Loren Rhoads bw2

Today’s guest post comes from Loren Rhoads, the author of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy, published by Night Shade Books. The Dangerous Type is out now, followed by Kill By Numbers on September 1 and the conclusion, No More Heroes, on November 3.

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When Publishers Weekly reviewed my novel The Dangerous Type, they accused me of trying to bring the style of grimdark fantasy to space opera. I wasn’t familiar with the term grimdark — and even though I liked the sound of it, I wasn’t sure it was meant as a compliment — so I emailed my gaming friend Seth. He wrote, “Grimdark can mean different things to different people, but for me at least, if I saw a review like that, I’d immediately be interested in reading the book.” He equated grimdark fantasy with betrayals, hopelessness, and, often, social commentary. Seemed like the shoe fit…

The phrase grimdark comes from the game Warhammer 40K, whose tagline is “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.” So grimdark started out as science fiction, got applied to fantasy (think Game of Thrones), and now is wrapping a tentacle around space opera.

In The Dangerous Type, the Human-Templar War ended while Raena Zacari spent 20 years in prison, but the struggle is far from over. The Templars are dead, wiped out by a human-engineered plague. The human empire that conceived and disseminated the plague — and imprisoned Raena — has been dismantled. Humans are spread thin across the galaxy, refugees and survivors of the tribunals after the War. Still, the galaxy pays lip service to the fiction that “even humans have rights.”

Of the humans who survive, the Thallian clan epitomizes grimdark. Jonan Thallian served the empire as a nominal diplomat, capturing and torturing humans who stood against the Empire’s expansionist dreams. Blackmailed over his relationship with Raena into spreading the plague, Thallian saw his family nearly wiped out at the end of the War. The remnants hid in the depths of their home ocean, while their planet was executed in their stead, bombed into perpetual winter.

In the years after the War ended, Jonan has cloned himself sons. He’s trained the boys as human shields, cannon fodder who will throw themselves between danger and their father. Maybe that’s grim enough to earn the label. I was inspired by the stories of the child soldiers in Africa, stolen in the middle of the night and told to fight or else. When you’re a child, you do what you have to in order to survive. If they praise you for it, you learn to like it.

In an essay about “The Appeal of Grimdark,” (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/07/the-appeal-of-grimdark-by-c-t-phipps-author-of-esoterrorism/) C.T. Phipps, the author of Esoterrorism, boils grimdark down to two questions: “Is the situation screwed up beyond all repair? Do your heroes fight anyway?” Which is exactly what I’m aiming for: Raena knows as soon as she walks out of her tomb that if Thallian survived the War, he will hunt her down. She knows he will exhaust every resource, expend every minion, until he gets her back.
She’s prepared to give up and choose death until Doc tells her it’s time to take the fight to Thallian. From that point on, Raena is obsessed with training, getting her strength back, and preparing to do the job. She doesn’t expect to survive the confrontation, but as Doc says, Raena is the last person left in the galaxy who knows how Thallian thinks. She’s the only person who can bring him down.

Raena is fairly clear-eyed about her role. Thallian trained her as a killer. She’s going to kill everyone who gets between her and her former commander. As FantasyReviewBarn.com recognizes, “she does show a few small acts of mercy (and some that even she knows only remain a mercy in the short term).” She’s avenging the Templars because she’s the only one who can. Still, she doesn’t see herself as a hero, only as an agent of fate.

If that’s grimdark, that I accept the designation with glee.

DangerousType cover lo-res

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The trilogy’s home page: http://lorenrhoads.com/writing/the-dangerous-type/

Night Shade’s page: http://www.nightshadebooks.com/book_authors/loren-rhoads/

Purchase links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LT1V31

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dangerous-type-loren%20rhoads/1121330783?ean=9781597808149

Powell’s Books: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9781597808149-0

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781597808149

Social media:

Loren’s blog: http://lorenrhoads.com/blog

Loren on Facebook: www.facebook.com/loren.rhoads.5

Loren on Twitter: http://twitter.com/morbidloren


Recently I received an email from someone who had read my post about Cosplay for Old Fogies, sending me some suggestions for generously proportioned, mature women. Luckily for me, that someone – Diana Joan Bass – doesn’t yet have her own blog to put her most excellent ideas out there, and she was kind enough to consent to allowing me to publish them. Diana says about herself:
I am short and fat and I like costuming (I got into it before everybody started calling it cosplay.) I’m good with makeup and O.K. with wigs and hair, with basic sewing skills.

(Diana forgets to mention that she is also generous, thoughtful and creative – surely, the most important parts!).

Diana’s suggestions:

Miss Piggy
A good reference pictures of Miss Piggy will give you inspiration. You will need –
• Long blond wig.
• Pig snout pieces (I recommend the type that have an upper and lower segment).
• Suitable facial glue.
• A good base makeup that will go over the snout.
• Full evening eye makeup with extra false lashes .
• Satin gloves, outsize diamond look ring, string of pearls.
• Floor length evening dress or designer look tailored skirt suit.
• If you are comfortable in heels, a cuban as opposed to a stiletto, possibly in a leopard print. If not, go for the full length evening dress and flats.

Advantages
• Reasonably high recognition factor.
• Comfortable clothes unless you find it awkward wearing gloves.
• Can be accessorised with designer look bag.
• The clothes can come from your wardrobe.
• Easy to move in.
• Can be solo or couple costume, if solo Kermit puppet optional.

Disadvantages
• Requires learning how to apply a prosthetic; you’ll need to practice applying and removing it properly.
• If you haven’t worn a prosthetic before it gets hot having something glued over your face, particularly your nose.
• Wigs can also be hot like wearing a fur hat in summer.
• Having to drink with a straw – eating at all in this is tricky.

Ursula The Sea Witch from Disney’s Little Mermaid.
Costume –
Black strapless bodice with tentacle legs/skirt. My version has a stolen trident to lean on. The legs I did included disguising my legs as two of the six tentacles. There are several good versions that made a skirt with tentacles over it; decide on what is the most practical for you.

Makeup –
Golden shell pendant makeup is basically a violet skinned woman makeup over emphasised to the level of a drag queen. The near vertical hair can either be your hair and a lot of coloured hairspray or be done with a wig shaped with glue and dried upside down. Here is my favourite Ursula of those I’ve seen online:
http://ideas.coolest-homemade-costumes.com/2015/01/13/best-homemade-ursula-costume-ever/

Advantages
• Good recognition factor.
• One you can be really outrageous in.

Disadvantages
• Body paint is like really cheap fake tan – you will leave marks though powder helps and you can get violet powder as it is used to adjust skin tone.
• Strapless gowns are risky if you have to bend and people with no manners may try and get a photo down your cleavage.
• Walking in tentacles, people may not allow you enough room.

Princess Fiona from Shrek
Costume –By Thelmadatter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
• Deep green velvet long sleeved dress.
• Deep green velvet slippers.
• Green tights to match the body paint.
• Auburn wig.
• Green ears can be made from felt and either fixed into wig with hair grips or sewn onto an alice band and style the wig over it.
Makeup-
• Green body paint and and base for the face. Allowing for the altered colour, it’s a fairly normal makeup (freckles and lips are normal colours).

If you wish to do a Fiona from Shrek Ever After you can use body paint for all skin areas or use green tights and green sleeves so there’s less area to paint. The costume for that is:
• Suede or sturdy cloth top in brown.
• Wrist bracers and boot/shoe covers in the same fabric.
• Shoulder pads and protective covers on the front of the boots optional.
• Brown leather belt (see the film for details of the large metal buckle).
• Skirt is a piece of torn tartan so little or no sewing for that bit.
• Bead and claw necklace.
• Big stone effect double headed axe.

Advantages
• Good recognition
• Both costumes are reasonably comfortable.

Disadvantages
• Body paint as above; yes, you can get green powder.
• Giant prop weapons get really heavy after a short while even if you think you made them quite light.

Guest from the ballroom scene in Labyrinth
You will need –
• Cavalier/Restoration inspired fantasy gown.
• Half mask held on with long ribbons.
• Nature inspired accessories made to look slightly creepy. Can be used as ornaments on the hairstyle hair extensions or wig for the hairstyle itself.
• Ballet shoes or period shoes.

Even if you don’t sew much you can make something fairly good from a couple of old bridesmaid dresses. If you do sew well you can make a historical gown that will be useful for several other characters. You can do up a half mask with animal and nature inspired detailing. Either a direct copy from the film or simply in the general style works well.

Advantages
• A half mask doesn’t get in the way when you eat.
• The look is slightly dishevelled so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
• If you are doing the full historical gown take a look at court portraits from the era of Charles 1st and 2nd. You’ll see how good larger women look in that style.

Disadvantages
• Not as widely recognised as some others.
• Moving around in a full skirt.
• Eighties/ historical hair and the time it takes to do it and all the fixing spray/mouse/gel you have to get out afterwards.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego
Looks very good on a tall woman. You will need –By istolethetv from Hong Kong, China [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
• Red Trenchcoat and matching hat.
• Black cuban heel boots.
• Tights.
• Gloves.
• Dress.
• Glamorous makeup.
• Long flowing hair – yours or a wig.
• Optional suitcase with stickers from all over the world.

Advantages
• Good recognition
• Comfortable clothes

Disadvantages
• Wearing a coat indoors
• Being found a lot.

Freestyle Steampunk
Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsVictorian/Edwardian inspired Science Fiction. The tabloids focus mainly on the girls in a corset and short skirt but there is a wide range to work from. My first outfit was a Victorian style blouse, long skirt, waistcoat, bowler hat and goggles. Take a look at various steampunk sites for inspiration.

Advantage
• There’s room for a lot of variation.

Disadvantage
• Being asked to explain all about steampunk by somebody who read a badly written article. (Actually, this happens to all brands of cosplay – if one person is in costume, they should know everything about everybody else who wears those costumes and it should agree with this article somebody wrote to fill space.)

Sorceress/high priestess
You will need –Louis Welden Hawkins [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
• Long flowing robes and regalia to taste.

Advantage
• Comfortable loose clothing

Disadvantage
• May get a couple of “Who are you meant to be?” comments.

 


You Me & Cancer COVER

You and Me and Cancer Makes Three is a poetical journey about survival from cancer. An uplifting and enduring tale of his journey with Cancer. John held his hands around his own mortality, yet leaves the clinic whole, with much more than he ever expected: he discovers the true meaning of friendship, redemption and hope as told in his poetry. Discovering he had skin cancer, John Irvine had routine surgery in 2009. However, a few cells had gone feral and radical treatment became necessary. On the advice of his oncologist, he checked in at the Lions Cancer Lodge at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand for five weeks. In this unique poetic memoir, John Irvine tells his story with wit, honesty and emotion. The friends he makes at Waikato will become your friends; you’ll share frustration and laughter and bittersweet tears. You and Me and Cancer Makes Three by Pohutukawa Publishing Limited brings well known New Zealand poet and author to the spotlight with needed attention to cancer survivors.

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Cancer. Two little syllables that conjure up dire images and emotions. Anyone who have ever had anything to do with it will know what an ugly, vicious, all-too-often fatal affliction it can be. The temptation with such daunting subject matter might be to dwell on the horror, the grief, the fear and the pain. Alternatively, one might be tempted to tell stories of miracle cures, those one-in-a-million recoveries that are meant to be uplifting but are ultimately mocking in their rarity.
Author John Irvine is having none of that. “This is no sob story,” he says, right from the get-go. This is a tale told with simple eloquence, of life. Love. Laughter. And that peculiar Kiwi stoicism that rejects self-pity in favour of friendship and connection. Irvine complements his accessible verse with photos taken during his time in treatment, contrasting the sterile, high-tech environment of hospital treatment rooms with portraits of his fellow “inmates”, the latter radiating humour, resilience, and lives well lived.

Amazon purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/You-Me-Cancer-Makes-Three/dp/0994115180/

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About the author:

Although born in NZ, just five months after Hitler liberated Luxembourg in May 1940, John Irvine lived in Australia for 28 years, three months, fourteen days and approximately fifty-seven minutes, drifting about like a hungry Cryptococcus spore on an unreliable breeze. He is now Poet Laureate for Life in the tiny village of Colville, on the northern Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. There, on each waning moon, he lets his dark side out to play with the sheep.

He has had several collections of poetry published by non-discerning editors, including himself, and in spite of past financial losses, and against all sensible advice, he did it again in 2011 with a collection of dubious stuff euphemistically called ‘speculative.’ What might save the thing are the utterly splendid illustrations supplied at no cost by empathic and desperate, internationally acclaimed artists suffering similar ongoing delusions…