Star Crossed

Sergent Shithead: Egads! These beings have mastered the technology necessary to cross interstellar distances, making us look like feces-covered apes who have yet to work out how rubbing two sticks together can create flame! And their homologous morphology suggests either convergent evolution or, perhaps more incredibly, common ancestry!

Ranger Redneck: Homo what? Evolution? Fuck you, science! Guns ‘n’ Jesus, woohoo!

Sergent Shithead: Look, than man is carefully approaching us, hands empty and raised, in what appears to be the universal symbol of “I mean you no harm!”

Ranger Redneck: Holy shit! Better shoot the fuck out of ‘em before they steal our wimmins! Are there any kids I can kill? Blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam blam!



Well, the CW has managed to steal another hour of my week. Honestly, if I could get Time Warner to sell me an “MSNBC and CW and PBS so my wife won’t go into Downton withdrawal” cable package, I would be all over it. On the other hand, this show appears to have nothing to do with Julie Plec, so at least I’m not completely her bitch.

The above is a fairly accurate representation of the opening minutes of the CW’s latest opus. Aliens land. They appear friendly. We shoot the fuck out of ‘em anyway, and lock them in internment camps.

Flash forward ten years, and we’re dropped right into an analog of the racial integration of Little Rock Central High School. The aliens, called Atrians, are still living in government-run ghettos, but a new program allows a limited number of them to be bussed to a white human high school. And in case the metaphor was a bit too subtle for you, the aliens are called the Atrian Seven.

Heavy handed? It might seem so. Hell, you might be tempted to call it ridiculous. We’re so much more open minded than we were 57 years ago, right? We would never be that evil to an innocent people, would we?

But then you see the shit that they’re trying to pull in Arizona, the test lab for the Tea Party’s crazy. They are–and this is actually happening, right now, in 2014–trying to pass a law that makes it legal to discriminate against LGBT people because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” And suddenly, the premis of Star Crossed doesn’t seem all that far fetched.

Our romantic leads are Aimee Teegarden, playing Emery Whitehill, and Matt Lanter as Roman, who are, respectively, Nina Dobrev’s long lost cousin and Cam Gigandet’s slightly more muscular clone. And TVD‘s Malese Jow, in her longest running arc yet, survives the first episode, so that’s cool.

Star Crossed is your basic riff on Romeo and Juliet, but with humans and aliens instead of Montagues and Capulets, but the stars have good chemistry, the sci-fi element is fun, and the social commentary is topical. The Atrian’s special powers, revealed at the end of the episode, are cool, but come at a cost, eliminating a too-easy get out of jail free card.

All in all, a solid premier. Yeah, I think Star Crossed can stick around for a while.

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Vampire Academy

Take Veronica Mars, and make her a half vampire. Team her up with Daniel Gillies’ stunt double, and give him a ponytail and a trench coat. Drop them both into Hogwarts for Vampires, mix in some mean girls, and stir in a grave threat to the upcoming vampire royal, Mary Sue von Dracula. That’s Vampire Academy in a nutshell.

And somehow, it really, really works.

This is going to be one of those divisive movies. As I’m writing this, Rotten Tomatoes is giving it a 10% fresh score from critics, and an 81% fresh score from viewers. It’s a weird movie, with a weird premise, but if you’re coming from a TVD background, that’s probably exactly what you’re looking for.

The heroine, Rose Hathaway, is fantastically sarcastic and very competent, both as an investigator and as a fighter. She’s kind of what I’ve always wanted Elena Gilbert to become.

The only issue I had with the movie is Rose’ love interest, Dimitri. The ~*~insurmountable obstacle~*~ keeping them apart is the age difference; Rose is 17, and Dimitri is 24. That’s a pretty big gap, but when I was watching the movie, I thought Dimitri was supposed to be in his mid-30s, and was squicked out the entire time.

That aside, I really had fun, and recommend Vampire Academy to anyone looking for a little fang in their night.

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The Godless Saint – Looking for Beta Readers


Caden Lyndsey was a man of God, glimpsing vision of the future and calling down fire from heaven.

He lost his faith, but not his power.

In the small town of Mirrormont, a crazed cult attempts to raise their ancient deity from the dead. If Caden can’t stop them, hundreds will die … including a very special woman named Mirand DuBois.


It’s done.

Kinda.

I’ve been sitting on The Wild Hunt, the first Godless Saint novel, for almost a year. I’ve been working on other books — St. Troy, The Janus Project, and a few others — and giving TWH time to settle.

I did my final read through last night, and I think it’s ready for the world to see.

At least, some of the world. I’m ready to give TWH to my beta readers, and unlike previous books, I’m not going to ask you to send me an email to get a copy. I’m just going to put it up on my web site, tweet the link, and hope for the best.

In particular, I’m hoping that you’ll read The Wild Hunt, and that you’ll love it. But whether you love it or hate it, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can reach me through the contact page, or by sending me an email at betareaders@thomas-galvin.com.

Without further ado, Download The Wild Hunt right here:

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Love You To Death – Season Four

The entire Love You To Death series stands as an entertaining, exhaustive bible of the character arcs, plot lines, mythology, and the behind-the-scenes happenings of a TV series made by people who are crazy in love with their work.

-Julie Plec, Executive Producer of The Vampire Diaries, destroyer of joy, and frequent target of internet rage

Love You To Death Season 4

I know what you’re saying. “Thomas? Shouldn’t you be using this valuable blog space to pimp out your own books?”

Well, yes, probably. And don’t worry, I’ll get back to that soon enough. But I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the latest book in the Love You To Death series, written by two friends* of mine, Crissy Calhoun (@crissycalhoun) and Heather Vee (@dieslaughing). In addition to tolerating my presence, Crissy originated the LYTD series, and Heather is the co-owner of Vampire-Diaries.net, the number one TVD fan site in the world.

Julie wasn’t kidding when she said these books were exhaustive. Not only does LYTD4 recap each and every episode of TVD season four, it also includes insights from the cast and crew (director Pascal Verschooris became my favorite person ever when he said “it was a lot of fun to bring candy canes to the screen, but more so (and this is gonna sound creepy), it was really cool to kill the mayor with Christmas in the background”), facts and trivia, a running commentary on The Rules (compulsion, the sire bond, et cetera), continuity, and a discussion of the points that weren’t quite clear. If you like my post mortems, you’ll be wild about Love You To Death.

Confession: I originally wrote “you’ll love Love You To Death.” I’m paid to write, people. Jesus.

LYTD is available from ECW Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Get your copy today, before Jeff Bezos destroys books forever!

*Friends here defined as they wouldn’t run me over if they saw me walking down the road. Probably.

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The Great Batfleck Controversy of 2013

Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman, and the internet has exploded.

Affleck is a great actor, and an even better film maker.

That’s kind of a funny statement to make, because a lot of people still seem to think of him as “that guy from Gigli,” or maybe “that guy who got into Jennifer Garner’s pants by playing Dardevil.” And to be honest, a lot of his roles are pretty forgettable. Affleck doesn’t really have an iconic character to his name.

But he was fantastic in The Town and Argo, and the man has two fucking Oscars, for Good Will Hunting and Argo. The man has chops.

But he’s not scary.

Christian Bale, weird bat-voice aside, is a fucking maniac. You can honestly believe that he’d throw himself into a Chinese prison for half a decade just to see what it’s like. When you watch him, you get the sense that he might just break ever bone in your body, just because. Bale had a menacing presence, and when you’re playing the scariest man in the world, that’s important.

Affleck is a great actor, but he’s not intimidating, and that’s why I don’t think he’s going to be a great Batman.

Of course, everybody said the same thing about Michael Keaton, and I still think he’s the best Batman of all time …

Oh, and by the way: Buzzfeed totally picked up on my #batfleck rage last night.

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Morganville Vampires – The Series

Welcome to Morganville, Texas.

Just don’t stay out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school’s social scene: somewhere less than zero.

When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life. But they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

The Morganville Vampires, a bestselling series written by Rachel Caine, are pretty much my favorite YA vampire novels. The story focuses on Claire Danvers, a smart, tough freshman in college who just happens to live in a town controlled by vampires.

Claire is the perfect answer to the Hollow Shell Mary Sue protagonist you’ll find in a lot of today’s YA, and the supporting cast is just as wonderful. You have Michael, the hot, barefoot musician who never seems to be around during the day–but you won’t guess why–Shane, the rebel with a heart of gold, and Eve, a gothed-out princess who drives a hearse and packs a stake.

On the vampire side of things, you meet Amelia, founder of Morganville and the oldest vampire in the world … at least, as far as anyone knows. In her employ is Myrnin, the resident mad scientist / alchemist / vampire in bunny slippers. Contending for Amelia’s throne is … but that would be telling.

The Morganville books are great, quick reads, and at fifteen entries so far, there is a ton of material for a live-action adaptation.

Enter kickstarter.

Rachael Caine and Pen Ultimate Productions has launched a campaign to create a high-quality web series based on the Morganville books. How high are they aiming? They’ve got Amber Benson, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, attached to play Amelia.

There are four days left in the campaign, and an ~*~anonymous benefactor ~*~ has stepped up and offered to match the next $15,000 in donations. The campaign is this close to being funded, and the world is close to having another fantastic vampire show to devour. If this is your kind of thing, head on over to kickstarter and make your pledge today.

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Fast and Furious Six – Distilled


- St. Lucy of the Felons Memorial Hospital and Race Track -

Vin Diesel: Vroom!

Paul Walker: Vroom!

Vin Diesel: Vroom!

Paul Walker: Vroom!

Vin Diesel: Vroom!

Paul Walker: Vroom!

Vin Diesel: Vroom!

Paul Walker: Vroom!

Vin Diesel: Okay, you win this one, blondie. Now go give your new baby boy, my nephew, a kiss. And remember, once you walk into that nursery, our life as street racing international criminals is over.

Paul Walker: But Vin, our life as street racing international criminals was over last movie, too. Besides, this is Fast and Furious Six: Fuck the Plot, not Well Shit I Have a Kid Now, I Better Start Carpooling.

Vin Diesel: Yeah, I know, I just wanted it to be super emotional when The Rock™ recruits us in a few minutes.

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Kindle Worlds

Well holy shit.

I was all settled in for a nice, productive Wednesday, and then Amazon blew up the internet.

People love stories. Sometimes, people don’t want stories to end. Sometimes they want them to end differently. Sometimes they want Draco in leather pants, whipping Harry with a ten inch wand of diamond hard wood. And for these people, fan fiction provides an outlet. It gives people who love a character or a story the chance to contribute their own thoughts to the universe, to provide commentary, an alternate world, or just plain old smut.

It’s flattering when someone loves your stories and characters enough to keep them going. It’s awesome when someone is so caught up in your work that they need to explore what might have been. It’s really cool when a fan makes a little part of your world a little part of theirs.

Fan fiction has always kind of existed in a legal gray world. It isn’t, technically, legal, because authors hold the copyrights to the worlds and characters they create, and without their explicit permission, you aren’t allowed to create a derivative work. Most authors, though, agree to just look the other way. Others, myself included, explicitly allow fanfiction in their copyright statements, usually with a clause disallowing commercial sale.

Amazon, as they are wont to do, looked at the status quo, then blithely said “fuck that noise.”

Introducing Kindle Worlds, a sister program to Kindle Direct Publishing, that will allow you to write and sell your fan fiction. Amazon has acquired the rights to several Worlds from Alloy Entertainment, including The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars.

So this is awesome, right? You get to write your fan fiction and make money from it?

Well, not so fast. There’s a really big GOTCHA in the Terms of Service:

  • Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.
  • Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.

Let’s unpack this:

“Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.” What this means is that when you publish a story on Kindle Worlds, you’re giving Amazon the right to do whatever they want with your story, forever. They can sell it electronically, digitally, carve it into a rock, or give it away. It’s up to them, and you have no say. Ever.

“You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World.” Awesome! Exactly the kind of license I would want. Except …

“When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story.” Want to publish your fan fiction on FanFiction.net? Tough. Amazon is the only entity legally allowed to publish your material. And if they decide that they want to stop publishing your material? Sucks for you. You have no other outlet.

“This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World.” This is a huge, flashing warning sign, a big neon Danger, Will Robinson! When you submit a story to Kindle Worlds, you give Amazon all of the rights to your new ideas, even ideas that came solely from your head. Come up with a concept for an awesome new character who just happens to interact with a Salvatore Brother? You can never use that character anywhere except within a Kindle Worlds story.

“We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements.” This means that people get to write fan fiction about your fan fiction. Kindle Worlds is essentially a viral license. I don’t exactly have a problem with that. It would be cool if there was a way to be compensated when another author uses some or your original ideas, but I honestly don’t know how that would even be possible.

“We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.” One of the big issues authors have traditionally had with fan fiction is the possibility that a fan fiction writer would claim the original author stole the fan’s ideas and incorporated them into their work. This is why even authors who explicitly allow fan fiction almost never read fan fiction. This sentence does away with that fear entirely. If you submit a story to Kindle Worlds, the original creators can use it however they want. Just think! The next season of Vampire Diaries could be based on your story! Except you won’t be paid for it.

This is basically a huge, huge rights grab, worse than most contracts I’ve seen come out of traditional publishing. I’m very close to saying that it’s a deal breaker entirely. Except …

Fan fiction authors never really had the rights to their work in the first place. They have no legal right to create their own stories using someone else’s characters and worlds, and they certainly have no right to sell it. Fan fiction authors were never going to profit from their works, and now they can. The rights Kindle Worlds authors are giving away are rights they never really had.

The exception is the license to new concepts developed within a Kindle Worlds story. That is uniquely the author’s own, and submitting to Kindle Worlds locks it up forever. Stories are an author’s lifeblood, and you should never give that kind of control over your ideas to someone else. Fifty Shades of Gray would have never happened under Kindle Worlds, because Amazon would own all of the rights to that story, not EL James. She wouldn’t have been allowed to change the character names, flush out the story, and publish on her own. Amazon would have owned that work, not her.

But if you aren’t creating a lot of new material, or at least material that you would want to use somewhere else? Then Kindle Worlds could be a fun experiment.

Oh, and no porn, so this is basically dead on arrival anyway.

14 Comments »

Sluts

I can already hear my spam filter wincing.

Anyway, earlier today this happened:

Alloy Entertainment: Vaughn has a strong opinion when it comes to Delena on the show. But what’s your outlook on their relationship from what you’ve seen so far? What piece of love advice would you offer them?

Charlie Bewley: My outlook on relationships is not one you want to hear, but in the context of TVD I’ll say this: I cannot believe these two brothers toss around a girl they supposedly love, neither can I believe that Elena willfully hops into bed with one after the next, and back. Sire bond is no excuse.

And then Twitter exploded.

Let’s ignore the fact that his statement is factually incorrect. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Elena banged Stefan, then boffed Damon, then diddled Stefan again, then took a trip to Damon’s boneyard, then took a ride on Stefan’s magic stake, then made the vampire with two backs with Damon, then let Stefan bury the little Salvatore in her tomb, if you know what I mean. Is that wrong?

It seems strange that guys slut shame girls. Guys are supposed to want girls to have sex with them, right? In a lot of cases I think they do, but the key is they want girls to have sex with them. If a girl sucks my dick it’s because I’m an alpha male, but if she sucks yours it’s because she’s a slut. I think a lot of men buy into this without even realizing it.

But it’s worse that women still accept, and even advocate, this mentality. I had a female reader write in to tell me that she couldn’t relate to the characters in my novel because they were all, direct quote, sluts. All of the girls in Sire think about sex, talk about sex, and have sex. And all of them (except for one) are monogamous. But that doesn’t matter. The fact that sex is a part of their lives, an important part of their lives, makes them less worthy, unrelatable … sluts.

The idea that chastity is a virtue comes from a time when women were chattle, property to be bought and sold, a time when all they had to offer was their virginity and their uterus. When a girl had sex with a man it was shameful because her virginity belonged to her husband … whether she had met him yet or not.

Fuck that.

Sex is fun. Sex is healthy. Sex is a biological goddamn imperative. Should you be safe? Of course. Should you be honest? Absolutely. But should you be ashamed? Again, fuck no. Sex is messy and wonderful and awkward and thrilling and slippery and sticky and the reason we’re all here.

We’ve come a long way from our bronze age goat herding ancestors … or at least some of us have. The reason birth control is such a controversy right now is that it changes the balance of power. Birth control allows women to enjoy sex without worrying about getting pregnant, about literally devoting the rest of their lives to another human being, and a large portion of our society absolutely hate that idea. The idea that a woman can own her own sexuality and enjoy her body without a man’s permission infuriates them.

And then there’s the idea that women are delicate little flowers that will shatter into a million pieces the second their hymen tears, unless it’s torn by their husband. Fuck that nonsense, too. Sex can help you blow off steam or break your heart. Sex can cement a lifelong relationship or be over in a night. It can be wonderful or painful or epic or bland. But you, special little snowflake, will pick yourself up and carry on, regardless.

So like the Wiccans say, “an it harm none, fuck whoever you want.” Sex is a part of our humanity, a part of our society, and a part of our lives, whether you’re a virgin or a pro. And our characters can, should reflect that same spectrum of sexuality that we do.

But then, this happened:

Charlie Bewley (@alchemission)

I was asked to say something about the triangle and that’s the funniest thing I could think up. Sorry if I offended any sluts out there.

And then the pieces of Twitter gathered themselves together and blew up all over again.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think this was meant to be as harsh as most of the internet is reading it. I don’t think he was saying “oh, I’m reeeeeealy sorry I offended you delicate sensibilities, you sluts.” I think he was saying something more like “hey, we’re all a bunch of big old sluts, so let’s live and let live, huh? Winkeyface? Don’t murder me?”

Update: A handful of people have sent me this link, which gives a lot more context for the above tweet, and makes Bewley look a lot better as a human being.

But maybe I’m wrong. Sarcasm is goddamn hard to read sometimes, particularly when you’re limited to 140 characters. Maybe he was calling sex-positive people sluts.

The question, to me, is what we do with that? I’m not talking about Charlie Bewley as an actor or a person; I honestly give nary a shit. I’m talking about our culture, and the language we use to talk about sex.

A lot of people think the word “slut” should be retired, that it no longer serves a legitimate role in our sexual vernacular. There’s nothing wrong with a girl enjoying her sexuality, so the term “sult” is, itself, meaningless.

But I take a different approach. Probably because sarcasm is my stock in trade and saying offensive things is how I pay my bills, but I think we should take the word “slut” back. I’ve written characters that refer to themselves and their friends as sluts, not to shame them, but because there is no shame in enjoying sex.

I think that approach is more powerful. Don’t ignore the bad guy’s weapons, take them away. They want to cause harm with their words, but we have the power to claim those words as our own. I don’t think it’s enough to say “I’m not a slut” or “don’t call me a slut,” I think we should be saying “yeah, I’m a slut … and there’s nothing wrong with that. You hairy-assed medieval douche nozzle. So go fuck yourself while I’m over here fucking whoever I bloody well want.”

So Elena? Let your slut flag fly.

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Who Is Oliver Queen?

Arrow - The CW

His eyes are up there, ladies

He is, of course, the protagonist of Arrow, the most popular show the CW has aired in three years. Yes, even more popular than your (and my) favorite show, The Vampire Diaries. I think, after three episodes, that it has potential, but I also think that Oliver Queen’s motives – and the show itself – are a bit confused.

Arrow is, at heart, a tale revenge, and when you’re telling a tale of revenge, you basically have two options: The Count of Monte Cristo or Death Wish.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes is falsely convicted of a crime and sent to Chateau d’If, a dreaded prison and island fortress. There he endures terrible suffering, but also meet The Priest, who educated Dantes and teaches him to fight. Upon his death, the Priest tells Dantes of a secret treasure. Dantes escapes and uses the treasure – and the knowledge he acquired in Chateau d’If – to create a new persona and extract revenge on the people who betrayed him.

In Death Wish, Paul Kersey’s wife is murdered and his daughter raped, and Kersey kills the shit out of everyone involved.

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