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Con Life

dragoncon-2016-pass

I didn’t choose con life. Con life chose me.

So let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re a totally normal person. I’m sure you’ve scrolled through my Facebook page and wondered what’s up with me dressing up like fictional characters and traipsing around a convention paying ludicrous amounts of money to meet famous people, despite having the budget of your average 20-something in the 2016 economy. “Why, dearest Kyoko,” you say in your finest British accent. “I don’t understand why you would do such a thing, especially considering how painfully awkward and introverted you are. Whatever makes you a congoer?”

“Well, thanks for pointing out my personality flaws, but the British accent makes it hurt less,” I say, adjusting my own monocle. “Allow me to explain.”

The first con I ever attended was Momocon: a tiny widdle baby con all the way back in the early 2000’s that at the time of its inception was both free and held on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. If I’m not mistaken, I either went to the first Momocon ever, or its second or third run-throughs, where there were no guests and pretty much there were only vendors with things to sell and a bunch of nerds holding panels about their favorite anime, movies, TV shows, and games. I had a good time, and so it quickly became a tradition between me and my friends to attend each year as our own mini-vacation. As the years went by, Momocon slowly gathered steam and became a larger con. When attendance goes up, it means more money, and more money means more features at the con itself, like being able to invite guests, bigger vendors, and having more diverse panels and panelists. To my utter delight, after a certain point, Momocon got big enough to start inviting people I was excited to meet like Steve Blum, The Nostalgia Critic, Dante Basco, Little Kuriboh, the Honest Trailers Guy, Two Best Friends Play, and many others. Everything got bigger and better when the con organizers realized the con got so huge that they needed to move into the Georgia World Congress Center, thus streamlining the whole process and making it that much easier to get around to see all the things we congoers wanted to see.

Still, when you think about it, it’s an awful pricey adventure. You pay for entry tickets, gas to drive to the train station, the Marta Breeze card plus trips, food, and merchandise. With Momocon, you can probably blow through a cool $100-$200 over the weekend.

Then there’s this motherf@#er called DragonCon: the stupid, but hot older brother of Momocon.

To be frank, I consider DragonCon to be a clusterf@#k of a con. It is almost always poorly executed and frustrating because a record 77,000 people attended this year, and the con organizers think that 77k people can fit inside five hotels at once. Uh, no. That is in fact NOT a thing. You can’t cram that many people within a five block radius in downtown Atlanta. Any logical person would move the venue to the World Congress Center like Momocon did, but nooooooo. DragonCon insists it can continue to run itself at that capacity in the same venue it’s been in for the past couple of decades, despite the maddening increase in attendance that has steadily climbed over the years.

So you’d think that because you’re forced to be wall-to-wall jampacked with 76,999 other people that you’d at least be getting a service that is run properly, right? Noooooooope. It’s hard to find directions, the panels are always so overcrowded that unless you line up for them two hours prior to their start time, you ain’t gettin’ in, and on top of all of that, it’s expensive as hell. Seriously. You’re coughing up $140 for a four day pass, and that only includes entry. For God’s sake, they won’t even give you a lanyard for your pass. You have to buy a lanyard. That’s right. After $140, they still want more. I hate to admit it, but I’m quite sure I spent a cool $300-$400 at this con two weekends ago.

Am I ashamed?

Well. Yes and no.

Let the stories begin.

So on Friday morning, the day I attended by myself since my best friend was still on her way up from South Georgia, I decided to sacrifice myself to go to the con at the crack of dawn since it would mean beating most of the crowd and allowing me enough time to scope out where all the activities I had lined up would be ahead of time: primarily the times and prices for autographs for four of my favorite celebrities. In case you missed it, I hate this con, and I’ve only attended it previously because I was invited to be on the State of Black Science Fiction panel moderated by Milton Davis, which is excellent press and exposure. This year, however, DragonCon managed to entice me into attending despite no panel being held this year by inviting not one but FOUR guests I was dying to meet: Will Friedle, James Marsters, Charlie Cox, and Gillian Anderson. I mean, wow. Seriously, those are four titans of the sci-fi/fantasy television world and you’re damn right I drove five and a half hours to come see them. But I digress.

I entered into the Walk of Fame–the enormous ballroom where all the celebrities had tables for autograph signings–right as it opened at 10am, and I expected to wander past the tables to see prices for the four people I wanted to meet. Well, I was definitely on the right track, because I turned the corner and found myself staring Charlie Cox dead in the face. That’s right. Out of sheer dumb luck, the star of Netflix’s Daredevil was at his autograph table right when the WOF opened, and he only had about 14 people in his line. Let me be clear: I had actually only thought about getting his autograph, but I heard earlier that it was $60, which is A LOT for someone who isn’t even in my personal Top 10 TV Actors list (he’s probably more in the 15-30 range, to be honest), but the sheer coincidence that I happened upon him right when his line was low made me jump my happy self in line and proceed to fangirl myself silly at the prospect of meeting Daredevil himself.

So how was it?

Oh dear God. There are no words. Charlie Cox is an absolute peach.

There was an adorable older woman in front of me who apparently knew him prior, and their conversation was so cute that it put a huge smile on my face. She gave him a comic book that she liked and they chit-chatted before he gave her a hug and she left. Then it was my turn to meet him, and holy mother of God, if you think Charlie Cox is charming and handsome as Matt Murdock, you don’t know what it feels like to have him smiling at you from literally a foot away. It was damn near blinding.

However, I managed to calm myself and express that I wasn’t actually initially interested in Daredevil when it premiered and then I heard how everyone said it was so good and I was a bit skeptical, but I accidentally ended up watching “Cut Man” before the actual pilot and I was hooked the second it was over, mainly due to the incredible chemistry between Cox and Rosario Dawson. Charlie Cox was delighted to hear this, and he told me that “Cut Man” is actually his favorite episode from season one, which was a huge feather in my cap since I love that episode to death. He signed my photo and told me that he loved my name–I had him sign it to Kyo, short for Kyoko–and I joked about the lady before me getting a hug, and he grinned and said, “Come here!” and gave me a hug before I left. I was pretty much floating on air on the way to the next table to check for times.

charlie-coxs-autograph-dragoncon-2016

If you think that’s nuts, guess what? It ain’t over yet.

My second trip in the WOF was to Will Friedle’s table to do the same as I intended when I stumbled across Charlie Cox’s table: to check his autograph times and prices. Well, not only were those there, but Will freakin’ Friedle himself was also at his table right when I wandered past, and he’s not just in my Top 10 Favorite TV Actors List–the man is seriously Number Two, second only to Kevin Conroy, whom I met in 2013.

So basically I looked like this before scurrying into his line of 20 or so people:

will-smith-scream

The backstory behind why I was internally screaming over Will Friedle is because I have been in love with his character from Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, since I was ten years old. Yes, I’m one of those nerds who actually saw the premiere of Batman Beyond live as a kid, and it stuck with me all these years. I mean, I never ever expected to like Terry as much as Bruce, but through some stellar writing and one incredible voice acting performance from Mr. Friedle, I never stopped crushing on him. I went on to continue following Friedle’s career from Kim Possible to The Secret Saturdays and when I saw his name on the roster for the con, that was the very second I bought my ticket. Meeting him is on my Bucket List and so it was more than just a moment of fangirling, but a lifelong desire to say thank you to him for portraying a character who honestly has been a part of my mental healing process.

Waiting in line for him was torture because the way the tables are set up is that the stars are against a wall and the lines wind to the side of the table rather than in front of it so that the people behind you can walk through the ballroom unhindered. So I was treated to hearing Will’s voice behind me while I waited and I had to fan myself with Charlie Cox’s autograph to keep from flipping the hell out in pure excitement.

It took a lot of effort, but when I came up to him, I didn’t scream and faint. He greeted me and I did the same and I told him that it was on my Bucket List to meet him because Terry has meant so much to me over the years thanks to his voicework for him, and I also told him about meeting Kevin Conroy in 2013, which delighted him. He agreed with me about Conroy being just the sweetest guy ever and he signed my comic book with “I am Batman” and I joked that Conroy had done the same, and he laughed and told me that when they attend autograph signings together, they pretend-fight over who is actually Batman on the fans’ autographs. I also told him that Batman Beyond has been a huge comfort to me when dealing with my social anxiety and depression, and he told me that he completely understands since he’s dealt with anxiety as well. He gave me a hug and then sent me on my way, once again squealing like a crazy person inside.

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Later that evening, we took a photo op together and that Friday solidified itself as one of the best days of my entire life. Dream made. Life made.

me-and-will-friedle-dragoncon-2016

Now, are you ready for this?

Because Saturday went even better.

On Saturday, my bestie and I got up early again and headed over to the con, this time with our sights on the utterly delicious James Marsters. She had actually met him a few years prior while in line with a friend of hers, so she sent me along to see him by myself, and it just so happens that he was at his table when I went past, so I jumped in line.

Now, keep in mind, Saturday was when I was in my Agent Peggy Carter cosplay that I had carefully put together over a couple months’ worth of organization. People were genuinely thrilled by it and I took quite a few pictures prior to getting in line with Marsters. I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out, to be honest.

peggy-carter-selfie

So after several minutes of mentally preparing myself to meet Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what should happen?

Well, let me first preface this story by saying it is 100% true. I know I write fiction for a living, but everything I am about to tell you actually happened and I am not making this up, I swear.

The first words out of James f@#king Marsters beautiful mouth when he saw me was, “You look fabulous!”

Me:

Bedazzled sensitive Elliot sunset

I in no way was expecting that compliment. Holy crap. It almost bowled me right over. I had to mentally jumpstart my brain into the speech I had prepared because I have never had a ridiculously attractive famous person compliment me (not to my face, mind you, because Chris Evans’ backrub totally counts but that was non-verbal). Once I was done screaming inside, I told him how I actually found him via the Dresden Files audiobooks rather than Buffy the Vampire Slayer because I’m such an enormous fan of the books and my friend Maggie lent me her audio file of Blood Rites for a road trip once and I utterly fell in love with Marsters’ voicework as Harry Dresden. He thanked me and told me that the reason he’s so enthusiastic when he does those readings is that he used to be on the road a lot visiting his son and he hated it when he listened to audiobooks that were dry and boring as hell, so he made sure to inject as much life into his audiobooks as possible. He also asked me who I was cosplaying as, as did his assistant next to him, and I told him it was Peggy Carter, and then I had him record a video for my other best friend who couldn’t join us for the con. Once that was over, I floated on Cloud Nine away from the table and went about the rest of the day with my ego Over 9000.

Then, later that afternoon, came time for the photo op with Mr. Marsters.

Once again, I would like to stress the fact that this actually happened and I am not making it up.

Here’s a bit of backstory, though: Photo ops are actually lightning fast. The stars are usually taking photos with upwards of a hundred hardcore fans, and so if you ever want to meet a celebrity, I always recommend an autograph because it allows you time to chit-chat with them, whereas a photo op is about 5 seconds long. Don’t get me wrong–to this day, I still adore my photo op with Chris Evans and I don’t regret not one second of it, as well as my decision to forgo the extra autograph because if I tried to say actual words to him, I’d have just wasted $200 gross sobbing at him instead of talking. However, the upside of photo ops is the bragging rights that you met a famous person that you really admire and have physical proof forever more that you were there, next to them, soaking in all the awesomeness they naturally emit. Or, in Chris Evans’ case, soaking in all that goddamn gorgeousness. But again, I digress.

When it was my turn to go up to Mr. Marsters, his whole face lit up and he goes, “It’s you!” Flattered as hell, I giggled and went over to him and asked if we could do a hug for a photo.

Him: Oh, my wife said I’m not allowed to hug pretty girls anymore.

Me:

will-smith-fanboy-face

So, instead, we did an arm around each other, which turned out magnificent, honestly.

me-and-james-marsters

After the photographer took the photo, what does this luscious man of fame and fortune turn to me and say, staring me straight in the eyes with his arm still around me?

“You’re gorgeous.”

Me:

yoda-freaking-out

I’m pretty sure I died and this is my poltergeist writing this long ass post.

“But Kyo,” you say, smoking your pipe. “Are you telling me that driving 5 1/2 hours, spending possibly $400, and dealing with an overcrowded, poorly run con is all worth it because Harry Dresden called you fabulous, pretty, and gorgeous?”

The reason I made this post isn’t just to brag about meeting famous people, though. What I’m trying to say, in general, is that con life may be expensive and hectic and it may seem bizarre to an outsider, but the end results can be some of the most iconic, memorable moments of a lifetime. I fully admit that it’s possible James Marsters reacted that way to every last girl he met at the con, but you know what? He sold that s#@t. That’s some acting for yo’ ass, because I totally believed it, and it was by far one of the greatest moments of my entire life. It’s more than cheap flattery. It’s the fact that for the rest of my life, I get to think back to meeting my book boyfriend in person and he said I was gorgeous. You can’t ever take that away from me. That is my memory to cherish, and even if it took an insane amount of money, there was no guarantee that it would have happened otherwise. I got an unforgettable experience thanks to this con and that’s why many of us nerds make the trek every year. Every experience is unique. There’s no telling what will happen when we meet our idols, but sometimes you get situations like mine where it exceeded my expectations a thousand times over. I never would have anticipated a reaction from the guy who spent almost ten years of his life making out with super hot actresses on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To me, it was especially wonderful considering the fact that in real life, men totally ignore me. I don’t get asked out. I barely even get compliments from them, so for someone I truly admire and have a crush on to compliment me–genuine or otherwise, but I honestly think he meant it–boosted my confidence to unreal levels for an entire day. That’s something you can’t buy in a store. That’s something worth all the money in the world to me.

I guess what I am trying to say is that please don’t think congoers are insane human beings. Most of us work hard and hustle day in and day out, and so when we finally get to a place where we can spend money on something we truly desire, and it’s a con, it’s definitely worth all the trouble. I fully admit that I have a weird streak in me about meeting famous people, but it comes from my own set of personal problems. It is very hard for me to make friends. The average person that meets me thinks I’m weird, and as I mentioned before, I don’t date much because men apparently find me somewhat underwhelming. To me, meeting my heroes is life-affirming because it gives me stories to tell. Exciting, fun, colorful stories that I wouldn’t have otherwise aside from my fiction. The adventures of my fictional protagonists are many, but my own personal adventures are few and far between, and that’s mainly why I have chosen con life. It’s a chance to bring laughs and joy when I get to talk about these surprisingly down to earth famous folk who make it all worth it. That, if nothing else, is why I do what I do.

Let’s just say that con life ain’t for the faint of heart.

 

Price and Platform Change: The Black Parade

TheBlackParade_Revised_2 copy

Good evening, ladies and gents! I have a brief announcement for you.

The Black Parade is almost always a permanently free (permafree for short) title, but a marketing opportunity has cropped up that asks for me to unpublish the novel on Smashwords, which subsequently will take it down from the Nook, iBookstore, Kobo, and a few other smaller retailers. Don’t panic! It’s temporary. The book will go back to being permafree November 16, 2016. 

If any of my fans are referring their friends to this novel as being free, please contact me directly at theblackparadeseries@gmail.com and I can offer them a free copy myself. The title will be .99 cents on Amazon once the permafree drops when the title is pulled from other digital shelves. After November 16th, the title will go right back up as a free novel. No other  permanent prices changes will be made to the other books. Keep in mind, it has also been entered into KDP Select, so if you subscribe to them, you can read it for free there as well.

Plus, we’re fast approaching my 3rd anniversary of being a published author, and it’ll be the one year anniversary of The Holy Dark. In celebration, it will be free to download all day long July 19, 2016. I’ll make another announcement closer to the date as a reminder for old and new fans.

Thanks for hanging in there through all my crazy shenanigans. I will post about the new boxed set in just a few days, so be on the look out for a fantastic opportunity for some new reads!

Kyoko M.

New Novel Announcement!

Have you been clamoring for more from your favorite author? Of course! But I also have a new book coming out this summer, and here’s your first look at the title and two main lead characters!

Cool Text Of Cinder _and Bone 175189844090590

That’s right! My new science-fiction mystery novel is called Of Cinder and Bone. Who’s it starring?

JackKamala

Commission by Olieboldador. https://www.fiverr.com/olieboldador

Meet Dr. Kamala Anjali and Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson, and their dragon, Pete. These two brilliant MIT scientists live in a world where long ago, dragons existed but they were hunted to extinction in the 1400’s thanks to a worldwide obsession with dragon-hunting. After years of working on their fellowship, they managed to bring one back to life with the eventual goal of resurrecting other extinct species to replenish their populations.

Of Cinder and Bone has a tentative release date of July-August 2016. Stay glued to the blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages to be notified when the official book blurb and cover are ready!

-Kyoko M

New Orleans Comic Con 2016

 

Me and Chris Evans aka Captain America

Your friendly neighborhood fantasy author just had an excursion to the land of awesome jazz, rich heritage, and the best damn Southern cuisine imaginable. It was basically Treat Yourself 2016 for me, and when I treat myself, I treat myself. Hence, Captain America snuggling and languishing in my arms.

New Orleans Comic Con is a younger con, but they apparently worked out something pretty incredible to snag not only Captain America himself, Chris Evans, but half of the cast of Civil War, including Frank Grillo (Rumlo aka Crossbones), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Jeremy Renner (aka Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and the Russo brothers who are directing the film. I had been on Wizard World’s mailing list for some reason and as soon as they sent word that Chris Evans would be in the South (seriously, look it up, A list celebrities avoid the South like the freaking plague, man, and I’d know) I scrambled for a ticket and a photo op. It was the opportunity of a life time to meet an actual superhero (my second one, actually, as I met Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, in 2013) in the flesh. Plus, I’d never been to New Orleans and I was dying to get a chance to soak in some of the great things I’ve heard about Crescent City.

I flew down Thursday afternoon and stayed with a friend of mine. On Friday, we got up and had breakfast here, at The Ruby Slipper.

I had cheesecake-stuffed French toast with fresh blueberry compote and it was so delicious I’m drooling as I think about it all over again. Heavenly stuff, man.

And here’s my first street car ride!

We headed to the con to grab our badges and check out the dealer’s room, which was huge and awesome. Here are the goodies I managed to swipe for myself:

This fancy lithograph came with the hilariously expensive Chris Evans silver VIP pass. It’s basically just a glossy 11×17 photo of Captain Hotness, but hey, why not? Who doesn’t love a little smolder?

This awesomeness is a fake movie poster made by one of the artists in the dealer’s room. His concept was taking nerd culture things and turning them into the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s style movie posters, and this one is so gorgeous that I had to snag it to decorate my room. It’s just plain lovely.

Below is another one by the same artist, except it’s from Fallout 3 & 4.

Saturday morning at 10am, I attended the Civil War panel, which includes all the guests I mentioned above. Because I’m a huge nerd and this was a lifetime opportunity, I sat by one of the mics and was lucky enough to ask a question. Yes. I spoke to half the cast of Captain America: Civil War. That high-pitched sound you’re hearing is me screaming internally for hours.

Unfortunately, the audio is a bit janky, but here’s the whole panel. I got to ask a question at around the 26 minute mark, and their answers were priceless. I really encourage you to watch the entire video, and if one with better quality pops up, I’ll add it. It was a phenomenal panel, even with some fans asking weird questions, and the cast was beyond entertaining to experience live.

After the panel, I had the two most awesome experiences as a fangirl ever. First, was meeting Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter herself, for an autograph. I managed to hold it together and I told her that I was so grateful for her portrayal of Peggy as this powerful, amazing three dimensional female character and how it’s so important to have this awesome woman on a major network television show. I also told her that I truly hope she enjoys all the wonderful things that have happened and will happen for her as a result of portraying this character, and Ms. Atwell told me she was so humbled by my words. We shook hands and I was able to take this precious piece of personal history home with me to be framed on my wall.

After that, the main event happened. I waited in line in a freezing cold auditorium for around an hour, dressed to the nines and in full makeup, and then it happened. I walked up to Captain America, Chris Evans, for a photograph.

Now, the funny thing is…I’ve met celebrities before. Not any A-list celebrities, mind you, but celebrities like Maggie Q, Shane West, Bill Corbett, James Urbaniak, who are mostly nerd icons. Each time, I’ve managed to hold in the fangirl squeeing and ask them questions, even hold entire conversations.

But not with Chris Evans.

He was the first celebrity to ever make me 100% starstruck and tongue-tied.

Before the hug, I walked over and said hi and asked him if it would be alright for me to give him a hug for the photo. Mr. Evans smiled and said it wasn’t a problem at all, and then he wrapped his arms around me and I basically lost all mental faculties. I actually had a comment prepared–something about how proud I was of what he’s done with the character of Steve Rogers–but after that hug…yep, I was mush. I just mumbled thank you and tottered away on my heels, blinded by how utterly handsome he was. The hug was that good, but then there’s also the fact that before he let me go, he rubbed the small of my back and that’s what precipitated me turning into a pile of goo. My God. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.

Oh, and here’s his autograph as well (sadly not personalized, because you had to pay an extra $200 for that and as much as I ADORE Chris Evans, paying over $600 for a photo op and personalized autograph was outside of my comfort zone.)

The rest of the trip wound down after I met Cap. I swung past the famous Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee, which were yummy. We had dinner at this cool seafood place called Mr. Ed’s Seafood Bar and then on Sunday we just walked around town to sight-see and eat at Deannie’s before I headed home. Honestly, the city was beautiful and stuffed with all kinds of feasts for the eyes (and stomach). I’m so happy that Treat Yo-self 2016 went as smoothly as it did, and I will never forget meeting my favorite Avenger in the flesh. It was Item Number Four on my Bucket List, and I’m so giddy I managed it before I turned 30. It was unforgettable.

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s my informal account of meeting Chris Evans, for poops and giggles.

The Black Parade Returns to Permafree!

TheBlackParade_Revised_2 copy

That’s right, my friends! After a long, profitable summer and autumn with the authors of Secret Worlds, my first novel is back at its free status again. I apologize if anyone has been confused by it staying at .99cents for so long, but it turns out our set was doing really well so we extended its duration through to the end of the year.

Please spread the word and share the link with friends, family, and new readers whenever you can. It would be a huge help. Thanks and I’ll have more news for you soon!

Kyoko M

The Predator: A Short Story from She Who Fights Monsters

Happy Halloween, my friends! In celebration of our spooky holiday, I’ve got an all-new, never-before-seen short story for you told from the perspective of everyone’s favorite archdemon, Belial. It takes place between Chapters 10 and 11 of She Who Fights Monsters (The Black Parade Book 2.)

WARNING: This is a horror story. Violence, adult language, minor gore, and sexual references abound. Plus, minor spoilers for She Who Fights Monsters. You have been warned.

Enjoy!


 

Commission by Sarah Elkins

Commission by Sarah Elkins

The list of people whom I have been unable to fuck, manipulate, or murder is very short.

In fact, there is only one person on that list.

One woman, rather.

God always did have a great sense of humor. No wonder I rebelled.

Continue Reading >>

Adventures at the Gun Range!

Nice shootin', Tex

Nice shootin’, Tex

So I shot a gun today for the first time.

Don’t worry. I haven’t finally let the monster out and become a crazy person, or one of my own characters (*stares at Belial*). This was actually part-research and part-bucket-list item. I’ve been writing about characters who use guns since high school, basically, and so this was a great learning opportunity for me to grow as an author and as a person.

Gun knowledge isn’t uncommon, of course. I’ve done oodles of research on handguns, rifles, shotguns, and so forth for scenes in The Black Parade series, but it’s one thing to see images and lists and paragraphs of information and another to actually handle a gun.

For one, the most surprising thing of all is the sound. Gunshots are…loud. Very, very loud. Like, you think you know how loud, but you absolutely do not. Remember that running gag from Archer about him getting tinnitus from so many guns being shot close to his head? That’s a brilliant gag for a reason. It’s unbelievably loud, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun.

Hollywood definitely took liberties with gunshots in action flicks or crime films. Don’t believe for a second that you can squeeze a few off and no one’s gonna come running or call the police, and I hear silencers do NOT muffle the sound to that quiet whisper we always see. So that was my first thing to note. The first time we went outside to the range, I jumped like twelve times because I didn’t realize how loud gunshots are.

The second thing that was interesting about handling a gun was the weight. The standard at the Gainesville Target Range is a Glock 17, which is a 9mm handgun. It’s heavy, whether loaded or not. I have long fingers, but my hand overall is on the smaller side. It was surprisingly difficult to chamber a round into the Glock 17. My instructor walked me through the process: how to load a magazine, how to pull the slider back, and how to cock the gun to chamber a round, but it’s actually a little tricky when you have smaller hands, even if you have good upper body strength. I had to practice a few times to get it right, and they always make it look easy as pie in the movies.

The third thing that was different than I thought it would be is loading a magazine. The practice gun gave me so much trouble that the instructor gave me a speed-loader. It’s a nifty little device that depresses the bullets down and allows you to slide the new one in there with little to no effort. If you’re a beginner, getting the bullets in there is kind of awkward, and again, my hands are small. The mag I had held 17 rounds, which is pretty cool because I didn’t realize there are two bullets lined up side by side inside the mag.

After we went through the gun safety course, we went out to the range itself. Amusingly enough, my very first shot ever with a gun was a neck wound. I hit the target between the meaty flap at the neck and shoulder juncture, which I’m pretty sure is either a killing blow or a crippling injury (you wouldn’t get much use of the arm after that, trust me).

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Another nifty thing to note is the recoil. It’s actually rather mild with a Glock 17. I was able to fire without flinching or my arms/shoulders getting pushed back. Aiming is pretty difficult, but I imagine after practice you know where you’re looking instead of where you think you’re looking. I did have to overcome a slight reflex problem of wanting to close my eyes when I squeezed on the trigger, though. As I said before, gunshots are no joke and you have to wear protective ear muffs to save your poor eardrums from an unfortunate death.

The most hilarious thing about the entire experience was the fact that the casings kept landing on my head. Each time you shoot, the casing gets cast aside, but for some reason, 80% of mine bounced off my head or landed on my chest/shoulders. This is also something Hollywood really glosses over. The casings always bounce off screen. One of my favorite anecdotes from Maggie Q is when she was shooting for Nikita and she was running and shooting her handgun, and a hot casing went down her blouse and gave her a mild burn, which can totally happen in real life, just not in movies.

We were given a box with 50 rounds in it so we split it between the two of us. My first five shots I did at 5 yards out, then I jumped to 15 yards (at which point I seriously only hit the target once out of five shots), and then did it at 10 yards. For the final five shots, my date challenged me to see who could get the most head shots at 10 yards.

This is what happened:

Can you tell I kill people for a living?

Can you tell I kill people for a living?

Seriously, the last shot I took was a perfect headshot right through the forehead. What are the odds? I actually won the bet, which is pretty damn cool for a first-timer. Lucky shot, of course, but still cool. I kept the paper target and a casing as a memento for the occasion. I’m a dork like that. Also, I’m proud of my one-in-a-million perfect headshot.

Overall, I quite enjoyed myself. I will personally never own a handgun, but I appreciate the hell out of the power and precision that is involved with safely operating them. It’s an entertaining experience, and if life permits, I might venture out there again one day to try my hand at a rifle.

Thanks for reading!

Kyoko

Matrimony: A Short Story from The Holy Dark

In celebration of the two month anniversary of The Holy Dark, and my two year anniversary as a published author, I’ve written a short story that takes place directly after Chapter 37 and before the epilogue. With that in mind, major spoilers for the ending to The Holy Dark. If you haven’t read it yet, I would advise you to return to this story once you’ve read it cover to cover.

To everyone who has loved the series and supported me so far, I offer you this story and my endless gratitude. Please enjoy!


 

Matrimony

"In sickness and in hell--I mean, health."

“In sickness and in hell–I mean, health.”

“I’m gonna die.”

My new husband, the archangel Michael, cocked an eyebrow up at me. I brandished the two-inch white satin stiletto that had been holding my right foot hostage.

“Seriously, not even Dr. Schols could make this abomination more comfortable.”

He chuckled and knelt, tuxedo and all, in front of me. “Sorry, babe. If it helps, you look incredible.”

He slipped the other shoe off. I resisted a small shudder as his long, strong fingers stroked my ankle and the barest edge of my calf. Judging by the sly look in those sea-green eyes, he’d done it on purpose.

I smirked, keeping my voice low, so as not to tip off the guests currently filing into the reception hall that we were both being a little naughty. “Save it for fight night, handsome.”

Michael winked. “Yes, ma’am.”

Continue Reading >>

Secret Worlds Launches Today!

 

Beautiful hair from behind swaying while looking back

Good news, everyone! The summer boxed set I’m participating in launches today!

That’s right–21 USA Today, New York Times, and Amazon Bestselling urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors packed together in one awesome set for only .99 cents! Please grab yourself a copy and spread the word. When you’re done with that, join us for the virtual launch party, where you can win tons of prizes and giveaways. What are you waiting for?! Get out there!

The Holy Dark Turns A Month Old!

The_Holy_Dark_3_final_Front

Oh, look at my darling. She’s grown up so fast. *wipes eyes*

In celebration of the third novel in The Black Parade series being out a whole month, I thought we’d do something fun. Here are some trivia and facts about the book, from story ideas to headcanons to deleted scenes. Enjoy!

  • Myra Bennett’s physical appearance is styled after Angela Bassett
  • The original word count was over 180,000 words
  • It was the first novel that caused me to miss my “one book a year” deadline, due to the fact that I couldn’t type fast enough to finish it on New Years’ Eve
  • The other Seers whom Jordan talks to in the Skype chat were originally going to have major parts in the story, but it was ultimately rewritten because it took too much time away from the main cast (Jordan, Michael, Gabriel, Belial)
  • There were plans to expand Myra’s backstory a bit more, but it was also rewritten due to the page length already being out of control
  • The Holy Dark takes place in October 2012, over the course of a week before the time skip in the final chapter and epilogue
  • The wedding scene was added in the final draft of the story after discussing what would make the fans truly happy with my sister-in-law, who was about to get married right around the time I started the final draft of the novel
  • I have a bunch of headcanons about Jordan and Michael’s wedding that I might turn into short stories or bonus chapters in the future
  • Zora was originally going to have a cameo in this book via a memory Jordan had as a dream when she was doped up on Belial’s blood, but it wasn’t relevant enough to the story
  • Though she is never directly described in the novel, Zora is short, middle Eastern, and looks a lot like Parminder Nagra (Neela Rasgotra from ER)
  • There was going to be a joke that Belial allegedly knows 314 different sex positions, but it didn’t fit into any dialogue spots, so it was left out
  • One of the earliest ideas for the plot was Jordan hunting for Belial cross-country after he betrayed her and released the Leviathan, but it didn’t have enough action
  • When the epilogue takes place, Allison has been with Jordan and Michael for about a year and a half, since it took them a while to get the adoption set up thanks to Jordan’s stint with the law
  • Beelzebub’s cameo in Hell is intentionally left open-ended for future works
  • Mammon is the only archdemon who does not appear in any of the four books in the series, including this one
  • Andrew Bethsaida’s backstory was also intended to show up here, but was ultimately decided not to be relevant enough for inclusion
  • There was also going to be a scene where Jordan finally visits Terrell’s grave, but the epilogue needed to be more than just narration, so it skipped ahead to life with Jordan, Michael, and Allison
  • Allison is eventually going to become a part time demon hunter in college, and it may later become a short story, novella, or YA novel. Same for Juliana Freitas, Belial’s daughter, whom Jordan saved in She Who Fights Monsters, and she was briefly mentioned as coming to America in the epilogue
  • The various descriptions of the circles of Hell were composed from Dante’s Inferno and some of the scenery seen in the movie Constantine (2005), along with my own ideas mixed in
  • An early, early draft of The Holy Dark had Moloch interrogating Jordan and she ultimately amuses him so much that he doesn’t kill her, but it was decided against because she is already in Belial’s favor and it would be too much to have two of the five archdemons like her
  • Neither Lucifer nor God have appeared in any of the books, though they are mentioned directly interacting with characters off-screen. This is because there are so many depictions of both that I didn’t want to even try to make my own, and because I felt it would be pretentious to make it seem like Jordan is important to warrant attention from either party face-to-face. However, my personal headcanon is that God and Lucifer don’t “look” like one particular entity; instead, they shapeshift into whatever form with have an effect on the person they are speaking to. For instance, in Hell Lucifer took the form of Jordan when he spoke to Belial because he knew it would unnerve him and he wanted Belial to kill her.
  • Ace was inspired by Ace the Bathound from the Batman comics and takes his backstory from the iteration in Batman Beyond. The only difference is his personality and breed. (Shameless, I know.)
  • Though it’s implied through his actions, Belial never once says that he loves Jordan
  • I didn’t cry when I wrote Gabriel’s death scene, but I did get choked up when I wrote the scene after they return from Hell and Jordan tells him stories about her childhood. I still to this day cannot really explain why that gets to me more than his death.
  • As I’ve mentioned in an interview before, the famous forehead kiss between Gabriel and Jordan came from something my favorite cousin Mikey did once a few years ago and I remember feeling so unbelievably safe and happy from that one gesture
  • Gabriel is never described as such, but I occasionally hear his lines read in a British accent. It makes more sense when you consider that he looks a bit like Jude Law in my head.
  • Michael’s very out-of-character suggestion of a threesome came about because I realized how much teasing Belial had done and wanted to show that Michael doesn’t always have a stick up his ass and has a good sense of humor, even when annoyed
  • The demon mercenary Balrog is quite shamelessly modeled after Crowley from Supernatural
  • The reference to Supernatural that Lauren makes early in the book (comparing Jordan to Dean Winchester) is largely because I’m a dork, but also because not one single urban fantasy TV show, book, or movie that I have ever come across has ever mentioned Supernatural
  • There was a scene I really wanted to write with Lauren and Belial meeting face to face, and it was intended to make Jordan so angry that she attacked him out in the open, blowing her cover. It was reworked once the plot was decided, but I admit I still want to see how Lauren would react to Belial if she knew who he really was.
  • This is the only novel of the three where Catalina Amador, Jordan’s mother, does not directly appear
  • I’ve been trying for almost a month, but I cannot think of one single young redheaded actor who could play Avriel if The Holy Dark (or She Who Fights Monsters, since he was in that first) became a movie
  • For a while, the title of this book was going to be either Back to Black or Once Burned
  • It is currently around the same word count as The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (176k words)

Thanks to everyone who already bought a copy, to those who have helped support me on social media, and to anyone who just read all those nerdy trivia facts. I am eternally grateful. Here’s to another month of great sales!

Kyoko