword was adorned with egg shaped rubies. Rubies filled the Gryffindor house hourglass. Also, goblins in Gringotts wizarding bank kept busy weighing piles of rubies.

What other works of fantasy do you know that use rubies in mystical or magical ways?

Photo credit: Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, and Book Three, LOST VOLUMES. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

"Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.”

At first I was excited  to be reading this book because the writing style was attempting something different and unique.  But, it became a tapestry of broken images   study in futility with it’s strikethroughs, repetition of words and sentences, an over abundance of metaphors and similes.  I wanted to like this book because of the poetic prose, but when the metaphors, some of which had no correlation to the story, popped up on every page, with every feeling or sense felt it became too much of a good thing.  The author does have a flair for poetic imagery, but it took over the story.  And for me, characters and the story rule.

While reading the book, my questions weren’t about what was going to happen next, but when was the story going to begin.  It is written in the POV of the heroine, Juliette with a very tight first person, so much so that it had a claustrophobic feeling to it with no breathing space. 

Also, I found the story and the characters to be predictable which could have used the writers imaginative writing style to lend it some uniqueness.  I did think I was reading something I had read or seen before with characters that are similar to the X-Men. 

So, did I hate it?  No, but I didn’t like it either.  It’s more along the lines of disappointment that the writer didn’t temper the style of writing to allow the story to emerge.  Although frustrated with this book, I think the writer shows promise.  I will look for future books from this writer but will not read the rest of this series.


There is a bare minimum of worldbuilding.  Because most of the descriptions are tied to metaphors, which are abstract in nature, I had to imagine for myself what the settings looked like.  I think it’s good to allow the reader to create to some extent the surroundings, but if done too much it all becomes a dream and nothing is concrete.  Also, the whys and the hows of the way things work in this society is missing. 


Overall Juliette Ferrars, whose head we are in through out the story shows spunk and holds on to her humanity in a world that has none. I think, if a reader loves to be in the head of the main character and is only interested in being in the stream of consciousness of a character’s thoughts and feelings, then this is the character and book for them. 

Adam Kent the love interest, is too perfect to be real.  Enough said.

Note: The romance storyline didn’t have any hiccups along the way.  It was a pretty smooth ride for these young lovers which rang untrue to me.  Even, Cinderella lost the prince after the ball.

Pros and Cons:

I think I’ve covered those issues already.


As I said earlier, I was disappointed in the follow through of this story.  I wouldn’t recommend this book unless a reader was looking for something different in writing style.  

Till next time,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Pitch Perfect April

Happy April Fool's Day, and I hope everyone had a smashing Easter holiday! Life is getting back to normal, slowly but surely. I'm about halfway unpacked at the new house, so you can all imagine what a mess it is in here right now, LOL. Still, April is already shaping up to be a fantastically productive month, I just hope I have the energy to keep up.

Our friends at Savvy Authors are hosting another wildly exhilarating Boot Camp writing marathon which is sure to keep everyone on track for the month. I’m not participating, but I will be hosting and attending sprints, cheering others on and squeezing in some work of my own. It's very last minute now, but you can probably still sign up and join a team if you'd like to give it a shot.

On top of that, the site is also featuring a Pitch Perfect event where you can rub virtual elbows with and learn a few things from some wonderful agents and publishers. Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to pitch your future best-selling novel!

I’m sure there are plenty of other fun things happening in April, but I’ll be too busy being  buried under a pile of boxes or wrist deep in paint to notice. Shout out in the comments if you have any super events or news to share.

Speaking of sharing, I simply had to post this video from my current favorite group, Chic Gamine. I’ve needed plenty of music to keep me motivated during the move and into the settling stage, and this Canadian Motown-inspired quintet has been just the thing. Yes, it really is just four singers and a percussionist, and they totally rock. Enjoy!

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