17 July 2017

Can we just talk about Mad Max: Fury Road for a minute?

So Saturday night, my roomie and I went to watch Mad Max: Fury Road at our local theater because come on, you do NOT pass up the opportunity to see that movie on the big screen. Personally, I wish they'd play that movie once a month, and I'm going to explain exactly why, for those of you who may not have seen it (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU), it's quite possibly a perfect movie. Also, in the words of River Song, SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.

Stop reading now if you don't want spoilers.

The basic summary is this: The world is in shambles, irradiated from nuclear war to the point that most people's bone marrow has even become poisoned, creating what are called half-lifes. It's in this world Max Rocka-tansky (Tom Hardy) tries to survive, after failing the people who depended on him most, but he's captured by some of these half-lifes and taken to their base of operations, which is run by a man called Immortan Joe, who controls every aspect of their lives. He controls the water, he controls the food, he's created a Nordic-style religion based around himself and the vehicles his half-life War Boys use to bring supplies back to their base. It's some crazy ish, right here. And poor Max is dragged into it. Even worse for him, he's a universal donor and also out of his mind, leading him to be labeled "high octane."

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron in one of her absolute best roles) is the driver of the war rig. She's one of Immortan Joe's top officers, one of his most trusted, so when she betrays him by stealing his wives and smuggling them to what she hopes is a better life, it sets off a high-speed car chase through the desert with Immortan Joe's allies in tow. And once again, poor Max is dragged into it.

Now, here is why this movie is SO DAMN AMAZING:

  • The story: The story gives you about 3 minutes of exposition through Max's voice over and some news clips through the opening credits, and then you are OFF. It holds no punches. Just like Max, you are thrust into this world that owes you nothing--no explanations, no hand-holding, nothing. You either infer information from the scant dialogue and intuition, or you're lost. Regardless, once you're along for the ride, you figure out just how incredible this crazy-assed world is.
  • The characters: I will begin this by saying that Imperator Furiosa is one of my favorite characters of all time. She's so ridiculously flawed and single-minded that it leads to her making some huge mistakes, but she's trying to help five women, referred to by one of the War Boys as "Immortan Joe's prized breeders," find a better life away from the insanity revolving around the man in question by taking them to the Green Place, the Land of Many Mothers, where she was born. Her journey is one that I can't get enough of, and so much of it is non-verbal. Charlize's eyes, face, body language all tell the story of Imperator Furiosa better than any conversation ever could.

    And then there's Max. Max Rocka-tansky is probably my favorite Tom Hardy role, because like Charlize's Furiosa, so much of Max is in his expressions. Throughout most of the movie, that's what you get, with the addition of some sparadic PTSD flashbacks of his failures. Max is a man of few words; in the beginning of the movie, we see this disheveled man whose hair and beard are long and matted, and while we don't know how long he's been running, it's obvious it's been a long time since he's spoken to anyone. His sentences are clipped at first, sometimes one- or two-word answers if he speaks at all. For him, and for Furiosa, this is a journey of redemption, and it's there that they find common ground.

    But don't discount Immortan Joe's stunningly beautiful wives. His favorite, The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whitely), is so much more than a pretty face and a baby vessel, though that's what Joe has reduced her to. Like the other wives, she shows a strength throughout the movie that, while different from Furiosa's, is no less incredible. In what is quite possibly my favorite scene in the whole movie, the war rig carrying the wives, Furiosa, and Max is going full-speed through a canyon with Immortan Joe's caravan close behind. Joe has a perfect shot to take Furiosa out, but in her greatest act of defiance, Splendid throws open the back door and leans out, her body, especially her pregnant belly, acting as a shield for this woman who has risked so much to lead them to a better life. It's truly a beautiful scene, one that gives me chills and tears every damn time.

    Each wife has her own fully rounded personality, her own agency. I could honestly go on for hours about them. Even if they all have weird AF names.

    The war boys, Joe's band of fanatical worshipers, are something else, man. They basically worship Joe and the vehicles, and it's truly something to behold. This is one of those chicken vs egg scenarios where you're not sure if they worshiped the vehicles before Joe stepped up to become their dictator, or if he lead them to that place. But the war boy culture is one that deserves study.
  • The scenery: Bland hellscape? Check. But it's what you do with said bland hellscape that really matters. Because of the nuclear fallout mentioned during the beginning credits, the scenery itself becomes a character with its own story and background.
  • The stunt work: Fury Road is a throwback to a time before CGI became the go-to for stunts and set pieces. Filmed in Namibia, South Africa, and Australia, there's hardly a green screen in sight. Over 150 stuntmen were used in the movie, and the badass Mothers actually did a lot of their own stunts.

    However, when the CGI does show up, it's INCREDIBLE. Ending the first act of the movie is a huge storm wall that Furiosa drives into in the hope of losing her pursuers. Inside that huge storm wall is basically weather hell--multiple (!!!) tornadoes, bruising rain, and enough lightning to make it look more like Heavy Metal than a Mad Max movie.
  • The pacing: This movie starts off like a gunshot and doesn't stop. Sometimes it can be a little sensory overload, which is part of why it requires multiple viewings (the other part is because IT'S AWESOME). From the beginning chase scene to that last moment between Max and Furiosa, it barely gives you time to catch your breath before the next action sequence starts up. It's riveting. If your heart isn't pounding out of your chest, then either you're not paying attention, or you are dead.
  • Max and Furiosa: They're my OTP. My Ultimate Bromance. My loves. My babies. I ship them. I don't even know in what way, but I ship them so hard. 

I can seriously go on forever about this. So do us both a favor and go watch this movie.

03 July 2017

The Post I Didn't Want to Write


It's been well over a month, and I'm still having trouble finding the words. I'll never be as eloquent as his wife and her beautiful letter. But that's okay. This isn't about eloquence. This is about the sheer, brutal honesty that loss can bring, even if you never knew the person you lost.

Typically I'm not a person who mourns a celebrity's passing. It sucks, yes. It absolutely sucks. When Bowie died, I was sad. When Prince died, I was more flabbergasted than anything else. When Lemmy passed from cancer, I hated it, but in our current society we're not getting that cure.

However, when it happens by suicide, that's when it gets real dang personal for me. Because I understand. And that's scary as hell.

Robin Williams' death left a hole in my heart that won't be filled, but I think it's Chris Cornell's that has devastated me most. And even right now, I'm still struggling to find the right words, if there are any.
Courtesy of Jan Childers, taken 5/10/17

It wasn't just that he was an incredible vocalist--actually my favorite of all time, not kidding--or that he was a pioneer in a genre and was somewhat overlooked, though Soundgarden was LEGENDARY.

Part of it might be that I'd literally seen him one week before his death, playing in Indianapolis, sounding amazing, looking amazing, being amazing. It was easy to see his kind spirit and gentle soul as he sang and talked to us in the crowd. I'd been hoping and praying Soundgarden would play at Louisville's awesome music festival in October, watching the interwebs, following their route. Maybe it was that I'd only seen him once, and once wasn't enough until it suddenly had to be.

Maybe it's because he had crippling anxiety and that the very medication prescribed to help him ended up killing him. Maybe it's because I feared his history of drug addiction would be used against him, a last-ditch effort to tarnish and lessen his accomplishments, his fighting spirit, his beautiful family, the foundation he and his wife had founded to help kids out of desperate situations. I remembered Prince and Scott Weiland, who was demonized after his overdose and labeled Just Another Musician. I feared that outcome, so much. For a man who I saw bits and pieces of myself in. For a man who had struggled and fallen and fought and triumphed over and over again.

The thing about mental illnesses is that they don't go away. There are points where you'll go into remission and remember what life is like. Those points are amazing; the mountaintop after struggling through the Valley of the Shadow of Our Misery and Failures.

 And there are points when you're so desperate to make the pain go away, to stop the negative and sometimes obsessive thoughts, to quell the demons that ravage your mind the way cancer or MS ravage the body, you'll do anything. For some, it's drugs or alcohol. For me, it's video games--I actually feel useful if I'm saving Ferelden from the Blight for the 20th time.

The other thing about mental illnesses is that sometimes people actually look down on you for seeking help. Because there aren't outward symptoms. Because it's all in our head. Well, yeah, it's in my head. It's a mental illness.

Those are the people who can't fathom it, and I've discovered that a large portion are the first to blame the victim when suicide is involved, whether it's from overdose or...well...what happened to Chris.

And to them, I say GOOD FOR YOU. Not in a bitter way, but in a way that's as joyful as I can muster because they don't know those struggles, they don't trudge through those dark times, they don't experience the emotional nothingness that mental illnesses can bestow. They've never felt the actual switch in their brains when a depressive episode takes over, and they've never had to watch their friends and family struggle to find the magic words to snap them out. They've never had people stop inviting them places after saying "no" one too many times, not because they don't want to but because they literally can't. They've never had to talk themselves into the most basic self-care because they don't feel like they're worth the effort. I'm glad. Because it sucks. It sucks to watch yourself fall down a black hole like you're merely a spectator to your own suffering, because you've managed to dissociate yourself from the very essence of You. It sucks to know that you're not safe with your own mind. It sucks to know that all it takes is One Bad Thing to obliterate the positivity you've so carefully crafted and nurtured. One chink in the armor and it's rendered useless. Might as well be that "high level" female fantasy armor that doesn't protect anything.

-I'm so glad there are people who don't go through that.

This post is not for them.

This post is for the ones who are terrified. If our heroes can't beat this, then what hope do we have? And to that, I say I honestly don't know. What I do know is that we have to continue carrying this banner and this burden until we can't. For ourselves. For the ones we've lost. For people who struggle and are too scared or ashamed to find help.

I'm here. If you need a therapist but you're not in a place to see someone in person, there's Talk Space. The National Suicide Prevention hotline - 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Project - 866-
488-7386. There are more options now than even when I was a kid. The internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, so utilize it. Please. Don't let the closed mind of someone who doesn't share your experiences take away your willingness to help yourself.

And if you're thinking of taking your own life, please see this post as a girl who has been scared of her own mind and understands where you are, begging you not to. These things in our heads, they lie to us. They tell us we're worthless and unloved and unlovable. We don't deserve the kindnesses of our friends and family. They tell us we're failures. NONE of that is true. You are NOT too broken to be loved. You are NOT too broken to live. The world needs you.

I need you.

Please stay.

30 June 2017


OK, well I live. I guess that's good enough, right?

Especially since it's been.....ooooooooooooooooh.......about six months since I've made a peep on here? Mah bad.

A lot has happened. Some good, some not so good. The not so good = massive depressive episode that basically stole my life. After finishing Super Sekrit Project (which is still super sekrit), I kinda fell off the writing wagon. And when that happens, nothing good follows. There's a lot that I've been thinking about, that I'll share as I shake myself out of this weird pseudo-coma I've been in.

The thing that I'm excited most about, though, is the fruition of a different sekrit projekt, one that is near and dear to my heart and deeply personal (no jokes, plz. Eh, okay, one). And that is the development of a line--somewhat by accident--with After Glows Publishing called Cupid's Cafe, which you can learn allllll about at this handy-dandy website I built. I'm hoping this will fill an untapped romance niche full of people like myself who struggle with mental illnesses and want to see ourselves not only overcome the symptoms but also find love in the process.The first two books in the line are available now, and let me tell you, the ladies who have stepped up and taken this project on are AMAZING.

And it's starting to grow more. A third book has been contracted, and a fourth writer (who isn't me!) has expressed interest. That, more than anything else, has been keeping me afloat lately. 

Over the next several posts, I'm going to share a few different things with you guys, and a lot of it might not be pretty. I've given up trying to sugar-coat my illnesses because no one sugar-coats physical illnesses, so why should I treat mine as anything less just because they're mental? If you're on board, feel free to share your own experiences, either here in the comments or on your own blog. @ me on Twitter (@lexcade), find me on Facebook, tag me on Tumblr. I want to know your stories. I want you to feel comfortable sharing them because we all need that from time to time. Want to guest post? Email me at c (dot) peace (at) live (dot) com. It's time we shake off the stigma of mental illness, and the best way to do that is through honesty and speaking our truth. 

Say it with me: I am worthy of love.

'Til next time, peeps.

12 December 2016

Uh wow

So I haven't written anything since August. That's crazy.

Fairly certain the depressive episodes that have colored the last few months have something to do with it.

But I'm not here to discuss depression (today).

And although Batman Arkham Knight has owned me the last several weeks, I'm not here to talk about that, either. I'll post a review later this week that will be a love letter to Jason Todd and what I would love to see from another installment.

Today, we're going to talk about a special breed of imposter syndrome.

A couple years ago I wrote a book approximately 10 people have read about a romance author who hasn't had a relationship in a long ass time. Claire is probably the closest to me I've actually put in a book (though she's not me and there's a difference) because I, too, am a romance author who hasn't had a relationship in a long ass time because of lasting emotional trauma that's gonna require more therapy than I have time for to deal with. And like Claire, I kinda wonder if that fact makes me less of a romance writer. I'm actually quite jaded where 99.999% of romance-related things are involved. I'm a mega-shipper of Olicity and I enjoy a good HEA, though I think happily for now is far more realistic.

So with my books, and even romantic subplots, I tend to err more on the side of realism (btw, I had to add "err" to my phone's dictionary just now, but it knows words that don't actually exist). And I realize that Jaded Romantic isn't a huge sub-genre of the community. But I'm here. And I write what I want to read. Stories that are emotionally messy. People whose worst enemies are most definitely themselves. In fact, I'm working on a project that involves a severely depressed/suicidal heroine because mentally ill people are under-represented. I know this, for I am a mentally ill person and have yet to read anything where the heroine makes me go HOLY SHIT THAT'S ME. It's why I always liked science fiction--those are some fucked up people, but it's ok because they're doing science. In fact, one of the saddest love stories for me is Mr. Fries and Nora, his wife, who (depending on the retcon) suffers from Huntington's chorea, and her husband has cryogenically frozen her to buy time until he can find a cure. Again, not really here or there.

Ok, back to this whole imposter thing. I'd love some feedback on this, btw. But my question is, does a romance author need to be in a relationship to write romance effectively? And more than that, would you as a reader feel a little gipped if you read a book and the author was someone like me with a partner and kids effectively missing from the bio? Do you think I'm just stuck too far in my head? Let me know below.

07 August 2016

So...about this Harley and Joker thing....

****Fair warning: Spoilers ahoy.****

After my two recent viewings of Suicide Squad and too much time hanging out on Twitter, I developed emotions. Suicide Squad in general gave me emotions. That whole thing with Deadshot and his daughter? ALLLLLLLL THE FEELS. And yes, I know the movie is problematic in so many ways. Adam Beach deserved a whole lot better; the Native community as a whole deserves a whole lot better. Slipknot deserved to be more than a throwaway character. But I digress.

As a Batman fan from a very young age, I actually remember the episode where Harley debuted. Originally, she was a throwaway character herself from a Joker dream sequence, but the writers decided to keep her, gave her a backstory, turned her into the character we all know and love. Before I go any further: Dear Margot Robbie, you KILLT IT.


There are plenty of people who view the movie as romanticizing Harley and Joker's relationship, but I disagree. A lot, actually. As someone who dated a man with sociopathic tendencies, I probably have a starkly different view, thanks to Robbie's very nuanced portrayal of Harley Quinn.

New 52 origin aside, Harleen Quinzel's transformation into Joker's girlfriend, as she's repeatedly called, isn't a complete transformation. Her time away from Joker has put her into a sort of identity crisis, where bits and pieces of her old life creep through to the surface. There's a lot of uncertainty in her face, where she isn't sure she wants to go back to Joker now that she has something akin to friends in Deadshot and Diablo, and eventually Croc.

One of the most telling parts of the movie is just after the ACE Chemicals flashback: Deadshot startles her and she pulls her gun on him. That kind of reaction does not happen after a happy memory, guys. Regardless of the tense situation, it's the first time up to that point she's truly shown fear. And then, the absolutely brokenhearted way in which she asks Deadshot if he's ever been in love.... She's looking for reassurance, and when she doesn't get it, she calls him a "textbook sociopath."

You see, she already knows Joker doesn't love her.

She knows he's incapable of loving her or anything else.

But here's the problem, and the thing sociopaths are experts at: Harley has no idea who she is away from him.

The Puddin collar (because it is), the jacket, hell, her entire color scheme--all facilitated by Joker. He's created her, given her the identity of Harley Quinn. Even her mannerisms are patterned after his. He's so entrenched in her that the separation has to be jarring for her, which explains why she's desperate to get back to him, because getting back to him means getting back to herself, because what is she without him? She gave up her family (she has a mom and brother, plus a dad who's a career criminal); her occupation, which is grueling YEARS of school plus a continuation of classes after you earn your degree--I actually wanted to go into criminal psychology, too; and her entire identity to be what he made her. Trust me when I say it's really, really difficult to get back to yourself after a relationship with a sociopath. And it's much easier to fill a role than rebuild when you've given everything and gotten nothing in return.

So no, I don't think the movie romanticizes Harley and Joker's relationship. I think it's actually one of the more honest portrayals we've seen. And if they'd kept in the deleted scenes of the physical abuse Harley suffered from him, the honesty would've been brutal.

22 July 2016

New Release Alert: Submissive on the Run - Tara Quan

The Story Behind the Book
Sometimes, supporting characters take on a life of their own. After selflessly aiding in the affairs of others, they sulk in the back of an author’s brain, broadcasting their past, present, and future until surrender is nigh. Thus was the case with Kim Tran, the intrepid dungeon monitor from Submissive on Display. Unbeknownst to the heroine of the first book, Kim has some unfinished business with the hero’s best friend (small world, I know). He insisted I give them a chance to sort things out, and, being a Dom, he has a knack for getting his way.
Submissive on the Run drags me back to Las Vegas’s renowned Carnivore Club, a multi-author world first penned by Kate Richards for Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand Series. This interracial BDSM romance stars a feisty sub with a strong right hook, who must contend with a spoilt rich boy determined to win her back. An ill-mannered cat and Madam Eve’s matchmaking service unite them for a night of exhibitionistic fun, which ends in a capture game and a scorching happily ever after.
To celebrate my return to BDSM romance this year, I’m giving away a $15 gift card. To enter, leave a comment here and drop your details at my website: http://www.taraquan.com/submissiveontherun 

Submissive on the Run by Tara Quan
Obscene wealth and a toxic family taught Joss Bradlee to care about no one. He moved through life in a caustic shell, fending off gold-diggers with his sharp tongue and abrasive personality. But a stubborn submissive saw past his nonchalant act, and he fell hard and fast for a girl he didn’t deserve. When she accidentally stumbled into the line of fire, he moved heaven and earth to protect her, even if it meant letting her go. Ten months later, he ensures her safety and tracks her down, finally ready to claim the one person that matters. The only problem—she wants nothing to do with him.
On the run for close to a year, Kim Tran receives a surprise call from the man who’d put her life in danger. His family hired assassins to kill her, but he’s somehow convinced they still had a chance. With their entire relationship built on a lie, she resists the instinct to sprint straight into his arms. Faced with a social divide no sane person would bridge, she cuts her losses and breaks her own heart. But the Dominant she loves has other plans, and he’s spent his entire life getting his way. Too late to run and with nowhere to hide, she faces an adversary well versed in all her weaknesses.
At the Carnivore Club, two exhibitionists meet for a battle of wills, lured by a one-night stand service, misplaced cat, and several helping hands. With the aid of handcuffs, disciplinary measures, and a capture game, a reluctant sub rediscovers the pleasures of bondage, the thrill of display, and the ecstasy of surrender.
Genre: BDSM Romance, Erotic Romance, Interracial/Multicultural

Buy Links: Amazon | ARe | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | GooglePlay | GoodReads

18 July 2016

The Story Behind the Book: Happy birthday, TTNY!

Hard to believe TTNY is a toddler now. Wow. Happy book birthday, Moira and Kiernan!

When I wrote this book three years ago, it was partially on a whim, and partially because I was searching for something to provide a small glimpse of hope. I'd been a little while out of that terrible relationship I mentioned a few weeks ago and struggling to find my bearings. No matter what I did, I couldn't make that relationship work, mostly because he wasn't willing. But I could write about people who could and were.

Until this point, I'd thought myself solely a SFF writer, no romance thank you very much. But recent heartbreak has a way of changing your mind on a lot of things, and honestly, how will I learn anything if I don't write? And how will I grow if I don't challenge myself? After all, everything I'd believed about love and forever was shattered.

So I started writing. Being me, I geared toward vampires because of course I did. I was the kid reading Anne Rice in high school, eating up everything about vampire mythology that I could, fascinated by these intensely beautiful, dangerous creatures. It was a natural go-to. But what about the story? The characters?

After a little soul searching (and a bit more wine) I started brainstorming and came up with Kiernan, a man who is disgustingly honorable and kind and loving and basically what I needed at the time. Moira was pretty simple. A hermit who spends all her time working? That was me before my relationship ended. And like me, Moira is blessed with a wonderful best friend who is there to care for her when no one else can or will.

I found a great deal of healing through the two of them. Kiernan's love and devotion to Moira has lasted from her childhood and continues to last through her self doubt and fear. And Moira finds her spirit and gets to choose the path she wants to take--to be with Kiernan--even if he's not 100% on board at first. It gave me the hope that one of these days, I'd be able to find someone to accept the flaws and the fears and the anxiety that I deal with and love me with the fullness I need.

These two will always have a lasting place in my heart. I hope you'll at least give them a place in your e-reader ;)

Vampire Kiernan Shaw has never forgotten the night twenty years ago when he’d been forced to stand by while another vampire killed a six-year-old girl’s parents in front of her. He’s spent the better part of the last two decades watching over her, protecting her and hoping for an opportunity to make amends one day.

Ever since surviving the vampire attack that killed her parents, Moira Curran has dealt with the resulting nightmares and abandonment issues the only way she could—by throwing herself into her biochemistry career, preferring a life of a hermit in her lab to facing the reality of her lonely life.

Madame Eve brings them back together for one fateful night. An immediate bond of sizzling chemistry and respect forms, but can it heal her fears and his guilt?

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance Ebooks

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