Thursday, September 26, 2013


We here at GHPALS love our soldiers, seamen, airmen and marines of all genders, races, ethnic origin, etc, etc. Several of us are children of the military and have lost relatives to war.

And we love comics.

So help us in our new project: COMICS FOR THE TROOPS. We've put out  a box at our favorite store, Alakazam Comics, across the street from UC Irvine. When you buy your comics each week, pick up an extra and put it in the box. When it is full, we pick it up and send it off to our military in a far-away country. The last box went to Afghanistan, but we have troops everywhere. The next box might go to the middle of Africa.

How did we come up with this project? Well, like all good ones, it started with one person. An active member cleaned out her comic collection, deciding to keep only the ones she really, really liked. She could have sold them, but someone had told her about, where you could find someone in the military who wanted whatever you were giving away. Several wanted comic books, so she sent them off where they would be welcome.

She shared that story, and in the discussion we learned that several of us use AnySoldier to find ways to help. One mother told us her daughter sent 4 boxes of Beanie Babies to a nurse in Afghanistan who said she gives them to the local children she treats. Another saves all her Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines, and when a box is full she sends it off stuffed with snacks and good reading. Another buys paperback books at the Friends of the Library (Costa Mesa or Newport) Bookstores and sends them off.

The conversation wandered off onto the subject of the new DC comics (with the 3D covers) when someone had the bright idea for Comics for the Troops.

SO HELP US ENTERTAIN OUR SERVICE FOLKS and support a small business. Shop
Alakazam Comics and drop an extra book in the box.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Several of us signed up for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Contest, and our scribe's name was drawn. She was "selected to connect with a special group of sisters and read The Prayer Box early."

The book was written by Lisa Wingate, and five "sisters" share the book. The first name on the list is the Big Sister and received the book first. Our scribe was the second sister, and the book came in the mail the day she left for Comic-Con. Perfect timing.

Much of the fun of reading the book this way is you get to write comments in it. And you get to read the comments the your "older" sisters wrote in it. And sharing those comments and the book.

Our scribe had a 10:30 appointment at the Comic-Con blood drive, took The Prayer Box with her. Was she ever glad she did because she had 3 hours to read it. Yes, it took THREE Hours for them to take her blood. Of course the feeling one gets by helping others is priceless, but THREE HOURS?? .

But the best part, she said, was the book. She said she even got irritated when it was she reached the front of each line (and there were FOUR LINES to wait in to donate blood (and no cute vampires hanging around!) But The Prayer Box was the perfect book for waiting because she really cared about the main character, her children, the dead old lady and even the minor characters.

The swag given to blood donors, and The Prayer Book, by Lisa Wingate

The Prayer Box is set on Cape Hatteras after it was battered by a violent storm. Tandi snatched her two children out of their privileged but seriously constrained life in Dallas and ran as far east as she could, stopping before her hat floated away. Almost literally. She found herself renting a cottage on a big estate that has definitely seen better times. Tandi's parents were horrible parents and Tandi has repeated her mother's life choices several times, and really wants this time to be different. But she's latched on to a guy who seems like a repeat and her kids seem headed on the same path she walked as a child.

When Tandi finally checks on the woman who lives in the big house, she finds her dead body. She's asked to help clear out the perishables and finds a stash of beautiful boxes in which the dead woman had filed the prayers she'd written to her "Father" her whole life long.

The discoveries Tandi makes as she learns about her former landlady, and the lessons she learns from the good people around her, may change her life and those of her children. 

The story flows naturally and there isn't a false note among the characters. We all like the idea of putting prayers on paper as the act of writing helps clarify and concentrate one's thoughts.

There are some good lines in it, too. This one reminds me of the things my southern grandmother used to say, "You can dress a toad in lace, but the minute you let it go, it will still poop on the porch."

We wish we could see the book again after the other three sisters have a chance to read it.

And for those of you bag fans, the other side of the Warner Brothers bag in the photo is the Supernatural Hunter Checklist one. The blood drive gave her a Classic 60's Batman bag, but she traded it to a guy for the Supernatural one. He really wanted the Arrow one, and thought Batman made better trading material.

Gotta love the Con!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman? Or Is It?

It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman? Or Is It?

Who is Superman? Is he the brooding Batman-light Man of Steel or the heroic figure the geezers in the group remember from the original comic book? We here at GHPALS had a long discussion after members saw the film.

The Superman in this movie is absolutely not the hero of the original comic books. You might not even want to meet this guy. He's not interesting or particularly heroic. He's boring.

They need a reboot of the reboot.

Some Pals claimed the film tried to turn Superman into Batman. The two DC characters are very different, and were that way on purpose. Batman is all about being closed in: the bat cave, the bat car, cities with buildings so tall Batman works in tunnels. Superman is the hero of light and open sky. That's why the guy flies so much! Over fields and mountains. Wide open spaces. America! Yes he lives in a city, but so what. Clark was only following the migration of most young men who grew up on farms.

Another Pal argues that while that the filmmakers were trying to Batman-ize Superman, what they really did was turn Captain Kirk into Mr. Spock. The comic book Superman, like Kirk, always managed to find a way out of a dilemma; both characters were clever and smart and thoroughly self-aware, though Superman chose to hide it by pretending to be Clark Kent. That whole aspect of Superman's character is lost in this movie. And while Kirk lost a few crewmen along the way, his guiding principle was everyone gets back to the ship and the ship gets saved; Spock was perfectly happy with the omelet/eggs view of life: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." In the movie, Superman seems to have adopted that view as he destroys buildings (and presumably the people in them by the thousands), fighting Zod.

The basic problem with the Superman character is that nothing can ever hurt him, except the very rare kryptonite. This makes him a god in many ways, while Batman and Kirk are merely human; they can get hurt. They don't have super speed, so they can't be everywhere at once. They can't use their powers to control nature; Superman can. It's how Superman can catch a bus that's falling off a bridge and simultaneously use his super breath to blow river water on a fire. Superman is the ultimate multi-tasker who just has more tools in his toolbox than the rest of us.

Superman is the embodiment of what Americans liked to think they would be if they had super powers. As we know from all the ancient myths, super beings usually behave irresponsibly. They have to be taught how to behave, and must learn to accept the great responsibility that goes with those powers. The noblest gods protect people whose powers are less than theirs. That ethic, and the accompanying behavior, doesn't come naturally. Gods and children have to be taught, and every hero needs a mentor. Ma and Pa Kent, rock-solid All-American farmers, gave Superman/Clark Kent that education, grounding him firmly in "truth, justice and the American way." 

Kevin Costner, echoing his Field of Dreams persona, certainly doesn't mentor Clark. He's the worst kind of parent since he did not teach his child to accept and use his talents and gifts. Instead, he made his son afraid of them, and the people around him. How wrong is that? The movie's Pa Kent completely abrogates his primary responsibility as a parent. Once again, a movie purposefully destroys what were good parent role-models. Why is that? 

The geezers in our group point out that the original Ma and Pa Kent were older parents. That age brought maturity, and, presumably, wisdom. Growing up on a farm also provides lessons in the power of nature, and the fragility of life. Whatever their ages, Batman didn't have that stable parental influence. He saw his parents gunned down, and never got over it. A butler can never replace a father, no matter how good a man he is. He has reasons for brooding, though the geezers point out the original Batman didn't seem to spend a lot of time doing it; he was too busy.

We had members who wouldn't even see the movie. One Pal was immediately put off by the washed out colors, probably because the comics were so brightly colored. (During our discussion, other Pals said the colors matched the movie's tone, which the first Pal claimed was why she didn't want to see it.) Another Pal was turned off when she first saw the costume. What is it with that webbing? And why wasn't it basic colors? The original costume was made from Superman's baby blankets. This one looks like it was made from worn out clothes or cheap spandex.

Here are some other thoughts that came up during our discussion:
  • What's the obsession with meaningless destruction? It's boring and trite and stupid. One of our Pals fell asleep several times during the film.
  • CGI will not save a movie. The action was much more exciting in Fast & Furious 6.
  • The cinematography was awful. It felt like the camera wasn't stable. Oblivion was beautifully shot. This movie wasn't.
  • Ridiculous product placement was very distracting. One scene focused on Nikon camera far too long. Then there was iHop, UHaul, 7-11. Ugh!
  • The kelp babies on Krypton were ridiculous, and pointless.
  • Why did Russell Crowe keep coming back? He was dead! One after-death appearance, please. More than that is milking a star. (Than again, some of us point out, it's Russell freaking Crowe.)
  • It was just too long. Way too long. 
  • And Lois Lane as a redhead? Come on! Brunettes everywhere unite at this atrocity!
On the other hand, Gaeta got two legs again. (obscure BSG reference.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mesa Water District's New Logo

We here at GHPALS are an eclectic group, interested in a wide variety of things, and all things artistic. We have members who've lived here all their lives, and know a lot about what's gone on around here.

We've been following with great amusement the "rebranding" of Mesa Consolidated Water District to Mesa Water District. Some of the geezers in our group remember when it was called Costa Mesa County Water District. It changed its name in 1978 or so because it doesn't serve only Costa Mesa. It provides water to some parts of Newport Beach and unincorporated Orange County, but doesn't serve all of Costa Mesa; Irvine Ranch Water District serves some of the city.

Personally, we find the new name lame. Who does not think immediately of Mesa, Arizona, when they hear "Mesa Water District?" Apparently the word "Consolidated" was too dated. The district was formed in 1960 when several districts and the city water department joined together to create this new "consolidated" organization. A whole bunch of elected officials gave up their positions, voluntarily, when this happened.
Mesa Water District
We doubt that would happen today.

Anyway, apparently from what the newspapers are reporting, Mesa Water District tried to trademark their new logo, and failed.  We took a look at it from an artistic standpoint. Comments included "Trippy," "Lame" and "Where's the W or the D?" "Is it trying to look like a waterfall? We don't have  waterfalls here in town and the water coming out of my faucet doesn't look like that."

In other words, we were not impressed. They should have had a contest at the local schools or colleges instead of spending megabucks with unimaginative consultants. We have wonderful graphic arts departments at our high schools, and at Orange Coast College and Vanguard University. Too bad those kids didn't have a chance to show their stuff.

Comic-Con Badge Raffle

Well, your scribe will once again not be attending Comic-Con, though other members of the group will be. I'd hoped to get a badge in the latest opportunity, a raffle of the returned badges, but I lost out. Hopefully whoever won is someone who has not gone in the past and is thrilled to pieces that he/she has the chance now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Look Forward to the Next Tremaire Book by Naomi Novik

One of our members read an ARC (advanced readers's copy) of the next book in Naomi Novik's series about Tremaire, the Celestial dragon fighting with the British in the Napoleonic Wars.

And she likes it.

We've been Tremaire fans since we picked up a free copy of His Majesty's Dragon at Comic-Con in 2006. We met the author one year, and had our copy of her latest book signed after standing in a long line. Fans like us gave her enough readers that her books started coming out in hardcover.

We must confess we kind of lost interest when the series went to Africa. That seemed far-fetched to us.

But with Blood of Tyrants the series has regained some of its energy. The title that is apt because there's all kinds of tyranny cropping up in this book.Tremaire and Laurence are on their way to China, with an unforeseen side trip to Japan. There they pick up an outcast who will probably become a problem in a future book. They aren't in China long before they are on their way to fight Napoleon in Russia.

It is always interesting to see how the various countries treat their dragons, and how that treatment is a reflection of each country's culture. Trouble is definitely looming with the Russian critters.

We encourage our members to read the whole series.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Life, in a Jar

One of our members volunteers at the Newport Beach Friends of the Library bookstore and never works a shift without buying a book. Last time she came back with an old joke book.

As we laughed at the puns and riddles, we stumbled across this one, which is funny, and profound:

A professor stands before a philosophy class and picks up an empty mayonnaise jar. He then proceeds to fill it with golf balls and asks the students if the jar is full. They agree that it is. 

The professor then picks up a box of pebbles and pours them in the jar. He shakes the jar and the pebbles roll into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asks the students if the jar is full. They agree that it is. 

The professor next picks up a box of sand, and pours it into the jar. He asks once more if the jar is full, and the students agree that it is. 

The professor then picks up two cans of beer, opens them and pours them into the jar. 

“Now,” says the professor, “I want you to recognize the jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends. If everything else were lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else–the small stuff. If you put the sand in the jar first, there’s no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. 

And remember, no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers.” 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Supernatural Season 8

Some of our members think we need to do another post about Supernatural, the CW series so many of us love. Out only post on the show was critical of a book. And we are all fans, so we want to make that clear.

So, here's the consensus about Season 8. How can a series that has been on for 8 years continue to be so good? Good writing, good characters, good actors and a great crew given the freedom to make choices, both artistic and budgetary, that are in the best interest of the show, not individuals. The people who make this show understand their priority is entertaining the audience, and they do. And we here at GHPALS want to thank each and every one of them.

The final scene of Episode 23, with the angels falling to earth, was one of the most beautiful things we have seen on TV. What a way to end a season! Thank you, Supernatural!

Lots of fans harp about this decision or that, is Sam a wimp or not, why hasn't Dean done this or that this season. We don't. We think this season shows the "boys" are growing up. They have lost every patriarchal figure they've ever had in their lives. They are the patriarchs now, and it's beginning to sink in.

Dean is showing it more than Sam, as one would expect since the big brother is already a father-figure by definition. He has already rejected his father's version of paternalism and is forming one of his own. It's obvious in the way he treated Krissy, Victor, et. al. But it comes out most tenderly in Charlie's dream, and when he talks Sam out of completing the third trial. And Sam is mature enough to see the wisdom in Dean's words. When Sam was younger he would have argued and disdainfully ignored his brother. It takes true maturity to walk away from closing the gates of hell when one is as driven to fight as the Winchesters are. They are beginning to think about the future, something they never allowed themselves to do before.

Supernatural started out as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker fight monsters every week. Well, in the expanded Star Wars universe (some of which we hate), Han fathered a family and Luke revived the Jedi. (Then Lucas-world started a whole series of downer books that sent the Wars-verse down an incredibly dark, boring and stupid hole, but that's a whole other post.) The original Star Wars trilogy was positive and hopeful; Episode One was retitled The New Hope, for Pete's sake!

So here's how we hope the series ends:

  • The Winchesters revive the Men of Letters, bringing together Charlie, the various experts they have consulted through the years and their remaining Campbell relatives. 
  • Sam and Dean get married and have children who carry on the fight against all things evil. 
  • The Men of Letters destroy the Thule Society (everybody hates Nazis). 
  • Angels get their act together and figure out what God wanted them to do. 
  • Crowley gets to keep making deals, because, after all, what are humans if there isn't free will?

And we hope that between Season 8 and the Series Finale:

  • That every episode has good stories some funny lines, scary monsters, interesting sets and terrific special effects. 
  • That every person who worked on the series has a successful career and a happy life, repaying them for the pleasure they have given those of us who watch the show. 
  • And that Netflix puts the classic rock back into the Season One episodes they have online.

The Bookman's Tale, by Charlie Lovett

One of us was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of The Bookman's Tale, by Charles Lovett, and she just had to tell us how much she loved reading it. "one of those books you can't put down," was the cliche she used to describe it to us.

And after listening to her rave about it, we decided it deserved a place here. What can devoted readers, and committed Book Folks, want more than a well-written novel that has:
  • The Shakespeare-Bacon-Marlowe debate
  • Forgery
  • Ancient manuscripts
  • Book dealers and bibliophiles
  • True love
  • A longstanding violent family feud
  • Illicit sex
  • Mysteries
  • Murder
  • Redemption after tragic loss
  • People who find their passions and pursue them, successfully
  • In-laws who welcome you into the family
  • And, most importantly, characters you really, really care about!
She said the last book she felt so strongly about was EmilyArsenault's The Broken Teaglass. That too was a gem of a book. 

She can't share her advance copy, that wouldn't be ethical. So we've already pre-ordered it. It comes out next week, and we can't wait.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Newport Beach Film Festival

Well, its over. We were too busy volunteering to see any movies. But the ticket sellers among us said viewer demand was so high that extra screening were added for many films. Walking the Camino was shown 4 times! Touchdown Newport and Dusty's Trail were really popular with the locals. One of us even met Dusty and reported he was a very nice young man, with a family who really cared about him (the interaction among them in front of her was heartwarming, she said.)

We had a good laugh when one of us reported the water bottle giveaway at The Islands ticket booth. Ticket buyers come to the top of this big parking garage, surrounded by buildings. Many of them have wandered around trying to find us, unsure and uncertain because the Irvine Company will not permit the NBFF (or any other group) to put up helpful signs. Some people are exhausted by the time they reach the booth. The volunteers listen patiently, explain The Irvine Company policy, give the customer a ticket, then offer them an aluminum water bottle, courtesy of The Irvine Company, touting TIC's land preservation! What a hoot! But they are good bottles. And they were free.

There isn't space enough here to mention all the movies that were shown, but we here at GHPALS can tell our readers that if it is selected for the festival, it is a good movie. We are intimately familiar with the selection process and have enjoyed participating in it, so we know of what we speak. The Festival folks  have a process that assures every film gets a fair shake, and if it is good enough, it gets selected. Me, I like watching the shorts as I can do it whenever I have a break.

This year the NBFF seemed short of volunteers. Next year, all you out there on Goat Hill, sign up to volunteer. You can work at our very own The Triangle. All it costs is $5 for the volunteer T-shirt (this year a beautiful teal blue). You get discounted tickets for the films and the opportunity to interact with wonderful people. There's a great party when it's all over. You might even get discovered by a filmmaker.

Click here to get on their mailing list: NBFF Volunteer Information

Remember, FIVE of the films that showed at the NBFF went on to Academy Award nominations. Crash even won Best Picture.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Supernatural: War of the Sons (Based on the CW series)

Many of us love Supernatural on the CW, and one just finished reading a tie-in book War of the Sons by Rebecca Dessertine & David Reed.  She reports she enjoyed the story and the characters, but almost threw the book across the room a few times because it was so full of dumb mistakes that could easily have been corrected by a good editor.

The angel Abbadon sends Sam and Dean back to 1954 so they can acquire some Dead Sea Scrolls from an auction at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. This gives the authors a chance to contrast life in the 1950's with the Winchesters' life today. But they get a lot of it wrong, and it is grating. In the most egregious (and easy to have checked) example,  Don sent some other things back as well because a character draws the Arch to tell Dean she's going to St. Louis. But construction of the Arch started in 1963 (one of our member saw the photos her cousin took as it was built). We just checked her memory on Wikipedia, so the authors or editor could have done it as easily as we did. There are other painful errors that anyone who had stayed in a big fancy hotel in the 1950's would recognize (no ice machines then, or vending machines either. You want food or ice, call room service.)

Clearly the book was written by young people for other young people, and the publishers didn't believe it was worth investing in fact checkers for a genre book like this. But we suggest they have one of their older editors read such things in the future because it would have saved them a lot of embarrassment. The Arch error is ridiculous.

So the geezer in our group have now finished grousing about the stuff that drove her nuts, and calmed down enough to say what she enjoyed. She liked the premise that a demon was trapped in the  jars to protect the scrolls. She liked the characters, especially semi-clueless Walter and his daughter, Julia. And the demon-wife of Lucifer, Eisheth. Walter's plan to stop the Apocalypse was definitely in line with Spock's "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," but not with the Winchesters' "you don't kill fellow humans" philosophy. How Sam and Dean foiled it was clever and the ending was really satisfying. It fit right in Season 5, when the Winchesters were doing everything they could to avoid being Michael's or Lucifer's vessels.

So after all the discussion, the opinion was it was a pretty good book that could have been a lot better if a little more care had been taken with it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Missing in Machu Picchu by Cecilia Velástegui

We had never heard of Cecilia Velástegui before we attended the mystery authors panel at LiteraryOrange, but after reading her latest book, Missing in Machu Picchu, we are glad we did. She gave everyone who attended a copy and we thoroughly enjoyed it, though we didn't like everyone in it.

The story contrasts two old Peruvian/Incan women, Taki and Koyam, and a gaggle of American women who are "Ivy League educated" empty-headed morons. The setting is the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu. The villain is a self-deluded womanizing hunk named Rodrigo who Taki and Koyam know to be a complete scoundrel, and they decide to follow the Americans when they go off on a hike with him as their trail guide.

Taki and Koyam are wonderful. They are very different women but life-long friends who complement each other. Koyam is the keeper of ancient secrets, and uses that knowledge to help the Americans. Unfortunately, we all believed the women deserved everything that was about to happen to them. What a bunch of losers.

Why do we say that? Because most of these women are shallow, self-centered snobs. They stupidly believe an Ivy League diploma is a guarantee of superiority (they've obviously never talked to anyone outside their narrow circle of friends and acquaintances). And they are too dumb to detect a fake one. They came on this hike to break their habit of relying on online dating sites to find a man, though it isn't obvious why they think a strenuous hike in mountainous terrain in a totally foreign country will do that. They gripe when they don't have internet or cell phone signals. Each one of them is deluded enough to believe Rodrigo is their own personal replacement for the loser men they've been dating. Of course he plays on that perfectly, and because they are oblivious to everyone and everything around them, they can't see what would be obvious to someone who pays attention to their surroundings. We cheered when bad things happened to them.

We almost liked the woman who insisted the hike conform to the sales pitch, and who insists on taking the luxury train. Obnoxious as she was, at least she stood up for herself.

Taki and Koyam made the book. We decided people should read the sections about them, and skim the rest. And GoogleEarth the Inca Trail because it probably is a wonderful hike, if you go with a reliable guide.

Nancy Holder, Lisa Morton, Benjamin Kane Ethridge and Horror at LiteraryOrange

We all took a long break after the long, seemingly never-to-end campaign season that ran into Christmas that ran into the winter blahs. But around WonderCon we began to snap out of it, and the final straw was the great LiteraryOrange festival we attended on April 6.  There were probably 300 people there, most of them middle-aged women. A few men. Hardly any youngsters. The panels were eclectic and the whole event was fun.

The best panel was Horror: Dead and Loving It. What a line up! We were really excited to learn the panel included Nancy Holder and Lisa Morton. My daughter was a big Buffy fan (at 6 she was Buffy for Halloween, during its first season, when no one knew who Buffy was. She wore black clothes and a backpack with a bottle of holy water in it, and even carried a wooden stake she carved herself.) And we really enjoyed hearing from a newcomer (to us) Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

The panel members covered a wide variety of topics, including:

  • The decline of horror after the glut in the 1980's (does anyone still have their Goosebump books?)
  • How gore in movie released in the first decade of this century killed the word "horror" and no one wanted it associated with their movies
  • The affect of smart horror shows like Buffy and Angel and Supernatural, where the writing was never dumbed down. Supernatural is a horror show a week in itself (and who doesn't like those hot guys?)
  • The glut of vampire movies, books and TV shows. The panelists said vampire popularity seems to run in 20-year cycles.
  • zombies
  • The Horror Writers of America and the help it can give aspiring writers. Anyone can join and help support others, even if one doesn't write oneself.
  • The rise of self-publishing and the critical need for editing. How many of us have read books lately that cried out for editing: lousy punctuation and sentence structure, anachronisms (I threw a book across the room just yesterday for being so out of synch with the time in which it was set.), lack of continuity, misuse of words, etc.
We were really entertained by the writers' stories about writing. Nancy Holder watches a horror movie every morning to put her in the mood. When she first started writing she submitted articles to all kinds of obscure magazines, and collected rejection letters from all of them. Even from a magazine aimed at cement makers. But she explained there are all kinds of business-related reasons your submission might be rejected, and not everything is personal.

We also liked the reasons the writers gave for writing horror:
  • Mr. Ethridge said his horror books sold better than his fantasy ones. Horror is a unique genre where the author is trying to get an emotion from the reader: Fear. A romance writer is not trying to get the reader to fall in love.
  • Ms. Morton wanted to write horror ever since she saw The Exorcist as a child. She wrote screenplays until she decided she didn't want her name on lousy movies anymore.
  • Ms Holder started as a romance writers and found her readers loved Stephen King.
They also explained the actual work of writing is only part of the work. There's a lot of associated activities for which a writer does not get paid, like doing research and promotion.

Naturally we bought their books and talked to the authors after the panel. And I ran home and ordered Nancy Holder's Buffy: The Making of a Slayer. Too bad there weren't more people at the panel. The last time I saw Ms Holder at Comic-Con the lines to get her latest book were huge.