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Author: mariebilodeau

SFF novelist and short story writer. Professional storyteller. Caffeine lover.
He-Man, Nay, Prince Adam is the Hero We (also) Need

He-Man, Nay, Prince Adam is the Hero We (also) Need

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Dearest readers,

It may have struck you at this point that I am, indeed, a Masters of the Universe / Princess of Power fan. Not just of the show, but of the various incarnations, from golden books to comic books, from newspaper strips to really weird, bad movies.

I love it all. I have many, many, many dolls, nay, ACTION FIGURES (!) to prove it.

The greatest failing of this most wondrous world so far is that there had been no full She-Ra reboot since the 80s. We’d seen her again, of course, brought into her brother’s story lines as creators (male, usually. Always.) saw fit.

But no more.

On November 13, a glorious day that shall forever be marked in history, She-Ra triumphantly returned to the streamed screen. I was excited about the new incarnation, and I already went on about it here (“She-Ra is Now Even More She-Ra“).

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She-Ra is Now Even More She-Ra

She-Ra is Now Even More She-Ra

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For the first time since 1985 (that’s 33 years, people), She-Ra: Princess of Power is getting a full cartoon reboot. Her twin brother and forefather, in a strange, slightly uncomfortable and incestuous link, has already received multiple reboots, some more popular than others (New Adventures, anyone?), but She-Ra hasn’t been seen since the 80s except in some toys and very dark DC storylines. Which mostly focused around her brother, of course.

This time, She-Ra is breaking free! And, from all accounts, she represents her She-Ra-ness more than ever before.

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Superhero TV: Remembering Fun

Superhero TV: Remembering Fun

oie_19161911CmqN6r4gThis series on superheroes was started by Derek Künsken when he chatted Supergirl! Check it out!

There are times in each of our lives when we don’t feel like embracing that darkness on TV. When we’re tired of murder and drama and stoic heroes with perfect cleft chins (scratch that last one, actually. I couldn’t get tired of that).

Sometimes, life is dark enough (loss of loved one, running out of ice cream, losing a toe, etc.) that we want to just watch something fun. We want to watch stories that both fulfill the need for heroic action while letting us have some bloody fun. We want to escape in our TV sets. (Not à la Poltergeist, mind you.)

I love heroes. I’ve loved them since I was a non-speaking English kid and thought He-Man and She-Ra were married (theirs would have been very sturdy children). I also have a soft spot for superheroes. I’ve binge watched way too many superhero episodes on Netflix so far.

My latest binge was The Flash. I hadn’t checked out The Flash yet because of Arrow. If there was to be one more flashback scene and stern, misunderstood look, I thought I’d rip my right ear off and toss it at Stephen Amell’s screen projected hotness.

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The Ultimate Holiday Shopping Guide for the Conquerors in Your Life

The Ultimate Holiday Shopping Guide for the Conquerors in Your Life

Holiday shopping is always tricky, especially for those ambitious, high-reaching and quick-to-draw-their-sword-and-slay-you-with-their-displeasure conquering types. We all have one or two in our lives!

A snake pit is that gift that keeps on giving. And taking.
A snake pit is that gift that keeps on giving. And taking.

Take some stress out of the season’s fun blood baths with our handy holiday gift guide!

For the New Conqueror

It’s the holidays for everyone, and new conquerors needs to distress while growing their frightful reputations. Get them a small village of poorly armed insurgents to slay. The easy win will foster troop moral and people will fear their ire. A win-win for everyone involved! Remember: unnamed troops need some holiday cheer, too!

For the Conqueror That Has Everything

They already have a harem, a snake pit and a fire-breathing dragon. What to get them? A seasonal gift could take the simple form of fresh heads for their Field of Warning. Gathering fresh heads constantly can be quite demanding for troops, and they’ll thank you for that brief, thoughtful respite during this holiday season. Sometimes, when shopping for someone who tirelessly slaughters so many, it’s nice to give them a break in some nice pre-packaged, still fleshy heads. Don’t forget about the environment – source local, homegrown heads to spare on shipping and preservation costs! Future generations will thank you.

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Writing in Shared Worlds: An Introduction to Hellmaw

Writing in Shared Worlds: An Introduction to Hellmaw

Hellmaw logo-smallEd Greenwood, of Forgotten Realms fame, just announced a slew of new worlds he’s created, all under the banner of Onder Librum. These are all shared world initiatives, meaning that creatives can come and create their own stories in the setting.  These worlds offer a variety of settings for readers, including sword and sorcery, space opera, hard SF, gothic romances… something for everyone.

It’s freaking cool, and at a scale that I’m not sure has ever been done before.  As soon as Ed told me about these new worlds, I jumped in enthusiastically and without looking (still falling off that cliff, and still haven’t hit a cactus). I signed up with a tight deadline for book set in Hellmaw, a dark urban fantasy shared world.  With daemons. It’s pretty fun (the second book in the series, Dragon Dreams by Chris Jackson, just came out).

I was a bit concerned about writing in a shared world. Questions bounced around my head like pop rocks in my mouth. Will I feel stifled? Will I understand the lore well enough? Will there be enough coffee????

So, with these concerns in mind, here’s what writing in a shared world helped me learn about my writing.

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Seven Important Advantages of Brunettes in a Sword and Sorcery Setting (and Life in General)

Seven Important Advantages of Brunettes in a Sword and Sorcery Setting (and Life in General)

I’m a brunette. I love being a brunette. I believe it’s both an underestimated and a lifesaving hair color. I have, in fact, studied this in my thirty-some years of (mostly) brunette-dom and sword and sorcery fandom. Today, I share my important, non-scientific and non-criticially supported findings with all of you.

There are actually three brunettes in this picture. Can you spot them?
There are actually three brunettes in this picture. Can you spot them?

1 – Brown is the Color of Dirt

That is an advantage, trust me! Being a brunette is so common that people think you could be anybody. Your own parents, should they have golden or red locks, might not recognize you from the other brown-haired child next door. This is good! Be unnoticeable. I imagine, through no personal experience of my own, that it’s also helpful in getting away with crime. *shifty eyes*

2 – You Won’t be a Giant Beacon

My roommate is a redhead. I purposefully chose to live with a redhead for a simple reason: in any invading scenario, she’ll lead off the enemy troops with her beacon of a head while I make a good getaway. (I’m not so shallow that I just live with her because she’s a redhead. She also bakes bread.)

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Six Sure-to-Succeed Sword and Sorcery Costumes

Six Sure-to-Succeed Sword and Sorcery Costumes

Barbarian cosplay 2-smallI love Hallowe’en. Little gouls running alongside little bumblebees, all demanding spoils from their neighbors… it truly is a magical time. But, as in any great holiday, the trick is not to become too complacent. There are no tiny Conans or Red Sonjas, or at least no critical mass of them. They certainly couldn’t take down the army of Iron Men and princesses. LET US CHANGE THIS! Bring back some trick-or-treating sword and sorcery cheer to this candy-laced night by wearing a classic and notable costume!

The Bloody Villager
The bell rings. Your neighbor opens it, smile wide, bowl of candy clasped in hand, when suddenly they spot a bloodied, soiled dude dragging himself to their door, begging for a piece of food, any food, while raving about attacking marauders. You neighbors won’t expect it. They might give you something better than candy, like a sandwich! They might just call the cops. Thing is, you won’t know until you try.

Chainmail Bikini Kevlar Mash Up
Kevlar-mail Bikini. Need I even explain why this is so cool? (For those in the more northern regions: frozen skin shade would go lovely with blue-tinged bikini.)

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Destroying Your Garden of Victory

Destroying Your Garden of Victory

Even princes make the time to destroy their gardens.
Even princes make the time to destroy their gardens.

Winter is coming. Not in an unspecified amount of time, either. It’s coming, like, soon (ish). The days grow shorter, the winds howly-er, and the nights demand duvets. There’s not denying it, people. It’s time to Destroy your Garden of Victory.

… why destroy it? BECAUSE OTHERWISE WINTER WINS! If you do not burn your own house, and your neighbor burns it for you instead, does that neighbor then not win? But if you burn it first, and you stand beside it like a badass warrior, then you, my friend, win. You built the garden! Now you must destroy it!

So don’t wuss out – destroy your garden now!*

1. Have a Final Outdoor Battle

Nobody likes winter battles, let’s face it. They’re cold, blood gets all frozen, swords don’t wobble as effectively and the dangers of pneumonia are real. Plus, winter armor is heavy and uncomfortable. So, invite your neighbors for that final battle now! Be imaginative in how you taunt them to battle – remember, this is your last battle for probably half a year. Steal their sheep and sheer your flag into their side. Paint their fences an ugly color. Raise flags bearing insulting taunts. Just make it clear that the battle must take place in your garden and the winner gets the Victory Goat for the next six months. (Bonus: blood is great fertilizer for when you prepare next year’s Garden of Victory!)

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Dear Prudentia: What is Best in Life?

Dear Prudentia: What is Best in Life?

He offers you lamentations. I offer you orgies. And you vote for him. Really?
He offers you lamentations. I offer you orgies. And you vote for him. Really?

Dear Prudentia,

I know how it goes. When one asks a mighty barbarian warrior: “What is best in life?” The typical answer should be: “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.” The first two are fine, but I must admit that the third one perturbs me. I mean, I don’t actually like hearing women cry. It makes me feel all sad, and I tear up easily, which isn’t good for troop morale. Once, I hiccupped a sob, tried to pretend it was a sneeze, and bit on my own recently sharpened sword to hide my grief. It looked pretty badass so the men were impressed and gave me wide berth, but still, I can only cut half of my face off so many times before I’m too mutilated to be understood. Plus, my tetanus shot is out of date and that’s bound to turn out badly. Please help me to enjoy the lamentations of women, as ever good conqueror should.

Grinning Anonymously

Dear Grinning,

First off, you should never let your shots expire. You just never know what you’ll encounter on that battlefield. Some people’s arrows are filthy with cow dung, did you know that? You could get terribly ill that way, which would tear your attention away from conquering.

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The Great Serialization Experiment: Don’t Kill Your Reader – Eat a Cookie Instead

The Great Serialization Experiment: Don’t Kill Your Reader – Eat a Cookie Instead

Write on your own tombstone. Is there anything the Internet won't do? What a world we live in, people. What a world.
Write on your own tombstone. Is there anything the Internet won’t do? What a world we live in, people. What a world.

Remember, Kids: A Dead Reader Is A Non-Purchasing Reader

Here we are, last post of this series. Thanks for sticking around! Check out the first two parts if you haven’t yet: The Lay of the Land and Attack on Multiple Fronts.

The Mad Science

Ah, the eternal question: To plot ahead, or to write by the seat of your pants? I like to strike a healthy balance between planning and OMG WHY DID I THINK THAT CAPTURING MY NEIGHBOR’S PETUNIA GARDEN WOULD BE SIMPLE AND WHY DIDN’T I STUDY THEIR SQUIRREL DEFENSE GRID MORE THOROUGHLY FIRST??? I seriously still wonder about that one, as do my scars. I enjoy a combo of planning and flying by the seat of my squirrel-shredded pants is what I’m saying, in case that was a bit much on the cap locks.

This is what I did for Nigh, but I already had two published trilogies by the time I wrote it, so I had some idea of how I draft best (hint: very caffeinated). I didn’t have book 5 written when book 1 came out, but I had my plan. A thin little plan full of hunger and pain, but a plan nonetheless. I focused on arcs (skeleton) and promises (muscles and organs), and then tacked on the skin as I wrote.

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