Archives for : she who fights monsters

Christmas Sale 2014


Happy holidays! In the spirit of Christmas, She Who Fights Monsters is free to download via Amazon all day long! Please grab yourself a copy or share it with a friend or loved one. My gift to you, dear readers.

Kyoko’s Top 18 Most Hateable Villains (Part 3)

Welcome back to the final installment of my Top 18 Most Hateable Movie Villains in the last 20 years. Who will top the list of the most evil fiction baddies? Time to find out. Massive spoilers ahead, as always.

6. R.I.F.T from Transcendence (2014)

Various actors

Various actors

Did you see Transcendence, aka that Johnny Depp movie no one cared about? No? Good. Unfortunately, my father and I are both suckers for a seemingly decent hard sci-fi film and we sat through it. Lo and behold, while the movie was pretty lousy, it yielded one of the most hateable villain groups I’ve seen in the last twenty years.

Here’s the low down on the plot: a researcher named Will Caster (Johnny Depp), his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and their best friend/colleague Max (Paul Bettany) are on the eve of creating the first true Artificial Intelligence. However, an anti-technology terrorist group called R.I.F.T believes that the A.I. will destroy the world and either kill everyone or turn them into slaves. They then proceed to poison an entire team of researchers associated with the project and shoot Will Caster with an irradiated bullet, dooming him to die slowly from radiation poisoning. Evelyn and Max use the last few months of Will’s life to attempt to transfer his consciousness along with the prototype of his A.I. into a singular being. They are successful, but R.I.F.T closes in and kidnaps Max while Evelyn and A.I. Will go on the run. Max is held prisoner for some amount of time and the R.I.F.T members proceed to lecture him with his own papers insisting that Will is going to take over the world and that Max should help them get rid of A.I. Will.

I don’t even know where to start with how much I hate this terrorist group, or describe which part of their “message” I hate the most. First of all, the fact that they thought they had the right to slaughter innocent people who were trying to create a technology that could help the less fortunate pisses me off. Second of all, the fact that they didn’t have the nerve to simply assassinate Will Caster in anything resembling a humane way. Dying from radiation is slow and agonizing. We watched that poor man waste away in a bed for months until his body deteriorated and he died, passing his mind into the machine Evelyn made for him. Third of all, kidnapping Max, beating him up, and then insisting that he help them stop Will, who at that point had not done one single thing to them or anyone else. Fourth of all, for having unsubstantiated claims to justify terrorism and violence and yet still being high horse about it as if it was unshakable evidence that the A.I. would turn evil. If that’s not enough, let me drop what made this movie universally panned by critics: A.I. Will’s ultimate plan? To use nanites to regrow forests, clean polluted water, and heal the sick.

I’m not joking.

Will’s master plan was to save humanity.

Not once in the entire film does A.I. Will commit an act of wrongdoing. The most sinful thing he does is after a man is robbed and beaten to death, he injects the nanites, heals all the man’s wounds, and temporarily takes over the man’s consciousness in order to speak to his wife. The people Will heals have him in their system and he can control them, and while that is morally objectionable, he doesn’t try to take ANYTHING over nor does he try to kill a single person, not even when the army teams up with R.I.F.T and shoots Evelyn (which she dies from sustained wounds thanks to these assholes) and when R.I.F.T turns on Max YET AGAIN and tells A.I. Will to either shut himself down or they kill his best friend.

The cherry on top?

R.I.F.T. doesn’t stop A.I. Will.

He surrenders because of his wife, who lies dying in his arms.

So R.I.F.T is not only a pack of murderers, they are a pack of ineffective murderers.

The final insult is that the film implies that this is a good thing, that their blind anti-tech nonsense is valid and should be argued against in the future. It leaves the most disgusting taste in my mouth. I absolutely cannot stand the way they get away scot-free with killing so many people for a result that was inconclusive and they did so to an entity that never made an attack on anyone. If that’s not evil, then I don’t know what is.


5. William Stryker from X-Men 2 (2003)

Played by Brian Cox

Played by Brian Cox

I think there is a special seat in hell for people who betray their own flesh and blood, and that’s probably why Mr. Stryker is so high up on my list. You all know this story by now, even if fanboys seem to prefer the preboot-quel X-Men films these days. William Stryker is a government official whose sole mission is to control or eliminate mutants, with preference to the latter.

What burns me up so much with William Stryker is that he was not only okay with eradicating an entire race of people—y’know, genocide, because that’s always a good idea—but the fact that (1) he was okay with forcing the man who fought hardest for mutant rights, Charles Xavier, to commit the actual act (2) was okay with manipulating his own mutant son into doing it (3) thought he was completely justified in his actions because of isolated incidents. I guess no one ever told him the “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch” thing as a child.

Don’t get me wrong—I hate me some Magneto. I considered placing him on my list for his actions in all three of the original X-Men films, but I think Stryker made me angrier for mind-controlling mutants and for treating his own son like an animal. He made it personal. Magneto has seen some of the worst parts of humanity and while he’s not justified, he does have a good excuse. Stryker had the power to make a difference in a good way and chose to be an evil son of a bitch instead. He’d kill millions of innocent lives all for the one that he lost, and that’s unbelievably selfish and cowardly and utterly reprehensible.

4. Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear from Toy Story 3 (2010)

Played by Ned Beatty

Played by Ned Beatty

Alright, I admit it: Lotso was the first villain to ever make me swear out loud in a children’s movie. In the theater, no less.

I couldn’t help it, and I can’t possibly be the only one to think that Lotso is by far the most evil Pixar villain ever. What a son of a bitch. Only Pixar has the power to make me despise a teddy bear to the point of shouting obscenities during the movie’s premiere. Seriously, I don’t believe in talking in a movie theater, but Lotso got me so worked up that I couldn’t stop myself.

It’s bad enough that he created a prison out of the daycare center and manipulated an innocent baby toy and took away the chance for happiness from his own friends, but Lotso goes much deeper than that. He’s just a rejected plaything who thinks everyone else deserves to be treated like they are worthless, which is exactly the way he felt when Daisy got a new bear. He’s damaged goods and he’s taking it out on the world.

Look, I get it, that would jack me up too if my little girl’s parents replaced me, but that isn’t the biggest of Lotso’s crimes. He and the other toys could have found a new owner to love them and play with them, but he made the choice to become the warden of his own sick little prison. You have to be pretty bent to inflict that kind of pain on others who have done nothing wrong, especially when it’s all they have. Toys are made to be played with and to make children happy. Sucking the joy out of their sole purpose takes a new brand of evil.

And finally, we come to The Scene. You know the one. Where after Woody sacrifices time and effort to save Lotso’s sorry ass, what does he do? Not hit the button and doom our beloved toys—our childhood memories, for Christ’s sake—to die just for ruining his plan. I can’t even describe how much I hated him in that one scene, and the fact of the matter is that he got off easy for his crime. I worked at a Toys R Us for two years and we had real-sized Lotso bears in our store for a period of time and when no one was around, I kicked one of them just to make myself feel better. Petty, but true.

If there is a Toy Hell, I hope Lotso gets Lots-O-Huggings from Toy Satan.


3. The Other Mother from Coraline (2009)

Played by Teri Hatcher

Played by Teri Hatcher

Coraline is one of the best non-Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar films ever made, hands down. Not surprising, as the book was written by Neil Gaiman. It’s just a fantastic story with thrills and chills and stunning visuals and excellent characters. Too excellent, actually, because the Other Mother is one of the scariest and most hateable villains in the history of anything, regardless of the medium.

In case you missed it somehow, Coraline is the story of a young girl and her parents who move to a house called the Pink Palace. Late at night, Coraline finds a portal to an alternate reality where she meets the Other Mother—a creature who looks and sounds exactly like Coraline’s mother, but instead of being grumpy and impatient, the Other Mother is sweet and fun. And she has buttons for eyes. (Which is why I am utterly terrified of Lalaloopsy dolls, consequently) Her world is magical and Coraline falls in love with the beautiful sights and exciting things to do there, but she later discovers that it’s all secretly a trap. The Other Mother tries to get Coraline to stay in her world and sew buttons into her eyes, but Coraline refuses and manages to escape home. Then it all goes to hell when the Other Mother kidnaps Coraline’s parents and she has to return to the other reality to get them back.

The Other Mother’s full backstory is never given, but the bits we do get are so scary that it’s why I would consider this film to be for young adults. She’s no one’s mother. She’s a giant spider-demon thing that lures in children, “loves them” for a period of time, and then eats them.

Yes. You read that correctly.

She. Freaking. Eats. Children.

As if that weren’t horrifying enough, Coraline meets the ghosts of the first three victims, who warn her and give her advice on how to escape. Ghosts, people. OF THE CHILDREN THE OTHER MOTHER MURDERED. I mean, do I really need to say anything more?

The Other Mother is just terrifying, even before we see her final true form in the finale, and believe me when I say it’s worth a watch. I showed Coraline to my older brother and his wife and they were both curled up in the loveseat clutching each other in horror during the final confrontation of Coraline and the Other Mother. She’s a sickening fiend and you will be impressed with how ruthless and violent and awful she turns out to be by the end of the film. You think of the classic film villains like Darth Vader or the Terminator and they ain’t got nuthin’ on the Other Mother. She gives evil a fresh coat of paint and that’s why I highly recommend that people add Coraline into their traditional Halloween moviethons. Trust me, you’ll be cheering right along for Coraline to defeat her by the end.

(P.S. I’ve heard she’s even scarier in the book. Good Lord, now that’s something to keep you awake at night.)


2. Stephen from Django Unchained (2012)


Played by Samuel L. "Motherf*cking" Jackson

Played by Samuel L. “Motherf*cking” Jackson

I admit I was a middlegrade Quentin Tarantino fan until I saw Django Unchained. It completely changed my appreciation for the man as a director. For me, everything in Django just lined up perfectly—the dialogue, the setting, the characters, the music, the action, the tone, the underlying message, all of it. I’ve watched it a dozen times by now and it’s by far my favorite Tarantino film, even over Pulp Fiction. A large part of that has to do with the fact that Django pulls an amazing Bait-and-Switch Villain trope in the final third of the film.

Stephen is one of the most sadistic bastards in film history, forget the last 20 years. As I said before, villains who make things personal truly get beneath my skin, and Stephen was a true blue snake –in-the-grass kind of villain. Calvin Candie is the over-the-top slimeball racist and you love him for it. (Leo was snubbed so hard for not being nominated for this role and I will never get over it.) Stephen, however, lies low until he finds the perfect opportunity to strike and ruin everything for Django and Hildy. What really sells it is those underhanded ways that Stephen tries to bring Django as low as he can, like after Django says he gives up and Stephen says, “I can’t hear you, ni**a!” or before Django is sent off to the Le Quint Dickie mining company to work until he dies and he rubs it in his face, saying, “That will be the story of you.”

What’s so brilliantly hateable about Stephen, for me, is two things: (1) that Django brings up how a black slaver is lower than the head of the house and (2) how his role reflects how the Number One killer of black men in America is other black men. Remember that serious Stink Eye Stephen gave Django when he rode up? He knew from the second he laid eyes on him that he was going to find a way to destroy him, regardless of who he was or how he got there. He saw Django’s choice to do that with his freedom and thought that he didn’t deserve it, so he’d take it away anyway he could.

Then there’s his true role over all that surpasses the time and the setting and becomes relevant now. Sure, racism is still going strong and has a long way to go before it’s better for people of color, but trust me nobody hates black people like other freakin’ black people. Stephen is the perfect representation of a “hater”, not the stupid shallow people rappers complain about in their lyrics. A true hater is someone who wants what you have or hates that you have a purpose or quality about yourself that they don’t and makes it their personal mission to bring you down by any means necessary. Stephen is the worst kind of betrayer to his own race during the absolute worst time in our collective history, and that’s why his comeuppance is pure gold. Tarantino’s best, if you ask me.

And my personal number one most hateable movie villain in the last twenty years is…

King Stefan from Maleficent (2014)

Played by Sharlto Copley

Played by Sharlto Copley

Unexpected, huh? Well, maybe after I explain you’ll get why this mo’fo tops my list.

I love Maleficent, and I love it more because I didn’t expect to love it. I had just seen Godzilla, which was highly disappointing, and so I went into Maleficent with low expectations, especially since Snow White and the Huntsman was of a similar tone and it was also a huge letdown despite the premise and the awesomeness of Charlize Theron. Then I watched it and instantly fell in love with the story and the gorgeous visuals and the three-dimensional Maleficent in both the protagonist and antagonist role throughout the film. It was an absolute delight and everything I wanted in a fairytale re-telling, especially since I am a dork for a good fantasy film.

But man.

I hate Stefan.

I hate him so much.

Think about it. Maleficent, as an innocent child, very kindly stopped her fellow creatures from smashing little Stefan into paste and built a friendship with a lowly boy who had nothing. She even fell in love with him. How many effing beautiful Angelina Jolie fairies fall in love with short, stumpy little farmboys? He should have worshiped the ground she floated over. But what does he do instead?

He lures her out, drugs her, and is too much of an effing coward to kill her, so he instead steals her wings. Her identity. The things that make her the way she is. Her most prized, precious attributes.

Remember how I mentioned screaming curse words at Lotso during Toy Story 3’s dramatic climax? I didn’t do that with Maleficent.

I slumped down in my chair, glaring at the screen as I watched that coward cut off her wings, and continuously  furiously muttered, “You suck. You suck. You suck. YOU F**KING SUCK!”

I’d have rather Stefan killed her than let her live with the pain of being without her wings and of knowing that the man she fell in love with, the man she gave her heart to, the man who lied and told her that he gave her True Love’s kiss, stole her wings and left her so that he could become king.

I swear, that is a betrayal on a level that is just unreal.

Look, I know the villains on my past two lists have done much worse, but as a woman, I could not help but understand completely why Maleficent did what she did and could not appreciate her more if I tried for later becoming a good person again by the end of the film. Because if it were me? Sheeeeeiiiiit.

Stefan’s ass would be scattered across the damn landscape of his own kingdom.

Some of you have had bad break ups before, male or female, so you might understand why Stefan’s at the top of my list. Nothing is worse than loving someone and then having them betray you, or throw you away as if your entire relationship meant nothing. That’s happened to me before and so Maleficent’s soul-wrenching wail after she woke up without her wings spoke to me on the deepest levels. I’ve made that sound before when someone broke my heart, and that’s why Stefan is without a doubt the lowest creature in the last twenty years’ of films that I’ve watched. No one deserves what Maleficent got. No one should go through something like that, especially not someone so kind and brave.

And I did actually get so worked up at the end of the movie that I suggested Maleficent rip out Stefan’s throat and shove it up his ass.

But you know, that’s just me.

…gee, maybe I’m the greatest villain of all.

Oh well.

Happy Halloween! Don’t forget that She Who Fights Monsters is FREE all day long on Amazon. If you spread the word, take a screenshot and you’ll be added to my mailing list to receive a free e-Book copy of The Holy Dark when it comes out in the spring. Email the screenshot to, or if you tweet it, tag me at @misskyokom.


Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing

No love potions, please.

No love potions, please.

If you are not reading The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, slap yourself in the face right now.

Then go buy the whole series and neglect your real life for the next 72 hours while you read them.

I’ve read a ton of books in my lifetime, but honestly, this series is by far the best thing I’ve read so far. And I’m not trying to blow smoke up Jim Butcher’s ass now that I’ve met him. I’m dead serious. For years, I only read a couple books here and there, and then my brother let me read Storm Front. I haven’t loved a book series that much since the Redwall series by the late great Brian Jacques. The Dresden Files have everything I love about fiction all rolled into one, but it’s also an excellent series to use as a teaching tool to newbie authors like me, and not just those who write urban fantasy. Allow me to explain how Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden has made me a better writer (I think).

Write honestly. So if you know nothing about Harry Dresden, then let me tell you that there’s a reason he’s a bestselling character. You know all those smooth-talking, handsome, sexy, absurdly powerful P.I. characters you read about or see in films? Yeah, that’s not Harry. He’s awkward. Like, seriously awkward. He’s absolutely terrible with women—as in talking to them about anything vaguely romantic or sexual, or noticing when they find him attractive. He’s completely dense about the fairer sex and it takes him ages to get over his instinctive ‘gentlemanly’ schtick as he starts to realize the bad guys are exploiting his nice guy nature. He is also underpaid, underfed, and an unrepentant dork of the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars variety. Harry Dresden is not the ideal man you’d think of when you think ‘bestselling urban fantasy main character.’

And that’s why he works.

Harry Dresden is the kind of guy you’d meet, aside from being a wizard. This is where the ‘write honestly’ part comes in. Harry, to me, is someone you could run into at some point in your life—someone who is modest and genuinely nice but also is a complete smartass to make up for his lack of self-confidence. He’s self-sacrificing to a fault, and he has real internal struggles that make him so very easy to understand and root for. He spends much of the series simply trying to survive in this world of nasty supernatural beasties, and the reason why he’s so popular is because he’s an atypical protagonist. Urban fantasy tends to have confident, sexy, alpha male characters, and while Harry has a small streak of alpha male in him, that’s not who he is. He is perfectly happy blending into the background and supporting his friends and family whenever possible. He doesn’t run around looking for trouble.

Authenticity can be one of the most powerful weapons for a writer. Sure, it’s nice to read about a badass character who is the kind of person we all wish we were, but I think the reason the Dresden Files series is so successful is because Jim Butcher chose another direction entirely. Harry feels genuine. He feels like an honest character, someone you could bump into at a bookstore or at a Burger King (which is far more likely). I think they will stand the test of time much longer than the sensationalized ones that hit mega-fame for just being attractive or brazen.

Support your main character with the best and brightest. If for some insane reason you don’t immediately fall in love with Harry like I did, there’s good news. Harry’s friends (and later family) are some of the best written characters out there. You can’t spit without hitting an awesome supporting character in the Dresden Files (who will consequently kick your ass for spitting on them). You’ve got Karrin Murphy, Harry’s best friend (and girlfriend-in-denial), a Chicago detective; Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire and Harry’s casual acquaintance who later becomes more (don’t wanna spoil it, it’s worth the reveal); Waldo Butters, a coroner and part-time unofficial physician when Harry’s dumb lanky ass gets hurt; Michael Carpenter, a Knight of the Cross armed with an archangel’s sword; Molly Carpenter, Harry’s apprentice who is a Perky Goth with a bit of a crush on her mentor; and Bob the Skull, an air spirit of infinite knowledge who is British and also a total pervert. Those are just the main supporting protagonists. I’m not even naming other recurring characters and the long, long list of Harry’s enemies.

The thing that’s so great about these characters is that their lives don’t revolve around Harry, which is something that a lot of other authors make mistakes with on occasion. Harry usually tries to keep to himself, but he’s such a great and lovable guy that he attracts other people to him naturally. He’d rather stab himself in the groin than endanger his loved ones, but the good thing is, his friends all know he’s like that and ignore him and help him out anyway. They have their own set of personality traits and flaws and agendas, and they all work towards keeping Harry alive and kicking, but they also aren’t afraid to keep him in check. As the series progresses, Harry comes into his own and gathers quite a bit of power and abilities, and his friends are very aware that power corrupts. He’s a good man and always has been, but he’s also quite oblivious to things around him that change him unconsciously.

Writing great supporting characters is tough. One can tend to get laser-focused on the main lead and forget that other people have their own lives too, and the Dresden Files is one of those rare series that remembers that we are only seeing pieces of the tapestry. You have to step back to appreciate the whole thing, and each character is like a new color on that tapestry. If you just have white and black, you might not get that big of a crowd, but if you’ve chosen your colors well, then your chances of making it into a galleria are far better.

The main character is not Jesus. What I mean by ‘Jesus’ is that he or she is not going to be perfect, and if they are, you’d better knock them off that pedestal stat. As I mentioned in my first point, Harry is awkward and starts off with this archaic issue of always having to save or protect women he meets, but there are deeper issues inside him as well. It takes a bit to get him riled up, but Harry’s temper definitely gets him into a lot of trouble, and he is fiercely protective of women and children even after he gets over his chivalry problems. His enemies have noted how Harry can get if you push the right buttons, and he is far less pragmatic when he’s angry than when he’s calm.

Anyone who actually has read the Dresden Files knows what I’m getting at. The main reason I decided to write this blog post was to discuss the idea that your main character, at some point in your storyline, needs to screw up royally and ruin everything. And boy, does Harry do that in Changes, and then some.

I won’t reveal what Harry does, but let me just say that the ending to Changes was so traumatic that I (a) literally SLAPPED the book after I was done reading it (b) I was so affected by Harry’s choices that I couldn’t even pick up the next book and read it for two whole months (c) I tried to read the next book and couldn’t because I was still too upset and (d) I skipped to Cold Days just to alleviate my pain. While it was hell for me, this is exactly what should have happened.

I love Harry. I love him more than I loved a book character in my entire life. And he does something so stupid that I had to take a break from my beloved wizard to deal with it. I’ve never had such a strong reaction to a book before, and it took me a while to realize it wasn’t a bad thing. As an author, I want my readers to love my characters and want the best for them, but it’s also important to frustrate your readers and cause them to be at odds with the main character if you want to do more than simply entertain them. I think successful long-running series are the ones that get beneath your skin, and nothing does that better than seeing your favorite character do something that ruins their own life, especially if it’s because they had no choice. Harry didn’t have much of a choice for what he does in Changes, and that’s why it was a gamble. I’m sure a lot of readers couldn’t take that amount of pain and decided to quit. It was by far the most controversial ending in the series’ run. But, in my opinion, it was worth it for the pay off.

If you’ve read She Who Fights Monsters, you’ll see that I subscribe heartily to the ‘your character is not Jesus’ mentality. Jordan Amador is a flawed woman and she makes some seriously questionable decisions that will (and already have) piss off readers. The tricky part is making your readers have an emotion, even a negative one, but not pushing them to the point where they give up. Inevitably, some of them will, and that’s sad, but it’s also the risk you must take in order to grow. If you keep your character in a safe little bubble-wrapped box, they can’t grow. They will never grow unless you let all the bad stuff in to force them to toughen up and learn a lesson and become better. I think an author needs to be sadistic at least once in their series (and I literally told Jim Butcher as much when I met him, and he guffawed and gave me an evil smile and a facetious, “Oh, I’m sorry!”) in order to make a character to last through the ages.

I’ve gone on pretty long about this series, so let me simply say this: the Dresden Files is an incredible run with a character who is too lovable for words, but what one should take away from this is that it has a little bit of everything: laughter, heart-wrenching sorrow, action, adventure, mystery, and horror. For me, this series is the first that I’ve read that has an actual soul. It wasn’t written to make a quick buck. It was real and solid and you can feel it when you’re reading any one of the many books. I can’t recommend it hard enough, to be honest, because it’s what I consider to be a game-changer. If you want to learn more about good writing and taking risks, give it a read.

Parkour, bitch.


She Who Fights Monsters Turns a Month Old!


They grow up so fast. *sniff*

Oh, look at our girl. Isn’t she pretty? Isn’t she looooooovelyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Ahem. Anyhow, in celebration of my second novel being out for a month, I’ve set it to be free on Amazon all day long. If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy, grab it here and spread the word. You can also get an advanced preview of The Holy Dark, Book #3 in the series, by sharing the following Facebook post.

Additionally, The Black Parade went permanently free today. Yes, you read that right. It’s free from now until the end of time. I would appreciate it greatly if you would spread the word.

Have a wonderful day, and stay tuned for more news on the series!

She Who Fights Monsters Virtual Launch Party




Colbert Celebrating


Yes, two weeks from today, the second novel in the Black Parade series will be on bookshelves. Join me at the Facebook virtual launch party for a chance to win a free copy as well as other magnificent prizes. C’mon, you know you want to. It’s gonna be fun. See you there.

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway for it and win yourself a free paperback copy signed by yours truly.



She Who Fights Monsters Goodreads Giveaway



It’s finally here! Enter to win a paperback copy of the sequel to The Black Parade. All it takes is a second and you could be holding this beauty in your hand before anyone else. Giveaway ends July 22, 2014, on the release day, so enter now!

Stay tuned for more excerpts and goodies!


She Who Fights Monsters – Plot Reveal



The upcoming sequel to The Black Parade hits July 22, 2014. Here’s your official book blurb and plot reveal!

Michael O’Brien. 25. New Yorker. Lead guitarist. Commander of Heaven’s Army.

Jordan Amador. 22. New Yorker. Waitress. Investigator for souls with unfinished business, also known as a Seer.

The dynamic supernatural duo is in the middle of trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one. After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost.

When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?

Excited yet? You can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 already.

The next chapter will be posted sometime soon as well as the reveal of the book cover. I’m also going to run a giveaway on Goodreads starting June 22, 2014, if everything goes according to schedule. We’re also going to do another virtual book launch since the first one went pretty well, so I hope you’ll join me for that as well.

Keep your eyes peeled for more!


Join our Mailing List!

You don’t want to make him angry. He’ll make you watch The Last Stand. It’s a fate worse than death, trust me.

So the first 10 people to sign up for our all new mailing list will get a free eBook copy of The Black Parade. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? You should totally do that right now. You don’t want to disappoint Ahnuld, do you? Go here  to be put on the mailing list and redeem your free copy. It’s also going to be your ticket to extra content not found on Twitter or Facebook. I promise to make it worth your while. *bats eyelashes*

In other news, there’s still two days left in The Black Parade’s GoodReads giveaway. I’m absolutely thrilled to see that 189 people have requested to win. That’s fantastic. I think I’m going to make this a regular thing since acquiring copies aren’t super-expensive thanks to CreateSpace and it seems to have engaged a good amount of people. The nicer part is that it’s boosted the book’s numbers on the To Read shelf, and so I hope that those people will someday take the plunge to read my novel whether they win the giveaway or not.

Additionally, we’re closing in on the months between now and when She Who Fights Monsters, the stunning sequel to The Black Parade, will be out on your virtual bookshelves. In case you missed it, there are two excerpts already posted and there’s more to come.

Stay tuned, my darlings!

And put that cookie down. NOW.

An Excerpt from She Who Fights Monsters


You wonderful folks got this post to 10 likes, so here’s your reward! An excerpt from Chapter 1 of the sequel to The Black Parade, She Who Fights Monsters.



“I have to go to work.”


“The bus leaves in fifteen minutes.”


“…I can’t leave if you don’t stop kissing me,” I said in a mildly amused voice from around the lips of my husband who had managed to trap me against the kitchen counter. He towered over my humble 5’6’’ with his 6’1’’ frame, his long sinewy arms content to rest on either side of the counter by my waist so that I couldn’t wriggle away. It was both a nuisance and yet somehow pleasant. A conundrum, if you will.

I thought my words finally got through to him when he pulled away for a moment, but his head dipped down and his lips found the edge of my jaw, my neck, making my poor knees wobble. I could feel the roughness of the stubble that had grown on his chin since he hadn’t shaved yet and the soft tickle of his dark brown hair against my collarbone, sending involuntary shudders down my spine. Normally, when he cooked breakfast he pulled his hair back into a ponytail but I suspected he’d taken it down with the intent of seducing me. Crafty bastard.

“I’m not stopping you,” Michael drawled against my throat. His baritone voice made the hairs on my arms stand up with attention. There was maybe a centimeter of space between our upper bodies. He’d done it on purpose to tease me. He bit down softly at the point between my neck and shoulder and I jumped, my fingers gripping the counter for strength.

“You’re blocking my exit,” I said.

He finally rose to full height, smirking at me with those full lips, arrogance beaming down from his sea green eyes.

“And you’re stalling.”

He stared at me. I stared at him. I sighed and grabbed two handfuls of his shirt, jerking him down to my mouth.

“I’m gonna get fired.”

Half an hour later, my best friend Lauren Yi was shaking her head when I scampered into the restaurant and clocked in as quickly as possible. Mercifully, Colton was nowhere to be found, but he’d still know I was forty minutes late anyhow since he was the owner. I’d be in for it later and I knew it. The restaurant had been hit with the usual lunch rush so I had to get ready as soon as humanly possible.

“This is the third time in a week you’ve been late,” she reminded me as I walked towards the lockers in the break room to put my apron on. I popped mine open and checked my reflection in the mirror, piling my mussed black hair into a loose bun.

“I know, sorry. The bus was late.”

Lauren rolled her eyes. “Are you really pulling that one on me?”

I glanced at her, keeping my face blank and innocent. “What?”

“Your skirt’s on backwards and you’ve got pancake mix on your sleeve.” She arched an eyebrow and then crossed her arms.

“He caught you in the kitchen again, didn’t he?”

A flush of heat rushed up my neck and over my cheeks, thankfully hidden by my brown skin. I tied my apron on and cleared my throat, keeping my voice level and guilt-free. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The Korean girl lifted the apron and turned my skirt the right way, brushing off the remainder of said pancake mix. “It’s a sad day when Jordan Amador has more of a life than I do.”

“Should I be flattered or insulted by that?”

“Both. Now get out there and wait tables, you shameless harlot.”

I batted my eyelashes at her. “Love you too.”

She stuck her tongue out at me as we walked back onto the floor and started greeting customers and taking orders. It never ceased to amaze me how quickly I could switch into Waitress Mode. Without thinking, I became amiable, even a little charming on my better days—a direct contrast to my actual personality. Lauren had once dubbed me as a “cranky, antisocial hermit crab” and it disturbed me how accurate that description had been at the time. Michael had done a remarkable job of reversing the worst parts of my behavior over the past year.

After I took care of a couple of teenagers and a large group of people who had just gotten out of church, I greeted a redhead in a forest green suit and black tie sitting by himself at a window booth.

“Hi, what can I get you?”

His brown eyes scanned the menu, his voice a little shy. “What would you suggest?”

I lowered my pen and pad. “Well, what kind of things do you like?”

He shrugged. “No preference, really.”

“I recommend the fish and grits. The fish is fried whiting and the grits are cheesy and thick, just like down South.”


“Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, etc. I’ve never been that far down, but my boss insists it’s much better than up here,” I continued with a playful roll of my eyes.

The redhead folded up his menu and handed it to me, smiling. “That sounds good. Thank you, Jordan.”

I scribbled down his order and smiled back. “No problem.”

I gave the slip to the kitchen and grabbed some cleaning supplies to clear off a table in my section. Lauren came to help, taking the salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, and napkins off of the table before I wiped it down.

“Who’s the redhead?” she asked.

“No idea. Never seen him before.”

“He’s not part of the usual Sunday crowd. He seems…very out-of-town-ish, especially with that suit. By the looks of things, it costs more than half of my closet.”

I flashed her a grin. “Well, you do have a bad habit of buying knock off Gucci.”

She scowled. “Those who shop at thrift shops shall not throw stones.”

“It’s economical, dammit!”

She rolled her eyes at me, handing me the spray bottle of Clorox.

“You’re married to the lead singer of a rock band. You should be able to afford decent clothing by now.”

I pursed my lips, squirting the liquid on the table. “We have better uses for the money than clothing, thank you very much.”


I whirled, aiming the spray bottle at her face. “I’ll do it and say it was an accident.”

She giggled, pushing my arm down. “Relax, Dirty Harry. Or would that be Clean Harry since you’ve got Clorox?”

“Ha-ha. A comedic genius you are not.” I finished cleaning off the table and replaced the condiments and napkin container. One of our chefs called me since an order was ready and I brought them to the customers. I took the fish and grits to the redheaded gentleman, who was staring out the window as if distracted.

“Here you go. Enjoy!”

“Thank you.”

The lunch rush came and went like the tide—seeming overwhelming at first, but manageable to the trained eye. I didn’t notice anything out of order until midway through my shift when I returned to the seat that the redhead had been in to find I had a rather substantial tip waiting for me.

“He left you a hundred dollars?!” Lauren screeched from behind me, grabbing my shoulder to look as I held the bill between my hands with my mouth open and getting dustier by the minute.

“I…he…maybe he didn’t have change?” I sputtered, searching the sidewalk outside the restaurant to see if he was out there but he had disappeared.

My best friend threw up her hands. “I don’t get it. You come in late and yet you’re the one standing there with a fresh hundred bucks. Do you have a leprechaun stuck to the bottom of your shoe or something?”

Sheepishly, I glanced underneath my foot. “…no?”

“Ugh, I’d hate you if I didn’t love you so much,” Lauren sighed, scooping up the empty plate the mysterious redhead left behind. I tucked the tip in the front of my apron, staring blankly out of the window. I started to hand her a glass only to drop it as something caught my eye across the street.

A plump woman in her early forties stared back at me. Her hair was black and curly around her round face, and her brown eyes were full of worry. I knew her—not from Albany, but from the pages of a manila folder I had poured over rigorously for the past month. Erica Davalos.

A murdered Seer.

“Jordan, what’s wrong?” Lauren asked, flustered at the shocked expression on my face.

I hid my distress, stepping over the bits of broken glass. “Nothing, sorry. Just a bit clumsy today. I’ll go get the broom.”

I hurried to the break room and grabbed a broom, but I didn’t head back out there. Instead, I snuck out the rear entrance that led into an alleyway and stuck my head around the corner, signaling for the ghost to come towards me.

“Hi,” the ghost woman said when she was within earshot, her voice light and apprehensive. “My name is Erica.”

“Yeah, I know.”

She frowned, tilting her head. “Excuse me?”

“My name is Jordan Amador. I’m a Seer.”

“A Seer?”

“Yes. It’s someone who can see and hear ghosts, angels, and demons. Long story short, they’re the descendants of the original twelve disciples. I’ve been trying to solve your murder for the past month and a half.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh my goodness, I had no idea. I’ve just been wandering around for the longest time looking for someone to help me.”

I offered her a small smile. “Well, you’ve come to the right girl. I get off work in a few hours so I want you to stay in this area and meet me out front at six o’clock, okay? We’ll get everything sorted out, I promise.”

“Yes. Thank you so much.”

Did you enjoy that? Here’s Chapter 2 for your reading pleasure. Keep your eyes glued to the Facebook page for more. She Who Fights Monsters is slated for release summer of this year. I can’t wait for you to read the rest. Stay tuned, darlings!

And don’t forget that you can win a free copy of The Black Parade via Good Reads from now until Jan. 31st. Spread the word!


On Endings


So I finished the final installment to The Black Parade series a few days ago.

Hoo boy.

Prior to the third book, whose working title is The Holy Dark if you must know, I’ve written and finished three books–two novels and a novella. However, I’ve never written a series before and the first thing I have to say is, God bless the crazy sons of bitches who write long running series. I mean, seriously, The Black Parade series is just a trilogy, and I had the HARDEST time keeping everything in line. I think as authors we tend to take certain things for granted when we write. For instance, I didn’t realize just how long The Holy Dark was until I went through and began formatting it and doing the superficial edit.

The Holy Dark’s first draft is 168,197 words. Let’s do a comparison, shall we?

The Hobbit: 95,022 words

The Fellowship of the Ring: 177,227 words

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: 190,637 words

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: 198,227 words

Are you beginning to see my plight here? I’m nowhere near as good as the above authors, but my word count is approaching their glorious numbers and it’s slightly terrifying. However, when I researched word counts of famous novel series, I did notice a trend. They do increase in word count the longer on they continue, and I think it has a lot to do with the process of writing towards the end of a series.

As I wrote The Holy Dark, there were all kinds of things that I had to keep in mind to tie up by the conclusion of the novel. Jordan and Michael’s stories span three books, and several storylines intersect with each other. We also meet new characters in the second and third novels who also have their own lives and stories and backstories. It’s like balancing spinning plates after a certain point. The reason why The Holy Dark took me so long to write (I started it in May 2013 and finished it just after New Years) is because I didn’t fully understand what it takes to end a series. There’s so much material to cover. There are your individual character arcs, the romantic character growth between Jordan/Michael and Jordan/Belial, the series long arc of the battle between the Seers and the demons, the ramifications of what happened in the previous novels, and then the actual plot of the current novel. Does your head hurt yet? Mine certainly does.

Endings, to me, are usually a little easier than beginnings. The original beginning to The Black Parade was Jordan reliving the night she killed Mr. N, but two separate critique groups talked me out of it because action-heavy beginnings with no context tend to work better in movies than in novels. Thus, we had our quiet but tense opening with Jordan waking up and starting her day as a Seer. However, the ending to The Black Parade was pretty much set in my head in general terms. I knew where her character would end up. Same deal for She Who Fights Monsters. The Holy Dark’s ending was a vague concept in my head, but how I got there was nothing short of a doozy. This is the first novel I’ve ever written where the beginning was a lot easier than the ending.

For instance, the first draft of THD is actually the second draft. The first time I wrote it, I got to 50,000 words in about two months. Then I stopped, read it, and panicked because the pacing was dreadful. The plot stopped and started and coughed and wheezed and begged to be put out of its misery. Thus, I had a long chat with my writing sensei and he helped figure out why the novel had such horrendous pacing issues. I had so many scenes that I wanted to write before the series ended that the flow of the novel felt unnatural and stilted. I took everything back to the drawing board, deleted big chunks, altered the narrative, and started up again. I did well for several months and then the end of the year hit. I had so many hours at my retail day job that I missed my 2013 deadline because so much of the story had piled up that I didn’t have time to type it all out. My fingers just weren’t fast enough.

What I’ve learned over the course of writing this first draft is that endings can be difficult because one worries about satisfaction. Is the end of the series satisfying? Where does everyone end up after their three book long journey? What have they learned? What have they gone through? How has it changed them? Is the conflict real and personal? Is it something readers will relate to and cherish? There are so many expectations that consciously and unconsciously crop up when you read the final novel in a series.

For example, I’m not a fan of Mockingjay because it felt overstuffed and convoluted. I liked The Hunger Games the best out of the novels because it was succinct and profound. It also had much less of the Peeta/Katniss/Gale love triangle, which I personally find to be pointless. Katniss is not the kind of girl who needs to be torn over two boys. It’s quite clear that she has romantic feelings for Peeta, not Gale, and I worry that Suzanne Collins dragged the love triangle out for the sake of drama, and not because it needed to be there. Now, granted, I’m sure I will get the same criticism in the future because I’ve got my own love triangle going in my series, but I’m just being honest. Either way, The Hunger Games is still one of the best contemporary novel series of all time. I bring it up because my expectations for where the story would end up was way different from how it actually did. I don’t think that authors should pander to their audiences and fret over what they would enjoy reading, but I do think it’s part of the writing experience anyway. It’s what I struggled with during the epilogue of THD because I had scenes that I wanted to write that I felt the readers would enjoy, but since they weren’t plot relevant, I felt the urge to leave them out. After all, nothing gets people crankier than a too-sweet happy ending. I tend to lean towards bittersweet endings because they are more realistic. It’s the same reason why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ epilogue is so controversial–a lot of it reads like lousy fanfiction. Being too saccharine in your ending can color the whole series. Hell, my mother and I discussed this last night with the movie Sweet November. We actually liked the movie itself…until the ending. The ending blew it. It just blew. It was a dumb, unsatisfying cop out. That ending ruined the entire experience and cost the people who made it a sale (I found the movie for cheap at a game store and thought about buying it, but then I remember that FUBAR ending and chose not to instead). It’s the same with novels. You can write something beautiful and emotionally crippling, but if you screw up the ending, it can poison your entire series.

Now compact everything I’ve said and shove it inside your ear. That’s how my brain feels right now. Endings are a pain in the ass. This is a shout out to every single author who has ended a novel series: you are incredible and I hope you know that with all your heart. My stories aren’t nearly as complex as something like George R. R. Martin or J.K. Rowling, and they somehow have endings. I will absorb these authors’ wisdom into my own body like an amoeba before I start the first round of editing.

The nice thing about being an author is that you can always change. You can move chapters around. You can delete them. You can expand. You can chase down new plot threads and character arcs and nail them into place. As a wise Autobot once said, freedom is the right of all sentient beings, and I think that is most true with writing. The Holy Dark kicked my skinny ass up and down the year 2013, but it taught me more than I think the first two novels combined. It’s scary to think I won’t be writing about Jordan, Michael, Gabriel, and Belial in the future, but these characters have been beyond fun to write over the past five years. I think that’s also why the ending was so difficult. I wanted to put them to rest with all the respect that I could because they’ve been keeping me company for so long. I suppose that’s sentimental (and borderline clinically insane), but hey, that’s how I roll.

Welcome to 2014, people. Big things are in our future. Stay tuned for more.