National Superhero Day

Apparently, today is National Superhero Day.
Bounty ebook
Which is cool… mostly because my protagonist, Jill Andersen, just so happens to be a superhero. “But J.D.,” I hear you saying out loud in front of your monitor, “I thought she was a cop?”

She is. She’s actually both. How does that work?

Read Bounty to find out.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget the prequel Boundless and the sequel Blood Ties.

I can think of no better way to celebrate National Superhero Day than heading over to Amazon and introducing yourself to my superhero.

But aside from plugging my own superhero, I want to take this time to talk about a hero I wish got a little more love: Batwoman (not to be confused with Batgirl; they are two completely different characters).

Batwoman is, to my knowledge, one of the few openly gay superheroes in mainstream comics (meaning Marvel and DC). She’s also Jewish — a fact that a lot of people gloss over when referring to Batwoman’s status as a strong representative of diverse representation.
Batwoman_(52_11)
Kate Kane is former military, having been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… and for a time, her book was one of the few DC books I read (we’re talking the New 52 timeline here). But she got engaged to her girlfriend, then DC editorial decided the wedding wasn’t gonna happen… cause apparently, queer characters can’t have happy endings?

Anyway, when her character’s not being screwed around, Batwoman is a lot of what people want in a character. She’s fierce, she’s loyal, she continues to soldier onward in spite of whatever’s standing in her way… in the right hands, Kate Kane has the potential to be one of the most interesting and dynamic characters in all of comics.

Instead of giving us yet another solo Batman movie, how about a Batwoman film instead?

In one of life’s great ironies, Batwoman was originally created long ago as a love interest for Batman — DC’s way of responding to allegations that Batman was gay.

All of the usual suspects will be getting plenty of love on National Superhero Day, but let’s take a few moments to recognize some of the great heroes that don’t get as much recognition… Batwoman among them.

And while you’re over at Amazon, perusing my own works… go on and give Batwoman: Elegy a read. It’s a fantastic introduction to the modern incarnation of the character, and I can virtually guarantee that you’ll fall in love with Kate Kane after reading Elegy.

And if you wind up liking Jill, too… well, then Happy National Superhero Day to me.

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An Ode To Kate Beckett

In less than a month, one of my favorite characters is going to be going away. With Stana Katic leaving the TV show Castle following this season, Kate Beckett will be no more.

This sucks, for several reasons — most of which have nothing to do with writing. But in a lot of ways, I have Kate Beckett to thank for my books, Bounty and Blood Ties.

More than one reader has told me that Jill Andersen, my protagonist in those novels, reads similar to Kate Beckett. That’s not by accident, either; when I discovered Castle a little more than a year and a half ago, something triggered whenever I saw Beckett on-screen.

See, Bounty has been a labor of love since I was in high school… emphasis, more often than not, on the labBeckett gunor part. Constant re-writes, reboots, do-overs… I could never really get the character, or her stories, right.

But along came this sometimes-lighthearted procedural about a mystery novelist who followed around a cop under the pretense of research… and everything just started to click. Jill started to click. I started to click.

I wasn’t in a writing funk before discovering Castle, but that show really turned up the proverbial wick. Adding the murder mystery element to Jill’s universe really helped things fall into place, and Jill herself was suddenly far more well-rounded and dynamic than she had been before.

In a lot of ways, Jill is similar to Beckett… but in a lot of ways, they’re also polar opposites. But were it not for Beckett — and Katic’s remarkable portrayal of her — I’m not sure I’m sitting here with two published novels under my belt and several more in the works.

I’ll be sad to see Beckett go — and take down a show that I had come to love in the process. But I’m thankful for the character and the actress, because they really helped bring forth a creative renaissance on my part. I’m a better, more confident writer because of Castle, and thanks to Beckett, Jill is a much more interesting character than I could’ve ever dreamed.

Besides, now that Katic is leaving Castle, maybe she could take the role of Jill should Bounty 
wind up on Netflix.

Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

BOOK REVIEWS: Part IV

In which I review a fun thriller from NCIS‘ Ducky and two forgettable entries from Sir Ian Fleming and Sasha Grey.

OnceOnce a Crooked Man a Crooked Man by David McCallum

As Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the long-running CBS procedural NCIS, David McCallum is no stranger to spinning a yarn. It shows in his debut novel Once a Crooked Man, which for all its faults is an entertaining read.

Above all else, it’s clear McCallum had fun writing this book. Because of that, one can’t help but have fun reading it — even on the occasion where characters act strangely or it dawns on the reader that this book isn’t quite what was expected going in.

The prose is occasionally dry and awkward, but the story never lulls. This is a fast read, with short chapters that ensure you’re never stuck in one place for too long. Once a Crooked Man does stub its toe on occasion, but the flubs are few and — a moment of dubious sexual consent late in the narrative aside — there’s nothing too terribly glaring.

The premise is far-fetched — a struggling actor overhearing a mafia plot and taking it upon himself to alert one of the targets — but let’s face it: sometimes, the flimsy, yeah-right premises make for the most fun reads.

Once a Crooked Man isn’t a book with a ton of substance; there isn’t a whole lot of meat on the proverbial bone. But it is a fast-paced, entertaining read — and there are certainly worse ways to spend almost 350 pages.

Rating: ****

Buy Once a Crooked Man on Amazon

CaCasino Royalesino Royale by Sir Ian Fleming

I confess: before discovering the TV show Castle, I never knew James Bond originated as a book character. All I knew of him was the never-ending series of movies with an equally endless series of actors playing the world-famous secret agent.

So I pick up Casino Royale and instantly find that Book!Bond is not much like Movie!Bond. Naturally, there are differences between printed page and moving screen, but the difference in character here is so stark that I spent the opening chapters of the novel trying to get my bearings.

Also, it’s important to bear in mind when this book was written — both because of prose and dialogue that is, at times, stilted and needlessly wordy and because of attitudes toward women that are grossly sexist that even the various Movie!Bonds would duck their heads in shame.

There are a share of solid passages in this novel, but Ian Fleming’s maiden voyage for 007 is too inconsistent to truly be a fantastic read, or anything resembling the character I’ve seen on the silver screen for practically my entire life. This was a good book, but not a great one — and I can’t help but wonder if my opinion in that regard is colored by the fact that, to me, Bond has always been a movie character.

Fictional novelist Richard Castle said Casino Royale was the book that made him want to become a writer. I can’t help but wonder… was it because the book inspired his budding creative nature, or because he knew he could do better?

Rating: ***

Buy Casino Royale on Amazon

The Juliette SThe Juliette Societyociety by Sasha Grey

I’m still trying to make heads or tails out of what I read here.

Full disclosure: I bought this book simply because of who the author is and my curiosity got the better of me. But in a way, already being familiar with the author (and, more importantly, being familiar with her previous career) affected my ability to be immersed in this book; I was never able to separate Catherine the protagonist from Sasha Grey the porn star. Every sex scene, I imagined Sasha, not Catherine.

And there is plenty of sex in this book, perhaps more than you might expect. It’s written well enough, but it feels a bit paint-by-numbers and if erotica is your thing, there are far better, far spicier options out there.

As for the plot itself… this book might be called The Juliette Society, but the Juliette Society itself doesn’t feature heavily. Most of this book feels like a coming-of-age story for Catherine. Much of it feels like a romance novel (though I have to be honest, much of Jack’s behavior makes no sense). It’s not until the very end that we’re fed something resembling exposition regarding the Juliette Society, and then the book ends and I was left with a definite feeling of “…that’s it?”

The most frustrating thing is, there’s potential here. There are ways in which The Juliette Society could’ve been a fantastic, engrossing read. The blurb hints at just that, but the book itself never quite delivers.

Rating: **

Buy The Juliette Society on Amazon