Star Turtles All the Way Down: Supernatual and Superhero Romance Blog
A blog dedicated to supernatual and fantasy romance novels, Star Turtle Publishing (Cassandra and Elizabeth Gannon), and the writing process itself.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
New Kindle supernatural romance: The Mad Scientist's Guide to Dating
My new book "The Mad Scientist's Guide to Dating" is now available on Amazon:
Saturday, January 24, 2015
New paranormal romance cover preview
Here's a sneak peek at the cover to Elizabeth Gannon's next book, "The Mad Scientist's Guide to Dating"! It should be released within the next few days.
It's a collection of short stories adapting classic novels into comic book style villains, such as Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre as a mad scientist. Although they're set in the same universe as my other books, they are self-contained and don't require any additional backstory or reading.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Superhero Romance Character Bio #15: Cynic
Wow, it’s been a really really long time since I did one of these. I found this one in my files today and I remember writing it, but I don't remember posting it yet. So, I'll post it while I'm finishing up writing the short story collection (completed the second story now and am steadily working my way through the last one, FYI. I have a rough draft of a cover done, so it hopefully shouldn't be too much longer until it's published.)
We’ll go with one of my favorite characters to stick in a scene to make something happen: Cynic. This will have spoilers for [book:The Guy Your Friends Warned You About|17235223].
Cynic is a man who has a lot of names. He seems to refer to himself in his own head as “Cynic,” so that’s what I tend to call him as well. His “real names” include Steven O’Probrian, Steven Maguire, Steven “the enigmatic billionaire” and “The Dullahan.” Cynic first joined up with the Consortium after responding to a newspaper ad they placed looking for help, and he now runs their “Department of Information Gathering and Unrestrained Criticism,” although what exactly that entails has never really been established. If I had to guess, I’d say that Cynic’s job involves gathering intelligence on the other Capes and villains which inhabit the city. Honestly, it’s difficult for me to really go into too many details on that though, as he doesn’t seem to take the job too seriously and definitely doesn’t devote much of his time to it. The others seem to accept this though, so I guess they’re used to it. In any event, he claims to know everything about the city and often takes things to paranoid levels.
Cynic is on the taller side, but not as big as Poacher or Wyatt. He has short dark brownish hair, which Marian claims he wears in “whatever style it formed when he got out of the shower in the morning.” He has red eyes which glow when he’s angry or emotional and he swears a lot. A whole lot. I’m not entirely sure how or why he picked up that habit, since I seriously <i>never</i> swear at all, but he can be counted on to swear at least once every time he opens his mouth. He is known for wearing tasteless T-shirts and sandals everywhere, even to formal functions, and he has a habit of complaining about utterly insane things, such as the fact that the National Park Service is out to destroy him or his theory on how “He-Man is responsible for global warming and the rise of the internet.”
Cynic has the power to bend reality to form whatever twisted version of it his own fractured mind imagines. Since he’s rather insane, this appears to be a simple matter for him. In fact, most of his problems seem to come from the fact that twisting reality is too easy, and it happens without his intention. It’s also difficult for him to remember what reality looked like before he started messing with it, and as such, he avoids using his powers whenever possible.
Cynic is a deliberate attempt to stray from the normal romance novel hero. On his surface, he’s… not especially romantic. He describes himself in some rather less-than-glowing terms, such as:
“…the man on the wanted poster the cops took to your door to caution you was moving into your tranquil neighborhood.”
“Whenever a car cut you off in traffic, Cynic was the man behind the wheel laughing at you; the man who pushed his way to the front of every line you’ve ever waited in; the man who put that dent in your car door, then walked away smiling. Wherever there was a girlfriend telling you horror stories about boorish and awful things her exes had done, Cynic was each and every man she was complaining about.”
Personally, I think he’s a little hard on himself. I think he usually means well. Sure, he says some truly insane or annoying things at times, but he almost always has a reason. Usually it’s almost entirely about getting Marian’s attention. He seems to enjoy emphasizing his worst qualities whenever she’s around, because he knows that it will get her to talk to him.
Cynic’s main family ties are his brother Ceann, his sister(s) Morrigan, and his new wife, Marian. He seems to have a lifelong rivalry with his brother and feels that the man is better than him at everything. He blames himself for the loss of his brother’s head, although the exact circumstances behind the event haven’t been revealed. He seems to get along pretty well with 30% of his sister, but doesn’t appear to be on the best of terms with the remaining 60%. As for Marian, he seems to mold his entire life around what she wants or what might get her to notice him.
I’ve always said that I based Cynic on an utterly platonic friend of mine. I’ve known the guy for at least ten years, and he’s very much like Cynic (or at least he was in those first few appearances in Yesterday’s Heroes, anyway). Although Cynic strayed from the friend's personality fairly quickly, there’s still a big piece of the oblivious but good-hearted jerk in there. Ironically, right after I wrote Guy Your Friends Warned You About, the friend in question reconnected with his high school girlfriend who he hadn’t seen for years and who is now a single mom. They were just married, and surprisingly, she totally smoothed out all his rough edges. Pretty incredible, really. Never really saw him as a responsible figure, but her kids just love him. We’re all very proud of him. :)
Cynic's name is entirely random. I don't know where I came up with the codename and have no backstory for it other than it sounded kind of comic book-y and fit the character I was going for. His "real name" is also fairly random, consisting of a vocabulary word from a legal case I was reading at the time and a line from the movie "The Sure Thing."
In it, John Cusack is arguing with his love interest over the name of her hypothetical baby, and suggests she name it Nick, because: "Nick's a real name. Nick's your buddy. Nick's the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn't mind if you puke in his car. Nick!" When I was writing Cynic, who I assumed at that point would be a throw-away character to fill a scene, I thought of the line and stole the name because that was the type of person I imagined Cynic to be. In my haste and idiocy though, I remembered the line as being about "Steve" instead of "Nick" and chose it for Cynic. Of course, Cynic didn't like the name Steve either, for some reason, so his name stayed the more formal "Steven." There's no storyline reason for that, he just didn't like being called "Steve." ...Like I said, it's weird.
In any case, Cynic’s one of those characters who I always enjoy writing because he gives me a chance to add some true craziness to a scene. At the same time though, I’ve always felt that he was one of the sweeter characters in the series. Marian and Cynic are some of the few characters I’ve ever written who I still write random scenes for, even though the scenes don’t fit anywhere and will never see publication, just because they like to talk about random stuff with each other. He started out as an experiment to see how far I could get from the stereotypical romance novel hero, but in the end, I think he ended up being Marian’s. I think they’re sweet together.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
New vampire kindle romance novel!
Cassandra Gannon's new book "Vampire Charming" is now available for purchase on Amazon:
Not Another Vampire Book was only the beginning of the story…
Slade, King of the Vampires: For a thousand years, Slade lived a rarified existence on an enchanted island. Now, he’s stuck in modern day Chicago and he hates it. His destined mate has divorced him, his people have abandoned him, and no one in the backwards human world makes any sense. He needs a new kingdom to rule. A better kingdom. Somewhere he can regain his glorious crown, defeat nefarious villains, and save a damsel in distress. Somewhere he can prove that he’s a still hero. Luckily, he knows a Witch who can transport him into a very interesting screenplay.
Jane Squire: A pragmatist and a loner, Jane doesn’t believe in fairytales. She’s got her sensible life under control, working the nightshift at a grocery store and taking acting jobs on the side. Then, the self-proclaimed “King of the Vampires” arrives to turn her peaceful world upside-down. Slade’s sure that he needs Jane to sidekick on his epic quest. Not only does the arrogant lunatic get her fired, but she’s somehow transported into the worse fantasy movie imaginable.
The Kingdom of Infinia: With script pages full of stolen dialogue, random musical numbers, a whole cast of supernatural weirdoes, there’s no denying that Jane and Slade are stuck in a swords-and-sorcery film. The egotistical (and annoyingly gorgeous) Vampire loves his new realm. Determined to overthrow Infinia’s Werewolf despot, Slade is happily battling dragons and gathering an army of Merry Men. And making Jane feel like she’s part of something for the first time in her solitary life. In fact, despite the Hollywood bad guys trying to kidnap her and the lack of hot water heaters… Jane is starting to think maybe she’s found her Prince Charming.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
New Superhero fiction short story
A new short story of mine (Elizabeth Gannon) has been published in an anthology of super-hero romance stories. Mine is sort of a prequel kinda thing for my Consortium series, but is designed to stand on its own.
It's a loose adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma." Only with super-villains. I call it: "No More Mr. Bad Guy."
Friday, May 9, 2014
There's no young adult fiction like having no young adult fiction in the 90s
When I was kid, back in the1990s, the Young Adult section of our local library comprised exactly two shelves. By the summer I was thirteen, I had read most of the hundred or so titles available and switched (much to my mother’s horror) to romance novels. Mom especially disliked the Zebra historical romances, with the extravagant, bodice-ripping covers. Wincing, but not wanting to forbid me to read, she asked me why I was couldn’t read more books meant for teenagers. The answer was simple: There weren’t any more. This was before Twilight and Hunger Games and Harry Potter created an industry. Before Amazon and blogs. This was before anyone I knew even had access to the internet. I was a veracious reader and my world of Young Adult fiction was only two shelves wide.
Mom eventually came around to my romance reading. Probably, she was just relieved that my one teenage rebellion involved a library. Still, I’m glad that thirteen year old readers today have so many more options available to them than I did. I loved Young Adult books and the ones I did read stayed with me. l especially liked romantic suspense and supernatural/horror genres that seemed to populate YA shelves back in the 90s. Twenty years later, I still remember my favorites and I thought I’d talk about them here.
BEWARE: I’m about to spoil plot points.
The Hart and Soul series by Jahnna N. Malcolm If you could travel back to 1992 and sit next to me in the lunchroom, I would be dressed in stirrup-pants, with a scrunchie in my hair, and a Heart and Soul book in my hand. This was THE SERIES, my friends. The pinnacle of literature. Ace high school reporter Amanda Hart bust drug dealers, breaks up shoplifting rings, and stop a presidential assassination, all while looking fabulous. Her (kinda/sorts/maybe) boyfriend and partner in crime-solving is street smart Mickey Soul, who runs a bicycle delivery service and keeps getting dragged into Mandy’s cases. No matter where their (oddly dangerous for a high school paper) investigations take them, he seamlessly fits in undercover, often leaving practical Mandy incredulous at his antics. Think: Remington Steele goes YA.
At its heart, this series is eight simple teen mysteries. But, the characters made it so much more for me. As a kid, the books were the perfect mix of Mandy’s empowered assertiveness and Mick’s effortless cool. They had romance and action and --if they’re maybe a little cheesy now-- that’s okay! These were the books I begged my mom to order from the bookstore and which I still have copies of on my shelves. FYI: My favorite book of the series is Too Hot to Handle, where Mick and Mandy have to investigate arson at teen clubs. Mick goes undercover as a DJ and then screws up the music, so Mandy can’t dance with the Cute-Possible-Bad-Guy. I’ll admit it. Even rereading it now, I get swoony.
Fatal Secrets- Richie Tankersley Cusick- I like everything by this author. Most of the time, her books have a plucky teenage heroine embroiled in some mystery and a couple of cute, yet enigmatic, guys helping her solve it. Of course, one of them was ALWAYS the vampire/killer/villain. And, of course, he was almost ALWAYS the guy I liked best, so I ended each story with a sad sigh and the growing knowledge that I had terrible taste in boys. But, not so with Fatal Secrets. On the surface, it revolves around a girl named Ryan, who is trying to solve her sister’s murder. The mystery is good and has a surprise ending, but it’s not the real plot.
Seen through my sixth grade eyes (and adult eyes, because I reread it and haven’t changed my opinion) Fatal Secrets is REALLY about Jinx, the brother of Ryan’s best friend. Jinx is a year younger than Ryan and is completely awesome. He’s adorably smartass-y, and handsome, and grumbles every time Ryan needs a favor in her sleuthing, but he still always helps her. When he’s not on the page, I’m flipping ahead to see when he comes back. He’s so in love with her. I KNOW he’s in love with her. WHY CAN’T HE JUST SAY HE’S IN LOVE WITH HER?!?
Then it happens. Kind of. Two-thirds of the way through the book, he gets into a fight with his sister and his sister reveals his crush to Ryan. She reads lines from a love letter that he’s secretly written to Ryan, telling her how he feels. Ryan is shocked. Jinx is denying everything, except everyone knows he’s lying. (Awww!) Embarrassed, Jinx spends a couple chapters trying to avoid her. (No!) Ryan gets kidnapped and Jinx has to save her. (Yay!) At the end, the bad guys get caught (Whatever) and Ryan asks Jinx to the dance, because she’s finally noticing his complete awesomeness. (FREAKING OUT with joy!). For real, I’ve read countlessly adult romances where I wasn’t half as invested in the relationship.
The Heartbreak Café series by Janet Quin-Harkin. This six book series was one of my favorites as a kid. In fact, I liked them so much that they inspired me to start write my own stories, so I owe the author a big “Thank You.” (Thanks, Janet!) The Heartbreak Cafe series revolves a formerly wealthy teenager named Debbie. After her parents’ divorce, she’s forced to get a job at a hamburger stand in order to make her BMW payments. Day-to-day, the restaurant is run by Joe, grandson of the owner, who rides a motorcycle and is typically bad boy gorgeous. The cast of characters are the regulars at the café, Debbie’s country club boyfriend, Grant, her often-immature parents, and her best friend, Pam. The plot is simple: Debbie and Joe can’t stand each other, fight all the time, and fall in love. Then they fight some more and break up. Joe saves Debbie from Grant’s attempted rape. Debbie saves Joe from a hurricane. Then, they’re back together. The end.
Seems kind of vanilla, right? So why did twelve year old me like it so much, when I rolled my eyes at most teen romances? Joe, of the leather jacket and smoldering eyes, is the obvious guess. (I am an unapologetic disciple of Johnny Castle.) Rereading the series, I think it was Debbie that kept me interested, though. The girl is a screw-up and a kind of a snob… But, unlike a lot of teen (and, in retrospect, adult) romances of the time, she wasn’t a wimp. She wants to help people and prove herself. As the books progress, she becomes more sure of who she is and less willing to accept crap from the men in her life. I like that she snarks at Joe, and dumps Grant, and wants to earn her own living. Considering these books were written in the 1980s, Debbie has a surprisingly modern character arc. Even as a preteen, I needed the female characters to have an equal role in the romance and these books seemed far more balanced than most.
Remember Me- Christopher Pike- Let me set the stage for you: Shari, the heroine, of this book dies early on and spends the rest of the story as a ghost, trying to figure out who killed her. Mind of eleven year old me? Officially BLOWN. Shari has to invisibly investigate her friends and family, learning more about them than she maybe wants to know. Being a girl who liked my teen boy characters to ride motorcycles, I recall being especially fond of Shari’s friend Peter. He’s dead, too, and shows up at her funeral to help her adjust to being a ghost. More than any specific aspect of the plot, the part of the book that sticks with me is his conversation with Shari about his death. He killed himself and now he’s stuck as a ghost because he’s afraid to move on. He’s sure he won’t be welcomed in heaven. Shari has to reassure him, which adds some reciprocity to their relationship, as they help each other.
Christopher Pike’s books remind me of Twilight Zone episodes: Horror/supernatural morality tales, but they don’t beat you over the head with the “morality” part. Yeah, he did the 90s YA standard “drunk teens secretly rundown a guy and now they’re being targeted one-by-one” books. (Chain Letter, which wasn’t bad, either.) But he usually delivers his message is a more subtle way. For that reason, his books always seemed a little more “adult” to me, with discussions on suicide and abortion and sex, but always delivered within in some horror plot. Oh and in his books, characters actually died. A lot of teen horror books, pulled a “Surprise, it was all a hoax!” Scooby-do thing, but not him. I liked that part as a kid, because I was equal parts romantic and morbid.
I could go on with this list with authors like Lois Duncan and RL Stein. I enjoyed them, too. These were just the stories that stuck with me the longest. My sister Elizabeth just bought me the Heartbreak Café series as a birthday gift, so I’m in a nostalgic mood and on the lookout for more books of my childhood. (Next, I plan to reread Duncan’s Stranger With my Face, which I haven’t read since I was in fifth grade. What I most remember about it? Her love interest with the antisocial personality and scarred face from a motorcycle accident. I was a girl of predictable tastes.) If you have any favorites to suggest, feel free to discuss them in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for new books to devour.- Cassandra Gannon