Not watching CBC's Strange Empire? Well, you should be. Here are 9 reasons to watch:

1. It's about women. Strange Empire's is about how women in a tough situation survive and thrive without their men, and the lengths they'll go to to protect what they hold most dear.

2. It's about women in the Wild West. Most Westerns focus on men, the West being a rich source of hyper-masculine tropes and stereotypes. Women are rarely more than bit players in these tales, as fallen women with hearts of gold, innocent schoolmarms, rich trophy girls or down-home ranchers' wives. And while there are certainly many of these archetypes in the show, we get to see them all fleshed out with agency of their own.

3. It's about women in the Wild West of Canada. More specifically, the border area between Alberta and Montana, an area rich with history and a diverse blend of cultural groups all struggling under harsh conditions. One of the most taut episodes this season addressed racial tensions with far more realism and directness than many other Westerns have. And few (if any) have been set in this particular region.

4. It's got women of color in diverse lead roles. Cara Gee plays Kat Loving, a tough-as-nails Métis rancher with a questionable history searching for justice for her husband while keeping her adopted family safe. Tattiawna Jones plays ruthless and conflicted con woman Isabelle Slotter whose power plays could give Cersei Lannister a run for her money. And Melissa Farman plays the mildly autistic Rebecca Blithely, a brilliant medical savant tied to a man who sees her only as a genius curiosity.

5. It's a Canadian production. Support great programming and great Canadian talent on CBC!

6. It's "Deadwood light". I loved Deadwood. The first two seasons of it, anyhow. But the HBO series failed to address many of the issues Strange Empire tackles head on, with all the grit and grim peril of the HBO series. Strange Empire manages to tell good stories at its own pace. Plus you don't have to listen to Ian McShane swearing all the time.

7. Aaron Poole: There's something too greasy about him to like, but too broken to hate. As the ruthless and felonious Captain John Slotter, you can't help but love to hate him. Or possibly hate to love him. I'm undecided which.

Tahmoh Strange Empire8. Tahmoh Penikett: He's made an appearance in 2 episodes so far. I hope he comes back for more. I always said he'd look in cowboy gear, He proved me so right.

9. Strange Empire is available free to stream on the CBC website! It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST.



It’s Halloween... Are you looking for a costume to show off ALL... of your awareness of the commercial sexualization of a pagan holiday?


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So I'm really into Doctor Who right now.

I mean REALLY into it.

Oddly enough, the question "Where have you been all my life" is one that can be answered: on TVO after Polka-Dot Door. I used to shut the TV off as fast as possible when that terrifying theme music started.

With the "new" series (which started in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor) I don't know how I've gone this long without watching it, considering my previous love affairs with Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and assorted other genre TV shows.

Engaging in a new fandom does crazy things to you:

You start to see references everywhere and find out who else is into your fandom.


You start to quote things from the show.


You laugh at things only other fans would get.


You collect pins on Pinterest. (It's currently my most populated board, with over 200 pins.)


You make crafts...

Sadly, not bigger on the inside.
Sadly, not bigger on the inside.

...and you Photoshop your own jokes. TENNANT parking only


You watch anything and everything associated with show, including symphonies, webisodes, parodies, fan-made videos, blooper reels, behind-the-scenes extrasconvention panelsinterviews, and whatever this is...

...and you pick up shows that your favorite Doctor (or other characters) happen to be on, even if they're remakes of shows they've already done on the BBC.


You write fanfic.

This, I'm sure, was their actual reaction.
This, I'm sure, was their actual reaction.

And you dress up and go to fan events.



And when a new episode is on, you experience a joy like no other.

Happy Dance!


This is all a long way of saying...

Doc 10 should be writing

Dear Reporters covering the Romance Writers of America's National Conference,

The Romance Writers of America is hosting its annual conference this week, from July 23-26 in San Antonio, Texas. We know you enjoy covering this event. And those of us in the romance publishing industry love having the spotlight on us. It's a fun story for the summer, and with all the horrible things going on in the world right now, I know this piece of eye candy is much-needed mind sorbet for your readers, listeners and viewers.

That said, I am asking for a moratorium on certain words and phrases too frequently used in reference to romance books and romance writers. While I appreciate not everyone has the same tastes and that your story may only be a fluff piece, romance writers and readers are sick of hearing particular words which have historically been used to denigrate and marginalize our chosen genre.

Not only are these words and phrases overused, they're cliches, and will make you, the reporter, look lazy in your own writing. So eliminate them!

1. "Bodice ripper": this is a term developed in the 70's and 80's when historicals were popular. Today's romances include so much more than Regency-era stories—paranormal, contemporary, romantic suspense, inspirational, erotic romance...please, do your research and take this term out of your romance vocab right away.

2. "Not your mother's romance books": this phrase has no relevance or meaning. Mothers who read romances likely passed down their favorite books to the younger romance readers in their families, inspiring a whole new generation of readers. If you mean to say that levels of sensuality are different from decades previous, then you might want to look a little more closely. Sensuality levels still vary widely book to book, subgenre to subgenre. I guarantee that Fanny Hill (1748) is still much raunchier than any inspirational Christian romance I've ever read.

3. References to Fifty Shade of Grey in either the pejorative or as the superlative example: yes, the movie is coming out soon. And while writers appreciate the success of Fifty Shades, erotica and erotic romance has been around for a long time. Why not look up Sylvia Day, Tiffany Reisz, or Megan Hart? (Note: yes, there is a difference between erotica and erotic romance. Learn it.)

4. "Formula": I've written about the F word before. Romance has often been labelled "formulaic", and yet all fiction is built upon an established guideline for storytelling. If you have to use a word, use framework.

5. Any suggestion that only single, desperate women read romances or lonely housewives or have impossibly standards for their men: No. Just no. Readers get enough flack in public when people on the bus look over their shoulder and say "Oh, you're into THAT, are you?" Yes. We are. Just as I'm sure those judgey types are into murdering young women and burying their bodies in the forest, like in that thriller they've got tucked into their pocket. Romance readers are educated, earn incomes, have families, and strive like anyone else for balance in life. Don't be a douche and paint us with that wide stereotyped brush. Otherwise you'll make us think all reporters are...well, we can leave that. Because you know what people think of your kind, right?

6. "Heaving bosoms": yes, we know the conference is largely attended by women. We have breasts. They heave sometimes because we love what we read, or we're out of breath because we're trying to up the counts on our Fitbits. Your mother has breasts, too. So does your dad for that matter. You probably spent the early years of your life smushed up against them, or possibly feeding from them. Keep that in mind and please, don't use this cliche to describe conference attendees.

7. Purple prose: romance writers actually try to avoid this as much as possible. And so should you. Failure to avoid purple prose only makes us believe you actually yearn to join us in writing romance...and we'd welcome you with open arms and heaving bosoms if that's what you want to do. If not, then please, for Elmore Leonard's sake, drop the frills.

 8. "Harlequin" used as a generic term: my personal pet peeve since, full disclosure, I work there full-time in addition to writing for them—Harlequin Enterprises is a company, and is probably best known for their romances. But not all romances are from Harlequin, obviously.

9. Fabio: don't get me wrong. Everyone loves Fabio. He has a special place in romance book lore, but like Fifty Shades, he is not the be all and end all of hero archetypes. We're all different women. We all like different kinds of men and women.

Hey, I get it. With this wealth of colorful material surrounding you, how can you resist the glistening muscles of male cover models attending as guests? How can you not comment on the pageantry of romance writer prom?

Well, do. But do so respectfully. If you find yourself snarking more than smiling, looking down your nose because you think these women can't find real jobs or can't find a man because you think they have impossibly high standards, you picked the wrong story assignment. And we'll know it. Don't be that guy.

By refraining from using any of these phrases while reporting on the conference, you'll help dissolve a long-held bias against readers and writers of genre fiction for women. And you'll also earn the respect of millions of smart, social-media savvy women.

Thanks, reporters.

Respectfully yours,
Vicki Essex

Tonight could lead to my biggest giveaway ever!

UFC champion Ronda Rousey fight's Canada's Alexis Davis tonight at UFC 175. While I don't have favorites, I gotta cheer for the hometown girl, and I hope my fans will, too.

So here's the deal: if Alexis Davis wins tonight, I will give away 10 copies of IN HER CORNER to anyone who posts a comment on this blog entry!

For now, though, enter to win one signed copy on my Rafflecopter giveaway: it's on my Contests page, too.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And check out the UFC's Countdown to UFC 175: Ronda Rousey vs Alexis Davis:



I’ve previously blogged about the Avengers and their suitability in bed: now it’s time to get *snikt snikt* X-TRA KINKY!

(Note: I know, I didn't list them all, but I can only stretch my imagination so far...)

wolverine-x-men-days-of-future-past-bone-claws1. Wolverine
Played by: Hugh Jackman
Mutant powers: superfast healing, Adamantium skeleton and retractable claws
Let’s face it. The guy never ages, he’s got muscles bigger than your head, and if you’re into BDSM, he heals instantly. Your only challenge would be keeping up with him. And he’s Hugh freakin’ Jackman. Even if the mutton chops and claws don’t do it for you, Hugh’s singing might.

xavier magneto bed2. Younger Magneto/Younger Charles Xavier (ménage)
Played by: Michael Fassbender/James McAvoy
Mutant powers: ability to manipulate metal/world’s greatest telepath
You might think it’s somehow unfair to tag team these two in a battle for bedroom dominance, but when I see these hotties on screen together, it’s like being presented with two cupcakes and being told I can only take one bite. Naturally, I smash the two cupcakes together and shove the whole mess in my mouth. Fassbender’s cold conviction as Magneto is tempered by McAvoy’s softer but equally as intense Xavier. These two sizzle on screen. Throw in some silk sheets, maybe a pair of plastic (nonmagnetic) handcuffs and you know there’ll be fun times ahead.

xmen-days-of-future-past-poster-mystique3. Mystique
Played by: Jennifer Lawrence
Mutant Powers: shapeshifter, superagility, superhealing
Guys. She can turn into anyone. Anyone. That means anyone on this list is fair game…unless she kicks you in the head first.


Nicholas-Hoult-as-Hank-McCoy-in-human-form4. Younger Beast
Played by: Nicholas Hoult
Mutant powers: superagility, superstrength, high intellect, some monstrosity
I’m not wild about bestiality, but I do love me a brain. As non-blue-furred Hank McCoy, I’d be hard pressed not to lead this nerdy cutie off on a leash. Surely someone who can hang upside down from the ceiling by his toes can provide some interesting evening entertainment?

Xmen-Days-of-Future-Past-Fighting-Professor-X5. Older Charles Xavier
Played by: Sir Patrick Stewart
Mutant powers: world’s greatest telepath
First, I don’t think Patrick Stewart has aged at all in the past 20 years—there’s probably a holodeck program somewhere of him getting older. Second, he’s a telepath. He could do anything to your brain—set you in an exotic locale, make himself look like anyone you wanted. He wouldn’t have to touch you to blow your mind.

Least Doable X-Men

anna-paquins-rogue-cut-from-x-men-days-of-future-past-151697-a-1387632295-470-751. Rogue
Played by: Anna Paquin
Mutant powers: absorbing the powers and life force of anyone she touches
It’s not that I don’t like her, or think she’s ugly anything like that. But her mutant power pretty much says it all; if I even touched her, I’d be dead, or maybe I'd end up looking like a shriveled condom drying out in the sun.

james-marsden-and-x-men-profile2. Cyclops
Played by: James Marsden
Mutant powers: optic blasts from his eyes
The ongoing joke I have about James Marsden is that he always plays the other guy. If (God forbid) they remade Casablanca, Marsden would play Victor Laszlo. They should make another superhero movie and cast him as Cockblocker, whose superpower is to be the jock boyfriend to every relationship. Cyclops is a cutie, sure, and leader of the X-Men, but let’s face it, he’s no Wolverine, and he seems to perpetually get the short end of the stick.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Quicksilver-889x10243. Quicksilver
Played by: Evan Peters
Mutant powers: superspeed
Aside from the fact that he’s a minor, something tells me this kid would literally last a fraction of a second. And yet, I still ranked Cyclops as less doable.

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Bolivar-Trask4. Dr. Bolivar Trask
Played by: Peter Dinklage
Mutant powers: none (human genius)
Okay, so technically, he's not a part of the X-Men, but c'mon. Peter Dinklage. And yes, I would do him over Cyclops.


X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-character-photo-Ian-McKellen-as-Magneto5. Older Magneto
Played by: Sir Ian McKellen
Mutant powers: master of magnetism
With all due respect to Mr. McKellen, whose talents I revere, boinking older Magneto would be exhausting (if he was a child during WWII, he'd be about 80 now). But I’d still do him over Cyclops.

Honorable mentions (for the underused X-Men)

Played by: Omar Sy
Mutant powers: energy absorption and redirection
Only Thor can wear a cape as well as this guy does, but Bishop has dreadlocks. He may not have had much of a role in the film, but I’d totally hit that.

Played by: Daniel Cudmore
Mutant powers: ability to transform body into organic steel; superstrength,
Look at him. I mean, look at him. Seriously, can we say “hard as steel” like *that* (snaps) about any of the other X-Men?

Played by: Halle Berry
Mutant powers: weather control
So Storm’s one of the most powerful X-Men out there and was played by an Academy Award-winning actress…yet they couldn’t give her anything interesting to do over 7 movies. Pity boink?

X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-Kitty-Pryde-812x1024Kitty Pryde
Played by: Ellen Page
Mutant power: can phase through matter
Another wonderful character played by a fantastic actress, and yet they replaced her crucial comic book role in the Days of Future Past storyline with Wolvie. A tendency to become incorporeal might be problematic during coitus.

Played by: Shawn Ashmore
Mutant power: creates and manipulates ice and water
Adorable Canadian actor; could make all my drinks cold instantly. But I think I friendzoned him in the second film.