Monday, September 30, 2013

Series Review: Breaking Bad

Warning:  As you can probably tell, this contains spoilers about how the series ends so if you haven't watched the series finale yet, DON'T READ THIS!  If you have, read on.
Ok, so I know that I'm jumping on a very, VERY large bandwagon here as just about everyone who watches television is flipping their lid about the series finale last night, but I just have to weigh in.  This show was too good, too culturally huge and way too memorable for me to not feel compelled to share my opinion on it.  So here's my take.

Vince Gilligan created this series (according to Wikipedia) with the goal of creating a story around a primary protagonist who, by the end, will become the primary antagonist.  Let me just come right out and say it:  He did it.  Boy, oh boy, did he DO IT.

At the outset of the series Walter White is downright pathetic.  He's seriously underpaid, absurdly under appreciated, mistreated by his bitchy wife and teenage son and now, to top it off, he's got terminal cancer.  In other words, he's at the very end of his rope.  It is impossible not to feel bad for him and, by proxy, not to root for him.
At the end of the series Walt is downright evil.  And I mean EVIL.  (What he says to Jesse right before he has Todd and crew take him away?!? WOW!)  He's unequivocally DESTROYED the lives of literally everyone he's dealt with.  He's purposefully, knowingly crossed every line that one can cross.  He's wreaked such havoc on the world in general that his name is on par with Don Pablo in terms of infamy.

But here's the kicker: it's still impossible not to root for him!  He's killing people by the handful, hurting the few that are still left alive and generally acting like a tornado of destruction- but you still want him to win.  He's the bad guy, no doubt about it.  But much like Tony Soprano before him, he's the bad guy you're invested in.

Unlike Tony Soprano, and I cannot possibly tell you how relieved I am by this, his story has an end.  And it's a doozy.  But before I get to the recap, let me just sum this up by saying that Walt is one of the best written (and acted) characters on television- ever.  His character arc is so rich, so deep and has such an extreme turn around that you remember him forever.  A lot of people are saying it's the greatest character arc executed on television and, as lofty of a claim as that is, I think they're right.

Ok, onto the plot: each season of this show has a theme and they play around with images, literary references and musical themes frequently.  The first season is best known for the busted-up RV that Walt and Jesse start their floundering business relationship in.  Much like Walt, it's been through the ringer.  It barely runs, threatens to permanently crap out at any moment and has a messy, very sad sack appearance.
But, also like White, the RV's connotation is a family-friendly one evoking memories of family vacations, funny family photos and positive memories.  In the first season Walt is a good guy trying to secure his family's future.  Even when he commits his first murder, he's doing it because he believes (with good reason) that the man will kill his entire family if he does not.  His motives are good and in a lot of ways you can kind-of understand his choices.  When he does violate his moral compass he agonizes over it and feels immense guilt for his actions.  He's no angel, certainly, but you can argue the merit of his actions.

Season Two is all about the Pink Teddy bear which we learn the source of at the end of the season. 
What the exact symbolism of the teddy bear means is debated but there are overall themes of destruction, guilt and loss of innocence.  Walt is starting to come into his own as a drug manufacturer- he's taking more risks, demanding more, pushing Jesse and others around more and making a lot of morally questionable if not seriously wrong choices.  The story that he's doing it for his family gets weaker and weaker and Walt goes deeper and deeper into the world of illegal activities and although there are moments were he seems to notice and question his decline he continues his descent at every turn.

Season Three is best represented by the Heisenberg hat, Walt's costume for when he's trying to be bad ass. 
In season three, Walt starts to take more and more negative actions in order to be in control.  He's running a professional industrial-level meth lab, making business deals with drug king-pins (mainly Gus) and declaring himself as head of the household much to the dismay of his wife who starts out the season seeking a divorce from him.  He manipulates, lies far more often then he tells the truth, plots and plans with moral abandon and his kill count starts to seriously rack up.  While he's still telling the story that what he's doing is ultimately for his family, no one other than him is buying it anymore.
There's also a sense that Walt sees that his timeline is screwed up. There is one episode where he talks about the perfect moment- the moment when he should have died.  Before his moral compass was too far gone, before his family started to hate him, before he became more criminal than desperate provider.  There's a sense of loss of the good Walt and a feeling like it's too late to go back and his actions reflect this.

Season four is all about Walt's war with Gus (who, by the way, is one of the best television characters EVER!).  I think the most memorable image, to everyone who watched it, is what ends up happening to Gus. 
This is symbolic of Gus' split personality- the dark and light, the good and the bad.  It's a parallel drawn between Walt and the two sides of his personality.  Like Gus, by the end of the season his facade as a good guy is completely blown away and what is left is ugly, shocking, and horrifying.  Walt deliberately pursues negative action after negative action in pursuit of control over the drug empire.  Again, he sells it all to himself by saying that if he doesn't kill Gus, Gus'll kill his family- but his true motives are obvious and he makes fewer and fewer efforts to hide them.  Ultimately hurting even a small child to get his way the good guy mask is off and we see his true face.

And season Five is all about the repercussions of Walt's actions.  In the season opener we see Walt looking like something you might've pulled off the bottom of your shoe, sitting alone in a diner on his birthday.  It's one of the most depressing images ever and for a second- a split second- you feel bad for him.
The rest of the season- almost from the start- is about making it impossible for you to feel bad for him.  At the outset, we see the unimaginable shit storm caused by the death of Gus- a man with connections not easily eradicated in a fire.  Walt makes quick work of trying to clean up the evidence and no one is safe from his wrath.  He shows no more remorse for the murders he performs or orders and seems completely oblivious to the fact that his actions make him a monster.  As the season goes on, the lives of the characters around him are ruined one by one- either by murder, torture, or legal action.  The relationship most demonstrative of the destruction he causes and by far the deepest, most complex and ultimately most touching relationships of the show is the one he shares with Jesse.  At the end of the series he is a shell of a man-  emptied and filled by Walt's actions.  (I could write a master's thesis on this and still have more to say.  Just- ugh!)  Absolutely no one is safe and it's not surprising that the list of people left standing at the end of this show is a very short one.

Of course the death that we're most concerned about is Walt's- because after all, that's how this all started.  But rather than seeing him die of cancer in a hospital bed surrounded by the family that he started this all for we see him alone in a meth lab of his design dying of a semi-self inflicted gun shot wound.  His family hates him, the police hunt him and his business associates are all dead, dying or traumatized for life.  And yet, there is a sense of peace in this lonely old man.  He has, in spite of everything he's destroyed, accomplished something.  And though he ended up ruining the lives of everyone he ever cared about in the process he looks upon his works in pride.  It's one of the most haunting juxtapositions I've seen and with a truly amazing series leading up to it's nothing short of miraculous.
I know that the internet is exploding with people far more eloquent and well-versed in the details of television production saying that this amounted to one of the greatest shows of all time and while I get absolutely no points for originality in this, I have to agree with them.  Seriously, if you've somehow missed this do yourself a favor and commit to watching this series. 

The Giant End of September EVERYTHING Post


So anyone who follows this blog regularly will notice that I took last week off.  I hadn't planned to, originally, but apparently for me vacation means no blogging.  I apologize if you were disappointed in the lack of Friday Flash or Celebration of the Small Things but I think I just needed the rest.  At some point I do hope to blog about some of the activities we did and share some pictures but for now I have a lot of things coming up that I hope you will all enjoy.

First up:  Tomorrow I will be featuring Julie Flander's amazing new cover for the Ghosts of Aqinnah.  It's gonna be awesome!  (And if you're absolutely DYING to see it and can't wait until tomorrow then just head over to Julie's site now.)

Then comes IWSG:  The big news there is that I'm co-hosting this month!  To say I'm excited would be an understatement of mass proportions!

Also on Wednesday:  The cover reveal for Crystal Collier's new book, Moonless!  Super excited to see that!

On Thursday I will post a new Friday Flash story.  Not sure what, yet- but it'll be new.

And on Friday I will return to the regularly scheduled Celebration posts.  Expect some talk about the activities I will doing in preparation for Halloween (and maybe some pictures of the decorations that will be in place by then).

Also, Yolanda Renee and I have something in the works to help celebrate our favorite holiday, so keep your eyes peeled for an announcement about that soon...

All-in-all, big things are coming.  So stay tuned!

Friday, September 20, 2013

September Write... Edit... Publish: Moving On

Pssst... Yeah, you- celebratory people.  If you're here to celebrate the small things, scroll down.  Otherwise, read on.

My next entry for Write... Edit... Publish (formerly RFW) is a piece I originally wrote for Friday Flash back in May, but it fit the theme so well I had to re-post it.  As always I'm happy for any and all comments including in-depth constructive criticism or just regular old "Hi!  I read this!" comments.  And thanks to Denise Covey for organizing this- you rock!

The Beach House
(919 words)

With the last shoebox tucked securely under her arm, she mounted the stair case to make her final sweep.  She knew every creek the stairs would make in protest before her foot ever touched down and felt her muscles involuntarily tense before each groan.  The house had been talking to her all day and although she listened, it was wearing her down.

The empty rooms seemed large without the tell tale marks of their lives there.  The walls wiped clean of scuff marks from midnight races through the hallway.  She let her fingers slide along the chair rail and find the familiar divots made through years of bumps and tumbles.  Her body responded to the touch as if each one were a blow.  Or an embrace.  It seemed that every part of her was in an equal state of confusion about how to feel.

She wanted to check the master bedroom again but her breath caught in her chest and she faltered, nearly stumbling against the wall, but then caught herself lest she make another dent in the fresh paint.   She looked down at the sunlight on the hardwood floor and remembered sitting outside that doorway, her finger nails following the cracks in the floorboards while she listened to him snore on the other side of the door.  It was enough to make her conclude the upstairs was as ready as it was going to be.

She let herself lean on the handrail going down.  She felt weak and almost wondered if she were falling ill with something.  Stress could do that to you, she reminded herself, her brain grasping onto the logic with an unsteady grip.  But there was nothing but emotion here and she could feel herself reaching the limits of self control.  “Almost done” she whispered to herself.

Downstairs, she heard the wind beating against the large bay window and waited for the familiar sounds of her daughter’s wind chimes.  It had taken Sarah three summers to collect the sand dollars she would use to make it.  Every time there was a storm she’d taken them down, wrapped them in tissue paper and hid them in the chest in the living room.  Afterwards, she’d told her that elves had stolen her beautiful creation, and then brought them back after using the instrument to compose a curing song for an ailing elder.  Even after she was no longer a little girl, they’d re-tell the story whenever another storm came.  Another chapter that bound them together in a shared legacy.

She scanned the room and felt small standing alone in the large, open space.  The big, overstuffed couch had left a permanent groove in the floor and it creaked under her foot as she shifted her weight.  She took it all in- the sunlight on the walls, the shadows in the corners, the sound of the room as the ocean waves crashed outside.  Empty as it was it still spoke to her, telling her how many pictures had hung on the walls, how many pillow fights had taken place on the couch, how many dance parties they’d had when it was storming outside and the rain beat the rhythm on the windows.   Every memory was still there, still holding her in this space she had to leave.  She took a breath and vacillated between overwhelming devastation and life-giving gratitude.

Then she exhaled and closed her eyes.  “You take the memories with you,” she said to herself.  She repeated it over and over again like a monk trying to reach nirvana.  “You take the memories with you.”

“Mom?  You ready?” Sarah’s voice echoing through the empty corridor broke her trance and she startled.  She quickly wiped away the tears that had snuck through her closed eyelids and tried to look like a reasonable woman, which she knew she wasn’t.

“Mo-?  Oh, ok, you ready?” Sarah asked her, turning into the room and smiling at her with her father’s eyes.
She looked at her daughter and saw him.  His eyes, his high cheekbones, his chin dimple.  She had her ears and her delicate hands but so much of her was her father; including the stern disposition which had caused so much conflict when he was still alive.  But she wasn’t her father, she was kinder and softer than him.  ‘The best of both of us’ he used to say.  He was right.

Sarah walked over to her and put an arm around her.  “You ok?” she asked as she gave her a kiss on the temple.  She held herself firm though she wanted to sink into the support, let her daughter carry her out and away from all these years.  But she’d made it this far, she could make it the last few steps.

“Mmm- hmm,” she said, and took a step forward.

“Mom,” Sarah said, holding her back and turning her to face her.  She looked straight into her eyes and said “I’m gonna miss it, too.”

She smiled at her and agreed with her late husband’s sentiments- she really was the best of both of them.  Soft enough to allow for her emotions, but hard enough to move on.  For the first of many times in her life yet to come she wished that she would be more like her daughter in her old age.  It reminded her of what she still had left to look forward to.

She gave her a kiss on the check in gratitude and then led the way out of the empty house.

Celebrate the Small Things

It's Friday!  Which means it's time, once again, to Celebrate the Small Things with our host Viklit.

This week I'm celebrating:

Awesome Authors  On Monday I featured two amazing authors as part of Writers 4 writers and announced Yolanda's book giveaway winner.  On Tuesday I featured Alex Cavanaugh for the release of the final book in his best selling trilogy (release week is still going on today, BTW.  If you haven't commented on Alex's blog yet go there and comment for a chance to win CassaStorm swag!)  And on Wednesday I posted the review of Elizabeth Gilbert's first collection of short stories, Pilgrims, which I absolutely loved.  It's been an awesome week!

Cooler Weather  It's been dropping down into the fifties most nights and I've actually needed my jacket!  Granted, it climbs back up into the high seventies during the day- but still.  The crisp air holds the promise of fall and I'm scenting it like a hound.  My favorite season approaches...

At long, long last: Vacation  Today is my last day of work until the following Monday (the 30th).  That's 9 full days away from work!  And no, unfortunately, I won't be relaxing the entire time- I'm helping to do team tournament stuff on Saturday and Sunday is reserved for seriously unpleasant but very necessary household chores.  But after that I'm free for an entire week!  It's the first week off of work I've had in over a year and I so, SO need it!  I will be blogging about all the fun activities we do next week, so if you're interested stop by.

And now it is time for you lovely folks to hop along!  Happy Friday!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: Pilgrims

Anyone who’s followed this site for any length of time knows that I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert.  I flat-out fell in love with her when I read Eat, Pray, Love and that love was solidified when I read Committed.  (Click on the titles to read my reviews, both of which contain a great deal of me in rabid fan girl mode.)

It’s a strange experience, and one I haven’t had before: to come to know an author, love them and then learn that there’s an entirely different side to them that you never knew existed.  That’s what happened to me when I read Pilgrims, Gilbert’s collection of short stories and my first exposure to her fiction.

I know that memoir and fiction are two very different animals.  The voice that comes through in the writing should be different, because it serves different purposes.  In memoir writing, it’s deeply personal.  So all of your traits, your quirks, the things that make you you should come through in your writing.  (And Gilbert’s voice is as loud and clear as a bell.)  But fiction is different.  Your voice has to play stage crew so that your character’s voice can take center stage.  In fact, if you do your job well, your voice will be very hard to hear because your characters are so real.

Perhaps that’s why I found myself frequently forgetting that I was reading one of my favorite authors when I read this book- I hardly heard her voice at all.  There are qualities, certainly.  A certain compassion for the human condition, no matter what state it’s in.  A certain understanding of the deeply complex ways that lives intersect with each other.  A certain appreciation for the many different forms that love can take.  A lack of judgment when looking at all these things.  All of these can be found in both her memoirs and this collection.

But the voice- that feeling of having a really great conversation with an old friend in a coffee shop that made me fall head over heels for her in her memoirs- that’s not in this book.  These characters are entirely too different from Gilbert and vibrant in their own right.  They are entirely too real for you to think about the author.

Which is why I feel as though I’ve fallen in love with Gilbert anew- because this is such a distinctly different experience for me as a reader.  Few of the hallmarks that made me love her as a memoir author are there, so I got to start from scratch in falling in love with her as a fiction writer.  It seems almost odd to delineate and critique the nuances given my strong emotion towards it.  But then again, I am a writer, and this is how we learn.

Firstly, this may be the most realistic dialogue I’ve ever read in my life.  Seriously.  Not once- not one single time- while reading these stories did I feel like I was reading dialogue.  I felt like I was reading actual transposed conversations.  I have heard these voices before: the turn of phrase characteristic to a certain part of the country, the abrupt way that more aggressive types can cut you off which is jarring at first but you come to appreciate if you know them, the way that the more quiet individuals give you the bare amount of information and leave it to you to fill in the rest, the quirks of conversation that people fall into.  Every single one of these voices sounds real- like you eavesdropped on the conversation going on in the next booth at the diner or walked by an open window where people were talking loudly.  It’s staggering to realize that all these voices came from the same person and it reminds me of how very, very far I have to go in writing my own dialogue.

Secondly, the physical descriptions are striking.  I have a distinct memory of Gilbert’s description of someone’s collar and neck from Eat, Pray, Love in which she described it as a giant flower pot containing a tiny stem supporting a large, heavy flower.  Something about it stuck with me.  Well, this book is absolutely full of those distinctions.  Each image is composed of the other images that make it familiar- beards worn by prophets or the homeless, body parts that evoke the same response as baked goods in a bakery window, facial features that would appear on a sculpture before it was finished by the artist.  They’re as distinct as the voices and they encompass all the senses- sight, sound, scent, touch.  They serve as the undercoat of fur that makes the dialogue so luxurious to feel.

Thirdly, her ability to capture a distinct moment in time is truly amazing.  The large majority of these stores are moments.  A particular evening, one afternoon, a late night adventure- a pause.  They don’t recount pivotal moments and very frequently nothing all that major occurs during them.  But they give you a crystal clear view of a particular moment in the characters’ lives- their thoughts, feelings, desires, struggles, observations.   They’re distinct capsules of time with some reference to the timeline before (and sometimes after)- but they’re rarely life-changing.  It’s worth note, I think, because I don’t think I’ve read stories that display a distinct beginning, middle and end with tension and resolution so subtly.  A lot of authors hit you in the face with those elements while these stories leave you feeling… wistful.

The closest style of writing I have to compare it to is Amy Bloom.  I was often underwhelmed at the close of her stories but then found myself thinking about them in the spare moments of life, recalling the subtle details and phrases that I didn’t realize had stuck so thoroughly in my mind.  Gilbert has the same effect- you come to the close of a story feeling like there wasn’t really an end and then find yourself going over the details in your mind and tripping over subtleties you didn’t notice when you read through it.  The characters leave you ruminating, digesting for some time to come.

All-in-all, I am deeply impressed with this volume.  More so because it’s her first published book.  To come out of the gate with that much ability is hard to imagine and without falling into too much hero worship I will repeat that I have fallen in love with her all over again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's the CassaStorm Release Party!

That's right, folks!  Ninja captain Alex's final book in the trilogy comes out today!  Comment on Alex’s blog this week for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag!

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.”
- Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…”
- Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:

Amazon -

*And don't forget: CassaStorm is the final book in the trilogy.  If you haven't checked out CassaStar and CassaFire already you can find them here!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


Book Trailer - http//

And, although this isn't a book-release related comment, I have to take a second to say how incredibly grateful I am to Alex for being the amazing Ninja Captain that he is.  There isn't a single one of us who haven't been touched by his amazing support and I cannot image how he is able to be so present in every realm of the internet while publishing this best selling series.  He really must have an army of clones.

He deserves all the success in the world and I hope that this final book in the trilogy secures his seat in the hall of great authors.  Congrats, Alex!

Monday, September 16, 2013

September Writers 4 Writers AND Announcing the Murder, Madness & Love Ebook Giveaway Winner!

It's time for another edition of Writers 4 Writers where we help spread the word about fantastic authors and their published works.  Please make sure you take a moment to thank our hosts Stephen Tremp, M. Pax, Christine Rains, and C.M. Brown!  This month we're featuring Helen Ginger and Cherie Reich!

First up is Helen Ginger, author of Angel Sometimes.
Just before her thirteenth birthday, Angel Sometimes' aunt took her 800 miles from her home in Oklahoma, gave her $50 and left Angel on South Padre Island, Texas. Four years later, Angel hitchhiked to Austin and got a job swimming as a mermaid in a bar in the music district. At twenty-two, she has friends and a place to live. When a homeless girl is beaten and a waitress killed, Angel realizes she will never be whole until she confronts her parents. To do that, she needs three things: her high school diploma, a car and a gun. She has a car. She's finished her final test for her GED. The only thing she needs is the gun and she knows where to get one.

You can tweet or facebook-post about it today by using any of the pre-written tweets or posts from Helen posted right here.

Helen Ginger was born in Georgia, but at age ten, her mother moved the family to Texas. Helen's been there ever since, laying down roots and picking up stories. As far back as Helen can remember, she's always written: angst-filled stories in high school; short stories and poetry in college; mysteries, mainstream fiction, even technical books, three of which have been published by TSTC Publishing. Her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its thirteenth year of publication. She's also an Owner/ Partner and WebMistress for Legends In Our Own Minds®. Helen lives in a small town just outside of Austin, Texas. From her office window, she sees birds, deer, squirrels, road runners, foxes, cats, and rabbits.
'Course, what she gets asked about most often are her three years as a mermaid at Aquarena Springs. Swimming with a shimmery tail, picnicking underwater, performing synchronized ballet, blowing air bubbles ... all year round, even in the winter.
Doing It Write:

And next up is Cherie Reich, author of The Nightmare Collection and other tales!

 A legend is hungry tonight.

A child monster gets its first taste of blood in Nightmare at the Freak Show. Four friend enter the forest one December night, but can they survive each other and the monster that hunts them in Once Upon a December Nightmare? Almost ten years later, the monster awakens to feed again in Nightmare Ever After.

You can tweet or facebook-post about it today by using any of the pre-written tweets or posts from Cherie posted right here.

About the Author: A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her ebooks include the horror series Nightmare, a space fantasy trilogy titled Gravity, and a fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms.
Her debut YA Epic Fantasy novel Reborn, book one in The Fate Challenges, will be released on May 23, 2014.
And don't forget to check Cherie's Amazon author page here and browse the MANY other titles available from this wonderful author!

CHRISTINE RAINS!  That's right!  Through the terribly complicated process of me pulling names out of a box one of our very own hosts won!  Congrats to Christine on winning the giveaway and an extra congrats to her on the upcoming release of The Thirteenth Floor Complete Collection!  (Did you all catch the cover relase on Friday?  It looks so cool!  If, by any chance, you missed it then go here!)

If you missed Yolanda's guest post or the info the giveaway you can find it here.  Huge thanks to her for including me in her blog tour- it was a blast!

And now, I'm off to tweet about these super authors and stop by our hosts to say thanks!