Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Sky Ghosts series by Alexandra Engellmann (Blog tour and giveaway)

Fill this simple Google form to sign up for the giveaway. Five winners will receive the first two books of the Sky Ghosts series in any ebook format and have a chance to read the rest of the series for free. Giveaway ends on December 1st.

Title: Sky Ghosts / Author: Alexandra Engellmann / Genre: Urban fantasy / Action / Romance

Sky Ghosts: All for One (Sky Ghosts #1)

Jane and Pain are Sky Ghosts – and they kill for a living. Highly trained bodyguards by day, they patrol the New York streets at night to keep the city safe from their enemies, Sky Beasts. One night they save two young men from their enemies’ blades and find themselves in the middle of a war. As they put their lives at stake to save their wards, the main mystery remains unsolved: why would the Beasts hunt two ordinary human boys?

Spellbinding and violent, Alexandra Engellmann’s Sky Ghosts series is exactly what Urban fantasy fans are looking for – a blend of action, humor, mystery, and a unique magic system.

“Sky Ghosts is a great mixture of sword-fighting, humor, wit, sexual tension, and “imperfect romance” that brilliantly lets the readers feel like the characters, while supernatural, are fairly ordinary people underneath it all.” – Joe Jackson, author of the Eve of Redemption series

Sky Ghosts: Marco (Sky Ghosts #1.5)

It was hate at first sight. She broke chairs on his head, and in return he broke her bones. 

When Marco joined the New York Sky Ghosts Headquarters, he expected trouble. What he didn’t expect was a girl half his size that would turn his life into hell. They spilled too much of each other’s blood for any hope for reconciliation. How did it happen that they ended up spilling blood for each other on a daily basis?

“I laughed a lot while reading Marco. The silly teenage nature of him and Pain combined with their stubborn natures and violent streaks made for some suitably hilarious and cringe worthy scenes.” – Belart Wright, author of the Average Joe series

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A few questions for indie author Alexandra Engellmann aka that author in the red dress.

If you don’t know (and you don’t) I’m Belart Wright, indie author extraordinaire of the glorious book Average Joe and the Extraordinaires.  Today I’m going to ask a good friend of mine: Alexandra Engellmann, indie author...Sky Ghost-inaire..?  Sorry, I tried to use her book title in her intro, but it doesn’t have the same ring as extraordinaire.  Unwarranted egotism from me aside, she’s one of my favorite people on the planet and super interesting besides all that and this interview will show a side of her that you all aren’t even ready for.  Let’s begin.

BW: First and foremost, who the hell are you?  The people deserve to know.  First describe yourself in five words, then elaborate on that.  Don’t lie, the internet knows!

AE: Okay, here are the first five words that come to my mind. I am a:

The first means that whatever the world out there holds, I’d prefer spending my time reading whatever gem I’ve just discovered. 

The word ‘artist’ describes much more than just an occupation. I see the world as a piece of art, and I live to find beauty in little things around me.
I prefer ‘storyteller’ over ‘writer’, because the last is too big of a word. You can write about anything, but what I do is share stories about my characters, many of which come to life on their own by some weird glitch in my brain that prefers to be thinking about imaginary things rather than real.
I like to think a LOT about everything that happens to me. I think my writing is a way to avoid thinking too much and keep myself distracted from obsessing.
And lastly, nerding out is my profession, and I love it.

BW: Okay with that out of the way, I feel as if we all know you a little better, but still we can always dig a little deeper.  I’ve heard it said that all writers are narcissists.  We’re conceited enough to think we have something important to say that the world should hear.  Why should the world hear your voice?  What have you always wanted to share?

AE: I don’t think it’s my voice they should hear, but the characters’ voices. I think it’s more about giving a life to someone who’s persistently asking for it in your head, about giving them a chance to show who they are and who they can be. And on the other side, it’s about entertaining people with all kinds of emotions they can find in your book. So, I guess it’s emotions that I’m sharing with the world.

BW: Okay, I went a little deep with that last question so let’s lighten it up a little bit...with more psychological questions.  So Pain and Marco, my two favorite characters in the Sky Ghosts series, have a very interesting relationship.  It’s a friendship that goes beyond normal boundaries.  There’s a lot of unspoken feelings that get communicated through physical means rather than verbally.  In my opinion, that’s the best kind of relationship.  Why was this the method you chose for their relationship?  What type of relationship communication do you prefer?

AE: I don’t think there are any boundaries for friendship, and I’m one of those people who believe and respect friendship way more than love that’s often too complicated because of selfish emotions we people bring into it. The friendship between Pain and Marco is the only type I’ve ever had and will always prefer. I’m very open to whoever I meet and can easily share personal things with any stranger if I feel like it, or if the conversation is interesting. I hate formalities and limitations, and it’s often hard to stop myself from saying what’s on my mind. It entertains me how shocked people are sometimes by it, especially those who aren’t used to laughing at themselves. I’ve never really chosen anything for my characters, including their relationships, so that was how it naturally unfolded in my mind.

BW: Continuing from that last question: what type of sick person imagines a relationship like Pain and Marco’s?  They’re animals!

AE: Me, the animal :) Considering their lifestyle, it’s impossible for them not to bring a little extra blood into it.

BW: Last question...for now.  So your action scenes in Sky Ghosts: All For One and Sky Ghosts: Marco had a grounded reality to them even though they involved superhuman combatants.  I attributed this to your descriptive style and attention to detail.  The action was always bloody and intense so that clues me in that you may have an inner warrior in you.  So I’d like to know what are your top 3 fighting disciplines worldwide?  And what existing fighting styles match your favorite 3 fighters that we’ve met in Sky Ghosts?  If none exists, make ‘em up.

AE: That would be boxing for Marco, because he’s one of those who can kill with a single blow.
Krav Maga for the sisters, because they have to finish the fight quickly without giving the opponent the chance to get hold of them, and also because they’d go for the vulnerable points.
The third one would be Taekwondo, and that’s certainly Ryan’s style because of its emphasis on kicks, which someone as tall as him would make really powerful.

Well that's it for now folks.  Hope it was as fun for you as it was for me.  If you have more questions for Alexandra please go visit her at her website: or her twitter: or really anywhere you find her on these world wide interwebz.  She's good at responding.  You can find my own interview on her blog too.

Also check out her books via the links below.  Just click the picture link and it'll take you to each book's page.  Again, thanks for the read my glorious readers and til next time.
Book #1
Book #1.5

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Dragon Ball Fanboy vs. Akira Toriyama part 2: Exploring Concepts and Characters More Deeply

Okay, so they say that the devil is in the details (no not Dabura, or King Piccolo or even Spike the Devilman or Mr. Satan or...sigh Broly.)  Details essentially help us understand something better and make sense of the world.  In manga and anime, these details are often vital for understanding complex powers or situations.  People often complain about the exposition in anime and manga, but for shonen anime and manga, I find such exposition to be a part of the spectacle. It's enjoyable to learn the conditions and limitations of someone's abilities and how they cleverly use those abilities versus others.  The reveal is often a huge event worthy of weeks of hype.

So, what's up with the lack of details in Dragon Ball?  If you watch any other shonen anime, you get tons of details but not DB.  I believe that has to do with Toriyama's simplistic style.  He writes his stories on the fly and when you don't work with notes and carefully laid out plans then details simply become inconvenient.  I'm not trashing his style, because it's that same style that kept me glued to my T.V. every week waiting for a new episode.  But that style does have it's flaws.

Take Yu Yu Hakusho for instance.  It's a show very similar to DBZ in terms of action, but YYH takes its time to flesh out its character motivations, powers, and even world.  Overall I find YYH more enjoyable to watch than DBZ even though I'm a bigger DBZ fanboy.  YYH has multiple types of energy or ki for it's warriors to fight with and each warrior specializes in his/her own uses for it.  It's not all beams and fisticuffs there even though there's plenty of that too.  Sub characters are also given ample spotlight thanks to distinct motivations and abilities.  All the top shonen anime/manga nowadays delve fully into concepts that they've introduced and diversify and classify powers and abilities.  It keeps those shows fresh.  Look at One Piece, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Law of Ueki, and even *shudders* Bleach.

What does Ki do in the Dragon Ball universe? 

After watching the brilliant explanation and applications of Nen in HxH, I find the vagueness of Ki in the Dragon Ball universe more than a little disappointing.  Being a Dragon Ball fanboy, I know what it does.  It makes you stronger if you have more of it, but at this stage I think they should have someone break down ki and its uses in Dragon Ball Super.

Okay, so as I lifelong Dragon Ball fan, I know that ki:
  1. Raises your physical strength.
  2. Raises your speed.
  3. Raises your durability.
  4. Allows you to fire beams and other ki based projectiles.
  5. Allows you to fly.
  6. Allows you to detect other ki signatures.
  7. Allows you to feel the depth of a person's ki and positive or evil intent.
  8. Improves your vision or ki sensing.
  9. Allows you to mask your presence.
I only know this because I've watched every episode of mostly all the english dubs of DB and DBZ and the Japanese Dragon Ball Kai.  Coming in fresh, it's impossible to know that ki is the sole reason for all this.  I used to think that it was simply the characters doing all this because their bodies were strong, like Superman.  Even for us who've seen the show a million times, there's enough vagueness to allow us to interpret all of this how we choose.  In the show nowadays, if a person has more ki, they are simply better than everyone else.  No one specializes anymore, it's all about that vague concept of "strength" in Dragon Ball.  For instance, on Namek after Vegeta gets blasted by Krillin and gets his Zenkai boost, it's implied that he's become a great deal stronger simply because he can see Frieza's movements.  But the Zenkai boost only improved the amount of ki he could generate or did it improve his vision as well.  Did he train his senses as Krillin was blasting that huge hole in his stomach?  No, none of that is true.  The Zenkai boost simply made Vegeta strong, and if you're stronger in Dragon Ball that means you get better at almost all those categories above without any sort of specialization.


Super can incorporate fighter stats instead of power levels similar to Xenoverse.

I think having characters specialize in certain aspects of ki application is what can balance the show again.  Instead of having ki granting more of everything, how about we have characters choose to specialize in speed or power, or ki generation, or ki manipulation?  It's probably too late for the guys at the top to be affected by this, but if there's ever a show about a new generation then they should have specializations.  Otherwise the show will simply always be about "I'm stronger than you so I win."  That will get stale after a while unless the action and fight choreography improves in DBS.  If we're watching a straight up combat show then I need the action to match up.

My take: With Super, I'd introduce specializations into the mix to add strategy to it.  Like advantages and disadvantages.  I'd classify the different fighters.  Goku and Vegeta would be balanced types but you'd have others who specialized in beam attacks, others ball attacks, others fist fighting, others defensive fighting, power, speed, etc.  Certain types would be better at fighting other types.  Even balanced types like Goku and Vegeta would have specialties like Goku's beams or Vegeta's ball or kick attacks.  It would be the same fights DB is known for, but with an added strategic edge.


We need a definite reason for why the humans and Piccolo didn't learn this or we need to know if they did learn it at some point.  I mean, crap, why wouldn't they?  Same goes for the other techniques like instant transmission.  I know we want to keep everyone original, especially Goku, but why wouldn't these career martial artists seek out these powers?  IT I understand, but Kaioken was right at their fingertips.  Kaioken does nothing at this point of the show anyhow (unless you can raise it's level something crazy)

My take: Just give it to the humans.  After hearing of Frieza's imminent return, the Z humans return to Kaio-sama to gain techniques to stave off this pending invasion.  After a quick day long cram session they master the technique, showing that they are still capable fighters despite being so weak in comparison to current threats.  There's really no need to continue shitting on these characters.  Show them being useful and smart for once.  Afterwards have Piccolo train on Namek to learn some ancient Namekian powerup similar to Kaio-ken, but with fewer drawbacks.  Bam, now he and the humans are somewhat relevant again.  All Gohan has to do to keep his relevance is some pushups then he's back at his Buu Saga level which is damn impressive.

The Mystic Powerup

Just what the hell is it?  And why does Gohan keep losing it so often?  What is it in comparison to the god ki?  Can other people have this power drawn out of them?  Does the power have some divine nature to it.  Or is it just a pointless, ineffective plot device?

The Three Eyed Clan

Can we just put this one to rest?  Toei and Toriyama can let us know if they exist in canon or they can make a throwaway joke about it letting the fandom know that they never existed and Tien's power comes from his crazy genius potential for creating new techniques.  Tien has always been very interesting and his potential seemed to be on par with Goku's at the beginning.  What a shame that he suffered such character decay and with so many mysteries about him unanswered.

Dabura's Demon Realm

I would say more about this, but it appears that Xenoverse and (probably to a greater degree) Dragon Ball Online has made mention of and used characters from the demon realm.  Dragon Ball Online is canon as far as I know.  I'll just say that there's infinite potential to be explored here especially if some demons as strong as Dabura, if not stronger, reside here.  It'd be a great test for the non-saiyan Z-fighters.  Hell, even Gohan could possibly find a challenge here, or maybe a new cool ally for Goku and Vegeta or a demonic rival vying to be the Demon God of Destruction.  Ooh, maybe Piccolo trains here, the Makaioshin are direct rivals to the gods (Kais/Kaioshin) after all.

Those are just a few of the questions plaguing the minds of DB fans.  DB is strangely one of those shows with the largest amount of fan theories and speculation.  While this is fun to some degree, it's also painful because many of these curiosities can be easily put to rest with simple explanations.  The frustrating part in all this is when stuff like this is disregarded, thrown away, or simply forgotten about and no explanation was given to why it existed or its applications.  Kaioken, for instance, could've stuck around for a while thanks to its utility for characters without transformations.  It especially fit Tien, a character who already fights with heavy strain life or death techniques.  And considering that he trained with Kaio-sama longer than anyone else, it just doesn't make much sense for him not to know the technique.

Then there's stuff like why did Vegeta never go SSJ3, why his rage power boost as a SSJ2 put him over SSJ3 Goku against Beerus, this new Namekian Book of Legends, what happens to the Nameks absorbed by Piccolo.  There's also curious stuff that has no chance of getting mentioned in Super, like why was Piccolo able to make such crazy gains in the Frieza and Android arcs, but seemingly hit a ceiling in the Cell arc and beyond?  To their credit, Toei and Toriyama did at least go into why Vegeta has been inferior to Goku for so long.  That's important to know as a DBZ fan.  So I hope they continue this and start taking a magnifying glass to other parts of the show that could be easily expanded upon to the show of many lifelong fans.

If you guys have more of these, let me know so I can comment on them in the future.  So let's now move on.

Next post will be about the new transformations and the usefulness and cool factor of them all especially the new ones.  Til next time, peace!