Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo Out Today!!!

The days is finally here! Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, the first book in a planned Victorian M/M mystery romance series, is out today in print and ebook format. Check the bottom of the post for buy links.

I’m also embarking on a blog tour, which includes a giveaway for one ebook copy and one signed print copy of Stoker & Bash, i.e. you have two chances to win.

If you’re looking for more info on the historical details in Stoker & Bash–some special features, if you will–you’ll want to follow the blog tour, where I’ll talk about the cheese-tastic ’90s movie that inspired the book (no joke), our favorite detective duos (ahem, Holmes & Watson), fashion, burlesque, the Victorian era’s true crime obsession, and more! I had a ton of fun writing the posts, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them.

Here’s the schedule (updated with the full schedule):

June 7 – The Novel ApproachBookLove
June 12 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
June 14 – MM Good Book ReviewsBonkers About BooksBFD Book BlogWe Three QueensInglorious Bitches
June 16 – Gay Book Reviews
June 19 – Keysmash
June 21 – Bayou Book Junkie
June 23 – Dog-Eared DaydreamsPadme’s LibraryArchaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books
June 26 – Diverse Reader

I’m so excited to celebrate the release of Stoker & Bash with all of you! I have loved these characters for so long in private. It’s a privilege to finally get to share them!

Buy links:

Amazon ebook

Amazon print

Kobo

Google Play Books

Barnes & Noble

Apple iBooks

And for any retailers or libraries interested in ordering the book, it should be available through Ingram in the next few days!!

Selina

Spotlight on… Female Directors!!

Otherwise known as “directors”. 😉

I’m interrupting my month-long Stoker & Bash promo extravaganza to speak about something very near and dear to my heart: gender equality in the film industry. Specifically, in the directing field.

Today, it was announced that for only the second time in its 70-year history, the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival was awarded to a woman, Sofia Coppola, for a film I’m dying to see, The Beguiled. Lynn Ramsay, another fantastic female director, won Best Screenplay for You Were Never Really Here, which is now also on my must-see list. Later this week, the first female director to helm a studio superhero franchise film, and only the third female director *ever* to earn herself a budget of $100 million or more, Patty Jenkins, will release the long-awaited (at least by me) Wonder Woman.

The achievements of these women are inspiring; the statistics related to them sobering. As Nicole Kidman said in her speech at the Cannes awards ceremony, only 4% of major motion pictures are made by women. And festivals like Cannes can only react to the standards set by those who control the purse strings in the industry. Until the studios get the message that we want more diverse voices writing screenplays and directing films, nothing is going to change. The only way to get their attention is by putting our money and our voices where our mouths are as consumers. (That is my not-so-subtle plea for you to go see Wonder Woman this weekend, and to take the men in your life along with you. Studios want to see results in every demographic.)

Another staggering stat: women account for half of all graduates of film school, but only 5% end up getting jobs in the entertainment industry.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast that made this same argument, but then the commentators could not list any female directors other than Patty Jenkins and Ava DuVernay (who directed Selma, is the creator of the series Queen Sugar, and the first woman of color to helm a $100 million plus film). One of those commentators has been an entertainment reporter for over a decade, and the other is a professional screenwriter and former entertainment news magazine producer! And they couldn’t even name-check Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), the only woman to ever win a Best Director Oscar.

So I am here, fellow pop culture feminists, to empower you with information. There are some brilliant female directors working today, doing expert, entertaining work across all genres. Here are some of my personal favorites (FYI, I don’t do horror films, but there have been some interesting female directors doing very good work lately).

Please seek out and squee about their work! Give them your money! Send the studio bosses the message that there should be gender parity in Hollywood! Let them hear you roar!

Andrea Arnold has mostly transitioned into directing television for Transparent and I Love Dick, but before that made the breath-stealingly claustrophobic Red Road and the engrossing Fish Tank, featuring one of Michael Fassbender’s best-ever performances. She also made an interracial Wuthering Heights.

Amma Assante made one of my favorite comfort watches, Belle, as well as the inspirational A United Kingdom. I’m very excited for her latest, Where Hands Touch. 

Not only is Mary Harron a badass director, she’s also Canadian! Her two classics are American Psycho (legit one of my favorite comedies of all time, which tells you everything about my sense of humor) and I Shot Andy Warhol. She now also directs mostly for television, where there are so many more opportunities for female directors, ahem, Hollywood studios.

I adored, adored, adored Marielle Heller’s debut, Diary of a Teenage Girl, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

Lone Sherfig’s An Education is a classic coming of age story. I haven’t loved everything she’s done, but I’ll always give her films a watch.

Mira Nair made the magnificent Monsoon Wedding and so many other brilliant, heartfelt films.

I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without mentioning Jane Campion, who did The Piano, Holy Smoke, Bright Star, and now writes and directs one of the best series on TV, Top of the Lake.

Also from Australia is Jocelyn Moorhouse, whose recent The Dressmaker was more than a little insane–in the best way–and who made Russell Crowe a star in Proof.

I don’t even know where to start with my love for Suzanne Bier, who has made heartbreaking films in both Scandinavia and the US. My faves are A Second Chance and In a Better World.

Sally Potter is responsible for Orlando and unleashing Tilda Swinton on the world, and for that I will forever be grateful.

Lisa Cholodenko has had success with The Kids are All Right and High Art, but my fave of hers is Laurel Canyon. 

Gillian Armstrong introduced us to Cate Blanchett in Oscar and Lucinda, made the best version of Little Women, and started it all with My Brilliant Career.

Karyn Kusama made the awesome Girlfight and the terrifying The Invitation, both not to be missed.

This list just scratches the surface, but it’s still not enough. There aren’t enough women of color directing (as you can see from this list). And so few of these fabulous women are being invited to direct the kinds of blockbusters that white men get after having just one independent film that gets a wee bit of critical acclaim. Or, you know, their umpteenth chance to redeem themselves after a series of flops. Men are allowed to fail in ways women cannot, in every industry.

So take the time, maybe this weekend, maybe on your next holiday, to see a film directed or written by any of the crazy talented women above. If none of those intrigue, here’s an even more exhaustive list: https://gowatchit.com/lists/52-films-by-women-284752

Namaste,

Selina

Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo Available for Pre-Order!!

 

Once upon a time when I was but an innocent college student, I asked my younger sister why she’d decided to wear a zip-up hoodie out to party with her friends. Her reply? “Easy access.”

I couldn’t fault her logic then, and I can’t fault it now. Here’s your easy access to pre-order ebook copies of my new Victorian M/M mystery romance, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo! The print edition will be available on the release date, June 7th.

Amazon

Kobo

Google Play Books

Barnes & Noble

Apple iBooks UPDATE: Apparently the iBooks store is undergoing some renovations until June 2nd, so perhaps consider pre-ordering on another platform. Sorry for the inconvenience, we are all at the mercy of Apple!)

Stay tuned for info on the Release Blitz, Blog Tour and giveaway!!

Happy reading,

Selina

Stoker & Bash #1: The Fangs of Scavo is almost here!!

 

Friends, I’m so proud to finally share with you some a project that has dominated my life over the past two years. My new Victorian M/M mystery romance, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo is, as the sign above says, going to be published on June 7th, 2017, in both ebook and print format. This is the first book in a planned series–and I have serious plans for my main couple, Hiero and Tim, having outlined plots for four more books, minimum. Here’s the blurb:

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.

When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?

And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

Spoiler alert: not who he says he is. 😉

To celebrate the release, there will be a bunch of upcoming events. I hope you’ll join me every step of the way! Here are some details:

May 20th — Exclusive cover reveal at Joyfully Jay. That all-powerful sorceress herself, the Lady Tiferet, has designed the cover and it is, in her words, “panty-melting.”

May 21st — Ebooks are available for pre-order.

June 7th —  Release week & review tour blitz begins! More details on this to come… Print books should also go on sale that week.

I invite you to sign up for my brand-spanking-new newsletter, which you can see if you refresh the page. The first newsletter will go out this week, with fun bonuses and exclusive excerpts to come!

Hope you’ll all join me in giving Hiero and Tim a warm welcome to the romance world!

Selina

A Letter to Polly Jean

 

Dearest Polly,

Tomorrow night will be the first time I see an entire concert of yours live after 20+ years of being a fan. There was that time in Shepherd’s Bush, but my friend Gill and I had to leave early to catch the last train back to uni. And you opened for U2 that one time, but opening sets aren’t full sets and, as always, I was left wanting more. As I no doubt will be even after the last strum of your guitar tomorrow night because, where I’m concerned, there’s never enough of you, Polly.

You are one of the artists who showed me what kind of woman I wanted to be. Sitting in my teenage bedroom, blasting To Bring You My Love, your heartbroken, vengeful wail screamed of the things my introverted self could not. I wanted to purr at my lover down by the water, ravish him with my long snake moan. Rail at him until he wanted to be rid of me, call the betraying snake every name in the book. You taught me that feminism and melodrama were not mutually exclusive. That a romantic sensibility was nothing to be ashamed of. That there was strength in traditionally “female” emotions like longing, despair, and ecstasy. That a woman armed with her own words and a guitar is its own form of resistance.

You spoke for us: the shy girls, the insecure girls, the voiceless and the abused girls. You gave us an anthem; you made us bold. You helped us own our sexuality and our desire. Your ferocious, aching caterwaul echoed through our minds long after your songs ended, spurring us to action in our own lives. The images and ideas your lyrics conjured sank in deep, encouraging us to be vulnerable in love, to find shelter in ourselves, to create, to emote, to risk, to contemplate.

Your music achieves moments of sublimity that rival the greatest poets of our time. The swagger and growl of “Man-Size”. The operatic finale of “The Dancer”. The erotic tease of “Hardly Wait”. The sensual susurration of “Slow Drug”. The mellow opulence of “Beautiful Feeling”. The spare and devastating final words of “White Chalk”, “Scratch my palms / There’s blood on my hands”. The giddy rush of “Cat on the Wall”. The indelible lilt to your voice when you sing “The scent of thyme carried on the wind” in “On Battleship Hill”. The lyric that woke me up to my own power as a teen, “Lick my legs / I’m on fire / Lick my legs / Of desire”–the first time I had ever heard a woman demand pleasure from her partner.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that ours has been a love affair. One-sided. Epistolary. Unrequited. Tempestuous. Full of yearning from afar, ecstatic highs, prolonged absences, promises kept and broken. But always the words, the music, the voice, the guitar.

“You breathing into my mouth / I’ll take it / I’ll take it for you / You wanna sing / Then sing it through me / You got something / Left to say”.

And I can hardly bloody wait to hear it.

All my love,

Selina

Five Way to Fix #TheFlash

I didn’t want to love The Flash. Even after seeing Grant Gustin’s infectious performance on two episodes of mothership Arrow, I greeted the many promos for the show’s debut with a shrug or an eye roll. But I tuned in anyway, and that first season was something no superhero show had been since I was a kid watching OG Wonder Woman Lynda Carter swing her golden lasso: fun. A ridiculous amount of fun, in fact. Season 1 The Flash eschewed all the grimdark portentousness of the DC universe, instead imbuing a science-positive coming of age story with a lightning-fast touch. The writers packed all the thrills and excitement of the show into one simple line: “Run, Barry, run!”

Season 2 had some stumbles, but stayed the course, delivering a solid show with a great villain in Zoom, not to mention the epic crossovers with Arrow. But the season finale saw Barry make a huge mistake in initiating Flashpoint, a move that seemed motivated more by the writers’ manipulations than the character’s personality. Season 3 has had moments that returned to form–the Arrowverse crossover, episodes like “The Present” and “Dead or Alive”–but continues to suffer from some potentially fatal flaws, alienating the audience with inconsistent character motivations, some very retro morals, and angst for the sake of angst.

If it weren’t for the strength of the cast, led by outstanding turns by Gustin, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, and Carlos Valdes, I would have turned out long ago. But I just can’t quit the characters I’ve loved for three seasons. The show still has so much potential and, as we’ve seen with Arrow this year, the writers can still turn things around.

And I’ve got five (humble) suggestions for how to drag this show out of the Speed Force and back to Earth 1…

No more keeping secrets, period. I get it. Secret identities are a superhero show’s bread and butter. But The Flash has washed-rinsed-repeated this particular trope too many times to count. A character learns something that will upset someone else/the group. He/she hides this for several episodes, until the truth is finally forced out. Everyone gets angry. The team splinters. Bad things happen. They come together to learn the valuable lesson that they are stronger as a team when they are honest with each other.

But the lesson never sticks. It’s gotten so absurd that almost every week someone is keeping something vital and life-shattering from someone else, leading the show to go through the same emotional beats over and over again. Imagine the drama that could be wrought from them being upfront and honest with each other. The truth can be terrifying. Loving someone but deeply disagreeing with them can be heart-wrenching. Actually earning one another’s trust and having it stick, having them act as a team and still lose–that’s real drama. Regardless, there are so many other ways to create drama and conflict between the characters. Writers, it’s time to dig another well (but no more Wells’s, please).

Retire the speedster villains. First it was Reverse Flash. Then Zoom. Now Savitar. I think we’ve exhausted the speedster rogues’ gallery. (Alas, I know that’s not really true. But comic books are not TV shows, and you need to change it up, stat.) Doctor Alchemy had a different skill set, but he’s done now. Maybe part of the reason the plots keep recycling is that the villains are too similar and how the heroes defeat them is starting to have a same-y quality. For season 4, please challenge the team in a new way.

Give the supporting characters stronger storylines. Nobody ever does their job on this show, unless, like Cisco and Caitlin, their job is “support The Flash”. We haven’t seen Joe genuinely investigate anything as a detective since season 1. Iris got one episode where she did some investigative reporting this season, but it was coupled with her going against Barry and Joe’s wishes. Julian and Barry have both ceased to be crime scene techs altogether, and I don’t even think Wally has a job. Why does every story have to involve the whole Flash team and take place in Star Labs? Why not give Joe a spotlight episode based on an actual crime? Have Caitlin called somewhere to use her doctoring talents? Have an old friend approach Cisco to design him something amazing and have it go horribly wrong? You have one of the strongest ensembles on TV. Give them more to do.

Stop fridging and stereotyping the female characters. It’s getting kind of gross, to be honest, the way Iris has almost entirely given up her life–and might literally sacrifice it–since she and Barry got together. The writers have never really known how to use her and, while the WestAllen romance has increased her screen time, it’s given rise to such 1950s-esque moments as Joe chiding Barry for not asking his permission before he proposed to Iris, and then Iris chiding Barry for the exact same thing! Because God forbid Iris decide for herself who she wants to marry, or put her job before her relationship, or push back against the helicopter parenting/boyfriending of the two main men in her life. Not to mention the fact that the entire season hinges on Barry’s vision of her being killed, which we have to see over and over, as the various men figure out how to save her. Wouldn’t it be great if, in the end, Iris saves herself.

I’m equally baffled by the Caitlin storyline this year. I don’t think we ever got an explanation why her getting powers means she automatically has to fight this inner evil twin that constantly threatens to overtake her life. Way to promote the idea that women + power = evil, writers. Earth 1 Caitlin has never been evil–why would getting powers make her so? Why is Killer Frost written like a second identity/possessing demon? I understand wanting her to struggle to come to terms with her powers; I don’t understand why that struggle has to be against an ‘evil’ persona, or why she has to restrain herself when Wally is getting training for his new powers (women + power = danger!), or why it’s always a man who manages to bring her back to herself. “I’m scared of this thing inside of me” can be an effective plot, but there’s too much gender-loaded baggage here.

It would also be nice if, you know, the two women on the show were friends. Take a page from Riverdale, The Flash.

Barry needs to stop being such a dick. In the hands of a lesser actor, a lot of people would have tapped out on Barry by now. Grant Gustin is a jewel, and they need to pay him all the money for how he salvages their mediocre, repetitive storylines and selfish version of Barry. The show falls over itself to underline what a great leader Barry is without providing a shred of evidence to prove it. Every time Barry is challenged in the slightest way by someone on the team, he pulls ranks and acts out like a cranky toddler. Every time he’s tried to teach Wally or Jesse or someone about their powers and they make a mistake, he flips out on them and tries to fix everything himself. He regularly goes into “bullying jock” mode when threatened. He is a horrible teacher. He keeps essential, life-threatening secrets from his team. He makes decisions based on personal griefs, which screws things up catastrophically for everyone else, then sulks about it when someone points it out. These are not the actions of a capable leader. They are the reactions of a guy still maturing into adulthood. Which would be fine, if the narrative acknowledged that Barry is still on his journey to adulthood. Yet time and again, we’re told how great Barry is, quite a lot of evidence to the contrary. I mean, the guy proposed to his girlfriend just to change the future! Classic dick move. The only place we really get to see this wise and capable Barry is in the crossovers, when he’s dealing with Oliver/Green Arrow or Supergirl. I wish that Barry was the star of The Flash. Now he’s a guy I would follow anywhere.

Everything I’ve said here come from a place of love. I don’t want to tune out. I want The Flash to be awesome again. I know this is the family show in the Arrowverse, but that doesn’t mean it has to be repetitive, inconsistent, or flirt with sexism. And while we’re at it, how about some serious LGBTQ representation? There are currently three straight couples on the show. And the POCs often get shoved into their own marginalized subplots, away from the main action.

I criticize because I love, The Flash. Because we need a hero with Barry Allen’s spirit and optimism in these troubled times. He’s a speedster, after all–nothing wrong with keeping him on his toes.

Breakdancing with B.

My amazing friend M. texted me one Saturday as I rushed through my errands. We were celebrating her 40th birthday party that night, and she wondered if I could give someone named B. a lift. We made the arrangements, I got his details, and a few hours later, I picked him up from the metro. Only then did I realize that B. was the Syrian refugee student M. had convinced her college to sponsor.

Excited but worried about putting my foot in my mouth–apparently under the delusion it doesn’t permanently reside there–we set off. B. was lovely and shy, still adjusting to life in Canada and our winter deep-freeze. I broke the ice by immediately saying the dumbest thing imaginable, which he took very graciously. I struggled to treat him like a normal guy while desperate to ask him all the things I shouldn’t. About experiences that can’t be put into words. About languages and barriers and atrocities no human should ever witness. About the country he loved but barely escaped alive. About the journey to this place of refuge that will never replace his homeland.

We found common ground in the student experience and in our love of art. It lifted my heart to know that M.’s efforts had given a fellow artist a chance at a new life. B.’s passion is for breakdancing, and he hopes to collaborate on multi-media projects with his artist sister, who also emigrated. He’s young, that might change. But now he has choices.

In Syria, his parents forced him to study law. Here, he’s free to study what he wants, to create, to risk, to grow, to express himself to his fullest. I cannot wait to see what his future holds, how his talent, ambition, and life experience will be expressed through his art.

B. is the kind of person we are keeping out when we refuse refugees, when we build walls, when we let our politicians get away with the kind of racist and xenophobic rhetoric that is overtaking the world. The kind that inspired another young man around the same age as B., Alexandre Bissonnette, to commit an act of terrorism in the very province that B. came to escape that kind of violence. It enrages me and it breaks my heart that this place where I live, that I have called home for over 40 years, contains so much promise and, at the same time, so much ignorance. That we can welcome with one hand and shoot with the other.

This cannot stand. We cannot let it. People who watched their homes, their cities, their entire way of life be ravaged by war are asking us for help. Who are we if we turn them away? In ways small and large, we can make a difference.

The way that felt right for me was by setting up a monthly donation to the UN Refugee Agency, also known as the UNHCR. They are the world’s leading organization in helping those displaced by violence, conflict, and persecution find shelter, food, water, and medical care. You can donate as little as $20 a month, or do a one-time donation, or help with fundraising activities.

You can also give back by writing to your federal, provincial, or state politicians. By doing something charitable for the refugees in your community. By helping spread the word on your own blogs and social media. By taking on those with racist attitudes in your immediate circle.

By being the change you want to see in the world, one small step, one small gesture at a time.