The Umbrella Academy Book Tag (Deshipley Edition, Of Course)

Recent Past Me: “What to blog about, what to blog about, what to blog about…?”

Recent Past Me: *comes across this “Umbrella Academy Book Tag” post on*

R.P.M.: “Perfect.”

Thanks to my housemate living half with me, half on Tumblr, I actually heard about the new Netflix original series in time to hop on the bandwagon (normally I’m five to twenty years behind everything, so this is wild), and just finished watching the first (and, so far, only) season a few weeks ago.

Umbrella Academy Tag

To briefly express my opinions in “WHAMO!” fashion:

– Holy cow, this setup is nuts!


– Reginald Hargreeves is trash.

– Klaus is a Will Scarlet archetype.

– How is this time-traveling hit man so relateable??

– Diego is low-key a mama’s boy and a mom.

– Y’all need to sit down and Talk! To! Each! Other!

– This show is a thin veneer of “cool and funny” over an abyss of PAIN AND STRESS.

– Allyn-a-Dale will definitely be doing Vanya’s look in the last episode for Halloween, this year.

– Well, that had me hooked! Will not be needing Season 2 in my life, thank you, I’ve got enough anxiety as-is.


Now then! Onto the tag, created by It’s My Birth Write on YouTube. As is my usual, I will be answering these book-themed questions ONLY with titles/characters from the Danielle E. Shipley oeuvre, because 1) these posts get written faster when I can focus in on a narrow category and 2) call it my reward for having self-published more books in the last six years than my burnt-out brain can keep an accurate count of.

1 = HELLO: Name the Best First Book in a Series

Cover w Text 06.3, frontSince two books totally counts as a series, let’s give this one to “Inspired”! It’s got a crazy high-concept premise (fictional folks wandering the line between real and imaginary as they search for a new author to house them / tell their stories). It’s got a distinctive cast of characters (each and every one very much themselves, despite having been deliberately fashioned out of other characters of mine). It’s got heart and angst and eloquent waxing on the majesty of art and its creation! Searches for self and belonging! Elements of mystery! The forging of friendships! Not to mention the Totally In-Depth Author-to-Character Q&A. “Inspired” didn’t demand its sequel – (Deshipley don’t do cliffhangers, yo) – but it hinted very politely that it would appreciate one, and “Out of My Head” and I were entirely happy to oblige. Wouldn’t cry boo to a third book, either, if I ever get around to writing one…

2 = THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: Name a Big Book Family (dysfunction is optional)

Wilderhark Calendar, October

You want a dysfunctional family? Look no further than the Sky. The Welkens of the Wilderhark Tales are a hot mess – literally, in the case of the sun king, Raeóryn; anti-literally, in the case of Aquinore, Wind of the North. There’s not one healthy sibling relationship in the bunch.

– Raeóryn puts down moon king Lumónd for being the “lesser” light

– Lumónd (and… basically everyone) disdains Raeóryn for being an arrogant dictator

– The brother winds bully their little sister Versparya (West Wind) for the comparative weakness of her breeze and the immutable strength of being their master’s favorite

– Pretty sure Euroval (East Wind) would be slightly less murderous if he didn’t idolize eldest brother Aquinore so

– Pretty sure Austeryn (South Wind) would sell any member of his family to the devil for a slice of cheesecake; and the winds don’t even eat

3 = THE WORLD ENDS IN 8 DAYS: If You Only Had Eight Days Left, Which Book Would You Choose to Be Your Last Read?

Story's End Cover, gallery size

Fortunately, eight days should be time enough to reread all of my books, since High Goodness knows I wouldn’t choose to spend my last week before the apocalypse toiling at my day job. But for my grand finale read, what could be more appropriate than Wilderhark Tales number seven, “The Story’s End”? In addition to worrying over the whispers of fate that warn the end is nigh, I could follow along one last time on the travels of minstrel marvel Gant-o’-the-Lute and his precious little apprentice, the future Allyn-a-Dale. The story would fill me with melancholy, but maybe also a spark of hope. After all, the end of the Wilderhark Tales was only the beginning of the Outlaws of Avalon. Could be that both Allyn and I are on the brink of an all-new adventure…

4 = SPACE BOY: Name a Character Who Plays the Leader, But May Not Be Cut Out For It

Camelot Cover, final w blur, text, tagline 01

That’s probably how Arthur Pendragon would describe himself, the poor dear. The Once and Future King of my “Once and Future Camelot” hasn’t had much opportunity to flex his greatness during his afterlife in Avalon Faire, and it’s not doing healthy things for his confidence. But what’s left of his broken kingdom believes in him! As do I! Pendragon for President, 2020!

5 = THROWING KNIVES: What Literary Weapon Would You Want in Your Arsenal?

Song Caster Cover, full spread updateOoh, make mine the Flute Stone from Wilderhark four, “The Song Caster”! I mean, I’ll need to learn to actually play the flute before I’ll be able to wield its unlimited power. But my sister took lessons for years; I’m sure she could give me some pointers … provided I didn’t tell her she was paving the way toward my long-anticipated rise to Dark Lordliness.

6 = I HEARD A RUMOUR: Name a Book That Has a Misleading Plotline

Swan Prince Cover, full spread updateA misleading plotline? Hmm, that’s a toughie. I fancy myself a pretty straightforward taleteller, all told. Although…! I did try my hand at a novella-long misdirection in book one of the Wilderhark Tales, “The Swan Prince”. Obviously, I’m not going to spell it out here, since it’d be Spoiler City for any readers of this post who have yet to experience my little fairytale debut. (Y’all should read it, though. Might not be as polished, storytelling-wise, as my progressively-more-excellent later works, but a nice little audience rightfully fell in love with it anyway.)

7 = KLAUS: Name a Book That Involves the Dead / Ghosts / Etc.

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe dead, ghosts, etc.? Sound like a bite-sized description of my second-most-recent novel, “So Super Dead”! I mean, the whole plot basically boils down to: Ghost girl, wanting revenge on the undead guy who killed her, enlists the help of kid who can talk to dead people; numerous casualties occur. (Also, I want an AU in which Nicky sits down to give Klaus, if not the entire Hargreeves family, some much-needed, talk-it-out therapy.)

8 = THE BOY: Recommend a Book That Plays with Time (whether it be in dual timelines, involving time travel, etc.)

Legend cover 02, frontLookin’ right at you, “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”. To quote a reviewer:

Just an aside, if you’ve ever wondered how time travel can reasonably happen, read this. It somehow makes perfect sense. Especially coming from Merlin.

…Which just blew my mind and exploded my heart to read, because y’all don’t even know how much I struggle with time-twisting plotlines, and here’s some stranger saying I nailed it! *high fives, Merlin, medieval Sherwood, Excalibur, and any other magical entity that made this moment possible*

9 = VANYA: Name a Character Who Has Buried Potential

Sir Bedivere the One-Handed. That’s all I’ll say on the matter ‘til we’re closer to launch for “The Once and Future Camelot”. *zips lips*

10 = LUTHER AND ALLISON: Name a Questionable Book Couple, and Why You Do or Don’t Like Them

They may not be my most controversial couple – (that honor probably goes to Austeryn and his wife in “The Surrogate Sea”) – but let’s talk about Gant-o’-the-Lute and Viralei of Carillon (Wilderhark Tales, three through seven). Obviously, what they had is True Love, else the spellwork of a certain Anarchwitch wouldn’t have broken with a kiss. Even so, this minstrel/princess pair seems to argue that a love can be true, yet still be unhealthy. She loved him like a hero. He loved her like music. But I have to doubt that they ever really saw each other, “The Sun’s Rival”-style. Viralei never would have tried to keep Lute in a castle, otherwise. And Lute’s heart, bless and/or shake your fist at it, never really understood the first thing about caring for people in the way that’s best for them. So do I like these two as individuals? Sure. Am I grateful their union gave us Allyn? Absolutely. Do I think their marriage was wise? No, I do not.

11 = HAZEL AND CHA CHA: Pick a Deadly Book Duo

Deathsong cover, remix 01.3Let’s just say if Molly Worth and the Kraken from “Deathsong of the Deep” ever decided to tackle a hit list together, it would be some DEATH TO BEHOLD.

12 = GOODBYE: What’s the Best Finale?

“The Once and Future Camelot” will be. Watch this space.


Ta-da! Wanna be tagged? You’re it! Have you watched “The Umbrella Academy”? Share your thoughts in the comments! Based on my reactions to this show, is there anything else you think I should be watching on Netflix?

So Super Similar: 8 Hero-to-Hero Comparisons

*Pre-Post Announcement: Starting today, and for the month of October / until further notice, new posts will be hitting the Ever On Word blog on Fridays instead of Tuesdays. Hope to see you then! Now, onto our regularly scheduled content.

Happy one-and-a-half-week-iversary to the release of “So Super Dead”! Haven’t bought your copies yet? You can do so here (Amazon paperback), here (Amazon ebook), and here (Barnes & Noble ebook)! Already bought and read through your copy like some sort of super speed reader? I hope you’ll use your powers for good and leave an honest review on Amazon! (Other review sites, personal blogs, and wherever else are great, too, but it’s the Amazon algorithmic monster that most demands a heroic team effort to overcome.)

Speaking of superheroes … well, an enthusiast could do that all day. There’s legions of them! – most different enough to stay interesting, yet same enough to keep us coming back for those tropey tricks we love. Viva la diversity, though similarity’s the main focus of today’s blog post. More specifically: To which famous superheroes would I compare the members of “So Super Dead”s Gravity Assist?

Why, thanks for asking. Let us consider…

Gravity Max = A classic hero’s hero, a la Superman. At least, that’s very much how she seems to see herself. You’d certainly have a tough time finding another super team leader more invested in standing up for Truth, Justice, and the Second Earth Way.

The eagle is totally the national bird of the moon, why not

Gravity Zero = I wouldn’t be surprised if Zero were to Supergirl as her twin is to the Man of Steel. But I’m not familiar enough with the DC heroine to know for sure. And honestly, when I think ‘flyer’, my brain goes to the movie “Sky High” and the MC’s mom, Jetstream. Surely as “mom friends” go, Zero would hardly be G.A.’s worst choice.


The Boomerang = His teleporting powers have different limitations, but I can see Boomer and a young Nightcrawler from the X-Men getting along just swimmingly.

nightcrawler apocalypse

The Luminatrix = I’m gonna go for broke and give this one to Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Because if anyone in G.A. can handle being a be-your-own-badass, firework of a super teen, it’s Trix. (Also, Boomer, you may wanna get a load of Negasonic in “Deadpool 2” for a possible reason as to why Trix doesn’t seem that into you…)


Xtra-Medium = Going back to “Sky High”, Nicky and MC Will Stronghold have an initial sense of powerlessness in common. Although, if Nicky were any “Sky High” character at all, it’s quite possible s/he would match up even more closely with Ron Wilson, Bus Driver. (When life hands you power-impaired lemons, give everyone else a lift to the lemonade … as the saying goes.)

Ron Wilson, Bus Driver


Brenna Walsh = Her ghostly phasing powers put me most in mind of X-Men’s Shadowcat. Just add in the anger and cynicism of, say, Jessica Jones.

Thackeray Kyle = It would be way too easy to compare Thackeray to a werewolf-bitten Van Helsing, so let’s try to stretch ourselves here. I’d rather match him up to someone like… the Winter Soldier. Strictly a hero? Not hardly. But a little bit super, a lot super at killing, and compelled to do deeds they’re not proud of, due to unfortunate circumstances.

Ryder Kidd = Thanks to this one line which, happily, I think I can insert here without crossing into spoiler territory…

/I don’t remember sitting in a closet,/ Ryder thought slowly. /Wait, do you mean me, or… y’know. The other me?/

…I can’t not equate poor Ryder with Bruce Banner and his struggles with “the other guy”.

In which superhero do you most see yourself and/or your favorite characters? Which of this past year’s superhero movies have you most enjoyed? On a scale of ‘meh’ to ‘so super psyched’, how much are you looking forward to reading newly-released “So Super Dead”? 😀 Tell all in the comments!

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – available now!

So Super Introductory: Meet Gravity Assist!

Hi, guys! This is Nicky, from “So Super Dead” – y’know, the young-adult paranormal novel of Danielle’s, coming out in just one week, ohmygosh! (Although you can already pre-order the e-book here and here, if you wanna support an author early.) Anyway, I’m here because Danielle and I figured that maybe, before the book’s release, you’d like to get to know some more of the story’s power players.

So far, you’ve had a chance to chat with me, Brenna, and Thackeray Kyle, back in the three-part Q&A we did a little while ago (here, here, and here). Today, I’ll give you the stats on another important character group – Second Earth* superhero team Gravity Assist! – *(Second Earth, perhaps better known to you as ‘the moon’) – complete with individual portraits, courtesy of the Powerpuff Yourself character generator. (Since, hey, the Powerpuff Girls fall into the superhero category, and the generator came with a way lower cost of time and aggravation than Danielle drawing everybody herself.)

Y’ready? Then here come the heroes!

PowerPuff G.Assist


PowerPuff Max

Civilian Name = Maxima “Max” Kent-Reagan

Superhero Name = Gravity Max

Age = 19

Power = Can increase her weight and correlating gravitational force/attraction. Is actually pretty forceful/attractive in general. (If Max wants it, you can bet it will come to her.) Also, some minor super strength.

Origin Story = Max’s powers manifested during a tantrum at the age of two, much to the consternation of her parents, now forced to maneuver a 300-pound toddler through the farmers market. Mercifully, she was quick to learn that there were better ways than screaming and falling down hard enough to produce extra moon craters to get what she wanted – e.g. persuasive speaking, politic favor-trading, throwing money around or, if all else failed, physically pulling it to her.

Raised in a philanthropic household, Max grew up seeking ways to use her manifold influence for the good of the less fortunate – and who, she figured, could be considered less fortunate than the superpowerless people of First Earth? Of course, her neighboring planet was one of the few things she couldn’t simply pull into her keeping. For the mission she had in mind, Max would need to go on location.

And she didn’t plan on going alone.


PowerPuff Zero.png

Civilian Name: Zoe Kent-Reagan

Superhero Name: Gravity Zero

Age: 19

Power: Can reduce her weight to nothing, along with any object (or living creature) carried on her person. Modes of travel include walking on air, floating, and flying. Was the most effortless Peter Pan ever to grace her elementary school stage.

Origin Story: Born weighing zero pounds, zero ounces, it wasn’t until age four that Zoe learned she could turn her power off and live on the ground without her twin sister helpfully holding her down. Even so, the sky is ever as likely a place to find Zoe as the library, the mall, or any of the odd jobs she takes around town to keep busy.

While many people compulsively contrast the Kent-Reagan twins with each other – dark and golden, butch and feminine, heavy and light – Zoe prefers to focus on what she and Max share in common: A drive to have the cake of their Bruce Wayne-level wealth, and eat bad guys for breakfast like Batman, too. Max’s initial suggestion was that the sisters fight for First Earth together, just the two of them. But Zoe argued that if a fight was indeed to be found, it couldn’t hurt to beef up the numbers on their side. (Less glory to go around, sure; but on the other hand, less danger of deadly defeat.) So she browsed her network for a glowing addition to their heroic collective.

And that’s just what she found.


PowerPuff Trix

Civilian Name: Bettrix “Trix” de Gallowen-Yang

Superhero Name: The Luminatrix

Age: 17

Power: Can absorb light into her body and beam it back out – slow ‘n’ steady glow (full-body or localized), brilliant burst, whichever. Can also turn my best friend into putty, but that’s all on him.

Origin Story: Unlike the founders/leaders of Gravity Assist, Trix never considered herself a particularly altruistic person. (Perhaps, being only half as insanely rich as the Kent-Reagans, she felt she had, at maximum, half as much to prove.) Her power manifested in reaction to a kindergarten classmate dumping purple paint on her head. Trix would go on in junior high to unlock the trick of making her hair look any color she wanted through photo-illusion. In other news, that other kid’s eyesight that’d been light-blasted to Kingdom Come did eventually return to normal.

The invitation from her sometime English tutor Zoe to join a super team was timely, a guidance counselor having just given notice that Trix needed to come up with some community service points over the summer if she wanted to graduate in time to snag a coveted fashion world internship. The idea of facing down a robotic crime boss or whatever did not greatly appeal, but getting tapped by a Kent-Reagan was no small thing. So sure, she’d put up with Robo-Crime Boss or Whoever.

…And other annoyances.


Civilian Name: Not only never mentioned in the book (because nobody important in his life ever calls him by it), but wow, I don’t know whether Danielle has any idea what his real name is. I mean, going back through her pre-drafting notes from NaNoWriMo 2012, it looks like she was thinking of calling him Gerry Ottovon. But that can’t be wholly right, because Second Earth surnames are traditionally hyphenated. Welp, that’s a puzzle she can try to work out for herself on her own time, if she wants. Or, hello, she could ask me. He’s my best friend. I obviously know his name.

PowerPuff Boomer

Superhero Name: The Boomerang

Age: 16

Power: Timed teleportation. Can materialize in any location he can see for up to five seconds before returning to his starting point. Hair displays similar bounce-back properties if you sproing it. (Ask first; don’t be awful.)

Origin Story: Unlike the rest of Gravity Assist, who finalized their superhero names in the weeks leading up to their mission, he was already going by Boomerang when we met in first grade. Other kids didn’t always know what to make of me. Boomer instantly made me his friend. In perfect keeping with his power, I wouldn’t say he’s there for me 100% of the time, but it’s guaranteed that he always comes back.

Half the time he’s gone, it’s ‘cause he’s chasing after his crush. If Zoe was the first to know about Trix’s trip to First Earth, Boomer was probably the second. Begging a spot on the team from Max was easy; the response, if I rightly recall his retelling of the conversation, was, “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have a token boy in the mix.” It would in many ways be a big step up from playing superheroes on the playground, but saving the day is nothing new for Boom.

He’s done it for me on the regular.


PowerPuff Nicky

Civilian Name: Nicky Ellenbogen-Jones

Superhero Name: Xtra-Medium

Age: 16

Power: If you haven’t yet, you can read about it here!

Origin Story: The short story I linked to above covers part of it. As for the rest, I guess you could say “So Super Dead” is as much my origin story as it is a ghost’s tale of revenge and an account of a Vampire Hunter’s deception. You guys should read it, for so super sure.


So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, galleryThe ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – coming next Tuesday!

New Year, New Book Reveal

(And new look for the Ever On Word blog! Dunno how long this particular makeover will stick around, but it’s definitely a step in the fresh direction I’m hankering for. What do y’all think? ^o^)

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, tease banner

Happy 2018, everyone! I’m back from my blogging break and busier than ever. There’s the Yosemite job, which I’ll go into in a later post. And my March publications to prepare for – the re-release of Inspired and its all-new sequel, Out of My Head. (Much more to come on that, as well.) And let’s not forget the short story I want ready for submission to the “Sword and Sonnet” anthology (because, come on. Bards! Like my minstrels would stand for me not at least trying to get inside the collection).

But today, what say we kick off my return to the blog with a first look at the Deshipley novel slated for September? Let’s start with the book’s summary:

The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

Fun, right? 😀 I raced through the first draft in NaNoWriMo of 2012. Now, just a few years later, I’ve got a much-closer-to-pub-ready draft and a shiny cover to go with it. Behold the face of … “So Super Dead”!

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

“Holy luna verde, Batman!” you may exclaim. “Who put that cool visual together??”

That would be me.

“Get out!”

No lie! I nabbed a photo from (great resource for free-to-use images, y’all!) and manipulated the moon green (because in-story reasons). Then it was over to for the title’s typography, and to for the dazzling light effect, and the rest was just a matter of fiddling in MS Paint and MS Publisher. Easy-peasy (she said, like this sort of project isn’t the painstaking work of hours).

I’ll have “So Super Dead” on Goodreads shortly, for your TBR-adding pleasure. And I’m looking forward to sharing more about the story with you as its release date draws closer. …sometime after the “Inspired”-palooza – coming soon!

Got first impressions of “So Super Dead”s cover and blurb? Share in the comments! (And feel free to rave about the novel to your book-(and/or superhero)(and/or death)-loving friends; I certainly plan to. X) Furthermore, what have you guys got planned for 2018?!

The Valkyrie Has Landed (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Cara Nolan, creation of author Roselyn Hendrickson, describes herself thus:

Undercover reporter and superhero with an unfortunate love of hot chocolate. Also living on the run, avoiding the super-human Registry and my past. Oh, and did I forget to mention I have a giant pair of wings on my back?

“Welcome, Cara!” Will greets the young lady now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – where in the worlds did you get those wings, and do they come in my size?”

Cara’s smile slides off her face. “Uh…” (Behind the curtain, Roselyn face-palms, muttering under her breath, “Of all the questions to start with, Scarlet!”) She clears her throat and shifts uncomfortably. “I, uh, actually, got my wings in an illegal experiment. Because the scientists in charge were trying to get back at my dad. And, uh, the data was all lost after the Registry shut the labs down, so, it’s just the one size. Sorry.”

Will waves it off. “Oh, probably for the best. Wouldn’t want everyone showing up to the party wearing the same wings, would we? So not done. This Registry, though – what’s that all about?”

“Ah, right, the Registry.” Her wings rustle as she leans forward a little. “Well, supers started showing up a little over twenty years ago. Y’know, people with super-strength, flight, invisibility… at first everyone was really excited, but… well, some of them turned to crime. That’s how my mother died,” she adds, fingering the gold cross necklace around her throat. “A couple state governments decided they needed to start keeping tabs on people with super abilities, and eventually the Feds just made it standard across the board. It was a good idea, for a little while, but…” She shrugs. “Well, everything corrupts with enough time. Now they’re not content with just keeping tabs. They’ve started hunting us.”

“#Government,” Will says, nodding. “’Nough said, kid; you’re talking to a Merry Man. Come to think of it, you might have quite a bit in common with our band, what with your undercover reporting on the run, and all. Lord, I hope that’s as cool as it sounds. What’s a typical day like for you?”

“A typical day…” She tilts her head, thinking. “Well, one of the bonuses of not having other obligations is that I usually get to sleep in, unless I have to get an early interview. I tend to have a couple granola bars stashed away for breakfast, then I’ll either find a newspaper and see if there are any super stories to follow up on, or I’ll work on an article. Around evening I’ll start working on more super-heroey things. Crime fighting doesn’t work so well,” she gestures to her wings, “but rescue work is my specialty. If things are quiet, I might drop by Franklin’s place (he’s my publishing partner) and give him one of my finished articles to send out.”

“Good stuff! Now, you mentioned when contacting me that you go by a few different aliases – Cara Nolan, Attica Wood, Valkyrie… How did you come by this collection of names? Did you choose them yourself, or were they given to you? And of them all, which is your favorite and why?”

“Well, obviously Cara is my given name, so it probably doesn’t need too much explanation. Attica Wood is my pen name. The Registry isn’t exactly happy about the articles I’m publishing, I figured why make it easy? Valkyrie, on the other hand…” She grimaces. “Eh, that was a reporter. Most super names come from reporters, actually. It’s not like we can chase supers around with a pen and paper shouting to know what they want to be called. I almost wish they had, though,” she adds grumpily. “I mean, of all the oh-so-creative names…” She shakes her head. “Anyway, my favorite? My real name, of course. Attica is one part of me, Valkyrie is another, but neither of them are really complete. They’re just masks.”

“Duly noted, Cara. Of course, it won’t take your ace-reporting Attica side to dig up my last question for you. Tell me, what is your author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” His eyebrow arches in invitation. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

She gives a mischievous smile and stands, crosses the space between them, and kisses his cheek. “Did that answer that?”

Will grins enormously. “I think I can read between the lines. On that ringing high note, how ‘bout a quick word from our sponsor?”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn, “was brought to you by Roselyn Hendrickson’s work in progress, ‘Flight of the Valkyrie’.

Attica Wood is an undercover reporter trying to bring to light the horrifying secrets of the super-human Registry. Valkyrie is a super with wings obtained in a vindictive experiment. Cara Nolan, the lost daughter of the late Registry agent, Rodney Nolan, is both. Haunted by her heritage and hunted by the Registry, Cara fights to ensure the safety of her kind and her friends… before she’s silenced for good.

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

No Good Men, But a Darn Good Book

Every now and then, there’s this book that it seems like absolutely everybody is raving about, and I glance at the premise to see if it sounds even remotely up my alley, and what do you know, it actually kind of does, and eventually I just reach the point where I scream in surrender and buy the book, praying it will at least halfway live up to the hype.

Yup, that was the case with the book to be reviewed below. Consider this my contribution to the hype.

The Book: “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy…whatever you call a superhero comic book movie of a novel.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

BlurbA masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question

My Thoughts: In a word, I’d call the book “interesting”. Not “interesting” in the diplomatic way you use it when you’re not sure yet what else you can say about a thing. “Interesting” in that it kept a firm grip on my interest. It didn’t have me racing through the pages in a panic to know what came next; it was too calm a thing for that. But when I was reading, it made me want to read on. And when I wasn’t reading, it made me rather wish I were.* Though I wasn’t emotionally hijacked, I was nonetheless totally invested. I’m not even sure how the heck Schwab pulled that off. (I wonder how much the extraordinary touch of Victor Vale** may have had to do with it.)

* (And once I’d finished reading it, I was bummed for about a day, then shrugged and started rereading it, ‘cause YOLO.)

** (And since it’s asterisk time, can I just say: I love the thing Victor does with Sharpies. It totally goes against my personal code, but no matter; it’s still cool when he does it.)

“There are no good men in this game.”

So spake one of the characters, and may well have spoken true. There was no pure white, and no solid black, leaving the reader to choose a shade of gray to root for. The villain or his wicked archnemesis; pick your pleasure. There were characters I liked more than others, characters I very much wished not to die, and characters for whom I wished the opposite. It was harder to find characters I couldn’t pity. Even the worst of the bad guys had their sympathetic half-a-moments.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): For someone (like me) who frequently finds herself drawn to the villains of a tale by their dark complexity, “Vicious” is a book to savor.

Whaddaya think, readers? Sound like a literary bandwagon you’d be game to hop on? You can sit by me. ^^