Casual Cosplay: Victor Nikiforov

I’m back at it.  For this outfit, I was inspired by Victor in his early days.  This outfit–based on one Johnny Weir wore–is adorable!  My purpose, though, is to be fun, not flashy.  I had to tone this down.

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I had a white shirt with a stain, so I crafted it with gel glue into a feather/diamond motif.

I paired the shirt with blue jeggings, and hipster type shoes I thought Victor would wear.

To complete the look, I added in a flower tiara.

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And some cute bracelets to show off Victor’s love of the ice (snow), and his love for Katsuki Yuri (the piglet).

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Put them all together and you’ve got a complete look!

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Casual Cosplay: Luna

Here’s another casual cosplay outfit I was really proud of.  In the Sailor Moon S movie, Usagi’s magical cat, Luna, transforms into a human.  And she’s stunningly beautiful!

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My idea was to combined a yellow tank top–or spaghetti strap dress–with a black, flowy skirt.

I found a yellow tank top that suited my needs. To be appropriate for work, though, I paired it with a black shirt underneath.

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It’s hard to tell, but I attempted to do four buns (meatballs) on my head.  Since my hair is short, they didn’t turn out well.

I also wore my cute mouse shoes.  It seemed appropriate, as I was cosplaying a cat.

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Finally, I wore a golden moon necklace!

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I wish my shirt was a bit brighter, but it’ll do!

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Casual Cosplay: Misaki Takahashi

I love dressing up.  Any kind of costume makes me incredibly happy.  That’s my favorite part of Halloween, or Spirit Week at work, or even Comicon.  That’s also why I’m really into casual cosplay.

Casual cosplay–or everyday cosplay–is a normal outfit that resembles a character, or just takes themes of a movie, show, or book, and encompasses them into an outfit.  It’s all personal interpretation.  And since I’m doing to make myself happy, it doesn’t matter if anyone else recognizes it!

First up is Misaki Takahashi.  He is the main character in Shungiku Nakamura’s manga/anime “Junjou Romantica.”

For my cosplay outfit, I combined a few of his looks into one.  First, I started with his pinned back hair.

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He wears it like this in the first episode of the anime.  Since my hair is similarly short, I pinned mine back with bobby pins.

Next, I took an outfit from season three where he’s getting ready to practice for his job interview.  He wears a white button up shirt, a tie, and a blue cardigan.

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I mimicked the white shirt and the cardigan.

Also, Misaki famously (or infamously) wore a pair of socks with stars on them.  I think they are adorable, but many within the fandom don’t agree.

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I have similar socks, bought solely for this purpose.

Finally, I finished my look with a bunny necklace.  Misaki’s significant other is Akihiko Usami–with the nickname Usagi, which means bunny. (My necklace is actually a blown-glass Peep I bought at the Phoenix Comicon!)

These powers combine to form Misaki!

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Pipelines in Paradise Release

I’m so excited to announce the release of my debut novella, Pipelines in Paradise!

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This projected started out on a whim.  I saw the call for submissions from Dreamspinner Press’s States of Love Series, and I was inspired.  The stories I typically write are science fiction and fantasy, so a contemporary romance–set in a state I’ve never even visited–was outside my comfort zone.  However, pushing yourself is always a good thing.  I was happy to get to work on this story, the characters, the setting, the relationship.

I wanted the main character, Palmer Simpson, to be restarting his life.  I was reminded of a quote by the author Haruki Murakami in his short story “Man-Eating Cats.”  It goes, “Once you make up your mind to get rid of something, there’s very little you can’t discard. No–not very little. Once you put your mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t get rid of.”  I tried to channel this idea into Palmer. He lost everything, and with the absence of that fear, he picked up and moved on.

I enjoy the idea of new beginnings, or second chances.  I feel it’s never too late to reevaluate any situation and attack it from a new angle.  For Palmer, this manifested into a trip to Hawaii where he tries to reconnect with his childhood dreams of being a surfer.

Pipelines in Paradise is now available for purchase!  It can be bought directly from Dreamspinner Press, or from Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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Quick Review: Healing Touch

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Newly released on Friday, Missy Welsh’s sci-fi novel Healing Touch, was an incredible read!

When Captain Noah O’Keefe and his crew get lost in space, the ship is captured by an alien race–the snake-like Tevian.  Tortured for information about his Human weapons, Noah wishes he could just die and end it all.  That is, until Vivek Korraay, an Aguadite healer, tends Noah’s wounds and helps him escape. Before they get free from the cells, though, Noah convinces Vivek to rescue another inmate, the child-like Bendel.

From there, the three need to get off the planet and allow Vivek to pass on sensitive information that may help prevent more war in the universe.

The story is very immersive.  The two point-of-view characters–Noah and Vivek–are each clearly defined.  In Vivek’s POV, it’s easy to see his way of thinking is different.  His responses, actions, and dialogue all reflect his alien mindset.  This really drew me in as a reader, making the world and races realistic and enticing.  And Noah, who is thrust into the middle of this situation, tries to act brave and strong, but we see how he struggles internally.

The relationship between the two is also endearing. Though Noah initially relies on Vivek to help him escape, the two quickly move past captor and savior and onto equal footing. They are a well suited match, despite the difference in their races. Each gives and receives in equal measure, which was a refreshing quality to have in the novel.

The quick pace of the story never let up.  It had me reading eagerly, moving through the novel as fast as possible.  The characters, worlds, and the alien races were all so interesting.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

5/5

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Quick Review: Alcatraz vs the Scrivener’s Bones

Continuing on the Alcatraz series, we have Alcatraz vs the Scrivener’s Bones.

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While the first story in the series was fun, lighthearted, hilarious, it was not too deep on plot.  The infiltration of the library–and Alcatraz learning about his lineage–took up most of the narrative.  That’s not a bad thing at all.  In fact, for the introductory book, it was perfect.  Giving some details but only hinting at others.

The second is when things get a bit more complex.  More of the Smedry family comes into play, and with them, the sudden quest to find Alcatraz’s lost father.

The humor is still there, possibly even better than the first novel.  But the added depth of character–of Alcatraz, Bastille, and the Smedry family–really make this book engaging.  The hidden plot lines, the intrigue of the Talents and their role in the world make the reader crave the next book.

One of the best parts, though also very tragic, is when Alcatraz does succeed in finding his father.  The abandoned child is finally reunited with his dad.  To see Attica hardly glance at Alcatraz is heartbreaking.  While so, so sad, I love the theme that sometimes families are fucked up.  That disappointment is part of real life.  It added a dash of reality to the crazy hi-jinks.

Sanderson is such an amazing author.  His writing abilities are so diverse, giving this childish and silly account of the world in one novel and the rich, details of dozens of societies in the Stormlight Archive.  Even building on Robert Jordan’s established world almost flawlessly.  I have yet to find a Sanderson book I haven’t enjoyed.  Though this series about Alcatraz and his Talent may be my favorite of the bunch (it’s a close call between this and Legion).  It’s so underrated and definitely needs to be given a chance by his devoted fans and fantasy readers alike.

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“Flight” Release

flight-fbbanner2-groupI’m so pleased to say that my first work is published!

New today is “Flight,” an anthology of 110 LGBTQ speculative flash fiction stories, brought to you by Mischief Corner Books.  The anthology comes from Queer Sci Fi’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest, where authors are able to interpret the year’s theme as they see fit.  It features all sorts of characters, from aliens and AIs, to angels.

Though a printed version will be available soon, currently the eBook is on sale from any of these retailers:

 

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My contribution is titled “The Aviary” and is featured in the Paranormal section of the anthology.

Happy reading!

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Quick Review: Alcatraz Vs the Evil Librarians

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Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors.  He’s a juggernaut in the fantasy genre, with his incredible Mistborn series and his epic Stormlight Archive series, as well as the final three novels of The Wheel of Time series.  In my eyes, the man can do no wrong.

In 2007, Sanderson released the first novel of a five part series, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.  In my opinion, this series is his most underrated work.  I wish more of his fans would give them a try.  They are worth reading, multiple times.

On that same note, the last book in the series, The Dark Talent, was released last week.  I picked up a copy and was eager to devour the story and finally see the ending!  However, once I sat down to get started, I couldn’t recall a lot of the details from the earlier novels.  And though Alcatraz did a brief recap in the introduction, I decided to take the opportunity to give the whole series a reread.

The setup is fictional non-fiction, with the author, Alcatraz Smedry releasing his autobiography.  But, Alcatraz is unable to freely print his words, so he disguises his adventure as a fantasy novel.

So starts the crazy antics of this world and the unlikely hero.

The world where accident-prone Alcatraz lives is run by Librarians–an evil cult that controls the world through misinformation.  On his thirteenth birthday, the orphaned Alcatraz is suddenly gifted with his inheritance: a bag of sand.  The next day, the inheritance is stolen, and his long-lost grandfather shows up to help him get the sands back.

During the adventure, Alcatraz learns that his family–the Smedries–all have special Talents, and that they are famous in the Free Kingdoms, the areas not controlled by the Librarians.  Alcatraz’s unusual habit for breaking things is really a manifestation of his Smedry Talent.  His grandfather, Leavenworth Smedry, has the Talent for arriving late to things.  The Smedry family uses these abilities in unique and interesting ways, which makes them a blessing rather than a curse (for example, Grandpa Smedry can arrive late to bullets).

Along with two cousins–Quentin and Sing–and a thirteen-year-old female Crystin Knight named Bastille, the group has to sneak into the downtown Library, the central base for the Librarians who stole Alcatraz’s inheritance.

The thing that stands out most in this novel is the humor.  I often feel Sanderson tries too hard to get funny dialogue into his stories, and it can seem forced.  Here, it flows naturally.  Alcatraz, the narrator, is nineteen and looking back on his childhood.  This adds a lot of hilarious comments–mostly Alcatraz poking fun at the readers, or himself.  There’s also a ton of randomness, like throwing the word “rutabaga” into the narrative for no reason.  Sanderson also has fun with typical fantasy tropes, with Alcatraz pointing out how ridiculous some of them are.

I laughed so hard, even on the reread of this book.

The plot is a simplistic heist, but the setting and the characters drive this story.  And with the end, Alcatraz suddenly realizes  he’s not as alone as  he thinks.  It has the perfect conclusion, which leaves the reader begging for the next in the series.

Again, this book is near-perfect.  It’s goofy, silly, and oddly touching.  One of Sanderson’s bests, and that’s saying a lot considering how amazing his other novels are!

5/5

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Wide Open Spaces Blog Tour

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AVAILABLE NOW

WIDE OPEN SPACES
States of Love – Wyoming

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning

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Dreamspinner Press

Amazon: USCAAUUKDE

All Romance

Blurb

Devon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.

No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Excerpt

Devon sank down on his couch as exhaustion swamped him. Most of it was from moving in, but the change in elevation didn’t help. He’d gotten used to being closer to sea level, so going back to the dry air at over six thousand feet was going to take some getting used to.

Bloody noses had become the norm while he stayed with Blake. Devon didn’t want to deal with them repeatedly and considered getting a humidifier until he managed to acclimate.

He looked around his living room. Boxes were scattered everywhere, and he should be unpacking, but he was too tired. At least he hadn’t had to carry everything in himself. Blake, Travis, and Seth were waiting for him when he pulled into the apartment complex. They shrugged off his objections and insisted they had nothing better to do. Devon appreciated it, but he wasn’t comfortable around them anymore. He managed to be a proper host, but damn, he was glad they left after a couple beers each. They made noise about getting together again soon, but Devon had used getting settled in as an excuse to keep from committing to anything.

He stood and wandered into his small kitchen. He didn’t bother opening the fridge or any of the cupboards. He knew they were empty. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten for a while. Devon dug his keys out of his pocket and headed for the door. He’d get something to eat and then maybe stop at the store to pick up a few staples. Paper plates, sandwich fixings, some chips, and he’d be good for a couple of days. At least it would give him time to get a few things—like pots and pans—unpacked. Then he could do a full grocery shop.

An hour later he was comfortably full from a greasy burger, fries, and a shake. He’d never eaten a lot of fast food, but he had few other options. He headed to Walmart, determined to stick to his list of sandwich stuff and maybe some eggs. Surely he could dig out some pans before the food expired. He headed to the chips first and scanned for the familiar bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. They were his all-time favorite, though he also knew he’d want something else after a day or two. So he grabbed a couple of other bags and headed for the eggs and then the freezer aisle.

Sandwiches and chips would get old fast. He found some frozen breakfast sandwiches he could microwave, tossed them in the cart, and moved on. Frozen lasagna quickly joined the few other items in his cart, followed by some potpies, a few TV dinners, and a bag of chimichangas. So what if he wasn’t sticking to his mental list?

He was more focused on getting groceries for the next few days than on the people around him.

“Devon.”

He froze when a familiar voice spoke his name. He closed his eyes briefly, ducked his head, and steeled himself. He knew it would happen eventually, when he found out Levi still lived there. He thought he’d have more time to prepare. He swallowed—hard—and turned to face the man who had at one time meant everything to him. The man he’d risked being found out for. He lifted his head and gazed into the moss-colored eyes.

“Levi.”

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About the Author

Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of Admin, Blog Coordinator, and Anthology Coordinator.

Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works.

When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts. When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.

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Quick Review: Fallow

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Where to start when talking about Jordan L. Hawk?  I adore everything about her novels, from her ability to tell a character’s point of view so well, to her development of such sensational settings.  She is a master storyteller.

Fallow is the latest novel in the Whyborne and Griffin series.  In it, our heroes realize that something sinister may be occurring in Griffin’s hometown of Fallow.  Despite being kicked out of the town in disgrace, he still has a desire to save it and its citizens—more specifically, his mother—from the dangers that threaten.  With the help of Christine and Iskandar, the four set off for Fallow.  Once there, they quickly discover that there is a plot, and that the perpetrators aim to spread their corruption all the way to Widdershins!

Honestly, this story was too short!  I want to spend more time with these characters, and while the story and plot were wrapped up by the end, I still hungered for it to keep going.  Hawk does an amazing job of speaking through a character’s voice.  The point of view switches between Whyborne and Griffin, all in first person.  This can be tricky to do correctly, but Hawk pulls it off flawlessly.  You can always tell which character’s point of view we’re in because of how different these two men see the world and each other.

It was also nice to see more of Griffin’s background.  So much of who he is was shaped by his time in Fallow, and by the people there.  For a brief moment, it even seems he might reconcile with his family.   But in the end, he sees that Whyborne, Christine, and Iskandar are the family he’s chosen, and that is able to heal a bit of the hurt inside him.

I’m already looking forward to the next in the series because I never want to be away from these characters for too long.

5/5

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