The Mask Behind the Mask: The Sunshine Blog Thingy, a J. A. Rama Exclusive

CURSES! I've been foiled into blogging by the queen of glitter and glam herself, Elaine Witt!

It is a rare and strange phenomenon that pulls reclusive J. A. Rama rabbit out of her dark cave. Behold, The Sunshine Blog Thingy has done so!

Rabbit of DOOOOM

So what is this fair creation, you ask?

1. I answer some simple questions about myself.
2. I write ten more questions and tag my fellow victims!

Beware, minions, I mean, gentle readers. You have been warned.

Here it is then, a random glimpse into that which is the human-shaped void bag filled with melancholy doom metal, rainbows in the dark, nightmare plot bunnies, nerdy gifs, and undead unicorns that is me!

Do I amaze you?

1. If you could cast the starring role in a movie loosely based on your life (only with dragons and pirates), who would you choose?

I thought long and hard about this one, and I finally settled upon my answer. It takes the courage of one hero to be the center. It takes the unsung sacrifices of many to help the hero succeed. I would like to memorialize he who becomes the Watson in a world of Sherlocks, the real behind the scenes badass.

My cabbages!
My cabbages!
My cabbages!
My cabbages!

My cabb- Oh, forget it!

May your cabbages live long and prosper.

2. Is the pen or sword mightier? Why?

A pen, because you can still stab you enemies with it then immortalize tales of their infamy...in their own blood. Can a sword do that?

3. You have to pick one food to eat, every day at every meal, for the rest of your life: what is it?

Natural peanut butter, no question. This stuff is magic, I swear. It's delicious. I don't eat meat, so PB is a good source of protein. I prefer the taste of natural PB, and an added benefit is that it doesn't have extra sugar and preservatives added, so it's nutritious!

4. You can relive one moment in time: when and why?

The moment when an idea shapes itself in my head, and it's perfect.

I love that I get to relive that moment many times, in many ways: dreams that are so real they need to be written down immediately, moments washing dishes when it all comes together, the rush of sitting back and realizing I've written two thousand words. It's all great in that blue moon when it happens.

I have ALL the bunnies.

The rest of the time, though...

I am also master of Tumbleweed.

5. What book have you re-read the most?

Whoo, that would be These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer.

Why yes, I AM a writer of science fiction and fantasy. So why does TOS make the top of the reread list?

Get ready for a monolith.

I have always loved books with good romantic plots. It doesn't matter if they are understated or more prominent, as long as they have depth enough to make it FEEL like the characters are perfect for each other, and aren't just slapped on to force them together.

These Old Shades has everything that I love in a romance. Great main characters who are flawed, but who grow together and who BELONG together by the end, accurate historical worldbuilding that grounds the story, great supporting characters, and a plot with multiple dimensions that doesn't depend solely on two people falling in love to push it along.

Solid characters you can't help but love, who leap off the page and exist in their own right without just being two-dimensional fleshbag surrogates for bad steamy scenes. Actual histories that aren't just contrived to push them together. Character development that never tells, or angsts, but gently says volumes without anyone saying a word, that gently lets out a word, a gesture, a look, carefully layered to show the characters growing into different, better people, growing together, and becoming perfect for each other.

Huh, I never realized that last bit, but it's true. Many stories attempt to show romance by building the perfect guy and girl and then throwing stones to keep them apart, OR building two completely disparate personalities who would never be together in real life and then shoving them together like a five year old playing Barbie and Ken, OR . Those things never happen in this book. At the beginning, the characters don't seem to belong together, and they really don't. The beauty is that they both grow, so they DO belong together by the end.

I really like that the characters are written so they actually conform to the nature and beliefs of the era they live in. They are certainly NOT your standard 21st century hunky and spunky pair.

Party like it's 18th century Europe!

Accurate history. A world that exists for its own sake, and isn't just an excuse for everyone to show off their corsets. This book isn't your run of the mill historical bodice-ripper romance. Georgette Heyer was THE expert on the Georgian era, so the book is packed full of historical detail so that the story is thoroughly grounded and you can FEEL the different time, yet all so masterfully woven in so it becomes part of the story without ever being an infodump. It's an intricately crafted work that reads simply, but packs in a ton of depth.

But oh no, it doesn't stop there. Many romances to me seem to be devoid of much depth beyond the bare bones necessary to get the MCs to bang, separate, then bang again happily ever after. This book has romance, intrigue, adventure, and a rich cast of characters who just bring this whole thing to life. This is Heyer, so of course nothing more than a kiss happens, but oh, the buildup to that kiss and the growing closeness of the two characters is just glorious!

Justin Alistair, the Duke of Avon, is the ultimate badass bad boy, and, as he would have it, the devil himself. Now, many books SAY that the bad boy is bad news, that he's beyond saving, but only show him moping around, or show that he really has a heart of gold, so that the readers love him. Not so here. Avon shows he's a terrible person right from the first page, and he owns it. Everyone knows it. Heyer makes sure WE know it. Yet, the magic of the story shows as he slowly changes, and you find yourself rooting FOR him.

Léon, the other MC, is a spunky ball of badass and adorable with understated (and the more impactful, for that) grim past, and the subject of the rags to riches plot. Léon ain't no damsel in distress. Léon needs a whole paragraph just like Avon, but this is all I can say for now, because I want to avoid spoilers.

The villain. Ohhhhh, the villain. Okay. One of the reasons Avon, who's a heartless bastard, comes across as sympathetic, is because the villain is an out and out scoundrel, and even if you know Avon is horrible, you completely empathize with his reasons for hating the villain. Again, I have to stop here because spoilers.

Also, the supporting cast. Each one may be a bit of a caricature, and you can certainly recognize 'types' that come up in other Heyer novels, but these characters are just perfect for the story. Each one of them has a role to play, each one is unique, and the story just wouldn't be the same without them.

I should say, this book actually has a squick list a mile long: vastly disparate ages, the, er, shifting relationship types between the two characters (that's as much as I can say without spoilers), and, er, the rather creepy way Léon worships Avon in the beginning and the way Avon accepts it (I can't say more because again, spoilers). It's certainly enough to put some readers off, but I've realized, since reading this book, that when handled the right way, any rules can be broken, and broken well.

As for me, if pretty much any other writer committed these crimes, I'd probably run away screaming. These Old Shades does it right. It's almost as if the characters themselves are aware of the readers' reaction, and themselves help to channel them into an alternate path that gently shows rather than tells why it may not be right for everyone, but it's perfect for the characters in question. The story itself, though real, reads almost as a fairy tale, which I think kind of helps.

Also, that climax, though. THAT CLIMAX. SO. GOOD. It is the single most chilling, most fascinating scene ever. If ever a character leapt out of space and time, even across the page, Avon did. Not only is his audience spellbound, but so is the reader. I won't give away what he did, but let's just say that it fills this writer's sour old heart with joy, and eyes with tears because it's just that badass.

I could go on forever. I really could. If you're looking for a romance that is unlike others though, I highly recommend Heyer. Perhaps this wouldn't be the best book to start out with, but I definitely recommend it.

Oh, did I mention, it's hilarious? ^_^

6. What never fails to bring a smile to your face?

Being around books. One time I was feeling really depressed, and I had a pile of books near me, so I just piled them around me like a book fortress. I instantly felt better.

7. Have you ever heard a song so sad or beautiful it made you cry? Please share.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.

To be fair, I was already feeling depressed about something at the time, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

November Rain by Guns 'N' Roses.

It was November. Someone close to me passed away. I couldn't listen to that song without tears for a couple of months after that.

8. Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook, or Blue Beard?

You need to ask?

Because Jack. <3

OH, you mean a different Captain Jack?

famous jack sparrow quotes
Because Jack. <3

Why yes, I'll take them both WHO SAID THAT.

9. Are you a truth, or a dare kind of person? Explain.

Truth. I'd rather rip my soul out and put it on display because I pretend to give no fucks, rather than risk painful physical injury because I'm cool like that. Am I a writer because I'd rather face an existential void than a real one? Really not going to think too much about her canon, where those sometimes become the same thing.

10. What’s your motto in life?

Que sera sera. That has been my motto for my whole life, which I just decided upon a moment ago. Why? I've had to cope with random things in the past few years, some good, some bad, some just...different. I've had to relearn the limits of what my body can and can't do. I've worried and been taken over with anxiety. The entire future is a heavy weight that's just waiting to crush you.

It doesn't have to be. I'm slowly learning that there are things I just can't control, so there's no use worrying about them. The human mind just can't take all that. What's gonna happen is gonna happen, and I'll face it when it does. In the meantime, sometimes it's enough to live life day to day, or even minute by minute, THEN look back and see how far I've come.

Just when you think you've figured out Thursdays...

There you have it, a look into the brain of J. A. Rama!

Apparently an infinite void within an infinite void.

Now, it's time for the moment of truth.

I tag YOU, Siana Blackwood and Misa Buckley!

Your questions are:

1. If you had to choose between being immortal or having power over life and death, what would you choose? Why?

2. What is your stupid superpower? Do you use it for good, evil, or chaos?

3. If you had to choose between going on a date with the Doctor, Sherlock, or the Winchester boys, who would you pick and why?

4. What is one book you would recommend to pretty much everyone? Why?

5. What place do you feel most comfortable being yourself? Why?

6. If you could augment one body part however you wanted, what would it be and why?

7. Deep space or deep ocean? Why or why not?

8. What is your favorite writing weather? Why?

9. Unicorn or dragon?

10. What is your go to writing music that never fails to inspire you? Share!


New Old ReLife'd UnDead Blaargh!

Yes, the tales are true.

God of Ephemera is gone, but not forgotten. All the old posts are still up, but it has been Re-Life'd into what you see here, Phractal Reality. It's all part of my efforts this year to get more involved in my neglected social media presence, and the fact is, I created God of Ephemera back before I even knew what I was going to write about on my blog, even before I became a writer. I'm still not ready to have An Author Blog, so Phractal Reality will still be my personal blog, where I mostly write about Writerly Things, cake, metal, and books. 

So what's with the name? 

Phractal Reality derives from the canon of Deus Ex Machina, the world of the very first novel I ever wrote. That text has been trunked, but the characters stuck around in my head. I intend to go back to it one day. ONE DAY! The story is set in a series of worlds nested within each other as virtual or sub-realities between which the characters can travel, so...phractal reality. I had to mess with the spelling a bit to get a unique name. Boring, I know.

Re-Life is one of Deus Ex Machina's versions of necromancy, which is licensed by a galactic corporation of the same name. They resurrect people who have just died by granting them immortality in a sub-world as digital incarnations of themselves. 

Anyway, stay tuned. 

I may still post at a glacial pace, but I hope now I will actually have a pace.