Friendship: The Most Super Power of All

In the early chapters of “So Super Dead” (out now!), one of Nicky/Xtra-Medium’s main goals is to fit in with Gravity Assist, the super squad from the moon out to save First Earth from… whatever. And I mean, that’s a worthy motivation, no doubt. But if we’re talking about real squad goals, Gravity Assist’s got nothing on Thackeray Kyle’s crew.

The first time I wrote about the Vampire Hunter – in a short story, several years ago – his three cameramen were just anonymous nobodies filming the drama for reality TV. When I decided to expand into a novel, I knew that wouldn’t fly. The camera trio would need names, distinguishing personalities, and a reason the standoffish Thackeray would choose to keep them close.

The reason I found was friendship, and the foursome’s group dynamic ended up being one of my favorite parts of the book. They’ve got the banter.

Demario: “Aw, that’s sweet, Kyle. But you didn’t have to make us breakfast. Especially if it smells like that.”

Mattson: “What’s the matter, D? You don’t like to start your morning with a hearty bowl of silver nitrate porridge, just like /tu abuela/ used to make?”

Brady: “What was her /abuela/, a murderer?”

Demario: “Maybe she was a Vampire Hunter.”

Thackeray: “Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

They’ve got the history.

Demario snorted. “Since when are the Vampire Hunter’s opponents /not/ faster and stronger than him? And since when has that mattered? You don’t need to be faster and stronger, because you’re /smarter/. Like, obnoxiously brilliant. I hated your guts for it through most of high school, then I got over it and decided to ride on the coattails of your genius all the way to the top. This isn’t the top yet,” she clarified. “When they offer you a movie deal based on your head-to-head match with a were-vamp and let me be director of cinematography, /that’ll/ be the top.”

They’ve got the bestie know-how.

“Don’t worry about the blood. One, it’s not fresh, just what’s been soaked into my stake over the show’s run. And two, the boiling solution ought to sterilize whatever potency it may have retained.”

“And three?” Mattson said.

Thackeray blinked toward the couch, perplexed. “Three what?”

“I don’t know,” said Mattson, a laughing light in his eyes. “There’s just usually a third thing, with you.”

Most important of all, they’ve got the love.

Thackeray thought he had mastered indifference toward all but two things: Blood, and his secret’s protection. But now he was forced to face the fact that his best friends made up a third thing. And he would really rather that they didn’t die.

…For whatever the love of someone like Thackeray Kyle is worth.

In honor of my fave “So Super Dead” friends – (and because, Cait @ Paper Fury and I agree, non-romantic ships in YA deserve 200% of the love) – here’s a list of other friendships I’ve published that fill my heart with feels:

Will Scarlet and Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon) = My BrOTP ‘til the end of forever. Book 2 refers to Will’s behind-the-scenes attempts to steer the ship in a romantic direction, but Allyn wasn’t in a place to go for that, so by Book 3, they work out something better: Brothers of the heart. Watching them fight for each other or go gooey over their matching tattoos will never not make my spirit ugly-cry.

Scarlet-a-Dale Soundwave

Crown Prince Ionquin Wyle and Princess Laraspur (The Wilderhark Tales) = This brother/sister pair have been in it together since they were rambunctious youngsters (see appearances in “The Seventh Spell”, “The Song Caster”, and “The Sky-Child”), but the depth of their relationship really shone through during their quest for the moon in “The Sun’s Rival”. They see each other – and if you don’t think that’s as heartwarming as any romance, I dunno what to tell ya.

Sir Wilbur Lamb and Uriel (Inspired) = Their author’s death brought them together, and mutual respect for one another keeps ‘em thus. …Which is saying something, since Uri doesn’t really make it a point to respect anyone lower than God. Over the course of the “Inspired” duology, we see each push the other toward their better selves – friendship at its finest.

Marion Hood and Little John (Outlaws of Avalon) = It’s the little things, man. Him letting her sit in his lap while the band strategized magical artifact recovery, Book 1. Her whispering encouragement in the bushes for him to follow his heart, Book 2. Every Merry Man pairing has its own unique energy, and something about her soft sparkle with his silent solidity results in a really cute, comfortable connection.

Edgwyn Wyle and Crown Princess Rosalba (The Wilderhark Tales) = So yeah, they’re also married, but first and foremost, they’re BFFs. Whether they’re questing side by side or separated by time and space, running a kingdom or raising their little ones, his heart and humor will keep her spirits up, and her queenly core will hold him in awe. ‘Tis beautiful music they make together.

Loren McCaughley and Eddie Millerson (Outlaws of Avalon) = It’s an ex-romance, but they’re still close friends; almost entirely sans awkwardness, even. A mutual love of Renaissance Faires, minstrelsy, classic lit, and Loren’s sister Janey keep them knit tight. Take note, menfolk: This is how you shoulder the “friend zone”.

Annabelle Iole Gray and Mach Jenius (Out of My Head) = Mach is one manic muse, but he cares SO HARD. Much of that caring, we see directed toward author Annabelle, for whom the cost of her wildest dream coming true is drastic loneliness. She gives Mach a home, and he gives her his heart, complete with his first-class cheerleading skills. Team Machabelle*, all the way.

*(My first attempt at giving them a ship name. Thoughts?)

Robin Hood and Arthur Pendragon (Outlaws of Avalon) = Straight up, we don’t get to see half enough of this pair together in the trilogy, because Camelot takes a backseat to all the Sherwood shenanigans. But the chess game flashback in Book 1 and “Reverence” story in “Truly Great Words Never Die” offer a glimpse of the alliance between these two kings, and I’m here for it. (Expect at least one more quality Robin/Arthur scene when #CamelotWIP comes to town.)

Doctor-King Villem Deere and Gant-o’-the-Lute (The Wilderhark Tales) = Candidly, Lute makes for a cavalier, prickly, flighty friend. Hence his barely having any. Villem is a rare exception – at a guess, because he sits smack in the golden zone of neither worshipping Lute (Viralei and Allyn’s mistake) nor belittling him (Wendara’s bad), simply acknowledging him as valid. It’s a shame they had so little time together, on page and off; extended doses of Villem’s healing presence could only have been to Lute’s good.

Who are YOUR fave fictional friendships? Which squad is your goal? Tell all in the comments, amigos! (And if you’ve already read / are planning to read “So Super Dead”, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, please & thanks!)

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 here (Amazon paperback), here (Amazon ebook), and here (Barnes & Noble ebook)!

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.

SUPERMAN-PATRIOTIC
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.

Jetstream

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…)

Negasonic

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

Bonus:

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!

A Ghostly Guest, Plus One Xtra (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.”

Will Scarlet's Kiss and Tell logo

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?”

Allyn says, “The blurb for the novel ‘So Super Dead’ – the release of which is, not coincidentally, today – describes her thus:

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.

“Wait a minute,” says Will, looking around. “While you read the introduction is when the narration’s all, ‘As the guest enters from the other side of the stage’, right? So…” He gestures to the empty chair across from him. “…Where’s the guest?”

“Oh, sorry!” calls a voice from the back of the house – the voice of a different ‘So Super Dead’ protagonist altogether. “I forgot. Brenna is there. You just can’t see or hear her. Because she’s a ghost.” After a moment’s attention focused toward the guest chair, the speaker relates, “And she’s peeved about that.”

“Peeved about which part?” Will asks. “Being here, being undetectable, or being a ghost?”

“All of the above.”

“Hmm. Well, that complicates matters more than usual, but hang all, it’s ‘So Super Dead’s release day, so we’re making this episode work! Allyn, rustle up another armchair! You in the back, come on down! And everyone, give it up for Nicky, aka Xtra-Medium!”

PowerPuff Nicky
Xtra-Medium to the rescue!

As the impromptu second guest heads for the stage, Allyn quotes from memory while rearranging furniture:

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.

“Welcome, Nicky!” Will greets the guest he can see. “And Brenna, if Nicky says you’re here. So glad you both could join me. First things first – if you knew no one would be able to properly interact with you, Brenna, why did you even bother to come here today?”

Nicky glances Brenna’s way, then back to Will. “She says, ‘Nicky’s not technically no one.’ Hey, thanks! …Sort of. And she’d assumed that you would be able to interact with her, since that three-part character Q&A we did, a while back, went without a hiccup. But I guess your talk show follows its own logic?”

“All my special blog features do,” Will says complacently. “And calling it ‘logic’s being generous. Now, Brenna, I know you canonically don’t like much of anything, but if you had to pick a favorite aspect of your newly released book, what would it be?”

“Quote, ‘I like when Thackeray Kyle suffers,’ ” says Nicky, grimacing. “ ‘And the villain, while hideous on the inside, has some irrefutably hot outsides. And I guess I’m Team Luminatrix; she’s mostly legit, compared to the screwball crowd she runs with.’ ”

“What about you, Nicky?” Will asks, his inclusive and encouraging grin getting a return smile out of the ghost interpreter. “Favorite book thing?”

“Well, not to be braggy, but I do like the narrative voice I bring to the story. Fun and informal, but it can go deep, y’know? And, I mean, I get Brenna’s beef with Thackeray Kyle. He did her dirty, no denying that. But, I dunno…” The mutant teen goes slightly squirmy and flushed. “I like it when he talks.

“…Brenna mutters, ‘You like it when anyone talks.’ She has a point. People talking to each other is good for a story, know what I mean? Lack of communication creates plot problems. And lack of dialogue… sure, there are books like that, but they’re not my kind. And on a not-story level – on a life level – you’ve gotta have somebody to talk to. To unburden yourself, or to help figure our what your self is and what it’s dealing with… That’s it, right there: Talking is dealing with stuff. And I’m so super here for that.”

“You’d be surprised how much talking I can do without dealing with jack-all,” Will says cheerfully. “But I like your zeal, kiddo. Now, for one last question before you two spirit yourselves away. Tell me, Brenna-through-Nicky, what is our author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” A so super big smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Brenna’s all, ‘You can kiss him if you want,’ ” says Nicky, imitating the ghost’s disdainfully flat manner of speech. “But I’m, uh, not really comfortable with the idea of kissing anybody, so… Gee, which of Danielle’s secrets are left to tell?”

Nicky mulls over the matter, before starting slowly, “This book became a lot more her, the longer we went between its first-drafting and today’s publication. When she conceived and wrote it in 2012, she was several months away from her first big dip into the depression that can still knock her down pretty far, a lot of the time. But even before poor mental health hit her personally, there we were: Brenna with what can be easily read as a clinical case; Thackeray with his violent repression of emotion; and characters like me who had to get up every day, wondering if there was a point to our existence – having to seize onto something to fight for. There’s plenty of times, in recent years, when she’s felt so super dead, or wished to be.” Nicky cracks a small smile at Will. “It’s good she’s got close friends like you to help talk her through, Sherwood hero.”

“You’d better shut up before I cry!” Will bawls, already ugly-crying. “Allyn, do something! A word from our sponsor!”

“We’ve already been over most of it,” says Allyn, “but for those who could use the reminder: Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘So Super Dead’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available today via Amazon (e-book and paperback) and Barnes & Noble (e-book only)!

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.

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

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!

Superpower Outage

Once upon a time, an author sat down and dashed off a quick little flash fic about some gender-indeterminate teenager and superpowers and shocking family secrets.

It took practically no time to write, and the author didn’t have any plans for the story beyond ‘The End’. She certainly couldn’t have predicted that the story would one day, and for some while, have a place in an online literary magazine (before said magazine vanished from the ‘net, as these things sometimes do). Or that the short story’s protagonist would make a reappearance as the narrator/one main character of three in a NaNoWriMo novel. Or that, having basically bid farewell to the idea of pursuing traditional publishing, the author would go on to someday produce a gorgeous paperback (and e-book, currently available for preorder via Amazon and Barnes & Noble) all by her independent lonesome.

And that author – *solemn nods* – was me.

And that novel is “So Super Dead”, to release on September 25th.

And that short story where it all began is, as of now, no longer missing from the internet, because never mind that defunct magazine – you can read the story right here, right now, in this blog post! Even though (full disclaimer) I would have you remember that this story and its world don’t entirely line up with the upgraded version you’ll get in the novel, because the flash fic was just typed up out of the blue with no rhyme or reason apart from from ‘start talking and see what happens.’

…Which, upon reflection, is truly the Nicky-est of story-making methods.

That having been said: Guys, gals, and assorted superheroes, I present to you…

Superpower Outage

So Super Dead 09 - Copy

(Also, since we’re throwing it back this far, here’s the cover idea I put together to go with “So Super Dead” back when it was just a NaNo project waiting to happen.)

<<<>>>

“Nicky, there’s something we have to tell you.”

I flicked my eyes from parent to parent. I’d known something was afoot for a couple of hours, now. They’d been jumpy from the moment I came home from practice, and all though dinner. They kept looking at each other and at me, whenever they thought I wasn’t paying attention. Like I’m not gonna pay attention when they act so fully suspicious, right? It was just as well they decided to sit me down on the couch and say whatever they planned to now, before my head exploded from the suspense.

“Okay…” I said. “So tell me.”

“Nicky, honey,” Mom began. “You know all those superpowers you’ve been noticing lately? The speed and the strength and invisibility and flight and teleportation and telekinesis and communing with dead plant matter, and all that?”

“Ye-eah…” I nodded, like “go on”.

“I suppose you’ve been wondering why you don’t have any powers like that.”

I had wondered.

“Well, Nicky, the fact is…” Dad hesitated a second before blurting, “You’re not like the rest of us.”

Well, no kidding. I mean, the whole personal power outage thing had made that glaringly obvious. All the other kids had at least one. “And if all the other kids jumped off a bridge,” I can just hear some parental voice saying, “would you want to jump, too?” Actually, yeah. Just last week, practically every friend I had had gone bridge-jumping, to see how close to a fatal ker-splat they could come before flying or teleporting or asking the ghost of a grapevine to whisk them out of harm’s way, and I totally hadn’t been allowed to go along. It stank to high heaven.

“So what’s the difference that’s screwing me over?” I asked.

Mom and Dad shared yet another look before Dad cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and laid down the big shocker: “You’re human.”

“I KNEW it! I— Wait, what?”

“You’re a human, sweetie,” said a teary-eyed Mom. “I’m so sorry, we should have told you years ago…”

“What the heck is a human??” I shouted.

“It’s basically like us,” said Dad, “except that you don’t get to do anything cool.”

“Oh, Dear, really,” Mom reproved. “Humans can do cool things, too. Sort of.”

“Like what?” I asked, totally shaken. I mean, what up?! Drop this kind of bomb on me while I’m in the midst of my volatile teenage years, why don’t you! There had better have been some good news on the way.

“Well, humans can, um… they can… create stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Y’know. Art. Paintings and books and music; lovely stuff, all.”

“We – well, you – can make that stuff, too,” I pointed out. “Grandpa made that 4D rock opera experience for your anniversary last year, remember? With his mind.”

“Ah, but you wouldn’t simply be creating with your mind, Nicky.” Mom’s eyes were shining with optimism, now, in addition to tears of sympathy for bursting her freak child’s bubble. “You would actually have to go through a lengthy, frustrating, soul-wrenching creative process! You would have to physically paint the paintings, and write the books, and—”

“Alright, and that’s supposed to be better how?”

“I hear it’s more satisfying,” Mom said brightly.

“I hear it’s more work,” Dad muttered. “I hear it’s a lot of time and effort for a usually disappointing end product.”

“Dear, you’re not helping.”

“No, you know what?” I snapped. “It’s fine. I’m glad Dad’s telling it to me straight. It’s about dang time. How long have you guys known about this, anyway?”

Mom went back to sniffling, so Dad answered, “Ever since we found you abandoned in the mall parking lot as an infant. Whoever dumped you there left you this.”

He reached into his pocket and extracted what looked very much like a cell phone.

My voice trembled. “What is it?”

“What does it look like? It’s a cell phone.”

“Oh.”

“There’s a number programmed into the phone’s speed-dial,” Dad told me, placing the phone in my hand.

“Did you call it?”

“No.”

“Um, why not?”

“We thought we should leave the decision of whether or not to call that number up to you,” Mom wept. “After all, it’s your tale of mysterious origin, not ours.”

Fair enough, I supposed. I eyed the cell phone in my hand, my emotions a-swirl with doubts and desire. You see, I’d always wanted a cell phone, but I’d been hoping for something a little more trendy; this old thing from like a decade-and-a-half ago wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind.

Obsolete tech of lameness aside, though, the moment of truth had come. Time to figure out where I came from, and who my family was, and how in the world this thing called a human had ended up amongst real people, as I apparently had.

I pressed the speed dial button, and brought the phone up to my ear…

“Hello?

“Hey,” I said. “Who’s this?”

Why don’t you know? You dialed.”

“Well, look, no need to get touchy. I just got handed this phone a minute ago, alright? I don’t know who this number belongs to.”

May I ask who’s calling?

“Nicky Elbochen-Jones,” I answered. “…Your child?” I guessed.

Not muddy likely,” said whoever I was talking to. “I died a virgin.”

“You’re DEAD??”

Yeah, why? Who’d you say you are, again?

I threw my hands up in the air in glee, accidentally throwing the dinosaur of a phone across the room and not giving a rat’s tail about it. “I CAN TALK TO DEAD PEOPLE!” I crowed. “I’m not a human freak after all!”

“Oh, yay!” said Mom, giving me a huge hug. “Your father and I must have simply jumped to the wrong conclusion, before. You’re simply a late bloomer.”

“We should have had more faith in you, Nicky,” said Dad, clapping a hand to my shoulder.

I just grinned. Dead people whispering trumps dead plant whispering nine times out of ten. Wait ‘til the kids in my neighborhood got a load of this!

<<<>>>

The End! …Or rather, The Unforeseen Beginning.

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” – coming so super soon!